Tag Archives: Friendship

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. 

 

Needing a Refill…of Jesus [Book Review]

 

“When was the last time you exhaled the craziness of life and sat before the Lord in silent adoration? Isn’t it unbelievable to think that, of all we could say to and do for the Lord, sometimes he just wants our silent presence with him?”
Fresh Out of Amazing, Stacey Thacker

Often I am more about getting something out of my time in the Word with God than I am about worshiping him for his own sake. I feel like a starving person just trying to get crumbs down my throat in the two minutes of snatched quiet time I get while the kids are watching Curious George than the person who can sit and relish a decadent dish of food and appreciate the chef who created it.

We talk so much in the church about spending time with God that it starts to feel cliché. But I find the only time it seems that way is actually when it’s not a constant part of my life. When I let my unsatiable hunger drive me to meet God in his word, I realize only the enemy wants me to think that precious time is a cliché.

fresh out of amazing stacey thacker elizabeth cravillion book review

There are two kinds of people. One who gives you advice, solicited or not, and one who lives and shares their story in a way that makes you say, “I want some of that.” I’ve read a lot of books and the ones that linger with me are the ones written by the second kind of person.

God used Fresh Out of Amazing to really work in my heart. The author, Stacey Thacker, gets real and raw about God’s work in her heart, peeling back the layers to show her how much she needed him. I knew before I read this book that I was tired and worn down, but I didn’t realize just how empty I truly was. My kids weren’t the only things wearing me down. Grief, disappointment, trials, comparison…so many things I’d been shoving under the rug were also affecting me. This book helped me peel back my layers, too.

What I realized most as I turned the pages was that Stacey let the struggles she faced drive her to God, and that made all the difference. That was how she could go so far as to write a book about being “fresh out of amazing”! Only meeting God in the stillness to pour out her heart, to listen, to worship, and to be silent could shape her.

This is what I want. And this book snapped the final barrier keeping me from pushing through all the interruptions to spend time with God. If you need encouragement, if you want to go deeper with God, if you are struggling to make it from your first cup of coffee to your pillow at night, pick up this book and be spurred on to depend on Christ. Find it on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

A Lamp to my Children’s Feet {31 Days}

My Charlie is a Wild Man in the making. Someday he’ll be skydiving and hang gliding and I’ll see the Instagram pictures after the fact and be thanking his guardian angel even more. So when we had our sweet Lou this summer I worried about her safety with such a rambunctious brother in the house.

We were getting back from a walk one summer afternoon when Lou was about 3 months old. I was scolding Charles for climbing on the stroller, afraid he would step on his sister, when I looked down and saw her little face grinning up at him.

My instant thought was, “Good heavens, they’re already conspiring against me!

IMG_1250My kids aren’t old enough to fight yet so as of now they adore each other. When Lou jabbers, Charlie shrieks, “Talking!” and runs over to babble with her. He takes away her nice little baby toys and replaces them with his Matchbox cars or play tools. She lies on her Boppy pillow watching him play with admiring eyes and a silly grin. I know they’ll go through plenty of sibling growing pains, but I think they’ll be good friends, too.

If there is one thing I want my children to know, it’s that they don’t have to go at this life alone. The God of the universe who seeks to guide their lives daily treasures them beyond worth.

How are they going to know this truth? Know this God who pursues them so passionately? Through his word.

God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:30-32 NLT

My children won’t have perfect lives. I won’t parent them perfectly. They will fail many times in this life. But God’s way for them is perfect and they can experience abundant life by knowing him and following his heart.

IMG_1238It is too easy for me to parent them from my own wisdom, head knowledge and habits. But a huge part of why I’m writing is because I want to passionately pursue God in his word and help kindle the same fire in them and in more children of their generation.

What does our relationship with God look like? Can the children in our lives see God and understand that the truth of his word can guide their lives, too? This is what we should be all about.

Real Love = Sacrifice {31 Days}

The spring semester of my junior year God took me through relationship boot camp. Nate and I were close friends but I was investing more than he was in our relationship and it was heading south. As two of my other friends who were dating each other worked through some things, I tried to give them advice and they both essentially told me I was a terrible listener.

I thought I knew more than I did about people, to be honest. But the closest people in my life boldly put up boundaries with me, forcing us to work through our issues and that taught me so much about friendship and real love.

nate_liz_2010

Nate and I – “just friends”

I used to be the kind of friend who willingly gave everything to others, even when they didn’t reciprocate. I was the first one to ask, “Hey, how’s it going?” every day. “How was your test? How can I help you?” I didn’t expect my friends to give back to me to that level, which sometimes enabled them to take advantage of me.

I began to see that this was unhealthy through conversations with Nate and my other friends. In order to salvage those relationships, particularly with Nate, I had to step back. I let Nate talk to me first. I let other friends come find me rather than always seeking them out. And I accepted it when they didn’t.

The crazy thing was that during this time I realized just what a good friend Nate was and how well our strengths and weaknesses balanced out. This may the weirdest thing you’ll every hear me say, but I suddenly knew that God wanted us to be together. Never mind the fact that we had both emphatically declared multiple times that we would never date.

Most significantly God taught me that love does not equal giving, as I’d always thought – the more you love, the more you give. One breakfast I was reading my Bible when I realized that love actually equals sacrifice. Sometimes, for a care giving personality like mine, love means NOT always giving but giving others the chance to give back.

By this we know love, that Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

Christ’s sacrifice for us embodies his love. For me, not giving can be a sacrifice. Giving makes me feel needed. If I’m needed, my relationships feel secure. But true loves seeks out the best of the other person, and doing everything for them is not for their best.

For months, all I felt God allowed me to do for Nate was to pray for him. I did little to initiate friendship in any way and let him choose when and how to be my friend.

So I did set aside time to pray for him every day. It was a giant step of faith but I learned more about love during that time than ever before in my life.

Softening Hardened Hearts {31 Days}

I started cleaning houses when I was 16, mostly for elderly people. Today my story is about the grumpiest person I’ve ever known, and the most endearing.

Ruth lived in a little house that had stepped straight out of 1970. It had barely aged a day, probably because it never saw the sunlight, tucked behind heavy dark drapes.

Her wizened body was stooped from osteoporosis. She hobbled around her house, determined to do everything possible herself. She had reached her limit though when it came to things like vacuuming and changing her bed sheets, so she reluctantly decided to hire a housekeeper.

I can’t tell you how many times she told me how much she hated people. She complained every time she opened her mouth. Nothing was good enough. Everyone was conspiring against everything. Every week she’d tell me such grouchy stories that when I left her house I’d sit in my car busting a gut laughing.

“Once we had an infestation of pigeons in the neighborhood. One of the guys would go shoot them when they roosted in his garage. It was against the law but none of us turned him in because we hated the pigeons so much.”

But for some reason, Ruth loved me. I became the only person in her life that could do anything right. I helped her with her housework and let her do what she could on her own. It took us about half an hour to change her sheets together. I used to share devotionals that I wrote with her and tell her little things about God. I believe the light of Christ in me attracted her.

I cleaned for her about 4 years before she passed away. She told me once, “I hate people, but I like you.” She recommended me to several friends, including her wonderful, darling neighbors. Little positive comments started coming out of her mouth more as we worked together.

To me, Ruth’s softening proves that God’s word and Jesus’ love really can change hearts. I don’t know that Ruth ever trusted Christ, but I’m thankful God gave me the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to her in a small way.

A Turning Point {31 Days}

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
Proverbs 27:5-7

Have you ever been jarred awake by the confrontation of a friend? It’s shocking, but if you receive it, it can be purifying.

For years as a teen I obsessed about boys. I didn’t date them, as a conservative homeschool girl, but I dreamed about them and longed to be liked by them. I filled my diaries with them.

I thought I was hiding these feelings, but I never guessed how others saw me, until a good friend told me one night. Some people thought I was a flirt.

liz0004Wait, what? Flirtatious girls were those ones who led guys on just for the attention. I legitimately cared about most of the guys I liked and just tried to be friendly. How could I be a flirt?

That confrontation sunk into my soul. I started paging through my journals and reading my heart on those pages and the Spirit convicted me deeply. Boys, boys, boys.

Hadn’t I said I wanted Jesus to be number one in my life? Then where was he?

Now going back to my journals, I see change from that night forward. I really started evaluating myself and seeking to know God more. Shortly after that I began journaling love letters to Jesus and discovering the delight of spiritual intimacy with him.

My desire for a relationship with a guy didn’t go away but my perspective shifted and I started wanting Christ more. I started living out some of those “Yes, Jesus,” choices I had made years before. I’m so thankful for my friend’s boldness to confront me in love.

Have you ever been challenged in a way you’ll never forget by the Spirit of God or by a friend?