what books are you reading?

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

I am reading a few different books at once right now. Do you ever do that? I find it helps keep me entertained and engaged to have multiple different genres.

The Dip by Seth Godin
This book is all about how to quit and quit well. Are you in a dip or a dead end? How do you use your resources well and not exert energy on things that won’t pay off in the end? Easy to read and highly insightful.

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Best friends since college, two young women work as animators in the male dominated field. They live a rough and tumble life style, and try to make it big without ruining their friendship or the relationships around them in the process.

The One and Only by Emily Giffin
This book hits close to home. It is about a woman who is obsessed with football in her small Texas college town (ahem, Baylor is that you??). She starts dating a football star but when a scandal breaks out, she starts to realized that her comfortable life may not be everything she thought…

I need recommendations for my upcoming travels. Give me all the tips!

P.s. photo by Thought Catalog

Hidden in Plain Sight

IMG_0503.JPGSince the time I started thinking about college around age sixteen, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of finding “God’s will for my life.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word vocation during my years in the christian community, and at my university in particular. In my mind, God’s will was this giant, life-altering thing that was up to me to decipher, and if I missed the mark, might as well just throw in the towel on the good life right now.

The thing is, up until a few weeks ago I wasn’t even allowed to legally drink alcohol in America, so how could I be trusted to discern God’s will for my entire life at age 21?! It seemed an impossible task for a flawed human like me. Couldn’t someone else just tell me what God wants for me?

Then when I arrived in Germany I started reading the book “Follow Me” by David Plath as part of my summer internship. Plath’s writing is filled with convicting, even radical, truths about the Christian life– truths moderns cultural Christianity often wishes it could just ignore. He writes:

“With good intentions, we try hard to use various methods to find God’s will. But what if God’s will was never intended to be found? In fact, what if it was never hidden from us in the first place? What is God the Father has not sent his children on a cosmic Easter egg hunt to discover his will while he sit back in heaven saying, ‘You’re getting colder…warmer…colder…’? And what if searching for God’s will like this actually misses the entire point of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?…God has a will, and he has made it clear. From cover to cover in the Bible, God wills is to redeem men and women from every nation, tribe, language, and people by his grace and from his glory.”

Lightbulb! It’s so simple, why didn’t I realize it sooner? God has no specific will for my life. Yes he created me with unique gifts and talents, but he also created me with a functioning brain and free will. We don’t have to ask God to reveal anything to us, he has already revealed his will for all of us. We just have to ask him to help us align our lives to his will. His will is not something intended to be found, but rather to be followed.

I no longer have to stay up at night nervously asking God, “Do you want me to live in Germany or America? Should I major in Creative Writing or Journalism? Should I date this person or wait for you to show me someone else?”

The holy spirit lives in us and is constantly in the process of shaping us to be more like Christ. Therefore, our decisions should naturally be coming ever more and more in line with Christ’s decisions and our lives organically looking more like his. When you are in constant relationship with Jesus, you experience total liberation, ease and delight knowing that if you make a wrong decision he will check you. And if he does check you, stop at once, reassess, and keep moving forward. To be able to do that is a sign of true spiritual maturity and friendship with God. And who doesn’t want that?

I hope this was somewhat interesting and helpful! I would highly recommend reading “Follow Me” if you get the chance. Have a good one friends.

 

 

On the Meaning of the Word ‘Genius’

IMG_8837.JPG    In Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear she describes her creative process and shares her perspective on the nature of inspiration. The whole book has been captivating thus far, but one part stood out to me in particular. Gilbert writes about the original definition of the word genius, and the way we use it differently today. She says:

“The Greeks and the Romans both believed in the idea of an external daemon of creativity- a sort of house elf, if you will, who lived within the walls of your home and sometimes aided you in your labors. The Romans had a specific term for that helpful house elf. They called it your genius- your guardian deity, the conduit of your inspiration. Which is to say, that the Romans didn’t believe an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believed that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.”

There is a subtle but meaningful difference between being versus having. Psychologically speaking, it makes all the difference. If you have an external genius, you are not totally responsible for your work. If it is a success, you are obliged to thank your genius for showing up to help, keeping your ego in check and protecting you from falling into the trap of narcissism. And if you your work is a failure, it’s not completely your fault. You can blame your genius for not showing up to work that day. You can say, “Hey, it’s not my fault my genius keeps irregular hours!” Either way, the fragile human psyche is protected– protected from the perversive influence of praise and the destructive influence of shame.

Why, then, did society start calling people geniuses? Gilbert explains that during the Renaissance, a more human-centered, rational view of life emerged, stripping the world of all unexplainable, intangible phenomena.  Artists were then venerated as geniuses themselves, elevated to a higher class of creators. They had to carefully balance atop their pedestals, and all too often came crashing down under the pressure.  Gilbert lists countless artists who cracked under the pressure of being a genius. One such example is Harper Lee, acclaimed author of the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird. She was so pinned under the heavy boulder of her own reputation that she never published another book during her life time, and only after death was the sequel Go Set A Watchman published. Just think of the many stories she could have gifted the world with if she hadn’t taken her genius so seriously.

Gilbert happens to have personal experience with this issue, her book Eat Pray Love having graced the New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years. She said people would ask her how she continued to write, as if her success was a curse, not a blessing. But she never stopped writing, because writing for her was about the love of creating, not the outcome. She believes her work is a gift from her genius to herself, and if others happen to enjoy it as well, great! If not, also great! Because in the end, it’s not up to her.

What do you think? Can we learn from Gilbert’s words? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! As an aspiring writer myself, I can glean a lot from her work as I prepare to enter the professional world. Have a great day friends!

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My Recent Reads

I’ve always been a voracious reader. In fact, my love of reading is what eventually lead to my love of writing. I enjoy all types of literature- fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, you name it! If reading was a sport, I’d win every time. Since my major requires me to take several english classes, I often have to read extensively for school work, but I also make a conscious effort to read for pleasure, no matter how busy life gets! Recently, I’ve read three books I thoroughly enjoyed, and I thought I’d share them with you today. 20910157.jpg
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler has been one of my idols ever since I started watching the TV series Parks and Recreation. In her hilarious and whip-smart memoir, she recounts her childhood in Massachusetts, her love affair with comedy, and her career in the public eye. I loved reading about her long time friendship with fellow improv comedian and actress Tina Fey, as well as her thoughts on working for SNL and the screenwriting profession as a whole. Amy emphasizes the themes of female empowerment, not comparing yourself to others, and putting in the hard work to get where you want to go. This book is a must read- plus it includes pictures!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey also recently released her memoir Bossypants. In this funny and insightful account of her life and career thus far, she shares about her experiences in the male dominated world of comedy and screenwriting, her thoughts on current culture, and her struggles as a new mother. Fey’s fast paced style and masterful story telling skills make for a quick and enjoyable read. This book also include photos- always a bonus!
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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I literally could not put this book down. It was glued to my hand. I’m pretty sure I read this 400+ page book in less than a week. It is the story of princess Kelsea’s rise to the thrown amidst the chaos of the dystopian world called The Tearling. It is set in the future, but The Tearling is technologically undeveloped, so it seems more like the primitive middle ages. The character development in this book is extremely well done- Kelsea is both likable and deeply flawed. It leaves the reader on a major cliff hanger, so be prepared to run out and buy the sequel!

And there you have it friends, a few of my recent reads! Will you read them too? What are you reading purely for fun these days? I’d love to know, I need recommendations.