Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Thousand Gifts

 I received this book from a friend who loved it. We were in Haiti when she read it three years ago - and it took me three years to be disciplined enough to pick the book up and read it.

I don't like flowery language. Say what you need to say... or become a fiction writer. It was hard to read this book because she had this story writing feel while trying to get across the main point of the book - thankfulness. Please pick one or the other, Ann. I appreciated your openness in sharing parts of your own story, but it was meshed with little nuggets of wisdom that could have done better in a different setting.

I like the general concept - be grateful and realize all the blessings God is giving you every day. My pastor mentioned almost weekly the idea of having a gratitude journal (which is not a new thing that Ann invented, she is just bringing it into the spotlight).

This book is for some people, but not for all. I felt like she was the Charles Dickens of Christian authors. Does she get paid by the word?

Thursday, December 24, 2015


 This book.

Stop what you are doing now and treat yourself to this book.

Lauren F. Winner teaches at Duke. She is divorced. She lost her mother. She is honest that life does not always turn out the way you thought it would.

I knew I had found a kindred spirit when she talked about her inability to create masterpieces in the kitchen, her love for doodling prayers, and her affinity for the balcony at church.

"[W]hat I feared most about loneliness [was n]ot being alone, which I often ind perfect and peaceful, but loneliness, which makes me want to die, which makes me think I will die, which I will do anything to avoid feeling" (54). "Sit with the loneliness and ask what the loneliness can do for you" (56).

"I am too lazy to do what's important, or hard, so I stay busy with everything else" (105).
I cannot pinpoint the exact thing that makes me connect and love her writing, but I plan to check out more of her books. My favorite chapter was "A Sunday morning in Massachusetts".

Check it out!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Through a Man's Eyes

Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross partner up to bring women what they want: an inside scoop on what men are thinking. Feldhahn and Gross talk about what goes on in a man's mind and why he is so visual. They cover a variety of topics and do not shy away from tough ones. They include how to address porn and masturbation. They are quick to let you know it is not uncommon to get professional help for relationship problems based on problems like porn.

Because I have read most of Feldhahn's books, men's visual nature is not new to me, but it may shock some women. "Whereas women's memories are tied more to what they felt, men's memories are more tied to what they have seen" (37).

Every woman can benefit from reading this book. While some of it is addressing husbands, we all know men - fathers, brothers, sons, friends. It is important information that might help you communicate better. There's an extensive Q&A section in the back of the book that will help.

I received this book for WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Abba's Child: Brennan Manning

This book is a reminder of the essential relational identity: children of God. Manning's honesty about where he has been in life was refreshing. Manning had a powerful way of uncovering falsehoods and giving the reader resources to replace lies with truth. If you feel like you have lost passion for God, pick up this book and walk alongside Brennan Manning. You're in good company. "In actuality, the cynic is a hurt sentimentalist turned inside out (133).

"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion" (42).

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

July... August...

So I started grad school this summer and have fallen behind on updating this!

Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom was a great read. I got through it by reading the book as well as listening to it. Because there are names and places that I could not pronounce, I would much rather listen to someone else read it to me. Listening to books keeps me on track. It was interesting to read after being in South Africa this summer.

Multiplication is for White People was a book that was required reading for the summer. It is so great to read about education from Lisa Delpit. Her background as an educator and parent is invaluable to the conversation.

Billy Graham wrote a book on the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life. Let that sink in for a minute. It was a book required for the C.S. Lewis fellows program. It was one of the best books I read for the program.

Loving God When You Don't Love the Church: Opening the Door to Healing was a very real book about the struggle between loving God and loving the Church when you've been hurt. Pretty sure we have all been hurt by the church at some point, but the Church is worth fighting for. The author gave real examples and was a pretty good book to read, especially since I have worked on staff at a few churches.

I Am Because You Are: Another book about education in South Africa. So interesting to read about education. I found this book at the library and was encouraged by how they want to invest in children from conception to career.  

Other People's Children is also by Lisa Delpit. Another great read on education.

Needless to say, these days, my book list is filled with books about education. I'm hoping to read a few good stories every once in a while, but there are a lot of books required for the my grad classes.

Thanks for being patient and understanding!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


So check out this little ditty:

Awkwafina takes us on many random adventures through the five boroughs of NYC.

I'll admit, I've only been to New York City once in high school. There is still a lot of territory left to cover!

I think I might start with Stanton Island, Little Italy, or a day in Central Park. She includes secrets about them all!

I like that she included random things like the best places to take a pee break, top Chinese places, and an adult scavenger hunt through Central Park.

This book is fun to read and includes maps.

The only thing that makes me wonder is what our children will think of the outdated terms she uses and if construction eventually changes any of her routes (she's obviously familiar with each route she describes in the book).

Sometimes she went a little over the top and used unnecessary language, but overall this book is fun for 20-30 somethings looking for a fun weekend in NYC. 

I received this book for WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

June Books: halfway through the year!

This month I read two books that were by far some of the BEST I have read this year. One of them deals with racial issues; the other with intimacy in relationships. Both were well written.

The Watsons Go to Birmigham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

This was his first book! I cannot wait to read his other works. This was a brilliant work (and great to read given our past year with racial conflict) to read this year. It follows a family from Flint, Michigan (YEA MICHIGAN!) who travel down South to see their grandma. The family consists of the parents and three kids. The story is written from the perspective of the middle child, a boy named Kenny.

Go read it. It might be the best book you'll read all year.

Scary Close by Donald Miller.

That being said, if you're not interested in that book, do yourself a favor and pick up Scary Close. Everyone needs to read this book. It talks about relationships and intimacy, and given the fact that most adults are in the intimacy vs. isolation phase of life, it was a much needed read.

Donald Miller got married recently, and he shares part of his story with Betsy. I relate to Donald Miller because he's an introvert wanting to have a relationship while struggling to give up alone time.

"At some point, I just stopped trusting people.... If I needed somebody for something, I'd let myself get close but not too close, always keeping my parachute on" (46-47).

My favorite chapter was called "You Will Not Complete Me". "Codependency happens when too much of your sense of validation or security comes from somebody else" (206). "Know who you are and what you want in a relationship, and give people the freedom to be themselves" (207).

The One

I had never heard of Ryan and Amanda Leak before reading this book, but I will be checking out their wedding video on YouTube!

Ryan and Amanda work with young adults, and it is very clear to see they are gifted in addressing that audience. They probably wrote with that specific audience in mind, but it would be applicable to people who are older than that age group. I found their story encouraging to read.

"[E]very girl out there deserves to be cherished and loved at the highest level" (Kindle location 394). Ryan makes me realize that there are good guys out there. Girls, do not settle!

This book was encouraging because it shared about their own struggles and successes in their relationship. It is easy to see that they are a team in their writing, ministry, and in life. That teamwork did not come easily -- their relationship and marriage is work!

One thing I appreciated about this book was that at the end of every chapter were three things: One Question to Ask Yourself, One Thing to Remember, and One Thing to Work On.

This book is a book of healing, learning more about yourself (whether you're in a relationship or not), and dealing with past hurts to become the best person you can be to set you up for healthy relationships.

Check this book out! So much good insight into how they navigated the single lifestyle as well as how they transitioned from single to dating to being engaged/married on the same day. God is writing an interesting story through Ryan and Amanda.

I received this book for WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Letter to My Mom

Although today is Father's Day, I am going to review a book written for mothers.

This book was a compilation of letters to mothers from sons and daughters. There were famous people who shared their stories about their mothers, including Shania Twain, Josh Groban and Suze Orman. It was nice to get a little insider information on some of their childhood memories.

I was supposed to read this by Mother's Day, but life has been hectic the past two months and there's really never a bad time to give your mom a present. So while this might have been a perfect present for your mom (with a space for you to write your own note in the front if you want), you can still buy it and give it to her now.

No time like the present, right?

I received this book for WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books. I received this book for free in exchange for a review of the book.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Because I was out of the country, I'm behind on posting May books!

Although I recommend Nicole Fulgham Baker's Educating All God's Children, I realize some people just don't have time (or possibly enough interest) to get into the subject matter all the way. Schools In Crisis is the CliffNotes version of that book. If you want to find out more about what our children are experiencing in education, pick this book up. It's an easy read and a great way to find out how to get involved.

Praying in Color is a book I've heard about for years. I am glad I read it because it allowed me to see how another person uses creativity during personal prayer times. Although I have yet to actually use some of the things described in this book, I like that someone is trying to expand the idea of what prayer looks like. It's not just with eyes closed and heads bowed.

Because I work in a school book room, I had some free time on my hands to pick a few to read. The Popcorn Book is by one of my favorite children's authors: Tomie de Paola. Check it out!

I've been curious about the story of Rumpelstiltskin since watching Once Upon a Time. I realized I didn't know the story. I'm glad I read it. Tricky, tricky.

Did you know Bill Cosby was a children's author? I didn't. Found The Worst Day of My Life. Easy to relate to.

Memories of Vietnam: War in the First Person. I picked this book out because my dad's generation lived and served in this infamous war. I don't even know how to begin to describe what it must have felt like for these soldiers while they were on foreign ground but also returning home.

Escape to Freedom: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass: A Play for Young People. This book (like mentioned, written as a play) spurred my curiosity for Frederick Douglass. I would love to study him further and I know DC has a museum dedicated to his life.

Overall, May was a good month (but obviously busy!).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

April: Super Late!

Sorry for the lateness of this post. Life is flying by!

Spring seems to always be the busiest time of year! I know it's mid-May, but here's the books I read in April!

The Autobiography of George Muller was a book for CS Lewis Institute. It was really interesting to read. It seems like his whole life was about money... praying for it and trusting in God's provision. I struggle with living a life like he did, not letting other people know anything about needs. I love that he wanted to help children in England. He was very persistent in prayer. Loved reading an autobiography of a great missionary.

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett
Because I received this book for free, I wrote an entire post for the book here.

Educating All God's Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham. I heard Nicole Baker Fulgham speak at last year's Justice Conference simulcast. I love her passion for education and Michigander background! Reading this book took some time -- I started reading it on the bus and found myself starting to cry, so I had to put it away for a while until I had time to devote to it. It is heartbreaking to hear about the nature of America's education system. There are a lot of factors up against our students and this issue is URGENT. Millions of children are effected by the educational systems we have in place right now. If anything, this book has confirmed that I am supposed to be involved in education in some way. I highly recommend this book!

I heard about It Takes a Fool from a colleague of mine. It is about bullying. This book shares the story of the author's childhood experiences. Just when you think it cannot get any worse, it does. This was an interesting insight into a bully's mindset and what may be happening outside of school to spark the conflicts we see at school.

Sometimes it is best to read children's books. They contain the main points of an issue, so I checked out a few books on Nelson Mandela. This book was really great for giving a broad overview of his life and passion for equality in South Africa. I am excited to go to South Africa this week and see it in person. This man was amazing, and we can learn a lot from him. He's not perfect (he readily admits that), but he has been a world-changer.

This is another children's book from the book room I work in at the school. It was great to read stories of earlier times. It seems like life was so much easier in smalltown USA than now-a-days. At the same time, I am glad to be where I am. Just really funny to read some of the stories and see the differences between now and 50 years ago.

Last but certainly not least, is this book. Anyone who has read Lucado knows that he has a way with words. This book was practical and helpful for thinking through life (looking at your life backwards) to see where we can uniquely serve the Kingdom of God. Read this book slow enough to actually contemplate life. This is not for speed-reading.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Power of Half Hour

As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but realize how influenced by this man and his visions for the world my church is. Everything from the Dream Center to Adopt-a-Block. We have started the process for our own Dream Center here in DC: DC/DC. Sidenote and shameless plug: If you enjoy music, you should download this project (YOU ALONE) from our church's worship team! All proceeds go towards the DC Dream Center.

When we look at problems in any area of life, it can be overwhelming. Barnett really makes it possible to make a difference in someone's life (including your own) by investing thirty minutes at a time.

There are 30 power principles included in the book that go along with the personal action plan in the back. Ideally, he suggests going through the book thirty minutes at a time. So pacing yourself while reading the book and actually APPLYING what you're reading is the goal.

Principle #13 is Slow down: Step off your treadmill to get perspective.

"Sometimes it's good to stop running and be quiet. I know that sounds countercultural" (65). ESPECIALLY IN DC!

Principle #17: Make a Career "Work": Boost productivity with thirty-minute meetings (85). ESPECIALLY IN DC!

Thankful for this book. It not only shares principles for life but also stories from Barnett's own life.

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

March Madness: Book Edition

 Meditating On the Word by Deitrich Bonhoeffer. This is the first book by Bonhoeffer I have been able to get through so far. I'm still working on Cost of Discipleship.

One of my favorite quotes from this book was: "The Word of God demands our time.... To be a Christian is not a matter of a moment; it takes time" (122).

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

This small book was a great reminder of being careful with what we are given.

"If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends" (18).

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Towzer

Another book for the CS Lewis program. I read this one on my Kindle. Even though it's sometimes convenient, I am not really a fan of Kindle books. I remember less about them. Honestly not a huge fan of Towzer's style of writing, but he has some good thoughts.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Ahh, the good Bronte sister... the one worth reading. I have purposefully not watched any movies, read any reviews, or looked at any spoilers for the book, so the storyline was a complete shock to me! In case you haven't read it, I won't include any details, but overall Jane is a very likable character who was easy to relate to. I liked that she wasn't afraid to speak her mind.

Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets

As part of my prep for the mission trip to South Africa, our team read this book. Having not grown up in a church like the one Dutch talks about, it was interesting to read. I loved chapter fourteen, which was about watchmen and the different responsibilities they have. "Watchmen keep things, places and individuals safe" (261).

The following question haunts me: "Is it possible that some who have fallen away from Christ would not have if someone had interceded for them" (87)?

"The unbeliever cannot war for himself" (188).

I am part of the C.S. Lewis Fellows program, which greatly influences what I read and what time I have leftover to read what I want! The program ends in June and honestly, I can't wait to have some choice in what I get to read! SCARY CLOSE by Donald Miller is one of the top!

Monday, March 23, 2015

February: 3 Books

I go through seasons of reading. Some months I read more books than others. In January, I read six books (probably because I was finishing some books). Here are the three I read in February:

The Art Lesson: I work in a book room and have found a few books by one of my favorite childhood authors, Tomie dePaola. He is fantastic and always has great lessons in his books. Fun quick read.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. This is a C.S. Lewis book I had never heard of before. It was neat to just get an inside look into his letters. It would have been great to get the other side of the book from Malcolm. My favorite chapter in this book is 21 (I subtitled it "prayer is irksome" since none of the chapters have titles). I am comforted by the fact that Lewis did not have it all together -- and he openly admits it. "The truth is, I haven't any language weak enough to depict the weakness of my spiritual life" (113). I'm not the only one! This is a good read if you're looking to dive into the topic of prayer.

Churchless: Because I got this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review, I wrote a different post on this book. Find it here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Who wants to read research data?

Well the good thing I can tell you about this book is that although it is data-driven, it reads well! Barna is great -- I've even seen him live once, and he was very interesting.

On to the book!

This book made me extremely grateful for my church in DC as well as my home church in Michigan.

"God has called you and your faith community to expand his Kingdom in a particular place with unique features and cultural quirks" (10).

In this book, the "unchurched" include people who grew up in church but no longer attend. It also includes skeptics, atheists, and agnostics.

"Unchurched adults are very much like church adults... except they don't attend church" (43).

My favorite chapter was eight: "Disengaged and Dropping Out". This subject is nothing new in my life as I have watched friends walk away from Christianity for a variety of reasons. This is also why I love NCC and appreciate Pastor Mark's messages. He does not shy away from discussing science (a topic that can be a hindrance to others).

"Many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to both their religious beliefs and their sense of professional calling into a science-related field" (100).

"Single and married-without-children adults have little reason to connect with a church if its resources are funneled toward children's and family ministry" (118).

A suggestion in reaching the unchurched included matching up younger people with older mentors. I cannot tell you how many times I had conversations about this. My generation NEEDS older people in our lives. We are losing out on the art of homecooked meals. There is something amazing that happens when we learn from older generations (and help older generations figure out new technology). I miss that in my life right now since my main community is 20-30 somethings.

This book reminded me of the struggle I went through (even as a church leader) to find my place within the Church. I am thankful for that struggle and how it helps me remain sensitive to others on the journey.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

50 Books In 2015

Here's a list of the 2015 Book Challenge. I will update this each month with the books I read! Not too late to join in the adventure!

1) A book with more than 500 pages (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
2) A classic romance
3) A book that became a movie
4) A book published this year
5) A book with a number in the title
6) A book written by someone under 30
7) A book with non human characters 
8) A funny book
9) A book by a female author
10) A mystery or thriller
11) A book with a one word title (Churchless by Barna and Kinnaman)
12) A book of short stories (Chicken Soup for the Soul Love Stories)
13) A book set in a different country (Nelson Mandela: South Africa's Anti-Aparteid Revolutionary by Diane Dakers)
14) A nonfiction book (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis)
15) A popular author's first book
16) A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet (One and Only by Emily Giffin)
17) A book a friend recommended (It Takes a Fool: A Tough Lesson Learned on Bullying by Sasha Dreams)
18) A Pulitzer Prize winning book 
19) A book based on a true story
20) A book at the bottom of your to-read list 
(Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman)
21) A book your mom (or dad) loves (Homer Price by Robert McCloskey)
22) A book that scares you
23) A book more than 100 years old
24) A book chosen based entirely on its cover
25) A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
26) A memoir (Wild Tales by Graham Nash)
27) A book you can finish in a day (The Art Lesson by Tommy dePaola)
28) A book with antonyms in the title
29) A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
30) A book that came out the year you were born
31) A book with bad reviews
32) A trilogy
33) A book from your childhood
34) A book with a love triangle
35) A book set in the future
36) A book set in high school
37) A book with a color in the title
38) A book that made you cry (Educating All God's Children by Nicole Fulgham Baker)
39) A book with magic
40) A graphic novel
41) A book by an author you've never read before 
(Story of Awkward by R.K. Ryals)
42) A book you own but haven't read yet (A Praying Life by Paul Miller)
43) A book that takes place in your hometown (or surrounding area)
44) A book that was originally written in a different language 
45) A book set during Christmas
46) A book by an author with your same initials
47) A play (Escape to Freedom: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass: A Play for Young People by Ossie Davis)
48) A banned book
49) A book based on or turned into a TV show
50) A book you started but never finished 

Here are more books that did not fit into these categories:

  • Meditating on the Word by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
  • The Pursuit of God by A.W. Towzer
  • Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets
  • The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
  • The Power of A Half-Hour by Tommy Barnett
  • The Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
  • The Autobiography of George Muller by George Muller
  • Memories of Vietnam: War in the First Person by Ellen Weiss
  • The Worst Day of My Life by Bill Cosby
  • Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O Zelinsky
  • The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola
  • Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth
  • Schools in Crisis by Nicole Fulgham Baker

January: 6 Books

I read six books in January. Kind of a miracle based on the fact that I am usually happy if I get through one book/month. The first book I read was Wild Tales, which is my last post. 

A Praying Life was a great book about prayer. It was practical and easy to read. I had a few people comment about the book when they noticed I was reading it. This was one of the required books for my C.S. Lewis fellows program this month on the topic of prayer. 

Sometimes I just want to read a story. I was interested in the title, The Story of Awkward. This book was simple. I didn't really like the ending (but in case you read it, I won't share what happened). I thought it was kind of out of sync with the rest of the book. Ryals wrote this for her daughter to help her realize and appreciate her differences and what makes her unique. It was an ok book.

My brother's girlfriend let me borrow this book. Can't say I've picked up one of these Chicken Soup for the Soul books in YEARS. It was nice to read on the bus on my way to Philly last year for Christmas... I finished it in 2015, so I'm counting it in this year's books. As always, inspirational little stories about love. Might be the perfect time to pick it up for Valentine's Day.

Emily Giffin is a talented author. I have devoured her other books and this one was no different. I really like the way she writes about real life topics that matter and in the first person. This is not my favorite one of hers, but it was interesting story line.

Another book for the Fellows Program. Newman brings a lot to the table in what he has to offer, but I don't necessarily like reading books like this. I am glad I read it, and it's better than other books we have had to read in the same vain. If you're interested in the topic, it would be good to pick up and read. 

Six books. Only January. I might be able to complete this 50 books in 2015 challenge!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Wild Tales

My first book completed in 2015 is Wild Tales by Graham Nash.
Typical of a rock and roll star, he talks about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. WARNING: If you're not into reading curse words (particularly the F word), find another book.

I like reading books like this, although sometimes I get lost in the details. It helps me realize my parents grew up in this culture. I really enjoyed seeing his perspective on life. As a school dropout, he's done pretty well for himself and goes to show that education is not always best in schools. His artist personality is appealing, since he does more than just sing.

"[CSN had] been together for practically ten years, through our unstable twenties, in the spotlight for all that time. All three of us were complicated, intense, headstrong, talented, unpredictable -- qualities that came with risks. Add money, women, drugs, and alcohol to the mix, it's a wonder we weren't in high-security lockdown. No question CSN was a rocky marriage" (251).

I like that Nash shares the good, the bad, and the ugly.

"To this day, a camera is never far from my reach. I get such a unique perspective looking at the world through a lens, an outlook that has captivated me all of my life... It has taught me to become more aware of my surroundings to see the beauty that exists around us all the time, to appreciate all forms of imagery. I'm amazed anew every time I look through a lens" (338).

I've never seen so many famous people's names in one book. While I would chalk it up to name-dropping, it was actually HIS LIFE... and HIS PEOPLE! Wow. To be among the first rock and rollers -- to hang out with Jimi, the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, Joni and more... AND the fact that he gave money to a few of his son's friends to keep going in the music business... Thank God because they turned into Maroon 5!

At 72 years old, he is still rockin' out -- and looks great. Check out this youtube clip to see him just last year (note: I haven't watched it all yet, so I cannot vouch for it, but he looks great).

Now I just need to find time to go to the National Museum of American History where I can see his photography equipment/prints! YEA!

A little over a year ago, I read Neil Young's autobiography. Halfway through learning about the lives of CSNY members... Now I need to figure out if Stills or Croz have autobiographies.

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, January 1, 2015


Margaret Feinberg has a unique writing style -- and I love it! She was so honest and open about life experiences. In the beginning she talked about hiking in Scotland with my former boss, Juliet! 

This is exactly what I needed to prepare me for 2015. Glad this was my last read of 2014.

"Though discouraged, I refused to stop pursuing God" (13).

Being in the city, it was really challenging to read the chapter on the wonder of creation. There is something so incredibly beautiful about being in nature. My love for Lake Michigan and being outside makes more sense after reading that chapter and finding spots to go to in the city will be my new challenge for 2015.

"God never entices us with evil, but he does allow us to be tested and refined in our faithfulness. Sin will try to seduce us, challenging our fidelity and integrity" (88).

One of my favorite chapters was The Magic in the Table.
"To rediscover the wonder of friendship, I had to change. Rather than holding people back, I needed to invite them in.... The temptation to live a guarded life allures everyone, but walls constructed for protection ultimately leads to isolation" (116-117).

The awesome part is that I feel like if we were in the same city, we could be fast friends. She includes a playlist for each chapter at the back of the book. I created a Spotify playlist of it.

On the plus side, the journey is not over yet! She has "Thirty Days of Wonder" to keep going. Thanks, Margaret. This book has brought me back around in my spiritual life and I'm on the up and up.

Last Few Reads of 2014

Rounding out 2014 are the following books (and one last one that deserves its own post):

This year, I am part of the C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows program. One of the books we read was Mere Christianity. The next time I read it, I want to read it in order. Because of the program, we were jumping all over the place but still read the entire book. It drives me crazy to read things out of order. 

I've heard a lot about this book from friends. It was interesting to read in light of where our culture is today compared to where Lewis' culture was when he wrote this book. 

Some of my favorite parts (WAY TOO MANY -- read the book!):
  • Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better (13).
  • Free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having (48).
  • A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble (63).
  • Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.... either into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature (92).
  • The Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives (112).
    YES! This is not just limited to British people. We need to quit holding people to a standard they don't hold for themselves. 
  • No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.... Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later (142).
The chapter that hit me the hardest was probably the one entitled, "The Greatest Sin". It was all about pride, a sneaky little vice that can rear its ugly head at any moment.

Another book for C. S. Lewis Fellows program was this one, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. It was a small booklet and quick read. 

Don't you want to be the kind of person who, when they see themselves in a mirror or reflected in a shop window, does not admire what they see but does not cringe either (35)?

I finally read this book, another one I've heard a lot about from friends.

It was different than I thought it would be. I didn't realize it was more of a storytelling of her own love story with Jim Elliot than how to date well, although I did find it slightly annoying that the foreward was from I Kissed Dating Goodbye author Joshua Harris. 

If you're looking for a straight-forward talk about purity and how it looked for her, read this book.