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18 Books I read in 2018

What. A. Year.  I could easily get into all of my feels of 2018.  It was my first full year of my first full time job.  It was a year of moving houses.  A year of growing and deepening friendships.  A year of transitioning, reorienting, and reorganizing.  A year with a broken heart.  Another year of pursuing a Masters of Divinity.  Another year of grief.  Another year of learning and growing and in between each chapter, per usual, a year of reading.

This year I felt compelled to add some diversity to my reading list.  In the spaces I fill, I often find myself advocating for diversity, yet my 2017 reading list looked a little too unified.  So this year, I mixed it up.  I read some fiction on the beach, read an autobiography over Christmas, and read many a Christian living along the way.  I wanted to read books by both men and women of various races and ethnicities.  And I have many to recommend for your 19 books of 2019.

Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsed by these authors, though I do review for various publishing companies and receive copies of free books.  If you are interested in contacting me to review your books, please comment below!  Also, these are in alphabetic order.

Let’s jump in!


1.) And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick

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In this work, Kate Merrick shares about the difficult journey her family faced through her daughter Daisy’s cancer, ultimately ending in Daisy passing away.  She describes the ups and downs of Daisy’s cancer, when she and her husband felt hopeful and hopeless, when she was angry that these were the cards they had been dealt, and when she would lay in bed and hold every precious minute she had with Daisy.

Through some of the most broken experiences of her life, Kate Merrick nudges readers of And Still She Laughs to shift their perspective from defining God through our circumstances to defining Him through His Word and proven character.  She holds the sacredness of grief and the depths of suffering she has faced, but walks with bravery and honesty into the truth of Scripture that provides the hope with which broken bones can rejoice. Read full review…..

2.) Becoming by Michelle Obama

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I have always loved all things first lady.  When given the decision of which museum to visit in Washington D.C. I always have a hard time choosing any other than the Museum of American History to admire the dresses and pearls of each first lady.  I love the way their clothing embodies that era, both the economy in its elegance and the role that women played in the culture of our nation.  I grew up admiring Laura and Barbara’s poise, Jackie’s fashion, and Michelle’s courage.

I felt welcomed by Michelle Obama to consider more deeply the uniqueness of my own story and how it has painted, shaped, and sculpted the person I am today.  I felt empowered to own the spaces I fill with confidence, but mostly authenticity.  Despite it’s length, I would greatly recommend this read. Read full review….

3.) Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

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Wrapping up my first year of my full time, big girl position, in my first year of supervising direct reports, I kept reading to see what I could learn.  And the insights were endless.  Brené entered into the work place which can seem so institutionalized and cold sharing on shame, vulnerability, the need for connection, and ways to show up brave, bold, and honest.

Upon reading Dare to Lead I have found myself using skills Brené teaches right away in my work place, on my small teams and big ones, with my direct reports and with those I report to.  I have found myself seeing the people around me differently and as I value them more and lean into my curiosity, finding myself much more generous with them.  I have since recommended Dare to Lead to many due to its specific insight, relevant research, and challenging message that is vital to any company culture. Read full review….

4.) Everybody Always by Bob Goff

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I love Bob’s writing style and even have used it as an example at writer’s conferences when some more tenured friends just cannot seem to understand “those Millennials.”  (Funny how sometimes we, ourselves, are the ones people have to walk across the line to love.)  He tells wild and crazy stories that made me laugh, cry, and have chills all over.  Then, he draws connections to the nature and character of God and who He calls us to be packing many heavier punches than I ever thought possible.

Bob simplifies what we overcomplicate emphasizing the theme that Jesus never gathered people around Him to agree with Him; instead, He gathered people around Him to go and be like Him.  Bob challenges believers to love bravely, deeply, and to never overlook our own personal transformation in the process. Read full review…

5.) Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons

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In Freefall to Fly, Lyons shares her story wrestling with severe anxiety as her family transitioned from Georgia to the hustle and bustle of New York City.  Painted with beautiful word choice, the author lets readers into her innermost wrestlings and questions with God as she struggled to face each and every day, fighting to believe each day would be the end of this relentless battle.

Freefall to Fly is bold, honest, and brave.  Rebekah Lyons story is extremely relatable and her writing style, beautiful.  Read full review…

6.) Gay Girl, Good Good by Jackie Hill Perry

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Gay Girl, Good God.  This title captured my attention, knowing Jackie’s story in part, but knowing all the more how often I sit across the table in restaurants and coffee shops from students in my ministry who face a similar battle.  I shared with a friend recently that I am not quite sure why, but I have found myself to be a common confidant for those who are attracted to the same sex.  While this has never been a part of my story, I have found it an incredible honor to hold these precious people’s stories, hearts, wrestlings, fears, and frustrations.  While I hold this privilege, I have also held a lack of resources.  To know me well is to have been recommended a book by me, and I found this topic of Christianity and homosexuality to be limited in its scope of resources and all the more limited in individuals who would speak out about it.  And along came Jackie.

Perry’s work is real, raw, compelling, honest, and a great launching point for the Church to enter significantly more honest conversations regarding same sex attraction, specifically in conservative Christian circles.  Read full review…

7.) Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human by John Mark Comer

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Comer magnifies the two bookends of Scripture to piece together his thesis on work and rest.  He narrows in on key aspects of the Garden of Eden and God’s original calling and commandment for man and woman. He furthermore explains the concept of the “Garden City” to come or the New Jerusalem and how our lives will take shape in this future Kingdom.  Between the two of the Shalom that was and the Shalom that is to come, Comer offers a Biblical perspective of the role of work and rest in our lives and how we often convolute them.

I highly recommend this read to all believers, specifically those wrestling with calling, work and life balance, or the Biblical call to rest.  Read full review..

8.) The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield

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Butterfield explains hospitality does not have to be complicated.  She emphasizes the simplicity of setting up a card table in the carport and placing paper plates in a stack in an effort to make strangers, neighbors and friends.  She explains that practically this includes budgeting for hospitality, purchasing extra groceries, and in her case owning multiple crock-pots (aka speaking my language).  Practicing what Butterfield terms “radically ordinary hospitality” includes making room to host a single friend following eye surgery on a living room couch by buying blackout curtains and filling her prescriptions.  Making room includes making space in her schedule to help pick up a neighbor’s child from soccer practice or feeding another neighbor’s dog.

Butterfield’s tone is so conservative- literally including the phrase “sacred patriarchy” that when she began sharing her story of her life before Christ I checked back multiple times to be sure she wasn’t sharing someone else’s story.  I was shocked to learn this pastor’s wife in suburban North Carolina who knits by her neighbor’s bed sides during surgery and bakes bread each Saturday for Communion on Sunday came from such a different lifestyle.

Thus, The Gospel Comes with a House Key is a challenging and compelling read, with sections and ideologies I would omit in order to reach a more relevant and diverse audience surrounding an important subject. Read full review…

9.) Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

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I was late to the Grace Not Perfection party, but so thankful I picked it up.  Emily Ley openly shares her story of battling to be perfect and in the midst of striving, finding grace.  Within each chapter she shares practical tips for organization and cleanliness in your home, work place, and daily life.

Ley’s word pictures of her story battling perfectionism, infertility, and health issues, invited me into her home to sit down and have coffee.  Each chapter felt like sitting across the coffee table from a wise friend and rather than feeling tasked with another creative organization plan, I felt accompanied by a friend saying, “me too, girl.”

I loved Grace Not Perfection and found myself in a bit of a book rut upon completing it, because I felt nothing could compare as it offers the sweet embrace of a friend and practical insights to simplification and organization, woven amidst a story of grace.  Read full review…

10.) The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

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This was a refreshing beach fiction read for me.  The protagonists are a light keeper and his wife who find a baby washed ashore the light house and are lost as to what to do next.  This story was a page turner, interlaced with romance, suspense, history, and hard decisions.  I’ve not seen the movie but loved the book!

11.) Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

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In her own journey of seeing the sacred in the ordinary, Warren began to see the presence of God infiltrated in her every day life.  She began making her bed every morning as a practice of His presence.  A normal chore that is routine for many was the means by which she was reminded of her call in the Kingdom to create order, imaging God in a fallen and disordered world.

Warren highlights the sacredness of soup, sleep, and slowly sipping a cup of coffee, demonstrating that these facets of our lives no mater how ordinary or plain are integrally shaping as as spiritual beings nonetheless.  Read full review…

12.) Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

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Jennie’s story of feeling so unworthy and incapable facing a growing ministry refreshed my soul.  As she named fears and lies, I was able to name many of my own, both in ministry and as an individual.  That nagging, stabbing lie that knows precisely when to whisper and when to shout beneath all of our performance, “You are not enough.”

Jennie shared so bravely about many painful parts of her story, facing an eating disorder, wrestling with showing up as a pastor’s wife, walking with her sister through a divorce, and I was so thankful to be met by her humanity, authenticity, and struggle, rather than another read of why I should be more and do more.  I walked away from this book feeling less challenged and more like I had gained a new friend, while reframing my view of Jesus and all that He’s called me to.  Read full review…

13.) The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman

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Gloria Furman’s work Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is a message to all women who find themselves in the role of being a wife of someone in full time ministry.  She shares stories of times when many members of the congregation placed their expectations onto her to fulfill obligations she never imagined were hers, such as working to repair a leaking ceiling in the church foyer.  Furman and her husband pastor a church in the Middle East, thus gender roles are defined and experienced differently than in more Western environments; yet, Furman shares stepping into this role God has called her into with courage and care, especially as she has to work so tirelessly to protect her children and care for her husband who faces a muscular disorder.

Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is specifically helpful in honestly addressing many expectations pastor’s wives face with very specific anecdotes that help bring this tension to light.  Furthermore, Furman’s experience translates to a variety of global contexts for pastor’s wives in any part of the world.  On the other hand, Furman’s work is limited in directly addressing wives of pastors rather than all women in ministry and addressing wives from a very conservative context.  She addresses women in similar contexts to her own which prescribes a very small church with limited staff and extremely conservative gender roles.  Read full review…

14.) Rediscovering Church by Lynne & Bill Hybles

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Lynne and Bill Hybles share their story in detail of building Willow Creek Community Church from only a vision and dream.  The first half of Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church is composed by Lynne who begins with Bill and her first engagement that she broke off.  She shares of the two of them beginning their ministry together and Billy learning the gifts God had given him of teaching and leadership.  Lynne describes their journey of stepping out in faith to plant a church while both of them were only twenty-three years old.  She honestly shares the difficulties of this season of men coming to Bill stating they were about to lose all the collateral they had put on the line for the church, Bill trying to get out of debt by selling tomatoes door to door, a scandal in the church that split it in half, and the Lord protecting them from purchasing a condemned property.

Bill’s half of this work takes on less of a narrative form, but rather conveys his passion and zeal to see irreligious people become saints.  Bill also shares about times of incredible joy in watching the congregation of Willow Creek grow, make disciples, reach out to others, and give so generously.  He furthermore shares of difficult times and decisions as a leader, yet amidst every struggle and time of questioning of seeing God’s faithfulness.  Hybles consistently focuses on the importance of continuing to reach out to unbelievers and charging members of the congregation to do the same in order to see growth.  Read full review…

15.) Remember God by Annie F. Downs

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Should you stop reading here, just go ahead and order Annie F. Downs’ newest book.  I am a huge fan of Annie F. Downs as you can read in my reviews of her past two books (read more).  I love Annie’s works for her creativity, storytelling nature, sense of humor, admiration of Gilmore Girls, and love of glitter.

Remember God reaches into such darkness and so blessedly meets its readers there without any cliches of “choosing” to cling to any Truth or joy, but real and honest wrestling, hoping, believing, and remembering who He is and who He will be.  Read full review…

16.) Sex, Jesus, and The Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom

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This was my first ever coauthored review with my friend, Erin Moniz, M. Div. What we loved about Sex, Jesus, and The Conversations the Church Forgot was its honesty and candidness, specifically bringing into the light that Christian women struggle with pornography, masturbation, and sexual desires in general.  So many “struggles” of sexuality have been gendered as men’s issues in the Church, yet as Isom shares her story she openly reveals these are not only issues guys face and they are temptations girls are facing at extremely young ages.

I, (Erin here-) valued Isom’s explanation that sex in marriage is not a magic thing that comes together just because you followed the rules of purity culture.  While Isom lacks a full emphasis on how a theology of intimacy creates the way for success in marriage, she at least dispels this HUGE myth we are still trying to sell people.

Isom leads openly and honestly with her story throughout the text.  I (Emily Katherine) so valued her rawness and authenticity, yet this story driven nature sometimes led to theological points which drew me to check for her seminary education on the back of the book.  The story driven nature of Isom’s book to me (Erin) somewhat limited the issues that could be addressed by leaving out the narratives of victims of sexual abuse and narrowing the focus to one persons’ story, limiting the Church’s ability to respond with better conversations pertaining to sexuality.  The author takes so much personal responsibility for her struggle with sexual sin that she overlooks affects of her environment and family, perpetuating the Western narrative of private salvation overlooking the fullness of the message of the gospel which openly points to the effects of environment and generational sin, along with the Church’s role in sanctification.  Erin and I also discussed many students we counsel’s stories of sexuality include same sex attraction or wrestling with gender identity which were not even acknowledged as this book focuses on Isom’s story rather than issues of sexuality and Christianity as a whole.  Read full review…

17.) The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan

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This, too, was a beach fiction read.  The story of a couple who travel the world together to learn about life, generosity, and refinding one another is engaging and eye opening.  I will say, though, I found myself a little annoyed by the main character’s lack of appreciation for her husband… but overall well written and a good story!

18.) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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This, too, was a beach fiction read and I’m realizing I went to the beach more times in 2018 than I had previously thought.  I never read John Green’s first work every teenage girl freaked out about, A Star is Born, so I wanted to peak into the rage.  Turtles All the Way Down is an interesting, engaging story as a young teenage couple falls in love in the background of uncovering a murder mystery.  The protagonist embodies adolescent OCD precisely which did my Psychology heart good, but annoyed many friends I talked to about the book.


My 2019 list is underway and forever growing.  What did you read this year?


Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 1.57.56 PMMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of “Becoming” my Michelle Obama

I have always loved all things first lady.  When given the decision of which museum to visit in Washington D.C. I always have a hard time choosing any other than the Museum of American History to admire the dresses and pearls of each first lady.  I love the way their clothing embodies that era, both the economy in its elegance and the role that women played in the culture of our nation.  I grew up admiring Laura and Barbara’s poise, Jackie’s fashion, and Michelle’s courage.

I was excited for this read as I have admired Michelle Obama’s drive, ambition, sense of fashion, and extremely in shape upper body.  Countless friends were posting this, too, was their Christmas read.  I found myself surprised by Michelle’s talent as a writer with incredibly descriptive word choice and images that invited me into her small apartment in Chicago she grew up in and eventually invited me to the  White House, the home she gave everything to help her husband reach, which often felt so isolating.

This autobiography begins all the way back as a young girl finds her way through the school system of Chicago.  I learned many new facets of Michelle’s life including her father’s struggle with MS, her Ivy League education, law career, and that she and Barak met as she was his intern advisor one summer at their law firm.

Throughout Becoming, I enjoyed getting to know the Obamas as people, rather than figures, hearing about their first dates, arguments, differences, and struggles.  The book renewed my appreciation for so many individuals who are so committed to politics and change that they make countless sacrifices including time away from their family and regular public scrutiny.  It was interesting to learn of how the tragedies and successes of the United States of America specifically affected the home of the president and the conversation at the Obamas’ dinner table that followed.  Furthermore as Obama took office as I was just beginning high school, it was fascinating for me to relive the experiences of our nation as an adult, holding their weight a little more clearly.

In Becoming, I learned nuances to the United States presidency I had not previously known which I found incredibly interesting.  Specifically as the first lady, Michelle Obama shares of the difficulty of taking on a position with no job description, yet with countless expectations, commitments, and limitations.  Michelle shares of the burden when they learned Barak had won the presidency of finding a new school for her girls and just praying they would be seen and known as girls rather than their last name.  She shares of the fear of having to uproot themselves from just feeling settled when Barak was up for reelection for his second term.  Beyond any preconceived notions or caricatures, what I loved most in hearing about Michelle’s tenure as a first lady was the heart of a Mama who wanted the very best for her girls.

The book occasionally felt drawn out and long, yet Michelle interwove many of her anecdotes into later occurrences in her life.  She speaks openly and honestly of the challenges of often finding herself as the only black person in the room and the challenge the Obamas faced as a couple of not only representing themselves or their families, but the entirety of the community.

I felt welcomed by Michelle Obama to consider more deeply the uniqueness of my own story and how it has painted, shaped, and sculpted the person I am today.  I felt empowered to own the spaces I fill with confidence, but mostly authenticity.  Despite it’s length, I would greatly recommend this read.


Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 1.57.56 PMMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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Review of Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is one of my favorite speakers, teachers, and writers as she reaches between the gaps of psychology, work place culture, religion, and faith.  I have been an avid studier and reader of Brené for the past couple of years and have been taken aback by her influence of wisdom that seems to be penetrating every sphere, because no matter how successful our companies or missions are, they will always be filled with people.

So Brené steps up to the plate, equipping leaders of companies, organizations, churches, and movements both in positions of head leadership to midlevel with skills of how to have courageous conversation which she terms “rumbling.”  I learned of Dare To Lead at Catalyst Atlanta, a Christian leadership conference and was eager to read as I had read a number of Brené’s previous works.  In beginning Dare to Lead, I was honestly somewhat disappointed and curious if I would finish the book.  I found the first part of Brené’s work to be somewhat repetitive of previous works, just reapplied to the workplace.  I missed the stories and examples offered in Braving the Wilderness and The Gift of Imperfection which really gave the concepts she was describing flesh and bones.   Nevertheless, I persisted.

Speaking is about the uncontrollable, unconventional art of connection.

Wrapping up my first year of my full time, big girl position, in my first year of supervising direct reports, I kept reading to see what I could learn.  And the insights were endless.  Brené entered into the work place which can seem so institutionalized and cold sharing on shame, vulnerability, the need for connection, and ways to show up brave, bold, and honest.

She told stories of her work with various companies on the ideas of courage and connection including various military units, fuel companies, and countless other variations of companies internationally.  Yet, what struck me the most were her stories of taking what they teach and train into practice into their own companies through activities like having each person identify and share their 2 key values, why those are important to them, and how this evidences in their work.

Amidst each of these topics, Brené dives in deep on empathy.  She offers incredibly insightful do’s and don’t’s on entering into difficulty with people.  I found myself wanting to soak in every word she shared as I have personally been so built up by healthy empathy and so turned off and angered by unhealthy empathy, to the degree that I was at a local salad and sandwich restaurant when their computer system was down.  Naturally (because these kind of things always happen to me) I was the person in line ordering when everything crashed.  I found myself starting the narrative of “Of course this happened to me” and beginning to make a plan B then I begin to really see the girl across the counter from me.  Beneath her hat and brave face, her eyes were darting in every direction seeing all of the customers she needed to serve, unsure of how to respond in this moment.  So, I leaned in.  I heard Brené coaching me in my head on what to say and what to avoid.  Sure, I in no way fixed the situation but I was charged to be present with her in that moment of fear and panic.

A response can rarely make something better.  Connection is what heals.

Upon reading Dare to Lead I have found myself using skills Brené teaches right away in my work place, on my small teams and big ones, with my direct reports and with those I report to.  I have found myself seeing the people around me differently and as I value them more and lean into my curiosity, finding myself much more generous with them.  I have since recommended Dare to Lead to many due to its specific insight, relevant research, and challenging message that is vital to any company culture.

Vulnerability is the greatest casualty of trauma.


dalton-31My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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An open letter from a woman sitting in your service

There’s a road near my house that I call a highway, but considering the expanse of my small town, it’s probably more accurately deemed a road.  I live in a small town with many rivers that both surround and pass through our town. Thus, many destinations can only be traveled to by using one or two roads that go over the river, somewhat limiting the number of paths that can be taken when trying to get around town.

On my path home from work and the college where I minister, I take a road that goes behind the hospital and borders a levy which has recently been raised to prevent flooding with the high rise of the river.  On this very busy road for our small town, road work has created even more traffic, removing an entire lane as they repair some damages. Despite the congestion in this area and the delay, I still find myself taking this route home from work.  Every time I get there and a couple minutes, if not more, are added to my journey home I ask myself why I took this road. Why didn’t I choose to take another way over the river to get home? Why do I keep doing this and keep asking myself why?

But I think I travel taking the same turns and seeing the same sights because I leave work and head for home on autopilot, sometimes not even thinking, driving my car out of habit rather than mindfulness, muscle memory rather than striving to make the best decision.  And I think the Church has responded to women in many of the same ways and I have seen businesses do the same. As the Church, these bodies of people of which I know and love, we have moved forward seeking to glorify God, make disciples, and steward what has been entrusted to us often waking up to face each day in muscle memory rather than mindfulness, charging forward in tradition and familiarity, unfortunately overlooking the important steps to make the best choice.

We have reached a time when more women work outside of the home than ever before, women are more educated than ever before, and women are taking positions of leadership and power in every sphere except in many of our churches.  But we move forward in how we have always operated, forgetting to be sure sermon language accounts for women’s experiences, only using male pronouns in our sermons and prayers, and hosting entire worship experiences, in which, the only time a woman is invited on stage is to sing.

We charge forward in our churches, hosting weekly meetings where important decisions are made and under the table each and every decision maker’s shoes look the same.  No women are invited to the table. One in three homes are fatherless, yet the best answer women are offered in many traditions I am more acquainted with, when pursuing leadership is that their homes are represented by the man in their home who can serve as a deacon or elder.

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We consistently offer inadequate excuses as to why women are asked to serve in the discipleship of children and youth where they serve so faithfully, yet when an individual reaches 18 or older a woman no longer has the authority to teach or disciple them.  I have been told women are too busy focusing on their families to help teach an adult discipleship group. I have been told “we wouldn’t want to get near the line of women discipling men” in groups of predominantly women that men fluctuate in and out of. I have been told the place for this is in women’s ministry, yet many churches still do not have a women’s ministry or if they do, their leader can only reach the “director” level rather than minister level both in compensation and authority.  Furthermore, I have never experienced commentary on Biblical Manhood or discipleship of men to only be reserved for Men’s ministry.

I sit in your services every Sunday.  I listen to your sermons and read your books.  I am a woman in your seminary classes, pursuing equal education and reading the same textbooks.  I attend the same conferences, taking notes under the same speakers. And on Sunday mornings I almost always wait in line to use the restroom, while at ministry conferences I have almost never waited in line for a women’s restroom.

Even in writing this I am hearing messages I have been told.  I have been literally walked through how to “write an e-mail to a man” changing my complete thoughts into bullet points.  I have been groomed on how to carry myself in meetings with men or simply in entering their offices as I walk an unnecessarily delicate line as a woman walking in obedience to God’s calling in my life.

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So as I have been trained in these things, as I have been asked to teach on Sunday morning and stand to the side of the pulpit as to not take away from its sacredness due to my God-given gender, pastors would you do the work of mindfulness rather than traveling through your ministry on autopilot. Here are some bullet points of recommendations:

  • Be mindful of pronouns.

Consider using phrases like “men and women”, “individuals”, or “people” rather than only masculine pronouns in your message and teaching.

  • Include women in your leadership teams.

Hear their perspective on key decisions.  Women comprise over half of Church population, yet are rarely brought to the conference room table.  Look around at the shoes beneath your table and if they ever all look the same, be very concerned. Be sure that the woman who is best suited to contribute based on the matter at hand is brought to the table, not just someone’s wife to claim a woman was in the conversation.  

  •  If you are going to talk about manhood, talk about womanhood.

I have heard countless messages on Biblical masculinity, yet every message I have heard solely on womanhood has taken place in a context of only women.  And if you do preach on womanhood, be sure you run your exegesis of controversial passages by a woman whose theology you trust. If you do not know a woman whose theology you trust, be very concerned.

  •  Interact with women about your messages.

They may be able to offer insight, metaphors, and ideas you could have never come up with yourself.  Be sure this does not only include married women. People are marrying later in life and if your only examples of women are mothers, again many women in your church context will feel underrepresented in your sermon.  To stick to my guns, I shared this post with 5 men whose theology I trust to hear their feedback and perspective which reshaped key parts of my message.

  • Invite women on stage.

As a discipler of girls, each Sunday when no woman is seen reading the Bible, teaching, praying, sharing her testimony, or meaningfully serving in any way, feels extremely defeating when I am charging them to step up and claim their faith with authority.  Girls and newly believing women along with seasoned women of faith need examples of women walking in their faith and they need to see them serving meaningfully in worship experiences.

  • Meet with women.

I remember the first time I really understood that Jesus talked with women and it absolutely transformed my theology.  I have experienced ministers avoiding eye contact with me and creating countless boundaries with women; yet, Jesus creates a safe place to hear from and honor women.  Do not be afraid to meet with women and minister to them. There is an important difference between protecting women with your boundaries and communicating that their presence threatens your reputation. Communicate value by working together to create a forum for connection which protects both of you.


Despite how many times I take the same convenient road to my house and get caught in the same traffic, this does not make me a bad driver.  In the same way, emulating the examples you were given and obeying the instruction you were offered does not make you a bad pastor and minister.  While there are incredible strides to be made in how the Church stewards women, this is not to negate your incredible commitment and duty to the church you shepherd, often making sacrifices so many will never see or know.

But there are steps of mindfulness and inclusion which as we work together can help us more effectively represent and disciple the entirety of the Kingdom.

So let’s get the conversation started and learn together.  Please share your thoughts below!


women's blogMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of “Gay Girl, Good God” by Jackie Hill Perry

G I V E A W A Y 

Enter to win a free copy of Gay Girl, Good God!

I had the privilege of hearing Jackie Hill Perry speak this year as she travelled to share with a group of college students I get to do life with.  I was unfamiliar with Jackie and her work but very quickly taken aback by her craft.  She is extremely gifted in creatively wielding words to communicate a beautiful message.  I found this talent to be all the more evident in the pages of her book.  (Hearing her speak though, I was a little distracted by my concern that she would give birth at any second, but we made it through.)

Gay Girl, Good God.  This title captured my attention, knowing Jackie’s story in part, but knowing all the more how often I sit across the table in restaurants and coffee shops from students in my ministry who face a similar battle.  I shared with a friend recently that I am not quite sure why, but I have found myself to be a common confidant for those who are attracted to the same sex.  While this has never been a part of my story, I have found it an incredible honor to hold these precious people’s stories, hearts, wrestlings, fears, and frustrations.  While I hold this privilege, I have also held a lack of resources.  To know me well is to have been recommended a book by me, and I found this topic of Christianity and homosexuality to be limited in its scope of resources and all the more limited in individuals who would speak out about it.  And along came Jackie.

Breaking the mold of other books I had read which took an empirical approach, presenting data and family systems patterns from their research, Perry’s work simply reveals her own story.  She shares with great rawness the realities of same sex attraction, gender identity, body distortion, and sexual assault.  Amidst her rawness, I was consistently taken back by the beauty of her poetic word choice and language, presenting the power of nonfiction with the presentational beauty of a fictional work.

“I found my power to resist sin as feeble as a toddler trying to hold back a hurricane.”

Laced with vivd word pictures and humorous descriptions, Perry’s Gay Girl, Good God illuminates real parts of the balancing act of same sex attraction and Christianity.  She speaks of the fear of leaving the gay community, unsure of a true sense of family and identity she would find elsewhere.  Perry speaks boldly in the direction of Christian culture’s disservice both to same sex attracted individuals and singles as the Church often worships heterosexual marriage more than God and His true calling.  Perry boldly charges the Church to stop ostracizing these people, admit the reality of their struggles, show them community, accept marriage may not be their end goal, and do not let them settle for loneliness.

“I had believed when God looked at me, He was first looking to see a wife and then a disciple.”

Perry reveals in Gay Girl, Good God,  that her earnest conviction is the sinfulness of homosexuality.  Thus, her surrender experience led to her abandoning a homosexual lifestyle and over time eventually marrying a man.  This conviction is one which greatly polarizes evangelicals sometimes leading us to incredible conversations and sometimes to extremely hurtful ones.

No matter one’s view on Christianity and homosexuality, Perry’s presentation of the reality of her experience is not to be overlooked.  Furthermore, her experience of coming to know Christ and eventually entering a heterosexual marriage is not to be the goal for all who experience same-sex attraction.  Many of those individuals, should they choose to forgo a homosexual lifestyle, will enter a life of singleness, of which the Church must rise to the occasion to minister to.

Perry’s work is real, raw, compelling, honest, and a great launching point for the Church to enter significantly more honest conversations regarding same sex attraction, specifically in conservative Christian circles.


dalton-31My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of “Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human” by John Mark Comer

Working in vocational ministry, I often feel like I have heard many of the messages on the purpose of work and rest more times than I can count.  Yet, John Mark Comer, author and pastor in Portland, Oregon deviates from these common messages, offering new insights on key passages in Scripture which reshape a Christian perspective on work and rest.

Many of my students (especially those with a deep passion for nerding out to theology) have told me to check out John Mark Comer and his books.  Upon completing Garden City, I attended Catalyst in Atlanta, GA and was blown away by John Mark Comer’s eloquence, relatability, and immense intelligence.  This work is enlightening, practical, and creatively constructed.

Rest and the Brain (1)

Comer magnifies the two bookends of Scripture to piece together his thesis on work and rest.  He narrows in on key aspects of the Garden of Eden and God’s original calling and commandment for man and woman. He furthermore explains the concept of the “Garden City” to come or the New Jerusalem and how our lives will take shape in this future Kingdom.  Between the two of the Shalom that was and the Shalom that is to come, Comer offers a Biblical perspective of the role of work and rest in our lives and how we often convolute them.

“In a Genesis shaped worldview, all of life is worship.”

Garden City narrows in on the line we often draw between the “sacred” and the “secular.”  Placing one on a pedestal, demoting the other to menial.  Yet, John Mark Comer juxtaposes this predisposition with the life of Jesus who entered intimately into the secular and mundane in the fullness of the sacredness and glory of God.

“Sometimes a calling is staring us straight in the face.  We just need to make eye contact.”

He furthermore focuses on the idea of vocation and calling, a conversation many Millennials have wrestled with for most of our young adult lives, trying to pinpoint what exactly is our dream and how to go after it, especially when we are grappling with whether or not our dream lines up with God’s dream for our lives.  Comer explains that we, as image bearers of the Creator, are charged with the task of creating culture.  In this, I was taken aback by his relatability offering countless examples of avenues of work which can be worshipful whether its mothering, nursing, fashion design, hospitality, teaching, event planning, or marketing.

“Jesus’ way of living is about a seamless integration of life where the polarization of sacred and secular is gone.  All of our life is full immersion in what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.”

“If Image of God is every person’s job title, then cultural mandate is what we are actually supposed to do.”

Furthermore, Comer offers an unpopular charge to believers on our commandment to rest.  He elevates the role of our humanness and our limitations to remind us to take time to slow, savor, and taste and see that the Lord is good.  He highlights how Jesus modeled such rest and slowness in His life, while carrying in Him the fullness of God.

“Figure out what the work is God gave you to do and learn the art of saying no to good things.”

“Both underwork and overwork rob us of the capacity to enjoy God and His world.”

I highly recommend this read to all believers, specifically those wrestling with calling, work and life balance, or the Biblical call to rest.

Rest and the Brain

I will disclaim that Comer offers an interesting perspective on the ethics of military combat.  Some may be taken aback by this as I was at first as the daughter of a soldier, but don’t miss the main message at hand.


Thanks for stopping by!

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 1.57.56 PMMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of “Remember God” by Annie F. Downs

Should you stop reading here, just go ahead and order Annie F. Downs’ newest book.  I am a huge fan of Annie F. Downs as you can read in my reviews of her past two books (read more).  I love Annie’s works for her creativity, storytelling nature, sense of humor, admiration of Gilmore Girls, and love of glitter.

But this book.  I mean I wasn’t ready.

Knowing Annie, I knew I would love it.  I knew I would get caught up in her stories that are all too relatable then suddenly find myself wrecked by the profound truth she draws out of them.  I knew I would relate, but I never imagined the depths.

God, are you always kind?

This is the question Annie F. Downs whispers in her heart amidst an extremely dark season.  Interestingly enough, a very dark season that aligned perfectly with the timing of my deepest of griefs.  Remember God walks readers through Annie F. Downs journey of wrestling, questioning, and looking around to find God in the darkest of places, seeking with her whole heart to continue to believe that He is good and kind.

And oh is it honest.

“I’m tired of cliches that are just tweetable enough for me to feel like I can’t be sad about what I’m feeling.”

Amidst her journey of wrestling and darkness, she describes a battle with depression, disordered eating, and singleness with such rawness.

I was able to grab an early access audio version of Remember God, which Annie herself read.  And by read, I mean she wept through a majority of the pages, because this season of fighting to believe that God is kind, was just so real.

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And I get it.  I get it and I know it, and I lived it at the very same time Annie was.  The darkness and emptiness she describes, the wondering if you can even get out of bed the next day, is not a battle Annie faced that I read about, but a real journey of my own, speaking Jesus’ name in the darkness just hoping to believe His name somehow still has power, even when I had been really let down.

Remember God reaches into such darkness and so blessedly meets its readers there without any cliches of “choosing” to cling to any Truth or joy, but real and honest wrestling, hoping, believing, and remembering who He is and who He will be.


Thanks for stopping by!

dalton-31My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.