Gary Bloom worked through the night last night, getting our house ready for siding today.  Every so ofen I would awaken and locate him outside to make sure he was okay.  Then I would try to get back to sleep.  As I lay in bed I began thinking about the books and people that changed my life.  These are the kind of thoughts that come in the middle of the night!

So, I thought I would share my little list of books that created a paradigm shift in my life.  I was fascinated by the list I came up with – but I warn you, it is not very erudite!  But these are the books that changed me:

1. The Living Bible and Junior Devotions for Campers.   I thought first of all about The Bible.  God’s Word.  It has changed me and will keep changing me.  But the Living Bible holds a special place in my affections.  It had just been published when I became serious about my Christian commitment.  I had gone through confirmation a few years before and had received a Scofield King James Reference Bible from my church.  Even had my name embossed on the front cover.  But the language was oftentimes hard to figure out.  When I went to Honey Rock Camp (let’s see, this would have been the summer of 1968) we were given a devotional book, Junior Devotions for Campers, that used Ken Taylor’s paraphrased “Living Letters”.  The language was so immediate, so easily understood.  That devotional book, along with The Living Bible,  saw me through my first 4 or 5 years as a new Christian.  Nowadays many people gasp in horror if you talk about The Living Bible or Eugene Peterson’s The Message, as if they are BAD.  I know we have to get our doctrine from translations, but paraphases offer such amazing insights into God’s word.  I refuse to pretend I wasn’t impacted by this book!

2.  The Chronicles of Narnia and everything else by C.S. Lewis.  My youth pastor and his wife had lived in England for a few years prior to his position at my church.  She had a set of The Chronicles of Narnia that she loaned me.  It wasn’t even available in the United States at that time.  I must have been 16 or 17 when I read them and was captivated by the imagery and the marvelous analogies.  I then read Mere Christianity and was so grateful for the intellectual challenges and answers. 

3.  Hidden Art and What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer.  These two books set the stage for my marriage and family.  Not that we succeeded in everything nor does my life now resemble anything in Hidden Art, but they were vital components for deciding what direction our lives would go.

4.  Please Understand Me by Kiersey, Bates.   Gary and I took the Meiers/Briggs Personality Inventory with a group of homeschooling parents.  One of the dads in the group was a certified instructor who led the discussion about the different personality types that our tests (taken prior to the class) had revealed.  I was astonished- I was actually on a chart!  The facilitator had said that my type was very rare, but when I read this book, which gives even more insight, I realized that my particular personality (an INTP) was not only rare it colored everything I was and did.  I realized that my attempts to be a submissive wife had failed because Gary and I saw the world totally differently.  I was trying to be Gary Junior and it was impossible.  We’re talking square pegs and round holes big time here!  Gary saw for the first time that I was not wrong, just different.  He is an ESFJ of course – TOTALLY opposite me.  He could care less about this book – if everyone did things the way HE thinks they should be done, the world would work just fine!  But I NEED this book!

5.  False Intimacy by Harry Schaumburg.  Ten years ago our marriage and our lives were in jeopardy.  Our pastor referred us to a Christian counselor who referred us to Harry.  Harry has a ministry, www.stonegateresources.com, for people whose lives are in crisis.  We went out to Colorado Springs for a 10 day “Brief Intensive Counseling” session.   Of course we still face challenges but this book anchored us.  Am I putting God first, as we are commanded to do, or am I letting desires or addictions become idols?  Sin is, at its core, me saying to God, “though you have promised to give me everything I need, I need THIS, and since you are not giving it to me, you are a LIAR and I will get it myself.”  It’s shocking to even write that.  Me, a created being, called my creator a LIAR???  What effrontery!  What gall!  What a horrible thing!!!  And yet He forgives and is willing to work His will in me when I acknowledge my ME-ness and repent.

6.  The Time Trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle.  Many people have read and enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, the first in this series.  I like the next two books,  A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet even better.  In the second book L’Engle introduces a concept she calls “Naming”.  Meg has to NAME the right Mr. Jenkins, the school principal who does not even like her, otherwise he will cease to exist.  Naming is when we affirm another person thereby enabling that person to be more of who God made him to be.  Naming is the opposite of annihilation – when we take away the essence of a person through unkind words or dismissive attitudes.  I don’t know where the word “diss” comes from, but it seems to be from “dismissed” – I do not pay attention to you or your words when I “diss” you.  Dissing is annihilating.  In the third book, L’Engle shows the importance of every decision since we do not know what decisions are forks in the road.  We have to choose and we have to choose rightly.  ALL THE TIME. 

7.  Ten Fingers for God by Dorothy Clarke Wilson.  This is the biography of Dr. Paul Brand who co-wrote Fearfully and Wonderfully Made with Philip Yancey.  It is one of the most inspiring biographies I’ve ever read. 

8. Deadline, Dominion, Deception, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn.  I have looked forward to dying ever since I read The Chronicles of Narnia.  My mother told me I was SO weird when I told her how excited I was about heaven.  I was 17, remember, an age of excess and passion!  C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle opened my mind to the idea of heaven being a place of joy, activity, and LIFE.  “Further Up and Further In” was the cry of those who had been released from the Shadowlands.  When I read Deadline I was reminded of my original desire to GO HOME.  Alcorn is a masterful storyteller who weaves truths of Scripture through well-done mysteries.  The last book of the D-trilogy, Deception, is absolutely hilarious since he writes it a la Rex Stout or Raymond Chandler.  It has one of the funniest scenes I have ever read when Ollie, the detective, is trying to interview a woman who lives across the street from the murder scene.  Alcorn’s insights into our existence in heaven are life-changing.

9.  Godless by Ann Coulter, as well as Treason, and any of her other books.  I think Ann Coulter is an exceptionally good writer.  She is concise, persuasive, and funny.  She tells the other side of the argument and then shows how her side is more informed, more reasonable, and right.  Her writing is very helpful for navigating through the murky waters of present liberal/conservative conflicts.

10.  The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede.   This is a set of 4 books that bring fairy tales to their logical conclusions along with telling an epic tale that closely mirrors the salvation story.  I love the humor, the skill, and the scary story that ends so well. 

 As I said, I don’t have big time authors listed.  At least not too many!  No Dostoyevsky, no Faulkner, no Hemingway, no Edith Wharton.  Just great books that touched my life and altered the course of it.  I hope my honesty and simplicity will free other readers to love simple books! 

One Response to “Books that Changed My Life”

  1. Colleen Harper Says:

    Thank you for listing these books! I always love finding book suggestions. Feel free to add more–your comments were very informative and made me want to read them all (even the ones I’ve already read)!

    Sincerely,

    Colleen

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