Monday, March 4

Love No Matter What (book review)

Let me start with a disclaimer: I do not have children of my own. I picked up this book because I know a lot of parents who have struggled with and been deeply hurt by the choices their children have made. I've seen the guilt, the anger and widely varied responses on the part of church families.

Basics about the book: this is a fast read. Simple, to the point, and full of personal stories and examples. The author writes about the struggle she and her husband had with their strong-willed eldest daughter, with little blurbs from the daughter's perspective inserted here and there. Topics discussed include the theology applicable in situations like theirs, parenting styles, love languages, boundaries, and the role(s) of people both within and outside the family.

My opinion:  A lot of the advice was completely sound: pick your battles, manage your feelings (rather than letting them make things worse), have boundaries, make sure you're speaking the child's love language, don't live under the burden of guilt, understand when it's okay to share and when to keep your mouth shut, and let your child deal with the consequences of their actions.

The author was also very honest about the fact that no person and no church is perfect. It may not be what we'd like, but we do the best we can with what we have. I give her a great deal of credit for being able to tell people to remember that it's not about them, and they need to check their perspective. So all of that was good, and if this is something you struggle with, you might find some encouragement and affirmation here.

That said, I feel this book should come with a warning. It is written from the perspective of showing unrequited grace from a position of calm and strength. That may be a goal, but if you're not in a strong place I think this could be a painful read. Strong willed children, especially those in the grips of bad decisions, can inflict tremendous amounts of emotional pain, and I think it's crucial for parents to hear that it's okay to need some love and grace themselves. I also think that as much as want to lavish grace, boundaries are healthy - and my boundaries wouldn't have been nearly so lenient as the ones the author used.

Menu Idea Monday: Better Than Coffeeshop Chai

Chai tea from Teavana
I first encountered chai tea while working at a coffee shop in college. It came in a packet, like hot chocolate. You just ripped it open, stirred in the hot water and were good to go. It was good, and a nice change from coffee once in a while.

I stopped drinking it when I started cleaning up my diet. There were just too many chemicals and fake sugars in the packets to stomach. I tried copy cat recipes a few times, but they always turned out poorly and I generally gave up on the idea.

Until I encountered Samurai Chai at Teavana. We like to hit Teavana between Christmas and New Years - it's the only time of year they ever have their tea on sale, so it's the best time to score great deals on their excellent blends. A teaspoon of this tea blend, brewed hot and left to sit for five minutes, with a dab of honey and a splash of whole, raw milk swirled in is heavenly. Especially on cold, wet days when a pick-me-up is most welcome.

Far better than any chai I've ever had out somewhere, and completely clean, it's a wonderful treat. At a teaspoon a cup, a little goes a long way. (Steep a little longer the second time around, and you can get a nice second cup out of that same teaspoon, making it go even farther!)

So if you're looking for an alternative to coffee, or just some small indulgence to ease the long days of March, consider this. You may never drink coffeeshop chai again!