Category Archives: Bible

10 Books….

In response to a prompt via Facebook: ten books that have stuck with me over the years, either due to emotional impact, practical application, or both.

1. The Bible
Wait! This isn’t just a filler answer. I wasn’t raised in church, and when I became a Christian late in my teens I immediately read the bible cover to cover as a basis for my decisions and beliefs. Then I rebuked the church I had heard about Christianity from in the first place for being completely off the mark from Biblical teaching. The only people I hit over the head with this book are other Christians, and it usually involves a strongly worded letter and adjectives like Pharisaical. I include it here not for evangelistic or any other purposes but because I do consider it a valuable, active guide in my life.

2. Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
I almost never re-read books, but I revisit this one regularly.  It’s a guide for how to relate to others- friends, family, coworkers, anyone- in a healthy, wise, and appropriate manner.

3. Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
Whenever I recommend this book to counseling clients, I begin by asking them to excuse the pop-psychology-sounding title, so I’ll ask y’all to do the same.  This book is a MUST read for anyone whose life has been affected by another person’s addiction, dependence, or codependent tendencies.

4. Pride and Prejudice*
I read this in my early twenties, and I identified so closely with Elizabeth Bennett’s stubborn independence that I followed right along with her emotional maturation on the subject of marriage throughout the book. For years before reading it I was skeptical about marriage and maybe even opposed to the idea, but I got married within a year of reading this book.

5. Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
I would be embarrassed if time spent reading 11,916 pages didn’t make a lasting impact on me. I am in awe of what Jordan created. It makes me conscious of how greatly I underestimate others when I realize some stranger I see in the grocery store could possess the potential to create a dizzyingly intricate world and character set and also have the talent to communicate it so skillfully.  (What did people assume about Jordan when they crossed paths with him in the grocery store?)

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
I loved all of L’Engle’s fiction books as a kid.  I identified with the wonder of learning and discovering the unknown, and the isolation and risk inherent in adventure seeking.

7. Girls Just Want to Have Funds by Susannah Goodman
This classic tome….wait, no.  Well this book impacted my life because it was marketed to and written for young women, and it motivated me to begin retirement planning and investing in my late teens.  That early start is invaluable. But- I don’t necessarily *recommend* this book for everyone’s personal finance needs. It’s outdated now economically and the title is done in hot pink and purple block letters. But it was the right book at the right time for me 10+ years ago.

8. Sophie’s World by Gaarder
A philosophy text book presented as an intriguing novel. Very sneaky.  I loved this in high school.

9. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Weschler
I only read this a few years ago, and I was astounded that I didn’t know this information already. I’d recommend this book to any woman whether you want kids, or don’t want them, or just for the sake of understanding the basics about your health and well-being.

10. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth
This helped me understand my children’s sleep more fully, optimize their chance for napping and sleeping well, and to address problems when they arose.  The kids sleeping well is a HUGE component of our maintaining a low(er) stress, healthy home.

Honorable Mention
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne
Walden by Thoreau
Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldridge
Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

*Anyone know where my copy of Pride and Prejudice went?  I used Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters as a stand-in for the picture.  And the last two on the list I don’t have a physical copy of.


Readathon: "The Excellent Wife"

This is the one bad review of the readathon, and it is the main reason why I left the women’s ministry group recently. I actually delayed joining this group for six months until I thought this particular study was over because critical reviews online described problems with the book that were big concerns for me. But when I joined the women’s group I learned that they actually had five more weeks of study on the book, and so I opted to go along and take a serious look at the material.

The book cover purports that, “Within its pages is a detailed portrait of a godly wife. Not only is the standard high and holy, but Martha demonstrates that by God’s grace, it is attainable.” Some of the book is biblical, maybe even most of it. But the author throws her own opinion in the book at times and twists a narrowly related Bible verse around it like a barb, presenting it as God’s standard. This occurs most clearly in her chapter “Home- The Wife’s Domain,” in which the author states that God intended for women to stay home rather than working or committing much time to any outside activities. She doesn’t list any possible “godly” reasons why a woman would seek work outside of the home. Rather, she lists several possible reasons, such as escaping the demands of parenting or wanting recognition, and then says of these lone skewed examples, “none of these motives are for the glory of God,” and they are “self-serving and sinful.” She states that women should learn to be content with what they have, at home. And even in the case of women who need to work because of family debt, she states that the woman should “work towards quitting her job and staying at home.”

This author is clearly of the opinion that a woman’s place is in the home. That’s fine. But she does not present it as her opinion, she presents it as God’s command. She states this based on the fact that a Greek word for females in Titus translates to “worker at home.” But it is a giant logical leap to then claim that the phrase “worker at home” is intended to describe the whole, entire schedule of each and every woman. The text doesn’t support such a leap. And there are many examples of Christian women who fulfill purposes outside of the home into which God appears to have called them and blessed them. Oddly, the joy-filled woman who leads the women’s ministry that was studying this book is one. And the author of this book herself, *is clearly an author.* I truly wonder what criteria the author feels distinguishes her own career from those at whom she casts stones. Perhaps she feels her profession is justified because it is less than full time? Or she doesn’t get paid hourly or salary? Or because it’s Christian ministry? Or because she can physically be in her home while she writes? I don’t know, but it’s ridiculous.

The reason why the quality of women’s ministry is so important to me is that women seek trusted guidance from the church and from God particularly when they are burdened in some way. And hopefully those two sources say the same thing. When they don’t, and a ministry adds extra stuff, extra judgement, and extra requirements into the equation like the Pharisees did, it actually further burdens the women instead of helping. Then the woman has to sort out all of the extra stuff while also still listening for God. And in the meantime before it’s sorted out, the “extra” stuff is burdensome and misleading. I kept wondering if there may be women in the group sensing a spark inside them of a beautiful calling outside of the home from God, but the spark was quenched with the “a woman’s place is in the home,” speech. It is saddening that in one way or another- legalism or conformity or shallowness- I’ve often seen women’s ministry seem to stifle growth in women rather than foster it.

The Great Readathon

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately as part of my seeking-direction process as well as my stay-off-my-smartphone initiative.  As I mentioned before, Greg and I decided to read through the Bible this year cover to cover, which is a “canonical” reading plan.  We have been really good about reading each day, and we have great conversations about what we read.  And I’m surprised that we are already 25% done, according to our YouVersion Bible app.  That’s because the year is 25% done.  Getting older is truly strange, wonderful, and alarming.  I remember when a year seemed to take….like a year to be over with.  Now years sneakily fly by while I’m busy doing other things.  Like reading.

I’ve read several books recently that I’d like to share in upcoming posts- most good and one really, really terrible.  The Bible is one of the good ones.  For a pretty good summary of the first 25% of the book, see the first two episodes of the new History Channel series the Bible.  My favorite angel, Roma Downey (from Touched By An Angel) and her husband are involved in the production of this series, which has been great so far.

Let the read-a-thon begin!