Compiled from my links blog, here are some of my very favorite posts and articles that I read in 2009 (in no particular order):
Everyone should read this. It’s a guide to help you recognize which sins are at the root of your most common sinful tendencies, along with specific, practical steps for how to deal with them (it even offers a worksheet!) As I read the examples of the manifestations of some of these root sins, I kept nervously looking over my shoulder, thinking, “Does this guy know me?” It’s an invaluable guide for taking your spiritual life to the next level. (discovered via Drozmonkey)
This is a post that has haunted me for a long time, making me ask myself, “Am I really doing enough?” In it a missionary in Africa details the shocking poverty that she sees all around her, and makes a point that I had never considered before: there are about 168.8 million children in the world in dire need…and 2.1 billion people who profess to be Christians. If only 8% of those Christians would help one needy child, all the children would be taken care of. She doesn’t hold back when she says: “I DO NOT BELIEVE that the God of the universe created too many children in His image and not enough love or food or care to go around. In fact I believe that He created the Body of Christ for just that, to help these little ones, the least of these. And I believe that except for a handful, the Body of Christ is failing.” Some challenging thoughts that are well worth considering. (discovered via Small Treasures)
This post, written by a mother of seven, is overflowing with wisdom. After a difficult birth with her sixth child, she ended up getting double pneumonia, and then the flu. In the midst of feeling utterly overwhelmed with her life, a friend gave her some priceless advice that she shares with us in this post. I think of it often on tough days.
This video of what happened when astronomers pointed the Hubble telescope to what they thought was an empty patch of space is one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. (My thoughts on how this sort of thing never fails to strengthen my faith are here.)
5. “Dog needs water“
The actual title of this post is The Perfect Marriage, but it is forever implanted in my mind as the “dog needs water” post. It’s the story of one woman’s deal with God to improve her marriage by focusing on how she could be a better wife, rather than haranguing her husband about how he needed to change. (The scene that I most remember is where she’s come home from a long day’s work, is cleaning the kitchen, and before her husband goes to relax he calls over his shoulder, “Dog needs water.”) Though it’s about a marriage, I think it has good food for thought for trusting God with all sorts of challenging relationships. (discovered via Pursuing Titus 2)
When I first read this post at All You Who Hope, a blog by a 32-year-old woman struggling with infertility and adoption difficulties, I was amazed. Just when it seemed that she had reached rock bottom, God stepped in in a big way, sending her and her husband a message of hope. I read it when she first wrote it back in November, and then fell behind on my blog reading for a while. When I went to see what was new the other day, I was blown away to see that an adoption opportunity had come up out of the blue, just a few weeks after their message, and they finally received the greatest gift they could have ever asked for. I wiped tears out of my eyes as I thought of the words God sent them back in November: I have not abandoned you.
This great list of unsolved mysteries, which includes subjects like the lost crew of the Mary Celeste, the Voynich manuscript, and the “babushka lady” who may have close-up footage of the Kennedy assassination, really got my imagination going. (Scroll down to see the content — the ads at the top are somewhat confusing.) The follow-up list was good too.
This is a breathtaking story which recounts the stunning moment Corrie Ten Boom chose to forgive a guard at the concentration camp where her sister died. Maybe even more inspiring than that were some of the last words her sister said before she died: “[We] must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”
This practical guide to discernment has been invaluable to me as I go through daily life. It’s one of the clearest, most concise explanations of how to recognize God’s voice in your life that I’ve seen. (discovered via Shylock)
10. Rethinking joy
You’ll need to get out your Kleenex for this one, but this post by Emilie Lemmons is a must-read. In it she talks about her struggles with anger and depression as a wife and mother with stage IV cancer with a poor prognosis, and how she came to understand the critical distinction between happiness and joy. “I rage against the possibility that I might die and leave my children motherless, my husband a widower, ” she writes. “[But] what if I just let go of that? What if I trust that even if I die tomorrow or next month or next year, things will somehow work out? What if I allow myself to put the outcome in God’s hands and just live intensely in the present, absorbing and embracing life as it happens?” Tragically, Emilie passed away on Christmas Eve of 2008, about a week after she wrote that article. Her words have echoed in my mind over the past year, giving me inspiration in the midst of my own minuscule struggles. I hope they inspire you as well.
- Never confuse love with pity: A fantastic article about how the world mistakenly perceives people with disabilities, and what the meaning of life really is.
- Stolen picture: A blogger finds that a family picture that she posted on Facebook is being used in an ad in the Czech Republic!
- Suburban spiritual warfare: A raw, honest post about struggling for spiritual greatness on the battlefield of suburbia.
- Ten things you didn’t know about the Apollo 11 moon landing: Buzz Aldrin had to make sure not to lock the door when he went out because there was NO OUTER HANDLE?! Just a little bit stressful to think, “Gee, I hope I don’t forget and shut that door, seeing as how we’d be STRANDED ON THE FREAKING MOON and all.”
- Rules of engagement for Christians on the internet: We should all read this before going online. It’s written for Catholics, but I think it applies just as well to all Christians.
- Born toward dying: A magnum opus on death written by Richard John Neuhaus the year before he died.
I hope you all enjoy these links as much as I did!