Tag Archives: Books

Never Unfriended {Book Review}

Have you ever wished for a friend who would show up on your doorstep with a steaming latte and a hug on a rough day? Or one you could call after your heart’s been broken by bad news from home?

Maybe you feel like friendship is too risky because you’ve been wounded one too many times or misunderstood in ways that have cut too deeply.

As an extrovert, I have dozens of relationships a mile wide but I don’t always go deep with people. I’ve found that there are hurt places deep inside and fearful, jealous thoughts that keep me from being truly open and vulnerable. I knew this year that God was calling me to deepen my friendships. That’s why I’m so thankful Lisa Jo Baker, an author and the community manager at www.incourage.me, wrote the book Never Unfriended this spring.

Never-Unfriended-Cover-500First of all, Lisa Jo writes in a magical style. She makes you feel like she’s literally going to reach through the pages and hug you or offer you a tissue while you’re wiping away tears because her words tell you that she gets you and your feelings. Her timely blogs and books have always met me right where I’m at.

“We smile at birthday parties and play dates and in our cubicles. We smile at church during worship and when the pastor shakes our hand. We nod and smile and say we’re fine, the kids are fine, work is fine, marriage is fine, just fine, thanks for asking. And all the while there’s this big, messy, gaping wound bleeding raw right through our perfectly fine outfit that we hope no one notices. All the while desperate for somebody to care enough to see.”

Secondly, Never Unfriended digs deep and makes us examine all our hurt places and apply the salve of God’s truth to heal us. Because we all have relationship wounds. Sin has broken us and broken people hurt others. Maybe it’s family patterns that taught us how to relate in an unhealthy way, or a harsh friend breakup in junior high, or our own feelings of inadequacy that have projected our fears onto the way others welcome us or not. The title “Never Unfriended” doesn’t mean the book guarantees we’ll find the perfect BFF – rather, it speaks of how we can know that we are safe and secure in Christ’s friendship with us.

“It’s such an insane relief. To stop waiting for her reply…to my tentative, humiliating need for validation. To, instead, let myself fall deeply, fully, wholly into the great, insanely unlimited, bottomless tank of God’s approval…Jesus is never tired of me always needing Him. Instead, He is delighted by how desperately I need His validation and He never, ever withholds it from me. Or from you.”

Never Unfriended is full of practical ideas, searching questions, and healing truth. It’s about friendship…and so much more. Order it here today. 


The Bible as a Story

Why Bible Study? Part I

When I turned eleven, my parents gave me the Anne of Green Gables books. I connected with those stories on a level I never had before. I laughed with my mom late at night reading how Anne cracked her slate over Gilbert’s head. When her friend Ruby died I cried for the first time while reading a book. And I couldn’t stop turning the pages of the parts during World War I.

God built us to connect this way, and chose to speak to us through a rich collection of stories that weave history together. Unfortunately, we sometimes miss the story element of his word.

We get stuck thinking that the Bible is either
a.) a rulebook telling us how to live,
b.) a book of random stories for kids or
c.) a deep theology textbook for discussion.

“The Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story,” writes Sally Lloyd-Jones in The Jesus Storybook Bible. “There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.”

God doesn’t connect with us through rules. He reaches out to us in relationship. The Bible paints us a picture of his heart and shows us how he interacts with the world.

The Bible isn’t just one book. It’s a collection of 66 books. It contains multiple types of literature such as
– Stories
– Poetry
– Proverbs/sayings
– Prophecy
– Letters

Not all of the Bible might be “stories” but it all intertwines, telling the story of God’s plan. None of it is random. All the authors wrote with the same goal, under this overarching theme.

Understanding the types of literature in the Bible helps us see the different books more clearly. I’ll read the story of Abraham through a different lens than the one I use to read the poetic psalms or the letters in the New Testament. I’ll see that the books of prophecy weren’t a story meant to entertain but rather behind-the-scenes details in God’s plan. I’ll feel the heart of God’s people in the psalms.

When we separate these things out, we gain a richer understanding of what God’s word says and are less likely to miss things that show us the beauty of God.

How has looking at the big picture of God’s story helped you understand the small sections of his word better?

Books…They’re Good for the Soul {31 Days}

Sometimes a book sticks with you your whole life. By the time I was a teenager I had read nearly all of Janette Oke’s Christian fiction novels. Over and over again.

Our family when I was about 18 years old.

Our family when I was about 18 years old.

And my mom got me into it with one book. Once Upon a Summer.

It’s about a boy named Josh who is incredibly ordinary. But it’s stinkin’ hilarious and very whimsical. Mom used to read to us at the supper table. We’d finish our tuna casserole or chicken and rice and sit talking as a family, and she’d pull out a book and read. In spite of our large family around the table, the only sounds you could hear besides her voice were the ceiling fan humming and a fly or two buzzing at the screen window as we listened to her.

It sticks with me because sometimes Mom would read ahead a paragraph or two as she paused to take a drink and she would start laughing – sometimes so hard she couldn’t read – and we’d all clamor, “What? What? Read it!” She’d finally catch her breath and read on, making us all laugh with her.

Growing up I read like a sponge – everything I could get my hands on, every spare moment of the day. Most of my 8 siblings did. We used to sit on the front porch of our Kansas farmhouse and snap beans together and I’d prop a book like Old-Fashioned Girl up in front of me and read aloud. That one made us laugh a lot, too.

Mom instilled in us a love for fun and for making memories. She always quoted Scriptures, too. One that I remember her often saying is, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” She tackled our long days and grumpy hearts with God’s words, knowing they had power to change us.

So thankful to be able to look back and remember the medicine of laughing together as a family. What joyful memories still make you smile?