7 Favorite Books I Read in 2017... And A Few Honorable Mentions.

I made a goal at the beginning of 2017 to return to reading.  But not just reading, I made a goal to fall in love with books AGAIN.

Since finishing graduate school in 2007, I gave my brain permission to rest and reset.  But what I didn't realize is that by not picking up a good book consistently through the years, I was decreasing my ability to critically think about important issues, be expose to rich stories, experiences, and different cultures.  I was starting to inundate myself with noise... voices on the screen, social media, podcasts, and neglecting my forgotten passion for the written word.  The touch of crisp or crinkled pages.  The very act of holding a book.  A collection of stories.  A door and window to someone's world.  

So, this past year was good, as I awakened my love for books.  

And I read some INCREDIBLE books!

A Quick Read... and Recommendation.

Are you wondering what I've been reading lately?  

I need to confess that I've been going through a LOT of good books.  Some amazing books, actually.  And I really want to share some of the best ones I've had the time to read this past year.  

In the meantime, I've been meaning to make you a quick recommendation.  

A Prayer: An Invitation

Holy Spirit...
You are welcome here.
I'm ready to receive everything you have for me today.
I RECEIVE everything you have for me today.
The good you have for me.
May I see it.
Experience it.
Take time for it.
May I hear it.
Sense it.
And may I recognize that it is from You.
Guide my lips, eyes, mind.
Be my peace.
Holy Spirit... come and stay a while!

Letting The Words Flow... Inhaling & Exhaling

I recently heard that if you're a writer, a poet, a baker, a runner, or anything that requires consistent action and practice, you're also meant to do those things regardless of your audience.  Do it quietly.  Do it without accolade.  And more importantly, do it for yourself.  For the simple act of exercising your gift.

Learning To Listen and Praying with Eyes Wide Open

It's been a good Summer... and I have been unapologetically taking time "off" social media and writing for the sake of staying present with my family.  As the kids get older, I'm realizing their independence can easily turn into my excuse for independent parenting... meaning... I can let them play outside without close supervision, they can feed themselves and play with each other (rather than have Mama over here "entertaining" them).  Right?  So, as I set out to live a life of being present, in the moment, with my kids, I realized I had less and less time to listen to the Lord in the quietness of my days.  Seriously, though... Quiet?  What is quiet?

Reading, Reading, Reading... And a Surprise Find!

Can you believe it's already the END of Spring?
It's amazing what a little "break" does to you, though.
Since the kids have been out of school, I've been consistently trying to stay present.  In the moments of every day.  Emily Ley's "Grace Not Perfection" was a beautiful book I read at the beginning of this year, and Shauna Niequiest's "Present Over Perfection" keeps coming back to me after so many months.  After reading and hearing about so many books about the reality that we, as mamas, NEED to purposefully enjoy our days, I KNOW it must be a theme for me, for this season in my life.

All that to say... Yes, I've been enjoying a little break from the usual.  And I'm liking it.

And because of the change in pace in my routine, I've been able to READ a ton!  As you know, I love books and I've been really trying to pursue a more active and diverse reading life.  So, in my quest to balance reading non-fiction AND fiction books, I've come across some really good ones!  Some expected finds, and some really surprising finds.  It's apparent that I really DO need to get out of my literary comfort zone.  If plainly to experience a place and culture I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do so.
Here's just some of the titles I finished these last couple of months and highly recommend:

Whispers of Rest - Not Your Typical Devotional Book

“Quiet isn’t the absence of movement.  Quiet is a movement to trust you were meant for more than striving.  You were meant to be fully alive.  When you give yourself permission to just breathe, you can just be.” 
- Bonnie Gray

I can’t remember the last time I chose to bring my laptop outside. 
The sounds are different.
The breeze is refreshing.
The birds sing, fly, and observe their surroundings… all trying to figure out why there’s a girl in a lawn chair... 
Even the chickens are out today… unusually calming, since on most days they’re locked inside their coop.