I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who read smart-people books. Like biographies about Jefferson or non-fiction about obscure battles. My parents are like that, as is my husband. Sometimes I try. Which is why I own Titan (a biography about Rockefeller) and Seeing Mary Plainly (a biography about Mary McCarthy, author of The Group) but have read neither.
I’ve grown semi-comfortable with the fact that I’m a fiction girl. When I read, I want it to be stories. But sometimes a non-story book comes along that knocks me out in a way no novel ever could. Two books are doing that to me right now.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is a year long, daily devotional that is rooted in scripture, but is written as if God is talking to you. (“I want you to rest in my presence…”) The text usually takes me about 30 or 45 seconds to read. Below are the scripture verses Ms. Young pulled the content from, so you could make a nice morning study out of this if you wanted. Right now I read it aloud during breakfast, so my 4 and 2 year old children can hear too, and we talk about it afterward.
This daily ritual of ours is reinventing the lens through which I see my day. These days, I find it impossible to do a morning quiet time like I once did, but Jesus Calling provides me with a rich nugget of spiritual nourishment to carry me through.
I almost missed out on One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. When I was at the ACFW conference last September, I happened to get ready early (a miracle in itself considering I was sharing my hotel room with three other ladies) and get down to breakfast before the doors opened. Publishing houses often pass out free books at the end of sessions or meals, and because it was the last day all the remaining freebies from the conference were sitting on a table, there for the taking.
I originally picked up One Thousand Gifts because at first glance I thought it was Carla Stewart’s Broken Wings, which I had been wanting to read. I was wrong, of course, and almost put it down, but my eyes grabbed onto that tagline: A dare to live fully right where you are.
It seemed like a rather far-fetched promise – with my then 3 and 1 year old children, a demanding blog, and the burning in my heart to write more and more stories, I hardly ever felt as though I was living fully.
I slid the book into my bag almost as a dare to Ms. Voskamp herself – Ha! I dare you to have advice good enough to make that happen!
Even after I had the book, it was awhile before I cracked it open. (My aversion to nonfiction, remember?) If it hadn’t been for my friend Debbie, I might not have. But when we were meeting for coffee, she asked me if I’d ever heard of One Thousand Gifts, and then teared up as she talked about how the book was transforming her heart.
That definitely piqued my curiosity. I read the first chapter that night. It was so emotionally rocking that I left the book on my nightstand, bookmark firmly in place, for several weeks. I would glance at it every now and then, thinking about picking it up … about taking that dare to live fully, to live now. But I was afraid.
Because it’s not just advice like I thought it was. It‘s so much more. It’s a lifestyle, and that’s not at all what I’d gone looking for. I had wanted some time management skills, maybe. A way to turn off my frustrations and magically feel like my life was on the right path.
I’ve given into the fear now and the reward has been rich. One Thousand Gifts is the only book I’ve ever read with a pen in my hand and, often, tears in my eyes.