Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book thoughts...

Well, I have to say I have succeeded in reading a lot for Adoption Awareness month, but not done so well in the writing and sharing my thoughts part. But oh well. Since my last post I have read 5 books that deal with the fatherless, ministry to children, at-risk children and youth and ways the Church can step up and make a difference. Most of them were books that I read a few years ago during some of my missions classes at LCU and some of them are ones I have gotten from various conferences. They were all great reads and I was grateful to refresh my memory of them as I read them with "older" eyes (instead of the eyes of a college student reading just to finish her homework). 

One of the best ones I read was by Dr. Wess Stafford, the president of Compassion International. While not a book strictly about adoption, Too Small to Ignore is a book written with his story mixed in while giving the facts of what hardships children endure and what the Church can do. He was raised in the Ivory Coast as a missionary kid. He has wonderful memories of being in his village of Nielle and not-so-wonderful memories of being abused at his board school. He shares his story, the good and the bad, and puts it in light of what children face every day around the world. It is an amazing book and one I would recommend to anyone, whether you're interested in adoption or not. 

One of the best parts of the book was the way that he tied his information and experiences into the stories of Jesus when the disciples are turning away the children. He took that Bible story that many glance over on a Sunday morning and made it come to life in light of a harsh reality. He wrote a lot about how Jesus became harsh and let his rage loose on the people (including his disciples) who were saying the children couldn't come near him. He showed how Jesus talked a lot about the fact that adults needed to become like children in order to enter the Kingdom or how Jesus said that if someone made life harder for a child, that person needed to be drowned with a weight around his neck. He used these stories to prove his point that while children are most often the easiest and first to be ignored and cast aside, Jesus says they are just as important (if not more) than anyone else. 

Dr. Wess Stafford is a champion for children all over the world. He spends every minute of every day raising support and awareness and money so that children around the world can have a chance at a better life. And he does it with the heart of Jesus beating inside of him. He does it with the stories of Jesus' compassion for children ever present in his mind. And he urges everyone to do the same. 

The whole book is fantastic, but one of the paragraphs he wrote really struck me as I thought about what can Spencer and I do? What does the Church need to do? What does the world need to do in order to help each and every child? He wrote: 
We must see them one child at a time. We must reach out to them one child at a time. If enough of us do this, great things can be accomplished!... It is the mandate of the Church to be salt and light in the world, bringing healing and hope wherever it is planted. Just as I argued earlier that societal change can start at the very bottom with the life of one child, I also believe in taking this cause to the very top of society. The Church -- that is, all of us who love the Lord -- needs to challenge our governments and cultures and make them accountable for the welfare of the youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Imagine the amazing good that could be accomplished systematically if powerful individuals, both nationally and internationally, could be motivated to use their influence on behalf of the little ones (page 245).
WOW! Talk about possibilities! If everyone stepped up and tried to make a difference for one child at a time, amazing changes could sweep across our world. But it's a matter of will we choose to see? Will we choose to step up? Will we choose to put ourselves last and the littlest of these first? 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Here is the list of books I have read so far as I seek to become more aware, more educated, more compassionate and more active on behalf of the world's children, and orphans specifically. I highly recommend all of them!

Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
Hands & Feet by Audio Adrenaline  
Raising Up Young Heroes by Efrem Smith 
Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story by John Sowers 
Too Small To Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford 
Whose Child is This? by Bill Wilson 
Reclaiming Our Prodigal Sons and Daughters: A Practical Approach for Connecting with Youth in Conflict by Scott Larson & Larry Brendtro 
Children of Hope by Vernon Brewer with Noel Brewer Yeatts

Friday, November 1, 2013

Two months behind... woops!

Well, let's just say that the last two months have been absolutely crazy busy. And even though I have read a ton and almost non-stop, I just have been lazy and not taken the time to sit down, take a break and write. Tonight that changes. I am enjoying the quiet and coolness of the evening while trying to focus on writing. 

The last two months have been filled with weddings (4 weekends in a row), church events, trips home, bonfires, post-season Cardinal baseball and lots of work. It's been good. Just very busy. But surprisingly, in the midst of all the busyness, I managed to spend a lot of time reading. In looking back, I really have no idea how I managed to read so much. And I didn't really read small books. Quite a few of them were 350+ pages long and I was breezing right through them, one after another. I enjoyed pretty much everything I read over the last two months and many of them have been added to my re-read list. 

This month is Adoption Awareness month. The type of adoption that has to do with the life and well-being of an orphaned child. Not a pet. And since adoption is such an important thing to me and something that my husband and I want to do as we begin and grow our family in the years to come (not til after student debt is paid and he is closer to be doing with his Masters), I am devoting this month to reading about adoption (international and domestic) and foster care. I am also going to the International Conference On Missions in Kansas City in a few weeks and so books on Christian missions will also be read this month as my excitement and passion for missions is refueled through the conference.

I am excited about what I have been reading and what I plan to read. I am finding more and more that reading is a way for me to continue my education, to refresh what I was taught in undergrad and a way to fuel my various passions. I am also loving being introduced to new writers and new types of books. As much as I love my Classics, I am enjoying stretching out into some more of the fantasy (Percy Jackson) and historical fiction (Philippa Gregory) genres. And I am just really content with my reading choices right now. I can't explain it any other way. 

Well, with all of that rambling done and out of the way... here are my combined stats for September and October. Enjoy and happy reading! 

Books read this month: 
SEPTEMBER: 
The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan  
The Journals of Jim Elliot by Jim Elliot (edited by Elisabeth Elliot) 
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

OCTOBER:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
Why Not Today by Matthew Cork & Kenneth Kemp 
The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory
The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan (a Percy Jackson and the Olympians companion book)
The Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan 
Great American Speeches edited by Gregory Suriano
Speechless: Living in Awe of God's Disruptive Grace by Steven Curtis Chapman
Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
Hands & Feet by Audio Adrenaline  
Raising Up Young Heroes by Efrem Smith
 
Favorite book read this month: 
SEPTEMBER:
 All of them... for real. 

OCTOBER:
Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman... 
this is seriously one of the best books I have ever read! 


Least favorite book read this month: 
SEPTEMBER:
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffry Chaucer...
parts of it were good, but it was a struggle to get through at times

OCTOBER:
Great American Speeches edited by Gregory Suriano... 
there were some great speeches, but overall I just had no interest in them. 
It probably didn't help that I started reading them out of frustration with our 
current President and the government shut-down. 


Number of pages read this month: 
SEPTEMBER:
3,230 pages

OCTOBER: 
3,315 pages  

Number of pages read this year: 
28,013 pages

Number of books read this year: 
96 books

Number of Classics read so far: 
18 of 76