Category: Book Reviews

Books I’ve read, my personal thoughts as well as the most sections that jumped out to me.

Book Review: Try Softer

Book Review: Try Softer

Book Reviews

After months of waiting, Try Softer is finally available to purchase and I cannot wait to tell you about this book. I’ll start with fully disclosing that I’ve known Aundi Kolber for several years through a writing group. However, that only lends to my desire to tell you that this is one of the most authentic books I’ve read in recent years I cannot emphasize enough how important Aundi’s Try Softer presentation is one everyone should consider.

In a time when PTSD is an overused catchphrase that people seem to self-diagnose themselves with, Aundi (a licensed therapist) brings clarity to how our past relationships inform how we learn to engage with people. Her tender reminder that difficult experiences don’t have to become trauma is so simple, and yet seems so opposite of what we hear and allow to occur in most situations.

Throughout Try Softer Aundi uses her personal story as well as those of clients to help the reader identify possible similar experiences. When we understand how our past informs our present we can begin the hard work of moving forward and changing the subconscious habits we’ve unintentionally established.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that Aundi incorporates her expertise as a therapist. She takes time to explain possible physical responses to situations we may experience. This is so important because for many of us we’ve learned to deal with conflict by NOT dealing with conflict. That is to say, we compartmentalize our responses in certain situations.

Aundi reminds us that God desires us to engage in relationship with him and others with our whole heart and provides the tools to help us to begin the journey to do so.

So, what exactly does it mean to “try softer”? You can learn more about that directly from Aundi here.

Who should read this book: Everyone who hopes to have healthy relationships.

What age is this appropriate for: The language is a bit complex. While Aundi is nothing but respectful, I think that the concepts may be harder for anyone under 16-18 to process well.

Book Review: Why I Still Believe

Book Review: Why I Still Believe

Book Reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full book review here! I’ve been buried in writing which has left little time for reading. However, there are some books that cross over with work and thankfully I’ve got a few that are worth featuring here as well starting with this one!

Why I Still Believe

For those who feel the ever-present tension between the beauty of salvation and the dark side of human nature, Why I Still Believe is a candid and approachable case for believing in God when you really want to walk away. With fresh and thoughtful insights, this spiritual narrative presents relevant answers to haunting questions like:

  • Isn’t there too much pain and suffering to believe?
  • Is it okay to have doubt?
  • What if Jesus’ story is a copy of another story?
  • Is there any evidence for Jesus’ resurrection?
  • Does atheism explain the human experience better than Christianity can?  
  • How can the truth of Christianity matter when the behaviors of Christians are reprehensible?

In Why I Still Believe Mary Jo Sharp shares personal experiences as a new believer with the Church. She shares about the time her clothes were criticized by the pastor’s wife rather than a simple welcome to our church. She also shares about times as a pastor’s wife and the criticism from congregations that came out of preference rather than theology.

Intertwined in these stories Mary Jo shares her faith journey from atheist to an apologist.

I found Mary Jo’s three ways people view doubt and the explanations around each of the views incredibly valuable. She also points out that doubt is a normal part of a maturing faith. That there is a difference between church culture and Biblical theology.

I love this quote: “Trying to put on my church’s cultural expression of faith made me feel like an imposter, like I was wearing someone else’s Jesus-believing clothes. Yet I had no idea how to find a genuinely fitting faith. And so doubt began to creep into my soul.” p. 26

Additionally, Mary Jo continues to remind the reader that we have to be willing to consider our own hypocrisy and flaws as we engage with the Church in order to have a relationship with God. We are all flawed, all capable of more evil than we’re willing to admit. “To think critically on a matter I’ve got to be open to the fact that I might be wrong.” p. 32

As Mary Jo takes the reader through her faith journey and the beginning of how she founded her ministry Confident Christianity she also addresses many of the common discussion points atheists bring up to support their viewpoints.

The picture of humanity is the story is that we are indeed fallen from our original relational status with God. The result is that our knowledge, intellect, desires, and will are affected, and as a result we constantly dehumanize ourselves and others. We are not going to be able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps – or, in the language of today, just “follow our dream, speak our truth, show love not hate” – because individually we continue to be the problem. Yet Christianity also pierces the human propensity to hate ourselves. God made us in his own image, so we are of highest value (Genesis 1:26, 31). p.178-179

Mary Jo Sharp Why I Still Believe

I found this book to be full of wisdom from years of hard experiences coupled with humility. Mary Jo’s timely book reminds us all that we are flawed humans created for relationship with a perfect God and other flawed humans.

For many, our experiences in the Church have been that as we’ve questioned church culture we’ve been told directly or indirectly questions revealed a lack of faith. In Why I Still Believe Mary Jo affirms that deepening our relationship with Jesus and our faith in our Creator requires study, exploration, and continued learning. Much of that will include asking questions.

What I Read in 2018

What I Read in 2018

What I've Read 2018

This year I embraced audiobooks and discovered our library has amazing opportunities for ebook and audiobook lending. I repeated my goal from 2017 to read 20 books and thankfully, due to audiobooks, I was much closer to meeting that goal than if I’d only read books.

Here’s my 2018 Reading List:

I’ve set a much smaller goal for 2019 mainly because I’ll be focusing more on writing, and you aren’t supposed to read within the same genera as you write. Since I prefer non-fiction this means I’ll be less likely to pick up a book. On the other hand, I’ve had an embroidery project waiting for my attention for six years, and I expect this year to be the one where it’s completed.

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