Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Reading 2017... and how it has changed me

As college starts up next week, my summer is quickly coming to a close. I set a goal to "read a lot" in the summer. Without any major or specific books in mind, I simply went for it and read a lot. With all the busyness of travel and college preparation, I surprised myself with how many books I read, and I decided I wanted to share with you the six that I completed this summer of 2017.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst... I went through this book with a mentor and best friend as we entered the busy season of summer and looked on to the future of college. Through the book and the times meeting together, we learned what it means to choose the best yes. God places many good decisions in our life because if there was only one wrong choice and only one good choice, we would lose are free will when it comes to choosing good. While there are many good decisions to choose from, Lysa encourages her readers to decide what is best in your life. She shows how to practically apply wisdom to those many decisions.

"There is no perfect decision--only the perfectly surrendered decision to press through our fears and know that God is working in us to bring about good through us."

I have applied the wisdom in this book so much already. I tend to be a people pleaser--never saying no because I feel obligated and guilty if I don't help someone--but this book has helped me identify when to say no and when to say yes. Whether it be saying no to a coffee date because my schedule is already filled, saying yes to playing with my siblings because I'm moving out for college soon, this book is filled with insight on how to make the best yes.

The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick... I'll be honest, I started reading this book because it was a requirement for a leadership position I was in. However, after the first chapter, I was hooked. Lomenick intertwines profound leadership principles with real life examples of people living out those principles. He doesn't write about unattainable qualities, but urges leaders to step up and lead NOW.

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom like,

"Always choose the job that no one else wants."

"Capable leaders are constant leaders."

"Making a difference many times starts with just simply making a move."

"See where you want to be and lead like you're already there."

While challenging, this book gets leaders excited to lead now. In my own life, repeating the little sayings of wisdom (some seen above) pushes me to meet the challenge and pursue excellence in leadership.

7 Women by Eric Metaxas... About a year ago, I read Metaxas' 7 Men, and I was amazed by how he put his readers into the shoes and lives of the men he wrote about. I knew I needed to read his following book about seven amazing women of the world. This book shows how seven women, each in different situations, changed the world for the glory of God. 

"Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa--each of these world-changing figures followed the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity."

I have been challenged to look into the lives of these women and apply the character qualities in my own life so I, too, can change the world. 

The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas... I have wanted to read this book for a while, but I finally pushed myself to read it over this summer. Thomas inspires his readers to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first as you step into a season of looking for a marriage partner. He covers a variety of topics in order to help readers prepare their own heart for marriage before they look for someone to marry. Thomas uses Scripture to navigate the "why" of marriage, not the "who."

"[Bad marriages] usually erupt from trying to build a life together without purpose, without mission, without something that not only establishes a connection but keeps you caring about each other for the next fifty to sixty years."

I have applied this book in my own life through the wisdom it offers combined with the wisdom of the Word. Anyone who thinks they would like to get married, is in a dating relationship, or is already married should read this book!

The Bible's Seven Secrets to Healthy Eating by Joyce Rogers... With my interest in being a dietitian, my dad pulled this treasure out of his office library and gave it to me to read. I have been so challenged and inspired by Mrs. Rogers' book. She applies both Scripture and healthy eating to how we should treat our bodies. As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we need to take care for our bodies in any way we can.

Mrs. Rogers quotes from Dr. Baxter who said, "How many thousands today are in our overcrowded hospitals who never would have been there but for wrong eating! How many have inadvertently committed slow suicide with their knifes and forks!"

I have definitely been able to apply this book as I store up her wisdom for my future career. Making it practical for anyone, Mrs. Rogers places a list of recipes in the back of the book so that readers can apply what she taught in the earlier part of the book. 

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris... My boyfriend recommended this book to me, and I could not put it down when I started reading it. This book is written by teens, for teens, to challenge each other to rebel against low expectations. The Harris twins incorporate real life stories of teens changing the world and wisdom that fills each page of the book. It truly inspires readers to get up and do hard things NOW.

"'Do hard things' means fighting for greater levels of excellence because there is always something harder to do," the Harris twins quote from a real life rebelutionary.

"If we're willing to strive for excellence, even in the boring, repetitive tasks and responsibilities that others delegate or neglect, we will reap the powerful benefits that others miss."

I have applied this by rebelling against the low expectations arising in college. The biggest one seeming to be that most college students fall away from their faith. I am choosing to go against the flow and pursuing the relationship with Christ that He desires me to have with Him. I've "no less days to sing His praise" so why stop in college? Every teen NEEDS to read this book.

Dr. Jay Strack says, "You will be the same person 10 years from now except for the books you read." I have seen this true in my life... at the beginning of this summer, I didn't have all of this wisdom I received from all of these different books. My life would've looked totally different now had I not read these books. 

This is my challenge to you: are you reading? 

Years ago I would've answered yes... I was reading Christian fiction and romance novels. But how does that help me change the world? 

Are you reading biographies of Christian men and women? Are you challenging yourself with leadership or career-based books?

Learn from others' lives through reading their life stories. What (or Who) gave them the power to change the world? Soak wisdom up from scholars who base their works of the Word of God, and who challenge you to live every aspect of your life (dating, career, leadership) for the glory of God. 

If you do not have a current reading list, I encourage you to start with one of these. 

Read. Learn. Be changed.