December 27, 2017

10 Great Reads of 2017

I was able to complete most of my goals from this past reading year.

My first goal was to read 50 books, and I was able to surpass that to 66 books.

Secondly, I wanted to finish up a couple books from a reading challenge I did in 2016 and I was able to get to them both. They also both made it onto my favorites here of 2017! (Holiness by J.C. Ryle  and God's Love by R.C. Sproul)

Thirdly, I wanted to do a little re-reading. Something I don't normally do. I was able to get to three of the six I had mentioned... 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, which I loved even more the second time around. 'The Last Sinner Eater' by Francine Rivers which I listened to on audio and really enjoyed once again, and 'If' by Amy Carmichael, which was just as convicting as the first time I read it, such a beautiful little book.

Fourthly, I wanted to read some classics. I am happy to have been able to read 13 classics! I quite enjoyed most of them.

Fifthly, I wanted to read at least one biography, one history book and one memoir this year. I had no problem fulfilling this challenge, because I love these kinds of books.

And lastly, I read from my Bible and was excited to grasp truths I didn't understand before. That's one of the great things about re-reading your Bible, God always brings greater understanding, when you seek Him through His Word.

"My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,

So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding"  Proverbs 2:1-6

Now onto my favorite reads of 2017! ...

Holiness by J.C. Ryle - This was a very deep and gratifying read. As I grow older, I see that the Christian life has nothing to do with the external things of life such as health, wealth or prosperity. Though I'm thankful for all He has given me, the true Christian life is about holiness.

This book reminded me of this, that we are to be holy, as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:16) And that we are to be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we can know God's will, which is good, pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2) These things show our true Christianity.

You can read my thoughts on this book... HERE

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - This was the first time I'd read Anne of Green Gables and I loved it so much! Such a sweet and beautiful story. L.M. Montgomery makes you fall in love with this little orphan girl who has so much to give and makes you want to go outside and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Truly a classic.

Between Shades of Grey by Ruth Sepetys - This was a YA novel set during WW2 in Lithuania, where a young girl, her mother and brother are separated from their father and taken by the Soviets to a work camp in Siberia. 

It was extremely moving and well written. 

This book brought the characters to life and makes you feel for them with compassion and understanding. It is now in the process of being made into a movie, which will be called 'Ashes in the Snow.'

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens - This book really stayed with me after I turned the last page. Though, for me, David Copperfield wasn't the most interesting character in the novel, Dickens wrote many others that were. These three were my favorites, Mrs. Peggotty, her brother Mr. Peggotty and Agnes Wickfield.

Especially Mr. Peggotty, who under his rough exterior we find a loving and caring man who reflects the character of Christ as he shows grace towards others. There's just nothing better than a gracious character in a book.

Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung -  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The importance of Scripture is being belittled more and more these days and it was refreshing to read a book from someone who honors God's Word, it's beauty, authority and inerrancy.

You can read my thoughts... HERE

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park - This memoir was extremely moving. Told by a young girl who escaped North Korea with her mother and sister, she shares what they experienced.

You can see her speak... HERE

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

You can read my thoughts... HERE

God's Love by R. C. Sproul - I was so saddened to hear of R.C. Sproul's passing. His books have been an encouragement to me and have helped me grow in my faith. This one really showed me how extraordinary God's love really is.

You can read my thoughts... HERE

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel - This book was so interesting. Michael Finkel interviews Christopher Knight, who is known as the 'Hermit of North Pond', a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years.

I've heard some call him an extreme introvert, but as a introvert myself I have to disagree. Introverts enjoy spending time alone, but they also love spending time with family and friends. As someone who wanted no interaction with any other person, Christopher Knight is beyond being introverted, he is a hermit. Two completely different things.

I found this story fascinating and even though I couldn't relate to him, I felt for him and how misunderstood he must be.

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller - I was surprised at how much I loved this book. I just read it here in December and was reminded of why the Christmas story never gets old. It's because it's really not a story at all. The birth of Christ was an historical event that changed my life and the lives of many others. An event that will effect eternity.

Born in a manger, the Light in this darkened world.

Death on a cross, risen from the dead. His love is gracious and sacrificial.

He is the greatest gift ever given.

Hope you all had a wonderful and enjoyable Christmas and have a happy and blessed new year in 2018!

December 9, 2017

Christmas Books in December

I'm reading several Christmas books this month and really enjoying them. They are all quick reads, under 200 pages in length. It's always fun to read Christmas books during December, they bring that nostalgic feel back into our lives, as well as reminding us of why we celebrate Christmas.

                                                            Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

This book is putting me in the true Christmas spirit. It's funny how we think we know enough about God and about the Christmas story, when in fact there is so much more to know about Him. And I love that He continually shows us more of Himself through His Word each time we open and read it.

Each Christmas is a reminder of the gospel message. A Savior has been born!

Timothy Keller says here:

"The Bible..speaks of this: 'I have hidden your word in my heart' (Psalm 119:11). Taking the message into my heart means not just to interpret it but to let it affect me deeply. It means, in a sense, preaching to myself, reminding myself of the preciousness, the value, the wonder, and the power of the particular truth I am treasuring. 

It is to ask myself questions: 'How would my life be different if I really believed this from the bottom of my heart? How would it change my thinking, feelings, actions? How would it change my relationships? How would it change my prayer life, my feelings and attitude toward God?"

When we hide His Word in our hearts He reveals more of His love, His grace, His compassion, His faithfulness, His peace, His joy. This book shares some of these truths about God and points us back to His Word. I love it when books do that.

About the Book: "This book takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of the nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way."

                                                           The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read

This book is so cozy and Christmasy! It's set in an little town in England, in the early 1970's. The story includes two little girls who are 5 and 7, born in 1966 and 1968, who live with their mother and grandmother, Mrs. Berry.

I love how this author brings out all the beauty and excitement of Christmas. This tugged on my heartstrings and brought back memories of Christmas's past as a child. I was born in 1968 and my little sister in 1970 and I remember how exciting Christmas was for us. You never really forget this feeling, it so special.

About the Book: "Mrs. Berry is frightened by a mouse and goes downstairs to sit-out the stormy Christmas Eve. While cozily by the loungeroom fire, she is disturbed yet again. This time the intruder proves to be a young run-away boy."

                                                                           The Expected One

This is a 25-day advent devotional written with young families in mind. Each devotional has a passage of scripture from the Old Testament pointing to Christ, as well as a very short devotional. The following page is several questions and thoughts to ponder as a family.

I'm really enjoying the reflections each devotional brings and believe it can be read by anyone for encouragement.

In the introduction it says:

"The Old Testament passages laid out here are meant to guide you through the wide range of promises God gave us regarding His Son... all of them point to Jesus, collectively unfolding the promises of His long-awaited coming, His marvelous birth, His blameless life, His agonizing death, his glorious resurrection, and His reign as the eternal king of all."

About the Book: "Through this devotional, Scott James brings to light the many promises of Christ from birth to ascension that demonstrate His love for us during this Christmas season. These daily devotions, which are designed for both family and individual use, are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas."

                                                              The Shoe Box by Francine Rivers


I've loved so many books written by Francine Rivers. I'm just getting into this one and enjoying it so far.

Sprinkled throughout the story are recipes and short reflections on her own families Christmas's, which I'm finding, brings a richness to this reading experience, as well as making me want to do some Christmas baking!

About the Book: "In this beautiful gift book, Francine Rivers tells a poignant Christmas story about a foster child, Timmy, and his very special shoe box. Includes special notes from the author about the story and her family’s Christmas traditions and recipes."

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