Empty Shelf Challenge Book #14: “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg

I finished my 14th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg

I’ve actually finished 18 books at this point due to being wicked pregnant and encouraged to stay off my swollen feet. Today is the baby’s due date, so I’m trying to finish up a few of these posts before she arrives 🙂

I was  introduced to John Ortberg almost a decade ago. I don’t remember who encouraged me to read his books, but I’m so glad they did!

I know I had started this book previously, but I’m unsure if I ever finished it before. I ‘m so glad I did now! It was a very appropriate book for the season that we’ve been in for over 2 years now, almost 3, when God called us to make the big step of moving to Virginia. Though we are now back in Massachusetts, that was another big step in choosing to trust God when we’re not sure what He could be doing.

The premise of the book is based on Matthew 14, where Jesus walks on water toward the disciples and beckons Peter to come to him. The book outlines several other stories from Scripture where people are called out of their comfort zones and into a life of faith and trust.

I’m not much for underlining in books unless it’s a text book. I’m more of the dog ear type. Well, this book is more dog-earred than any other I’ve read this year. Just so many relevant and challenging points. So many little takeaways. Here are a few.

“What am I doing that I could not do apart from the power of God?” pg. 79

“If I had it all to do over again – I would have trusted Christ more.” pg. 88

“Your heart is revealed and your character is forged when life does not turn out the way you planned.” pg. 100-101

“Worry is fear that has unpacked its bags and signed a long-term lease.” pg. 123

“It is fear that threatens to keep people from trusting and obeying God.” pg. 124

And there were many more.

If you are in a season where God is calling you to do faith-filled scary things, this book is for you. If you simply want to learn to rely on God more in everyday life, this book is for you. If you are tired of fear dictating your choices, this book is for you.

I imagine that pretty much covers everyone 🙂

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:
           

 

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #13: “Hope Runs” by Claire Diaz-Ortiz & Samuel Ikua Gachagua

I finished my 13th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.


Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption by Claire Diaz-Ortiz & Samuel Ikua Gachagua

I don’t remember who recommended this book to me; I think it was my husband. This is another book I got through PaperbackSwap, a resource that I love!

The story follows the life of the author, Claire, as she takes several “find yourself”-type trips with her friend Lara. The last trip has them ending in Kenya, where they board at an orphanage there. The children steal their hearts. They end up returning for a longer period to establish a running program for the orphans, who are in desperate need of extracurricular activities. The book alternates with Claire and a young man named Sammy, who lives at the orphanage, writing chapters. The kids eventually run a marathon, and Claire & Lara sponsor Sammy, so that he can come finish high school in America.

While the main author, Claire, is a Christian and this comes up several times, faith was not the main focus of the book. In fact, Claire’s traveling partner, Lara, was not a Christian. There is a funny story in the book where the kids ask Lara to pray for them before they run the marathon, not realizing that she might not believe in God. Rather than explain and possibly shatter their little worlds, she goes ahead and prays 🙂 In the orphans’ eyes, Lara will always be a Christian.

I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read, and I devoured it in a couple of days. I’m like that with well-written, biography-style stories (books #15 & #16, if I ever catch up on writing these posts, were also biographies/autobiographies). It is eye-opening, hearing about all the trials Sammy had to go through before he & his brother ended up in the orphanage. To some, landing in an orphanage might seem like a bad thing, but Sammy describes his emotions as “happy beyond control.” There, he is guaranteed food and a bed and a stable environment. That’s a lot for a boy whose father died unexpectedly and whose mother abandoned him and his siblings.

It’s eye-opening to read Claire’s story as well – to see what God can do when you are willing to open yourself to the needs around you.

Definitely recommend this book.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:
           

 

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #12: “Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective” by William W. Menzies & Stanley M. Horton

I finished my 12th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.

Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective by William W. Menzies & Stanley M. Horton

I actually read a slightly older version, since that’s the edition I was told to read. I mentioned before I’m working on finishing up my ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God, and this book helps in studying for the written test.

The book basically walks the reader through the 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God, including the corresponding Scriptures. While none of this was new for me, it went further in explaining concepts I was already familiar with.

This book would certainly be enlightening to anyone with an interest in the theology of the Pentecostal movement.

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge:
           

 

Monday Morning Meditation: Waiting Well

At the time this is published, I will be 1 day shy of 39 weeks pregnant.

I wish I could say that pregnancy has been all roses and silver-lined clouds, but it hasn’t. It’s been 9 months of waiting and dreaming and at times dreading what is to come.

After 2 difficult births including a c-section, after walking with friends who have experienced babies born still, after losing one of my children to miscarriage, I know all the possibilities of what could happen over the course of these long months.

Baby Girl at the mid-pregnancy ultrasound

Even now, with a child still in my womb as I type this, I know that the next few days and weeks and months of this child’s life are in many ways out of my control. I don’t know how the birth will go. I don’t know if this child will have severe food sensitivities like her oldest brother, and how that might impact what and how we both eat. I can only pray she’ll be healthy and that things will go smoothly.

But there are no guarantees.

All the fears and doubts I’ve wrestled with during this time have brought me to the question:

How do I wait well?

What does that look like?

I can tell you what it doesn’t look like because I’ve been doing a lot of that. Moving 500 miles 6 months into the pregnancy likely didn’t help! Waiting well does not look like worrying and doubting and giving in to fear. It doesn’t look like allowing your imagination to run wild with all the things that could happen and focusing on those things. It doesn’t mean giving in to the depression and anxiety that at times comes so naturally.

Yesterday, as I didn’t wait well, these verses came to mind.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)

What are we waiting for, anyway? In any period of waiting, while we might be waiting for something specific to happen (like the birth of a child), what we are really waiting on is The Lord.

One way we wait well, as demonstrated by the psalmist, is by putting our hope in His Word.

I realized upon reflection that I had been putting my hope in things turning out a certain way, and not only is that not beneficial, that clearly wasn’t working for me! I was reminded that the only real secure hope I have is God, and one way to rejuvenate that hope within me was to reflect on His Word.

I knew I need to fill myself with His truth, and I chose to do that through worship. You may put your hope in His Word by reading the Bible or listening to it, listening to sermons, or reading a Christian book. I pulled out my guitar and started to sing.

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

This oldie but goodie has carried me through many a challenging time, and I went on from there, singing songs as they came to mind.

How can you fill yourself with truth today? In your present circumstances, what would it mean to hope in God’s Word?

“Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.”

Psalm 130:7

Empty Shelf Challenge Book #11: “Thin Places” by Mary DeMuth

I finished my 11th book for the #EmptyShelf challenge.


Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary DeMuth

I began interacting with Mary after a conference I attended and spoke at several years back. She was one of the featured speakers. I’m not exactly sure what prompted my contacting her, other than she has a fresh and unique way of talking about challenging issue like her experience of childhood sexual abuse.

I read one of her novels in 2013 (hence, it’s lack of mention in the #EmptyShelf challenge!). I then started her new book, Not Marked. It hits a bit too close to home, and I was having trouble finishing it (because it’s amazing and challenging and convicting), and took a break to read something else. Since I’ve been slowly collecting her book through Paperback Swap, I already had Thin Places: A Memoir.

I decided to bring it with me for my wait at the RMV 🙂

Mary has a talent for drawing the reader in, and thus, I read this book in a few days. I expected Mary’s writing to be more focused on the abuse she endured, and while she does talk about that, she does a masterful job of truly weaving life in and out of the pages. She also has a gift for seeing where God is and where He was throughout all the triumphs and trials.

This book will encourage you no matter what, but especially if you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Mary’s work is a joy to read, and she’s a joy to know, even if it’s just through the internet 🙂

My books so far on the #EmptyShelf challenge: