March Loves

March is a fantastic month. Perhaps the best month of the year…. because it’s my birth month! I’m now THIRTY-TWO, but it’s totally fine and I’m coping with all the emotions that being in your 30s brings (What have I accomplished? I still have so much left to do! How in the world am I still renting? How in the world did I end up with 4 beautiful children who are going to all be in elementary school in only a few short years?!). No biggie.

Screen-Shot-2015-02-26-at-9.15.00-AM-1024x539

My most favorite thing this month was my ultimate birthday date night. If you missed it, you can read about my epic 11 hour date here. It was so much fun and included all the things I love to do OR had been really wanting to do.

 

Over at SheLoves Magazine, they’re in this huge Dangerous Women series, and it has been my obsession this month. I love it…every single post… and I love what it does inside of me and also, I know, inside of hundreds of other women who think that the good life is the safe life. Heck no, techno! If you haven’t yet, I double dog dare you to read these posts (which are my favorites):

 

75

Last week Jake and I were finally able to watch The Theory of Everything, which is the story of the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his wife. I laughed, I cried, and cried some more. It is the best romantic comedy I’ve watched in a long time, and it was a perfect date movie- romance and science and geekiness. It’s in the RedBox.

 

 

bethelmusic_ymmb-1

On Spotify I found a music compilation that is perfect for my afternoon work/play time: You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music. Ada has been spending half of her “quiet times” downstairs, and she has a few favorites on here herself.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.22.26 PM

Finally, my Aly and I have spent some time on Pinterest together and it has been SO MUCH FUN. I can only see this leading to some really fun projects together. We’re brainstorming about her upcoming Woodland Creatures birthday party, and we’ve created this really fun board. Of course we’ll end up just using a couple ideas, but we’ve had fun discussing what we like and what we don’t like along the way.

 

 So that’s my March! What are some things YOU’VE been loving this month?! 

 

My First Memories of Jesus

Over the years I’ve become fascinated with the idea and process of spiritual development. It started when I realized how incredibly influential my upbringing, my hometown, my siblings, my family, my personality, my race, my gender–all of it– has been on the formation of my faith. The fact that I am a rule-follower, white woman who grew up in a generally well-off small town with a two-parent household (who embraced equality and non-traditional gender roles) is HUGE as it has reveals the baseline from which I view God and others.

After having children, my interest in adult spiritual development has grown to include the faith formation of children as well.

  • What does it mean for a child to “be saved”?
  • How important is it to have a “welcoming Jesus into my heart” moment with kids? Is it biblical? Is it necessary?
  • How do children hear the various stories of Scripture?
  • How can I communicate these stories in a developmentally and spiritually appropriate way, yet also stay true to the purpose for which these stories were being told?
  • How can I teach my kids to not be afraid to ask questions and think critically while also keeping a soft heart that loves the God who inspired the Scriptures?
  • Who do my children think Jesus is (like, not the Sunday school factual answer, but the character of Jesus and how He relates to their everyday lives)?

firstmemories

All that to say, this month over at Graham Blanchard, a few of us moms are sharing our first memories of Jesus (I wonder what my kids will one day say?). Here’s what I shared:

I grew up in a culturally Christian home. We attended church on the “important days” but I wasn’t nurtured into a relationship with Jesus.  My aunt, however, became a Christian sometime during my early childhood, and I remember her sharing about Jesus with my family and me when she came to visit during the summer. She would teach me how to sign (ASL) Christian songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Zaccheus was a Wee Little Man.” She’d tell us stories from the Bible and give us “Jesus-themed” gifts (which I mostly thought were a little lame, to be honest, ha!). These are my first memories of hearing about Jesus.

At the time, I was slightly curious about Jesus, but I have a hard time saying for sure if my curiosity and interest had more to do with the person of Jesus or with my love for my aunt. Either way, God was planting seeds of His love in my heart. While I didn’t come to really trust in Jesus until middle school, I know those early stories, songs and discussions set the foundation for my relationship with God.

This post was fun for me to write because it gave me space to remember and recognize how early the Lord was planting his seeds of love in my heart, and how long those seeds were watered before coming to full bloom. Wow, right? He was pursuing my heart even before I knew who He was.

So, head on over, read our stories if you’re interested, but before you leave, would you mind sharing your earliest memories of hearing about the person of Jesus?

 

 

Rocking the Consignment Sale: Seller Edition

I LOVE CONSIGNMENT SALES.

Perhaps you’ve shopped the sales…. but have you ever sold at them?

I used to think that selling at the sales was laborious and a waste of time… because would I really make that much money? Wouldn’t it take a super long time to price all my items? And I don’t even know where to start!

(Please note: This has been my consigning experience. Since all consignment sales are different, please be sure to carefully read your own consignment sale restrictions and guidelines. Some people only allow certain kind of hangers or certain kind of tags, etc.)

consigning

So okay, it does take some time to price everything, but I’ve found a few tricks that have really helped me streamline the process.

1. Collect items over time.

Over the course of several months, set aside clothes, toys, etc. that you no longer need/want. When you change the kids’ clothes from summer to winter or winter to summer, put the outgrown clothes in a box. When kids outgrow their shoes, pop those in the box too. Kids are always outgrowing toys– after your youngest kiddo moves on from soft blocks to duplos, put the soft blocks in the box. Hair accessories, swings, high chairs, cloth diapers, craft supplies, outdoor equipment, puzzles, games, etc.– you can sell it!

If you’re constantly adding to your box, then when the time for consigning comes around, you already have your stuff ready! Taking the “figure out what I’m going to sell” step out of the immediate process is HUGE and saves a ton of time.

My advice is to keep the box accessible enough that you can easily put things in it here and there, but also not in such a trafficked place that you get tired of seeing it and just give it to goodwill because YOU CAN’T STAND SEEING IT ANYMORE!

2. Sign up for the sale.

What sales are in your area? Get on their email list so that you know when it’s time for consigners to sign up! Take note of any consigner fees– factor that into whether or not you want to sell. I tend to only sign up for sales that are free, especially at first when I was trying to get a feel for how much money I’d make (it’s gotta be worth my time!).

3. Gather your supplies

You’ll want:
  • a TON of plastic hangers (if your consignment sale doesn’t provide these, you can visit kid stores for their plastic hangers. Or, if all else, Dollar Store sells kid hangers, 10 for $1). You can also ask friends and family! Most people have some plastic hangers they are looking to get rid of.
  • a box of gallon-size ziplock bags.
  • a roll of clear packing tape
  • a package of colored cardstock paper
  • a pack or two of safety pins

4. Organize your stuff and get it all ready.

Bring all of your stuff (boxed) out into a well-trafficked area. This is key, because you want to get so annoyed by it at this point that you just get it priced already! Ideally, this process should be contained to a weekYou’ll want it contained in boxes for a few reasons: 1.) So your kids don’t see things they “really love” and can’t possibly get rid of. “Wow mom, this is my favorite thing ever! Why are you selling it?!” and 2.) You’ll do this next part one box at a time.

Organizing means:
  1. Placing all of your clothes on plastic hangers.
  2. Placing all of your shoes into plastic ziplock bags.
  3. Organizing books into small sets that “make sense”. Place in ziplock bags or with strong rubber bands.
  4. Wrap any board puzzles in plastic wrap or ziplock bags.
  5. Make sure everything has working batteries. It will help your items to sell better if the buyer can know for sure that it works.

consignment

5. Start Pricing!

I’ve done this several different ways, and found that this way was the fastest:

  • Go through each item in ONE BOX and enter it online into whatever database your sale uses. Print out the tag on colored cardstock (colors catch people’s eyes! cardstock holds up really well!).
  • Cut the tags out and then attach them onto the items. For the clothes, you’ll want to pin the tags with safety pins, and other items, packing tape on top and bottom works out well. (but be sure to check your sale for any requirements– a couple are weird about what you can use).
  • Put everything back in the box and then put it out of sight!
  • Repeat with each box.

You may be thinking– wouldn’t it be easiest just to do alllll the entering, then alllll of the printing, then allllll of the attaching? It wasn’t for me. I found that searching for the “brown pants” is much easier when I have 40 items I’m searching through then when I have 120 items I’m searching through. This simple strategy cut my time almost in half!

As for pricing strategies, I’ve found that people go wrong when they get a little greedy. For consignment sales, think of a glorified yard sale. For clothes especially, don’t overcharge. For clothes 0-3T, I would suggest very little should be above $3.00 or $4.00 (for an outfit). 4T+ you can begin to price higher because there will be fewer items at the sale to choose from. ESPECIALLY for nice boys clothes, people will pay a lot more (up to 50% of the original price). I happen to have a boy that isn’t very hard on his clothes, which works out great for us!

Many of my items range from $1-$4 each, and I’ve made well over $100 (sometimes $200-$300) each sale with just a bunch of small items. I have really normal kid clothes- not a lot of name brands– many of them I’ve bought at kid consignment sales– so I pretty much get my money back when I sell them!

Typically I’m able to buy the kids’ next seasons’ clothes with the money I’ve made at each sale. For that, it makes it all worth it!

Next up- how to be a smart consignment sale buyer! 

photo credit: AL.com

My Epic Birthday Date

On Friday, Jake surprised me with an EPIC 11 hour date and it was FANTASTIC. I told him at one point that if we weren’t already married, I would have expected a marriage proposal by the end :).

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 9.15.00 AM

Because I turned 32, Jake planned 5 dates for just the two of us (us being math geeks, 2^5=32).

Date One

Jake took the little kids to the library as he normally does on Friday mornings (giving me the morning “off” to do whatever I want: writing, reading, crafting, etc.). At 11:00a I got a text from him, telling me that he was almost home and could I run up and get a paper by his bed. It was  an invitation to a date.

Put on your comfy clothes and join me for a party of two lunch at the official birthday place, followed by a fun board game.

IMG_6821 IMG_6822

We ate at Nitty Gritty which is THE birthday restaurant here in Madison (balloons, free drink, free desert) and then played a board game at I’m Board (our favorite board game store where you can hang out in their back room and test out board games). We played Villagers and Villains, which was pretty fun– we tied!

IMG_6823

Date Two

Get your work clothes on, get hydrated, and create at a Walk in, Make art studio with me.

IMG_6825 IMG_6826

Afterwards, I found ANOTHER birthday invitation, this time inviting me to Sonic (yesssssss) and then to Fired Up Pottery, a make your own art store. We designed a glass piece (a swoop bowl) to be fused, and I just picked it up today. It turned out SO WELL, don’t you think?!

IMG_0123

 

Date Three

Bundle up for the cold and put on your hiking boots. Let’s walk on water together and view the 1753 sunset from Lake Mendota.

IMG_6829 IMG_6833 IMG_6837 IMG_6845

I’ve been wanting to walk on the lake all winter, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Jake made it happen! We had so much fun hiking out from picnic point so we could sit on a sleeping bag and watch the sunset from the middle of the lake. So romantic and fun!

 

Date Four

Time to get fancy. We’ll explore narrative in the Storybook exhibition.

IMG_6847

We headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown, and it was a great time. My favorite part was viewing a collection of art work done by art teachers of the Madison School District. Their work was INCREDIBLE. I’ve decided that my current favorite kind of artwork is mixed media.

 

Date Five

Dinner for two downtown, then home for the afterparty.

IMG_6848

We ended up going to an Indian and Nepali restaurant. We ate the most delicious garlic naan with our main courses (I can’t even remember what I ordered but it was really good too). By the time we got home it was nearly 10:00p and we were EXHAUSTED. Jake had arranged for the kids to be at various houses for the day/night, so we had a kid-free house (which, by the way, was incredibly weird and fantastically relaxing). The next morning we woke to an alarm so that we could pick up all the kiddos by 9:00a, also unusual and I must admit I prefer being awoken by a child :).

By the way, how generous are those families who watched our kiddos and kept them overnight? I feel SO LOVED that people would say yes to that! They made our day/evening so wonderful!!! It takes a village, people, especially when family is a day’s drive away!

Thanks to my love for planning a great day and night!!

Book Review: Live Just.ly

Sometimes I struggle with knowing what I ought to do and then doing it.

And sometimes I struggle with wanting to live a certain way, but not knowing how to do it exactly.

live-justly-circle

Live Just.ly is a new book created by Micah Challenge to help people figure out what it means to live justly. Written in a concise, straightforward format, Life Just.ly brings together many voices to get people talking about what it looks like to live a lifestyle of God-centered justice. They focus on five areas of life: advocacy, prayer, consumption, generosity, relationships, and creation care. In each of these areas, readers are challenged to thinking deeply about what living rightly in these areas looks like and then take action as a group as well as individual. The editors use stories, Scripture, discussion questions, online videos, prayer, and projects to help readers deeply engage in the material. It’s written in such a way that if taken seriously, transformation will happen when going through this study.

I love that this book gives you the tools you need to put into practice what you’re reading about. They offer solo work ideas, as well as group activities to cement the principles that the group is wrestling with and learning.

One chapter that is particularly challenging to me is the one about consumption. I’ve talked before about some of my thoughts on our culture’s idea of simplicity (so popular! so great! own less but you end up consuming more!). I care about this a lot because this is a place where i need to grow.  I know what I ought to do, and while I’ve taken some baby steps, I am mostly still figuring out HOW to do it.

cadbury-egg

Take chocolate, for instance. I KNOW about the child-slavery that takes place so that I can eat a (now Hershey) “cadbury” egg. The real Cadbury egg IS fair trade, but now that the British aren’t exporting it over to the U.S. and Hershey is taking over the Cadbury egg, I’m faced with a dilemma. At first I thought, okay, I will just not eat cadbury eggs. Easy decision. But then, after some mental gymnastics, I decided, you know what- I want the cadbury egg. Me not buying it isn’t going to affect the market at all, so why shouldn’t I enjoy the cadbury egg? IT’S JUST A CADBURY EGG!

But, the deeper reality is this: I KNOW that children are in slavery so that I can eat a cadbury egg. And I’m choosing to participate. Sure, I’m not setting their work rules and regulations. But, I’m participating by buying unfair products. I’m knowingly participating in injustice because I’m far removed from it.

We all know that it’s not just about that foil-wrapped, chocolatey goodness with an oozy sugary center. It’s about cheap products. How do we get a good deal on cheap products? Well, the store is still making money. The one who is getting the short end of the stick is the one who is making the product.

“But my budget is tight!”

Oh I feel you. As a perpetual student-family, I get that. I’m there. That’s EXACTLY why it’s so hard.

If I buy cheap, unfair products, then I get to buy more of other things. My kids get to do fun things. They get more stuff (albeit cheaper). Not even an excessive amount of stuff, but just normal amount of stuff.

If I change my buying habits, then that means I’ll be paying MORE for my purchases, and I’ll have to buy LESS of them.

So, perhaps I buy fair-trade/slave-free chocolate. It’s more expensive. I think I’ll have to make cookies less often, but when I DO make the cookies, they’ll be cookies that are created justly.  Perhaps I stop buying my clothes at stores that have bad records, and instead, pay more money for my clothes and just buy LESS of them.

These are often not easy decisions for me. I LOVE “getting the good deal.” But, I have to reframe that in my mind– whose “good deal” am I getting?

All that to say, this book is an excellent resource for someone who is looking to really live more justly. It’s an uncomfortable read, but not because the authors use any shame language or “oughts” and “shoulds” (not at all!). This book is uncomfortable because it challenges our assumptions, our understandings of God’s character and values, and also reveals some of ways that we unknowingly participate in injustice.

Thanks to Micah Challenge for sending me this book in exchange for a free copy. I’m so thankful to be helping you share this really important challenge! 

p.s. For any of my British readers, PLEASE SEND ME A REAL CADBURY EGG!!!!!!

Just How Married Do you Want to Be?

A few weeks ago I asked for suggestions on Facebook for some favorite books about marriage. I received a whole slew of comments– most of them I had heard of before, but one in particular piqued my interest with its title.

9780830833931

Just How Married Do You Want to Be?: Practicing Oneness in Marriage is a book written by Jim and Sarah Sumner (IVP) who I find to be a fairly unlikely couple (PhD theology student meets former stripper turned Christian- you guess who is who!). The authors’ goal of this book is to encourage and inspire Christian couples to live a biblical marriage (p.14). While I typically halt at anything labeled “biblical” (I’ve come to recognize that word as being one that people sometimes use to “show God to be on their side”), I decided to proceed with caution because this book was recommended by a friend I trust, and because it was published by IVP. :)

I ended up liking parts of it, being totally intrigued by others, and downright not liking some sections. So, all in all, I’d say that’s a fun read!

The most interesting thing to me was their theological framework for understanding marriage, especially as it relates to Ephesians 5:21-33.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Instead of coming at it from a complementarian perspective and translating “head” as “leader”, or an egalitarian perspective and translating “head” as “source”, they come at it from head meaning a physical head (which is what kephale means). So, the man is the head of the wife and the wife is the body of the man. Just as Christ is the head of the church and the church the body of Christ.

I think this passage in Ephesians gets interesting when you realize what words Paul DIDN’T use when saying the husband is the head of the household. He didn’t use oikodespotes, which means master of the house. Paul didn’t use archon, which meals ruler.

This illustration in Ephesians seems to be saying more about the relational connectedness between a husband and wife and Christ and the Church then it does about who holds the power of the home.

The implications of this are interesting:

1. Our lives would ideally communicate our oneness. Both with our spouse and with Christ. Do people view my relationship with my husband as characterized by “oneness” or are we seen as two individuals who are very much doing our own things and constantly trying to figure out how to get our own way (or is one person getting their way while the other spouse just does whatever the other one wants)? Do people view the church’s relationship with Christ by “oneness” or a bunch of people figuring out how to live the life they want while also ending up in heaven at the end?

2. This interpretation would give us another dimension of our relationship with Christ to explore. Christ is our Savior (He saved us from our sin). Christ is our Lord (He leads us and we submit to Him). Christ is our Head (He is an intimate part of who we are- our identity).

All this and much more is found in Sarah and Jim’s book- I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good interpretation, but I’m thinking through it, praying through it. and keeping my mind open to it! Any thoughts?

Please note that some links are affiliate links. 

February Loves

February has been SO COLD here in Madison. I know Madisonites aren’t really complaining, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever get used to it. It’s kept us inside a lot of the month because neither Ada or I can manage to go out in it for very long periods without grumbling. Because we are SO COLD. Sweet Ada wakes up many mornings and says with a sigh, “Well, it’s still winter.” Yep, I feel ya, sister.

Okay, all of that, now onto my February Loves!

I’m kicking this list off with a couple articles I really enjoyed this month.

Educating Introverts: A rethinking, of sorts, about what it means to be an introvert in a school setting.

[Love Looks Like] 2:07 a.m. : While technically this article was published in January, I didn’t read it until February, so it fits right here for me. I think my favorite part may be this section:

We swore we wouldn’t become those tired ones in the middle of their life, living just a regular sort of life. We are meant for more than the ordinary! we bought the lie, hook line and sinker from the evangelical hero complex. Life was meant to be an adventure, filled with risk and romance. Love would look like this for us forever. Like we were somehow above or better than the minivans and mortgages, the tub scrubbing and sheet washing, like our clock would always be made up of bright mornings and late nights.

But here’s the truth: lifelong love is actually most built throughout the hours of the day, all twenty four of them, in the ordinary moments of our humanity.

33_packing

And while I”m reading these articles in the afternoons, I’m drinking Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel tea and let me tell you, it’s like drinking ice cream to me. I just put in a little creamer and it’s perfect.

502301013_640

Earlier this month I attended the If:Conference and it was a great experience mostly because of the people I was with (although the speakers were interesting too!). I think the If:Gathering altogether is a really interesting movement and I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s caught on so quick. Because really, what they are doing through this gathering is really what should already be going on in our local churches. Why do we need a group of women on a stage motivate and equip us ladies (through Bible studies) to go serve in our local communities? Is it not happening already in the local churches? Been mulling over that all month. Leave any observations or suggestions in the comments :).

1424787367258

I feel almost embarrassed by how much I’m loving everything the Liturgists are putting out. I’m not sure I’ve been “all in” to something like this since The Babysitters Club back in my elementary years. The Liturgists came out with a new Meditations podcast this month. If you haven’t listened in at all, just start back at the beginning of their podcast feed and listen straight through. It’s… soul nourishing.

IMG_6756

FroYo. There is never a day too cold for FroYo. We took the kids out for a Valentine’s Day treat on a day that was bitterly cold and we all agreed – yes, it’s still delicious. (Can you SEE THE COLD IN THIS PICTURE?)
Happy V-day

Also on Valentine’s Day, my love made this cool graphic as a representation of his love for me. Geeky. And fantastic.

And last but not least, I LOVE that I got a new look here on the blog. Did you notice? A good friend from college, Amanda Iman, created this great graphic for my header and it’s just perfect. She’s an amazing graphic artist– check out her site to see some other projects she has worked on!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

The Ideal Sunday Morning Experience for my Children

Moving comes with a set of new challenges. Finding new friends, figuring out where to grocery shop (it took me 2 whole months to realize that the giant store down the street from us is a GROCERY STORE), discovering the best library (it’s honestly one of the first things we do when moving to a new city), and … finding a church community to become a part of.

Insert spreadsheets, questions, frustrations, rants, tears, pro/con sheets, and lots and lots of prayer here. 

While lots of things go into finding a church community to be a part of, what our kids think is a huge factor in deciding what church community to join. It’s certainly not the final say for us, but their voice absolutely matters in this decision. I want them to LOVE going to the church gathering on Sunday mornings. I want them to associate the church gathering with warmth, love, and fun as they are engaging with the Scriptures in developmentally-appropriate ways.

IMG_6271

This month the Mom Mentors at Graham Blanchard are sharing our ideal Sunday morning experiences for our kids. The one I shared combines the best of the best of all the church experiences we’ve had:

What an interesting question! I think it would be a combination of all of “the best” parts of various church experiences we’ve been a part of:

Relationships: It’s super important to me that my children know the people who are teaching them on Sunday mornings. It’s powerful to have other men and women integrated into the life of a child—these adults don’t just teach them for one or two hours on a Sunday morning, but these are men and women who show up around their dinner table or in their yard to play a family game of flag football.

Developmentally-appropriate experience: I want the Sunday church experience to be a really fun time of learning about the Bible with other kids their age in ways that make sense to them. I want my kids to LOVE gathering with the church, and I want it to be nurturing to their soul.

Community-based: Ideally the church building would be in our neighborhood, and the other kids in my children’s classes would be kids they go to school with. I would love for my kids’ spiritual formation to be so integrated that “church” isn’t something totally removed from their everyday life.

To see what other moms shared, head on over to the blog!

Review: The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Activity and Sticker book

Holiday books are a bit tricky, in my opinion, especially the ones surrounding faith-centered holidays.

For Christmas, there’s a lot of books about trees, presents, Santa, etc.

A few about Jesus’ birth.

For Easter, there’s a lot of books about eggs, bunnies, and spring.

A few about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In both categories, some of the books that are Christ-centered tend to be a bit boring or poorly illustrated, which makes it harder for the kids to really want to read them.

_225_350_Book.1486.cover

I had the opportunity to check out The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book and it’s great! It weaves the story of the Passion week through Jesus’ resurrection and ascension with all kinds of stickers and activities to do along the way. The stickers are reusable, so you can re-use some of it next year. There are also some parts of the page to color, so obviously that’s a one-time shot.

51qavk6qenL We use the Beginner Bible for the kids, birth through preschool age, and really like it. The pictures are good (I really like that the illustrations portray people of many shades of skin), and if you’re familiar with this Bible, you’ll immediately recognize the same kind of illustrations in their Easter sticker book.

IMG_6797 IMG_6798

I’d say by the ideal age range for this sticker book is 3-5 years.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Please note: Affiliate links are included in this post. 

The Enneagram: What Number Are You?

One of my current interests is learning about the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is a typology. You’ve probably heard of other typologies: Myers-Briggs, temperament tests (sanguine, melancholy, choleric, phlegmatic), as well as the zodiac. While all these typologies have been derived in different ways, they all share one thing: they simplify human behaviors into a limited number of character types. I think we’d all agree that some of these are more helpful than others for one reason or another.

enneagram

The Enneagram is an ancient typology that boils all of humanity down to 9 character types. These character types are based around a deep-seated sin (the seven deadly sins + 2 more), which often plays a big role in how we hide from God and hide from ourselves. We learn the “life-lie” from which we operate.

The starting point of the Enneagram is the blind alleys into which we stumble in our attempt to protect our life from internal and external threats (p. 4).

The NINE Types

Type ONE: The Need to Be Perfect

Type TWO: The Need to be Needed

Type THREE: The Need to Succeed

Type FOUR: The Need to be Special

Type FIVE: The Need to Perceive

Type SIX: The Need for Securitiy

Type SEVEN: The Need to Avoid Pain

Type EIGHT: The Need to be Against

Type NINE: The Need to Avoid

The beauty of the Enneagram is that this is not another tool that tries to box us in and help us only to know ourselves better. Instead, this tool helps us to understand ourselves better so that we’re able to recognize our own voice and hence be able to recognize God’s voice all the more. 

For an example. I’m a 1, which means I see what’s wrong with the world. I’m a perfectionist who has high expectations for others and even higher expectations for myself. So, when I “hear God” saying, “Try harder. You should probably add on another project. If you loved me, you would _________. Are you accomplishing all you can for my kingdom?  Oh wow I’m disappointed that you couldn’t make that all happen”, then I can take a pause. Is this God speaking to me? Or is this my voice talking to me? Am I attempting to hide behind all this “stuff” I’m doing for him and not really allow Him full access to my heart? I’m beginning to hear God’s voice more distinctly as I begin to recognize my own that I thought was God’s.

Understanding myself in this way is transforming my inner life. 

In addition, this tool allows us not to stay “stuck”. Even though I’m a 1 and can recognize what I easily fall into, I also can start doing some serious heart work in that area and allow God to transform me. The Truth, my friend, can really set us free.

51E4hrZVAiL

So, as per recommendation of my spiritual director, I’ve been working through the book, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. In it, Rohr and Ebert share the many twists and turns of how the Enneagram as we know it came about. Many think that a form of the Enneagram originated with the Desert Fathers.Then, they explain a little bit more about what the Enneagram is and isn’t, and finally the good part– they dive into each “number”, dedicating a chapter to each.

The Enneagram is intended as an oral tradition and not really to be learned from a book. The reason being is that spiritual directors throughout history have used the Enneagram to help people along in their spiritual journey with God. It’s never to be used as a way to peg people or manipulate people (wahaha, I know YOUR NUMBER!), but to help individuals understand themselves, their “modes of operation” and how that affects/hinders/enhances their relationship with God and others.

If you’re interested in learning more, it may be helpful to check with your pastor to see if he or she knows of anyone trained to teach it. It’s best to learn from a real life person who has been trained in walking people through this. But, if that doesn’t work out, it may not be bad to read the one I”m reading by Rohr (if you’re interested in the Christian perspective). The Enneagram has been adjusted away from its original purposes and is now often used in the secular world of psychology, which is fine and all, but it’s not the same as the original. Also, it’s not without controversy, so be aware of that too. However, there are many solid churches, both Catholic and Evangelical, who use this tool as a way of personal/spiritual development. For a quick guestimation of what your number may be, this free test is decent (but not perfect).

My thoughts: the Enneagram is a tool just like any other type of typology. Some people are all into temperament typing. Others Myers-Briggs. Others Strengthsfinder. This is not some magic ball that will solve all problems or a “cure all” for sin (we know that there is only one way for that to happen!). It’s simply a really helpful tool to understand yourself better.

So, if you decide to look into it, have fun and may God use it as a transformational tool in your life!

 

1 2 3 42