Monday, March 9, 2015


Recently I had the opportunity to review Michelle Cushatt's book Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life. In a nutshell, Undone is a heart and soul baring memoir of Cushatt's journey through cancer and then changing life circumstances in her family. Some memoirs offer a pull back the curtains glimpse into an author's life. However, Cushatt gives a door-wide open entry into her life.

Undone begins with a life-changing phone call from her doctor with the words "Michelle, it's not good" after which she "fell completely apart." From that point on, Cushatt interweaves stories from her life, Bible stories and teaching, and her current reality to emphasize the truth that if you believe what you say you believe, everything is going to work out. Some stories are funny and others are serious, but each one reminds the reader that God uses and works through imperfect people. One particularly humorous story encourages readers that authenticity and vulnerability minister more than perfect put-togetherness. Throughout the book, readers are reminded messy is the beginning of extraordinary as Cushatt shares openly of a painful divorce and substance abuse.

Throughout Undone, Cushatt's theme is "God showed up bigger" and that he provides enough for one day at a time. My notes from this book are filled with poignant quotes and one-liners that pointed me back to God's grace and forgiveness. The reminders that life is meant to be lived, not to feel guilty of letting some things go, and that the battle is God's, not mine, will remain with me long after reading this book. Many women will enjoy reading Undone on their own. Others may benefit from reading this book in community and using it as a springboard to openly share their own mess and how God is making something beautiful in their life. While not designed as a book to study, a discussion guide to help facilitate women sharing their own experiences would be helpful.

Statement of Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book simply by requesting it on the author's blog in return for a fair and honest review.

P.S. I enjoyed Cushatt's reference to the CIY conference where she committed to full-time ministry as I have served as a youth sponsor at CIY several times and am blessed to minister to and with many individuals who have been impacted for eternity through the ministry of CIY.

My trip to Africa!

Yesterday at our church my teammates and I presented on our recent trip to a country in west Africa. It hardly seems real that just a month ago I was frantically packing to go to Africa and that due to February being a short month, it was just two weeks ago that we returned from our trip. While I had hoped to post about my adventures earlier, sufficient time has now passed that I have bee able to reflect on what I learned.

This was my first trip out of the country and I was leaving my family at home. However, I didn't have any concerns about the trip and had a peace that everything was going to be fine. The amazing thing was that we had a very smooth trip and I wouldn't change a thing. Our flights going and coming were very smooth with no delays. Our food was great (we ate like kings!) and our accommodations were wonderful. I really could not have asked for a smoother trip. The best part though was being able to see first hand how God is working in the country we visited.

I had first became acquainted with the missionaries we visited while they studied at the university where I am employed. I had read their newsletter and their Facebook posts, prayed for them, and considered myself knowledgeable of the work they were doing. But seeing their work firsthand completely blew me away! It was amazing to worship in the first church they planted and know that a mere 15 years ago no one in that locale had heard the name of Jesus. Yet today, 9 different people groups worship together. They have actively established new churches and our evangelizing others in their tribes. Hearing the stories firsthand of the sacrifices they have made and the hardships they are experiencing as a result of their decision to follow Christ was sobering and a huge reality check for me. When they follow Christ, they are literally leaving their families, traditions, and customs and have frequently paid dearly for doing so. Yet these men and women have such joy and excitement and are willing to do whatever it takes to share the Gospel with others in their people groups. I look forward to the day in the future when these people groups move from the unreached to the reached column on the Joshua Project and knowing that I shook hands with the first believers in these groups who were instrumental in reaching their people for Christ.

I'm still processing my trip and these experiences and I will continue to do so for some time. We are blessed to live in a country where following Christ is in many ways easy. We have so much, are so blessed, and don't experience the persecution and difficulties common in other parts of the world. However, those same blessings and how easy we have it often causes us to become complacent in our faith. We can't afford to be complacent any longer. The enemy has such a visible hold over the country I visited yet has an equally strong invisible hold over our lives because it is so easy to put off until tomorrow what ought to be done today.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Finding Freedom in Doing God's Will

"Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free."--A. W. Tozer The Pursuit of God.

This quote appeared as part of a larger section on my perpetual desk calendar this past week. The portion printed above has been gnawing at my brain all week. Like many individuals, I frequently succumb to bouts of what if, should have done, could have done, should do, or could do. For me, these questions frequently center around choices I have made about my children, their education, my working outside the home, and what I can alter from this point forward. These are all areas where individuals and families make a variety of choices depending on their own circumstances which have no one right or wrong answer. I've recently been wrestling with some of these issues again--particularly in light of other recent life experiences and changing priorities.

This quote has helped to bring focus and clarity to some of the questions with which I've been wrestling. While I can't say they have all been answered, these words are a great reminder that the will of God must be the primary focus for a believer. While knowing God's will is not always easy, I can know without any hesitation that time spent teaching and training my children and others in the Word, feeding my own soul on the riches of scripture and God's presence, helping to promote God's desire of having worshipers from every language and people group is always the right thing to do. And that has indeed been a very freeing realization.

Love Your Bible

At first glance, the title Love Your Bible may strike the casual browser as odd. They may be inclined to think “Of course I love my Bible!” or “Don’t all believers love their Bible?” However, in this brief book Gary Neal Hansen brings to life the words of Psalm 119:97 “O, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long!”

While some readers may have heard of lectio divina, others may not be familiar with this ancient practice. Hansen beings with a brief history of lectio divina and its role in Christian history. Of particular interest is the fact that Benedictine monks were required to spend 2 hours a day practicing this discipline and four hours during the winter. As very few of us today have the opportunity to commit that many hours to this practice, Hansen spends the remainder of this book breaking down the steps of lectio divina for today’s readers. A single chapter is devoted to each of lectio divina’s four parts. Throughout the book Hansen uses examples from Psalm 1:1 to help the reader practice the steps.

Readers will gain much by reading through the entire book once rather quickly to obtain the full breadth of the book and to become familiar with lectio divina. After this first brief reading, readers can engage in a second slower reading in which they practice this discipline. To obtain the most from this resource, you simply cannot just read the words on the page but must put them into practice. Fortunately, this book is slim enough to keep with your Bible, perhaps tucked into your Bible cover, to refer to often.

At the end of Love Your Bible, Hansen suggests that readers could practice lectio divina on a single verse of the Psalms each day which would take roughly six years. This suggestion may sound ludicrous to our fast paced, speed of light society, yet following this suggestion will profit those who accept it in the long run.

Hopefully you are now wondering "Where can I get a copy of this book?" Well, I'm glad you asked. This book is available on Amazon in a print copy as seen in the picture above. Or you can obtain this book as a FREE download via author Gary Neal Hansen's blog. And, I have a copy I can give away. Comment below indicating why you would like a free signed copy of this book and how you would use it in ministry.

I received a complimentary download of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.