Saturday, May 4, 2019

Spring 2019 Books

One of my new year’s solutions was to read at least 5 new books within the year. Looking back at 2018, I didn’t read many books besides my Bible and school textbooks. Recently, I have learned that while there is obviously no substitute for Scripture, Christian literature helps to enhance learning and revelation. 

By the beginning of March, I accomplished my goal... and then some! I have continued to add to my “books I’ve read in 2019” list. I’ve “read” 5 new books and 2 books were rereads that I wanted a refreshed perspective.

I put the word “read” in quotations because sitting down to read a book is hard in the midst of my fast-paced, college lifestyle. When I do have down time, I normally want to spend time with family or sleep to catch up on rest. I reevaluated how I was spending my time and noticed that I used a lot of time driving to and from campus. I decided to use my nifty-difty bluetooth aux in my car and listen to audiobooks. Through the Bellevue bookstore, I’m able to “read” many books as I drive.


The first book that I read was Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. My life group at church was going through this book, and I wanted to be a part of the study. Like I mentioned above, I had little time to sit down and read so this was my start to the audiobook adventure.

She writes, “If I were your enemy, I’d disguise myself and manipulate your perspectives so that you’d focus on the wrong culprit—your husband, your friend, your hurt, your finances, anything or anyone except me. Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you’re fighting for something. Even though all you’re really doing is just . . . fighting. For nothing.”

Fervent highlights the power of prayer and the “how-to” behind strategic, battleground prayer. One of my favorite things about this book was that Priscilla was the voice reading her book! It helped to emphasize her original meaning. There was definitely more of an awareness of spiritual warfare after reading this book.

The next book I “read” was Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I have read 7 Men and 7 Women by Metaxas, and I absolutely LOVE the way he writes! His books are what spurred on my love for biographies! The “student edition” was the only one offered via audiobook, but I really enjoyed the wording and stories. 

Bonhoeffer takes you into the life of a man who made a huge impact on the world. In the midst of the Holocaust, Bonhoeffer skillful and strategically played his role as a “paster, martyr, prophet, and spy.” This was an excellent read!

Next on my list was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I loved listening to this audiobook because Gary Chapman himself reads to book with his personal inflections and emphasis. 

While this specifically highlights a husband and wife relationship, I have been able to use my knowledge about the love languages toward others—like a parent, sibling, or friend. It’s fun to figure out someone’s love language. For example, my mom’s love languages are words of affirmation and acts of service. When I really want to show that I appreciate her, I should clean out the dishwasher or fold the piles of laundry, and when I’m done, I should leave an encouraging note for her to read. This was a challenging and encouraging read!

I LOVE Amy Carmichael! Her story is sweet and special. This book—If— was a quick read! In fact, I “read” through it twice! It is a poem-sort of book, leading with “If... than I know nothing of Calvary Love.”

“If my attitude be of fear, not faith, about the one who has disappointed me; if I say 'Just what I expected,' if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.”

“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind work, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

She would only break from the beautiful repetition for little nuggets like these: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” How beautiful! Am I filled with sweet water that overflows? Or do I easily become impatient or angered when life kicks—and kicks hard.

Kisses from Katie was a reread for me. I read it back in middle school or early high school because a friend encouraged me too. I didn’t remember all about it except for a few certain stories, so I decided I would read it again!

This wasn’t exactly the safest book to read while I drove to and from campus because it often moved me to tears in each chapter. Kisses from Katie highlights Katie’s story of being a missionary in Africa with a house-full of adopted daughters. She wrote, “Adoption is the gospel in my living room.” What a beautiful picture!

She would share life stories, and what she learned from each of them. In one scenario she said, “The children would run to me with gifts of stones or dirt, and I saw myself filthy and broken offering my life to the God of the Universe & begging him to make it into something beautiful.”

My first “actual” book this year was a good one—The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee. I read this book as an “assignment” for my discipleship group, but WOW, did I have so many valuable take-aways!

This book focuses on the outward man (fleshly emotions and opinions or a person) and the inward man (the Spirit’s working in our lives). We must experience brokenness in order to live in the fullness of the spirit-filled life. 

“Before the outward man is broken, you are occupied with your own things. You walk in your own way. You love your own people. If God wants to use your love in loving the brethren, He must first break your outward man. This love of yours is thereby enlarged.”

Finally, I the second physical book I have read this year is The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. This is another reread from when I read it the first time in 8th grade. Every time I read this book, it’s humbling, and it was encouraging to read it with my discipleship group!

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” This book highlights key attributes of God, yet however much we know through Scripture or personal Spirit-experience, we can’t even grasp the majesty and awesomeness of our God! God is ever-eternal, ever-merciful, and ever-sovereign. 

As he challenges our broken church at the beginning and the end of the book, he says, “Acquaint yourself with God.” That is the key to experience His glory and learn the depths of his character.


Honestly, I’m kind of surprised I was able to finish my goal of “5 new books in 2019” this spring... I even had 2 additional rereads! I value the wisdom I learn from these pages (or audio in my car haha!). Whether gleaning from a man’s life how to live boldly or a college-girl’s life of caring for her African daughters, learning how to pray and how often I fall short of Calvary’s Love, or sitting awestruck at God’s indescribable attributes, I am thankful for the blessing of reading. This short synopsis is SO surface level in comparison to the depth I’ve learned in these pages!

So now, school’s done, and summer’s here! I’m off to read my next book!

Friday, September 1, 2017

My SLU Experience | 8.22.2017

Dr. Jay Strack has said, “You will be the same person ten years from now except for the books you read, the places you go, the people you meet, and the Scripture you memorize.” Whenever someone asks what my favorite part about my SLU experience is, it is always hard to narrow down all the memories, knowledge, and experiences into one “favorite.” However, most of the time I tell questioners this quote because I believe it encompasses my entire SLU experience of a lifetime.

“The books you read” … Before SLU 101 even began, my dad was super pumped about me getting to go on this trip. Through all of his excitement, he told me to read. He found the SLU reading list, and he ordered all the books for me to begin to surround myself with the knowledge and prepare myself for this experience. Before this, I enjoyed reading; however, my normal reading plan was filled with romance novels and Christian fiction, not biographies and leadership information books like what was on the SLU reading list. Through all of the books I have read over the years—from the SLU reading list to more biographies and informative books that I have added myself—I have learned so much more than I would have had I not read. When different situations arise, I use the wisdom gained from the books and apply it. We all grow through the SLU sessions, but books bring more in-depth challenges to leadership and they continue the excitement of the one week SLU to a lifetime of application. With biographies, there is wisdom to be gained through that person’s life. With informative books, there is life application through nuggets of wisdom in between the lines. Ten years from now, my future will be changed because I read thought-provoking books.

“The people you meet” … While the books I read really began at 101, the people I met at 201 truly changed my perspective. At SLU 201 in Washington D.C., we heard from amazing speakers, including founders of nonprofit organizations, governmental senators, actors, and military men. I had never been so exposed to so many wise people in one place. From the podium, each spoke wisdom individually into our lives. Specifically from 201, I have learned to soak up wisdom from anyone that is willing to share. Whether a college student who is only in town for the summer telling me how to be prepared for college or an older lady in the grocery store that I have never met showing me how to have joy in the mundane, I have learned to listen. I remember a time when several out of town college students stayed at our house for two days. They had so much wisdom to share about their college journeys. I only wish I had more time to spend talking with them! I’ve learned to never take anyone for granted. With the people you meet, always listen. Learn from their experience. The people you meet will change you and make you wiser.

“The places you go” … SLU 301 was the first time I had ever been out of the country. While I didn’t know what to expect at first, I saw both similarities and differences. The European people looked the same, yet their culture and way of living was slightly different than anything I had ever experienced before. Even after one day of being on a different continent, my perspective was changed forever. Since 301, I have been to two other continents (Colombia, South America on a mission trip and Israel in the Middle East with SLU 401), and seeing the different ways people live is life changing. When you experience a totally new culture and environment, your life is forever altered. When you meet people from different parts of the world, your heart yearns to meet them at their point of need, and your heart is expanded for sharing Christ with the nations. Your perspective changes. Your goals change. Your life changes. The places you go changes you.

“The Scripture you memorize” … Before the SLU 401 trip to the Holy Land, I felt God’s call in my personal walk with Him for me to memorize more Scripture. After a few weeks of Scripture memory, I saw the importance of it especially in spiritual warfare against the devil. I even applied a lesson I learned from a speaker at 201 to pray Scripture over people in our spheres of influence. Chaplain Barry Black said, “When you pray back the promises, you move the hand of the Omnipotent.” Because of my foundation in memorizing Scripture, God’s Word came alive on 401! With my mind full of the Bible, I experienced SLU 401 to its full potential. I would not have been able to see all God had in store if I didn’t memorize Scripture beforehand. It also would not have meant as much if I did not know the Scripture references to the places we were visiting. With 401 and with all of life, God has the power to open our spiritual eyes in different situations and bring Scripture we have memorized to the forefront of our mind. The hardships of this world pale in comparison to the power in God’s Word. Your life will be changed by the Scripture you memorize.

But now that my SLU experience is over, how do I continue to think, dream, and lead? How do I keep my dream alive? While this is the whole purpose of SLU, many forget to continue to live the life of a leader who pursues excellence. If we continue to apply the wisdom we learn from books, people, places, and Scripture, I believe we will grow into the leader that God desires us to be. My challenge for myself is to continue to read books that are thought-provoking, listen to others and the wisdom that they have, go places to experience the world through different eyes, and memorize more and more of God’s precious Words of life. Will you join me?

My Suggested SLU Reading List*
Before SLU 101
Leadership Rocks by Jay Strack
The Call by Brent Crowe

Before SLU 201
Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Lincoln Speaks to Leaders by Pat Williams
Identity Theft by Jay Strack
Truth Matters by Andreas Kostenberger

Before SLU 301
Seven Men by Eric Metaxas
William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity by Kevin Belmonte
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
The Boys of Pointe du Hoc by Douglas Brinkley
ReImagine by Brent Crowe
Seven Women by Eric Metaxas

Before SLU 401
Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick
Read as much of the Bible as possible—I suggest looking at the schedule for each day of 401 and researching where the places are in the Bible before you go on the trip (example: for Mt. Carmel, I wrote down and read 1 Kings 18:19-40).

*Based off of SLU’s official Recommended Reading List, but I added my additional book suggestions, and took off those I did not read.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Reading 2017... and how it has changed me

As college starts up next week, my summer is quickly coming to a close. I set a goal to "read a lot" in the summer. Without any major or specific books in mind, I simply went for it and read a lot. With all the busyness of travel and college preparation, I surprised myself with how many books I read, and I decided I wanted to share with you the six that I completed this summer of 2017.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst... I went through this book with a mentor and best friend as we entered the busy season of summer and looked on to the future of college. Through the book and the times meeting together, we learned what it means to choose the best yes. God places many good decisions in our life because if there was only one wrong choice and only one good choice, we would lose are free will when it comes to choosing good. While there are many good decisions to choose from, Lysa encourages her readers to decide what is best in your life. She shows how to practically apply wisdom to those many decisions.

"There is no perfect decision--only the perfectly surrendered decision to press through our fears and know that God is working in us to bring about good through us."

I have applied the wisdom in this book so much already. I tend to be a people pleaser--never saying no because I feel obligated and guilty if I don't help someone--but this book has helped me identify when to say no and when to say yes. Whether it be saying no to a coffee date because my schedule is already filled, saying yes to playing with my siblings because I'm moving out for college soon, this book is filled with insight on how to make the best yes.

The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick... I'll be honest, I started reading this book because it was a requirement for a leadership position I was in. However, after the first chapter, I was hooked. Lomenick intertwines profound leadership principles with real life examples of people living out those principles. He doesn't write about unattainable qualities, but urges leaders to step up and lead NOW.

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom like,

"Always choose the job that no one else wants."

"Capable leaders are constant leaders."

"Making a difference many times starts with just simply making a move."

"See where you want to be and lead like you're already there."

While challenging, this book gets leaders excited to lead now. In my own life, repeating the little sayings of wisdom (some seen above) pushes me to meet the challenge and pursue excellence in leadership.

7 Women by Eric Metaxas... About a year ago, I read Metaxas' 7 Men, and I was amazed by how he put his readers into the shoes and lives of the men he wrote about. I knew I needed to read his following book about seven amazing women of the world. This book shows how seven women, each in different situations, changed the world for the glory of God. 

"Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa--each of these world-changing figures followed the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity."

I have been challenged to look into the lives of these women and apply the character qualities in my own life so I, too, can change the world. 

The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas... I have wanted to read this book for a while, but I finally pushed myself to read it over this summer. Thomas inspires his readers to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first as you step into a season of looking for a marriage partner. He covers a variety of topics in order to help readers prepare their own heart for marriage before they look for someone to marry. Thomas uses Scripture to navigate the "why" of marriage, not the "who."

"[Bad marriages] usually erupt from trying to build a life together without purpose, without mission, without something that not only establishes a connection but keeps you caring about each other for the next fifty to sixty years."

I have applied this book in my own life through the wisdom it offers combined with the wisdom of the Word. Anyone who thinks they would like to get married, is in a dating relationship, or is already married should read this book!

The Bible's Seven Secrets to Healthy Eating by Joyce Rogers... With my interest in being a dietitian, my dad pulled this treasure out of his office library and gave it to me to read. I have been so challenged and inspired by Mrs. Rogers' book. She applies both Scripture and healthy eating to how we should treat our bodies. As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we need to take care for our bodies in any way we can.

Mrs. Rogers quotes from Dr. Baxter who said, "How many thousands today are in our overcrowded hospitals who never would have been there but for wrong eating! How many have inadvertently committed slow suicide with their knifes and forks!"

I have definitely been able to apply this book as I store up her wisdom for my future career. Making it practical for anyone, Mrs. Rogers places a list of recipes in the back of the book so that readers can apply what she taught in the earlier part of the book. 

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris... My boyfriend recommended this book to me, and I could not put it down when I started reading it. This book is written by teens, for teens, to challenge each other to rebel against low expectations. The Harris twins incorporate real life stories of teens changing the world and wisdom that fills each page of the book. It truly inspires readers to get up and do hard things NOW.

"'Do hard things' means fighting for greater levels of excellence because there is always something harder to do," the Harris twins quote from a real life rebelutionary.

"If we're willing to strive for excellence, even in the boring, repetitive tasks and responsibilities that others delegate or neglect, we will reap the powerful benefits that others miss."

I have applied this by rebelling against the low expectations arising in college. The biggest one seeming to be that most college students fall away from their faith. I am choosing to go against the flow and pursuing the relationship with Christ that He desires me to have with Him. I've "no less days to sing His praise" so why stop in college? Every teen NEEDS to read this book.

Dr. Jay Strack says, "You will be the same person 10 years from now except for the books you read." I have seen this true in my life... at the beginning of this summer, I didn't have all of this wisdom I received from all of these different books. My life would've looked totally different now had I not read these books. 

This is my challenge to you: are you reading? 

Years ago I would've answered yes... I was reading Christian fiction and romance novels. But how does that help me change the world? 

Are you reading biographies of Christian men and women? Are you challenging yourself with leadership or career-based books?

Learn from others' lives through reading their life stories. What (or Who) gave them the power to change the world? Soak wisdom up from scholars who base their works of the Word of God, and who challenge you to live every aspect of your life (dating, career, leadership) for the glory of God. 

If you do not have a current reading list, I encourage you to start with one of these. 

Read. Learn. Be changed.