I read more than one hundred books in 2018 and 2019. It’s become my new yearly goal, but in 2020 I blew by that number and hit two hundred (check out my IG account @megan.e.byrd to see all of the books). All of the extra at-home time was conducive to keeping my nose in a book. With that many books under my belt in 2020, it’s going to be a challenge to pick the best, so I cheated a little. Below you’ll find my top six of fiction and nonfiction along with some additional honorable mention.[Read more…] about Best Reads of 2020
Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker is a collection of essays about life, Jesus, parenting and relationships. Sprinkled among the stories of her past, the wisdom she’s learned from experience, the encouragement to live life fully engaged and pursuing our dreams are some very sarcastic and very true “How To”s (How To Get a Good Night’s Rest With Young Children – haha!). She also includes a few recipes as cooking is one of her favorites.
I was very encouraged, inspired, and convicted by several of her essays. The chapter “Defer and Prefer” has been rolling around in my head in the days since I read it. Jen is talking about this in the context of marriage and communication styles but I have been thinking about this for all of my relationships in general. If I am trying to really love God and others then a defer and prefer mindset can help me to become better at both.
“Bonus Moms” talked about the treasure of parenting in community, of having trusted friends who can help shoulder the load. Bonus parents can be sounding boards for your kids when they might not necessarily want to talk to their parents about everything. This community-style living is something that I have craved for a long time – probably ever since I became a mother. I have gotten glimpses and tastes but nothing consistent. I would like to continue to pursue this goal of having other adults and families regularly in my children’s lives so that they have some more relationships with non-family members they can trust and confide in.
Once again, Jen writes a book you will want to refer back to when you’re struggling in your current season and want some encouragement, support or hope. You will close the book and feel that your perspective on life has been bolstered. If you want someone to remind you that you are doing well in your season and there is light at the end of the tunnel, this book is for you.
Here’s something extra special for you. I enjoyed this book so much that I want you to have it too! To be eligible, comment on this post by sharing something in life that gives you delight or joy and like the social media post that brought you to this page. This opportunity runs through August 7th at 11:59 pm EDT and the winner will be selected on August 8th when the book officially releases. Good luck!
***Update: The winner of the book is Amanda Wissmann! Congratulations!***
A few years ago I implemented a personal policy where I would give a book two chapters to engage me and get me interested enough to want to learn how the story ends. If I wasn’t hooked by the end of chapter two, then I gave myself permission to stop reading and try another one. There are so many good books out there that I don’t want to waste precious reading time on mediocre or bad books.
Distorted had me riveted from the beginning and kept me guessing until the very end. It was very engaging and had me constantly questioning Mallory’s team and their motives. I didn’t want to put it down and breezed through it in just a few days (pausing only to do responsible adult things like care for my children). If you like suspense with a little bit of romance, then Distorted (available on June 20th) is definitely the book for you!
Mallory Baldwin is rescued from a year of horror as a human trafficking victim by Navy SEAL Tennyson Walker. Two years later, after rehabilitation and therapy, Mallory is embarking on a book and speaking tour around the country with the hopes of encouraging and helping other women who were trafficking victims. She no longer wants to be a victim, but a victor.
However, just as the tour is getting ready to kick off, Mallory begins receiving unsettling emails. Although she knows her captor was killed in her rescue, she begins to wonder if somehow Dante Torres survived after all and is planning to come back for her.
Mallory’s agent enlists Tennyson Walker as lead security for Mallory during her tour to ensure that nothing bad happens. The intensity of the email threats begin to escalate and bodies of murdered women branded with the symbol of Torres’s former organization are showing up at each tour stop.
Who is really behind the emails? Is Torres still alive and tracking Mallory down? Who can Mallory trust? Will she ever truly be free of her past?
I see there’s a giveaway for a free copy of the book on Goodreads until June 19th. Go enter for your chance to win!
Disclaimer: I received a free Kindle copy of the book in return for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions are completely my own and not influenced by the publisher, author and/or an affiliate in any way.
Friendships are very important to me. As someone who does not have the blessing of family nearby I have to depend on the relationships I form where I live to give me the social and relational time I desire. I want to have the healthiest, most live-giving relationships possible so I have recently sought advice and encouragement on having solid friendships in the book Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. It was so good that I want to share some of the truths I found in the hopes that you, too, can enjoy quality relationships in your own life.
What can you do to find safe, loving, engaged friends whom you can trust never to unfriend you? Become radically invested in the people around you. Take the initiative and become that kind of friend first. The kind of friend who: 1. Draws us closer to God. 2. Draws us closer to others. 3. Helps us become the real person God created us to be.
~ Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
I do want to be someone who encourages others, especially my friends. I know that I have a gift for encouragement and I want to use it for the benefit of those around me. I want to be someone who supports others’ dreams and celebrates with them when they find success. I want to be someone who is still present and supportive when there are setbacks or heartache. I want to be someone who is there through thick and thin, who is quick to show grace and think the best of others. I want to be someone who is a safe place for others, who is willing to do what I can for those around me.
Fine means the end of a conversation; the beginning of nothing. Now it’s time for the battle cry that if Truth can set us free, it’s best to start living in those places. Maybe going first and admitting our un-fine isn’t a weakness; instead, it’s a gift to the women around us who can finally exhale and admit their un-fine too.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
I do want to be willing to admit when I need help, when life is not all roses. I want to share my struggles so that solutions and encouragement and support can be found. If I continue to pretend everything is fine when I am actually hurting, it will be difficult to encounter healing. It is better to seek assistance than to try to go it alone – healing may be found faster and more completely.
Showing vulnerability makes me more accessible. I am not up on some perfect pedestal, but am in the trenches of real life with everyone else.
Admitting my struggle invites community. It invites others to gather around me and utilize their gifts and abilities for God’s glory and honor. Without it I am forfeiting others’ opportunity to be a blessing.
Do we have it in us, though, to go the distance? Do we have it in us to keep walking with our friends…Will we stay through the long, cold dark with them or will we tire and want to untie ourselves from a story that doesn’t have a convenient or happy ending?
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
This is an uncomfortable area for me. I feel helpless and out of control in the face of another’s grief. I feel awkward and useless. I have heard that sometimes just sitting with someone as they grieve – being physically present – is all that is needed. Words are not necessarily magical healers. You probably can’t say one perfect thing to immediately remove the grief. Grieving is a process and takes an unknown amount of time. I want to be willing to walk along side a friend as long as I’m needed or useful, even if that means a lifetime of support.
My tendency with uncomfortable feelings and emotions has been to distance myself from whatever the source of them are. I want to become more willing to sit in the uncomfortableness with others and seek to be a part of their healing (when needed) even when it’s awkward and I feel useless for doing anything that seems meaningful. I want to remember to just show up and trust God to show up with me and do his thing.
I have noticed that I struggle to sacrifice and be inconvenienced for my relationships. I am embarrassed by this but awareness is needed before change can occur.
How do you think you score as far as supporting your friends’ dreams? Do you also struggle with hanging in there and helping a friend walk through difficult times?
This is the fourth post of a series exploring some of the ideas in Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. If you’re interested in reading the other posts, please click on a title: The Fear of Missing Out, Finding Our Approval, Guilt-Free Friendship, The Comparison Trap and Working Through Negative Feelings.