Review | Quitter

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff

Summary (from Goodreads)

Have you ever felt caught between the tension of a day job and a dream job? That gap between what you have to do and what you’d love to do?

I have.

At first I thought I was the only one who felt that way, but then I started to talk to people and realized we’re becoming the “I’m, but” generation. When we talk about what we do for a living we inevitably say, “I’m a teacher, but I want to be an artist.” “I’m a CPA, but I’d love to start my own business.”

“I’m a _____, but I want to be a ______.”

All too often, we hear that dreaming big means you quit your day job, sell everything you own, and move to Guam. But what if there were a different way?

What if you could blow up your dream without blowing up your life?

What if you could go for broke without going broke?

What if you could start today?

What if you already have everything you need to begin?

From figuring out what your dream is to quitting in a way that exponentially increases your chance of success, Quitter is full of inspiring stories and actionable advice. This book is based on 12 years of cubicle living and my true story of cultivating a dream job that changed my life and the world in the process.

It’s time to close the gap between your day job and your dream job.

It’s time to be a Quitter.

Review | 3 stars

While this was a fun, easy read with tons of useful information, the audience is a bit too narrow for my taste. Acuff writes for the dreamer who has a day job, the person who aspires to a more non-traditional job or career path than the typical nine to five. I would not consider this a book to help a person switch daytime careers (e.g., accountant to school teacher) although it still is encouraging to read about how others have succeeded personally and professionally (since they are so intertwined, honestly). I liked the tone and style. A couple notes from the text below:

Always start with your passion, and start practicing to get yourself comfortable or more adept at what it is you’re passionate about BEFORE you lay out a full plan to reach your goals. Your passion is the fuel to get through the tough times. A plan can’t do that on its own.

5 questions to ask at your turning point (“hinge”):
1. Do I love doing this enough to do it for free?
2. When I do this does time feel different?
3. Do I enjoy doing this regardless of the opinions of other people?
4. If I pursue this and only MY life changes, is that enough?
5. Is this the first time I’ve loved this or is this part of a bigger pattern in my life?

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Review | Unashamed

Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny

by Christine Caine

Summary (from Goodreads)

Shame can take on many forms. It hides in the shadows of the most successful, confident and high-achieving woman who struggles with balancing her work and children, as well as in the heart of the broken, abused and downtrodden woman who has been told that she will never amount to anything. Shame hides in plain sight and can hold us back in ways we do not realize. But Christine Caine wants readers to know something: we can all be free.

“I know. I’ve been there,” writes Christine. “I was schooled in shame. It has been my constant companion from my very earliest memories. I see shame everywhere I look in the world, including in the church. It creeps from heart to heart, growing in shadowy places, feeding on itself so that those struggling with it are too shamed to seek help from shame itself.”

In Unashamed, Christine reveals the often-hidden consequences of shame—in her own life and the lives of so many Christian women—and invites you to join her in moving from a shame-filled to a shame-free life.

In her passionate and candid style, Christine leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself how to believe that God is bigger than your mistakes, your inadequacies, your past, and your limitations. He is not only more powerful than anything you’ve done but also stronger than anything ever done to you. You can deal with your yesterday today, so that you can move on to what God has in store for you tomorrow—a powerful purpose and destiny he wants you to fulfill.

Join the journey. Lay ahold of the power of Jesus Christ today and step into the future—his future for you—a beautiful, full, life-giving future, where you can even become a shame-lifter to others. Live unashamed!

Review | 3 stars

While I enjoyed Caine’s book on shame, it didn’t present anything groundbreaking. I always appreciate the stories Caine captures in her books, and Unashamed delivers! Caine specifically focuses on how women are highly susceptible to feeling shame, and how we can learn from the Bible on how to combat it. Here are some of the points that stood out to me most.

Shame…

  • is fear of unworthiness
  • causes us to throw away the good gifts we have received
  • teaches us to hide ourselves like Adam and Eve hid in the Garden
  • stifles potential
  • lies to you
  • is not in our original design as those made in God’s image
  • is not the same as guilt; guilt is knowing an action is bad, while shame is incorrectly feeling that YOU are bad
  • makes us make excuses and blame others
  • loves silence and grows in secret
  • needs the mercy of Jesus

Jesus ministered to, was ministered by, and ministered with women. In fact, the good news that he was risen was FIRST given to women!

We need to seek out our wilderness to get to our promised land. God uses fear of the wilderness to grow us because it requires us to trust him. God’s goal is not to change our circumstances but to change us. There’s a difference between taking the slave out of slavery, and taking the slavery out of the slave. God uses the wilderness to take the slavery out of the slave!

Review | Make it Happen

Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.

by Lara Casey

Summary (from Goodreads)

You were created for a purpose, and it’s time to make it happen.

Make It Happen is the story of how I surrendered my fear, took the leap, and got a life. In my case, a perfectly imperfect, fulfilling life as a mama, a working woman, and a grateful wife. This is the story of how I chose to make “it”—a greater purpose than mine—happen, and how you can too.

Make It Happen is for

  • women who find themselves worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed by the constant chase for perfection
  • those seeking the courage to jump into a new venture
  • working women who are struggling to “do it all”
  • weary wives and moms looking for relief from burning the candle at both ends
  • anyone who dreams of a life lived not by accident, but on purpose

Your time has come to take a leap of faith. Join me as we surrender our fears, end the chase for perfection, and say yes to cultivating the meaningful lives God desires for us.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

Review | 4 stars

As a person who has not read anything by Lara Casey before, I appreciated the marriage of testimony and practical advice derived from her experiences contained in this book. Lara’s writing is relatable for women in any stage in their lives. The format made sense and was easy to navigate. I also like the writing prompts throughout.

Lifestyle | Worth My Time, pt.1

Hi friends!

I’m going to write a short series on how I spend my time in an effort to get to the root of how I’m living as a twenty-something. My goal is to identify what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how it adds value to the Kingdom of God.

Today my focus is work. The thing I go do between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays, barring any vacation days or paid holidays.

What
I write for a company that provides important goods and services to military men and women, workers in Government agencies, and first responders in order to connect our capabilities and end user needs. Ultimately, we equip essential personnel with what they require to carry out their mission, whatever it may be, efficiently and effectively.

Why
I love that I get to help others do their jobs well. I am in a support role in my organization, meaning I assist others in meeting their goals and earning their income. Also, I have always been driven to support those people who choose to defend our country, whether at home or abroad, and this job gives me countless opportunities to work for those people.

I have a sense of purpose in doing my work, and do find a great deal of fulfillment in this role. Should I be fulfilled by my work? Biblically speaking, maybe? Doing good work is a way we glorify God (Colossians 3:23), but my sense of worth should not be derived from my job or career but instead my identity in Christ. I need some realignment in this area of my life.

I couldn’t answer the question of why I work without mentioning that I appreciate having income, insurance, and my savings/retirement through my company!

How
I am a light for Christ and the Gospel in a “secular” workplace. I strongly dislike differentiating between “religious” and “secular” because I try not to have such buckets or boundaries in my life. You shouldn’t meet a different Heather at work or at church. I have the opportunity to show others God’s goodness, grace, and love everywhere I go, including work (though sometimes I lack all three on a tough day).

Also, by doing good work, I bring glory to God who didn’t give us a life of leisure alone but one with labor and work, too (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). I have the opportunity to serve other people as well (Mark 10:35, 1 Peter 4:10).

In the grand scheme, a person’s work is not worth more or less than the next person’s if you go by the standards of showing people Christ and doing your job well. You can minister to people regardless of what you do or where you do it, whether as a homemaker, executive, manual laborer, student, pastor, artist, you name it. Because work, your profession, is not the end-all, be-all of life. It’s but one aspect of a life dedicated to Christ.

Total time dedicated to work: 40 of 168 hours per week

Intentionality

This year, my resolution is to stop living out of obligation, and instead live a life filled with inspiration. Inspiration can be found, or created. Obligation weighs heavy, while inspiration makes the act of being lighter. I’ve come out of 2016 burdened and tired, weary from doing good… Even when scripture clearly says that we CANNOT let ourselves grow weary while we do good (Galatians 6:9).

So I’m making a change. This season is one marked with hard decisions about how I use my finite resources, namely my time and energy. It is a season of pruning. It is a season of resting in the Lord, listening to him and heeding his call. It is a season of pure intentionality.

In the words of Shauna Niequist in her book of essays entitled Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, I must learn to “[walk] away from the good-enough, in search of the can’t-live-without.” (87). Friends, I wept when I read that sentence in the chapter called “twenty-five” (how appropriate). I wept knowing that cutting back in life hurts. However, thinning out my schedule, my busyness, doesn’t hurt as much as running myself into the ground does. That inevitable ending to every Martha story, as Kate alludes to in her blog post (A Lonestar State of Southern, Coffee Date No. 18).

It’s time to stop, breathe, and abide in the Lord. It’s time to take my time, figure out my plan for 2017. It’s time to learn new things, experience new places, invest in the right relationships for this chapter of my life. It’s time to seek out what God says about where I should spend my time.

I’ve gone too long without saying “no,” and it’s made my every “yes” a burden. Life should not be lived out of obligation, filling the gap or showing up because “nobody else will.” I need to trust that God will work through all situations, and that he has a good plan for my life, for me to enjoy and pour out to benefit many. I cannot do that if I am dry inside. I need that living water.

When I visited Iceland just a few short months ago, I ventured into an ice cave. There was a small room in a secluded part of the cave accessible only by climbing through a tapered path. An opening at the top of this little room allowed sunlight and chilly water to pour in. I had tasted some of this perfectly clear glacier water earlier, and knew this was the same sort. The place was precious… intimate, quiet, safe. To me, it was a sacred dwelling of the Lord. I could meet him there, be refreshed by this living water that quenches the very soul. And it was beautiful.

I made my decision in Iceland to take three months to be still and reflect on what it is God’s calling me to do. This period has only just begun, and I have already experienced relief. I’ve spent time with people I care about, investing in my relationships. I’ve read books, learning about the wonders of human imagination. And I’ve rested in the Lord, listening for his guidance.

I’m making the hard choices, that are not so hard when I see such great physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual improvements in my life already. I choose to drink in that living water, and rest in his embrace.

Photo Credit: Morgan Bayer

Lady Luck

1:30 pm

Fortune. The mysterious Lady Luck. Tyche. Throughout the ages, mankind has seemingly survived on the graces and guidance of this woman. The woman men rely on in times of peace, and war. She, like the figure of Lady Justice today, is often depicted as blind—she is not biased, and can produce good or ill. She provides opportunities, but doesn’t indicate whether they are meant to be taken or forgotten. Fortuna is as capricious as life itself.

I don’t believe in luck. To me, believing in luck allows man to attribute meaningful activities and occurrences  to nothing. Luck gives no purpose; in fact, it strips the world of significance. If things are crazy random happenstances, then what’s the point of putting any effort into anything at all? Why try? It makes me uneasy to think that some mercurial power makes decisions a whim, shaping my life without the thought of consequence or the end result.

Oftentimes, God seems to be similar to this pubescent deity (or Joffery). He seems to make decisions without seeing the sacrifices His people must make in order to achieve His goals and pursue His purpose and will.

An example I recently came across was in Acts 16. The Apostle Paul, traveling and evangelizing with Silas and Timothy, was preparing to go into Asia to minister to those who had not heard the Gospel message. He was going to win more souls for Christ. He had a purpose, and planned to follow through with it. And yet, the Holy Spirit (the part of God dwelling inside each Christian who has accepted Jesus as savior) said, “Nope, you’re not going there. Yeah, the door, it’s open. But I want you to walk by and ignore the opportunity for now. Haha, joke’s on you!” God practically said, “Don’t touch the red button… Nope, don’t do it!” All that planning, all that hard work that Paul had put into preparing for the journey, was a waste.

But that wasn’t God’s point. He was proving that, as Charles Ryrie writes, “Need did not constitute their call.” Dang, check please. That was a whole meal in one bite.

Paul knew the people in Asia needed to hear the Gospel; God just didn’t have that path in mind for Paul at that time. God does have Paul go to Asia later in his life. In fact, Paul writes multiple letters to the churches there, showcased in God’s autobiography. The idea God was portraying was that He has His timing, and His purpose will prevail when He needs it to.

God is not like luck. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He doesn’t just do things—have us do things—because He can. There is some reason, whether we understand it or not.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!”

Romans 11:33

And yet, we are sure that God works for our good. He doesn’t live to make us squirm.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

“…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:28-39

I refuse to believe that things just “work themselves out.” Yes, life can be temperamental, unpredictable, volatile. But that doesn’t mean that someone has lost control, can’t handle what’s going on.

All this does not mean that we will always win. I skated in various competitions for a decade, and I didn’t always come home with a medal hanging from my neck. I didn’t ace every test, no matter how much I studied and prayed. Other things work out. That big project that was due last week that I got in four minutes late? Accepted. And what a huge relief—that whole situation actually inspired me to author this post.

I tell you what. I choose to rely on God because He doesn’t turn a blind eye toward me. He doesn’t let me wander aimlessly through life. He guides me. Luck abandons people. Jesus never stops reaching. It may seem like God ignores us, wastes our time. But He always watches out for us. That doesn’t mean that life will be endless rainbows and unicorns and cupcakes. It means that He will work things out. It isn’t the universe just going around. God is actually in control.

God knows what matters. You matter. I matter.

You can sing like Marlon Brando, but Lady Luck could still ignore you. I don’t like those chances.