Author Donna M. Dean draws from her life experience to illustrate her 12-chapter devotional Living on Life’s Edge Without Going Over It. Her stated motive is to help the reader “develop God’s heart,” and she follows through with that theme by supporting her chapter titles — e.g., “Troubled Heart,” “Peaceful Heart” and “Merry Heart” — with Bible verses that mention the correlating condition of the heart. In addition to a verse, each short devotional includes a poem or song lyric, part of the author’s personal testimony, a “thought,” plus another verse to contemplate, and space to journal and note prayer needs. Photographs of nature accompany some entries.
Although Dean follows the generally accepted devotional structure, she repeats the same stories from her personal life (her husband’s accident, her daughter’s difficult pregnancy) and her theology is rather simplistic. In her chapter “Singing Heart,” anchored by Ephesians 5:19, she concludes: “With music in my heart brings joy. Even when you are discouraged, songs lift the heart and it helps you to cope with your situation.”
She also includes well-worn, inspirational quotes from Christian women’s luncheon bulletins, church newsletters and often-forwarded emails that ran their course long ago (e.g., “Emergency Phone Numbers,” a list of Scriptures to refer to in times of trouble). The result is a book with little original material and almost nothing fresh to sink one’s spiritual teeth into.
Dean acknowledges an editor’s assistance, but the book contains errors in spelling, improper usage (“at my whits end”), verb tense shifts, missing conjunctions and other failings.
The reader will surely feel the author’s sincerity in her down-home voice and style. She no doubt endured some hard times and difficulties and found peace in seeking after the heart of God. But the execution of her personal journey into a book is disappointing for lack of sufficient content.
Also available as in ebook.