Using Nashville coffeehouses to help set her tone, Downs here percolates with humorous, self-deprecating, and well-crafted stories from her friends’ lives and her own to remind readers that living out one’s faith often means taking uncomfortable risks. From her painful move to Nashville, to her mission work in Scotland (countries with Starbucks need missionaries too!), to her first faltering steps toward becoming a writer, Downs shows women of all ages—but especially teens and new adults—that getting out of your comfort zone can be exhilarating and draw you closer to God. One caution: She does occasionally speak of God believing in our dreams, but overall she is clear that it’s God—not ourselves—we should trust.
“We went through fire and through water ... into a place of abundance.” The morning Vivian Mabuni first learned she might have breast cancer, God impressed on her heart this verse from Psalm 66. The fire and water that would follow—painful treatments, sleepless nights, family hardship—often brought her to the end of herself. But with comparisons to her running life, Mabuni shows how those difficulties pressed her further into God’s heart as well as that of her family and her friends. Christians just beginning this journey or facing other life-threatening illnesses will likely find her simple yet profound faith in God’s promises a model of perseverance.
McGrath, who recently wrote a biography of C.S. Lewis, says this book grew out of a request by his students at the University of London to learn not just about Lewis, but from him. Describing each chapter as a lunch date, McGrath explores Lewis’ ideas about friendship, apologetics, suffering, and much more with quotes, summaries, and stories from Lewis’ personal life. For young readers as well as older ones who want to become more familiar with Lewis and his thought, McGrath’s presentation is a lively, intriguing introduction to one of the 20th century’s greatest Christian thinkers and writers.
Forever Mom is a personal look at how adoption affects a mother’s life. Using her own experience of adopting six children as a basis, Ostyn addresses adoption’s effect on marriage and her relationships with her children. Though she touches on issues like finances and adoption agencies, this is not a reference book or step-by-step guide through the adoptive process. Instead, Ostyn focuses on family relationships—especially methods moms can use to strengthen bonds with adopted children once they are home. Not everyone will agree with her parenting advice, which puts a heavy emphasis on building attachment between parents and children, but many adoptive families will appreciate her seasoned perspective.
Three books are useful as beginner books but also beneficial for even the most battle-hardened parents.
Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson provides gospel-oriented answers to questions about sin, death, sexuality, and other difficult topics. In I Need Some Help Here! Kathi Lipp refreshingly advises prayer as the best resource for parents who feel powerless and overwhelmed. The book isn’t heavy on practical solutions, but it does aim to help parents deal with their own emotions. Kara Durbin’s Parenting with Scripture is a compendium of Scripture verses on subjects like pride, complaining, giving, and forgiving: It’s handy for parents who want their children to be not just good, but godly. —E.W.