Even though February is only missing three days at most from other months, it sure is a short one that takes me by surprise every year…well…every three years and then we get an extra curve thrown with the Leap Year nonsense.
So last night, I worked extra hard and finished my third book for the month. In fairness I am halfway through two others but those will be on March’s review.
Working from bottom to top in this stack, here are some thoughts on each one that I read.
When Russ and I were in Florida we visited the Bradenton Public Library. I know. We are pretty wild when we are on vacation. Actually we both love to see libraries in other communities and this one featured a sale room of old books.
It was quite a large selection and the books ranged from 50 cents to a couple of dollars. I saw this mystery book called For the Birds and since it was from Guideposts publications I figured it was safe for me.
In case you are new here, I determined a number of years ago that fiction is not a great reading choice for me. My imagination is too overactive and I tend to get pulled into the story in a way that is not healthy. I am very selective about how and what I read with regards to fiction. I am currently reading the Lord of the Rings series, but I limit my reading time to 50 pages or less in a day.
Apparently this “Secrets of the Blue Hill Library” is a series written by various authors under the pseudonym “Emily Thomas.” The book was super light and fun to read. It had a lot of information about birds and bird watching which was interesting.
Definitely won’t change your life, and I will be donating but it was a fun vacation read and didn’t interrupt my real interactions with people because I was vicariously living in another world.
If you don’t have a problem with fiction, good on you. But if you have ever felt like maybe it has an unhealthy place in your mind, I hope you will consider selecting non-fiction for the lion’s share of your reading.
The second book in the pile is “come sit with me” and is written by a number of women who contribute to the ministry of (in)Courage. The sub-line for the title is “How to Delight in Differences, Love through Disagreements and Live with Discomfort.”
That second title helps a lot to understand the purpose of the book. All the writings are about relationship glitches and how God used them in each author’s journey.
In each chapter, we are told the story of a challenging time in some relationship and then at the end of each story there are some questions to help you process your own thoughts that may have been stirred. These are under two headings: Questions to ask yourself and Questions to ask God.
Forgiveness, rejection, envy, betrayal, age gaps, parents…each story hits home as over the years we accumulate a lot of experiences of working through the hard things to maintain or dissolve relationships.
I turned back the corners on quite a few pages that I will return to and review. I also found the questions at the end very helpful in not just reading and then forgetting, but applying lessons learned to bring healing and growth and maturity in my own relationship challenges.
This would be a good book to read with a friend or several trusted friends and really discuss your thoughts and discoveries. Accountability would enhance the process of growth.
I recommend this one and will be keeping for further reference.
The last book I read was Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland.
I received this book as a gift for Christmas and had heard so many good reports about it already that I was excited to have a copy.
The whole book is about understanding the heart of Christ and thus the heart of God and the Holy Spirit.
I wept so many times with the overwhelming way God loves us. The Trinity is God and each has a heart that first leads with love and compassion. Even though God is also just, and those who reject Him completely will receive His wrath – His first inclination is to love, extend mercy and grace, save, rescue, comfort.
Ortland is clear throughout every page – when we are broken and weak and feel like a failure, we are deeply loved and God reaches out to us with more compassion than we could ever understand.
There were so many impacting passages in this book, but one of the most healing for me was when I just closed the pages on one chapter I was reading and took the promises for face value.
I quietly bowed my head and told Jesus how much I struggle with something in the area of relationships that I don’t understand. I confessed how I flounder and succumb to feelings I do not want to have and I know they are not God-honoring or healthy yet I am overwhelmed by feelings of rejection and failure time and again and my response is never good inwardly nor outwardly.
I basically told Him that I feel like an utter and complete jerk most of the time and since I have prayed to be un-jerkified and He has not answered, maybe if I just came with the brokenness and ugliness I feel, we could just start there.
As I shared my frustration with myself in prayer, I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion and love pouring back over me like nothing I have felt before. I felt in my spirit as if He was just sitting with me, with His arm around me and quietly listening and I realized that the deep root I have is not so much bitterness as an unhealed wound buried somewhere within me.
I felt in my spirit a simple understanding that I am not so much mean as I am hurting. And I felt the hurting places were understood and comforted and tended. I have never identified my struggle for the painful thing it actually is and in prayer, it was shown to me for what it is.
I didn’t feel the need to explain to myself why I hurt, I just felt Jesus comforting the places that do hurt and it was more helpful in bringing change than trying to overcome my struggle with reasoning and will power.
Another wonderful revelation was that Jesus’ compassion and His sorrow over things that happen to us is pure. We hear news that is hard or sad and we feel to a certain level some compassion and empathy. But our response is imperfect because we are imperfect.
Ortland reminded me as I read that when someone I love is hurting or betrayed, while I care deeply, we have a Savior who cares perfectly and who is interceding for that one I love so much. He loves them more and in holiness and purity.
What a blessed comfort this is.
I do recommend this book to everyone.
It is filled with Scripture and is a beautiful reminder of our loving God who never gives up on us.
Hope you read some good ones last month…be sure and share with others what you are learning!