Review by Rayna: How’s Your Soul?

Review by Rayna: How’s Your Soul?

 

How’s your soul? Is a question most of us avoid not Judah Smith.  In fact, he asks his friends this often and this book is a book about how he explored the answer to this question for himself.

The book challenges you to look deep.  Even though vulnerability is scary and it feels much saver to be superficial and not allow others to see if you are really OK on the inside.  Outward indicators are usually how we judge how things are going in our life but success is not how we know if we are OK on the inside.

To examine if you are satisfied, stable and healthy to determine how your soul is doing.

Our health and wellness moves from the inside out.  Most of the time when we struggle with inner peace we double down on the work on the outside, sadly that doesn’t bring peace.  You can’t make all the outside things go the way you want and you can’t escape what is not going well.

Our souls must learn to lean on and into God, the giver of our souls.

Relating to God from a place of forgiveness and acceptance from Jesus helps us find deeper fulfillment in God on a soul level will change everything.

Jonah challenges us to find a nurturing environment as God created it for us in the beginning.  A place of rest, responsibility, restraint and relationships rooted in God only.  He takes a closer look at each of this things in the light of God’s design for us.

One of the most powerful parts of this book for me was when Jonah examined how we often deal with emotions today.  Most of us allow our emotions to rule our world.  We have even gotten to a place that if we feel something is true then decide it must be.  Facts are evaluated in the light of our feelings.

Fulfillment, peace, joy, health on the inside, are often found by doing the exact opposite of what we feel like doing in the moment.  Our feelings can’t rule our lives.  How much different would your life be today if you were to step out of the place where you trust your feelings so much?

Another section that spoke to me was about control.  “We all struggle with viewing ourselves as god of our own lives.”  My first reaction was probably like yours, no way.  But Jonah goes on to say we have responsibilities but we are not in charge of our own fates.  You can’t live like it is all up to you.  If you do you are being a god of your life.  If you want a calm quiet soul you have to recognize, I am not in control.  The Lord has your best interest in mind.  “External control does not give us inner peace.”  God has both external control and the ability to give us internal peace.  We must let God be god of all.

I am sure you will find this book one that causes sore toes and a more contented heart.  So How’s Your Soul? If you’re not sure or if you want to ponder it a little deeper this is a good read for you.

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Review by Rayna: Doing Busy Better

 

Doing Busy Better has great content.

Though it would not make my top 10 list, I would recommend it because it does hit on some things which I think most of us need to hear.  The Lord definitely challenged me in areas as I read about this Better Busy.

Glyniss Whitwer is a self-proclaimed Type A Christian.  Even typing those words make me realize that most people don’t think that goes together very well.  Glyniss, like me, has felt bad for Martha, when she reprimanded for doing all the things that had to be done when Jesus visited. (my words)

In this book she discusses how busy is a part of who she is and most importantly who God made her to be.  But she doesn’t use it as an excuse for living in a way that causes neglect of the most important things in life. (as Martha did that day)

 

Glyniss states “God never meant for me to live non-stop.  God made work and rest in perfect symmetry.  We were created and commanded to work AND rest.”  Figuring out what that symmetry is the challenge and what she addresses in this book.

One area she addresses as a cause of harmful busyness is a wrong identity. 

When our identity is not found in Jesus we are often just one mistake away from going into overdrive to compensate.  Therefore that roller coaster of identity took her on a wild ride for years.

When pursuing your identity in the things you accomplish sets you up to HAVE to keep doing.  Even when you accomplish something great it is only a short a while before you have to get after the next project.

In contrast when you assign the source of your value and worth to God you will be freed from the fear of failure and opinions of others.  “The only thing that matters is what our heavenly father thinks about us and that is unchanging.”

Glyniss explores other reasons people stay busy for the wrong reasons and then moves on to what the right kind of busy is.  She explores physical rest and how some of our thoughts about being busy can affect our ability to rest.

From there she explores how physical rest leads us to Spiritual rest.

Glyniss states that Spiritual rest “happens when we stop striving.”  Stopping the striving allows us to find a deep sense of confidence.  Confidence that no matter what comes our way God is on the throne and He will not forget us.

Doing Busy Better goes on to: Explore ways to rest and the enemies of it. Presents how hurry is a heart conditions.  Lay out 5 questions to ask yourself to determine your core responsibilities, that helps us know what to stop to put an end to doing too much.  Also a challenge to implement a sabbath day and some of our mindsets that get in the way of this commanded practice.

Last I will leave you with one of my favorite quote,

“The abundant life Jesus offers is not abundant with work but with love.”


I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.  Be sure to leave your comments on my blog.

 

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Review by Rayna: Scary Close

Scary Close:  Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy is an interesting read and a deviation from what I usually share here.

I have been familiar with Donald Miller because of his business acumen not as a person.  After reading this book I would say I know him pretty well.  He challenges everything you know about being honest and authentic.  To be honest at times a little uncomfortable honest for me.

This book is Don sharing about his journey to that altar and how he rose to the challenge of truly revealing himself to his beloved.  Realizing he has been very good at performing and keeping people at a distance he shares his journey to making that change.  Willingness to get Scary Close was required.

He starts the book with an author’s note that says, “We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we are willing to show our true selves to the people around us.” Author Unknown.  This is a great opener to what Don will share throughout this book.

This is not a how to book.  There are no steps to follow rather a book to walk beside Don as he shares his journey to learning to perform less, be himself more and overcome a complicated fear of being known.

I’m not sure about you but those 3 things peaked my curiosity for sure.  Don’s stories both entertains and challenges us to look at ourselves and see what choices we are making in life. Are we living true to ourselves and developing relationships with others who know who we really are or are we playing it safe and just showing those around us the person we know they will like?

Don closes with a few bold statements about love and what he has learned about it.

“We are never going to be perfect in love but we can get close.  The closer we get, the healthier we will be.” And “Love is not a game any of us can win it’s just a story we can live and enjoy.”

If you would like to enjoy a challenging yet easy read I would encourage you to get to know Donald Miller better and learn how to get Scary Close!


I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.  Please share below.

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Review by Rayna: No Easy Jesus

No Easy Jesus:  How the Toughest Choices Lead to the Greatest Life

No Easy Jesus is an honest look at the Jesus we have made Him out to be.  Many of us got to know Jesus and were excited about our relationship with Him years ago.  Things were great but then life happened and things did not go the way we expected so we began to feel a deep disappointment.

Eventually we reach a place where we began to feel that there must be more than this to the Christian life. 

Jason lays it out in what a life of a true follower of Christ looks like.  The true Jesus follower doesn’t do the easy stuff but rather the tough stuff that makes the best life possible.  Jesus held out the promise of a rich and satisfying life.

Discouragement, frustration and boredom are common among those who are serving the easy Jesus.  You do not have to be spiritually elite to experience a different life.

No Easy Jesus challenges you to take your faith to the next level.

Chapter 10 was my favorite.  Jason talks about how difficult it is to love others.  He sheds light on how our love often turns into demands.  He reminds us that love does not demand things of others.  When love has demands then resentment often follows.  Love can only exist in freedom.  Challenging words and something I’m still processing to be honest.

I recommend this somewhat quick read.  It will challenge you and help you better understand why you might be experiencing boredom or disappointment in your relationship with Jesus.

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Review by Rayna: No More Faking Fine

No More Faking Fine:  Ending the Pretending

The title itself is one we all relate to I think.  We have all faked it during seasons of life and frankly I’m not sure there is any other way to make it  in public and on the job but the one time we NEVER have to fake it is with God.

Esther Fleece shares the story of her heartbreaking childhood and how the message to “suck it up” and do what she needed to do affected her life and relationship with the Lord.  She writes “Just because you picked yourself up again and keep moving doesn’t mean you are healed.  And if you keep moving with a wound that needs attention, you will only make it worse.”(58)

 

Esther’s journey to finding true healing is beautiful.  She has much to share with us about her experience but greater than that she challenges us to experience healing as well “Ignoring our past can rob us of the opportunity to encounter God when we need it most.  But lament opens our eyes to see He was there then and He is here now. “ (59) .  Life is painful and learning to experience lament can make all the difference in your healing.

Learning a new way to pray through the most difficult questions:  Why, How Long? Don’t Forget Me! and Forgive me brought hope to Esther and will bring hope to your life as well.

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Review by Rayna: Choose to THRIVE

Choose to THRIVE is a challenging book written for high-achieving women.  Debbie’s style of direct and to the point communication style is refreshing.  She openly shares her challenges and life experience in order to encourage her reader to address her own issues.

In the book Debbie shares 9 character qualities most high-achieving women possess and how they can cause problems in our lives.  I found myself relating to many of the qualities as I am sure you will too.

I enjoyed the style of Debbie’s book.  She points out the qualities, how they can cause a problem when unbalanced and then shares how she found balance in her own life.  Each chapter ends with questions to help you examine yourself and begin the process of working on finding your balance.

The chapter that impacted me the most was the one one perfectionism.  I have known that I have this character quality all my life and I have worked hard to put people  before perfection but I often still find myself struggling it and not even realizing I’m doing it.  Here is an excerpt from Debbie’s chapter addressing perfectionism.

It takes a conscious effort to step back and look at what we are asking for. Does it leave room for people, including ourselves, to do what they do best? Or does it pigeonhole them into doing things the way we think is best? Do people believe they have the latitude to take calculated risks without harsh repercussions? Do you give yourself grace when you mess up? Do you give your child grace when they don’t do as well as you think they should have?  Are we leaving room for God to work?

Perfectionism is something I have been aware of in my life for a long time.  I was challenged and encouraged by the way Debbie addressed her struggle with perfectionism.  If you consider yourself a high-achiever I’m sure that you will benefit from reading Choose to THRIVE and examining some of the inner conflicts you face.

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