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I read some fantastic books in 2015. Really, really good. So grateful for the brave, faithful writers out there who sit down and put in the work for our benefit.

My goal was to read a book a month, and I rounded out the year with a grand total of 16 books. Not many compared to some, but I’m satisfied.

Here are the books I read in 2015:

 

Three nonfiction covers 2

 

Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia Newbell {Review & Video Author Interview}

Such a helpful, biblical resource for all who battle with various fears, anxieties, and insecurities.

Until We All Come Home by Kim de Blecourt {Review}

A page-turning, suspenseful account of one family’s harrowing journey to adopt from Ukraine.

Dragons and Dirt: The Truth About Changing the World – and the Courage it Requires by Dalene Rayburn {Review}

One of my favorite books I read this year. So much wisdom and food for thought on a wide range of topics and issues. A short read, but full of gems.

 

Three more nonfiction titles

 

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

This is the first Jen Hatmaker book I’ve read. There are a few chapters I wish I could mass produce and distribute all over the country. I didn’t write a review, but my friend Bronwyn wrote a good one here.

Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are by Deidra Riggs {Review & Video Author Interview}

Inspiring and motivating. That’s how I would describe this debut book by Deidra Riggs.

Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You through Life’s Transitions by Kristen Strong {Review}

Encouraging words for all who have experienced change.

 

Nonfiction Titles 3

 

Nobody’s Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle {Review}

A funny and heartfelt tribute to friendship among women.

Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie Downs

I underlined copious amounts of this book. So many challenging words; highly recommended.

Dance with Jesus: From Grief to Grace by Susan B. Mead

Susan Mead kindly sent me a copy of this book, and I read the whole thing in one evening. It’s a quick read, but a moving testimony of a mother who has found grace in the midst of grieving the loss of her son.

Fiction: 

Three fiction titles

 

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner {Review}

Beautifully written historical fiction about two sisters during the London Blitz of World War II.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

I adored this debut novel by Katherine Reay. A series of letters written by a Jane Austen-loving journalism student to her anonymous benefactor. Captivating and cleverly written.

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

This latest novel by Susan Meissner releases on January 5th, 2016! I was privileged to read an advance copy of this story set in the Hollywood period when Gone With the Wind was filmed. Review coming soon. Pre-order now by clicking here!

 

On Writing:

Writing book covers

 

On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig

A wonderful resource for writers. I was challenged and guided in my personal writing life, and had such fun leading a six-week online discussion on this book with several other writers. Catch up on the discussion here. I’ll be referring back to this book many times in the years to come.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This book is pure gold. Natalie cuts right to the chase in this no-nonsense, down-to-earth book that will make you want to pick up your pen and write like crazy. She covers all the bases and then some.

 

Christmas: 

Advent devo covers

 

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

Another gorgeous book from Ann Voskamp. This one offers daily Advent readings which carry the reader through biblical history, starting with Adam and Eve. So much spiritual food here; definitely worth reading at any time of the year, not just Christmas.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu

My friend Asheritah wrote this wonderful resource focusing on the names of Jesus. I read it aloud to my kids to start each of our homeschool days in December. Again, this book could be read and benefited from at any time of the year, not only during Advent.

 

 

Still busy reading:

Still reading covers

 

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough by Kristen Welch

Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose by Emily Wierenga

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

 

Related Post: My Top 14 Books of 2014

What are you reading now? What do you hope to read in 2016?

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

 

It’s your turn! I’d love to see what you read this past year. Either share a direct link to a blog post using the InLinkz button, or type your list of titles into the comments below!

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I wrote and scheduled the following post before hearing about the horrific church shooting in Charleston. My chest hurts just thinking about it. 

The prompt I chose several days ago seems timely and applicable. If we’re honest, we fear for the future of our nation. We fear for our churches, our families, our friends.

Yet, if we learn one thing from this tragedy, let us learn this:

“… there are no safe sanctuaries in a fallen world. We are only safe in Christ.” 

~ Peter Beck, The Gospel Coalition

May we tuck ourselves in Him as the only true refuge, and may our fears of this world transform into a reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord.

With that, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

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The Five Minute Friday Retreat keeps getting better and better!

I’m thrilled to announce that Trillia Newbell will be joining us for the Saturday morning devotional session at the retreat!!

 

trillia-home2-620x360Trillia is the author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She is currently Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Along with writing, she is pursuing her M.A. in biblical counseling from Southern Theological Seminary. For fun, she enjoys group fitness (she used to be a fitness instructor!), cycling, and listening to a variety of music. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, they reside with their two children near Nashville, TN. You can find her at trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter at @trillianewbell.

Also, I’m so excited to be able to offer a giveaway copy of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves to one winner, compliments of Moody Publishers!

Click here to watch a video interview with Trillia, read a review of her book, and enter the giveaway!

 

 

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to attend the retreat, let this news persuade you!

For more information including a schedule of events and ticket information, click here.

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In this week’s FMF Video Intro, Asheritah from OneThingAlone.com interviews Melinda Hollis — one of the fabulous ladies registered for the FMF Retreat!

I love the focus of Melinda’s blog: Grateful Everyday. Isn’t that a great goal?

Check out these words of encouragement from Melinda, then stop by her blog and follow her on Twitter @mghollis38!

 

 

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

fear

 

GO.

This one goes out to the worriers. The anxious ones. To all who battle fears big and small, day after day. To the ones who feel their hearts pound hard inside, beating against their rib cages. The ones who toss and turn at night, unable to quiet the voices inside their heads.

This one is for the bloggers who take a deep breath before clicking publish, and check stats five times a day. It’s for the ones who edit and delete and talk themselves into erasing the whole thing altogether because it’s just not worth it.

 

The sweet cure for our fear of failure

 

It’s for the parents who clasp their kids’ hands when they cross the street and gasp more often than not when cars reverse in the parking lot. It’s for the ones who wait late into the night for the thermometer to beep, then wipe foreheads until the fevers break.

For all of you, I have these words. Cling to them. Let them raise you up like a life jacket. Rest in the hold of their promises.

“Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” ~ Psalm 55:22

 

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He

 

 

STOP.

 

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway by clicking here

Share your own five minutes of free writing on FEAR by adding your link below:

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My arms shook as I lifted them to the clothesline, attempting to hang wet laundry out to dry.

I could hear my heart beating in my chest as my eyes darted left and right.

I was convinced someone was going to jump over the wall into our rental property.

Just like the day before.

My eyes kept going back to the wall where the burglar had crouched the previous morning, after he smashed the window next to our back door.

Broken glass was still scattered on the ground.

My pulse would not slow down.

The fear was suffocating.

It tightened in my chest and caught my breath in its grip.

I had watched the same thing happen to a few different friends. They each had post-traumatic fear symptoms that lingered for months after being mugged on the streets of Cape Town.

Fear is a crippling enemy.

It breaks us down with a breath and brings us to our knees.

The question is, what do we do once we’re down there?

In her new book, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, author Trillia Newbell urges readers to turn to God and His Word.

Trillia believes that the Lord is the one who can give us the peace that passes understanding — even in the face of fear.

I agree — not only because the Bible says so, but because I’ve experienced it myself.

Standing outside at my clothesline the morning after our attempted robbery, I knew I had a choice. I could let fear get the best of me … or I could ask God for help.

By His grace and with His help, I chose the latter.

My fears didn’t dissipate instantly. My pulse didn’t immediately slow to a regular rhythm.

But He helped me stay out there in my backyard when I was tempted to go back in the house. He helped me sleep at night when the glass was still broken and the wind howled through the house.

He stilled the raging storm for His disciples, and 2,000 years later, He stilled my fearful heart.

 

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Trillia Newbell, author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart CravesI received a review copy of this book from Moody Publishers, and it was such a delight to meet Trillia via video.

Click the video below to be encouraged by Trillia’s words of wisdom and vibrant personality. You’ll see that she is a woman who loves God and His Word.

 

 

 

As I mention in the interview, one thing that pleasantly surprised me about this book was the broad coverage of the topic of fear.

Before I started reading, I anticipated the pages to address issues such as a fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of sickness, etc. What I didn’t expect was to find a whole section on the fear of man.

Trillia’s dealings with the fear of man were some of my favorite parts of the book.

She admits her own struggle with this common temptation to care too much about what other people think: “I loved the praise of people and hated the idea of doing wrong.”

She hits the nail on the head when addressing current trends: “Social media has a way of pulling out the fear of man. We check to see who has ‘liked’ our post or picture, fearing what we write, hoping to be noticed.” Does that sound familiar?

These lines hit me right between the eyes:

“Tragically, you and I deny Christ every time we care more about what others think of us than of what God has already declared. Every time we seek man’s approval and praise, we say to the Lord that His sacrifice was not enough.”

 

The sweet cure for our fear of failure

 

Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves is full of biblical encouragement: “The sweet cure for our fear of failure is the gospel, which reminds us of our limitations and weakness and our need for a Savior…. All our imperfections are perfect in the sight of God because of Jesus.”

Trillia concludes with a chapter entitled, “Growing in the Fear of the Lord.” This is the answer to overcoming earthly fears — to possess a reverent fear of the Lord.’

 

God began  the work   in you, and He

 

I especially appreciated Trillia’s emphasis on God’s work and His grace. Referring to Philippians 1:6, Trillia writes:

“The Christian is not left to grow on her own. God began the work in you, and He will finish it. He will teach you to fear Him. The work of growing in the Lord will culminate in a complete, joy-filled, perfect fear of the Lord on the day you see Jesus. You can and should actively seek this growth, by the grace of God, knowing that nothing you do will earn your righteous standing before the Lord.”

Amen.

 

No matter what fears you fight against — whether it’s the fear of a burglar breaking into your house or the fear of other people’s opinions, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves is a helpful, biblical resource. It is full of rich, gospel content and points readers to the One who has overcome the world and all its fears.

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trillia-home2-620x360Trillia Newbell is the author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). Her writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, Christianity Today, Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She is currently Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Along with writing, she is pursuing her M.A. in biblical counseling from Southern Theological Seminary. For fun, she enjoys group fitness (she used to be a fitness instructor!), cycling, and listening to a variety of music. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, they reside with their two children near Nashville, TN. You can find her at trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter at @trillianewbell.

 

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Related articles: Living in Fear and How to Defeat Fear through Faith

 

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