Saturday, October 13, 2012

ONE WEEK 365 // Week 41, Book 26

I love reading books on creation care....

Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World
By Michael Abbate
Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2009

This book is comprehensive. It's a great combination of theology of creation, research on the environment, and practical ways to "garden" our planet today.

I really enjoyed it from start to finish, but I'm also a nerd for anything that has to do with creation care. That's why I'm a strict vegetarian, recycle, buy local as much as possible, use as little energy and water as possible.

If you're just starting out in educating yourself about creation theology and creation care, I would recommend this one.

ONE WEEK 365 // Week 39, Book 25

I'm part of a book club of sorts, for work. A few of us read a book about unreached people groups and get together to discuss it over lunch once a month. In September we read this one....

By Bruce Olson

This is the story of a 19-year-old American, Bruce Olson, who feels the call to work among the unreached Motilone Indians in South America. So he packs up and goes. Without a missions board, without raising support, without knowing anyone who even lives anywhere near South America.

It's a crazy, inspiring story how he finds this unreached people group in the mountains in South America and comes to live among them and see them reached with the gospel.

The writing is vivid and graphic in places (like the foot-long parasite that he pulls from his mouth) but the narrative of his story is so good that I survived the gross parts.

I highly recommend if you're looking based-on-a-true-story story.

ONE WEEK 365 // Week 34, Book 24

I read Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies a few years ago and I found this copy of Plan B at a used bookstore in Pentwater, MI last summer. Finally getting around to reading it....

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
By Anne Lamott
New York: Penguin, 2005

I might not always agree with Anne's stance on certain things but I do agree with her honesty. Oh, that more people would be this honest. I guess that's what I like so much about her -- there might be differences between her views on life and mine but I still feel like we're working towards the same goal.

Also, there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. I do like books that can both make me laugh and make me think.

Friday, August 17, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 33, Book 23

I bought this book from the Amazon app on my smart phone in May 2011 on the spot when Jason Gray recommended it me while at a radio retreat. One of the best recommendations I have ever received...

The Pacific and Other Stories
By Mark Helprin
Penguin Books, 2005

This might be of my favorite books I've ever read. From the very first paragraph of the first story, I was hooked.

The stories are so well crafted, it scares me to call myself a writer. They are beautiful. The characters, places and events in the stories have such diversity and depth. 

I don't remember Jason's recommendation having many words other than, "Read it." And that's the  one I give you: "Read it."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 29, Book 22

I need to start reading some shorter books or I need to start reading faster if I want to catch up.... This week's book was more for work.

A Muslim's Mind
By Edward J. Hoskins, MD, PhD
Colorado Springs, CO: Dawson Media

I heard about this book through Missio Nexus. As a member of the network, I get weekly book reviews from them.

A few weeks ago this title was the weekly review. And what with my current work, the title appealed to me so I ordered it. Then my boss emailed everyone in the office and said, "You all should check this out." I emailed back: "Already ordered it." How's that for making a good impression on the new job?

This book contains a review of Islamic traditions in the following topics: Muhammed, women, heaven and hell, Jews and Christians, Shariah law, and Jihad. Hoskins spent years researching and living among these traditions, and he has clearly organized them in this book for Christians to learn more about the context of these issues in Muslim culture.

This book read quickly. It's not long and the chapters are in quick, readable sections. Which I think is the point. Hoskins created a book that could be used as an easy reference for understanding Islamic traditions. Anyone can quickly look at the appropriate chapter and find the references to certain issues of Islamic traditions.

He also offers a guide at the end for preparing one's own faith story to share with a Muslim audience -- this being the final step to not being afraid of Islam and Muslims but being ready to build a rapport with Muslims to share the hope of Christ.

ONE WORD 365 // Week 27, Book 21

This week I picked up the bio on Lilias Trotter, my new hero...

A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter
By Miriam Huffman Rockness
Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1999

This biography tells the story of a young lady that left her London home and comfortable life for the more modest life in Algeria among the unreached.

The art critic and social revolutionary John Ruskin believed that Trotter had the potential to be one of the best artists of the nineteenth century. But she gave that up to follow a call to reach the unreached, the Muslims of North Africa, and her  love of literature and her talent in art gave way to new ways to share about the work happening on the mission field.

To get there she had to go through a "crisis of her soul." She had to decide between a future in the art world and a call to ministry. The story of her work in Algeria is inspiring and challenging, but it was this tension she felt between art and missions that resounded the most with me at this time.

My current struggle is slightly different than Lilias'. I am in process of transitioning from music industry to missions -- and doing so gladly -- but while she took her love and arts into her new life, I am changing fields and careers entirely. I am looking forward to continue doing some freelance writing/editing but I am currently working on letting go of a job that I've had for the past six years. I have been debating how and when to make the break or if I even should (I mean, won't the extra money be helpful?). But as I read Lilias' story, I felt more convinced that I needed to make the break, and until I do so, I won't fully be trusting God to provide for the needs that I have (fundraising!).

Lilias said, "I see clear as daylight now, I cannot give myself to painting in the way he [Ruskin] means and continue still to 'seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness'" (84). As things stand right now, my time is divided. I have more than enough work to keep me busy at my new job, while the workload from my music job hasn't let up -- in fact, it's gotten busier. It's possible that I could do both jobs but I don't feel like I can fully focus on the new job and do the work that God brought me here to do. 

The biographer notes that Lilias felt the same way about her art and ministry. "But Lily, whole-souled as she was, knew that she could not continue to do both and give either what it would require of her. The rudder of her will had already been set toward God's purposes, whatever they might be (84.)" 

"For all people, however, as for herself, Lilias believed that the fundamental issue in life remained the same: a need for total abandonment to God's purposes. The ultimate test, if not the specific path, would require the willingness to renounce anything--person, place, possession, plan--anything that would stand in the way of God's design" (85). 

There are other quotes from Lilias that relate to this matter: "It is loss to keep when God says 'give'" (86). 
"The one thing is to keep obedient in spirit; to do otherwise would be to cramp and ruin your soul" (88). And her long-form essay Parables of the Cross address this, too.

She's a hero because she gave up the comforts of her life and went to serve the unreached. She went to a difficult place to reach difficult people. She make the decision to be "whole-souled" and not let herself be divided by various passions. She gave it all up to God and he worked them all together for his purpose. It's amazing story -- I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 25, Book 20

I bought this book on one of my bookstore tours of NYC. I brought it with me on vacation, hoping that I could finally read it. I did -- in two sittings.

By Elie Wiesel

I found this book at Housing Bookworks in NYC. I heard about it in days past but never picked it up, until now. It took me over a year to get around to reading it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. I finished it in two sittings -- it's not too long and it's such a compelling story that you want to finish it.

Elie Wiesel tells his story of experience, enduring and surviving Holocaust. He was a teenager when his family was taken from their home and sent to Auschwitz; he was then sent to Buchenwald, a labor camp.

This story was horrifying and terrifying. A firsthand account of someone living through the Holocaust, there is nothing easy about that. Even though I knew the storyteller survived it, learning about the price he paid physically, emotionally and spiritually was overwhelmingly sad. It was eye-opening. How Wiesel conveyed the loss of innocence and despair was palpable; I felt like I was there. 

It's one of those books that marks a horrible part of human history but is important to read. I highly recommend it; I'd even share my copy.

ONE WORD 365 // Week 24, Book 19

This is the other essay by Lilias Trotter...

Parables of the Christ-Life
By I. Lilias Trotter

Don't be fooled by the size or length of this book. There is much to be discovered here, just like in Parables of the Cross.

She writes about lessons of Christianity from a study of nature. And as I write about this book, and being 2/3 through her biography now, I know that I need to read this one and Cross again and again and again.

Trotter just offered so many straightforward and basic insights into Christian living, I think anyone, even non-missions-type people will be inspired by her.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 23, Book 18

I have a new hero, Lilias Trotter....

Parables of the Cross
By I. Lilias Trotter

I've been helping my brother-in-law edit his tutorials for his PhD. His last paper included the stories of missionaries to Egypt and Sudan, of which Lilias Trotter was one. (My sister and brother-in-law also recommended her biography, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter. After reading about her in Dick's paper and this book, I ordered it straightaway.)

This book (or long essay), and another called Parables of the Christ-Life, were both free for Kindle on Amazon. This one read quickly but it is also a book that will take time and multiple reads to fully digest. I intend to re-read it, take notes, share it, quote it, etc.

The gist of the book explains the process of dying to your old ways so that God can bring about the new life of the believer. The seed has to die in order for the new plant to grow. It's all very Live Dead.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 22, Book 17

So I missed weeks 20 and 21, but now I'm getting back into the swing of things (and catching up on my blog).....

Axe to Grind: Double Barrel Vol. 1
By Grey West

Was this free for Kindle on Amazon? That's the only way I can explain my reason for downloading it. That and it was about zombies and parallel timelines.

And since it was there, I had to read it.

I actually enjoyed it. A fast read, generally decent story with good pacing. And since it's the first volume, it had the cliffhanger ending. Which led me to promptly look up the next issue on Amazon to see how much it cost. I haven't bought it yet, but I can get the full six volumes for $2.99 or something like that. I gotta find out how it ends....

ONE WORD 365 // Week 19, Book 16

I started this last year but only got through the first two months....

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
By Gretchen Rubin
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009

This time I finished the book. And really enjoyed it.

There is some practical stuff in here, and a few chapters/principles that I really want to implement.

The biggest one that I want to work on now comes from Chapter 6 or June: "Make Time for Friends: Friendship."

Being in a new city and starting over means making new friends and keeping in touch with old ones. Thankfully, I've been practicing my cards and treats by mail for the past couple years, so staying in touch with old friends already has a good start. And now my friends in Nashville will benefit from this more since I moved. Now, I need to bribe some new friends with treats and cards.....

Rubin makes five points in the chapter on friendship: remember birthdays, be generous, show up, don't gossip, and make three new friends.

Remember birthdays. Facebook and the birthdays app on the iPad have helped here. I need to get in a better routine of actually planning ahead, so it's not the actual day before I jump on Facebook to write on someone's wall real quick. I want to be more intentional and better prepared to wish a friend a happy birthday. And I've grown tired of just wishing people happy birthday via Facebook. I've decided that if I can't get a card in the mail on time, I'm going to email or text or maybe even call (gasp!) my friend on their birthday.

And make three new friends. This is a good one for me right now. Rubin talks about making three new friends in whatever new situation she found herself in. The tips that she gives freak me, the introvert, out a little bit (smile more frequently, open a conversation, try to look accessible and warm) but she admits to being a bit calculating about the process and pushing herself to do something different. I think I just need to keep this mind as I start to find a new community in my new hometown.

So, yes, I would recommend this book. It's very practical and encourages you to make your own list of principles and ideas to pursue in a happiness project. I like the one month chunks of time to focus on a new idea. It's enough time to form a habit before moving on to the next one. Pick it up -- or ask to borrow my copy. I'd loan it to you.

ONE WORD 365 // Weeks 15-18, Book 15

I got this book free on Amazon, and I was finally inspired to read it. In honor of Season 2 of "Sherlock" on PBS. Love me some Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock....

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It's a classic. And a fun read of short stories. There's not much more than that to say. Each chapter is another mystery and they aren't necessarily chronological.

I can recommend this book for those weeks when you're packing a house and moving, because it's the book that entertained me during the month of April as I was preparing to sell my house and move.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 14, Book 14

OK, life became crazy. The month of April might not see as many books read as the other 11 months but I am in the midst of closing on my house and moving all my belongings out! Still, I finished this book in week 14 and LOVED it!

Just Kids
By Patti Smith
New York: Ecco, 2010

I bought this book at Strand Bookstore in NYC while on a visit last year. It was one that I kept wanting to read and wanting to read but was never in the reading mood. Then I took on this book-per-week challenge and knew this would be near the top, especially after hearing Smith's interview on NPR.

Once I picked it up and started, I couldn't put it down! I loved this book. I loved that it was part art history, part prose, all enchantment. Patti Smith's storytelling was so good that I was sucked into her life, into her relationships, into the sites and people of NYC in the 60s and 70s, etc.

I found this New York Times review and pretty much felt the same way as Tom Carson. If you love music, photography, New York City, or just really good storytelling, pick up this book. I'll be walking by the Chelsea Hotel when I visit NYC in a couple weeks, just to pay homage to the story.

Monday, April 2, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 13, Book 13

My book for this past week was written and just recently released by my friend Dan Portnoy. I met Dan while living in Pasadena, thanks to a mutual friend having a birthday party.

The Non-Profit Narrative: How Telling Stories Can Change the World
By Dan Portnoy
PMG Press, 2012

Not only did I want to purchase and read this book in support of my friend, but I thought it could be helpful for my some upcoming contract work that I have (tax deduction!).

Dan gives easy-to-read and easy-to-understand thoughts on developing your non-profit (or even personal) story, finding your audience and telling your story via the appropriate channels (website, social media, blogs).

I'm actually really glad I read this last week so that I can use the "take aways" and "next steps" that Dan lists at the end of each chapter as I dive into some new projects for a missions organization. I have a clean slate to start this project, and this book will be a great handbook for this from-the-ground-up website.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 12, Book 12

This was a re-read. It's been a couple years and I need to brush up on my study of Christianity in American culture today, especially as it pertains to the differences between generations. Plus, I want to read The Next Christians but I wanted a refresher on the research that David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons published earlier.

By David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007

This book is just handy if you have any inkling to study or work with church and culture in America. Granted, after a couple years any research becomes dated but this book is foundational to understanding faith and culture in America today. It's a first glimpse into how "Busters" and "Mosaics" think.

The Barna Group conducted the research. It's thorough, eye-opening and thrilling, in my opinion. The comprehensiveness of the research will give any reader a good starting point in understanding what Busters and Mosaics think about Christianity and Christians. Some will be surprised. I wasn't so much but I'm a Buster and I have friends that would be considered what the books calls "outsiders" and those "inside" the church that think/believe like outsiders.

Man, I love this book. But I'm kind of junkie for this type of talk. I find it so fascinating and I love the research that goes with it. I hope in the future to work more closely with church and culture study -- to help churches understanding their own personal culture and how they can research the cultures found in their community.

Also, I found a recent article (links to research included) from The Barna Group that goes along the information and purpose of this book: Top Trends of 2011: Millennials Rethink Christianity.

Monday, March 19, 2012

ONE WORD 365 // Week 11, Book 11

I still have a smile on my face from last week's book...

By Tina Fey
New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011

I'm sure you heard me cackling late last Monday when I started this book. I could barely get through a sentence. 

And the tears! I was weeping from laughter. 

As I continued, there were less tears, though the humor was still there.

It's difficult to write funny, to write comedy and get laughs, but Tina succeeds. Maybe it's because I'm such a fan of her and of "30 Rock" and her character Liz Lemon. Maybe the book reads super funny to me because I can envision her saying it or reading it aloud. I should try the audio version sometime, perhaps, just to see if it makes me laugh more.

The book tells Tina's story: her days growing up and working the local summer theater to joining Second City in Chicago and then her work in NYC as a writer for "SNL" and becoming the mastermind behind "30 Rock." She isn't afraid to admit embarrassing moments or moments in which she maybe fell short. 

She told enough on herself to make her story interesting without doing a "tell-all" book. I don't know that I'd want a "tell all" book anyway. I just enjoyed reading her version of her recent rise to "fame," though I'm not even sure she would call herself famous. She's famous to me because I'm such a fan.

Also, from this moment forward I will be using her phrases "grade A dummy" and "dumdums" as often as possible in conversation.