my favorite books of 2012

    2012 might go down as the year where I read the least amount of books (for myself, that is, I’m sure I’ve read hundreds of books to Raeca including The Lorax about 7,853 times). And while I read a mere 18 books this year half that number are on this list. Less books but lots of great ones.

    I’ve listed my favorite from the year in the order that I completed them:

    Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick // A great book on prayer and an excellent reminder that God really does answer our prayers. One of my favorite quotes from the book:

    “I’m not raising my kids to survive the world, I’m raising them to change it” (pg. 32)

    You can read my full review and lots of my favorite quotes from the book here.

    The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson // Another great book on prayer. This is the book that spurred on my media fast back in the spring as well as the thirty day prayer challenge.

    “Over the last year I’ve been repeating one prayer with great urgency: ‘Lord, do something unpredictable and uncontrollable.’ That’s a scary prayer . . . but it doesn’t scare me nearly as much as a life void of holy surprises. And you can’t have it both ways. If you want God to surprise you, you have to give up control. You will lose a measure of predictability but you will begin to see God move in uncontrollable ways!” (pg. 64)

    7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker // I LOVE, LOVE this book. It is mostly written as a journal over the course of 7 months as Jen focuses each month on an area of excess in her life. Her prayer throughout the book was “Jesus, may there be less of me and my stuff and more of You and Your Kingdom.” One month she gives away 7 articles of clothing a day, one month she eats only 7 seven foods . . . the seven areas of excess that she saw in her life were clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media and stress, and quite honestly they are probably the same for each of us. This book really got me when I read this paragraph in the book:

    “The ivory-tower approach to sermonizing just wore me out after 25 years. I developed resistance to sermons because so many had been heard but rarely seen.” (pg. 24)

    If you are ready to be challenged I can’t recommend this book enough. You can also read some of my thoughts on the book here.

    Love Does by Bob Goff // Bob really believes that loves does. The book is all about taking a stand and living a life of action. He tells story after story of adventure, from interviewing and filming world leaders with his children and giving them the keys to their home in case they ever want to visit, to helping to rescue children wrongly imprisoned in Uganda. I’ve got so many favorite sections from this book but I’ll just share a few.

    “Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those ‘we’ll go there next time’ deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no ‘next time’ because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision. They need a change of attitude, not more opportunities.” (pg. xv)

    “I once heard somebody say that God closed a door on an opportunity they had hoped for. But I’ve always wondered if, when we do something that we know is right and good, God places that desire deep in our hearts because He wants it for us and it honors Him. Maybe there are times when we think a door has been closed and, instead of misinterpreting the circumstances, God wants us to kick it down. Or perhaps just sit outside of it long enough until somebody tells us we can come in.” (pg. 44)

    “I used to think I had to be somebody important to accomplish things, but now I know Jesus uses ordinary people more.” (pg. 67)

    The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias // This book opened up my eyes to many social injustices around the world that I wasn’t even aware of and has left a fire inside of me that wants to fight each one of them.

    “It is not a war I disengage from because I do not know what I can win. We have to continue to fight for the individual and against evil and destructive forces -because the cause is always worthy. And once you have stepped in to this world, you can never walk away. Once you have been make aware, you have a responsibility to care.” (pg. 163)

    Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker // I had to read this book after reading 7. Jen alludes to this book a lot in 7, it is the story of how her and her husband left their life living the American dream to plant a church focused on loving Jesus and serving the least of these.

    “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed . . . Doing nothing is blatant sin of omission. Turning a blind eye to the bottom of the grounds of “unworthiness” is the antithesis to Jesus’ entire mission.” (pg. 58)

    “What if we really loved our neighbors and offered a safe place for community in our home, showing them the church instead of inviting them to one.” (pg. 130)

    Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman // We are not to just be fans of Jesus but rather, completely devoted followers.

    “If you say to Jesus, ‘I’ll follow you wherever’ you can be sure that where He points will be out of your comfort zone. ‘Out of your comfort zone’ could be defined this way: ‘the places where saying yes to God means saying no to me.'” (pg 182)

    Real Simplicity by Randy Frazee // When I first got this book I assumed it was about simplifying by getting rid of stuff (aka possessions) but I quickly realized it is about simplifying your life -your schedule. In the book the author gives way to both simplify your schedule while increasing the amount you witness to your community.

    “Jesus moved into your neighborhood when you did. Have you introduced Him yet?” (pg. 208)

    Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker // Notice all the Hatmaker books on this list? Brandon is the husband to Jen and this book is another must read. In it he tells his story of giving up the American dream and planting a church focused on loving Jesus and serving the least of these in the first chapter and then uses the rest of the book to share ways in which they are doing that in their life, church and community.

    “It was clear that Jesus was saying: ‘This is how I want my church to look, a place where love and self-sacrifice are hardwired into the DNA of my people, of solidarity with the poor -a true community rallied around my gospel. I want a church where the altar is not only a place to take communion but also a place to leave your shoes. I want a barefoot church.'” (pg. 21)

    You can also checkout my favorite books from 2011.

    What were your favorite books from the last year? And what’s on your list for 2013?

    with love,


    recent reads

    I have always had a dislike for the back cover of books. I almost always refuse to read the brief summary of the book before I have read at least half of it. Some books have a synopsis so detailed there is almost no point to reading the actual book.

    A lot of the books I read are based off of recommendations from friends, written by authors I like, quoted in books I’ve previously read, or just has a nice cover (yes, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I totally do).

    Lately a lot of the books that I have been reading have fit so well with where I am at in my life. Here are a couple of recent reads I would recommend:

    The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (thanks to Natalie for this recommendation!)

    Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (I wanted to read this one after reading Jen’s book 7)Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman (I saw this one as a recommendation on ChristianBook.com)

     What have you been reading lately?

    with love,


    live intentionally

    If you keep doing what you are doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Maybe it’s time to get out of your rut and find a new path.
    God will help you change direction and accomplish new goals that alight with His will.
    Don’t settle for the mediocrity of an unplanned life,
    start living intentionally.
    -InTouch Ministries magzine

    P.S. Canadians and Americans can get the InTouch magazine for free each month, just fill out this form.


    with love,


    live simply . . .

    I have to admit, I’ve been feeling rather stressed lately. This week we say good bye to our savings account and financial security as I knew it. I’m finding it much harder than expected. We were fortunate to have enough savings to pay for about 1/3 of our adoption and I have lately found my stressing over the other 2/3. Then this  morning I headed over to the Give1Save1 blog, as I often do, and today Beth is trying to get sponsors to provide the basic necessities for kids in Ethiopia. Part of me really wanted to sponsor one of the kids and another part though But we need that money for our adoption. And then I read this quote by Mother Teresa:

    Live simply so others may simply live.

    Meet Eden, our newest sponsor girl (her shirt makes me giggle):

    I know it is easy to make excuses, I’ve always got a bunch: we don’t have enough money, it’s someone else’s turn, we already have three other sponsor children . . . But the reality is: we are so rich. We weren’t given this wealth to be more comfortable, we were given it to give it away.

    Today I want to challenge you to head on over to Give1Save1 and live a little simpler so someone else may simply live.

    with love,


    depraved indifference

    Warning: this video makes me cry every single time I watch it. If you are a movie crier are in a public setting right now maybe wait to watch it. And if you aren’t a crier I still think this video should make you cry.

    As he imagines his son, Hudson, in that situation I try to imagine my daughter, and it just breaks my heart.


    “You see there is a cast system in heaven, but it is exactly backwards of the cast system the world creates, this world applauds and esteems the wealthy and the powerful, the privileged and the talented. That’s not how God’s system works. Jesus came and he approved it, he took the lowest spot and He was God. The bigger you get in the kingdom of heaven, the lower the position you take. The special ones in God’s kingdom are the weak ones: the ones who can’t fight for themselves, the ones who can’t speak for themselves, the ones that don’t have someone to feed them, the ones that don’t have someone to protect them, and Jesus says those are the prized ones and you treat them as the royalty here on Earth. And the way you treat them is ultimately how you’re treating me. What you do unto the least of these is how you’re ultimately treating your God. Christianity is taking what has been purchased by the cross, the behavior of heaven, nature of Jesus Christ, and transplanting into the heart of men and women down here on Earth. So that they behave not like this world, but like heaven. And so when this world sees them, they are different there is something odd about them, they are from another realm. What does it look like? It is noble, it is brave, it’s courageous, it is selfless. It is willing to spend itself for the weak.

    “I was doing some study on Liberia. If you wanna be disturbed, start studying Liberia. This 4 year old boy who was sitting on the side of the road, no one to comfort, no one to take him in, no shelter, no food, nothing. So the middle of that night, I wake up. And it’s like God had already deposited a question that was waiting to meet me when I popped awake in the middle of the night, 2 in the morning. I had this picture of this little boy in Liberia in front of me. And God asked me a question, What if that was Hudson? My four year old. Eric, what if that was Hudson. You don’t mess with a father’s heart. What if that was Hudson? My boy was on the side of a road across the world from me, suffering, totally alone, not knowing what was happening, he’s not old enough to comprehend this, he’s abandoned, he has no one to fight for his cause, no one to give him a voice he doesn’t even know how to articulate his circumstances, he’s hungry- no one’s feeding him, he’s starving to death. If my son is in that situation stick a concrete wall in front of me and I’d claw it through with my bare hands. This is my son we’re talking about. If I couldn’t get there I’d call up every friend I have, and I would say, “I have a son over in Liberia, you call yourself my friend. I need you to get on a plane, and i need you to get to him. I’ll give you the coordinates, I’ll do whatever it takes, but I need you to get to my son and be a Father to him.” God’s response, “Eric, that’s my Hudson. That is MY Hudson.” And He’s looking to us, and he’s saying, “I’m calling up everyone I know, everyone on my list that calls himself by my name that says they’re a friend of God and I’m saying my son is over in Liberia, are you willing to get on the plane and get to him?

    “We have a cause, but we don’t want to see it. And it’s when we finally acknowledge the fact that something is wrong with us. Not with the world out there, if we start with this little group here and we say God you need to fix this. I suffer from depraved indifference. So do you. Oh we care, it’s not that doesn’t move us at some level to hear about this little child over in Liberia. We care. But we can go home tonight and sleep just fine. How is that? It’s because there’s an indifference to that life. And it’s naturally born within us, that life isn’t affecting us, its not in our backyard, were not related to it. It’s someone else’s issue. In fact, we start quoting scriptures about God being a father to the fatherless and we’re like thank you God for being a father to that child. He says, “Remember you call yourself my body, I’m not there except throughyou. Your hands, Eric those are my hands. Your feet, those are my feet. That heart? It’s my heart. If its not beating, my hearts not beating on this earth anymore. I work through my body. I’m a father to the fatherless through my body, I rescue the weak and the vulnerable through you. And if you’re not doing it no one is.”

    “There is a solution for our disease which is known as sin. And it’s Jesus Christ. There is a solution for these dying children. And it’s Jesus Christ. Might sound over simplistic, but that is it. That is the solution. Because Jesus Christ will change a man like Eric Ludy into a man that feels what Jesus Christ is feeling. And he cannot stay in suburbia USA anymore and not do nothing. Heros are made because they are moved, not in their head, but in their heart. You have to be moved at such a level that you will shed blood. Jesus Christ was moved. For God SO loved the world that he GAVE, and that son that was given suffered and died for what? For the cause that is being laid before us tonight. It wasn’t head knowledge, about the disaster taking place in this world, it was life abandonment. Unto the cause of those that are dying, unto the eternal souls that are around us. Do we care at the level God cares? Do we carry a burden? When we go home tonight will we grieve over the fact that those children are God’s children? And he is longing for an advocate to stand up and say, “I’m willing God to fight for what is Yours, I’m willing God, burden me.” When Jesus was in Gethsemane, you know what he was there for? He was there for life. He was burdened with the weight of it all for LIFE. And he was willing to sweat great droplets of blood. Are we? For our King and his glory, we will rescue these little ones.” -Eric Ludy

    with love,



    uganda {church}

    Just a short little video clip that I took with my phone the first Sunday we were in Uganda. I sure do miss the singing.

    with love,


    six months post-surgery

    Raeca had  her six months post-surgery appointment today. I can’t believe it has been that long and yet at the same time I can hardly remember what her head looked like before.

    I took this photo the day before the operation. Her head was so long and narrow.

    The morning after her surgery, she was so swollen.

    And six and a half months after surgery. Her hair is getting thick enough now that most people don’t notice the scar that she has running from ear to ear.

    corrected sagittal craniosynostosis

    If all goes well she will just have one more appointment with the neurosurgeon. Though everything has gone extremely well, I can’t wait to close that chapter in her life.

    Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.
    Deuteronomy 7:9

    with love,


    my favorite books of 2011

    I love to read. As a child I was always getting in trouble for reading because that’s all I would do, I wouldn’t clean my room, or do my homework, or go outside and play, I would just read. Over the years I’ve gotten a little less intense but I still love reading and I read some really great books in 2011. For me a good book is one that a) makes me feel emotion or b) makes me take action, and a really great book does both. Here are some that I recommend:

    Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream by David Platt

    This was my absolute favorite book of the year. It is a life changer. It was this book that made me stop dreaming about going to Africa one day but to actually do it. If you have not read this book yet I can’t recommend it more highly, I like it so much it is going to have it’s own blog post soon.

    Cold Tangerines & Bittersweet both by Shauna Niequist

    I love books where the author can have me laughing and crying along with her, and Shauna did just that. Each chapter are short stories of her life and how she has been able to find the beauty and blessings around her.

    The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson

    I read this book every year and I think it gets better every time. It’s a story about Ordinary who was a Nobody from the Land of Familiar and how he sets out to find his Big Dream. It was while I was reading this book for the first time that I realized what my Big Dream was and then while re-reading it this last year I realized I had forgotten about my Big Dream and now I make sure I am always working towards it.

    Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

    Oh how I cried while reading this book. Katie is such an inspiration, giving up the ideal teenage life and going to live in Uganda working with orphans and ultimately becoming mother to 14 girls. I’m so inspired by this girl that is just a few years younger than me.

    Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo

    An inspiring true story of a five year old that went to heaven for a few minutes. This book has made me look forward to my time there.

    Crazy Love & Forgotten God both by Francis Chan

    I find these books both to be really great, though I did feel like they were lacking on how to take action, which is where I think David Platt did a really good job in Radical. Nonetheless, these are both great reads.

    Out of the 40 books I read in 2011 these 8 were my favorites. For 2012 I am actually planning on reading less books so I have time for actually doing things.

    What were your favorite books from last year? Any books to recommend for 2012?

    with love,

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