Summer 2018 Book Recommendations​

Reading is a major part of my life and I wanted to share some fiction recommendations. You’ll notice a darker pattern but all of them had me thinking about how I don’t need to judge anyone because I don’t know their full story. I might never know their reason or reasons. Each one reminded me I just need to be kind, not think I’m entitled to understanding everything. I am called to love, not be a judge. That’s God job.

Spoilers ahead for some book content.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

A dark twist on a classic with a wholly original character thrust into a life she never wanted because of an accident that happened in her not so distant past. Learning she was being sent away to boarding school, Jane runs into woods near a ravine. Running, she cuts her arm and her cousin follows. He takes advantage of the moment as he precedes to sexually assault her. Jane protests and threatens to tell her aunt and he stops, asking if they can be friends again. To accent her “NO!” Jane pushes him in fear he may attack again, but he slips on loose rocks falling back into the ravine killing him. Jane walks away.

I love how Jane becomes social justice vigilante as each nightmare unfolds around her. The romance is perfect! Her friendships are just as twistedly complicated as Jane is. You will love the twist with the constable that keeps finding Jane throughout the book.  I’m sorry if I didn’t describe the book as I should but give it a chance and thank me later.

Alice by Christina Henry (First in The Chronicle of Alice series)

Not sure if anyone has played Alice: Madness Returns (Dr. Bumby deserved it!), but if you did you have an idea what this book is about.  Alice teams up with Hatcher as they escape the asylum. Once escaped, Alice goes on an adventure to reclaim her memories of what happened to her along with falling somewhat in love with Hatcher. All she knows is when her family found her all those years ago she kept saying “Rabbit”. Alice brings back beloved characters like the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, and the Walrus all as mob bosses in a magical territory war.

A twisted, fun magical ride in a world that draws from the genius mind of Lewis Carrol. Fans of original Alice in Wonderland will love this fantasy adventure. Read Red Queen if you enjoy Alice to continue your journey down the rabbit hole.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

Set after the Great War, a nurse takes a job at a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers to discover the hospital is haunted and forms a relationship with a mysterious patient who admitted himself. As tragedy strikes the isolated hospital of the medical kind secrets of the haunting, the hospital’s former occupants, and secrets hidden by the nurse herself come to light.

I love the heart in this book most of all. The slow, steady build of friendship the nurse forms with each patient is heartbreakingly sweet. It makes you have deep sympathy for those who suffered and still do suffer as survivors of war. Near the end when the mysterious patient tells his story of how he decided to admit himself made me want to hug him. Everybody is likable and you’ll miss out if you don’t get know these amazing characters who haunt you long after you’ve put the book down.

What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this summer or summers past?

Blessing and Peace 🙂



Minimalism and Our Meditation Practice

Scripture Reference: Matthew 6:19-21

There’s an art to minimalism that doesn’t have anything to do with what we have. The art of minimalism begins within our minds. Convincing our mind to let go of shoe boxes we don’t need because we had plans for them. Convincing our mind, we’re going to wear those clothes we never wear. No matter how cute they are. Letting go is not a function of the mind most of us are good at using. The key to let go is finding a balance between what’s needed and what’s not.  

How can we achieve this balance? Meditation. While physically letting go of material goods, we can leave thought patterns of old habits lying around. Piling up, waiting to undermine our progress. Today in our meditation practice, let’s focus on the following in regards to an item or items we know we don’t need but keep holding on to:

Could ___benefit someone else?  

When was the last time I used ___?

Why am I resistant to letting go of ___?

What was my motive for buying ___?

Do I really need ___? Or just want to find any reason to keep ___?

Extra Credit: Material goods are just the start of finding the balance we seek. In our digital lives, what excess are we holding on to? We have inboxes stuffed with emails selling to us, phone apps we never use, various social media accounts and the list goes on.  Yet learning to let go is a process not to be rushed. Take it one day at a time enjoying the freedom created by an uncluttered life.

Take Off Your Rose Colored Glasses

Scripture reference: Romans 7: 14-25 (CSB translation)

January of 2018, I didn’t make any resolutions. I didn’t make any plans or map out goals on how I was going to champion 2018 instead, I made myself a promise. A promise to not lie about anything regarding who I am or how I feel.  Lies, even white lies, are heralds of disaster as the long game is impossible to predict. Lying is against my moral compass, as a believer in Christ but of course, that compass is held by a very human hand. Mistakes are made, but it’s how I recover by removing the rose-colored glasses to keeping me blinded to changes I must make. 

Thinking positive is a hoax fed to us by so many that the real culprit is never going to be found. While I’m not against being happy or clinging to a gold nugget of joy, I don’t see how crushing my feelings in a box painted with “the best is yet to come”, peace signs’, and yellow smiling faces are going to make any of us feel better. Happier. Embracing our struggles is not giving up and wallowing in the past defeats. It’s a step in living a life that can impact our world. We remove our blinders going forth into a world full of people who are still blind.  Paul writes to us in Romans with a perfect example of what I’m trying to say.

Verses 22-23, “For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.” Here, Paul is being honest with himself about his struggle as a follower of Christ, not painting his struggle with a happy shiny lie and a smiling face.  Once we’ve stopped lying to ourselves we can see the problem a clearer now that our pain isn’t dressed up in a pink tutu. It’s then “by the spirit we put to death the deeds of the body” we can live an authentic joy filed life.  We see where our challenges are and how much we need God to lead us.

Blessing and Peace :),



No More Lonely People

We know what it feels like to be crushingly alone. Maybe if you’re like me being alone, as a choice, is your preferred way to spend time. Yet, when you’re forced to be alone even God seems to be miles away.  We then meet and make “friends” with Loneliness.  As Loneliness settles into various cracks and corners of our minds we sink deeper into the abyss with the surface fading fast.  This is the time to remember Christ is our eternal friend, who “sticks closer than a brother”. Christ can seem distant based on our feelings, but feelings aren’t absolute truth. 

Harsh as the above statement is when walking through loneliness, we need to hear it. Feelings are changeable. So how do we change how we feel? Change out routine for starters. Visualize loneliness as a starving, ravenously hungry monster just released from prison. To gather strength, it eats comfort food, easy to find comfort food (ex. the reasons why we’re lonely). Changing our thoughts isn’t what I’m talking about. I mean to take physical action to continue to starve our loneliness further beginning the process of freedom.

Ways to starve the “monster”:

  • Put down the phone.

Studies have shown social media increases a discontent in our lives. We don’t think about our browsing others’ lives deep enough until we look at our own page. We don’t have the smiling group, amazing cruise photo’s, our kids aren’t winning trophies like that etc. It has become routine for us to live in a digital backyard gazing longingly into the windows of other people. So, put down your phone and take a walk. Science has proven walking increase feel-good hormones.

  • Satisfy your curiosity.

All this method takes is a car, maybe coffee/tea if you’re tired, and the library. What has you curious, what have you always wanted to know more about? Distract yourself constructively while learning about what modern décor goes best with your star sign, how to defend your relationship to Christ, how to meal plan food with flavor, or how to draw 3D art. The world is your oyster!  

  • Volunteer

There are many causes needing (wo)man power to make the difference. Giving money is a start, but it’s a soul-lifting feeling to hands-on see what your hard work creates. If you attend church I can guarantee one ministry or another needs help. If you just donate some items and pass them out at outreach event you claimed a victory over the “monster”.

  • Take yourself on a date!

Is a concert coming up? A new restaurant you’ve wanted to try? Go do those things! You are an amazing person so don’t wait for someone else to tell you that! Treat yourself has become meme worthy, trivializing it, but take back what it means to love yourself and do what makes you happy! If eating alone is scary, order takeout from that new restaurant and sit in the park listening to a podcast (I suggest Rabbits).

My hope is this post is some help to those who are feeling lonely today. Know Christ is ever present and a whisper away. Take a chance today because you are awesome- I mean that.

We need better Answers

Reading Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace lately, I’ve realized while I love Jesus I can’t defend my relationship to others in a transformative way. In a way that will impact their souls. On Forensic Faith’s website, a test asks you how you would respond to each question. You have 21 minutes to answer them.

Here are the questions:

  1. Why are you a Christian?
  2. What evidence do you have to believe God exist?
  3. Why do you trust what the Bible has to say about Jesus?
  4. Why would God send people to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus?
  5. If God is all loving and all powerful, why is there so much evil in the world?
  6. If God is the creator of everything, who created God?
  7. Why would a loving God command the total destruction of all Israel’s enemies (including their children and livestock)?

I haven’t taken the test. I’m scared of my answers and I know I can’t answer them as I want to. Worst of all, those who don’t know Christ can better answer why they don’t believe, why they’re gay, why they think the government is out to get them, why aliens exist, and how science is the only “god” they trust. Even worse, I envy those who can stand up and make powerful leaders in my world follow them because they can answer why! Evidence, fake or not, is making a bigger impact than most followers of Christ. I want to change that.

How would you answer the above questions? Let me know in the comments or just share how you struggle as well to defend your faith in Christ. I want to show my love for Christ in this world. To sum up my point Mr. Wallace says it best, “We need better answers”.


Enjoy the Journey, not the destination.

Practicing yoga is a fantastic method to blast away emotional barriers you’ve been experiencing. I love to focus on a few poses or just one that I want improve on. Like comparison for example. By breaking down the pose into various aspects I find a meditative state. Peace even.  Just like a yoga pose, we can get stuck on the end result, not the amazing progress we’re making. Seeing the big picture (or the full pose) can turn your dream into a nightmare.

Quotes like, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” while classic can make us look too far ahead. Enjoying our process and all those steps in between stop being fun. Moments throughout our journeys get lost, moments that shed light on the dark and the light side of who we are. Frankly, forgetting the miles from point A to point B is a sad way to approach our goals. Why not allow each pain, victory, and learning moment show us we are more than the box we put ourselves in?  

God has no limit and as His creation, we are truly limitless. He doesn’t leave us to walk our journey alone but guides us so we don’t lose our way. Trust in Him- walking with Christ will make sure we aren’t bored by the unique path we all walk.  

Journey meditation ( Nothing fancy)

 Connect with where you are in your journey. Don’t compare or judge yourself. Just appreciate the victories, many personal revelations, and challenges you’ve overcome. Imagine yourself on a  forest path if it helps to center you.

Faith Meditation

Start your meditation practice today by reconnecting your body and mind with an intention to breathe in faith and exhale doubts. Do a few rounds of this and go on to the next part.

After connecting with your breath, write down three examples of when your faith was made stronger because of something God did. Let your mind wonder over these examples without focusing or directing your mind to a specific event.

Allow yourself to just drift in this serene space feeling the love of God surround you. When your mind drifts outside your intention to breathe in Faith, go back to the example that keeps coming up strongly.  Dwell there. Don’t try to analyze it. Save that for later.

Once you are ready slowly open your eyes or sit up if you were lying down. Now that you’ve observed its time to analyze why one example stood out more than the other two.

Ask yourself:

  • What lesson did I learn?
  • How did God use that moment to show me more of who He is?
  • Who needs to hear how God moved in my life (my testimony)?

End with a  prayer of thanks and ask God to continue to guide you into an even deeper relationship with Him.

I would love to hear from you and any thoughts you may have. 

Blessings and Peace- Randa 🙂