Teaching Preschoolers the Promises of God (Book Review)

Lyell, Jennifer. The Promises of God: Storybook Bible: The Story of God’s Unstoppable Love. B&H Kids, Nashville, TN. 2019. 320 pages.

Over the course of this last year, I have started taking one day out of the week to teach my 4-year old niece and 2-year old nephew about God and the Bible. One observation I have made from these times is kids sometimes absorb more than we think. In the interactions I have had with my niece, in particular, she has communicated the truths we have learned, even without me initiating those topics in conversations. I have come to the realization that we as children’s ministry workers as well as parents and grandparents need to be intentional with these young hearts and teach them the storyline of Scripture so they can come to know the God who reveals Himself in it. It is with this same passion Jennifer Lyell has written The Promises of God Storybook Bible: The Story of God’s Unstoppable Love.

The Promise of God in the Stories of the Bible

With striking illustrations by Thanos Tsilis, The Promises of God Storybook Bible shows preschoolers a visual on stories of the Bible while teaching them the promises of God. It goes beyond just sharing well-worn and often-told stories, though. Lyell weaves the stories of Scripture with the thread of God’s promises. She shares a note to grown-ups before diving into 52 promises found in the Bible, 24 coming from the Old Testament and 28 coming from the New Testament. Each story opens up with the main point or promise before telling the narrative as it is found in Scripture. At the close of each story, the Bible reference is attached so the readers can know where to find the promise in Scripture. Each promise is a quick read, ranging from 2-6 pages, and concludes with a list of 3 or 4 questions for the kids to reflect on from the reading.

The Promises of God for Preschool Children

The book delivers on its promise as Lyell highlights the promises of God throughout each story she covers. Along the way, she introduces kids to big words like “covenant” (Lyell 42), “sin” and “sacrifice” (Lyell 48), and “sovereign” (Lyell 77), being sure to define and describe these terms in a way that preschoolers can grasp. While her full-time job is as the director of book publishing and merchandising at LifeWay, the parent or teacher reading this book to children will notice the experience Lyell has had as a preschool teacher at her church. This book deals faithfully with the character of God while formatting the content in such a way to engage preschool children.

The Selection of Stories

With much helpful content in teaching preschoolers about the person of God, the minor issue I found in the book did not have to do with what was in the book but what was missing out of it. After spending most of the Old Testament portion of the promises of God in Genesis through Joshua, the book jumps to the book of Isaiah and soon thereafter to the New Testament. While I understand an author cannot fit all of the stories pertaining to the promises of God in Scripture, I was curious why there was not more attention given to some of the Messianic prophecies and promises of the Old Testament that were then fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. With the greatest and most central promise focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ, I found this to be wanting in a passage like Exodus 11-12 and the blood of the lamb. Nevertheless, the book still does an exceptional job at teaching preschoolers about the promises of God.

What Better Promise to Share

I would be remiss if I did not mention the person this book is dedicated to, in part. In the “Words of Gratitude” section at the end of her book, Lyell dedicates the book to the loving memory of Job Wilson Kemp, a 4-year old boy who lost his life but is now with Jesus. Lyell had the opportunity to teach him as a 3-year old and his questions about the Bible and God stayed with Lyell. The one Job asked questions about is now the one who Job is with in heaven. He is another example that kids are not too young to learn and that they need to hear the message of God’s faithfulness. Case in point, this is a great Bible storybook to use for anyone who has a preschooler in their life. If you are a preschool teacher at your church and you are looking for a resource that can assist you in teaching the Bible in a way that preschoolers understand, then check out The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell. If you are a parent of a preschooler and are wanting them to come to know God, then get a copy of this book and read it aloud for family devotionals. If you are a grandparent and are wanting to pass on the hope of God to the next generation, then pick up a copy and pass it along to your preschool grandchild as a gift. What better promise could you share!

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Publishers in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Conversation Starter for Building Bridges (Book Review)

Morrison, Latasha. Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. Waterbrook, Colorado Springs, CO. 2019. 256 pages.

As we look out onto the cultural landscape, there seems to be much to discourage us. We live in a divided nation. Sound bites and tweets from politicians sow the seed of discord. Even worse, our churches seem to still be one of the most segregated gathering in our country. Rather than showing how the gospel has the power to bring together different ethnicities together in worship, too often worship gatherings reveal we are more bound to our cultural comfortability than we care to admit. For the sake of the gospel, this needs to change. In a divided culture, the church needs to put forth the power of the gospel and unite to build bridges rather than building walls. That is what Latasha Morrison attempts to do in her book Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation.

A Passion Put on Paper

As a black woman, Latasha has come face-to-face with what she writes about in the book. She opens up the book, admitting at one point she was ignorant of her own history and how serving as the only black on a church staff made her more aware of some of the issues and problems we currently face. Her heart broke as she saw the church “wasn’t the credible witness for racial reconciliation” (Morrison 5) and how acknowledgment and action toward building bridges needed to be done. Born out of this passion was the ministry of Be The Bridge, the purpose and content which has now been put into this book. The book itself is divvied up into three parts (Part 1: The Bridge to Lament, Part 2: The Bridge to Confession and Forgiveness, Part 3: The Bridge to Restorative Reconciliation). Within each of these sections, you will find chapters that close with a prayer and discussion questions while a liturgy caps off each section as a whole.

A Biblical Matter

There is much good to be found within the pages of this book. The section on lament in part 1 was especially helpful to me as a white male who desires to know how I can be there for my black brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those from other ethnicities as well. Far from arguing whether this matter is biblical, Latasha points to the Bible in recognizing various ethnic groups in the worship of Jesus Christ when He returns. She also wonderfully displays the gospel (Morrison 106), the only true hope we have for reconciliation with God and man.

Wanted: Greater Clarity and Further Thought

Yet, with all the good to be found, there are some areas where greater clarity was needed, or further thought should have been considered. For instance, within the same topic of conversation, Morrison uses the terms racism and colorism. Unsure if there is a distinction, it seems, based on the context surrounding this discussion, one was used when referring to when one color is looking at their same color with a prejudiced attitude. Even after reading the whole argument, I am still not exactly sure, however, if or what the distinction is. As well, while I agree with some of what the author states on systemic racism, the quote on page 116, “ask for forgiveness in participation in racism or structural privilege” is a statement I would tweak as I am unsure I would use the same type of language when addressing structural privilege (which, to be clear, I have no problem it being addressed). Sin does need to be confessed if there is racism, but it gets a little trickier in the conversation on structural privilege. I do believe some need to confess and ask for forgiveness as they have willingly participated in structural privilege to the neglect of considering and caring for minorities. Yet, for those who have been merely ignorant, I am not sure that I would frame it that same way. That said, I am not sure what is put forth on page 116 should be directed on the broad level it is.

An area where further thought could have been presented was on the note about reparations (chapter 8). Morrison uses the Old Testament’s teaching on restitution as a case for reparations. While I appreciate her taking us to Scripture to make her argument, my struggle is if the term reparations is the best fit then or if restitution needs to be the terminology used here to be consistent with Scripture. Additionally, dealing with the personal versus corporate concepts here would have been helpful to think through because in considering this argument from the Old Testament we need to be sure we are understanding in its proper context as well as the context of the Bible as a whole. Honestly, this is an area I struggle to fully grasp what it needs to look like and even in determining how to understand this argument, observing whether this is a requirement for the pursuit of racial reconciliation.

A Conversation Starter for Building Bridges

At the end of the day, you are not likely to agree with everything laid out in this book. I cannot say I do. Yet, Latasha Morrison is just fine with that. Her desire is to work toward unity, not uniformity. That’s the same desire I have! The way forward to unity is through listening to one another and learning from each other. That is what you’ll exactly get in this book. In order to build the bridge in these conversations, you must be the bridge by connecting in relationships. If you want to find a conversation starter that will encourage you to build bridges, not walls, in the pursuit of racial reconciliation, then check out Be The Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison.

I received this book for free from WalterBrook & Multnomah as a member of their launch team program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Not an Easy—But an Essential—Read (Book Review)

Miller, Anne Marie. Healing Together: A Guide to Supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2019. 208 pages.

My heart has been grieved and my anger has been kindled as I have heard report after report of sexual abuse by clergy and church leaders. The very people you would figure you should be able to trust take advantage of and abuse it. Moreover, when victims of this abuse come forward, too often they are not believed or they are silenced. At the time when the church community ought to be coming around in support of the victim, they shame them and isolate them. As an associate pastor overseeing youth and family ministries, I don’t want this to be the response of me or of the congregation I serve as a pastor. I want to provide care and support to the victims and survivors of abuse. Thanks to Anne Marie Miller in her new book, Healing Together: A Guide to Supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors, I am now learning to do just that.

A Book of Experience and to Educate

Anne Marie Miller, the author of the book, does not write this book as a distant learner. For her, this matter is personal. That is because she has experienced sexual abuse by a pastor. She opens up the book by sharing her story of childhood clergy sexual abuse (chapter 1). She has walked in the very shoes and faced the experiences many survivors face. Yet, not only is Miller a survivor; she is also a diligent student of understanding the trauma of abuse as she has studied evidenced-based approaches to healing (Miller 14). While she does admit she isn’t an expert in the field, her experience and educational background make her an ideal guide in the discussion. She knows the areas supporters need to be aware of such as the different types of abuse (chapter 2), who the perpetrators are (chapter 3), and understanding the survivors and victims while also understanding the place and role of supporters (chapters 4-5). After guiding readers through these areas, Anne Miller devotes the final chapters of the books to guide supporters on helping survivors (chapter 6), training them on sexual abuse prevention and response (chapter 7), and finishing with a final word of hope (Conclusion). The 3 appendices in the back of the book further equip supporters in understanding trauma and its effects and defining key legal terms involved in this discussion.

Not an Easy (But an Essential) Read

To be honest, Healing Together is not an easy read. In it, your heart will break and be angered by the abuse Anne Marie Miller suffered in and by the church. You will hear about the horror that comes with experiencing sexual abuse. However, even though it is not an easy read, it is an essential read. In a culture where the church has not responded well (as Miller’s story and the SBC’s response reveals), this type of book gives Christians a guide for caring for sexual abuse survivors. While readers, I being among them, may struggle or disagree with some stances in the book (for example, the role of the church or of biblical counseling in the healing process) (Miller 92), this book does lay out the issues supporters of sexual abuse survivors need to consider as they care for those they love. Even when there is disagreement, what Miller puts forth should cause her readers to think through the matters presented. They will also appreciate the honesty from Miller as she admits “church” is something she is still working on herself, and understandably so (Miller 14). The goal in all of this is that by understanding and coming alongside the abused, the love of Christ would be shown to the world (Miller 87). If you are someone whose heart breaks for survivors of sexual abuse, especially within the church, and you want to consider ways you can care for and come alongside them in the healing process, then take a look at Healing Together: A Guide to Supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors by Anne Marie Miller. Let survivors of sexual abuse know they are not alone!

I received this book from Zondervan on behalf of the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Teaching Kids to See with a Grateful Heart (Book Review)

Surette, Janet. Scarlett’s Spectacles: A Cheerful Choice for a Happy Heart. B&H Kids, Nashville, TN. 2019. 24 pages.

As someone who wears glasses, I know well the difference a set of lenses can make to my vision. I need my eyeglasses so I can see clearly. Something similar can be said when it comes to how we view life. Depending on what lenses we use, we may either look at life with a grumbling or grateful attitude. I think this is especially important to consider when it comes to teaching kids and encouraging them to see life with the right set of lenses. Janet Surette gives us just that in her new children’s book, Scarlett’s Spectacles: A Cheerful Choice for a Happy Heart.

A Story of Spectacles

With colorful illustrations by Shane Crampton, Scarlett’s Spectacles features a young girl named Scarlett and her mother, who teaches Scarlett each day there is a choice to make between a glad or grumbly pair of glasses to see life through. As Scarlett considers her mother’s words, Scarlett’s attitude begins to change. As she puts on the glad pair of glasses, tasks such as cleaning her room and times where her siblings may get more treats than her are not seen as places to whine about what she has to do or what she doesn’t get; rather, with the attitude of gratitude, she is happy to have a room to live in and glad she gets treats as well as her siblings too. Seeing now with a clear vision, she tosses out her grumbly pair of glasses for her glad spectacles. The book ends with a reminder from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in everything.

Seeing with a Grateful Heart

Scarlett’s Spectacles: A Cheerful Choice for a Happy Heart by Janet Surette provides parents with a resource to give both their children and them a biblical perspective on life and to be glad even for the mundane and everyday tasks. While the book could have been more strategic in laying out the gospel, which is what produces the power to gain a glad attitude over a grumbly one, kids, as they go about their days, will see why they should do so with an attitude of gratitude. If you are a parent of a 4-to-8-year-old who has an attitude problem or if you want to teach your child why and how they can be grateful, then get this book and put on this biblical set of lenses that will teach your kid (and you) to see with a grateful heart!

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

Teaching Kids about Being Friends (Book Review)

Goodgame, Randall. Are We Still Friends?. B&H Kids, Nashville, TN. 2019. 64 pages.

There are life lessons parents would do well to teach their kids at an early age. There may be few more important than lessons on friendship. As I have talked with parents of older youth in the church, I have noticed the common theme of the need to teach the youth how the Christian faith informs their friendships. Yet, this is not merely a matter for older youth. From an early age, kids would do well to learn what it means to be a friend and how to treat friends. They now can in Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame.

A Story of Trust and Forgiveness

Illustrated by Cory Jones Are We Still Friends? is the latest addition in “A Slugs & Bugs Story” library. The story uses the principle of Ephesians 4:32 and follows Doug and Sparky as they gather with others for a picnic day. Sparky has brought along Flavor-Blasted Pizza Chips to snack on, which happen to also be a favorite treat of Doug’s. When Sparky gets pulled into a rematch of a picnic game, Doug is left alone with the bag of chips. Tempted to take a bite, he reasons he’ll only try one chip. Before Doug knows it, the bag is gone. When Sparky realizes his chips are gone, Doug lies to cover his wrongful actions before finally confessing to what he did. The story ends with a lesson that friendship is best built on trust and forgiveness.

An Engaging Lesson for Kids

Randall Goodgame does an exceptional job teaching kids about being a friend and he writes in a way that engages children on their age level and understanding. The book does not merely tell about what it means to be a friend but shows how to be one through the message of a story. The use of rhyme makes the reading of the book catchy for children’s listening ears. This is good because the topics of trust and forgiveness are crucial elements of friendship that kids need to learn and know. By taking kids through this book, they will see how sin can hurt friendships and how the gospel informs them.

A Little More Detail

With so much commendable content for parents and guardians to teach their children about friendship, there was one aspect the story did not address, even briefly. For a book that touches on themes of both trust (real friendships need it) and forgiveness (real friendships offer it), it would have been helpful to include in the story that as forgiveness is offered, trust may need to be rebuilt in some ways. An ideal place for the author to have addressed this would have been after one of the other characters offered Sparky a new bag of pizza chips. Instead of just stating in the story that they feasted on the chips, the story could have had Doug facing consequences and, while forgiven, not getting to partake in the feast. It is possible, however, that scene in the story was meant to portray grace, which I would have no issue with. If that was the case, though, I wish it would have been made clearer. Either way, a little more detail could have been added to that portion of the story.

Start with This Book

In the end, Are We Still Friends? by Randall Goodgame provides parents with an engaging resource for their children to learn what it means to be a friend and how the Christian faith informs their friendships. Because the target audience of the book is 4-to-8-year-olds, this book is preparation for kids as they develop and deepen friendships in their youth and as they get older. If you are a parent who wants to encourage and equip your child what it looks like to be a friend and how to treat friends, then start with this book!

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Book that Brings Hope for Racial Reconciliation (Book Review)

Lewis, Dhati. Advocates: The Narrow Path to Racial Reconciliation. B&H Books, Nashville, TN. 2019. 160 pages.

Growing up, I was ignorant of the racial divide and issues plagued in history and present with current events. Then, in Bible college I took a course called “Culture, Race, and the Church”. My eyes were opened to the racism that had not yet died and to the racial inequality that still exists. I was made aware of the problem and reality of racism. Since that class, numerous news headlines have exposed how far we have to go in race relations. Even within the church, there is a hesitancy to bring up and address matters of race. Yet, what our culture needs is not for the church to be hesitant but to bring hope. That is the very thing Dhati Lewis brings forth in his new book Advocates: The Narrow Path to Racial Reconciliation.

A Biblical Path Forward

Whereas many conversations on the racial tension we see tend to bring heat, Dhati Lewis makes the focus of his book about examining our own hearts and how to engage the “personal, relational, and systemic issues of racial division” (Lewis xiv). Dhati is one who knows the issue well as a black man who is married to a white woman and serves as a pastor of a multiethnic church. He lays the foundation that his guide in dealing with these issues is the Bible and a the book is described as re-discovery of its rich content on this matter. The preface of the book is wisely filled with clarifying terms with biblical definitions of words like reconciliation and justice and explaining what it means to be biblically woke. It also provides disclaimers for the conversation presented in the book and emphasizes the importance of the local church for the health of the Christian.

The main section of the book is a call to Christians to pursue the path of racial reconciliation guided by the gospel. The book walks this path forward in four parts: (1) Awareness, (2) Vision, (3) Strategy, and (4) Courage. The author spends the better half of the pages putting forth the vision of what it means to be an advocate for a biblical understanding and pursuit of racial reconciliation, using the book of Philemon to show advocates rely on Christ (chapter 3), run to the tension (chapter 4), and respond with dignity (chapter 5). The book closes with an appendix on practical strategic initiatives on how to REP (Reflect Personally, Empathize Corporately, Pursue Reconciliation) Christ.

Being a Part of the Solution

From the opening pages of the book it is clear Dhati Lewis is interested in how to work toward the solution of racial reconciliation. He has done this in his church using the REP Christ paradigm. While it is tempting (and many tend) to be aggravators in discussions on the racial tension in our culture, Lewis shows throughout his writing how the testimony of Scripture calls for Christians to live out the gospel reality of being one in Christ and to talk about the vision in terms of what God is for, not what God is against, which impedes too many of the conversations at present. Dhati is honest in the issues surrounding the racial tension and humble that only by God’s strength and wisdom can those who advocate practice and persevere in racial reconciliation. (It is worth mentioning Lewis spends the majority of his time addressing the tension between blacks and whites in particular, although racial tensions with various other ethnic minorities are an important matter as well.)

A Late Mention

With rich biblical content throughout the book, I was surprised the book of Philemon doesn’t get mentioned until page 39. To be fair, the majority of part 2 of the book focuses primarily in Philemon. However, considering how the synopsis of the book was presented as using Philemon as a model (for example, see the back cover), I had expected to at least read a reference to Philemon at the very beginning of the book. In the end, though, Philemon was adequately used in the conversation and for the purpose of the book.

A Hopeful and Handlebar of a Book

Advocates: The Narrow Path to Racial Reconciliation by Dhati Lewis is sure to be a handlebar to steer church leaders and Christ-followers toward biblical solutions in conversations on racial reconciliation. As church leaders and believers listen and learn from the heartfelt lessons Dhati shares, they will find themselves examining their hearts and asking how they can be more intentional in serving as an ambassador of Christ in reconciliation. If you are someone, like me, who has become aware of the racial tensions and problems we are facing but needs courage and guidance on becoming an advocate who speaks up, then you will want to pick up this book of hope by Dhati Lewis.

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Life-Changing Call (Book Review)

Platt, David. Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need. Multnomah, Colorado Springs, CO. 2019. 224 pages.

This past summer I went with a team from my church to the Philippines on a ministry trip. We support a missionary there and were able to serve alongside him and his family during our time in the country. In a context where poverty is seen up close, I noticed my missionary brother’s concern for not only the physical needs but ultimately the spiritual needs of the people. For his ministry, ministering to spiritual and physical needs was not an “either/or” proposition; it was a “both/and” reality. I came away from that trip convicted, challenged, and called to action. Then I read David Platt’s new book Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need and am convinced that this conviction, challenge, and call cannot fade but must translate into lasting change.

Sharing His Trek

Platt approaches Something Needs to Change with a different format than his previous works. He takes the reader on his 8-day trek through the Himalayan trails, sharing what he and his team did, what they witnessed, and how he was impacted. The reader is given a “behind-the-scenes” look from David Platt on this journey through a place that has great physical needs to combat like extreme poverty and sex trafficking while also recognizing the great spiritual need of sharing the gospel in places where people are hostile to Christianity and where salvation in Christ has not been heard. Each day in the book ends with reflection questions to invite the reader on the trek and to make the most of their journey as they come to terms on how they can best answer the call to make their lives count.

Risk of This Book

In typical David Platt fashion, he does not shy away from the cost of following Christ and he warns the reader of the risk of this book. David faces this risk himself as he details his trip through the Himalayan trails and opens up as he meditates on God’s Word and is moved to action in God’s calling for his life to count in a world of urgent physical and spiritual need. He is honest about his struggles in how to help those in need and wrestles with the possibility of moving to the Himalayas to care for and reach others in need and with the gospel. Readers should know Platt does not hold back on the great physical needs he saw as the book contains heartbreaking accounts (page 39 for example). Yet, David Platt makes clear broken and moved hearts must result in affections and produce action.

Life-Changing

While some may wonder if they need to respond as radically as considering a move across the world, David is wise to point out that not everyone’s trek to this call will look the same. Still, he affirms, “God has created your life to count in a world of urgent need” (Platt 195). If someone picks up this book and their life still looks the same, then this book has failed its purpose and has missed its mark in the reader’s life, according to David Platt. That is to say, Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt is a life-changing book for any Christian who wants to obey the call of God to love their neighbor in need. Yet, because of the great challenge this book presents, this may be one of the riskiest or most rewarding books Christians can read because their lives will never be the same. If you want to find biblical conviction and accept the challenge to answer the call of God in reaching out to those in physical and spiritual need, then you will want to be sure to get a copy of Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt today.

I received this book for free from WalterBrook & Multnomah as a member of their launch team program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Valuable Message for Little Girls (Book Review)

Denhollander, Rachael (Illustrations by Morgan Huff). How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?. Tyndale Kids, Carol Stream, IL. 2019. 32 pages.

In her letter to Judge Neff during the Larry Nassar case, Rachael Denhollander posed the thought-provoking and heart-breaking question, “How much is a little girl worth?” In a world that is tempted to place a young child’s value on their intellectual capacity or athletic ability, kids need to hear a message that lets them know they are more than the grades they make or the games they play. Little girls who have been sexually abused need to the word of truth that their value comes from the One who made them, not devalued by those who abuse them. These children need to hear the voice of Rachael Denhollander. They can now in her new children’s book How Much is a Little Girl Worth?

Beautifully illustrated by Morgan Huff, the book paints a picture that girls of all shades of color have value. The message throughout the book is these young girls have value, not because of what they have accomplished or how much they know but that they have inherent value in who they are. Rachael lets little girls know they are created by God, and they find their worth as those made in His image and in the Savior who came to die for them. Girls will hear the message of their worth and that they are worth fighting for. As a sexual abuse victim, Denhollander makes it clear to little girls they are worth speaking up for and doing what is right for them. That is because they are valuable, and it is that message that shows the ultimate value of this book.

How Much Is a Little Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander is a book that needs to be read by every parent to their little girls. Little girls need to hear they are worth fighting for when they are wronged and cared for when they are abused. Across generations, little girls and women need to hear the message they have worth as those made in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of Christ. From the voice of Rachael Denhollander in this book, little girls will find their value in who they are.

I received this book from Tyndale Kids on behalf of the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Personal and Powerful Invitation (Book Review)

Denhollander, Rachael. What is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. Tyndale Momentum, Carol Stream, IL. 2019. 352 pages.

The stories they share haunt my thoughts. The wounds they bear break my heart. The weight survivors of sexual abuse carry I cannot begin to imagine. Yet, while my heart has been affected, my mouth has remained closed. When I should have spoken up, I have remained silent. After reading What Is a Girl Worth? By Rachael Denhollander, this has to change.

Rachael’s Story

Many will recognize the name of Rachael Denhollander as the one who broke the news to the Indianapolis Star of the sexual abuse that was done at the hands of Larry Nassar. In the span of 29 chapters covering over 300 pages, Rachael shares her courageous story as she recounts the trauma of being sexually abused and the determination to expose the truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. She takes the first 12 chapters to recount the events leading up to her contacting the Indianapolis Star to expose Larry Nassar for who he really was. In the remaining chapters of the book, Rachael details the challenging process she faced in working with the hope the law and courts would convict Larry for his sexual abuse to countless girls over many years and to find justice in the end.

A Personal and Powerful Account

The book is a personal and powerful account of speaking up against the evil of sexual abuse and calling people and institutions to stand up for justice. Rachael opens up about the struggles she faced after being sexually abused, including wrestling with her Christian faith. She counsels readers on the issue of people not believing victims about their abuse and why some do not speak up sooner about their abuse. Hers is a voice both counselors and the abused need to hear.

By highlighting her case with Larry Nassar, Rachael shows this is more than a personal problem in our culture; it is an institutional issue. Even with Larry sentenced and behind bars, USAG and MSU still have a ways to go to reform the way they recognize, report, and respond to sexual abuse. Moreover, as it does so throughout the whole book, Rachael’s courage calls out the church to be better on this issue. Sexual abuse is not only an evil done in gymnastics but in the church as well, as Rachael knows and shows. The church has too often been silent, speaking up in theory but remaining quiet when it is in their own backyard. They focus on grace and forgiveness to the neglect of justice. Because she loves the church and is convinced the gospel is the only sufficient answer for justice (Denhollander 100-101), Rachael believes strongly the church must care well for the abused. The power Rachael’s words carry call for people in general and institutions like the church to love and protect those who may not always be able to protect themselves.

More Than a Book, It Is An Invitation

What Is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander is a personal and powerful story of Rachael’s courage to face evil and speak up for truth and justice. Yet, it is more than a book. It is a call to action. To fight against evil. To report what is right. To respond with care for the abused, seeking healing for the wounded, and loving well no matter what the cost. There is still work to do. Consider What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander an invitation to listen well to the abused, to speak up for what is right, and to join the fight against sexual abuse.

I received this book from Tyndale Momentum on behalf of the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

A Book for Dementia Caregivers (Book Review)

Glenn, Mike. Coffee with Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia. B&H Books, Nashville, TN. 2019. 208 pages.

One of the hardest experiences is seeing a parent or grandparent suffer with a disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Yet, one of the most honorable and humbling opportunities is to serve as a caregiver to that person in the midst of their suffering. Because it can come with moments of discouragement and despair, caregivers can struggle with feelings of loneliness and that no one understands the experiences they are going through in caring for a loved one. That’s what makes Coffee with Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia by Mike Glenn such a valuable resource.

Counsel from a Caregiver

Mike Glenn is the senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee and understands the desire to honor parents while caring for them in their declining health. Serving as a caregiver for his mother over a period of four years, Glenn had to make the hard choices of moving her from the comfort of her home to an unfamiliar place. He had to face the false accusations that come with having a parent lose their memory and not always knowing or remembering what is going on. This is what makes Pastor Glenn the perfect candidate to author Coffee with Mom. He opens the book with a call to caregivers to put on their oxygen mask (chapter 1) before helping those in need. Each chapter contains stories of Mike with his mother. He opens up about their conversations, sharing struggles he and other caregivers may face while also providing counsel to caregivers who may need it. The occasional “Coffee with Mom” sidebars feature quotes from his mom as well as tips from one caregiver to another.

An Open and Pastoral Heart

While a few places in the book seem to repeat stories or points already made (see chapter 17 for example), the author’s transparent and thoughtful approach helps walk anyone through serving as a caregiver for their aging parents. The author reminds readers they are not alone in this honorable, yet hard, work. Mr. Glenn does not shy away from highlighting the challenges, such as taking the car keys from his mother who was told previously she could no longer drive. His pastoral heart shines through in some of his counsel as he reminds caregivers, “A person doesn’t just lose their memories; they lose themselves” (Glenn 88). He is wise to take some time to speak to adult children who may not have had good parents or who have been wounded by abusive parents (Chapter 20). He offers a word of exhortation to all caregivers when he states upfront, “remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint” (Glenn 13). In Coffee with Mom, this marathon has been given markers along the way.

A Book of Conversation and Counsel for Caregivers

Coffee with Mom is a recounting of Mike Glenn’s own marathon of caring for his mother and dealing with his own grief. If you are someone who has been given the responsibility of making decisions and caring for your loved one as their health declines, then get this book and let it encourage you. If you are a caregiver of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, then you will want to get this book to help you grieve and to remind you that you are not alone. Coffee with Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia by Mike Glenn is a book of conversation and counsel for caregivers.

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.