Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Books That Have Stuck With Me

A friend tagged me in a post on Facebook, a "Bookish Game" as she called it, which she answered then tagged us to answer as well: What 10 books have stuck with you?

I have been pondering this since last night.  I could do 10 recent books, more impressive, more in alignment with what I think and believe now, or I could just be more vulnerable and honest.  Choosing books that have helped to shape who I am today, in small and big ways, depending on the book.  So I am.  And instead of just listing the titles on facebook, I wanted to expound a little on why I chose the ones I did.  I prefer to give a more lengthy answer on a blog than merely on facebook.  Those who were curious enough to click the link can read more.

Please note, the scriptures have "stuck with me" the most, so it receives the highest regard.  But this is a list that have supplemented the scriptures.

Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me:

David Livingston Biography
 Little Pilgrims Progress
 Authentic Beauty 
Mere Christianity
Tortured for Christ
Law & Liberty
Westminster Confession of Faith
William The Baptist
Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America

  I have color coded the books in order of the time of life I read them.   Red books were ones I read in my younger years, specifically "junior high" age.  I don't remember which I read first, possibly Little Pilgrims Progress, which was part of the school curriculum my mom bought.  I wasn't required to read it, I was just intrigued by the title.  I never heard of John Bunyan, and this particular book was very close to the original, just updated for younger readers to grasp, and a slight modernization of language. (I read the original a few years back).  It was very likely the first "Meaty" book I ever read by myself and I've never forgotten it.  I still can picture the cover of the hardback book, little Christian on a path toward the celestial city.  It was my first taste of the realities of Christian living, and though it took many years for me to actually understand the ramifications, I know the Lord had me read it then to plant the seeds in my life to grow later.  The David Livingston Biography I read shook me to my core.  I was absolutely enthralled with this selfless, courageous, disciplined, man of God and his life!  But it also absolutely terrified me.  I hated the thought of becoming a missionary and did NOT want God to "make me be a missionary" as I thought back then.  I was also acutely aware of the fact that this man was everything I was not, I was selfish, scared, and very undisciplined.  Though this is a very mild biography of David Livingston, as I have come to find out this past September (due to Peter Hammond's talks given on his life), I am grateful to have read this simpler biography many years ago.  It turns out the heart and theology of Dr. Livingston was incredibly more robust than I ever knew. I am highly in favor of naming a son after this mighty man of the faith!  His life and story has impacted me and I've thought of it very often over the years.  

Orange books were ones I read during my "high school" age.  A dear friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to do a bible study with her, Authentic Beauty, and this book was one that literally rocked my world.  Through reading this book and doing the study, I came face to face with the ugliness of my own sin and pride.  It was using this book that the Lord began to change my heart and I began to understand what love and grace truly meant.  I prayed my first "Calvinistic" prayer (hah!), by being utterly honest with God and telling Him that either He was who He said He was in His word, or He was the wimpy God I knew through church and the shallowness of everyone around... so I told Him, I don't enjoy reading your word, and I think I know pretty much all there is to know about You... and I can't stand to believe in a god like that, so IF You are who you say You are in Your word (that I thought I knew well! hah!), then reveal Yourself to me, and give me a desire to read and love Your word!  It is here I will link you to an older blog post where there is a Quote From Ludy Book, though it is after high school, it is a excerpt from one of their books, not sure if it's from Authentic Beauty or not.  It portrays my thoughts after reading things such as this.  In any event, I came face to face with the reality of my faith and realized how puny it was, how I knew so little of the cross, and that I could care less about reading the bible (but I never would have admitted that to ANYONE at the time, I was the "Angel" Christian).  How faithful God is in drawing me unto Himself and bringing friends into my life to give me good reading that would convict and be a tool to change my life.  His Spirit was doing such a work in me at the time!  Mere Christianity is one I read that prompted me to realize believing in Christ & His Word was more than "blind faith", but there is so much more intellectually.  I never thought much about apologetics until I took a class at one church, then read this work of Lewis'.  It was a whole new world to look at the bible and realize there was such depth to it!  Without reading a few works of C.S. Lewis, I never could have been ready to read Bahnsen or Rushdoony (let alone Van Til, which I read an article of his before the two previous mentioned).

Yellow books were ones I read after my short duration as a student at Texas A&M.  (After Fall 2010).  Tortured for Christ was one that left me speechless.  Here I wrote a little one it in This Blog Post.  This sparked a passion in me to live and be content where God had me (which was a very difficult place at the time), and a new understanding that to suffer for Christ was not something to be resistant to, but rather to walk the path God had ordained for me to walk on... suffering or no. (Hint, lot's of suffering followed, but that's another story for an in person kind of conversation).  Law And Liberty was a jolt into the reality that God's word is for every area of life.  I turned each page and said, yes... yes... yes!- I couldn't believe someone explained things so well and that I had missed so much before.  Something I knew, but was slowly coming to understand was that faith was for ALL of life, and that there was a definite, amazing, and wonderful congruency between the old and new testaments.  God's standard is not something that changes or passes away, it is something for me here and now, and for all men.  I need to read this one again soon. (:  I'll admit, I actually have not read the entire Westminster Confession of Faith, it is a work in progress.  But when I first stumbled upon this confession it was after reading an article written by Van Til, which was posted on a reformed website that I explored, seeing the confession.  I was blown away!  I had NO idea that such a thing existed, that faithful men of God had systematically laid out the essential truths of the Christian faith, with scripture proofs!  All I had been exposed to were those teeny tiny little "Statements of Faith" most of the baptist churches I attended/been a member of had on their websites.  I did quickly discover the London Baptist Confession too, and read it as well.  Now I am a member of a church that holds to the Westminster Standards, which would have been totally foreign to me a few short years ago.  My how things change!

 Green is 2011 when I first began to be aware of a richer and deeper understanding of the scriptures and how it affected my entire life.  So I was visiting different churches because I was so hungry to hear the word of God and was tired of listening to sermons online... I wanted to fellowship with those who heard the word being preached.  I first visited the church I am now a member of, and the pastor (now my father in law! Again, how times change!) and he asked what questions I had after the service.  I was very drawn to the Presbyterian form of government, the little I read before visiting, but just didn't know what to think of their views on baptism.  So he recommended William The Baptist which was the exact introduction I needed, a short easy to read book chock full of scripture, and it helped that it was a fictional story setting to make it more engaging to read on the doctrine.

Blue is during the time I was engaged to my now husband, just over 2 years ago.  Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America  is without a doubt one of the best things I have ever read on modesty, hands down.  This was during a time where I was struggling inwardly with establishing a standard of dress for myself, of which I was resolved that being pleasing to the Lord and dressing modestly was of more importance than what my clothes looked like.  Not that I dressed horribly, it was just different than times before, and this "new style" or lack of style some might say, caused me a lot of grief from others.  This book helped to round out my understanding considerably, and actually prompted the one of the first blog posts on this blog, Here.  I wrote the blog post a few months after reading the book.  This book gave me more biblical understanding and reasoning for why, and gave me much freedom in this area.  I can better articulate the "why" I dress the way I do since reading this book.  Which is of utmost importance, to give a biblical reason for why you live your life the way you do!

Other Blue (I know, I could call it royal, but whatever) is this past year.  Samuel gave me Apostate for my birthday this year.  An excellent book!  After finishing it, now months later, Samuel and I are reading it together.  Kevin Swanson is such a good writer; witty, intelligent, serious, and thorough on all points.  This is the book to read to get an understanding and engage in the worldview battle.  

Why did I not choose the book title for which this blog is centered around?  Since this blog is centered around it, I figured I have exclaimed my love for Luther quite enough and to give recognition to others for once. (;    There now.  A little insight into why these books have stuck with me.  They have all been a part of me and shaped who I am today.  I thank the Lord for giving me a love of reading and books, and that He has used so many different authors to impact my life throughout the years.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Year In Review

This is my completed reading list of 2013.  Though I did not read everything I initially set out to read, I read far more than what my goal was, for that I feel accomplished.  It is because of the unexpected changing of the seasons of life and my desire to grow in knowledge, understanding, and to prepare for the future.  I plan to continue my reading goal of one book per month... possibly for the rest of my life. (:  There are so many books I want to read and it is amazing how simply setting a goal and organizing my reading ever so slightly, has greatly helped me to read more.  This has been a year of learning to be more organized.  From simply meal planning, to planning for the future, keeping our home orderly, etc. it has been well worth it.

A scale of 1-5 (Subject to change upon my own whim and will).

1) being, complete waste. Why did I finish it?
2) being, minimally thought provoking/entertaining. Won’t read it again.
3) being, borderline useful, mild usefulness in instruction about the faults in it/mildly entertaining; Enough good to be challenged, grow a little in thought. Might read it again.
4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.
5) being, found enjoyable, challenging, useful in many ways, would highly recommend with no holding back, over all EXCELLENT book. Need to read again!

A 3 1/2 star is not as harsh as a 3, but not quite deserving of a 4 (a really great book), but a good book none the less.

And without further ado, the completed reading list of this Housewife (and momma!!):
  1. How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler  4 Stars
  2. The Bondage of the Will, Dr. Martin Luther  5 Stars
  3. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin  3 Stars
  4. Easy Chairs, Hard Words, Doug Wilson  5 Stars
  5. The Last Disciple, Hank Hanegraaff  4 Stars
  6. The Revolution: A Manifesto, Dr. Ron Paul  4 Stars
  7. Beautiful Babies, Kristen Michaelis  4 Stars
  8. The Last Sacrifice, Hank Hanegraaff  4 Stars
  9. The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, Bruce Shortt  4 Stars
  10. Heroes of the Holocaust: True Stories of Rescues by Teens, Allan Zullo  4 Stars
  11. The Reward of Childhood Truth  5 Stars
  12. IndoctriNation, Colin Gunn  5 Stars
  13. Dollar NonCents, Peter Allison  5 Stars
  14. Duncan's War, Douglas Bond  5 Stars
  15. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin  4 Stars
  16. Maternal Fitness, Julie Tupler  3 Stars
  17. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg  4 Stars
  18. Birth in Four Cultures, Brigitte Jordan 3 1/2 Stars
  19. Changing Diapers, Kelly Wels  4 Stars
  20. Gentle Birth Choices, Barbara Harper  3 1/2 Stars
  21. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R. C. Sproul Sr.  4 Stars
  22. Christ-Centered Childbirth, Kelly Townsend  4 Stars
  23. Husband Coached Childbirth, Dr. Robert Bradley 4 Stars
  24. The Power of Prayer Handbook, Peter Hammond  5 Stars
  25. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield  5 Stars
  26. Blood Money: The Civil War & The Federal Reserve, John Remington Graham  4 Stars
  27. Breastfeeding & Fertility, Jenny Silliman  4 Stars
  28. Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in Trenches, Rachel Jankovic 3 1/2 Stars
  29. Apostate, Kevin Swanson  5 Stars
  30. Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide, Amy Spanger  5 Stars
  31. On Becoming BabyWise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nigh Time Sleep, Gary Ezzo 3 1/2 - 4 Stars
  32. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Le Leche League International  3 1/2 Stars

You can go through the archives of my blog to read the reviews, or click here to view my GoodReads profile.

Currently I am reading The Cure of Souls, R.J. Rushdoony, The Other Baby Book, Megan McGrory Massaro as well slowly going through the Westminster Confession Study Guide by G.I. Williamson.  That is more of a long term reading, since I am using it in more of a "devotional" way, reading small bits.  Before II Samuel was born I read it with my bible reading.  Now I just read it occasionally while nursing my precious baby boy, even reading aloud to him so he benefits from the rich systematic teaching of my beloved bible!  I'm also reading through The Institutes of Biblical Law by Rushdoony as the book to go with a ladies bible study I recently joined (and after one week, already loving both the time to discuss & learn with other ladies, but to be extremely challenged by such a book as this!).

Also, what could be more fitting than drinking a cup of tea as I plink away at updating this post?  This is a delicious and exotically interesting tea blend called, "Sweet Cinnamon Spice" of the Tazo brand.  Yum!  A dear friend gave me a lot of teas when she came and visited II Samuel and I.  She knows I love tea!  Very rarely do I find a tea that doesn't need anything added to it.  Maybe I should do tea reviews too?  Haha, just kidding. (:

Here is my original book list:
How to Read a Book, Adler & Doren - 346 (11 pages a day)
The Bondage of the Will, Dr. Martin Luther - 260 (9 pages a day)
Nullification, Tom Woods -  266 (8 1/2 pages a day)
Last Days Madness, Gary Demar - 442 (15 pages a day)
Dollar Noncents, Peter Allison - 155 (5 pages a day)
The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace - 249 (8 1/2 pages a day)
The Creature from Jekyll Island, G. Edward Griffin - 588 (19 pages a day)
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul (Sr.) - 287 (9 pages a day)
The Revolution a Manifesto, Dr. Ron Paul - 167 (5 1/2 pages a day)
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen - 309 (10 pages a day)

I find it interesting that I finished exactly half of what I intended to read.  I still want to read these titles, and perhaps I will finish them in 2014.  As for kicking off my reading goal, I did stay the course of reading X amount of pages each day for the first few months.  Then I found out I was pregnant.  Then I started reading multiple books, sigh.  That nasty habit weasled its way back into my reading regime.  But even so, I accomplished far more reading than I set out to do, and wanting to learn as much about labor/pregnancy/birth/postpartum really motivated me!  For that I count it as a blessing, even if I did not stick to my original plan rigidly.  But part of finishing so many books was being flexible, and part of having a rigid regime enabled me to begin at all.  Both styles of reading were beneficial to me this year.

There is no way I can pick one favorite.  I enjoyed them all, though I did like some better than others.  I am hard-pressed to choose a "favorite" and instead point to my ratings as a guess as to which ones I liked better than others. (;

I thank the Lord for giving me the perseverance to accomplish my 12 book reading goal, and go even further beyond what I thought I could finish.  I have grown mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually as a result of reading this vast array of book titles!  They all impacted me in very different ways, yet I'm grateful to have read them all. 

Baby (Has Been) HERE!

Well, lookie here,

Birthday was November 14th, 2013 at 10:47am. (:  His name is Samuel Rutherford Allison II.  Weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 oz.  Length 21 1/2''.  Apgar score was 9/10!

There is so much to say, so much to write, and less time to say it all.  As I type these words my precious bundle of joy is laying on my chest sleeping contentedly.  I don't always like to lay him down in his co-sleeper crib because I love holding him so much! And since I am simply tapping away at a keyboard, I can hold him easily (as opposed to dishes, or say eating, lol!) thanks to my boppy billow from a friend!  He is so precious.  I can still hardly believe he is here in my arms after so many months of preparing, waiting, and praying for him. (:

For the record, I am working on writing out his Birth Story and will share it on this blog, as well as a 2013 Complete Book List Post.  Both of which I hope to post before December is over.  They are both a work in progress. 

About this baby, and life with him.  It is humbling.  Extremely humbling.  From day one of his life it has taught me this deep reliance on my sovereign Lord, realizing ever more how I am not the one in control, but that I depend upon the Lord and His graciousness toward me.  It has made me acknowledge in so many moments that He is the one who holds us in His hands.  For example needing this baby to poop and pass all that meconium.  Yes, cue the parent blog posts talking about poop! I am that  mom now.  It really was crazy how badly we were waiting for him to poop, wondering if his diapers were wet enough, and wondering if he was getting enough to eat!  He lost 4 oz. by the second day.  Then Day 3 he had an explosion! Like, his diaper could not contain it and it went ALL over and up his back, right when Grandma Sue arrived for her first visit, LOL!  My sweet and selfless husband cleaned the baby up and managed to save the Onsie my bestie Hannah gave to him.  And I'm talking the black, tarry, sticky, so hard to clean up poop.  You know if you're a mom, and you'll know when you have a baby. O_o Since then he has produced a massive amount of soiled diapers, praise the Lord!  And when he wasn't, I was silently praying to the Lord in each moment, not wanting to worry, but to cast all my cares and anxieties on the Lord.  And at his two week visit he gained TWO WHOLE POUNDS!  And grew to 22 3/4''.  Apparently, according to my midwife, they typically hope for babies to gain half a pound in the first two weeks.  (: He's eating like an Allison already!

It is surreal to me that I could love a little person so much.  It has also been amazing how Samuel and I's relationship has grown deeper and sweeter.  I love him even more, and it continually surprises me how I could possibly love him more than before!  He has been so selfless, so sacrificial, so gracious, so loving, so very patient and dear to me.  His tenderness has touched me deeply, both toward me and II Samuel.  I honestly do not know what I would have done without him home the first week and half.  He's been amazing. (:  Still is!  I look at my Samuels and my heart is so full of love for both of them.  One of the best parts about mothering, so far, for me has been nursing my little one and seeing him grow on the nourishment my body is providing for him.  It is indescribable.  I look down at his sweet face and he looks so secure and at peace.  His little baby breathing and eyes are so mesmerizing.  It wasn't easy at first, but nor was it horrible.  Just minor discomfort compared to some of the stories I've heard. How fearfully and wonderfully we are made, how perfect the Lord crafted mother's bodies to meet the needs of their child, I praise Him for His works are great!

It's constantly a learning process for us all.  It's been interesting to implement some of the things I read about before.  You could say I'm somewhere in the middle between Attachment Parenting and Babywise parenting.  We coslept the first two weeks, then moved him to the "Arms Reach Co-sleeper" that attaches to the side of your bed.  We do a mixture of "demand" feeding and trying to establish a routine.  In many other instances it's been a both/and.  I don't like the concept of "baby-led" very much, because those who advocate for it seem to think the infant knows all and knows it's own needs and the parents ought to respond accordingly.  On the contrary, God has given us the responsibility to care for this little one, we are accountable to Him for the way we raise this baby, so we are the ones directing this child in life according to the word of God.  Even now.  We were given this gift, we are entrusted with his care, so we lovingly lead this little one, nurturing him, and depending upon God for our every need (and teaching II Samuel the same!).  So far I am learning to recognize some of his patterns, his little baby noises, and how to calm him down.  It can be tearful sometimes, but I have a wonderful husband who is so encouraging.  So I watch for when he is communicating and learning what his "cues" are, while lovingly (learning how to) guide him.

He's nearly 4 weeks old and I am ready to get on with this new normal.  But it has been such a sweet time of rest and recovery.  We have been abundantly blessed by so many friends and family during these first few weeks.  And as I ease back into my regular life, I m thankful for the time I spent before of freezing so many meals and prepping things to make the transition easier.  But oh wow, I was not prepared for how much more laundry a baby could produce! I'm glad I took the time to make our laundry detergent before he was born.

(Looks like a little pitcher already!)

This new season is a blessed one.  In the midst of this journey called life, I pray that the Lord would continue to keep me humble, pliable, and ready to learn, grow, and change as He moves me from place to place and from season to season.  It is quite a paradox, for things to seem to be changing as life goes on, and yet there is such peace, security, and stability in trusting in God's plans... especially as He has given me a steadfast husband who gives me earthly security.  I am so grateful for the good gifts my heavenly Father bestows on me, especially my husband, the greatest gift I have received in this life, and second being my son.  What a joy it is to rest in the knowledge and love of my Redeemer.  May this life of mine be for His glory and nothing less.