Summer Reading

{source}

Laying out by a pool with a book

{not necessarily a good one},

is my favorite way to relax during the summer.

Luckily, this summer, I have some really good books set aside for those spare solitary moments I can sneak in between trips to the park and the grocery store.

I haven’t done any book reviews in a long time, so I figured now is as good a time as any to update you all on what I’ve got stacked up on my bedside table…

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Yesterday I finished the latest book by Mary DeMuth: The Muir House. This was one of those books I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning to finish; I needed to know how it all turned out. Set in Rockwall, Texas, Mary tells the tale of a young woman searching for the missing pieces to her past, and explores how our search for truth doesn’t always yield the results we anticipate. What I enjoyed about the book was Mary’s ability to share spiritual truths while still maintaining a great story. I was slightly distracted by what I saw as product placement ads {which I’m not sure she got paid for, but felt unnecessary}, but obviously I was too caught up in what was unfolding to let it distract me for long.

::

Recently I went out to dinner with my best friend from high school, and was ecstatic at her suggestion that we check out the local used book store after our meal. There’s something about the smell of old books that assures me we will never completely be able to let go of print publications; although I do love my Kindle. As we explored the stacks, shadowed by one of the shop’s two cats, we decided to have our own little book club. After briefly considering the Notebook {joke}, we decided on Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged. This book has been on my “must read” list since I worked at Borders in 2000, and she had purchased a copy last summer without yet reading it. I’m really looking forward to not only crossing off a book on my “to read” list, but also that I’m reading it with a friend!

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Speaking of my Kindle, I was recently able to download Jon Acuff’s books “Quitter” and “Stuff Christians Like.” SCL was on one of those random sales that Amazon.com frequently does, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about Quitter. I always enjoy Jon Acuff’s blogs {both SCL, and his writing blog}, and so I’m eager to jump into these books. I’m going to have to stick my Kindle in my purse for park trips.

What books are you reading this summer?

Share your own reading list here, or over on my Facebook page!

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Book Review: My Princess Bible

Recently I was sent a book to review by Tyndale House Publishing. I requested it because it was entitled, “My Princess Bible.”

As you know, I have a “princess” in my house, and I figured this would be a great way to funnel that obsession with glamour and beauty into a more solid foundation of character and faith in God.

This was not the book to do that.

“My Princess Bible” by Andy Holmes is a good intention gone wrong. The “biblical” accounts found within it in no way align with what the Bible actually teaches about these “princesses”. Additionally, the message focuses on the women in the story, and not on what God is doing.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I can’t in good conscious recommend that anyone with a young girl in their life purchase it. It was a good try, with poor results.

Chazown {A Book Review}

In my early 20s, I spent a lot of time taking personality tests in an attempt to discover who I am and what my purpose is. Trolling through a list of 100 questions, which really was just the same 20 questions asked five different ways, I hoped to find a flashing, neon sign at the end telling me what to do.

This never happened.

In fact, much like my recent situation with my iPhone, God challenged me that I was putting something before Him. I was looking to the wisdom of the world and formulas to tell me who I was. He wanted me to turn to Him for that answer.

I’m thirty now, and much wiser {snort}.

I have learned that regardless of what I see as the logical answer, God likes to choose His own way and not be forced into my formulas and pathways. As much as I would like to be able to quickly and simply discover my vision and purpose, with me and God it’s more of a step-by-step leading.

::

Craig Groeschel, the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, wrote a book, Chazown.

Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE) from the Hebrew, meaning a dream, revelation, or vision. – Groeschel

The book promises to help you “define your vision, pursue your passion, live your life on purpose.” Sounds really cool, huh?!

I was definitely intrigued.

And it’s an interesting book! Groeschel’s energy is apparent, even in the black and white print pages of a book. He’s a go-getter, a visionary, a mover-and-shaker.

He also says some crazy things…

There were moments that reminded me of being in a church service and someone let the crazy old associate pastor have the mike for announcements. You had no idea what was going to come out of his mouth, but you knew it would be inappropriate and unexpected!

Numerous times I would stop reading, mid-sentence, and shake my head wondering if he had really just said what I thought he had. For instance, at one point Groeschel is telling a story about a bird that gets its wings frozen during a snowstorm, falls to the ground, gets dumped on (literally) by a cow, and then is pulled out of the manure by a cat, only to get eaten by the cat. Um…ok.

His point was: “1) Not everyone who drops manure on you is your enemy; 2) Not everyone who digs you out of manure is your friend.” (p 58)

::

I’m still trying to decide if I liked this book or not.

{I liked}

  • The easy writing style.
  • Groeschel provides definite steps, check points and instructions after each section to walk you through the process of discovering your Chazown.
  • The website that they built to accompany the book, filled with tools and videos to help you.

{I disliked}

  • The oversimplification of things. Life is not as black & white as the examples seemed to make out.
  • I felt like this book was yet another of those in a long line of leadership/self-help books that rely on core values, spiritual gifts and past experience to foresee your future. I frequently felt like God’s plan was not sought directly. I guess my problem is that you could have taken the Christian aspect out and had pretty much the same book.
  • If I believed that Groeschel’s directions really revealed my purpose, I would now be discontent as a stay-at-home mom. This is where God has me, this is my current vision, purpose and passion. It’s not my only one, but for now this is where I am called to be.

After all’s said and done, I would recommend this book as a good jumping-off point; not a place to land.

I’m looking for some good books to read through the next year.

What are you reading right now, or want to read?

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

After reading Mad Church Disease earlier this year I eagerly anticipated Anne Jackson’s latest book, Permission to Speak Freely.

Once again, Jackson is tackling a topic within the church today that’s not getting much coverage. This time instead of showing how the church asks too much, she’s pointing out that it doesn’t ask enough.

In May of 2008, Jackson asked the readers at Flowerdust.net,

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”

She then complied some of the hundreds of responses she received into a beautifully broken piece of literature. As you turn the pages of the book you’re met with one confession after another.

The purpose of this book is simple: to share the confessions I’ve received from the website or through the mail, as well as stories from my own life and experience, to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets.

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Growing up I never thought about the eccentricities that made my family unique. My assumption was that all families pretty much ran the way mine did. It wasn’t until I started dating Josh that I began to see that not every family is the same. There are different ways of doing things.

I grew up in the church. Here too, I never really questioned much. The topics of sex, depression, pornography, divorce, and doubts with God were not appropriate topics for sermons. Maybe once a year one of these topics would come up, but as with the annual tithe sermon the pastor tried to get through it as quickly, and apologetically, as possible.

In the last few years I’ve begun to recognize the importance of getting these struggles out into the open. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

We need to begin to bring these unfruitful deeds into the light to help people come out of the darkness to realize they’re not alone.

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Anne Jackson isn’t looking to provide a self-help book that tells you how to start talking about these topics. She’s just talking about them herself…and she’s providing a place for others to start their own discussion.

I loved that she didn’t wrap it up neatly in the end.

She leaves you hanging, she leaves you responsible.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and right in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set other on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.

Not me. Not this book.

Not the church, whether you go to one or not.

Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.

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This book touched on a topic that is close to my heart and I loved Anne Jackson’s handling of the topic. My copy is all marked up, but I want to give one away.

So, I’m going to buy one for one of my readers.

I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I feel like this book has a lot to say on an important topic.

I’m not doing this to grow readership and I’m not guilting you into it by making you sign up for my blog or follow me on Twitter. You can if you want, but it won’t gain you more entries.

Just leave a comment below by midnight PST Thursday 9/9 stating that you’d like the book and I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on Friday’s blog post.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”