Books Reviews: Missionaries

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Over the past year I’ve been blessed to read some wonderful books. Here’s a few that I’d love to share:

The Live Dead Journal 

My missionary aunt and uncle gave me this one as a graduation gift last spring, and it is incredible. The book is written by 30 missionaries (mostly from Africa and the Middle East) that share powerful stories and lessons learned.  It’s divided into 30 small chapters that are quick to read, and will leave you with much to ponder and put into action the rest of the day.

Keep a Quiet Heart–Elisabeth Elliot

There is so much wisdom and encouragement in this book. It inspired me. It challenged me. It showed me how much I have yet to learn about walking by faith. The chapters are short and easy to read, and cover a plethora of topics that are applicable to everyday life. Elisabeth Elliot is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I’m quite excited to read more of her books.

Living Waters–Brother Yun

Brother Yun is a preacher in China. He’s been imprisoned 31 times because of his faith in Messiah. He’s suffered more than I can ever image, and yet he shares the Gospel with greater strength because of it. Living Waters attacks the concept of nominal Christianity. It’s a call for believers to be disciples. It’s a powerful book that will ignite your heart for the Great Commission.

All these books are 5 stars

I’m so thankful for these precious souls who have allowed their heart and soul to be poured out on paper all for His glory.

What books have impacted your life this year?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.”
–Jim Elliot 

Unbroken

photo from www.awardcircuit.com

Last week I watched the movie Unbroken with my  family.

I suddenly felt selfish for every time I’d ever complained about my little troubles in life.

I’ve never floated on a raft on the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, battling starvation, storms, and sharks.

I’ve never been that close to death or been through the horrors of war.

Louis Zamperini’s story is dark. It’s real. But it’s also beautiful in a heartbreaking way.

It’s the ending that touched me the most (although the movie doesn’t highlight it much).

After all the darkness and nightmares and scars,  Loius Zamperini found God.

He felt the redeeming power of forgiveness and shared it with others.

He visited Japan and forgave his prison guards in the POW camp.

He lived to the bold age of 97 and  died with peace in his heart.

This is the type of story that knocks me off my feet and shoves my selfishness in my face.

Today I don’t want to complain, y’all.

I just want to be thankful for life. For the endless blue sky above. For the birds chirping in the treetops. For the songs my siblings sing together. For the breeze kissing my face.

Today is for living, not complaining.

Today is for thankfulness.

Today is unbroken.

Full song here: This is Just So Beautiful

How about you…What are you thankful for today?

Favorite Stories of 2014

Novels

Behold the Dawn

1. Behold the Dawn by K.M. Weiland–An epic tale of justice and mercy set during the Third Crusades.

Long Fatal Love Chase

 

2. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott–A tragic suspense romance.

 Me & Georgette

3. Me & Georgette by D.B. Schaefer–A fun and unusual romance combining time travel, Judaism, and Regency England.

Biography & Memoir

Kisses From Katie

1. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis–A story of relentless love and complete devotion.

Pod

2. Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III–The hilarious and inspiring story of one of America’s first modern homeschool families.

Strawberry Point

3. Strawberry Point by Florence Roe Wiggins—A delightful collection of memoir vignettes celebrating old-fashioned America.

What are some of your favorite stories of 2014?

Two Weeks that Changed Me

Summit Student Conferences

The summer of 2013 held a special opportunity for me. I attended the Summit Worldview Conference in Tennessee. Even though I’ve written about it before, I want to write about it again.

It’s been a full year since I attended Summit, but it still comes to mind so often. It’s influenced my life more than I think I’ll ever know. This past year I probably wouldn’t have applied myself to studying as much as I did. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the friendships I made with fellow students and my inspiring group leader (who blogs over here).  And I most definitely would not be as confident in my faith.

I believe that Summit has changed the course of my life. It’s hard to talk about something so dynamic, but the other day I tried to capture a bit of the Summit experience in this short bit of prose:

Summit

We go to bed early. We get up too soon. We crowd into breakout sessions and sit through two weeks of lectures. Why? Because we are young. Because we are searching. Because we want answers.

We fill our workbooks with notes and doodles. We form friendships. We pray together. Why? Because we love God. Because we love people. Because we love ideas.

We want to reach life’s summit. We want to face the tough questions. We want to change the world. Why? Because we’ve found a glimpse of truth. Because we’ve caught a spark of hope.

Summit isn’t a memory to us. It’s a monument. We will never forget it.

I know there are many that share my sentiments for Summit. The sheer joy of knowing that each summer hundreds of young people attend these conferences makes me feel hope for the future.

Thank you, Summit, for changing my life.

Jenny & Tyler (and my love for different)

Art

I’m a girl that loves variety, especially when it comes to music. If you scroll through my iPod you’ll find many different genres.

Folk. Christian. Pop. Alternative. Indie rock. Even a little worshipful rap music.

I like music that’s different (like this perfectly unusual love song).

I like artists that are different. Artists that share their music freely. Artists that sing truth. To me, good music means authentic sound and creative lyrics that are also clean and inspiring (i.e. Josh Garrels).

I’m going to refrain myself from acclaiming Josh Garrels’ music once again, and this time share another band with impressive artistry and message.

This band is Jenny & Tyler.

Jenny & Tyler

This sweet husband and wife duo don’t just sing love songs. They also sing about cultural problems, such as poverty and slavery, calling others to let go of their “neatly arranged lives” and reach out to a broken world that needs healing. They sing about mortality and faith. They sing about commitment and self-sacrifice. Their message isn’t an easy message, but it’s a message that needs to be sung.

We need good music–music that challenges us to be better people–that disturbs the comfortable and comforts the disturbed.

We need artists like Jenny & Tyler.

We need different.

P.S. Jenny & Tyler stream all their music free on Bandcamp. They also have a free album for download on NoiseTrade (Check it out. It’s awesome).

Annie Dillard: The Writing Life

Annie Dillard

After reading a recommendation for the book “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard, I was delighted to find it at the library in town. But that delight soon turned to disappointment.

I didn’t like the book. The first chapter was fine, and the fifth chapter was good, but most of it annoyed me. If the book hadn’t been so small (just over a hundred pages), I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Annie Dillard’s worldview is largely reflected in the book, and that worldview–namely transcendentalism–I found highly depressing. A sense of hopelessness ran through it, as if she is constantly searching for reality. Every once in a while there would be a burst of hope in a paragraph, but then it would vanish.

That being said, Annie Dillard is a talented writer, and her prose is literary and poetic. Despite the fact that I don’t endorse the book, I did learn some helpful tips from it.

Don’t be afraid to reject unnecessary writing–Your writing is not for yourself. It’s for others to read. If something is not enhancing the story for your reader, scrap it.

Craft each sentence–A sentence is not just a string of words. It is music. Each word is a note that creates a melody. When we look at a sentence that way, we suddenly respect it more, and realize how much of an art form it is.

Write as if to terminal patients (because everyone is)–Sooner or later, everyone on this planet is going to die. That is reality. As writers we need to write something that is worth people’s time–something that makes a positive influence on the world.

What you read is what you write–In other words, read good books.

I suppose this is an odd review, giving a book a two-star rating and then sharing the things I like about it. But just like most things in life, there’s always a silver lining.

Come As You Are

Come As You Are I’ve been enjoying Crowder’s most recent album lately. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Come as You Are.”

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures

The key line of the song is my favorite. It’s simple yet powerful.

Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

Letting that truth sink in can bring healing to the soul.

Books, Books, & More Books

Elizabeth Bennet
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when I didn’t read much.

As a child, I always enjoyed reading, but during my early teen years I lost interest. Children’s books were behind me, young adult books didn’t interest me, and adult books were too mature for me, so I just didn’t read.

And then I discovered the venerable Jane Austen. After watching the five hour long movie rendition of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” I read the classic. It was my first large novel, and I was captivated.

I also discovered the Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke . She became one of my favorite authors as I delved into the genres of historical and Christian fiction.

Since attending Summit last year, I’ve also started reading many non-fiction books. Now my “to read” list  is overflowing. I generally add at least one new title a week. For someone who’s not a fast reader, that means I’ve got plenty of happy page-turning hours ahead of me.

Here are some of my favorite books this year, along with short reviews:

Tactics, Gregory Koukl–An excellent handbook to logical thinking and apologetic tactics for defending biblical convictions.

Strawberry Point, Florence Roe Wiggins–A delightfully quaint collection of memoir vignettes celebrating old-fashioned America. Loved it.

Me & Georgette, D.B. Schaefer–A fun, unusual romance combining time travel, Judaism, and Regency England. It’s similar to Jane Austen, so yes, I liked it.

Structuring Your Novel, K.M. Weiland–Informative and easy to read, this book has been a great resource while writing my novel.

What are some books that you’ve enjoyed lately?

The Writer’s Manifesto

photo by amandahantas
photo by amandahantas

There’s something impressive about holding a nine hundred page novel in your hands. You feel its weight and think, how could anyone write something so big? Our natural response is to consider it a masterpiece, even if we never read past the first chapter.

But sometimes a masterpiece can be something small. Sometimes a few words can say so much. Sometimes it only takes one sentence to change someone’s life.

That’s why I consider Jeff Goins’ e-book “The Writer’s Manifesto” a small masterpiece. It can be read in five minutes, but taken to heart, it can revolutionize a writer’s perspective on writing.

“Real writers don’t write for recognition. They don’t do it for fame, accolades, or notoriety. They do it because they cannot not write.”

–The Writer’s Manifesto

If you love to write, I’d encourage you to head over to Jeff’s blog Goins, Writer and get a free copy of “The Writer’s Manifesto” by subscribing to the newsletter. (I’ve just begun to explore this blog, but what I’ve seen so far has been amazing.)

Revive 2014

Revive 2014

This past weekend I was able to attend Revive 2014. It was an inspiring conference. The teachers, the fellowship, and the praise and worship–it was all fantastic.

I was able to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in over a year, and to meet some new friends too.

Here’s a photo to testify:

Revive 2014

I learned many things during that very long and yet far too short weekend. One thing in particular that I was reminded of during the conference is the importance of good friends.

Good friends aren’t just an optional part of our lives. They’re important.

We need good friends.

Good friends aren’t just the people we have fun with–cracking jokes, making memories, and being silly together. As wonderful as that aspect of friendship is, good friends reach far beyond the fun stuff.

Good friends don’t just see our happy profile pictures or read our latest posts.They don’t just dance with us in the sunshine. They stand with us in the storm too. It’s when the thunder rolls and the lighting strikes that they encourage us the most.

Good friends see the tears run down our cheeks. They see the bad hair days. They hug us when we need a hug, and listen to us even when we don’t make sense.

Good friends are the family that we get to choose. (I didn’t coin that quote, by the way.)

Thanks, Revive, for reminding me that we need friends. Good friends. Friends that can encourage us, and somehow we encourage them too.

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If you’d like a peek at what Revive looks like, check out this year’s promo video. The footage is from the conference I attended two years ago in Jacksonville, FL. (Funny side note: I’m in the video near the end, but you can’t see my face.)