Tag Archives: Storytelling

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?

God’s Story in my Life {31 Days}

I have a confession to make. Several actually. I got to about Day 10 of this 31 Day Challenge  and started worrying. My life sounded so idyllic. Was I talking too much about the good parts in my story? Should I conjure up all the negative things I can remember about growing up and start writing about them? How on earth will people be able to relate to my story if theirs doesn’t look the same?

I call it a grown up version of the “Christian Kid Syndrome.” If you’ve ever been to Christian summer camp you know what I mean. Kids get scared to share their story of how Christ saved them because they don’t have anything “interesting” to tell. They weren’t dealing drugs or something before they started following Jesus so their story feels insignificant.

Once at the campfire story sharing time (confession #2), I included my dad’s disability in my story just to be more relatable. Dad has a rare arthritis called Ankylosing Spondilitis and suffers chronic pain. I greatly admire his endurance in the spite of suffering, but I know I wanted to connect and told his story to do that. (Sorry, Dad. I was only 12 so I hope you’ll pardon me.) I know that’s a fairly innocent offense, but that shows the unrest going on in my heart.

IMG_1365Now as an adult, I get that my personal story means something between me and God, but I’m such a people-pleaser that I worry about what others will think when they hear it.

I worry you might be thinking…

“I’ve experienced more pain in the past year than she has in her whole life. Who does she think she is, telling me God is good in hard times?”

Or, “Her life looks perfect. Guess she can’t relate to me.”

Et cetera.

Guess what? (Confession #3) I’m over that. My life isn’t perfect. But it’s a story of God’s faithfulness regardless. God has worked in real, amazing ways in my life because he’s an awesome God – not because I’m a wonderful person.

My story is really God’s story. Just like yours. What we’ve been through (or haven’t) is not the focus.

God’s truth applies to us regardless of our individual walks of life. God can put words in my mouth to use in your life, and God can use you to speak into my life.

So embrace your story. Forgive yourself for the mistakes and sins of the past. Praise God for his work in your heart. Live this moment to glorify him. It’s his story, after all.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23 NLT

The Magic of Stories {31 Days}

Day 2.

Nothing thrilled my little girl self more than Disney’s Cinderella. Our family would borrow a VCR and the VHS tape from my dad’s co-worker and I’d stick that movie in day after day. Sometimes, toward the end of the movie, just after the Duke slipped the slipper on Cinderella’s foot, I’d quickly rewind the movie and press play again before Mom caught me. In my 4-year-old logic she’d say “No” if I asked to see it a second time, but she’d just roll her eyes and say “Ok” if she saw I was already watching it again.

I admired everything about Cinderella – her dainty feet, her perfect hair, her bed-making skills, her sweet attitude and her hard work. But the underlying reason I loved it that much was that it was the first story I really understood and appreciated. I couldn’t have told you that as I lay sprawled out on the carpet, retelling the story by drawing in one of the notepads my dad had given me from his printing shop, asking my mom to caption the pages since I couldn’t write yet. But looking back I know that’s where my love for stories and words began.

We take words for granted. They’re just a means of communication – right? We just use them to convey our meaning or express our needs or wants. But they are powerful. Ask the woman whose family labeled her as “Dummy” or “Fatty” as a little girl. Ask the man whose parents told him he could achieve great things for God. Ask the weary mom telling herself she’s a failure. Ask the little boy in the wheelchair whose brother stands up for him to kids who bully him.

If you’d go look in my “baby box,” as we called it, you’d find several books I wrote as a 5-year-old. Words I put down on paper to get the pictures out of my head. One in particular was “The boy, The Dog, and The Egg Yoke.” (Yes, “yoke.”) Mom dropped an egg on the kitchen floor once and Daddy called our dog Samson in to lick it up. It fascinated me and I wrote a story about it.

Words have power because they have a speaker with a motive. As a little girl my motive was simple: to let out my creativity and my love for stories. But not all words come from pure motives.

 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

What are some of the words that swirl around you, and what is their source? Are they worth believing?