Crazy Book Lady

Madeleine L’Engle

Does Wrinkle in Time ring a bell? Some of you may have seen the movie but you need to read the book by Madeleine L’Engle.  It is part of a triology that includes Wind at the Door and Swiftly Turning Planet.

Madeleine has long been a favorite of children, but her books for children, are just as wonderful for adults!  Madeleine was faithful follower of Jesus and able to put that into her characters much as CS Lewis did in his Chronicles of Narnia.  It is there in a non-obvious way, but in a way that has you think and re-think.  Born in 1918 and died in 2007,  she was married to a soap opera star, Hugh Franklin and they lived in Conneticut.  She was also writer in residence at St John the Divine in New York City.  Among her friends was Lucy Shaw, also a great Christian writer.

She not only wrote for children but also has for adults–some books on writing itself.  It may interest you to know that Wrinkle in Time was rejected more than 30 times before it was published.  (Never give up on a gift that God has given you and wants to use!)

She also wrote  a series called “Crosswick Journals”:

Irrational Season–that goes through the seasons of the church year

Two-part Invention–about her marriage

A Circle of Quiet–her attempt to find balance in her career and family life

Summer of Great Grandmother–looks at the care of our parents and the bonds between mother and daughter.

I have not found a book of hers that I didn’t like. Have fun!

Reviews & Recommendations – January

January runs fast to an end and what have you read? I have read lots but nothing to share at the moment.  That is what happens when Christmas runs to January and January blows through your birthday!

I have read Louise Penny’s last book “Glass House”.  Her detective books carry you through a small village in Canada called Three Pines.  Book to book, the characters are developed, the meaning of integrity, art, relationships, and more are explored; all while wrapped around a mystery.  Not distinctly Christian but with all things that are truthful the books echo God’s voice from time to time.  Find a listing that gives you the books in order and read from the beginning.  Don’t stop if you don’t like a particular one–just keep reading.  There is treasure in them.

Beyond a mystery, I began to think you might want a challenge for the year. That challenge might be to read about a variety of Christian women.  Not to necessarily read their writings but to read about their lives in order to see the legacy they leave with us.

The first woman I would offer is Amy Carmichael. As a young child Amy prayed that God would change her brown eyes to blue.  She didn’t like her brown eyes!  God did not answer that prayer but instead called her to be a missionary to India where brown eyes were preferable.  She was a pioneer in her work as she dressed as the Indian women did.  She was not like other missionaries of her time that kept themselves separate from those they came to serve.

Here are some suggested books on Amy Carmichael:

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot

Amy Carmichael Abandoned to God by Sam Wellman

With Daring Faith  by Rebecca Davis.

Feel free to respond to your experiences of the books to the Crazy Book Lady at pwoolever@susumc.org.

Reviews & Recommendations for Advent

Many years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Richard Wurmbrand speak. (He was part of the beginning of the Voice of the Martys publication and web site)  Richard had been held in a concentration camp in Romania.  He said this about his time there, “Here in the United States, you have the words about the words about the words, there we had the Word.”

How many of us have the Word–living and dwelling in us?  Too often we depend on the preacher, the speaker, or the writer to have the words for us.  Scripture says “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you”  Colossians 3:16.

In this season of Advent, take a portion of scripture that God has laid on your mind and heart and ponder it as Mary pondered the words she heard (Luke 2:19). Reflect on it, chew on it (the word meditate means to chew the cud), and let it take root in your living.

To help you with reading the Word:

For those of you who love geography and are tired of reading place names that have no meaning for you, this is the book for you. With the Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines, not only will you be able to see where things were then but also where things are now.  For instance, did you know that “Antioch” where believers  were first called Christians is in modern day Turkey?

The Blue Letter Bible–this is an app that can be used with android and Apple. You will find commentaries, definitions, and much more.  Explore it and see if it helps you find your way through the Word.

If you want to go deeper into one particular book of the bible, then try  the Holman New Testament/Old Testament Commentary.   Not only will you be able to read one person’s insight into the text but you will also find definitions, teaching outlines, and issues for discussion.

Reviews & Recommendations – August

Keeping Place by Jen Pollock Michel

The subtitle to the book is “reflections on the meaning of home”. Having moved often the author reflects on home.  What is it?  How is it expressed by God?  What is the “work” of home?  How does it express holiness?

Since retiring I have been “down sizing”–that means sorting, giving, trashing. And all of that means making decisions about home.  I recently visited a long time friend and mentor who is now 90 years old.  She had just moved from a four bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment at a seniors housing.  I walked in and there it was;  with well chosen simplicity, her home.  It looked like her.  The essence of her expressed in this tiny space.  Her former home was now extended to those who chose a piece or two.  I now have the wicker chair where she taught me to pray.  It is part of my house–my spiritual home.

What is home? Read “Keeping Place”  to discover for yourself.  Jen will take you from our first home in the Garden to the home called Tabernacle and on to the home called church with a table called communion.  Then finally to a new heaven and earth.  I guarantee you will enjoy the journey.  May your home (not house) express the essence of Christ.

A little extra: If you want to explore your heart as Christ’s home, then get the little booklet:  My Heart Christ’s Home by Bob Munger.  It was written in the ’50’s by a pastor.  You can get it from Christian Book Distributers or down load it from the internet.

 

Improving with Age by Stuart & Jill Briscoe

Written by two leaders in the church who are in their 80’s, it is full of wisdom and humor. It is a great read for those about to retire or who are retired or who have retired persons in their circle.

Stuart and Jill share the joys and struggles of learning to age with grace and continue to be used by God in God’s work in our world. They also share the modern malady of seniors feeling marginalized by the church and what to do about that.

While there is no retirement for a follower of Jesus,  there are ever changing ways in our call to be his hands and feet in the world. Each chapter is followed with questions and reflections.  It can easily be used in a small group or Sunday School class.

One of my favorite chuckles: An old lady was pulled over by a policeman who asked her, “Do you know how fast you were traveling?”  “Oh no,” she replied, but it was very fast.  You need to understand, young man, that we older people have to drive very fast before we forget where we are going.” p.190

 

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

A great beach read from a Christian mystery writer…

If you want to learn about Greece and antiquities while living an adventure through Nick and Carey, then this is the book for you. You will learn about the Isle of Patmos, where John the Apostle wrote the Revelation, while experiencing the closeness of families in Greece.  You will see how Greece has changed with history and live through the struggles of a charter boat business.  While all this is going on,  there is intrigue and mystery.  Have fun!

 

The Book of Hours by Davis Bunn

This book is full if mystery, hidden clues, dealing with grief, and coming to faith.  Seven churches and their bells cause the reader to wonder if we still need the ancient tradition of bells to call us to hourly prayer. Clues lead a grieving widower on a journey of healing.  It is all there for you to savor!

Davis Bunn (1952) is an American author and grew up in North Carolina. He became an international financial expert and worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Bunn and his wife live in Oxford now. He is a novelist in residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.   Bunn is writer of historical fiction and legal thrillers, in which Christian faith plays a big part. (from Wikipedia)

 

 

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

This would make a long summer read of excellence. By excellence, I mean well written, well researched, and keeps you reading.  Now I must confess that I did not read it.  I listened to it on CD’s while I drove on long and short trips.

This is a story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, during World War II in France. The journey you take is one of family, choices, the dark side of humanity, courage, and persistence.  If you read the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (her family’s resolve to hide Jews) , then you will want also to read this.  It will cause you to think, to laugh, to cry, to rejoice, to lament.  Again if you read the Hiding Place this will give you an in depth picture of the hard choices that were made.  Unlike Corrie’s book, this is not gospel oriented but it is a picture of how I believe God used people to work to save in the midst of war.

God still works that way today. Where people are in dire straights in the world, pray for God to work through his church and through those in the world who will make courageous choices.   God is always at work even though we cannot see it!

Of course, if you haven’t read The Hiding Place, then please read it as well!

 

Reviews & Recommendations – June

The Inquisitors Tale by Adam Gidwitz

If you have a child or know a child in late elementary or middle school, you now have the perfect excuse to read to them without them knowing it is reallly for your enjoyment!  Steeped in his understanding of the history of the midieval ages, Adam Gidwitz unfolds a story that has God, a dragon, saints, a nun and a story of truth that runs through it.

Our first “member” of the church is a story of three magical children and their holy dog. The story takes place in an inn with the character of a story teller wanting to collect the stories of this group.  It unfolds from character to character as each person in the inn tells what they know.  You will hear about a saintly dog (and there actually is a dog that was a saint), a dragon, curious adventures, and ordinary children with gifts.  If you listen to the story, you will learn about truth, about the song God sings through creation, about grace and forgiveness,  and about love and acceptance.

The chapters are short so that it is a good before bed read or a read in the car while travelling.

The Art of Breathing by Gina Roes

My next “member” of the church is Gina Roes. In the Art of Breathing, Gina goes to the heart of all our desires–intimacy with God.  Knowing it or not, we all are wanting to go back to Eden where they walked in the garden with God and enjoyed that intimacy that meant life in all its fullness.  This side of Eden – we are all trying to survive.  In our survival we try to do it ourselves and we try whatever means are in front of us:  power, control, possessions, achievement, whatever will make us feel better about ourselves and keep us safe.  We try to numb the pain of  broken relationships, be that a relationship with ourselves, our family, and people who abuse us.  We numb the pain with sex, drugs, constant work, or the neatest and cleanest house in the neighborhood.  Gina takes the reader on a journey through it all to the heart of God.

This is not an easy read.  The reader needs to pause, to listen, to reflect, to soak it in.   The journey is more than worth it.

not R & Rbut added for flavor

Do you wonder what version of the Bible to read? You and I have been blessed with the Bible in our language and translated into our culture.  Like many things there are too many versions from which to choose.  Here is a suggestion:  The New Living Translation.  It is a translation from the original language, it is geared to a certain reading level, and it makes the text read in a way comfortable to modern language.  However, you may be more comfortable with another translation and that’s ok.

A means to enhance your bible reading is to go to Bible Gateway on your computer put in a text that you are reading and then read if from the variety of translations offered to you.  The variety of translations will help you to read more deeply and fully.  Here is an example: The King James Version (KJV) gives a verse this reading:  Be ye saved.  Now when you utilize other translations and resources from Bible Gateway you’ll see the greek word “saved” is a continual action verb and so is translated:  Keep on being saved.  So who we are with Jesus is not a once and done event but an ongoing journey.  Isn’t that lovely?  Be ye saved = Keep on being saved.  Reading the bible more deeply and having a fuller understanding can only be a benefit on our individual journeys!

 

Book Review and Recommendation Introduction

Who is this person sharing books with you? (You can skip this part and go right to the books!)

Crazy Book Lady here,and I have this unusual church.   It is not a denomination.  It has no pews, no organ or praise band.  It meets at all hours of the day.  I can drink coffee without fear of spilling.  And I only realized lately that it is my church.  Don’t misunderstand, I do attend a church of a denomination that meets on Sunday morning, that has a choir, drinks coffee in Sunday School, has VBS in the summer, and celebrates communion once a month.  This unusual church is my extended body of Christ and as close to me and as important to me as the one that gathers on a Sunday.  It is my library of books.  God has blessed me with an appetite to read, the time to read, and a husband that is patient with the Amazon bill that brings me the members of this church.

Each month, I’d like to introduce you to some of the members who sit on my shelves (or beside my chair or next to the bed or in the car) Yes, I can read in a traffic jam or waiting at the doctor’s office.  Not all the members of this church are followers of Jesus but God speaks through them and I listen.

Enjoy!

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