#3 Don’t Waste Your Life by Piper 2003

Definitely a God Pick.

Because I needed it.

The day before I picked this book up, I was defiant and insistent about something that may be about to happen. I wasn’t happy about it, and wanted desperately to try and make sure that this thing wouldn’t become a reality.

When you read a book like this, you start feeling really, really small and self-absorbed. Oddly enough, however, not in a self-defeating way. In a way that makes you want to throw yourself at the mercy of God and say “OK, God, have it your way.” I can say this because I know that God’s ways are truly higher and better. And that is always true. Not just capital “T” True, as in “the Bible tells me so,” but in the lower case “t” because my life tells me so also. Just when I think the bottom may fall out of the way I think things should go, God impresses upon my soul this notion: “I got this.” That is what I have heard him say over and over in the past few years – perhaps it should be my new theme – perhaps I should write that on my pottery this year – which by the way – I made another goal – to write something “God-Like” on every piece – or at least the majority of the pieces.

Read this book! I’ve heard that it makes some people feel guilty about their retirement plans, but it didn’t me. It made me realize how blessed I am to have a God who wants me to be part of His plan. He’s very inclusive, and truly does know what is best for every human who seeks to follow Him with her whole heart. You know, that may be it. Your whole heart is what He requires. And there’s the rub. We often want to reserve some portion of our heart, our lives, our desires for just us. We say, this far God, and no farther. That’s not how it works (my opinion) – perhaps it does for you – but it doesn’t for me. Perhaps my favorite childhood hymn knew it all along:

Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.

Happy in Jesus. That’s the theme of this book. I pray that is the goal of my life.   Pottery writing worthy? Surely.

#4 Dare to Lead by Brene Brown 2018

I started Brene’s latest book—audibly—a couple months ago, and just finished it. Mostly I listen to her at the beginning of a nap – or falling off to sleep at night. I didn’t download it because of the title—Dare to Lead—but because Brene was reading it.

I like her.  I have since I first heard her on a Ted Talk several years ago. She talked about vulnerability.   Go watch it for yourself, because surely my recollection is foggy at best.

Brene is a Christian but I have a feeling our views on Scripture and other things sacred may not line up completely. That doesn’t stop me from admiring her. You see, she spent some of her childhood in New Orleans too – and I feel a connection with women who have grown up in that very unusual town. Just watch the New Orleans Saints fans on tv to see what I’m talking about.

In the first part of the book, she shares a drill team tryout experience that left her young soul shattered. I too tried out at my junior high school in NOLA but was cut in the first round. I know I was bad and it didn’t leave me shattered. But Brene was good at it and she was cut because she wasn’t “their type.” Here’s the thing I love about this story. It was hard and crushing – yet it didn’t render her an ineffective wreck. Some of my most admired humans are those who had it hard, yet have risen above it all and prospered in spite of it.

Life is hard. Especially in childhood!

Some have it harder than others. And you know what’s weird? Many who have not had it so hard—children who were over indulged or over coddled—often, those are the ones who seem to have it harder in adulthood.   I can actually remember my own pity party several years back as I thought about aspects of my own adolescent woes. But thanks be to God, he opened my eyes after a short while, and I realized that no trial need be wasted, even those childhood ones.

It is because of my union with Jesus that I have the power to move on. To throw off those hurts and trials that can easily render me ineffective. And often they do for a time, but that is when I pray the most, because I hate living joyless. And letting this world get the better of me can surely bring me to new lows.

Brene’s vulnerability soapbox has brought her great success. I like it. But, being vulnerable can hurt. For a little while. Being vulnerable also helps us to “get real.” Grieve if you need to, be honest about what you are thinking and feeling, but then allow God to do his wondrous work of transformation in you. He wastes nothing.