Wendy van Eyck

5 Books I Read Recently that I'd Recommend You Read

I read a lot of books. Most of the books I read are historical fiction novels. They are easy, light reading that helps me relax after a work day but very rarely are they the type of books that I would tell a friend asking for a good book to read. Every now and again I find a few stand out novels and you'll see a couple of those here.

In amongst all these novels I scatter a few memoirs and non-fiction in for good measure. These are the books I read when my brain is feeling fresh or I feel I need some stimulation. I've added a couple that I've read recently in to this list.

I don't have a large book budget so I wait for a book to go on sale before I buy it. I subscribe to gospelebooksmodernmrsdarcy and bookbub to find out what books are on sale (or sometimes even free) for Kindle. I find almost all of the books I read through these three sites.

Here are 5 books I've read in the last few weeks that I've loved and would recommend to you to try. 

While I bought these books on sale that doesn't mean they're still on sale so please check the price of the books before purchasing. 

Full disclosure: if you click on a link and buy a book I will a get a small percentage from the purchase which I'll probably use to buy more books. So if you feel inspired to make a purchase thank you!


The Introvert Advantage: How quiet people can thrive in an Extrovert World - Marti Olsen Laney

Xylon is so tired of hearing me talk about this book. Of all the books I've read this year this one is having the most profound effect on my "well" journey. I've known for most of my life that I'm an introvert and that unlike extroverts I don't draw energy from socialising or spending time with others. This book is allowing me to feel that it is good to be an introvert from the very first page I felt myself nodding and thinking, "Someone else gets it." If you're an introvert or love someone who is I'd recommend this book. 

At the time of this post this book was still on sale for around USD2. 

Buy this book here



I will carry you - Angie Smith

Trigger warning: Miscarriage, Infant death

This book is about grief and joy. It's a hard read but then isn't every book about loss going to be that way because they make us look at our immortality through the lens of someone else's pain and hope. I have a friend who carried a child to term knowing that it wouldn't survive more than a few hours outside of her womb so I read this book with her in mind.  I Will Carry You tells the powerful story of a parent losing her child, interwoven with the biblical story of Lazarus to help those who mourn to still have hope.

Buy this book here



Gods and Kings - Lynn Austin

This is the first book in a five part series. I've only read the first one so far but I loved how it brought the bible to life for me and reminded me that it's not just a story but a book about real people. Gods and Kings is the story of King Hezekiah, heir to the throne of King David. When his evil father plots to sacrifice him, Hezekiah's mother, Abijah, searches frantically for a way to save him. But only two men can help her, and neither of them seems trustworthy. In a time and place engulfed by violence, treachery, and infidelity to Yahweh, Abijah and her son must discover the one true Source of strength if they are to save themselves and their country.

At the time of this post this book was still on sale for around USD6. 

Buy this book here


Veil of fire - Marlo Schalesky

This is novel but it's based on an actual historical event - one of the worst fires in history - a blaze that destroyed six towns including Hinckley and killed 418 people in four hours in Minnesota of 1894.  In the aftermath of the fire, the town of Hinckley rises from the ashes, its people determined to rebuild their lives. But in the shadows, someone is watching, someone is waiting, someone who knows the secrets the fire lay bare. A rumor spreads of a mysterious figure that haunts the hills; monster, a ghost, or a memory? It's one of those books that is so well written it has you savouring the turn of phrase, as well as hoping that the story won't end. It's a suspenseful thriller (that won't keep you from sleeping if you're like me and tend to get freaked out by weird thriller type books). 

Buy this book here


Christian Living

The story of God's love for you - Sally Lloyd-Jones

I was sent an advance reading copy of this book by the publisher but it ended up sitting on my bedside table for months. For some reason in the last few weeks I picked it up and started reading a chapter every other day or so. It is a beautiful retelling of the bible and it's been reminding me how much God loves me and making me open up read my bible with fresh eyes. My only hesitation in recommending it is that it's seems like it's written for children. I did read somewhere that it is her The Jesus Storybook Bible without the pictures, so it might be worth buying the free sample chapters and seeing how you like it before purchasing the full book.

Buy this book here

What have you been reading lately? I'd love to take a look at your recommendations. 

Where are your favourite places to find books to read?

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How an act of racism gave me hope for the human race

I’ve watched and heard the race issues in the world lately with a broken heart.

I’ve wanted to say something but I haven’t known what to say or how to say it. Then last week my husband put this on his facebook page: 

What if I told you there is no such thing as race? In the same way money is just paper - and only has the value we place on it - people are just people.

I wanted to cheer when I read it because this whole race thing is close to me. And what he said began to give me a way to take the thoughts of my heart and shape them into words. 

You see the man who I share life with, Xylon, is a different shade of melanin to me. These race wars tear me up because they could tear us up.

I don’t want race to divide the world or my country. 
I don’t want it to divide my family. 

When Xylon and I first started dating it divided my family.  (You can read more of this story here)

I like to tuck this part of my family’s history away. 

I remember well the way some members of my family didn’t think Xylon and I should be in a relationship because we had different skin tones. It hurt me so much then. It hurts me now that a person’s skin colour can mean they aren’t accepted for who they are but for a type of person they represent to someone else.

One of the arguments that I was initially given for why Xylon and I shouldn’t marry was that the Bible spoke against interracial and intercultural relationships. 

I know, if you’re reading this, and thinking, “What?!”, that is exactly what I thought. This was 10 years ago. I knew, if what I was being told about God being against the mixed race marriage was true that my entire faith foundations would be shaken. 

So I grabbed the Bible for myself and I read. I read the whole way through the Bible in the space of a few weeks and in the pages I didn’t find a God who wanted different races and cultures to be separate. 

Instead, I found a God who time and again opened his arms to diversity and said, “Come, be part of my family.”  I found Jesus going out of his way to invite people that were in minorities, looked down on, or excluded, into his kingdom. 

In case you’re wondering this is what the Bible, in a nutshell, does say about humanity. The word “race” didn’t occur in the bible or any language until about the 16th Century so this is based on what the Bible says about the human race:

  1. 1. All human beings have a common origin  (Acts 17:24,26)
  2. 2. All human beings were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
  3. 3. Jesus died for all humans and wants us to all be with him in heaven (John 3:16, Matthew 28:19-20)
  4. 4. Those who believe in Jesus belong to one family, God’s family (Malachi 2:10)
  5. 5. God does not elevate one type of person above another (Galations 3:28, Ephesians 6:9)

The argument that was meant to separate Xylon and I was the one that made me more convinced that God is for people who don’t look like to be brought together.

I’m not colour blind. I often just stare at the intertwining of different skin colours when I hold Xylon’s hand. I don’t think that we’re meant to be colour blind. Part of the beauty in the world is the different colours, tones and shades that are found in all of nature. 

I don’t know how to fix the broken thoughts, places and hearts when it comes to race, other than to just live and love.

I loved what Bethany Suckrow wrote over at SheLovesMagazine.com that because we love, we disrupt. I know in my family loving family brought them round from, “I will never attend your wedding if you marry him” to being at our wedding and being part of our every day lives now: our biggest supporters and cheerleaders. 

Xylon and I had so many conversations about race during our dating and engagement. He is amazing, and never felt anger or bitterness towards those in my family that struggled. He had such grace for my family. He always reminded me that their experiences growing up, what they were taught was completely different to what we experienced.  

This experience always reminds me that love fixes things we think cannot be repaired. 
Love changes things. 
Love changes people.
Even when I don’t love with a desire to change others, lives lived out of love can disrupt and give space for God to work. 

I like to tuck this part of my family’s history away. 

Every thing is good now in my family so I find myself asking often do we need to revisit it? Should I share this story? 

Most of the time I'm happy with our story about race and God's grace shoved under the rug, but then race starts coming into the daily news, and I take that story out and look at it again. I allow myself to feel all the conflicting feelings: shame, regret, grace, anger, love for family. 

My story also reminds me that we don’t have to stay where we are - stuck - people can change, and hard hearts can expand to welcome those of different races. 

On days when news is coming at me from all directions, news of how white people hate black people and black people hurt white people (the news is very stereotypical, isn’t it?), then I hang onto this hope, I hang onto my story, that people can change. I have experienced it in my family. 

I pull out my story and I find hope. 


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How Do You Live Well When the Life You're Living Isn't the One You Expected?

Kara tippetts quote

There are bible verses that we hear so often they begin to sound more like a cliché’s then promises that can change how we face everything. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 sometimes feels that way to me. It’s the kind of verse that even people who have barely spent anytime in churches can finish if someone starts it for them, “My grace is sufficient for you…”

“…for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot since reading Kara Tippetts' latest book, And it was beautiful

If you look at my copy you’ll see this underlined:

Hard is grace too. Don’t imagine yourself in the future, because that is you without the grace provided for that moment. There is peace for this day, find it.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t think of hard as grace very often. I think I paid attention when Kara wrote this because she knew what it was to live hard, to have to draw on God’s strength in her weakness. In 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and in March 2015 she passed away leaving four children and a husband behind. 

I kept turning this quote over in my head. 

Hard is grace. 

There is grace provided for this moment.

Find peace for this day. 

There is grace for the hard...

This quote from Kara drove me back to that old, tired verse in the Bible. To keep it fresh, this time I read it in The Voice

“My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me.

As I read this version I realised that this – this knowledge that as we weaken, Christ in us is able to become stronger, to be more visible – was the secret that Kara had to living well, when the life she was living wasn’t the living she expected. 

Kara recognized that God would give her all the grace she needed to face the hard things that were coming. That is so easy to write but it must be hard to live but somehow she did, somehow she buried into God’s grace for the moment and found peace for each day. 

Later, in the book Kara writes,

"This is my prayer right now – not for fewer days of suffering but for more days of strength”. (tweet this)

That is a brave prayer, that is a reckless prayer, it’s a prayer I’m not sure I’d have the courage to pray. 

But maybe it’s the secret, maybe the secret to seeing grace in hard and finding peace for each day is not pray for less suffering but for more of Jesus, for more of his strength, for more God in our weakness. 


About 'And it was beautiful'

I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it.— Kara Tippetts

And it was beautiful Kara Tippetts bookHow do you live out extravagant love in the everyday moments? How do you celebrate grace when your life turns out differently than the one you dreamed?

Kara Tippetts discovered how to find joy in the small moments of life. She learned how to hold tight to hope even while battling intense physical and emotional pain. And she lived out the truth that God can redeem any story.

In her final book, Kara offers gentle reflections on living and dying well. She invites us to cultivate soft hearts even when we face great disappointment. Her ideas for living are hard-won, wrestled with in the crucible of family, illness, and faith. And her constant reminder is that whether we are in the midst of dark days or mundane moments Jesus is always there, life is surprisingly beautiful, and God is forever good.

Click here to buy this book


Disclaimer: I was provided with this book for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links used in this post.

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