January 2016 in Books

Wow! It’s mid-February, but January’s reading list is up:

More than Happy by Serena B. Miller

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting (Serena B. Miller)

I have a love-hate relationship with modern parenting books…unless they’re coming from a sociology angle, and then they’re pretty much a literary candy (dark chocolate!) for me! :) Kind of like Amish romance for some people? Ha! Seriously, though, this was insightful and inspiring. If you’ve enjoyed books like  Bringing Up Bébé or Parenting without Borders, More than Happy might just be another one to add to your stack.

So, what does make Amish children happier? Miller believes it is a combination of many things: heavy sense of community and extended family involvement, a strong work ethic, respecting children as contributors and individuals, lack of distractions (TV, technology, etc…), slow pace of life, a sense of appropriate discipline, religious reinforcement of ideals, and an emphasis and priority on family life.

As with any culture that elicits mystery, there are a lot of common assumptions about the Amish that simply are not true. This book helps point some of those out. Of course, this is simply one person’s opinion (well, technically two) and an examination of one subgroup and subcategory of Amish culture, focusing primarily on the positive outcome.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action ( Simon Sinek)

This is a great little business book to help you provide focus for your business (or organization, or ministry). Great at any stage of the process, this book helps founders and leaders focus on their purpose as the framework for moving forward.  Continue reading

2015 in Books: My Top 10 of 2015

2015 reading

Most recently, I shared my list of 75 books I read over the course of 2015.

This post highlights my top 10 choices from that list.

I read a good number of good books this year, so it might not be fair to some of the others in the 65 other books. But here goes, with these books listed in no particular order. (Hey, don’t expect me to actually rank the top 10! :))

These books are not all written with commentary, but as I’m learning, sometimes done is better than perfect when you have to make a choice between the two.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear ( Elizabeth Gilbert)

Some people liked this book; others weren’t so keen. You can count me in the first group. Big Magic touches on creativity, capturing inspiration in the moment, and leaning into the fear that would otherwise drives us from attempting some big, scary-amazing things. I haven’t been a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan in the past; but Big Magic definitely changed that. Continue reading

2015 in Books: Book Completed

2015 reading

It’s hard to believe the end of the 2015 is almost here, and with this season comes recounting the year and reflecting on changes made and goals met. For me, that includes looking over the books I’ve read, remembering what I’ve learned from them, and working toward the next year’s list.

Since I share my reading here from time to time, I’ll share my full list of books for the year, which ended up being 75 books. (Coming soon,  I’ll share my top 10.) This doesn’t include children’s books under 100 pages; I’m pretty sure I also read Goodnight Gorilla and We’re Going on a Bear Hung 75 times last month to our little one-year-old, Kyrie! :)

I’ve sorted these books into category, but in no particular order. (Links go to Amazon; pictures are screenshots of my Goodreads reading page.)

Marriage, Family, and Parenting (Religious and Secular)

Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction Living Better and Loving More ( Rachel Macy Stafford)

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves Empowering Our Children ( Shefali Tsabary) Continue reading

Reading 2015: The Best Yes

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

Starting this book on the heels of What’s Best Next (review here), as another three-word-titled productivity-ish book, I have to admit I was a little curious as to the direction it would go. (I mean, that title almost sounds like it flows with Your Best Life Now? ;)) Thankfully, the book and its content are fairly straightforward.

Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands connected well with my recents readings of What’s Best Next and Essentialism, but definitely had a unique approach and is geared toward the specific audience of women (and moms), though still providing material that applicable for anyone. This was also my first time to read a book by Terkeurst.

Saying “no” is hard. Especially, saying “no” to good people, good opportunities, and even good ministries. We live in an age of endless opportunities, 24/7 accessibility, and lots of pressure to not only “have it all,” but to “do it all” and “be it all.” And in this type of culture, it is especially important to consider, reconsider, and pursue wisdom as we make decisions. Continue reading

Links to Think: 15.03.09


Making the Church A Safe Place for Mental Illness

This is a helpful article on many levels, although incomplete and perhaps confusing at some points. But this is a message that needs to be heard in both our local churches and the American church at large.

“Church can be a tough place for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar, or any other mental disorder. Not because church members don’t care about those who struggle with mental illness, but because most church members don’t really know how to care for those struggle. Those who struggle can feel lonely, hopeless, and ashamed.

I don’t say this in a critical way. Trust me, I get it: mental stuff is really hard to understand. Depression doesn’t make sense if you’ve never experienced it. Chronic physical anxiety almost sounds like worry, even though the two are drastically different.”

“In some churches, there’s this weird taboo surrounding mental illness. Nobody ever talks about it or acknowledges that it’s real. If a guy is sunk into depression, we say he’s, “Going through a rough patch,” or, “Having a tough time,” or we don’t say anything at all. If someone has cancer, we pray that God will heal her. If someone has back surgery, we make meals for him. But when it comes to mental illness, we don’t know what to say or do. Everyone knows something is wrong but nobody actually talks about it.

If we’re going to really serve those who struggle, we need to readily acknowledge that mental disorders are real, and that they can really mess a person up. We need to come to terms with the reality that our outer selves, including our brains, are “wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:16). We need to affirm that all of creation, including our bodies and brains, have been “subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20). Mental illness is a result of the fall. We are totally depraved, which means that the totality of our being, including our minds, have been broken.

When we acknowledge that mental illness is a real category of suffering, it allows those who are suffering to open up to others. It also allows other Christians to pray for and serve those who are suffering. The Bible has so many words of encouragement for those who are suffering, but we won’t be able to encourage others unless we first recognize that they really are suffering. As one who has dealt with chronic physical anxiety for years, I can assure you, mental illness is real suffering.”

To the Mean Stranger Who Judged My Parenting Abilities, Thank You

“I posted this on my personal Facebook page last week, but it’s so good I wanted to share it here, too.

“This short interaction has had a lasting impression on me. And not just because of her audacity but because I can relate to what she was thinking. While I’ve never walked up to a mom and criticized her, I have thought things to myself not too dissimilar, and it made me feel awful. Here I was in an extraordinary situation wishing others would understand and I was guilty of thinking the same things.

My husband’s words hit me like a hammer. I’d silently judged without stopping to think that maybe I didn’t have all the information. The thought that I could have dismissed a mother in desperate need of support, a mother like myself, deeply bothered me.”

“When these things happen, we do what we must to survive. Sometimes that means our parenting choices look strange. These are the times when the world feels harsh, but we need it to be kind. I truly believe if anyone should have compassion for parents, it’s other parents. What we really need is support, not judgment.

So, to the random lady on street, I can’t thank you enough for making me realize this. You hurt me and embarrassed me. But, you made me realize I was guilty of forgetting that my battle is not an isolated one. You reminded me we all struggle and none of us have the whole picture. You changed how I see others and how I approach them. You connected me to my community and gave me compassion for the unconventional.”

Related: Links to Think: 15.03.02 “Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School“ and “10 Memorable Dr. Seuss Quotes About His Work“

Disclaimer: “Links to Think” is my post of curated articles and blog posts from around the Internet. I rarely post something in its entirety (click on the heading title to read the rest of the article I’m excerpting), and I have yet to find another author with whom I agree with on everything. Please note that my sharing an article from a particular author in no way signifies my endorsement or agreement with their entire work.