Tag Archives | good reads

What I’m Reading: Winter 2017

What I'm Reading

Gift-giving season is in full swing, so I put together a little list of sixteen books for the readers on your shopping list. I’m making this list available to my subscribers for the month of December.

If you enjoy these quarterly “What I’m Reading” posts, you can click here to subscribe to Carried by Love. You’ll get my weekly post delivered right to your inbox, plus extras (like this one) along the way. It’s a great way to stay connected and make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Here are eight winter favs….

Christian Living

Christian Living

Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
This book sparked such a curiosity in me! I love the way Spangler and Tverberg go back again and again to the fact that as believers of Jesus, we are branches grafted into a Jewish tree. This book is a great tool to help us grow deeper in His word and a vital reminder that a Jewish perspective will deepen our Christian faith.

When Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God, by Eugene Peterson
I  l o v e d this book. Loooooooved it. I used it as a devotional, reading a chapter a day for 49 days. Eugene’s gentle way of extending grace kept me coming back for more. I found myself chewing long after I had closed the book. This is what grace is like. We can’t get enough of the stuff and we keep coming back for more. And then we discover it will never run dry. Go get this book!

Humble Roots, by Hannah Anderson
Hannah Anderson teaches that pride is the root of so many struggles, but humility is God’s means of redemption. So much truth is packed into this tiny book that as soon as I finished, I made plans to read it again soon.

 

Memoir

Memoir

Hope Heals, by Katherine and Jay Wolf
I knew two things from the very first page: 1) this book would be difficult to read, and 2) it would change the way I defined difficulty. What a beautiful testimony of faithfulness of the One who sees us through the most impossible circumstances! A profound memoir of the healing power of Hope.

Rare Bird, by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
This moving memoir about profound love and tragic loss offers a precious window into the heart-wrestling that occurs as family and community survive the unthinkable. Anna speaks tenderly and candidly about the beauty found in a community of grievers.

She writes, “Grief isn’t linear as I had imagined. I hear somewhere that it is more of a spiral, where we have to come to the same places, again and again, but each time we’ve risen a little farther out of the pit.” An excellent read and one that will enhance your perspective towards grief.

The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner
Ruth Wariner’s haunting story of survival in a polygamist community portrays the tenacity of sibling bonds, and proves that the strength of family and love and hope are greater than the brokenness of polygamy and abuse and poverty. An exquisite must read!

 

Fiction

Fiction

Gold, by Chris Cleave
I picked this one up because I love the way Chris Cleave narrates such depth into his characters. By the end, I feel as if I know them. Their pain, their struggles, their sheer humanity seems to unveil something in my own heart. A page turner and hopeful story of what is most important in this life.

The House I Loved, by Tatiana de Rosnay
Between 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann attempted to bring Paris into the modern era by remodeling large sections of the city. I started this book in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as close friends mourned significant losses.

Phrases like these made me stop, put the book down, and think hard. “Our everyday belongings are mere nothings, carried away on a whirlwind of indifference. I found camaraderie as Rose described the sight of the neighborhood she loved “savagely truncated.” This book bears witness to the fact that a house is more than a house.

What are you reading this winter?

If you’re new here, check out my good reads page for more reading inspiration…

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What I’m Reading: Fall 2017

What I'm Reading: Fall Edition

This fall, I thought it’d be fun to share where I found each book on my reading list. I bet you have your own favorite spot to hunt for good reads. I’ve categorized these titles with a single word to give you an idea of how they came to me.

New : These books were purchased through Amazon (most often with gift cards) and delivered directly to my mailbox.

Library : These finds were pulled from the shelf ahead of time, and reserved with my name. Super simple and convenient!

Bargain : I found these books either at my local bargain book store (where I have an account with credit from books I’ve donated) or on a $1 table in downtown Napa right outside an antique store.

Gift : These treasures came to me via friends, family, or other book lovers I know.

I discovered from this simple list that I cherish my biggest bargain buys just as much the new releases that made their way to my mailbox in brown smiling boxes. And nothing tops a friend or loved one placing a book in my hands they’ve already read with me in mind.

After I read, I sort my books again. I give some a home on my bookshelf, others I pass on, and I usually exchange a few for new titles. As always, I save the very best for you, and offer them right here. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Memoir

Memoir

Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp (New)

This book dives deep into the topic of alcoholism, but I found it a helpful guide for any addiction.  Caroline unashamedly opens a natural discussion about all the places we look for love.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell  (New)

I had to read this one next. Gail wrote about her friendship with Caroline following Caroline’s death. This memoir is first about friendship, then about grief, but at its deepest core, this story is about continuing to live. My favorite quote is: “Grief is what tells you who you are alone.”

All is Grace, by Brennan Manning (Library)

At age 77, Brennan Manning shares a timely message in his moving, and honestly raw memoir. His message has remained “unchanged for more than fifty years.” And it is simply this: “God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.”

The Invisible Wall, by Harry Bernstein (Bargain)

This memoir explores the longtime tension between Christian and Jew. Harry Bernstein learned at too early an age that some things do not discriminate: poverty, war, abuse, and death. Well into his nineties, Harry recalls on these pages a love story strong enough to tear down any invisible wall. Though he has been writing all his life, this is his first book.

Fiction

Fiction

Salt to the Sea, by Rita Sepetys (Gift)

Through the voices of four youths from different nations, Rita Sepetys exposes secrets and hidden histories in moving and charming prose. Their survival of war’s haunting atrocities unities them on every page. This novel confirms the mystery of how hope emerges from darkness and suffering.

The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue  (Amazon)

This tale of twisted theology based on historical fact was such an important reminder that relationship with a living God is not at all the same thing as religion. Emma Donoghue writes about humanity’s willingness to excuse stolen innocence. This fascinating storyline highlights the high cost of doing the right thing.

The Swan House, by Elizabeth Musser (Bargain)

We pass down our history, our legacy, and our hearts every time we tell our stories. The Swan House is about the secrets shame tells us to keep and the truth that sets us free. This book’s soul has made it one of my absolute favorites.

Christian Living

Christian Living

Open, by David Gregory (Gift)

Like a fresh breath of air, this book served as a short, sweet, and necessary reminder that the gospel is completely relevant today.

Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey  (Amazon)

I didn’t even know I was holding my breath until I started reading this book and everything in me exhaled. This one is for the constant questioners and habitual doubters. Sarah Bessey invites us to let the gospel open our eyes to the limitlessness of a God who invites us to be a part of His great adventure.

Awe, by Paul David Tripp (Amazon)

The diagnosis to all that is wrong in the world is awe. Tripp carefully lays out a case for this, explaining our hard-wiring for awe. In our longing, we replace the only thing that can fill us with everything else in our reach. What the world, our cities, our churches, our families, and own very own hearts need is awe of God. Such a profound and convicting read!

Forgotten God, by Francis Chan (Library)

This one has been on my list for a while now, and I’m so glad I finally got to it. Francis Chan argues that God dwells within us on purpose for His purpose, yet how we respond can make a difference in our lives and in the lives around us. This book serves as a wake-up call to the Church to intimately walk with the Holy Spirit, our forgotten God.

 

I’d love to hear from you…

Do you bargain shop, borrow, or buy brand new? Where did you find the books you’re reading?

What do you do with your books when finished reading? Do you stash on shelves, donate, or regift?

As always, happy reading! Thanks for stopping by.

Kelly

 

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What I’m Reading: Summer 2017

When I share What I’m Reading every few months, I pay closer attention to which titles I’m drawn to, which genres I typically gravitate toward, which authors I admire.

I’ve discovered that I haven’t always been a very balanced reader. So in an attempt to bring a little harmony to my bookshelves, today I’m sharing 3 Memoir, 3 Fiction, 3 Christian Living, and one BIG book for the entire family this summer.

three M E M O I R

On Writing, by Stephen King

This memoir offered a faint glimpse into the life of an American icon. After a serious accident that left him wheelchair bound for weeks, King wrote the section titled “On Writing.” I lifted some of the finest writing advice off these pages.

Space at the Table, by Brad and Drew Harper

Authored by an evangelical theologian and his gay son, this tender yet heart-breaking memoir is full of unconditional love and the deepest kind of hope. What a brave book! The conversation Drew and his dad began has followed me long after I read the last page.

Undone, by Michele Cushatt

In this highly relatable memoir, Michele Cushatt tells a beautiful tale of embracing unfinished progress, accepting the undone-ness of real life, and learning to see beauty in upside-down places.

 

three F I C T I O N

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

I could not put this book down. Chris Cleave is a master at demonstrating the strength and resilience of the human spirit. You will fall I love with these characters, especially Little Bee. My favorite quote in the entire book: “Our stories are the tellers of us.” (Little Bee)

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave

In this historical fiction, Cleave juxtaposes the uncertainty of love with the cruelty of war, then demonstrates with poignancy that, in the end, love is stronger than war. The Author’s Note at the end brought tears to my eyes; the novel was inspired by Cleave’s grandfather who died during the writing of the book. Though he never read a word of it, it is a beautiful tribute to the way love restores all that war steals.

The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict

Marie Benedict answers, through fiction, the questions in the life of Albert Eistein’s wife, Mileva Maric. The enchanting story reveals the humanity of one of the greatest physicists who ever lived and the brilliant mind that was hidden in the shadow of his pride and fame.

 

three C H R I S T I A N   L I V I N G

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It, by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

This was such an important book for me. Goggin and Strobel gave me a better understanding of what power is and what it is not. This is an important book for all believers, I think.

Introverts in the Church, by Adam S. McHugh

Introverts in the Church celebrates the introverted way, especially in an extroverted culture. McHugh reveals the quiet yet uniquely profound mark every introvert leaves on this world. If you are an introvert or you love an introvert, this is a must read!

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, by Lysa TerKerust

This is such an intelligent and profound book on the topic of rejection. Lysa introduced me to the concept of “living loved.” And what I love about Lysa is that she doesn’t just tell us why living loved is so vital, she shows us how… on every single page.

 

one for the whole F A M I L Y

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden, by Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark

I love this book for all ages because it tells the gospel plainly through story. One big story from Genesis to Revelation, one big story of love. You’ll love the gorgeous, modern illustrations, and you’ll walk away with a fresh understanding of the gospel message.

 

Thanks to all who shared your favorite Memoir last month! Be sure to check out my Good Reads page for more of my favorites.

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What I’m Reading: Spring Edition

Spring break is quickly approaching, so I’m making my list and saving space in my suitcase for my stack of books to haul on vacation.

Please don’t tell me e-books are more efficient. I know that. I just can’t part with pages.

One of my favorite places to read is on an airplane. We haven’t traveled by plane a whole bunch with kids, but with the exception of one horrifying flight with one-year-old twins, I can usually relax enough to crack open a book.

One day (in the faraway future), I might experience (rather than daydream about) reading at the pool. Right now, that’s about as likely as reading at the park.

My friend with four little ones and a fifth on the way came over the other day. Between the two of us, we’ll soon have eight. We laughed at our natural ability to pause a conversation (no matter how in depth) a million times from beginning to end.

We have both mastered the art of jumping right back in where we left off.

But reading like that hurts my head. After re-reading the same paragraph for the tenth time, I wind up tossing the book aside in frustration, shaking my head at the naivety that convinced me I could enjoy a good read with little people awake in my house.

On a plane, though, while they enjoy their uninterrupted screen time, I’ll be getting lost in a good story. Uninterrupted as well, I hope.

I’ve got eight titles to share with you, some that just released. You can also check out my Good Reads page for more of my absolute favorites.

{Christian Living}

Missional Motherhood, by Gloria Furman

This is an exceptional guide to discipling your children no matter their age. My favorite quote from the book is this: “Discipleship is like waking up to remember that we are alive in Christ over and over and over again a hundred times a day, until the day when we no longer need to be reminded that we are in Christ forever because we can see him.”

Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer

This book is powerful and bold and everything you need if your prayers feel like they sometimes hit the ceiling.

{Fiction}

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

I loved this intelligent book about race and privilege and love and hate. Picoult tackles the tough subject of coming to terms with our own racial self-awareness in an honest and responsible way. The title comes from a quote by Martin Luther King: “It is through small acts that racism is both perpetuated and partially dismantled.”

Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool

Wise in so many ways, yet thoroughly imaginative, I connected with the theme of story in this book. One person’s story really can change a life. We find power in story, which is why we must all tell ours. This is the heartbeat of this charming novel.

{Spiritual Growth}

The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp

God had been talking to me about the empty hollow inside my heart, trying to convince me somehow that the hunger was a gift, when I picked up The Broken Way. He used Ann’s words to continue that conversation He started in a humbling and completely encouraging manner.

Falling Free, by Shannan Martin

This one sat on my nightstand for three solid weeks before I mustered up the courage to open it. I knew reading it would make me extremely uncomfortable. With chapter titles like Get Risky, Unplan, Have Less, Live Small, let’s just say I wasn’t chomping at the bit. But, whoa. Please read this. Even if you don’t want to or you’re scared. Please read this book.

{Autobiography/Inspirational}

Hiding in the Light:Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus, by Rifqa Bary

Rifqa’s profound story recalibrates what it really means to leave everything to follow Jesus.

{Memoir}

All the Pretty Things, by Edie Wadsworth

In this thought-provoking memoir, Edie describes how she has learned to hold compassion for her Daddy and her wounds from him in the same heart.  She writes, “The heart doesn’t settle easily for blame—it longs to be redeemed.” The storyline of fatherlessness stuck with me long after I read the last word.

 

What are you reading this spring? And where is your favorite spot to get lost in a good book?

 

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What I’m Reading and Gifting This Season

What I'm Reading and Gifting This Season

I accidentally left two paperbacks on the bedside table of the hotel room my husband and I stayed in after a recent gala downtown.

At home, after I discovered the books hadn’t made it to my bag, my husband called the hotel. An answering service picked up, then rerouted his call to the voice mailbox of a woman in charge of lost and found.

These weren’t just any couple of books. I had covered one of them in notes and asterisks and lots and lots of my own words, and I only had one more chapter left to read. Someone loaned me the other one, and she raved about it when she placed it in my hands. I planned to start that one next.

My loving husband, who does not share my obsession with books, tried (ever so politely) to convince me that my books sat in a trash pile somewhere collecting dust. He kept saying, “Kelly, they always toss things of little or no value.” I cringed with every repetition, while he shrugged his shoulders as if this news should not be devastating.

How did I end up married to a man who thinks paperback books hold no value?

He left a message, and to my relief, the woman called back the next day. She found the books and said she would hold them until we could come pick them up. During the time between the message he left and her call back, I thought about who might’ve found those books.

All this led me to reevaluate what makes books so valuable.

Nothing compares to opening a freshly printed, brand new book. The smell is invigorating, but the possibility of discovering something new is what drives my love of reading. There is something even more precious about receiving a book from a friend or loved one who tells you, “I knew you’d love this one.”

When it’s a book they’ve already read, marked up, and highlighted, it’s a whole new experience. For this reason, I’ve started to gift my books. Yes, books I’ve read. Books with notes in the margins. Books I’ve packed with me on a hotel excursion or trip to the beach. I wrap them with a simple strand of string and slip on a tag with a hand-written note.

What I'm Reading (and Gifting) This Season

Passing along a good read is gift-giving at its finest.

Gifting your books is the perfect way to spread some love this Christmas season, and it couldn’t be more simple. Scour your own shelves at home. Get creative on how you wrap those goodies—gift bags, boxes, or pretty ribbon you’ve got laying around. The possibilities are endless!

As always, here are seven good reads for winter…

{Christian Living}

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

I’ve been reading this as a devotional. Jen Wilkin takes ten attributes of God and beautifully disassembles each one in a way that draws us deeper into the heart of God.

{Creativity}

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

To dare greatly is to show up and let our whole selves be seen. This is a must read for all leaders, educators, parents, and everyone who wants to lead a courageous, whole-hearted life.

{Spiritual Growth}

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh

Listening is one of God’s greatest gifts because it provides the precious assurance that we are not alone. Adam McHugh carefully and eloquently describes how being a listener is being a servant, someone Jesus is to each of us.

{Discipleship / Spiritual Growth}

Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb presents an “invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good even when the bottom falls out of your life.” He implores readers to recognize how God uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for Him.

{Marriage}

What Did You Expect? By Paul David Tripp

I wish I had read this convicting and heart-wrenching book fourteen years ago when I was twenty-one and marrying my true love. The message in this book has helped change my perspective towards marriage and the many ways in which God wishes to redeem it.

{Historical Fiction}

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

When I finished the last page, I wanted to turn back to the first and start all over again. This story made me reevaluate what I call strong and what I call weak. I learned that true strength isn’t found in what others see, but in seeing what others don’t.

{Current Events / Middle East}

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

This riveting collection of stories about those suffering persecution at the hands of ISIS realigned my view of the universal church. The church operates first as a family, and these stories demonstrate this in the most costly and sacrificial way.

What I'm Reading: Winter Edition

Thanks for showing up here every few months and proving that the stories that connect us together are priceless treasures waiting to be shared with those around us. Be sure to check out my new page, GOOD READS, for all my absolute favorites.  

Kelly

 

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Four Questions I’m Loving This Fall

Listening is hard.

Just take note as the conversation unfolds at your own dinner table this evening. In our house, one kid raises her hand the entire time her brother is speaking.  She waits her turn to speak at school, so she truly believes this is polite. The other one finishes his sister’s sentences and can’t seem to understand why this gets underneath her skin.

When conversation becomes waiting our turn to speak or finishing someone’s thought, I think we have lost something fundamental in the way we communicate.

Listening is a demonstration of how we value those around us.

I used to think I was a pretty good listener, but then God invited me on a crazy adventure called HER STORY, and I’m discovering how difficult listening really is. He is slowly turning this story-teller into a story-listener, and I’m loving it.

What I'm Loving: Fall Edition

When I began interviewing women who had a story to tell, I knew each one. I knew her story, too. Or so I thought. Listening unbiased to someone you know really well is so much more challenging than listening to someone you just met. This entire process has helped me pay more attention to the questions I’m asking.

Whether you’re conducting an interview or chatting with a friend or introducing yourself to a stranger, questions bring depth and purpose to ordinary conversations.

Questions allow us to tap into that sacred space beneath the surface.

In The Listening Life, Adam McHugh writes, “Listen to the voice of the Spirit while you listen to the other person. Don’t listen for what truth or insight you should speak to them. Listen for what questions to ask.” This is a slow and gentle process, but an important one, I think.

Since we could all use a little conversation make-over, I want to share four questions I’m loving.

Four Questions I'm Loving This Fall

These questions have added insight, depth, and beauty to everyday exchanges in my home and in my community. I am just now beginning to see how much I’ve been missing.

  1. Instead of “How are you?” try asking, “How can I pray for you?” This one even works well with strangers.
  1. When you think you know exactly what the other person is saying, ask this one: “Can you tell me more about that?” This question gently draws out what’s underneath that first layer of conversation.
  1. “What do you need right now?” has the capacity to completely alter our most precious relationships.
  1. Adam McHugh says a listener’s best friend is the “why” question. Rather than disagree, relate, fix, or solve, let a “why” question jump-start a better conversation. Here are some examples:

“Why do you hold that belief?”

“Why is that important to you?”

“Why does that bother you?”

“Why did that hurt you?”

“Why do you feel that way?”

As our questioning improves so will our listening.

Questions offer a simple way to communicate that we care while reminding us that we have so much to learn. Better questions will revive our dinner table conversations and breathe life into our everyday connections.

Do you have a favorite question you like to ask? I’d love to hear from you…

Kelly

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What I’m Reading (and not reading) This Fall

What I'm Reading: Fall Edition

It’s taken me years to learn how to abandon a book and not feel guilty.

Usually, the reason I put a book down isn’t because the author and I have different views. I think reading books from a variety of authors gives me a better perspective. It doesn’t change my view; it actually deepens my beliefs, because it challenges me to think deeply about why I believe what I believe.

Sometimes, it’s just not the right season, but most of the time, I’m just not in the author’s audience, so I struggle to I relate. And it’s ok to move on.

Today I’m sharing six books I love. Two others didn’t make the list, because I didn’t finish reading either one of them. Though there’s no guarantee that you’re going to love these as much as I did, I think there’s always value in sharing what you love with someone else—especially when it comes to good reads.

So without any strings attached, here’s what I’m reading this fall:

What I'm Reading: Fall Edition

{Christian Living}

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me, by Alexandra Kuykendall

Alexandra Kuykendall devoted nine months to this experiment deeply rooted in finding joy in her current season. She focused on a different aspect of her life for an entire month and kept a journal of what worked, what didn’t, and what she learned in the process.

In the preface she lays the ground rules: “In this experiment we’re going to hang out in the element that is. Not what we could be, should be, or wish were true about our lives, but what actually is…. Because God gave us each one unique life. Meant to be lived out in our actual situations.”

The chapter on passion spoke most of all to me. Something shifted inside me as I underlined these words: “I balance the belief that God has made me for both mothering and whatever that passion might be, with the ‘do what only you can do’ decision-making grid…. I can do my best to make plans, but truly, if I was made to do something I must figure out a way to do that something now, even if a little at a time.”

I love Alexandra Kuykendall’s realistic approach in not implementing all the things all the time. Loving My Actual Life inspired me to make a list of my own experiments I want to explore, because it just seems so intriguing.

{Spiritual Growth}

Unashamed, by Christine Caine

The lavish grace Christine has for herself as she tells her story stood out to me immediately in Unashamed. She explains how renewing our minds involves replacing our thoughts (as well as the enemy’s lies) with God’s thoughts.

When I look back at certain seasons of my life, the thoughts and attitudes I have towards myself are often filled with judgment, frustration, and embarrassment. Christine’s way of telling all the parts of her story through a redeemed perspective reminds me that God has only ever looked on me with love.

He loved me at my very worst—that’s the essence of the good news.

For the past year, I’ve been meeting with a group of girls. Woven throughout every one of our stories is this common thread: we believe Jesus came to free us. As I read Christine’s story about her journey to freedom these words sprung right off the page: “Freedom comes when we see ourselves as God sees us!”

{Self-Help: Creativity}

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown unpacks essential guideposts for whole-hearted living. She believes cultivating things like authenticity, a resilient spirit, creativity, play, and meaningful work involves letting go of something else. For example, to implement rest, Brené says we must let go of productivity as self-worth.

To further explain this theory, Brené and her husband made a list of practical things that make their family work. They asked themselves a simple question: “When things are going really well in our family, what does it look like?” Sleep, healthy food, meaningful work, family and close friends made up their “ingredients for joy and meaning.” They discovered that the things they were working toward did nothing in terms of making their lives fuller.

I got curious about how my own joy and meaning list would compare with my to-do list and my to-accomplish list. This simple exercise brought a sense of calm and much needed refreshment to my very busy season with little ones. I learned that I, too, am living my dream in ways I hadn’t even considered.

{Memoir}

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home, by Amber C. Haines

This book was an important one for me. Amber Haines put into words everything I have felt my whole life. She helped me understand my longing to fit in and find belonging. I never would have defined these cravings as homesickness.

She is honest when she describes the church as the place she felt least at home.

“I wanted intimacy and belonging with the people of God but still had trouble reaching out because I saw in us all a deep dissatisfaction. I was chief among the dissatisfied, and reaching out to the dissatisfied church didn’t make sense….

She was beginning to see the church as “the kingdom of the dissatisfied powerless.”

Wild in the Hollow helped me navigate my own unrealistic expectations of community. I recognize how the constant desires for community, intimacy, and relationship can become an unhealthy searching for satisfaction outside of Jesus.

God used this book to rekindle my love for the Church—the same Church I’ve held responsible for hurting certain people in my life, the same Church full of broken people who need Jesus, the same Church God calls His beloved Bride.

{Spirituality}

Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown Taylor

When God draws us into darkness, it is unique to what He wants to teach us. Yet the ache felt our hearts is similar. Darkness can be uncertainty or silence. It can be a debilitating affliction- physical, emotional, or spiritual. Darkness can be isolating and terrifying.

But darkness is often a catalyst for growth.

In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor eloquently describes how she has grappled with this mystery. She points out that God spoke from darkness, one that is both “dangerous and divine.”

We all possess this inherent fear of the dark, but Learning to Walk in the Dark encouraged me to consider my own view of dark emotions, like grief, fear, and despair. Through her research, Barbara concludes that there really are no dark emotions. She says we just have “unskillful ways of coping with emotions we cannot bear.”

Learning to Walk in the Dark has helped me lean into the discomfort of the dark. I am beginning to see that when I acknowledge the dark, I rely more heavily on God. The more I lean into Him, the more I discover how much I don’t know. And that’s right where I need to be for Him to teach me something new.

{Historical Fiction}

The Muse, by Jessie Burton

In this fascinating historical novel, two different stories unfold simultaneously—one set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the other told by a Trinidadian immigrant living in England in the late-1960s. The waves made by one painting, and its secret, are felt in a new, yet not so different, era.

These stories remind me of the interconnectedness of all our stories. Sometimes we’re linked together in very obvious ways and sometimes in hidden, mysterious ways.

These overarching questions swirled throughout my mind as I read The Muse: What makes an artist an artist? How does the response to the art impact the identity of the artist? Is art ever separate from the artist? Is there ever such a thing as a whole story?

As an artist as well as a woman, I recognized the familiar undertones of society defining what women can and cannot be. If you look closely, you can still see glimpses in this generation. The Muse depicts this struggle. On every page, I thought of the Artist of all who created every one of us to be artists. Whether we embrace our creativity or not, we were all designed to create—in our own time and in our own unique way.

fall good reads

What are you reading this fall? When do you decide to set a book aside, or do you feel obligated to finish every one you start? I’d love to hear from you…

Kelly

 

 

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What I’m Reading: Summer Edition

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

I have a thing for old-fashioned books – you know, the ones with pages that actually turn. I love the feeling I get when I open to the very first page, and I love savoring the last words of a story that has transported me to a different place and time.

I scribble thoughts in the margin that I don’t ever want to forget, and I dog-ear important pages I want to come back and read again. But, my absolute favorite part of reading is passing books I love on to someone else. Today I’m sharing four books, three of which were passed on to me by people I love and respect.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown 

I was amazed at how much Brené Brown’s message resonated with me. Her relatable style is engaging, and though her findings are strictly research based, many of them are actually biblical. Rising Strong is all about having the courage to get back up after a fall.

Our brains are wired for story, so when we have gaps in our understanding, our brains fill in those gaps with a story, whether the information is true or not. Brené talks about confronting these stories we’ve made up in our heads.

Satan lies in such subtle ways, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we’ve believed a lie until the story has gotten away from us. Rising Strong is about taking responsibility for our stories. This book taught me the importance of paying attention to what I’m thinking, feeling, and believing especially when all I want to do is dismiss, deny, or hide.

You can listen to Brené Brown share more about Rising Strong in this interview.

TLS #124: How to Compassionately Set Boundaries in Relationships with Brené Brown

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

Me Before You is about life and love and the hope it requires to move past shattered dreams. It’s about losing control and deciding what defines us. It’s about asking ourselves whether it’s possible to protect our own hearts from breaking. It’s about coming to terms with the vows we make and the lies we believe.

I couldn’t read a page of this book without thinking about a dear friend who suffered a similar spinal cord injury from a car accident at the age of 15. Throughout Me Before You, I was enraged and also heartbroken, but I found it to be a very thought-provoking read. I love stories that make me reflect on what I believe and why I believe it.

My belief in Jesus has changed every other belief I hold.

Our decisions in life are wrapped up in what we live for. The pursuit of contentment is the heartbeat that pulses throughout this entire book. Me Before You was a good reminder to continuing sharing with the world how true contentment can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

This book gave me a renewed passion not to use my opinions to try and change people’s minds, but to use my life to point to Jesus, the only One able to change people’s hearts.

 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin 

I read this book a while ago, but a conversation with my daughter led me to read it again. When I was not satisfied with my best response to her question about a well known bible story, I realized that it was a passage of scripture I needed to relearn. As I began to search for clarity for my daughter’s sake, I found myself reaching for Women of the Word.

Jen Wilkin has helped me understand how the Bible is, first and foremost, a book about God, not a book about me. Women of the Word will change the way you view the Bible, challenge you in gracious ways, and give you courage to seek God with all of your heart and mind and soul.

If you are interested in reading along with me and live in the West Houston area, I will be leading a book discussion this month at my church. Email or message me for more details. I’d love to connect with you in person!

 

The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley 

Mary Frances Bowley, the founder and president of Wellspring Living, has carefully and beautifully strung together delicate stories from women who have been victims of sex trafficking. Each story will unravel you in a heart-breaking, but necessary, way.

The color white represents purity, and the umbrella represents protection against the storm. The White Umbrella provides a profound picture of our willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sex trafficking. We all have a place in this fight. If you don’t know where you fit in, reading this book is a perfect place to start.

I love this quote: “You see, it isn’t about what you do or all the excitement of joining a compelling cause. It really is about you and God. He is the ultimate Restorer, and His work never fades… Walking with survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking is a messy and complicated opportunity. But how beautiful is it that God has given us His white umbrella of love so that we can spread it over someone in the storm. When we do that, they too can experience the love, protection, and care that Christ longs to give us all.”

I am not the same after reading this book. My eyes have been opened, and God is answering my “what now?” prayer.

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly

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