TopBooks I Read in 2016 – linkup

Here’s to the books I read through in 2016. If this was a list of all the books I started…and am still ‘in process’ on it would be much longer. I tend to read a fair amount of non-fiction and since they are usually things I need to ponder for a bit, they get left on the side for a bit. I also have a very bad habit of finding books that others mention and adding it to my Kindle right away…so I get distracted from what I’m reading at that moment and find myself diving into something else.

These are some of the books that I will be holding on to to read again:

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by [Cron, Ian Morgan, Stabile, Suzanne]
This was one of the best written books on the Enneagram I’ve come across. I read it in a week and now have gone back to read it again, underlining and making notes. Cron indicates that he wanted to make a ‘primer’ about the Enneagram and it is accessible and a key resource for those wanting to know more about personality and what makes others function as they do. I don’t normally read books that EVERYONE is talking about, but this peaked my interest. It will be on my bookshelf for a long while.


I first read about this book on ‘Book of the Month’. It ended up being a good price so I downloaded it since I was intrigued. This book BLEW MY MIND. Seriously. I took English Literature in University, I have read countless books and at the end of Part One, the author dropped a bombshell and I didn’t see coming at all. I was appalled that I hadn’t picked it up. I didn’t know if I should finish the rest of the book since I had assumed so much in the first part. It was a difficult second part, going into the reasons behind many of the choices made in part one, and when I finished I shook my head. I still couldn’t believe I fell for the assumptions she lures you into creating in your head. Skillful written, this is a mystery writer that doesn’t use a predictable outline, but instead leaves the reader blindsided several times.
All the Pretty Things: The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went through Fire to Find Her Way Home by [Wadsworth, Edie]
I believe this book was recommended by Emily Freeman as one of the best books she had read in one of her end of the month summations. I didn’t know of Edie or anything about her story. It was stunning, in a good and awful way. Edie lived a very difficult life growing up, and even in recent years has been through many tragic circumstances. The byline of her book states “the story of a Southern Girl who went through fire to find her way home” and indeed there is a refining aspect to this story, but also such redemption as well.  I am so thankful for Edie’s willingness to share so vulnerably about her life growing up, as well as the challenges she has faced in more recent life. An excellent memoir.

This beautiful compilation contains the writing of many people who are near and dear to my heart. It is marketed as ‘Stories of redemption’ and indeed the stories are quite vulnerably shared, and yet full of such hope. I believed in this project for a long time, and am a fierce supporter of Cara and her writing, so was beyond excited to see the book come to fruition. The stories shared within resonated deeply with me. Some of the individuals I had heard from before, and others were new to me. There were some voices that I decided to read more from after reading their excerpt in this book. The chapters are short and each story stands alone.


Keep Quiet by [Scottoline, Lisa]

There is a reason that Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author. She writes a great thriller. This story was masterfully woven together and the end was fascinating. I had anticipated that things were not as they seemed, but it was interesting to see her bring it all together. I will definitely be reading more from her.
Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by [Reay, Katherine]
This is another one of those books that had EVERYONE talking. I believe it was Reay’s first or second novel. It is her take on Pride and Prejudice and wonderfully done. I loved that it was composed of letters detailing her journeys. I love the way that it all came together in the end. It was masterfully done in her own unique way. This is another novel that I believe I will find myself reading again soon.

Linking up over a Kate’s with what we’ve read this year.




Top Fifteen of 2015

How does one keep track of what they read all year…well many ways (looking back through Facebook feed, Twitter, what I’ve written in my journal…or the quotes I save on Instagram) for this post it was the latter. I have 11 pages in Microsoft Word of the quotes I copied down this year into Instagram.

So I thought I’d share the top 15 that really hit me hard. They are all connected to blog posts (or books).

  1. Healing happens when we are finally ready to be made well.
    Jenny Simmons

  2. I let myself cry, this is sorrow. And after the wave passes, grief comes in, like a lifeline. Because grief is love and remembering and moving forward. Grief is a companion. I will not be full of sorrow forever, but I will carry grief…there is a difference between sorrow and grief. I choose grief most days, but sometimes sorrow runs right through me. On those days, I can’t shake it… Grief is comforting me. I don’t need it prayed or shooed away. I don’t need help out of my grief. I think this is the hardest thing for non-grievers to understand. My grief is love. My grief is sacred. When I am fully present in my grief, I find that is when the healing is done.
    Micheala Evanow (Instagram)
  3. We like to talk more about the testimony of yesterday than the valley of today.
    Lore Ferguson Wilbert
  4. Show up as yourself, every chance you get.
    – Tamara Lunardo (Facebook)
  5. God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life, so if you want in Gods business , you better prepare to follow God to all the rock-bottom, scorched-earth, dead-on-arrival corners of this world – including those in your own heart – because that’s where God works, that’s where God gardens.
  6. I am broken, and loved anyway. He redeems it all.
    Alia Joy
  7. Sometimes God rescues us from the life we’ve always wanted, and we end up with the life we were made for.
    Shannan Martin
  8. Sometimes brokenness is part of the birthing.
    Annie Barnett
  9. Everyone has scars that help tell the stories of their lives. 
    Hilary Yancey
  10. The agenda of my opinion is a crucifiable thing.
    Seth Haines
  11. There is something curious that happens when you allow fear to become your editor. Your entire being becomes heavy with untold stories. You filter dialogue and take care with opinion. Eventually, you just stop speaking all together.
    Elora Ramirez
  12. Redemption comes when we least expect it and exactly when we need it the most.
    – Kristen Welch (Rhinestone Jesus)
  13. Listen. Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life? 
    – Mary Oliver (Goodreads)
  14. You love as well as you are willing to be inconvenienced.
    Ann Voskamp
  15. Until you take the time to take your fears and replace them with faith, your brave is nothing but a word that you say in conversation instead of a word that is your action.
    Mary Geisen (Passage of Grace)

#fmfpartysnailmail Linkup – Encouragement

you are loved
It takes about an hour and a half to get there. Along the way, the usual twists and turns present themselves to me. But as I get closer to my destination there are secret messages that I find displayed.

Driving under an over past I see ‘I love you’ scrawled in graffiti marks, and my heart quickly skips a beat. There are several other encouraging messages scrawled on subsequent bridges but this is the one that lingers.

The next day, before heading to the funeral, I take myself down to the water’s edge. Water has always had a cathartic effect on me, and I know that today is a day that I can use its comforting. I make my way to a park I’ve previously never set foot on. Its the middle of a weekday and I’m surprised to see several people on the foot path and fishing off the pier. My eyes land on the sand along the shore and I make my way to the waters edge. I spend some time in prayer, seeking God’s peace as I anticipate the sadness and mourning to come. I take a moment to walk along the waters edge.

Stepping carefully around remnants of sandcastles and lake refuse left on the shore, I stumble upon a message scrawled earlier in the sand. ‘I love you’ it declared in vibrant, upper-case letters. My soul that had been so thirst for a word from God drank in these words and I took a picture to memorialize it.

Posting it on facebook, I hoped that the words would also bring hope and a bit of joy to those who viewed it.

After attending the funeral, I made my way back along the driving corridor from where I had come. Stopping off to get a drink and to take a bit of a walk, I checked my Facebook messages and saw one from a dear soul sister. Opening it up, my heartbeat began to quicken. And tears came to my eyes, and a couple escaped and made their way down my cheeks.

There in written form was a message that she said God had whispered to her waiting heart, and it was directly for me. I was attending a retreat in a couple of days. Gathering together with sisters to seek the Lords face in a quiet state park and I wasn’t sure what I was going for, but community and peace in the midst of nature called my name. My dear sister in the Lord shared with me that God had directly spoken to her words that needed to be shared with my heart.

The words – – YOU.ARE.LOVED.

and my friend referenced the fact that when she had heard that word from the Lord she had pondered it deep, and upon checking her own Facebook feed and seeing my post about the words written in sand, she had felt compelled to share those words with my heart.

I made my way to the retreat. Gathering together with several sisters who had been previously unknown to me, but who soon came to be near and dear. A weekend seeking the Lord and waiting to hear from Him can do that for you. And as we indulged in playing with our art journal’s on Saturday my heart was full with all the things that God was speaking to my heart. I had several amazing conversations where He was just pouring out his love and healing in my life. Sunday morning dawned, and sadly we were going to each make our way home. As we celebrated in worship, I felt compelled to work on some artwork and made my way to the craft supplies.

As my hands rifled through the implements, my eyes landed on some stamps that had previously missed my perusal. Turning them over to read the messages, my hand and my heart stilled as I read MY words staring back at me ‘You.Are.Loved’…and I knew in that moment and He was speaking to me…had been reaffirming this in me and in things that people had been sharing with me. I grabbed the stamp, slathered it with ink and laid those words deep onto a page. I knew they were mine, I wanted to leave an impression.

And so as I have stepped forward in this, I find myself being reminded in the twists and turns of life that indeed these words ring heart and soul deep true. I have shared these words with others, and have no idea the impact that they have had on their lives. But I know that when I see them, when I share them….that my soul breathes deep of the reality that this love is completely undeserved and yet lavished upon me in generous portions. I pray that in some part that by sharing this message that God has so deeply used to make a difference in my life, that perhaps those same words will speak deep into the soul of another.



#fmfpartysnailmail Linkup – The Written Word

excerpt of written in slumber by matryshka on flikr

My dad usually walks in the door about 6pm carrying the mail. Most often its bills or prayer letters from people we support.

But sometimes, there are letters for me.

Usually letters from my Compassion children. They arrive quarterly and I anticipate them with great joy. Not only are they getting older, but their drawings are progressing and the questions they ask are showing their maturity. I’m so proud of the people they are becoming.

Both of them are still quite young so the world is still something they are trying to figure out (although truthfully that’s not something we ever stop with I don’t think).

And today…when my dad walked in the mail and handed me a beautiful envelope with some American stamps on it I squealed with joy because I had received one of my #fmfsnailmail letters. What a blessing it is to receive snail mail. I had forgotten about how personal and special it is to receive something that someone sat down to think through and actually put pen to paper for. What a blessing.

This snail mail gathering has inspired me to write small notes to many of my friends that I’ve not ever sent anything to before. Its really been a joy to think about what I’m going to share with them, what I’m going to encourage in them and to see how God will continue to use them. So each time I send out one of my letters for the snailmail group, I send out letters to other dear sisters as well.

I am thankful for the renewal of encouragement this has started in me. When I was in University I used to go down to the bookstore and buy a whole bunch of 1$ encouragement cards to share with people through the week as they came to mind or shared things with me. I used to buy those little encouragement cards you could stick in a Bible like a bookmark and stick a bit of a note on the back for them to ponder. But most of all, I was able to connect with people. To let them know that they were important. That they were chosen of God. That they were declared beautiful in His sight. That they were being tightly held in His palm in the midst of this circumstance.

I am so thankful for the written word, both written by hand and typed out for the world to read. I am thankful that there are those to whom God has gilded their pens and mouths and made such beautiful thoughts be released from them, ponderings and statements that thrill my heart or challenge it and I’m renewed in my desire to know more of Him and shine more of Him to others.