Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

WHAT I’M READING

SUMMER 2017

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson

  • Memoirs are not books I typically pick up. But I heard John Ortberg talking about this one and it fascinated me. Eugene Peterson is the guy who translated a modern version of the Bible called The Message. I like the way he writes. I’ve read some other stuff by Eugene as well. I’m about 100 pages into this one, and it’s simple at some points, profound at others. Light and funny, yet deep and philosophical.

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SPRING 2017

The Law of Happiness by Henry Cloud

  • Yes, once again, I’ve got my face buried in the wisdom of Henry Cloud. The title of this book didn’t necessarily resonate with me, but the author’s name attached certainly did. I dig this guy. He speaks truth from his experiences as a psychologist and his experiences as a Christ follower. He intersects Scriptural truths with those of psychological research in a realist, non-hokey way.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: This is a short, easy read. Very encouraging, very spot-on. Even if you’re not struggling with happiness per se, you’ll identify with so many of the principles in this book. I was personally challenged by so many things in this book. Grab this one–or anything by Henry Cloud–and dig in!

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WINTER 2017

NEVER GO BACK: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again by Dr. Henry Cloud

  • I’ve mentioned this before, but I love Henry Cloud. This book is fabulous. It’s about making lasting change and not going back to past patterns and lifestyles that simply don’t work.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: I hate to finish a really good book. And this is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I’d like to just have the wisdom and insight in this book hooked up to an IV directly flowing into me. That way I would know it, apply it, remember it, and live it. This book is powerful and challenging. Dr. Cloud doesn’t mince words. He tells it like it is. He’s practical, not only giving the concepts, but the tools to make change. I highly recommend this one.

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FALL 2016

NECESSARY ENDINGS by Dr. Henry Cloud

  • As I debated about resigning a couple positions I’ve held at church for a long time, my brother challenged me to read this book before I made my decision. I love Henry Cloud, so buying this book was a no-brainer.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: As I said, I love Henry Cloud. I have a great deal of respect for him. His writing resonates with me a great deal. This is a great read. It was timely for me for sure. Life sometimes produces too much life–too many buds that it can bring to maturity. Occasionally we have to re-evaluate and prune. I’d recommend this book if life is full for you and you’re sensing some things need to be eliminated.

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SUMMER 2016

SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD by Elisa Morgan

  • The title grabbed me right away. It refers to the five words Jesus spoke about Mary anointing Jesus’ head with perfume. In a busy season of life where I don’t feel like I have much time to offer, this sounds intriguing.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: This is a short book that’s definitely worth the read. It challenges us to act on something that really matters. To go for it. What might happen if we did? How would we be changed? How would others be changed? How might others see Jesus if we did what we could?

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FALL 2015

EAT THIS BOOK by Eugene Peterson

  • Oh my! I’m hooked from the first chapter onward. This one is deep, profound, and challenges my thoughts toward reading the Bible.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: Deep for sure. Sometimes too deep and too much to wrap my brain around. But such a refreshing approach to spending time in the Word. It’s a “get-it-in-your-veins” and “live-out-loud” kind of thinking as we allow the Word of God to marinate in our souls and figure out how to live like Jesus. If you’re up for a hefty challenge, go for it.

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SUMMER 2015

HEROIC LEADERSHIP by Chris Lowney

  • I overheard my parents talking to my brother about this book a while back. They had good things to say about it so I grabbed it. It’s definitely intriguing. It’s not what I thought, but it’s good.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: If you’re into history at all and if you’re into leadership principles and strategies, then this book is definitely for you. The book shares the leadership principles that the Jesuits used in developing and maintaining their successful company for 400+ years. Since I’m not a history enthusiast at all, it was a little laborious for me to weed through. But, the leadership principles and ideas are are spot on and exceptionally useful.

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SPRING 2015

WHISTLING IN THE DARK: AN ABC THEOLOGIZED by Frederick Buechner

  • For starters, anything by Buechner is good. This is an interesting, short book in which the author goes letter by letter through the alphabet and writes short thoughts on various topics such as abortion, justice, news, vanity, etc. It’s intriguing.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Most of the topics I could relate to or completely agreed with Buechner’s thinking. Some of his topics really challenged my thinking. If you were so inclined, you could read this book in a day, but you’d miss the opportunity to sit down and let his thoughts marinate, which is truly how this book should be read.

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FALL 2014

FLESH:  BRINGING THE INCARNATION DOWN TO EARTH by Hugh Halter

  • A friend gave me this book because her church is doing a church-wide study on it. She said some of the congregants there were offended by the author when he came to speak and consequently left the church. That caught my attention. In the first few chapters I can see how some old-school, traditional, stuck-in-their-ways Christians might be offended by what the author says. So far, I like his pushing of the boundaries.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: I liked it…and didn’t like it at the same time. Mr. Halter has some great thoughts on living like Jesus. Some thoughts that would easily offend some. But living like Jesus isn’t formulaic like some folks might insist. This is the part I like–Jesus dared to do life with sinners…and so should we (gasp!). My main issue with this book, however, was that I felt like he was redundant. The chapters seemed to reiterate the same ideas. Less would have been more in this one.

HABITATION OF DRAGONS by Keith Miller

  • This book was published in the early 70’s. You’d think it’d be out of date and completely out of touch. Hardly! It’s not necessarily what I’d call a daily devotional, but it’s close. The author shares around 40 different personal struggles designed to be read one per day. I like his raw honesty. I feel like I’m being challenged simply because I can relate to his struggles.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mr. Miller basically journals some of the tough stuff he went through. It’s a short read. I was frequently challenged. Sometimes people don’t care to read about the struggles in the lives of others because they’ve got plenty of their own. I learned from him, not because he told me how to fix my problems, but because he shared how he worked through his own.

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SUMMER 2014

THE GOSPEL BLIMP AND OTHER MODERN PARABLES by Joseph Bayly

  • I’m not a parable kind of gal. The parables that Jesus spoke can really get under my skin. I tend to struggle when i don’t “get it.” I hate when things are not clear.  And parables can be unclear. But this book holds my interest big time!
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: Okay, if you’re involved in ministry of any kind or even leadership of any kind, you gotta read this. I loved the author’s story telling. And guess what? At the end of the parable, I got it. And it’s a huge message that ministry leaders must get. I won’t tell you what it is, but get it. Read it. Apply it. Live it. Enough said!

RESTLESS:  BECAUSE YOU WERE MADE FOR MORE by Jennie Allen

  • Oh goodness, where do I start? I really like this book… No, I kinda don’t… I can’t decide. I was restless in my soul prior to picking this book up. I don’t know if Jennie is helping that or hurting that. I find myself arguing with her on some occasions, and agreeing with her on others. I’ll keep you posted!
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: I struggled with this book most of the way through. Matter of fact, Jennie made me down right angry at some points. This is going to sound extremely critical, but she seems to be living in fantasy world and, by tossing around a few feel-good phrases, expects us to jump right on that fantasy train with her. I’d say if you’re 20-something, this book might be more up your alley. If you’re on the other side of that, you know a different reality.

FIRST, BREAK ALL THE RULES: WHAT THE WORLD’S GREATEST MANAGERS DO DIFFERENTLY by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

  • The title alone intrigues me. I’m not in a management position, but I like good leadership books. This one presents a few fresh ideas (in spite of the fact that it was published in 1999). But it also has several approaches that I’m already aware of. So far I’m slightly interested, and semi-disappointed because as a “rule-breaker” I was expecting something a little different.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: Overall I was unimpressed. Like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” That’s how I felt about this book. If you haven’t read any leadership/management books before, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one.

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WINTER 2014

LIKE DEW YOUR YOUTH: GROWING UP WITH YOUR TEENAGER by Eugene Peterson

  • Teenagers are interesting and unique little creatures. I currently have two of them, and I’ll admit they’re slightly less than perfect. And I’ll admit even further, their mother is slightly less than perfect as well. 🙂 This book hits me where I am in the midst of surviving teenagers. The first couple chapters have been exactly what I’ve needed to hear.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: Eugene Peterson has a unique style about him. If you can freely let yourself embrace his artistic style here, you’ll get a few good things out of this book. There are certainly some profound things to grasp if you are in the throes of parenting teenagers. Blessings to you all as you embark on that journey.

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS & INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie

  • I cannot remember how I came across this book but I’m so glad it did. It’s an old, yet timeless, book written in 1937. I’m intrigued by the many stories Mr. Carnegie tells of how simple, seemingly common sense type strategies are so key to having a positive impact on others. Thus far it has brought to my  mind so many ways I need to improve in my relating to other people. Good stuff!
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: If you are in sales, business, education, ministry, retail, leadership, management, or any other field where you deal with people, you need to read this book. It’s packed full of selfless principles that will bring out the best in other people and spur them on toward progress, success, and positive outcomes. It totally changed my thinking in how I approach people and dialogue with them. This is a must read!

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SUMMER 2013

IDOL LIES by Dee Brestin

  • I grabbed this book at my parent’s house on Friday evening. I read one chapter on Saturday afternoon, and have spent my entire Sunday afternoon engrossed in it. Dee’s honesty about the idols that so enslave us hits me right at home. She writes like she speaks (…or maybe she speaks like she writes). Since Dee is a friend of mine, I can almost hear her voice as I read her words–gentle and sweet, yet not shying away from sharing God’s penetrating Truth.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: If you struggle with the idea of intimacy with God (more specifically the idea of God as “Lover”), then you might cringe on a couple chapters. But I’d encourage you to labor through those parts of the book anyway. It’s worth your effort. Dee tells the stories of several friends or acquaintances throughout the book, and I’m sure you’ll be able to identify with at least a couple of their stories. This book is spot on regarding how we’ve put everything other than God in the top spot of our lives. It’s good. It’s challenging. And I would definitely recommend it!

THE 7 HARDEST THINGS GOD ASKS A WOMAN TO DO by Kathie Reimer & Lisa Whittle

  • I’m just embarking on this book journey. I suppose the 7 things in the table of contents were what caught my eye–things like single-focus & multi-task, fail & succeed, hold on & let go, etc. So far, the book hasn’t challenged my thinking on a very deep, spiritual level, but I trust as I make my way through that it will. I’ll keep you posted.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: To be honest with you, I didn’t finish this book. It did not hold my attention, nor did it challenge me. I hate admitting that to you, but it’s honest. Some books resonate and some books don’t. Unfortunately this one didn’t resonate with me.

SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT by Donald Miller

  • I like Mr. Miller’s style. He’s funny and down-to-earth, yet simple. I tend to find myself flocking to the authors who write in a simple, yet spiritually deep way. In my opinion, Mr. Miller doesn’t try to wow or impress the reader. We’re all searching for something, some fulfillment, some meaning, some purpose. Mr. Miller shares it just like it is.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT:  Mr. Miller is real. He’s real and he’s raw. He tells the truth about religion–that it’s not about rules, regulations, or a set of bullet points to follow. It’s about a relationship with Jesus. Mr. Miller is a great story teller with lots of unique experiences, but it all comes back to Jesus. I highly recommend grabbing this book.

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SPRING 2013

LOVE DOES by Bob Goff

  • My mother read this book this past fall and insisted I read it. Matter of fact, she bought several copies and gave them as gifts to many of her friends and family. She read portions of it every time I’d go over to her house. A friend of mine read it at the same time my mother did and she raved about it. It sounded great. My mom eventually gave us a copy and insisted that my son read it first. He finally finished, and I picked it up. I’m so glad I did! Bob is such a great storyteller. I was sucked in right away. 
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: You must read this book! This guy is hilarious. This guy is crazy. And this guy loves Jesus with a zeal and fervor I wish I had even half of. His encouragement to act, get in the game, make a difference for someone, and “leak” Jesus inspires me. Bob has done grandiose things that I’ll never be able even come close to. But his words definitely stir a desire within me to figure out what God is up to and run to join Him.

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WINTER 2013

THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY by A.J. Jacobs

  • I somehow ran across this book when I was researching some stuff for a Sunday school class I was teaching. The topic of my class was whether or not we should take the Bible literally, and if so, how much. In this book, A.J. (who claims to be as Jewish as the Olive Garden is Italian) does exactly that. He spends one year living out everything in the Bible as literally as he can. 
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: This book absolutely cracked me up. A.J. attempted to do everything from completely obliterating lying from his day-to-day routine (which sounds easier than it is) to “stoning adulterers.” His year-long journey was full of the odd, bizarre, and downright crazy to simple, yet profound moments of deep spiritual truth. The things that he found himself really challenged or struggling with are things that the long-time Christian takes for granted. He brought back to me a hunger and thirst for the simple things God wants from us. I’d recommend it for anyone interested in a dose of a little light-hearted reading.

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FALL 2012

FROM EMBERS TO A FLAME by Harry L. Reeder III

  • Our new senior pastor is going through this book with the Elders (of which I am one) in our church. It’s a book about how God can revitalize your church. My church has painfully lost a ton of members in the last couple years. Although we have remained Biblically solid, we haven’t been healthy. This book is bringing back an excitement in me to serve God’s church and His people. The Biblical principles about church revitalization Mr. Reeder shares are spot on.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: This book is thankfully not one of those “try this new idea, system, or program and you’ll fix your church” kind of books. (I’ve been given several of those in the last three years :-).)  This book is solely based on Biblical principles. It helps churches identify their weaknesses, and guides them back to plain and simple truths of church leadership right out of Scripture. This book is far and away the best book on revitalizing a church that I’ve read in the last few years. If your church is struggling, have your leadership team embrace Mr. Reeder’s book.

LORD, CHANGE MY ATTITUDE by James MacDonald

  • Using the wilderness wondering of the Israelites as its foundation, Mr. MacDonald dives into our own complaining, critical attitudes and provides Biblical ways to replace those with new, fresh, godly ones. I’m sucked in from the beginning because I can very much identify with the negative thinking. If you’re willing to admit you need a change, if you’re willing to allow God to change you, grab this book.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: So good! I used this book as a resource to teach an adult Sunday school class I called “Attitude Adjustment.” I frequently received comments that the class hit them right between the eyes. That’s what this book does. Attitudes are something we face (and struggle with) every day. This book is practical. It’s real. And it’s in your face. I’ve been convicted and challenged to change due to Mr. MacDonald’s insight in this book.

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SUMMER 2012

ONE THOUSAND GIFTS by Ann Voskamp

  • This book was recommended to me by my friend Dee Brestin about 6 months ago. I’m just now getting around to reading it, and man do I regret not picking it up sooner! This book is beautifully written. Line after line is profound. It tugs at my heart strings. It presses on my heart so hard I can barely breathe. It challenges me with every stroke of the pen.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: As I have spoken to different women about this book, it’s one you either really like or really don’t. Ann has a most unusual writing style. You’ll either appreciate it, or it will drive you crazy. She breaks every grammatical rule there is. It certainly takes some getting used to. But like I said above, her words pressed on my heart. They penetrated deeply. If you’re not in a season of feeling “empty” or “purposeless”, you’ll struggle with this book. So, I would highly recommend it to those of you battling with your perspective on life, feeling stripped of joy, depleted of direction, vision, etc. But be patient with it. Try not to let her style chafe you. Be open to the possibility of what God might want to challenge you with through Ann’s unique, yet powerful prose.

THE GREAT DIVORCE by C.S. Lewis

  • I think this book originally came out in the 1940’s. It’s wonderfully written in classic C.S. Lewis fantasy style. So powerfully and imaginatively penned, you are taken on a journey through Heaven and Hell. You have to let the conversations in this book marinate inside you in order to catch the deeper meaning. But it’s profound…and so intriguing.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: Wow! C.S. Lewis is an allegorical master. If you understand it, this book will be powerful. If you miss it, this book will be pointless. At times, it was so riveting I couldn’t put it down. I did find myself, however, having to work at understanding who was who and what exactly was going on. But the effort paid off. This is not your typical Christian fiction, but if I were you, I’d grab it and dig in!

IN A PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY by Mark Batterson

  • The subtitle of this book is “How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars.” I “stole” this book from a friend when the title and subtitle peaked my interest. The whole “pit with a lion” and “thrive” thing spoke to me. More than that, the book is challenging me in ways that I desperately need to be challenged. Mark deals with problems, trials, fears, opportunities, etc. He urges us to be pursuers of our “lions” and not cower down in defenselessness.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: This was a book I needed to read at this point in my life. It’s motivating and inspiring with all sorts of personal challenges for me to get up and get moving. If you need a little cattle prodding, I’d highly recommend this one.

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SPRING 2012

MESSY FAITH by A.J. Gregory

  • I love it when authors write in a “raw” manner. A.J. is genuine, down-to-earth, and honest with her own personal struggles in her spiritual journey. She doesn’t sugar-coat anything about the Christian faith, yet she has a style and ambiance that indeed draws you into a deeper, personal journey with Jesus.
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: A.J. challenged me in my thinking. She reminded me that we all have baggage of some sort or another. She reminded me about God’s grace which flows out to each one of us in our messes. If you’re looking for a pretty, “feel-good”, typical Christian book to read, this isn’t it. But if you want something out of the box that deals with tough subjects and asks tough questions, grab this one.

PUT YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON AND DEAL WITH IT by Roz Van Meter

  • I bought this book in an expensive clothing store in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It caught my eye at the checkout counter. This is a secular book with sound advice in how to move forward, be assertive, be confident, and go for what you want. Roz has a very personable, humorous (and borderline inappropriate) style and attitude that’s very “tell it like it is.”
  • MY FINAL THOUGHT: It’s hilarious at some points, thought provoking at other points, and overall enjoyable. I’d recommend it to most people, however with a strong PG-13 rating.

BE SATISFIED by Warren Wiersbe

  • In my own “dissatisfaction” with my life lately, I decided to study the book of Ecclesiastes with a friend. Occasionally I use study guides from other authors to gain outside perspective. I love Wiersbe’s “BE” series books. He’s got a style that resonates with me. Most of his companion study guides come with discussion questions at the end of the chapter which I appreciate. Wiersbe takes Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes, gives them profound meaning, and brings them forward through time in a very applicable, easy to understand way.

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