Friday, September 14, 2018

2018 Book Reviews (Part 2)

Welcome back!

If you missed Part 1 of this series of Book Reviews, you can just keep scrolling after this one or click here!

Everybody Always by Bob Goff


Bob Goff did it again! Everybody Always is an endearing work full of intriguing stories of a life lived without fear or worry but rather with full abandon. Mr. Goff is a remarkable story-teller so you will fly through the pages of this book with your mouth dropped open in awe. The pages are filled with stories and teachings from his life marked with love and inclusion.  Everybody, Always. That is exactly what his life embodies. Pick this book up and if you somehow missed his previous book, Love Does, grab that too! You will laugh, cry, and try to retell his stories because you are so amazed at all they entail.

Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

With a subtitle like "Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Learning to Love the Bible Again," I couldn't help but pick this book up, and I am so glad I did! Rachel digs deep into the idea of the Bible being "Inspired" and the answers she came to as she opened her mind and heart to exploring what scholars mean by that. She re-tells rich Bible stories in her own poetic rendition while mixing in parts of her own journey to discovery of these truths. Rachel is a beautiful writer. Her thoughts are smooth, vulnerable, and easy to read, even on very technical topics like this. I really enjoyed this work. It challenged me, encouraged me, and left me wanting to know the God of the Scriptures more.



A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, MD

I have followed Dr. Brogan's work and research for years but have never actually picked up her book, A Mind of Your Own, until earlier this year. As a Life and Wellness Coach I am often in the position of helping people in their darkest times. Dr. Brogan's research has helped me immensely with this from a medical perspective. A Mind of Your Own is geared toward women who struggle with anxiety and depression and are looking for long term solutions beyond (and including) medication. Dr. Brogan writings are laced with medical research and information but readable for all. She has a personal and vulnerable approach as she tells her own story going from a practicing doctor with a masters in neuroscience from MIT and a MD from Cornell to a new mother struggling to survive postpartum depression. Her science-based, holistic approach helps the reader take a look at everything from blood-sugar to thyroid issues, and explores the link between gut health and the mind. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all! My only wish is that the title was not limited to women because the information inside is for everyone.

Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss

Never did I think I would read a book written on negotiations. I am not a "sales-y" person. I hate feeling like I am asking someone to do something they don't want to do! I had a friend recommend this book and his pitch to me about it was compelling, so I picked it up, and I am better for it. This book opens your eyes to the process of high stakes negotiation and helps you see how, when used for the good of all, common practices of negotiations create better listeners, caring parents, and loving friends. Mr. Voss became the FBI's lead international kidnapping negotiator after spending years as a FBI hostage negotiator. This book is fill with crazy, outrageous stories of using the skill of listening along with the practices he teaches in the book to free and save so many lives. As he teaches each practice, he tells stories of how it has worked and even how it goes wrong. Voss is good about bringing it back to the very practical, everyday reasons to use these skills. This book may not be for everyone but I found it very compelling. I have a feeling will go back to it many times.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Regardless of the recent 'negative' review of this book that has been circulating the interwebs, ladies, I hope you take some time to read this book, or listen to the audio. Rachel Hollis has a tremendous way of opening up the story of her life so that you can find yourself in her victories and her insecurities simply because you are human. I have gifted this book and recommended this book to many and when I do I say, "Rachel and I have so very little in common...and I LOVE THAT! The things she loves and that drive her are so far from mine, but I think if we got to have coffee or chat on the phone we'd be BFFs in no-time!" I say this because, while our lives look starkly different, the thread of common grace, the leading of the Lord in insane paths of life, the risks she tells that she has taken, the love she has for her family and her husband, all resonate deeply with me and with SO MANY women of all walks of life!  Rachel is an inspiration to many and has a heart of inclusion...one of my favorite qualities in humanity. Pick up a copy of this. Enjoy her stories and be encouraged. And if you are not a reader...she has a few different really fun podcasts!

Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger

Jessica Honegger, founder of Noonday Collection, a fair-trade jewelry brand, wrote a wonderful memoir full of stories from all the areas of her life. Each chapter is filled with tells from her inspiring journey. Jessica invites you in to all different parts of her world with vulnerability and class. If every women I know could pick up this book just for the chapter on sisterhood and supporting one another, the world would immediately be a better place! Honegger's stories from her travels abroad to will tug at your heart. You will cry when she tells parts of their adoption story and gasp out loud at her bravery. You will be inspired to love your friends well, broaden your idea of the world and those who fill it, collaborate with others on the things you love, and give yourself grace along the way. Grab yourself a copy and get one for a friend!


Okay friends! That's it for now! Happy Reading!
What have y'all been reading lately?



Monday, September 10, 2018

2018 Book Reviews (Part 1)

It has been way too long since I sat to write book reviews!

Instead of trying to cover all the books I have read since the last 2017 post, I just chose 12 that I have read this year and divided them into two posts of six reviews. As many of you know, I am a life and wellness coach so a good portion of my reading have been in those fields, so I am not going to bore you with all of those titles. I tried to choose ones that stuck out specifically to me and ones I feel would be great recommendations to the friends who still read these reviews. I plan to add a "2018 Book Review Part 3" and maybe even 4 by the end of the year, but we will see!  For now, here are a few to browse.

I hope these are helpful and that you can find some new books to add to your lists!  


This book was an amazing way to start the year! I read this book the first week or so of the year and it set such a great pace for my heart and mind as I approached my spiritual goals for the year.  To be honest, it is hard to be unbiased in my review of this book because Mrs. Taylor is such a life mentor/faith hero of mine. I have looked up to her since my college days and admire her honesty and tenacity. She is an amazing wife and mother (and now grandmother!), which are all things reflected in her writings! Taking The Word to Heart is an incredible handbook on how to memorize scripture in a practical, reasonable, and responsible way. Her approach to memorizing Scripture is deeper than just a daily discipline but rather it is a way to see and hear the heart of God. Grab yourself a copy! 



I was so excited when I found out that Maria Goff had written a book! Many of you know of her husband, Bob Goff, and have been profoundly impacted by his life. I have always wanted to hear what life was like from her side of the story.  This book is packed full of stories of grace, hospitality, real life child-raising, and adventure. Her stories will have you laughing, crying, and leave you wonderfully inspired to love others right where God has you.  "Invite, include, welcome, and celebrate the people around you and you will be doing exactly what Jesus was talking about."



High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard is a world renowned performance coach that has done extensive research on how and why people succeed and do so happily. This book offers up 6 proven habits that help you become a "high performer" in the field of your choice. Brendon is deeply practical, giving you all kinds of take aways and habits to immediately apply to your everyday life. At times you have to do some wading through how awesome he is and how hard he worked to get to this point  kind of  stories, but if you can bare with him through those segments and try to pull out helpful hints within those stories, you will be profoundly impacted. For the most part, his stories are rich with practical advice as he lets you have a sneak peek in to the lives of those he coaches. This book comes with supplemental downloads and videos you can get on his website that are a tremendous resource. 

Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura

Vern and I have followed and been intrigued by the work of Makoto Fujimura for years. I have watched videos, documentaries, heard podcasts, and been fascinated by his art, but never made time to read this book until now. If this is the first you are hearing of Mr. Fujimura, please stop reading this  review and google his name. Watch, listen, and be moved by all you see, you are welcome! In his book, Culture Care, Fujimura unpacks the responsibility we have to feed our culture with beauty, generosity, and creativity and in turn, he contends, we will be feeding our own souls. This book is one to revisit as we wade the waters of current day politics, economy, and society at large.



Parenting by Paul Tripp

I knew going into this book that I would likely disagree, not with the praxis of Tripp's parenting advice, but more with his premise. I was pleasantly surprised that while his premise is much more "reformed" than the stance our family takes, the harshness and sin-centric focus that usually comes out from authors in this camp was not a deeply displayed in this book but rather a gracious, kind tone. I enjoy reading books on all kinds of topics from authors with whom I agree and disagree, and the fun thing to me about this book is that it had both! Paul Tripp is a seasoned parent and has been married for over 45 years. He is full of insight, loaded with experience, and offers this to us in a gracious and freeing way through this work. You will not walk away from this book feeling weighed down by the burdens of raising your children, but you will feel equipped with some practical guidelines as well as freed love your children at each stage while you point them to Christ.

Seeing Is Believing by Gregory Boyd

In this work, Seeing Is Believing, Boyd unpacks for the reader the idea and practice of imaginative prayer. He gently walks you away from the "I have to keep working and trying hard" mentality of spiritual disciplines and towards a restful, healing, and creative approach. Boyd leads the reader in the use of their imagination with the intent to experience Jesus in a real way. He begins the book helping you grasp the use of imagination within prayer for those who are skeptical of it and then takes you through a practical process in which, through prayer, you experience Jesus in a real and meaningful way. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who desire a rich relationship with Jesus. Imaginative prayer opens up the door for deep healing and incredible spiritual growth.

Happy Reading! Stay Tuned for "2018 Book Reviews Part 2"

Friday, October 06, 2017

End of Spring and All of Summer Reads!

Summer is over and Fall is beautifully making its way to the midwest! Here are reviews of the other six books I read over the spring and summer, as promised in my last blog post.  I hope you find some fun reads to add to your Fall reading!  I am about 2 books into my fall books and would love to know what you are reading as I make my choices for fall and winter!!


Brennen Manning is by far my husband’s favorite author and because of that I have read everything I can get my hands on by Manning. His words speak straight to my husband’s soul and so I want to know ALL THE THINGS. This book, however was somehow one I missed. I thought I had read the books, watched the films, all things Brennen, covered, check. I’m going to be honest here and say I would not have read this book had it not been required reading for our HVG staff.  BUT had I not, I would have VERY MUCH MISSED OUT.  We read through this in a space of our life that was crazy busy and not very consistent. So reading this was a challenge becauese I wanted to give it my entire head space but often only opened the book with 1/3 of my brain J. In true Manning fashion, all his writing requires is for you to take a deep breath, open your heart and read. He does all the work with his provocative question asking and prolific stories. I have so much to say about this book, but if you cant find a copy (its not easy to get a hold of sometimes) than pick up anything by Brennen Manning and be challenged and encouraged.

You Are Free by Rabecka Lyons

Rebecka Lyons does it again! You are Free beautifully and vulnerably stories through Lyons quest towards freedom, specifically freedom given to her by God. Her previous book, Free Fall to Fly, stories your battle with anxiety so profoundly and openly that it aided so many to a freedom in that area.  You Are Free opens up the idea of freedom beyond the area of anxiety to all the areas of your life. She speaks to the rat race of feeling like you need to meet every one's expectations and gives you tools to know how to throw off self doubt and condemnation. At the end of each chapter she gives easy to work through questions to help you along the journey.




Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford

Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times Best Seller and blogger, know to many as The Hands Free Mama, wrote this book with a desire to encourage people to put down all the distractions and see the people right in front of them. Stafford gives 9 intentional habits to help you live, love, connect, and dream at a richer level. Hands Free Life is easy to read and full of helpful, practical advice.  Stafford shares stories of how she has applied each of the 9 habits, making it easy to connect with her suggestions.


Braving The Wilderness By Brene Brown

Y'all. Stop reading this right now and click on the link and buy this book! Or run out to the book store and grab it! The message in this book is so important to the cultural climate, especially in America, today. Brene Brown, a research professor in Social Science, urges connectedness and belonging, both to yourself and to others. She shows us the cultural effects of our individualization and the shame responses we have that result in a lack of belonging. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are crucial concepts for us to learn as we navigate this modern world. The chapter titles tell it all :: Chapter 4::  People Are Hard To Hate Up Close. Move In. Chapter 5:: Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.  Chapter 6:: Hold Hands. With Strangers.  Brown encourages us to get to know people who do not think like us and shows the negative cultural implications of surrounding ourselves with only like minded humans. I can not stress enough how helpful and encouraging this work is. I highly recommend you add it to your reading list...soon!

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

If you are looking for a fun book that makes your feel like you are talking to your best friend, this is your jam! Jen Hatmaker is HILARIOUS as always, but in her brilliant way, makes you think hard about the how's and why's of life. This book is full of camaraderie and encouragement. She tells stories that make you laugh until your side hurts and cry the ugly cry. We got the audio of this book to listen to on our long haul across the US because my husband loves listening to and reading Jen's writings just as much as I do. This book guided us into wonderful conversations. Jen helped us look at our life and be tremendously grateful for our friends and loved ones. She helped us have courage for hard things, chuckle at things that were hard that shouldn't have been, and grapple with some cultural issues. ALL IN ONE BOOK. You will love this book. Get it and enjoy it with some friends!



This autobiographical account of Eddie Wadsworth’s life growing up as the child of a broken home, finding herself in situations almost unbearable to hear, is a must read. A fantastic story teller, Wadsworth helps you see into her life growing up in between an acholic father who lived with family in a trailer park and a single mother who was doing her best to get her kids out of the life they had and into a better one.  The author does an fantastic job of taking you along on her upbringing and writes in a way that helps you see and feel the things of her childhood. Her journey to finding God and growing into adulthood will pull you in and by the end you will feel as if you are longtime friends. This resilient child became a tenatious adult who loves the Lord and is trying with all her might to see All The Pretty Things.


-->

Monday, August 21, 2017

Winter and Spring Reads (catching up on reviews!)

This entire post was written in the note section on my phone or on my laptop in the car. 
Crazy. 
I'm sure this is a common practice for some bloggers, but not this one. 
No way.
Typing this post, book by book, on my phone or in between cities on road-trips is just a small representation of how crazy this year has been for us. 
Crazy in the best way!
We relocated, got a new home, new city and so many new & old friends. I've been back and forth to Kenya twice and Uganda once, traveled domestically for HVG & leading worship, finished homeschooling 7th & 4th grade, packed up and headed to Scott River Lodge to serve for the summer. We have loved our summer crew and hate to see the season come to a close! July was the busiest of times for us. A wedding, leading 2 weeks of marriage retreats, Houston Project, Kenya, all while shepherding our SRL Summer Crew.  

CrAy. Fun. But CrAy.

That said 2017 has held some sweet reading but little time to document. I hope these little reviews are helpful and you find some great reads to add to your wish list!


I started 2017 reading this book with a little texting book club. (friends who don't live around each other but want to read the same books! It's fun!) I had already read quite a bit of NT Wright's works but jumped right on in with my friends knowing this book was a compilation of essays he had written on different subjects. If you don't know that ahead of time, you may find this book repetitive so understanding Wright's purpose and that each chapter is "stand alone" really helps the reader engage in each subject. He covers topics that cover a wide array of contemporary subjects and, like he so often does, Wrights brings in literary & sociological history to support Biblical ideas.  This book is a good “group” book as its subjects are ones that don’t have to be read together.  It also makes for a great reference on contemporary topics such as Christian involvement in politics, women in ministry, evolution, Christian's need to be involved in environmental movements, etc.


I can not say enough about this book.  This is a wonderful bedside table book but also a morning encouragement book. You will breeze through these pages as if you were talking to a friend who loved you deeply enough to speak into some of the harder parts of life. Shauna is gracious and kind as she shares from her own experiences of being a friend, a mom, a wife, and an adult child of parents in ministry. I took so many life lessons from this book as if I was learning from a mentor just a few years ahead of me in life (although I think I’m probably older than her! ha!).  I recommend this book to anyone in the daily grind of life who needs to relinquish some anxiety over being perfect. I actually put off reading this book because the title made me think I probably need the opposite book, HA! (I struggle with being too present that ALL THE THINGS get dropped! Eeee!) But boy am I glad I picked it up!  I needed it more than I ever could have known. 

The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus


I wanted to start this review by saying, “this one is for the artists in your life.”  But that would have been a gross understatement.  In this book Erwin McManus outlines for us, with great passion, in true McManus form, the Biblical ideas of artistry.  He pleads with the reader to find the artist inside of you. He contends that we are all created in the image of God, the true & purest artist, so deep within all of us, we have the desire to create. Art takes on so many forms and in this book Erwin allows you the freedom to search your soul for creativity.  While this book breathes life into all the “creatives” out there, I believe this book could make a huge impact lives from all spheres of society.



I have been deeply impacted by the ministry of She Reads Truth, so when I heard the co-founders wrote a book together, I was in the pre-order line!  Staying true to there heart to get Scriptures into the hands and hearts of women (and now men!) around the world, this book is full of Truth.  The authors take turns chapter by chapter telling stories from their lives, testifying to the reader of how God was near to them in good times and bad and that the Word of God is alive and active and helpful for encouragement and correction. This book was like a drink of water, refreshment to the soul.  Filled full with Scripture, you will be so deeply encouraged by this book and the testimonies in it.




This is one of those books that by watching friend after friend be deeply impacted by it, I decided to pick it up. I have read all of Jennie Allen’s previous books and have really enjoyed and recommend each one. Nothing to Prove sits right up there with all of the others! This book is fitted with wonderful questions at the end of each chapter that don’t let you move on from the thoughts you just read. Jennie stops you in your tracks and helps aid true change in your heart and mind, reminding you that you are loved by God and you can be you. I recommend this book for book clubs, bible study-like small groups and the like. Her questions and insights are worth discussing and have the potential to be life giving and life changing. 


What an incredible book! Vernon read this to our family out loud each morning to begin our day.  I had read parts of it before but going through it all together as a family was a delight.  This book takes the entire story of Scripture and puts it in a beautiful narrative as if you were sitting around a campfire among exiled Israel. This book brings clarity to the story of the Bible to all ages. We recommend it to all people. It is helpful to those who grew up hearing all of the stories but are unsure how it all fits, as well as it is helpful to those who have never heard the good news of Scripture. And boy is it beautifully written, easy to read and even easier to listen to.



Happy Reading, y'all! 
Thanks for stopping by!