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my year of pursuing presence {in books}

my year of pursuing presence {in books}

The first books I wanted to share with you are ones that really helped me walk through my theme of the year: Pursue Presence, which I wrote about here. Some have obvious applications and I picked them up for the purpose of pursuing presence, others I read for another reason but they surprised me by having something to offer me for this particular journey.

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Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist - I love Shauna's writing, but this was my favorite of her books. She shares a lot of her journey towards letting go of perfection/control/managing people's thoughts about you/people pleasing/etc. to live a present life. Some of my struggles are not the same as her's, but there is so much of her story I can strongly identify with. Here are a few of my favorite quotes: 

"Christians ought to be decidedly anti-frantic, relentlessly present to each moment, profoundly grounded and grateful."

"... sometimes brave looks boring."

"As I create space and imagination within myself to be heard by the actual person of Christ, my capacity to hear the people I love is increasing. And my sense of strength, deep inside myself, grows and grows." 

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy - This book talks about presence from a more physical and psychological perspective. You may be familiar with Amy Cuddy's TED Talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. The book dives deep into that and how to be fully present in our bodies as well as in our minds and emotions, so that we can be fully ourselves in challenging situations. She writes, "Presence, as I mean it through out these pages, is the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values, and potential." Honestly, when I decided to spend the year pursuing presence, this is not what I meant, but it turns out this is part of what the Lord had for me. 

Rising Strong by Brené Brown - This lady frequently rocks my world, but this book really stirred some things up in me. I'm planning on slowly re-reading this in 2017 and really fleshing it out. This applies to pursuing presence because it is all about showing up, having courage, rumbling with the hard things, and owning our stories. It's impossible to be present if we are busy hiding, hustling, or pretending. "We turn toward truth and look it in the eye." That's presence. 

Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life by Henri Nouwen - I have read several of Nouwen's books and loved every one. He writes a lot about our identity in Christ as the Beloved, and does so with beautiful honesty about the struggles of being human. He was a Dutch Catholic priest and that is very different from where I've come from and where I am now, and because of that I learn so much from him about the mystery of God. This book was one of my favorite spiritual reads of the year because it really walks through knowing God in our daily lives, tuning into His presence in and around us and discerning Him. I frequently go back and look at my highlights and will read this again, probably more than once. 

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom - You probably know the movie, and you may have read the book. It's a short read of the story of a friendship with a dying man. I accidentally read a lot of books that dealt with old age, death, or the process of dying this year. I could have put several on this list because there is much to learn about the value of presence from such stories. Mitch Albom shares beautifully the clarity that Morrie had about what is important in life and how much it contrasts with the way so many people live. In one conversation he told Mitch, "I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you are with... I am talking to you. I am thinking about you." It's obvious as you read the story how much Morrie's offering of presence to Mitch impacted him, and it really makes you crave being that for others and experiencing it from others. 

come out of hiding {advent}

come out of hiding {advent}

how I became a reader again

how I became a reader again

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