I have had a lot on my mind this afternoon. I think the biggest thing is that it's easier to keep my mouth shut than to guard what comes out of it. I second guess myself a lot. There is a risk in opening my mouth. A risk that I will say the wrong thing around people it will offend. Sometimes I am a bit blunt--aren't we all? Sometimes I am also very opinionated. When I say something that I'm surprised at, I usually try to think about what the seed of it was. I think I see in myself how a little seed can grow a big plant and a big idea. Maybe that's why I'm so concerned about what's being published and the overt and subtle messages of fiction and nonfiction books.
Over the past two years, I've found that there are publishers that I trust more than others. By that I mean, that I feel safer usually reading a book published by one of these companies. I've found their books to encourage me more in my walk with the Lord and more enjoyable. These books fit the scripture for me that says in Philippians 4:8 KJV "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Our pastor said something to me a few weeks ago that summarized why I think what we read matters. He commented that we, in our world today, believe what we see and hear. I agreed--we do! So, I have found that I really have to be careful about what I put into my ears and eyes.
One example of the lessons God's impressed on my heart about what I read this year has to do with romance novels. Over the years, I've heard and read several speakers/authors who have likened romance novels to pornography for women. Please forgive the graphic language, but I think it can be at times a very accurate description. The content of a novel can lead our minds that it is not good for them to go. That was the concern I had with one of the books I read a few weeks ago. I set it down because it was so visually stimulating--in an impure way. The images conjured by the author throughout the book didn't sit with my soul. They were unsettling. I had to make conscious efforts to dispel the book from my mind. When I was done with it, I put it in the recycling bin--that was not a book I was going to lend or share with anyone.
My mom chuckles at me and how seriously I take my book reading and how deeply I think about what the books I read are saying. But, she has told me that I'm wired differently. I'm not really sure why God has wired me this way. So, I thought I would write which of the publishers I've enjoyed books from the most and my family's favorite books.
My favorite books and publishers this year...
from Crossway Books. Of the publishers, I've enjoyed Crossway's books the most this year. It is a nonprofit publisher that publishes the ESV translation of the Bible. It's been a blessing to me to get to read and review several books published by them this year.
Mighty Acts of God, children's Bible story book for 6-10 year olds from Starr Meade I was looking for a Bible story book to transition Autumn to help her understand more about the Bible than the simple Bible stories. I love how this storybook explains difficult ideas like predestination at a child's level. Later in the year, Mighty Acts of Salvation and Mighty Acts of Creation by Starr Meade were published for middle schoolers that again do a wonderful job of explaining difficult concepts at an age appropriate level.
Be Still, My Soul ed. by Nancy Guthrie I have struggled with the place of suffering in our lives for a long time. I battle bitterness. Much of my battle stems from how my dad raised me and socialized me, but now the responsibility lies with me and my own heart. I have only just begun to read this book and I've learned to be very cautious about recommending books before I've finished them, but I've already been very encouraged by this one.
The Sword by Brian Litfin This fictional book is a story of speculative fiction set in a modern dark age. The writing engaged me and was very out of my comfort zone with what I usually read in fiction. But, the writing was very good and I loved reading it. I'm looking forward to the sequel being published in the spring.
from Moody Publishing. Moody Publishing is the publishing arm of Moody Bible Institute (MBI). The profits from their publishing pay for the tuition of students attending MBI.
Silent Seduction of Self: Conforming Our Thoughts to the Word of God. I was taken by surprise at the forthrightness of this author--she spoke candidly to my struggle with my thoughts and speech that I think most women struggle with.
Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian This wasn't a book on my list of books I wanted to read, but it was one that God had for me to read. In the week after I began reading it, I was hit from multiple sides about how we need to fight the messages and attacks of the world on our hearts as women and as wives.
Growing Grateful Kids I was encouraged as I read this very easy to read book about parenting and about being a mom. The author states over and over that we can't give our kids something we don't have--so what we give our kids begins with our own hearts.
Dancing with the One You Love I am so thankful to finally have found a book about submission that resonates with my heart. Cindy Easley writes not from a legalistic black and white view of submission, but a grace filled one.
from Navpress. The Bible studies I've doing this year have been published by Navpress. Navpress is the publishing arm of the Navigators ministry.
Becoming a Woman of... series by Cynthia Heald I have been so thankful for this series this year. I found my way through A woman of Faith, of Grace, and of Simplicity this year. Ms. Heald's studies get me into the Word and give me a lot to think about. I feel as if I'm learning from a much older woman--which I am. I believe Ms. Heald is now in her early 70s.
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges I read several books by Jerry Bridges this year. I have been encouraged by Bridges' explanations of what it really means to walk by faith. He's able to talk both theologically and practically in his books--not leaning too heavily on one side or the other. I would never call his books self help and I wouldn't say they're intellectual either.
Looking back, I've read a lot of nonfiction books that I've loved this year. But, I read a lot of Christian fiction, but the only one that stood out to me was The Sword. Overall, I'm very thankful that I've gotten to read so many good books this year! Whether good or bad, the books I have read this year have given me a lot to think about!