“….Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Hebrews 12:1

I have been a Sunday School teacher for almost 25 years, minus a few breaks.  I have taught all different ages, from toddlers to teens and everything in between.  It’s definitely been a learning curve and I am thankful for parents and pastors who have allowed me the opportunity.  I have had some incredible moments, such as when one young man convinced others in our class to be baptized, resulting in three of my class being baptized in Jesus’ name!  I also have had some epic fails; the Flying Marshmallows of 2014 tops that list!

You might ask, what do flying marshmallows have to do with teaching children about Jesus?  I’ll be honest, I don’t even remember what truth I was trying to illustrate with that activity!  The memory causes me to wince and I still shudder internally if I see marshmallows in a Sunday School room.  The gist of the activity was that the kids were divided into two teams, each with a pile of marshmallows.  They were given two minutes, throwing marshmallows across an imaginary line toward the other team, and when time was up whichever team had the least amount of marshmallows on their side of the line won!  Sounds like fun, right, and what eight-year-old wouldn’t love to throw marshmallows in Sunday School?  It was fun, until I realized that two minutes resulted in a 45-minute cleanup for me and my teenaged son, who was drafted to scrape marshmallow residue off the floor!

The original activity called for the use of ping pong balls, but in my “better judgement” I thought that marshmallows would be safer and a good use of the stale ones left over from a bonfire.  I didn’t account for a bunch of elementary children running like chickens being chased by a fox, leaving squished marshmallow goo all over the floor.  Since kids tend to wear shoes to Sunday School, it also meant the sticky residue was being tramped through the sanctuary as they left church!  Obviously, I didn’t plan for all the potential pitfalls of substituting marshmallows for ping pong balls!

When I told Terry about what happened, he looked at me in disbelief!  You need to understand that in our marriage, I am the idea person and he is the detail person.  I come up with grandiose plans, share my vision with him, and then leave him to figure out the details and make it happen!  He quietly admonished me with these words “Honey, next time you get an idea to adapt a game in Sunday School, please run it by me.  I might be able to see some possible problems.”

Knowing my tendency not to focus on details, when God convicted me to start this healthy living journey and to deal with my food addiction, I knew that I had to be more focused in this area.  In order to grow and change lifelong habits, I needed to set some goals, find ways to keep track of my goals and be introspective on the journey.  Starting off, I needed to set small, achievable goals, be honest with my heart in the process, and make sure that I was focused on pleasing God and not others.

I am going to share with you some strategies that have worked well for me.  These are specific strategies that I have applied to my journey, but if you are trying to break a food addiction, or any other habit that you need to change, these are general truths that can be applied in any area.   My prayer is that this list is a blessing to you, and also an encouragement for you to start your own journey.

1.  START TODAY BY STARTING SMALL: I shared in an earlier blog that I felt prompted from the Lord one morning to make some changes.  I didn’t change everything at once.  The first thing I did was download a tracking app to record what I was currently eating.  I also set a small goal on the app.  My first goal was to lose 25 lbs.  Slowly, but consistently, I incorporated healthier options into my daily menus by increasing vegetables and fruits, choosing healthier fats and reducing simple carbohydrates.  For example, I used to eat bagels dripping with melted butter for breakfast.  When I realized that bagels were loaded with calories that provided little nutritional value, it was easy for me to swap them out for scrambled eggs or oatmeal.

2.  MOVE AND KEEP MOVING: In the beginning, I was extremely out of shape.  I started by just moving a little more each day in my home.  I stopped using my downstairs bathroom, instead choosing to climb the stairs to the master bath on the second floor.  I stopped looking for a close parking spot, but chose to walk from the back of the lot.  Within a few months, I joined the gym.  My first attempt on the treadmill might seem pitiful to some, but I was happy with my ten minutes at 2.5 miles per hour.  I attempted to go at least three times a week and made it a priority in my schedule.  As I continued to go, I increased my level of activity and even tried new machines.  I now go 4-6 times a week for about an hour.  Find a way to move and make it a priority!

3.  LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU’RE FULL AND SATISFIED: You cannot be as overweight as I was and be self-aware of your eating habits.  I was used to stuffing myself and then some.  I had to learn to listen to my body and stop before I was stuffed.  This was a trial-and-error process where I still have room to grow.  I have learned that certain foods fill me up more quickly.  I have learned that if I choose to have dessert at a restaurant, I have a tendency to eat the whole dessert, so it is better for me to share the dessert with my husband or ask for a to-go box, right away.

4.  BE DISCERNING ABOUT WHAT GOES IN YOUR MOUTH: This may sound odd, but follow along with me.  Many times, I found myself eating food because it was a habit to stick food in my mouth, without paying attention to whether or not I really liked it.  I don’t really like chocolate chip cookies, unless they are made with Lindt chocolate chips and are hot from the oven.  I had to discern that fact, and not eat the Nestle Tollhouse cookies just because they were available.  I have also decided, I don’t love French fries in abundance.  I enjoy a few off my husband’s plate, but don’t need to eat a whole serving.

5.  PICK A PLAN THAT WORKS FOR YOU AND DON’T BE SANCTIMOUNIOUS ABOUT IT: Every one of us is created uniquely by God, with different likes and dislikes.  It follows that each of us need to make an educated decision on what healthy plan we are going to incorporate for ourselves for the rest of our lives.  Many overweight people have made the decision to have some sort of surgery to help them in their weight loss.  Others have done a Keto diet or have gone gluten free.  Personally, I have chosen to count calories through an app.  Whatever decision you make, make sure it is a sustainable plan for the rest of YOUR life.  I try to encourage others in their journey, listen to their choices, and not judge them for those choices.

6.  BE HONEST: This has been the hardest strategy to employ.  Some days I make poor choices despite my resolve to be healthy.  I try not to live in condemnation, but confess my weakness to God, analyze why I made that choice, and resolve to do better the next time.  For example, for a long time I was eating my whole meal or at least a large portion of it when I would go out to a favorite restaurant.  I justified it by all sorts of erroneous thoughts: the leftovers would be wasted, and then I wasn’t being a good steward with my money.  The truth was that I had little control when a large portion of food that I loved was set before me.  Now, I try to plan ahead, bringing a small cooler bag for the leftovers, or just leaving the leftovers at the restaurant.  I also try to cut the portion in half before I even start eating and focus on my conversation with my family and friends.  Am I perfect in this area?  No, but I’m honest with myself about my limitations and that I am still in need of God’s help!

7.  CELEBRATE VICTORIES BY GIVING THE GLORY TO GOD: This is another toughprinciple where it is hard to be transparent.  Last March or so, I made a Facebook post showing before-and-after pictures.  I have to admit I read every comment and zealously clicked to see who of my social media world liked my post.  And then I made room for the enemy of my soul to whisper words of criticism and doubt, creating pride and resentment.  I started wondering why certain people didn’t “like” my post.  I then started to wonder why certain people in my daily circle never made comments to me about my weight loss, or why they never complimented me on my new outfits.  God has been dealing with me in this area.  First of all, it may appear on the outside that I have a certain level of self-discipline.  Yet, I am made of flesh with the same propensity for addictions as others.  On a daily basis, I am asking God to make me more self-aware, so my victories in this journey are rooted in my relationship with God.  When I am seeking attention and accolades for myself, it becomes less about God and more about me.  There is nothing wrong with me sharing some victories, as long as I am pointing people back to the God who has strengthened me on this journey.  Also, if I speculate why others are not complimenting me, I am judging them and focusing on myself.  Now, when I post pictures, I have to be honest about my intentions. 

Today’s intention is to be a source of encouragement and to point people back to God. I am in no way done with this journey.  In the future, I will continue to blog about areas where I am growing and learning.  It is a journey and not a destination.  When I get discouraged, I am reminded of the words in Hebrews 12:1, “let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  The verse talks about laying aside every weight and sin that easily besets us.  I am examining every area of my life and not only literally, but figuratively, laying aside weight that has controlled me in the past

Chocolate Smears and Honesty

“Sanctify them by truth: your word is truth” John 17:17

A few years ago, a toddler under my care snuck a piece of candy, hiding in the kitchen to devour the stolen treasure.  I came into the room and saw chocolate drool dripping down his face, while one fist was clenched tightly behind his back.  I spoke to him softly, asking what he had been doing.  He replied “Miss Ferry (his affectionate nickname for me), I’m just sitting here, doing nothing!”  I asked him what was on his face, and again he denied anything as he attempted to wipe away the smear.  I then asked to see his hand, he quickly dropped the foil wrapper to the floor and showed me his empty hand.  I reached behind him and picked up the wrapper, confronting him with the truth.  Even with all of the evidence before him, he still attempted to deny that he had taken the piece of candy.  After a timeout, he approached me and sorrowfully admitted what I had recognized all along.

We all hear that story and giggle at the toddler’s feeble attempt to avoid the truth.  If we were sitting around a table, I am sure we could all share similar stories of different children in different places.  Children have a knack for avoiding obvious truths despite chocolate smears, broken glass or crying siblings.  We laugh at these stories and marvel at their senselessness.  Yet, as a sophisticated and supposedly wise adult, I too have made equally feeble attempts to avoid the truth, denying to myself facts that I don’t want to face, and appearing just as foolish!

I could’ve started today’s blog telling you that I am down 138 lbs., my lowest in this journey.  I could go on to tell you that I am only 6 lbs. away from my lowest weight ever as an adult.  I could also tell you that I finally moved out of the morbidly obese category that has plagued me for decades.  All of this would be true, and if I continued to list more non-scale victories, I would get a lot of accolades, puffing out my chest in pride, allowing me to continue my journey without introspection.

However, these victories don’t reflect all of the truth about this journey.  Sometimes, I’m still the toddler with the chocolate-smeared face hiding the candy wrapper behind my back.  Today’s scale victory can be seen as an accomplishment because it’s a two-lb. loss from my previously recorded weight.  What it doesn’t tell you is that since November, I have yo-yoed, going up as much as ten pounds.  Furthermore, the last thirty pounds lost have been slower than I would prefer, leaving me occasionally frustrated.

Picture of me with Hershey Chocolate smears!

I could continue to be the toddler, dropping the wrapper on the floor, if I chose to rely on some research I found about holiday weight gain.  According to the research, the concept of holiday weight gain is somewhat false.  Typically, the average person gains 1-2 lbs. during the holidays.  Often, our higher numbers indicate that we are consuming foods with higher amounts of sugar and starch, leading to water retention and bloating.  We also tend to sleep less during the holidays, which can also increase our scale numbers.  I could also attribute the weight gain to the rheumatoid arthritis inflammation that was evident in my body during the holidays, probably due to an increased sugar intake.

These facts may soothe my battered ego, erasing the scale reading from my memory and allowing me to move into January with renewed hope and a fresh start.  Yet, have I really learned anything about myself if I just hide behind research and my RA condition?  Am I really being honest with myself about my relationship with food?  Or am I just trying to find erroneous facts to support my cozy little scenario so I don’t have to be honest?

This denial reminds me of the Biblical story of Rachel stealing her father’s household idols and hiding them in her tent.  Rachel was justifiably upset that she was leaving behind her father and any inheritance due her.  In researching this text, we have no definitive answers as to why she took the idols.  Is it possible that maybe Rachel was not trusting God for her future?  Rachel’s father searched her tent, but because she had so cleverly hidden the idols, he left humiliated because of his apparently false accusation.  Until this year, I had always thought that Rachel had shrewdly gotten away with her sin without obvious consequence.  However, in rereading this passage, a portion of this story jumped out at me.  Before the search began, Jacob had declared in Genesis 31:32, “With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live.”  It’s interesting that shortly after this incident, we find that Rachel dies after giving birth to her second child.  Is it possible that her death was related to the stolen idols? This child should have been a blessing confirming that God had heard her earlier pleas.  She had begged her husband to give her more children, not just a single child.  But upon her death, rather than blessing her newborn son, she names him, Benoni, which means “son of my sorrow”.

The hidden idols may have been a symptom of a deeper problem in Rachel’s life.  She wasn’t just hiding idols, she wasn’t trusting God to provide properly for her life.  She trusted her own abilities and schemed to protect her life in a way that may have led to her death!

If I relate Rachel’s deeper issues to my weight struggles, not only in these last two months, but for all of my adult life, I instantly feel like my toe has been stubbed, and I cry out, “Ouch!”  I, too, have hidden behind my extra poundage to avoid trusting God completely in my life.  I have tried to lose weight by my own self-discipline and sought validation from external sources.  I have used pizza, burgers and bagels, which never truly satisfy, to fill my emptiness, instead of relying on God, who always satisfies.  I have made excuses for my weight issues, instead of acknowledging that this was an area where God was desperately trying to get my attention.  I honestly believe if I had continued on the path I was on 138 lbs. ago, like Rachel, I would have also died an early death due to subsequent health issues, never allowing God to sanctify me the way He wanted to by drawing me into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.

These pounds signify more than just numbers and categories; they represent a journey of self-discovery between me and God.  It’s rooting out the causes of my excessive overeating since childhood, stuffing food into my mouth as a way to self-medicate, numbing myself to the pain.  It’s looking at a holiday weight gain and being honest with myself and God about what areas I still need to work on.  I love what Asheritah Ciucicu says in her book, “Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction”: “victory comes as part of a journey made of small daily steps toward God.”

I would like to say that my thoughts are original, but I am not that wise or self-aware.  A lot of these revelations I have learned through reading the Bible and applying some of Mrs. Ciuciu’s thoughts.  Again, I echo what she says: “The goal of overcoming food fixation is not to lose weight-it is to bring glory to God through our transformation.”  Not only do I look like a different person from 138 lbs. ago, I am a different person on the inside, as well, prayerfully reflecting more of Jesus, daily!

Tea, Honey, and Lukewarm Pizza

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalms 119:103

I am a coffee drinker: hot, iced or cold brewed.  I love to explore small coffee shops when we travel and try their signature drinks.  Yet, in my attempts to be more cultured, I’ve been trying to cultivate a love for tea as well.  My husband bought me a cheery yellow teapot that sings when the water is ready.  I found a delicate cup to drink my tea from and even purchased a tea ball for lose-leaf tea.  Despite these purchases, my tea appreciation has never topped my love for coffee, but I have discovered that fruity herbal teas, spicy black teas and refreshing peppermint teas have their place in my life, especially during the mid-afternoon slump.  Furthermore, although sugar cubes are dainty and charming, my preferred method of sweetening tea is honey.

Honey, that rich gooey substance, has always been one of my favorite sweeteners.  As a child, I would watch my grandfather pour Grape Nuts cereal into a bowl and spoon honey over it, discovering this was the only way to eat Grape Nuts!  Many years ago, I shared the love of honey with my children by exploring a local honey museum in Wisconsin.  We learned that God created bees with a desire for nectar.  This love for nectar is what helped pollinate lots of our favorite plants, and the busy bees turned the nectar into honey.  We learned that the honeycomb design of a bee hive was a masterpiece of design, yielding the most amount of honey per square inch.  We learned that local honey helps reduce allergies and is the best substance to stop a cough.  We saw the bees inside a hive actively working to produce honey.  Sampling different honeys, such as wildflower, clover and buckwheat honey, delighted our taste buds, leaving a desire for more.  We left the museum with honey sticks and jars in hand, planning to savor the sweetness at home.

Photograph taken by Margaret Collins

This morning, in my daily devotional time I read a quote by Puritan Thomas Brooks.  He said, “Remember, it is not hasty reading but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul.  It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet.  It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”  I know this is a long quote, but friend, reread it again.  Let it soak into your thoughts and reflect on what it is saying.  The quote sparked contemplation in me and I was inspired me to record it in my journal.

The first word that jumped out at me was the word “hasty”.  For years, I’ve been attempting to read, aka conquer, the whole Bible in a year.  Too often, it’s a check mark that I make, another goal accomplished, and I move on to the next task in my so-called spiritual discipline.  This quote made me ponder, am I hastily reading my Bible, or am I spending time in God’s word, letting it speak and minister to me?  Do I sit and meditate on what God is trying to say as I read the account of his creation, or am I already thinking about my next task?  Is God’s word really sweet to me, or is it the kale I choke down because I know it’s good for me?

These are hard questions to answer and the truth is somewhere in between.  This “in between” really signifies a “maybe”, akin to lukewarm leftover pizza.  I like pizza, hot out of the oven, or cold right out of the refrigerator, but never lukewarm!  Pizza that’s lukewarm has the cheese congealing in an unappealing manner, the sauce tastes tepid and the sausage loses flavor at room temperature.  It’s also the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.  I have no desire to incur the wrath of salmonella from lukewarm pizza.

It’s interesting to me that God says in Revelation 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”  The word translated as “spue” is Greek for “vomit”.  God doesn’t want us to be lukewarm, because it’s the perfect breeding ground for apathy, bitterness, sin and complacency to thrive in.  When we are lukewarm, he needs to vomit us out in order for the kingdom to thrive.

I don’t know about you, but I hate vomit, bacteria and any microorganisms that are going to wreak havoc on me or my loved ones.  What I hate even more is the image of God vomiting me out because I’m lukewarm in my faith, having made my Bible reading an item on a checklist.  I don’t want my answers to the hard questions to be “maybe”.  Instead I want to make a commitment to “meditate on holy and heavenly truths.”

The second part that really jumped out on me was the part that says, “it’s not a bee’s touching a flower that gathers the honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet.”  A bee spends a good deal of its’ day gathering nectar.  According to the Apex Bee Company, one bee visits 50-100 flowers during each collection trip and can harvest several thousand flowers in a day, making twelve or more trips gathering pollen and nectar.  They can’t just touch the flower, the bee has to suck up all the nectar it can with its proboscis.  The bee diligently spends time and effort in performing its task.  Despite all its work, in a bee’s short life span, it ends up making only 1 ½ teaspoons of honey.

Now, all this work might seem futile.  Only 1 ½ teaspoons of honey, that hardly seems worth the effort!  Yet, if I measure carefully, this is all the honey I need to sweeten my cup of tea.  It is the perfect balance to brighten the flavors of the herbal tea with a touch of sweetness.  Two teaspoons of honey is typically the recommended amount to help soothe a cough in the evening, in order to provide a good night’s rest.  And a little exposure to local honey on a regular basis can help reduce allergies.  These little amounts of honey go a long way in providing sweetness, relief and inoculation.

My effort in spending time in God’s word is not futile.  When I take the time to digest the scriptures, research the original language, and study the broad concepts of God’ message to us, I can really taste the sweetness of God’s love for me.  If I take the time to ponder a scripture and meditate upon its meaning, I can have relief in the midst of daily stresses and conflicts.  If I take the time to apply the scriptures to my life, I can inoculate myself against sin and its effects.  The key is to take time and not make it an item on my check list.

After reading that quote, and feeling the conviction that I needed to repent of my hasty reading, I spent some additional time in my Bible, pondering scriptures that stood out to me.  I shared a thought I had about a scripture with my daughter, and we discussed what it meant to us.  It was a beautiful conversation about God’s word, and it was “sweeter to me than honey to my mouth.”  My goal this year is to be more conscientious of my personal devotions and to imagine a bee and honey as I dive into God’s word.

Technophobia, Apps and Books

Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, let God be magnified. Psalms 70: 4

It is no secret that I am incompetent when it comes to technology.  I text with one finger, I thought the poo emoji was dirt, and, until recently, I didn’t understand what a GIF was or even how to pronounce it.  When something doesn’t work, my answer is to ask my husband, or any child within earshot, to show me, aka “fix it for me”.  This year, in spite of my technophobia, I discovered apps and have fallen in love with them.  I use them for all sorts of things; podcasts, shopping, exercise, finding new books, and setting goals.

One of my new favorite apps is Goodreads.  Every year, I set a personal goal of how many books I want to read and then record the books I read.  In years past, I have used an Excel spreadsheet my husband created to record my books.  The problem with that approach is the grid format instantly causes my blood to curdle.  I’m convinced Excel was created by accountants to frustrate spontaneous people like me!  Because of my strong aversion to Excel, I often forget to record my books.  Thus I find myself perpetually playing catch up and guesstimating the date I finished a book.  This year, with the help of the Goodreads app, I set a goal, scanned in the barcode of the book I was starting, recorded when I finished, and occasionally wrote a review.  Also, on my excursions to bookstores, I can scan in the book and put it in the file of books I want to read.  It has revolutionized my life!  Okay, maybe that is a bit strong, but it has helped me stay on track toward my goal.  I especially liked the confetti that sprayed across my screen when I achieved my goal this year.  Confetti, or glitter, is always a bonus!

What I didn’t know is that at the end of the year, Goodreads gives you a pictorial review of your reading habits.  It was insightful to look over the sixty books I read.  These books have ranged from being entertaining to delightful to informative and even to challenging.  In February, I finished a five-year project reading great biographies of each of the presidents.  I read a lot of Christian self-growth books, forcing me to examine my life, leading me to repentance and compelling me to grow.  I read a few great novels that have inspired me and some books on science that caused me to grapple with genetics.  However, I read one book that I despised, in spite of its brevity.  The author’s agenda aside, I finished the book and even managed to gain some insight.

A screenshot of my pictorial review on Goodreads.

I have been noticing on a lot of other blogs and websites the lists of the best books of 2019.  Often, I would peruse their lists and add some books to my app.  I decided to examine my list and share with you my top six books of 2019.  I have to admit this was far more challenging than I expected.  I kept looking at the list and wanting to add another, and soon I would have twenty books.  I also decided if it’s a book I have read before, it would not make my list, which eliminated three of my favorites.  Finally, I whittled the list down and came up with my top books.

1.  “The Gospel comes with a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield: I heard Mrs. Butterfield speak on an episode of Focus on the Family and immediately ordered her book.  I’m still pondering the message of hospitality and how to implement it in my neighborhood.  She says, “Radically ordinary hospitality does not simply flow from the day-to-day interests of the household.  You must prepare spiritually.”  I would often close the book and fall to my knees, asking God to help me reflect the gospel in my community.

2.  “Rethinking Sexuality” by Dr. Juli Slattery: This book was a personal read, dealing with my own brokenness from past abuse and seeing the results of other people’s brokenness.  My heart breaks for our society and how, as Christians, we often don’t understand what God meant for us in our personal relationships.  Marriage was meant to reflect the beauty of God’s love for us in every aspect, including intimacy.  This was not an easy read, but profound and paradigm-shifting, not in my principles, but in how I present my principles.

3.  “Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction” by Asheritah Ciuciu: A dear friend, who is also a fellow bibliophile, lent me this book, I read it quickly and decided to purchase it.  I will be rereading it this January, journaling and more than likely blogging about the concepts in it.  It is not a food plan or an exercise regiment, but Ciuciu takes you on a journey of self-discovery.  Since I will be sharing more about this book in the future, the one message that resonated with me was to read the Bible differently.  In the past, I have focused on the principles and God’s message to me.  Now, I am reading the Bible to discover the nature of God.

4.  “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: This is a short book, but completely delightful and it triggered some reflective journaling.  She compares seasons of life with different shells, pondering motherhood and beyond, and the various transitions in life.  I loved this book so much, I bought a copy for a dear friend whose son was getting married.  It is definitely a book I will reread!

5.  “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains” by Nicholas Carr: This book frightened me when I read that PHD students were no longer reading research completely.  Attention spans are being altered at a rapid pace.  It is not saying the internet is bad or that we should all boycott our iPhones, but it does make you examine your personal use and how you access information.  It has motivated me to keep on reading whole books and to be careful of my screen time.  I also learned about the 18th century habit of keeping a Commonplace Journal.  It inspired me to keep one myself and pass it on to my children, someday.

6.  “Destiny and Power” by Jon Meacham: This biography of George H. W. Bush emphasized the value of developing good character.  Throughout his life, Bush wanted to serve his country.  Meacham says, “Honor, duty, country” were his focus.  Bush was competitive, but, ultimately, he kept his priorities straight and didn’t compromise his character.  Whether or not you agreed with his decisions, he was an honorable person who served his country in many different areas.

Missing two books. Photo by Margaret Collins

I have to honestly say that this year, reading changed my life.  I have always been a reader, but God used books from all genres to challenge me to grow.  I felt His voice whispering in my ear as I read the author’s words.  He would quicken to my mind a scripture or even a Biblical story.  I heard His voice in almost everything I read.

Years ago, as a family devotion, we read “Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books”.  It transformed my reading habits, leading to me read different genres and to read more purposefully.  The author, Tony Reinke, says, “If a Christian reader is attuned to the whisper of the Giver, he will hear that whisper in some very unexpected places.”  My goal in sharing my list is to inspire you to dig first into His word, but also to challenge you to find God’s whispering in the books your read in 2020.  We should continually seek his presence in all that we do!