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Beauty

Ten Books to Inspire Beauty in 2017

Here I share 10 books to inspire beauty. Some I’ve read, others I haven’t. Let me explain what I mean by beauty. I’m not talking about Webster’s definition, here. If there’s a personal God who created all things, then we must define beauty relative to Him. The best definition I’ve read goes something like this:

“God himself is the absolutely original pattern of all other beauty…Beauty is what God is. His wisdom is beautiful wisdom, his power is beautiful power, his justice is beautiful justice, and his love is beautiful love. Just as in paintings it is not the isolated color or shape or texture that is beautiful but rather their relationship with each other, their proportion and interplay; so it is with God. It is the harmony of all God’s attributes that constitutes God’s beauty, and makes him the foundation of all the beauty in the world.”

With that in mind, I’ve chosen books that inspire beauty by:

1) Helping us know and love God.

2) Reinforcing the value of human life.

3) Shedding light on the beauty of creation and on our role as creators.

 

1. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

Description: “In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted … a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others.”

Why I loved it: Reading Ann’s writing is like watching an artist paint. Her poetic style sweeps you up into the truth in a way I haven’t experienced with any other author’s work. That gratitude changes everything is the message of Ann’s book. Reading this inspired me to start my own list of 1,000 gifts and, while I haven’t finished it, I do find myself turning toward gratitude more often as a result of reading this.

 

2. The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves by Curt Thompson

Description: “Psychiatrist Curt Thompson unpacks the soul of shame, revealing its ubiquitous nature and neurobiological roots. He also provides the theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle shame, based on years of researching its damaging effects and counseling people to overcome those wounds.”

Why I loved it: I am a huge fan of books that explore the intersection of human psychology and God’s word to expose how they intersect rather than diverge. To be honest, I didn’t realize how much shame I was carrying until I read this. It helped me realize that the messages we receive from ourselves, from others, and from society that tell us “something is wrong with us” or that “we’re intrinsically bad” are tools of the enemy that create doubt about our unconditional acceptance in Christ.

 

3. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Minds by Jen Wilkin

Description: “We all know it’s important to study God’s word. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. How can we, as Christian women, keep our focus and sustain our passion when reading the Bible? Offering a clear and concise plan to help women go deeper in their study of Scripture, this book will equip you to engage God’s word in a way that trains your mind and transforms your heart.”

Why I loved it: I’ve been longing for a practical guide on how to study my bible for years, and Jen gave the answer. If you know deep in your soul that you need to know God’s word better yet are equally overwhelmed at the breadth and depth of it, you’ll love this. This lit a fire in me to study the bible while providing clear step-by-step guidance on how to do just that. I refer to this book and its method regularly in my personal study.

 

4. Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

Description: “In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her.” Working from Scripture, well-known speaker and author Elisabeth Elliot shares her observations and experiences in a number of essays on what it means to be a Christian woman, whether single, married, or widowed.”

What I’m interested: I love being a woman. I know that might sound odd, but I honestly cannot imagine having been created any other way. Elisabeth Elliot and her husband, Jim, are two of my heroes in the faith. I’m particularly excited about reading this book because I see women in my generation grasping tirelessly for something to define them. Instead of looking outward or inward, Elisabeth looks upward to the God who created us understand what it means to be woman.

 

5. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls

Description: “The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents. The memoir spent a total of 261 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.”

Why I loved it: I was late to the party on this one. My parents recommended this about 3 years ago, and I should’ve listened sooner. This is probably one of my top 10 favorite books of all time, and that’s saying something. The way Jeannette writes about her childhood in a dysfunctional family is equally shocking, heartbreaking, and gracious. I closed this book thankful for my family and more aware of the broken ones that exist. Please note that this is not a light book, though it’s a beautiful one. It does have some elements that I’d suggest make it a PG-13 read.

 

6. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Description: “Present Over Perfect is writer Shauna Niequist’s motto for how to live a rich, engaged, and loving life in the midst of what often feels terribly messy and imperfect. In vulnerable, honest stories and beautifully written short essays Shauna offers an invitation to a new way of living—full of grace, space, and connection.”

Why I loved it: Haven’t most of us forgotten what it’s like not to be even the slightest bit stressed? Or to admire people who rest, say “no,” and value quiet and simplicity? Shauna’s message was a drink of water that my soul needed. It’s a tear-jerker in the best of ways. She debunks image-making, secrecy, and unbridled achievement for what they really are: a road to exhaustion. My heart needed to hear this message last fall and to be reminded that it’s 100% okay not to keep up with the pace and busyness that’s commonplace in our society.

 

 

7. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa Terkeurst

Description: “The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences of rejection–from the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over to the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father. She leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection’s ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God.”

Why I loved it: I am always a fan of books that speak to our worth with biblical truth, and this is no exception. Lysa’s story is a reflection of many of ours as women: one of internalizing rejection as a stamp on our identity. This is a good road trip, bedside, or pool-side read for women of all ages.

 

8. How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Description: “All growth is spiritual growth. Authors Drs. Cloud and Townsend unlock age-old keys to growth from Scripture to help people resolve issues of relationships, maturity, emotional problems, and overall spiritual growth. They shatter popular misconceptions about how God operates and show that growth is not about self-actualization, but about God’s sanctification.”

Why I’m interested: Can I get an amen for that line: “Growth is not about self-actualization, but about God’s sanctification”? Yes and yes. How to grow + infusion of scripture + two respectable, Godly authors = a great book.

 

9. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Description: “You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.”

Why I loved it: Imagine a picture book with short subtitles where every sentence switches on a lightbulb about your potential or about the way creativity works in the world. Austin believes everyone is a creator (I do too!), so this is for traditional artists, homemakers, and businessmen and women alike. It’s like getting into the heads of the greatest artists and sneaking a peek at their process, all while inspiring and motivating your own creative work.

 

10. The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun by Brother Yun

Description: “A dramatic autobiography of one of China’s dedicated, courageous, and intensely persecuted house church leaders.”

Why I loved it: I read this when I first started walking more seriously with the Lord in college, and it forever changed what I believed about the power of God to perform miracles and the power of prayer. Whether you’re feeling dry in your faith or on a mountaintop in your journey with Christ, this will remind you that childlike faith and our weaknesses are the greatest canvases for God to work.

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply Erin McDowell

    I loved this post! I want to read them all! I have recently purchased “Uninvited.” The first chapter had me resonating so profoundly, I had to take a short break. ? And then…”Life.” ? I need to get back in it. I am going to put these books on my list. And share “Present Over Perfect” with my mother. I struggled greatly with perfectionism for a long time. I know she, too, would be blessed by this.❤️

    May 20, 2017 at 6:37 PM
    • Reply Natalie Yerger

      I’m so glad, Erin. I’m so glad you’re adding some of the books to your list! Present Over Perfect is so great – I think the message would resonate with women of all ages, especially in today’s go go go culture.

      May 26, 2017 at 8:39 AM
  • Reply Sunny Banks

    Natalie! This has encouraged me! I’m excited to read more, as I only had a few minutes this morning. You have read a lot of encouraging books like “women of the word” and “uninvited” that will be good for me to read! I also like that I see a consistent theme if being cherished by Christ not just nourished. We learned on a marriage retreat that God does both for us and wants there to be a spiritual culture of both cherish and nourish in our relationships. I have more of a nourish bent and can forget how perfectly and unconditionally God loves us. Looking forward to reading more and getting to know better😊

    June 29, 2017 at 10:38 AM
    • Reply Natalie Yerger

      I’m so glad you visited, Sunny! Your words mean a lot. Yes, please come back and visit my site!

      June 30, 2017 at 10:57 AM

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