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Archive for February, 2013

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Every year, I begin with the same thoughts: This year, I’m going to dive into the Bible with gusto! I’m going to follow a Bible-in-a-year reading plan. I.am.going.to.read.the.whole.Bible.this.year.  I do pretty well for three or four weeks, re-reading Genesis, getting through Exodus . . . . One time, I even made it all the way through Isaiah.  But, eventually, my good intentions fall away, my fatigue and busy schedule take preeminence, and I stop reading.  Usually in fits, missing a day here and there, then whole weeks; I try to read enough to catch up, but by March, I’ve given up completely.  I still read my Bible, but not daily and not in any organized fashion.

Sound familiar? What can we busy moms do to keep ourselves grounded in the Word, without adding guilt onto our heads?

Enter A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year by Diane Stortz, published by Bethany House Publishers.  Diane has not only provided a daily guide to reading the Word, she has offered encouragement for the journey, as well.

The first part of A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year is a series of testimonials given by women whose lives were changed by reading through the Bible with a small group.  I love this idea.  As women, we hunger for relational learning.  I have always stalled in my Bible-in-a-year reading, but if I felt part of a community, all facing similar struggles, where I could safely share not only my failures, but also my triumph, perhaps I could keep my momentum.  The testimonials are uplifting and encouraging, pointing to the love of Christ, not the legalistic reading of His word.

Next up are brief guidelines and explanations for using the plan, both individually and in a group.  Diane also includes a very brief overview of the Bible and how it came to be what we read today.

Finally, come the reading lists.  Each weekly reading comes with a brief introduction, the chapters to read, main ideas (checkpoints) from the reading, and an opportunity to journal your thoughts or insights.

I really appreciate the simplicity of the reading plan, which alternates between Old and New Testament writings, as well as the brief commentaries.  I’m excited again to jump into the Bible this year, but this time, I’m considering organizing a few other women who might like to join me and discuss our readings.  Even if it is only one or two others who want to get together over a Skype or Google chat, I believe this concept of community will greatly encourage us as believers.

I give A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year five stars.

**I received a free review copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.  My views are my own.**

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Lily’s Plight, the third and final installment of The Harwood House trilogy written by Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford and published by Barbour Press, closes the stories of three British sisters who, for their own individual reasons, sold themselves into indenturement in America.  Lily Harwood, the youngest of the sisters, served the Waldon family willingly and with joy for the four years of her indenturement.  She cared for Susan Waldon, the beloved and terminally ill wife and mother, as well as mothering the four young Waldon children placed in her care.  The only dark spots in her life are the constant threat of Indian attacks on the wilderness settlement and her burgeoning love for the Waldon family patriarch, John.

With John often gone from the homestead serving in the colonial militia, the burdens of farming, homemaking, and warrior-life fell to Lily.  When her chance comes to leave the homestead, Lily must decide where she truly wants to be – with John and his children or with her now-wealthy sister, Mariah, enjoying a life of ease more suited to her upbringing.

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review Lily’s Plight.  I truly enjoyed Laity and Crawford’s earlier series, Freedom’s Holy Light, and knew that this newest series would carry the rich historical detail, genuine characters, and well-paced plot that I was accustomed to from their earlier work.  I did not have a chance to read the first two books in The Harwood House series, Rose’s Pledge and Mariah’s Quest, but I didn’t find that this hindered my reading of Lily’s Plight.

The historical detail was a very accurate.  In some ways, I wished Laity and Crawford would have softened the emotions of the settlers toward the raiding Indians, just to make it a little easier to read.  However, their characterizations of both the  Indians and the Colonials as pawns in the war between the French and British was spot-on.  I think a little modernism may have been added when treating the possible romantic entanglements for Lily.  It seemed to me that the young men were quite forward in both speech and mannerisms, but then again, life on the frontier did not have the ultra-civilized, restrained atmosphere of a colonial city.

The romantic tensions between Lily and John were well-played out through the whole story.  Thankfully, as  expected, Laity and Crawford did not leave that tension as the only one.  Family disputes, Indian attacks, military fiascoes, and spiritual growth all work together to move the story of Lily along at a moderate pace.  No break-neck racing toward the finish line of this story, but neither does the book bog down at any point.

I am very interested in picking up a copy of both Rose’s Pledge and Mariah’s Quest to find out these sisters’ stories.  I give Lily’s Plight 5 stars.
**I received a free review copy from Barbour Press in exchange for a review.  My views are my own.**

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