A whole bunch of books and a salad dressing recipe. Because I like you.

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I’m sure I’m not alone (famous last words of someone who, in fact, is alone?!) when I say that the changing seasons makes me pour my nose more deeply into good, rich words.  When the crisp comes to the air and the cardigans embrace my shoulders I want nothing more than to curl up with a book.  This season has me in a number of them but I’ve been so thrilled with my reading selection as of late that I thought I should go back and share the last few in case you need some to add to your library reserve list.

This summer I finished two of Jeanette Walls books that I hadn’t gotten to yet.  I adored The Glass Castle when I was lent it some time ago (oh my word, I still have it!  I’m a bad returner.  Janet, I owe you a book and a coffee…or 4…)  I was drawn to the perfectly descriptive and quirky memoir, the tales too outrageous to be real, and yet, here they were as real and as heart warming as ever.  Her characters were instant faves in my mind and I just hadn’t gotten to her other two books yet.  Until the summer.  They were perfect summer reads.  Her writing is just lovely and draws you into the lives of these part beloved and part hooligan-esque creatures.  I started with Half-Broke Horses and moved on to The Silver Star.  I can’t decide which I like best so I’ll just tell you to read them all.  Also, Costco has them for under $10 so you really have no excuse.  Buy them for yourself for a stocking stuffer.  Or borrow them from Janet.  I mean, once I give it back to her.  Cause apparently she doesn’t get mad about you not returning stuff you borrow from her.

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I’ve been making my way slowly through Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine, only because I don’t want it to end.  Each chapter has the most beautiful words written about her life and about food and about sharing both around the table.  Plus there’s recipes!  It’s glorious.  If you have a desire to open your home up in hospitality and need a little nudge to do so, read this book.  Our home is already a revolving door and there’s no place everyones sits in our place but around the table and still her words breathe fresh life into my soul and new recipes into my repertoire!

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I’m pretty sure I’ve said this about other books before but with each new one I read my list of favourites gets longer.  Tattoos on the Heart is my favourite.  I want to tweet quotes on every second page.  I have highlighted and dog eared more pages than is good for anyone.  I’m 20 pages from finished and I already want to read it again.  There is beautiful insight mixed into the memories of living life alongside gang members on the streets of LA.  There is compassion beyond compare.  Thus, there is conviction beyond compare.  Gregory Boyle may lead a radical life but the intricate moments he shares make my heart swoon.  I’ll leave you with just one longish one because it’s the last one I highlighted, not because it’s the best.  Who can pick a best in a book like this?

Twenty years of this work has taught me that God has greater comfort with inverting categories than I do.  What is success and what is failure?  What is good and what is bad?  Setback or progress?  Great stock these days, especially in nonprofits, is placed in evidence-based outcomes.  People funders in particular, want to know if what you do, “works.”  Are you, in the end, successful?  Naturally, I find myself heartened by Mother Teresa’s take: “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.”  This distinction is helpful for me as I barricade myself against the daily dread of setback.  You need protection from the ebb and flow of three steps forward, five steps backward.  You trip over disappointment and recalcitrance every day, and it all becomes a muddle.  God intends it to be, I think.  For once you choose to hang out with folks who carry more burdens than they can bear, all bets seem off.  Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever’s sitting in front of you.  Embracing a strategy and an approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do on any given day.  If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business.  I find it hard enough to just be faithful.

Amen, brother.  Amen.

I was at a women’s thingie at our church a bit ago (I know!!!)  and a beautiful woman with children a bit older than mine recommended a book to our table.  She said, by way of encouragement, that we just need to take our children’s struggles and very lives to God in prayer.  How else can we do this parenting schtick?  None of us is smart enough, capable enough, with it enough, long-tempered enough to ensure that our kids will turn out just the way we want.  However, we do have a great God who is in control of all things and who listens to the prayers of His children.  I was convicted at my lack of prayer for my children.  I mean, yes, I pray with them and for them daily but the depth to which Stormie Omartian’s book The Power of a Praying Parent has taken my prayers is a game changer.  She prays things for her children I never in a thousand years would think to.  She offers scripture to pray over our children that would have never come to my mind.  Her insight is powerful and fantastic and has changed the entire way that I pray both with and for my kids.  I’m so thankful for this book even though I’m only halfway through.  It might be my new baby shower gift.  Is that lame and old, churchy lady like of me?  Probably.  And I don’t care.

With the munchkins over the summer we read The Magician’s Elephant which fast became their new favourite book.  (The apple doesn’t fall far…)  We loved Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Desperaux (Read the book, people!  Don’t just see the movie!) and so when we saw this new book by her we instantly snatched it up.  The reviews on the front of, “stories to snuggle up with on evenings or at christmas time…” made me love it before I even opened it.  But the fantastical story made us all fall in love with Peter Duchene and all the other quirky characters that are nearly always called by their full names, like how we refer to our friends from elementary school.  Just me?

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And finally, after we finished that one the boys and I moved onto A Long Way Gone:  Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.  I chose this one specifically, not that it’s the most comforting nighttime read aloud story, but because my boys are at an age where shooting things seems fun.  They want video games that blow stuff up and in the woods they like to hide and pretend they’re at war.  As a girl, I struggle to understand their need for violence though the more scripture I read and the more battle ready language I breathe in there, the more I’m grasping their intrinsic need to wage war.  Perhaps not in the shoot ’em up way, but in the dying to self sort of way.  Moving on from that tangent….I wanted them to see that guns and fighting and war is not glamourous.  It’s not something that only happens in movies, but that its something that is real and happening in our world right now.  To children.  It’s destroying lives of people they would be friends with should they live next door.  And so, enter this book about a 12 year old boy whose life was rocked by war in Sierra Leone.  It’s graphic and harsh but at my boys age they can take it and are being gripped by this boys life who is the same age as them.

What are you reading?  Have you grabbed anything off the shelf lately that’s rocked your world?

Oh, speaking of rocking your world, I’m going to leave you with this salad dressing recipe.  ‘Cause it will rock your world.  It rocked ours for our Thanksgiving dinner.  You’ll be so happy you tried it.  You’re welcome!!

Recipe found here.  I used goat cheese instead of bleu but that’s the only change I made.  Taste buds watering yet?

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