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Review of “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen

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If you follow me on Twitter, you know all too well that I absolutely loved reading through Nothing to Prove.  I am such a believer in Jennie Allen and behind the ministry of IF seeking to multiply disciple-makers.

Jennie’s story of feeling so unworthy and incapable facing a growing ministry refreshed my soul.  As she named fears and lies, I was able to name many of my own, both in ministry and as an individual.  That nagging, stabbing lie that knows precisely when to whisper and when to shout beneath all of our performance, “You are not enough.”

“If I were your enemy, I would intoxicate you with the mission of God rather than God himself.”


“Fear speaks a dark lie over our lives, over who we think we are.”

I listened to Nothing to Prove on Audible, treasuring hearing Jennie read her words aloud with her own inflection and tone.  As a southern girl, I felt so comfortable hearing Jennie’s southern accent come through.  Listening to her read each page felt like having coffee with a friend or mentor.

In the pages of Nothing to Prove, Jennie Allen reframes stories of Scripture, telling them as personal accounts.  She tells the story of Jesus turning water to wine through the eyes of the bride and groom.  She tells the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper through the eyes of Peter.  Each and every first person narrative she created moved me to chills and tears.  Each story transitioned in my heart and mind from stories I had heard and taught on to stories that took on humanity, frailty, and so much similarity to my own fears and struggles.

“Jesus wasn’t there for Mary and Martha to prove their faith to Him.  He was there to prove His love for them.”

Nothing to Prove is an incredible read that I put off finishing because I really never wanted it to end.  Each chapter ends with discussion questions that would be great for a small group or Bible Study to walk through together.

“You will watch God do incredible miracles if you stop looking side to side.  In quietness and trust shall be your strength.”

Jennie shared so bravely about many painful parts of her story, facing an eating disorder, wrestling with showing up as a pastor’s wife, walking with her sister through a divorce, and I was so thankful to be met by her humanity, authenticity, and struggle, rather than another read of why I should be more and do more.  I walked away from this book feeling less challenged and more like I had gained a new friend, while reframing my view of Jesus and all that He’s called me to.


Thanks for stopping by! H8ULakjvMGHuOo5uritQ9Lrm0KZkxT0ncqFEIMOVNU0

My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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Review of And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick

still she laughs

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I tend to find out about books to read through other author’s recommendations via Instagram or Twitter, but I found this read quite nostalgically.  I was in a strange period of time in my life when I was between books without a queue.  That feels strange to even describe as I now have a stack of at least 20 (no joke).  I channelled my inner Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail and went into a bookstore.  I walked down the aisle and this book caught my eye.  Though familiar with the publisher, I had not heard of the book or its author.  It felt strange to hold a book in my hands rather than read reviews on Amazon.  I remembered lessons from my elementary school librarian and read the back cover and flipped through a few pages.  I was sold and I’m so glad I was.


We all have a story.  We all have tragedies and losses and heartaches and miracles and real life, and while so much of life is glorious, sometimes it gets ugly.  No one is exempt.  We share in this thing called humanity, and I want us to feel– really face head-on– the reality of life with all its pimples and less attractive bits.  I believe it makes the joy more vibrant, the laughter louder and stronger.  So bear with me, cry with me, but please, please, laugh with me.

In this work, Kate Merrick shares about the difficult journey her family faced through her daughter Daisy’s cancer, ultimately ending in Daisy passing away.  She describes the ups and downs of Daisy’s cancer, when she and her husband felt hopeful and hopeless, when she was angry that these were the cards they had been dealt, and when she would lay in bed and hold every precious minute she had with Daisy.

While this read is heart wrenching at times, I was so blessed by Kate’s metaphors for grief.  She described the phenomenon so well and so honestly, even naming some facets of grief I had yet been able to put words to.  She talks honestly and openly about meeting God in the depths of doubt, hurt, pain and bitterness.

Nearness to God results in a banquet of peace beyond understanding, with a heaping side of joy.

Merrick connects her own story and struggle to many women in Scripture who were similarly handed unfortunate cards.  She bravely challenges her readers to move at their own pace, but to keep moving.  To keep pushing on and pushing away the barriers to return to the sweetness and intimacy of God.

If broken Bathsheba can say in Proverbs 31 that an excellent woman laughs at the future, so can I.  If Sarah laughs at the newborn manifestation of the promises of the Lord, then I will too.  Grief is real.  It is intense.  But what is more real, what is more intense, what is eternal is the hope of Christ, the drying of tears, the new heaven and new earth, the final conquering of death.

Through some of the most broken experiences of her life, Kate Merrick nudges readers of And Still She Laughs to shift their perspective from defining God through our circumstances to defining Him through His Word and proven character.  She holds the sacredness of grief and the depths of suffering she has faced, but walks with bravery and honesty into the truth of Scripture that provides the hope with which broken bones can rejoice.


Cwo_36H90YyZDh57ZRc3-wLpbFUXDKAFpDqTD3rIdhQThanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

When you don’t want to open your Bible

This was a message I got to share to the students in the WinShape College Program at Berry College in Rome, GA where I am on college ministry staff.  Our focus this year has been on “A Word Centered Life”.  Here is my story on struggling to have one for the past year.

Books quoted: ESV BibleWhen I don’t desire GodHaving a Mary heart in a Martha worldShe Reads Truth: Open your Bible, and Love Does.

“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.