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2020 Year in (book) Review


What a year, right? ;) I thought it would be fun, as this week rolls from 2020 to 2021, to share a few of the books that heavily impacted me the past year. This isn't an exhaustive list, though I won't claim to have read nearly the amount of books I see some FB friends posting about! (Kudos to you, you outstanding readers, you!) Within these reviews, I've also included links to some articles I've written that I hope will give you direct insight into the various ways the authors have challenged me, encouraged me, taught me.

In March I was thrilled to be selected on Twitter to receive a free, autographed copy of “Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher. I follow both of the authors via social media, and knew I wanted to read this book, so I felt like I had won the lottery when I was selected :) It didn’t disappoint, and it will be one I read over again to keep its message fresh. So many books about women tend to approach the topic in one of two ways: 1. Put women in their “place” by making sure to spend most of the time focusing on what women CAN’T do. 2. Do lots of gymnastics to find obscure loopholes in order to make the Bible say something it just doesn’t say. This book does neither. I know the authors took backlash from their theological “camp” because they broke a mold, and I appreciated their courage to do so. 

All that said, Worthy is a book that speaks lovingly, without condemnation and without obscure loopholes to develop its premise. The examples used are easily accessible to readers by opening scripture...no Greek or Hebrew needed. It’s a breath of fresh air and my main recommendation is this: Male or female, no matter your “camp,” please, please, please read it. And don’t just read it. Consider it. And as you do, consider also the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Eric and Elyse repeatedly draw on.

On a personal note, the book also convicted me in my approach toward men, and though I can (of course) justify it with personal history, I no longer want to. I wrote about that here: Men + Women

At the end of 2019, I shared that it had been a difficult year as far as my writing work. While I learned a lot about myself in the process, I experienced much discouragement, especially when it came to writing statistics--you know, likes, views, etc. Reading Andrew Peterson’s book “Adorning the Dark” in early 2020 was a shot of energy I needed. I came away refreshed and ready to continue persevering in my work...it’s a book I could stand to re-read yet again, to remember its message, and to keep my focus on bringing light to a dark world. As time would have it, I also finished this work right before COVID took center-stage. I think Peterson’s thoughts on “community, calling and, and the Mystery of Making” helped me continue to see poetry in the world around me:

For those of you familiar with my testimony, you will understand why I was drawn to a book called “The Scars that have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us In Suffering” :) Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a regular contributing writer to the Desiring God ministry, and that’s how I found out about this book. She purposefully writes short chapters in effort to lighten the load of her readers--many of whom come from a place of suffering. I have underlines all over this book, especially the latter chapters where Vaneetha broaches the topic of “everyday manna.” I am still processing this idea...and how we so often want our “Red Sea” moments, but we disregard, even despise, the grace of the miracle of everyday provision. I wrote about this concept in my August edition of Lipstick & Pearls: Uncertainty Isn't Always Bad. 
This idea also prompted a deep-dive into Exodus 15-17, and I would expect this theme to play a part in upcoming pieces...and really, life in general. “The Scars that have Shaped Me” is yet another book I will return to as I continue processing my life and the world around me.

In April I finished “Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse” by Jennifer Michelle Greenberg. She and I have connected well via social media, and it was nice to read her book full of hard-earned wisdom and redemption. I would highly recommend “Not Forsaken” to anyone -- both those recovering from a painful past and those trying to better understand someone with a painful past. Through the year, I’ve also been able to edit some additional resources Jenn has prepared to accompany this book, including one directly written to pastors. In editing these resources, God used Jenn’s work in my life, providing a counseling session of sorts. I wrote about that experience here: No One Searched or Looked for Them 

“Advent, A Thread in the Night” is my most recent book to finish. I used Evan Welcher’s beautiful work to participate in an Advent challenge called #athreadinthenight. Some of you may have followed along, but if not, you can catch the posts on any of my social media channels: @MalindaDJust (FB, Insta, Twitter). Evan’s book poignantly shares his grief and the waiting that comes in life between the Advents, and it spoke to loudly my own heart. This book served to prepare my heart for Christmas while filling me with wonder at the Lord’s promises. I highly recommend adding this book to your Advent season in years to come. I was inspired by the book to write about the beauty of white space, which you can read here: A Breath of White Space

And where would we be without a little fiction? My girls have officially finished Andrew Peterson’s “The Wingfeather Saga” books 1-4, and I am a quarter of the way through book four. We highly recommend this series!. It has been so much fun to discuss these books as a family, and it also inspired my September edition of Lipstick & Pearls: Fiction Is Not A Waste Of Time
We definitely “waste” our time with fiction around here ;)

A few other recommended reads from my 2020 list:

Recovering From Biblical Manhood & Womanhood by Aimee Byrd
Humble Calvinism: And If I Know The Five Points But Have Not Love... by J.A. Medders
Good & Angry by David Powlison
Christ-Centered Exposition (commentary set)
Fiction by Francine Rivers -- I re-read several during COVID, including the Marta's Legacy set.

Happy reading (and happy new year) 💗


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