Rhythms of Rest

rhythms-of-restI haven’t been blogging much recently, but I did want to mention a book that I received this month from Bethany House: Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller.

I’ve read several books on Sabbath and rest, but it was time for another. Things have been a bit busy in my life recently as I adjust to homeschooling my eldest along with other responsibilities. Sabbath, and setting apart time for rest is so important, especially when things are busy.

As I began reading, I couldn’t quite figure out what genre this book was – I mean, I knew that it was a Christian book, but was it memoir-style or a biblical look at Sabbath, or both?  Shelly writes from her own experiences, shares snippets from others’ lives, and uses Scripture to look at Sabbath.

I felt as if she was talking to me as I was reading, and I loved that – almost as if we were sitting together drinking some tea. The only thing I had trouble with is trying to figure out the overall structure of the book. I tend to be a pretty structured person and I do best when things are laid out in an organized fashion, and this book wasn’t that for me. However, I could’ve just missed it – I did read it rather quickly, and I would like to re-read it at some point.

All in all, I found this to be an easy, encouraging read.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty

delilah Somehow, in the middle of my two-week grad class, I read this novel: Angela Hunt’s Delilah: Treacherous Beauty. I enjoyed reading it as a wind-down before bed.

This novel  flips back and forth between the story of Samson and the story of Delilah. Samson is a judge from the book of Judges in the Bible and this book is a fictionalized account of his life. I was more drawn to the story of Delilah, perhaps because I am a woman, but I did like how the story was told through two different perspectives.

I’ve often wondered about Delilah and what led her to make the choice she did. Hunt does give one possible backstory,  I really can’t decide if I think Hunt’s version is believable or not. Delilah as a person disappointed me – in the Bible, and in this novel. I don’t like being annoyed with the heroine. Perhaps Delilah’s betrayal seemed to come out of nowhere, or maybe I was not reading the clues.

I’m not sure that this would make a good book club book, but I did enjoy reading it as a break from my heady textbooks.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Reaching Millennials (Wait, I’m a Millennial!)

reaching millenialsI found it rather amusing to read a book entitled Reaching Millennials: Proven Methods for Engaging a Younger Generation, when I myself am a millennial. David Stark, is spot-on, however. I didn’t find any of the information or ideas particularly new to me, most likely because of my age. I will definitely have to find an older person to pass this on to, as Stark does express his ideas effectively.

I am always a skeptic when I start reading books like this – especially books that have words like “reach” in the title. “Oh great, another book about how to have elaborate programs so that people will come into a church building.” This is not a book about programs or simply about getting people to come into a church building. (Thankfully!) Stark points out that there is no one-size-fits-all model. The job of a leader is to figure out what a model that fits their particular context (place and time). What worked in the 50s in the neighborhood is not going to be so relevant now.

The biggest phrase or idea that sticks out to me is “How can we make it easy for people to come to faith?”  Not to say that faith or discipleship is easy, but what are things about the HOW we do church or build relationships that keep people from faith?  I know plenty of people that say that they love Jesus, but have been burned by the church, and that is terrible.

I love how Stark ends: “God is the one who draws people to faith, and our job is to love and engage them, not draw them.”  It really is about God.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.



Becoming a Disciple Making Church

Idisciple making church have been thinking about disciples and disciple-making recently, and then this book fell into my lap (or, my mailbox): Neil Anderson’s Becoming a Disciple Making Church: A Proven Method for Growing Spiritually Mature Christians. I am having a hard time coming up with an overarching opinion about it, so I think I will just describe some of the things I loved and disliked.

Things I love about this book:

  • Anderson writes from his experience, and he has plenty of it. Recently I’ve tired of reading books from authors in my generation, because we are missing the longitudinal view.
  • Anderson points out that we as people all have things that we have to work through, and leaders are not exempt. He writes “We can’t impart to others what we don’t posses ourselves” (p.28). I have seen this to be true in my parenting. I can’t expect to teach my children patience if I am frequently yelling at them to hurry up. And leaders in the church can’t expect to lead others towards a transforming relationship with Christ if they themselves have not been changed. Being a leader is more than just being able to manage programs and preach a sermon.


  • Anderson could do with less talk about how his Steps to Freedom program has helped people. I’m sure it has helped people, but I almost felt as if he was trying to sell me something. And, really, God should get the credit, not some special formula that Anderson came up with.
  • How would a trained counselor or therapist read this book? Is it a balanced perspective between psychology and theology?

What is going to stick with me:

  • “Wounds that are not healed are transferred to others” (p. 47). So true.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Daring Greatly

daring greatly I just finished listening to Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I think I want to read it again, for myself. It was that good. I don’t want to miss anything. 6 a.m. is a little early to be listening to an audiobook.

The problem with Audiobooks is that I can’t flip through them to refresh my memory. I can’t pull out any quotations or summarize terribly well.

But, I will say that reading this book caused me to re-examine my own battles with vulnerability and shame. Brown writes of courage. And oh, how I’m growing in courage. I’m trying new things (knitting for starters). I’m meeting new people (hard for me as an introvert). I’m not shrinking away from hard things (taking my toddler and newborn to the grocery store).  I have by no means, however, become courageous all the time. I still hide from difficulty and social awkwardness and the possibility of failure.

Brown‘s work encouraged me to continue to walk in courage, to acknowledge my vulnerability, and to stop hiding from myself and my life. I love how she shares from her research AND her personal life – making the research more palatable, and normalizing my experiences.

Check out her TED Talk on Youtube about vulnerability here.



Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

For much of my life, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting more training in counseling. Now is really not the time for me to pursue any sort of formal education (new baby, buying a farm), so books will have to suffice.

instruments I recently finished Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. It is a large book, and not necessarily easy reading (I could not read while feeding a baby or playing with a toddler), but so so insightful. I do want to read it again, or at least read through all the parts I underlined.

Tripp shares stories from his experiences as a professional counselor, as well as strategies for people involved in personal ministry. The thing I love most about this book is that it is not just written for professional counselors, although they may find it helpful, but for all Christians – since we are all involved in relationships with each other.

Reading with a Newborn

davidandrubyRuby Joy arrived and she has been such a gift to us! We are obviously still adjusting to being a family of four. For me, this means adjusting to a strange sleep schedule with a lot of late-night-feedings. Besides listening to podcasts and just snuggling with my baby girl, I have enjoyed reading on my phone with the Kindle app. I’ve been reading through Kristen Welch’s Don’t Make Me Come Up There: Quiet Moments for Busy Moms. I think at some point in the past year I had snatched up the copy while it was free.

dontmakemecomeup Kristen is hilarious. She blogs at We are THAT Family.  I don’t understand how she gets into so many predicaments as a mom! As she tells her stories, she connects them to her faith walk and what Jesus is teaching her. Each story snippet also includes a Scripture verse and brief prayer. And the best part – each chapter is short enough to read while I’m waiting for Ruby to finish burping or filling her diaper.

The Art of Neighboring

Some of you may know that Josiah and I recently purchased a farm, and will most likely be moving before summer. This is an interesting time to be reading a book about neighbors, but I did just finish The Art of Neighboring: Building Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon (it was on my book list for 2014).

Art-of-Neighboring  I loved reading all of Pathak & Runyon’s stories from their experiences with their neighbors. They shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, along with some tips & suggestions.

Perhaps the thing I found the most refreshing was their focus on motives. Christians can sometimes start connecting with people with a sort of hidden motive of “converting” their new friends. Pathak & Runyon have this to say: “In short, you need not make your neighbors your ‘pet project’; make them your friends. You simply need to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and body, and love your neighbor as yourself.. . . The goal is to faithfully tell your story, God’s story. Then listen to their story and ask God to lead you” (p. 116).  The pressure is off – for you and your neighbors.

I’m looking forward to getting to know my new neighbors. It’ll be a little different. . . more farmers and less families. I’m thankful for how David often breaks the ice and helps my introverted self initiate conversations. :)


Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

I received Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus for Christmas and now, after reading it, I have a lot to think about.

givethemgraceFitzpatrick and Thompson give a refreshing picture of parenting: “When God calls our children to come to him, even if we haven’t gotten it all right, even if we’ve trained little Pharisees or have a house full of prodigals, nothing is impossible for him. He can break through all our flawed methods and redeem all our frail errors” (p. 77).  All too often I put too much responsibility on myself for the choices David makes; there is no magic formula for guaranteeing his obedience.  This book is not just about giving our children grace, but about giving ourselves as parents grace.


Although I really appreciate the message that Fitzpatrick and Thompson presented, I was a little annoyed at one part of their work:  their example conversations when training and disciplining your children.  The explanations seemed so long!  Perhaps my annoyance is because I am currently parenting a toddler and I try to make my instructions as short as possible.  Or, maybe it is because I just finished reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block and 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, both of which emphasize the importance of being succinct when speaking to children. Either way, this is only a small part of the book, and the rest of the book had a lot of wonderful things to say.

I have a lot to learn about the richness of grace. Grace for me and my family – when things are going smoothly, and when I want to scream. Grace for people who hurt me, and grace for me when I hurt others. I thought I was going to read a book about parenting, but this is a lot broader than that. I shouldn’t be surprised!



Toxic Charity

If I owned this book, it would be all-marked-up.

toxic charity Robert Lupton, in Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It), tells stories of how well-meaning individuals and organizations hurt the people that they were trying to help. Fortunately, he doesn’t just talk about the problems. (Because, really, I don’t want to ignore the poor – that’s not helpful either!)  He gives some advice and shares stories of ways to effectively minister to people in need.

Lupton differentiates between a chronic poverty need, and a crisis need.  He writes that “When we respond to a chronic need as though it were a crisis, we can predict toxic results: dependency, deception, disempowerment.”  We should be responding to both types of need – for example chronic homelessness AND homelessness due to a crisis such as a fire – but we need to respond differently for each situation.

I appreciated the personal stories he shared from his life and experience. He told the story of how his church changed from doing a clothing giveaway program to a family thrift store, and how people who used to receive free clothing are now employed at the store and able to buy what they need. I don’t think that giveaways are always wrong, but I do see how there are other options that can help in greater ways.

I’m still thinking through a lot of what he wrote, and perhaps I won’t agree with everything he said. He does have years of experience in community development work, however, and a lot of what he said seems to ring true, especially after I read The Poor Will Be Glad. I do want to read more on this topic, however, and I noticed that the library also has When Helping Hurts.