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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Kate Motaung’s debut memoir, A Place to Land, is both honest and bittersweet. In it, readers will find a poignant history of a young girl who became a mature woman rooted in the grace of God, even when she faced difficult life storms.

Motaung doesn’t shy away from speaking on the hard topics of family separation, difficult diagnoses, enduring heartache, and loss.

If anything, Kate encourages her readers to look beyond their circumstances to the God who resides in a place where we’re all really hoping to land: Eternity.

A Place to Land isn’t Motaung’s story alone. It’s the story of her mother, a woman of undeniable faith, who continues to love and serve her daughters and grandchildren well.

A Place to Land is a memoir of a teenage girl with many questions and fears. Who is God? Does God still love me when my heart doubts and questions? Will God be faithful? 

A Place to Land is the story of a teenager who evolves into a woman of quiet fortitude and gentle strength…trying to understand some of humanity’s biggest questions when faced with life’s hardest moments: Why me, God? Why my own mother, God? 

 

 

 

 

I needed Him to open my eyes to the truth that even if death came, it wouldn’t be the end.

Deeply humane.

Full of fragile moments.

Honest and heartfelt.

A Place to Land doesn’t disappoint. It offers its readers a sacred reality, that no matter our plans, God’s grand scheme for our individual lives miraculously occurs, covered in deep grace.

A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging by Kate Motaung // Discovery House, 2018. // $14.99

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We’re unraveling. Becoming undone.

We can admit this blaring truth or we can deny the racial and political vitriol with 21st century creature comfort.

Food which satiates. Pleasure which numbs.

Devices to distract us from the heavy air of life as American citizens.

In The Myth of Equality, author Ken Wytsma invites his readers to sift through difficult conversations of race and privilege.

Wytsma states, “I do not think I’m the enlightened white guy who “gets it,” and I don’t believe there are simple answers to fix the race problems in America…it is complicated, deeply personal, and colored by politics and religion.”

Americans experience life through a myriad of lenses: social, economic, racial, and ethnic.

We interpret life through diffracted angles. Angles of self-righteousness. Angles of insecurity and fear… of fierce anger and hate.

A few weeks back I awoke from a dream which whispered two words: True North.

Like an Old Testament prophet, Wytsma declares, “As Christians and as the church, our north star, however, remains the kingdom of God and values rather than the ways of worldly empires. Our end is radical horizontal diversity reflecting the beauty of God’s image and the variety of his creativity.”

There’s no denying the Skin Wars which have marred the soil underneath our feet. We’re not “united,”—we’re untied.

Maybe we need a “true North” attitude to unravel the hidden bias of our hearts. In the beautiful fray, honest conversations could lead to spiritual fabric tethered in peace and acceptance.

The Myth of Equality is not to be missed. Ken’s words will salt the wounds all humans carry—they’ll help to cure what’s “rotten” in all of us and awaken us to love and respect those entirely different from us.

 

The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege by Ken Wytsma // InterVarsity Press, 2017. // $18.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Angst. Stress. Exhaustion.

Feelings and symptoms which overshadow what’s meaningful and true and beautiful.

A few months ago, stress felt like an iron anvil on my chest.

Yet Jesus reminds us, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)

Bonnie Gray’s Whispers of Rest is a 40-day journey of respite. Each day allows intentional readers to delve into comfort and care for their soul.

Rather than stressing out to get as much done as you possibly can today, make the space to let God love you ans much as He possible can.

Stop. Do what refreshes your soul. God whispers–Cast your cares on me. I will hep you today, (Day 11, Choose Help). 

Forty days of relatable and frank vignettes along with carefully organized sections:

  • Read God’s Story: encourage readers to rest in God’s biblical exhortations.
  • God’s Whispers to You: Healing words of comfort written from God’s personal perspective.
  • A Prayer for Today: Succinct and meaningful prayers to uplift weary souls.
  • Give Yourself Permission: Honest advice for readers navigating through hard emotions and life challenges.
  • Reflect on Your Story: Writing prompts which allow Christ-Followers to ponder and journal.
  • Pray & Rest: A final call for readers to understand the value of conversation and respite with God.
  • Today’s Beloved Challenge: fun and simple challenges to heal body, mind, and soul through holistic health and scientific evidence.

This gorgeous guidebook makes a great early-morning beach read (my idea of soul-care). Bring it on vacation. Set it on your nightstand.

Whispers of Rest is best for readers who are committed to reclaim calm.

Whisper of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul, By Bonnie Gray. FaithWords//Hachette Book Group // May 2017.

 

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What would happen if our earthly expectations remained unmet? If our hopes and dreams were yanked out of our stubborn-fisted hands?

What if God had entirely different plans for our earthly destinies? Would you be okay with that? Or would you turn your back on God?

You were supposed to be a flaming woman of audacious dreams, but dying embers are all that remain.

Debut author Grace Thornton shares powerful tales of deferred hope and unmet dreams in:  I Don’t Wait Anymore.

I’d never known God up close enough to be wrecked by His love, close enough to want to put my dreams in His hands with joy and relief, close enough to let Him write new dreams if He wanted.

Too many times women of faith tell God what they want fromHim, not realizing that what He had planned all along was the right path after all.

Thornton tells her readers to grab hold of what God—in Divine Providence—wants for them still, “He stretches out a kind hand to remake us.”

Women, be ready to accept the chaotic of your now, because:

He knows the names of every star and every miscarried baby. He tells the oceans where to stop, and He tells me how to get through the day. He knows where each planet will travel, and He knows what will be on my mind when I lay my head on the pillow tonight.

 

Thornton challenges readers to let go of the dull and the rote and the mundane. She reminds us all to embrace the mysteries of Why, God!? Because she knows firsthand what it is to lay aside normalcy: marriage, children, and supposed dream jobs.

Friends, be ready to travel with Grace, she takes us into a precious backstory of her nine-year-old river walks through Mississippi.  Get ready to be propelled forward to life on a Paris Metro; she’ll guide you through the green pastures of countryside England.

Grace speaks of “a deep-set quiet nothing could penetrate. And that happened when I felt the light from the God of the universe closing in on me.”

Perhaps we need a 21st Century Holy Annunciation—one which circumvents status quo plans. Maybe your raw and empty sighs need a new salve. A salve that’s healing, a balm which mends you from the inside out. Look no further, friend.

Thornton’s heartfelt stories remind us that Our Maker knows what’s best as we trek through life, as we train and travel through hope and heartache just the same.

 

I dare you to experience I Don’t Wait Anymore.  Allow Grace Thornton’s words to penetrate you with renewed wonder. Ready yourself for breathtaking prose, for stories which challenge you to live beyond the wait.

 

I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You

 By Grace Thornton, Zondervan, 2016.