Celebrating Christmas in Books

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I know I’ve written about books recently, but I just love them.  I’m not supposed to be using this arm and typing, but I can’t stay out of the game of life forever.

I’m gearing up for Christmas and that means checking out our Christmas Book Basket.  We like to spend time each day, as often as we can in December, reading from a selection of good books. I think it’s a great way to keep the season focused on the right things and a great way to disciple our children. Have you discovered that yet? Things that can’t be retained through teaching and lectures can be gently formed in minds by reading a book. Don’t overlook this powerful tool in the lives of those around you.

Here are some books I’m looking at for this season, as well as some that we already have and love.  I wish Amazon (or anyone) would cooperate and allow me to show book covers here, but they do not. So, I’ve linked to them on Amazon for your convenience below and also made a page on Goodreads.

Considering this Year:

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas: I’ll be reading through this book in the month of December.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna: Ann Voskamp recommended this one, we shall see if I buy it.

The Christmas Thingamabob: Looks like an easy read, written by Mark Dever so it should be quality content.

A Better December: This is what caught my eye about this one: “A Better December is an ideal gift book for non-Christian friends and neighbors with a gradual, non-threatening introduction to the gospel.” That could be taken for good or bad.  Great to have a gospel gift to give to unbelievers, although I’m not always concerned about the gospel being non-threatening. What is more threatening than hell fire? This one will take some looking into.

Why Christmas? – We have the Why Easter? book in this series. This one is $1.99 in Kindle format!

Family Books

Christmas Tapestry: My good friend Linda gave us this book last year and we LOVED it. Read it more than once and made sure Dad read it too. Great book!

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent,Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent,Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent: We love all of these, we’ve yet to finish any of them, but they are a family favorite every year. We like to read this right before bed in December. We light candles, read a chapter and the kids take turns each night lighting and blowing out the candles and praying for the family.

Elementary Books

Silent Night: The Song and Its Story

A Christmas Carol (picture book edition): This is a beautiful copy of this story, that we really enjoyed.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger: Bright and cheery, we had fun with this one!

Books for Olders

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas A daily advent reading that my Jr. Highers read through last year. This would be good for any adult too.

C Is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ’s Birth: Great informative book on various topics of Christmas, kind of like a Christmas dictionary.

The Battle for Christmas (Vintage): This one also discusses various Christmas traditions, more history book than dictionary. Go to Goodreads with this one, it’s an interesting read about the puritans, but some didn’t make it to the end. 🙂

A Christmas Carol: A classic!

I’m sure there will be many more when I pull out all of our Christmas stuff, but this is enough to get planning. Josiah had a big chest that said Merry Christmas on it last night at Hobby Lobby, he wanted to buy and I said what for? 🙂 This might be just the thing.

Do tell me, PLEASE, what books your family enjoys at Christmas?

Seen and Heard – Wrapped Up In Rhymes

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But all this success didn’t go to his head,
He remained very modest and humble instead.
For rabbits you see aren’t affected by fame,
No matter what happens they’re always the same.

Bill Peet, in Huge Harold

When I was growing up, my mother loved books. This is ironic since she doesn’t enjoy reading, but I somehow inherited my love for books and reading, from her. We were frequent visitors to the local library that I now take my own children to.  She even owned a homeschool bookstore, books have certainly been a large part of my life. I do love them so.

One day, I realized my 3 year old wasn’t being read to like the other kids had been and I set out to remedy the situation. As I’ve taken time to sit down and read some old favorites by Bill Peet, I’ve found myself slowly surrounded by all of my 6. I wasn’t expecting this result at all. My mom once told me that there needs to be times when we’re just sitting and being still so our children can find us and interact with us. This theory has certainly proven to be true in this book reading scenario. Today, as I finished the book Kermit the Hermit, I was rewarded with the news that I had put Hosanna to sleep! Reading aloud is going to be practiced regularly!!!

Remember the article from Practical Shepherding last week? Well, they furthered the discussion and got more, you guessed it, PRACTICAL this week. Here is the next article, How Do You Train Stay At Home Moms to Minister to Elderly Widows. Creative with the titles, I know.

 

Happy Friday!

The Call to Love

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This last month, I’ve been reading through the book The Church Planting Wife, Help and Hope for Her Heart. Two chapters in and I’m looking in a mirror of my experiences and struggles. It’s refreshing to hear that those who have gone before have had similar feelings.

Chapter 1 speaks of the the difficulty and the rewards of church planting. I identified with the mental games and spiritual warfare that can be brutal and I’ve often asked myself; If I’m called, why the deep valleys of depression? I’m reminded: He knows. He cares.

In chapter 2, the author talks about finding place and purpose as a church planters wife. The need to KNOW what to do, what the roles are for a pastor’s wife, can take over all sanity and clear thinking. My book is all marked up in this section, here are some of the notes I’ve written in the margins:

“The search for purpose and practical is never ending. Doing replaces trusting. Being sure of the call is one thing, micro-managing God is another.”

“You cannot live or give what you don’t have. There is no faking it. Eventually, you’ll need substance. When our lives are genuine, then we have all we need.”

On the topic of letting Christ define my priorities:

“I have standards and goals I want to live up to, I also have opportunities I don’t want to pass up. Knowing the balance in these, knowing just what God has for me to do is hard to navigate.”

And finally:

“Choosing to live in ravenous conditions when there is a feast at our reach is foolish and prideful.”

The valleys of discouragement, the emotional and spiritual exhaustion were all topics I identified with well. This past year has been a whirlwind of trial and heart wrenching decision making and difficulty. These weren’t all brought on by church planting, but they were all in the hand and direction of God. I know He’s taught me much this last 9 months and while I haven’t birthed a baby in that season, He’s birthed a new perspective; a different view of life.  I’ve seen deep things and been through difficult experiences that I know will be used all my days. This season has been hard, but for my good.

The one, overarching theme I pulled from these two chapters was the call to love. To love my God, my family, and the church body. This has been a prayer of mine and reading it here has cemented the idea in my heart. My goal, my desire and my top pursuit in the church has to be loving the body. I wish I could say this comes naturally to me, but it doesn’t and so it will continue to be my focus before the Lord.