Review: Why Her?

Why Her

Gentle Reader,

Comparison. A trap that keeps us stuck in “less than” mode. A snare that hinders us from developing relationships. A prison that slams its doors faster than we can blink.

Such an ugly word. Such an ugly trait.

I first “met” Nicki Koziarz earlier this year through her study on the book of Ruth, 5 Habits of a Woman who Doesn’t Quit. She is a warm and witty writer, creating an atmosphere of coziness between herself and the reader. I could easily imagine curling up on a couch, cup of coffee in hand, as she and I had a quiet, unrushed conversation. For one such as myself who is admittedly not the best at navigating relationships (why can’t everyone just be logical?), I am very drawn to people like Koziarz who go out of their way to say (or write), “Hey. You’re safe here. We can be real.”

Why Her? is a very real book. Koziarz doesn’t sugar-coat her story and struggles, nor does she shy away from the sordid details of the biblical account of Jacob, Leah and Rachel, a classic case-study in comparison and jealousy if there ever was one. Two women forced to share a husband. One beloved by that husband, the other tolerated. Competition for babies. Drama. Bitterness.

It’s not pleasant.

In the first chapter, Koziarz writes,

When anything other than God becomes our everything, disappointment is soon to follow.

– p. 18

That single sentence is a sermon all on its own. The rest of the book rests on coming to grips with the fact that God knows best. What other women possess or accomplish does not have to be threatening. Their successes do not have to prompt us to jealousy or self-loathing. If we can embrace God as our everything, trusting that He designed and gifted us in ways that bring Him glory and pleasure, we can break free of the comparison trap.

When our desires are front and center and we experience what feels like rejection, we can become so easily offended. Offended by God. Offended by others. Offended for ourselves. But I’ve learned something about all this. Being offended is not a condition inflicted on us. It’s a stance we choose.

– p. 139

Koziarz is right. While it’s natural and even normal to feel sorrow if someone else gets the opportunity we were hoping for, it’s not healthy for us to dwell in that sorrow. We get to choose how we handle the emotions attendant to disappointment and rejection. We get to decide if we will see the world through the lens of competition or the lens of collaboration.

I’m convinced one reason we struggle with a sense of lack in comparison with others stems from the lack of gratitude for what we’ve been given. Without gratitude, our gains in life don’t last very long. Those who sustain their ability to carry out God-assignments are those who walk quietly, humbly and with grateful confidence in what He’s given them.

– p. 157

Quietness, humility and gratefulness do not come easily to us. We have to ask the Holy Spirit for eyes to see the blessings that He has given us and for the ability to celebrate the blessings He gives others. Koziarz shares several practical tips throughout the book that help the reader in this quest. Additionally, she poses simple yet thought-provoking questions that will stay with the reader well beyond the last page.

The world is not kind to women. We are always too much or not enough. Sadly, we have learned to be unkind to ourselves, tearing down when we should be building up, competing when we should be celebrating. Why Her? calls us to embrace and empower each other as the sisters we are. This is God’s good plan for His daughters, the holy warrior-princesses who have no need for arrogance or self-loathing because they know who and Whose they are.



Five Minute Friday: Need

Along the Way @

Gentle Reader,

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

– Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 119:1-2 (NKJV)

There are days when I see a whole lot more conflict than blessing. The psalmist must have had moments when he thought, “Eh, nah, troubled is the man who delights in the law of the Lord.” Inevitably, it seems, the one who truly, desperately wants to obey and please God will butt heads with others, often quite unexpected others. And then that one gets to sit back and wonder why those others get away with the things they do.

A tale, as they say, as old as time.

Father, help me to remember that stooping to their level is no good. Blessing really is found on the higher road, the only one that leads to You. Even if I can’t see it or feel it right now.

Kate says: need.


Best be keeping this one simple.

If you call yourself a Christian, you need to read the Bible. You need to devour it. You need to love it.  You need to soak the pages with your tears and look up the words you don’t understand. You need to pay attention to how pastors and teachers interpret and apply passages. You need to learn how to interpret and apply for yourself.

This world is full of voices and ideologies and philosophies. You need to know what is true, good and pure in order to recognize what is false, bad and gross. You need to make a conscious choice to submit yourself to the commands that stretch across the thin pages, commands from God Himself.

You need to stop making excuses. You have time. You’re smart.

Get in there. Do the thing.

It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.

– John Wesley



Five Minute Friday: Guide

Along the Way @

Gentle Reader,

Completely spaced the fact that yesterday was Thursday and the crew was gathering for the Twitter chat. Not that I would have been able to participate, anyway. Had an eye appointment the resulted in numb, dilated eyes and a headache. Such is the fun of that yearly exam.

Kate asks us to think about: guide.


I have no sense of direction.

Really. Whatever way I am facing is North.

My mom and I went to an antique/junk/shabby chic/craft show last Saturday. I decided to be brave and drive us there, just so long as she would navigate. Good thing that she’s reliable, because I had no idea where I was, what turns I needed to make, or how to replicate the path to get back home. After perusing the treasures for awhile, we made our way up to one of our favorite bookstores. At this point, I argued with her and insisted that the store was on the right-hand side of the road.

It wasn’t.

Honestly, I’m surprised that I’m allowed to go anywhere by myself, let alone have a drivers license.

Later, as I thought about our day, my mind drifted to Psalm 119:

Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

– vs. 97-104 (NKJV)

When it comes to the important things of life – how to know and love God, how to love others – none of us has any clue. We don’t know which way to go. All natural paths lead straight to our own belly buttons, because we believe ourselves to be the center of the universe. How gracious of the Lord, then, to drop 66 books, written over centuries, across cultures and languages, into our laps. How kind of Him to say, “This is the way. Walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

We don’t have to be lost. We don’t have to panic. God is ever-near, speaking through the words on the thin pages or the smartphone screens. His Spirit breathes life into the ink and graces our minds with understanding. We don’t have to wander. We don’t have to attempt to cut our own path blindly in the darkness.

So, perhaps we should stop viewing the Bible as such a great burden. Perhaps we should learn to love and cherish it. Perhaps we should study it hungrily, eagerly.

Just a thought.



The LORD Your God in Your Midst: Conclusion

The LORD, the Mighty One

Gentle Reader,

I almost quit.

It’s true.

I never expected to spend half the year blogging through Zephaniah. It’s three chapters! Around week 18, I realized that what began as a project for my own edification had turned into a chore. I’m not sure exactly when or how or why it happened. I began to dread Monday mornings and the stack of books and the research. The joy leaked out bit by bit until none was left.

That is where the discipline part of writing comes in. Having published one book and gearing up to begin the process of publication for a second, I know there are days when it’s all about gritting your teeth and slamming the keys. Writing can be so fulfilling, so fun. It can also be the longest, slowest slog.

I am glad I stuck with it, because God, as usual, is fascinating in His timing. We have lived in the hopeful passages for the entirety of the Advent season. I didn’t plan that. I had no plan when I began this, no set end date (though I never imagined I’d be closing this out six months and two weeks after starting). In His mystery, He moved me, the writer, and you, the reader, to see the grace and light in a book that many ignore. He opened our eyes to the real and deep consequences of sin, but didn’t leave us drowning there in the muck. He took us through the whole process of punishment and forgiveness and restoration, ending on the distant strains of kingdom music just as our mouths began to fill with Christmas songs.

How like Him.

How very like Him.

Every book of the Bible tells the whole story, but cannot be fully understood apart from the others. We’ll never make sense of that. All we can do is strive to live in the middle, resisting the urge to pick out the things we like and toss the rest. Every narrative, poem, allegory, oracle and letter contains the arc of sin and salvation, fall and uplift. Every line is rich, yet not fully grasped as a treasure without the others.

It is my earnest desire that you step away from this series with a solid foundation in how to study the Bible. Your interpretations may be different from mine. That’s okay. What matters is that you now know how to approach that big book. You’ve been exposed to commentaries, word searches and songs. You’ve read articles and answered questions. You know now that there is no “just Jesus and me” Christianity; that you need the input of other believers, both in your “real life” and from within the long tradition of the faith, to help you learn and live. Most importantly, you know now that you are, in fact, smart enough to study the Bible and that you do, in fact, have time to do so.

Yet my heart beats with a desire greater still than this. I hope that you come away with love. Love for the Bible, yes, but love for the God of the Bible. Maybe you didn’t know a thing about Him before reading this. Maybe you’ve known Him for years but have drifted away. Or maybe everything is perfectly fine. Wherever you are in relation to the Lord, I hope that your soul reverberates with, “I love You, too.”

God loved us long before we ever loved Him. He has said over and over, through every splash of ink in sacred writ and down through the ages. “I love you, child. I love you.”

May we love Him, too.


For all entries in The LORD Your God in Your Midst series, go here.