Solitude My 2013 running experiences offered many lessons, and the curriculum was tough.  I endured five weeks of “How to Cope with a Minor Foot Injury”, three months of marathon training entitled “Because You’re Older, You Need More Time to Recover and Should Probably Run Fewer Miles”, and twelve months of “If You’re Going to Get up Early to Run, You Should Go to Bed Earlier”.  While my ability to apply what I learned is a work in progress, I’m thankful for the lessons.

That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; that prudence may be given to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth – the wise man also may hear and increase in learning, and the man of understanding acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.  Proverbs 1:2-6

Learning is something we should never stop doing, no matter how old we are.  Some lessons, such as those we receive from our life experiences, are required courses; although we may choose to ignore their teachings, we cannot choose to drop the class.

Other lessons we may choose, and reading is one of the best elective courses.  Books can challenge us, make us think, and expand our hearts and minds.  However, while I’m usually in the midst of a book, I don’t devote the time to reading I should.

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” — Confucius

The scripture above – and Confucius – make me want to read more in 2014.  My nose always needs more time in my Bible, but I also need to get through the stack of books on my bedside table.

While the list of books I read in 2013 is shorter than I would like, I made my way through a few and share the list below.  They were all recommended or given to me by friends, which is one of the best ways to find a good book.  This year, seize some books, time, and silence … and keep your nose in your Bible!

Whether this is your first visit to my blog or one of many, I thank you for reading my posts.  I cherish the kind and encouraging comments, e-mails, and texts I’ve received from so many of you over the past year and a half of weekly posts.  I plan to step away from posting for a bit, but please keep your eyes open for my periodic column in the Saturday Faith section of The Kansas City Star.

God bless your upcoming year!

Nikki 

Books I read in 2013 … happy reading!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – Ann’s amazing personal story illustrates how looking at our life through lenses of gratitude will strengthen our faith and bring God’s peace.  Her book inspired me to start a journal listing things I’m thankful for … everything from a front row parking space in a crowded lot to clean water to my children’s laughter, and on and on.

Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin – I read this the first time in 2010, and it’s worth reading many times.  Immaculée shares the story of how she survived the Rwanda genocide in 1994 as she and seven other women huddled silently together in a cramped bathroom for 91 days!  Immaculée embraced the power of prayer with God and illustrated forgiveness and unconditional love and understanding in a very dark and challenging time.

Work in Progress – An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace by Kristin Armstrong – The title is my middle name, so enough said.  I identify with Kristin as a mother, runner, and Christian, and I enjoy all her books.

Here and Now … There and Then Listening Guide:  A Lecture Series on Revelation by Beth Moore – I thank God frequently for Beth Moore and her willingness to share her faith and knowledge through her Bible studies.  I study the Bible weekly with a group of wonderful girls, and we did this study in the spring of 2013.  DVDs accompany the workbook.  Before the study, I considered Revelation to be a scary and surreal book of the Bible; I am now grateful for its message of how God’s plan is complete and perfect … from the Alpha to the Omega.

Under the Overpass –  A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski – The author tells his story of what it’s like to be homeless by choice for more than five months on the streets of six large American cities.  This is a powerful story and a window into a very difficult world.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis – A collection of Lewis’s legendary broadcast talks of the war years and an opportunity to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.

The Race Before Us – A Journey of Running and Faith by Bruce A. Matson – Bruce’s memoir illustrates the steps – physical and mental – he took to get from one side of a crisis of health and faith to the other.  He provides encouragement for both novice and experienced runners and attacks deep questions of faith.  I identify with Bruce as a runner, lawyer, and Christian.

The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything – A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ – Fr. Martin shares his journey as a Jesuit priest, provides insight into Jesuit teachings, and reveals how we can find God in our everyday lives.

The Prayer That Changes Everything – The Hidden Power of Praising God by Stormie Omartian – Stormie gives many reasons to praise God in our everyday lives and illustrates how praising Him is the prayer that changes everything.  I’m in the midst of this book now with my Bible study girls.

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