Review by Rayna: Scary Close

Scary Close:  Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy is an interesting read and a deviation from what I usually share here.

I have been familiar with Donald Miller because of his business acumen not as a person.  After reading this book I would say I know him pretty well.  He challenges everything you know about being honest and authentic.  To be honest at times a little uncomfortable honest for me.

This book is Don sharing about his journey to that altar and how he rose to the challenge of truly revealing himself to his beloved.  Realizing he has been very good at performing and keeping people at a distance he shares his journey to making that change.  Willingness to get Scary Close was required.

He starts the book with an author’s note that says, “We will never feel loved until we drop the act, until we are willing to show our true selves to the people around us.” Author Unknown.  This is a great opener to what Don will share throughout this book.

This is not a how to book.  There are no steps to follow rather a book to walk beside Don as he shares his journey to learning to perform less, be himself more and overcome a complicated fear of being known.

I’m not sure about you but those 3 things peaked my curiosity for sure.  Don’s stories both entertains and challenges us to look at ourselves and see what choices we are making in life. Are we living true to ourselves and developing relationships with others who know who we really are or are we playing it safe and just showing those around us the person we know they will like?

Don closes with a few bold statements about love and what he has learned about it.

“We are never going to be perfect in love but we can get close.  The closer we get, the healthier we will be.” And “Love is not a game any of us can win it’s just a story we can live and enjoy.”

If you would like to enjoy a challenging yet easy read I would encourage you to get to know Donald Miller better and learn how to get Scary Close!


I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.  Please share below.

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Review by Rayna: No Easy Jesus

No Easy Jesus:  How the Toughest Choices Lead to the Greatest Life

No Easy Jesus is an honest look at the Jesus we have made Him out to be.  Many of us got to know Jesus and were excited about our relationship with Him years ago.  Things were great but then life happened and things did not go the way we expected so we began to feel a deep disappointment.

Eventually we reach a place where we began to feel that there must be more than this to the Christian life. 

Jason lays it out in what a life of a true follower of Christ looks like.  The true Jesus follower doesn’t do the easy stuff but rather the tough stuff that makes the best life possible.  Jesus held out the promise of a rich and satisfying life.

Discouragement, frustration and boredom are common among those who are serving the easy Jesus.  You do not have to be spiritually elite to experience a different life.

No Easy Jesus challenges you to take your faith to the next level.

Chapter 10 was my favorite.  Jason talks about how difficult it is to love others.  He sheds light on how our love often turns into demands.  He reminds us that love does not demand things of others.  When love has demands then resentment often follows.  Love can only exist in freedom.  Challenging words and something I’m still processing to be honest.

I recommend this somewhat quick read.  It will challenge you and help you better understand why you might be experiencing boredom or disappointment in your relationship with Jesus.

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Review by Rayna: No More Faking Fine

No More Faking Fine:  Ending the Pretending

The title itself is one we all relate to I think.  We have all faked it during seasons of life and frankly I’m not sure there is any other way to make it  in public and on the job but the one time we NEVER have to fake it is with God.

Esther Fleece shares the story of her heartbreaking childhood and how the message to “suck it up” and do what she needed to do affected her life and relationship with the Lord.  She writes “Just because you picked yourself up again and keep moving doesn’t mean you are healed.  And if you keep moving with a wound that needs attention, you will only make it worse.”(58)

 

Esther’s journey to finding true healing is beautiful.  She has much to share with us about her experience but greater than that she challenges us to experience healing as well “Ignoring our past can rob us of the opportunity to encounter God when we need it most.  But lament opens our eyes to see He was there then and He is here now. “ (59) .  Life is painful and learning to experience lament can make all the difference in your healing.

Learning a new way to pray through the most difficult questions:  Why, How Long? Don’t Forget Me! and Forgive me brought hope to Esther and will bring hope to your life as well.

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Review by Rayna: Choose to THRIVE

Choose to THRIVE is a challenging book written for high-achieving women.  Debbie’s style of direct and to the point communication style is refreshing.  She openly shares her challenges and life experience in order to encourage her reader to address her own issues.

In the book Debbie shares 9 character qualities most high-achieving women possess and how they can cause problems in our lives.  I found myself relating to many of the qualities as I am sure you will too.

I enjoyed the style of Debbie’s book.  She points out the qualities, how they can cause a problem when unbalanced and then shares how she found balance in her own life.  Each chapter ends with questions to help you examine yourself and begin the process of working on finding your balance.

The chapter that impacted me the most was the one one perfectionism.  I have known that I have this character quality all my life and I have worked hard to put people  before perfection but I often still find myself struggling it and not even realizing I’m doing it.  Here is an excerpt from Debbie’s chapter addressing perfectionism.

It takes a conscious effort to step back and look at what we are asking for. Does it leave room for people, including ourselves, to do what they do best? Or does it pigeonhole them into doing things the way we think is best? Do people believe they have the latitude to take calculated risks without harsh repercussions? Do you give yourself grace when you mess up? Do you give your child grace when they don’t do as well as you think they should have?  Are we leaving room for God to work?

Perfectionism is something I have been aware of in my life for a long time.  I was challenged and encouraged by the way Debbie addressed her struggle with perfectionism.  If you consider yourself a high-achiever I’m sure that you will benefit from reading Choose to THRIVE and examining some of the inner conflicts you face.

Review by Rayna: The Kindness Challenge

The Kindness Challenge:  30 Days to Improve Any Relationship

 


I am a big fan of Shaunti Feldhahn’s books.  I love the way research helps us understand ourselves and others better.  The Kindness Challenge is no different!

One of the most interesting facts Shaunti’s researched revealed has to so a common fact people who thrive possess.  “Whether we thrive depends far more on how we choose to treat others than on how we ourselves are treated.” “The place to our happy place starts with one choice, Werther or not to be kind.  Especially when we really don’t want to.”  (p. 1)

 

 

This finding really struck me.  Much is said about the good old days and one of the things I have noticed is that common courtesy seems to be a thing of the past.  People don’t seem to do much of what they don’t feel like it.

This book challenges us to go back to this practice in very small ways.  Think about focusing on the best in those around us.  Think about how we can offer kindness each and everyday.

 

The Kindness Challenge was written after 10 years of challenging people to do 3 simple, as in not complex, items.  The 3 things they were challenged to do were 1.  Say nothing negative, either to your person or about them to someone else.  2.  Every day, find one positive thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.  3.   Every day, do a small act of kindness or generosity for your person.

 

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?  The research shows that there is amazing impact on our relationships when we are more kind.

 

Shaunti found that we are more unkind than we realize.  Being unkind is much more acceptable in our world than being mean is.  Unkindness can take on many different forms.   I found the list of 7 negative habits we don’t even realize we have was very helpful.  There is no doubt that practicing these 7 things can definitely make us more focused on the negatives in our lives.  Do you do any of these 7?  1.  The knee jerk reaction that things will be hard.  2.  Exasperation, Irritation, & Pointing out mistakes 3.  Sarcasm.  4.  Grumble, Grumble.  5.  You Hurt Me, I Hurt You.  6.  Suspicion.  7.  Catastrophizing.  Some of these are habits I need to pay more attention to, others are not as hard for me.

I am joining the Kindness Challenge, will you join me?

I would love to have you join me on Take Heart Transitions Facebook page in sharing your experience on the 30 Day Kindness Challenge.  There are lots of great resources available at http://www.jointhekindnesschallenge.com/

Sign up today & then share on FB.

Review by Rayna: Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity

Overwhelmed is one of the best books I have read.  I don’t feel that I am a person who sits in overwhelm very often but I learned a lot from Kathi and Cheri’s book.

The goal of the book is to help us learn to: expand our capacity for joy regardless of life circumstances, make intentional choices today that serve us tomorrow, trade the to do list that controls us for a calendar that creates space for our lives, decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite, and finally replace fear of the future with peace in the present. 

Kathi and Cheri break down the 5 reasons we reach a point of overwhelm.
  1.  Decision fatigue
  2.  Lack of understanding your true self   
  3.  Not being true to your true self 
  4.  Doing too much for too many with too little for too long. 
  5.  Unexpected emergencies. 
  6.  Disappointment and worry. 

Gaining understanding of the fact that my overwhelm is not the same as others around me helped me… Click To Tweet

Since, I am not prone to overwhelm as I had defined it the 6 kinds of overwhelm was very helpful.

The second part of the book went into realistic ideas to help overcome overwhelm.

I appreciated that they were all practical and logical suggestions.  I will share just a few highlights in this review.

Kathi does an amazing job explaining how routine helps us avoid overwhelm by preparing ourselves for what is to come.  She talks about being nice to our future selves.  I really like thinking of taking the time to do something now as being nice to me tomorrow.

We set ourselves up for overwhelming failure when we place unrealistic expectations on our future selves.  The best way to take care of our future self is by predeciding

The concept of predeciding is one that really made an impact on me and challenged my mindset.  Predeciding is done before you face an overwhelming situation.

Predeciding who you are as a person, what your core values are and how you will act save you time energy and agony.  Deciding in the moment to do the right thing is exhausting and completely overwhelming at times.  “Predeciding makes sure your future self is your very best self.”

Another impactful section was around living in crisis.  Cheri describes her life as going from crisis to crisis but she learned from Kathi that the overwhelm is not the only way to live even in crisis.

If a short-term crisis is dragging on for so long that it is starting to become your new normal then don’t wait for things to get back to normal, they might not.  Find a healthy new normal you can live with.  Stop living as if you are in a crisis.

One more area that stuck out to me was self care.  Making self care a nonnegotiable is a must.  Taking care of others seems to be expected but we were never taught to care for ourselves.

Many times, we can become overwhelmed because we are too busy caring for everyone else.  I know that this is when I most often find myself feeling overwhelmed.  I want to help and I don’t want to disappoint anyone SO self care is overlooked and overwhelm soon follows.

Finally, I really enjoyed Kathi’s perspective on her different Kathis in Chapter 13 but to be honest it is too hard to explain here, so you are just going to have to read it yourself.

I find I often tell you to run out and read the books I review and I always mean it, today I think if you ever feel overwhelmed this is a MUST READ for you.

 

I would love to hear what you learned, or your favorite part after reading overwhelmed.  Leave your comment below!

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