My Own Unexpected Journey: 10 Books That Shaped My Story

My own unexpected journey (1)

This summer I have had the privilege of assisting my dear friend and fellow lay apologist, Josh Wagner, in a weekly Apologetics Q&A forum at Falls Creek. I am honored to work alongside such an able and articulate apologist! While mom life prevents me from joining every week, the weeks I have participated have been full of rich, rewarding dialogue and meaty questions from inquisitive students, parents, pastors and youth pastors alike.

To give you a taste of the topics typically discussed, questions range from Apologetics to Theology, from the existence of God to the nature of sin, from the age of the earth to LGBTQ+ issues, from suffering and pain to pop culture. We’ve discussed how to use the latest Marvel movies as a springboard for Gospel conversation, and we’ve addressed questions of sharing the Gospel with an unsaved friend or child with love, compassion and humility.

Last week, a vibrant and eager audience asked probing questions and took copious notes. It brings me so much joy to help answer questions with which I myself have struggled. The truths God has taught me aren’t mine, and I love spreading the treasure of understanding!

I noticed that this week in particular, book recommendations flew left and right. And at the end of our session, several people asked me to compile a book list of some of my favorite Apologetics works.

While I am still drawing up a longer and more comprehensive list, the list below covers the 10 of the most influential works in my journey to date. Some are Apologetics works proper, while others are works of memoir, philosophy or theology. Although the list is limited and the descriptions brief, I would be happy to expand on any title you find intriguing. Drop a comment if you’d like to hear more about how/why I found a particular work beneficial!

Anchored (middle high school) – With my introduction to Apologetics, my faith gains its first intellectual foundation.

  1. Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, was my first exposure to Apologetics, Theology, the moral argument for God, and C.S. Lewis’s nonfiction work.
  2. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler, laid a comprehensive foundation for Christianity’s foremost truth claims at an accessible high school level.

The Unexpected Journey (late high school) – My naïve disdain for college is displaced by an eager desire for higher education, as I began to glimpse its potential for the Kingdom of God.

  1. Love Your God With All Your Mind, by J.P. Moreland, wrecked my proud anti-intellectualism and planted in its place a vision of learning for the Kingdom’s sake.
  2. Meno, by Plato, launched me on a quest to seek wisdom and virtue through beauty, goodness and truth. I studied this book with the insightful guidance of mentors at the Wheatstone Academy, a pivotal youth camp in late high school that taught me critical lessons of Christian adulthood.
  3. A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, motivated me to attend college through an imaginative vision for education: the “dreaming spires” of Oxford, the hearty laugh and joyous friendship of C.S. Lewis, the graceful, curving arch of a stained-glass window, cobbled streets, old books, and deep discussion of profound questions of God and life with friends over a hearty meal and a crackling fire. 

Discovering Hidden Treasure (early college) – I gain precious spiritual insights regarding the nature of God and of happiness.

  1. Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius, deepened Scriptural truths by revealing how genuine happiness is found in God.
  2. Meditations on First Philosophy, by Descartes, introduced me to the ontological argument for Theism and grew my faith by demonstrating not merely that God exists, but that His character must necessarily be the standard for justice, goodness, beauty and truth.

The Unexpected Return (middle college to present day) – I realize my “childish” love of stories need not be abandoned – instead, stories can crucially aid in both Gospel advancement and spiritual growth.

  1. Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton, first introduced me to imaginative Apologetics. By illustrating Christian principles with gripping metaphors, Chesterton helped re-enchant my faith and infuse with beauty my understanding of the Christian life.
  2. Apologetics & The Christian Imagination, by Holly Ordway, opened my mind to understand imagination’s critical importance for Apologetics. 
  3. Culture Making, by Andy Crouch, revealed a robust theology of culture and a practical framework of influencing culture for Christ through engagement and creative contribution, rather than simplistic or dismissive condemnation. Fun fact: In his autobiographical song “Non-Fiction”, Lecrae points to this book as highly influential on his own process as creative artist!  

As some of you may know, I commence my Master’s degree in Christian Apologetics this fall at Houston Baptist University. My primary goal is to help equip you with the necessary resources to ground, cultivate and strengthen your faith.

So, if you’d like a book recommendation, or if you’d like to grab coffee and discuss questions of faith, please do reach out. I would love to hear from you! And I would be delighted to hear what books have most influenced you. Which have most strengthened your spiritual walk? 

Thanks for the read, and Soli Deo Gloria!

Advertisements

Innocence

Innocence

Do you remember

the first moment you glimpsed the void

the glorious world you had enjoyed

now marred beyond repair?

 

Can you recall

the pain that stole your innocence

and glistening water could not rinse

the stains away at all?

 

When horror welled

hope shoved aside for, now, what is

and Paradise is lost. The tears

could not be quelled.

 

Then happiness

like robins scorched by summer heat

and drowned by screeching in the street

may acquiesce.

 

But it may not.

It may, perhaps, disguise itself

a simple book upon a shelf

waiting to be sought,

 

a gentle breeze

swaying leaves in silent song

that says, “I’ve been here all along,”

like Socrates.

 

And labor pains

will wrench the tears from anguished eyes

but soon will come the child’s cries

And hope remains.

The Mission of Whole & Sound

Hello, friend! Do you feel fragmented or out of balance? Overwhelmed by life’s demands? As one of my favorite authors put it, “sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”?

Are you longing for a more whole, well-rounded, balanced & vibrant life?

You’re not alone. It’s SO good to meet you. My name is Jasmin, and welcome to Whole & Sound.

In a nutshell, the mission of Whole & Sound is to promote health, balance, and maturity in every area of life.

If you are seeking more balance in your life and longing for a more fully vibrant existence, I invite you to join me. I am embarking on a journey to accomplish just that.

Why Whole & Sound?

With the dawn of 2018, I closed not just a chapter, but a rather biggish book in my life story. 2017 was a huge year for me, with milestone after milestone falling like dominoes in rapid succession: I studied abroad in May, got married in July, graduated with my B.A. in Communication in December, and got hired for my first full-time job.

And with the joy of becoming a Free Elf, there is also the weighty responsibility of learning how to seek excellence, how to become whole and sound, in every area of my life.

That’s EVERY area.

To be honest, I like focusing on the areas I’m good at.

And I don’t like facing the areas where I’m failing.

But I also need to be diligent not to neglect the areas in which I am weaker (exercise, anyone?).

Over the last few years, I have messed up a lot. I’ve neglected balance. I have failed friends. I’ve failed to take care of myself. (And so I caught pneumonia and almost got hospitalized. Oops.) I have failed to cultivate my relationship with God. I have overemphasized some areas to the neglect of others.

But my walk with God ought to encompass loving Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and body… that includes loving Him in my relationships with my dear husband, family and friends, loving Him in how I work, loving Him in how I treat my body, loving Him through the hobbies I choose, loving Him in how I give back to my community… every area of my life is a space to cultivate the beauty of the glory of God.

And I believe the truest and fullest human flourishing is accomplished when we love God with everything we ARE and everything we DO. God created us, after all – He knows how we thrive best! His commandments are for our good, out of His deep, deep love for us.

I want to thrive, don’t you? I love how Casting Crowns puts it:

“We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive.”

I long to be a stronger, graceful, more vibrant and balanced version of myself. I want to become a strong, gorgeous oak tree that can weather the fiercest of storms.

I believe adulthood is a holy and noble calling. And as I learn how to “adult” better – how to grow in balance, dignity and maturity – I want to share with you, dear reader, the strategies, insights, tools and lessons that help me the most.

My hope and prayer is that you may also be encouraged and heartened for your next steps towards whole, sound maturity in heart, soul, mind and body.

I invite you to join me on my journey towards balanced, vibrant worship and wellness in every area of life, learning better every day how to love God with our whole selves.

Rooted

Let’s learn to thrive together.

XO, Jasmin