Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Do You Know Who I Am? includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Angela Thoms. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In her book Do You Know Who I Am? Angela Thomas asks God if He knows her—and ultimately does He love her—as she is, right now, today. In each chapter, she names a different identity issue, such as: “I am invisible,” “I am worn out,” “I am undisciplined,” “I am ordinary,” and “I am afraid to dream.” With each honest admission, Angela teaches that God lovingly replies, “Yes, I know your heart. I see your struggle. Now . . . do you know who I AM?”
Ultimately Angela reveals that the answer to being known and loved lies in an intimate understanding of who God is. Each identity struggle is answered with a short biblical study on the character of God that assures readers that their personal, spiritual, and eternal fulfillment is not dependent on getting themselves together. Rather, God has a purpose for them just as they are broken, afraid, disappointed, disillusioned.
Through vivid storytelling, biblical teaching, and practical application, readers will find the heartfelt answers they seek.
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Angela writes that her friend and housecleaner, Beverly, was great spiritual support in her life, and may even have been an angel. Have you encountered such a person in your life? How can you be a “Beverly” to someone else?
2. Is there a big dream that you’ve been putting off pursuing for any reason? What is it, and why haven’t you been pursuing it? How are you investing your talents? Are you “living worthy”?
3. As you seek comfort from God in your own life, remember to also ask him who you can give comfort to. Pray for a friend in need.
4. In Chapter Four, Angela lists lessons that have been ministered to her about how God helps those who are weary. His presence restores, waiting often restores, the Sabbath restores, repent, have Godly, refreshing friends, etc. Think about other lessons God may have shown you, and share them with your group.
5. What is your “thorn”? What could God be showing you by not removing it right now? How can you use your weaknesses to be a stronger person, and strengthen your faith?
6. Think back to how you felt when you first accepted God into your life. Is there a sin you’ve committed since then that you’ve been rationalizing or neglecting to realize the importance of?
If so, this is your wakeup call—make a conscious choice to Run Away! Turn to God and your book group to help.
7. Pray the prayer on page 141, that God will comfort you in times of loneliness. Then pray for someone else who may need God’s support more than you.
8. Angela struggles with diet and exercise, which is common among many women. What is your struggle? Where do you desire discipline in your life? Share with your group, and help to hold each other accountable.
9. Are you a “cheerful giver”? Think of everyday ways that you can be a more generous reflection of God. Then let your book group know a little something extra you did this week, and how it made you feel. Inspire each other!
10. Angela writes about Satan preying on your weak places and holding you back. First, think about your true strengths and talents. Ask yourself, where do you need to keep a door open for God? What do you need to let go of?
11. Everyone has suffered disappointment and loss in their lives. Think about a trying circumstance in your life. How has it shaped you into the person you are today? Have you allowed tragedy to change you for the better?
12. Make a list of your struggles, needs, weak places and insecurities. Be honest with yourself and with each other, and offer them up to God together. How has reading Do You Know Who
I Am? helped you face and overcome the obstacles in your life?
13. Which chapter do you relate to the most? Why? Share with your group. How can you help support each other with your different struggles?
ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB
1. If you’d like to hear more from Angela Thomas, consider attending one of her speaking engagements. Check out www.AngelaThomas.com to find one near you!
2. Read one of the books Angela recommends in the Introduction, such as Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith, The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Towzer, or Your God Is Too Small by J.B. Phillips. How do they enhance or influence the message of Do You Know Who I Am?
3. Angela writes about learning many life lessons at her family’s fruit stand. As you were growing up, was there a place or experience, outside school, that helped to shape your life?
4. In Chapter Nine, Angela extols the virtues of working hard. She writes, “Physical labor clears your head and gives you immediate accomplishment rewards,” (p. 191). Spend a day working hard, either volunteering, helping a neighbor, or in your own garden.
A CONVERSATION WITH ANGELA THOMAS
You write that you originally had many more chapter ideas, and that you whittled them down to these twelve. Why did you pick these? What were some others you considered?
Well, since you ask, a few of the other ideas were:
I am in over my head. I am nothing special.
I am co-dependent. I am fragile.
I am ashamed. I am insecure.
I am angry. I am tempted.
I am confused. I am a doubter.
I am judgmental. I am lazy.
I am proud. I am addicted.
I am pretending. I am unmotivated.
I am indifferent. I am playing it safe.
I am stubborn. I am rebellious.
I am a gossip. I am bitter.
I am hurt. I am sad.
I am depressed. I am discouraged.
I am a failure. I am apathetic.
I am defeated. I am anxious.
I am impatient.
So many of these thoughts overlap in some way. And there was no way to do each idea justice. So I pared them down into groups and tried to shoot for the bigger ideas and struggles that might be more common to every woman.
You mention that you travel a lot with your work. Where is your favorite, most memorable place to visit, and why?
Outside of the United States, I have traveled to South Africa four times. I love the people and their passion so much. Their beautiful country takes my breath away and the powerful presence of God has given me experiences unlike any I have ever known. Visit www.beautyforashes.co.za to learn more about women’s ministry in that country.
Through World Vision, my family also sponsors four children who live in South Africa. I had the amazing opportunity to visit them a couple of years ago. They completely stole my heart and I cannot help but think of them often, pray for their safety and hope for the day I’ll see them again. If you’d like to sponsor a child anywhere in this world, please go to www.worldvision.org. I have seen the work they are doing with my own eyes. Lives and families and villages are being changed for good because World Vision is present and working where the rest of us aren’t able to go. God willing, one day we will sponsor an entire tribe. The need is so great.
Traveling inside the US, I am a North Carolina girl through and through. But I do have to tell you that I smile when I see Texas on my schedule. I think it has something to do with the guacamole and the really cool people who live there.
How did you discover what God’s calling was in your life? What is your advice to those who are still searching for theirs?
In 1984, after college, I was at home working for my dad full time and volunteering with the student ministry at my church. I truly cared about my dad’s business and the opportunities that were waiting for me there, but over the course of 8 or 9 months, my heart for those students could not be ignored. All I could think about was how to help them. What could I do to reach them with the truths of Jesus? How could I make the Bible come alive for them? Clear as day, I knew that knowing the Bible and correctly applying it’s truth meant more to me than anything. I believe with all of my heart that I was called by God. What is interesting is that the call has never wavered. I have known everyday of the past 26 years what I was put on this earth to do. How and where and when have all been big questions. But the what has never changed – Angela, just each the word of God. I think that is one of the sweetest gifts I have received from God.
At many moments in the book, you recount things that were going on in your life as you were writing. It really feels like the reader was with you every step of the way. How long did it actually take you to write this book?
The book probably took about a year to come together. And in the editing process I was able to add updates and a few more personal stories. I know that I writing about dieting to fit into my wedding dress and in just a couple months I will have been married two years. Maybe that helps to give a timeframe to the writing. The stories seem like they happen one after another, but believe me, there is a lot of carpooling and homework and laundry in between!
I’m sure readers are wondering how things turned out after your cancer scare; can you share with us how you’re doing now?
Thanks for asking. My mom has had ovarian cancer, so my gynecologist is on high alert with regard to cancer for me. I am still seeing him about every three months. He says that my cervical tests are not perfect, but they are no longer pre-cancerous. With regard to ovarian cancer because of my mom’s diagnosis, I take a blood test called CA-125 and have an ultra-sound every six months. Ugh. Why can’t this be the kind of concern where they need to look in your ear?
Was it hard to select so many perfectly appropriate Bible verses throughout the book? You quote from more than one version of the Bible; do you have a favorite?
I teach from the NIV, mostly. I used to study from the NASB, and still love it, but I have landed with the NIV as my go-to translation. I love THE MESSAGE in small doses, especially to make a familiar passage seem brand new to the listener. I also have the coolest Bible software called LOGOS so that I am able to read every translation ever printed. Sometimes that’s overkill, but I am such a nerd that I love it!!
How do your children and husband feel about you sharing personal details and humorous stories about them?
My kids have grown up with the stories. And bless them, they know that our stories really do help people to understand more about God. My husband married into the story-telling and knew what he was getting before he ever decided to propose. For my part, I would never tell a story that is embarrassing for them or cutting or wounding. I will never break their confidence or tell something they have asked me not to share. We have had a few conversations that began, “Mom, you can’t put this in a book.” Smile. They know me pretty well.
You mention that you’ve overcome obstacles in your past, such as divorce, and that you have not been invited to speak to certain audiences because of it. Do you agree with that decision? How has your past influenced your ministry?
I have learned to let God open the doors and take me where He wants me to be. That’s so much easier than acting like I ought to be invited anywhere. Married, single, divorced, remarried, I promise you that what I get to do is one of the greatest privileges this life can hold. I do not take it lightly that God uses me anywhere and anyway He sees fit. I am honored and humbled. And time is such a beautiful teacher for all of us. There have been people who said, “I’m sorry we can’t invite you,” and then years later, changed their minds. God is the Redeemer. I am trusting Him with how He chooses to minister through my brokenness.
Truth is, God has given me more work to do than there are weekends in my year. I am blessed beyond measure. And even if the phone stops ringing tomorrow, and no one invites me anywhere, anymore, I’ll still open the Bible and ask some people to come for coffee and tell them everything I can about the amazing truths of God.
This book is written specifically towards women. How do you think the same ideas might apply to men as well?
Honestly, I’m not sure the struggles are the same. My husband has been so gracious to listen to me mull over these ideas, but I know that many of the weak places in me are completely different for him. Ultimately, every truth about the character of God that you read in this book is intended for men and women, boys and girls, young and old. That is one of the coolest things about teaching the Word of God, I may be talking to women, but they can go home and tell the man they love, or the child they raise, a brand new truth from God’s Word and the power of truth to change their life is the same.
You write in your introduction that you were originally trying to write another book when you were overcome with the idea for this one. What was that first book about? Are you finishing it now? If not, what are you working on currently?
I think I have shelved the other book and in the end, incorporated some of its strongest ideas into this one. Right now I am working on a DVD curriculum and a devotional. I have an idea for the next book, but I guess I ought to call my editor before I spill the beans.