Book Report: Rhythms of Renewal

Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons

In a world constantly bombarding us with competing messages to push everything aside for “me time” and to hustle harder, Rebekah’s approach to self care is a breath of fresh air. She argues that there are four major cadences we all need to cultivate: the input rhythms of rest and restoration, and the output rhythms of connection and creation. Such a well-rounded perspective allows us to thrive while relying on the Lord and His design. Readers will discover simple ways of incorporating each category (like how to sleep better, the importance of play, initiating friendship, and learning something new). In a slow, methodical mood? Add a single practice to faithfully implement during this season. Because the twenty-eight chapters are short and actionable, though, it would be fun to work through one habit a day for a self care challenge month. No matter how you come at it, you need these rhythms of renewal in your life!

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Book Report: And Baby Makes Three

And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John and Julie Gottman

What happens when you pair two psychologists with research statistics like “67 percent of couples become very unhappy with each other during the first three years of their baby’s life” and “83 percent of new parents go through moderate to severe crisis in the transition to parenthood”? You get a survival guide like this one. Dripping with real-life examples, data, and advice, the Gottmans provide crucial insight into navigating the dynamics of adding a third pea to your pod. Curl up together with a warm drink and a readiness to grow. You’ll learn some history. You’ll work through exercises. And you’ll end up much closer when you finish the book than when you started it.*

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Book Report: Practicing the Presence of People

Practicing the Presence of People: How We Learn to Love by Mike Mason

“We are not born with love; it is something we must learn.” Thus Mike’s premise opens a host of quick meditations on how to embrace the glory of God in every single person we meet. If this sounds like a feat possible only for the super-extroverted among us, Mike is a contemplative introvert with a highly developed appreciation for the mess of humanity. His thoughtful writing smacks of grace—an essential component if we are determined to view love as a lifelong practice. Some of his ponderings are ethereal, others practical. “If we like, we can sit around endlessly speculating on the meaning of love. But why not just get on with it?”

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Book Report: Love Walked Among Us

Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus by Paul Miller

If the main marker of a disciple is love, we should probably learn how to do it properly. This simple and beautiful primer beckons us to get an up-close view of the way Jesus interacted with those around Him. Readers will inevitably encounter some uncomfortable truths, but Paul’s personable “been there, done that” style makes it easy to let our guard down. He covers extremely practical topics like love’s common obstacles, when love needs to say no, and how love sometimes requires anger. Incarnating Christ’s heart for people isn’t the least bit mushy (though it might lead to genuine softness in the best sense of the word). There’s a quiet strength in loving like Jesus, and it’s work only God can do.

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Book Report: You Are the Girl for the Job

You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly

The tricky part about dreaming big for a Christian is avoiding the “hype of self” that dominates our culture. We need a good dose of the gospel. If you’ve ever questioned your ability to step fully into the wild life God has planned for you with solid footing, Jess will be your new best friend. This girl loves the Bible; you could pretty easily guess that since she helped found the She Reads Truth movement. Her writing is saturated with stories and passages from Scripture and delivered with the voice of a cool big sister. She helps readers demolish mindsets that hinder progress so that the path is cleared for positive action.

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Book Report: Dream Big

Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It by Bob Goff

Bob has written three books—all of them New York Times bestsellers. In his latest venture, he takes readers on a wild trek of self-discovery, drawing on his incredible love for life and vast array of experiences around the world. Bob’s dynamic style, personality, and stories blend together into a flavor our culture understandably craves. (By “style” I mean a punchy cadence that inspires. “Personality?” He’s intensely interested in others… like to the point of including his phone number in every book he writes just so he can talk to strangers on the daily. And this man definitely has some stories worth telling. I laughed so hard I almost cried. And then I actually cried.) You’ll come away with a new appreciation for the ways God wants to use you to turn this place upside down. Bonus: if you flip the pages really fast, a little paper airplane flies around at the bottom.

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Book Report: Own Your Life

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson

A mentor at heart, Sally warmly invites women along on a journey of basic discipleship, covering everything from the theoretical (the purpose of beauty, cultural imagination, God’s transcendence, etc.) to the practical (like the spiritual disciplines, handling past hurts, and marriage advice). Her work dismantles mediocrity and stirs up a desire for excellence in every aspect of life. She peppers the text with personal stories, quotes, questions, and prayers with her typical tone of gracious hospitality. Reading Sally’s words feels like an afternoon of sharing sweet tea and great conversation on a porch swing with a trusted friend. 

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Three Books to Hack Your 2021

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on December 31, 2020. You can find it here.)

hack: a strategy or technique for managing one’s time or activities more efficiently*

“Auld Lang Syne” swells in the background as you sweep the last bits of Christmas into storage, making way for countdowns and confetti. It’s time to break out your fancy glasses and talk about the dreams you plan to turn into goals, pandemic or no pandemic.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a handful of resources tailored to multiply every ounce of energy you put into meeting those goals? A way to get the biggest bang for your buck?

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Best on the Shelf 2019

Few pleasures in life compare to a well-stocked library, and it’s always interesting to see how bookshelves evolve through the years. 2019 held quite the spread of material for me, both in content (including business tips, home decorating, popular female heresies, and a book on how to read books) and quality (some fantastic, some absolutely horrendous). Here are my ten favorites.