“The Space Between Words” by Michèle Phoenix ~ A Review

I have been a huge fan of author Michèle Phoenix ever since I read her phenomenal Of Stillness and Storm.  (In fact, that was one of the best books I read during the last year.)  So when Netgalley offered me the chance to read this author’s newest book, The Space Between Words, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!

 

 

 

The story

Jessica is an American living in France, working alongside her employer Patrick and fellow employee Vonda.  (The trio are also platonic roommates.)  Patrick owns the Denver, Colorado boutique Trésor, which is filled with (as you’d guess) treasures from Europe.  “Picking chiner,” as it’s defined in France, is Patrick’s joy and métier.  He drives around France’s rural areas and purchases things which aren’t valued by their owners but which make his store a beloved stop by fashionable Americans.  The three agree to head to France together for store shopping.  Patrick speaks French, and Jessica envies his easy friendships and rapport with the French.  On the trio’s last day in Paris, they decide to do some sightseeing and art-viewing.  But Vonda is offered free tickets to a concert that evening; a death metal band, which isn’t really Jessica’s thing (nor Patrick’s, as he heads off to le musée).  The next day they will head off to search for treasures in the country.

But the evening doesn’t go as anyone expects.  Vonda and Jessica are headed to the Bataclan, where three terrorists will open automatic rifle fire and kill 70; and injure many more.

Jessica wakes up in the hospital, wounded, and broken in her spirit.  She plans to leave immediately to go back home to Colorado.  Vonda, uninjured, isn’t much help; but dear Patrick is supportive, kind and consoling.  He works and works to convince Jessica to go with him on their country treasure hunt.  Paralyzed by fears brought on by the attack and injuries made by a bullet, she is hesitant to agree.  But finally, when she’s released from the hospital, they begin their journey and head to a charming inn in the south of France.

As they’re poking around the countryside, the pair finds a barn filled with an amazing collection of furniture, junk, and dusty objects.  Jessica happens onto a collection of ancient hidden letters; and, reading them, enters the story of  persecuted Huguenot Christian Adeline Baillard.

But there are mysteries ahead for Jessica that she cannot even imagine.  Is she in a ghost story?  What is really going on in this journey she’s undertaken after the Bataclan attack?  Is there love and hope ahead for her?

 

In closing

I will honestly pick up ANYTHING by author Michèle Phoenix.  Her writing and perspective captivated me from the first moment I picked up one of her books.  The Space Between Words is a timely, engaging story of the terrors and struggles that we face today, juxtaposed with the ones that Christians faced hundreds of years ago.  It turns out that our desire and fierceness to survive aren’t all that different after all.  Check out The Space Between Words….and everything else you can find by Phoenix!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

I received a digital e-reader copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for this review.

 

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“Holiday Cookies” ~ A Review

Are you always looking for fun and different cookies you can make in December for the holidays?

I admit, I am.  We make biscotti every Christmas…but often we’ll search for something different or unusual that we haven’t made before.  We love making spritz cookies (the cookie press is so fun to use) but I’m often disappointed by the bland flavor.  We like making sugar cookies, especially multicolored ones that you roll up.  But what else is out there?

 

 

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies has tons of holiday cookie options—many of which I’d never even heard of before!

 

What will you find in Holiday Cookies?

Food stylist and professional recipe developer Elisabet der Nederlanden is a resident of Berkeley, CA, but was born in and grew up in Sweden.  She learned to bake as a child and worked in a bakery as a teen.  She loves decorating for Christmas (and all its associated celebrations, like St. Lucia Day) and baking wonderful cookies and treats.  So, she brings her love and experience with baking and goodies to this book, which truly is a labor of love.  She searched out, prepared, and selected 50 unusual and delicious cookies whose origins are from countries all over the world.

What I really love about this cookbook is that you’ll find the usual suspects of Christmas cookies (like bark, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies) but they are livened up with gorgeous decorations, unusual flavors, and unexpected tweaks that make cooking, and decorating, more enjoyable and fun.  The pictures are absolutely breathtaking and they WILL make you want to scurry to the kitchen and bake!  It’s also written in a lovely conversational manner that will make you feel as though der Nederlanden is sharing her fabulous cookie wisdom with you.

 

 

She begins with cookie-baking and decorating tips (including a great section on royal icing, which makes rolled cookies so beautiful), helpful ideas for shipping cookies and storing them.  And then the fun begins!  Der Nederlanden has divided her book into 6 sections with 8 recipes each:

  • Very Merry Classics (with gingerbread cookies, black and whites, Red Velvet Crackle Cookies, stenciled shortbread rounds)
  • Cookie Exchange Party (where you’ll find Bejeweled Chocolate Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Red-and-White Meringue Kisses and more)
  • Warm Holiday Spice (which includes Saffron Pistachio Biscotti, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers, and Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam)
  • Around the World (Swedish Pepparkakor, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and other fun recipes)
  • Holiday Confections (with goodies like Apple Cider Caramels, Matcha Chocolate Bark with Berries and Coconut, and Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle)
  • and finally, Decorated Delights, where the author shares recipes for cookie ornaments, Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies, Stained-Glass Snowflakes, and even a Gingerbread House

The recipes all seem to be well-researched (and tested) and the directions are very clear and easy to follow.  (Of course you’ll still want to read through the cookie recipes before you prepare them; some of them have ingredients that you might not have on hand.)

 

Our favorites

We LOVE Swedish Pepparkakor.  The St. Lucia celebration is so beautiful, and pepparkakor cookies are served then.  The cookies are crisp and carry ginger and cloves (and of course, a bit of pepper).  I don’t have der Nederlanden’s fun goat and pig cookie cutters, but we do have lots of others!

I like the saffron biscotti recipe as well.  It is beautiful and colorful, thanks to the saffron, which I’d never have imagined as a biscotti ingredient!

Other favorites include the Minty Spritz Cookies (I told you I needed a good spritz recipe!), the Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies (although honestly my hand doesn’t have beautiful cursive handwriting with icing!), and the Citrus Sugar Cookie Ornaments.  So many fun recipes to add joy to Christmas celebrations!

More about the author:

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s website

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

“Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer” Review & Giveaway

Do you ever feel as though you need a new way to approach prayer?  Author Jeannie Blackmer did, and out of that came her new book Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network generously sent me not only a copy to read and review myself, but one to give away to a reader!

 

 

So, about prayer…

What does prayer look like for you?  I’m a morning person, and I’ve always thrived on an early morning quiet time when I can have some time in the Bible and in prayer (along with a cup of coffee, of course!).  That was a great way for me to start my day when I was single and working, and it’s just as good for me as a wife and mom.  Especially as a homeschool mom; having that time of peace, God’s Word, and time with Him helps me to stay on track and get going in the right direction each day.  (And, I hope, staying the course throughout that day!)

Our family has been through a lot in the past few years, including job challenges, surgeries, and most recently, the chemotherapy treatments I had following my May 1 surgery.  And I noticed recently that my prayers had just been knocked down to the bare bones.  It’s not that I WASN’T thankful for God and His character, and His love.  But I was urgently pleading and asking for the help I so desperately needed without focusing on thankfulness, praise, and worship.  It looked a lot like, “help, help, HELP!”

 

Author Jeannie Blackmer

And about Talking to Jesus…

Also recently, I was given this meaningful book,  Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer.  Something that author Jeanne Blackmer experienced when her children became teens was that she desperately needed to find a way to pray deeply for them…to change the focus and perhaps the nature of her prayers.  Blackmer was inspired as she looked through Scriptures and found other parents coming to Jesus with their needs about their children…their loved ones…and themselves.  Out of this, the wonderful Talking to Jesus was birthed and written.  In 21 chapters, we meet 21 different people or groups of people who encountered Jesus (plus a few preceding and closing chapters).  While staying faithful to the Scripture accounts, Blackmer has written about what the characters might have been thinking or feeling as they ministered (the disciples); as they came to Jesus with a huge request (like the Canaanite woman, or Jairus, or the woman who’d bled for 12 years), or as they lived and struggled (the blind men or the scribe).  I loved this!  I am a person who loves and finds meaning in story, and by adding story to the lives of these real Biblical men, women, and children, Blackmer is able to take us into what the characters might have experienced….and help us to see how those feelings aren’t so (if at all) different from our own.  Here’s a sampling of some of the Biblical characters whose experiences with Jesus are explored here:

  • The Centurion
  • The Paralytic and His Friends
  • The Ruler (a.k.a. Jairus)
  • The Bleeding Woman
  • The Disciples (in various situations)
  • The Blind Men
  • and more!

Blackmer concludes each chapter with three very good–and very impactful–sections.  First, there is her Personal Response portion, where she talks more about what we can glean ourselves from the Bible account, and some specific things she noticed.  She concludes these sections with gentle encouragements and exhortations for the reader.  Second, there is a Reflection segment, which includes pertinent Bible verses (with both the verse itself and its address printed out); further nuggets from the Word of God that will draw the reader closer into the arms of God.  And third, is a place for the reader’s own Observations.  Here are spots where we can write about our responses to Jesus’ experiences and invitations, or prayers for the ways we’d like to move forward.

 

What this book has meant to me

So I mentioned earlier that my prayer life had been, for quite a few months, in sort of a crisis mode place.  I knew that I needed the help that only God could give me.  And I was definitely desperate enough to ask, and keep asking, for it.  During my chemotherapy journey there were a lot of moments of amazing provision…and absolute hilarity…and faith and trust.  But there were also fear and pain, which kept driving me to God for His help.

I’m so thankful that we’re past the chemo now.  I am feeling better and more energetic every month.  But I’ve noticed that there can be more to my prayer times now.  After all, I’m in a relationship with God; and any relationship has got to be about more than the things one person needs from the other.  Reading and working through Talking to Jesus has been a rich, lovely experience that has opened my eyes to some wonderful things, like who God is; how He loves me; and how readily He stands to be in relationship with me.

As I read Talking to Jesus, I was encouraged to place my own name–and myself–in one of the stories.  You can probably guess which one was deeply meaningful to me!  It was Blackmer’s chapter on The Bleeding Woman.  The woman who was desperate–really desperate–for healing.  She believed that Jesus might be the one who could help her.  And He did!  She reached out and touched his garment.  Not even his hand or his leg…but the fabric of his robe.  And He noticed!  He turned, and asked who had touched Him…and, knowing she’d been found out, she came forward.

As an “unclean” person, she shouldn’t have even have been in a crowd of people in Israel.  Her very presence or accidental touch of another person would have transferred (albeit temporarily) her uncleanness to that person.  And yet Jesus didn’t say, “Get away, you’re dirty, you’re going to taint us.”

He called her “Daughter.”  Beloved girl child.  Wanted.

And then, He told her that her faith had healed her!

What an incredible moment.  I’ve loved it for years, ever since a favorite pastor taught on Jairus (and his own desperation) and the bleeding woman.  But never, in all those years, did I see until I read Blackmer’s retelling, how very deeply Jesus loved and valued the bleeding woman.  And how very deeply He loves and values us.

Wow!  What a moment.  And what a book.

 

And your chance to win!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has given me a copy of Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer to share with one reader!  Let me tell you, whether you use this book in a devotional fashion, or just read it in huge chunks, you will be blessed and encouraged.  Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, and you’ll be taken to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you can enter to win this for yourself.  Giveaway closes December 18, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, we at finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

 

The Beautiful ESV “Illuminated Bible (Art Journaling Edition)” ~ Review & Giveaway

Have you ever marveled at the illuminated Bibles or Books of Hours lettered and painted by monks during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance?  These gorgeous works of art use vivid paints and gold leaf to bring letters and Biblical scenes to life.  We can see these today in museums, books or online…but how would you like to own your own copy of today’s version of an Illuminated Bible?

 

 

Today, I’d like to share with you about the ESV Illuminated Bible.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me my very own copy (free!) to use and review, and they’re also going to be giving a copy away to one of my readers in a giveaway!  Keep reading to learn more and to enter to win!

 

What is the ESV Illuminated Bible?

First and foremost, it’s the complete Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) in the English Standard Version (ESV).  Housed in a slipcase, this hardback Bible is navy cloth over board.  Inside, its smooth, cream-colored pages contain the Scriptures in clear, readable font.  Each page has wide margins.

But then, there’s enormous visual beauty on many of the pages.  The ESV Illuminated Bible is illustrated and lettered by artist Dana Tanamatchi.  The illustrations include:  beautifully hand-lettered Bible verses (over 250 of them in page margins), 50 full-page verse illustrations; 64 full-sized book opener illustrations; and over 100 additional illustrations.  All of these are lettered and designed in gold.

But this Bible is not only designed to bring beauty to the reader’s eyes and Scriptures to the mind and heart.  The wide page margins provide space for the reader to journal and take notes…but also to create art!  Tanamatchi’s verse and book illustrations can be left as-is or the reader can color them in.

One additional bonus that I discovered as I was turning the pages of the ESV Illuminated Bible was that the illustrator, Dana Tanamatchi, included an illustration key for the book opener illustrations.  I personally love to study art and to discover artists’ motivations for their artwork.  Tanamatchi’s musings on her artwork made the lovely artwork even more meaningful to me, as I discovered that she’d illustrated Revelation with a door (reminding us of Revelation 3:20); 2 Peter with lanterns (for the prophetic word “as lamps shining in a dark place), Psalms with a deer (as the deer pants for the water), and so many more wonderful “Word” pictures.

 

How I used the ESV Illuminated Bible

I love Bible journaling; the practice of thoughtfully illustrating Scripture verses.  I find that the process is peaceful and restful for me, plus there’s the additional bonus of the Scripture coming alive even more as I color and illustrate it.

For Bible journaling, I’ve used tempera paint sticks, colored pencils, and art pencils.  With this Bible, I found that coloring pencils worked the best.  The pages are on the thin side so the pencils don’t bleed through very much.  I appreciated that because I still want to be able to read the Scriptures on the back sides of the illustrations!

I used three different types of coloring pencils; art pencils, Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, and Crayola Twistables.  Of the three, the art pencils and the Twistables were most effective.  For some reason my erasable pencils didn’t lay the color down as well.  The beautiful cream-colored pages might have been just a little slick to take the erasable ones.  But the art pencils (think Primsacolor-type pencils) and the Twistables created beautiful effects.   The colors did mostly turn out on the light side when they were applied to the paper.

So what could you do with the ESV Illuminated Bible?

  • Well, Christmas is coming–and this would make a delightful gift for someone!  (You could even include a set of colored pencils with the Bible!)
  • You could display it on an easel, with the pages opened to one of the gorgeous Scripture illustrations
  • You could use it in your devotional reading time
  • You could do Bible journaling in it!
  • You could even use it during family worship; give everyone some colored pencils and work on it together!
  • And if you’re a person who’s not completely confident in your own artistic ability, the ESV Illuminated Bible will enable you to make beautiful art anyway!

 

You can enter to win!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has provided one copy of the ESV Illuminated Bible for one of you to win!  Simply click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form.  Just follow the directions to enter!  Giveaway closes on December 2, 2017.  One winner will be selected from all entries.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

You can also check out the ESV Illuminated Bible on social media

IlluminatedBible.org

Video: https://vimeo.com/237851665

The ESV Illuminated Bible on Amazon

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

ADORED: A Review & Giveaway of Lindsay A. Franklin’s New Book (Ends 11/27/17)

I have a lovely book to tell you about today.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network was kind enough to send me a copy to review AND a copy of this lovely book to give away to one special reader!

 

 

If you are a young woman, do you ever wish that you had someone to help guide you through the ups and downs of life, emotions, relationships, and challenges?  I know that I certainly did.  The adolescent and young adult lives that we live carry so much change, so much identity-formation, so much of the internal life that we don’t necessarily even realize as we walk through life.

Most of all, do (or did) you realize that there is a God of the universe, the God of the Bible, who doesn’t just like you or tolerate you but ADORES you?

Author Lindsay A. Franklin certainly understands this and communicates it vibrantly and joyfully, (not to mention, at times, hilariously) in ADORED.  Subtitled 365 Devotions for Young Women, this book is filled to overflowing with daily Scriptures and devotional writings that speak wonderfully to the hearts of young women.  (Or even women who’d fit more into the Titus category, or moms of children or teens, like me!)

About ADORED…

ADORED is just a gorgeous book, inside and out.  It’s a smooth hardback book that feels substantial but isn’t too heavy in the hands.  Its gold and blue artsy cover is echoed in the pages, which have illustrated blue borders plus lines for journaling thoughts and prayers at the bottom of the pages.  Each day’s reading (and there are, as mentioned in the title, 365–so one for each day of the year) begins with a Bible verse and its address printed at the top of each page.  To go along with each of these, Franklin has written devotionals that address ways we can understand the verses, be encouraged by them, or even live out their instructions in our daily lives (both inner and outer).

How I used this book…

I love to start my day with devotional and Bible reading, or Bible study.  So I really enjoyed reading ADORED in the mornings with my coffee.  Sometimes, I’d look up the daily Bible verse in my own Bible, so that I could glean more of Scripture and the contexts the verses were set in.  And although I live with men in my home (my husband and teen son) rather than young women, I often found inspiring and encouraging words that I could share with them during family Bible times or devotionals together.  They’re not the target audience, but there was so much rich content that really affects all of us.

 

 

and what I thought about it

So why did I find that ADORED was so applicable to my whole family?

I really think that it’s because all of us, whether we’re male or female, younger or older, deeply need to know that we are loved.  Even adored.  Lindsay A. Franklin makes that point in her book again and again, in different ways, with different words.  And we all need to hear that!

Here are some of my favorite words from this remarkable book:

  • “But given how much Scripture talks about waiting, specifically waiting on the Lord, we can guess patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit for a reason.  God is never in a rush.  This God who is always the same says, “Wait on me.  See what I have for you in my time.”…God’s not in a rush, so why are we?”  (Day 23)
  • “You have a God who offers peace.  You have a God who hears your prayers.  You have a God who never backs down, even from the very gates of hell.  You are never alone and your God is never overcome.  So stand tall.  You can trust God to help you overcome those who are trying to intimidate you.”  (Day 18)
  • “Our God–the one of unchanging purpose, constant love, utmost consistency–never discovers greener grass and decides to graze over there a bit.  He knows all the grass.  He’s not wooed by the bigger, better deal.  He’s not suddenly walking alongside you in life, only to be distracted, shout “Squirrel!” and take off after it.  God won’t give up on you.  He won’t forget you.  He won’t leave you.  Ever.”  (Day 17)

That’s only a tiny taste for you of what comprises this most wonderful and encouraging devotional.

And now…my giveaway!

So who would be the perfect recipient of this lovely book, ADORED?

  • A young woman (whether she’s a teen or in her twenties)
  • A new believer, who needs to know the character and purposes of God
  • Any woman—even if she’s not the target audience—who’d like to know more about the amazing love that God has for us
  • A dad who’d like to bless his daughter with this incredible book
  • Or, anyone else whose heart is captured by the idea of ADORED

All you have to do to enter is to click on the pink “Enter Here!” below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Just follow the directions there!  One winner will be selected after the giveaway closes on 11/27/17.

Enter here!

Best wishes!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Kim Frauli’s “When No One Was Looking–Project Mnemosyne” ~ A Review

Earlier this year I was offered the chance to read a fascinating book by Kim Frauli when I was given a free e-book copy to review.  When No One Was Looking–Project Mnemosyne is an engrossing read about a young woman in a post-apocalyptic America, that doesn’t look much like the America we know.

 

 

About the story:

Julianna Brenner is a bright, personable young woman.  Although her life was dramatically reshaped by the terrorist attacks that blew across her nation, especially when her parents were killed.  Julianna was brought to the Scholars Compound, where she lives and works on scientific research.  Her work is focused on discoveries that will enhance and benefit the remaining humans who live in the country.  She’s fortunate to work daily with Declan, her best friend.  Her life is very regimented and controlled; there are places she can go (and not go), security personnel who take her almost everywhere she goes, a bedroom which looks much like everyone else’s in her division.  Julianna’s work challenges her and excites her on a daily basis.  She also loves working with Declan; in fact she’s becoming emotionally connected to him in ways that the New Regime might not appreciate.

Guardian Costma is the man in charge of the New Regime, and of Julianna’s area in general and her work in particular.  One day she is taken off the work she’s doing and reassigned to a new project; and the more she works on it the more concerns she has about its ethics and moral rightness.  This new project seems awfully like something that could be used as a weapon, or to harm others.  In addition, she discovers that she is to be “matched” or joined in a sort of marriage with another young man with whom she has NOTHING in common.  In fact, she can’t stand him.  And Declan, it turns out, is as unhappy about this as Julianna is.  They decide that, for their (and humankind’s) survival, they have to try to leave the compound.

Declan and Julianna have a journey before them that they cannot imagine.  Can they get away from teh guards and the compound?  What will they discover in the outside world?  Are there people there, will it be safe….and will they get caught?  And what is Project Mnemosyne?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed Julianna’s and Declan’s story.  Kim Frauli has written an interesting and compelling story. Young adults and those who enjoy YA fiction will be captivated by When No One Was Looking–Project Mnemosyne.  This book is appropriate for teens and would definitely be considered family-friendly.  I recommend it!

Where to find this book:

You can find When No One Was Looking–Project Mnemosyne at Amazon.  Even better, I understand that Kim Frauli is working on book 2 in the series!

About the author:

Kim Frauli lives on a farm in rural Illinois with her husband, three children, and a menagerie of animals. She spent several years in marketing and communications for non-profit organizations, including serving as editor-in-chief of a hospital’s health magazine. She took a break from full-time work to focus on family and volunteer work and became involved in education. She has served as a PTO president, board of education member, reading tutor and youth sports coach, in addition to chairing various events.

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Hope Prevails” ~ A Review & Giveaway (Ends 7/16/17)

Have you ever gone through challenging times and found it difficult to hang onto your hope?  Or, have you even struggled with depression?  Have you wondered why your faith wasn’t enabling you to kick that depression in the teeth?  Or, have you ever found it difficult to believe what God says about you?  If so, you’re going to love Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a copy of this amazing book to review and a copy to bless one of our readers with….as well as a gorgeous & incredible gift box from the author!  (I’ll be sharing some goodies with my giveaway winner from that as well!)

 

I have read a lot of good books over the past year.  However, I must say that in all my reading, I don’t know that I’ve seen an author open the door on her own struggles and then describe them in such a way that I felt that she was talking about my own.  I endured a season of depression myself following a couple of serious surgeries and family difficulties several years ago.  While I would say that depression doesn’t describe my emotional state at this moment, I am in a place where Dr. Bengtson’s words are still of enormous value and assistance.  Readers of the finchnwren blog know that after having abdominal pain that just wouldn’t go away, I required surgery to remove a cyst in early May.  That cyst turned out to be cancerous, to my utter shock and disbelief!  The surgeon felt optimistic about having gotten all of it out, but he still recommended chemotherapy.  So I’ve completed the first third of the chemo journey (having had 2 of 6 sessions) but I am discovering that for me, the battlefield of the mind is almost as important as the battle being waged in my body.  How do I endure the physical challenges while hanging onto my hope, my faith, my belief in  God and that He is FOR me?  What a perfect book Hope Prevails is for my journey!

What will you find in Hope Prevails?

Author and neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson found, after treating patients for years in her own practice, that she required treatment for depression herself.  And she discovered that there was a crucial ingredient missing in common treatment options for depression; the spiritual aspect.  In Hope Prevails, you’ll find out what depression can look like, what it can do to you spiritually, and how you can integrate care of yourself spiritually to work alongside traditional treatment.  And receive true healing!

Each chapter begins with identification and description of depression plus the key elements of YOU, yourself, that can be tended on your walk toward healing.  Next, Dr. Bengtson gives the reader an Rx (prescription) to follow, that includes anything from Scriptures to read and review, brief research, prayers, and more.  She writes the most meaningful prayers for the reader/sufferer of depression, and concludes each chapter with a Recommended Playlist of praise and worship songs that are keyed to each chapter.  (You can find them by searching YouTube or iTunes.  Worth a listen!)

And Dr. Bengtson shares her own life, transparently, and how to address the spiritual component of the healing of depression in the following chapters (and others):

  • This Thing Called Depression
  • You Are Not Alone
  • The Underlying Causes of Depression
  • Recognize You Have An Enemy

These first chapters define depression in all its lack of glory, and remind us that there is an enemy of our souls who seeks to do us in, as Jesus instructs us in John 10:10:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

But then Jesus goes on to encourage us and remind us of the truth:  “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Life!  Not just painful existence.  The remainder of the chapters in Hope Prevails tell us about this full or abundant life, and how we can apprehend it:

  • Recover Your Joy
  • Reclaim Your Peace
  • Reestablish Your Identity
  • Know Your Worth
  • Remember  Your Secure Destiny
  • Be Confident That Nothing Separates You from God’s Love
  • God Uses Your Pain
  • The Way to Hope

Each of these chapters is so rich; each one speaks to a component of our spiritual identities (you know, the invisible part that makes each of us uniquely us), how each is affected by depression and its spiritual battles, and how we can regain strength and joy in them.

 

 

How Hope Prevails affected me

So…I’ve mentioned a bit to you about my own current physical, mental, and spiritual journey.  How I am walking through chemotherapy: one day–6 hours, actually–getting the IV infusions and then 20 more days of letting that medication do battle in my own body.  Then starting the whole process over again.

I can tell you (see my Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator for confirmation) that I am a great beginner.  I love starting new things, new classes, new projects.  But there is that spot, sometimes, in the middle of the journey where the fun isn’t as obvious, the grind has become the grind, and the newness has worn off.  Now nobody is really going to call chemotherapy a fun journey.  But there has been that newness of it: the not knowing what’s coming next, the unforeseen challenges.  All those kept me on my toes, really depending on God for what was around the next corner because we just had no clue.  But now I’m kind of noticing that we’re in that middle part; the routine.  Not that there won’t be unexpected surprises or challenges; but now I’m thinking that suddenly the circumstances (the pain, the medications/their effects, the trips to the doctor) aren’t my fight, I (my choices, my relationship with God, my mental battle) am my fight.  Or rather, my reacting to each day; knowing I might not be feeling my best or feeling well at all, but choosing to ENGAGE.  Engage with God; believe His truths; attempt to walk out my best in my life and with my family.  Sigh.  The middle.

What a powerful tool, what a valued companion Dr. Michelle Bengston has provided for me in my fight.  In each chapter, she defines what I am needing, whether it’s hope, joy, peace, identity, etc., and kindly and lovingly explains how I can grasp or attain it.  She provides truth to counter the enemy’s lies.  She includes Scripture that I’ve written in my journal or on cards for my vision board, so that I can remember what is real and true about my journey and about me.

How could Hope Prevails help you?

Now…most of you (and maybe even none of you!) are NOT undergoing my particular journey.  But perhaps you have experienced depression.  Maybe someone you love has.  Or it could be that you just desperately need to learn, remember, and know the truths the enemy would love for us to forget, but that God has given us in His Word.  Or, what if you’d just like to learn how you can grow in your own relationship with God?  If so, this book is for you!  (And keep reading because I have one copy to bless a reader with…that just might be you!)

I have to tell you that discovering that there had been a cyst in my body that was cancerous, and then going thru six rounds of chemotherapy, was NOT something that I was hoping for in my life!  But God has spoken Romans 8:28 over every one of us that loves and believes in Him…and He has spoken it over me and my life and journey to defeat illness as well.  I know that there will be a day when I can richly and fully say that I can rejoice in having gone through this.  If this also is something you desire to be able to say about your own pains and struggles, then that’s another reason to read this incredible book!

 

The unboxing of encouragement

Before I get to the giveaway, though, I have to share with you the absolutely wonderful gift box that I received from Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  It came to me at just the right moment, when I was home from surgery but still in significant pain from a wound infection.  WHAT an encouragement and blessing this box was!  Just at a moment when I needed something beautiful and wonderful to encourage me.  (Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Bengtson and The BlogAbout Network!)

 

 

Of course, you know after reading my review that I adored the book.  But at a time when I needed some beauty and love (and isn’t it nice to get that in a physical form from time to time?), I was blessed with that gorgeous scarf and the beautiful pearl bracelet that reads “Hope”!

 

 

I have to tell you that I wear the bracelet every time I go to chemotherapy.  It reminds me of beauty, that God is good, and that I have a hope to look forward to…not only in the life to come but in the here and now!

 

And now…enter to win some Hope Prevails goodies!

One reader will be selected to win a copy of Hope Prevails, a dog tag necklace with Jeremiah 29:11 on it, AND a delicious bar of chocolate from Dr. Michelle Bengtson!  Just click on the pink link below to be taken to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on July 16.  Best wishes!

Enter the giveaway here!

 

Don’t forget to visit Dr. Michelle Bengtson on social media, where you’ll find more encouragement and beauty

 

Her website, DrMichelleBengtson
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Thank you for letting me share this powerful book (and goodies!) with you all.  Blessings!

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.