Thoughts on Reading

There is no doubt that I love to read. Books have been my good friends all my life. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve going to the local library in Monte Vista Colorado, my hometown, and heading home with all the books I could carry. Some of my husband’s grumpiest memories probably include loading and moving my boxes and boxes of books over the years as we’ve gone from Colorado to Alaska to Washington and on from there.

I have spent the last month reading instead of blogging. Whenever I feel stressed, I find that turning to a good book (or 10) helps. Of course, there is one Book that absolutely changes my life and renews my mind and that is the Bible. Every day, the Bible is the one trustworthy place to find truth and wisdom.

As I read other books, I find it necessary to always be comparing the truth of the Bible with what the author is communicating in whatever I’m reading, whether it’s a relaxing work of fiction, or a book about history, life, science and ideas. It is so important to learn to read well, with discernment, fully engaged in the book but also completely seeking to compare the truth of God’s Word with what the author is saying.

So here are some thoughts on a few of the books I’ve read this month.

The More of Less by Joshua Becker: I really did enjoy this book about “Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own”. The author has great ideas about minimalism and getting from clutter to clear. He offers assignments to help you begin the process and directions to keep moving forward.  It seems that, as a Christian, Becker is trying to take seriously Jesus statement in Luke 12:15 NASB: “Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not [even] when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” His main premise is that, in fact, too much stuff gets in the way of a life well lived.

But here is where the discernment comes in- Becker comments that he believes that Jesus was trying to tell the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 that all his possessions were keeping him from becoming all that he was intended to become.  This smacks of the current fad that says we must all find our passion and potential in life in order to live life to the fullest. What I believe Jesus was teaching here is that when we put anything ahead of Him, be it possessions, jobs, passions, books, or really anything,  that is idolatry and there is no place in the life of a follower of Christ for idolatry. Yes, we are drawn to worship many things instead of the one true God, and we must repent of that idolatry. Discernment, according to Spurgeon, is the ability to distinguish between truth and almost truth. This is a good example of “almost truth”. And it is hard to see.

There are other examples in his book I could point out, but I am not going to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Becker has many good and practical ideas for moving toward a life where possessions are not my idols, and stuff doesn’t dominate my time and energy. Being careful that minimalism doesn’t become an idol in and of itself!

Quiet by Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Just the subtitle of this one grabbed my attention. It perfectly describes my world at work! There are times I really want to shout “just stop talking for a minute!”

There is a lot of psychobabble in this book which I ended up skimming over, but really enjoyed the section titled “Does God Love Introverts? An Evangelical’s Dilemma” and the section titled “On Cobblers and Generals: How to cultivate quiet kids in a world that can’t hear them”.

I love that she discusses the ways introverts work and relate in a positive way and highlights the value of being quiet.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers:

This one is a most enjoyable mystery novel set in England in the 1930’s. The language is more formal than novels of today, so it takes a bit of getting used to, but the story quickly grabbed my interest and held it.

I found this book appealing because it develops the themes that surrounded women of that era. Can a woman get and use an education? Can a woman live a fulfilled life outside the norms of marriage and children? Can a woman actually be an intelligent and independent human being? And all this set in the midst of a mysterious threat at the protagonist, Harriet Vane’s alma mater. Sayers actually did graduate from Oxford, so much of the action in this story flows out of her experiences there.

Again – discernment. I am not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, yet I am grateful for my education, my career and even more for my husband and my family. Give this one a chance – its part of a mystery series that Sayers wrote featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.

So I’m still reading but back to blogging too!   

 

Refresh – Good Reads

 

Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands

by Shona and David Murray

It’s hard to know where to begin – I love this book. Shona Murray is a Christian wife, mother and physician who approaches the idea of a grace paced life based on personal experience as well as drawing on her medical expertise.

The first words in the introduction draw me in. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Depressed. Panicky. Stressed. Burned Out. Broken. Paralyzed. Drowning. Empty.  I certainly relate to those words as do many women that I know.  And wouldn’t we love to exchange those for peaceful, calm, joyful, content, quiet, rested and refreshed?

This book offers a pathway to finding the peace and rest we all need. Murray lays it out like a gym – in fact it’s called “Refresh Gym”. Using the analogy of different stations in a gym that we go through to get physically from here to there, Murray offers a series of stations that start with a reality check and then move through nine stations to allow us to consider if we want to be healthy again – or maybe for the first time. Her practical advice in each area is warm and helpful. 

She helps us identify physical, mental, relational, moral, spiritual and emotional warning signs that tell us we are headed for a crash. Then in the next chapters, she discusses a number of important topics like the importance of rest and sleep – did you know you should even have a theology of sleep? She uses her knowledge of medicine and Scripture to help us understand why we must learn to rest well. That it’s not a sign of weakness but of wisdom and strength to get a good night’s sleep and take regular Sabbath and annual rest times.

I particularly appreciated her discussion of depression and anxiety. Those who suffer from depression and anxiety are too often shamed for not having enough faith or trust in God.  Thankfully, she gives us the understanding of God’s grace that allows us to use modern medications if that is what will help us. She also talks about the importance of a good diet and regular, moderate exercise. 

Those are just some of the topics in Refresh. As an RN, I appreciate the medical perspective Murray brings. And as a woman who tends to push myself to the limit, this book really helps me think through what a grace-paced life looks like. And it certainly feels better than exhaustion and burn-out.