Reading: 2016 Books

I’ve wanted to do this for years and finally I feel like I’ve gotten into the habit of at the very least entering into Goodreads what I’m reading (you can see my updated shelf over on the right sidebar). I’m horrible with reviewing books after I read them, but maybe that’s a goal for 2017! I did mark the books that I especially loved with **

So, here’s the list of books I read in 2016 broken down into 3 categories.

My new mid-mod bookshelf


The Dust That Fall from Dreams by L. de Bernieres
A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by J. Winspear
The Edge of Dreams (Molly Murphy Mysteries #14) by R. Bowen
Traitor’s Gate by C. Newton
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by A. Bradley
The Word Exchange by A. Graedon
The Passage by J. Cronin
Saving Wonder by M. Knight
City of Dreams by B. Swerling
Angle of Repose by W. Stegner **
Death of a Nurse (Hamish Macbeth) by MC Beaton
The Bronte Plot by K. Reay
Treachery at Lancaster Gage (#31) by A. Perry
Birdsong by S. Faulks
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. Tiffany
The Time Traveler’s Wife by A. Niffenegger
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by C. Cleave **
Before We Visit the Goddess by C.B. Divakaruni
Katherin of Aragon: The True Queen by A. Weir

A glimpse into our morning basket this Fall.

Young Adult/Children/Homeschool
Little House on the Prairie #2 by L.I. Wilder
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by A. Peterson **
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
North or Be Eaten by A. Peterson **
The Stout Hearted Seven: Orphaned on the Oregon Trail by N. L. Frazier
The Monster in the Hollows by A. Peterson **
The Warden and the Wolf King by A. Peterson **
The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis
The Adventures of Robin Hood by RL Green
Adam of the Road by E G Vining
The Door in the Wall by M. de Angeli
The Same Stuff as Stars by K. Paterson

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by E. Welch
Longing for More: A Woman’s Path to Transformation in Christ by R. H. Barton
Families Where Grace is in Place by J. VanVonderen
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by J. Worth **
Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by A. Doerr **
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by E. Peterson
Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by B. Johnson
Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change by M. Chandler
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by A. Lamott **
The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by S. Clarkson


Started, but abandoned.
The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross Greene
Raising Girls with ADHD: Secrets for Parenting Healthy, Happy Daughters by J. Forgan
Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop and Sustain a Successful Creative Business by K. Chapin
Lord of the Flies by W. Golding (to be fair I read this in high school cover to cover, but I didn’t make it through the re-read)
After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters by NT Wright

Currently Reading
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by P. Miller
Emma by J. Austen
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance
A Wrinkle in Time by M. L’Engle
A Christmas Carol by C. Dickens
The Expatriates by J. Lee


Continue Reading

book review {soul talk}






I am reading through a host of chosen books by a group of women (most of whom are strangers to me, which makes it all the more interesting) all regarding discipleship and mentoring others.

It’s odd to read books about discipleship and mentoring because I am still often in that mindset that I’m the one that desperately needs to BE discipled and BE mentored…not the other way around. That’s why this book is so good for me.

Soultalk is by Larry Crabb and honestly I’m still processing through the first few chapters even though I just finished the book. It’s one of those books that makes total sense, but when you think about the practice of it in your daily life you think it’s impossible. But that’s really what the essence of this book is about. It is about living relationally with others without always striving for an answer. It’s about not just jumping in with a solution to their problem, or worries, or concerns. But really just listening to them and then listening to the Spirit that is within us. And ultimately it’s about striving for our first thing: to be in the Spirit and knowing God better and knowing that all the second things: such as the redemption of a failing marriage might occur. In us striving to know God better in our lives, when we are listening to our friends and neighbors share their hurts and worries, we are longing for nothing more than for them to know God better too.

All of that sounds so trite when written in a paragraph. “Know God better and your life will all fall into place.” That is so not true. But knowing and communing more in step with the Spirit leads us to a place where when our world is still falling apart, we know we are going to be ok.

If this book does anything for me, it encourages me to just be with others. To stop talking. To stop figuring out when I can share my struggles, but to just listen. I’m a horrible listener. I’m always five steps ahead of the conversation and have a horrible habit of interrupting. My friends all show me such grace in that area. And this book also encourages me that I have the power within me to speak grace to my friends, when I stop and listen and “think beneath.”

Crabb gives five areas of response when we hear from others about things going on in their lives:

THINK BENEATH: Don’t speak too quickly. Ask yourself, is this person more aware of his/her desire for blessings or desire for God? Is this a battle of religion (if I get it right, life will go reasonably well) or true Christianity (which is an utter and complete dependence on God…for everything)

THINK VISION: reflect on how this person would be talking about their life if they wanted God more than blessings. (looking for and receiving blessings so often can be the ruling factor in our walk with Christ…they are merely a second thing)

THINK PASSION: how are you (how am I) right now self obsessed as I’m listening to this friend? Feel it, confess it to God and let brokenness put you in touch with your true desire to love this person. (how am I looking for a way to impress this friend with my “wisdom” versus impacting them with God?) I can’t speak life into another person (fully) until I’ve seen my brokenness. Then the Life can flow freely out of me.

THINK STORY: Listen for the hidden story of fear and shame and to hear shaping events that directed this person away from God in order to find life. Don’t try to give advice and “fix it”, but just listen.

THINK MOVEMENT: Pay attention to any movement toward brokenness. Put words to repentance, encourage specific acts of trust, share your confidence in God and celebrate release of the person’s true self. When I speak, let it be words flowing out of my own brokenness…words flowing from the River of Life within me.


Overall this is a great book. It is a transforming book that honestly I probably need to reread every couple of months, or at the very least go back over my journal and highlights. I pray it leads me to a place of brokenness where I can speak less and listen more to those the Lord puts around me.

Continue Reading

on the tip of my brain

Do you ever feel when reading, be it scripture or some sort of book, that the Lord is just sitting right there on the tip of your brain? This great epiphany or understanding is just.right.there. but you can’t seem to reach it? This is where I am. I feel like I’m in this raging battle between the Lord really teaching me this great lesson and my sinfulness pushing Him out of the way. The distractions of my mind whirling so much that I can’t focus enough to get it.

I’m reading Soul Talk by Larry Crabb with a group of women. It’s been a very, very different sort of book for me and honestly at first was difficult to understand. What he writes about is so counter to the way we naturally relate, even when we’ve been Believers for a long time, that I have to stop every few paragraphs and get my bearings.

By far the most awakening chapter for me has been on thinking vision and moving toward brokenness. Crabb writes:

As long as we aim toward a vision we think we can reach, God lets us try. And sometimes we do pull it off…we feel proud and call it gratitude. If it doesn’t, we feel defeated and wonder why God didn’t bless us. But when we aim so high we are forced to face how inadequate our adequacies are, we realize our need for spiritual power.

But what He also writes about in the book is that as Believers, we get so caught up in the thought that if we are doing what God has declared He will always bless us. But the problem is we think materially or in ease of life. And that’s not true. That’s what’s been so hard for me to think about. He will by all means provide for me. He will supply my needs. He has promised that. And He has promised His love for me…an amazing and passionate love.
That is the blessing. The greater reward is obviously beyond this Earth.
I get so caught up in thinking that when my life is hard. When I am struggling to make ends meet that He is going to automatically fill up my bank account and “bless” me.
But really, the blessing is that I wake up every morning, loved no less by my Creator and promised to be given manna every day. As Crabb says: As long as my vision is within my reach, I am merely using God – not abandoning myself to Him. My blessings come from pure and utter abandonment to Him.

The question to ask myself is where I am quenching the Spirit. What are the many areas of my life that I am trying to make work without desperate dependence on Him? That is a crazy scary question. It addresses areas of control and areas of brokenness that I don’t want to enter. It brings me to a place where I have to admit my weakness and my fear and give them over to Him. But His power doesn’t fully come forward in us as long as there is so much us in us.

Children of God – and everyone else – think nobody loves them enough for them to let go of control. Gently the Spirit detaches us from everything we’ve turned to for life and invites us to admit how weary and pressured we feel…then we move from brokenness to power; feeling ourselves being centered in Christ, no longer in ourselves.

And therein lies my greatest struggle. I don’t believe that God loves me enough. I don’t believe that He is going to be there when I jump. It’s like my little girl jumping into the pool. She can either fully trust that her daddy is going to catch her and stand up on the side and jump in with full abandonment and trust. Or she can bend her knees, squat down, hang on to the side and just sort of fall into His arms because she is scared he isn’t going to be there.

I want to jump off the highest dive, with full abandonment into His loving arms.
It is only then that His Spirit can move in me in such a way that I can tell my story and truly be with others in their mess.

Continue Reading

a bookish post

I’ve got my eyes in many different books of late, so I thought I would take the time to share what I’ve been reading.

Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember and More by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

I actually found this book at our local library and was immediately taken by the title. I didn’t realize until later that it’s published by Intervarsity Press (or rather a branch of IVP) and that made me really stop and dig in. The book is broken down into all the different invitations that we receive from God. It’s a book that can easily be read cover to cover or one that you could skip around and read the invitation that you feel most pressing on you. I’ve read three chapters so far (and not in order) and I love it. One thing I do love are the questions that Ms. Calhoun asks. But instead of them being all listed at the end of the chapter, they are scattered throughout the chapter, causing you really to stop and reflect on what you are reading.


Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

I’ve had this book since high school and made it about three-quarters of the way through it during high school and early college. Richard Foster was one of the first authors I really fell in love with as a young believer. He writes with such honesty, clarity and gives you such insight into ancient writers, even if you haven’t read any of them. He makes you want to go look up Thomas a’Kempis or Madame Guyone and really study them. That said, this a great book on all different types of prayer. I really wanted to go slowly through this book, so I only read a chapter on Thursdays. My intention was to read a chapter and then take the next week to really pray the kind of prayer that he had written about.  This is really a book you could just read over and over again without stopping and get something new out of each chapter. There are a lot of great books on prayer and this one is a classic.


Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David and Kelli Pritchard

I’ve been recommended this book by gobs of people and even read many reviews online too. I finally broke down and bought it and I am so glad I did. I am about half way through and honestly this book is more about parenting your children up more than giving you a list of dos and don’ts to make it through the maze of public school. It’s about parenting to your child’s heart so that the expectations you have at home easily transfer to school. I love most that they declare that even though they send their kids to public school to be educated by others, they are still homeschoolers. They still foster a love of learning in their home. The only distinction that is made between home and school is that the learning is taking place in two different places…but it’s still taking place in both places. It’s a natural sort of thing. I highly recommend this book to anyone weaving with maze of schooling options.


Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children by John Younts

This is the one parenting book I wish I would have found eight years ago when my son was born. My husband and I are forging a new trail in raising our children up in a believing home and this book is superb. It’s a small little book, easy to read and very practical. Younts encourages us that our children learn more about the Lord through our everyday conversations and responses to things than they do when we sit down for a “formal” devotions or teaching. It’s about walking outside and declaring the glory of God or in the midst of frustration clinging and voicing His promises to us. I love it. It also has questions at the end of each chapter that ask you to reflect on your current parenting conversations etc.

Continue Reading