Book Review:  Restless

Book Review: Restless

I read this book recently as part of a bible study I participate in with two friends.

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We would read a couple chapters each week and then meet via Google chat to discuss.

I thought this was a good book to do in a group setting. It is broken up into three different parts. There are worksheets throughout the book that provide you with reflection questions in a journaling format. I liked this set up because it gave you room to write how the topic applied to you and gave you guidance on things you should be thinking about or discussing.

I enjoyed this book, and it came at a time that I was still unsure of what my future held. We started reading it well before I had a job, and there were a lot of things still up in the air.

This book focuses on how each of us have different threads of our life that are woven together for God’s plan. We may not always see how they fit together initially and may seem random, but God has intentionally made you a certain way for HIS glory.

You talk about your gifts and your times of suffering. Everything is deliberate, even if we may not see the reason right now. This book was a good reminder for me that I needed to trust and know that everything happens for a reason. (Cliche but true.) If you take the questions seriously, you take a look at your fears and insecurities, and see how they have a purpose in molding you into a specific person.

I also really love the story of Joseph, and it was used as an example throughout this book. He suffered a lot, but always remained faithful to God’s plan for him.

Jennie Allen is a great writer too. She wrote with conviction and a realness. You could relate to her stories and comments, which I always find helpful when discussing my faith. I think all too often we put faith in these perfect boxes of how it should look and sometimes it is great to talk about the hard sides of it all. We aren’t always perfect especially in those times of trial, but all we can do is push forward.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

“…you exist for specific purposes and no one else can live them like you.”

“God is quiet and completely wise in his timing of revealing his will.”

“Fires are lit in our lives, and they can burn to shine light or cause destruction. We get to decide which purpose they will serve.”

“We can do one of two things with suffering:  we can absorb it and let it change us, or we can let it crush us.”

“God is accomplishing a thousand tiny purposes at any given moment around us.”

“We are scared that God’s dreams may not be as cool as the ones we create in our minds for ourselves.”

And some bible verses:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Col. 3:12-15) (This was part of our wedding service, so I hold this one dear.)

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb. 11.1)

This was a humbling book. And as Jennie put it, “This is a book about discovering ourselves and getting over ourselves all at the same time.”

I think we often get in our own way when we are struggling or succeeding. This was a reminder to always have faith and trust in HIS plans. It was a reminder that we do have a purpose even if it may not seem glamorous or grandiose. I need to let go of my preconceived notions and my control (when I didn’t really have it in the first place).

I recommend this for any small groups or even if you want to do some self reflection on your own. I do think it is geared towards women, but I think males would enjoy the concepts too.

This review sums up my own opinions. I was not contacted by anyone associated with these works or compensated for my review. My review has not been influenced by anything other than my love for entertainment and art.

Have you read any good devotional books lately?

Servant of the Lord

I am co-hosting the Faith and Fellowship devotional with the wonderful Susannah from Simple Moments Stick.

I just love her, and really look up to her in so many areas, so you should check her out! The Servant of the Lord We chose to focus on several verses in Luke that focus on Mary’s honor and submission to the Lord. We would love for you to reflect on Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-38.

I picked out a couple key ones here.

Luke 1:30-31 “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”

Luke 1:46-55 “And Mary said:

My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindul of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generation will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Can you imagine being told as a 16 year old your fate is to be the mother of God?

Here Mary is 16 and engaged to Joseph who is a carpenter (which was not a high class job back in biblical times). Up shows an angel saying she was going to miraculously become pregnant without having sex with Joseph.

Now let’s look at some of the context:

  • Mary was a woman, which in those days did not mean much. Women’s rights was not even a thought. So to be the mother of all mothers, just hold on a second.
  • She was a virgin, so if she said she was pregnant don’t you think most people think she cheated on Joseph? Thoughts of others perceptions would have started creeping in.
  • She said she talked to Angels. Even for biblical times, most people would think that she was cuckoo.
  • There was a census going on, which meant some heaving traveling for Mary and Joseph.
  • The Romans and Jews were not exactly friends. So who would want to raise a child in that madness without the choice to plan for it?

I am sure that these are just some of the thoughts that went through her mind as the angel told her what her destiny was. Not to mention adding on the normal stress that a mother has for her first born and embarking into the unknown territory of parenthood.

If you were to think about all these what ifs that faced Mary, I think it is safe to say that most of us would say “Are you sure you want me? I am not so sure about this God. You must have gotten the wrong lady.”

I am sure that Mary envisioned her life going drastically differently. Raising a humble Jewish family was nothing unusual, right? She had plans.

Then God revealed the plans he had for her life, meaning that Mary’s original plan disappeared.

Mary didn’t put up a fight or rebel against the plans of the Lord. She didn’t just ignore what had been said to her. She said, “He is merciful…and I am blessed.” Her faith was remarkably large.

She prepared herself for the coming of the Lord. She humbly accepted what God planned for her because she knew her heart belonged to Him. She was a servant to the Lord. The ultimate follower.

She recognized God’s love and mercy, and knew that all things were possible through God. She had such unabashed faith that

He would provide despite her seemingly unbelievable situation.

He would provide a baby…even though she had never had sex.

He would get Joseph on board…even though it may seem to others that Mary cheated.

He would help them arrive in Bethlehem safely for the census…even though it meant months of traveling pregnant.

He would make it possible for Jesus to be born in a barn…even though it was filthy and not as sanitary or safe as a new mother would hope.

He would keep Jesus alive…even though there was child persecution going on in the country.

He has plans for us, whether we see them or not. We just need to have faith and trust as Mary did. This is a faith I hope to have, and continue to challenge myself to lift my heart up as Mary did.

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Glinn Photography

 

We have turned Christmas into a stressful, go-go-go, hustle and bustle time. We have also sanitized the nativity scene by making it perfectly pristine. While it is beautiful, it has become easy to forget the details of the story. We often just see the glow and the end result, and forget the most unlikely situations that the Holy family found themselves in before the birth.

I love thinking about these scriptures, and reminding myself that this is supposed to be a holy time and time to celebrate the gift of life. It is a time of hope.  While we celebrate the blessing of the birth of Jesus and what his life means to us as followers, I feel that it is important to think about the servant hood of Mary during this time as well.

God shows up in the most unlikely places, and in the most unlikely people to do His Heavenly work.

In my own life when there is much uncertainty, I am reminded to have hope and faith. My life may not look as I had once hoped, but in the moments of “Are you sure about this God?” I need to remember that he will provide.

I want to still be cognizant of ways to be a servant to him for I am still truly blessed. I know He has plans for me. I need to take a cue from Mary and just trust.

“If you are faithful, God will honor you.”

We would love to hear what you have to say in reflection of these passages. Join us for this devotion and link up with us below!