For the Love of Books

I've been meaning to post about some of my recent reads and this morning I am up with the birds because I can't sleep.  Perhaps that has something to do with taking two naps yesterday?  When Trav is home on the weekends I take full advantage of another adult to run the show and I don't miss the chance to disappear into our bed for some extra sleep!  That's just how I roll right now with 4 weeks left to go in this pregnancy :) 

In addition to napping, I have also given myself permission to put my feet up and read for the last few months.  I am married to a ferocious reader and over the last 10 years, that has rubbed off on me too.  We've both begun the switch from hard copy reading to buying books for our kindle app.  It's not easy for me to give up the feel of a real book in my hands or the ability to write in it, but I'm being won over by the immediate purchasing ability of kindle and mostly, the cheaper price tag!  However there are a few books on my nightstand in hard copy form and I love those too.  I've finished most of these, but not all.  I've always got 2 or 3 going at once and right now, due to this season of my life, motherhood is a topic that is near and dear to me.  Getting ready for another little guy to grace our family and essentially going back to square one again with a little life had me in need of a little inspiration.  So I threw myself a pep rally and ordered some books to help my mind adjust to the thought of three as I prepare for the chaos a newborn and their demands can bring, and to just be encouraged that a messy life is a full life!  Sometimes we just need that reminder from another voice, right??    I often post something on Instagram about what I'm reading or enjoying and then say that one of these days I'll post a list of all the books I've been reading lately.  

Well friends, today is that day! In no particular order, here are some recommendations from my heart to yours! 
I picked this up last summer after a friend raved about it and my goodness was she ever right.  This is a GREAT book if you are a woman with feelings and emotions of any sort!!  I have enjoyed Lysa Terkeurst's writing online but had never read one of her books.  I know, I'm late to her party.  But this one was a game changer for me.  I started reading an Unglued devotional series on YouVersion (Bible reading app) that was excellent and I knew I wanted to read more so I bought the book.  She has written some very wise advice about how to deal with the emotions that often take us over as women and seriously cloud our judgement.  She walks through the meaning of our God-given emotions and how to filter them in their proper place and purpose.  One thing she addresses so well is how to handle conflict.  So much our of conflict (esp as women) comes from emotions that are wrongly in control or out of control and can drive us to really lose it or make snap choices that don't reflect who we are or what God has rescued us from.  At least that's what typically happens to me.  She gives very helpful and practical ways to stop the train before it derails and builds her advice from scripture and what God has to say about it in His Word.  

This is a book that will be a permanent fixture on my shelf because it is one to pull out and reference or refresh my mind with time and time again.  The line that I've quoted most from this book, because it's been so helpful for my own emotional health, is:  "Emotions are meant to be our indicators, not our dictators!"  That one concept alone has helped me filter some feelings this year under God's authority and helped drive me to the root of what is really going on in my heart. Instead of being enslaved or controlled by how I feel, I have been pushed to go deeper and examine the cause of those feelings and then go from there in seeking the Lord for a remedy.  This book flies in the face of what modern thinking tell us in our very feelings-driven world.  Emotions are healthy and God-given but they often lie to us and lead us down false pursuits if they aren't constantly weighed in light of the truth of God's Word and not our own hearts.  I can't recommend this book enough!  It's been extremely valuable to me.  
I bought this book a few years ago when it first came out.  Angie Smith is someone I've followed online since she began blogging about the fatal diagnosis of her unborn daughter and their families' journey through that.  I really adore her heart and feel like I (along with many other readers) have been able to see the Lord heal her and transform her right before our eyes.  She is a talented writer and now a sought after speaker, but her real-life honesty and her humility in her walk with the Lord is what drew her to me.  There is something about watching someone wrestle with deep pain in a raw and unfiltered way, still clinging to Jesus with what faith they have left, that makes a profound impact.  I love her willingness to share her doubts and her fears and her struggle, while pointing so clearly to the ways the Lord has met her and healed her from the inside out.  When I bought this book I didn't get around to reading it right way and it's been sitting on a shelf ever since.  

Recently I have been processing some things in my life and in my own heart and mind, realizing that at the core of what's causing me anxiety or frustration is really fear.  Fear that the Lord will not come through for me.  Fear that He has forgotten us.  Fear that we'll never _________ (fill in the blank).  Pregnancy and all the extra hormones do not aid in keeping some perspective!  Ha ha!  Anyway, I remembered I had this book sitting in my bookcase and I pulled it out, hoping to be encouraged by it and inspired to turn my fear into faith.  I have really loved it so far, I'm a few chapters in and it's been well worth my time.  She spends every chapter addressing some type of fear alongside an account from the Bible of a person who also displayed a similar kind of fear.  She uses the way that the Lord addresses those fears as a reminder that He's still able and willing to do the same for us.  I think my favorite thing about this book is the way it sends me back to my Bible to re-visit some of these people and their stories, seeing some fresh insight about Jesus along the way.  He does not cause fear or want us to walk in it, but so often I choose it regardless of His promises and His Word.  If you are struggling with a particular fear or just have a heart that is prone to worry, you may benefit from this book too.  It's been a good one for me.  
 I've just recently stumbled on Elyse Fitzpatrick and her writing and I am enjoying two books from her right now.  This first one is called "Comforts From the Cross" and it is a daily devotional book that is excellent.  She is part of a Biblical counseling movement and her goal in her writing and her counseling is to help bring everything back to the Gospel and the power we have there because of Jesus.  This book is a treasure for learning to delight in the Gospel, each day looking at another piece of God's plan and reminding us that we take comfort in Him and in what He's done for us and in us.  Everything we face can be answered or addressed with the Gospel.  It's excellent and I'm really enjoying it.  
I know I've written about this book before but here I am recommending it AGAIN because it's just that good.  And I think it's a totally needed read for anyone on either side of marriage or singlehood.  It's needed because it's a very counter-cultural message that comes straight from God's Word and takes us back to what marriage was intended to be.  Marriage has been under attack for quite some time but now it's so distorted and misunderstood, this is an excellent re-wiring of our thinking.  We are working our way through it with our small group (which is another post for another time, oh how we LOVE our small group!!!) and it's been such a blessing to go through it as couples and encourage one another in this season of life with little kids when our marriages are prone to suffer because we're all just exhausted and stretched thin.  I can't recommend it enough!!  Read this book!!  And don't think you can read it quickly, it's deep and requires some thought.  Each chapter builds on the previous one so it just gets better and better, but some people can't get through the first chapter and give up.  Don't do that!  Keep reading.  It's SO worth it!  
This is a current read on my kindle and it's a must-read if you are a mother but even if you don't have kids or your kids are grown, it's still a great read.  She really writes from the angle of embracing your present reality and not getting so hung up on comparing your life to the outside lives we see in others.  This is totally written for the pinterest and social media generation that we are a part of where comparisons are an ugly bi-product of so much being shared and presented as "reality" when in fact, most of it is cleaned up and not reflective of the whole story.  She addresses perfection as an infection that tells a deeper struggle that is actually going on in our hearts and for someone who is prone to perfectionism like me, it hits very close to home.  She talks about moms, kids, bodies, marriages, homes, homemaking, and other areas where women struggle to embrace their reality instead of longing for someone else's perceived life.  She also digs deep in this book and gets to the root of why we do this, the pride we often stumble over and the antidote for it.  I'm really loving this and taking lots of notes. I have a feeling it will be a book I go back to often.  
This is purely a fun read!  It's written by a blogger I love to read, Big Mama, and it's hilarious.  She writes about marriage and how she and her husband fell in love and manage to stay married, despite their many differences.  She cracks me up, I laughed the whole way through and identified with some of her same sentiments and stories.  Did I mention she's funny??  This is a perfect pool read or a beach read, I think I finished it in two or three sittings, it's very easy to fly through it and it might give you a good dose of "yep, we do that too!"  when you think about your own marriage! If you need a laugh, this is a good place to get one! 
This was from the same author who wrote "Comforts From the Cross" and it's very similar in intent, except that it's not a devotional.  It's a great read for anyone in ministry or who does any type of counseling or mentoring.  She has really helped give me some great perspective when it comes to counseling and giving advice from a Gospel-centered place.  She is very helpful in training you to go to the cross and the Word for answers, although she doesn't dismiss the role of professional counselors or anyone who is struggling with mental health related issues and needs medical intervention.  As a youth pastor's wife who gets asked lots of questions, this has been perfect!  I always want to grow in this area and make sure I'm speaking truth and life into someone, not just my opinion or preference.  Jesus is the source of our hope, our comfort, our motivation, our joy and our counsel.  Add this to your library if you find yourself in this role.  I think it would be extremely helpful to you like it has been for me.  
I had heard of this book forever and I've always enjoyed Rachel Jankovic's blogging, but I finally got around to reading this and it was nothing like I thought it would be!  For one thing it is extremely short and very, very practical.  It's almost like small doses of wisdom in short format when it comes to all things motherhood related, specifically for those with little ones underfoot.  If you ever struggle with the monotony or chaos or seemingly mundane work of raising little people who turn your life upside down, you will appreciate this book!  I expected a lot more theology but it's sort of like Proverbs.  Quick insights and pearls of wisdom that help give perspective and attitude adjustments for us, the Mamas!  Sometimes it's really just our own sin and junk that makes everything seem harder or more personal than it needs to be.  There is a degree of chaos that is to be expected in raising kids and she helps remind us that these years are short but critical too.  She's a big proponent of parenting with grace, just as the Lord extends grace to us.  I really enjoyed this although I could have read more from her.  It was over before I knew it, but with another little guy on the way and a return to all of the training that goes into those first 3-4 years, this did help me prepare my heart and mind to return to that stage with joy and not dread.  I really recommend it and am happy to say she wrote a follow-up to this book called...
This is the book she wrote when her kids were just a little older and the demands of motherhood still great.  She writes from the trenches and yet with lots of humility and pointed words.  It's a challenge to the way we view motherhood and how we often feel and express our discontentedness in it.  It's not a feel-good read but rather a rallying cry for moms to honor Christ in all we do, including our mothering and our attitudes about mothering. This was the deeper read I assumed her first book would be, although it's still written in short chapters which makes it perfect for the woman who is constantly interrupted and stretched thin.  You can pick this up and set it back down without losing steam.  I think this is one of my favorite books on motherhood mostly because it's just incredibly honest and challenging.  She makes a point about how many of us Moms share our "misery" with one another, only to be validated in that and even out done with how hard and how draining motherhood is.  While someone who sympathizes with your sorrow in the moment always feels good, in the end it really leaves us empty and provides no lasting comfort.  It's also a way of us saying to God that we don't want all that goes with this job, as if it's too much for us to deal with.  Scripture shoots that argument down repeatedly by reminding us that the way to be full is to empty yourself and give.  And when we do that, we don't receive sorrow as a reward but fulfillment and joy.  That's what we want to mark our years of mothering and that's what we want to encourage one another to strive for.  She gives honor and value to the job of "mom" and reminds us of the tremendous privilege and blessing of raising children.  I love her writing and I appreciated all that I gained in reading this book! 

So there you have it.  These are some of the books that I've been chewing on this year and my personal thoughts about them.  I'd love to know if you've read any of these too and what you thought of them.  I think several would make wonderful gifts for new Moms and others are just great reads to pass among friends.  I know my days of reading will be coming to a temporary halt very soon, but I also know I will be revisiting many of these on the days that I want to throw my hands in the air and give up!  I hope they are helpful for you.  There are SO many good books out there, it's hard to stay on top of them all but many of my favorite reads are recommendations from other people so that's what I hope these become for you too!  Happy Weekend!  

No comments: