Tag Archives: Alicia C. Hall

Wednesday Reads: Summer Has Entered the Building

Summer has entered the building. Okay, well maybe not all the way in the building for some of you, but at least he/she is in the parking lot. That means graduations (from Pre-K, K, 5th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade, college), family vacations, kids repeating “I’m bored”, and a myriad of other “things” that make summer so great and sometimes so exhausting.

So to fill those days with some purposeful even frivolous reading, here’s a few books to consider for the people in your life.

For the female graduate (middle or high school):

9781414375243_p0_v1_s260x420Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin – the title alone will grab most girls’ attention. Flip over to the back cover and they’ll be even more interested:

All I wanted was asking for at fifteen was to belong, to be love, and to be a part of something. Deep down, I wanted to be loved, not for a night but for a lifetime. I wanted to be found beautiful because of who I was, not what I looked like. I wanted so much, and my Christian life seemed to provide me with so little. 

Tindell’s vulnerability oozes through the pages. She speaks to young women as if she was the best friend they never had. One who tells the truth about high school, friendship, boys, and sex. It isn’t preachy; it’s honest and raw. She reveals the “ugly side of sin and the amazing redemptive power of a Savior who” loves us desperately. As a women who has worked almost exclusive with teens all of her life, I cannot recommend this book enough.

The-Selection-Series-768x1024 Selection Series by Keira Cass – This four-book (with a promise of a 5th) is a cross between The Bachelor and the book of Esther. In true dystopian fashion, Cass has given female readers less gore and more romance. The female lead is strong yet feminine, while the male lead is dashing and masculine. Their characters are not without flaws including stubbornness and secret scars. Aside from the four novels, there are several novellas which depict side stories told from different characters points of view. With just the series alone, the girl in your house could fill and entire summer with reading. (Click here to see a Wednesday Reads dedicated to the first book.)

For the Adult Female (this could be you)

me_before_you_final3Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Fair warning: I’m two-thirds of the way through with this book and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna end sadly. However, I am intrigued by the two main characters: a 20-something female who lives a uneventful, normal life and a 20-something year old male quadriplegic, who lived a fascinating, adventurous life before his injury.  Both characters are multi-layered and the heart of the plot is controversial and thought-provoking. While it sounds like a heavy read, I have found it to be more of just great story telling. Read it and let me know what you think.


7244809_GGo Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee – This is the “assumed to have been lost” novel that Harper Lee tried to sell to publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird was published. Since TKAM is one of my all-time favorite books, I will be purchasing my copy in advance. In fact, I will be getting a physical book just as a keepsake.  Here’s a brief summary provided by the publisher:

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

For the Men in Your Life (sons, husbands, etc)

Unbroken-MovieUnbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – if the man in your life have seen the movie, they will still enjoy the book. In fact, the movie didn’t even do justice to Louis Zamporini’s story.  The historical facts surrounding WWII that Hillenbrand presents alongside Louis story are utterly fascinating and will increase your appreciation of not only veterans but what our military sacrifice even today. So worth every page that is written. (Can’t get the men in your life to read, try the book on DVD. It’s wonderful too! Side note: Rory’ Gilmore’s TV grandfather reads the audio version.)

41NHKOqQHqL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Dangerous Faith: True Stories of Answering The Call to Adventure by James Lund and Peb Jackson – (Great for male graduates) The publisher’s summary says it all:

Meet the called: mountain climbers, deep-sea divers, fighter pilots, and jungle missionaries who follow God into the adventure of a lifetime. Dangerous Faith tells their dramatic true stories, revealing incredible truths only risk can inspire.

Each of these trailblazers rejects security to reach for a perilous place few Christ-followers dare. Their stories will thrill and amaze you. What they discover just might revolutionize your life–because He’s calling you, too, into a life of risk.

Adventure. Passion. Freedom. Truth. Are you prepared for a Dangerous Faith?

For the Kiddos in your Life (elementary age – to read themselves or to be read aloud by you)

A_wrinkle_in_time_digest_2007A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’engle – What a classic that should be shared generation after generation. A touch of magic, blended with deep truth, and loads of plot twisting suspense. Possibly the best book to ever start off with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Read it with the kids and share in its amazingness all over again.





wonder_rj-palacio_coverWonder by R.J. Palacio – a powerful tale of a young boy with a disfigured face. Full of life-lessons that will offer hours of family discussions. Here’s a summary provided by the publisher:

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.


Hope this gives you a little nudge to get the family reading this summer.  I know I will be “encouraging” it around my house.

And to get you started, I’m having a book giveaway for a book I’m planning to read this summer. Just leave a comment below letting me know your summer reading plans, I will pick a random winner Friday morning.

51buYyRFFtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The winner will receive a copy of Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer. Check out the book information by clicking here.

Don’t forget to leave a comment!



Spiritual Sprints: Unhooking the Hindrances

Spiritual SpringsWhen running a race, any expert runner will give you this advice: “Don’t wear new running clothes or shoes on the day of a race.” Why? It will prove a hindrance when the non-broken-in shoe begins rubbing blisters on the heels. Or when those cute new running shorts prove to be a distraction as they “ride high” in places they aren’t supposed to go. Ultimately, stick with the broken-in gear that doesn’t distract the runner from the finish line.

My running pace can be hampered by a myriad of obstacles. A frayed string constantly tickling my leg. A loose waistband sliding further down with each step. A headphone cord rhythmically and annoyingly tapping on my arm. Each one of these distractions impedes my mental toughness and diverts my focus. Therefore, I make a point to rid myself of these issues before any run.

Even Paul recognized the struggle runners face when they encounter distractions. He also knew the Christian life would be much the same. Philippians 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . . .”

While most of us recognize the sins part of that verse, we rarely stop and consider the hindrances part. Paul took time to separate the two ideas because they must be examined separately. Sins tend to be a little more obvious, especially with the help of the Holy Spirit. However, hindrances hide.

Wonder where they hide? Let’s look at this modern day — and possibly personal — example. Every afternoon, a woman peruses social media outlets. She encounters various pictures, status updates, and video links. In fact, one picture depicted a family enjoying a glorious trip to the beach. A status update shares that a few old friends got together for a girls night out. Then she watches a video link explaining the Top 10 Must-Have Summer Styles. When she finally signs out, she’s sad and maybe a little angry, but she doesn’t understand why.

Suddenly, it hits her. All those status posts, pictures, and videos have pointed out exactly what she doesn’t have. Due to a recent move, friends whom she could share a girls’ night out don’t exist. With the recent job change, a beach vacation is not in her near future. And one look in her closet quickly reminds her, she does not have any summer “must haves.” However, she does have many other valuables: the possibility of new friendships, a happy family, a fulfilling new job. Yet, she finds herself discontent, rejected, lonely, and unhappy.

All these emotions stirred up from one stroll through the Social Media Park of Perceived Perfections. This, my friends, is a hindrance. Not the social media itself, but the feelings we let it awaken. Now instead of be content and focused on the day’s tasks, we are distracted by unhappiness that bleeds over into our home. We aren’t “sinning” necessarily, but our walk with Christ is hindered because we have stopped focusing on Him and are now focusing on ourselves.

While the “hypothectical” social media example is true, many other life elements can hinder our relationship with God. Consider these:

  1. Lack of discipline – This comes in many forms. It could be in our jobs, our education, our health, our pursuit of God’s call. The list is long.
  2. Worldly-focus – not in the sinful way, but by being more concerned with the needs of this life (money, social status, good job, comfortable home) than the needs of others in this life.
  3. Good “Causes” – this seems to be the cry of today’s generation: justice for the injustice. Yet I worry that the passion for the cause outweighs the passion for Christ.
  4. Hobbies – while these are useful and needful for a balanced life, I’ve often seen lives where hobbies became time-suckers. Take me, for example, my hobby is reading. I could spend entire days laser-focused on a good book and let the world turn without me. If I don’t take guard, my hobby hampers my relationship with Christ and the job He’s asked me to do.

This list is relatively short, but I’m sure you could add a few extra numbers of your own hindrances. While few of these hindrances are sin, they are things that can quickly distract us from our walk with Christ. And a distracted Christian is all Satan needs to keep God from being known.

So today, as you lace up your running shoes, check for those hindrances in your own life. And just as Paul says, “throw them off” and “run with perseverance.”