What I’m reading

My most recent read was a book about the Enneagram (a personality-ish scale that helps reveal blind spots from a Christian perspective) called, “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Susan Stabile. At a girls night a couple months ago, my friend Heather mentioned this book and said she bet she could guess my number (vs letters in the Myers-Briggs). I held up my hand to stop her and told her I had the book reserved at the library and wanted to read it first before I got pegged. A friend at church had recommended it and I’m kind of a junkie for things that help with self-awareness and reveal an opportunity for growth.

I read this on a recent trip with my Dad who is a Myers-Briggs fan thinking I could read aloud sections and we could dissect it together, which we did. It was interesting and I found myself nodding along as it said things like, “this person tends to do this in stress” and “their motivation for doing this is ___” and “if they can try this instead, this could be helpful.” All in all, a good read if you’re into nosing around and getting to know yourself a little better, even the unpleasant parts.

I also read a little Richard Rohr, my first time reading his work, with the book, “Simplicity.” He’s a Franciscan priest and I enjoyed his direct and simple writing that resonated with me. One thing I really liked was when he talked about talking with God and reminded us that God is already in us through the Holy Spirit so really, all we need to do is quiet ourselves enough to hear Him speak. He said it’s so simple that it’s actually hard for people to understand. Last year at church we talked about the whisper of God’s voice and I have found that to be true in my own life. The times I hear most from God is when I’m quiet. Not when I’m like, “Hey God, can you tell me what to do?” (right now, please?). But when my thoughts have run out and I’m just sitting in silence. Sometimes then I can hear a little stirring. His book comes falls in line with things I’ve been interested in lately, like slowing things down to be able to hear from God.

Last month I read “Present over Perfect” which I loved by Shauna Niequist. Such short chapters packed with lessons on dialing back and determining and then focusing on what’s important. I probably liked it because it confirmed a lot of what Andy and I have been working on the past 18 months-2 years or so. Paring down responsibilities so we can see what needs attention. Stepping away from good things, good organizations, and doing the hard work of putting time and energy and lots of communication into our marriage. That’s been a big focus and I’m things are getting better.

I also read, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. My first fiction book of the year, though it was inspired by a true story. I loved this book and parts of it were downright painful to read. I remember stopping reading to squirm a little bit. It takes place in current time and is about current events regarding racism. It is helpful in pointing out white privilege and is something I am working on understanding more. I definitely recommend this book.

Next, I read “Chasing Slow” by Erin Loechner. Sensing a theme after Present over Perfect? Yeah, I like to learn from others on things I’m currently working out in my own life. It’s easy to read, encouraging and well written. She’s an engaging story teller and I felt like I was sitting in her living room just having a real conversation about life- which is pretty much my favorite thing on the planet.

Oh, and in April, I read another Anne Lamott book, “Small Victories.” I can’t get enough of her self-deprecating, refreshing honesty about spirituality, life, and relationships. And it definitely helps that she’s hilarious. I plan to get through all of her books eventually.

That’s what I’ve been reading– how about you? Read anything lately that you really enjoyed? I’m always looking for new recommendations!


Recent Reads- When we were on fire

This spring I started and finished Addie Zierman’s first book in two days, When We Were on Fire: A memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting over.

A friend recommended it to me based on her honesty in the book. My very favorite part was at the end during her Q & A. She was asked, “Where are you now in your spiritual life? What kind of church do you attend? What qualities attracted you to it?”

I would say that I’m still in the place of rebuilding and redefining what I believe. Our church journey was a long, difficult one. The church we ended up at in the final chapters of this book is not the one we attend now- though it was a safe place to land for a while. We connected with a few other couples and had a chance, for the first time, to share our story vocally and honestly. Our years there played a major role in my own journey of relearning to love “Church People” and in making peace with certain aspects of the evangelical world.

The church we’re at now is a small community church, and it’s really not all that different from any other church. But when we walked in, I could feel my heart expanding- and it was almost inexplicable to me, the suddenness of it. The pastor spoke, and he wasn’t saying anything new, but for the first time in years, I could hear it.

And I think in the end, you’re not really looking for “the right church.” You’re looking for yourself. Finding a church is about finding a place where your specific, beautiful heart can hear good news and take it all the way in. A place where they talk about God in a language you understand. A place where you can serve with your whole, broken heart and be healed in all that giving. 

I don’t really know. All I know is that we landed in this tiny church one Sunday morning and I felt entirely myself. And we’ve been there ever since.

This resonated so much with me because I’ve felt that heart expanding feeling before. When I got my driver’s license I visited a new church because it was the first time that I could choose to go somewhere on my own. They met in a large gym and we sat on wooden bleachers and I thought that was cool. I loved listening to the pastor and I remember walking up and challenging him on something he preached a few years later when I was in college. We disagreed, but he was kind. I wandered around a bit but kept coming back there for the next 10 years.

The next time I felt at home at a church was when I walked into a new (to us) church 8 years ago. We were there for five minutes when I turned to Andy and said, “Can we go here?” And we did, for 7 years. And so many wonderful things came out of that time. Deep friendships that feel like family. The opportunity for us each to serve in a bunch of different ways. Years of volunteering with teenagers who are simply amazing and many who have turned into incredible twenty-somethings that we still get to hang out with! There we learned the value of vulnerability by hearing others stories, told openly and honestly and in turn we were able to share our own.

In the last year I’ve felt that heart expanding-ness again at a new church (okay, technically it’s the same first church I found when I was sixteen but it’s changed and I’ve changed in the past 8 years). As I read Addie’s words, they rang so true. I can hear the good news and take it all the way in– in a language I understand and relate to. I look forward to the serving part. It’s been a year with very little volunteering and I think that’s okay. This season has required some extra space for healing.

Thanks Han, for suggesting that book. And thanks, Addie for writing true words.