A Mile Wide – A Book Review

“Our love of one another is the greatest measure of our faith.” (p189)

Brandon Hatmaker’s new book, A Mile Wide, is more than a call to a deeper faith – it’s an invitation into kingdom living.  It’s an invitation to live a life modeled after Jesus – filled with love, grace and mercy.

The book is broken into two parts: The Gospel In Us and The Gospel Through Us, each part including four chapters.  At the end of each chapter there are ten discussion questions, making this a fabulous book to use for Bible study, book club or even just to discuss with your family and friends.  This book is more than just a quick read filled with fun stories and interesting ideas – it is potentially life changing.  It will challenge you, encourage you, inspire you and teach you.

Brandon is a fabulous storyteller – down to earth and funny – and his stories will leave you longing for a more authentic and tangible faith.  The way that he sees people is inspiring.  As I read through this book I found myself talking back to the pages as though the author could hear me affirming his words or asking questions about things.  There were even a few times I read a paragraph and thought – man, that needs to be a whole book just for that one thought (such as the quote below in bold – I would LOVE to see an entire book on this concept).

The thoughts and ideas here are not new, but they are written in a way that might be more accessible to the average person.  There’s an easiness about this book that makes it hard to stop reading, but the words are so deep and profound that it’s necessary to stop every so often to really soak them in.  Humility and kindness drip from the pages in this book in a way that is extremely refreshing and comforting.  There are also some difficult topics here, though – loving others, showing mercy, seeing the needs around us.  Although the book is written in a very thoughtful tone, there is nothing surface-level about this book.  It’s a call to live like Jesus.  A call to authenticity, vulnerability and grace.  A call to a deeper, more meaningful faith.  It’s a beautiful book and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Favorite Quotables from A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker (I really want to just quote the entire book to you, but that would be a lot of typing):

“..our interpretive lens should always be love.  It’s like the legend on a map helping us set our course.  How then should we love?  Choose love.  Every time.” (p5)

“Jesus came to rip the scales off our religious eyes to show us the heart behind the letters.  He moves from judgment to grace and chose love over law and people over position.  His gospel was for all, his community was inclusive, his discipleship was holistic, his mission was eternal, and his kingdom was vast.  Everything about Jesus and his dream for us was bigger, wider, and deeper than we can imagine.” (p6)

“The true gospel has never appealed to the masses, nor did it ever try to.  Jesus didn’t want fans; he wanted followers.  Yes, this kingdom will save your whole life, but you have to lose the one you have first.  There is no resurrection without a death.” (p13)

“Nothing matters more than humility, teachability, and repentance, because the opposites – pride, arrogance, and obstinacy – make us blind and deaf to every goodness and truth in the kingdom.” (p14)

“True gospel community starts with true vulnerability.  It’s where we end and the gospel begins.” (p96)

“Every move toward humility is a conversion.  Killing pride involves a thousand daily deaths that are hard and hurt and will cost us something.  But every time we choose to reject the lie of bigger and instead choose little, we are more converted to the greatness of the kingdom.” (p126)

“Everywhere we look there is physical, spiritual, emotional and relational need.  If we don’t see it, we are either looking in the wrong places or we’re not really looking.” (p138)

“Missional people attempt to live lives that are attractive to those who have no context for church.  They earn their places in the lives of others.  Only then do they hold the moral authority or personal permission to speak truth into someone’s life.” (p141-142)  [*this is probably my favorite quote in the entire book]

“Loving mercy and walking humbly are inextricably linked with seeking justice.  Loving mercy is the key motivation to justice, and personal humility is almost always the end result.” (p155)

“God is just.  But his justice is expressed through his mercy.” (p164)



I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Made Well – Book Review

I read a lot of books.  Some of them I like, some I love and a precious few of them I NEED.  This is one of those books that I needed.  I didn’t even know I needed it until I started reading it.  Made Well, by Jenny Simmons, is like a soothing balm for hurting hearts.  It’s a healing book.  Jenny Simmons is a phenomenal writer whose words are filled with kindness and authenticity in such a beautiful way so that when you read them you feel like you’re already good friends.

About this time last year I read Jenny’s first book, The Road to Becoming, and it was one of my favorite books of the year.  I have been recommending it ever since!  Her latest book, Made Well, is equally meaningful.  In it, she shared personal stories of loss, grief and healing that touched my heart and made me cry.  In her stories, I hear my own stories of loss and grief – things I thought I’d moved past only to realize that moving past something and healing from it are two very different things.

There are so many layers to this book.  Being Made Well is not just about how we were created in the beginning, although that’s part of it.  This book is also about being re-created – about becoming well again after a period of hurt, pain, sickness, grief or shame.  Jesus asks us, “Do you want to be made well?”  Jenny points out that we have a choice.  We can choose to stay unwell or we can take the hand of the Great Healer and walk with Him into wholeness.  And there are so many ways to be healed.  Not just the mountain top moments that restore our souls, but the daily little things that can bring healing to our hearts if we’ll purposefully seek out and soak up those moments.

She talks about how to show up for others in their grief and how they will lead us in the best ways to love and serve them.  She talks about how healing takes time and there are no short cuts or roundabouts even though we all desperately wish that there were. Jenny also talks about how we need to make peace with our “broken bits” and how that looks different for each of us, just like grieving and healing look different for each of us.

As someone who has attended more funerals than the number of years I’ve been alive, I have more experience with loss and grief than I’d like to have.  And it always seems like it comes in waves, doesn’t it?  I suppose that’s grace too, though.  The crest of the wave is always followed by the trough.  There’s an up and down to it and the down is where the peace and healing come.  After the wave, after the thing that threatens to wipe you out, comes the calm waters of healing.  All of us need healing.  From past hurts, from loss, from the ache of a soul that has forgotten how beautiful and worthy it is – healing is for everyone.  If you want to find healing or wholeness, if you want to become well again or maybe even for the first time, I urge you to read Made Well, by Jenny Simmons.  While Jenny is A healer, she is not THE Healer.  But her words beautifully point towards the One who is.  You won’t regret a single page.

There are SO many “Quotables” in Made Well by Jenny Simmons, here are some of my very favorite ones:

“Healing happens all the time, even if a cure doesn’t.” (p24)

“Healing happens when we entrust ourselves to God’s care and become aware of the miraculous ways He is at work in our midst, binding the wounds.” (p32)

“What is most true about me is the image of God inside of me.  Imago Dei is my starting point and my finish line.  My birthmark, my DNA.” (p35)

“You were not created broken before you ever had a chance to become beautiful.” (p39)

“He bypasses my desire for cheap grace and quick fixes and does what He does best – He invites.  Jesus doesn’t assume the man wants to be made well – He knows some people prefer to stay sick.” (p57)

“Long before we are invited to be healed by God, we are invited to be loved by God.  The healing journey begins after we surrender to God’s love.  When we finally come to accept the fact that we are madly, deeply, fully known and enjoyed by our Creator God, we are set free to begin our journey toward wholeness.” (p59)

“Healing is not as complicated as we like to make it.  The steadfastness of our own hearts is enough to give us pause and mend us in tiny ways if we allow it to.” (p95)

“Good healers know that words aren’t always necessary and tears are okay.” (p104)


Disclaimer: I received a copy of Made Well from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


In the spirit of looking for healing in everyday things: some of my healing balms are music, snuggles with little ones, beautiful books by talented writers (like Made Well), chai tea lattes and Fall.  What are yours?


We Belong to Each Other

I have to admit that I’ve been really grumpy lately. Grumpy and sad. It seems like every day I hear about or read about some hugely controvertial event that everybody in the whole world is either entirely for or vehemently against. Story after story pops up on my Facebook feed – guns, gorillas, bathrooms, babies – and on and on it goes. Take a quick scroll through the comments of any of these news stories and you’ll feel like there is no end to what we will fight about. And everyone is an expert. On everything. Blech. So I’m grumpy. And weary. And ready for all the fighting to end.

But I’m not three. So I know better. The fighting will never end. It will continue on and on until Jesus returns and completes what He began at the manger.

In her book, Carry On Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton writes, “I love God, whoever he is, and I’d really like to get closer to him.  I’ve been thinking about how one of the simplest ways to get close to a woman is to be good  to her children.  To be kind and gentle and to pay close attention to the things that make them special.  To try to see her children the way she sees her children.  And how God made us in his image.  How he is the mother and father of all of us.  So I wonder if that would be the best way to get closer to him too.  By being kind and gentle to his children and noticing all of the things that make them special.  So many of us spend our time trying to find God in books, but maybe the simplest way to God is directly through the hearts of his children.”

Man, that’s good.

The best way to get to know the heart of an artist is to study his art.  The best way to understand the heart of an author is to study the books they’ve created.  The best way to understand a songwriter is to listen to the songs they’ve written.  So it would make sense that the best way to get to know the heart of the Father is to study his creation.  Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image.  In the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

I’ve recently been reading a book called The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper.  At the beginning of her fabulous book, she talks about what God meant when he said that his creation was “very good”.  She says this:

At the end of the sixth day, the writers declare, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good [tov me’od].  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

Tov is the Hebrew word for “good,” but the word does not refer only to the goodness of the object itself; it also refers to the ties between things.  In the Hebrew conception of the world, all of creation is connected.  The well-being of the whole depends on the well-being of each individual part.

– The Very Good Gospel, Lisa Sharon Harper, pg 30-31

Our connectedness is what makes us whole and healthy and “very good” in the eyes of our Creator.  This connectedness brings peace and love and happiness.  It helps us to remember our worthiness and our sense of belonging.  It helps us to remember that we are not the center of the universe, but rather an integral part of a beautiful whole that includes everyone.  When we remember that we’re connected no one gets left out or left behind.  Mother Teresa once said that “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  I believe this is THE reason that we can’t stop fighting.  We’ve forgotten that everyone belongs, everyone is worthy, everyone matters.  Not just me.  Not just you.  But everyone.

%22If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.%22

What if we lived as though everyone mattered?  The person in the car we just cut off, the lady in front of us in line at the grocery store who has eight bazillion coupons, the teenaged kid who is bullying other kids because he feels so worthless that he’s afraid someone else might think he’s worthless too, your kid’s teachers – who are doing the very best that they can, your pastor, your in-laws, your kids, your spouse – they all matter.  And everyone else that makes you mad, pushes your buttons, wastes your time or makes you feel rotten – they all matter too.  And so do you.  Not more than everyone else, but just as much.

Can you imagine how the world might change if we thought that way and then let that thinking influence our actions?  We might learn to seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood.  We might be able to look across the table and find common ground.  We might even turn our attention to more important things to fight against – like hunger, sex trafficking or racism.

“I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God.  I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On Warrior

Looking at each other as equals requires both humility AND confidence.  We can no longer see ourselves as less important, but we can’t see ourselves as more important either.  Everyone gets the same score on the scale of value.  We all make the cut.  In fact, we all hit the bullseye in terms of worth and value.  No one misses the mark.  

Once we understand all of that, we can learn to build bridges, cross divides and discover new common ground.  We may have to build that common ground, but once we see everyone as equally worthy we can begin to mend the hurt and create a new future together.  Sounds idealistic, and it is, but I also believe it’s the stuff of the Gospel.  Bridge-building, peace making, worthiness, grace, common ground – it’s the stuff of Jesus.  

by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you



They Were Christians – A Book Review

I read this book over a period of about three days.  It was just that good.  Like a mini history lesson combined with an inspirational sermon, They Were Christians by Cristobal Krusen was both motivating and informative.  It reads like a collection of short stories, each one standing on their own.  The author has such a talent for storytelling that I felt drawn into the lives of each of these people, but he also has obviously done extensive research on each of the subjects.  Including well known historical figures such as Frederick Douglass, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens as well as the lesser known Dag Hammarskjold, Jen-Henri Dunant and Chiune Sugihara this book truly serves to convince the reader that absolutely anyone can make a significant contribution to the world if only they will commit their lives and hearts to the cause of Christ.

I had just finished reading “Letters to a Birmingham Jail” before I read this book, so the account of Frederick Douglass was particularly moving to me, though ALL of the stories in this book were extremely well written and affected me deeply.

Each chapter begins and ends with the author’s own stories and thoughts on each of the men and women of faith.  His thoughts after the story of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. were particularly poignant and it was obvious that he was personally inspired by the story of Charles Dickens.

They Were Christians is filled with stories of regular people who faced enormous obstacles yet, with a foundation of faith in Christ, overcame those obstacles and went on to make an incredible impact on the world.  Stories of perseverance, faithfulness, love, kindness and sacrifice.  Stories like how Charles Dickens wrote out The Life of Our Lord specifically to teach his kids and grandkids about Jesus.  Or how John D. Rockefeller, Sr. gave away half of his fortune and started multiple schools, hospitals and churches all over the world.  Or how Florence Nightingale was willing to give up a life of luxury and excess to pursue her passion for taking care of the ill and suffering, ultimately pioneering a new standard in nursing and contributing greatly to the field of medicine as a whole.  It is impossible to read this book and not be inspired to stand up, step out and faithfully pursue your own God-given task in this world. 

Some of my favorite quotables from this book:

“Slowly the truth began to permeate Fyodor’s soul – all men are equally men; all men are made in the image of a loving God.  The goal of universal brotherhood is not to be attained by class warfare but by mutual love and forgiveness.” (chapter on Fyodor Dostoyevsky, pg 101)

From the chapter on Abraham Lincoln, regarding his thoughts about the Bible: “It seems to me that nothing short of infinite wisdom could by any possibility have devised and given to man this excellent and perfect moral code.  It is suited to men in all conditions of life, and includes all the duties they owe to their Creator, to themselves, and to their fellow man.” (p131)

From the chapter on Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur:

A quote from Louis Pasteur: “One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion?  One merely says: You suffer, that is enough for me.” (p145)

The author’s thoughts on Lister and Pasteur: “They were individually gifted by God and uniquely motivated by his Spirit to work for the common good.  All of us can be forever thankful for the tenacity they displayed, the discoveries they shared, and the indelible and life-changing contributions they made in this world.” (p160)


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Baker Books Bloggers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.





Two Things Have I Heard

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 62.  Here is a bit of it…

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (v 1-2)

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is fro Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.  On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (v 5-8)

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.” (v11-12)


The last part is my favorite. You, O God, are strong & You, O Lord, are loving. What a perfect combination. What if He was strong, but not loving? Think about it. What if He was loving, but not strong?  What a wonderful thing for us all that He is both! 

I am going to praise Him today because He is both strong AND loving. He is able to accomplish any task, to handle any situation, to take care of anything I need – and He loves me enough to do all of that. He will work everything out for good. He is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine – and I can trust that He will. Praise God!

My prayer for you this week, sweet friends, is that you will experience God’s mighty strength this week – that you would recognize that HE IS ABLE – and that you would also experience His mighty love – that you would feel how deeply you are loved by the God of all creation.

Love you guys,


I Can Learn to Pray – A Book Review


I Can Learn to Pray by Holly Hawkins Shivers is a phenomenal resource for families, churches and especially homeschools.  Besides the fact that it’s a beautiful hardcover book, it is filled with 52 weeks of devotions on the subject of prayer.

There are seven sections in the book covering topics such as how to pray, thankful prayers, sorry prayers, help prayers, and the prayers that Jesus prayed.  I absolutely love how even the language of the sections is geared towards kids (such as “I’m Sorry” prayers).  This sweet little devotional is filled with tons of ideas for kids to put what they’re learning throughout the book into practice (such as thanking God each day for a different person and sending them a note telling them they’re being prayed for – a wonderful idea for adults as well as kids!)

This book could easily be added into homeschooling curriculum by covering one devotional each week.  There are even little assignments within each devotional that are meaningful and easy to understand.  Although the suggested ages for this book is 4-8, the younger kids might need a little help.  I also think that my almost 10 year old would be thrilled with this book!

Holly Hawkins Shivers has also written another 52 week devotional for kids, I Can Learn the Bible, which looks just as wonderful as this one.

I highly recommend I Can Learn to Pray!  What a wonderful resource for families to learn about prayer together!
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.




Becoming in Worship


“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will [come] out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson was a pastor in a Christian church early in his life. He then lost his wife and began to pull away from the church. Eventually he spearheaded the Transcendental movement in the 19th century. I wonder at what point in his life he wrote this.

I have read this quote many times and each time I am struck by how exactly right it is.

We all worship something.

What we worship determines who we are.

I especially love the last line…what we are worshipping we are becoming.

I pray that is true of me.
I believe that is the true goal of

To become more like Christ.

If we are not becoming more like Christ …
we probably should be asking the question …

what are we really worshiping?