Showing posts from 2017

43. Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham

I continue to be so impressed by this author. He rates pretty high up there in my book. I get totally lost in his stories!
The new television adaptation follows the books much more closely than the 70's version. 
It is interesting to hear that Caroline is the one who is tall with red hair in the books! So different from both television versions. 

42. Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

I have read two other John Ortberg books (well three, if you count Living in Christ's Presence which is a transcript of a conference he did with Dallas Willard), and I always enjoy them. He has a very casual and easy writing style. This is a foundational book if one wants to understand the care of the soul. It is also very sweet because it is somewhat of an ode to his mentor, Dallas Willard. It chronicles their relationship over the years until Dallas' death in 2013. 

We often joke that John Ortberg is "Dallas for Dummies" as sometimes Dallas is difficult for people to understand. (But so worth the investment of time to get to understanding.)  Much of this book is a simpler version of book #41 on my 2017 reading list, The Renovation of the Heart. I adored that book, and I adore this book as well. They are both worth an investment of time with this book perhaps being a good place to start as it is more accessible. I also highly recommend, The Good and Beautiful God whi…

41. Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard

This might just be my favorite book by Dallas Willard. I suppose Living in Christ's Presence if really my favorite, but that is a transcript from a conference, and they made a book out of it. So it is a little different.

This is The Divine Conspiracy with feet on it. It is about spiritual transformation. It is lovely in every way, and I highly recommend it.

I listened to the audiobook, and it is a treat because it is actually Dallas Willard reading the book in his peaceful and calm voice.

40. Demelza: A Novel of Cornwal,l 1788-1790 (The Poldark Saga #2)

I wanted to listen to the audiobook of this so I waited and waited while I had it on hold. That meant almost a three month break between books. I wish I had just started to read the hardcopy that my husband had picked up for me back in April. 
Still waiting for the audiobook, I finally started reading that hard copy (yes, he kept renewing the checkout) last weekend, and I could not put it down! THEN, my audiobook came in while I was about 1/4 of the way through, and I finished it quickly. Needless to say, I am NOT going to wait for the audiobook of the third book (they did not have it so I had a purchase request that they fulfilled, but there were two people in front of me) and go pick up the hard copy that is waiting at the library.

The story is so compelling. Graham is a superb writer. This narration was not as good as the first one which was narrated by a man. This one was by a woman, and I just did not like how she portrayed Ross Poldark's voice. But many of the other voices wer…

IndepenDANCE Day Freewrite 2017

Yes, I know how to spell Independence, but I misspelled it in my journal today, and God whispered that "Independence makes you DANCE!" :) 

I feel a little freer this morning after some pointed conversation with God. Stemming from 2 Chronicles 15:17 in Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship 

"May I remove the places of idolatry from my life, and like King Asa, let my heart be fully committed (blameless) to You all my days."
I sensed that "still, small voice" say, "Your #1 place of idolatry is people." 
Yes, people, their inclusion and somewhat their approval. Dallas Willard quoted George Mueller (Dallas and George are both literary mentors for me) in the book I am reading. I learned this quote in the early 80's, and it used to be on my wall:
"There was a day when I died: - Died to George Mueller: to his tastes, his opinions, his preferences and his will - Died to the world - its approval or censure. - Died to the approval or b…

39. The Global Refugee Crisis: How Should We Respond?

A fascinating pro/con look at the refugee crisis with the transcript of the debate and pre-debate interviews of the four participants. I learned quite a bit. They poll the audience before and after and the difference is quite substantial with one side winning the audience over with their argument. They certainly helped me decide!

38. It's Not OK: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After

I am embarrassed to say that I even read this book! It certainly was not one I would ever buy or even put on hold for that matter.

I was at the library last Sunday, and I already had a pile of books on Iran (going there this summer), Farsi language CDs, a book on the Appalachian trail, numerous Iranian films, and a book about introverts in church. This book was on display at the end of one of the library shelves, and I threw it in the pile.

Since I have worked with women who have come out of abusive relationships, I wanted to get inside this woman's head.

This franchise has always intrigued me. So, I thought an inside perspective would help me understand why anyone would want to do a show like that.

I came away thinking: she is a very shallow, immature person. If she wanted to make her ex-fiancé look bad, she did that; but she made herself look even worse. I feel so sorry for her. She is not very self-reflective and takes no personal responsibility for anything. I feel like she is a …

37. The Great Omission by Dallas Willard

This book is part of the Renovaré Institute curriculum. So I thought I would read/listen to it before the school started. This is a compilation of articles and talks that Dallas Willard gave over many years about Jesus' final commandment to "make disciples of all the nations." I liked it!

36. Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power by Burchard

I must have clicked on this guy from an ad on Facebook, and it linked to this six minute video:

In this video, he talks about six things behind motivation (that are fleshed out in p. 57-66 of the book):

1. Ambition - the choice to be, have, do, or experience something greater in our lives. By deeply contemplating higher aims, we energize ourselves to pursue them.

2. Expectancy - a choice to believe that our dreams are possible and that we can achieve them. Desire without belief in self is ultimately deflating.

3. Focus (Attention) - Giving our ambitions consistent mental attention keeps the drive alive, our energies swirling win anticipation. Don't let the distractions of the day steal mental focus. Real downfall: distraction. We mustn't let our dreams die in the daylight because we lose focus while responding to the world's lame interests or false emergencies. We mustn't take our eyes off of our goal.

4. Effort - Choice to continue…

35. Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton, and Liesveld

This is the Clifton StrengthsFinder for churches. It was helpful, but I hear the regular Clifton StrengthsFinder book gives you test results that are more detailed.

I had purchased this in 2012 because a woman who is an expert on this was coming to the Shalom Prayer Center to teach a four week class. I was so excited and willing to drive up to Mt. Angel four Tuesday nights in a row to learn (since Learner is my #1 Signature Theme). Alas, I was the only one who signed up for the class so it was canceled. This book was required for the class, and my library did not have it. I had already shelled out the money and bought it at the higher price in the Shalom Prayer Center Bookstore. Drat. Hardcover, new, and not at a discount. Then the class was canceled! A year later, my ministry team purchased the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book for everyone on the team. So, my husband was given the book. I wish I had retaken the test and used the more detailed test, but I didn't want to be greedy and have…
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

34. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Thurber

It is short and sweet and gets inside the head of someone who escapes in his thoughts. I am not one to do that, but I hear other people are, and it fascinates me! Interesting story.

33. Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little

I downloaded this in April as a Free Book of the Month from (Great company, by the way, and they have their big half-yearly sale going on right now with 7.49 for most books. I am not paid to say that either!) I am waiting for some audiobook holds from the library, and it is a short book. I think I read this in college. I am not a big apologetics person, but I love how this book is chock-full of Scripture. Lloyd James is a very pleasant narrator too. This will give you the basics of Christianity. The nurse during my acupuncture appointment said she has the whole set of his books, but she has never read them. I think I inspired her!

32. The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton

This is my third time reading through this book as I discuss it with a woman I have been meeting with for several years. I really love it, and reading through it this time, I realize how much of the principles in the book are so deeply ingrained in me that I forgot that I learned them from this book. I think I read it back in the 90s. It is probably my favorite book on leadership development. I use his "time lines" when I take people through the SHAPE process (Spiritual Gifts, Heart Passions, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences), as it is very helpful for people to see patterns and life stages of their own development. I highly recommend this book.

31. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I had never read anything by an African author so this was very educational. I found it was very slow in parts, but I think that was because of the narrator more than anything else. So, I put it up to 1.25 speed, and it went much better for me! 

I thought it was much more interesting once I got to the part about the missionaries coming and being super culturally insensitive to the people and their customs and way of life. When Western imperialism was added, it became a very interesting conclusion to the story because things fell apart! 

This is usually on lists of classic books to read. So I am glad that I read it for with my Book Dames group. I will add more once we discuss it in mid-July.

30. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Words cannot expressed how much I loved this book. The writing is very engaging, and it is hard to believe that this book is the first novel by this author.

This story is about a woman in the modern day, and her great-great grandmother in the early 1900's. It is about women, and the things they go through in this patriarchal culture.
I have dear friends from Afghanistan. I hope they can read, and we can discuss it!
I am so surprised that predicted with "high confidence" that I probably would not like this book. This could not be farther than the truth.
Here is a really interesting radio interview with the author:

29. A Man Called Ove by Frerik Backman

This is an absolutely dear book. I loved it. It makes you laugh out loud and cry. I love his evolution. You learn why he is the way he is, and you learn about love.  Beautiful story in every way. I highly recommend it. The narrator on this version is also excellent.
This is the rare occasion where I saw the movie before I read the book. I noticed it was on Amazon Prime, and we had a free evening. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award and is a faithful rendering of the book. You will enjoy that also. :)

Here is the trailer:

28. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

This is an eye-opening and informative book, important for Americans to read. We need to rethink incarceration in this country. He brought out some key points about the disproportionate number of black people in prison, being put there without proper legal representation. This book was hard to get through because some of the stories made me, literally, sick to my stomach!  
Bryan Stevenson is a hero and a person of faith who exemplifies that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). I found this article about him informative on this point:
The only criticism about this book would be that he sometimes ventures too far into the legal minutiae of many court cases, but it is a great book, and I stayed up late to finish it. It makes me want to do something about this terrible problem we have in this country. But what? How?

27. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

I was a bit confused listening to this audiobook at first, but once the actual story commenced it was much more interesting. What a doomed mission! It hurt my heart to see them go off into the Polar unknown based on misinformation. It is hard to believe there was a time when you could not communicate with the developed world when you would go off on an expedition.

The last hour of the book was excruciating painful to listen to.

From now on are spoilers. So quit reading if you don't want to
find out what happened.

Many of the men survived as they were separated into three separate parties. One of the parties, including the captain, did not survive.  It was so sad, but it was very interesting.

Thursday Thirteen Freewrite

Life has been so full that I have not even had time to do a freewrite. I looked at my calendar today, and after a totally packed Wednesday, I had all day free. Hopefully, I will not fritter it away. But I have been up since about 4:30, and I have not done the best job at focusing. So, I am focusing by writing out my thoughts.

Nothing particular is on my mind. I had a hard beginning of last week, but I chose to "rejoice and be glad" as Psalm 96 directs. It was a choice. I took pictures of beautiful things and looked for Your goodness everywhere. Then I got to work and Dee said, "I am not using my classroom today if you want to use it." And I DID! I "had a ball" in my Pilates I class instead of having to drag all the balls across the gym.  Many other things happened that day that showed me that I didn't need to be down in the dumps.
You see, I discern things in other people. And while I am very grateful for being given lots of empathy for my fellow person…

26. On the Incarnation by Athanasius

This book was part of my Renovaré Book Club ("a guided journey through four soul-shaping books")  reading. It is the last book of four we have been reading from October to June.

Who knew how much I would enjoy this book! Oh my! A man named Christopher Hall (click on the link to read his bio) has guided us through it with an introductory podcast and study guides for each week of reading. They are excellent and have really helped me appreciate this book.

My mind is being expanded in new ways. Since LEARNER is my #1 Clifton StrengthsFinder, this is making my heart soar. It might not be everyone's cup of tea though. Even if it isn't your cup of tea, it is very short so shouldn't be too painful and would expand your world!

25. Two Paths: America Divided or United by John Kasich

This was the man that I wanted to be president. It was good to read about his background, and his vision for America. He ran a very clean campaign and did not get swallowed up in the negativity. He is the real deal.
One big thing I learned was how to pronounce his last name. I rhymes with "basic"!

23. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I think things are better the second time around, and they are also better when discussed with friends. I have been part of the Book Dames since 2005. It was started when five of us from a contemporary book club that started in 2001 decided to discuss the classics. I am the only original member left. So many of the books are ones I already read, including this one, but discussing it was so meaningful and rich. This group is deep and loves to visit long and lingeringly on a Saturday morning whereas the other "Book Babes" reads much easier books and is in and out of there in very little time. I think I like the long and lingering type better.

This is a cautionary tale pregnant with symbolism. It is very well written and Hector Elizondo's narration is perfect pitch.

24. Poldark's Cornwall by Winston Graham

If you are a fan of the Poldark Series on Masterpiece Theatre and/or the books by Winston Graham, you will love this book of gorgeous photographs of the Cornish Coast with text  by Graham originally published in 1983 and updated in 2016. It is a visual treat, and you will learn more about how Graham came to write these wonderful novels.

22. The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher

This book had some good points about our post-Christian era. I was so excited to read this after I saw him interviewed on the news and when I realized he is the same person who wrote Crunchy Cons.

He makes some salient points about the degree to which Christians can realistically change the political trajectory of today. (In his mind, that ship has already sailed.) He advocates pulling in and strengthening the church, giving your kids a classical education (something we did with our kids and do not regret, but it is NOT for everyone), and protecting your kids from this oversexualized society. These are all things I agree with, but he got a bit preachy. It also dragged through some of the "preachy" chapters.

21. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Wow! This is my favorite book of the year so far. It is so imaginative (the author was inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia). It gives you a different perspective on refugees from all over the world. I loved it. (It does have some language and sexuality that some readers might not like.) Hamid's writing is absolutely beautiful.

Here is the PBS Newshour interview that inspired me to read the book:

20. Lilac Girls

I learned a lot through this book, but I have to admit it was really, really slow in the beginning. I felt like I was reading a harlequin romance, and I almost abandoned it on page 92. But, I did something I have never done before: I read the last chapter, and the author's notes, and it made me curious!

It is interesting because in the author's notes, I read that one of the storylines is not based on anything that happened, and you can tell! It was sort of a stupid storyline, and that is what I almost abandoned on page 92.
It was a SLOG until about page 132. Then, it started moving forward. I learned about something I had never read about: The Rabbits of Ravensbruck.

They were Polish women who had gruesome experiments done on them while they were in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp during World War II.

In the end, I was glad I finished it. I learned quite a bit.

19. Myth Making and Religious Extremism and Their Roots in Crisis

The information was fascinating in parts, but it droned on with more and more information without much analysis in other parts. I was hoping the author would give analysis about how all of this affect terrorism, but it never seemed to get to this. I kept on saying to the author, "And your point is . . .?" I learned some new facts though, and for that I am grateful. It had no profound conclusions.

It had quite a few typos in the "Terrorism" chapter but not others, and the authors must be atheists because they tend to lump all Christians into one big pot. This will alienate many people who believe that creation is not a myth.

18. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs

I received this audiobook for free from the publisher in exchanged for a unbiased review.
When I first saw that it was 31 hours and 25 CD's (equivalent to 752 pages in the print version), I was a bit overwhelmed, but once I started listening to the excellent narration by Derek Perkins, I knew I was in good hands. WOW! I have listened to many audiobooks by British narrators, and sometimes, especially on academic subjects, they can come across with a "haughty" tone. This is NOT so with Derek Perkins. His narration is all British sophistication without the stuffiness. Excellent choice for a narrator.

The same holds true for the author, John Stubbs. This is a very scholarly biography, but it is not stuffy. It is quite readable (or easy to listen to in my case). I learned many details about British history and found it fascinating, especially since I just went to England last summer, and spent time at Blenheim Palace and many of the spots in London described in the book.

I am …

17. Spiritual Multiplication in the Real World by McNabb

I just read this in October to see if I would use it in my Kingdom Community Curriculum, and I am so glad I included it. They LOVED it and all bought it for themselves. SO it was a good call to have them read it. I reread it when they read it because I had read it on my Kindle and wanted an underlined book because it is so hard to lead a book discussion with a Kindle!

Here is my prior review:

Liturgy Audit

I have this from my Renovare Book Club and from the book Liturgy of the Ordinary

What activities and practices are you regularly immersed in each week? How much time is spent doing different sorts of activities? (Name 3-4 things you do in a week and time spent doing them).   • If you have children, how do they spend their time?  (Name 3-4 things they do in a week and time spent doing them).
M/W Teach two Pilates classes at OSU T Teach Kingdom Community Training M-S Daily Time in Bible Reading and prayer M-S Daily reading to enrich my mind
What do you do with the first 2 hours of your day? 
Time with God - reflection on Scripture and praying responsively
How does that shape the rest of your day?How does this routine shape you? 
It sets my feet to be intentional about living to glorify Him as I live and move and have my being.

What do you do with the last 2 hours of your day?
Watch the news or a program on TV. I watch Survivor and Amazing Race. Not really into any dramas. Sometimes I will watch …

What Matters

"What matters is to listen attentively to the Spirit and to go obediently where we are being led, whether to a joyful or a painful place." Henri Nouwen in Making All Things New


I have attempted to do this so many times by doing a "Prayerful Review of my Day," but it has not happened. So, I am just going to write freely in a freewrite for the next fifteen. It seems like it has been a while since I did that.

The last couple of weeks have been really lovely. Something is changing in me that is really encouraging. For instance, we had taken our taxes to an accountant, and we had signed everything on the dotted line last Friday and thought they were going to the IRS. Tuesday afternoon (tax day) brought in a flurry of texts and emails. Long story short, there was a mistake on our tax form, and we would not be getting the big refund that we thought, and we had to pay more for our Oregon tax. I had looked forward to getting a break on Tuesday afternoon. We had all day Sunday with guests for Easter, all day Monday with teaching at the University and then visiting for about five hours with different internationals, and then getting ready to lead my Kingdom Co…

16. Crucial Conversations by Patterson

This is my third time reading through this book, and it is always so challenging. I sometimes forget to apply these principles, but when I do, it is amazing how much easier crucial conversations become!

Here is my previous review:

15. The Story of Jesus by Reader's Digest Association, Inc

This is third in the books that I have been reading since Christmas. I love this book! It is in full color (and I purchased it at a used book store for only $10).  It starts at the beginning of the Gospel account and adds literature, poetry, and art from all over the world. It is a lovely book. It ends in the book of Acts where the Apostles spread Jesus to the world.

14. Jesus: A Gospel by Henri Nouwen

I have had this book sitting on my coffee table for quite a while, and I thought I would read it along with the Harmony of the Gospels. I have recently been on a Henri Nouwen extravaganza so it fit to read a compilation of his quotes related to Jesus' life! On top of all that, there are illustration by Rembrandt! YUMMY!

I love Nouwen's insights. Here is one of my favorites:

As you see more clearly that your vocation is to be a witness to God's love in this world, as you become more determined to live out that vocation, the attacks of the enemy will increase. You will hear voices saying, "You are worthless, you have nothing to offer, you are unattractive, undesirable, unlovable." Do not be afraid. The more you are called to speak for God's love, the more you will need to deepen the knowledge of that love in your own heart. The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inner journey must be.

13. The Harmony of the Gospels by Thomas and Gundry

Here is a previous review:

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

It is Easter Sunday 2017, and this year, I read through the life of Jesus in "harmony" from December 21st until today.  This is such nice way to walk with Jesus chronologically.

I couldn't wait to get up at dawn this morning and read about His resurrection. It is going to be a blessed day.

(I also read two other books along with this, and the reviews for them will be coming soon!)

12. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

I have been asked over the years what my favorite Masterpiece Theatre series is, and I have always said POLDARK! My husband and I have been fans of Poldark since the early 90's when we watched the 70's version on VHS. We have watched it more than once, and we love Robin Ellis as Ross:

Then came the equally wonderful NEW Poldark series! I like both actors as Ross and both series are equally amazing. Aiden Turner is a mesmerizing Ross:

So, I was curious to know what the Poldark books were like. My husband had read this first one many years ago, and when the new series came out he commented that the new one is much closer to the books, and I have to agree. As I have read up on things, Winston Graham was disappointed at how they changed things in the 70's version, but I think he would definitely like this new version.

I just have to say that if you love the TV series, and you love to read great literature, you will love this book. I thought his writing was SUPERB, and it really…