I’m fortunate to love reading and to interact with a lot of authors. Of the many books I’ve read during the past year, here’s a short list of those that I found to be particularly meaningful, inspiring, challenging or otherwise significant.
- Dancing With Max, by Chuck and Emily Colson. As the parent of a special needs child – particularly a boy with autism – I was moved to tears and greatly encouraged by this account of a very special young man named Max.
- Radical, David Platt. A long, slow and reflective read of this book will challenge you to reconsider your faith and how you live your life.
- Choosing To See, Mary Beth Chapman. A tender story of joy, deep pain and restoration of hope.
- Stronger, by Jim Daly. If you struggle in life, don’t be surprised – God is likely going to do a significant work, if you’ll choose to see and embrace His sovereignty and grace.
- (updated) Shattered, the autobiography of pitcher/theologian/radio host Frank Pastore. Great story of redemption and transformation.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that the most influential, provoking, inspirational book I’ve read this past year is (still) The Holy Bible. I’ve spent much of the past year in the Old Testament, and continue to be amazed at the richness and depth of the prophets’ faith. What amazing men of God, and what lessons they have for me.
I hope to have more time to read in the coming year than the past twelve months have afforded me.
Our current international radio programming reflects a great conversation we enjoyed with Jerry Jenkins, author of a tremendous resource, “Hedges, Loving Your Marriage Enough To Protect It.”
There’s great wisdom in being proactive about protecting yourself and your spouse. Jerry has an entire book with suggestions on how to do that. Here are a couple of ideas I employ to make sure I stay on track:
- When on the road, I try to call home every evening. After the meetings are over and I go back to my hotel room, the loneliness sets in. That’s when I want to talk with my beloved wife and be reminded of her love and my commitment to her.
- I display family photos on my cell phone and computer screen. I like to show others pictures of my kids and wife. And it is always good to be reminded of my love for them, and my true desire to live a life of integrity for them.
Here’s a previous post about that book and concept, and the programs with Jerry Jenkins. I suggest you listen – with your spouse – and map out specific ways to keep the relationship strong and intact.
Alright, so a Top Five list isn’t as common as a Top Ten list. I know that. But hey, I’m busy, you’re busy. And I really don’t see that many films.
Of the movies I saw this past year, though, the following stood out for one or more qualities: entertainment, inspiration, thoughtfulness, artistic expression, or any combination thereof.
- Temple Grandin – this exceptional film is an insightful look at the world of autism, based on the real-life, miracle story of a PhD in Colorado. As a parent of a boy with autism, I can’t watch this without tearing up. And hoping for a miracle in our son.
- Hurt Locker – a fascinating, rather scary step into the world of the U.S. military. Riveting and at times repulsive, but with heart and a respect for those in our armed forces.I came away with a deeper appreciation for the terrors of war, the bravery of our men and women, and the impact of PTSD on soldiers and their families.
- Saving Private Ryan – I hadn’t seen this film until a few months ago. Wow! This seems to have captured the chaos and honor of WWII, at least that of this small company of dedicated soldiers.
- Australia – okay, this was a ladies flick, but I could watch and enjoy it with my wife. It has action, story, humor, great cinematography – and ties to real life. Nicely done (except for one sexual scene – which could have been deleted).
- Toy Story 3 – alright, another film I could have avoided, but am I glad we took the family to see this one! What a great film, perfectly executed.
There were a number of other worthy contenders, but these five were the tops in 2010.
I don’t know of anyone who isn’t busy in life, especially this Christmas season. My wife and I have avoided being over-committed, and yet the schedule has been quite full these past few weeks. Still, there’s a difference between busy and hectic, between a full calendar and an overwhelmed life. We’re not stressed, but we have wished for a bit of free time to contemplate “the reason for the season.” Maybe you can relate?
Helping us refocus our attention, here’s a meaningful prayer that my wife found. It reflects our hearts for a touch from God to restore the wonder…
Dear Heavenly Lord,
The Christmas story is so full of activity, and yet, Mary quietly pondered. She was in a place of silence, not because she was untouched by all the events around her, but because she was capable of wonder. In the midst of the Christmas hustle, help our family to find that quiet place of wonder, that quiet place of prayer where we, like Mary, can learn to treasure what you treasure.
In Jesus’ Name.
Find that prayer, and another one to pray specifically on behalf of your children, right here.
May you have a blessed and merry Christmas!
We recently heard this affirming feedback to a Focus on the Family broadcast:
“Thank you for your recent broadcast in which you and your guests discussed how to thrive in a difficult marriage. I’ve been searching several years now for the wisdom and insights that were shared during this program, and I’m so grateful I finally found some answers! Learning that I need to focus on my own issues and behaviors was something I desperately needed to hear. This revelation has given me a great deal of hope and strength for the journey that lies ahead.”
We’re encouraged that God is using our radio programming, and for this great comment.
Thanks for listening – and for praying with us that lives will be touched by God through our efforts!
In the “deep thoughts” category, something my youngest said in reaction to a couple of bedtime stories. It was from a beautifully written and illustrated book, Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories. Zane asked me to read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Why he is fascinated with Christ’s death, I do not know.
After that account, we moved onto a little book (whose title escapes me at the present) about the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion (see Acts 8:27). When that story was finished, there was a moment of silence, and then Zane informed me that he can’t believe.
“My bones won’t let me believe. I think I have sinful heart, and so I just can’t believe.”
Well, there’s a pretty big admission for such a little boy. He’s only seven, after all! It led to some rather serious – and age appropriate – talk about the human condition, our need for a Savior, and my prayer that he will one day soon be able to believe.
I surely do love that boy. And I’m praying for him a lot these days. God’s doing something in his heart and life!
It’s only Monday, but this morning as I drove carpool my daughters were discussing the upcoming weekend. When reminded of a party for our Sunday school class, the oldest girl expressed surprise that “Christmas parties are already starting.” We reminded her that it IS December, and that Christmas will be here quite soon.
In fact, this past weekend our family just celebrated our 19th annual “Christmas Tree Hunt,” driving into the mountains to search for the perfect tree. We never find it, but this year we came mighty close! After cutting and loading it, we enjoyed hot chocolate and sandwiches before coming back home. This is one of our favorite memories through the years.
Here at Focus on the Family, we’ve got some special Christmas activities and offerings for you. One item of particular note is our “12 Days of Blessing” contest. Check here for details, and be sure you nominate a needy family you know who could use some extra help this season.
And here’s a way to save some money on your Christmas shopping: free shipping from the Focus on the Family store at CBD.
This site (an outreach of Focus on the Family) has suggestions you might appreciate about “shopping with purpose.”
If you’ve appreciated the outreach of Focus on the Family, I’d like you to know that there’s a special “matching gift” opportunity, for only a short time, that effectively doubles any contribution you make to Focus. It’s an extraordinary way to maximize your contribution. Details here.
Finally, here’s a series of short articles to help you keep your family’s holiday emphasis where it belongs.
“I don’t know how to love people.”
That’s pretty much how the conversation started the other night. The comment was from my 7 year-old, who had some deep thoughts before going to sleep. I did offer some helpful thoughts, recovering from the shock at the significance of his 0bservation and comment. It was a pretty special moment between us, and we still have lots to think and talk through.
In our family we express love verbally and with deeds, too. And we try to emphasize treating others as Jesus would want us to, knowing that all individuals are made in God’s image and are deserving of respect and kindness. As I continue to ponder what Zane said, my mind rushes to and from different Bible passages, and inevitably leads me to examine my own life and ask myself how I am loving people. Am I modeling good attitudes and actions towards others? Will my boy be able to “catch” the lessons I want him to learn when it comes to relationships? Convicting, challenging stuff!
Parenting is full of memorable moments. Sunday evening, Zane gave me something I’ll not soon forget. May God continue to work in and through his life!