Dusting Off The Bookshelves

I decided that it was about time I catalog (all) my books into some kind of organized system.  First of all, it would help me keep track of my borrowed friends.  Second, it would keep me from picking up a copy of a work which I already I have.

Yes, I love to read.  Unfortunately, the older I get, the more my time for reading decreases; but that has not killed my excitement of wandering through the pages of a good piece of literature.  I was just looking at some of my childhood pictures and saw that I am usually reading or holding a book in a lot of those captured memories.  My parents installed a love of reading within me from the start of my life.  My school curriculum also taught me to appreciate and love literature.  Perhaps that is why my bookshelf has grown to such a massive extent.  Although my family thinks it is crazy for a twenty-four year old to have so many books, I actually spent very little money on my collection.  Most of them were gifts.  Some of the older books came from my Grandmother’s auction, and a lot of the rest were books I had to purchase for classes at SMBI or Faith Builders.  Although many alumni return their books at the end for money back, I fall deeply in love with my copies and keep them no matter the cost.  Of course, the books also can not be marked if they are to be returned; and I void that option because I study best when I can underline and highlight important thoughts and points in my study material.  The remainder of my collection of books were lying in bins or on shelves, alone and unwanted.  They called my name as I walked by, and went home with me in exchange for a quarter.

I was recommended to use LibraryThing, which has been working quite well.  My only regret is that they do not have an app yet, but I can still reach my books on my phone through their mobile site when I’m double-checking my purchases at the local bookstore.

By pulling out my books to list them on my web bookshelf, I relived many happy memories and rediscovered my favorite books.   Although this is not all of my favorites, I decided to share a special few!

  The Alice in Bibleland Series were my favorites when I was a toddler.  My father used to read them over and over again to me every night.  It got to the point that he would become bored of reading them; so he would switch up the words.  I had them memorized and would quickly correct him.  We had a lot of great father-daughter times with these books.

  Yes, the Pound Puppies in Little Golden Book format.  What gets better than that?!  I loved the Pound Puppies, probably because our family always had a dog when I was growing up.

  Who hasn’t fallen in love with a boy and his bear in the classic Winnie-the-Pooh stories?  Not only did I enjoy the books, but I also listened to the Winnie-the-Pooh tapes (that dates me, doesn’t it?!) over and over again.

  Mom used to read the books in this series (Dover Children’s Classics) to us every night as we waited for Dad to get home from trucking.  We would always beg her to read “just one more chapter!”.

The lively, lovable creatures in the Serendipity series came to life in my imagination and called me into their forest of adventure. 

  Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown still are two of my favorite detectives.  G.K. Chesterton and Arthur Conan Doyle make their characters come to life within their pages of mystery, suspense, and treachery.

I could never get enough of these in my tween years.  The Charleston series by Focus on the Family deals with the issue of slavery from young teenagers’ perspectives. 

Mom had this book around even before I could start reading.  I used to gaze at the cover and wonder what the story was about.  I was only to eager to learn how to read!  Once I could read, Mandie and her friends were constant companions of mine.  If one could not find me, I was probably hidden away in a corner somewhere with a Mandie book. 

  I have quite a few of the Trailblazer books because they retold missionary biographies in a fun way for kids.  I read these the way that some children devour candy.

  This was a series (Freedom Seekers) that I could not put down.  The mix between the underground railroad and life on a steamboat was all too adventurous to not read in one sitting.  I would try to sneak in reading any time I could.  I often had my books grounded because they had replaced my chores and homework.

  Another underground series (Young Underground), but this time during WWII.  During my tweens, I was captivated by these stories.

  One can’t forget good ole’ Laura Ingalls Wilder!  My parents gave me the complete set at a very early age so that I could journey with the Ingalls.  *Side note- Isn’t it pretty special that I share a birthday with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Charles Dickens?*

  Amelia Bedelia could always delight me.  I never tired of reading these; they brought an instant smile to my face.

  Hands down, I loved the Grandma’s Attic books!  I forget how many times I actually read these.  Thanks, Mom, for introducing me to them.

  Janette Oak does not just write Christian novels.  She has great books about animals for kids!  My brother and I always enjoyed these stories when Mom would read them to us.

  If you have never read Curious George, please go to your local library and pick up a copy today!  Perhaps he is the reason that I would beg to stay with the monkeys when we went to the zoo.

   Pride and Prejudice twill’ always be a favorite of mine, which shall be reread until the pages are quite worn.

Product DetailsAnne (with an “e”) Shirley will forever be my fictional best friend.  Lucy Maud Montgomery constantly delighted me with her story of one imaginative redhead who impacted everyone she met.

   Everybody give a cheer for Dr. Seuss, who knew how to bring home lessons wrapped in a fun, quirky, rhymy package!

  A book I just discovered and really enjoyed, even at my age.

  Enter into the world of Calvin and Hobbes!

  I think most little girls love the American Girl Doll books and dolls.  I wanted Samantha so badly when I was in first grade; so my parents promised me that if I got all 100’s on school assignments until Christmas I could get her for a Christmas gift.  I stuck to my end of the bargain, and they kept theirs;)

  I love these books and their Author.  Beatrix Potter is one of my heroes in the literary world.

  A book that should be on every little girl’s bookshelf – The Princess and The Kiss..

  The Tallest of Smalls:  One of my favorite short children’s stories by Max Lucado, although not as common as some of the rest.

  This small little book is perfect for carrying anywhere you go.  It is full of current-day topics and lists scripture references that go with each topic.

Firm Foundations:  A required read for a class at SMBI; although excellent for anytime and anyone.

  This book was gifted to me by my parents; and I have used it dozens of times.  I do not know what I would do without it.  It is in a small, compact size that easily fits into my backpack or study bag.

  Every potential writer should own a copy of this book.  It is small but packed with lots of wisdom and help.  Another great carry-with-you-type of book.

  An excellent book for quick reference on distinguishing what different religions believe and practice.

  This was an assigned reading in our family, whether or not we ever got married.  Although I balked at first, I am glad my parents insisted on reading it.

  Great book for becoming aware of people’s situations around the world.

  Christmas Carol Kauffman’s books have always been very special to me.  She was a lady who had a gift of writing!  Her books moved and impacted me deeply.

  Mom and Dad gave this book to me after I accepted Christ.  It is quite underlined and highlighted because it holds many nuggets of wisdom.

  This ranks as one of my all-time favorite stories.  A must read by Amy Carmichael, if you haven’t already.

  Although not a light book, Classic Slave Narratives was excellent to make me step into the shoes of those in the past and what they suffered.

  My Sunday-School teachers gave this book to everyone in my class.  Quite a powerful book for tweens and teens.

  Once again, heavy reading; but perfect for walking with the rescuers and sex-trafficked victims through their stories.

  My brother never enjoyed reading, but this was one big book that he completed reading and actually enjoyed.  And I agree with him, the stories and style of writing are excellent.

  I was captivated by this book when I first read it as a teenager.  Inspiring, tear-jerking, heart-touching, motivating.

  I like to use the stories in this book for illustrations, skits, examples, etc..

  This book was quite helpful in discerning myself and those around me.  It is one of those books that are great to reread.

  I am pretty certain that most teachers or people who deal with children will find The Complete Learning Disabilities Handbook immensely helpful.

  Martyr’s Mirror: my requested book for my birthday when I was only seven or eight (strange, I know; but I was always fascinated with history and Christians who died for their faith).  Gripping accounts of our forefathers and mothers.

Product DetailsI can not say it enough!  This movie/workbook course is extremely helpful and beneficial for any speaker, teacher, or preacher.

  Les Miserables- No movie or musical compares to the original work by Victor Hugo.

  One of those childhood classics that still holds a piece of my heart.

  I thoroughly enjoyed this book by George MacDonald (one of my favorite male authors).  It is one of those bitter-sweet stories that tells the tale At the Back of the North Wind.

  It’s a long trilogy, but one does not even notice the length once he enters the land of hobbits.

  My absolute favorite work by C.S. Lewis.  I double-recommend Screwtape Letters.

  Maybe it is strange to say, but The Last Battle is the book from the Chronicles of Narnia series that captures me the most.  This is the one that I hold the dearest.

  And of course, every great bookshelf needs the complete works of the notable William Shakespeare for a good mix of comedy, tragedy, and romance!

Make yourself a cup of chai, and settle down with your favorite book sometime today.   It never hurts to reread those special works that have claimed a piece of your heart.  Thanks for joining me on my book journey!


Replace The Face

                                       Don’t you wish that people’s hearts were displayed rather than their faces?


I had twenty-one girls looking at me.  I frantically searched my brain for how to describe beauty to these 8-14 year olds.  The young ladies before me have been growing up in a civilization that judges beauty on the physical.  We have adored models whose waist is a fourth the size of ours.  We have perused magazines whose photographed girls have been edited, reshaped, and polished to a humanly impossible level.  We have worshiped beauty as the avenue to acceptance, love, popularity, and fortune.  We have put so much pressure upon our girls that they suffer from bulimia, depression, and anorexia. 

So I told my story- the story of a frizzy-haired, acne-covered, braces-adorned, pale and freckled-skinned girl who was sure that she was the ugliest creature placed upon the earth.  Her parents loved her and told her that she was perfect and beautiful to them and God.  They told her she was smart and talented, but she couldn’t hear them.  She only saw her peers who were thin, had every strand in place, did not know what a pimple was, and had bronzed skin after a day in the sun rather than tomato red.  The doctor’s remark about her being obese on the height-weight chart only made her depression and self-loathing worse.  “Love yourself.  Everyone is beautiful.  If you are confident in who you are, you will be beautiful,” people encouraged.  Yes, it sounds lovely; but that advice is pretty shallow and doesn’t help much when you are a fourteen-year old girl standing beside a rack of Teen Vogue, Shout, and Seventeen magazines.

So what finally helped that girl who struggled even into her late teens?  Simple… when she realized that outer beauty is not all that important because- she figured out that the most beautiful people in life were the ones whose inner beauty was what she saw when she looked at them- she understood that God had made her just the way He wanted her and so she was perfect in His eyes- she put her focus on Christ instead of self- and she served the ones around her until she no longer thought or worried about how she looked but was consumed with how she could help ease pain and share Jesus’ love. 

Some of Leslie Ludy’s books have been very helpful to me on this subject.  May I share a few quotes?

“The most beautiful women I’ve ever observed are those that have exchanged a self-focused life for a Christ-focused one. They are confident, but not in themselves. Instead of self-confidence, they radiate with Christ-confidence.”
Leslie Ludy, Set-Apart Femininity: God’s Sacred Intent for Every Young Woman

“If you are ready to trade the hollow self-made beauty of this world for the glorious Christ-built beauty of a set-apart young woman, this is where it all begins. Denying self, taking up your cross, and following the Lamb wherever He leads. In other words, letting go of all preoccupation with self: our comfort, our pleasure, our agenda, our popularity, our ability to gain the world’s approval, even our own dreams and desires. And, as Paul did, treating all those things as rubbish for the excellence of the knowledge of Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:7-9).”
Leslie Ludy


Does this mean that we shouldn’t care at all about what we look like?  No, I’m not saying!  We should keep ourselves presentable.  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  We are representing Christ, and thus should be a clean, pure ambassador.  I use Proactiv twice a day to keep my acne under control; I exercise daily because I was overweight and was starting with diabetes; I comb my hair every morning; I brush my teeth and go to the dentist regularly;…

So where’s the delicate balance?  I’ll borrow from Mrs. Ludy again….I like how she puts it in perspective with the terms “respect our bodies, but not worship them”.

I said that it’s simple to have the right perspective on beauty, but unfortunately it isn’t; I still do struggle at times with my focus coming off of Christ and looking around me as I start to worship the god of Beauty.  Those times when I compare myself to others (and bemoan my crooked nose), I fall into that trap of empty beauty which only leads to depression and endless searching.

So may I encourage you today, as I did my teen and tween girls, to stop focusing on physical beauty and instead learn to know the beauty of Christ.  When we look upon Christ’s beauty, He fills us with His radiance….and then we are truly made beautiful through Him.  His beauty shines out through us and is what people will see when they look upon us.  

If only we had the eyes of a little child.  I’m sure you have had it happen that a child will tell you, “You’re beautiful!”  You want to chuckle because most adults would disagree with that statement, but that child has seen your heart instead of your face.  All he sees is the love, gentleness, kindness, and compassion that is radiating from the inside-out, not whether or not you are wearing name-brand clothing, have a perfect complexion, boast a gorgeous tan, wear a size 2, and are named Miss America.

Today I challenge you to imagine that you are wearing your heart instead of your face.  I also challenge you to view others in the same way.  Replace their face with their heart, and things will appear quite differently to your eyes.  There’s a lot we can learn from young children, but I think this, perhaps, is my favorite lesson.  



“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

1 Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Proverbs 31:30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

“If people were more concerned with how they looked on the inside, then on the outside, the world would be a nicer place to exist.”
David Walsh