15 books I read in 2015

So I am not really a reader.  It feels really weird for me to review books or to recommend them.  But for those of you who are and are much more faithful to read books even when you aren’t forced to, here are 15 books I read this past year!

(All titles are links to purchase the books on Amazon.  Books sorted in alphabetic order.)

  1. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected ; Kayla Aimee
    Find my review of Anchored here.Anchored
  2. Cinderella Ate My Daughter ; Peggy Orenstein
    I will admit, I had to read this for a class or probably never would have unless I somehow came across the sparkly cover.  There were parts of this book I hated and a few when I was really discouraged, but seeing this book through the eyes of a mom who  is concerned about the world her daughter is growing up in is so beneficial.  Great book for anyone interested in thinking about “girlhood” in a new light. Cinderella Ate my daughter
  3. Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer ; Priscilla Shirer

    Find my review of Fervent here.

  4. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls–Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins ; Leonard Sax
    This book also falls into the category of books I had to read for class, but I am so thankful I did.  Dr. Sax writes this book both for parents and for any helping professionals who work with girls (e.g. teachers, pastors, counselors, etc.).  What I love about this book is that Dr. Sax not only elaborates on problems in girl world, he also offers solutions.
    girls on the edge
  5. Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have; Annie Downs
    (Taken from my RESOURCES page)
    So I kind of had a girl crush on Annie when I listened to a sermon by her on singleness and found her at a conference in Nashville, TN. We talked about nail polish and she was super cool so I bought her book.  I am not the type to read a book all the way through in anything shorter than a couple years (if I ever finish), but I read this one in a month.  I felt like I was sitting and having coffee with Annie throughout every chapter.  It’s great. Read it.
  6. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World ; Bob Goff
    Where do I begin? I had this book for a long time and knew I needed to read it then finally did and I only wished I had read it sooner.  Bob Goff’s story is so cool, but hearing the lessons that he has learned throughout his life was both fun and inspiring.  Just read it, okay?
    Love Does
  7. Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus ; Tindell Baldwin
    I’ll admit, I was skeptical about this one, as I am about any thing with the subtitle “Boys, Booze, and Jesus”.  Tindell Baldwin is Kristian Stanfill’s (Vocalist and Guitarist, Passion Band) sister, who had a hard time growing up in his shadow or her family’s shadow in general.  In this book, she shares her experience of choosing boys, choosing booze, and eventually choosing Jesus.  We used this book for my high school girls’ small group and while they weren’t the best about reading it (surprise, surprise ;), Tindell’s vulnerability in this book lead to great and authentic discussions.  Also, she’s agreed to meet with us in March so STAY TUNED!
  8. Salvaging My Identity ; Jennifer Mills & Rachel Lovingood
    My focus this summer was on Identity in Christ so I was on the lookout for any and all resources.  I loved the simplicity of this book that spoke to me at a 8th grade girl level (I feel so understood there). I also loved the format that was only 2-4 pages and an easy yet encouraging way to start my day! I sent this to all my middle school girl small group moms as a good read for middle school girls over the summer!
    Salvaging my identity
  9. So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids ; Diane Levin
    This also falls in the category of a book for class, but don’t lose sight there!  This book was extremely eye-opening but also frightening as I saw the rampant effects of hyper sexualization in children, 7 years ago, not to mention the rampant effects today. If you have a kid, work with kids, or know a kid, I would read this. But, be aware, you will get weird looks in coffee shops.
  10. The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance ; John Trent & Gary Smalley 
    I was a little hesitant to share this one, but the message and understanding of the importance of unconditional love from parents is so good. If you work with anyone who tells you about things they’re struggling with, this book provides a great lens of understanding the roles parents sometimes play in those scars.
    The blessing
  11. The Elements of Counseling ; Scott Meier & Susan Davis
    Good bookshelf book for anyone working in the counseling realm.
  12. The Four Loves ; C.S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis unpacks the 4 types of love in Greek that are used in the New Testament.  He simplifies huge ideas with lots of fun stories along the way.
    4 loves
  13. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming ; Henri Nouwen
    I think the Prodigal Son is a story I could read every day and get something new out of it every time.  This narrative is all about Nowen’s interaction with Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and highlights so many perspectives through which to interact with the grace of the Father in this parable.
  14. The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures and Conflicting Expectations ; Stephen Hinshaw 
    This book explains and summarizes so well the challenges of girl world, but is written like a Psychology paper and can be kind of hard to get through.
    triple bind
  15. Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ ; Mark Driscoll
    As far as Identity in Christ resources go, I really enjoyed how this book and sermon series discuss Identity in Christ based on the book of Ephesians.

    What’s your favorite book you read this year?

Waiting, Hoping, Needing- ADVENT

I grew up in a church that celebrated Christmas very well.  Trust me, I had my fair share of experiences climbing out of a window wearing 20 pound wings to play the archangel in the live nativity- still a little bitter I never got to be Mary.  We packed shoe boxes for kids overseas and gave Christmas presents to families in our home town.  One time, the Grinch even came to AWANA.  I was so afraid of him, my leader had to take me to my mom.  But amidst all of this, there is one thing we never celebrated. One thing that brings so much more meaning to Christmas- ADVENT.

I had such a small idea of what this word meant that when I came to college I wasn’t completely sure if that was even a Christian thing to celebrate.  Oh but the beauty it interweaves into a quiet night in Bethlehem.

I knew about the Shepherds, the virgin Mary, the manger, the stable, etc. but what I had not pieced together was just how long God’s people had waited for this moment.  Generations of generations of Israelites had spent their whole lives hoping and trusting the Messiah would come.  Through the difficult times of wandering in the wilderness, of slavery in Egypt, of captivity in Babylon, they continued to place their hope in this one day.  This one moment when “Christ the Savior is born.” 

This story, this picture is so much more than a baby being born in a stable.  It is the fulfillment of prophecies and hopes of God’s people for preceding centuries.

And in the same way that they hoped and believed in the prophecies of the coming Messiah, we too wait for Christ’s return.  We long in times of unrest, in times of infertility, in times of terrorism, in times of loneliness, in times of doubt, in times of poverty, in times of hopelessness, in times of fear.  We long for the coming of the Savior to fulfill what we have hoped for from generation to generation.


I’ve been learning a good deal recently about the idea of waiting and longing, because honestly I don’t think we get it in today’s society.  We are not a people who have planted seeds and waited for a harvest.  We are a people who buy an app and it instantly downloads to our phones.  We have no clue how to wait and how to long.  I even reached the point of not being sure of how to interact with God when I have consistently prayed for something and that need has gone unmet.

How do I invite You into a pain I know You can heal?

I haven’t been able to answer that question yet.  But I do see that there is purpose in waiting, hoping, and believing.  When we think of stories in scripture of people waiting and hoping for what they were praying for, we think of how God met that need, but we in doing this we overlook the period of time when they were hurting and hopeless, unsure of God’s response.

I think of Hannah in 1 Samuel praying for a son.  She had prayed for so long and found herself at her wit’s end of waiting so she went to the Temple to pray where she was praying with such passion that the priest thought she was drunk.  How we have lost this art of waiting.

Over the past few days I’ve been able to help a friend with her newborn baby.  Oh my gosh is she the sweetest thing! But also, she has brought so many truths to mind for me about who we are and how we’re created.

I went into the room 2 hours after she was born and in her first few hours of being alive I was realizing that up until this point she has never felt hunger, never felt cold, or never felt scared.  Her every need had been met and provided for her.  She’s never had to work to be full, she’s just been full.  She’s never had to be wrapped in blankets to be warm, she’s just been warm.

And what our Gracious Father has taught me through this frail, beautiful thing is that we weren’t created for this.

  The space and tension that we feel between the things we hope for and the things we receive is the very space that proves to us that He has set eternity in our hearts.  Our longing to be whole and to be satisfied are what propel us to crave His arrival and His return.

Thus I come back to this idea that is so hard for me to swallow- Our every longing draws us back to the feet of Jesus.  This sweet baby I have been able to hang out with, of course cannot meet her own needs.  She can’t hold her head up on her own yet, better yet provide food for herself, clean herself, protect herself, or wrap herself in a blanket.  She is born utterly dependent on her parents.

In the same way, we are not satisfied.  At times we are lonely, hopeless, depressed, hurting, and empty and Christmas has a weird way of reminding us of that.  And in the same way that a baby needs her parents to keep her warm, fed, and safe, we need our Father, our Shepherd, our Provider to hold us and keep us.

So my prayer this Christmas is to feel the longing and the hoping for the arrival of our Messiah to enter into the hurt of unfulfilled expectations and believe that He is crafting hope and purpose.  And to embrace more than ever that He is IMMANUEL- God with us.