This past year has been wild. Adopting James has been one of the most crazy, beautiful, broken, and stretching things we’ve ever done. In “Grinch” terms, this year, I believe that my heart has grown at least three sizes! Thinking back to the day when James came to live with us, I am reminded of where he was at that point. Today, I look at where he is, and I’m absolutely amazed. I look at where we were in January as a family, and I look at my family today, and I’m amazed. A year can make a huge difference.
I’m a big goal-maker/planner/contemplative type person, so last week, I looked at my goals for 2014. For a minute, I was sorely disappointed. There was SO much that I didn’t get to cross off that list. But then, I saw “Add a member to our family through adoption,” and I paused. That was something that I got to cross off the list. And even if that was the only thing that I crossed off…that was a big one. Suddenly, instead of disappointment, I felt thankfulness. Thankfulness that God saw fit to take us through this journey, with all its ups and downs. We are all better for it.
So this year, I’m trying something different with my goals. Instead of a long list of goals, I’m giving myself permission to simply rest after a hard, trying year. My goal this year is to set aside time on a regular basis to fill up before I pour out again. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with and truly, just recently found value in.
One of my favorite things to do to rest and refill is reading. I LOVE to read. So, in lieu of my traditional goals list, I decided to share with you my top five favorite books of 2015. Here they are. I hope you enjoy!
The Chronicles of Kings Series by Lynn Austin: This is kind of a cheat on my list. It’s not actually one book, it’s a series of FIVE books. And every book is as good, if not better, than the one before. I used to be a fiction snob, but all that has changed thanks to Lynn Austin. I honestly LOVED reading this series, and it’s prompted me to study my way through the book of Isaiah. I highly recommend this series. I’m also starting her series, The Restoration Chronicles. I’ve read the first one, and it’s fantastic! Warning: Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down. I know…I lost a lot of sleep reading through this series!
The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis: This is a MUST-READ if you are an adoptive parent. I could see James so clearly in this book. Books that truly capture the heart of adoption are rare, so I treasure my copy!
Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie: This is my “homeschool read” pick of the year. Every year, I read loads and loads of educational information, but this one stood out amongst them all. I really enjoyed this book, and gained so much wisdom from its pages. This is a must read for homeschooling mamas!
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin: This book literally changed how I think about everything! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Gretchen caused me to look at life and routine completely differently. I’ve applied her principles in many areas of my life.
Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood by Melissa Kruger: This book came at exactly the right time. I needed the words tucked inside these pages. I would highly recommend this to all mamas. (And I’m pretty picky about my parenting books!)
And because I can’t leave out children’s literature, I also wanted to share my favorite kid’s books of the year.
Brother Andrew by Janet & Geoff Benge: We really enjoyed this biographical story of Brother Andrew. Frequently called “God’s Smuggler”, Brother Andrew smuggled thousands of bibles across the Iron Curtain. This was one that challenged our faith and lead to lots of great discussion.
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass: This was truly just a really fun book. We didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. It was a really long read, but the mystery elements kept us guessing. The underlying themes in the book make for great discussion.
The Hundred Dresses: This is a MUST-READ for all children. This is one of those wonderful books that puts the reader in the shoes of someone else. I read this to my girls this year, and plan to read it again to all my kids at some point next year. It’s a great book for boys and girls of all ages.
The Green Ember: Don’t even get me started! Quite possibly my favorite book of the year, overall. This one is a real page turner. My kids beg me for “just one more chapter” every day. I get hoarse reading this book every day, but we absolutely love it. Not only is the story phenomenal, but the themes and the appreciation of the arts and God’s creation is an underlying theme that just jumps out of the page at you! All children need this book in their life.
Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare: I can remember being presented with this book as a child, and thinking…”I DO NOT want to read a BOY book!” But all that changed the minute I read the first chapter. The entire book, from cover to cover, is just wonderful. It was such a pleasure to read it to my boys and see the same look of interest on their faces. It’s one of our favorites of the year.
That’s my list. If you need some good reads, these are my favorites from 2015. Here’s to many, many more pages read in 2016! Happy New Year!