My Favorite Books of 2015 SO FAR…

Marilynne Robinson’s Trilogy (She won the Pulitzer for Gilead)

Oh my goodness — SUCH GOOD WRITING! I LOVED THEM ALL —

BUT “HOME” TOOK MY BREATH AWAY

Gilead

home ]]Lila

MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2014

 

1st:    Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey. Best since “What’s So Amazing About
Grace,” my favorite book ever. How often I’ve blown it in representing Christ.
Learning to give the grace I’m so thankful to receive.
2nd:   Unquenchable Flame by Mike Reeves. Riveting story of the Reformation. How
bravely they fought for the gospel, often laying down their lives. How easy it is
for us to lose our grip on the gospel. Even non history lovers will like this one.
3rd:    Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet by Sara Hagerty. New and very gifted writer with a
great story. She and her husband struggled with infertility and then adopted
African children from Katie’s orphanage (Kisses from Katie).
4rh:    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Though I don’tt recommend her
past books, this is a winner. Historical fiction based on two abolitionist sisters.
Monk fairly shows that some twisted Scripture to justify the oppression of
blacks and of women. It’s a great fictional account based on fact.

books2014Epic by John Eldredge

epicLoved this short book and the DVD is wonderful where Eldredge shows how every great echoes the TRUE STORY, from Titanic to Braveheart to Lord of the Rings. He does a wonderful soliloquy, proving he is as talented an actor as he is a writer.

Waiting by Ho Chin

hajin Ha Jin tells an emotional story in China of a man caught between two women: his noble peasant wife of whom he is ashamed because of her bound feet and his nurse who has seduced him and waits for him to get his divorce. Well written page turner.

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

silverliningsThe movie was good but the book far better.

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir

The first chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Oh how I laughed — and yet it is about the most important questions of life! This is a have to read. She eloquent, poetic, and funny. How an agnostic came to faith at Oxford.

The Gospel-Centered Woman by Wendy Alsup

thegospelforwomen How refreshing to read a book about the gospel centered woman. This is the first book I’ve ready by Wendy Alsup and found it refreshing. I like her blog as well.

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?

I always love Yancey so I don’t know why it took me so long to read this except I probably didn’t want to be convicted about my prayer life. Instead, I was so inspired and it had revitalized my prayer life. Yancey is so honest — and the chapter on healing was so helpful to me.

Still Alice

It’s a fictional account of a Harvard professor who gets early alzheimers. The family dynamics are fascinating. A good read.

Read-Aloud Bible Stories

This is the best Bible storybook series for toddlers I’ve seen. Christ-O-Centric like the Jesus Storybook Bible, but for toddlers. Wonderful illustrations.

The Fulfillment of All Desire

the-fulfillment-of-all-desireThis is a book with writings from Catholic reformers like Augustine, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Francis of Assisi. I think it is easy if you disagree with some Catholic doctrines to miss the wonderful mentoring that can happen when you study these great saints who were truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. They experienced great intimacy with the Lord, victory over sin, and left a legacy we should not miss. I don’t always agree, but then I don’t always agree with my Protestant brothers and sisters. But most of the time I simply feel that common bond of Christ. Here are just a few of the gems from this book: Teresa of Avila said that “self-reliance was what destroyed me.” I have found the same – it isn’t enough to turn from my idol of control, but I must trust that God really will be in control. It isn’t enough to turn from the comfort of snacking, I must trust that God will be my comfort. Augustine is helpful too. One of his mentors taught him that more happiness can be found in truth than in physical pleasures, helping him turn from his promiscuous ways. This book is a feast for the soul, to be savored slowly.

One Thousand Gifts

one-thousand-giftsEvery sentence a work of art. Life transforming. I just ordered twenty for gifts. I’ll probably order more. You must get it. Not on kindle – you’ll want to underline and keep it forever.

Sold

soldThis is a well-written fictional book by Patricia McCormick, who spent time in India and Nepal interviewing women who have been rescued from the sex trade. This is today’s holocaust, and we must become informed and be open to what God would have us do. Here’s a sample of the writing from the journal of this young girl who was “sold.” As I stand before the bonfire, a city woman comes and stands next to me. She is waring a dress of yellow cloud fabric, a hundred silver bangles on her wrists and ankles. She smells of amber and night flowers. “Where I live,” she says, “the girls have sweet cakes every day.” I steal a sideways glance at her. “City girls have pretty dresses,” she says behind her yellow cloud. …They eat oranges, dates, and mangoes every day. It is the easy life. Would you like to come to the city with me? I will be your auntie.”

Ecclesiastes: Ancient Wisdom When All Else Fails

083082111201_sclzzzzzzz_As we plunge into Soul Hunger on the blog, I was reminded of Solomon’s great soul hunger, and how he tried to fill it with everything “under the sun” but not God. Ecclesiastes is a rich but very challenging book, and T. M. Moore’s amazing paraphrase sheds great light. I actually have this paraphrase in my study on Ecclesiastes (A Woman of Contentment). I’ve been reading Moore’s hardcover book out loud, as poetry demands to be read so you can hear the meter, the rhyme. I have samples from this paraphrase in the blog post: Soul Hunger.

The Confession

97800995458281On vacation with two friends, so time for fiction. You may know John Grisham is one of those rare believers who has crossed over to have a reading audience in the secular world. Because of my prison ministry and particular interest in the injustice of the prisons in Texas, this one is striking a chord. It’s about an innocent black man on death row in Texas. (I know of an innocent black woman executed in Texas and I also know God is on the move to change hearts in Texas.) What I like about Grisham is his longing for social justice and his insight into the depravity of man — Christians and nonChristians alike.

Cutting For Stone

n297038Beautifully written fiction. I’m only fifty pages in, and finding it gripping. It’s the story of a surgeon in Africa (Dr. Stone, hence “cutting for Stone.”) I’ve thought so much about what makes a good nurse, what makes a good doctor — and these are living portraits. Here’s a sample of Abraham Verghese’s writing in which a nun first meets Stone, on a ship bound for Africa, and her dearest friend, another nun, is gravely ill: “Not having his stethoscope, he applied his ear to Sister Anjali’s heart, then her belly. Then he turned her to one side and pressed his ear against her ribs to listen to the lungs…He had become one with Sister Anjali’s body, it was his text, and he sounded it for the enemy within. She felt such confidence in his being that her fear for Anjali vanished. Kneeling by his side, she was euphoric, as if she had only at that moment come of age as a nurse because this was the first time she had encountered a physician like him. She bit her tongue because she wanted so much to say all this and more to him.” I’m reading this for a secular book club I’m in. If any of you read it, and have thoughts from a Christian perspective, I’d love to hear them. Write to me at comments@deebrestin.com

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

imagesSince this author’s biography of Bonhoeffer is “my book of the year” to recommend, I had to get his biography on Wilberforce, the man who not only abolished slavery in England, but started the whole social justice movement among Christians. Again, an excellent read. What changed this witty wealthy part boy into a man aflame? Great great story that is well-written. These biographies would make great Christmas gifts for the readers on your list.

Intimate Allies: Rediscovering God’s Design for Marriage and Becoming Soul Mates for Life

intimate-alliesExcellent book on marriage with a strong theological basis. I picked it up because Tim Keller mentioned that they truly understand both the great joy of married sex that The Song of Songs elevates, but also understand that this is a pointer to the great joy we should have in intimacy with Christ. Sex in the marital covenant bed is a way of saying, “I belong to you completely, and with abandon.” It is also a way of exalting in being known completely, in our nakedness, in our flaws, and yet loved to the sky.” So few understand The Song of Songs so I was eager to read that chapter. But there is so much more here — one of the best books on marriage I’ve seen. They take actual couples who are having problems, and look at their true heart problem.

Karla Faye Tucker Set Free: Life and Faith on Death Row

0877887756Karla Faye Tucker was the first woman to be executed in Texas in one hundred years. She had such a life transformation through Christ that there was a great effort to stay her execution. I am using her story and clips from her videos from Larry King Live and other programs in the curriculum I’m writing for women in prisons and women in shelters. This book was written by Linda Strom, who is working closely with me. Linda was Karla’s mentor, and was with her through the execution. Karla’s powerful testimony continues to bring prisoners to Christ — recently an agency told Linda they would make them available for free to prisoners in the United States and gave her 300,000. When those are gone, they will print more. You can learn more about Linda’s ministry and our project at https://www.discipleshipunlimited.org This book will inspire you, and if you have a loved one in prison, you can get it to him or her either by ordering through Amazon or seeing if their Chaplain would be opening to contacting Discipleship Unlimited and getting a caseload for the inmates.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

This may be my best book of the summer. I’m halfway through and riveted. That a man in his twenties could lead the revolt against Nazi Germany so articulately and bravely, to his death, cannot help but inspire. It amazes me that Christians were so apathetic to what was happening, going along with the distortions to Christianity that Hitler embraced — saying Jesus was Arayan and an anti-Semite. Bonhoeffer often compared himself to Jeremiah, saying God had him by the throat, leading him where he did not want to go, but go he would, for this was his calling. He told his fiance that he had to put this calling first, and he did, to his death. There are so many parallels with the church today, and with God’s call to us.

Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller

I have two dear friends with whom I meet bi-annually to discuss a book, and we are all huge Keller fans, so this was it, and it did not disappoint. One huge take-a-way was the concept of deep idols and near sins. For example, our near sin might be anger, but our deep idol is control. It is important to get to the root to be set free. The four deep idols are control, power, comfort, and approval. Though I have all of them, approval is strong — with comfort a near second. Seeing them is helping me be set free. What are your idols?

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

mudboundIf you liked The Help, you will like this. Story of a white family and a black family in the deep South at the time of World War II, and the dangerous situation when the two sons become friends. The black family has faith, and in fact, the father’s faith seems quite solid, helping him forgive, and survive the enormous prejudice and injustice to his family. It is told from the perspective of two farmers, two wives, and two sons. As you read, and it’s great summer read, see if you can discover the idol they each had, the way they tried to fill the hole in their hearts.

John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken

john-newtonBiographies are one of my favorite genres because good ones of men and women transformed by the Gospel contagiously transform my heart.John Newton was the slave trader whose life was transformed by the Gospel and went on to write Amazing Grace. He has friendships with inspiring people and was a mentor to William Wilberforce. It took some discipline to get into the book, but now I’m hooked. Most fascinating is his accounts of his marriage, for he saw clearly that he was tempted to make it an idol. “I could have looked no higher for happiness than to our mutual satisfaction in each other.” Polly was lukewarm in her devotion to God — but I suspect that is going to change. It is also fascinating to see that when he began to turn to God, he still was so blind — he told Polly that being cooped up with the slaves on his ship made him feel like Noah cooped up with the animals. He didn’t see them as people — yet. It shows me how blind I can be to my own sin — how much I need the grace of God. It’s a good biography because he kept journals and letters and was brutally honest. The author, Aitken, was in prison — so that is a story in itself!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help You know it’s a good book when you are sad that it’s going to end. Amazingly, this is Stockett’s first book, and it is staying as # 2 on Amazon. “The Help” is how southerners used to refer to their black maids. (To be fair, I heard the term used in the Midwest as well, sometimes by my own family.) In her acknowledgements at the close of the book, Stockett apologizes to the black maid who worked for them – saying she had always thought she was lucky to work for such a nice Christian family. Stockett helps us to see people as Jesus does – though they may have a different social class, skin color, or culture – they are so like us. And often, the poor are our vastly spiritual superiors, for our material prosperity has blinded us to our need, our helplessness, and our God. What a good and edifying read.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

half-the-sky1 This book has rocked my world. Please read it. It’s about sex slavery and the couple who wrote it did so beautifully, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and awakening us to the depth and breadth of this sin against girls and women. Did you know more women have died from this in the last fifty years than all the men in all the wars of the 20th Century? But we don’t know because they are women and it is not reported. This is not a Christian book, but they do mention some Christian groups, like International Justice Mission (Sara Groves is a spokeswoman for this) that are making a huge difference. We can do something. We must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves – our sisters. Many as young as five years old. They are dying – from having children when they are too young, from getting AIDS, from being murdered by the Mafia-like gangs in who run this terrible world. Read it in your books clubs, read it on your own. If you have me come speak, after you cover my basic expenses, we’ll take an offering to give to this. We cannot be silent. We cannot turn our faces

Whiter Than Snow by Paul David Tripp

whiterthansnow-cover3 Most life-changing devotional I’ve read in decades. Based on Psalm 51, each day shows me how my real problems are not on the outside but the inside. Convicting, cutting, and oh so cleansing.

Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden

jonathan-edwards1 A well-written biography of an amazing man, whom God used in The Great Awakening with what is probably the most famous sermon of all time: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. His cousins were massacred by Indians and their family prayed daily for others who were captured. He was the only son, and had ten sisters. I love the story of his marriage and his life inspires me. If you love biographies as I do, read this one.

The Shack

the-shack1 Everybody’s reading it. You should too. Let me know what you think on my blog post – I’ll write back!

The God of All Comfort by Dee Brestin

god-of-all-comfort-revised I truly believe it is the best book God has allowed me to write in my life, and I hope you’ll get it!

Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible by Jerram Barrs

teyes A wonderful new book by a godly and probably the most esteemed professor from Covenant Seminary. I love how he begins: “I have been deeply troubled in our churches by the way much teaching on women begins with the restrictive passages in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 and 1 Timothy 2 and often ends there. It is not that those passages are insignificant, but I have been eager to ask a more foundational question: How does the Lord see women?”

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

p3014981 I’d never read this classic before, but loved reading is last summer. Steinbeck says: I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us… Humans are caught in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too – in a net of good and evil.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains Biographical account of Paul Farmer who brought cure for TB to Haiti. I read it because Sara Groves recommended it. Farmer, though never seems to truly understand or embrace The Gospel, puts most of us as believers to shame in his great concern for the suffering people of Haiti. Fascinating and inspiring story. Kidder a good writer.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

The Prodigal God Paradigm changing book on the parable of the two sons. It’s a short but life changing read by this pastor who is having such an enormous impact on New York and the world. I have listened to a sermon a day for three years.

The Abandonment by Peter Rock

The Abandonment My nephew wrote this and I found it compelling and its getting great reviews. Peter isn’t a Christian (and knows it so I can boldly say so) but handles this true story of a homeless father and daughter with a keen and insightful eye. So often we think that the solution for the homeless is to provide housing, but this shows how much more complicated it is. There are some hard violent parts, but integral to the story.

Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden

jonathanedwards A well-written biography of an amazing man, whom God used in The Great Awakening with what is probably the most famous sermon of all time: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. His cousins were massacred by Indians and their family prayed daily for others who were captured. He was the only son, and had ten sisters. I love the story of his marriage and his life inspires me. If you love biographies as I do, read this one.

Through the Looking Glass by Kris Lundgaard

throughthe Very practical and readable non-fiction on ways to behold Jesus. When you behold Jesus, you become like Him. This helped me with my thought life – Dee.

Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Loyd-Jones

jesus-storybook This is absolutely the best children’s storybook Bible I’ve seen.  Amazing depth in words for little children. It moved my heart! -Dee Examples: Some people think the Bible is a book of heroes’ but most of the people aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. Sometimes they are downright mean. Or: “No one loves me.” Leah said. “I’m too ugly.”  But God didn’t think she was ugly. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world  through Leah’s family.

Walking His Trail: Signs of God Along the Way by Steve and Ginn Saint

walking-his-trail Steve is the son of the martyred Nate Saint, one of the five missionaries to the Auca Indians. Like his famous parents, he and his wife have truly lived a life of adventurous faith, and it’s encouraging to read the ways God has met them.

Hunger Pains, by Cynthia Moe

hungerpains Cynthia’s very transparent testimony on her forty day fast. You’ll be inspired and get lots of questions answered!

The Contented Soul, Lisa Graham McMinn, (IVP, Downers Grove) pp. 32-33

Contented Soul #3335 Dr. McMinn, who was chair of sociology at Wheaton College, was counseling Marcy, who in this case was struggling with relational idolatry and needing to live with space between her and the other person. She was in pain and Dr. McMinn counseled her. The following is a sample of the pungent counsel and good writing from the book, which I am applying to overeating, and finding very helpful. When Marcy asked what she could do with the pain, I encouraged her to sit with it for a while, to let it be okay to be sad and to hurt, resisting the temptation to escape or fix the situation. I used to try to ease my lonely soul by pampering it. I’d take a walk, soak in the tub, treat myself to an extra mocha. Marcy and I talked about how it is to live in a time where we are told to focus on taking care of ourselves when we are hurting –  often by consuming, or buying something, activities that may bring some measure of comfort but mostly only hide our sadness for a while. Taking care of ourselves is good, but by itself does not ease the loneliness that seeps into our soul when we are discouraged. Eventually I learned that what eases my lonely soul more than pampering it is blessing someone else.

A Hunger for God – Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper

ahungerforgod Read this book online (712KB PDF). Today there is a renewed interest in and emphasis on fasting in western Christianity. However, this discipline remains confusing to many Christians. Some question whether it has any relevance at all. A Hunger For God was written to help Christians understand the Biblical nature and purpose of fasting and prayer. In this book, John Piper looks at the phenomena of religious, political, and health-based fasting, which occur around the world, and explains what makes Christian fasting unique. He then discusses the reasons and ways the Bible commends fasting to us. Ultimately, Piper asserts, fasting is a way of expressing to God that he is the supreme hunger of our hearts  that we are starving for him.

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

safelyhome This is a gripping story of the persecuted church in China. Powerful and so encouraging.  You will be glad you got it! Royalties go to the persecuted church.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

thememorykeepers When a physician husband delivers his wife of twins in a snowstorm, one of the twins has Down s Syndrome. The choice he makes, and conceals from his wife, profoundly affects the rest of their lives. Though not overtly Christian, the story certainly illustrates the wisdom of Scripture. It is a well-written first novel, and though perhaps a bit contrived, a great beach read.

To Be Told: Know Your Story by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman

tobetold You have a unique story, for God not only created you, but has orchestrated the circumstances of your life. The authors show you how to find deeper meaning in your story and be able to share it in a way that will strengthen others.

A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser

agracedis The truth that resonated with me from this book is that the pain doesn’t go away but our souls are enlarged.  Since the death of my husband, Steve, in October 2004, I still hurt so much – I wasn’t being overly-dramatic when I told Dr. Dobson I have an invisible knife sticking out of my heart. But, truly, my soul is being enlarged and life still has so much meaning.

Snowflower and the Secret Fan By Lisa See

snowflowerandthesecretfan A poignant story of two women who were close friends in 19 th century Japan – when women were oppressed, treated like slaves, and had their feet broken and bound because small feet were sexually alluring to men. Women developed a secret writing (nu shu) so that they could communicate their deepest hearts to their closest women friends without fear of repercussions. See is a gifted writer and the story made me so thankful that Christ has elevated the status of women – and that I live in a country that has experienced much of His light. The story of the friendship was both foreign and familiar – for women’s hearts are amazingly similar, no matter the place and time.

Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels

justawalk Evangelism can be as simple as that – just walking across the room and being warm to someone. This is a very freeing and impacting book – practical, funny, and so encouraging.

Lost Women of the Bible : Finding Strength & Significance through Their Stories by Carolyn Custis James

lostwomenofthebible It’s the best I’ve read on the women of the Bible – and I’ve read many! James has the insight of a woman combined with the scholarly research of a seminarian. Her opening chapter and the one on Tamar are worth the price of the book. She sees Esther clearly too – it always amazes me how many scholarly men make light of that “beauty contest,” but a woman can see the abuse that was taking place. James makes me proud to be a woman.

You’re Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation by Deborah Tannen

yourewearingthat Another great book by this linguist to help us better our mother/daughter relationships.

The Psalms for Prayer (Paperback) by T. M. Moore

thepsalms The psalms with simple guidelines for praying through them. Wonderful. The great saints down through the ages have prayed through the psalms. Your prayers will be less shallow and much more powerful.

The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study: The Gospels (Bible Knowledge Series) by Darrell L. Bock

thebibleknowl Great resource by the best.

Girl Meets GOD by Lauren Winner

girlmeetsgod Paperback: 320The daughter of a Jewish father and a lapsed Baptist mother has a fresh and wonderful testimony. A sample of her very good writing: Sometimes, as in a great novel, you cannot see until you get to the end that God was leaving clues for you all along. Sometimes you wonder, How did I miss it? Surely any idiot should have been able to see from the second chapter that it wad Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the rope. (Lauren F. Winner, girl meets God, p.57)

Crooked Little Heart by Ann Lamott

crooked-little-heart Ann is a controversial Christian – her language is often shocking, and yet, this book grabbed me. It’s about a beautiful young girl who cheats in tennis tournaments. It reminds me a little bit of Christian novels by the great Russian writers like Dostovesky whose novels show man’s depravity. I could identify with so much of it, for I have a crooked little heart too, and how I need, each day, the grace of God.

A Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgins

thorn_heart Liz has successfully brought Rachel and Leah into the 18th century in Scotland! I told Liz I had thought of doing a contemporary version myself but wasn’t sure how to handle polygamy in a current way – she has done it so well!

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

christ_centered1 Hardcover: 376 pages – For any of you who long to speak, or want a gift for your pastor, this is wonderful. R. C. Sproul calls it “the best book on preaching.”

The Divine Embrace by Ken Gire

divine_embrace1 Hardcover: 225 pages – He compares our love relationship with Jesus to a dance. Beautifully done, and heart-warming to find from a male author. He recalls dance scenes from movies and parallels them with our walk with the Lord. Delightful.

God’s Politics Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis

gods-politics Paperback: 416 – I challenge you to read this one. Wallis is the editor of Sojourners and has a great bumper sticker: God is not a REPUBLICAN or a democrat. If you disagree, you better read this book. We have such a tendency to shape scripture to our political persuasion instead of letting scripture shape our political persuasion. This book may also serve as a conversational bridge to people who have a very different philosophy from yours.

Fool-Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious

15785600631 Do you have an extremely difficult person in your life who causes enormous pain? Ask yourself if he or she may possibly meet the scriptural tests for a fool:

  • He trusts in his own heart.
  • He uses anger to control.
  • He is always right.
  • He may be outwardly religious, but in his heart, he says, “There is no God.”

Recognizing a fool on the basis of the wisdom of Proverbs will give you the help you desperately need, especially if that fool is someone you love, and someone with whom you must be “up close and personal,” such as a spouse, a child, or a parent. It is a serious thing to call someone a fool and it should not be done in anger or without prayerful reflection, but if you do have a fool, you need to stop covering for him and understand how God would have you deal with him. Until you have this insight, you cannot possibly help him or avoid the destruction he will bring into your life. Jan Silvious is one of my favorite Bible teachers because she is so practical, down-to-earth, and wise. She told me that she thinks writing this book was one of the reasons she was born. If I were a college professor, I’d make it required reading. There are also great tapes by Jan to accompany this book.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

crossing_safety1 This story of the lifelong friendship of two couples, based on truth. I’ve read it twice and cherished every eloquent page. I’ve listened to it on tape. Stegner won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, and you will see why. There is no evidence Stegner was a believer, but he seemed a man of integrity.

What s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

philip_yancey_whatssoamazinggrace Like so many of you, I read everything Yancey writes, but this is my favorite, because it is so relevant to everyday life. It is hard to give grace when you have been badly hurt, but this book makes it more likely you will.

David’s Treasury of the Psalms by Charles Spurgeon

davids_treasury No commentary on the psalms can compare to this one.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

a_severe_mercy Eloquent and true love story of a couple who came to Christ through the friendship of C.S. Lewis. This has long been my favorite love story. An inside story on this award winning classic is that Vanauken took it to the late Harold Shaw, of Shaw Publishers, and Harold told him it was “too big” for them, and that Vanauken should take it to a “crossover publisher” (secular and Christian). Vanauken was so grateful, that he sent fellow author Paula D’Arcy, with her sweet and eloquent manuscript of “A Song for Sarah” (an also must read, to be read with ample Kleenex), to Shaw. Reader’s Digest made it a book choice and it was a great financial success for Shaw. To the faithful He shows Himself faithful.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

returnofprodigalson Rembrandt’s painting of The Prodigal Son profoundly impacted Nouwen’s life. An intriguing book which gives you not only an appreciation for the parable, but for art.

Boundaries Face to Face, How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

boundariesfacetoface I thought I knew how to confront people, but I was not happy with how unsuccessful my confrontations were. Then I read this book. What a change for me. How I recommend this!

Prisoners of Hope by Dana Curry and Heather Mercer

prisoners1 This is my favorite book of 2002. It’s the true story of the two young girls (Baylor graduates) who went to Afghanistan as missionaries and were taken captive by the Taliban. How inspired I was by their faith, compassion for the Afghan women, and strength to tell the truth in the face of enormous pressure. They are very honest in sharing the fears they had, but they also are a wonderful example of committing themselves to God and being rescued by Him. They are like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – and they are rescued from the furnace. But they were willing to die if they had to. You’ve got to get it. A page turner that will strengthen you in Him. Since reading it I have been lifting the Afghan women to Him in prayer regularly. I love what one of the women said, “I just didn’t want to live a normal American life.” Get it – you can probably it get it through inter-library loan – though it is a book you may want to keep and lend to others. They are giving the proceeds to help the Afghan women.

Books I Recommend on Marriage and Family:

Easy Summer Reading