My April Books for You

"Hand in hand we come, Christopher Robin and I
To lay this book in your lap.
Say you're surprised?
Say you like it?
Say its just what you wanted?
Because its yours -
Because we love you."

Winnie the Pooh

If you know me even in the slightest, you know I have a crazy love for books, for the way a word rests or wrestles or shines on the page. All of that magic finds it's way into my heart. That is why to share a book with you is to triple the love, to braid it with at least three strands: the writer's life, my own life and now yours.

When I read to the Wonders, those two beautiful children that made me Jojo, that kind of braiding is in full swing. They back their little diaper-clad bottoms right into the spot made by criss-cross applesauce. I peer over their shoulders reading to their little hearts and minds. Reading together is one of the rare moments when their wiggly bodies settle and still. New worlds open up within my circling arms, and because we are in the season of point and name, beneath their pudgy little fingers.

I have added my trademark stars, squiggles and underlines to the books I read this month. Now I share them with you in love.

Different by Sally & Nathan Clarkson

Different is the story of an out-of-the-box kid and the mama who loved him and loved him well. It is told alternating between Sally and Nathan's voices. This book resonated with me for raising an out-of-the-box child, but also for the resolute way Sally saw Nathan. She saw his inherent value and design, both God-given and very specific, even when that design was difficult for their family. She realized it through super heroes and Bible characters.

Even before I closed the book, I was thinking about what Biblical character each of my children, and now grandchildren, might resemble and draw strength from. Some were easy, others I am still thinking on. For all of them, I am looking for opportunities to affirm what I discover.

As a side note, we did this recently with the show Parks & Rec (chose who we each were from the cast) and laughed our heads off.

Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson

As I admitted in my last post, I am a complete fan girl when it comes to Eugene Peterson. First, he is the translator of the Message Bible. Second, he adores the Psalms and third, he keeps true to God's character over any cultural theological trends, a rare find.

Run with the Horses is about the life and leadership of Jeremiah with reflections on culture, both Jeremiah's and our own. Often Old Testament prophets are difficult to relate to, what with forgetting to wear actual clothes and eating insects, but Eugene helps bring us his perspective and humanity without smoothing out all of Jeremiah's quirkiness or the somber times he spoke in.

I trust his writing because I sense that Eugene writes from a deep listening place, a stable, standing-on-the-Rock place. He is not writing from a trendy, gotta-wow-my-readers place. The funny thing is his writing felt current even though it is more than twenty years old. Timeless.

*Run with the Horses" was new to me, but another one is my longtime favorite. I return year after year to A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. That's a classic for any good library.

The Lucky Few by Heather Avis

In The Lucky Few, Heather tells of her road to adoption. She and her husband set out to adopt a healthy child from a private agency but wind up choosing a family of beautiful children with big needs.

What I loved about Heather's book was the viewpoint her broken heart came to see, that these children who others didn't want or couldn't care for, made her family one of the lucky few. Not only were they lucky to have these children in their family, but she believes God's design even includes that extra chromosome. It is not a mistake or a broken child.

My friend Jenni taught me that with her own short life and rainbow children. While I was busy praying for perfectly healthy and whole children, she and her husband were happily adopting ones outside of that box on purpose. I am forever grateful for her tenacious whirlwind personality and kingdom heart. Boy, do I miss her.

I needed the challenge to my thinking and refinement of heart brought by her friendship. I needed it more than I ever knew. I still do, so thank you Jenni and now Heather.

You can also follow Heather on Instagram
@macymakesmyday and see her beautiful children.

The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I love taking personality tests and leadership or learning style quizzes. I find they help me know myself and how my wiring works with others whether in my marriage, mamahood, friendships or on leadership teams. But I have never surveyed my Happiness style.

In The Happiness Dare Jennifer reframes happiness not as something shallow, but as how we are designed by God to interact in the world. In her book you can take a quick assessment of what naturally brings you simple joy and might explain your weaknesses if taken too far. According to Jennifer, there are five happiness styles: Relator, Experiencer, Doer, Giver or Thinker.

Turns out I am a Thinker followed quickly by being a Doer.

Why does knowing my happiness style matter?

Besides marveling at how intricate God's designs are, I can better understand the differences in my friends and family and how we might all work best together. Seeing how others are wired might help you understand things that previously baffled you in your relationships, such as how you (or they) approach projects, problem solving, weekends or even vacation time.

Now I can see the roots of my frustration when my natural paths are blocked as when I'm too busy and don't get space or time to gather my thoughts. As a Thinker, I am not being antisocial when I want to be alone with my thoughts and listen to God. I am getting ready in my God-given quirky way to meet my people and the world with God's love.

Also as a Doer, making and marking off my to-do list brings me joy because I am implementing all that I began the day thinking about with kingdom-mindedness. Aha!

The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Glad

The Magic of Motherhood is a compilation of stories about motherhood from a variety of writers, all contributors to Coffee + Crumbs: honest stories about motherhood, love and the good kind of heartache.

Each short chapter is from a different contributing author accompanied by a beautiful photo. The format made it easy to read in little chunks of time, though I could not wait to get to the next story. Each was full of some specific way becoming a mama was refining, humbling and magical. We are never the same before mamahood as after and it is good to reflect on all the ways.

The unifying voice was of one of authenticity and the sisterhood among mamas, wives and aunties.

These are wholehearted stories of waiting to be a mama, being surprised by a pregnancy, seasons in your marriage, finding mamahood in adoption, getting hard news about your beloved child and all the ways becoming a mama turns our worlds topsy-turvy and makes us stronger after completely wiping us out.

My advice? Run, don't walk to get this for yourself or any mama you need a Mother's Day gift for. It is a beautiful hardback book with gilded lettering and real honest stories inside.

For one sweet moment, I got to join these incredible writers as a guest writer. Pop over there to read my story Aim for the Cherry Tree.

The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

The Memoir Project is one of those books that I kept hearing about as being influential in a writer's life. I guess I never heard any details to prompt me to purchase it, but the more I wrote, the more slices of my life I realized were at the center of my writing. Finally, I sensed it might help me right now rather than one day, so I ordered it.

It is a slim volume, but not at all slight. You will find value and wisdom even if you think your writing is only for yourself in a private journal and only ever will be. By the way, I have long believed that there is nothing "only" about journalling or even note taking. That was affirmed recently when I heard author AJ Swoboda say,

"Note taking is spiritual formation."

Yes and Amen.

Marion is a writing professor with a long list of students at all stages of learning the writing craft. I got to be another student she taught to say what they wanted to say in a deeper, more succinct and engaging way. Among the many things I am taking with me from her book is the power of lists to tell a story.

I started with a simple one from last Friday.

A Friday list for wide smiles.
* a homemade marionberry smoothie * a walk in the Ponderosa pines * bare feet on wooden planks * suntea brewing on the porch * birthday flowers from my friend Marcy in a peanut butter jar

There it is, my April books just for you. I hope you find something new for your nightstand and maybe your life.

If you liked this book review and want more, take a look at My March Books for You.

This list is curated with love and affiliate links so you can add to your library by clicking right from this post.