Book Review: The Promise Is His Presence

When I saw that Glenna Marshall was going to have a launch team for her book The Promise Is His Presence: Why God Is Always Enough, I jumped at the chance to be a member. Not only do I know Glenna personally (we attended the same college), but I have long admired her writing. Glenna is a faithful follower of the Lord who has seen some incredibly difficult seasons of suffering, but through them God has given her quite the story to tell.

The Promise Is His Presence (don’t you just love the title?!) is an excellent encouragement for those Christians who are suffering, wondering if God is present and active in their lives, or who just feel stagnant in their walk with the Lord. Marshall writes with clarity and conviction, showing how the theme of the presence of God is woven into the fabric of Scripture from beginning to end. I love how she personalized the book by sharing with the reader her own personal dark nights of the soul, and I related to much of what she wrote, though our struggles are different. There are so many passages I wanted to highlight that I feel like every page would be yellow! I highly recommend this book.

A few favorite quotes:

“Remembering God’s past faithfulness helps us to believe in His future faithfulness.”

“When we make the mistake of equating God’s inherent goodness with what seems good to us, we limit our belief in His ability to be good.”

“The weight of your heart’s satisfaction can’t be laid on another human being or a particular outcome. Only the giver of gifts can stand up to the heart’s relentless desire to be satisfied.”

Order your copy of The Promise Is His Presence at Amazon or other online retailers!

What I Read in 2016

Of the goals I made for 2016, I am chagrined to admit that I only succeeded in achieving one of them: reading 25 books. In fact, I managed to read 31.5* books this year, so really I’m an overachiever. While for some this is a paltry amount, I’m rather proud of it, as my reading in the past few years has been scattered and lackluster (I didn’t read more than 15 or 16 books in 2014 and in 2015). Like I have for several years, I tracked all of my books using Goodreads, and I thought I would also share them here. I’ve listed the books in the order that I read them, along with the rating I gave each one.

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Photographic proof of my goal achievement. 128%! It’s better than getting an A. 🙂 And yes, that profile picture is not at all current.

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (4 stars)
  2. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster (5 stars)
  3. Undone by Michele Cushatt (4 stars)
  4. The Trunk Key by Carolyn Nash (2 stars)
  5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (I didn’t rate this, but this was my review: “This book was so disturbing I can’t recommend it at all.”)
  6. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (3 stars)
  7. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (4 stars). I read this aloud to Charlotte and enjoyed it as much as I remember enjoying it as a kid. I read a lot of other books to Charlotte but didn’t think it was fair to count those, so I just counted one. 🙂
  8. Holding on to Hope: A Pathway Through Suffering to the Heart of God by Nancy Guthrie (5 stars)
  9. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (2 stars)
  10. Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter by Annie Downs (4 stars)
  11. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (5 stars)
  12. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (3 stars)
  13. The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (5 stars)
  14. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine (5 stars).
  15. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (4 stars)
  16. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld (2 stars)
  17. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (4 stars)
  18. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne (4 stars)
  19. The Girl in Seat 24B by Jennifer Peel (2 stars)
  20. *No One Knows by JT Ellison, the reason I only read 31.5 books. I realized about halfway through this one I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, so I stopped reading. Life’s too short to read books you don’t like, unless you’re in school, kids. Then tough it out. 🙂
  21. Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty (4 stars)
  22. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (4 stars)
  23. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (4 stars)
  24. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (3 stars)
  25. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (4 stars)
  26. Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah (3 stars)
  27. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (3 stars)
  28. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (3 stars)
  29. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2 stars)
  30. The Scars that Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering by Vaneetha Rendall Risner (4 stars)
  31. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (4 stars)
  32. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (4 stars)

Before I looked at this list I felt like I read a lot of the same kind of book, but I think I ended up with more variety than I initially thought. 19 out of the 32 books got a rating of 4 or above, and I am pleased with that. All of the books that got 5 stars (5 of them) I absolutely loved and would wholeheartedly recommend, but they are all pretty different from one another. The books that got 2 stars (5 of them) I really didn’t like much at all, but I kind of hate giving out 1 star ratings, so I ended up not even rating the one book I detested (looking at you, Sharp Objects). Of all the books I read, only 2 are books that I purchased. The rest I read through my library’s online eBook collection, borrowed from a friend (thanks, Leah!), or got for free on my Kindle. I used to buy a lot of books, but as I have gotten older and have more limited space, I really appreciate the ability to borrow books from the library and hope to read most of my books in 2017 that way as well.

I want to approach 2017 with a more structured plan (more on that later), but I’m happy with what I read this year and can’t wait to discover more great books! What were your favorites books from this year?

Friday Five: Books to Read

Since one of my goals this year is to read more, I thought it would help to plan ahead with my reading, so here are 5 of the books I intend to read.

1. Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

3. The End of Overeating by David Kessler

4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Have you read any of these? What books would you recommend?

Don’t forget to enter the book giveaway if you haven’t already. You have until 5 p.m. CST!

Booky Goodness and a Giveaway

One of my goals for the new year is to read more, and I am proud to report that I have already finished two books! Better yet, I’m even going to give away one of them, so stay tuned!

I kept reading/hearing things about the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and so I decided to use some Christmas money and order the book. I am so glad I did because this book ended up being one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. It’s an epistolary novel set on Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, after World War II (I had to look up exactly where the Channel Islands were), and it tells the story of a group of people on Guernsey who began a literary society as a cover from the German soldiers, who occupied the island for most of the war. The letters focus mainly on Juliet, a cheeky, charming British author who learns about the society through one of its members who happens to find a book with Juliet’s name in it and then writes her. Her curiosity is piqued with his first letter, and other letters follow. Soon Juliet finds herself corresponding with several of the society’s members, and she becomes quite attached to them, and they to her. The letters provide fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking glimpses into life during wartime, and I found myself at times brought to laughter and tears while reading their stories. A visit to the island itself is practically inevitable for Juliet, and what she finds there is certainly more than she bargained for. I adored this book and its style, and with the slight caveat that there is some language in it, I highly recommend it.

The other book I read is The Spark, written by Chris Downie, who is the founder and CEO of SparkPeople.com, the weight loss and fitness website that I have mentioned many times on my blog. Part inspirational memoir and part self-help, the book details a very practical and focused 28-day plan for achieving your goals. While the focus of the book is primarily on weight loss, Downie points out that many of the principles can be applied to goals in other areas of life. Although much of the content was a review for me due to my two year experience with the SparkPeople site, it gave me fresh motivation to reach my weight loss goal and reminded me of the fundamentals that are so essential to successful weight loss. This book would no doubt be very helpful for someone who is beginning a weight loss journey or needs new motivation and inspiration, which is why I want to give away my copy!

To be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you would like to win the book. That’s it! The contest will end Friday, January 15 at 5:00 p.m. CST. and is open to anyone in the U.S. I will use random.org to draw a winner.