Chronicling 40: The Bookshelf

eau de parfum

One thing about being sick is that you have plenty of time in bed to read.  Which allowed me to catch up on the pile that has been building.  If you are a voracious reader like me, you know the perils of the “too read pile”.  Too many books, too little time.  In full disclosure, these books were sent to me for the purpose of reading and reviewing, and while I received the books gratis this did not affect my opinions or review.



Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer

This is a short, but poignant read… which is right up my alley.  I’ve read some articles by Rainer on this topic before, so I knew what I was walking into with this book.  The first chapter title says it all “Are We as Welcoming as We Think We Are?”   It is really easy to lose sight of the visitor in a church where everyone knows how things are done, what certain terms mean, and who everyone is.

If we want to be a welcoming church, we can’t just consider the people who walk in our doors already.  Yes we want to make sure they continue to feel welcome in their church home, but we must not forget about our guests.  The person who is trying to navigate around our campus, or the non-believer who is hearing the Gospel for the first time.  Rainer does a great job of pointing out that friendly and welcoming are not the same thing, and also a matter of perception.  A long term member is going to see things very differently than the person viewing the church from fresh eyes.

Walking us through various points to consider… from signage to website information… Rainer helps us to shift ourselves into the mind of those we are trying to reach, and ends the book with a chapter of practical application.  I would recommend this book to church leaders, ministry leaders, organization leaders, as well as church plants.




The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

So let me tell you a little bit about my book keeping habits.  I am VERY gentle with my books.  I don’t break spines, or fold over covers.  I am don’t dog ear corners, nor shove them carelessly in bags.  I will only write in a book if it is an AMAZING book.  Knowing this about me, the wear on the cover of this book should tell you immediately how I feel about this book.

This book took me a bit to get through.  It was tough.  I had to look some things square in the face.  Lies I have believed about myself, moments where I wondered if what I was doing was of any value or worth, confusion about God’s calling on my life, etc.  This book landed in my lap during a season of exhaustion where I wondered if I had any fight left in me.  Why?  Because my ministry work isn’t easy, isn’t always valued or appreciated, and there are times I have felt taken for granted.  This book was like a hot cup of coffee on a day when I was dragging.  I needed to read these words, they restored energy, and pointed me back to what was important.

It matters not what anyone things of me or my gifting.  What matters is that I am a daughter of the King, who has been gifted a calling, and I trust in His provision and guidance as I walk obediently in it.  It led to a sit down with my husband, a phone call that started a ministry partnership, and the Lord removed my doubt and grounded me in His promises.

I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female… leader or member.




Courageous Women of the Bible by Latan Roland Murphy

This was a great book for follow The Dream of You with because it took real women from the Scriptures to inspire courage and purpose.  We see the parallels between the women of Biblical times and today.  Murphy illustrates how courage advances us into opportunities that God has appointed for us.  What I also really loved about this was how she helps us find our courage by identifying the source of it… which is obedience and trust/faith in God who is ordering our steps.

We learn from these women, how their past foraged the courage that led to their futures.  Which serves as a prompting to our hearts that indeed our story is not over, and there is a good work being done in us.  Helping us to rely on the power of God over the difficulty of our circumstances.  The final chapter of the book includes journal prompts to help explore these stories deeper and apply them to our lives.

I would recommend this book for personal growth and self discovery, for your Women’s Ministry, Bible Studies, or as a gift to any woman in your life.




The Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard

I was actually really excited to get this book and really disappointed by it.  However, this could be a case of it being a matter of preference.  The lessons that Prichard wants to teach through this book were woven into a fictional story format.  As I began reading, I found that to be a turn off.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading fiction.  I just don’t like my fiction mixed in with self improvement books.  It was really hard for me to enjoy the book, and honestly I found myself skipping forward to get to the big points.

I agree with every point Prichard makes in this book about the mistakes that we make and how they impact our success.  My problem was that none of his lessons were anything new or earth shattering, everything was something I had heard before.  I pretty much drew the conclusion that this was a book that gathered well known points and packaged them in a new way.  In that case, the style may actually appeal to a different kind of reader… the ones who don’t enjoy self improvement books.  Maybe Prichard was gearing for a particular audience, a new audience… and I’m just not that person.

Overall, I just can’t recommend this book.  I don’t think it is offering anything you couldn’t glean from an afternoon googling terms like “how to be a successful” or “mistakes to avoid for success”.


Working Through Chapter 4, Enjoy.


This past week was work. I had some things on my “to-do” list to accomplish, appointments to squeeze in before the holiday, and of course we actually celebrated the holiday with our family down south. Then, and I’m not entirely sure how this happened, I was wrangled into doing some Black Friday shopping. This is a first in my lifetime. Saturday was a blur, and here we sit… Sunday.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always enjoy work. My Pastor’s wife once called me “high capacity” because I am a person who can get stuff done, done well, and done quickly. But… that doesn’t always mean I want to do things I think in part it was how we were raised, you just do what has to be done. No sense whining, just get it over with.

When I graduated high school, I got a job as a cashier with an office supply chain as a cashier. Within just a short number of years I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager. This was unheard of for that company, and I was the youngest manager in the history of the company. Due to my high capacity? Probably. But to be honest, it probably had to do more with boredom.

I was bored as a cashier so I did everything I could to get bumped up to another position. I was the first to volunteer for cross training in other departments, it was nice to get called back to another area of the store. It would break up the monotony of my day. As a manager, each day brought new challenges and tasks. Even the mundane wasn’t as mundane being broken up by the randomness of each days obstacles.

When my husband and I had our first child, and we determined I would not return to my job… that was a shift. A huge shift for me. I missed my purpose and the identity I had created in my job. Almost immediately I looked for something to do that would provide that same self value.

I struggled seeing value in what I was doing at home. Emotionally, I knew it was right. I couldn’t bear to work the hours my job required of me and be away from my baby. Yet, sitting at home for hours on end when the baby would sleep doing housework… I didn’t get it. It was boring. It was the same thing every day. The mundane wasn’t being broken up by challenges to overcome and strategies to develop.

It is still something I struggle with, and I’ve been parenting for nearly 18 years. What it has always comes down to, for me, is having to remind myself of two points.

1. It’s a season.
2. God has a reason.

Eventually, these children are going to grow up and move out of this house. We had our children so young, that there is still a lifetime ahead of me. For whatever reason, this is the season the Lord called me to. He didn’t give me a heart to return to work full time and any attempts I have made to bring “work” back into my life… he always seems to thwart. I didn’t get it at first, but as my eldest navigates her senior year… I notice I say no a lot more often. Spending time together a family has become far more important, and I realize that all of these years with her have had more value than I could have ever imagined.

Chapter 4 of Trillia Newbell ‘s book Enjoy is centered around work and how we can find joy in what we do each day. Whether you are a parent, working at home, or out in the workforce. She recognizes the beauty of a God who worked for six days before He rested, doing good work. Pointing out that the call to work really hasn’t changed but instead sin corrupted our attitude toward our work. And, Trillia helps us to explore how we can find joy and delight in even the most mundane work, by shifting our perspective on work.

Lord, help us to see the beauty in this gift to toil for you!

The Unexpected of Chapter 3 (Enjoy)

Well, well… Chapter 3… Trillia Newbell tackles what can be a tough and awkward topic.

Chapter 3 is all about intimacy in our marriages, and if you are a fan of Authentic Intimacy … chapter 3 is a worthy read (Hannah Nitz ). Lord knows I have a heart for that ministry, because of my own failures. I am a tough cookie to crack, with some baggage.

(Also, single ladies… there are some pages in there for you too!)

What I didn’t expect were some of the nuggets from Chapter 3 that made me think of other areas and relationships. Yes, sexual intimacy is a marital… but intimacy is not exclusive to our marriages. We have other people in our lives that intimacy is a good thing (best friends), is a place of safety (parents), and our relationship with God is very personal and should be rooted in complete intimacy (we can hide nothing from Him).

So, a big thing that struck me from the chapter was when Trillia explained that bitterness in it’s simplest form is unforgiveness. Just a bit ago, I was a guest contributor for Virtuous Bella talking about wounds that are bound up so tight they begin to fester. So, perhaps that is why this caught my attention.

I started reflecting on my notes from the chapter, on the evidences of bitterness. I began to think of conflicts I have been involved in. I’ve thought about how people have responded to me, and even how I responded to others.

I think we’ve all been guilty of bitterness now and again. However, some of us have allowed the wounds of past hurts to created roots of bitterness that have grown deep. Too deep. Where these bitter roots of past relationships have begun to strangle out the healthy relationships that fall in their pathway. Skewing how we perceive people coming into our lives, always as a threat or at least someone to be suspicious of.

When our perspective is skewed, we see a threat that doesn’t exist. We take things personally, that were never meant to hurt us. We are so bent on self preservation that we become incapable of seeing those who God has brought into our lives to try cut back those roots. Instead we just let them grow deeper and continue to stretch further.

Let me share with you a great thing about the book, Enjoy, that I think is such a blessing. At the end of each chapter, Trillia challenges us with: The Enjoy Project. It is a list of tasks/suggestions that are based on the chapters theme, ideas to help us enjoy our lives and relationships more.

These project ideas are great ways to cut back those roots of bitterness.

Trillia Newbell’s book ENJOY!


I really love this book.  This is going to be different from my normal blog posts on book reviews (which I did receive an advance readers copy of this book to read for the purpose of reviewing).  It will be different because I really, truly, want to explore this book as I find the content pretty important.

First, because it’s a book that reminds us that we have permission to enjoy the life the Lord has given us. There is freedom in salvation, and that freedom includes enjoyment. Have you ever considered the number of times in the Bible the word “rejoice” is used? Second, because it challenges us to make better choices about how we are going to respond to our lives. I’ve had twinges of conviction, as well as inspiration on how to live each day to His fullest for me (which is far greater than anything I could come up with on my own).

Today, I want to focus on the first chapter, which focuses greatly on contentment. Trillia puts it very succinctly that discontentment will impede joy, reminding us of Philippians 4:11 “for I have learned to be content in whatever situation”.

Yesterday… I was having a moment. I wasn’t very content with something and how it shaping out. It was affecting my mood (aka my attitude) and I had to make a choice. Was I going to give into this discontentment or instead would I rejoice. Could I be content with how things unfolded? I realized I could, and made an active choice to change my attitude. That doesn’t mean throughout the day thoughts didn’t creep in. I had to make the active choice… REPEATEDLY… to be content and move on.

In the book Enjoy, Trillia shares that contentment results in peace. As long as I allowed my thoughts and attitudes to remain in discontent, I was not finding peace. And my responses to everything else were skewed. Once I made the choice to be content, I could take those thoughts captive. I decided to do something I enjoy (painting) and I found peace. The more peaceful I felt, the more enjoyable it was to be around me. It was better for everyone.

Trillia Newbell
It’s a pre-order giveaway! To celebrate the upcoming release of Enjoy by @TrilliaNewbell, she’s written a devotional to help you enjoy this Advent season.

A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit – STUDY

Just last week I posted about the book 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, today I want to talk about the Study Workbook that goes with it.

Some of us can pick up book like 5 Habits, read it, and glean everything possible from it.  Others of us, need to dig a bit deeper.  We need to flesh out the ideas and concepts on paper.  We need to work through it, taking our time to digest the content and determine how to best use it to affect our lives.  And, there are occasions where we need to even hear the words coming from the author, peppered in with their personal accounts and feelings to make it more real.

If you click on the books above, you’ll be taken to the page that lists not only the book for sale, but the black Study Workbook and even downloadable video links for individuals and groups.

The Pro’s of “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study workbook:

  • The study is 6 weeks long, which makes this a perfect length for a summer study.  It can be a lot harder to gather your small group during the summer vacation months, and I generally find a 6 week study is the perfect solution.
  • The structure of the study is easy to follow along with, if you choose to facilitate the study for a group of friends (or if you decided to tackle this one solo).
  • The study workbook can be used independently of the original book, and videos!

The Con’s of “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study workbook:

  • Even though the study is a 6 week session, there is daily homework.  I’ve often found this tends to be the area that hangs up women the most, in a small group setting.  This is particularly difficult for moms with young children or working women.

SOLUTION:  Take your time working through it, don’t rush to be done in six weeks.

  • There are some areas of the book that provide ample writing space, but others I fine to be lacking.

SOLUTION:  Consider a small notebook, or use the larger post it notes for added space.

Other than that, it is very solid study that explores the book of Ruth and what we can learn from her on how to be a woman who doesn’t quit.   The study walks us through scripture, explores our own past habits, and then encourages us to build new ones.