Posts tagged books
2018 Reading List
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It's been a few years since I made a yearly reading list to tie into my yearly goals, and in an effort to curb my habit of reading multiple books at a time and not finishing them, I am starting a list of books I'm interested in reading this year that support my overall goals. I'm hoping to focus on reading about one to two books a month. No doubt I'll skip some on this list and add others, but it's a good starting point, and it makes me excited to read and learn in this next year!

(Editor's Note: Although, you MIGHT note I've already started quite a few of these...so my reading-multiple-books-at-a-time habit might prove A BIT hard to break!) :)

1. Know God more and trust Him more.

2. Grow STRONGER (mentally, physically, and spiritually).

3. Practice praise.

4. Be humble, willing, and faithful right where God has me.

5. Wait well (purposefully, not passively).

What about you? What books are you excited to read this year?

Navigating the Now and Not Yet: Lessons in Dating, Waiting, & Singleness

Being the curious person that I am, I love to read all the books and blogs, watch inspiring sermons, and listen to thought-provoking podcasts. It's been such a season of learning for me that I thought I'd put together a post summarizing some of what God has been teaching me (especially when it comes to dating, waiting, and singleness). I've organized everything into four main lessons God's been teaching me.

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1. Focus on seeking first the Kingdom, and go deeper in your life of worship and faith.

I'm listing this lesson as #1, because it's foundationally important to navigating any and every season we face, whether it's singleness, dating, marriage, parenthood, etc. Seasons of waiting and transition offer us unique opportunities to deepen our roots of faith, and trust our Good Father in new ways. Ask Him what He's calling you to do or learn in this specific season of life (even if it's unwanted). How is He calling you to serve? How is He equipping you for where you are (and possibly what's ahead)? How can you be faithful right where you are? There are so many things happening behind the scenes that we can't see. But no matter what season we find ourselves in (and no matter what season we may be longing for), He's inviting us to discover who He is and all He is capable of doing in and through us. Get lost in that discovery process and allow Him to change you in the midst of it.

2. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and the refining of your character.

This isn't an easy one, I know. But as I mentioned in lesson #1...God cares about our growth and transformation. In fact, as Nicole Reyes said in one of her videos on following God's call on your life, God cares more about inward transformation than He does about outward promotion. Be open to His work in you. Ask Him what areas He wants to grow and prune you in. Focus on filling your mind with His truth, His wisdom, and not what the world tells you. There are so many lies I've believed that have caused me to live (and date) from a place of discontent, discouragement, fear, and frustration, rather than hope, faith, and victory in Christ. As a single, if we can learn to cultivate a mind that overflows with joy and hope and faith, we will then be able to produce that fruit in dating and marriage, too.

3. Become a good steward of your emotional health.

Pain from our past can prevent us from living in freedom and stepping into all God has for us. Unresolved pain and bitterness in our lives becomes bondage. Ask God if there are any places or areas where you need healing. Then take the time to do what's necessary to truly heal where you need to heal, so you are fully ready when God does bring the right person into your life. I think it was Steven Furtick who said that if you're not ready, you can turn the right person into the wrong person. That was convicting for me! I've also been learning it's important to be a good steward of our emotions while dating. This means keeping in step with the Spirit, as well as dating in community, so we aren't tempted to rush ahead, and we aren't blinded by feelings of romance or infatuation. Being a good steward of our emotions means being aware and able to recognize what we are feeling, but also knowing how to put our emotions in their proper place and be guided by faith over feelings.

4. Be faithful and FLOURISH!

Seasons of waiting and transition have gotten a bit of a bad wrap. And I get it. I'm the first one to admit that I'm certainly ready to leave the season of singleness behind. ;) But I also know God desires for us to be so rooted in Him that we can be faithful, fruitful, and flourish in all seasons, not because of whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, but because we are trusting and relying on Him fully. He is the one variable that does not change. And He promises to give us all we need for this day. And the next. And the next. Whether we are single or married.

One of the ways I focus on flourishing in my faith is by setting goals. I use Lara Casey's Powersheets process to set a vision for my year and then set Christ-centered goals that support that vision. Doing so helps me to cultivate what matters and know I am doing all I can to live this life as fully as I can for God's glory, right where I am. It also gives me a vision for my future that I can focus on when I'm making decisions and determining where God is leading me (and this includes dating!). For example, I know I want to build a marriage that's centered on Christ, and that I want the main mission of my marriage to be to seek and serve God together. That vision is going to influence who I choose to date and what I'm looking for in a partner.

I love what Danny Silk said about having a vision and building relationships around vision in his book Keep Your Love On: "When two people establish the pillar of vision in their relationship, they share the knowledge of one another's identity and calling, as well as their joint vision, and remind one another of these things on a regular basis. When seasons of difficulty, pain, or loss come up, the pillar of vision strengthens a relational connection and protects it from being thrown into survival mode."

Even in singleness, the vision we have based on the unique way God has created us will influence the decisions we make and help us to persevere through the hard and dry seasons of life.

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I think all of these lessons could be summarized simply as this: be faithful and obedient right where you are. I've been spending a lot of time in the book of Ruth, and I think her life is such a beautiful example of that. Even facing loss and hardship, she was humble and faithful and trusted God to provide and do what only He could do. She did all she could with what was right front of her, remaining loyal and steadfast. Our faith often requires us to do and act and trust before we know what the outcome will be. But we know who DOES know the ultimate outcome, and that frees us up to keep moving forward in obedience. We can be like Ruth and do all we can with what is right in front of us, trusting our Father with where we will go from here.

I hope these lessons are an encouragement to you today.

(And I'd love to hear what God's been teaching you lately, too!)

Resources that inspired this post: videos from Nicole Reyes, Instagram encouragement from Jessica Hoffman Shakir, and books like The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas, and Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk

What I've Been Reading Lately: 40 Days of Decrease, Breaking Busy, and The Bronte Plot

Hello, friends! I'm excited to share a few thoughts on some of my recent readings!

Spiritual disciplines do not transform, they only become relational opportunities to open the heart to the Spirit who transforms." - John H. Coe

40 Days of Decrease was such a thoughtful devotional for the Lenten season. Having read Alicia Britt Chole's other book Anonymous, I knew her writing would go deeper and would challenge my faith in good and meaningful ways. 40 Days of Decrease does just that. It's a book that pushes you to really throw off the hindrances and distractions of the world and focus on Jesus and the incredible sacrifices He made in love for us. I loved the reminder that the season of Lent isn't just about giving something up, but that it's about drawing near to God. "We thin our lives to thicken our communion with God." During my reading of the book, that meant thinning distractions (specifically shopping), but also thinning anything God called me to step away from. I loved the book's format of daily devotional reading, scripture passage for reflection, historical background, and room for notes. I definitely recommend this devotional for the season of Lent, but it's also a wonderful devotional for any time of the year that you want to refocus on Jesus.

5 stars

Breaking Busy is an easy, fun read, but ironically, when life got busy, I had trouble finishing it. The author has an approachable writing voice that's bright with warmth and humor, however, I think I may personally be in a season where reading "how-to" books just isn't the best fit. The last few I've picked up haven't held my attention the way they used to. This is no reflection on the book's quality or content, of course (there was a season of my life where I couldn't get enough of books like this), but recently, I find myself craving more in-depth storytelling, rather than quick, light reads. I will say that even though I would classify this as a quick read, there is some great content within its pages, especially for women who find themselves over-scheduled and overwhelmed. The reminder that we all need to edit our lives is a good one, and even moreso that we need to allow God to be the one guiding that editing work.

3.5 stars

I loved, loved, loved this book!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I shared that this photo is what my evenings have looked like lately — burning my @peripetihome Silver Linings candle (which is an inspiring and hope-filled blend of lemon, lavender, patchouli and other essential oils)... And getting lost in The Bronte Plot.

I think this book found me at the perfect time (so amazing when they do that, yes?!) and I love that the main character is about my age and still figuring out so much about her life (plus, she's single!). There's such hope and possibility between these pages, and for the main character Lucy, and I know I have the same hope and possibility in my own life, especially being in a bit of a season of transition right now myself.

One of my favorite passages was about the questioning times we often find ourselves in.

"That questioning time...All the books have it...that time when you don't know where you'll be, but you can't stay as you are..." - The Bronte Plot

I lingered over those words for quite some time, pondering my own questioning times (and the one I find myself in right now!). God continues to move me forward, and because I've given Him the control over my life's adventures, I suppose I often find myself in questioning times, wondering what's next. I've been learning how to turn those questions into curiosity and wonder, knowing that each time He moves me forward or takes me somewhere new, I am living out the very best possible version of my story.

I love the way we can find pieces of ourselves and our own stories in books and how the stories we read become a part of us as well. I definitely recommend The Bronte Plot! (I've already since read Reay's Dear Mr. Knightley and am currently more than halfway through her third book Lizzy & Jane. I'm going to be so sad when it's finished, and there aren't any more of her books to get lost in! :)

So there you have it!

Do you have any recommendations for me? :)

2016 In-Progress Reading List

I was reading Natalie's blog post about her 2016 reading list, and I loved that she paired books to read with each of her goals. I loved the idea so much, I decided to give it a try myself! The list below does not include some of the fiction books I hope to read, so I'll list those separately (on my reading Pinterest board for 2016).

Be open to God's plan for my life and live fully right where I am.

Prioritize prayer and choose God above all other things. Seek first the Kingdom.

Experience abundance through simplicity. 

Cultivate contentment, creativity, and community.

Use my creative gifts fully for God.

As you can see, I don't have many books for my last goal about creativity. Do you have any great recommendations? I would love to hear them! :)

What are you reading this year?

 

:: art ::  Paulina Reyes for Kate