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I’m reading my second novel of the week.

I love reading novels—especially those that are well written and historical.

I usually read them on two occasions:  on long flights—uninterrupted immersion is delightful–and when troubles weigh me down, when life discourages or confuses or just hurts.

I suppose, if I were sufficiently trusting God, I shouldn’t need such a diversion.  So I guess I am still learning and growing.

I began the first one—Chop Shop by Tim Downs–on a flight from California to Florida on Sunday night—and stayed up late Monday night to finish it.  I love Tim’s kind of crazy, very imaginative, slightly dangerous stories.

The second one—A Presumption of Death: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy Sayers–I have just begun.  Set in early WorldWar II England, it is an intellectual thriller.

Novels let me escape-briefly–the things that discourage, the thoughts that push me down.  They let me trade the world I’m not too happy with for a world somewhere else. I love going deep into the story.

For me it’s like taking a deep breath.  It’s a respite—a little vacation.  It gives my mind and emotions a break.

Then I can return to real life, usually with a lighter heart and more settled mind.

And then I seem ready to better listen to what God wants to say to me in the turmoil.

What about you?  What helps you settle mind and emotions?

C2012 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Transforming Reads

Escape to Real Life

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It’s been 15 years since my father, James T Downs III, went home to heaven.

Father’s Day seems a good time to reminisce.

I remember my daddy as a very hard worker—at work, around the house, out at the farm. Always working.

He delivered babies, and many times a middle-of-the-night phone call got him up and off to the hospital.

Sometimes on Sundays he would take me with him to the hospital for rounds to visit the new mommies.  I loved seeing the babies, but it never made me want to go into medicine.

I always loved horses and was so grateful for the times my daddy took me to the Dallas County Charity Horse Show. I got to stay till the end and watch the jumpers.

I was especially grateful for his partnering with a doctor friend for me to ride Diane, a beautiful Palomino saddle horse.  For two years Diane and I learned together–and had adventures that have made great stories for my grandchildren.  When Diane left, my daddy bought Dawn, a huge, crazy horse who could have killed my sister and me.  What parents don’t know….

Once he took me fishing in Christmas Bay near Freeport, Texas, in a small motorboat.  We didn’t catch any fish, but it was quite exciting when we pulled a big sting ray into that tiny boat.

My daddy was a frequent hunter.  I didn’t like killing animals, but I loved shooting.  He taught me to use the .22 rifle and the .410 shotgun.  For target practice we sank cans in the stock pond at the farm–I’m sure that lake still has many of my rusted soda cans.

My father surely deserves some credit for my editing skills—he corrected our grammar every night at dinner.  I loved it—it was a game to me.  I still love grammar, and have been known to correct my children.  Now they find great pleasure in catching me in a grammatical error.

One of my favorite memories of my daddy is coming into the den late at night to find him reading one of the Great Books of the Western World.  I imagine that is some of the source of my love of reading.

Happy Father’s Day and thanks for the memories, Daddy.

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So it’s been awhile since I’ve added any books to Transforming Reads.  The past few months have been full, including extensive travel.  Which means time to read.  So here are quite a number of new books for you.

Strengthening My Soul

A Praying Life:  Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller—a call to a childlike living out of a relationship and conversation with God

The Grace of God  by Andy Stanley—a beautiful unfolding of God’s grace through stories and people, first in the Old Testament, then in the new.  Really helpful.

What’s So Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey-Phil’s usual in-depth research, truthful consideration of hard stuff—and amazing insights into the grace of God

All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir  by Brennan Manning—a powerful  (probably) last book in which Brennan tells the story of his ongoing battle with alcohol and God’s ongoing grace to him

Making Me Think

Junia Is Not Alone  by Scot McKnighta look at Junia and other women Paul worked with and commended, especially in Romans 16

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan F. Johnson, General Editor—Numerous Christian leaders recount their journey to believing God is delighted to have women lead in His church.

Making Me Laugh and Think

Imaginary Jesus:  A not-quite-true story by Matt Mikalatos –A funny and profound uncovering of our imaginary versions of Jesus in search of the real Jesus

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man’s Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed  by Matt Mikalatos—Are you really alive as a Christian?  Matt again applies his really weird humor, along with zombies, werewolves, vampires and a mad scientist to expose the reality of too many living dead Christians.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me:  A Memoir…of sorts  by Ian Morgan Cron—a sad and funny story of a difficult life and finding God

She’s Got Issues: Seriously Good News for Stressed-Out, Secretly Scared Control Freaks Like Us by Nicole Unice—an open and honest look at issues we all might have—control, insecurity, comparisons, fear, anger—with practical helps for working on them

Fiction

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson—this novel is a beautifully written reflection on life and meaning by an old minister for his young son.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey—magical realism set in Alaska—filled with beauty, mystery, joy and sadness

Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel –Rachel is a good Christian young woman—and then life falls apart and God seems to have abandoned her.  So she abandons him.

My New Books

Secrets of Success: Letters to My ChildrenPractical realities for succeeding in life: 30 minutes to read, a lifetime to live

Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Restliving with prodigals, or difficult people or circumstances, can be exhausting.  God repeatedly promises rest. This is a FREE E-Book.

What about you?  What have you been reading lately?

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Mary Lee Bright

I had the great privilege of writing and editing with Bill Bright for 14 years.  One my favorite articles of his was one about the three people who had influenced him the most in life:  his mother, a single church leader/educator and his wife, Vonette.  I am going to let him tell you about each one over the next few weeks.

Last week I posted some of his perspective on Jesus’ view of women.  This week we discover how his mother, Mary Lee Bright, had great impact on him.  Elsewhere he has written that he attributes his finally coming to Christ to his mother’s persistent prayers.

The first of the three women [who greatly influenced my life]was my mother.  I remember her reading to our family gathered around the fire when we were snowbound at the ranch where I grew up.  She was familiar with the classics and, as we sat eating popcorn, she read to us.  With seven children in the family, there was always a book report due from one of us for school, so we all benefited year-round from her reading.

But I gained much more than an appreciation for good books from my mother.  She modeled authentic Christianity before me in dozens of ways.  Although we rose early to begin our dawn-to-dusk hard work on the ranch, my mother was always up before the rest of the family, reading the Bible and praying.  I remember her softly humming hymns of worship to the Lord all day long, and after the rest of us had gone to bed, she would again read her Bible and pray.

At the time I supposed all mothers were like that.  It never occurred to me that mine was unusual.  Now, of course, I realize that she was truly one of God’s choicest servants.

Bill Bright with his mother and father

Among the many lessons I learned from her were the importance of hard work, a gracious spirit, humility and unselfishly looking after the needs of others.  Even though our nearest neighbor was at least a half mile away and others even farther, my mother was always there when a neighbor was ill or hurting.

She also had a great love for her family.  We never felt that she singled any of us out as her favorites, but we felt as though we were all her favorites.

We lived about five miles from the nearest community, so I had quite a walk home after athletic practice or school plays.  Frequently my mother would meet me about a mile or two from home and we would walk back to the house together, talking about whatever was on my mind.

My mother had a profound spiritual influence on my life.  She dedicated me to the Lord before I was born, and her prayers, enhanced by her godly lifestyle, undergirded me daily for the next 62 years, until her death in December, 1983.

Next week we will learn how Dr. Henrietta Mears had significant impact on Bill Bright’s life.

c1987 CCCI

What about you?  How did your mother influence you?  As a parent, how are you impacting your children?

<  Jesus’ View of Women   Dr. Henrietta Mears  >   Vonette Bright  >>

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So REST has been my word for 2011, though I can’t say I am feeling “rested” yet.  Still working on resting.

I have discovered, however, that there are places in my life that refresh my spirit and my body, providing a Sabbath experience for me.

Three of them, all very different, have restored and revived me repeatedly.

Ride a Horse.

I can’t remember when I didn’t love horses.   My early birthday gifts were usually coupons to ride at Glen Lakes Stables.  My first horse was Diane, a feisty palomino, followed by Dawn, a crazy horse who could easily have killed me.  My college summers were spent teaching riding to 6-12-year-old girls at Merriwood Day Camp.  I loved it!

I don’t ride often now, with waning confidence and non-existent gripping muscles to prove it.  But gratefully I have occasional opportunities to put my boots on and saddle up.

The moment I settle into the saddle, I’m at peace.  Solace.  Comfort.  Rest.

I realize this is not the experience of most, but for me riding is both exhilarating and reviving.  An hour or two on horseback  just exploring creation beauty—it’s always beautiful where I ride, it seems—are better than any spa treatment for me.

Riding is Sabbath for me.

Read a Story

I love a good story.  I immerse myself in the lives of the characters of any novel I read.  When I am weary—or discouraged or burdened—I make a temporary exchange.  I trade the exhaustion of my current experience for the adventure of fictional people.

In recent years I have chosen biographies instead, especially the stories of women and men who have surrendered their lives to serve God wherever He sends them.  So challenging and uplifting.

I know I can’t employ this kind of escapism to avoid real issues and situations in my life, but I also know that escaping into another story—for a little while—is restorative for me.

Reading is Sabbath for me.

Relax at the Beach.

The beach has become my optimum place of rest.  Once or twice a year, I head to the shore for a few days or even a few weeks.

I love the sound of the waves, long walks along water’s edge, sunshine.  Those things in themselves are refreshing.

But what makes my time at the beach truly restful is what I do there.  I sleep.  I spend lots of time with God—in His Word and on my knees. I listen to what He is saying.  We talk and talk as I walk and walk.  And I read—once I read seven books, but usually two or three.

Relaxing at the beach is Sabbath for me.

 

What about you?  What places give rest to your life?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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I’ve been traveling—I actually just finished a trip that took me around the world.  One of the best things about long flights (like 17 hours) is that I can read.  My Kindle makes it possible for me to take many books to choose from without extra weight.  Love it!!

So here is some of my reading for the past several months, though I have several I’m still working on.  These will all be added under the Transforming Reads tab.

Strengthening My Soul

Windows of the Soul:  Experiencing God in New Ways by Ken Gire– Ken Gire is one of my favorite writers—his writing is beautiful and his spiritual insights are incisive. His Intimate Moments with the Savior series was life-changing.  And he has done it again.  Windows of the Soul are just that—openings to let God into every crevice of my life.

Making Me Think

Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels—A journey from Nice Girl to Good Woman to Dangerous Woman.  Every woman should take such a journey.

The Missional Mom:  Living with Purpose at Home and in the World by Helen Lee—A homeschooling mother of boys, Helen describes embracing her call as a mom and as a missional Christian and becoming—for herself and her family—a culture rebel committed to making a difference in her world.

Widening My World

A Heart for Freedom:  The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape and Her Quest to Free China’s Daughters by Chai Ling—From a simple Chinese village to Tiananmen Square to running for her life to a successful business in the U S, Chai Ling tells the true details of the the student uprising and her path to becoming a voice for the millions of baby girls aborted, killed or abandoned in China.

Love You More:  The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter by Jennifer Grant—A heart yearning and a word from God assured Jennifer that God had chosen a baby girl to add to their family.  The journey from that assurance to finding, meeting and bringing home a Guatemalan child is sweet, challenging, long and beautiful.

Fiction

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy L Sayers—I’ve read several of Sayers’ Peter Wimsey mysteries, and this is my favorite.  I love the perfect writing, the amazing characters, the suspense, the adventure, the surprises.  But, I did figure out whodunit about halfway through.

What have you been reading?  What impact has it had on you?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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I don’t get to read nearly as much as I would like to, but here are three more books that have touched me deeply.  I hope they will you as well.

Lives that Inspire

Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand—An amazing story of an Olympic runner who spent almost 3 months floating on the Pacific, then two years of torture and deprivation in Japanese prison camps.

Making Me Think

One.Life:  Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight—a powerful call to follow Jesus in the life he modeled and taught, to consider how doing so will change how we live?

Strengthening My Soul

Souvenirs of Solitude:  Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace by Brennan Manning—beautiful reflections on God’s gentle, insistent tug on our hearts.

en español: Más Lecturas Transformadoras 2

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This post is from my new Kindling page:  Transforming Reads

I love to read. I love entering the lives of the characters in the stories I read.  I used to do it a lot more.  I can remember in high school bringing 1500-page books home over holidays and always finishing them. Now  I have to fight for reading time—my list/stack to read is so big.  I am always getting new recommendations, and discovering new delights.

In Transforming Reads  I am just beginning to create a list of some of the books that have influenced me.  Many of these are recent, some are from the past.  This is not at all an exhaustive list.  I will add and subtract in the days and months ahead.  I am sure you have many others on your list.

But here is a first pass to gather some Transforming Reads in hopes that God might use some to impact your life as well, to be kindling for your heart and mind.

Strengthening My Soul


The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen—a personal life journey

Embracing Grace by Scot McKnight—a gospel for all, being embraced by grace

The Beautiful Ache by Leigh McLeroy—the hurts of life that produce beauty

Almost anything by Amy Carmichael—simple and profound insights into God’s Word

Widening My World


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas           Kristov—a profround look at the status of women around the globe

Terrify No More by Gary Haugen—harrowing but hopeful stories of rescuing young girls from trafficking

The Help by Kathryn Stockett—the stories of black maids working for white families in Mississippi in the 1960’s

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See—a novel about girls and women in China in the mid-1800’s

The Girl in the Orange Dress by Margot Starbuck—a memoir of an adopted girl searching for a father who does not fail

Making Me Think

The Prodigal God:  Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller—an outrageous God who pursues the rebellious ones he loves

The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight—reading the Bible as story, with tradition rather than through tradition
When Life and Beliefs Collide:  How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James—what you believe about God is your theology

Lost Women of the Bible by Carolyn Custis James—amazing fresh vision of God’s intentions in creating women


The Gospel of Ruth:  Loving God Enough to Break the Rules
by Carolyn Custis James—this story of Ruth and Naomi is no sugary romance, but a battle for redemption

Lives that Inspire

Not Less Than Everything:  The Courageous Women Who Carried the
Christian Gospel to China
by Valerie Griffiths—incredible stories of how God used (mostly) single women to take the good news to the interior

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Elliot—Amy went to India as a missionary and became the mother to thousands of rescued children

The Heavenly Man:  The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway—a story of persecution and faith and miracles

Devotionals

Intimate Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire—powerful telling of encounters with the Savior   (and the other 3 books in the series)

Many Amy Carmichael books:  Whispers of His Power, Candles in the Dark, Edges of His Ways, Gold by Moonlight

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Sad.  Down.  Moody.  Melancholic.  Depressed.

I can get that way sometimes.  Not usually depressed, but certainly the others.

I have found a solution that always works:  I read a novel.  I get out of my story—and how I am feeling about it—and into another story.  Novels are rarely short, and I can be so drawn in that I stay up all night reading.

The novel does the job—it takes me somewhere else.  But that somewhere else was rarely better—just different.

One day the Lord gave me a strong challenge:  “Instead of reading novels to escape your mood, why not read about the men and women who have given their lives to serve Me.”  Missionary biographies.  I would still get into other stories—but what stories!  Stories of love and courage, sacrifice and hardship, transformation and hope.  Real life.

I will never regret that I said yes.  The impact their lives have had on my life is amazing.

So in case you would like to take up the challenge, here are a few of the stories I have entered:

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Elliot

Amazing Faith: The Authorized Biography of Bill Bright by Michael Lewis Richardson

Autobiography of George Muller by George Müller

Bruchko by Bruce Olson

Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story
by Earl Roe
In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn (a powerful story)

Mountain Rain: The Biography of J O Fraser Pioneer Missionary to China by Eileen Crossman

Not Less Than Everything: The Courageous Women Who Carried the Christian Gospel to China by Valerie Griffiths  (one of my favorite books)

Praying Hyde: The Life of John Praying Hyde by E.G. Carre
Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliot
Spiritual Secret of Hudson Taylor by Dr. Howard Taylor, Mrs. Howard Taylor

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot  (from the journals of Jim Elliot)
Until the Day Breaks: Life and Work of Lilias Trotter by Patricia St John
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom
William Carey and the Missionary Vision by Daniel Webber

And if you don’t know who they are, look them up.  You should meet them.

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