what I’ve been reading.

In the past weeks, we’ve had snow and only days later, 80 degree sunshine.

We’ve battled the flu and once recovered, sang happy birthday to friends.

We celebrated the birth of my very first nephew and have delighted in every single photo of his sweet face.

We’ve picked bouquets from our yard and chased butterflies.

We ate homemade gluten free cheese bread that felt like a revelation.

We played our favorite Harry Potter game (with the expansion pack, a new delight) an almost embarrassing number of times.

We’ve visited baby chicks and sipped tea with friends.

We’ve had our first backyard fire before bed and ate salads that tasted like spring is really here.

We had family dance parties, featuring our favorite move (the puppy paws) and snuck in a few date nights.

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But in the midst of these highlights, there is the nourishing through the mundane of daily life. Beds are made and laundry is done. Groceries are bought and coffee is brewed. Dishes are washed by hand and I clean our floors. And so many books are read.

I can hardly picture a day without books in multiple forms.

I’m reading to our two children in the afternoon.

They turn their own pages of touch-and-feel books while I make dinner.

I glance up to see my husband reading a book over his breakfast.

I fill my own soul with good words from those who have gone before me in the quiet of naptime.

I read to my husband a favorite part of the novel I’m devouring.

I’m so grateful for books that fill my daily life with good things; beautiful words, challenging ideas, redemptive stories. Even books I didn’t connect with help me to critically think and name what I do believe. These pages feed me and fill me. I’m grateful.

Here’s some of the books that have nourished me in recent days.

 The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

This book was as unexpected as its title! When my copy came from the library, the cover was unassuming and looked dated. But only a few pages in, and I was hooked. Mrs. Pollifax is an older heroine (one of my favorites!) and stumbles into her dream later in life, of being a spy. This book was charming and suspenseful, as we followed Mrs. Pollifax on her first mission. A DELIGHT. I’m already looking forward to reading more in her series. A for me. 

Becoming Dallas Willard

After being introduced to Dallas’ writings through my husband in our pre-dating days, I’ve had incredible respect for this dear man. He has shaped my thinking and spiritual growth in profound ways, inviting me into the kind of intimate relationship that he has with Jesus. It wasn’t a hard decision to decide to name our son after this gentle, loving man.

What a gift it was to read about how Dallas became the teacher and theologian that I’m familiar with. The pain of his early days and his humble journey of faith was a beautiful, redemptive thing to read. I came away, grateful for this man who loved well and showed others how to do the same, filled with a desire to follow Jesus as he did. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Redeeming Ruth

This broke my heart in the best of ways. Ruth’s story, at first glance, is that of an abandoned baby with special needs. But her story is one of the truth that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. Her story is one of how much the Lord delights in us, brokenness and all. Her story shows the Lord’s heart for the needy and the orphan. Her story is one of how loved we are and how the Lord cares for the details of our short lives. Her story is one that reminds our hearts that what we surrender to Jesus are the things we receive back in abundance.

This is a humble, honest sharing from an American mama, about what it looked like to love her Ugandan daughter and follow Jesus into the mess of the impossible and painful. I loved this beautiful story and am grateful for people like the Merrills who follow Jesus when it costs them much. I couldn’t help but read sections to my husband and cry tears for the redemption in these pages. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

A Spoonful of Sugar

This book was a DELIGHT. Brenda Ashford, a nanny to Britain for years and years shares her stories, wisdom and kindness. She is a gentle, dear woman who loves families and children with all her heart. This was a fascinating look at parenting over a number of decades, as well as significant historical events. Brenda was the best of story-tellers. A for me. 

God in the Dark

Originally written as letters for a dear friend in a dark season, this short, 31-day devotional was one of the best things I’ve read as a companion to my own dark days. Each day is written as a reflection of a passage of Scripture, most coming from Psalm 119 (which just happened to be what the Lord had me reading personally.) I never had a deep love for this psalm as I have for others, but that has changed drastically in recent days. The insights and honesty shared about what it looks like to invite the Lord into depression, suffering and pain were utterly refreshing. Dark days by nature feel so lonely, and to have a book written as letters to a beloved friend felt like the perfect anecdote to that kind of darkness. I loved this book and have treasured my time with it. I already know this is one I will return to for myself and recommend to all my friends. A+ for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

A Light on the Hill

No where in Scripture are there stories of those who utilized the cities of refuge we read about in the law of Moses. This is the story of one such woman, who found refuge in one such city, and ultimately, the Lord himself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t believe how quickly I blazed through it’s pages. Life felt breathed into the Old Testament law through this story in a fresh way for me. I’m grateful for the way Connilyn Cossete uses her imagination to make Scripture feel accessible and relevant, as she tells stories based on what we find in Scripture. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Finish

I felt like this was everything I hope this book would be. It was conversational and funny. It was helpful in not merely beginning goals, but actually finishing them. Jon Acuff tackles the common things that keep us from accomplishing our goals. It is practical and not a bore to read (quite the opposite in fact!) as I laughed my way through it’s pages. I loved the truth he shares about the rules we make up for ourselves, and the freedom that comes from letting go of perfectionism, in all its forms. If you want help to finish, I’d recommend this book. A- for me. 

All is Grace

Brennan Manning shares his own story in this raw and humble memoir. As it is pointed out by a friend of Brennan’s, his story doesn’t highlight his achievements or accomplishments. Instead, it lays out his failings and flaws. It doesn’t even end on a high, but with the reality of his weakened, end-of-life state. I came away undone by Brennan’s bold sharing of his brokenness and with the powerful reminder of who the Lord is. I’m so grateful for his courage to tell his story of everything being grace. A for me. 

Catching Ricebirds

This book was such an engaging read. It took me from the simple joy and mischief of a young boy growing up in Liberia to the anguish and horror of survival as a refugee, fleeing from all that was familiar. I loved how easily Marcus Doe’s story flowed, as though I could imagine him sitting across from me, bravely recounting his past. He begins the book explaining how long he had hidden his story from his friends, after immigrating to America. I felt the weight of what it cost him to come out of hiding and to proclaim the truth of what he had lived through. This is a powerful story of healing and forgiveness. I’m grateful for his courage to tell his story, as I got to enter in, even in a small way to the pain of the war in Liberia. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

She is Yours

This book is written by the parents of four girls, for other parents of precious girls. This book was a good reminder for my heart of what it looks like to surrender my children to the Lord. I need the truth of what I’m responsible for and what belongs to Jesus in my parenting. This book felt like a friend beside me, as I seek to disciple both my daughter and my son. A- for me.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus

As I study the Bible more, I’m often struck by how Western my thinking is. Sometime it can take a while to let go of the modern way I’ve been taught to discern what is good and true, in order to receive the wisdom that the Bible shares through a Middle Eastern lens. This book was so accessible and fascinating. There was not an ounce of shame offered for difficulties that a Western reader has, engaging with Scripture, but kindness and humility, as the author, Lois, shares her own journey of learning and tremendously helpful cultural insights that brought familiar verses to life for me. For those wanting to engage with Scripture more deeply and humbly shed one’s cultural bias, this is an excellent book. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Begin Again

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Leanna Tankersley. Her books make me laugh out loud and say, “me too” as she shares her own spiritual journey with humble, relatable stories of her growth. This one was easily my favorite, (plus the cover is so pretty!) How I loved her words, as she shares how she’s experienced the redemption of fresh starts and beginning again. This is less of a how-to book or a Scriptural exegesis as it is essays that feel almost like journal entries. This book came across my path at the perfect time, helping me to see all the invitations around me for new beginnings. These pages felt like permission to be human and the grace that is new every day, every moment. I loved her appendix at the end, offering suggestions from dear friends of how they practice this kind of beginning again.  A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Bebe Day by Day

For those who may be intimidated to read the full book, Bringing Up Bebe, this is a short version of the memoir. I enjoyed this pocket sized book, that offered the take-aways from the book about French parenting without the anecdotes and stories. We’re big fans of much of how the French engage with their children. It felt like a fun refresher for me, who enjoyed the full work. It would also serve as instructional or a good introduction to someone who isn’t fully sure what the hype about French parenting is all about. A for me.

Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt

I almost didn’t pick this book up because it is a pet peeve of mine for authors to put their own face on the cover in a way that feels like they’re trying to sell me something. But I have been wrong about books before, so I decided to give this one a try. Unfortunately, I felt like I had a hard time entering into Pastor Jentezen’s story. It almost felt too neat and tidy, even as he shared vulnerable things about his ministry and family. I felt like the pain he shared was glossed over in order to get to how it was resolved or healed. In my own life, I’ve seen that to truly heal and appreciate the healing, I must fully enter into the pain of what has happened. This book felt like a checklist of things to do, instead of someone’s story that isn’t prescriptive for the way to make things turn out “okay.” And I think I might say that I believe in “loving like you have been hurt” more than what the title suggests, as the power of healing and forgiveness are seen more truly when we have scars. I trust the heart behind it was one for people’s healing and growth. It just didn’t connect with me and felt like it missed the mark. C- for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Unimaginable

After I stopped hearing this line from the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, this was a fascinating book. In today’s culture, Christianity is not respected. (I recently read GQ’s article that listed the Bible as a book you can skip reading!) This book offers a look at how Christianity changed our world for the better, by walking the reader through history; looking at our world before Christ, historical events that were devoid of Christian influence, and our world directly impacted by Christianity. It feels important and beautiful to see how Christianity values people in a way that nothing else does. I loved how relevant, timely and helpful this book felt, shedding new insight on race, feminism and significant historical figures and events. I came away with a deeper appreciation for the impact of the Christian faith, not just for me personally, but for the world. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

936 Pennies

This book felt like a cup of coffee with another sweet mama. Unlike what the advice of “enjoying every moment” can elicit for an overwhelmed young mama, there was no guilt or shame to be found here, just a shared awareness of how quickly the years pass with our babies and a desire to be intentional with our children. This felt like an invitation to pay attention and use each moment we’re given to be present.  I loved the encouragement to listen to the Lord’s wisdom more than what a parenting expert might have to say.  A- for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Searching for Spring

In our long winter outside, and what feels like the winter of waiting for my own heart, this book felt timely. Christine Hoover begins the book sharing how she wrestled with her son’s question, “Is life hard?” and how she chooses to answer in light of what who the Lord is. Life is hard, but there is joy in our suffering. Our pain is redeemed. There is beauty in the waiting. I deeply appreciated her words on how much waiting is involved in creative work, particularly writing in her life. I have found this to be true so often in my own life, and to hear it said felt like a gift to have this permission for this to be part of the process. Initially, it felt a little hard for me to engage with, but I think it might have been because I was living so much of winter in my own life. I’m grateful for these quiet, gentle, kind reflections on what it looks like to wait and hope for the redemption of our pain and for spring to truly come.   B+ for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

The Healthy Living Handbook

I was excited for this book, particularly learning more about essential oils and other tips for healthy living. I was pretty disappointed. I felt like there was a lot of subtle shaming in this book for unhealthy practices. For example, she says you “earn a cold” which may be somewhat true, but felt hard to swallow as a mama of two littles, who often share their colds with me, despite my own healthy practices. Her healthy tips felt somewhat obvious to me, and only about a third of them were directly related to one’s body. I felt like I was being preached at by someone who hadn’t earned my trust or respect. The best pages of the book for me were her two pages outlining which essential oils are good for 50 different common ailments.  D for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Sex, Jesus and the Conversations the Church Forgot

I really liked this candid book about sex. It feels like an invitation to step beyond “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and talk about more than just avoiding dating and sex. Mo Isom bravely shares the mistakes from her own story, as she opens up the conversation about sex. I love how she steps beyond what rules to follow to the freedom there is in believing truth about what sex is. She shares about what I’ve found to be true in my own marriage; the holy, beautiful, fun gift that sex can be. I’m grateful to hear her sharing things that are dear to my own heart; the freedom and life that is found in following the Lord, including redemption for our sexuality. A- for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Adamant

I’m not particularly familiar with Lisa Bevere, but appreciate the bits of her story she shared through this book. Her troubled relationship with her own mom was heartbreaking and provided the needed context to understand the ways the Lord has brought healing to her own life with the truth of who the Lord is. This book was filled with pages unpacking Scripture, but my favorite sections were the ones where Lisa shared parts of her own life. I honestly would have loved to hear more of her own story, but appreciated the gentle way Lisa teaches and shares. B for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Things I Never Told You

This Christian fiction surprised me with how it allowed the reader to enter into the discomfort and tension of a cancer diagnosis, a tragic accident and family dysfunction. I loved seeing the characters wrestle with their own fears, especially when their familiar ways of coping were no longer working in light of new difficulties. I deeply appreciate a lack of neat and tidy answers for suffering, and celebrated every inch of hard earned growth. I already look forward to the next book. A- for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Breaking the Fear Cycle

I’ll admit that I wasn’t drawn to this book. I don’t feel like fear is something I struggle with as loudly as other things, but I kept seeing it popping up and the cover is pretty. I’m so grateful for this brave little book! Maria tells her story of a heartbreaking diagnosis for her sweet, growing boy only 18 weeks in her womb. She shares honestly, humbly about parts of her story that aren’t pretty or good, including the ugliness of her own heart as she listened to fear. But woven throughout her story is the Lord’s goodness, and how he used suffering and pain to bring freedom. She offers her own toolbox for dealing with fear in a real, practical kind of way. I didn’t expect to devour these pages, but I did. I’m grateful for her courage to paint this picture of how the Lord can redeem even our worst fears coming true, and the unmistakable beauty that comes when we trust him. A for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

The Way of Abundance

I’ve enjoyed this devotional of Ann Voskamp. It feels like snapshots of her writing from her blog and her book, The Broken Way. Because of this, much of what I’m reading is familiar, but I’m appreciating the smaller chunks to sit with and reflect on. There are questions and verses for each entry, inviting the reader to enter in. I feel like I’m able to engage with her longings and questions in a different way than when I read The Broken Way, even though some of the sections are identical. I loved these smaller sections of her writing as I’ve found myself wrestling through deep longings and heartaches these past months. A- for me. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

Woodlands, Clouds (the Glenbrooke Series)

I picked these ones up at a thrift store recently. These books felt like a throwback to years ago, almost like going back to a favorite romantic comedy movie that you haven’t seen in ages. Predictable and fun; these books were a light read for a weekend afternoon. I liked noting how much I’ve changed since I first read these books by Robin Jones Gunn, and still enjoying them for another round. B for me. 

After the Fall

We also especially loved this children’s book, that explores what happens AFTER Humpty Dumpty’s “great fall.” It was a beautiful, simple story of courage after fear grips our heart. I loved this look at what it takes for us to heal after we’ve been hurt. And the page with all the types of cereal was our favorite; creative and silly! A current favorite from our library stack. A for me. 

*affiliate links included in this post.

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