This morning I spent some time catching up with my favorite blogger and as a result, I feel like a hack.
There. That was my stint into “confessional blogging.” Heheheh. I mean, yes, I’m probably someone confessional in my style and topics (we have cracked open our marriage and displayed some of it’s failings, and my posts can get a little, “oh-I’m-a-horrible-sinner-like” if I’m not careful) but hopefully I am not a raging exposer-of-all-that-I-think-and-feel-with-wild-abandon kind of writer.
Like some bloggers.
Who irritate me.
But I won’t spend valuable time relating why I think this particular women (who made a dramatic, life-altering decision and then declared that the best thing she could do was NOT explain herself) drives me nuts. What I WILL say is this; for the love of everything holy (and I mean that literally….in that hopefully, you desperately love God and want to please him) please don’t follow her example. Please think about your actions in relationship to the community around you. Recognize that God placed us in a body, a group, a village if you will. When you make a life-altering decision, have a mindset that loves people enough to give them a thoughtful, biblical reason for your actions. I like to think that when Jesus would explain himself to his disciples he was tacitly reiterating the truth that we as humans are given a mind to use and a will to steward. In his word, God usually gives us reasons, motives and purposes when he advocates (ok, commands) certain life choices. If God does this for us, shouldn’t we do this for each other? If I, as a wife, make a choice that will profoundly impact my husband, shouldn’t I love him enough to explain my reasons? Shouldn’t I love my children enough to think of their confusion and offer some reasoning for the command that I give or change that I instigated?
If we careen through life focused only on explaining ourselves to ourselves we miss the chance to live like Jesus or to love like the Holy Spirit. And if we get angry at people for merely asking for reasons, good grief, what are we saying about the health of our community? Let people disagree with you! Let them challenge you! Put on your big girl pants and stand up for what you think is right! People may not like it, but at least you gave them something to think through and hash out on their own. Do this with your husband (lovingly), do this with your children (kindly). Do this with your small group, your bible study, your neighbors. In the end love doesn’t demand abject acceptance in the absence of any persuasive argumentation!
Ok, so to recap: have reasons, share them if your decision impacts others. Don’t demand blind acceptance as a test of love.
There. I confess to being frustrated with certain female bloggers.
Ok. Now, on to my reason for writing.
After the great reception I had to our gift list for children, I am very not frustrated (i.e. happy!) to confess that I have a whole bunch of books that I want to tell you about! Books that you should read and that you should give away. Paul and I have read all of these and love them! Woot! Happy shopping! (Click on the books for links to their page on Amazon.)
One of my favorite devotional tools, this book, written by Tim and Kathy Keller (yay for female theological writers and the husbands that support them!), offers lovely insights into the songs of the Bible. It’s nothing new and amazing – books about the psalms are pretty common, but it’s beautifully written and a joy to read. Buy it for yourself and someone that you love : )
Heart of the Matter
Another daily devotional, this one is more practical in nature. These daily admonitions are pithy, short and to the point. There may be compassion given, but you’re always left with an idea of the next right thing to do. This is a helpful book for a busy person who needs a moment of kind but pointed guidance for the day. Topics covered are practical and helpful, written to be mulled over during the commute to work or during that super boring staff meeting after lunch. It’s a solid little book. Less dramatic than Piper’s daily musings but no less insightful : )
Portraits of the Word
Paul loves calligraphy. He’s loved it for as long as I can remember and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he takes its up as a new hobby. One year I was looking for a good present for Paul (a daunting task) and stumbled across this little book by Tim Botts. It’s lovely and artistic and a great conversation starter if you leave it out on your coffee table. I think. We don’t own a coffee table, but I BET it would open all kinds of conversational doors : ) You should try, and let me know.
Poetry for the Soul
Paul loves poetry. When we were dating, this fact surprised me. Paul doesn’t seem like a “poetic” guy. But he is, as many of the tenderly crafted verses that I have stored away in a place that I’ve promised won’t see the light of day until Paul’s old and no longer cares what people will think if they read them, can prove. He tried to get me to love poetry as much as he did, and one of the ways that he did this was to buy books of poetry and send them to me in one of his many “care packages” that traveled (heralds of love : ) from Dunbar, WI to Greenville, SC. This book was by far my favorite. It’s an unassuming volume – cheesey even, on first glance. But it is a gem. I love the scope of poetry and I love the poems themselves. If you are looking for a romantic or less-than-pragmatic gift, this book (even bought second hand) would be a good choice.
Since Paul was in seminary for most of our married life, he rarely had time to read theological books that weren’t related to his schooling. But he read this book. And re-read it. Then he taught through it in our bible study. Then he bought the revised edition. In short, this book changed the way that Paul looked at sin, guilt, grace and the forgiveness of God. It’s a little deep, but it’s good. You should read it. (Paul says that if you don’t have the time for this really long book, check out “Battling Unbelief” because it is the condensed version….and he really wants you all to hear what Piper is saying : )
Every Good Endeavor
If you work in a non-ministry vocation and have ever wondered if God is somehow less enthusiastic about your efforts than, say, of your pastor’s efforts, then this book is for you. Encouraging and enlightening, Keller explores different aspects of vocational theology (which essentially asks, “why does what I do for a living matter to God?”). He urges all believers to see their efforts as being “the hands and fingers of God,” useful, purposeful, and the means of showing grace to the world. So if you are a speech therapist, a network contractor, a voice teacher, a lawyer, a financial director or a graphic designer (I’m exhausting a list of my friends and family here : ) this book is for you!
Made for More
This little book is radical. And short. Which is a great combo, in my mind : ) Seriously, this book will change the way that you view your identity. You aren’t a mom first, or a wife first, or a daughter first, or a speech therapist first (ok, that’s limiting for most of you, but you get the idea), you are an image bearer first. Made in God’s image, we were designed to show that image to the world. It’s a great book. One that every teenage girl should read before she starts getting bogged down in the “what are you going to be when you grow up” mire. Be God’s daughter! The rest of your roles will sort themselves out : )
The Ministry of Motherhood
This is an easy read that I have gone back to time after time when I feel overwhelmed by my role as a mother. It’s as if Sally Clarkson reaches through the pages and gives me a hug saying, “Hey, God gave you a job. It’s hard. But it’s glorious. Hang in there. Remember your purpose.” This a great gift for a new mom or for a mom who just needs a gentle reminder of why she’s doing what she’s doing…..along with a gift card to Starbucks and a promise to babysit :)
The Gospel-Centered Woman
Wendy Alsup is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her writing has helped me so many times, with it’s clear, concise and biblically grounded approach. She asks tough questions and doesn’t dance around difficult answers. She is convicting yet humble. She speaks from her own experiences and uses what she learned to encourage spiritual growth in her readers. If I had a critique, it would be that it feels a tad bit choppy – but then, she used a number of her lengthy blog posts (all great) to flesh out the book and I think that this shows. Still. It’s an excellent book and one that I highly (highly!!) recommend.
What Do You Think Of Me and Why Do I Care?
Along with the inevitable gift card that you give to your teenage or college aged niece or nephew because you have no idea what in the world to get them at Target, give them this book. Ed Welch does a fantastic job of breaking down the ins and outs of peer pressure, identity and the fear of man. This is a more youth-focused version of his book, “When People are Big and God is Small.” It’s a preemptive strike against acting a certain way just because people expect you to and all the angst and frustration that accompany such activity. I know that I found it helpful as I navigated the “mommy wars” and I thought then how helpful this book would have been to me during college.
Ok, I do have a few books that aren’t sacred in nature. No fiction, because frankly, each person has their personal standards and I don’t want to step on toes or cause someone to read something that might upset them. However, I do read alot of fiction and if you are really interested in my recommendations, feel free to ask me about them in person. That way I can caveat to my heart’s content : ) But non fiction is an open field. And I’m giving you three of my favorite reads from the past few years.
Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time
This book is excellent. It is a clarion call to all overworked, frazzled women who long for something less frenetic. I took notes as I read and actually use a number of her suggestions in my every day life. She makes you consider your priorities, dissect your motivations and dream of a better way of living. I thoroughly enjoyed this woman’s perspective, even if it comes from a culture that I will never join (she is an award-winning journalist married to some famous person and they live a life of sudo-elitism that I really don’t understand.) She made me re-think my views on capitalism. She encouraged me to see leisure as something other than a synonym for “lazy.” She gave me challenges that I haven’t heard in any christian literature anywhere (except maybe Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book “Good News for Weary Women” – which is also excellent.) Anyway, I’d love for you to read this and tell me what you thought : )
In Defense of Food
I love this book. I love the quippy tag line “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I love the author. I actually went and listened to him speak in person at a local university last spring! I was surrounded by hipsters, rich old people and individuals with that general air of “I’m-very-intellectual-doncha-know” about them. But I didn’t care! Because this guy is so cool. This was the first of his books that I read. And yes, I disagree with him about the origin of humankind. But where he saw the amazing creativity of the evolutionary process (which, by definition shouldn’t be creative, right???) I saw the creative genius of God! Also, the way that he delves into the history of food and the food industry is impressive without being sensationalized. I appreciate that. And I bet you (or whatever foodie you gift it too) would too : )
Rosemary: the Hidden Kennedy Daughter
My opinion of the Kennedy family was always a little dubious. I mean, I grew up in a solidly conservative republican family, so this isn’t surprising. But I never really looked into the history of the family that created the political dynasty that so enthralled our country. While mostly about Rosemary (obviously) the research gave me a clear look into into the lives and motivations of all the Kennedys. By the end of the book I felt a deep sense of sympathy for Mrs. Kennedy, for Jack, for Rosemary…for all of them! It wasn’t an easy read, but it was fascinating and helpful. And so I am recommending it for you or the historian in your circle of friends : )