Love Does

I just finished reading the book, Love Does, by Bob Goff.  It is a Christian book and the basic premise is that love is an action.  We show love to God and others through our actions.

Each short chapter tells a story about Bob’s often crazy and adventurous life, which he then relates to a belief or message he wants to share.  

The book is really good and an easy read.  He shows through his stories how he has chosen to live a fully engaged life.  It was inspiring, but also kind of made me feel like I could never do some of the things he does.  I’m never going to be someone who just picks up and flies across the world on a whim. It does sound cool, though.  And I’ll just have to figure out what my fully engaged life looks like.

How can I be fully present in my life?  How can I be fully present in my relationships?  These seem like big challenges to me, because they require courage.  It takes courage to be fully engaged.

“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.” ~Bob Goff

To me, saying yes is often scary.  It involves risk. It involves faith.  I do not view myself as a courageous risk-taker.  It is something I will probably continue working on for the rest of my life.  Taking risks, however, seems to come easily to Bob. He does it all the time.

One word that Goff uses a lot throughout the book is whimsy.  He is always talking about living a life of whimsy. I do like the idea of leading a whimsical life.  He calls it a “renewable, infinite resource that multiplies.”

This book is not just Goff’s beliefs about how we should live our lives.  It is his beliefs about how Jesus wants us to live our lives. It is about putting faith into action on a daily basis.

“I think Jesus had in mind that we would not just be ‘believers’ but ‘participants’.” ~Bob Goff

He suggests our faith should be more than just ideas.  It should matter to us. It should engage us. It should move us to change the world.  It should be a paradigm shift that changes the way we look at every thing and every person and every situation around us.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s not a how-to manual. He doesn’t tell us how to fully engage with life, because it will be different for each person.  Now only does Bob go on crazy adventures, but he saves tons of kids in Uganda through his work.

But through his example, maybe, just maybe, you will be inspired to think about how to live your life fully engaged and full of whimsy and fun and things that matter.  I’m not sure I can put myself out there in the ways that Bob does. He even puts his phone number at the end of the book to say that he is willing to talk to you about anything in it.  But maybe, in my own little ways, I can try to evaluate what “love does” looks like for me.

Present Over Perfect – Book Review

Over one month ago, I randomly chose an audiobook to listen to on a solo drive.  I chose Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as I am not familiar with the author, but it was amazing!  It spoke to me on so many levels. Shauna narrated the audiobook, and every sentence she spoke was full of insight, poetry, and inspiration.  With each thing she said, I would think about how I needed to remember this quote for later. I decided to buy a hardcover copy of the book just so that I could read through it again and underline my favorite lines.

The foreword was written by Brené Brown.  If you are not familiar with her work on self-compassion, it is a very important reminder to be compassionate towards oneself.  The full title of this work is Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.  Shauna chronicles her journey from overworked and stressed to a life concentrating on the things that are most important to her – family, God, friends, and fun.  I always strive to live a balanced life, and I’m no stranger to the idea of self-care. So I was primed to like this book, but Shauna’s voice and language were so inspirational to me.

Life is short. Life is about balance. It is about spending time on the things that are important to you and that you enjoy. It does not need to be about accomplishing great things. The things we accomplish are already great in God’s eyes. This is definitely a Christian book, and she talks a great deal about her relationship with Jesus.

Prayer and silence are an important component of living a present life. I am always wishing for more opportunities for silence. I am definitely an introvert and need quiet times of reflection. I can feel overwhelmed by too many people and even family life at times. Shauna writes about nature and how it can provide us that silence and connect us to God through His creation. I am trying to spend more time outdoors, even if it is just in my backyard, looking up at the sky.

Another popular theme in the book is how we have authority over our own lives. As a school counselor, I am constantly reminding my students to focus on the things that they can control, rather than the things they cannot. Shauna states, “We decide where the time goes. There’s so much freedom in that, and so much responsibility.” We don’t have to do the things that society expects of us, as long as we are doing the things that God expects of us.

This book also relates to my personal quest for minimalism. I am on a personal quest to own less stuff, so that I can spend my time and money on experiences that bring me joy. This is quite a challenging road to go down, but I’m taking small steps. I try to Marie Kondo my house, with some success, to pare it down to the things that “spark joy.”

So if you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend this book. I came across it by chance, but was drawn in by the author’s voice. I will be checking out her other works soon. If you are drawn to the idea of a simple life, I highly recommend that you read Present Over Perfect.

Bright Side Music

Listening to music is a powerful way to spread a message, set a mood, relax, and “look on the bright side!” I love listening to music with a powerful or inspirational message, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite albums that fit into this category. For each album, I will mention my top 3-4 tracks. As I was preparing to write this post, my daughter randomly reminded me of a scene in Hotel Transylvania 3 where the villian is defeated with the power of happy music! I love music that makes me feel good.

The first album I want to profile is India.Arie’s Songversation: Medicine (2017). The title of the album represents exactly what listening to it is: medicine for your soul. You could prescribe these songs to someone having a rough time. One of the tracks is even titled “Chicken Soup in a Song.” India.Arie’s lyrics feel like poetry. There are only 8 tracks on this EP, and they are all excellent.

  • “I Am Light”
  • “Give Thanks”
  • “Just Let It Go”
  • “Life Is Good”

The next album is “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams (2017). If you listen to Christian radio, you will already be familiar with this artist, as he is very popular at the moment. For me, his lyrics and voice stick out from the other Christian artists commonly played on the radio. He has a country/Southern Rock vibe, and even covers an Allman Brothers song on this album. There are 15 awesome tracks. They remind me about the power of God, and it is music that moves you.

  • “Chain Breaker”
  • “Old Church Choir”
  • “Fear is a Liar”

The final album that I will recommend is Jewel’s “Spirit” (1998). This one brings me back to my early high school years. I have always been a huge Jewel fan, and I’ve seen her in concert twice. Every song that she writes is pure poetry, and she has a wonderful voice. Some of the 13 tracks on this album are inspirational, while others tell stories. It is beautiful and uplifting.

  • “Hands”
  • “Innocence Maintained”
  • “Life Uncommon”