Sarah Carter

About Sarah Carter

Sarah's Blog
Sarah Anne Carter is an avid reader who shares her book reviews on her blog. When her friends are looking for a book to read, they usually ask her for suggestions. When she is not reading, she is working on writing novels and enjoying her family.

Blog

Chasing Slow Book Review

Chasing Slow Book Review

Chasing Slow

by Erin Loechner
Length: Approximately 10 hours. To read (297 pages)
TCB Rating:
five-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

We are all chasing some kind of dream and working hard to run after all that we seek out of life. What if we were meant to slow down and enjoy the journey more than reaching a set destination? Chasing Slow is one woman’s true story on learning that lesson of finding joy and balance.

Who should read this?

This book is for any woman who feels pressured by daily life and its expectations. Single women, wives and mothers will all find something of value in how Erin went about learning to find the right pace for herself and her family, despite what the culture thought she should do, say and behave. This book is for women looking to lay down the burden they feel and find their true, authentic selves.

I would even encourage high school girls and college women to read this book so they can hopefully learn these lessons early and find their own way in the world with confidence. We don’t all have to follow the same path or expectations. The sooner we find our own paths, the more joy we will have in life.

Chasing Slow Book Review 1

SUMMARY

The How:
Erin Loechner is an early blogger, setting the tone before blogging became something almost everyone does. She was known as the “nicest girl online.” Her blog focused on design and she quickly became well-known, with work being featured on HGTV, Elle Décor, Parenting and Marie Claire. She is also a speaker requested to cover a variety of topics from design to parenting. The book was published in January 2017, just over a year ago, as Erin looks back on more than a decade of blogging. She brings the reader along to learn the lessons she herself learned as she sought more, then less, then what was right for her. The book is written for women facing the different stages of adulthood – singleness, wifehood and motherhood.

On her blog (Design for Mankind), Erin says the book is about slowing down when the world shouts for you to do and have more. “But it’s also about the inbetween. It’s about what it’s like to vacillate between different parts of yourself and not dizzy your mind from the whiplash. It’s about living in the tilt a whirl that is standing up for something, then losing focus and vomiting over the handrails. It’s about staking a claim into the ground, then tripping over it on your way into the house for dinner. It’s about what happens when you strive for excellence and fail, and when you allow grace to change your mind.”

The Why:

The book starts with Erin in college, trying to find her own way and starting to decide her future. Out of nowhere, she meets a man and starts to fall in love. The man has a brain tumor and may live a few years or many years. She learns to deal with it by trying to keep an eye on it, but it causes her anxiety. They move and settle in California and both start chasing dreams. The pressures and time cause a rift in their marriage.

They decide to move and simplify their lives, but then blogging enters the picture, along with the criticism of her presentation of design. Life gets busy and then comes the balance of having a child. She soon realizes that she should pare down some more, but perfectionism still looms heavy on her. Only when she starts missing moments of her daughter’s life does she finally start to find the rhythm that is right for her and her family. She stops worrying about her husband’s health to the point that it robs the joy of daily living.

The What:

Erin went from chasing more to chasing less to finally chasing slow. Whether following dreams or pursuing minimalism, women often place expectations and burdens on themselves that far exceed what is necessary for the situation. When blogging, Erin would often receive items delivered in the hopes they would be reviewed or used in her design blogs. She enjoyed getting the items for a while, but soon there was a lot of clutter and things that were not even used in her house.

When she would chase minimalism, she would allow herself very little leeway and it would feel more like something that had to be done in a specific way instead of creating more room for joy. Only when she chased a slower life did she finally find peace. She was able to let go and enjoy her life and her family.

ANALYSIS

Personal Perspective:

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was written in a personal journal style of writing, similar to Ann Voskamp. Erin goes through her life and lets you see her days through her eyes and then shares the insights she had during those different stages. The book is a journey instead of just telling the reader a way to life a slower life. I felt challenged to let go of some of my expectations and perfectionistic tendencies and look for ways I can seek to slow down and enjoy life on a daily basis.

Strengths

One of the best parts of the book is the writing style because the reader journeys and learns with the author instead of the author just telling the reader how to live. She’s very honest in her writing and letting the reader into her struggles. Her honesty lends credibility and she seems very authentic. Her story in inspirational and made me want to make some changes.

The book also ends with several resources for decluttering, including an A to Z Guide of tips to slow your life and Five Methods for Decluttering Your Home. It is really great to read a book that inspires you to make changes and find practical ways to start implementing that inspiration right away.

Weaknesses
Some readers may have trouble with a stream of conscious writing style, but the author does go in a chronological order, which helps keep things straight for the reader. If a reader hasn’t struggled with perfectionism or feeling the burden of daily life, I don’t think she would understand Erin’s struggles.

Erin’s faith is gently interwoven into the book, but not the main focus. She is honest with her struggles with God, too, which is another way many women can relate with her. If you are looking for a book that focuses on faith as the main way to change your life, that is not how Erin approaches the topic of slowing down.

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path
List Price: $24.99
Price: $14.12
You Save: $10.87
Price Disclaimer

CONCLUSION

Chasing Slow is a great addition to the recent books where women are being honest with their search for authenticity. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey, In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh, Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist are all in that category and they all help set the stage for a new era where Christian women can take off their masks and be authentic with their struggles and joys.

 

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “We were never meant to keep an eye on it. We were perhaps only meant to see today.” (Page 282)

  • “Authenticity is not the watering down of your message to help someone accept your words.” (Page 206)

  • “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” (Page 235)
five-stars
By | 2018-04-06T22:31:04+00:00 April 7th, 2018|

The Grace of Yes Book Review

The Grace of Yes Book Review

The Grace of Yes

by Lisa M. Hendey
Length: Approximately 2 hours. To read (144 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

Living out a Christian life as a woman means living a full and generous life. The Grace of Yes gives common-sense tips for eight virtues to develop in life where you can start living generously today!

Who should read this?

The Grace of Yes is geared toward Christian women and mothers who are looking to live a more Christ-centered life. Any Christian who is looking for help on daily living could read the book, but the virtues are more focused on women who have been Christians for many years.

The Grace of Yes Book Review 1

SUMMARY

The How

Lisa M. Hendey has been writing for mothers for years. She started up a blog called CatholicMom.com in 1999, which encourages women in the Catholic faith and in their family life. Hendey has also written several books to encourage mothers and a series for elementary children called Chime Travelers. She mainly writes for a Catholic audience, but her writing can encourage any Christian woman.

Her most recent book, The Grace of Yes, focuses on how to live a generous Christian life by following eight virtues – belief, generativity, creativity, integrity, humility, vulnerability, saying no and rebirth. In the book, Hendey doesn’t just give suggestions on how to life a generous life, she gives examples from her own life on how she has struggled, failed and succeeded in each of the eight areas. The book invites the reader to join her on this journey of generous living.

The Why

The Grace of Yes is really an encouraging book. All Christians struggle daily in living a life that is full of all God wants from us. By bringing the reader along her journey to live a generous life, Hendey shows how we can each try and strive to achieve the eight virtues every day. In a way, this book is a way of mentoring younger Christian women since Hendey has been through a lot of different scenarios growing up with faith, having a husband find his own faith, raising children, starting a ministry and now facing an empty nest.

Through her relationships with people through CatholicMom.com, she has seen a lot of different scenarios and helped many women along the way. I felt like she really wanted to pass along her best advice to other women as they are on their own personal journey of Christian living.

The What:

The eight virtues Hendey addresses are belief, generativity, creativity, integrity, humility, vulnerability, saying no and rebirth. She starts out with belief because it is the key virtue that all the others are based upon. She tells about her own journey of making her faith her own once she was a college graduate and living on her own. She also shares her husband’s conversion story to Catholicism and how they raised their boys in the faith.

At the end of the first chapter, she emphasizes how faith is meant to be shared and all Christians have a call to evangelize. This is the basis for all the other virtues she then discusses. She compares it to going out with your girlfriends and ordering a piece of chocolate lava cake for dessert. One bite is all it takes to tell all your friends that they should try it, too – it’s just that wonderful. “If we can share our passion for a slab of cake with this much conviction, why is it often so excruciatingly difficult to share our beliefs?” (p. 17)

The virture of generativity is about being self-less and being concerned with others. This virtue applies to marriage, family and community. The virtue of creativity is about using the gifts and talents God has given us to help others. We are also called to be creative, trustworthy and honest, humble and vulnerable. When Hendey discussed humbleness, she used the quote from C.S. Lewis: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” She ends the book discussing the virtues of saying no and being reborn. Both are very important because we cannot do everything or we will be burned out and not be able to do anything and we have to focus on being the person God wants us to be.

Various Scripture passages, songs and prayers are discussed throughout the chapters to support each virtue she is talking about. Each chapter ends with several discussion questions that could be answered personally or in a group setting. Each chapter also ends with a prayer for that particular virtue written by Hendey. While I read the book over just a few days, it would be best read a chapter at a time with time spent thinking about the discussion questions before moving on to the next chapter.

ANALYSIS

Personal Perspective

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a very quick read, but it was very encouraging to me. It is one that I will put on my bookshelf and read every year or so to remind me of how I should be living and what I should focus on. I have been following Hendey’s blog, CatholicMom.com, for several years to find encouragement and resources on my parenting journey.

I have read The Handbook for Catholic Moms and I am currently reading The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion – both written by her. I heard her speak about The Grace of Yes before buying it and was pretty sure I would be encouraged by it and I was. Hendey was speaking at a women’s conference I attended and was there to sign the book when I bought it. She wrote: May God bless your yes! She also asked for prayers as she ministers to moms through CatholicMom.com and travels for speaking engagements. She was very down-to-earth both while presenting and at her book-signing table.

Strengths

Some strengths of the book are that the author uses personal examples to explain how to live the eight virtues. She is very open and honest with how she has tried to live all these virtues in her own life, even her failures. I think her honesty adds credence to her advice on living out these particular virtues. She’s not talking about anything she hasn’t strove for in her own life.

She also supports all her ideas with Scripture, prayers or songs. She writes in a style that is very easy to read and it feels like you are sitting down to have coffee with a mentor who wants to journey with you. The book can be read individually or in a small group setting. The questions are great to really reflect on each chapter and internalize what Hendey is writing about.

Weaknesses

The book is written from a Catholic perspective, but not in a way that any Christian would have any objections to what she has written. Sometimes there are sayings that don’t translate well from Catholic to Protestant or vice versa, but this book doesn’t contain any of those sayings.

I do think she could have changed the virtue of generativity to a word that is used more often, like selflessness. I also think the book is not geared toward new believers as it goes in-depth in several Christian concepts that are more for someone who has been living a life of faith for a while.

CONCLUSION

I really appreciate books like The Grace of Yes where a wiser Christian woman is willing to be open an honest about their faith journey. Several authors have been going this route and it feels like there is more willingness in the Christian community to share true faith and struggles. Sheila Walsh, Shauna Niequist, Ann Voskamp and Lysa TerKeurst have all written books in the last few years that open the door for Christian women to take off their masks and share their real struggles, whether with self-harm, abortion, miscarriage or depression.

The years of aiming for perfection in the Christian community are coming to an end and supporting each other through struggles is becoming more the mainstay. I feel so encouraged as a Christian woman today when I see women in ministry being honest with their struggles. I think it will encourage the average Christian woman to be honest with her friends and in her church and community. If we’re honest with each other, we can help each other.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “I look back now and shudder at the woman I was then, so wrapped up in my career and my personal goals that I couldn’t conceive of sharing my time with children.” (p. 27)

  • “For some of us, saying no is far more challenging than diving into a new opportunity and figuring out the details later. Saying no requires more forethought, more discipline, and also a kindness that may seem contradictory to realizing and accepting our limitations.” (p. 109)

  • “There are definitely nights when it seems all I’ve done is move backward, both spiritually and physically. But I’m actually learning that those steps count as well. They are part of my motion. They make up the entirety of what this journey will hold in store for me.” (p. 139)
four-half-stars
By | 2018-03-16T01:10:55+00:00 March 19th, 2018|

Grace for the Good Girl Book Review

Grace for the Good Girl Book Review

Grace for the Good Girl

by Emily P. Freeman
Length: Approximately 9 hours. To read (257 pages)
TCB Rating:
four-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Overview

There are women who are always trying to be good - do the right thing, feel the right way, say the right thing - the good girls. Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman is for those women trying to show the world their authentic selves and not just their “good” side.

Who should read this?

I would recommend Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman to any Christian woman, especially younger women who are figuring out how to live on their own two feet away from home. The book has study guide questions at the end, so it would make for a good book club or small group discussion book. This book requires the reader to take a hard look at how she is living her life, but offers tips and hope to stop being the “good girl” and start being herself as God made her to be.

Grace for the Good Girl Book Review 1

SUMMARY

Freeman has been blogging since 2006 and Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life was published in 2011. She is married to a former youth pastor who now works for a non-profit discipleship ministry. She has three children, including twins. She has a podcast called The Next Right Thing and is a sign language interpreter. She truly feels called by God to encourage people with her writing, even to the point where she created a support group for writers show feel the same calling – hope*writers.

There are women who are always trying to be good – do the right thing, feel the right way, say the right thing – the good girls. The good girls often find themselves overlooked because they don’t live big lives, make big messes or ask for much of anything from anyone. Good girls are the dependable, reliable ones, but don’t often ask for help. However, even good girls need help, but first they must realize how to let go of perfection and live a real, honest life.

Freeman wrote this book because she is a self-proclaimed “good girl.” She shares many personal stories of how she journeyed to a place where she could give herself grace and get rid of the burden of perfection. She first addresses identifying the type of mask you wear as a “good girl.” By figuring out what you’re hiding behind with your mask, you can start figuring out who you truly are without the mask.

Then, Freeman gives advice to remain strong in your true identity by remaining in God’s truth. She recommends knowing you’re secure in God’s salvation, remaining in His love, respond to Him with worship and holding on to the truth despite the circumstances surrounding your life. In the last part of the book, Freeman discusses how women can feel safe even when they do fail, feel hurt, things go wrong or when they don’t feel safe. Safety comes in the security of knowing Jesus made them who they are and they don’t have to try hard to be who He wants them to be.

I believe women need to talk about the ways we hide, the longing to be known, the fear in the knowing. Beyond that, I believe in the life-giving power of story, in the beauty of vulnerability, and in the strength that is found in weakness,” she writes about the book on her blog at www.emilypfreeman.com.

ANALYSIS

I have had Grace for the Good Girl on my to-read list for a long time. I don’t know why I never got around to reading it until recently, but after reading another book by Emily P. Freeman, I knew I needed to read this now. Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World was a great read about focusing on living the everyday life well. I found it very inspirational. I requested it from my library through Overdrive and only had to wait about two weeks for the eBook to come available.

I wanted to read Grace for the Good Girl because I’ve lived most of my life as a “good girl.” I don’t have a dramatic testimony because I’ve always tried to live my life by following the rules. I know I missed out on some fun in high school by being a good girl who never asked for anything, but was always there for everyone. If I could go back in time, I would teach my younger self to be more authentic. However, I can only live in the here and now and I do know I have gotten more authentic with who I am as I’ve gotten older.

Seeing other women open up and share and need others has shown me that I need to do that, too. This book is a how-to guide on how to be more authentic and how to examine your life for any “good girl” areas that you need grace.

 I would have found this book much more helpful to me personally if I had read it in high school or college. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m pretty confident about who I am and try to live authentically. I know what my gifts are, what I like to do, how to balance time between family, giving and self, and what my priorities should be. I’m nowhere near perfect at all and spend many days still trying to balance it all, but I don’t feel like I’m hiding behind masks to make people think I’m “good.”

The book could have used more examples from other people who struggled with being a “good girl.” The author shares her stories, but more stories would have given her ideas more credibility. She uses Scripture to back up her ideas, but the book can seem a little preachy in a few sections. The parts of the struggle that were easier for Freeman might not be as easy for some others.

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
List Price: $13.99
Price: $8.83
You Save: $5.16
Price Disclaimer

CONCLUSION

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life should be included in most church’s teen and women programs to help reach those that are often overlooked. Most “good girls” are given less attention in church groups because they are already doing the right thing. However, they can be the most important to reach in some aspects because they are desperately searching to be able to be loved for who they truly are with their guard down – not just for being “good.”

The cover offers a very good illustration of the author’s main point. The cover shows a bird being let out of a cage. “Good girls” can often feel trapped in their roles but by finding their authentic selves in God, they can be set free. Once set free, “good girls” can be a power in the Church by showing others a true example of living secure in God’s love. I have not come across many other books that have addressed the “good girl” population in the Church.

FAVORITE QUOTES

  • “In that moment, in the middle of all that mess, I had a fleeting, initially unwelcome thought: What is the truth here?”

  • “We praise people who never let on they are suffering.”

  • “Because I care so much about what you think, my hiding has everything to do with you. I desperately want to manage your opinion of me. Nearly anything I do is to convince you I am good.”

  • “When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust in The One Who Is.”

  • “When bad girls perform to get their needs met, they get in trouble. When good girls perform to get the same thing, we get praise. That is why the hiding is so easy for us. We work hard, we do right, and we try not to ruffle feathers. And even if we do all that by the strength of our own selves, we tell ourselves it’s okay. It seems to work, therefore it’s acceptable.” 
four-stars
By | 2018-02-22T02:30:15+00:00 February 24th, 2018|

Oops!

Hi, thanks for dropping by! Looks like you caught us changing … our site design. Please excuse our mess! If you find any bugs or have an suggestions, email us at info@topchristianbooks.online. We’ll definitely reply.

Hey, before you go!
Grab a FREE Copy of the Institutes
SNAG IT!

 FREE DOWNLOAD 
John Calvin's Institutes 

close-link

Pin It on Pinterest