Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Year End Review: Books

A few years ago, I started keeping a list of books I read and movies I saw throughout the year. As I look back on 2012, here is a list of books I read (in order):

Longing - Karen Kingsbury
Enemies of the Heart - Andy Stanley
Poke the Box - Seth Godin
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Loving - Karen Kingsbury
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Coming Home - Karen Kingsbury
Saying It Well - Chuck Swindoll
The Cavendish Home for Boys & Girls - Claire Legrand
Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts - Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
The Mystery of God's Will - Chuck Swindoll

It's not as many as I thought, but I can look back on the year and see seasons of intensive reading and seasons when I took a break. Clearly, three authors dominated my book time: Karen Kingsbury, Suzanne Collins, and Chuck Swindoll.

Karen Kingsbury: I was introduced to this fantastic author through my mom. After just one book, I was hooked. What started with one book turned into a huge series of books broken up into 4- to 5-book mini-series that focused on the Baxter family and their close friends. These characters have become almost like family over the years as I have celebrated, cried, struggled, and grown with each of them. But one of the most special things is sharing these books and their themes with my mom, sister, and a few friends who came along with us.

Suzanne Collins: My sister inspired my parents and me to read the Hunger Games trilogy. We passed the books around and consumed them. Again, the themes of the books were the subjects of many conversations. After watching the first movie, we're looking forward to seeing the approach to capturing the second book on film.

Chuck Swindoll: I find it difficult to articulate how God has used this man in my life. Growing up, dad often mentioned listening to Chuck on the radio. It wasn't until 2007 when I moved back home after college that I realized he preached at a nearby church and started visiting. I was instantly challenged by the messages he brought each Sunday and got hooked on Insight for Living. In March 2010, I traveled to IFL - a trip I will never forget and hope to experience again. As I've read a number of his books now, you'll find each of them with scribbles and highlights and dog-eared pages that help me keep track of invaluable advice I've gleaned. Here are some key points from The Mystery of God's Will:

"To give Him our wills and to align our wills to His will requires the abandonment of what we prefer, what we want or what we would choose" (p. 5).

"The better you get to know the Word of God, the less confusing is the will of God. Those who struggle the least with the will of God are those who know the Word of God best" (p. 30).

"Obeying and delighting in God's will leads us to make major adjustments. And that requires us to release and risk - releasing the familiar and risking whatever the future may bring. That's the bottom line of fleshing out God's will" (p. 70).

"However, there still dwells within us this tendency to do wrong. Because we're 'bent' in that direction within, so it keeps rearing its ugly head, keeps coming back, keeps revisiting us. Even though we are right with God, we still must fight the good fight - stay engaged in the battle against sin. Whoever denies this is simply denying reality" (p. 165).

"It isn't that God does it all and I do nothing. It's that God does His part, and then I do mine. God sends the signals, and as I read them, I respond in obedience...and that simple plan results in my experiencing His holy will" (p. 168).


I could go on and on, quoting so many insights from this book that truly resonated in me. Suffice it to say that I needed these words of wisdom in the last quarter of this year. I faced some unexpected challenges and setbacks that I would never have imagined. Reading this book was a great encouragement during that time, and I know I will carry the truths with me far into the future.

The power of words on the page of a book or handwritten words in a card is lasting. To think long and hard about penning truth or words of love and encouragement is a true gift, whether to a specific person or for the world to see. Never doubt the impact your words can have on a life.

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