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When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from cliche in search of a faith worth embracing. It's a story for anyone who has ever felt alone in a crowded church. For the cynic. The doubter. The former Jesus freak struggling with the complexity of life.
It's a story about the slow work of returning to love, Jesus, and (perhaps toughest of all) His imperfect followers. And in the end, it's about what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping.
Number of Pages: 246
Vendor: Convergent Books
Publication Date: 2013
|Dimensions: 8 X 5.18 (inches)|
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Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindlinguntil it burned out.
Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love, and her entranceunprepared and angryinto marriage. When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well, it is on a sea of tequila and depression. She isnt sure if shell ever go back.
When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion. Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping. Its a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.
"With its luminous prose, Ziermans memoir reads like a novel, threaded with imperfect faith, doubt, deep searching, love and friendship and loss and depression…A book to savor to the very last page." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Fire provides light and warmth, or it can bring pain and destruction. Addie tells us a story in which her fiery faith sparked both outcomes and how shes worked to contain those flames. She walks the reader through this process with such grace, humor, and utter transparency that I couldnt help but see my own faith journey in hers. A refreshing, hopeful book from an expert storyteller."
Jason Boyett, author of O Me of Little Faith
"Addie Ziermans unflinching candor and tender vulnerability make When We Were on Fire a must-read memoir. I ached for the wholesome, eager young girl seeking to serve God with all her heart, and wept for herfor all of uswho have experienced that particular keening heartbreak of being consumed by zeal. Addie walks through fire and still comes through shining with hope."
Elizabeth Esther, author of Girl at the End of the World
"Addie Zierman is a poet with a lions heart. When We Were on Fire is a memoir of such sophisticated and witty grace, it reads as the laughing prayer of a vagabond saint. Ziermans words take root in you, grow slowly, and push outward into a ring of endless light. Would that in my own days of fire, youth groups, and See You at the Pole rallies, I had been given this book with the single word: Hope."
Preston Yancey, author of SeePrestonBlog.com
"Addie speaks for an evangelical generation who came of age in the American teen ghetto of youth group short-term mission trips and longings for revival, contemporary Christian music, and WWJD. Her journey through the disillusionments and then her rebellion against the false boundary-markers and empty language of an "on fire" faith culminate in her ongoing journey of hope and redemption. There is a wise sadness to her words, a depth that disarms. Addie is a beautiful writer, but shes also bold and honest as she tends the wounds of consumer evangelicalism on her old self, and then bravely gathers up all these disparate pieces of the painful and lovely obsessive faith of her past with new grace and gentle strength to move forward."
Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist
"For all of us who found our way while steeped in evangelical culture, Addie has written us a love letter. Hilarious and heartfelt, passionate and poetic, her take on growing up evangelical reveals a classic coming-of-age story with an evangelical twist. Through clean and messy faith, confusion, love lost and gained, she reflects deeply on each experience with enough humility and humor to keep you turning pages through this easy and beautiful read. You will love When We Were on Fire from beginning to end, as did I."
Grace Biskie, author of Converge Bible Studies: Kingdom Building, contributing author of Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, and writer for DeeperStory.com and Prodigal & Prism magazine
"Reading When We Were on Fire was like reading my own story. Its an insightful, unflinching look at growing up evangelical. Addie recounts her misplaced zeal and resulting crisis of faith with humor and poignancy…ultimately discovering that a relationship with God is less about following Christian culture norms and more about following Him."
Kristen Howerton, blogger at Rage Against the Minivan, and psychology professor at Vanguard University
"Its rare that a storyteller comes along with the ability to address important issues of life and faith with strength and profound openness. Addie Zierman is that kind of storyteller, and she does just that with her debut book When We Were on Fire. With a keen grasp on the intricacies and absurdities of Christian subculture, Addie bravely tells her story of a real, honest, and vulnerable faith that will resonate with readers of all ages. When We Were on Fire is a true pleasure to read."
Nish Weiseth, author of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, and editor-in-chief at DeeperStory.com
"Addie Zierman is a master storyteller whose sharp wit is matched only by her disarming sincerity. When We Were on Fire introduces her as one of this generations most promising new voices. Prepare to laugh out loud and nod along as this book delights, challenges, tickles, and inspires. For those of us working to reconcile the faith of our youth with the faith of our adulthood, its such a joy to have a friend like Addie along for the journey."
Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood
"The best kind of memoir is so deeply personal that it tells a universal story. In Addies memoir you will find funny, messy, cringe-worthy, and beautiful moments that cut close to homethose experiences that we would like to relegate to youth but in truth lurk not far beneath the surface of every phase of life. If you are weary of sanitized and teetotaling stories, and are hungry for honest and redemptive stories, then this is your story."
Adam S. McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church
DanniAge: 25-34Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5RawApril 28, 2014DanniAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3This was not an easy book to read. I can't imagine writing it. It was raw, it was real. I think it is something any Christian goes through at one point or another. When Addie was explaining her relationship with "Chris" the mom in me was coming out. Where were her parents? They were ok with their daughter as a freshman dating a senior!?!? But the more I read the more my heart just ached for her. So young, so inexperienced. Even when Addie started to find herself after the break up and got older and went to college. So young, so inexperienced. But weren't we all? Weren't we all just exploring the boundaries of faith, testing our limits, and challenging God?
Then Addie meets her husband, gets married, and starts to break. She becomes depressed. Losing her sense of self. The second half of the book deals with Addie's downfall and her slow comeback to the church. It was in this part that I considered the title of the book. She was not on fire in high school, but was going through her refiners fire as an adult. She was having all of the cliches ripped away, realizing no matter how many WWJD bracelets you have it doesn't matter. What matters is Jesus.
Good or bad this book will affect you. I will warn you if you are sensitive to foul language there are a few words you may not like.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review
RobTChapel Hill, NCAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Well written, but disappointing.April 21, 2014RobTChapel Hill, NCAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 2Addie Zierman's memoir about growing up in evangelical culture, When We were on Fire, is extremely difficult for me to review because it hits so close to home. My own experience, growing up in an evangelical church and then serving as a youth pastor and senior pastor bears striking similarities to the stories she tells. I am a little more than a decade ahead of her. Much of what she experienced as a student in church youth groups I went through as a wet-behind-the-ears youth pastor. I remember "Acquire the Fire," "True Love Waits," and "See you at the Pole." I did not get involved in all these things, but in some of them, I was taking youth groups through the programs the year they came out. I get where Addie is coming from.
I feel a deep sadness for her. Being an evangelical Christian can be so wonderful. It should be. I grew up as the virgin waiting for marriage. I was, the kid who may have laughed at the dirty jokes, but secretly blushed knowing God saw me laughing. I was the one in youth group who took "true love waits" seriously only to discover my friends in youth group were sleeping with each other.
Yet, I look back on it and my memories are extremely fond. Unlike the author, I became more evangelical as I grew up. I may have gone through seasons of sadness, but most of the time, I reacted by running to God, not from God. So I find the sections of the book disillusion and rebellion exceedingly sad. Her final section, redemption, left me feeling empty and disappointed.
The book also gave rise to a fear in me. I worry that some of the kids in youth groups I led from 1993-1999 may have fallen away as Addie Zierman did. She was always a believer, a Christian. But, she went through a painful, lost season. She came out of it thinking differently about Christianity. I fear that in my inexperience as a young pastor in the early Ã¢â¬Ë90's, I may have led teens in a way that hurt them as much as she was hurt. I fear that I may have driven them away from God when I was trying to help them find Him.
Other readers will not the experiences I did that led me to be affected by When We were on Fire as I was. It is extremely well written. Her ability as a write empowers to make compelling experiences that are not particularly remarkable. Even though she is writing about stuff that is pretty normal for evangelicals, her ability to tell it makes it really good reading.
I don't know how to recommend it. I don't know how many stars to give it. She did some things that made me really mad. However, her writing about it is good, and for that reason, I'd recommend the book. But I recommend it warning you that if you are like me, you might not feel favorable toward the author. The pastor in me wants to care for and protect the author. The evangelical Christian in me who went through high school as an evangelical Christian is mad at the author because I was disillusioned by my Christian peers in high school, and it did not lead me where it led her. I conclude by saying I would read more of her stuff because she is a skilled communicator.
Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group for this review.
mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5About the glory WWJD daysApril 17, 2014mojoTexasAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Addie Zierman is the blogger of "How to Talk Evangelical." Her book "When we were on Fire" was named one of 101 Best Books of 2013 by Publisher's Weekly
Addie has been "speaking evangelical" fluently since she was three years old. Like many Christian leaders, she has been a Bible study leader, prayer group founder, Sunday school teacher, worship band singer, and member of Awana. Plus she still knows all the words to the song "Jesus Freak" by DC Talk (who doesn't?)
I am probably just 10 years outside of her target audience with this book, but as a pastor and leader I have seen first hand the struggles that the church has made in recent years. Lots of young people are raised with "fire" all through the young teen and youth group years - Summer camp, sleep-overs, late night rallies after the game, but then as those kids grow older... what happens to their spiritual walk?
I think anyone who grew up in this evangelical bubble, during the entire WWJD craze would indentify with this book - especially youth kids and those who worked in the youth ministry. I watched some of my own students drift away, play with alcohol only to slowly find their way back.
This is a wonderful story about belonging, falling away, addiction and recovery. Well deserved to be one of the year's best books. Pick it up.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
debsMaineAge: 35-44Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5When we were young ~ Addie ZiermanApril 6, 2014debsMaineAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4This is the true story of Addie Zierman and how she started as a Christian and then life got in the way. Addie talks of in the 1990's and how she was all in for Jesus and talks about all the details of her years of how she served for GOD. As the years go on she tells of how she lost the drive to keep living for GOD and how she over came the feelings. This is a very easy read and I feel it reaches out to the 90's generation teenager. If you did not live in the 90's then you will not be as touched as those of us that did. Doesn't mean you will not enjoy the book, it means you may not get as much feeling from her story as those that have lived through those years.
Addie goes through the Meet you at the pole campaign, WWJD bracelets, true love waits rings and many more. I lived through these years and was touched by how true her feeling were. When Addie goes through depression and tells how she felt so alone with no church members to help, even though she tries to get them to reach out to her. Her story is heart felt and if you have ever felt these feelings, this story will make you realize at the time you feel alone but you really are not alone.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
JenniSan Diego, CaliforniaAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5What do you do when the cliches aren't enough?August 18, 2013JenniSan Diego, CaliforniaAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is probably one of the most profound books I've read since I started doing reviews on this blog, because it hit closest to home. Raised in church as a poster child for evangelical youth, Addie Zierman loved Jesus with a passion and lived for Him with a burning purpose. She earnestly desired to please Him and stay within the boundary lines the church had taught her were the biblical pathways to blessing. She even had a poster-child-for-missionaries boyfriend who stayed inside the boundary lines with her. But when he broke up with her, telling her she was a stumbling block to the "call of God" on his life, she was left awash in the foam of Christian cliches she'd surrounded herself with all her teenage life.
Floundering a bit through Christian college, she married young, to a great Christian guy, and they went to China to teach English. While there, Addie realized she no longer fit into the boundary lines. As she began to realize she had nothing in common with the biblically cliche people in the small church they attended, depression began to set in. Who was she in Christ if she didn't fit into the church anymore? Over the next couple of years she struggled mightily to find answers in the church...any church..but couldn't connect. She wanted God answers, but she wasn't getting them through His people. Deep depression and rebellion took hold, until finally God's grace brought her back.
The part of the book that hit me the most was when she took the women from their home church out to lunch, one at a time, hoping desperately that one of them would notice the terrible depression she was in, would ask her, really meaning it, how she was doing--so she could unload, so someone would listen, so someone would let her be real, so someone would help. Not one woman did. They all missed the huge need right in front of them. Because she looked just like one of them, every woman assumed she was "fine".
Who are we in the church if we don't truly see, truly hear those who are right in front of us struggling? Cliches are nothing when hurting people in front of us need real talk. People can look like great Christians and say all the right Christian things and yet feel unconnected.
If you are a Christian reading this review, I challenge you to look around you for people who need you to let them be real with you. Who is right in front of you desperately hoping you will ask in a real way how they are doing? Let them talk real, let them be less than the cliches, and love them. If you are reading this and have been somehow disenfranchised by the church...open your Bible, pray, and keep going to churches on Sundays until you find one that lets you be real. God created us for fellowship in the church body, so He will lead you to one that meets you where you are.
I received this book for free for review purposes from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
For more on Addie Zierman, go here and for her blog, go here.