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Friday Five: Books that Changed my Life

March 13, 2020

*Alternately titled Five Books worth Reading During the COVID-19 pandemic.*

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I devoured the entire American Girl book collection back before there were even dolls to go with the stories. Goosebumps, Saddle Club, and Babysitters Club books were my forte and I read every one I could get my hands on before 6th grade. When I hit Junior High, Harry Potter was released and I was the first in my school to fly through that. I moved on to other things like novelettes from Lurlene McDaniel, Judy Blume and eventually Nicholas Sparks. Books have always been an escape from the insanity and the chaos—even as a kid.

Amidst all of the panic and the craziness that is the world right now, I thought I would share my (current) six (because I couldn’t leave one out) all time favorite books in case anyone is looking for something to read in the coming days and weeks as we all self-quarantine.

Nothing Wasted by Kasey Van Norman

I got this book for Christmas and I absolutely devoured it within a week. By the second week after Christmas, I had read it twice. Kasey (can I caller her Kasey since we have never met?) has a way with making you feel like you’re sitting right beside her, just chatting with a girlfriend. Her story is raw and real and brutally honest. But, she tells it with the most grace and realness that I’ve ever seen. If you’re one of those people, like me, who wonders if God can or will still use you in spite of your jacked up past and your mistakes? This one is a must.

Unseen by Sara Hagerty

I received this for Christmas the year it came out. My Sarah had just been born and I was deep in the realm of postpartum depression and wondering what in the world I was doing with my life? Sara’s book came sweeping in and gave me a sense of fresh air and breathed life back into my heart. There’s a sense of exhaustion and longing unlike anything I have ever experienced that filled my heart upon becoming a wife and mother. Sara addresses these feelings and not only acknowledges them, but understands them. If you’re struggling with whether your life is serving a purpose or whether anyone sees you, I can’t recommend this enough.

Chasing God by Angie Smith

This one has been on on every list of “must read books” that I have ever shared. I have purchased copies of this to give away. I have recommended it to people standing in line at Barnes & Noble and in Lifeway when it was still open. Everyone I have ever recommended it to has loved it. Angie has a humble way with words and I know in my heart we’d be best friends if we ever met. This book is a great reminder and a heart-wrenching and honest truth bomb that we don’t have to chase after God. He’s been pursuing us all of our lives. If you’re stuck thinking that you need to be doing something to get God’s attention? Read this. It’s that good.

I Want God by Lisa Whittle

This book wrecked me. This book came out in 2014 and all I remember was seeing people talk about how great it was on Instagram. Initially, I couldn’t find it in my local book store, but ordered it online. I read it within the first 24 hours. First, I cried. Then, I prayed. Finally, I cried some more. This is one of those books that I go back and reread every year because the message is so important. It’s the reminder that we all need that over everything, despite everything, Jesus is what we need and He is everything.

Stop Calling me Beautiful by Phylicia Masonheimer

This has been a hot new release in the last few weeks and for anyone who has read it, you will understand why. This book is exactly what our culture needs right now. Amidst all of the debate within the churches about where women belong and what women should and shouldn’t say or do…this book was a breathe of fresh air. I can’t even quite put into words yet how much I have loved this book. I’m in the middle of the second read through (are you catching a trend? If I love it, I read it twice in a row). I’ll put it this way, if you’re a Christian woman who needs a kick in the pants or just a spiritual awakening to your place? This is your book.

On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle

Y’all. I love this book. I loved it so much listening to the audio version, that I ordered a physical copy because there was that much that I needed to go back and highlight and take notes of. Melanie is the big sister that I never had (she doesn’t realize that yet, but she is). Her books are funny but filled with so much spiritual truth and content. I love how relatable this book is and how much it’s needed right now. In a world where everyone feels like they need to use a social platform to share their crappy days, Melanie reminds us that there IS a bright side to everything. Go get this. It’s a nice, easy read with a lot of humor that will inspire you amidst all of this mess going on.

So, tell me: what are your go-to, must read books? I just found out that my kids are out of school for a MONTH due to this crazy virus, so I’m hoping to get a lot of reading done. Leave me a comment here or on Instagram and let me know what you are reading! Stay healthy guys…and wash your hands.

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