If you have known me for any amount of time, you know I love books. So in late December 2017, when I told Dan I had a goal to read thirty books in 2018, he laughed at me. He told me that he believed I would read way more than thirty books.
Then, in mid-May I started to have a strange headache we didn’t understand. What we now know as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) stole so much from me this year. (No Evidence of Disease) I spent much of the summer curled up on the couch after work unable to do anything – including read. My head hurt, my eyes were tired and my vision was blurry at best. For three entire months, I was unable to pick up any books. I stayed faithful in my bible reading – but even that was a struggle.
To say this year has been hard is an understatement, but God has been so good. I am still in awe of everything that has happened in a few shorts months. This year Psalms 23:1-5 has really come to life in a new way. It says this in the passion translation:
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
Not being able to read felt like a dark valley to me, however it was in that valley that I found a new intimacy with my Father. When I couldn’t read anything, except His love letter to me, I realized how often I am guilty of reading others words before I read His. When I couldn’t take another step, His words were my resting place. When I was surrounded by fear, His words were what comforted me. Through one of the craziest seasons of my life, I have felt full because of who my Jesus is. I have loved God’s word for a long time. However this year, I fell in love with His words in a new way. It’s the place I find safety and refuge. It’s the place I want to go to celebrate. It’s the place I go to meet my best friend.
This past weekend, I finished my thirtieth book of the year, and I didn’t expect the waves of emotions that hit me. I am so grateful to have the ability to read. It feels like restoration. I never want to forget how thankful I am for the ability to open a book and dive in. However, I also never want to forget the place my heart was this summer. The new place I found with my Father.
Friends, today I am going to share with you my favorite reads of 2018, but before I do, I have to challenge you. Before you pick up any of these books, I challenge you to pick up your bible. The Father has a new level of intimacy for you. My favorite books of this year have been life-changing, but nothing can change your life like getting into the word of God.
I am a lover of books, so choosing my top reads of the year was so much harder than I thought it would be! I wanted to list about ten books here, but instead I have limited it to my top four. So in no particular order, here are my top reads of 2018:
By Lysa TerKeurst
This book talks about rejection. I know, that is probably the last thing you want to read about, but the truth is rejection is something we all face. This book reminds the reader that with Jesus we are safe, accepted, held, loved and invited in. It is full of truth to help heal and let go of the hurts that come along with rejection. More than that, this book describes how to live with an abundance mentality so that we can live loved. When we live loved, our perspective is completely different. I finished this book in January, however I found myself going back to the pages of the book to remind myself over and over again how important it is to “live loved”.
Becoming a Prayer Warrior
By Elizabeth Alves
This book is a must have for every library. It breaks down prayer and makes it approachable. It not only explains why we pray, but how to pray. I have never read anything so practical. The last chapter of this book is a prayer schedule. It gives you different topics to pray for seven days. Each topic includes written prayers with scriptures backing everything up. If you are new to prayer, this book will give you the tools to help you become a prayer warrior. If you are a seasoned prayer warrior, this book will remind you of the basics and give you the tools to dig deeper. I kept this book by my bed for several months and used the prayers in the back of the book as a starting point when I didn’t know how to pray in different situations. I foresee myself re-reading this one often!
None Like Him
By Jen Wilkin
This book was the last book I read before I had to take a break. The timing of this book was perfect. The author took ten characteristics of God and described them. I admit, I have grown up in the church and I was skeptical that this book would be full of any new revelations. I was SO wrong! The way the author broke down the characteristics of God was like nothing I had read before. This book will teach you more about who our God is. I didn’t know when I was reading it, but this book was exactly what I needed as my last book for a time. It encouraged my heart and, honestly, blew my mind!
Gay Girl, Good God
By Jackie Hill Perry
I have always believed one man and one woman were made for each other. However, homosexuality has been a part of my extended families history for years. Even in the midst of my families history, I have always believed in a Father who loved my family no matter what they were doing. This year, homosexuality became a topic that was more than just part of my extended families history, it became part of my world in a way I didn’t expect. Around that same time, I saw an ad for this book. I bought it on a whim, without knowing much about the author or the book itself (something I rarely do). Friends, I can’t tell you how thankful I am. This book tells an amazing testimony of a gay girl who was radically transformed by God – but that’s not all! It talks about temptation and walking with Jesus everyday! Before you think you couldn’t relate… Homosexuality may not be part of your story (or the story of someone you love) but I promise this book is still for you. At some point, we all were lost in sin and Jesus left the ninety-nine to find us. Your sin may have looked different, but it was still sin. Our Father chased you and continues to chase you because He’s good and He loves you. This book is about miracles and a good good God who loves us more than we can think or imagine.
So now that I have shared my favorites, I have to know yours! I’d love to know what you are reading! Also, if you are looking for more of my favorites, you can find a list here.