Tag Archives: reading

5 Things I Learned In November

5 things I learned in november

1. I actually really like wearing scarves. I found one from fashionABLE (if you’re not already familiar with them, you should definitely check them out!) this year that I love and have been wearing constantly. And I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

2. I started reading the Mary Poppins book series and they are crazy fun! It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, so I have no idea why I haven’t ever read the books before. AND, did you know that there’s a new movie coming out (Saving Mr. Banks) about the author of Mary Poppins and how the story got turned into a movie? I’m a little excited about it!

3. My theology is less than perfect. Sometimes I fear it may be more than just a little out of whack. But God is still sovereign. And there’s sweet grace in the correction.

4. The afternoon at the barn with Emily P. Freeman and her sister, the Nester, and their families was so worth it. If you haven’t read my post about it yet, you should. And now I’m trying to figure out how to make available a few hours of more intentional soul space on a regular basis. Because it’s important. And necessary.

5. One of the things I am most thankful for (all the time really, but especially in this current season) is the constancy of Christ.

What did you learn in November?

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*linking up today with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky as we all share different things we learned in November*

{Giveaway} Let Hope In

**11.16.13 Update: The two randomly selected winners are #4 (Rebekah) & #10 (Meghan). Congratulations to both of you! Check your email for details. :) Thanks to everyone else who entered…you can find the book here!**

Last month, I had the great privilege and opportunity of participating in the launch team for Pete Wilson’s new book, Let Hope In.

Let Hope In

If you missed my full review, you should definitely go check it out here. Word on the street is that the review was pretty helpful, but I’ll let you be the judge of that for yourself.

I won’t restate my whole review here (because you just clicked over and read it, right?), but in short, I still believe this book is powerful and freeing. For me and for you.

Because over and over again, its message points to the hope and truth of the Gospel.

In every past hurt and future unknown, the cross of Christ is constant.

And it is only in the person of Jesus Christ that we find the hope and freedom, the healing and wholeness, the grace and forgiveness, that we so desperately seek and crave.

“He [Jesus] clearly says, “In me.” When you immerse your current reality into my reality, that is where peace is found.” (p. 74)

Our hope, our future, our being, is secure in Him alone.

Pete outlines the fullness of this truth in four choices:

Choice One: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer

Choice Two: Choosing to Be Okay with Not Being Okay

Choice Three: Choosing to Trust Rather than Please

Choice Four: Choosing to Free People Rather than Hurt Them

And through each of these choices, we are encouraged to let go of who shame tells us we once were or who we think we should be according to our own standards, to lean into Christ, to understand our identity in Him, to trust Him, to walk with Him, to experience the richness and fullness of His presence, to breathe in His grace, and then to pour His love back out onto others.

Here’s how Pete himself says it…

{note: if you’re reading via email or a feed reader, you may need to click over to the actual post to see this video.}

Yes, I am a part of the launch team for this book, but this is a message I firmly believe in sharing. Because this message is literally life-changing!

And because I believe in it so much, I am super excited that the publisher has so generously offered to provide TWO copies to giveaway in this space!

To enter for a chance to win a copy, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book. Or just say hello! Just be sure to use a valid email address, so I can get in touch with you if you’re one of the winners.

You can comment until midnight (EST) on Friday (November 15, 2013), and then TWO winners will be chosen randomly and announced/contacted on Saturday (November 16, 2013).

And just for the record, you can also order the book (or read some other reviews) here.

Jesus > Religion

I don’t remember exactly where or how I first came across it, but it must have been within the first 48 hours of it going viral and I do remember my first reaction after watching Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video.

And that reaction? Well. Honestly, it was mixed.

But before I tell you more, if you haven’t already seen it, you should watch it for yourself:

{Side note: for those reading from a feed reader or via email, you may need to click over to the actual post to view the video.}

I liked a lot of what this guy was saying. I liked the medium he was using. I liked the art he was making. I liked the audience he was reaching. But I didn’t like exactly how he chose some of his wording.

Mostly because I thought he had the potential to spread a really incredible and truth-filled message (um, straight up Gospel!) to a generation that desperately needed to hear it. But I was afraid he would be just another voice coming across as negative and critical of The Church. And that just wasn’t okay.

Even at the time, though, I didn’t necessarily think the heart behind the words was that of a critic, I was just afraid that’s how it would come across, how it would resonate with a generation already prepped for attack. But as he was immediately thrown into a larger spotlight than he (by his own admission) ever expected from one video, and as he handled it with humility and grace well beyond what I would have expected from someone his age, it became pretty clear pretty fast that he had a lot more to say about the truth of the Gospel and walking with Jesus.

And that is where this book comes in. In Jesus > Religion: Why He is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough, Jefferson Bethke gives context to the poem as he tells much of his own story … parts of his past and his journey beyond the shame-inducing rules of religion into a freeing relationship with Jesus.

My story is very different from Jefferson’s. Our backgrounds, our childhoods, our growing-up locations and cultures, our church experiences, and our faith journeys really couldn’t be more different.

And from that perspective, there is much of Jefferson’s story that I just can’t relate to very well. But because of that, he can also speak to a completely different audience than I could ever hope to reach – a young audience who is searching and skeptical and absolutely needs someone who gets them in a way that Jefferson most certainly does – and I love that! This is what being a part of the body of Christ is all about. Because even though we’re speaking to different audiences with different interests and we’re using different language and experiences to do it, at its core, our message is really very much the same: it’s all about Jesus Christ. Who He is and what He’s done.

Through this book – and from what I can tell, through his life – Jefferson starts a conversation with a new generation in a new way of an eternal truth that is not only relevant, but essential. He unashamedly points to Jesus who satisfies our every longing. He passionately talks about radical Grace as someone who has experienced it first hand and knows of its amazing power. And he unapologetically encourages getting past merely following the rules and traditions of religion to actually know the person of Jesus Christ.

To know Him. To follow Him. To trust Him. To live for Him.

To experience the pure freedom and joy in walking out the Gospel.

“That is the scandal of grace. I fully believe that as a Christian you can take advantage of grace, but when you’ve truly tasted it, you never will. When you’ve experienced the joy and life of Christ in you, then nothing is as satisfying anymore.” – Jefferson Bethke

No matter how differently we spread that message to our respective audiences, that is a message I will always stand behind!

If there’s a young person in your life struggling to figure out what living out the Gospel in their everyday is really all about, this book would be a pretty great place for them to start. You can find the book and more info here.

And it would be hard to beat Jefferson’s recommended reading list at the end!

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*note: I received a free copy of Jesus > Religion in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are mine.*

5 Things I Learned in September

5Things - student ministry

1. I can survive a high school ministry lock-in as a leader. And though I may be a little more tired than usual for the following few days, I can love every minute of it because I love them. From the Amazing Race to the GaGa ball tournament to the straight up Gospel presentation at about 1am to the fabulous conversations, we couldn’t have asked for a better night!

2. All “Johnnies” pretty much talk the same. I’m reading “Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World” by N.D. Wilson (who obtained his masters degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD) and it sounds just like having a great conversation with my big brother (who obtained his undergrad degree from St. John’s).

3. Speaking of reading, I’ve discovered how much I really enjoy being a part of book launch teams. Three books in about six weeks (just wait. two more book reviews are coming over the next couple of weeks.) may have been a bit much, but still, all kinds of fun. Working with such generous and genuine authors and having the opportunity to read and share about good books is pretty much a win all the way around.

4. All of my commitments have come under serious scrutiny this month. Basically because I may have slightly over-committed and needed to scale back before I burned-out. So I’ve learned (or maybe I’m still learning…) that what I say “yes” to is important, but what I say “no” to is often equally as important.

And so although it makes me feel a little sad and a little left out, I’m saying no to writing another 31 Days series this October (previous series can be found here and here).

I’ve got a lot going on right now (including going back to Guatemala for a 5 day mission trip next month. woot!), and this is a necessary “no” for my sanity and restedness.

5. And this became one of my favorite songs:

“Our Deliverer. You are Savior. In Your presence we find our strength. Over everything. Our redemption. God with us. You are God with us.”
– God With Us (by All Sons and Daughters)

What did YOU learn in September?

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*linking up today with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky as her community shares different things we learned in September*

Wacky Wednesday

wacky wednesday

On the first Wednesday of each month, my friend and fellow blogger (and soon-to-be World Racer!), Katie Axelson, posts “a collection of real things heard in real conversations during the [previous] month” over on her blog. And this month, for the first time ever, she’s invited us to join her in a link-up, and I’m excited to be joining in the fun!

So here are a few quotable moments I’ve heard in real conversations (or read in real books) during the month of July…

Dad: All your life, you will have moments where you don’t just look dumb, you actually will be dumb. And it’s okay. Really.

Blair: We all need reminders of the truth of the Gospel all the time.

B: Wow. Is that bug on the wall a moth or a bee? … It’s a MEE!

Me: Well, it’s blue-skyish right now, so maybe it won’t storm at all tonight.
Dad: That’s a positive outlook. That’s very Pollyanna of you.
Me: Oh.
Dad: No, that’s great!

1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace … in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Co-worker (completely unintentionally, mind you): I’m so glad my initials aren’t S.A.D. That’s kind of sad.

While driving down the road…
B (excitedly): Oh my gosh!! It’s a white jackass!! It’s SOO cute! Did you see it in that yard?!?

MeMaw: We’re so good we have to borrow trouble.

Paul Angone: “God in His infinite mercy saves us from Syllabus Syndrome … Thank God He didn’t show me the syllabus for my 20s … I would’ve dropped this whole decade like a calculus class and never returned.”

(Side note: This is from Paul Angone’s new book 101 Secrets for Your Twenties. If you’re a twenty-something, I highly recommend you read this book. As in, go get it. Quickly. It’s hilarious and truth-filled and freeing and well worth your time.)

Mr. John (to a roomful of preschoolers): Wisdom means knowing what God thinks and then doing things His way.

Have you overheard anything fun, ridiculous, mind-blowing, or just plain good recently? Share away in the comments or link-up with us!

Thinking & Writing

thinking & writing

I’ve been thinking and writing about several topics lately that are just not fully fleshed out, wrestled out, thought out, prayed out, felt out, and written out enough to post on the blog.

Although I’m completely on board with the idea that done is [often] better than perfect (trust me, I know how ineffective it can be to hold myself to a ridiculous standard of perfection), I also know that sometimes certain topics really are worth the extra time and consideration before publishing.

But I can at least give you an idea of a few topics I’ve been spending a little more time on:

1) Calling

A topic that has interested, fascinated, and baffled me for years. This fact is made obvious by my 31 Day Series I wrote on How to Better Understand our {God Given} Callings back in October 2011. My mind has been back there a lot lately. So I’m spending more time with it again.

2) Dreams / Goals

I know Ive mentioned this before. And I’m still thinking and writing about it. It’s just not organized.

3) Singleness

I’m hesitant to write on this and I’m not even a hundred percent sure why. I’m just not sure what value I have to offer the conversation, but I am single. Have been my whole life. And although I hope marriage is a part of my someday future, I genuinely want to live my single years well. With a Christ-like mindset, a servant heart, and eyes fixed on Him.

So while I continue to process and write about these topics (plus a few more) behind the scenes, I want to hear from you. Really.

What have you been thinking about? Writing about? Reading about? Or even listening to?

It doesn’t have to be serious. I have big plans to start reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain this weekend, so if you’ve been reading any good novels lately, let me know those, too!

Saturday Plans

saturday plans

My Saturday plans pretty much consist of the following:

Drinking coffee in my favorite chair
Doing laundry
Reading something just for fun (probably “The Brothers Karamazov”)
Studying
Cleaning the house … at least parts of it
Watching a movie
Sending a few long over-due emails
Enjoying some much needed down time

What are some of your Saturday plans?

Happy Weekend!