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The One Book I Finished Last Week (well, actually all of last month!)

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Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

I took a hiatus from doing much of any book-reading and audiobook-listening while adjusting to life with two babies. And boy did I miss it! I’m excited to slowly be adding it back into my life… even if it’s just 10-15 minutes/day most days right now. I’m taking the, “Something is better than nothing” approach. 🙂

Last week, I did finish one book — and that felt like such a victory! Here’s my review…

Stay by Anjuli Paschall

I savored this book in bits and pieces over the last two months. It is a beautifully written memoir-like read. Each chapter can mostly stand alone and is more like individual essays.

In this period in our country with so much unrest, upheaval, and unknown, I thought it couldn’t be a more fitting read. The subtitle is Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking and the author encourages you to not only stay where you are planted and see the beauty there, but also to stay rooted in the truth of how much you are loved by God.

It is an engaging read and the author makes you feel like she’s walking alongside you and in the trenches, learning and growing with you. She’s honest, real, and raw.

Overall, I really loved the book and would recommend it. The only thing I think I would have loved is if the author would have fleshed out some of her stories more. I would have loved to hear even more details and more depth in many places. 🙂

The one other reservation I had with the book was her statement that her only purpose in life is be loved by God. I’m still mulling over that one, but I’m not sure that I fully agree. Although when I try to explain why I disagree, I struggle to put it into words. I’ve so long held to the catechism answer that says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Maybe the fruit of being loved by God is that we will dedicate our life to glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever? I’m not sure… like I said, this is something I’m still pondering. But I did want to mention it.

Verdict: 4 stars

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

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22 Comments

  • Tammy says:

    I have not read this book but wanted to encourage you – You are right for her purpose to not sit well. If her only purpose is to be loved by God, she is missing the entire point. She is already loved by God but must be unsure of this. Our purpose is to glorify God. Having a purpose of wanting to be loved by God seems to be an exhausting journey of always trying to prove herself, always trying to prove that she is worthy and lovable – a works oriented way to live. I know that you understand this as you have written on it over the years. I pray this woman can rest in God’s love for her, evidenced in Jesus’ death on the cross.

    • Jessica says:

      I love this response. Thanks for sharing that.

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi Tammy!

      Thank you for your response. Freedom comes when we know God loves us. It actually isn’t work, but freedom. I absolutely experience freedom in Christ. I think when the aim is to glorify God, it puts the work back on us. We have to DO something. This, to me, is exhausting. When I rest in God’s love for me, I actually am glorifying God. The best example of this is to consider my kids. When they know/experience my love for them, it brings me so much joy/glory. I don’t need them to try and glorify me. I receive the most joy when they know the freedom they have because they are loved. I hope that makes sense.

      • Tammy says:

        Anjuli,

        I have read and reread all of your responses here to all of our comments and I think, for me, the bottom line is that to have a purpose of “being loved by God” just sounds self centered to me, which is the opposite of glorifying God. My understanding of glorifying God is acknowledging his attributes, obeying his word, and telling others of these attributes, in hopes of leading others to salvation in Christ – simply because He alone deserves all glory. It is not about me.

        I think that is the overall problem I have with so so many Christian women authors, whether books or blogs, is the focus on self and emotions, which seem to lead to more focus on self and perpetuation of victimhood instead of focusing on Christ and the lessons we learn through our trials which are critical for our sanctification.

        As I said, I have not read your book and do not know you at all. I was only responding to Crystal’s comment about feeling torn over your stated purpose. I still feel that having a purpose of “being loved by God” is missing the point entirely. Perhaps we should agree to disagree. I can tell that you want to be understood and I am sorry if you feel attacked by our comments.

        • Anjuli says:

          Hi Tammy,

          Thank you for your comment. I appreciate your thoughts so much. I didn’t feel attacked. I think it is a good conversation for believers to be having.

          I do think that people can become self-centered and self-absorbed. I would never encourage women to live a life of being only self-focused. But we can’t miss God’s love for us. We can’t just skip over it. If we miss His love for us, we can easily turn things like the disciplines or glorifying God into a work of the flesh. We can do it out of our moral strength and by gritting our teeth. If we know the love God for us in our deepest places, from there, we can love God and others from a place of being loved.

          Perhaps my statement, “being loved by God is our purpose” might make more sense in context.

          I’d love to send you my book, Stay. Can you email me your address? I’d love to send you a copy in the mail.

          Thanks!

          • Tammy says:

            Anjuli,

            Thank you for your kind offer to send me your book. I understand your desire to convince me of your belief that our “purpose is to be loved by God”. However, after praying, considering, reading your book information on Amazon and reading your website, I am more convinced than ever that your writing is exactly what those of us that commented here were talking about. Many of your Amazon reviewers said the exact things that we commented on here. I have no desire to read your book. I simply do not agree with or believe that our “purpose is to be loved by God” and no context will make it truth anymore than trying to convince me that the moon is made of cheese. I believe it is a lie. As I said, before, as sisters in Christ, let us agree to disagree and move on.

  • Marie says:

    Oh, I was thinking the same thing as a Tammy…..if we can’t rest in the fact that God loves us then we will always be feeling that we are not good enough and I find it hard to believe thatGod wants us to feel that way. How do we know it? It’s in the little song we learned as babies because our mom sang it to us… Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

    • April DeBack says:

      Thank you for this.

      I felt a tug of sadness that I don’t sing an amazing hymn to my toddler but sing, Jesus Loves Me This I Know to her in her crib.

      You’ve encouraged and blessed me tonight. Thank you.

      • Monica says:

        I agree with Tammy. Nothing we do will merit the love of God. He loves us because he gave his Son as the propitiation for our sin and therefore we have the righteousness of Christ. Our purpose is not to seek his love but to seek to live in the Spirit and always be becoming more like him.

      • Cathy Dunlap says:

        My 3 year olds favorite song since she was about 18 months has been Jesus loves me. 🙂 She would insist I rock her and sing it to her every night before bed.

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi Marie,

      Can you help me understand what you mean? How does resting in God’s love for you make you feel not good enough? When you think about your spouse/best friend, knowing their love for you actually allows you to be free. You trust that they love you and it gives you security, peace, and joy. When we rest in God’s love it grows our faith and actually brings God glory. I’d love to continue the conversation. Thank you!

      • Marie says:

        We do rest in the fact that God loves us is what I‘m saying …we feel secure in that love. If a child doesn’t feel secure in their parents love for them, then they’re always doing things to try and gain that love so they feel secure…IF we already feel secure in Gods love…that does not become our purpose ( to be loved by God) but it is the knowledge that we do t have to do anything to gain this love. Our purpose with this knowledge is to know and share this love with others so they can experience the joy and security that we feel.

        • Anjuli says:

          Hi Marie,

          Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to get at. I like the way you said it. So often we skip over God loving us and move right to the doing part. In my book, I really try to emphasize that God loves us. If we miss this, we miss everything. Accepting God’s love for us is the starting line. Hopefully from there we can move towards God and others with the same kind of love. Thank for your thoughts. I appreciate that you took the time to respond.

  • Leanne says:

    This is my one hesitation with a lot of the “slow”, “savor”, “beauty seeking” themes I see in a lot of Christian women authors lately… I do believe God gave his creation for us to enjoy… however, He also gives it to point to Himself as the Creator (Romans 1:20)… I fear some of these “themes” detract from the Gospel message…our world desperately needs the GOSPEL… imparting the Gospel should not only be the highest priority…but one that doesn’t make us necessarily want to “slow down”, “be comfortable”, or “rest”… There are times when we need to take a step back… or to seek refreshment for the weary soul…but the Gospel should compel us to “run the race”… because our time is limited… I hope that makes sense! When I read one of these books…or various bloggers with the same theme, I think of Paul… Paul sold Himself completely out for Christ… He endured immeasurable suffering… He fought the good fight! That’s a message I think I would LOVE to see more Christian women authors share– keep fighting to the good fight (which I think you do incredibly well, Crystal!) <3

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi Leanne,

      Thanks for your comment. I think the Gospel is central. It is the most important thing. Jesus becoming man, dying for our sin, raising from the dead- this is everything. What is the point of the Gospel: T0 have relationship with Him. TO be united/reconciled to God. He is our Father. What does this actually look like? I think the point I am trying to make in the book is that so many of us make the Gospel about what we must DO for God. We skip over the “He loves us part.” Yet, by being loved, we are moved to DO. When we receive God’s love, we believe that we aren’t loved because we DO anything, but only because of God’s grace. Love, compels us to love. I’d love to continue the conversation. Thank you!

  • JoDi says:

    Without reading the book, it would be hard for me to know exactly what she means when she say her sole purpose is to be loved by God, but maybe it doesn’t sit right because it sounds passive. We weren’t created for the sole purpose of being the objects of God’s love. As the recipients of God’s love, we should be moved to action.
    “We love, because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19.
    “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13.
    “What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” – Micah 6:8.
    “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39.

    Love inspires action. Love moved God to create us. Love moved God to sacrifice his son in our behalf to save us. Love should move us to action as well. That action will be evident in how we live our lives, including the priorities we set and how we treat others.

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi JoDi!

      Thanks for engaging inthe conversation. I loved what you wrote. I don’t think we stop at God’s love for us. I believe that we start with receing God’s love and that love allows us to love others and Him in freedom. We don’t have to work to earn God’s love. We already have it. But if we miss understanding the depths of God’s love for us, we miss everything. If we miss His love, we will always be motivated by our flesh to prove ourselves worthy of God. God desires us to love from a pure heart and I think that primarily begins with our ability to embrace His love for us. Yes, action is important. But God wants action with pure motives. He wants the inside of the cup to be clean. I really appreciate your thoughts.

      • JoDi says:

        Hi Anjuli,
        Thank you so much for graciously responding to all of our comments and expanding on your thoughts about receiving God’s love. I think we all have a clearer understanding that you weren’t talking about passively receiving God’s love and then doing nothing with it. Accepting/understanding/appreciating God’s love comes first, and then our love for God moves us to action. I have observed this in practice when studying the Bible with people who begin to learn about God’s qualities and the depth of his love for them and are then moved by love and appreciation to make significant changes in their lives. Understanding the depth of God’s love for us is powerfully motivating!

    • Leanne says:

      Love this!

  • Judith Bradley says:

    Thankful for your book recommendations. They are very thoughtful and positive.
    Blessings,
    Judi B

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