Nine Books I Recommend – August 2016

Below are nine books I recommend from what I read this month. 

9 Books I Recommend


1. The Happiness Dare
Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire
by Jennifer Dukes Lee


It’s okay to want to be happy as a Christian. Jennifer shares why God also wants us to be happy. Her book offers ways to work with our individual personality types to achieve maximum happiness and holiness.

My book review here of The Happiness Dare

2. Hillbilly Elegy
A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J. D. Vance


Now a lawyer, author J. D. Vance tells how he grew up poor in a small Appalachian town as what many label a hillbilly. He writes of what that meant then and now. I heard of this book from this article: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author offers insight on Trump’s appeal.

3. 10 Things Jesus Never Said
And Why You Should Stop Believing Them
by Will Davis Jr.


Did Jesus ever say, “It’s all up to you“? Or “This wouldn’t be happening if you were a better Christian“? No. Davis walks through 10 things that Jesus never said that we often believe. I didn’t resonate with everything, but enough to make the book worth recommending.

4. Listening Is an Act of Love
A Celebration of American Life from the Storycorps Project
by Dave Isay


This is a beautiful collection of word-of-mouth stories heard in the StoryCorps’ booth. When we listen to each other’s stories, we are “bearing witness” to life and love and human dignity.

5. The Upside of Irrationality
The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
by Dan Ariely


This book contains more “irrational” things that we do and don’t do from author Dan Ariely (he also wrote Predictably Irrational, one of the favorite books I read in 2009). This one explains why bonuses don’t always work, why we should interrupt fun activities and push through boring ones, and why counting backward helps increase endurance.

6. Big Magic
Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert


Gilbert reminds us that we all are creative beings. She writes to encourage us to bring out the treasures hidden within each of us. Even if we think it’s already been done. “Well, yes, it probably has already been done. Most things have already been done—but they have not yet been done by you.”

7. Running Scared
Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest
by Edward T. Welch


I took multiple notes from this helpful book on worries and fears. Welch gives us a God-honoring view of how to trust more and worry less.

For me, knowing that there is grace for tomorrow has made the most noticeable difference on my own anxieties and fears. The hurdle that was always in front of me was that I couldn’t imagine that grace, which is another way of saying that I limited God to the size of my own imagination. Now I know that I could never imagine that grace because I have yet to receive it.


8. The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner


This is a somewhat haunting novel about Dill, the teenage son of a fallen Pentecostal preacher in small-town Tennessee. It chronicles Dill and his two outcast friends Lydia and Travis as they work to navigate high school and life.

9. The Language of Flowers
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


This novel also has a strange feel, but it sheds light on how a young girl might feel who grew up in foster care her whole life. When Victoria ages out of the system, she starts out homeless and penniless. The book keeps alluding to some hidden event that occurred earlier in her life that affected everything; I had to keep reading to find out what it was. As expected, it also contains many flower references, which I also found interesting.

Reading Now

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
    by Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Telling Room
    by Michael Paterniti
  • Without You, There Is No Us
    by Suki Kim
  • The Jesus Creed
    by Scot McKnight

* * *

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

Another Set of Grace Quotes

If you liked these 31 Quotes on Grace from two weeks ago (download all 31 here in a pdf), here are more quotes and articles on grace.

Originally posted as 31 Days of Grace


31 Days of Grace

Click on each title to see more.

1. Grace Is Opposed to Earning

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.”
– Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

2. Worship or Work?

“Worship, not work, flows out of the hearts of those who believe.”
– Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

3. Confident on a Bad Day, Too?

“God’s grace through Christ is greater than our sin, even on our worst days.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

4. Committed to What? Why?

“We need to work at ensuring that our commitment to holiness is a commitment to God, not to our own self-esteem.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

5. Fully Paid, Free Delivery Now

“One of the best kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all.
I mean all.”
– Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

6. I Exalt You, O God – Book review

“The lesson is obvious. God does note when we take time to thank Him and when we don’t.”
– Jerry Bridges, I Exalt You, O God

7. Tired of Talk

“Debates lose much of their heat when you are working side by side with Jesus for the kingdom.”
– Scot McKnight, Embracing Grace

8. Look Grace in the Face

The more grace we see, the more grace we’ll give.

9. Daybook, Grace Edition

Links and pictures where I’ve seen grace.

10. When You See Grace

“The strength of grace is best seen in the trenches, amidst the mud of misery and mystery.”
– Steve McVey

11. Bible or Jesus?

“We should pray for knowledge of truth that will change our lives rather than simply inform our minds.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

12. How to Guard Against Temptation

Jesus told Peter to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).

13. New Grace Every Morning

Just when I’d seen it all  
New mercy breaks the dawn  
And with my eyes open wide  
It feels like the first time, first time
– Mercy Me, “The First Time”

14. Grace-a-Lot

“They believed in grace a lot. They just didn’t believe in grace alone. They wanted to add to the work of Christ.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

15. Your Grace Looks Different Than Mine

“My God is showing him grace too, through us but also to us, even though his grace looks way different from my grace and I’d rather keep mine, thank you very much.”

16. Grace Never Runs Dry

“God has enough grace to solve every dilemma you face, wipe every tear you cry, and answer every question you have.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

17. Stronger Than You Think

“And here’s the secret: The more real we become, the more love we experience.”
– Dr. Les Parrott, You’re Stronger Than You Think

18. Holiness – One Choice at a Time

“And what you are now becoming is dependent on the choices you make.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

19. Intersections of Grace

A small glimpse of grace. A vivid view of God.

20. “Grace” by Tenth Avenue North

“Grace, only grace
Can roll your dead heart’s stone away
Grace, only grace
Can move us to a rhythm that will change our ways”

21. 3 Ways to Suffer with Grace

Don’t be a loner; don’t let enemies intimidate you; don’t despise suffering.

22. Shaking Off the Shackles

True Freedom is an inside job. I pray he finds Him.

23. Finding Grace in Books

“We are not one in opinion, but one in Christ Jesus.”
– Carl Ketcherside, The Twisted Scriptures

24. Grace Is God’s Best Idea

“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

25. Watch and Pray

“Our greatest source of temptation dwells within us.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

26. Grace Meets Need

“God’s grace is given wonderfully, but not wastefully; freely but not foolishly; bountifully but not blindly.”
– John Blanchard

27. When I See It, I Am Speechless

“Your grace Lord Your grace
Oh I need it I receive it
I’m amazed so amazed
When I see it I am speechless”
– Free Chapel, “Speechless”

28. Stretch Out in the Hammock

“Of all the things you must earn in life, God’s unending affection is not one of them. You have it. Stretch yourself out in the hammock of grace.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

29. Receive Your Gift of Grace

“Our spiritual gifts and the ministries we perform are gifts of God’s grace.”
– Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

30. Your Right to Rest

“They have somehow bought into the false belief that, for the Christian woman, rest is selfish and unscriptural. Nothing could be further from the truth!”
– Denise George, A Woman’s Right to Rest

31. In the Pain, Is God Still Good?

“There is no such thing as pain without a purpose in the life of a believer.”
– Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

* * *

Do you have a favorite quote or scripture on grace? Please share in the comments.

Download a free pdf of 31 Quotes of Grace


sharing at Christian Blogger,
Coffee for Your Heart
Women with Intention,

Need Help Making a Decision? Try 10/10/10

What decision do you need to make?

We’re constantly deciding something.

With my daughter getting married in a few weeks, we’ve been faced with many decisions. Who to invite, what gifts to buy, what to wear (I still don’t know that one!).

Whether your decision today is large or small, here’s a process that can help. (I originally posted about it here. It helped me decide “yes” to Guatemala.)

I found it in Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive, which was one of my 10 favorite books in 2014. The Heaths adapted the concept from Suzy Welch’s book, 10-10-10.

Decision making-10-10-10



It’s about perspective. By prayerfully asking yourself these three questions, you both narrow and broaden the time frame that your decision sits in.

• 10 Minutes

First, ask yourself:

How will I feel about this 10 minutes from now?

• 10 Months

Second, ask:

What about 10 months from now?

• 10 Years

And third:

How will I feel 10 years from now?

When I think about buying my mother-of-the-bride attire, the next 10 minutes aren’t critical. However, I can use the next ten minutes to set a plan and a deadline for getting my outfit together (shop on Saturday; buy something by September 5).

In 10 months, the wedding will still be a recent memory and I’ll likely still be looking at photos, but the pressure of the decision will be nonexistent.

And in 10 years? I doubt I’ll care at all which dress I picked out. (I’ll just be thinking how much younger I looked in 2016 than I do in 2026.)

In the short term, buying a dress is a hassle to someone like me who hates to shop. But in the grand scheme of things, I can see that this choice isn’t a life or death decision.

Putting it into the 10/10/10 scheme helps me see that the important thing in 10 years will be celebrating Jenna and Trey’s 10-year anniversary of a God-honoring marriage.

* * *

UPDATE: I found a dress! My daughters went shopping with me Saturday and we found something I liked in the first store. #happymom

Let me know if you try 10/10/10 for one of your decisions. Please share in the comments.

sharing at Tell His Story, Intentional Tuesday,
Purposeful Faith, Testimony Tuesday,
Inspire Me Mondays, Small Wonder,
Good Morning Mondays,
Moments of Hope, Glimpses

Hit the Pause Button


First comes the cut.

I had a small spot removed from my foot two weeks ago. In the moment, it was mildly painful.

Next comes the healing.

The injury ends; the healing begins. The doctor bandaged the spot, gave me medicine, and advised me to keep the wound covered for ten days so it could heal with no irritation or infection.

So I hit the pause button.

Pause is a quiet place.

It’s that space where you’re still too hurt to run back into life full-force. You slow down (or totally stop) for breathing room, to respect the injury, and to allow a decent head start toward recovery.

Where are you bleeding? Have you been cut by a sharp word or attitude or behavior from someone else? Or maybe your own?

Does your wound need space to heal?

Jesus invites us to pause.
There is healing in the pause.
There is grace in the pause.

In the pause, we quietly open our awareness to the Lord’s presence. To his good plan for our future. To his loving embrace of our pain.

Our pause may be only ten minutes here and there. It may be longer as our situation allows. But the Lord awaits us in it.

The pause may not eliminate our pain or restore us to complete healing (yet). But Jesus fills our empty places with grace. With love. His love.

He’s the One who not only wants our recovery the most, but who also has the most power to transform our brokenness into a sacred scar of beauty.

My foot is almost totally healed now. I still wear a band-aid but I won’t much longer.

When we’re willing to pause, his grace expands the healing.

* * *

Do you have a wound that needs healing? How do you hit the pause button? Please share in the comments.

Calm & Stillness is August’s theme for my One Word 2016: Welcome

revised from the archives

sharing at Thankful Thursdays,
100 Happy Days,
Thought-Provoking Thursday

You Remember What You See – I Can’t Forget This

Or, What I Can’t Get Off My Mind


Sometimes you see something you can’t shake.

I can’t shake what I saw last week. 

It was Monday morning, 9 a.m. I drive down my street to go grocery shopping. A half a mile from my house is an empty lot. A slightly overgrown field.

In this empty lot on that morning is a fire. A small pile of something in flames.

We’ve been in a drought. I wonder, Where is the person who should be guarding this fire?

A small car is parked on the curb by the empty lot. But no person is near it either.

I drive on. I buy bananas, pancake syrup, cheddar cheese, Lean Pockets.

I drive back home. It’s now 9:45 a.m.

I pass the fire again in my neighborhood.

  • It still burns.
  • Still small.
  • Still no one is watching it.

Here’s what I didn’t know.

But now that I do know this—what I was actually seeingI’ll never forget it.

A neighbor directly across the field is also watching the fire. Around 10 a.m., she sends her husband over to check it out.

Call 911! That’s the message he returns with.

What is burning?

I hate to tell you.

It’s a person.

A very depressed man got up last Monday morning and decides this is it. His last day.

He drives across the street from his neighborhood to ours, 100 yards away. To this empty lot he sees every day. Around 7:45 a.m, we guess.

  • He parks his car on the curb.
  • He douses himself with gasoline.
  • He strikes his lighter.

There’s much more to this story. I’m sure of it.

But I don’t know it.

What I know is sadness. I pray. For his friends. His family. His dog that I used to see him walk.

I’ll never forget him. Because I saw him.

Even when I didn’t know it was him.

What we see, we remember.

What will we see today?

Among everything else, Lord, let it be you. Let us see you. Please, you.

* * *

What have you seen that you can’t shake? How have you seen God? Please share in the comments.

sharing at Faith ‘n Friends, Faith Filled Friday,
 Christian Blogger, Women with Intention,
Purposeful FaithCoffee for Your Heart,
Tell His Story, Intentional Tuesday,
Testimony Tuesday

Be This Nurse to Whom?


Can we be this nurse?

I read this story by Thomas Keating in Awakenings a few years ago. It touched me then. It touches me now. (Italics and breaks are mine.)

Here is a true story about a psychiatric nurse who was told the lurid history of a certain patient who had just entered the hospital.

This man had committed a terrible crime. It was so terrible that he never wanted it known.

He had completed his long prison sentence and had come to the hospital in a dying condition. He could not believe that God could forgive his crime; hence, he resisted any form of reconciliation.

The chaplain tried to persuade him to trust God.He refused. Any thought of reconciliation awakened his self-hatred.

It was more painful for him to think of forgiveness than to feel his self-hatred.

The psychiatric nurse showed him every courtesy. She tucked him in at night, provided him with little favors like flowers, remembered his birthday, asked about his family, and wrote him notes on her day off. Because his illness was prolonged, she developed a friendship with him.

Near the end, his closest friend came to see him and urged him to be reconciled with God. “Please don’t mention it!” the dying man pleaded. “God couldn’t possibly forgive me for what I have done.”

His friend kept urging, “God is good! He loves you. You can trust him.”

But nothing he said could penetrate the sick man’s defenses.

Finally the friend said in desperation, “Think how much love the nurse shows you. Couldn’t God do the same?”

The sick man acknowledged how grateful he was to the nurse who had shown him so much love, but he added, “If she knew what I have done, she too would reject me.”

His friend replied, “I must make a confession to you. When you first entered the hospital, I confided to her the entire story of your crime in every detail.”

The dying man looked at him in stunned astonishment. His defenses dissolved and his eyes filled with tears.

“If she could love me,” he murmured, “knowing all that I have done, it must be true. God too can love me.”
– Thomas Keating

When it’s unimaginable to accept God’s love directly, can we accept it from other people first?

Once we accept it for ourselves, we have it to give to others.

We can be the nurse to someone else.
For the love of God.
By the grace of God.

* * *

Who has been the nurse in your life? Who can you be the nurse to? Please share in the comments.

sharing at Glimpses, Moments of Hope,
Good Morning Mondays, Small Wonder,
Inspire Me Mondays

4 Prayers About Politics

Have an opinion on politics this year?

Do you know who you’ll vote for? Or if you’ll vote at all?

Here are 4 things to pray about during this political season, regardless of your political party. 

It is possible to stay spiritually hopeful through this election cycle.

4 Things to Pray About Politics-Do-Not-Depart

Read it all here

Join me at Do Not Depart to talk about countering our fears, cynicism, anger, and worries during this election season.


Why I Know It Will Work Out

When one person approaches another person

I was sitting with two of my white middle-aged friends at Zaxby’s. Laughing, chatting, eating.

When she came up . . .

She was a 20ish black lady. She asked if she could ask us a question.

Of course, we said.

It was about hair. She was in cosmetology school and was wondering about certain perms that white ladies use.

But was it really about hair?

No. It was much better than that.

This brave young woman was bridging a gap. Intentionally.

She said she’s always known about one kind of hair from just one kind of friends. She wanted now to branch out, to learn more about other people.

It made my heart soar.

This is why we’ll make it.

This I how I know it will all work out.

When God sends one person to approach another person not just despite their differences, but because of their differences, we’re going to be okay.

We had a lovely chat. We did talk about hair. But we also talked about her little boy, our “strong” laughs (she said), and about our prayers for her success in her upcoming career.

It may have looked like just one black woman and three white women at Zaxby’s.

But, oh, it was so much more than that.

* * *

How has God sent encouragement to you lately? Please share in the comments.


Want More Grace? Quotes, Books, & a Giveaway

Want more grace?

How much time do you have?


  • Lots of time? 
    Read one of the 26 books recommended below.
  • Not much time? 
    Read a few paragraphs from each book. Click on the post titles to get there.
  • Only a little time?
    Read one sentence below from each book.
  • No time? 
    Download all the articles as a pdf now to read later.

Whatever your situation, may you overflow with grace today.

Book Giveaway

Today is my 8-Year Blog Anniversary! I started here 8 years ago today.


I’m giving away a hard copy of Sheila Walsh’s, The Shelter of God’s Promisesone of the books featured below. Leave a comment and I’ll randomly choose a winner Sunday night, August 14.

Update: The Book Giveaway has a winner! Congratulations to Sharon at SharonSharingGod.
August 14, 2016

31 Quotes of Grace

1. If you want grace 
“If you want God’s grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing.”
– Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods

2. Explain it or show it?
“I would far rather convey grace than explain it.”
– Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?

3. The trouble with grace
“I love to give charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace.”
– Donald Miller, Blue like Jazz

4. Grace > circumstances
“The abundant grace of God far exceeds any circumstance we encounter.”
– Stephen Altrogge, The Greener Grass Conspiracy

5. Don’t assume the worst
“Refuse to assume the worst when your spouse does something out of the ordinary. Instead, start with the assumption of good intentions.”
– H. Norman Wright, What’s Next?

6. Stay where you are
“In the Incarnation, God said, ‘Stay where you are. I’ll come to you.’”
– Mike Glenn, The Gospel of Yes

7. Is your soul thirsty? 
“God’s response to the thirsty soul is grace.”
– Andy Stanley, The Grace of God

8. Heaven into you
“God’s dream isn’t just to get you into heaven but to get heaven into you.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

9. Grace is like a roller coaster
“Grace is like a roller coaster; it makes us scream in terror and laugh uncontrollably at the same time.”
– Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love

10. Who needs grace?
“So who needs grace? All of us, the saint as well as the sinner.”
– Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

11. Grace always stoops
“Grace always stoops, to the point of being extravagant.”
– Leroy Garrett, What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved

12. Even when I’m wrong
“Truth matters, but so does our attitude.”
– Joshua Harris, Humble Orthodoxy

13. The purpose of prayer is . . .
“The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circumstances; the primary purpose of prayer is to change us.”
– Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

14. Jean Valjean, the Bishop, and grace in Les Misérables
“Is it true that I am to be released?”
“My friend,” resumed the Bishop, “before you go, here are your candlesticks. Take them.”
– Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

15. Own weakness to find strength 
“Grace calls us to own weakness to find true strength.”
– Paul David Tripp, Lost in the Middle

16. He gives to us, not us to him
“Grace revolves around what He has given us, not what we give to Him.”
– Steve McVey, 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday

17. Save me from myself
“Jesus came to save me from myself. He came to save me from self-effort.”
– Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

18. Not in our strength
“God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness, not in what we perceive as our strength.”
– Sheila Walsh, The Shelter of God’s Promises

19. You can’t exhaust God’s grace
“‘Stop asking so much! My grace reservoir is running dry.’ Heaven knows no such words.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

20. Grace pays it all
“Grace is not a matter of God’s making up the difference, but of God’s providing all the ‘cost’ of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.” 
– Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

21. You’re not a pendulum, Christian
“The Christian is not one who swings like a spiritual pendulum, as if forgiven one moment and condemned the next. A Christian is one who is not now nor ever shall be condemned: no condemnation!”
– Sam Storms, One Thing

22. How to know if you’re self-righteous
“You’ll never know if self-righteousness is in your heart until something tragic happens to a fellow Christian that you know.”
– Frank Viola, From Eternity to Here

23. The gospel is good news about a person
“The gospel is good news about a person and what that person has done for us in our hopeless, helpless and hapless condition.”
– Carl Ketcherside, The Twisted Scriptures

24. If God sees no undesirables, me either
“Because God sees no undesirables, neither should we.”
– Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew

25. If you can buy it, it’s not grace
“Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace.”
– Arthur Pink, The Attributes of God

26. Know God more, love God more
“As you come to know Him more, you will love Him more.”
– Steve McVey, Grace Walk

27. Do you dispense guilt or grace?
“Often, it seems, we’re perceived more as guilt dispensers than as grace dispensers.”
– Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace

28. You can’t contain it
“He dispenses his goodness not with an eyedropper but with a fire hydrant.”
– Max Lucado, Grace

29. Words we long to hear
“Words we long to hear: I love you. I forgive you. Supper’s ready. Isn’t this the gospel?”
– Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace

30. Jesus is the kingdom
“Jesus didn’t come to build a kingdom. He brought one with him. He is the kingdom.” 
– Carl Medearis, Speaking of Jesus

31. Take grace too far? 
“We can never go too far with grace because we can never go too far with Jesus.”
– Steve McVey, 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday

* * *

PDF Download

Download all the articles as a free pdf, 31 Quotes of Grace


How have you seen grace this week?

These excerpts are gathered from a previous 31 Days series.

Please share in the comments.

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