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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ward

Book Review: Shift by Abby McDonald

Updated: Apr 13

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Book Review - Shift:Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1 ESV

In this month’s blog, I am reviewing Abby McDonald’s book, Shift - Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. The book’s subject immediately caught my eye as I realized that so often we struggle with seeing the Lord and being aware of his presence in the middle of our messes. At least, for me that is the case. I find myself stuck in the details of reaching my goal, fixing my problem, or just plain old being overwhelmed in the moment. Then the questioning starts. “Did I somehow miss God’s will? Did I fail to hear his voice?”

Things don’t always work out the way we thought they should, do they? Our preconceived ideas of the outcome, or the journey for that matter, keep us from seeing God moving in the middle. If we end up somewhere unexpected, it’s tempting to believe we missed God and his direction for our lives.

Abby addresses these legitimate issues and concerns in her book. To quote her, “If we want to see God in the midst of our struggles, we have to change the way we look for Him.”

Shifting Our Focus

Like me, many of you reading this live in a perpetual state of focusing on a child, spouse, or loved one who is living a self-destructive life. We become all-consumed with our desired outcome, to see them freed from their suffering. If we are not careful, this desire can become an addiction all in itself. We pray and read the Bible, all in the hope, that if we get it right, surely will be able to help them. We will be part of their victory. But if we blow it, well then, they will forever be held hostage to their strongholds. Abby challenges us to look for Jesus’ presence in the midst of these hard places, rather than waiting to see him once we receive our desired outcome.

Let me share with you an excerpt from the back cover of Abby’s beautifully written book. “When the desires of our hearts are filled, it’s easy to see God. Miracles, answers to prayer, and abundant blessings all testify to God’s presence. But what about the seasons when he seems invisible? Shift explores the life-changing truth that when we adjust our lens to focus our eyes on God himself rather than on what we wish we were seeing in our lives, he reveals himself to us and those around us. No matter our circumstances, we can see God in our lives-right here, right now.”

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“Staying faith requires recognizing that the messy middle is just as important as the beginning.” ~ Abby McDonald, author of Shift

Shift is available on Amazon well as other retailers.

About the Book

Shift is written from the heart of a woman who desires to see God move in her and through her, but who also challenges herself, as well as her readers, to shift their perspective from fixating on what they can do for God to fixing their eyes on Him and on his character.

“Do you ever feel as though you are missing God? Perhaps you had a strong sense of his presence at the beginning of your relationship, but you hit a wall. Or maybe you’re picking up the pieces of a deferred dream, wondering if you heard God wrong when you chased after it. Maybe you’re in the thick of a personal or a family crisis, and you don’t know how God could be in it. I think no matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, we eventually reach a place where we wonder, “Where is he? Did I miss him? Was that really him at all?” - Abby McDonald

One chapter that stood out to me while reading Shift was Chapter Three, Faith That Moves Our Feet Forward. In it, the author shares the painful story of her brother’s addiction and her countless, tear-filled prayers to see him set from his bondage to drugs. While he has attended many treatment programs, both court-ordered and Christian, he still lives a life of pain and chaos. Her family members have suffered tremendously as they waited and hoped for his healing.

We all can understand the pain of loving someone who may never find freedom, and the weight of that pain can be crushing at times. In this chapter, Abby challenges us not to wait for the long-hoped-for positive outcome before we believe God is for us, but to seek his presence in the process.

“The Holy Spirit lives in each of us, and he gives us what we lack: patience, courage, self-control, and a multitude of other attributes that enable us to be strong in the face of overwhelming odds. He’s a fire burning inside us, and his flame is ignited by our belief and reliance on him.” - Abby McDonald

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As I read Abby’s thoughtfully penned words, I came to the stark realization that I might lose seeing God in my present if I only look for him in my future. I am a very goal-oriented person, but it can be to a fault, leaving me feeling as though my best is not quite good enough. Maybe you share the same thought pattern. This lie, perpetuated by the enemy of our souls, can keep us trapped in a constant mode of trying to earn God’s favor and love, instead of embracing both as gifts of God’s grace.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7

I encourage you to purchase a copy today of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. As you read through its pages, you will find thoughts to ponder, questions to answer, and the opportunity to surrender your will for that of your Father’s. You will see God with a fresh perspective, as he gives you renewed vision and restored faith.

“When we allow Jesus to work on us inside, the change will be evident on the outside. We will become living testimonies of his grace and goodness.” - Abby McDonald

Dear Lord,

We admit that we often see our situations as only outcome based. We believe that a good outcome means a good God is doing good things in our lives. The truth is that you are always good, but we often fail to miss this truth Please forgive us for our limited thinking. We ask you to reveal yourself to us in the middle of our messes as we seek to know you more. Praise you for your patient love for us we learn to shift our earthly, temporary perspectives to eternal, heavenly ones.


Beautiful Blessings. Dawn

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Abby McDonald is a blogger, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on (in)Courage, For Every Mom, iBelieve, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is mess. Abby lives with her husband and three children in western Maryland. Connect with her at

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 ESV

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