But First, A Word from God

I love books. The fact that I currently have a stack on my bedside table just to read in the next couple of w

I review books as a blogger for a publishing company and I find solace in roaming through bookstores and piles of old books in thrift stores. My library card could have caught fire with how I burn that thing up using it so often.

scripture-and-psychologyBut the problem occurs when I put the words of even well-intentioned Christian authors ahead of Scripture. I can read about getting out of a pit, about loving others through what I do, and realizing the freedom I have in Christ. Yet, if I am not digging into His Word first? Well, then I am robbing myself of actual Truth.

Since Secret Church I have kept coming back to one particular area that David Platt taught on-the goodness of the Bible. And y’all, it is good. It brings us to Him directly instead of us relying upon another to reveal something to us. Just this morning I was really wanting to pour back into the book I am currently reading on friendships instead of the digging back into the book of Acts. Then I realized that I was placing more emphasis on someone else’s words, even a fellow sister in Christ, instead of Scripture itself, God’s very word to me.

There are days when I don’t feel like digging into His word, the hard of it. The messy of it. But it’s His truth, His divine words for me and for you for our lives and for His glory. When I put other’s words ahead of His? Well I start making myself a disciple of that person rather than of Him. (p. 125, Secret Church) I also miss out on the purpose God has for me for my life, because it is right there in Scripture. I give the glory that He is due and give it to that author, that writer, even to myself.

Please don’t hear me say that reading is bad, or that using resources by authors to draw God’s word out is a bad thing. But we first must come to His Word instead of that book. We have to devote ourselves to digging into what He says about Himself to then see how to become more like Him and less like ourselves.

Early Mornings, Fear and Encouragement

I greeted Friday with a dose of early morning reading…and by early I mean 3:30am.

I know, right?

I have been both actively and passively avoiding my own passion this year if I am honest, and what are Fridays good for if not honesty? Do you ever do that?

You know deep down you are passionate about a thing, a calling, a hobby, a goal, something. You keep getting pulled right back to it even when you think you’re over it. Yes I have been writing here, but I have neglected the book I have outlined and worked on chapters sporadically on for years.

I told myself 2017 would be the year it got finished, that no matter what came from it and where my heart and God’s will aligned on it, it would be finished. It would get shipped, as Seth Godin likes to say.

But that’s not been the case. I actively chose other projects that led me further from working on it. I pursued excuses of living situation, computer malfunctions and further research. I pointed to my complete lack of experience and place at the table. I know I have talked about disobedience and the like over the last few weeks, but honestly it’s like choosing to not parent. To sit idly by on the phone, the computer, the tv or any number of other things instead of tending to a child.

So at 4am this morning I ran across this quote in a book I recently received (and y’all if you have one person who says “GO DO THIS.” you are far more blessed than you realize…and I am super thankful for the quiet encouragement of a person when I haven’t really believed I had it in me to do this)…it’s from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Y’all….when we play small we tell others it’s okay to be small, to live in excuses and be okay with being less than. OUCH. and WOW.

This kicked my tail, and I keep coming back to it this morning over and over. Seeing just how much we fear how awesome we truly are instead of how lacking we are not. Maybe today you need to shine, just like I need to step fully into light that’s been cast, to finish and be fully who I have prayed and sought counsel on being-a writer with a finished book.

Let’s liberate the fear of who we think we aren’t and be who we truly are…AWESOME. And maybe that means wakeups at 4am, encouraging those you know who haven’t realized the fear they are living in, or it means putting all the excuses and distractions aside to do that thing.

Review of My Heart

Recent51udk4afeel-_sx321_bo1204203200_ly I was given the opportunity to read My Heart a new book out from Julie Manning. I was intrigued at first by the book and it’s title. Once I received the book I took the time to dig in a bit further to read Julie’s story and how this impacted her view of God.

In reviewing the book I have to be honest here that I wasn’t a fan of it. Maybe because I am not the ideal audience for this book (single) it felt very repetitive. I felt she didn’t have much direction on the writing in the early chapters nor was there much reflecting. As you get to the crux of the book is when her voice shifted into telling us how to go deeper with God. But there wasn’t much application there, only excerpts of journal entries during her time post-heart surgeries.

I was shocked at how I kept coming back to the book wanting more and not really finding much. She seems like a great woman whose faith was solidified in navigating the difficulties she faces with her heart situation. For me, it just didn’t click and I didn’t see beyond the emotionality of her faith journey during all of it. It also felt a bit disjointed having her notes to her sons at the end of each chapter. I couldn’t tell if this was a memoir, a letter to them, or a book on exploring faith and finding an unchanging God in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I recommend others to check it out for themselves, but know that it just wasn’t for me as a reviewer.


The book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Lovely is in the Eye of the Beholder

What you find beautiful may not be what I find beautiful. The moments you collect that will help you finish the thing you’ve started may not be the moments that matter to me. (pg. 107)

Let me introduce you to my friend Annie. I knew Annie about the time she embarked on this book-as she and I were leading college small groups at a church here in Nashville. That’s why when I got the opportunity to get a sneak peek at this book, Looking for Lovely, I was thrilled. It’s funny what us writers will put out in publication but we oft find hard to share, I feel like you get to know a deeper side of Annie with this newest release from B&H Publishing.

After reading this book on looking for the beauty in life that is defined by you, and just you, for yourself I want to send this to every lovely person in my life. Every girlfriend and woman who I want to encourage to see the lovely in their lives as a reflection of themselves, of the lovely that they are.

Annie defines what it means to search for lovely (where we have often misplaced our definition of lovely), the absence of it in our lives-which I was amening a bit too much while reading, inspiration of the lovely in her own life (I will never see sushi as just sushi m’dear!) and what looking for lovely looks like in a life.

I was skeptical at first of this book-afraid it would be too flowery and fluffy with sparkles, but instead it spoke to me in places that I hadn’t yet dug deep into about choosing lovely for my own life. Like the loveliness of silent Monday drives to the gym-seriously the quiet of 4:45am roads in Nashville is superb and life-breathing. Or the lovely in a deep conversation with a friend in another state, coffee and writing outside. The smell of crisp spring air as the day ends. These are some of the things, and people, that I am seeing as lovely-choosing to relish and mark days that might otherwise be found wanting.

Annie brings lovely to light in her own style of writing that is applicable and relatable. She talks to you as if you are sharing a cup of coffee or tea, rather than as an author baring open some hard parts of her life. I simply loved this book, from sparkly beginning to lovely end. I found that while inspiring it also gave me pause to be looking for lovely in my own life, in my own ways and defined by me.

I encourage you to grab your copy today, and a real copy because you’ll want to make notes and highlight Annie-isms. At the end of several chapters she challenges you to step out and find lovely in that moment, in that way as you begin your own journey to looking for lovely.


 

Pick up Looking for Lovely at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or LifeWay (they price match!) today! You can also get Annie’s Bible study that accompanies the book for teens and women at LifeWay. Comment below on one lovely thing you find in your life for a chance to win a copy I am giving away!

Day 21-Buy the Book

So I have talked alot over the last three weeks since this has started. I have shared alot of quotes too. I even tried a giveaway that (wah, wah, waaaaah) no one entered.

Since this post is super late going up…long full day as well as a flare up of my Sciatica, I am sharing some excellent books for you ladies to grab and walk you through wife material more indepth.

1. The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas. This book changed my perspective in the midst of a relationship I was in last year. Must read.

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. It’s another I swear you have to read.

3. Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud. Woof. This one challenged me to rethink how I date.

4. Dancing With the One You Love by Cindy Easley. I am currently in a Bible study/study group on this book and it’s fascinating to be going through the discussion of submission as a single woman dating.

5. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Seriously fantastic read and refreshing perspective.

 

Alright, that’s it for book recommendations. I tried to be all over the board depending upon where you are spiritually as well as relationally. They are pretty standard go-tos with the people I talk to about dating, relationships and marriage. I’ll be back tomorrow with a pretty rough topic for me to touch, our words.

Living Biblically as a Woman

When I first saw the book A Year of Biblical Womanhood I immediately thought, oh good, another one telling me how insufficient I am Biblically! For years I have scoured texts and books looking for the glimmer of hope that some part of me as a woman is getting the Biblical living down. With great reluctance I downloaded the eBook version and set out to see what Rachel Held Evans‘ year of womanhood would reveal for me.

Within a week the book had been devoured. I would quickly get through chapters, jotting down notes and revelations at break neck speed. This was a book, for me, that I could not put down. Rachel’s (I am referring to her by her first name because I think we bonded, more later…) approach is very intriguing as she mixes stories of women from the Bible, with her monthly “to-do” list she did, as well as journal entries from her husband and experiential trips. For me, again, this was the most comprehensive look at things in the Bible that for so very long I have taken as literal interpretation into my own life.

As a single woman, her words on the calling of women to motherhood was a breath of fresh air. Growing up evangelical as well it was very much the norm to hear how I am to be a wife and mother. So what happens at 32 when I don’t fit what that denomination’s standard is for women? Many times I am seen as an outcast, odd, or even damaged. Something must be wrong with me if I have reached this age without living into my duty as a Christian woman to be a wife. Yeah, there’s some work there in the church that needs to be done on that stigma. Reason why? My highest calling, and yours as a believer, is to follow Christ. Rachel goes on to share this:

And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar.

She provides great insight and basis for what Proverbs 31 actually interprets to, as so often she’s our norm for living as biblical women. It is something that truly opened my eyes, and has me firmly grasping the 25th verse of that last chapter, where it states:

She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come.

It’s a powerful reminder to wrap yourself in strength daily as a woman, to put on dignity as if it were clothing for you. We laugh at the days to come, not because of our circumstance, but knowing Who we trust ourselves to in those circumstances.

Photo property of Sara Stacy.
Photo property of Sara Stacy.

I would encourage you if you have not read this, to pick it up. It will challenge your thoughts and beliefs on what Biblical womanhood actually is and how you are living it within your life currently. I also had the pleasure, in the midst of reading her book, to hear Rachel speak and meet her afterwards. She talked extensively about her book, and some of the high and low points of it. Something she reiterated and it has carried into my thoughts even this week is thatIt is not about what you do but how you do it.

I don’t know about you all, but that’s something I often need reminding, especially as a woman. I try to do it all, and I mean all…and fail miserably because of the perspective in how I approach it all. So instead I have decided to make a concerted effort to look at how I am doing it and not at the what I am doing. I hope that maybe today you will too. But pick up her book, and go see her speak if she’s in your area anytime soon, because she truly is a woman of valor in tackling such a topic like Biblical womanhood, especially in the Bible belt.  Eschet chayil!

Top Five Friday-Booky Bookerson

So for those of you who know me, you know I am an avid reader and Learner is my soaringly high number one strength. So today, on my top five Friday I thought I would share some of my favorite books as of late…with all this extra time from my sad lonely single life I lead I have had alot of time to read. (ha!)

1. The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas
As what typically happens, many of my reads come from the lovely Hanna. She mentioned one day that she and her man friend were reading it together. So I grabbed it to see what I could glean from it. I do have to recommend this book to every single, dating, engaged person I know. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I tweeted about it while I was reading last month.

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

You talk about a game changer of a book. He and his wife Kathy co-wrote this and let me tell you how much it shook my foundation. There was a night when I wanted to chuck it across the room. But it’s so worth it to dive into what the meaning of marriage is from a faith lens and really see where God is using and moving you as a person and as a husband or wife.

3. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

I got this for my birthday a couple of months ago but I just cracked it open now. Good stuff, I like her heart and mind on having a community and life around the table. In all honesty, that’s what I want for my life…joining community around food and loving the growth from it.

4. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud

Another game changing book. One that I know for me had me pushing back in life…recognizing boundaries are needed in some places and that it’s okay to say so. It’s alright to say this far and no farther. It makes me feel like I’m in The Lord of the Rings sometimes (You shall NOT pass!) but it’s ultimately for everyone’s good.

5. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I love the Mortal Instruments series, and sadly it’s the only fiction I have been enjoying as of late since I am rereading the series. While some people mocked the movie, if you have read the books, it made sense the way they did it. I encourage these books alot since it’s not like Twilight and the female lead is actually rather strong and independent.

 

Others on my list to read: Think by John Piper, God and Football by Chad Gibbs (that one is loaned out currently), and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

So what are you reading? Share below and be entered to win The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas! Happy Friday!