Never Unfriended: A Book Review and Giveaway!

This past month I had the opportunity to be on my very first book launch team to help promote the release of Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. Lisa-Jo is the community manager for (in)courage, a website that I love and that has encouraged me greatly over the years. When I saw that Lisa-Jo’s book was going to be about friendship, I jumped at the chance to review it.

NU_OrderNow-1_1024x683Friendship is something that I have struggled with ever since I graduated college and realized that friendships don’t come as naturally when you’re not constantly surrounded by peers in the same stage of life. I actually wrote a little about my difficulty with friendships on my blog back in 2009 (holy cow, I have been blogging for a long time), and reading that post again made me thankful that 1) so many people in the comments echoed my sentiments and 2) I have come a long way in my pursuit of friendships since that post. Nevertheless, I still feel that I have a lot to learn in this area, and so I was eager to read Never Unfriended and see what it had to say.

The book did not disappoint. I found myself caught up in the book’s opening pages and put my trusty pink pen to work highlighting sentence after sentence.  I took my time with this book so I could stop and think about each chapter and what it said about friendships. I loved Lisa-Jo’s confessional, relatable tone and found so many parts of this book that resonated with me and challenged me to think about the way I approach friendships. Some of my favorite quotes:

“While we might have defined friendship our whole lives by what others do to us, in the end it’s what we do for others that will define us as friends or not.”

“We have worshiped at the altar of inclusion when we were built to worship at the altar of the only living God.”

“Latching in to a friend with the hope that they will give us God-sized affirmation will always disappoint.”

“When we are convinced that our lives bring delight to a God who views us with such an all-consuming passion that He would choose to woo us, love us, die for us, sing over us, and celebrate us, then we are women who can give other the gift of guilt-free friendship.”

“Perfect will leave you lonely. But friendship teaches us that perfect is rarely as interesting and never as satisfying as real.”

“God is wildly in love with even the people who might make us the craziest. The people who are difficult and the people who are grumpy and unhelpful and hard to understand. And sometimes those people are us.”

I wish I could quote all of chapter 10, the chapter titled, “Live Like the Kingdom of God is a Co-Op, Not a Competition.” It talks about jealousy and comparison and how those things can eat away at us and our relationships. It is the chapter that convicted me the most, as I am the queen of comparison and everyone comes out a loser in that game.

The few nitpicks I have are related to the writing style, which uses a lot of choppy, fragmented sentences. She also quotes a lot from secondary sources, and I thought some of the integration of those quotes into her writing could have been smoother. Neither of these things detracts from the book’s message, however.

Bottom line: If you’re someone who has struggled with friendships, this book is for you. If you’re someone who wants more out of your friendships, this book is for you. If you’re someone who loves the friendships you have but want to be a better friend, this book is for you. I definitely recommend it, and the good news is, I want to give away the copy I pre-ordered!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY, just leave a comment on the post answering this question: What is one quality you value in your friends? 

The giveaway will remain open until Thursday at midnight. I’ll announce a winner this Friday, April 7. Good luck!

*Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

Weekend Whirlwind

Hello, bloggy friends! I’m writing my post a bit late today, but better late than never, right? 🙂

This weekend did not go at all as planned, but that was a very good thing! As I was getting ready to leave work on Friday, I noticed a few text messages from my dear friend Emily (who was my college roomie and maid of honor at my wedding), asking if I was going to be around that weekend because she was coming into town. She needed a place to stay for the weekend while she took care of some sorority business (she’s on the advisory board for the sorority she was in during college). Even though I had a jam-packed weekend full of cleaning and grocery shopping, I was willing to let her ruin those plans and stay for the weekend! 🙂 (I’m so thankful that I have a flexible husband who willingly goes along with spur-of-the-moment plans!)

Emily was going to be occupied most of the night on Friday, so Stephen and I were able to do what we had originally planned–go see Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t have terribly high expectations because I never know what to expect with Tim Burton, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the movie and thought it was really well done, although I don’t really think it is a movie for young children. We didn’t see it in 3-D, but after not really loving the 3-D experience I had with Avatar, I didn’t mind. Emily got to our place later that night, and of course we stayed up late talking and catching up.

Saturday morning we woke up at 8:30, got ready, and then headed out. We made a stop by the bank and then on to IHOP for breakfast. Yum! Then I took Emily on a special trip–grocery shopping at Walmart! Do I know how to treat house guests or what? Even though grocery shopping is not at all thrilling, it had to be done, and Emily was kind enough to keep me company.

The afternoon was spent playing Wii, which was hilarious and fun. Then we cooked a pizza Stephen had bought at Sam’s and watched a movie that Emily had brought and that neither Stephen nor I had heard of–Fracture. It actually was a really good mystery/thriller. I can’t believe I’d never heard of it. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling were in it, so it’s not as though it was a movie with obscure actors.

Sunday we got up and went to Bible Study and the worship service at church. Then Emily was kind enough to treat us to lunch at Zaxby’s–score! Not long after, Emily had to head out again and it was time for me to face what I had been dreading all weekend–a 10 mile run. It took me 2 hours, and it was HOT (upper 60s is hot to me when I’m running) and uncomfortable at times, but I just stuck to my run/walk intervals. I made it through it, and while the run itself wasn’t amazing, it did feel amazing to know I had completed my first double digit run! I only have 3 miles to go to get to a half marathon distance! Yeah!

The final event of the weekend was dinner at Moe’s with our friend Marya (another college roomie) and her husband and ADORABLE kids. It was like a little reunion, and we had such a good time!

So even though I didn’t get a lot of the things I had planned to get done, I am totally okay with that because time with friends beats time scrubbing the bathroom any day! 🙂

I hope you all had a good weekend and are enjoying the week!

Celebrate the Third of July

To celebrate the fourth of July, Stephen and I gathered at the home of our friends Jonathan and Erin in the booming metropolis of Oakland, TN.  (And by “booming metropolis” I mean town where everyone knows your name.  Kind of like Cheers.)  Always looking for ways to be nonconformist, we had our celebration on the third instead.  (Truthfully, we had it on the third because I had planned on going back to Knoxville on the fourth, but I like to think I’m a nonconformist, despite the fact that my keeping a Xanga completely disproves that idea.)  Stephen’s dog Bailey made nice with the Hitts’ new kitten, She Who Has Not Been Named:



Promptly after this picture, kitty hissed at Bailey, which ended the love fest.


Since it was soooo hot, we thought it would be fun to see if we could fry an egg on the pavement, so we went outside and Stephen did the honors.  Here are Stephen and Jonathan after the egg dropped:


 (It was kind of sunny, hence Stephen’s oh-so-cute squinty look.)  Unfortunately, the whole event was rather anticlimactic, since the egg did nothing but splatter on the pavement and run yolk down the drain.  We kept watching it, thinking it just needed a minute or two, but to no avail.  Oh well, it was no MythBusters, but it was fun.  (Had this been a MythBusters challenge, Adam and Jamie would have found a way to make the egg fry, perhaps by torching the pavement to 400 degrees or something nutty like that.) 


After our little experiment that wasn’t, Stephen and I took some pictures because we realized that up until then all of our photos involved us sitting on a couch in front of Stephen’s window.  So we shook it up a bit with some outside shots.  (We’re wild and crazy, I know):





That one’s my favorite.  Stephen’s a goober.


 
We weren’t really sure when Jon was taking the pictures…


Here’s the Hitt family.  Isn’t their little girl a cutie?



Thus concludes my holiday narrative. I’m back in Knoxville, and I can see myself becoming bored very quickly.  If everyone I knew didn’t have an actual job during the day, perhaps I’d have more fun, but as it is I’m stuck at the apartment by myself.  Honestly though, it’s nice having a little time to myself since I haven’t had that since I’ve been in Memphis.  It’s just slightly dangerous when I’m bored, though, because when I”m bored I go shopping.  Resist, Erin, resist…


On a completely unrelated note, I would just like to say that Stephen is going for the Boyfriend of the Century award. 


I’m 60 hits away from 20,000!  If there was a way to figure out who the 20,000 visitor is, I would give that person a little prize.

One-Way Streets Are Evil

EDIT:  I made straight As!  Yay me!  Life has been so good lately, the pessimist in me can’t help but wonder when the bad is going to hit.  But the hopeful part of me likes to think that whatever bad may come, life will still be good.

I was going to ask if you all have missed me, but since Xanga was down a good portion of yesterday, you probably didn’t know I had gone anywhere.  But I did in fact go to Atlanta yesterday to see Jason Mraz in concert with Diana (yes, we did just see him in December).  On the way there we passed a billboard advertising the latest lottery total (100 million) and decided that if we won the lottery, we would follow Jason Mraz to all of his concerts because he is simply amazing.  So talented, and so entertaining, and so cute.  When he dances around, it’s just adorable.

Here are a few pictures from our trip.  We were seated on the lower balcony, but The Tabernacle is designed so well that we were still really close to the stage.




 


He sang some of my favorites (“Life is Wonderful,” “Unfold,” “Please Don’t Tell Her,” “You and I Both,” “The Boy is Gone”), but he didn’t sing “Absolutely Zero” or “Plane,” both of which I love.  Oh well, can’t have it all, I suppose.  I was really glad he sang “Life is Wonderful” because he didn’t last time, and I was bummed.  This time he even had t-shirts for that song, and Diana and I both bought one.  We wore them on the way home and stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch, where I relaxed in one of the fabulous rocking chairs (I think I was laughing when Diana took this):



All in all, a very fun trip, despite the fact that last night after the concert we got lost and spent an hour trying to find our way back to our hotel.  I had gotten directions to the venue from the hotel, but I hadn’t thought about the one-way streets, so we couldn’t just reverse them to get back.  Oops.  We even asked three different people for directions, and they told us three different times how to get where we needed to go, and all three times their directions put us in rather sketchy parts of midtown.  Fun times.  So let that be a lesson to all you: one-way streets are evil!  I don’t understand why practically every large city in America has them.  Are they really that more efficient?  I’m not so sure.  But what do I know?  I’m just an English major. :happy: 

I’m off to pack to go home tomorrow (I get to see Stephen! Yay!) and later tonight I’m going to a party with other English majors to celebrate the end of the semester.  I still can’t believe I’m through with my first year of grad school.  I deserve a pat on the back.  Any takers?