Tag Archives: Life

Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Baker Books
Price: $15.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

As a girl, Alia Joy came face to face with weakness, poverty, and loss in ways that made her doubt God was good. There were times when it felt as if God had abandoned her. What she didn’t realize then was that God was always there, calling her to abandon herself.

In this deeply personal exploration of what it means to be “poor in spirit,” Joy challenges our cultural proclivity to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” She calls on readers to embrace true vulnerability and authenticity with God and with one another, showing how weakness does not disqualify us from inclusion in the kingdom of God–instead, it is our very invitation to enter in.

Anyone who has struggled with feeling inadequate, disillusioned, or just too broken will find hope. This message is an antidote to despair, helping readers reclaim the ways God is good, even when life is anything but.

Review

It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a memoir which closely parallels my life and experiences. I feel like Alia Joy is my long lost soul sister.

She writes in the beginning of her book that Glorious Weakness is not for everyone. However, her book certainly was for me. And if others kept it real, they would see parts of themselves in her memoir, too.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, no one escapes pain and suffering in life. Pain and suffering is universal to the human experience that we all can identify to some level or degree. Alia had a fair share of it and then some. All of which I can relate to and identify with. It was as if she was writing my story.

Alia Joy’s writing style is descriptive and her use of metaphors is breathtaking. Her writing is poetic and lyrical. I enjoyed and relished reading her profound and touching memoir.

What I most appreciate about her memoir is that it’s not your typical Christian book. She doesn’t sugar coat anything.

I can’t relate to the popsicle Christian books being marketed and sold today. Glorious Weakness is real. Whereas, today’s Christian books lack depth, aren’t relatable and are impractical. Alia Joy’s book is the complete opposite. I have trouble sinking my teeth into those fluffy Christian books which make me sneeze with all their fuzzy platitudes.

Glorious Weakness is my kind of Christian memoir and I highly recommend it.

 

 Alia Joy is an author who believes the darkness is illuminated when we grasp each other’s hand and walk into the night together. She writes poignantly about her life with bipolar disorder as well as grief, faith, marriage, poverty, race, embodiment, and keeping fluent in the language of hope. Sushi is her love language and she balances her cynical idealism with humor and awkward pauses. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband, her tiny Asian mother, her three kids, a dog, a bunny, and a bunch of chickens.

Visit www.aliajoy.com.
Twitter: @aliajoy

 

 

Posted in anxiety, bi-polar, book reviews, christianity, disability, faith, forgiveness, Healing, mental illness, writing | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

A Loss For Time

I never thought about time the way I do now. Before becoming disabled, my days lead into the next without much thought of what awaited me.

I was once healthy, active and strong. I took pride in my ceaseless energy and workaholic ways. I felt like I was on top of the world. Never did I imagine my life would take the turn that it did and I would be faced with limitations.

On dealing with relentless health issues and that of my children, I was smacked head on with my own mortality and a loss for time.

Photo by Fredrik Öhlander on Unsplash

We all want time to stand still, especially when life is good. We live in the moment and relish it for what it’s worth, believing it will last forever.

I can assure you, I never imagined being in the situation I am today. If someone would have told me this when things were going well, I would’ve scoffed and laughed in their face.

But here I am, facing what is, as time ticks by and I can’t get one second of it back.

When I was forced to slow down due to my illnesses, I was faced with time. Time I once had and squandered. Time that’s left which I bargain with God daily and beg Him not to take me too soon. More so, for my kid’s sake, not so much for mine.

Well, perhaps a little… as I think about all the time I’ve wasted when I thought I had plenty of time.

The Bible says it best in James 4:13-14:

“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Yet, there is this part of us that thinks we aren’t going to die, that we will live on earth forever. Until we are reminded, through sickness or an untimely death of a loved one.

I’ve contemplated all the time I’ve literally wasted, never once thinking I’d be in the position I’m in today. I took my health, energy and vitality for granted.

I also had plans.

For one, I was going to retire at my previous job of 23 years. Never thinking I’d ever become disabled and unable to work anymore. That wasn’t something I thought was possible and was the furthest thing from my mind, too.

Yet, here I am… dealing with one health issue after another for the past three years and things only seem to be getting worse instead of better.

However, I’m not writing this to depress you. The purpose of this post is a reminder that life can change in a second, minute, hour, or day. You can be fine one minute and get hit with something the next. Life–as you know it–can radically shift in a blink.

We never plan for stuff to happen. It’s not in our control. The only thing in our control is today. If you have God, your health and mental faculties, then as Benjamin Franklin quoted, “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.”

Wise words which I would encourage you to heed.

Please don’t wait until you retire to pursue something you’ve always wanted to do. A dream you want to pursue. A place you want to visit. Make a plan and do it, don’t wait.

There is a loss for time and once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Take advantage while you still can.

Posted in disability, Medium, writing | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

A Slow Death

As I gazed at the landscape that was once plush green, thoughts ricocheted like bullets in my mind.

I wondered how leaves changed from being green to brown, orange, red and yellow.

They change and transform by a slow death.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The result is from the breakdown of chlorophyll, due to the changes in the length of daylight and temperature. The leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their splendor.

God is the master artist weaving a beautiful tapestry in nature with the ebb and flow of leaves, seasons, tides, births and deaths.

Watching the leaves turn reminds me of God’s power and my fragility, His strength and my weakness, His immortality and my mortality.

In reality, we are all fallen leaves, dying a slow death.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:17

Posted in blogging, Medium, spirituality, writing | Also tagged , , , , , Leave a comment

War Ravaged Heart

There are times I’m so worn and weary, when the harshness and realities of life overwhelm me.

When I can’t find the words to encompass all that I’m feeling or experiencing.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

When my heart and soul grieves, I find myself writing poetry instead.

So without further ado…

There are different kinds of hell, you know,

One from within and one from without,

Goodbyes are torture and change a torment,

Helplessness proceeds forth into oblivion,

Emotions tear at the war ravaged heart,

Clouds grey, oppressive and morose,

Where is the sun in the clouds above?

Sadness, disappointment, overwhelming the light.

Accursed is Change and Goodbyes so hard.

Tears run like a dam,

Suspending time,

Hoping once again,

For moments of serenity.

Posted in blogging, poetry | Also tagged , Leave a comment

Five Things I Wouldn’t Do If I Was Twenty Again

 I have this thing with age. This hang-up with the reality that I am pushing fifty and my life really didn’t amount to much.

Courtesy of Creative Commons – Matt Bilton

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the life God has blessed me with.

What I am saying is I pretty much wasted precious years of my life on stuff that really didn’t matter.

Here are five things I wouldn’t do if I was twenty again:

1) I wouldn’t have wasted my time with boyfriends.

Since I was a teenager, I was boy crazy. I always needed to have a guy by my side. Even if they were absolute jerks and yes, I’m being kind.

2) I wouldn’t have allowed fear, insecurity or other people from stopping me in pursuing my dream.

My father grew up in poverty, so he basically brainwashed me into having a job and earning money.

I remember when I was in professional acting school and pursuing my dream as an actress and singer, my father told me to stop playing and get a real job. He said acting and singing weren’t going to pay the bills.

So, instead of pursuing my dream, I stopped and got a part time job as a receptionist in corporate America.

3) I wouldn’t have lived someone else’s dream.

My father’s dream was for me to take over his restaurant. Well, that’s what he said, but that’s not what he meant. He would use “taking over his business” as leverage to manipulate me. He had no interest in giving up his little kingdom for my sake.

4) I wouldn’t have dropped out of college.

One of my biggest regrets ever.  

Instead of focusing on finishing college, I dropped out and eloped with my ex-husband at the age of nineteen.

Ladies, no guy is worth giving up a college education and basically, your future.  

5) I wouldn’t have been concerned about what people thought of me.

Unfortunately, this is something I still struggle with today. I wish I could say I’m at a better place. But I’m not.

I do see the futility in obsessing over what people say or think about me. I mean, why does someone else’s opinion of me have to matter so much? I don’t know. But, it’s completely annoying. I really don’t want to care about what other people say or think of me.

This was an obstacle in my earlier years and continues to be today.

I think about what I would do differently if I wasn’t so concerned about what other people thought of me.

I probably would take more risks.

I would try new things and do what I believed in, even at the risk of what others thought about it.

When you live a life focused on what other people think of you, you’re not really living.

You are trapped in a prison of people’s opinions.  You forfeit who you are and your one short life on what other people think or say. What a robbery.

It’s not worth it.

Do you struggle with any of these five things? If so, which one?

Posted in blogging, writing | Also tagged , , , 13 Comments

Letting Go by Dayna Bickham

“In the moment.”

I love that phrase. It makes me feel like twirling around and around like a little kid. Why? Because it is so freeing to live “In the moment”. It means I have let go of the constraints of others. It means I have given up trying to control everything. It means that I am not living full of anxiety or worry over the future. I am in the moment.

In this moment I can choose to rest. I can choose to risk, I can choose to reach. I can choose to create. I can choose to pray. I can choose to listen. I can choose to serve with an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.

There are times in our lives when planning and working toward goals are necessary, but we cannot let our lives become overcrowded with “to-do’s” that we forget that our lives are not our own.

Bought with a price, we now belong to God. His vision for us is far reaching and He has plans. Our job is to live in the moment: obedient to Him.

His ways are perfect, and by living for Him in the moment, and exchanging my plans for His, I live and breath in His freedom. I delight in His ways.

So I will live in the moment. I will let go of my plans and my ways and I will follow His plans and His ways. I will choose to delight myself in Him. I will not be a self-obsessed control freak and I will go where my Father leads me.

What is your favorite “live in the moment” memory? 

 

P.S.

Hey ya’ll, (yep I am a Southerner)

I have a new book out! Actually, it is my first one! I have never been so happy and so scared all at the same time! The reason I am telling you this is because I know how much you and Pilar love books! The Purpose of Chosen is a fresh look at the story of David and Goliath. There is so much to learn about our purpose in this world, and this book explores these themes:

1) Who You Are
2) The Value of Preparation
3) The Value of Work
4) The Value of Your Testimony
5) The Importance of Knowing Your Camp
6) Learning to Recognize Opportunity
7) How to Build Your Arsenal and Overcome any Giant

Filled with 30 insightful and heart searching questions, this short book is perfect for book clubs and small groups. It is available in paperback and in Kindle formats. This full color book is illustrated and easy to read. Perfect for younger people and for people who have a hard time reading a longer book, The Purpose of Chosen is designed and written to encourage and challenge you.

What you believe about yourself affects ever aspect of your life: often in ways you don’t even realize. You may be convinced that “this” is all there is, but there is more for you. You were made for more than a mundane life, you were made to live with purpose. You have been chosen, like David, for more than even you know.

When you discover who you are designed to be you can see that life is not just a random stream of evens, but opportunities for greatness– in the moment–and you will also see that if you arm yourself properly, no giant can stand in the way of what God has for you.

Click here to buy my new book, and be sure to drop me a line at ayearinthespirituallife@hotmail.com  to tell me what you think!

 

Posted in christianity, faith, Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , 2 Comments

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 19, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061999857
ISBN-13: 978-0061999857
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 


Description

Caught up in grief after the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch decided to stop running and start reading. For once in her life she would put all other obligations on hold and devote herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom.

With grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant family memories with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences. A moving story of recovery, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is also a resonant reminder of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading.

Review

Have you ever fell in love with a book? Well, I fell in love with Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I did not want this book to end. As a matter of fact, I even stalled to finish it.

Nina Sankovitch is a beautiful writer. Every page of this book spoke to my heart. I will forever remember this exquisite and graceful memoir.

This memoir is about how Nina Sankovitch dealt with the untimely death of her sister Anne-Marie. She decided to read one book a day for an entire year. She did this as a way to grieve and heal.

Now, for a old bibliophile like me, this equates to heaven. I couldn’t help but live vicariously through this inspiring memoir.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair begins with the stark reality of Anne-Marie’s illness and all that it encompasses. I felt as if my heart was going to burst from sorrow. I was in tears and felt everything Nina Sankovitch described. If I could have jumped into the pages to console her and her family, I would have.

I was grateful for Nina Sankovitch’s generosity in writing this poignant and transparent memoir. I felt as if I was walking alongside her on a beach and listening to the twists and turns of her life, her story. She really won my heart.

I enjoyed the progression of this memoir; the richness, nuances and color. There is beauty exuding from each page. Each chapter brought insight, wisdom and meaning.

The following quote encapsulates this memoir for me:

“I was ready–ready to sit down in my purple chair and read. For years, books had offered to me a window into how other people deal with life, its sorrows and joys and monotonies and frustrations. I would look there again for empathy, guidance, fellowship, and experience. Books would give me all that, and more.” (Page 31)

I wholeheartedly agree, books do that for me too. Nina Sankovitch and I are kindred spirits for sure.

I highly recommend Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I do hope Nina Sankovitch writes another book because I definitely want to read it.

In conclusion, I want to thank Regina Eckes of HarperCollins who generously sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Nina Sankovitch launched ReadAllDay.org in 2008, and at the end of her reading, she was profiled in the New York Times. She continues to review books on ReadAllDay.org and for the Huffington Post. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and four sons.

Posted in book reviews | Also tagged , , , , , , , 2 Comments

A Balancing Act

Ever feel like you are doing this in your life?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Lately, I’ve been feeling like this Orangutan.

I’ve been on walking the tight rope of life and it’s turning out to be a balancing act.

This past weekend I had to take a step back and reassess my life. I knew if I didn’t, I was slowly going to crash and burn.

I started thinking about how I wound up here. Why had I taken on so much? What motivated me?

I realized it all came down to fear. I was afraid to say ‘no’ and letting people down. I am the type who loves to help, encourage and support others.

This time I went too far in the people pleasing department.

I reevaluated what I was doing and why I was doing it. Granted, what I am doing is good and harmless.

However, is it what God wants and is He in it?

Am I really asking Him what He wants me to do? Or am I going about my business doing what I think is right in my own eyes? (Proverbs 21:2)

The truth is I haven’t been asking Him. I got swept up in the fervor of helping others.

Before I knew it, I found myself in a cyclone, being thrown every which way. 

All because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

So, guess what happened?

I started feeling worn down, worn out, exhausted and thus, unhappy. I realized I started to lose the proper spirit or attitude in my giving.

I was doing everything out of a sense of obligation, therefore, begrudgingly.

However, God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The fault is mine and mine alone. Noone forced me or made me do anything. I made the choice.

However, when I had my meltdown this weekend, I realized something had to change. I couldn’t keep going the way I was.

I also started to feel convicted about what I was doing and reached some conclusions:

  1. God doesn’t want us building kingdoms for ourselves on earth.
  2. God doesn’t want us pleasing others more than Him.
  3. God doesn’t want us to manipulate or scheme to get ahead or succeed.
  4. God wants us to trust Him with the results.

Something was getting lost along the way with social media, (i.e., promoting and marketing strategies).

I know the Lord has been trying to get my attention because lately, the whole social media/marketing/promotion thing hasn’t been feeling right to me.

Life is short to be trying to build our little kingdoms here on earth.

My husband made a valid point when he reminded me of what the Lord did to the Tower of Babel.

Christians are not suppose to take their lead from the world. We are suppose to take our lead from God.

Does this seem narrow to you?  Do you find it legalistic?

I am far from being a legalist, but I will say this, if whatever you’re pursuing doesn’t line up with the Word of God, then you are building on sand.

It’s like those sand castles we build on the beach, they eventually get washed away by the waves. They simply don’t last.

Such is our dreams and pursuits, if they are not Christ centered, then they won’t last.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather art be inspired, blessed and prospered by God, than by man’s scheming, marketing and promotion any day.

Personally, I’d rather just trust God with the success of anything I pursue, whether it be art, writing, singing, cooking, etc… You can’t go wrong.

Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Do you agree? I would be interested in reading your thoughts on this.

Posted in blogging, christianity, faith | Also tagged , , , , 6 Comments