Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: Grieving God's Way

How I wish I had owned this book after my dad died.

Author Margaret Brownley stopped writing when her oldest son died after a lengthy illness.  Three years later she sat down to write Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing--and I’m so glad she did.  Each day of this 90-day devotional includes a Bible verse, a reflection on the day’s topic, a haiku by poet Diantha Ain, and a practical tip on recovery called “Healing Ways”. 

This is the sort of book that a writer can’t fake and Brownley doesn't offer generic platitudes or "feel good" thoughts. Brownley digs deep, drawing from her own personal experience and from that of other other authors, artists, doctors, therapists, and friends.  She make a distinction between “Man’s Way” of grieving (hurried, busy, numbing, alone) and “God’s Way” (healing, healthy, faith-filled, in community).  She addresses the different ways men and women grieve, children’s grief, journaling, waiting, remembering, prayer, and asking for help. 

I find that, though I’m not currently in a time of mourning, this book is useful for personal reflection.  Not only would it be a helpful guide for someone who is grieving, it would be useful for someone who has a grieving friend or family member.  I would recommend it for individual or small group use.  There’s even a website ( where you can find additional resources mentioned in the book or request a free copy of a related workbook. You can also purchase materials for a church or small group study.  The Grieving God’s Way website includes a printable poster of “Rules for Family Healing” that can be printed (Adobe Reader) from the Resources page.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program in return for an honest review.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Book Review: Road to Valor

I just finished this book and it is one of the best books I've read this year.  Here's my review:

Road to Valor: a True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili and Andres McConnon, Crown Publishers, 2012.

For casual fans of the Tour de France, Gino Bartali’s name is the answer to trivia questions: Who holds the record for longest time span between Tour victories?  Who is one of the oldest riders to win the Tour? What’s largely unknown is the story of Bartali’s life between those victories and what made him not just a champion, but a hero.

Road to Valor chronicles Bartali’s early life as a gifted cyclist and the son of an impoverished Tuscan family.  Bartali’s 1938 Tour de France win comes on the verge of WWII and his heroic victory and promising career are overshadowed by the rise of Fascism and Italy’s entry into the war on the side of Hitler.

During the war, Bartali, a devout Christian and Catholic activist, becomes involved in a network of smugglers who risk their lives and families to help Italian Jews obtain identity papers, food, and housing during the German occupation. 

After the war, Bartali resumes his cycling career.  Ridiculed for being too old and dismissed by all but his most ardent fans, Bartali summons the courage and strength to conquer the mountains again and emerges victorious in the 1948 Tour de France.

The McConnons have produced a well-researched, fascinating story of a classic hero. Bartali’s talent, faith, and independent streak inspired a nation and saved hundreds of lives.  I found myself unable to put this story down--both physically and mentally as I reflected on Bartali’s life, his choices, and how a simple man of conviction becomes a hero in the face of extreme adversity.

Highly recommended for fans of cycling, readers of WWII books, or anyone looking for an inspiring story.  This is a dramatic story that will have you cheering.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

What’s in Your Pocket?

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have...” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

Sharing your faith is the heart of evangelism.  The Pocket Testament League (PTL) believes so and they will equip you with free evangelism training and tools so you’ll always be prepared.

But wait....what is evangelism?  Do I knock on doors or hand out tracts on a street corner?  You can, but PTL’s vision is deeper than that: their goal is to equip believers for a lifestyle of evangelism.    PTL’s simple mission is three-fold:  Read, Carry, and Share the Word of God.

Read the Word of God
PTL wants people to develop a living relationship with Jesus Christ through daily Bible study and prayer.  PTL members receive a free daily devotional every weekday via email.  Members have access to the free 21-Day Challenge to learn more about Jesus Christ by reading and reflecting on the Gospel of John.  PTL’s online guide to Bible verses will strengthen your faith and help you share the Good News with others.

Carry the Word of God
PTL equips members with evangelism tools: pocket-sized copies of the Gospel of John, available in English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.  These pocket testaments are available in different Bible translations and come in a variety of  attractive designs so you can take them anywhere and share them with everyone.  There’s even an illustrated Gospel for children.

Dedicate a pocket to the Lord and carry a Gospel there to give away each day.  Carry a Gospel in your purse, diaper bag, briefcase, backpack...(you get the idea).

PTL’s evangelism ministry is supported through donations for each Gospel copy ordered by members, but members in financial need may receive support from sponsors.  No one who wants to share God’s Word will be turned away.

Share the Word of God
PTL’s evangelism ministry puts free copies of Scripture into the hands of others, so that they can read it for themselves, perhaps for the first time. PTL members plant the seeds and the Holy Spirit helps them grow.

Members receive free evangelism training through a self-paced 7-part Evangelism Boot Camp that prepares you to share your faith. 

Visit PTL’s website to find over 100 creative ways to share the Gospel with others: on the go, on the job, even from home.

Community of Believers
The Pocket Testament League is not just an evangelical ministry, it’s a community that encourages each other and shares prayer requests and stories.  You’ll find a thriving PTL community on Facebook.  There’s even a mobile app.

Find out more or register online for a free membership (including free daily devotionals and evangelism tools) at the Pocket Testament League’s website.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  (John 8:32 NIV)

FaithWriters: the Home for Christian Writers

(This is a promotional review for the Pocket Testament League.)