Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Freefall to Fly

I saw Rebekah Lyons speak about her book at Catalyst Labs this October. Much to my surprise, my boss gave me the book as a birthday gift a few weeks later. I devoured the book. There's something genuine about her writing. I appreciated hearing about her personal struggle with anxiety... AND doing so while living in NYC!

I already lent the book to a friend, so obviously I highly recommend it!

I will probably update this when I get the book back with some of my favorite quotes, but I wanted to add this to my blog before 2013 comes to a close.

Check out the Freefall to Fly website.

A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity have a Funeral or a Future?

I am always hesitant to recommend Driscoll's books because I do not agree with everything he believes. That being said, it was interesting to read his perspective on Christendom since he lives in Seattle and has never had the Midwestern feel that Christianity is alive and well. He talks to the different tribes of Christianity and realizes there are differences.

"[M]any of those presumed to be Christians do not possess true faith. Rather, in the world of post-Christendom, true Christian belief has been replaced with a borrowed faith, a lost faith, or no faith at all" (kindle location 229). I found this section to be very interesting since I have worked for churches and experienced people with all three "false faiths".

One third of the book is appendixes. I'm not sure why appendix A was not a part of the book since it dealt with church history and would have been better than having two post script-type add-ons to a book. Appendix B was suggested reading based on the different tribes mentioned in the book.

I thought it was an ok book. Not outstanding but interesting to read.

Want to find more of Driscoll's books? You can find them here.
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for this book review.

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #2.

Waging Heavy Peace

I only know a few songs by Neil Young. I am by no means an expert in his music or life. However, I found his book (the first one he has ever written) interesting. I am sure that if we crossed paths today, we could be friends. We both value time alone, taking walks in nature, great music (acoustic and electric), and red-winged blackbirds.

Neil is a dreamer. You can tell as you go through the book that he has his hands full of a lot of different projects. He has a genuine love for bringing back quality sound to the music industry. He names his cars and guitars. Like LOTR, it's sometimes hard to differentiate between objects and places when you come across a name. 

"Just as there is no way to change the past, there is no way to predict the future" (222).

"I think a lot about the music business and how it is reinventing itself.... The convenience is fantastic... but you can't feel it like you used to.... [C]omplaining without a solution is a waste of time" (259). Young's solution is Pono (formerly called PureTone). Information about it was scattered throughout his book. It sounds like it would be great!

In this book you will discover what tradition he has with his wife and the neighbors, his most embarrassing moment and who he actually wrote "Old Man" about (not his dad)!

This book contains language, which is expected from a rock and roll musician. Just warning you in case you are not expecting it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rest of God

As part of my required reading for the program I am in, I read The Rest of God. It took me longer to get through this because I wanted to put into practice what I was reading and REST! It is one of the best books I have read about the Sabbath. It is written in an easy to understand way. 

"I don't know how many books I've read or sermons I'e heard (and too many I've preached) that have helped me think better but not live better" (10).

"... simple tasks -- preparing sermons, cooking soup, cutting grass, growing corn -- when done in the same spirit, are holy. It is all the Lord's work. Virtually any job no matter how grueling or tedious -- any job that is not criminal or sinful -- can be a gift from God, through God, and to God" (24-25).

"Busyness makes us stop caring about the things we care about" (48-49).

"[S]ome facets of God we glimpse only through motion.... But other facets of God we discover only through stillness" (49). I like the idea that we have to be people of action, but we also have to slow down enough to learn new things about God.

"Sabbath is camping out in one place long enough for God to wound us and heal us" (99).

"Some of the most gifted people I've met are also some of the most broken" (118).

One of the hardest chapters for me was entitled: "Play: Stopping Just to Waste Time". I'm a pretty serious person most of the time and am thankful for the people who remind me to have fun. "Play and Sabbath are joined at the hip, and sometimes we rest best when we play hardest" (142).

I appreciated Buchanan's honesty with his own struggle in keeping the Sabbath. As he wrote, he shared personal stories of how being too busy would cause him to miss out on Sabbath. At the end of every chapter is a liturgy, a suggestion of what to put into action.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

LOTR triology

I never wrote a post about these books because what can you say?! This is such a must-read! It's quite the journey and is not for the faint of heart. From February-August this year, I made my way through these books. Tolkien is clever in his writing style. My former college professor, Charlie Starr, is teaching a class this spring and wanted to have an online discussion.

It was my first time through the series and I am hoping to read them again -- which shows how much I liked them since I rarely re-read books.

I found it interesting and sometimes confusing that so many things had names (like swords, people having multiple names, and places). It was hard for me to distinguish sometimes what they were talking about. Luckily, my roommate at the time, Krysten, knew a lot about LOTR and would explain things to me.

My favorite sub-plot was Eowyn. I guess I was sympathetic to her situation because she liked Aragorn and experienced unrequited love. I think she liked the IDEA of him, and I am glad she finally found her man. You'll have to actually read to see who she ends up with in the end! (Or you can google it - ha).

At some point, I want to read The Silmarillion.

I highly recommend reading this series. If you need to, use audio books. That's my secret to get through hard-to-read classics. You can find youtube videos of it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Knowing God by Name

Three generations of women work together to bring us an eight week study on different names of God.

I am convinced that the more we get to know the character of God, the more we will understand Him. Our lives and decisions are effected by how we view God. That makes this book, and studying God's names and character, one of the most important things in our journey with God.

My favorite week was week three based on the names that were in those chapters: All Present, The God Who Sees, My Hope, The Lord Who Heals, The Lord is There

I don't like the cover. It really bothers me that her feet are dangling, one splashing while the other is not within reach of the water. Did she lower herself and hoist herself up? No, she has a coffee cup in her hand. Minor detail, but it annoys me.

This is great for women's groups to study, since there are five days and questions and time to reflect for day six.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Under the Tuscan Sun: Book

When I started reading the book, I imagined the story line would match up with this:

It did not. Other than it had the same name, set in Italy, and about a woman revamping a home. The details are not at all the same. In the book, she is married and comes to Italy with her husband. While they do end up hiring people to help them with the work, she and her husband do a lot of the labor alongside the workers. It was not at all what I expected. Don't get me wrong.... I love the movie -- Diane Lane is one of my favorite actresses. The book was great as well. I don't normally like books that include foreign languages stuck throughout the book, but Mayes does a great job of explaining what each word in Italian means rather than assuming you know the language or want to check Google translate every time a new word shows up.

I love and miss Italy. I could understand a lot of what she was saying in the book based on my own experiences in this fascinating country. "I have known him two summers and this is the first personal information we have exchanged" (65). It takes time to get to know the people of Italy.

I appreciate Mayes' style of writing, and I'm pretty sure we could be great friends. "I spread my books, cards, and notepaper around me and indulge in the rare art of writing letters to friends. A second indulgence goes straight back to high-school days - consuming a plate of brownies and a Coke while copying paragraphs and verses I like into my notebook.... Hours go by without the need to speak" (76).

"The house protects the dreamer; the houses that are important to us are the ones that allow us to dream in peace" (86).

Mayes points out three things that are essential to know if you plan to go to Italy: ferragosto (186), which is the fact that almost everything is closed for a month long vacation for Italians in August, passegiata hour, where you will find "hoards of people mingling, visiting, strolling, running errands" (234-235) and siesta (275), that beautiful part of the afternoon when stores close so people can rest, watch TV, or just enjoy being together.

She spent Christmas in Italy and described it as follows: "Is this much happiness allowed? I secretly asked myself.... Many Christmases in my adult life have been exquisite, especially when my daughter was a child. A few have been lonely. One was very rocky. Either way, the season of joy comes with a primitive urge that runs deep into the psyche" (214).

You can check out her website.

Start with Why

Simon Sinek's purpose in life is to inspire others to do what inspire them. He has challenged me to change my way of thinking about life. Oh, this book... The following are some of my favorite quotes:

"WHY does your company[, church, organization] exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care" (39)?

"People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. A failure to communicate WHY creates nothing but stress and doubt" (58).

"We do better in cultures in which we are good fits. WE do better in places that reflect our own values and beliefs.... It is beneficial to live and work in a place where you will naturally thrive because your values and beliefs align with the values and beliefs of that culture" (90).

Chapter eight, Start with Why, But Know How, was my favorite, probably because I am more of a HOW person than a WHY person. I did a TED Talk style presentation based on this book and specifically chapter eight. The main point of that is that people who know WHY need people who know HOW (140).

You can check out Simon's START WITH WHY site.
You can check out Simon's new book due out in January, Leaders Eat Last.
You can check out Simon's own TED Talk. The link for the video is on the right column.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All In

Since I started working at NCC two months ago, reading Mark's books have become personal. I have loved his writing style since I discovered his books years ago, but now I better understand what he is sharing because I see it in real life. His love and passion for his family, Jesus, and the Church are the real deal.

His latest book, All In, was quite the sucker punch (as described in his own review).

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"We want everything God has to offer without giving anything up" (25).

"Which do you love more: the dream God gave to you or the God who gave you the dream? Is your dream a means of glorifying God? Or has the dream become the end goal and God is the means of fulfilling it" (45)? Ouch. This was the point of the book that I had to shut it and process.

"What got you to where you are may not get you to where God wants you to go next" (55).

In chapter six, Mark mentions the protege program (which I am now a part of!). "We have a protege program at National Community Church. It's a one-year unpaid internship, which presents a huge financial challenge given the cost of living in DC. Proteges have to raise their own support to come. But if they are willing to make the financial sacrifice, they will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And God has a way of honoring those who are willing to give up a paycheck to pursue His calling (61). God has been so faithful to provide for me.

"We Facebook more than we seek His face. We text more than we study The Text. And our eyes aren't fixed on Jesus. They're fixed on our iPhones and iPads -- emphasis on 'i' Then we wonder why God feels so distant" (77).

I feel like if I keep going, I will give away all the good stuff... So I recommend you grab a copy of it for yourself!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

Sometimes you just need a of young adult fiction from your free Amazon kindle books, ya know?

I chose this because it was easy to read and a good story.

I like reading young adult fiction because it's clean (for the most part). This was a high school romance story that included interesting family dynamics.

I could relate to her jealousy of her stepsister's life, but seeing both sides helps to understand each other better. 

"I acknowledged my lack of fashion sense many years ago, and had stuck to basic black ever since" (kindle 3). The main character, Mattie, and I are kindred spirits. 

Good quick read. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sticking Points

I have always found the topic of the generations fascinating. Shaw compares the four that have entered the workplace and challenges us to see each other differently. There are reasons behind our behaviors and what causes friction right now can be used to understand each other and work together well in the future.

It was great to get more information on the four generations in the workplace: Traditionalists (born before 1943), Boomers (1944-1964), Gen Xers (1965-1981), Millennials (1982-2003) (kindle location 162).

Part one of the book covers the ghost stories from each generation. These are events that have happened that affect how we process the twelve sticking points. These events affect the way we think and act.

Part two covers the twelve sticking points: communication, decision-making, dress code, feedback, fun at work, knowledge transfer, loyalty, meetings, policies, respect, training, and work ethic. Each generations' view is covered as well as ways you can discuss with your employees the issue in that chapter.

It was an overall good book. If you are looking to understand people (and their behaviors) better, I recommend this book. It covers four different generations that are in the marketplace and is mainly for working through differences at work. I noticed a few things about family members and co-workers from this book.

In exchange for this review, Tyndale Publishing gave me the book for free.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ragamuffin Gospel

Ragamuffin Gospel is quickly becoming my second favorite book (after Mike Yaconelli's Messy Spirituality), which means I will be rereading this book in the future. 

I really like Brennan Manning's style of writing and the way he connects with the reader throughout the book. You never feel like he is on a pedestal because he lumps himself together with everyone, even exposing some of his own weaknesses in this book. 

"Sadly, the meaning of meal sharing is largely lost in the Christian community today. In the NEar East, to share a meal with someone is a guarantee of peace, trust, fraternity , and forgiveness -- the shared table symbolizes a shared life" (Kindle location 630).

In chapter five, he talks about the loss of wonder in our lives. "Creation doesn't calm our troubled spirits, restore our perspective, or delight us in every part of our being" (Kindle location 1021).

I loved the section that talked about the power of media. "Grace abounds in contemporary movies, books, novels, films, and music.... Most people understand imagery and symbol better than doctrine and dogma. Images touch hearts and awaken imaginations.... Troubadours have always been more important and influential than theologians and bishops" (Kindle location 1075).

I highly recommend this book.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Road Trip To Redemption

A struggling family decides to reconnect with each other through a road trip out west.

The first part of the book is explaining how they got into the situation they did. It was a little bit longer than it needed to be, but throughout this section, I could sense Brad's passion for reaching out to parents in similar situations. While it may seem like Brad is ignoring his other children in section one, section two starts out with a great explanation of his entire family. The second part was about their road trip, which was great to read about, but I would have rather seen it as a video!

"God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through. ~Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God" (137).

Each chapter begins with pictures from their trip. It is interesting to read how God came through for all of them on this journey.

At the end of the book, there are suggestions about planning your own road trip. This is not saying that a road trip is for everyone or that it is the answer to your family's problems. However, the suggestions for budgeting such a trip are great since he learned from his experiences on the road.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Friday, June 28, 2013


This book was written for people like me who grew up in church who need to realize that our faith has to become our own. They talk about trashing the checklist of everything you should do to be a good Christian, finding true community, and being honest about our secret sins.

"Hand-me-down faith may work when things are going well, but when pressures and problems hit, what you thought you believed will crumble" (5).

In the chapter entitled "Sick of Secrets", they hit on something that I have experienced in church: "We are so ready to let the world know when God is doing great things. Yet when things take a turn for the worse, we keep it hidden. What are we so afraid of" (53)?

My favorite chapter was “Question Everything”. “Behind the ‘Where are You?’ questions often lies a more fundamental one: ‘Who are You?” (121). God is not afraid of your doubts or questions.

“It seems like modern society is striving to eliminate risk and make comfort and safety the ultimate goal” (145).

“It took us a long time to understand that church wasn’t a building or a pastor or a sermon series. It’s easy to point out everything wrong with the church when you stand outside it and approach it with a consumer mentality” (176).

Each chapter ended with testimonies from other young adults, questions to think about, and a few action step suggestions. 

You can check out more about the book (including a free download of the first chapter): firsthandbook.com.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Life of the Beloved

Henri Nouwen makes me feel better about how God has created me. I would like to think that if he was still alive, we would be good friends. He was a Dutch Catholic priest who has several books published, three of which I picked up at B&N recently.

He wrote this book in response to a friend's request to write a book about the Spirit for him and his friends who are secular. 

This book was a great reminder about who I am: a child of God. Nouwen says there are four words that are important words in the Christian life: taken (chosen), blessed, broken, given.

His main point is that we are God's Beloved. Before we were even born, we were loved by God.

"When I know that I am chosen, I know that I have been seen as a special person. Someone has noticed me in my uniqueness and has expressed a desire to know me, to come closer to me, to love me" (53).

"Isn't it easier for us to believe that we are cursed than that we are blessed" (74-75)? 

"[T]he joy of life comes from the ways in which we live together and that the pain of life comes from the many ways we fail to do that" (89-90).

"[A]ll we live finds its final significance in its being lived for others" (105).

"Our brokenness opened us to a deeper way of sharing our lives and offering each other hope" (110).

"God not only says: 'You are my Beloved.' God also says: 'Do you love me?' and offers us countless chances to say 'Yes'" (133).

I recommend this book. It was a quick read but a great reminder of how much we are loved by God.

Love Does

I should have known it would be similar to Donald Miller's style of writing when I read that the foreword was by none other than Donald Miller himself. Every chapter begins with "I used to think..., but now...". Reminds me of Jesus with his "You have heard it said... But I tell you" conversations.

I would like to be friends with Bob Goff based on the little I gathered about him through reading this book. He is a man of not just vision but also putting love into action. Loved the chapters of how he met his wife and how his kids wrote letters to world leaders and were invited to interview them, leading to friendships.

Some of my favorite quotes are:
"I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter" (30).

"[B]roken things, just like broken people, get used more; it's probably because God has more pieces to work with" (54).

"[B]e exactly who He has made us to be and who we are right where we are" (98).

"You become like the people you hang around, and to a great degree, you end up going wherever they're headed.... [W]e have a lot more power to decide who we do life with than some people think" (118).

God "wants followers, not just onlookers or people taking notes" (142).

"When I don't know the answer to where I am or what God wants me to be doing, which is often, I try to get a bearing on at least a couple of fixed points that I can trust. One is Jesus.... The other fixed point I use is a group of people I feel God has dropped into my life" (155).

"Secretly incredible people do things.... You want a mission statement to go along with being secretly incredible?... 'Be Awesome'" (161).

"Getting passed by can feel like a great injury. But it's not. It's people like us who can be secretly incredible and get the most done.... God loves the humble ones, and the humble ones often don't make it as first-round draft picks for the jobs with big titles or positions" (163).

"[T]hey have a name for guys who just study things about a person they like but don't do anything about it -- they're called bachelors" (199).

"Let me tell you what I do when I don't know what to do to move my dreams down the road. I usually just try to figure out what the next step is and then do that (216).

In May, there was a conference called Love Does Stuff. I found out about it a week before it happened, so I couldn't swing the $1000 trip to Washington, but it sounded like a great event. Be on the lookout for info on Love Does Stuff 2014. I am hoping it is in Detroit, a city that could really use some Jesus followers in action.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This is Perry Noble's first book. If you know anything about Noble as a speaker, you can tangibly feel his passion on the pages of this book.

This book goes through the life of David, although makes some pit stops with other characters in the Bible such as Peter and Paul.

"As followers of Christ, our primary goal is not to be understood but rather to be obedient" (63).

"The more I read the Bible, the more convinced I am that Jesus is always asking us to take the next step... We can't follow Jesus and stay the same. As we follow Him step-by-step, He makes us into who we need to be and shows us what we need to do" (127).

"Jesus didn't ask us to pick up our recliners and follow Him. He asked us to pick up our crosses. And those who won't carry their crosses will always drop out. Don't misunderstand: following Jesus isn't going to be easy. But it's always worth it" (181).

I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I remember hearing about this book from my former boss, Rick Chromey, when I graduated college. It was in his insanely large book collection and I remember thinking, I'd like to read that someday.

Well, today's the day I can say I've read it!

I really like Stanley's writing style. He is clear and to the point. He does not beat around the bush and has great illustrations to make his point.

This book goes through the story of Nehemiah, who had a great vision for the city of Jerusalem.

"Without a clear vision, odds are you will come to the end of your life and wonder. Wonder what you could have done -- what you should have done" (kindle location 106).

Throughout the book, Stanley encourages us to dream dreams that are unique to us.

I related to Nehemiah a lot. Nehemiah was a "man with immense leadership ability who awoke every day to do a job that tapped little or none of those skills" (kindle location 358). Don't call me out for pride; I'm just relating to the fact that he was not living in a dream world with his dream job.

At the end of each chapter were simple exercises you could go through to help define and redefine your vision.

As with all of Stanley's books, it's worth a read.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Deep & Wide

No, not the song, but if you grew up in church, I'm sure you'll have that song stuck in your head for a while...

Andy Stanley wrote this book and I have been reading it the last few months for our staff meetings.

It is a really great book that encourages people to think through how they've been "doing church".

One of the chapters that made me step back and consider how things are done is chapter nine. It was all about "the message before the message". Basically making sure that things are clean in appearance, putting yourself in the first timers' shoes and thinking through what they might be thinking if they came to your church.

I also really loved the conclusion chapter.

My heart is captured by those who are unchurched for whatever reason. I have a hard time with the status quo in church because I know there are people out there who do not know Jesus. There are people who are MY NEIGHBORS who do not know Jesus.

This book was challenging churches to look through the perspective of someone who has not been to church in a while and make it captivating. You do not have to dumb down the message, but we have made church about keeping church people happy for far too long and Stanley is calling us to go wide.

Church is for everyone.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Invested Life

I heard about this book from our women's minister. She works right across the hall from me, so when she gave me a copy and highly recommended it, I started reading it.

It was a great combination of their personal experiences with discipleship as well as testimonies at the end of the chapter.

The main premise of the book is WHO ARE YOU INVESTING IN? and WHO IS INVESTING IN YOU?

Two very tough question to ask yourself.

My favorite part of the book was Joel's testimony. I could relate to him on so many levels, from being serious about my faith as a junior in high school to going overseas on missions trips that changed the course of life. We both know people that can look into our very souls and just know what is going on.

Another part that interested me was the life and legacy of Andrew. Over the span of two pages, they map out the disciples affected by Andrew's simple obedience in following Jesus. Andrew (went from disciple of John the Baptist to disciple of Jesus), got his brother, Peter, who was head of the Church. Barnabas, Paul, and John Mark follow... Paul goes on to disciple Timothy and Titus. Aquila and Priscilla, two of Paul's co-workers, take Apollos under their wing to take him deeper into the Word. All because one man, Andrew -- very likely an introvert -- was obedient and followed Jesus.

Tyndale offers the first chapter for free. They also have online discussion guides for leaders to print out.

I hope to really truly follow Jesus' command to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. This book was an eye opener as to how it could be done. It is a great tool and it's only $10!

The challenge now is to do something with what I have read about discipleship!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist

I am convinced I could be related to Amanda Jenkins, the author of Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist. Her writing style made her easy to relate to and I share some of her struggles with perfectionism. I laughed a lot throughout the book, thinking to myself, that is so me!

My favorite chapter was called "Diet Coke". While I am addicted to regular Coke, I understood her dependency on Diet Coke to get through the day. "I think He's convicting me to stop using [Diet Coke] wrongly. And by that I mean drinking in excess or as a coping mechanism or as my source of peace.... I'm pretty sure that's how I sometimes use it -- as my own little escape or twist on comfort food" (136-137).

Her stories were interesting and made me want to hang out with her and her friends. She pulled all the chapters together with Bible verses that fit the theme of each chapter. They tied it together well.

If you're wondering if this book is for you, consider her Q & A question number two:

Q: In your book, you talk about your addiction to perfection. What were the signs that this was an issue for you?
A: Little things. For a long time, I didn’t let my husband see me without makeup. I got really upset/frazzled when people dropped by unexpectedly. I got easily embarrassed when I messed up, and I wouldn’t admit to struggling. And I thought I had life pretty together—that I actually didn’t struggle/mess up/sin as much as other people did.

Still not sure you want to read it?
You can read Chapter One here. You can also read the entire Author Q & A here.

In exchange for this review, Tyndale Publishing gave me the book for free.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Story

The church I work at is finishing up this book. Every ministry was going through it on age-appropriate levels. Our middle school students read the adult book (not much difference between adult and teen books).

I enjoyed reading this because it was done in a way that made sense while not being overwhelmed with reading THE ENTIRE BIBLE. It is 470 pages and sometimes paraphrases what happens (when they summarize, it is done in italics which is convenient).

It can be a quick, easy read, but our church went through it one chapter/week. There are maps and timelines which help frame what is being talked about in each chapter.

Overall it is a book of Good News. I am glad I went through it, but I am also glad to be done and start studying smaller parts of the Bible again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Hobbit

I have read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien twice in the past few months.

I wanted to read it before seeing part one of the trilogy. I remember wanting to read it while I was in high school or something, but it was too visual for me (ok, I HAVE an imagination, but I just wanted to SEE all of the dwarves in their cloaks)...

I have been doing a Facebook conversation about The Hobbit with my former professor. I took his C.S. Lewis class in college and loved it. He put it out on Facebook that he was going to be doing an online book group about Tolkien's LOTR series. I have never read the LOTR trilogy (or The Hobbit before December), so I am still trying to figure out what all the names are -- what are buildings and what are people. Not only are there names, but several people have nicknames...

I am reading it via book on my kindle + cds from the library. I know that my kindle can read it to me, but it's monotone and I much prefer a British man reading me the story!

The Hobbit is a brilliant piece of literature.

As always with favorite characters, one of mine died in the end... so sad.

But I don't want to ruin it for those of you who have not had the adventure of reading through it!

Go get it NOW!

Get Lost

Warning: this book is deceiving. While you may think this is another book about finding true love (as in a boyfriend finally), think again. This is about getting lost in God... reconnecting and rediscovering His love for you.

I really enjoyed this book personally. I got it because I thought it would help me in girls' ministry, but it was so helpful in getting me back on track with my devotions. It was convicting and exactly what I needed.

For example, she lists several excuses we could use to not spend time with God. "I am a reluctant lover when... [I] fill my schedule with so much service for my God that I never have time to be still and with my God" (70).

Gresh breaks it up into a ten day challenge to connect with God. You can use each chapter as a day or if you are doing a group study, you have the choice to make it ten weeks.

In this book there is space in case you want to journal about what she is writing about in the chapter. There are also group conversation questions and a leader's guide for a book study in case you are interested in going that route. I did not use either, but for those of you who would like to know, those are available for you.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Perks of Being a Wallflower

I really enjoyed this book. It helped me remember what high school was like... dealing with issues that were important to us, hanging out with friends (and the entire drama that can unfold within friend groups), and struggling to be understood by parents.

I really liked the style of writing. It was written as journal entries from a boy named Charlie. Charlie is very much an introvert, so it was great to read an insight into his world.

It is amazing the power of friendship within the loneliness of high school. This was simply a beautiful book I picked up at the library. It was written as if it was 1992, so the world was a different place back then. It seems that it would have been edgy for the time, but it is not as much today because some of the things within the book are more accepted now than they were then.

With my ten year high school reunion coming up, it was a great reminder of high school. I mainly read the book so I could see the movie...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Am Not But I Know I AM

Louie Giglio is a great speaker, and as it turns out, a great author. This is my first book that I have read by him. Giglio constantly reminds us about how small we are compared to our great God. It is humbling to read his book and remember that truth.

From the start, Giglio is unapologetic in confronting "two of the archenemies of the heart... stress and meaninglessness" (4). "To both stress and meaninglessness, this book says, "Enough!" (5).

"... if you're at a place in life where weariness and strain are more commonplace than rest and wonder, this book has found you at just the right time" (20-21).

In the book, Louie goes through a Bible study method that I have yet to put into practice but want to. It's called the One Word Bible Study Method (explained in detail in Appendix A). Basically it is going through one sentence of the Bible, one word a day, to really soak up the entire meaning of that sentence. It may seem slower than our usual read a chapter a day methods, but when you read the book, you'll see how valuable it can be.

"Just because you are small, never confuse that with being insignificant to God.... You are little. But you are intensely loved" (67).

The most convicting chapters were "Be Still" and "Furious Rest", which were about the Sabbath.

I highly recommend this book.

I reviewed this book for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Friday, February 1, 2013

stack o' book

Last year I posted a stack of books that I wanted to read through in 2012. I made it through about half of them. I got distracted by books from the library, free books that came from Blogging for Books/Multnomah Publishing, and just an overall busy season of life.

Here's my current stack of books:

I have read two of the books before (Faith in the City and Walking with God), but I feel like I could benefit from reading them again (something I rarely do -- I think I have read Messy Spirituality 2-3 times -- the most of any book).

January has been slow for me since I wanted to try to read Les Mis before seeing the movie (I got to 27% on my kindle before seeing it with a friend). So I am still working my way through it. In addition to the books pictured, I want to read through the Lord of the Rings series. I have a college prof who is creating a class on Tolkien's works and we are having an online discussion via Facebook so he can work out what he wants to teach this fall. So super excited. Except I JUST read The Hobbit and I'll have to do it again. Oh well. Time well spent to continue learning from this man, Charlie Starr. I took his class on C.S. Lewis and it was by far one of my favorite college classes! 

Here's to reading in 2013! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christian chick lit

Confession: I'm not usually a fan of Christian fiction.

But as I rediscovered my kindle the week between Christmas and New Year's, I decided to give a Christian chick lit book I found on my kindle a try. Can't help that the title was right up my alley... Around the World in 80 Dates: Confessions of a Christian Serial Dater. I could definitely identify with the characters in the book.

I found this book to be a fun, quick, easy read. I could relate to the characters well and really enjoyed Christa Banister's style of writing. Her humor was witty and she has obviously travelled to the cities mentioned in the book. It was cool to recognize some of the places mentioned.

"Unlike the majority of my Christian college friends, I decided I could forgo the husband for the first couple of years after graduation. Instead, I'd date casually, concentrate on my career, get more involved in church, and pay off that pesky student loan. And since I was being so responsible, maybe I'd save up for a down payment on a renovated downtown loft. And maybe the latest Prada bag. Or a trendy Fendi clutch, depending on my mood. Of course, after all that was accomplished and I'd traveled to some of Europe's best sights, I'd consider settling down and getting married." (Kindle Locations 46-49)

"But more and more, I'm beginning to see the wisdom in not getting hitched by the age of twenty-two" (Kindle Location 296).

I liked this book so much I bought her second book: Blessed are the Meddlers: Confessions of a Serial Matchmaker.

Although I did not enjoy this as much as the first (might be because the first book is more relateable in this stage of my life), I enjoyed the continuation of the story nonetheless.

The story focuses more on Sydney's still single younger sister, Samantha, who I could relate to in a lot of ways as a college graduate.

"The comfortable bubble she'd lived in for four years was about to burst, thrusting her smack-dab into the real world. And unlike college-with student loan payments on hold and a slew of friends just a short walk down the hallway-the real world was full of uncertainties" (Kindle Locations 884-886).

Quick, fun, easy reads.