What I Read | July 2016

I couldn’t give up book reviews entirely!  I still don’t want to write individual reviews for everything I read, but I need to have a list somewhere of the things I’ve read so that when someone asks for a recommendation, I’ll know where to go.  I think a monthly compilation review will be a good compromise!

22544764Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I LOVED this book.  It has enough familiar tropes to feel comfortable (ordinary girl is actually a powerful magician, unlikely romance develops between two opposites) but adds some really creative twists to the world-building and plot.  I was so impressed by Novik’s work that I immediately went to the Kindle store to buy her dragon series.  This is not a part of that, but I have a feeling Novik is going to be an author I can trust.

mediumThe Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

This book is almost the opposite of Uprooted.  It is incredibly unique (girl lives on a pirate ship that can travel throughout time and space with the help of special maps) but unfortunately devolved into common tropes.  I am TIRED of unnecessary love triangles.  This seems like the beginning of a series, and I would be super into it if it weren’t for that pesky trope.  It just.  The book didn’t need it!  She’s already dealing with a relationship with her dad and the fear of being snuffed out of existence because of time travel!  One love interest is enough.

6607270-MLove’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom

My counseling professor recommended this book years ago, but I only just got around to reading it.  Dr. Yalom describes ten of his clients’ stories, which is interesting enough.  But he also goes into a lot of detail about how he felt about each person – the attractions, the frustrations, the disgust – and how he worked through those feelings in order to work with them.  I think this book would be interesting to most people, but it’s undoubtedly for counselors who might benefit from a behind-the-scenes look at a successful counselor’s methods.

Not many for July, but I’m 300 pages into Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, so…hopefully that counts as enough of an explanation


One of the classes that I lead at HD is called “Boom Team.”  It’s meant to be an arts and crafts time, but I’m a counselor, so I turned it into art therapy.

Project:  Emotion Portrait
Assign colors to eight basic emotions
– Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Joy, Trust, Anticipation, and Surprise –
Then draw a self-portrait using those colors to reveal your emotional state

I assigned pretty typical colors to the eight emotions – bright colors for the happy emotions, solid stark colors for the bad.  The real fun came in creating my self-portrait, which I’ll describe by emotion. Continue reading


One of the classes that I lead at HD is called “Boom Team.”  It’s meant to be an arts and crafts time, but I’m a counselor, so I turned it into art therapy.

Project:  My Life as a Tree
Draw yourself as a tree,
with the roots being things that give you strength
and the leaves as things you want to change.

The cool thing about HD is that we are meant to participate in the recovery process with our girls, because even if we haven’t been trafficked, we all have our baggage that we need help processing and overcoming.  I won’t share “A”s tree, because that is her story.  But I will share mine!


My “roots,” aka things that give me strength:  Continue reading

If the Church Were Like a Counseling Office

I wish the Church could learn from the counseling world.  Although the body of Christ ought to be the place where we can share our deepest struggles and our most embarrassing weaknesses, too often we show up on Sunday with a smile on our face and a report on God’s blessings, with maybe an obscure reference to “personal sin” thrown in for a few seconds.

I say this with all the love in the world for the universal Church.  In a lot of ways, it’s doing so much right.  I think the Church is excellent at meeting people’s physical and spiritual needs.  Where it often fails, however, is addressing people’s emotional needs.  It is easy for me to fall back into thinking America’s Christian culture’s rhythms and language are normal.  That is, until I talked with a woman who has gone to counseling, and then I pulled her out of the church business meeting so we could keep talking, because it was intoxicating.   Continue reading

Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

This is an excellent book for people who have ever been in an unhealthy relationship (everyone).  The three sections, “Unsafe People,” “Do I Attract Unsafe People?” and “Safe People” concisely describe the patterns of relating that people naturally fall into.  Cloud and Townsend help their readers identify people in their life who are unsafe, and equally important, help readers identify what personal habits they have that perpetuate unsafe relationships.

Boundaries (which, coincidentally, is another book by Cloud and Townsend) play a huge role here.  I loved the delicate balance they find between owning our own flaws and holding people responsible for theirs.  There’s no blaming, just understanding.  And there is so much hope!  Whether you constantly find yourself in draining and/or abusive relationships, or perhaps you simply have a person or two in your life that drive you nuts, this book offers the possibility of reconciliation, growth, and maturity.  I loved it, even when some of the descriptions were a little too on-the-nose.  Continue reading

Thank You, Dallas Theological Seminary

I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary!  Three years of reading, writing, and learning, and I am a Master of Biblical Counseling.  I am so relieved to have a brain break, but I admit that part of me is sad to leave the school behind.

IMG_4416DTS is not a perfect place because it is full of Christians.  But despite my occasional rages against the more conservative leanings of the school, I am so grateful to have attended.  My faith blossomed at DTS as I learned to see truth everywhere–in psychology textbooks, in the Bible, in nature.  I learned to trust in a God bigger than I’d ever considered, a God who cannot be fathomed except that He made Himself known.  I learned to stop putting so much of my identity in my GPA, to value knowledge for its own sake rather than for a grade.  And more than that, I learned to put knowledge into practice, because what’s the point of having wisdom if it doesn’t affect the way you live and love other people?

Most of all, DTS taught me to appreciate grace.  I live so often by the law of karma, demanding good for the good things I do and expecting bad when I do something wrong.  I learned, by teaching and by experience, that God throws cause and effect out of the window.  I learned to delight in a God who gives and gives and gives, who held out His arms to His people no matter how many times they ran away from Him.  Continue reading

Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?

There is a stereotype in Western culture that good girls like bad boys, and like all stereotypes, there is some truth and some lies to it.  [A caveat:  this is not about girls liking bad boys in movies!  How could we not?  Villains are often attractive people with a confident sense of humor who are more fully developed characters than their heroic counterparts.  Everyone crushes on movie bad boys; that is not what this post is about.]

Although not all “good girls” (which is a ridiculous label) like “bad boys” (also ridiculous), I think it is probably a true statement that women are often attracted to people who they know aren’t good for them.  And although I don’t have personal experience as a man, I’m willing to bet that men are often attracted to women that they know are bad for them.  So why do we do it?  Continue reading

The End of an Internship

In December 2013, I was freaking out.  At DTS, we have to spend two semesters working at a counseling facility, and so far, I’d been ignored or rejected by all the places where I’d applied.  Then one day, I received a school-wide email suggesting people apply to The Vale, so I put in my application as a last-ditch effort to secure a position in the spring semester.  When I arrived at the private practice, I immediately loved the calm atmosphere and the counseling philosophy of the man who interviewed me.

Fourteen months later, I am finishing my internship.  I wound up staying there three semesters instead of two and spending an extra two months bringing my clients to a healthy close.  I stayed because I absolutely loved it.  Lois is a phenomenal secretary.  Tyler was the best supervisor I could have asked for.  Nancy was an encouraging fellow intern.  My clients were varied, frustrating, enlightening, and educational.  Looking back at my time at The Vale, I am so incredibly glad for that email in the midst of my confused sadness. Continue reading