Category Archives: God’s Will

My Reading List – Fall 2016 & Winter 2017


After more than six months of not having any 5-star reads, I have several amazing reads to share with you. Below are my ratings for the books I read between October 2016 and March 2017, as well as a brief summary of how each could add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with most of the content and found some fantastic nuggets throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
I tend to not be a risk-taker. I like to play it safe, and feel like I have everything under control. Mark helped me to realize that by living from this posture, I am keeping myself from maximizing my God-given potential. This book left me motivated, in ways that no other book has done before, and excited about taking risks.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
Because of my tendency to be risk averse, my motto over the last 4-5 years has been “live with courage”. When I have done so, my life has been richer, more meaningful, and simply more amazing. “But something invaluable and irreplaceable is lost when we cave in to conformity. We lose our personality. We lose our originality…Instead of becoming the one-of-a-kind original we were destined to be, we settle for a carbon copy of someone else.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle. I want to be courageous.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen
I’ve already read this book three times this year, and will probably read it again in the summer months. It is rich, and Jennie’s wisdom fills my soul. She reminded me over and over again to release my grip on life and stop trying to control everything. She reminded me to own my failures and apologize graciously. She reminded me to engage in pain and suffering, and let myself be touched by them rather than trying to run from them or be numb to them. So rich!

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Shauna’s words hit me hard, and were exactly what I needed to get me to face the fact that I had too much going on and needed to cut some things out of my life, and do more practicing of what I preach with my clients of, saying no to the good so you can say yes to the great.

4-Star Reads

Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
I have difficulty slowing down. Resting is not something I am good at. I realized that part of the reason why was that I didn’t know what rest actually looked like. Bonnie helped me define rest, as well as recognize that rest is different for each of us. She walked me through a process that left me with pages of notes of what rest means to me and how I am most replenished in body, mind, spirit, and soul.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I don’t really like Joanna’s decorating style (no offense to you, shiplap lovers), but I love watching she and Chip help people achieve their dream of having not just a house, but a home. Their memoir is a deeper glimpse into who they are and what brought them to where they are today, including some good lessons about money management and marital communication.

Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
Every business person needs to read this book. Whether you only manage yourself, or you manage a team of people, Daniel presents tangible and practical disciplines that everyone can benefit from. This is the main book that we, at Building Champions, use with our clients, and there is quantitative data that proves that, when applied, success happens.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
We’ve all been in a meeting where a product or service is being evaluated and one person is talking about how they feel about it, another person is talking about how to prove the benefits of it, another person is talking about how horrible everything is with it, and another person is talking about how it can lead to a future product or service. Edward helps us organize, clarify, and specify each of these different perspectives and reduce confusion in communication in a creative way.

3-Star Reads

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson
I was super amped to read Mark’s latest book, after having loved Wild Goose Chase and In the Pit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good, and had a lot of the same stories as the other two. But, the principles are still relevant, and his wisdom is just as sound.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
Very helpful insights into how the creator of the comic, Dilbert, got to where he is today. He presents some practical advice of how to set yourself up for success based on his own failures and successes. His suggestion of creating systems is a useful method for creating accountability for yourself.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
Ryan didn’t necessarily invent fake news, but he certainly took the concept to a whole new level. This book is a fascinating look at this current hot topic, as Ryan exposes his own methods and clues the rest of us non-media folks, into how the media world works.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
I’m not Ryan’s intended audience with this book, but I wanted to learn more about growth hacking since it’s clearly something that, as a consumer, affects my life. He did a good job of defining it and using some examples, from his career, of how he’s done it.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
Maria takes experiences, both common and difficult, and finds beauty and meaning in them. Her book is a good reminder to take note of situations and circumstances, and look for the deeper learnings in them.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that are on my current reading list. I will post a blog in July that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick
Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Learning to Lead by Fred Smith
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
Business Boutique by Christy Wright
On the Clock by Tim Enochs

What was one of your 5-star books in the Fall and Winter months?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Winter 2016

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Reading is my happy place, and the books I read during the first few months of this year packed a punch; some of my all-time favorite reads.

Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Ann’s poetic way of writing, which is the complete opposite of what I usually read, had me hooked from page one. I am awed and inspired by the way she views life. I actually read this book twice, back to back, and am currently re-reading it again. You cannot read this book without being deeply compelled to become a more grateful person.

Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt
You may be tempted to think that I only listed this as a 5-star read because it is written by the owner of the company I work for, but in all reality, I chose to join Building Champions because I am in complete agreement with Daniel’s philosophy: our lives are more full and rich when we live intentionally. Daniel and Michael’s book walks us through how to proactively live life on purpose so that every area of our lives is as meaningful as we desire it to be. Learn a little more through this interview with Forbes magazine, or through this podcast with Dale Partridge.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Wow! Talk about teamwork and perseverance. This is an incredible story that will not only get your adrenaline pumping, but will remind you that teams that work together are able to truly move mountains, and that victories are sweeter when someone else is victorious with you.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Louis Zamperini’s story is truly the epitome of resilience. My own personal courage was bolstered every time Louis encountered a new, and often more horrifying, situation. When you’re tempted to think that you can’t overcome a certain challenge or obstacle, look to Louis’s example to give you confidence to carry on.

4-Star Reads

Scary Close by Donald Miller
This life is a waste if we’re not going to live it as the person who we were created us to be. Donald’s book talks about his journey of becoming real, of pulling off the mask. His story is an encouragement to all of us to become more self-aware, and to not let fear, shame, guilt, or any other feelings keep us from living life as we were intended to.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Of all of the characters in this epic story, it is the life of Tom Smith that intrigues me most. Tom’s ability to help Seabiscuit actualize the potential that only Tom saw in him is a thing of beauty; nothing less than art in motion. It is a reminder that each of us have a gift that we are meant to share.

3-Star Reads

Deep Change by Robert Quinn
Not an easy read, but some good wisdom for those of us who have areas in our lives that we are working on and expecting transformational change. He also has a field guide with introspective exercises that are intended to help facilitate the desired change.

2-Star Reads

The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley
“Choosing the wrong path in life will cost you precious years.” Andy’s book identifies why it is important to follow Daniel Harkavy’s outlined method in Living Forward for how to live a life of intention and purpose.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that I am currently reading. I will post a blog in July that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Do Over by Jon Acuff
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Under New Management by David Burkus
Becoming an Agile Leader by Victoria Swisher

What was one of your 5-star books this Winter?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Fall 2015

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Below are the books I read in Q4, with my rating and a brief summary of what I learned, as well as how I think it might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

I didn’t have any 5-star reads in my Fall reading, but the best book of 2015 for me was Essentialism by Gary McKeown. Every single one of us would like to have more time in our lives, and Gary does an exceptional job of walking through how to make that happen.

4-Star Reads

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
Life is difficult, and Jen gets real with her readers making sure that we know it’s ok to let our real lives show, and to not get caught in the trap of trying to make our lives appear perfect and easy. She is hilariously funny and her message will resonate with everyone who has ever tried to make their life look like it’s straight off of Pinterest.

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Akin to Greg McKeown’s book, Lysa’s overall goal and intent is to help us determine where our time is best spent and how to say no without disappointing people. She presents us with practical filters to use for our decision-making. I found much wisdom in her easy-to follow, and implement, approach.

People over Profit by Dale Partridge
Our economic, and general societal, well-being is still recovering from the effects of people in the finance world sacrificing their convictions for greed. Dale does a great job of showing us what leads to poor decision-making in organizations, and provides us with seven core beliefs that, when acted upon, will bring health, vitality, and sustainability. One of my favorite quotes is, “Fire others the way you would want to be fired.”

3-Star Reads

QBQ! The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller
Through some simple questions and disciplines, John teaches us how to take personal accountability. He reminds us, “We can’t change other people. We often can’t control circumstances and events. The only things we have any real control over are our own thoughts and actions.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
“There will never be anyone exactly like you. You were given special gifts and talents to share with the world, and even though everybody has special gifts and talents, nobody will use theirs quite the same way you do.” If you need some inspiration and reminders that you are strong and capable, this book will definitely provide you with that pick-me-up.

The Prince of the Marshes by Rory Stewart
A fascinating look at life in Iraq during the years following the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Rory, a British diplomat, shares his story about the time he spends in Iraq trying to help the country unite and re-build with its own government and culture. I preferred Rory’s book, The Places In Between, about his year in Afghanistan over this one.

2-Star Reads

Money by Tony Robbins
I had high hopes that a multi-multi-millionaire would bring some great insights in regard to personal finances, but I was pretty let down. The book is nearly 700 pages, but was extremely repetitive; it could have been 200 and retained the few valuable elements. The section about 401k investments was helpful, but overall I’ve learned far better financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey and my uncle.

1-Star Reads

Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary
This is the only book I read in 2015 that I would say is not worth reading. From my research on this topic, there are more helpful articles on the internet. Bummer!

My Next Review Will Include

Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over the next few months. I will post a blog in April that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Do Over by Jon Acuff
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Deep Change by Robert Quinn
Scary Close by Donald Miller
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What was one of your 5-star books this Fall?
What is on your reading list this Winter?

(Here are the links to my other 2015 reading lists: winter 2015 and spring & summer 2015.)

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

What Are You Expecting This Lent?

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Last year, I wrote this post about my newfound discovery of the true meaning of Lent and how it is applicable to me as a normal average woman who believes in Jesus Christ.

Coming to learn the purpose of this season as being one of preparation added a depth of understanding of Lent that I had never had before.

Similar to last year, I am entering into this season with my focus being on how I can grow and be prepared for whatever God has planned in the coming season. This year I am joining author, teacher, and speaker, Margaret Feinberg’s #LentChallenge of reading through the Gospels (the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). If you’d like to join in, this post from Margaret provides the reading plan for these next 40 days.

I am expectant for God to use this season to purify my motives, solidify my backbone, and clarify my calling.

What are your expectations for this Lent season?

How Is Your Footing?

A friend of mine made the decision to leave the company she works for, but she was struggling with the timing of giving her notice because she still had a number of commitments that she had made to the organization and didn’t know if she needed to wait to give her notice until she had completed the work for those commitments. Though she was ready to move on, she felt in her heart that the testimony and witness she would leave without completing those commitments would be a bad one and that it would likely damage or un-do any seeds that had been successfully planted during her tenure with the company. She felt that completing the commitments would prove her integrity and credibility and thus strengthen her witness of the love of God and the faithfulness of God’s people. She was fearful about the potential effects of the decision; she didn’t want the delay in giving her notice to interfere with interviews and other opportunities that might present themselves in the coming days. She knew that her fears had some legitimacy but she also knew that since it was a God-led decision to leave her company that she could trust God to orchestrate the timing perfectly with what He had as the next step for her.

Psalm 37:23 tells us that God is not only walking with us in our decisions but that we can trust Him to order and establish our footholds, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (NIV).

The words from this scripture come from King David, who knew all too well a situation similar to my friend’s. When King David was just an adolescent, somewhere between 11-15 years old, he learned that he was to become king, but immediately after receiving that information he went back to being a shepherd for his father’s flock, and then he spent years in the king’s palace and was hunted by King Saul because Saul wanted to bring death upon the one who was to take over his throne. It was not until David was about 30 years old that he actually became king and fulfilled the anointing that was spoken of him at least 15 years prior.

A similar situation can be found in the life of Mary. Mary, a teenage young woman who had never known a man, accepted God’s call upon her life that she was to be the one woman chosen from all of womankind to give birth to, and raise, the Messiah. Certainly she accepted the charge as any of us hope that we would have, but think about all that she didn’t know at the time of her affirmative response. She didn’t know that her own family and community would not believe that Christ was who He claimed to be and would turn against Him. She didn’t know that He would be mocked and spat upon and that she would watch Him die a criminal’s death. Though scripture doesn’t say specifically, we can safely assume that during the 40 days that Jesus spent on earth between the resurrection and the ascension that Mary actually spent time with Jesus. When she told Gabriel, “May it be as you have said”, she probably never thought she would walk and talk with her son as the Risen and Living Son of God.

Just as Mary and David did, my friend chose to believe that God has a firm hold on her future, even if she can’t see the end result quite yet.

If you believed the words of Psalm 37:23 to be true for your own life, how might you live differently?

I Have Something Even Better In Mind For You

2013 was a year of changes and transition for me. The owners of the healthcare company I worked for decided it was time to change out the executive leadership team and let go of the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. And, since I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff, I was given the option of taking another position in the company or leaving altogether.

It was a difficult decision to make. There were loyalties to consider. There were bills to be paid. There were friendships that I knew would end; people I would never see again. There were projects still to be finished and work still to be done. There was a doctoral dissertation waiting to be worked on.

It took about a week to muster up the courage to make the decision, to do what I knew in my heart God was calling me to do, to move on.

I thought I had it all planned out, as to what would happen next, the timeline of when I would get my dissertation proposal finished and start working on actively seeking a new job, and keep everything moving forward.

The time came and multiple fantastic opportunities came my way, but with each one there just was something about them that wasn’t quite right, that despite my eagerness and my desperation, didn’t settle right in my spirit. In some situations the decision ended up being made for me and in other situations I’m the one who drew things to a close.

There were moments of panic. In one such moment a dear pastor friend of mine sent me a note that said, “Remember, you are on the potter’s wheel, and as you are turned on the wheel, the Master Potter is molding and shaping you into the image that He created you to be before the foundation of the world. There are people that your life is destined to help. A purpose your life has yet to fulfill. Though the direction you are to go right now may not be clear, trust that as one door closes that another better and more useful door will open. It is when we are boxed into a corner that we operate at the height of our creativity.”

His words really helped me to “turn a corner” in how I was viewing my situation. I was able to move into a place of greater peace, really believing that God could be trusted with my life, my whole life, every aspect of my life. I began to look at things through God’s eyes, with bigger vision and a deepened perspective.

Author Kristen Strong says that God looks at us in moments, like what I was going through last year and says, “You’re so important to me, I have something even better in mind for you.”

I am still on the potter’s wheel, but now I look upon that position through eyes of humble gratitude rather than eyes of fear.

I wonder…what has the potter’s wheel done to your heart?

You Don’t Have To Be Beautiful To Be A Leader

Since the debate about if leaders are both or made is still alive and active in academic circles and practitioner circles, trait theories were a frequent topic of conversation while I was obtaining my Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.

Trait theories predominantly focus on the leader’s specific qualities, who they were, and how their traits differentiated them from other people. Trait theories were the focal point of leadership theory up through the 1940s.

One of the two main categories of trait theories is the Biological-Genetic theory, which centers on attributes of a leader being certain characteristics that are innate to their genetic make-up. This means that a leader could be recognized by physical traits, things like their height or other prominent physical features, or their personality traits, like being an extrovert or having self-confidence, or their mental abilities, such as intelligence. As author and professor, Peter Northouse states, this also means that people believed that leadership was an “elitist enterprise” and was reserved for those who had the specific biological make-up deemed as worthy of leadership, of being a leader.

While reading the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, I noticed something quite interesting concerning trait theory. Scripture tells us that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord. His successes were many and his influence was great. In 1 Samuel 15 we learn through a word that comes to Samuel from the Lord, that Saul, the reigning king over Israel, has been rejected by the Lord from being king. Samuel receives instruction from the Lord that he is to go to a man in Bethlehem named Jesse and that one of Jesse’s sons has been chosen by the Lord to replace Saul as king over Israel. So, Samuel goes to Jesse’s home to anoint the son who is to be king. 1 Samuel 16:6 (MSG) says, “When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s Anointed!”” But, as we learn in the next verse, Samuel is wrong and God tells Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature…God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks at the heart.” As we move on in the story, we learn that none of Jesse’s seven oldest sons are whom God has anointed to replace Saul as king over Israel, but it is in fact David, Jesse’s youngest son who is still a pre-teen and tending to his father’s sheep.

God provides Samuel and us with the greatest lesson about trait theory: It doesn’t matter how beautiful you are, how tall you are, how old you are, how experienced you are, how outgoing you are, or how smart you are; if God is calling you to something and has anointed you for it, all that matters is your character, your heart.