Most of the time I prefer stories over self-help type books, but I've learned to expand my palate a bit over the years. Since my teen years there have been a few books that have big time impacted my life, so I thought I'd share them with you in case you're looking for a good read. These aren't my "just for fun" books, but they are books that totally changed my life. Just typing this makes me want to go back and read them all over again!! Yep, they are that good.
1. Perpetua: A Bride, A Martyr, A Passion by Amy Rachel Peterson.
I first read this book when Addy was just a baby. It left a ginormous mark on my life. Perpetua is the story a real woman who was martyred in Carthage in 203 AD. Perpetua kept a diary during her imprisonment. This novel is based off of that diary and expanded to include the three years between her conversion to Christianity and her execution. She was a noblewoman, a wife, and a new mother when she gave away her life for Christ. Reading this as a new mother myself made it all the more impacting. It was Perpetua's joy to give everything for Jesus. Do I count it all as joy to live for Him? Wow. Challenging stuff. This is a truly beautiful book that I will never forget. Now if I could just remember who I loaned it to last.... :)
2. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. I.LOVE.THIS.BOOK. Richard Stearns left a powerful corporate job to become the president of World Vision. In this book he asks us to really look at what God expects of us. Is our faith just about attending church and living "good" lives? Or does God expect more from us? This book inspired me to really open my eyes, really open my heart and live a life wide awake to what the Father is asking of me. The Western church has a hole in it's Gospel. We have forgotten the poor, the broken, the destitute. What do we plan to do about it? I am telling you, this book is not to be missed.
Christ has no body on earth by yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
-St. Teresa of Avila
3. In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen.
Jed tried to get me to read this book for so long. I kept passing it up, assuming it wasn't my style. The title didn't grab me, I knew the author was an intellectual...no thanks! I don't like to have to think too hard when I'm reading. :) But, then Jed described the premise for the book and I decided to give it a whirl. I'm so glad I did!!
Henri Nouwen was a well-known priest and teacher of spirituality and psychology at Harvard and Yale for 20 years. He was successful and admired by many. As he says in the book, "As I entered my fifties...I came face to face with the simple question, 'Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?'" Nouwen decided he didn't like the way his life was headed and he wanted more. So, when presented with the opportunity to become the priest for a community of disabled adults he said yes. Thus began his new life learning what is truly important. He gave away notoriety and fame to serve the ones who our society sees as the least. This book is his reflections on leadership from the perspective of serving that community. It's an easy read and chalk full of gems. Read it!!!
4. (Honorable Mention) The Mark of a World Changer by Ron Luce.
This book was the first book I ever read that really hit me in the guts. I read it during my junior year in high school, and then again during my senior year. My life was changed. Of course it's totally written for teenagers and I'm sure if I read it now I would laugh at it's cheesiness, but it truly impacted my life.
During my high school years I went on mission trips every summer with an organization called Teen Mania. This book was written by the founder of Teen Mania, Ron Luce. It's all about living for Jesus- sold out for Him- every day. As a teenager who was prone to hopping from from the spiritual high of one youth conference to another, this book called me out. Living for Jesus is not just about what feels good. Living for Jesus is about giving everything for Him- even when you don't feel like it.
We've sold so much of our stuff along this journey to Ukraine. All of our stuff fits in our two bedrooms. Can you believe this book has made it through all the stuff-purging? Oh yeah baby. It was that life-changing. Maybe I'm saving it for my kids, or maybe I just need to keep it around to remind me of the time when Jesus first grabbed a hold of me for good. Regardless of the reason, there is no way I could ever get rid of that book. It's full of cheese, but it's also full of truth.
So, what have you been reading lately? Do you have any great book recommendations that had a big impact on your life? Lay 'em on me!