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I can hardly believe it is November already. October was a blur, and for whatever reason I didn’t read nearly as many books as in other months this year. That being said, I DID read enough to introduce you to some great, new reads.
Indestructible by Allison Fallon
I have followed Ally’s blog for many years and remember when she got married, seemingly out of nowhere and the next thing I knew she wasn’t married any more. When I saw that she was writing a book about the experience I was eager to read it, not just to satisfy my human curiosity, but because that is a LOT to go through in a short period of time. If anyone can relate to a story of change, heartbreak, and uncertainty, it is me! When the opportunity to join her launch team and snag an advanced copy came up, I immediately volunteered.
Indestructible reads like part memoir, part like a friend imparting advice after learning it the hard way. She does not gloss over some of the hard parts of her story, but she also doesn’t make it salacious. She showed a lot of courage in writing about her story so honestly, and I think anyone who has been through a divorce will appreciate it.
Preach To Yourself by Haley Morgan
I had no idea what this book was about, but I saw a lot of people posting about it so I decided to see what the fuss was. I read Haley’s book (with Jess Connolly) Wild and Free, and I liked it, but it didn’t resonate with me like this one did. It’s not often I devour a non-fiction, theological book as fast as I did Preach To Yourself.
Many women I’ve met have voiced the same frustration of not being able to embody what they believe. It’s like we are wearing the clothes, not becoming the person. Like actors in a really great adventure movie, it’s as if we know the script inside and out but still wish it was real life.
I’ve never had a book so frankly, or accurately discuss some the way I have questioned my faith. You might recall from my review of the book Inspired that I’ve recently been re-examining what exactly it is I believe and taking my faith off of auto-pilot. While Inspired asked a lot of the same questions I have, Preach To Yourself helped me to connect the dots.She helped me to answer why sometime I wonder if God is really there, and if I truly believe why do I still doubt?
This dissonance is a curse of the fall. It is a condition of our humanity, part of our fallen nature. We aren’t lined up perfectly with God because the only way to do that is through Jesus.
This book covers so much more ground than I feel like I can summarize here, but in essence it breaks down what and why we may have a disconnect with our faith and just how to address it. I see myself re-reading this over and over again. Highly recommend!
Once We Were Strangers by Shawn Smucker
Mohammed and his family fled Syria in 2012 after a bomb blew a hole in their wall. Their journey to safety led them to Jordan, and eventually to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where they met the Smucker family. Shawn was looking for an angle to write a book on Mohammed, but as he got to know him he was stunned to realize that the greatest lesson he had learned was one of friendship.
He cannot possibly know in that moment that this is exactly what I need to hear. I am wearied by the actions of wealthy, powerful men. I find the world to be an increasingly intolerable place, full of hatred and evil and violence. But then there is Mohammed, reminding me to see the good in the world, reminding me to count our blessings.
I think the reason this book resonated with me so much is that it reminded me of my friend Jen. I met Jen working in a salon right after she got out of prison. She was one of the kindest and most genuine people I had ever met and we became fast friends. Jen was a wife and mom of 5 who owned her own salon in a small town when she was prescribed pain pills for an injury. Thanks to an addictive personality and unscrupulous doctor she quickly became addicted. When her family finally had her court-committed to treatment she did what she did best, she made friends. Unfortunately those friends led her down the path of meth addiction and within 7 months she had lost her salon, her family, and even her teeth. She cleaned herself up and to my knowledge never used meth again.
Jen was always very open and honest with me about her addiction. She said, “Melissa, I was just a wife and mom. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.” She put a face on drug addiction for me. Where I once thought eww, drug addicts are all selfish low-lifes, now I can see that sometimes it’s a fine line that separates us from those we judge.
For Shawn Smucker, Mohammed put a face on immigrants – particularly Syrian immigrants.
Some of my family members are terrified of Muslims. They glean from the news the worst and project it on everyone who bears that label. I wish they could be here with me in the quiet, in the half-light. I wish they could eat this food and see this family, their devotion, their kindness, their hospitality.
This book is both timely and thought-provoking. It tugged at my heart strings and challenged some of my preconceived notions and prejudices. I think everyone should read it.
The Ministry Of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin
It seems that EVERYONE was reading this book, so of course I couldn’t be left out. I had previously read Shannan’s book Falling Free and I loved it. In that book she talked about giving up the life that they had strived for, the one that looked a lot like the American Dream, and following God’s call into an uncomfortable and insecure life that held meaning and impact.
The Ministry of Ordinary Places asks the question, what does it look like to live lives of meaning? We often assume we need to be missionaries in a foreign country or on staff at a church to be working in full-time ministry. This book challenges us to see that God has placed us exactly where we need to be to affect the people he wants us to.
The details will look quiet and ordinary. They will exhaust and exhilarate us. But it will be the most worth-it adventure we will ever take. Let’s go.
This book covers so many intricacies of the topic its hard to adequately summarize it, but I would describe it as a guide on how to see God’s hand working in the ordinary details of our lives and points to ways we can maximize the ministry of the everyday ordinary. If you are a busy wife and mom, or just someone feeling a little bored and unfulfilled this will be a life-changing read.