Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mama Recommends ~ Books Worth Reading

I love to read. The summer provides a break from my BSF and small group commitments. This break allows me the extra time to read "fun" books. And this summer, I definitely found my "fun" books. But, I also found a few books that yanked at my heart in unexpected ways.

So, here are the books I read this summer along with a few thoughts to encourage you to check them out. If you read any of them, I would love to hear your reviews.

Francine Rivers could rewrite the phone book and I would read it. I'm serious. She is a brilliant storyteller. She captured my attention years ago with Redeeming Love. So, when I learned that she had written a two-part series I had to get it. The first book is, Her Mother's Hope and the second book is, Her Daughter's Dream. The stories begin in Europe and follow a woman named Marta as she leaves a broken home and builds a life of her own. This new life eventually lands her in California's Central Valley. {For those of you who know my love of California, you'll understand why reading about the setting of her new life was so intriguing to me.} Rivers chronicles the generations of women who follow Marta and tells a "gripping saga about family and faith, dreams and disappointments, and the depths of grace and forgiveness."

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. This little book {a mere 192 pages} is a treasure.

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids by Trish Ashworth. I like a book that makes you laugh at yourself. I think we as women can take ourselves way too seriously and forget to just LAUGH. This book would be a good outlet for many of you. And while I'm sure that the authors did not intend for me to look at my faith in a whole new way, I did. There was one particular quote that hit me upside the head. "A better sense of control, oddly, comes from letting go." Ugh. God asks us to let go of insane expectations on a regular basis and just be the woman HE has called us to be. Trying to control our lives, or the lives of others, leaves us miserable and devoid of His incredible plan. And I am quite sure that His plan calls for LAUGHTER.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I absolutely loved this book. I could go on and on and tell you why. But I think my deepest thoughts on that book are nothing like you would expect. So I will quickly say this: the mentality that shocked so many of us in that book is, in some ways, still alive and well today. Yes, today. Maybe the mentality isn't directed to our black friends and neighbors, because, well, that would frowned upon. But I'm pretty sure the Hispanic community would find that mentality similar. Last week one of the blogs I follow posted this: http://undocumented.tv/2011/blog/the-help-of-our-day/ If you read The Help, read the post.

A Praying Life by Paul Miller. "We can't pray effectively until we get in touch with our inner brat." Ouch. But isn't that so true?! How many times do you come to the Father with a list of "I wants!" And how many of you don't come at all because you're afraid you're a mess? But the truth is, "God wants us to come to Him empty-handed, weary, and heavy laden." He wants us to be helpless. Why? Because "God looks at the adequacy of His Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers." Miller walks you through the understanding of true communication with a God who passionately loves His people. This book taught me so much about praying for OTHER people...and then myself. What I learned most of all was to "abide" in my prayers.

Veneer by Jason Locy & Tim Willard. For full disclosure, I am almost finished with this book. I am currently using it alongside my quiet time. But I could not possibly leave this book out of the lineup. The language of Veneer is beautiful. When Christian authors write books, sometimes you have to "make it through" the awkward wording of the message to actually "hear" the message. Not so with this book. What I found so refreshing was the honesty about "the church". "It's possible and appropriate for the church not to coalesce with the popular norms of society and still thrive. Just because the rest of society does something popular...doesn't make it right. We forget that worldly success seldom mirrors godly success. Often they are opposed." {emphasis mine}

And finally,

Radical by David Platt. "Real success is found in radical sacrifice." We need to become a people who are unconcerned with worldy success. We need to be a people who love Jesus passionately and then seek to love other people with a love that stems from that passion. And we need to be willing to do it...whatever the cost. I could spend this entire review giving quotes that sucker-punched me left and right as I read this book. There were moments that I was on my face weeping to the Lord for my refusal to be obedient to Him. If you allow the Lord to speak to you through Platt's writing, you cannot possible end the book the same person. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" ~ Jim Elliot.

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