Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Recommended Book - One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella

Do you have a big, audacious goal for your life? No matter what it might be, you will find inspiration and encouragement by reading this book. Jena Lee Nardella shares her journey of founding Blood:Water together with the Grammy award winning band Jars of Clay. For those unfamiliar with Blood:Water, it is a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, TN working to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Jena was fresh out of college when she began joining Jars of Clay on their tour bus each week to create the vision of the organization and get started with making it into a reality.

This book offers a refreshingly honest perspective of the ups and downs of dedicating one's life to such an audacious goal. Jena shares just as openly about her biggest fears as she does her biggest dreams (and about Jars of Clay and their love of karaoke). I found her voice conversational and felt as though reading her book was similar to what it might be like to sit down to coffee with her. 

Jena is about the same age as me. In many ways, it was nostalgic to read about her perspective of the evangelical Christianity of the late 90s and early 2000s. I identified with her as she questioned whether or not we were missing the point by listening to Christian music and wearing Christian-themed t-shirts. Should there not be so much more to our Christian walk? Not only that, but I felt like I could relate to her tone and thoughts processed throughout her story. I found it fascinating when I read a few posts on her blog after finishing this book that she and I share the same Myers-Briggs personality type (INFJ). No wonder why I could tell I liked her as I read!

The mission of Blood:Water reminds me very much of the old saying about how if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day... but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Jena and Jars of Clay envisioned and created an organization that doesn't just throw money at a problem in society. Instead, they focus on relationship-building. They teach people in Africa valuable skills that contribute to their own personal health and overall well-being. They don't just build wells and medical clinics - they build community.

As a supporter of Blood:Water, I found it fascinating to read Jena's perspective on how the organization built its foundation and grew from there over the last ten years. I've been a fan of Jars of Clay since the mid-90s, and after reading this book I'm an even bigger fan. More than that, I've realized that I deeply respect Jena. I read this book over the course of five or six evenings before going to bed, and I finished it yearning for more. I want to be a part of continuing this story. I don't want this to become another book that goes on the shelf. Instead, I want it to serve as a constant reminder to dream big, work hard to fulfill those dreams, and most importantly, to love God and love others with all that I have to offer.

I received a copy of this book for free as an advanced reader. My review is my honest opinion. You should buy this book!

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