On My Bookshelf: My Top 5 Recommended Reads This Spring


I know that reading is becoming more and more of a luxury as I’m balancing raising my family and running my business, but I still try to carve out intentional time for it. It’s no more possible to be a quality author who doesn’t read than it is to be a painter who’s never set foot in a museum or a world class athlete who doesn’t follow their own sport. It’s not about comparison or trying to be “the next so-and-so,” but there is something to be said for soaking up the finished product of those who excel at your chosen craft, to immerse yourself in inspiration and remember just what it is you’ve set out to accomplish. And so my own bookshelf has come to contain more and more acquisitions from women I admire, who have vulnerably poured their very selves onto the pages and offered them up to the general public for open consumption, in what I consider to be the ultimate act of bravery. Today I’m sharing with you my top five recommended reads from women such as this, and I hope they inspire you even a fraction of the way they’ve inspired me.


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If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers
by Hannah Brencher

I pre-ordered this book almost the day it became available on Amazon. If you have ever heard Hannah Brencher speak, or have read her incredible blog, then you know she is easily one of the most gifted wordsmiths of our generation. Every phrase is not only dripping with incredible wisdom, but it’s so deeply vulnerable and authentic that you can’t help but feel like you’ve known Hannah forever, and you’re immediately invested in her story. This book is her personal memoir, telling an incredible story of how she found purpose by leaving letters to strangers all over New York City, and eventually founded an international organization called The World Needs More Love Letters, bringing people to together to write thousands of letters and cards to those in need of encouragement. The book will inspire you to love deeper, dream bigger, and live with a passion for others in a whole new way.


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Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose
by Lara Casey

This is the quintessential read for any woman who has a dream to do something bigger than herself, but simply doesn’t even know where to begin. How do you go from the day to day routine to making huge things happen and dreams come true? Lara helps us learn how to break down goals into achievable steps, let go of our crippling fears, and finally leave the excuses behind as we step into the life we never knew possible. She also markets a corresponding product called Power Sheets that can help you apply what you’ve learned in the book and start converting your dreams into actions.


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Yes Please
by Amy Poehler

Have you ever watched Amy Poehler on television and thought, “She’s so cool I wish she was my best friend.” Well as silly as it sounds, when you walk away from her book you almost feel like she is. Amy certainly wasn’t messing around when she penned her debut book, as it’s full of personal details, intimate thoughts, and a signature brand of honesty that makes you feel less like you read a book and more like you had a date over coffee..scratch that, over margaritas. You wont be able to see the funny girl quite in the same way, but you’ll definitely love her even more.





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Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity
by Jen Hatmaker

Although she is far better know for her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Interrupted is in many ways far more personal and powerful. In fact, Hatmaker herself even admits within the pages that when fans ask her which one book of hers they should read, it always comes hands down back to this one. Jen has the most unique ability to perfectly walk a tightrope between the sacred and the sarcastic, and in doing so shares powerful truths within layers of laugh out loud wit and real life stories of the messy reality of real life ministry. The book is downright challenging, but never sanctimonious, and it’s near impossible to walk away from it without having your very perspectives of faith and religion shaken and reconstructed from the ground up. It’s so powerful in fact that I never seem able to hold on to a copy for very long, as I’m known to excitedly give them away to others almost as soon as I finish it. I find I could read it every year and consistently glean something new, and Im planning to read it again – as soon as I get my hands on another copy.


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Restless: Because You Were Made for More
by Jennie Allen

Have you ever hidden your dreams away because somehow you felt that you should always be content and never want more? Ever tried to talk yourself out of feeling that restlessness because you were convinced that following God meant ignoring your own dreams and passions in order to be fully dedicated to His plan? Jennie Allen has eloquently tackled this all too pervasive struggle asking, “What if this feeling wasn’t a bad thing? It could be a longing for more of God and a catalyst to living the life that was designed before the foundations of the earth were laid.” Using the Biblical story of Joseph the Dreamer, Jennie helps guide us through identifying our passions, our giftings, our hopes and dreams, and even our deepest pains,all with the purpose of seeing the bigger picture – how they all weave perfectly together in God’s greater purpose for our life. The book is empowering, and reading it leaves you more aware that you were created with a purpose, and that your passions and dreams are anything but random, but markers pointing the way to your full potential, and ultimately to your greatest callings.

Ultimate 30th Birthday Wishlist

It’s officially my birthday week! This Wednesday I am turning the big 3-0. Whoah. I guess I have to finally admit I’m a real grownup now right? (If the mortgage and two kids wasn’t convincing enough…)

If you follow along on The Joy Parade instagram, you may already know that my family is in the middle of a pretty major faith walk right now. This last summer God called our family to leave everything we have known and move to a whole new state, buy a home, and start a very different and much more intentional life. It’s been an amazing journey, one I plan to continue chronicling on the blog. Over the holidays there was a pretty significant twist in the story though, in which the company my husband works for let us know that due to financial constraints they were going to have to make some personnel and salary cutbacks – which is a fancy way of saying “We’re broke, so you’re fired.” So here we are in beautiful Oregon, having successfully left the chaos of the Silicon Valley behind, looking for the exact type of jobs that are most centrally located in… well, the Silicon Valley. God loves the humor in a good irony I think. In the mean time that leaves us with a monthly income of exactly $0 and a beautiful dance between fear and faith as we walk out our Joy Parade in the midst of a whole lotta crazy.

So all of this to say, it’s not the best time to be celebrating a milestone birthday. The original plan was to take our first ever vacation as a couple and return to Mexico, the scene of our honeymoon, and ring in the 30’s with a big old margarita in a swim-up bar. The new plan for turning 30 involves some well loved yoga pants, a cheap bottle of wine, and total control of the remote while I binge on some Netflix. It doesn’t mean a girl can’t indulge in a little fantasy window shopping though, and Pinterest makes this easier than ever in the digital age.  (In fact I keep a running “Wishing and Swooning” board on Pinterest. It’s a great way for husbands to know what you have your eye on when a gift occasion comes around.) I have hope that someday our situation will be better, and a belated birthday gift will someday come my way. So I’ve assembled a fantasy wish list of some of the pretty little things that make my mama heart swoon and who knows, maybe someday down the line I’ll be able to pick something from my list and celebrate this new decade in style. A girl can dream right? <3

Birthday Wishlist


1 – Raskog Cart | Ikea | $29.99
Isn’t she a beauty? I have boxes of craft supplies and stationary items sitting in boxes and bags in my garage just waiting for some sort of official home in my office. And the color even matches my office perfectly! I’ve seen some amazing uses online for this cart – a bar cart, a craft caddy, a rolling art station for kids: it’s possibilities are endless.

2 – Stitch Fix Gift Certificates | Stitch Fix | $20 and up
I’m a regular Stitch Fix user and I have been beyond thrilled with most of the pieces my stylist has chosen for me. There have been times though that something gorgeous will come in my box and my referral points aren’t enough to pay for it and the budget just says no. It’s never fun sending goodies back when they are “keepers” in your eyes. Stitch Fix gift certificates make a great gift for any gal, whether she’s a regular subscriber or a first time user.

3 – Hunter Rain Boots | ShopBop | $148
Moving from California to Oregon brought one main difference – water falls from the SKY here you guys. Like free water just comes out of nowhere. It’s amazing. Needless to say I’m totally unprepared for this sort of thing. Would you believe I dont own a pair of real rain boots? I bought snow boots when we got here, and since they are waterproof I’ve been using those for now. But in terms of rainboots, Hunter is the gold standard. Aidan has a pair and they have held up to a couple years of all out little boy abuse, and are no worse for the wear. And these gorgeous glossy red ones would be the statement piece of any rainy day ensemble. TOO gorgeous.

4 – Gilded Portable Charger | Nasty Gal | $40.00
This gorgeous portable charge is the size of your average lipstick but contains enough kick to fully recharge an iPhone battery to 100% power. The best part of this particular charger though is that unlike a majority of its competitors, you don’t need to provide a cord. In fact, the cord it comes with is tiny and compact, and has three different plug types so you can charge just about any device you may own. It’s gorgeous AND practical – a total win.

5 -Tory Burch for FitBit Bracelet | ShopBop | $195.00
If this truly is a fantasy wish list, this item simply had to be included. Isn’t it stunning? Take any FitBit armband and convert it into a beautiful piece of statement jewelry, without effecting its functionality. I love the idea of making the athletic device less conspicuous and converting it into part of your ensemble. And it’s Tory Burch – need I say more?

6 – Leather Loop Key Fob | Henri Bendel | $38.00
I’ve been on the lookout for a chic and practical keychain with a sophisticated flair, and this one certainly fits the bill. I adore the classic chocolate and white signature strip of Henri Bendel, and it looks exceptionally beautiful on this leather key chain. Plus I would love the added practicality of being able to slip the loop around my wrist when running a quick errand that doesn’t require dragging my entire purse along.

7 – Madewell Transport Tote | ShopBop | $168
What better gift to celebrate coming into your 30’s than a quality handbag? I mean sure, I love a good deal from Target, but there is something to be said for owning a classic bag that will match almost everything and can last you well past your 30’s and beyond? I’ve been not so secretly swooning over this tote from Madewell for a long time. I’ve actually handled one of these beauties and the leather is simply heavenly. You can even get the bag monogrammed by Madewell for $10, for an extra chic touch.

8 – Cannon 6d with 24-105L | Amazon | $2,399
A full frame camera and an L series lens? Enough said. I love my little 7d and my starter lenses, but Im definitely dreaming of the day I can make the jump to a professional level DSLR. Can’t say it’ll be in the budget anytime soon, but having tested this set up out for myself I can say it’s absolutely worth the investment. If you’re thinking of getting a DSLR to capture your own authentic moments, this one is absolutely my top recommendation. It’s the most affordable of Canon’s full frame offerings, but certainly not lacking in function.

9 – Tortoise Royale Necklace | Charming Charlie | $15.00
I’m always a fan of a great statement necklace. It instantly takes a t-shirt and jeans to a whole new level of style and sophistication. And I have my eye on this affordable little beauty from Charming Charlie right now. Small price tag but BIG style points.

10- L’Eau de Chloe | Nordstrom | $70.00 for 1.7 oz, $90.00 for 3.4 oz
As much as I love my Body Shop coconut or grapefruit body sprays, they lack a certain sophistication that a beautiful bottle of high end fragrance brings. I used to own this fragrance year ago, and its absolutely enchanting: not too overpowering, fresh, bright, and perfect for Spring. A little spritz of a real fragrance completes any ensemble for a woman in her 30’s.

11 – Blogging Essentials Art Print | Jones Design Company | $24.00
I am a regular window shopper at the beautiful Jones Design Company website. So many beautiful pieces! This one would be absolutely on point for my office though, and is pretty perfect for me wouldn’t you say?

12 – Threshold Mirrored Accent Table with Drawer | Target | $79.99
My current bedside table? A cardboard moving box. Yeah… not exactly the chicest decor choice, but what can I say – the price was right! This glamorous little number from Target’s Threshold line would certainly be an upgrade though, and it matches the vision for our new master suite perfectly.

13 – Be Still Cotton Tote Bag | Kristin Schmucker | $28.00
I have been looking for a great cotton tote for some time now, and this one took my breath away. It would be perfect for throwing together a quick trip to the park, grabbing groceries, or taking the boys to the library. As an added bonus Kristin is a beautiful soul who runs her brand with character, so you can always feel great about the purchases made from her website.

(Disclaimer: some of the recommendations above contain affiliate links. This means if you click my links and purchase a recommended product, I may receive a commission from an affiliate. All opinions are entirely my own, and I have not been approached or compensated by any brands to be included in this article.)