Category Archives: Books

A Review of Placemaker by Christie Purifoy

Today we are celebrating a the release of Christie Purify’s new book Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace.

Being a part of her book launch team is one of the best experiences ever because it feels like a group of best friends gathering on a Saturday afternoon each curled up on couch with a cup of tea.

Scattered throughout this review are bits of my story and the pictures of the current trees in my life.

I first fell in love with Christie’s writing when I read Roots and Sky; A Journey Home in Four Seasons. Her writing is warm, gentle and makes you feel right at home.

In Placemaker, Christie eloquently weaves her story with the story of the trees she and her family encountered in every place they lived from Texas, to Chicago, IL, to Florida and finally to an old red brick farmhouse called Maplehurst in Pennsylvania. A story filled with the beauty and peace of each place despite the challenges encountered.

The day Placemaker arrived at my place.

The book is also about community and belonging, about opening your homes to family and friends even though you just moved in, and it’s about cultivating beauty, comfort and peace whether you are walking though a season of abundance or though a wilderness season.

Definition

What is a Placemaker? It is someone who willingly sinks their roots deep, even though they might be there for a short time.

Making and tending good and beautiful places is not a dishonorable retreat. It is a holy pursuit.

Christie Purifoy
Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace

Trees?

Trees first came to mean something special to Christie because of the cover of The Magician’s Nephew one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. However, the cover of her copy is not all about trees but somehow they were what she remembered. Guess God was preparing her to write this book even as a child.

Then she discovered that trees spread their roots down and out and feed off one another. They are a community serving one another.

We are to be like trees, sink our roots deep and serve our neighbors.

Sinking roots deep is what Joe and I did when we moved here. We developed wonderful relationships with our neighbors and we have been there walking each other through a garden or wilderness. While there are a few other reasons, my neighbors are the main reason I have never moved – and have no intention of moving.

The trees know waht we struggle to accept; it is right and good to love my neighbor as myself.

Christie Purifoy
Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace

A Life of Trees

At first I found myself jealous of how she was able to tell her and her family’s story through the trees that inhabited every place they lived.

Then I remembered, well duh! You can tell your life story through experiences with trees starting with the chestnut tree of your childhood and ending with
the maple tree on my tree lawn and the trees in the woods behind this house.

The tree lawn maple

A Wilderness of Discontent

Like all stories, Christie’s contains chapters about grief, loss and walking through her wilderness season in Florida. A season of running out of dreams, not feeling appreciated, and making new friends at church but they all live on the other side of the city.

Like winter, the wilderness is always a promise. God leads us in and, one way or another, he leads us out again. Or, if he doesn’t lead us out, he does something almost more miraculous: he plants trees in the desert, and he causes rivers to flow there.

Christie Purifoy
Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace

Yes, God lead Christie out of the wilderness in Florida to a tree-lined driveway in Pennsylvania.

My Wilderness

In April 2018 I was writing my 10 Year A Widow series, about the lessons learned since Joe’s passing, I was overcome with tiredness. It was as if someone stuck a straw in me and sucked all the life and energy out of me. It’s what led to reduced blogging and…reduced placemaking. I gave up and this house looks like I’ve given up on it and life in general.

Until now.

Thank you Christie for reminding me of the importance of placemaking and that it is a holy endeavor. Your book is nourishment my soul desperately needs.

My Favorite Chapter

Rainbow Over Woods Behind House – June 2008 (about 2 1/2 months after Joe’s passing)

In the chapter titled Rainbow Eucalyptus and Roses, A Place For Those Who Mourn, Christie writes about her brother-in-law Shawn Campbell’s passing off the shores of Oahu. It is a beautiful, eloquent tribute to Shawn.

You will need tissues.

However, after reading about the last event in that chapter, you will be saying “Only God.” Because only God could have planned and carried out that tree event. It has Romans 8:28 written all over it.


28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28
New Living Bible (NLT)

The Placemaker Effect

Christie’s book will inspire you and cause you to reflect upon not only how you can be a placemaker but how where you live changes you.

So if you are looking for a place to be deeply rooted in peace, start by sinking your roots deep into reading Placemaker.

Thank You, Christie

Thank you, Christie for writing a beautiful, uplifting book. I pray it will encourage those walking through a wilderness and inspire those in a garden season to sink their roots deep and wide where ever God has placed them.

I leave you with one final quote, that sums up why this world needs us to be placemakers.

With God’s help, we can pick up the pieces of an old and dying world, and we can make them new. We can make a place where beauty and peace can take root, flourish, and grow.

Christie Purifoy
Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace

Additional Resources

Roots and Sky; A Journey Home in Four Seasons – Christie’s first book.

Out of the Ordinary Podcast Christie does with good friend Lisa Jo Baker

ChristiePurifoy.com – A Spacious Place – Christie’s blog

The Legal Pad: All links on this post are non-affiliate links. I am a member of the Placemaker book launch team and received a free copy of Christie’s book in advance of today’s release date. However, the one I pre-ordered on July 3rd, 2018 arrives today. 😀


Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

The Only Resource for “Discovering Love Online” (review)

Preparing Yourself For The Adventure

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and enter the world of online dating but have heard horror stories from friends and family that would cause Stephen King to have nightmares. Plus you do not know where to begin as there are so many dating sites your head spins like a merry-go-round.

Discovering Love Online: Love May Be Closer Than You Think: (Find the Love of Your Life Through Online Dating) by [Miller, Chuck]

Then Discovering Love Online, Love May Be Closer Than You Think by Chuck Miller is the practical resource you need in preparing for an enjoyable, successful adventure. In addition to his online dating experience, which led to him find his current wife Deb, Chuck was a singles ministry director for a number of years. His book is not only based on experience but a lot of research as well.

Chuck takes the guesswork out of what to do and where to begin. He does this by assuming you know nothing so he covers the basics, including grooming, manners, first impressions, and where to go on dates among numerous other topics.

He has a Master of Divinity degree so his Christian faith is mentioned throughout the book. Miller explains how his beliefs apply to dating and why his conservative values will help you when it comes time to meet someone in person.

While the book is filled with advice about online dating, it is also filled with age-old adages that are still true.

Where Do I Begin?

You begin at the very beginning with the age-old adage:

“Know Thy Self.”

Socrates

Because how can you know what to look for in a spouse if you do not know who you are, what you like and what your goals are in life. Part of this process may include personality assessments and even considering the advantages and disadvantages of staying single. There is nothing wrong with staying single as God designed everyone differently.

Part of the process of knowing yourself is determining your list of non-negotiables. These are items that are deal makers or breakers.

For example, potential non-negotiables could include: faith, whether someone is an animal lover, the political party they are affiliated with, are they a smoker or a drinker, and do they believe in tipping the pizza driver well.

This is just a partial list what could be non-negotiables. Your list of non-negotiable items will be different from anyone else’s since we are all unique individuals.

Paid vs Free

Another age-old adage that is still true today is:

You get what you pay for.

Chuck provides a brief summary and pros and cons, starting with Chemistry and ending with Zoosk, to help you determine which one is right for you. He does recommend choosing a paid site because people on those sites tend to be looking for long-term relationships.

Without passing judgment, the clientele on paid services tend to be more earnest in their efforts and more thorough and accurate in creating their profiles. I’ve experienced it first hand and so have many others seeking love online.

Chuck Miller
Discovering Love Online, Love May Be Closer Than You Think
pg 47


This is the person with whom you hope to spend the rest of your life.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

Once you’ve chosen a site, Chuck even tells you how to set up a winning profile. This includes what information to share and what not to share, photograph advice, answering questionnaires, and storytelling advice for your profile summary.

It is true today as it ever has been:

Honesty is the best policy.

There is no room for embellishment or flat out lying in your profile. It will come back to haunt you at some point in time. Be honest in who you are and what you do.

Also, he mentions that incomplete profiles are also not acceptable. Photo’s need to be there and be current, profile questions answered and basic information filled in.

Your dating profile is your online dating resume. You may wince and groan, but it is true. “Interviews” are granted based on the information contained in your profile. So if you do not want to end up in the shred pile, fill out your profile completely.

Not Just For Scouts

Chuck admits there are risks involved in meeting people you met online and encourages you to be extremely careful selecting people to meet offline.

However, he acknowledges these risks apply to people you are introduced to by friends, family or that you meet in the produce section or any other public place.

He also gives you tips on what to look for to determine a possible unsavory character whether they intend to take your money, cause physical or emotional harm.

So whether you choose online dating or meeting someone the old fashioned way –

Be Prepared.

Be prepared for anything. Have friends or family at the same coffee shop if you choose to meet there. You can never be too careful.

The Tip of the Iceberg

This is just a tiny bit of advice covered in Discovering Love Online. This book will help prepare you to find that special someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.

Chuck did a wonderful job combining his faith, age-old adages, and advice in his book. I highly recommend this book if you or anyone you know are considering online dating. If you have any questions, his information is listed below.

Doubting Thomas?

Still not sure if this book is for you? Then check out The Do’s and Don’t of Successful Online Dating –  FREE through Valentine’s Day. It is a 38-page Kindle booklet that will help jump-start your search, give you an idea of the author’s writing style and information that you will find in Discovering Love Online. $2.99 through Valentine’s Day (Kindle).

Additional Resources

Website: Discovering Love Online

Propeller Cap, LLC | Independent Publishing With A Unique Spin

Blog: Discovering Love Online

Chuck’s Amazon Author’s page

The Legal Stuff

Author’s Note: Chuck Miller and I met when he attended GriefShare after his first wife’s death. I’ve seen him go from mourning to joy and that joy includes finding his current wife Deb (an absolute sweetheart) via online dating.

Disclaimer: I purchased the Kindle version and was given a free autographed copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All links are non-affiliate.

The Invitation Is Participation – A Review of The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist

(Disclaimer#1: Any mention of  “church” in this post refers to the Big “C” church from Maine to Southern California, to Florida to Alaska…and Hawaii too. It includes all denominations and not just the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed.)

Aaron Niequist book The Eternal Current; How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning is the latest book in my collection to fall victim to my pen, highlighter, and sticky notes.

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Are you tired and weary when it comes to your faith? Feeling like something is missing but you do not know what? You just know that 3 or 4 contemporary songs and the occasional hymn leave you empty. Do you leave church on Sundays and Wednesday nights wondering “Is That All There Is?”

Well, then The Eternal Current; How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us From Drowning by Aaron Niequist is the book you need to read.

Now I know a lot of people will say that you can not work out your salvation by doing practices. That is true and Aaron makes it clear practices such as The Examine, Breath Prayer, and Centering Prayer are not how we get salvation, however, they are practices we can do to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with Jesus by doing what

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Aaron shares his spiritual journey and the journey of implementing a weekly service called The Practice. His writing challenges the church to take a look at the way they are doing things and equips and empowers individuals with practices to implement that will enrich their faith and lives.

The Examen

I’ve implemented the practice of the Examen into my daily routine. At the end of the day, before bed, I reflect on God’s activity in my life that day.

The Examen involves the following steps:

  1. Invite the Holy Spirit’s Guidance
  2. Review the Day in Thanksgiving
  3. Notice the Feelings That Surface
  4. Pray from These Feelings
  5. Look Forward to Tomorrow in Hope

Doing the Examen is slowly opening my eyes to the good God does in my day. It is the perfect practice for anyone but especially those of us working in customer service call centers.

Best Description

The one-sentence description on Amazon sums up this book best:

A call for Christians to move past the shallows of idealized beliefs and into a deeper, more vibrant, beatitude-like faith rooted in sacred practices and intimate experiences with God.

So if you are seeking more then I invite you to open this book and participate in practices that will help you swim in The Eternal Current.

Thank you, Aaron for sharing your journey and providing practices to help the world swim in The Eternal Current.

Musical Soundtrack: 

Besides Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is? The following songs ran through my head as I was reading the book.

Let The River Run – Carly Simon

The River – Jordan Feliz

Proud Mary (Rolling on the River) –  Tina Turner

 

(DISCLAIMER#2: I am part of the launch team for The Eternal Current and received a free Kindle and hardcopy of the book. However, the thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.)

 

 

Living With My One Broken Heart

In the new devotional book The Way of Abundance, a 60-Day Journey into a Deeply Meaningful Life,  Ann Voskamp asks at the end of the Day 4 Devotion,

  • How are you living with your one broken heart?
  • How is God asking you to step toward an abundant healing?

These are the first questions, I’ve been able to answer. The other 3 days left me sitting at my computer in a stupor saying “Duh! I don’t know.”

My One Broken Heart

How am I living with my one broken heart?

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A heart that’s been broken more times than I can count in the last decade. First with Joe’s passing, then a year later being laid off due to a departmental reorganization, and then years of struggle rebuilding my career. So the answer to “how am I living wth my one broken heart? is:

  very messily

Life has been messy for the past few years. It’s what happens when every year is worse than the last one and you do not know what to do to improve your life. Fortunately, I have a job but as much as I love it, there are bills that can not be paid. Changes are coming soon which hopefully will mean a brighter future.

Abundant Healing

How is God asking me to step toward an abundant healing? The answer to that question is simple, painful and frustrating –

He is asking me to put my trust and hope Him.

Trust and hope are the two things that have slowly disintegrated in my life the last 4 or 5 years (I’ve lost track).

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It is hard to trust and have hope in God when everybody else’s life is flourishing and yours is heading down the crapper, no matter how hard I pray,  how long I pray, or the wording of my prayers. But I am called to put my trust and hope (confidence in a future event) in God even if he changes my residence to the city’s sewers.

More Questions

So those are my answers to Ann’s questions. I will be blogging about questions to other devotions as well.

 

What are your answers to these two questions?

 

(Disclaimer: I am on Ann Voskamp’s book launch team and received a copy of some devotions for review.)

 

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

Last Day for Free Copy of Discovering Love Online by Chuck Miller

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Today is the last day to get your FREE copy of Discovering Love Online: Love Maybe Closer Than You Think: (How to Find the Love of Your Life Online). At the stroke of midnight, the price will be $7.99 for the Kindle version.

It is a pleasure to write posts about this book because I saw Chuck struggle with his grief and wonder what God was doing with his grief. Well, I believe the book Discovering Love Online and its companion website is the good work God had in mind for Chuck.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

Romans 8:28

#1 vs #2

I heard from Chuck last night and he has reached the #2 spot in Love and Romance but the number of downloads slowed so he is now at the #5 spot. Downloads are what matters in determining rankings and not the number of people who read a book. I never knew that fact.

The goal is to reach #1 in downloads because per Chuck:

It makes a big difference to reach #1 compared to #2, in prestige as well as long-term rankings.

When you are starting a new business, you need all the help and prestige you can get.

My Copy

I’ve started reading my copy and with the winter storm about to make the weather awful (rain turning to ice, turning to 6 – 12 inches of snow), this weekend will be a perfect time to cozy up on the couch with a blanket and a hot beverage after work and read more. I have a lot to learn about online dating and trust Chuck’s advice.

Last Call!

So grab your copy today while it is still FREE! After reading it, please leave a review for Chuck. I know he would love to hear your feedback.

You can download the Kindle App for your iOS, Android, Mac, and PC here.

Blessings

Thank you, Chuck, for taking Deb’s suggestion to heart and stepping out in faith in this new direction for your life. May God bless you with the downloads you need to reach #1 in the Love and Romance category, may God bless this new coaching business and may you and Deb enjoy many more years of marital bliss.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance[a] upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

(ESV)

Photo courtesy of Shelby Deeter at Unsplash.com

 

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

Remarriage: An Eye Opening Perspective

One of the books I’ve given grieving people is Healing After Loss; Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. My copy was given to me by Joe’s Aunt at his wake. You read one page per day of this little book.

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The devotions are not geared towards any religion. There are quotes from authors, scriptures from the Bible and proverbs from other religions. After each quote, there are thoughts from the author and then at the end a one-sentence thought/prayer. I enjoyed reading this book and my copy is now in 2 pieces. It fell apart at April 17th, which is the day I started reading it.

Time For A Re-Read 

Since this year is the 10th anniversary of his passing and our 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to read this book again. Now for some reason January – March is much neglected. I do not know why and I’m kind of wishing I did not have this brilliant idea to read through it again because God showed me a different perspective on remarriage.

Today’s devotional is very brief but powerful and deals with the hole left behind by a loved one’s passing.

The quote is:

It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.

Goethe

Whitmore-Hickman’s thought is:

Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance -a blessing even- from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.

The thought/prayer is:

Keep me on the lookout for someone who needs me now. 

Ouch! God.

So the love and commitment I gave Joe in our marriage, needs to be given to someone else, a new relationship, with a new man. I never thought of remarriage that way until today.

Remarriage scares me. I am afraid I would get hitched to a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type of person. He is sweet and loving until we are pronounced husband and wife. Plus, blending two households is a lot of work. Houses would have to be sold and a new one bought. He would have to get along with Joe’s family as well as mine, then I would have to get along with his family.  UGH!  Too much work, too much stress.

Yes, I know if the right person came along, all the work would be worth it.

Other Relationships

This devotional can be applied to any relationship and not just the loss of a spouse. If you lost a daughter, as Whitmore-Hickman did, then you find an opportunity to “mother” another child. Whether it is through a mentoring program such as Kid’s Hope, teaching Sunday School, or spending more time with the single neighbor lady’s child.

But obviously, I see this from the perspective of a widow and remarriage.

Still Recommend? 

It’s almost 10 years since I first read this book. I loved it then and I still love it and still recommend it. My suggestion is when you give this to someone, keep a copy for yourself and read it together. You could email each other daily or meet weekly to discuss the devotions. I know the grieving person would appreciate having someone walk through the devotional journey with him/her.

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of red roses and golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

 

Devotional Books for 2018

For better or worse, 2018 is right around the corner. That means it is time to start thinking about what devotional book (s) to use next year. Every morning I sit down and read devotions and say a prayer. Sometimes the prayers are long and sometimes they are short.

The following are the books I am using in my morning devotions this year.

A New Classic

The Psalms of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller. (Tim is founding pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.)

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I saw his book at my local Barnes and Noble last fall and decided this would be my main devotional this year. (I sometimes read shorter devotional books in addition to a year-long one).

Each day consists of a Psalm or part of a psalm, Keller’s explanation and a prayer based on the Psalm.

Today’s reading was Psalm 116:1-11 

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”

These verses are about:

  • calling on God even when your emotions are out of control,
  • spending your life calling on him, which means trusting in him and nothing else for your salvation,
  • orienting your whole life to prayer, worship and living consciously of God at all times.

The prayer Keller wrote is about admitting we can’t handle life and the sooner we admit it, the sooner we will know peace by calling on God.

My Highlights From Today’s Devotion

The following words or sentences are what I highlighted in my book:

  • “…but he trusted God even when his emotions were out of control.”
  • ‘”I will call on him as long as I live.”‘
  • “…-to trust in him and nothing else for your salvation”
  • “…orient your whole life to prayer and worship.”
  • “This means to live conscious of him at all time”
  • “Love the Lord, for he listens.”
  • “I can’t handle this life.”

I am excited to finish the book as it means I will have FINALLY read through an entire book of the Bible. At my age, that is not good but I guess better late than never.

Songs of Jesus will give you a better understanding of the Psalms – one day at a time. You will not regret reading this book.

A Classic Devotional

The other devotional book I am using is the classic Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, L.B. Cowman, Edited by Jim Reimann (Editor of My Utmost For His Highest) Updated Edition

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I’ve read this book before but it has never spoken to me like it has this time.

Each day has a scripture and then a reading written by numerous of authors. These devotions make me think. They are not light and fluffy.

Some the daily readings contain poetry:

A little bird I am, 

Shut from the fields of air, 

An in my cage I sit and sing

To Him who place me there;

Well please a prisoner to be, 

Because, My God, it pleases Thee. 

 

My cage confines me round, 

Freely I can not fly, 

But though my wings are closely bound, 

My soul is at liberty;

For prison walls cannot control

The flight or freedom of the soul. 

(From October 12th Devotion)

Streams In The Desert was originally published in 1925 and has enriched the faith of millions of people, including me.

I highly recommend both books for your use in your devotional reading for next year, and the next, and so on and so on.  As you can see, they have become victims of my sticky notes. There are the usual pen and highlighter in the books as well.

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Oops…I cut off the sticky notes sticking out of the top of Tim Keller’s book.

 

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

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