My Name Is Hope

:: this post is part of the ‘hope’ series. it includes bits + pieces of my journey with depression, anxiety + insomnia with the hope that it will illuminate, expose, + help ::


Hope. If you’ve followed this space for any amount of time, you’d know that I love hope. Last year when I was going through the journey of anxiety and depression (read my story here), hope was the anchor that got me through. During that time, and still even now, I seek out books, information, blogs, and more from people on these topics. Why? Because it’s important and integral to be somewhat knowledgeable on these types of areas of life — especially when it’s one you’re personally going or have gone through.

Enter this book — My Name is Hope: Anxiety, depression, and life after melancholy, by John Mark Comer.

It’s hands down the best resources I’ve ever come across on depression.

“Some people wake up happy. Others wake up sad. I am one of those other people. You know – depressed people… Or maybe, better said, I was one of those people. My story is one of failure and success. Defeat and victory. Ignorance and wisdom. But more than anything, my story is one of healing.”

What I love about this book is, well, everything. The cover, content, paper inside, design… everything. Originally reading it last year, I remember loving it so much because it felt like someone had put a lot of work into it — they had put value on it, thus valuing me, the reader.

Parts covered:

+ Movement One: the power of solidarity, defining terms, the cause and effect(s)

+ Movement Two: digging up the roots (sins), dirt under your fingernails (struggles), the art of repentance

+ Movement Three: the mind – a tricky monster to tame, the body – more than a prison, come out of hiding, praying your guts out


What sets this book a part from other books on depression I’ve read is that John explores the lives of those in the Bible who dealt with emotional pain, were downcast and depressed too – including Jesus: “The Creator himself is not spared from the assault of creation’s sorrow” (p48).

What sets this book a part is its holistic approach — the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental aspects are all in balance. This is refreshing, especially because it comes from someone who’s walked the journey and is a pastor.

What sets this book a part is the brutal honesty from John. He bares his story for all to see and shows that he’s human.

He tells you about his first brush with depression — was on a missions trip and started “feeling sad. Really sad. I remember laying down at my bunk at night and thinking, Why am I down?” Fast forward some years later and in the midst of his misery and hitting rock bottom, he literally meets Hope while teaching a room full of college students.

It’s a powerful story.

And the world needs more people who tell their story. I’m thankful that John chose to not just tell his, but to also equip, encourage, illuminate, and empower others on the journey too.

{Some favourite quotes}:

“Anxiety is temporary atheism.” p81 [ouch!]

“Worry can be a gift because it shows us what we are really passionate about.” p82

“Perfectionism is a recipe for misery.” p96

“The only thing that is real is the present. Right here. Right now. The past is a memory. The future is a shot in the dark. The moment is where we live.” p102

“Hope does not put us to shame. Hope is indestructible. Hope refuses to give up. Hope never caves in… Hope screams at you every day. She calls to you, invites you, and refuses to shut up.” p206-7


If you’re going or been through depression/anxiety, know someone who is, or simply want to know more about it, I highly encourage you to get this book. It’s such a valuable resource and one that I read over and over again.

The My Name Is Hope website also includes resources and more – check it out.

And above all remember, there is always hope.

The War Of Art

:: entering 2013 I set myself a personal challenge: read 52 books this year. why? if you read well you write well. read the book list here ::

woaThe War of Art: Break Through the Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” (TWOA) by Steven Pressfield is an absolute favourite of mine (previously shared some quotes from it here and here). Having originally read it last year, I decided it was time to pick it up and read it again.

TWOA is a book for not just the creative, but for people in general. Why? Because Pressfield deals with Resistance – something all of us face in life, no matter what it is we’re graced with. Broken into three books, Pressfield explores:

+ Book One: Resistance – Defining the Enemy;

+ Book Two: Combating Resistance – Turning Pro;

+ Book Three: Beyond Resistance – The Higher Realm

More than Resistance it looks at ego, self, and so much more. There are also historic examples used:

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance…and moved to Vienna to study…Ever seen one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square canvas.”


TWOA is not for the light hearted. Sure, it’s inspiration to the core and you’ll find many creatives listing it as their ‘must read’ and highly prized book. But truth be told, this book will kick your butt bigtime as he illuminates the lies behind your procrastination.

And if that wasn’t enough, to end Pressfield pens the below quote:

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. 
Do it or don’t do it. It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution.

Give us what you’ve got.” 

If that doesn’t inspire and move you to action, I’m not really sure what will. Ha.

// Purchase The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles here

Beauty, Joy, and One Thousand Gifts

:: entering 2013 I set myself a personal challenge: read 52 books this year. why? if you read well you write well. read the book list here ::


[image via Pinterest]

“Joy is the flame that glimmers only in the palm of the open and humble hand.”

We’re all searching for something. For some of us, it’s beauty. Others joy. Others peace. Others grace. And others hope. How we seek to have this yearning fulfilled is outworked in different ways and filled by many things.

What most of us want though is to live a full life. Yet we can overlook how to live one because of its simplicity.

In Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts she explores this. Her way? By counting the gifts in each day.


“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” 

Last year I recorded in a journal something I was grateful for every single day.

365 acts of gratitude.

Why? Because it helps realign your focus and there’s something about gratitude that sparks a path to living life well.

But Ann, she didn’t record one per day. No. She sought the beauty all around her and was continually thankful for all that her eyes beheld.

243. Clean sheets smelling like wind

244. Hot oatmeal tasting like home

245. Bare toes in early light


Beautifully simple. And what I love is that she wasn’t simply thankful in her heart, but she expressed it.

“…to name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it is coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God.  To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.” [Alexander Schmemann as quoted on p.54]

Ann adds on this by saying that: “In naming that which is right before me, that which I’d otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible.”

The invisible becomes visible.

What you acknowledge becomes a reality. What you acknowledge becomes a part in your life. 

‘The Gift List’ changed Ann’s life for the better. Her friend Shelly testifies to it. Ann simply tapped into a holy art – seeking and acknowledging the gifts around her.

And her life? Well, she began to feel an overwhelming sense of being fully alive.

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.”

From now, I’m going to seek the beauty and the gifts around me. There’s multitudes to be acknowledged and embraced…

Bread & Wine: A love letter to life around the table, with recipes. {Review}

:: entering 2013 I set myself a personal challenge: read 52 books this year. why? if you read well you write well. read the book list here ::

bw[personal Instagram image: @bethjae]

Bread & Wine: A love letter to life Around the table, with recipes, by Shauna Niequist

“This is what I want you to do: tell someone you love them, and that dinner’s at six.”

For the regular readers, you know that I simply adore Shauna Niequist. A lot. I’ve previously written about her book Bittersweet, and now it’s time for a post on her new one, Bread & Wine. I read this a few months ago, and have re-read it multiple times since. It’s seriously good. And delicious.

This book is: “…about the ways God teaches and nourishes us as we nourish the people around us. It’s about recipes, entertaining ideas, and meals to share with friends and family, made by hand and with love.” Each chapter features a stunning personal story or memory, with a complimenting recipe – think Blueberry Crisp, Robin’s Super-Healthy Lentil Soup, Basic Risotto, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee… and eat your heart out, the list goes on.

Personal favourite: Blueberry Crisp (because it’s the only one I’ve managed to make so far – eating it right now. Have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, dessert. Oh my. So addicted).

However, I have heavily adapted the recipe and made it my own. I think Shauna would like this though because I read somewhere in the book that you should follow a recipe once, then second time try to do it from memory, and by the third time the recipe will be yours.

bw2[personal Instagram image: @bethjae]

Bread & Wine speaks to the essence of humanity – to be in community and nourish oneself. While reading it I decided to begin inviting girl friends over to my house for coffee instead of going out. I also decided to bake them something delicious to eat. Cue the Blueberry Crisp (which I changed to apple & raspberry instead).

What I love about this book is that it brings people together. Meals are a key aspect of life. They create not just conversation, but  harbour stories and communities, and allow people to tell and be heard. And plus, there’s just something special when it’s done with a home-cooked meal shared over a table with friends.

Bread & Wine got me thinking a lot. A lot about my friendships, relationships, and how I do life. The beauty of these pages is that it causes you to open up. When you allow people into your home and spend some time cooking for them, the connection forms different because by allowing them into your home, you’ve allowed them to come into your heart too.

Shauna’s honesty and heart is so transparent that you can’t help but want to be transparent and honest with your life too.

The way she loves through her actions, words, and hospitality causes you to want to open your life to live bigger, better, and more embracive of those around you.

Screen shot 2013-07-11 at 5.25.27 PM

[personal Instagram image: @bethjae]

:: the rundown ::

First Sentence: “My mom’s dad is Irish, a storyteller and twinkling-eyed jokers, and her mom is German, a rose gardener and meticulous baker.”

Least Favourite Part: Honestly, none. It encompasses all different aspects and allows you to slow down, and breathe.

Favourite Quotes:

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.  It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.  Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in ways they need to be fed.”

“We have, each one of us, been entrusted with one life, made up of days and hours and minutes.  We’re spending them according to our values, whether or not we admit it.”

“When you’re writing, the moment you sit down at the keyboard isn’t the magic moment; the magic moments are when you decide to see and hear and remember and taste everything in the whole world, choosing to believe that art and creativity are all around you, unfolding and beckoning you.”

Favourite Part: The abundance of recipes and honesty in her storytelling. I also love how there’s a discussion guide and sample menus at the back, and the quirky quotes found at the beginning of each section – a quote from 50 Cent about cake? Yes please!

Who should read it? If you love cooking, eating, talking, honesty, raw truth, beauty and stories… this is for you.

// You can purchase Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes here and read more from Shauna on her blog.

Searching For God Knows What

:: entering 2013 I set myself a personal challenge: read 52 books this year. why? if you read well you write well. read the book list here ::


[image via Google, Donald Miller (author of Searching For God Knows What)]

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my faith. Growing up in church, being in Sunday school, knowing all the Bible stories, currently studying theology, + being an active contributor in my local church… Faith is a big chunk of what I do. And there comes a time, for everyone, where you have to discover what it is you truly believe + why you believe it.

Studying theology is messing with my beliefs + redefining everything I ever believed. But it’s the kind of mess you want + need to have at some stage in your life. On top of that, I just finished reading Donald Miller’s book Searching For God Knows What.

Donald Miller is an author I greatly admire – in fact, his book Blue Like Jazz was the first book I wrote about in this series. His books take the hard + messy when it comes to faith, spirituality, + theology, and delivers it in a relevant, simplistic, + thought-provoking way.

This book is no different.

And it completely made me see the Bible, God, + Jesus in an entire new light.

Without giving too much away, here are two examples that stuck out to me:

// Adam + Eve in the Garden of Eden: Adam’s loneliness, Eve’s introduction, the Fall, the shame of being naked. The part that got me? His thoughts on Genesis chapter 3 – God told them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good + Evil, but He didn’t tell them about Satan, deception or lies. Which brings up the question of: why did He let the snake freely roam without telling or warning them? Donald’s whole storytelling + thought process of this is told so beautifully, intricately, + with such reverence, purity + love.

[note: spoke to mum about the above + she gave a great illustration: as a parent you don't tell or warn your child about every bad thing... I'm not a parent so I don't fully understand this, but it gives another level to Genesis 3. And Donald's right when he says this passage totally raises many questions for God that we will probably never have answers too while here on earth. And that's okay.]

// Lifeboat Theory he heard in school: there’s a lifeboat adrift in the sea with a male lawyer, female doctor, crippled child, stay-at-home mother, + a garbage man, + one person had to be thrown overboard to save the others – who would you choose? When everyone is created equal + with the same worth, it’s interesting who pops into your head first, hey?

Above all, the pages of this book weave together Donald’s own faith journey with an ancient + eternal text. His honesty, questions, + humility is fresh. Rather than shoving his thoughts into your face or telling you ‘your theology is wrong!’, his books serves as a navigation where you’re enlightened, challenged, + encouraged to really think about what it is you believe.

The introduction to this book is the essence of such thoughts:

“…and through a dark night of the soul, I came to realize salvation happens through a mysterious, indefinable, relational interaction with Jesus in which we become one with him. I realized Christian conversion worked more like falling in love than understanding a series of concepts or ideas. This is not to say there are no true ideas, it is only to say there is something else, something beyond. There are true ideas involved in marriage and sex, but marriage and sex also involve something else, and that something else is mysterious.

If we have a controlling personality, in which we like to check things off of lists, this is going to be extremely hard for us to understand and embrace. God give us no control, really, over this “system” of relationship. Introducing somebody to Jesus is not about presenting ideas, then, as much as it is introducing a person to a Deity who lives and interacts. Evangelism, then, looks like setting somebody up on a blind date: God does the work, we just tell them about him and where they can find him.

You might be getting upset by this. You might think I am saying truth should be thrown out, that theology doesn’t matter. But this is not what I’m saying at all. What I’m intending to illustrate is our drive to define God with a mathematical theology has become a false God rather than an arrow that points to the real God. Theology can become an idol, but it is more useful as guardrails on a road to the true God. Theology is very important, but it is not God, and knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God.

And above theology + all that jazz, he really taps into the foundation, purpose, + reason behind it all: relationship

The Bible is a relational document, + theology is basically the charts + lists we have made out of the document.” (p71)


:: the rundown ::

First Sentence: “Some time ago I attended a seminar for Christian writers. It was in a big hotel down South + hotels always make me uncomfortable because the bedding is so fluffy + the television swivels, + who makes coffee in the bathroom?”

Favourite Quote: “And there is nothing wrong with being beautiful or being athletic or being smart, but those are some of the pleasures of life, not life’s redemption.”

Highlight: The use of Shakespeare’s Romeo&Juliet as the base of the final chapter. This was unexpected + smartly done – how he pulled it apart, looked at it historically, + related it to back to the essence of the book. Despite being a book discussing theology, it is grounded, human, + real.

Who should read it? Is the perfect read for late-teens + twenty-somethings. No matter your religion or stance, it will broaden your thinking, a lot.

// You can purchase Searching for God Knows What here.