I finished Organized Simplicity with just a day to spare. (I'm glad it was a leap year.) This book was another extremely practical book. Tsh Oxenreider defines simple living as living holistically with your family's purpose and goals in life. In other words, everything that your family has and does should be intrinsically related to your family's life pursuits. If something doesn't fit, you should not make room for it in your home, schedule, or life. I love this definition. It made so much sense. Tsh helps you identify your family's goals and distill them into a mantra for your home. Armed with this motto, she helps you sludge through all the emotional and physical baggage that accompanies our materialistic culture. The last half of the book includes a 10 day home organization method, as well as a sizable appendix of simple cleaning recipes and resources. Tsh blogs at Simple Mom.
Kisses From Katie is the narrative of Katie Davis, a single girl who moved to Uganda alone in 2007 at age 18 to bring the tangible love of Jesus to the unloved and fatherless. Now 23 years old, Katie has adopted and become the forever family and mommy to 13 orphan girls. She also feeds, clothes, and educates hundreds of other children through her non-profit ministry, Amazima. The beginning of the story is a little slow, but the second half of the book really captured my heart. I was especially touched by Katie's very real dependence on her Heavenly Father for every day. I am in awe of her heart to love, to give, to be an overflowing of the love of Christ in Third World conditions on a daily basis simply because God's Word commands us to care for the widow and fatherless. Her relationship with Jesus was probably the single most compelling part of her story, for from this nearness springs her capacity to give when giving doesn't even seem possible, much less plausible. As a mom of 2 little girls with every available comfort at my fingertips, I am often overwhelmed, lonely, discouraged, but I have so much available to help me with the wonderful but monumental task of motherhood--Katie doesn't have any of that, but she has Jesus. This book challenged me to consider how much of the "essentials" with which I surround myself are really just material comforts. It roused me to look beyond myself, to be willing to sacrifice my comfort that someone else might be able to live. To be honest, I still can't express all that the book has awakened in my heart in terms of my responsbility before God for the truly unfortunate in this world. You can follow her current activities on her blog, Kisses from Katie.
On Sunday afternoon, I sat down to read Outrageous Grace. Three intense hours later, I finished the book. It is the true account of Papau New Guinea missionary Bible translators Edmund and Grace Fabian. They were missionaries to the Nabak tribe, whose language was unwritten at the time of their arrival in 1967. After 27 years of faithful service and nearing completion of their translation work of the New Testament, Grace found her husband in his translation office, an ax in the back of his head, his computer screen still open to the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. This story of redemption and forgiveness is simultaneously captivating and gut-wrenching. The book would have benefited from better editing or perhaps there was just too much story to condense neatly; I struggled with unanswered questions and clarity. However, the message of this book far outweighs whatever editorial issues it may have. Once again, the power of Christ to enable ordinary people to accomplish incomprehensible acts of forgiveness is convicting and yet, spiritually stimulating. You can read more about the book and author at GraceFabian.com