recent reads, all time favorites and to reads


In middle school, the first books that got me into reading were the Twilight series and the Christy Miller series (which turned into the love of ALL books by Robin Jones Gunn- she’s still my all time favorite author and Christy and Todd are actual couple goals). Throughout middle and high school, I was very into fiction books. Nicholas Sparks, Sarah Dessen, the Divergent series, the Hunger Games series and many other stories along the way… you get the drift. (And I’m very embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter books… what is wrong with me, really?) But lately I have been on a nonfiction kick. So, I wanted to share with you some of the books I’ve read as well as some that are on my to-read list that I already know will be amazing.

First up, my current read:

Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne
I’ve been wanting to read a book by Shane for a while now and when I found out about this one, I knew it was one that I had to read. I’m only two chapters in right now, but it has already challenged me in how I think about the death penalty. I know many people will automatically turn away from this book especially if they are pro-death penalty because Shane is making the argument against it. But he writes it in a way that appeals to all audiences. For a long time, he was for the death penalty and he recounts what made his opinion change while having compassion and understanding for those who are for it. He also doesn’t leave a subject or role in executions untouched. He covers it all, has real-life examples and stories and Jesus is laced throughout the entire book. I’m very excited to finish reading it, and I highly recommend it!

Current devotional:

Savor by Shauna Niequist
I received this as a gift at Christmas and was very excited to get a devotional. I’ve admittedly been struggling in the quiet time department and was thankful to receive something that could be a guide for me during that time. Since it’s a daily devotional, I decided to start it on January 1st. Again, I’ll admit I’ve gotten a few weeks behind on it recently. But I’m hoping to get back into it. So far, I really enjoy reading what Shauna has to say. It’s not the deepest writing ever, but it’s a good pick-me-up during the day.

Next up, my recent favorites:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book, y’all. I think this book is a new all time favorite. It’s a book that I could 100% see myself reading again (and I don’t re-read books often) and a book I could post a quote from every day. Bryan is one of my favorite people. My first exposure to him was a TED talk by him that I watched in one of my classes. Let’s just say that I’ve now seen that TED talk probably ten times. Bryan is a lawyer and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He’s been on the front lines of the injustices within the criminal justice system for years and has been an advocate and warrior in fighting to correct those injustices. This book is full of heartbreaking as well as celebratory stories that he experienced first-hand. Before reading this book, I would have considered myself fairly knowledgeable of the injustices within the CJ system but I learned so much from this book and I know I’d learn even more if I read it again. There were stories that almost brought me to tears, stories that made me full of anger at the injustices, but the book was also full of grace and mercy and redemption and it is beautiful. It is a beautiful book and you should read it.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey has been one of my favorite social media presents for a little while now. So when I got this book, I was excited to dig into her actual work. Jesus Feminist probably sounds scary to some people (oh no, the F-word!), but I think this is a book for everyone (male or female). Even if you don’t think you consider yourself a feminist, Sarah does an excellent job of redefining the word in a Biblical context. She quite literally revisits the role of women in the church, and it was very inspiring to me. Sarah’s voice and writing is stunning. She is extremely knowledgeable of the gospel, and it’s obvious that she has done her research. Again, I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Out of Sorts, when my to-read list gets a little less long.

Books I’ve started but not quite finished:

America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
Jim is the founder of Sojourners, a faith-based online news outlet (of sorts). I stumbled across Sojourners a while ago and instantly fell in love with their mission. Their articles are some of my favorites to read. Currently, one of my good friends is interning for them and I was given this book by her before she left. I got about a third of the way through before I (temporarily) abandoned it and moved on to something else. It wasn’t at all because I didn’t love it. Jim has amazing and knowledgeable input on racism, and this book is most definitely an important and necessary read. For some reason, I just had to take a break from it, though. I think the writing was just a little too long and hard for me at the time I was reading it. But eventually, I look forward to finishing it up. I would definitely recommend that everyone check out Sojourners as well as this book.

Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
I started this book, but then I think I got another book that I really, really wanted to read so I put this one down and picked that one up. Rachel is another one of my favorite people on social media, and I’ve been wanting to read one of her books for a while. This was the first one I found (and also her first book I think) so I got it. I only got a few pages in before I moved to the other book, but I have a feeling that I’m going to like it. I don’t agree with every single thing that Rachel believes, but I enjoy learning more about her viewpoint so I’m excited to dig deeper into her faith journey. I’m also looking forward to eventually reading her other books as well.

Finally, my to-read list:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This book is currently sitting on my bookshelf. It scares me slightly because it looks like a textbook, but I am so excited to read it. I read a couple of chapters in one of my classes so I already know that it’s amazing. I just have to motivate myself to read the entire thing. Michelle is a law professor and an outstanding woman. She is so knowledgeable on mass incarceration, the criminal justice system and race, and all of that knowledge is revealed in this book. It’s not an easy or comfortable book to read. I know it will be challenging and uncomfortable to me, but I would easily consider this book the most important book on this list (and it’s one of the ones I haven’t read…). Like all of these books, I would highly recommend this one.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
I also received this book as a Christmas present. The only thing I really know about it is that a friend posted a quote from it, I fell in love, and I wanted to read it. Gregory is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. The book tells stories from his time working with the individuals in the program. In the about section on the back of the book, it says ” Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.” So basically, I know I’m going to love it.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Jen is another one of my favorite people to follow on social media. So again, I wanted to read her books. This is just the book that’s currently sitting on my bookshelf. But I’m looking forward to reading any or all of her books. She’s hilarious but also graceful and profound. When I finally decide to read something lighter, I’m going straight to this one.


And that’s everything (for now)! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever read any of these books and what you think of them if you have. Are there any you’re going to the bookstore to pick up right now? I want to know that too. Also, feel free to leave me suggestions on what I should read next. I always welcome a longer to-read list and a messier bookshelf.




I’ve been thinking about confidence lately.

I really don’t have much confidence at all if I’m being honest.

It’s the ultimate reason for why it’s frustratingly impossible for me to take part in class discussions. It’s why I worry about what I look like. It’s why I trail off on my sentences or take back what I said. It’s the reason I second-guess myself and can’t make decisions. It’s why I get nervous before things like presentations or going somewhere new or talking to someone I don’t know.

It all goes back to confidence.

But in all of that, I’ve realized that not being confident in myself means I’m not confident in God. He made me. He made my passions, my knowledge, my opinions, ideas and thoughts. He made my appearance. He made me exactly how I am for a reason and a purpose. So, I should be confident in that because it’s from Him, and He is perfect. Because He is perfect and knows all things and sees all things, I can be confident in Him and trust Him which means I can be confident and trust myself because He is in me.

I was listening to The Artist by Rend Collective on my car ride home and it says “You make all things bright and beautiful, wild and colorful. You make our lives bright and beautiful, wild and colorful. You are the artist.” It’s so good and so convicting. It’s so easy to love God’s creation and other people because of the beauty in them. (For the most part, anyway.) But I struggle so hard to love myself and find that beauty in me. Why, though?

I’m just as much His creation as everybody else. I’m loved like everyone else. I’m forgiven and given grace and mercy. Jesus died for me too. But I seem to forget that.

I think it’s hard because I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want the attention to be on me because then I’ll look self-absorbed. I want to care about others so badly that I tend to neglect myself. That thought process is almost prideful, though.  It’s almost prideful of me to not be confident in myself. It’s prideful to want to be better or prettier because then I’m hoping to change how God created me. I am perfectly Mikayla, and you are perfectly you. We’re not perfect, but we’re the perfect one of us because we’re the only one of us.

I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to love others the way you should if you don’t love yourself like you should.

So here’s my challenge to you and me… embrace yourself. love yourself. be yourself.

Be exactly who God made you to be, and don’t let anyone especially yourself give you a reason not to be confident in that.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:14

A Controversial Blog by Mikayla

Here it is. Arguably the most controversial topic in the United States currently and potentially the most controversial blog I’ve written. People on both sides are probably going to disagree with something I say in this blog. And honestly, there’s conflict within myself about this topic. That’s why I’m writing this blog. I want to not only form some kind of logical thoughts within my own brain, but I want to hear from you. No, I don’t want to start arguments or anything like that. But I would like to hear your opinions. So tell them to me! I won’t promise I’ll agree, but friendly discussions of opinions where each other are open to hearing the other person’s. Those are good. So, let’s do this.


To begin, I’ll state the fact that most of you probably know I’m going to say. Homosexuality is a sin.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” -Leviticus 18:22

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

It clearly states it in the Bible (in the Old and the New Testaments). BUT, it’s not any worse than lying. Or cheating. Or murder. Or anything stated in the 1 Corinthians passage.

Let’s take me as an example. I worry A LOT. Like way too much for an average human. That’s a sin. My worrying is saying I don’t trust God. It’s 100% a sin, and 100% equal to the severity of homosexuality. We, as humans, spend so much time placing sins into categories of what is worse than the others. But God places them all under one category… sin. It all looks the same to Him. A girl was passing out a survey the other day. Part of it was to rank “evil” things from 1-10 or place Not Evil beside it. I ranked like a human. I put what I thought was the most evil as 10 and put something like lying as the least evil. That’s not how God would have ranked it. I am certain of it.

Taking that into consideration, we, as Christians, aren’t supposed to hate homosexuals. In fact, we aren’t supposed to hate anyone. “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:20-21 We are to love EVERYONE. Everyone sins. Homosexuals aren’t exempt from the love everyone rule. I hate to burst your bubble. We can’t pick and choose who we love based on the “severity” of their sin.

Some of you might be saying… “But Mikayla, you don’t know what it’s like to know someone who’s gay. It’s hard to love them.” Wrong. I DO know. My best friend from middle school is gay. I didn’t know it at the time, and we aren’t close anymore. But the reason we aren’t close isn’t because she’s gay. We just grew apart. I love her still, though. My favorite professor I’ve had in college. She’s gay. I would take her for every class if I could. Not to mention the multiple Christians who I call good friends who have struggled with homosexuality in the past. (This goes back to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11… You can be washed clean of all sin including homosexuality. It irks me when people judge people on their past especially if they’ve been redeemed. They are a new person in Christ! The past doesn’t matter.) I love all of those people. And I’m not saying that to make myself sound better than anyone else. I’m saying it because I recognize that it’s a sin, but I still love them. It’s hard to love everyone, I know. But we’re supposed to hate the sin, not the sinner. That’s how Jesus lived so that’s how we should live.

Now, I’ve gotten through the easy part. It’s easy to prove that homosexuality is a sin, but you should still love the homosexual. What’s left is hard. This is the part that I don’t know about. It’s the part that I’m conflicted about.

Can people who live in the constant sin of homosexuality go to Heaven?

I don’t know. Part of me wants to point out that as Christians we are to strive to be as much like Christ as we possibly can. So, we shouldn’t knowingly live in sin. If we are true Christians then, we wouldn’t marry someone of the same sex. So, if you are living like that and claim to be a Christian, maybe you aren’t actually a Christian. But part of me also says that I don’t know anyone’s heart except my own. Who am I to say that a woman who is married to a woman isn’t going to Heaven?

That brings me to gay marriage.

If you know me at all, you know that I am super duper into equality. I have a very passionate hate towards inequality. So, this is where my dilemma lies. Is it equal that everyone has the same opportunity to marry someone of the opposite sex? I convinced myself that that was the case for years. But, maybe it should be that everyone should have the same opportunity to marry someone they love…

There’s also the argument that marriage is a Godly act so because it is a sin to practice homosexuality, they shouldn’t be able to get married. But a lot of people who aren’t Christians get married on a daily basis. If we were to make this argument, then SO many people shouldn’t be married right now. Anyone who isn’t a Christian shouldn’t be married.

Then there’s the separation of church and state thing. I don’t even know how to get into that.

As you can see, I’m a little fuzzy. I’ll admit to that. I don’t know. But I do know that I feel strongly about loving people who are gay. The “God hates fags” mindset of so many Christians today isn’t a proper depiction of the Gospel. It’s no where close. I’m going through the book of John right now… there’s so many times where Jesus loves the unlovable. The Samaritan woman, the disabled man at the pool, the adulterous woman, the blind man, He loved them all when no one else did. That should be us! That’s my prayer for me and you. That we will love everyone like Christ did. But not loving them in a way where we hide the truth. Loving them in a way where we share the Gospel. The whole Gospel. Even the sin and death and hell part. That doesn’t mean that the first thing we tell them is “you’re going to Hell” though. Because we don’t know that at all. Only God does.