Listen Well, Lead Better

This morning I was super confused. I was trying to figure out if it was Friday or Saturday morning, and it took far too long for me to finally arrive at the conclusion that we were still near the beginning of the week. It took another fifteen minutes or so for it to suddenly dawn on me that it was Tuesday, not Wednesday. So, there’s that.

The funny thing was, I was so relieved and excited when I realized I still had most of the week to live. So, with that in mind, I’m going to attempt to write a book review before hurrying off to work. Enjoy, my friends. 😉

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 192
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Title: Listen Well, Lead Better
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Why do so many leaders prioritize their speaking skills when communication studies show we spend more time listening than reading, writing, or speaking? The reality is, most people are below-average listeners, and it’s keeping them and their team members from reaching their potential.

In Listen Well, Lead Better, Steve and Becky Harling share 10 practices that will help you be a more effective listener and leader. Learn how to ask better questions, make people feel heard and valued, and create an open and positive culture. Strong listeners also enjoy greater credibility, navigate conflicts better, and foster more engaged teams. Above all, the lessons here will help you hear from God more clearly and gain his wisdom on all matters in life. Becoming a better listener will transform how you lead and relate to everyone.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Learning and growing and becoming more of who God wants me to be is a never-ending pursuit of mine. Learning to listen better seems like a perfect step to take while continuing on this journey. Plus, with my job I sometimes get to do various types of leading, so this book seemed very applicable to my life.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Short Answer: I really liked it.

Longer Answer: Hello, friends. I have a book that I really like and would be delighted to tell you about. In fact, I’ve already started recommending it to my friends at work. I told my boss all about it – mostly because he’s one of the best leader-listeners I’ve ever met and so the book kept making me think about him.

Every chapter in this book covers a topic that I think would be helpful for anyone – not just the leader, although that is the main focus. The authors (a husband and wife team) share candidly from their own lives, letting us learn from their mistakes, as well as see their victories.

Reading the book will help you discover how you can become more self-aware without becoming self-obsessed (a huge difference), figure out how to view and engage in conflict in a constructive manner, ask helpful questions, and show people that they’re valued. Each chapter ends with a list of questions that you can ask yourself and other people to gauge where you are and help you grow to where you should be.

The last chapter talks about how we should take the time to stop the busyness of life each day and listen to God. I was delighted that they included that, because no matter how successful you are as a leader (or person) and no matter how well you listen to people, if you’re not listening to God, then your life will never be all it can be.

CONCLUSION

I really enjoyed reading this book. It helped me grow, inspired me to listen better, and made me want to give out a dozen copies to friends. It’s equipping, easy to read, and quotes the scriptures to back up the points they’re trying to make.

RATING

I’m giving Listen Well, Lead Better out of 5 stars. I’m so thankful for the generosity of Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

The Rejuvenation

I just turned over the last pages of a book, my coffee is nearly gone, my camper has finally warmed up, and I have The Piano Guys jamming out on my phone (not literally, of course). These wee hours of cuddling with blankets on my couch and knowing that the rest of the world hasn’t fully awoken yet so I can ignore my phone are my refueling times.

As the clock ticks on, my phone gives me the alert that I need to be at work in an hour, so I start to switch gears and wrap things up. Clothing to don, lunch to pack, a little home to straighten.

If I were an electronic device, sleep might be the equivalent of being plugged in, but my real rejuvenating times – imagine a supercharge of some kind – comes from these calm and quiet mornings. Mornings, when I can pray, seek God, repent of sins I’ve seen in my life, and ask God to help me become more like Him. Reading His Word, memorizing His truth, and acknowledging that I’m nothing without Him have helped me keep my life on track.

Life has a way of zooming by. When I’m in a period of transition – learning something new – all too often all my energy is focused on that particular area of life and I forget about the rest. I forget about personal growth and making sure I’m walking in love. I forget to do self-checks and make sure I’m not allowing sin to creep into my life. I forget to keep up with the little things – which, when you look back on each season of life, aren’t so little after all.

My morning times help combat this phenomenon.

The quiet times in the morning aren’t about me. They’re about seeking God. They’re a time when I remind myself that without Him, I’m nothing. A time when I dig into His Truth, so I have the adequate tools to keep the lies of the world at bay. A time when I can assess how my life is going and ask His help to see the truth, instead of through the prejudiced glass of how I often see myself. It’s a time when I can delve into books that will help me learn and grow.

The mornings are a delight. My favorite part of the day. A peaceful lull in the chaotic abundance of life’s busyness. The mornings are my moorings – the anchor that helps me stay resting in the goodness of God.

Lies Women Believe {It’s only January and I already have a 5-star read}

Good morning, friends! Every once in a while I get into a kick when nonfiction is my go-to for reading, and I find myself wanting to get up earlier each morning so I can read for longer before heading off to work. This book pushed me into one such mood, and a couple books later, I’m still happily there.

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 320
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Title: Lies Women Believe
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Counter the lies that keep you from abundant living.

Satan is the master deceiver; his lies are endless. And the lies Christian women believe are at the root of most of their struggles.

“Many women live under a cloud of personal guilt and condemnation,” says Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. “Many are in bondage to their past. Others are gripped by fear of rejection and a longing for approval. Still others are emotional prisoners.”

In this bestseller, Lies Women Believe, Nancy exposes those areas of deception most commonly believed by Christian women—lies about God, sin, priorities, marriage and family, emotions, and more. She then sheds light on how we can be delivered from bondage and set free to walk in God’s grace, forgiveness, and abundant life. Nancy offers the most effective weapon to counter and overcome Satan’s deceptions: God’s truth!

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Last year I read A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe and it was amazing. I wrote a five-star review, have recommended it to many people, and have even pulled it out multiple times to read quotes to friends. It was in my top three books I read in 2019, and since I read over 120 books, that’s saying a lot.

When I realized I had the opportunity to read this book and share my thoughts about it with y’all, I was delighted.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I am a very honest person. Or, at least I thought I was. Recently though, I’ve been realizing I lie to myself a lot. Would I lie to someone else? Of course not. But, when I lie to myself I can easily justify the whys and swallow the believable excuses I hand myself. I tell myself that it’s okay because no one is getting hurt, when in reality I’m hurting myself by living as if the lies I believe are truth.

As I read this book, I realized that I not only believed the lies I told myself, but I also believe lies that are prevalent in our culture today. Identifying the lies, and then combating them with the truth from God’s Word can make a world of difference in how I live and what I do with my time and energy.

Some of the categories the lies in this book fall into are Lies Women Believe About:
-God
-Themselves
-Sin
-Emotions
-Sexuality
-Priorities and
-Marriage

Some of the specific lies the book talks about are:
-I can’t control my emotions
-I don’t have time to do everything I’m supposed to do
-My sin isn’t really that bad
-If my circumstances were different, I would be different
-I have to have a husband to be happy
-I need to love myself more
-I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings

Each of the lies is discussed, described, and then combated with God’s Word. It was so refreshing and enlightening to see what God has to say, compared to what the world is throwing at us.

Reading this book not only helped me identify areas in my life that I need to change but also reminded me about how amazing it is to serve a God who knew what lies we’d be facing long before we were ever born. God’s Word is full of wisdom, help, answers, and loving commandments about how we’re supposed to live our lives to bring God glory and honor.

CONCLUSION

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I highly recommend it. There were a few minor things I didn’t agree with, but they didn’t take away from the overall message of the book at all.

 

RATING

I’m giving Lies Women Believe out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

Disappearing Church

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Title: Disappearing Church
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

When church and culture look the same…

For the many Christians eager to prove we can be both holy and cool, cultural pressures are too much. We either compartmentalize our faith or drift from it altogether—into a world that’s so alluring.

Have you wondered lately:

  • Why does the Western church look so much like the world?
  • Why are so many of my friends leaving the faith?
  • How can we get back to our roots?

Disappearing Church will help you sort through concerns like these, guiding you in a thoughtful, faithful, and hopeful response. Weaving together art, history, and theology, pastor and cultural observer Mark Sayers reminds us that real growth happens when the church embraces its countercultural witness, not when it blends in.

It’s like Jesus said long ago, “If the salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything…”

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

When I moved from Ohio to Kentucky last year, besides leaving my family, the hardest part was leaving my church. It was a church that pulled together, worked together, and that I felt was making a difference in our little country community.

The next seven months were spent trying to figure out exactly what function church played in my life. I knew it was important. I knew I needed to go to church consistently. I knew the church I would end up staying at would be one the stood firmly on the authority of God’s Word. Other than that though, I had a lot of variables to consider and categorize in order of importance.

So, for the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about churches, having conversations (both with God and humans) about what place they should have in my life, and reading books and listening to sermons discussing the church.

Hence the reason I read this book.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The page number might be small, but the words pack a punch. I can generally read through a book fairly fast, but this volume doesn’t allow for skimming. There’s a lot of information in this book that I agree with and found myself nodding along with as I read.

Post-Christianity is not pre-Christianity; rather post-Christianity attempts to move beyond Christianity, whilst simultaneously feasting upon its fruit.

Post-Christian culture attempts to retain the solace of faith, whilst gutting it of the costs, commitments, and restraints that the gospel places upon the individual will. Post-Christianity intuitively yearns for the justice and shalom of the kingdom, whilst defending the reign of the individual will. Post-Christianity is Christianity emptied of its content. (Pages 15 & 16)

The author points out how churches need to be careful to make sure that in their fight for relevance they aren’t trading the truth of God’s Word for the draw of being like the culture. And I wholly agree. I don’t think the church should refuse to change, but it’s scary what direction a lot of the churches in America are heading in. We aren’t called to fit in. We’re called to be salt and light. When we trade our salt and light for numbers, then we have a problem.

There are also various claims made by the author that I’ve not studied, and therefore can’t adequately give my opinion on. The book did give me a lot to ponder, and I spent many mornings reading through it and challenging myself to re-think how I currently view the church compared to what God’s Word says.

CONCLUSION

The author asks a lot of questions, quotes a lot of people, and doesn’t shy away challenging the reader to re-think their stance on the church. It helped me better define what role church plays in my life, and I’m thankful for that.

RATING

I’m giving Disappearing Church 3 out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

Living Love

This morning I woke up in awe about how well taken care of I am by my family and friends.

As you might have gathered in my previous posts, living my life with love – God’s love – is something I’m working on learning. Sometimes it’s simple and makes sense, and other times it’s harder to implement in my life as I wage an internal fight because I really want to do what want, rather than showing love.

Living out God’s love each day isn’t a loud and showy process – instead, I’ve found it’s a deep quietness where I put others above myself. Sometimes I think about it in the moment and choose to show love, other times I can look back at my day and realize I’ve softly been showing love without having to consciously choose. And then… Well, there are the times when I’m prompted to show love, and instead do my own thing because it’s easier and more fun.

Changing my nature – so my natural response is to serve others in love rather than serving others for selfish reasons, or to serve myself – isn’t easy. But thankfully I’m not doing it alone. I have the best example ever in the Creator of the Universe because He came down to serve us. To serve His creation. How amazing and awe-inspiring is that?

Recently I’ve been shown love as people have set aside time for deep conversations with me, made me special coffee, told me the truth in kindness to help me grow, and gotten up early in the morning to make me a delicious breakfast while I was visiting them.

Last week my brother took a task from me that had caused a bit of mental anguish and sweetly told me he’d take care of it – without me even asking him to. My family bought me special food while I was visiting them to go with a unique way I’m currently eating for health. A coworker gave me a bottle of kombucha after I mentioned I really liked it, but am budgeting so I’d have to wait until the end of the month to see if I could buy any. Another coworker bought games and we had a delightful time playing after a work party because I didn’t feel inclined to watch the movie the rest of the team was watching.

All of these examples are things that people could have easily not done and I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. In fact, I didn’t expect any of them. But they did do the things, and I feel so loved and taken care of because of them.

Today, I’m praying that God helps me live His love and be a light to those around me.

Is it All About​ Me?

I can be a pretty nice person. I do thoughtful things for others. I help people.

All too often though, I then spend the next couple minutes patting myself on the back, giving myself high-fives and self-centered-ly making it all about me. And when I make it into something about me, I’m no longer being thoughtful or kind to others, no matter how helpful I’m being.

See, it’s not supposed to be about me.

It seems like every day I’m bombarded by the message that I’m supposed to do what’s best for me. I’m supposed to do what need to cope. I’m told that if I don’t put myself first, then I can’t help others. I’m supposed to stay true to myself, no matter what that actually looks like.

And to a certain extent, there’s truth to that message – but in a far different way than how it’s normally taken.

IMG_3805Mostly though, the messages that tell me how important I am as I scroll through Instagram, read articles online, or see a commercial, get it totally wrong. My worth comes from the fact that I’m made in the image of God. I was created by Him and had purpose and meaning before I was even born.

When I serve someone else, I want it to be because they, too, are made in the image of God. That each and every person I come in contact with has a soul that is going to last for all of eternity. I want to serve because we are called to be like Jesus, and He is the best example of being a servant that we could ever have.

My self-worth doesn’t come from serving others. My self-worth doesn’t come from how many people recognize me as being helpful (although I will always appreciate a thank you). My self-worth is far greater than it could ever be if it was based on who I am and what I do. Because you see, my self-worth isn’t actually contingent on self at all. Instead, it’s based on the fact that when God sees me, He sees me washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

Recently I’ve been working at having my actions sprout from love rather than guilt, pride, or condemnation. I want everything I do to spill forth with God’s love because we have the immense privilege (and responsibility) of being God’s hands and feet in the world.

Dirty Dishes in my Fridge

Currently, my fridge is full of dirty dishes.

I bet you didn’t expect that opening sentence. To be fair, I never expected to write a sentence like that, so I guess we’re on equal ground here.

The last forty minutes were a scramble as I piled semi-dirty clothes into my laundry hamper, gathered empty water jugs, took out my trash, packed an overnight bag, and put Christmas presents into a gift bag. This is a refrain that plays itself out every few weeks when I have the opportunity to go back home to Ohio.

IMG_3926

I’m going to be gone for four nights, so I also grabbed the already-made-food I had in my fridge and added that to the loads I carried out to the car. There were only a few dishes – two small pans (which I sometimes keep food in), a lid, a spoon, and two storage containers, and a bowl. Of course, I don’t want those things cluttering up my sink while I’m gone, but living in a camper has made me think outside the box.

Washing dishes is no longer a second-nature, automatic part of living. I have no running water. I can’t let the water I haul in go down the drain. And the water I do have access to is freezing cold since it sits by my door in all types of weather.

Therefore, washing dishes is somewhat of a process as I get water from the five-gallon buckets that my neighbors kindly fill up, heat it up in my electric kettle, then add cold water and soap to my little tub sink. Because of that, I let my dishes pile up (aka wait until there are about fifteen items, which is a couple days worth of dishes), before I wash them.

This morning I had enough other things I wanted to accomplish before I went to work that I went with the little hack of simply keeping the dishes in the fridge instead of taking the time to clean them. (Yes, you may judge me if you want.)

The reality is though that I do have clean water available to me. I could have taken the time to heat my water up and wash my dishes. If I really wanted, I could even move out of my camper during the winter because it is more work living here during the cold months.

And that makes me stop and think of the people who don’t have options. To those who live in refugee camps around the world. To the homeless here in my own country. To people who live in villages without wells.

Sure, I might run out of freshwater and have to carry a jug to work with me to fill it up or run to the store to buy a gallon, but I have a never-ending supply of water, even though it might be inconvenient to tap into it at times. There are people all over the world without this blessing. Who walk for eight hours a day simply to get enough water to survive – and that’s not an exaggeration. A few years back I went to a village in Ghana, West Africa where that was the case.

Today I’m challenging you not only to be thankful for the blessings you have – like clean water – but to also do something for someone who doesn’t have those blessings. There are so many easy, but incredibly helpful ways you can help, like praying, donating money, and being a voice.

You, my friend, can make a difference.

Check out World Vision if you want a practical way to get started with helping. Seriously, even five or ten dollars can make an impact in someone’s life.