let’s dance, stand, and run!

Today Dance Stand Run launches into the world! *insert dancing emoji here*

If you haven’t heard of Jess Connolly, she is a sweet daughter of God, wife, Momma, author, speaker, and business woman.

I first heard of her via Hannah Brencher’s Instagram when HB got Jess’ first book she coauthored, Wild and Free. I read the tag line “An anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and not enough” and said SIGN ME UP PLEASE!

Since then, I’ve been growing in my walk through the simple act of following Jess on Insta. From the first day I heard about this book stirring in her heart, I was on board. It was so fun to read the book before it launched with a lovely group of women, and it is my honor to share it with YOU today.

I’m a kingdom girl! I’m not a slave to sin or a foreigner living in a world where I’m trying to fit in. I belong in heaven, but I’ve been sent to earth by God to believe and receive the gospel, and to be an ambassador of light, calling others out of darkness and into relationship with my King. I’m a kingdom girl.

What does Dance Stand Run stand for? 

Dancing in God’s grace, agreeing with our righteous standing before Him, and running on mission.

Jesus bled for this message. 

It’s not because Jess has some crazy super power. It’s that she leans into the power of the Holy Spirit in her weakness. Because of this, we get a book that is saturated in the GOOD NEWS. Which brings me to my next point….

Is this book for me? 

I honestly believe that if you’ve been a Christian for years or you are just beginning to walk with Him, this book is for you. I have been in the church my whole life. I was familiar with all the truths and the Bible stories in this book. But I was still able to engage with them in a fresh way that drew me deeper into the reality of Christ’s love! So whether this book would work as a foundation for you or a refresher, it’s worth your time. (Also, fun addition: there is a glossary in the back of the book for all those “churchy” words we use so often but rarely know what they truly mean. SUCH a beneficial tool!)

So engaging. 

Stories of pregnancy and pop culture references? YES PLEASE. I laughed, I cried. Grab your pens (you’ll want to process through this book, not just read it), a hot drink, and your girlfriends. Because this is the perfect book to grow in grace and truth AND laughter.

The headlines. 

Jesus is better than pretty little liars.

We aren’t becoming more holy; we are agreeing with the truth He has already written over our lives.

We can throw off guilt and dance in grace!

We are not here to belong; we are there to be used by God.

I get to call brothers and sisters out in love, but first and foremost it’s important for me to examine my own heart.

We get to pray, we don’t have to.

We don’t live in America, we live in the Kingdom.

We are not here to stress about our hot bodies, but to know we are loved and to pour out that love on the world.

We are safe to celebrate.

We are already runners.

We have been called.

Join me? Are you ready to dance, stand, and run? 

Don’t read this book if you are wanting to make your life look more tidy. It’s not a self-help book that will get you to your desired goal in 10 days. Read this book if you want a deeper walk and an re-energized mission with Jesus.

Get your copy here. 

Follow Jess here. 

Let’s talk about grace, holiness, and mission here.

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what i read in march.

This month, I continue my average from February of four books in four weeks and add my 2017 stack to a total number of eleven books! I hope that as I reach one of the busiest seasons of my life (I see you coming, May!), I will only continue making reading good, long, sharpening books a priority. (And what better way to procrastinate homework?) March held: Two memoirs, one novel, and one biography. There were two books out of this roundup that were winners for me – they are compelling, convicting, and stories that I personally connected to immediately. The other two held little substance for me. Let’s dig in!

  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines 

Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts.

For those of you who may not know (who are you? where do you live??), Chip and Joanna Gaines are the TV hosts of Fixer Upper on HGTV. They are strong believers and hard workers. This book read as an easy-going dialogue between Chip and Joanna as they gave us glimpses into their childhood, dating years, newlywed adventures, and into the details of how they have built their career and family. I traveled to Waco over Spring Break and this book brought the details of everything I experienced (like driving by where Chip and Jo met, swinging at Magnolia Market…) to a new level of appreciation. On the other hand, it also spurred me on personally to tackle my God-given desires with boldness. If you love Chip and Jo, you’ll have more reasons why when you get your hands on this book. I am cheering you on Gaines’ and praying that you continue restoring dusty, beautiful things to bring God glory!

 

  • Chasing Slow: Courage To Journey Off The Beaten Path by Erin Loechner 

Perhaps we were never meant to change the pace. We were meant to surrender it.

Chasing Slow is about living an abundant life, saying no to the rat race and certain components of the American dream, simplifying, and also giving yourself grace in the mess. This book is SO aesthetically pleasing with beautiful typography and photography. I am tucking many ideas from this book in my pocket! I started cleaning out my closet (again). I took stock of my priorities. I prayed hard prayers about loving the poor and then did something about it. For this, I am so grateful! But, overall, I found Loechner’s voice to be condescending and life-draining. I found the extras in the book (recipes, added blurbs, a few misplaced stories in my opinion) to be good, but just not fitting. I’ll be recommending and furthering the ideas and a few quotes this book carries to friends for many days to come, but probably not the book itself.

 

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor 

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky.

My girl Flannery disappointed me with this one. This novel was haunting. Unlike Flannery’s short stories, I missed the redemption song she usually, however subtly, ties into the narrative. There were many paragraphs that blew me away with her imagery and understanding of humanity. O’Connor is amazing at capturing heartbreaking human emotion and transforming that into tangible empathy for the reader to take away. That’s the best I can say about Wise Blood.  (Also, book cover goals. But that’s not the point. 😉 )

 

  • Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior 

More’s life shows that the facts and our wishes can produce great stories when serving things much grander than ourselves, and that the stories we tell ourselves and others matter.

I first heard about Hannah More when I was reading Seven Women by Eric Metaxas last May, and I was shocked about how quietly her story is being told in the 21st century. Hannah was, as the the book title describes, a poet, reformer, and abolitionist living from 1745 – 1833. She was known for her wit and her never-pausing pen. A pen that aided the abolition of slavery in England weeks before she died. More’s life proved the importance of friendships and hospitality, the balance between strong convictions and tolerance, and loving God with your whole heart. She pushed the boundaries, but stood tall in the lines she believed in. I hope to be like Hannah More as a writer, as a citizen, as a friend, and as a woman of God.  Hannah’s story needs to be told and rewritten in our lives today — start by learning about how Hannah glorified God in her life with Fierce Convictions!

Next Up…

You are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I am making progress!)

What books have you put down this month and what books can you not put down?

what i read in february

This month puts my tally to seven books so far this year! I am passionate about each of these books on my shelf this month. The common threads, unintentionally, have been solitude, idolatry, technology addiction, pressing against lies, ministering with compassion. These books have made me wonder why people don’t read and how in the world they function without books. Everyone that owns an iPhone would benefit from Changing The Subject, every minister should read The Way of the Heart in seminary, every Christian should invest in Counterfeit Gods, and The Broken Way continues to take my breath away. Humor me? Read on for all the good words about these books that my nose was stuck in this February.

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  • The Way Of The Heart: Connecting With God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J. M. Nouwen 

We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of the Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to Him in whose name we minister.

Henri Nouwen’s pen, I am convinced, was made of gold. This account is easy to read and gives a deeper level to Christianity’s simplest lessons in a way that convicts and inspires. This book touches on how we have replaced compassion with systems, living life together for meetings, action for God as intimacy with God. Nouwen redefines ministry, what it looks like to live out a true ministerial life, and the problems of how we have been approaching it in the 21st century. I highly recommend this read if you are seeking more prayer, solitude, and compassion in your life… or, maybe, especially if you don’t know why those components even matter on the daily. (This book would be especially profitable for church staff, pastors, and those in leadership roles in their communities!)

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  • Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and the Only Hope That Matters by Timothy Keller

We become like what we worship.

In this book, Keller takes the three main things that we have set before God as a culture and points to the truth of how life in Christ trumps everything the world has to offer. What made me love Tim Keller even more in this book, is that he is aware and awake to the problems of our secular and church culture. He knows what is going on outside of his generation and has such a gift for pointing us to the Scripture that applies to the same issues we are wrestling with today. Counterfeit Gods made me ask myself what motivates me to wake up in the morning (is it an idol or my God?) and made me look at money, sex, and power completely differently. This goes on my list of “Christianity Classics” and I’ll be recommending it for years to come.

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  • The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into The Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp

In Christ, I  am chosen, accepted, justified, anointed, sealed, forgiven, redeemed, complete, free, Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home.

Oh, The Broken Way. This was my second journey through The Broken Way, and so much more came alive to me on this time through. I led a small group in my church and we watched the accompanying videos and discussed our readings each week. Something I appreciated that wasn’t at the front of my mind when I read it last October, was how Voskamp doesn’t just tell us truth, but invites us to live the story with her. I appreciate her honesty that doesn’t make me feel like it’s impossible to live a messed up, cruciform, yet-truly-abundant life. To see my first full review of the book, go here. If you’ve read The Broken Way and don’t want to let the truths of the book get dusty in your mind, check out my book-based playlist. 

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  • Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age by Sven Birkerts

Do most of us truly wish to be in the swim of the digital “now”? Or is it more that people are afraid of not being in that swim? Could both be true at once? Almost everybody I know makes the same superficial complaints about the distraction, the triviality, the frustration, the self-alienation, you name it. At the same time, there is clearly such a powerful, and, it seems, increasing desire to be in touch – to express ourselves, to hear from others, to  be caught up in that pulse for a time eases our essential loneliness.

A T T E N T I O N: Everyone that owns an iPhone needs this book. While The Way of the Heart was about the spiritual implications of noise in our lives, Birkerts takes on a more intellectual angle. It’s about our generation’s “fragmentation of focus” & being “choked by noise”. How technology is literally rewiring our brains, our kids’ brains — how it’s changing the way we communicate & see art. It initially made me want to pull every iPad from every little kid’s and grown adult’s hand, and honestly? I don’t think that a bad thing. We need to be more aware of the issues of connection, attention, and communication because of the silent change brought on by our devices. Simply put: this book has encouraged me to forget about my phone more often, embraced people over systems, buy in physical stores when possible, create with no distractions, and read more books. If I ever go completely off the grid, y’all can blame Sven Birkerts.

Currently reading….

 

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

…and currently contemplating on what titles to choose for the weeks and months ahead!

What authors and topics have been keeping you flipping pages as we dig in deeper to 2017? Tell me what books have been on your mind in the comments!

what i read in january.

I feel refreshed after a month of getting back into a reading routine and gaining momentum after a two month period of finishing not. one. single. book. In summary, I read 24 books in 2016 with an average of 2 books a month! I hope to kick that number in the butt in 2017, but am pleased about the titles I accomplished and lingered over this past year. You can find all my past book reviews here. 

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  • Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between) by Lauren Graham

Writers: how therapists buy summer homes. 

Lauren Graham is the main star of two of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. This memoir, unlike A Year In The Life, was no disappointment. (Although the endings of both leave the same confused and hopeless feelings. Just a warning.) Graham took us through the beginning of her career, season by season through Gilmore Girls, gave writers some fantastic tips, skirted us through the adventures of her love life, and gave a lovely tribute to Parenthood. It was light and breezy – there wasn’t a real common thread that pulled the whole book together in harmony which at times annoyed me.  I received this one as a gift on Christmas day and had it finished within a week! If you love Gilmore Girls as much as I do, definitely pick this one up. As a bonus, I already had Lauren’s voice in my head as she told her stories and that added to the simple charm of the book!

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  • Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive, to find the distances in my own recesses and bring them forward and give them color and form.

This book was the best book I have read about writing to date. I have had this one on my shelf for almost a year, but once I gave this book more than a glance, I couldn’t put it down. I decided to not highlight my favorite segments, because I wouldn’t quit highlighting. I love Goldberg’s unique voice, how she faces the struggles, reality, and glory of writing. I’ll keep this one nearby for years to come and pull out an essay or two when I am feeling discouraged and at a dead-end in my projects. Natalie Goldberg is a Buddhist, so at times the book stretched out of my belief system and comfort zone, but it’s important to read a bit from people you don’t understand and overall that didn’t overshadow the heart of the book! I was expecting a boring yet helpful book on writing, and instead was met with a poetic, thrilling, helpful account!

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  • Girl Meets Change: Truths To Carry You Through Life’s Transitions by Kristen Strong

When God uses change to send us packing, He sends us with the promise of blessing too.

January held some gut-wrenching change for me, and the rest of the year will be no different, so I picked this one up on a whim when I was taking care of my responsibilities at my church library. This book was a helpful companion, and I would recommend it, especially for those who are new to the faith or need a “change of scenery” so to speak! Kristen Strong was a new author for me. Honestly, I didn’t like her style of writing at all, but the heart of the God-given truths kept me going until the last page.

Currently reading…

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp (for the second time)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend 

Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray

Way of the Heart by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Friends, what are you reading right now? Do you have a monstrous reading goal marked for yourself in 2017? Tell me what you have recently hated or loved!

 

 

 

 

daring to live the broken & cruciform way

Let love break into you and mess with you and loosen you up and make you laugh and cry and give and hurt because this is the only way to live.

Today is the release date of The Broken Way! Maybe you’ve seen my feeds fill up with hashtagTheBrokenWay over the past few weeks and maybe you’ve heard the hype and you’re thinking, “What is the big deal with Ann Voskamp?” Maybe you don’t feel like you have time to sit down long enough to finish a book. OR, maybe you love living life over at Ann’s blog and you’ve been waiting patiently for this day! No matter what camp you rest in above, I am here to tell you that this book is worth your time, it is worth your energy, it lives up to the hype. 

To be honest, I open most Christian women’s books these days and don’t last more than a few chapters before I am bored. It is not that the messages aren’t true or good – it is just that I cannot relate beyond the surface. Thankfully, though, I am beginning to see this change. I believe that Ann Voskamp is one of the frontrunners in this category running bravely into deeper, modern, theologically-sound literature. Ann has a voice unlike any other, but she tells stories where we can all whisper quietly in relief with the book laying open on our laps saying, “Wow, I thought it was just me.” 

In The Broken Way, Ann asks questions like: “Why are we afraid of broken things?” How do you give when you feel like you have nothing left? How do you find abundance in the present instead of waiting for life to gift you more mightily in a far-off someday? Am I enough? Is all this heartache and suffering doing anything but accomplishing pain? What is love, the ministry of presence, and real community worth? How do you become real, how do you let yourself be loved? How do you become like Esther and break a thousand gates? How do you walk around joyful in Jesus and give generously when your heart is aching?  She answers all these questions and more with humility, a breathtaking vulnerability, as an encouraging and empowering friend. In the best of ways, you can’t read over these words without looking in the mirror at your own junk and asking God to make it all new.

The Broken Way isn’t so much a book of self-help to cure all ills, as much as it at every turn points you to the only One who can truly satisfy and give you enough abundance to reach out like the arms of Christ to love those all around you.

Would you take a moment and hear from Ann herself?

What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives — and one that The Broken Way rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.

This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness. You could be one of the Beloved who is broken — and still lets yourself be loved.

You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually within it.

You could discover and trust this broken way — the way to not be afraid of broken things.

I could write longer, but there is only one thing to do, friends. Two things, really:

  1. Go to TheBrokenWay.com and get your hands on your own copy. I don’t write this as an ad, but prayerfully as an aid to your one, valuable life. 
  2. Open your heart – it will lead to shaking fists and brokenness, but it will also lead to real love and overflowing abundance. It is worth every ache, every step, every scar. Take the dare with me? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what i read in september 

How IN THE WORLD is it October already?

October is one of my favorite months in the whole year, and I am not taking it for granted.

Before we wholeheartedly plunge into October, let’s look back at the two books I finished this month. Spoiler alert: I highly esteem and recommend them both. One takes a detailed look at racism, the other invites us into a life of stillness and abundance. They transcend into all life stages and have something to say to all of us!

22. Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

That I am chosen for salvation in spite of all my ugly and deadly sinfulness, that the infinitely precious Son of God secured my eternal life through his own infinite suffering, that my rebellious and resistant heart was conquered by sovereign grace, and that I am kept by the power of God forever – if these truths do not make me a humble servant of racial diversity and harmony, then I have not seen them or loved them as I ought.

When the three-day consecutive shootings happened this summer, I found myself in a constant tension – wanting to somehow fix an issue that has been raging for decades on decades. Or at least to help people see that it is an issue. But more than anything, I found myself weeping. And I found myself reaching for this book on my shelf. John Piper does an impeccable job of laying the foundation of what racism is, giving a broad history, providing statistics, adding in modern arguments, and relating every turn to the gospel of Christ. It is a book of history, of theology, of inspiration, of rising up. It is about the obstacles in our way, and how we can become a people that eat together and worship together, no matter what side of town we grew up on or what the color of our skin may be.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: I believe that we all need to take a step back, realize how much we can not understand about racism, and say “I want to begin building bridges. I want to start mending torn places and cleaning wounds. I don’t want to be silent anymore.” For me, this book was my first step. For some, it might be the first step to looking at the problem intellectually without the biased opinions of a Facebook feed. If you are finding yourself contributing to any conversation about racism, I suggest you take the time and make your way through this hefty read.

23. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

This isn’t about working less or more, necessarily. This isn’t about homemade or takeout, or full time or part time, or the specific ways we choose to live out our days. It’s about rejecting the myth that everyday is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that out worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.

My first thoughts on this book: Cute cover! I really should read one of Shauna’s books someday! I wonder why the whole world is in love with it. It’s probably terrible. Second thoughts: This is just a more poetic version of The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst and it is a waste of my time. To me, it seemed like a heart-level, get-down-to-your-identity version of The Best Yes. I was pleasantly surprised to see it had lived up to the hype. My ONLY comment of negativity on this book is that she often stated how women struggle with hustle and finding their identity in their work more than men – I see a sliver of truth in it, but on the whole disagree and thought it was unnecessary. Shauna’s writing style is so unique, inviting, and moving. Present Over Perfect gives you the grace to exhale in knowing your worth and the permission to live a life you’ve only dreamed of.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: If you subtly or strongly find yourself addicted to noise and busyness, you need to meditate on these pages!

Titles I Put Down This Month:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. At first I LOVED it and blitz through the first 80 pages, but I was around 180 pages in and found myself confused and stressed because I hadn’t finished it. I decided that because I have so many types of books that I love on my shelves, I should dedicate my time to them instead of feeling guilty for the ones I’m just not into. I would love to read more World War ll literature in the future, but this one just wasn’t for me. Did anyone have a similar or different experience with it? Have you devoured any great World War ll novels?

Next Up:

Miracles by Eric Metaxas

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen

I am considering getting through as many new books as I can in October and only rereading my favorites in November, because I haven’t reread one of my favorite books since I was a little kid!

Whether it’s with new titles or old favorites that greet you like a friend, here’s to reading during the most gorgeous, coziest time of the year.

 

 

 

what i read in august.

Just like clockwork, my reading game is being upped as I settle into my fall schedule!

This month’s titles are definitely diverse! One of these books I have had on my shelf for years (which is super embarrassing because it was the shortest, easiest read ever!) and one I spontaneously picked up at the library because the book cover looked familiar from Instagram.

Read on to see what I thought of these picks.

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18. Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians by Eugene H. Peterson

David with all of his rough edges. He never got around to loving his enemies that way his descendant Jesus would do it; his morals and manners left a lot to be desired. There aren’t narrated as blemishes, however, but as conditions that we share. They aren’t narrated to legitimize bad behavior but are set down as proof that we don’t first become good and get God. First we get God – and then, over a patient lifetime, we’re trained in God’s ways.

This book, written by the translator of The Message Bible, is written in devotional form. I most often abstain from devotionals because they are often more fluff than deeper thoughts, but this one definitely didn’t disappoint. I am glad I didn’t judge this particular book by it’s cover. This book gets you in the Word on your own (with a passage to read before you enter into the chapter), explains it culturally, and Eugene does an amazing job at putting it all under the perspective of God’s Big Redemption Story. I am often overwhelmed by Old Testament stories on my own, so this one was so helpful on the life of David.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: I would definitely give this one all my support! It drew me closer to God as we peeked into the life of David. So good.

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19. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis 

What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust had been killed.

I love C.S. Lewis, and this book has so many truth bombs that were thought-provoking and incredibly convicting. I didn’t like it as much as I liked and gleaned from The Screwtape Letters, but it is definitely a worthwhile, overall easy read. If I were to read it again, I would love to read it with a group of believers to get their thoughts on it.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: Anything by C.S. Lewis is worth looking into, for both spiritual and intellectual growth. But I would start with another one of his books, such as The Screwtape Letters or Mere Christianity, before hopping into this one.

 

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20. Onstage Offstage by Michael Bublé 

All my life I felt too insecure to do a lot of things. I felt restless, and I didn’t know why. My life changed when I became a professional singer. I found my purpose and my calling. When I started to work at this career, I started to find my happiness. I had something to live for. I wasn’t so scared any more. . . . But I still feel like I’m just getting started. There is a lot more I want to do.

This is the book I was referring to that I have had on my shelf for years. I picked it up, read 3/4 of it, tucked my #MBWorldTour tickets and confetti inside, and then didn’t open it until last week. But I finished up the last few chapters and flipped through the pictures again, and fell in love with Michael all over again. It is slightly outdated because he has had kiddos and made several more albums since then, but it still made me appreciate him and his whole journey more. It seems that he is truly in love, and that his family keeps his feet on the ground, and I sure hope it is true.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: If you love Michael’s music, definitely get your hand on this book! It gives great heartfelt background to why he does what he does.

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21. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There’s less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved. In war movies, a thousand soldier can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken.

There aren’t very many books that keep my attention well enough to keep me up past 2 and even 3AM, but this book did that several nights in a row!I tend to love short stories more than novels, and I breezed through the nonfiction portion of the book. Most of the stories and essays had a slightly depressing edge to them, but there were beautiful illustrations and portraits of hope throughout. Marina Keegan graduated at the top of her class at Yale, and died in a car crash five days after graduation. I wish that she was still living, and that we could continue to read her words… I loved these words that she worked hard to leave behind.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS: None of the content was life-changing for me, but her unique story and writing style is definitely worth getting to know if you’re into essay type books and love short stories!

YOUR TURN!

What are you looking forward to reading in Autumn??

 

 

what I read in July.

HOW IN THE WORLD IS JULY ALMOST OVER?

Half of my heart is grieving that these are the last few weeks of summer, while the other half is quietly anticipating the comeback of skinny jeans and Grey’s Anatomy. There is still much beauty to savor, and the beauty of autumn to anticipate.

As far as reading goes this month, I kicked off by finishing one of the best books I have ever read, and then put many books down or procrastinated opening them out of pure boredom.

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17. Scary Close: Dropping The Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller 

You can’t control somebody and have intimacy with them at the same time. They may stay because they fear you, but true love casts out fear.

No love is conditional. If love is conditional, it’s just some sort of manipulation masquearading as love.

Scary Close was a book that I had on my shelf for several months. I didn’t dive into it because I was afraid of how much it would convict me, because just look at that tagline. Although I know that was a silly reason, I believe that God led me to the pages at just the right time in my life and once I got going I finished it within just a few days. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate dating books. But, I especially loved this one because it didn’t have boundaries that only applied to friendships, dating, or marriage — it played into all of those components, although most of the stories come from Donald’s dating life and from his engagement period. The book takes you through personal mud as you contemplate insecurities, performance anxiety, manipulation, being too careful, and true love that equals immense amounts of grace. It was truly one of the best books I have ever read, and I don’t say this lightly. Donald has such a unique writing voice that I have always loved; it instructs you like a teacher, makes you laugh, and invites you in like a friend. He shared in particularly vulnerable ways in Scary Close that was essential, convicting, and breathtaking for the sake of the message of true intimacy.

Recommendation status: GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK, REGARDLESS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS. I believe that the truths within it are vital to healthy, grace-filled relationships.

226 pages.

Books I Have Put Down and/or Rejected This Month…

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I got over 200 pages in. I plan on finishing it eventually. I swoon at Hemingway’s style, but the plot was boring me.
  • Hemingway in Love. I’ll finish this one alongside For Whom The Bell Tolls in the distant future, hopefully.
  • It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke. This book is easy-to-read and tackles an incredible topic, but I’m taking it back to the library because it was always on the backburner between all the other books I am reading.
  • Walking The Bible. I just never got far enough in it to be hooked!

I am all about giving books a solid chance, but sometimes there are other ones on the shelf that deserve more of my attention at the present moment.

Up Next On The Reading List…

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

A Testament to Freedom by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All The Light We Cannot See

Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor

 

 

 

what i read in june.

This month was all about packing light and letting go of all the right things, with two very different memoirs.

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15. No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering by Clara Bensen 

I demanded rainbows like Noah and manna like Moses. I wanted to feel eternity shooting up my spine.

This travel memoir was less about minimalism and more about a love story in a way that I didn’t expect — I originally picked it up because I thought it was going to help me clean out my closet. Instead, Bensen shares about her story through a big chunk of Europe and parts of Asia in three weeks with her “boyfriend” (although they at the time they didn’t even know if they were going to become exclusive), never changing from the same dress. She grew up in a conservative Christian home, and was homeschooled, and has now rejected the faith. For this reason, it was sad to see the blinders in her eyes to the gospel –  but if you want a lighthearted memoir, it was a fun summer read overall – with accurate looks into modern romance.

Recommendation status: It’s not the best book to find wisdom and guidance, but she is a beautiful writer and I’m glad I read it.

286 Pages.

 

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16. Packing Light: Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt 

Maybe it’s what makes a chance worth taking, even when it’s dangerous — the opportunity to live a life that extends beyond us, that saves the lives of others. 

This book was about her 50-state road trip and all the lessons that she learning about holding on and letting go along the way. It’s a sweet, honest depiction of love, heartbreak, and friendship. I appreciated her fresh perspective on the gospel. She covers a myriad of topics, but made everything fit sweetly into the purpose of the book. Once again, it was less about minimalism in itself — but it expressed the reasons behind living with less, both emotionally and materialistically.  I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Allison Vesterfelt before — some of her reviewers were Gary Thomas, Shauna Niequist, and John Mark Comer.

Recommendation status: If you are looking for a pep talk to embrace the life you’ve always dreamed of, this is a good place to start.

252 pages.

 

Up Next On The Reading List…

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Scary Close by Donald Miller

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life — Hannah Whitall Smith

 

Two Magazines Every Woman Should Read

Let’s face it: most magazines are full of gossip or drama. If they aren’t littered with less-than-desirable topics, they are often full of unrealistic images that women are plagued by every single day.

This is why I have such a deep appreciation for these two magazines: they don’t retouch the women in their images. They both provide a breath of fresh air in the publication world, being passionate about the uniqueness women bring to the table as well as real beauty.
Darling: the art of being a woman
“Darling is… the art of being a woman. Darling magazine holds the modern mold of woman up to the fire to evoke a discussion on femininity and re-shape an authentic design. Darling is a catalyst for positive change; leading women to discover beauty apart from vanity, influence apart from manipulation, style apart from materialism, sweetness apart from passivity, and womanhood without degradation. Darling leads women to practice the arts of virtue, wit, modesty, and wisdom – all the while creating beauty and embodying love. Darling says women are not only interesting, but original, not only good enough, but exceptional – not just here, but here for a purpose.”
With eight sections in each volume titled: The Dreamer, The Achiever, The Hostess, The Intellectual, The Stylist, The Confidant, The Beautician, and The Explorer. There are recipes, interviews with well-known influencers, style insight, and articles for everyone. Darling is the perfect mix of practicality and inspiration, stunning graphic design and stellar content.

To learn more, visit their website: darlingmagazine.org

To read the rest of this review, go to The Rising.