Sunday, January 3, 2016

Good Reads for a Better New Year

Two things I want to be more intentional about doing consistently in the New Year are reading and writing. So I'm sharing a few reads that have been instrumental in my life and might be encouraging for you in the coming year, too. I'd love to hear your suggestions as well! These are books that are broad in range and could help anyone start a new year (or any season of life) in a positive direction:

1. Jesus Calling: Enjoying peace in His presence by Sarah Young
One of the very best ways to start a New Year is by making a plan to spend time with God in His Word each day. Although I like to dig into in-depth Bible studies, this is my very favorite simple 365-day devotional. I've gone through it more than once, and I love how the author writes as if Jesus were speaking directly to me. She includes Scripture references for each day's devotion as well.  It's available in many formats as a book or a perpetual calendar, and you really can start it anytime and just come back around to the rest of the dates.

2. One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp
I've shared about this book before but can't leave it out of a list like this. It's one of the very most life-changing books I've ever read outside of Bible studies. Ann has a poetic way of writing and bringing out the power of bold thankfulness in the midst of everything from tragedy and challenges to the mundane of everyday life.

3. The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's best version of you by John Ortberg
I'm not really sure how I have gone this long in life without reading anything by John Ortberg until this year. In what has definitely been perfect timing for me personally, I've read three of his books over the past several months and have loved them all. So I'm giving a very honorable mention to Soul Keeping and All the Places to Go, How Will You Know?, but if you only get to read one, I'm suggesting The Me I Want to Be. He shares so much on living by grace in every aspect of life to become more of our true selves that God intends for us to be. Who wouldn't wouldn't want that? It seems especially fitting at the start of a new year as well.

4. Love Does: Discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world by Bob Goff
This book, quite appropriately, was one that surprised me a bit in its content and style in being different from what I expected--in a good way! I can't think about it or tell anyone about it without smiling. The last line on its back cover really sums it up best: "Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob's life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible too."

If you're wanting to add a blog to your inspirational reading list, here are a few of my favorites to follow:

1. Emily P. Freeman's blog | creating space for your soul to breathe
Reading Emily's blog feels like sitting down with a friend who somehow seems to put my feelings into words when I can't quite articulate them. She truly embodies her goal of "creating space for your soul to breathe" and just seems like a breath of fresh air when the world feels like it's spinning too fast. She has started writing her Monday blog posts in the form of a prayer, which has been so touching to me as well. (She also has a new book, Simply Tuesday, which I'm wanting to recommend but haven't actually had the chance to read yet... soon, I hope!!)

2. A Holy Experience blog by Ann Voskamp | because God has burning bushes everywhere
You already know I love Ann's writing. What more can I say? I am continually touched by how her words turn hearts to the holy in the everyday.

3. The Storyline blog by Donald Miller and other authors
This blog has several contributing authors and is more broad in range for general life and wholeness. While that variety makes it harder for me to endorse all of it, so many posts have encouraged me and grown my perspective that I'd recommend it for you to check out as well.

I was going to share a few more books I've already purchased and am planning to read in the coming year, but that list is already getting so long it's hard to narrow down. That said, I'd still love to hear your recommendations for any must-reads. Feel free to leave a comment. And thanks for taking your time to read this!