Raised Right by Alisa Harris

  

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started this book.  The description intrigued me as it hinted at Alisa’s childhood of carrying signs and picketing abortion clinics.  I was not raised that way, not even close, but the political aspect of her childhood and how that shaped her life made me want to know more about how that would affect her faith.

This book was born out of my search for a faith that’s more than the sum of my political convictions and for a meaningful way of living it out.   (page 6)

This book was interesting, easy to read, and a good challenge to reexamine my own views on politics, mercy, justice and faith.  Alisa and I may have had very different childhood experiences, but her views on certain issues are not too far from mine.  Funny how God can use many paths to lead the same point…

I now think that loving America is like loving my family.  We have a shared identity and a common experience, a history that ties us together and past grievances that divide us.  But I don’t love my family because it’s exceptional, because it can dominate everyone else or has the fastest technology and the richest members or is somehow more blessed by God than others are.  I love my family, my country, because it’s mine- because this is the community where God saw fit to plunk me and I have an obligation to its rancorous, disputatious, obnoxious, and suffering members.  It’s easy to love the world and hard to love our neighbor.  (page 90-91)

Alisa’s simple story-telling style drew me into the book and kept me interested to the point where I finished it in only 2 sittings!  I just kept wanting to know more about her and how these stories would affect her life.  Her vulnerability in sharing both funny & hard stories is something that I admire and appreciate.  It is not easy to share about how your family may have hurt you, how people attack you because they misinterpreted what you said, or how you were so broke you had to scrape together change just to get home.  Writing her story and sharing these things might bring more criticism and maybe even some shame, but I applaud her for taking the risk to be vulnerable and transparent to bring to light issues that aren’t always talked about in such a calm and compassionate way.

For once, I wanted just to care about people as people- not as enemy combatants, potential converts, or notches in my holy belt of truth.  (page 59)

As Alisa walked through her years of picketing, campaigning, and researching & defending the Republican ideals, she continued this path into college, where she flat out became tired.  She was burnt out.  She had no more arguments left in her.  And her path began to change.  This part particularly struck me after having been in college ministry for 5 years. College is a big turning point for a lot of kids, whether that is for good or bad.  For Alisa, it seemed to be a point where she began to ask more questions and seek something more than a campaign.

I was done chasing supermen.  I had stopped believing in the perfect leader who could say “Let there be justice,” and by the force of his word change the whole earth into heaven.  Instead I determined to grab hold of the truth I’d always known- that the Leader had already come, had chosen instead to say, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and had been despised and rejected because His message was bigger than the first-century political pundits had predicted.  (page 75)

Having been a history major with a minor in political science in college, politics has always been something that has intrigued me.  Yet, it wasn’t something I really wanted to engage in because I do not like conflict and you can’t avoid it in politics!  I really appreciated Alisa’s story and her approach to this topic.  We might not agree on every issue, but we do agree a lot on much of the process.  She identifies issues within even the discussion of these topics and ask some good questions as a journalist, Christian, American, and human being.  There is more to each of us than just labels and we need to see past them to truly be able to live and engage with people.

As yet another presidential race begins to heat up, I’m both excited and apprehensive.  The mud-slinging has already begun and we have 10 months to go until the election.  This is a timely book and a good reminder of what is important in this process.  I am all for getting out and voting and participating in the process.  But let’s not get caught up so far in the machine that we lose sight of the people this is really about and the Person who ultimately rules over all.

I loved Alisa’s reflection on the 2008 election and want to end with it as just a little piece of perspective:

For the first time in my long and illustrious political career, I was throwing my support to a Democrat- but really I was voting for a leader who reflected my belief that the world is a more complicated place than a culture warrior’s sound bite and I knew that if I chose wrongly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I’d seen that politicians had their limits in enacting good; they also had their limits in enacting harm.  (page 154-155)

That’s not to say that I endorse Obama, or even voted for him.  But I appreciate the perspective that while this is an important decision, it is not the end.  We need to look at the whole picture.  Thanks Alisa for sharing your heart & story.

-Check out the first chapter of this book here!

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

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the doctor is in

I went to the Women of Faith Imagine event in Milwaukee at the beginning of the month. I had never been to one of their events before, but had vaguely heard good things about it.  I wasn’t totally sure what to expect.  I’ve been to more than my fair share of conferences (seriously, being on staff with a large missionary organization leads to a lot of good conferences), but I wasn’t very familiar with many of the speakers, so I didn’t really know what I would be walking into.

When I was given these tickets (thanks BookSneeze!) I knew immediately who my first choice was to go with.  My friend Jess was one of my first connections when I started college.  She was my first bible study leader, one of my closest friends, the first person who discipled me.  I got home from summer project just in time to be her personal attendant at her wedding and our love of Starbucks and Jesus has bonded us through the years since then.  Her 3 little boys have become my wedding dates & dance partners and when I go visit them, they want to play with me 24/7, sometimes limiting the actual adult conversation time that Jess and I get!  So despite the fact that she had a 2-month old baby, Jess was totally up for a girls weekend.  Plus she had a couch that I could crash on for free! 😉

Me & Jess (and don't forget Emmett!)

Friday was the more low key day, but it was the day that Dr. Henry Cloud spoke and met me right where my heart was at.  I’ve read plenty by Dr. Cloud before.  Being on staff with Cru, I’d learned a lot from Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life and  How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, so I was excited to hear him in person.

Dr. Cloud speaking on Friday afternoon

He talked about happiness, giving & monkeys (ask me if you want to know more about that one!) and it was all really good stuff.  Seriously, that is one intelligent man.  But when he started talking about endings, he had my undivided attention.  A few of my favorite quotes were:

There is always a letting go before a getting to.

The season is past, but we can’t move on because we are holding on to something that has died.

Stop making what is abnormal normal!  Believe that what God has planned is possible and normal for your life.

Jess even commented at the end of that session that there was a lot of good stuff in there for me.  I feel like those were things I needed to hear.  For a while I was holding on to something that was dead in my life.  God has something new for me to learn and I was too busy trying to hold on to what I knew as a good way to invest my life.  And it is a great way to serve & grow & minister.  But it was not the right place for me.

the beautiful worship team

But I didn’t want to let go.  It felt safe (despite being really hard!) and I felt like it gave my life meaning.  I loved what I did and I totally believe in the mission & vision of the ministry.  But it was not what God had for me.  I learned a lot and I grew a lot, but it was for a season.  And I was forced to face that.

Do I have any idea what’s next?  Nope.  Is that scary and hard?  Yup.  But I am trusting that God has something for me.  And that it is amazing and beyond what I ever could have imagined for my life.  So I am going to believe that whatever it is will be worth it and that it will become my new normal.

Mary Mary finally sang "Shackles" for us! (and yes, that is Lisa Harper representing us well in a cheesehead!)

Pray for me on this journey.  Pray that I find something to pay the bills with and that I find the place that God can use me in.  If that is the same thing, great!  If not, then I’m going to keep seeking Him for how I can be used for His glory.

Trust me when I say that the women who spoke and ran this conference did an AMAZING job.  Funny how it was the one person who wasn’t a woman on stage spoke the words I so needed to hear.  🙂  I’m glad Dr. Cloud was there and I already ordered his book Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward!  You’ll probably be hearing about it in the weeks to come.  Thanks for a great weekend Women of Faith.  I will definitely be coming to see you all again!

p.s. check out this video of Natalie Grant singing It is Well.  This isn’t from the Milwaukee event, but you’ll get the idea!  One of my favorite moments from the weekend!

Disclosure: BookSneeze provided me with two free tickets to the Women of Faith conference of my choice in exchange for ad space on my blog and two sponsored posts.

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Summer ends…

I can’t believe it’s the end of August.  Where has the summer gone?

I feel like I have been super busy, running all over the place to weddings and visiting friends & family, but yet I still am not sure what I’m doing with my life and I still don’t have a full-time job.  I really thought that would have happened by now.  I guess I still have a lot to learn about God’s timing and not my own.  There are so many things in my life I feel like I am waiting on and want to happen like yesterday.  And yet I keep waiting…and waiting…and waiting…

I once did a word study on waiting in the Bible.  I think I am going to revisit that.  One of the best things I remember learning, was active waiting.  I don’t remember all the specifics, but I do know it has a lot to do with jumping up off the couch (or comfy chair at Starbucks since that is where I am currently located) and doing something in the midst of my waiting.  Searching for jobs, doing some real digging and searching into what dreams & gifts I might have, volunteering, joining a small group, etc.  Whatever it is, I can’t just sit around and expect God to dump something in my lap.  Could He do that?  Yes, definitely.  But He doesn’t want me to just play around on Facebook all day, expecting the perfect job to just appear.  I don’t know what that job is for me right now, but I do know that I want to be pursuing it, not turning into a couch potato (no matter how many good shows I may have saved in my Netflix queue).

So, part of my active pursuit of God and my life, I have the opportunity to attend the Women of Faith Imagine event in Milwaukee on September 30-October 1.  I’m doing this as a part of their partnership with the Booksneeze blogger program, so I’m going to be doing a couple of posts about my experience and I’m super excited about it.  I’ve never been to one of their events, but I have heard great things about it.  I think it will be a good connection point for me.  A place where I can get fed some good spiritual truth and be challenged in my walk with the Lord.  A place where I will dream and yes, imagine what the Lord could do with my life in this new phase.

 

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I Heart Faces: Best Face of May

Lots of fun things happened in May with my niece.  She turned 1, her mom graduated from pharmacy school, we had a fun family dinner with everyone for mother’s day… that translates into a lot of pictures to choose from.  Let’s face it, she’s the cutest face around here, so the hardest part was just figuring out which one was my favorite!

There were quite a few from her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse birthday party that are definitely some of my favorites, but I just couldn’t get past this one from the park.

The intense concentration on the dandelion, her lips, the fact that for once she isn’t sticking her tongue out, all of it makes a pretty cute & funny picture!  But, that could just be the auntie in me talking…

Check out the other entries at I Heart Faces!

I Heart Faces - Photography Challenges and Photo Tutorials

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I Heart Faces: Yellow

This week’s theme on I Heart Faces is yellow.  I don’t have a lot of yellow featured in most of my pictures.  Blue, yes, definitely.  Red, yes…I live in the Badger state.  I thought I might have some yellow in some of my Packer pictures from the Super Bowl, but definitely more green than yellow there.

So I went with a picture that I took on Friday.  I baby-sat my niece all day since she wasn’t allowed to go to daycare after having been sick.  But she was feeling well enough for us to go on a couple of adventures.  After we visited Grandpa at work, we headed to my favorite area of a nearby park.  There is a small hill that is covered in tulips at this time of year and I’d been wanting to get pictures of my niece there all week.  This year, there were quite a few more dandelions mixed in too, so I got my yellow in!  🙂

Her expression is so serious here, but I just love her focus & her eyes.  She is my favorite…

Check out the other entries here:

I Heart Faces - Photography Challenges and Photo Tutorials

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I Heart Faces: May Flowers

this week’s contest at i heart faces features something i have a LOT of pictures of: flowers!  with an extended family who loves to garden and a mother who works in a greenhouse, our house and yard has always been full of flowers.  i have not yet inherited the love of shopping for plants and planting my own garden, but they tell me its still coming.  🙂

on mother’s day, my mom wanted to go plant shopping, so being the good daughter i am, i went with and didn’t complain once.  i just took my camera along with, so i had something to do.

i loved how this little flower popped up amidst the little white flowers it was next to.  provided some natural bokeh and a fun picture!

i think i could handle another shopping trip as long as i have my camera…

I Heart Faces - Photography Challenges and Photo Tutorials

check out the other entries!

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Photo of the Day

Went to my first Brewers game of the season on Monday.  They of course won.  What else could they do while I was there?!  And to make it even better Hot Dog won the sausage race!  I loved this picture.  It was like Hot Dog decided to look right at me as he crossed the finish line.  What a great win.

And who could forget this amazing double play?!

What a fun game to kick off my Brewers season!

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