what i read in march.

This month, I continue my average from February of four books in four weeks and add my 2017 stack to a total number of eleven books! I hope that as I reach one of the busiest seasons of my life (I see you coming, May!), I will only continue making reading good, long, sharpening books a priority. (And what better way to procrastinate homework?) March held: Two memoirs, one novel, and one biography. There were two books out of this roundup that were winners for me – they are compelling, convicting, and stories that I personally connected to immediately. The other two held little substance for me. Let’s dig in!

  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines 

Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts.

For those of you who may not know (who are you? where do you live??), Chip and Joanna Gaines are the TV hosts of Fixer Upper on HGTV. They are strong believers and hard workers. This book read as an easy-going dialogue between Chip and Joanna as they gave us glimpses into their childhood, dating years, newlywed adventures, and into the details of how they have built their career and family. I traveled to Waco over Spring Break and this book brought the details of everything I experienced (like driving by where Chip and Jo met, swinging at Magnolia Market…) to a new level of appreciation. On the other hand, it also spurred me on personally to tackle my God-given desires with boldness. If you love Chip and Jo, you’ll have more reasons why when you get your hands on this book. I am cheering you on Gaines’ and praying that you continue restoring dusty, beautiful things to bring God glory!

 

  • Chasing Slow: Courage To Journey Off The Beaten Path by Erin Loechner 

Perhaps we were never meant to change the pace. We were meant to surrender it.

Chasing Slow is about living an abundant life, saying no to the rat race and certain components of the American dream, simplifying, and also giving yourself grace in the mess. This book is SO aesthetically pleasing with beautiful typography and photography. I am tucking many ideas from this book in my pocket! I started cleaning out my closet (again). I took stock of my priorities. I prayed hard prayers about loving the poor and then did something about it. For this, I am so grateful! But, overall, I found Loechner’s voice to be condescending and life-draining. I found the extras in the book (recipes, added blurbs, a few misplaced stories in my opinion) to be good, but just not fitting. I’ll be recommending and furthering the ideas and a few quotes this book carries to friends for many days to come, but probably not the book itself.

 

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor 

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky.

My girl Flannery disappointed me with this one. This novel was haunting. Unlike Flannery’s short stories, I missed the redemption song she usually, however subtly, ties into the narrative. There were many paragraphs that blew me away with her imagery and understanding of humanity. O’Connor is amazing at capturing heartbreaking human emotion and transforming that into tangible empathy for the reader to take away. That’s the best I can say about Wise Blood.  (Also, book cover goals. But that’s not the point. 😉 )

 

  • Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior 

More’s life shows that the facts and our wishes can produce great stories when serving things much grander than ourselves, and that the stories we tell ourselves and others matter.

I first heard about Hannah More when I was reading Seven Women by Eric Metaxas last May, and I was shocked about how quietly her story is being told in the 21st century. Hannah was, as the the book title describes, a poet, reformer, and abolitionist living from 1745 – 1833. She was known for her wit and her never-pausing pen. A pen that aided the abolition of slavery in England weeks before she died. More’s life proved the importance of friendships and hospitality, the balance between strong convictions and tolerance, and loving God with your whole heart. She pushed the boundaries, but stood tall in the lines she believed in. I hope to be like Hannah More as a writer, as a citizen, as a friend, and as a woman of God.  Hannah’s story needs to be told and rewritten in our lives today — start by learning about how Hannah glorified God in her life with Fierce Convictions!

Next Up…

You are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I am making progress!)

What books have you put down this month and what books can you not put down?

daring to live the broken & cruciform way

Let love break into you and mess with you and loosen you up and make you laugh and cry and give and hurt because this is the only way to live.

Today is the release date of The Broken Way! Maybe you’ve seen my feeds fill up with hashtagTheBrokenWay over the past few weeks and maybe you’ve heard the hype and you’re thinking, “What is the big deal with Ann Voskamp?” Maybe you don’t feel like you have time to sit down long enough to finish a book. OR, maybe you love living life over at Ann’s blog and you’ve been waiting patiently for this day! No matter what camp you rest in above, I am here to tell you that this book is worth your time, it is worth your energy, it lives up to the hype. 

To be honest, I open most Christian women’s books these days and don’t last more than a few chapters before I am bored. It is not that the messages aren’t true or good – it is just that I cannot relate beyond the surface. Thankfully, though, I am beginning to see this change. I believe that Ann Voskamp is one of the frontrunners in this category running bravely into deeper, modern, theologically-sound literature. Ann has a voice unlike any other, but she tells stories where we can all whisper quietly in relief with the book laying open on our laps saying, “Wow, I thought it was just me.” 

In The Broken Way, Ann asks questions like: “Why are we afraid of broken things?” How do you give when you feel like you have nothing left? How do you find abundance in the present instead of waiting for life to gift you more mightily in a far-off someday? Am I enough? Is all this heartache and suffering doing anything but accomplishing pain? What is love, the ministry of presence, and real community worth? How do you become real, how do you let yourself be loved? How do you become like Esther and break a thousand gates? How do you walk around joyful in Jesus and give generously when your heart is aching?  She answers all these questions and more with humility, a breathtaking vulnerability, as an encouraging and empowering friend. In the best of ways, you can’t read over these words without looking in the mirror at your own junk and asking God to make it all new.

The Broken Way isn’t so much a book of self-help to cure all ills, as much as it at every turn points you to the only One who can truly satisfy and give you enough abundance to reach out like the arms of Christ to love those all around you.

Would you take a moment and hear from Ann herself?

What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives — and one that The Broken Way rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.

This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness. You could be one of the Beloved who is broken — and still lets yourself be loved.

You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually within it.

You could discover and trust this broken way — the way to not be afraid of broken things.

I could write longer, but there is only one thing to do, friends. Two things, really:

  1. Go to TheBrokenWay.com and get your hands on your own copy. I don’t write this as an ad, but prayerfully as an aid to your one, valuable life. 
  2. Open your heart – it will lead to shaking fists and brokenness, but it will also lead to real love and overflowing abundance. It is worth every ache, every step, every scar. Take the dare with me? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the story of a dusty draft coming to life.

Over a year ago, I started writing a post in my WordPress drafts about loving myself, and people, without filters. I boxed away the concept and let it sit there for too many months, not even wanting to face the subject. It was too much work (as if writing about topics that truly matter is ever easy). A few months ago, when I was desperate for something to write about, I took a scroll through my main points and decided to rededicate myself to the post about the balance of social media and real life. So, I looked it over, deleted a lot of useless words, and added a lot of better ones. I sent the proposal to several authors, and then finally to The Rising Tide Society as a total fluke. I knew that I had a large following, so I was naturally intimidated but I pressed send anyway. The next day I got an e-mail saying that they wanted to move forward with my proposal. I asked my friend Rachel if she would look over my words, and she graciously took the time to edit the piece, rearrange a few sentences, and delete a lot more unnecessary words. I talked to Davey Jones (one of the founders of RTS) on the phone, and it was sweet to hear a genuine voice and to hear the heart behind the e-mail signature.

I don’t know why I let the heart of the subject lay in my drafts for over a year. It was probably a mix of forgetfulness, but also of fear. The fear – not only of this one little post – but of the call to contribute honestly to conversations that matter. I knew that when it came to filters and healthy social media use, this message needed to spread wider than I could spread it on my own.

I took a baby step in faith, and God brought my dusty draft into the light. This past Tuesday it was published, and I am trusting that the Lord led me to send the proposal and that it has been both a challenge and a comfort to hundreds of people (even if I never know how).

I’ve included an excerpt here. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to visit Rising Tide Society’s website and to read the post in it’s entirety.

View More: http://nataliefranke.pass.us/rising-tide-society

(picture not mine)

We live in a world where we put parts of our lives through filters before we allow even our closest friends to see them. We live in a world where we can just delete people without having to look them in the eye as we wave goodbye.

You might be wondering why we’re carving out the time to talk another minute about the internet on the internet. Here’s why: it can be a powerful, community-building tool, but only if we know how to use it in a way that is honest and balanced.

INSTAGRAM IS MEANT TO BE A BONUS, NOT YOUR HOME BASE.

The only reason that Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are problematic is because people have started to put the base of their relationships and their worth in them. It sounds silly because it is. Your online interaction is meant to be an overflow of your life, it’s not supposed to be your life.1

We have put our identity in something that is quick and has minimum requirements for community commitment.

We cling to words from strangers that aren’t even sitting in our corner.

These things are fun, and they can be authentic spaces for confessions and encouragement. But if you see yourself through the lens of any one media source, it can wreak unnecessary havoc on your heart.

Instagram is something, but it is not everything. 

WHEN REAL LIFE FRIENDS DON’T FILTER YOU, BOX YOU UP, AND CALL YOU BOO.

Instagram isn’t worth our tears anymore.

Social media has killed off some of my most anticipated relationships.

It’s like I allowed myself to think that if they didn’t show me off online, the realness of our relationship didn’t exist or didn’t matter. Or that if someone doesn’t make me their #wcw or mention me in the night of our dreams that what we had wasn’t real. These lies are not true, so from the other side of them — don’t give them space to grow. Just because someone doesn’t post about an event — that doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t walk away grateful for you. It just isn’t a little square in their profile.

The world doesn’t need more competition.

Our culture needs more people making memories with one another before they try capturing them. It needs friends that are willing to be honest with each other.

The best friendships happen when you take the pressure off of them. When you don’t feel the need to prove the relationship online of all places.1 When you do, it’s a celebration of the love they are already sure of, because you show them through your actions and in so much more than your tags. . . . .

Click Here to Read Emilee’s Full Post On The Rising Tide Society