Ever feel uninvited? Alone? Isolated?

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It’s no secret that I do book reviews, and that I have cut down on the number of them this year.  I made a conscious decision to not just take anything that looked good or sounded interesting.  Instead, I wanted to focus on ones I would have purchased anyway, recommended to me, or that I felt led to read for a purpose.  Lysa TerKeurst’s book Uninvited fulfilled all three of those litmus tests. I did received a copy of the book for free for the purpose of reviewing, however my views and opinions are my own (in case you didn’t know, legally I have to say that).

Normally, when I do a review, I highlight the entire book.  I will share why I think you should read it, who I would recommend the book to, etc.  But, I want to approach this one a bit differently.  Why?  Because… I think this book is very important for YOU to read.  Yes, YOU.  Whomever is sitting on the other side of the screen.  YOU, the woman who feels alone.  YOU, the husband who needs to see his wife more clearly.  YOU, the parent who is present in body and absent in mind.   YOU, the women’s ministry leader that is shepherding the hearts of women.  YOU, the Pastor that needs a better understanding of sixty five percent of his church body that is crying out for value.

In the years that I have been serving women, secular groups and in the church, I have found a very common thread.  Women who are insecure in their identity.  Women who don’t feel valued or wanted, women that feel overlooked.  Women with baggage that still haunts them and needles away at their insecurities.  Women who feel left out and rejected.  Women who will hide themselves away in a false security.

If this even remotely sounds like you, or someone you love… I think you should read this book.  I think you should take your time reading this book.  I think you should have your Bible next to you as you read this book.  I think you should be writing down the things that jump off the page, your reaction to these words, and the issues it is bringing to head.  I think you need to take this to your spouse, mentor, or accountability partner and talk about it.  And, I think you need to pray as you do all of this with the goal of taking and LEAVING it all at the foot of the cross.

Because, you are loved.  You are valued.  You are created in His image.  You are called to Kingdom work.  You are welcomed.  You are invited to the wedding banquet.  You are adopted into a holy family.  YOU.  With your baggage, insecurity, anxiety, and all of the lies that you have listened to and told yourself.  YOU.

These are just a few quotes from the book, that may resonate with you…

“Broken boards can’t provide stability.” … “for years I’d been expecting stability from a broken identity.”

“Being hidden made me feel wonderfully secure.”

“I loved the feeling that life could happen around me but not to me.”

“… as long as I stayed hidden, life stayed in control and I stayed safe.”

“Things of this world all eventually reveal what incapable anchors they really are.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

What are you anchoring yourself to? Where are you finding your identity?

Lysa’s book is important because it addresses the root fears in our lives that cause us to pull back from freedom in Christ.  It exposes the lies we believe, and turns our face to God who LOVES us… NO MATTER WHAT.    However, for the confident woman, I believe this book opens our eyes to the struggles that many women face.  It can give us compassion towards our fellow sisters in Christ, and encourage use to extend a hand of invitation.

Last year, I was at a party.  The ladies were going on about plans they were making for the following week.  My husband happened to overhear the women, and spoke up… “Gena hasn’t said anything about that.  Is she not going?”    At the moment, the women didn’t even realize that I hadn’t been invited.   I wasn’t intentionally left out, each had assumed another invited me and I just wasn’t able to come.

When I heard the women speaking plainly about their plans in front of me, I felt excluded.  I was hurt, and I didn’t speak up for myself.  My husband stepped up as my champion in that moment.  He knew something wasn’t right, and handled it in such a gentle way.  This is why I encourage you to not just read the book and take notes, but speak to your spouse or mentor about it.   You have others who can speak for you when appropriate, but can also give you clear perspective on finding your own voice.

It’s a great book, but be forewarned, you are going to have to open yourself up to being vulnerable (even with your self) to glean the best this book has to offer.

Are you ready?

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WHO ARE YOU?

hellomynameis
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no make and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  – Galatians 3:26-28

In the last few weeks I have had an opportunity to read a few different books, all from authors I had never heard of before.  Each of the books were published within the last year.  The topics covered everything from diversity within the church to international missions.  Yet, there was an underlying theme in each one, that I could not escape noticing.  Maybe, it was because I was reading the books in succession, and if there were more time between them, I wouldn’t have caught it. Or, perhaps, God is laying something on the hearts of His people.  Each delivering this message in a different way, to a different group of people.

This underlying theme was all about identity.  How do you identify yourself?  Who are you?

If someone were to ask you those questions, how would you answer?

I am a teacher.  I am a woman.  I am a mother.  I am a doctor.  I am a wife.  I am a dreamer.  I am an artist.  I am a writer. I am a leader.  I am Hispanic.  I am a volunteer.  I am a student.  I am an advocate for victims.  I am a speaker.

And while all, some, or just one of these statements may be true about you; that is not all you are.  In fact, there is something that is even more important.  You are a Christian.  You are an image bearer of God.

Too often we can allow ourselves to get so root in our position, platform, or passions, that we allow that to become our identity.  We become known for our words, skills, dedication, gifts, spouse, kids… and not the God who gave those things to us.  We unknowingly begin taking credit for it, and our identity in Christ takes the second or third rung.

In the book UNIFIED, in regard to diversity, the author states that we should be identifying as brothers and sisters in Christ first, before our ethnicity.  This is what unifies the body, despite our difference in skill color, culture or traditions.

In the book MADE FOR MORE, in regards to women, the author states that we should identify with our brothers and sisters in Christ first, before our gender.  I am a Christian woman not a woman who is a Christian.
We are Christians, who are parents.  We are Christians, who are missionaries  We are Christians, who are teachers.  We are Christians, who are Pastors.  We are Christians, who are African American.  We are Christians, who are advocates for victims of domestic violence.

When we begin to acknowledge that first in ourselves, and others, it can change everything about how you think, act, and serve.

Father God, I praise you for the wonderful Creator that you are.  You have made us all so different, yet unified us as members of your family.  I think you for our gifts and the passions that you have laid on our hearts.  May they be used to serve you, and for your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This Devotion was written by Gena McCown for the TC3 Women’s Ministry Devotion Website.
 

BOOK Review: Made for More by Hannah Anderson

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The buzz on the street regarding the book “Made for More” by Hannah Anderson was strong, so strong that it actually caused me to shift my reading list.  I had planned to read something else this week, but I couldn’t resist. I had to read this book that I was hearing was one of the most important books written for women.  Who wouldn’t want to read that.

In Regards to the Author:  Hannah Anderson

Anderson is a female writer I can get behind.  Her style is very easy to read, but also very direct and to the point.  She doesn’t use a lot of filler or unnecessary illustration to get her point across.  This book was not a thick book, but I found myself taking extra time to read it (and even re-read some passages) because of the content.  Her vision in her writing is clear, her execution of that vision is on point.  Her language and content structure makes this book a great read for anyone, women and men alike.  Men will appreciate her straightforwardness, as much as I do.

In Regards to the Book:  Made for More

The overall theme of this book points our attention that we are made in God’s image, and for his purposes… which is MORE THAN WE COULD EVER IMAGINE ON OUR OWN.  In “Made for More” we are reminded that our identity should be rooted in Christ before anything else.   I am a Christian, who is also a woman… not a woman, who is also a Christian.  I am an image bearer of God, and thus I need to really take a look at myself in the mirror and evaluate how good of a job I am doing.  It is easy to allow our identity to get caught up in our position, who we are married to, our children, our hobbies, our volunteer service, ministry, ethnicity.   When we do that we are taking the attention off of God and putting it onto the thing we do & who we are instead.

As we learn more about our status as image bearers we can begin to give the same gifts to others that God has given us…. grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, love……

I can’t recommend this book enough, to all women… but men as well.  While it is written toward women, there is a lot men can glean from it.  How you will not only view your identity will be changed for the better, allowing you to walk forward with confidence in God and his plans for you.  It changes you at a foundational level, and everything built upon that will be all the stronger.

Highlights from the Text:

“In order to know yourself and exist as you were meant to exist, you must live in dependent communion with Him; you must be in loving relationship with others; and you must exercise creative care over creation.  And when any of these elements is off-kilter, you will experience a loss of identity and feel disoriented simply because you are not existing as you were created to exist.”  (Made for More, Hannah Anderson)

“When we turn from God, when we refuse to base our identity in Him, we are compelled to find it somewhere else because we must reflect something.  And when we do, we sin.”  (Made for More, Hannah Anderson)

He is calling you to faith.  Faith to believe that He made you to be so much more than your momentary desires.  Faith to believe that He made you to be more than your brokenness, more than your sin.  Faith to believe that authenticity means  faithfulness to the deepest part of His nature.   Faith to believe that you were made for glory. ”  (Made for More, Hannah Anderson)

There is no forgiveness; there is no redemption.  No public apology is sufficient.  No attempt to pay back is enough.  No acknowledgement of guilt or repentance will ever be adequate.  And we wonder why the people closest to us – in our homes, churches and schools – have a hard time acknowledging their own failures.  Could it be that we’ve faithfully demonstrated to them that there will be no grace when they do?”   (Made for More, Hannah Anderson)   (honestly, I could have quoted this whole chapter -Gena)

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Made for More, Hannah Anderson)

 

Purchase Information

Made for More

Hannah Anderson

Moody Publishers

ISBN # 13:978-0-8024-1032-0