Want to know what my Top Favorite Books were that I read in 2018? Well, of the 70 books I read, I picked 4 favorites. These were the four that impacted me the most and are the ones that I will carry lessons from for years to come.

By the way, I realized in looking back over the books I read this past year that I didn’t do a good job of tracking all of them that I read… and that this was the first year where I didn’t feel like I had hard time narrowing the list down to only 10 titles. In fact, as I looked over all of the books I read the past few weeks, there were only four titles I knew needed to for sure be on this list.

I’m not sure if I only came up with 4 titles because I didn’t track what I read as well as I usually do so I’m forgetting about a few titles that I read (but I feel like if I’m forgetting them, then they likely didn’t deeply impact me, right?), or because I didn’t read self-help books, or because I read fewer books this past year than I often do, or because I just picked lots of meh titles?

At any rate, in 2019, I’m finally switching over to using Good Reads to track my reading. I’ve been really impressed with it so far and am excited about using it to keep a log of what I’m reading, my thoughts on the books, and to see my reading progress.

I’m not sure if my account is public? If it is, you can see it here. (I decided that I don’t think I’m going to accept friend requests on it, just because I don’t want to use it like social media, but just to track what I read. Can you see my profile page if you’re not my friend? I wasn’t sure on that. Let me know — I’m new to Good Reads, clearly!)

1. Mom Set Free

This book is SO good. I slowly savored it — reading just a little bit every day — to make it last as long as I could and to really soak in the truths from it.

If you struggle with Mommy Guilt or feel like you are always failing or never doing enough or just can’t get it right as a mom, this book will encourage you in powerful ways!

I shared more how this quote impacted me on Instagram:

It’s not the perfect parenting book. Or the right chore chart. Or whether we feed our kids enough organic food. Or if we homeschool. Or if we give our kids enough opportunities. Or if we protect them enough…

We can’t save our kids, bubble wrap our kids, fix our kids, or transform their hearts.

We can sure exhaust ourselves trying, though. We can stress and worry over them. We can feel frustrated and overwhelmed by their actions. We can live in fear over their futures.

But none of that accomplishes anything worthwhile.

There is one thing we CAN do and that is to pray. And I believe it’s one of the greatest things we can do on behalf of our kids

Because — as I am learning anew — prayer changes us. One thing I try to do almost every day is to I start my day on the treadmill running & praying over the day and praying for Jesse and each of my kids.

It’s an important piece of my day… to acknowledge my need for God’s help in my parenting, to pray for specific areas where my kids are struggling, to thank God for how He’s working in their hearts, to release my stresses and frustrations in parenting to God, and to ask Him to give me grace to love each of my kids in a way that makes them feel loved.

I’ve noticed that this time in prayer for my kids not only calms me and helps me to rest in Christ’s finished work on the Cross, it also changes my heart and attitude toward my kids, too. You see, I’m much more apt to respond to them in grace and love when I’ve just prayed that I can love them well and walk with them well! 😉

Here was another quote I loved that really impacted me and here was yet another quote. Suffice it to say, this such a good read and one that I highly, highly recommend!

Note: You can listen to the podcast episode that the author and I did together here on The Secret to Being a Happier Mom.

2. Chasing Excellence

I randomly picked up this book called Chasing Excellence from a search on Amazon. I didn’t even know who Ben Bergeron was when I bought the book.

I just was so inspired by watching the athletes at the CrossFit Games that I went on Amazon and searched for, “CrossFit athletes”. It pulled up Tia-Clair Toomey’s book and then Chasing Excellence was recommended, too.

It’s rare that Amazon steers me really wrongly, so when I read the premise for Chasing Excellence and thought it sounded intriguing and worth reading, I bought the book.

Little did I know that this book was going to become the basis for my word for 2019!

This book was one of those that you wanted to read both quickly and slowly. Quickly, because you wanted to gobble it all up as it was so good. Slowly, because you wanted to savor it as it was so good and you didn’t want it to end.

For those who are unfamiliar with the author like I was, Ben Bergeron, is a coach to some of the world’s most well known CrossFit athletes. If you love CrossFit, you must read this book. But even if you don’t care a tiny bit about CrossFit, this book is packed with nuggets of truth and inspiration.

The entire time I was reading Chasing Excellence, I was so inspired and moved and challenged. And instinctively, I knew I wanted to pick the word EXCELLENCE for 2019.

But it also scared me a lot. Wouldn’t this go against everything I had been learning and growing in? Wasn’t my heart’s desire to continue to work on savoring life, not living life at breakneck speed, and not feeling like I needed to hustle and climb a ladder to success?

And yet, I couldn’t get this word out of my mind and heart. So I took September and October to mull over it.

I realized there were many areas in my life where I was settling for mediocrityI wasn’t intentionally pursuing excellence; I was just doing what I’d done for a long time because it was getting me by.

I had gotten stuck in a lot of ruts. They weren’t terrible ruts; but they were ruts and I wasn’t seeing a lot of forward momentum. I also wasn’t feeling super excited and motivated in many parts of my life — especially as a business owner, in some of my personal disciplines and habits, and when it came to growing as a person.

Yes, I wasn’t failing (in most areas). Yes, I was doing a decent job (in most areas).

But do I want to just do a decent job at life? Or do I want to pursue excellence?

Y’all, I want to pursue excellence. And so, it was decided: My word for 2019 is EXCELLENCE. And I’m really excited about it!

Note: Read more about why I chose the word excellence and how I want to walk it out in my life here.

3. Sacred Rest

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. It addresses rest from a very different perspective than other books I’ve read on this topic and I loved how it wasn’t just about getting more sleep or slowing down or taking a Sabbath.

This book is written by a doctor (Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith) and I thought the author’s medical background shed a lot of wisdom on the topic of rest and how being well rested impacts our lives.

However, what really stood out to me in this book was the author’s differentiation between the types of rest we need — physical rest, mental rest, emotional rest, spiritual rest, social rest, sensory rest, and creative rest. I had never heard rest and our need for the different kinds of rest broken into these categories and I found it very insightful.

In fact, it helped me to understand why I can feel drained sometimes — even if I’ve been getting plenty of sleep. I might not be rested in other areas such as getting creative rest or sensory rest or social rest.

And I loved the practical suggestions that the book gave for ways to recognize which kinds of rest you are lacking in and how to get more of each kind of rest in your life.

Note: Listen to the podcast episode I did with the author on The Real Reason You’re So Tired.

4. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

My friend, Melissa, gave me this book and said it had really impacted her life. I hadn’t heard of it before and wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it.

Then I started reading… and within a few chapters, I knew it was going to be one of those really life-changing books. The book is all about how our emotional and spiritual health are so tied together and how we often overlook this.

The author talks about how often we seem to think that our past and our baggage and all the things we try to pretend don’t exist or stuff down or not deal with won’t affect us in the long run… but it will!

There are so many things I gleaned from this book and so many sections that challenged me in deep ways. I feel like I will be processing its message for a long time to come.

One of the areas in the book that really encouraged me was to recognize how much the changes I’ve made in the last two years to slow down and savor life more. I realize how these changes have truly allowed me to become so much healthier as a person — physically, mentally, and spiritually.

There were numerous quotes that I loved from the book, but one that I shared on Instagram was this:

“True freedom comes when we no longer need to be somebody special in other people’s eyes because we know we are lovable and good enough.”

In Christ, we are enough. We are loved. We are redeemed. We are forgiven.

When we live in light of this truth, we can walk in amazing freedom and confidence — and we can love other people so much more deeply and authentically.

I’ll be back in the next week to share my list of 40 books I plan to read in 2019. Stay tuned!

What were YOUR favorite books from 2018? Any books you really think I should read in 2019? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

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