Following up from part 1 of my summer book report of “ordinary” books comes part 2 with a review of Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman. I had to review it on a Tuesday. It was released on a Tuesday, and the premise of the book is that Tuesday is the most ordinary of days. It’s not the beginning of the week like Monday is, nor the happy weekend or almost-weekend days of Thursday through Sunday, nor is it celebrated as the half-way-through-the-week that Wednesday is. Tuesday is just simply Tuesday. And these are the type of moments and living that Emily writes about as where life happens which we too often overlook in our everyday hustle and bustle. Her ideas of this book are imaged by “bench living,” taking a moment to stop and sit and observe, sometimes solo and other times beside someone sitting next to us on the bench. Emily introduces her thesis this way:
I’m paying attention to the small ways that Jesus — and his kingdom — shows up in the daily ordinary, in the actual places where I live. When I think of where to find “the kingdom of God in our midst,” Tuesday comes to mind. This is the day of the week housing the regular, the ordinary, the plain, and the small. … What if we stopped asking God for big ways to serve him and started walking with our friend Jesus into the next simple moment in front of us?
Ouch. This really gets me. I want the next big moment or milestone for my kids, and I want the next big thing for me or our church or for our family. I can’t wait for my first book to release (next June 2016), or to be on a panel at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference next summer. Surely, these will be the big moments God will show up to me and through me. And while I hope and pray so, I also want to be someone who notices God showing up in the ordinary days, moments, and conversations between now and then.
I’ve never been good at that. Just ask my parents what it was like the week after I got home from a church youth retreat. I had experienced a spiritual highpoint, where God met me in new ways, but I struggled to put truth into action through loving my family in the day-in and day-out. As I write this, I wonder how much has changed.
I need Emily’s book and more books like hers which highlight the life-changing power of our daily moments, and the reality of God’s presence here, too. Her book talks about the gift of smallness, that home is what happens as we’re waiting for the next big thing,the importance of releasing outcomes to God, the problem of success and envy, how to lean into our limitations instead of resist them, relationships where we seek to know and be known rather to impress, and letting my soul speak its truth. Simply Tuesday is the third of her books I’ve read, and like the other two, Grace for the Good Girl, and A Million Little Ways, I come away feeling like I’ve walked a journey with a friend who speaks the words I couldn’t quite articulate myself. As she is honest with her heart and God’s presence in her ordinary moments of life, I find myself drawn to follow her down this path.
A few of my favorite quotes:
Until we begin to be honest about how these small interactions are shaping and forming us into either the ways of our earthly kingdoms or the ways of the eternal kingdom, we won’t know how to move into the brokenness of the world simply because we haven’t let Christ move into the brokenness of our own souls. (153)
Fear pushes both ways, you see — keeps you from doing things you might want to do and convinces you that you have to do things you don’t want to do. (208)
On the benches of community, I’m learning what it means to be honest and mature with myself first and then in the presence of others. I’m learning that I won’t move perfectly, but that must not keep me from moving at all. And my movement needs to be focused on building benches of connection rather than building walls of protection. If I’m competing with you I cannot connect with you. (211)
When we sit, we let what is be, we remember to release outcomes or at least finally admit how tightly we are clinging to them. When we sit, we let ourselves be human. (230)
If you haven’t bought this book yet, don’t wait! I’d love for you to share with me what you’re learning, and I’m sure that Emily would be even more honored.
One disclaimer: I received an advance reader’s copy of this book in order to help promote her book upon its release. I’m a few weeks late since it released three weeks ago but better late than never, right?!