The Nickel Shot {Book Club}

We are back in Humble Roots today, discussing Chapters 3 and 4. Part of what I love about reading and then discussing is that reading is often a gateway into other topics or small bunny trails. The discussion of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello in Chapter 3 reminded me of my trip there! So, of course, I want to share (and to remind you that you can upload photos in your comments. If something we read reminds you of a story or takes you down a bunny trail, do share!).

Several years ago a dear colleague from China was getting married. I had been her supervisor for several years before she went to Australia to work on a PhD, so when she asked me to read a passage of scripture in her wedding, of course I was going! She also invited me several days early to be a part of the festivities. On the Friday before the wedding, I wasn’t needed (in the best sense) and we were near Monticello so I decided to spend the whole day there. I’m a history and nature geek and needed a quiet place in the middle of the day for my Connection Group Skype call, Monticello seemed perfect.

I did not know before I went there, but this is called “The Nickel Shot” because it is the image used on the back of the U.S. five cent coin.

Isn’t it pretty?! I can see why Thomas Jefferson wanted to grow European vines.

Not sure Thomas Jefferson pictured people taking their own “Nickel Shots” with his house. Ha!

I was there in early April and the tulips were spectacular.

I did pay attention to what Hannah wrote about Jefferson. “Drawing on his classical education, Jefferson integrated architecture, landscape design, and botany to create a place of beauty and industry. Verdant lawns, bountiful orchards, brightly colored flowerbeds, and productive kitchen gardens flowed together seamlessly, joined by a network of well-worn paths.”

I did pay attention, but my mind also wandered and I remembered that wonderful day. The sun. The Connection Group conversation. The exploring every nook and cranny and learning about gardening, and Jefferson. James Madison lived near by, so on Saturday morning I got up early to tour his home; I learned about how Jefferson and Madison communicated about their fields and what was growing and what wasn’t. All this to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this section and learning more about Jefferson, vineyard growing, and roots.

(In case you’re wondering, the wedding was wonderful, the scripture reading successful, and the celebration afterwards was the real joy. Please invite me to your wedding, it really will be the highlight of my trip, not the tours I can go on or the things I can learn!)

These two chapters had me thinking in a way that seemed more effective to share in a short three minute video. I apologize that I have a cold and my voice is a bit scratchy. If you don’t see the video right below this, you can watch it here. 

What bunny trails did these chapters take you down? What would have you been thinking about Pride and Humility? Can’t wait to connect in the comments.

Next week we will discuss Part 3 (Land of Milk and Honey) in Scouting the Divine. Don’t worry, we will come back to Part 2 in future weeks!


Reading plan for Humble Roots and Scouting the Divine:

March 6—The intros to the two books (Wonderment in SD, Sowing Seeds in HR)
March 13—Part 1 (The Good Shepherd) in SD
March 20— Chapters 1 and 2 in HR
March 27—Chapters 3 and 4 in HR
April 3—Part 3 (Land of Milk and Honey) in SD
April 10—Chapters 5 and 6 in HR
April 17—Part 4 (The Vine) in SD (Retreat this weekend!)
April 24—Last week was retreat so to have time to focus on the retreat, no extra reading his week. We will have a Get to Know and get back to reading this week. Also, I will announce the summer reading!
May 1—Chapter 7 in HR
May 8—Chapters 8 and 9 in HR
May 15—Part 2 (The Harvest) in SD
May 22—Chapters 10 and 11 in HR
May 29—We made it! Two books read in tandem we will review and have a Get to Know 





  1. Elizabeth March 27, 2018

    Sigh. I love tulips. 🙂

    I do feel challenged by these words on humility and am trying to wrap my mind around them and apply them to my life. To be honest, a lot of modern authors don’t say things in entirely new ways, but Hannah does. I have to actually stop and think about her assertions.

    I was pondering these things in church on Sunday. I think sometimes my fears and resentments stem from a lack of humility — the belief that I deserve better than I got or that I deserve better than my fears predict. It is a new angle to consider pride as the root of those issues.

    So I used my math skills to doodle a Pythagoras tree from long skinny triangles. My intention was to invert the tree to make roots, but then I wrote all my notes the wrong way! A picture or two will follow 🙂

    But regardless of my dubious drawing skills, I’m definitely being forced to remember my limitations and remember I’m not God — I peeked ahead a chapter and was fascinated by her treatment of Adam and Eve. I love Genesis so any new insights are always appreciated!

      1. Elizabeth March 27, 2018

        And upside down, to look more root-like.

    1. Amy Young March 30, 2018

      Elizabeth, I love that you doodle a Pythagoras tree out of long skinny triangles. Once to check my dad’s brain function as he was coming out of anesthesia, he was shown a series of simple pictures — we were relieved to hear him identify one as an isosceles triangle and another as a scalene triangle — yay! He was still in there. When I look at your drawings, and how you are processing this, I think God smiles and nudges Jesus and takes great joy in your processing.

      I have never thought about trees and roots they way you describe / depict them. I love the connection and need more time for it to sink deeper. I sense there is something there for me . . . but I can’t see it yet :)!!

  2. Michele March 27, 2018

    I think my main take-away from these chapters was just that I will never make myself humble- It comes only from abiding in Christ and His humility. One of the books that changed my life the most is Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I read in over twenty years ago and remember going over and over Chapter 14, where he gets this revelation of what it means to abide or rest in Christ. It started me on a pursuit which in many ways I’m still on today, so I’m excited to move on in Humble Roots to see what I can learn from Hannah about this; but glad to have a week to let this go a bit deeper while learning about the land of milk and honey in Scouting the Divine.
    On a totally different note, I really thought the whole heirloom apple thing was interesting, even without any metaphorical stuff. Apples and history are two of my favorite things, but I’d never put them together before! And thanks for sharing the Monticello pictures/experience- FUN!

  3. Rachel Kahindi March 27, 2018

    Thanks for the video thoughts, Amy!
    The part that strikes me most is this: “Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Humility is knowing where we came from and who our people are. Humility is understanding that without God we are nothing.”
    This week, I finished reading my favorite book in the world to my sons (and they loved it, too). In A Wrinkle in Time, our heroine, Meg, realizes that she’s nothing. She can’t do anything right. I’m not sure I’d call her humble…she genuinely has a low opinion of herself. She certainly doesn’t “accurately understand… (her) place in the world.” But in the end, when it’s up to her to save Charles Wallace, Mrs Who quotes from 1 Corinthians 1:27ff: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””
    (These are the actual verses; Mrs Who didn’t quote all of this.) I see that point of tension here. Meg thought she couldn’t do anything, but because of who she is and the relationship she has with her brother, which has a lot to do with who she is, she was the only one who could save him. God would use even what she had always seen as her biggest faults – her stubbornness in determination and perseverance, her emotional tendencies in love – to triumph over evil. But she needed to begin seeing herself accurately.

  4. Spring March 27, 2018

    What I loved about these chapters is her discussion first on what humility is by definition. It is a state of being, a position before Christ. I see myself getting caught up in the fear as the wine growers, of looking me. I need to trust his ways, and allow my roots to be pulled up, so I can be grafted into him.

    I do admit I have a negative view of Mr Jefferson as I heard he edited his Bible by cutting out the parts he didn’t like. I appreciated that the author made a footnote about how slaves were integral in the work at Monticello.

    I could write paragraphs about both chapters. I just love that I can’t be humble without him. I love how she talks about the verses in Philippians as not a model for my behavior, because I can’t do it on my own; but a point to start my dependency on the Holy Spirit.

  5. Hadassah Doss March 27, 2018

    I was really convicted by this week’s reading to be more collaborative rather than competitive. Because it’s not about me!!!

    Since we’ve returned, any news of our school is precious. And lately on FB and IG, there have been many pictures and videos posted of our students participating and leading out in worships. I’m so proud of them, but unfortunately my own pride also took a hit. Rather than celebrating this success with the new administration, I started to feel small and ask myself why things weren’t like that when we (my husband and I) were there. What could we have done differently to impact the spiritual life of our students in this way, too? That’s where Humble Roots spoke to me. Like the author pointed out, the problem with this is my obsession with myself and the pleasure I take in being considered above the rest. Instead, I want to “appreciate God’s glory in the people around [me],” and celebrate rather than compare. Gulp! I definitely need to “be enamored by His worth and majesty!”

    1. Amy Young March 30, 2018

      Hadassah I think we can all relate to the example you are shared :). Wanting ministry to not be dependent on us, but then when it goes well . . . experiencing mixed emotions :)! Joy and jealous.

      I also think it is okay to sell-reflect if there was something we could have done better . . . but there is a valley of difference between healthy self-reflection and self-pity reflection. At least for me :)!!

  6. Anna March 27, 2018

    The description of the apple trees and their comparison to us (being grafted from the original) really stuck with me. I also really liked the conclusion of ch 4 where she said, “When we are consumed with God’s glory, we forget to worry about our own…. Instead of competing we can care for each other. Instead of comparing ourselves, we can have compassion on each other. Instead of controlling each other, we can cultivate each other.”

    1. Amy Young March 30, 2018

      Anna, your comment reminds me of something I heard (read?) — we can either connect or compare, you can’t do both (Shauna Niequest) — I need this reminder more often that I wish 🙂 . . . but less as I learn this lesson! PTL 🙂

      1. Suzanne March 31, 2018

        The Chinese character for ‘modest’ or ‘humble’ contains an element of connecting: 谦 qian (part of 谦卑, qianbei – humility). 谦 is made up of two parts – 讠meaning speech and 兼 meaning to combine or connect or unite. (The second part – 卑 – means inferior or lowly but the pictures aren’t so meaningful.). Connecting – not comparing – neat.

  7. Phyllis March 28, 2018

    About your video: would hating ourselves be a negative of humility, or is that a different problem?

    1. Amy Young March 30, 2018

      Phyllis, I think so — or really disliking ourselves OR seeing ourselves as only retched sinners and not also beloved children of God.

  8. Cassidy March 30, 2018

    I have been going back and forth trying to get into this book. I want to like it, but I was having trouble. Until I got to the part in Chapter 3 where she starts talking about John 15. Something there just sparked a hunger to read more- I like when books do that, play hard to get into and then you fall in love with it.

    Anyway, I think today especially in Western society the idea that you are not “all that” is not the norm. I find it refreshing to be reminded that we need the Lord and apart from Jesus we are not fit for anything. There seems to be such a pressure these days to have your act together and your life figured out that we have lost place of our place, just as the author describes. “Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place in the world” My, what a true and honestly important perspective that I feel like I, am I’m sure I am not alone, have lost track of.

    The very idea that it is not a failure, or disappointment to be nothing without Jesus, but merely the design of life is rejuvenating I think. Im excited to keep reading and reflecting on this topic. It is helping me grow and see things in a new light.

  9. Suzanne March 31, 2018

    Hmmmm – there is a theme going on in my life here. This evening at a conference I heard a great sermon about none of us being indispensable and how we need to prioritise. (It was based on the Acts passage where seven wise and godly men were appointed to the early church to organise the social work type activities.). Then I read these chapters.

    Re your ‘healthy tension’ rabbit trail – yes indeed. Sometimes we are paralysed by over-humility, but other times we try to do everything because of thinking we are like little gods.

    I have a language rabbit trail to follow. Hannah talks about Paradise Lost where Milton has Adam and Eve reach up high for the forbidden fruit, thus leaving – or trying to leave – the earth from which they were made. Did you know that the Chinese phrase for ‘pride’ contains a pictorial element of ‘tallness’? 骄傲 jiao ao, meaning pride, contains these components: 马 – a horse, 乔 – tall; then in the next character, 人- a person, 丰 – abundant, 万 – ten thousand and 攵 – to rap or tap. Isn’t that a fun picture if someone trying to make himself look big, high on a horse, with a lot of noise and carry-on?!

    1. Michele April 1, 2018

      That is a very cool rabbit trail! I’m a bit of a language geek, so even though I’m thankful I haven’t had to learn to speak a language as complex as Mandarin (I don’t think I could do the tonal stuff!) I LOVE learning tidbits like this one!

  10. Michelle April 2, 2018

    One of my ongoing struggles is the grace/works tension in my walk with the Lord. The struggle of always feeling the need to do a better job of walking my faith. Probably one of the reasons that I love Romans so much. I’m trying to learn more to just abide. Not in a works-schedule sort of way, but more at the heart and soul level. I highlighted this on page 56 “But this is also why it’s so difficult to come to Jesus for rest. Before we can be grafted onto Him, we must be stripped of our decomposing roots, our self-sufficiency and ego. We must give up the pretense that we can root ourselves. We must reject the pride that believes in humility as a concept but refuses to actually be humbled before God. The trouble, of course, is that it is our very pride that keeps us from being healed of our… pride.” I also loved how she addressed the sense of competition that so often arises in ministry settings. It’s definitely a struggle of mine. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that we are playing for the same team. Lots of great thoughts on this on pages 75-77. But I particularly loved when she said “Instead of competing, we can care for each other. Instead of comparing ourselves, we can have compassion on each other. Instead of controlling each other, we can cultivate each other.”

  11. Karen April 2, 2018

    I first noticed the C.S. Lewis quote: “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud.” How simple this sounds, and yet so hard, because until He opens our eyes, we are blind. We don’t think we are proud, and even if as believers we can accept that “maybe God sees something I don’t see here,” we still don’t see.
    Over the past weeks, I’ve had several times I’ve felt deep anger and been going over times I’ve felt mistreated in the past, even though the actual offenses occurred years ago. In each case, I have “forgiven” the person and been working effectively with each person in the intervening time, even as good friends. So, realistically, this is probably more a combination of my currently being physically and emotionally over-stretched and/or needing to learn something God has to teach me, than it is a matter of the specific offenses or injuries. I am starting to see that maybe it’s about my needing to feel in control … to find a way to guarantee that I won’t end up not receiving the honor I expect.
    I am comforted and encouraged by the following quotes:
    “Because we could never sufficiently humble ourselves, Jesus humbles himself.” (57)
    “When we are consumed with God’s glory, we forget to worry about our own” (76)
    “Instead of seeing [others] as threats to our own glory, we will see them as beautiful reflections of His” (76).

    It is good to know that God takes the initiative to lead us and to open our eyes.

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