It’s been a great month of getting back in to reading, and I have really enjoyed some of the books I picked up. Make sure to check the full list to get some more recommendations.
Favorite Books Read in September:
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker: I have been a big fan of Hatmaker for a long time and was eagerly anticipating the arrival of her new book. It was so very good – a great mix of Jesus, life, humor, and much more. An easy and quick read you won’t regret.
Life Intended by Kristin Hammel: Probably my favorite book from the month, I really enjoyed this story of moving on after you lose someone you love, but also how good life can be if you look beyond yourself. It made me think and contemplate my own life and where I am just allowing life to pass me by.
Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford: After reading Stafford’s first book Hands Free Mama, I was excited to check out her new release. The books are pretty similar, in the sense that they are encouraging the same idea. Even still, it was a great kick in the pants (again) and has made me rethink some big things I want to change in my life.
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin: I have read a few books on habits and wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I enjoyed her perspective about how your personality affects how you can make and keep habits. Easy reading; not overly research heavy, which was nice.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey: After seeing this one explode on social media amongst some different blogs I follow, I was eager to give this one a go. I would classify it as futuristic, paranormal, and just plain creepy. It was suspenseful and very interesting; I can definitely see why so many people like it.
Other books read this month:
Scary Close by Donald Miller: I really enjoyed this book but wouldn’t say I that I absolutely loved it. But, still a good read on vulnerability.
Mr. Penumbras 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: A fun read with a great magical quality to it. Enjoyable for sure.
What did you read this month? Any new book recommendations?
Two weeks ago, our large Bible study group combined with another large ministry in our area to do a private movie showing of the War Room…we had close to 600 women there! To be honest, when I heard we were seeing a Christian movie, I instantly thought it would be cheesy. But, due to some prodding from some friends, I ended up going - and boy, am I glad that I did!
(my current morning War Room)
The movie centers on the idea of prayer and how we can fight for so many things by laying them at Jesus’ feet through prayer. In the movie, a mom is facing many struggles: failing marriage, disconnect with her daughter, financial struggles, job loss, and more. With prodding from an older mentor, this young mom sets up a War Room…a closet with no distractions dedicated to fight for important things in her life by giving them over to God in prayer.
I can’t help but thinking about the many things I fight for in my life: my schedule, time alone, how I am perceived, our financial situation as a family, and so much more. I find myself fighting for these things on a daily basis.
But, the things the Lord tells me to fight for are so very different:
• Fight for a heart that shows love and openness to those around me (Phil. 2:3-4)
• Fight for joy, not allowing the devil to steal it away from me (John 10:10)
• Fight for an abundant life rooted in the Lord (Eph. 3:20)
• Fight for a mouth that speaks kind words and isn’t easily prone to gossip (Eph. 4:29)
The Lord gives us so many things to fight for, and one of the best ways I find to fight for these things is through prayer. To fight for joy by asking the Lord to protect it during busy seasons. To fight for love by praying different scriptures that remind me of how loved I am.
I love the idea of a War Room - a place to go that is your spot, with no distractions and nothing that can pull you away so that you can fight in prayer. When is the last time I decided to fight for the woman I want to become by getting on my knees in prayer?
I highly recommend for everyone to see War Room; as I think about the movie just a week later, I am still convicted and inspired to war through prayer (and not through my own doing). Definitely a movie that sticks with you.
What things do you battle daily that are easier to take on yourself? Do you have your own version of a “War Room” where you can go (distraction-free) and battle in prayer for the things worrying you in life?
We just got home a few weeks ago from our summer away, and I still feel like I am getting my feet under me. I needed to take a little break before diving back into blogging…it has been much needed! I don’t read many books over the summer due to my crazy work schedule, but here are some of the books I read since my last book update.
Favorite Books Read this Summer:
Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines: I saw this book pop up everywhere on social media, so as soon as we returned home, I couldn’t wait to dive in. The writing is very lyrical and the author is a great storyteller, weaving some wonderful honesty with some gut-wrenching challenges over the years. Really enjoyed this one.
The Royal We by Heather Cox: I saw this book pop up all over the place in the spring/summer and was a little hesitant about it. It is very fun! I thoroughly enjoyed it and could think of about 5 different friends who I wanted to lend it to next. If you want something light with a little romance, definitely a fun read.
Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman: I have ready all of Emily’s other books and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her newest one! I really, really enjoyed it and found it to be so thought provoking regarding how you can either live your life at full speed or take the time to savor the little things. Great read.
The Selection series by Kiera Cass: I feel a little silly recommending this series as it is mindless and kind of like the Bachelor in book-form. I couldn’t believe that I kept reading them and couldn’t believe that I kept ordering the next book. But, for summer reading, these were easy reads when I just needed a mental break.
Other books read this summer:
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Enjoyable read but don’t know if I’ll be buying any more in the series - just didn’t hook me enough.
Paper Towns by John Green: I know this book is very popular and many people love it; I just couldn’t get over how annoyed I was with the main characters. Think I am just over the teenage drama after working at a camp all summer, but I just found myself getting annoyed with Quentin and Margo.
Fall and school will be here soon. Are you ready for the fresh start, or will you be mourning the passing of summer? I always see Fall as a way to regroup, start over, instill some new habits, and try some new things. For this edition of Best Friend Friday, if you were my best friend, and we were sharing a cup of tea on my dog-hair covered couch, I would want you to know about these cool things to help you start fresh this fall:
• Life Lived Beautifully journal: If you are looking for a way to jumpstart your quiet time, Gretchen of Life Lived Beautifully has created an excellent Give Me Jesus journal to help you get your thoughts down when studying Scripture. If you just need a fresh Scripture start this fall, it’s a great way to be intentional. I use it and love it!
• Daily Adoration: Sara Hagerty of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet puts out a monthly Adoration list, which is a Scripture verse each day to focus on a particular aspect of God’s character. If you’re feeling like you could use a does of Scripture in the middle of the day, when everything feels overwhelming, I’d recommend committing to a month of adoring God using these lists. It’s a great thing to do over lunch or right when you put kids down for naps.
• Le Pens: Now, for something practical, using fun pens can surely make you feel good about starting fresh. I love these Le Pens - they write very smooth, and they also don’t bleed through paper…major win for the new year!
• Book club: Want to tackle some more reading this fall? There are some great online book clubs out there that are fun to try out. I’d suggest checking out the one through Incourage, the Influence Network, or the Red Couch book club. Know of any other good online book clubs?
What helps you start fresh each fall? Are you ready for fall, or sad to see summer go?
Have a middle schooler? Work with middle schoolers? Don’t ever want to remember anything about your middle school days? (Well, can’t help you with that last one…unless you want to commiserate.) Middle school is a rough time for everyone. These great books give a look into the life of middle schooler and would be good reads for people surrounded by that age:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio: This book made my best book list from last year, and I can’t recommend it enough. Telling the story of a boy with a face deformity, and how he manages the 5th grade world, it is a great read and shows how kindness can be seen and found in so many different ways.
Graceful by Emily P. Freeman: I read this book as an adult, and knew that it was written for young girls, but gosh…it hit home with me in big ways, and most definitely would hit home with any young girls you are around. Talking through the struggle of trying to be the “good girl” and what God has in store for us instead. Even us big girls could really use this message.
Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt: This sure was a fun and good read. A young boy in middle school who deals thinks his teacher hates him…but really digs into the heart of some middle school stuff, like dysfunctional families, friendship, finding mentors in unlikely places, and the true goodness of people. Definitely one of my favorite books from this year.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: While this book is about high schoolers instead of middle schoolers, it is still a good read for that age group. The book really delves into family dynamics and how sisters grow, develop, and lose connection over the years. It made me really think about how people communicate, and how I might be missing what people are saying to me.
Perfectly Unique by Annie F. Downs: One of my favorite Annie F. Downs books, it is written for young girls…but makes a great read for anyone that works with young girls. Talking through issues like self-image, praising God, and loving yourself, Perfectly Unique gives great advice and suggestions on making it through the tough middle school years.
Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: Once again, not a book about middle schoolers, but it hits on such big things that kids deal with growing up (like loss, pain, fear, tragedy, hope, love, etc.) It does a good job laying out the social dynamics of the school scene and how people who are different try to find their way in it. One of my favorite books from last year as well.
What books do you recommend for someone surrounded by middle schoolers?
In the last edition of Best Friend Friday, I talked about some wonderful, engaging non-fiction reads that I have really enjoyed in the past year. I had a few people ask me for some nonfiction, memoir-type books that are more fun, not so serious…there are so many! Here are four great ones to get you started, if you’re looking for something really fun:
• Food, A Love Story - a great book by a funny comedian. I found myself laughing out loud at this multiple times. I never knew so much talk about food could be so funny and just plain enjoyable.
• As You Wish - If you love the Princess Bride, this is a real treat. The book is written by Westley, and he narrates the audio book as well (many of the characters from the movie also give short audio clips throughout the narration of the book, which is so fun!) It is a great look at how the movie was made, with some really interesting facts and humorous stories.
• Yes Please - This is one of those that everyone seems to know about or read recently….I enjoyed it too. Pohler does an excellent job of being very humorous but also talking about some bigger life issues in a really uplifting way. I really enjoyed the audio book on this one as well.
• Carry On Warrior - Also diving into some tough life issues, this book is a great mix of serious and comedy. I found myself understanding and nodding my head in agreement at many parts, while also laughing out loud numerous times too. Real good read, with the touch of humor you need.
What would you recommend as a fun nonfiction memoir-type read? Have you read any of these?
My to-do list is LONG and my work load is HEAVY in this season of the year. The first things I see go during these busy, busy seasons are my time with the Lord and my intentional love of other people. When something has to give, those two things lose out almost every time.
I have talked before about being intentional, about setting up my day to focus on an eternal perspective, and about how Glowing Local started as an effort for our family to be more generous. But, right now, these things get pushed out as I struggle to keep up with the day-to-day. They become the not-happenings and the I’ll-do-this-laters.
Recently, I finished reading What’s Best Next by Matt Parman - I really got so much out of that book (and have quoted it a few times on the blog already). One of my favorite things he talks about is getting creative with doing good.
Parman’s premise for his book is that our life has a purpose (to glorify God and serve others); this purpose has HUGE affects on our work - how we view it, how we organize our week, how to finish tasks.
When talking about weekly planning, he is big on making sure that we are being proactive about doing good for others. In writing down all that we have to accomplish for the week, if we don’t have items on our list that allow for us to serve, than Parman says that we have drifted from our main purpose - serving others out of our love for God.
I just love this. I usually put serving and doing good as “extra tasks” that happen if (and only if) I am able to get everything done…which these days, never happens.
Parman recommends asking yourself 4 questions when you are planning your week:
1. What actions can I take against injustice this week?
2. Who is in need, and how might I be able to help?
3. What can I do proactively for the good of my family, my neighbors, my coworkers, my community?
4. What action can I take, even if small, in the fight against large global problems like extreme poverty, lack of access to clean water, lack of shelter, communicable diseases, and the advancement of the gospel?
Wow. What if we all, as Christians, were able to add just one act of doing good into our weekly routine, being intentional about doing something good instead of seeing whether we have enough time? How much good could we accomplish if just 10 of us, or 100 of us, or if all the millions of Christians around the world did this?
This week, I have planned two small things scheduled, written on my calendar just like a regular appointment, so that I will make these two things important instead of just after thoughts. I can’t wait.
Do you make service an important part of your weekly schedule, or just an afterthought? What one thing could you do this week, to answer one of Parman’s 4 questions?