Brené Brown on “Rising Strong” (a review at TGC)

Dear readers, I am thrilled to share with you my official review of Brené Brown’s latest book over at The Gospel Coalition Blog. You who have been following me for awhile know that I’ve been tracking Brown’s work for a few years now. You who are new may find it interesting to read these posts about my early encounters with her material and ideas:

As always, you honor me by your presence here. Thank you for stopping by.


Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution is the third in the list of popular books written by shame-researcher Brené Brown, the University of Houston professor whose TED talks on vulnerability and shame went viral and have propelled her into the national spotlight. Rising Strong follows Daring Greatly(2012) and The Gifts of Imperfection (2010). I’m a self-professed Brown fan who’s been influenced and inspired by her work in my own thoughts about shame, which will be published as Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame (Crossway, June 2016).

As a church-based biblical counselor with more than nine years of counseling experience and a master of arts in biblical counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary/CCEF, I would like to speak into both what’s good and what’s misleading about Brown’s book. To be clear where I’m coming from, I’m speaking as one who loves biblical theology and has been changed by the gospel of grace that sets me free from my self-righteous striving. Galatians 2:20–21 is my life verse as a recovering self-righteous Pharisee who can too easily trust in her own works.

Pitfalls to Sidestep

In reading Rising Strong, it seems the most obvious pitfall could be outright dismissal by the Christian community and particularly church leaders because of its raw language and failure to speak explicitly about Jesus. Brown cusses throughout the book, and does so unapologetically. This may well be a stumbling block for many readers. However, if you’re able to move past that problem, there is much here for us to learn. Much of her material maps onto a gospel-grace framework—if only Brown would follow the trajectory to its conclusion. She gives words to and speaks boldly about vulnerability (which 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 calls “strength” through boasting in weakness); about the value of owning our failures (instead of hiding them) and then learning from them; and about the importance of examining the default stories we tell ourselves when we experience failure and shame.

[To read the rest of my review at The Gospel Coalition Blog, click here.]

summer book report, a trio of “ordinary” books, part 2

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image from

Following up from part 1 of my summer book report of “ordinary” books comes part 2 with a review of Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. I had to review it on a Tuesday. It was released on a Tuesday, and the premise of the book is that Tuesday is the most ordinary of days. It’s not the beginning of the week like Monday is, nor the happy weekend or almost-weekend days of Thursday through Sunday, nor is it celebrated as the half-way-through-the-week that Wednesday is. Tuesday is just simply Tuesday. And these are the type of moments and living that Emily writes about as where life happens which we too often overlook in our everyday hustle and bustle. Her ideas of this book are imaged by “bench living,” taking a moment to stop and sit and observe, sometimes solo and other times beside someone sitting next to us on the bench. Emily introduces her thesis this way:

I’m paying attention to the small ways that Jesus — and his kingdom — shows up in the daily ordinary, in the actual places where I live. When I think of where to find “the kingdom of God in our midst,” Tuesday comes to mind. This is the day of the week housing the regular, the ordinary, the plain, and the small. … What if we stopped asking God for big ways to serve him and started walking with our friend Jesus into the next simple moment in front of us?

Ouch. This really gets me. I want the next big moment or milestone for my kids, and I want the next big thing for me or our church or for our family. I can’t wait for my first book to release (next June 2016), or to be on a panel at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference next summer. Surely, these will be the big moments God will show up to me and through me. And while I hope and pray so, I also want to be someone who notices God showing up in the ordinary days, moments, and conversations between now and then.

I’ve never been good at that. Just ask my parents what it was like the week after I got home from a church youth retreat. I had experienced a spiritual highpoint, where God met me in new ways, but I struggled to put truth into action through loving my family in the day-in and day-out. As I write this, I wonder how much has changed.

I need Emily’s book and more books like hers which highlight the life-changing power of our daily moments, and the reality of God’s presence here, too. Her book talks about the gift of smallness, that home is what happens as we’re waiting for the next big thing,the importance of releasing outcomes to God, the problem of success and envy, how to lean into our limitations instead of resist them, relationships where we seek to know and be known rather to impress, and letting my soul speak its truth. Simply Tuesday is the third of her books I’ve read, and like the other two, Grace for the Good Girl, and A Million Little WaysI come away feeling like I’ve walked a journey with a friend who speaks the words I couldn’t quite articulate myself. As she is honest with her heart and God’s presence in her ordinary moments of life, I find myself drawn to follow her down this path.

A few of my favorite quotes:

Until we begin to be honest about how these small interactions are shaping and forming us into either the ways of our earthly kingdoms or the ways of the eternal kingdom, we won’t know how to move into the brokenness of the world simply because we haven’t let Christ move into the brokenness of our own souls. (153)

Fear pushes both ways, you see — keeps you from doing things you might want to do and convinces you that you have to do things you don’t want to do. (208)

On the benches of community, I’m learning what it means to be honest and mature with myself first and then in the presence of others. I’m learning that I won’t move perfectly, but that must not keep me from moving at all. And my movement needs to be focused on building benches of connection rather than building walls of protection. If I’m competing with you I cannot connect with you. (211)

When we sit, we let what is be, we remember to release outcomes or at least finally admit how tightly we are clinging to them. When we sit, we let ourselves be human. (230)

If you haven’t bought this book yet, don’t wait! I’d love for you to share with me what you’re learning, and I’m sure that Emily would be even more honored.


One disclaimer: I received an advance reader’s copy of this book in order to help promote her book upon its release. I’m a few weeks late since it released three weeks ago but better late than never, right?!

Top 14 books of 2014, part 2

This is part two of my countdown to 2015 in book list form. Read part one here (#s 14-8), and then follow along below for #s 1-7. Happy reading! Slide2

#7 The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom (2001) This book is quite simply a gift to therapists, counselors, psychologists, and all other helping professionals. Yalom draws on his vast experience, using stories and honest sharing to pass along what he’s learned to “a new generation of therapists.” His conversational tone makes it feel like you’re talking with an old friend, or better yet, a mentor who’s been there and will guide you in your practice of caring and counseling. 

#6 In Our Lives First by Diane Langberg (2013) Langberg is a professional long-distance mentor for me. Her work on helping victims of abuse and trauma has been formative for me as a counselor, and I’ve had the privilege to hear her speak a few times. She is a Christian psychologist in Philadelphia, and this book is a 6-week daily devotional written for helping professionals. It can be too easy to get lost in the problems of those I’m helping and neglect my own life and heart. Her words here called me back, with paragraphs like this one: 

Do we really believe we can lead another to freedom from bondage when we are enslaved to something ourselves? … How can we cultivate purity, holiness, patience, endurance, and self-control in the lives of those God brings to us when such things are not truly present in the recesses of our lives? .. We must be what we would have those who follow us become. … wherever you need to go, I must be willing to go first in my own life. If I do not, though I may bring skills and techniques that may be helpful, I will not bring them infused with the life of God.

The governance of our lives is not to be compassion, but rather the God who is compassionate. The difference is profound.

#5 Made for More by Hannah Anderson (2014) As my September book of the month, you’ve heard me rave about this book before. Her subtitle says it all: “an invitation to live in God’s image,” and her book delivers just that. I found on every page a call to reexamine what it means personally and relationally that we as humans are made to image God. To literally be a reflection of the divine. She takes what’s a basic theological truth and states it in new ways. 

…we are by nature image bearers. So when we turn from God, when we refuse to base our identity in Him, we are compelled to find it somewhere else because we must reflect something. … And as we image this false god, our very personhood crystallizes around it. … When we center our identity on these ‘lesser glories,’ we become defined by them, and we end up defining reality by them as well.

The paradox of personal identity is that once we accept that we are not what we should be, we are finally in a place to be made what we could be. … Once we admit the inadequacy of our lives, we are finally able to discover the sufficiency of His. And this is what Christ offers us. He offers us His identity; He offers us Himself. When we are joined to Him, when our lives are ‘hidden with Christ in God,’ we can finally die to our old selves because as His image bearers, we become whatever He is.

#4 Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung (2013) I picked up this book at the perfect time: in May of this year after an extremely season of being too busy. It is short, practical, and convicting. Full of zingers written not from “above” (meaning the place of “here’s my wisdom for all of you down there who struggle with overcommitment and lack of margin in your life”) – but right alongside. I found his honesty refreshing, and his insights convicting. For example, his one sentence diagnosis of the problem of our busy lives:

We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.

Not until they’re absent, that is. DeYoung speaks to this:

Most of us fall into a predictable pattern. We start to get overwhelmed by one or two big projects. Then we feel crushed by the daily grind. Then we despair of ever feeling at peace again and swear that something has to change. Then two weeks later life is more bearable, and we forget about our oath until the cycle starts all over again. What we don’t realize is that all the while we’ve been a joyless wretch, snapping like a turtle and as personally engaging as a cat. When busyness goes after joy, it goes after everyone’s joy.

He discusses the question of why with seven diagnoses, and presents  the quest to let go of “crazy busy” as a community pursuit. If you want 2015 to be less busy than 2014, I cannot recommend this book highly enough for you.

#3 Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne (2009) Close on the heels of “Crazy Busy” is this book on the value of simplicity in parenting. I wrote more about it here in a post on “white space, children’s edition.” In our more, more, more! culture, we need to read more about the power of less. This book provides a good, do-able starting point for that journey. It has already shaped what I’m doing with my girls’ toys (purging and storing more of them); how we are rethinking our schedules moving into 2015; and helped me to re-focus on what’s most important to me in this unique, short season of parenting young twins. 

Having done the hard work of simplifying, you’ll see when ‘must-have’ things or activities are really just new variations of ‘More!’, bound to be quickly forgotten or discarded. … Rescue their childhood from stress, and they will inevitably, remarkably, day by day, rescue you right back.

#2 A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman (2013) Freeman continues to be a favorite author and blogger (see last year’s list – a previous book of hers was #1 for me in 2013), and this book was no different. She invites me to see myself as God’s poem – his artwork – and a fellow artist along with him in my world, whether my “medium” is setting the table, cleaning up preschoolers’ messes, counseling, writing, etc. All of us are artists, and our art will be expressed in “a million little ways.” 

Christ is in you and wants to come out through you in a million little ways – through your strength and also your weakness, your abilities and also your lack. … God calls us his poem. And the job of the poem is to inspire. To sing. To express the full spectrum of the human experience – both the bright hope that comes with victory and the profound loss that accompanies defeat. We must make art, even in our weakness.

Her teaching shaped and inspired my series that will be ongoing of “embracing imperfection.” Her 4-week art course based on this book is amazing, too, and available for free here

#1 Teach Us To Want by Jen Pollock Michel (2014) Desire and the life of faith – how often I’ve wanted a book that addressed this without minimizing the power of desire or God’s power to shape our desires. Enter this amazing book that is in my #1 place for 2014. She uses the Lord’s Prayer as a guide to discuss various aspects of, “longing, ambition, and the life of faith.” She does not shirk the hard, difficult parts of desire and faith, talking openly about her own struggles in her marriage and church, and her attempt to make sense of difficult tragedies in her life. She’s a brilliant writer, and I look forward to many more books from her in the future. I’ll end this incredibly long post (thanks for sticking with me!) with a few of the MANY underlined portions of my copy of this book:

Here is how desire becomes corrupt: wanting derails into selfishness, greed and demanding ingratitude when we’ve failed to recognize and receive the good that God has already given. Trust is at the center of holy desire: trust that God is good and wills good for his people.

And though it would seem that the forces of evil desire are strong, the Lord’s Prayer is one force of resistance: these words are the arms we bear, this prayer is ground we stand when the lure of east [of Eden] feels almost irresistible.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Unlike a prayer of moral resolution, this is our white flag of moral surrender. We face our depravity, even in the face of our desires — and we embrace the good news of first-century miracle. Jesus has exchanged death for life, love for indifference, sacrifice for selfishness, innocence for guilt, and looking back at the moment of historic exchange and his faithfulness, we learn to pray, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. To this prayer, Jesus joins his own faithful intercession: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they want. 

Our desires say something about us — who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.

*note: some affiliate links included (for the books – if you click on them and order them through Amazon, I’ll get a very, very small percentage of your order from Amazon)

my favorite 14 books read in 2014, part 1

I tried to pick out 10. I really did. Ten is such a beautifully poetic number … but I just couldn’t narrow it down. And so I offer to you my top 14 books of 2014, in countdown order (as is appropriate for New Year’s Eve). The first seven are featured today, and part two will follow tomorrow.

Slide1#14 A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (2009) Reading her book of memoir/recipes made me nostalgic for family meals of childhood and newly resolved to offer similar meal-time rich memories for my family. Good writing, and recipes that made me want to get back into the kitchen (and typically I don’t enjoy cooking). Her chocolate cake recipe is amazing. Truly.  

#13 Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker (2014) She writes with beauty and refreshing honesty about her experience of motherhood and the grief of losing her own mother. It’s full of pithy truths about motherhood that you’ll underline and star and want to share on Instagram and Twitter. Like the following:  

It’s a relief to know that motherhood is hard. This is the gift girlfriends can give one another – the 2 a.m. truth about parenting.

Becoming a parent is a lot like breaking up with yourself. … Children arrive and blow through what used to be your routine. It takes courage to say no to yourself and yes to someone else.

Motherhood is a sacred marriage of the mundane and the eternal.

#12 The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2002) I am late to the Gladwell game, and I found this book of cultural commentary intriguing. He explores what causes a trend to pass the “tipping point” into mainstream, and his findings will surprise you. You’ll learn about the importance of “mavens,” the real reasons crime dramatically decreased in New York City, and what helps marketing to “stick.” 

#11 The Andrew Poems by Shelly Wagner (1994) Shelly is a dear friend and writing mentor for me, and I have the privilege of attending church with her. This collection of poems written after the drowning death of her 5-year-old son are heart-wrenching, therapeutic, and exquisitely beautiful – all at the same time. She gave words to what I was feeling as we communally grieved two tragic deaths of a mother and daughter this summer. 

#10 The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller (2012) This short booklet packed a powerful punch, mainly to my pride, defined as: 

Spiritual pride is the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning without God.

Yet true to Keller’s style, the conviction comes right alongside the hope of grace found in Jesus. We can’t save ourselves, and God has saved us in Jesus Christ.

In Christianity, the verdict [of being justified and loved entirely] leads to performance. It is not the performance that leads to the verdict. In Christianity, the moment we believe, God says ‘This is my beloved son [or daughter] in whom I am well pleased. … In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family.

#9 The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013) My husband and I are huge Harry Potter fans, and so of course we had to also try Rowling’s books written for adults. Her first, The Casual Vacancy (2012), was a huge disappointment, but I loved this one. I saw that the next one in this mystery series, The Silkworm, came out a few months ago, and it will be on my 2015 reading list. 

#8 Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker (2010) A 40-day devotional on motherhood and grace that I cannot highly recommend enough to all my mom friends out there. She is witty, realistic, and calls us to savor God’s merciful love for us as moms in the midst of our experience of loving (and struggling to love) our children. Enjoy these gems – 

on discipline: Disciplining toddlers and preschoolers is like every mother’s personal, daily Armageddon. When we held our innocent babies, who knew we’d encounter a will of iron just fifteen months later? Who knew that they would dig their heels in and die on every hill? No one told us we’d put our children in time-out thirteen times in one day for the same offense. The obstinacy of a two-year-old can make a grown woman weep. [Can I get an Amen?]

on the problem with perfectionism: As mothers, many of us love our children exactly like we ‘love’ ourselves: critically. The standard of perfection by which we measure our own performance is automatically used on our kids.

on God’s love for us: The adoration you feel when you watch your sleeping cherubs? God has it for you. Your pleasure at fulfilling one of their little dreams? Jesus shares that feeling for you. Your bursting heart when your kids laugh? God feels the same way about your joy.

Part two will be here tomorrow – check back then. And happy New Year’s Eve!

Link to part two: My favorite 14 books of 2014, part 2

*note: some affiliate links included (for the books – if you click on them and order them through Amazon, I’ll get a very, very small percentage of your order from Amazon)

Countdown to 2014: top 10 books read in 2013, part 3

If you’re just now joining in, this is the final part of my “top 10” countdown. Click on the links for part 1 and part 2.

#4 The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (2011)

I blogged a good bit about this one already during the summer, so it will come as no surprise that this made my top 10 list. I found Rubin’s suggestions and reflections based on her “happiness research” to be intriguing to read about and formative to practicing happiness in daily life. She reminds us that happiness is found not in the all-inclusive week at a Caribbean island, but that it awaits us around each quite ordinary corner of our own homes. Happiness is a practice and a mentality more than it is a set of ideal circumstances. As one who can be overly critical of my own life, always waiting for “better” around the corner, I appreciated the push to stop and engage in looking for happiness here and now. One of the best take-aways was to begin blogging more regularly (daily at first in June), refusing to wait for “perfect” to attempt something I’ve wanted to do for awhile.

#3 The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (2010)

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a few months will find this to be no surprise either. I am a huge Brene Brown fan. Her work has shaped and influenced other writers and bloggers I enjoy, notably Glennon (and her book I reviewed yesterday). I read Daring Greatly after this one, and I have to say that I prefer The Gifts of Imperfection for its concise and practical summary of all of her shame/vulnerability/empathy research. She condenses it into “10 practices of Wholehearted people,” and each chapter spells this out along with suggestions to put it into practice. The one that’s stayed with me the most is the need to cultivate creativity. Hence my desire to embrace the messiness that IS art with my preschoolers, like the 15 minute finger-painting session yesterday which left red, yellow, green, and blue paint everywhere. And, yes, it was only 15 minutes. Long enough to do about 4-5 “paintings” each and to empty each of their 4 jars of paint to 15% or less. Astounding …

#2 What It Is Is Beautiful by Sarah Dunning Park (2013)

I received an autographed copy from the author of these beautiful poems about motherhood, and she is one of those truly filled-with-beauty women whose poetry pours forth onto the page as a balm for the soul. My soul as a mother has often needed to stop and savor and read these poems which put words to my own experience of the tender and excruciating journey of motherhood. I cannot recommend her book highly enough, and I have given at least half a dozen (if not more?) copies to friends this year as gifts. Love these poems, love the author, love this book. It’s part of the beauty and creativity we need for our souls to thrive.

Drumroll, please?? And #1 book read in 2013 was … 

photo credit:

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman (2011)

Have you ever read a book that’s your story, put into book form? This is it for me. I have my whole life been the quintessential “good girl” (with a few covert “rebellious” breaks that included slamming my door in high school after yelling at my parents and listening to Nirvana on full blast). My first deep encounter with grace the summer after my sophomore year in college transformed me – for I realized for the first time in my life how much I, Heather Elizabeth Davis, goody-two-shoes, needed grace. I couldn’t be good enough, no matter how many hour-long devotions I had or small groups I led or people I shared my faith with. In fact, some of these endeavors were actually in fact ways I sought to hide from my need for God. I would feel self-sufficient after a “good” quiet time and wouldn’t turn to him throughout the day. I would feel superior and self-righteous to others who weren’t as “holy” and judge them. For I was out of touch with my own neediness and I was blind to my own blindness. Even our goodness is worth nothing to God – no one can be good enough for a 100% holy God. Yikes. But he has made a way to bridge the gap. Jesus! Grace, mercy, clothed in Christ’s righteousness so that I can stop hiding behind my own attempts to be good. I can receive help from others instead of having to be the helper always. I can be honest about being hurt and weak and vulnerable and shame-filled. There is always grace. All is grace. Emily writes beautifully about these truths through the lens of her own story. What a good place to end for 2013, and what a good place to begin in 2014!

Countdown to 2014: top 10 books read in 2013, part 2

The countdown continues from yesterday. Without further ado, here are the next three:

#7 Gospel in Life by Tim Keller (2010)

Our community small group from church did this study together this fall, and it was excellent in every way – from the “homework” to do on your own each week to the DVD we watched together and discussed each week. We were challenged to see how faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ should make a difference in our hearts’ affections and attentions, resulting in a changed perspective in our work so that we would make noticeable, positive differences in our neighborhoods and cities. Keller began with the thought-provoking idea that as much as our cities need the gospel,  we Christians need the city in order to more deeply and fully live out the gospel in our own lives (through meaningful engagement in the issues of our city, especially regarding mercy and justice). Well worth a read!

#6 Seven by Jen Hatmaker (2012)

This book talks about ways to be engaged in social justice and pursuing less – rather than the “more” I assumed I’m entitled to when I live by the American dream.  Hatmaker takes readers along on her journey through seven radical experiments of “less is more” including these particularly hitting-close-to-home areas for me: clothing, waste, spending, and technology. I wish I could say that I’ve continued to live up to these ideals she discusses, but I haven’t. What I have started is being mindful about small choices in all areas, and to begin considering how to make “less” on earth translate into “more” for the kingdom of heaven. I probably should re-read this one every year to be shocked out of my comfort zone and reminded of a bigger perspective. 

One quote from her that bears repeating (from my initial reflections when reading this book earlier this year):

Jesus’ kingdom continues in the same manner it was launched: through humility, subversion, love, sacrifice; through calling empty religion to reform and behaving like we believe the meek will indeed inherit the earth. We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful. We’ve been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around.

#5 Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (2013)

Not many books are laugh-out-loud funny, deeply insightful, and thought-provoking all at the same time. Glennon has done this beautifully in stories from her own life that are real and honest and brave, as she calls her readers to do the same. “We can do hard things,” is a favorite line that I need often, and that I try to give to my daughters, too. Equally important, if not more so, is how she talks about the practice of being kind (in contrast to how we often teach our kids: “be right! at all costs! no matter who gets in your way!”). My friend-in-real-life who’s also a talented blogger, Mary, gave a favorite review of this book on her blog here


Stay tuned for more of the countdown tomorrow …


Countdown to 2014: top 10 books read in 2013

Those of you who follow my blog and know me in real-life know this about me: I love to read and am constantly reading something. The books I finish compared to those I start is a bit disproportionate. I am usually reading at least 5+ books at any given time, of various genres and topics – parenting how-to, Chrstian faith, marriage, counseling, fiction, cultural reflections, etc.

My goal for 2013 Goodreads was to read 40 books this year. And wouldn’t you know, out of all of my 2013 resolutions, this is the one of the *few* I completed (ok, maybe it’s the only one completed). So I thought it would be fun to do a countdown to 2014 of a review of my top 10 books read in 2013. Without further ado – here are #’s 10, 9, and 8:

#10 – Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (2012)

Expect to be challenged if you are an American parent reading. Expect to laugh out loud and also scratch your head at how different French parenting is. And expect to be insanely jealous about how well-behaved French children are described to be. For example, take Druckerman’s observation that all French babies “do their nights” (meaning sleep 8-9 hours at a stretch) by 4 months old, at the latest. And that they know how to eat multiple course meals in public as toddlers tantrum-free. Then there’s the idyllic “creche,” a government-subsidized childcare option for ages 3 and under that’s a far cry from our public daycare systems. They serve the children 3-course-meals including a “cheese course,” that are prepared by in-house chefs who take great pride in their meal plans. This book made it to my top 10 list because of what an entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking read this was in our American parenting culture that seems too characterized and defined by competition, comparison, and perfection (expected both of ourselves and our children).

photo credit:

#9 – Making the Terrible Two’s Terrific by John Rosemond (1993) [note-I just saw that there’s an updated version from 2013 available here. I’m sure it’s even better than the original!]

The best book I’ve read on specifically parenting two-year-olds, of which we had TWO for over half of 2013. (And to be honest, I haven’t found age 3 to be that much easier yet …!). He’s down to earth and practical and keeps in balance a parent’s authority and the developmental reality of age 2. Such as saying it’s more about “containment than correction” at this age. It’s made me think of how I can be more proactive in parenting instead of reactive. He gives a variety of suggestions for parenting and natural consequences that I found helpful to implement (not easy but helpful to at least have a game plan!).

#8 – Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson (2013)

What a great book on motherhood that balances both its reality and joy! I appreciated hearing the two stories weaved throughout of Sarah Mae who’s “in it” (with 3 young kids) and her mentor, Sally Clarkson, who’s been through motherhood (and thrived).  Sarah’s perspective resonated with me since this is where I am, too, and it gave me hope to hear of someone struggling in motherhood in similar ways (while loving her children). Reading of their interaction gave me a vision for being this type of mentor when I am out of this young kids stage, and it reminds me that the first steps to take when feeling desperate as a mom is to admit you are and to reach out for help. I am thankful for so many mentors and fellow young moms past and present who have been there for me in these moments of desperation to remind me that I am not alone. Reading this book in the beginning of this year when I did feel more desperate than I do today was a significant part of helping me to carry on. (speaking of that last phrase “carry on” … ok, spoiler alert for the next segment!)