Archives for January 2022

I’m Just Trying to Stay on the Path

This path of obedience we are called to walk is strewn with pitfalls.
path of obedience
difficult path
I forgive and the next moment am assaulted again by bitterness.
I gently navigate one confrontation with a child and the next finds me reduced to ugly shouting.
I am able to genuinely desire God rather than self to be glorified and then congratulate myself on the achievement.
This path is narrow and rocky. It is hard to choose this way moment by moment.
rocky path
I stumble and fall and it hurts to keep going and sometimes even the sight of the crucified Christ is not enough to lift me to my feet.
Sometimes I don’t even want to obey.
Reviewing wrongs done to me makes me feel righteous. Yelling is satisfying when I am angry. I enjoy taking the credit for a job well done.
Obedience is hard and I am often unsuccessful.
Yet I suppose it doesn’t matter whether or not I am successful. I am not, after all, trying to earn anything.
What matters is that I do not leave the path.
stay on the path
What matters is that I keep getting to my feet, regardless of my feelings.
it is a good path
What matters is God’s kingdom breaking through to the now and my choices aligning myself, and my own little piece of creation, with His kingdom rule.
All of my stumbling and falling, all of my failures, they don’t matter.
I am already beloved and I already belong.
What matters is that our wills begin to be oriented toward God, and that we show our gratitude for our free salvation by living as his willing children. ~ N.T. Wright, Small Faith-Great God
So don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.
When you struggle to obey, when you struggle to even want to obey, take heart.
Simply staying on the path matters.
obedience is our path
You’ll be able to keep walking someday.
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Art credit: all photographs copyright Made Sacred 2017

My Favorite Books

books
I don’t usually track the books I read, but this year I decided to use Goodreads to keep a record of my reading.
I finished 95 books this year.
Yes, I was tempted to speed-read five more to make it an even 100. I decided that probably wasn’t in the spirit of the thing.
I did include chapter books I read aloud to my children. I did not include picture books I read.
As I looked over the list, I noticed that my list was more fiction-heavy than usual. It was just that kind of a year.
My normal reading diet of theology and spiritual formation sorts of books just seemed to take more effort to get through and I felt more drawn to losing myself in a good story.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with this. A good story can sometimes reveal deeper truth than the thickest theological tome.
I want to get back to more of a balance this year. And if it’s another story-filled year, I won’t berate myself.
I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite books from the year.

Non-Fiction

Acedia and Me – Kathleen Norris
This book named a feeling I have fairly regularly. I wrote about it here: I Don’t Care
The Magnificent Defeat – Frederick Buechner
I love Buechner’s style of writing and the way he speaks of theological matters.
The World According to Narnia – Jonathan Rogers
I have always loved the Narnia stories, and Rogers’ book showed me even more of the truth contained within them.
This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks into our Darkness – Sarah Clarkson
Clarkson writes of the beauty is God with us in the middle of suffering. As someone who struggles with mental illnesses and studies theology, she is well equipped to speak to this. She also writes beautifully.
The World Ending Fire – Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry keeps me rooted in this good world God has made and in the common sense we all need. This book of his essays addressed everything from caring for our earth to the importance of place in our physical and spiritual lives.

For My Kids

Growly series – Philip and Erin Ulrich
A fun book series that all of my kids (ages 6-13) loved about a bear and a monkey and a sweeping adventure.
Just David – Eleanor H. Porter
This is by the author of the more famous book, Pollyanna. A really good story that also shows the importance of beauty and art.

Fiction

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
Absolutely my favorite fiction book I read this year. It was beautifully written, had a completely unique setting, and contained such depth in its plot.
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
I read several this year by this author and loved all of them. This particular book was a beautiful example of the way a story about one thing can really be a story about something completely different.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson
I always love historical fiction. This one tells the story of a blue-skinned (true!) librarian who rides all over the hills of rural Kentucky in 1936, delivering books and more to the impoverished mountain folk.
The Gown – Jennifer Robson
Another book of historical fiction. This one weaves together a couple of different time periods (1947 and 2016) with the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. I loved learning about the way these famous gowns were made.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
A beautifully written story full to the brim with magic and enchantment.
Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny
I love everything written by this author, and this is her most recent book in the Inspector Gamache series. It is rare to find a current author who is skilled at beautiful writing, interesting plots, and character development all at the same time. I will give one warning: this story is set in a post-Covid world, when everything has gone back to normal, so if that seems too hard to read, you might want to wait.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow
This story pulled me into a world that was so real it felt like a memory when I emerged. Another book where the writing, characters, and plot are all so very well done.
Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner
A story about life and friendship and marriage. Wonderfully written in a way that made me care deeply about the characters.