Journey to Joy

I wrote in my last post about moving from complacency to joy. It brought to mind the book I’m reading now. It’s actually a new book, Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent, that’s being released officially on April 30.

Our pastor preached through the Psalms of Ascent in early 2011, and this book was based on that series. It’s 15 chapters that walk through the 15 Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) as 15 steps on a journey to joy. Not only does it provide meaningful commentary on each psalm, but it also gives practical application for much of what we face in daily life, from when we need help or face injustice or are looking for peace. The book gives insight into family life and church life and touches on all kinds of practical matters in life, taking us to God to find true joy and meaning for it all. This book would be great to use for a Bible study or to give to a friend.

I can so highly recommend it because of the work God did in my life through hearing the sermon series two years ago. Week by week, the Lord used these psalms to walk me through a time of transition in my life. It was actually quite extraordinary how God used these messages to speak to my heart and so directly to my present circumstances. You don’t have to be sensing a lack of joy in your life to enjoy this book. It’s beneficial for anyone and has a very devotional quality about it. I’m personally being challenged and encouraged again as I read through it.

Through today, you can take advantage of a great deal on the Kindle edition which is only 99 cents!

Learn more at www.thejourneytojoy.org.

Spring Break and Easter

We had a wonderful Spring Break! My friend who lost her husband to cancer last year came to visit with her two daughters. We took the girls downtown to a hotel with an American Girl package. Our three girls had so much fun shopping, swimming, eating Chicago pizza, and spending time together. Then they came out and spent a couple of nights here. It was such a relaxing few days!

Thankfully, my daughter ended a weeklong fever virus a couple of days before they came! I was so thankful we were all well to enjoy the visit.

Easter was wonderful at our church. The Good Friday and Easter services are always such special ones, definitely my favorites of the year, and it’s always amazing to end Easter singing In Christ Alone and the Hallelujah Chorus! It was a special day, too, with family, and I’ve been so happy to have my mom here this year for days like these.

Easter Sunday

I’ve had lots of ideas for blog posts, but am keeping this one simple tonight. I’ll just give a couple of books I’ve been reading.

I read this book last week in less than 24 hours. I knew it would be a quick read and something I would enjoy. I actually bought it for my daughter after we heard about Katie Davis’ ministry at a girls’ conference a few weeks back. I’m not sure what words would even accurately capture it: inspiring? challenging? It was exactly what I expected, and I was blessed by her story.

I’m also reading now Carolyn Mahaney’s book Feminine Appeal which was a “book of the month” at church last month. I didn’t know what to expect, and I sometimes pre-judge a book like this thinking I won’t like it. So far, I’ve been surprised by her straightforward, simple encouragement from Titus 2. She’s stating some things that I suppose should be fairly obvious, but to be honest, things I’ve lacked a vision for in my life (a mentoring relationship, mentoring others, etc.)

I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night (do you ever wake up anxious for no reason?), so I came downstairs to pray and read. At the end of praying, I was about to go back to bed but checked Facebook. Do I really need to do that at 3:00 a.m.? But I saw a post from a friend that linked to a blog of a Christian woman writing about Titus 2, the exact same verses I read about in Mahaney’s book before I went to bed last night.

Since I don’t believe in coincidence, I’m memorizing Titus 2:3-5 now, and I’ll continue to pursue some of this reading and the new thoughts that are flowing through my mind. So with that, I may go read a bit before bed.

Titus 2:3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

2012 Reading

I thought I’d track some of my reading this year. It could serve as my motivation to read good things that I could enjoy blogging about.

I must admit I think I only read two books in full in January, and they are not what I would have expected! In recent years, I’ve been inspired to read things that stretch me and grow me, that are intellectually challenging and full of rich ideas. This is part of the fruit of watching my children have a classical education and seeing the things they are learning and reading. Working in the school also encouraged me to be a lifelong learner as we would often read and discuss meaningful books amongst ourselves, be it about education or spiritual growth or culture, etc. I’ve also tried to read some classics like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which I thoroughly enjoyed last year.

But this year started out differently with two easy and unexpected reads that don’t necessarily fit my above criteria. First, my son, along with every other 13 year old boy in America, I suspect, got this for Christmas, so I picked it up to see what he would be reading:

I was impressed by many things in the book, but particularly how Tebow has loved and respected his parents and has also had a desire to be himself, not having to be like anyone else, but free to use the gifts God has given him for His glory. I think there were a lot of things in this book that could serve as encouragements to young boys, as long as they don’t get discouraged that they won’t be a superstar quarterback!

Then my daughter got this book for Christmas, so I wanted to read it through, too:

I admit to being very skeptical, but I found the family to be seemingly very sound and believable. I don’t know that I could necessarily put confidence in all that was written, but what it did do was give me encouragement to think more about heaven, to imagine it in ways that I had never considered, and if nothing else, to see the power of prayer. It unexpectedly and positively impacted me.

A friend has asked me to read with her a biography on Amy Carmichael, so that is next up.

As long as I’m on the subject of books, another book I thoroughly enjoyed late last year (but let’s pretend it was in 2012 because I want to add it to this reading list) was Surprised by Oxford. It’s Carolyn Weber’s  conversion story that tells how she found faith at Oxford. I read it in less than a week and would highly recommend it!

I’m off to read a book on Jonah before bed. I stumbled upon this, and we had just studied Jonah last week at Women’s Bible Study at church. I can’t wait to see how this book reinforces the beauty of that short book that tells of Jonah’s resistance and God’s incredible mercy and love.