Book Review: If Only You Knew by Jamie Ivey

I first learned of the Ivey family through a video showing their family going through the adoption process during the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. The longing for their children to be home, while at the same time praying for God to comfort and be near resonated with my heart.  It was one of the key pieces God used to draw us into adoption, and why my family is comprised of a feisty 16 year old, two almost-30 year old parents, and 12 bonus foster children who have come in and out over the last 4 years. (Yes, we will be 31 when she graduates!) Their telling of their adoption process didn’t skip past the hard in between spots, or even the rough patches of parenting. Their vulnerability and trust in God struck something deep within and catalyzed us.

image2Fast forward a few years, and I discovered the “Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey” podcast.  It is by far my most listened to, and recommended podcast in my life for the very same reason– vulnerability.  Deep trust in God that touches all of life is constantly on display, and the interviews of actual people who God has used in varied ways remind me of the depth of people opposed to the two-dimensional instagram version.

I was ecstatic to get to be a part of the “launch team” for Jamie’s first book, If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free. I received a free ebook copy (after preordering) in exchange for telling YOU about it.  For those of you who know me, I would have anyway!

I have to tell you.  She did it again. I love this book and have told someone about it almost every day since I started it.

I’ve been a “church girl” for a long time, and am familiar with how things go.  Often instead of walking in freedom, we sanitize our story, hiding the messy details and covering up the very places God is most at work in our lives. Our sin and struggle become things to manage.  There are topics we don’t touch, or if we do, the story is about someone else or a long time ago.

Jamie challenges this tendency,

“When seen through the eyes of the gospel, our stories are not obstacles to our freedom; they are actually the key to unlocking it.”

This book is Jamie’s story of how God worked in her life.  It feels a lot like reviewing the tapes of her experiences and speaking the gospel over the girl she was. Telling the truth she wished she knew at that point.  

Let me tell you, we all need that.  Whether it is the girl you were, or the woman you are today, the Gospel of Jesus intersects every bit of your life.  Sin. Struggle. Failure. Success.

He knows it all, and loves us enough to die for us.  Especially the parts we don’t talk about. Somehow the very things we want to hide are what God can use in the lives of others who may not know His love.

“When we hide the mess we’ve been through, we also hide the redemption that God has lavishly poured on us.  We can’t proclaim His grace until we expose our mess.”

image1 (1)I’m convinced that the vulnerability that Jamie shares with us in this book is what women in the church are longing for. Even more, it is for women who want to love Jesus, but think their past (or current) life somehow disqualifies them from being a Christian.  I cannot think of another book that so pointedly proclaims that sin is sin but Jesus is greater, and He is our only source of freedom.  

You can find all the info for her book at http://ifyouonlyknewbook.net/ and until November 6th they have some awesome perks for pre-ordering including 20% off from Waterloo Style (aka Jamie’s awesome earring source)  and 5 entries to win a 2-day getaway for two to Green Acres with travel included, a dinner with the Iveys, and a basket of Jamie’s favorite things.

If you win, I’d be happy to be your second person!


holly-square

Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

 

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Sacred Mundane: A Book Excerpt from Kari Patterson

For our July book recommendation Anchored Voices is honored to be able to share a book excerpt from Kari Patterson’s new book Sacred Mundane now available at Amazon.

How Will You Run the Last Leg? 

Several years ago I ran in the world’s longest relay race, Hood-to-Coast. Our team was named “Girls and Guys with Aching Thighs,” and this was an apt description! It was an incredible experience, spending thirty hours in a van with six other sweaty runners, sleeping on the ground, running in the middle of the night, becoming fast friends in that surprisingly immediate way that only really uncomfortable circumstance can bring.

Sacred Mundane SidebarThere were twelve of us who ran three legs each, and I had the joy of being the last runner. This meant I ran the final stretch of the entire 200-mile race, stepping off pavement and onto sand, through the finish line.

I’ll never forget the feeling of finishing well, and the key was, I knew when the end of the race was near.

See, each leg of the race had a map, complete with elevation and course description. I had studied my legs. I knew that last one—how it would climb for a straight mile, then drop steeply at the end, then wind through the city of Seaside, then end up on the beach.

When I reached the steep descent, I knew it was time to pour it all out. My quads hurt so bad. Our team name wasn’t cute then—this was killin’ me! But there was no use holding back, no reason to save strength for later. I knew I’d never regret giving it my all. I ran as hard as I could.

When I saw the ocean, I can’t describe the joy in my heart. The view would have been breathtaking, but my breath was already taken. Thousands of people crowded on the beach, congratulating each other, an overwhelming celebration. What a glorious end!

My team was there too, my beloved friends, cheering me on through those final strides off the sidewalk and onto the sand and through the finish line. I was tired but overjoyed. I was so glad I had given it my all.

So glad I’d poured out.

Friends, we’re on the last leg.

Friends, Jesus is returning. Like, soon.

Now believe me, I am the furthest thing from an eschatology-obsessed, reading-Revelation-over-and-over, stockpiling-supplies-for-Armageddon kind of girl. Okay? I have zero interest in end-times arguments and pre-trib or post-trib camps.

This isn’t the time to huddle together under banners Jesus didn’t wave.

Jesus did give us some pretty specific instruction, however, and one of the most repeated was simply this: know the signs of the times.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus exhorts us, “Stay awake.” He warns us that just as in the days of Noah, the end will come upon many when they least expect it. He gives us many clues to help discern when his return is near, a course map so to speak, and although no one knows the day, we do know the season.

We have a pretty clear description of the last leg. And Jesus says explicitly, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

Friends, our full redemption is drawing near. As I have been praying about this chapter, asking specifically what God wanted me to say, I heard this simple phrase over and over in my heart: “Tell them I’m coming soon.”

sacred mundane instaSo there. Jesus is coming soon. I have no definition of what “soon” is, but there is no way I’m ignoring this sense in my spirit, and I have seen dozens of things lining up in times recently that convince me our time here is coming to a close. I’ve seen the course description of this final stretch.

There’s a steep descent upon us, and it’s moments before the ocean opens up before us and we see the finish line.

These are the days for pouring out.

In the book of James, God gives a harsh indictment of the rich because they hoarded their resources instead of pouring them out for others. Specifically, James writes, “You have laid up treasure in the last days” (James 5:3). In other words, this is the time to pour out, not store up. Now is not the time to lay up treasures here on earth. Now is not the time to hold back, saving some for later.

These are the last days, a time for all to pour out, and our glorious God is going first.

We are seeing unprecedented outpouring of his Spirit on this earth in prophecy and signs, in miracles and movements. And we are also seeing darkness. We are seeing the chasm grow wide and the gradual separation between opposing kingdoms.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live lukewarm, and the fence won’t hold us up any longer. We have to pick a side. Those who choose Christ are given a precious and great promise: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . . and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17, 21).

He’s been calling us to bear fruit, and it’s almost harvest time.

Now, let’s bring this full circle. My desire is that we would let our days transform our lives. That we’d dip down into our ordinary days in such a way that we are radically transformed from the inside out. That our mindsets change, our habits change, our marriages change, our budgets change, our lives change. Why? So we can bear fruit that nourishes those near and far and displays God’s glory for all to see. This is how we prepare for every ordinary Tuesday, and this is how we prepare for the glorious return of Christ. Jesus already promised he will commend those who were faithful with little, so our simple aim is to live our sacred mundane in a way that pleases him.

 


Kari PattersonExcerpt from Sacred Mundane: How to find freedom, purpose, and joy, available through Amazon or directly through www.karipatterson.com. Kari reaches thousands of women worldwide through speaking events and her popular blog, Sacred Mundane. She’s a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, Bible teacher, mentor, and passionate seeker of truth. All royalties from the sale of this book will benefit World Vision’s work with women and children in need.

 

 

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.