words. lots of 'em. and a giveaway. because hi, that's fun.

Recently I have fallen back in love with words. I know. You're thinking: for someone who had fallen out of love with words you sure did keep writing a lot of them. And you're right. And you haven't even seen the half of them. Words are how I make sense of this crazy thing called life. This keyboard and the journal beside it are a lifeline. When everything is a mess and a jumble (or even when it's fun and easy), if I start to write, I start to tell myself things I didn't know I knew. And then I start to see the hand of God in all of it in a way I hadn't seen before--in a way I had missed in the midst of the living. But over the past five months, I have fallen back in love with reading. Particularly reading words written by people born before about 1950. They don't look to impress you with any overcomplicated insight. They just carefully and comfortably explain to you what it is that they have learned about life and the Lord, and then they leave you to live it. It's beautifully simple and refreshing. And profound. And so very encouraging.

It's also been a year since I started blogging. (I mean, technically it's been five years, but I'm not sure an annual blog post really counts.) I have had the best time with you! Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments and your texts and your hugs and your eye-rolls. Thank you for meeting me here and for knowing me and for letting me ramble on before I get to my point...which I promise I am.

Because I love you and because I love words and because we've been here a year and usually on birthdays there are presents, I thought it would be super-fun to give away four of my favorite books. Two I just read and two I read years ago, but they're all good.

The books are:

1. Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. A friend recommended this book to me a few months ago. I had purchased and read the entire thing within three days. It is not clarity that we need in this life, Manning suggests, it is trust--trust in a God that we do not always understand. He says:

"The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise." (Manning, page 12-13)

2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is a fun one but still makes you think. It's a collection of letters from "an experienced demon" to his younger nephew and protege. He is teaching the younger demon how to best lead his Christian "subject" astray. It's kind of mind-twisty. But it's insightful and intriguing and makes you think about spiritual warfare in a different, perhaps, but incredibly practical way.

3. The Helper by Catherine Marshall. I read it years ago, but it remains one of my favorite introductions to the Holy Spirit and His ways. It's also divided into 40 readings, so if you're looking for something to read through this Lent, this might be perfect. In it, Marshall says:

"We wonder how anything could be more wonderful than the physical presence of our Lord. Yet Jesus never spoke lightly or thoughtlessly. And here we have His solemn word in His Last Supper talk with His apostles that there is something better--His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit." (Marshall, page 38)

4. Secure in the Everlasting Arms by Elisabeth Elliot. I'm not quite finished with this one yet, but it is amazing. She is filled with such strength and wisdom, but her words are also laced with tenderness. I have been convicted and comforted, challenged and encouraged. One particularly powerful quote:

"It is tempting to imagine that, given a different lot in life, circumstances other than those in which we find ourselves, we would make much greater strides in holiness. The truth is that the place where we are is God's schoolroom, not somewhere else. Here we may be conformed to the likeness of Christ." (Elliot, page 131)

Here is how you play this game:

  1. You have to comment either on the blog or on the Twitter or Facebook linkby Monday at 12pm. UPDATE: Please post your comment on the blog. They're getting lost on Facebook. If you already posted on Facebook, I think I found you, but if you want to be safe, you should post again here, too. (Complaints? See Rule #8.)
  2. You have to include your name.
  3. You have to say which book(s) you want. There will be four separate drawings. (You can want more than one.)
  4. You cannot enter for a book you already own. Obviously. Why would you?
  5. If you are related to me or have ever been in my home, you have to play. Because a game is no fun if nobody plays it. And because I said so.
  6. On Monday afternoon, I'll put everybody's name in a bowl for each book, and I'll draw one from each bowl. (I know. You're impressed with how high-tech that is. Maybe I'll film it. That could get exciting.)
  7. I'll post the winners Monday afternoon. If you win, I'll also send you an email to figure out how to get your book to you.
  8. The rules are subject to change because I've never done this before. And because I'm in charge.

That's it! Happy Friday!