What I’m reading this summer (part 2)

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Have I mentioned that I love to read???

And now, on to part 2 of What I’m reading this summer

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott  (1994)

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Bird by Bird (Some instructions on Writing and Life) is my first book by Anne Lamott, but it won’t be my last.  Other writers have mentioned her in their blogs, so I finally picked this up.  As a writer wannabe, I am always looking for good books on how to be a writer.  Turns out, even with a little talent, you still have to sit down and write (who knew??).  I am only 1/4 of the way through this book, but I have laughed and nodded  my head and thought Oh yeah many times.

In the long introduction (but one you won’t want to skip) Lamott writes, “Later that summer…I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time and knew what it as like to have someone speak for me, to close a book with a sense of both triumph and relief, one lonely isolated social animal finally making contact.”  Although Catcher in the Rye did not speak for me (maybe I should have read it as a teenager!!), there have been other books, poems, authors who have spoken for me, words that I did not know how to say myself.  I would love to be that writer for someone else some day, to put into words exactly what they are feeling but don’t know how to say.  And maybe this blog is the beginning of that .??.

In the meantime, Lamott is writing what I don’t know how to say, and I’m loving every page.  Her practical advice on writing and on life are just what I need right now.  This is one of those books that will be marked up and read many times.

Everything by Mary DeMuth (2012)

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Everything — what you give and what you gain to become like Jesus.  This has been my heart’s cry this summer…to become more like Jesus.  I want to know his heart, to hear his voice, to soak in his presence, to see others through his eyes, to hunger and thirst after his righteousness.  As scary as it is, I want him to have everything.  And because it’s scary, I haven’t started reading this book yet.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Made to Crave Devotional by Lysa Terkeurst (2011)

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I read the book Made to Crave earlier this year and was very challenged by it.  One of my greatest weaknesses is filling my empty spaces with food instead of with Jesus.  I crave food more than I crave communion with God, and it shows in many areas of  my life (physically and spiritually).  I am not legalistic about food and I enjoy all types of food and drinks.  However, I don’t like that food has control over me.  It’s like I can’t stop myself.  And that’s where this devotional comes in.

My original plan was to make this my summer devotional.  60 days would be perfect.  But even thinking about starting it made me grumpy.  I don’t want to deny myself of food, ever.  Even so, my greater desire is to crave Jesus above all else: above food, relationships, books, facebook, Doctor Who, sleep, friends, family (you get the picture).  So I finally started the devotional and it has been quite a breakthrough.  It is not a diet.  The concept is that we are made to crave a relationship with God.  “God made us to crave so we’d always desire more of him” (page 38).  Unfortunately, we fill that craving with things that are not healthy for us.  Through scripture and wise words, Terkeurst reminds me of God’s faithfulness in meeting all my needs, but I have to turn to him and not food.

I try to think of food as nourishment instead of recreation.  I am changing habits slowly.  Instead of a steady stream of ice cream cones, I might have a peach or a cup of coffee.  Sometimes when I am craving food (and I know I’m not hungry or need nourishment) I pray and tell God that I WANT to crave him more than anything.  And many times the food craving goes away.  Honestly, my weight and waistline have not changed, but I’m not grumpy about food and I have much more peace.  I would love to lose some weight, but I remind myself that this is more about craving a relationship with my Savior and Redeemer and less about my physical appearance.

Because my biggest eating challenges happen after 3:00 pm, I usually read this devotional in the afternoon or evening.  The timing has really helped.  I am currently on Day 24.  Every day is a challenge and brings hope.

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My screened in side porch: my favorite place to read. 

Where do YOU like to read?

I have read (and am reading) more books this summer, so I guess there will be a Part 3 coming up soon!!

Same bat time!  Same bat channel!

What I’m reading this summer (part 1)

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One of the things that I look forward to most about my summers is the opportunity to READ!  So I  thought I’d share some of the  books that I’ve read or am currently working on.

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In no particular order:

Divergent by Veronica Roth (novel) 2011

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As a high school English teacher, I occasionally like to read a YA (Young Adult) book that is popular with my students (or will be soon).  I just picked this book up a few days ago and am already intrigued.  It’s set in the future where all people are placed in separate societies based on a type of aptitude test at age 16.  The main character, Beatrice, doesn’t fit into any of the molds and is given the label “Divergent.”  She gets to pick the society that will be her family the rest of her life.  As the front cover says, “One choice can transform you,” and isn’t that the truth???

It’s amazing what one choice can do for us, and it’s no different for Beatrice.  I’m on chapter 11 (of 39) and she is already questioning her decision.  I’m looking forward to reading more!

Wishing on Dandelions by Mary Demuth (novel) 2006

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Wishing on Dandelions is the follow up novel to Watching the Tree Limbs.  It’s the story of a girl in Texas who lives through sexual abuse, but more than that, it is a story about the redemptive power of Jesus.  The story is gripping and painful and poignant.  I loved getting to know the characters, and watching the main character, Maranatha, begin as a scared girl and turn into a young woman who learns how to let Jesus deal with her hurts and fears.

A challenging quote from the book on dealing with losses in life:  “The way you’ll know if you’re a-growing [in Jesus] is if you learn to shake hands with the taking-away stuff, welcoming it as a way to be more like Jesus.” (page 95)

DeMuth is a good writer, and I enjoyed the two-book series.  She has other novels, as well (but have not yet read).

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth (memoir) 2010

(Can you tell that I’m on a Mary DeMuth kick??)

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Memoirs are my FAVORITE genre, and Thin Places ranks at the top of all memoirs that I  have read.  BTW, I ran across Mary DeMuth’s blog a while back but didn’t pick up her books until this summer.  DeMuth’s memoir is raw and vulnerable because much of the book is not just about her past but about her present.  Turns out, the two novels I read by her were autobiographical, so it was interesting to read the memoir and novels simultaneously.

DeMuth writes, “The Celts define a thin place as a place where heaven and the physical world collide, one of those serendipitous territories where eternity and the mundane meet” (page 11).  DeMuth discovered that the thin places in her life happened at the most difficult times and in her greatest weaknesses when she allowed God to walk in and take over.

The memoir is full of grace, truth, pain, healing, and redemption.  I was gripped by her honesty and wondered if I could ever be that honest with anyone about the depths of my depravity.  I savored every page, seeing myself in her pain and vulnerability, thanking God for this woman who made me think through the thin places in my own life.

One chapter is about Envy.  DeMuth admits her own struggle with envy but writes, “The only way to turn around envy is to offer gratitude for what you have –to give thanks for what God has done in you and for you.  My friend Hud says gratitude is perhaps the greatest indicator of where we are with Jesus.  The more gratitude, the close we are to the whispers of Jesus” (page 52).  I have found that to be so true.  The more gratitude I offer, the closer I am to Jesus.  And I really want to hear his whisper (there is really nothing like it).

So far this summer, Thin Places has had the greatest impact on me.  Let me know what you think about it if you get a chance to read it.

Tune in next time for “What I’m reading this summer (part 2)”!!