It’s the week after Thanksgiving and I’m in that strange lull between finishing up some deadline work, eating leftovers, and thinking about all that needs to be done for Christmas.

With rumors of another lockdown coming, and lockdowns being enforced in other states, I decided to add another post to my Lockdown Reading Series. This time it’s for books about Spirituality and Hope, just in time for the holiday season.

This memoir by Mary Lenaburg isn’t the easiest book to read, but it’s worth the tears you will shed. A powerful story of a family faced with not just one serious crisis, but with over two decades of tragedy and sorrow. Still, in the midst of everything that happened to Mary and her family, they found grace in the ashes and saved not just their family unit but their very lives as well. This book is the very definition of both courage and resilience. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

Again, this book like the one above, is about overcoming tragedy and sorrow in the most remarkable of ways. It’s an ordinary woman’s journey through heartache and redemption told through a form of stream-of-consciousness lyricism. This book is also not easy to read, not just because it asks you too look at your own life and the pain you’ve hidden away, but because of the writing. Ann Voskamp has a poetic voice that stretches the boundaries of both narrative and verse that some readers may struggle with. But it’s definitely worth the work.

I re-read this book at least once every year, but usually in the winter because when he describes the seasons of his faith journey, that’s the one I identify with the most. This book compares the reader’s lifelong spiritual journey (regardless of belief system) to the season of the year as well as the seasons of life. It’s a cross between a memoir and a study guide that makes the reader ask questions about where they are in their own life and how to move forward. This is a great book for anyone who feels stuck and wants to understand why.

This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have it on my Kindle, in audio, and two paperbacks. This classic is a series of letters between two devils–wormwood (a newbie roaming the earth) and his uncle Screwtape (a senior devil down below)–about how to tempt the lowly humans. It’s both funny and deadly serious in its depiction of human life. This book is considered “… the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.” (Amazon blurb)

I read this book in high school and didn’t really understand it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized what it was truly about. In this book, C.S. Lewis takes on one of the most universally-asked questions among all people–“If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?” The author, one of the most insightful of all apologists, answers this question with compassion, insight, and wisdom. The result of which is that his words leave the reader with a true understanding of human nature and an overwhelming sense of hope.

It’s no surprise that this book has sold over a million copies, and that I’ve read it numerous times. In this book, the author explores the universal question, “Where has my struggle led me?” The great thing about this book is how the author answers this questions.

The Amazon blurb explains it much better than I ever could: “A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on an unforgettable spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.
As Nouwen reflects on Rembrandt’s painting in light of his own life journey, he evokes a powerful drama of the classic parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s resentfulness, and the father’s compassion. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as God loves, and to be loved as God’s beloved, will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and is here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times.”

This is the first book in the four-book series known as “The Crosswalk Journals”. While the entire series is worth reading, the first one is my favorite. This memoir of the beloved children’s author’s life is funny, poignant, and filled with hope. As Madeleine L’Engle is struggling to build her writing career, she’s also moving in to a remote New England farmhouse, raising her children, supporting her husband, and commuting to New York City. For any person who feels like they’re doing too many things, and can barely get out of bed in the morning, this charming book will give you all the motivation you need.

This lovely book is an autobiographical account of the famous author who wrote The Secret Life of Bees and was once a contributing editor to Guideposts Magazine. This book is a true and passionate tale of the author’s spiritual crisis when she despaired of never moving past a dark period of ” active waiting”. This is a work of grace for anyone who has felt that life is passing them by or has left them behind.

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