Review of “Anchored” by Kayla Aimee

So I know the golden rule of reading books is to “not judge a book by its cover”. But can we talk about how cute this book is?  I loved everything about the design of this book, especially the font choices!

Anchored

As for the content, I loved diving (This is the last nautical pun I will use here, promise.) into her story about her journey with her very premature daughter, Scarlette through countless nights in the NICU and beyond.  I was able to really step foot into her journey as I am mentored by a mom with a very similar story.  As I read about the difficulties of eye surgery and the extended hours of skin to skin contact, I remembered praying my friend Jessica and her baby Noelle through the same journey.

“Because sometimes community isn’t a grand gesture.  Sometimes community is the simple act of filling an empty seat.” -Kayla Aimee, Anchored, page 91

Kayla’s subtitle is “finding hope in the unexpected”.  I was drawn to this title first of all, because my friend Jessica recently shared about her journey with Noelle and titled it “the blessed whatever” about choosing joy in whatever circumstances life hands you.  And secondly because, I’ve been learning and praying a good deal recently about the role of expectations and what we do with the space between what we expected and what God provides.  This space where so much doubt and anger and frustration is created.  I went into this book looking for an exposition on the answers that Kayla found in this sanctifying journey.  Instead, I simply found her story.

But how profound a story is.

“We leave our mark on this world no matter how small our stories seem.” -Kayla Aimee, Anchored, page 89

And I think that this is something we miss in our world of TED talks and blogs and BuzzFeed articles.  We have unlimited media and messages coming our way and too few stories.  I closed the back cover of Anchored with less underlined sentences of tweetable quotes than any nonfiction I’ve picked up in a long time (except for textbooks for class, that is).  Instead, I closed the back cover of this book refreshed by the rawness of Kayla’s story.  I drove back to school from Thanksgiving break today with space for God to be able to make connections from Kayla’s story to my own.

Kayla’s story is beautiful and I pray Scarlette grows up to be half as funny, beautiful, and brave as her mama.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” -William Shedd

“We’re moving.”

These are probably the two scariest words a 10-year-old girl can hear.  (Maybe it’s three, depending on how you count contractions.)  I knew it was something that had to happen.  I knew it was good and right but everything about it felt bad and wrong.  What about my school I had been in since K4?  What about my church I had been going to since birth?  What about my house I’d lived in as long as I could remember with grandparents and cousins just around the corner?

As I wrote the date today, November 11, 2015.  It took me back to November 11, 2005, the day my family left the only life we had ever known and moved to start completely fresh in a completely new and a completely unfamiliar place.  I was terrified, sad, afraid, and nervous. I remember the goodbyes that seemed like they would never end in the week that preceded.  I remember that 4-hour car ride, holding my pet fish in its bowl in my lap.  I remember bursting into tears once we got there and my Aunt Kristi was trying to help me get my room set up.  I wasn’t ready for it to be real.  I wasn’t ready to leave behind everything I had ever known.

I remember the first day of school.  The emptiness of introducing myself and starting at square one after having just left my friends from birth.  I remember the sweet teacher that sat by me in Sunday school when none of the other girls did.  I remember crying and asking my parents if we could go back.


What I see now as I look back on that day 10 years ago is the beginning of a beautiful journey God had planned for my family.  Apart from everything we ever knew, we grew closer to one another and so much closer to Him.  I found a school with so many more opportunities and a church where I was invested in, discipled, and eventually called to ministry.

Though the season was painful, confusing, and at times really hard, 10 years later I couldn’t be more thankful because I know I would not be where I am or who I am if not for that transition.


Recently, a friend and I were shopping in a bookstore and stumbled across this quote.  We took a photo of it because it was kind of like when you read something or hear a song and know that it resonates with you so deeply you can’t even completely process it in that moment.

“It must happen to us all.. We pack up what we’ve learned so far and leave the familiar behind.  No fun, that shearing separation, but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only true security we’ll ever know.”

 No, that separation is not fun at all.  And I still feel it in a whole new transition.

This past week, I was probably the most sick I have been since moving away from home and embarking on this weird journey we call adulthood.  And when I say sick I mean, couldn’t get out of bed or eat for 4 days, SICK.  I called my mom in the parking lot of the doctor’s office and told her what the doctor said and held it together then cried.  A lot.  I didn’t have the energy to go buy groceries to be prepared to be in bed for days.  I didn’t have the strength to carry them up to my room.  I didn’t have the effort to do laundry, despite having no clean clothes.  NO FUN.  AT ALL.

But it led me to be so appreciative of the people around me that stepped in and cared for me.  It initiated remembering and cherishing all of the times my mom cared for me so well when I was sick.


And I think that in the same way my family said, “We’re moving” and my world was rocked, sometimes God steps in and says, “I’m moving” and everything is completely shaken.  He calls us higher and deeper and to new journeys, sometimes for the sake of what He’s calling us to and sometimes just to know Him more in the process.

And I am all too tempted to look at stories of God moving in scripture and have the 10 year perspective just like my family’s move.  I dwell on the benefit of the transition and forget the painful struggle in the midst.

Like when Ruth had to adjust to a new life without her husband and move to a whole new place with Naomi.  Like when Abraham had to leave his village.  Like when Esther had to leave her family to live in the king’s palace.  Like when Miriam had to put Moses in that basket.  Like when Jonah had to board that ship to not Nineveh.

These transitions are painful and confusing.  They make us question everything we’ve known.

“..but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only true security we’ll ever know

  “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

 The Lord has incredible journeys for you and I to embark upon.  But often, the transition, the first step, the first time we have to choose to be brave is really  really scary.  But we were not given a spirit of fear.  And when we do step into His plan, though scary at first, He is faithful to bring the only true security we’ll ever know.

So I am learning to let Him move.  To lean into painful seasons of transition and know that He is faithful and the He works all things together for good.  And amidst all of this I am learning to be brave and that really what that means is having faith that God can be God.  Because when He moves, I want to go.

“Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer

“Prayer helps us stay focused on bigger things, on much more eternal things than the petty stuff that threatens to puff itself up beyond actual size and become some huge deal it doesn’t deserve to be.  In prayer we experience the kind of hard-fought peace that unites us into an army of soldiers for Christ.”

Fervent

The idea of prayer can be overwhelming.  I think any time I’m given a task with very few parameters and simply told to do it constantly, I feel overwhelmed.  Often overwhelmed to the point I don’t know where to start.  And I think prayer finds a lot of us in that same paralyzed position, wondering how we can find the right words to say, order to go in, requests to make, sins to repent of, etc.

Priscilla Shirer shares in the intro to “Fervent” that her hope is this resource is torn apart, taped together, has coffee spilled on it, and tears in the margins and I think that it is made for just that.  In zeroing in on prayer, Priscilla focuses on the many schemes and strategies of the enemy and how we can use prayer as a tool to combat him.

I love that she started each chapter with “If I were your enemy” because I think we all too often complicate his schemes and strategies, when really they are all too simple.  She journeyed through topics as broad as our thought life to our social life to our pasts that keep coming back up, but what I found so incredible is just how simple all of the information seemed to be.  Though I was walking through content on how to literally go to war in the heavenly realms for my purity, my faith, my church, my family, etc. I never once felt inadequate in my knowledge or understanding.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who the enemy is up against, and I’m here to tell you that’s you.  This book is created for women, but I believe men could benefit just as well.  I recommend that you read with a pen in hand, ready to underline lots of good insights and applicable takeaways.