Every year, a few days before New Year's Eve, I like to take some time out to reflect back on the year I have just had, and set myself some challenging, yet attainable, goals for the year ahead of me. I usually set the goals with a group of close friends, and we keep each other accountable throughout the year. I find that having my friends involved means that I try harder to accomplish what I set out to do.
My goals usually comprise of 4 different areas; Spiritual, Family & Friends, Work, Health & Lifestyle.
Last year, amongst my list of goals, I set myself a target of reading at least 6 books that would either help me, or encourage me, spiritually.
I'm happy to say that I managed to read 12 books last year, which did actually surprise me a little!
The majority of the books were extremely encouraging and definitely had an impact on me in one way or another, and so I have decided to share 10 of them with you, in the hope that you may be encouraged too.
Amazingly 4 out of the 10 books were written by people within my church family, which I think is pretty awesome!
These are not in rating order, but in the order I read them;
Jesus the one and only - Beth Moore
An in-depth study of the life and ministry of Jesus. In Jesus the One and Only, Beth Moore introduces readers to an intimate Saviour as they get a close-up and personal portrait of the life of Jesus the Messiah. This is far more than just a work on the life of Christ. As He has done in the past, God uses Beth's words to woo the reader into a romance with the One and Only. The reader comes to know Christ personally, watching and listening as He breaks up a funeral by raising the dead, confronts conniving religious leaders of His day, teaches on a Galilean hillside or walks on the waves and calms the storm.
This book was a perfect start to 2016 for me, as it helped me understand Jesus in a much deeper way. Beth's angle, and the way she presents Jesus to the reader, helped me with areas where I'd struggled to see compassion. This book helped shape the rest of my year especially with reading the bible.
In Security - Ems Hancock
Insecurity is based on doubt. It asks deep questions like “Do I matter? Am I important? Am I loved?” It also asks shallower questions like, “Do I suit this skirt? Can I get away with this haircut?”
Whoever you are and whatever you do, you will have times when you feel insecure.
This book offers practical, simple ways to apply biblical truth when insecurity strikes.
In Security highlighted areas in my life that I needed to work on and helped me to work those out with the help of scripture. Ems is a brilliant writer and manages to weave her infectious humour with her knowledge and wisdom. I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone struggling with niggling insecurities.
Facing my past, unlocking the future - Christie Spurling
In Facing My Past; Unlocking the Future Christie recounts how he was given up at birth and placed in a children’s home before being adopted into a loving family. He shares his journey from being an angry, hurting child to the steps God led him on to becoming the founder and CEO of an award-winning youth charity, N-Gage.
This book is a challenging, honest and true story of healing and restoration; of coming to understand the love of a Heavenly Father and the support of a faithful family.
I have always known parts of Christie's story, but through reading his book, it helped me to see the full extend of the journey he has been on and how God's hand has been on him right from day one. N-Gage is a charity I freelance for and support wholeheartedly.
Life begins when you choose - Joyce Gbeleyi
These true stories of women in Manchester, each from a very different background, reveal lives transformed as they encountered Jesus through their church communities.
The stories are easy-to-read but many are hard-hitting; they tell of how much we need God in our lives to bring us from hopelessness
It was an absolute pleasure to share my story in this book, and to read the incredible stories from other women within my church community. I'm sure they have had a huge impact on the people who have read them.
Born to create - Theresa Dedmon
Offering a launching pad for you to burst into the realm of creative expression—that fun, fantasy world where the Creator is waiting to welcome you. There is a connection between creativity, your identity, the Church, and the world—and it is an important connection. Creativity is tied to all believers’ identity, all who are made in the image of the Creator, all who are born to create! Overflowing with many thrilling, modern-day testimonies, Born to Create emphasises the magnitude of both craft—practice and excellence—as well as anointing. Many who have been freed to embrace their creative ideas and passions, whether in the art fields, business, or education, share their amazing stories with you. Their freedom allowed them to powerfully release healing, the prophetic, and the knowledge of God’s love into the marketplace. Live creatively, friends.
This book opened my eyes to how much God wants us to use creativity everyday and challenged and inspired me to use my creative gifting differently, especially within worship and prophecy.
Beloved - Rachel Gardner
I hope that reading this book will help you to wake up to God's love in fresh, even unexpected, ways. This is your one, wild life. The only way to live it well is to live well in love. The only way to live well in love is to let God love you, and others through you.
This will change everything.
Don't settle for being defined by glamour, social media status or anything else. You are worth so, so, so much more.
Beloved has exactly the same heartbeat as the Be Loved course. If you want to know what Be Loved is all about before you invest in the course, then read this book! It blew me away that God whispered such a similar message to both Rachel and I, at similar times, without us knowing each other.
The Sisterhood - Bobby Houston
The Sisterhood explores God's vision for women: what they should believe about God, themselves, and their ability to make the world a better place. Bobbie shows readers how to embrace and implement that vision in every aspect of their lives, helping them to discover their gifts and talents, and includes personal stories from women around the world. The book concludes with a challenge to join the worldwide 'Sisterhood' movement, motivated by the belief that if one woman can change the lives around her, then a united group of women can change the world.
The Sisterhood is an inspiring journey of how something can grow from a seed to a huge oak tree. Bobby's story tells us how she listened to God's direction, and acted in obedience, which has resulted in her growing an incredible ministry, that impacts the lives of so many women all around the globe.
The search for home - Beatrice Smith
In April 1994, ten-year-old Beatrice came face to face with the Rwandan genocide when machete wielding killers burst into her family’s home, seeking their lives. Forced to flee, Beatrice and her family found themselves moving from one country to another in search of safety and rest. Destitute refugees, they faced innumerable challenges along the way, but also experienced God’s provision and miraculous rescue. Now settled in the UK, Beatrice reflects on the tumultuous journey that brought her here and how God worked healing and restoration. Told through the eyes of a child, The Search for Home is an inspirational story that gives insight into the plight of millions of refugees today.
Beatrice's story hit me hard when she shared parts of it with me personally over coffee one day. You will not believe what you are reading at times, and how God spared the lives of not just her, but her whole family, during such an awful and devastating time. This story is full of hope, bravery and miracles.
Love does - Bob Goff
As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren't good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean's office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.
Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world's best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world's most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it's not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob's love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.
When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don't want to miss.
Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob's life and attitude just might inspire you to be incredible too.
I fell in love with Bob's enthusiasm, love for life, and the people he meets, when I first heard him talk early last year. I wanted to get my hands on his book ever since then, but didn't actually get it until this Christmas. When I finally had it in my hands, it only took me two days to read it! Bob shows that love isn't a feeling, it's an action, and when we show people incredible love, incredible things happen.
Scars accross humanity - Elaine Storkey
Every three seconds, a girl under the age of 18 is married somewhere across the world usually without her consent and sometimes to a much older man. Combining rigorous research and compelling personal testimonies, Elaine Storkey investigates the different forms of violence experienced by women across the globe today. From female infanticide and child brides to domestic abuse, prostitution, rape and honour killings, violence against women occurs at all stages of life, and in all cultures and societies. How and why has this violence become so prevalent? Storkey examines the answers that are commonly offered, including theories based on evolutionary psychology and the rise of patriarchal power structures. She also considers the role that religion can play for good or ill in the struggle against this universal injustice.
To be completely honest, this has been quite a tough read so I haven't finished it yet, but I felt it was really important to include in this list. I think in the past I've made the decision to turn a blind eye to what goes on in the world, but reading this has made me more determined to stand up for those without a voice, and shout against injustice. If you're up for the challenge then I'd recommend you read this book too.
So that's my top 10 for 2016. I'm currently reading 'Reasons to stay alive' by Matt Haig and next on my list is 'Dirty Glory' by Pete Greig. If you have any book suggestions for me for this year then I'd love to hear them.
Also, if you read any books from my list please let me know what you thought of them.
Wishing a happy and healthy new year to you all!
Love and be loved,