Okay friends, let’s be real: who is already burnt out on New Year’s resolutions? It amazes me just how quickly the excitement of a new year can wear off, but I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised this time around at how much the refreshing feeling of a new year has stuck with me. I had the chance this past weekend to be my boring self in the best way: I cleaned out my closet, drank numerous cups of coffee, and read books on the couch with my husband (with football buzzing in the background, of course).
For my old soul, it was the best way to spend a weekend – especially the first weekend of the year. Now, some of you who know me well probably had to do a double-take on the thought of my reading books all weekend, because I am admittedly not an avid reader. BUT, I have a feeling there are many more nights flipping pages to come, and I’ll tell you why.
It started over Christmas break, when Jordan’s sweet grandmother was thoughtful enough to gift me with The Magnolia Story. It was one of those gifts you didn’t even know you wanted, until you open it and your eyes light up. After all, I am a little bit of a Fixer Upper fan…
Needless to say, I read the book cover to cover in a matter of a few days. It was inspiring and refreshing, but most importantly, it was another story of God’s grace and provision in the lives of two ordinary people. What these two Christ-followers articulated so well is that you don’t have to be famous to impact other people, and that the journey of following your calling is often messy, unexpected, and requires persistence.
For so long, I’ve had this notion in my mind that any book I opened needed to be directly and unmistakably focused on the Gospel. I actually wrote a blog post on this once (5 years ago… what?!), where I realized just how important it was to my spiritual life to read and consume content that pointed me back to Jesus. There is value in that, of course. Reading The Magnolia Story — or even a book like Mere Christianity or The Reason for God — is never a substitute for reading God’s word (and believe me, I’ve made that mistake before too). BUT, I had this moment while reading through Chip and Joanna’s book that really lifted the weight off of my shoulders and made me realize: it’s okay to be inspired by other people and their journey. It doesn’t mean that my Christianity is watered down, or that I’m pursuing the wrong path — God put us in community to love and serve one another, and I think part of that is finding encouragement in someone else’s imperfect story.
It’s all about balance, of course. And we need to make sure we find it if we want to pursue God rightly. But as I’ve continued to revel in this concept, I felt called to share it with all of you. How many times have we been fooled by the concept of perfection, and what it means to say the right thing, wear the right thing, care about the right things, and so on? SO, my charge to you: let’s spend 2018 being inspired by our imperfect stories that are being woven together by a perfect God. I’m excited, and I hope you are too.
In the spirit of championing others’ stories, I wanted to share with you a few books / blogs I’ve read lately that have really evoked a passion in me to embrace what it means to be myself and NOT perfect, and to be willing to share my story, my struggles, and ultimately how God is redeeming me through all of it:
The Magnolia Story (obviously.):
“I always thought that the ‘thriving’ would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good… I worked hard to try to do it all, to try to live up to the Pinterest perfection that only leaves you discontented. I finally realized that life isn’t found on the pages of a magazine — life is found in the glass of spilled milk and in the long, narrow hallway filled with socks and soccer balls.”
Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist:
“Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem. Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle or fairy tale. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.”
P.S. those of you who read this blog regularly know I LOVE this book. You can take a look at my original post on this book here.
Joy. – Darby Ciervo (this is a blog post that was so amazing and inspiring to me.)
“I’m not switching over to #Blessed because I suddenly got something I wanted. I’ve learned (through much grumbling), we are blessed, because we have Hope, we have Christ. You, my friend, are blessed, even if you feel forgotten. You are not. Even if you feel rejected, you are not. Suffering is a beautiful, painful fire of refinement.”
What have you been reading lately that I should dive into? I’m all ears and ready for another page-turner (or great blog!). Happy 2018, y’all – let’s do better than perfect this year. Let’s be real.