A Freedom Song

Rebekah Lyons’s book, “You Are Free”, came into my life at exactly the right moment. I call these moments God-ordained, meaning it is only by His divine purpose and intention that this particular event happened at that specific of a time in my life. Much like God would be whispering, “Sarah, ya need to read this. It will awaken some good thoughts within your soul and cause an overflowing song in your heart. Read this now, as it will empower you to draw those around you to Me.”

One of the first excerpts from the book that intrigued me resided on the dust jacket.

“Freedom is for everyone who wants it–the lost, the wounded, and those weary from striving. It’s for those who gave up trying years ago. You are the church, the people of God. You were meant to be free.”

heavenEnticing, yes? As this was only the cover, I wondered what else would I glean from these pages? Rebekah breaks down the book, chapter-by-chapter, and weaves her freedom story beginning in New York, and ending in Franklin, Tennessee. She spans topics such as what it means to have complete freedom in Christ, to what freedom looks like within the context of a believer’s faith. What does freedom look like when I am grieving, when I am waiting, when I am celebrating, when I am resting?

Each chapter unwinds a little more of a freedom song, and one particular passage that echoed truth was titled, Free to Ask (pg. 94-95).

“Maybe you’ve asked God for something, but only heard silence for many years, and it feels like your mustard seed of faith isn’t growing. Maybe you’ve felt faithless and condemned. Or perhaps you’ve felt as if God isn’t interested in what is happening with you. Maybe your heart feels abandoned, rejected.

I don’t know why God answers some prayers immediately and not others. It’s a mystery. What I do know with full assurance is this: God has given us the freedom to ask him for anything–anything. Perhaps in God’s economy what’s most important is that we have the freedom and faith to ask.

What if we lay aside our concern about the results of our prayers?

What if we simply confess and declare what we have been given–the freedom to ask?

What if we begin to confess our needs to God, to ask again, with our whole hearts, for whatever we need?

How many of us are slow to ask, whether out of doubt or fear or even pride?

Asking requires much.

For starters, asking often requires an admission and confession of need, an acknowledgment that all is not well. Asking also requires us to do something, to participate in whatever God wants to do. Finally, asking requires us to entrust what is beyond our control to the One who controls all.”

confessionThis chapter reiterated what I’ve been learning about God, specifically His desire for relationship with us. We are not only allowed to enter into His courts with praise, but also with fear, doubt, the unknowns in life. He longs to hear the desires of our hearts and does not shy away from the ugly, wavering in faith, lonesome, desperate, or aching prayers, but He commands us to come to Him. 1 John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” As Rebekah reminds us, we can have blessed assurance that our prayers are never in vain.

“You Are Free” is a book that weaves together our freedom story with Christ’s gift of freedom. We are free to live without reservation, with conviction, and with the knowledge that we can be who God created us to be ultimately because of who God is: the giver of every perfect gift, including His son.


Readers, What are you reading right now? What should we add to our summer reading list?

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

Dangerous Wonder: Our April Book Recommendation

Years ago, when I served on the staff of my church’s youth group, I had the privilege of attending a training with Mike Yaconelli. He was the Co-Founder of Youth Specialties (among many other wild undertakings), and had an infectious joy that drew in others. At that conference I met Chris Tomlin, worship was led by  Switchfoot and David Crowder, and I listened to Louie Giglio boldly proclaim the gospel, but it was Mike Yaconelli who impacted my spiritual growth the most.

Yaconelli gave permission to those around him to love Jesus passionately even in the midst of their mess. This month at Anchored Voices we have spent time discussing how wonder works out in our daily lives, so for April’s book recommendation I couldn’t help but tell you about Yaconelli’s book “Dangerous Wonder.” It is almost 20 years old, but I reach for it often. I pull in off my shelf when I need to be reminded of the freedom of living with childlike faith, or when I need to tell my soul, “open your eyes to the beauty around you.”

With chapter titles like: Risky Curiosity, Wide-eyed Listening, and Happy Terror, Yaconelli constantly causes the reader to examine the assumptions they operate from daily. He does push some theological ideas to the edges of my personal comfort, but it is done as a challenge. He encourages the reader to engage with the biblical text on their own and dive into the mysteries of the Bible.

Dangerous Wonder

Yaconelli embodied a person of wonder, and lived out the truths found in his book. He reminds us:

“The nice, nonthreatening God needs to be replaced by the God whose very presence smashes our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. A healthy, childlike fear should make us more in awe of God than we are of our government, our problems, our beliefs about abortion, our doctrines and agendas, or any of our other earthly concerns. Our God is perfectly capable of both calming the storm and putting us in the middle of one.” (p.111)

Mike Yaconelli died in 2003 in a car crash, but his books are still available and his legacy of following Christ with wild abandon lives on. I will always be thankful for the inspiration he was to me as a young believer.

To this day I am challenged by the questions he dares his readers to ask, so I leave you some of my favorite as you embark on your own journey of wonder.

“Shouldn’t followers of Christ also be dangerous? Shouldn’t everyone be awed and dazzled by Christians? Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanors? Shouldn’t Christianity be considered dangerous–unpredictable, threatening to the status quo, living outside the lines, uncontrollable, fearless wild, beyond categorization, or definition? Shouldn’t those who call themselves Christians be filled with awe, astonishment, and amazement?” (p.31)


Readers, Do you have book recommendations for exploring awe and wonder? We would love to hear them! Tell us in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Still Waiting: Ann Swindell Offers Hope to Weary Souls in this New book

“When we have begged and demanded from God all that we can, and when he still doesn’t change our situation, we’re left with a choice: we can choose offense with him, or we can choose obedience.”

Ann Swindell, “Still Waiting”

Happy endings awaken the hope that the dreams locked within our own souls might someday come true. However, our souls know that life doesn’t always work this way. We live in the mess of our own waiting, longing for it to end, and we wonder if the relationship, opportunity, or healing will ever come to be.

stillwaitingbrokenWe can tire of happy endings when we are waiting for our own. I have been a biblical counselor for years and have long looked for a book that could offer both hope and an ending that is not wrapped up with a pretty, little bow of answered prayers and dreams come true. While I love those stories, and marvel at the things God can do, reality reveals we don’t always see what we are waiting for this side of heaven. There is a day coming when all wrong will be set right, when sickness and death will end, and Jesus will bring relief from the anguish of living in a fallen world; but that day is not yet this day.

What then should we do, while still waiting?

In “Still Waiting” Ann Swindell offers elegant wisdom to those willing to be refined and sculpted through waiting.

“It’s a hard truth: to have Savior who doesn’t always explain what he does or make it easy to follow him. It’s hard to follow a King who won’t always decree what we want. It’s hard to obey a Lord whose ways are higher than mine, a Lord who doesn’t think like I do (see Isaiah 55:8-9)” (p.113).

Swindell walks the reader through the feelings of shame, suffering, and identity questioning that often come from waiting. She doesn’t deny that waiting costs us, “And that’s why, as we wait for God’s breakthrough in our lives, it will cost us a great deal. In fact, waiting wellwaiting rightlywill cost us all that we have. It will cost us our illusion of control. It will cost us our self-sufficiency” (p.64). But she offers hope as well, “And yet I always came back to this: God is God, and he loves me and cares for me. Why  he wouldn’t heal me, I didn’t pretend to know. But where else could I go (see John 6:68)? He is the Word of Life” (p.113).

stillwaitingwholovesusSwindell shares details of her own struggle with trichotillomania, and explores the journey of the Bleeding Woman from the Bible. Women of different times, both waiting, both looking to Jesus for sanctuary. I felt my own story wrapped in the words as well. Saw the plights of my friends. The themes reach out to any who have felt the longings that hide away, the weariness of weakness, and the risk required to step out from the places we hide. Her words thrust the reader into the comforting arms of God even when we struggle with Him. Swindell addresses pain, trial, and victory with biblical truth and offers that, “It’s hard to wrestle with a God who doesn’t bend to our desires, even our seemingly good desires….” Then reminds that, “… it’s not that God doesn’t hear. He is not deaf, nor is he powerless (see Isaiah 59:1). He is, in fact, compassionate. Unendingly compassionate. He overflows with unshakable, unbending love” (p.101).

“Still Waiting”, more than anything else, points the reader to Jesus. Swindell invites people to know THE great Hope. The hope that transcends all others. The only hope that is anchored, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)

Readers,

You can find “Still Waiting” at most major book retailers, and if you order before April 3rd you can score over $30 of pre-order freebies. I know I offered some of her words in this post, but this was just an appetizer. This book is filled with truths that can set the waiting heart free, and I pray that it will meet you well as you journey through your own waiting.

Ann also offers writing courses and has been published at popular sites around the internet. I had the privilege of taking a course from her about writing as ministry early on in my writing career and what a breath of fresh air it was. 


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.