Audacious- A Book Review

Outside of the Holy Word of God, I’ve never been more moved, taught, or ignited by a book in my life. A few weeks ago, I sent that exact sentiment to Beth Moore via Twitter. I just about fainted with glee when I saw a text on my phone indicating BETH MOORE herself had actually replied to my Tweet. I was downstairs with the kids, letting our dog Jovie out when I saw it. I began jumping up and down with excitement, which the kids loved. Any chance they get to jump with Mama is a welcomed opportunity!

My “Audacious” journey started back in early fall when God clearly led me to attend one of Beth’s simulcasts with the same title. I’ve already written about the powerful work God has done in me as a result of Beth’s message that day, but God’s work in me has boldly continued throughout the pages of her book.
Beth writes in a way that makes me feel like she is sitting at Starbucks across the table speaking directly into my heart. She writes like she knows my deepest struggles, fears, anxieties, worries, and doubts. This book has been impactful largely because it’s an easy read, a quick read, and it has a very specific message that rings loud and clear.

I was hooked by the third chapter where Beth posed the question, “When the blood in your veins runs hot with holy affection for the living Christ, what do you want to do most?” She also worded it a few sentences down like this, “What are you most compelled by the love of Christ to do? What would it take to do it?” These questions kept me awake at night. They rocked my mind. They stirred my soul. Then Beth pushed me off the cliff of adventure when she ended that chapter with, “Get to it. Nobody but you can do it.” Nobody but me. Nobody but you!

I love that Jesus has made my blood run hot for him in ways so uniquely different than anyone else. I love that He has done the same thing for all of you. I love that He loves us with audacity: intrepidly daring, adventurous, bold, marked by originality and verve.” (pg. 43)

Reading this book fanned the flame in my heart that Jesus started in recent years. He’s in no rush, but I feel the fire hotter than any other time in my life. Oh to love Him with audacity. I’ve spent the better part of my life working for Jesus. Pursuing Him with reading my Bible, praying, attending church services, and serving people has only left me feeling bored, empty, and angry. I’ve always done these things out of a driving force that I “needed” to do these things.

And as Beth pointed out in chapter eight, “Need Is Not Enough"!!!! She says, "Not one of us will get to the end of this book and voraciously keep seeking an audacious love for Jesus because it’s what we need to do. When push comes to shove, our driving force will be desire or this will turn out to be just another phase we went through for a week or two. Discipline won’t do this for us. Discipline can make us more Christ like but it cannot make us love Christ more. We will never love Him just because we need to. We will only love him audaciously because we WANT to.” (My emphasis added.)

If you’re anything like me, the doubt darts quickly fire themselves at my heart: “Well there’s no hope for you. Do you even want Jesus?” And that’s where the beauty comes in. Beth introduced me to the prayer that will most likely forever reign on my lips, “Jesus, I want to want YOU. Would You help me? I already know I need You. But I want to want You, too.” (Pg. 95)

"Audacious" isn’t just a book for me. It’s a journey. An intrepidly daring, adventurous, bold, marked by originality and verve kind of journey.

And to you Jesus, I want to want you.
 

 

Winner Winner!

Congratulations to JULIA! I will be contacting you via email. Kristi's awesome new book is yours!

THANK YOU to all who shared. Your comments were a great encouragement.

Reality Touched by the Miraculous, by Kristi Walker

The tree keeps falling over.
The dinner burns.
The baby spits up on your new sweater.
Finances are too tight to buy presents.
Family can’t make it for the holiday.
The neighbor you invited to church didn’t come.
You miss the celebration due to sickness.
The flight is canceled.
That special present didn’t arrive in time.
The weather isn’t cooperating.
You’re stressed and yell at someone you love.
Another car hits yours in the mall parking lot.
There’s no bonus this year.
That one person’s attitude is ruining Christmas (again).
Memories of past holidays are painful.
A loved one passes away.
You’re spending another New Year’s Eve alone.
Yet another year of unanswered prayer goes by.

Life is disappointing. Hurt is real. It may be no big deal, but it is at the time, and it is to you. Most of the above list has happened to me. Disappointment is often my reality because my expectations are high. My self-appointments don’t materialize in the timing or way I imagined. I na├»vely believe that everything is going to go perfectly. Inside my brain, it’s all Normal Rockwell, but in reality it’s . . . reality. We laugh about Pinterest fails, but sometimes life is a series of fails. I visualize the desired end result, do my absolute best, and stare at the seeming mess in disbelief. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Why me? Where was God and why didn’t He intervene? Why doesn’t He answer my prayers, protect me from hurt, keep me from sin? Wouldn’t the Normal Rockwell version have brought Him more glory??
 

I guess that’s why the biblical account of the Christmas story means so much to me. It was reality touched by the miraculous. It was Zechariah and Elizabeth, who had struggled with infertility until they finally faced the shameful fact that they were barren. The dream was dead. It was young Mary, afraid that she was not the right person to carry the Christ child, worried that her betrothed would reject her, that everyone would reject her. It was Joseph, grappling with the fact that, even though he had sought to live a righteous life, his soon-to-be-bride had been unfaithful. Then, of course, when Mary was finally ready to deliver, there was the physically exhausting journey to Bethlehem to pay taxes they couldn’t really afford, the inn with no vacancies, the reality that the Son of God would have to be born in a dark and dirty cave. That first Christmas was hard. It was confusing. It was painful. Until . . .


A child was born. A son was given. God became flesh. A newborn cry pierced the silent night. Heaven descended into this mess called humanity. The Light of the world dispelled the darkness. Prophesies foretold became promises fulfilled. Impossibilities proved to be possibilities and disappointments to be appointments. Religion suddenly had meaning, pain had purpose and life held hope!
This Christmas, no matter your hurts or disappointments, rejoice! Put your hope in God! The Savior is here, God is truly with you! Reality is still touched by the miraculous. The ultimate Gift was given, for you. Claim it, live it, tell it! Merry Christmas! 

***For a chance to WIN a FREE copy of Kristi's new book, Disappointment: A subtle path away from God please comment below about one of the following:

~How have you been disappointed this Christmas, and where has Jesus shown up for you?
~How do you keep Jesus at the center of your Christmas celebrations when the hustle and bustle starts to take over?

To keep the gift-giving going after Christmas, the winner will be announced Monday, December 28!

You Won't Be Disappointed!

Allow me to introduce you to my long-time friend, Kristi! I've known her since I was 10 years old, if you can believe that. When I first met her, my family had just moved half way across the country from Iowa- which we all loved. We hated moving to Pennsylvania. Kristi, on the other hand, was ecstatic to have us living in PA. She said to me, "Now the college (where my Dad got a new job) has the best speakers in the country!" (Also referring to her own Dad.) That actually sums Kristi up well- very positive, see's the bright side, extremely loyal, and is very passionate for the people and places she loves.

In the pictures bellow Kristi is the one behind me, and Mandi is to the right. (Hi Mandi!) For the past couple of years Mandi, Kristi, and I have been able to hang out several times together even though we live very far apart. They both frequently visit their missions agency which is only about 30 minutes away from us. A very sweet thing for me. It's always a blast to see them! They both make me laugh the tears-streaming-down-my face-kind of laugh.

Fun fact about Kristi- she is a missionary in Germany, which is also the country where my husband, Chuck, grew up! We still have family in Germany, so it's a fun connection. Kristi is the one who motivated us to raise our kids bi-lingual. Chuck only speaks German to the kids, and I only speak English to them. We are so thankful for her push- it's awesome that our kids understand both languages.

Kristi will be the guest blogger right here tomorrow. I've already read her post, and it choked me up. I was encouraged, and my heart was put to rest. I know you will not be disappointed! *hint hint* at what's to come! It's Christmas, so what a perfect week for a give-away! Come on back to enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, Disappointment: A subtle path away from God. See you tomorrow!



In The Meantime- Part 3: Our Little Healer

When Christmas finally rolled around that year, Chuck, Jovie, and I headed up to my parent's. The babies we had lost were always fresh on my mind, especially since the second child would have been due- or already born by Christmas day. I don't remember much about that year, but I do remember two things. One, I was surrounded by love from our family. Two, a friend text and told me she was pregnant.

I had been sitting at the dining room table, chatting away with family when I saw the text from my friend. ANOTHER friend getting pregnant made me feel like I had bricks in my stomach. My heart sank all the way down to my toes. I wanted to cry, but I didn't have anything left in me. I felt defeated. Hopeless. I'm sure I said the expected things like "Oh wow! Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!" (Gag.) But I honestly wasn't that happy for her. I just mourned my losses all the more.

It was OK that I wasn't happy for her. I put myself on way too many emotional guilt trips over my lack of enthusiasm for the other girls in my life getting pregnant. OF COURSE I WASN'T HAPPY. I'm only human. I was kind. I was respectful. I was loving. But I didn't have to be happy. It was OK that I was disappointed, or sad, or mad.

A couple days later Chuck and I visited the church I grew up in with my parents. After the service I saw a woman who has meant a lot to me over my growing up years walk towards me. Since I had moved away years before, I hadn't seen her much. I even wondered if she remembered me. Jeni had a huge smile on her face as she approached me saying she'd like to talk.

My eyes welled up with tears as I briefly described the deep losses and ache in my life. It had come to Jeni's attention that I had always believed I was going to live a painful life. She had been praying for me, and wanted to tell me to stop believing that lie! She actually asked God for a chance to talk with me, and I showed up at the church. Jeni didn't even know I was in town. Crazy enough, it was her last Sunday at that church before she moved to FL.

Her message was that God, in fact, wanted to pour out His blessings, His favor, and His goodness on me. Then she prayed over me in a way I've never been prayed over. Chuck joined us in the middle of the prayer, and the three of us stood surrounded by The Spirit in an almost tangible way. I could feel His presence wash over me. One of the first things she said was, "God, you're in a good mood." It blew Chuck and I away. I never pictured God in a good mood. More like Him looking angry, shaking His fist, and wanting me to get it right. Picturing Him that way was all part of the lie that controlled me. Jeni prayed in faith against those lies.

Then she prayed over my empty womb. Both physically and spiritually. She prayed healing over my heart, and healing over my body. She blessed me. She blessed Chuck. She blessed us. We drove away from the church building that day feeling riveted. The Spirit breathed life into my dead heart. A spark of hope began to ignite in the darkest corners of my soul. Jesus came that day. He came through Jeni.

Three weeks later I was back in that same bathroom. The one where I had laid agonizingly on the floor in sobs. This time, as the seconds ticked by after taking my millionth and one pregnancy test, something different happened. Something so unbelievable, Chuck really didn't believe it! THERE WAS A FAINT BLUE LINE! It was very faint, but very blue. Jesus was there.

See the faint blue line that crosses over the dark blue line in the big box?!
Chuck needed to see the word to believe it!

Nine months later our Healer (the meaning of Jase) arrived. Jesus was there. He always has been. And He always will be. He's there for you, too, friend.
Jeni meeting Jase for the first time- she prayed over him, of course!

In The Meantime- Part 2: Cowboy Samuel

Samuel is the son of my wonderful friends Nic and Jessi. Samuel has a brain disorder called ACC, but it's certainly not what defines him. What defines him is Jesus- who fearfully and wonderfully made him. That Christmas season he was three and a half. I started helping Jessi by driving Samuel to different therapies he was involved in so she didn’t have to drag her pregnant self, or baby girl out of the house multiple days a week.

I didn’t realize at the time how God was using Samuel to fill me. Each day I spent with him, my heart fell more and more in love. On the days I picked Samuel up from school, I would anxiously wait in the car until I saw his teachers marching the class outside like little toddler ducklings. I’d get out of the car and walk to the edge of the side walk where we would meet. I’d be so excited for Samuel to look up, recognize me, and smile that infamously Samuel smile.

Oh that smile! It would light up his whole face, all the way to his sweet round eyes. Jesus was there in that smile, but I didn’t know it then. That smile would reach straight to my aching soul, and sooth the spots in me that were bubbling with pain.  
 
 
I’d help him into the car, and ask about his day. I’d make sure he had his current favorite toy in hand- back then it was a mini wooden wardrobe from a dollhouse. He adored that wardrobe! I’d give him his lunch and drink while we drove to one of his therapies.

Wednesdays were my favorite days because we’d get to go out to a farm for horse therapy. We would sing songs in the car like, “Old MacDonald had a farm!” We would share silly words, and laugh about silly kid humor. I’d call him “Cowboy Samuel” and he’d call me, “Cowgirl Abigail!” He loved to holler out, “Fee! Figh! Foe! Fum!” Those sweet boy giggles were music to my ears.
At the farm, Samuel would ride, (surrounded by three adults, of course) and I’d watch. Jesus was there, too. He was there in the gorgeous horses that made me feel serene inside. He was there in the colors of the changing leaves. He was there in the beautiful children I got to watch. He was there, using nature and other little humans to comfort my weary heart.  
 
 
Jesus knew that giving me a job where I got to care for a boy a few hours a week didn’t just put money in my pocket, it gave me life. The parts of me that longed to mother got to mother. Though Jesus didn’t give me my own child at that time, He gave me the opportunity to use the part of my heart that ached to mother. I needed that. HE KNEW.

 
I still longed to bare my own children. But that's where Jeni comes in. Jeni in all her spirit-filled, Jesus-adoring, faith-inspiring, powerful-praying glory approached me one day out of nowhere. The darkness began to lift, and the miracles started happening...


In The Meantime- Part 1: I See You

Recently, in a group setting, a friend shared some seriously tough things she is dealing with. At the end of her story she said, “But it’ll all be OK.” Another woman in the group replied with, “Yay, but in the meantime…” I didn’t hear how she finished. My mind instantly started thinking about the first half of her sentence. When I’m going through tough stuff I often feel it’s necessary to wrap a nice bow on my circumstances, and tell everyone that “God is good” or “I know I’ll be stronger in the end” or “It’ll all be OK one day". In actuality, sometimes there’s a very long meantime.

I See You
As Andy Williams sings it best, “It’s the most wonderful time of year!” But not for everyone.


I see you friend who is hurting. I see you friend who is struggling with anxiety, fear, and depression. I see you friend who desperately wants to conceive. I see you friend going through a miscarriage. I see you friend whose baby should have been in your arms this holiday season. I see you friend who lost your husband to an insane tragedy. I see you friend whose mother is in Heaven, and not with you. I see you friend who lives overseas and suffers with loneliness. I see you friend who deals with intense stress over seeing family during the holidays. I see you friend who would rather stay home with your family then have to travel with little ones. I see you friend whose husband is fighting for our country, and can’t be by your side. I see you single friend who aches to have a man by your side. I see you friend whose boyfriend broke your heart. I see you friend whose child is diagnosed with the unthinkable.   

I see you. I see you. I see you. You are not alone.
Exactly three years ago, that was me.

(Have you seen Inside Out?! So good!)
Maybe it was my thousandth pregnancy test. It felt like thousands. It felt like millions. And that day was no different. “Not Pregnant” flashed across the tiny screen, mocking me. Mocking my hopes. Mocking my dreams. Cutting my heart like a knife. Since one normally takes a pregnancy test in quite an undignified position, the surroundings of a bathroom only seemed to make the negative results that much more unbearable.  

That particular day, I had reached my utmost limit of pain. After two years of “trying” to get pregnant, after two babies had come and gone in the blink of an eye, my heart couldn’t bare it anymore. I collapsed into a heap on the floor. I fell halfway between the bathroom and hallway. My feet laid weak on the tile, while my head rested on the sterile beige carpet. The sobs wracked me. Absolutely shook my body. The pain was too great to contain so the sounds that escaped my throat were unrecognizable. The wails that came out of me sounded like a wounded animal about to die. The sounds scared me. Those sounds still haunt me.
Christmas was just weeks away, and our second baby would have been due right around that time. I often wonder about my first two children. What are their genders? What are their personalities? I find myself feeling bad for our second baby. There was a lot of grief hoopla over our first lost baby. But when we lost the second, I didn’t have it in me to grieve that deeply and darkly again. I was afraid I wouldn’t survive. Our second baby holds his/her own special place in my heart. He/she was due at Christmas time. We would have had a Christmas baby. A Christmas will never pass by where I won’t ponder that sweet second child. He/she is very real. Very much alive in the sweet arms of Jesus.  

I guess I thought a positive pregnancy test would dull the ache I felt over our losses. I lived to see a positive pregnancy test. It was all-consuming. My heart knew no other desire. But Jesus knew. He has always shown up to guide the way, but never how I would have imagined.
That year He unexpectedly showed up through the eyes of a little boy named Samuel.



Drum Roll, Please!

Well, my plan was to pick a favorite response but that proved to be much harder than I had anticipated. I loved all of them. So, I did what anyone else would do. I let the internet decide for me. I pulled up a random generator, popped in everyone’s names, and the internet chose Bethany!

Congratulations, Bethany! If you send your mailing address to hello@havenpaperie.com, I’ll get your cards in the mail to you.

Thank you to everyone else who shared glimpses into your hearts. I was really touched by all of your answers.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Heidi



Hi All! It's Abigail here. Just wanted to say THANK YOU to Heidi for the beautiful post she wrote. I know many of us were inspired, touched, encouraged, and motivated to embrace who we are as women in Christ! Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. They were a joy to read!

Please tune in again tomorrow for a new 3-week series I'll be writing called, "In the Meantime".