Read to Live

 

READ to

I’ve always been a reader. As a result, I am a big believer in the lasting effects of reading on a person’s life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge I’ve gained through books.

So many people claim they are not the reading kind and I just sort of chuckle and then change the subject. Because I don’t believe that being a reader is optional. If you want to grow, lead, succeed, and dream, then reading has to become a part of your life.

Take growth, for instance. I’m not the same timid, unaware, insecure girl I was even ten years ago. And I have countless books to thank for that. The Bible tops the list, though, as being the most influential in my maturity as a confident woman. I now know who I am because of what the Word of God says about me. He calls me His beloved one, His chosen daughter, and His beautiful masterpiece.

What about leadership skills? Surely the proof is seen in the fact that so many great leaders of our time are self-proclaimed hearty learners. John Maxwell is one of my favorite authors on leadership and this is what he has to say about being a lifelong student:

“Live to learn and you will really learn to live.”

Without reading, we limit ourselves to what other people have to say. If you really want to learn, discover it for yourself by picking up a book.

Success is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot in accordance with the much sought after American Dream. Whether we are looking for external success through dollar bills or internal success through peace in our souls, we have to take into account the important words of those who have gone before us. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States and human rights activist, said,

“One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people.”

We cannot succeed without gaining wisdom from the voices of influential men and women of yesterday. Our future depends on our remembrance of those that have paved the way. Read a biography about someone you admire. You just might learn that you share some of their passions and therefore be inspired to go after a greater purpose than you could have ever imagined on your own.

Dreaming is a lost art these days. Many times we get used to going and doing that we forget to stop and dream for a minute. But if we aren’t dreaming then we are living a pretty dull existence. So many books have brought the dreamer out in me. From fairy tales to poetry, reading has a way of opening our hearts and minds to a world beyond what our eyes can see. I loved getting lost in the Nancy Drew books as a young girl. I would pretend I was brave like she was and imagine going on mysterious adventures to rescue the wounded neighborhood cat or spy on the mischievous shop owner. Don’t knock the value that comes from lying down in the grass and letting your imagination take you beyond the printed page. I am now finishing up my degree in criminal justice all these years later. It looks like those Nancy Drew books paid off after all…

One of my highest goals in life is to add something of value to this world. I want to make a deposit of outlandish proportions into the futures of generations to come. This may seem like a daunting task to some, but to me, it’s why I’m alive. Where does reading fit into this picture? Well, let’s just put it this way: If I don’t stay presently aware of the needs in my society by picking up a newspaper or clicking on that online article, then I sure as heck won’t know what to do to make the world a better place for the children of tomorrow.

Reading is not only about personal growth and development but also about staying educated so that we can raise up future leaders that wisely take responsibility for their own growth, success, and dreams.

Read to live. One day you will look back at how far you’ve come and be so glad you picked up that book.

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What does it really mean to be Wild and Free?

From self doubt to God- confidence

It’s June already. I can’t even believe it. Summer is practically here! As you may recall, I have been reading one book a month as a personal growth challenge of sorts.

My book for May was called “Wild and Free” by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. First of all, let me just say this to start:

EVERY WOMAN, YOUNG or OLD, NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK. 

Here’s why:

It deals with two of the biggest issues women of all ages have dealt with since the dawn of time. Never being enough or Always being too much. We are either one or the other. Sometimes both!

It takes the reader through the lives of two women, one introvert and one extrovert. Both women talk about their journey from self-doubt to God-confidence. They are real, raw, and relate-able.

Lastly, included is an anthem for women everywhere that raises our eyes upward from our circumstances and fills us with everlasting hope. It goes like this:

“The world may tell us we’re too much and never enough.

But we can walk wildly in who God created us to be and rest freely in the work Jesus did for us.

We do not have to be confined or conformed by cultural expectations.

We are unchained from our past and unafraid of our future.

We choose compassion over comparison.

We love without condition, without reserve.

Our eyes are on God; we hold nothing back; we run fast and strong; we do not hide our light.

We aren’t wild and free for our sake alone; rather we sing life, hope, and truth over the world with abandon- just as our God sings over us.

We are wild and free.

And we are poised to do mighty things, in Christ alone.”

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Check this amazing book out! You’ll be motivated and encouraged to live out your God-given purpose with joy and confidence.

Sing Sweet Nightingale

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I just finished my April book as I continue on with my reading goals for 2016! In case you haven’t seen my list of books for the year, “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah was April’s read. And what an all-consuming book it was! I seriously couldn’t put it down.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I am an avid reader of just about anything. But I haven’t read a historical novel in, like, ten years. So this mighty book was an undertaking for me. I love history, especially french history, and that is exactly what this book is about. I also love any book that highlights women as the heroine or protagonist. This remarkable book does that as well.

It follows Viann and her younger sister, Isabelle, through their individual stories of love and loss during World War II. Both of the women are tough but in starkly different ways. One is a tenderhearted mother and the other is an impulsive young adult. They navigate their struggles with dignity and grace while trying to include each other in their frayed lives. I felt such a pull on my heartstrings as I read what these women had to endure in order to keep their heads above water during this horrific time in history. This book will give you a life-altering perspective on what it really means to be in need (not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well).

To say that I was enormously affected by “The Nightingale” is an understatement. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a reality check on just how blessed they are. I also recommend this book to any woman who feels strongly, like I do, that our feminine voices need to be heard. Kristin Hannah does such an amazing job at portraying the softness of a woman’s feelings right alongside the hardness of her role as survivor in a cruel world. We can all learn a few things from this book! Go get yourself a copy today!

How to Lead Well

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My March book choice from my 2016 Book Challenge was “Live Love Lead” by Brian Houston. This book was an interesting look at Pastor Brian’s life story from childhood to adulthood. If you do not know, he is the pastor to Australia’s largest church, Hillsong Church. I am a huge fan of their worship music!

Anyways, here are the main points I took from this gem of a read:

  1. God has called us to live a BIG life. He wants you to “follow your heart, stay true to the gift that is on your life, go forth in the strength that you have, be comfortable in your grace zone, be confident in your call- and watch as God exceeds your every expectation and leads you into a wide-open and spacious life.” (p. 41)
  2. We are meant to carry a pioneering spirit. Houston says, “Pioneering takes courage, ingenuity, and a sense of adventure. With a pioneer spirit must come willingness to fail and falter, but with an unwavering belief in the long-term future vision.” (p. 58)
  3. Stay committed to the process even when it’s painful. Jesus never said our life on earth would be easy. Dark days do come and we have to be steadfast in pursuing the God-given vision for our life despite opposition and trials. I love this quote: “Each of us must cling to our own revelation of Jesus whenever bleak days try to obscure our faithful path.” (p. 78)

I encourage you to soak this book up if you are in a leadership role of any type. It will motivate you to keep going, to expand your vision and to love relentlessly!

 

Learning the Language of Love

As many of you know, I am reading one book per month as a personal growth goal for 2016. (See the list of books I’m diving into HERE.) February’s selection was an amazing book by Bob Goff called “Love Does.”

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This book had been recommended to me atleast a dozen times before I actually got around to reading it. Now I know why! Here are a few things I learned about love from this life-changing book:

  1. Love is personal. Each chapter gives the reader a story from the author’s life where love was shown to him or through him. I was in awe of the many different ways he was able to recognize God’s love on his behalf. Goff has a natural knack for story telling and leaves us in a place where we are motivated to look for God’s ever present love in our lives as well.
  2. Love takes risks. Every story Goff weaved brought a level of challenge and adventure with it. He claims that “Jesus invites us on an adventure, He shapes who we become with what happens along the way.” (p. 130)
  3. Love doesn’t need a mission statement. You don’t have to join an organization that claims they are in the “love others” business in order to actually love others. He calls people who don’t flash their love around “secretly incredible people.” No capes to show off your love. No signs to promote your love. Just loving for the sake of loving.
  4. Love isn’t afraid of failure. In fact, love thrives off of going after our dreams even when the probability of success seems low. Goff says that failure is just an opportunity to think differently about some things.
  5. Love is audacious. It goes to extravagant measures to ensure others know that they are, in fact, loved. It doesn’t matter if people think you’re going overboard or caring too much. Love is more concerned with loving than with what onlookers might have to say about the way you do the loving.

I hope these reasons encourage you to check out this book. I know it is one that I will read again. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the story he told about his beloved, yet beat up JEEP:

“I know it sounds goofy, but I want to be like that Jeep. I want to leak from having been hit by Jesus. From having something crazy happen to me, something that flipped my life upside down. I’ve met people like that, people who leak Jesus. Whenever you’re around them, Jesus keeps coming up with words and with actions. I don’t suppose everybody gets hit by Jesus, but those of us who have talk about Him differently. We start steering funny; we start leaking where we stand. And it’s because we got thrown from our lives in a terrific collision.” 

 

(To see January’s book review, click here.)

Weighty Words

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My love of words goes way back to when I was a child. I’ve always been a fast talker which was only propelled further by my love of reading. I enjoy words so I use them quite often. On average, they say that women speak about 20,000 words per day.(Language Log) I think it’s safe to say that I surpass that estimate by about 1,000 words.

It’s even been a long running joke in my family (natural born and married into) that noone can understand me when I talk because I say things so quickly that it’s like I have a Speedy Gonzales complex. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s got to be a skill (or burden?) that I was born with because once I start it’s really hard to stop. I’ve had to do a lot of listening to make up for the years of incessant talking.

This morning in prayer God was showing me why I do this. I tend to talk so much because of an underlying fear of not being heard. So I talk and talk in an effort to convince myself that because I said alot I got my point across. That the more I fit into the conversation, the more you really get “me.” I’m afraid of being misunderstood.

But the Bible says in Proverbs 17:28 thatEven a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

It’s funny how we think that more words proves knowledge when, in reality, fewer words showcases wisdom. The amount of my words is not what grabs a person’s attention. It’s the weightiness of my words that causes someone to tune in. Basically, the gift of gab is not actually a gift.

I don’t want to just be knowledgeable. I want to be wise.

Armed with my new biblical insight on words, I have decided to challenge myself to only speak if I really do have something to add to the conversation. If I’m chattering non-stop then I’ve fallen prey to the lie that I have to talk to be heard. And I don’t.

My words are always important because God says they are. But in order for others to hear the depth of my heart in the words that I speak, I need to focus on what the Holy Spirit wants me to say. If He wants my point made clear, then He’ll provide the exact amount of words for me to use to get it across.

If He doesn’t provide the words, then they just don’t need to be said. Whew! Ya’ll pray for me! 🙂

 

 

photo credit: I couldn’t afford a horse via photopin (license)

How to Find Your Life’s Purpose

 

I made a list of twelve books that I want to read this year here. The January selection was “Chazown” by Craig Groeschel.

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Why YOU should read it:

Ever wonder what your purpose is? Do you question what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Feel like you’re not really living up to your God-given potential? Then this book is definitely for you! “Chazown” will teach you how to discover your passion through a series of personalized activities that take you on a journey of self-discovery. Chazown literally means “vision.”

My Take:  

I couldn’t put this book down. First of all, the chapters are super short. Second of all, Craig Groeschel is a very witty writer who uses a ton of personal stories alongside humor to keep the reader interested. Lastly, the exercises that he encourages you to do really open your eyes to what you’ve overlooked about yourself or your experiences.

He breaks it down into three categories: Core Values, Spiritual Gifts, and Past Experiences. From these categories, you discover your giftings, beliefs, and personal timeline. Next, Groeschel leads you through the five spokes of your Chazown, which basically give you a plan of action. The five spokes are 1) Your relationship with God, 2) Your relationship with people, 3) Your financial health, 4) Your physical health, and 5) Your life’s work.

After you’ve completed these steps, you are guided through a process of writing your own purpose statement. Goals are outlined and resources are highlighted.

Personal Life 

Did this book help me refine my focus and get me on the track to fulfilling my dreams? YES! I have a list of things that I can clearly say I feel called to do with my life now because of this amazing book.

I couldn’t recommend this book more! It’s great for small groups and if you go to this link, there are video teachings and online tests that you can take to help you on your Chazown journey as well!

Proverbs 29:18 – ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

 

 

Want to Read With Me in 2016?

photo credit: Baddesley Clinton Library via photopin (license)

I LOVE to read. Almost as much as I love to write. And sing. I think the three habits/obsessions are tied, actually. Don’t make me pick just one! (Way to make me panic!)

Anyways, I thought I’d compile a list of twelve books that I want to read this year. Realistically, I will read WAY more than twelve books. That’s a given. But I’ve never really mapped out my reading in terms of a monthly schedule and review. This year, since I’m actively blogging now, I thought I’d do just that. Why not keep things interesting?

So, here’s the list. Mind you, these are not necessarily new books. Just ones that I’m interested in adding to my collection. 🙂 Some are fun, some are serious, some are controversial. My purpose is to learn something new about God, myself, and the world around me. Let’s see where this year of purposeful reading takes me!

January- Chazown by Craig Groeschel 

February- Love Does by Bob Goff

March- Live Love Lead by Brian Houston

April- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 

May- Wild and Free by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan   

June- Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? by Mindy Kaling 

July- Savor by Shauna Niequist 

August- Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

September- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert 

October- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown 

November- Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter 

December- Powerful and Free by Danny Silk 

Feel free to join me! Just comment below my monthly reviews with a link to your own post about the book! I look forward to hearing from you!

10 Creative Quirks About Me

 

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/91345457@N07/9496376163">Plants Stand</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>

  1. I sing all songs. Pop, rock, disco, country, christian, alternative, funk, folk, and the list goes on and on… It doesn’t matter what’s playing. If it’s playing, I’m singing along with it.
  2. I love to color. I even have a system where I outline the image or drawing first with a darker shade of crayon before filling it in with a lighter color.
  3. I can’t draw from just an image or idea in my head but I can look at a picture and duplicate it by hand almost exactly. I think it’s the details of shapes and angles that I have a hard time remembering.
  4. I bop my head to music and don’t even know I’m doing it. If I’m not bopping then I’m tapping my foot or patting my hand on my knee. It’s seriously a subconscious reaction to any funky beat. I don’t think I could stop even if I wanted to.
  5. Every movie has the potential to be quoted and inserted into my life at the appropriate time. I have entire conversations in movie quotes with my sisters, mom, and husband.
  6. Every cliche, bible verse, commercial slogan, math fact, to-do list, etc…can be sung. And my kids crack up at me for putting music to literally anything in order to remember it.
  7. I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head that if I don’t get them out on paper in the form of a blog post, a poem, a letter, or a song, I think I just might explode.
  8. I am a speed reader. I have been since I was in the 2nd grade. Spelling and grammar are two of my best friends. I have always loved the way words fit together on a page and can transport the reader to a brand new place or time.
  9. I love movies, songs, and books that highlight women as the heroine or leader. Jane Austen, Harriet Tubman, Ella Fitzgerald, Katherine Hepburn, Anne Frank. These are women who stood for something and gave the rest of us an example to follow as we live out lives of strong and graceful womanhood.
  10. Music is timeless.  I can listen to songs from the 70’s and feel such a love for the wordsmiths that crafted the lyrics as well as listen to Mozart and get carried away on the wings of the melody. A true musician appreciates the past, honors the integrity of the present sound, and embraces a hope for what the music of the future might be.