7. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters And Papers From Prison.
This baby took me months to finish. Dietrich is my favorite theologian that I’ve discovered so far hands down. I fell in love with him through Eric Metaxas’ biography on his life, and I’ve been reading his work ever since. That being said, this book was worth the dry spells – it was all the recorded correspondence he had with family and friends while in prison, after all. But there were some deep thoughts not worth missing. I highlighted every nugget of wisdom and note that he scribbled that I somehow related to. I learned about family, working through spiritual dryness, perseverance, and true joy.
1 Samuel surprised me. Like I’ve said before, my Old Testament knowledge is dusty. I have three favorite parts in this book: Hannah’s prayer, Jonathan and David’s sweet friendship, and Abigail. Hannah’s prayer is one of the first time that a woman’s relationship with God is mentioned in the Bible. So not only was the beauty, desperation, and surrender of the prayer beautiful to me, but also because she seems to be one of the first women that was truly close in relationship with God. Jonathan and David worked together as a team, accomplishing much and it is said that their hearts were knit together. I’ve always wanted a friendship like that. Abigail was described as “beautiful and discerning” and that is proved throughout 1 Samuel. The collection of these characters spoke volumes to me.
8. A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
I’ve previously read one of Emily’s other books, and I’m a regular blog reader of hers. Her style is simple and elegant. This book woke me up in several ways – through the pages, Emily encouraged me to do what makes me feel alive – what my calling is – whether there is an audience or not. She also encouraged me to know that even the stuff we don’t love to do, but must, are being used for good as well. For me, the application was straightforward after finishing the last page: stop talking about what you want to do someday and just do it. Discover your art. Most importantly: haters gonna hate. (AKA hard critics will always be lurking around) Come alive. You’re creative for a reason. Don’t be so afraid of your ideas.
9. The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart by Deborah Digges
This book of poetry was easy to read – and not in the best way. Deborah does have a way with words, but I believe I only finished it so quickly because it was small. I’m happy to get my feet wet in poetry, but this was not my favorite collection. However, it was a big part in my writing my first poem this month.
10. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
I cannot measure how much Hannah Brencher means to me. I found her as I was browsing Instagram last fall. Her organization More Love Letters (click here for more info) inspired me as I wrote my first adult Sunday school lesson in February and her writing is stunning. Hannah has a new honesty that her followers can’t get enough of. This book released at the beginning of March and I read it as fast as I could. She tells her stories of how she traveled – and still travels – through depression and how founding More Love Letters has changed her life. I learned a lot about myself in this book. I found that I was a lot more afraid of letting go and what people thought of me than I was aware of. However, the application for me after I finished this book was hazy because there were so many components that it brought out in me emotionally and spiritually. But I began by writing a letter to a stranger – my first letter request – and dropping it in the mail the next day. I knew that that was the first step to discovering what was next for me to face, to tackle, to chew on.
These books took some energy out of me (as if I could afford that). I considered only reading fiction during the next few weeks, but that plan lasted forty-eight hours before I grabbed another biography from my bookshelf. I just can’t get enough words in me about how other people lived their lives – what they regret deeply, their friendships, how they remained in relationship with God, what made them who they are, and the legacy they’re leaving behind. Also, I think I’m allergic to reading one book at a time. I must always be at least reading two: one nonfiction, one fiction. Currently I’m reading four.
The bottom line is this:
What I’m learning is leading to bigger things. What I read this month I may not fully comprehend for my own life until October – but I’m taking baby steps where I believe the Lord wants me today. I’m writing. I’m loving God and loving my neighbor the best I know how. In the meantime, I get to read stories – true and fanciful – that teach me about myself and how to better do those three things. I hope that I am always, always thankful for that.