Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 Review: Life and Books

2009 was a good year for our family; I hope it was for yours. That's not to say it was without difficulty, but we really had some neat experiences:

---> We moved to a new (cheaper, more diverse, more relational) neighborhood
---> I focused in and worked hard on learning Turkish
---> A family trip to Egypt, full of history and beauty, fulfilling a dream I've had since childhood
---> We memorized the first chapter of James together as a family
---> I took a nice, long blogging break (and have found that, in the season I'm in, I really don't miss it that much)
---> Found out we're expecting #5 (who the doc thinks is a little girl, but I'm only 14 weeks so it's a bit early to be certain)
---> My mom came for a visit
---> Doug gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and so I've been loving learning this new skill
---> We had yet another virtually commercialization-free Christmas overseas (this is one huge joy for me in living abroad)

As for books, some of you may remember that I laid out a 40-book list goal for myself at the beginning of 2009. I did *almost* read 40 books in 2009, but only about half of them were from the list I put up at the beginning of the year. I am about halfway through 10 others of the list, and 10 others I haven't even started. (Here are all my book reviews for what I *did* read in 2009.) It was an ambitious goal, and perhaps, too, I am a bit too "P" (if you don't know the Myers-Briggs personality types, that means a bit too random/spontaneous) to read solely according to plan. One thing I learned is that I like reading fiction more than I thought I did, and I ended up weaving in more of it than I had planned.

Here are my top reading highlights from 2009:

  1. Sacred Marriage-- (Gary Thomas) - This is the least typical, the most challenging, and the most helpful marriage book I've ever read. I highly recommend it. For any Christian, male or female, I believe it will help put marriage in its proper perspective... not as a relationship of getting, or even of "each giving 100%", but as a state of growing more like Christ.
  2. What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman-- (Danielle Crittenden) - I said this on my review page, but I'll say it again... I think this book should be handed to every single woman in America under 40. Those of us who have grown up with feminist principles interwoven into every history lesson, every self-esteem talk, every career day, have more to think about than what's been presented to us. Crittenden offers a balanced, thoughtful, much-needed perspective on approaching life as a woman in this modern world.
  3. The Unlikely Disciple-- (Kevin Roose) - Interesting book, this. For anyone who has spent significant time in evangelical Christian circles, this is just the sort of book that can help us reexamine the "furniture" of our lives... the things we take for granted in life that others look at and notice about us. Roose, as a secular journalist major, entered a very conservative Christian university for a semester to examine young evangelical life "from the inside". He offers a surprisingly balanced (for the most part) perspective that I (as a girl who grew up in church and went to a Christian college) found refreshing and insightful.
  4. No Graven Image-- (Elisabeth Elliot) - I heard about this book from a friend and was surprised as I read. It's Elliot's only novel, and she doesn't shy away from tackling hard questions about life, God's sovereignty, and many of the gray questions I have wondered about throughout the years. Certainly, it's not an "easy" read as I felt the need to debrief and talk through some of the overarching questions raised in the book... but it is insightful and valuable and a beautiful novel in its own right. I highly enjoyed it... but perhaps more importantly, I walked away thinking, which I imagine was Elliot's aim. It's not still in print, so if you can get your hands on it, it's worth it.

Here's hoping that you have a thoughtful, enjoyable year full of growth and joy throughout 2010! Many blessings to you and yours! ~Jess


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