“I could never do that by myself.”
These words whisper through my head all the time. They manage to talk me out of everything from attending weddings to remote hiking to simply eating out for dinner.
How often do you dare to step out alone?
I love to read. My earliest childhood memory is of going to story hour at the library. I know I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet. Once when I was young, a lady in my church took my sister and I out for dinner and we both sat at the table and read the entire time!
While my manners have improved since then, my love of reading has stayed the same. Good stories thrill me, delight me, and draw me in for more. They never get old.
Two years ago, I set a goal of reading fifty books. I met that goal, but as I looked back over my list, I realized I hadn’t liked many of the books. Often, I’d finish one and thrust aside in disgust, saying, “How in the world did she become an author?” or something to that effect.
I didn’t want to waste my time reading books I didn’t enjoy or find helpful, so last year I set a new goal: Read twelve Christian nonfiction books and twelve classics. Thanks to COVID and lockdowns, I was able to meet that goal, too.
Along the way I discovered something- those Christian nonfiction books were… good. They encouraged, uplifted, challenged, and pointed me to God.
My favorite books were biographies about single women doing crazy, inspiring things for God. I don’t even like to go to a hardware store by myself, and here I was, reading about women who rode camels into deserts, horses into uncharted jungles, started schools in Uganda, and even survived concentration camps.
These women were incredible not in themselves, but because they were totally sold out for God. They were so willing to live for Him, He enabled them to become super-women.
In my continued effort to live deliberately, I reset my goal of reading Christian nonfiction this year. I wanted to share a few of my favorite books with you in the hopes that they would inspire you, too.
- The Hiding Place
You must read this book! I’d heard of it but hadn’t picked it up until last summer. You will be beyond moved as you read about Corrie and Betsie ten Boom’s courage, grace, and strength as they hide Jewish refugees in their house. When they were discovered and arrested, their trust in God carried them through the horrors of a concentration camp.
I don’t usually (ok, never) cry over books or movies, but this one got me.
- Kisses From Katie
Katie Davis was only eighteen(!) when she first traded her comfortable American life for a hut in Uganda. She started out as a kindergarten teacher for dozens of children and eventually created a successful non-profit while simultaneously becoming the adopted mother of thirteen girls. All of this was done while she was still a very young, single woman.
My favorite part of her book is the first page, where she states, “Jesus wrecked my life.” He took all her typical college-girl plans and threw them out the window. I know I often fear total surrender to God for this same reason- that He would “wreck” my life and fling me into the vast unknown. Katie, however, makes it look like a wonderful adventure.
- Made for the Journey
Elisabeth Elliot is one of my favorite writers because she tells it like it is. She goes straight to the Bible and never steers from the truths she finds there. This little book, originally titled These Strange Ashes, is fascinating- it presents us with the first year of her life as a missionary, when she was still waiting for her future husband, Jim Elliot, to decide if he even should marry her.
I was both thrilled and horrified as I read of some of her ordeals- riding on a horse for days through uncleared jungles, floating down roiling rivers in dugout canoes, battling slimy, unknown creatures, attending women in childbirth, and attempting to translate the Bible into an as-yet-unwritten tribal language. Her devotion to God is evident throughout every challenge.
- Give Me This Mountain
I’d never heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare until I came across a reference to her in Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s excellent book Choosing Gratitude. Helen didn’t live a quiet life. Instead of practicing medicine in England, she chose a far more radical path- the life of a medical missionary in the war-ravaged Congo.
Being a foreign doctor in an impoverished country was challenging enough, but things became much harder, and more personal, when guerillas took over Helen’s hospital compound. Many missionaries had already left the country, but Helen’s deeply rooted trust in God compelled her to stay. For five months, she and several other female missionaries were held captive.
Helen braved the ordeal and even learned to give God thanks for it.
What can We do on Our Own?
These are just a couple out of many books I enjoyed last year! I wish I could share more with you. I think I like them because they show me what’s possible when God is fully in charge of your life.
So often single women hold themselves back because they’re on their own. Everything feels twice as daunting. Believe me, I know.
A life devoted to God may not be pretty or easy, but these women show us it’s possible to live boldly all on your own.
It’s amazing what women- even single women- can accomplish when they let God work through them.
This week I’m thankful for the blessing of good books and the inspiring women they share with us. May we all learn to be more like them. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!