The whole purpose of my life is to be wholly Christ’s, which means I must not hold onto anything else. In the offering, the person I am and the words I write become what they were always meant to be . . .
By Christine McParland
As a member of the Arc team, I’ve read every “5 Books That Changed My Life” article from our authors that I could find. I love learning how books impact others’ lives and inspire their writing, and it has made me consider the books that have shaped my own life and writing as well. Though I don’t share the same claim to fame that our authors have, I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about the books that changed my life—and if you’re anything like me, they might change yours too.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Many books leave a lasting impression, but few leave us forever changed. Nearly a decade has passed since I first read One Thousand Gifts, but the practice of naming and counting gifts has become part of my spiritual muscle memory. It has helped me notice the numberless ways God tries to catch my attention throughout each day just to tell me he sees me, knows me, and loves me.
Beyond the message, Ann’s poetic voice enthralled me, resulting in a work of art that conveyed its message with captivating beauty. And it made me want to write like that.
(This might be cheating to sneak a another book in here, but I’m currently reading Ann’s latest release, Waymaker, and it’s on the fast track to make this list as well!).
The Sound of a Million Dreams by Suanne Camfield
This is one of those rare books I return to again and again because its message continues to speak to me in each season of life. Author Suanne Camfield traces her journey of trying to figure out her purpose (what she calls “the Stirring”) while being a pastor’s wife, mom, and employee. Though Suanne’s struggle is one most of us can relate to, her conclusion may surprise us: what we do is not as important as who we become.
I first read this book in my mid-twenties, already disillusioned with dreams and frustrated with the search for life’s purpose. Its message was both freeing and challenging: could I trust God enough to stop worrying about what I was supposed to do with my life and instead focus on the person I was supposed to become? This isn’t a call to abandon dreams; on the contrary, Suanne encourages readers to rethink them—not merely as goals to achieve but as a means to help us become everything God created us to be. Like Ann’s words about thanksgiving, Suanne’s words about becoming have shaped how I view and live my life (for the better!).
A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
We often sense that we’re made for more, but we’re rarely ever sure of what the “more” is. And if we are sure, we struggle to chase those dreams because doing so can feel selfish. Emily P. Freeman reframes those doubts and challenges us to consider how God designed each of us with unique dreams for a divine purpose. Chasing dreams need not be a selfish pursuit; rather, it can be a way to offer ourselves to the world, allowing Jesus to shine through us in the “million little ways” he created us to do so. If we pay attention to how God designed us and the things that make us come alive (the “art you were made to live”), we can find ways to share ourselves and our art wherever we are, whomever we’re with, whatever season we’re in.
One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
Author, comedian, and mother of six Jennifer Fulwiler chronicles her journey of wrestling with the tension between raising a family and pursuing a dream. After many trials, errors, and meltdowns, a chance conversation with a priest opened her eyes to the false dichotomy causing her stress: her calling as a wife and mom didn’t need to compete with her desire to write, but both could be part of one beautiful dream for her and her family.
Jennifer’s story gives me hope for my own creative pursuits, which I’ve doubted I’d be able to continue if I got married and had a family. Hers is an inspiring example that shows it’s possible to pursue one’s creative gifts while also stewarding the responsibilities of a wife and mother—for her own good as well as the good of her family and everyone she impacts with those gifts.
Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe
For my fifth book I thought I’d take a break from titles containing large numbers and authors with multiple children. But seriously, Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Phillipe has challenged my spiritual walk more than any other book I’ve read thus far.
Fr. Phillipe’s message is one of detachment from sins, wounds, relationships, expectations, disappointments, and even our own good works. It is one of hope in God who provides for our deepest spiritual needs and brings good out of even the most heartbreaking circumstances. It is one of healing and finding true joy and peace in our Heavenly Father, whose love does not waver with the ups and downs of life—nor even with our own failures to be faithful to him.
While the first four books spoke to my dreams as a writer, this one applies too. My writing—like the rest of my life—is something I must surrender, whether it hits a bestseller list or stays buried in my notebook. The whole purpose of my life is to be wholly Christ’s, which means I must not hold onto anything else. In the offering, the person I am and the words I write become what they were always meant to be: a sacrifice of love and praise to my Savior.
What books have impacted your life? I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a note in the comments below. 🙂