Falling Free

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You guys.  I am so terribly behind on posting a review for this book and I feel awful about it because IT IS SUCH AN INCREDIBLE BOOK!  It deserved a really great, lengthy, shining blog post a long time ago.  I received it last fall when it released and read it within a week or so.  Honestly it was maybe in my top five favorite reads from 2016.  It was one of those books you finish and want to immediately purchase copies of for everyone you love.  I highly recommend it!

Shannan Martin’s book Falling Free: Rescued from the life I always wanted came into my hands in the middle of our house search.  In a sense I was resistant to reading it, since Martin’s book is a memoir sharing about their leaving behind the life they thought they always wanted for something that seemed far riskier, smaller, and challenging.  Its good to read something like this while in the midst of your own home search.  What Martin was leaving behind–a cute farmhouse, a mini homestead, a comfortable community–these are some of the things my husband and I are looking for and dreaming about.  And not that there is anything wrong with having a farmhouse or a homestead or a wonderful church community.  But Martin sure does challenge our notions of what we need, what we expect, what we feel entitled to, what we think God would have for us, what we think is safe, what we hope for.  She brings perspective.  She gives courage to truly abandon your life to the faithfulness of God, even in the face of the risk and discomfort involved.  She holds out the glory of Jesus and the life of following and obeying Him as higher and greater than our small dreams, our small hopes for a comfortable, safe, monochromatic life.

An author I have loved, Emily P. Freeman, has highly recommended Martin’s writing, which is what led me to check out her first book. I was not disappointed!  She is at turns hilarious, witty, and yet poignant and insightful.  She can turn a phrase like few authors I’ve read, bringing fresh insight and conviction to our typical American way of life and thinking.  And her taco recipe has become a regular staple in our home.  (Thank you, Shannon.)

I can’t tell you more about it because I simply can’t decide what to emphasize most.  Just go read it.  If you at all feel bound up, go read it.  If while you have most comforts and pleasures accessible at your right hand yet can’t shake the niggling sense that you’re missing something, go read it.  If you’re hungry for the kingdom of God, go read it.  If you’re hungry for more of God, go read it.  If you’re just plain bored, go read it.

Read at your own risk.  Prepare to be perturbed, disturbed, challenged, convicted, awakened, and set free from the life you think you want to the life God would have for you.

Thank you to Book Look Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

 

yarn along

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I’m kniting on my Lila sleeve number two, and loving this project so much.  I can’t wait to wear it but also never want it to end! 🙂  No second sleeve syndrome over here.  I did, however, cast on for a pair of baby socks for a friend and also need to finish up another small gift item for someone else, as well.  So I’m forcing myself to set aside my lila for a few days.  Maybe.

I am crazy, crazy I know.. because I selected two books to review this month while I’m packing and moving and trying to buy a house because I simply don’t have enough to do already.  Actually, I just couldn’t resist these books!  I cannot wait to dive into this one on motherhood.  I need regular motherhood check-ups in this busy season of Long Days of Small Things.  This title grabbed me immediately and I so hope this book lives up to my expectations!  I HOPE to review it this month, so I will let you know what I think.  I did finish up The Broken Way, I tried to make it last as long as I could.  I didn’t allow myself to mark it up at all because I just wanted to savor and read and let it wash over me.  I loved it so, so very much, and will be rereading it maybe immediately.  And this time mark it up.  Please go get a copy of it!  Ann is such a gift and such an encouragement to me time and again.  And, if you notice, she also endorses the above book.

I’m linking up with Ginny’s weekly yarn along and also Nicole’s KCCO.  
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yarn along

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Almost done with the body of Noah’s sweater and getting ready to split for sleeves.  I haven’t knit a sweater bottom-up before, so it will be interesting to do it this way!  I love love love it so far.  It’s different/challenging enough to keep me interested, but also a very relaxing knit, and who can’t love working with Brooklyn Tweed?  I keep worrying it’ll be too small but I *think* it’s good.  We’ll see!

Reading Come Thou Long Expected Jesus advent readings with Brandon in the evenings before we fall asleep.  I’m also still finishing up Missional Motherhood.  Needing some good fiction next, I think.

I’m linking up with Ginny’s weekly yarn along today, where we share what we’re currently reading + knitting.

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three books

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Moments & Days: How our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith by Michelle Van Loon

There seem to be an abundance of books published lately about time, our use of our time, what we say yes and no to, how overcommitted we are as a culture, about sabbath and white space and rest.  Van Loon’s book strikes an entirely different chord.  After reading her book, I am most challenged by her rendering of time, how it is not something that is ours to measure, but rather something that measures us.

“I’d like to suggest that our watches and Day-Timers and Google calendars are not the measure of our worth.  We who belong to Jesus understand (at least in our heads) that we are not our own.  Our eternal God has given us this slice of eternity, right here and now, in which to live for and with him.

Following a calendar that tells us our lives are not all about us is a powerful place to learn to inhabit the sacred gift of time.  When Paul acknowledged not all followers of Jesus see specific days as holy, he wasn’t suggesting that everyone in the church needed to hit the ‘delete’ button on the discussion (Rom. 14:5-10).  He was instead encouraging them to give one another lots of grace as they sought how to honor God together in community.  He never discounted the value of the weekly/yearly rhythm of holy days.  He simply wanted the Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus to understand that the finished work of Jesus the Messiah fills full the meaning of these festival days.” (Van Loon, p.xvii

I was not raised in a church that practiced liturgy or observed the Christian calendar.  I am so thankful for my father’s strong insistence in teaching us that we are not bound to the law in this way, no longer bound to keeping holy days and feasts.  As such, I really had no familiarity with this way of faith.  My legalistic/perfectionist bent is better off for it, I’m sure.  I keenly remember my first exposure to someone who prayed through the Common Book of Prayer, a simple mailman who went to church with us, who carried a prayer rug with him in his mail car, who wrote and sang the most haunting music with his wife.  They sang at our wedding.  I found his habits strange, uncomfortable, curious–and yet he was a kind old soul and there was something drawing about his love of liturgy.  Over the years since then, it seems to have become more common to hear of Christians observing Advent and Lent and to hear chatter about the Christian calendar.  I have often been curious to do more research in hopes of understanding, and I have found myself hungry to observe the calendar with the wider community of saints.

Van Loon’s book is perfect in this regard.  Jewish by heritage, she came to faith in Christ in her teens and she tells a bit of her story of coming to faith, understanding her entire Jewish background and all of the feasts finding their fulfillment in Jesus.  She speaks about her intellectual understanding of the Christian calendar versus the experience of worshipping through it with her community.

The first half of the book unpacks the major Jewish feasts, explaining their history and how Christ is on display in each one.  For the Jewish people, “time was defined by seeing themselves as part of God’s eternal story.  As they participated in specific appointed times to meet with God throughout each year, they immersed themselves afresh in his story of creation, redemption, and re-creation” (Van Loon, p.17).

The second half of the book travels through the Christian calendar.  “Each day and season in the Christian year moves us through the main events in Jesus’ life and ministry.  But the Christian year is not merely an annual memorial tour.  It is meant to be a way to help us remember we are living eternity every day” (Van Loon, p.108).

She also includes a glossary of Jewish terms, side-by-side calendar comparisons, recipes commonly associated with the feasts, and a thick list of resources for further study.

I found her book to be incredibly insightful, whetting my appetite for further study and for further experience.  Well-written, engaging, historical, Christ-exalting, revealing the ties that bind us together in the body of Christ, her book is one I highly recommend.  It will be one I refer back to frequently!  I just picked it up again to refer back to her notes on the Advent season, as that is now upon us.

Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas by Leslie Leyland Fields

I read Surviving the Island of Grace by Fields earlier this year and so enjoyed her memoir of her early days meeting her husband and finding her way into a life as a commercial salmon fisherwoman in the wilds of Alaska.  When I saw that she was publishing a new book, I squealed with glee.  Her writing is quite engaging, often rooted in landscape, honest, raw, and resonating with the human experience.  This one particularly caught my attention because I have recently finished a slow two-year personal study through the four Gospel accounts, a searching for a fresh encounter with Jesus.  It also caught my attention because this past year, 2016, has been a year themed with “water.”  In early January the Lord specifically gave me Psalm 93 as an anthem over the year, and I have referred back to it countless times.  It has been a good year in many respects, but also incredibly difficult in others.  It has been a great comfort to remember that the Lord told me ahead of time it would feel as though the waters were going to overtake me.  Yet, He sits above the waters and is mightier than them.

So, the fact that this book was about journeying through the Gospels specifically with an eye to the theme of “waters,” had me.  I was not disappointed!  Fields’ writing was as interesting as ever, weaving together seamlessly her own rich understanding of a life on the water, her personal journey through the Promised Land, and her retelling of the biblical account of Jesus’ life in that same landscape.  She unpacks and brings life to biblical stories that have become, perhaps, common and stale to the seasoned student of scripture through her unique lens as a fisherwoman.  She makes you feel the weight of the nets in your own hands, the sharpness of the salt air, the whip of wind and lurch of skiff.  I found myself in her questions and doubts as well as in her discoveries and worship.

As soon as I finished it I wanted to start it all over again.   Highly, highly recommend.

Has Anyone Ever Seen God? 101 Questions and Answers about God, the World, and the Bible by Carolyn Larsen

This quaint little book is of a devotional nature, yet organized as Q + A.  With attractive design and beautiful illustrations, it asks 101 questions such as:

  • What (or who) is the Holy Spirit?
  • Is there anything God can’t do?
  • Does God speak to people today?
  • Why did God make spiders, snakes, and other creepy things?
  • Why were the Israelites God’s chosen people?
  • Why does God sometimes seem to hide?

The author then answers these questions simply and biblically, with a scripture reference at the bottom of each page.  As you can see, the questions range from theological to practical in nature.  I think it is a great little gift book for anyone coming of age in their faith, a new believer, someone curious about the Christian faith.  Though not terribly depthy, it may whet the appetite and open avenues of conversation or further study.  It is part of a trilogy of similar books, the others being Can I Really Know Jesus, and What Does God Really Promise.

It would be a great book to tuck at your child’s bedside, or give a copy to a curious neighbor along with some fresh baked goods.

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With warm thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for their complimentary copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are mine.

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yarn along

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Ha!  I haven’t posted since last week’s yarn along.  It was a super busy week, followed by a weekend away visiting Brandon’s parents in South Carolina, and then back to busy with school and catching up on house things.  The weekend away afforded me some extra knitting time, so I cast on a new project, a Leksak tunic for Philippa.  I’m using up some old yarn in my stash that is something probably cheapy that I bought before I knew how to knit (used it for a weaving), but it feels like wool/dk weight.  It’s knitting up quickly.

Also, I’m eager to dive into Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields.  I read her book Surviving the Island of Grace about her early life as a salmon fisherwoman on Kodiak Island in Alaska and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in Alaska life.  This book looks promising!  She lends her knowledge and life experience as a fisherwoman as she looks at the biblical accounts of the disciples and their many experiences with Jesus on the water.

I’m linking up with Ginny’s weekly yarn along today, a little wednesday community that shares what we’re currently reading and knitting.  

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yarn along

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Finished sock number one, working on sock two.  I think I will finish them just in time for the first fall chill.  Can’t wait to wear them!

Still reading Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus.  Thumbs up.

Linking up today with Ginny’s weekly yarn along.

yarn along

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I finished the little boy sweater for my nephew.  It’s blocking now, and I’m really happy with it!  I’ll share pics of it soon.  So now I’m working on a pair of socks for me, my first pair for myself.  I love them so far, though I think they have more “positive ease” than I realized, or whatever that means.  They are simple and cozy and so soft.

I’m still in the last few chapters of Moments and Days but this book, Slow Church, arrived at the library so I put other books on hold so I can maybe read it before its due back.  I can’t remember where I first heard about it but I was interested in it because of the way the authors address our current church culture, examining the way the wider cultural value on speed and efficiency has trickled into the way we approach and do church.  Borrowing from the “slow food” movement, the authors relate the McDonalization of our food to the “McDonalization” of our churches, viewing them as “spiritual filling stations, dispensaries of religious goods and services.”  Also, they had me at the byline: cultivating community in the patient way of Jesus.  Something in me stirred at those words–always, this hungering in us for community and something about the “patient” way of Jesus (such a good turn of phrase) that is always so counter to how we tend to do things.  We get away from His narrow way so quickly and easily, don’t we?  I’m enjoying the book so far and it makes me want to do a massive study on church.  Gah.

Linking up with Ginny of Small Things today to share current reads + knits along with her little community.  

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