I started reading while I was very young. In fact, my grandfather who raised me by himself started reading the Bible to me from ever since I can remember. Growing up as an only child in the home, I often became lost in the adventures of Alice in Wonderland or a mysterious plot from a Nancy Drew book. I trembled with excitement at the opportunity to acquire a new read and I must have been the only nine year old who was excited to go to the library. Despite rules to the contrary, the librarian would allow me to borrow as many books as I could carry. I loved and read all types of books but I abhorred romance — not sure why. I should look into that.
Below is a list of six books that have positively influenced my life during my time alone as a child, on lonely times while growing up in England, and during some tumultuous years while raising my two younger boys.
The Holy Bible: This book, has had a major impact on my life from a very early age. I went to Sunday school with my grandfather, attended Pre-K at my church and recited many verses from the book of Psalms at church events. Though the words within didn’t mean much to me back then, it all came flooding back during my teenage years when I felt the calling of the Lord. These same words — some of the ones I recited — “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful,…” Psalm 1:1. (King James Version) — among others, that pulled me towards a relationship with Christ. The Bible is not a simple book like some would want to believe. It takes the whisper of the Holy Spirit to bring understanding of the words contained in its pages to your soul.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson: Who Moved My Cheese tells the story of two mice; Sniff and Scurry and two humans; Hem and Haw who all lived in a maze. This book, in very simple terms lays out the landscape of the lives of humans and the choices we make even when faced with the truth. The contrast between the mice and the humans is quite striking and reminds me that we are not entitled to anything but we have the opportunity to experience all life has to offer if we only have the courage to adapt to the inevitable changes that life brings instead of burying out head in the sand or somewhere else or complain about what is not going right. Life is complicated simply because no one person controls everything so we must be prepared for and adapt to changes. This little book is a must read for everyone but especially for those dealing with changes, especially if those changes give the appearance that your life is spinning out of control.
The Stiletto Network by Pamela Ryckman: Forget everything you have heard about professional women not liking each other and not supporting each other in their careers. This book dispels all those myths. Stiletto Network gives a first hand account of how wealthy, successful women are generously reaching back and forming personal and professional networks to help others. However, these women do not just throw their treasures around and they most certainly do not “throw their pearls before swines”. Ryckman has taken the time to delve into these earth-moving relationships which encompass every area of the lives of those involved. Whether bonding over a dinner party or during an island getaway, stiletto networks have bypass the proverbial glass ceiling and are helping to create hundreds of successful women worldwide.
Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Pastor Jim Cymbala. If you have a deep interest in the things of God and if you are often confused about how God operates via the Holy Spirit, this just might be the book for you. How do I know that God is real? When someone say that God spoke to them, what does that really mean? Pastor Cymbala passionately retells the story of several congregants, past and present whom have had a life changing experience with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. This book will send the skeptics scrambling back to the book of Acts.
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Budgeting, living within your means, and getting out of debt is the theme of this book. Dave outlines seven “Baby Steps” to becoming not only debt free but wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. It is not a get rich quick scheme. In fact, the process can be lengthy and painful. Imagine your debt was an extra 300 pounds of fat that you are trying to lose. Then you understand the commitment needed to follow the steps in this book to unburden yourself from the slavery of debt. I have not followed his plan to a tee but overall this is smart advice that I find very helpful in handling my finances. One of the points Dave makes that really resonate with me is “when you live like no one else” (sacrifice to become debt free), “you can live like no on else” (no debt, pay cash for even large purchases, retire wealthy).
Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential by Joel Osteen. While I was going through a really tough divorce, scared, and at my wits end, this book gave me hope. The 90 day devotional companion kept me focused on daily devotion with God. At the time, I also set a weight loss goal that accompanied this spiritual journey and it was pure magic. But not really. I was focused and driven and the book helped me not to get side tracked. Your Best Life Now gave me the opportunity to live in the moment and not get distracted by the earth shattering circumstances I was experiencing at the time.
There are many other books that I have read and continue to read that have influenced my thoughts and in some cases my behavior. However, theses 6 books have had the most powerful influence on me.