10 Christian Books That Need to Be On Your Radar

Despite the craziness of this season in my life, I jumped on the opportunity to spend last weekend at the Festival of Faith and Writing. It was my first time gathering with other Christian writers. Never before had I been afforded the chance to gather with believers from all different walks and backgrounds, united in their love of Jesus and writing.  It was invigorating.  I went with every intention of keeping a close watch on my checkbook but at each new publisher’s book and with each new speaker, that grip loosened a little bit more.  Much to my chagrin, I left with significantly few books than I wish I had and significantly more than my husband wishes I had. (This is a balance we are always trying to strike in our marriage; my husband says there is not enough space on the bookshelves and I remind him that we can easily build a small library in the backyard if needed.) My biggest takeaway was not the stack of books I came home with (although that is a measure indeed) but the stack of books that are now on my list and the oodles of writers I’m now following on Twitter.  Instead of hoarding these Christian book discoveries for myself, I wanted to share with you the 5 books I came home with, 5 books I want to add to my shelf, and 5 Christian writers you need to be following on Twitter. (Note: This post does contain affiliate links.) 5 Books I Came Home With 1. The Year of Small Things  This book was on my list almost as soon as I walked into the exhibit hall so I was especially excited to see that a limited number of copies was being given away at the authors’ panel discussion. When I realized that both of the author’s also live in my neck of the woods, I was delighted.  The Year of Small Things covers two family’s commitment to living radically in line with their faith. This examines what it looks like to live intentionally caring for their family, the community around them, and Creation with the love and strength that the Holy Spirit equips us with. Specifically, I am intrigued by their commitment to opening their home to those in need.  2. Moments & Days This book combines two of my favorite things, the Holy Feasts and Festivals ordained by God…

Read More

How is Jesus Inviting You to be Hospitable?

Cara’s journey is a beautiful example of how God redeems even our darkest times. After battling illness, Cara took what she learned about how food played a key role in her health and turned it into an opportunity to share with others. Cara writes at The Nourished Body and Soul about paleo cooking, her faith, and hospitality. I’m so excited to share with you today Cara’s words on hositality in unexpected places. As a military wife, her story touches a special place in my heart and reminds me to keep my eyes wide open to what God has for me.  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:9-10 My heart hurt for her when she told me what she was going through.  My daughter and I had been given the gift of a day at the spa and as we sat in the common area waiting for our treatment, I started talking with a beautiful, older woman. The sun that floated in through the large window in the lounge room seemed to glisten off the soft gray highlights of her hair.  When she opened her mouth, I was immediately drawn in by her rich South African accent and I was overwhelmed with sympathy for her as her blue eyes began to glisten as the tears welled up.   She told me that her sister had sent her to the spa to give her a day off from taking care of her husband who was very sick with cancer. My heart definitely felt for her and I said some nice things to encourage her, but I knew the Spirit was urging me to pray for her. For some reason, I kept putting it off and then someone came into the room and called my name. I hoped I would see her later in the day, but I never did. It was too late; I had waited so long into our conversation that I missed my opportunity to do what I knew the Father wanted me to do. I prayed for her all day long, but I missed the chance to pray with her. I went to bed that night with more of a heartache than I’d had all day long because I realized I missed the chance my Father had given me to be hospitable.  …

Read More

How to be Clothed in Salvation: A Reflection on How God Sees Our Messes

Katie’s words over at Oh Lord Help Us have inspired me for months now and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share her work with you here. She is a gem and such a fount of wisdom and passion for the Lord. As we continue to celebrate the Easter season, she shares a much-needed reminder for us all.  The Easter season seems to be over. Except, it is not over. This year, I am left wondering why it is that Easter is usually only celebrated for a maximum of 3 days. Churches are filled to the brim. Social platforms are flooded with beautiful graphics of “He is risen!” Many of us are heavily reflecting on the gift of salvation. Why can’t this be every day? My observations leave me feeling a bit of shame. This is more of a conviction within my own self, than any type of knock against my fellow Christians. I am recalling back to the words of a post I wrote not too long ago… We all have “items” we put on day in and day out. For me, I’m constantly trying to change out of perfectionism, negativity, and insecurity. The list goes on but these are my comfortable clothes. These are the 8 year old yoga pants I do chores in because they have bleach stains all over. They fit perfectly, and I NEED something to clean in, right?! Because I’m a mere mortal, it is not in my nature to habitually clothe myself with supernatural adornments. It does feel good to put on freshly laundered clothes. But, why is this such a difficult process in our own spirits? When sin creeps in and goes unaddressed, we become more and more comfortable wearing it. The elastic starts breaking in, so to speak (I think I’ve pushed this analogy as far as I should). Sneaky sin is not what our Heavenly Father wishes for us. He has created the most beautiful spiritual ornaments. However, spiritual clothes are more difficult for us “put on”. In the midst of anger, how easy is it to be compassionate? When depression overwhelms, it’s difficult to be joyful. Anxiety makes us feel a need to act quickly, instead of being patient and trusting in the Lord. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12, NIV It takes daily…

Read More

How Do You Measure Time? An Examination of Christian Calendar

We all measure our days, our lives by time. Minutes turn into hours. Hours into days. Days into weeks. Weeks into months.  Months into years. But when we are looking at time, we measure it by important events and seasons. When my husband returned from one of his deployments, we took advantage of some of the re-integration counseling that the base offered. One of the first things the counselor had us do was work together to create a timeline of our relationship. It wasn’t divided up by months, we didn’t note the second week of June 2016, it was collections of days, conversations, and seasons that made up who we were as a couple.  We highlighted our first date, the first time we discussed getting married, and that stressful period when he was in boot camp and we couldn’t communicate. Because those were the times that had shaped and molded us into who we were.  As believers, we are also in a grand story of God’s faithfulness to His people.  We were lost in our sin, separated from God, awaiting a Savior. He was born in a lowly place and served those around Him, setting an example for how we should live. Ultimately, He was welcomed as the Messiah into Jerusalem only to be betrayed, tortured, and killed later that week. Then, He arose, conquering Death and ascended into Heaven 40 days later. But we were not left alone, He sent His Holy Spirit at Pentecost to live among us.  This is our story. And the Church Calendar invites us to relive it all each and every year.  We measure time by meaningful events and often, we measure years by the commemoration of holidays. The old norm of avoiding white after Labor Day until Memorial Day is possible because that’s how we all think of our year, as measured by celebrations and commemorations. We feel patriotic around the 4th of July remembering those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy. At Thanksgiving, we remember to stop and give thanks for the blessings in our lives and spend the month gearing up to do so.  As followers of Christ, we need to reclaim our narrative. We need to re-story our lives as part of restoring our soul. Instead of living in a calendar that is focused on the actions men, let us orient our time around the story of the God…

Read More

Spiritual Warfare: Are You Prepared for Battle?

We are at war. Our Easter celebrations should only remind us of this truth. The victory we have in Christ is sure, the promise is sealed in our hearts with the Holy Spirit.  But yet, there are still battles to be fought. Battles that require our active participation. We are called to arm ourselves with the Armor of God to defend ourselves against the schemes of the Devil.  The war we are fighting, it isn’t a physical battle, but one fought on the spiritual plane. We fight against the cosmos powers of darkness. We fight against the spiritual forces of evil. And we must take these battles seriously.  There is a tendency in academic circles and denominations to regulate spiritual warfare as a battle for the mind. The mind is important. We need to take captive our thoughts and submit them all to the Lord. Good theology is important and we should know the doctrines of our faith.  It is foolish though to relegate the spiritual battles happening around us to simply battles of the mind. They are battles for our hearts and our very souls.  When I think too much about the war that is going on around me, I am tempted to despair.  I see every day the scars of this war on the souls around me. There is pain on the faces of those who have been betrayed by loved ones who vowed to care for them. The ramifications of sin touch every relationship we have, distorting our views of one another. Addictions, mental illness, compulsions towards evil, they plague each day of our existence.  We are weary and worn down from the crushing ache of the sin around us.  “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57, ESV Our victory is assured in Christ. But that doesn’t mean that our battles are over. It does, however, mean that as I walk through my life, I can do so with the confidence of what God will do for me.  “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for…

Read More