Alright, first off, my apologies to my loyal readers for being an awful blogger over the last few weeks. As much as I love blogging, and keeping the world entertained by my thrilling life, I’ve been a tad bit preoccupied by the crazy wonderful things in life of which I would usually write about.
For example, in 30 days – yes, just one month – I will be marrying the love of my life and officially becoming his Mrs. B forever. As you might expect, due to our massive families, we are having quite the party to celebrate our union. So, please forgive me for choosing to fold wedding programs, fill mason jar wedding favors with goodies, tally RSVPs, try my very best to exercise each day, and obsessive-compulsively check our wedding registry instead of blog as faithfully as I should. I’m sorry.
But, I do love you enough to give you a recommendation list of worthwhile reads if the blog updates to Happy Where You’re Planted fail to satisfy your itch (as I’m sure they will).
I’ve spent the last couple weekends traveling across Indiana – to share in the wedding celebration of one of my sorority sisters, Mary (a stunning bride!), and to joyfully sit through the 2-hour Purdue graduation ceremony of my sister Kara (B.S., Biomedical Engineering) who took one giant leap for blondes everywhere as she stepped across the stage of Elliott Hall, graduating with distinction from one of the top programs in the country. Atta girl!
Lucky for me (and the other cars on the road), I got to ride in the passenger seat (and/or backseat) during the lovely 4+ hour car trips both weekends. And, since I have been blessed with a stable stomach that has never known motion-sickness, I took the opportunity to catch up on some reading.
Life has been a little dull since I finished The Hunger Games trilogy last month. I have genuinely feared that any fiction novel I read will leave me disappointed and unimpressed, so I haven’t attempted to start any new fiction books yet (recommendations, anyone?).
However, my true love when it comes to reading isn’t the “best-seller novels” section of the bookstore, anyway. Instead, it is the collection of shelves that – depending on your bookstore – are labeled “self-help” or “women’s interest” or “inspirational”. I prefer either of the latter.
When I did my most recent spontaneous book shopping at Lifeway Christian Bookstore (I came to find a gift for someone else, and left with three books for myself – typical), I first drifted to the section labeled “Marriage”. Oh boy, oh boy! With a ring on my finger, I felt it was acceptable to be searching through the titles, curiously reading the backs of the books with eye-catching titles like “Have a New Husband by Friday” [out of sheer curiosity only, obviously] and “Red Hot Monogamy” [I’m going back for this book later]. To my disappointment (and slight embarrassment), I realized I’ve read literally 50% of the selection in this category, including but not limited to the following titles:
- The Five Love Languages (classic)
- The Love Dare (life changing)
- Love and Respect (absolute truth)
- His Needs, Her Needs (I believe this is the book that was part of the Religious Ed teaching ultimatum I mentioned last week.)
- Things I’d Wish I’d Known before We Got Married (great for the newly engaged)
- For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men (eye-opening!)
- Boy Meets Girl (from the Author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, great read)
So what was left to purchase from this section? I bought this book.
Yep, not kidding. I sure did. And I made sure to tell the woman and the checkout counter that I was in fact getting married in five weeks. [Very smoothly, of course. She stumbled over pronouncing my last name – who doesn’t? – and I jumped at this God-given opportunity to say “Just a few more weeks with this last name for me!” Translation: “Please, don’t judge me for buying my first ever sex book!”]
So far, it’s been a good read. Highly recommended to all my “good girls” and “good girl wannabes” and even “bad girls with a good heart” out there. It’s about sex the way God intended instead of sex the way our culture has defined it. I might start frequenting the sex-section of the Christian book store more often. Once I have the wedding band…
I also bought this book.
Austin rolled his eyes when he saw it (not exactly the same reaction he had to the Good Girl’s Guide). I haven’t started it yet, and maybe I never will. [Yes, I’m one of those people with a stack of neglected books just waiting to be held and loved and have their words appreciated.]
But you have to come from a divorced family to appreciate a book with this title (obviously). Because even though this marriage thing might seem like a no-brainer to some people, I’m glad somebody wrote a book for people like me that – as much as they hate to admit it – really aren’t 100% sure they won’t screw it up. I don’t fear a lot of things, but that probably ranks #1 on my greatest fears list. Much higher than death, and even higher than losing-my-spouse-to-death-before-my-own-death. Mess-up-my-marriage is definitely number one.
After picking up these two books from the Marriage section, I was heading to the check-out counter, when a familiar title caught my eye over in the New Releases area.
Not A Fan.
Those outside of the Louisville area, and those inside the Louisville area but outside of the Mega-Church domain, might not understand the impact of those words. So let me explain.
“Not A Fan” began as sermon series at Southeast Christian Church (aka “Six Flags over Jesus”). Kyle Idleman, one of the preachers at this church, boldly stepped away from the comfortable “feel good” message that we hear too often in our churches (from the good-hearted pastors that genuinely want more people to come to and stay in church) and –finally- told his congregation what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. And challenged them to reconsider what they called themselves.
Turns out, it’s not the bumper sticker on your car that makes you a follower. It’s not the “religious views” section of your Facebook profile. It’s not how beautifully you can construct a prayer on the spot, or how quickly you can rattle off the Our Father during a Rosary. It’s not the positive, encouraging radio station you listen to. It’s not your political party. It’s not your worship-song ringtone. It’s not your family tradition or denomination or the private Christian school you attended growing up.
Jesus had a lot of fans, back in his day. And today, he has a lot of them as well. But how many of his fans – those who say “yep, I’m a Christian, see my cross necklace?” – really follow him in the way he instructs in the Scriptures?
Jesus’s teachings were hard. Radical. But he – the Son of God, our Savior – said to “…follow me”.
It’s the way of life that he calls us to (the “…” before “follow me”) that is the hard part. It is what separates the fans from followers. Because, history shows, Jesus doesn’t say “lead a comfortable life and follow me”. Or “everyone will like you, if you follow me”. Or “everything I ask you to do will make perfect sense, if you follow me”. Or “bad things won’t happen to you when you follow me.”
Quite the opposite.
I heard the sermon, which became a movement [ http://www.notafan.com ], online for the first time back in 2009 or 2010… sometime before Austin and I started dating. The message resonated such truth with me that I bought a “Not a Fan” T-shirt.
Further proof that I am still suffering from “fandom”.
Over the last few years, since I’ve left Southeast Christian Church for our current Catholic Church home [which is about 0.01% the size of Southeast], I’ve kept up with Kyle’s sermons – as well as Dave Stone’s, the other pastor.
The messages are Biblical truth. They resonate with the Holy Spirit. They almost always make me laugh at one point. Yet, they never fail to convict me in areas where I am dangerously comfortable in my sinful habits. And, they always bring me to Jesus. Isn’t that what Church is all about? All that to say that I highly, highly, highly recommend the Southeast Christian Church Podcasts.
I work out to them all the time. In fact, I got so wrapped up in a sermon last week that I ran 5 miles when I only planned on running 3. [“The Story Act 3: From Shepherd to King” basically restated my feelings from the blog post I had written the day before titled “How did I get here?”. And it had me thinking about some pretty interesting possible paths that God might be training me for right now.]
Anyway, if you read one book in the next four weeks as you wait patiently for me to blog about my Redneck Wedding…read Not a Fan.
You won’t regret it. It’s funny (Kyle has my kind of humor – clean, a little corny – the kind where you are rolling your eyes but smiling at the same time), but it’s also powerful. It will repaint the picture in your mind of what the Christian life should be.
And – if you aren’t a reader, or have no interest in buying a book – try listening to the sermons.
….I just spent about 30 minutes searching for the original sermon (which I thought was about a half hour of awesome teaching) online… nowhere to be found. However, since the release of the Not A Fan Sermon Series, which is being used across the country, there are 10-minute video clips on You Tube that are great as well! Just look up “Not a Fan” on YouTube and start watching. Kind of reminds me of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos we used to watch at Bible Study in college. [Oh, the memories… while you are at it look those up next!!!]
Here, I found my favorite Rob Bell video from my college years: Rain
Hopefully that will be enough to keep you entertained!
All my love,
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