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2020 Review: 8 Books in 6 months

Before I was a mama to 3 little girls I spent my rainy fall evenings in Oregon nestled by the cozy fire reading. My reading now looks different, slower paced, and against my hearts desire–usually on Audible. I realized I haven’t shared a Book Review on the blog in quite a long time. I thought since I used the last part of 2020 to read 8 books in the last 6 months, now would be a good time to resurrect my Book Reviews.

A few of these books I did read with my own eyes, the other few I “read” through Audible. I get through books a lot faster these days via Audible and for that I am thankful! But the reality is I miss holding a book, rustling pages in my fingers, underlining favorite lines and jotting notes in the margins. I discovered the perfect combo for me… having both a physical copy and listening. When I came to a part in the book that I liked on Audible, I opened the book and jotted notes inside or underline paragraphs. For me as a mama of littles, this is the perfect match for me in this season.

You will notice my books I’ve read in this season have a similar theme… which I didn’t plan. It morphed into that journey by the Spirits promptings. Late Spring a heavy burden for prayer was laid on my heart… I would sometimes just pace around and whine to Branden :). In Spring we were in lockdowns, many people not meeting at all, even churches. I couldn’t figure out how to pray with people when people were separated. I felt God leading me to soak in all the books and resources I could in this season, so that’s what I did.

I started re-reading 2 books I had next to my nightstand that I previously read 5-6 years ago, Crafted Prayer and Everyday Supernatural. After those 2, it led me to pick up 2 of Jim Cymbala’s book’s… I thought that would be it for my reading splurge. But Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire began the hunger to keep reading.

To keep this brief and hopefully helpful for you, I either just included a favorite quote or impression from each book that impacted me.

I didn’t set a goal to read this year, it organically happened. But this year, I set a goal, and thanks to all my credits stored up on Audible I think I can hit it 🙂  I am aiming for 24 books this year.. if I have my head in books, that means less social media opinions 😉

Crafted Prayer (re-read)

My friend gave me this books years ago, in the middle of the infertility journey. And the truth is, it sat on my nightstand for a few years before I ever opened. I was too angry to read books about prayer– I was in a deep pit of discouragement and I couldn’t bare my soul to read one more book on prayer. After my girls were born I finally read this book… which I read in one night and have since read it a second time while keeping it on my nightstand for reference.

This little pocketbook is a power-punch with how to put together crafted prayers with intention and perseverance.

“As a Church, we know how to pray with depression all to well, but prayer with joy is the experience we are destined to have. For too long, we have prayed with anxiety, with fear, with nervousness, with unbelief, with doubt. It’s time for JOY to return to our prayer life!” Page 62

 

Everyday Supernatural (re-read)

When I read this a second time the chapter on obedience stirred my soul. I felt God asked me to intensify my obedience with a heart focus to “Do whatever He Says.” I think sometimes we want more of the Spirit, more of God’s presence BUT to encounter it, we have to get out of our head— out of own way and say YES, I’ll do whatever you tell me…and in the undoing of our walls we will find more of his love, his presence and his power as we say yes!… Read more of my reflections here 

“If we want to show God we love him, one act of obedience is better than a hundred sacrifices he hasn’t asked for.” Pg 83

“Obedience is doing what God tells us even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.” pg 74

 

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala

One of my favorites!  I loved this book so much and really its the book that broke open my heart to what God might do. Jim is a pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York and his books are full of stories of life transformation. He shares many stories of Tuesday night prayer meetings and how prayer has changed their church. He reminds us that Jesus said in scripture, my house shall be called a house of prayer, not teaching, healing… but Prayer! I read this book back in early summer and I see now that many stirrings God placed in my heart came from the vision Jim paints with his words.

“When we sincerely turn to God, we will find that his church always moves forward, not backward. We can never back p and accommodate ourselves to what the world wants or expects. Our stance must remain militant, aggressive, bold…. God still uses foolish tools in the hands of weak people to build his kingdom. Backed by prayer and his power, we can accomplish the unthinkable.” pg 99 + 100

 

Prayer, why our words matter by Corey Russell

This book I can’t talk about without getting emotional… This book and Fresh Wind would probably be my top 2 out of the 8 I read. I still can’t articulate all the reasons why this book brought me to tears so many times but I think his words brought clarity for me. In this book Corey’s words gave SO much meaning and insight to my hardships and my prayer journey the last 10 years. He uses a lot analogies between barren women, like Hannah in the Bible, and the fruits that come from a barren women’s prayer life… it truly had me in tears several times. He walks through many stories of people in scripture and how they prayed… I really loved the insights pulled from scripture. I had many quotes from this book that I wrote down, but I will share just this one…

“It takes the cry of the barren to birth the prophetic. God needs Hannahs to give birth to Samuels—people willing to walk the long and lonely road the wilderness in order to God’s greatness manifest. God doesn’t want our religious prayers. He desires the deepest parts of us… only after we have been stripped and entered into complete desperation and dependence can we be trusted with the promise.”

 

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

This book is VERY practical if you are looking for ways to bring structure to your prayer life. My favorite part of the book is teaching you how to make and use Prayer Cards. I actually had implemented this practice long before I read this book thanks to another blogger who shared his tips.

“So the feel of a praying life is cautious optimism– caution because of the fall, optimism because of redemption….Our confidence in the face of evil comes directly from the spirit of Jesus and animates a praying spirit.  Audacious faith is one of the hallmarks of Jesus’ followers.” pg 84

 

Spirit Rising by Jim Cymbala

I enjoyed this book, though it wasn’t my favorite, but it was full of stories! Jim shares countless stories of people off the streets in New York that were transformed by the power of the Spirit. This book

“A basic sign of revival is that the wind is allowed to blow where it will.”

 

Azusa Street by Frank Bartleman

This book was hard for me to get into at first and I almost quit… but I am glad I didn’t. It is accounts from the Azusa revival, but once I was able to adapt to the writing style and embrace the way the story was told, I began to enjoy the insights from this historic revival.

The one thing that really stood out to me was seeing how difficult, how much negative press and pushback they got as they led the revival— I think we have an over idealized concept of revival right now…as if it’s this glorious experience. But as I read this book it just was reminder that to see the fruit of revival we have to live out the truths of scripture, deny ourself and take up our cross…

Right now I see an allure to the fruits of revival but I see a lack of courage, commitment or perseverance to push into the call of obedience.

 

This one quote from the book I’ve read and reread and read again. I read it out-loud, I read it before bed, I read it to whoever will listen to me… ha! We are living in a crisis as a nation, as a church and were going to have to lay down our popularity, likability, and fear of man complex if we want to see a move of God come have his way.

“In various crises that have occurred in the history of the church, men have come to the front who have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their fellows. When Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, cautious men were astonished at his audacity. When John Wesley ignored all church restrictions and religious propriety and preaching in the fields and byways, men declared his reputation ruined. So it has been in all ages. When the religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply, and there have always been found a few who were willing to be regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness is the only attitude that can meet the needs of the present times.” page 44

 

Teach us to Pray by Corey Russell

Right after I had finished reading his first book on Prayer, this brand new book was released so I had to read it because I loved the first one so much! This book on prayer affirmed a lot of stirrings I have had in my heart the last year as well as gave me a little pep of adrenaline in my prayer journey. It reminded me of truths as well as pushed me into some new prayer rhythms.

“If you will find your success and highest joy in encountering Jesus and his voice, you will become one of the most dangerous people who have ever lived. You will unnerve every religious spirit, political Spirit, networking spirit, and the spirit of control and manipulation because you can’t be bought, controlled, or manipulated by money opportunity supplies or open doors.” pg 144

 

Now it is your turn to share with me! What books in 2020 did you love? Was there a theme for you? What are your goals for 2021? I currently am reading 3 books… so hopefully a fresh review for January is coming!

> Disclaimer – Like with any book I review and read,  I am not 100% endorsing every word in these authors book. I always like and enjoy reading books from different authors and even theology backgrounds. My encouragement is, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater if you come across something that is different than you’ve experienced.

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