Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What I Read in 2018

It's that time of year where we all tend to cast a glance back at the compilation of time and experiences of the past 12 months.  Highlights, low moments, adventures had, experiences enlightened and so on.  Media outlets issue the year's best lists and even bloggers find recaps a fun way to realize all life has held for this year preparing quite quickly to close!

When 2018 began, I was in the middle of sabbatical and finally turning a corner to some much needed spiritual healing.  I prayed for God to show me how to best honor Him with the extra time I had on my hands since writing was on hold, He was faithful to answer.  He said, READ!  And read I did.

The books God led me to played a phenomenal role in my return to peace and understanding.  Some were titles I enjoyed with my high schoolers as they worked on literature tie-ins to their history studies.  Others were finds intended to encourage me as a homeschool mama (even after 11+ years it is still needed!!) Even my leisure fiction finds were a reprieve, helping me to find missing pieces of my more romantically creative self!

Being a firm believer in the idea, good things are meant to be shared, I have decided to compile a recollective list of my literary adventures from the year!  NOT included are my book reviews for Tyndale and Lifeway or the books I started and then returned to the shelf because I didn't like them at all!!

 I can't remember how I found this book but I can say, it was a TOTAL LIFE-CHANGER for me.  I read In_Security at the beginning of the year and through it's pages, God healed me from over 40 years of self-destructive thinking stemming from un-attended insecurities.  If you or someone you know struggles with even a small measure of Insecurity I HIGHLY recommend this read!

God led me to read "Loving God..." directly after In_Security.  I had it sitting on my shelf for some time, having read some of George's other works and loving them, I always welcome opportunities to read her material.  This book mirrored In-Security in some ways and filled in gaps in others, solidifying the healing process God was guiding me through.

This little devo intertwined with the above two books during my morning study time.  I don't really follow Charles Stanley and I didn't have any of the teaching series Sandra references but this book worked well on it's own anyway.  Comparison is something I believe many women struggle with, and I was no exception by far.  Walking out the daily devotions helped me find peace in who I am and where I am.  I also learned how to better celebrate others, even when they are "have" those things which I long for.  I am now truly able to walk more contentedly as I genuinely celebrate other's regardless of where I am at!  Loved it.

I attended an online writing conference where this book was showcased as a self-publishing success.  The title grabbed me because of my missions experience so I ordered right away!  I have since called this my field exit debriefing in a book!!  God used it to tie up some of the loose ends in my healing this year.  Learning how so much of what we experienced in and out of field work was ordinary (even if hard) helped me make peace with many hurts and adjustments.  This book isn't just for missionaries though, I recommend it for ANYONE, especially those who know missionaries!  Ellen's insight can help open dialogue and understanding for better interpersonal communication with missionaries.

All of my spiritual growth reading this year was well caped off with the Casting Crown's lead singer's book "The Well".  I sent this to a friend of mine for reading material during major surgery recovery.  I sent other books as well... she never read them because she couldn't put this one down!!  Said she read and re-read... it is truly THAT good!  Mark uses the story of the Samaritan Women at the well as the base-line in this manual on recognizing when we are drawing from any other source than God for our strength and purpose.  A must read for the discerning Christian!

I asked for and received this great break-out book for Christmas 2017.  I enjoyed every minute of authentic sharing Amber Fox poured into these pages.  Her words were a breath of fresh air blowing across the spectrum of juggling homeschooling AND the art of Housewifery.  She approaches all aspects of daily life with a Biblical perspective and left me encouraged to keep plugging ahead, knowing those bad days are normal and hopefulness really does go a long way.

I sampled Prime Unlimited on my reader this year.  "The Homeschooling Highway" was a perk I enjoyed during my free trial.  Amy's book is a quick and easy read encouraging homeschool moms with tips and tricks of the trade.  I will admit, much of her advice was old news to my seasoned experience... but it was a blessed confirmation to hear another mom with the same heart.  I recommend this book most especially for new and newish homeschool families.

I finally read ALL of Screwtape Letters.  LOVED IT.  I had assigned it to the kids during a C.S. Lewis unit we did in conjunction with our World War II studies.  We know, from the Apostle Paul, that the life we live has spiritual battles happening in the unseen.  Lewis did a fabulous job of looking at this unseen fight for man's soul.  Timeless.

Also on our homeschooling reading list during our World War II unit was this eye-opening true account paralleling a young Jewish woman and German boy as the events of Hitler's Nazi regime unfolded across their lives in Europe.  We were going to read the typical Anne Frank, which I had found utterly moving years ago.  However, I wanted Brenden to be able to read about a BOY during this period and this book satisfied both him and Brooke on identifiable perspectives.  In the end, I found I prefer this story over Anne's!  Not to diminish her sad account, but because of the rounded perspective it provides.

As we moved out of World War II and into the communist era, the kids and I each read about Brother Andrew.  I found his story inspirational because he went from falling so far away from the Lord to risking his life in absolutely radical faith moves which I felt reflected what true relationship with Christ should look like! 

I had yet to read any Orwell but as we wrapped up the school year and Brenden prepared to graduate, I felt it imperative to be exposed to the concepts in Animal Farm.  Zach had read 1984 in public school and Ashley read Animal Farm for me in her Homeschool senior year (though I didn't read it with her then!), I figured it was time.  We all LOVED it, though the satire of socialism/communism was quite sad, it was also inspirational, reminding us to stand up for our freedom, be educated and stand firm by truth... even if you end up as glue.

Having NOTHING to do with homeschool, I decided to read something a bit fun and lighthearted this summer!  I love Juvenile fiction and the subtitle on "The Penderwicks" seemed enchanting.  I liked the book and can see why it won awards, however, I am glad I didn't require my kids to read it.  I expected it to be reminiscent of books like "The Boxcar Children" but instead I was surprised to read of more mature issues like crushing on a boy too old for a pre-teen girl and the lengths which she would go to calculate encounters with him.  If you read this with youngsters, be prepared to discuss this area.

I actually started this one in 2017 but I finally finished it in 2018!  I read Anne at bedtime on my reader.  I was never exposed to her as a child but I am grateful to be enjoying her adventures as an adult.  I love Anne's carefree and imaginative spirit.  She reminds me of myself when I was younger!

I even started AND finished book 3!  With Anne maturing in this installment, I found it to be much more suspenseful and lost much sleep reading onto next chapters to find out what would happen next!!  I am now slowly trotting through book 4, hopefully I can report that as a completed read in 2019!

And that is it!!  Or at least that is what I can remember! My brain feels full and I have loved these literary adventures in 2018, I look forward to what great books God has in store for 2019!

What did you read in 2018?  Any big favorites or recommendations? 

Have a blessed rest of the Christmas Season and a joyous New Year ringing-in!


This has been a Five Minute Friday Post in conjunction with Kate at Heading Home where bloggers are sharing the books they read in 2018.  Hop over for more great reading ideas and/or to share your own!

For 5 Minute Friday posts, where writers tap away for 5 minutes, un-edited, on a predetermined topic, check out the link below:


  1. You have a great list of books. I don't think I have read any except The Screwtape Letters.