2020 Books

At the beginning of the year I found out I was pregnant. This news sparked in me a whole lot of “there’s so much to do!” One of the things I’m glad my freak out lead to was to learn to read again. I set a goal to read a book a month. At first I think I went too fast… But overall, I’m so glad I’ve gotten into this habit of reading. It’s so crazy what one chapter a day can do for your mind (or one a week!!) And it’s INSANE how much time you can save by plugging your phone in the other room, walking away, and choosing to focus in on a book. I’ve chosen to document the good reads here so I can honestly brag about my accomplishment… But also to let y’all know what I think is worth it! (Spoiler alert: every book I’ve ready is 10/10!) 

Praying with Paul by DA Carson

I started this one January 1st because my beloved Darlene gave it to me for Christmas! So, you know it’s gonna be good. It was. It was definitely the first Carson book I could finish and get something from it. I struggle with prayer the older I get. I get busier. I forget. I grow MORE selfish!! How is that possible?! Yet, this book – instead of lessons on prayer and teaching you how and all the nifty ways to spice up your sex life — ER I MEAN PRAYER LIFE! (But aren’t a lot of prayer books like that?! lol.) Instead of that, Carson really wonderfully outlines Paul’s prayers! And lemme tell you, a spiritual book that begins with a chunk of scripture each chapter is something I can get behind! Use the Word, please! Thank you, Carson. (Beware: he’s Calvinist for sure. Also, very dense! But the theology is one of my favorites. It reminded me it’s all about God and when we look at who he is first, our prayer life changes tons.) 


Unleashed by Samuel Stephens 

Of COURSE I have to plug this! It’s by Rev. Samuel Stephens – only the most awesome church planter this century has seen! (OK, I’m biased. I work for India Gospel League – which he began.) But, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book. It’s sings in perfect harmony with Acts/the first century church and is really a guide on how churches today can be more like the church in Acts! It’s refreshing, challenging and makes me excited to do ministry in all out dependence on following the adventure the Holy Spirit has set! I think all Freedom Fellowship folks will enjoy it and will be rejuvenated to hear that other people in the world like to “do church” our way! (Which is really relationally!) 

Can Science Explain Everything? by John Lennox

Lennox has a special place in my heart since that one time he spoke at XSI and used the last part of his teaching to speak directly to the young people in the room. I can’t tell you how much, as a young person struggling with my faith, that meant. Everything he says is somehow revolutionary and soaking in humility. You can’t help but love the guy! He’s got a great sense of humor, too. The book really reads like one of his talks – a conversation. I picked this one because it was short and I suck at apologetics. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t so much an apologetics books, but an argument for why science & the Bible can work. He walked you through the WHY – why it’s possible there is a God and science, why scientists words aren’t truth, why you should think through big questions in life. It’s good. So good, I got it for one of my high school buddies. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to start discussing with my younger friends. I wish I did more pondering like this earlier on. Definitely worth the read in light of the cultural pressures around us! 

So the Next Generation Will Know by J Warner Wallace & Sean McDowell 

I feel like everyone is talking about this one lately… But with good reason! It’s a great resource for anyone working with youth or is a youth themselves or have birthed youths. For one thing I strongly respect in this book is their prioritization of how important it is we win the youth. Too many christian churches don’t do that. It’s sad. I think it’s because it’s frustrating – the new generations are really a whole new breed. And it DOES take WORK, but a labor of love. I wish everyone to read it and to get their hearts set on fire for this next generation. I honestly feel so badly for them with everything they’re up against. The future seems bleak, but these guys did a lot of great work with how to fight for them! (Spoiler: DISCIPLESHIP is everywhere in the solutions chapters!!) 

Blessed are the Misfits by Brant Hansen 

ANOTHER great one everyone seems to be reading. Which is fantastic. Everyone should read this book. It’s such a beautiful perspective on how every person’s walk with Jesus is unique. It was encouraging for myself as a reminder not to compare my walk with others, and a great encouragement for many people in my life who are very much not me and very much don’t fit the Freedom Fellowship “mold” of how you walk. Overall, it’s a great book that expands on the truth that God “meets us where we’re at.” Hansen lays out grace so well and critiques christian culture so entertainingly. I hope we can make this a staple and that I can learn to see people through Jesus’ eyes and help them learn grace as much as he’s shown it to me. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

OPE not a spiritual book! Nope, this was one fun one and the one I read in 3 days. LOL. It was just good. The drama, the mystery, the romance… I would recommend this to anyone! But I get that it’s not for everyone. 🙂 

Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

ANOTHA ONE! Yup, he kinda won me with that first one. And this one was ALSO very good. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but lemme tell you – I felt REBUKED. It was a lot to think about. The premise is that we’re selfish and get angry at others for selfish reasons. But, we don’t have the right to get angry/annoyed/offended when we’re such sinners ourselves! Overall, it was really humbling. I was really thankful to read it when I did- about to go into a hard situation with hard to love people. And choosing not to be offended or angry beforehand changed the outcome of those events. I think I’ll need to read this one every couple of years given my self-righteous anger tendencies… (It would pair really nicely with an old classic, “Humility” by Andrew Murray.) 

What’s next? Currently reading: 

  • The Truth About Us by Brant Hansen
  • The Man in White by Johnny Cash

After that:

  • Christian Parenting by Dennis McCallum
  • & open for recommendations!!

Bucket List before Baby…

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I started having those thoughts: there’s so much I haven’t accomplished yet that I want to do! Dramatic, as per usual, and irrational. Of course I’ll have a life after babies. Since those initial talks, as I’ve talked to parents and reflected on what parenthood means, I’m actually getting more convinced that this is moreso where life actually begins rather than what I thought life was before. I am looking forward to it. 

Yet, to some extent, I know those thoughts remain because life will be different. And the main difference I started worrying about was this: time. There were so many things I wanted to fill my time with that I hadn’t yet.

But why? And what kinds of things? Why?: Because I am straight up lazy. The things I want to accomplish are completely within reach. It’s just that, I didn’t exercise the self discipline to make them happen before baby comes. And now that it’s coming… It’s time. 

So, the 2 main priorities I’ve found myself coming back to are as follows: 2) getting organized/clean/becoming a real adult. (My old roomies can attest: I’m not the most organized person. My physical belongings are often a great picture of what my thought life/emotional patterns are in that season. It’s rough. Gotta get that straightened out in order to keep this kid alive – as I’ve learned with multiple hospital bills being covered & quickly forgotten, then found months later… time to grow up.)
1) I want to read. I’ve always loved reading — as an escape. It’s been a hobby of mine since I was young, but I tend to read my favorites over & over because I like them. So, this is different: I want to grow. I want to take advantage of the insane amount of resources that are available to me! I want to exercise my mind instead of wasting away behind my phone. I want to be a good steward, become a better wife, friend, servant, Christ follower, evangelist, leader, mother and start by opening up the piles of books I have around me. 

So, with that, I decided to start reading – real, good books that will help. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read when baby comes. Someone told me that you’ll have more time when they get older and you can take them to the playground and read a book as they run. But, babies – I’ve seen the constant attention they need! My bff mamas are so great and sacrificial, but they don’t have much time to sit back, read, sip coffee & reflect. (Audio books, though, I hear are life savers.) 

Then, my insanely smart & disciplined brother told me he has planned out what he’s reading THIS YEAR. I think ~20 books! For someone who has a newborn, works full time, does ministry basically full time – I thought: no way! So, I probably won’t do 20, but I think at least for me a book of month is reasonable. And challenging. And I need a challenge or else, frankly, my dears, I won’t give a damn. 

ANYWAY – why am I publishing this to my blog??? 2 reasons: 

  1. I’ve started this challenge already and have gotten through 3 books. AND IT IS HECKING AWESOME!! I am kicking myself in the butt for NOT doing this when I had more time! (Yes, you do have more time, even in college. I know, I know – you hate hearing it, but that’s just the truth.) WHY didn’t I do this before?? A chapter a day isn’t unachievable! My mind feels fully engaged! It literally feels like in Limitless when you have full brain access – so cool. SUCH a difference to spending ALL my free time zoning out behind my phone/my Netflix. (Trust me, I still do that plenty… But it’s really made me realize how much time I was giving those things. And how much they dont need.) 
    1. TLDR: I feel invigorated spiritually. I have more to talk about with God. I have more to think about my own faith, others, the future, the Bible. I’m learning so much of good, spiritual, sound information… all in small pages. 
    2. (I swear these are my words & not my English teaching husband who has to persuade people that books aren’t your enemy every day of his life… He has to do that for me, too. PTL.) 
  2. ACCOUNTABILITY! Yup, if I fail, then I want to do it publicly. (Not that many people are going to read this.) ((If anything, future me will read this past blog and feel the mix of shame/inspiration to begin again.)) But seriously, I want to stick with this as long as I can. This is NOT a waste of time! And I want to make it a habit that even after baby I will come back to. 
  3. surprise, 3 reasons: I want other people to do it, too. Honestly. I feel already I’ve wasted so many years not accessing incredible amounts of information around me. My heart breaks when my younger sisters say, “I hate reading.” I understand, it’s hard, it’s boring, it takes thoughtful energy (sometimes emotional energy), self-discipling. But, there’s so much we are missing. 

Anyway, that’s A LOT for a simple point: I’m trying to read more this year & so far, it is awesome. 

Thanks for coming to my TED talk. 

(Adding the tag: Good Reads to this post & to futures for reviews of books I might publish… If they’re good enough/I have the understanding to do so.)