2019 was a year of gut-wrenching pain, frustration, and wrestling with the Lord. These books served as encouragement, truth, and empowerment to be resilient among hardships and heartbreaks as I cling to the hope that comes only from God. I learned more about the Lord and His people through these books. Below you will find my favorite quotes as well as a few sentences as to how each book impacted me in my everyday life. Enjoy!
1. Remember God — by Annie F. Downs
“We can be in the wilderness and be fed. Those two realities are not mutually exclusive. Life can be painful and beautiful at the exact same time.”
With Annie, I felt the freedom to wrestle with the Lord and be honest about my hurts and heartaches. However, in the midst of the pain and confusion, I was lovingly reminded to Remember God. To remember all He has done and all He will do. He can bring beauty through this pain and wilderness. He can gently feed me manna in the wilderness.
2. Becoming — by Michelle Obama
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end… Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me is how we become.”
My eyes were opened to different perspectives — an African-American Woman, a daughter, a business woman, a wife, a mom, a first lady, and so many more roles. In each word shared, Michelle empowered me to have pride in myself and to fight for others to feel worthy in their authentic selves. This book encouraged me to reflect on all that has contributed to my becoming who I am today, and to ever race toward becoming who I will yet be. But better yet — it invited me to play a part in someone else’s journey. To see the unfolding of time and grace as those I love, learn to be just who they were created to be.
3. 100 Days to Brave — by Annie F. Downs
“Courage is doing things even when you’re scared. Being brave isn’t something that happens when you’re not scared anymore. Brave people don’t stop hearing the whispers of fear. They hear the whispers but take action anyway. Being brave is hearing that voice of fear in your head, but saying, “Okay, but the truth is, God made me on purpose and for a purpose.”
Annie spurred me on to step out in faith, even when all my fears tried to hold me down. I have always been a planner and list maker. If my plan does not unfold according to schedule, I am overtaken with fear and anxiety. This book daily challenged me to be brave in who He is — not who I am, or what I am capable of doing on my own.
4. Longing for Motherhood — by Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
“The cost of following Christ is death of self, death of our own desires and dreams… How do we model to the world that Christ is more precious to us than anything else, even the children we long for?”
I learned the tender, sweetness of God dwelling with me. His presence brought joy in a time when I should have felt defeated, crushed, and hopeless. I learned practical, yet powerful, ways to deepen my hope and trust in the One who never fails nor leaves.
5. The Gospel Comes with a House Key — by Rosaria Butterfield
“Radical ordinary hospitality manifests confident trust that the Lord will care for us and for those we care about through our obedience.”
“We see those hard to love as the image bearers of God and give them our best.”
“Hospitality shares what there is. That is all. It is not entertainment.”
This book radically changed my view of the purpose of my home and my everyday life. I learned to view all as the image bearers of God, and to obediently offer them whatever I have to offer (time, energy, food, a place to stay, physical gifts, etc.) I do not have to strive for perfection or entertainment, I can trust that He will use what He has provided to abundantly bless those who He brings into my everyday life or home. I learned that greater joy is to be found in loving others through Christ, and to live a life with open hands rather than clenched fists.
6. The Ministry of Ordinary Places — by Shannan Martin
“We are not alone. He keeps showing up … He arrives in the shimmering middle of everyday life. His abundance most often crops up right in the middle of our lack.”
Reading this book felt like chatting over coffee with a close friend. Seeking the presence of God in ordinary moments was my purpose for writing on this blog — but this book couples this thought with the idea of not only seeking God, but being an example of God in everyday moments. It challenged me to open my home, my heart, my energy, and my time in order for others to find God show up in the midst of their ordinary lives.
7. The Broken Way — by Ann Voskamp
“Never be afraid of broken things. It’s the beginning of better things. The best yields always start as broken fields.”
Abundance in Christ, looks like hard pruning, and the breaking up of soil. In order for Christ to grow and produce fruit in us, some hard labor is required. I need not fear the process of brokeness, but can rest wholly in the one who tends and cares for me.
8. In Want + Plenty — by Meredith McDaniel
“Rest comes in the stillness of surrender.”
This book came at a perfect time. My word for 2020, is rest. This book was healing in all of the areas that I need to surrender my desires to the Lord, and to just rest in His already-given, all sufficient provision. I participated in a book launch team for this book, so it is not yet available, but you should definitely pre-order this book that will be released on January 21, 2020.
As we move on to 2020, I desire to strive less. I want to become who He has designed me to be, and to live out of a place of deep rest in who He has always been and always will be. Below you can find a list of book I will be reading to help with this. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know!