Years ago, I read that in Iceland, citizens customarily exchange books as gifts on Christmas Eve, then lending to an evening in bed reading the received books and eating chocolate. Imagining this tradition as part of a season, called Jolabokaflod (otherwise known as “The Christmas book Flood”) made my heart leap. As an author, but even more as an avid reader and lover of all things chocolate, what could be better than an evening of reading with a side of chocolate? I was surprised to learn that Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, with the greatest number of book sales occurring between September and November in preparation for the literary infused holiday.

Whether we enjoy an evening of reading the night before Christmas, or festive family events, I do believe books make a wonderful gift. But every reader has their own preferences in terms of genre, voice, style, and author. So how do we know which book will bless a friend or family member? I’ve collected some of my favorite reads for you to consider to gift yourself or others. Some of these books I read to prepare for interviews with the authors on my Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast, some were gifted to me, and some I chose based on my current situation, need, or interest at the time. I’d love to hear about your favorite reads from this year in the comments below!

The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word
by Wendy Speake

The 40-Day Feast by Wendy Speake book cover

Bestselling author and founder of The 40-Day Sugar Fast offers 40 devotional readings that will inspire you to read the Bible every day and discover for yourself how to apply and feast on the riches of God’s Word in her newest book, The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word. Instead of approaching our daily time in God’s Word as another item to check off our list, let’s learn what it means to feast on His Word!

If you’ve ever had the desire to fall in love with God’s Word, I think you’ll enjoy this conversation I had with Wendy about how to love God’s word.


The Unexpected Revival: Experiencing God’s Goodness Though Disappointment and Doubt 
By Erica Wiggenhorn

Book Cover for An Unexpected Revival: Experiencing God’s Goodness Through Disappointment and Doubt from Moody Publishers

In An Unexpected Revival: Experiencing God’s Goodness through Disappointment and Doubts, you will find your longing for a closer connection to God satisfied. You will also be able to discern His voice and experience His peace in a significant way. This 8-week Bible study will show you a unique picture of revival through the eyes of Ezekiel and his prophecies.

People who seemed to have been cast aside and disregarded will help you experience revival, for God has chosen them to show it to you. You will learn that you are not the only person to have doubts when circumstances tumbled out of control. But we find that God pursues us with His goodness and desires to bring revival to our cracked hearts. This Bible study will spark a fire in your yearning heart to experience renewal in your relationship with God. Ezekiel teaches us to come close to God and invite God in to fill us with a fresh fire. God’s joy, purpose, and peace are a part of that invitation from the Lord. Do you long for this kind of revival? Then pick up a copy of Erica’s Bible study.

Want more encouragement regarding how to experience more of God in your life in a fresh new way? Then listen in to this conversation with Erica about how to experience God’s faithfulness when surrounded by uncertainty. The fruit from her life is rich, and her enthusiasm for knowing God’s Word is infectious. For more from Erica, visit her guest post: 3 Simple Steps to Invite Revival to Your Life


A Faith That Will Not Fail: 10 Practices to Build Up Your Faith When Your World is Falling Apart
By Michele Cushatt

A Faith That Will Not Fail by Michele Cushatt

Have you ever been in the hard place where your world has fallen apart, and it’s hard to reconcile with the God of your faith? What do we do when those circumstances bring fear, doubt, and disappointment?

Through personal stories and biblical accounts, Michele Cushatt shares what has helped her during her most difficult trials to offer hope to those who find themselves there now. Her book,  A Faith That Will Not Fail: 10 Practices to Build Up Your Faith When Your World is Falling Apart, came at just the right time for me, and I hope it does for you as well.


In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace
by Jen Pollock Michel

In Good Time by Jen Pollock Michel book cover

“‘Time belongs not to us but to God,’ contends Michel. Lambasting time management strategies that prioritize productivity, Michel argues that readers must instead accept that ‘there is always enough time to do what God has planned.’ Michel succeeds in putting earthly concerns in cosmic perspective. These insightful musings are worth a look.”–Publishers Weekly

Is it possible to have a life without hurry whether we are trying to save time, find time or make the most of the time we have? Jenn Pollock Michel says yes and she shares in her book, “In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace” how to do it. How about a life with presence, attention, rest, fruitfulness, generosity and being rooted? This is the kind of life we are supposed to live, Jen says. But we must reimagine our time and our relationship with it.. In her book she offers us the opportunity to disentangle our priorities from our assumptions and ground them in God’s time. She also shares 8 life-giving habits that will release us from the false religion of being too productive so that we can develop a healthy, life producing relationship with time.

During this busy time of the year, the stresses and pressures we experience through the holiday season can steal our peace and our joy. May I encourage you to take the time to listen to this chat with Jen Pollock Michel about how to overcome time anxiety, or read this post about telling a better kind of time.


Reframing Rejection: How Looking Through a Different Lens Changes Everything 
by Jessica Van Roekel

Reframing Rejection: How Looking Through a Different Lens Changes Everything By Jessica Van Roekel

Have your sails been deflated by the wrath of rejection? Does it seem that there is no way to get away from it but that it is inevitable? You try everything you can think of to please your boss, your friends and family, but insecurity just keeps nipping at your heels. Your heart is gripped by it and wounding happens over and over. I’ve been caught unexpectedly by rejection’s fury before and am walking through it again. The wounds run deep, but what if you could find a place where you didn’t fear it but you were able to overcome it?

Jessica Van Roekel has been a guest a few times talking about overcoming rejection, how to cope with rejection, and relationship pain. Listeners related to her authenticity and vulnerability in sharing about a very hard topic to which most of us can relate to some degree.

In her new book, “Reframing Rejection: How Looking Through a Different Lens Changes Everything”, Jessica shares how coming alert to the consequences of striving for a life without rejection, had trapped her in being a people pleaser, a perfectionist and a control freak. She gives many poignant and very personal stories of her journey to reframe rejection so that she can live in freedom from the overbearing control of rejection.

In reading Jessica’s book, you will find 4 different rejection categories; find hope as you face rejection that God does have a purpose for you; the burden of living for other people’s approval will be removed; and you will fellowship with God through the “Reflect” “Reframe,” and “Renew” portions in each chapter. You will be led to freedom through Reframing Rejection and you will experience healing and peace while finding the joy of walking in the fullness of who God says you are and who He created you to be.

And Friend, if you’re dealing with the heartache of rejection, my heart hurts with you. I can relate. Perhaps this post I wrote about dealing with someone who hurt you emotionally will encourage your heart.


7 Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy
By Mary DeMuth

The Seven Deadly Friendships by Mary DeMuth book cover


Have you ever wondered, “what is wrong with my friendships?” You can’t figure out why you are having issues with those you considered friends. Is it me, is it them? Are you confused and bewildered, unsure about making new friends and perhaps even tempted to close off your heart after a friendship ended?

In 7 Deadly Friendships, Mary DeMuth shares how she has been there. She shares about different types of toxic relationships and will help you identify the ones that are causing you the greatest pain. You must face the issues of broken relationships and find out what went wrong. You will learn why these people are attract to you and you to them. In understanding yourself and others better, you can heal and learn how to choose safer friends. Gain wisdom and know when to pursue a relationship and when to let go. You will also gain a new deeper relationship with Jesus and learn to trust Him to help you navigate the friendship mindfield.

If you’ve endured painful experiences with your friendships, you may want to listen to this author interview I had with Mary about identifying toxic friendships and read her article on 10 traits of grace based friends.


Still Becoming: Hope, Help, and Healing for the Diet-Weary Soul
by Laura Acuna

Still Becoming by Laura Acuna

Are you tired and frustrated by all the empty promises of the dieting industry when you are trying to lose weight? I’ve been there and the merry-go-round is exhausting! That’s why I knew I needed to interview Laura Acuna on my podcast (visit disordered eating)and have her write a post for my readers about becoming your true self. She has been there, and she truly understands. She used to live in a cycle of shame and defeat for around fifty years but no more because the Lord has set her free.

Her new book, Still Becoming: Hope, Help, and Healing for the Diet-Weary Soul is a devotional journal that will take you on a journey. On this journey you will discover real freedom, healing and peace realizing that they have nothing to do with what the scale shows. Laura will help you learn to re-think the struggles you have had with disordered eating, body image, and dieting through a different lens than the past. This lens is self-compassion and God’s grace.


When Mountains Crumble: Rebuilding Your Life After Losing Someone You Love
by Danita Jenae

When Mountains Crumble by Danita Jenae

How does grief leave us? Grief leaves us asking a lot of questions and feeling empty because our arms are. We must have help to process otherwise we may get stuck in grief but there is hope going forward. When Danita was a guest on my podcast, we discussed how to handle life’s rock bottom experiences. Her book, When Mountains Crumble, presents you an interactive, healing journey through all the questions that seem so big and all the emotions that you feel. This book will be a practical guide through the pain that you are experiencing and be a companion to help you with wisdom and thought-provoking questions.

Danita Jenae, who has experienced loss herself, as a survivor, helps your load of sorrow to be lighter using powerful honesty, encouraging gentleness and a bit of dark humor. She entertains bravely topics such as God’s goodness and why did this happen. When Mountains Crumble isn’t a how-to book because there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Danita uses vivid word pictures, poetry and some illustrations to help you understand your grief and it also gives you permission and freedom to feel what you need to feel. You will find peace for now and see hope for the future. You will begin to realize that you are not alone.

If you’ve lost a loved one, I hope you’ll be encouraged by the post, “How to Rebuild Your Life After Losing a Loved One.”


Fresh Hope for Today: Devotions for Joy on the Journey
by Grace Fox

Fresh Hope for Today by Grace Fox

So often we will travel a road that feels lonely, too steep, winding through deep dark valleys, and following unfamiliar paths. We are often left weary from the inside out. That’s why I chatted with Grace Fox on the podcast about Hope When Life Takes an Unexpected Detour that Leads to a Hard Place. In her new book, Grace, with warmth and wisdom, offers you 90 daily devotions that will refresh your soul and lead you to a wonderful place of joy as you travel on your journey. You are encouraged to read and reflect on these treasures, letting their truth remind you of the presence of God and how much He cares for you. You never walk alone, dear friend. Each of the day’s devotions brings to you a key Bible verse, some insights on where to pause, a question for application for thought, and a sentence prayer.

These bite-sized nuggets are for those who have faced difficult circumstances and are so in need of encouragement. Hope is truly their greatest need which includes reassurance that God’s love is unfailing and will never let them go. He is always present, and his strength will see them through. Fresh Hope for Today will address the reader’s needs with an overall message that will direct their thoughts to God’s character and his promises. Their souls will be fed a bite at a time God’s truth, and they will receive his strength and encouragement for that day. The devotions are short so that their focus stays on the message of hope. All parts of the devotion work together making it easy for readers to remember the truth and the quotes that reinforces that day’s teaching.


The Parent’s Battle Plan: Warfare Strategies to Win Back Your Prodigal
by Laine Lawson Craft

The Parent's Battle Plan by Laine Lawson Craft

I speak to so many parents who have a prodigal child, teen, or young adult, and their hearts are broken, and they don’t know what to do. That’s why I interviewed Laine Lawson Craft on the podcast about how to win back a prodigal child, teen, or young adult.

In her book, The Parent’s Battle Plan: Warfare Strategies to Win Back Your Prodigal, Laine Lawson Craft shares her own story of how she prayed her own three wayward prodigals home. She offers hope and a very practical tried-and-true battle plan for parents who are walking this very heartbreaking season in their lives. The parents will discover how they can fight for their child’s destiny and win the war with the darkness that covers their child even if they don’t get the miracle they ask for.

You won’t want to miss an article she shared on the blog about 4 ways to win back your prodigal.


Overcoming Father Wounds: Exchanging Your Pain for God’s Perfect Love
by Kia Stephens

Overcoming Father Wounds by Kia Stephens

I know from personal experience that often how we related to our earthly parents, especially our fathers, often impacts how we relate to our Heavenly Father. Other than God, there has never been a perfect parent, and as well-intentioned as our parents may have been, they make mistakes and wounds are formed. That’s why I so appreciated my conversation with Kia on the podcast about how to exchange father wounds for God’s perfect love. And on the blog, she shared three reasons why women need to talk about father wounds.

If you have experienced hurt and rejection from your father, Kia Stephens shares in her book Overcoming Father Wounds, a biblical and very practical book that will give you help to identify the lies you have believed and how you can overcome the wounds such as insecurity, low self-esteem, perfectionism, and troubles you may have in connecting with God.


One Minute Prayers for Women with Cancer
by Niki Hardy

One Minute Prayers for Women with Cancer by Niki Hardy, book cover

Having walked through cancer myself and alongside many family members and friends with cancer diagnoses, I was eager to chat with Niki Hardy on the podcast about how to pray when battling cancer. Since fear and anxiety often accompany a cancer diagnosis, Niki Hardy, a thriver and survivor, has compiled a book of bite-sized devotions with scripture verses and prayers to help women cope with their cancer diagnosis.

Niki lost her mum and her sister to cancer before she received her own cancer diagnosis of rectal cancer. Not a person to put her life on hold simply because of the C-word, she decided she didn’t want to miss out on anything that God had for her. Using wisdom, insight and a bit of humor, Niki will help you to turn fear into faith and help you steer through the ups and downs that go with a cancer journey. As you read through these short devotions in her book, One Minute Prayers for Women with Cancer, you can experience God’s peace and his provision amid this challenging time in your life. On the blog, Niki shared 7 Ways to Overcome Spiritual Fatigue and Sleepiness.


Many Voices, One Truth 
by Tracy Taris

Many Voice One Truth by Tracy Taris

So many thoughts are buzzing my mind, which ones are right? Does everyone know the truth? How do I know that my choices won’t cause me to fail? I’ve spent a career helping patients discern the voice of God versus the voice of the enemy, and learn to identify the lies they’ve believed and how to replace them with God’s truth. On the podcast, Tracy Taris and I discussed how to stop thinking negative thoughts with a follow up blog post about conscientiously cultivating affirming beliefs.

Because social media is used so much as a place to share opinions as fact, you need a guide that will help you recognize if a message is from yourself, society, Satan, or the Savior, Jesus Christ. Sadly, the voices never stop and compete with each other. You must be able to take a self-reflective journey that will renew you and lead to Jesus, his heart, and help you through the choices. In Many Voices, One Truth by Tracy Taris, you will find:

  • A deeper connection to God that will even go deeper
  • The voice of your inner critic will be silenced
  • The pressure to step into the social norms will be eliminated
  • The mental distress the enemy causes will be avoided
  • Psychological tools and contemplative prayer will be learned so that negative thinking patterns will be gone

The author, Tracy Taris, is a psychotherapist who will help you to cease confusion and internal quiet will be promoted. Learn the truth of who God says you are rather than living in a place of unworthiness brought by other voices. You will learn to embrace the full life that God promises from his word in John 10:10. You will change the way you believe. Join Tracy to travel along life learning to tell the difference in the many voices from the One true voice you truly need in your life.


Embracing Trust: The Art of Letting Go and Holding on to a Forever-Faithful God
by Joanna Weaver

Embracing Trust by Joanna Weaver

What does trusting God mean? Have you ever struggled to trust God? Sometimes I do. That’s why I enjoyed my conversation with Joanna Weaver about how to trust in the Lord with all your heart, relinquish control, and put your hope in God. It means a lot to our heavenly Father when we willingly surrender our lives completely to him. We choose to believe that he does have our best in mind for us. This was modeled by David who as a shepherd boy, a man running for his life and a king who made mistakes, he had a deliberate dependence on God. Whether in triumph or in failure, David looked to God rather than looking to himself.

In Joanna Weaver’s book, Embracing Trust, this best-selling author shares personal stories along with practical tips with life-changing principles that she has learned from Scripture. When you struggle with disappointment from the past while you also deal with frustrations from the present, you may also have a fear of the future. Joanna desires for you to trust in the Lord with all your heart, releasing control and placing your hope in your forever-faithful Father. This is a beautiful secret of how to have unshakeable faith. Also included is a 10-week companion Bible study. Be sure and read the excerpt from her book here Taking a Leap of Faith.


Take Every Thought Captive: Exchange the Lies of the Enemy for the Mind of Christ
by Kelly Balarie

Take Every Thought Captive by Kelly Balarie

Change your thinking and change your life. Don’t believe me? Listen in on my conversation on Your Hope Filled Perspective with Kelly Balarie on how to change your thinking and change your life. In her book, Take Every Thought Captive: Exchange the Lies of the Enemy for the Mind of Christ, Kelly Balarie, a popular speaker and blogger, will offer you a battle plan that will activate thought-change with biblical insight. You will not only understand God’s Word in your mind and thoughts, but you will also live it out in your heart and through your actions. Be sure and read her blog on unlocking the power of the mind of Christ.


Odd Moms Out: God’s Redemptive Grace in the Lives of Five Biblical Mothers
By Tamar Miller/October 13, 2022

Odd Moms Out by Tamar Miller

Does God’s grace redeem lives? Tamar Miller and I discussed how to receive God’s redeeming grace. In Tamar Miller’s book, Odd Moms Out, she shares five stories of biblical mothers who are central to the genealogy of Jesus Christ. You will discover how God’s grace can redeem a person’s life and point to Jesus and the Good News of the Gospel.

The five mothers are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each one has a story to tell and the hope they share will encourage and challenge you to truly trust in your Savior and to depend on His redemptive grace in your circumstances.

The author, Tamar Miller, is a pastor’s wife of 25 years and is mom to two teenage sons. She desires to always glorify her heavenly Father and to faithfully follow Jesus who is her Savior. She loves to consistently study God’s Word and is a part of a church in SW Florida where she is a long time member and has served faithfully in the women’s ministry as a Bible teacher.

Be sure to read her blog on 4 Ways of Showing Grace before Leaving Home Base.


Spouse in the House: Rearranging Our Attitudes to Make Room for Each Other
By Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby

Spouse in the House by Cynthia Ruchti

What happens when you and your spouse are together all the time? When my youngest left home to attend college, I went into the empty nest phase of life with much trepidation. How would life be different being at home every day with my spouse, but with our children noticeably absent? I could hardly wait to interview Cynthia Ruchti on the podcast about how to thrive in marriage with a spouse in the house.

It is known that two’s company especially if you love each other. But what happens when because of retirement, working from the home environment or even when you run a business together, that spouses are with each other in the same space ALL the time? Things can become a bit awkward, complex, distressing or just absolutely challenging. How can spouses exist together for that much time and not get tired of each other?

Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby have lived this life and have learned that adjustments must be made to this new, all-the-time closeness. They share that the bliss of marriage can develop blisters. Pulling from their own experiences and many men and women around the country, they dive into the root causes of the discomfort that can come from this forever closeness. They share how God’s Word addresses the situation and they off some practical tips for learning the steps you can take to get the help needed in the spiritual, emotional, relational and physical areas of your life. You can replace irritation with peace.

As a Christian, if you want your home to be a refuge of peace and tranquility for each other and others in the family, plus help others know that they are not alone in this life situation, Spouse in the House will be an amazing charming and deep breath of hope for you.

Cynthia shares how she navigates a marriage with a spouse in the house here: The Power of Gratitude (and Noise-Canceling Headphones) with a Spouse in the House.


The Gospel of Mental Health: From Mental Hell to Mental Wellness
by Stacey McDonald

The Gospel of Mental Health by Stacey McDonald

Did you know that 49% of pastors admit they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness? A stigma remains attached to therapy and/or medical treatment needed for the one in five Americans who suffer. That’s why Stacey McDonald and I chatted on the podcast about how to be mentally healthy. Stacy also shares in a blog post about how to face your pain for healing.

Through Stacey McDonald’s book, The Gospel of Mental Health: From Mental Hell to Mental Wellness, you will be guided through mental health strategies that when paired with some personal and scriptural testimonies, will bring believers in Jesus to a place of peace and hope.

This book challenges Christians to truly take a good look at their mental health. The approach has been designed to meet the reader right where they are through relating to their real struggles, bringing hope and being very supportive of their healing. Many greats in scripture had mental battles like King David, Samson, and Jacob. They relate to what Christians really face today. Stacey McDonald’s book shows how biblical strategies can be used for coping and finding peace in the ups and downs of a person’s mental health journey.

In each chapter you will find “journal jewels” and guided prayers to help readers dig deeper so they can set attainable goals and they can practice what they have learned. The reader will incorporate the mental health strategies learned into their daily life, working through intimate personal issues and realizing deeper the boundless love of God in the midst of the journey. There will be a very positive impact on the reader’s mental health. Believers will also learn how to move past the shame of their battles with mental health forward to a loving and compassionate Go who cares for them: their mind, heart and soul.


Challenged: Equipping Families to Thrive in Today’s Youth Culture (Healthy Families) 
By Dr. Mel Tavares

Challenged by Dr. Mel Tavares

Dr. Tavares contends that it is possible to raise children who do not succumb to the woes of society but there appear to be few who escape moral dilemmas and the consequences that come. Her statistics are staggering with 40% of all students involved in cyber and/or face to face bullying either as victims, perpetrators, or both. Half of all the new drug users are under the age of 18 and nearly half of all high school age students are reported to have had sex within the past 3 months. Some, around 5%, are reported to have had sexual activity before the age of 13. While teen pregnancy rates are said to be declining, many reports speak of teen births and do not even account for abortions in the teen pregnancy statistics. A statistic that is surprising is that the suicide rate among Christians is the same as non-Christians. Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life.

While these statistics are alarming, this information is needed so that parents can make decisions about their children and teens to help change their trajectory. They need to be equipped to raise their children with awareness and the ability to withstand all the modern societal enticements. Her book, Challenged: Equipping Families to Thrive in Today’s Youth Culture (Healthy Families), can also be used as a tool by pastors, lay leaders, and counselors to help equip families in their churches to cope with the realities and best practices for grounding their children in Biblical principles that will help prevent or minimize the impact of the trends in society as they grow. In this book, Dr. Tavares takes a hard look at the research and brings it all together into a work and message convinced it is possible to raise resilient children who, even though they will fail and struggle at times, will not succumb to the trends of society.


Meanwhile: Meeting God in the Wait 
by Carol McLeod

Meanwhile by Carol McLeod

What defines your future? Your past? No. Your present? No. Who you trust? Yes! I loved my discussion with Carol McLeod about embracing the benefits of waiting upon the Lord, on Your Hope-Filled Perspective.

God strategically is always laboring behind the scenes to work all things for good. That is called a ‘meanwhile’. The story of Joseph is an example of such a time. Joseph experienced being a victim of many things: his circumstances; he had a dysfunctional family; he was a slave; he had unfair accusations; and he even had sexual harassment, but Joseph still walked in his destiny.

A lot of life may work against you, like abuse and rejection, but God still has an ordained destiny for you. Satan may attack your family, your ability to produce, or your freedoms, but you can still trust that God is at work in your life behind the scenes. God will always use for good what the enemy meant for evil. If you find yourself in a “meanwhile” situation, you’re going to want to read Carol’s book, Meanwhile: Meeting God in the Wait.


Outrageous Obedience: Answering God’s Call to Shine in the Darkest Places
by Rachelle Starr

Outrageous Obedience by Rachelle Starr

You can become the light of Christ in the dark places of this world! What does it take? Outrageous obedience!

Rachelle Starr was only twenty-three years old when she began going to strip clubs and sharing the light of Christ’s love with the dancers. She demonstrated that love in a very practical way in the adult entertainment industry by loving people ‘one at a time’ and continuing to love them no matter what happened. She shares more about their service in ministry on this post Faithful Because God is Faithful.

Social media has its place, but you must meet people in their pain as you grow in empathy and love for them. If you are afraid or unsure where to start, Rachelle’s book, Outrageous Obedience: Answering God’s Call to Shine in the Darkest Places, will light a fire in your heart that will help you step out in greater and more needed ways so that you become totally obedient to the Lord. You will be inspired by Rachelle’s stories and her biblical encouragement. Find the courage to say yes to God plans and then you will see and witness the fruit and the blessings that come from your obedience.


The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

The Hem of His Garment

When the Pain Won’t Quit, There is Still Hope!

Everyone will experience pain in their life, but it will manifest in different ways such as: physical, emotional, relational, financial, or spiritual pain, grief and loss. It can happen after tragic accidents, or great loss, sudden betrayal, and loss of friendships, or change that is unwanted and unexpected. It may be temporary but what if it isn’t temporary and it won’t go away. What do you do when healing won’t come? How do you hold onto your faith in God while you are waiting for your healing?

In The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God when Pain Overwhelms, Dr. Michelle Bengtson draws on her own experiences with chronic pain and on her years as a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist to provide a countercultural perspective on pain. She gives hope without any false promises and unwraps the complex emotional side of dealing with daily pain. She will give you permission to question God and will also help you identify the lies of the enemy you have believed. She changes your perception based on the truth of God’s Word. At the end of each chapter is a recommended playlist, reflection questions, and a prayer.

You may still have pain but your experience of it may change.


Grieving Forward: Embracing Life Beyond Loss
By Susan Duke

Grieving Forward by Susan Duke

Susan Duke experienced a very painfully dark time in her life after the tragic death of her teenage son. It was a very unfamiliar valley of grief for her. In her book, Grieving Forward: Embracing Life Beyond Loss she shares the journey of a grieving parent and combines her personal story with her insights gained from that season with other grieving parents. She has powerful statements to give comfort and hope to each parent. It is truly hard to see God’s perspective when your heart is broken and it is in so much pain. The coping with loss continues but Susan lives with incredible joy also. She assures all who continue to grieve that Hope is truly alive. Healing with happen. You will see that Susan’s book is a very personal and deeply compassionate guide with insights gained from walking her own grieving journey. You won’t want to miss the conversation we had on the podcast about how to recover from grief.


I Used to be__: How to Navigate Large and Small Losses in Life and Find Your Path Forward
By Chuck and Ashley Elliott

I Used To Be book by Chuck and Ashley Elliott

When we have grief, we have also experienced loss. While God offers us grief as a gift, we are not meant to get stuck in that loss and grief forever. The Elliott’s book, I Used to be__: How to Navigate Large and Small Losses in Life and Find Your Path Forward shares biblical mental health techniques that will help you understand the emotions you feel, to accept and live in your new reality and it will help you step into your future stronger.

On the podcast, I had a conversation with Chuck and Ashley about how to cope with loss. On the blog, Ashley shared Three Ways God Turns Valleys into Springs.


Say Goodbye to What Holds You Back: Shatter the Walls Surrounding You and Believe What God Says About You 
By Krissy Nelson

Say Goodbye to What Holds You Back by Krissy Nelson

Do you believe that you can do anything? God does! But often the fear of failure holds us back. That’s why I asked Krissy Nelson to write “Coping with the Fear of Failure” after she and I talked about what holds you back on Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast.

So often women feel overwhelmed because they tend to carry on their shoulders the burdens of family, friends, work and world events. What happens then is that women will feel stuck, filled with fear and believe that they are never enough. This situation creates wall that hinder us from living and thriving in who God has created us to be.

In her book, Say Goodbye to What Holds You Back: Shatter the Walls Surrounding You and Believe What God Says About You, author Krissy Nelson shares her story and through it will help you identify the twelve most common walls that will hold women back. She jumps into some biblical stories and God’s truth that will give you the spiritual and practical tools you need to see these walls fall. You will rediscover a very vibrant life of joy and you will also move forward from just survival to a daily revival through Jesus.

Women were created to flourish, grow and triumph through any storm or difficult season of life. Is it time for the barriers to be broken down and for you to step confidently into all God has for you? I believe IT IS!!


Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World 
By Shannon Popkin

Comparison Girl by Shannon Popkin

Is comparing yourself with others one of your greatest weaknesses? Does it happen on social media, among your neighbors, in your church, or in the line when you drop the kids off at school? Are you always pushing yourself to measure up with those around you? It is not healthy to measure yourself against others and it also isn’t God’s plan for you. We find that the way of Jesus is completely upside down from this crazy comparison world we live in. Jesus calls us to follow him and experience freedom, confidence and joy. That’s why I invited Shannon on the podcast to talk about how to stop comparing ourselves to others. Don’t miss out on the blog she shared on comparison: Why Comparison Makes You Feel Like a Loser and the Way to Set Yourself Free.

Shannon Popkin shares in her new book, Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World, all that she has discovered about her own fears about measuring up and the get-ahead pride that follows. She uses her usual humor and in your face honesty to create a six-week Bible study to delve into the conversations Jesus had and to hear the stories that he shared with the people who were comparing themselves just like we do.

Let’s leave the measure-up comparison behind and join with others around you in choosing the me-free way of living life where you lift up others and pour yourselves into the life of others.


The Power of Connection by Dr Gregory Jantz
Loneliness and isolation are serious problems plaguing more and more people, especially post-pandemic. The consequences of these problems can deeply affect everyone within our society. In Dr. Jantz’s book, The Power of Connection: Maximize Your Health and Happiness with Close Relationships, he explores why does connection matter so much and what are the issues that come with the absence of connection. How do we create more connection in our lives?
Dr. Jantz really believes that pursuing human connection is well worth the time and energy invested with great rewards like greater health, well-being, more resilience and purpose, spiritual strength and a joy in life. He desires us to be better together and for us to be available for each other.
Follow along in his book to learn how to nurture relationships where ideal qualities can really shine like: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and even love. You will see as he shares what his strategies for genuine connection are: to heal the wounds you carry, to find comfort in each other, and to build a healthier future for your life and society we live in. You will also learn:
Steps you can take towards more authentic relationships
The conditions for connection
The strategies needed for connections that are deep
The ways you can use to be a great friend

Surrender the Joy Stealers: Rediscover the Jesus Joy in You 
By Doris Swift

Surrender the Joy Stealers

What are the threats to your joy? A BIG QUESTION?

Doris Swift, a leader in women’s ministry, counsels countless women who do not know their worth; they have forgotten who they are; or can’t find their value and their joy is gone. Does this sound like you?

The struggles and burdens of this world truly drain you dry, wring you out and with your mind being a desert, dry and a wasteland, you become fertile ground for the enemy’s lies. Placing your trust in what you see and feel rather than in God is misplaced trust. The enemy will threaten to steal your joy but he truly cannot crack the code. God has given you joy, His Holy Spirit and his love. You are soaked in his living water and that cannot be drained dry. You are filled with his joy too that cannot be emptied.

Doris’s book, ‘Surrender the Joy Stealers’, is a six-week Bible study strategically rooted in John 15, helping women to rediscover their ever-present and overflowing Jesus joy that is within them. That joy will fill them and empower them therefore ripening the fruit that God is producing in them. Doris uses personal stories and applies biblical application as women learn how to identify the joy stealers in their life so that they can surrender them to God. Joy will be reawakened in them and then they can share that joy with others.

Be sure and listen to the conversation I had with Doris on How We Lose Our Joy and How To Find Joy in Life Again and read the blog she shared on how to find joy in the Lord during difficult seasons.



Brave Enough to Believe: How the Life of Doubting Thomas Answers Our Hard Questions
By Angela Donadio, Hubert A. Morris

Brave Enough to Believe by Angela Donadio

When doubt drives us away, we can discover the invitation of Jesus to come closer.

Does this describe you? You are filled with disappointment; uncertainty come to make us grow weary and makes us afraid to hope; doubt causes us to wonder if God is even good when all we see in life is NOT good. We can ask these hard questions because they are opportunities for Jesus to reveal to us who He is. If you’ve ever wondered if doubting God is a sin, then I invite you to listen in on my conversation with Angela Donadio. She also shares how to move forward with trusting God and His timing on the blog.

The authors of ‘Brave Enough to Believe’, bring to us two very unique perspectives to change upside down the story of Thomas. You will learn, whether you are a seeker, or a skeptic or a seasoned leader, how you can live unfettered from uncertainty, adversity and you will lead with confidence through any challenging circumstances. Thomas began a life of tenacious faith when he exchanged faith for uncertainty. We can do the same when we encounter Jesus.


But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery
By Julie Chen Moonves

But First God by Julie Chen Moonves

If you enjoy reading memoir, and you enjoy reality television programs, then I suggest you listen to this audiobook by Julie Chen Moonves, the host of the CBS reality program, Big Brother. This book, But First, God: An Audio Memoir of Spiritual Discovery, tells about Julie’s life before she came to know Jesus as her savior, as well as a glimpse into how her life has changed since. The title is a play on her typical opening for each episode of Big Brother when she says, “But first…” and the book explains her weekly closing remark, “Love one another…”


The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip
By Sara Brunsvold

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs Kip

While I’m generally more of a nonfiction reader, I do occasionally love a good novel. The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is my most recent fiction read, and I wasn’t disappointed. In this tale that exudes the love of Jesus, it has caused me to reflect on who God may bring across my path to love and lead to Him.

In this book, journalist meets aging widow who desires her obituary be written before she dies. She doesn’t make it particularly easy to get all the salient details. What results is a changed life, and a God-honoring death with many extraordinary adventures along the way.


Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises From God to Start Your Day Off Right
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Book cover of Today is Going to be a Good Day by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Job frustrations, difficult relationships, fluctuating health, emotional upheaval. When life conspires to drag us down with all of its troubles, it can be hard to keep our spirits up. Dr. Michelle Bengtson knows. Severely ill and mired in depression, she desperately needed something to cling to. That is when she decided to stand on God’s promises that, despite her circumstances, every day was a good day for a good day.

In this uplifting devotional, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises from God to Start Your Day Off Right, Bengtson helps you make each day a good day no matter what is going on in your life. Each reading includes Scripture, reflection, prayer, and a recommended playlist song designed to help you live out Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Because our thoughts determine our beliefs, our beliefs determine our attitudes, and our attitudes determine our behaviors it’s important each day to start by standing on the truth of God’s Word.


Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Breaking Anxiety's Grip book 2

Ours is an age of anxiety. We worry about our children, jobs, homes, health, and finances. News and social media feed our fears. Even the fear of missing out leads to anxiety. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety but to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence–and then use the weapons of power, love, and a sound mind to fight back and live in God’s peace.

Sharing her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others, Dr. Michelle Bengtson reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything. She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now, and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip. Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How To Reclaim the Peace God Promises


Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

As a board-certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson sees the devastation of depression. Early on, she practiced the most effective treatments and prescribed them for her clients. But when she experienced depression herself, she found that the treatments she had recommended were lacking. Her experience showed her the missing component in treating depression.

In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion, blending her training and faith, to offer readers a hope grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is an approach that offers the hope of release, not just the management of symptoms.

For those who struggle with depression and those who want to help them, Hope Prevails offers hope for the future.


Hope Prevails Bible Study
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Hope Prevails Bible Study by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Are you or is someone you love experiencing depression?

The Hope Prevails Bible Study offers tangible help, hope, and healing from someone who’s been there and has come out the other side.
In this Bible study companion to Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years of experience shares both her clinical expertise and her own personal journey through depression.
Take this journey through the author’s experience and Scripture to:

  • Learn you are not alone. Depression is common and is not shameful.
  • Discover chemical, genetic, secondary, reactionary, and spiritual contributors.
  • Realize depression does not determine your worth, dictate our destiny, or separate us from the love of God.
  • Fight back against the enemy’s tactics that would steal your joy and peace.

Dr. Bengtson’s personal experience is interwoven with questions for reflection, key thoughts, music playlist suggestions, resources, plus a leader’s guide.


And as a bonus, for those who want to order Dr. Bengtson’s new book, to be released mid-2024 with a lowest pre-order price guarantee:

Sacred Scars: Resting in God’s Promise That Your Past is Not Wasted
By Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Sacred Scars by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

We all endure trials, pain, and hardship in this life. The enemy often uses those experiences to convince us that our brokenness disqualifies us from ever being used by God again–that we can no longer be a testimony because of our emotional or physical scars. The truth is, your past pain and brokenness actually serve as preparation for what God wants to do in you and through you, if you will but surrender to and trust in him.

In Sacred Scars, neuropsychologist and fellow sufferer Dr. Michelle Bengtson helps you

– understand suffering through a biblical perspective
– discover how the trials of your life serve a purpose
– reflect on the healing that God has accomplished
– comfort others with the comfort God has given you

Just as Jesus’s scars didn’t disappear after his resurrection, our scars tell our story and lend credence to our testimony of the love and power of God. If you are ready to turn your past pain into present comfort and future hope, let Dr. Bengtson be your compassionate guide.

I hope you enjoy the book recommendations I’ve accumulated for you. What books have you read this year that you recommend I put on my Christmas wish list? We’d love to hear in the comments below!



Find the perfect gift for your loved ones this holiday season! Explore our curated list of must-read Christian books that will fill hearts with hope and joy.