"As I stood there watching the animals quench their thirst at the still waters, I was again immensely impressed by the fact that everything hinged and depended upon the diligence of the owner, the shepherd. Only through his energy, his efforts, his sweat, his strength could the sheep be satisfied. In the Christian life, exactly the same applies."
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
Based on his years as a shepherd and pastor, Phillip Keller walks through Psalm 23 drawing beautiful parallels of how a shepherd tends to his sheep (and what that actually entails) to how Jesus cares for us. It takes on a fresh meaning of Psalm 23 detailing how tenderly the Lord guides us, protects us, nourishes us, loves us, and has compassion on us. Having this inside look into what a shepherd does, the intricacies of his role, and how the sheep respond, has been so fascinating and much more detailed and complex than I would have previously assumed. It has also been so neat to see how intentional God is with each and every word in the Bible. I have loved reading through this and taking it verse by verse to learn what it means literally for a shepherd and his sheep- and then taking it a step further and learning what it tells me about Jesus and how I can apply this knowledge to my relationship with Him.
"It might be mundane to fold laundry, but it's extraordinary to do it patiently with joy and a heart of love. It might be mundane to sit on the couch and read another book to a whiny four-year-old, but it's extraordinary to show kindness and mercy to an undeserving sinner. It might be mundane to fill the fridge with groceries, but it's extraordinary to praise God for his provision. Our everyday moments might be ordinary, but when we accomplish them while displaying the fruit of the Spirit, they reflect our extraordinary Savior."
Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler
Risen Motherhood is such an incredible ministry that points moms to Jesus through their blog, Instagram, podcast, resources, and more. I was so excited when the founders released this book. Motherhood is hard and chaotic and yet beautiful and sanctifying. This book addresses why the gospel matters in motherhood and what God's purpose is in motherhood. Each chapter is dedicated to an aspect of motherhood and how it all ties into the gospel. The chapters are small yet fruitful and are set up to first present the culture's message of that particular topic and then it walks through the gospel message in four parts: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. There are also discussion questions at the end of each chapter which would make a great book to walk through in a small group. It is the perfect book to pick up and start reading at any chapter such as "The Gospel and Our Mundane Moments" or "The Gospel and our Children with Differences." As moms, we are offered an overwhelming amount of advice (especially worldly advice). What I love about this book is that it directs us to what we mamas need most- the truth of the gospel and Jesus.
"...as I sang those words, I felt more than ever, 'God I know that you have a life for me. I know there's a purpose.' I fully committed to Him- not to myself, or to Thomas Rhett, or to our marriage, or to my parents, but to God...The Lord has a place for me, and I know He's gonna show it to me."
Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes by Lauren Akins
I always found it interesting to learn about Lauren Akins' marriage and life with country star Thomas Rhett and how their faith plays into it all. It is not often you hear high-profile people/celebrities talk genuinely about their faith. It sounds silly to say about someone on social media and in the spotlight but she always does seem genuine and authentic. It is an easy, enjoyable read detailing her childhood and the relationships that have shaped her and her faith, as well as an inside look at her marriage and family. It was neat to read about her honesty on what it was like going from childhood friends with Thomas Rhett to falling in love and then having her husband blow up as a country star. It is easy to look at from the outside and think they have a perfect life but Lauren opens up about the struggles she had with her own identity and within their marriage and how they worked through that with God leading the way. I especially enjoyed reading the journey of their adoption process with their first baby girl. It was beautiful in how the Lord weaved it all together.