Books briefly noted: Devotional reading

Outlook Book Review Editor Amy Pagliarella compiles a list of devotionals to consider as we prepare for a new year.

Ordinary Blessings for Parents: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Family Life

Meta Herrick Carlson
Broadleaf Books, 180 pages | August 30, 2022

New parents often discover that the practices that nurtured their faith during their pre-child existence can feel burdensome (even impossible) in the haze of diapers and feedings. Carlson’s “ordinary blessings” are short and sweet, offering accessible truths and gentle encouragement for milestones ranging from birth or adoption to letting go. “For Wiping … Stuff,” her tender and hilarious take on vomit, especially puts things in perspective for parents of little ones. I’m personally grateful to have the blessing “For Learning to Drive.” A beautiful gift to parents at any stage.

Called Out: 100 Devotions for LGBTQ Christians

E. Carrington Heath
Westminster John Knox, 218 pages | September 27, 2022

Called Out is structured like a traditional devotional in that it follows the familiar format of verse, meditation and prayer. However, it is a welcome addition to a genre that can feel trite. Each moment of sweetness, surprising realization and divine awakening adds up to something truly substantial. It is not an easy task to write an appropriate devotional for a community as diverse as the LGBTQ community. Heath’s ponderings, although very much rooted in their own identity, are accessible to many Christians regardless of pronouns. Their best meditations are personal yet point to a real experience of life and of God that can be universal. Those who have been around awhile may feel surprised to be moved to tears; those who are so often left out of beloved family may find that this is the entry point they need back into the community of faith.

Reviewed by Rev. Beth Guzman, solo pastor at Morton Grove Community Church of Morton Grove, Illinois, and wife to Brenda and mother to Liliana, Sonia and Yahli.

God Holds You: A Pandemic Chronicle

Sarah S. Scherschligt
Gathering Stories, LLC, 357 pages | October 29, 2022

In March 2020, when the world shut down, Scherschligt, a pastor in Virginia, sent daily words of encouragement to her congregation to remind them, her little ones and herself that “God holds you.” I worried that I might not be ready to remember those days, but “Pastor Sarah’s” 387 daily posts bear witness to the frustration and fear we all felt, while they also lift up moments of grace from the worst of COVID-19.

This book can be purchased on Amazon.

I Sing to My Savior: New Hymns from the Stories in the Gospel of Luke

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Carolynshymns, 316 pages | July 16, 2022

This user-friendly devotional/hymnal includes passages from Luke’s Gospel, each accompanied by words to be enjoyed as a poem or sung as a hymn. Lyrics are set to familiar tunes. So rather than protest that early December is too soon for Christmas carols, pastors can invite the congregation to sing Gillette’s “My Soul Proclaims That God Is Good” to the tune of “Greensleeves.” Genius! I Sing to My Savior explores the most commonly preached stories from Luke, so it offers something for every Sunday and season.

This book can be purchased on Amazon. To purchase some of Carolyn’s hymns with sheet music, visit Outlook’s store