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julyreadsI can’t believe we are cruising through July already! This summer has been so busy and fun with my stepsons here, but even though I am so much busier than normal during the summer I have been reading quite a bit. I have read some hits and some misses this month, but I’m going to start with my favorite.

_240_360_Book.1965.coverHeart Made Whole by Christa Black Gifford – This book starts out with the author’s story of her daughter’s birth. Joy quickly turned to sorrow when they discovered that she was missing a large portion of her brain. Little Goldie lived for 40 minutes. I can’t imagine how immense the pain of losing a child is, but tears streamed down my face as I read her account. How does one heal from such an experience? This book is about taking that kind of pain and working through it, and exactly HOW to do that.

Christa likens the heart to a house with many rooms. A bad childhood could make the foundation shaky, and pain, hopelessness and despair might have themselves padlocked in some of the deepest darkest spaces. We are always told to give our pain to God, but how does one really do that in a practical sense?

As someone who has dealt with enough betrayal and pain to earn a red tag for the house that is my heart, I found healing in these pages. 

The thing is, many people are so filled up with unhealed hurts, the only capacity they have left to deal with new challenges is about the size and weight of a penny. If you lay a penny on your capacity scale, it only takes a tiny rock on the other side – like bad traffic, running late, or someone looking at you funny – to pull you down and leave you unable to cope.

Something that stuck with me is how she writes about the heart. We have been taught that the heart is wicked, and not to trust it. But she counters –

Your heart is such a big deal to God that he writes about it more than anything else- more than sin, more than works, more than obedience, even more than love. Your original heart isn’t a bad thing, because it was dreamed up by a good Father who only creates good thing.

I would really recommend this book to anyone and everyone, because we have all experienced heartbreak in one form or another. I closed the back cover of this book feeling lighter, and refreshed. There isn’t anything wrong or unloveable about me, and now I feel like I have the toolkit to invite Jesus into some of those rooms I haven’t had a key for.

_240_360_Book.1966.coverHow to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin – This book was a total miss for me. I’m not sure if I was unfairly judging it because I read it directly after Heart Made Whole, but I found myself skimming and eye-rolling through the bulk of it.

Jonathan Martin was a successful young pastor, and BFF of Stephen Furtick, as he reminds us several times, when out of nowhere he stepped down. He ended up losing his church, and losing his marriage, although he never really tells us why. Then he ends up in a bar, because cool, progressive Christians can drink in bars, right? And Jesus spoke to him through a drunk girl. Now, I’m not trying to be a legalist ass because the Lord knows I enjoy a good glass of wine, but the whole scenario seemed insincere at best.

I think perhaps I just wasn’t in the right head space to read this, but it read as canned platitudes and sermon highlights.  The only passage I highlighted in the book was from the forward by Shauna Niequist:

But here’s the thing: if you spend enough time on the water, something will go wrong. And if you live long enough on this beautiful, broken planet, despite your best efforts to avoid pain and check all the right boxes, things will likely fall apart at some point.

I may revisit this book in the future, but for now, it just didn’t speak to me. I was also confused by his reference to the Holy Spirit as a she … I think this genre of book requires a certain transparency to ring sincere, and that is lacking in this book.

5127MmbnHiL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Who Does He Say You Are? By Colleen C. Mitchell – I was really excited to read this book because Colleen is a blogging friend of mine, and a constant source of inspiration. She is a devout Catholic who isn’t afraid to speak out for what she thinks is right regardless of popular opinion. 

This book sucked me in from the first page. It begins with a familiar theme that has been woven throughout my July reads, redemption in the midst of heartbreak. In the middle of the shattering pain of losing a child, and several subsequent miscarriages, a ministry was born. 

This book focuses on the women in the Bible – how God transformed them, and what their stories mean to us as women of God. Colleen unpacks the stories of familiar characters like Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, as well as lesser-known names like Anna the prophet. I am not all the way through this book yet, but I can barely put it down. I have highlighted so many passages that seem so simple, yet why didn’t I ever see that before? 

One of my favorite parts is in the first chapter, which is about Mary. Colleen says: 

God could have chosen to break upon the scene of human history to save us from our very selves in any way he wanted. It could have been in a way that was overtly grand and glorious and terrifying. He could have shaken the foundations of the earth with his coming and darkened the universe only to light it up again. He could have put on a fantastic show.

But he chose instead to create a vessel that could cradle his greatness – he chose to be borne by and born of a woman.

Wow, right? 

This book doesn’t release until August 5, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon. It’s a must-read if you want to be inspired as a woman of God.

51R5F8Vlj6L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_The Life We Never Expected by Andrew and Rachel Wilson – Adding a baby to the family is always a joyful, exciting time. But what if that child has special needs? This book delves into the side of parenting special-needs children that we don’t often talk about – the hard stuff.

Maybe the hard stuff in your life is parenting a special needs child, or maybe it’s something else, but either way you will be encouraged by the transparent, and sometime humorous stories in this book. 

While I have dealt with some issues like attachment disorders and developmental delays in my parenting journey, I don’t think those of us who have not lived as parents of children with special needs can truly understand how exhaustingly difficult, yet graciously rewarding it is. As a church I think we are dramatically failing to help and support parents with special needs children, so if nothing else this book brings some awareness to a “day in the life.” I am inspired at the way this family leaned on God when it seemed like everything was crashing in around them.

This book is written in an engaging, easy voice and you will enjoy meeting this family and be encouraged by their words. I am giving a copy of this book away to one of my readers, and you can enter in the widget at the bottom of this post.

So, that’s what I have been reading in July. Any recommendations for my August stack of books?


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

This post contains affiliate links. These books were given to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.




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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is a wife, mom, and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.



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