Addie Zierman

What I’m Into: May 2014 Edition

It’s officially June! Which means it’s time for the May wrap-up/What I’m Into post. I started participating in Leigh Kramer’s link-up a few months ago and I’ve found it’s a fun way to review what’s gone on in the previous month and read other people’s suggestions for new things I may not have heard of.

What I’m Reading

I haven’t read a huge quantity of books this month, but the books I’ve read have been long and good. And I have quite a few things on-deck for next month

wise man's fearThe Wise Man’s Fear
by Patrick Rothfuss. I started the month with The Wise Man’s Fear – the book that follows Name of the Wind in the Kingkiller chronicles. It did not disappoint. There are times that this book feels a little winding and unfocused, but it’s hard not to love each individual part anyway. The prose is really spectacular and the characters are complex and engaging. It’s a hefty 1,000 pages, but well worth the time.


book thiefThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I had actually read part of this book way back when we were still living in the US, but I had borrowed it from the library and didn’t finish it before we moved so I had to return it. It was on sale a while back as a cheap kindle book so I went ahead and purchased it so I could eventually finish reading it. There was no reason except for unfortunate circumstances that I didn’t finish this book earlier because it is a gem and a quick read. This book has gotten a fair amount of attention and I think rightly so. The characters are unique and interesting and the story is moving. I sobbed through the ending. I think it’s the best WWII fiction book I’ve ever read.

carry on, warriorCarry on, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, by Glennon Melton. This book was an easy read that was mostly a delight. Not only is Glennon hilarious, but she writes in such a familiar way you feel like you’re sitting at a coffee shop having a chat with a good friend. While I don’t subscribe to all of her views on life, there’s a lot about Glennon’s writing that I really appreciate and resonate with – especially her emphasis on showing grace to yourself and allowing yourself and others to be the messy human beings that we are and find beauty in that anyway. Glennon is a recovering alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, etc and in spite of it all has such a hopeful outlook on life even with its messy bits. I especially like Glennon’s mantra that “We can do hard things.”

Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I’m not quite finished with this one, but I’m including it this month anyway since I’ve read most of it in May. I’ve found this to be both highly entertaining and well-written. My friend Josh recommended it to me by describing it as part Oceans 11, part swashbuckling pirates which sounded like a winning combination to me.! I’m not quite finished with it yet, but it’s been great fun and I look forward to reading the other books in Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series.



On Deck: I’ve got a lot of books queued up and waiting for me to “click to buy” on Amazon, but I think my next few books will be Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and maybe Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. I’ll probably also sneak some sort of light fiction book in there for my long weekend at the beach. Honestly…I have like 20 books on the “read ASAP” list with new ones popping up on my radar almost every day, so we’ll see what happens. If you want the play-by-play you can follow me on Goodreads.

signature of all thngs

bird by birddaring greatly

What I’m Watching

I’ve finished all the episodes of Call the Midwife available to me on Netflix, so naturally I’m listless and depressed by that. We are still catching up on a few season finales but have finished up some of our favorites including Parks and Recreation, Mindy Project, New Girl, and Community.  In new discoveries, I’ve become fascinated by Anthony Bourdain’s series, Parts Unknown which explores both food and culture in different parts of the world (two of my favorite things). There are two incomplete seasons on Netflix that I am working my way through haphazardly.

In movies, we recently saw the new X-Men movie. Twice actually. I thought it was fantastically entertaining despite some weird plot holes. (SPOILER ALERT: So a mutant drops a stadium on the White House and tries to kill the President, but then everyone decides the mutants aren’t dangerous because one of them saves the President? Sure, they proved that not all of the mutants are bad, but Magneto just got away!)

I’ve got a big thing for James MacAvoy, so watching him is always enjoyable. And as much as I hate to follow the crowd, I do still love J-Law, so it’s always a pleasure to watch her. I will say though, I remain perplexed by the supposed controversy about her body… I hear in the media all the time her saying things like, “I’m sorry! I like to eat! I don’t want to look like a pre-pubescent boy, I want to look like a woman!” and then I see her more or less naked in this movie and think, “Who the heck thinks you’re fat?! That has to be made-up.” Because not only is she objectively thin, she also has this killer body!

We also saw the new Amazing Spiderman movie at the beginning of the month and I really like the new franchise in spite of my initial misgivings. Andrew Garfield is a superb on-screen crier. And I’ve always liked Spiderman’s smart-alecky ways.


What I’m Listening To

My amazingly talented friend Avery Bright has a new EP out called Under the Influence that everyone should listen to. You can even get a Free Download here!


What I’m Eating

I’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes lately and while this hasn’t been a great thing for my resolve to “eat healthy,” it has been a great thing for my amazement in my own culinary abilities. 😉 For example, check out these pretzel bread buns that I actually made FROM SCRATCH! Who knew such a thing could be made in my own home toaster oven. I felt like an awesome professional baker.

You can get the recipe  I used here or check out my Pinterest boards to see what else I’ve got cooking. I think my next project will be homemade naan and curry.

I took this picture with my phone! These are the actual buns that came out of my oven!

I took this picture with my phone! These are the actual buns that came out of my oven!  Be sufficiently amazed!


On the Blog

This month was pretty busy. My parents came to visit until May 12th so the beginning of the month was jammed with lots of traveling around and showing them Korea. (You can read about their visit here.) I wrote a post introducing people to the real me, even the parts I’m not proud of, and you readers were very gracious to me. I wrote about my Bible study girls and how we might not be the best Christians, but we sure are good at eating cookies. I told the story about my first grade teacher outsmarting me and trying to let go of control. And last week I talked about cellulite and other things a 26-year old never-carried-a-child body isn’t supposed to have.

On the Internets

Some of my favorite pieces on the internets this month include my friend Meredith’s hilarious piece about accepting ourselves as we are. I think the title speaks for itself. “My Mustache Brings All the Boys to the Yard.”

My friend (OK, she’s not like my “real-life friend,” but a girl can dream) Addie Zierman wrote a fantastic piece over at A Deeper Story about how there is no fool-proof parenting plan that will produce kids who love God and how maybe spiritual struggle is just part of life.  It reminded me a lot of some of things I wrote about in this post a while back.

An anonymous writer wrote a guest post on my friend Briana’s blog, sharing a very important story that challenges the assumptions the evangelical purity culture has made about post-marital sex. I appreciated that this woman was brave enough to share something so personal because I really understood some of the harmful ideas and thought processes even if I didn’t have the exact same experiences that she did.

I was also really moved by this video of a talk by Shauna Niequist about the importance of women pursuing their calling and not pushing it to the back just because they have a family. I think it was a really good message for those who feel like pursuing something outside of caring for the family is a selfish thing. I made my husband listen to this too because I wanted him to be on the same page about what I hope our life looks like once we have kids and are more settled.

In Life:

I suddenly got up the stamina to start running again, and then a week and a half into it, summer hit Daegu and we’ve got highs in the mid-to-high 90s (between 35 and 38 Celsius, people) which has derailed some of my more ambitious plans. It is just not healthy to do long runs in that kind of heat.

Last weekend I went out for my first girl’s night in I-don’t-know how long. This partly made me feel good like, “I’ve still got it!” in spite of being more of a homebody the older I get. And it partly confirmed that I am in fact an old lady now that it’s taking me three days to get over staying up so late. (I was in bed at 8:30 last night and I’m still exhausted today).

This coming weekend is a 3-day weekend for Korea (Friday is a holiday) so we are taking a trip to Namhae where we will go to the beach, snorkel and kayak I am ready for a break, if not for wearing my swimsuit in public. We’ll try to take some good pictures and get a full report up next week!

When We Were On Fire, A Synchroblog : Reflections on Evangelical Christianity and How I Lost the Fire

I’ve gotten saved at least a hundred times.  The first time I remember “asking Jesus into my heart” was when I was three or four years old. Sitting in a church pew with my grandmother at her Assemblies of God church where the average member was 65 years old, fascinated by the woman in the front row who always wore an elaborate hat and whose husband wore outfits that matched hers exactly, and by the woman who left her seat during each worship song to dance in the aisle. When the pastor gave the altar call at the end of his sermon, my grandmother asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart.  I must have said, yes, though I don’t really remember. Next thing I knew I was down on my knees facing my pew, my grandmother beside me asking me to repeat after her. I was wearing white tights but I could feel the prickly carpet through them, pressing into my knees. I got up halfway through the prayer and sat back down in my seat.

I figured that prayer probably didn’t count, so a few years later when I was six or seven I prayed again, on my own, solemnly and seriously. By that point I knew it was important to have a “moment” you could identify as the time you got saved. I wanted mine to be good, so I waited until we were on a family vacation in Arkansas. We rented a boat and took it out on the lake and I breathed in the clean mountain air and prayed that Jesus would wash my sins away.

Later I would describe my conversion experience saying, “I first prayed the prayer when I was four, but then I recommitted my life to God when I was six and could understand everything better.”  This is obviously an absurd thing to say, and yet, I often think that 6-year-old me probably “understood everything” better than I ever have since.

When I was 11 my family started attending a charismatic non-denominational church that was just starting in our area. The pastor gave an altar call after nearly every service. Often he would ask everyone to pray the prayer aloud together, I assume to make those who were praying for the first time feel more comfortable. I didn’t mind. I figured this was insurance, in case I hadn’t prayed it sincerely enough the time on the boat. Better safe than sorry.

I attended the same small Christian school from Kindergarten through high school. Everyone in this school was a “Christian,” at least nominally. We even had mandatory Bible class as part of our core curriculum and mandatory chapel once a week or so. In elementary school we were all the same. We memorized Bible verses together and went to Vacation Bible School in the summer and participated in Psalty musicals. But even in elementary school there were ways to distinguish yourself. At home I practiced turning the pages of my Bible at lightning speed so that I would be the fastest at Sword drills, I won the end-of-the-year Bible scholar award more than once, and one year I even won the role of Harmony the singing psalm-book and got to wear a huge book costume and paint my face pink. It was the high point of my musical theater career.

Entering high school was a milestone for me. I had always seemed older than my age, or at least, different from everyone else. Whether from any actual maturity or simply from the fact that I wrapped myself in books, living in imaginary worlds that left me completely out of touch with the realities of my peers, I don’t know.  All I knew was that I was finally old enough for Youth Group. I believed with conviction that Youth Group would change everything. This would be the place where I belonged. Upon entering high school at my little Christian school, it became essential to me to separate myself from those who were only nominal Christians. I was more than just a Christian. I was “on fire.” I was the kind of Christian who jumped up and down and stretched my hands into the air in worship. I led the school’s mission team on overseas mission trips and worked myself up into a tearful frenzy at prayer meetings. I didn’t secretly smoke or drink or go to parties like some of my peers. I genuinely believed that my church and youth group were the only ones worth being a part of. There were many other churches, but only mine with its loud music and emotionally overwrought teenagers and jumping worshippers, was full of life. Full of the Spirit. I used the language of my fellow “on fire” believers and signed my letters with phrases like, “Because He Lives,”  or “Washed in the blood.” People in my church were known to answer a causal “How are you?” with something like, “I’m blessed and highly favored.”

But my years in Youth Group were tumultuous at best. During my time in this magical group we went through 6 different youth pastors. Every time I would start to connect with someone, they would leave. The head pastor of my church stressed from the pulpit the importance of discipleship. Asking an older or more mature Christian to mentor you was clear evidence that you were “on fire” and mature. So I asked. I asked four different women if they would disciple me, pour into me, pass this magic fire on to me. The first was deemed an inappropriate choice by church leaders further up in the hierarchy. The second and third both said yes, but never made any effort to be available, even when I called them or tried to set up times to meet. They were always too busy for me. The fourth was an absolute delight of a woman, but unbeknownst to me she was going through her painful journey with the burden of being on-fire and she only had so much to give.

I gradually gave up on the idea of anyone really knowing me or caring about me personally.  I came to understand that my value to the youth group was closely connected to how frequently and obviously I “served” the church. I actually remember scrubbing the toilets in the building that the youth group used with great vigor, convinced that others would see my servant’s heart and be moved by how spiritually mature I was. There was a spiritual hierarchy in the youth group and you were either a leader or a target to be prayed into salvation.  If you fell somewhere in between, you were irrelevant. So I became a leader.

By 16, I was on a team with high school seniors and college students, leading the high school youth group. I was the youngest person on the team and I was proud of it.  Being part of the team I could cover up the pain of nobody knowing me, of nobody caring to know me, with a sense of belonging. I could lay hands on people and pray in my prayer language and advise people to “ask the Lord to reveal himself in this situation” as an answer to any problem they might pose.  I worked as a counselor at church camp and once we’d all sung ourselves hoarse and cried all our tears, I prayed into the ears of my emotionally exhausted peers that they would, “never lose their fire.”

I wasn’t allowed to date in high school, but that was mostly OK with me. After all, I could always cover the fact that no one had ever asked me out with a proud declaration that I had “kissed dating goodbye.” I remember oh-so-solemnly signing a commitment not only to stay abstinent, but not to kiss anyone other than my husband. I can’t remember now whether the commitment was no kissing until marriage or just until engagement (either way, it was a moot point because it was a commitment I didn’t keep). I vividly remember being appalled when hearing about other girls who had boyfriends…some who even kissed their boyfriends. Clearly these girls were not serious about purity.

At some point, I started to see these ways that I was different from my peer as a points of pride, badges of honor. In some unspoken way, I understood that even if no one really knew me, if no one cared about me, I could still belong if I could make this my identity.  I would be pure. I would be spiritual. I would be the godliest, humblest servant of them all. I might not have tons of friends, but people would know that I was a serious and committed Christian. Someday a godly man would be attracted to the beauty of my purity and would sweep me off my feet. (Jonathan has since informed me that my purity ring was shockingly not the thing that attracted him to me).

At 18, I packed my bags and headed off to Wheaton College, alma mater of such spiritual giants as Billy Graham and Jim and Elisabeth Eliot. I wasn’t naïve though. After attending Christian school all of my life I knew there would be people at Wheaton who weren’t “really” Christians. Or even if they were, I would certainly find people who weren’t on fire like I was. I would have to take a stand, refuse to compromise, and show them what it meant to really love Jesus.

At Wheaton I found people from all kinds of backgrounds – some similar to mine, some even more extreme, more “on fire” than I was, and then those “others” I had prepared myself for: the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Baptists, the ANGLICANS, and a whole slew of denominations I never knew existed – Evangelical Free and Christian and Missionary Alliance. I was right about Wheaton in some ways. I didn’t find a lot of people who thought true worship meant jumping up and down with your hands in the air in a dark room while the electric guitar screamed at a deafening decibel. But what I did find was grace.

I met people, many people who enveloped me in grace. Who didn’t care what I had done or what I could contribute. Who weren’t judging my actions to rank me on their relative holiness scale. They simply loved me. Wanted to know me. Challenged me to use my mind when it came to my faith. Helped me realize that “on fire” as I understood it was just a construct of a sub-culture that had little to do with Jesus and whom I no longer wanted to be a part of.

If 15-year-old me could see 25-year-old me she would judge the hell out of her. After all, 25-year-old me wears spaghetti strap tops, generally dislikes CCM (contemporary Christian music), didn’t kiss dating good-bye, doesn’t speak in tongues, and occasionally drinks margaritas. Twenty-five year old me is married to a Presbyterian! (AKA: barely Christian, possible completely spiritually dead), “believes” in evolution, and has voted Democrat once or twice.  If 15-year-old me saw 25-year-old me she would rank her pretty low on the holiness scale. Probably below “real” Christian. But I don’t care. Because 15-year-old me isn’t someone whose opinion I care about. And the people whose opinions I do care about aren’t interested in how many “Acquire the fire” rallies I’ve been to, whether or not I listen to secular music, or how fast I can find I Thessalonians. These people are interested in knowing me, and more than knowing me, loving me.

When I was on fire, I measured my worth against the depth of my commitment which was indicated by the visible extent of my witness and by how essential a place I held in the hierarchy of the church. Now I am not on fire. But now I love and know that I am loved. Now I find extraordinary grace in ordinary things. I may have lost the fire, but it is now that I am most real and true and alive.


This blog post is part of a synchroblog project started by Addie Zierman who recently published her first memoir, When We Were on Fire. I did not find out about the synchroblog project in time to officially contribute, but Addie’s words have resonated with me and I wanted to participate. I was also inspired to participate when I read my friend and fellow blogger Briana Meade’s contribution to the synchroblog. For those who read this and relate in a big way or small, I encourage you to check out Addie’s book, her blog, and the other blogs you will find linked on her page. Also, your comments are always appreciated!