12 Books in 12 Months

I’m not really a New Year’s resolution type of girl. I do my word for the year, but I rarely set actual, measurable goals at the beginning of the year. But for some reason, this year feels a little different.

I have a few health goals I want to accomplish, a few business related things, and then this personal goal: read (at least) twelve books this year. One per month, at the least. 12 Books in 12 Months

This goal would have seemed positively ridiculous to me five years ago. I have always loved to read, and in the past I would finish a book in two or three days. But, times have changed and the little people in my world don’t allow for much reading, so I’ve really let the habit slip over the past few years. So I decided to set an easily accomplished goal to nudge myself back into my book worm ways.

I have just been collecting books over the past couple of years, and I never seem to get around to reading many of them. Not only that, but I borrowed several books from my mom last year, and I haven’t read a single one of them. I decided to just choose twelve that appealed to me, that seem appropriate for this stage of life, whatever it may be. I’m hopeful that I’ll read much more than the twelve I’ve chosen – there are a few books I know that are coming out over the next few months that I want to get to – but if I can get these twelve read, I’ll be happy.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve chosen. This isn’t the order I plan to read them – I haven’t decided that quite yet. I have started with The Alchemist though, and I’m loving it so far.

  • She’s Still There – Chrystal Evans Hurst
  • The Shack – William P. Young
  • The Prayer of Jabez – Bruce Wilkinson
  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  • Strong Mothers, Strong Sons – Meg Meeker, MD
  • The Best Yes – Lysa Terkeurst
  • Hold: How to Find, Buy and Rent Houses for Wealth – Gary W. Keller, Jay Papasan, Jennice Doty, Jim McKissack, Linda McKissack, and Steve Chader
  • Love That Lasts – Jefferson & Alyssa Bethke
  • Grace, Not Perfection – Emily Ley
  • 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 – Thomas W. Phelan
  • The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  • Crazy Love – Francis Chan

So – what am I missing that I need to absolutely, positively make room for? I LOVE book suggestions, so hit me with whatever you’ve got.

What I’m Reading

I mentioned in my What I’m Loving post a couple weeks ago that I am really loving reading right now. I’ve always been a book lover, but since becoming a mom I’ve had a hard time making room for it in my schedule. Something I’ve been doing the last couple of months is making myself take the time, even when I can look around and see seventeen things I need to be doing. Instead of getting on the computer to work on things, some evenings I’ll just get in bed and read for awhile – especially if my husband is traveling. And with my trip to Nashville for the Influence Conference, I had so much downtime in the hotel and on the plane that I actually got the chance to finish an entire book that weekend – that hasn’t happened in YEARS, you guys.

So I thought I would share what I’ve been reading with you all. If you’re looking for a good book but don’t know where to start because there are basically a million choices out there, hopefully this will help. I have a goal to read at least one book a month, and I’m hopeful that I’ll find the time for more, so you may see this type of post pop up from time to time.What I'm Reading | Haven Gray Blog

The Magnolia Story – Chip & Joanna Gaines

This is what I read on my trip to Nashville, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I adore Chip & Joanna after all the binge watching of Fixer Upper that I’ve done, but I thought it would probably be a pretty basic retelling of the story we’ve gathered over the last few years. However, it included quite a bit more insight and heartfelt storytelling than I was expecting. Their story of how they came together is pretty cute, and the fact that they continually bring up the fact that they are stronger together, more successful together, and have more fun together is a refreshing take on marriage. I actually found it to be really inspiring when they would touch on following God’s plan for your life and chasing your dreams with that in mind, which was pretty timely for all that’s been going through my head lately. It’s a quick, easy read and I really, really enjoyed it.

For The Love – Jen Hatmaker

Oh man do I love Jen Hatmaker. I feel like we are soul sisters. Everything I’ve read of hers I’ve loved, and every time I see her speak or even read a social media post from her I think YES. That is exactly how I feel. So it’s no surprise that I loved this book. She has such a hilarious way with words, and I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the book. This isn’t a book that tells a chronological story, it’s more a collection of chapters on different subjects, although they tie in to a similar theme throughout the book. One of my favorite things about her is her brutal honesty and the fact that she would rather speak the truth than make people happy. I think we need so much more of that. If you’ve never read something of hers, this is a good place to start.

Carry On, Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton

Oh goodness I started this book so long ago, and I really have enjoyed it, even though it’s taken me a million years to get through it. That is in no way a reflection on the book at all, more a reflection on the state of my life. So many chapters I’ve read and been like THIS IS MY LIFE – I even made my husband read a chapter that summed up my feelings on a particular subject exactly. He didn’t find it near as moving as me, to say the least. If you’re not familiar with Glennon Doyle Melton, I will say she’s a little rough around the edges when compared to “normal” Christian writers. She talks a lot about Jesus, but she’s a recovering addict and keeps nothing from her readers. This is why I adore her, but this is why I’m sure a lot of people find her offensive. I love her message and I love what she stands for, but consider this your warning – she may totally not be for you, at all. I imagine it’s a “love or hate” kind of thing with her.

OK – your turn. What do I need to be reading? Clearly from this post you can tell I am making up for the time I’ve lost over the last few years – I’m pretty sure The Magnolia Story is the only relatively new book on the list. Help a sister out!

What I’m Loving

I did “What I’m Loving” posts occasionally on my former blog {Our Fabulous Life in the Suburbs}, and they are some of my favorite posts to look back on. I think it’s fun to capture favorite things of the moment, because they tend to change as the seasons in life change. So I decided that this will be one of the few things I incorporate over here from my blogging past.

In fact, I would super love if you would share some of what you’re loving with me! Either share your current loves here in the comments, or write your own “What I’m Loving” post and link to it in the comments. That would totally make my day, plus it will be fun for all of us, right?

On to the list!

What I'm Loving | Haven Gray Blog

  • Reading

Guys, I LOVE to read. I love it so, so much. Since I first learned how I have been the hugest book nerd around. But – I have literally read like one or two books a YEAR for the past three years. You know what else I’ve done for the past three years? Parented children. I will never understand how moms with itty bitty kids find the time to read on a regular basis. It’s just so hard! But I have been making a huge effort to read actual books (not just “read” my Instagram feed), and I am loving it. I’ve been working on the same book for probably three months now – For The Love by Jen Hatmaker, if you’re curious – but I’m actually almost done, and I have loved the book so much. I’ve started making it a point to just get in bed and read every once in awhile. Or when I blow dry my hair, I’ll read. I even brought it out into the living room and read a little bit while the kids were playing one day. Can I just say, the fact that my children are starting to play together well enough that I can actually sit for five minutes and do that is a small miracle that I should stop right here and say a prayer of thanks for.

  • Working Out

OK, this is kind of a lie because I’m not totally loving this, but I am loving that I am forcing myself to do this. I am not an exercise kind of girl. I was always super active when I was young, either dancing or cheering, and even in college I would sporadically go to the gym and take classes or do the elliptical, but for the past five years I have done NOTHING. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve been to the gym since I found out I was pregnant with Grayson – maybe on one hand, if we’re being honest. And it’s not like I’m doing anything at home other than chasing my kids around. But I finally decided that it is past time to get my stuff together and I am currently doing a BeachBody challenge thing with a sweet friend that I actually met through blogging several years ago. Basically every square inch of my body is in pain at the moment, but I am definitely loving the rush I’m getting from being active again!

  • Hilarious/Cute Children

Goodness gracious, kids are so dang funny. I think they very likely have to be funny and cute so you don’t just give them away when they’ve been whining for 4 hours straight, but this is just a theory. Right now both my boys are in peak funny stages, and it is so much fun. Grayson is hilarious because of the crazy things that come out of his mouth and the thoughts he’s developing. I can see him morphing from a toddler into a little kid right in front of my eyes and it is so cute and sad and funny all at once. And Gavin is just positively hysterical in every way. I think he is destined to be a class clown, because he loves to make us laugh and is the happiest kid I have ever been around in my life. He is constantly dancing, miming and pointing and jabbering away in words only he understands in the most excited way possible, and doing crazy daredevil things that terrify me and make him laugh uncontrollably. And then the two of them get together and run around like mad men, chasing and wrestling and laughing. Be still, my mama heart. Man, they drive me nutty so often but they really are just the best.

  • Mommy Time

I almost can’t believe this is happening, but I am leaving town this weekend – without my children – and will be gone for almost three days. Without my children. Daddy will be in charge, and Mommy and Nana are heading to Nashville for the Influence Conference! I somehow miraculously won two tickets from a contest on Instagram, and since my husband travels so often we were able to use his points to cover most of the travel expenses, so we are jetting off for a fun girls weekend and I am beyond excited! My mom and I are really close, so having some time away without the kiddos will be so much fun for us I think. I can’t wait to sleep without tiny feet in my ribs and without waking up to comfort whichever kid is awake in the middle of night, to eat while my food is hot, to shower without someone banging on the door… I know I’ll miss them like crazy, but I’m gonna soak it up while I’m there!

I would so love if you would share what you’re loving either here or over on Instagram or Facebook – I’m hanging out over there pretty frequently, so please follow along! I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happy Friday, friends!