There were white flakes in the air when my good husband and I awoke this morning. We stood and gawked as they thickened and began accumulating on the ground and courtyard wall. An unusual occurrence in our neck of the woods. It quickly became apparent that the storm system had made itself comfortable over the Huachuca Mountains and the surrounding area. It was a good day to stay in. Inspired by memories of homemade hot cocoa and toast sticks that my mother would make on wintry days, I stirred up a steaming pan of cocoa. In case you didn't know, plain old toast with butter is magically transformed into something extraordinary when it's cut into sticks. It was so as a child and is still true today as a grandma. I quickly made a batch and settled in to read and drink hot chocolate.
I'm finishing up a new book by a good friend, Brenda Shipman entitled Embracing Hospitality: Help for the Hesitant Host. Brenda's insights, encouragement, and biblical foundation in her debut book is well worth reading. If you're avoiding extending hospitality for whatever reason, or if you're a seasoned hospitality giver, there is wisdom and practical help for all between the covers of this little book. You'll find Brenda's book on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle.
Now, I read a lot--both fiction and non-fiction. If you're looking for some possibilities for the coming year to challenge and strengthen your faith, here are four non-fiction books to consider:
1. When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." An excellent read and it's not wrong to pursue joy. Joy in God that is. He is the source of true joy.
2. Prayer - Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Practical and energetic instruction in deepening your prayer life. Life changing stuff.
3. Why Should I Believe Christianity? by James Anderson. A foundational apologetics book that is understandable and shareable with those who have serious questions about Christianity and the Bible.
4. Valley of Vision. The Valley of Vision is a classic collection of Puritan prayers and meditations. Now, before you dismiss it as stiff and irrelevant which was my preliminary opinion, it is not. While there are thee's and thou's it is full of gems that encourage and challenge, and warm the heart. It's highly recommended to add to your devotional reading.
All of the aforementioned books are available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
In the realm of fiction, historical-fiction mysteries are my current focus ... er ... addiction. Please allow me to recommend a few authors, all of whom I totally enjoy for attention to historical details, clean writing, believable characters and well-constructed plots.
1. Anne Perry - The Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series and William Monk series are set in Victorian England. I've been reading Anne Perry books since the 1980s and she's still writing. Perry weaves intricate plots and creates complex characters. Settle in for a slower read.
2. Candace Robb - The Owen Archer series set in medieval England. Full of details about medieval life with captivating characters, and clever mysteries.
3. Charles Todd - The Ian Rutledge series and Bess Crawford series set in WWI era England. These are slower-paced plots, but wonderful characters, excellent mysteries, and details about WWI and the post WWI era.
4. Ellis Peters - Brother Cadfael series set in the first half of 12th century England. This series has been around for some time, and is now available on Kindle.
5. Ashley Gardner - Captain Lacey Regency series, set in England of course. Faster-paced plots, colorful characters and excellent mysteries with a bit of romance.
The snow is still falling and it's piling up. Three and four inches at the moment. We've not had such a snowfall since we left Western New York 15 years ago. Wherever you may be, find a comfy chair, a hot beverage, and I hope a good read. Blessings in the New Year.