Mindy’s Good Reads 2015

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One of my life-long goals is to read an average of one book a month… And I have my book club to thank for keeping me on track!  Here’s what I read in 2015:

These three were absolutely extraordinary:

Epic of Eden by Sandra Richter (Old Testament theology)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (Muslim intellectual encounters Jesus)

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller (marriage)

The rest of the list (alphabetical):

Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Olympic rowing team)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Iceland, murder mystery)

Counting by 7’s by Holly Sloan (Young adult, brilliant child in foster care)

Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (women in the genealogy of Christ)

Lord, Is It Warfare? Teach Me to Stand by Kay Arthur (Ephesians, spiritual warfare)

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (autobiography that inspired the prison series)

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (American orphans 1800s)

Return of the Prodigal by Henri Nouwen (analysis of the prodigal son parable)

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst (life management)

The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe (my fall teaching topic)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (England, plague in the middle ages)

Did you have a favorite book in 2015?  I’d love to hear about it!

Virtual Summer Book Club

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So my Bible study group is doing a “virtual book club” for MeaningMarriageNormslthe summer.  We are reading Timothy Keller’s highly acclaimed book “The Meaning of Marriage”.  It’s kind of an experiment… So far there are about 20 of us and we plan to use a closed Facebook group for discussions… we’ll see how it goes. Discussion of chapter one is scheduled for the week of June 16. I just thought I’d invite you to join us, if that’s something interesting for you. If not, that’s totally fine too! Reply below if you’re interested in joining us.

“Be More Like the Dog”

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“I just need to be more like the dog!!” My ladies small group burst into gales of laughter.IMG_5622

Hilarious, but I was completely serious.

That is the sum total of what I learned recently from our study of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages.  My husband best receives love from me through Physical Touch (nonsexual, by the way) and Words of Affirmation.

I am not very good at this because I am always running around taking care of household management stuff that never ends… homework, carpool, soccer practice, dance class, play dates, vacuuming, dirty dishes, cooking dinner, and so on.  Plus I’m selfish and not really thinking of him.  Besides, he ties his own shoes, dresses himself, can put food in the microwave, and drives himself to work.  This means he is automatically moved to the “not so urgent” list.

This is also why I best receive love from him through Acts of Service!  I LOVE it when he cleans up the kitchen without being asked – one step closer to bedtime and quiet… HA.

But I need to be more like the dog.  It would help if I:

  • Ran to greet him at the door when he comes home.  (Communicating respect, and that he’s more important than my computer or my piles of laundry)
  • Was truly happy to see him.  (Tail wag?! LOL)
  • Wanted to be touching, sitting by him on the couch, keeping my feet in his lap, leaning on him (hopefully not drooling on him or leaving fur all over like the dog actually does…)
  • Was non-judgmental, affirming, and warm.
  • Was quiet and did not interrupt often.  (No talk back from the dog!  Only love and affection!)

So that’s my mental picture for the next month or two, to love my husband well, like the dog does….

Take the Five Love Languages test here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

Personality Types and Discipleship

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Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, Phlegmatic.  Or, said differently – Golden Retriever, Lion, Beaver, Otter.  Personality types!  Do you know which one you are?

I am a fan of using personality type testing in discipleship relationships, including small groups, marriage and family counseling, ministry teams, and many other settings.  Here’s why:

  • First, it’s fun!  Women love answering little quizzes about themselves and discovering what the results say.  I don’t know if men derive the same joy or not…
  • They don’t take very long.  In less than fifteen minutes you can have a reasonably accurate picture of how you’re wired.
  • The joy of discovery.  I continue to be amazed at how significant a type profile can be.  The first time I read through my type description I was excited – I felt like finally someone understood how I was thinking.  I was also comforted – I am not the only person in the world who thinks this way.  And I was humbled – because the profile was so accurate in revealing my strengths and also my weaknesses.
  • It gives us a vocabulary.  We need words and a framework for explaining ourselves… and also for understanding others.
  • We learn that different is not bad, it’s just different.  This is really helpful in marriage.  Just because he thinks differently, acts differently, and sees the world differently than me does not mean he is wrong!  He is just wired differently.  And, bonus round, I can learn from him.
  • We can think constructively about our strengths.  We are wired to do certain things well, without a whole lot of effort.  Knowing our strengths should help us make decisions about our role in ministry, service, organizations, teams, and even within the family.
  • We can be intentional about tackling our weaknesses.  While we may be “wired that way”, we do not have to throw our hands in the air and loudly proclaim “I’ll always be that way!”  Rather, our weaknesses are specific areas where we have the opportunity to grow and overcome challenges with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Our weaknesses are rather like a To Do List for spiritual growth.

During our premarital counseling I think my husband and I took every type test known to man – Myers Briggs, Firo B, Taylor Johnson, DISC, and more.  Fifteen years of marriage later I will tell you that the type testing was invaluable – for our understanding of ourselves, each other, the vocabulary, and our strengths and weaknesses.   It’s also why we continue to encourage personality type testing in discipleship.  Yes, it’s a secular tool, but a valuable one!

Tests and resources are available on my Resources page https://mindyclemons.com/resources/

Take the test electronically here http://www.gotoquiz.com/personality_plus_1

Several authors have written extensively about personality types – Tim and Beverly LaHaye (“New Spirit Controlled Woman”), Florence Littauer (“Personality Plus”), and Gary Smalley (types and marriage).WiredThatWay

We have chosen to read Dr. Marita Littauer’s new book “Wired That Way” because it is gender neutral, includes the four main types and the 16 blended types, is very practically focused, and is explicitly Christian.

Have your used or benefitted from personality type testing in ministry?  Tell us about it!

Want To Be A Better Wife?

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So you’re a wife and a mom.  And somehow those cute, noisy, little rascals consume more and more of our energy… and we LoveLanguageswork hard at being a Good Mom.  But sometimes the Good Mom becomes the Mom Who Forgets She Was Also Wife.  There’s only so many hours in the day, right?  It’s never intentional, but sometimes we stop working at being a Good Wife.

As I’ve talked with my girlfriends about their One Thing (https://mindyclemons.com/2013/08/28/the-one-thing/) many of them have shared that God has called them to be better wives this year.

They love their husbands, and so do I, but you know… two sinners living in the same house is never an easy thing to do day after day and year after year!

We are starting by taking Gary Chapman’s test on the Five Love Languages.  You may have heard of it before, but it is an excellent, timeless tool for discovering how you receive love and how you can best express love to your husband (or your kids too!).  The best plan would be to have your husband to take the test as well.

The test takes about 5 minutes and is available here http://www.5lovelanguages.com/  The online version will produce a lovely profile sheet that you can print out and use as a discussion tool.

We will be taking our profiles, and our husbands’ profiles, and talking about practical steps – what do we do next?

What one thing can we do today to be better wives?  How can we best communicate love to him?

What’s Your Type?

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A simple question:

You are almost never late for your appointments
YES                          NO

A question that reveals a great deal about you and how you relate to the world and others!  Marry someone, work with someone, or parent someone with a different personality type – a different take on the world – and the simple things can be so frustrating!

We first encountered Myers-Briggs and other personality tests in our premarital counselling.  I have continued to use temperament testing in ministry and work settings (and refer to it on our marriage) because so much about us is revealed in a few short questions.

What are you great at?  What do you do naturally that others struggle to achieve?  What environment will drive you crazy?  What are your areas of weakness in relationships and life?  How can you best go about maximizing your strengths and moderating (or fixing!) your weaknesses?

You can take a simple, free test in about 3 minutes here.

Then go to www.personalitypage.com and type in your letters.

If you want a more in-depth look, I would recommend the book Please Understand Me by David Kiersey.

There is also another, non-Myers-Briggs temperament testing system that uses the categories Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy.  Beverly LaHaye wrote The New Spirit Controlled Woman, a Christian book using these temperament types to look at types, marriage, communication styles, anger & depression (most of us struggle with one or the other!), and ministry roles.  Those are also great tools!ESTJ

So me?  I am an ESTJ – the Organizer and Administrator.  I am 80% Choleric and 20% Sanguine, just so we don’t forget to have some fun while we are out conquering and organizing the world!

How about you? Have you ever used temperament testing in ministry or your marriage?

* Special thanks to Tom Fuerst at http://thefuerstshallbelast.wordpress.com/ for bringing up temperaments and reminding me about this ministry tool we often overlook!

** I’ll put the link my Resources page so you can find it later.

Mutual Submission and Marriage

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Submit?!  Arrrgh.  The first book someone gave me on this topic was called “Me, Obey Him?” and I threw it across the room and resolved not to read it…  It sat there for a good six months, mocking me.  Sometimes we women become overly dramatic about the idea of having to submit to our husbands!

It is my personal opinion that our angst is usually a result of misconceptions of submission, or having married a man who does not understand or embrace his part – the part about loving your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.  (Eph. 6:25)

Another reason for our angst about submission is that the context of Eph. 6:22 “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is often forgotten.  The correct context is from the previous verse, Eph. 6:21, which reads “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ Jesus.”

So what does that mean?  We were talking in our small group a few nights ago about this very idea – the idea of “mutual submission“.  Here’s what it means according to Andy Stanley,

“I will leverage all of the power, energy, and resources at my disposal for the benefit of other members of the family.” 

Did you catch that?  It’s not all about me!  It’s about me working for what is best for my spouse and kids.  It’s about leaning IN toward the middle of the family circle to help others, rather than leaning OUT and away from engagement and responsibility.

Here is the question that we should be asking our spouse and kids daily, “What can I do to help?”

Now that can be a scary question!  However, it is a question we need to get in the habit of asking – every single day.  What do you need from me?  How can I help?  That is the question Jesus asked.   It was time-consuming, energy-consuming, unpredicatable, frightening. It was the ultimate question that cost Him his life.

It was an unselfish question.  Marriage and parenting are about learning to be unselfish.

On that note, let me recommend a book that changed my view of marriage – it’s not a practical, how-to book.  It’s a book that says – “Wait!  You are thinking about this all wrong. Marriage is not really about making you happy!”

SACRED MARRIAGE by Gary Thomas, (Zondervan, 2000).  sacredmarriage

Gary Thomas asks a shocking question:  “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  Thomas’ argument is that marriage is one of God’s primary vehicles for character change.  “If you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than get married.  Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.”  After all, marriage is a temporary institution (’til death do us part), designed to last while we are on this earth (no marriage in heaven), and destined to help us develop an eternal relationship with God.  Thomas has chapters on how marriage teaches us to love, to respect others, to persevere, to forgive, to serve, as well as how it exposes our sin, and teaches us more about God.   If we truly believe that we are called to holiness and not happiness, then maybe we ought to reshape our thoughts on marriage!

I’m going to work on being unselfish this week.  I am going to ask, “What can I do to help?” and not flinch when the answer comes back.  Will you join me?