Jillian's Top 5 Most Influential Books of 2015

My new favorite thing is to listen, to books, to people, to God. This season is about listening. But its also about response and action. I would love to use this blog to process  that response with you all. Jamie Ivey always says "Readers are Leaders." I really believe in that. God has been softening my heart to rebuild it again, and the voices I seek out in these books have a role in that reshaping. In this season of  life, I've been devouring books. I don't sit and read much, however, but I have been listening. I listen to books ALL THE TIME.  I play them on my phone when I'm driving, working out, or doing chores around the house. With physical books, it takes me forever to get through them because I am constantly moving. 

Audible.com has become my new best friend. Tim and I share an account with my Dad, so sometimes it works out that we buy books that interest each other and benefit from building our audible library together. We do the same thing with Amazon for our kindle library, but lately I've been all about the audio. Click the link for a free thirty day trial!

To start my book reviews, I want to share the most influential books I "read" in 2015. Each title is non-fiction, written by a stellar Titus 2 leader who remolded my Oatmeal Heart in 2015!

1. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkheurst. BEST book on decision making and people pleasing I've ever read. I listened to this book twice driving to and from work after my maternity leave ended. I was sifting through the grueling process of deciding whether or not to quit my day job and stay home with Titus. It not only helped with that BIG decision, but has helped me with several small ones since. I've learned to say small "nos" so I can say the life giving big YESES! I've learned to trust that God has given me the discernment to decide the right answer and chase a decision and its potential consequences down. I've learned that not all decisions have to be so emotional. Just yes or no. Whether or not you are making a big decision, pick up this book ASAP.

2. Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast Moving World by Emily P. Freeman. One of the phrases that stuck with me from this book was to "stop trying to build a life and start embracing the life God is building within you." I love the metaphor of the "Tuesday life" and slow down to see our every day moments as the most extraordinary acts of worship, the places God is speaking to you in this very moment. This book made me embrace my little tiny corner of the world God gave me, inspired me to love my people better in the every day, and understand that I could really rest my soul on the inside when the outside world's pace is not so restful. I can be moving fast with a soul at rest.

3. Love Does by Bob Goff. This book made me fall in love with Jesus again. It shares radical love stories inspired by the love of Christ. God's love is a whimsical, extravagant love, and we can love in whimsical and extravagant ways. My favorite phrase from the book is "That's just was LOVE DOES." What does love just do when left alone to do what it does best? Your answer to that question could be the greatest tool you have in loving your neighbor. For me, love just does the dishes, watches your kids so you can write for an hour, sends flowers for no reason, invites people over for chicken pot pie. Love reads bedtime stories, changes the oil in the car, and drives across the country with an infant to go to your wedding. Love acts. Love shows. Love does.

4. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. Like Simply Tuesday, this book helped me to see God in my everyday. Ann shares her journey of "Eucharisteo," giving thanks. Ann writes prose like a fiction writer. When you read her words, you are present with her, in her farmhouse, at the hospital, in her truck. She pulls you in the moment where she pauses to record her thankfulness to God 1000+ times. My favorite moment describes a scene of her children arguing with one another, breaking a piece of china in process. She starts to yell at her kids as well all do, but then bend her knee right there in that mess to thank God. She holds out her hands to her children and invites them to do the same, and by doing so, she also invites the reader as well to Eucharisteo!

5. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. This book makes me long to be 40 and not care so much. Jen balances humor in this God life with the tough stuff of this God life. I remember being challenged on my view of short term mission trips, laughing through her spin on Jimmy Fallon's thank you notes, and being freed by her admission that she doesn't "do it all." Her supper club also inspired my friends to create our own, now affectionately know as "The Gem City Supper Club," which you betcha will be described on another post. For now you can know that we meet to eat, talk about deep theological things, our love of Dayton, or our kid's swim lessons, and generally keep each other sane.

If you decide to read one of these titles or have already read one, share with me! What did you like or hate about them? What sticks with you? What makes your heart oatmeal?