Debbie Williamson

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

What I’m Reading

Reading is my favorite thing. Here are the non-fiction books I’ve read lately. However, if you need a good legal/CIA/FBI thriller for vacation, or if you want to take a break from reading with a highlighter, check out my Goodreads page.


Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith, by Sarah Bessey

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande

Scary Close: dropping the act and finding true intimacy, by Donald Miller

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, by Richard Rohr

The ZIMZUM of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage, by Rob and Kristen Bell

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle

Everything You Ever Wanted: a Memoir, by Jillian Lauren

It Was Me All Along: A Memoir, by Andie Mitchell

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

Love Warrior:  A Memoir, by Glennon Doyle Melton

Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church, by Rachel Held Evans

7 Women, and the Secret of their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas. Remarkable. “What makes a woman great? 7 Women explores the question by telling the captivating stories of seven women who changed the course of history.” Karen Swallow Prior says, “This might be the best book you read all year.” Metaxas also wrote Bonhoeffer and 7 Men.

Rising Strong, The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. By Brené Brown. “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.” Loved.Every.Page. She is also the author of Daring Greatly, and has been a huge inspiration to me regarding living with courage, integrity and self-respect. Her TED talks are hilarious and informative and I cannot recommend her work highly enough. Rising Strong is about finding wholehearted ways to navigate struggle.

For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker. Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. Who wouldn’t want to read about that!? Loved every page and was so sad when I finished. She is funny, profound and filled with grace and love for God’s people and His Church. The back cover says, “A raucous ride to freedom.” Yep. It sure was.

Talk Like Ted, by Carmine Gallo. The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. If you do any public speaking, if you are ever in a place where you have to pitch yourself to an audience, then this is the book for you. Interesting and informative, Talk Like Ted “will teach you have to win over hearts and minds, and give you the confidence to deliver the talk of your life.”

Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist. The subtitle is: A love letter to life around the table (with recipes). It’s part-memoir, part cookbook. The cookbook part is what kept me from reading this when it first came out — I’d rather been doing anything else, but cooking. But when my sister sent it as a gift, I dove right in. Shauna is a wonderful writer, and these recipes are truly love letters to her life around her table. The chapters are sweet and each recipe ties into what she’s just shared. She encourages her readers to “gather the people you love around your table to eat and drink, to tell stories, to be heard and fed and nourished on every level.” I loved every page and am committed to making every recipe in the book! It’s never too late to do life differently.

the life-changing magic of tidying up, by marie kondo. Marie writes about the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, and boy, is she inspiring! She “takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.” I’m hooked! Get this book and use the summer to determine what “sparks joy” for you and what doesn’t “and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home.”

Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber. Wonderful, beautiful, poignant. This is Carolyn’s story of leaving Canada to do graduate work at Oxford University. Her journey progresses academically, but through loving, faith-filled friends, she also discovers and embraces the God of the universe and His great love and grace for her. I cried, I laughed, I was sad when I turned the last page.

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss, by Jerry Sittser. “In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life—one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.”

The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst. One of those books that comes along that inspires and transforms. Lysa proposes that there is a “big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.” You need this book NOW!!!

Flipped, by Doug Pagitt. The sub-title is: “The Provocative Truth That Changes Everything We Know About God.” When we can fully understand the truth that we are “In God,” everything does change. A life of freedom? Or a life of rules? Pagitt explores what it means to be “In God,” and how that truth, those two little words, can flip what we’ve always been taught to believe.

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. Terrific, terrific, terrific. This is the true story of “nine American men and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.”

Born Again, by Charles Colson. Who wouldn’t want to read the story of one man’s remarkable transformation and how it all unfolded during one of the most infamous periods in United States history?! How glad I am to have finally read it after all these years.

Common Prayer – A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro. As a result of reading Kneeling With Giants, I took this off my shelf and have been reading through one liturgy each day. It is wonderful and I am learning to love the directed prayers and readings. It is meant to be read in community – I am not doing that. But what I do understand is that “even as I pray by myself, I know I am not really alone.” (p. 19)

Kneeling With Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers, by Gary Neal Hansen. I was wanting to learn more about prayer as well as do prayer in different ways. This book outlines ten different authentically Christian ways to pray that span many centuries and include many traditions.

Surprised by Motherhood, by Lisa-Jo Baker. Honest and sweet, it’s part travel book, part parenting book, part memoir.

not a fan., by Kyle Idleman. My 92 year old dad read this and has been transformed! What am I suppose to say when he asks if I want to read it. So I did. And I am glad. The sub title is: “Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus.” If my dad, at 92! thinks there is still room to grow spiritually, then so do I! Idleman calls us to take an honest look at our relationship with Jesus. Pretty radical, but then, so is Jesus.

On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. This is “The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction.”

The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen. This story of homecoming is beautiful, profound and transformational. One of my favorite books of all time.

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. The Boston Globe says, “No book in shorter space, with fewer words, will help any writer more than this persistent little volume.” 

On Writing, by Stephen King. Loved this book! I’m not a fan of his fiction – I am a wimp when it comes to gore and scariness. However, this book on writing is wonderful. Here are some quotes from the back cover: “A one-of-a-kind classic;” “This is a special book, animated by a unique intelligence, and filled with useful truth;” “The best book on writing. Ever.” Half auto-biography, half inspiration and instruction, if you are writing at all for any reason, this is a must have book.

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James. I love this author and have read everything she has written (look her up on Amazon). So much here that I thought I would quote the last paragraph on the last page. This sums it up for me. “One hundred years from now may it never be said of this generation of ezers that we folded our hands and left God’s kingdom work to others. May it never be said that we ignored the cries of the helpless and focused on ourselves. Let it be said that God used those cries to awaken a sleeping giantess and filled her with a terrible resolve — half the church, angered and outraged at the unchecked forces of evil in God’s world. That we made up our minds to do something, that our efforts forced the darkness to recede, and that we left the world better off than we found it. May we be remembered as a generation who caught God’s vision, faced our fears, and rose up to serve His cause.”

Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey. Bessey’s voice is kind and gentle and her words compelled me to process differently ideas I’ve had for a long time. I have always believed women have a place in the church as leaders and teachers — we are half the church, after all — and this book helped me formulate again in my mind and heart why I do believe what I believe. Brian McLaren says this on the back cover, “I love writers who are insightful enough to be cynical but choose not to be. I love books that help me see things I’d never seen before–in life, in myself, in the Bible, in Jesus. For these reasons and more, I love Jesus Feminist.

Love Does, by Bob Goff. Wildly popular because who doesn’t want to “discover a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world?” If you like Donald Miller, you will like this. As the back cover says, “It’s full of paradigm shifts, musings and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact?  Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob is convinced love takes action. Love Does.

Dreaming With God, by Bill Johnson. How do we co-labor with God for cultural transformation?  We live on the creative edge. We value the mystery of the Bible as we learn the language of the Spirit, of wisdom and revelation. We celebrate the Living Word and understand in a new way the difference between living focused on obedience and living focused on relationship.

David and Goliath – Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giantsby Malcolm Gladwell.  I do love Malcolm Gladwell’s work. (Also, The Tipping Point; Outliers; Blink) In David and Goliath, “Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, he examines Northern Ireland’s Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms—all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.”

Keep Your Love On, by Danny Silk. Connection, communication and boundaries in relationships. Really, really great. In conversations I am having these days, I find myself saying, “There’s this really good book that might help you in this situation you are in.”

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, by Timothy Keller. A book of freedom for those of us who find ourselves daily in the court of what other people think of us and what we think of ourselves. Based on 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, Keller unpacks Paul’s words on the freedom of self-forgetfulness. “True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself.  In fact, I stop thinking about myself.  The freedom of self-forgetfulness.”

Kisses from Katie – A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, by Katie Davis with Beth Clark. “Katie Davis left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely upside down. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them.” I was drawn into Katie’s story from the first page and loved every courageous and heartbreaking detail. We are not all called to do what Katie is doing, but we are all called to be present and serve the least of these in our midst.

Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt. This book is a “step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell.” It is practical, applicable, and very user friendly for anyone wanting to be noticed for what they love doing. It’s all about “expanding your influence” and “building your platform”.

Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown. This is a very amazing book about Vulnerability, Shame, Courage, Wholeheartedness and Connection. It is about “how to cultivate resilience in the face of believing that we’re not enough.” This is what she says about wholehearted living: “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”  Look Brené up on YouTube.

By the way, if you read my early posts, you will recognize this theme of Daring Greatly. Funny story . . . I had ordered Daring Greatly without paying any attention to the title, really – I just knew that I would love anything Brené Brown writes. I had seen her online giving this terrific TED talk in Houston. Then, I found the Teddy Roosevelt quote in my files and decided it would make a great launch for a blog post. I posted the quote and used two days to write about Daring Greatly. Pushed publish and off they went. The next day! I get a box from Amazon with my two books (Never only order one book! Must get free shipping!) and in it was Brené’s book entitled, Daring Greatly. The quote by Teddy Roosevelt was on the inside jacket cover! Crazy. So, that’s the story. Really. Total, 100% coincidence. Except I really don’t believe in coincidences, so . . .  hmmm . . . God can be kinda awesome that way. 🙂

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