Anything?

I almost deleted the email.
But then–the part about:
“mom to four children, one recently adopted from Rwanda” caught my eye.

Jennie Allen’s digital publicist asked me to consider reading and reviewing Jennie’s new book anythingI’m hesitant when it comes to book reviews, because I already have a stack of books that I want to read and also because the people-pleaser-in-me dreads a possible scenario where I’ve agreed to a review and I end up not liking the book. 

But this was a while back, when I wasn’t seeing Jennie’s name pop up all across the web, so I at least decided to visit her website where this photo grabbed my heart.

And then the middle-schooler-in-me noticed that Lauren Chandler, wife of one of our favorite ipod pastors, endorsed Jennie’s book. Not that we’re founders of the Matt-Chandler-fan-club or anything (okay… so maybe we are members), but when our daughter Selah died, several of Matt’s sermons were huge as far as getting us through those next couple of years.
So I dug in…
And wrestled my way through this book. 
And loved it and dreaded it.
But when a book is good, I usually have lots of underlining and earmarked pages.
This is what my copy of anything looks like–
Jennie starts by sharing bits and pieces of her own past and the journey and the process of God seeking her out and pulling her to Him.  Even though she was raised in a family where God was honored and as a child, she was surrounded by Bible stories and Sunday school…
Jennie remembers, “God feeling a little plastic” (anything pg. 4).
But then she shares about a specific moment when God became real to her:
“In one moment I was free and safe forever.
God moves.
God saves.
In that moment God flipped something dead to life.”
~anything pg. 11
She goes on to explain how she was still stuck…free in Christ…but stuck in a place of fear and wanting to please people and how God needed to destroy the mental scrapbook of expectations she had created–expectations of marriage and children and safety and friendships and travel and family and the way “it should go” in her life…
It was the process of slowly uncurling a closed fist of fingers and offering her outstretched hands up to Him, to a place where she could finally pray–
“God we will do anything.  Anything.”
“The very thought of doing anything
demands everything.
We have to face our fears.”
~anything pg. 53
“In America, we’ve learned the art of being verbally passionate
but highly unresponsive Christ followers.
Christ says over and over again,
there is no such thing.
So we are inadequate.
We had better feel that.
On the edge, you always feel it.”
~anything pg.111
But anything is not a a call to radical acts.
Jennie explains that “radical acts were not the goal; we were truly moved by a person, in love with him, with Christ. And out of that love came a willingness to trust and hand over our lives” (anything pg. 119). 
And anything will be different for every person. Jennie and her husband share that they are “watching so many people around (them) go from consumers to full-on missionaries without changing professions or addresses” (anything pg. 122).
And she is real and raw in this book.  I saw myself in her words…
“Even as I write these words today,
I wonder if I honestly care.
I can barely obey God without thinking,
What will is cost me?
I don’t want to think that way. 
Left to myself, I am just that selfish.
I want things.  I want comfort and fun.
I don’t want to suffer.
I want things to feel in control.
Today I don’t want to be typing and studying about God’s glory–
I’d rather be at Target or on Facebook.”
~anything pg. 131
Every time I wanted to throw an argument in the face of her call to anything, she went there…
In one chapter she describes the doubts and concerns expressed by close, godly, loving friends and family, those with wisdom who questioned their increasingly reckless prayer to follow God into anything.  I sit on both sides of that conversation.  When we were starting our second adoption, just months after our fourth child had died, I had this mental argument with myself over and over.  But her words were convicting:
“We have become such a pragmatic society
with our pros and cons and schedules
that when we get to matters of radical obedience,
it’s easy for us to talk ourselves out of it.
We rationalize that if the cost outweighs the benefit,
then we shouldn’t do it.”
~anything pg. 152
I wanted to say to her–
What if the cost of anything is your child?  
We have waded through grief before…
That part of anything.
What will you say then?
But she voiced those questions right along with me:
“I tremble as I write this,
but if he allows one of my children
or my husband to die,
or if I get cancer,
or if we lose all we own to bankruptcy,
will I take this back?
Will I wish I’d never said God could have me for anything?”
~anything pg. 183
Praying anything
Is a call to loving a person–Jesus Christ.
And then to living out that love in a fully-abandoned-life-of-trusting-Him with everything.
It is a call to push past eternity amnesia.
To walk out Heaven-is-real-and-this-life-is-short.
And it scares me.
Because our God isn’t safe,
“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.
But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
If you are ready to say–
“anything”
You will love this book.
If you’re still wrestling with this,
If it scares you,
If you almost-don’t-want-to-pray-it…
But deep deep down, you know you want this life of anything,
Or if with trembling fingers, you’re just starting to uncurl your tight grasp on this life,
Waiting and wanting for Him to replace it with–
His life,
This book will challenge you and encourage you.
Last year I wrote a poem called Faith That Walks.
It ends with…
Not deeds–
That justify.
For only Grace redeems.

But in all this…
A faith that does.
A faith that acts.
A faith that abides.
A faith that cries out:
I believe; help my unbelief.

And so–
I will reach for the fringe of His garment.
With grasping faith.
Trusting in

The giver of Faith.

Help me to
Walk–
My faith.

Clinging to
The One
Who is faithful.

That’s where I am right now…
wanting so much to pray anything
and to give Him everything.
Trusting Him to give strength to those words that right now,
are barely a whisper.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely beautiful. One f my favorite of your posts ever. Forgot it was a book review.

  2. Barb Spencer says:

    Kara, the timing of this article couldn’t have been better. I’ve been feeling so many fears for my children, my husband, myself…wanting that dream for all of us where there are no hurts. But I belong to Jesus and so though I don’t like going through hurts, God means them for my sanctification so that I will bend to Him only and not to my wishes. Thanks for posting this and bringing me to taking my thoughts captive to the one, true, unchanging Love of my Life.
    ~Barb

    • Barb…I so appreciate your vulnerability in these words…

      I’m so in-awe-of-and-thankful-for you and your family…for Aubrie and for the relationship you have with your children…and to know this is still a battle for you…
      I just appreciate that.
      And the fact that you are battling it.

      I wanted to include a quote from the book that was from Jennie’s friend Rachel, but couldn’t work it in without a weird little I-quote-jennie-who-quoted-Rachel…but I loved her words.

      Rachel has lived a life of heartache and her response was:

      “You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.”

      And then from Jennie:

      “The hardest things in her life have brought her the deepest relationships. The hardest things have become the things that define the most beautiful things about her. The hardest things in her life have given her more of God.”

      Even though I wish it didn’t have to be true, I know…that the hard things (and many people experience much more than we’ve been through) have been for my good–the hard times in my marriage, the struggles with kiddos’ learning disabilites, Selah’s death, the emotional struggle of adoption, even the dry place I’m coming out of right now that keeps me looking for Him, calling out to Him…
      I wouldn’t know Him like I do without it all.

      • Barb Spencer says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more, Kara. Sometimes I want this sterile world where there is no pain, but it doesn’t exist–for anyone–and thank goodness it doesn’t. The hard things…it’s the hard things and how respond to them that make us into the people God wants us to be. That’s really who I want to be–the person God intended me to be.

  3. Sounds like a great book! I’ll check into it! Thanks!

    • It was so good Valerie.
      Good in a scary way that is difficult to walk away from unchanged.

      22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. ~James 1:22-25

  4. Alicia Bruxvoort says:

    Funny how God keeps tossing this book title at me. I was just sipping coffee with a friend last month when I spied this sitting on her coffee table. Then someone at church mentioned it, and now your words have me pinned :) No doubt, this book is my next read. Thanks for the honest review.

  5. kariandcompany says:

    Wow. I don’t know if this book is for me… sounds pretty powerful. I’ll put it on my list though. Anything… been thinking about that, I know God is calling me to that… but it is scary. Thanks for the review and thoughts!

    • I think you’d really like it Kari…her overall focus/conclusion is that God wants our hearts. It is one though that is just hard to simply put down and walk away from.
      I keep thinking about it…

  6. Love this Kara! I too was contacted and read it and was hugely impacted! The “anything” that I gave to God was my fears of losing another child to miscarriage and I was afraid of being pregnant – I’m pregnant in my 12th week and although still a little fearful of miscarriage, my fears are so small compared with what they were before giving it to God! You can read my review here if you’d like to see how the book impacted me – I had to do a 2-parter because there was so much to say! :0)

    http://www.delight-thyself.com/2012/04/gods-glory-fell-from-pages-and-into-me.html
    and here
    http://www.delight-thyself.com/2012/04/going-through-motions-giveaway.html

    • LOVED both of these posts Ann…so so encouraging to see how God led your husband to this place a while back and that you were willing to follow his lead and how now God has used this book to pull you in a heart-way into “anything” as well.
      Love,
      K

      • Don’t you LOVE when God throws something like this your way and you just know it was from Him?
        I read your comments about reviews and I’m in the same boat. I pretty much ALWAYS hit “delete” but for some reason…this one stood out. Him.

  7. Oh my. Yes, I need to read this book! Thank you so much Kara! I’m with you … wanting to say “anything.” ;-)

    • I know you are…
      I know you would go anywhere…do anything…follow Him.
      And that sometimes the most difficult “anything” is simply to stay and be faithful in the here and now.
      Thankful for you Misty….and your…anything…here, which He has used in my life.

  8. This was a lovely review on I am sure a wonderful book; I will work on reading this one. I can’t imagine losing a child to death; but I do know what it is like to lose a child spiritually. I loved your poem “Faith That Walks”. Thank you for sharing these thought today; I needed them.

    • Thank you LeAnn…and honestly…I think losing a child spiritually is an even deeper hurt. I’m so sorry…praying it won’t be the end of his/her story…that God will pull your child back close.

  9. Teshapapik says:

    Great book review I REALLY want/ need to read this. I have said anything before However It is easy to want to take it back after a time of trials. I so need a fresh commitment to anything :)

  10. Great post! I love that photo of the sun in the clouds.

  11. Kara, I loved this book too. I loved her honesty and her openness. It really challenged me. (And I folded down corners and underlined sentences EVERYWHERE too!) :)

  12. I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Amanda Mianecki says:

    Kara, I am jumping over to you from Denise in Bloom. Your words here resonate with me. I have seen this book, “Anything” popping up all over. To be honest, I am in the “this book scares the heck out of me” phase. But, I am grateful for your review. And to have stumbled across your blog:) Blessings to you!

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