Beach Retreat 2012 Reading Synopsis

My reading jaunt at Beach Retreat 2012 is coming to a close. [sigh.] It’s been thoroughly enjoyable and greatly filling!

New friends found at Beach Retreat 2012.

At the end of a Beach Retreat, I like to reflect a bit on the books I’ve consumed and how each has nourished me. A theme or thread often emerges between the seemingly random books selected. It’s like they’ve become friends after a week at the beach, discovering little pieces of commonality in their personalities and characters. Here’s the treasure from this year’s stack.

I once wrote a poem with this line: “Let my life be a stage where Your glory is displayed for all to see.” I was reminded of this line while reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. He challenged me to live a life that is a story worth reading about. For me, this includes developing a better awareness of how I spend my moments, because each day has only so many. I want to spend mine wisely, on projects and writing that will make my life story something of a grand play where God’s glory is magnified.

Awareness and focus on the important things such as these are slippery. Anchors keep them moored. Ann Voskamp taught me that gratitude for all the little gifts in everyday life serves as a tether for keeping my eyes fixed on the meaningful. The act of writing down the lovely in life unwraps these important God-gifts, making them tangible. (Also, her poetic writing style fed my writer’s heart.)

Story pops up again in Brian Godwa’s Word Pictures: Knowing God through Story & Imagination. Here I learned how God is the master storyteller, using plenty of examples and parables and characters to tell of who He is. Seeing life through the story lens places the everyday in a different light, making it more of an adventure to unwrap than a day to plod through.

In the midst of stories and gifts, A. W. Tozer tells me not to be a sloth. If it’s gratitude I want, then I will have to purposely unwrap God’s gifts. If it’s a better life story, then I will have to actually live a better life story. If it’s knowing God more intimately, then I will have to actually pursue Him. Sounds practical and easy enough, but I needed to hear it.

The subtitles of these four books say much: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Knowing God through Story & Inspiration. Expect God to Interrupt Your Life. I would love for my life to be shaped by the richness from these reads!

I also read The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed (made the movie much more understandable). I walk away from that thinking of the girls I met in India. I don’t want to be the clueless Capitol, gussied up and filled with self while all around me there are people starving, brutalized, and neglected. If I’m going to just live life for my own comfort and amusement, I may as well have pink hair and crazy clothing. It’s as ridiculous as it looked in the film.

Finally, I’ve just started Robert Lane Greene’s You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity. It is a commentary on language covering everything from history to usage to common misconceptions. The message so far? What people are saying—the words and phrases they use and misuse—are windows to their very souls. Haughty judgment of how someone speaks is never appropriate, and Greene reminds me that the heart is what is being said rather than how they are saying it.

1. Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story(Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson 2009).

2. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan 2010).
3. Brian Godwa, Word Pictures: Knowing God through Story & Imagination
4. A. W. Tozer,  A Disruptive Faith: Expect God to Interrupt Your Life (Ventura, Cal.: Regal 2011).
5. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (New York, NY: Scholastic 2008).
6. Robert Lane Greene, You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity (New York, NY: Delacorte Press 2011).

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