I’ll be honest, reading while keeping up with all the demands of life with kids has not always been my strong suit. The desire to learn and keep growing is there but it seems like the time of day that I finally get to sit down to read is at night and I’m so tired that I only can make it a few pages before falling asleep.
I’ve been trying to make this more of a priority in my life lately. Choosing to read instead of watching a show after the kids are down for the night takes determination some days. As a couple we purposed to do this together and that has really helped to have accountability. I also have been in a Bible study/book club this school year and we have gone through a few of these books which has also helped with the timeline of getting through them and not pushing it off. I will say that I am so good at reading half a book and then starting another one. This stack of books have been so encouraging in all aspects of my life the last 9 months and I would recommend all of them!
LOVE-OLOGY by John Mark Comer- The title speaks to this book. An amazing book about the original purpose and intent of marriage by God. I knew John Mark, the author, when I was in high school and he has grown and blessed so many people since then. I love his heart for marriage and getting back to the roots of why we are in this journey and why God created it. One of my favorite quotes from the book speaks to my heart and is such a good reminder of seeing our spouse in a different light. “Don’t get married because you think he or she is “the one.” Trust me, they’re not. There’s no such thing! But do get married when you see who God is making somebody to be, and it lights you up. When you want to be a part of that story of transformation. That journey to the future. When you are well aware it will be a long and bumpy ride, but you don’t want to miss one mile. Because you believe in God’s calling on them, and you want in.” I love this re-adjustment of focus, that happiness is not the end all result, but spurring each other on to fully live out who God has created us to be is the intent. Happiness is a by-product not the end-all-be-all. There are so many bits of wisdom in this book and I would definitely recommend it to newly-weds or someone that is celebrating their 20th anniversary alike!
GIRL WASH YOUR FACE by Rachel Hollis- I’m sure many of you have heard of this book as she has taken social media by storm and her books are best sellers. My friend got me this book for Christmas and it came at the perfect time when I began to feel God pulling me to step out and use my gifts for him in a broader way. I love her inspirational way of kicking you in the pants to get going, while also encouraging your heart. It hits on every aspect of my life as a mom and it inspires Godly change. One thing specifically, I have been trying to grow in this season is being more intentional with my time and commitments. God’s calling on my life is at stake as I prioritize my time each day. When I look at it with this lens it becomes easier to focus on the things he is specifically calling me to. I love her quote in the book, “I know that blowing off a workout, a date, an afternoon to organize your closet, or some previous commitment to yourself doesn’t seem like a big deal- but it is. It’s a really big deal. Our words have power, but our actions shape our lives. You won’t just talk about a goal; you’ll plan for how you can meet it. You’ll set a goal and surprise yourself when you achieve it. You’ll teach yourself a new way to behave and set a standard for the type of person you truly are- not the one you’ve dreamed about becoming, but who you practice being every single day.”
GIVE THEM GRACE by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson- The theme of this has overrun my heart the last couple years of parenting. This book along with some other parenting books and the Holy Spirit began to transform my heart toward our kids and what impact my own goals and intentions have on the eternal directions of our kids souls. It is such a good reminder of what end we are parenting to. To have well behaved kids that are respectful or to have kids whose hearts are in love with Jesus and radically changed by his love and motivated by his grace in their lives daily. Not only did this book inspire my parenting but my own faith and daily walk with God as well. I love this section from the book, “Grace, or the free favor that has been lavished on us through Christ, ought to make our parenting radically different from what unbelievers do. That’s because the good news of God’s grace is meant to permeate and transform every relationship we have, including our relationship with our children. All the typical ways we construct to get things done and get others to do our bidding are simply obliterated by a gospel message that tells us that we are all (parents and children) both radically sinful and radically loved. At the deepest level of what we do as parents, we should hear the heartbeat of a loving, grace-giving Father who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message that your children hear from you, if the message that you send them on a daily basis is about being good so that you won’t be disappointed, then the gospel needs to transform your parenting, too.” There are so many things I want to re-read in this book and go back and underline. I love the journey that parenthood is and how it is constantly evolving as our kids grow. I am also thankful that our goal and motivation for parenting is not fluid and that God’s grace and love in our lives in constant!
NOTHING TO PROVE by Jennie Allen- This book spoke to my soul like not many books have. Growing up in a family who deeply cherished pushing your hardest and striving for your goals I’ve always had an intrinsic set of standards within me telling me when I’ve done my best and when I haven’t been enough. I am competitive by nature, although you may not guess that by my demeanor in this stage of life, it has always been there pushing me forward. I played competitive club soccer for 16 years which turned into a scholarship to play in college. These years were easy to quantify into attainable goals which I then attached to my identity. The thing about attaching this type of success to your identity is that it can be gone in an instant. That instant came for me when a male co-ed soccer player completely took me out during a scrimmage, thus ultimately ending my soccer career with a badly torn ankle. This book breaks down this idol of trying to prove ourselves. Every chapter I found myself frantically underling and not wanting to forget the truths within the pages. There is so much to gain from this book but the main take- away is Jesus has overcome it all so we can stop striving to prove ourselves. Jennie says it best in the fourth chapter, “Because Jesus is enough, we can experience true fulfillment. Because Jesus is enough, we can live connected with Him and others. Because Jesus is enough, we can rest. Because Jesus is enough, we can risk for His glory. Because Jesus is enough, we can trade fear for hope. Because Jesus is enough, we can embrace grace. Because Jesus is enough, we can live out our true calling.” I just recently finished this book and I am already excited to start it again!
DARING TO HOPE by Katie Davis Majors- My whole life I thought I would end up doing missions in Africa. Reading this book has brought so many emotions and processes in my heart about God’s calling on our lives and how it can look different in different seasons of life. I loved reading Katie’s story as she beautifully tells of her adventures in Uganda. In college I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya and fell in love with the people and culture of that region. It made it even more special as I read through the pages of this book. God does not have our family in Africa currently but I believe there is a reason I felt so called to this area and I’m excited to see if that is one day part of my story again. Reading about God’s faithfulness to Katie is truly miraculous and will inspire you immensely.
DRAWING NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD by Cynthia Heald- This has been my go to devotional for the last couple of years. I have re-read this book multiple times. I love her wisdom in how to navigate our walk as Christians and tips for the journey. She spells out what it looks like to live as a godly woman and how to get back on the right path, “If we don’t fear God, our lives will lead us toward compromise, emptiness and presumption. Our journey here will be without the knowledge of how God intends for us to live. He has given us our very existence. We are His idea, His chosen, His children. To revere and honor Him above all else places us in a position to receive His guidance in order to fulfill the purpose He has for us.” Cynthia not only has years of experience in running this race, she has a unique way of breaking our walk down into tangible ways we can be motivated and encouraged by.
FERVENT by Priscilla Shirer- I would recommend this book to everyone! I love being reminded through the pages of this book that we have a real enemy who not only has power but is also incredibly creative at personally attacking different areas of our lives. He is incredibly effective at lulling us into bordom, frustration, apathy (the list could go on) and distracting us from what God has called us to. At the end of each chapter she has you write your own battle plan of prayer. I love how personal it made it and also how these theme stuck in my soul. There are so many passages from it that I could share but one that has been relevant to me lately is, “Passion is the fuel in the engine of your purpose. It’s your “want-to.” It’s what keeps you going when mundane tasks bore you or difficult one dissuade you. Passion is what keeps you moving in the direction your best intentions want you to go. That’s why, if I were your enemy, I’d make stealing your passion one of my primary goals. Because I know if I could dim your passion, I could significantly lower your resistance to temptation and discouragement.” This is another book I plan on re-reading over and over as I grow my prayer life and continue to learn about God’s heart for constant communication with us.
HEAVEN by Randy Alcorn- This is the second book that I have read by Randy Alcorn. The first was Money, Possessions and Eternity and it completely changed my husband and I’s perspective on money and how tied our heart is to it. I also highly recommend that book! I have not finished reading Heaven yet but it has been such a beautiful read about our ultimate destination. I find when I focus on Heaven and it is in my thoughts daily it completely changes my perspective for the day and what I dwell on or worry about. Randy discusses how the church and history, at times, has made Heaven out to be a boring, mundane place that we would never long to be in. This is so opposite of the God we see in the Bible and also the God who created this beautiful world that we currently live in. If we truly believe that all we see here was created by Him, it would be foolish and naive to believe that our everlasting home in Heaven is anything less that miraculous. This book has broadened my perspective of Heaven and our savior and I can’t wait to finish reading it!
THE LUCKY FEW by Heather Avis- I’m just a little ways into this book but it is already amazing and captivating. I love the heart for kids this couple has. We have prayed about doing adoption or foster care in our future and so I can’t wait to hear more about this couples story. I’m so encouraged by their tangible love for Jesus and how that has played out in their lives.
I’d love to hear what your favorite books are right now! I always love adding to my never-ending list!