Here are a few favorite quotes from two books I recently finished:
Over the past few years reading has become a favorite activity. As cliche as it may sound it really does open my mind and heart to worlds outside my own and I love it. I also have found it to open my eyes to myself.
Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger
Both of these are true in the book “Imperfect Courage” that I mentioned in last Wednesday’s post. Wow. This books is blowing me away as it speaks into my life. There are many things I could share, but perhaps the one that currently stands out most is this:
In this book about being courageous, taking risks, and making an impact in the world, Jessica shares that perhaps the most crucial element toward success is community. We are not designed to live in isolation, yet our hearts default to comparison, judgment, self-doubt, fear, and shame.
When I read this quote pictured above about vulnerability, suddenly it all made sense. God had been showing me the truth of these sentences time and time again over the past few years. What a joy to look back and see Him at work.
In my decision to become “mom” for 10 months to a 17-year old from another country, a group of incredible women created space for me to process life vulnerably. A Facebook message feed was filled with empathy, grace, and encouragement as I walked through the single-first-time-mom-of-a-teenager life, wrestled with doubts that came up, struggled with insecurity every step of the way, and did battle with the devil and all his lies.
When I waited for six months wondering if I had cancer, anticipating surgery, and still figure out how my body is adjusting to life missing half of a gland that impacts every major organ in my body, my family, friends, teammates, and even strangers rallied around, covered work tasks, sat in waiting rooms, showed up on tear-filled nights, celebrated good news, provided meals, and so much more.
When I get overwhelmed by ministry life, doubt if God has the right girl for the job, or feel as if the work I put in day after day after day might be in vain, God shows up in communities of fellow DCEs and campus ministry leaders and comments from students congregation members to encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I am so, so thankful for spaces where vulnerability is not only welcomed but expected. In each of those situations though, I couldn’t have been shown the encouragement or empathy I needed if I didn’t take the courage to share. Met there with grace and Hope and love, I do see how God tears down the lies Satan uses to trap our hearts and replaces them with truth that launch us into the bold, crazy, awesome life He has for each of us.
I’m looking forward to continuing through this book and processing what it means for the next season of my life.
Other things I’m reading:
The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
- This is an audiobook I finished on 8/25. As someone who always claimed to not love history, I realized in listening to this book that that’s simply not true. I was not good and did not enjoy learning history the way in which it was often taught in schools, but if a teacher would have handed me a book like this I would have eaten up every fact!)
- I’ve had this one on my shelf at work for over a year at the recommendation of a friend. I’m thankful to finally get to read it and for books where people courageously share their stories.
- This is an ebook I’ve been coming back to here and there for a while. I love it each time I read a section, but find it’s one that takes some processing time, not one to sit down and get through in one shot.
- I missed listening to audiobooks this summer. My default is to have one constantly on hand to listen to in the car or while doing dishes or housework. This summer my mind needed that space away from noise. I’m excited to get back into this habit that allows me to get through typically at least one book a week even if I don’t have time to sit down and read. Looking forward to hearing the brave story of this young woman, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
My friend and teammate Sue has been sharing on her blog about each of the books she finishes. As I try to re-enter the blogging world after the summer away for the most part, I thought I could spin off that idea and use Wednesdays (or at least some of them) to share about some of the books I’m currently reading or recently finished. We’ll see how it goes!
Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (Finished)
This fun but deep little story was worth the wait at the library. I about just bought it on Amazon but I’m glad I didn’t. This was the perfect old library book (still with a library checkout card pocket) that begged to be enjoyed while curled up in a fuzzy blanket. Throughout it we follow the main character named Much Afraid on her journey of following the Shepherd eventually to the High Places. Despite leading her ways she didn’t expect and coming against her enemies like Bitterness, Resentment time and again, Much Afraid journeys on with her travel companions Sorrow and Suffering. While obviously fiction, there were a few specific parts that God used as neat and necessary reminders for my own journey through life. Definitely worth a read and may find my way back to it again at some point.
Juba! by Walter Dean Myers (42% read)
This young adult novel is based on the life of a talented and passionate dancer from the nineteenth century. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m glad I found this one as an audiobook, it’s definitely a fun listen! I’m also thankful for things I’m learning about various cultures, ethnic groups, and art forms, and time periods just by listening. This is what reading is all about, right? One example is that Juba is a young black man living in NYC among mainly immigrant neighbors during a time when the threat of being captured and taken to slavery in the south was a real concern. So many layers of things to learn about and reading Juba makes that process engaging! Looking forward to continuing to listen.
Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honegher (Just starting)
This one I just cracked open last night, so I don’t have much to say about it yet. However, as I begin a new year of ministry, start the process of buying a house, get ready to travel solo to Iceland and the Faroe Islands in October to visit my exchange daughter and a few other things, the concepts of “imperfect courage” and “going scared” seemed appropriate. This sentence from the book description especially caught my attention “But refusing to let fear hinder her goals, Jessica found the necessary (if imperfect) courage she needed along the way–the courage to leave comfort and embrace a life of risk and impact.”
I’m hoping and anticipating it will include parts of her own story and I always love to hear people’s stories! Also, I have a good feeling about a book that includes on its first page this awesome quote by this “very famous person”:
“The path to success is straight, and the experience of walking it is marked by both confidence and clarity.” – No One, Ever
Well there you have it… a first installment of “What I’m Reading Wednesday!” What are YOU reading?
As a person who generally does not make habit of reading the forwards to books, I’m extremely glad that I actually read the one at the front of Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. This entire book has grabbed my attention and my heart. I’m sure I will share other parts of this book as I continue reading, but for today I just can’t stop thinking about the very first paragraph of the forward by Beth Clark:
“People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.”
What so captured my attention about this paragraph is how well it lines up with First Trinity‘s Core Value that “all people matter” and directly connected it to the idea of “transforming our world” in our mission statement. We also see through this that a transformation of our world is actually possible when we focus on doing so–as both our mission statements and the forward to this book suggest–one life at a time.
Author Katie Davis, a 22-year old American mother to thirteen (yes, you read that right, THIRTEEN) adopted Ugandan children and founder of Amazima Ministries in Uganda, is one of those world-changers… and she does it one life at a time.
Later on in her book she shares some humbling statistics of people living in poverty around the world:
143 million orphaned children + 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases + 8.5 million who work as child slaves or prostitutes + 2.3 million children who live with HIV
= 164.8 million needy children in the world.
As Katie says in her book, “At first glance that looks like a big number…” I agree. It seems like an impossible number, a number to big to wrap our minds around, and a number that surely I can’t do anything about!
However, 2.1 BILLION people on this earth claim to be Christians. “The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for ONE child, there would not be any statistics left.”
EIGHT PERCENT! That’s all it would take.
Do you truly believe that all people matter? Who’s life can you change today? Maybe it’s a smile and kind word to the cashier that seems to be having a bad day. Maybe it’s a hug for a grieving friend or a hot meal for someone hungry. Or maybe it’s sponsoring a child in Haiti or Uganda or even the US to go to school and be fed or rescuing a child out of sex trafficking. One life at a time, we can transform our world, through the power of God’s Living Word along with the gifts and talents, passions and desires, resources and time he’s given us. Will you join me?
Let’s change the world and love as Jesus did, living with the conviction that
“I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian.” ~ Katie Davis
I was just wandering through Dollar Tree trying to find the something I needed when I heard the conversation. They were just two twenty-somethings co-workers trying to pass time as they restocked the shelves.
“Oh did I tell you…” one asks the other as if she’s simply going to state some random fact about her exciting Friday night plans or something. But as she continues I realize the news she’s sharing with her friend is anything but exciting.
“… my mom just found out that my dad’s had a girlfriend for like five months.”
“I’m never getting married!”
“There’s nothing anyone could ever say to me to make me believe they actually mean ‘forever’. Forever is a long time.”
And the conversation was over as quick as it started.
My heart broke for these women… probably my age or even a few years older who had just completely given up on the idea of ever getting married because of the hurt they’ve experienced and the simple “fact” that there that there could never be anything that’s “forever.”
I don’t think it would have caught me so much had it not been for a book I’m reading called “In Real Time:Authentic Young Adult Ministry as it Happens” by Mike Glenn. The conversation I witnessed this evening very well could have been an example in either of the two chapters I read earlier today. In one of the chapters, the book was describing a demographic of young adults who have been let down by authority figures in their lives. If those authority figures claimed Christianity, then they soon formed this idea that Christianity didn’t mean much.
“They have watched the way their parents lived out faith and have, by and large, decided it was not for them. They didn’t see a faith that works modeled at home. They saw materialism, divorce, and ambition dealt with in a way that was not significantly different from there secular friends’ families.
Now I’m not saying every young adult had a horrible life growing up or that most parent were bad parents. I know plenty of parents, including my own for whom that is anything BUT the case. But as I interacted with my peers in high school and college (especially as an RA and RC) and as I interact with high school and young adults everyday in my job and hear them talking about their lives and their friends’ lives, I’m realizing more and more that these generations of youth and young adults truly are in general very jaded and broken.
These young adults may have had everything materially or when it comes to opportunities, but feel abandoned.
“So the young adult knows only ‘I don’t want to live like that.’ The problem is you can’t live against. You have to live for. But most of them don’t know what ‘for’ is.
The book goes on to describe the reality for many young adults who missed some crucial affirmation from parents or other significant adult figures and while it truly may not have been a big deal then, as they seek to find identity and a purpose in life, they are left confused and wandering.
“During a child’s life there are several important moments when a parent, grandparent, or significant adult speaks a ‘you are’ phrase to the child. The adult will say, ‘You are smart,’ or ‘you are pretty’ and that statement becomes part of that child’s identity. …
If, however, the significant adult is absent for any reason and the ‘you are’ statement goes unspoken, children begin a quest to find out who they are. … The media is filled with all kinds of messages to a young adult on this quest, but instead of ‘you are’ statements, our culture sends ‘you are not’ statements. The magazines tell our young women they are not thin enough, not pretty enough, not sensuous enough. The epidemic of eating disorders is just one of the tragic consequences of a young adult looking for a ‘you are’ validation, only to hear, ‘you are not.’
Young men… as well hear ‘you are not’ in many ways throughout our culture.
The gospel is filled with ‘you are’ statements. You are chosen, beloved, called, redeemed. … Yet, many people assume, with some justification, that if they come to church, the only message they’re going to hear is ‘you are not.’. You are not ‘doing enough for God.’. You are not ‘good enough.’. Many young adults actually think that going to church will not only not help them but will actually do them more harm. In their minds the church has become another voice of judgment and condemnation, a constant and painful reminder of all the ways they fall short.
So what’s all this mean?!? Why write all this?!?
First, to say THANK YOU!
Thank you Mom and Dad for showing me an example of what it means to be faithful to each other and for living out your faith, even in (especially in) the hard times.
Thank you to all the people who have also done that as well as those who have spoken ‘you are’ statements into my life as I found (and continue to find!) my identity.
Second, if you ever have opportunities to speak words of grace into another human being (no matter what their age)… DO IT! You may be the only positive, life-giving voice in their life and even if you’re not, can you ever have enough encouragement?
Third, let’s make sure as Christians wherever we are, we’re proclaiming the true “you are” statements into people’s lives and strip away any hint of judgment or condemnation that tries to sneak in.
Lastly, I challenge us all to live out your faith in front of each other. Especially those of you who are married… model this for your children (and for people that aren’t your children.) If you’re working through a struggle in life, don’t try to act as if everything’s perfect… Let people see you turning to God in prayer. Let them see you broken and weak and real… needing a Savior. Believe it or not, doing that may be the very thing that could give someone like those girls in the store tonight hope… Hope for a marriage someday, but more importantly, hope in
something Someone who really does mean it when He says “I love you forever!”
A while ago I started reading the book Sticky Faith. I’ve picked it up again now that we’re through the busy holiday season and continue to love what I read. This book is based on the results of a 4-year longitudinal study (which, for those of you who may not be as passionate about psychology, sociology, and research like I am, means meaning they followed the same people over the course of 4 years to get their data). They interviewed, surveyed and used various other methods of research to gather data from youth group members during their senior year of high school and then the three years after that with the goal of figuring out what makes faith “stick” (or not stick) in their lives.
You can expect more posts about this as I read through the book, but today I wanted to point to a blog post on the Sticky Faith Blog. The author of this post was responding to a previous post discussing young adults leaving the church. Some of the comments made by him and others sound a bit harsh at first, but I believe there is some truth in the statements as well for the Body of Christ as whole. One particular comment that caught my attention was this:
… if you’re a church member or leader, please take a hard look at the ways that you might have allowed your community to become unwelcoming and maybe irrelevant to younger folks. Maybe it’s not so much that young folks have abandoned the church, but that the church has abandoned them.
As for First Trinity, my experience is that this is a place that is very welcoming and relevant to all types of people from all different age groups. This comes through even in the story statements that sort of “define” this place:
- All People Matter
- Rooted and Relevant
- Celebrating Life Together
With that though, there is always room for growth. I want to constantly be on the lookout for ways we can help these three statements be even more true in this place for even more people. I’m not sure of the answers, but I’m excited to continue to read more of this book, do some research of our own in our context and see what things we can do to help faith “stick” in the lives of youth, young adults… and really all of us. I challenge you to do the same!