Thursday, September 1, 2016

Play with Fire

Source:Family Christian Book Store
Play with Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God, by Bianca Olthoff
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: August 30,2016
Category: Motivational, Christian
Source: I received this galley from NetGalley for consideration of a review.

As I've worked my way through a series of motivational titles this summer, I feel lucky that so many wonderful authors decided to share their experiences and wisdom through publication in the past so many months. Among these titles I found Play with Fire, which I requested mostly because of the author, Bianca Olthoff. I was not familiar with Ms. Olthoff at all up to this point, but she is one of a few big names in the field of female Christian authorship scheduled to appear at the Propel Women event I am attending in September. Hearing authors speak is always a good time, but how much better when I'm familiar with their thoughts and words? It's akin to rereading the book, which is always good, but I have little time for typically.

Wanting to be familiar with Ms. Olthoff, I went in search of any books to her name and came across Play with Fire on Amazon. Seeing it wasn't yet published, I headed over to NetGalley. What a good idea that was! What makes me especially like Olthoff's book is the fact that although I couldn't identify with much of her life experience growing up, her ability to state her thoughts, emotions, and spiritual situation hit me, and those I could relate to. That's talent.

Play with Fire takes readers through a set of years where Olthoff found her life falling apart. Her mother's worsening fight with cancer, her father and siblings at wit's end, making bad choices for herself financially, emotionally, and relationally, she likens the experience to the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years. She spent years looking every which way for anything that would ease the pain of wandering lonely and afraid, only to find nothing helped, and in fact she felt worse. As Olthoff's story unfolds, so does the evidence of God's grace. With hindsight, Olthoff is able to trace the places where God had been by her side in her personal desert all along, waiting for her to reach the point of crying out and truly longing to be set free from her turmoil. Although pushing through was not easy, and she found herself stalled at times, Olthoff's story is heartfelt and encouraging to anyone finding themselves stuck in a hard place.

I always assume that part of what makes a book good is the timing in which it is read. Olthoff's book came in amazing timing for me. I am floored. I am speechless and inspired and ready to take on the place I find myself most fearful to enter. I know the current path was set before me for a purpose, so to walk through it, my faith bigger than my fear, is the only way through. Sounds simple, but we all know it isn't. I thank God for the wonderful men and women of God publishing their lives and God's message for all to read this past year. Their words do not fall on deaf ears.

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