“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” -C.S. Lewis
Reading is one of my passions. As a kid, I passed countless hours and ruined my eyesight reading The Boxcar Children, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and Nancy Drew by nightlight, well past my bedtime. As a teenager, I read YA novels and classics while sitting in a Hastings bookstore during my free periods. As an adult, I’ve soaked in the works of a bigger variety of authors, both Christian and others. I’ve read a lot of books, and lived many lives through them...
“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” -C.S. Lewis
Reading is one of my passions. As a kid, I passed countless hours and ruined my eyesight reading The Boxcar Children, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and Nancy Drew by nightlight, well past my bedtime. As a teenager, I read YA novels and classics while sitting in a Hastings bookstore during my free periods. As an adult, I’ve soaked in the works of a bigger variety of authors, both Christian and others. I’ve read a lot of books, and lived many lives through them.
When I think of books I would have every Christian read, however, my suggestion may surprise you, because I read them for the first time when I was nine years old. To this day, I dedicate a large part of my understanding of Christ’s sacrificial love, and the anticipation of being with Him in heaven, to “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
"Read them to your kids, or enjoy them on your own, and I promise your understanding of and love for Jesus will look different because of it."
Many people have heard of C.S. Lewis, especially in Christian circles. He wrote great and noteworthy works such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Screwtape Letters”. Whimsical, important, interesting theological works, worth a read any day of the week. But in my humble opinion, his most accessible and theologically exegetical book was written for his young goddaughter, Lucy, in 1950. It goes by the title “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”.
In TLWW, a young English girl named Lucy stumbles through a magic wardrobe which transports her to the enchanting world of Narnia. Her three siblings make their way through as well, and a poignant adventure comes into being. Filled with fauns, talking animals, and evil snow queens, this book lives up to every inch of what a children’s adventure story should be. Not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, I know. Let me encourage you by saying that through the hero of the story, a lion named Aslan, the character of Jesus and the Gospel story are mirrored in every plot point. Made to be understood by children, but not at the expense of deep meaning for a reader of any age.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
“The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” is the second in the chronicle of 7 books penned by Lewis, each taking on a new part of his magical land and a different aspect of Aslan’s (and thereby Jesus’s) person. These stories are at varying times hilarious, heartbreaking, pensive, and deep. Read them to your kids, or enjoy them on your own, and I promise your understanding of and love for Jesus will look different because of it.
I saw the book Abba's Child for sale at a personal retreat 4 years ago. Being a busy mom of 6 kids, I decided to purchase it on Audible – knowing I’d be a lot more likely to have time to listen to it than to sit down and read it. It stayed un-listened to on my phone for 4 months, until a conversation with my therapist reminded me about it. I will never forget...
I saw the book Abba's Child for sale at a personal retreat 4 years ago. Being a busy mom of 6 kids, I decided to purchase it on Audible – knowing I’d be a lot more likely to have time to listen to it than to sit down and read it. It stayed un-listened to on my phone for 4 months, until a conversation with my therapist reminded me about it. I will never forget listening to it for the first time in the car on the way to a doctor’s appointment. The blessings in the preface startled me, the first chapter made me cry, the second chapter convicted me, and every chapter afterwards touched me and moved me deeply with this most life changing message: “I am the one Jesus loves.” That is all. That is enough.
When asked to write about my favorite book and why it is important to my faith, I knew which book it would be - without a doubt: Abba’s Child. It is the only book I have listened to five. times. in. a. row. not kidding. And it has brought me to tears every time. Being the first-born perfectionist that I am, I have always tried to “do the right thing” in order to please God. And I have always looked down on other people in order to justify myself as better.
Brennan Manning invited me to deal honestly with my “false self,” to bring the Pharisee inside of me out of hiding and present her to Jesus, to embrace myself as Abba’s child, to live “in the present risen-ness of Christ” and also to truly believe that “My Abba is very fond of me!”
Love, Nicole Radigan
P.S. This audiobook is on sale for $4.99 here for the rest of the month of February!
So, there I was, new to the professional world and new to Christianity. While I was growing and learning and envisioning my new career as a nurse, I also knew that my life was being transformed by God. This time in my life felt a bit like walking blindly; it was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. As ironic as it may seem, my new walk with the Lord came with as many unknowns as my new career, if not more. I did not grow up in a Christian home and had no clue what the next steps of my life as a Christian were supposed to look like. I only knew to pray...
So, there I was, new to the professional world and new to Christianity. While I was growing and learning and envisioning my new career as a nurse, I also knew that my life was being transformed by God. This time in my life felt a bit like walking blindly; it was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. As ironic as it may seem, my new walk with the Lord came with as many unknowns as my new career, if not more.
I did not grow up in a Christian home and had no clue what the next steps of my life as a Christian were supposed to look like. I only knew to pray. Luckily the bible tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know exactly what to pray for and God answered my prayer with an experience that would transform my life and my faith.
In those early days of my faith, my prayer went something like this, “Lord I have no clue what marriage, motherhood, homelife, or friendships look like for a Christian woman. Please send me someone to show me that.” God is faithful and He quickly answered that prayer.
As I became more involved in my church and ministry, I was blessed to meet a woman named Maria. Maria had grown children around my own age. She was one of those beautiful women who gush sweetness out of every pore. Everything from her smile to her tone of voice called to my heart. Any girl would want to be wrapped up in the arms of this spiritual mother. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly how our relationship was formed. I just remember a friendship that grew from two people with a very intentional goal. I wanted to soak up all she had for me and she was more than willing to pour out her life and love and wisdom on me. We spent a summer together. We went for walks and talked. We made meals in her kitchen and ate together. We shopped together. All the while talking and listening. I saw her mother her grown sons, prepare her days around her husband, and joyfully grow in her relationship with her Lord. I can still hear her laugh and her gentle words as she encouraged me in my own walk.
I had the priceless gift of seeing her excited, worried, sad, hopeful, and even disappointed. At the forefront of it all I saw her love and trust Jesus out loud. This gift was one that Titus 2: 3-5 speaks of”
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
Some of my favorite places in the bible have the “if” and “then” or the “so that”. Marcia loved me, she turned my eyes over and over to the cross…“so that” I would learn how to honor the word of God in my life. Thank you, sweet spiritual mothers.
If you are struggling to find a spritual mother or sister in Christ we'd invite you to visit our Women's Ministry page and get plugged in at MCC. We have women's Bible Studies, a new Titus 2 Women's Disciplship program, and quarterly women's gatherings. There is a place for you and we'd love for you to join us!
“It’s like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die”. I don’t know who said that. But they hit the nail on the head. It had been 2 years since our falling-out. By the way, “falling-out” is a strange term for hurting one another and ending a friendship. Neither of us really “fell” out of anything. We both made deliberate steps away from the other. So I guess “walking out” is more what we did. We walked out of one another’s lives...
“It’s like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die”.
I don’t know who said that. But they hit the nail on the head.
It had been 2 years since our falling-out. By the way, “falling-out” is a strange term for hurting one another and ending a friendship. Neither of us really “fell” out of anything. We both made deliberate steps away from the other. So I guess “walking out” is more what we did. We walked out of one another’s lives.
Two years passed. To be honest, not a day passed that I hadn’t thought about the incident. I replayed it in my mind several times a day. I looked at it from every angle (minimizing, of course, the angles that made it look like my fault). I thought of all the things I wish I’d have said at the time. I’ll let you guess how many of those ideas included compassionate, gracious words. (Hint: Less than 1). I hate to admit this to you. This thing consumed my thought life for most of my waking hours. I’d done a great job justifying all my actions….especially the action I was currently taking, which was having nothing to do with my former friend. So essentially, I’d spent over 700 days re-living an experience and compounding my anger. She tried to reach out a couple times, and I would give some high-sounding, proud response that was meant to communicate that I was holier than she. And then I’d get even more angry.
I’m not proud of it. I wasn’t proud of it then. But I owe you the truth.
So this was the state of my heart and mind as I dove into Women’s Bible Study that fall. My group was meeting in the library at MCC, a place I’d not ever spent much time. Every Wednesday, we’d get together and pore over scripture, life, and that week’s lesson. And every Wednesday, during those lovely discussions, I’d glance up to see that book sitting proudly on the shelf.
Choosing Forgiveness was the title, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Week after week, I glanced up there and glanced away.
Yet another confession: I’d believed that going to Bible study would basically just make me feel better. You know…I just needed to be reminded that Jesus loves me and whatnot. I just needed to reaffirm my identity in Christ…right?
Pretty soon, our study turned to the subject of…you guessed it…forgiveness.
At that point, I was pretty miserable. I had actually tried really hard to stop focusing so much on this person and our “walking-out”. I’d memorized scripture. I was in the midst of memorizing all of John 1, and I’d recite and memorize more every single time I started thinking over the incident. As you can imagine, I was memorizing at an alarming rate.
During our discussion that day, I sort of confessed that I had an issue with forgiveness. I was miserable, and knew something had to change. I asked everyone in my group HOW to forgive someone. They were so sweet and kind to listen patiently as I complained and whined about how I’d tried “everything” and just couldn’t seem to let it go. They gave me great advice, but I didn’t hear an answer I liked.
I did, however, decide to check out that book. I did it rather grudgingly, because you know…I’d already tried everything. I just knew there couldn’t possibly be any new ideas in there that hadn’t occurred to me in 2 years. And you know - I was so holy and everything…what could this Nancy lady have to say to me that I didn’t already know? But hey…it was worth a shot. Again…I was still miserable.
A couple days after I checked out the book, I got pretty sick. I found myself with lots of time to sit and read. And sit and read, I did.
“Has the clock stopped in your life? Was there a moment when someone or something hurt you - and everything changed?
…Ever since, the story of your life has been to recapture your loss and seek your revenge, either through outright action or the withholding of love and affection.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
Yeah - it’s like she knew me…like she’d seen my thoughts those last 2 years. A better and less creepy explanation is that un-forgiveness is pretty common to the human experience.
That quote is from the introduction to the book, as is this one:
“There is life and health and a whole new world outside the dark, musty walls of hurt and disillusionment behind which you have barricaded your heart. God wants to give you the grace to move on…He wants to set you free.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
What a contrast, right? I was riveted. I finally wanted this freedom more than I wanted my anger or vengeance. That’s when things really began to change.
I want to be very clear about one thing here. This book did not change my life. God, through His word, changed my life. Nancy Leigh DeMoss helped me immensely by presenting scripture relevant to this issue in a way that helped me admit to my problem and address it Biblically. Reading this book was like going on a walk with a godly confidant. I committed to following through on all of her suggested activities. I took pages of notes. And I prayed that God would write His truth on my heart, that I would not forget it and find myself in this place again.
And do you know what else I did? I apologized to my former friend. For real. I made the choice to obey God and forgive her for her contribution to the “walking out”. I confessed my contribution and asked forgiveness for it. And in doing so, I walked out of the prison I’d built for myself two years prior. I stopped drinking the poison. And Satan lost a huge foothold in my life.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You may not be struggling with un-forgiveness right now; but we humans hurt each other. We do it a lot. Chances are good that you and I will find ourselves in the place where bitterness and anger feel like friends. Choosing Forgiveness is a fantastic tool that will Biblically equip you for those days.
I’ll leave you with one more quote from the book:
“Forgiveness is not a method to be learned as much as a truth to be lived”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
I genuinely hope that you’ll find the freedom of living the truth of forgiveness through God’s grace…maybe with the help of Nancy’s book.
I’m incredibly blessed to have had many people pour into my life over the years. I want to share about three very different women and how they have each transformed my faith! Most girls can attest to the fact that their mothers had a big impact on their life; I know that mine certainly did! It wasn’t always having deep conversations or reading the bible together, most moments I remember were simply watching her live her life out for Christ. The way she...
I’m incredibly blessed to have had many people pour into my life over the years. I want to share about three very different women and how they have each transformed my faith!
Most girls can attest to the fact that their mothers had a big impact on their life; I know that mine certainly did! It wasn’t always having deep conversations or reading the bible together, most moments I remember were simply watching her live her life out for Christ. The way she loved, the way she offered grace, and the way that nothing was so important that she couldn’t pause to listen to me; even if I was only telling her something silly at five years of age. I got to do dishes by her side, helped her clean, and learned what it looked like to be a woman of God; a maiden warrior for the kingdom of heaven (which, by the way, is as epic as it sounds). I watched her stumble, heard humility in her repentance, and saw as she got back up and kept going.
You might wonder how watching my mom walk out her faith actually impacted me for Christ? It's true, we weren’t always talking about the Bible or doing studies together. What I learned from my mom, what I felt and experienced in our bond was just as important; the power of relationship. Just like Christ wants to have a relationship with us, my mother demonstrated (and still does) how that relationship looks. That God is never too busy to hear my plea, no matter the time of day. That my loving Father smiles and laughs with joy when I dance in the kitchen or the field or sing praises to Him. She showed me that He is always there, always ready to listen, and always guiding me if I rely on Him. Because she proved herself to me in the little things, she was able to prove herself in the big things, like talking about Jesus and why I needed a Savior from my sins. I am so grateful for my mom; especially as she continues to impact, challenge, and encourage me in my faith daily.
There are two other women who have also transformed my faith; both are sisters, one by blood and one by Christ. My sister, Rebecca, has been one of my best friends since high school. If we go a week without getting some good one on one time with a cup of tea and passing the baby back and forth (because, you know, snuggles), we feel a bit empty. The connection with this woman and sister of mine is amazing to me because I know that only Christ could have transformed us from bickering siblings to best friends! He truly is the one that gave me a change of heart in regards to my sister, started the bond between us, and continues to pull us together. She’s a fellow warrior. Sometimes we’re fighting side by side on the spiritual battlefield. Sometimes she’s guarding me from the arrows of the enemy while I kneel in exhaustion from the fight, listening as she whispers verses and truth in my ear.
There’s something uniquely special about having a sibling following Christ next to you; the fearless ways they speak in truth and love. It’s like they know you’re not going to leave them and there’s a security about the relationship. There have been many times when Rebecca was far more willing to speak a hard truth than to allow me to continue to wallow in self-pity or anger. Did I like it? Nope, but I always came back and appreciated it later. By the grace of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the prayers offered up for me by said sister, I always come around. I think it’s because, just like my mother, she has made a point to be in relationship with me. She’s never failed to be there for me- even if all she could do at the moment was let me know she was praying for me. She’s never been afraid to step in and help me fight my battles whether by encouragement or boldly pointing out the lies that I’ve been listening to. She is truly my sister, in every possible way, by blood and by Christ.
The courage she presents and the strength she possesses inspire me, daily, to live my life for Christ and Him alone. To continue growing myself, to push past what the world deems ‘ok’ and instead strive for what God says is ‘good’. To run the race with diligence so I may hear one day, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. I think I’d like to keep her around, always.
And my sister in Christ, Desarae. While we may live states apart, God has given us an incredible connection. While visiting Desarae and her family in Quitaque, Texas a few years ago, my spiritual life changed forever. There was something about Desarae, something about her family. I felt right at home the moment I stepped through the door. When I got to participate in their Sunday night prayer meeting, God opened my eyes to what it feels like to be intimately connected to people I’d only met 15 minutes before. To experience the overwhelming love of Christ being poured into you by strangers is one of the most incredible things that has ever happened to me. That night at the prayer meeting I sobbed. Yes, sobbed, in front of strangers. Their response was to surround me in love and grace.
All this came about because a woman named Desarae, whose heart is so full of love for others, reached out and wanted to be my friend. God placed Desarae in my life during a time I desperately needed the love she had to offer. I had been incredibly hurt just a couple years prior, a wound that cut deep. I had attempted patching it over, stuffing it down, and trying my best to ignore it. Desarae was the friend that was able to wrap me in a hug and help me see that my brokenness was nothing to be ashamed of. That I didn’t have to be strong in the hurt and the pain. I just needed to let God hold me and heal me.
Besides that, she invested in me. Despite the distance, she has worked hard to maintain our friendship. To encourage and pray for me when I’m down and to allow me to do the same for her. She has become a true friend, a sister in Christ, and has given me a friendship that will last through eternity.
I could go on for hours about these amazing women in my life and the countless others who have impacted my life in some way or another. However, I picked these three to share about because there is one common thread between them that I think is really important: relationship. Through my unique relationships with these women God has been showing me that I don't have to do it all of be it all. I often get overwhelmed at the idea that I have to be everything to a person. That I have to always have the right thing to say or do when someone needs me. But the beautiful truth God is showing me in all this is that I don’t. Sometimes I get to be a part of someone’s story for only one chapter. Maybe even only a sentence. Perhaps for some, I get to be part of the entire book. It’s easy to get caught up in what we think we have to be doing in order to shine a light or make an impact in someone’s life. It can be exhausting to think and believe that. Yet I’m encouraged as I read through God’s word and learn about all these different men & women in history. How each one was unique and different and yet still used for the Kingdom of God and His glory. Not a single one “did it all”- except a man named Jesus who did do it all by conquering sin and death.
To my three mighty warrior maidens, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to love me right where I was at while encouraging me to grow. Thank you for showing me friendship in so many ways. Thank you for pointing me back to Christ every single day but never looking down on me when I struggled to move in that direction. Most importantly, thank you for striving to be like Christ, remaining humble through it all, and loving others like He loves us.
If you are struggling to find a sister in Christ we'd invite you to visit our Women's Ministry page and get plugged in at MCC. We have women's Bible Studies, a new Titus 2 Women's Disciplship program, and quarterly women's gatherings. There is a place for you and we'd love for you to join us!
All MCC Ministry in person meetings are suspended at this time BUT many ministries are reaching out through phone calls, emails and digital platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Googlemeetings. Contact your ministry leader to see if this is an option for you!