What I’ve Been Reading Lately Part 1

I’m finally back with another blog post! Happy Super Bowl Sunday! For today’s post, I thought I would share what I’ve been reading lately. Usually I do a post about what I’ve been reading every month, but I’ve definitely been slacking on that in the past couple of months. I promise that I will get back onto a schedule eventually!

I thought I would break it up into two parts, one for this week and one for next week, that way the post won’t get too long. These are books that I’ve been reading from December until now, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

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While I’ve always considered myself to be religious and believed in God for as long as I can remember, I’ve never been one to get really into studying the Bible or anything. Lately that’s been changing, and a couple of months ago I even bought myself a new study Bible. I’ve found myself wanting to get closer to God, and that focus has definitely been reflected in what I’ve been reading lately.

That’s another reason why I wanted to split this post up into two parts. I thought I would share some of the books I’ve been reading that are God-focused all in one post, that way you can just skip over it if you’re not interested in learning more about the religious books. Not everyone is interested in having religion shoved in their faces, which I totally understand. If you are interested though, definitely keep reading, because I’ve found some good ones!

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First up is Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly. I’m not going to lie, the pretty pink cover is definitely what drew me to this book at first. It also just seemed like a really inspiring book to read, so I ultimately decided to pick it up and see what it was all about.

Here’s the summary: “Grace is always good news. But have we forgotten about holiness? Beloved writer, speaker, and bestselling coauthor of Wild and Free Jess Connolly will be the first to admit that’s exactly what she had done. So she set out to rediscover what holiness is, what it isn’t, and how holy women can change the world rather than be changed by it.

Dance, Stand, Run is an invitation to step into the movements of abundant life: dancing in grace, standing firm in holiness, and running on mission. Through story and study, Jess casts a fresh vision for how to break free of cheap grace and empty rule-keeping, and finally, how to live out your holy influence with confidence before a watching world. Spoiler alert: it’s a beautiful thing.

For anyone longing to take their place in what God is doing in the world, Dance, Stand, Run will rally your strength, refresh your purpose, and energize your faith in a God who calls us to be like Him.”

What I loved so much about this book is that Jess gives great advice while also staying relatable. For a long time, I feel like I didn’t really want to identify with Christians because I felt like a lot of them were too preachy and came off as being better than everyone else. I totally hated that, and that’s a big reason why I wasn’t really interested in reading the Bible or getting too caught up with God.

The author of this book tells honest stories, and doesn’t come off as being stuck up at all. I felt like I really needed that as I’ve been exploring my new-found interest in God again. Instead of feeling like a complete failure and feeling like I could never live up to all of these expectations set before me, I came away from this book feeling inspired, and I think that anyone who reads it will feel that way too.

If you have an interest in Christianity or are like me and just starting to re-find your faith again, I would definitely recommend giving this book a read.

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Next up is Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. Now judging by the title, you’d think that it’s going to be a real downer, but it turned out not to be like that at all. I think that all of us at some point have felt uninvited, and I really related to a lot of the stories brought up in this one.

Here’s the summary: “In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences of rejection– from the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over to the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father. She leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection’s ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa will help you: Stop feeling left out by believing that even when you are overlooked by others you are handpicked by God, change your tendency to either fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process your hurt, know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady your soul and restore your confidence in the midst of rejection, and overcome the two core fears that feed your insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.

Uninvited reminds us we are destined for a love that can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken– a love that does not reject or uninvite.”

Because I, like many, have felt rejected at times, whether that’s because of other people or because of my own self-deprecating thoughts, I felt drawn to read this book, and it didn’t disappoint. Like the first book I mentioned in this post, Lysa is incredibly honest in her writing, and I liked that about it. It didn’t come off as preachy. Instead, it felt like a friend or a sister was giving you advice.

Another reason I really enjoyed this book was because I found Lysa to be very relatable. There’s one part in the book when she’s convinced that this athletic girl at the gym hates her and thinks she’s inadequate just because she’s not as fit as her. It sounds crazy, but how many of us have thought that way when we don’t feel confident?

During a lot of chapters in this book, I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with every word. I think it’s so important to find books that do that for you. There are so many times when we feel alone with our thoughts or feelings, and it’s so nice to be able to find someone who has had the same experience that you’ve had. I know this book is called Uninvited, but I definitely felt more accepted after reading it.

If any of you have ever struggled with low self-esteem and self-confidence (honestly who hasn’t?), then I would highly recommend this book. Again, with this book I came away from it feeling inspired and less alone, which was awesome.

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And finally, the last one for this post is The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I’m guessing that everyone is familiar with Fixer Upper, but if you aren’t, it’s a show on HGTV about a couple who own a remodeling and design business in Waco, Texas. The show shows the process of turning fixer uppers into beautiful homes.

I love this show, and I think that Chip and Joanna are so inspiring and fun. I’m not going to lie, I mostly wanted to read this book because of the show, but I also really enjoyed getting to learn the backstory behind Magnolia Homes, and how Chip and Joanna got started.

Here’s the summary: “Sometimes the messiest stuff and the biggest mistakes can take you someplace wonderful. With the help of their hit TV show, Fixer Upper, the husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines have transformed the seemingly everyday work of renovating homes and flipping houses in Waco, Texas into something much more. With their fun personalities, good humor, strong love of family, and unique design style, they’ve managed to capture the hearts of Americans from all walks of life. It all happened so quickly, their ever-multiplying fan base has been left to wonder: Who are these people? Where did they come from? What’s the secret to their success? And should I pack up and move to Waco, too?

From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together to the project that nearly cost them everything, The Magnolia Story offers a peek behind the curtain of who Chip and Joanna are today. This first book also includes stories and photos from the childhood memories that shaped them and the twists and turns that led them to the life they currently share: on the farm with their four kids and countless farm animals, and in their ever-expanding roles as entrepreneurs, designers, and good neighbors.

It also answers (in hilarious detail) the one lingering question that fans of the show always ask: Is Chip really that funny? ‘Oh yeah,’ says Joanna. ‘He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.'”

Whenever you see successful people, it’s so easy to think that they’ve had that success forever. But that’s not always the case, and it wasn’t in the story of Chip and Joanna Gaines. They really had to work hard and make sacrifices in order to become what they are today. It was so interesting to read about how they started and how they were able to become so successful.

I loved the fact that Joanna thought she was going to go into broadcast journalism until she met Chip. She is such a talented person, and it’s amazing to think that she kind of fell into the design world without much experience beforehand. I think that’s so inspiring.

If you love Fixer Upper like I do, I’m sure that you would love this book, but even if you don’t, I think this was an interesting story to read.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been reading lately! I can’t wait to share the other books that I’ve been reading in my next post. Do you have any books that you’ve been loving lately? I would love to hear about them, I’m always looking for more recommendations!

Love,

Sara

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