I read three books in March! Okay, okay, I know that hardly counts as a "marathon." But it's definitely more reading than I've done for quite some time! Rather than write an individual review of each book, I just wanted to share a few thoughts on each one. You may even find a title to add to your own reading list! First was Be You. Do Good. by Jonathan David Golden, which was published in 2016, and had been waiting on my shelf for probably a year. I also finished Obedience Over Hustle by Malinda Fuller, which I've wanted to read since it was recommended by a blogger I follow when it was published last fall. Last, but certainly not least, was Made to Move Mountains by Kristen Welch, founder of non-profit Mercy House Global which provides care and homes for impoverished teen moms in Kenya.
Be You. Do Good.: Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive
by Jonathan David Golden
I chuckled out loud a couple times while reading this, because sometimes it seemed like every few pages, Golden would recount an idea or conversation he'd had over a pint at some pub or another. In my usual evangelical circles, if ones does enjoy a beer (or glass of wine), we probably don't talk about it. But that was just one part of what made Golden's book and perspective unique for me. Golden has a masters degree in psychology and is also an ordained Anglican priest, so it's not surprising that there was an entire chapter based to the concept of liturgy, which is almost foreign to me. But Golden's descriptions and application were clear, even though liturgy is not a large part of my own experience. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It contains interesting and amusing stories from Golden's life and his experiences as founder of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company. It also includes heartbreaking and hopeful accounts from Rwanda, where Land of a Thousand Hills offers a living wage to over 2,500 farmers. Each chapter ends with some questions for reflection and application. I did find the perspective in Be you. Do Good. less directly applicable to my current life as a stay-at-home-mom than other books I've read, and probably would have appreciated it much more in the past as a college student or working professional. It would also be excellent for anyone with entrepreneurial goals or abilities!
Obedience Over Hustle: The Surrender of the Striving Heart
by Malinda Fuller
This book is neatly chopped into two sections. The first is about the dangers and draw of "hustle" in our modern lives. Honestly, in my life as a stay-at-home-mom in a fairly rural portion of Iowa, I didn't overly relate to this section. Certainly I've experienced the lure of "hustling" after "success" in my various pursuits and areas of interest, but my life right now is such that the draw doesn't seem to control my priorities (see large gaps in the blog and my social media posts as one piece of evidence - ha!). I also found Fuller's focus on defining the term "hustle" to be a bit drawn out, and though she tries to get from the term to the concept, it doesn't quite happen in my opinion. The second section of the book, however, is about understanding obedience and surrendering our lives and will to God, which I found much more valuable. Fuller's intent is for us to focus on what God wants us to be doing, and not on desires and goals that come from other places. She reminds us of what obedience looked like for a different Biblical characters, gives some modern examples, and describes steps or ways to walk out what we're learning. She effectively de-mystifies being "in God's will" and also takes off the pressure to not take a misstep. Each chapter has thought-provoking questions for study or small groups, which would go even further toward applying the principles and taking steps towards fuller obedience.
Made to Move Mountains: How God Uses Our Dreams and Disasters to Accomplish the Impossible
by Kristen Welch
I think the title of this one is a bit misleading; "made to move mountains" may bring to mind the idea of having faith the size of a mustard seed and casting mountains into the sea, but the book is more about walking through challenging times. It wasn't an "easy" read; I, for one, don't always like to be reminded that life will have difficult times, and sometimes God allows us to walk through those times rather than "fixing" things. Even the portions about pursuing our dreams were a bit more serious than I expected, as dreams can be difficult to accomplish or not happen in the timing we expect. In the introduction, Welch describes how her original vision for a motivational, inspiring book changed as she began to go through some difficult experiences, personal "mountains." What I found here is more of a serious, challenging book that talks about faithfulness, obedience, glorifying God, and pointing others to Christ through life's challenges, good and bad. It is a worthwhile read for growing spiritually through difficult times. Like the two above books, each chapter has a point of reflection and questions to aid in application and growth.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Putting any on your to-read list? Others you would recommend I add to my list? Let me know!