4 Must-Read Books for Young Christian Women
Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you are enjoying a relaxing afternoon with your friends and family, or just doing whatever makes you happy today.
I just got home from church and am still living in that nice little limbo of peace and reflection that always seems to come from a good sermon. We began a new teaching series called "Frontier Savvy" where we are looking back on the faith, dedication and grit that our ancestors had to take in order to form a new frontier here in America.
At the beginning of the sermon our pastor brought up the following quote and I absolutely loved it:
"True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done." -- John Wayne
This had me thinking the rest of the time--is there something I am leaving undone?
For a while now I know God has been pressing upon my heart to get more involved with my Christian community. Of course, as a mom to a toddler, it can be very difficult to find time to physically volunteer anywhere. So I have resorted to the typical means: baking cookies for holiday events, bringing meals to people who need them and simply praying for those that ask for it. Still, I yearn for community. A connection with other like minded women who know exactly what it is like to be where I am now.
When I was in college, I had the fortunate opportunity to join a young women's Bible study. I met some of the most amazing women in that group and am happy to have stayed friends with most of them in one form or another. After each study I left with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, completely renewed for the upcoming week.
Fortunately, I have been invited by a very dear friend to start up a new group, which we will be starting next Monday. This will be very interesting because thousands of miles separate many of us and we will be telecommuting for each study. Thank goodness for our new forms of communication, right?!
We will be reading Cultivate by Lara Casey and I will be sure to update this as the study comes to an end. But for now, I figured I would share some of my favorite easy Bible study reads and what I have gotten from each of them. While some are tailored more for women, I am including a few that are also fantastic for men and married couples.
I hope you enjoy!
Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them
By Liz Curtis Higgs
This was one of the first women's Bible study books I had the pleasure of reading and I simply do not have anything but praise for it. Chapters are about 30 pages long, but they are fairly fast reads. If you are anything like me and get sucked into books easily, you may have a hard time reading one chapter at a time.
Let's face it--the Bible is very limited when it talks about women. In fact, many women were not even mentioned by name (hint, hint--Lot's Wife). Yet, we know they played very important roles all the way from Eve to Mary Magdalene and beyond. This particular study follows ten amazing sisters whose "bad girl" status did not stop them from bringing glory to the kingdom of God. In fact, it is a reassuring reminder that only God can turn our bad situations and decisions into purposeful intention.
More so, I loved the idea of focusing on the bad girls, because, even the most pure of us ladies are still sinners. And it is only when we get to know these women for their temptation, greed, and sin, that we can really relate to them outside of perfection.
As Ms. Higgs herself says, "Bad girls can have a gloriously good future."
Stress Point: Thriving Through Your 20s in a Decade of Drama
By Sarah Francis Martin
Though this book was a bit hit or miss with the ladies in my most recent Bible study, I would like it included in the list because it does hit home hard for a lot of young women.
Because I was married fairly young, by my mid-twenties I was already pretty established in life and my career, so this book was definitely not targeted toward me. However, for any of those 20-something ladies that are dealing with dating, money, body image issues and friendships--please read this study!
The chapters are short and there is plenty of room for reflection and note-taking at the end of each. The author also brings in true stories from actual women that helps tie the lesson back around to the person. For some reason being able to hear from another woman going through the same ordeal just brings me a little closer to her, even though we have never met.
The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition
By Gary Chapman
Let me start out by saying I was not single when I read this book--yet it is by far one of the most influential books over my relationship. Because I was in a Bible study with mostly single ladies (married young, remember), this was the edition we read. But I can honestly tell you that it did not matter. This information can be applied to virtually every relationship. In fact, Gary Chapman has written it for many relationships, whether they be interpersonal, familiar or romantic.
All in all, the basic premise of this book is that all people operate and interact daily based on their own form of love. AKA, their Love Language, of which there are five: Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Acts of Service | Quality Time | Physical Touch
Though we may fall into multiple categories, most people have a primary Love Language that speaks most fluidly for them. For example, I am definitely a Words of Affirmation gal, whereas my husband is Physical Touch. It wasn't until we understood this about each other that we were able to show the other love more effectively. Now, a bouquet of flowers is never a bad thing, but my husband knows I feel most loved when he verbally affirms something that he loves about me. What can I say, I am a glutton for words.
Each chapter the author talks about specific clients he has had employ these languages into their lives and how it changed them for the better. You are also equipped with a survey to find out just what your own love language is.
Also, if you are in the midst of navigating the dating waters, I certainly would steer you towards this book. At the very least, I hope it would provide you with a knowledge that many people have to work years through each relationship in order to understand.
The Love Dare
By The Kendrick Brothers
This one is for all you married couples out there. I saved this book for last, not only because it is my favorite, but because it has been the hardest for me to read. In fact, I am currently only halfway through the book. I have had it for 6 months and it is intended to take 40 days.
I wish I could say it is hard because I just don't have the time to read, but that would be a complete and utter lie. It is hard because it will force you to think about your relationship in a completely different way. You will be forced to take a look at your partner's flaws and an even deeper look at your own. You will have to consciously make the effort to put them before yourself and forgive deep hurts that you didn't even know were there. I know--it sounds awful. But from the pain comes a great deal of beauty.
This book is designed to run for 40 days and each day the authors present you with a new dare you must do for your relationship. You will be dared to be thoughtful, intimate, compassionate, motivated, forgiving and more. These are so easy on the good days, but can be almost impossible on the rough days. Do them anyway.
I stopped on a day I had a particularly rough time with, but I plan to move forward because I have seen the difference these dares can make for a married couple. I know this can breathe new life into a relationship and even repair a broken one, but it takes a tremendous amount of work.
If you have any recommendations for other Bible study type books that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments section below! I am always looking for another work to lead me a few steps closer to God.