Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Overload

I read a lot of books...all at once.  I started thinking about how many open and un-finished books I have laying around.  They're all practical in some way.  I love fiction, but find I'm an irresponsible parent when I open one of those.  I get so obsessed with what happens next and how it ends, that I won't put it down or tend to basic needs of my kids.  So, practical books in short 10-minute stints it is for me.  

I've found most of these books are themed around simplifying, and controlling the chaos in my life.  Maybe God is working on my heart in this area???

Here are the ones I currently have open.  I'll do my best to give a brief synopsis, but will likely butcher it.  And let's face it, I haven't completed any of them, so these aren't critiques for the most part.

1) 1000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!  It is absolutely life-changing.  She has been through the trenches.  Not a person who has developed a hokey theology based on something fluffy.  She very vulnerably shares her life and tears apart the scriptures to show where God has changed her outlook to one of constant thanksgiving.  This book has begun to really mess with me on days I want to complain.  She has done an excellent job at showing how we can trust God's goodness in all of life, even the painful parts.  She is a very poetic writer, and some of her sentences are so rich that I will pause there for several days to try to chew on it for a while.  

2) Organized Simplicity:the clutter-free approach to intentional living, by Tsh Oxenreider.   I haven't made it very far in this, but I like it.  She has some practical applications for decluttering, but her overall goal isn't just to make you purge your belongings, but to develop a life-purpose for your family.  Wouldn't we all live more fully if we actually thought about what was meaningful in our lives and wrote out a purpose...something we wanted others to see without reading, just by the actions we take?  Yes.  I haven't written one yet, but it is inspiring.  Of course, one episode of Hoarders on TLC is enough to make me want to throw away any meaningless thing in my life.

3)  Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn.  What I wanted when reading this?  Step-by-step plan and detailed schedule of how she keeps everything clean, everyone fed, everyone loved and happy, so I can stop trying to figure it out on my own.  It's not that.  It's an easy read though.  It seems to normalize the feelings of a mom with a larger family.  The looks and comments you get in public are universal, apparently.  Not that 4 kids is a huge amount, but in public you'd think it was 13 by the comments I get.  She does have some practical ideas that are really common sense, just not a detailed schedule that will take all guesswork out for me.  It's probably better that way.  In reality, when I see some moms schedules written out where they rise at 5 am, keeping every single minute structured until they lay down at 10 and "keep their husband happy," I get a little nauseous.  

4)  Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley.  This book has been truly transforming.  I sort-of wish the title were different, because when said "difficult child" reads the title, it's a little painful.  I told her the truth: it's actually about transforming the parent so that the child feels more loved and her needs are better met.  But, if they titled it in a way that it's meant to change the parent, probably nobody would read it, because we want to believe it's all our kids' fault.  I love this book, because it's helped us change the way we do things.  It's natural for parents to just get in this cycle of "kid acts up, parent punishes."  This book encourages "upside down parenting," where you notice everything your child does...not praise it, just offer neutral comments, like "I see you're coloring with a green crayon..."  It feels so unnatural at first, but it's amazing how quickly your child perks up with this.  It has to go beyond neutral "good job!" comments...they know those are neutral and not really noticing them.  Then, when they trust you more because you notice them more, you can implement a points system, and simple corrections when needed.  There are so many details in this book.  I am doing it a serious injustice.  It's a book filled with much wisdom and no guilt.  I like it so much that I've bought it twice.  Why?  Because I returned my copy to the library and they never found it.  Darn it!

5) Family Feasts for $75 a Week, by Mary Ostyn.  This is nice.  She gets healthy eating, and goes beyond couponing (which I just cannot seem to do), and gives practical ways to feed a big family.  I struggle with keeping down my grocery budget.  It is expensive to eat non-processed food.  This has 200 recipes as well.  I've only tried a few, but I like it.  Many of them are cultured, as she has 6 adopted children from other countries and wants to feed them food that will remind them of their first home.  Lots of tips in this book...I pick it up a lot when we're watching tv at night and I want to think of a dinner recipe or plan, or want a few tips.

6) Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, by David Platt.  I literally just opened this last night, so I definitely can't tell you much.  But, I am moved by the first chapter...seriously moved.  I try to be a person who doesn't just follow all of our cultural norms, but I am amazed by what is written how much I've truly allowed myself to be shaped by our culture.  I decided to get this book when a friend posted on facebook that she had read it, went out and bought a house on auction, and wants to pay off debts and adopt as many children as possible.  It messed with me, so I bought it.  So far, he lists several of the things Jesus actually says, and how that looks like "radical abandonment," and even says, "We're settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."  Ouch.  He also says, "We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.  A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.   A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection.  A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are.  A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether.  a Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."   I probably didn't make you want to read this book, I'm guessing.  I do not find capitalism evil, and don't expect to by the end of this book (because I don't believe that's the goal).  If not for people who make money, we don't have any to make a difference in the world, but I do expect to have a changed heart in what matters most to me...because I do love Jesus enough to figure out how to love Him more than me.  So there!  

7) Stepping out of Denial and Into God's Grace, by John Baker.  This is the first book in the Celebrate Recovery participant guides.  If you haven't heard of Celebrate Recovery, you should Google it and find out.  It's an amazing program targeted at everyone.  Basic premise is that we all have "hurts, habits, and hang-ups" and we can use our relationship with Jesus to find healing.  I have this amazing group of women that I meet with weekly (when it isn't summer), and we decided we could do this step-study together.  I started it thinking I really didn't have much to discuss, but God's amazing grace would tell me otherwise...that I have plenty to change.  It's so good to be open to change.  

This concludes a glimpse into what I'm reading and doing.  Have a nice day!


SarahinOK said...

Just now reading your blog (haven't read any in a few weeks, or written much for that matter!). So good to see you tonight, even if for a distracted few minutes of conversation while the kids splash around. :) I'm getting through 1000 gifts like you... I'm only 1/4 of the way through- but I'll read some of it and just stew on some profound statement for a day or two. I'm thankful for the 'difficult child' book recommendation... I'm wondering what effect it could have on me since I WAS the difficult child and now I'm the difficult parent. :)