After being asked several times if I would make my book launch party speech into a blog post, I have decided to oblige. I did make some edits so that it would make sense in this context, but all in all this is the speech in its entirety. Click here if you’d like to read more about the book launch party.
Looking back over my lifetime, my memories are punctuated by the big events – my wedding, when each of my children joined our family, the moment I saw each of their faces for the first time, the day I said goodbye to my great-grandmother. If I’m honest with myself, the big moments are what I live for – what I strive toward. You see, I’m the type of person who always needs a project. My husband can attest to that. Whether it’s making a new headboard, creating a website, making a cake, bringing a child home from the other side of the world, or writing a book – my heart soars when I have something to look forward to. This is why I approach the publication of Coloring Gospel Truths with some trepidation. This is the end of a project and that is my least favorite place to be because, although I get to enjoy the fruit of my labor now with all of you lovely people, tomorrow when I wake up there will be a hole where this book project once lived.
The problem with living event to event, project to project, is that you miss all the beautiful, mundane moments in between. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that while Jesus is certainly in these big events – and believe me, it is not lost on me just how much grace this moment is – He’s in the in between moments as well. Of course we feel that high after a life-changing night of worship, or a mission trip, and we grow closer to Him. But the day to day stuff – the discipline of going to Him in prayer every day, of reading His Word every day – well, we are transformed in those moments as well. And those moments are far more frequent. The in between is the majority of our lives.
I came face to face with this reality a few years back, in a season of extreme stress, when the stress relief adult coloring books were at the height of their popularity. I bought several of course, and colored mandala after mandala, hoping that the peace I once felt coloring as a child would magically flood over me. And my mind was quieted in the moment – because there is a neurological response to coloring and studies do show that coloring forces your mind to focus on the present and that there are actual changes to your heart rate and brain waves when you do it. However, the realities of my life were still there waiting for me. Nothing about my circumstances or my perception of them had changed.
If you’ve spent any time around me at all, you no doubt know that I grew up in Texas. You know this because I’ve almost certainly figured out how to bring that up in some way, because Texans are very proud of being from the greatest state. So I grew up in what some people call the Bible belt – an area of the southern united states that has a higher church attendance than the nations average and conservative christianity plays a strong role in society and politics. This means, I always knew who God was, who Jesus was, and actually I never doubted it. But I also didn’t really know what the Bible said. I knew what my grandmother said that the Bible said. I knew what the Pastor said. I knew what the hymnal said. I knew what my husband said.
And I thought that was good enough because that’s what everyone else around me did. It wasn’t unusual to hear things like “God will never give you more than you can handle” and if you simply repeated the sinner’s prayer one day when you were 8 years old, then you were absolutely a Christian, no matter what your life was like or what your relationship with God actually was. Christianity as a culture was so ingrained in my society that I didn’t realize that my understanding of God’s Word was deficient and that I had been relying on secondhand truths, and worse, I didn’t understand why that was an issue.
During the most stressful season of my life, I tossed and turned one night and fought fear like I had so many times before. For some reason this felt different. I ended up kneeling in my living room, and crying out to God to give me a word, to speak to me in some way, to give me wisdom and guidance, and peace. I wanted to fight my anxiety and worry with truth, but my mind was coming up blank. I made due with the worship songs that came to mind when I tried to remember what was actually true. And after some time like that, alone in my living room in the middle of the night, I felt the peace of God’s presence in his discipline.
He said to me, I’ve already given you my Word. It’s the first time I remember being thankful for the fear I was experiencing, because it was actually being used to drive me toward the Lord. He had done this many times before – fear is actually something I’ve struggled with my entire life – it’s how I came to truly know Him at 20 years old and it’s how I know to this day when I am not seeking Him like I should. But this is the first time I was thankful that He cared enough to show me that I didn’t really know very much about Him at all.
Of course, after that I was more motivated to be more disciplined in my reading and time with Him daily. I chose a reading plan on the Bible app and made an effort. I did see some growth of course, because reading God’s Word is never in vain. However, the most significant change in my faith happened when I actually went through a development program at our previous church. We studied Systematic Theology (which Wayne Grudem explains as “any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic”) and for the first time, I began learning about scripture in a more holistic or comprehensive way. Some of my cultural and denominational ideals were shattered, and it was a tough time of discipline and growth.
Some take theology, or the study of God, and use it to appear more sanctified, to have all the right answers, or to use it for their own selfish gain. Some create idols out of theology, and some use it to try to control God by understanding Him. But for me, the more I learned about God, the more I loved Him. And the more my faith grew.
I tell you all this because it’s important to the story of how this book came to be. I knew that I needed to use my gifts to create something that I would have loved to have a few years ago. Something that would make theological ideas more accessible and give guidance on where to even start with studying scripture, how to commit those things to memory, and something that would show others how rest from fear, anxiety and stress come from knowing who God actually is and who He says we are.
Within the pages of Coloring Gospel Truths, there are 31 devotions, based around 31 theologically-rich verses for you to memorize. I included questions that are designed to make you think, confess, and apply, as well as plenty of room for you to process. And of course, since it is a coloring book, there is a coloring page for each verse. I purposefully created the words to be colored in so that as you color you can meditate on the truth and memorize it. It’s more than a coloring book, as many of you who’ve already seen it have said.
There were moments I wasn’t sure if I would finish this book. It was actually rejected by several agents and publishers because, as they would say “the coloring book craze is over.” But I didn’t write this to jump on a bandwagon and God is not limited by our fads. I know God gave me this book and I pray that He uses it to strengthen faith and turn hearts to Him. I pray that this book is a tool that people can use in the in between moments. The moments when you haven’t had a big overwhelming transformation in the Lord for a while and you just need to hear who He is and how you can trust Him. The moments when your soul is crying out for rest and comfort. And I pray this goes beyond just a book, to The Book in which God has so graciously revealed Himself to us.
May it encourage you to find peace and rest in the everyday disciplines of knowing God through His Word.