Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Joy of the Gospel - Pope Francis

Amazon description This special edition of Pope Francis's popular message of hope explores themes that are important for believers in the 21st century. Examining the many obstacles to faith and what can be done to overcome those hurdles, he emphasizes the importance of service to God and all his creation. Advocating for “the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned,” the Holy Father shows us how to respond to poverty and current economic challenges that affect us locally and globally. Ultimately, Pope Francis demonstrates how to develop a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ, “to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small.”
Profound in its insight, yet warm and accessible in its tone, The Joy of the Gospel is a call to action to live a life motivated by divine love and, in turn, to experience heaven on earth. 
Includes a foreword by Robert Barron, author of Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith and James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

This book is filled with wisdom from our Pope.  He really emphasizes how important it is for all Christians to be evangelizers for the faith (and doing it with joy). He points out some of the most needy in the world are being abandoned, ignored, and shunned.  He speaks of obstacles and ways of overcoming them.  He speaks of the beauty of our faith.  

Sections in the book include:
The Church's Missionary Transformation
Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment
The Proclamation of the Gospel
The Social Dimensions of Evangelization
Spirit-filled Evangelizers

My favorite chapter is on Social Dimensions of Evangelization.  It is so helpful!  It gives you direction on how to live the Gospels in your daily life.  There is so much good stuff packed into this chapter!  

I chose this as one of my spiritual readings for Lent.  It was a perfect choice for me - filled with beauty, wisdom, and advice. Perfect reflection during Lent!  I have probably highlighted over half the book! I thought it was really wonderful to see and meet the Pope in own words and to get to know this wonderful man, and his thoughts on God and Heaven, a little better.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gift from the Sea - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In this inimitable, beloved classic—graceful, lucid and lyrical—Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives.

So, this book.  I had a love-hate relationship with it.  There are some really good points/themes in there.  I mean, really great ones.  I highlighted a lot in this book.  That said, I had a problem connecting with it.  I don't really know why.  Maybe it's because I can't imagine sitting on the beach for a week, contemplating shells.  Maybe I just got tired of the shell theme and just wanted to get the information she was presenting.   While at first I thought the shell reference was interesting, by the end it was grating on my nerves a bit.
I would almost have to force myself to open this book, but once I did, I would get sucked into it and find myself nodding in agreement and giving virtual high fives to her. I can't really put my finger on what my issue was with it but I didn't love it.  I liked it.  I liked it quite a bit but I didn't love it.  

So now let me point out some of the great things about this book and why you may want to read it. This book was written in the 50's but it is still so relevant and applicable today. The author spends time talking about the need to slow down and simply our lives. She also talks about how important it is to take time for yourself and be creative (in whatever your preferred outlet may be - cooking, painting, etc) and how this isn't something that should be ignored or compromised.  She discusses the different phases of life (through the story of shells, collected on the beach) and she does it beautifully.  She has a way with words and does a fantastic job of turning a lovely phrase. She especially relates this book to mothers but I think it is applicable to everyone.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom

From the Back Cover

"Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see."--Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler's concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.

Here is the riveting account of how Corrie and her family were able to save many of God's chosen people. For 35 years millions have seen that there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still. Now The Hiding Place, repackaged for a new generation of readers, continues to declare that God's love will overcome, heal, and restore.

Wow!!  What an amazing, inspirational book.  I'm embarrassed to say that until I picked it up to read it last week, I'd never even heard of this book.

Reading about Corrie, Betsie, and the rest of her family was such a great gift for me.  I would hope that if I were ever in any situations like the ones they faced, that I would react in a similar fashion.  It was so wonderful to see that over and over again, this family made the right decisions even when it was hard.  Even when it seemed that they would suffer terrible consequences.  They made the right decisions with total faith in God. They helped when they could have turned a blind eye.  They shared what little they had in prison knowing it may never be replenished.  Their absolute faith in God was so powerful! What absolutely amazing lessons that you can learn from this book!

One of my favorite parts of  the book is the Father and the suitcase.  He explained to Corrie that just as he wouldn't give her his heavy suitcase to carry, he couldn't share something with her yet because she wasn't ready (old/mature enough) for it yet.  He asked her to let him carry that for her a little longer, until she was ready to hear it.  It was a lesson that she carried with her throughout all of her struggles.  I need to remember this lesson in my own life - that God will give me what I need when I need it.  He won't give me more than I can handle, just as Corrie's dad didn't give her the heavy suitcase to carry because she wasn't ready for it yet.  There are so many fantastic stories and lessons in this book, this is just one that really struck me.

I've read several books about victims in Nazi concentration camps and while they have all been emotional, powerful books, this one was slightly different. It still described the dire situations and the struggle to survive but there was always this hope, this faith in God, this knowledge that it was in His hands and He would see them through. This gives me something to strive for in my own faith journey.

Oh, and a little plug for the group that helped me discover this book.  It's called Mentoring in the Classics and it is amazing! Here's the link to the program - .  I highly recommend it!!