Ring Out, Wild Bells: Books & Questions for 2020

I don’t  know about you, but I am a woman in constant need of regrouping. We all have these reasons that our brains sway off track. Without vision, I spend my time reacting to life instead of acting on the hopes of my heart. I have found that the little things matter most. They are generally why I spend my time doing bigger things. Cultivating home for people. The simple, quiet behind the scene things are the richest treasures. Everything revolves around that for me. The books I read, the questions I ask myself, the recipes I make, the classes I take, the friends I have, and the people we feed. It all comes back to loving well. In doing all of these things, Jesus is ever healing my heart. I am increasingly discovering God’s grace in the spirit of hospitality.

I wanted to share a few things with you to kick off your new year. I try to steadily read 52 books a year (not more or less to keep balance). Books offer my heart some quiet therapy. I must have needed a bit of extra therapy this year because I accidentally read 78 books. I went through and picked out my ten favorites for you.

A few years ago, I started going through Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide. Writing out the things I hoped to change and work for became a prayer of my heart and took on a life of their own. I came across three distinctly different sets of questions to evaluate and help restructure your mind for 2020. I am praying for you to have renewed hope and a great sense of purpose in the year ahead.

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
—T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Life without revision will silence our souls.
—Sleeping at Last, Snow

Let’s start with a poem.

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

 - 1809-1892
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

This is a reflective and fun list for summing up your year and thinking about what you might change. It’s good for me to remember the highlights. I tend to forget the wonderful things and get bogged down in the muck of each common day. I forget the beauty there. 

This list is about addressing your heart and how you might like to change what is happening inside yourself. Most of our lives are lived internally. It’s good to be introspective.

Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide helped me to keep some things God put in my heart at the forefront. Writing vision and hope out on paper has truly given me a jump start where I was lying dormant. I print it out and fill it in.

Top Ten Books Of My Year (not listed by rank)
1. The Second Mountain by David Brooks *(the first half and the section on building community are primo). His insight into human resilience is fantastic. 
2. Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson * This is a deep, thoughtful look inside the creative life. It made me feel more alive and more creative. 
3. Miracle on Voodoo Mountain by Megan Boudreaux *If you enjoy the God of the impossible, this is a true story for you. It’s set in my beloved Haiti. 
4. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson *This book shook me. Black history is fascinating to me and the true crime that white men waged on them is excruciating to see. See the movie too. 
5. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder *Wow. The life of Paul Farmer and his life of service to eradicating disease around the world and to the poorest of people is inspiring. Tracy is a phenomenal story teller. 
6. True Grit By Charles Portis *I loved the writing. The story is great and Charles Portis wrote in a way that transported you back in time. 
7. Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher *This was a fascinating read on the intrepid nature of women by a sociologist. 
8. Crescendo by Allen Cheney *This true story spoke deeply to my heart about healing and valuing the simple things in life. It surprised me. 
9. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann *It is hard to believe this story happened to the Osage Indians. True crime and devastation. 
10. You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy *Oh my word. I loved this book. Y’all. Read it. Kate is a journalist for the New York Times. This is a must read for the boardroom or the home. Fantastic. 

I also listened to Where the Crawdads Sing while I sanded our bedroom floor. Great story telling.

Share books with me on Goodreads.


Thanks for giving to the homeless this year at
The Boho Table


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