101 Secrets For Your Twenties (Review)

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I think we can all agree: This twentysomething shoot ain’t easy. It’s a decade exploding with intensity and ambiguity. Anxiety and excitement. Purpose and pointlessness. Answers riddled with questions. Paradoxes mixed with 100 percent certainties. There are so many “firsts.” So much change. So many “what ifs, what nows, and what the hecks.”

That’s an excerpt from “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” by Paul Angone. He is the founder of AllGroanUp.com, as well as a speaker, humorist, story-teller–––because really––––which of us doesn’t want to be those things? As a wanna-be humorist (I try, folks), Paul’s words resonated with me as I flipped every page.

The Skinny

In short, 101 Secrets is exactly like it sounds: 101 tips for twenty-somethings that range from relationship advice to career monotony and back again.

He writes in a format that makes for a very quick read. I finished it in two relatively short sittings, and I don’t think that’s a knock on Angone. In fact, I consider it a plus. The ease of readability made me not want to set this book down.

Some tips are merely a heading with no need to expound, while others are fully flegded chapters. The mixture of both provides an attainable pace that allows the reader to enjoy the journey, which is what being a twenty-something is all about.

The Score

This is a fun read. Paul’s usage of bouncing around from topic to topic proved to be the path to least resistance for this reader (who has a mile high stack of yet-to-be-reads). At some points I wish Paul would’ve taken a larger crack at some topics, but overall, I feel better equipped to handle my late twenties. 4 stars out of 5.

You can preorder your copy of 101 Secrets For Your Twenties here. The book drops on July 1.

We Are Not Hoodlums.

I think we've all been there.

You've scoured the Christian section at Barnes and Noble, searching for a jump start. An ignition, if you will, for your lost–––or lonely–––or broken–––life. Invariably, your eyes find the devotional section and you settle on a devotional that might help deliver you from your distance from God.
 

we-are-not-hoodlums


There's no settling here.

A great friend of mine and Quarterlife writer, Cory Copeland, wrote a devotional called We Are Not Hoodlums. It releases today.

This is not your normal devotional and the cover states it succinctly: "a devotional for the rest of us." Because how often do we head to that Barnes and Noble, only to pick up a devo that leaves us feeling less than? It's as if, unintentionally, these devotional writers come from a higher place to prescribe what we truly need.

Cory did not write this devotional to be seen as a religious authority; you can see it on every page. He wrote this as if to say:


"Hey. I'm over here sitting in the mud. I see you sitting over there in the mud. Can we sit in the mud together?"


To broken people with broken hearts and lives, this is sweetness to the soul. I mean, honestly… who writes about life being unfair? And, furthermore, is genuine about it? It doesn't matter if it's worthiness or loneliness or dream-chasing or chasing our past–––it's all covered with an air of humor and grace.

But then my dear friend set me straight and told me I could write such a book because I was in the same boat as someone who needed it. My own broken walk with God is lacking, so why couldn’t the reader and the writer be cut from the same cloth? Why couldn’t we—you and I—begin a Biblical journey together? Why couldn’t a book of devotions and examinations be written from a place of equality rather than a place of supposed superiority? 

(from We Are Not Hoodlums, introduction)

In total, there's a months worth of reading, if you're a one-devo-a-day type of man. If not, read the whole thing in one sitting because you'll love it. I am recommending this to all of you, my dear readers, because you deserve to walk through the trials of life with laughter, stories, and scripture.
 

You can find the book in paperback on Amazon here and you find the Kindle version here. Also, it's Cory's birthday today, so do two things:

1) Sing happy birthday into your computer screen, then find him on Twitter (@Cory_Copeland) and wish him a happy birthday.

2) Get on Amazon (here) and download the Kindle version FOR FREE today. Consider it a birthday celebration.

 

 

Purity: Asking All The Wrong Questions (Plus Giveaway!)

[alert style=”info”] Ed. Note: Today’s guest post is from Ally Vesterfelt. She is a writer extraordinaire and the editor-in-chief at Prodigal. You can follow her on Twitter and scroll below for the chance to win a copy of her new book! [/alert]

I used to think that being single was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but me.

In some ways, I was right.

Then I met Darrell. We started dating. And really quickly I began to realize that it isn’t really fair to say that my single life was all about me. In fact, the decisions I made before I met him affected someone other than me, someone who I didn’t even know existed at the time was was making them.

There are some decisions I made as a single woman that I wish I wouldn’t have made so flippantly. I wish I would have realized that the decisions I was making in my single life were decisions that would one day impact my husband.

I grew up in church and heard the messages about “Waiting for Marriage” from the time I was young. I was part of the “True Love Waits” generation and read books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and When God Writes Your Love Story.

I even went on a retreat with my youth group where I started writing letters to my future husband. Between the ages of 15 & 18 I wrote a few hundred letters and kept them in a box under my bed.

Cute, right?

 

During late high school and college I decided I didn’t really want anything to do with God anymore. I was sick of all the rules I had to follow and I just wanted to hang out and have fun.

It was a slow change at first. I would kiss guys and make out with them, that sort of thing. What I was doing wasn’t that big of a deal (or so I told myself) It was just kissing. Right?

When I got to college I started drinking and that changed everything. I never made good decisions while I was drinking but at least I got to use alcohol as an excuse. I partied and hooked up with guys.

I acted like I was having fun living the “college life” but it never made me feel as good as I thought it would. Especially after the fact.

Here’s the thing. My story doesn’t get any “worse” from there. No stories of rape or pregnancy or STDs. Pretty typical “college girl” type things as far as the world is concerned, right?

I was just really, really broken and lonely.

I started dating a guy who said he loved me, and pretty soon we were having sex too. I figured it was okay because we were in love; and love was what I had been missing before.

But when that relationship went down in flames, I felt as awful as I did before, the morning after a college party, hungover and used.

“How had I ended up here?” I wondered.

I had grown up in church. I had a box full of letters promising myself to my future husband. And I had been told since I was a little girl that I was “worth waiting for.”

I would read the Bible or hear a pastor talk about “sexual immorality” and cringe a little because I knew I wanted to do things God’s way again but I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even explain why I felt that way. It just felt right.

So I re-committed myself to purity. I wasn’t really sure I deserved it and I wasn’t sure how to do it but I knew I wanted to.

It didn’t come naturally.

 

I would set rules and boundaries for myself, cross them, and get disappointed and depressed. After making mistakes, I would set stricter boundaries to safeguard myself.

Even strict boundaries were no match for the insecurity and loneliness I felt. I would do just about anything I could to get attention. I kept messing up again and again and again.

Finally, I gave up. I isolated myself. I turned down dates when they came my way. I was friends with guys, but rarely more than that, because I knew that if I let it go beyond friendship I was in danger of making the same mistakes again.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of being faithful to my future husband.

But looking back I realize how much I was just managing my sin.

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who wants to honor God with my actions, but can’t figure out how to do it. I know I’m not the only one asking, “Why are we waiting anyway?” “What’s the point?” “Is there hope for me?” and “Is it worth it?”

I’m not the only one who needs the answer to “Why should I wait for marriage to have sex?” to be more than just, “Because the Bible says so.”

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed there to be more.

And instead of fighting silently, I want to start the conversation.

So I wrote a book called Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex. It talks honestly about my journey, my struggle, and the answers I’ve found to the questions I’ve asked. It also admits that there aren’t answers to every question. It highlights the nature of God, and how that helps us fill in the blank spaces.

If you want to commit yourself to purity, but you’re not sure how, or you aren’t sure it’s even practical, this book is for you. I hope it helps you in your process.

 

Book Giveaway!

Do you want a free copy of Ally’s new book, Asking All The Wrong Questions: Why Christians Are Waiting for Marriage for Sex? We are giving away one copy of Asking All The Wrong Questions to a random Twitter follower on December 1st!

Make sure you’re following us here and then tell us why purity is important to you for another entry (tweet to @QuarterlifeMan or use the hashtag #QuarterlifeQuestion).

Good luck!

 

Allison Vesterfelt is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine  where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can keep up with her by following her on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

(Full Disclosure: The link to Ally’s book is an affiliate link, which means that she/they receive a commission if you choose to purchase her book (or anything) at that link. Quarterlife Corporation does not explicitly endorse this link, so if you really feel horrible about helping their cause–––and we’re not sure why you would–––you can buy the book here.)

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

On March 23rd, the highly anticipated movie, “The Hunger Games”, will hit theaters.  I must admit that I knew nothing of the books before the movie was announced–––but I have since read the first and second books, am currently reading the last, and am now eagerly awaiting the movie?

This movie has been marketed in a way which seems to suggest it is nothing more than the next “Twilight”, nothing more than attempt to fill in the space left by the ending of one franchise, and I fear that some will not give the series a chance because of this.  While I cannot speak for a movie which I have not seen yet, I can vouch for the book, and hope that the movie holds true to the amazing tale which Suzanne Collins presents in the book.

While both “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” are “Young Adult” books, both feature a female lead, and both have a prominent love triangle, this is where the similarity ends.  “The Hunger Games”, is dark and relentless in its tale of children forced to take part in a game to the death, televised for what’s left of the world to watch; a world ruled by the all-powerful Capitol.

Suzan Collins launches you into a world where one’s life is cherished, yet everyone has become ok with the idea of others’ deaths and, if necessary, they are prepared to take the life of another.  It is a world which seems devoid of hope and love.  A world where children are taken from their families, placed in an arena, and forced to violently pursue and murder one another.

Suzan Collins successfully achieves making you feel the weight of the violence, the brutality of what the kids are put through, the hopeless feeling of everyday life within the world of the book, and creating within the reader a hatred for the Capitol which is on par with the main character.  However, Collins does so without crossing a line of being grotesque.  Though there is no denying the violent nature of the book, Collins masterfully expresses the true horror and brutality through the psychological impact it is having on the main character, rather than relying on graphic descriptions of the violence itself.

“The Hunger Games”, is not simply the next “Twilight”, but a powerful story of life, survival, discovering hope, and the ever present possibility of Revolution.  The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is a complex character, taking the reader through her deep, and wide, range of thoughts and emotions, as she searches for where she fits in a world filled with such horror; and the reader experiences Katniss’ doubts over her motives for the choices she makes, and her inner struggle as she is reluctantly pushed toward being a hero.

I would highly recommend giving the book a try, and I will be in line to see the movie as soon as possible.  I can’t yet speak for the movie, but I do believe that the book will surprise you.  It is one which is hard to put down, and the only disappointment is that it must reach an end (though take comfort in knowing you still have books two and three to read).

I know that these books have been around a while, and that I am late to jump on the bandwagon, but if you haven’t given these books a try, strongly consider joining us.

Cheating Love

I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who was recently married.  He told me that his wife had a relationship before they met which had become physical.  When the two of them began to see each other, they decided to wait until they were married, and had found great joy in having done the right thing.  He said, what is odd is that it doesn’t upset him that she has a past, he has forgiven her and loves her with all his heart, but the only thing that bothers him is that he will never be able to know her the way that the other guy did.  He is glad they waited, and wouldn’t do anything different, but it is a part of her he will never know.

There are profound implications when we try to cheat the love God intends for us.  When we love as God desires, every relationship becomes deeper, closer, and more meaningful.  When we cheat love, we give away a piece of ourselves, and take something from others, that we cannot replace.  Forgiveness is available, and God can restore, but we can never get back the part of our life which we have chosen to give up.  It is a truth that is powerfully made known in sexual relationships.  God can mend a person, they can find the love He has for them with another, but there will always be a part of themselves that they gave away to someone else.  When we seek love for ourselves through others, or believe that we are showing love to others by engaging in acts outside of the way God intended, there will always be a sacrifice involved.

A Christlike love never causes reason for one to feel that they have been cheated out of experiencing love with another.  It does nothing that takes away from what a person is meant to be, it does not seek fulfillment at the expense of anyone, and it always brings peace and harmony, never introducing any reason for disconnect.

We were created to be in perfect union with God, ourselves, each other, and the world in which we live, and our lives are lived in the search to reconnect the unions which have been broken by sin.

At the beginning of creation, all things were as they were meant to be.  Man was in loving harmony with God, humanity, and nature itself (Genesis 1&2).  Sin entered the story through twisting the love of self into pride, and mankind was introduced to the devastating idea that maybe we could be more than God intended for us (Genesis 3:4&5).  Harmony was broken, and things quickly spiraled out of control.  Man and woman became ashamed of themselves (Genesis 3:7), hid from God (Genesis 3:8), turned on each other (Genesis 3:12), and then turned on nature (Genesis 3:13).  Unity was broken (Genesis 3:14-19).

I believe that every problem we face with sin can be traced back to the desire for love, and every problem is overcome by discovering the love that God longs for us all to find through Him and the price He paid on the cross.

We were created in the image of God, bearers of a divine spark, and I believe this spark to be love.

When sin entered the world, it shattered the unions we were designed for.  Sin then continues to reign in our attempts to reconnect these unions apart from the will of God.

We were created to love, and be loved, and sin is ultimately a perversion of love.

The love of self is perverted into pride and greed.  The need for love is transformed into depression and, or, the need for power.  The desire to love others is twisted into the desire for control.  Our union with the world we live in becomes the exploitation of our planet, or the exhalation of the planet itself over the people who live on it.

The power of sin is rooted in our longing for the love we were created for, and every act of sin furthers the splintering of the unions God desires to reconcile.

I have heard it said that the difference between men and women is that women desire to feel love and connection, while men desire honor and respect.  I would argue that all of humanity desires the same thing.  A desire for honor and respect is a desire for love and connection.  It is a need to be seen as the wonderful creation we are, and should be rooted in showing others the same thing.  This is why our culture is drawn to music and movies which express our need to feel importance and acceptance.  Media may express it as the need for more stuff, the act of catching the guy or girl we want, the frustration of being treated improperly, or the anger against all the things that make us feel wronged, but all of it is a cry for the love and connection we want to feel with the world.  We watch reality TV so as to feel connected to the people whose lives are placed on display, performers are told to connect with the audience and to always leave them wanting more.

Consider the man who lives for his job.  He has an inner need for love and respect, and has decided to seek fulfilling this need through success and power.  His worth becomes rooted in achieving the next promotion, and he will step on anyone he must in order to climb the ladder of success.  If he could just make more, just drive that car, live in that house, or gain that title, then he will be somebody; then others will look at him differently.  Family, friends, and coworkers all become second to his job.  He sacrifices true love by seeking love through achievement, and in his search for worth and purpose, becomes willing to give up everything else.  His friends make statements like, “I don’t even know him anymore.”  His wife and family are pushed aside.  He becomes lost and empty; driven by the attempt to fill the void in his life with power, wealth, and making a name for himself.

Think of the people whose ministries become their lives, at the expense of their family and friends.  Their desire to love others pulls them from the ones they are closest too.  They become focused on the number of lives they can change, but lose sight of the importance of those nearest to them.  The big picture focus of loving others causes them to miss the small acts that express profound love.

Our good works can cheat us out of experiencing the love we were meant to share.

We can get so caught up in OUR idea of loving people, that we actually miss out on love entirely.

This is why ministry can bring burnout and even cause families to fall apart.  If we turn loving others into simply achieving a successful ministry, we will never experience a love that causes everything to become more united.  If we turn loving our neighbor into a religion of works, we create our own standard by which we judge the hearts of others.  We can begin with the good intention of growing closer to God and others and become lost in our own religion, which says that everyone should show love in the way that we have decided it is to be shown.

Jesus wants us to be known as belonging to our Father.  He wants us to find satisfaction from our longing for love by discovering the worth and purpose we were created for.  He wants us to make a name for ourselves by being associated with His name, and He says that all this will be known “by your love.” (John 13:34&35)

How we love determines how we live.

A Christlike love reaches out to everyone.  It never places importance on one aspect of our being over another.  It does not require us to lower our love of self for others, nor does it ever place ourselves over others.

We are worth love, and therefore all should love.

It seeks harmony in all things.  It rejects sins perversion of love and opens the possibility for all love to be more meaningful.  When we love as God intends, balance is achieved in life.  There is no room for pride or greed.  Any place of power is used to better love others.  The need for control is replaced with a loving guidance that allows freedom.  The planet we have been blessed with is cared for and order so that everyone and everything can benefit.

True love exalts all things and invites Heaven to Earth.

It brings importance and purpose to every aspect of reality.  No one is seen as better than anyone else, and no one is left wanting.

Through true God-ordained love, all things find balance, and all sin is overcome.

All you need is love (I had to fit the Beatles in).

As we strive for the love God intends, we bring light into darkness, hope into despair, peace into chaos, harmony into discord, and fellowship into loneliness.  No one and nothing is left outside of the love of God.  All of creation is invited back into the unity that it was created to enjoy.  We do nothing that would diminish the worth and purpose of all things.   We speak joy, hope, life, and harmony into the world.  We do not seek to elevate self, but elevate all things as God intended.

Love brings all things back to the Father.  He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be free to experience the bountiful, glorious, joyous love we share in an existence grounded in Him.

Our world is searching for true love, but so often we cheat ourselves and settle for sin’s twisted perversion.

We accept empty imitations, while God desires for us to experience the richness and beauty of a profound love that satisfies the deep longings of our soul.  We accept sin’s lie that God is holding us back, and allow ourselves to miss the truth that He wants nothing more than to see us experience a life far beyond all that we could dream of.

One of sin’s most blatant perversions of love can be seen in our world’s decaying view of marriage.  Marriage is intended to be a spiritual and mysterious union in which two people become one.  A man and woman become whole through their joining into a covenant that is meant to be a source of encouragement, strength, harmony, and love.  A husband and wife are meant to be a picture of what the unions we were created for looks like.  Their relationship is to be one which lifts each other up, brings each of them closer to God, and better equips them to reach out to the world in harmony.

Yet our world has settled for sins deformed vision of marriage.  It has become a union in which each partner seeks what they want from the other.  Both hold on to their sense of entitlement and greed, and when the other is not fulfilling their needs, they separate.  The world then begins to view marriage as unnecessary.  Instead, when a man and woman decide that they are in love, they decide to live together and try out their compatibility (After all, it does make it much easier to walk away if things don’t work out.).  When two people decide to play house, they are cheating themselves out of the joy of the commitment.  The commitment of marriage is not meant to be a “ball and chain” which weighs two people down and holds them back from experiencing life, but a wondrous pronouncement that two people have become whole.  It is the joyous proclamation that they have chosen each other, and wherever life may lead, theirs is a unity that cannot be broken.  Marriage is not just a piece of paper, or a ring, but an amazing example of the reconciling of unity.  It is two people joining together, forging a new life, and becoming a shining beacon of the hope of reconciliation.  It is two people accepting each other as they are, and then always striving to become what the other needs.

Marriage is meant to be our world’s most beautiful picture of what a life of Christlike love looks like.

We have allowed one of the most amazing examples of unity to become commonplace and expendable.

We have become content with the hollow vision of love that our sin has shown us.

Our world has allowed sin to reign, and has let itself become blind to what true love looks like.  Wrath, pride, greed, lust, envy, slothfulness, and gluttony have become the norm, and true love announces that these have no place here.  Instead, love proclaims forgiveness, humility, charity, respect, the celebration of others wellbeing, an urgent desire to express joy and hope, and the need to see all things ordered in such a way that no one is left in need.  Love is the uncompromising announcement that all things are wondrous, all things deserve tranquility, all things should be treated as holy, for all things are God’s.

Where there is love, there is hope.

Where there is love, there is peace.

Where there is love, there is joy.

Where there is love, there is grace.

Where there is love, there is mercy.

Where there is love, there is restoration.

In a world filled with longing and despair, love conquers all.

[box_info]Excerpt from “Fix Me, Love Them: Christianity as it Should Be”, by Matt Wells.  Available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and iBooks[/box_info]