The Top Eight Books I Read in 2015

With the availability of daily blog posts and twenty four hour news coverage, it takes a more disciplined effort to put the electronics away and curl up with a real book–even for avid readers like myself. However, reading seems to increase my focus and attentiveness and the retention of the information read. That being said, here are the top eight books that I read in 2015. They are listed in no particular order. Perhaps you will add them to your to be read pile for the new year?

As a side note, this would be a post about the top 7 or the top 10 books I read in 2015. However, I didn’t want to skip any of these below, and I didn’t want to add two more for the sake of conventionality. Alas, you will have to be comfortable with the little used number 8!

I have affectionately coined the late Chuck Colson as my Grandfather of Apologetics so it should come as no surprise that he would have two books listed in the top 8 of 2015. The Sky is Not Falling, was published in 2011 and I almost consider it prophetic as it is chock full of Colson’s predictions for the direction of our country if we do not change course. Reading this book four years after its publication date, many of his warnings have come to pass or are unfolding before our eyes. However, in classic Chuck Colson style, he doesn’t merely present the woes of the age, but also lists specific ways that we can and must turn the hearts of men toward Jesus Christ.


Chuck Colson entered into his eternal life in 2012. However, his long time associate, Anne Morse, consolidated his previously unpublished material written during the final years of his life in My Final Word. This is most likely in the top three of best books I read in 2015. You will gain wisdom and insight into a Christian worldview concerning topics such as: crime and punishment, natural law, Islam, same-sex marriage, the persecution of Christians, and life issues among others. I cannot recommend this book enough.


Russell Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Council (ERLC). His wit and wisdom are among the best and his passionate voice for life and religious liberty rings loudly across our nation. This book is a call to set our minds and eyes on the Kingdom even as we live in and help to flourish the  world. It covers hot topics such as gun control, religious liberty, right to life, sex trafficking, and the list goes on. A must read concerning pertinent cultural topics of our day.

Openness Unhindered, is the second of Rosaria Butterfield’s books published since turning from her homosexual lifestyle to the Lord Jesus. This is a wonderful book addressing the topic of homosexuality and the church. Within its pages is one of the best chapters on sin I have ever read. A fantastic read that will better equip you concerning the topic of homosexuality, what the Bible has to say regarding all sexual sin, and how the church should address this topic.

Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, is the first book I have read by the talented author, Eric Metaxas. This wonderful book filled with a short biography of seven men throughout history, is one that will leave you with a desire to know more about the men within its pages. A few of my favorite chapters were on Jackie Robinson, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You will not be able to put this book down. He has written 7 Women and the Story of Their Greatness which I am almost done reading now. However, I will save that recommendation for the greatest reads of 2016!

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, by Sarah Mackenzie is likened unto a glass of sweet tea on the front porch during a hot afternoon in the south. The sweet aroma and taste of what homeschooling can and perhaps should be is a delightful offering to overloaded homeshooling moms everywhere. In truth, I am already rereading this book! Sarah points us to truth, beauty, and goodness and beckons us to do the same with our children in our homes. If you are seeking peace in the full world of homeschooling, this is a must read for you.


Gift from the Sea was originally published in 1955. It is a beautiful poetic book about time, focus, and the ebb and flow of life. A beautiful, simple, refreshing read that will reorient you to some of the simple and important pieces of life. While I am not sure that I agree with all of the theological tones within this book, it provides a refocusing and graceful look at the fleetingness of time and the importance of relationships and work.

Fierce Convictions is a charmingly written biography on the poet, author, social reformer, and abolitionist Hannah More. More is a little known, yet grand and integral person in abolishing the slave trade in England. She is the counter part and best friend of William Wilberforce and is a wonderful role model for women of today. This book will challenge you and inspire you to utilize your talents and God-given abilities to influence culture and change the course of history within your own day and realm of influence.


And…..I am adding a bonus recommendation. A Match Made in Heaven, written in 2015 by my husband, Ron Cooney, is a marriage must read for couples at any stage. I can wholeheartedly recommend Ron’s book because I know that he practices what he preaches. Ron lives a life of authentic humility and faithfulness to God. His background in mental health counseling, experience as a pastor, and time spent counseling couples and families have prepared him to walk in obedience to writing this book.  I hope that you will purchase a copy of Ron’s book for yourself, a friend, an engaged or newly married couple, or a couple that you know needs godly direction in their marriage.

You can watch Ron teach from a few excerpts of his book, alongside our pastor, Willy Rice, here. This message is on your S.E.A.T. and how that affects your marriage.

What were some of your favorite books in 2015? I would love to hear them and add them to my list. Happy Reading!


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On Idle


“You can love these salt-dough cookies, but you can’t love them more than God. You can’t love anything more than God because then you would be worshiping idol’s.”

Emily ‘s quip while playing with salt-dough sounds ridiculous until you understand the heart behind it. The following Old Testament commandment has really taken root in her heart:

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. ~Exodus 20:3-6

Sunday drives to church she will ask, “Do those people love God? Are they worshiping idols?” as we pass softball and soccer fields. On the way to Clearwater Beach we pass through the Scientology capitol of the world. One of their tallest buildings always provokes the question, “Is that where people worship idols?”

I wish that the avoidance of idol worship was on the forefront of every believer, myself included. While professing Christians would gawk at the idea of bowing to a carved or wooden image, we daily encounter a world full of idols of the heart and mind.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.~1 Corinthians 10:14 (read the full chapter here)

Take a moment to consider the possible idols that we are tempted to worship in our day:

  • image
  • wealth
  • popularity
  • esteem
  • sensual pleasures
  • entertainment
  • food
  • sports
  • leisure
  • science-emphasized here because the claims of Darwinism are based on philosophical assumptions/preferences rather than repeatable scientific facts, laws, or discoveries contrary to Bill Nye the Humanism Guy’s* rants (here).

What comprises our idle time in action and in thought likely exposes idols our hearts most naturally drift towards. What comprises most of our waking time? What or to whom do our thoughts turn while driving, daydreaming, the free time in our mind?

 I have felt in the last two weeks a need to read the Bible more. I am constantly reading, but reading about the teachings of the Bible and reading the life-giving words of the Bible are two separate things. Indeed, if the the Body no longer knows and teaches God’s word, we are no better than salt that has lost its taste.

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When our minds are full of God’s Word then we open the door for meditation on God’s Word: the thinking on verses throughout our day. We equip ourselves with the Truth we need to return to during idle moments so that we make the most of our time. We will see the world and its lies exposed.

What thoughts does your mind turn to when on idle? What changes do you need to make in order to love God with all your mind and glorify Him with your thoughts? I am asking these same questions of myself friend.




Bill Nye the Humanism Guy is a perspective piece written in the Jan.-March 2013 Answers Magazine

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Hunger Games

“How many of you have read The Hunger Games?” About 20% of over 100 middle school students in our ministry raise their hand. Ron questions further, “How many of you have seen the movie?” Ninety percent or more of the students raise their hand.

At this point I am so glad that I purchased the book at Wal-Mart. What movement or story could engross a generation like the Hunger Games appears to?

A very well written story packed with action, romance, and a girl on fire. That is the story that has captured the attention of our young people and adults both men and women alike.

Once I read chapter five in the first book in the Hunger Games series I was hooked. I completed all three books in roughly six days and have contemplated the story line for a few weeks more.

image via Google images

Written by Suzanne Collins and targeted for young adults ages 12 and up, the topics covered in the books range from youth murder in a survival of the fittest scenario, politics/government rule, death, suicide, reality television, and the list goes on.

I originally read the first book, Hunger Games, to be culturally relevant.  However, the second and third books: Catching Fire and Mockingjay were read due to absolute takeover of my psyche. I was both unable and unwilling to put these books down. When I did return to everyday tasks, my thoughts continued to return to the country and events of Panema.

Here is a link to a video interview conducted after the release of the first book, The Hunger Games, by Scholastic Books. Especially intriguing was the origination of the idea for the plot of the book. Scholastic Books 2008 interview with Suzanne Collins bestselling author of the Hunger Games Triliogy

Additionally, in the case that you are the parent of a middle school student or a young adult reader yourself, I am listing 8 discussion questions that I hope you will utilize to critically digest this well written series through the lens of a Christian worldview. A special thanks to Ron for his co-collaboration on these questions.

Oh, by the way, go team Peeta!

1. Why are we attracted to the make-believe?

2. What’s our fascination with watching people die through the centuries? (E.g. Gladiators in the Roman Empire.)

3. Is entertainment one of the things that blind us from our life’s purposes? Further, is entertainment one of Satan’s most effective tools to distract us? Is the most effective tool Satan has in his arsenal against Christians today – a distraction?

4. In the book and movie, Peeta says, “I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into something that I’m not. I’m sure I’ll kill just like everyone else…only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me, that I’m more than just a piece in their Games. If I’m going to die, I want to still be me.” Are we guilty of allowing our culture to change us? If so, in what ways has it changed you? For good or for ill?

5. What happens when the law of the land contradicts the Bible? See Romans 13:1-7, Luke 20:25, and Acts 5:27-29.

6. No religion or belief in any higher being is mentioned in either the books or movie. Why do you think this is? Which worldview says that man is the ultimate being?

7.  Choose one or two characters and list character strengths and weaknesses. What would you like to emulate in your own life that lines up with Biblical practices? What characteristics of even your favorite characters were flawed?

8. Throughout each book, Katniss is treated by a prep team which makes her look her best. In the first book Katniss is to the point where she does not mind her stylist seeing her naked body. Conversely, she does not feel comfortable seeing Peeta’s body when she is treating his wounds during the games. What is your modesty level? How has the media and what you set before your eyes on a television screen and in places you visit affected the way you approach varying levels of modesty or the lack thereof? What does the Bible have to say about purity and the clothes we wear?

If you have read or seen the Hunger Games, what was your take away and overall impression?

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Please Call Me Laura

It has happened. Emily is asking for a bonnet and has discussed calling me “Ma.” Today the ultimate in Little House fever, “Please call me Laura.”

I thought author, Wendy McLure, in  The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie may have overstated her love of all things Laura. However, after listening to my little girl pine to be Laura’s friend I understood the praises of Ms. McLure’s work. Full disclosure, I returned her book to the library unread as 12 other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder presently grace my shelves…or should I say tables; I ran out of shelf space long ago.

Here is a sampling of Laura’s titles that I would recommend for those wanting to further their acquaintance with Mrs. Wilder:

Thank you Mrs. Wilder for gracing What I Am Reading Wednesday the last few weeks. It has been a pleasure to rediscover why your books richly enhanced my own childhood.

On other shelves…

I finished up Kiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon’s Crazy in Love How-To Manual by Dr. David Clarke and highly recommend this quick and easy read to all married couples looking to fan the flame of their first love. If only for the kissing boost alone. I think Ron would recommend this book as well and he has yet to read it. 😉

Last night I downloaded two ebooks that are free for a short time.

After reading two chapters I foresee this as a wise read for those who are already 30+ and most assuredly for the 18 and over crowd. If you are in the 30 to 40 range perhaps you would considerHow to Ruin Your Life By 40 as a better alternative.

The InCourage ladies, Angie and Jessica, completed a videoed book club on The Fitting Room with the author, Kelly Minter, which you can view here. I am confident this resource will be a welcome accompaniment to your individual reading.

That is what I am reading this Wednesday. What about you?

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What I Am Reading Wednesday

Everyday in our home a page is turned. As we turn the page on the gift of today, we also turn the pages of wonderful books that we are blessed to own or have on loan from the local library.

My Shelf

I lead a homeschooling mama’s network group at our church. All of the experienced mom’s recommended this book. I wholeheartedly agree that it is worth the read. It is like a daily devotional for homeschooling parents.

I bought this Pulitzer Prize winning novel at a local thrift store. Marilynne Ronbinson beautifully writes from the perspective of a dying pastor to his son. The writing is rich, providing a resourceful read for aspiring writers and bloggers like myself.

Sally Clarkson has wholeheartedly won a place in my heart with her thoughtful and encouraging writing for moms. Her insight is profound and I soak up the wonderful view of motherhood contained within the pages of this book.

Emily’s Shelf

We began reading the Little House series in December. Emily has fallen in love with Mary and Laura and all the Ingalls family. We devour one book after the other during bedtime readings.

This beautifully illustrated and well written children’s book retells the Easter account with tenderness and care. It is such a thoughtful read. Emily requests, “Let’s read it again.” A great resource from our local library and one we may add to our shelf to celebrate Easter each year.

I was so excited when I found this book as our Nana will be here to help us plant sunflower seeds on Friday. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger is one of our all-time favorite Christmas books. The children were very happy when I bestowed this little surprise this morning. They love Mortimer almost as much as I do.

Joshua’s shelf

Joshua began potty training two weeks ago. By potty training I mean that he knows when he has to go and will go on the potty once or twice a day. We are still in regular diapers at this point with a pull-up thrown in here or there for good measure.

He absolutely loves this book and requests that I read and re-read it as many times as I will comply. He eagerly finishes the lines when I pause sounding puppy-dog-tails adorable every time he says “poop.”

We bought this book for Joshua’s first Valentine’s Day and it continues to be a treasured addition to our children’s library. He, requests this book by asking for, “Hallinan,” the author’s last name. He loves the parts where the little boy colors on the wall, falls and skins his knee, and is watching “TB,” TV.

This is one of my favorite children’s books. The rhythmic rhyming and alliteration is easily memorized and rich with synonyms. A wonderful book conveying love between a mama and her baby and the trials of getting little one’s to bed the first time.

Ron’s Shelf

 My student pastor husband is reading this book by Andy Stanley. It is one of those that I will be snatching whenever I get through my mommy homeschooling books…maybe by next summer.

Ron actually bought this book for me a few years ago. He knew that I wanted to read about Patton and surprised me with this wonderful resource. Patton is a very colorful war hero in our nation’s history. His views on religion and life greatly differ from my own. However, his love and knack for war is what stands out most in my memory. Excellent historical read.

What are you reading this Wednesday? We would love to hear your suggestions as well.

Keep the pages turning! 

*By clicking on the images above you can view these books for purchase on  As an Amazon affiliate, our family will receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for visiting This Temporary Home. Blessings to you and yours.

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