A book flight is a curated sampling of reading material that shares some defining quality: theme, setting, time frame, subject matter, etc. Like a beverage flight, the samples are selected with care and presented together intentionally with the purpose of expanding the sampler’s horizons, developing literary discernment, and encouraging reflection and analysis as she considers, compares, and contrasts each book.
Ever year, MOPS International puts out a theme that guides the content for individual groups around the world who are working to encourage and equip moms of young children to realize their potential as women, mothers, and leaders. The last two years have brought themes I found to be very in touch with the heartbeat and struggles of women in general, not just moms. This year’s theme – Free Indeed – is no different.
And because I’m a total nerd, my mind goes to all the books that speak directly to the theme and three focuses for the year – Let Love Be The Loudest Voice, Be Gutsy, and Go First. Even if you’re not a mom, we all want to experience freedom and love. These books will point you in the right direction.
Just to be clear – this post is not endorsed or sponsored by MOPS International. I’m just a MOPS participant who thinks in books. :)
What do you long for? What is the thing that your heart craves? Is it possible that your deepest desire is to be free? Free from worry. Free from feeling stuck. Free from hustling to be loved. Free from a heaviness you can’t put your finger on. Free from thinking you should be someone other than exactly who you are. At the core, maybe what we are all longing for is to be Free Indeed.
Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She Is Both Too Much and Not Enough by Haley Morgan and Jess Connolly
Two very different women have united to share their belief that God calls us to be both wild, “walking in who God created us to be,” and free, “resting in what Jesus has done for us.” In alternating perspectives, Jess and Hayley talk about the hurts, insecurities and fears that cause us to feel like too much or not enough and the grace that covers them all. Maybe my favorite part of the book is a short, 14 line anthem to being wild and free.
Mom Set Free: Find Relief from the Pressure to Get It All Right by Jeannie Cunnion
This newer release (August 2017) seemed tailor made for Free Indeed (even the feather on the cover fits with the bird graphics MOPS is using this year) so I pre-ordered it and found myself acting like a bobblehead, nodding along to all Jeannie’s words. The desire (and resulting struggle) to be a perfect mom is real. With that desire comes fear – fear that you’r not doing it right, that you’ll ruin your kids, that you’re just not good enough. Mom Set Free addresses these fears and struggles with freedom and Truth. Jeannie is also the author of Parenting The Wholehearted Child.
Deeper Waters: Immersed in The Life-Changing Truth of God’s Word by Denise J. Hughes
“This book is about determining in our hearts to study God’s Word and obey God’s voice because, when we do, we’re set free from the brokenness that binds us and the sinful patterns that permeate our choices” (126). I might contend that this book is about more than that, but it’s hard to argue that God’s Word holds the key (Jesus!) to freedom.
Deeper Waters is a well crafted memoir interspersed with a teacher’s (Denise is an adjunct professor at a SoCal university) heart to share her knowledge about how to study and connect with the Bible. Even though her story has been punctured with a lot of heartache, Denise’s stories are permeated with a gentleness that is so enticing. I love her simple method of studying the Bible (I’ve done one of her Word Writers studies) and have enjoyed incorporating it into my own time with God.
LET LOVE BE THE LOUDEST VOICE
We will bask in the freedom of living loved by understanding who God is, and who we are because of it. We will be free from the need to hustle for our worth, and we will live in the truth that we are already loved and loveable, without all the striving. We will parent with fresh perspective and will treat ourselves with tenderness, because love is the loudest voice we hear, and it is proclaiming freedom and favor.
If you follow Bob Goff at all, you’ll notice he has a certain joie de vivre that lingers around himself and his work. How could you not when you’re office is at Disneyland? He puts hands and feet on love in a way that is contagious and confusing (because who sends flowers to the person who rammed their vehicle so hard it made them airborne?). Love Does is the kind of book you almost wish you hadn’t read because it will cause you to reevaluate life and how you live it.
Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like God Does by Jon Weece
“He [Jon Weece] talks about the power of being present in people’s lives and the beauty of living a life of availability and inconvenience,” says Bob Goff in the introduction. Jon is a pastor of a large church in Kentucky and a darn good story teller. He uses that skill to champion the importance of love in the life and ministry of believers in Christ. Bonus: the book has a grammar theme (makes more sense when you read it, but think verbs, nouns, adverbs in relation to love). I cried and underlined my way through the stories and recommend it all the time. It’s another one of those books you almost wish you hadn’t read because it will prompt change and action.
I’ve always enjoyed words and been pretty good at manipulating them to communicate. I like the creativity inherent in choosing words and witnessing them connect to others. But it wasn’t until I became a mom that I truly saw how powerfully words can effect others, both negatively and positively. It’s always gut-wrenching to watch my kiddos crumple under the weight of my words when I lose my temper and it’s a delight to see them snuggle into the security of gentle, kind speech. Not matter what age or stage we are, we have the ability to speak love, as well as do love (like Bob!). With her trademark humor and honesty, Annie Downs takes on the power of words in Speak Love.
Sometimes we don’t take responsibility for our lives. We carry the weight of expectations, feeling out of control over the pace and trajectory of our days. Being gutsy is about realizing that you get to decide how busy you are, what you say yes to, what is best for your family and what you make a priority in your mothering. The truth is, we have more authority to shape our daily lives than we think we do. Your life can match your values and your passions, it will just take some guts to make it happen.
Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
Brené Brown’s entire body of work would fit nicely in the Free Indeed theme so it was hard to choose one book. No one can describe this book better than Brené: “Daring Greatly is about what it takes to bust through the fear of not being good enough and not being perfect enough and not being bullet-proof enough, the fear of failing. Instead of asking yourself what would you do if you couldn’t fail, ask yourself what’s worth doing even if I fail?”
Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
A book about personality may not be an obvious pick for this category, but I’ve found that having a deeper understanding of who I am and how I relate to others helps me make wiser, more gutsy, choices in life and parenting. Anne, of Modern Mrs. Darcy, gives and engaging, clear overview of 8 personality frameworks and does a great job of illustrating how you use this information to not only learn about yourself, but also understand how you interact with others. I’ve already returned to the chapters on cognitive functions and the Enneagram multiple times.
You still have time to pre-order and get good bonuses (like the audiobook, read byAnne, free and access to her Reading Personality class). This gem releases 9/19.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
I will read anything Shauna writes. Present Over Perfect, her fifth book, is a bit more prescriptive than the descriptive narrative running throughout her other books, but my soul will always resonate with simplicity and slow-living. While the entire book fits right in with the idea of being gutsy, I keep returning to one of the first chapters entitled You Put Up The Chairs. Shauna starts with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that perfectly describes what it means to be gusty in the context of Free Indeed: “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over.”
It is a fact that freedom is contagious. That is why we are choosing to go first in order to spark a revolution of women who are choosing freedom over fear. Going first is about being courageous enough to take steps before you are ready, to share the details of your journey, to extend invitations and conquer fears, and lead the way for friends and kids and family. In fact, one of the best ways to advocate for others’ freedom is to go first ourselves, and then we can share with courage and honesty because we have found the keys of freedom. We will go first so that we can set other captives free.
Permission To Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace by Anne Jackson
One of my best friends has the spiritual gift of being vulnerable (I totally made that spiritual gift up but I do think it’s a legit gift). We’ve been friends since childhood and she’s always been willing to go first in sharing her struggles with me and those around her. Anne Jackson would call this “going first” as giving the gift of seconds. It’s always easier to do something when someone else has gone before you, paving the way. Ten plus years after reading Permission To Speak Freely, I’m still thinking about this book.
People of The Second Chance: A Guide To Bringing Life-Saving Love To The World by Mike Foster
People of The Second Chance is an ode to grace and love and the freedom that is inherent in our identity as one beloved by God. It could have easily been in the Let Love Be The Loudest Voice category, but Mike goes first by sharing details about his own life that squeezed my heart, making me reflect on the parts of my own life that are equally broken and in need of the second chance we have in Christ. I particularly resonated with Chapter Six about changing our inner dialogue.
Many of these fit within multiple categories and there are so many books I haven’t read that would be keeping with the Free Indeed theme. Have you read any these or have suggestions for this book flight?