Jordan Reads Things (September)

I get asked all the time about what I’m reading, or what I’ve read, or what books I recommend for x,y, and z. I’ve always thought about sharing the books I’m reading but have never gotten around to it; I finally decided that I want to do some more regular blogging on here while I’m working on freelancing, so I thought a good segment would be on my monthly reads!

I’ll be honest: it got really hard to read for fun in college. Being an English major, reading was basically my life, but it was reading un-fun things about theory (sorry Dr. C!) or reading classic literature that I loathed (sorry Dr. R!). That, on top of my internship last year made it hard for me to unwind with a book– I didn’t want to think anymore! I just wanted to veg. (Did I mention my last semester of college was when I got Netflix? I’m so glad I didn’t have it before then).

Now that I’m post-grad and no longer reading for torture (i mean for school) or working myself to death at my internship, my brain is a lot less exhausted these days, so I’ve been reading so much more. I finally fell back in love with reading!

The past couple months I’ve been on various launch teams for books (basically a marketing team that gets to read the book for free ahead of its launch in exchange for help publicizing/sharing the book). In between launch team reading I was able to slip in a couple fun reads, too!


Come Find Me, Sage Parker by Aliza Latta 

41ZubifGhEL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ I read this while dogsitting for my aunt over Labor Day weekend. It’d been a long time since I’d gotten lost in a novel– when I do read these days, it tends to be Jesus-y and nonfiction. But my brain needed an escape. A friend had posted about this book being free on Kindle (it’s not on sale now), so I decided to go for it and download it to my iPad.

The story is about Maeve Parker, a girl whose mother, Sage, left  when Maeve was 9 years old– after being quite the unconventional mom up till then, Sage left “to go find her self.” But she never came back. Maeve was left to her own devices with Sage’s live-in boyfriend, Sol, who took on the role of guardian (but mostly in name only). They move when Maeve is 16 for Sol to start a new job; Maeve is thrust into a new community with new people, including Ky and Levi, who work to befriend her despite Maeve’s pushing them away (it’s hard to trust people when people have left you, you know. #storyofmylife). I need a Levi in my life: he doesn’t give up on her.  As this school year with these new friends unfolds, and tragedy ensues, Maeve begins a quest: to find Sage Parker.

Y’all. I haven’t gotten so hooked on a book since The Fault in Our Stars. (and that’s saying something since TFiOS I basically read in a 24-hour time span). I read this in barely a day’s time. It is captivating– you won’t want to put it down!  It is so beautifully written, with a few plot twists I did not see coming (which is not usually the case for me– I usually catch things!). The characters are richly developed and so vast– there are no real flat characters here, they all play a major part of the story. The story is heartfelt and puts you on an emotional roller coaster.

This is Aliza’s first novel, and I hope it’s not her last! I’ve read some of her faith stuff for (in)courage and she’s such a talented writer.  While I wouldn’t label the book “Christian fiction” (that title enrages me anyway– you can find Christ in all literature if you look hard enough), there are a lot of Christian themes and thoughts weaved throughout, along with a lot of other issues we face today. It’s all woven into this lyrically poetic story about a girl trying to find herself– and her mother along the way.

Do you have to run away in order to find yourself? And when, exactly, do you know when that self you were so desperately looking for is found?

Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World by Osheta Moore 

This is one of the b514knvE+PBL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ooks I’ve been on a launch team for. My friend Syndal invited me to join since she knew how much I loved launch teams (I get to read books and talk about them! Whee!!). Y’all. This launch team was so fun. Osheta is the real-deal awesome, and I look forward to the day she comes to Nashville so I can hug her neck in person. Beyond the launch team being fun (weekly dance parties during reading check-in, hello!!) The book itself was SO GOOD. And so needed for this chaotic, crazy world we’re dealing with right now.

She re-defined what Shalom looks like for me. I always thought of peacemakers as these perfect, quiet people that do BIG things to change the world, like Mother Teresa and the like. Osheta, like myself, isn’t this kind of peacemaker: loud, sassy, and sometimes overwhelmed, Moore knew that she wanted to be a peacemaker but didn’t know how to be a ‘typical’ one.

When she challenged herself to study peace in the Bible for 40 days (during Lent), she learned what shalom really looked like– and it wasn’t always meek and quiet. Sometimes tables got thrown. (thanks, Jesus!) Osheta realized that shalom was about finding the ways to make peace in her everyday life, and in herself. So in Shalom Sistas, she lays out 3 areas she wants to seek shalom- Shalom with God, Shalom within Ourselves, and Shalom in Our Relationships- and through that comes to her 12-point Shalom Sistas Manifesto, which outlines how Osheta practices being a Shalom Sista.

Within each of these points, Osheta uses her sass and biblical knowledge to explain why these places of peace are important, and how she’s implemented them in her own life (or attempted to) right where she is. There’s silliness, there’s snark, there’s biblical truth. A little bit for everyone, am I right?! She also gives practical ways to live out each manifesto point (Shalom Steps). I love practicality– don’t just teach me something and leave me going “how do I do it/use it/implement it?” I love the actions and ideas she gives for each of the points– some are big and fun, some are small and simple– all are great ideas to incorporate more Shalom in your life.

If you’ve read here for long, you know I love me some Annie Downs and Let’s All Be Brave. One of the things I love about that book is that it called me to bravery right where I was, right smack dab in the middle of my messy not-so-brave life. I am not this person set out to change the whole world or do it all– it’s just not in my DNA. I’ve never been someone who wanted to save the world or change everything. I just want to do what I can, with what I have, right where I am– and if that changes one life, then I’ll be happy.

I think that’s why I love books like Annie’s and Osheta’s. The world tells us so often that we have to act in these big, grandiose measures to be seen and heard. But we don’t. We can do one thing, and do it well, to change the world– to change our world, our community.

Annie taught me how to brave right where I am.

Osheta taught me how to bring peace right where I am.

And they did so through experiences from their own life– right in the trenches of it, not on the sidelines just telling me what to do. They’re doing this whole everyday thing right alongside me, and that makes it easier to stand up and say I can be brave and be a peacemaker right here.

Osheta uses her sparkly personality and wicked sense of humor to be real and honest about shalom fails and triumphs, and uses Biblical support to teach about shalom and seeking peace in the world– I highly recommend it if you’re looking for ways to claim shalom in your life.

“Shalom is what happens when the love of God meets our most tender places. Therefore, we can all be peacemakers, because we can all seek and access the love of God to heal our broken places.”

(bonus! my favorite Canadian Sarah Bessey wrote the forward. *fangirl screams here*)

Shalom Sistas is out NOW!


Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors 

I was on the launch team for this one as well!

51HRF5JP+XL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_I first heard about Katie my freshman year of college when Kisses for Katie came out, and she spoke at my school’s chapel. She was so sweet and articulate about her passion and her mission, and that goes the same for her writing. I loved Kisses for Katie– I had always had a heart for serving others and had been on mission trips with my old church, but her words gave me a new way to see mission. I’ve never been to Uganda or anywhere “big” to serve, but I gave my heart to a little orphanage in Cozumel my sophomore year of college, and I haven’t looked back since. That is my mission field, where I feel most alive and connected to God.

In Daring to Hope, Katie poetically shares her story of tragedy and heartache and questioning of God in the hard seasons. She reminds us that God is with us in the dark, and that hope is always worth daring for. She is brutally honest and open about her struggles, and yet she is equally bold in her reminders of truth and hope that anchors her.

I’m in the middle of a rough, dark season myself, so this book wasn’t the easiest for me to read– but Katie’s words felt like they were written for me sometimes.  They are a reminder and comfort of the hope we have in Jesus, even in the dark. It was lyrically written and filled with truth and scripture to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves, and anecdotes of her life in Uganda to remind us that we have hope– and it never disappoints us. It’s a beautiful book.

“The God of all mercy and compassion is using our heartache to draw us to Himself and transform us into His likeness. He will turn our sorrows into joy and He will use our suffering to illuminate gifts of grace. He will turn our darkness to light, and He will carry us home. “Chin up, love,” He whispers. “Hold on to that hope. Eyes on me, dear one. I am not done yet.””

Daring to Hope is out NOW!


and lastly:

A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions that Meet You in Your Everyday Mess by (in)courage team (lots of different writers!!)

Shocker, I was on the launch team for this one too! (last one for this month, promise!)

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A Moment to Breathe isn’t a book, but a devotional. I love devotionals. I have a short attention span– I write in short stories/essays (versus writing a book), I prefer reading blogs and articles and essay collections versus a large novel. Devotionals are a perfect mix of scriptural insight and real-lifeness that makes me think and fills me up for the day ahead. If I could get find job writing/editing devotionals for a living, sign me up!

My everyday go-to for the last few months has been Savor by Shauna Niequist (and it’s still the way I close out my days). I typically either read AMTB alongside Savor, or I read it earlier in the day– usually when I’m overwhelmed or frustrated and need an actual moment to breathe before I explode.

I like that it’s undated so I don’t feel guilty if I miss a day, and can read at my own pace. So far I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the devotionals in the book– they’re written by some familiar faces (Annie Downs! Jennifer Dukes Lee! Deidra Riggs!!) and some I don’t know but am really enjoying. There were a few that didn’t feel relatable to me, but that’s always going to happen. I liked the little “moment to breathe” section at the bottom of each devotion– I wished they had all been more action-y and some way to apply a lesson or thought from the story. (Like I said above, I like practical application).

My only ‘complaint’ (not really a complaint, just a thought) is that I wish the devotions centered around the theme of the book– I was hoping for the stories to be more streamlined and less random. I was hoping this would be a devotional more focused on rest/Sabbath/peace, not just a conglomerate of devotions like other devotionals. Not the end of the world though– it’s still a great little book to find a few minutes of peace and quiet in an otherwise crazy day.

This is a great devotional– well-written, beautifully designed, easy to pick up and read for a few minutes of time with Jesus.

A Moment to Breathe is out NOW!


 

Those are what I finished in September! I’m still working on 2 books from September currently:

Dance Stand Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground by Jess Connolly: I’ve written a couple times about this one (I’m on the launch team for it, of course!) but Y’ALL. It’s SO GOOD. I’m a teensy bit behind in the actual reading (we get an ebook version of each chapter one week at a time, and September kicked my tail), but I’m a little over halfway done and it is going to change lives. I know it. It’s already changing mine. It comes out October 24th, so you’ll probably hear me on all the social media chatting about it. And if you preorder 2 or more you get some awesome stuff, so go buy it now!

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

I’ve been so intrigued by this book since I first saw it advertised. It has not disappointed me! I’m almost halfway done and have learned SO MUCH about personality. Anne says it’s just a primer into the world of personality theory (things like Myers Briggs, Enneagram, etc), but there are a few I know nothing about, so I’m excited to dive in and learn. It’s the first time I’ve read a book just to learn something that wasn’t Jesus-y since college! I miss it sometimes. (OK not really but I do love learning).

It’s very practical, real-life anecdotal, informative, and slightly heady– if you enjoy Brene Brown, this is a much tamer version (much more my speed– love me some Brene, but she’s sometimes a little over my head). I’ll share more about what I’m learning once I finish!!


I’m intending to keep doing a monthly post about what I’m reading– both as a way to keep me reading (hold me accountable, people!) and as a way to share things and quotes other than on Instagram. Eventually, once I move my blog to self-hosting (soon, I hope), I plan to have a tab up at the top dedicated to all things books and what I’m reading/favorite books of all time, etc. To be a good writer, you need to be a reader.  I want to keep myself reading — and share about my reading adventures here with people!

What are you reading right now? Especially fiction– after all this heavy launch team-ing, I need something fun to veg out to. Fiction suggestions welcomed!!

Until next month, happy reading!

 

**note: affiliate links have been used in this post, meaning if you click on them and buy something, I get a small commission. 🙂 
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via @sarahagertywrites

thank god for storms.

It started to storm in my neck of the woods shortly before the sun set on this long day.

I felt like I was suffocating stuck in this house, so I quietly moseyed outside at the first ring of thunder.

I sat down on what barely constitutes a front porch to watch. The thunder and lightning rolled on their own for a few minutes before the rain started.

The rain came in waves– small droplets against my feet to start, slowly increasing in size and strength as the thunder got louder.

No symphony could imitate the sound of the raindrops crescendoing, hitting the ground louder and faster with each drop.

Soon, we were caught in a downpour, with lightning lighting up the sky and thunder booming so loud you could almost feel the ground shake.

And I sat there and watched. On that little front step, I watched the sky turn dark and the rain became so thick it looked like fog. I listened to the thunder roll in. I “counted” the time between the lightning strike and the thunder, like my Papa taught me to when I was little.

I sat there and exhaled for what felt like the first time all day. 

I didn’t think about the ache in my back and what the cause is.

I didn’t think about another favor my mom needed me to run for her.

I didn’t worry about the amount in my bank account.

I didn’t feel my usual pang of loneliness.

I just sat and enjoyed God’s handiwork.


I love storms. I love the dark, cool effect storms bring to a hot, humid day. I love the natural light and sound show lightning and thunder put on (even if thunder scared me as a kid).

I have every reason not to like storms.

They’re messy. They’re an interruption to the normal rhythm. I can’t really plan them or plan around them, they have a spontaneous mind of their own. Sometimes they’re scary or dangerous. They can ruin fun days or plans in an instant.

Those are all things I don’t particularly like about life… fear and spontaneity and lack of plans or change of plans. And yet, storms are still one of my favorite things, despite all of these qualities.

In a lot of ways, I think the things I hate about everyday life are why I love them.

I love the way rain feels on my skin, soaking the bottom of my sweats as the wind carries the rain onto the porch.

I love how they force me to push pause and sit still for awhile.

I love how they display the majesty and power of God, captivating me with wonder instead of fear.

They remind me to slow down. To breathe. To quit trying to do everything for once in my life and just be for awhile.

So I sit and watch. I let the heaviness and the lightness overwhelm me.


It doesn’t take long as I watch for me to start thinking of the metaphorical storms life’s been hitting me with this season.

The fatigue, sleep issues, and physical health problems that have been plaguing me since May… I’ve had some sort of body ache, stomach problem, or a migraine nearly every. single. day. for months.

The depression that has enveloped every part of my being since moving home… since my birthday, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left the house for something other than running errands with my mom. I’ve spent almost every day in my pajamas, with Netflix and food as my crutch. I don’t color or Bible journal anymore, or much else that brings me joy. (Being on launch teams has kept me reading, which is a blessing). I don’t sing or worship. I don’t play games. I don’t hang out with anyone, or even try to. It’s not a good place to be.

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Somedays I believe this. via Sara Hagerty

Moving home– both living back in my boring little hometown and living with my mom– has been both blessing and curse. I’m grateful for a roof over my head, but I feel like either a punching bag or a live-in servant most days… it’s not fun. And living where you literally have zero friends anymore is freaking hard, especially when you’re depressed and won’t ask your friends to come here to visit lest you feel like a burden on them.

Job stuff… I won’t even go there. I’m slowly trying to build a portfolio of freelance writing work, which I’m excited about–writing is my favorite, after all. But I still can’t get over the fact that I was rejected or ignored by so many other opportunities, ones I would have excelled at. Ones that would have helped me stay in Nashville.

So I sat there… and let the heaviness of this season hit me as hard as the rain hit the pavement. And I cried.

I cried… because let’s face it, this season has been hard. So, so hard. And I’ll never understand why.


I sat there amidst the tears and looked out. The storm continued to pour at a steady pace now. I felt myself calm down… I just inhaled and exhaled, focusing on the storm in front of me instead of the storm in me.

9e871e96e33562b9c6c396edc2d8ac6dI felt this deep sense of peace surround me as I continued to enjoy the storm, despite sadness lingering. I forced my hands to unclench, palms upward. I prayed through tears; I don’t remember the words. A lot of my prayers have been wordless or breath prayers these days; I can’t seem to find words to convey the sorrow of life’s storms right now. But nonetheless, I prayed. I breathed and prayed, palms up, eyes looking outward towards the storm.

The peaceful feeling overtook the tears. I just felt wrapped in this sense that He was right there in that moment. In the moment, I did something I rarely do these days… I sang. Before I could even think about it, How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God started tumbling out, in my shaky off-key voice.

Because even in the midst of the messy, not-going-as-planned, absolutely terrifying storms of this season… He is still God. And He is with me. 

He is still God. He is with me.


A short time later, the storm started to slowly die down. I decided to head back in, my back pain raging as I stand up. I m13358946e18073a60d29699690dfd2e3ay have come back inside to my own storm, but the peace from the storm outside is still here with me.

The storms inside my life may still be raging, but I cling to the thoughts from the storm outside: He is still God. He is with me.

And even during the darkest of storms, His goodness shines. 

Maybe that’s why I love storms so much.

Thank you, God for the storms… for the beautiful, wonderful storms of the world, and the messy, unplanned ones in me.

Since there’s no youtube version of this one… here’s to hoping this works.

Uncertainty and the unknown.

I believe God has everything figured out for my life. He knows my plans, my desires, my steps before I do.

I really think Paul means what he says in Romans 8:28, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” He will work out my life and my calling if I follow him, which I try to do everyday.

I also have no idea what the next season of my life looks like, and I really want to know now (or last month, but whatever
.) I hate second guessing myself, my abilities and strengths- the rejections and unanswered job applications cut like a knife to my heart. I hate not knowing what’s next. I hate sitting idle in this in-between.  I hate being stuck.

My internship has ended, so now I’m back to where I was last year: figuring out what the heck I want to do or what I even can do for a job. Because for love of Jesus I do NOT want to teach or do anything in education right now (honestly I need a break from kids), but I don’t have the experience to do anything but working with kids. I don’t have enough experience or don’t meet the requirements for any non-kid job I apply for, even ones I have the skills and degree to do. I’ve pigeon holed myself times infinity. It sucks. I was clueless about my job prospects before I took the internship; now I’m not as clueless, but more frustrated that I’m closer to knowing what I want to do, but can’t get a dang job doing it.

I turn 25 on Friday with no career or focus or goal or job prospects, or even and idea of what my future looks like, and this frustrates me to my very core. (And please don’t say “you’re young, you have time to figure it out!”or something of the sort-you may not think it matters, but it matters to ME.)

I don’t want this post to feel like a pity party, but I’m just so stuck and frustrated and exhausted.

I’ve been officially done with my internship for a week. With the exception of one application (for a perfect job for me, that I still haven’t heard anything from), I took a break from the job hunt. I needed to rest and recuperate from an exhausting (albeit wonderful) season of working. I needed some space to breathe. But it wasn’t far from my mind- it rarely is these days.

Now that week is over. I’ve got to get back into gear looking for things I’m qualified for. But I don’t know where to effing start. I just don’t know exactly what I want–or how to find a job that I want that won’t automatically say no for lack of experience. I know what I don’t want, but that’s not really helping me right now.

I just want some sense of direction, something that won’t slam a door in my face. 

I was listening to the always-wonderful Annie Downs interview worship leader and musician Chris McClarney on her podcast (it was a great and hilarious interview). They got to talking about his career and how he does multiple jobs at once (worship leading, commercial performing/touring, and songwriting), and their conversation turned into talking about God and plans and things of the like.

When Annie asked him about his different jobs, and figuring out what to do next, he replied, “I’ve always walked through open doors, and waited for the Lord to tell me to stop.”

He then talked about how people tend to wait around for a moment where God tells them what to do or where to go next instead of just walking trough the open door God has provided. Annie went on to add, “they don’t want to see three open doors, they want God to tell them the right open door.”

She hit the nail on the head, at least for me.

I want one door. Just one. Preferably already open, ready for me to walk through without risk or uncertainty. Please, Jesus.

I tend to do a lot of second guessing about a lot of things in my life, and the future is probably the one that I overthink the most.

 

Is this door really open? Is this the right one? What about the others? Are we really sure I should go through this door? What if it’s not the right one? What if I mess it up?

 

I don’t just walk through like Chris does, without (over)thinking my choice, trying to figure out if this is *really* what God wants from me. I struggle with outright trusting that I’m making the right decisions– in reality, I’m struggling more with trusting that God really knows what he’s doing, and that I couldn’t do it better myself.  (Total pride/control thing, I know this about myself. Still working on it). Instead of just trusting that God has opened this door for me to walk through, I hem and haw and question at every turn, hoping God will put a big neon sign on the right door so I know for sure this is where I’m supposed to go.  

That’s not my current struggle, though. Right now, I’m struggling more with finding any door willing to open. I would take having to choose between three doors if it meant I had doors to walk through.

What do you do when you have no doors to choose from? When every door that is possibly cracked open gets slammed shut? What do you do when you just don’t know where any open door is?

I wish I knew. Because it feels like I’m stuck in a room with no doors or windows, no way through to what’s next.

I can’t help but think I should have this all figured out by now. Or at least I should have an idea of how to figure this all out. But I feel so clueless.

No doors in sight. I don’t even know what one would look like if it was in front of me. Or what would be behind it.

The last thing Annie said in this job/doors discussion really got my attention.

You know you  are not going to miss Him, right? If you are saying, “God I want your best for my life,” you are not going to miss him.

I’m not going to miss him no matter what I end up doing. This is both comforting and annoying to me. Comforting knowing that God is with me no matter what, wherever I go he will support me. Is annoying because I want a definitive answer, dang it! I want to know what path I’m supposed to go down, which door I’m supposed to walk through without fear or regret. I love knowing I’m not going to miss him, no matter where I go, but I would love to have at least an idea of where to go.

Chris talked about when he was in a season of transition, and he heard God say to him, “what do you want to do?” He’d never thought of that, he said, but it made him think about how God had given him desires and the like, so he decided that those were what he was going to focus on instead of finding the “right” job or the perfect way. He trusted that God had put these talents, passions, and desires in him for a reason; God gave him the freedom to pursue those things, and opened the doors that allowed him to do so.

 

I want that ability to trust God like that, to trust that he has put in me the desires of my heart, and that He’s given me the skills to accomplish those desires He’s put in me. I want the freedom to pursue the passions and I have, with the talents He has given me.

 

But how do I know what skills and talents I have for this purpose? What if this talent or that skill isn’t meant to be a part of my purpose, but is just supposed to be a hobby?

How do I know my desires are the ones given from God, not my own desires? How do I determine what is  my passion and what is a fleeting thought or in-the-moment desire?

Where do my passions and desires turn into marketable skills I can use to make a career, or where can I turn those skills and passions into a job opportunity that I won’t be rejected from?

I want to believe that God has given me these talents and skills to do something I’m passionate about, something he has placed a desire and dream in me to do.  I want to do something meaningful for a living, something I’m passionate about, and something I’m good at– somewhere my skills and dreams collide.

But is this an actual possibility? From all the applications rejected, unanswered inquiries, interviews declined, jobs unoffered, dream jobs dashed,and tears shed I’m starting to doubt so.

I wish I could end this post with a tidy bow or sweet anecdote, a glimmer of hope the midst of the hard or encouraging charge per my usual. But I can’t right now.

Maybe when all these doors stop slamming in my face.

Open Space-Housefires

Chris McClarney-Thirsty