Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Introducing Treasure Hunt Tuesdays

Happy New Year, friends! The turning of the calendar always feels like a prime time for looking back on what we’ve learned in the previous year and looking ahead toward new goals, habits, and plans to come. I’d love for you to join me for a new adventure in 2019 I will call “Treasure Hunt Tuesday.” The purpose is to look for and share treasures we find in our everyday lives, whether from events or activities we personally experience or from words we read or hear that impact us.

The name was inspired in part by Ellie Holcomb in her interview with Annie F. Downs on the That Sounds Fun podcast. She mentioned she was going into the New Year with the theme of “treasure hunt,” and it resonated so deeply with me as well. I want to be more intentional about seeking, finding, and remembering the treasures God provides every day from the fullness of His grace. So I’m hoping a weekly habit of sharing even one or two “treasures” will help me keep my eyes, ears, and heart open to recognize and record blessings for myself and that I hope can be encouraging to you, too. I’d love for you to join in and share yours as well, either in the comments section here or on social media with the hashtag #TreasureHuntTuesday.

Today I will start off the New Year with a countdown of looking back on some of my favorites from 2018. Maybe you will find a treasure for yourself among these, too…

4 Perspective-Changing Books

** Letters to the Church by Francis Chan-- This was definitely a challenging book I don’t want to forget. Even from the first page of chapter 1, it hits hard:

“Imagine you find yourself stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a copy of the Bible. You have no experience with Christianity whatsoever, and all you know about the Church will come from your reading of the Bible. How would you imagine a church to function?”
“Now think about your current church experience. Is it even close?
Can you live with that?”

Chan goes on to confront many of our comfortable practices, urging us to return to the Bible and not be afraid to change the status quo to become more of what God intends us to be. His heart is much like we see in Paul’s letters in Scripture, pouring out of love for the church to build up and not tear down, but aching for where we are missing the fullness of God’s design.

Chan implores us to flee from the traps of pride and people-pleasing while running toward prayer, true worship, humility, and servanthood, embracing suffering, and relying on the Holy Spirit to do through us what only He can do. Just glancing back through the book and typing all this makes me want to read through it all again with a heart to live it more every day.

** Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry-- The book's subtitle, "The story of who I was, and who God has always been," sums up the author's approach well. Jackie shares her personal story, but even more so the story of God and His working in all of creation as well as in her life. Listening on audio with her voice narrating it made the story even more compelling and showcased her gift of putting words together so poetically and powerfully.

To be honest, I hesitated to include this book here, not so much because I’m afraid to discuss a controversial topic but because I feel a short format is not the best way to do so. I’d encourage you to actually read the book before making any judgments about my heart to share. But I will say I have a continual passion for both grace and truth in love. If we lack any of those, we are not truly sharing the heart of Christ.

I was reading/listening to this book around the same time I was also going through Beth Moore’s Bible study of Esther, and I was struck in both cases by how God graces us with being a part of His story of salvation and love, all for His glory.

** Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard-- This one has been around for a while, but I never read (or listened) to it until this year, thanks to an Audible gift from a friend. The allegorical tale of Much-Afraid and her journey to the heights with her Chief Shepherd, accompanied by Sorrow and Suffering, has been so encouraging in my own walk with the Lord. It puts pictures and words in my heart in a different way to help me remember the goodness of God at times when I can’t see it with earthly eyes yet. So I count this book as one of many stones of remembrance, or “treasures,” I want to collect as a memorial of what God has done and continues to do in my life.

** Atomic Habits by James Clear-- This book is in a different direction from the others, but I just finished it on Audible a couple of days ago, and I’m hoping to implement many of its recommendations to develop better habits in the coming year and beyond. The premise behind “atomic” habits is that they are tiny building blocks that, when stacked together, have a powerful impact. The author expands on four laws of behavior change to help us develop good habits, as well as using their inverses to get rid of bad habits.

To form and integrate a good habit into our lives, we need to 1) make it obvious, 2) make it attractive, 3) make it easy, and 4) make it satisfying. We also have to start small (with even two minutes) to better ingrain the new habit into our lifestyle and identity, but once we fully incorporate the small habit, we can keep building on it to make powerful changes.

While the four books above were the most perspective-challenging for me this past year, I’d also like to give an honorable mention to Remember God by Annie F. Downs (especially for inspiring my Christmas card pictures), Everybody Always by the audaciously loving and lovable Bob Goff, Anything by Jennie Allen (which had been on my shelf for a few years and I finally got around to actually reading), and Finish by Jon Acuff (which I may have scrambled to complete in the last few days just so I didn’t end the year with it unfinished!). I’d love to hear some of your favorites from the year, too!

3 Favorite Podcasts

None of these will be a surprise to those of you who’ve heard or seen me share on this topic before, but here are the top three podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to in 2018. (I’m still trying to convince some of my friends to jump on the podcast train with me--I love listening on drives, walks, and more, and I’ve received much encouragement in the day-to-day from many episodes.)

** The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman-- Emily’s mission is to help “create space for your soul to breathe so you can discern your next right thing in love.” This short podcast (usually about 15 minutes or so) is a breath of fresh air every Tuesday, or whenever you choose to listen, giving you space to ponder, reflect, pray, and listen to God and the stirrings on your heart.

I have listened to every single episode of Emily’s podcast since it came out, and I’ve loved them all, so it’s hard for me to pick out any “favorite” episodes, but a few that come to mind are [episode 57] Don’t Dread Your Weird Life, [episode 40] Keep Your Rest, and [episode 39] Don’t Give Your Critic Words.

Also: Emily has complete transcripts for every episode, so you can print and read them if you’d like as well.

** That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs-- Annie’s passion for fun is very evident and contagious, but her interviews also get to the serious and deeply spiritual matters of life. She has had so many amazing guests this past year, but here are a few of my favorites: Cory Asbury, Tauren Wells, Andrew Peterson, Christine Caine, and John Crist all had great interviews. And although the names are less familiar, I also loved her conversation with Tom and Melissa Tanner, who ministered to her while she was in college and continue to minister to many others. And I can't leave out that I absolutely love anytime she has Eddie Kaufholtz on the show, and her Christmas party episode with Ellie Holcomb that I mentioned earlier was so good, too.

** The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership podcast-- I’m probably not in the main target audience for Carey's podcast, but this one is always a must-listen for me as well. Carey is a minister in Canada in addition to being an author and speaker, and he is an excellent interviewer with so many outstanding guests on his show. His mission is to help you “lead like never before,” whether in church, in business, or in other everyday ways.

Some of my favorite episodes from this past year include interviews with Francis Chan, Max Lucado, Craig Groeschel (2 episodes this year), Caleb Kaltenbach, and Brian Houston.

Bonus: I've already seen on social media that Annie F. Downs and Carey Nieuwhof are going to be on each other's podcasts in 2019, and I could not be more excited!

For all of these podcasts, as I’ve looked through their feeds from the last year, there are so many more great episodes than I can list… these are just ones off the top of my head that might spark your interest to listen, and you can go on exploring from there. If you don’t already listen to any podcasts, I hope you’ll give it a try in 2019--it’s been a game-changer for me!

A couple more honorable mentions before leaving this topic: Two newer podcasts with more local connections I’ve started listening to this year are The Born to Create podcast with Kent Sanders, who is a professor at St. Louis Christian College, as he interviews guests on different topics relating to creativity, and the One Life Church Podcast, which is more of a roundtable discussion diving deeper into topics brought up by sermons at One Life Church in the Evansville/Henderson area. Both of these are worth checking out, too.

2 Random Personal Life-Changers (Never mind that I’m late to the adoption parties!)

** Stainless Steel Water Bottle: I know it sounds crazy that a water bottle has been a life-changer for me, but it’s true. I first bought one mostly so I could try adding a little essential oil to my water (shameless doTERRA plug!) and needed either a glass or stainless steel bottle for that. So I bought one of each early this past summer but have stuck with a stainless steel one almost every day since I first tried it. The clincher was being able to throw it in a bag easily and have it stay cold all day, even without ice, and even when I took it to the pool. The bonus is it helps me drink more water because I always have it with me, and it is always cold. (There goes the “make it satisfying” habit key I just read about but didn’t even know at the time!) If drinking more water is part of your healthy New Year plan, something as simple as finding a perfect water bottle might really make a difference.

** Spotify Premium: People have been telling me for years I needed to use Spotify, but I always hesitated because I really like owning all my own music and didn’t want to get another app. But this year I finally took the plunge… I only lasted a short while on the free version before upgrading to the premium, and the first day of my upgrade, I thought, “How did I not do this sooner??” I love being able to listen to any song I want at any time without committing to buy it first. My first thought would be that I’d use it to preview new music when it came out, and while I do that as well, probably what I’ve loved the most is going back to old songs I haven’t heard for a while (even if I own the CDs) and taking a trip down memory lane in worship and my walk with God. It’s perfect for making a practice playlist for worship team songs on the weeks I’m playing, too. So if you love music and you’re an even later adopter than I am, you might want to check it out to easily have all your favorite music and more at your fingertips.

One Realization I Hope Will Spark New-Year Change: 

As I’ve gone back through some of what I’ve learned and read over the past year, I’ve continually been reminded of one thing I definitely want to do better next year: keep track and review. I’ve been telling myself this for a while, but it has become even more obvious over the past few days that I did not do this well in 2018. I want to develop better systems for keeping track of what matters, whether it’s something noteworthy I’m reading or listening to, or other practical items like what I’m eating or how I’m spending my time or money. I want to be a good steward of what I’ve been given, so I’m working to develop habits to make notes daily and review them regularly. I’d be grateful to hear your tips if you have methods that work well for you.

I’m hoping these Treasure Hunt Tuesday posts can be helpful not only to encourage me to record, remember, and share what I’m learning or how God is working, but also to encourage you in your own journey. Please feel free to leave a comment on any “treasures” you are noticing or any questions you might have on anything I share. I’d love to have you follow along and see where God leads us!

Bonus resources: 

As I was finishing up typing this post today, I came across two more resources that could be helpful in the New Year if you would like to add more Bible engagement to your daily practices and spiritual growth.

First, here is a video from Bret Nicholson from One Life Church on the key idea that drives rich Bible engagement. He will continue posting videos on Facebook and YouTube throughout the month of January that will go through Scripture and encourage you in developing your own habit of engaging with the Bible and with God through prayer and Scripture reading.

I hope these can be beneficial for you, and I wish you many blessings in 2019! I'd love to hear about your "treasures," too!


  1. Ruth, thank you so much for mentioning my podcast. I really feel honored to be included alongside the others! I'm glad you are enjoying the show!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Kent! I've especially enjoyed the "Chasing Dreams in a Minivan" and "How to Tell Stories Like Jesus" episodes, to pick out just a couple so far. The realization that Jesus taught more directly when speaking to people who accepted His authority but used more stories when talking with those who didn't has been profound to me... and has come up in several conversations since then. I look forward to what you will be sharing in the New Year!

  2. Thanks, Ruth. :) I'm really glad you enjoyed those episodes and appreciate you tuning in!

  3. Whoa. So much good stuff! Thanks for sharing.