Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Art of the Follower

Have you ever had those great big, new year goals where you list all the things you plan to acheive, yet by March you realize you haven't even started?  Have you ever been in a situation where your plans are 'this big', yet your confidence, uncertainly keep you from accomplishing them?  Are your dreams as big as the sky yet cold feet keep you grasping that one passion you have?
This book, The Art of the Follower, by Dag Heward-Mills is a reminder of why you should.  Even more ... a reminder of why God calls us to follow - not just your personal dreams and goals, but Him.

The Art of the Follower is a christ-based, faith-filled chapter book filled with the instrument of learning biblical terms and stories in scripturally sound language.  It's not a quick, easy read.  Take your time with this book and have a high-lighter on hand as there are many points that are crucially wrapped into a story or discussion of a referenced biblical character.  It's complex, well-organized and methodical, reading like a college textbook.  The author writes with informative, definitive strokes.   As I read, I got the image of a professor lecturing at the podium on topic after topic - put the book down long enough, you might be hard-pressed to remember where you left off.  I think the book could have flowed a little better and been smoother in writing, rather than just press a bunch of facts and scriptures together in a 'textbook' form.  If you are looking for more of a learning manual or an instructually based book rather than a softer, more approachable book, then this was it definitely it.  I give this 4 out of 5 stars based on the knowledge and teaching materials this book beholds but would have much rather read a little more down to earth approach with this same material. 

 The Art of the Follower is a book filled with 3 sections: Why following is Eternally Significant: As Dag Heward-Mills states "Through the careful art of following, you will become wiser, more mature, more passionate and a more effective disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ."  It also includes a section of following God's champions with 11 insightful and refreshing views on biblical characters whose lives were effected greatly by following Christ's example, such as Abraham, David, Esther and more.  Lastly, following at home is a crucial depiction of how we not only learn following behavior outside (schools, job, peers, etc) but in our own homes - as infants and as parents with children of our own.  "God intentionally shaped your individuality to shape your relationship with the Father", says Dag-Heward-Mills and the Psalms 139.

You can read read about the author, Dag Heward-Mills, here:

Disclaimer: I received this book free from The B & B Media Group, Inc. as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Changing Churches: A View from the Pew

Are you a "church hopper" or thinking of becoming one?  
Do you look down on Christians who change churches? 
 Did you know that 76% of "church switchers" are devout Christians? 
 Do you wonder about vast changes in church? 
Do you wonder what will bring church unity and transformation? 

Changing Churches describes, through the eyes of one couple, the difficult journey that "church switchers" travel-a journey often precipitated by disruptive church changes. The book encourages Christ-like transformative change in churches rather than man-devised makeovers. 

As you read you will learn about: 
The right reasons to leave a church. 
 How to manage the pain and angst of leaving a familiar church. 
 How to search for another church-the anxiety and adventure. 
 How to handle conflict between spouses about leaving and searching. 
How to find the new church that fits you and fits God's plan for you. 

Changing Churches is helpful in understanding the sweeping changes in churches and what we can do to build up the church.

My Review:  Changing Churches: A view from the Pew is vastly different from the genre of christian books I read and review.  Frankly, this was the first time I've encountered this topic in print!  And let me tell you, from it's bold and brave opening glance at Dottie and Mike's personal journey with churches, I was instantly drawn in.  She speaks from the heart, opens her soul, and shares so much of her personalized christian life through her writing and journal entries.  Dottie is not only genuine and comforting in her knowledge and experience, she writes as if she is an old friend, and it's very refreshing.

Although my husband and I belonged to just one church before our previous one (and we left that one due to it's destruction from a major Hurricane!), I have personally walked the walk of wondering how you can feel so alone, so alienated, so isolated in the House of God?  How can people you deem 'christians' spew hate and cliche-ish like behavior, ostracizing the ones they do not deem worthy?  I felt sadness beyond belief, I felt shame in the not knowing and the wondering what did I do or not do and most of all, I felt very ALONE.  When I picked up Dottie's book, I can tell you, I was already enchanted with the book:  It's not always our fault, it's not always in our control, and that church just might not be the one for you.  I felt her pain, I felt her words speaking to my heart, christian to christian, because I, too, have been 'there'.

More than the two parts to this book, and the 14 informative chapters packed within, there is a journey to take in it's words.
Dottie explores that while change is sometimes good (and good for the soul), and it might not always be easy ~ The heart of the man plans his way; but the Lord establishes his steps. -Proverbs 16:9
One of the passages that jumped out to me the analogy as our spiritual tanks being like cars - we run on empty, we run out, and we need God to refresh us - fill us!  I was also moved with the author sharing her need for deep repentance and went on a 'searching and fearless inventory." I was drawn to her personal conviction and brave approach to facing personal sins and righting the wrongs she believed strongly in.  What a testimony!
This book brings a strong feeling of healing and life beyond reasons for leaving a church - whether by choice or by force or simply God-lead.   For it's specific topic and theme, this book is right on the mark!  Thank you, Dottie Parish, for the opportunity to review your book: Changing Churches: A View from the Pew.

About the Author

Dottie Parish brings a seasoned counselor’s wise viewpoint and the soft heart of a child of God to her first book called Changing Churches: A View from the Pew.
A longtime resident of the greater Cincinnati area, Parish holds a Master of Social Work degree from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University.
She has more than 30 years of professional experience as a counselor at two family service agencies as well as in private practice. Her experience included diagnosing and treating individuals representing a wide variety of problems, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ages as well as short and long term therapy. Her private practice included individual, marital and family therapy with special interest in helping couples resolve marital differences.
She organized and led The Third Option educational group for married couples from 1996-2007 – in two locations
Parish also wrote a weekly advice column, “Family Counselor,” for more than fifteen years for the Hamilton Journal News, Hamilton, Ohio.
Dottie Parish is a wife, mother and grandmother and she loves Jesus and His Church. Her current devotion to God and His church stems from extreme misgivings about drifting away from God and church after graduate school. She and her husband lived for decades without faith. Their return to faith in 1990 begins the journey described in Changing Churches.
Blog: Dottie blogs on a variety of subjects at and on Marriage and Family issues on

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.  

Book Review:  Changing Churches

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review: Get Real ~ Jamy Whitaker

Jamy Whitaker/ Get Real: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask
ISBN-10: 1449764045 | ISBN- 13: 978-1449764043 | 
List Price: $11.99 Softcover, $3.99 Kindle |Format: Soft cover and Kindle | Page Count: 122
Synopsis:  The author writes:  "As a wife and mother of five, I know all too well how destructive building a facade that everything is fine can be.  Tearing down this wall and letting people see the real me - the pain, the struggles, the tears, and the triumphs has been difficult but rewarding.  Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask examines how to do just that.  It delves into discovering a person's true identity, centered on God's view of each of us, letting go of the insecurities that so easily entangle our lives and finally, living with eternal perspective - keeping our focus heavenward
 instead of inward.
My review:  In this wonderful journey we call life, we have probably all had those moments where we think, or say, or even act a certain way that we want others to perceive us to be.  We put on that smile even though inside the pain, betrayal, hurt, frustration, exhaustion or just plain 'ol need to 'save face' are just too much to bear and we brave it all with that mask.  There.  No one else can see anything more than what we want them to see!  Except, the problem with that?  
It's tough on the soul, it's tough on our guilt, it's tough on our faith because God commands our honesty, integrity and full witnessing.

When I first started to read Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask, I felt as if Jamy Whitaker was a close personal friend - the book is that spot on!  She writes from a place of great intelligence, gentle prose and thought-provoking passages that HIT HOME.
This book is for each and every one of us. 

 This book is divided into three sections:  Identity (Discovering who you truly are), Insecurities and Perspective, with 12 chapters and a bible study section for each chapter.
One analogy that was beautifully portrayed in this book was the author's description of our lives as picture frames, given to us by the graciousness of God.  Each one of us designed to go around God's artwork.  We should never cover up that frame or mask it , rather embrace the gift of God's gift!  

Another key point that was remarkable for me and spoke volumes was the feeling of having to 'dig deeper.' Just as the woman in the bible searched for her lost coin (Luke 15:8-9), it's easy to relate to those lost car keys, lost remote control, all things misplaced (even temporarily!)
While we are scrambling around looking for that which is lost, the same holds true for God's Word:  dig deeper, look further, so not only can you find it and use it, but share it with others!

The bible study section is another one of my favorite parts of this book.
For each chapter, there are a series of questions that follow that further explore the topics discussed.  It is thought-provoking and gives a great way to exercise the mind and soul and further explore the impact that hiding and putting on a facade can affect our faith.  It lets you see in writing that you just might need to Get REAL! 

5 Stars for Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask.   I'm so impressed with Jamy Whitaker's writing style and how this book is written to the level for each of us.  With a bible in hand for cross referencing scriptures if needed, this book is essentially a how-to guide for becoming a "more real" christian.  More than that, it's a deeper grasp of how being true to one's own self and taking the faith one step further so that we may truly honor God!

About the Author
Jamy Whitaker graduated with a degree in English from
 Indiana State University. She lives in Indiana with her husband 
and 5 children. Visit to learn more  
about Jamy, her writing and speaking.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.