Tag Archives: Sheila Walsh

Review: Holding On When You Want to Let Go, by Sheila Walsh

Cover art: Holding On When You WAnt to Let Go, by Sheila Walsh

Holding On When You Want to Let Go, by Sheila Walsh (Baker Books, 2021)

Subtitled “Clinging to Hope When Life is Falling Apart,” this book takes a candid and compassionate look at the struggles that can make us want to let go and give up. And it takes a clear-eyed look at the God who holds us in His care even when life really does seem to be falling apart.

Each chapter opens with a verse of Scripture and a relevant quote. The first five address the main things that threaten to overwhelm us: feeling like life’s out of control, feeling alone, when God is silent, when we’re afraid, and when we’ve messed up.

This is an easy to read, conversational-style book that feels a little bit like we’re sitting with the author over coffee. Sheila Walsh doesn’t write “down” to us in an instructorly way. Instead, her personal stories and those she shares from others prove she has the credibility to write about this. She’s been there, and is still there, just as we are. But she’s learned some solid strategies to keep holding on.

Those strategies are the focus of the second half of the book: learning to focus on the God who is holding us. We read about His promises, His character, and he amazing things He has done for us. The invitation is to actually let go… and to be held by the One who won’t let go.

Favourite lines:

I still felt like that five-year-old girl who was afraid of being known. What if someone saw the crack in my soul. [page 78]

The simple act of thanksgiving reminds us that God is with us and that He is in control. [page 103]

If life is making you feel like letting go or if you just want a little reassurance, this book can be a helpful resource. I love how it keeps pointing back to God and to His Word.

Sheila Walsh is an author, speaker, and teacher who I first discovered in my younger years through her music. Scottish-born, she makes her home in the US. For more about the author and her ministry, visit sheilawalsh.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Heaven’s Prey: the Playlist

First in the Redemption’s Edge series, last to get its own playlist…

There’s only one song mentioned in Heaven’s Prey. Quick, can you name it? Without scanning the rest of this post?

Didn’t think so 🙂

Here’s the Heaven’s Prey playlist: music that complements the characters and theme. (Song list below the video, if you just want to see what’s there without listening to it all.)

Heaven’s Prey Playlist:
Come Into His Kingdom” by Sheila Walsh (I think of this as the Heaven’s Prey theme song)
Here and Someday” by Jonny Diaz (Ruth’s song for Susan)
With Hope” by Steven Curtis Chapman (Ruth’s sister Lorna’s song for Susan)
Surrendering” by Sheila Walsh (Ruth’s song for Tony)
In Christ Alone” by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore (an anchoring song for Ruth)
Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman (an anchoring song for Ruth)
Don’t Turn Your Back on Jesus” by Sheila Walsh
Amazing Grace” by Susan Boyle
To God Be the Glory” by the Royal Albert Hall audience and stage choirs (also a good theme song)


Trusting God’s Timing

All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
Matthew 1:17, NLT*

“All those listed above” are the ancestors of Jesus. Matthew opens his account of the birth of the Messiah with a genealogy. A strange devotional verse? Perhaps, but it’s the one that touched my spirit for this week.

Did you notice the pattern? Fourteen generations each time. If the priests and scribes had been aware of it and had been counting, they’d have known the timing of God’s next big step.

But God prefers to work in surprising ways, ways we look back on and see clearly even though we didn’t anticipate them.

The same with the “where” of Jesus’ birth: One prophecy said Bethlehem, but another said He’d be called out of Egypt. Clues to keep the faithful anticipating, yet not to reveal the full picture.

If we had sight, we wouldn’t need faith. Which is why I don’t take this verse as a challenge to comb Scripture and piece together a timeline for Jesus’ return. He clearly said that was a secret.

Instead, what this verse says to me is that God has a plan. He knows the various details and intricate inter-weavings that will bring it all together in His perfect time. We know His character, His power and authority.

We can trust Him to look after all that, and we can be about the daily elements of our Father’s business, loving our families, caring for our neighbours and co-workers, conducting ourselves as Christ-followers in a very confused world.

God who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, help us to trust You. Please keep us from discouragement when we don’t see Your plans unfolding, and keep us equally from trying to “hurry” or “help” You. Keep us from fear when we look at the world around us. Reassure us of Your perfect wisdom, power, and timing. Help us to live each day in confidence in You.

This week’s song is one I’ve loved and found comfort in from way back in my university days: Sheila Walsh’s “In Your Way.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Receiving Like a Child

I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.
Luke 18:17, NLT*

Have you watched a child receive a gift lately?

If this is an emotionally healthy child, raised with love and care, there’s no doubting, no hanging back. (How many of us as adults stop and ask, “Are you sure?” or say “You shouldn’t have.”)

The child’s eyes light up. If she’s young enough, she likely squeals or bounces up and down. Older, learning the restraint that snares most of us, she’ll still give some subtle hint of excitement.

Hands reach for the gift. Test its weight. Shake it a little, listening for clues. Tear open the paper or pull the tissue from the top of the bag.

If it’s something she likes, the child radiates pleasure. (God is not giving us dental floss or socks – this is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is talking about in today’s verse.)

Something the child really likes? She’ll probably take it everywhere, even sleep with it. Tell her friends, show them… maybe share it if it’s not breakable.

The only gift that would go back in the package, shoved in a corner of the closet, would be something she didn’t care about.

But even a child’s favourite gift today would eventually be replaced by a future novelty. Not so the Kingdom of Heaven.

Gracious and loving God, You offer us the Kingdom of Heaven – the best gift of all. The more we explore it, the more we’ll appreciate it. Help us to truly believe it’s for us, to embrace and cherish it. Help us spend the rest of our lives growing in relationship with You and not holding back because we’re afraid to receive.

Here’s an older song from Sheila Walsh: “Growin’ Up to Be A Child” (The video isn’t great, but it’s the only version I could find.) If you listen closely toward the end of the song, you may be surprised to recognize Cliff Richard‘s backing vocals.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Spiritual Check-up

But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
1 Timothy 2:15, NLT* (emphasis mine)

I hesitated to use this verse, so let’s get the obstacle out of the way first. The “childbearing” part has been misused and has caused great pain to single or infertile women. Footnotes for this verse in the NLT say it can also mean “will be saved by accepting their role as mothers, or will be saved by the birth of the Child.” Me, I like the latter one.

That’s not what I wanted to share today, but I didn’t want to lose anyone because of it.

“Saved … assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness and modesty.”

That’s what I want to talk about.

Not that the way women (and men) live will earn our salvation, but that this is what the working out of our salvation will look like.

Remember the way it’s said “I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved”? How it’s all reflecting a different aspect of the same process?

Spiritual check-up time:

  • Faith: how often do I forget faith and live by sight, in anxiety and stress?
  • Love: how much of God’s love grows in me for those outside my family and friendships?
  • Holiness: is it the “rules” type, or the inner glow of the Holy Spirit?
  • Modesty: not just do I dress in non-provocative clothing, but do I draw attention to myself instead of to God?

These are attributes that resonate with me, that I’d like to develop as I find my identity as a child of God. They describe the women of faith in my life, the ones I want to “be like when I grow up.”

God our Saviour and our Shepherd, thank You for the grace to grow in our salvation. Thank You for those in the faith who have been our examples and our role models, and for Jesus Christ who demonstrated a life fully pleasing to You. Please help us to live in faith, love, holiness and modesty – to live in You.

Here’s a song I loved from years ago: “Growing Up to be a Child” by Sheila Walsh. May God grow this trusting heart in us.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.



Review: Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God, by Sheila Walsh

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, by Sheila Walsh (Thomas Nelson, 2010)

I love the cover art on this book. The little girl, swinging so high, looks… free. Carefree, even. Happy.

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God reminds us that it’s God pushing the swing—and that we can trust His heart. Trust is a choice, and the personal experiences and Scriptural examples Sheila Walsh includes are chosen to prove God’s trustworthiness. It’s up to us to take the step (daily) of trust, but in these pages we’re reminded that God knows our weakness and is incredibly patient.

I admire Sheila’s transparency with her own struggles to trust, and it’s through her stories—one human being’s vulnerability—that readers find they’re not alone, that there is hope. It’s risky to admit our frailty, and I’m sure some “upright” people will judge her and turn away. That’s their loss, and they’re missing the whole point.

The message of this book is crucial to all of us who are wounded and weary in the journey. Men need it as much as women, but Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God is clearly written for a female audience.

Perhaps because the message is so important, I was disappointed with the quality of the words themselves. This is not something I’ve noticed in the author’s previous books, and it felt to me as if the publication process had been rushed. I found myself mentally editing, tightening sentences, correcting typesetting—all of which distracted me from the subject matter.

I even noticed a couple of spots that escaped Bible fact-checking. (For example, page 217 talks about Abram building the altar to sacrifice Isaac, and how the boy asks where the sacrificial animal is. The text says, “Scripture doesn’t tell us if Abraham replies or weeps or what he is thinking.” According to Genesis 22:8, NIV, “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.”)

The book does contain some powerful sentences, like this one: “Wherever you stand at the moment is your holy ground, and grace is available there,” (p. 175). I think I’ll be putting that one on my bulletin board.

It’s the trend for books to have perhaps 10 discussion questions at the end. Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God has 26 and they’re all worth thought. I would have preferred them to refer to the author as “Sheila” rather than “Walsh”. To me that sounds formal and faintly disapproving.

There’s also an in-depth Bible study, with a session for each chapter. If that sounds intimidating, it really isn’t. Each one is 2-3 pages long and I like the format: “Find, Feel and Follow.” Find and read selected short passages in your Bible, think through your responses, and begin to act on what you learn.

In Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, Sheila Walsh writes with an easy-to-read and at times humorous style. Despite my wishes for better editing, this is a book I’d recommend to any woman who’s in need of learning to trust (or trust more) God’s heart.

Check out the book trailer (unfortunately, the audio and video are a bit out of sync). Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God is available through your local bookstore and from chapters.indigo.caamazon.ca, amazon.com and Christianbook.com.

You can find Sheila Walsh on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

Review copy provided for free by Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own.