Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

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How do you hold on to hope
when you don’t get the ending
you asked for?

When Katie Davis Majors moved to Uganda, accidentally founded a booming organization, and later became the mother of thirteen girls through the miracle of adoption, she determined to weave her life together with the people she desired to serve. But joy often gave way to sorrow as she invested her heart fully in walking alongside people in the grip of poverty, addiction, desperation, and disease.

After unexpected tragedy shook her family, for the first time Katie began to wonder, Is God really good? Does He really love us? When she turned to Him with her questions, God spoke truth to her heart and drew her even deeper into relationship with Him.

Daring to Hope is an invitation to cling to the God of the impossible–the God who whispers His love to us in the quiet, in the mundane, when our prayers are not answered the way we want or the miracle doesn’t come. It’s about a mother discovering the extraordinary strength it takes to be ordinary. It’s about choosing faith no matter the circumstance and about encountering God’s goodness in the least expected places.

Though your heartaches and dreams may take a different shape, you will find your own questions echoed in these pages. You’ll be reminded of the gifts of joy in the midst of sorrow. And you’ll hear God’s whisper: Hold on to hope. I will meet you here.

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This is the second book I have read by Katie Davis. I recently reviewed her first one, Kisses From Katie which can be viewed here.

I feel that Daring to Hope is more relateable for me, even though it is also more philosophical. In her first memoir, the things that Katie does are astounding and remarkable. She exemplifies the term “radical Christian” in the best ways. Not many people move across the world to do God’s work and live his word as she has done.

At that time she was 19 years old.

Now, slightly older and with a few more miles on her soul, she is easier to relate to as she grapples with the big questions and her understanding of God. Why is there so much suffering on Earth? He can heal everything, so why doesn’t he? How do we accept outcomes that we view as undesirable and know that it is what God allowed?

We look at pain and wonder why God would allow it. Sometimes we are climbing Mount Moriah, unsure of what God is doing or why He asks this of us. But even as we wonder why, even as we wait, we are the ones who cling to the Lord. We can say with Habakkuk that we will rejoice – not because we enjoy the barrenness and the brokenness, but because God will; be our strength. Even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances, we can experience His presence and can trust in His ultimate goodness. Our pain can bring about an intimacy with God that we otherwise might not know. Pg. 82-83

Katie uses many stories from scripture in writing her books. I like that she seems to have mostly chosen those less well known, rather than ones we all know like Noah’s Ark.

This book helped me to understand my calling as a friend and loved one. How do you bring comfort and witness to someone as they suffer? I always think of what I can do to fix their problem and feel helpless when I cannot. If nothing can be done, I feel angry.

… Maybe we are not called to alleviate suffering (as I had once imagined) as much as we are called to enter into the suffering of others and walk with them through it. We mourn with those who mourn, we weep with those who weep, we cry out with them for something better. Pg. 58

Daring to Hope is an exceptional memoir of a modern-day missionary working in Uganda. Katie is young but her writing has grown from the first book. You can tell that she has grown a lot as a person and is extremely inspiring. I would definitely read another book from her if she wrote one some day.

You can learn more about Katie’s mission at Amazima.

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xx

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Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

 

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What would cause an eighteen-year-old old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because the rest of them think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person but didn’t know any of the language?

A passion to make a difference.

Katie Davis left over Christmas break her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved, so broken by the people and the children of Uganda that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Her story is like Mother Teresa’s in that she has given up everything—at such a young age—to care for the less fortunate of this world. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, has gone on to adopt 14 children during her time in Uganda, and she completely trusts God for daily provision for her and her family, which includes children with special needs.

To further her reach into the needs of Ugandans, Katie established Amazima Ministries. The ministry matches orphaned children with sponors worldwide. Each sponsor’s $300/year provides schooling, school supplies, three hot meals a day, minor medical care, and spiritual encouragement. Katie expected to have forty children in the program; she had signed up 150 by January 2008; today it sponsors over 400. Another aspect of the ministry is a feeding program created for the displaced Karamojong people—Uganda’s poorest citizens. The program feeds lunch to over 1200 children Monday-Friday and sends them home with a plate for food; it also offers basic medical care, Bible study, and general health training.

Katie Davis, now 21, is more than fascinating, she’s inspiring, as she has wholeheartedly answered the call to serve.

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I chose to read Kisses from Katie because I was initially intrigued by her experiences with adoption. As I mentioned recently in Instant Mom , adoption is near and dear to my heart. It is definitely a path that I feel called to in my life.

Katie adopted 14! children from Uganda, and she lives there with them in the ministry that she has built through her nonprofit organization. This is definitely a very different adoption path from what I would take – I’m not not proposing I move to Africa – however it was still incredibly inspiring to read about her joys and struggles.

This book is heavy on God, Jesus and the Christian faith. I am religious although my relationship with God is one I usually describe as “complicated”. I was raised in a family that believes in the Heavenly Father but did not attend church for anything other than weddings and baptisms.

At first, I was rolling my eyes at the amount of “God stuff” included in this book and was unsure if I wanted to finish it. But I pushed through because lately I haven’t been reading much and just wanted to get something finished. I am so glad that I did. Katie has inspired me to let go of some of the control that I try to exert over my life and trust that God will provide. I am such a stress case 98% of the time, but I have never been forced to go without life’s necessities. God has a pretty good track record of seeing me through hard times and I am going to just let go and trust that the means will come forth to provide.

Katie’s story is inspiring and one I would recommend to anyone interested in faith, missionary work, adoption from Africa and children’s advocacy. Many children in Uganda face unimaginable circumstances and it makes my heart ache to think of their suffering. This story has definitely inspired me to be a better person. There are opportunities everywhere you look to do a good turn.

Katie has recently published a second book called Daring to Hope. It will definitely be one I read soon.

You can learn more about Katie’s organization here.

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xx

The World’s Strongest Librarian

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An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7″ when — while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints — his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman — and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison — taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humour and candour, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability — and navigate his wavering Mormon faith — to find love and create a life worth living.

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It’s funny, all the lines one could draw between my life and Joshs’, the parallel direction we both seem to have taken at some point. I randomly came across this book on Goodreads – it was recommended based on other things I had read – and the title and cover immediately drew me in. My interest was piqued.

The fact that Josh was a librarian, writing his memoir, was one of the original things that drew me to this book. While those professional experiences took a backseat in the book, it is hilarious how relate-able some of his interactions with customers were to me. Some of the conversations I swear I have had almost verbatim at my own library. I particularly loved the old woman who described her favourite genre to be “the nakedest of romances”. Well okay then.

I have worked in a library since I was sixteen years old, and still do. Librarians in my experience are rarely men, and even more rarely, men super into fitness or sports. So I checked out the audio book from my library’s streaming service and started listening. This is how I found out that Josh is Mormon. One questioning his faith by the end of the book, but a self-identified and fully baptized Elder none-the-less.

I am also Mormon. Unlike Josh, I wasn’t raised in the church, I didn’t go on a mission, and I don’t currently attend meetings. My faith is questionable at times, and I don’t feel a sense of urgency about it at the moment. Though I’m sure this would be hard to explain at the Pearly Gates if I was killed tomorrow, I know that I will get more serious about religion when I have children of my own. Right now it feels like I have time to be young, and in my precarious job field, you take the extra Sunday shifts while they’re offered, lest they dry up.

Unlike Josh, I don’t have Tourettes. THANK GOD. But one of my best friends does. I see her physical tics and slight vocal tics every time we hang out. They aren’t severe like the authors’ but I know she wishes she didn’t have them. They can be frustrating to deal with for her friends and family as well, but mostly I wish that she could have freedom from them for her own peace of mind. I know this friend was interested when I started taking about The World’s Strongest Librarian and his Tourettes. She had never thought to name hers the way Josh did, and told me that his description of his disorder was exactly how she had always felt and never been able to express in words.

I hope she chooses to listen to this book. I would highly recommend it for anyone with Tourette Syndrome or anyone looking to find out more about it.

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xx