Lately I’ve been on a book binge.
I seriously have been inhaling books like those guys in the hot dog eating contests on Coney Island on the Fourth of July.
I’ve always been a reader. Since early grade school I’ve read all the series of my time … The Great Illustrated Classics, Boxcar Kids, Babysitter’s Club, The Twilight Series, Hunger Games and all the ones in between (except those freaky deaky Goosebumps books. Hated those.).
This binge has been full of non-fiction, christian literature for the most part (Not to be confused with self-help). I feel as though they have helped me out of what I’m sure could have been a Debbie-Downer season of life. I will NOT let myself think this season as a “trial.” But, at the same time, uprooting and moving more than 1200 miles from home is an … adjustment. My new BFF’s (my books) have made me look at the BIG picture. They have made me fall head over heels in love with Jesus in a way I didn’t know was possible. They caught me at a time where I was hungry, needed a major distraction and pushed me toward Jesus, which is the ONLY thing that could have satisfied me. Almost all of these books have encouraged me to dive deeper into my Bible and I’ve been eating it up. Every Holy word.
I mean, here I am in nowhere, Pennsylvania with more time on my hands than I know what to do with. And a girl can only clean her baseboards so many times a day. I’m pretty sure this is my healthiest outlet. And spending so many hours a day with my head in a book means I have pretty much zero interest in TV. I haven’t watched Idol this season AND I have no interest in The Bachelorette … WITH Emily Maynard?!?! What? Who am I?!?! Where is the reality tv guru I knew and loved.
She’s gone. She ran off with her e-reader.
In case you’re curious … here’s the low-down on my book habit.
I know, I know. I have WAY too much time on my hands. But truthfully, some of them are running together, so it’s good for me to further process.
It started with a book on tape that is the base to a powerful study that practically every woman in my family has done. You can download the lessons to your phone/ipod and listen to them while you’re cleaning the house, commuting, etc. I wrote about them in an earlier blog, but the name of the book is The Five Aspects of Woman by Barbara Mouser. She defines womanhood in five aspects: Helper Completer; Mistress of the Domain; Lady Wisdom; Lifegiver; and Glory of Man. She shows us how the God truly designed us to be, what the fall meant for us, and how Christ redeemed us on the cross. I feel like I learned sooooo much about myself, women in general, and what God’s best is for women. It even made me gain more insight on men. I can. not. wait. to do the study eventually with a small group. Ahhh … so good.
MmmKay, next I went a little rogue. For me. I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Quit laughing. It was seriously a page turner (I told you, I was hungry)! I’m kind of laughing at myself, now. However, it was REALLY good. It was so wise and so practical and so easy to understand, even for beginners like us. I loved it and am SO glad I read it and we have gotten started on the baby steps. Five stars, Dave. Five stars.
Then, I got into the big stuff. This is where God started literally turning my heart inside out. I found the first suggestion randomly on my Facebook newsfeed- 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker. Seriously … No, really, SERIOUSLY. The most life-changing book I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down. I still haven’t stopped talking about it. I’m constantly day dreaming about the all the takeaways. I think I’m probably just going to have to read it again so I can pick up more details. It was about a normal chica (My peeps and I would call her a PLU, meaning “People Like Us”) who realized all the crazy excess we live in in the ole US of A. I’m copying this summary from her website, because I want to rewrite the book for you in trying to persuade you to read it:
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.
People, it’s so stinking good. It just magnifies all the areas of our life where we’re living in extravagance. When you look at all these individual things they’re so normal you can’t think of life without the excess, but when you start realizing how just cutting back on just some of it leaves more room for God to show up, it makes you crave simplicity. So, I’ll give Pennsylvania that- it’s definitely making a “simple” lifestyle much easier to come by. Life at home in the normal realm of my Arkansas bliss was distracting … because like I said before- I like the distractions. However, after reading 7, I’m seriously trying to cut out on the extra. I want God to have plenty of room to be God without all my … stuff.
This threw me into a Jen Hatmaker kick so I followed that with her books, Interrupted and A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study. I even read her husband, Brandon Hatmaker’s book, The Barefoot Church. I would recommend all of those, too. Great reads. The guide to Bible study was especially helpful. I LOVE doing small group Bible studies with fun fill in the blanks that make me process and memorize Scripture, but sometimes can have trouble just opening up God’s word and being able to really understand. She seriously opened my eyes to being able to dive in head’s first and really get something out of it without having my hand held in a structured study … forever indebted.
I also read Jennie Allen’s book Anything which was challenging and an awesome book. Way to go Jennie! I’ve loved everything I’ve done by Jennie, especially her study Chase. She’s super fun and real and just encouraging. Loved it.
Jennie talks a lot about a girl named Katie Davis who is a girl in her young twenties from Nashville, TN. Katie went to Uganda for a year after high-school to intern at a small school. However, while there she fell in love with the people and has now adopted 14 girls that she lives with and has started a ministy called Amazima which is AMAZING and I am all over. Between Katie, Jen, and Jennie I'm just filled with love for adoption and am PRAYING God uses that in our lives. Katie's book Kisses from Katie is just inspiring. Seriously. I cried and cried and cried. I feel like it literally broke my heart in a million pieces, but has gotten me really excited about doing something for God's Kingdom that I never really thought about before. Her Amazima ministry is exciting and just ... amazing. There are so many ways the average person can help! Do it! Today!
David Platt's Radical was pretty interesting. I've heard lots of mixed reviews on it, but I actually loved it and thought he was spot on. I was kinda ready to pack up and join Katie Davis in Uganda after I read it. Too bad, Aaron hasn't been on my book binge. I'm pretty sure he thinks I've gone off the deep end. Which is fine. I'm sure it's not the first time he thought that. Aaron is a huge Francis Chan fan, he loves his sermons and we watch them frequently. I think he's amazing too, the way he can get up there and share his heart so honestly is just awesome, so I downloaded his book Crazy Love which I'm actually only half way through. I've been trying to slow down and actually take it in so I could process better. But, it's really good.
Lastly, I am almost through Kelle Hampton's memoir, Bloom. I saw it on the Mother's Day shelf at Barnes and Noble and when I saw the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, had raved on it I went home to download it. It's Kelle's story about delivering her second baby girl and she was born with Down Syndrome. She had no idea until she delivered her. It is a PRECIOUS book and Kelle is hilarious. She's actually a blogger (like Jen, Jenne, and Katie). The book was just released. Nella, her daughter with DS, is just a few months older than Sawyer. I love that I can follow all these super cool peeps in the blog world and hear more as their stories further unfold. Kelle is pretty off-the-cuff, and we definitely have some different theology ideas. But she's real and she's witty and I just like her. It's a really good book. And it has lots of pictures ... bonus.
To feed my addictive habit, Aaron bought me a Nook Tablet for Mother's Day which is my new baby. Loving it. I'm finishing up Bloom and Crazy Love and then moving on down my ever-growing "to read" list. The "free sample" thing on e-readers in my fav thing ever. Anytime I head about a book I want to read, I just download the sample to remind me about it later. Genius!!