20 Authors Who Have Radically Impacted My Life {Part 1}

Favorite books for me are kind of like favorite hymns....there are way too many choices, and other than a short...or maybe not-so-short...list of all-time favorites, the ones closest to my heart generally change depending on what is going on in my life at the time.

However, a list of favorite authors is a little easier. There are just some whose writing consistently speaks to me, and who have been used in great ways in my life over the years.

With the disclaimer that I may have to come back and add a few that slip my mind as I write this in the early morning darkness without access to my bookshelves to jog my memory, here's the part 1 of the list. Come back tomorrow for part 2! :)  (It's in no particular order, and I'm not including those who write fiction exclusively. That may be another post. :))

1. Anne Ortlund. I said the list was in no particular order, but this one may be the exception. If I were pressed to name an all-time favorite, it would probably have to be Anne Ortlund. When I was about 10, my mom asked for her book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, for Christmas, birthday, or some such special occasion. I bought it for her. I still remember proudly paying for it at the old Christian Supply Store in Conway...one of my all-time favorite places! After my mom read it, I read it. I read it so many times over the years that when I bought a copy for myself as a young adult, I immediately noticed editorial changes between the original edition I'd bought my mom and the later edition I purchased for myself.

While I can't say I have lived all the wisdom I read in this book over the years, it did make a profound impact on my life. I had already begun taking sermon notes following my parents' examples, but Mrs. Ortlund's systematic approach to keeping up with Bible Study and sermon notes appealed to me, and I used a similar system for years. (I need desperately to get back to such a system!)

Mrs. Ortlund's book was also the first exposure Mother or I had to using a notebook as a planner. Long before DayRunners and Daytimers became available (at least in our neck of the woods), Anne Ortlund's system of making one's own planner from a 5x8 looseleaf binder revolutionized my entire life. I started my first such notebook while I was still in grade school, and for the next 20+ years was almost never seen without my notebook planner. Although my life and system have changed a great deal since then, I still utilize many of her suggestions.

More important than the organizational help from Mrs. Ortlund's writing was the encouragement in the areas of Christian growth, discipleship, and church family relationships, however. Not only Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, but the subsequent Disciplines of the Heart  and Disciplines of the Home, as well as Love Me With Tough Love, and one of my very favorites, Fix Your Eyes on Jesus, all had huge impacts on my life.

I'm planning a future blog post on some of the best advice I ever read from her books: to find a church that preaches the truth of the Word, get involved, and then hang around. The fact that my parents did that...that we were often some of the last to leave the church after services and activities...was a huge factor in my developing a love and appreciation for church family that continues on today. Billy and I have carried on in that tradition...and I am so thankful that my children are developing a love for the church and a habit of "hanging around." I'll stop there and save the rest for that future blog post. :)

One of the great joys of my life was hearing Anne Ortlund speak and meeting her in person as a young adult. What a beautiful lady who totally exuded the grace of God.

2. Edith Schaeffer. Like Anne Ortlund, Edith Schaeffer is one of the greatest heroines of the Faith to me. I read her books,Tapestry and With Love, Edith, as a young adult, and I have read bits and pieces over and over again since then. I was able to find used copies of both in excellent condition a few years ago, and I was so delighted to add them to our home library. I'm planning to read both again this school year. With Love, Edith, made a particular impact on me as it is a collection of letters that Mrs. Schaeffer wrote to her extended family as she and her husband Francis were in the early years of their ministry at L'Abri. I love biographies and autobiographies, but I think there is something so special about reading journals and letters, as through them we can see what was actually going on in the mind of the writer at the time, rather than what they remember later.

Forever Music: A Tribute to the Gift of Creativity is another favorite. I wrote a paper on this book in high school. A must for any piano lover or anyone interested in the subject of creativity.

I can't leave Edith Schaeffer without mentioning her book,The Hidden Art of Homemaking ~ another book that had a profound effect on shaping my whole life paradigm.

I've been greatly blessed to meet a number of my favorite writers/heroes of the faith in person over the years. I was blessed to meet Edith Schaeffer and her husband, Francis, as a 1st grader during a trip to Dallas with my family. I had no idea at the time what an impact they would have on my life, but what a treasure to remember that brief meeting, even if my greatest memory of it was Dr. Schaeffer's fascinating style of dress... knickers and long socks which looked to this Heidi lover to have come straight out of the Swiss Alps (which I suppose they had! :))

3. Having already mentioned Francis Schaeffer, I'll go ahead and add him to the list here. Although I have not read many of his books straight through, I've been exposed to much of his writing in various contexts, and he is not only one of my personal favorites, but simply one of the all-time greats, in my opinion. I'll be reading through a great deal of work with my high schoolers over the next few years. I can't wait!

4. C. S. Lewis. This one just almost goes without saying. I know that there are issues with some of his theology, and as I'll be reading through much of his work with my high schoolers soon as well, we'll be exploring some of that. However, Lewis was a phenomenal crafter of thoughts and words, and many, may lives including my own have been enriched by his writings.TheScrewtapeLetters was influential in my life as a high schooler; I still have the paper I wrote on it, in fact. :)

From childhood on, I read the Chronicles of Narnia until I practically had them memorized, and then later, God used a co-op class I taught on Narnia to hit me squarely between the eyes and help in my healing from one of the most difficult periods of our life with the truth that "Aslan is not a tame lion. He is good, but He is not a tame lion." Wow. (Read more on that here.)

5. Steven Lawson. Although I have enjoyed reading Steven Lawson in recent years, and his book When All Hell Breaks Loose (You May Be Doing Something Right) was a major influence on my life during a difficult time, Dr. Lawson's greatest impact in my life came before I ever read any of his writing. Seven years ago, during one of the most difficult times our family had ever gone through, Dr. Lawson came to our church to do a Bible Conference. I don't remember what his official topic was that week, but his teaching on the sovereignty of God radically changed my life. That sounds rather dramatic, but it's nonetheless true.

6. David Platt. It's stirred up a bit of controversy in the years since it's release, but David Platt's Radical made a radical impact on my life. I was an early reviewer for the book (you can read my review here), and it was one of those paradigm-shifting reads for me. I don't think we all need to give away everything we own and live in the jungles of Africa for the rest of our lives (and I never understood that as Platt's message), but I do think that we in developed countries...especially the United States...need to stop and re-examine our worldview (particularly the "American Dream" that most of us in the U.S. hold so dearly.) My oldest is reading this book right now, and it will definitely be required reading for all my children.

7. Mary DeMuth. Promo alert. *Big Grin* I am currently on the Launch Team for Mary's latest book, The Wall Around Your Heart, which released on October 15. You need to read this book. (Read a bit about how it has impacted my life here.) Then you need to read her book Everything. Life changing reading. (Read my review here.)  

Although she writes on many other subjects as well, Mary is one of the few Biblically-based voices speaking out on the issue of sexual abuse today. God has used her in a mighty, mighty way in my life in the last 7 years as we've begun to heal as a family from trauma we never expected to experience. (Read more of what I have to say about Mary's writing and ministry here.)

8. Justin Holcomb. Justin Holcomb and his wife Lindsay are two others who are leading the way in ministering to those who have been touched by sexual abuse from a solid Biblical foundation. Their book Rid of My Disgrace didn't come out until several years into our journey, but it is the book I prayed for from the day our world exploded. (Read more of my thoughts on the book here. )

9. Sally ClarksonEducating the WholeHearted Child, co-written with her husband Clay, is one of my all-time favorite books on homeschooling (and one I recommend to all parents, homeschooling or not. It has much valuable information for all Christian parents, not just homeschoolers.)

10. Josh Harris. Josh Harris is perhaps an odd addition to this list. I don't know that I have ever actually read a complete book he's written, although I have a couple on my "to read" list, including Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God. However, I've read many short articles he's written, and I think he is a young man to watch. I saw Josh Harris and his family many years ago and heard them speak at a homeschool convention...way back in the mid-80s, when they weren't nearly as well-known and Josh was just a young boy. They made an impact on my life then, and they have continued to through the years.

So...there are the first ten.  Come back tomorrow for the rest of the list. :)  Who are some of the most influential authors in your life?  Please share a few in the comments!  

Edited to Add: Part 2 can be found here


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