Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love!

The book I have read multiple times and have been gushing about to anyone who will listen is finally, officially available for public purchase and reading! Of course, if you were in Barnes & Noble on August 1st you may have noticed the book already on their shelves. I wonder if one of the higher-ups read it and thought, "This is too good to keep in boxes until the 18th!"


For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker released today. I have already read it three times and know there will be a fourth reading very soon (I like it so much I want others to read it too so I am co-leading a group study of it in a few weeks at my church. I am sooo excited!). I cannot wait to hear what others think. In the meantime, I'll share a little of my experience with the book..

The first chapter, "Worst Beam Ever" is sooo amazing! After reading it, the phrase "Off the beam!" is now permanently in my vocabulary. I have felt freedom from striving for perfection and been released to just be me. This chapter talks about not concerning ourselves with doing it all but to decide what is most important to us in this season, what is necessary for ourselves and families, what adds value to our lives, and say "no" to the extras that steal our time and our joy. After reading it, I immediately implemented it by choosing not to have party favors at my child's upcoming birthday party. It's a small thing, but it was one less thing to have to think about or spend time on. I doubt anyone missed them either.

Here's a quote from the chapter:
We combine the best of everything we see, every woman we admire in every genre, and conclude: I should be all of that. It is certifiably insane. The only thing worse than this unattainable standard is the guilt that follows when perfection proves impossible. p.3

I could probably summarize each chapter for you but that would ruin your experience. Let's just say that there are many wonderful chapters that contain wisdom and freedom to be who God created you to be.

There are also some chapters that provide a type of comic relief (but still have truth in them). There are some titled "Thank You Notes" similar to Jimmy Fallon's segment on The Tonight Show. One of my favorites:
Thank you, Maxi Dresses, for helping me appear dressed up, as though I really made an effort, but making me feel as if I'm wearing a nightgown out in public. You are basically crotchless yoga pants, and I salute you. p.50

As if that were not enough from this amazing book (which I describe to others as being like potpourri - a little bit of everything), there are also some recipes to help sharpen your skills and invite other people over to grow relationships. I made the Beef Bourguignon which was delicious and very rich. I also made the Pad Thai and agree with Jen wholeheartedly that fish sauce stinks when cooked and permeates the entire house, but it did help create another oh-so-tasty dish. My family actually did share both of these meals with friends and had a great time!

This book really does have a little bit of everything. It offers encouragement, truth in love, humor, sympathy, wisdom, fashion advice, parenting comfort and frank talk about real issues. It is a book you could read once a year (or more frequently) and find things to apply to grow in your spiritual and personal relationships. I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts after you've read it. For the love, just go buy it already! 

You're still reading? Well, I have news for you! I'm giving away a copy of this awesome book to one reader! All you have to do is comment below and tell me if you're familiar with Jen Hatmaker and, if so, how (have you read a previous book, seen her on HGTV, follow her blog?). I would also appreciate it if you'd let me know how you found this post. You can enter until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday the 20th. I'll announce the winner on Friday, August 21st. (If you can't post a comment for some reason, please send me an email at mybyrdlife @ gmail dot com). Thanks!

***The winner of the book (chosen randomly by my 2yo) is "John, Elizabeth, and Grace"! Congratulations! I will get the book to you shortly.***

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finding Freedom From My Emotions

I just finished reading Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst. I checked it out from the library because I had heard good things about the author but I wasn't sure how applicable the book would be. I'm not a particularly emotional person, at least not outwardly emotional. However, in the book she talked about the various ways we deal with emotions (stuffing or spewing) and I was able to see how I tend to process emotions.

I liked that she acknowledged that we are not necessarily always a stuffer or always a spewer. How we react can depend on the situation or the relationship we have with the person in the difficult, emotion raising moment.

Lysa stated that the goal is not perfection - never losing our cool, never lashing out and hurting others, never stuffing our emotions down to keep the peace but feeling bitterness rise within us. Her goal is imperfect progress. It is growing in managing our emotions with rationality, peace and wisdom. It's getting out of our immediate feelings to gain perspective on what may be underneath the emotions.

I was very skeptical about the book but was very pleasantly surprised. Her words gave me a lot to think about in my relationships with my family and friends and how I tend to deal with uncomfortable emotions. I liked the reminder that emotions are external signs of internal issues.
Image courtesy of Mr Lightman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have also been reading Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and I feel like these two books are related. Boundaries talks some about not giving others control of how we feel. Others can't MAKE us feel angry. We have to choose to feel emotions and deal with it by changing our circumstances (preventing an undesirable action or event to occur that causes us feel negative emotions). We cannot ever change another person, only our response to others.

Some of this really resonates with me. I have a tendency to think that I am not living up to others' expectations and then feel guilty. This is my own negative thinking. I am allowing myself to feel guilty. I can choose to ask the other person about their expectations rather than project what I think their expectations might be. It can save a lot of anxiety. Thinking more about what words and actions stir up my emotions can help me address them for clarity. I can ask what someone meant rather than thinking the worst. It is encouraging and freeing to me.