When What You Need Is Something Else {Book Club}

Before we jump into part two of Beautiful Battle by Mary DeMuth, I wanted to let you know that my book Looming Transitions came out in audiobook last Thursday. I have a special page where you can buy it for $5, either for yourself or as a gift until January 20th. If you go to my Gumroad page, it will look like it is $10, so use the promo code and save $5. And you can read the back story of how it was recorded here. Books are fun. Turns out audiobooks are fun too!

I wanted to share two more brief thoughts before we dive in to discussing being proactive and looking at how we participate in the Beautiful Battle. First of all, if you have become more aware of spiritual warfare around you and even feel like it might have amped up a degree or two after you started reading this, me too. Last Wednesday I sent out an update to supporters to be praying for me and us (Velvet Ashes) after a few pieces fell in place and I realized that we might be under more attack that I realized. I asked people to hit reply if they felt like it and let me know if they were praying.

Can I tell you how loved and supported I felt? My inbox is now flooded with people from all over the world praying for us. I specifically asked them to pray for our time here at the book club as we read this book. I wanted you to know I’ve upped the prayer coverage and I hope you can sense it as we read this book together.

Second, I was lovingly confronted by a friend last week after we skyped. She asked me what I was going to cut-back on in the next month and I just stared at her. If anything, I see how this next month is just going to gear up. We talked about a couple of areas and after we finished chatting I picked up Beautiful Battle to finish the last two chapters of today’s section. Um, when I saw that the chapter I was on was entitled “Embracing Rest” I knew God was speaking.

Not just rest mind you, but embracing rest. Embracing. You don’t embrace with one arm, that’s a side hug. You embrace with both arms. So, in the name of how books we read come to life, I’m looking for four of you to help with Have You Seen. I think if we have a trained team of four, then if illness or travel or life comes up, we can help each other.

Part of embracing, at least for me, means publicly asking and not “just” praying (as code for “I’m happy chatting with God about it, as long as I don’t have to chat with others.”)

People, we are at 586 words typed and I haven’t even begun discussing this rich section! But you know what? Sometimes in a club we come prepared (I have read and taken notes on all the sections) and what you really need is something else. Maybe what we need are the real ways that this book has intersected with each of our lives this week.

That being said, I do have two pages of notes, lots of Kindle reference points marked, and stars all over my notes. I’m going to give a brief thought for each chapter and want to continue the discussion in the comments.

Chapter 6: Breathing Prayer—“Freedom comes in moving from a request-based prayer life to a relationally-based one.” (1423). Love this.

Chapter 7: Loving Truth—Like Mary, I had not noticed how communal the passages she referenced were. Not if I confess, but if we confess. Makes me wonder what freedom we are missing out on in our marriages, families, teams, and organization. Oh and the whole “I tell you the truth” being mentioned 78 times in the Bible!

Chapter 8: Practicing Risk—The part about boredom stood out to me. I wondered (if you’re honest) how many of you fell bored because you are “trapped” with young children in a small apartment or home? What could practicing risk look like for you?

Chapter 9: Slaying Idols—I found the list of possible idols (2159) helpful. It got me thinking about the idols of the cross-cultural worker. I’d like to write a post about “Idols for the Cross-Cultural Worker” and wondered what you’d put on the list. One I’d put on is “busy.” We love being busy because it looks more valid than when we rest. (Um, see above. Trying to slay this idol.)

Chapter 10: Worshipping God—Mark Buchanan’s quote stood out to me: “The opposite of a slave is not a free man. It’s a worshipper.” What did you think of this quote?

Chapter 11: Living the Bible—This book was written before the “Word for the year” craze (of which I love, so I’m not casting stones. Just found it interesting how long it has existed.). My word for the year is verily. What’s yours?

Chapter 12: Embracing Rest—I think we know what I thought of that chapter :).

Chapter 13: Chasing Healing—She had me at Dun Cow. Anyone else read that as a teen and just love it? I mean LOVE it? I’m going to have to re-read that next summer as part of my summer reading challenge. I love the passage she quoted.

Whew!! She covered a lot of ground. What stood out to you or you’d like to discuss? What questions would you like for me to ask Mary in preparation for her being with us when we discuss part 4?

With blessing,


P.S. Next week we’ll read part 3, and finish up the following week with part 4 and Mary visiting with us.

February 7th: Kimberlee Conway Ireton continuing with Circle of Seasons. 
February 14th, 21st, and 28th: Shiloh by Helena Sorensen and recommended by Elizabeth Trotter. Free on kindle! You can get the app and read on your computer or device.


  1. Sarah Hilkemann January 16, 2017

    There’s definitely a lot in this section! I might come back with more, but for right now I’ll say that I was really challenged by the chapter on idols and the questions to help us process that and look at our own hearts. It struck me as I read each statement and then each question in Chapter 9 that marriage has become an idol in my heart. Something that is a natural desire and something good to ask Jesus for, is the thing that I feel like will bring me meaning, value, significance and security. At times it feels like something I can’t live without, and I push Jesus away because He hasn’t answered that prayer of mine and I don’t understand why. I know that I have put the dream of marriage on the altar many times, and yet if I am not aware/careful, it can crawl right back off and take up position in my heart. Is Jesus enough for me? Can I come to a place of peace if God never brings me a husband? This has been challenging me as I ponder and keep working through this section of the book.

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2017

      Sarah, thank you for sharing what was stirred. I know you’re not alone in wondering when part of your “family” will change . . . be that getting married or having a baby or adopting. This being in process and not quite where we want to be can certainly turn into idols, can’t it?. Much love to you Sarah!

  2. Bethany Smith January 18, 2017

    “The Bible will never be safe. But it is precisely its authenticity that helps us see how powerful God’s redemptive plan was and is, how stunning God’s victory over sin and Satan became” (1721).

    Loved this quote! The longer I follow Jesus the more I experience that his story is not safe and comfortable but it is powerful and redemptive. Earlier in the chapter Mary writes that the Word of God is a weapon but it must be used by those who hold it in high regard. And Satan hates when believer’s do this. In a way this motivates me to daily be soaked in God’s word all the more and use God’s word as a weapon when I do feel attacked (this encourages me to memorize specific passages). It’s easy to get into a routine of Bible reading and I have noticed I sometimes rush through reading plans to just get it done. Thinking of God’s word as a weapon and daily remembering its importance has already helped me slow down and read from a place of worship and not duty.

    1. Amy Young January 19, 2017

      Bethany, I”ve been known to do that too . . . fly through what I’m reading in the Bible without really connecting. Your comment challenged me!!

  3. Hadassah January 21, 2017

    I’ve waited so long to comment, because there is so much I want to say! Sarah, I was also really challenged by the chapter on idols. Lately, I’ve been struggling with an over dependence on my smart phone. Its the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. The Lord has been telling me to put it aside, and I was just sure He’d have more to say about it in this chapter. And, He did. “When we allow our need for control to reign over our need for Jesus, we give Satan a foothold in our lives. We place ourselves on the throne of our lives, desperately trying to fill our needs and wants. Eventually, we become enslaved to lesser things” (like my phone which really fills my need for staying “connected” with others). But, the phone is nothing compared to my idol of control! WOW! Mary suggested that the cure for idolatry is to worship that which is higher, (from Timothy Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods). I’m working through what this means, but ultimately it boils down to me needing Jesus more. Thankfully, this week a good friend asked me to join an online Bible study group. I’m gonna work towards making God’s word (an actual Bible, not the app on my phone), what I reach for first in the morning and last at night. Hopefully, that will put my phone in its rightful place!

    The other chapter that really challenged me was the chapter on chasing healing. I may not have wounds like Mary’s to heal from, yet so much of it spoke to me, that I’m thinking there are some deep hurts that I really need God’s salve to make better. Mary explains how: “Realize that the hallmark of growth in the Christian life is self-awareness. The more you are aware of who you are, what motivates you, how you respond to wounding, what scares you, who pushes your buttons, why you’re afraid, and where you’re tempted, the more you’re able to discern the healing path.” One of my goals for this year is to live a life more like the one outlined in Ephesians 4: to put aside my old self and live the way Christ has called me to live. I can’t do that unless I really know who my old self is! And the main reason I want to do that is for the sake of my family. I want to love my family well, because I know I haven’t been doing that, and that’s why I need to chase healing.

    Lots more I could comment on, but I’ll leave it at this for now. Loving this book!

  4. Elizabeth January 22, 2017

    Just finished part two and reading this. I definitely agree with the statement about being more aware of spiritual warfare and it being amped up. I chose Joy as my word for this year and feel like everything going on around me in the last few weeks is challenging me to live in defeat, not joy. This book has been timely to help me be more aware of the battle. In part two I also was most impacted by the chapter on idolatry, particularly this quote, “When we allow our need for control to reign over our need for Jesus, we give Satan a foothold in our lives. We place ourselves on the throne of our lives, desperately trying to fill our needs and wants. Eventually, we become enslaved to lesser things” With so many things out of my control, it is sometimes hard to recognize that Jesus is still on the throne and that is his rightful place, not mine.

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