Review of “Remember God” by Annie F. Downs

Should you stop reading here, just go ahead and order Annie F. Downs’ newest book.  I am a huge fan of Annie F. Downs as you can read in my reviews of her past two books (read more).  I love Annie’s works for her creativity, storytelling nature, sense of humor, admiration of Gilmore Girls, and love of glitter.

But this book.  I mean I wasn’t ready.

Knowing Annie, I knew I would love it.  I knew I would get caught up in her stories that are all too relatable then suddenly find myself wrecked by the profound truth she draws out of them.  I knew I would relate, but I never imagined the depths.

God, are you always kind?

This is the question Annie F. Downs whispers in her heart amidst an extremely dark season.  Interestingly enough, a very dark season that aligned perfectly with the timing of my deepest of griefs.  Remember God walks readers through Annie F. Downs journey of wrestling, questioning, and looking around to find God in the darkest of places, seeking with her whole heart to continue to believe that He is good and kind.

And oh is it honest.

“I’m tired of cliches that are just tweetable enough for me to feel like I can’t be sad about what I’m feeling.”

Amidst her journey of wrestling and darkness, she describes a battle with depression, disordered eating, and singleness with such rawness.

I was able to grab an early access audio version of Remember God, which Annie herself read.  And by read, I mean she wept through a majority of the pages, because this season of fighting to believe that God is kind, was just so real.

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And I get it.  I get it and I know it, and I lived it at the very same time Annie was.  The darkness and emptiness she describes, the wondering if you can even get out of bed the next day, is not a battle Annie faced that I read about, but a real journey of my own, speaking Jesus’ name in the darkness just hoping to believe His name somehow still has power, even when I had been really let down.

Remember God reaches into such darkness and so blessedly meets its readers there without any cliches of “choosing” to cling to any Truth or joy, but real and honest wrestling, hoping, believing, and remembering who He is and who He will be.


Thanks for stopping by!

dalton-31My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Review of “The Gospel Comes with a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield

If I am honest this might be the most torn I have ever been on a book review.  I was overjoyed to begin this read, having heard its title as a recommendation from another favorite author.  The title alone sparked my curiosity as I am so deeply passionate about discipleship through hospitality and the calling on our lives to love our neighbors through welcoming them.  Few things bring me more joy than the ability to welcome someone into my home and make them dinner when they are weathering a storm.  Because of this, most of the students I minister to know where I store my spare key.  Many times I have walked into my kitchen or living room to find them full of my people or with one or two asleep on the couch or taking a video interview in my bed.  I love every minute of hosting.  I honestly find creating a nourishing place for people sacred, even worshipful.

Thus, I began the journey of The Gospel Comes with a House Key eager to discover words I would soon have posted in calligraphy on my dining room walls.  The author Rosaria Butterfield’s life and story dramatically changed due to Christian hospitality.  Butterfield served as a college professor at a liberal arts university.  She was a noted advocated in the LGBTQ community as she identified as a lesbian herself.  I am making use of the past tense here as Butterfield’s life dramatically changed upon a couple who invited her into their home.  The hospitality was simple, a meal and conversation; yet, the sacredness, the specialness of someone seeing her, knowing her, and continuing to provide her a place where she was welcomed and loved, changed everything for Butterfield.  Upon experiencing such hospitality, the author came to know Jesus and her life dramatically changed.

Hospitality always includes heads, hands, hearts, messes, and weaknesses.

And I am here for how transformational hospitality can be.

I loved the ways Butterfield challenges believers to walk in obedience by loving their neighbors.  She offers a story in her own neighborhood when her family in North Carolina befriended the neighbor on the street everyone else simply whispered about.  They befriended this neighbor and assumed the best of him, despite each of their neighbor’s warnings that he was not to be trusted.  Upon forming a tight connection, this neighbor was arrested and removed from his home for cooking methamphetamine.

Following his arrest, Butterfield shared that she and her children continued to write this neighbor and his girlfriend.  They mailed packages and pray for them.  Despite his decisions and locations, they were determined to be a good neighbor.

The transition from stranger to neighbor  to family does not take place easily, but over grace, intent, grit, and sacrifice.  The hospitable develop thick skin.

Butterfield explains hospitality does not have to be complicated.  She emphasizes the simplicity of setting up a card table in the carport and placing paper plates in a stack in an effort to make strangers, neighbors and friends.  She explains that practically this includes budgeting for hospitality, purchasing extra groceries, and in her case owning multiple crock-pots (aka speaking my language).  Practicing what Butterfield terms “radically ordinary hospitality” includes making room to host a single friend following eye surgery on a living room couch by buying blackout curtains and filling her prescriptions.  Making room includes making space in her schedule to help pick up a neighbor’s child from soccer practice or feeding another neighbor’s dog.

Hospitality renders our houses hospitals and incubators.

Having been so touched and moved by Christian hospitality in her own story, Butterfield doubles down on the importance of welcoming one whose beliefs and ideas are foreign and making them feel welcomed and valued.  She preaches the importance of making room for someone’s perception and experience incredibly.

Do I have the grace to say little on a subject rather than everything possible?

Stop thinking of conversations with neighbors as hidden evangelical routes.

Have I made myself safe to share the real hardships of your daily living?  Even in a post-Christian world, we can still claim unearned privileges rooted in sentimentality for days gone by.

And if you have read up to this point, you may be thinking, I don’t think Emily Katherine is actually on the fence about this book. I think she actually loves it.

You see if I were Butterfield’s editor, The Gospel Comes with a House Key would have been shaped as the book I reviewed.  Yet, should you flip to the second or third page which list the publisher and editor, my name will not be found.  While I loved certain fruits in the forest of this book, many times I almost stopped and turned away due to the weeds.

When Rosaria Butterfield came to know God through Christian hospitality, her life radically transitioned.  She left her established career in academia along with her homosexual lifestyle.  She was soon married to a Reformed Presbyterian Minister and became a homeschooling mom.  She radically embraced “conservative Christianity” and often claims that title both for herself and her readers throughout the text.

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The author steps away from the topic of hospitality including lengthy discourses in topics such as gender, the Refugee crisis, politics, and church discipline.

Butterfield’s tone is so conservative- literally including the phrase “sacred patriarchy” that when she began sharing her story of her life before Christ I checked back multiple times to be sure she wasn’t sharing someone else’s story.  I was shocked to learn this pastor’s wife in suburban North Carolina who knits by her neighbor’s bed sides during surgery and bakes bread each Saturday for Communion on Sunday came from such a different lifestyle.

Thus, The Gospel Comes with a House Key is a challenging and compelling read, with sections and ideologies I would omit in order to reach a more relevant and diverse audience surrounding an important subject.

But these are my thoughts.  Comment below with yours!


Thanks for stopping by!

H8ULakjvMGHuOo5uritQ9Lrm0KZkxT0ncqFEIMOVNU0My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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17 Books I Read in 2017

I said it last year that I’m far too bold to make this an annual post, but here goes another year.

Things you should know:

  • Books are listed in alphabetical order by the title, not by any ranking because I’m bad at favorites.
  • I do not receive any endorsements, just occasionally free books that I review honestly.
  • If you would like to purchase the book described, click its picture and Amazon will open in a new tab.
  • Yes, I do have a life outside of reading books.

 


1.) Braving the Wilderness

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To read my review of Braving the Wilderness, click here.

2.) The Broken Way

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I enjoy Ann Voskamp and especially love to hear her in person.  This book includes some great nuggets and quotes about brokenness and identifying with the brokenness of Jesus.  If I’m honest, though, I find myself lost in her writing style and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

3.) Christians in an Age of Wealth

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I would have never chosen to read this book on my own volition, but read it to meet a requirement for my Christian ethics class.  Blomberg presented some interesting information on how many Christians do not give, not because they are unable, but because they have chosen a lifestyle that does not allow them to give generously.  He offered some practical steps to saving money both for individuals and churches, presenting modern giving statistics and how global poverty statistics could be offered if they Church is faithful to give.  This is quite a dry read, but good information if you are looking to learn more about this topic.

4.) How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk

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This eye catching title provides precisely what it says, practical insights as to how to avoid falling in love with a jerk.  Dr. Van Epp works with the US Armed Forces providing seminars presenting his research in how relationships should healthily progress and signs of personality traits to avoid.  This is a very practical read that is based primarily on psychological research.

5.) Hurt

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This book provides good information and insight for all who work with or interact with teenagers.  Clark illuminates many of the hidden battles teenagers face.  While this book is beneficial, it is also 7 years old and the majority of the information presented is dated.

6.) The Inner Voice of Love

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This might be one of my favorite books I’ve ever read.  Nouwen, renowned theologian, faces the greatest challenge of his faith.  He journeys to a monastery where he openly and rawly journals his innermost thoughts in the pit of darkness, slowly inching back toward believing and accepting the love, grace, and friendship of God.  He never intended for this work to be published.  It is extremely honest and I wept through most of it.

7.) Love Lives Here

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To read my review of Love Lives Here, click here.

8.) Men, Women, and Worthiness

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I have yet to find this in print, only in audio.  Read my review here.

9.) Of Mess and Moxie

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I love Jen Hatmaker both for her honesty and out of jealousy of her friendship with Brené Brown.  I admire her bravery to speak up for the marginalized and oppressed and was excited for this read.  I have so enjoyed certain parts of it.  I listened on Audible and was deeply touched to hear Jen weeping as she read certain chapters.  If I’m honest, though, I stopped listening sometimes because of exaggerated mom humor.  While I serve as a “bonus mom” for so many as this book describes, I found myself not thinking many Mom jokes were funny and maybe its my own “junk”, but joking about Mom’s needing to neglect their children just strikes a deep and painful chord.  This book has some great nuggets.  Great ones.  But I struggled through it.

10.) Out of Sorts

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To read my review of Out of Sorts, click here.

11.) Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

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While I do raise many children, I am not biologically a parent; yet, took away some great insights from Dr. Gottman’s work.  He describes how parents can interact with their children when they are afraid or pitching a fit by “emotionally coaching” or helping them to name the emotion they are experiencing and walk them through an appropriate response.  I LOVE THIS!  I hear so many parents or grandparents in stores or restaurants just telling their child to “shut up” or “suck it up”, then none of those parents understand why we need counseling.  What I especially love about this book is while offering this incredible approach to raising littles, Dr. Gottman is practical about when behavior simply needs to be disciplined and how to respond when you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to properly “coach”.  If you have little people in your life, read this.  Naming and appropriately responding to emotions is the absolute best way you can prepare your child for adulthood.

12.) The Road Back to You

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It seems 2017 was “the year of the enneagram” in contemporary Christian culture (by that I mean modern, not like Michael W. Smith).  As an enneagram junkie, I have loved every last minute of it.  This book by Ian Cron is my favorite resource on the Enneagram.  Cron does an incredible job of concisely describing each enneagram profile, but most importantly unpacks how the believer should use the enneagram as a tool.  This is what sets the enneagram apart from most other personality profiles.  Rather than describing you, the enneagram is a tool both for understanding others and for overcoming the “mask” you have worn to survive.  The Road Back to You hands its readers large paving stones to create the road to wake up and toward becoming your most real, unfiltered self.

13.) Sacred Marriage

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Sacred Marriage is a common resource provided to believers who are about to enter the covenant of marriage.  While this context makes total sense, I felt as a single person, Sacred Marriage also had a great deal of insight to offer.  Gary Thomas’ thesis of this work is “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  This book debunks many false understandings of marriage and the purpose of marriage, many of which are created and perpetuated by Church culture.  He was honest about the difficulty of marriage, while also illuminating its sacredness.  I think this is a beneficial read in any stage of life.

14.) Soul Virginssoul virgins

I read Soul Virgins as a resource for a seminary class and went into it with great expectations.  Single sexuality for the believer is almost never touched, while the average number of years between the onset of puberty and marriage increase.  I was highly interested in this read, primarily as I work with college students.  This may be a good resource, but I think my expectations were too high.  I was thankful the authors addressed this topic, but stayed too broad to have any true impact or voice on the topic.  Also, this book is a little dated.  The alphabet worked highly in my favor because the book I would recommend over this one in this subject area is next.

15.) Swipe Right

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To read my review of Swipe Right, click here.

16.) Unseen

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My small group of post graduate girls studied this book together this Fall semester and I absolutely loved it.  Unseen reads very personally and intimately, like most Christian living and would be a great solo read, along with a read for a group.  I felt met and seen by Sara Hagerty in the most beautiful ways on these pages, have recommended it to many college students I mentor, and will be closely on the lookout for any reads from her in the future.  I would recommend this book for anyone who feels forgotten and overlooked, for anyone in a difficult season, or for anyone interested in meeting God more intimately.

17.) You are Free

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I know I fan girl over my Christian authors I love and I am not ashamed.  I am such a fan of Rebekah Lyons.  This girl is honest, fun, and when I saw her speak had incredible taste in shoes.  I loved You are Free and needed it in all of the best ways.  I greatly appreciated Rebekah’s honesty in talking about learning their precious first born would have Downs Syndrome.  Her word choice throughout the book challenged me to expand my vocabulary.  But most central, the message of this book empowered me to walk in the confidence of my Father in a season where every foundation beneath me felt shattered.  Read it, okay.


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Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.