Friday, August 23, 2013

Encouragement for Today by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer

Encouragement for Today: Devotions For Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Team is a newly published book that includes 100 devotions from over a dozen contributing authors.  Each devotional is short and easy to understand, and directly applies to the lives of women in modern society.  Each excerpt includes a themes, scripture, quick prayer and three sections: Remember, Reflect, Respond to reinforce the spiritual lesson adding an additional personal dimension to the material.  The fact that over a dozen contributing women worked to write this book is certain to draw in many readers, from all walks of life.  This reflects the reality that even though women share some common challenges, that women face varied circumstances and are in different phases of life.  This book's audience is broad and includes mothers, wives, grandmothers, and independent career women, students and singles with experiences and needs ranging from the trivial day to day issues to intense pain and grief.  Some of the writers draw heavily on their own personal experiences and anecdotes, while others are more theological or draw on stories taken directly from the bible.  This varied style adds to the variety of this compendium so as to not alienate some readers whose personal lives and experiences vary widely.  Basically this book is like a modern day book of parables for today's reader.

When writing a book for a broad audience- it is hard to have every devotion apply to every reader- its impossible in fact.  In large part the writers tend to focus on the middle to upper middleclass, comfortable woman- married, with children and either a career woman or stay at home mom. And yes it is true for many readers, life is less than ideal- as these readers may not be able to relate to all circumstances or stories in the devotions. There are daily devotions included that cover severe hardships such as home foreclosure, divorce, illness and abuse.  Some are personal stories of overcoming and some are written from the point of view of the caring friend or sister offering support. Each writer has her own style and personality.  For example, Lysa is very outspoken and volatile and speaks a lot about marriage.  This will encourage readers in troubled marriages to persevere as well.  Either way, this book will equip the reader to endure hardships as well as becoming a listening ear or in offering comfort to others who might be suffering. I believe that the writers are writing as an outreach to the large audience of fast paced, busy women who may be too sidetracked with career and family to take time to ponder the word of God.

With its simple cover of a minimalist white vase and color coordinated blooms, it looks as if this image came from a home décor magazine or other popular women's magazine.  Those women who religiously follow  the latest issues of Home & Garden, Self or Oprah, feeding their minds on materialistic junk, should pick this book up instead and feed their souls.  Personally I feel this book is a perfect outreach in order to draw in the modern middleclass- upperclass woman to integrating biblical principles into her day.  This book teaches an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation- traits that are often overlooked in modern privileged society. It also teaches empathy and other the development of other spiritual traits that can be used to help others in the reader's circle of friends, family and associates.   In general, I feel this is an empowering book as it addresses the special and unique emotional needs of women.  It is packaged in an appealing format.  This is a good book of life lessons, in short bursts.  Any reader who meditates on the authors' messgaes will find a more fulfilling, spiritual life in accordance with biblical teaching.
As a blogger for booksneeze I received this book from Zondervan publishers for the purpose of writing this review,

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