Category Archives: For the Love of Books

May Reads

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May was the month for audio books. 

Road trips and lots of cleaning and cooking created space for a lot of listening time, which was then filled with music, sermons, and, um, five audio books. #nerd.

“Real life is more important than books. It’s living the Christian life that matters; books exist to serve life, and the only books worth writing are those that emerge from a life that is awake, alert, and engaged with real people.”
-Joe Rigney, 
Lewis on the Christian life

Here’s my eclectic reading (and listening) list:

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April Reads

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I used to think I was a writer who reads.

False. I’m a reader who writes. I stuff myself with the words of others (mostly Scripture) then those same words are recalibrated and rearranged and flow out much easier (but still not easily) than trying to write from an empty word tank.

And, while we’re chatting about words and writing, may I just admit how ridiculous it feels to call myself a writer? Sitting on an airplane recently, the passenger next to me asked what I did. “I’m, uh, a writer,” I said with a swallow. It feels shallow and hollow and self-promoting, as though I feel I have something to offer that no one else does. But that’s simply not the case. I’m a product of all I have read and this month’s intake has been necessary and refining in both word consumption and production. (For more on my love of words and writing: The One Where I Talk About Writing.)

Sometimes people comment on how much I read and guilt swirls in my stomach from reading so much and too fast to properly drain each book of its wisdom and delight, but absorbing words, however fast or slow, is the only way I can a) survive and b) even attempt to string together coherent sentences or paragraphs or articles that might spark joy and hope in others.

So, here are the books that filled my word tank this month (listed in the order they were read). What’s filling yours?

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When the Wound Reopens

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Progressive.

That’s what healing is. It’s not always overnight or immediate, not always fixed with a Band-Aid or kiss from mom, not always quick and easy or even medically treatable. Sometimes it just takes time. And sometimes, even months or years later, something can happen that tears open an old wound. You thought scar tissue was protecting it, but then even that gets severed. The new rip in the old wound causes grief to pour out like a torrent while you desperately look around for a compress and wish you’d have been prepared with a tourniquet.

But that’s the thing. One is never prepared for the scab being torn off a wound. It’s like accidentally scraping a sunburn. If you knew it was coming, you would have stopped it. But it always catches you off guard.

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11 Quotes from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Learning, reading, and writing are three of my favorite things in the world. Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird combined all three in a way that often left me laughing and filled with the constant desire to put the book down and write my own words.

Whether you are a writer or not, it is my hope the following quotes encourage and motivate you to use your gifts and do your thing—that thing that gets your blood pumping, brain firing, and soul soaring—at the highest possible level to love others in the greatest way possible.

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February + March Reads

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“Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs though, so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.” -John Trapp

The following books have filled my soul’s tastebuds over the past couple months. I recommend feasting on pretty much all of them.

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Singing in the Fire

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As previously mentioned, Susannah Spurgeon is my new bff. 

Here’s a snippet from her biography Free Grace and Dying Love (which I cannot recommend more highly). It’s long but one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. Wherever you are and whatever season you’re in, I hope it ministers to you too.

At the close of a very dark and gloomy day I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on, and though all was bright within my cosy little room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the hand which I knew held mine and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, ‘Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’ These fretful questions were quickly answered, and though in a strange language, no interpreter was needed for the conscious whisper of my own heart.

For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of an oak log burning on the hearth. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. ‘What can it be?’ I said to my companion, who was dozing in the firelight; ‘surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night!’ We listened, and again heard the faint plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke for a moment our undisguised wonder. Presently my friend exclaimed, ‘It comes from the log on the fire!!’ and we soon ascertained that her surprised assertion was correct. The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart. Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all went well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold; but he had grown old since then and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness and the vehement heat of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice.

Oh! thought I, when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed are we purified and our God is glorified! Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log–cold, hard and insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds were it not for the fire which kindles round us, and releases tender notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will. As I mused the fire burned and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set before me. Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard, apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.

-Susannah Spurgeon

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January Reads

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Books are an escape, therapy, and education for me.

And January was apparently the month for escape, therapy, and education. I’ve never read as much in 31 days as those that have just passed. We had a small blizzard over one weekend that canceled all plans and I read 7.5 books in three days. What. Is that insane? Yes. The answer is a firm yes.

Here’s my list (in no particular order).

I would love to hear what you’ve been reading!

“We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, ‘Bring the books’ — join in the cry.” -Charles Spurgeon

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2017 Reads

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I love to read. 

And this year reading was a challenge.

It was hard to focus and get sucked into the pages because, for the first time in my life, I liked what was happening in my own life better than what was happening in the world of books.

Who knew that was possible?

Instead of spending every free second reading about other people living their lives, I was actually living mine. And it was wonderful and hard and beautiful and excruciating, and I would choose every second all over again to see God the way I do today and to get to know and love (and be known and loved by) the extraordinary people in my life.

Anyway, here are the books I did read. (And, minus the top five, these are in no order whatsoever).

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
-J.K. Rowling

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A Thanksgiving Prayer from Valley of Vision

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O Source of all good,

What shall I render to Thee for the gift of gifts,
Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
His self-emptying incomprehensible,
His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
He came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like Him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to Himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
He united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to Him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
He came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that He is mine and I am His.

In Him Thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

-The Gift of Gifts, Valley of Vision

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Not Jesus “the Great”

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Pluralism affirms that every “ism” has its own independent validity and an equal right to our respect. 

It therefore rejects Christian claims to finality and uniqueness, and condemns as sheer arrogance the attempt to convert anybody (let alone everybody) to what it sees as merely our opinions.

How should we respond to the spirit of pluralism? With great humility, I hope, and with no hint of personal superiority. But we must continue to affirm the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ. For He is unique in His incarnation (the one and only God-man), unique in His atonement (only He has died for the sins of the world), and unique in His resurrection (only He has conquered death). And since in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in His birth), then bear our sins (in His death), and then triumph over death (in His resurrection), He is uniquely competent to save sinners. Nobody else possesses His qualifications.

So we may talk about Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but not Jesus the Great. He is not the Great—He is the only. There is nobody like Him. He has no rival and no successor.

-John Stott, The Radical Disciple 

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