Books I Am Determined To Finish Reading This Month

I got into a bad habit, ya’ll. I have a bad habit of starting books and then putting them down and starting another. This has led to a pile of 20 something books by my bedside that I’ve started and not finished. So, my goal for this month is to finish two books. I can start another book; I just got to finish two.

This is it. The books I'm determined to finish.

This is it. The books I’m determined to finish.

And because I love hearing what other people are reading, I thought I would share what books I currently am reading. The picture you see featured are the books. So in no particular order, I’ll summarize the books for you:

  • True Love Dates by Debra Fileta. Yes, it is a book on dating. No, it will not tell you dating is less holy than courtship. Debra has, in my opinion, a balanced take on dating and relationships. We all want to do relationships right, but sometimes we get so caught up in doing things perfectly that we start living in fear of doing the wrong thing. Let’s call it hamartiaphobia (hamartia is the Greek word for sin), the fear of sinning. The only fear we should have is the fear of the Lord. If we have a fear of anything else, it will lead us to bondage, captivity. We are called to walk in faith, not fear. Amen? To summarize the book, Debra encourages singles to date inward, or in other words, get to know yourself first. Then date outward and upward. Get to know others through your dating interactions and, most importantly, know God. In the introduction, Debra explains, “Dating upward proposes that to fully engage in the exchange of love with another human being, you must first experience it within the context of a relationship with God.”
  • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. I must admit I am a big fan of the Anne series. I have all eight books and I read them just about every summer. Montgomery’s descriptions of a scenery in Prince Edward Island is as breathtaking as if you were there seeing it with your own eyes. Anne of Avonlea is the second book in the series. And I must warn you, if you watched the movies, there is not a whole lot of similarities with the sequel of the movie by producer Kevin Sullivan. Anne starts teaching in her old schoolhouse where she was a student, but there is much more that happens in the book than in the movie. Marilla adopts twin orphans, a boy and a girl, much to Anne’s joy. Anne and Gilbert become friends and share in taking correspondent courses while teaching. And of course, throw in a few more mishaps that only Anne can do. New and interesting characters are introduced such as Miss Lavendar of Echo Lodge. I love the characters and I love all the stories Montgomery weaved into the book. It is a lighthearted and charming book.
  • What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkeurst. Lysa is the president and founder of the Proverbs 31 Women organization that helps women to grow in their faith. I’ve read a few of her books and love her honesty and humor. I also love how I can relate to her struggles with insecurity and fears. This book was written in 2005 and I am just now discovering it. Great book and Bible study!! And so what I need right now in this stage of my life where I am wanting to walk in faith and see how God moves in big ways in my life. Lysa says in her introduction, “I believe God gives every woman a dream. Not the same dream, of course, but a dream that is especially tailored for her talents and His purposes.” But like the Israelites, we women face some obstacles along the way. A desert full of discouragement, impatience, fear, and fatigue. Giants in the Promise Land. We always have a choice when faced with these obstacles: either shrink back and give up, or keep plugging ahead.  In the book she teaches on five phases of faith: Leaving, Famine, Believing, Death, and Resurrection. I don’t want to say too much, but just enough to wet your whistle…pique your interest. Trust me, the book is full of good stuff. There are questions at the end of each chapter along with verses to help you dig into God’s word and listen for His voice. Have a notebook or journal handy!
  • Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton. I am proud to say I just finished this book today at the time I’m writing these words (Wednesday, June 17). YAY!!! I bought this book a long time ago. A looooooong time ago. I’m pretty sure I bought it in October of last year. This book is written by life and executive coach, Valorie Burton. If you find yourself stuck in life, not moving forward with your goals, this book might help you pin point why and encourage you to keep going. There are question at the end to get your wheels turning in your head and a prayer at the end. The author has been featured on several t.v. shows including Oprah and The Today Show. I like this lady. She gives me a good kick in the pants. Many of us have learned bad habits that have not served us well in life. I know I have. However we’ve learned these bad happens, whether learned through our dysfunctional families, or just got into making bad choices that became bad habits, it is never too late to learn new ones. We are not doomed!  Valorie encourages me with these words, “God wants to do a new thing in you. What has occurred in the past does not need to dictate your future.” She teaches you to be aware of emotions and triggers that can be keeping you stuck. She gives inspiration to conquer those emotions and triggers, and helps you to rescript your story so it “epitomizes the power of God in your life”, allowing you to step into the amazing life God has for you. If you want to find out more about Valorie and what she does, check out this link to her website:
  • Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient by Valorie Burton. Yes, I have another one of Valorie’s books. 🙂 I must admit, I’m not very far along in this book. It’s a good book; I just got distracted by all my other books. Well, it is work to read it because I have to think and write. This book is a little bit of a different format than the above book. There are thought-provoking questions that she asks throughout the chapters, but not in every chapter where you have to write down something. I get stuck on the questions and have to put it down for awhile. Valorie defines success as a “harmony of purpose, resilience, and joy. Think of it this way: Success is living your life’s purpose and embracing resilience and joy as you do.” There is a lie I have believed about success. I believed that success comes only to the most talented and gifted of people. The rest of us have to sit on the sidelines. Not true! Valorie teaches 9 habits that successful women have and anyone can learn. One of the main reasons why success comes to people is because they think differently. What do they think? One of thoughts is about themselves. They believe they can do whatever it is they want to achieve. The ones that struggle and quit are the people that doubt themselves. My pastor always says, “If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.”  The first habit Valorie teaches is “Believe you can do it.” She teaches in this first habit to adopt a “growth mindset” rather than a fixed one, and to take notice of what you tell yourself and adjust your thoughts to accurate thinking which is different than positive thinking. You can be positive all day long but not be accurate. “Choose hope. Dream big. Learn new skills. Believe all things are possible.”
  • The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Deep stuff, dude. Deep stuff. I’ve been reading this one for awhile too. I am almost done with it though with a just a few more chapters to go. While Willard covers a lot in this book (it’s 400 pages), the gist of it is about how we as Christians are to live in God’s kingdom on earth, “the kingdom of the heavens”. Many Christians have the mindset that the primary function of Christianity is as, Willard called it, “admittance into heaven”. In this book, Willard shares his hope, “to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. In his case, quite frankly, presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt, and contempt has led to profound ignorance. Very few people today find Jesus interesting as a person or of vital relevance to the course of their actual lives…The life and words that Jesus brought into the world came in the form of information and reality. He and his early associates overwhelmed the ancient world because they brought into it a stream of life at its deepest, along with the best information possible on the most important matters.” Towards the end of the book, Willard teaches on the primary function of the Church which is to make disciples. Unfortunately, in the West, we do little of that. We live in an age where the darkness is getting darker. While it might seem darkness is winning, light never shines as bright as when it is darkest. We need to let our light shine! Willard really draws out some great truths from Scripture that has inspired me to let my light shine. People are hurting and they need to know where to go to be healed.
  • One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future by Dr. Ben Carson. This book is a political book. Now, don’t roll your eyes. There’s nothing inherently evil about politics. I don’t talk much about politics on this blog because that is not the focus, though, I might imply some things that are debated by both political parties. Nothing wrong with that. We have some serious issues going on in this country that, yes, involve politics; just no way around that. We have issues that need to be debated and discussed and discussed some more, because we have some decisions to make about what kind of country we really want to be. I feel we are at a crossroads with this next presidential election coming up and we, as Americans, need to decide which America we are going to be: the one our Founding Fathers envisioned, or this new America that some are propagating.  In the preface of the book, you can find a transcript of Dr. Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast from 2013. You can also read some of his story on how he rose from poverty to the place as the most respected neurosurgeon in the country. Very inspiring!! “Many Americans argue that our nation’s future does not need to be saved and that we are in very good shape. They think that only partisans are skeptical about our future and that people say negative things in order to make the current administration look bad. They see the beautiful view that is America, but they don’t have the common sense and wisdom to look for lowering clouds that obscure the mountain.” Some issues he talks about? Political correctness, racism, elitism, historical revisionists, education, unity. He also talks about the need for civility in our debates over hot button issues. How do we cordially disagree with someone while making a stand for what we believe? There are action steps at the end of each chapter to help encourage you to increase your awareness of how you treat others that disagree with you and also how to be better informed for the voting booth, and how to deal with academic/pc bullies.

There’s so many more books I need to finish, and I just got a new book in today!! Woohoooo!!!! I’m a bookaholic. What books are you reading? Leave a comment and don’t forget to give me the author. I might want to read it! 🙂

Where Do I Find You?

My father passed away almost a year ago. I have a memory of my father that I cherish now more than ever. There was a fruit and vegetable market not too far from our house. It was an outdoor market where farmers set up their produce for direct sale to customers rather than through big grocery chains. This market is where we would go to find our pumpkins for Halloween, our trees for Christmas, and even fireworks for the 4th of July. I loved it! My memory is a little fuzzy now since it’s been so long ago, but I seem to remember there was a pumpkin patch behind it where families could walk through to find the perfect pumpkin.

Outdoor Market

Outdoor Market (Photo credit: yannsta)

I don’t remember how old I was, only that I was quite young. Maybe three or 4 years old. I can’t remember why we went to the produce market at this particular time, but I recall going with my father to get something from the market for a special holiday coming up. As we were looking, somehow I lost sight of my dad in the crowd of people. Panic struck me. I was all alone, and for a kid as small as I was, the world felt pretty big and scary all of a sudden.

I frantically scanned the crowd looking for a tall man with dark hair with the same build as my father. Thinking I spotted him, I ran to him and slipped my hand into his. The man whose hand I now held looked down at me as I looked up and realized…it was not MY dad. Tears of desperation welled up in my eyes.  The man chuckled and then I heard the voice of my father laughing and saying, “Here I am.” Standing a few people down in the crowd I ran to him and immediately grabbed his hand, gripping it as if he might let go.

My father is gone now. My heavenly Father is not. Though I admit at times it seems like He’s left or is hard to find.

I’ve been doing a fast from t.v. and Facebook the past few weeks and I must admit, it’s been a struggle to find my Father. Too many crowded thoughts pushing this way and that in my mind, keeping me from focusing on Him. The thoughts that make up the crowd in my mind are concerns, insecurities, doubts, and darkness.

I wrote down in my notebook the question: Where do I find You?

I get lost in the crowd of thoughts and begin to panic. Finally, I stand still. I quit running just anywhere and I cry out to God, my Father.

I hear His voice, “I’m still here. I haven’t left you.”

I love Colton Dixon new song, Never Gone. In the lyrics, he sings about how in times of darkness we can’t see God, but like a child scared of the dark we cry out to see him and God speaks to us,

“I’m still standing here. No, I didn’t disappear. Now the lights are on. See I was never gone.”

The dark thoughts and darkness of evil in our world can turn the lights out on us and make it difficult to see our Father. But we can always cry out to Him and He will hear His children.

“For it is You who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”  ~ Pslam 18:28

How does He do that? How does He turn the lights on? One way I think is by opening our eyes to see Him in the world around us. He opens our eyes to see Him right there with us in the reality of our world. I’m not talking about pantheism where God is everything and everything is God. No, I’m talking about seeing His handiwork and noticing His nature in that creation. Just as you can find out something about an artist by studying his works of art, you can find something about God in His works of art. He turns the spotlight on, as so to speak, and shines it in places where you see the wonder and beauty of who He is in His creation.

Black-chinned Hummingbird -- Moab, Utah, USA

There have been a few times this week when the lights turned on and I could see Him. I saw Him in a hummingbird that came to visit me the other day as I was sitting on the back deck. Just a few feet away this hummingbird buzzed right up in front of me, face to feathered face. He zipped up just another inch and then zipped back. I think he was wondering if I was a flower.  🙂 I was enraptured in the beauty of that moment with this encounter with one of God’s beautiful and most fascinating of creations.

Later this week a friend of mine sent a YouTube video of these two divers out in the ocean with their video cameras. One video shows a school of some kind of fish frantically swimming in one direction all of a sudden. Then the next shot you see is from the video of the guys on the boat. Bursting through the ocean’s surface are two huge whales just inches away from the divers gathering it’s prey of fish. If the divers had been any closer they would’ve had to change their name to Jonah #1 and Jonah #2. Good thing those guys had wet suites on cuz I am sure they wet themselves! haha! 😛

Dallas Willard, in his book The Divine Conspiracy, talks about re-visioning our eyes to see Him in His world. He says,

“Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with a glorious reality, where every component is within range of God’s direct knowledge and control—though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for a while otherwise than as he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us.”

No, He hasn’t left me in the crowd. Though at times the darkness scares me, He hasn’t left me alone in the dark either. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is a promise and He will keep it. Comforting words for a child that can get scared out of her wits when her Daddy is no where to be seen.

If you get lost in the dark and in the crowd, stand still and cry out to Him. Quiet your thoughts and listen for His word to you saying, “I’m still here.”