My 2019 Bucket List

My 2019 Bucket List

Every year, I create a RAD52in52 bucket list full of fun things I want to challenge myself to accomplish in the year ahead. They range from simple to silly to serious, and the list helps keep me motivated throughout the year!

My 2018 RAD52in52 Bucket List

My 2018 RAD52in52 Bucket List

Every year, I make a list of 52 things I want to do that year (because 52 weeks in the year, although they aren't weekly items!) and it's become one of my favorite ongoing challenges.

RAD52in52 for 2016

RAD52in52 for 2016

Here are my 52 bucket list goals for 2016!

What I Read in October

October, you're just a wonderful month. I love your weather and your changing colors and your general sense of coziness. I don't love your famous holiday, but that's a story for another time. I read 5 books during your days this year, and they were some pretty different ones than what I read normally. Thanks for mixing things up!

Here's what I read this October:

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. // "A wave of intense happiness washed over me, and I told myself to carry this moment as a talisman of a time in my life when I was both truly content and lucky enough to realize it."

This book isn't my normal kind of read, but after seeing it recommended by friends like Bailey, I decided to give it a go. I surprisingly enjoyed this lighthearted, easy read. I especially liked all the London/England references and reminiscing on my own summer spent living there, so that made it even more fun. This definitely isn't a profoundly amazing piece of literature, but it would make for a great Saturday read by a fire or curled up on a cozy couch or on a plane while traveling. If you see it at your library, grab it and enjoy (but probably don't spend money on it because it isn't one you'll re-read)!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. // "Bring forth what is within you, then, whether it succeeds or fails. Do it whether the final product (your souvenir) is crap or gold. Do it whether the critics love you or hate you-- or whether the critics have never heard of you and perhaps will never hear of you. Do it whether people get it or don't get it. It doesn't have to be perfect and you don't have to be Plato. It's all just an instinct and an experiment and a mystery, so begin. Begin anywhere. Preferably right now. And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work."

This book IS PURE GOLD. Let me shout that from the rooftops and get your attention so you'll buy it IMMEDIATELY. It is so good. Her podcast is equally amazing. I shared so many more of my gushing thoughts about this book HERE.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. // "Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it."

I read this one for October's #COLLABOREADS -- check out my full review here!

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. // "If the gospel isn't good news for everybody, then it isn't good news for anybody."

Okay. So Rob Bell. He's a controversial guy in the Christian world. I know that. I've heard the arguments from both sides (he's gone off the deep end / he's actually right on and everyone's just afraid of him, etc). I've never given him a chance, so I decided it was about time I did. The verdict? I'm not a fan. I liked parts of this book, I'll admit. Some of it was refreshingly real. Most of it was a little wacky to me, and there were some parts that actually made me angry because I disagreed with them so strongly. All in all? I won't read more from him, I feel like I have a clearer picture of who he is and what he stands for, and it just isn't my style or my same belief system. I do strongly believe in reading things you don't agree with though, so I'm glad I put myself up to this challenge. 

When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd. // "Waiting is both passive and passionate. It's a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision."

Kidd is the one who wrote bestsellers like The Secret Life of Bees, but this book is something totally different from her. It's deeply personal, journeying through a phase in her life characterized by much waiting and change and evolving and growth. I read this one slowly, picking it up periodically and always finding that what I read resonated with me in that moment. This book is probably more geared toward middle-aged or older women (as that was Kidd's age when writing through it) but I found it to be just as relevant to my life as a younger twenty-something still. The metaphor of a cocoon repeats throughout the book and there are many other images and parallels she describes that have still stuck with me in poignant ways. This one is a really good one if you feel like you're in any in-between, waiting season at all. 

What are you reading lately?! 

What I Read in September

September, you were full of mostly good reads (with one exception) and I'm so glad for that! There's something about the first fall days that just makes me want to curl up with books but also be outside with all the cool breezes and falling leaves. I love this season and I already know it's going to be such a sweet one. Enjoy my little reviews of what I read in September!


For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. // "Folks who thrive in God's grace give grace easily, but the self-critical person becomes others-critical."

So, I've never read anything from Hatmaker before. I've seen some of her posts on FB (they're very popular) and usually I don't like them...but I kept seeing people post about this book and how much they loved it. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot. Overall, it was okay. I liked bits and pieces, and got a few good nuggets out of it...but I just don't love her writing style. The humor and snark is okay in some places, but it usually just annoys me. Since it's more of a collection of essays than anything else, there wasn't a whole lot to really keep me super engaged or interested, but it was a quick read, a light read, and good for a Saturday in a coffeeshop, so I can't really complain. Girl's got a massive following, so other people must just love her style a whole lot!


Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. // "I hope you aren’t holding an ice cream cone against your chest, ’cause your heart just warmed—and your ice cream just melted."

Okay, confession time. I could NOT finish this book. I gave it a shot, I really did. I got to page 172, but I just couldn't do it. I don't know if it's that I'm used to Aziz being pure humor, and this was a weird mix of stats and facts and research with humor thrown in, or what, but I just didn't like it. I thought the topic would interest me since obviously I live in today's world and am single so the way the dating world works these days affects me...but I didn't find the research or his findings to be that interesting. Oh well. Aziz, try again with the whole book writing thing and I'll give you another shot, but maybe stick to being funny since it's what you're really good at.


Rising Strong by Brene Brown. // "Rumbling with our story and owning our truth in order to write a new, more courageous ending transforms who we are and how we engage with the world."

I'm basically the biggest fan of Brene Brown that there is. (Probably not true at all because everyone I know who has read her loves her...but anyway.) I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, and it did not disappoint. After reading Daring Greatly, I loved how this book took her thoughts to a deeper and richer place and added more richness and research to the conversations around shame and vulnerability and courage and owning our stories. The cover says "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up." We all fall and we all we fail and really, we just all need to read this book and rise stronger together. I can't recommend it enough. I would buy it for everyone and their dogs if I could.


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. // "When someone takes away your pens you realize quite how important education is."

I read this book for #COLLABOREADS, so check out my full review on that post!

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. // "The sunset you see is always better than the one you don’t. More stars are always better than less."

This was a library find, and it was featured on a table and I liked the cover, so I grabbed it. This book was TOTALLY unexpected and I LOVED it. About 50 or so pages in, I was getting ready to give up, because it was a slow start and it hadn't hooked me. I'm so glad I kept going though. There is a major reveal that was a total plot game-changer and was nothing like I've ever read before. Read this if you want to know more -- it might spoil it a bit though! This book was surprising, intriguing, a bit haunting, eye-opening, nuanced, heart-breaking, and well-written. It brought to light a subject matter I had never considered before (animals used in science/research, etc), and in a way that made it shockingly real. It confirmed all of my vegan stances and really reminded me to check EVERYTHING to make sure nothing is tested on animals at all. Highly recommend this one if you want a different type of fiction read, but be warned that it might forever alter your worldview and it also might make you cry.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. // "First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered."

THIS BOOK. Couldn't put it down. It was sort of post-apocalyptic, but then not, so riveting, so fascinating, so well-written...I loved this one. The library did me so well this month! Imagining a world like this, when twenty-first century civilization like we know it comes to a total end, was so intriguing to me. This book wasn't depressing like The Road or similar end of the world books are, but instead made me really grateful for the life and world we have, and also really struck by the human experience and what we all would do if everything changed. Grab this one! Do it. It's so good.

Any must-reads you recommend?!

Fear // A Speak Up Vlog

Hello, October! I love your weather but I'm not a huge fan of your spooky holiday. I do love your pumpkin stuff (but not those lattes, because they're not vegan) but I don't love your focus on evil, creepy, terrifying things. So, with all that in mind, it's appropriate that Amber and Annie chose few for this month's Speak Up link up!

Here are my (shorter than usual!) thoughts on FEAR and how I'm learning to choose to have faith when things are scary.

What do you think of when you consider what fear is and what fear isn't?

BLOG-TEMBER: A Farewell Coffee Date

Today's prompt (the last one!): A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you'd like a prompt: how did the Blog-tember Challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?

My dear friend Amber does these coffee date blog posts, and every single time, they are wonderful. Now this prompt is a farewell coffee date, and I get to share my own take on it. I'm modeling mine like hers, because every time she does it, I swoon. Amber spills pure gold from her fingertips, if you didn't know that already.

If we were on a coffee date, I would probably still be cracking myself up. I posted an Instagram for #nationalcoffeeday (even though every day is basically coffee day in my book) and it was a photo from a while back, with my Bible and journal on the table too. After I posted it, I realized my Bible was open to Hebrews. HEBREWS. Like He-brews. I HAVE NOT STOPPED LAUGHING ABOUT IT. I'm a huge fan of puns and the total coincidence of this one just has me dying still!

If we were on a coffee date, I would apologize for being half-hearted in this Blog-Tember Challenge. I should have learned from The 100 Day Project that yes, it's hard to show up consistently, but yes, it's worth it...but I fell short. I saw the posts flood my feeds and I wished I was joining in with them, but time and life got away from me and now September is over. Friends that followed along with my posts when they happened, thank you! Friends that I met through this challenge, I'm so glad we connected! Bailey, thank you for pouring your heart out over this past month and being such a gracious, welcoming host.

If we were on a coffee date, I would hope it's at one of my favorite coffeeshops in my beloved River City. I made it one of my goals this year to try 10 new Richmond coffeeshops. I've visited 9 and there are a handful more still on my list. They're quaint, they're cozy, they're quirky, they're full of character, and there's a new one popping up all the time. I love this city and I would want to show it to you one coffee stop at a time.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you what you've read and loved lately. I'm a bookworm, it's no secret, and I always want to hear recommendations. Some of you shared yours this month when you linked up with Bailey, and I added a bunch of them to my to-read list, but there's always room for me. Leave your current book crushes in the comments!

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you I'm still learning about waiting. I wrote about it and I'm reading about it and I'm still in the thick of it. What have you learned about waiting in your life? I would ask. What has reassured you and kept you hopeful?

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that lists are everything. To-do lists, bullet journal lists, pro/con lists, grocery lists... they're all worthwhile. I always have a pen in hand (these are my favorite kind, if you were wondering, but maybe I'm the only person who wonders things like that) and I'm always making lists, and it keeps me functioning. I would forget everything otherwise. Lists on phones just aren't the same.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask what word is stuck in your head right now. Maybe you aren't someone that gets stuck on words like me, but I'm about to start a new project (Write 31 Days) and I just decided tonight that I'm going to write about one word every day. What word has your heart struggling or soaring? What word makes you feel fired up or afraid? What word seems so big and so good that you want to just ink it into your skin?

If we were on a coffee date, I would gush about my latest baby, The RisingIt's my pride and my joy and my greatest honor in my work. The people on my team are some of the very best people I've ever met. Their words make me better. It's a privilege to be a part of, and I would just go on and on about my love for it all. Oh, and I would probably ask if you wanted to be part of it with me. If you did, I would point you here.

If we were on a coffee date, I wouldn't hug you goodbye. Because hugs aren't my thing. They're awkward and weird and uncomfortable. I would just tell you I love you and it was so good to talk to you and that I want to do it again soon. And I hope we do.


In case you missed them, here are my posts that were part of the Blog-Tember Challenge:

Five Favorites

A Letter to 16 Year Old Me

A Moodboard for my Blog

An Introduction

WORK // A Speak Up Vlog

So, funny story... last month, the topic for Amber and Annie's Speak Up vlogging link-up was restoration. In all the craziness of getting ready for my trip and for moving, I wanted to record it before I left, so I rushed to get that done.

Well, I did it, and I loved it...but once the whole thing went live, I realized I had the topic TOTALLY WRONG. I recorded a great vlog on redemption...yeah, not the same as restoration.

Anyway...this month, I got the topic right! HA! We are back talking about WORK this month, so here is my take, and make sure to check out Amber and Annie's as well!

Here are the five things I hit on, and if you click them, they'll lead you to links that represent each one for me!


What I Read in August

August was WILD. The first week was spent getting a BUNCH of work done to get ahead of myself, then I was traveling all over the country for two weeks, then I packed up EVERYTHING I own and moved into a new apartment across town, and hardly had a second to sit down and catch my breath. It's been crazy.

With that being said, it shouldn't be surprising that I only got through a couple books. Then again, since I read an insane 14 BOOKS in July, I think it all balances out! 


Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor. // "What these editorial writers fail to realize is that the writer who emphasizes spiritual values is very likely to take the darkest view of all of what he sees in this country today. For him, the fact that we are the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world doesn't mean a thing in any positive sense. The sharper the light in faith, the more glaring are apt to be the distortions the writer sees in the life around him."

Flannery is my favorite. She was young and brilliant and sassy and so honest in her writing and faith. I can't read enough by her. When I found this collection of prose by her in my local used bookstore, I was so excited. It's a mix of essays and pieces she published and things that were never published, which was really cool to me. O'Connor writes a lot about writing, a lot about the South, a lot about the church and faith, and a lot about fiction/literature. If any of those things interest you, READ HER STUFF. That is all. If Flannery wasn't such an odd name, I would seriously consider it for my future child.



Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. // "For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness?"

I read this one during my two-week cross-country road trip, and it was the PERFECT choice. It's all about Steinbeck's adventures around America, and I absolutely loved how many parallels there were between his trip and mine. He wrote about a lot of places we saw, which was hilarious! I agreed with just about everything he wrote, too. This was a wonderful read if you have any wanderlust or love for this great country in you.


Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. // "Now I'm starting to think he wasn't supposed to be my whole life, he was just this doorway to me."

I reviewed this one in depth for #COLLABOREADS, so read that here!

Here's to a much fuller blog post next month of books read in September! ;)

When You Take a Two-Week Roadtrip...

If you follow me on any form of social media, you've been inundated with pictures from my travels over the last two weeks...and I can't even really apologize for that! Every day, I struggled to choose just a few images to share-- there were SO MANY. 

In just two weeks, my dad and I drove all the way across the country, from VA to CA and then all the way back. It was a whirlwind. It was awesome. I saw a LOT and I learned SO MUCH.

Here's what I learned on our great #RADnDadventure:

  • Good road trip tunes make even the most boring desert drives more exciting and bearable. When you find a North Pole radio station playing only Christmas music when you're in 100+ degree weather, CRANK IT UP and jam. It's the best. Needtobreathe's live album and the Les Miserables soundtrack are also great choices.
  • There is SO much open land in this country. It's refreshing to be reminded of that.
  • Every big city has a street named Broadway.
  • LOTS of road construction happens in the summertime.
  • New Mexico has the prettiest wild sunflowers on the side of their highways.
  • Nap whenever possible. Drink coffee whenever possible. Pee every time you stop.
  • We live in such a vast, diverse, beautiful, wild country. Seeing so much of it in such a short amount of time blew my mind. I'm so grateful for the freedom to travel like that without any restrictions. I'm grateful for how easy it is to cross state lines. I'm grateful for kind, welcoming people almost everywhere we went. I'm thankful for the chance to see so much of this land the Lord has made.
  • There are attractive, bearded, tattooed, hipster men in EVERY city. It's a beautiful thing. There is hope for me yet!
  • Being in the car for so many hours will make you feel crazy. You will get delirious. You will desperately need alone time. Laugh it off. Find time to recharge, even if it's just a few minutes in a quiet room or an evening with no plans to just journal in the hotel room. You need it.
  • You really can't ever go home again. (More on this later.)
  • Moving so much and covering so much ground so quickly is both exciting and exhausting.
  • Family is everything. Make time to see the people you love. Cherish it. These are the people who love you endlessly, support you relentlessly, and care about you deeply, and that makes them the very best of people.
  • Live music is always a good idea. When you're in Nashville, find live country/folk/acoustic music. When you're in New Orleans, find live jazz music. When you're in Flagstaff, go to The State Bar and hope that a singer-songwriter is there playing his music for you to fall in love with.
  • You can go so far when you just decide to do it. My dad said this one point during our trip, and it's so true. We just went for it, and it was awesome. It has made me want to just make plans and make trips happen way more in my life. Find some time, find some money, and just do it.

This was a once in a lifetime trip. It was awesome. I'll remember this adventure forever.

What I Read in July

Somehow, I read SO MANY BOOKS in July. This month's total is higher than any other... a whopping 14 books in one month. I guess the heat and humidity outside have kept me inside more with nothing to do but devour books on my to-read list!

Here's what I read this July-- please comment at the bottom with any thoughts or recommendations or anything at all!


The Vacationers by Emma Straub. // "They had chosen to make the leap and, having leapt, were delighted to find that the world was even more beautiful than they’d hoped.

My mom was reading this one for her book club, and I happened to get it from the library at the same time, so we both read this one simultaneously. It only took us a night to read it, and neither of us liked it, honestly. It never really seemed to go anywhere and I never connected with any of the characters at all. It ended so abruptly with a strange sense of resolution that didn't really seem to fit how the book had been going, and it just left me totally dissatisfied and disappointed. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, it just isn't worth your time at all.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl. // "Change works both ways. You must accept those moments, experience them, and let them go. Because if you allow yourself to get stuck in that minute, nothing will ever change.” 

I had this book on my wish list for ages, but finally found it at the library and grabbed it. I'm a huge foodie and watch the Food Network whenever possible, so reading a book with such a focus on food was right up my alley. I was so enamored with this book-- the plot did not at all go as I expected (in such a delightful way) and I loved all the layers of story Reichl wove together. I was blown away that this was her first work of fiction-- it's fantastic and I would have expected her to be a fiction pro by the way it was written. You will absolutely fall in love with the characters, be surprised by the way the plot turns, and will want to eat every single thing Reichl writes about.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. // “To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.” 

Recently, my grandma gave me a few big boxes of books she had read for book clubs and such, and I found this one among them. I had seen it around, so I was curious. It was such a great and unexpected read-- it's told from the perspective of the dog, Enzo, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's heartfelt and heartbreaking and hearing it all from the dog's point of view just makes it better and richer than I think it would have been otherwise. If you've ever had a dog and wondered what goes on in their minds, you would love this story of true love through the crazy twists and turns of life.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. // "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.

I've seen this little book EVERYWHERE but really just never wanted to spend money on it. The library came through on this one! I read it while sitting at the car place getting my car inspected (at 7:30 am...) and here's the honest truth: it wasn't that great. Hardly anything she said was news to me, she was super repetitive, and I just wasn't amazed. I appreciate her core message that we should only keep the things that spark joy and get rid of the rest, but this book just didn't really wow me. To be fair, I did do some tidying up when I finished reading, so maybe that's the whole point?

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. // "We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken."

I ventured back into the world of YA fiction with this one, and found that I blew through it in no time. I knew from the beginning that there was going to be some crazy twist (the writing style and everything just set things up for one) but I did not expect what happened at all. This wasn't an incredible work of literature or anything (it's not trying to be) but it's a great YA book with a strong pull and great twists along the way, so it was a solid read!


New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver. // "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Ever since I heard that quote by Oliver, I've been dying to read more of her poetry. I finally got my hands on this collection, and I absolutely am in love. I spent several evenings curled up in bed just reading and re-reading these poems (and even reading some aloud to myself because that's when poetry truly shines). It's one I know I'll read over and over again-- her words are just gorgeous.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. // "Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place."

Okay, I STRUGGLED to get through this one. I know, I know. Everyone loves it. BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHY. I think my first big turn-off was the format...I do not like books that are written in the form of emails and letters and narratives all strung together. At page 50, I wanted to quit. I wasn't into it, wasn't feeling it...but because EVERYONE raves about it, I kept going. I admit, it got a little more interesting as the plot thickened and characters got more exciting, but I just never fell in love. This book was just mediocre to me, and I really don't get all the hype. Oh well.


The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art by Erwin Raphael McManus. // "Our great fear is that we will never live a life worth sharing with others, never live a story worth telling, but that we will find ourselves trapped in a story for which there is no ending, only an endless cycle of disappointment and defeat. ... The reality is that our struggles and suffering give us the context to tell the greatest story of our lives."

I've had this book on my wish list for ages, and finally found it in paperback for cheap on Amazon and decided to give it a read. Overall, I actually wasn't super impressed or amazed by it. A lot of the time, it felt like little tweet-able one liners strung together without a lot of depth or continuity or anything holding it together. It wasn't bad, and I definitely underlined a lot of sentences and thought he said some good things, but it wasn't really anything spectacular. It's a short book, so if you need a little creative boost to remind you that your life is truly art and that what you do matters and that creativity is essential to our lives, this is a great book to grab.


The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen. // "Now here in Richmond, that humanity shone before us."

This was my #COLLABOREADS pick of the month, so I'll let you read that review there


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. // "In my mind, the sexiest thing in the world is the feeling that you’re wanted."

Okay, so I should probably start this by saying I don't think I've ever actually seen Mindy Kaling in anything...I've never seen The Office or The Mindy Project, so I really don't know much about her except what snippets and commercials and stuff I've seen. But...I loved Amy Poehler's book, and I saw this at the library and thought it would be similarly amusing and fun to read, so I read it. I really just didn't enjoy it, though. I think if I already knew and loved Mindy, it would have been better. It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't really that exciting and it wasn't very funny and it didn't really seem to say a whole lot... I guess it wasn't ever meant to be serious literature though so maybe I should just take it for what it is and move on! Okay, moving on.


Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller. // "When you believe in him you are not just forgiven but beautiful to God, righteous in Him. Now, how do you deal with criticism or failure? We should not look at who we are in ourselves but at who we are in him. Oftentimes after we screw up, we realize upon reflection that we are trying to save face, scrambling for reputation or approval. In other words, we try to prove ourselves, make ourselves beautiful, significant, and righteous--though we wouldn't use those terms. We are trying to make ourselves feel important and decent, instead of letting Jesus carry the burden of significance. If we really understood how God regards us in Christ, we could take disapproval and failure in stride."

I am a major Tim Keller fan and this book was no exception. Going through encounters with Jesus found in the book of John, Keller shares so much goodness, wisdom, and truth about who Jesus is and who we are in Him. I love when teachers and authors like Keller take Scripture and dive in deeply to it, showing meaning and significance and richness that can easily be missed with a quick skim. I underlined and loved so much of this book, especially that quote above that just struck me so powerfully. This book is such a simple yet glorious reminder of who Christ is and what He has done for us, and I would HIGHLY, highly recommend it to any believer, new or old.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. // "Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it."

I've heard about this book from several people, and I SEVERELY judged it by it's cover. I mean, come on, isn't that the WORST cover you've ever seen? What is even going on there? I finally decided to give it a shot and I have to admit-- it was AMAZING. So good. It's easy to read, with many pages having only one paragraph of text (which meant I could write lots of notes and process right on the pages themselves! bonus!) Pressfield talks extensively about Resistance-- the thing that keeps us from doing the very things we were created to do. Basically, I decided that Resistance is Satan's alter ego-- he hates when we try to do the things the Lord gifted and called us to, and will do anything and everything in his power to keep us from it. This book was a swift kick in the pants and a big motivational speech all at once. No matter who you are, this book will speak to you. Guaranteed there's something you feel called to do (even deep, deep down), but something's keeping you from doing it. DON'T LET IT. Grab this book, wake up, and go after it.

Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen. // "It was as if I kept refusing to hear the voice that speaks from the very depth of my being and says: 'You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.' That voice has always been there, but it seems that I was much more eager to listen to other, louder voices saying: 'Prove that you are worth something; do something relevant, spectacular, or powerful, and then you will earn the love you so desire.'"

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I have already come back to it more than a handful of times to soak up the words again and again and again. I have always loved and wrestled with the idea of being beloved, and this book illuminated all of that. Originally written by Nouwen for a Jewish friend, I found it incredibly convicting and humbling and stunning as a lifelong Christian. I want to get the word beloved tattooed on my body to remind me forever of the core truth of my identity: I am His Beloved.

Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry. // "It was as though his soul were like a little moon that would be dark at times and bright at others."

It was originally here that I heard about Wendell Berry, and then I read this about him and wanted to just read everything by him. He's written so much, so I'll spend a lifetime trying to get my hands on all of it, which is a great problem to have. These five stories are all poignant and unique and paint beautiful pictures of his characters that are unlike any others. This was a great read for a breezy summer evening in my hammock between two big trees with a cider in hand.

I'll be on vacation for two weeks of August and then moving in to a new apartment, so I'm sure my August book list will be a lot smaller :)

If you're looking for a book idea...our August theme for #COLLABOREADS is "a book set in summer"! Find some ideas here and join us with your review at the end of August!