Follow up Post to the previous entry (with cover pictures) of the 10 books that have changed my life or my thinking.
Here are the reasons why:
1. The Bible.
Obviously, this is on the list, first and foremost. The Bible is the only inspired, inerrant Word of God. I will never be finished reading it, I wish I could memorize it all, and I came to know my Lord Jesus Christ, have an ongoing relationship with God, and live life in a more godly way because of it.
2. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
This book reinvents parenting, by bringing it back to before it was invented. By taking truths ONLY from the Bible, it’s embarrassing to realize it’s that easy. In clear ways, Elyse and her daughter Jessica show us how to speak the gospel to our children over and over again from day one, how to live a gospel-centered life where grace covers all, and how to train your children to see their need for a Savior from infancy. My speech and actions were changed in how I deal with my children, a load was taken off of my back, and Biblical words were put in my mouth. By the grace of God, my oldest daughter became saved at the age of 3, and I attribute that to God using this book to teach me how to share the good news with her, and how to have all of my parenting point to Jesus. I can’t recommend this book enough. Every Christian parent should read it. I’ve read it through twice, and it’s all underlined and marked up.
3. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Life Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Again, some times the simplest things are the most profound. In gushy, artistic language that you get used to and learn to love, Ann writes about the beauty in everything God has given us, and how being thankful can truly change your life. Take her challenge, learn to make lists of thankfulness, teach your kids to be grateful… It totally changed our family’s life. Now, whenever my girls whine and cry, I have them list five things they are thankful for. Their spirits brighten up by the end of it. When I’m feeling depressed or discouraged, I list things I’m grateful for in the back of her book. A family member, going through teenage angst, used to not go to bed until she had listed five things she was thankful for every day. Some days, she said, she was so mad at the world that she could only list things like “silverware,” but there was always something. Always something to thank God for. Always something to bring hope. This idea of gratitude changed my life.
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is also my favorite book, and always will be. I read it at the age of 14, and there were just so many new concepts in it for me. Totalitarianism, the struggle between security and freedom, and Jonas’ moral dilemma to save a baby from infanticide, forcing his community to remember reality, were all mind-bending things for me at that age. Lowry’s trilogy (now a quartet!) brought Jonas’ story full circle until the earth was wicked again and needed someone to die in everyone’s place. I emailed the author, Lois Lowry, personally, and said, “You seem to understand man’s depravity and need for a savior. Do you know that Jesus came to die for your sins? Your books could be more complete if you understood the gospel message here. I’d love for you to hear that.” She told me, “YOU write that gospel book.” Inspired and motivated by her rejection of Christ, yet promotion of my cause, I DID go on to write a few novels, all with the mission of showing sin, justice, and mercy, and with a desire to change hearts.
5. A Wrinkle in Time and the sequel, A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
Be watching for my book review on A Wrinkle in Time! I’m re-reading and reviewing it right now.
Also, be aware that L’Engle is a Universalist, however (feeling like all roads get to heaven), so there are a few non-Christian concepts in these books.
A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (the first two in her series about Meg and Charles Wallace) changed my thinking because they were the first sci/fi, scientific, deep books of their kinds that I read. Not only was I impressed with the immense imagination of the author, but A Swiftly Titling Planet, where they go into the human body and heal it, while not really biblical, was amazingly intense, well-thought-out, and deeply artistic, in a sense where I praised God for the details of what He had created. I was also impressed that a woman could write so scientifically and imaginatively in a field that, before her time, had been so dominated by men. I’m not a feminist, but I think that L’Engle was probably INTJ (Myers-Briggs personality that usually belongs to computer-oriented, science-loving men :-P), and that’s a rare type for women. Her brain worked in ways I had only heard men do up to that point, and I was impressed and learned a lot of depth-writing from her.
6. A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke
On first glance, this book just looks like a Stockholm-syndrome romance. But there’s much more to it than that. I read it when I was 12 or 13, and the other concepts were new. The main character is kidnapped and imprisoned in a small, dark place. She spends her time reciting Scripture that she memorized over the years, and it keeps her sane. I was struck by how powerful the Word of God is, and how important memorization is. If I were alone in silence and darkness, my mind would turn to the Scripture as well. Also, her kidnapper is tenderhearted to her and the gospel, and is unaware why he has always had a softer conscience than his criminal peers. Come to find out, his mother prayed over him and sang hymns and read Scripture to him his entire time in the womb. Of course I’m not superstitious that this actually softens a person’s heart in adulthood, but we also know that the Word does not go out void, and that God answers prayers. This settled in my mind so firmly that, over a decade later, when I was twice as old, I still remembered this book, and my husband and I read our devotions out loud to our unborn daughters every day of their pregnancies, both of us praying over them out loud. The novel also has an interesting twist, in my opinion. I realized that I didn’t actually own this book, recently, when I was making up this list, and so I just purchased it for my home. Can’t wait to read it again! I’ll try to review it for my book review website, as well.
7. 31 Days of Praise by Warren and Ruth Myers
Just like “One Thousand Gifts,” I am convinced that no one can not love God or walk around with a bad attitude while reading this book. Broken down into short two-page days, 31 Days of Praise takes Scripture and teaches you how to praise God with it. First, they point out all of the amazing attributes of who God is, and secondly, talk about all of the many things God has done for us, all worded in a personal prayer straight from your heart to God’s. The Bible verses are always listed for reference and further study. I am on my second copy of this. I mark it up as I go, with things that move me or things I find hard to believe that God would actually do for me (awe-inspiring). Everything about it is immensely worshipful. I am glad to see how my faith has been stretched since starting my second book and comparing my notes with the first one.
8. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
I was given this book when I wasn’t even double digits yet. I tended to be a fearful child who liked to stay sheltered, but, for some reason, this story didn’t scare me. Corrie ten Boom’s experience with the Nazis was a complete testimony to God’s faithfulness, and her life was fascinating. I have a leather-bound copy and, as a child, I used to read over it often. The difficult topics were delivered with a gentle realism that points the reader to God’s Sovereignty, without leaving me with a fear of people. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, is one of my favorite people to ever walk this earth. For years, I had a hand-drawn (one of the best art pieces I’ve done!) picture of her hanging in my room. Her sweet spirit and devotion to God shone out of my rendition of her, and her face kept me on the straight and narrow. I can’t wait to meet her in heaven. She is my number one hero.
9. Elsie Dinsmore (and the Elsie series) by Martha Finley
It amused me that all of my friends, except my husband, hated Elsie Dinsmore. They probably read the theologically shaky second volume and stopped there, but the Elsie series was a lot more than that. Even book 2 led me to good theological debates with my parents. (What if my conscience is stricter than theirs? What if they ask me to do something against my conscience that doesn’t actually exist in Scripture? etc.) Elsie, instead of annoying me with her perfection, motivated me to do right. I don’t know if it’s a personality difference, but, in my case, I liked having a godly role model to read about. I always felt more inspired to walk closer with the Lord and fight the good fight after reading an Elsie book. Later volumes focus on Elsie’s granddaughter Lulu, and those were amazing. Lulu is a very realistic, strong-willed child, and the lessons I took from her struggle with her sin, on some days, felt written just for me. As the books got more and more into just history textbooks with little character development, I began to lose interest, but I can boast owning the entire collection. I plan to read them through to my children some day.
10. Missionary Patriarch: The True Story of John G. Paton
I was a voracious fiction reader as a child, and really cared little for non-fiction unless it was a missionary story written in an exciting way. (This has since changed since marriage and becoming a parent! Now I need those godly nonfiction books more than ever!) Therefore, Mom had to assign me John G. Paton for school (I was homeschooled) to get me to read it. I was very disconcerted by the thickness of the book, and went into it assuming it to be very dry. I was taken aback by Paton’s voice, which was straightforward and relevant. His time with the South Sea Cannibals was interesting, of course, but it was actually his mission work before that that moved me the most. Paton was a tee-totaler (meaning, no alcohol ever) due to the sordid lifestyles he witnessed on the Scotland streets where he lived. His work to get the people sober and give them occupations, as well as extended family struggles we were going through with relatives at the time, convinced me to make a promise to God and myself to never touch a drop of alcohol. This definitely made a big mark on my life.
Leave me a comment on your thoughts or books that have changed your life. If I get enough comments, I’ll leave a bonus: the one book that had such a negative impact on my life that I made it into a positive thing to learn and grow from.