Breaking Busy (a book review and GIVEAWAY)

This week I invited a complete stranger to come sit in my kitchen (surrounded by laundry, deadlines, guitar practice, a sick hubby, a blizzard and a cooped up 5-year-old boy). Mind you, I don’t have tons of time to sit and chat (or read) but she came over and jumped right in the middle of my chaotic week. As we chatted about real life and wanting real meaning, she lovingly told me (as any true friend would) I had cilantro stuck in my teeth, and there’s a better way. So I better do something about it.

So I’m going to tell you too.

Friend, it’s time to Break Busy, its time to trade in crazy for peace and purpose.

 

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Breaking Busy” by Alli Worthington is not another book filled with time management tips. This book sits down with you right in the midst of your crazy and calls out your very soul. Yes, friend, she calls out the being part of you that has been shoved behind all the self-protective layers of doing.

“Crazy busy is a life without peace. It’s marked by decisions made for the approval of the world, not the approval of God. It’s filled with what we think we ‘should’ do, what we think will make others happy, and what we think being a good person looks like. All this busyness, in the end, keeps us just out of reach of the life we were created to live.” (pg. 22)

The first half of Breaking Busy gives you insight into identifying real busy, the kind that saps your joy and leaves you lifeless. We almost can’t feel this encroachment until we’re drowning. For me… since we’re being honest… I wrestle with fear of failure or rejection (pick your poison) and focus too much on all my flagrant flaws. So much so that I end up choosing crazy busy to avoid those pesky loud lies about not being enough. And Alli totally called me out.

“Whether we are focusing on our fears or focusing on our flaws (real or imagined), we are focused in the wrong place. When we stay focused on our flaws and weaknesses, we lose sight of the truth that God is the one who is great, and he does great things through flawed people.” (pg 113)

The second half of the book has more ‘how’ to break busy. Seriously, your best girlfriends don’t just tell you have cilantro in your teeth — they hand you a tooth pick. But I want you to know, this wasn’t a list of do’s and don’ts… this was a baton toss. I won’t spoil the divine dish she serves up in these chapters, but here’s a taste:

“Our lives have gotten so cluttered up with things we think we ‘should’ do, we can’t figure out what we were meant to do. …Let your life be about what you are meant to do, not full of what you think you should do. This starts with your daily decisions about how you spend your time.” (pg 147)

But… I have one more confession. I wrote the above 500 words and then went to the hair salon. Where, wrapped in foil and left alone in the heat of the dryer, I finished the book.

OH.

MY.

WORD.

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I may or may not have shed some tears RIGHT there (I took this picture later). Chapter 10 took it to a whole new level. It was as if Alli reached across the table, grabbed my arm and with sincere grace in her eyes said:

Sweetheart, “the lie of shame is often the reason we find ourselves living busy. …But I am here to tell you this lie, the shame [the enemy] pours into us, serves one purpose: to distract us and keep us busy trying to prove to the world we are perfect. …Jesus teaches us that our worth is in him.” (pg 196, 199)

Bam. Freedom. RIGHT there.

Listen, I could tell you the stats on how many pages this book has, how the lay-out of chapters flows and even talk about the voice the author writes in – but you won’t buy the book because of its length or writing style. You’ll buy the book because of its impact.

And it will. It will reach into your messy and call you out, out into abundant life, a life full of blessing instead of stressing.

In the midst of all this busy we just want to know that it matters, that we matter. This week, God showed up (tucked inside a little blue book) in the midst of my crazy to remind me. It matters not because I do it all, it matters simply because He loves me and He is my all. And He wants to remind you too!

Giveaway!!!

Should you go get this book? YES and I am shouting it SO loudly that I’m gonna GIVE you a copy! Share this review on your social media sites and tag me (Twitter: @Brennemeyer; Instagram: Faith2Shine; or Facebook: Brandi Rennemeyer) The more you share, the more entries you get. I’ll do the drawing Monday (midafternoon ish).

Oh, and, I have been compensated by Zondervan for this review of Breaking Busy. But in all honesty God totally set me up. This book was amazing and I will be sharing it A LOT!

Choosing Freedom (and a little Birthday Party)

In the quiet of the morning hours, memories dance through my mind. Their weight is heavy today, heavy with gratitude.

I remember the cold air on my face as I waddled to the door, clutching my pillow. The surge of adrenaline as I heard the cadence of his heart beat on the monitor. (That sound never gets old). The overwhelming pain of a contraction.

Connection. Life.

But its the sound of my soul crying out that resounds the loudest. As the ceiling tiles raced over my head and the strength of my body flooded the sheets, I can hear her. And I remember.

The doctors may have saved my life that day, holding my body back from the brink of death and keeping my husband a wife and my children a mother. But they also rescued my soul. And that is what I celebrate today.

Christine Caine says it perfectly in her book “Undaunted”: “My choices were limited. I could avoid the pain and live with a partially functioning leg for the rest of my life, or I could embrace the pain and experience a full recovery.”

My soul had been buried under the shadows of shame, tucked far behind the walls of fear and blocked in by a facade of people-pleasing bricks. My soul was scarred and calloused, only partially functioning. But five years ago those shadows split and the walls crumbled, and out of the ashes I found me. It hurt hard, but as I embraced the pain I found dreams to dream and words to write. I found hope and passion and authentic faith.

It sure hasn’t been a walk in the park, it takes courage and a lot of strength to rebuild and rebuild right, and we still have a long way to go. But today I remember just how far we’ve come. I remember the victories of finally being authentic. I remember the work of faith in the daily walking, the breakthroughs and break outs, the sweat and tears and … the freedom.

I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might,
I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.
I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.
When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,”
I didn’t believe a word they said….

Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.

O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-15 (MSG)

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I wonder friends, what is holding you back from the freedom you seek. What would give your soul wings? Don’t wait for God to shake you out of your cave, step out now. He’s ready for you, He’s the God who makes things happen. He’s the designer, the author of all things you. Let His truth, His words write your story. It’s safe out here in the light of His love, promise.

This is Faith 2 Shine’s 2nd Birthday!! 155 total Posts. And just this year there were over 3,200 views from over 79 countries. Thank you friends, Thank you! You make me smile every time I open my computer and you are a constant in my prayers. Thank you for being here with me in this real life doing this real faith. Here’s to more words and another year pursuing His call.

Love you.

Is God with me in my messed up Christmas?

Job 1.21

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around my house, and I’m not talking twinkling lights or wafting gingerbread. No, it’s more like frenzied shoppers, tired momma’s, whiny kids, and spent dads. Truth, I didn’t want to blog at all, let alone talk about Job. I’m kinda all bah-humbug over here.

But then the song “Oh Come Immanuel” rang through the radio air waves. And I found myself on my knees, crying out for Messiah, longing to experience His glory and peaceful outpouring in the midst of this commercial madness and twisted list of expectations.

And I thought of Job.

Job, too, sat among frenzied chaos and shattered expectations. Everything he’d ever held as security, stability, and capability sailed away with the wind. With his friends ready to set him straight, the pressures to stay all shiny and nice were surmounting. He could feel it.

The air chilled and the light faded.

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Eliphaz (the first of Job’s friends to speak) wastes no time in offering an explanation, in fact, he starts with an edge of mockery. In Job 4:6 he says “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” And then in Job 5:17 he says “Blessed is the one whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” He has an edge of truth, yes, but he is applying the ‘if this ___ then this___ ‘ principal. He was plastering Job with the “keep it together” expectation. (I wouldn’t know anything about how that feels, you?)

Eliphaz didn’t know what he was talking about, in all honesty, I think he was uncomfortable with the lack of control in this whole ordeal. Job’s pile of ash really didn’t have anything to do with punishment or discipline. But we already know that. Job said in Chapter 3 verse 25 that what he had feared came true, what he dreaded happened. Remember how back in Chapter 1 he and his family would offer sacrifices to preserve their connection to God? I’m speculating a little, but I think Job feared loosing connection with Messiah more than he feared loosing stability, ability and security. He feared loosing God’s presence more than he feared loosing His blessing. The realities of his circumstances felt like God’s silence and that silence was far worse to him than death. Death would have at least ended this quiet torture.

I don’t know about you, but I am a creature of comfort. I like to be shiny and pretty for the comfort of others, it gives the illusion of control.

But in the struggle for present comfort its easy to miss the sound of His presence.

Throughout Job’s responses to the suffering and accusations, he has but one cry: for God to meet him. Job was crying out for an encounter. Nothing more, nothing less.

He, like ancient Israel, cried out for God’s presence. He longed for God to come and be with him in the storm. He wasn’t asking for easy street, He wasn’t seeking blessing. He just ached for the assurance of God’s presence.

Job reveals his heart: “Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose His hand and cut off my life! Then I would have the consolation — my joy in unrelenting pain — that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.” Job 6:8-10 Its as if Job is saying, “crush me God, I have not disowned or hidden You and I just want to know You are still here.”

Be it Mary in the midst of a census, clamoring over hills at the most inopportune time, giving birth in a barn with dung and hay and no midwife or be it Job painfully sitting the ashes of a crumbled life — encountering God has nothing to do with pretty circumstances. Perhaps God can be found in both the blessing and the suffering.

Regardless of the setting, Immanuel has come. God is in the storm, just as He is in the sunrise, and He has encounters prepared just for you. 

 

This post is part of a series, Embers. Here we are walking through the book of Job. All scriptures are quoted from the NIV or the NLT, links to BibleGateway.com.

Embers ~ The Dark Side of Holiness

Job 1.21

When tragedy strikes, you are left standing speechless, shaking, with no bearings in the rubble. But after the initial dust begins to settle, the wave of sorrow and mental anguish floods in like a Tsunami, words are swept out to sea. Pain so raw, darkness so deep, that to utter anything would be futile.

And so sat Job with his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

Can you imagine the sound of the weeping? Followed by the days of ticking silence? Maybe you can, and the memory of those sounds haunt you.

“When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:12-13

It only takes reading the first few words of Chapter 3 to hear the agony in Job’s voice. He is hurting in every sense of the word and this chapter is his outcry.

For the record though- when the word “cursed” appears in verse 1, it is a different Hebrew root word than that word used just 5 verses above. Job’s wife said “kneel to the circumstances” and die with the Hebrew word ‘Barek’ (Job 2:9). When Job breaks the silence with his friends, he says “qalal” which means, “despise”. In Job 3:1 Job despised the day of his birth….

He was grieving the loss of his children, servants, herds and home. He was writhing in intense pain and his soul cried out from the torment. He wanted relief, relief in the form of death. But he was not about to kill himself, nor was he going to denounce the sovereign Lord… he just ached for freedom from the pain. Who wouldn’t?

The trauma of the events had subsided and the wrestle of the aftermath had begun. Job did not sin by expressing his pain, He didn’t blame God for his suffering. He cried out for solace.

So often we think godliness looks like happiness and we shun ourselves, or others, when we are deeply and inelegantly grieving. When joy is hidden and gratitude goes silent we assume holiness is gone. Maybe it’s the darkness that also gives place for Glory to come?

Have you ever stopped to ponder that Jesus died and was buried in the tomb just before Sabbath and for three days there’s no discussion about what the disciples did, what Jesus’ spirit did, what God did? The skies had gone dark, the earth had quaked and all seemed lost. Joy and gratitude were silent.

It was Sabbath. The people worshiped during this holy day, a place and time set aside to honor God. It was also a day full of grieving. Grieving and worship, together. The pressing of pain to reveal glory.

Just because the ache of your heart is all consuming, the pain of life penetrating deep into your soul, doesn’t mean that God’s presence has abandoned you. God cannot dwell with sin, but He is not repulsed by pain.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

This post is part of a series, Embers. Here we are walking through the book of Job. All scriptures are quoted from the NIV or the NLT, links to BibleGateway.com.

I Remember…

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I remember the feel of his hand slipping off my back as I pedaled just a little faster than his jog for the first time. The wind taking a liking to my hair.

Thank you Lord, for the tangible love of a father that taught me to try.

I remember the smell of her banana bread wafting through the air as the clouds huddled outside. Her blend of zeal and intuition warming my soul whenever life grew cold.

Thank you Lord, for the tender love of a mother that gave me a place to become.

I remember climbing on the log outside the cabin, our first deep conversation that has yet to end. He may have stolen my spotlight with those blonde curls, but sharing my heart came easy.

Thank you Lord, for the persistent companionship of a brother that has taught me to love.

I remember laughing to the point our bladders nearly burst. Where laughing and talking and just being took time to warp speed.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me the art of friendship by giving me a best friend.

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I remember the long dark nights of heart ache. Hopelessness creeping in, tears seeping out. My understanding clouded by feeling, my breakthrough in the shadows just around the corner.

Thank you Lord, for allowing me the pain so I could truly appreciate the radiance in the morning dawn.

I remember the first sight of him. Stunning and handsome. My tongue-tied by heart flutters, my mind desperately trying to stop the fall into love.

Thank you Lord, for showing me what I didn’t need through all those empty promises so that I could recognize truth’s eyes when they locked with mine.

I remember the air leaving my lungs and the sound of time standing still at the brilliance of a diamond. The answer to decades of hidden prayers on public display.

Thank you Lord, for honoring the prayers of a little girl; holding them close to your chest in confidence until just the perfect moment. You were the only one I told, and you told only the one made just for me.

I remember the first time I felt his toes tickle my sides, life hidden in the depths of my being. A privilege to host the beginnings of something brand new.

Thank you Lord, for the miraculous, for the redemption, for heritage.

I remember the tears, the wondering, the encroaching feelings of fear. Wondering how we would make it with another mouth, so soon. The unexpected twist that pushed us in an unforeseen direction.

Thank you Lord, for the unknown gift of hope that is often found in the midst of struggle. She is a gift I never knew I always wanted.

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I remember the moment of promise. And I remember the moment the promise began to fade, hemorrhaging from my soul in a torrent of fast-moving moments. Death lurking far too close, just as life was about to begin.

Thank you Lord, for your steadfast sovereignty. Your promises are always Yes and Amen, and you are faithful, even in the rage of the storm.

Thank you Lord for this journey so many call life. Each moment, whether in darkness or in light, is a glorious gift from Your hand. For neither can exist without you.

I remember Your goodness O God. I remember.

“Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in Him!’”
Lamentations 3:21-24

 

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours. May this be a week of remembering, remembering with thankfulness. There will be one more installment of the Embers Series and then we’ll break for Christmas… but I am a nostalgic gal, so there might just be a few posts glittered with tinsel before the New Year. All my love to you, dear reader, I am eternally grateful to have you with me in this journey of faith.

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