Barbara's Random Thoughts

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Search of Guidance, Dallas Willard

This book has been republished under the title Hearing God (as per the cover image to the left), but I read an earlier edition, as per the title above. You're just gonna have to live with the discrepancy.

This book has long been on my to-read list. I actually procured this particular copy while I was working at GHBC--it was on Bob's reading list for one of his D.Min. classes. I got the book for him, transcribed his dictated notes on it, and edited his subsequent paper. Then I inherited the book when he was clearing out his bookshelves. And now I've finally read it myself.

This was a perhaps too-timely read for me. I started reading it in November, and finished in January--reading it throughout my most confused months of discernment/decision making after returning from South Africa. It did seem a little too obvious to read a book titled "In Search of Guidance" during this time.

I knew from the outset that reading this book wasn't going to answer all my questions or give me some sort of formula that if followed would yield instructions on exactly what steps to take next. But I think I like to look for formulas and instructions regardless. This book (thankfully) isn't that.

When making big life decisions, I consistently go to God asking for directional answers, specific instructions as to what to do. Reading this book was another very needed reminder that God doesn’t generally work that way. No “Hey, Barbara, go back to South Africa” messages came during this time in my life or through my reading of this book. But what I needed far more than specific instructions (though I often frustratedly think specifics would be preferable) was summed up by the book’s subtitle: “Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.”

Ultimately, the message Willard conveys is that guidance comes through relationship. We must place ourselves into a conversational relationship with God and guidance will flow from that. You can’t skip the relationship and expect to hear God’s voice. During these months, I commented more than once that I kept going to God with directional questions, and he kept responding with heart answers: calling me to deeper relationship, to trust, and to stepping out in faith. I’d ask: “Where do I go?” and He would answer: “Be with me.” As frustrating as that can be, that’s exactly what I need. Not just when I’m making huge life decisions, but always.

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| posted by Barbara | 5:10 PM |

I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb

I decided to tackle this almost 900-page novel on my flights to South Africa. It was really really good. I’d read Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone years ago, and thought it was absolutely amazing. A former boss of mine had read both novels and thought this one was far superior, so I had high hopes. And while I thought this one was a little more scattered, it worked for me.

At first, I didn’t find any of the characters likable, other than the narrator’s ex-wife. This didn’t seem to bode well for the novel. But I couldn’t put it down. It ended up being an awesome plane-and-just-arrived-in-South-Africa novel. It’s similar to She’s Come Undone in that things never seem like they’re gonna get better for the narrator. Which takes the reader on quite a journey, but it ends up being a very good journey, and one that I enjoyed.

Yes, that's an Oprah's Book Club logo on the front cover. Shut up.

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| posted by Barbara | 5:02 PM |

The Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene Du Bois

Kristy gave me this fun kids' book for my birthday, accompanied by an apology for giving me yet another book at a time when I was trying to streamline my library and narrow down which books to box up and which to take with me to South Africa.* I read it over a couple of sittings in an afternoon/evening and then packed it into a box not too long after. A balloon adventure gone awry on a supposedly-but-not-actually-deserted island? Great fun.

*She's forgiven, since she adopted a large portion of my library for the next couple of years, saving me from the anguish of packing them all away.

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| posted by Barbara | 4:34 PM |

Catching up

It seems to be all or nothing with me. I haven't been doing a very good job with my goal of writing something about each book I read this year. I've read 18 books so far. I've written posts for 6 of those books. Yikes. Last night, I sat down and started writing. Forthcoming are the fruits of my labors.


| posted by Barbara | 4:25 PM |

Sunday, May 04, 2008


A short tour through the books I've read/re-read/been reading/been re-reading...but haven't written about yet.

A Spirituality of the Road, David Bosch
I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
The Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene Du Bois
A Far Better Rest, Susanne Alleyn
Hearing God, Dallas Willard
The Time-Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

Currently re-reading:
Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

And....I've nearly finished What's Your God Language by Myra Perrine, and am hoping to get back into actively reading Eugene Peterson's Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Sometime. Soonish. But then there's that N.T. Wright book I should probably finish before the 19th. If I'm gonna be responsible and intelligently plan that discussion and all. Hmm.

When it comes down to it...I kinda like having the problem of too many books to read and discuss.


| posted by Barbara | 7:40 PM |