Restless DVD-Based Study Kit, Book Review

Restless: Because You Were Made for More DVD-Based Study Kit
by Jennie Allen

I’ve reviewed Jennie Allen’s book, Anything, and her study, Chase, and I come to the same conclusion even now as I review her newest study materials: Restless: Because You Were Made for More.  Jennie Allen always comes across as genuine.  That’s the beauty of her writing, the beauty of her DVD teaching.  I think that strikes a special chord with women who are looking for ‘real’ in this world.restless

Her study, Restless, is about finding our place in God’s story, how He has made us and what He has designed us to do.  She bookends the study of Joseph with a broader look at God’s plans and calling.  The sessions include: Getting Started, God’s Story, Gifts, Suffering, Places, People, Passions, and Mystery.

A study on this topic has to walk a particular balance.  We need to know that we’re serving with pure motives, but not be so focused on that that we fail to serve at all.  We need to find our spiritual gifts and obey God’s call, but we can’t strike out on our own with pride and ambition, valuing stage ministries, best-selling authors, and the like more than the service in our own homes and communities.  By focusing on God’s story first and then pushing forward to finding our spiritual gifts and passions, she gives that sense of balance that is needed.

Jennie Allen returns to the idea again and again of finding the threads of our life that appear mundane and trusting that God is in them and using them for His glory.  Working in our cubicle, changing that diaper—we can serve in the humblest of ways and still run with passion and purpose and not get caught up in comparing ourselves with others.

I love the truly unique format of her study kits. It comes with an eight-session DVD (each session is about 20 minutes long), one copy of the study guide, a leader’s guide, and a box of discussion cards.  The DVD sessions are really the perfect length—long enough to contribute to the lesson, but not so long that your small group has no time for sharing with each other rather than just listening to her teach.  The study is discussion-driven thanks to the box of cards with questions you use during the small group time.

Her DVD teaching sessions actually begin with real women sitting at a desk and answering some of the questions, including an opening moment with Jennie herself looking like you’d meet her at the Target—not dressed and made-up like a bestselling author and speaker—just ‘real’ Jennie.  These are some of my favorite moments in the study, hearing and connecting with their stories and journeys.

Jennie teaches from a re-purposed abandoned church in Texas outfitted with Mason jar vases and comfy couches and antique desks with a small group of women listening as she talks.  It’s lovely and cozy and inviting all the while her passionate teaching stirs up a desire to find your own place in God’s story.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Anything, Book Review

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul
by Jennie Allen

Breathtaking.  People use that word to describe physical beauty, like a bride on her wedding day or the ocean view out their vacation home or the first time they touch their feet onto African ground and view the landscape. It’s all so breathtaking.anything2

Me, sure I’m a lover of physical beauty, but it’s words that make me gasp for breath.  I’ve had a few books that make me suck in air when I sit down to read and after a few minutes it feels like I haven’t taken another breath.  Dishes don’t get done.  Laundry remains in a pile.  And then I look up. I’ve finished.  I gasp for air.

Jennie Allen’s book took my breath away.  It’s her writing, so raw and lovely, so rhythmic without being in-your-face poetic.  But it’s something more.  It’s because just over one year ago I told God that if I could have anything I wanted from Him, it’d be His glory.  Just be glorified, Lord.  And whatever you want me to do to glorify Your name, then I’d do it.

Jennie prayed that same prayer, but she used just one word: “Anything.”  She told God she’d do anything at all in obedience to Him and He took her up on her offer.  He messed with what she’d always wanted out of life and stirred up a desire in her heart for Him before everything .  . . and anything . . . else.

I found myself nodding my head with her pursuit of passion for God and the struggles, the difficult walk of obeying Him, because when He says, “Follow me,” it’s not always an easy jog to our destination.  Sometimes it’s an uphill hike or a marathon.

In some ways, this is just another book by an author challenging us to live radical lives because we’re so crazy in love with Jesus.  You’ve probably read books like this.  I’ve read them.  I’ve liked them.  But Jennie Allen’s book worked for me in a way the others didn’t.  She reminds us that sometimes this means moving to Africa to be missionaries, but sometimes it means moving close to your sick mother to care for her.

I’ve walked away from similar books disillusioned and frustrated sometimes because I want to be obedient to Christ and I don’t live a materialistic, comfy, self-focused life.  I desire to put Him first.  I want to do anything, give anything to live that radically obedient walk . . .but then God didn’t call me to full-time missions or urban ministry.   So, it seemed so illusory.  Makes for a great book, changes lives for others, never really changed mine.

Yet, Jennie Allen reminds us that we don’t get to pick and choose what God desires for us and how He uses us.  Sometimes the call He gives us seems small to others and insignificant in comparison to the ministry of those we see. We can’t please everyone along the way either.  The important thing is to do whatever He has said, big and small, simple and terribly risky, and do it because He said and that’s enough.

This is not one of Jennie Allen’s Bible studies, but it is a walk through two years of her life when she and her husband committed to doing anything God asked.  It’s fabulous for an individual read, maybe even a book club or small group looking for something different to read.  For those who want more of a Bible Study structure, I encourage you to check out her other resources.  I know I will.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”