Book review, Christian author, writing

Book Review: God Isn’t Finished with You Yet by Catherine Campbell

I love how Catherine brings each Bible story to life in her book. She discusses 7 different Bible characters in depth, using an almost Ignatian style, where you can imagine yourself in each scene, immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of those times, interacting with the people there. She helps you to better understand each character’s circumstances and the challenges they face.

As someone who can struggle with concentration whilst reading sometimes, I was surprised at the depth of detail she goes into as she explores how the story is relevant to us in our own individual lives. I tried to use this as a daily devotional but concluded this would work better in a group setting where there was more time to prepare and read the suggested connected Bible passages in the study questions. There would be more time to discuss the themes Catherine brings to light.

However the encouragement her writing brings, in turning around characters’ difficulties and sometimes their self-inflicted situations, is palpable. It shows how God can work through our failures and is an inspiration and hope for all of us in using these shortcomings for His glory.

This book will delight those who can identify with the difficulties each character endures Seeing the transformation of its characters to demonstrate how God moves in our broken lives. Those low times that aren’t the end of the story. It’s also for those looking for more in-depth study of the some less known characters in the Bible.

I’m grateful to SPCK who kindly allowed me to read a pre-publication of this book. This is my own honest opinion of the book.

Book review, Cancer, Christian author, Mental Health, writing

Matt McChlery Book Giveaway & Book Review

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy? In his book, Standing in the Storm, Matt McChlery, shares his personal story, including growing up in Zimbabwe and how he came to live in the UK. He also readily talks about the importance of his Christian faith through it all.

Matt’s openness and honesty stands out throughout his story as he reveals his experience of being diagnosed with a Stage 4 lymphoma. Although he shares in detail about the pain and suffering he endured, I found his writing style easy to read and didn’t really want to put it down! He talks candidly about his diagnosis and how it affected his faith, his family and him personally. He’s not afraid to discuss the impact it had on his mental health at times too.

It gave me some insight into what it’s like whilst having chemotherapy and the dilemmas and harsh realities of living with cancer. This book would be helpful for someone with a cancer diagnosis but also someone who is supporting a loved one or friend on their cancer journey. It’s encouraging to see a man opening up about how cancer affected him and continues to affect him in the present and will hopefully help those grappling with a diagnosis to open up more about their own experiences. It may also help those questioning their faith in similar circumstances, to see God at work in Matt’s life through it all.

For a chance to win a copy of Matt’s book, head over to my Instagram account @flourishmhuk to enter the book give away…competition closes on Sat 28 May 2022.

Book review, Family relationships, Wellbeing

Jesus Sits With Us In Our Pain

Recently I’ve been reading Liz Carter’s new book, Treasures in the Dark, a mixture of poetry and prose, written whilst she was shielding during the national lockdown earlier this year. Her poetry is so expressive and the sections of the book are divided into the seasons of the year, each piece pointing to the hope we have in Jesus.

Liz lives with a chronic lung condition, thus why she was shielding. Her 1st book, Catching Contentment, was written out of living with this condition as a Christian who hasn’t yet fully experienced God’s healing but has found ways to know God’s presence and some contentment through it all.

Reading her Easter poems from her Treasures in Dark Places book, I was drawn to Friday, expressing the pain of Christ’s crucifixion seen through the eyes of a disciple:

FRIDAY

We weep for you

our tears are our food

day and night

our souls wrenched apart

shards of desolation pierce our hearts

Yet you capture our tears

gather the great oceans of them blend them with your own

you shoulder our agonies

and you sit inside them with us you are torn for us

but ‘do not weep,’ you say, ‘take courage,’ you whisper.

We join in the groaning of all creation dive into echoes of exultation

ache for the song of restoration

and wait with fragments of tear-washed hope.

The second line of the first verse is based on Psalm 42 : 3 where an upset King David is thirsting after God , crying out to the one who saves for help. How often do I come to God in the difficult times? Cry out to Him for all that I feel, lament and mourn? It’s so easy to look to other people or things first for comfort, yet God knows what we need, before we even ask.

The second verse starts with:

“Yet you capture our tears

gather the great oceans of them

blend them with your own

you shoulder our agonies

and you sit inside them with us.”

These words leapt out at me when I first read them and were a great comfort in a difficult time, coming to terms with some bad news for a loved one. That Jesus is with us in our sorrow and pain, sitting with us and catching our teardrops is a strong reminder that he understands even our negative emotions and sits with us through them. We are not alone, no matter how we might feel or what we are enduring.

The news I had received had pulled out all kinds of emotions after initial numbness: positive and sad memories, guilt and a rawness and vulnerability that came from deep within. I had to bring all I was feeling and thinking to God and surrender the pain into His hands to relieve the burden and ask for His wisdom for how to act moving forward.

There is hope that there will be a time when God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21) and there will be an end to our suffering when we leave this life behind. This brings comfort in the here and now, despite what is being thrown at me. Jesus in his death knows the pain and hurt that the world has endured for all of time. He knows the full and unfathomable weight of that burden and remained faithful to it, even to a death He didn’t deserve on the cross – fully man, yet fully God. It’s mind blowing, a mystery but also brings liberation and peace to a hurting a wounded world.

Is there any pain you need to bring to God today? Remember that He ‘catches our tears and sits with us, no matter how great that hurt may be.

Liz’s new book, Treasure in Dark Places, is available from Christian bookshops, Waterstones and online at Amazon. For more information about her book and where to buy it, click here.