Friday, May 21, 2010

What I've Been Up To

Content has once again been lacking on this here blog. And for once I know exactly why…I’ve been busy. Very busy. Reading. It all started when I read Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram. A very good book – complete with Action Steps at the end of each chapter. My personality is such that marching orders or a to-do list are very appreciated. I felt like it helped me put into practice the things he was writing about. One of the chapters was about reading great books and Chip’s Action Steps were to develop a reading list. He gave some recommendations and then encouraged the reader to contact his or her pastor to see if they had any further recommendations. So I emailed both of my pastors and got some additional ideas. I also added a bunch of titles that friends recommended. To say my list was long, well, that would be a gross understatement. But I was giving myself a lifetime to accomplish it. In fact, from the start I knew I would continually be updating it – adding new must-reads to my list over time.

My second step was to price the books on Amazon. That information in hand I then headed to my local library to find out what books they had. They didn’t have as many as I had hoped, but I know they do a great job with interlibrary loan requests so I am pretty sure I’ll be able to get them all there at some point. I may have mentioned before how much I love my library. I really truly do. Our local library has such a wealth of material for children that I am just in awe. That’s another story, really. But one of the features I love about our library is that I can access the card catalog online at home. For a woman who only goes to the library in the presence of two very small children and who is consequently unable to spend time searching card catalogs and shelves this feature is a God-send! I march in with location and title in hand, find the book quickly and easily – before Reagan has even had time to pick out which Curious George books she wants to check out. Online I am also able to reserve a book that is currently checked out. So when the book comes back, they call me right away and I just stop by and pick it up.

In the month of May, I have read (so far) 5 books. I’m going to give a brief review and rating (out of 5 stars), for those of you who are still awake.

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. I enjoyed this book. And while I found it interesting I didn’t have any major moments of awe or revelation, so to speak. I appreciated that it made me think more about my Savior – what he was like as a human being, as the Son of God. I came away feeling like I don’t mirror Him the way I thought I did. The wisdom in His teachings is absolutely astounding. His passion for the Kingdom of God unmatched. His love so far beyond comprehension. I felt challenged to be more like Him – which often means loving people who are scorned, rejected and considered unworthy. THREE STARS.

Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I liked this book, but expected to like it more. It was great to read this and focus on the Holy Spirit – a subject believers seem to gloss over. I realized that I do not call on the Holy Spirit enough in my day-to-day life for His power and peace and guidance. This was an eye-opener. FOUR STARS.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I greatly enjoyed this book. It was extremely challenging and really hit home. I loved what it had to say about living for the Kingdom of God more than the earthly kingdom. I am really convicted to live differently. In fact, I’ve recently been having a hard time with coveting a new home. I’ve been spending too much time looking at bigger houses (houses with more bedrooms) online and this Francis really encouraged me to leave that behind. Instead, what good can I do with what I have? How can I help others with the abundance God has given me? I liked this book better than Forgotten God – but FOUR STARS.

The Intimacy Factor by David and Jan Stoop. This is a marriage and personality book. It has actual personality tests in it for you and your spouse. It was okay. I liked how I discovered that there are certain areas where Brian and I are very much alike, and there are other areas where we are very much…not alike. I also finally figured out that I really don’t like confrontation. I’ll zealously protect my loved ones, but I have a real tendency to RUN FAR FAR AWAY which I did not (for some reason) recognize until just recently. TWO STARS.

What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. Oh my goodness. This may be the best book I have ever read. If I ever encourage you to read one thing other than your Bible, it would be this book. It is tremendous. Life changing. Eye opening. Convicting. Heart-warming and heart-wrenching. I could not put it down. I cannot even put into words how wonderful this book was. But I’ll say this, I am going to go out and buy this book. I am going to read it again. And again. And I am going to use a highlighter. It is amazing. Do not read it unless you are ready for your heart to change. Absolutely incredible. FIVE STARS (or maybe even six).

What is remarkable about all this is that this specific cocktail of books is really a fantastic combination. And it was all quite by “accident”. I didn’t know where to start on my reading list so I just started wherever. Clearly, God was working in the details here. All of them (aside from the Intimacy Factor) carry such a similar message – but each in its own unique and insightful way. I simply cannot view the world, the church, my community, or myself as I did before. And I am so thankful for the wake-up call I’ve just received.

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