From Start to Finish, a Review

I really suck at goals y’all. No, scratch that. I am awesome at making goals when they pertain to work or my health. What I suck at is finishing the one goal that has been before me for years.

After getting a pre-release copy of Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish (out on September 12th) that is all about to change. This guy taught me how to quit, how to start, but now he’s focused in on how to finish what you’ve started.

Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you.

He does it succinctly and practically. Guiding you through assessing your current goal, where you are in it, and what might need to be dialed in differently in order to get you to your goal of finish. And finish you shall.

I honestly didn’t want to finish the book, because then it would mean I was perfectly armed to face down that goal of writing a book that I have wanted to do for so long. But it’s a lot nobler to point to the outline and the chapters that lay unfinished as I take on new tasks, new distractions, more excuses. To say if it’s not perfect, it won’t be finished.

Jon tears through all that to point out how we self-sabotage our own goals before we even get started because we like to ruin it ahead of time. Those New Year’s goals? How ya doing on those here in September? Interlaced with humor that Acuff does so well amidst the practical steps of addressing your failure to finish, his newest book will get you to the same it did him-finishing.

If you pre-order Finish before midnight September 11th there’s over $200 worth of freebies to lay claim to, including a video series with Jon that’s a HUGE value. Pre-order here. And then fill out this form.

You are Free

Y’all…you know I love the reading and the books and the writing stuff right? For the last couple of months I have had the privilege of being on Rebekah Lyons’s launch team for her book You are Free, which comes out TODAY!! To say I am excited for this book would be an understatement.

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I had heard about Rebekah around the women’s ministry circuit and in the Nashville ministry rounds as well. I will admit I have not yet read her first book Freefall to Fly but no matter currently because I have read the one hitting shelves and your shopping carts today twice. Yes, twice.

And that’s just in the last two months.

This book from Lyons is a game changer in my life already, and I know it will be for you and the people you know. Lyons goes personal quickly, sharing about her struggle in the enslaving nature of fear, living in bondage rather than the freedom we know we have in Christ as heirs.

Her circumstances of life may differ from yours, as we all do but we all find common ground on our knees in deep surrender, in searching for freedom in our lives. Rebekah leads you through different areas of freedom she has herself wrestled with and allowed God to reveal to her throughout the book. One thing that I absolutely loved was her ability to wrap Scripture into every area, leaning firmly on the foundation of the Word of God to be free in areas of life.

When it comes to our healing in the midst, so often we think we are the responsible parties. That in our human, independent natures we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and slap on the bandaids. As Rebekah’s words echo even know, the revelation becomes all to clear.

“We aren’t responsible for the healing, we’re only responsible for the asking.”

At the end of each chapter, you aren’t finding things neatly packaged up and wrapped with a bow on top. You are left pondering and seeking application in your own life. Rebekah has also placed prompts (3-4) at the close of each chapter to develop further thought and process for the individual. This was a big hit for me as I like application when I read on Christian living, and the struggles in it. It gives you space to look and pray, to stop and see what God might be speaking in to your life about through Rebekah’s words.

If you read my post over the weekend, you’ll see the effect of this book and Rebekah’s heart for freedom in us all already being an influence in my life. I know it will have an impact in anyone who takes the courage to be set free in faith.

 

An Ordinary Review

“But mission usually doesn’t involve doing sensational acts; it involves simple, ordinary acts done with a heart of love.” (P.52)

That is much of the position of Tony Merida in his book, Ordinary, out now from B&H Publishers. 

You find Merida’s writing straight to the point and grounded in Biblical foundations throughout the first half of the book. He doesn’t mince words about loving your neighbor as a missionary life, how to support and engage the orphaned and widow is our responsibility in the church, and how ordinary life should reflect the image of Christ always.

With it being under 150 pages, one may ascertain its more devotional and fluff than call to a mission-filled life of “ordinary.” However this book provides depth to what life in the suburbs or apartment building looks like, what missionaries living can be in a corner office or in the streets. He points to hospitality as a means of speaking the gospel to people.

It falls directly in the path of Christ’s journey here on earth, at the table having meals with non-believers, entertaining the outcast and lesser of society, seeking conversations with the prostitutes and adulterers. Merida lays out beautifully the life of ordinary, of daily loving others just as Christ loves, and the impact it makes in extraordinary ways in the journey of serving God.

The latter half of the book dives more into advocacy and ways to practically serve the marginalized of society. While many will enjoy this turn into practicality I felt it wasn’t a fluid move from one chapter to another. It felt very choppy and forced, as if these were add-ones for page counts. While advocacy is important and vital to our lives as image bearers it just didn’t seem to fit where it was placed in the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone doubting their life is missional, to anyone who thinks they have to do some big mission journey or that is skeptical of an ordinary life as one of mission as well. So basically, anyone can and should read this. It’s a great look and convicting message of how much more ordinary we need in our lives, rather than extraordinary. Let’s leave that business to God and live out the missional life He’s called us to live.


I received this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. Want to be a B&H/LifeWay blogger too? Apply at B&H Bloggers.

Play With Fire

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Play with Fire released yesterday from Bianca Olthoff and I couldn’t be happier to have gotten to read this earlier this summer.

I have waited for two months to share my review of this book, and it’s been killing me y’all.

I have to say I was apprehensive about reading this because I wasn’t sure where Bianca would take us. She took us deep within her to what God was showing her throughout many years, having to live through it in order to then turn and share it.

Play With Fire hits on the journey of Bianca Olthoff from a place of doubt and question, choosing to allow God to break her completely at pivotal moments in order to pursue what He would have her choose, what would bring Him the glory and her to a deeper relationship with Him.

“Being chosen, then, clearly doesn’t mean being comfortable.” (p. 31)

This book will make you uncomfortable because He challenges you through Bianca’s words, His moving in her life and what He taught her about being chosen and His timing. Throughout this book Bianca talks about how we are not to fear the fire of life, the fire that can be daunting and wearying.

No, the fires of this life, ones which we can walk into boldly knowing He is with us, or attempt to be drug through kicking and screaming, are ones which refine us. They change us, hopefully towards the better, towards the God of glory and His plan for us. It leads us to understanding Him more in glimpses of the flames and relying upon Him throughout, even in the hard, even in the difficult.

Bianca shares from a vulnerable and honest place about her experiences of pain and suffering, of glimpses of joy and where she ultimately had to get to a place with God to allow Him to work things out in her fully. She admits to being a work in progress, as we all are, in the refining process.

“What survives in the fire will determine what is truly valuable and real.”

(p. 168)

 

Steadfast Love: Review and Giveaway!

Confession time around these parts…

I love books.

You all probably knew that by now, but I seriously get anxiety over all the great books I have yet to read. I keep a shelf in my bedroom of books I read each year, and those I plan to read. I got the idea a couple of years ago from my friend Jon Acuff. It was this whole “empty shelf” challenge, and one I have kept to for the last three years. My goal each year is to match the number of books I read with the age I will be turning. That’s the only stipulation. So I read professional development, fiction and Christian living books. Every once in a while I share those on here with you all, as you’ve seen from Choose Joy, Fervent and Dancing Through Life.

This month I got a jump on my book challenge with the new release from Lauren Chandler called Steadfast Love (You can pick it up at your local LifeWay which now does price matching!). You may or may not be familiar with Lauren or her family. I have been what you’d call a “follower fan” of Matt Chandler for a while, as he pastors in Texas. Several years ago Matt fell ill and captivated alot of Christians for how he and his family navigated the diagnosis and subsequent journey under the “new normal.”

Let me say I started this book off slow, as I was finding it hard to get into personally. But I had to deal with that as this book is beautifully written on a Psalm which is personal to Lauren, but is one to be learned from by us all.

We deep dive into Psalm 107 section by section, verse by verse throughout this book. She pinpoints anchors we choose to use, instead of the the everlasting, eternal one in Christ. One such quote found in the early pages digs right at the heart of where we need to start when seeking/living in steadfast love:

What we choose to use as our anchor determines how well we will weather the seasons of life. (pg 19)

God’s steadfast love is our anchor, in the midst of any storm or seas of life, when we need rest, to enjoy the perspective, or when we need refuge.

Lauren walks you through each of those areas, from the heavy and hard to the folly of our own hands. You see her worship of Psalm 107 and it ignites within you the desire to look at the steadfast love in your own life, the anchors you fashion out of your own hands, and begin to examine the Psalm with eyes on Him. She gets to the crux of her book with the synopsis of “Sometimes he wrings the worship from our hearts.”

In truth, He does. We get wrung out through praise, but it has to be from a heart filled with steadfast love in Him from Him.

As we enter the month of love awareness (I’ll save you all my soap box on that), I wanted to encourage you to check out this book from Lauren Chandler and examine the Psalm a bit deeper as we look at steadfast love in a time where love seems to be bought and traded far too cheaply. See how His steadfast love grabbed Lauren to prepare her for a time when she needed the anchor which holds stronger than any one she could’ve fashioned for herself.


To celebrate Lauren’s release and to get this book into the hand of a reader, I am giving away a copy of Steadfast Love RIGHT HERE! All you have to do is tell us what Psalm you love in the comments and a winner will be picked at random. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, February 2nd!

Day 6-Happiness and Obedience

Today I wanted to take a moment and share a quote from one of the best books I have read in the past ten years. Over the course of the last few years I have been ever-more focused on singleness, dating relationships and marriage. In doing so, I have read more and more on those areas with fervor and discernment.

There are some great resources out there for you, regardless of marital status as to what those roles look like. There are also some truly terrible ones.

I would encourage you, as a part of becoming wife material, to explore reading on the facets of marriage that are formed in a biblical structure. God created and ordained marriage so that it would honor Him and bring Him glory. Why not go to resources that will illuminate that pathway for you?

“If we try to put our own happiness ahead of obedience to God, we violate our own nature and become, ultimately, miserable.”

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

In order to explore wife material, I must examine where my obedience is to God. My ultimate goal in life is not to obtain a man or beat another woman out to be married. No. It is to be woven with the strong thread of Christ throughout that the fabric of being a wife in ingrained into the material.

Happiness is fleeting. It is temporal and based upon circumstance. Obedience is commanded and leads to joy and contentment that outlasts a moment.


I’d love to share resources of books you have read that have influenced how you view marriage, singleness and/or dating relationships. Feel free to share below. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” at the end of the 31 Days!

My One Word 365 for 2014

It’s January 3rd. It’s Friday. Previously I would be posting my favorite things on here, with possibly even a giveaway. But this year I thought I’d share with you a bit on something I have done the previous year and plan to do again this year.

Yesterday I talked a little about One Word 365. Last year that word was Commit. Boy that one stung to look back at for fairly obvious reasons. So we’ll leave it in 2013.

For 2014 I had a word jump out at me weeks ago. As much as I tried to redirect to another word, one that maybe didn’t push so much from the get-go. Not likely…this word kept popping back up over and over. So I accept the reality of needing this word for the year. I am excited already as I have been living in this word and have a specific plan for January.

My word is GROW. 1530368_10101935632034775_951130546_nThere are so many avenues where this hits my heart. So many spaces that need growing. The word excites me, and scares me at the same time. I gave great consideration to this and how I wanted it to influence every bit of me this year. So I began breaking it down into realistic parts to pursue each month.

For January, that looks like growing in my writing. That means reading on writing, expanding my writing platform, and also cultivating my writing into the first chapter of the book I plan to complete this year. Why am I sharing this here?

Well I am already on the 30 Days of Hustle with 3,000 of my closest friends and my favorite encourager/hustler/truth-speeker, Jon Acuff, to grow my writing in this specific writing. But I also need y’all to know that means more writing on here. It will also mean a big change in what this blog looks like moving forward. I know I promised that two months back, but the holidays hit with a frenzy and I decided to revel in that and address the shape of my blog in the new year.

I also wanted to share others around the blogosphere in case you wanted inspiration and also so you can check out some fantastic dreamers and builders!

Linda Goodall’s Word is Stillness.

Allison Buzard’s Word is Rest.

My Spooner Life’s Word is Do.

Rick Theule’s One Word.