Current pile of books…

I have a lot of good books going right now. Besides trying to read a little bit of everything, I’ve also been napping more lately. Lots of good things keeping me from blogging, as you can see. But here’s a list of the books in no particular order (click any of the titles to buy them!). What have you read or would like to read on this list? Stay tuned for reviews of these and more!

1. A Little Way of Homeschooling 

edited by Suzie Andres

I started this one months ago. It’s taken me awhile, but not because it lacks appeal–I just keep starting new books! Still, this one is easy to pick back up. Each chapter is by a different Catholic homeschool/unschool mom. Because of this book, I discovered the Catholic Unschoolers group on facebook and the blog of a mom in my own home state, Karen Edmisten. Besides seeing how homeschooling/unschooling is as unique as each family, Suzie Andres does a great job of summing up how she sees unschooling as an application of St. Therese’s Little Way.

The pile currently being read (minus Deathbed Conversions which was out in the living room).

The pile currently being read (minus Deathbed Conversions which was out in the living room).

2. Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line

by Karen Edmisten

I was fortunate enough to win a drawing for a copy of this new book from the author’s blog. Since I’m looking forward to doing a review of this as well in the not too distant future, suffice it to say for now that the best part about it is that  as it sits next to my couch in the living room everyone from the babysitter to my parents and from The Hunter’s hunting buddies to my little siblings pick it up and take a look. Everyone is intrigued by it!

And, here’s my first reaction when I began the book:

Just read ch. 1–and I cried and felt inspired to be that beacon of light, even when I don’t see any effect in my friends’ lives.

So, I highly recommend this short book for your inspiration and coffee table conversation starter!

3. Red Storm Rising

by Tom Clancy

Just in case you thought I only read spiritual books (which are wonderful, of course), here’s one that The Hunter recommended. He’s more of a doer than a reader (unless it pertains to what he’s doing…), but he has lots of Tom Clancy books and has finally convinced me to pick one up and read it. I’m not very far yet, but the writing style is enjoyable, and I know I’ll learn a lot!

4. How Weaning Happens

by Diane Bengson

This is a book published by La Leche League. I love their books–they touch on so much more than just breastfeeding, it really encompasses the whole mother-child relationship. And I have a toddler, so I’m just curious when/how weaning will eventually happen!

5. When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings

by Thomas Green

You’ve probably seen my excited posts about Fr. Green’s first book about prayer, Opening to God. I mentioned that one here and here. Now, I’m excited to get started on the next book and learn more about living and growing in this relationship with God.

6. Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising almost Perfect Kids

by Gregory and Lisa Popcak

I actually read this book when Pumpkin was about seven months old. As she discovers her own will and “experiments” more with spilling things and breaking things and whatever else comes into her little head, I’m picking it back up for some of the great tips and suggestions about understanding and disciplining gently. I love the philosophy behind this book which is to tie in the Theology of the Body with parenting. Our goal? Self-donative parenting.

7. Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose

by Matthew Kelly

I started this book quite awhile ago, but it’s easy reading and really inspiring. I feel like it gives me good information to present to others if they have questions about the Catholic Church in today’s day and age.

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Opening to God: A lesson in prayer

It’s hard to write a review about this book. Opening to God: A Guide to Prayer is a short book of only 126 pages, so I practically want to quote every bit of it! Here are just a few things I loved and learned from it. I highly recommend it for anyone–it is written by a spiritual director of many years and many souls (both laity and religious in the U.S. and Philippines and beyond). I already mentioned Opening to God in this post about prayer, but I wanted to share a little more about it (especially as I’ve just reread it).

Opening to God is really a timeless guide to prayer and speaks to every pray-er desiring to encounter God.

Opening to God is a timeless guide to prayer and speaks to every pray-er desiring to encounter God.

1. Fr. Green defines prayer as “an opening of the heart and mind to God.” Each word of this phrase has a special meaning–and most importantly, he wants us to realize and remember that we cannot pray without God first coming to us. He says it better than me, but basically, we don’t pray under our own power, the first thing to realize in prayer is that we open to God, and He comes to us and touches us in an encounter.

2. This book was written not long after Vatican II, and Fr. Green has an interesting perspective, able to see the good in prayer practices both pre- and post-Vatican II. Just as with anything in the Catholic Church, there is always a balance between extremes, and Fr. Green helps us to see that in regards to ways of prayer.

3. Prayer is “irrelevant”–one chapter is about the irrelevance of prayer, while the following chapter is about it’s extreme relevance. Fr. Green enjoys the paradox in this, but he is right. Prayer is not “relevant,” in the way we look for relevance in our modern world. Is it useful? Does it help us get ahead? Do we get what  we want out of it? Well, no. Not as the world sees it. His image in this chapter is of a married couple, if you asked your spouse “how is our love relevant?” It would be a puzzling question–love, relevant? No! It is love because you love one another. So it is with prayer. We’re not praying to get something out of it, we’re praying because our relationship with God is one of love. And that is why prayer is relevant–our relationship with God becomes the foundation of all our life.

4. From praying the rosary, the office, to reading the Scriptures, meditating, contemplating, and taking a walk–Opening to God
provides examples, practical advice, and goals to achieve. I’ll be rereading this book again to continue to learn more.

5. Finally, something that will stay with me the most (and indeed gives an image to something I’ve always striven for), is Fr. Green’s example of a radio or tv. If we want to listen to the radio, we must first make sure our surroundings are quiet, then we must turn it on, turn up the volume, and make sure we are tuned to the right station–only then do we receive the signal being sent. That’s how we pray! First, learn to quiet our hearts, open our heart and mind, clear the distractions, and to tune to hear God’s still, quiet voice–we can only make the environment conducive to prayer, He is the one who makes prayer happen, just as the radio station is broadcasting, we don’t make the sounds happen!

6. Our goal in prayer? Learn to open to God.

This brings me back to the Bible verse I discovered when I was around 11 or 12:

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.

-James 4:8

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