Giveaway Winner & my Friday Favs!

Here we are once again…it’s Friday!

I’m super excited because we’re going to the mountains today! Josh was asked to attend Life Pacific‘s Fall Retreat this year and the thought of being home alone with all four kids for two whole days had me terrified. Luckily, our friend, who also works at the college, pulled some strings to make it possible for the kids and I to tag along!

Funnily enough, this will only be my second retreat with Life Pacific; my first being my freshman year the Fall of 1999.

I’m looking forward to the coolness of the mountain air, some pine trees that will remind me of home, and inspiring worship and messages. We’re only going to be gone for one night, but I’m going to make the most of it!

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Now, without further ado…I will announce the winner of my first giveaway!

The winner of their very own, personal copy of Anne Jackson‘s “Permission to Speak Freely” is…*

Laura

Congratulations!

I’ll be emailing you to get your shipping information. For those of you who didn’t win, I wish I could buy each person who entered a book. However, I have four children and no job, so I’d suggest heading out to your nearest bookstore and picking it up! :)

Oh, and the next time I decide to do a giveaway would someone please remind me that if it ends at midnight I have to stay up till midnight? Thanks…

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And now for my Friday Favs…

Meeting people from Twitter and blogging in real life makes it that much more fun to read what they write. I got to meet Dawn Carter at our tweetup last month.

Josh and I sat next to her and her husband, the guys bonded over the fact that they have crazy wives addicted to Twitter. Even better, we discovered that we have a six degrees of separation thing going on through Life Pacific College and the Idea Camp.

So this week Dawn wrote two posts that I really connected with and wanted to share.

The first was a guest post for Tyler Braun as part of his Dancing Jesus: Mentoring in the Church blog series.

Dawn provides a number of reasons not to mentor. What I loved about this post is that I really believe in mentoring. I want more mentoring and I want to mentor more. The most important thing about mentoring though is that you’re doing it for the right reasons. My main right reason is: God told me to.

The last thing we need is this flavor of exhausted Christian influencing another generation. Mentoring isn’t about adding another project to do. Or having someone under your tutelage. In fact, it isn’t about you at all. (Dawn Carter, Man of Depravity.com)

Ahh! I love this post!

The second post that Dawn wrote this week was on her own blog, The Chronicles of Dawnia.

So here’s the thing. I’ve been a SAHM for a while now and I haven’t really been participating in ministry outside my home (because being a mom is a ministry…can I get an AMEN). But, I have been reading blogs, listening to sermons, attending online seminars and reading books about ministry, Christian life, leadership, mentoring, burnout, and more.

I have become Jabba the Christian.

And Dawn pointed it out to me. She is starting to do something about it and I am praying about starting to do something about it — is that like saying I’ll start my diet on Monday? But truthfully, I know that I’ve been consuming a lot and I want to make sure that I’m looking for those opportunities that God provides for me to pour it out.

That’s partly why I started this blog; I see it as a ministry.

As Dawn says:

It feels good. And it beats being the huge green Hutt. (Chronicles of Dawnia)

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Jonathan Acuff is brilliant. He has discovered a way of making fun of Christians without causing us all to become defensive. Maybe it’s because we know he’s one of us. It’s like that rule that it’s ok for me to make fun of my sister, but if you try to do it I’ll punch you in the face. I never feel like punching Jonathan in the face.

He should make that his new tagline:

Jonathan Acuff | A Guy You Don’t Want to Punch in the Face

Anyway, as funny as he is, I’ve discovered a little secret about him…a secret I share with the hordes of others who read his blog. He’s actually smart and serious. Every Wednesday is “serious day” at the Stuff Christians Like blog. God has definitely spoken to me through a few of these Wednesday posts (He speaks through the funny ones too, just so you know).

Back to the point…this Wednesday Jon Acuff wrote a post titled: Wondering why God makes life impossible sometimes. He discusses those situations with God where:

More than just not showing up when I want him to in the way I want him to, it feels like he actually makes things harder than they need to be. (Jonathan Acuff, StuffChristiansLike.net)

Aside from the funny story about him in his underwear in 8th grade, Jonathan gives an interesting reason for why God does this in our life. I’m not going to tell you though, you have to read it for yourself.

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So that’s it…we have a winner to my first giveaway, some good blog posts for you to peruse this weekend and I’m off to the mountains!!

Before I go, though, I’d love to hear about your favorite posts from this week or what your weekend plans are…

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*I chose the winner by assigning each commenter a number 1-15.
The winner was #9

Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

After reading Mad Church Disease earlier this year I eagerly anticipated Anne Jackson’s latest book, Permission to Speak Freely.

Once again, Jackson is tackling a topic within the church today that’s not getting much coverage. This time instead of showing how the church asks too much, she’s pointing out that it doesn’t ask enough.

In May of 2008, Jackson asked the readers at Flowerdust.net,

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”

She then complied some of the hundreds of responses she received into a beautifully broken piece of literature. As you turn the pages of the book you’re met with one confession after another.

The purpose of this book is simple: to share the confessions I’ve received from the website or through the mail, as well as stories from my own life and experience, to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets.

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Growing up I never thought about the eccentricities that made my family unique. My assumption was that all families pretty much ran the way mine did. It wasn’t until I started dating Josh that I began to see that not every family is the same. There are different ways of doing things.

I grew up in the church. Here too, I never really questioned much. The topics of sex, depression, pornography, divorce, and doubts with God were not appropriate topics for sermons. Maybe once a year one of these topics would come up, but as with the annual tithe sermon the pastor tried to get through it as quickly, and apologetically, as possible.

In the last few years I’ve begun to recognize the importance of getting these struggles out into the open. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

We need to begin to bring these unfruitful deeds into the light to help people come out of the darkness to realize they’re not alone.

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Anne Jackson isn’t looking to provide a self-help book that tells you how to start talking about these topics. She’s just talking about them herself…and she’s providing a place for others to start their own discussion.

I loved that she didn’t wrap it up neatly in the end.

She leaves you hanging, she leaves you responsible.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and right in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set other on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.

Not me. Not this book.

Not the church, whether you go to one or not.

Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.

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This book touched on a topic that is close to my heart and I loved Anne Jackson’s handling of the topic. My copy is all marked up, but I want to give one away.

So, I’m going to buy one for one of my readers.

I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I feel like this book has a lot to say on an important topic.

I’m not doing this to grow readership and I’m not guilting you into it by making you sign up for my blog or follow me on Twitter. You can if you want, but it won’t gain you more entries.

Just leave a comment below by midnight PST Thursday 9/9 stating that you’d like the book and I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on Friday’s blog post.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mad Church Disease: A Book Review

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

{Overview}

“Does working at this church interfere with your communion with Christ?”

This question was posed to Anne Jackson following her hospitalization due to stress and burn-out. As a full-time ministry leader she identified with Bill Hybel’s statement:

“the way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in my life.”

“Burnout is a disease nobody talks about until it’s too late. Statistics and stories prove that the health of those serving in ministry is declining – spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally.” (Mad Church Disease, Anne Jackson)

I’ve been following Anne Jackson (flowerdust) on Twitter for a while now. I didn’t even know she’d written a book. Then I heard about Mad Church Disease and wanted to read it, even though I had no idea what the book was about. The title intrigued me. I added it to my “to read” list for my 2010 Book Reading Challenge and hoped I’d get to buy it soon. Imagine my joy a few days later when Anne posted on her blog that they were offering the Kindle edition for free, one day only. I jumped over to Amazon and downloaded it to my iPhone.

{How much?}

Amazon.com: $12.23

Christianbook.com: $10.19

Anne Jackson offers a preview of a free chapter on Forgiveness at her website.

{What’s included}

Anne Jackson shares not only her experiences in full-time ministry, but utilizes the experiences of other Christian leaders to emphasis her point. Additionally, at the end of certain chapters there is a section called “Exam Room.” Here Jackson presents questions which are great for doing a self-exam on your well-being. She encourages her readers to write down their answers to these questions and discuss them with others.

{What I Liked}

  • Anne Jackson has a way of presenting a topic where you feel like it’s fully covered, but you’re not bogged down in the details. She writes with humor, but it’s obvious this is a serious topic to her.
  • The interview portions of the book provide a “second opinion” on the topic. Through Anne’s discussions with prominent church leaders you gain an insight into how they deal with burn-out.
  • The “Exam Room” questions aren’t fluff. If used properly, they can provide insight into where you are on the road to burn-out.

{What I Didn’t Like}

  • Umm…honestly, I can’t think of anything. I really enjoyed this book!

{Verdict}

“The fear of letting people down, especially in spiritual matters, can often cause us to feel obligated or pressured into meeting unrealistic expectations, or worse, spending more time doing things for God instead of being what God wants us to be. That can lead to serious stress.” (Mad Church Disease, Anne Jackson)

I would recommend this book to anyone who serves in ministry in any capacity: full-time paid staff to occasional lay volunteer. Actually, I find that this correlates to non-ministry situations as well.

In one of her interviews, Anne Jackson presents this quote from Mike Foster (founder of Ethur.org):

“If I find myself losing my patience with people quickly and my thoughts become negative toward friends and family, or I find myself withdrawing from relationships, this means I’ve entered a danger zone.”

As I person who’s served in ministry, I identify with this. As a stay-at-home mom, as a wife, as a student…I identify with this. Burn-out is something that can happen in a person’s life regardless of what vocation they assume. I recommend that you read this book to identify the specific decisions that you have already made in life where Satan could step in and derail the plan God has for you.