Cheryl’s Book List

 

By Cheryl Moses

I’m a reader. It’s true. I can usually be found reading three to four books at a time, bouncing back and forth between them as my mood, or need changes.

I am a learner, a ponderer, a creative thinker, and a dreamer.   I consistently recognize that I am so far from where I want to be that I devour material that I think will help me get there, wherever “there” happens to be today.

I’m also rather fickle. I will insatiably tackle several books at a time for a few weeks at a time and then stop cold turkey. No rhyme or reason for the abrupt hiatus except for that fact that maybe my mind needs a break from other people’s words filling it up. That seems likely to me having written it out. Yep. I bet that’s it.

We’re in a new year now and my hiatus of 2016 has carried over for far too long into 2017. I’m officially ready to prop my feet up again with a good book, or two, or three, or most likely four, and do some soul tending. Good books can help you do that!

Here’s my list…

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Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You, by John Ortberg

 When is the last time you thought about the state of your soul?

The health of your soul isn’t just a matter of saved or unsaved. It’s the hinge on which the rest of your life hangs. It’s the difference between deep, satisfied spirituality and a restless, dispassionate faith. In an age of materialism and consumerism that tries to buy its way to happiness, many souls are starved and unhealthy, unsatisfied by false promises of status and wealth. We’ve neglected this eternal part of ourselves, focusing instead on the temporal concerns of the world―and not without consequence.

Bestselling author John Ortberg presents another classic that will help you discover your soul―the most important connection to God there is―and find your way out of the spiritual shallow-lands to true divine depth. With characteristic insight and an accessible story-filled approach, Ortberg brings practicality and relevance to one of Christianity’s most mysterious and neglected topics.

supernaturalThe Supernatural Ways of Royalty: Discovering Your Rights and Privileges of Being a Son or Daughter of God, by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson

 Supernatural Ways of Royalty reveals your true identity as a child of the King of Kings–royal heir to the eternal Kingdom of God.

Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton denounce the pauper mentality many Christians have and present your royal inheritance through Christ’s ultimate act of redemption.

As a member of God’s royal family, you can:
* Share the King’s power of grace and mercy.
* Think and act with His authority.
* Reveal royal qualities for future generations.
* Promote honor and humility–with confidence.
* Cultivate His love for one another.

The authors’ personal, supernatural experiences will convince you of your own royal status and inspire you to claim your personal inheritance gift from your Father–the King of Kings.

cravingconnectionCraving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement, from the (in)courage community

We all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfill our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. But where do we start? Craving Connection is a journey with (in)courage writers sharing real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to:

Embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection

Invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you

Become the friend you wish you had.

The (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection. How could your life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community?

 

bethmooreThe Undoing of Saint Silvanus, by Beth Moore

 Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him―or her grandmother, the ice queen―in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.

jennieallenNothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard, by Jennie Allen

No More Pretending. No More Performing. No More Fighting to Prove Yourself.

Are you trying your best to measure up—yet you still feel as if you’re losing ground?

You are not alone.

Jennie Allen understands the daily struggle so many of us face with the fear that we are not enough. And she invites us into a different experience, one in which our souls overflow with contentment and joy. In Nothing to Prove she calls us to…

* Find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting we’re not enough—but Jesus is.
* Admit our greatest needs and watch them be filled by the only One who can meet them.
* Make it our goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through us.

As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you’ll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.

Discover the answer to your soul-deep thirst
Too many of us have bought into the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, and people—and we wonder all the while, Why am I still thirsty?

My single goal with this book is to lead your thirsty soul to the only source of lasting fulfillment: Jesus. He is the living water, a limitless supply that will not only quench your thirst but will fill you and then come pouring out of you into a thirsty world.

Because of Him, you are loved. You are known. You can take a deep breath.
Because you have nothing to prove.

—Jennie

lovedoesLove Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World, by 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 secretly incredible, too.

anythingAnything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, by Jennie Allen

 In the years since the initial release of Anything, God continued to stretch Jennie Allen and her faith because of the courageous prayer of surrender that she and her husband, Zac, prayed, “God, we will do anything. Anything.” Previously caught in the dizzying haze of worldly happiness and empty pursuits, Jennie went on to begin living out the adventure God had written for them—to include becoming the founder of IF: Gathering, an organization to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose.

Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move you to stop chasing things that just make you feel happy and start living a surrendered life that matters.

This newly revised edition is updated throughout to include a new introduction and an in-depth Bible study component for those who have been wanting to lead a study on this topic.

Join Jennie on an adventure to discover your anything, those things that actually mean nothing until you know the God truly worth giving it all up for. And when you do, that will change everything.

thinkandeatThink and Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscientific Approach to a Sharper Mind and Healthier Life, by Dr. Caroline Leaf

 Science is beginning to understand that our thinking has a deep and complicated relationship with our eating. Our thoughts before, during, and after eating profoundly impact our food choices, our digestive health, our brain health, and more. Yet most of us give very little thought to our food beyond taste and basic nutritional content.

In this revolutionary book, Dr. Caroline Leaf packs an incredible amount of information that will change readers’ eating and thinking habits for the better. Rather than getting caught up in whether we should go raw or vegan, gluten-free or paleo, Leaf shows readers that every individual is unique, has unique nutritional needs, and has the power to impact their own health through the right thinking. There’s no one perfect solution. Rather, she shows us how to change the way we think about food and put ourselves on the path towards health.

Anyone who is tired of traditional diet plans that don’t work, who struggles with emotional eating, or who simply isn’t satisfied with their level of health will find in this book the key to discovering how they can begin developing a healthier body, brain, and spirit.

 

comewithmeCome With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads,

by Suzanne Eller

What if there was a real-life invitation to a lifetime of unexpected destinations and adventure? What if your faith was the key?

In her warm, conversational way, Proverbs 31 author Suzie Eller shows how your faith is just that. How when you take a step away from the uncertainty, the to-do list, the busy life, the worries and excuses, you take a step toward the One who promises to delight and surprise. Who brings you deeper than you ever thought possible.

Two thousand years ago, 12 men answered the call to follow a man they hardly knew–and they were changed in ways they never imagined. Today that same invitation echoes across history, beckoning you to an adventure that will spill into every aspect of your faith and life. Come with Me. Will you say yes?

 

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to love and to feed them

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By EMMA CRAUFORD

It has occurred to me that when it comes to raising children, nothing can actually prepare you for each new season.

I don’t like this.

If at all possible, I would prefer 12 months notice on All Issues That Will Arise with each of my children. Then I could plan, research, study, hold focus groups and interrogate All Those Who Have Gone Before and demand their wisdom and insights. I could search for the people who have experienced the exact same thing that my kids will and ask them “What do I do?” Continue reading “to love and to feed them”

Recipes for a crowd: Panzanella Salad

Recipes For A Crowd is a new category on Esther & Friends.  These are tried and true crowd-pleasers that look great on a platter and, most importantly, don’t stress out the host.  Who better to kick this off than our resident foodie, Emma Crauford.   For our lovely friends in Europe and the US, we will try to incorporate some winter-style recipes in coming weeks.  Forgive us our Antipodean summer Christmas and our need for BBQ’s and salads at this time of year…..it must seem very odd!    Bon Appetit!

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by EMMA CRAUFORD

This is the first of a few posts I am going to dedicate to the Christmas season. Whether you need inspiration for a relaxed summer BBQ with friends or a formal Christmas gathering, over the next few weeks I will post some simple and achievable recipes suitable for those occasions. I can’t wait to hear if any of them make it to your menu!

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There are many reasons why this is one of my favourite salads.

Firstly, it’s from Tuscany, Italy. A place I dream of visiting one day.  I long to soak up the history, food and culture. I dream of spending a day in an Italian mumma’s kitchen, learning all that I can. I dream of olive groves, foraging for herbs and eating lots and lots of cheese!

The Italians are well known for being wise with their food and never wasting a thing. This salad was born as a way of using up stale bread. Pure genuis, to combine stale bread with some of summers best produce and finest herbs.

Secondly, it is colourful and so pretty on a big white platter. The red, green and white theme make it a perfect Aussie Christmas salad, especially when tomatoes are at their best and full of flavour.

Thirdly, it’s SIMPLE. A little chopping, a little toasting and a quick dressing, this salad is perfect to add to your Christmas menu, which like me, you are probably trying to keep as simple, yet as tasty, as possible.

My version of the Panzanella Salad is based on one I read about in the Quick Smart Cook recipe book, from the ABC delicious magazine.

Panzanella Salad

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 28m
  • Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, torn into small chunks
  • 50 milliliters extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for the sourdough)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, to give 3/4 cup (plus extra whole leaves for garnish)
  • 600 grams cherry tomatoes, halved (look out for yellow, orange and green tomatoes to make the salad more colourful)
  • 1 large lebanese cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, halved (more if you like olives!)
  • 150 grams fresh buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini, torn into chunks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Drizzle the torn bread chunks in some olive oil, season with salt and place in a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden and crispy. Set aside.
  4. Combine 50ml olive oil, red wine vinegar and finely chopped basil leaves in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.
  5. Place cut tomatoes, olives, cucumber, toasted bread and mozzarella in a large bowl and pour the dressing over. Mix well with your hands.
  6. Place on a serving platter and garnish with whole fresh basil leaves.

emma

Emma is from Sydney, Australia, where she is raising 3 beautiful boys alongside her husband.  Her happy place is her kitchen, and cookfasteatslow.com is her blog about her everyday simple food, her faith and her family.

 

Celebrating is Important

The news is heavy today.  Despite the uncertainty or perhaps because of it,  this post of Simone’s couldn’t be timed better.   My heart felt lighter and my soul felt ready to face the world again when I’d finished reading it.  Celebrations are important.  Now more than ever.  Can I encourage you to set aside the news cycle for a moment and read this instead.  Live brave, sister! Meredith xo

BY SIMONE GRAHAM

With Christmas looming and BBQ season cranking up, it can feel a bit overwhelming if you find yourself having to play host when it’s not really your thing. I write a blog called Great Fun etc which is known for its party posts, but can I let you in on a little secret? I’m not naturally a party person. I’m not an extrovert, I don’t like crowds and I struggle day-to-day with organisation. Yet somehow we have managed to create a family culture where we love to celebrate.

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Every birthday, anniversary, and special occasion will see us hosting a party of some kind.  (Which is kind of odd because I am actually a bookworm introvert). This started out slowly. In the early years birthday parties were at Chipmunks Indoor playground, and I’d attempt a cake. But somehow over the years I discovered that I enjoyed making people feel special. And welcome. And I loved creating an atmosphere, using my imagination, using what I have to create a bit of magic… Long before I blogged I began loving creating parties – because of the memories and the warm fuzzy feeling that came when I made my kid or my friends or my hubby feel important.

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Nowadays, we love to have people over and spend time with special people enjoying an occasion together. I can whip up a mean party in half a day. I’ve learnt some tricks (mainly how to stay calm, how to minimise the workload and to always, always have a rain plan).

If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you’ll know it can be a little bit overwhelming – all that cleverness. If we start to compare our efforts with just a fraction of what we see there we can start to feel terribly inadequate and awfully overwhelmed. So don’t bother comparing. Stop looking at Pinterest, if it’s making you feel that way.

What matters is not that everything at your celebration is themed and Picture perfect – what matters is that you celebrate.

It matters that your guests feel welcomed and that the birthday person feels special. What matters is that you enjoy yourself too, and that memories are made because you’ve spent time with people who matter to you, not that you got hung up on hosting the perfect Pinnable Party.

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Even though I delight in coming up with creative ideas for the celebrations we host, I’m more into making memories and a little bit of magic, not starring on Pinterest with big budget professional parties. I love at-home parties that don’t just look pretty but are fun to be at.

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Round here, we’re fans of the deceptively-simple, we like to re-use, upcycle and get creative. We involve our kids in the planning and preparation, we get a kick out of being clever and focus on having fun.  All our parties are home-made, on a budget and absolutely enjoyed by all (kids and adults alike).

When it comes to birthdays, we believe celebrating each other is a way of showing appreciation and letting each person know that they’re valued and special. At Christmas, we’ve learnt that less is more and magic moments are more likely when you’re not stressed by trying to do too much (but that’s a whole other story).

Celebration is such a part of our family culture now. For us, Celebrations are a must.  They are a highlight. A bright spot. A peak in what can sometimes feel like a year of valleys. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” the Proverb says. And so it does.

When things are feeling grim and heavy, throw a party – even if it’s just you and your kids. Celebrations don’t have to involve crowds of people or weeks of planning. Sometimes an impromptu “party for no reason” can brighten up a dull or disastrous week.

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To help with impromptu parties we have:

  •  a pretty impressive dress-up collection which has been added to over nine years
  •  a crafty box, filled with bits and bobs, a glue gun and leftover party bits, like balloons
  •  a cake decorating drawer, filled with food colouring, squeezy tubes of gel icing, sprinkles,
  • cachous and candles (again, collected and added to over the years)
  •  jar lanterns, candles, Christmas lights,  fabric bits,  mosquito nets and tablecloths, for
  • decoration
  •  a collection of face paints and glitter, added to over time, from the good old dollar store
  •  a brazier that we light and sit around – cooking sausages, toasting marshmallows and playing games

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It takes half an hour to whip up a batch of Cupcakes, and set up a pretty table. We raid the cupboards for fruit to chop, popcorn to pop and marshmallows to make it a bit festive. Sometimes we call the neighbours and invite them to share the goodies; sometimes we party on our own. We turn on some music and dance (or ride bikes or have a water fight). Instant party. Impromptu parties are so enjoyable, truly.

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We often throw one during the school holidays. I make sure to invite mums I want to hang out with who have children my kids will enjoy playing with. Everyone brings food to share (“something festive”). I call it a party, and once you call it a party, it is one. 

Throwing the odd party for no reason might be the very thing you need to boost your spirits, every now and then! You may be surprised at how easy it is. All you need is some bunting, a few friends and some cake.  If you don’t have bunting, just friends and cake.  If you can’t find friends at short notice, just cake and bunting and your kids.

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There should always be cake (but you can always train your kids to bake it). A birthday party need take no more work than this, really. When it comes to birthdays, the crucial thing is not the decor, it’s the celebration. Taking a day to let someone know they are a special and valued member of the family. That they are loved and appreciated. King or Queen for a day. Celebrated.

That’s why we party.

A full list of all our parties, including photos can be found here {click}

simone

 Simone Graham blogs at Great Fun etc  she is a Party Nut, Mother, Wife, Book Lover, Blogger, Human Being.  She’s coming to you from Auckland, New Zealand, where she lives with her crazy family in a 1920’s bungalow which she loves to DIY.

 

 

 

Book List Christmas 2015 {Adult Edition}

by MEREDITH DONKIN

Giving books is my favourite thing to do.  Firstly,  I’m convinced of the ability of books to bring tangible change/healing/encouragement/wisdom and secondly, they’re really easy to gift wrap.  One particularly busy Christmas, when I had littles, I decided all my friends and extended family were being given books.  It was the simplest and most fun Christmas shopping I’ve ever done.  I thought of each person’s distinct personality, shopped online for their book and had it delivered to my doorstep.  It was wonderful! Continue reading “Book List Christmas 2015 {Adult Edition}”