what i read in june.

This month was all about packing light and letting go of all the right things, with two very different memoirs.

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15. No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering by Clara Bensen 

I demanded rainbows like Noah and manna like Moses. I wanted to feel eternity shooting up my spine.

This travel memoir was less about minimalism and more about a love story in a way that I didn’t expect — I originally picked it up because I thought it was going to help me clean out my closet. Instead, Bensen shares about her story through a big chunk of Europe and parts of Asia in three weeks with her “boyfriend” (although they at the time they didn’t even know if they were going to become exclusive), never changing from the same dress. She grew up in a conservative Christian home, and was homeschooled, and has now rejected the faith. For this reason, it was sad to see the blinders in her eyes to the gospel –  but if you want a lighthearted memoir, it was a fun summer read overall – with accurate looks into modern romance.

Recommendation status: It’s not the best book to find wisdom and guidance, but she is a beautiful writer and I’m glad I read it.

286 Pages.

 

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16. Packing Light: Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt 

Maybe it’s what makes a chance worth taking, even when it’s dangerous — the opportunity to live a life that extends beyond us, that saves the lives of others. 

This book was about her 50-state road trip and all the lessons that she learning about holding on and letting go along the way. It’s a sweet, honest depiction of love, heartbreak, and friendship. I appreciated her fresh perspective on the gospel. She covers a myriad of topics, but made everything fit sweetly into the purpose of the book. Once again, it was less about minimalism in itself — but it expressed the reasons behind living with less, both emotionally and materialistically.  I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Allison Vesterfelt before — some of her reviewers were Gary Thomas, Shauna Niequist, and John Mark Comer.

Recommendation status: If you are looking for a pep talk to embrace the life you’ve always dreamed of, this is a good place to start.

252 pages.

 

Up Next On The Reading List…

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Scary Close by Donald Miller

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life — Hannah Whitall Smith

 

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peace, packing light, and baby steps

If we were to have a coffee date, and I would look in your eyes, this is what I would say that I’ve been learning and this is where I am coveting your prayers. I would look like a hot mess, because I am tired. But I’d have a sparkle in my eye — because although I need rest and clarity, I am expectant.

1. I want to learn how to pack light. 

Both physically and metaphorically.

I wonder if this is why packing light scares us so much, because we aren’t sure we’ll get exactly what we want. We’re scared to choose anything – a school, a job, a spouse – because choosing one thing means letting go of several others. But sometimes having limited options is a blessing. It makes it easier to choose our path, and choosing means we get to zoom in and enjoy our one, complicated, imperfect path, instead of trying to halfway entertain a bunch of others. No matter which school we pick, it won’t be perfect. No matter who we marry, our spouse will have flaws. But choosing means jumping in and accepting that path for all of its triumphs and trials. It means letting go of other roads, but in the end, it’s better than never really choosing anything at all. In order to hold on to one thing, you have to let go of something else. — Allison Vesterfelt

More on this soon…

2. Pray for me?

Speaking of packing light, I am packing over the next few days to go on a trip to the mountains for a conference. I would love it if you would pray for all the little details to go smoothly, but most importantly for a personal and widespread revival. Pray that by next Thursday everyone that comes home will be closer to the heart of God.

3. It’s possible to have no idea what is next, and still be at peace. 

I have a lot of decisions coming up and unknowns scattered in my brain — but in a priceless way, it has made me pay closer attention to my present. It has forced me to pay attention to the season I’m in and to give it my all. I have been able to dance freer, and to laugh harder, and to be honest with myself. It makes me hug tighter and not grumble about my small town as much as I have in the past. We never know what is next, even when we have tentative plans, and I hope that this is the beginning of a long process that teaches me how to be where my feet are wholeheartedly and to leave stress behind. Which leads me to our next point: baby steps. 

4. We need to get excited about baby steps again. 

If you didn’t know this about me yet, I am a nanny. It is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Today, as the boy I watch was trying to crawl on his knees (and technically failing — he is so close), I realized that we praise a trying again spirit in young children, and we should praise it in adults, too. Babies love it when you get excited for them. They smile, recollect their energy, and try again. This is how they grow, and that’s how we grow. If we praised everyone around us in their spiritual walk as much as we encourage young ones as they try new things (but just aren’t there yet), I think that the world would be a better place. Get excited when you see yourself inching closer to your goals, to the heart of God. We aren’t going to know how to stand strong on our own without being wobbly for a long awhile. It is okay — and required — to lean on other people. Celebrate small victories and keep going.  

5. Sometimes, you just don’t have energy to hold on to Him. 

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. —John Piper

As John Piper says, we shouldn’t camp out willingly in the darkness, but it is important to know how to fight for joy when you are immersed in the dark. Sometimes, we just have to pray that He will hold us, even when we are punching His chest. I am learning the difference between wrestling with God instead of running.

What are you learning, and how can I pray for you?