Two Life Changing Books

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday, and Lent begins. As my pastor said in his Monday letter,

We spend these forty days (in austerity), contemplating what God desires from our lives and how we measure up. It is a time of honest introspection, naming our shortcomings in relationships, in vocation, in the handling of our families, our time, and our material wealth.

I'm not "giving up" anything for Lent this year*, but I do welcome the opportunity to think more deeply about what God desires from my life. I recently read two books that prompted me to consider what God wants in a more personal and profound way.

The first is, Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. You've probably heard of this book, about a little boy's time in heaven, and how he came to tell his family about it. I downloaded it to my Kindle as a backup plan for a Trusts and Estates conference I had to attend. About halfway through the Probate Code I started turning the pages of this book, and I could not stop. I read it in one afternoon - the first time I've ever done that with any book.

I never doubted that heaven was "for real," but it has always been hard for me to picture. After reading this book, I've got a picture and it is wildly beautiful. I don't know if the heaven described in Heaven is for Real will be my heaven, but I appreciate the glimpse into something my mind could not otherwise imagine. I appreciate the Burpo family sharing their story, and I highly recommend their book.

The second book is Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis and Beth Clark.

I discovered it when I read this article on (in)courage. I was dumbfounded by Katie's byline: 18 year old girl goes to Uganda for a mission trip, stays, ends up adopting three girls, starts a non-profit and lives there still, blogging about it all. She is all of 23 now (I think), has adopted 13 girls, provides medical care and an education to countless Ugandans. She is a modern-day Mother Teresa, but she comes from a background that is so familiar: good family, smart, pretty, homecoming queen. As she says in her book, "I quit my life."

In so doing, she found herself. Her story is completely inspiring. My mouth fell open, I cried, I smiled, and I read. Finally, I was moved to action. For years, I've read about Compassion International, and I've thought about sponsoring a child. I've thought and I've thought and I've thought. When I finished Kisses from Katie, I clicked over to Compassion to "just see" if they help children in Uganda.

They do.

The first child I saw, one featured on the landing page as being Aids-affected and having waited for a sponsor for over six months, was a little boy in Uganda, just two years older than my own boy. He loves soccer, just like my boy. And now, we sponsor him.

So, read these books if you dare. You may be inspired to action, too.

Have you read any life changing books?

This week is all about books.
To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway of Robin O'Bryant's book, Ketchup is a Vegetable, and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves - open until Thursday at midnight.

*Actually, I am giving up something - yelling. I spent a lot of time on Tuesday thinking about what God desires from my life, and I feel like He wants me to make this behavioral change. I don't generally go around yelling at people; the only people I yell at are my kids. It happens when I've asked them three times and they haven't acknowledged my words, when they won't stop wrestling, or when I'm at one end of the house and they are at the other. I don't have to yell in those situations (a child about to run into the street = must yell!) but I do because I am annoyed, frustrated or just plain of tired of being unheard. Those are my reasons for yelling, but even after I yell I still feel annoyed, frustrated and unheard. (Epiphany!)

So - I'm giving up yelling. I'll let you know how it goes.

Linking with:
Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family

and on Thursday with:

Thought Provoking Thursday at

(because I'm attracted to the way Jesus reaches us through many mediums, including books)

share this on »

8 Responses to “Two Life Changing Books”

  1. I love the "Heaven is for Real" book too.  I read it after my dad passed away and gave it to my mom, who has given it to everyone in her church in NC.  So amazing.  There is a kids' version too - Jack got it for Christmas and loves it.  It definitely helps with some of those hard questions.  I will have to read the "Kisses for Katie" book.  I have heard a lot about it but have not yet picked it up!!  Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I've been wanting to read both of these books. I will put them on the list for this summer when I have some more time! You already know my life changing book - One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. :)

  3. Thanks for the book suggestions. You'll love sponsoring a child. Our sponsored child is 6 and lives in Honduras. My kids write Leonel and pray for him often. And they love to hear from him too.

  4. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Really liked your post on Lent. I so enjoyed Heaven is for Real and I will have to read Kisses From Katie. Giving up yelling for Lent with children-well there's a challenge. Good luck, God will get you through it.  

  6. Thank you for sharing your lenten journey.  Both books sound amazing, and I've heard a lot about each of them.  Gonna have to check them out.

  7. Here are my life-changing books.  This Lent I plan to read The Message translation of the Gospels and Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, which is science fiction but with Christian themes.  A great book for Lent (I read it a couple years ago) is The Last Week by Marcus Borg & Dominic Crossan.

    I wish you strength for giving up yelling!

  8. I have read Todd Burpo's book as well, like you, in almost one sitting (I saved some of it, putting off having to finish it too quickly!) - and would love to read Kisses from Katie - I too  have read her inspiring blog.
    Two books I have really enjoyed in the last year are Ian Morgan Cron's Chasing Francis, and Real Life Discipleship by Jim Putnam - both scribbled on and lent out several times.