Books I’ve Been Reading…

I love to read, but I struggle with trying new authors. I am nervous that I will start a book, but then not jive with the story line or the author’s style. Then I have to choose whether I finish the story for closure or just not know how the story ends – and that is a hard choice to make. I could struggle through writing I don’t relate to, or leave the ending  out there just hanging and unfinished.

book quote
image from here

So, I went on Pinterest and scrolled through different pins of book recommendations. I wrote down the ones that sounded interesting based on the description and the pinner’s comments about why they liked the book. Maybe if you are like me and struggle with branching out in the book area, this list of books I have read recently will help you try some new authors.

1. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

“Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.” (from the Amazon book description)

What I loved about this books is that it took me to a part of American history that I wasn’t very familiar with and wove a beautiful story in it. It bounces back and forth between the past and the present, but does so with clarity. I devoured this book!

2. Wonder

wonder

“August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Told from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others, these perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.” (from the Amazon book description)

I adored this book. Since it is a children’s book, it was an easy read, but brought me to tears none the less. It is a beautiful story of friendship, looking beyond appearances, and the resilience and strength of children. READ THIS and your kids should read it too! (The movie is coming out soon too!)

3. The Fill-In Boyfriend

the fill-in boyfriend

“When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
The problem is that days after prom, she can’t stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?
Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West’s talent shines in this tale of one girl’s unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.” (from the Amazon book description)

This was a wonderful young adult book. I find that many love stories in the young adult section can be inappropriate in regards to sexual content and language. Kasie West’s writing is clean, which I loved! This would make a good vacation read while lounging on the beach or on the porch in the mountains! I also read her other books By Your Side and The Distance Between Us which were good teen love stories without all the unnecessary stuff as well!

4. Lunch in Paris

lunch in paris

“In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman–and never went home again.
Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavé au poivre, the steak’s pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce? Lunch in Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs–one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Peppered with mouth-watering recipes for summer ratatouille, swordfish tartare and molten chocolate cakes, Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home. In the delicious tradition of memoirs like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, this book is the perfect treat for anyone who has dreamed that lunch in Paris could change their life.” (from the Amazon book description)

This book was a fun look at how cross-cultural love can be an amazing, though challenging adventure. It touches on love, career struggles, and the marvelous thing that is French cuisine. If you have never eaten French food, you certainly will want to find some (or cook some) after reading this book. She also has another book out called Picnic in Provence, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It is on my list though!

5. After the War is Over

after the war is over

“After four years as a military nurse, Charlotte Brown is ready to leave behind the devastation of the Great War. The daughter of a vicar, she has always been determined to dedicate her life to helping others. Moving to busy Liverpool, she throws herself into her work with those most in need, only tearing herself away for the lively dinners she enjoys with the women at her boarding house.
As Britain seethes with unrest and post-war euphoria flattens into bitter disappointment, Charlotte must confront long-held insecurities to find her true voice . . . and the courage to decide if the life she has created is the one she truly wants.” (from the Amazon book description)

Historical fiction is by far one of my favorite genres to read. This book was no exception. It discusses class issues, the devastation of the war, and PTSD. If you like stories set against a historical backdrop, Jennifer Robson’s book is for you. I couldn’t put this one down!

6. Counting by 7s

counting by 7s

“Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.” (from the Amazon book description)

In this beautiful book, whose characters are kids who are amazingly talented and gifted, but struggle to fit in with their peers, you see how one girl who is exceptionally smart deals with grief and finally finds ways to connect with those around her. Once again, this was an easy read since it is a children’s book, but I loved it!

7. Two by Two

two by two

“At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down.” (from the Amazon book description)

Nicolas Sparks never fails to deliver a surprising story with relatable characters and situations. I adored this story about work, relationships, parenthood, and family. If you have never read Spark’s books, give him a try!

8. Talking as Fast as I Can

talking as fast as I can

“In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.” (from the Amazon book description)

I listened to this audio book on my drive to and from family vacation. It was neat to hear Lauren Graham read the book, and it felt like we were chatting over big cups of coffee. This is perfect for a road trip or a long flight. Her wit and delivery are just as evident in this book as they are in Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. By the way, if you haven’t seen these shows, do so now. I’ll wait while you binge watch them. You’ll thank me later.

9. Once and For All

once and for all

“Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.” (from the Amazon book description)

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. I have read every one of her books (except her first two which I didn’t prefer). I have also read most of them many, many times. I love her style and the way her characters struggle with things the rest of us have encountered. This one dealt with school shootings, divorce, and how losing love makes us jaded sometimes. If you have never read Sarah Dessen’s books, you should!

10. When God Doesn’t Fix It

when god doesn't fix it

“Worship leader and recording artist Laura Story’s life took an unexpected turn when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their lives would never be the same. Yes, with God all things are possible. But the devastating news was that no cure existed to restore Martin’s short-term memory, eyesight, and other complications. The fairy-tale life Laura had dreamed of was no longer possible. And yet in struggling with God about how to live with broken dreams, Laura has found joy and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.” (from the Amazon book description)

I just started this one, but the Kindle version is still on sale on Amazon for $1.99, so I wanted to share it with you. I feel that this is one of the hardest parts of the Christian life, enduring struggles and trusting God even when your earthly circumstances don’t change.

I’d love to hear what are you reading! Share in the comments below!
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A Family Shaped By Grace

Have you ever spent a holiday with your family and wondered why it felt like such a chore? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around certain family members because you aren’t sure how they might respond to you? Are there some people in your family that you avoid because being around them is too challenging?

If so, know that there is a better way, and it’s all about grace!

A Family Shaped by Grace is a new book coming out on June 6th that I have had the privilege of reading before it’s release. Gary Morland, the author, had a crumbling family. Finally, he got to the point where he wanted to do something different. His way wasn’t working. He started attending Bible study and met a man named Harold. This man would slowly, patiently love on Gary and teach him a better way to relate to and bless his family. This book is about the things he learned. They have helped him have a family shaped by grace instead of duty, anger, fear, or disappointment.

AFSG

What I love about this book is the practical ways Gary gives you to gently change how you view your family and how you relate to them. If you are at all invested in a family (which is everyone) or working with families in a professional way (teachers, pastors, counselors, social workers, etc.), this book is for you!

P.S.-Right now, the book is 40% off if you pre-order on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! Purchase your copy now if you want to get along with the people in your life who matter most!

Blind Steps of Faith

I struggle with wanting to know the will of God and the purpose driving the storms, struggles, and trials we go through. I have had great teaching regarding these issues, but sometimes my heart still doesn’t get it. The deep desires that reside there don’t understand why they aren’t being met, why they have been ignored, pushed aside. They feel abandoned, left to die a painful death. However, this is not true.

My desires are seen by a loving, faithful, ever-present God and Savior. I never have to fear that my God-given desires (i.e. to be in community with others, to be a mother, to have a happy, healthy marriage) are being ignored or pushed aside. God cares deeply, and I need to allow my heart to rest in that.

Now, this truth doesn’t answer all the questions I have in the middle of a storm. It’s difficult to go through hurt and pain, hurricanes of suffering and seemingly never-ending waits without answers or some small understanding of what is being accomplished. It is natural to look up to heaven and wonder, ask, plead for answers, but we can’t demand them. We were never promised answers. In fact, there are painful experiences and tumultuous storms for which the reasons will never be clear this side of heaven. We act as though we deserve an answer. WE deserve to know what God is up to, why He is putting us through this. But we can’t demand that kind of explanation from such a Huge, Other, Big, Powerful God. However, we are promised presence. And God’s presence always exudes love, grace, and truth.

My pastor at Community Bible Church is incredible. God has truly gifted him with a passion and ability to speak and teach. A month ago, he preached a sermon called ‘Love in the Storm.’ I encourage you to listen to it. It was from Mark 4:35-41.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.(Z) There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”(AA)

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

As I have been listening to this message again today, I ran into a quote that I know I need to keep hearing.

“Look, you got a choice. You’re going to go through the storm. Yes? You’ve got a choice. You can row and fight and bail and scream and yell and holler and accuse, often to no avail. Or you can just say, ‘You know what, this isn’t about the storm, it’s about Jesus.’ It’s about crawling up next to Him and saying, ‘I trust You.’ “

Storms are that simple. They are about you and Jesus. Will we trust Him? Even when it hurts? When it doesn’t make sense? When it is scary?

I want to…so badly. He is trust-worthy!

So as I walk through these months and continue to try to get pregnant, I will trust Jesus. Do I understand? No. But I do trust Him.

 

God didn't bring you...

Hold tight to the truth that God cares deeply about you, even in the midst of a storm!

Love,

Elise

 

Through a Child’s Eyes

On Wednesday, I took on the third word in Philippians 4:8 that Paul encourages us to think about, just.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I decided to think about how all people are created in God’s likeness and how no one I come into contact with on a regular basis is ‘out to get me.’ I struggle with feeling things a bit too much and tend to take statements and complaints personally, so I decided that I would reverse my thinking for a day (to hopefully begin a full reverse to my usual line of thinking).

Today, it is time to mediate on something pure. The first thing I thought about regarding this word was the innocence you see in children. For the most part, the way they view the world is pure, unjaded, and uninfluenced. That’s why they say the craziest things, sometimes embarrass their parents because they blurt out who knows what, and why Jesus encourages us to have a faith like that.

I remember my days as a child playing outside for long hours, imagining hidden worlds and alter egos. I remember the pure joy of riding a bike with no hands, dancing with abandon, and giggling with friends.  As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost a little bit of that, but I don’t want to.

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (Luke 18:15-17)

So, today I will be thinking about the pure joy of baby laughter, little girl twirling, and the excitement of seeing things for the first time.

picture found at sherrisreadingjubilee.blogspot.com

 sherrisreadingjubilee.blogspot.com

Much Love,

Elise

El Roi

My husband is leading me spiritual as I struggle against fear and stress and low self esteem. Last night, he read Philippians 4:8 to me…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

There are seven types of things Paul said TO think about, so Phil asked me to pick a thought that goes with each correct type of thinking. Today’s is TRUE.

When he presented the idea to me last night, something immediately popped in my head.
El Roi. You are a God of seeing. It’s the name Hagar gives God in Genesis 16 after Sarai sends her away.

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

So my TRUE thought for the day is, “I am seen by God, and He knows my hurts, my joys, my desires. He is not far, HE IS NEAR!”

What an amazing truth and what an amazing God!

Much Love,

Elise