3 Books I’m Reading this Winter {And Why You’ll Want to Read Them Too}

Winter read
I love reading year-round but especially so in winter.

Everything about the season woos even the nonchalant reader into its web. Frigid breezes, barren branches, and darker days all invite us to come in, bundle up, light the logs, and pour a cup of tea. What better way to answer the invite than with a book in hand?

 

3 Favorite Books This Winter
The three books I’m reading this winter are above average, one in particular. Let’s begin there.

 

Jesus in the Beanstalk…Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, by Lori Roeleveld.

 

Jesus in the BeanstalkDon’t let the clever fairy-tale inspired title fool you. This book isn’t for fluff-seekers. It’s for those who, like me, have grown weary of living in a land of giants. Yes, our culture offers a plethora of its own giants but I’m convinced giant slaying begins at home. Every giant-slayer first requires the Word, as Lori points out, but this book is the second thing I read during my time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s a full chapter, other times just a paragraph. It’s not a book to gulp down but to savor. Her questions at the end of each chapter often marinate in my mind throughout the day. Add Lori’s sense of humor to the mix, and you hold a book that will motivate you to pick up a nearby rock and slip out your sling. I can’t say enough about this book and its impact on my life.

One fave quote: “It’s important for Christians not just to believe in God but also to believe God, trust what he says enough to obey him. The enemy has been clever to convince us that what God offers is dry and boring–and it is if we allow the truth to remain on the surface. But if we bury it deep in the soil of our souls and expose it to the light and the living water of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves clinging to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15). We discover that we, too, are giant-killers.”

 

The Story of With…A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create, by Allen Arnold

 

The Story of WithThe Story of With may have never crossed my radar except for Lynn Blackburn’s excellent review on Edie Melson’s, The Write Conversation. {Thank you, Lynn}

The first and last part of the book is non-fiction. He unfolds a story illustrating his points in between, which I admit to skipping. I’m sorry. I’m a shoot-it-to-me kind of girl. When I want a novel I’ll read Lynn’s or Edie’s. A quick flip to the back proved to be gold. So many relevant nuggets. For me, the main takeaway is that we often rush off to do God’s work instead of inviting the Holy Spirit into the creative process.

One fave quote: “You can experience a sense of expectancy in the midst of interruptions, knowing the unplanned can lead to something better than anything you could have planned. Imagine stepping into your relationships and creativity with a power that isn’t limited to your solutions or strength?”

 

 

Fierce On The Page…Become the Writer You Were Meant To Be and Succeed On Your Own Terms,
by Sage Cohen

 

Fierce on the PageMy first introduction to author and poet Sage Cohen was her book, “Writing the Life Poetic”. It remains a staple on my shelf. So imagine my delight when I learned of her latest release, Fierce on the Page. The book was still warm when it arrived in my mailbox. Yep, it was hot off the press. With 75 brief but brilliant chapters on using ferocity to transform your craft, there is something for every writer.

One fave quote: “Writing can teach us who we are and what we are called to say. You become the person who could write the poems, as Stanley Kunitz advises, through the writing of the poems–and the stories and articles and essays. Doing what is true for you is the path to becoming your own best expert.”

 

 

I’d love to hear your process when reading more than one book at a time. For me, I use Lori’s book most days during my time with the Lord and on other days, I pepper my time with Allen’s. I carry Sage’s book in my purse, snatching extra moments as they come my way.

What are you reading this winter? And I have to ask: Coffee or tea?

**The Story of With is only $2.99 on Kindle right now!

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How to Live a Grace-Paced Life

An Unhurried LifeLet’s begin with a disclaimer. The Baker household has experienced anything but a grace-paced life in recent months. Prepping our hundred-year-old home to sell has taken on a life of itself. By the time this post goes live the house should finally be on the market.

Perhaps it’s because of the chaotic nature of life that I was immediately drawn to Alan Fadling’s, “An Unhurried Life…Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest” highlighted on Emily P. Freeman’s site. Or it could be that at the core of my very being I desire above all else to be more like Jesus in both rest and play.

In An Unhurried Life, there are eleven chapters highlighting topics such as productivity, temptation, caring, praying, resting, suffering, maturing and spiritual practices. Today, I’m sharing two fistfuls of favorite excerpts…and I’m only on page 46. {I wanted to rev up my reading skills so I could finish the book in its entirety before posting.} Yep, this book was written for me. Maybe you’ll see hints of your own hurry below.

10 Quotes to Inspire A Grace-Paced Life

  • Told to John Ortberg during a transition in his ministry life: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
  • “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
  • “I feel hurried inside even when nothing actually urgent is on my schedule. Hurry has become a habit: I find myself stuck in emergency mode.”
  • “I realize that an unhurried life is not a lazy life. In fact, it can be the exact opposite. Jesus was unhurried, but he was not lazy He was engaged, hardworking, purposeful, and conscientious.”
  • “I’m aware that God’s great commandment to us isn’t ‘Get more things done,’ but to love him with the whole of our energies, capacities, and passions to extend that love to others. And love isn’t rushed.”
  • “God is never in a hurry.”
  • “Being unhurried does not mean being unresponsive to divine nudges. Being unhurried enable us to notice those nudges and to respond.”
  • “I don’t think I’ll find my deepest joy in the number of people who liked something I said or did. I’m coming to believe that my greatest joy will be being part of an extended community of men and women with whom I’ve shared a journey with Jesus, living out his life in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and schools, and the church communities where God has planted us.”
  • “Despite Jesus’ example, I find it a continual temptation to do things that will get a lot of people excited about what I’m doing⎯and get them excited now!”
  • “Do our conversations about ministry revolve around growing numbers of participants, successful programs or other easily measured outcomes? Or do we tell stories about particular people who are responding to Jesus, stories of seeds of gospel truth sown in people’s hearts that will grow into the fruit of Christlikeness?”

Now that’s a lot of unhurried goodness. Wouldn’t you agree?

All the above quotes struck a chord in me but the second one pressed in a little deeper. A disordered heart? I know it’s true. I also know I can’t wait until life settles down to take it before the Lord and wrestle through the necessary changes.

I’m discovering that a grace-paced life can be embraced even when everything else feels like it’s falling apart.

Did a particular quote speak to you? I’d love for you to share it in the comment section if so. We hurried-prone peeps need to know we’re not alone. {Wink.Wink.}

5 Bloggers Who Will Inspire You

inspireTo inspire another is a beautiful thing.

And these five bloggers consistently bring it. Obviously they’re not alone when it comes to inspiring so watch for more bloggers to be highlighted here in the future.

But today, I’m delighted to introduce you to the first five bloggers brimming with inspiration:

 

 

 

 

One-5

Beth Saadati // Bittersweet: Because Sweet Still Follows Bitter…Even in Loss. This is a blog no mother ever wants to create. It’s vulnerable. It’s heart-wrenching, and yet quietly inspiring. You see, it’s a story focused on the aftermath of Beth’s 14 year old daughter, Jenna, who committed suicide three years ago. She speaks of loss, her words as heavy as her heart. But Beth’s story, above all, radiates great Light and insight for parents and teens.

2

Merissa // Little House Living – I admit she had me at the vintage Mason jar on her blog header. Frugal living tips, garden tours, and recipes from scratch soon followed and I was hooked. I hope to begin embracing my own simple kind of rhythm as we move forward in our plans to trek across town to the foothills.

3

Helene // Helene-In-Between – When Bloglovin’ pops up in my inbox, I’m scanning the list for this site. Boundless blogging tips for writers, and non-bloggers are sure to enjoy her travel posts. Beautiful pictures, timely tips, and fun giveaways will inspire you for days to come. {You’ll definitely want to follow her on Pinterest.}

4

Kenzie // Hello Neverland – Everything about Kenzie’s site inspires — the white space, the clean lines, the content. It’s all there and more. Some of the subjects covered on this site: Faith, Writing/Journaling, Intentional Living, Clean Living, Creativity, etc. Her recent book review on More: Find Your Personal Calling and Live Life to the Fullest Measure by Todd Wilson is excellent.

5

themoreofless

Joshua Becker // Becoming Minimalist – “Let’s be known for the lives we live. Not the things we buy.’ His words on this site, as well as his books, are simple, to the point, and a tad convicting. Okay, who am I kidding? For people like me, it’s more than a tad, but I need to receive it in bits so it’s not overwhelming. His latest book, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own has arrived in my mailbox. Now to find it under all my half-packed boxes. 🙂

 

 

Have you visited any of the sites above? Do you have a favorite blogger who inspires you? I’d love to hear more! Who knows? They may end up on the next blog featuring inspiring bloggers. Please share in the comment section.

 

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Three Books I’m Loving Right Now and Why

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

My name is Cathy Baker and I am a book snob. 

Okay, perhaps snob is a little harsh, but I am a bit of a  persnickety reader.

I admit I’m not an avid reader of fiction, and when I do read it, the pages turn slower. I prefer the feel of a book in my hands over the strain on my eyes reading my e-books, but I still have plenty of those as well. I prefer new books over used ones. They smell better. Is that bad? I tend to buy books based on covers and Amazon reviews. And finally, I prefer to purchase books instead of borrowing from the library only because I love to mark up my books. Fiction or non-fiction, we never know when an idea will spark, or when we’ll run across a new word we want to add to our ever-growing notebook of words. {Okay, maybe snob isn’t such a stretch after all.}

Finally, I refuse to read (or finish) anything that doesn’t hold my attention. Life’s too short. For this reason, and many more, I’m especially excited to share what I’m reading these days, mainly due to the first one.

Finding Grace, by Allison Green Martin

Allison and her uber-talented mom, Jane, attended our local writer’s group a few years back {when this book was in the works}. They drove from NC (an hour) to attend so their dedication to doing the work was never in doubt. I was excited to be a part of her critique group for this book and you can only imagine my surprise when I discovered my name in her acknowledgements section! {Thank you again, Allison!} We never know what blessings will come from being a part of a critique group. 🙂

Finding Grace, Allison’s debut novel, is one of those books you can’t put down, which is saying something from a sparse fiction reader. Her attention to details and the fluidity of the story is superb. You are sure to fall in love with “Grace”. I especially love the fact that the novel is set in Shady Grove, NC. Bravo, Allison!


The Simple Living Handbook…Discover the Joy of a De-Cluttered Life, by Loriless Lippincott

With a tremendous decluttering effort on the horizon, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the book but it was the word “Simple” that initially caught my eye.

As a sentimental semi-hoarder {did I just admit that?} I found a few pointers especially convicting enlightening:
“You are not your stuff and your stuff does not define you. Your stuff is not your memories {Ouch!} Your stuff is not your friend–he or she may have been with you or given it to you, but your friend will not vanish as a person if you get rid of the stuffed poodle.” Nothing really new here, but it’s a good (and quick) read.


The Life Giving Home…Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming, by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

Okay, so this one just arrived in the mail last week, but I had to include it. I may not be able to share what I’ve read or learned, but I can give you the reasoning behind this purchase.

I love this line on the back cover: Secrets to making home the place your family longs to be. At first glance, I felt it may not be a good fit since our kids are now grown with kids of their own, but our season in life doesn’t diminish my desire to make my loved ones feel loved.

This introvert has much to learn so I was delighted to stumble across this find, especially one with such rave reviews (5 stars). 🙂

Okay, your turn! What are you reading these days? Do you think you’ll try one or more of the above books?

And don’t forget….

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried Herbal Rose Tea, you’re in for a treat!
Imagine sipping tea in a rose garden. {No fancy gloves required!} Because this is one of my all-time favorite teas, I had to share a canister with you in this month’s giveaway.
To enter, simply leave a comment on today’s post sharing your favorite flavor of tea, or ways I can pray for you, or both.
{I’m assuming you’re a tea drinker if you’ve read this far.} Next
Wednesday, March 2, I’ll announce the winner of the random drawing done
via Random Name Picker.
For each comment you leave between now and next Monday’s post, I will
add your name to the list for drawing. Thank you and good luck!

 

4 Ways I Love to Celebrate Lent

“Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.” -Ann Voskamp

For those of you who, like me, didn’t grow up celebrating Lent there is much to learn, and much to celebrate. Jesus Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert are the spiritual foundation for the season that begins on Ash Wednesday.

Thomas Merton wrote, “Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts: but for realizing what we had perhaps not seen before.”

Lent officially began February 10th, but we know it’s never too late to worship, or to discover new ways to worshipping, even if we didn’t grow up celebrating the Lenten season.

Below are four resources I LOVE and have used. I hope you’ll share yours in the comment section!

 

I’m using Ann Voskamp’s free 40 Day Lent Devotional this year. I wish I’d started on the 10th, but I didn’t, so I will begin where I am.
Here are some quotes on Lent to consider during this season, and every day:
“The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; it is hearing with the spirit, with your whole being.” Fr. Thomas Merton
“Lord, have mercy on me! … I make no effort to conceal my wounds. You are my physician, I your patient. You are merciful; I stand in need of mercy.” St. Augustine
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Do you have a go-to resource for the Lenten season (February 10-March 24), or what is one way you choose to prepare your heart for Easter? 

Why Tim Keller’s Latest Book Shows Up During My Quiet Time

One particular gift from my Christmas list, The Songs of Jesus..A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, by Timothy and Kathy Keller, has become a meaningful accompaniment during my quiet times.

Off and
on over the years, I’ve read a psalm a day along with a chapter in
Proverbs, matching that day’s date to the corresponding chapter. Its
lyrical prose reads like a songbook — one that is active and alive —
resonating with the soul and all that matters most.

So why would I recommend this particular book? Let me count the ways. Three, to be exact.

  • It’s biblically sound. Enough said. 🙂
  • It’s versatile. Three options are offered on ways to approach the book. One way is to read it straight through, as is. Each small page shares Scripture verses, which are written out, a brief summary, and a prayer. Secondly, you could also look up and study the embedded scripture found in the summary and/or prayer section. And lastly, show up with a blank journal and read the psalm portion twice slowly, asking three questions as you go: {Adore} What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him? {Admit} What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent? {Aspire} What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, and act on?
  • It’s foundational for new devotees and rich with depth for longtime learners. Tim’s inviting style welcomes the newest of Christ-followers while also challenging those who’ve dusted off their sandals more than once on this journey.

 

The
book of Psalms can revolutionize our devotional life, our family
patterns, and the fellowship and witness of the church of Jesus
Christ. -Willem VanGemeren 

So there it is — three reasons why I would recommend this devotion to not only those who consider themselves to be Christ-followers but also to those who are still searching.

“The
more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as
our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer – See more at:
http://www.leadershipresources.org/blog/quotes-about-the-book-of-psalms/#sthash.YLMpcRvS.dpuf

How about you? Do you have a devotion book that you would recommend? 

{Coming up next Monday, you’ll not want to miss our interview with Dee Dee Parker, as she shares a glimpse of what her quiet time with the Lord looks like and how a forsythia bush often finds its way into that sacred time.}