Category Archives: What I’m Reading

What I’m reading, April 2018

Still waiting around here for some consistent warmer temps. The end of the school year is in sight and the end of an era for our family as our youngest graduates from high school.

Lots of great books this month.

My reading life has improved so much, thanks mostly to bloggers and podcasters.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Buy now from Amazon

“Ignorant boys, killing each other,” is just about all Nathan Coulter would tell his wife, friends, and family about the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Life carried on for the community of Port William, Kentucky, as some boys returned from the war and the lives of others were mourned. In her seventies, Nathan’s wife, Hannah, has time now to tell of the years since the war. In Wendell Berry’s unforgettable prose, we learn of the Coulter’s children, of the Feltners and Branches, and how survivors “live right on.”—from GoodReads

Enthusiastic five stars from me.

Brilliantly written, wholesome story.

The story spans the decades of Hannah’s life, giving a panoramic look at her life.

Human drama at it’s literary best.

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life  by Jeff Goins

Buy now from Amazon

“Wrecked is about the life we are afraid to live. It’s about radical sacrifice and selfless service—how we find purpose in the midst of pain. It’s a look at how we discover fulfillment in the least likely of places. It’s about living like we mean it. It’s a guide to growing up and giving your life away, helping you live in the tension between the next adventure and the daily mundane.

This book is for us—a generation intent on pursuing our life’s work in a way that leaves us without regrets.

Author Jeff Goins shares his own experience of struggling as a missionary and twentysomething who understands the call to live radically while dealing with the everyday responsibilities of life. Wrecked is a manifesto for a generation dissatisfied with the status quo and wanting to make a difference.” — from Amazon

I loved the honest, transparent exposure of what ministry is really like. How there’s not a lot of happy endings. How there’s not a lot of neat bows. How your heart breaks and you try to help people, but mostly they want to stay in the pit that they’re in.

It gets discouraging.

And that is real life.

It takes a lot to change people. It takes a miracle, really.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Buy now from Amazon

“When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.” — from GoodReads

Another brilliantly written story with a commitment to traditional values.

The plot differs at critical points from the movie version.  Skip the movie.  Read the book instead.

Thrifty and Thriving:  More Life for Less Money by Victoria Huizinga

Buy now from Amazon

I’ve followed Victoria’s blog for a couple of years, so I wasn’t sure I was going to learn anything new reading her book.

I was wrong.

First of all, even though she covers a lot of tips and practical suggestions that can be found on the blog, it is organized, compact and easy to find in the book.

Aside from practical ideas on how to save money (which I was expecting)  it unrolls a mindset, a foundational paradigm to the way you think about money and even life.

Money can be hard to manage.  Victoria shows, with a lot of personal stories, that so much is about attitude, strategic living and long-term victories. It starts with changing your thinking.

This book is an investment in your future. Implement just a few of the suggestions, and you will recoup the price of the book.

I’d say that’s a thrifty purchase.

Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Buy now from Amazon

“The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.”– from Amazon

A sweet story. A cute story.  A nice, fast read.

I agree that fans of the Penderwicks books will like it.

The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

Buy now from Amazon

“The One Thing explains the success habit to overcome the six lies that block our success, beat the seven thieves that steal time, and leverage the laws of purpose, priority, and productivity.” –from Goodreads

I re-read The One Thing. It is such an incredible book. And, yet, it taunts me.

So many great things that I can’t implement into my life right now.

Specifically, the four hour plan.

There’s just no way I can do it right now. I’m working on so many other things, I just have to follow through with what I have going right now.

I will be coming back to it, though.

It’s just too good not to integrate it into my life.

 

Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Key to Success by Benjamin Hardy

Buy now from Amazon

“If you’re relying on willpower alone to help you lose weight, improve your relationships, or achieve more at work, you’re doomed to fail. The environment around us is far too powerful, stimulating, addicting, and stressful to overcome by white knuckling. The only way to stop just surviving and learn to truly thrive in today’s world is to proactively shape your environment.”–from GoodReads

I heard Ben speak at Tribe Conference last year.  It’s amazing the following he’s gained on Medium.  He writes good stuff, too. Helpful stuff.

Well-written. Great message.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Buy now from Amazon

“What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we “know” is wrong. It wasn’t about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world’s leading forensic psychologists, and the killers’ own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.”– from GoodReads

How could something like this happen? Why did it happen? What could prevent it from happening again?

There’s some real lessons to be learned here.

One lesson was for the journalists.  A new trend in journalism gives criminals minimum press coverage and focuses on the victims’ stories.  This gives perpetrators less motivation to seek fame through their crimes.

There’s also the importance of follow through with high risk people.  Although, apparently psychopaths are masterfully deceptive.

The Read Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie

Buy now from Amazon

“Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud long after kids are able to read to themselves can deepen relationships in a powerful way.

Founder of the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah knows first-hand how reading can change a child’s life. In The Read-Aloud Family, she offers the inspiration and age-appropriate book lists you need to start a read-aloud movement in your own home. From a toddler’s wonder to a teenager’s resistance, Sarah details practical strategies to make reading aloud a meaningful family ritual. Reading aloud not only has the power to change a family—it has the power to change the world.”–from Amazon

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Mackenzie’s blog, podcast and mission.

Of course she outlines the benefits of reading aloud to your kids.  Of course she includes a age graded book list of books she recommends.  This is what you expect.

She’s also pinpointed the hidden value of reading aloud to your kids: making meaningful and lasting connections.

And, she’s also a good writer. She’s a good thinker and master communicator.  What’s not to love?

Have you read any of these titles?  What did you think?

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

What I’m Reading March 2018

There’s nothing like the end of winter.

Even it’s been a good winter.  Warmer air and natural light make it easier to get out of bed.  It’s easier to be happy when you’re not fighting the cold.

I’m training for a 5K for the first time in my life.  It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but there’s nothing like the feeling AFTER a good workout.

Great books this month.  I’m loving my reading life right now.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

Buy now from Amazon

What an incredible book.

It tackles the default method of operating a small business:  pay all expenses first and take profit last.

Michalowicz argues that you when you operate that way, expenses will take all your income.  If you plan to take profit first, and also make a plan to compensate the owners, set aside money for taxes and operate on what’s left, your business becomes much healthier.

Expansions are realistic.  You don’t face cash flow problems.

I think it’s a great way to go.

I want to implement it.

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell

Buy now from Amazon

“Millie is just a girl. But she’s the only one strong enough to break the family cycle.

In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” she struggles to find a place where she really belongs. For answers,

Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key that unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family’s longstanding cycle of madness and abuse. Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free?” (Amazon summary)

A masterfully written book.

I wasn’t expecting thematic elements and just wasn’t prepared for it. Somehow, it took away the enjoyment of the book for me.

I can handle those type of things if I know that’s what I’m getting into.
But, it just isn’t what I wanted right now.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Buy now from Amazon

An older couple move to Alaska to start a new life when their dreams of parenthood are not realized.

A little girl enters their lives under unusual circumstances.

It’s propelled by the mystery of whether the snow child is real or not.

But, it also touches at the deep longing to be parents, that maternal instinct that calls for fulfillment.

That is a story line that people can relate to. Bonus is how to cope when life doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.

I give it 4 and a half stars for traditional values.

Very well-written.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay.

Buy now from Amazon

Fun, fast read.

The story centers around Mary and her friend, Isabel, and their two week trip to England to live out a real life fantasy as Jane Austen characters.

Complicating this vacation is the problems Mary is having at work with her boss, crisis with a big project and navigating a relationship with the good-looking consultant, Nathan.

I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the Austen stories better, but it was enjoyable even knowing some.

Even though you have to suspend belief at times, I still liked it.

It was predictable, but in all the acceptable ways.

Chalk it up as a feel good story.

****************

In other news, I surprised myself when I counted up 55 book reviews written in 2017.  Out of all those books what bubbled to the surface as my top pick?  Read about it here.

What are you reading?

Please follow and like us:

3 Things I’ve Learned, Winter 2017

This has been a good winter.

I’m grateful  because  they haven’t all been good.

I’m grateful for opportunities to learn things that make life better.

Here’s to winter.

Linking up with Emily Freeman sharing what we’ve learned.

Run your own race.

Credit to Jeff Goins for this nugget.

I needed this reminder.

I’ve had a hard time finding my way on this blogging journey.

I’m having trouble finding my voice, my niche, my tribe and my compensation.

My daily appointment with the keyboard is driven by a need to figure things out for me. To make sense of life and come to peace. Because it doesn’t always make sense. You have to evaluate your experience with your beliefs and make adjustments when they don’t line up.

I’m driven by an inner compulsion to find answers for myself. Maybe the answers will help you as well.

Your journey is not the same as anyone else’s.

You have twists and turns that they don’t have.

You have hills to climb that they didn’t deal with.

Granted, they face different obstacles than you, as well.

But, the point of having this mantra echoing in your head is that you avoid the comparison trap and the discouragement that trips you up or sidelines you.

Run your own race.

 

I wrote 55 book reviews in 2017.

I found this surprising because I never stopped to count before.

Writing book reviews has been good for my reading life.

Reading book reviews has been good for my reading life.

I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. You don’t want to waste your time on bad books.

That is why I read book reviews. That is why I write book reviews.

Out of the 55, one rose to the top as my favorite for the year.

Read about my favorite book of 2017.

I need the structure and accountability of the pillars in my week. 

Spontaneous and impulsive is hard for me.  Life tends to throw curve balls.  It helps to have weekly rhythms I can count on.

Writing for Five Minute Friday every week.

Wednesday night Family Night.

Tuesday morning moms’ prayer group.

Sunday morning worship.

It helps immensely to have those planned into my schedule. Without them, it’s easier to get sucked  into the pit of negative emotions.

The daily rhythms help, too.  Pausing for gratitude every day changes my outlook.

Here’s what else is saving my life right now.

What are you learning this winter?

Please follow and like us:

My favorite book of 2017

I wrote 55 book reviews in 2017.

That translates into quite a few hours reading.

I get it.  Your life is busy.  My life is busy.  We want to spend our time reading good books.

That is why I read book reviews.  That is why I write book reviews.

Out of the 55, one rose to the top.

I want more people to know about this book.

I want more people to read this book.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Buy now from Amazon

This is the raw, treacherous journey that Nabeel Qureshi took to find faith in Jesus. The sacrifices he made. The intellectual and emotional and relational barriers that kept him from finding faith in Jesus. And the story of overcoming those barriers.

Why do we need to know Nabeel’s story?

Because no man is an island. His pain is our pain. His victory is our victory. His story is our story.

There are millions of devout Muslims on the planet. If we understand Nabeel’s story, we come closer to understanding them.

There exists a great chasm of beliefs between us, but we share the same humanity. Our desires and dreams are common to the human experience.

To understand the Muslim mindset opens the door to greater compassion, to a better chance of building bridges to individuals who are seeking.

Statistics are one thing.

One person’s story is something else altogether. What difference can one person’s story make?

I can be inspired by their story. I can travel the road with them and return to my own life and take the courage with me. This is the power of story.

We are faced with the same choices Nabeel Qureshi faced.  Are we going to accept what we were taught growing up? Or are we going to search for something else?

We have no say about the situation we were born into. But the time comes when we accept or reject the life we were given. Do we perpetuate the values, attitudes and beliefs we were given or turn from it to something else?

These are the questions that individuals from every devout family faces. These are the issues that we wrestle with. These are the answers that we must find. This is the peace that we must come to.

It might be a life long journey. It might takes years to find that peace. Our foundational beliefs might be shaken to the core.

But, we must search. We must know if the values, attitudes and beliefs that we were handed without our knowledge or consent are truly ours. Every person must choose.

And that is why Nabeel’s journey is everyone’s. Coming of age has nothing on coming to faith.

We need to struggle deeply with these critical issues. We need to come to peace.

Irregardless of the belief system we choose, the struggle is universal. It’s the dragon we all must fight.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Buy now from Amazon

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

What I’m Reading, February 2018

Indiana weather is living up to it’s reputation this winter: unpredictable.

The past twenty-four hours have been foggy as snow from last week melts and evaporates.

I’m grateful to be feeling better physically than other winters, but I’ll be happy to see Spring.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site. )

In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence by Kayla Aimee

Buy now from Amazon

Highly recommended!

Light-hearted stories that highlight deep truths.

I liked the way her faith was real and scripture informed her decisions and changed her life.

I loved her emphasis on grace. I loved her views on traditional values.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

Buy now from Amazon

A doctor running from his past.  An endearing little girl fighting for her life.

Masterfully written.

Traditional values.

Unpredictable.

Just when you thought you had it figured out, you didn’t.

One of the best inspirational fiction I’ve read in years.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Buy now from Amazon

The orphans on the island follow the rules.  There’s a set way of doing things.  How and when they arrive, what they learn, how they live, how they live. Their survival depends on it.

I understand that this is a parable about childhood rather than a literary novel.

For me, it didn’t really accomplish either.

Maybe I’m missing the implications and parallels, but the story didn’t land for me.

A Spiritual Heritage: Connecting Kids and Grandkids to God and Family by Glen and Ellen Schunnecht

Buy now from Amazon

It has been a long time since I read a parenting book.  Even longer since I liked one.

I liked the multi-generational approach in this book.  I liked the stories.  Realistic approaches to the challenges of parenting from a Christian perspective.

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

Buy now from Amazon

I’ve had trouble getting my hands on a copy of this book.

The first book in a trilogy, The Green Ember tells the story of a kingdom of rabbits.

Heather and Picket, brother and sister rabbit, are the main characters.  Lots of intrigue. Lots of action.

I can see boys really liking this book.

********************

It’s been a good month for reading and for my first foray into fiction.  Check it out here.

 

Please follow and like us:

My Favorite Best of 17 Book Lists

For the third year in a row, I’m publishing a round up of top books read in the previous year.

Best selling lists are interesting and fascinating, but aren’t as helpful as a curated list from someone you admire, know or trust.

Modern Mrs Darcy

Beautiful Hope

Sarah from Orthodox Motherhood

Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom

I have not kept up with 800CEORead this year.  I even had some trouble digging up this year’s list. Their short list includes their eight top books of the year in each category.

Sarah from Read Aloud Revival posted her list.

And a list posted on facebook by my friend, Karla, with her commentary.

1. Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok. Ok, this is first because I love Potok, so I guess this one is in particular order. I first read this just after college, long before I knew we would live in Spain. Upon rereading it, I discovered that this book about a young girl growing up in a Jewish community in New York is full of connections to the Spanish Civil War, making it even more meaningful to me this time round. Potok is a treasure.

2. Miss U: Angel of the Underground. Autobiography of an American nurse in the Philippines during World War 2 who helped smuggle goods to men in prison camps. Couldn’t put it down. Contains graphic war violence and torture.

3. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. Story of growing up in American in an Iranian family. Full of cross-cultural humor.

4. Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko. Moving novel set around the Chernobyl disaster about old women and their little town.

5. Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg. Well-written true family story from the states of Georgia and Alabama during the depression years.

6. Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither by Sara Baume. A book about an outcast man who takes in a one-eyed dog. Beautifully written, a bit quirky, and downright sad. I didn’t want it to end.

7. In the Land of Invisible Women by Ahmed Qanta. This fascinating look inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was written by a Muslim woman doctor who grew up in the UK, trained in the US, and spends 2 years practicing medicine in Saudi (pre-9/11). Intriguing.

8. Telling Room by Michael Paterniti. This is the story of a small village in northern Spain and a feud over cheese.

9. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. This spy novel from World War 1 is also a mystery book. It was riveting and based on real women. Be warned, there are some pretty graphic torture scenes.

10. Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. I first saw the miniseries, then went looking for the books. There 11 books in three trilogies (I know, that leaves 2 books – they are brief linkage books that aren’t technically in the trilogies.) I fell down the Galsworthy rabbit hole and read them all. Period literature, family saga, the self-destruction of an obsessed man – I really enjoyed them.

11. Pearls of Great Price by Yazz. This collection of women’s stories of faith was written by a friend of mine. Lovely book. Great to hand to a friend who is searching spiritually. Unfortunately at the moment it seems to be only available on Amazon.co.uk and not Amazon.com, but it has just been released, so hopefully you will all have access to it soon.

Honorable mention:
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The 100-year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Push Not the River is the first of a trilogy of historical novels by James Conroyd Martin. I enjoyed all 3.

Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg is the first in a series of Swedish immigrants to the US. I hope to read the rest of them.

Check out last year’s round up.

And the Best of 15.

What were your favorite books from 2017?

 

Please follow and like us:

What I’m Reading, January 2018

Around here, January means crazy Indiana weather and basketball.

We had a good Christmas with our kids.  Pete got a puppy for Christmas.

The stress of December spills over into January, but good things are on the horizon.

Linking up again with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will support this site.)

Buy now from Amazon

How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs

I had trouble focusing on this book, but I think it’s indicative of stress in my life, not necessarily any fault of the book.

I liked the fact that he comes from the perspective of a Christian and an academic and even addresses biases people tend to have against those two groups.

Chapter one, Beginning to Think, has the subtitle “Why it wouldn’t be a good idea to think for yourself, even if you could.”

My favorite Chapter was The Age of Lumping and the very telling illustration of the author’s experience with Timothy. The point here is that we’re conditioned to categorize people, but sometimes it works against us.

Buy now from Amazon

The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller

I’ve been wanting to read The  One Thing FOREVER. I think I’ve been on my library’s waitlist for over a year.

Now I know what all the rave reviews are about.  This is a GREAT book!

It addresses the problem of distracted focus and the importance of lasering in on your most important work in order to achieve excellence.

A huge light bulb moment for me reading The One Thing was the idea of chaos derailing you and distracting you from your one thing.

Chapter 17, The Four Thieves of Productivity hit me hard.

The Four Thieves are:

1. Inability to Say “No”
2. Fear of Chaos
3. Poor Health Habits
4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals.

Wow. These were so good and right on the money.

Buy now from Amazon

Count to Ten by James Patterson

I picked up Count to Ten at the library because I know James Patterson is a super best selling author and I wanted to study his work.

The story is fast moving.

It has short chapters.

There were quite a few characters with strange names that were hard to keep track of.

That’s one thing that John Grisham does well– starts with only a few characters and adds them slowly.

Interesting plot. It’s a mystery, so the intrigue and unanswered questions moved the story forward.

In my mind, every great novel is a mystery answering the question, 
What happens next?

Another reason I picked up the book is that it is set in India. My parents live in India 8 months out of the year, so I was interested to learn more about life in that country.

Although there were a few tidbits here and there that reminded you of the setting, I didn’t feel like it really explored the culture. I felt like the characters could have been Americans. They didn’t seem to think and act like Indians.

Maybe I was expecting too much.

I just know that it’s possible to live in a country and not really understand the way of thinking of the people around you.

I won’t be picking up another James Patterson soon. Even though language and thematic elements colored only a small percentage of the book, it’s enough to put me off further reading.

Buy now from Amazon

In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence by Kayla Aimee

Highly recommended!

Light-hearted stories that highlight deep truths.  Her daughter is a hoot and she’s got some pretty funny stories herself.

I liked the way scripture informed her decisions and changed her life.

I loved her emphasis on grace. I loved her views on traditional values.

I started following Kayla Aimee’s work after I took her Affiliate course as part of The Genius Bloggers Toolkit. Her course was packed with so much helpful information. I knew when she offered something it was going to be high value.

When I had the chance to be part of the launch team for the book, I jumped at it.

In Bloom is about overcoming insecurity and Kayla tells personal experiences.

 

I will definitely be hand-selling this one at the store.

What are you reading this month?

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Books for Intro to Missions Students

Book List for Intro to World Missions 

When Pete taught Intro to World Missions, I made a book list of recommended books for his class.  Most of these are life long favorites that I recommend repeatedly.

Missionary Biographies

Brucko by Bruce Olson

Nineteen year old Bruce Olson lives with a stone age tribe to bring them the gospel.

Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees by Thomas Hale

Medical missionaries in Nepal. Humorous, well-written stories about culture and personal growth.

On the Far Side of Liglig Mountatin by Thomas Hale

More stories of medical missions in Nepal.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott

Five missionaries were martyred in Ecuador while trying to reach a savage tribe.  Written by the widow of one of the martyrs.

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliott

The story of Amy Carmichal, missionary to India who rescued girls from the atrocities of the Hinduism.

And the Word Came with Power by Joann Shetler

Wycliffe Bible Translator in the Philippines explains about culture and spiritual lessons.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

One man’s experiences getting God’s Word into Communist Russia.

Other Biographies

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

A Christian family in Holland hides Jews from the Nazis.  Stories of imprisonment and forgiveness.

Joni by Joni Eareckson

A diving accident at age 17 leaves Joni a quadriplegic.  Her spiritual journey.

The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway

A Christian pastor in China sees God work miracles in the midst of harsh persecution.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Quereshi

Nabeel’s spiritual journey growing up in a devout Muslim home and confronting the realities of Chrisitanity.

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

A transparent look at the culture of poverty how a single mom paved a way out for her two sons.

Other Helpful Books

5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The five top reasons why teams don’t work and what to do about them.

Reading Personality by Anne Bogel

Short summaries of some popular personality frameworks and how understanding yourself makes life better.

On Being a Missionary by Thomas Hale

Transparent, practical explanation of what missionaries face and common obstacles to overcome.

Margin by Richard Swenson

The importance of not using all your resources and leaving yourself bankrupt.  Includes money, time, emotional and other resources.

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches

What men and women need from their spouses.  Foundational understanding for building a strong marriage.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The five main ways people express love and how to understand which way communicates best to individuals.

Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel

Common pitfalls that leaders fall into.  Helpful as a cautionary tale.

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet

Healthy, effective leadership principles learned and practiced by a sub commander.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Timeless principles for living life well with yourself and others.

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brent Harris

Aimed at teenagers as a challenge to confront the status quo and impact the world by taking the high road.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider

Tsh and her husband took their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

A challenge to live gratefully by systematically noting what you’re thankful for. Written in poetic style.

Please follow and like us:

What I’m Reading, December 2017

One year ago today we were in California for our daughter’s college graduation.

This year is more typical: snow, basketball, busy at the store, getting ready for Christmas. Our out of state college kid is home for Christmas.  That makes mama happy.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

On to this month’s books–

Buy now from Amazon

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I’m tempted to go back and re-read this book now that I know the ending.

The plot was slow moving until all the pieces starting falling into place and it made sense.

From goodreads–

“Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal. Miranda is an ordinary sixth grader, until she starts receiving mysterious messages from somebody who knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. For ages approx 9-14.”

Buy now from Amazon

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A Chinese boy and Japanese girl are assigned to kitchen duty at their all white public school.  This is the forties and anti-Japanese sentiment is high.  Their friendship transcends prejudice.

Sweet story that takes an inside look at Asian cultures functioning in the U.S.

I liked it, even though the story was slow moving and a little predictable.

Five stars for being wholesome.  Recommended for all ages.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo tells the stories of four different children growing up in four different times and places.

They all have a love for music.

To be perfectly frank, I was underwhelmed by this book. It just left me feeling kind of flat. I could see the common thread woven throughout so it felt predictable.

None of the sequences were long enough to really identify with the characters, so it was more about plot than characters.

It’s a long book, but not necessarily a long read.

Buy now from Amazon

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

A fascinating read.

I don’t agree with everything as I have some different philosophies of life than the author does.

The books focuses on how people sabotage their own success when they hit the upper limit of what they believe they deserve in life.  There might be something to that.

I also think he’s on to something with the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence and the zone of genius.

Good mental fodder.

Buy now from Amazon

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Staner

Michael outlines seven simple questions to use while coaching.

His context is managers coaching their employees, but I think the principles are transferable to other situations.

His emphasis is on listening better, giving less advice and helping people solve their own problems.

Though simple, the questions are profound.  They build on each other and are designed to get to the heart of the matter in a short amount of time.

Insightful.  Actionable.

What are you reading this month?

Please follow and like us:

Breaking Free From the Poverty Culture: Four True Stories

I started this post thinking I had found four books that painted a realistic picture of the poverty culture.

What I didn’t realize was how much they have in common.

They are all overcomer stories.

They are all about boys who grew up with single mothers.

They outline a path of what it takes to beat the odds.

They are also well-written.

These stories stand out because they are unusual. Most boys in similar circumstances are not able to break the poverty cycle in their lives.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchases goes to support this site.)

Buy now from Amazon

Hillbilly Elegy is masterfully written.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduate from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

Buy now from Amazon

Ben Carson and his brother grew up in a single parent home in Detroit.

Ben credits his mother for the impact on his life that resulted in all of them breaking out of the poverty culture.

She valued education, discipline, the importance of reading and making wise decisions in the use of her resources.

In turn, Ben came to see poverty as a temporary state.  He could see the way out.  He developed a vision for his life.  He eventually attained some of life’s greatest successes as a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Buy now from Amazon

An inspiring story, well told.

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” This is another book that makes me philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate? Now that is a good question that I’ve been wrestling with a lot.  Who’s in control of my life, me or God?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing he latched onto when he saw a healthy family in action was the idea of everyone sitting down at a dining room table to eat together, to talk and share life.  That was missing in his home.  It just goes to prove that building a culture—even a family culture— has to do with what you value and believe, not about money.

Everything was not idyllic in Laura and Maurice’s relationship for the next thirty years.  This is real life and when is life always smooth sailing?

  

Buy now from Amazon

Note: Heads up for language.

I didn’t really understand apartheid until I read this book.

Seeing how it played out in people’s lives is sobering.

Trevor Noah has a white father and a black mother.  In South Africa, it was illegal for his father and mother to procreate.  His very existance was against the law, hence the title, Born a Crime.

It’s mind-blowing to think about the world and the life that Trevor Noah was born into. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for those who have a vote in their government’s laws and leaders.

I liked Noah’s personal and relatable writing style as well as the occasional political commentary.

**********

Four boys growing up in poverty with single mothers. What did it take for them to break free?
Self-awareness? A caring adult? Purpose in life? A belief that things could be different?

I see four common factors.

  1. The involvement of a caring adult. In some cases it was their mother, sometimes it was someone else.

2.   The importance of staying in school and finishing.

3.  The belief that things could be different.

4.  A vision for their lives.

Please follow and like us: