Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life By Elisabeth Elliot

To read one of Elisabeth Elliot’s books is a spiritual experience. Her writings are not just from the heart but come from a much deeper place: her lifelong relationship with the Lord and what He has taught her. She doesn’t just write about it she has lived it. Going back to the tribe that killed your husband to lead them to Christ more than qualifies her to write about discipline!
I love her statement at the very first of the book: “Discipline is the believer’s answer to God’s call.” This is a very timely subject in our world today. Discipline is gradually fading in all areas of life and being replaced with a willy-nilly fleshly attitude of doing whatever one desires. If the flesh leads and is not brought under submission, we cannot follow or serve Christ. Scripture tells us of this spiritual war.
Ms. Elliot shows the reader through her skillful writing, personal experiences and scriptures, the 7 areas a Christian must work toward discipline to fulfill their calling in Christ. She includes not only the how but the why. The areas are: body, mind, place, time, possessions, work and feelings. I found the subjects of possessions and feelings to be ones maybe people don’t look at in this light. This is a book you will want to read more than once and study.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Bound Heart By Laura Frantz

Scotland and its history is not something I am familiar with. I recently found out through DNA testing that a large part of my ancestors are from there! Lark McDougall and Magnus McLeish were raised together as children, on equal footing as nobility. Lark’s father lost his title through false accusations. Lark and her grandmother were left in desperate poverty.
Lark had the job of maintaining the gardens and bees, also formulating herbal remedies for the castle. She loved her doing it and being in touch with nature. Magnus becomes Laird of Kerrera Island. He is a loving and kind ruler that truly cares about the people. Both have always been in love with each other but due to Larks’ family scandal, never married. Magnus married a whimpering, selfish, sickly woman whom desires to produce an heir. When his wife dies suddenly, Lark is accused. Magnus attempts to protect her and they both end up on prison. As their punishment they are sent to Virginia and Jamaica as indentured servants! Talk about bad going to worse!
The story is fast paced and exciting, with lots of surprises. I enjoyed this book on many levels. Ms. Frantz’s picturesque description of the island painted breathtaking pictures in my mind. I almost felt the wind blowing in my hair and I could smell the sea! I saw Lark’s and Granny’s poverty, seeing the desolation of their small home. There were times I found myself standing there looking around and observing.
The author’s remarkable accounts of the prison and slave ship were incredible! It is hard to fathom that thousands of people really experienced such horrid conditions and treatment! They were ripped from their families and homes, probably never to see them again. How frightening to face an appalling voyage and if you survived only to find yourself in a severely abusive living situation to where there was no escape!
What shone even brighter in all of this tragedy was Lark and Magnus’s solid faith in God and reliance upon Him. Their desire to follow Him no matter what the situation or cost was inspiring! They trusted the Lord explicitly. What a great read!

River to Redemption By Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever thought about if an epidemic spread through your town and most of the residents died or were left to die because there was no one well enough to care for them? That is what happened in 1833 in Springfield, Kentucky. Cholera swept across like a ranging forest fire leaving most of the men, women and children dead in a short time. There was no hospital or special medications to heal or relieve suffering.
Adria Starr was only 7 years old when her entire family died right before her eyes. She was so sick; she can do nothing but remain in the house with her deceased loved ones. Louis, a slave left alone to care for his master’s home and business is somehow immune to the disease. He tirelessly cares for the sick and buries the dead. His faith in God is strong and deep. He finds Adria and takes her back to the hotel where he and Tilda an elderly slave were nursing the sick alone. Ruth Harmon and Pastor Will Robertson have had their faith shaken after both lost their spouses in spite of their belief and endless prayers. Where was God? Tragedy will bring all their lives together in an unexpected way.
This book was an eye-opening historically. We take so much for granted in our time and our how fortunate we are with modern medicine. The character that had the biggest impact on me was Louis. Oh to have faith in God as he did! Christ was his only focus otherwise he would not have blessed and saved 100’s of lives. I want to be like him! Not matter what the situation he found himself in, his only thought was what the Lord wanted. He could have fled and gained his freedom but he chose to remain. His and Tilda’s sayings and attitude toward hardship were incredible! I wanted to write them all down and remember them. (I may still do it!) Will and Ruth were faced with continuing on while struggling to understand why God had allowed this. Ms. Gabhart beautifully creates a beautiful story of true faith and how God can bring beauty from ashes.

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh By Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Hatherleigh is in the upper echelon of Victorian London society. Her father is a viscount. At the ripe old age of 18 it is time for her to find a suitable husband. Forget about love and character being desirable in a spouse. Title and money are the name of the game. Due to a societal indiscretion of a young man Carolyn was seen with, her mother sends her off to her grandmother’s estate by the sea in Devon. Christmas has just passed and she is expected to stay until spring! To say Carolyn is upset is an understatement. All she can think about is how BORING it will be with her distant stuffy grandmother.
Carolyn is a brat! She is selfish, thoughtless, prideful, and is a very unkind in her dealings with others. By accident while out for a walk she meets a young man named Gideon. He is a Paleontologist whose interest in fossils is to show them not as part of evolution but God’s creation. He is kind and gentle. His sister Emma is just a sweetheart! Her health is bad and her body is frail but her spirit is joyful. Caroline begins visiting her and a friendship develops between the two girls and Emma’s brother.
Both Carolyn and Gideon find themselves attracted to each other but both try to dismiss the idea as they are not on the same level of society. They become dear friends. Something Carolyn realizes she has never had. She is swept up into their lives and secrets. Mysteries and danger follow. I won’t say anymore but it gets very exciting!
I found it sad that Carolyn’s extreme wealth and lofty heritage robbed her of the realities of life. She was not a Christian but worshiped the god of aristocracy which revolved around numerous customs and ridiculous etiquette. Most would think abundant riches would foster freedom as an individual however Carolyn’s life was nothing more than a prison.
Her relationship with Gideon and Emma not only helped her see Christ by their words and actions, but gave her a comparison with which to view herself This brought conviction in her heart of how she truly was and it was not a pretty sight. I thought it was wonderful that in spite of her snobbish upbringing, she didn’t make excuses but wanted to change. Gideon and Emma were beautiful examples of how Christians living out their faith will be a testimony for the Lord and change lives. True faith and salvation in Christ were they mainstay of this book! A truly wonderful book on many levels!
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams By Jill Eileen Smith

Whether we admit it or not, we have all have an unconscious “script” written in our heads about how our lives will progress. This is more than dreams of setting goals; it is also a dream because we cannot know all the details of our future. When life takes a different course, we are shocked, hurt, and disheartened even if it is due to our own bad choices.
Ms. Smith looks at 12 different women of the Old Testament whose lives did not follow their expectations and plans. She helps us see that these ladies weren’t just Bible characters but real flesh and blood women just like us. They had the same emotions and feelings as any woman. Each faced disappointments, difficulties and made mistakes just as we do. God wrote about them that we might learn from their examples good or bad.
I was delighted that the author not only wrote about well-known women from the Scriptures but several you wouldn’t have thought of studying in this way; Adah (Noah’s wife), Melah (Lot’s wife) and Aneksi (Potiphar’s wife). All very interesting! If God included them in His Word, they are important too!
The author does an amazing job of bringing each of these women to life. I was able to put myself in their place and time, seeing events from their perspective. The next part of the chapter is entitled “In Our World”. Here I was able to realize how what happened to a woman who lived 1000’s of years ago can be applied to my life today. I really liked this part. It helped me see that though time and customs may be different today, who we are as human beings never changes. “Imagine with me” returns to that particular woman seeing through her eyes the impact of her experience on the rest of her life.
I found Ms. Smiths in sights on the lessons that can be learned very interesting. She went past the obvious and brought out things I would not have thought of. The questions at the end of the chapters really aided me in looking deeper at myself, thus gaining even more from the study. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Breaking the Power of Negative Words By Mary C. Busha

Words seem like such small things in passing. They can be quickly spoken, thought or read, but they hold a great deal of power in many areas. Influence to hurt, damage, encourage, or heal sometimes for a lifetime.
We all remember words that have wounded us in the past. I know I do. Cruel thoughtless ones, sometimes spoken on purpose that 60 years later still sting at their remembrance. Just as bad if not worse are those I have thought toward myself, oftentimes on a regular basis. I believe such have had even a greater impact on shaping my view of me as a person. I cringe to think the effect my unkind words may have had on others.
With negativity being such a scourge in today’s society I found this book to be a fantastic study! Through personal illustrations and lots of scripture (a big plus to me!) the author helps the reader take an in-depth, even microscopic look at many aspects of negative words. She doesn’t just leave us hanging there, but in great detail gives us the knowledge and tools to change not only ourselves but overcoming that which is spoken by others. Ms. Busha points out that negative communication in any form is not what God intends. Scripture has a lot to say about the power of the tongue. At the end of each chapter there are study questions for deeper self-examination. These are great! This is a book you will want to read more than once to study. It is a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. I believe everyone can benefit from it and make lasting changes.
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.