A Bookshelf Bigger than Our TVs
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It's that time again... time to share the stories we've read and wisdom we've gained in the last year.
If you followed along in The Bible 101 series, you know we've been reading at least five minutes a day. It's a small rhythm of great impact. On top of this, I continued my commitment to read at least one book a month, and now I want to share my favorites with you.
12. The Boys and the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Being the sleepy winter day it was and two years removed from rowing in seat two and pulling the oar in response to the demands of our coxswain, a story of Olympic rowing intrigued me. I opened the pages to read a rower's tale, yet I closed the pages with a deep sense of compassion and resolve.
It's the story of the eight unassuming oarsmen, and specifically one by the name of Joe Rantz with the most humble of beginnings, living through the Great Depression and seeking the Olympic gold in Berlin at the onset of WW2.
The hatred and brutality of Nazi Germany paired with celebration of diversity in rowing was striking to say the least. "Crew races are not won by clones. They are won by crews, and great crews are carefully balanced blends of both physical abilities and personality types."
It's a story of balance, humility and rhythm. It's a story of pain, perseverance, and learning we are stronger together. It's a story of swelling patriotism, compassion, and respect for our differences. It's a story of loyalty, forgiveness, and love.
It's a story worth reading.
...But be warned, once you get to the twelfth chapter, you may finish the next 170-ish pages in a single day. I couldn't help myself. I felt like I was in the boat with them.
"Way 'nough, Candace! Way 'nough!"
11. Undistracted by Bob Goff
When Bob first announced he was releasing his next book, I immediately knew I wanted it. I read the book (and laughed through the whole thing - of course I did, it's Bob) and realized how much I needed it.
It helped me see how I, for one, become focused on less important things, especially in my relationships with others. Now, I have a word to describe this - distracted - and I'm a work in progress, thankful to have Bob's fun and super practical insight to help me.
For example, now I'm charging myself $500 for every unkind word that comes out of my mouth. Why $500? Like Bob pointed out, it's a flight to Maui. Essentially, we have to ask, is this unkind word worth more than a trip to Maui?
Nope, easy as that. Mouth shut.
And then, when someone's actions don't align with what I expected, rather than taking it personal and thinking up all the ways they don't understand or appreciate me, I'm learning to pivot to "What's the simplest answer?" Oh, their clock is probably slow.
Resolve to think the best about people. It's so much healthier than the alternative.
10. The Reflective Life by Ken Gire
If you read last year's book review, you already know what I'm going to say about this, for a book by Ken Gire is, in my opinion, a book worth reading.
We all hear and have likely said, "Life's too short." It's like a painting we've all seen a hundred times. Then, Ken dips his paintbrush in the warm tones of mahogany and adds a touch of texture within the trees. In adding three words to this well-known phrase, he paints a small door in the painting we thought was as good as done, and in doing so, invites us to a new world of intimacy with our Creator. He writes,
"Life's too short. And too sacred." - Ken Gire, The Reflective Life
Ah, pick it up. Read it. You'll be changed. I know it.
9. Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey
Years ago, when I opened a Christmas gift and saw a book about retirement peeking through the wrapping paper, I laughed and dismissed it as "Sure, okay... Thanks Mom and Dad."
Now, having lived this out myself for years, I can confidently say other than The Bible, this book has had the greatest impact on my life. So much so, I'm thankful to have been able to walk alongside a circle of wise, young women and work through this same teaching again this last Spring. Our Thursday evenings became "Date Nights with Dave." (And Chris and Rachel!) It was a party!
We talked about the things no one wants to talk about like budgets and debt and 401(k) plans and mutual funds and insurance and mortgages and GIVING.
It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's a day-in, day-out dying to self and getting your financial priorities straight. And, because it's hard, you gotta know your WHY.
Why do I budget? Why should work so hard to become a wise steward of my finances?
We can't buy happiness, but we can buy fun, and sure, that's part of it. There's nothing wrong with that. But, there's so much more!
As believers, we have a responsibility to be wise stewards what God provides and generously gives us so we can respond to the needs around us as the Spirit leads and live generously toward others.
As Dave says,
"Live like no one else so later you can live and GIVE like no one else!" - Dave Ramsey
8. Marley and Me by John Grogan
The movie has long been a favorite of mine, but this was my first time to read the book. Reading John's words, you feel like you've been welcomed into the Grogan family. ...that is unless, of course, you have your own "world's worst dog." Then, you're still invited to read but may be best if you consider yourself more of a... eh, neighbor. After all, a family can only handle one Marley.
Beneath his humor, John provides a refreshing and captivating dose of humanness. It's a story that will make you laugh loudly and cry tenderly. In a world seemingly run by convenience, the Grogan's show us what it looks like to live committed despite the inconvenience that comes with it. In doing so, we see the depth and richness the practice of commitment brings to our lives.
If you're contemplating giving up in one or more areas of your life because it just seems too hard, read Marley and Me, and dare to believe it is worth the struggle.
7. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich As Will and I are preparing for marriage, we are taking time to be intentional and learn from those with more experience than us. The Eggerichs are one of them. In their book, they explain how a woman's deepest need is to be loved and a man's deepest need is to be respected. This is why Paul teaches,
...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:33
It's not that men are not to respect their wives and women aren't to love their husbands. This is our natural response as men and women because of our innate needs. Paul is teaching us to intentionally meet the needs of our spouse, those which require effort on our end.
The Eggrichs explain how we get on a "crazy cycle." When a wife doesn't feel loved, she doesn't show respect to her husband. When a husband doesn't feel respected, he doesn't show love to his wife. Around and around and around we go in the crazy cycle.
Learn how to get off this crazy cycle and how to recognize when it's starting so you can live in the abundance God designed for us to experience in marriage.
6. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
They say never judge a book by its cover and I should have listened. I was given this book for my birthday and I was unimpressed. It was the outdated cursive font paired with the image of two hands holding a bird nest with two blue eggs. I politely said thanks for the gift and made a mental note to put it in the "regift" pile.
Fast forward ten months and I go to the regift pile to add something to a gift. (I know, likely not my best quality but you deserve my honesty.) I pick up this title and decide I should probably read the first chapter at least to be sure it resonates somewhat with what my friend is going through.
One chapter in and I can't put it down. The words Ann uses, they have this way of putting you in a trance. She was walking me through how she learned to rise above her circumstances by being very present in them and even more, eternally grateful for the smallest and most mundane moments of her life.
As Ann writes, "Giving thanks always precedes the miracle" - I pray this truth is forever in my heart and mind, and I pray I lead those in my home to live this out, too.
5. The Annotated Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Will and I enjoy reading together and jokingly refer to it as our "get lit" date night. (Aka literature.) It's cheesy but we love it. Though, it doesn't happen every week, we like to put on comfy clothes, surround ourselves with too many pillows (if there is such a thing as too many pillows), and dive into a story together.
After seeing The Annotated Peter Pan on display at my local library, Will and I joined as Wendy, John, and Michael Darling flew away to Neverland with Peter Pan and Tink. It's a much different story than the one we grew up watching, but it was fun to jump into the childhood adventure together. As Barrie writes,
Would you like an adventure now or would you like your tea first? - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
I agree with Barrie on this. When matters less but may we never forget we are meant to live in adventure. If we are comfortable and know exactly what is coming, maybe we're not living in faith. I believe we're never too old for an adventure and we're never too old to revisit a story from our childhood either.
4. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
If you're looking for a quick but powerful read, this is it. As the author wrote, it is a book which will inspire you to "live courageously with more kindness for yourself and others. And to ask for help when you need it, which is always a brave thing to do."
3. The Illuminated Scripture Journal
This Fall, my small group of young adult women began leaning heavily into the truth that God is not afraid of our questions. We can bring these to Him and grow in wisdom one step - one question - at a time.
One book in particular we all shared intimidation and lots of questions about was Revelation, so we locked elbows and dove in together. My dear friend who co-leads beside me suggested The Illuminated Scripture Journal so we can take notes as we go, and goodness, we love it! It's beautiful and so helpful. For those who need more margin space, this is a great resource for you!
2. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Driving home from Thanksgiving, Will and I listened to the first of the Narnia series. Though I had the full collection as a child, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the only one I remember reading. How glad we were to stumble upon this audiobook because it brought so much color to the first few chapters of Genesis. In Lewis' signature style of using intriguing storytelling to share a metaphor drenched in scriptural insight, not only can we better understand the physical and spiritual realms but also the nature of the enemy and the character of God.
1. ??? To find out my #1 pick of 2022, you'll have to tune in next week! I promise it's worth the wait!
Reading cultivates curiosity. Let's be curious and intentionally choose to learn from people who have fruit present in their lives. In doing this, our strength builds and our joy is renewed. Making time to read uplifting stories offers peace that God is moving all around us, and we are able to rest in His truth and connection with others.
P.S. Learn how you can soothe the wintry sinus pressure with this simple tea/lemonade drink.
The amount of lemonade is up to you. I like to fill half my mug with lemonade and top it off with water. Heat, steep tea, then enjoy!
Buh-bye sinus pressure!
If I can do it, you can do it, too! Whatcha say? Let’s try that...sinus pressure soother!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
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