Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books I've Read - September-December 2016

Mere Christianity 
by C.S. Lewis
I tried to read this book years ago, but it was just too heady for me. My preacher mentioned it in one of his current series and it dawned on me that I should try again. It's brilliant. I am in awe at how progressive and amazing C.S. Lewis's mind was. His story is so fascinating to me and his insights into God are still too "heady" for me. Man, am I glad I went back and read this now. I'm sure it's one of those that I can read again and again and learn more and more each time I read it!

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
by Donald Miller
Ever since I read Blue Like Jazz I truly appreciate Donald Miller. This book came out in 2009, but it only just landed on my radar earlier this year. I loved this book - Don is so honest and real and just self-deprecating enough for me to feel like he truly understands humans. There are a couple of slow (read: boring) parts (in my opinion) but he has so many great snippets of wisdom and he's just so real that I found myself intrigued. If you've never read Donald Miller's books, I'd recommend it.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
by Lewis Carroll
I had always wanted to read this children's book and since Amelia Jayne and I are always in the car together I thought this might be a good audiobook for us. The movie is whimsical and bizarre, but the book is just downright weird! Lol! I thought she would ask to turn it off many times because it really is kind of difficult to follow, plus it has 19th century language that we don't use and that she definitely didn't understand, but she didn't seem to mind. I'm sure she didn't get everything that was going on, but she laughed at certain parts and seemed to enjoy it!

Scary Close 
by Donald Miller
His most recent book. This was mostly about his relationship with his girlfriend and now wife, but told in the same great tone that is Donald Miller's.

Jesus Feminist
by Sarah Bessey
Oh, Sarah. There were many things about this book that I loved. I especially love the way Sarah Bessey writes. Her tone and language are refreshing. I felt so encouraged while reading this book - kind of like she is for me. I don't know if that makes sense, but I just felt understood and accepted. Here's a quote from the book that I just love and identify with:
"In my black-and-white-rhetoric-only years, I struggled with understanding or accepting the tensions of God. I struggled with the Both-And nature of most of God's work and character, preferring the linear Either-Or.
He is both just and loving, the Lion and the Lamb. He is truth and grace. We practice works and live by faith. We are in God's Kingdom and not yet living in the fullness of heaven today. By his stripes we are healed, and our suffering perfects our faith. Men and women are equal in worth and value, and yet we are servants of one another. Jesus tells us God is our tender and good Father, and yet in other metaphors, he is more akin to a Lover. Our marriages are a symbol of Christ and the Church, and yet according to Paul, it's better to remain single. The paradoxes of the Christian faith abound, and they used to drive me a bit crazy. Because, well, which one is it? We want to know because then we would have a new law and new mandate, and life would be much easier."

This is the kind of stuff you'll read in this book. So good. I'm pretty sure that I've just realized I'm a Jesus Feminist. :)

Searching for Sunday
by Rachel Held Evans
I am grateful for her perspective and vision and wisdom. I struggle with many of the things she writes about because, like her, I grew up conservative and evangelical. But, I am being introduced to my Jesus in a whole new way and realize that my Father in heaven is far bigger and greater than any of my little thoughts or the tiny little teachings that have come across my ears. God's love for his people is bigger than anything I could ever comprehend. And He truly LOVES all people. Love wins.

"I confess to citing these numbers ominously myself from time to time, especially when I want to make a point about how millennials are losing faith in the church over issues related to politics, sexuality, science, and social justice. I may have uttered something along the lines of "adapt or die" in my writing once or twice. I may have jumped the gun and administered last rites. But lately I've been wondering if a little death and resurrection might be just what church needs right now, if maybe all this talk of waning numbers and shrinking influence means our empire-building days are over, and if maybe that's a good thing. Death is something empires worry about, not something gardeners worry about. It's certainly not something resurrection people worry about."

"I don't know exactly what this new revolution will look like, but as the center of Christianity shifts from the global West to the global South and East, and as Christians in the United States are forced to gauge the success of the church by something other than money and power, I hope it looks like altars transforming to tables, gates transforming into open doors, and cure-alls transforming into healing oils. I hope it looks like a kingdom that belongs not to the rich, but to the poor, not to the triumphant but to the meek, not to the culture warriors but to the peacemakers. If Christianity must die, may it die to the old way of dominance and control and be resurrected to the Way of Jesus, the Way of the cross."

What Now?
by Ann Patchett
What a beautiful little treasure I stumbled upon! I'm going to leave you with these quotes from this short, but poignant and invigorating essay.
"There's a time in our lives when we all crave the answers. It seems terrifying not to know what's coming next. But there is another time, a better time, when we see our lives as a series of choices and What now represents our excitement and our future, the very vitality of life. It's up to you to choose a life that will keep expanding. It takes discipline to remain curious; it takes work to be open to the world - but oh my friends, what noble and glorious work it is. Maybe this is the moment you shift from seeing What now as one more thing to check off the list and start to see it as two words worth living by."

"If you're trying to find out what's coming next, turn off everything you own that has an OFF switch and listen. Make up some plans and change them. Identify your heart's truest desire and don't change that for anything. Be proud of yourself for the work you've done."

The Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I listened to this audiobook with my baby-girl. I was so surprised she sat through the whole thing. She asked very poignant and interesting questions. I had kind of forgotten some of the racism and political incorrectness that's mentioned in this book due to the era in which it was written. I'm willing to embrace our history and teach it to my kids so that we don't repeat it, but it makes for some slightly awkward conversations. I'll look at it as an opportunity that presented itself for me to teach my daughter open-mindedness and acceptance of others who are different than us.

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion
This was supposed to be a book I had previously abandoned and I ended up abandoning it again! I'm pretty sure it's over between us. It just moved too slowly and, though the storyline seemed interesting, it bored me. And ain't nobody got time for that.

Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This was interesting. Kind of slow at times and honestly reminded me somewhat of C. S. Lewis, due to the time period, I'm guessing. I am fascinated with Bonhoeffer these days and plan to read a biography on him soon.

Love Does
by Bob Goff
Yes! Love Does!! This was sweet. I find this incredibly challenging to apply because I tend to live inside of my head too much and don't always allow my knowledge, interests or emotions to move into action. Unfortunately I often tend to hang back and am fearful of actions. This has certainly given me some food for thought...and action. :)