Review: “The Curious Christian” by Barnabas Piper

It’s not often that I write “Bravo!!!” (complete with, yes, three exclamation points) at the end of a book’s introduction. The Curious Christian: How Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life by Barnabas Piper, however, led me to do exactly that. As unusual as that early display of endorsement was, though, it wasn’t the introduction to the book that hooked me. Even earlier than that, in the dedication section, Piper convinced me that this book was a treasure.

“For my mother,” he writes. “I remember lying on top of the luggage in the back of our Chevy Caprice ‘Woody’ Station Wagon on the endless drive from Minnesota to Georgia and listening to you read adventure stories for me to hear all the way in the back and reading so well I forgot how bored I was.’”

Piper goes on to list memory after memory of how his mother sparked curiosity in him, how she taught him, how she modeled a love of learning for him, how she shaped and inspired him.  Trips to the library, hours spent on sidelines of the football field, the kitchen radio tuned to Fresh Air by NPR or Prairie Home Companion, Piper’s mother showed him a zest for life. “I wrote the words,” he writes. “But the ideas are yours.”

Keep reading at The Influence Network.

Giveaway: Reclaiming Hope by Michael Wear

UPDATE: Winners announced below! If you weren’t one of the lucky few, I encourage you to pinch your pennies and order a copy of Reclaiming Hope here.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give away not one, not two, but THREE copies of a newly released book that I could not put down, despite the fact that midnight had ticked by far too long ago. Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House about the Future of Faith in America by Michael Wear is not to be missed, and I can’t wait to get it into your hands.

This book could not have come at a better time, friends. It’s a passionate call to hope, perspective, and civic engagement in all of its ups and downs. Joyful, prescient, story-driven, and honest, this treasure of a book lives up to its title in every way. Wear was one of the youngest-ever White House staffers, serving in the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Obama’s first administration and later directing faith outreach for the 2012 Obama campaign. Wear’s years of experience and passion for neighbor love come together beautifully, weaving narrative with thoughtful commentary on faith, politics, and patriotism.

You can enter here; the giveaway will be open till Friday at midnight!

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3 giveaway winners + 2 minute truths + 1 thank you & opportunity.

Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to try your chances in the Joy Woven Deep Mother’s Day Giveaway! It was such fun to watch the entries pour in, and each of the gals who participated in assembling the packages joins me in thanking you for the ways you promoted the giveaway and supported these dreams we’re living out in our day to day lives even on a place as wild + ridiculous as the internet.

Mother's Day Giveaway (1)

I wish I could give a gift to each of you, but since I can’t, we’ll settle for three :).

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Sign & Sparkle: Whitney Langdon Putnam
Style & Sweets: Sara Harper Taylor
Scripture & Spa: Sally Paradowski

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll be in touch with you via Facebook message or email this morning.

Before we step back into the reality of our Monday, I wanted to let you know about a little project I’m doing with my friend Sarah Elizabeth Finch. Sarah Elizabeth (SEB, to many of us) had the brilliant idea to post a devotional on her Instagram account with the hashtag #twominutetruths every day in May.

What a perfect month for this! May is crazy, at least in our neck of the woods with a youth pastor husband, multiple high school graduations, college graduations, wedding invitations aplenty, end of the school year events and preparations for summer.

I’m incredibly thankful for SEB’s idea, so thankful in fact that I’m jumping on the bandwagon! SEB is going through the book of James, and I am sharing Scripture & insights on the concept of time, on what it is to redeem it, on how we make the most of all of this “meantime” – the space between in the wait for glory.

Two Minute Truths: In The Beginning

Come join us on Instagram, and perhaps consider starting your own series as well! It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. The heart behind this is to encourage the people who scroll toward our little image squares, to use something as mayhem-leaning as social media to strengthen spirits and reflect the glory of God. We’d LOVE to see what you come up with, just make sure you use the hashtag so we can follow along!

Thank you x139583 to all of you who responded to my requests for insight into your Myers-Briggs personality types and way of thinking about books + entertainment! I do a little happy dance (sometimes in my heart, sometimes in my kitchen with two little fellas joining me) every time I see a new email with responses, and the privilege of reading your thoughtfulness and preferences is a joy. I’m working hard on a blog post that explores our personality types and how we engage the world of literature + media, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

((If you’d like to share your Myers-Briggs type with me and answer a few questions about your books + entertainment consumption, just shoot me an email here. If you don’t know your type, you can take the test here and verify it by reading profiles here!))

I’m praying for your Monday – for contentment, belief, opportunities and desire to serve those in your path. May we know nothing better than to be joyful and do good all the days of our lives (Ecc 3).

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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it’s a mother’s day giveaway!

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I’m delighted to present the Joy Woven Deep
Mother’s Day Giveaway!

This giveaway is built around the idea of supporting mamas in as many ways as possible. It’s not simply that the gifts are intended for mothers; the mama love doesn’t stop there. Most of my partners for this giveaway are moms, and many of the founders of the companies represented are as well. Many of them employ moms, providing income opportunities and flexible, kid-friendly schedules. This giveaway is a 360 degree mama celebrating party, and while Mother’s Day may be a Hallmark holiday, I can’t help but believe it’s one worth celebrating.

The Packages!

Giveaway Package #1: Sign & Sparkle
Pen & Bloom
is a signs & design shop created by Cheyanne Phillips. Pen & Bloom offers wooden signs, wood slices, custom addressing and paper inscriptions, all in an artsy, unique style. The winner of package #1 will receive a $25 store credit to Pen & Bloom, to be used in the shop or on a custom order! pen and bloom collageConnect with Pen & Bloom: WebsiteFacebook | Instagram | Email

Noonday Collection is a business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. Noonday gives us the chance to wear beautiful jewelry made with love by women the world over whose lives have been changed by the empowerment of a job. Lindsey has contributed these lovely Charmed Hoop Earrings (made in Ethiopia) to our giveaway & this May Designs/Noonday Collection collaboration monthly view planner, to our giveaway!

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Connect with Lindsey: Her Noonday Site | Facebook | Instagram

Giveaway Package #2: Style & Sweets
is a modern line of women’s maxi skirts, pencil skirts, a-line skirts and dresses. Their leggings feel like butter, and they are constantly releasing fun new patterns in limited quantities, so there’s a fun little rare quality to LuLaRoe purchases. Laura Brown, LuLaRoe rep, has contributed a $40 credit toward her LuLaRoe collection!


Connect with Laura: Facebook

Sissy’s Sweets makes our FAVORITE yummy treats! Owned by Marissa Martinez, Sissy’s is an effort to put a little more celebration and sugar into the world, while saving for Marissa’s big dream of finishing seminary. Marissa has contributed a dozen cookies for yo mama!

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Connect with Sissy’s Sweets: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Email

Giveaway Package #3: Scripture & Spa

Freehand Truth provides you with colorful reminders that God is good. Owned by Sarabeth Harlow, Freehand Truth offers one-of-a-kind Scripture canvases. We have one of Sarabeth’s canvases hanging in our youngest son’s room and I love it for so many reasons – the verse itself, Sarabeth’s handwriting, and knowing the prayers that she pours in to each canvas. Sarabeth has donated a $20 shop credit to our giveaway!


Connect with Freehand Truth: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Raindrop Essentials is the doTERRA Essential Oils business of Kailey Vick. Kailey is committed to living life to the full one drop at a time with doTERRA essential oils. Raindrop Essentials has contributed a spa trio to our giveaway – a hand lotion, scented bath bar and lip balm.


Connect with Raindrop Essentials: Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Immeasurable Shop is the dream of Sally Shake. This shop is a result of her passions and ideas. She believes that creativity is, at its heart, immeasurable. Immeasurable Shop carries headbands, pillows, zip bags, baby quilts and more. Sally has contributed a $20 shop credit to our giveaway, perfect to use toward a headband for a day at the spa (or a day of regular mom life!).

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Connect with Immeasurable Shop: Website | Instagram

EACH PACKAGE will also include a copy of The Mother Letters by Seth & Amber Haines and Selections from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

BooksPHEW! Can you believe it? You’ve made it this far, so it’s time to enter the giveaway. There are A LOT of chances to win one of these three packages for your mama, yourself if you’re a mama (or if you’re not. I’m not judging.), a mama you love, whomever!

You’ll notice that the entries for Facebook pages simply request that you visit the page. While this is the only task required to earn that entry, we would be SO grateful for your “like.” For small businesses, creatives, and writers, that social media support is incredibly meaningful and helps us along on our journeys.

The giveaway will end at 11:59pm on Sunday, 5/1. Winners will be announced first thing Monday morning.

Package #1: Sign & Sparkle | Earrings, Planner, Sign, Books
Package #2: Style & Sweets | LuLaRoe, Cookies, Books
Package #3: Scripture & Spa | Canvas, Soap/Lip Balm/Lotion, Books

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Fine Print
This giveaway is in no way affiliated with the Haines or Ann Voskamp. I simply love their work and am excited to share it with you!
Prizes may not be exactly as pictured.

2014: The Book List.


Jared and I set a goal to read at least 24 books this year. I have no idea if this is a lot, a little, too many, too few, but two books a months sounded both reasonable and just challenging enough. I also figured it would “trick” me into reading like a crazy little fiend, because I’m nothing if not a classic over-achiever.Turns out, I was right, because I’ve already plowed through two books this month. I doubt this pace will continue, but I hope and plan to maintain a strong focus on reading books as a way of learning, resting and growing this year.

2014 Book List


  1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – Finished!
    I really liked this book, possibly even loved it. Told from the perspective of a young woman who has just aged out of foster care, this story was rich with robust, believable characters, the harsh realities of life in a broken world and the beauty and grace found in human relationships. Highly recommend.
  2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – Finished!
    Such an engaging book! This book is written in a quirky, unique way and reminded me of the magic of a story skillfully woven together over hundreds of pages. It was fast-paced (or maybe I just was? Couldn’t put it down!), charming, real and funny.
  3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  4. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  5. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  6. The Circle Series by Ted Dekker
  7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (to be published 10/2014)


  1. When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman
  2. The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
    by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  3. The Reason Why I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism 
    by Naoki Higashida
  4. 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
  5. Redeeming Sociology by Vern S. Poythress


  1. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
  2. Jesus the King by Tim Keller
  3. In My Place Condemned He Stood by J. I. Packer
  4. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
  5. Just Do Something Kevin DeYoung

Parenting/Adoption/Orphan Care

  1. Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck
  2. Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson
  3. The Whole Brain Child by Dan Seigel and Tina Bryson
  4. Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson
  5. Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman

No Pressure Non-Guilt Trip Only If There’s Somehow Time Extras

These books were largely chosen based on a discussion in the forums of The Influence Network and posts by Hayley MorganKristen HowertonRussell Moore & Chelsea Williams.

What do you plan to read in 2014?

on my nightstand [#1]

in an effort both to blog more consistently and to stay realistic about the amount of original content i can actually produce, i’m going to try my hand at a blog series or two. the first is this – on my nightstand – in which i’ll share a few of the books i’m reading these days. once i finish them, i’ll post a little review and share the next set of books i’m starting.

here are the books that are on my nightstand:


Boundaries: Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
“Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not.”
At least three people have encouraged me to read this book. I’m pretty sure that says something about me, so I’m going to finally crack the cover and find out what that “something” might be.


Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv
“Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development—physical, emotional, and spiritual. ”
I was encouraged to pick this book up after reading Al Mohler’s post about it.

the secret keepr

The Secret Keeper: Kate Morton
“From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.”
Morton’s The House at Riverton is one of my favorite novels, so I’m very much looking forward to getting lost inside the pages of this one as well.

This series was inspired by similar posts from Jen HatmakerKristen Howerton and Al Mohler.