9 Books Reviewed + a Giveaway

I’m a binge-reader. Once I have a couple of books in hand that I’m excited about, there’s really nothing else I’d rather do than curl up on the couch and get lost in a book. The older I get, the more I choose staying in over going out, saving over splurging, and books over TV —unless it was during each season of Parenthood. (Ya feel me?)

Maybe I’m becoming more boring with age or perhaps I’m getting wiser. Have I mentioned how much I love growing older? For my high school girls reading this: I PROMISE you life gets better. Hang in there, toots! 🙂

In the same way, I believe this also relates to the maturing that’s begun happening in my spiritual life. I’ve been talking to God way more than I talk about Him. (I don’t recall who first said that phrase, but it’s been sketched on my heart ever since.) I don’t think writing and speaking about God is a bad thing (obviously), but lately I’ve been enjoying my time with Him, clinging to those conversations with no interest in divulging.

Back to what I was saying— being a binge-reader. Of all the books I read this year so far (I’ve counted 19, but might be forgetting some…I really need to do a better job tracking that.), the following nine were life-changing for me. Not only are they incredible books, but so are the authors who write them.

To Mike, Melanie, Shannan, Lysa, Susan, Shauna, Gregory, Annie, and Aaron: Thank you for reminding me I’m loved, softening my heart, and giving me a good laugh. 

I’m giving away one copy of #9 so keep reading to find out how it could be on your doorstep in just a few days. 🙂

In no particular order, here are 9 of the best books I read this year:

People of the Second Chance by Mike Foster. {Reminded me I am loved}

Image resultTrue story: when Mike and I met in person the first time we bypassed all surface talk and went straight in for the heart stuff. That’s the thing about Mike. His heart beats for people. As we talked over coffee, I wept in front of Mike (no shame) and he encouraged me to continue sharing how Jesus has transformed my life. One of my favorite pages in his book says, “If you think God feels disappointment when he looks at you, then you don’t know God very well.” (Insert praise hands emoji.) In a world overwhelmed with conflict, confusion, and chaos, I pray you get to know this God. The one who loves you and is never disappointed in you. The one who is not surprised by your mistakes and always gives grace. There’s so much I could tell you about People of the Second Chance, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. So, if you are an imperfect person longing for hope and a second chance, Mike’s words will deliver love, encouragement, and much needed truth to your soul. Also, Mike is doing something outrageously awesome by celebrating people who are desperate for a second chance. You know, the people the world deems unworthy… watch this video to learn more.

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle. {Gave me a good laugh}

Never have I laugh aloud more while reading a book than I did throughout this marriage memoir by Melanie! This book was relatable on so many different levels. My absolute favorite part was how she shared the difference between young love and old love. She left me inspired and humbled all in one. Melanie isn’t just a great story-teller though, she’s a fantastic writer. This book is lighthearted while still manages to dive deep. It’s full of hilarious stories, but also jam-packed with encouragement for marriages of all ages. To be honest, when I finished it, I wanted to immediately put my pen to the paper and begin compiling all of the hilarious stories from my less than 2-year-old marriage with E. Maybe it’s already in the works. 😉

Falling Free by Shannan Martin. {Softened my heart}

Image result for falling freeWhen I was told by a few different people that my writing reminded them of hers, I’m not going to lie- I was perplexed. Who is this blog lady? Is she even any good? I don’t want to be known for being “like” somebody else. But that all changed the minute I went to her blog and got sucked into every post she’d ever written. I was honored to even be mentioned in the same breath. Lucky for me, she agreed to meet up with me when I reached out. She is one of the most sincere women I’ve ever met. Enough about Shannan herself 😉 let me tell you about her book, Falling Free. When I finished it, the first thing I did was text her and say, “I didn’t like your book.” Wanna know why? Because it challenged me, convicted me, and made me all shades restless. I didn’t like this book, I loved it. Honestly (I’m about to make a bold statement here), I wish I could take back all of the 5 star reviews I’ve handed out so easily and give it only to this book. Yup, I said it. The biggest sucker-punch in my gut happened towards the very beginning when she makes a statement regarding Christians. She challenges, are we living for Jesus or are we living the American Dream with a side of Jesus? Gulp. I’m tellin’ ya- if you dare read it, you will not walk away the same person. Her words are strung together in such a beautiful way that makes you want to re-read sentences just to absorb the depth of her writing. Her stories aren’t preachy or self-righteous, but full of hope and power that even the most ordinary people can have a rich life in Christ. And maybe even I need rescued from the life I always wanted…

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. {Reminded me I am loved}

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Lysa is a well-known author and public Christian figure. I was obsessed with her book, “The Best Yes” because it changed my life. “Uninvited” did the same. I read it in two sittings, underlining and snapping photos of sentences I never wanted to forget. I think it speaks volumes to her words that I was doing this on what seemed like every other page. If you want to get inside my head, just read chapter 3 “There’s a Lady at the Gym Who Hates Me” because I was laughing out loud as I read Lysa’s encounter with a lady at her gym who she conjured up this idea that the lady hated her, when in reality it was her own thoughts coming to that conclusion all along. It reminded me SO much of myself. The words in this book were healing for my anxious, rejection-ridden soul. I cannot pick just one quote from the book, but here’s one I’m still steeping: “How dangerous it is when our souls are gasping for God but we’re too distracted flirting with the world to notice.”

Quiet by Susan Cain. {Softened my heart}

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One of my husband’s best friends, whose become the brother I never had, Jason Miller, told me this book changed his life. That was all I needed to hear before running off to pick it up from the library. If you know J or his story at all, you know he’s a pretty incredible human. It may shock some people to hear that J is an introvert. He gets recharged by spending time alone, typically with his golden retriever (who was also the ring bearer in our wedding!), Jack. All of that to say, J deserves all of the credit for me choosing to read a book outside of my normal genre. I picked it up in hopes of gaining insight on the differences between introverts and extroverts, but finished it with a greater understanding of who I am as well as permission to be myself, free of guilt or shame. I strongly recommend this one for people who a.) consider themselves to be an introvert b.) are struggling with identity c.) are a teacher d.) are a parent e.) have friends who are quiet in ways they cannot understand …OK OK, everybody! The extensive time and research that Susan put into this book is undeniable. My biggest takeaway was a fascination, better understanding, and compassion for just how unique we all are.

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. {Reminded me I am loved}

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Honestly, I didn’t want to read this book at first. There was so much hype around it and I thought it would be just another thing to remind me that I suck at being present. (I couldn’t have been more wrong.) I’ve said it before, but I’m a recovering perfectionist, busy-bee, stressed-out control freak. Shauna didn’t add to the guilt and shame I feel for being wired the way that I am, rather she made me feel so much less alone in my struggles. As I read her words I kept thinking, Oh my gosh, could she be my long lost big sister? This book has served as the reality check I needed before it’s too late. So much of what Shauna shared accurately described me and some of it made me realize that if I didn’t change, things were only going to get worse. Somehow she left me feeling more loved than ashamed, and I will most likely read this one again very soon. It was just that good.

Ps. I don’t read books twice hardly ever, so that’s sayin’ something.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. {Softened my heart}

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This book is filled with real life stories that will make you question just how deep your compassion for people, who are hardest to love, runs. Gregory shares his experiences in the ghetto with people who, I don’t know about you, but I’m too scared to make eye contact with, let alone develop a relationship with. It wasn’t the easiest read because there’s a lot of slang and spanglish, but it was definitely thought provoking. Rather than the typical stereotype, I see gang members in a new light. Gregory’s stories soften your heart towards the scary looking gang member with the teardrop tattoo by his eye. He pushes the reader outside of their comfort zone to see that at our very core, we all have the image of God inside of us. Maybe because of upbringings, poverty, or unfortunate choices, people sometimes go down the wrong path, even some winding up a gang member, BUT we can all do our part to infuse hope into the life of a kid who’s stuck in despair. I strongly suggest this one for inner-city teachers, counselors, and social workers.

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs. {Reminded me I am loved}

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The truth is, the title didn’t strike me as something I needed. Without tooting my own horn, I must admit that I feel like I’m a pretty brave person already. However, I kept hearing how this was such a great read for many people I follow on social media, so I decided to purchase it. From the very beginning, I realized that Annie and I are two very different people. I’m more like her friend mentioned in the very beginning, Lyndsay, the natural-born risk taker. As I kept on reading though, I learned that as a writer, I could deeply relate to Annie. I keep this one quote tucked away in my pocket and reread it each time I start to feel discouraged: “God knows we need to dream in pieces because we would be too scared of the whole puzzle.” Annie encourages us all to just start somewhere. To believe you aren’t the runt of the litter.  To find your talent. To speak up. To say your yes’s and your no’s wisely. That courage is for every age. To change the world by being yourself. To march to the beat of your own drum. To remember the courage of Jesus. You should read this if you’re a dreamer, and especially if you’re single. Annie is a great encouragement for singles!

Outrageous by Aaron Tredway. {Gave me a good laugh}

Outrageous: Awake to the Unexpected Adventures of Everyday FaithAaron and his wife, Ginny, walked E and I through premarital counseling over two years ago. Aaron then married us on our big day! When I first heard that Aaron wrote a book I was so happy for him. I didn’t know if it was a dream of his coming true or something he’d worked his toosh off for years on, but what I did know was that because he lives what one might call an “unconventional” lifestyle, his stories would be outrageous. Outrageous they were! This book was my easiest read of 2016 and I mean that as a sincere compliment to Aaron. The stories are lighthearted and will make you laugh out loud. The language he used isn’t complicated or over anyone’s head. He won’t bore you with theology or Christianese. He doesn’t spend time trying to convince you to believe God is with you in the midst of your everyday. Instead, Aaron writes from a place of confidence that he already knows God is with you in the midst of your everyday, while encouraging you to wake up to see it for yourself. My favorite chapter: #8 “Shag the balls.” I’m laughing even as I type those words right now. Just take my word for it and read this one!

*Want to win a free signed copy of Outrageous? Enter by commenting directly on this post something outrageous that has happened in your life which you attribute to God. The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and contacted via email.

What are some of your favorite reads of 2016? I plan to make the most of traveling by plane and car this holiday season by reading a few more before the year is up! Name drop your favorites in the comments below.

XO, Manda

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62 comments

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I love Annie Downs! Her other book “Looking for Lovely” is excellent.

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Also something outrageous that happened to me that I don’t talk about a lot is the time I got in a really bad car accident. I was sitting on the side of the road slowly realizing that I had just totaled my car when too men came up to my door to help me out. One man was telling me to unlock my door and the other was very calm and specific. I know there were two because I looked at both of them in the eyes. THe calmer man was simply telling me to breathe and to do my anxiety breathing which I learned in counseling and once I was out of the car he gave me a rock to squeeze. . It struck me as odd that he knew that specific strategy but I went with it. Later on I started looking for the calm man to thank him and he was gone. To make it weirder no one remembered him but I still have that rock to this day. Don’t know if irbid wa an angel or Jesus or what but that still shakes me to this day in the best way possible. (:

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Allie, WOW! I got goosebumps reading that. God is OUTRAGEOUS and I’m so glad you’ve gotten to experience life with Him. You’ve been entered for the giveaway! XO

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So many outrageous things have happened in my life that I attribute to the Lord, but I think the biggest is how the Lord has constantly been my shelter and shoulder for help. It’s amazing to look at my life and see how the Lord has constantly been present. I would love to get that book!!

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Abby, I love that you give him ALL the credit! I wish we could meet in person so that I could hear more about your life and journey with Christ. Thanks for entering the giveaway for “Outrageous” 🙂

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Bringing my baby boy into the world! 💙

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Heather, I love that so much. And he’s a cute one 🙂 thanks for reading and sharing- you’ve been entered for the giveaway of “Outrageous” 🙂

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Thanks for a great list to start working on over Matt’s Christmas break – you know, when I can turn my mom brain off in the evenings for a bit ;]

Anyways. Outrageous God thing – finally being in a place where I not only forgave my dad for his role in my parents’ divorce, but wanting to be around him again and wanting my girls to know him. Because those wounds were deep. Only able to be healed by THE Healer.

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Girl, you amaze me – as a mother especially. I truly admire all of my mommy friends for their strength and ability to live such a selfless life. I know my time will come, but man, for now I’ll just sit in amazement at you all and pitch in a helping hand whenever I possibly can 🙂 As for your OUTRAGEOUS story – I have chills. You have no clue how much that resonates with me and my own relationship with my father. I felt a wave of grace rush over me once again as I read that, Dani. God is good. SO SO good. XO

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YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE OUTRAGEOUS BOOK, DANI! I will need you to email me your address and it will be mailed out asap. 🙂 XO

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Outrageous story….going into my sophomore year in high school, I was in Chicago, staying at Moody Bible Institute, where we were learning how to evangelize. The one afternoon, my group was sent to ride the Blue line train and find people there to talk to. After meandering around in our empty train car for 30 minutes, an older lady finally came on, and my friend and I walked up to her, sat in the seats caty-corner to her, and begin to ask her about her life. We learned that she loved to travel, had a family, and was getting ready to fly out to visit a friend out West. When we finally worked up the courage to ask her if we could talk about Jesus, the train pulled into the very last stop. We said our goodbyes, and our group left the station to sit outside while our leaders contemplated what we should do next. After 20 minutes and 5 trains leaving of loitering around outside of the station, our leaders decided that we should take the next train back into the city. My friend and I picked random car, in the middle of the train, and chose the same seats that we had sat in when we were talking to Anne, the lady we had just been talking to. As the train was getting ready to pull out of the station, we heard someone exclaim, “Oh! Look who it is!”. It was Anne! She sat down next to us, we again asked if we could talk about Jesus, and she began to share her life with us. She divulged that she views herself as a spiritual butterfly, flitting from one religion to the next. She said that she was a Christian, but had been hurt by the Church, and had seen other people who had been hurt by the Church. She didn’t see how a good God could allow people to be hurt by what He created, and so she chose to believe that there is a God, but that the God of the Bible is not a god who she wants to serve. We got to pray with her, and while I have no clue where she’s at today, I pray that because God saw it fit to have her appear on the same train as my friend and I for the SECOND time, He’s ever drawing her nearer to His heart. While this story may seem inconsequential and incidental to some, it was my chance encounters with Anne that began to shape my own faith, and I hope and pray hers as well.

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Katlyn, that really is OUTRAGEOUS and a beautiful picture of God’s love shining through YOU! Keep being awake to Him. He’s in the midst of your everyday, girl. XO

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I loved Present over Perfect!! Shauna felt like my friend as I read her words- heartwarming and breaking all in the same chapter.
Outrageous God! Living in AZ with a boyfriend in Idaho is not easy. One day I was especially missing him. We had talked that morning and I called him the bees knees. He had never heard the saying before and was so confused! Later on, he wanted to be sweet and call me the same thing but called me the birds knees instead! (LOL) I was killing time in Marshalls later that day thinking about my sweetheart and God places a lonesome mug on the shelf. What does it say on it? The bees knees. BEST wink from my outrageous God ever! He makes life so fun!

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It was SO good! I swear she wrote that book just for me 🙂 haha.
Thanks for sharing your “outrageous” story! It’s adorable. And I agree – life with an outrageous God is pretty fun 🙂

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Something outrageous that has happened in my life is a fullride scholarship to college! I was one of 5 in state students to receive a full ride to West Virgina University. I’m currently a sophomore. I was definitely not as qualified as some of the applicants because I went to a small high school with less opportunities, but I know God gave me favor with the committee! 🙂 He has continued to provide me a great church family here and amazing friends. He’s such a good good father!

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Lindsey- thanks for reading and sharing your “outrageous” story! 🙂 Congratulations on the full ride scholarship…that’s big time!!! He clearly has a path in mind for you, sister. XO

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Hey Manda 🙂 love this post! I also read uninvited and loved it!
Something outrageous that has happened to me is something I am actually still going through & processing in my life. This past January (10 months ago), I was walking home from work. When I crossed the street at a crosswalk I was hit by a car. Pain & fear set in deep and fast, I remember knowing my life would never be the same. I was taken to the ER, brought into surgery for my arm, which I what I thought would be the worst of it. The hardest news was the next day; just after I got out of surgery the surgeon came to my room and told me I also had broken my back. I wept. Screamed. I was truly overcome with fear. I spent the next month and a half confined to that hospital bed on bed rest. Couldn’t Stand up, sit up, I couldn’t do anything on my own. What a season of vulnerability and recognition of weakness. After the month and a half of bed rest, I learned to walk again, and wore a clunky (quite unfashionable 😉 ) back brace for another three months. There are so many things I could talk about here but the most absurd and crazy thing was God’s love. It lavished me in my doubts, quieted me in my fears, and lifted me in my weakness. Not only did he have His hand over me in the accident (the surgeon said had I broken it slightly further I would have been paralyzed…COME ON JESUS IS SO GOOD), but He stilled me in that hospital to finally set me free in His love, grace, and goodness. This journey is not over. I still am in a lot of pain and am limited daily. I still don’t know what the rest of my life looks like. But I love to speak life out of brokenness. And here is what I declare- Jesus will have the final victory and His love is so sweet in the bitterness of pain. ❤️

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Liv, WOW! Thank you for reading and sharing your “outrageous” story. Your attitude and your heart are so beautiful. I am so sorry to hear that you got hit and have to deal with pain and a long recovery process, but praise the Lord you are still here and able to be a light in an often dark world. You keep on encouraging and infusing others with hope, sister! XO

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God is so good! I met my boyfriend online and it was totally a God thing. He lives in California and I’m in Illinois. We weren’t looking for anyone outside where we lived, but God’s plans are bigger and better! I’m so thankful we’re in each other’s lives! I feel so blessed!

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Kristi, thanks for sharing your “outrageous” 🙂 God’s plans always top our own, huh? I love that you got to experience that in your own personal life.

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Love this book list! Just downloaded Antelope in the Living Room for a long plane ride!

I recently moved cities after graduating from college and felt completely alone. I was too far from my parents, my friends were all moving elsewhere, and my boyfriend was beginning his semester abroad. It wasn’t until I began my career at my new school teaching third grade that I really felt at home again. Sure, I really dislike waking up at 6am every day but I know in my heart God chose me to be here, at this school, with these kids. Teaching wasn’t something I always wanted to do, but boy am I glad He kept pushing me towards it. I am here for a greater purpose. To be the hands and feet of God and I know I’m doing just that.

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Ayzia – can’t wait to hear what you think of “The Antelope in the Living Room” 🙂

Love your “outrageous” story. You really are the hands and feet of Him each time you set foot in the classroom and selflessly serve. Always praying for my teacher friends! XO

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One thing that is outrageous that God does in my life is speaks to me through dreams a lot. Obviously not all dreams, but there have been numerous dreams he has shown me things or told me to reach out to people. I once had a dream a really old friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years was in the process of adopting two boys, but there were complications and problems going on. When I woke up I felt led to find her on social media and reach out to her. We reconnected, I told her about my “weird” dream and she was SHOCKED because her and her family were in the middle of adopting two brothers, but there were problems with the court and their birth mom, and she was overwhelmed, stressed, and full of fear. It was a totally outrageous God thing and I got to speak into her life, pray with her, and encourage her. God does the craziest and coolest things sometimes, and I’m just glad he invites me be apart of them! 🙂

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Mandy, I LOVE this! I got chills reading it. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I fully believe that God speaks to people through dreams sometimes. What an “outrageous” story 🙂 Thanks for sharing. XO

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Living in East Asia for a year and absolutely falling in love with the people!

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Megan, thanks for reading & sharing your “outrageous” story. 🙂 I tend to be much more aware to the presence of God whenever I’m in a foreign place. I bet living in East Asia for that length of time was such a time of maturing and learning for you!

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Love hearing about books others have read and been impacted by! Thank you!

An outrageous happening that I contribute to God would be my recent move to Hawaii! I felt God calling me out of my comfort zone to experience more in life. This past July I left all I knew back in Iowa…my family, my teaching position, and my church home/support group, to live in a culture unlike my own. While the experience has been nothing shy of amazing thus far, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its challenges. Over the past few months, I have learned the need to lean on Jesus to see me through all circumstances, and the importance of surrendering life to Christ, whose plan for life is far greater than you can ever imagine!

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Cassandra, thanks so much for reading & sharing your “outrageous” story! I think it’s INCREDIBLE the courage and faith you’re living out. Hawaii is still on my bucket list – perhaps I’ll have to come now that I have another friend there. 🙂

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Some great recommendations here! Sadly the only time I ever have a chance to read is when I travel, and even then I usually don’t get enough time. I’m especially interested in “Uninvited” and, because I love the way you write so much, I think I’ll have to add “Falling Free” to my list too!

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Lauren, I hear you! Now that I travel for work it’s much easier to set aside time to read. I hope you say no to something, if you can, or a chunk of time frees up soon so that you can devour “Uninvited” and “Falling Free.” They are both full of truths– the kind of truths that will change your life. The power of words is a beautiful thing. (Thanks for the sweet compliment about my writing!) XO

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My life took an outrageous turn after God prompted me that instead of moving to my dream city of Chicago with two of my best friends, I was to stay in my hometown and teach underprivileged children. Each day, I struggled to wake up and go to work. I was drained emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t find joy in much and I was very discouraged. A few months later, my question to God of “why” was answered. I got the opportunity to take an even bigger adventure and move to Barcelona, Spain for the year. I moved here and was connected with International Church of Barcelona. I used the skills I learned as being a teacher in a rough environment to show God’s love to the children I work with today in Spain. God never fails to remind me that His plan is always more outrageous, always broader.

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Jaz, I just love you! And I love the way you’re being obedient to Him. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s incredible how he’s revealing himself to you time and time again! Keep being OUTRAGEOUS. XO

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Outrageous… hmm.
The year was 2013. I was madly in love and patiently awaited a simple little ring on my left hand. I watched many of the Godly women step into this dream and could hardly wait as I repeated to myself, “love is patient, love is patient”. The plan was to move from Minnesota to North Carolina… Oh, what a dream to leave the frozen tundra for east coast life! But rather, God had a different plan. I felt him tugging my heart to Colorado and then to bike across America for trafficking victims! Stunned, I prayed over this thinking, “I’ve never been to Colorado and I love my bike, but all the way across!?! Both adventures were outrageous and I sit here with a heart full. Maybe not the way I had planned, but there is truly simplicity in taking the bend in the road the Lord asks you too. “Two roads diverged by wood, and I, I took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference”

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Kate, that is super inspiring! I know for a fact that you aren’t the only one whose been madly in love and itching for it to be “your turn” (so to speak). I am truly amazed by your courage and obedience to live an outrageous life with an OUTRAGEOUS God. The choice wasn’t easy, I’m sure, but how incredible that you got to bike across The States and FOR trafficking victims. Keep listening to him, sister. He’s got BIG and outrageous things in store for you. Also, adding your name into the drawing for the giveaway of this book now. 🙂

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Currently I”m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It talks about living a life of graditude no matter what you are faved with because in the end God’s grace is more than enough to be thankful for. Trying to read more so I will put these books on my list!

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Awesome, Desiree! “One Thousand Gifts” is another good one. I’m so glad you’re reading! Ann is an incredible writer and encouragement to my spiritual life for sure.

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Uninvited has been sucker punching me and I think I cry everytime I open the book: i love it.

Something outrageous that God has done in my life in the last two months is, I have recently went through a pretty rough breakup. We had dated a long time, had plans for engagement this year but I guess God had some different plans. I moved away from family a couple years ago to be closer to my boyfriend at the time. He was attending a university and I got an apartment near by. Anyways- God has brought a friend into my life since the day of the breakup that I had no idea was going through a divorce at the exact same time. Although our situations were much different God sent her into my life to encourage and build me up everyday. We allow each other to cry on each others shoulders but at the end of the day we remind each other that His joy comes in the morning. All this to say, God sent me an amazing friend to walk this lonely, confusing, painful season with. I am so greatful and I know full well that Gods plans are greater than mind and He is in the healing business and will healing heart! XO!

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Kelci, He is such a good God!!! I’m so glad He provided a friend, and beyond that- someone who you could relate to and be encouraged by. Break-up’s are the absolute worst, I know. I’ll be praying for you! Thanks for sharing your “outrageous” moment 🙂

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Hmm… There are a couple things I could post, but I’ll just post this one. A year ago I found out I was pregnant, I’m young, but I was still excited. After 8 weeks I miscarried. Despite the mass amount of pain I felt I was able to look up in that ultra sound chair and tell God I trusted him. This was the most profound moment in my life as a Christian.

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Delaney, I’m sorry for your loss. I have had several friends go through miscarriages and I know through their experience that it’s an awful thing to have to go through. How cool that through a tragedy you were able to connect even more deeply with The Lord. He’s an outrageously good and caring Father. Thanks for sharing your personal story. You’ve been entered for the contest to win the book!

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When I was younger I was always the basketball star and thought I was going to go to the WNBA someday. I struggled with a skin disease that not even doctors had heard of before, until we met one and that lady did research and finally diagnosed me with Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex, E.B. for short. I have a mild form of it and this makes it so that even the littlest bumps from anything will cut my skin. No one understood this skin disorder and my coaches and teammates just thought I was making this up, boy do I wish I was! My parents made me quit basketball, because they did not want me getting diseases or anything like that. I was so distraught and I cried for days, even today it still gets to me, but I realized it was all part of God’s plan for me. I just finish my senior year of cheer and I am currently being recruited to cheer at college. How cool is that? It is just a daily reminder to never give up, because God always has something better planned for your life!

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Mikayla, wow! Sorry you were diagnosed with E.B. 🙁 I’m glad God is doing cool things in your life despite it all. Thanks for sharing your “outrageous” story. God never stops loving us and providing for us in ways we can’t even realize. Best of luck with cheerleading! I was a cheerleader all 4 years of high school. Great memories!

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All of these books are on my wishlist, it’s so nice to read your reviews…thus making me want to read them more 🙂

Something outrageous. I am a perfectionist, a planner, a bit of a control freak and our family is delving into foster care….which is messy, totally unplanned and completely uncontrollable!

Over the past four years we’ve struggled with secondary infertility. In the midst of our pain we felt nudged to pursue a path that would challenge us and potentially break our hearts. We tried very hard to ignore the nudging, knowing how hard this calling would be on our family and the sacrifices we would need to make. We tried to turn the other cheek, choosing instead to consult with medical doctors and homeopaths to continue trying to grow our family on our own. We’ve learned though, that you can only ignore a calling for so long before it becomes a path you can no longer deny. A path that you once ran from, but now find yourself running towards. A little over two years ago foster care was laid on our hearts and it is very likely that we will be welcoming a new little into our home, into our hearts before Christmas, possibly before Thanksgiving. We don’t know how long any littles will stay with us or what the stay will be like. There is so much we don’t know and so much we won’t be allowed to share. We do know; however, there is a dire need in our community and that God has placed on our hearts for us to step out in faith and become a foster family. So, my husband, myself along with our 5 and 6 year old daughters are about to embark upon an outrageous journey!

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Tara, that is SO cool to hear! I have so much respect for people who are willing to take in a child who’s not their own biologically, but love them as if they were. Not sure if you knew this about me and my husband, E, but we don’t have any children of our own and are anxiously looking ahead to August 2017 when we will become foster parents. (We have to wait until then because we won’t be out of our studio apartment until then.) We also want to adopt someday, but have no intentions of doing that anytime soon – we’ll see if God says otherwise 😉

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Oh, that’s so great! Yay!

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I enjoyed this review and will be checking a few of these books out! I have been reading Uninvited and I can’t get over the depth of truth and how it resonates with my heart. I have been through years of depression and I know what it’s like to hear all kinds of lies that seem to be what defines you. I struggled for years with my identity because I was fixing it on a “what” rather than a “who”. It’s who God is that gives us our purpose. And now anything I do flows from my being! God really worked in my heart through romans 8 and the Uninvited book. Thank you for your encouraging words and for sharing your journey! 🙂

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YES! Melissa, it sounds like you and I have a lot in common. “Uninvited” was definitely ground-breaking for my soul. I hope you do get the opportunity to read the other 8 books on this list because they truly have impacted me in ways I can’t describe justifiably. XOXO

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Adopting as a single mama. I literally couldn’t do it without Jesus.

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Bryn! That is AMAZING. First off, mad respect for single mama’s because I was raised by one. Second of all, E and I want to adopt someday and I have a huge heart for foster/adoptive parents. 🙂 Finally, I love the simplicity of your statement, too, “I literally couldn’t do it without Jesus.”

You’ve been entered for the giveaway of “Outrageous” …XO

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So incredible Bryn!

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I love all your feedback on these books. So excited to read them myself. A few have been on my list but really excited for the new ones I can add. Thank you for taking the time to write this review and to be so open with how it ministered to you!!❤️❤️

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No problem, Leslie! Glad to hear other people keep (long) reading lists, too! Books and words have so much power and they’re changing my life, so I know they’ll have a profound impact on other’s as well. 🙂

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My most recent miracle is the birth of my 4th child. 7 months ago, I went into the ER. They told me I was miscarrying. I begged for an ultrasound. I wanted to see the baby that would join my first in Heaven. Finally, they gave me my wishes- there, on the screen, was a baby that did not show any signs of distress even though my body was showing differently. Fast forward to two weeks ago- things went from normal to awful in a minute as I was whisked away for a CSection due to a prolapsed cord, my sweet baby boy was cutting off his own oxygen. Thankful for God that guided my doctors hands, the faith He gave Matt and I, and our beautiful 4th baby boy that He obviously has a wonderful life planned for. I thank Him often for the miracle that happened with Kellan. A minute later and it would have been a different story. I’m thankful to be living His story.

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Wow! Sarah, I had no idea of all that was happening with this pregnancy. I’m SO glad your sweet boy #4 is here with us! God is so faithful. Thanks for sharing your outrageous story. XO

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Outrageous story – almost 3 years ago to the day, I was laid off my job in Granger, IN. It was the best job I ever had and I was devastated. A few days later, on a whim, I decided to change my online dating profile to Akron, OH. The next day my husband messaged me. 🙂

Love you, Manda Sue!

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Lis! I never knew that’s how it all happened. SO cool. God is faithful! I love that he provided the most incredible man to be your partner in this life. 🙂 XO Love you!!!

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Thanks for sharing! You know I love good reads!! One OUTRAGEOUS thing God has done in my life…I’d say my top one has to be the way he’s done a 360 in my heart and in my marriage. The hate and bitterness, hard-hearted coldness has been replaced with love and grace, peace and joy (on most days anyway 😜). Xo

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Love it, T!! 🙂 I know He’s done multiple OUTRAGEOUS things in your life, including the leap of faith to leave teaching and start B Present which is not only changing lives physically and mentally, but SPIRITUALLY! It gives me chills to think about it and I’m so thankful I have gotten to be a part of something truly life-giving. Our God is SO good it gives me butterflies just thinking about it. Thanks for entering the Outrageous book giveaway. XO

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First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Many thanks!

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Hi Thelma,
Thanks for saying that! For me, I tend to write on the go constantly within the notepad of my iPhone- jotting things down as they come to mind or as they’re observed. Then, I pray and ask God to give me the words someone needs to hear. Like an arrow leaving its bow, I sit and release what’s bottled up inside. Hope that helps 🙂 Don’t overthink it. XO

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Oooohh I’ve read a few of these, and they are GOOD! I’m going to have to add the others to my list!!!

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Hey very interesting blog!

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