Book Review: Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply


If you’re looking for a fun, yet meaningful Bible study, check out Deb Burma’s new book: Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply. This study refreshed my thirsty soul.

Using coffee analogies and word pictures Deb explores God’s Word–especially the topics of God’s refreshing grace and how that grace fuels our everyday lives.

The book has seven sessions:

  • A Clean Cup (forgiveness and renewal in Christ)
  • A Poured-Out Cup (God’s refilling when we feel empty)
  • A Dumped-Out Cup (dumping out the bad–guilt, worry, fear)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Circumstances (contentment)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Relationships (relationships with God and others)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Opportunities (using your gifts)
  • My Overflowing Cup (thankfulness)


Because I love studying Scripture, I especially appreciated Deb’s different study approaches. In one chapter she outlines the “blended-flavor details study approach.” First, she talked about how the different flavors of specialty coffee drinks blend together to the unique taste sensation. Then she encouraged readers to explore a passage of Scripture, looking at it from different angles, asking questions like:

  • How are you convicted of your sin and prompted to repent?
  • What do you learn about your Savior?
  • Specifically, how are you moved to praise Him and to respond with action, by the Spirit’s power?

Throughout the 7-week study, there are ample opportunities to drink deeply from God’s Word. And as we savor the Word, we receive His peace and joy.

The book also includes personal stories, fun coffee facts, delicious recipes, and even some coffee-themed projects that would be especially fun for groups to complete together.

The imagery in this study helps us grab onto concepts that free our souls and deepen our relationship with Christ. Deb writes,

As God pours His grace into our lives, it’s like a pure, sweet cream poured into the bitterest of coffee. Is the coffee still there? Of course. Will the bitterness of our circumstance remain in our lives, at least for a time? Quite often, yes. But what we taste has changed. By the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us, we are able to see the same situations in light of God’s grace for us in Christ Jesus, who drank the bitter cup of suffering for us, dying in our place to forgive our sins and fill us with faith and trust in Him.

So grab a cup of your favorite cup of coffee or tea, settle into a comfy chair with Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply and refresh your soul through God’s Word. Better yet, invite a few friends to join you!

Find Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply at CPH and Amazon.

Next step: As you enjoy your next cup of coffee or tea, thank God that His Word refreshes our thirsty souls.

Deb BurmaDeb Burma has a passion for sharing Christ’s redeeming love in a creative, engaging style, touching the hearts of women, meeting them in the moments of their everyday lives, and engaging them in God’s Word. She travels extensively as a leader and guest speaker for women’s retreats, conferences, and other ministry events. Deb is a women’s ministry leader and youth ministry volunteer. She is the author of Bible studies, retreat kits, devotionals, and Christian-living books, including her most recent titles, Living a Chocolate Life and Raising Godly Girls. Find out more about Deb at her website, Fragrant Offerings.

Book Review: Forgiveness

Unforgiveness drags joy behind the shed and beats it senseless

Human nature is not inclined to forgive. Instead, it is much more likely to grasp onto grudges and nurse bitterness.

In Forgiveness: Received from God – Extended to Others, author Donna Pyle tells about her own fight with unforgiveness when her husband walked out on their marriage. She responded to her pain by hunting up every passage in Scripture about forgiveness she could find. Now she shares her findings with others, helping all find the freeing path of forgiveness. She walks her readers through the Bible to discover exactly what is forgiveness.

She begins to explain forgiveness by telling what it is not. This dispelling of myths is especially helpful to those struggling to let go of hurt. Forgiveness is not about forgetting and it’s not excusing a sin or a crime. It’s not artificial nonchalance–pretending the actions of others were not painful. Forgiveness is not even about the offender–who may or may not be aware of the offense. Forgiveness is about freeing ourselves from the prison of hate and anger.

The study is laid out in Eight Lessons with each Lesson having five days of readings, questions that lead the reader to Scripture, and opportunities to reflect on the Lesson and apply it personally. I especially appreciated the reflection exercises. The questions help the reader to uncover deeply buried grudges and bitterness. Unearthing them and receiving God’s strength to forgive leads to the freedom only found in grace.

The book could be used for personal study, but would also be useful for groups. Each lesson has suggestions for discussion, corporate prayer, and connecting with group members.

Donna Pyle writes:

Forgiveness is a humanizing, dignifying, redemptive act of God.

Forgiveness frees us from the narrative of hate.

Forgiveness liberates us from our prisons.

Forgiveness moves us toward others to extend the Gospel of grace.

That is why forgiveness is not optional.

Forgiveness: Received from God — Extended to Others is available here and here.

home-donna-pyleA soul-stirring, engaging speaker, author, Bible teacher, and worship leader, Donna Pyle has a passion for studying and teaching God’s Word. Her clear, down-to-earth style encourages women of all ages to wholeheartedly love, serve, and live for Jesus Christ.

Since launching Artesian Ministries in 2007, Donna has scratched out over 20 Bible studies and enjoys the incredible privilege of traveling throughout the U.S. and internationally to speak and teach where the Lord opens doors.

Donna writes regularly on her blog, Hydrated Living, as she seeks to find beauty in the quiet and sacred in the chaos, treasuring that this path is a holy experience planned by God before the beginning of time.

A native, life-long Texan, Donna fuels her incredible journey with the Word, coffee, chocolate, family, friends and worship.

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Book Review: Everbloom


I belong to a writer’s guild made up of an amazing group of writers. We live in different cities. We have different “day jobs.” We come from different denominations.

But we all have two things in common–we are all Christ-followers and we all feel called to write.

These talented writers have put together a beautiful anthology of essays and poems that share stories of loss, grief, struggle, faith, and hope.

Here are a few highlights from the book:

Following Jesus requires my all, not pieces scattered here and there, given and then taken away because it doesn’t feel right. He calls for complete devotion, but allows the freedom of struggle as I mourn what I have given up in the process. (from “Untangle,” by Sarah Rennicke, p. 15)

When I am grounded in God’s love, I believe his promises and trust in his plan for my life. Only then can I find freedom from fear. (from “Finding Freedom from Fear,” by Angie Ryg, p. 23)


I daily soak deep into my bones what it means that God loves me and that he wants to care for me. I focus on his character and goodness. Even if something bad happens to me, I know it has been run through the filter of God’s love. (from “Encasing My Fear,” by JoHannah Reardon, p. 54-55)

Are you living in fast-forward after loss (even months or years later)? Have you considered the invitation to slow down and sit with your grief for a season? Allow your whispers to be spoken to and heard by the God who weeps with you as you discover grief as teacher, companion, and friend. May you sit with your grief and be comforted by your God there. (from “Grief. Sit With It.” by Whitney R. Simpson, p. 59)

Father, for all the times You supplied my needs before I cried out for help; for all the moments You provided and I was too blind to see the source; for all the ways You comforted my anguish when I failed to ask; for all the prayers unspoken, but still heard–thank You. Amen. (from “The Motherless Mother,” by Adelle Gabrielson, p. 140)

This beautiful, heartfelt book would feel right at home on your bedside table. Through the pain, loss, beauty and redemption in these pages, you’ll discover freedom in Christ and the courage to embrace your own story. In the Everbloom collection, the writers share essays, stories, and poetry, and intensely personal accounts of transformation. And best of all, they invite you to join them, with writing prompts that encourage a response of honesty, faith and imagination. Accept the invitation: set out on the journey to find your own voice. Everbloom is a place to connect with other women who are facing grief and fear and uncertainty head-on because they know Christ is right there with them.

Everbloom is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Don’t Miss the Bible Study Expo!

Learn About the Bible StudyExpo!

If you love to study God’s Word get ready for a treat! If you lead a women’s ministry or Bible study don’t miss this!

The Bible Study Expo!

It’s happening online this Friday, March 31st. This annual free event is hosted by Marnie Swedberg.  From 2-5 pm Marnie will interview 12 different Bible study authors and highlight their books. Every fifteen minutes she will talk with a different author. So you’re sure to get new ideas for the Bible study groups you lead and for your personal Bible study.

The list of authors includes Deb Potts, Suzanne Eller, Kristi Grigsby, Kathy Howard, Janet McHenry, Lindsey Bell, Shannon Popkin, Cathy McIntosh, Sherry Poundstone, Corey Brown, Liz Curtis Higgs, and one of my favorite authors–Sharon Jaynes. Find out when they’re speaking here. Don’t worry if you can’t listen to the whole Expo. Tune in when you can and also get a chance to win prizes!

Everything you need to know about connecting to the Expo is right here.

In the meantime, Sharon Jaynes was kind enough to share an excerpt from her book that includes a companion Bible study in the back of the book. Here is a sample of Take Hold of the Faith You Long For:

I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands.

Most wore smiles on their faces. I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in—to avoid being found out.

That I wasn’t really all that I was cracked up to be.

What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with cute shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice me.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience?

Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?

I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way.

The problem was I was stuck. Yes, I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was going to heaven when I left this earth.

But I had a niggling feeling He meant something more than heaven when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Have you ever watched a circus performer on a flying trapeze? The aerialist swings out, swings back, and then usually on the peak of the third swing he takes hold of another bar or performer.

That’s when the fun begins as backflips, somersaults, and triples twists wow the crowd.

But what if, when the trapeze artist took hold of the second bar, he refused to let go of the first?

He would be left hanging in the middle. Stuck. That would not be the greatest show on earth.

And that’s where many of us spend our lives…stuck…dangling over “life to the full” but never quite letting go of what holds us hostage to a mediocre “less than” faith.

I know it’s where I spent many years…until God challenged me to take hold of the truth and make it mine.

Her name was Mary Marshall Young–and older, wiser woman in my church.

One day she challenged me to learn about my true identity in Christ.

Then she did something even harder…she challenged me to believe it…to take hold of it and make it mine.

And that made all the difference.

Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

And in order to take hold and make our own everything that Christ has taken hold of for us and placed in us, we need to let go of everything that keeps us from doing so.

If we would grasp and make our own what Jesus has already done for us, and what He had deposited in us, our lives would look very different than the tepid faith of the average churchgoer.

God’s power, provision, and purposes are for “who so ever will” (Mark 8:34 KJV).

Will what? Will let go of all that holds you back from experiencing the abundant life of the adventurous faith and take hold of truth that makes it so.

So here’s what I’m challenging you to do:

• Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.

• Let go of the scarcity mentality that says that you’re not enough and take hold of God’s abundant promises that say you have everything you need.

• Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.

• Let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.

• Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.

• Let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.

• Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment.

• Let go of timid reluctance and take hold of bold believing.

I know that’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. I’m here to help you get there.

It’s what God wants for all of us.

So today, let’s ask ourselves if we’re hanging on to something that God is calling us to let go of. Shame? Resentment? Condemnation? Unbelief? Ingratitude? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? A false sense of who we are?

If He brings something to mind, let it go, move forward, and live bold.

The faith you’ve always longed for is just a decision away.


Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 20 books, including her latest, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. She is past Vice President and Radio Co-host for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-founder/devotion writer for Girlfriends in God. To learn more visit or



Learn about the

Book Review: Live Full, Walk Free

We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives

Girls, you know I love Bible study. So when I got a copy of my friend Cindy Bultema’s new Bible study, Live Full, Walk Free, I was excited!

Live Full, Walk Free is a study of 1 Corinthians, the New Testament book written by the apostle Paul. During Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was the Sin City of its day–a culture known for its immorality and idolatry. That might make you think: Not so different from the culture we live in.

So true.

Paul lived and worked with the Corinthians for eighteen months. After he had moved on to another city, he wrote 1 Corinthians as a letter to encourage the Christians there to not to give in to the culture. He wanted them to live full and walk free.

In her study Cindy sets out to answer the question, “How do we live full lives in a culture polluted through and through?” Through a detailed study of 1 Corinthians, she helps us discover God’s answer.

Cindy explores the historical and cultural background of Corinth. She examines the challenges these people had and how they apply to our lives. She challenges us to live victoriously in Christ, demolishing the lies Satan throws at us.

But don’t think this is a dry, academic study. Through Cindy’s personal stories and light-hearted humor, you’ll find yourself having fun even while you are learning eternal truths.

One of my favorite study sections was a chart where readers examine what the world says and what God’s Word says on topics like beauty, money, and self-worth. This exercise challenges us to see where we have allowed the world’s perspective cloud the freeing truth we have in Christ.

If you’re looking for an uplifting study that gives you hope in a sin-stained world, try Live Full, Walk Free.

Listen to Cindy’s words:

We have all we need to live fully and walk freely in this time and place. We have all we need, here and now, to be part of the solution and not the problem. We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives, even in Sin City.

Check out the Live Full, Walk Free Bible study and the accompanying six-session DVD!

Cindy_HeadshotCindy Bultema describes herself as wife, mom, women’s speaker, author, hot lunch volunteer, and overcomer.

Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband John and their children Jake, Benjamin, Amanda and Sarah.  When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy walking her adventurous dog Rocky, attending one of their children’s sports events, meeting friends for coffee, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

Find out more about Cindy at her website.

Find Live Full, Walk Free here.


live full, walk free


Book Review: Making Marriage Beautiful


I loved this insightful book on marriage. Author Dorothy Greco writes with transparency and humor. Because she wants to help others, she and her husband bravely share their own not-always-perfect endeavors to have a beautiful marriage.

Greco hits the nail on the head when she writes:

What differentiates a loving, joyful, intimate marriage from a disappointing, frustrating one is the willingness and commitment to be changed, to say yes to God’s transforming work, and to become increasingly holy with each passing year.

Isn’t that true? The willingness to be changed must be present in each spouse or the marriage simply will not work. And yet this is what we struggle with most. We would much rather pray, “Lord, change my husband” or “Lord, change my wife” than “Lord, change me.” But the author encourages all of us to say yes to God’s transforming power. To not only admit our failures to our spouses to receive their forgiveness but to confess our sin to God and receive His grace. Making Marriage Beautiful reminds us that we all need changing and that marriage is often the tool God uses to continually transform us to the image of Christ.

I wish I had had this book when my husband and I began our life together. The chapters on differences in family cultures and expectations would have been especially helpful! Although we have worked through these issues now, having this book would have made the ride through the bumpy waters of early marriage smoother. Greco encourages all of us to examine the preferences we have “stockpiled” and how these preferences may affect unfair expectations we place on our spouses. She also reminds us to celebrate our spouses “otherness.”

The author ends the book by using an illustration from her own backyard. She tells readers that her home is on property that is glacial till–in other words–very poor soil. It is a constant struggle to grow beautiful flowers and shrubs in this environment. She then likens her soil to the cultural environment we live in. Growing a beautiful marriage in a culture that encourages self-fulfillment instead of sacrifice and instant happiness instead of steady faithfulness requires persistent work.

But she says,

Keep clearing the rocks. Keep amending the soil and pulling the weeds. As the seasons pass, your faithful obedience will result in the gradual transformation of your soul and your marriage.

Whether you’ve been married three weeks or thirty years, this book will help your marriage become more beautiful.

Author Dorothy Greco is a talented writer and photographer. Her writing has appeared  Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today, Her.meneutics, Gifted for Leadership, Today’s Christian Woman, SheLoves, Start Marriage Right, UnGrind, Junia Project, and Sojourners. I am a featured contributor for Gifted for Leadership, CTWomen, and Start Marriage Right. Check out her website.

Find her book here.


Book Review: Women, Leadership and the Bible

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I met Dr. Natalie Eastman at a retreat for writers. She nearly bubbled over with excitement for equipping women to study the Bible for themselves. She has since written a book on that topic. Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe? teaches women a five-step process for studying God’s Word and discerning answers to theological questions through this intensive study of the Bible. As an example of the process, she uses the issue of women’s leadership in the church. Dr. Eastman does not tell you what to believe on this issue, only helps you study Scripture for answers on the issue. She does include examples of women pastors in the book, but asks the reader to make their own conclusions.

Following is an interview with Natalie about her book:

womenLeadershipBibleQ: What’s the purpose of your book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe?

A: The term “empowerment,” it seems to me, is vastly overused these days. Yet, admittedly, that’s exactly what I’m doing through WLB and Biblical Breakthrough! Through equipping women with seminary-level tools by which they can study, understand and interpret the Bible; then, stuffing them full of confidence through constant encouragement that they can do this, I hope to empower them to change from an internal status of paralyzed and possibly ignorant (or simply the feeling that one doesn’t know much or enough) to confident, ready, and trained to engage and effectively apply God’s Word with theological reliability and biblical skill.

On an emotional level, I simply want to tell Christians, especially women, “You can do this.” This is not rocket science. Nor do these abilities rely on a special gifting of the Holy Spirit. These are learned skills. Anyone who puts their mind and effort toward the training can and will learn how to know what the Scriptures are saying, as well as what they’re not saying. They can learn how to filter through the many voices “out there” that interpret God’s Word; how to tell the difference between when someone’s giving their opinion about what God’s Word says and when they’re interpreting; and what to do with the many conflicting opinions and interpretations. It can be done. People do it every day. And you can do it with greater skill and effectiveness, while still being sensitive to and filled with God’s very presence throughout the process.

Q: What makes it different from other books on women’s issues?

A: Plenty of books espouse one position or another on women’s roles or any other issue, effectively telling women what to think and why to think that. Yet, few teach women to discern God’s messages and desires for his people through systematic, thoughtful, seminary-level analysis. Women, Leadership, and the Bible steps into that void, offering step-by-step, approachable, “non-jargonese,”methodical process of analyzing an issue on many levels: scriptural, academic, spiritual, emotional, community, and personal. The ultimate goal is to equip women (and any men who desire to read it) to thoroughly and effectively investigate God’s Word, along with filtering through various interpretations of it, and subsequently make up their own mind about an issue.

Q: How could things change if every Christian woman was to read your book? :)

A: Just IMAGINE a world in which Christian women humbly, yet skillfully study Scripture to get clarity on their hardest biblical questions! And imagine women sifting and sorting through all kinds of opinions and interpretations as they study and consider what the Bible’s text says!

True freedom and self-confidence await the woman who engages the material in Women, Leadership, and the Bible. That freedom and confidence come from knowing and understanding not only what she believes, but why she believes what she believes. She will know she has formed her own thoughts, opinions, and interpretations using reliable, tested, and grounded methods, carefully testing her own and her community’s beliefs against Scripture. It is life-changing!

If women can engage their difficult life-issues with competent biblical integrity (and they can!) rather than relying exclusively on emotions, what others say, or the last book they read’s interpretation, as I did for so long, just imagine the difference this will make in their lives, their churches and, yes, the world! Women (and men who learn these skills, too) can feel confidence before God that they are attempting to understand his Word as best they can, as they subsequently seek to follow and obey it.

Q: What benefits does Women, Leadership, and the Bible provide to women?

A. Whether or not the subject of women in church leadership roles is an “issue” in your community, a thoughtful approach to understanding the issue can help a person feel secure in their practices and help them understand the interpretations of others. That type of studied, thoughtful understanding promotes good and helpful dialogue among Christians. The method taught in WLB benefits people wanting to get to the bottom of other issues, too; for, as we all know, many other theological issues have been or will become “issues” there at some point. WLB can benefit your church or ministry in numerous ways:

  • Engages women with the Bible.
  • Encourages women toward further biblical and theological development.
  • Develops women as critical thinkers, so they can embrace their faith and service with groundedness and confidence.
  • Urges independent thought within the context of Christian community, with unity being the ultimate goal.
  • Equips women with seminary-level hermeneutical skills and tools on an introductory level and, hopefully, whets their appetites (or satisfies one!) for further and deeper biblical studies.
  • Teaches women to recognize and face internal and external influences that impact their faith and practice.
  • Encourages grace-filled dialogue and study about this and other “controversial” issues within a safe space.
  • Provides a “virtual community” for women who really want to “get to the bottom of things,” biblically speaking.

Q: Do any other resources exist to help women take this material further?

A: Yes! So glad you asked! This summer, July 9, 2015, in fact, The Verity Initiative LLC (Dr. Eastman’s overarching LLC) is launching Biblical Breakthrough! An Online Coaching Program with Dr. Natalie Eastman (BB!). This internet-based training program takes people who want to work through their questions concerning women’s roles in church leadership step-by-step through weekly videos, all of which are free! Two further levels of deeper training opportunities are also available at nominal monthly pricing on a subscription basis. In the future, “generic” courses of study as well as courses of study into specific theological questions (i.e. human sexuality, baptism, etc.) will also be offered that take people through the same method in the book, but they will be able to investigate whatever issue/topic on which they have questions and/or for which they need answers.

Also, Dr. Eastman has a mailing list, through which people can receive The Verity Initiative’s monthly newsletter, “Dig Deep!” You can register at this link:

When you join the list through this link, Dr. Eastman will send you a fairly extensive excerpt of the book – a “sneak peek” – as a way of saying thank you for joining the list. This will be delivered directly to your email inbox of your registered email address. Feel free to share that registration link with anyone you believe may be interested in WLB, BB!, or Dr. Eastman.

If you want to buy a signed copy of the book you can do so here.

If you want to buy the book on Amazon click here.

NatalieEastmanDR. NATALIE R. WILSON EASTMAN (M.Div. ‘02, D.Min. ’05–Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is a freelance writer, editor, and member of the Redbud Writers Guild. She has served as a full-time youth minister to girls and women; Bible study teacher; worship leader and team developer; missionary to east Asia; and retreat and event teacher/speaker. She lives in Delaware, OH, with her husband and three young children. Links to her blogs may be found at, and her training and coaching at

Connect with Natalie:

Twitter: Natalie_Wilson

My Brand New Book: Soul Spa


Do you need a place to rest your heart?

We all live busy, stressful lives. Our souls feel like they are being pulled in a hundred different directions. We are desperately soul-tired, but not sure how to find the rest our spirits need.

When our muscles ache or our skin needs a moisturizing treatment, we know where to go. A spa can provide a relaxing massage or a soothing facial. But where do we go when the most important part of us needs care?

Believe me, I can relate. As a Bible study teacher, Christian speaker, author, blogger, church musician, and piano teacher I feel pulled apart every week. My spirit grows tired and worn. I know I need to take time to rest. I know my soul needs the care only the Savior can provide, yet I continue sprinting through my days, not paying any attention to my soul’s cry for help.

Finally, after years of ignoring my spirit’s need for rest and restoration, I decided to change. I began to learn how to bring my exhausted, fatigued, and shattered soul to the God who alone can restore it. I studied holy habits that Christians have used for centuries to draw close to the Savior. As I explored these practices, I found that they opened my heart to God’s working in my life. They gave Him the time and space for Him to restore my soul. All of these experiences led me to write Soul Spa–a book that is like a spa for the spirit.

I invite you to come to the Soul Spa where God is eager to meet you and care for your heart. Using spa analogies, this resource will guide you to engage in spiritual practices such as Scripture meditation, Sacred reading, discernment, fasting, and prayer. In the book you will learn how to develop your own personal plan for soul care.

Features of Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal:

  • daily devotional readings
  • in-depth Bible study questions
  • exploration of Spiritual disciplines
  • reflection/discussion questions
  • perfect for personal or group study
  • memory verses
  • creative ways to spend time with God
  • instructions to form your personal soul care plan
  • fun spa activities to enhance the group experience.

Come to the Soul Spa where the Holy Spirit will nurture your soul with grace, mercy, and peace.

204196  Check out my new book at CPH or on Amazon!


Book Review: Living a Chocolate Life



Living a Chocolate Life Bible Study cover

I am a confirmed chocoholic. So is it any wonder that I couldn’t wait to read this book?

Living a chocolate life certainly sounds delicious.

But this book is more than an ode to my favorite sweet. It is a Bible study on the sweet grace of Jesus Christ.

According to author Deb Burma:

Living a chocolate life means sampling everything from bitter nuggets of pain to sweet morsels of joy. Some days are dark and lumpy, others are light and smooth. Whatever the shape, flavor, and texture of our days and however our lives are packaged, we can savor God’s rich and endless supply of grace in Christ! Wrapping us in forgiveness, the Holy Spirit fills us with sweet faith in our Savior.

One of my favorite stories in the book is about one of the author’s own baking disasters. When Deb was preparing a triple layer cake for dinner guests, she didn’t shave off the mounded center of each layer before frosting and stacking. The chocolate treat looked magnificent for a minute, but then the top two layers split in half. Crumbs and frosting landed everywhere. She managed to salvage the dessert by shaving off the rounded tops and piecing it all back together with more frosting. When she was finished, no one could tell that it had been a near disaster. Deb tells us that is how God’s grace is: “When we fail, when we make mistakes, when we crumble under the weight of our sins, our heavenly Father lavishes His thick, indulgent grace upon us. He covers our sins and forgives us through Christ’s atonement on the cross.”

Deb explores rich Scriptures about God’s endless supply of grace to us and how we can share that grace with others. The study talks about our cravings and finding satisfaction in Christ. It explores the bitter bites of life and the sweet surrender of our hearts to God’s plan. Throughout the book readers are encouraged to dig into the Bible and memorize meaningful bites of it. Discussion and reflection questions are present throughout.

While this study would certainly be meaningful to complete on my own, I can’t wait to do it with my small group because it is also filled with scrumptious recipes for decadent chocolate treats like her Extravagant Chocolate Three-Layer Cake, Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Triple Chocolate Rocky Road Brownie Pizza. It would be so much fun to make one of these treats each week to share with the women in my group as we share encouragement and hope.

About Deb Burma:

debburmaDeb Burma has a passion for sharing Christ’s love through the study of God’s Word. Whether she’s speaking, leading women’s ministry groups, or writing, her creative and engaging style touches the hearts of women and meets them in the moments of their everyday lives. Deb travels across the country and internationally as a leader and guest speaker for women’s ministry retreats, conferences, and special events. She is also the author of Bible studies and retreat kits, devotion books and the Christian-living/Bible study book “Stepping Out: To a Life on the Edge”, all published by Concordia Publishing House. Currently, Deb is also a women’s Bible study leader and a Youth Ministry leader at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Nebraska, where her husband, Cory, serves as pastor. They are blessed with three beautiful children: Chris, Courtney, and Cameron. Learn more about Deb on her blog Fragrant Offerings

Book Review: Listen In



Conversations that go deep

Every woman longs to be heard, seen and fully known by other women. One of the best ways to encourage this kind of discovery is through conversations that matter.

quote from Listen In: Building Faith and Friendship Through Conversations That Matter

We all want relationships that go deep. Yet too often our conversations stay on the surface. We talk about what preschool we chose for our three-year-old. We exchange opinions on the latest movies. We share what we’re making for dinner tonight. But we don’t always talk about the hurts in our hearts or the painful circumstances that have shaped our souls.

The book: Listen In wants to change that. It is a unique book that allows us to actually listen in on the deep conversations between three friends. The authors–Rachael Crabb, Sonya Reeder, and Diana Calvin–help each other grow closer to God through authentic communication combined with thoughtful listening and gentle questions.

The authors encourage us to:

Imagine conversations that draw you deeper into relationships that lovingly stir repentance, that open doors to experiencing more of God’s mercy and grace, and that awaken you to the thrilling awareness of the beauty his amazing grace has already placed deep in your being.

The book is written in conversational form. We are like a fly on the wall as each woman takes a turn at telling about a significant event in her life–one that has had a hand in shaping her identity. The other two women listen intently and ask questions like: “What did you grow up believing about yourself?” “What were you thinking in your internal world?” “How have you repented?” “Where are you now?”

Each conversation leads to a revelation of a broken place in one woman’s life. Through loving questions and support, the conversations uncover a redeeming grace that has come out of the brokenness.

These are the kinds of conversations we’d all like to have with our best friends over steaming cups of tea. The book is designed to help all of us do that. The authors outline five key ingredients to meaningful conversations:

  1. Identify an intentional purpose.
  2. Tune in to present experience.
  3. Be curious and offer feedback.
  4. Explore shaping events.
  5. Create a vision.

The book is laid out in a format conducive to small group participation. Six chapters of readings and discussion questions could mean six weeks of learning and experiencing your own meaningful conversations.

One quibble about the book. I wish the introduction had given more information about the process. In particular, I didn’t catch on right away that there were three main conversations explored in the book and that each conversation began with one of the women sharing a painful event in her life. I would have found that information helpful from the beginning, but perhaps the authors wanted the reader to experience the conversations as they happened without knowing details in advance.

Overall, I think the book does an excellent job at encouraging women to go beyond surface relationships and giving us the tools to do just that.

Listen In is a wonderful resource for women who want to deepen their relationships with God and their sisters in Christ. 

Listen In: Building Faith and Friendship Through Conversations That Matter is available here.

Listen In