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?
It seems that a couple times a year, I stumble upon this prayer that I once read in a book. And this morning, as I glanced back through some journals, I read it once again.
It’s a bold prayer…
A scary prayer…
A prayer that maybe we don’t really want to pray, because we know God answers prayer…
A beautiful prayer that gets ME out of the way and lets GOD do His work.
And so today, I pray for strength, courage, and GRACE to yet again, pray this prayer:
Challenge me everyday.
Show up every weakness I have.
Play on my vulnerabilities.
Invest me with responsibilities that I might not handle well and
Put me right in the midst of Your salvation drama.
Amen. Let it be so.
So, I just finished reading, Red, the second in Ted Dekker’s Circle Series. These are very interesting books and to be honest I would have NEVER probably picked them up to read on my own, but after the recommendation from many people, I’m reading them. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised. Still at times not what I normally would be reading, but there are such cool pictures of God’s love story intertwined throughout.
There was such a beautiful picture in the last part of this second book that reminded me of HOPE. I’ll try not to give away any of the story in case anyone wants to read this series (which I would recommend by the way). Where I pick up below, the “Jesus” figure in the book is standing with some believers and this conversation takes place…
“Your lives have always been about the Great Romance, and in the days to come you will understand that like never before. Your love will be tested. Others will join you. Some will leave. Some will die. All of you will suffer. [Others] will hate you because their hearts have been stolen and their eyes have been blinded… But … keep your eyes on me until the end…”
“None of us will ever leave you,” Lucy cried.
“Then guard your heart, my princess. Remember how I love you, and love me the same. Always.”
"”You won’t see me again for some time, but you will have my water. … I charge you to bring them to me. One by one, if you must. Show them my heart.”
Now, of course this all makes even more sense if you read the 376 pages leading up to this conversation, but even without the rest of the story, I think it still is a beautiful picture. At least for me, it reminds me of hope in the midst of struggle… when looking at a whole situation seems too overwhelming, Jesus simply calls me to remember his love for me and love him the same.”
God never says there won’t be trial. In fact, he says, “In this world you WILL have trouble.” (John 16:33a). But the cool part is that the verse doesn’t stop there. Jesus continues saying, ‘BUT TAKE HEART, I have overcome the world.” He’s saying, “Keep your eyes on me and I will bring you through. REMEMBER HOW I LOVE YOU. TAKE HEART. FIND HOPE!”
And now he commands us to hand that love… that hope … to others. They might resist as Satan has stolen their hearts and blinded their eyes, but Jesus’ hope, His love, is stronger. He sends us out to bring people to Hope. One by one if we must. We MUST show others our Savior’s heart.
And one day, we’ll celebrate together forever.”
Have you ever felt hopeless… not about your own life, but rather, hopeless about someone else’s situation? You look at the situation and just wish there was SOMETHING…. ANYTHING you could do to help. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know what to say. You long so desperately to give them hope, but aren’t sure how to make that happen.
Maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to DO or SAY anything.
Henri Nouwen puts it this way:
The emptiness of the past and the future can never be filled with words but only by the presence of a man. Because only then can hope be born…
Forgive and Forget. That’s what we’ve all be told since we were two-years old, right? Yet, I don’t know if any of us really are able to truly forget. I’m currently reading a book called, “Every Thought Captive” by Jerusha Clark. It’s about the lies we tell ourselves (or that Satan tries to get us to believe) that keep us from knowing real truth, and specifically, The Truth, Jesus Christ. (Side note: it’s an awesome book that I highly recommend! It’s written for women but has lots of good thoughts for men as well.)
Anyway, today as I was reading in a chapter about genuine forgiveness, the author introduced the concept of “Redemptive Remembering.” The phrase caught my attention and I was excited that she went on to talk about it more.
Through forgiveness, we stay truthful about what happened to us, but we choose to remember with grace. This is redemptive remembering. Remembering redemptively is not part of our human nature but is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. God is in the business of redemption. … Through His grace our emotions, our memory, and our thoughts are transformed. The wounds of our past become the beauty of our future. (pg. 97)
I thought this was a beautiful way to think about the concept of forgiveness. It often seems that we don’t want to forgive someone because we think that lets them off the hook or makes it look like what they did didn’t hurt us at all. We think that we are better off just choosing not to forgive them. In reality though, choosing to not forgive them means that they still have control of our emotions and thoughts… that person ends up with control of us. However, when we choose to forgive, “we participate in a divine miracle.” (pg. 96).
Even if we muster up enough of God’s grace and strength to actually forgive the person, the memory often remains. We maybe able to forgive, but the forgetting part is still really hard. As Clark states,
Remembering an offense is easy. You hear a certain song or run into someone at the movies, and the memories of hurtful words or actions fly – unbidden- into your mind. … Forgiveness does not wipe clean the slate of your mind and heart. Instead, it offers you the chance to remember redemptively. (pg. 97)
Take Joseph, from the Bible for example. Yea, the one whose brothers wanted to kill him because they were jealous that their dad favored him. They didn’t kill him but sold him into slavery instead where he was framed and ended up in jail. Long story short, he eventually became very powerful in Pharoah’s kingdom, second only to Pharoah himself. Later on in the story, the brothers come asking for food because of the famine, not realizing that their brother is the one in charge of the food distribution.
Joseph could have chosen to act in bitterness and unforgiveness toward his brothers. Instead, he chose redemptive remembering. He didn’t ignore what they had done, but instead, chose to see it through the eyes of grace as he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20).
I’m not exactly sure what this looks like in our everyday lives, but I pray that the next time my heart wants to choose bitterness and unforgiveness, I would remember that true freedom is found in forgiveness. I pray that instead of striving unceasingly to “forgive and forget”, that I would ask God to help me forgive and then remember redemptively … seeing those that hurt me through eyes of His grace!
Please show us what true forgiveness looks like so that we can offer it to those around us. When someone does hurt us, help us to remember redemptively just as you remember us through eyes of grace despite how often we hurt you. Thank you for your forgiveness!
In Jesus’ Name,