A Few Favorites from the Bookshelf

favorite books I have always been a reader. Ever since I was a little girl, rather than watch television or go shopping, I would pick up a book, often reading it from start to finish in a single sitting.

So I thought I would take a few minutes to share a few books that I have loved over the past few years. Today happens to be very snowy, so I have some time on my hands. And I have to give credit to Shauna Niequist, who shared a few of her favorite books on her blog and gave me the idea.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Donald Miller has taught me so much about faith and authenticity. He writes A Million Miles with humor and humility, telling the story of how his life came to a stand still after writing a bestselling memoir, and how he wanted his life to tell a better story.

One Thousand GiftsAnn Voskamp's prose is some of the most beautiful that I have ever read. If you have not read this book, please, let me encourage you to pick it up. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann searches for the beauty in what looks ugly and the holy in what feels heartbreaking, and invites you to do the same. This book has been particularly comforting to me in this season of my life, as I have watched a couple of my friends walk through some really awful valleys. But seeing the gift and choosing gratitude really will change your life.

Daring GreatlyI love Brené Brown's humor and honesty in light of her work on vulnerability. She speaks with such an air of humility and makes you feel comfortable from the very beginning. She is also incredibly encouraging, as she writes that being vulnerable isn't being weak, but rather, that vulnerability is our greatest means to connect in meaningful ways.

A Million Little WaysI have loved Emily Freeman ever since I first started reading (in)courage and her blog, Chatting at the Sky. I began reading her first book, Grace for the Good Girl, and loved it -- but A Million Little Ways just took it to the next level for me. Emily writes that everything about the way you live your life is art, and at the heart of it all, is the Artist who designed our souls with love and care and pleasure.

Blue Like JazzThis is Donald Miller's bestselling memoir about life and faith, which he writes with incredible humor and humility. I've always found Don's work to be very approachable and honest. This was really the first book that I had ever read that talked about faith in such an authentic way.

Eat, Pray, LoveI love writers who are honest, and Elizabeth Gilbert is no exception. When her life falls apart, she knows she needs to make a change. On something of a whim, she picks up her life and spends a year traveling throughout Italy, India, and Indonesia, searching for herself, but also for God. I wouldn't necessarily call this a Christian book, but it is very spiritually oriented and an excellent read.

A Million Little Pieces. This book would definitely not fit in to the Christian genre. It has graphic sexuality and drug use in addition to a lot of language. I knew there was some controversy surrounding whether or not James Frey fabricated some of the details in this memoir, but honestly, I love it. It is a story about overcoming. I picked it up at a used book store and read it from start to finish in about three sittings. It is written in a very stream of consciousness style, and there is very little punctuation, so it takes slightly more attention. Observation: For some reason, I really like books with "A Million" in the title. 

The Desire MapI believe I first became acquainted with Danielle LaPorte through Lauren Dubinsky's blog. I watched the trailer for this book in late 2014 and knew that I had to read it. Danielle argues that goals are great, but what we really want is the feeling that we associate with the goal. She guides you through discovering how you really want to feel in your life, and encourages that it is okay to try different and new things in order to feel the way you want to. Let me clarify: I don't think feelings should always be our dominant source of guidance in life, but I do think that they are incredibly important and that we should pay attention to them.

Well, there you go: a peek at some of my favorites on the bookshelf. This certainly is not an exhaustive list. And I'm planning to share some favorite musicians soon, too.

What is your favorite book and why do you love it? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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for your weekend.


A few good reads:

What do you need to say no to in order to be more creative? The Nester's post on taking time off.

An invitation to fall in love with words all over again, five minutes at a time.

Have you made a summer bucket list? Inside scoop: mine includes zip lining.

Recommended Twitter follows: 

Things to be Happy About (@thingstobehappy)

Shauna Niequist (@sniequistFair warning: 95% of what she posts will make you hungry.

Tune out to tune in:


Wherever you are, be all there. | Jim Elliot

what i've learned + what i'm into

[It has been awhile, but March was a prettybig month, so here goes nothing.]

In no particular order, here are some important things I learned during the month of March:

1. I love worshipping in the car. I spend a lot of time driving from county to county for work, and it has become a real source of joy and comfort to tune into The Fish and sing to the Lord.

2. I am a Type Six blogger. Who knew that they actually had established types of bloggers? This profile seriously fits me perfectly, and I'm finding more and more as I grow and mature that it is nice to be able to have these kinds of mirrors.

3. I am a highly sensitive person. I guess in March I just got really into personality-style stuff. This one was seriously revolutionary to me, because I had never been able to put words to my struggle for energy. I had given into the idea that low energy equals low passion and let that lie make me feel incredibly guilty. I  wrote more about that here.

4. There will always be people who make fun of me. When I was doing foster care training, we did an activity where we compared personality traits we wanted and ones we tolerated in a mate at sixteen versus ones we looked for and tolerated at whatever age we are now. When I landed on disrespectful, I told them that I could never have tolerated someone being disrespectful to me, even at the impressionable age of sixteen. The trainer was shocked, and made a point to call me out.

5. I feel more secure in who I am at this point in my life than maybe ever before. When the trainer decided to call me out, I could have easily gone back to my hotel room and spent the entire evening wondering what was wrong with me. But I didn't do that. And while I am constantly reminded that I have room to grow, I am really satisfied with my life and who I am right now -- regardless of what anyone else thinks.


And here are some things I'm into:

The music:

[spotify id="https://play.spotify.com/user/1227646053/playlist/5h9sUTUsRWFRQsCDbqlRkJ" width="300" height="350" /]


and of course, my constantly growing worship playlist

The viewing: 

Idiot Abroad. The husband and I literally devoured this.

Salinger. Netflix biography. Still angry about that girl ditching JD for Charlie Chaplain.

Undercover Boss. Always a tear jerker.

The favorited blogs:

Sarah Sandel's post on being a highly sensitive person.

Leigh Kramer's The Enneagram and Blogging: Type Six.

Crystal Styne's guest post at The Art of Simple about how making friends is really hard.

Hannah Brencher's words on being brave.

Ann's letter to her Hope-girl.

Literally everything over at The Nester's place.

In print:

[Confession: I love reading, but it often takes me awhile to finish books.]

"A Million Little Ways," by Emily Freeman.

"Packing Light," by Allison Vesterfelt.



Linking up with Emily Freeman & Leigh Kramer to share what I've learned lately and some of my favorite things. What have YOU learned and what are YOU into lately? Feel free to share in the comments below.


Pssst! Did you know you can get my posts sent straight to your inbox? Enter your email in the sidebar and click subscribe! ♥


What I've Learned and What I'm Into: December

What I've learned:

1. Time flies. More specifically, six months of marriage flies. I think this is a realization that can only come with age, and the relentless pursuit and collection of people and moments that make your soul feel full. Craig and I have laughed and shared more in the last six months than ever before. I would marry him again in a minute.

2. I am more prepared for my job than I originally thought. After two weeks of training on the keys to child welfare, there was so much I found that I already knew how to do, which is really exciting given that I recently asked my boss if I was qualified to send a fax to a doctor's office for a child's medical records.

3. Confidence comes with experience. With number two in mind, no amount of book knowledge can really prepare you for this kind of work. You have to go out and be willing to go out and get some dirt under your nails. So far, I have driven out to several home visits with my supervisors or coworkers, and sat in a court room to watch a case unfold that would have been appropriate for Law & Order. Also, I stayed by myself in a hotel for two weeks for training. The longest I had ever been away from home and my husband.

4. I love my coworkers. There is just something about this office and the people in it. Typically, the turn around rate in social work is through the roof -- but most of my coworkers have been here going on ten years. They are some of the most encouraging people I have ever met. One might also get the impression that social workers are incredibly serious, but the whole building is full of jokers, and a day does not go by that we don't laugh about something together.

5. Generally, things are much less scary than I make them out to be. Like staying in a hotel by myself for two weeks, or  my first solo visit with a foster child who is, shall we say, not low risk.  Everything anxious in me leads me to believe that things are going to turn out horribly, when time and time again, I am reminded that the Lord is in control.

6. My bank is super on top of things. Like security breaches after I shopped at Target. It had barely reached the news that Target's database was hacked when I received a phone call from our bank saying that my information had potentially been compromised and that they were going to cancel my current debit card and send me a new one.

7. Don't put too much emphasis on the blog statistics page. Numbers are not everything.

What I'm reading:


"How I've Taught People to Treat Me Differently," by Allison Vesterfelt.

"When Christmas Stretches You," by Ann Voskamp.

"I Know Close to Nothing, but I Believe in These Things," by Hannah Brencher.


"Grace for the Good Girl," and "A Million Little Ways," by Emily Freeman. [Sidenote: I fly through most fiction, but when it comes to books that really challenge me, it could take forever to finish. Especially recently, I have tried to be much more intentional about reading slowly and prayerfully.]

What I'm laughing at:


What I'm watching:

Craig and I don't actually have cable, but during my two-week hotel stay, I managed to catch The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood. I generally don't have a problem with Carrie or her music, though I'm not an avid fan of the country genre. I only have this to say: if Julie Andrews did it right the first time, there's no sense in trying to do it over again.

and finally...

What I'm listening to:


Top posts of 2013:

Dear Church, I'm Still Here.

Note to Self, but also to You.

This is not an open letter.

Linking up with Emily Freeman for "What I Learned," and Leigh Kramer for "What I'm Into."