Before and Again by: Barbara Delinsky

Before and AgainBefore and Again by Barbara Delinsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much had happened, one domino falling, then another and another, each moving another step back in time. The past was the root of the rest of a life. I was to coming to understand that.

Maggie Reid is battling every mother’s worst nightmare, the death of her child and subsequent death of her marriage. Trying to rebuild her life in a new town, with a new name so she can face her reality as she faces the slight scar on her face. A scar that is a reminder of the accident that killed her daughter.

With her new identity, she has made new friends with whom she lives and works with in Devon Vermont. Gracie who just like her is searching and hiding. Hiding from someone and searching for self. Which implied either not liking who are or escaping who you had been. These two woman are tied together as they understand pain but not shared their past.

It has been 10 years since she has moved and when her ex husband makes an appearance to Devon, as she fights to keep her secret safe.

Maggie’s redemption and discovery is character driven as she is fiercely loyal to her new friends while keeping her secret hidden. She is also still deeply in love with her ex husband while she reconciles the pain of loosing their daughter. A reality that they both could not share 10 years ago but are now drawn to each to other to heal what has broken them.

Even though Maggie’s story is the dominant thread, her friend Gracie is the irony that sets into motion her redemption. Loved this

A Special Thank you to St. Martins Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra (The Silent Years #1) by: Angela Elwell Hunt

Egypt's Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra (The Silent Years, #1)Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Could she not comprehend that our faith was an elemental part of who were? A dart of guilt pierced my soul. Had I hidden the essence of my beliefs so completely that she could not see how different we really were?

I am a big fan of Angela Hunt’s writing and her gift of narration. She is poignant with her pen and her words are poetic to the heart. She does well in getting to the heart and bringing humanity to far off places and times such as this time in the reign of Cleopatra. She has taken actual history and weaved in a story of a young Jewish woman who grew up in the palace with Cleopatra. Chava’s father being a tutor of the royal family gave Chava opportunity to develop a friendship with Cleopatra and what that might look like coming from different cultures.

When the Lord gives Chava a word “Your friendship with the queen lies in my hands. You will be with her on her happiest day and her last”, Chava’s fate is sealed. You are now taken to Cleopatra fears, insecurities, and her wit in the eyes of a faithful friend. However, the friendship takes a pivotal turn and now the evils of slavery and the fight for survival are Chava’s way of life. Chava never looses faith of God’s word and remembers from her father’s teaching the names of God and places her faith in his promises.

Chava’s story becomes a great history lesson of the reign of Cleopatra and her struggle to survive in the manipulation of powerful men. It is also a story of faith when circumstances turn from plenty to nothing. How can you trust God in those circumstances? Chava lives what she believes and rests in those promises. A great reminder for us in our turbulent times.

A Special Thank You to Bethany House and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World (Short Studies in Biblical Theology) by: Thomas R. Schreiner

Covenant and God's Purpose for the World (Short Studies in Biblical Theology)Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas R. Schreiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The new covenant represents the culmination of God’s saving work among his people. God regenerates his people by His Spirit and renews their hearts so that they obey him. All of God’s promises from the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

What is a covenant/Testament? The bible is divided by the Old and New Testament and in other words, Old and New Promises. God has made promises to his people. Starting with Adam and Eve and ending with his Church.

It is by understanding the promises of God, we can understand and appreciate His work in redemption. The promises show his character and attributes and how the law is like gravity. What comes up, must come down. What laws are broken, consequences will ensue. The 10 commandments only show how far we are from God and his holiness.

The six chapters cover the six covenants.

The covenant of Creation
The Covenant with Noah
The Covenant with Abraham
The Covenant with Israel
The Covenant with David
The New Covenant.

God has made promises to his people with these covenants but what is our responsibility? Covenants are for those in committed relationships and with committed relationships, we have a responsibility to respond to the promise. Each covenant is building on the previous and does not necessarily need us to comply but defines who God is. This is what he has done thru his Covenants and that he can be trusted in Faith. A mind-set responding to God’s covenants should be a desire to be in his presence, not to manipulate God to get what we desire. Our desire should be for him.

As each of these Covenants show the character and strength of God, it also reveals our weakness and self rule we settle into. A study on the covenants is a strong foundation in walking in faith.

A Special Thank You to Crossway and Netgalley for the aRC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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With You Always (Orphan Train, #1) by: Jody Hedlund

With You Always (Orphan Train, #1)With You Always by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It maybe it was less about God abandoning me and perhaps the other way around. – me leaving Him.

I loved how this author took from history of the Orphan Train and brought to life conditions of the heart, fears, grit, and determination of men, women, and children to the forefront. With You Always brings to life of a young family suddenly orphaned in New York. The eldest sister Elise Neumann taking care of her two siblings and babies from another family in her care. Her young family is under the care of Miss Pendleton. A woman of compassion that is opening a center to orphans that are looking for work.

In the 1850’s life was a struggle. Families looking for work and trying to stay together. Coming home from her seamstress job, Elise falls prey in the middle of a gang war and since I believe there is no such thing as coincidences, and neither does the author, Thornton Quincy makes Elise acquaintance in saving her from certain danger. Their chance meeting is the start that changes both of them for the better.

Quincy’s background is a contrast from Elise background of immigrants. Quincy comes from a prominent family and has recently been put in a competition with his twin brother brought forth from his ailing father. A competition that will determine who is better fit to run the family business. A competition of love and ruthlessness. No details will I give as it is part of the plot.

Times become more difficult for Elise family and the must make a tough decision to separate. Elise leaves her family in New York and goes back East to a the beginning of a new town that needs workers. Guess who is charge of this new town. It is the 2nd chance meeting that these two learn about their own hearts and what really matters. I loved the story and I hope the following books will share these two again.

A Special Thank You to Bethany House and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional

Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent DevotionalCome, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We have become to familiar with the Christmas story without being in wonder of the Christmas story. We are so easily distracted that we stand away from the true meaning of the Christmas story. The closer we stand, dive in, be in wonder, we will become gripped with the life-changing wonderful of knowing that God became a child so that we would be no longer be separate from God, but would be now and forever the children of God. Come, Let Us Adore Him this Christmas season and every day.

God’s story does not change but how we perceive him and his story does for us. We can be excited for it one day and then the next day not think anything of it. Or we may feel this is not for us. My life is good the way it is. Or we may think that my life can’t change. But there is hope in the Christmas story for all of us, no matter what we think or feel.

Tripp is a wonderful communicator of the Gospel. He can say the same thing but in a 100 different ways encouraging the reader to grasp all that God is. Come know me is the Christmas Story. That is the crux of the Christmas story. There is more much more than we can fathom. The purpose of the incarnation of Jesus is not just a fancy word but the meaning of that word is to drive us to humility for our need for a savior. It is accepting the very bad news of our state of sin and the reality of death that we can shout with the angels the Good News of Jesus.

The birth of Jesus gives us a true propose to life here and to the life to come. It gives us peace and security in the midst of chaos because we know the purpose of the story and how it will end. The Christmas story reveals the why and the answer. Highly recommend!

A Special Thank you to Crossway and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by: David P Murray

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for KidsExploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David P. Murray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A real adventure of biblical proportions. To go out on a adventure, you require a map to get where you are going. Not only do you require a map, but the tools to get you there. That is this devotion. I would greatly encourage parents to do this with your children. Not just mom but with dad as well. A adventure for the whole family.

A devotional that tells us about God and who we are and that requires inquiring minds to dig deeper into the truths of the gospel. Of course exploring the bible, you must start at the beginning. The beginning tells us how things were and how we ended up in need of a savior.

The devotional starts with an expedition. Each week is a map of where we are headed and chapters we are ready to explore. You will need a bible, as each day you will be required to look up scripture and with each scripture a question to challenge your heart and to direct you to God’s redemptive plan. Along with scripture, you will have prayer points. The need of prayer is important with any study and to do this as family is the beginning of discipleship. Snapshots are memory verses to learn and to bring the point to your heart even more. A daily log follows that which encourages you to write what you learn and to apply. It also encourages every Sunday to journal Sunday’s message at your church and to explore with others as family to share what has been learned and the insight each family member might have.

This devotion literally goes thru the whole bible. Pivotal points of redemption with a gospel message. It is an opportunity to live out in community with your own family. I highly recommend it.

A Special Thank You to Crossway Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by: David A. Powlison

Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually BrokenMaking All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David A. Powlison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every deviant motive-whether lust of the flesh, lie, or false love- is a hijacker. It mimics some aspect of God. It unsurps some promise of God. Consider that about two-thirds of the psalms present God as “our refuge” in the midst of the troubles of life.

Many of us have sexual hang ups of some kind and those hang ups usually effect our healthy relationships with others. This text is balanced in the gift of sex for both victim and oppressor. Many times, those that have been victimized by sexual abuse became abusers themselves so the importance of expressing the gospel to both victim and oppressor is vital for healing.

The text helps the reader to uncover the root so that it can be removed and with replaced with the truth. The gospel can never be about behavior it must be about what is believed and what we pursue. Sex is a powerful tool, it sells, it is addictive but knowing God’s redemptive plan for sex keeps us focused on the good of sex. A shared intimacy with one that compliments the other.

How we look at sex reveals much about our hearts and the battle that lies within. How we see others as objects or created in the image of God. Sex is a gospel issue.

A Special Thank You to Crossway and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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