Showing posts with label a good read. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a good read. Show all posts

The Family Book of Advent

I was contacted to write my first book review on this blog! Hard to explain how excited this made me. Not only that, but the book came in the mail and I adore the book. Whew. It's a book about family together time and preparing our hearts for Christmas. Basically my favorite two things in one book.

The book is called The Family Book of Advent by Carol Garborg. I love Advent. Advent is what the month of December is supposed to be about: preparation, contemplation, expectancy, joyful anticipation. Our Savior is soon to be born. He came in a very strange way. None of us would have written the story this way: The King of the Universe born in a bunch of straw in a dusty stable. The whole story can become cliche if we're not careful. The shepherds right next to the wise men right next to the barnyard animals might seem normal by now. But this was not a normal moment. From the moment everything fell apart in the Garden of Eden, all of creation was waiting for this little babe to be born. And here He comes. God with us. Emmanuel. That's what Advent is all about.

The book has a lesson for the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas. Each day has a short written lesson, an interactive advent activity, a thoughtful question for conversation and a short prayer. The very back of the book has a list of props and supplies you will need for the 25 days of advent activities, so in theory you could look through this list, make note of what you don't have on hand and run to Target one time to be prepared for all 25 days. Now if that doesn't make you feel like a super-mom, I don't know what will.

The Family Book of Advent seems most appropriate for elementary and possibly middle school aged kids.  But I'm going to try it with my family. I don't think you can start too young for family devotions and dinner table traditions leading up to Christmas.

The book is available on amazon by clicking here. And on the Christian Book website here.

Christmas and a baby

My friend Beth wrote a great blog post yesterday that I think you'll enjoy. It made me laugh hard as not only am I trying to right my habits after Christmas cookie season, but I'm also trying to get some sort of plan together in order to 1) work off this extra baby-love on my body, 2) get a shower in each day and 3) to change out of my pajama pants by suppertime.

Click here to read Beth's post entitled: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

so long, insecurity.

I finished Beth Moore's latest book 'So Long Insecurity this weekend. Now, I have to say, it is rare for me to find a book that I loath. Usually I just enjoy a writers efforts and add it to my 'like' list. But then there are some that I love. Love. LOVE.

This book by Beth Moore is a new favorite, hanging out in that LOVE category with a few other life changers. Beth writes very conversationally, so the book zips by...she uses lots of good stories and examples and has very strategic steps for overcoming this debilitating condition that cripples all of us from time to time.

The whole time while reading it I was making my list of who I would pass it on to. But at some point I became attached to this book and I'm not ready to part with my own copy now. It's too marked up. Plus, I have a feeling I'm going to need to keep this one on the shelf as more of a quick reference for the rest of my life.

So head on out and get your copy. I had to take the cover off of mine because Beth's picture was a little large for my liking, but the content is incredible. Enjoy!

on my nightstand...

I'm reading some great books right now, and just want to pass them along. I just finished Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" and ate the thing up. It's a really interesting premise...all about how to look at your life as a story, and then really figuring out if you're living a compelling, interesting narrative. His own story takes off, after he is confronted by two guys who want to make his first memoir into a movie and they all realize his life just isn't that compelling on the screen. So he makes very intentional decisions as to what parts of his story he wants to put to the side for a while, and what parts he wants to pursue because there is mystery, intrigue and perhaps some good personal character development potential along the way.

I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I started reading the first page.

I'm halfway through Beth Moore's "So Long Insecurity" and that's about right. I'd say about half the time I'm still dealing with this horrible vice, and the other half of the time I'm feeling good and full of confidence :) Here's to hoping the last half will get me to the place where I can say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and gosh-darn-it, people like me."

Sara sent me Madeleine L'Engle's "Waking on Water." The funny thing is that Sara had me read this when I worked for her and I remember devouring it then. And now as I read it a second time, I can't believe how new every thought and page is. This book is changing my thinking on vocation and how I can use my gifts more intentionally. Paired with Donald Miller's book, these two are giving me lots and lots to chew on.

And finally, "What to expect" has become a staple. My baby is six inches head to rump right now, which makes me feel good and productive. People still are surprised I am five months along, so I try to stick my belly out a bit extra when I tell people I'm five months now. It helps with the large, drawn-out, "You don't look five months!" It's funny how that should be flattering, and yet I always am left feeling like maybe I'm not eating enough or giving this baby enough room. Next Thursday we have our ultrasound and I can't wait for the doctor to kindly tell me everything is looking good in there.

Happy reading everybody!

donald miller this week...

I read Donald Miller's blog every day. He's got good stuff to say and I really love how he writes.

This week he posted excerpts from a book he is re-releasing with some new material called 'Father Fiction.' If you're kicking back with your computer today and looking for some compelling stuff to chew on, I'd recommend going back to Monday's post and starting there.

But yesterday he posted a provocative post on choosing your friends, and if you only have time for one reading, read this one. I appreciated what he wrote, and then I really appreciated the comments others wrote after reading his post. Just thought I'd pass it along.

but you don't have to take my word for it...

I have a Reading Rainbow book recommendation. I was asked to preach at a church during Lent and this congregation was basing their sermon series on Max Lucado's latest book, Fearless. My favorite book of all time is Lucado's, You are Special. Sure it's a picture book, probably geared towards 12 year olds, but every time I read that one I am convicted and reminded to stop this insane attempt to live my life for the approval of others.

Strangely, I've never read any of Lucado's other books. (Like the grown up kind, geared towards adults...) But this was a great read, full of stories and lots to chew on. I was happy that writing the sermon for this church forced me to read something I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own.

The book is all about living life with less fear. My word for the year is Trust, and I think about this often. Especially having a baby inside of me that I constantly have to Trust is growing healthy and strong. Fear can seep in amazingly fast if I let my mind wander, but I refuse to waste my time on what-if's. I choose trust.

The back of the book says, "Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, and doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, when you could trust more and fear less. Can you imagine your life without fear?" Just think: we are invited and asked by God himself to Fear Not. God has called us to Trust.

It's a good read, and was full of opportunities to give my fears over to the one who invites all who are weak and heavy laden to come to Him for rest.

some more short stories

I wrote earlier about my new found love of the short story and how I am on a quest to find more great short story authors. Well, my first attempt was horrible. I got an audio book from the library because the title had god and love in it and it seemed like it would be good. But the whole first story was sick and immoral, lame and so unoriginal I didn't bother finishing the first story, let alone suffer through the others.

So this weekend I went another route. I have had these American Girl books around since I was ten and decided to read them through this weekend. They were so good, I was left seriously wanting my own Kirsten doll! Might just have to have a little girl before I can actually justify myself getting a doll at age 28. But, if you have a little girl, you must read these books to her. Maybe it's because I'm Swedish and from Minnesota and have great great grandparents who came to America to make a farming life for themselves, but I really enjoyed these sweet stories.

And then, on Saturday, I got the MOST WONDERFUL package in the mail. My friend Amanda had read my shout out for good short stories and sent me this book! She said she saw it at the bookstore and just decided to get it. Honestly, an unexpected, thoughtful gift might just be one of life's greatest surprises. I can't wait to crack this one. Thanks so much Amanda!


I always wanted to go into ministry of some sort. I remember telling people if I could find a job that combined kids, Jesus and the outdoors, then I would have found my perfect fit.

So camp ministry seemed like an easy choice. My favorite conversation is wondering 'how the faith is passed on.' Camp Ministry is this conversation lived out in real time between counselors and campers (and often visaversa!).

Lots of my gifts fit this job well. But there is one part of this job that I just haven't felt equipped for yet. Managment. Overseeing and managing 70 college students who have campers on five different site at Carol Joy Holling, not to mention the other two camps we run and the numerous day camp groups that all go just a lot to take on. I like to have a good feel for what is going on at each site, with each counselor, with each camper. But with this big of an operation, we have to rely on systems of communication, empowering and entrusting our site coordinators who head up each site. And make sure that our ten days of staff training paint a picture of the summer ahead that excites, motivates and raises responsible, creative counselors.

To say this overwhelms me, is a serious understatement.

So I've done some reading lately, trying to build my own knowledge and abilities for the job I feel called to do. I want to do it well.

The first book I read is called, "Leadership and Self Deception" a book published by the Arbinger Institute. It was a quick read, written in story form. I took a lot from this book and felt convicted many times. Central to the main theme of this book is how we assign blame to others when we feel (and know) we, ourselves, have fallen short. And how this human habit of casting the blame often leads to feeling like the victim and feeling like others around you are incompetent and lazy. All actions and motivations will stem from this attitude overtime, and we can either sit in our misery and frustration, or see our coworkers as human beings and decide to jump on board and help the cause of the organization. This is a complete general overview of the book, and honestly just one tinsy's more of a whole concept to take in.

The second book I read this week is called, "Tribes" by Seth Godin. I have followed Seth's blog for a year now, and this book was just as insightful and helpful as his daily blog posts. This book is a motivator, helping the reader see how they can be a leader no matter where they fall in the hierarchy of their workplace. And how creative change, new ideas and belief in a cause will always be more interesting to be a part of than the status quo. I got a collection of Seth's books from my coworker, Casey, and I have already cracked the next book in the stack. He's fun to read and gets lots of wheels turning in my head all at the same time

If you have any other helpful books on how to lead, how to organize a team of 70 college students, how to motivate and empower, please comment below. I'm wide open and ready to learn.

the short story...

Rory gave me this book for Christmas. We saw the movie Sweetland just after we got married at a movie theatre in Duluth. I was then working at the nursing home and was on a mission to record the life stories of my residents. When we saw this movie, I was is the life story of a hardworking farming couple in Minnesota. It basically was the story I had heard over and over at the nursing home, and seeing it in movie form made me sentimental and grateful. I cried so hard during the credits it was socially awkward.

So this Christmas, Rory got me this book, a collection of short stories by Will Weaver, one of which was the original story that the movie, Sweetland, was based upon.

I read this book in a few days. And I feel like I discovered a new friend: the short story! I remember reading short stories in school once in a while, but those stories were assigned, and I never really have appreciated any assigned reading, just because it was assigned. But this book was delightful...each story based on midwestern folk, stories that felt true to life and human nature.

I'd recommend it. The back cover describes the books as "a vivid portrait of swirling, intergenerational changes in the Midwest," and each story carries this theme in someway. (There is one story that doesn't fit in with the others, but I'll let you read it to figure that out!)

So here's my question: Does anyone have any other favorite collections of short stories to share? I feel like I just stumbled upon a new favorite pasttime...sort of like finding a new 30 minute tv show you doesn't take a lot of time, but it does the trick when you need to clear your mind.

Anyway, if you have a favorite book or author that writes good short stories, please, share! I'd love to stay on this short story kick for a while.

cold tangerines

My friend Shannon got me this book for Christmas. It's a easy and thoughtful read filled with stories and life lessons. I love it. I'm just a few chapters in and decided to save it for Mesa. It seems to be the perfect 'get away' read.

This link brings you to the book's website, where you can click on a link to read a quick chapter to get a feel for her style.

***edited: I wrote all of these posts on Tuesday night, but now it's Saturday morning and I have finished this it on the airplane and devoured it. If you're looking for a good book, order this one and start passing it around your circle of friends.

A Reading Rainbow book recommendation

I just finished a book I began late last night. That's the sign of a good, good read. I'm sure many of you have read this one, but if any of you have not, I highly recommend this is quick, fast paced story that offers so much to chew on.

It's all about hell and heaven and the conversations that might lead from one to the other. There is so much to take away from this book, but my favorite is a new image of what hell might be like. Lewis writes of how quarrelsome everyone is:

"As soon as anyone arrives he settles in some street. Before he's been there twenty-four hours he quarrels with his neighbour. Before the week is over he's quarrelled so badly that he decides to move. Very likely he finds the next street empty because all the people there have quarrelled with their neighbours- and moved. If so he settles in. If by chance the street is full, he goes further. But even if he stays it makes no odds. He's sure to have another quarrel pretty soon and then he'll move on again. Finally he'll move right out to the edge of the town and build a new house. You see, it's easy here. You've only got to think a house and there it is. That's how the town keeps growing leaving more and more empty streets." (Lewis, 10)

I've always thought of hell as 'apart from God' but this offers such a visual of what existence would be like without the relational tools God has give us such as forgiveness, reconciliation, patience, honesty and kindness. Without these gifts, we are only left with our selfish demands and trying to live with everyone else's selfish demands. In our own lives we see our own and everyone else's selfish demands everyday, but thank God for the ability to work things out, for honesty and truthful communication, and that God created us to be relational beings, set up in communities so that we must learn how to use these God-instructed gifts.

Good perspective for the day

I love reading anything by Donald Miller. Most people know him for his book Blue Like Jazz, a candid testimony that I found startling and refreshing...similar to Anne LaMott's Traveling Mercies. I tend to drop by his blog frequently and he just posted another chapter from his next book. Like any good tease, I cannot wait for this book to come out. The chapter is super short and so worth your time. Bop on over to his blog. You'll be glad you did.