What’s on Your Summer Reading List?

I could review a book I’ve read…OR I could share with you what some lovely bookish ladies in my life are reading this summer. I am so excited about what is on my reading list for the next couple months and I knew a few people who would be equally excited about their own list.

The following are the five books on the summer reading lists of a series of folks in the writing and publishing world! I have linked to all of them so can check out these titles and add them to your own list! Don’t forget to share about your summer reading list in the comments!

Gina Dalfonzo

Editor of BreakPoint.org and author of One By One, one of the titles on my own list

Chris Jager

Fiction buyer at Baker Book House

Amelia Rhodes

Author of Pray A to Z

Hint: She’s working on a follow up to Pray A to Z. Get excited for that!

Lindsay Gustafson

Owner of Apricot Services

Ann Byle

Freelance writer and author

Rachel Watson

Journalist with The Grand Rapids Business Journal

My own list

Literate human

Baker Book Houses’s Summer Reading Program

Summer reading programs are not just for kids anymore! Baker Book House has become one of my favorite spots to do work in Grand Rapids and they are offering a great summer program for kids, but an even better one for grown ups!

If you’re in the West Michigan area, stop in and pick up their brochure. If you read 6 books that fall in one of the many categories in the brochure between now and August 26, you will receive a fantastic ceramic travel mug and FREE coffee in that mug for the rest of the year. I’m not kidding, people! Just for reading books! (Jury is out if coffee can be substituted with tea, but regardless, I want the mug!)

Don’t forget to let me know what you’ll be reading in the comments below!

Where is ‘Here’?


After that last post, you may have walked away with a question:

“Uh, Lex? How is ‘being present’ a resolution?”

Great question!…I’m still figuring that out.

Aren’t we always trying to figure out where were at and how best to be there? Arrival is a lie, I’m learning. (Except not really, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to arrive at 42. That’s when I’m gonna get the ever-elusive “it”…I hope.)

We so often have these visions of what our lives are supposed to be in some distant yet not-so-distant future and we’re striving for “there.” But what about “here”? What about what’s in front of you right now?

I want to be rooted to here and to now and to invest in what has been placed before me. I’m just trying to figure out what that is.

Three weeks into a new job and new season, I’m still trying to figure out what life looks like, let alone how to dig into it deeper. Here is are a few things I do know:

I want to invest in people

For over a year, I have had a really deep longing and growing restlessness surrounding community. This is my second year of refraining from leading a high school girls small group. That’s a hard thing for me, but I knew when I stepped down that I was being obedient. I am feeling the tug to feel elsewhere, but that call is not quite clear yet.

I have more time in this new chapter and passions that have grown in ways I did not expect. I want to invest in young adult women who are trying to find their footing. I want to see singles thrive in the church, investing in their community in rich ways. I want to see women my age feel empowered to use their gifts to build the kingdom because God does not give us gifts he does not intend to be used, regardless of gender. I want to see women move through college, their job searches, their singleness, their friendships and relations with great purpose.

These are abstract and lofty wants. So how does that come to be?

I have many more shrugs than I do answers, honestly. But I do know that I have so many friends that are in this twenty-something stage of shrugs and I have been given two ears to listen with. I have a table to gather people around to enjoy a meal and each other’s company. I have a heart for books and discussions and love to host. These are just small things, but they are what I have to offer.

I trust fruit comes of our desires and our offerings.

I want to invest in my craft

I finished the first draft of my novel.

This is huge and I’m excited about this, but this is by no means the finish line.

I have taken January off from writing to rest a little, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything. I have been reading like a crazy woman since New Year’s Day and I’m loving it. (Also, if you’re looking for recommendations, the top of my list are this, this, and this.)

Once this month is over, I’ll be printing off the manuscript and reading as a whole for the first time. I’ll start making my edits and preparing it for a string of first readers. I’m excited, but also nervous because this is farther in the process than I’ve ever been. This is further out in the gray reality than I’ve let myself get as an artist. It is risk and that is terrifying, but freeing all at once.

This is an investment in my craft that I am dedicating myself to this year and we’ll see how it goes.

I want to invest in the word

I’m learning there is nothing better I can do for those in my life than to be invest in the word.

The plan is to make regular time for silence and refocusing. To be grounded in God’s higher thoughts than reliant on my lower ones.


This is a year for growing up and giving out. I am so excited to see where it may lead.

What are you striving toward this year?


Pray A to Z


Being downright honest here, I’ve felt a lot of tension with the church as of late.

In light of some words and actions of the evangelical body during and after the election, I am really uneasy taking on that label. (Though this great statement from Fuller Seminary has provided some encouragement) I have felt shamed and discouraged, while simultaneously left angry and speechless.

And I have no influence.

As I watch my church become more of a family ministry center, I find that I’m not sure where I, as a single young woman, fit in. I can easily fall for the lie that I have nothing to offer and no place to serve because, somehow, having a husband and children somehow equips you to be a better disciple. I can feel isolated and alone.

I can feel like I have no influence.

I long for things to be made right. I long to have a place at the table, a voice in the conversation. I long for young adult women to know that they are not alone and are valued exactly where God has placed them right now.

I am a knot of wants and desires, but so much of what I long for is outside of my circle of control.

But there’s the thing:

I do have influence. I have the ear of the king.

I have often struggled with prayer feeling passive, but that is a lie! Prayer is the most powerful thing we can do in dark times, when the brokenness closes in, when we are discouraged and our community around us is disheartened and disillusioned.

prayatoz-707x1024Amelia Rhodes book Pray A to Z fell into my hands at the right time. When I was feeling most powerless, this book was an invitation into the throne room.

I am only one woman. I cannot do much. But I can get down on my knees.

Each letter of the alphabet is represented through three prayers of petition and two of praise. Rhodes has covered topics so thoughtfully. So often I would turn to a new section and think that topic didn’t apply to my community, but as I read her description and prayer, God would bring a situation or a need to mind.

As I search for a place to serve my community, I am finding that it is in the quiet moments. It is in those moments of prayer that God pulls me out of myself and reminds me of the needs of those around me.

No, I may not have much influence in a physical sense, but God has still asked me to come to him.

Pray A to Z has been a wonderful tool in my prayer life. You can read more about the book and the original blog series here.

You can purchase your own copy here! This is a great Christmas gift for anyone on your list.

Books for Those Wondering ‘Now What?’

A sweet friend who recently graduated asked me to write a post about what being in that position was like.

I blogged a lot during that season of life. (Some of which you can read here, here, and here.) The truth of the matter is, it still feels like I’m in the middle of that season. It’s only been three years since I’ve been out of school.

I’m still waiting for someone to figure out I’m a fraud, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we’re all waiting for that. This has been three years of riding on God’s grace and taking each opportunity in stride.

I’m definitely no expert, but some dear voices have spoke into my life. I’ve had some wonderful guides in this no-mans-land and I’m so grateful.

Some of these voices have been writers who’s words have come at just the right time with a message I deeply needed.

So, for anyone out there who’s trying to figure out what on earth is next, here are some of the books that guided me along my way so far.

Life Together—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life TogetherLeaving behind my college community meant investing differently in relationships. Friends were no longer just down the hall or across campus, They were across town or out of state. It was going to take more of an effort.

Being in close community is something I have to be more intentional about, but it is something I need. Bonhoeffer unpacks a beautiful vision of what community in the church is supposed to be. The first chapter alone is a game changer and is full-to-the-brim with  encouragement and challenges for those establishing a community.

Anne of Green Gables—L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green GablesOne of the beautiful things about finishing school was being able to read what I wanted. I began reading childhood favorites. It’s been so fun.
Anne of Green Gables was a beautiful reminder of what it means to live in wonder. Anne’s curiosity and imagination are aspects I want to emulate in my adulthood as a creative. (Plus this Rifle Paper Co. edition is BEAUTIFUL!)

Five Aspects of a Woman—Barbara Mouser

The new Bible College Spinster series is coming for a search for what it means to be a well-rounded and thriving single person. Part of what has been important to me in the search is being a woman.
Hands-down, the most influential book in my time out of school has been the bible study, 5 Aspects of a Woman. Mouser’s in depth look at what God intended in creating woman has been a huge encouragement. I recommend this not only for women, but for men as well. I learned so much about my brothers in Christ while pondering the implications of this great book.

All Groan Up-Paul Angone

All Groan UpThis season of life requires a sense of humor. It also requires some brutal honesty.
Angone provides both in this great book on what on earth this season of clueless and tension is all about. “Groan” is such a good word to use for what those post-grad months (and years) feel like. He unpacks what he took from his own journey and shares them in such a graceful and loving manner. In a time I was shrugging my shoulders about my life, a friend passed along an excerpt of the book and I went right out and purchased my own copy.
If I was wealthier, I would buy this book for all my college grad friends.

East of Eden-John Steinbeck

East of EdenI was looking for a book to wreck me and this book fit the bill.
This post-grad time is the perfect time in life to grapple with Timnshel. (Which is not just a Mumford & Sons song, people!)
This book is deep and difficult, but when you’re suddenly without homework, you have time for deep and difficult. Or at least you should make time for it.

Surprised by Oxford-Carolyn Weber

Surprised by OxfordI’ve been wondering if it’s time to look at grad school and, honestly, I’m still on the fence. But for anyone wondering if that’s next on the docket, Weber’s memoir is so good. And even if you’re not wondering that, it’s still so good.
She describes her testimony—which takes place during the first year of her master’s program…at Oxford. Part spiritual memoir, part bookworm feast, part romantic-comedy—it’s just a fun book.

Bittersweet-Shauna Niequist

BittersweetProbably the hardest thing to learn in this season is that things do not go your way. More times than not, things just won’t come together the way you planned and sometimes that is painful. Being turned down for jobs, or even not getting an interview. Waiting for a significant other. Looking for healthy community. There will be times we don’t get what we’re looking for.
Shauna’s look at beauty and brokenness side-by-side was like medicine to my heart. I read it after exiting a pretty toxic community. Her vulnerability spoke right to my ache and I’m so grateful for the healing that came from this book.

Friday Favorites: March 2016


So I am aware that today is April, but like a fool (see what I did there), I totally forgot to publish this last Friday…And you can’t post a Friday Favorites post on any other day. That’d be weird.

So March was reading month and I took advantage of it to take some books off my reading list and add some to it. Here is the fruit of that labor:

1. A Prayer Journal—Flannery O’Connor

Flannery is way out of my league, but if you want a mentor on the written word through the written word, she’s the way to go.
For Christmas, my sister had picked up my subtle* hint that I wanted a copy of the short story master’s prayer journal and I’m so thankful she did.
O’Connor shows beautiful vulnerability and insecurities that are easily echoed by so many writers. I read this in one sitting and loved it.
*By subtle, I mean I sent an email with accompanying Amazon links. I’m smooth like that.

2. Me Before You—Jojo Moyes

I am not a romance fan, but I love a good love story…and a candy read in the airport. I’m headed to Austin in a few days and wanted something simple and fun for the travel. I started this a couple days ago and think this will really fit the travel bill.
I would also like to say that I am bringing along a favorite literary journal to save face among the Austin hipster set…

3. Restless—Jennie Allen

I bought this book a while back to read with a friend for two reasons: 1.) The title said it all when it came to what we were feeling in our opposite life stages and 2.) The internal design is really great*.
…But then we got too busy between her two kids and my unpredictable work life to actually read the book together. I dusted it off earlier this month and have appreciated what I’ve gleaned so far.
*Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge it by the internal design. And who are we kidding—you can totally judge a book by its cover!

4. The Dark Sea of Darkness—Andrew Peterson

The title says it all.
…And if the title doesn’t say it all, here’s a little more: This is the first book in the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (who is also a musician). It’s a fabulous children’s series and a modern classic. It features quirky creatures and great dialogue and a completely original world. And who doesn’t need a good middle-grade read?…as a mid-twenty something…don’t judge. You know this is the one recommendation on this list that interests you the most.

5. On Beauty—Zadie Smith

I’m attending the Festival of Faith and Writing later this month at Calvin College*. Zadie Smith is one of the key note speakers. I found this book at a fantastic bookshop in Battle Creek a couple weekends ago and am hoping to polish off this novel before the conference. It’s a little more arty than I tend toward, but I’ve often felt that way about books I’ve picked up at the festival and they’ve always ended up being some of my favorites.
*No, I don’t get a pay raise for mentioning them…that’d be nice though…I think the blog might take an unfortunate tangent for a while…

What books have pulled you through the month of March? Any recommendations I should keep an eye out for? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.