A Year in the Life of a Bookworm

New Year’s Resolutions have been criticized, scorned, and denounced by many, but others continue to take part in this time-honored tradition of making promises of self improvement.

Postcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915  photo credit

 One goal I’ve had for a few years now is to read at least 12 books throughout the year. In 2012 I fell short by five, but I did complete seven wonderful books. Twenty-thirteen was the first year I met – and exceeded! – my goal: Completing 14 books and falling one chapter’s length short of 15. In my mind, I include that book anyway, because I was so close! 

It took intentional effort to read as much as I did, and I was able to do it by capturing the moments available: Turning pages until two in the morning when I needed to be up at 7:30 the next, lounging long in a hot bath with a riveting book, and taking in a few pages while my husband played with our kiddo.

I’ve sneaked in a chapter or two when I was supposed to be updating this blog, taken a book with me on errands just in case I needed to wait in line at the bank or drive through, and I always take a book with me on Jeeping trips and Dr.’s visits. I’m rarely without a book somewhere within reach. 

One thing I didn’t do was allow my love for reading to disallow my family to come to me at any time and receive my undivided attention. I also did not sacrifice my daily Bible reading for another book. If we only read one book this year, friends, let’s make it the holy, inspired Word of God, for only in it will we find the Way, Truth, and Life. Still, if you’re looking for other good books to add to your reading list, I highly recommend the ones below! Here’s a brief description of the 15 titles I read in 2013.

 

 

On Prayer

 

51aqvys3ffl_ss500_The Hour That Changes the World by Dick Eastman

Challenging us to spend one hour in prayer a day, Eastman offers a step-by-step plan to accomplish this by dividing the hour into twelve five-minute focused prayer points. Inspired by Jesus’ poignant question to the disciples on the night He was to be crucified: “Could you not watch with me one hour (Matthew 26:40)?” Eastman invites us to wait on the precious presence of God for one hour each day.

 

shoppingThe Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Batterson brings to life Honi, the legendary Jewish savant, the original circle maker, whose dauntless prayers brought an end to a drought, and saved a generation. Batterson admonishes us to pray in a new way, by drawing circles, praying boldly and unwaveringly for our family, our troubles, our dreams, and our missions. “God honors bold prayers and bold prayers honor God.”

 

ThjmTQiMX5sCPraying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson

A small book containing much of the same content as The Circle Maker. I enjoyed it, and found some quality ideas for praying specifically for children, but overall, it was too much like reading the Circle Maker.

 

LUKecQVQxwYCPray Big For Your Child by Will Davis Jr.

This book is a formidable weapon in a parent’s arsenal, and illuminates“the power of praying God’s promises for your child’s life”. Including a generation-changing prayer guide of scriptures and promises to use in intercession, this book will inspire you to pray “Big, Hairy, Audacious Prayers” for your children!

 

On Parenting

 

QodoFSwrvE8CThe Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson

Perhaps the most touching book of the year for me, Clarkson gives specific examples of “following Christ’s example in reaching the hearts of our children”. With a heart of grace and warmth, a spirit of truth and dignity, and power-packed use of biblical wisdom and common-sense teaching, she shows how to embrace the calling of motherhood by adhering to the patterns that Jesus set with His disciples. Thankfully, Clarkson made the chapters intentionally short for busy moms – a trait I adore in authors!

 

04649x_w185Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman

A hand-in-hand ally to Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Plowman offers practical insight and down-to-earth tips for “heart-oriented discipline”. The title is a bit misleading, as Plowman describes “counting to three” as a way to show your child that you have no expectation of compliance, and no intention of leading them in obedience. I agree. This book inspired and convicted me, though, and led me to make some adjustments in training my own two-and-a-half year old.

 

On Writing

 

MOt7wj5WV9MCErnest Hemingway on Writing edited by Larry W. Philips

A book of Hemmingway’s reflections on the nature and craft of writing. This is my least favorite of the two books on writing, but I still found nuggets of wisdom.

 

ufthJ-LMPoQCWriting Tools by Roy Peter Clark

50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer”, Clark equips writers with a workbench of useful, practical, and effective writing tools. Easy to read and bursting with “aha” moments, it’s a must-read for every writer.

 

 

On Christian Living

 

333876Undaunted by Christine Caine

This book challenged and convicted me, and I loved it! Christine Caine is an advocate for those who are suffering, and she invites and inspires us to go into all the dark and hurting world and rescue them, offering the light and healing of Jesus Christ.

 

 

9987482_w185Intimacy With the Almighty by Charles Swindoll

This small book takes us on a journey to push past the busyness of life, and enter into intimacy with Almighty God.

 

 

520653_w185The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn

Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and crushing legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise.” A must-read for anyone searching to understand or needing a resource to explain the paradox of grace and love and truth and justice within God’s Word.

 

681721Gospel Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax

Written for small group leaders and Sunday School teachers, this small book guides and equips you into a Christ-centered approach of “continually reintroducing people” to Jesus. “Get the message right,” he says, “and God will work through a variety of methods.”

 

205349Jesus on Every Page by David Murray

A much needed book, Murray leads us in the search and discovery of the work and person of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. “The Scriptures testify of Me (John 5:39),” Jesus said, and we can find Him on every page of the His Word, from the opening words of Genesis to the final entry of Revelation.

 

On Christian Living for Women

 

457813Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere

The Word of God is a sword we often are more comfortable studying than wielding,” Lisa says. “It’s time for women to take up their swords and use them to connect heaven to earth.” Drawing from the imagery of a powerful sword and the skill of a swordsman, she inspires us to fight our battles armed with the truth of God’s Word.

 

457790Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere

Sketching a powerful depiction of a magnificent lioness’ passion, strength, care, and strategic protection of her cubs, Lisa challenges us to “wake up and change [our] world”. After all, she says, “Jesus is…the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And we are His Lioness [sic] Arising.” 

 

 

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For the Love of Books

At the beginning of this year, I set a goal of finishing one book per month. I am way behind! I have, of course, completed many over the years, but I have just read my fifth book of 2012, and I want to share these five with you, along with a short review of each.

 

Loving the Little Years; Motherhood in the Trenches, by Rachel Jankovic

This book was written by a mama with five children ages five and under! God bless her heart, but you know that when she speaks about parenting, she knows what she’s talking about!

 

Rather than being filled with self-pity over how hard parenting lots of young children can be, this book is a courageous and comical look into the deeper issues of raising kids. It deals with correcting yourself before correcting your children, producing fruit and allowing God to do with it as he pleases, seeing discipline as a means of nourishment and grace, instructing children how to properly navigate emotions, giving kids the tools to become independent adults, teaching about thankfulness, and much more. Jankovic provides insight for Christian parents on how to have fun and live wisely, and find and give grace during the little years.

 

I laughed, cried, prayed, learned, and was convicted and encouraged. This book is definitely one of my top picks for mothers, and I highly recommend reading it!

 

Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman

This book was written by an American mother who, after living in Paris for a time, began to notice how different (read well-behaved) French children were from American children. Pamela explains the “wisdom” of French parenting and shows how American parents can make their lives less stressful by taking pointers from the French child-rearing experience.

 

I first heard about this book on a news program that described it as a “revolutionary” concept in raising children. I then read about it on blogs, in articles, and heard about it on talk radio programs. Everything I heard and read, though, seemed to me to not so much be revolutionary, but something one could learn if they were inclined to read old-school child-rearing material. Since I believe in the old-fashioned methods of parenting (and wanted to see what the hype was all about), I read the book.

 

Just as I thought, the majority of the advice that can be taken from “French parenting” equals out to nothing more than what used to be called “parenting”. I didn’t care for the author’s writing style, and a couple of the pointers were overly self-serving, even at the child’s expense.

 

All in all, if you are wanting to read about parenting and discipline, pick up The New Dare to Discipline by James Dobson, Making the Terrible Twos Terrific by John Rosemond, or How to Raise Good Kids by Barbara Cook, and don’t waste your money on Bringing up Bebe.

 

The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler

Inspired by the needs of both the over-churched and the unchurched”, Matt Chandler writes a call to true Christianity, reminding us that the gospel is not works-based moralism, nor is it feel-good worship of tolerance and happiness. Instead, it is the beautiful truth of the supremacy of an awesome and holy God, the deep offense of man’s ungrateful sin, God’s merciful and unmerited favor, Christ’s brutal death and victorious resurrection, and the restoration of man – God’s image bearers – through Christ unto the glory of God.

 

You cannot understand the cross of Christ without understanding the weight of the glory of God and the offense of belittling his name and what the due punishment is for that offense,” Matt says. “The context of the gospel is the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God.”

 

To understand the true gospel, therefore, is to understand that “God’s plan for redemption is scaled to his glory.” Jesus redeems our souls, our hearts, and our history. “My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more…praise the Lord, oh my soul!”

 

Be warned though, the presentation of the true, explicit gospel of Christ demands a response; it will melt you or it will harden you. It is disquieting, convicting, and disruptive. It uproots the peaceful, pleasurable, and tranquil notions of many. It is also comforting, connecting, and gives an understanding of true hope, redemption, and salvation. To truly understand the gospel is to be transformed.

 

This is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is a must-read for anyone wanting to know the beauty of brokenness, the fullness of freedom, and the truth of transformation. If you have ever wondered what the big deal about the gospel is, this book is for you.

 

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Ahhh, how do I love this book? Let me count 1,000 ways. I almost don’t even feel like I need to say anything about this book since everyone knows my heart’s deep and abiding affection for this literary piece of heaven on earth.

 

Often difficult to read yet hauntingly beautiful in style, this book is a dare to live more fully right where you are. For my complete analysis of this book, read my blog post, Thanksgiving Thursdays, A Tradition of Gratitude.

 

 

The Hole in our Holiness, by Kevin DeYoung

John Piper calls Kevin “ruthlessly biblical” in his writing of this book. Written for those wanting to understand the role of the law in the life of the believer, Kevin shows us how to “fill the gap between gospel passion and the pursuit of godliness.”

 

DeYoung became a favorite author of mine when I read his book Why We’re Not Emergent, co-authored with Ted Kluck. I eagerly pre-ordered this book before it was released, since both the subject and author piqued my interest.

 

The subject, the lack of the pursuit of holiness among professing Christians, has long been a fire in my soul. Having been raised in a legalistic environment, I have seen many people of my generation go too far and take on the belief that holiness equates moralism. They no longer see the need live a transformed life of sanctification. Few Christians today look like Christ, and far too many aren’t concerned about that.

 

This book is for those who “are ready to take holiness seriously,” and I highly recommend reading it.

 

I have several more books on my upcoming reading list, and I’m excited to get to them! No doubt, I will let you know what they are and what I think of them.

I would love to hear what you are reading! Please tell me your favorite books in the comments section.