Monday, December 15, 2014

Review: Evening Prayers for Every Day of the Year

When I agreed to review this book, I did not realize that it was a collection of prayers spoken and written by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, a pastor who lived from 1842 to 1919.  This is not a new book.  I just read the book description and thought it sounded like a great book to have.

Book Description:
We want to turn to God at the end of each day, but often don’t find the words to express our deepest feelings and longing. This collection of prayers is one of the few daily devotionals especially intended for use in the evening.

Blumhardt’s words bespeak a certainty in God’s nearness. The peace that flows from them comes from an unshakeable conviction that God’s kingdom is indeed on the way. In stormy and challenging times like our own, most of us need this reassurance frequently, if not daily.
It was only after I'd received the book and started reading the introduction that I learned that these prayers were collected and published in 1926, after Blumhardt's death, and only intended at first for his closest friends.

Since that time, Bumhardt's collection of prayers has been published multiple times, including this newly revised 2014 edition.  Obviously I haven't read through the whole book - there is a scripture and prayer for each day of the year, so I've just started going through it.  I started at the beginning instead of on the proper date (yeah, I know - what a rebel), but I plan to start over again and go through it in 2015, since January will soon be here.

What surprised me was how simple, powerful, and timely these prayers are.  They were written 100 years ago!  But, of course, God's word is timeless and timely, too.  I love the simple faith displayed in these prayers, and I find myself praying some of the lines over and over.  They just hit directly at the center of what I would have prayed if only I'd thought of it.  I also love that Blumhardt doesn't use a lot of flowery language in his prayers - just honest, heartfelt, simple words that mean so much.
"All we ask and long for, all our concerns down to the very smallest, we lay in your hands in the one great request that your name be glorified on earth as it is in heaven."
This is a book that I plan to turn to and use often, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a little guidance in connecting with God in a simple, direct, and meaningful way at the end of the day.

This book was provided for review by Handlebar and Plough Publishing.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Review: Mary J. Blige #TheLondonSessions

#O2O (One to One Network) has once again given me the opportunity to review a new CD by an artist that I was not previously familiar with.  I mean, I've heard of Mary J. Blige, but I honestly have never listened to any of her music. I must be alone in that because she's had a stellar career:
With eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Mary J Blige is a global superstar. And in ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base – responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.
Capitol Music Group Chairman Steve Barnett calls Mary J. Blige's music "a one-of-a-kind blend of hip-hop and soul that has excited fans for more than 20 years" and made her one of the most successful and acclaimed artists in any genre of music. For this album, Mary J. Blige ventured into new musical territory by crossing the Atlantic to collaborate with some of this decade’s most celebrated UK musical talent – including Disclosure, Eg White, Emile Sandé, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, SAM ROMANS and Sam Smith. 

Wow!  Why have I never listened to her before?  I have no idea but, judging by this CD (and all those awards), she is really good.  I have really enjoyed the strength and style of her voice as well as the music.  Some of the songs are really heart-felt, honest, and intense, while others just make you want to get up and dance.  The only thing I did not like is that there is some talk between some of the tracks, explaining some of the thought process behind the songs and the experience of recording.  While I liked having that information there, it was so much quieter than the actual songs, meaning I had to turn the volume way up to hear, and then when the music started again it was so loud.  Other than that, I really like this CD.  It's hard to pick a favorite, because each of the tracks has something to offer, but for now I'm really liking When You're Gone and the great dance beat of My Loving.

The London Sessions is available now, and you can download it from Amazon or iTunes.  Also available at Target, Walmart, etc.

Watch more Mary J. Blige videos on YouTube.

I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.