Book Review: “The Dream of You” by Jo Saxton

Book Review: The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

"What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told youwho you were allowed to be?" — Jo Saxton, The Dream of You

IsisWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be Isis. From time to time (usually after watching the “Shazam! Isis Power Hour” on Saturday mornings), I would suddenly strike a pose, speak the magical phrase, “Oh, Mighty Isis!” and transform myself—mentally, at least—into a superhero goddess ready to use all my powers to fight against evil!

I loved everything about this nerdy female archaeologist with huge glasses and a secret superhero identity. (I’ve included a video at the bottom of this review for your entertainment.)

Who did you want to be? Do you remember? If so, feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d love to know!

Headshot of Jo Saxton, a Nigerian-Londoner with short natural hair and a beautiful smile.
Jo Saxton

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Jo Saxton. As a little girl growing up in London, author and speaker Jo Saxton had a dream: She wanted to be Wonder Woman. And I mean, she WANTED to BE Wonder Woman—red boots and all!

In case you are unfamiliar with this wonder of a woman, Jo is a Nigerian Londoner who currently resides in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.

Her book, The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For, traces Jo’s lifelong transition from childhood dreamer to adult achiever.

The Dream (and Struggle) of You

What I find so striking is the similarity between Jo’s struggles and my own—even though we are SO different!!! For example:

  • OppositesWe have completely different cultural backgrounds (immigrant vs. born citizen);
  • We were raised on two different continents (she in the UK; me in the US);
  • We have different personality types (she’s an ENTJ; I’m an INTJ);
  • We have different enneagrams (she’s an 8, and I’m a 1);
  • We have opposite body types (probably because she doesn’t like chocolate and I do!)

We are basically opposite, and yet our struggles were/are very much the same. How is this possible?

On her quest to explore the different things that held her back or kept her from moving forward in her own life, Jo dug deep and discovered that the root causes of her brokenness, although personal, were not unique to her. They were, in fact, quite common to the human experience—especially that of women.

And like any good Bible teacher, she found biblical examples for each struggle!

The Struggle Is Real

Weaving the story of her own life’s journey together with that of Joseph, Esther, David, Naomi, Hagar, Ezekiel, and others, the author reveals thread-by-thread that God is present with us through our most difficult experiences, and how they add color, dimension, and texture to our character.

Jo Saxton Live Video ChatOver the past few months, I’ve been privileged to interact with Jo as she discussed her book and her thoughts behind the various stories she shares in it. Reflecting on the first few chapters, she said,

There are times when we have an earthquake in our souls, habits, the way we live. We don’t simply rise up and get over it…but we also don’t want to be defined by it the rest of our lives.”

The Dream of You was never intended to be  a survival manual. It’s about wholeness and redemption and purpose.

The first part of the book not only prompts us to reflect on what (or whom) we’ve allowed to define us but also challenges us to re-imagine what life could be like moving forward: Mended. WHOLE.

It's Powerful

Jo explains the profound impact negative and destructive comments and experiences have on us—minimizing nothing. These experiences simply underscore the reason she wrote the book: to remind us that there is wholeness to be found in relationship with a redeeming God.

When the grit and guts of your broken identity meet the grace and goodness of God, it will reveal you, but He will transform you. You’re in Him now, with all His resources available to you. You have access to His power, mercy, and grace.” (p. 21, emphasis mine)

Each chapter in the The Dream of You begins with a short, heartfelt letter from the author to the reader. In it she offers words of encouragement while setting the stage for the theme of that particular section.

Jo expounds on each theme by sharing a formative experience from her own life as well as a similar story from the Bible, and you don’t have to be familiar with the Bible to benefit from this! Jo has provided quick summaries and backstories of each character so the reader will not be lost in the explanation.

Then, without the use of a Venn Diagram, the author focuses her attention on the intersection of the stories, exposing the root of the issue. She culls out transformative biblical truths and challenges the reader to face the facts in her (or his) own life. She concludes the chapter with suggested action steps geared towards fostering personal growth and spiritual maturity.

Book Flow & Themes

The chapter titles, though creative, are pretty vague if you haven’t read the book yet; therefore, I complied a list of themes (noted in parentheses) followed by one or more of my favorite quotes from that chapter to provide a more helpful overview of the text:

  • Introduction (Dreams)
    “What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told you who you were allowed to be?” (p. 3)
    .
  • Chapter 1: Don’t Call Me “Pleasant” (Insecurity)
    “Insecurities, if left unaddressed, can grow from momentary emotions to a definitive worldview that determines how we feel, think, and act. Insecurity becomes our identity.” (p. 12)
    .
  • Chapter 2: What’s in a Name? (Compromise/Hiding)
    “Throughout biblical history, God transformed people…God changed the names of people and in doing so changed their stories.” (p. 35)
    .
  • Chapter 3: The Talk (Perfectionism)
    “Many of us know what it feels like to hide our identities in order to survive. We do what it takes to fit into our family, our workplace, our friendship group. We spend our energy trying to fit into our context, into society, into what is demanded of us according to someone else’s terms.” (p. 44)
    .
    “God wants to redeem it all. Rather than your being transformed into a broken identity by the pressures of your world, He wants to transform you to recover who you fully are. Are you ready to be led toward redemptive wholeness, even when you might still fear for your survival?” (p. 56)
    .
  • Chapter 4: The Day I Lost My Voice (Bullying)
    “At times, women apologize for who they are. They minimize their abilities as if they’re expecting someone to tell them they’re arrogant for having talent, ability, and dreams. Some women, particularly those who reach high levels of influence in their field, are plagued by what is known as Imposter Syndrome, or the impostor experience.” (p. 66)
    .
    “When our voice has been taken, we redirect our lives toward ‘more acceptable’ interests. We excuse the damage caused by having been silenced…we make ourselves small.” (p. 68)
    .
  • Chapter 5: God’s Child (Redemption)
    “If we are going to embrace our full identity, know our name, and live out our vocation as we speak with our true voice, if we are going to embrace who we are and what we’re living for, we need to know whose we are.” (p. 82)
    .
    “The things that once defined you don’t have to shape you forever. He [God] transforms your entire life.” (p. 88)

    .
  • Chapter 6: Known and Loved (Vulnerability)
    “You are fully known. He has seen it all and He knows it all. And still you are deeply, deeply loved.” (p. 108)
    .
  • Chapter 7: Slay Your Giants (Courage)
    “It seems that when God redeems a person’s identity and leads her to her purpose, there’s a backdrop of battle and vulnerability.” (p. 112)
    .
    “You will battle the giants that stand in your way, but when you do, don’t even try to fight in someone else’s armor.” (p. 122)
    .
  • Chapter 8: The Wander Years (Refinement)
    “Even with abundant examples in Scripture, when the wilderness experience makes up part of our faith journey, we may not always understand when and why it’s happening.” (p. 132)
    .
    “Wandering in the wilderness exposed the truth that in order to be fully free, the Israelites didn’t just need to get out of Egypt. They needed to get Egypt out of them.” (pp. 136-137)

    .
  • Chapter 9: In the Valley (Doubt and Discouragement)
    “Had I been wrong when I felt called…Or worse, was it just some fantasy idea that I’d decided was a divine calling? Who did I think I was?” (p. 153)
    .
    “We feel too crushed to feel known and loved; we are convinced we have nothing left to offer as a voice or purpose…We’re at the end of ourselves; we are forced to face what life has done to us. It’s tempting to mute our pain rather than face it.” (p. 155)

    .
  • Chapter 10: Breaking up with Perfection (Authenticity)
    “Survival is not the same as being whole.” (p. 168)
    .
    “Are you ready to confront your brokenness, rather than keep hiding it underneath greater efforts to prove yourself to others?” (p. 170)
    .
  • Chapter 11: The Song in My Heart (Community)
    “You’ll need people who see you and know you, people unafraid to remind you of the fullness of who you are. They won’t be threatened by you because they are the kind of women who celebrate who you are. You need people who want to hear your voice and don’t mind how loud it gets. People who get excited about your dreams and your unfolding purpose.” (p. 173)
    .
    “God provides people to help us. Sometimes they’re further along in the journey, and they’ve seen more…They’ll celebrate resurrection of your name over the things that have falsely renamed you, and they’ll keep encouraging you.” (p. 185)

    .
  • Chapter 12: Practices (Disciplines)
    “We don’t adopt practices to prove ourselves or to perform for God’s approval. We already are seen, known, and loved. Instead, the practices make room in our overscheduled lives for God to meet with us. We find that by making time for God’s engagement with us, we are changed, transformed, redeemed.” (p. 192)
    .
  • Chapter 13: Pick up Your Keys (Stepping into Your Purpose)
    “A healthy identity opens our life to abundant purpose…There is less of me—of my self-absorption and self-protection—and there is more room for others. There’s less energy spent striving, proving, and more room for dreaming.” (p. 210)
    .
  • Epilogue (Action)
    “Let’s not allow a sense of inadequacy to tell us we’re not ready or not enough for the task.” (p. 219)
    .
    “Maybe we’ll remember to be tender and nonjudgmental as we remember our own stories.” (p. 220) 

It’s EASY for me to recommend The Dream of You because it is well-written, organized, funny, engaging, well-researched, insightful, empowering, and theologically accurate.

But what I would like to add is this: On every level, the teachings contained herein resonated with me. Jo’s journey mirrors my own—not on the outside, but on the inside. 

And I can testify that what Jo offers you in this book is the same thing I would offer you in my own book: Truth. God is faithful and ready to redeem the years the locusts have eaten (cf. Joel 2:25-27). He can take what was meant for evil and flip it for good. In fact, He does it all the time.

Are You Ready?

The question is, are you ready to recover the The Dream of You? If so, then you have found the right resource with which to start your journey. I highly recommend this to women of all ages, but especially those who have been waiting on God for what feels like a very long time.

🎧 Jo has also recorded an audio version which you will LOVE, if you’re into audio books. 

With no further ado, meet my childhood superhero: Isis.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Footwear of Faith

Footwear of Faith
Marikina City Footwear Museum
A very small portion of the Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection

How many pairs of shoes do you personally own? Does your family jokingly refer to you as “Imelda”? Or are you a one-pair wonder who sees little point in owning more than one functional, comfortable pair of shoes? I, myself, am much closer to the one-pair wonder than Imelda Marcos (who owned more than 3000 pairs of shoes).

I tend to have one pair of shoes for every occasion: I wear flip-flops everyday🩴; tennis shoes for the gym 👟; ankle boots with my dress pants 👢; sandals in the summer 👡; heels for special occasions 👠; and winter boots when it’s cold outside❄️. Oh, I almost forgot: I also have an old pair of those “special” Sketchers® that never did firm or tone anything saggy. Oh well!

You might be wondering, “Why all this talk about shoes? I thought this was a devotional!” True. True.

Well, shoes have soles, too! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!😂 )

The truth is, as I prayed about this month’s theme of faith, God brought to my mind a few common idioms about faith, and they all involved feet! A person takes a step of faith; another is walking in faith; while someone else just book a leap of faith. Apparently, faith requires moving your proverbial feet.

Before we start selecting shoes for the journey, let’s first define what faith is and is not. In the New Testament, “faith” is an action word. And while we can easily translate the Greek noun pistis as “faith,” the English language has no way to accurately translate its verb form, pisteuein, which literally means “to faith.”

Most of the time, pisteuein is translated “to believe” which implies mere mental assent; however, it’s meaning is more complex than that. Pisteuein is an action-imperative verb which contains the concept of trust embodied in obedient action.

Just let that sink in for a moment. “Faithing” is not merely believing in something or someone: “Faithing” is demonstrating trust in something or someone through obedient action. Unfortunately, there’s no such word as “faithing” in English. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we keep this full definition of faith in mind when we read the Bible. We must remember that faith is not something you merely possess, it’s something you do. You exercise your faith through your actions. 

Understanding the meaning of pisteuein can enrich your understanding of familiar Bible passages and shed new light on them. For example, John 3:16 is typically translated “whosoever believes in Him,” but it would be better translated “all the faithing-in-Him ones.” It’s so much more than mental ascent.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever known someone (or been the person) to request prayer repeatedly for guidance on a particularly difficult decision, but the decision is never translated into action? This is indicative of a lack of faith.

In other words, merely praying without taking action is akin to buying a pair of shoes and never wearing them. It becomes a wasted opportunity and a constant reminder of what could have been. Shoes are meant to be worn, just as steps of faith are meant to be taken, not pondered forever.

When we pray about something, God will reveal next steps. He WANTS us to know His will. As Daniel 2:28 says, “There is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries.”  He desires for us both to know His will AND to demonstrate our faith through action AND to trust His sovereignty. 

I can pray about a decision all I want; I can discuss it; I can tell everyone about it—none of this requires faith. I exercise faith when I make the decision and take the corresponding action.

3 Types of Joy

3 Types of Joy

I’d like to tell you a story: Three friends, Reggie, Nguyen, and Jim, met for lunch at the golf course ⛳, and each one was full of joy.

Reggie, after slightly puffing out his chest, exclaimed, “Well, guys, I “hate” to rub it in, but my team made it to the Final Four …AND my company gave us tickets to the playoffs!” He leaned back in his chair, placing his hands behind his head, and challenged anyone to top that! 

Nguyen replied, “Jealous. Not jealous. That’s cool, man! But…I have some pretty good news of my own: My wife told me this morning: ‘We’re having a baby!’ 👶🏽🍼 I can’t believe it! I’m gonna be a dad!”  He was beaming and smiling from ear to ear. 

“Congratulations, man!” Jim chimed in, “That’s fantastic! When is she due?”

Their conversation continued for a few minutes until Jim changed the subject: “So, I hate to break the mood, but I need to let y’all know that we finally got the pathology report back yesterday. Turns out, I have prostate cancer. 🎗️ It’s treatable, but it looks like I’ll be practicing my putt at home for a while.” 

📞 HOLD THE PHONE!

You, the reader, might be thinking, “I thought you said all three people were ‘full of joy’! How is that possible when the third man is sharing a cancer diagnosis? I’m sure he was ‘exuding’ something, but there’s no way it could be JOY!”

As a matter of fact, he was full of joy—just a different type than the other two—we’ll look at that in a bit. But first, I want to share with you about a discussion I had with a few friends on my Facebook page. Here’s how that conversation came about:

As I prayed about and contemplated the word JOY for this devotional, I spent some time in the Bible and a few minutes on Google. Did you know there are 19.5 million articles explaining how/why joy is better than happiness?! Good grief! Just so you know, I’ve decided NOT to add to that total. You’re welcome! 

As you might imagine, the answers varied, but not very widely: The overwhelming majority of my Christian and Agnostic friends agreed that it’s possible, although a few dissented. A Buddhist friend affirmed that while choosing joy is attainable, it’s not easy and requires “not just self-discipline, but a willingness to forgo unhealthy attachment to things as they are.” The response that really got my attention, though, was from a friend in Washington state. He commented, “I think I choose optimism and attitude, but ‘joy’ is something I receive.” And just like that, my perspective on joy shifted.

I realized that I had been approaching this subject all wrong—as if joy had only one meaning. What I needed to do was research JOY more thoroughly in order to understand its nuances. Because if joy can be received, then it can also be given. If it can be given and received, then it can also be rejected and disregarded. What IS joy? Where does it come from? Can I generate it by myself, or do I need to find it somewhere else? Or both? Or neither? (Yes, this is how my brain works.) 

As you might imagine, the answers varied, but not very widely: The overwhelming majority of my Christian and Agnostic friends agreed that it’s possible, although a few dissented. A Buddhist friend affirmed that while choosing joy is attainable, it’s not easy and requires “not just self-discipline, but a willingness to forgo unhealthy attachment to things as they are.” The response that really got my attention, though, was from a friend in Washington state. He commented, “I think I choose optimism and attitude, but ‘joy’ is something I receive.” And just like that, my perspective on joy shifted.

I realized that I had been approaching this subject all wrong—as if joy had only one meaning. What I needed to do was research JOY more thoroughly in order to understand its nuances. Because if joy can be received, then it can also be given. If it can be given and received, then it can also be rejected and disregarded. What IS joy? Where does it come from? Can I generate it by myself, or do I need to find it somewhere else? Or both? Or neither? (Yes, this is how my brain works.) 

Dog using computer in nerd glasses

So, I began my “formal” research. And guess what I learned? JOY, one word in English, is expressed with a variety of words in other languages—even in the Bible! I was surprised to find at least ten different root words for joy in the Old Testament (Hebrew) and five different word groups in the New Testament (Greek). Since we English speakers tend to use only one word for joy, it’s simple to suppose why joy is so frequently conflated with cheerfulness, contentment, pride, bliss, hope, and happiness.

Noted psychologist Dr. Robert Plutchik developed a “wheel of emotions” (see image below) to visually describe the relationships of emotions to each other. He first identified eight “primary” emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, trust, disgust, surprise, and anticipation. He taught that basic emotions could be expressed at a variety of intensities (like shades of a particular color) and could combine to create even more! Plutchik identified 8 distinct second-level and 25 third-level emotions for a grand total of 33 distinct emotions that comprise JOY. No wonder we struggle to understand it.

Dr. Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

In order to better apprehend joy, imagine a backwards prism (see my diagram below). There’s a full spectrum of second-level emotions shining into the prism (not to mention the third-level behind it), but only one emotion beams out the other side: JOY. That tiny word is pretty complex!

Spectrum of Joy

Joy is neither pre-meditated, nor can it’s time of arrival be controlled. When joy arrives on the scene, “it takes possession of the whole person”1—body, mind, and spirit. This is why “tears of joy” is not an oxymoron: It’s perfectly natural for a person to well-up with tears (i.e., have a visceral reaction) in the midst of a joyous occurence.   

Three Distinct Types of Joy

So, does everyone experience joy? Yes, but not always in the same way and not necessarily the same types. Scripture presents us with three kinds of joy: Public Joy, Personal Joy, and Pure Joy.

Type #1: Public Joy

PUBLIC JOY is a shared experience with others and fades more quickly than the other two types. For example, you might experience public joy at a Panthers  game—assuming they are your favorite team, and they win. Or maybe you’re at a regional conference with some friends, and one of them  makes a life-changing decision. Or maybe you are cheering at the TV when your favorite team seals their spot in the Final Four  during March Madness. Even though you’re not necessarily in a crowd at the moment, you are enjoying it with people from all over the world. Biblical examples of public joy are seen during annual feasts, communal festivals, and celebrations (cf. Num. 10:10Deut. 16:15). At times—even today—it may be felt in the course of corporate worship (cf. Ezra 3:13). Unfortunately, public joy is temporary—it rises and falls with the live experience. At certain times it will last longer than others, but eventually, public joy fades away. 

Type #2: Personal Joy

PERSONAL JOY is experienced within oneself, but it is not received or felt until something happens. The “something” might be an anticipated milestone (e.g., the arrival of a letter from a publisher accepting your book proposal; the birth of a child; your husband’s promotion at work;  etc.), or it could be a complete surprise (e.g., a soldier surprises her family by coming home unannounced). At that moment—when IT happens—you experience a spontaneous visceral reaction as personal joy “wells up” within you—“tears of joy” may be involved. Or not. How one experiences personal joy has as much to do with a person’s character and values as it does their personality type. When something happens in alignment with your values and hopes, the strong emotional response you have is more than relief, happiness, or even peace: It’s a deep sense of joy that lingers (cf. Luke 1:39-442 Tim. 1:4). Personal joy takes up most of the spectrum. Individuals will find joy in a variety of things or find themselves receiving joy in unexpected moments. Interestingly, what brings one person joy, might trigger sadness in another. Personal joy is, well, personal.

Type #3: Pure Joy

PURE JOY is experienced at the metaphysical level (spiritually). It exists separate from the individual, and might seem elusive, if you don’t know where to find it. Thankfully, Scripture teaches us where to look and how to acquire it (cf. Ps. 16:11; ). Pure joy is the spiritual fruit of a personal relationship with the Lord—rooted in His Word and cultivated by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26). It’s this relationship that produces in us the ability to face severe circumstances with a sense of deep and abiding joy. Pure joy holds us in place like an anchor in the storm. No longer do we rely on public joy or personal joy to carry us through the tough times: That’s dangerous and way too subjective (Neh. 8:10). Instead, we cling to the promises in His Word (cf. Isa. 40:31Mal. 3:10John 8:36Jas. 1:5), trusting that He will work everything out according to His plans and for His glory (cf. Psa. 139Isa. 46:9-10Jer. 29:11Rom. 8:281 John 4:13). This yields a peace that passes understanding, and pure joy has a place to root and grow. 

Flowers

Tend the Garden of joy

Public Joy, Personal Joy, Pure Joy—each of these was created for our benefit, and they are not mutually exclusive. We can experience them one at a time, or all at once! But if your goal, like mine, is to approach life with Pure Joy (the joy of the LORD), we must discipline ourselves to tend the garden of our hearts. 

We must consistently lop off self-reliance (Rev. 3:15-20), fear (1 John 4:18), and anxiety (1 Peter 5:7); and instead, feed on the Word (2 Tim. 2:15 & 3:16-17); assure proper exposure to the Son (cf. Rom. 10:9-10Jas. 4:7-8); allow pruning to stimulate growth (John 15:2); and enjoy unlimited access to living water (cf. John 7:37-39Rom. 5:4-6Rev. 22:17).     ️

Tend the garden, and Pure Joy will bloom in a full spectrum of color so beautiful that others will want to know how you did it. Then, you share your little secret: It’s all about Him (Matt. 5:15-16

This devotional was initially featured in the ‘Rooted at the Throne’ series, a yearlong collection of devotionals curated by renowned author and speaker Rachael Carman on her previous blog.

“Me in Three Words” Challenge

Me in Three Words Challenge

Yesterday, I was listening to a webinar where the host challenged us to e-mail five of our friends with this request: “Describe me in three words.” The original purpose of this exercise was to help listeners narrow down the focus of a book or blog or talk in order to write in our own voice—not someone else’s. Since completing the challenge, though, I have realized this is an amazing method anyone can use to monitor where they are on the path to becoming the person they’ve always wanted to be. 

*** If you take the challenge, let me know by commenting below. ***

The result of this exercise is to learn how others see you and experience you. Don’t be shocked if you’re surprised with some of the responses. The fact is, we are often “stuck in the past” with distorted images of ourselves which no longer match our current life situation. Over time, with great effort, we change. We grow. We mature. We develop. We blossom.

Oftentimes, “new” friends see character traits in us that we can’t fathom in ourselves. They see us for who we are, not who we used to be. This can be a refreshing shift in perspective, or possibly a snap back to reality for those of us who think we are doing better than we actually are. Reality checks, though sometimes painful, are super-necessary in life—especially for the person who wishes to become the best, most authentic version of himself or herself.

“Describe Me in Three Words”

Do you recognize yourself in their words, or are they sharing something with you that you thought you’d lost years ago? Do they see the real you? Are you ready to embrace that person? Or possibly do you need to change the reflection? You’ll never know unless you ask. 

All I did was ask, and I kept it very simple. Here’s the email I sent:

Dear ____________,

I was listening to a webinar yesterday, and I was challenged to write to five friends with this request: “Describe me in three words.”

Will you do that for me? Pretty please?

Thank you,
Laura

I encourage you to give it a shot. First start with five of your more recent friends (people who have known you less than five years). After that, if you’re feeling brave, move to long-term friends (people who have known you at least 5 years). And if you’re still feeling brave, email your family (but only if your relationships with them are healthy—no need to reinforce negativity or dysfunction). If you think someone is going to be insulting or sarcastic, don’t bother adding them to your email list for this experiment.

Three Words Can Change Your Perspective!

Taking this challenge was scary, but I’m glad I did it. My friends’ responses showed me that I’m on the right track for becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be…and that’s a good thing, considering I’ll be 50 next year!!! Finally, I’m getting there. I haven’t arrived, for sure; however, I’m on the right track, and on some level, that is comforting. 

Identify your themes. Look through the list of words you’ve received and group similar words/concepts together. For example: If one friend uses the word “compassion” and another friend uses the word “compassionate,” then you would group those together. Another example: If one friend says “contemplative” and another friend says “deep thinker,” group those together. Once you have the words grouped by theme, take a good look and see which themes occurred most often.

My top three themes were: 

Compassionate ~ Studious ~ Deep Thinker

The “compassionate” description surprised me more than “studious” and “deep thinker”—although I never knew my friends thought of me as “deep.” I have to testify that if I have any compassion in me, it is from the Lord. And I would also like to mention that “compassion” was not on my husband’s list of three words for me!
*cough* *man flu is real* *cough*

I hope you take this challenge and start with your newest friends! Then work backwards if you feel like it. The goal is to start off the year with a more objective, realistic view of who you are rooted in truth.

*** If you take the challenge, let me know by commenting below. ***

You’ll find the results are definitely insight-full.

“The Power of the Other” by Cloud

Book Review

Have you ever wondered if your success in life is dependent on you alone? If your own grit, drive, and tenacity are the chief contributing factors to achieving your life’s dreams?
According to Dr. Henry Cloud, success in your career and your personal life will never be determined solely by what you do, regardless of your level of commitment or your work ethic. 

Why? Because, unless you are Mark Watney, alone on Mars, you live in community with others. And, believe it or not, your friendships are already

having a dramatic impact on how successful you will be at reaching your full potential and accomplishing your goals.

I just finished reading The Power of the Otherthe latest book by best-selling author and world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud. In this enlightening book about “the startling effect other people have on you…and what to do about it,” Cloud draws a clear distinction between four different types of relationships—three dysfunctional, one healthy— placing each one in its own corner, extrapolating the ways they contribute to, hinder, or possibly halt our personal achievements and overall success in life.

 

Power of the OtherThe Power of the Other

Each “Corner” is defined according to the level of connection we have the person. These levels of connection are based on how we feel during and after interaction with the person (valued vs. diminished; condemned vs. accepted; authentic vs. fake; and so on) and how this person’s influence directly impacts our ability to move forward in life.

As we begin to sort our relationships into four corners, based on the objective criteria Cloud presents, we learn that the healthiest and most authentic relationships exist only in Corner Four where there is emotional support, wisdom, community, truth, reality-based feedback, and caring communication. Corner Four relationships are the key to our success and a significant part of the foundation of a fulfilled life.

What makes Corner Four relationships so powerful is that they don’t end even after they end. The lessons we learn, the phrases that motivate us, are ours to keep forever.

This is an excellent book filled with practical information to assist you in re-aligning your relationships (1) to invest in and benefit from the healthy ones while (2) setting boundaries with or ending dysfunctional ones. I highly recommend this book.

Click here to order your copy of: The Power of the Other * 
Available in the following formats: Hardback, Paperback, Audio CD, Kindle®, Audible®

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” What I learned from this book has already had a tremendously positive impact on my life. I wrote the book review because I’m a learner, and it’s my mission in life to share what I learn with others. I hope you enjoyed the review. 🙂

Keys to Understanding Yourself

Keys to Understanding Yourself

If you’ve never studied the different personality types before, you’re in for a treat! Although your personality is comprised of characteristics and qualities that make you uniquely you, you  may be surprised (and relieved!) to learn that you’re not the only one who approaches life in this manner.

Introvert Heaven

You’re not the only one who prefers a book to a party (or a party to a book). You’re not the only one who cocoons after being surrounded by a crowd (or seeks a crowd after too much time alone). Learning about your personality is fun and exciting, but why stop with yourself?  

Personality Types Matter

For me, the most rewarding part of understanding my personality came when I learned the personality types of my husband and son and parents and siblings and inlaws and friends. Yes, I enthusiastically asked them all to take the quiz, and they did! It was amazing to see how each person was “pegged” correctly and how insightful the descriptions were regarding how we relate to each other.

Know Your Personality type MBTI

TAKE THESE FREE ONLINE QUIZZES:

Here are a few of my favorite proven-in-real-life online quizzes to help us not only to understand ourselves and each other better, but also to show each other love and appreciation more effectively. Add your personality type in the comment section below! 

KEY #1: Know Your Meyers-Briggs Personality Type

In layman’s terms, the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI) explains our “preferences” (how we act, how we re-energize, how we make decisions) Here’s a link to the best (in my opinion) FREE Meyers Briggs Personality Test on the internet: http://bitbike.com/cgi-bin/pt?language=en  (There’s also a personality test you can take for your children here: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/pqk_indicate.html)

Once you know your 4-letter MBTI personality type, read about it. See if the description fits you (that’s really the best way to know if you were typed correctly). Here are a few good resources to get you started:

KEY #2: Know Your Enneagram Type

The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) complements the MBTI by providing insight into WHY we act the way we do (i.e., what is our motivation for making the decisions we make?). The sample Enneagram test below will give you enough information for you to figure out your main Type and your secondary Type (“wing”).

It’s important to know your wing, because it has great influence on your main type. To figure out your wing, simply look at your main Type (the type with the highest score), and look at the scores to the immediate right and left. Whichever of the two is the highest, that is your wing. Click here to take the FREE Enneagram Test.

Once you have your main type and your wing, Google is your friend. Simply enter your type & wing followed by the word “Enneagram” and enjoy the learning process! For example, I’m a 1w9, so I would type “1w9 Enneagram” into Google to learn more about my type.

KEY #3: Know Your Love Language

Marriage and family counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman, concluded years ago that people generally communicate in five basic “love languages.” The premise is that each of us has a certain way to give and receive love (our love language), and that we should each work hard to “speak” in the love language that is understood/spoken by the other person rather than only “speaking” in our own.

Learn the 5 Love Languages

This concept has been revolutionary in not only marriage relationships, but also family relationships and even co-worker relationships. Click here to take the FREE Five Love Languages Test.

Once you know what your primary love language is, you can continue learning about it by either purchasing the best-selling book (highly recommended) The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts or browsing their site.

KEY #4: Know Your Strengths (not free)

People are finally realizing how important it is for us to know our strengths (a.k.a. “themes” or “inborn talents”) and work within them versus focusing on our weaknesses in order to be more well-rounded. There are  basically 34 strength categories (“themes”), and this test will give you your Top 5 Themes.

This test is known as the Clifton StrengthsFinder® which requires a code. The research was done by the Gallup organization over a number of years and is some of the most SOLID data you will find. It’s very accurate and insightful. You can either purchase one of their books which includes the code, or purchase the code separately for $15.00.

It’s worth it to know your strengths! I suggest purchasing either Strengths Finder 2.0 or Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Strengths and Inspire Your Community (highly recommended for people of faith), and then use the code inside the book to take the test.

Once you know what your Top 5 Themes (your strengths), you can begin researching what they mean and how they impact your behavior and performance. Here are a couple resources for additional information about your strengths:

Here’s a short video series that goes through each of the 34 themes:

PHOTO CREDITS:
African American Family by @leighann-renee on @unsplash
Reading in France @mvp on @unsplash

Friends Talking @helena-lopes on @unsplash
Cotton Candy photo by @valerie-elash on @unsplash

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”