Friday, September 26, 2014

The Books I've Visited Lately

Some women buy shoes or purses; I buy books.  Bradley and I were laughing the other night because when we got married he read all.the.time.  Like, we would finish dinner and then he would disappear, only to be found in the bathroom, with yet another book.  (Some day I'll share more about that season of life...).  Anyway, now I read way more than he does, just not in the bathroom :).

When he started teasing me a few months ago about how many books I was buying, I decided to try and reign that in a little.  I've been trying to read books we already have before buying new ones.  (Although, as I looked at this list, four of them are ones I purchased this summer...maybe I haven't done such a good job of reigning it in...)

This summer was challenging in many ways for me.  One of the things that has been helpful to me during this season has been to discipline myself to read.  Reading has always been a hobby of mine, and somehow I let motherhood rob me of this pleasure.  Instead of reading at night, or in my spare moments, I would turn to other means of 'checking out'--Netflix, a good movie, Pinterest, etc.  There is nothing wrong with those things, but I recognized an imbalance in my life, and so I've been working to have a better balance with my downtime.  By carving out time for reading I've been encouraged, convicted, and pointed to Jesus through what others have written.

Nothing compares to the Bible, no doubt!  And, if I'm not spending time in God's Word, then I shouldn't be consumed with reading books or blogs, no matter how excellent they are and how much they might point me to Jesus.  God's Word is central, and must be the primary source of  nourishment for my soul.  A friend posted a quote on Facebook that I loved:

"Visit good books, live in the Bible." -C.H. Spurgeon

I've been visiting some great books over the past few months, some of the best I've read in a long time.  I'll try to be brief in my descriptions, but I would highly recommend each of these.

Stepping Heavenward
, Elizabeth Prentiss
This is not your typical "Christian living" book, but it is full of wonderful principles by which women should live.  It's fiction, written in a journal style, but the author incorporated much of what she had learned and experienced in her own life as a young woman, wife, and mother.  Reading another woman write about her struggles and passion for Jesus was refreshing.  This is a classic book that I think every mother needs to read, and re-read.  It would make a great gift for a mom-to-be.

Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin
I had never heard about this book until I added a book to my cart on Amazon, and a little notice came up saying, "others who purchased this book also bought..." and then there were several books listed.  This one intrigued me.  I love to study the Bible.  In fact, I have a degree in Bible, but over the years I've become lazy in my deep study of the Word.  The times that I do dig and study like I did in college are my favorite, and often the times that I am transformed the most.  Jen does a wonderful job of expressing the importance of God's Word, the main theme of the Bible (the progress of Redemption), and why everyone should seek to be a student of it.  She gives the '5 P's' for studying:  Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process and Prayer.  This book is encouraging and practical for anyone who wants to study God's Word and come away transformed.

Good News for Weary Women, Elyse Fitzpatrick
Women, if you are tired--at any level--this book will refresh your spirit.  The gospel is beautifully woven throughout, speaking to the specific issues that women are facing.  We have lists of things that we require of ourselves, or that we feel others may have placed on us, and instead of truly seeking to live in light of the grace that God has granted to us in Christ, we fight either pride because we think we're following all the 'right rules' or despair because we aren't measuring up to the 'right rules'.  Elyse says, "Our highest calling is to believe in and love the gospel and then to live our lives in the light of all Jesus has already done for us."

And the Word Came With Power, Joanne Shelter
When we lived in Georgia, Bradley would often buy books that our Pastor referenced from the pulpit.  I wouldn't know until Tuesday when a random book would come in the mail.  Apparently Charlie used something from this book, and I'm glad Bradley bought it.  Missionary biographies are some of my favorite!  I love reading about how God has worked to bring the gospel to people who had never heard.  Joanne Shelter was a single missionary who worked to translate the Bible on an island in the Philippines.  Her story shows how powerfully God's Word goes forth to transform people's lives.

The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst
Lysa is funny, transparent, and her words are practical for every day living.  We are bombarded with all kinds of options on how to live our lives.  Choices lie before us each day, and the temptation is to say "YES!" to everything, only to later possibly regret it because we've said that a few too many times, and our souls are tired.  Lysa gives some great advice on how to make wise choices, saving room for those things which God has truly wired us to do.

A Million Little Ways, Emily Freeman
I've been wanting to read this book ever since it came out last fall.  I finally found a used copy online and finished reading it last weekend.  I'm so thankful that I waited!  God has been uncovering things in my heart over the last few months, and reading this book was such a help to me.  I could write an entire post on all of the ways I love this book, but I'll save that for maybe a later time.

The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
By far, the best book I've ever read on marriage.  He collaborated with his wife to write this one, and they did an excellent job.  The first chapter is a little bit tough--lots of statistics on marriage--but it wasn't long until I couldn't put it down.  One of the things I loved most was that I wasn't just challenged in my marriage.  The gospel is woven throughout this book, and I was convicted about areas in my heart that needed reminding and changing, yes in relation to my marriage, but also in relation to my walk with the Lord.  We are given the power for our marriages by the Holy Spirit; the love we have received from God pushes us to selflessly love our spouse; we commit to each other's holiness.  One of my favorite quotes:

"The rest of the world sees us wrinkling up, but using marriage's powers in the grace of Jesus, we see each other become more and more spiritually gorgeous.  We are clothing, washing, adorning each other.  And someday the whole universes will see what God sees in us." (169)

Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis
I shared on Instagram back in August how I somehow made it through a classical Christian education and four years of Bible college without ever reading any of C.S. Lewis's books (the exception being the Chronicles of Narnia).  I've taken it upon myself to remedy this, and started with the first book in a four-book collection we have.  I'll admit, it was a tough read.  But I'm glad to have read it and I learned things about C.S.Lewis I never knew.  I plan to go back and read the other ones in this collection, but I needed a break from deeper reading.

What books have you read lately?

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