Never Unfriended

FRIENDS!

Happy Spring…

unspecified

I’m on the launch team for this timely book ‘Never Unfriended’  by Lisa Jo Baker. This book is full of truth and challenges us to look at our own lives, how we view friendships and what kind of friend we are. Recognising the the cardinal rule of friendship. you have to go first. Chapters explore subjects such as… fear of being hurt (friendship PTSD), listening, being un-fine and of course jealousy and comparison.

These are powerful truths and so important for us in our unfriending world.

A glimpse of the book:

‘…..the ultimate friend, Jesus—the One who moved into the neighborhood to get to know us, the friend of the popular and unpopular, of priests and pastors, of the uneducated and the graduated, of elementary school girls and their minivan-driving moms—put it pretty plain and simple. When asked what the greatest commandment was, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the heart of this book—the call back to friendship—even when it’s hard, awkward, unfamiliar, or scary. Being willing to be a neighbor in the heart sense the word is being willing to connect with the people who God puts in our path. It’s doing life together, especially the hard parts.

It’s choosing friendship on purpose.

And then there’s this.

‘In our relationships, maybe without even realizing it, we try to stuff our people into an image we’ve created for them. An image that’s comfortable for us, but might actually cut off their circulation, their personality, their quirks. I’ve done this for years, often with the best intentions. I love people. I love seeing them grow into the best versions of themselves. The only problem is that it’s not actually up to me to come up with the blueprint for that version. I’m not their God. And they’re not supposed to be created in my image.’

And…

‘We need to give up our expectations for people to be faultless or to be basically different from who they really are. Maybe the person isn’t so “bad” after all; maybe they are just different than we would have made them. Maybe what we are thinking is the absolute “right” way to be or to live is really a personal preference that we are trying to legislate on someone else. We tend to make our view the “right” view, even in areas where God says that other views are okay also. This is the whole concept of Christian freedom.’

Sound good? You can preorder on Amazon or through neverunfriended.com where you will receive the first 5 chapters (and other goodies) as a digital download with your preorder before April 1st.

This book has brought me to some lights on moments, some tears, healing and lots of courage going forward.

Lord. Wrap us in divine wisdom – help us to know when to let go of friendships, to walk away but also when to hold on. Help us to believe the best and be a blessing, to lay down jealousy and to be an encouragement.Help us offer grace to our teenage self and give us courage to be the friend we want to have. Amen.  

It’s time to step into imperfect friendships – letting go of expectations and inviting God-given (opposites, different, awkward) to do life with.

Love, Michelle xo

‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ 1 Cor. 13:7).

‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.’ James 3:17–18

 

 

Advertisements

Real Marriage. The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life together. Mark & Grace Driscoll

 Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together

So I’d had this book for two days and friends were asking me have you finished ‘the book’ yet.

‘No’ I answered  ‘I’m still looking at the front cover’

After a week my husband thought he could see the benefits of me reading such a book.

I told him I’d only read the preface….

First things first. I’m reading this book as a married woman, married for 14 years, Mom of 4 children, aged 5, 9, 13 and 13. I’m reading it for my reviewing company Booksneeze, of which I’m required to write an unbiased review. I’m reading it for myself, my marriage and the diverse group of people who I connect with (namely you…)

Reputation is powerful, I’m expecting certain characteristics when reading Mark Driscoll. I’ve heard him speak but haven’t read much of his writing. I know that he is staunch complementarian therefore the book is written from this perspective. Many people I know would struggle with this stance and would be irritated and frustrated by the writing, you can choose to read and ignore the tone or simply avoid the book.

Although. I find those who choose to avoid it are still intrigued to find out the content of the now infamous Chapter 10….

Controversial?  The book is now a New York times best seller. Job done Pastor Mark.

Let’s journey into Real Marriage. The authors encourage you to read the book for yourself, not to find out all about their marriage, shortfalls etc. Recognizing each marriage is so unique, that the principles of the book are important, not the methods, methods are yours to apply within a biblical principle.

The book is broken into three parts, the first being ‘Marriage‘.

The first chapter takes us into a truthful, vulnerable introduction to the Driscoll’s early years of marriage. The frigid fearful wife replacing the carefree fun loving fiancée and the revelation of secrets taken into marriage which set out to destroy their marriage. How the couple functioned in ministry, pastoring, serving and preaching, all from a place of hurt, resulting among other issues, a season of chauvinistic behavior.

Healing began to take place with burn out in ministry, an admission of need and root issues being dealt with. The result? A new marriage, same spouse.

Friend with Benefits. After much research, including reading all or part of 187 books on marriage, the Driscolls found there were few books which covered the subject of friendship in marriage. A healthy friendship takes trust and time. A true friendship involves healthy conflict. Friendship fuels the flames of romance and protects against emotional adultery.

With this I can only agree… I love being married to my best friend.

A quote by Spurgeon about his wife says this ‘I have served the Lord far more and never less for your sweet companionship’ what a great testimony of fruitful friendship.

The book discusses back to back, shoulder to shoulder or face to face marriage. Challenging the reader to move on from working together in shoulder to shoulder to face to face intimacy.

Men and Marriage written by Mark ‘for the men’ advises men to man up. Highlighting the fact that ‘boys to men’ are no more, things have become confused with the addition of the adolescent, with men not quite recognising the need to let adolescence go. Men are called to be tough and tender – tough on defending the weak, oppressed and abused. Tender with their wives and children, tender with the broken. Some men lay all their masculinity on being tough alone or too tender.

The Respectful Wife follows men and marriage – written by Grace. She explains what respect is and how easy disrespect can become who we are. She describes fighting as friends not as foes. And the big one which women struggle with ‘submission’…

Wives. Don’t you love the verse that says ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’? Husbands I presume you know that part of the verse?

Taking out the Trash. Observes the work of Dr. John Gottman, world renowned for his work observing the way couples respond to each other. Over the course of 16 years he observed 49 couples in laboratory conditions ‘the Love Lab’, and recorded every feasible response, facial expressions, body language etc. He then predicted whether a couples marriage will fail or succeed.  Using apocalyptic language, he described when conflict arises there are four horsemen who are certain to multiply marital pain.

In brief these horsemen are:

Criticism – criticism goes deep, attacking character, personality, the ‘person’.

Contempt – shows disgust for your spouse by name calling, mocking, condescending humour, demeaning body language. Contempt grows and can become aggressive.

Defensiveness – this often occurs when a person refuses to apologise or back down. Blame and superiority presides.

Stonewalling – oneness stops and parallel lives result. Separate everything. Tuning out.

When the four horsemen take up ongoing residence in marriage, divorce often occurs.

But when these areas are recognized, we can move towards repentance and forgiveness. Towards change.

Bitterness – another trash to take out, or this time dig out. Roots grow deep.

It’s easy to write. The reality can be far from easy, but acknowledging can be your first step.

The second part of the book is ‘Sex

Sex: God, gross or gift? This chapter challenges our view of sex.

A large part of the book is given to this subject. Statistics abound, they paint an ugly picture of the altered sexual landscape of the nations. With statistics such as ‘pornography revenues $90 billion worldwide. Porn sites account for 12% of Internet sites. 90% of children between 8-18 have viewed porn on the Internet, most unintentionally’ The list goes on…

Stark, dark damaging facts.

Moving on to describe the gifts that sex brings – pleasure, oneness, knowledge, protection, comfort.  Can you and your spouse be honest about your view of sex – gross or gift? For so many, gross is the answer. The Driscolls described their differing views of sex and how they had to work through this to come to a healthy place in their marriage.

Time. Honesty. Conversation. Counselling. Prayer. The question alone ‘gross or gift’? can begin a conversation of change.

Disgrace and Grace discusses sexual abuse and assault. A huge and painful subject to cover in a chapter but as it comes from a place of pain, of abuse that Grace Driscoll experienced it does have strength, describing the varying ways that abuse shows itself. Offering the reader empathy and connection and hopefully a pathway of healing for abused men and women. Grace explains the way forward she found in healing from her past.

The Porn Path describes more than anything else, the long term affect that porn has on the brain. I would suggest pastors and church leaders read this information with the growing obsession, availability and addiction to porn.

Onto the controversial Chapter 10…. Can we——?

This chapter was what most readers turned to first, the one described in the reviews which would shock. It’s written from a place of cultural relevance, these are real questions of ‘can we do that’ which Mark believes most are too embarrassed to ask.

The ‘can we’ questions are answered with 3 responses: Is it lawful? Is it helpful? Is it enslaving?

The subjects covered are masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, menstrual sex, role paying, sex toys, birth control, cybersex, sexual medication… All within the context of marriage.

The scripture mandate used in this chapter is from 1 Corinthians 6:12 ‘All things are lawful for, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be bought under the power of any’

The approach here is one of understanding that much is technically acceptable and lawful but not mandatory. The aim is to open up the topic to married couples to discuss graciously, prayerfully, lovingly.

I hear that. I also hear that so many are unable to discuss lovingly or otherwise, so many are in pain, physical, emotional and mental because of abuse. So to skim over a few ‘can I, can’t I questions’…. And ‘Oh yes you can’ answers is not enough. Thankfully the last line of this chapter does state ‘we do not want this information to be used to force or violate his or her conscience’

The final part of the book covers ‘The Last Day the most important part of your marriage is the last day. Finishing well, not through divorce, through a fulfilled life together.

To finish well you need a plan.

Mark describes how burn out, an ulcer, disconnection, exhaustion and multiple stress related symptoms hit him hard. At this time he sought help from many sources, including a friend in the church who gave him the priceless gift of ‘reverse engineering’ anticipate life forward and live it backwards. The final chapter is an ‘assignment’ for you and your spouse to work through. It’s fairly intensive and requires a lot of question answering and face to face time to share answers and responses.

It all ends with an encouragement  that they hope the book won’t be merely information but marital transformation.

There are times I’m irritated as I read, I’m annoyed, I’m defensive of Grace (Marks wife) but I’m not throwing the baby out with the bath water because I also discern truth as I read.

Friendship, face to face marriage, honesty, growing up, respecting, healing, grace, educating, servant lovers, focusing on your future.

Surely this is a good thing?

I get this book, I liked this book, I would recommend it.

To some.

Muse Flash. Winner!

And the winner of a copy of ‘Start Something that Matters’ by Blake Mycoskie is…..

KATIE NEUMANN!

Thank you for your comments and emails this week on the subject of a New Year – Start Something that Matters.

I am looking forward to checking in with you all on your great resolutions, resolve, new habits and ideas in the weeks and months to come.

Hope the rest of your week is great and remember this:

A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” Erasmus

What will be your fixed or established way?

What will you do over and over, even when it fights against you.

When you will most certainly fight against it. Them.

Habits of: Starting, Creating, Praying, Switching off, Reading, Writing, Wif(i)ree times, Journalling, Looking upward. Looking forward.

Habits of: Eating healthy, Being still, Listening, Missions trips and practicing Elan (with an accent;)

Habits of Great Expectations

Habits of Grace

Habits of Gratitude

YOU said it…

 

 

 

Start. 2012.

Happy New Year to You!

I’m excited for 2012. Great Expectations are the words I have heard these last few days over and over.

Travelling into 2012 with new focus, wrestling your way to newness and great things in your life. Excited?

So whether it’s a resolution, a resolve, a new habit you’re aiming for – I pray God’s very best for your life.

A question. In 2012, how will you….

Start Something that Matters?

‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ Mahatma Gandhi.

Sometimes a quote is so overused you can overlook it. Not this one.

It is one of Blake Mycoskie’s favourite quotes.

After reading his new book ‘Start Something that Matters’ I can see it’s influence.

This is what Blake Mycoskie wrote in his journal the day of his first TOMS shoe drop.

When a person can confidently write ‘I realise we were about to fulfil my dream! We were about to embark in the work I knew my life was created for’

You read it, you wake up, shake up and listen.

Is this not the point we aim to achieve in life?

Whether you are a fast paced entrepreneur, stay at home mom with huge dreams, one who is inspired by successful projects or one who knows adding more to their daily business practice is the key to real success This book is a great read.

In Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie (Chief Shoe Giver) tells the story of TOMS.

I live in a household where TOMS are loved. In fact when I received the book to review my 12 year TOMS wearing daughter decided to read it first.

TOMS describes itself with a simple business model ‘With every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS will give you a pair of new shoes to a child in need’

A ‘for profit’ company, helping people and making money, paving the way for new social venture, recognising the merge of social and economic priorities in this century. He explains the importance of employee relations, honesty, empowerment – identifying the contemporary workplace is a flatter experience, where great ideas can come from just about anywhere in the organisation. As a result, the movement is about the TOMS community not one man, a leader can create a company but a community creates a movement.

This book offers 6 key traits that offer lessons that will challenge you to look at business and life differently. They are:

Find your story. This book is full of stories, stories about real people. Heartwarming, funny and challenging.

Face your fears. Why does Blake’s apartment look like a paper tornado hit it?  The many quotes and magazine cuttings pinned up combatting the loneliness of early days of entrepeneurial life.

Be resourceful without resources. People we recognise today as great and successful who began their business in what is coined as the ‘enchanted garage’

For example, did you know Steve Jobs initiated Apple in his garage or those guys called Ben and Jerry leased an old gas station as their first ice cream store?

Keep it simple. How did Michele Kapustka break a million in sales by sending a ball though the post?

Build trust. Why did Blake himself wear wedges for two days straight and why did a Nordstrom employee leave the store to rush to the airport?

Giving is good business. More than an afterthought, let giving run through the veins of your organisation. Let creative philanthropy be your mindset.

I loved the story of TOMS humble beginnings….

and the humble heart that continues.

My daughters review? ‘Great story, very inspiring. I’m challenged to find my own story’….

Are you ready to start something that matters?

Freely you have received…

A couple of free ebooks you might like:

The Flinch by Julien Smith and Tales of the Revolution by Seth Godin

A free download by Josh Garrells.  Christianity Today calls this most recent album “prophetic, incisive, achingly human, and longingly spiritual,” and rated it as their 2011 Album of The Year.

 

And finally….

I’m excited to offer my first blog giveaway courtesy of TOMS.

A copy of ‘Start Something that Matters’!!

All you have to do is sign up to my blog by clicking follow on this post… See it? Just there to the right…

AND

Write a comment with one resolution, resolve, new habit or word that is swirling around your head this first day of 2012.

On January 5th 2012 we will print off names and Emily, 12 (chief reviewer) will pick out a name from her TOMS shoe….

 Look forward to hearing from you!

Going Deep:Becoming A Person of Influence. Gordon MacDonald

 

The combination of title and author drew me to this book. I’ve enjoyed and been challenged by Gordon’s writing over the years. This book is written in the same style as ‘Who Stole My Church‘, which is fictional, written in conversational, easy style with the only two ‘real’ characters, Gordon and his wife Gail. Gordon leads a small church in New England and the books spans two years of church life. 

Gordon is challenged by various situations and people, particularly his unchurched neighbour, Hank Soriano, to look to the future church and ‘an idea’ is birthed. Gordon is nearing retirement and concerned for the church stating “We seem to know how to get unchurched people to visit our buildings. We even seem to know how to draw them across the line into a declaration of personal faith in Jesus. But what we do not seem to know is how to cultivate spiritually deep people. Tomorrow’s church could be headed for trouble.”
With this in mind, ‘the big idea’ is birthed, an intensive mentoring program for a hand picked 14-18 ‘growable’ people who will meet with Gordon and Gail at their home forty times over a year, a type of rabbinical contract. The program is given the title ‘Cultivating Deep People’ or CDP. The purpose, to grow the chosen people into effective leaders of today and tomorrow. Acheived through various means such as – understanding self through personality tests, recognising gifts, ability to share life stories (really share…) understanding scripture, in-depth bible studies, examining heroes of the faith.

The way forward has to be deep people in our churches, whatever your church might look like. Deep people who know what community really looks like, how it functions, people who know themselves well, are thankful for the gifts they have been given and are able to live them.
There is no doubt that small (care, cell, house:) groups are fundamental to church life.

I am challenged to consider how a ‘CDP’ group would work in my church setting of 4 communities and 1500 people.  

I am excited to consider that this is more than a cell group but an intentional mentoring program for our potential  leaders.

My final thought would be in addition to a work of fiction to teach us the ‘Going Deep’ principles I would love to see real life case studies portrayed, maybe that is what Pastor Mac will write next. ‘The CDP mentoring program for churches’

Sounds good to me!

 The book begins with a couple of classic quotes, first from Richard Foster: “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people” and secondly from Oswald Chambers “Disciples (deep people) are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct and enlighten, to nurture and train one that is younger”

Time to Dig.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Booksneeze, in exchange for an unbiased, authentic review.

 

Fallen for Fall again

So here I am in my usual November state, feasting on Autumn glory.
Isn’t that the purpose of this season? To Feast. To Fill. To Harvest. To Fatten up. 
Fall is a unique world.
Mark Buchanan writes in his book Spiritual Rhythm about the seasons of  the heart, describing what each spiritual season looks like, feels like, behaves like. He helps us identify the season we might be in and how we can live a fulfilled life within it.
With all of this seasonal chatter, I will summarize a few Autumn thoughts from the book. 
Fall brings an expectant heart,  if you have prepared well in other seasons, you can wait expectantly. 
A bible lecturer on welcoming his students quoted a popular aphorism. “you get only what you put in” but went on to say say how untrue this is.  In truth you get a lot more than you put in saying ” investors don’t invest, bakers don’t bake, farmers don’t farm, expecting to get what they put in. They do it expecting much more” 

What you do get is the same kind of thing you put in. Put in gossip, criticism, fear…expect more. Put in kindness, encouragement, love… You get it. 

Be careful what you sow and be careful how you sow – Generously? Sparingly? Not at all?

And what actually  are these harvests?

Harvest of Souls – finish what He started. The sowing is done.  Look, pray and go.

Harvest of Prosperity – not the health and wealth gospel. Generosity is so good for the soul, whether stuff or truth. 

Harvest of Righteousness – put simply Christlikeness. Enduring hardship, produces a harvest of righteousness. Peacemakers raise a harvest of righteousness. Peace, the verb … Seeking it, pursuing it, making it, sowing it. 

Of course with an inevitable Winter time on its way, let’s not miss the spiritual meaning of Fall. What gets you through Winter are fat reserves, our spiritual Winter times are so long, and grim because we haven’t prepared.

This season of the heart comes at the end of the book, if you would like me to summarize the other seasons, helping you to identify your season of the heart, let me know and I can write a post on it.

Or of course you could read the book!

 Fall through my lens

Absorbed by Color
Finding Light
Looking Up
Going Deeper
Autumn has caught us in our Summer wear – British Poet. Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
This pic of  ‘Bella’ by Photographer Emily Collins, 12.

Peace Be With You

During this month, the tenth anniversary of 911 our media is full of stories of courage, bravery, resilience, stories of hatred and bitterness.

I’m compelled to understand more – to understand the responses of those who have searched the truth, who have fasted and prayed and who have sought wisdom.

In reading ‘Peace Be With You, Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World’ I joined David Carlson on a pilgrimage to understand peace and gain deeper understanding of the monastic response.

‘Peace Be With You’ journeys to monastic communities to gain the thoughts and wisdom of more than 30 monks, nuns, abbots, artists and a Mennonite pastor searching for a ‘word of life’ in this age.  He clearly paints a picture of the various characters and also the monasteries, the buildings, and the environment in varying locations from, St. Michael’s Skete, New Mexico to Gethsemani, Kentucky with many in between. He describes that rather than a disconnection with the world, these are a group of people who are called to fast, pray and take their calling seriously. I find it inspiring that these monasteries exist in this age and have a voice in the big picture.

The ‘words of life’ were varied and diverse – confusion, forgiveness, resolve and obstinate hope with views on hatred, radical forgiveness, a broken world and extremism, with the thread of Christ’s response throughout.

Also woven throughout was the epiphany of Trappist monk Thomas Merton and his vision of radical unity, of Christ in all, this vision helping Carlson through his own dark time in the midst of writing. I am challenged by this epiphany as I go around my busy life in Kelowna, that I respond to all who cross my path seeing ‘Christ in all’ – this makes sense in this world.

Carlson says ‘I began this journey with a sense of a divided works, the “them” whom we wish to annihilate on one side, and the “us” whom we wish to protect on the other. By the end of the journey, my own divided heart was beginning to heal. The process was painful, but I eventually and gradually found myself waking to a new reality, where the divided worlds of enemy and friend have been replaced by only one category – the neighbor who has sacred value ‘

The ‘contemplation tanks’ of the monastic communities offered challenge after challenge, leaving me to question, contemplate and no doubt revisit the book.

   Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me. Ian Morgan Cron

At the age of sixteen, Ian Morgan Cron was told by his mother that his father, a motion picture executive, also worked for the CIA in Europe. This astonishing revelation, coupled with his father’s dark struggles with alcoholism, upended the world of a boy struggling to become a man. Decades later, as he faces his own personal demons, Ian realizes the only way to find peace is to voyage back through a childhood marked by extremes–privilege and hardship, violence and tenderness, truth and deceit–that he’s spent years trying to forget. In this surprisingly funny and forgiving memoir, Ian reminds us that no matter how different the pieces may be, in the end we are all cut from the same cloth, stitched by faith into an exquisite quilt of grace.

They were Amazon’s words… Here are mine.

Ian’s new book unnerved me at times. His writing humorous whilst so raw and candid. He lays it all out there with a vulnerability and refreshing honesty that challenges my world. He writes at the start of the book that it is an ‘memoir of sorts’ We could all write an ‘of sorts’, leaving room for imagination, hearsay and our own perception.

Read More »