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Books + Stories

Books + Stories
Start, Love, Repeat: A Book for Entrepreneurs!
February 6, 2018 at 6:00 am 0
    You met one of my writer friends, Beth Bruno, author of A Voice Becoming. Today, I can't wait to introduce you to Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat   Dorcas Cheng-Tozun's book, Start, Love, Repeat, is a practical, empathetic, smart look at the life of entrepreneurs and their families.      

How do we combine what we love to do and those whom we love without sacrificing either?

Start, Love, Repeat is specifically for couples in which one or both partners are entrepreneurs, but don't worry if you're not an entrepreneur -- the research and advice are applicable for any couple who struggles to balance the work they love with the people they love. And who has got this thing called "balance" figured out?
  Dorcas wrote Start, Love, Repeat because there weren't any books out there that dealt with what it looks like to nurture both a demanding career that can eclipse life outside of work as well as family life. Start, Love, Repeat is organized by the phases of start-up life and it's a smart book that combines research, personal stories, and helpful information for entrepreneurial couples. We tend to stereotype entrepreneurs as uniformly young and single, but the truth is that nearly 70 percent of business founders have spouses, life partners, or children—all of whom, whether they like it or not, are living the start-up life.1 Those who choose to be with entrepreneurs invite things into their lives they may never have wanted: financial instability, uncertainty, stress, and the nagging sense that they are always playing second fiddle to the greater lure of their partner’s business. You need a guide to making it and Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is just that.       

Let me tell you one little secret...

Start, Love, Repeat isn't just a book for entrepreneurs. It's a book for adults. For anyone who lives a real life and is trying to figure out what and how to prioritize personal lives with work lives. It's a fabulous resource for ministry families. I've felt the dearth of good books to help a pastor and their spouse weather the challenges of always being available for ministry. Starting a church is a whole lot like starting a business. We need good resources to help give us language to know what's going on, that we're not alone, and some tips to keep moving forward. This should definitely be on your to-read list for 2018.

Dorcas was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book, Start, Love, Repeat:

  Why is the start-up journey so difficult for couples and families? There is nothing quite like starting a business from nothing. It requires entrepreneurs to lay almost all of what they have and who they are on the line: financially, professionally, but also emotionally. They’re signing up for a heavy load of uncertainty, stress, and responsibility. Significant others, whether or not they are entrepreneurial themselves, are inevitably pulled into these risks. Being with an entrepreneur forces you to confront your own issues around security, money, quality of life, self-confidence, control, and more—all at the same time. Unsurprisingly, such couples almost always have challenges around conflict, communication, and decision-making, even while neither partner is operating at their best because they’re so stressed. In addition, spouses often feel like they’ve been demoted or replaced because running a company is such an all-consuming vocation. Imagine: the person you considered your life partner has entirely dedicated him- or herself to another entity. More than one therapist I interviewed said it was comparable to your spouse having an affair. That feeling of betrayal can lead to deep, longstanding wounds if not proactively addressed.   How did writing this book change your perspective on your own marriage? As a perpetual pessimist, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the hardships of my marriage. I find myself counting the sacrifices, the inconveniences, and the ways in which I have been hurt. But as I reflected on our last twelve years together, I saw how—even though there were plenty of ugly episodes along the way—our relationship has matured and been positively transformed because of all that we’ve been through. Ned and I were forced to confront personal weaknesses, mismatched expectations, and conflict early on in our relationship. Thankfully, we were both willing to make adjustments along the way, and we have been able to move closer toward a healthier and more fulfilling relationship. I also saw how profoundly Ned cared for me each step of the way, even when I felt isolated and neglected. I realized how he had done so many things, big and small, to try to make things easier for me or to respect my wishes. He has made plenty of sacrifices as well, like booking crazy flight itineraries so he could get home twelve hours earlier, or saying no to amazing business opportunities so he would have more time to spend with our kids and me. Being married to Ned has also pushed me to live with more boldness and courage, and to take more risks. I don’t think I would have been able to write this book without Ned encouraging me and cheering me on along the way.   What are some of the most important things that an entrepreneur can do for his or her significant other? Many entrepreneurs’ spouses live with an underlying worry that their partner loves the business more than him or her. Anything an entrepreneur can do to counter that belief, to communicate, “I love you and I appreciate you” is important. This could come in the form of choosing to leave work and turn off your phone at a decent hour so you can spend the evening with your family. Or perhaps you intentionally seek advice from your significant other on aspects of the business to show that you respect his or her opinion. It could be intentionally helping around the house or demonstrating your affection through words and actions. One therapist I interviewed used the word loyalty, which I love.  Loyalty, to me, means that you are committed to this relationship now, as opposed to some distant future when you think you’ll have more time. Loyalty means that you, my spouse, are essential in my life, and I am willing to take the necessary steps to make sure you know that.

Pick up a copy of Dorcas Cheng-Tozun's book, Start, Love, Repeat, today! 

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Books + Stories
Win a Copy of Beth Bruno’s New Book: A Voice Becoming!
January 31, 2018 at 6:00 am 0
Friends! I'm so excited to introduce you to Beth Bruno, author of A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey into Passionate, Purposed Living. Her book is a beautiful introduction to how we help our daughters grow up to be passionate, purposeful women.   You'll get to hear more from Beth and enter to win her book!  

What does it mean to be a woman? How do we help our daughters past the tween and teen years where everyone else says obsess with boys or create drama with your girlfriends?

  If you're looking for some big ideas and practical wisdom (and a ton of practical how-to's) about raising women to love God and love others, this book is for you.  

Here's a bit about the book and why I can't wait for you to read it:

  A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey into Passionate, Purposed Living is a year-long exploration of what a womanly rite of passage might mean. It's not meant as a cheesy way to talk about the birds and bees, but rather an intentional message of hope, agency, beauty, truth, and extending the goodness of the gospel to all corners of the earth as we work out justice on behalf of women. Even if you're not a mom to a daughter, this is an important book to consider if you care about half of humanity. As a mom to four (one of whom is a daughter), I'm desperate to have some intentional, life-giving parenting resources to help my children through the tween and teen years. This book, along with Beth's husband's book (Man Maker Project: Boys are Born. Men are Made.), will be a terrific start.  

Can you imagine how beautiful a legacy we could give to the next generation if we could help our children answer: Where have you come from? And where are you going?

   

Beth was so generous to answer a few questions about A Voice Becoming:

  1. Why did you decide to write this book?   I did not set out to write a book like this. While my husband researched and designed the year that became the Man Maker Project: Boys are Born, Men are Made, I did my own research. Even less had been written about rites of passage for girls. And what I found felt insufficient given current culture and the realities youth face. My girls did not fit the archetype described in many existing books and I knew I would miss their heart if I employed those models. That, paired with the enormous expectations they had after my son’s “man year,” meant creation of our own journey was inevitable. 2. Tell us a little bit about you and your girls. What is your relationship like? We are some pretty independent women! Once we got over the initial toddler Sunday school tears, my girls marched confidently away from me toward every new adventure. The youngest started overnight camp at age 7 (which I still can’t believe we did!) I’d say we’re close, but not intertwined. As in, I never struggled with being a helicopter mom. We share the passion gene and get fired up about strong women doing cool things. They play along with my quirky interests, but the older they get, the fiercer their sarcasm and teasing gets. I give them a lot of fodder, but down deep, I sense they love it. 3. Can you share about a difficult time parenting your tween daughter? How to choose one? Lest you think all is easy and swell all the time in our household, believe me when I tell you I have been called “dictator of the universe.” My kids are still kids and I am still a very human and fallen parent. The biggest challenge for me is sustained empathy. There are a few themes on repeat in each child’s life and I tend to go through cycles of mercy and exasperation. In the Appendix, I write about Ella’s theme with friends and I have to tell you, this is one of those cycles for me. Deciphering between truth and perception, emotion and reason, makes it difficult to navigate problems with tweens. My challenge was to show up every time she needed me to. To be present in the pain and not checked out in fatigue. I did not always succeed. 4. How did your daughter feel about the year during the year? After? Ella ate up my intention toward her. Honestly, it made me realize how much she needed my attention. She understood it was a big deal to “become a woman” and knew to take serious each thing we did together. I even think she was proud to tell her English teacher the books she brought to class were “assigned” by me. Since completing the year, I’ve noticed a beautiful, albeit difficult, by product: She is more mature than peers. Recently, she articulated this by saying “I’m going to run for President and make it mandatory that all girls have a Becoming year.” 5. How does your work to prevent human trafficking intersect with raising strong girls?   I spend most of my time addressing two different types of girls: “at-risk” and overly active. With community service providers, I am working on intervention models with vulnerable kids, response protocols, and prevention tools for those most at risk of being exploited. In high schools, I speak to the whole student body, but it is often the overly involved, good students who want to take on leadership. These two groups have something in common however: girls who live small stories are often more vulnerable to traffickers. It doesn’t matter if she comes from a chaotic home or a church-going family, if a girl has a gaping hole in her heart and she fills it with whatever feels good at the time, she is easier to manipulate. My passion to cast a vision for a bigger story, to lift girls’ eyes out of the daily obsession with bodies, boys, and besties, to a life of purpose and passion is my antidote to exploitation and ultimately, human trafficking.  
  I'm sure you can't wait to read A Voice Becoming. Scurry on over to purchase it or enter to win a copy right here. (Or better yet, buy a copy for a friend and win one for yourself!)

TO ENTER TO WIN A COPY:

All you need to do is enter your email address here.

Leave questions in the comments for Beth!

 

GIVEAWAY CLOSES on Sunday, February 4 at 12pm Pacific.

Winner will be notified by email. 

*When you enter your email, you'll get my once-a-month newsletter with writing news, where I'm speaking, and the chance to win more free books -- exclusive to subscribers! You can always unsubscribe at any time.
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Books + Stories
I wrote a book.
June 22, 2017 at 6:00 am 0
It's a pleasure to be back at The Mudroom this month. I submitted the manuscript for my first book just weeks ago and it feels good to get some words down on paper again. Fortunately, this month's theme is all about books and reading, so I naturally wrote on completing my first manuscript. Here's an excerpt:
A few weeks ago, I turned in the manuscript for my first book to my publisher, Finding Holy in the Suburbs. I suppose there had been others -- scrawled words in composition notebooks and spiral notebooks, abandoned stories where I gave up writing and thought I could only write about writing, and a PhD that approximately 4 people in the entire universe will ever read all the way through (2 of which examined me on it, 1 was my supervisor, and 1 was, of course, me). It's an odd sort of pleasure and pain to write a book. I began with pretty words and sentences, intoxicated by the blank page, by all the stories that needed telling. By the very art of stringing words together to affect transformation. But morning after morning, at 5 a.m., I'd wake, drink my tea, and stare off into the middle distance for awhile. I'd plop down on my green couch, curl my legs under a blanket, and begin the writing. It didn't dazzle, not usually anyway. But I showed up, day after day, when the world was dark to write. Somewhere along the way, it became less about crafting sentences and more about utility. Less about beauty, more about substance. After all, I just wanted to be helpful to my reader. I imagined my readers sitting in their granite-countertopped kitchens, eating takeout and drinking a glass of wine after circling the suburbs in their SUVs. They'd stare at their noodles, slurp them up with a fork and bemoan their children's chaos in the other room, the latest headline on the TV, take a big breath, and get to helping with homework. They were ragged, worn, busy, supposedly full, but empty. It's the sort of discontent I felt from moving from place to place -- from trading mountain vistas for ocean ones, for trading city for suburb, for trading a long-standing community for a new one. I understood it.  
Head on over to The Mudroom for the full story.  
Two take-aways: 
  1. I'm thinking of starting a writing workshop online. Comment below or email me if you're interested!
  2. Make sure you've subscribed to get updates on my book, giveaways, and my little booklet for chasing beauty right where you are!
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Books + Stories
Interview with Jen: We laugh, we talk about privilege, home, and her new book!
May 12, 2017 at 6:39 am 4

Jen Pollock Michel is a dear friend and we had so much fun chatting for this interview about her book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home.

In her book, Jen writes with theological richness about what it means that God is our home, how he creates home for his people, and how we follow him in the work of home. She weaves together her own story, a trove of historical research about our longing for home, and opens up the Bible to tell it as a home story.

In this fun 20-minute interview, we talk some of the themes of her book:

  • How the myth of technology robs us of a rich story of home as embodied and emplaced people;
  • How to embrace the mundane and menial;
  • You'll even see (if you make it to the end) a little surprise about what the work of home looks like;
  • And yes, we get into how a narrative of privilege has made home about consumerism and a version of Christian womanhood more about an aesthetic than a place of service.

Link to Keeping Place Interview with Jen Pollock Michel

Buy Jen Pollock Michel's new book, Keeping Place, on Amazon or at IVP. Follow Jen at her website.

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Books + Stories
A new favorite book is born!
May 9, 2017 at 5:26 am 5
Jen Pollock Michel's first book, Teach Us to Want, changed me. It was one of the first times I'd read a rigorous, personal, practical and thoughtful book on faith from a woman. As a mother to 5, Jen's stories were relatable, but relating wasn't the end game. Her first book on the tangled nature of desire and faith was a gift and won the 2015 Christianity Today award for the Best Book of the Year. Jen Pollock Michel has now birthed a second book today, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. Friends, it's a thoughtful, gorgeous book full of tight prose, meaty stories, and much historical research to situate a discussion on home, longing, and the work we do today -- including doing the dishes and the laundry. I have a treat for you today: a Q+A with the author. Stay tuned for an interview of us together coming soon! Order the book today! Keeping Place may already be sold out on Amazon, but IVP is offering a 30% discount on the book and DVD series with the code READKP.  
Why write a book about home? Is it your experience as a wife and mother that most informs this book or something else? There’s no doubt that my experience of making a home for my family these past twenty years has informed the writing of this book. But Keeping Place isn’t only meant for wives and mothers. In fact, I think the longing for home is a human longing. It’s not particular to women. Men feel it, too—even if they might characterize that longing in different ways. I’ve spent my entire life searching for home. Partially this is because I’ve experienced so much loss in my life: the premature death of my father, the suicide of my brother, a sometimes emotionally distant relationship with my mother. It’s also true that home has been elusive simply because I’ve been so geographically mobile, somehow ending up in Toronto as an American expat. These life experiences springboard a Scriptural exploration throughout the book. I want to hear what God has to say about the longings for and losses of home. What’s the challenge of writing a book about home for both women and men? I recently had coffee with a young woman from church, and at the end of our conversation, she said that she looked forward to my book on “homemaking.” Later, I couldn’t help but wonder if she imagined a book of recipes, table setting ideas, and the best way to organize a linen closet. I think that’s the fear: that men will see a book on the topic of home and immediately think it’s a book meant for their wives or mothers or sisters. That’s why the history of home is a really fundamental part of this book (chapter 2). I want to trace how home was once a shared space for residence and commerce and industry up until the Industrial Revolution. That historical analysis might sound sort of heady, but it’s really meant to provide a backdrop for the way that we read the Bible, which never talks about “home” as something which women are solely responsible for. What books have influenced you to keep a wider perspective in your home-keeping? I really do see Keeping Place as having resonance with a lot of the great work that’s being done on theology of place. In particular, I really appreciated the early chapters of Craig Bartholomew’s Where Mortals Dwell, because it makes the case for God’s good gift of place. I have also loved books like C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison’s Slow Church, which I believe help us see the role that the local church can play to “keep place” in our cities. And a perennial favorite is also Kathleen Norris’s The Quotidian Mysteries. Beyond that, it’s always been important to me to read outside of my own experiences: books like Kent Annan’s Slow Kingdom Coming and D.L. Mayfield’s Assimilate or Go Home would be two examples. How do you combine motherhood, writing and speaking? How does your home-making life practically work in the day-to-day? A lot of my day is taken up with the practical care of my family, especially because I’m the primary parent for our five kids. And even though I’m the first person to try and find help when I need it (I pay someone to clean my house, someone else to do virtual assistant work for me), there’s also something irreducible about the labor that love requires. I have five kids and a very busy executive husband, which means that my work life is sometimes more constrained than I would like it to be because of my responsibilities at home. I can’t accept every speaking invitation I want to. I can’t write on every topic that interests me. I can’t stay connected on social media (even if truthfully, I don’t really want to). But I think this is what it means to be human. We are limited. Who do you hope is reading this book, and what do you hope they will gain? I suppose it’s fair to say that women like me will probably read the book, and I hope that they’ll come earlier to the realization that their home is a shared responsibility with their husbands. This “sharing” benefits children, for sure—who need both mom and dad fully engaged at home. It also gives women permission when other God-given callings sometimes call us away from home. But I hope it’s not just women like me reading the book. I’d love to see women and men who aren’t married, who aren’t parents, find ways they can have and make home today, especially in their local churches and communities. I’d like for people to catch a vision for justice in the world—to see that the gospel isn’t solely a spiritual endeavor to save souls but that it also inspires practices of caring for physical bodies and environments. And if I could just dream a bit, I’d love for someone on the margins of faith, maybe even on the outside looking in, to read this book and start making sense of the life and death, resurrection and return of Jesus Christ. Sadly, when we get to telling that story, we often use a vocabulary that people are not familiar with. But what if we could talk about the promises of the gospel through the lens of home? Last question: isn’t there a DVD video series to accompany the book? There is! It’s meant as a teaching companion to the book, and what I especially love about the videos (and something I can claim NO credit for) are the personal stories shared in each of the five sessions. Women talk about their dreams for home, their disappointments of home. I think it makes it really relevant to our everyday lives. You can watch the trailer here or buy the DVDs at ivpress.org.
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