Psst. Over here. I have a secret. You might love me for it. Or you might want to throw a book at me.
Okay, here it is … I don’t only write books. I also write in books. Both electronic books and (gulp) print books.
I can’t remember the first time I did it. I was probably in my early teens. After years of being told not to write in books, it felt wrong. But after I made that first mark, I was hooked. I had to keep writing, keep annotating, keep HIGHLIGHTING.
Oh the HIGHLIGHTING!
Yellow highlighters. Purple highlighters. Blue highlighters. Beautiful, beautiful highlighters!
So imagine my delight at seeing that other people are highlighting in my books. How did I find this out? Did I install spy cams and watch them read? Did I bug all the packages of highlighters at Walmart? Did I follow my books to their house?
Nope … nothing as creepy as that.
I opened my books on my Kindle and scrolled through the popular highlights.
I admit I was a little nervous at first. Maybe no one had highlighted in my books. And then I was curious. Would people highlight the parts I thought were highlight-worthy? Or would they have other favorite parts? Finally, in the end, I was delighted. Because it turns out that the most highlighted parts of my books aren’t the witty banter or the sweet declarations of love or even the first kisses. They’re the Scripture verses and sermons and prayers. (Picture my heart expanding a thousand times right now. Because as much as I love storytelling and all the lovey-dovey parts and the funny parts and the emotional parts, the Jesus parts are the reason I write what I write.)
I’ll share a few of the highlights from my Hope Springs series here, along with my own annotations about them.
Highlight from Not Until Forever: “You’ve always worked so hard to prove yourself, to earn everything, to be the best. But some things you don’t have to earn. They’re just . . . gifts.”
My notes: Another confession. I am such an “earner.” I don’t always like to be given things for no reason. Or I feel like I should pay the person back in some way. Like I “owe” them. But the thing Violet points out to Sophie here is that a gift is a gift. It’s not supposed to be earned or repaid. That’s true of gifts in this world. But it’s even more true of the gift of salvation that God gives to us through Jesus. And that’s what Sophie really has to learn here.
Highlight from Not Until Forever: I don’t know your plans, Lord, and it scares me to give over control of my life, my future. Help me to trust you to lead me to the life you know is right for me.
My notes: This prayer is me (I mean, it’s Sophie praying in the book, but it’s me praying it every day). I’m definitely a control freak, and the idea of surrendering that control is scary, even to a God who has proved himself faithful over and over again. He is the only One who can give me the strength to surrender that need for control.
Highlight from Not Until Us: “God would totally bomb a test where he had to name each one of our sins. Because when he looks at us, he sees Jesus. He sees the perfect life Jesus lived for us and the innocent death he died to pay for our sins. Jesus took them all away. They are gone. God can’t remember them because they don’t exist anymore.”
My notes: This is Pastor Dan’s answer when a young teen asks how David could plead with God not to remember the sins of his youth. The teen argues that God is perfect, so how can he forget anything? I think we all have things in our past that we’re ashamed of, that we wish we hadn’t done, that we maybe dwell on and think that God dwells on them too. But the truth is that he doesn’t. Because he sees that our sins have been washed clean in Jesus. Trying to wrap our human brains around that is tough. But God tells us in his Word that it’s true!
Highlight from Not Until Us: “We are all that woman caught in adultery. We’ve all been caught cheating on the One who loves us more than we can comprehend. Every time we sin, every time we choose our way over God’s way, every time we put something before him, we’re committing adultery against our God. We deserve to be stoned. Worse, we deserve hell…. But listen to what Jesus says to the woman: ‘Neither do I condemn you.’ Do you hear that? He’s saying that to you. To me. He does not condemn us. He frees us. He saves us.”
My notes: Pastor Dan gets right at the heart of the law and the Gospel here. We deserve nothing but eternal punishment for our sins. But God put that punishment on his Son to save us. It’s a message Jade needed to hear. And it’s a message we all need to hear every day.
Highlight from Not Until Christmas Morning: Faith isn’t faith if it only believes in God when he answers our prayers in the way we want him to. Faith is faith when we believe even if.
My notes: “Even if” is a big theme in this book. And it’s a hard one. Because when things don’t go the way we think they should (and, let’s be honest, the way we tell God they should), we can be tempted to doubt God and his love. But, as Austin reads in the margins of his deceased friend’s Bible, faith means believing “even if” we face hardships and trials we don’t understand.
Highlight from Not Until Christmas Morning: “God doesn’t see any of our problems as insignificant. He knows our hurts.”
My notes: I think sometimes we’re tempted to see our problems as “too little” for God. We don’t think we should bother him with them when he has the whole world to worry about. But there is beauty and comfort in knowing that God cares about every detail of our lives.
Highlight from Not Until This Day: “Worry only gives us the illusion of control. But it’s a lie. Because the only one in control is God. And somehow, he loves my boys even more than I do. So if he’s watching over them and he holds their lives in his hands, what good is my worrying going to do?”
My notes: Oh worry. One of my biggest struggles. Especially worry for my children. I wrote this reminder from Tyler to Isabel. But really it’s a reminder from God to me. Worry doesn’t give me control. But trusting in God soothes my worry.
Highlight from Not Until Someday: “Praying for God’s will to be done isn’t a cop-out. It’s not leaving some wiggle room for God, in case he can’t do what we asked. It’s saying, ‘God, I trust you. I trust that you know what’s best for me. Please do that in my life.’”
My notes: God is all-powerful. He can do anything. But that doesn’t mean he will always answer our prayers in the way we want. Not because he can’t but because he knows what is best for us. That’s why we pray for his will to be done. Not because he can’t do our will, but because he loves us enough not to when it’s for our good.
So, do you write/highlight/take notes in your books? Digital or print? Do you pay attention to other people’s highlights when you read on a Kindle?