Book Review: “The Dream of You” by Jo Saxton

Book Review: The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

"What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told youwho you were allowed to be?" — Jo Saxton, The Dream of You

IsisWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be Isis. From time to time (usually after watching the “Shazam! Isis Power Hour” on Saturday mornings), I would suddenly strike a pose, speak the magical phrase, “Oh, Mighty Isis!” and transform myself—mentally, at least—into a superhero goddess ready to use all my powers to fight against evil!

I loved everything about this nerdy female archaeologist with huge glasses and a secret superhero identity. (I’ve included a video at the bottom of this review for your entertainment.)

Who did you want to be? Do you remember? If so, feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d love to know!

Headshot of Jo Saxton, a Nigerian-Londoner with short natural hair and a beautiful smile.
Jo Saxton

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Jo Saxton. As a little girl growing up in London, author and speaker Jo Saxton had a dream: She wanted to be Wonder Woman. And I mean, she WANTED to BE Wonder Woman—red boots and all!

In case you are unfamiliar with this wonder of a woman, Jo is a Nigerian Londoner who currently resides in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.

Her book, The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For, traces Jo’s lifelong transition from childhood dreamer to adult achiever.

The Dream (and Struggle) of You

What I find so striking is the similarity between Jo’s struggles and my own—even though we are SO different!!! For example:

  • OppositesWe have completely different cultural backgrounds (immigrant vs. born citizen);
  • We were raised on two different continents (she in the UK; me in the US);
  • We have different personality types (she’s an ENTJ; I’m an INTJ);
  • We have different enneagrams (she’s an 8, and I’m a 1);
  • We have opposite body types (probably because she doesn’t like chocolate and I do!)

We are basically opposite, and yet our struggles were/are very much the same. How is this possible?

On her quest to explore the different things that held her back or kept her from moving forward in her own life, Jo dug deep and discovered that the root causes of her brokenness, although personal, were not unique to her. They were, in fact, quite common to the human experience—especially that of women.

And like any good Bible teacher, she found biblical examples for each struggle!

The Struggle Is Real

Weaving the story of her own life’s journey together with that of Joseph, Esther, David, Naomi, Hagar, Ezekiel, and others, the author reveals thread-by-thread that God is present with us through our most difficult experiences, and how they add color, dimension, and texture to our character.

Jo Saxton Live Video ChatOver the past few months, I’ve been privileged to interact with Jo as she discussed her book and her thoughts behind the various stories she shares in it. Reflecting on the first few chapters, she said,

There are times when we have an earthquake in our souls, habits, the way we live. We don’t simply rise up and get over it…but we also don’t want to be defined by it the rest of our lives.”

The Dream of You was never intended to be  a survival manual. It’s about wholeness and redemption and purpose.

The first part of the book not only prompts us to reflect on what (or whom) we’ve allowed to define us but also challenges us to re-imagine what life could be like moving forward: Mended. WHOLE.

It's Powerful

Jo explains the profound impact negative and destructive comments and experiences have on us—minimizing nothing. These experiences simply underscore the reason she wrote the book: to remind us that there is wholeness to be found in relationship with a redeeming God.

When the grit and guts of your broken identity meet the grace and goodness of God, it will reveal you, but He will transform you. You’re in Him now, with all His resources available to you. You have access to His power, mercy, and grace.” (p. 21, emphasis mine)

Each chapter in the The Dream of You begins with a short, heartfelt letter from the author to the reader. In it she offers words of encouragement while setting the stage for the theme of that particular section.

Jo expounds on each theme by sharing a formative experience from her own life as well as a similar story from the Bible, and you don’t have to be familiar with the Bible to benefit from this! Jo has provided quick summaries and backstories of each character so the reader will not be lost in the explanation.

Then, without the use of a Venn Diagram, the author focuses her attention on the intersection of the stories, exposing the root of the issue. She culls out transformative biblical truths and challenges the reader to face the facts in her (or his) own life. She concludes the chapter with suggested action steps geared towards fostering personal growth and spiritual maturity.

Book Flow & Themes

The chapter titles, though creative, are pretty vague if you haven’t read the book yet; therefore, I complied a list of themes (noted in parentheses) followed by one or more of my favorite quotes from that chapter to provide a more helpful overview of the text:

  • Introduction (Dreams)
    “What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told you who you were allowed to be?” (p. 3)
    .
  • Chapter 1: Don’t Call Me “Pleasant” (Insecurity)
    “Insecurities, if left unaddressed, can grow from momentary emotions to a definitive worldview that determines how we feel, think, and act. Insecurity becomes our identity.” (p. 12)
    .
  • Chapter 2: What’s in a Name? (Compromise/Hiding)
    “Throughout biblical history, God transformed people…God changed the names of people and in doing so changed their stories.” (p. 35)
    .
  • Chapter 3: The Talk (Perfectionism)
    “Many of us know what it feels like to hide our identities in order to survive. We do what it takes to fit into our family, our workplace, our friendship group. We spend our energy trying to fit into our context, into society, into what is demanded of us according to someone else’s terms.” (p. 44)
    .
    “God wants to redeem it all. Rather than your being transformed into a broken identity by the pressures of your world, He wants to transform you to recover who you fully are. Are you ready to be led toward redemptive wholeness, even when you might still fear for your survival?” (p. 56)
    .
  • Chapter 4: The Day I Lost My Voice (Bullying)
    “At times, women apologize for who they are. They minimize their abilities as if they’re expecting someone to tell them they’re arrogant for having talent, ability, and dreams. Some women, particularly those who reach high levels of influence in their field, are plagued by what is known as Imposter Syndrome, or the impostor experience.” (p. 66)
    .
    “When our voice has been taken, we redirect our lives toward ‘more acceptable’ interests. We excuse the damage caused by having been silenced…we make ourselves small.” (p. 68)
    .
  • Chapter 5: God’s Child (Redemption)
    “If we are going to embrace our full identity, know our name, and live out our vocation as we speak with our true voice, if we are going to embrace who we are and what we’re living for, we need to know whose we are.” (p. 82)
    .
    “The things that once defined you don’t have to shape you forever. He [God] transforms your entire life.” (p. 88)

    .
  • Chapter 6: Known and Loved (Vulnerability)
    “You are fully known. He has seen it all and He knows it all. And still you are deeply, deeply loved.” (p. 108)
    .
  • Chapter 7: Slay Your Giants (Courage)
    “It seems that when God redeems a person’s identity and leads her to her purpose, there’s a backdrop of battle and vulnerability.” (p. 112)
    .
    “You will battle the giants that stand in your way, but when you do, don’t even try to fight in someone else’s armor.” (p. 122)
    .
  • Chapter 8: The Wander Years (Refinement)
    “Even with abundant examples in Scripture, when the wilderness experience makes up part of our faith journey, we may not always understand when and why it’s happening.” (p. 132)
    .
    “Wandering in the wilderness exposed the truth that in order to be fully free, the Israelites didn’t just need to get out of Egypt. They needed to get Egypt out of them.” (pp. 136-137)

    .
  • Chapter 9: In the Valley (Doubt and Discouragement)
    “Had I been wrong when I felt called…Or worse, was it just some fantasy idea that I’d decided was a divine calling? Who did I think I was?” (p. 153)
    .
    “We feel too crushed to feel known and loved; we are convinced we have nothing left to offer as a voice or purpose…We’re at the end of ourselves; we are forced to face what life has done to us. It’s tempting to mute our pain rather than face it.” (p. 155)

    .
  • Chapter 10: Breaking up with Perfection (Authenticity)
    “Survival is not the same as being whole.” (p. 168)
    .
    “Are you ready to confront your brokenness, rather than keep hiding it underneath greater efforts to prove yourself to others?” (p. 170)
    .
  • Chapter 11: The Song in My Heart (Community)
    “You’ll need people who see you and know you, people unafraid to remind you of the fullness of who you are. They won’t be threatened by you because they are the kind of women who celebrate who you are. You need people who want to hear your voice and don’t mind how loud it gets. People who get excited about your dreams and your unfolding purpose.” (p. 173)
    .
    “God provides people to help us. Sometimes they’re further along in the journey, and they’ve seen more…They’ll celebrate resurrection of your name over the things that have falsely renamed you, and they’ll keep encouraging you.” (p. 185)

    .
  • Chapter 12: Practices (Disciplines)
    “We don’t adopt practices to prove ourselves or to perform for God’s approval. We already are seen, known, and loved. Instead, the practices make room in our overscheduled lives for God to meet with us. We find that by making time for God’s engagement with us, we are changed, transformed, redeemed.” (p. 192)
    .
  • Chapter 13: Pick up Your Keys (Stepping into Your Purpose)
    “A healthy identity opens our life to abundant purpose…There is less of me—of my self-absorption and self-protection—and there is more room for others. There’s less energy spent striving, proving, and more room for dreaming.” (p. 210)
    .
  • Epilogue (Action)
    “Let’s not allow a sense of inadequacy to tell us we’re not ready or not enough for the task.” (p. 219)
    .
    “Maybe we’ll remember to be tender and nonjudgmental as we remember our own stories.” (p. 220) 

It’s EASY for me to recommend The Dream of You because it is well-written, organized, funny, engaging, well-researched, insightful, empowering, and theologically accurate.

But what I would like to add is this: On every level, the teachings contained herein resonated with me. Jo’s journey mirrors my own—not on the outside, but on the inside. 

And I can testify that what Jo offers you in this book is the same thing I would offer you in my own book: Truth. God is faithful and ready to redeem the years the locusts have eaten (cf. Joel 2:25-27). He can take what was meant for evil and flip it for good. In fact, He does it all the time.

Are You Ready?

The question is, are you ready to recover the The Dream of You? If so, then you have found the right resource with which to start your journey. I highly recommend this to women of all ages, but especially those who have been waiting on God for what feels like a very long time.

🎧 Jo has also recorded an audio version which you will LOVE, if you’re into audio books. 

With no further ado, meet my childhood superhero: Isis.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

One Word. Choose It Wisely.

Laura Zielke

I cannot believe it’s already November and Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in about two weeks! What?! Where did the year go? And what will next year bring? 

Over the past few years, I’ve traded in my old, rusty New Year’s Eve tradition for something modern and efficient. And I can testify that the results of this new habit have been pretty darn fabulous!

I’m talking about choosing a one-word theme for the year versus creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions which may or may not be achieved. 

Back towards the end of 2013, I first learned about the “one word” challenge on the radio and thought I’d give it a try. I’ll be honest: I don’t actually remember what my first “one word” was. I think I gave the process about as much thought as my resolutions were getting around that time in my life. I certainly didn’t embrace the process!

2014 was probably the hardest year of my life ever. I felt lost. Alone. Sad. Confused. Overwhelmed. Depressed. Worn-out. As the end of 2014 approached, my favorite radio morning show hosts were once again discussing the “one word challenge.” This time, I paid closer attention. 

The concept was birthed out of a desire to address failed New Year’s resolutions. According to Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, co-authors of My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word, our resolutions tend to fail because they focus on characteristics we want to change versus who we want to become. The list can become overwhelming and yield little results. 

The My One Word challenge is simple: lose the long the list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you in the year ahead. This process forces clarity and results in focus. (website)

I decided that for 2015, I would take the one word challenge and write it down this time. So, my word for 2015 was “CLARITY.” I felt like I had been living in a fog, so clarity seemed like the perfect word for me at the time.

Phew! I had no idea at the beginning of the year just how much clarity I would receive regarding my life, my priorities, and my passions. I was tested beyond anything I could imagine, and my vision became very clear. 

For 2016, I chose “DISCERNMENT” (while secretly holding onto “clarity” from the year before). Over the course of 2016, I needed discernment regarding all kinds of choices and commitments for both me and my family. 

By end of 2016, I was already praying about what my word for 2017 would be. I eventually landed on “COURAGE.” If you’ve followed me for any time, it’s possible you knew that, because I wrote about it on my Facebook page and created a cover image to explain it.

Here’s what I wrote on December 29, 2016 when I posted the above photo on my Facebook page: 

So, my #oneword for 2017 is COURAGE. I chose this photo, because it was during one of the most courageous moments I’ve had in my life: Putting on chains by myself in the middle of a freak snowstorm on the first day of my drive home from California to North Carolina.

(I was the only driver–my son is too young to drive, but not too young to take pictures of mom with the chains!) I first had to purchase the chains…in case we needed them, and then when we did, install them.

I got the process started, but then God provided three French men and one French woman to help get them on correctly. I still had to take them off by myself in five inches of slush. But I did it.

And if I can do this, and then continue driving for HOURS and DAYS… I can do whatever comes my way in 2017. (Phil. 4:13) What’s your ONE WORD for 2017?

Back then, I honestly had no idea what lay on the horizon for 2017—which has been one of the most fulfilling, busy, exciting years of my life! Here are just a few things I got to do this year: 

  1. WRITE one devotional every month to be featured on RachaelCarman.com
  2. ESTABLISH Prayat12.com to pray about the 2016 election and for the leaders of this country every day at Noon.
  3. babymPinch-hit BABYSIT for 2 months for dear friends who are foster parents. The little baby who stole all our hearts had been in the hospital for one month due to apparent abuse. He had multiple surgeries, required a feeding tube (which he still has), and a neckbrace which he wore for six months. 
  4. Help LAUNCH two books, one online Bible study, and one movie:
  5. Accept the COMMUNITY MANAGER position with the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  6. ATTEND a Pre-Grand Opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

I also turned 50 this year. I cannot even believe that. Where has the time gone? I don’t feel that old, and yet, my knees don’t lie: I’m 50. 

the deckFor my 50th birthday, my hubby, son, and I rented our first Airbnb in Plymouth, MA. I sat on a deck overlooking a lake and enjoyed a week’s vacation with my family. On the way there, we saw the Statue of Liberty and a 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. We used our cottage in Plymouth as a hub and enjoyed touring the Northeast. We ate Maine Lobster in Maine on my actual birthday; visited the oldest Marine Society in the world and touched an artifact from 1752; toured the U.S.S. Constitution; and We toured many historical sites and enjoyed a few too many Dunkin’ Donuts. 

I’ve already begun praying about my word for 2018. I think it will be “STRETCH,” but I’m letting it marinate for a while before I fully commit. 

I definitely prefer having one word for the year versus a list of resolutions which may or may not be kept! 

You can learn more about the One Word Challenge at MyOneWord.org.

Why stay the same?! Please join me in this transofrmational process and choose one word for 2018. Share your one word in the comments below! 

“Remarkable Faith” by Letellier

Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled at the Faith of Unremarkable People

Has a trial (or a truckload of trials) ever left you feeling isolated? Hopeless? Defeated? I mean, you didn’t start out that way. At the beginning of the trial, you were active in community, full of hope and vigor, up for the challenge of whatever came your way.

Setbacks? No problem!

Delays? I can wait!

Illness? I’ll get well in no time!

But the road to recovery was a lot longer than you—or anyone in your circle of influence—were expecting. One by one the friends dropped away, because they couldn’t force your pain to exit stage right. They couldn’t control you or your situation, so they left.  

Or maybe they didn’t drop away. They tried to stay, but you—feeling weak, worn out, and unworthy—began to isolate yourself. It was easier to be alone than to have to explain to one more person what you were going through and listen to their well-meaning, yet utterly useless advice. Solitude was a good thing. For a while. 

As you began to reflect on your situation—comparing your situation to the outcome of Bible hero stories from your childhood—you might have begun to wonder whether or not you ever had faith at all.

But you did have faith, and the fact that you continue(d) to look to God for deliverance or healing is a sign that yours is the exact type of faith Jesus finds remarkable. Don’t give up.

Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled at the Faith of Unremarkable People will be an encouragement to you or a friend with chronic illness—Jesus sees you. He hears your cries. You are not alone. 

Shauna Letellier has written a profoundly insightful and painstakingly researched book retelling the stories of eight unremarkable, unnamed men and women whose “lives were marked by desperation, pain, fatigue, hopelessness, disability, poverty, loneliness, and sin. Each of them sought Jesus in unabashed desperation (p. xiii),” and Jesus found their faith remarkable. 

Remarkable Faith begins with a brief compare and contrast between the apostles and the afflicted. Letellier makes her case concisely, and there is no arguing with her point:

“Remarkable faith is often grown in the broken soil of desperation.” (p. 174)

It really is amazing, when you think about it: Jesus marveled at the faith of strangers who remain to this day unnamed and known to us only by their afflictions. 

With bridled creative liberty, Letellier has beautifully written an imagined backstory to each of the eight vignettes we read in the Gospels. Steeped in the Scriptures and cultural context, the characters come to life as they unabashedly seize their opportunity to interact with Jesus. 

Book CoverLetellier defines remarkable faith as “the braided strands of doubt, hope, and wonder at a God who is able to do anything and sometimes restrains his power for reasons we rarely understand.” (p. 15) 

The eight characters whose stories are re-imagined are: 

  1. The Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy
  2. The Paralyzed Man
  3. The Roman Centurion
  4. The Hemorrhaging Woman
  5. The Samaritan Leper
  6. The Mother of a Demon-Possessed Girl
  7. Blind Bartimaeus
  8. A Forgiven Woman 

Remarkable Faith is a mix of fictional retelling and factual application. The author imagines each person’s backstory tracing the moments immediately leading up to and through his or her encounter with Jesus Christ. 

The structure of each chapter is built to take you through one character’s faith journey at a time followed by a time of reflection, application, and prayer. 

  1. Bible passage
  2. Dramatic retelling
  3. Reflection
  4. Application
  5. Prayer

First, you will read the story straight from the Gospels. Following this is a dramatic, fictionalized retelling of the story which engages the senses and emotions.

Then, the reader is challenged to take a closer look at the person’s remarkable faith. The author is skilled at teasing out the underlying lesson(s) in the story and bringing the reader to a place of self-examination. 

Each chapter ends with a prayer to apply the lessons learned and insights gained as a result of the study. 

Although I did not agree with some of the author’s assumptions and creative liberties, I think the book is a valuable and necessary addition to the faith conversation. We need to study these characters as much as (if not more than) Bible heroes such as Noah, Moses, Samson, David, and Daniel.

Remarkable Faith could provoke great conversations in a youth group or small group setting. I definitely recommend reading the creative backstories with an open-mind. Give yourself permission to look at the story from a different perspective, and ask God what He wants you to learn from each one. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

Life Is Like a Box of Puzzle Pieces

Life is like a box of puzzle pieces

Are you someone who enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles? If so, do you top out at 500 pieces, or are you a glutton for punishment preferring 1000+? I’m not a jigsaw fanatic, but I enjoy working on a good puzzle every now and then. My favorite moment in the puzzling process occurs when I finally locate a piece that has been eluding me, setting off a string of easy matches.

Image result for thomas moran grand canyon with rainbow
Pretty sure this is the one we bought.

My mother-in-law loves “puzzling,” and has framed a couple of the more beautiful puzzles she’s completed over the years. When we were at the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we purchased a stunning 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for her as a souvenir. The image was an artist’s rendering of a view from the South Rim overlooking the Canyon at sunset. It was gorgeous! If you close your eyes, you can probably imagine what it looked like; however, I seriously doubt that you would attempt this puzzle without the box right in front of you. Most puzzlers refer to the picture on the box repeatedly to make sure they are headed in the right direction.

So, what if I were to tell you that life is more like a box of puzzle pieces than a box of chocolates? It is. Not only do you “never know what you’re gonna get,” but neither will one bite help you figure it out! You just have to live it. One funky-cut piece at a time. 

Click here to continue reading this
devotional reflection on GOD’S PROVISION at
Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

“Being Brave Is Hard” (Poem)

Being Brave Is Hard

Being Brave Is Hard
by Laura Zielke

God doesn’t always ask us to do the easy things.
Sometimes He asks us to do the hard things.
I mean HARD. Really hard!
Something we could NEVER do under our own strength.
Something we would never do without HIS prodding.
Something requiring EVERY OUNCE of courage we have (plus more).
It will be UNCOMFORTABLE.
CHALLENGING.
DARING.
TOO BIG.
And it will have serious CONSEQUENCES.
Consequences we CANNOT control.
Consequences which may
—or may not—
be in our favor.
It’s almost TOO MUCH to ask.

But then, the choice IS ours, isn’t it?
We have FREEDOM of choice.

We could choose to OBEY.
To be BRAVE.
To let God take care of any CONSEQUENCES.
Because it’s not about us, is it?

OR

We could choose to SHUT DOWN.
Close our eyes. Plug our ears.
Sing “fa la la la la” until it all goes away.
Because,
in the end,
it’s all about us, isn’t it?
Our comfort.
Our strength.
Our reputations.

Bottom line:
It’s a choice.

Oh, LORD.
Make me strong!
Make me HEAR your voice.
Help me KNOW it’s YOU,
not I,
who is calling me to this
difficult task.

Help me rely on YOUR strength.
Guide me by YOUR Spirit.
Give me words to speak–
only YOUR words to speak.
Keep ME out of it.

And somehow…
Some way…
Make YOUR will known.

Even if it means people think differently about me.
Even if the consequences are unfavorable.
Place YOUR words in my heart, and light them on fire.
Let them burn in my soul until I have garnered
the strength to speak them.
Out loud.
To deliver YOUR message to the recipients.
And let me leave NOTHING out.
Let me speak every word.
And then let me walk away in peace.
For I have done what was required of me.
And I answer only to YOU.

Amen.

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,’
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.”
Jeremiah 20:9

Book Review: “Detours” by Dr. Tony Evans

Book Review: "Detours" by Tony Evans

Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny is the first book I’ve read by Dr. Tony Evans, and I experienced two distinct reactions to it: resonance and repulsion. I’m happy to report that the good definitely outweighed the bad, and I learned a few practical tips to help discern God’s hand in my life. 

I think the book was written for people who, like me, have felt as if they’d been called to do something specific and purposeful, waited for YEARS, and have yet to see the vision become reality. (I blogged about that here and here.)

Resonance – What I Loved about Detours 

Detours is an in-depth case study of the life of Joseph (based on Genesis 37-50) packed with impactful insights, practical advice, and encouragement to weary Christ followers to stay the course and finish the race marked out before us.

When your destiny is in God’s hands and you are trusting God with all your heart—in spite of your circumstances, mistakes, detours, and distractions—no one can block what God has for you.” (p. 153)

The premise of Detours revolves around God’s creating each individual human being for a specific purpose—a Kingdom purpose—and our experiencing fulfillment in the arrival of our destiny. He explains how God rarely (if ever) takes a person from the cradle to his or her destiny without a number of different detours along the way.

By the time you’re finished with the book, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is a divine detour?
  • Why are detours necessary?
  • How do I know I’m on a detour, and not merely being distracted?
  • How do I know God is with me on this detour?
  • What am I supposed to be doing while I’m waiting for my destiny?
  • How does my past figure into my future?
  • Is there anything I can do to get off this detour and back on the road?
  • How long do I have to wait before I reach my destiny?

Evans posits that while some detours are created to develop certain skills, habits, and disciplines within us so that we can properly handle our destiny, other detours are self-inflicted thanks to poor decisions we’ve made along the way.

 

If God is not ready to deliver you from it, look for Him in it.” (p. 74)

The good news is that God can flip anything the enemy means for evil for our good (cf. Genesis 50:20), and He will fulfill our destiny when the time is right.

Repulsion – What Annoyed Me in Detours 

The author’s casual, conversational writing style reflects a pastor’s heart and is filled with real-life illustrations much like a sermon would be. As someone very familiar with the story of Joseph, I found the detailed retelling (and re-retelling) of the milestones in his life unnecessary; however, someone unfamiliar will certainly benefit from this effort. 

It was not long before I deduced that Detours was doubtlessly a sermon or sermon series developed into a book. The main development tool must have been a Thesaurus, because the repetition in the book became bothersome.

While I can understand repeating key points and phrases when speaking to a live audience—and I am hopeful those who purchase the audiobook will appreciate it—as a reader, I was repulsed reading the same point multiple times within a few paragraphs. I would highlight a profound statement only to have it repeated—almost word-for-word—in the next paragraph, and/or again on the next page! Thank God for Thesaurus.com, huh? Honestly, I got it the first time. The repetition felt like filler. (There were also a couple of non-sentences that bugged me because they made no sense at all.)

And, then there was the unexpected switcheroo in the conclusion where the author—instead of recapping the lessons learned from Joseph’s life as expounded throughout the book—chose Ruby Slippersto insert an incredibly well-known and previously un-mentioned fictional character and story line to illustrate his point. I found the introduction of Dorothy and her companions form the “Wizard of Oz” to be completely out of place and the allegorization of the movie’s cast and plot unnecessary and distracting. (There may have been a moment when I clicked my heels three times to get back to Kansas Joseph…and it worked!) Dr. Evans does, in the end, recap Joseph’s journey and the practical life lessons learned along the way. He challenges us to pay attention to the pattern of promotions in Scripture: From Abraham to Joseph and Moses to Esther, we are reminded that our destiny has a kingdom purpose.

Your destiny and kingdom purpose often involve both a hookup and a hope to people beyond yourself. Look for both as God guides you.” (p. 199)

Detours is the kind of book I wish I had read in my twenties, although I’m not sure my twenty-year-old self would have embraced the truths contained in these pages. I highly recommend the book to anyone who finds himself or herself in a holding pattern or on a “never-ending” detour. You will be encouraged and your hope, refreshed. Pastors, church leaders, mentors, and coaches will benefit from the memorable and easily transferable lessons contained herein. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Publishers (LifeWay) as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”