The first time I read Naomi Reed’s My Seventh Monsoon and No Ordinary View we were in Tanzania and I spent the whole time laughing and crying just because I could relate so closely with her stories of missionary life, language mishaps and trying to buy toilet paper. At the time these books motivated and inspired me, reminding me why we were there in Tanzania and drawing me back to seeking God’s leading in terms of our future.
My Seventh Monsoon traces Naomi’s story from a young girl in Sydney through her journey of university, marriage, physiotherapist missionary in Nepal, back to Sydney, having children, life threatening illnesses and returning to Nepal with her husband and three children . It takes us through some of the season’s in Naomi’s life and points the reader to the knowledge that although there are different seasons in all our lives, God uses them all for his purposes and for his glory. We may not be able to see how or why or what the season is at the time, but God is present all the way through and will make things clear later on.
In No Ordinary View Naomi journals the story of life in Nepal during the civil war. Here she finds herself home schooling her children, something she never anticipated she would be doing, with the backdrop of civil war. With her magnificent story telling, Naomi shares how she learnt to gain perspective on her situation by looking above the everyday circumstances and finding that her hope can rest in God alone, rather than her home, a peaceful country, her family or her identity. This too is an encouraging read and really challenged me to consider what it is that I have been seeking after, and where I find my rest.
If Naomi had left her story here, that would have been enough. These two books take us through the journey of her life, the highs and lows and the challenge of seeking after God throughout. Although they are about Naomi, they left me looking to God, almost as if I had been walking along a journey in a friendship with Naomi and through journeying with her I have been left challenged to walk in the ways of the Lord in my own life.
It was a privilege a few years ago to meet Naomi at a summer conference and spend a few long car trips talking with her. Although I’m sure she wouldn’t remember me, it was really encouraging to meet her, hear her speak and know that there are no pretenses in Naomi’s writings. Her books really reflect herself, her own personality.
So, this week when I saw the sequel to this series Heading Home on the shelf at Koorong, I just knew I had to buy it. I took the opportunity to re-read the first two books and then moved onto Heading Home.
Heading Home re-counts the transition in Naomi’s life from Nepal to Australia. In particular she explores what it means to have a home and to be at home. Although in this book she writes about familiar, everyday life (a contrast to the exciting and foreign scenes in her previous books), Naomi’s reflective and personable style draws the reader in and helps us to relate to her. Not only did this book challenge me in how I relate to my cross-cultural worker friends in their transitions, but as someone who grew up in one house until I was 18 and yet has moved regularly since then, it also pushed me to consider where my hope is and whether I find my home and rest in God. Heading Home also explores Naomi’s journey of beginning as an author and speaker. Her discovery of her gifts and pleasure in telling stories was inspiring and demonstrated that her writing is a natural extension of who she is. It is a joy to read her book and feel as though you are joining with her on the journey of self-discovery in a sense. Learning how God uses all things for His purposes and even in Naomi’s self-doubts (something that I have a constant battle with), God is working.
I am now reading another of Naomi’s books The Promise. This book traces the storyline of the Bible through the eyes of women. I have read this before, but after reading about the journey Naomi took as she wrote the book, I decided to read it again as my eyes have been opened to follow the journey through the writer’s heart and eyes. Somehow this has made all the difference (although I may have also been influenced by my recent study of Intro to the Old Testament). This novel, based on God’s promises to His people throughout the Old and New Testaments has just been fun, and a great reminder that God really does keep His promises.
Naomi has published one other book Over My Shoulder. I haven’t read this book but as I understand it, it considers how our different personalities impact our work in mission and ministry as we try to ensure that we don’t spend all our time comparing ourselves with those around us. After reading all of these other books, I think I will read this next. I suspect it might be a particularly helpful read for me as I go into a new workplace next year.
So, this week has been soaked in the voice of Naomi Reed, and it has been a joy. I would recommend all her books to everyone, but especially if you love reading stories of people’s lives and seeing how God is working in and through everyday, ordinary people.