book review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Talking to Jesus

Some people are so eloquent with their prayers! They pray, and not only are you deeply touched, but immediately feel inadequate, like your prayers sound more like a child’s clumsy grocery list packed full of things like llamas, play-do, and a tree that grows money and candy.

Through the years I have become more confidant with my prayers and now am very comfortable praying out loud.  I take it for granted that others are at different mile markers on the path of talking to God.

Recently, I was leading a bible-study and when I asked if there were volunteers to pray for certain prayers requests. People raised their hands, I assigned them topics and then began to pray, expecting them to follow my opening prayer with their assigned topics….like you do. Each person prayed, and then I closed the prayer time, and we were done. The next week as we were coming to a close, one of the women boldly said, “you’re not going to make us pray again are you?!” I was shocked. WHAT? Suddenly, because of the one women’s boldness, many of them were laughing and telling me that it was excruciating for them! They confessed that when I asked who wanted to pray for the requests they thought that I meant they would take those requests home and pray, privately, throughout the week. I had no idea that for many of them that was the first time they prayed out loud! I was embarrassed, convicted, and very aware of my ignorance to other’s journeys!

The beauty of prayer is that it’s deeply personal.  The truth is that the Lord is always happy when his children talk to him. He is not concerned about eloquent words or structure. The Lord just wants to be in intimate communication with us. Yes, there are wonderful structures and suggested guidelines, but we can take the mystery and intimidation out of prayer and simply just talk to God.

When I saw the opportunity to review Jeannie Blackmer’s book, Talking to Jesus, I jumped at the chance. I love books on prayer and I am always looking for books to recommend to those who want to grow in their intimacy and confidence in communicating with the Lord.

Immediately I was impressed with this book. It is so simple! The author strips the mystery off of prayer and offers a fresh perspective that guides the reader through, not only communicating with the Lord, but also connecting with Scripture in a fresh and exciting way. Stating that prayer is simply talking to Jesus, she highlights the encounters throughout the book of Mathew where all manner of people actually talk to Jesus. Duh! Why is it the most simple concepts are so mind-blowing!?

Broken down into 21 small chapters (seriously, they average about five pages each!), Jeannie brings people’s encounters with Jesus to life in a captivating way! From the popular stories of the bleeding woman and Peter walking on water, to the lesser known and brief moment of connection between Jesus and a rash scribe who wants to jump on the Jesus train, each narrative takes the black and white stories and paints a rainbow of emotional and real color. The depth of her storytelling helps the reader connect in a visceral way to the “characters” in Scripture that we think we know.

She creatively connects us to the reality of the moment and then takes it even deeper through her own personal reflection and experience with the subject manner. I really appreciated her reflections. Bible stories often get glossed over because we think we know what they are about, or we don’t think they apply to us. Jeannie honestly reveals her own experiences or those whom she’s encountered, and suddenly a story that I hadn’t identified with lands much closer to home.

At the end of each chapter, Blackmer walks the reader through some personal reflection and guided prayer. It is so valuable for the reader to have some handles to hold onto as they step out in faith to talk with Jesus. The structure is so simple that anyone can do it! It isn’t intimidating, nor is it too deep that it feels scary. There is opportunity for growth and discovery no matter where the reader is along the path of prayer.

This book is great for anyone who wants to grow in their prayer life, but also I can see how valuable is would be as a small group study, or as a supplement to a Bible reading plan through the book of Mathew. Easy to read and powerful to digest, this book lends itself to be read in 21 days. I would even recommend partnering this book with a fast.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to connect with Scripture in a fresh way and who wants to grow in Talking to Jesus.

Joyfully talking to Jesus,

Season

book review, healing

Book Review: Loved Baby

The show must go on.

I have spent almost the entirety of my life as a professional performer. I am all too familiar with this saying. I left immediately after my mother’s funeral so I could make it to a dress rehearsal for one show in the afternoon, and perform in another show that night. There was just no time to stop.

Do you ever feel the pressure to just suck it up and move on? There are times in my life where I have had to just swallow my feelings, stuff a reaction to something, or just plain ignore something major because there just wasn’t time to deal. Or so I thought.

Not only have I done this myself, but as a pastor I regularly encounter people on that have experienced something major and their instinct is to hide it and move forward while pretending they are just fine. Most often the reason for this response is that we simply don’t trust ourselves to “go there” because we are afraid of what it may dig up. We often don’t feel safe to grieve and we certainly don’t know how.

As women, we have often been chastised for our emotions  and so we have learned how to squash them, afraid to make waves or cause a scene. So we just move on. We feel the pressure to not drop the ball. We have jobs, families, and responsibilities to attend to and the pain of our experience never really gets the attention it deserves. The truth is, pain is real. Feelings are real. Lost dreams are real. Grieving is vital and I love when something comes along to help us learn how to do it, and do it well.

Loved baby is a 31 day devotional by Sarah Philpott, PhD. Through sharing her own experience and the contributions of those in the Loved Baby tribe, this book meets needs of one who has lost a baby to miscarriage.

What I love about this book is the gentleness in which it is covered. She writes from a place of knowing, caring, and deep faith in a good God. This journey is intended to help you, “move through the loss rather than stepping over it.”

Philpott walks the reader through the emotional and the practical sides of grief. She offers advice on: how to respond to insensitive comments, what to do with the promotional material that will come in the mailbox, the potential pain of mother’s day, the loss of plans and dreams, and even how to love and honor the father in the process.

Loved Baby isn’t overwhelming or threatening. It’s manageable in it’s size and content for each day helping the woman to take slow and grace-filled steps toward healing. It is not overly preachy but it is sensitive to a variety of women in all manner of stages of their faith journey. What I also love is that at the end of each day, she offers a short prayer. I see so much value in helping someone who is grieving by offering an example of what one could pray. People regularly complain that they just don’t know how to pray in moments like these, and this is a gentle and loving way to begin.

There is such a great need for this book! As a pastor I am so thankful for a resource I can recommend to any woman walking through this situation, in fact I have already given it out!

If you have lost a baby, do yourself a loving favor, get this book.

If you know someone who has lost a baby, get this book, and offer hope, healing, and love.

We do not love ourselves or those around us well when we hide, or stuff our emotions. When we experience loss, there is hope and healing. Grieving is not a waste of time.  I am thankful for tools to guide us.

Sharing hope and healing joyfully,

Season