Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things that make me go hmm . . .

I recently read on a blog (Mer, was that you?) that they don't enjoy reading non-fiction, and it made me smile. I was an English major in college, so I've read my share of novels. But I've found since becoming a wife/mom/homemaker, that I most often reach for books that are more practical and applicable in some way--that inspire me in my spiritual walk or in my roles at home. (Note for you fellow English majors who are objecting to my previous statement: I do think novels can also be inspirational--stories are definitely powerful!)

Here are some quotes from two recent non-fiction titles I wanted to share with you. I hope at least one or two of these compelling statements will speak to you today!

Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen

The subtitle of this book is "an introduction to a spiritual life," and includes sections on solitude, discipline and community.

"While our hearts and lives are filled with many things, and we wonder how we can live up to the expectations imposed on us by ourselves and others, we have a deep sense of unfulfillment. While busy with and worried about many things, we seldom feel truly satisfied, at peace, or at home. A gnawing sense of being unfulfilled underlies our full {busy} lives."

"The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it."

"Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration, but also strong determination."

"A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen."

"If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives--healing, teaching, and guiding--we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention."

It's no wonder that Henri Nouwen is a favorite author of many people, including myself. He writes with clarity, honesty and conviction. And in the case of the book above, he also writes concisely. This gem is less than 100 pages!

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

This book was selected by my Bible study this past spring, and came with high recommendations that did not disappoint. This is just a small sampling of stand-out thoughts and ideas from this book:

"Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God."

"Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life, it offers us a less busy heart."

"When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching [Him work]."

"What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get His."

"The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God's will. It is trying to discern and then disown my own." Wow, love that.

"The praying life is inseparable from obeying, loving, waiting, and suffering."

The final section of the book offers several ideas on using prayer tools. I've found the suggestion of prayer note cards to be particularly helpful. I have several index cards, including one for each member of my family. At the top, under the name, I've written a verse to pray for that person. Then underneath, I list short phrases as prompts of what I want to be praying for that individual. I like having these visual reminders and guides, though I don't use them on a daily basis.

I would definitely recommend both of these books. I realize my book posts aren't super-exciting in nature, but as I've mentioned before, sharing quotes and loose notes is a tool I use to help me retain some of what I've read and learned.

Have you read either of these books?


Mom said...

Dear Carrie,

I have not read either of these books and appreciate the nuggets of wisdom you shared from each. I have a journal where I keep notes from books I've enjoyed or quotes from any source that I want to remember.

As for fiction/non-fiction, I usually alternate since I enjoy both. I find that if I read too much of either, I get overloaded. This balance works well for me.

Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom

Katie said...

Hi Carrie!

These books sound wonderful ~ I haven't read either, but I appreciate your excerpts and thoughts here (I never find your book posts boring!) :-)

I tend to read mostly nonfiction for the practicality and teaching...and I really haven't found (or made) too much time for much else these days. I love reading a good novel though! I'm presently immersed in an abundance of children's fiction and historical literature!

Love the notecard/prayer idea!! And as far as all of the quotes you listed, the following was HUGE for me...

"The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God's will. It is trying to discern and then disown my own."

Wow....yes...that is so true for me.

Thanks Carrie! Have a great week,

Carrie said...

I read A Praying Life and thought it was excellent.

I find myself drawn to more non-fiction titles these days myself. I learn best by reading (not an auditory learning) so books are the best way to get a point across to me. So I do try to spend a good portion of time inside of a non-fiction book!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Yep. It was me. I just struggle so much reading non-fiction. I had to return the Sleeth book before I finished it. I'm trying to finish Omnivore's Dilemma before it's due as well.

I'm a Nouwen fan but I haven't read that book of his. I bet John probably has it. Maybe that can be my next non-fiction challenge. :)

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I haven't read either of those books, but I'm thinking I may need to look for the one on prayer. That's pretty much my spiritual theme for this year.

While I enjoy non-fiction, I prefer fiction for the distraction it offers.

thehomespunheart said...

Hey Carrie,

Oh, how I struggle to read non-fiction especially now that I am a wife/homemaker/mom. I used to read almost only non-fiction and now hardly can. Brain overload perhaps?

The prayer quotes especially jumped out at me and I know I'd enjoy that one someday ... :)

Love you,

Jennifer said...


Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing the idea of using prayer cards. I've always been a list person but find it gets messy with updating. I'm planning to switch to your method this weekend.