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Review of Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

love lives here

I read Love Does a couple years ago and very quickly fell in love with Bob’s writing style.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover Maria employs the same style, sharing a story and example and tying it to a deeply profound truth that resonates deeper than you realize in the moment.

Since reading Love Does, I’ve found myself telling the stories Bob shared in lessons I teach and conversations I have.  I have already found myself doing the same with Maria’s stories and examples of Love Lives Here.

I think the best way to explain Maria’s focus of “Finding what you need in a world telling you what you want” is in a metaphor she uses.  Bob is known for bringing balloons to events all over the world.  He is a big, audacious, whimsical personality that I was shocked to find also works as an attorney.  Maria shared that whenever they go places Bob brings balloons and she brings string.  Maria does not similarly share of huge, crazy adventures.  Instead, she shares of loving her neighbors, friends, and family really well.  Maria talks about crafting a home where everyone who enters senses and feels the home and safety she has found in Christ.

“His plan from the beginning of time was that love wouldn’t be traded among the noises in our lives; it would be understood in the places of peace.  Sometimes when we’re asking Him for an answer, He sends a friend.”

Over the first few pages I found myself writing hearts all over the margins, underlining, and writing the phrase “DON’T SKIP THIS” before the foreword and introduction.

“Faith doesn’t eliminate fears in my life; it lets me know I had someone I could bring them to.”

Maria also offers great insight into walking into your own story and scars in order to truly love people well.

“What I’m learning is that the good news of our faith isn’t found in avoiding the pain, but in living through the loss, walking through the ashes, and stacking back up what we know could burn down again.”


“Preparing soil that someone can grow in is hard work, but it’s not all the work.  Preparing your own soil is where the most important tilling is done.”

As I read this book, I quickly began making a list of person after person to give this book to that I love in my life.  So if you’re reading this, go ahead and click here to purchase Love Lives Here.

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.

15 books I read in 2015

So I am not really a reader.  It feels really weird for me to review books or to recommend them.  But for those of you who are and are much more faithful to read books even when you aren’t forced to, here are 15 books I read this past year!

(All titles are links to purchase the books on Amazon.  Books sorted in alphabetic order.)

  1. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected ; Kayla Aimee
    Find my review of Anchored here.Anchored
  2. Cinderella Ate My Daughter ; Peggy Orenstein
    I will admit, I had to read this for a class or probably never would have unless I somehow came across the sparkly cover.  There were parts of this book I hated and a few when I was really discouraged, but seeing this book through the eyes of a mom who  is concerned about the world her daughter is growing up in is so beneficial.  Great book for anyone interested in thinking about “girlhood” in a new light. Cinderella Ate my daughter
  3. Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer ; Priscilla Shirer

    Find my review of Fervent here.
    Fervent

  4. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls–Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins ; Leonard Sax
    This book also falls into the category of books I had to read for class, but I am so thankful I did.  Dr. Sax writes this book both for parents and for any helping professionals who work with girls (e.g. teachers, pastors, counselors, etc.).  What I love about this book is that Dr. Sax not only elaborates on problems in girl world, he also offers solutions.
    girls on the edge
  5. Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have; Annie Downs
    (Taken from my RESOURCES page)
    So I kind of had a girl crush on Annie when I listened to a sermon by her on singleness and found her at a conference in Nashville, TN. We talked about nail polish and she was super cool so I bought her book.  I am not the type to read a book all the way through in anything shorter than a couple years (if I ever finish), but I read this one in a month.  I felt like I was sitting and having coffee with Annie throughout every chapter.  It’s great. Read it.
    LABB
  6. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World ; Bob Goff
    Where do I begin? I had this book for a long time and knew I needed to read it then finally did and I only wished I had read it sooner.  Bob Goff’s story is so cool, but hearing the lessons that he has learned throughout his life was both fun and inspiring.  Just read it, okay?
    Love Does
  7. Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus ; Tindell Baldwin
    I’ll admit, I was skeptical about this one, as I am about any thing with the subtitle “Boys, Booze, and Jesus”.  Tindell Baldwin is Kristian Stanfill’s (Vocalist and Guitarist, Passion Band) sister, who had a hard time growing up in his shadow or her family’s shadow in general.  In this book, she shares her experience of choosing boys, choosing booze, and eventually choosing Jesus.  We used this book for my high school girls’ small group and while they weren’t the best about reading it (surprise, surprise ;), Tindell’s vulnerability in this book lead to great and authentic discussions.  Also, she’s agreed to meet with us in March so STAY TUNED!
    POPULAR
  8. Salvaging My Identity ; Jennifer Mills & Rachel Lovingood
    My focus this summer was on Identity in Christ so I was on the lookout for any and all resources.  I loved the simplicity of this book that spoke to me at a 8th grade girl level (I feel so understood there). I also loved the format that was only 2-4 pages and an easy yet encouraging way to start my day! I sent this to all my middle school girl small group moms as a good read for middle school girls over the summer!
    Salvaging my identity
  9. So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids ; Diane Levin
    This also falls in the category of a book for class, but don’t lose sight there!  This book was extremely eye-opening but also frightening as I saw the rampant effects of hyper sexualization in children, 7 years ago, not to mention the rampant effects today. If you have a kid, work with kids, or know a kid, I would read this. But, be aware, you will get weird looks in coffee shops.
    SSSS
  10. The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance ; John Trent & Gary Smalley 
    I was a little hesitant to share this one, but the message and understanding of the importance of unconditional love from parents is so good. If you work with anyone who tells you about things they’re struggling with, this book provides a great lens of understanding the roles parents sometimes play in those scars.
    The blessing
  11. The Elements of Counseling ; Scott Meier & Susan Davis
    Good bookshelf book for anyone working in the counseling realm.
    Counseling
  12. The Four Loves ; C.S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis unpacks the 4 types of love in Greek that are used in the New Testament.  He simplifies huge ideas with lots of fun stories along the way.
    4 loves
  13. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming ; Henri Nouwen
    I think the Prodigal Son is a story I could read every day and get something new out of it every time.  This narrative is all about Nowen’s interaction with Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and highlights so many perspectives through which to interact with the grace of the Father in this parable.
    Prodigal
  14. The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures and Conflicting Expectations ; Stephen Hinshaw 
    This book explains and summarizes so well the challenges of girl world, but is written like a Psychology paper and can be kind of hard to get through.
    triple bind
  15. Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ ; Mark Driscoll
    As far as Identity in Christ resources go, I really enjoyed how this book and sermon series discuss Identity in Christ based on the book of Ephesians.
    WYTYA


    What’s your favorite book you read this year?

“I’m coming with you.”

In studying psychology, I’ve been learning about people for a while now.  People never cease to fascinate me.  Everyone’s personalities, expressions, routines, and thoughts are all so different.  Everyone wants to be loved in a different way, needs to be affirmed in a different way, needs to be challenged in a different way.  The way that our Creator has fashioned us is nothing short of elaborate, complex, and beautiful.

And in studying psychology, I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with people.  I sat in a counseling class where we practiced interacting with one another as a counselor would.  This felt awkward and weird, but it has been so foundational for me.


So I downloaded Audible, which you should totally get.  It’s this app made by Amazon where you can purchase recordings of books that have the actual author reading them.  If you’re someone who finds yourself on the highway a lot, like me, it’s a great find.

I’ve had Bob Goff’s Love Does on my bookshelf and feel terrible to say that I just have not had time to read it.  So despite the fact that I had already bought it, I decided to buy it again via Audible and I very quickly found myself wrapped up in this story.

Bob was a high schooler who was ready to get out of town.  He didn’t really love school and dreamed of going to Yosemite, working at a small café and seeking new adventures.  There was a guy that had been at his high school a good bit who was a part of YoungLife, named Randy.  He thought Randy was cool because he had a beard and a motor cycle so they became friends.  When Bob decided to spontaneously go to Yosemite, he went to tell Randy goodbye.  He said that Randy listened to him and said, “Hold on one second, Bob” and ran back inside.  A few minutes later, Randy came out with a book bag and sleeping bag and said, “Hey, I’m coming with you.  Can I catch a ride?”

So Randy went.

I was waiting for the moment in the car when Randy tried to talk Bob out of this.  I was waiting for Bob to share that only after about 20 minutes they turned around and came back.  But that is not how this story went.

Randy stayed with Bob for days.  As Bob was turned down for job after job, Randy just affirmed him that those places didn’t know what they were missing.  When Bob reached his wit’s end, they headed back home.


I found myself speechless as I heard this story and so challenged.

Recently, a friend and mentor who has been through way too much grief in the past year shared to a group of bloggers I am a part of, that it is so important for us to “Go with” people, not to just “stamp truth” on something they are wrestling with, but to go with them into their pain, fear, grief, etc. and love them there.

And I think that we as a culture are afraid of imperfection.  We only know how to be strong and okay and are afraid of those emotions of our own, better yet someone else’s.  But, how much can we serve by going with our friends, neighbors, coworkers, community, etc. into their pain, fear, grief, guilt, sorry, regret, by telling them those feelings are okay.  What if as the Body of Christ were not afraid of these feelings or of moments of imperfections? What if we could walk with people into the darkness so that they can eventually see authentic light?

I think we can all attest to a time when someone tried to tell us something they felt was truth we needed to hear, but in our spirits it was the very last thing we wanted in that moment.

In fact, I had a whole blog written on how to not love people in that way, but I think it is so much more important to talk about how TO love people in this way.

And I think that there is truth to be spoken, but that truth is planted on the most cultivated soil once you have entered their struggle with them, not when it is first being shared.  For even in the process of planting a seed, you have to first till the soil.

This morning, in my Sunday school class we were discussing a passage in 2nd Samuel, when David wants to build the Lord a house. What God tells David is that He chose to live in a tent on purpose.  He didn’t want to be removed from His people and separated from the difficulty of their journey.  He wanted to be in the trenches of their fight against the Philistines.  God even wants to go with us.


May we not fear grief, pain, hurt, sorrow, or regret.  May we press into the victory that is already ours on the other side of those feelings.  But may we not neglect the journey from this side of those feelings to the joyful promised land awaiting.