Friday, September 1, 2017

My Reading Diet

What are you reading?

I have always loved reading. From my childhood, like Disney's Belle, I adored fiction books. I could escape into other worlds and other lives. Adventures and mysteries especially with a faith bent would draw me in and absorb my attention.

Historical fiction series such as "The Zion Chronicles" and "The Zion Covenant" by Brock and Bodie Theone took me into the past while allowing me to wonder how God might have altered things behind the scenes of history.

As I got older, I grew into an avid Austen fan. A tub filled with hot water and bubbles was my chosen "nook" to enter the worlds of Emma, Elizabeth and others.

While traveling in the car, Ted Dekker's works sparked my imagination. And Lisa Samson gave me female characters I could relate to. (She wrote one on pastor's wives! Check out "The Church Ladies")

I would also read non-fiction books, basic Bible studies and things directed toward the Christian woman. Liz Curtis Higgs and Beth Moore became "friends" as I went. 

Somewhere along the way I discovered the blog and books by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters. The Girl Talk Blog provided a "family" of sorts. These four ladies who know and understand ministry from the perspective of being ministers' wives gives us a reminder that we really are not as alone as we sometimes feel. (

Then, sometime after my second daughter was born, my reading habits drastically changed.

Life seemed to get really busy. I began working a paid position at church. Keeping up with two kiddos, ministry and running a household, I couldn't seem to find to time to pick up a book, much less read it. When I would manage to crack open a cover, I would find myself, drifting off to sleep before I finished the first page. Soon I quit reading altogether.... 

Oh, but I didn't quit reading altogether. I quit reading books. I even fell off the practice of reading Bible study books, making excuses about how there just wasn't enough time in the day. 

Yet, I still managed to spend time scrolling through Facebook. Just this morning I got lost in the rabbit holes of this link and that. Very little of what I clicked on had little to no redeeming value. 

About a year ago, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I needed to do a better job feeding my soul. Deuteronomy tells us that we can't live by bread alone, but "every word that comes from the mouth of God." I knew I needed to start eating some meat because my spirit was ever-so-slowly becoming malnourished. I wanted deeper insight and teaching on God's word. 

After seeking the advice of a good friend, I started with Jennie Allen's "Restless," thinking that it would be a quick read and I would then jump into another book and author that I had somehow missed in the seven years since I had "quit reading."

But it wasn't a quick read. As real life "hit" and the journalling topics led me deeper, the time it took to really digest the truth I was reading took me months to finish. It was all worth the work and time in the end. God taught me a lot through the process and the pages. 

It also whet my appetite for more. 

This summer I read and finished "Missional Motherhood" by Gloria Furman. Then, in my quiet time I went through it again, outlining and taking notes, trying to savor the truths she explained. 

I have also started another Jennie Allen study, "Proven," and a new-to-me, author, Courtney Reissig. I have started the first chapter of her "The Accidental Feminist," and I am anxious to open it back up for a second helping. 

Over the last 12 months, life definitely has NOT slowed down. Our family of five is busier than ever. God has not added another hour or even a second to our 24 hour days. So where have I found the time to do this reading?

The Holy Spirit has shown me where and how I can trade the lesser things for the greater things. I am turning off the TV. I am praying for discernment and discipline for my time on social media. I am looking for opportunities to read. 

I have also given myself grace. My expectations are to read and to process what I read without a time constraint.  I am not reading to meet a goal or to complete a resolution to read a set number of books in a set amount of time. I want my reading to be a quality thing not a quantity thing. 

I still love a good fiction book, and want to reread an Austen novel or two. Maybe that will happen later - but for now I want to look at what I am reading and my motive behind reading it... 

To escape? If yes, then why am I wanting to escape and have I prayed about it first? 
To grow? As a mother, wife, leader, a Christ follower? If yes, is it Biblical? Are their scriptural truths I can apply?

There's an old adage that "we are what we eat." No one can deny that we become what we consume. What is it you are "eating" and why are you "eating" it?

I wake up in the morning wondering what I might get to eat that day. (We Vinsons love food.) We all have cravings too and we understand that even if tastes good it might not be good for us. We all should pray for discernment to make the best decisions for what we take in, what we read. 

I am always looking for new recipes. (Did I mention that I love cookbooks too?!) I am always looking for new books to sample. It is easy to stand in a bookstore or begin clicking through Amazon and become overwhelmed with all our options. Not wanting to waste my limited time I have to read, I wonder where I should start. 

So, what's on your menu? What are you reading now? What do you recommend? What is worth my time?

Please comment with what you've read that you've found satisfying. In the same way we look for positive restaurant reviews, the thumbs up or thumbs down from a trusted friend carries a lot of weight. 

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