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.
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.)
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.)
Edited to Add: Part 2 can be found here.
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