A week with Naomi Reed

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.

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