Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Review: The Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Institutes of Christian ReligionFor the non-fiction reading challenge I read John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. I know I mentioned it before on here but I ended up reading an abridged version. I started out reading an unabridged version but it was just too much so after some debating I went ahead and got an abridged version that my cousin recommended and I loved it. It is edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne.

In this book, Calvin lays out a beautiful overlay of Christianity: A systematic theology. I took extensive notes while reading it. Copying out my favorite parts in a notebook. I actually didn't have too much room left in the notebook when I finished the book. Even in the abridged version there were definitely things that went over my head and sometimes I'd have to re-read a paragraph multiple times to try and get what Calvin was saying. This is a heady book but absolutely worth it if you're passionate about understanding God's Word at a deeper level.

I want to share a few of my favorite quotes with you. I have a whole notebook full, as you know, but don't worry, I won't include all of them. Some of them are kind of long but they are worth the read.
"Thus from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, power, infirmity, and-what is more- depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abidance of every good, and purity of righteousness rests in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to Him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves. The knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find Him." 
"What in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God."
"Man is never significantly touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with Gods's majesty."
"Although our mind cannot apprehend God without rendering some honor to Him, it will not suffice simply to hold that there is one whom all ought to honor and adore, unless we are also persuaded that He is the foundation of every good, and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in Him. This I take to mean that not only does He sustain this universe by His boundless might, regulate it by His wisdom, preserve it by His goodness and especially rule making by His righteousness and judgment, bear with in His mercy, watch over it by His protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom and light or of righteousness or power or recited or of genuine truth, which does not flow from Him and of which He is not the cause." 
"They do not therefore apprehend God as He offers himself, but imagine Him as they have fashioned Him in their own presupposition. They think that any zeal for religion, however preposterous is sufficient. They do not realize that true religion ought to be conformed to God's will as to a universal rule; that God ever remains like Himself and is not a specter or phantasm to be transformed according to anybody's whim. They are not so restrained by that pretend fear of God from wallowing blithely in their own sins and flattering themselves and preferring to indulge their fleshly intemperance rather than restrain it by the bridle of the Holy Spirit. For where they ought to have remained consistently obedient throughout life, they boldly rebel against Him in almost all their deeds, and are zealous to placate Him merely with a few platy sacrifices. Where they ought to serve Him in sanity of life and integrity of heart, they trump up frivolous trifles and worthless little observances with which to win His favor. With greater license they sluggishly lie in their own filth because they are confident that they can preform their duty toward Him by ridiculous acts of expiation. Then while their trust ought to have been placed in Him, they neglect Him and rely upon themselves."  
"We ought not to rack our brains about God; but rather, we should contemplate Him in His works. We are called to a knowledge of God; not that knowledge which, content with empty speculation, merely flits in the brain, but that which will be sound and fruitful if we duly perceive it, and if it takes root in the heart." 
"Scripture has its authority from God, not from the church. While the church receives and gives its seals of approval to the scriptures, it does not thereby render authentic what is otherwise doubtful or controversial. We should not acquiesce in mere opinion, but should rely on sure and firm truth. As God alone is a fit witness of Himself in His Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the spirit." 
"The Holy Spirit is recognized in His agreement with scripture."
"The scripture invites us first to fear God and then to trust Him."
 "Surely God's infinity ought to make us afraid to try to measure Him by our own senses. Indeed, His spiritual nature forbids our imagining anything earthly or carnal of Him." 
"Let us not take it in our hearts either to seek out God anywhere else than in His sacred Word, or to think anything about Him that is not prompted by His Word, or to speak anything that is not taken from that Word."
"The depravity and malice both of man and of the devil, or that sins that arise therefrom do not spring from nature, but rather from the corruption of nature."  
"We ought to hold to one rule of modesty and sobriety: not to speak or guess, or even to seek to know, concerning obscure matters anything except what has been imparted to us by Gods' word. Furthermore, in the reading of scripture we ought ceaselessly to endeavor to seek out and meditate upon those things which make for edification. Let us not indulge in curiosity or in the investigation of unprofitable things. Because the Lord walled to instructs us, not in fruitless questions, but in sound godliness, in the far of His name in true trust and in the duty of holiness, let us be satisfied with this knowledge." 
"The theologians task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure and profitable." 
"Recognize that God has destined all things for our good and salvation but at the same time feel His power and grace in ourselves and in the great benefits He has conferred upon us and so to bestir ourselves to trust, invoke, praise and love Him."
"No necessity was imposed upon God of giving man other than a mediocre and even transitory will, that from mans' fall He might gather occasion for His own glory."
"There is a great difference between what is fitting for a man to will and what is fitting for God, and to what end the will of each is directed, so that it be either approved or disapproved. For through the bad wills of evil men God fulfills what He righteously wills."
 "There is a general belief in the mistaken idea that man has everything he needs for a good and happy life. Teaching man to rely on himself can be no more that sweet seduction, because everyone who is deluded by it will be ruined. We are merely persisting in rushing headlong to destructing when we trust in our own ability. If we listen to teachers who get us to dwell on our good qualities, then far from making progress in self-knowledge, we will be sunk in the most disastrous ignorance. The person who assesses himself by the standard of divine justice finds no grounds for confidence and so, the more thorough his self examination, the greater his despair." 
"In considering man's self-knowledge, it seems right to think about it like this. First, he should think about the purpose for which he was made ,and the splendid qualities he was given, to spur him on to meditate on worship of God and the future life. Second he should consider the faculties he has not go, so that when he is aware of this, all his confidence will evaporate and he will be ashamed. The effect of the first is to teach a person what his duty is, and of the second to make him realize how far he can fulfill it." 
"When the will is ensnared by sin, it cannot start to be good, let alone maintain good ways."
"Everything good in the will is entirely the result of grace. All the good qualities which believes possess are due to God."
"It is only our weakness and depravity that prevent us from enjoying the happiness which the law offers. So divine grace is made even sweeter, God's march even lovier because it proclaims that He is never weary of doing good and showering us with His gifts." 
 "We must never measure God's glory by our ability. Whatever he may be He remains the same, the friend of righteousness and the enemy of unrighteousness."
"We assess our powers and see that they are not only inadequate for fulfilling the law, but good for nothing."
 "There is not a syllable in the law which gives a ruling as to what a man must do or not do for the advantage of his own carnal nature." 
"The gospel has not succeeded the law in such a way as to usher in a different plan of salvation. On the contrary, it confirms the law and proves that everything it promised is fulfilled."  
"Those who rob Christ of divinity or humanity either detract from His glory or obscure His goodness."  
"It is important for us to remember that He has taken our place, so that we may not spend all our lives in trepidation and anxiety, as if the punishment we deserve, but which the Son of God took to Himself, was still hanging over us." 
"As he became victories over death by rising again, so the victory of our faith is because of His resurrection. By His death sin was taken away and by His resurrection righteousness was restored." 
"Take away the Word and there will be no faith. Faith includes not merely the knowledge that God exists, but especially a realization of his will toward us. We need to know not only what He is in Himself, but also the character He choses to reveal to us. Faith is the knowledge of the divine will toward us, discard from His word. Its prerequisite is a conviction of the turret of God. It is not enough to believe that God is true and cannot lie or deceive, unless you feel firmly convinced that every word proceeds from Him is sacred, absolute truth."
"Faith is a firm and sure knowledge of God's favor toward us, based on the turret of a free promise in Christ, revelaed to our minds and sealed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit." 
"Repentance not only follows faith but is produced by it."
"A man cannot honesty know about repentance unless he knows he belongs to God. But no one is really convinced He is of God until He has accepted His offer of love. No one will ever honor God if he does not believe that God forgives him. No one will every willingly obey the law, if he is not convinced that his efforts are pleasing to God." 
"Repentance is a true conversion of our life to God, spraining from real and stolen fear of God; it consists also in putting to death our flesh and the quickening of the Spirit."
"Sin no longer reigns, but it still remains."
"Doctrine is not a matter of talk but of life."
 "By service, I do not mean simply verbal obedience, but the state of mind which, stripped of carnal desires, implicitly obeys the call of God's spirit." 
"The Chrsitian ought to be disciplined to think that throughout his life he is dealign with God." 
"It is possible to carry out every good deed, as far as the external act goes, but to do it in the wrong way."
"Everyone should think that he owes himself to his neighbors, and that the only limit to his generosity is the end of his resources."
"Unless you understand first of all what your position is before God, and the judgement He has to pass on you, you have no foundation on which salvation can be built or on which true godliness can flourish."
"The distinction between the law and the gospel is obvious: The former gives justification to works whereas the latter bestows it freely without any help from works."   
 "We must meditate on God as He is portrayed in scripture, not in our puny little minds." 
"We may think ourselves superior to, or equal with, other men, but this means nothing to God and it is His judgment alone which counts." 
"The object of righteousness is the service of God: nothing else will do. The ungodly may preform acts that seem good but their motives are evil because they are not seeking to see God. So their beds are sinful."
"Since perfection is altogether unattainable as long as we are in the flesh, the law pronounces death and judgment on all who have not attained perfect righteousness, there will always be good reason to accuse and convict us unless God intervenes in His mercy." 
"We are justified not without, and yet not by, works."
"If they try to measure it (salvation) by their good works they will wallow in uncertainty."
"Anyone who imagines that he can obtain justification by works in any way has an endless task, because he is a debtor to the whole law."
"If we know God as the sovereign giver of all good, who invites us to pass on our requests, and yet we don't bother to come to Him; it won't help one bit."  
 "We should only ask what God allows." 
"God's decision about het elect is based on His free mercy with no reference to human deserving. Equally, those whom He dooms to destruction are shut off from eternal life by His perfect, but incomprehensible judgment."  
"Doctrinal matters are not all of equal importance. Some are essential to truth faith and there are other matters, which can be controversial, but do not destroy the unity of faith. Matters non-essential should not be the basis of arguments among Chrsitains. Of course it is good to have complete agreement, but as no one has perfect knowledge, we must either have no church at all or forgive errors in things which do not destroy the basis of salvation. I'm not condoning error, however trivial, nor trying to encourage it."
"Of course we do not excuse shallow Chrsitian living: it is far too common and the Lord has to correct it, especially if weaker consciences are offended. But it is also a sin to be unloving and unnecessarily severe." 
"Forgiveness of sins is not only the basis on which we first enter the church; it is also the basis upon which the Lord keeps us there. There would not be much point in receiving a pardon which has no further value. God's mercy would be futile and false if it was only I given once." 
I could not more highly recommend this book. Even if you are not reformed in theology I think you find in it a wealth of wisdom.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

It's Monday! As Time Goes By

I got busy last week and an "It's Monday" post did not make it up on the blog so this post will cover two weeks. Sorry guys! I'm also really behind on reviews right now but finding I'm just really not in the mood currently so I'm stepping back and leaving them until I am. If I'm forcing myself to blog then I'm not going to enjoy it. Hopefully though I'll soon feel like it because I don't want to get too behind.

Currently Reading

  • The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink 
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read) (audiobook)
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens 

Finished in the past couple weeks

  • Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (re-read)
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen (re-read)- I wasn't planning on re-reading it this year but then I found out a film adaptation (Love and Friendship) was coming out so I wanted to refresh my memory on it. It's a fun quick little read and free on the Kindle app. 
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester 
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (audiobook)

Coming Soon

  • Total Truth by Nancy Pierce 
  • All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren 

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bout of Books- May 2016

My favorite read-a-thon is here!
Bout of Books
Here's the rundown on what Bout of Books is all about.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
I'm hoping to get a few books read during the read-a-thon, though I don't know which ones yet. What I'm currently reading and what I'm wanted to read next always seems to be changing so who knows where I'll be when May 9th comes!

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review- Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #1)For the Mount TBR pile challenge, the 12 Month Classics Challenge and the Classics Club I read C.S. Forester's novel Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Here we meet Horatio Hornblower, a young man of 17, in this Volume #1 of what becomes the 11 volume set about the career of this British Naval officer fighting against Napoleon and his tyranny of Europe as an inexperienced midshipman in January 1794. Bullied and forced into a duel, he takes an even chance. And then he has many more chances to show his skills and ingenuities - from sailing a ship full of wetted and swelling rice to imprisonment and saving the lives of shipwrecked sailors. And along the way, he fights galleys, feeds cattle, stays out of the way of the guillotine, and makes friends with a Duchess. Here Hornblower becomes a man and develops the strength of character which will make him a hero to his men, and to all England.
I watched the Horatio Hornblower TV series several years ago and really enjoyed it and finally now I'm getting around to reading the books. So far I've just read this first one but I hope to read the rest eventually.
While reading it I really related to Hornblower. His first experiences running a ship and then feeling like he failed felt like my first experiences as a nurse. Eventually we both gained confidence and skills necessary to survive our unfamiliar environments and they became familiar to us.
I was surprised at how fast paced the book was. Many "classic adventure novels" I've read haven't been as fast paced as I wanted them to be but this one pleasantly surprised me. The nautical terms didn't bog me down, though, through my previous reading, I have become familiar with some of them. There was also a historical aspect, which I always enjoy.
Overall I enjoyed it and I will probably hand it to my brothers in the future.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Infinity Dreams Tag

Erudessa at The Flowering Vales tagged me in the Infinity Dreams Tag. Thank you Erudessa! If you don't read her blog remedy that now! Like me, she is a Tolkien lover. :)


1. Thank the blogger who tagged you.
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Tag 11 bloggers and give them 11 new questions to answer.

Random Facts
1. I have about twenty boxes of tea and I'm always randomly buying more but actually rarely drink it, not because I don't love it but I just get too lazy to take the time to brew a cup of tea.
2. The scrubs I wear for work are green.... not by my choice obviously. It's the standard color for everyone's scrubs. :(
3. I have an obsession with buying pretty notebooks that I always start to fill (aka I write on two pages) but never finish.
4. I love buying bows to put in my hair. Hair bows are not just for little girls!
5. I dream of naming my children after Tolkien characters. Actually, not just Tolkien characters but other random names from Tolkien. For example my new favorites are Shire Elizabeth and DĂșnedain James. Pray my future husband has more discretion with naming children than I do. ;)
6. If I have music to listen to I can be motivated to do just about anything... even clean my room.
7. I've found that randomly quoting movies and books is always appropriate. Especially if no one knows what you're talking about.
8. The other day I bought a lot of yarn from a store that was closing so all of the year was on clearance. I didn't need the yarn but that didn't stop me from buying it. It was on sale guys!
9. I talk to myself a lot. Don't judge! Sometimes it's the only intelligent conversation I have all day! ;)
10. I have a dark sense of humor.... it comes with the nursing profession.
11. I am horribly allergic to poison ivy. :(

1. What is your earliest memory of reading, or being read to? I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't read. My first real memory of reading only because it was such a big endeavor was reading LOTR at about six years old.
2. Why did you choose to start a blog? I wanted to be a writer.
3. Since this is the Infinity Dreams Tag, what is your biggest dream, no matter how out there it may seem? To be a wife and mother.
4. Favorite subject in school? (If you in school still. If not, what WAS your favorite subject?) Literature.... which eventually stopped counting as a school subject as that was all I did. ;) History after that though.
5. Where would you live in the world, if you could live anywhere? When it comes down to it probably America but I wouldn't mind living in England, Scotland or Ireland for at least a little while.
6. How would you describe your personal style? Classic.
7. Who has inspired you? It can be anyone, past, present, fictional, or no. Lady Jane Grey
8. Do you prefer open plains, and sparkling beaches, or rugged mountains and wild forests? Rugged mountains and wild forests! Country girl here. :)
9. If you could meet one celebrity, who would you choose? I'm not a fan of really any celebrity.
10. Favorite Disney princess? (Or Disney character if you don't prefer princesses.) Belle!
11. Favorite quote? Last time I was asked for a favorite quote on the blog I used a Jane Austen quote. This time I'll use a Tolkien one from Fellowship of the Ring.
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
Thank you Erudessa! That was fun! :)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review- The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian FaithFor the non-fiction reading challenge and the Mount TBR pile reading challenge I'll be reviewing Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down—the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a “train wreck” at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.
I've been meaning to read this book for a couple years now and thankfully I've finally gotten around to it. I've got to say first off this is one of the best books I have ever read. It surprised me by not being just about homosexuality but also about marriage, adoption and what it is like to be a Christian. It's one of those books I think every Christian should read but definitely one that I wouldn't just hand to my teenager.  It's mature but not unnecessarily so. It's very real. After reading it you feel like you know Rosaria. She lays out her life, the ups and downs the struggles she went through. Struggles I think anyone can relate to. That's what makes this book so amazing. You may not be a recovering lesbian but you can relate to the struggles Rosaria goes through and learn. Sin is sin.

There's so much to say about this book but really the bottom line is to read it. I'll just close with a few of my favorite quotes.
"I think that too many young Christians fornicators plan that marriage will redeem their sin. Too many young Christians masturbators will redeem their patterns. Too many young Christian internet pornographers think that having legitimate sex will take away the desire to have illicit sex. They're wrong. And the marriages that result from this line of thinking are dangerous places. I know, I told my audience why over 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce; because Christians act as though marriage redeems sin. Marriage does not redeem sin. Only Jesus himself can do that." 
"How do we put Christ at the center? By intentionally holding all things captive to Christ, each moment of each day. By never daring to do anteing without fervent prayer, seeking the Lord's wisdom, counsel, blessing and life-sustaining breath. I learned during those years that the idea that one is ever too busy to pray is delusion of the most dangerous variety." 
"Rahab the Harlot, Mary Magdalene. We love those women between the pages of our Bible, but we don't want to sit at the Lord's Table with them-with people like me-drinking from the a common cup. That's the real ringer: the common cup- that is, our common origin in depravity. We are only righteous in Christ and in Him alone. But that's a hard pill to swallow, especially if you give yourself kudos for good choices." 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that Will Make You Laugh

The theme for this week's Top Ten Tuesday is ten books that will make you laugh. I love to laugh so this should be a piece of cake. ;)
These are in no particular order.
  1. The Martian by Andy Weir
  2. Leave it to Psmith or The Golf Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse- Really any book by Wodehouse is guaranteed laughs. 
  3. Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen- Most all of Austen's novels will make me laugh at some point but especially those two. 
  4. The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
  5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  6. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson 
  7. The Best Things in Life: A Contemporary Socrates Looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth and the Good Life by Peter Kreeft
  8. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain 
  9. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll 
  10. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde 
  11. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  12. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson 
I did some serious cutting down of this list to try and make it ten (it used to be about twenty) but I simply couldn't cut it down anymore. These are the books that just about guarantee me a laugh every time I read them. 

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Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Monday! Relaxing

This week was a little bit of a step back to relax. Work wasn't too crazy, I have my taxes done (so I can stop worrying about those) and I've been able to relax and read. Now my main focus is how many books I can buy with my tax return. ;)

Finished this Past Week

  • Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin- I'm finally done! This one is so good and it's a definite must read for any Christian. 
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking- Some things I already knew but still it was a fascinating book about introverts and beneficial to read. 
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read) (audiobook)- Amazing as always. :) 

Currently Reading

  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester 
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (audiobook)
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens 

Coming Soon

  • Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot
  • Total Truth by Nancy Pierce 
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read) (audiobook)

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review- Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Series

For the Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge I re-rad Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.
It's very hard to review a series I've read and re-read so many times but here are a few thoughts on my love for this adorable series.

Little House in the Big Woods

The nostalgia that came with re-reading this was incredible! I love their little house, Charlotte, pa's stories, butchering the pig, making syrup, pa's fiddle playing, just everything! It's such a cozy book that makes me feel good inside. My favorite scene, for reasons I just don't know why, is Mary and Laura sitting in the attic surrounded by the vegetables, sitting on pumpkin, playing with their dolls.

Little House on the Prairie

This one takes place in Kansas so bonus there. ;) It's cool to see pa building the house. How him and ma work together is so beautiful. I love their marriage. They're different but they learn to work together and compromise. It makes me so sad that they have to leave the house because they were just slightly off with the boundaries.

Farmer Boy 

This was never one of my favorites and I actually almost considered skipping it with this re-read. However, I didn't and I'm glad of that. It was really enjoyable and it reminded me a lot of Ralph Moody's Little Britches series that I re-read last year except those are grittier and more realistic. I feel like the Wilders have it pretty well but they do work hard for it. It's amazing how diligently the whole family works. There's no excuse making. They work because they know they have to. And the food in this one! Yum! Don't read it when you're already hungry. Just saying.

On the Banks of Plum Creek

This always made me want to live in a dugout... that and there was a dugout down the road from our house. It sounds so cool! This is maybe my least favorite of the series but I still like it a lot. It's just rather depressing how hard they work and still fail. I'm surprised they stayed there so long. This one also spans a lot of years, which I never quite realized before.

By the Shores of Silver Lake

I feel in this one that Laura is really starting to grow up. They finally settle down for good. I love the people that they are surrounded by. The Boasts are the best! Also we get our first mention of Almanzo! 

The Long Winter

In this one I feel like we get to know Carrie a lot more. You really see Laura and Carrie's friendship blossom. It makes me think of my little sister and I. I told her that and she said she didn't mind as she liked Carrie. So I get to be Laura. ;) Anyways.... focus! You really get to see Almanzo shine in this one and start to fall in love with him already. Cap is awesome too though and their willingness to go out and get the wheat is just so perfect! Real men get wheat! That should be a T-shirt! ;)

Little Town on the Prairie

So yeah... Almanzo and Laura start courting in this one. :) Not that Laura really realizes it! Get with it Laura! ;) You see a lot of how hard Laura is working in her school too and her dedication to her studies and to her sister Mary. It's really inspiring how hard she works because she wants to teach so she can earn money to send her sister to school. I also love all of the things the town gets together. It's so much fun and the relationships built there are great. I feel like you get to know the people in DeSmet better than any most of the other people Laura writes about. Maybe because she was older than and she remembered them better and she lived with them longer as well. I've always loved Mary Powers, Ida and all of the others. Nellie aggravates me and sorry Eliza Jane, you were okay as a kid but you're really annoying as an adult! 

These Happy Golden Years

This is my favorite of the series and always has been. Almanzo and Laura are so stinking cute! I forgot how resistant Laura was to the whole idea of courting Almanzo at first. Thank goodness she comes around! When I read it this time though I realized how much the horses were a factor in their relationship. ;) Reading it, I feel like Laura just kind of drifted into falling in love with him. She was in the middle of it before she knew she had began. And Almanzo! He's adorable how persistent he is and how sweet and kind he is. Even when Laura tells him he's not interested he still drives to get her every week! Ah! I just love those two and I love this book! :)

Overall I just couldn't recommend this series more. It's beautifully cozy and lovely. They're perfect to read aloud as well. They're the kind of books that will endure for many more years to come. 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top Ten Books Every Christian Should Read

The theme for this week's Top Ten Tuesday is Top Ten Books Every X Should Read. I decided to replace that X with Christian.

So these are my top ten books every Christian should read. These are in no particular order and taking the Bible for granted here goes.

  1. The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin- No I haven't quite finished it yet but I will stand by it and say it is one of the most comprehensive and well written books about Christianity available. The actual original version is two huge volumes each the size of LOTR so I would recommend reading an abridged version. I started reading the huge volumes and changed my mind eventually and switched to an abridged version, which was a good decision in my mind though I don't normally recommend abridged books. 
  2. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer- I read this three or so years ago. It is a really excellent book and I loved how straightforward Tozer was in it. He says it like it is, pushing you on in the pursuit of God. Beautifully written. 
  3. Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul- A book that made a huge impact in my life at the time. R.C. Sproul is excellent about explaining complicated theology succinctly and this book was no exception. 
  4. The Valley of Vision by various Puritans- I read this last year and it is the most beautiful book of prayers. Each one challenged me in my faith and pushed me to ponder God's Word and to worship Him. This is an absolute must read! 
  5. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield- I just finished it last week but I know that I will re-read it over and over again in the future. It's about homosexuality, yes, but it's also about so much more: marriage, adoption, and what it means to be a Christian. This was a book that really challenged me to think about my faith, what it means to me and how I can grow in it. 
  6. The Westminster Confession of Faith- Sort of like Calvin's Institutes in how comprehensive it is and actually I think maybe more comprehensive. I think I preferred the Institutes though. 
  7. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges- A book about trusting God simply put. One of the best theological books I've read and very meaningful to me as trusting God is definitely something that I've had to struggle with when I my uncle passed away to cancer, or when my Grandma had her stroke or when both of my Grandpas passed away. Trusting God is crucial to a Christina's walk. If you can't trust God... who can you trust? 
  8. Christian Love by Hugh Binning- A little book recommend to me by my brother that overturned what I thought about love and how I should be carrying it out. It may have been written by a Puritan hundreds of years ago but it is absolutely relevant in this present day. 
  9. What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung- I read this one this year as well and loved it. It's concise and full of Biblical wisdom. In this present day I think it is so important that Christians can answer this question and this book does a great job. 
  10. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis- When I read this several years ago it scared me. The realness scared me. At that point in my life Satan started to scare me and I realized the realness of sin and the constant temptation we are under and that every day, every moment Satan is trying to pry us away from God. This book made me want to cling closer to God but it also made me more aware of the temptations that I face every day. 
There are so many theology books I want to read in the future... My list just for the ones I want to get to this year is already long. I'm sure this list will change in the future as I read more books but for now these are the top ten books I think are must reads for Christians. 

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