My January Reading List

"I don't know how to go to bed without reading, and what I want to read at bedtime is story, good story about interesting people who do brave and honorable and sometimes impossible deeds, and this gives me the courage to be braver myself and to dare things I might otherwise hold back from."
Madeleine L'Engle

Honestly, I get discombobulated when I don't begin my day with Scripture or finish the day with a few pages in a good book. It cannot always happen, of course, what with sick babies and big moves, but that is the ideal I strive for. Reading is an honor and a great way to challenge your mind if you choose your material well. One mama mentor of mine said her mind never went to mush while raising four kids because she read well and wide.

Back in December, I finally compiled my reading list for the entire year of 2016. It was a big job, but I loved doing it so you could have a curated list to choose your own reading. The best recommendations are from friends, don't you think?

It does something deep within my soul to see all the places I have been in the pages of books I have read. Those thoughts formed into words from another heart become impressions on my heart, informing and shaping my faith, work and life.

I realized after that long and beautiful list, it might have helped you to have a few books at a time. You can glean a new story for you bedside table all along the way as I often find my next book among the pages of a current one.

So, I made it part of my writing plan to compile my list for you at the end of each month still on the way to a comprehensive year-long list. Plus, I want to hear your recommendations so this way we will have more chances to recommend to each other.

Here is my humble list for the month of January.

The Rock that is Higher (Story as Truth) by Madeleine L'Engle

This book was written toward the end of Madeleine's life after she had been in a near-fatal car crash in her eighties. I always want to hear what a wise heart has to say after so much life, loss and love for Christ especially if a long and happy marriage was part of the story. And if it is Madeleine L'Engle with her writer-artist heart, all the better.

Madeleine reveals much of her interior landscape as a Christ follower, writer, wife and creative throughout her gracious life, but particularly during the raw beginnings of her recovery.

She writes,

"My only prayer was the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me) and that was there for me because it had been part of my inner rhythm for many years."

Much of her faith habits made me think more about my inner rhythms. Ever since Mike's heart surgery almost three years ago, I have been on a path to more intentional soul keeping.

Visioneering (God's Blueprint for Determining and Maintaining Vision) by Andy Stanley

This book was recommended at the Hope*Writer Workshop I attended back in November. At that time, I made reading it part of my 90-day direction. I will be flabbergasted if this does not make it to my top ten favorites for the year.

In "Visioneering", I learned the ins and outs of having a vision for your work, your family and your marriage. To me, the best books cast both a principle to meet and the practical workings of what it looks like to get there. This book does both.

Did you know gaps are a normal part of the vision process? Gaps are uncomfortable and frequently tempt me to let go of my dream, but God does His best work here. This book is told alongside one of my favorite books of the Bible, the story of Nehemiah, and reminds me that God calls individuals and builds resilience into weary bones when we face the canyons.

One of my favorite lines about gaps in the vision process,

"How is God's specialty . . . How is never a problem for God . . . God has the how all worked out. What He needs is the who."

Be the who.

Run, don't walk to your favorite bookstore.

Rhythms of Rest (Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World) by Shelly Miller

In a world gone crazy with rush and productivity, Shelly's is a voice of a soul keeper. She created the Sabbath Society, an online group of believers trying to carve out identity and rest in God and His presence rather than achievement, to-do lists or the harried demands of a loud world.

You will enjoy the vulnerable way Shelly captures the delight of Sabbath preparation and nesting into the arms of God. She threaded her own story of establishing Sabbath rhythms during a long time of waiting on God for a move to London (She knows about the gaps in a vision!). Funny how that works, reading books about books you're reading.

I will be visiting this book many times to remind me to be creative and joyful in keeping a Sabbath heart.

Katharina and Martin Luther (The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk) by Michelle DeRusha

I am always fascinated by the lives of women in another era, especially resilient women of faith. This is the story of Katharina de Bora, a nun who ran away from the convent where her father paid for her to live out her life, and Martin Luther, the monk that led the Protestant Reformation. They may have married for theology and practicality, but fell in love as they raised their six children and enjoyed each otehr's companionship.

Talk about how life turns out so far from what you imagined! Kat was a Catholic nun turned Protestant Reformation mama running a scholarly boarding house to save herself and her growing family.

I had the honor and happiness to be on the launch team for this book which means I got to peek behind-the-scenes into the author's craft. Michelle told us of standing among the stacks of books to research at the start of the project so overwhelmed that she came home in tears. Her husband believed she could do it no matter how high the stacks. She went on to write a book about an unlikely and strong marriage from the strength of her own marriage.

This book hits the shelves on January 31. Preorder now and have it on your doorstep before next weekend.

I end this month's list with one more book that I am in the middle of. The last days of the month don't always coincide with the last pages of a book. That's real life.

This one is Dallas Willard, so take it slow.

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Help me build my February booklist by sharing yours. How do you practice soul keeping and what are you reading?

Happy reading by the fire.

*I have curated this list for you with affiliate links.