I thought I would change things up a little bit for this post. I wanted to share the “self-help” books, non-fiction Christian reads or whatever you want to call them, that I read this year. These are the ones that inspired me or taught me something on my journey of re-finding God during 2018.
Lets start with the most recent read, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp:
I discovered Ann Vaskomp through a friend of mine that tagged me in one of Ann’s posts on Instagram, one day. When I read it I was weeping by the end and wanted to know more of what she had to say. I read her book The Broken Way first (I will share more on that one later) and she kept referencing her One Thousand Gifts book. So, I added it to my amazon list and my brother and sister-in-law bought it for my birthday. It honestly was probably my favorite book of the year. One Thousand Gifts is all about joy. She starts out talking about bucket lists and how in life we don’t feel complete and feel our life isn’t as meaningful if we don’t do these crazy outrageous things to make us happy. So, she decided to make a different kind of list. She challenged herself to write down one thousand things that bring her joy or that she was grateful for. She started off with things like, the way the light hit the soap bubbles and made incredible colors; “little things” that may not seem very important. As she progressed thought she went into deeper sides of things, like how to be grateful in the midst of pain and chaos, which is tough. And she ended by tying it all together in that in these little moments God is trying to show and share his love with you. This book gave practical tools to find joy in anything, even when it’s hard. But I also love the way Ann Vaskomp writes, it is very poetic and speaks to your soul. She is one of the most real writers I have ever read.
The Broken Way by Ann Vaskomp:
This was actually the first book I read in 2018. Technically I started at the end of 2017 but I finished it in 2018, so it counts. This book was very insightful to me as well. I had just moved from Tampa and was still in a pretty dark place about moving, my health and just feeling utterly useless. This book talks about your brokenness. She isn’t telling you to push it aside or walking away from it but to use your pain to better yourself. She is constantly referencing the bible and how it talks about our brokenness and using it to shape and mold us, not to destroy us. To have someone validate you feeling like crap and it being okay but to not let it keep you from living an unfulfilled life, helped me to push past a lot of my hurt and reach for more goodness. She also talks about how our brokenness actually helps others who are broken and being in community when you’re broken, reaching out to other broken souls is one of the best ways to mend your brokenness. It just was a good book for my soul during the season I was in.
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis:
Once again, another author I discovered because of social media. I kept seeing her name and book pop everywhere so I started following her on Instagram and fell in love with her platform. She is all about inspiring women and empowering them, but in a very healthy way. A lot of times when you see women trying to empower other women they are on a power trip and it’s all very unhealthy. But Rachel Hollis, in her book and on her social media is all about empowering you to be the best you! It’s not proving you can do it as well or better than the boys. It’s not about you proving you are a bad ass, because you are but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. It’s about doing what will make you feel like you can be your best you. Changing the things in the life that are keeping you from your dreams and goals. It’s about proving to yourself that you are worth it, and in the end the only persons opinion that matters is your own. If you haven’t read her book or follow her on social media, you should. I love watching her and her husband Dave on their morning show that they do live every week day morning at 8am central. Shameless plug for them, because they are seriously so fun and have a lot of wisdom.
Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher:
Honestly, this is a good one if you are a single woman trying to figure yourself out or struggle with anxiety or depression, at least in my opinion. Hannah is super down to earth and one of the other, most real, authors that I have read. She gets down and dirty about her anxiety and depression and for me it helped me to not feel alone knowing someone else struggled so badly too. But what really hit home for me was her struggle with God in all of this. As she was trying to figure out if she was making the right “big life” decisions and going through a dark time. What made me connect to her story was that she questioned God and what he was up to during all of this, just like I had been during my mess. I loved her realness and vulnerability in all of it and she inspired me to dig deeper into God’s word like I never have before. It has been a struggle but I am determined to see His word as a love letter, and Hannah helped give me some tools to do that. It’s a really great read and she is an amazing story teller.
Without Rival by Lisa Bevere:
I actually talked about this one a little bit in one of my other posts. I read this one this past summer. And again, it is another book about empowerment, but a healthy one too. It is about understanding the power and the strength you have inside of you; knowing your worth and what you bring to the table, it’s very much about self-confidence and self-worth. She talks about that God created you uniquely but not inadequate, you have different strengths and weakness that others don’t have, but that doesn’t make you less than. But she also goes to say that those “rivals” we do have in our life to not see them as a threat but as a way to grow and better yourself, not to prove yourself but to understand how you can be better for you and the world you are influencing. This book is a biblical example of how to be an empowered woman of God.
Stronger Than The Struggle by Havilah Cunnington:
This book is about spiritual warfare. I hate using that word because it has a bad connotation, but that’s what it is. But Havilah lays it out differently. This book isn’t about casting out demons or exorcism or things like that. This book is about understanding the power and authority you have because of Jesus’ death, that you have Holy Spirit as your helpmate and you being a child of God. She talks about how important knowing the word is in order to help keep your heart, mind and spirit on solid ground when you are in a tough spot. But most importantly knowing what you have inside of you as a daughter or son of God that can help you to win the battles you face, but in practical ways. They are good helpful tools that help you to understand who you are in Christ and the authority you have to tell the enemy, “not today.”
Daring Greatly by Berne Brown:
This book is all about vulnerability. Berne did a study about vulnerability and what makes people shut down and what makes them open up. She interviewed both men and woman to get the different points of view and shares different peoples answers to how the felt, how they shared or maybe why they didn’t share. It is an interesting read from the fact that you get to hear others thoughts about vulnerability and know that it’s not just you that feels a certain way, we all struggle. She gives you practical tools to help you be vulnerable with the people around you and also gives evidence on how being vulnerable is very healthy and beneficial to your relationships. It is a great book for everyone because we all have people we are in relationship.
So, there are the non-fiction books I read for 2018. Each of these was very instrumental for me this past year. It was funny how every time I picked up one of these books to read, it was very fitting for where I was at in that moment. It spoke to what my heart needed at that time. Just like God to give you what you need right when you need it.
Reading these books was so helpful to me this year because I was on this journey to find God for myself and instead of listening to one voice I got an assortment. I was able to read and take my time to see if what I was reading was good for my heart and soul or if it was something I needed to dig further into. I was able to censor what my heart needed; to choose how much or little I could handle. I was able to go after God in a way that worked for me by reading each one of these stories and applying certain things to my life. Some of it hasn’t been easy and I am doing a lot of trial and errors with what I am trying to implement but it’s helping.
I hope this list was insightful and maybe will inspire you to pick up one of these books and read. I am a firm believer, especially after this past year, that your wisdom and teachings don’t have to come from just one source but can be from a multitude of places, as long as it resonates with your heart and lines up with God and his word.
Happy reading to you!