My Friends Are Writing Books

My Friends Are Writing Books

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For those of you who care, I was originally in this picture holding all these books, but that was the day before The Antelope in the Living Room arrived (the book, not an actual Antelope – the actual Antelope is in Melanie’s house), and by that time I had ceased having photographically worthy hair. So, just picture me with cute hair sitting in that cute french chair. Now, onto my news…. My friends are writing books (or people I wish were my friends) and they seem to be doing so at rapid speed and I feel the need to bring each and every one of them to your attention because I love all these authors. You’ll notice that I haven’t read all of them yet, but all of these wonderful writers I know, so I feel really confident writing about their work. There’s no rhyme or reason to the order so make sure you scan the whole post because the book you may need – right this very moment – might be near the bottom.

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Little Black Sheep: A Memoir

by Ashley Cleveland

 

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Back in the day – and I do mean way back there – Ashley’s guitar playing extraordinaire husband, Kenny Greenberg, produced my first signed record. It was a dream come true for me to have a record produced by Kenny and also to have Ashley sing on one of the songs – I thought I was gonna die. I knew a little of Ashley’s story at the time, but not nearly what I know now after having read her book. This is truly one of the best books I’ve read in years for many reasons. For one, while Ashley’s story is harrowing at times it makes Jesus’ redemption shine all the brighter. She is a beautiful writer – as beautiful as she is an artist. I literally could not put the book down and I reference her turns of phrase often. In addition, if a loved one struggles with addiction, or if addiction has characterized some of our own path, this is a truly remarkable read.

 

The Antelope in the Living Room

by Melanie Shankle

9781414385549_p0_v1_s260x420I  started reading this last night after being one of the last people on earth to see “Saving Mr. Banks”. What can I say? So far, The Antelope in the Living Room is right up there with Mary Poppins. If you think I’m biased I will tell you forthrightly that I certainly am. Melanie, her husband Perry and their daughter Caroline are three of my favorite people in America. In Texas. In San Antonio, specifically. Whenever I’m anywhere near their home, perhaps to their dismay, I make myself at home with them for at least a night. In fact, I’ve actually begun to share all the very minor holidays with the Shankles. For instance, I was part of their crawfish boil last year on Cinco de Mayo. Okay, but about Melanie’s book. Melanie is one of the funniest writers I know while also bringing depth. As you can see from the cover, you’re going to have fun if you buy this book, which you should do. But, you’re also going to be encouraged, especially if you happen to be married and that marriage is not all that you imagined it to be at one time. That said, I’m not married and I’m having a jolly of a good time reading it and learning some important things along the way – like what not to register for if I ever do get married.

God Is Able

by Priscilla Shirer

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This just came to me in the mail a few weeks ago and I’m excited to dive in. Let me just say that if there’s anyone who can get you excited, get you motivated, get you believing again, Priscilla’s got this gift. As you can see from the title, she tells it like it is. There’s also something to be said for her communication skills. If you’ve never heard Priscilla speak, LifeWay has a great option for you and you don’t even have to leave your living room – you don’t even have to leave your bed, for that matter (but maybe don’t tell people that). Priscilla has her own simulcast happening on April 5, 2014, simply click here for more information. In the meantime, get the book. I am confident you will be blessed. I always have been around Priscilla.

 

Chasing God 

by Angie Smith

chasingGod_bookI know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case let’s just go for it because this cover is stunning! And I feel certain Angie lives up to it. I just got this the other day, and it’s in the stack I can’t wait to get to. But let me just say this about Angie: One of this things I remember about her first book, I Will Carry You, was her fresh insight into Scripture. Also, she’s funny. One of the funniest people I know, actually. She is a deep soul and a gifted writer, and based on what I know of her journey this will be a treasure-full read. (I just used the word treasure-full, which is perhaps why no one has ever asked me to write book reviews.) At any rate, I’m really glad Angie is one of the many incredible women speaking into our generation today. This will definitely be worth the read. No doubt in my mind.

 

 

Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose

by Candace Cameron Bure

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So… who doesn’t relate to this? I mean, the part about trying to balance everything at once. (Maybe not the part about being absolutely gorgeous while in the kitchen in your red dress and matching high heels and twin puppies). Seriously, I had the fun of being able to do an event with Candace a year or so ago and I was a nervous wreck. She – very kindly – said something from the stage about how she’d gone through one of my bible studies and how thankful she was to be there with me, and I was thinking, “Uh… I’m kinda freaking out because I’m here with D.J. Tanner, let’s be honest.” Growing up, I was glued to Full House on Friday nights. TGIF anyone? But setting D.J. aside for a moment, I was really impressed with Candace’s kindness, honesty and commitment to Christ. She had some really insightful thoughts on marriage and motherhood (and starring in movies), and the women at the event loved her. I hope we get to do it again sometime, and I’m hoping to be a little less nervous the second time around. (Also, I’m a big fan of her publisher B&H, which also published Priscilla and Angie’s book – but this is just a side note.)

Restless: Because You Were Made For More

by Jennie Allen

Restless-Because-You-Were-Made-for-More-by-Jennie-Allen-666x1024Perhaps you’ve heard of the IF: Gathering. If not, click on the link so you can officially say you’ve heard about it because there are some pretty great things happening over there. Jennie is a bible study and book author, speaker and founder of IF. She’s also a wife and mother and understands what it takes to juggle responsibilities that are running in opposite directions, not to mention a ministry. When you’re with Jennie you can’t help but witness a woman who’s passionate about getting a generation unified and on mission for the God she serves. Jennie’s determined and she’s, well, admittedly restless, but she’s not viewing that as a bad thing necessarily. You’ll have to pick up her book for her to unwrap this for you, and if you do, I know you’ll get an honest and vulnerable voice for the journey.

 

 

A Little Salty To Cut The Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon

by Sophie Hudson

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I have a couple things to say about Sophie. First off, I love her. When you meet Sophie you immediately start thinking about – besides how funny and likable she is – how much you love her. It’s just her nature. When my friends mention Sophie’s name in conversation like how they want to visit her, or they love her writing, or how hilarious her blog is, I always say, “I love that Sophie.” Every time. And here’s the second thing about Sophie – she’s a really excellent writer. A true writer’s writer. AND SHE USES A LOT OF CAPS. So if you missed her first release this past summer, because no one told you HOW GOOD THIS BOOK IS!, and if you’re needing some encouragement, a friendly voice, some warm southern stories, and an author you will love, I highly recommend A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. Oh, and you will laugh, yes, you will laugh.

 

Stripped: When God’s Call Turn From “Yes!” to “Why Me?” 

by Lina Abujamra

I like Lina because she’s straightforward. She’s committed to Scripture and to telling its 9780802409652_p0_v1_s260x420truth. I received this a little while ago and I wanted to include it because Lina is a single woman, a doctor, a leader in ministry, an author and she seems to have some timely wisdom for those whose lives may not be working out exactly as they’d hoped. Anyone? Lina’s not the type to allow you to wallow, though. She gets after it and she shares biblical truths in practical ways that will inspire you to keep moving ahead, even when the road is taking it out of you. Also, Lina wrote a book on singleness called Thrive. I often get asked if I know any good books out there on this topic, so I’m happy to mention this as a great option.

 

 

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I Bought A Car

Yesterday I bought a car, a brand new one right off the lot. You would have had to have known me for the past 22 years of my driving career to get the full, supernatural weight of this act. When I turned 16 my dear grandfather generously gave me his ocean blue Dodge Omni. (Just Google Dodge Omni to get a feel for my junior and senior years of high school.) I drove it into the ground, or rather as long as I could before I came home to find that my mom had sold it because she could get $300 for the tape player – this is a true story. She added that money to a savings account I’d been building while working for two years during college so I could buy my first ever used Jeep Cherokee…. for a grand total of $4,200. I drove it for 8 years until it caught on fire to its death. It literally caught on fire. I bought a lemon of a used Trooper for $8,000, drove it two years while it leaked oil onto every free road in Nashville, sold it for $3,500 and then bought another used Cherokee for $8,500 that I’ve driven for the past 8 years.

This brings me to Saturday: A day off, a day of happiness, a day of pure bliss wherein I had a junk car with no payment and money in the bank. Until, that is, my friends coaxed me out the door for the “blowout” sales that, of course, were ending in the next five minutes; there would never be another sale of its kind, not in the history of humankind, nor ever to come. The 2013’s on the lot HAD TO GO or else people might die at their desks. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity I would be a fool not to seize. And so, I waited because this is what I do. I took the weekend to consider my options, pull the consumer reports, get advice from friends, and apologize to my Jeep for my pending disloyalty. On Monday morning, lo and behold, the deals were still there – the sales had been extended, oh my word. And so yesterday, after much thought and prayer (yes, I pray over my cars) I drove a brand new car off the lot. As night fell and the streetlights gleamed in the wintery steam of January’s air, and as I drove out into the world in my charming new vehicle, I lost approximately $5,000 in value. At least this is how my mind works.

It’s that thing about cars not being investments that just kills me. Every time someone says that the first thing a car does is lose value, a little piece of me shrivels. I think this is why I’ve never spent much on them because I so prefer the idea of sustainability, increase, one seed that grows into a plant that in turn gives you many seeds. (As opposed to paying a bunch of money for something that will eventually end up in a heap of metal parts.) So when I woke up this morning and looked out the window at my super smart, blizzard pearl exterior, brand new car, it was with mixed emotions, partly because I can be a downer, but also because all this is just true. I was happy for the car, but I couldn’t help but think of how many things in life I dump my time or money into, stuff that decreases in worth as fast as cotton candy disintegrates in your mouth – stuff I try to actually protect. Right, did I mention I also paid for a warranty on this car? Because when buying a new car the first thing you want to do is start thinking about all the things that are about to break. I could just die right now.

On the other hand, when I hear the term ‘compounding interest’ my heart flutters. I’m getting a little, tiny bit older, and more than even I find myself pondering the beauty of eternal investments. I am genuinely grateful for the work I get to be a part of here and in the Amazon, the relationships I get to pour into and who pour into me, dear readers I have the privilege of writing for, the teaching of the Word that never returns void. I am thankful for the opportunity to sow into churches and ministries who change the course of people’s lives. Today, as we live and breathe, we have the opportunity to do what counts for eternity! We have the opportunity to grab joy right out of the air when we give our money, our time, our resources – a lasting joy that doesn’t disintegrate when you drive off the lot. When a dear friend of mine recently left her job to take over a Christian non-profit for half her salary, another friend said to her, “This is your new inheritance. Go get it!” I’m so grateful that God has ordained a sacred economy where our heavenly treasures can’t be bothered by moths or rust or thieves, where our investment is secure and our joy safe. God is good to give us this reality, but it’s a reality we have to choose. Jesus told us to store up heavenly treasures, suggesting there are other types of treasures we can live for. Let’s get after our God-given inheritance this year. It’s more sustainable and profitable than we could ever imagine. I’m excited. And, please, keep me in your prayers as I head to the Amazon in mid-February for the Third Annual Jungle Pastors’ Conference put on by Justice and Mercy Amazon.

Looking forward to 2014 with you.

 

 

 

 

 

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