Chasing God, part two! (And there’s a giveaway!)

When you learn to write essays as a kid, a lot of teachers teach you to use this very loose scaffold as you write: you tell them what you’re going to tell them (your introduction), you tell them what you’re telling them (the body), and then you tell them what you told them (your conclusion). I’d like to tell you what this post will contain:

1. A more thorough review of Angie Smith’s book Chasing God; and
2. A giveaway of Chasing God! (Yes, you read it right, a second giveaway!)

Let’s get started!

I’ve always appreciated that Angie’s writing is so honest. I’ve been reading her blog since not long after her daughter Audrey was born and died hours later, and she’s always had this incredible gift to capture powerful emotions in her writing – and even better, she’s got an even bigger gift for bringing those emotions back to the Lord. Sometimes I get all kinds of caught up in what I’m feeling and trust me when I say I feel ALL THE THINGS and I spiral out of control with oh the emotion. In those moments, I need to be smacked in the face with a reminder that God is always bigger that whatever I might feel – because my feelings are quick and changing and varied, but the Lord is long-suffering and never changes and remains the same. Angie’s blog and books have always been a smack, a gentle smack but a smack nonetheless, in the face.

Enter Chasing God.

Maybe you’ve never asked the question out loud, but you’ve wondered. You do the things that look good on paper: read your Bible, pray, attend study groups and go to church on Sundays.

But you aren’t convinced you really know Him.

Angie Smith understands, because she had run circles around the same paths searching for Him, frustrated at her lack of progress. And she probably would have continued to do so had it not been for one realization that changed everything.

She wasn’t following God; she was trying to catch up with Him.

And without realizing it, you may be as well.

It’s a distinction that affects every aspect of our lives with Christ, and it begins with learning where we’ve relied more on man’s explanation of God than God Himself.

So many requirements, so many rules, and so much guilt where there is supposed to be freedom. It’s the reason you wonder if you’ve measured up, and the nagging voice that tells you you’re a failure as a Christian.

Three simple words changed everything for Angie, and she believes they can do the same for you.

(From Goodreads)

Honestly, when I first read what the book was about, I really struggled with the concept. Isn’t chasing after God a good thing? After all, if we are chasing Him, we are trying to get to Him. We are trying to know Him. And then I started reading the book and I realized exactly why it was not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Because I have been bent over a Bible, looking at His words but not living them.

My heart is one of an academic. I love school and books and learning and everything about education. And that is exactly where I realized I kept finding myself in the God-Krista relationship. I was chasing Him through texts and commentaries and sermons on podcasts. None of these things are bad by themselves, but my heart was in the wrong place.

I wanted to master the content but not the Creator.

(Wow, I feel like that sounded really deep, which means I probably read it somewhere else and am unintentionally stealing it. If you recognize this statement, please let me know and I’ll give credit where credit is due!)

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with the lead pastor at the church where I work. He has an incredible mind for recalling verses from the Bible verbatim in seconds. I do not have this ability. Not at all. It took me six weeks to memorize ONE verse from Pslam 45. I was reflecting on the fact that I wish I could remember verses the way he could when I had this totally random and totally profound realization:

God knew when He was doing when He designed my brain (well, that’s not really that profound). He gave me a love and thirst for words and for knowledge, but He didn’t give me a mind able to recall it after one go-round because then I’d never pick it up again. I’d chase Him until I mastered Him and then I wipe my hands off and smile and feel proud of conquering the subject. He gave me instead a mind that loves to learn but must read and reread and talk about things and reflect on them in order for them to sink in.

1507677_558338440907859_984155449_n

THANK YOU, LORD. For knowing me much better than I’ll ever know myself. Because I know to know You, not just understand You. If that means reading and reading and reading Your Word repeatedly, then I’ll do it.

I’ve gotten a little off topic here. Chasing God is Angie’s story of how she found herself doing exactly what I was doing, although in different ways. (We do share a strong affinity for highlighters and Post-It notes, however.) I didn’t get what it meant to chase God until Angie explained it… and then I realized how very much I saw myself in her. Through personal stories — which is Angie’s style (very conversational, very real, very connected) — we see developed what it means to chase God. Her writing is witty and powerful and relevant to women in all seasons of life. I cannot praise it highly enough. Some of the (many!) things I have highlighted in my copy include the quotes in these graphics that Angie shared on Facebook and Instagram:

1512780_559277564147280_1628935274_n

I think what really hit home the most for me as Angie’s writing unfolded is that for those who seek God, it’s often because we desire to know the answers when the reality is, our minds are finite. We are human, we are being sanctified, and He will only share with us what we need to know. Not all of it. What He sees fit.

d5b99c6c3b6a65cc9b550d57dfb672d1

And Angie so succiently reminds readers that it is when we put aside the quest for factual knowledge and see to know, personally and intimately know, God — it’s then that we aren’t looking for Him but instead looking at Him. She clearly explains the difference — and I get it, I really do. Because my relationships with my friends would be so different if I only wanted to know the cut-and-dry details of them instead of spending time with them developing a relationship with them. Why should God be different? He should be my very best friend – and we don’t chase our very best friends.

1545043_569158589825844_1141480522_n

Here is the kicker for me: when I find myself chasing God, running breathless in an attempt to catch up to Him — it’s then that I’m relying not on faith but my own power. My power is weak and minimal but God’s is not. When I let go and walk with Him instead of desperately trying to catch up and maybe even beat Him, when my faith is resting firmly on who He is, who He will be — it’s then that I am most satisfied and at peace.

Angie is truly a gifted wordsmith. This book would be incredible for a wide range of women, from those just beginning their walk with the Lord to those seeking to spend time together in a Bible study to accountability partners reading it together and discussing how they are chasing God in their own lives.

– – – – – – – – – –

I obviously loved Chasing God and the great news is that I have an opportunity to share another copy with you! If you read my last giveaway of this book you will remember that I somehow managed to preorder this book three times, hence the giveaway. Well, this time the B&H Publishers and Icon Media Group are giving me a copy to give away! You can enter up to three times:

1. Leave me a comment telling me how you’ve seen yourself chasing God in your own life.
2. Tweet about the giveaway. I don’t care what language you use, just make sure you include to twitter handle (@kristaonpurpose) and a link to this blog post (here’s a shorter link: ) Leave me a comment with a link to your tweet.
3. Follow me on twitter (@kristaonpurpose). Leave me a comment with your twitter handle!

Giveaway ends on Friday, March 7 at noon PST!

– – – – – – – – – –

Typical disclaimer: I was given an ARC of Chasing God for review purposes from B&H Publishers and Icon Media Group in exchanged for an honest, unbiased opinion of the book. All reviews are my own and I wasn’t pressured into a positive review – I just really loved this book!

Advertisements

legacy

I am the most nostalgic person I know,
waiting for the feelings and memories that things evoke –
music drifting from the radio,
weather (rain or wind or sun) touching my skin,
sounds – the laughing and crying and sighing of human living -,
tv shows playing as background noise.
My brain is hard-wired
to go into reminiscing, but
lately I find myself nostalgic for things I
can’t possibly miss because
they haven’t happened yet.

Boiling the kettle, watching the wispy steam rise through its mouth
(silently because I let it boil dry once and warp the plastic),
I find myself reaching out to a memory where we shared a cup of rooibos together,
you putting in the milk and sugar just the way I like,
our bodies curled up together on the sofa under a warm,
brightly patterned quilt given to use by friends.
The tv plays in the background as we spend our Sunday evening
catching up on the recorded shows we’re too busy to watch regularly,
laughing our way through the days and weeks and years and these sweet hours together.
I remember it.

Or as I flip the bacon over in the frying pan,
greasy flames of hot bacon far biting into my skin as I distractedly
think about the way to cook your eggs and toast, with butter and browned just slightly.
I fill the plates with our food and slide a knife and fork
onto the table next to the plate (a gift from a thoughtful friend),
telling myself the fork goes on the left and the knife on the right as I wait for you to slip in next to me and
for our littles to come running in with their hands and faces sticky
and their lives sticky to ours. We wait for you t0
bow your head and hold my hands and
bless this sweet union of God and us before we
eat.
I remember it.

And at times when I’m folding the laundry,
dutifully pairing socks and folding pajamas into neat little piles of perfect cotton,
I simply and sweetly recall the holes in your jeans that need to be hemmed,
the wet towel you left on the floor this morning in a damp pile
in front of the bathroom sink,
and the scent of sweat on the shirt you wore to work yesterday.
I look at the framed pictures (taken by our talented friends) lining our walls, you
and me, and then of us and them, their little faces
a reflection of us in miniature, a reminder of the
glory and gifts of God.
I fold and I wait for them you to return home to me after
a long day.
I remember it.

I know that some day, I will be lying in my bed, in our bed, and what will slip
into my mind as I drift off to sleep next to
the warmth and familiar curve of your body
will be the recollection of this empty spot next to me now, my pillows
pushed into a haphazard pile in all that extra space. I will recall
a bed I didn’t have to make
because it was a space only for me and I didn’t
care about its messiness (but you care). Holding your hand,
listening to your breath, my lullaby,
I will remember that once, my memories were not
linear, did not move the way they should and I imagined you
long before you held me as we slept.

#HappyBirthdayHoogle!

Dear Charisse,

Today you are ten years old. It’s been more than three thousand days since I met you for the first time. Closer to four thousand if we are doing an estimate. That’s crazy. It seems like I was just meeting you for the first time and yet it seems like I’ve known you for a thousand years – quite the paradox.

Holding my sissy-missy on her birth day.

Holding my sissy-missy on her birth day.

Oh sissy, I just love this first picture of me holding you. From the moment I saw you, I loved you. I loved you before you were born, yes, but it was different. I didn’t know you. It wasn’t until I met you on February 12, 2004 that I realized how deep love can run in our veins. You won’t know until you’re an auntie or a mama how much love it’s possible to possess. Thank you for giving me that love. It has changed my heart and my life forever – if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t know how to love people the way I do. Someday I hope you get to love my own littles the way I love you – unceasingly. without end. infinitely.

IMG_3534

You are the most amazing kid I know. May your tenth birthday be the start point of growing even more creative, kind, intelligent, beautiful, and compassionate. If I could, I would give you the world – but I know you don’t need me to because you’re already going out there and making a difference in the lives of other people.. Keep on kicking booty and taking names.

IMG_0376

As we celebrate this tenth birthday, I want to tell you:

Live adventurously.

Front Camera
Take the world by storm. 

IMG_9691

Hold it captive.

IMG_9933

Inspire – others and yourself.

IMG_0125

Do good.

IMG_9919

Keep on going good, even when people laugh at you.

IMG_0725

Dream mammoth dreams.

IMG_9784

Live an exorbitantly large life.

IMG_3824

Fly.

IMG_3685

Soar.

IMG_3583

Be marvelous you.

I love with so much starfish,
Sissy