Made Like Martha Guest Post + Giveaway

Before becoming a mother, I was an efficient do-er. I was often the first to get my grades in at the end of the semester; I’d plan my days around productivity and quiet time; I felt pretty in control of my schedule. And then kids happened… And I quickly learned that the best-laid plans of productivity go by the wayside for a myriad of reasons. Being a mom has taught me to hold my to-do list loosely, to go with the flow, and to remember to live in the moment. Some days, this happens more gracefully than others.

When I heard about Katie M. Reid’s book, Made Like Martha, the title resonated with me. Martha has always been a woman I’ve connected with and I feel like she’s gotten an unfair reputation as a frenzied worker. But really, she kept things together. Made Like Martha reminds us that God has created “Modern Marthas” as do-ers. The question is how do we worship and work, without losing focus? Katie delivers a grace-filled look at how we can use Martha as a role-model, rather than a warning.

I’m honored to feature a guest post of Katie’s here. Read to the bottom for an opportunity to win your own copy of Made Like Martha, which releases tomorrow!

Sabbath Rest for Those Who Get Things Done
by Katie M. Reid

PerfectioninUsMadeLikeMarthaKMReidI knew I should be more intentional about Sabbath (a day set apart for the Lord and recuperation) but I thought it had to look a certain way too. Since it hardly ever looked “that way,” I often felt restless about getting rest “right.”

Some friends of mine are more purposeful when it comes to Sabbath. Some don’t go out to eat because that causes others work on the Sabbath. Others implement no screen time on their day of rest. Some mandate a nap (yes, please!). Some do yard work. Some sleep in. Some go adventuring. Some are physically active, others avoid it all costs. Some brunch at a leisurely hour. And some are required to work on Sundays, so they pick another day to chill.

Have you felt unsure about what a day of rest should look like?

Fielding questions about Sabbath now:
“Can we go out to eat?”
“Should I do housework?”
“Should we allow technology?”
“Do I need to connect with God for hours in order for it to count?”

Good questions. I’m glad you asked. Here are my off-the-top-of-my-head responses (for what they’re worth):
“Yes!”
“Definitely not. Let’s just say it’s not allowed. Like ever!”
“I dunno know. I try not to, but it doesn’t seem to stick.”
“Grace Darling, so much grace.”

Much to my surprise, my family is hungry every Sunday—of all the nerve! No grace for that. J/K! #kindof (insert sheepish and conflicted emoji face).Thankfully, we’ve uncovered the beauty of leftovers, a.k.a. Operation Fend For Yourself.

Sometimes our kids have soccer games on Sundays. Although we enjoy cheering them on, we miss our afternoon nap on those days.

Sometimes our day of rest (whether it’s Sunday or another day) is filled up by our own choosing, but other times, unexpected things disrupt our ideal.

It can be hard to rest on the inside when there is a flurry of activity happening around you—self-induced or otherwise. Like the crowds that pressed in on Jesus and vied for his attention, you can’t always retreat from the hustle and bustle.

We need time to recharge (Jesus did that after all). But beach vacations (my favorite way to unwind: staring at waves, hearing the caw of gulls overhead, sipping iced tea with lemon, reading a book, not being interrupted…insert contented sigh) are few and far between. And if we wait to spend time with Jesus until the conditions are ideal, we never will.

Instead of being annoyed that your day of rest is not as serene as you’d like, why not connect with God in the midst of it?

Rest can look a thousand different ways. Let’s ask God for wisdom to rest in ways that focus on Him and refresh us. Yes, we need shuteye. Yes, time away is important. Yes, a break helps us recharge, but the peace of Jesus’s Presence is carried within us at any and all times—waiting to be enjoyed.

Rest is not something to search for, but Someone to be with.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

What are some of your favorites ways to rest?

KatieReid_MeetKateKatie M. Reid is a wife, mom to five, and a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversations over iced tea. Katie is also a speaker, Bible study facilitator, and author of Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done (which includes a 5-week bible study for individuals and groups). She encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life at katiemreid.com. Subscribe to Katie’s site and receive resources to help you breathe deeply and walk freely.

You can win your own copy of Made Like Martha!MadeLikeMartha_sidebar

Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done releases tomorrow! Katie’s publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah has generously offered to host a giveaway for one copy. All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter, The Compost Heap and leave a comment here telling me you’ve signed up. If you’re feeling chatty, tell me why you connect with either Martha or Mary more and why. I’ll randomly select a winner on Thursday, June 12, 2018.

As a member of the Made Like Martha launch team, I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

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Review: Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

It’s easy to dismiss the Bible and Christianity, isn’t it? I was about to say “these days” at the end of that sentence but I have a feeling that every generation has grappled with interpretation and misinterpretation of this ancient text. Of course, I want the story of God, in whose image I was created, to reflect me and my values. And everyone, from the Attorney General to atheists to theologians interprets this text through their own lens.

_240_360_Book.2605.coverIt’s a fine line between asking questions to dig deeper and questioning with a framework of cynicism. One is productive, the other can be frustrating. In her newest book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Rachel Held Evans does her best to remove the cynicism and ask the questions for what they are: To learn and grapple, often without a specific outcome.

I’ve read every one of Evans’ books and this one is the most inviting in this divided world. She reimagines stories in modern settings, helps us see familiar characters in a new light, and links these ancient narratives to modern lessons.

Evans provides deep research and insight while loving the questions themselves. You won’t find answers in this book but you’ll learn that asking questions is a vital part of engaging with this text and tradition.

If you’re looking for a book that helps you experience the Bible through a fresh and forgiving lens, Inspired will give you hope and encouragement.

What books have helped you see the Bible from a fresh perspective? How do you balance the ancient text with modern interpretation?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Two Books to Read for World Refugee Day

For as long as human history has been recorded, we have known about refugees. The Abrahamic faiths are built on an idea of fleeing and finding homes in new countries. But just because something has been happening for millennia doesn’t mean we can’t actively be trying to love our neighbors and find better solutions to an unsafe world.

Lists, resources, and petitions abound for current refugee situations. If you want to do something that helps immediately, I suggest you find an organization you trust and respect to see how you and your family can best partner with their efforts.

But if you’re looking for a slower understanding about America’s history of immigration, I wanted to suggest one of the most impacting books I’ve read on the Christian response to modern immigration.

41L1Pnj4JgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang was published in 2009 but remains pertinent, nearly a decade later. Soerens and Yang work for World Relief, an aid organization whose goal is to empower refugees and the countries they come from.  The book is a combination of stories and statistics and the writing is engaging. If nothing else, Soerens and Yang helped me confront my own ignorance about the history of immigration and how America has actually treated refugees, especially in the last hundred years. (I wrote a more detailed essay about Welcoming the Stranger over at SheLoves last year.)

51sOre9OlEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_If you’d rather read a fiction book that makes you think, I just finished Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. Published last year, this timely novel follows two women: Soli, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and Kavya, an Indian-American struggling with infertility. Their paths cross when Soli is put into an immigration detention center and her son is put in Kavya’s foster care. There are a couple plot leaps but overall, this book humanizes the families who are impacted by immigration policy. I also appreciated that this was written and published well before the current practices. It’s a reminder that we have a very broken system in dealing with those who cross the border without documentation.

If you need a place to start looking for resources, I thought I’d list a few places to start. There are many organizations doing really good work, so I’d recommend finding one you feel comfortable giving to and trusting with your resources.

The Justice Conference, World Relief, and We Welcome Refugees created this fact sheet that gives a quick overview of the “zero tolerance” policies. Check out their websites for what they do and how you can get involved.

35521635_1595068103956046_7239580437297758208_n

Again, I trust you are able to research and find an organization that best aligns with your own beliefs. But I’d encourage everyone to read more deeply than Twitter or the News. On this day, as we remember refugees from around the world, I hope we all take the time to dig a little deeper into these very complex issues.

What resources have helped you understand the refugee crisis over the years? How do you stay informed? Any favorite organizations you support?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Review: NKJV Reader’s Bible

Now that we’re a full week into summer, I’m slowly finding a routine. My favorite part of school being over is a slower start to our mornings. The girls are still up before 7:00 but we don’t have to be anywhere for a while. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee while still in my pajamas, reading a poem or two, and starting to read a chapter from the Bible.

_240_360_Book.2523.coverA couple years ago, I set a goal to complete the Bible in a Year and when I was done, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. My big goal had been achieved and it felt a bit strange to just start right back in Genesis. But I’ve missed the daily rhythm of reading from the Bible and was having a hard time finding a good fit.

I’ve been using the same New Living Translation Study Bible since college and love it. But when I saw Thomas Nelson’s Deluxe Reader’s Bible, my interest was piqued. I haven’t read the New King James Version since my first Precious Moments Bible and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering this poetic translation.

IMG_9363I also enjoy the “reader’s version” formatting. This means it reads like a book: One column formatting without verses. The chapter titles are printed at the top of each page and the chapter number is printed in the margins but otherwise, those key markers are unobtrusive or missing altogether. There is no commentary, concordance, or references.

As the description reads,

The NKJV Deluxe Reader’s Bible is an invitation to get caught up in the story of Scripture, as history, poetry, and prophecy come to life on pages designed for people who love a good book.

This Bible is ideal for someone looking for a clean, simple reading experience. It has helped me remember that the Bible is literature and reading it as such has deepened my experience. I needed a refresh when it came to this familiar text and a different translation combined with a beautiful format was exactly what I needed to reignite my morning routine.

What is your favorite Biblical translation? How do you refresh your morning routine?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Books and Resources That Give Empathy Toward the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

I have had trouble reading the news lately. My heart breaks for what is happening in Israel-Palestine, not because I want to take a side but because it seems that peace is farther and farther away.

I have a lot of complicated feelings about the region, and I know I’m not alone. As I learn more and more about Liberation Theology, I truly believe that God calls us to stand with the oppressed. I’ve become friends with a Palestinian immigrant this year; our dear friends and neighbors are Israeli-Jewish; Frank’s family is Jewish. Personally, I have a lot of trouble figuring out what I think and feel about this decades-old conflict. (Yes, I say decades-old. I do believe what we are seeing now is a direct result of decisions made in 1948.)

I wanted to share some of the books that have helped me on this journey. These have helped me see the humanity on all sides. I think, regardless of your own conclusions, the longer we create an us-vs-them attitude, the less of a chance conversation and peace will really happen.

UnknownThe Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

This is the first book that opened my eyes to the complexities of this modern conflict. If you only read one book about the history and impact of Israel-Palestine, I’d recommend this well-researched piece. Tolan’s command of storytelling makes it easy to forget you’re not reading a memoir or narrative but this is deeply researched and incredibly balanced. Tolan takes no sides but simply tells stories. (I wrote initial thoughts back in 2015 when I first read it.)

41haVpeNLjL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

This incredible memoir, written by a Palestinian Christian brought a new depth to my understanding of the region. A Melkite Greek Catholic, Chacour has devoted his life to peacemaking in the region. A refugee from his home nearly his entire life, Chacour chooses to engage in discussion and relationship rather than deepening the divide of oppression. I hadn’t ever thought about the generations of Christians in the region and how this conflict has impacted them, so Blood Brothers gave me a deeper understanding of just how complex all of this is. (Last year, I wrote a post for the Red Couch Book Club if you’d like a more detailed discussion.)

51Fu5TQSL1L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Sharon and My Mother-in-Law by Suad Amiry

This short memoir was an interesting look at what life during the forty-day curfew of Ramallah was like. Amiry is blunt about her feeling of cabin fever, the unfairness of her dog receiving an identity card from Jerusalem when her family could not, and the daily struggle to maintain identity in the midst of a helpless situation.

51X-WC6f9UL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

This novel about the friendship between an Israeli soldier and Palestinian siblings is a relevant look at what many of the next generations are feeling. Inheriting a conflict creates different perspectives and Rothman-Zecher does a masterful job at remembering why the State of Israel was so important for that first generation of Holocaust survivors and why a “land without a people” is a myth. I will give the caveat that I wouldn’t recommend this novel to my grandmother, as there are some scenes that may make more conservative readers uncomfortable but, as so many novels do, this creates empathy and depth of character in ways that nonfiction can’t.

Other Resources

For a quick overview of the modern conflict, I’d recommend this 12-minute video:

(In short: Let’s not forget the effects of Colonialism!)

Last fall, I took an enrichment class at the University of Denver about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our professor founded an organization called Meet the Middle East, aiming at humanizing Palestinians and bringing about conversation. I’d recommend following along, especially if you’re local to the Denver area.

Global Immersion is another organization whose mission is to train “everyday peacemakers.” They frequently host free webinars focusing on the complex issues surrounding peace in the region and I have learned a lot through those.

Ultimately, I’d recommend digging into the “other side.” I’ve learned so much from remembering that there are no easy answers and that actual people are living in both Israel and Palestine.

What would you add to this list? What books or resources have most impacted and helped your understanding of this particular conflict?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Creating Space for Poetry

Even though I try to do a good job of balancing the books I read between memoir, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, sometimes things get off. A bunch come in from the library all at once or I have a particular commitment to read a specific book. Maybe one book just leads naturally into another which, in turn, leads me down a rabbit trail.

Last month, I read both We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates and When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors. While one was a compilation of articles about race during the Obama administration and one was a memoir culminating in the founding of the Black Lives Matter Movement, both dealt with some heavy and uncomfortable topics.

I finished When They Called You a Terrorist feeling overwhelmed. I thought, perhaps reading something completely different would help clear my head while I processed Khan-Cullors’ story. After several starts and stops, I just wasn’t connecting. The stories and information I had just spent time with needed more time to absorb.

A friend suggested poetry to help me pause, breathe, and give space to what I had just read. The library came through and Counting Descent by Clint Smith arrived just in time. These are not light poems, by any means. They deal with the realities of being a black man in today’s world. And yet, by the very nature of the medium gives space for really big topics.

It reminded me of the importance of always having a book of poetry on hand. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite collections.

513UrUn5-yLThe Gift by Hafiz

I kept this volume of poetry in the playroom when Bea was small. As she toddled around and explored, I sat in a chair by the window and snuck in a poem or two a day. Frank’s aunt gifted me my copy and told me to open it at random – this would be my poem. I opened to page 139, “Muhammed’s Twin.” It continues to be one of my favorites in this collection.

 

 

41JMBgNaRgLLeavings by Wendell Berry

This volume by America’s farmer-poet was one I loved reading first thing in the morning. As a city dweller, I can easily lose sight of nature and Berry kept me rooted in the land. His poetry reads like a prayer, helping me to pause and notice my surroundings – from the chirping of birds to the rustle of leaves.

 

 

61S1ynjaEwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Selected Poems by e.e. cummings

I’ve had this since high school and keep returning to it. I love cumming’s style and his ability to help me re-notice the most ordinary of things. One of the first postcards I mailed to Frank when we were dating was a cummings poem. I feel like he’ll always have a special place on my shelf of poetry.

 

 

 

When I finish Smith’s powerful collection, I already have Hagar Poems by Mohja Kahf ready and waiting. I’m remembering to always have poetry on hand and part of my reading routine.

What about you? Do you regularly read poetry? What is your favorite collection?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Embracing the Comfort of Three-Star Reviews

On Amazon, a 3-star review means the book or product is “ok” and is filed under critical reviews. I have trouble with this. In my mind, 3 out of 5 stars means I liked something but it wasn’t life-changing. I read enough good-but-not-great books to be comfortable giving a lot of reads 3 stars.

IMG_8735I know people who abandon books if they don’t predict a 4 or 5-star rating. I get that. Life’s to short for books you don’t connect with. But when I look at my Goodreads profile and all the 3-star books I’ve read, I’m glad I didn’t abandon them. Some books are good books and aren’t meant to be life-changing. Some are great vacation reads and earn a solid 3-stars. That doesn’t mean they’re bad or I wish I hadn’t read them. They just aren’t 5-stars. And that’s fine.

We just got back from five days in the mountains, reconnecting after tax season. This getaway has become essential for our family. We need to get out of town, breathe, and re-bond after an intense three months. I get that going to a mountain cabin is an incredible privilege – that so many don’t get to experience these escapes – and I’m deeply grateful for this tradition.

It’s not that getting away equates stellar, 5-star moments all the time. We’re still a human family made up of expectations and friction. The girls still were sisters – playing sweetly one moment and grappling over toys the next. But overall, this experience was what we needed.

Now, we’re back into our home routine of school and work and dinner. The difference is that Frank can walk Bea to school while I have a moment of quiet. Or he’s home at dinnertime. It takes some time to reestablish these normal routines but we’re doing it. Our days are made up of good, 3-star moments. They are sweet and good but not the stuff of profile pictures and photo albums.

Life is often 3-stars, isn’t it? It’s good, we’re rolling along, but we’re not experiencing life-changing decisions and events all the time. I think it would be exhausting to always be at a 4 or 5-star rating. There’s something so comforting about mostly rolling along, settling into a routine, knowing what to expect.

Because our life is mostly quiet and normal, those big decisions and getaways seem all the more special and needed. I love that we can drive an hour and a half to breathe and reconnect. We don’t need to travel far or go somewhere exotic to have a wonderful experience.

I’m not saying that we need to numb ourselves or keep life mediocre to enjoy those experiences. I’m remembering to appreciate our daily rhythms and routines. Living in a 3-star mindset isn’t critical or uneventful. It’s comforting and it’s where our roots dig deeper, where we build our small practices that flourish when we’re outside of our norms.

I’m going to keep giving 3-star reviews on Amazon. Not because I don’t love the books I’m reading but because we need 3-star books in our lives. We need books that are comfortable, that are quick reads, and that draws us into a sweet story. Books that may not be life-changing but that make me glad I read them, nonetheless. A lot like life.

How do you rate your books? Do you abandon them if they aren’t potential 4 or 5-star reads? 

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