Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Reads that Helped Me Understand

People read for different reasons.  I mostly read because it is something I enjoy, and it is a way I relieve stress.  Sometimes I read because I want to understand and learn about an issue or how to handle to handle a certain situation.  This month was full of books like that.  The books ranged from the US prison system to showing respect.  Here are my reviews.

1. Just Mercy by Bryan Peterson

Just Mercy was recommended by a friend.  It was written by a lawyer who deals with death row cases.  The book was full of stories of clients he has dealt with from people wrongly convicted to children who are sentenced to life and put in adult prisons.  He told of his organization's battle to fight for fair trials.  He talked about how if you are black or poor or both, it is harder for you to get a fair trial.  It was a hard read, but gave me a better understanding of some of the race issues in the United States today. 

2. Mother and Son: The Respect Effect by Ralph Eggerichs

This author is well known for his book, Love and Respectwhere he wrote about how a wife needs love and a husband respect.  Using that same idea, Mr. Eggerichs challenged mothers to respect their sons in the way they speak and interact with them.  The first half of the book dragged as he was trying to convince the reader to read the book.  I found the last half more helpful with stories and practical suggestions.  My biggest take away was the reminder that my best conversations with my son will take place as we are side by side on a walk or doing something together not us sitting down at a table across from each other.  I better understand now that how I say something to my son affects him just as much as what I say.

3. The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn

This novel highlighted the banking and stock market system. Bunn wrote about a scenario where a lady analyst foresees certain patterns that signal that our economic system is on the edge of collapse.  Can it be stopped?  Who is responsible?  Is she brave enough to stand her ground?  This was a great read about learning to let people in and being brave enough to do the right thing.

4. Sick and Tired: Empathy Encouragement and Practical Help for Those Suffering from Chronic Health Problems by Kimberly Rae

This short book was an informative yet fun to read.  The author who suffers from chronic health problems shared her story as she gave advice and encouragement to others who are suffering from chronic health problems.  The book helped me know better how to relate to friends who are dealing with chronic health problems.

What books have you read as this new year begins?  Interested in other reviews, check out Modern Ms. Darcy and her quick lit linkup. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Favorite Reads of 2016

This year was full of finishing book series that I had started and trying to read more non-fiction.  As we close out the year, I have read over 100 books.  I guess that is what happens when you travel a lot, don't watch a lot of TV, and have a summer with lots of free time and not much else to do. (Of course now that my kids brought in new TV shows, I might be watching a bit more TV this new year. 😀)  This year my husband and I read a lot of the same books.  This was fantastic for discussing the books, but not so great when he finished the books before me and wanted to know what book was next.

One of our favorite authors this year was Davis Bunn who also writes under the name of Thomas Locke.  Thankfully, our online library had many of his books.  I loved the different locales that he writes about such as Greece and Ireland as well as his characters who range from surfers or security experts to archeologists or research scientists.  Even though none of the books made it on my favorites list for 2016, I am glad they were part of my reading this year. Some people have comfort food, I have comfort books.

For my favorites, I have four non-fiction books, one fictional series, and two novels.

Nonfiction Favorites:

1. Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

I read this book as we were leaving Central Asia.  My soul was in need of some serious care.  John Ortberg does a great job of laying it all on the table about what is at stake when we neglect our souls.  He also excels at pointing the reader to God and how to best care for his or her soul.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book.
The soul seeks God with its whole being.  Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God-smitten and God-crazy and God-obsessed.  My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed with appetites.  But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God.

2. Fresh Out of Amazing by Stacey Thacker

In July, I was able to be a part of the advanced reading team for Stacey's book Fresh Out of Amazing.  It's a refreshing read whether you feel amazing or out of amazing.  I liked how she used the book of Habakuk and his story to help deal with our fresh of out amazing state.  I am excited about reading the book again in January as part of an online book club.
Here is a favorite quote:
Lately he has been whispering to me that being fresh out of amazing isn't a one way ticket to despair; it is an opportunity to see God be big.  When we see God as big, we lose the desire to merely look at the horizontal. 

3. Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephen Baumann and Matthew Soerens

The refugee crisis has been on my mind a lot this last year.  My heart hurts for those who are displaced or no longer have a home.  The authors explain the crisis as well as defines who a refugee is and what process he or she goes through to come to the United States.  The book was a informative as well as inspiring.  What a blessing it is for those who are welcoming refugees and helping them have a good transition to the states.

4. Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places by Kate McCord

I read this book in my transition time between Central Asia and West Africa.  Kate's words crept into the inner places in my heart and began a healing in those places that were hurting from leaving a people I love dearly.  She helped me put into words why we went and why we stayed for the years we did.  
Here is a favorite quote:
We are not saviors.  We reveal Christ, but the work is always his.  We ache to see people come to know Him and grieve when those who do suffer terribly for their faith.  This, too, is part of the journey.

Favorite Series: WITSEC Town Series by Lisa Phillips

This series takes place in a town called Sanctuary that is located someplace in Idaho.  The only way in and out is via helicopter or many days hiking through mountains.  Its location is only known to a few people because the town's residents are all part of the Witness Protection program.  What would it be like to be the sheriff to a town like this?  Well, to say the least, your life would never be dull.  The plots are full of twists and turns.  The characters are entertaining and enduring.  Overall, this series was a great stress relief in the midst of a busy fall.  

Favorite Novels

1. Lost and Found by Ginny Yttrup

2. Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Here are my short reviews of these two books.

What were your favorite books this year?  


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Musing 2016

This is our first Christmas in West Africa which also makes it our first Christmas at the beach.  Here and there are reminders of Christmas amidst the normal day to day comings and goings. My tree is decorated, and Christmas music is playing. Little by little it feels like Christmas.

Each morning the last two weeks, my students and I read  the Advent readings from  Good News for Great Joy put out by Desiring God.    Most of our readings were from Hebrews.  At first it seemed a funny place to be at Christmas time with all the readings about high priests and old and new covenants.  Shouldn't we be talking about mangers and angels and shepherds? 

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven.  There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship built by the Lord and not by human hands. (Heb 8:1 NLT)
Christmas is a reminder that Jesus is the main point.  The old covenant was a shadow of the new covenant Jesus brought. Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy made in the Garden of Eden.  The old covenant gave us a yearning to be holy and showed us we couldn't make it on our own.  Jesus' blood sealed the new covenant making it possible for the forgiveness of sins because of his sacrifice.   The shadow became a reality.  Jesus became a man.  Jesus made a way for us to truly know God.

In all the distractions of Christmas, it is easy to forget that Jesus is the main point.  May we celebrate today remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season.  

Merry Christmas, TJ