16 Books I read in 2016

I’m getting a little audacious to make this an annual thing, but maybe that’s because that’s the title of the very first book I read this year.

(P.S. You can purchase the book by clicking the photo!)

1.) Audacious by Beth Moore

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Read my review of Audacious here.

2.) I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

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I am all about some girl power.  And while many believe gender inequality has been provided to all, there are still so many girls who need to be empowered.  Girls who have believed in themselves because one girl did, named Malala.  Malala’s story is eye-opening, touching, and moving.  Yes, I’m a little behind on this book trend, but I would give this book to any girl 10 and up for them to know what a privilege it is to be educated and what some girls go through just to learn.

3.) Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler

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Read my review of one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while here.

4.)  Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

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Behind on the book trends again, I know.  I grew up in a world where the word “feminism” was overwhelmingly hushed.  I was a little fearful of finding this book to be an angry feminist ranting about the Church and faith I love, but I absolutely loved this book.
Sarah Bessey shares of story of growing up in a gender neutral world, then navigating moving to the States and being placed under societal norms of the roles of men and women in the Church.  Read it and let me know what you think.

5.) The Sabbath by Abraham Heschel

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This is anything but a light read.  A Rabbi shares traditions and stories passed down within his family, along with principles within Jewish tradition that paint the picture of the deep value of the Sabbath.

6.) Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs

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Read my review of Looking for Lovely here.  Also, this summer I was invited by Annie to come attend a weekend in Nashville, TN walking through all of her important places from this book.  Annie is forever throwing a party for Jesus and it was a joy to be a part of.

7.) A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

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This was the first and one of the only books I could read following losing my Dad suddenly.  C. S. Lewis shares his very real and raw thoughts and wrestlings following having lost his wife to cancer. It put words to a lot of the depths I was feeling and if you have ever grieved anyone, read it.

8.)  A Heart Like His by Beth Moore

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This is a Beth Moore Bible Study on the life of David.  I loved how she brought David’s life to light and made it so real and relatable.  It can be done as a daily Bible Study as the chapters are around 4 or 5 chapters, but I got sucked in and just didn’t really want to sit it down as Beth made David feel like my best friend, she just made him so real.  I’ve since bought it for multiple friends.

9.)  Life Together in Christ by Ruth Haley Barton

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I am a big Ruth Haley Barton fan.  In this book, she highlights the value of Biblical Community using the story of Jesus’ appearances on the Emmaus Road. She wrote so many truths from this passage I hadn’t thought of before and made beautiful connections between this account in the gospels and the modern Christian life.  This is a great resource on the value of other believers in the Christian life.

10.) Conversion & Discipleship by Bill Hull

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This was required reading for a seminary class this fall, but I really loved it.  Bill Hull explained so well that walking with believers does not end once they come to know Christ, but that is only the beginning, highlighting both parts of the Great Commission.  Great read!

11.) Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger and Michael Kelley

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This book was similarly a book for a seminary class, but I enjoyed its very practical principles of discipleship presented.  The authors focused on how growth takes place in the life of a believer through various stories of individuals’ transformation.  Also a good read!

12.) Teenage Girls by Ginny Olson

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While we’re on the topic of seminary books, I absolutely loved this one.  While it is a little dated, the modern psychological research included sets this book far above many I have read on ministering to teenage girls.  It did a great job of discerning what ministers should encourage parents to reinforce in each stage and issue of teenage girls’ development and what is important for the minister to recognize.  I would say this is a must read for anyone who works with teenage girls!

13.) Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

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This book put words to transformation in my life I had just experienced or was currently undergoing.  I immediately felt like I could better explain myself through beautiful metaphors and stories used in this book.  I have continued to reference it since I’ve read it and bought it for multiple friends.  This book is all about showing up even when you’re imperfect and I think we all need to do so much more of it.

14.) Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

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I listened to this book on Audible, which I would highly recommend.  Lauren Graham shares her story of how she so deeply identified with the character of Lorelai Gilmore in my favorite TV Show Gilmore Girls.  She watched every season and talked about what was going on in her life.  She shared a little about Parenthood and the shared more about the Revival with interesting details and beautiful stories in between.  Y’all these are my shows and I loved this.

15.) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

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I mean, just read this.

16.) Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller

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This was a good read for this Christmas, as Tim Keller highlighted many of the not so romantic details about the story of the night in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  He beautifully wove a good deal of Old Testament anecdotes and details and did a great job of bringing the story to life while shedding a great deal of new light on typically overlooked pieces of the story.


So those are my reads from this year.  Comment below with yours!  Also, click FOLLOW in the left column for book reviews hot of the presses.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Review of Cherish: Cultivating Relationships with Parents, Friends, Guys, And More

cherishCherish: Cultivating Relationships with Parents, Friends, Guys, And More by Vicki Courtney

In case you don’t read any further, let me go ahead and say that if you work with  or are raising girls, specifically teenage girls, this is a book to have on your shelf.

The week before this book made it to me, I was approached by a mom on how to handle a situation with a girl she knew that was sending inappropriate photos to a boy.  After our conversation, she asked if there was any good resource to share and I was at a loss.

What book is even up to date enough, I thought, to be able to talk about the expectation girls feel to send photos, better yet all of the other pressures they face?

And the very night I received this book I was planning to talk to my girls about relationships with parents, but again was at a loss as to what a good resource would be to be able to share with them.

Needless to say, Cherish met me exactly where I needed it to, and if you work with girls, I’m sure it can meet you in the same way.  Also, if you are a middle school or high school girl, go ahead and click that picture above and press purchase.


 

Cherish reads a good bit like Seventeen Magazine to me.  It’s full of quizzes, “5 Ways to Know if…”, and other fun articles.  Within the topics of Parents, Friends, Guys, and God, Vicki provides a variety of short little articles and snippets that are quick to read, insightful, and hit on a wide variety of topics all geared toward about a 7-9th grade reading level.


I     L O V E: 

  • This book hits on a wide variety of topics.
    Specifically within the context of families, Pam Gibbs provides some great insights on and advice for living in a family with non-believing parents, growing up in a blended family, an unsafe home environment, etc.  I love seeing a resource that approaches families with some intersectionality.
  • The boys chapter isn’t all about your husband.
    Few things bother me more than a resource emphasizing the value of purity that solely focus on the effect your present purity will have on your future husband.  Instead, Cherish talks about the risk of STDs along with the very present ramifications of sexual impurity, while taking a beautifully redemptive approach to such a difficult issue.
  • It’s up to date.
    Let me tell you as a small group leader to 16 year olds, if your book talks about life and doesn’t talk about Instagram, it truly hasn’t talked about anything.
  • It shares some hard truths about friends.
    I think teenage girl-hood is such an important time to recognize and practice what healthy friendships are.  Articles included touch on some hard truths of friendship- even when it’s time to let go of one.
  • It takes on the uncharted territory of teenage hormones.
    From mood swings to shame and everything in between, articles included touch on putting words to the craziness of a teenage girl’s brain hormone wise and even how to interact with parents about it!

 

I     D O N ‘ T     L O V E:

  • QR codes.
    Some videos can be found  online as a supplemental resource to Cherish, but they are linked through QR codes in the book.  I personally hate QR codes, because I never have enough memory on my phone to download a QR scanning app.

“I’m coming with you.”

In studying psychology, I’ve been learning about people for a while now.  People never cease to fascinate me.  Everyone’s personalities, expressions, routines, and thoughts are all so different.  Everyone wants to be loved in a different way, needs to be affirmed in a different way, needs to be challenged in a different way.  The way that our Creator has fashioned us is nothing short of elaborate, complex, and beautiful.

And in studying psychology, I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with people.  I sat in a counseling class where we practiced interacting with one another as a counselor would.  This felt awkward and weird, but it has been so foundational for me.


So I downloaded Audible, which you should totally get.  It’s this app made by Amazon where you can purchase recordings of books that have the actual author reading them.  If you’re someone who finds yourself on the highway a lot, like me, it’s a great find.

I’ve had Bob Goff’s Love Does on my bookshelf and feel terrible to say that I just have not had time to read it.  So despite the fact that I had already bought it, I decided to buy it again via Audible and I very quickly found myself wrapped up in this story.

Bob was a high schooler who was ready to get out of town.  He didn’t really love school and dreamed of going to Yosemite, working at a small café and seeking new adventures.  There was a guy that had been at his high school a good bit who was a part of YoungLife, named Randy.  He thought Randy was cool because he had a beard and a motor cycle so they became friends.  When Bob decided to spontaneously go to Yosemite, he went to tell Randy goodbye.  He said that Randy listened to him and said, “Hold on one second, Bob” and ran back inside.  A few minutes later, Randy came out with a book bag and sleeping bag and said, “Hey, I’m coming with you.  Can I catch a ride?”

So Randy went.

I was waiting for the moment in the car when Randy tried to talk Bob out of this.  I was waiting for Bob to share that only after about 20 minutes they turned around and came back.  But that is not how this story went.

Randy stayed with Bob for days.  As Bob was turned down for job after job, Randy just affirmed him that those places didn’t know what they were missing.  When Bob reached his wit’s end, they headed back home.


I found myself speechless as I heard this story and so challenged.

Recently, a friend and mentor who has been through way too much grief in the past year shared to a group of bloggers I am a part of, that it is so important for us to “Go with” people, not to just “stamp truth” on something they are wrestling with, but to go with them into their pain, fear, grief, etc. and love them there.

And I think that we as a culture are afraid of imperfection.  We only know how to be strong and okay and are afraid of those emotions of our own, better yet someone else’s.  But, how much can we serve by going with our friends, neighbors, coworkers, community, etc. into their pain, fear, grief, guilt, sorry, regret, by telling them those feelings are okay.  What if as the Body of Christ were not afraid of these feelings or of moments of imperfections? What if we could walk with people into the darkness so that they can eventually see authentic light?

I think we can all attest to a time when someone tried to tell us something they felt was truth we needed to hear, but in our spirits it was the very last thing we wanted in that moment.

In fact, I had a whole blog written on how to not love people in that way, but I think it is so much more important to talk about how TO love people in this way.

And I think that there is truth to be spoken, but that truth is planted on the most cultivated soil once you have entered their struggle with them, not when it is first being shared.  For even in the process of planting a seed, you have to first till the soil.

This morning, in my Sunday school class we were discussing a passage in 2nd Samuel, when David wants to build the Lord a house. What God tells David is that He chose to live in a tent on purpose.  He didn’t want to be removed from His people and separated from the difficulty of their journey.  He wanted to be in the trenches of their fight against the Philistines.  God even wants to go with us.


May we not fear grief, pain, hurt, sorrow, or regret.  May we press into the victory that is already ours on the other side of those feelings.  But may we not neglect the journey from this side of those feelings to the joyful promised land awaiting.