Reason for Reading

Books
Hello, from the other side. It has been awhile. The last time I posted was over a year ago, and much has happened in that year. I gained control of my depression, returned to college and saw great success in doing so, I moved into my first house in which I actually pay rent, and next semester I will officially be a senior in college.

A year ago I was fighting my toughest battle to date. I was living in a deep depression, the likes of which I had never experienced until that point. In my battle, I had become addicted to anti-anxiety medication, dealt with severe mood swings due in large part from my everchanging medication regimen, and was altogether not myself for almost six months. I was toying with the idea of transferring to UCCS so I could live at home. I was also considering not returning to college at all. However, in my time away from college, dealing with my depression, and growing in my faith, I found the one thing God put me on this earth to do: learn about and share literature with the world.

Now I know that it may seem strange to some that I believe God put me on this earth to learn and share literature with the world. Given the fact that literature deals with things that are often far from God’s Kingdom, that test the boundaries of the human mind, and might seem altogether secular in all facets, it might seem out of place. Yet, in my time away from school, dwelling on God’s word, living each moment in Him, because each moment seemed impossible otherwise, a particular longing within me persisted. This longing was to return to my coursework, stretching my mind to its limits, and I craved nothing more than to return to working with literature day in and day out.

So what does my love of learning about literature and sharing it with others have to do with my contribution to God’s Kingdom? To tell you the truth, I am not entirely sure, and I am praying for God to reveal it to me; however, I have a few ideas I am contemplating about the subject which I am going to now share.

  1. There is no better place to learn about the human condition, human nature, and the universality of human experience than in reading literature. Literature is a vessel through which ideas and facts of life travel. This includes human struggle, success, and experience as a whole. Literature has a way of teaching empathy, opening eyes, and changing beings in ways other forms of communication simply cannot. I see this fact a part of why God has called me to love it. I have read novels about characters who related to me at times when I felt completely alone. I have read novels which tell stories that reveal to me parts of the world I could never know in my own life experience. I am a notorious empath, and the fact is God has taught me to exercise this skill by reading to learn about the world. Literature allows me to relate to others on a level deeper and more genuinely than I could ever imagine.
  2. In the field of English, as I said, many have the perception that it is a secular profession. In many cases, this perception is accurate. Because of this, I see the field as an opportunity to share the light of Christ through my life. To be kind, genuine, and persevere in ways my colleagues have not seen before.
  3. The final idea I have on how my love of learning about and sharing literature plays into God’s Kingdom is the way my knowledge of Christianity and my experience with religion informs so much of the way I read. It allows me to read in a way those who do not know Christianity cannot, it gives me an opportunity to share such knowledge with others and keeps such knowledge in the forefront of my mind.

Overall, how does this affect this blog? Well, from here on out, I would like to focus more seriously on sharing my love of literature. Books are the love of my life, always clawing away at my brain, begging to be shared with the world, and this is the place I intend to do that.

There will be more coming soon: book reviews, recommendations, my ideas, more of my fiction writing, and also bits about my faith and my life. I hope you will join me as I pursue my calling.

-L.D.

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Laci Reads: September

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Welcome to Lace Reads: the monthly (hopefully) book club and book review segment on Composing Lace.

Let’s just get it out there, I am an absolute book worm.  Since I was little and my mom worked in the library of my elementary school I have been surrounded by books– I like to think I practically grew up in between the shelves. At some point I traded in the book covered shelves of an elementary school library, for books in every corner of my own life.  It is a rare occasion you will find a book absent from my purse or minus my iPad (yes I have given in to eBooks), or my night stand clear of a minimum number of five books stacked and waiting for late nights and early mornings.

I love everything there is about books: the pages, the smell, the way they can capture you and hold you, but most of all I love the words, and I mean I love the words. Among my many interests, chief among those is the way words manage to change the world.  To me one of the most intriguing thoughts is that of the cliché, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

With this being a fact of my life it is only natural that I would like to share this love with you.  The topics of the books I choose will vary, but most will focus on faith, life, and growth.  Some of the largest influences on my walk with Jesus have been books such as The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson, Not a Fan by Kyle Idlemen, and Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan (the women who actually introduced me to this month’s selection). Since words do mean so much to me, when I find books that are filled with truth and lead me to the truth of the Gospel, I grab on to them with all my might and heart.

Let’s also not forget the author of the best selling book of all time just happens to be the Creator of the Universe and the owner of my life. Therefore I can only believe that He has placed this love on my heart, calling me to dig deeper into His word and be lead to Truth through other’s words.

Now for this month’s selection, Uninvited: Living Loved when You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst.

When I first heard about this book, it was the day before it came out on Jess Connolly’s Instagram (one of the authors of my favorite book about faith mentioned above, Wild and Free).  Much like the first time I read the cover of Wild and Free I was immediately moved by the subtitle of Uninvited, “Living Loved when you feel less than, left out, and lonely”.  Those words ordered side-by-side rang a bell deep inside me, that beckoned me to get my hands on this book. Those adjectives “less than, left out, and lonely,” have been hallmarks of my life for as long as I can remember, and I was intrigued by the prospect of someone tackling them in a book, maybe I would finally have an answer for the hurt I have known for so long.  Uninvited did just that, but rather than containing the answer, it pointed me to the answer I have always known– true acceptance is found through Jesus.

Uninvited, tackles the topic of rejection and the way it can effect one’s personal image and expectations of others. Let me tell you, TerKeurst does a phenomenal job approaching such a difficult subject.  Her writing is filled with so many truths, so many women need to hear.  It is so easy, especially as a young woman to let the words “left out”, “less than”, and “lonely” define your life and the way you feel about yourself, as they have done to me for so long. TerKeurst approaches this subject with such ease, love, and truth that it is almost inevitable your thoughts will be redirected to the knowledge that she wants to share: that you are called to live loved, you are told you are enough, and you are not lonely if Jesus is the love and guide of your life.

One of the main points that TerKeurst stresses that I think defines this book, is the fact of not allowing ourselves to expect other people to heal us.  As I wrote in my post Caregiver that tendency has been something I have struggled with my entire life.  I want nothing more than for another human to care for me the way that I care for them, and when they don’t and life seems questionable, I question God’s goodness. However, TerKeurst provides an entire book about the way that human expectations and expectations of other humans, will always let us down. Unless we turn to God and His truth with all of our lives, we can never accurately assess God’s goodness and know true acceptance. The fact is, when we give him all of our lives, it is clear to see that He is always good and always faithful, even in rejection and hurt. That is what Jesus died for on the cross–that we may know God’s infinite love and acceptance.

“I couldn’t keep my old broken beliefs, nail a little Jesus truth to the side and expect stability. I knew I had to stop assessing God’s goodness by how my life felt at any given time.  Feelings are broken boards.  Only truth is solid, unchanging, and stable through and through.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited 

Uninvited points us to respond to God’s call for us to turn all of our past rejections over to Him, and acknowledge that He is at work and will be faithful to us through eternity.  He calls us to live loved, because we are, and to turn to Him in all moments of our lives, even the painful ones.  I pray for you dear reader, that this will not only be your truth, but mine–that we can live loved and comforted, knowing because of Jesus, in God we will always find acceptance

For more on this subject, I highly suggest picking up Uninvited for yourself, and be blessed by the truth it points to.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16

We are Called to be Wild and Free

Recently I was browsing the tumblr of one of my favorite people on social media, Hanna Olivia Way, and I came across a post from her Instagram with this quote attached to it,

“And the truth dear friends, is this: our standing has never wavered with our Father. Though the world has twisted what it means to be a daughter, His stance and His position toward us has absolutely stayed resolute. The world cannot dictate what it means to be treasured by our Father, but the love and relationship of our Heavenly Father can heal and transcend the damage done here on earth. The Creator of the universe didn’t just love and speak us into being, he also called us good – the same word He called the massive majestic oceans and the sun that lights our solar system and keeps us all sustained. He sent His son to make a way for us while we were still broken and sinful and sitting with our fingers in our ears, unwilling to hear truth. His Holy Spirit runs wild in our lives, guiding us, leading us, growing us, and groaning for us so we can genuinely be in community with Him. We mean the world to Him – not because we’re good or we’ve earned it, but because we are His treasure, the apple of His eye, the daughters He is coming back for.” 
Jess Connolly, Wild and Free
 
Incredibly moved by that beautiful passage, I immediately went to Google, and searched what this Wild and Free thing was.  When I found the book on Amazon, I was instantaneously inclined to hit the “purchase now” button when I read this sentence on the front cover, “A hope-filled anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and never enough.” When I read that, all I could think was UHHH Hello, that’s me. I was so excited to have this book in my hands.
Let me tell you dear friends, it has been a game changer since the moment I opened the next-day shipped envelope. 
       If you are new here (which you probably are, I am not consistent enough to have a true following) I would first like to introduce myself. My name is Laci, I am a nineteen year old college student, studying Secondary English Education, who lives in the most beautiful state of the fifty—Colorado, who loves to read, drink coffee (sometimes absurd amounts of tea), be in the mountains amongst pine trees, and to watch the rain.  But most importantly, I am a daughter of The Most High.  
          My spiritual journey has not been an easy one, but sanctification is not easy for anyone. In fact, up until six weeks ago, I had not picked up my bible in over three months. Each day, I am still growing in my relationship with Jesus and learning what it truly means to follow Him. Each day I am met with things that call me to examine and question myself, if I am truly living as Jesus has called me to.
          Though, I have been a Christian since the age of seven, when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I did not really understand what that meant until a year ago.  After going through the most difficult season of my life in my senior year of high school, I started college and I was diagnosed with anxiety and severe clinical depression that dated back to my sophomore year of high school.  It was a few months after that diagnosis when another book The Lipstick Gospel (my post about it is here) opened my eyes to how badly I needed Jesus.  After reading that book, I wept and sought Jesus with what I thought was all of my heart for about two months, but then my fire kind of dwindled.
          This has been a pattern in my life since my junior year of high school, when I first decided that I really wanted to start taking my faith seriously.  I get this fire in my heart to follow Jesus, and I do great for a few months, then I just stop.  I stop praying.  I stop doing my devotionals. I just stop.  I determine I will be fine going it alone, it will all be okay, but let me tell you—that NEVER happens. It is NEVER okay.  I ALWAYS come crawling back, sobbing to God on my bed at night begging He forgive me and take me back.
          However, it was not until I began reading Wild and Free, that I was prompted to truly examine these facts about myself and how I approached the title “follower of Jesus” that resides in my Instagram bio. It was then when I was truly called by the Holy Spirit to examine myself, that I realized, that was where my problem laid; before—my entire faith was based on “I” statements.  “I was going to make myself feel better by doing this.” “I was determined to follow Jesus.” And that is not what this faith is about. 
          The most beautiful element of this faith is that it means there is no longer an “I”, there is only Jesus.  There is no longer a struggle of having to make myself  determined to stay, there is only Jesus.
           Recently, my stepmother sent me the link to a sermon preached by an intern at her church.  His sermon was titled, “The Simplicity of Faith.”  While I listened, I was moved toward the end of the sermon, when he spoke the phrase, “This is a gospel of simple grace and simple faith.” 
          That is the point my friends, a truth that has been spoken to my heart so many times over the last two months or so, I cannot even count.  This is a simple gospel of simple faith.  This is a faith that the God of the Universe has handpicked you, loved you, called you good and at ease, sent His Son, who shed his blood for you all so you can stop saying “I” and be free of your worldly, sinful self.  You are washed clean, and you have been made a wild woman in God, who can call herself free not because of “I”, but because of him, Jesus. 
            If you are a woman who calls Jesus your savior, whether you are 19 or 95, I suggest you pick up Wild and Free.  I can hardly put into words this book’s ability to change lives.  You will be challenged, you will ache, you will have joy from its words, and I strongly encourage you to embrace that.  Embrace this truth that we receive from God’s word, embrace this message that echoes the truth of the gospel that authors Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have been called by the Father to share with women of all ages.  We are not called to be quiet, to be perfect, to have perfect bodies, or perfect houses, or perfect lives. 
We are called to live not by the rules of this world, but wild in the woman that God created us, by hand, to be and free in being the daughters who Jesus came to save.  

The Anthem of Wild and Free, Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

Big Magic and Saying Yes

Crisis.  That is the only way to describe what I have been feeling lately.  I have been desperately confused about my place in this world.  This is nothing new to me– I tend to have these at least once a year, but this one is coming at a time that is very difficult to see the outcome.  In the past when I have experienced these crises I have been sheltered, at home, under age, and reliant upon my mother to pick up my pieces and tell me everything is going to be okay.  Now as I am experiencing this, while my mom is a phone call away, I am legally a goddamn adult who has to make decisions on my own and she and the world are making sure I am aware of that.

Everyday has brought a new thing to worry about.  Am I at the right college? Am I pursuing the correct major? Am I so messed up I should just give up now? Am I ever going to be successful? Am I happy? These questions haunt my every waking hour anymore.  So, I finally realized that it was time to confront this crisis head on for the first time in my life, on my own.

I picked up the book, Big Magic, by the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert and my life has been forever changed.  Big Magic, is a self help guide, and I am not even going to hide that fact, despite my tendency to judge every person I see who reads a Chicken Soup for the Soul willingly. Big Magic, is a guide to embracing creative living and having the courage to accept inspiration as it comes.

I knew this book was going to change my life within the first five pages. Gilbert tells a story in the first chapter about poet Jack Gilbert (a man who would become a recluse and come out every ten years to slay the world with his poetry) who was a guest professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, when he spoke to a young woman who wanted to pursue her dream of being a writer.  He asked the woman this question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.” That last line, “The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes,” is one of the most meaningful lines I have ever encountered in all of my days.  I realized that all of these things that I worry about, could be solved if I just had the courage to dig within myself to uncover these treasures that can change my life.  Everything that I could need: my creativity, my hard work, the Holy Spirit, all dwell within me and are there for me to tap into at any given moment, to pursue all that I could ever need and want, to give me comfort in times of need and to make sense of this wild world.

The book goes on to speak on the power of creativity and inspiration, as Gilbert treats them as almost individual entities that are outside of your person, as things you must accept consciously or they will in fact pass you by.  Her candidness about life and inspiration is refreshing as she debunks the idea of having to be a sufferer in order to make beautiful art.

“My suffering takes this whole thrilling and gigantic universe and shrinks it down to the size of my own unhappy head.”

Big Magic, has inspired me to purse those things that I have always desired, it has inspired me to pursue them fearlessly, as I know there is a possibility, no, a likelihood that I will in fact fail, probably epically, but who the hell cares? If I am doing it because I love it and for no one else, then why not do it for the hell of it? Why not stick my neck out there and start writing fiction like I have always wanted, or pursuing photography more seriously, or blogging for heaven’s sake.  I am in this for me, for the possibility that those hidden treasures inside of me that have been hoping all my life that I would say yes, do hear me– I am saying yes.