Tag Archives: growing

You Should Read Me

You Should Read Me

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott

Confession: I used to be a terrible reader. It would take me forever to read a book. I was a great book ‘buyer’, almost a collector of sorts. I was even pretty good at starting books. That was my strong suit. But my attention span was limited, and if it didn’t really pull me in, well then, I was out.

Times have changed. I still feel like I take longer than most to read a book. But the good news is that I actually make myself finish a book before I will reward myself with reading another (unless it’s just completely boring or horrible and then I give myself permission to be out). I’ve noticed the more I read, the better of a reader I become. And the more I read, the more I enjoy the process and journey of learning, growing, and getting lost in a good story. My writing also benefits from reading a lot of books.

Something else I’ve learned is that I can NOT read in bed at night. This is a big no-no for me. I will be asleep in 4 minutes flat. True story. Over the past couple of years I’ve been blessed to be on multiple book launch teams. Sometimes the publishers house will send you the book and other times they send it through a pdf. It’s been so fun reading some incredible books lately, I just had to share a few of my favorites!

Some of my favorite reads from the past year:


Memoir-

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth

All the Pretty Things“I don’t know how old I was the night the trailer burned down, or if the rumor was true that Daddy was the one who set it on fire.”

For a long time, Edie thought she had escaped. It started in an Appalachian trailer park, where a young girl dreamed of becoming a doctor. But every day, Edie woke up to her reality:a poverty-stricken world full of alcohol and violence, where getting out seemed impossible. She taught herself to drive a stick shift truck at twelve years oldso she could get her drunk daddy home from the bar.  She spent Saturdays at Brushy Mountain prison visiting her incarcerated cousin.  She watched adults eat while her stomach gnawed and then there was torching of the family trailer, where she dug through the ashes to try to salvage her most prized possession–her Tammy Wynette album.

And at the center of it all was her charismatic daddy. She never knew when he would show up but when he did he was usually drunk; she learned the hard way that she couldn’t count on him to protect her.  So she told herself it didn’t matter.  All she wanted was to make him proud. Against all odds, Edie “made doctor,” achieving everything that had once seemed beyond her reach. Only, it was too late, because her Daddy died a year before she graduated medical school. She split the cost of his funeral with her sister.

When her past finally caught up with her, it was all too much so she did what her Daddy would have done–she set it all on fire.
It would take her whole life burning down once again for Edie to be finally able to face the truth about herself, her family, and her relationship with God. Readers of The Glass Castle will treasure this refreshing and raw redemption story, a memoir for anyone who has ever hungered for home, forgiveness, and the safe embrace of a father’s love.

The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna Le Baron (to be released March 21st)

The Polygamist's DaughterMy father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .
This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear―and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?

Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.

The Con-Man’s Daughter by Candace Curry (to be released May 16th)

The Con Man's DaughterWhen Candice Curry was a little girl, she put her hand in her father’s back pocket so that she wouldn’t get lost in large crowds. Little did she know that as she followed him, he was plying his trade: conning people. Her family drove stolen cars, lived in stolen houses, and shopped with stolen credit cards. Drug use was regular, as were visits from strange people who were trying to track her father down. Though she eventually cut ties with her father, Candice could not ignore the scars that were left from her childhood.

This is her story, one steeped in secrets but one that, ultimately, led her to a place of forgiveness and freedom. As she struggles to understand her criminal father, as well as her own imperfect life, Candice comes to realize that we are not defined by our circumstances but rather by how we react to those circumstances. She’s found peace in the knowledge that God doesn’t love us because we’re perfect–but because he is.

Learning to Ride Again by Amanda Stephens

Learning to RideOn a lazy Saturday in autumn, a vintage bicycle was rescued from the cobwebs and adopted by an eager young couple with plans of romantic, post-restoration rides and life adventures. Mere months later, tragedy took the life of the husband days after their first anniversary, leaving the bike and anticipated future in pieces. The twenty-seven-year-old newlywed faced the harsh reality of a world without her husband, void of dreams yet still with the promise of hope. From debut author, Amanda Stephens, Learning to Ride Again is a powerfully poetic memoir that explores the painful shock and wondrous awe of learning to live beyond unexpected sorrow. From the night of the tragic call in Texas, to the dreamy hills of California for a cathartic goodbye, this deeply heartfelt story records the intensely personal yet universal experience: A portrait of love, loss and faith.

Christian Living-

Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie

We all live with fear. It hangs around, whispering in our ears, reminding us of all we can’t do or will never be. But that’s not the end of the story. We also have a God who draws close to say, Fear not. I am with you. This Spirit transforms us into fear fighters–women breaking free of trepidation to find bold dedication to God’s peace-, purpose- and joy-filled callings.

With remarkable compassion born from personal experience, Kelly Balarie shows women how to

· Cultivate unstoppable faith by harnessing God’s Word and promptings
· Pray panic-, blood pressure- and stress-reducing prayers to usher in lasting peace
· Discover clear and immediate action plans to exchange worry for God’s greatest gifts
· Implement daily bravery decrees to stand armed through the day
· Participate in a 12-week study guide to foster new courageous habits

Kelly pulls back the curtain of fear so you can find the beautiful woman God created you to be.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (to be released March 22nd)

Love Lives HereThis is a book about discovering what we really need.

There are a lot of second-best options, but we weren’t made to live a second-best life. Finding what we actually need is different than what we are often offered. There are many books full of opinions, steps and programs. This isn’t one of them. This is about craving the things that matter. Things that don’t just work, but last.

In a life that may seem to be all fun and games with an endless supply of balloons, author Maria Goff shows how this life is also lived with intentionality, passionate purpose, and a little planning—all of which make a life rich in legacy. But she had to figure out the help she needed first in order to live the beautiful life God wanted for her and wants for us.

Love Lives Here is a collection of stories that include the ways Maria and her husband, Bob, navigated family their way, without clear instructions or a road map. It’s about what they learned to make their lives meaningful and whimsical and how they created a space for their family to grow together while they reached outward.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

Nothing to ProveNo More Pretending. No More Performing. No More Fighting to Prove Yourself. Are you trying your best to measure up—yet you still feel as if you’re losing ground? You are not alone.

Jennie Allen understands the daily struggle so many of us face with the fear that we are not enough. And she invites us into a different experience, one in which our souls overflow with contentment and joy. In Nothing to Prove she calls us to…

* Find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting we’re not enough—but Jesus is.
* Admit our greatest needs and watch them be filled by the only One who can meet them.
* Make it our goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through us.

As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you’ll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.

Discover the answer to your soul-deep thirst

Too many of us have bought into the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, and people—and we wonder all the while, Why am I still thirsty?

My single goal with this book is to lead your thirsty soul to the only source of lasting fulfillment: Jesus. He is the living water, a limitless supply that will not only quench your thirst but will fill you and then come pouring out of you into a thirsty world.

Because of Him, you are loved. You are known. You can take a deep breath.
Because you have nothing to prove.
—Jennie

For Real by Kerrie Oles

For RealIn a culture that values shiny images, and perfect selfies; there’s a whole mess of us that are aching for another way to live: Real.

In For Real, author and sought-after speaker, Kerrie Oles helps us understand how to navigate through the turbulent seas of this life with great faith, and there was no better story to be the back-drop of her book; than the story of Job. Through her  humorous style, and spiritual wisdom, she will lead you through a journey that offers encouragement, and life-transforming insights to how God will reveal His faithfulness and build our faith through each and every trial.

How do we take an age old story, and make it real to us?

Kerrie Oles, does just that. Job’s story is all of our story. We suffer in this life, but inside each of us is an overcomer, that can grow from hurtful experiences, and be equipped and empowered to help others. And, along the way, to our destination, it will build great faith!

Come with us. Get on board, let’s journey to being-For Real.

Devotional-

I Am by Michele Cushatt

I AmFrom the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn:

Am I enough?

The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?

We fear the answer is “No.”

When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.

With raw personal stories, rock-solid biblical teaching, and radical truths on which to rebuild your life, I Am will help you:

  • End the barrage of negative self-talk with an empowering new narrative.
  • Refuse to ride the roller-coaster of others’ opinions and start believing what God’s says about you.
  • Stop agonizing over past regrets and failures and make peace with God’s sovereign plan for your life.
  • Leave insecurity behind as you exchange temporary fixes for an identity established on God’s unchanging affection.

I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.

Happy Reading!!!

**Disclaimer: There are many good books that I have read. This is by no means a comprehensive and exhaustive list! If you are an author and have a book out, please note that I could not list every single book out there, but just picking a few! Thank you so much for understanding!

Seeing God in Pain

design

In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me– Hosea 5:15b

I’m taking toe-jam to a whole new level. Last week I was moving some sports equipment and there was this heavy-duty dartboard hanging from the side of the container. I was wearing flip-flops, because Brownsville, and the dartboard came crashing down on my big toe. I need you to know something about me- I have a very high pain tolerance. Blame it on my jaded past, but pain I can handle. But this… oh, this. This was pain like I had never felt before. And it was on an area of my body that affects everything. Moving, cycling, running… walking and driving! That first night I basically moaned and whimpered, unable to fully fall asleep. I hobbled my way through the rest of the week. Each night prayed for sleep and each morning I inspected my toe to see if it was healed yet. And here I type this seven days later… still pain. And it looks worse, although the pain has subsided from a 12 to about a 5. Today as we hung out for my boy’s chess tournament, a few people said they thought the toenail was going to fall off. Two friends said I should stick a small needle through the shell of the nail, or the side of the skin where it’s puffy and drain it, because it would relieve the pressure. I said I’d think about it. But the thought of it makes me shudder. Just stick a need in it?!

And throughout this week I’ve wondered why I wasn’t healing faster. Truth? Ain’t nobody got time for this! This is toe-tally (get it.. toe…tally…) inconvenient!

Want to know a little secret? I have always struggled with my eyebrows, or lack there of. For some reason, as I’ve gotten older, my eyebrows just faded away. It’s strange. And for years I’ve purchased liquids, and powders, and stencils. You name it- if it started with eyebrow I was trying it! And for all of my photos throughout the years, I’ve noticed my uneven attempt at an eyebrow.

I know what you’re thinking. Where I she going with this? First the toe, now the eyebrow. I had looked into getting my eyebrows tattooed. I was terrified that the lady would do it and make me look like a scary clown. One day I just decided that I have had enough of trying to get my eyebrows on and even. My friend told me of a place and I went in for a consultation. Before I knew it, I was making the appointment. I went in without telling anyone (okay, I told one friend, but only because we both wanted to have this done). I didn’t want any more delays or anyone to talk me out of it. And I spent over 2 hours on a Monday morning having my eyebrows tattooed. It was painful, but again, pain tolerance is not usually a problem.

She told me my eyebrows would heal in about a week, and a layer would just scab off. I was to put ointment on them every morning and every night. I was also supposed to stay out of the sun and heat or they could sweat and heal wrong, and become blotchy. I didn’t realize this was going to make me look like Chewbacca (except his fur was soft, mine was oily). By about day four I was getting worried. It didn’t look like I thought it should. Honestly, I looked a little creepy. I ran in to the salon and the lady didn’t seem as concerned as I was. She said it usually takes a week and she kind of chuckled at me because she could tell that I was visibly worried. I went home and went back into the salon on day six, because it just wasn’t healing like I thought it should or as fast as I thought it would. She looked me over and let me know that even though ‘most’ people heal up around day 6, that it takes some people about ten days depending on their skin. Apparently I have the ten-day skin.

And every morning I would wake up and run to the mirror. “Why isn’t it healing?” “It should be all healed up by now!” And that was in August. I wished it were over a couple of weeks where I could have just hid in my house and not seen anyone- But I couldn’t. It was actually a rather busy ten days. On day seven we did a kids camp in 100-degree temperatures, outside. When I welcomed the kids as they were arriving you would think I had a frog on my head… oh, the looks. But I carried on, trying not to let the drippy, oily eyebrows affect my life.

Here I sit in October not even thinking much about my eyebrows, which is why I love them so! I wake up and they’re there, I swim and they’re there… it’s fabulous! But that time when I thought the healing would never happen… I just woke up one day and didn’t think about it. I can’t tell you a date or a time exactly, it was just as I continued putting one foot in front of the other that it happened.

I see God at work in our healing. Sometimes we feel like it is taking forever to heal this broken heart, or to heal this pain that throbs like a pulsing toe that’s just been slammed with a dartboard. We don’t see God in the onset of the pain, or in the waiting to be healed. I wish I could just wake up and have my toe be normal again, but I believe God can teach me something through the pain.

I know this sounds strange, but I see God in my pain. I see Him showing me that He’s healing even when I don’t see anything happening.

He’s showing Himself to me in the moments where I had little patience, “Please Lord, just bring about healing!” And He allows me to see Him when I look back- He is the One who helped me, gave me strength, and brought me through. And as much as my toe is a pain (literally) I see Him as I ask Him to reveal Himself to me in my wait.

Have you ever had something happen that was traumatic and/or painful? Did you wonder why it felt like it was (or is) taking so long to heal? Did you almost feel God silent? If you look back on some of those things, can you see where He was with you during the pain, or He sent someone to be His hands & feet? Do you remember feeling impatient for the healing to happen, but now see how He worked everything out and brought glimpses of Himself through it?  I encourage you to look for Him, even in the pain. Whatever you’re going through, trust Him to build you up through it and make you stronger!

1 Peter 4:19- Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Romans 5:3-5- Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.