"The question is not whether you ever gave yourself to God, but whether you are His now." -Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward
By far, my most cherished read for 2014. This novel, once a journal, comforts like grandma's quilt, soothes like warm peppermint tea. It is not rare for me to open up this book and soak in His presence through Elizabeth's words. I find comfort knowing that for decades, centuries even, this reality remains: "..who for every three steps forward, took one backward."
In her journal, beginning at the age of 16 and ending in her 40's, Elizabeth transparently shares her journey of losing her dad, homemaking, motherhood, wifery, and pursuing Christ through it all. She shares the struggles and frustrations; the finding joy and finding Him in every crease and crevice of life - especially in the mundane tasks of making her home. She reminded me not to continue dwelling on the question, "am I glorifying you? Am I living righteously?" And instead just live...just pursue Him...just love Him.
It took me months, purposely, to finish this because I loved it so dearly. I mean it completely when I say that there are few words to describe how this moved me, how beautiful her heart is, and how much I need to read this every single year.
As Jen Hatmaker never fails to do, she ripped my heart out and inspired it towards His love and His goodness and His character. I did a full on detailed review of this a few months ago. You can read that here. Basically, I believe all Christians need to read this, be moved and motivated, and then go and love and give and sacrifice and experience the immense and unexplainable joy that follows. It is inevitable, people.
“I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with the particular things I have done as with the aspects of who I have become. I have a nagging sense that all is not as it should be.” "Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don't have."
-John Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted
Ortberg puts the reality of our flesh onto paper, writing it out just as I have seen and experienced my faulty self. He writes out that our "spiritual life" is not one segment of self, but all that we are - and this is a truth that I have loved: I cannot separate my spiritual self from myself...it all runs together.
The book cover? Yeah, it isn't that awesome. But the words typed into its pages surpass the cover's failed attempt at awesomeness. He oozes grace, his insights stick to your soul, his honest vulnerability is inspiring and offers hope.
I want to transform into beauty, beauty birthed from Christ. This book invites us into that life.
Loren did Jon Acuff's Empty Shelf challenge this year, which he easily accomplished. Loren is the best reader I know! He reads almost a book every two weeks -- he doesn't skim them, he reads them. He read approximately 30 books this year. His favorite:
When I asked Loren why it was his favorite, this is all he gave me: "Because it was flippin awesome." There you have it, friends.
What were you favorite reads?