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How a book is ruining my life…

Such a simple task I was given, a fun one even, but I found myself wondering the aisles of CVS with my brain and heart pinging against each other.  Will I ever be the same?  Will I ever be able to go back?  I’m not sure.  I think I’m ruined.  The conundrum that plagued me; buying makeup.  But not just buying everyday makeup.  Buying makeup for girls who have been rescued from sex-trafficking.  What a fun opportunity to get to bless these young women who have endured horrible, inexcusable pain.  So I walked in and my typical cheap, uber money-conscious self walked straight to the dollar shelf.  My hand was practically hovered over a $2 foundation when I heard myself wonder “Would you buy that for myself?”  There are many cheap things that I willingly don on a regular basis.  But foundation is not one of them.  We women know the perils of cheap foundation.  Dry, cake-y, streaky, nightmares upon our skin.  The chance of a breakout alone is not worth the pretty price tag.  The answer was no.  No I wouldn’t wear it.  So why would I so willingly get it for someone that I would consider “less fortunate.”  If the second commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31) then why do I willingly jump to the cheap rack?  So that I can get more things and feel better about myself?  I could buy 5o things for $50 or I could buy 12 higher quality items for the same. Why would I pick the former as the best option?

I blame Jen Hatmaker.  Her book “7” has put me to thinking about every move that I make.  I already made the decision not to get pajamas at H&M for these girls.  The idea of buying clothes from a sweatshop for girls who were rescued from similar situations seemed a bit counterintuitive.  How can I justify the celebration of freedom when it another is still in bondage?  Ouch.  So many jabs in the gut over this.  It’s a balance and yet it’s not.  I could go crazy over each purchase I make wondering the ramifications of my decisions.  Or I could just be more conscious about the decisions that I do make.  Sometimes being a good steward doesn’t just mean being a good steward of finances.  Sometimes it means being a good steward of time, relationships, and choices.

The book “7” taught me to be a conscious consumer as well as a conscious Christian.  How am I hurting when I want to help?  How are my decisions effecting others.  What can we all do to love our neighbor in the same way that we love ourselves?

(Side note:  I highly recommend the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker to you.  But be forewarned that you will clean out your closets and inevitably become a crazy person by world’s standards)

Confessions of a Book Nerd…

My name is Bekah and I’m addicted to reading.  I know this is probably a great problem to have, but perhaps it has gotten a little out of hand.  Between the wonderful ebook and audiobook selection at the library (hurray for not having to leave the house) and my constant pillaging through amazon, I have accumulated quite the list lately.

Remember how my goal this year was to read 26 books?  Well I hit 27 books on July 31st.  Yea guys, I’ve ready 27 books so far this year.  For the sake of full disclosure, I have read 24 books since May.  MAY!  I know this is pretty typical of some people, but this is a lot for me!  It’s to the point where I feel weird if I’m not listening to an audiobook while cooking or cleaning…

Anyway, I’m not going to share the full list of 27 books with you.  But I am going to let you know what my top 10 favorites have been!  So here we go.

1.  “Soul Keeping” by John Ortberg

Favorite Quote:  “What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become”

This book guys, it’s amazing.  It was refreshing and challenging in the best possible ways.  John Ortberg wrote one of my all time favorite books “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” and I’ve been a huge fan of his since.  If you realize that the rhythms of your life are becoming taxing to your soul, this book is for you!

2.  “Anything” by Jennie Allen

Favorite Quote: “The idea that we would actually hand it all over to God and say, “Go. Build it. Do whatever you want with all I have” . . . it is terrifying.”

Bonus Quote:  “We move and love and restore not to matter but because we have been moved, loved, and restored.”

I read this book in a whirlwind of 6 hours and it is by far one of my favorite books.  The concept of saying “Ok, God, I will do Anything” is scary and vulnerable in the best possible ways.  Jennie brilliantly tells us what it looks like to live life in light of eternity.  Life is so short in comparison and living in complete abandon is totally worth it.  My favorite part of all of it is that “Anything” looks different for each person.  For some it means “move to Africa” whereas others it could mean moving in to help an aging parent.  But surrender and obedience is the objective.  Surrendering to someone else’s calling is not obedience! Sigh, Just, GAH!  This book is so so good I could not possibly recommend it enough.

3.  “Jesus is_____.”  by Judah Smith

Favorite Quote:  “The greatest hindrance to recieving the grace of God is not their scandalous sins- it’s their empty good deeds.”

I’ve read a LOT of Christian and Theology books in the past 8 years because of school.  If I’m being honest, there is nothing in this book that I would consider new revelation to me or something I had never heard before.  But this is the book that I want to have 10 copies of to give out to people who are new to Jesus and just figuring things out.  It is so concise and Judah Smith is so easy to follow that another title for this book could be “the ABCs of who Jesus is.”  I totally recommend reading it and then giving a copy to everyone you know.

4.  “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan

Favorite Quote:  “There were times in my life when I had one thing to do all day, but I still couldn’t get to it. “I gotta go to the post office, but I’d probably have to put on pants. And they’re only open till five. Looks like I’m going to have to do that next week.”

This book is hilarious.  I will fully admit that the above quote depicts my life more than I would really care to admit.  This was one of the books I listened to on audiobook and I recommend doing the same.  Jim Gaffigan is just hysterical and I’m not sure I would have gotten the full comedic effect had I tried to read the book instead.  This book is truly so so funny and the audiobook is only 5hours long.  Get it!

5. “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst

Favorite Quote:  “Knowledge is wisdom that comes from acquiring truth. Insight is wisdom that comes from living out the truth we acquire. Discernment is wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit’s reminders of that knowledge and insight.”

I am not the person who has a problem saying “no” to things.  I know a lot of people who overwhelm their schedules with things that suck the life out of them because they have a hard time saying no.  I’m not that person so I really thought this book wasn’t going to be for me.  But it was.  Because sometimes I say no to things that are still good in the fear that it will suck away my soul too.  The balance is knowing when to say yes and when to say no.  This is another easy read and I highly recommend it.

6.  “The Next Generation Leader” by Andy Stanley

Favorite Quote:  “A leader is someone who has the courage to say publicly what everybody else is whispering privately. It is not his insight that sets the leader apart from the crowd. It is his courage to act on what he sees, to speak up when everyone else is silent. Next generation leaders are those who would rather challenge what needs to change and pay the price than remain silent and die on the inside.”

I love Andy Stanley’s leadership podcast and listen to it regularly.  So I knew I needed to read this book and it did not disappoint.  He covers 5 different areas of effective leadership and I found myself going “YES!” over and over.  I’ll definitely be using this as a leadership training tool, a reminder to myself as a leader, and a rubric for leaders over me.

7.  “Garlic and Sapphires” by Ruth Reichl

Favorite Quote:  ““While cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures… The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions.”

If you know me, you know that the kitchen is my favorite place to be.  I love food and eating and learning about food.  This book was right up my alley!  Ruth Reichl is a former food critic for the NY Times and this book is about that time in her life.  It is such a fun read!  She talks about her different experiences as she dressed in disguise in order to give untainted reviews to the people of New York.  This book is light and fun and will truly make you hungry.

 

8.  “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker

Favorite Quote:  “God does not change, but He uses change—to change us. He sends us on journeys that bring us to the end of ourselves. We often feel out of control, yet if we embrace His leading, we may find ourselves on the ride of our lives.”

This book is similar to Jennie Allen’s “Anything” the biggest difference being that Jen Hatmaker tells more about her personal story.  She talks about how different her plans were from Gods and how complete surrender has radically changed her life.  It’s great!  She’s so raw that I felt like listening to a friend talk about her journey.

9.  “Yes, Please!” by Amy Poehler

Favorite Quote:  “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

I love Amy Poehler.  This book is as funny as you would expect it to be.  But I was also pleasantly surprised to see how inspiring it was.  She talks about her work ethic and why women should support each other.  Really great stuff.  I also really enjoyed reading her birthing plan.  That alone is worth getting the book in my opinion.

 

10.  “This Time Together” by Carol Burnett

Favorite Story:  When she almost peed her pants while talking to Marlin Brando on the phone.

I love Carol Burnett.  I blame this on my mother.  She obviously wasn’t really on the TV when I was young, but I was exposed to enough clips of her show to appreciate it.  Of course, I also appreciated her role as Miss Hannigan in the film adaptation of the musical  “Annie”.  This is also one I recommend listening to on Audio book because her stories in her voice just felt like listening to a wise person telling you about their life.  I loved hearing about her first days in Hollywood and her days in New York.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Carol, you will truly adore this book!

 

Tell me, what books have you been reading lately and love?  I’m needing more ideas to feed my reading obsession!

 

I Took Down My Christmas Tree…

I would hope that through our time together thus far that you have learned that more often than not, I am a HOT MESS!  Like truly.  I have never been the girl that has her act fully together, although I truly like to think that I do.  I am the girl who unknowingly has chocolate frosting smeared down her shirt or shiny McDonald’s hash brown lips.  I would say the best way to characterize someone that is a hot mess would be someone who is going through every day life being awkward without even realizing it.  I am the epitome of a hot mess.

Case in point, I took down my Christmas tree THIS WEEK.  Yes, it was still up.  Yes, I am fully aware that it is February.  And if I’m being honest, really the only reason I took it down is because my mom is visiting and she came for Christmas 2 months ago and I could not bare the laughter that would ensue had my Christmas tree remained in the corner of my living room through the duration of BOTH of her stays.  No no, it had to come down.

The ridicule that comes from being a hot mess is silent.  It’s silent because no one (*cough other than me*) publicizes that they are, in fact, a hot mess.  No one else would tell people that they wake up at 2am, can’t get back to sleep so they stand with the refrigerator door open eating cold risotto from the dish.  These aren’t the things we see when we are scrolling through our instagram feed.  Nope.  No way.  Instead we see the perfectly crafted and photographed day-before picture of plated risotto goodness.  Not the walk-of-shame version of our favorite foods which do, in fact, taste so much better cold straight from the pan at 2 in the morning.

So here’s the point I’m getting at.  I enjoy hot mess stories more than I enjoy the posed stories.  I appreciate the “I rubbed a candle on my wrist because I ran out of perfume” stories.  I relate to the “I used a sharpie as eyeliner today” stories.  Why?  Because my first reaction to these stories is OH THANK GOD I’M NOT ALONE!  Perfectionism is overrated.  I used to strive for perfectionism but now I realize… it’s just not gunna happen.  I am still and will likely forever be the girl with a stain on her shirt and I’m proud to know who I am.

Jewels in the Mud…

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In my world, Sundays are crazy.  I run around like a crazy person for 8 hours.  I get sweaty, I lift a lot of heavy things, I deal with a lot of paperwork.  I get done and am completely drained.  Like, “can’t feel my legs after I sit for 20 minutes” kind of drained.  I battle with my perfectionism, my natural traits of seriously rude bossiness, and I pull out of the parking lot reflecting on at least 50 things I could and should have handled differently.  Sundays are hard for me in a myriad of ways.  Mainly because after a Sunday, I am really hard on myself.  My exhaustion during the day causes me to be less like Christ than I anticipate.  It’s difficult for me to find myself in places where I am made aware of how hopelessly human I am.  Sundays are those days for me.

But then there are moments like jewels in the midst of mud where I realize that the work is worth it.   I hear deeply personal stories of families broken by divorce and watching God restore them.  I see the people finding community among each other; sharing their triumphs and trials of the week.  I watch people laugh together, drink coffee together.  I watch people cry on each other’s shoulders.  I see people in tight huddles with heads bowed aching for Christ and helping one another find Him.  I can stop and look around the room and see the “why”.  The people are the “why.”  Each individual story of how they found us is the “why.”

Every week as we drive to church, I pray “God, show me that it’s worth it today.” Every week, my husband and I share our “worth it” moment.  It always moves me to tears.  God’s beauty in the midst of my sloppiness.  That in the midst of my hustle, people are finding love.  That God will take the time to show me the jewels in the midst of the mud.  It makes the “why” so entirely worth it.  It makes waking up completely sore and downing protein drinks every Monday worth it.  I’m grateful for this season.   I’m grateful that I serve an awesome, loving, gracious God who will take people out of their way to find the lost sheep.  I’m grateful for the “mud”; that God is willing to look past my humanness and use me to help the jewels find Him.