Top Ten || July

1) You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith


It's been said that you are what you think, but James K.A. Smith makes a compelling argument that, in fact, you are what you love. What if discipleship is less about cultivating greater knowledge about God and is more about cultivating greater affection for Him? You might be like me and not agree with everything in the book, but the premise is something we all can get behind: the idols in our lives may be disguised in the habits we've accumulated in the direction of what we really love, and we may not love what we really think we do. I've found myself asking myself what my habits say about what I envision as the good life. Is what I'm doing telling me I love something other than God? Read this book and let me know what you think.

2) Everybody Always by Bob Goff


Bob Goff's book may not use as many big words, but it also makes you want to immediately start living differently. I'm only about 50 pages into it, and I've already held back tears a few times in the stories he tells. I felt for him from the start as he reveals in the forward a previous draft of the book got stolen out of a van and he had to restart. Technically, he jokes (I cringed as I read this), this is his third book. Bob Goff's style boils down to a point he makes early on that faith isn't easy, but it is simple. Bob asks us all this convicting question: Instead of agreeing with Jesus, what if we followed Him? This book answers the question with case studies of radical love toward people who aren't easy to be with. I can't wait to finish it.

3) Prayer sticks

Our friends shared a great idea with us: put names of people and prayer requests on popsicle sticks and have your kids draw a few out of a cup at night to pray for what they get. We did this with our two-year-old this month, and it opened up great conversations and variety in our evening prayer times. Instead of simply praying for grandparents and parents each night (nothing wrong with that), we're able to have conversations about more things and pray for people who aren't usually top of mind.

4) Halo Top ice cream

Where has this been all my life? We got an off-brand several weeks ago that tasted like paper and thought this "healthy ice cream" was just a mixture of dirt and frozen chalk. But then the heavens opened up, and we got the real deal. Don't try and veer from the Halo. It tastes insanely good and isn't all that bad for you. You're telling me there's a way to eat an entire pint and consume less than 300 calories? Plus, I can get a heavy dose of protein in the process? Sign me up (again and again and again). Drive to your grocery store right this instant, buy a pint of this, and ration it or eat it all. Still values-driven approved (or so I keep telling myself).

5) Keza Paints a Bright Future by Kenneth Burkey and Jill Heisey


I work for HOPE International, and our team released a fantastic children's book about a young girl and her family in the Rwandan countryside. It gives children (and adults) deeper insight into the pains of poverty while also highlighting the optimism, tenacity, and dignity found in people facing difficult circumstances around the globe (this was my word-for-word review on Amazon). The story is based on a savings group that exists in Rwanda today who pooled their resources to start a painting business. Your children will love it. You will love it. And you will appreciate the conversations the book stirs up in your family.

6) Myprotein


My friend Trip Carroll told me about this brand, and it's been a go-to for protein powder and other supplements. It's cheaper than many other options, but Myprotein doesn't compromise quality. For a short time this month, they ran a sale giving you 35% off your entire order. This means I got an 11 lb bag of protein for cheap. Besides the fact that I'll have to live with a trash-bag-sized protein container in my kitchen for a (long) time, it's a big win.

7) Bola Pizza


This won't get you closer to your fitness values if you overdo it, but may I give a strong recommendation for you to moderately partake in this glorious pizza. Plan to have a family night or date night at home, go to your local HEB, and pick one of these up. I've never had frozen pizza that tastes like this. In fact, it competes with non-frozen pizza. It's obvious the fine folks at Bola haven't invested much at all in their brand image or marketing efforts (just take a look at their website), but I almost guarantee what they saved on a graphic designer went into making an even better pie. This is ridiculously good. If you don't live in Texas, beg your local grocer to make the best decision they'll make this year by placing a bulk order from Bola. 

8) Workflow


What if you could automate the most frequent things you do on your iPhone? Welcome to Workflow. It's an app that lets you set up shortcuts to do things more quickly. Some of my favorite recipients: tap to have Google Maps take you home from wherever you are, quickly get directions to the location in your next calendar event, and quickly voice dictate things into Todoist. The possibilities are endless, and if you start digging into the internet to find what's possible, you can dig for a long, long time.

9) Blacksmith Coffee in Houston, TX


If you live in this great city or plan to visit us sometime in the future, make sure you swing by Blacksmith. The coffee is outrageous, the environment is conducive to important conversations and/or focused work (but may I recommend bringing headphones and turning up the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify), and the food offerings are delicious. Don't miss it out, except if you're wisely taking Haley Phelan's advice in the next article...

10) "How to Make This the Summer of Missing Out" by Haley Phelan

If FOMO is the Fear Of Missing Out, Haley Phelan shares the beauty of JOMO: the Joy Of Missing Out. We can learn to cultivate the joy of being disconnected from our devices in order to find greater relational connection and mental health, and this article presents practical ways to do so. When the Wi-Fi went out on a flight the author took to Los Angeles, she found she was still safe and was able to get more done than she had in ages. "Like it or not, we need our technology devices; we just don’t need them as much as we think we do. JOMO is about finding that balance," she says.