A Traveler’s Advisory (review)

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A Traveler's AdvisoryA Traveler’s Advisory by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In A Traveler’s Advisory, author Marcia Laycock takes readers from the Arctic Circle to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and home again. Each of the 52 meditations draws spiritual lessons from a travel experience (sections are titled “In the Air,” “On the Road,” “On Vacation,” and “Far Away Places”) and make practical applications to life.

Written in Marcia’s characteristic warm, easy-to-read style, they make for fascinating and uplifting reading. Some of my favorites:

– Most fun: “Sea Shells and the Process of Faith” (p. 111)—hunting for sea shells on a Papua New Guinea beach.

– Sadly relatable: “A Wrong Turn to the Right Place” (p. 34)— going in circles is not fun!

– Would make my bucket list: “Angels in the Badlands” (p. 71)—a visit to the Passion Play in the Alberta Badlands.

– Most scary: “Doubts in the Storm” (p. 41)—being stuck on a highway from the Yukon to Alaska in a snowstorm.

– Most beautiful: “Small Miracles” (p. 87)—a hike through the Sepik area of New Guinea.

– Most weird: “An Appreciation of Light” (p. 73)—a trek through some skeleton-filled caves, a relic of cannibalism, in New Guinea.

Through these devotions we discover that God’s voice, help, direction, comfort, and protection can find us wherever we are.

A Traveler’s Advisory would be a wonderful volume to read while on holiday. Or if home-bound, enjoy these travels vicariously from the safety and comfort of your reading chair. Your life will be enriched and your appreciation for the Earth, its inhabitants, and the God who made them enhanced.

I received a copy of A Traveler’s Advisory from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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Abundant Rain Journal (Review)

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Abundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of FaithAbundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of Faith by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marcia Laycock’s Abundant Rain Journal is a devotional journal that will be of special interest to Christian writers. Each of the 30 one-page meditations deals with some aspect of the writer’s life.

Laycock’s own experience as a writer makes her very aware of the discouragement, creative paralysis, tendency to procrastinate, and feelings of “what’s the use?” that can easily overtake those who work with words and ideas. She has used that knowledge to create a book of readings that will give Christian writers everywhere an inspirational shot in the arm.

Each devotion is paired with a short question and a blank ruled page inviting the reader to interact with the ideas just read.

As a writer myself I found many of the entries both a challenge and an encouragement. I like how Laycock uses typical writerly experiences like waiting for a shipment of books to arrive, or getting a rejection as illustrations. From her experience of writing in a variety of genres, she is able to relate to the writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry alike. Though I read the book quickly the first time around, I plan to go back and respond to many of the journal prompts. Some of my favorite quotes:

“The gift of language is God’s instrument in our hands” – p. 46.

“As writers, we have all been given a spur–the gift of communication–to use for the sake of others and for the sake of our most faithful God” – p. 50.

“We borrow language, words, images, the stuff of writing. It’s up to us to acknowledge the original owner, to offer back to Him what we have done with what we have borrowed” – p. 54.

If you’re a Christian writer who is looking for a devotional that is sympathetic to your avocation, you’ve found it in this volume. For those seeking to establish a habit of  writing regularly, the journal question that accompanies each meditation could function as a writing prompt. As well, I think this book would make an excellent devotional component for Christian writing groups.

I received a gift copy of Abundant Rain Journal from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

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Devotional with fit tips (review)

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Women of Strength - a devotional to improve spiritual andWomen of Strength – a devotional to improve spiritual and by Kimberly Payne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kimberley Payne takes us through the year in her devotional e-book Women of Strength. No, that’s not through the year as in 365 devotions, but through it in twenty-four, six each in sections devoted to the seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.

Each devotion is further divided into several parts. In the first, Payne talks frankly about some aspect of her life, relating her everyday experience to her spiritual journey and encouraging us to do the same.

The next section, “Exercise Your Funny Bone,” contains cute chucklers like: “The Best Vitamin for a Christian: B1” – (Kindle Location 108).

In “You Asked” she answers a common fitness or exercise question.

“Faith Lift” is a prayer.

In “Reflection” Payne talks about how she’s putting her exercise and diet resolves into practice in everyday while life—taking into account the season.

“Top Tip” is a cautionary tip for readers. For example, the tip for the first devotional is to check with your doctor before making significant changes in your physical activity level.

“Bible Truth” is a Bible verse to read and/or memorize.

“Challenge” contains a diet or exercise challenge, e.g. “Drink one less caffeine beverage per day” (KL 125).

And in the final part, “Praise Move,” Payne describes a physical exercise readers can try, along with advice on what to avoid when doing it.

I found this a great little devotional for several reasons. For one, Payne’s writing style is warm, friendly and easy to understand. She often tells on herself, reassuring us that we’re not the only ones that fall off the diet and exercise wagon.

The seasonal aspect of the book gives us an opportunity to see Payne in action throughout the year. Especially in the “Reflection” part, we see how she deals with seasonal challenges like exercising outside in winter, the changing schedule of summer holidays when the whole family is underfoot, and incorporating exercise into days when her children need her attention.

I really like her emphasis on living life in balance, which includes balance in exercise—she encourages a combination of flexibility, strength, and aerobic exercises—balance in eating, balancing the needs of family with personal needs, and balance in not allowing secular demands choke out spiritual life.

I found the “You Asked” sections informative. And though all the “Funny Bone” jokes were amusing, several were really quite hilarious.

This book would be great for personal use. I can also see it being a good resource for a woman’s Bible study group in the way it brings up a variety of topics for discussion, deals with seasonal challenges, encourages healthy living, and has a built-in activity (exercise) component.

You’ll make fit ladies out of us all yet, Kim!

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