When I received the email announcing that I had won a copy of this Devotions for the Hungry Heart in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway, I had a “what have I done” kind of moment. See, I don’t have a solid history with devotionals. I’ll start out with the best of intentions, but then the practice of opening up the book and reading the entry for the day quickly fades away and I get all behind and then there’s the self-guilting and, in the case of a review copy, reviewer’s guilt too. But here’s the thing, unlike any other I’ve read or partially read, this particular devotional is simply charming.
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson writes with a touch of humor and a great, big Southern heart for Jesus. Each day’s entry, Monday through Saturday, begins with an “A Hungry Heart is…” title followed by a story that leads to a question, message, and/or observation and an associated verse from the Bible. The stories are quick bites, many from her own life, that take about two minutes to read, making this devotional do-able even on a slightly hectic morning and leaving plenty of time to contemplate the message and verse when the morning’s pace (or whatever time of day, mornings aren’t required) is a bit more leisurely.
I don’t know this author beyond the author’s biography, and she came to my attention first as the author of the cookbook Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce (which I’ve also only read the publisher’s description of – isn’t that just the best title?), but her writing reflects the “down-home Southern” part of her bio. And that is a great deal of the charm that sets it apart from other devotionals I’ve used, and part of its genuine, heart-felt appeal.
This isn’t to say that it is devotional perfection. Not every story leads smoothly in, not every story will be personally relatable to every reader (but then, not many personal story based books are, in my experience), and the yellow-gold text of the verse can be difficult to make out first thing in the morning. But that is easily forgiven, as the message stays on point and pertinent. While one day might make you go “uhm, okay” the next day will charm you right back into loving spending those two-plus minutes. Not to mention the super adorable cover, and hello, recipes in the middle!
Now, I’ve only tried one of the recipes so far, but it was so easy and quick! Though I live in Hazelnut country, I went out and bought a small bag of Pecan pieces just to give Grandma Stone’s Butter Pecan Muffins a try, and they were good. I’m glad, though, that the recipe included a note about them not being super sweet so that I thought to warn my sister when I shared some with her. I knew that there was only a half of a cup of brown sugar in the dozen muffins, but she might have been expecting something quite a bit sweeter if I hadn’t mentioned it. And though I haven’t tried the Sweet Potato Swirl recipe that the author claims will make sweet potato haters into converts, I know it’s good just from reading it – it is so close to how my family’s version with butter, brown sugar, and bacon. I just might have to try her preparation method (that swirl!) and addition of cinnamon next time it is my turn to make it for a holiday.
Though it threw me for a hot minute, the Monday through Saturday format is one that I really like. A devotion for each busy day of the week, with a day of rest built in. And when a week is just too overwhelming? Well, there’s always next Monday to start in again – unlike those with days of the year, this is simply twenty Monday through Saturday weeks that leave which weeks those are up to your own discretion. This devotional is personal, relatable, and goes down easy, no previous experience required. Recommended.
Devotions for the Hungry Heart: Chasing Jesus Six Days from Sunday by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson | Shiloh Run Press, January 2018 | hardback, 272 pages
This review refers to a finished copy won in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway, courtesy of the publisher. Reviews are encouraged but not required. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the publisher:
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, the Belle of All Things Southern, is back with a devotional guide for the Jesus-hungry heart. Grounded in scripture and offered in the author’s signature storytelling style, this devotional invites you to God’s table for a continual feast. With six prominent themes including Sharing, Needing, Celebrating, Praying, Surrendering, and Being Intentional, you’ll be challenged and encouraged to develop God-honoring traits in your spiritual life.
A delightful companion book to Tomlinson’s Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce, Devotions for the Hungry Heart features a bonus full-color insert featuring more than a dozen mouthwatering recipes plus photos. You’re guaranteed to find nourishment for your body as well as your spirit!