Thursday, October 15, 2015

book review | staying is the new going

Having just moved from "going" to "staying", this book seemed like it would be relevant to our stage of life. And it was... not only relevant, but also very convicting and motivating. As I read through, I often found myself spaced out, dreaming up ways to minister in our neighborhood, to break down walls with people that I see every day, and just to be very engaged where I've been placed. That is the essence of this book.

Author Alan Briggs is a very conversational writer, so that made this an easy read. The material that he's discussing is challenging. In our very mobile society, choosing to stay in one place in order to be a consistent, invested example of Christ is a somewhat radical idea. Of course, there are plenty of people who have never moved from their hometown simply because they didn't want to. But this is about staying because you want people to see what a lifetime of living for Christ looks like - not just six months of living for Christ. Anyone can fake it for six months. Obviously it's only by the grace of God that any of us can serve Him longer than that.

Living on Main Street one block from the church in a very average house makes me the perfect candidate to put some of Briggs' ideas into practice. And he offers a lot of ideas! They do Free Coffee Friday, host neighborhood cook-outs, and regularly choose to invite neighbors rather than family or church friends when they want to have someone over. I was convicted to step out of my box and be willing to get close to people outside of my "group" - co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors - as I have opportunity. And in the small ways that I have done that, I have realized that indeed - people are hungry for connection. We need other people. And many people don't have as many people in their lives as I do.

There's a lot more I could say... both in agreement with Briggs and offering a few alternative perspectives of my own... but I think I'll stop there. Overall this is a very worthwhile read for Christians in any stage of life... it is very thought-provoking and, like I said, motivating. Staying (no matter where it is that you're staying - your hometown, a new town, or a foreign country) and being willing to put down roots is probably one of the best things we can do to push the Gospel forward in a world that never settles down.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015


A new song for Ivory lately is "Fill up my cup... let it overfloat." It's cute (and in our current stage of toddler-hood, not everything is), but more than that, it always brings to mind an image of a cup just absolutely brimming, filled to capacity, spilling over and out - unbelievably full. Life right now is that cup, and our blessings are what's inside of it. In Christ we are so rich.

Being rich is living in central Illinois in the fall. It's working together to make a house, a home. It's being close to family and even closer to friends. It's having a job where I can talk to my co-workers about how God brought me to where at am and how He redeems brokenness for beauty, even in D50... and they know what I mean because they have experienced it too. It's having not just one but two babysitters who I can trust completely because of tight bonds of faith and fellowship. It's having a husband who knows the Lord. It's being able to forgive hurts and move on from the past. It's being able to release both the past and the future to the One who actually knows.

"And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest and he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest. Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the Lord our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered." II Chronicles 14:6-7.

Sometimes I seek God like that... I question the motives behind His goodness. I ask Him, "really? really? you would give me this?!" I seek Him, I seek Him, and He has given me rest on every side.

In my weakest moments I worry that if I sink into the comforts of His blessings too much, I won't be prepared to face adversity when it comes. But when unrest did come...

"Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many or with them that have no power, help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude, O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopains before Asa."

... and they still carried away "abundance" anyway.