Holey, Wholly, Holy (a review and a journey)

“Loving like Christ means loving selflessly, even unto death. The only way to get it right is to give the glory of Him. The call to refinement for the Christian is not about making us look better, it’s about us reflecting Christ better.”     (p.57)

A quote on the last page, yet that is only the beginning…

It is my [overdue] pleasure to share a review of Kris Camealy‘s powerful ‘little’ book Holey, Wholly, Holy
The subtitle of this book (A lenten journey of refinement) relays the season to which I thumbed through the pages, yet the reason was far more layered. The incomparable Kris bestowed the amazing gift of a few free copies of this book through the .pdf version. I immediately downloaded it to my nook and attempted to practice reserved patience in waiting to gulp it up until Lent actually started. For you see, this year was my first ever participating in Lent
      I’ve had the undue pleasure of getting to know Kris and a few other spectacular ladies through the avenue of twitter and the mutual appreciation of Lisa-Jo’s challenges. Our hearts beat the syncopated rhythm of writers, as we all form a quick, ever-growing bond of encouragement and celebration for the victory of the cross, the progression of His hand in our lives, ever leading us toward growth.
I use the aforementioned adjective of “little” a bit ironically, for the message as well as the effect of these 57 pages of text is anything but small.
     Kris is a seasoned practitioner of Lent, yet she’ll be the first to implore you towards understanding that the observation itself is not the goal, nor should it be an idol of “doing” or a mindless routine as that of laundry. It is wisdom similar that Kris typed the words contained within the binding. 
I first “met” Kris through 5 Minute Fridays and through #fmfparty times. For reasons I still do not know, she opened her sweet encouragement and conversation to the likes of me, and my spaces have been lit by the reflections of Christ’s glory in her ever since. I am continually stunned by the creative ways He uses to bring fellowship to the far corners of the world, between those corners, without an airplane ticket having to be bought as a price of such community. It’s astounding, the connection that is achieved 140 characters at a time, or by mini-letters of unity left in blog spaces and inboxes. 
     Kris’s character is reflected by her willingness to drop anything to build another person up in the Body. Whether it be advice, prayer, laughter, storytelling, or random commentary – her voice carries joy and genuine nature. I wrote to her about a month or less before Lent was to begin. I admitted my newness to this season and shyly asked a couple of questions to make sure my understanding matched reality. I knew this was not something to enter as a “checkbox” of obedience – saying “I did this.”, yet I wanted to verify my heart’s intent and wanted to seek counsel from someone who had a grasp on the reality of Lent, the posture of where our hearts and mind’s should be. Aligning with Scripture first and foremost, conversing with Kris would allow me the opportunity to begin this journey well-equipped. 
After all, she did just write a book on the subject. 
She would be embarrassed at my note of admiration,
for she didn’t write a book to write a book.
She felt a nudge from her Maker, and she ultimately did not ignore it.
Obedience and faith quells even the deepest fear – albeit the supernatural strength of The Spirit is always required. 
Such assistance was granted Kris, for we can hold in our hands the fruit of such labor.
And what sweet fruit it is.

This book is not intended to be read as a day by day devotional of sorts. Kris expresses her intention to not write it in such a manner: “…rather an aid in further reflection on the mystery and mercy of Jesus’ death on the cross and His ultimate resurrection. My hope is that you find the readings encouraging and stirring as you draw closer to Christ during your own Lenten journey.
       Inspiring and tender are the whispers of these chapters. A journey does not have to be boisterous in order to matter. No, it can effectively be quiet, steady, a rhythm of repose to a soul open for transformative growth. 
I had a hard time not lapping up this book in entirety as a pup attacks fresh water after a day under hot sun’s scald. I wanted to be patient. Turning sections in steadiness rather than eager quickness. I admit, I began reading before Lent even began. But I stopped myself and continued after Ash Wednesday passed. Full disclosure: I finished way before two weeks even passed. Yet trust me, the pages may be few, but the content is filling. I took my time. I sipped and paused and prayed. I took to my corner and gathered for His instruction. Reading Scripture, journaling, and reading this book. Such was my routine, especially in those early weeks. I could have…perhaps I should have written this review earlier – directly after finishing. I’ve gone back and forth on when I should have written. I feel maybe I’ve even waited too long. Hopefully this is still a helpful tool for a yet-to-be reader of this wonderful work. Even for someone who is reading already or even who has read – we can all be encouraged by the reminder of these thoughts and insights in a journey of refinement.
There’s still time you know. Even if you haven’t even heard of this book. Even if you don’t read until Lent is already over – for we are never confined to regulations of legalistic charts. Oh He is a God of gorgeous diversity. And He uses all things, at all times, for His refining purposes. So do not be afraid if you’re reading this late review. Don’t think you can’t pick this book up and be enriched by it. Such would be a saddening detriment to your heart. 
Something that has been a lifetime learning for me – it’s never too late nor too early to find maturity in the Spirit. It is always meant for now. The present moment is the exact time for deeper connection to The Potter who keeps us, His clay, ever moldable.
The chapters are broken up in beautiful signature, keeping beat with the heart yearning. Kris answers questions such as “Why Lent?” and “why can’t I hurry?” and “why is confession really necessary?”. She drips with sincerity as she spills forth her own self, her own lessons from such seasons. She describes the beauty of obedience, feasting, fasting, holy, bravery. She challenges you to think differently after and change your perspective on much that you may reap fruit refreshingly rich. 
     Grip the pages (or your reader) with teeming thankfulness for what God is trying to show you. Through Kris, He seeks your heart, soul and mind within the unfolding of His truth and the honesty of what Lent should represent and what it should not. Breathe deep the aroma of grace. For I cannot end it nor say it any better than Kris herself: 

“The journey through Lent is a journey that doesn’t end at the cross. No! This journey ends at the empty tomb when we realize that He’s beaten back death. The journey ends in the victory of grace for sinners and redemption for those who believe…We find Him with pierced hands outstretched encouraging us to poke our own fingers into His holy spaces and see that He is real — that He live and because He lives, we live.”

Run, sister. Run, brother. Wrap your hands in His spacious love and live. And let this book be an accompaniment to such a race. By His glorious Word, we are free.

4 Comments on “Holey, Wholly, Holy (a review and a journey)”

  1. Leigh,
    sweet, generous friend. Though right now I am mostly quiet on my own blog and on social media, I could not let a day pass without taking the time to come here, and thank you, from the deepest corners of my brittle heart, for this astoundingly generous review. I am deeply moved by the wild ways of Grace and how God connects us through time and space ad ones and zeros–all for His purposes, even as we don't even really SEE what it is He is doing. I am so grateful that in this small book you found something of value, to encourage you as you seek the Lord. That is my highest prayer and compliment. May God receive full glory for this humble work, and may He continue to intertwine our paths on the journey. He has blessed me beyond all I deserve and far more than I ever imagined. Thank you, with all my heart, thank you for friending me, and for your unfailing encouragement. YOU are a gift.


  2. My words in response are few – for you leave me with none that would suffice fully. I am humbled and honored. Period. To know you, to have been able to share in this in ANY way, and to have been enriched by the fruit of your obedience and bravery when your Author bid you “write”. Oh what beauty! It's stunning to behold and friend, thank YOU for such modeling of faith.

    Seriously. Thank you.


  3. This was so beautiful, Leigh. What a perfect review…

    I must confess, this book feels like a part of me — as Kris walked me through Lent last year (my first intentional time) and this was birthed shortly after (I won't bore you with my story, I shared enough in the foreword).

    and I come here and it's no wonder we're soul sisters as I see you get it. feel it. and express it from your very marrow so well I feel your warmth simply by reading your words on a screen… {HUGS}

    (and I can comment today! yay!)


  4. I LOVED your forward – first of all (don't you dare call yourself boring again). I smiled ear to ear when I saw your name. What pure delight that must have been, for both you and Kris, to come together in that type of truth-telling, soul-filling encouragement.

    I am SO SO happy when commenting works for you, but honestly, seeing words from you anywhere sets my heart in rhythm for you do get it. You do get this struggle. This life. How I am absolute awe of the Body and how it moves, how unity bonds deeper than sinew and understanding flows stronger that beats of pulse.

    Thank you. Always.


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