I woke up this morning not really understanding how it's already half-way through February, but here we are. Maybe part of the reason it's gone so quickly because my last few months have been consumed with reading - I got through 6 books in January alone - and so I thought it would be a great time to write my second installment of Recent Reads (you can read vol. 1 here). Alright, let's dive in...
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Confession: I first began reading this years ago, but never finished... not because the content wasn't great, but because Ann's writing style is not my favorite. She is very poetic with her words, or, maybe better put, "a little too touchy-feely" for my taste. But if you can get past that, it really is a great book with an awesome central message: that giving thanks in everything - no matter your circumstances - will lead to true joy and the abundant life that God wants to give you. I even began my own "eucharisteo" list while reading and find myself adding something to it almost every day.
Start by Jon Acuff
While I have been mostly content in my job for the last two years, I've felt a little restless for the last few months, so I finally decided to read this book (published by the company I work for) while I was interviewing for a new role in January (which I have now transitioned into)! This is a good book to read if you, too, find yourself feeling restless, have a new dream or business idea you want to explore, or think you are ready to change careers entirely. Also, the subtitle reads, "Punch fear in the face. Escape Average. Do Work that Matters," so that's fun.
The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas
After a group of friends and I found ourselves knee-deep in conversations about boys, relationships (or lack thereof), and marriage, one recommended that we should all read this book. In it, Gary Thomas addresses that there is a difference between a "soul mate" and a "sole mate" (someone who will walk with you you on your spiritual journey), and stresses the importance of knowing the "why" you want to marry before you deal with the "who." I loved most of what he shared, but also disagreed with some of his opinions. Overall an informative read if your single or dating... and if you're engaged or married, you might want to check out Sacred Marriage.
Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot
Well anyone who has been around here for a bit knows I am a huge E.E. fan, so she really can't do wrong by me, and this book was no exception. Essentially, it is a collection of pieces that she wrote for her newsletter over many years that addresses many subjects, such as the unknowns of faith, the thanksgiving, waiting, discerning God's call, submission, singleness and marriage, cultural controversies, and the Christian home. If you pick up this one (do it!), expect lots of nuggets of wisdom, as per her usual.
Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker
I heard Heidi speak at a conference in August after reading her book Compelled by Love, and whatever you may think of the more charismatic side of faith, this woman just really loves Jesus and allows Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do in and through her life. Weaving stories from her life and ministry in Mozambique with the story of Mary's pregnancy with Jesus, Heidi reminds readers to keep their eyes on Jesus every day, pray for His love to fill and overflow, trust Him in all circumstances, and watch what He might do in their lives and the lives of those around them. It's good, guys.
Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber
I picked up this book after falling in love with another one of her books (listed below), and it didn't disappoint. With a similar thread as Voskamp's Gifts, Carolyn brings readers into her life, sharing her personal seasons of struggle and exhaustion, in which she was nonetheless able to find still, sacred moments to recognize and reflect on God's grace. Her writing is beautiful and I enjoyed slowly savoring this book.
Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper
Written by the wife of John Piper, this book is a real gem full of challenge and encouragement. Noel shares the stories of women through history, from pastor's wives to missionaries, who exhibited true faith. While these five women - Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Roseveare - led different lives in different times, and this book helps to detail their struggles and triumphs as they lived out their specific callings and also encourage women today as they, too, seek God. (P.S. I found myself most closely relating with Lilias and Helen's stories).
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
Oh guys, this book made my heart flutter and filled my head with so many dreams of living in Europe. The premise is this: Janice basically hated her job, and decided she was going to do whatever she needed to do so she could quit her job and move abroad for an extended time - which she did, and she chose Paris. If you pick this one up, you can look forward to following along in her adventure of leaving her life in LA, taking up residence in France, falling in love, and making her dreams a reality. Definitely not a "Christian book," but such a good read nonetheless. Caution: this book will make you want to sell everything you own and move like she did. You have been warned.
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
Hands down, this easily became one of my favorite books ever. It had been recommended to me many time by different friends, but when one friend in particular mentioned that there were a lot of similarities between the author's coming-to-faith story and my own, I just had to snag it. And friends, I ate. this. book. up. Like I mentioned earlier, Carolyn's writing style is beautiful and honest and relatable, and my friend was right: our stories - while not being the same - have eerily similar threads. In it, she shares her story of moving to England to attend Oxford University for her graduate studies in English as an agnostic, and how God tenderly grabbed hold of her heart in her first year there. This book was SO good, I know I will be reading it over and over again.
Rating: 5/5 (and then some)
- Prayer by Tim Keller (finishing this one, finally)
- Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen
- Love Does by Bob Goff (rereading)
- The Journals of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
- The Art of Falling in Love by Jim Beam
- With by Skye Jethani