My youngest daughter is so much like me.
There’s this fieriness to her, this loudness, this tenderness, this bent toward wanting to scream and then cry when someone wrongs her; she is so dear and so thoughtful and so… worried. She’s worried she won’t be able to control her temper, find peace in conflict, or just breathe long enough to not yell at her brother when he irritates her. She thinks she’ll never change.
“Oh sweet Caroline, you are so much like me,” I tell her as we drive, just the two of us.
“No, mom, not really.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because you know how to control your anger and I don’t. I’ll never be able to.”
And there it is, the lie that she’ll never change, the start of a downward thought process that can lead to despair if not corrected in truth.
“Care, how old are you?”
“Well, I’m 37, so I’ve got some years on you, and through those years God has helped me to have self-control, and He will help you too, but give yourself time to grow and learn and surrender and wait as He helps you. You can have self-control. Here, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned…”
I go searching and searching for book lists for adults on truth and beauty and goodness and I seem to only find (mostly find?) book lists for children. Which is great and all, but I want to fill my soul with rich stories and beautiful words too, and I don’t want them only to be classics.
So I did what we do in the modern age and I asked Facebook this question:
I’m looking for books that are filled with truth and beauty and goodness. I’d like fiction, and they don’t have to be Christian. What I’m not looking for: Crude talk, detailed sex scenes, lot’s of unnecessary cursing. Hard stories are fine if they inspire the soul. What do you recommend?
Here’s what Facebook (or rather my awesome Facebook friends) gave me as recommendations. Enjoy!
As with anything, use your discernment! I have not read all these books!
Goodness, Beauty, and Truth Book List
(In alphabetical order by author)
Hannah Coulter by Wendall Berry (several recommendations)
Jayber Crow by Wendall Berry (several recommendations)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (several recommendations)
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (A favorite of mine)
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
The Yearling by Patricia Reilly Giff (I was told about this one, “Trust me”)
Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge
Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Mitford Series by Jan Karon (several recommendations)
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo
The Curate’s Awakening by George MacDonald
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers (several recommendations)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (several recommendations)
Like a River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart
Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Julie Klasson, Laura Franz, Lynn Austin, Katherine Reay, Charles Martin, Barbara Kingsolver, Kathleen Grissom, Susan Meissner, Fannie Flagg, Katie Ganshert, Erin Hilderbrand,
Oh, and for more helpful lists, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site!
P.S. I’ll keep adding to this list, but go ahead and comment with your recommendations!
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Every week it’s the same thing.
We study for the spelling test and my child cries and says, “I’m so stupid! I’d rather not be in this world. Everyone is smarter than me.”
They go down a dark trail of negative self-loathing and harsh talk about themselves. It’s awful, and it’s sad and it’s hard and it makes this mama feel so helpless. I pray and I ask God for all the grace and patience and gentle words and gentle touches to help, but it’s a fight. And I know the enemy will use this disposition that my child has to try and steal and kill and destroy.
I think, why? Why does my child look at themselves so poorly? Why can’t they see what I see? That they are a wonder, smart and funny and passionate and driven and thoughtful and made with purpose?
And then I turn the gaze inward and I think of all the ways I have spoken harshly to myself. I think of my own particular bent: I’m so stupid.
I don’t say it out loud, but I speak it in my head and my heart. I’m dumb. I have nothing to contribute to the world. What’s the point? And now that I’ve seen my child say these things, I wonder, Does God view me the way I view my child? Does it break His heart when I condemn myself? Is it painful for Him to see?
Click here to read the rest over at (in)courage today.
Love, Sarah Mae
“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
“I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”
“But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”
Maybe you don’t have to live like this.
Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry but I don’t have to live with it.
I’ve been on medication for over a month now, and I feel normal again, like myself again.
I was the frog in the boiling water. Slowly, slowly, insidiously, this sadness filled me up and then one day I couldn’t tell you anymore whether I was an introvert or extrovert. I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do or the last time I enjoyed going somewhere. The boiling happened so slowly that I don’t know when it began or how long I’ve lived in the hot, dark water. I don’t know when I started to lose who I was.
It was like I was living in a dream.
But now I’m awake, and to mix all the metaphors, I feel like I’m in the sun, like I’m out of the boiling water, like I can see clearly, and most wonderfully, I know who I am again. I didn’t lose my personality. I am still me.
I wrote a love letter to myself this morning to help me understand again who I am. The beginning of the letter goes like this:
You’re struggling to figure out who you are lately. If someone asked you, “Who are you?”, you’re not sure how you would answer. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can help.
First, you are loved and chosen and seen and known by God, who is your Father and who loves you with a faithful, steadfast, pure love. You are His daughter and He knows every intricate piece of your heart and soul and mind. What you don’t know, He knows. What you don’t see, He sees. Where you feel lost and confused, He is sure. So the first thing, dear Sarah, is that you are a loved and known daughter of the God of the universe.
I’m not advocating medication on a whim, I’m just telling you that I am better. Something was wrong, but now it’s right. That’s all I know.
I also know that my mother struggled with depression, so maybe there is some genetic stuff going on. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing a book about the redemption of humanity and the thread through it is the story of my mom and I and the crazy, complicated, hardness of it all. Our story is messy and sad and confusing and nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s that my hormones adjusted my brain or that this human body is just not perfect here on earth.
All I know is that I was blind but now I see. And I give God all the glory.
If you’re boiling, or if you don’t even know you’re boiling but you know something is off, I want to encourage you in a two specific ways that two different friends encouraged me:
1.) It’s okay to put everything on the table.
Anything can be put on he table for discussion, whether it’s homes to buy, educating our children, any big life decision, there is nothing wrong with putting it on the table.
And in that putting in on the table, we lay our hands open knowing and trusting and believing that He is faithful and He guides.
2.) Maybe you don’t have to live like this.
Maybe you don’t have to boil. Maybe God is calling you out to the light. He wants obedience over sacrifice. But the real point I’m trying to make here is this: God loves you and He wants you to live in the light. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever suffer or be in hellish circumstances. What it means is that there’s an inner peace, an inner light, an inner joy that can never be taken away, and sometimes we need outside help to find that joy again. And that’s okay.
The paradox for the Christian is that while we may suffer, we can also experience great joy. And we are free to get help.
The Scripture at the top of this post affirms that God understands our human hearts, and how we need light and joy and goodness to keep on. Here’s another version of that verse that I just love:
The light of the eyes rejoices the inner man, the heart, and good news takes away the ashes.
We have a God who sees us and loves us and helps us and takes away the ashes.
Lord, would you search our hearts and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Show us anything in us that is offensive or hurtful. Unfold freedom for us, bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts, and lead us in the everlasting way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23,24, Psalm 147:3)
Love, Sarah Mae
P.S. Try writing a love letter to yourself. I know it’s weird, I acknowledge that, but it’s also helpful and kind.
This is how I’m feeling these days! Yay! It’s a whole new world!
Last month I didn’t share my box with you, one, because I was in the depths of despair (or something like that), and two, it was only an okay box. BUT THIS MONTH, my stylist nailed it. I asked for fall shirts and she delivered!
Take a look (My daughter took the pics)!
It’s soooooooo cozy!
I love this shirt! It is so comfortable and flattering and COMFORTABLE!
This jacket. Be still my heart. Also, how about that lovely shot of my gray hair? 🙂
(Yes, I’m going
gray silver – you can read about that here)
This one is a nope for me. I don’t like the fit.
This is another no for me, but only because the neckline is weird to me and I’m weird about necklines in general.
Try Stitch Fix HERE!
Yep, I know it’s expensive. But I’m trying to get better at picking clothes that look nice and will last, and I’m willing to spend (if and when I can) a little more to meet that end. I’m a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl, but it’s nice to have more…adult clothes. Also, I do not like to go shopping, not my thing (unless we’re shopping for books or food). This is why I like Stitch Fix; someone else picks nice, fashionable clothes for me (for only $20) and I get to avoid shopping. And if I don’t like something, I just send it back in their PRE-PAID envelope. So easy.
If you are like me, then maybe Stitch Fix is for you. If so, you can use my referral link HERE and they will wave the $20 styling fee for your first Fix. Another win!
Now one last thing! If you ever want to see behind the scenes pics and vids, head over to my Instagram where I share things like this (this is an IG story):
There are affiliate links in this post. You can read my disclosure policy here.