Every Day Gifts

My older son has been begging us for days to let them open a Christmas present early.  Last night, we finally gave in, with the condition that my wife be able to choose the present that was opened.

She naturally chose a present that he already had a pretty good idea about what it was.  Michael refused to open it.  He only wanted to open one that would be a surprise.  She refused to let him open a surprise gift, and the stalemate resulted in no gifts being opened.

As I thought on that this morning, God reminded me that every gift that He gives us every day is a surprise. To us, at least.  He already knows what is coming and what he has lined up for us today.  He knows what we need and when we will need it.  And He will give it at just the right time.

Like us, I hope that He is anticipating our excitement as we “open” this gift and respond to it.  I hope that my joy in receiving even the smallest of gifts from my Daddy today will bless Him and that others will be blessed by it as well.

I guess my son is just going to have to wait until Wednesday…

Best Books of 2013

When I received my Kindle Paper White for Christmas last year, I had no idea of the impact that it would have on my reading.  I have always loved to read, but over the years, it seemed that life and family and responsibilities always took priority over my time and left me with very little time to read. Add to that my belief that I was a purist, a book snob who only wanted to read a book that I could hold in my hands, and I had virtually given up on the possibility that I would continue to be a reader throughout my life.

But after giving my wife her Kindle Fire for Mother’s Day in 2012, and having the opportunity to read a little bit on there, I was converted.  Long live the ereader!

I am happy to report that I have read 48 books this year.  That is up from about 5 year before.  If you’re interested, the Kindle Paper White has made it VERY convenient to read again.  I can toss it in my briefcase and read while having lunch, or waiting in the carpool line.  With its adjustable brightness and backlit display, I can read it outside in any weather conditions or lying in bed with the lights out (so that my wife can sleep).  I guess that I always had the time, but now I have a convenient way to do it.

My taste in literature is about as varied as my taste in music, but I felt that it would be useful to consider which of the books that I read in 2013 affected me the most deeply.  So with no apologies and purely subjectively, my best reads of 2013:

5.  The Hour That Changes The World     

I am a very structured person.  I perform best with routine.  This book provides a very simple and structured plan to have meaningful daily prayer.  The tools that I was given through this book have aided me in developing a deeper and more impactful prayer life.

4.  Wheat Belly

I could just have easily listed Grain Brain in this spot. Both of these are excellent resources regarding health and diet issues.  Both of these books outline the dangers of the typical American diet.  Wheat Belly focuses specifically on the affects of our diet on our weight and the issues brought on by obesity; Grain Brain focuses on mental health issues, the largest of which is Alzheimer’s, and the links between carbs, wheat, and mental illness.  These books have both led to significant changes in diet at our house, and both were extremely timely given our older son’s diagnosis of gluten sensitivity in the fall of this year.

3.  At First Sight

 

This book had one of the most intense and unexpected endings that I have ever read.  This is the only book that I can tell you exactly where I was and what was happening around me when I finished it.  It caught me completely off guard.  I should warn you, this is the sequel to the book True Believer .  I did not know that when I read it and I read them out of order.  I believe that this is Nicholas Sparks’ best work yet.  Go ahead and laugh if you want, but Nick Sparks is my guilty pleasure.  I have about half a dozen Nicholas Sparks books left to read on my Kindle.  He may the only prolific writer of whom I have read everything that he has published….might be a goal for 2014.

2.  Those Across The River

This might be the best first novel that I have ever read.  It is southern, gothic horror at its best.  The plot involves werewolves, slaves, and secrets best left in the dark but not forgotten.  The writing it outstanding. The imagery is beautiful and the book has a sensuality that is difficult to describe.  If you are a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

1.  Gone Girl

I realize that I am a little late coming to the party on this one, but this is an incredible book.  It is broken into two parts:  The first half of the book alternates between present day in the life of the protagonist and journal entries from the past written by his now missing wife.  It is absolutely incredible.  It is well-paced and leaves you in suspense for a long time.  I truly had no idea who I was suppose to be rooting for.  And the book ends well.  I was so afraid that I would read this through to the end and be disappointed by the way the author closes it out.  Not so!  The ending is superb and actually leaves you longing for more.  If anyone in America has missed this one, get on it. You won’t be disappointed.

So, the obvious ending…what about you. What is the best of the best for 2013 in your opinion?