September 29, 2015

6 Books I Still Think About


Have you ever read a book that just stayed with you through the years?
 
I admit I've read a lot of books that I don't even remember were about! But once in awhile something I've read stays with me and has given me a greater understanding of the world, the Bible and God.

Today I thought I'd share a few of these books and what stood out and stayed with me through the years.


The Confessions of St. Augustine - I'd never heard of Augustine before I read this book. And to be honest, I'd never heard must of any church history, until these last few years.

Augustine of Hippo was the beginning for me. He was a bishop in the 4th century. Someone who God transformed from a passive fornicator and dabbler of false religion to a man of God.


There are a few things I often think back on from this book.

Firstly is his thoughts on infants sinning, even though unknowingly, which gave me something to ponder. If we were born into sin then we were sinners as infants, and as an infant, who does not know he is a sinner, so are grown men and women who deny they are sinners, until they come to Christ.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

Here is what Augustine said:

"Hear, O God. Alas, for man's sin! So saith man, and Thou pities him; for Thou made him, but sin in him Thou made not. Who reminds me of the sins of my infancy? For in Thy sight none is pure from sin, not even the infant whose life is but a day upon the earth. Who reminds me? Does not each little infant, in whom I see what of myself I remember not?"

Secondly, is his mother's love and endurance in Christ. He talks of his mother a lot in the book. Crediting her with the prayers that brought him to the Lord.

Augustine's love and respect for his mother was beautiful to read, but her love and dedication to God was even more beautiful.

Augustine says of her here:

"I will not leave out what my mind can express about her, your handmaid. Her flesh brought me forth to live in this daylight, as her heart brought me forth to live in eternal light. I shall not speak of her gifts, but of Your gifts in her, since she did not create or teach herself, You created her, and neither her father nor her mother knew what she would become."

Her life, lived so long ago, has had a huge impact on me. Reminding me to pray fervently for my children and to never give up.

And thirdly, Augustine's humbleness. The book is written as a love letter to the Lord and you can feel the emotion as you read. I think Augustine may have shed a few tears while writing it. : )


The Scarlet Letter - This is a novel about judgement and control. About a small 17th century puritan community, who have left the true God behind and fallen into legalism. It will break your heart.


I often think about the man who impregnated Hester Prynne, the woman who was made to wear the scarlet letter. He becomes so broken and there is one scene I just can't get out of my mind. A scene of repentance that is just so beautiful.

Many may think Hester is the heroine of this story with her strength and resistance to the awful things being said and done to her, but for me it was this man who humbly repented before God.

Because only the repentant heart knows who the true Hero is.

"The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts."
Isaiah 57:15


Mere Christianity - This book single-handedly changed my way of thinking. It set me on a path to seek God and God alone.


Having  a charismatic background, it was easy for me to over spiritualize things. And easy to blame the 'evil spirit' of this or that as the cause of a person's bad behavior. I see now that way of thinking kept me from really looking at myself. It was just easier to blame the devil for everything.

What C.S. Lewis has taught me, is this... I am simply a sinner, and that most of my problems are rooted in my own sinful nature.

Yes, the devil can tempt us, but we need to always start with who God is and who He says we are in sin, before we can see who God is making us to be as new creations when we have surrendered to Him.

Lewis also taught me that God gave us a mind for a reason...to use it. To think for ourselves and not believe everything we hear. Learning to discern through God's Word and not of ourselves or others.

Lewis also encouraged me to really look at Jesus.

The quote that moved me the most in this book, was this one:

 "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. 

A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. 

He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matt. 15:16

We must choose. And we must have no doubts about it. This book encouraged me to look at Jesus as He is, to really listen and trust Him.


The Light Between the Oceans - This is a novel about a young couple who live isolated on an island, running a lighthouse. One stormy night changes their lives forever as a baby is washed up on shore.


I just can't get this story out of my mind. This couple makes one wrong decision (to keep the baby, which is not theirs) and it rips them apart. I cried often reading this book. And I still struggle with the emotions of these two characters, who suffered so much while trying to have children. Then they make a mistake, one regrets and one lives in delusion of. I was so torn, should they do the right thing? What is the right thing? It's an emotionally stressful read. One I can't get out of my head.

The lesson for me in this book was, once you start down the wrong path it's hard to get off. You just get deeper and deeper into the darkness. This book had no redemptive answers, but I know there is One who can rescue us from that darkness and that brings me comfort.

"The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned." Psa. 34:22


Knowing God - This is a very intense book that took me over a year to read. But it was so worth it.


There was one section that I often think on. It's about what it means to be a child of God. The world calls themselves children of God, but are they without Christ? The truth is, when we are saved (born again) we become children of God, before that we were His enemies.

It is such a great comfort to know I am an adopted child of God. And He is a good Father, who since I was born again, will never unadopt me.

I'll let J.I. Packer explain:

"The idea that all are children of God is not found in the Bible anywhere.

The Old Testament shows God as the Father, not of all, but of His own people, the seed of Abraham. 'Israel is my firstborn son,...'Let my son go' (Ex. 4:22-23). 

The New Testament has a world vision, but it too shows God as the Father, not of all, but of those who, knowing themselves to be sinners, put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their divine sin-bearer and master, and so become Abraham's spiritual seed. 'You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...You are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed' (Galatians 3:26-29) 

Sonship to God is not, therefore, a universal status into which everyone enters by natural birth, but a supernatural gift which one receives through receiving Jesus. 'No one comes to the Father' - in other words, is acknowledged by God as a son - 'except through me' (John 14:6). The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again. 

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13

Sonship of God, then, is a gift of grace.

It is not a natural but an adoptive sonship, and so the New Testament explicitly pictures it. In Roman law, it was a recognized practice for an adult who wanted an heir, and someone to carry on the family name, to adopt a male as a son - usually at age, rather than in infancy, as is the common way today. 

The apostles proclaim that God has so loved those whom He redeemed on the cross that He has adopted them all as His heirs, to see and share the glory into which His only begotten Son has already come. 'God sent His Son...to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full (adoptive) rights of sons' (Galatians 4:4-5): we, that is, who were 'foreordained into adoption as sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself' (Ephesians 1:5). 'How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is' (1John 3:1-2).

I think this is very important to understand, as in these days, humankind is trying to spiritually unite, calling themselves all children of God...but without Christ. This is ungodly and unbiblical.



The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Though this is not my favorite Narnia book, it does have one unforgettable scene that I love so much.


It's when Eustace is turned back into a boy from being a dragon. He first turns into a dragon when he becomes selfish and hard-hearted. This represents the sin of the first Adam in the garden. One God made good but was tempted and sin entered into the world.

Then when Eustace wants to serve Aslan, Aslan must turn him back into a boy. This can only be done by Aslan, just as only Christ can save us and change us. This is not easy and is very painful for Eustace, representing how hard and painful it is for us to die to our ourselves and live for Christ.

It made me think of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a great tree cut down in the book of Daniel. The dream was about him! He would be cut down from his glory as king and made like an animal until he repented. Then he sang praises to God and gave Him the glory.

"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble." Daniel 4:37

Here is Lewis's scene:

"Then the lion said – but I don't know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

"The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off." 


Do you have something from a book that has stayed with you? Feel free to share in the comments. : )


56 comments:

  1. I love a book that feels like a good friend when I finish it! And even better if the books speaks to my soul. This year, I read "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy". It impacted me in a big way. (Visiting via #RaRaLinkup today.) Blessings...

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    1. I enjoyed Bonhoeffer as well. Thanks for stopping by Karlene!

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    2. I've enjoyed a few of the books listed. But, now, I have several to add to my "to read" list. Thank you!

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    3. Hope you enjoy them Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by. : )

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  2. A very good list of powerful books that have stayed with you! I too am like you - I love to read, and most of the time I don't remember half of what I read, but every now and then, there are those books that make a lasting imprint. Thanks for sharing today at #unite ink-up. I am looking forward to reading some of the books you shared about. Oh by the way - I just love your picture at the top of the post - that is often my nightstand,and side table by my desk - - just not as beautiful as those books. Blessings to you!

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    1. I love having a pile of books near where I read. It is somehow comforting. : )

      Glad you stopped by Debbie!

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  3. Beautiful, inspiring summaries. I recognize so many of these books from my history (Surprisingly, I'm working now through the Narnia series). St. Augustine is one of my favorites. I've spent time in City of God - I think I need to delve into his confessions. I so enjoyed this visit!

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    1. I've just started the last book in the Narnia series. There have been some fun adventures and beautiful biblical truths. Hope you enjoy the rest of your reading through them!

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  4. I’ve still never read The Confessions of St. Augustine, despite having heard about it for years. Maybe next year I will!

    I have read Mere Christianity—several times—and yes, it is amazing. I’m re-reading Knowing God right now with the group at Tim Challies. Another classic favorite!

    Great post. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Lisa, I heard Tim Challies was reading 'Know God' at his blog, I'll have to stop over and read the discussions going on. It was such a great book.

      And you have to read Augustine's confessions, it is so beautiful. : )

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  5. Thank you for these great books. I have read some but the ones I have not read are now on my list of "want to read."

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    1. Glad to hear you are adding some to your reading list! Thanks for stopping by. : )

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  6. I've read and appreciated all of those but The Light between the Oceans - it sounds like maybe there's a new one I should be reading :-)

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    1. It was a thought-provoker for me. Made me realize how blessed I am to know the Lord and have Him to counsel me and lead me in His ways. (The characters in the book don't seek God's help or direction)

      Thanks for stopping by! : )

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  7. Our family read George Mueller's story years ago and that book impacted us greatly. If you haven't read it, get it. You'll put it on your list. Thanks for stopping by today!

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    1. I've read bits and pieces of a book called the 'The George Muller Treasury' and enjoyed it. Will look for his story!

      Thanks Anne

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  8. I'll have to check out this list. I haven't read all of these!

    Mine:


    Hinds Feet on High Places (the story of a young woman's journey from fear to triumph)

    And

    Same Kind of Different as Me (a homeless man becomes friends with a wealthy art dealer...true story.)

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    1. I've never heard of 'Hinds Feet on High Places' I will have to check it out.

      I have read 'Same Kind of Different than Me' and really enjoyed it.

      Thanks for your recommendations Sandi! : )

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  9. I suspect anything by C.S. Lewis is amazing. I've read the first three Narnia books (read them prior to the movie releases) and loved all three. Someday I need to read the rest. :)

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    1. I love Lewis and his books. He had a way of sharing his faith with love and grace and intelligence. And he didn't just write about his faith, but sincerely lived it. That's what I really admire about him.

      Enjoy the rest of the Narnia series Rissi. I wish they would make more movies! : )

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  10. Any of Lewis' books: God in the Dock, Screwtape Letters, Patrick by Stephen Lawhead, Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Jan Karon's Mitford series. Thanks for sharing your list. I'll have to read some off your list.

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    1. I loved the 'Screwtape Letters,' but 'God in the Dock' is one of the few of Lewis's I haven't read yet. I'll have to add that one. I tried starting 'Princess and the Goblin' but couldn't get into it, will have to try again. I know Lewis loved George MacDonald. : )

      I haven't read anything by Stephen Lawhead yet, though I have his King Raven trilogy. I keep looking at it on my bookshelf. One of these days...

      Thanks for all the recommendations Constance! I love hearing about greats books.

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  11. I always love your posts because you open my eyes to new books or you remind me of books that I have wanted to read. Mere Christianity is one of those books that has been on my list for quite awhile. Visiting you from #TellHisStory. Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts on books.

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    1. Thanks Mary!

      You definitely should read Mere Christianity! You would love it.

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  12. Hi Cathy, I have not read any of these books. Thanks for the reviews and for sharing your thoughts.
    followed you from #littlerandr

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  13. I enjoyed Mere Christianity very much. The Scarlet Letter not so much, though it was an eye-opening account of the times. I love that scene with Eustace, too. I have not read Confessions but probably should some time. I am reading Knowing God just now.

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    1. Hope you are enjoying 'Knowing God.'

      Thanks for stopping by Barbara. : )

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  14. Every time I read the Narnia Chronicles, I decide on a different "favorite" -- they all, each time, have so much to say! So I guess I'll just keep to all seven (I like that scene about Eustace, too. Very telling.)

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    1. 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' is my favorite, maybe because it was the first I read in the series and the scene of Aslan sacrificing Himself for others was so moving. I read it out loud with my daughter and barely got through that scene! Glad you enjoy all of the series.

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  15. What great books you've shared. I love reading something that sticks with me. My book club read Light Between the Oceans but I missed that one. Going to have to read it. l inking with you today at #ThreeWordWed.

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    1. It will make you think! Thanks for stopping by Ginger. : )

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  16. Cathy, Thanks for sharing this great list. Makes me want to pull out Mere Christianity again, and LIght Between Oceans is one I keep looking at at the bookstore but haven't read yet. I think you might have pushed me over the edge. :) Loved reading about these books, Angela

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    1. I've been thinking about reading 'Mere Christianity' again too. It's been quite awhile.

      Thanks for stopping by Angela! : )

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  17. Great list! I too would have to put Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia series on this list, they have both had a great influence on my life and the way I think. Thanks for the good read!

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    1. Thanks Hannah, glad you stopped by! : )

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  18. You know if something still sticks with you after a long time, it's made a big impact. So glad you shared with us!

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  19. Love your post opening photo - so cool.

    oooo....The Confession of Saint Augustine sounds very interesting. I am going to read it.

    Mere Christianity is a powerful book and one that begs to be re-read periodically throughout life. I know I will.

    Love this post. You have me thinking, what are the six books that I still think about? Ok going to give that question some thought.

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    1. I would love to hear about 6 books that impacted you!

      Thanks for stopping by. : )

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  20. ooo This is a fun idea. I remember Mere Christianity being just AMAZEing, but I can't actually remember much about it. Reread time!!

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    1. I'd like to reread it someday too! Nice to see you here Alyssa. : )

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  21. Cathy , This is a great list of books! Mere Christianity is on my "to read" list. I have definitely heard good things about the J.I. Packer book. I've read a different book about Augustine, (the name of which escapes me), but it was basically telling how he cultivated conversation with the Lord throughout His day. I have also heard very good things about the Confessions of St. Augustine.

    Thanks for sharing how each of the books impacted you and your walk of faith. I always say that books can be our mentors as well.

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    1. I often feel I connect with the author in a good book and they become a mentor to me. C.S. Lewis for sure! Thanks for stopping by Karen. : )

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  22. Thanks for the reminders of why I loved The Scarlet Letter and The Voyage of the Dawn-Treader so much. In fact, I just watched the Dawn-Treader movie with my daughter a couple nights ago and was struck by that scene where Aslan turns Eustace back into a boy - Lewis packed so much truth into that one scene.

    Visiting from Weekend Whispers - hope you have a great week!

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    1. I saw the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie before reading the book and found that scene emotional to watch. Reading the scene later was just as emotional. I agree, Lewis had a rare gift in sharing gospel truths in his fiction.

      Thanks for stopping by Kym and have a great week too. : )

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  23. So many wonderful favorites! I love an old friend in the form of a book!

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  24. I'd really like to re-read The Scarlet Letter with my freshman daughter. I think I'll enjoy it much more without the requirement of analyzing every chapter as we did in English class. Mere Christianity is also on my short list. I fell in love with C.S. Lewis after reading aloud The
    Chronicles of Narnia with my kids. Terrific books here - thanks for sharing!

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    1. I really enjoy reading books with my daughters! My youngest has to read 'Frankenstein' for her university English class and she asked me to read it along with her so we could discuss it. It's a book I would never have thought of reading, but I'm finding it really thought-provoking as well as the questions her Christian professor has given the class. I'm really enjoying our discussions on the book, which was written by an 18 year old girl in the early 1800's (my daughter being 19). Hope you enjoy reading 'The Scarlet Letter' again through the eyes of your daughter!

      Thanks for stopping by Carrie. : )

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  25. Thanks, Cathy, for participating in the Make My Saturday Sweet linky party on Amanda's Books and More! Your paragraph quote from C.S. Lewis was my favorite too back in the day. I read it as a teenager and those words never left me. I was already a believer, but it encouraged me and helped set me free from perfectionism. I would love my son to read it, but I don't own it anymore, I gave it away to my grandfather to read (although I don't know if he ever read it). The Scarlet Letter upset me so much when I read it as a teenager, but it was important to expose the wrong kind of outward religion that was being enforced among some societies. God bless and enjoy your week!

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    1. Lewis has had such a huge impact on so many. It's always great to hear how he encouraged others. Thanks for sharing this. : )

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  26. This is such a great and fun post! All of the Chronicles of Narnia would definitely make my list as well. Both Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion books and Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days continue to be so inspiring to me in the area of true and loving servanthood; I've read those a number of times each. Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love is high on my list as well. I think about Randy Alcorn's Safely Home quite often too. I could go on and on, and you can see, I'm very affected by stories so fiction tends to pierce my heart far more than non-fiction. I'll stop with Chautona Havig's Past Forward series. Her character of Willow crops up in my thoughts often as I try to simplify and live intentionally.

    Again, super fun post! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week!
    Tina

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    1. Thanks for sharing Tina. I've been wanting to read 'Safely Home' but haven't got around to it yet. 'Redeeming Love' is another book that I still think about too. It was a powerful story. I will have to check out the other books you mentioned. : )

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  27. This would be a good idea for a post. I keep thinking I should read Augustine but I am a little intimidated. Loved Mere Christianity and Knowing God. That scene from Dawn-Treader is one of my favorites of the series. I have not read The Light Between Oceans but have heard it was good.

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    1. It took me awhile to get used to the language in Augustine's Confessions but once I did I really enjoyed it. I would encourage you to try. Thanks for stopping by and for all your comments! : )

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Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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