So, some time ago I promised I would review Jennie Allen’s latest book Restless.
I discovered Jennie’s writing a year or so ago, around the same time that I started following the lovely Ann Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience. If you haven’t checked out either of these incredible women already, I really do suggest you go have a read. Words cannot describe the grace they have fed into my life through their words, as well as the encouragement, inspiration and vision.
It’s got to be said, the internet truly is a wonderful thing. Growing up, I always felt this sort-of restlessness. I was never really sure whether I fitted in – within the church or outside of it. I knew I loved to write, but I didn’t know what for or for whom.
I didn’t know if what I had to say really counted.
If it meant anything to anyone.
If it was relevant.
And I guess – yeah, it’s true – in the church back then there wasn’t a whole plethora of women talking about grace and love and truth and Jesus and home and kids and mess and striving and trying to be perfect and trying to be more like Jesus.
Fast-forward all these years, and I finally find that there are people out there that look a little like me.
Women who are passionate. Who are hungry. Who love Jesus, and their families, and words. And who are saying something.
I don’t think it would be a stretch for me to say that I found community when I found these guys – that I have never met and have never had a conversation with – but whose words inspire me regularly. Whose thoughts often echo my own, whose struggles match mine. Whose dreams and visions encourage me to be braver, stronger, more thankful.
And I guess that’s what a family of believers is really meant to be. Community can look a hundred different ways, and today I am thankful for the online community of amazing, spirit-filled women who take the time to carve out time and write down words that sing a song to my soul.
Jennie’s new book, Restless, is no different – bold, brave and direct, it is a challenge to all of us everywhere to get up and keep running the race for which we were called. The book doesn’t pull any punches, reminding us that big dreams and big visions and more of God require less of us – sacrifice, surrender and death to ourselves come before new growth and new visions. At the same time, Jennie eloquently gives voice to those fears and concerns that so many of us have:
“Is it right to want more?”
“Shouldn’t I just be thankful for what I have?”
“How do I know if this longing in my soul is from God?”
Restless is neatly split up into lovely bite-size chunks, accompanied by humorous illustrations and startlingly honest anecdotes from her own life and struggles. Each section of the book is also accompanied by some journal exercises to help you focus on the threads of your life – all those things that you do and are and have experienced that seem unconnected and accidental but really aren’t – and what God may be doing with them.
I must admit that I didn’t do the exercises as I read through the book – I think I was a bit too keen to get to the end! – but this morning, a good few weeks after reading it, I drew this in my journal as I spent some time with God. So maybe now my threads are starting to come together too…
If you’ve read Restless, share your favourite bits or what God has said to you through it by leaving a comment.