On Barb’s Bookshelf: A Sea Without a Shore

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The weary, lonely and brokenhearted are the audience for Jeannie Ewing’s new devotional, A Sea without a Shore.
Jeannie Ewing often writes on the meaning of suffering. Her words will resonate with readers who feel alone in their pain. While this book is centered on suffering, it is infused with hope. The meditations in chapter 8 (“Faith, Hope and Charity”) are some of the most powerful ones in the book. This, I’m sure, is no accident: these are powerful virtues, as they must be to conquer the despair that can so easily come to those beaten down by life’s difficulties.
These meditations are not casual or flip: they are heartfelt, reverent outpourings of the soul. The language is formal, even poetic, with a unique cadence. Written in the first person, each meditation invites the soul to cling to God in prayer.

This devotional is the kind of book you can flip through, scanning the headings to find just the meditation you need for that day.

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 About the Book

Everyone experiences suffering and trials throughout life, whether in the form of death or significant loss of a relationship, finances, a home or job, and even a pet. Loss affects us all, and we are often left feeling empty, lonely, and lost in the midst of such excruciating darkness. Others may attempt to ameliorate our fears, concerns, and struggle, but to no avail. Even our faith may seem to fail us. Jeannie Ewing understands that holy darkness may veil us in a cloud of unknowing for a time, but we don’t have to capitulate to despair. Instead, we can journey through the mysteries and misunderstandings through the eyes of faith. In A Sea Without A Shore: Spiritual Reflections for the Brokenhearted, Weary, and Lonely, you will find a familiar friend journeying with you throughout the often murky and tumultuous waters of grief. No matter the cause of your pain and strife, this devotional will offer short but poignant insights that open your heart to God’s love and mercy.
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 About the Author

Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.

Facebook – Love Alone Creates: https://www.facebook.com/lovealonecreates
Click to enter for a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers or one of two paperback copies of A Sea Without A Shore!
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This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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On Barb’s Bookshelf: “Mary’s Way” by Judy Klein

Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God is both a testament to perseverance and a guide to surrender. Judy Klein shares her own heartbreaks as a mother, tracing her journey as a parent and a Catholic. But this book is more than a memoir: it’s a call to a very specific kind of prayer by mothers for their own children.

Judy Klein is careful not to make empty prosperity-gospel-style promises about what will happen if you pray for your child. While acknowledging that miracles can happen, Klein notes that when our prayers of petition seemingly go unanswered,

…God invites us to learn the power of prayerful surrender. It’s a prayer that can bring real peace, and it often brings us to deeper conversion and inner transformation. It sometimes takes many hard lessons and countless wrestling matches with God to learn to surrender, and it’s something we must practice as we go. But surrendering prayer is worth leaning into and learning well because, in the end, learning to yield to God and say yes to him in whatever life brings changes us. (p. 3)

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The beauty of Mary’s Way is that, more than anything else, it’s about the heart of the mother as she learns to give up control. We all want to control how things will turn out for our children, and despite tiger-mom and helicopter-mom strategies, we can’t guarantee optimal results by our own prayer, word or action. Instead, Klein urges readers to follow Mary’s example of faith.

Mary’s most exquisite blessing was not that she was given a “pass” on suffering but that she was permitted to participate in the Cross in a most profound and intimate manner. She found the greatest blessing precisely by uniting her deepest agony–watching her son die upon the Cross–to her Son’s own sacrificial offering, cooperating freely with salvific grace in bringing about the redemption of souls. We are invited to do the same whenever the Cross presents itself in our lives, turning our pain into a source of sanctification for ourselves and for others. (p. 8)

Judy Klein guides mothers toward surrender by sharing her own story, offering questions to ponder, and including prayers at the end of each chapter that speak to the heart of what mothers face as they learn to follow Mary’s example.

In this book, readers will learn of the beauty of endurance, how embracing the Cross can grace us with strength we cannot imagine, and how true friends support each other through trials.

You do not need to be a parent in the throes of suffering to benefit from this book. But if you are, or know someone who is, this book will be balm for the suffering soul.

Mary’s Way is a CatholicMom.com book published by Ave Maria Press.

Buy this book through my Amazon link and support FranciscanMom.com with your purchase! I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through Netgalley.com, but no other compensation, for the purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own.

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Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Joy-Filled Broken Heart

When we are dealing with problems (big or small), the thing we most need–and the last thing we want–is some perspective. It’s easy to be overcome by the troubles we’re experiencing, the suffering we’re undergoing; it’s easy to let that suffering rob us of our joy.

Mary Lou Rosien wrote The Joy-Filled Broken Heart to help us find “insight into how our attitudes can affect our ability to handle pain.” (6) This small volume is just what we need when we’re on the edge of despair. It’s not complicated or hard to understand. It’s written simply by a woman who speaks from her own experience and shares the stories of how she and others found peace in times of suffering.

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Gary Zimak observes in the Foreword,

The Joy-Filled Broken Heart serves as a great reminder that God is greater than our problems. He is so great, in fact, that He doesn’t have to remove those problems in order to fill us with His peace. (ix)

If you’ve ever let the feelings of anger or envy take hold of you when you’re dealing with problems, if you lose all focus on everything else but your problems, or if you blame others for your troubles and push them away (and who doesn’t do at least one of these things?) this book is for you. Mary Lou Rosien offers compassionate, concrete advice for untying the knots of our emotions.

Keep your journal handy when you read this book; it includes questions for reflection in each chapter and ends with quotes from Scripture and the saints for meditation and comfort.

The Fine Print: I purchased this book myself. This is an unsolicited review and I received no compensation for posting it. Links to this book are Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my website with your purchase.

On Barb’s Bookshelf: When You Suffer

For the longest time, I thought that suffering was something other people did–people who had it so much worse than I do. But I’ve come to realize two things: everyone suffers, and it doesn’t do anybody any good to compare other people’s suffering to your own. We all truly do have our crosses to bear.

when you suffer jeff cavinsJeff Cavins’ new book When You Suffer is steeped in the wisdom of St. John Paul II, who suffered right in front of the world for several years at the end of his life, displaying an exceptional courage and grace.

Jeff Cavins tackles a complex subject in a clear, concrete and approachable manner. Right up front, he maintains that “there is meaning in suffering if the suffering is joined with the suffering of Christ” (p. 1). The first seven chapters of the book deal with the history and purpose of suffering, including the Passion and death of Christ. The final three chapters are more personal, allowing readers to examine their own suffering and how it can be offered up:

Your suffering provides you with an incredible opportunity to work with [Christ] in redeeming the world, and it is an incredible opportunity to love the way he loves (p. 95).

Cavins makes a point about suffering that I’d never considered: it has a purpose. It can help us grow in grace, to grow closer to Christ–if we choose to allow that to happen.

During Lent, when we voluntarily take on suffering in small ways, such as giving up a favorite treat or creature comfort, the message of this book is particularly timely. It’s a perfect book to read as we approach Holy Week.

This is the first book I’ve read by Jeff Cavins. It won’t be the last.

When You Suffer is published by Servant Books.

Buy this book through my Amazon link to support Franciscanmom.com!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.