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The ECC Blog

A Book Report, or Things I Read in 2021

Reading book

When I stopped to think about it, I realized I did a bunch of reading this year – and read more widely than in previous years. Maybe there are some good things that come out of being home more….. First up, biographies, one of my favorite genres.

BecBecoming Elisabeth Elliotoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn. What a great book about a woman I already admired! Ellen Vaughn brought her to real life, weaknesses and all. I am grateful for this, as it brings out how powerfully God worked in Elisabeth’s life to accomplish all that she did. There was plenty I didn’t know about Elisabeth Eliot, apart from a few of her books that I have read over the years. I am still awed by the strength (from God) that enabled her to spend years ministering to the very people who had killed her husband and other young missionaries. Her books, blogs and talks were truly formative for me as a young Christian woman.

Give Me This Mountain/He Gave Us a Valley by Helen Roseveare. As I prepared to teach a Sunday School on Helen Roseveare this last fall, I went back and read these two autobiographies. I also found a book from Urbana 81 that had the talk she gave there – where I had heard her for the first time! In many ways, reading about Helen was similar to reading about Elisabeth Elliot – both women had characters that sometimes got in the way of their obedience to God and submission to others. Seeing how God used even those hard things in their personalities and grew them into women who served Him so faithfully and sacrificially truly inspires me.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War StoryA Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. This story of a Warsaw Zoo during WWII fascinated, horrified and surprised me in so many ways! I learned a lot about how Poland was ravaged during WWII and how the people of Poland banded together to care for one another and resist the Nazis. I thoroughly enjoyed the early part of the book where the author talks about the animals in their zoo and their care, and the reason for even having the zoo.

One Girl and Her Dogs by Emma Gray. Now you are going to learn more about me than One Girl and Her Dogs: Life, Love and Lambing in the Middle of Nowhereyou might want to know. I’m hooked on a show on BritBox called This Farming Life, a show that, each season, follows 6 British farmers through the year. One of the farmers is Emma Gray, a sheepdog trainer who bought her first farm at the age of 23, and made a life for herself in conditions that were really tough. Her perseverance in all kinds of weather, all kinds of financial disasters and all kinds of just plain hard work makes me realize that the human spirit really is incredible. I must admit that my favorite part of each season is lambing time – you have never seen so many cute baby animals! God is good toCode Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II let us peek into worlds we would never otherwise have seen!

Code Girls by Liza Mundy This is a fascinating look into the beginnings of cryptanalysis and cryptrography (look them up). Specifically, it highlights the role women played in these fields during the 1930s and 40s.  It is a look into the culture of that time in America and the work behind the scenes that helped to win wars.


Christian books

The Secular Creed and 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity both by Rebecca McLaughlin. These two books deal with current cultural questions and ways for us to think Biblically about our responses. The Secular Creed The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claimstakes some of the statements from those signs in peoples’ front yards (Black Lives Matter; Women’s rights are human rights; etc.) and presents a well-considered Biblical response. I think this is critical reading for all of us. I know it has helped me not to over-react but to think more carefully about what I believe impacts these issues, and to present a more loving response that treats those who disagree with me with respect. 10 Questions is a version of the same idea written for teens.

Ten Words to live by by Jen Wilkin. Jen is an engaging writer and her commentary onTen Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands the 10 commandments is refreshing but also convicting. I am grateful that Jen showed me how the 10 commandment must still shape the way I live.

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop. This little book is teaching me how to Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament by [Mark Vroegop, Joni Eareckson Tada]lament. Mark shows us how the Bible’s response to sorrow and suffering is to lament. He gives plenty of Biblical evidence for this, but even better, he teaches us how to lament. I highly recommend this book to everyone – I read it long before I had anything to grieve about and was grateful that I had when my Mom died so unexpectedly. I had a way to go to God with my grief, even when words failed me. Read this book before you need it if possible, but it will be helpful anytime.

Through His Eyes  God's perspective on women in the Bible by Jerram Barrs I becameThrough His Eyes: God's Perspective on Women in the Bible familiar with this author through the ministry of L'Abri back in the, uh, 70s. I am not through with this book yet but am really impressed by his approach to showing us how God uses women throughout the Scriptures to play significant roles in the history of salvation. Not a new idea, but a fresh take that I am finding stimulating.


Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics)Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis  I cannot recommend this book highly enough. We read it for the last Women's Book Club and it is still really making me think. It's not the easiest reading you will do this year but it might well be the most valuable (apart from your Bible....).

And a plug for the next Women's Book Club book - another C.S. Lewis classic, The Great Divorce.  We will be discussing it on March 19 so get your copy now and get started!

Devotional helps
I have used a number of books in my quiet times over this past year. I know many of us make resolutions about having a more regular devotional time at the start of a new year, so maybe some of these might help.

Nailed It: 365 Readings for Angry or Worn-Out PeopleNailed it! (365 readings for angry or worn-out people) by Anne Kennedy. This is an usual devotional with daily readings that tie to reading through the Bible. I liked her kind of back-handed comments, as they caught me off-guard and made me really think about the passage.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & DevotionsValley of Vision Puritan Prayers I use this book off and on all the time. I love the Puritan language for expressing ideas about God that are beyond my limited vocabulary. These prayers take me to the depth of my sin but then lift me to the height of God’s mercy and love.

Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson. I have just started using thisBe Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship devotional as I read through the Bible this year. It is really a book of liturgies, for use by an individual or a family or other group. Each day the book leads me through a call to worship, adoration, reading of the law, confession, assurance of pardon, a portion of one of the creeds, etc. It’s like a little church service in my quiet time. I love the structure that keeps me focused on the things of God rather than the things on my calendar for that day.

That’s enough for one blog. If you stuck with it to this point, Congratulations! And happy reading in 2022!