20 More Books {Fall of 2019 Edition}

Here are twenty more books marked off that ol' reading challenge. I've now read just over forty books this year. (Here are the first twenty books that I read this year.)

I was hoping to accomplish the Committed level (a total of fifty-two books), but with the number of weeks left in the year (December is just around the corner, yikes!) and the number of books I still have to read (about ten), that leaves me with needing to read roughly two books a week. As much as it originally looked like I was on track to successfully reading fifty-two books this year, I think I'm going to be a few books shy when December 31st comes around. *sigh*

On a brighter note, I've absolutely loved using a reading challenge, for it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and read a whole variety of books!
So here's how I'm rating them:
5+ Stars - Incredibly encouraging & edifying; absolutely loved it! 5 Stars - Fantastic and edifying read! 4 Stars - A great read!  3 Stars - A…

Because I Am Needy

Every afternoon, as I work to get Talitha settled down for a nap, there is inevitably at least one (maybe two or even three) trips to the bathroom because she supposedly "has to go to the bathroom." More often than not, this seems to be an excuse to get out of bed and delay going to sleep rather than an urgent need to answer nature's call...The more of a routine that it becomes, the more wearisome it feels. I often find myself on the verge of frustration. Who would have thought that something as natural as potty-training could produce so many frustrating parenting moments? 
And yet, as we went through the routine yet again today and I could feel the frustration building, I was reminded of the reality that I cannot do this parenting thing by myself; I am needy.  Oh, so needy for His sustaining strength in so many areas of my life. Parenting is merely one area.  
In contrast to my extreme neediness, God is not needy. In fact, He is self-sufficient: not only does all power…

6 Strategies to Help You Get Back Into Reading

Roughly a year ago I decided to start reading again, after having pretty much abandoned all books after college. Getting back into reading has been one of the most encouraging and profitable habits that I've ever cultivated!  

Perhaps you're wondering what happened in my brain for me to, practically overnight, go from reading no books to reading multiple books at the same time. I wrote about that awhile back. 
Perhaps you're wishing you could also get back into reading and actually finishing a book. Over the past year, I've unintentionally discovered some strategies that have been helpful in cultivating a reading habit. Maybe some of these strategies will resonate with you.  
1.  Make it enjoyable By enjoyable, I mean fun and light. In an effort to get back into reading, make those first few books that you read be books that have a story line that you know will be easy to follow and enjoy, right then and there. 
For me, my initial fun and light reading was The Adventure…

The Greater Journey {A Book Review}

The sub-title says it all: The Greater Journey focuses on Americans in Paris from 1830 to 1900 and how Paris influenced them and how they, in turn, left their mark on Paris. McCullough uses a chronological timeline to organize his book, however, he does not give equal weight to all individuals. For example, individuals like Samuel Morse, George Healy, Elihu Washbourne, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens have large sections dedicated to unpacking the time they spent in Paris, as well as their overall character as a person. For others, McCullough gives much less space: some are given a few pages, others only a paragraph or two, and still others are given barely more than a brief mention. Despite the primary focus being on Americans, McCullough skillfully weaves significant events in Parisian history into the story-line: there was the cholera outbreak in the early 1830s, the rise of the Second Republic in 1852 with Napoleon III as Emperor, and then the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-1871.

The Greate…

What is a Healthy Church Member {A Book Review}

What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile is the second book about church membership that I've read recently. The first book is I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer, and I wrote about it here.  

Similar to I am a Church Member, Anyabwile also outlines some specific attitudes and habits a healthy church member should strive to cultivate. Several of these attitudes overlap with and expand on the ones mentioned in I am a Church Member.  
This entire book is solidly Biblical in how it argues from Scripture why church membership is important. After I finished reading it, I couldn't help but feel like I had just had a spiritual battery recharge concerning my understanding of my role within the local church and why I should want to serve and be involved with the other believers who attend the same local church. Combine this book with I am a Church Member and you have two outstanding books on the importance of church membership! 
With that said, here are a couple things I was p…

Because Life is about Serving

In The Hacking of the American Mind, Robert H. Lustig describes Christians believing that "happiness will occur there and later as opposed to here and now. Life is unpleasant, but if you live it as an upstanding Christian, heaven awaits. Pleasure was the devil on earth, and pain in the form of humility and service was the path to a happy afterlife, a gift from God" (page 20, emphasis mine).

This brief (and somewhat misrepresented) description of Christianity reveals several things about the world's perspective of Christianity. First, it reveals just how foolish Christianity looks to the world. Reading this description from an earthly-minded perspective causes one to turn away from it with one simple thought: What fool would choose to believe and live out such utter nonsense?
However, even as warped a warped representation of Christianity, Lustig's description validates what Scripture reveals about the world's understanding of the gospel: Paul tells us that &quo…

On Six Years of Marriage

Six years ago, we stood before our family and friends and pledged our love to each other. We became Mr and Mrs Isaac Stanley and had that first awkward kiss before a watching audience. It has been 2,190 days since I became Mrs Stanley, and I'm still not used to that name.

That sunny June day, almost four years after we first met, we thought we knew each other. But oh, how little we really knew! I mean, I knew he loved to read, but just how much, I really had no clue! We thought we loved each other, but that love had been untested, untried. Sure, we had to work through some things before we were married, but that day when we pledged our love to each other, our love was really only in its infant stages. It was definitely still in the fuzzy-feeling stage. It was still in that stage where our hearts would beat faster at hearing each other's voice on the other end of the phone or while reading a love note that had been sent from afar. It was still the "blushing stage" of…