I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading lately. And it looks to be a particularly book-filled year. So I’ve decided to not only share some of my favorite reads with you . . . but actually send some of my favorite reads to you!
Every morning, I start my day with devotions and reading time. This habit, which I’ve practiced since I was a young girl, helps my mind and soul wake up while my body attempts to catch up. By keeping this date with myself — and reading extra on sick days and weekends — I can power through a few books a month.
Spoiler alert — I’m heavy into nonfiction. I know that fiction is good for me, but I just gravitate toward answers to burning questions. If you have a good fiction recommendation, please leave the title in the comments!
And as for how you can have one of these books for your own collection, just keep reading to the end.
Some Books that Made Me Think
. . . and highlight and copy in my journal and pray . . .
Treasures in Dark Places: One Woman, a Supernatural God and a Mission to the Toughest Part of India by Leanna Cinquanta
This book came as a surprise “thank you” gift from the publisher after I was granted the particular honor of interviewing the author for Ministry Today Magazine. Dr. Cinquanta is a modern-day “missionary hero” in India (the kind we used to listen to flip-a-card stories about in vacation Bible school) who is leading a native revival that just might end child trafficking in that country. Her autobiography is fascinating and challenging.
“This is the definition of poverty, I thought.
Then I knew I was wrong. This was not the definition of poverty. Poverty is a middle-class family that has no joy. Poverty is a wealthy family enslaved to fear and strife. According to the economy of the world, Saroy and Rita were poor. They lacked education. They lacked financial opportunity. They lacked what the developed world considers necessities of life.
But absence of material possessions hadn’t dampened Saroj and Rita’s joy. They were no longer slaves. They had escaped the chains under which their kinsmen labored. They had found Jesus, and with Him they had found peace and purpose. Now they walked with the authority of the King of whose kingdom they had become citizens. They were wealthy with a wealth no money could buy. The strangest notion swept over me. I stood in the presence of true royalty.”
— Treasures in Dark Places, p. 24
Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller
This is the book I’ve needed my entire adult life. And I would have killed — killed — for it a decade ago when my family was literally falling apart under the pressure of ministry. If you have ever groaned “There is no such thing as a day of rest!” or “Dog-gone it, I hate Sundays!” or even “I’ll rest when I die,” then this is the book for you.
Shelly gets it as only a pastor’s wife, author, and busy mom can. She takes off the burden of Sabbath-keeping and replaces it with the blessing of resting.
“If we are created with intention by God for a specific purpose, and the way of discovering that purpose is through relationship with him, then the way of discovering what we are missing in life is through abiding with him on sabbath. A lack of intentionality when it comes to how we rest leads to a depleted life defined by what the world dictates. When we are overtied and dreading the alarm clock, we miss out on the hints toward happiness God is leaving for us. “Wasting time” is actually the most productive action you may take this week.”
— Rhythms of Rest, p 44
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp
There are two kinds of Christian readers: those who like Ann’s writing and those who don’t. I do, particularly on paper (I find her harder to read on a blog post). And with this book, Ann touches — no, hammers — on an aspect of Christianity that I am personally wrestling with right now: How do you reconcile your faith with a life shattered beyond repair?
Like I do with most Christian living best-sellers, I grabbed this from the library intending to skim it and return it. But after copying huge chunks of it into my journal, I purchased the hardcover to read again, highlight, and annotate.
“You are whatever you love. You are, at your very essence, not wwhat you think, but what you love. Open up God’s love letter to us — He say we’re all lovers compelled by our loves. We are all compelled not by what we believe is right, but by what we love the most. You are not driven by duties, you are not driven by doctrines; you are driven by what you ultimately desire — and maybe you don’t actually really love whatever you think you love?”
The Broken Way, p 117
This is an unusual recommendation from slightly outside my theological norm. Thomas Moore is Catholic and nearly New Age in his philosophy, but he tackles a fascinating question in this heavy read. What if the worst valleys of our lives, our times of deepest pain and turmoil, were not something to “get through as fast as possible” but instead a treasured teaching moment? What if we stopped praying for the trial to end and instead embraced it as a treasured part of life?
He likens our trials — physical illness, mental anguish, spiritual trials — to a dark night in which no discernable light or relief can be found. Like Jonah, stuck in the belly of a fish, unable to save himself or see any hope for his predicament. Yet that stinking suffering the dark was exactly what the prophet, and what we, need to carry us forward on our journey.
“The dark night saves you from being stuck in your small life. It makes you a hero. It grows you into your fate and into being a responsive member of your community. In your mother’s womb you were becoming a person. In your womb-like dark night you are becoming a soul.”
Bright Days, Dark Nights: with Charles Spurgeon in Triumph Over Emotional Pain by Elizabeth Ruth Skoglund
I wish I could remember who recommended this book to me, because it is a treasure! I never knew Spurgeon had so much to say about self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and other emotional trials. Spurgeon battled these just as much (if not more) than any of us, and he speaks across the century with compassion and hope. As an experienced counselor, Skoglund brings forward the biblical applications Spurgeon makes to very physical distress we all encounter.
“By all the casting down of his servants God is glorified, for they are led to magnify him when again he sts them on their feet, and even while prostrate in the dust their faith yields him prsie. They speak all the more sweetly of his faighfulness, and are the more firmly established in his love . . . The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble.” “Soul trouble” is a term for depression, downness, spiritual emptiness, discouragement such as experienced by many great epople of the Bible, which often appears in older writings but still well defines universally what we all experience from time to time. Says Spurgeon of such feelings: “Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary . . . experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness . . . Even if the enemys foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints.”
There are a few great reads for you to check out. Granted, this batch was pretty heavy stuff. I’m working on some poetry, a parenting book, and maybe a novel next. Be sure to recommend a good read to me in the comments!
Want me to send you one of these?
I’ll be mailing a copy of one of these books to a reader of my Genuine Homeschool Mom Newsletter next week. If you want to get in on the action, be sure to subscribe.