Do You Want Growth or Comfort?

If you have spent any time with me this month, you know I have been reading Henry Cloud’s book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality. I think it is my book of the year so far. 

Okay it is only the first month and I have a lot of reading to go. But I am in 7 or 8 other books and this was just brilliant! 

I keep rambling and raving about it. Sorry if you are sick of it. If you want it, I’ll buy you a copy. It’s epic. Okay maybe not all of you. I don’t have that much cash. I work for a non profit! ha ha. 

Nearing the end, chapter 5 is about increase and growth. It struck me how much this is one of my biggest desires in life. A fear I have long held is growing to be apathetic. I have revolved much of my life around fighting that and being a person who makes decisions so that my life is one of passion and purpose, the antipathy of apathy in my book. 

This book has also highlighted areas in my life of avoidance, laziness, certain areas I could be better at taking risks to push myself to grow more. 

Because I learnt once that “beginning with the end in mind” was a wise way to live. I still think that is true. 

My phrase of 2013 so far is “Reality is Your Friend” .. stolen from this book, a reminder to live in reality in lots of different areas of my life so I can grow spiritually, socially, emotionally, as a person, a boss, a co-worker, a friend, a daughter, desires for marriage and the type of man I am looking for, goals musically, health and fitness, and in serving others. If I am not engaged in what is REAL.. and am living in denial or delusion or avoidance of the truth.. little will change in a productive direction. 

Cloud spoke of one of his clients whom he was an advisor to. Someone who never wanted to deal with the negative in life and engage with reality so they could change but only sought “positive” advice, encouragement and what would enable them to stay put. It crippled his entire life. 

“But, what stood out to me was that this guy was narcissistic and had to always be seen in a positive light. So, he did not have the option or the choice of gaining good things from someone who was not going to coddle him and make him feel smart. His need to feel good about himself overshadowed his drive to grow. As a result, he just gravitated toward people who stroked him. I have followed his work for over twenty years and seen him gravitate from one thing to another that always had the same “feel good” and “seem smart and special” quality. He has never really gotten far with any of it, and none of it has developed into much. But, I am sure that he has felt comfortable along the way.

Cloud, Henry (2009-10-13). Integrity: The Courage to Face the Demands of Reali (pp. 227-228). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

Here are the six aspects of character that Henry looks at throughout the book. I bet all of us could take a good hard look at ourselves and see some things that need to grow. Or perhaps we can’t see them and that is why we aren’t oriented to reality. ;0) I challenge you all to grab a copy of the book and have a read and do a life 360. 

1. The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust) 
2. The ability to be oriented toward the truth (which leads to finding and operating in reality) 
3. The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well (which leads to reaching goals, profits, or the mission) 
4. The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative (which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them) 
5. The ability to be oriented toward growth (which leads to increase) 
6. The ability to be transcendent (which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture and oneself

One Life.. What’s It All About?

This week til February 5th at Jesmond Parish Church next to the Jesmond Metro there are taster sessions for Christianity Explored.. 7:30-9:30 pm every night with a free meal from the Chinese church in town. (Come very hungry.. they make so much yummy food).

I will be hosting one of the Christianity Explored groups in my house in a few weeks time. If you are in the northeast it would be great to have you pop in for a taster. Come and explore the person who is Jesus. 7 weeks to look at Mark’s gospel.. one of the life accounts of Jesus from the New Testament ask any questions and have discussions with people from a variety of backgrounds. All welcome.

Jo and Christy vs the Smoke Alarm

Last night I got in from a ball about 1:30/2am to hear…


I paused. About 45 seconds later….


Apparently one of our smoke alarms was on the way out and it had decided to let us know. I started getting ready for bed hoping I could ignore it. Beep. No definitely not. I went out to the hall to find my housemate with a broom poised at it trying to make it stop. She had been woken out of a sound sleep for the beeping.

Thankfully there was a ladder on the same landing as the waning alarm. We pulled it out and I climbed up to try and pull it off, Jo warning me that it was connected to house mains. Dang it. Could not get it down unless I broke it. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t THAT worried about breaking it at this point.

Jo goes to get a kitchen knife, we switch places, her climbing and me holding the ladder. All the while..

Beep. Beep.

Oi! This is so annoying and not what you want to hear in the middle of the night when you are tired.

Jo does some work and at one point I look up, she gets off the ladder and there is a butter knife sticking out the side of the alarm. Beep. Dang it.. It wasn’t working. Jo we can’ leave a butter knife sticking out of the alarm even if it does fix it! lol Heyyyy Rednecks. 🙂

Finally Jo manages to wedge the knife in enough to pry the alarm in half. She hands it down to me and holding the bottom half in my hand triumphantly, I think we’ve won. Nope. Beep. I see a battery in it. Final stage, rip the battery off it’s attachments. Confident that there is no way it can beep any more. It doesn’t have a battery. How could it make noise!? Jo is not so sure. I put it on my second bed and start to get ready for sleep.



“I’m going to throw it in the snow!!!!” I threaten, carrying it down the stairs with me swiftly.

As I open the front door, Jo stops me and convinces me to put the alarm-that-never-dies in a trunk in the living room, wrapped in some items, and with cushions and blankets on the trunk.

That was how we won.

The end.

Christy’s Life Lessons from the Lance Armstrong Failure

Watching the Lance Armstrong fall has been very saddening in the sports world but also a reality check and heart check to those of us honest with ourselves who can say.. “what can I learn from this.” I have 4 things of my own and then an article from Ed Stetzer.

1.) It has moved me to want to live more transparently “in the light.” What secrets do I hold that if they grow they will take me down? Seeds sewn in character that will have a life time of consequences. It always starts small. I want those desires or actions that are wrong to be exposed and brought to light amongst people who can say the hard things to me and love me and help me grow and see the ugly inside.

2.) I am not looking to surround myself with people who will only say the nice things. I want people in my life willing to say the hard things.

3.) I do not want to be an enabler to others. ie. I will not help others hide secret sin that will take them down in the end. This might mean I will confront them because I love them rather than be silent and watch their demise. I want to love people more than I want them to like me.

4.) So the monsters don’t grow.. secrets always get worse.. I want to live a life of repentance as Martin Luther says “for the Christian all of life is repentance.” Repent means to turn around and go the other direction, it indicates life change and not just an apology. This is a desire for the Lord to do in my life more, that I would have a soft heart towards God and a hatred of sin.

Four things to Learn from the Lance Armstrong Debacle


I got stuck in the snow today. 

And may have had to be dug out by two little middle aged to elderly ladies. 😉 

Who ended up giving my very stuck car a push up the hill. 

The moral of the story is: 

No matter how good of a snow driver you are, sometimes you just need to buy a shovel. 

Which I promptly did today. The end. 

How to Drive in the Snow – instructions from an Ohio girl

I’m from Ohio. 

Which looks like THIS in the winter: 

Actually this was December, and the snow was just getting started. It gets worse. January and February are our bad months. #HudsonOhio 

It isn’t THIS bad where I am from. This is an hour north of me- Chardon Ohio. Chardon does consistently get this much snow. We all know what the term “lake affect” means. I hope the guy who posted this photo online doesn’t get all photo rights angry on me. 😉 

I live in Britain. Which is kinda like living in Texas when it comes to snow. Except without the “ye-haws” and cowboys. No one knows what to do. A ridiculously small amount of snow and .. 

the world halts. 

And I chuckle to myself. 

It didn’t used to be this bad. When I first arrived here 9 years ago I was royally disappointed and thought all the films had lied to me. Where were the snowy English countryside photo worthy scenes I had seen in films like The Holiday??! “All a lie!!!” I told disappointed Americans back home. The first few years proved to have consistent S.A.D inducing grey rainy winters, but no snow. The last 4 winters have changed and have given Britain a bit of snow each year. Not Ohio snow mind you. But a bit. The country still copes like the deep south in the US with airports shutting down with 2 inches on the runway and everyone canceling things and locking themselves indoors for days on end with a 4 inch snowfall. After watching the few brave drivers who venture out make a  royal mess out of their already stuck cars, I thought I could give a few suggestions on driving in the snow. 

How to Drive in the Snow – instructions from an Ohio girl

1.) If you can, don’t buy a rear wheel drive car. Front wheel is better. 4WD is awesomest. (mine is front wheel). 

2.) As most of you already own your snowed under car, start with going out and heating your car up a few minutes longer than usual before you drive it. Be kind to your cold car. Clear all the snow off so you can see. Obvious things. 

3.) For those moments you know you are stuck, start in second gear. 

4.)  *****DO NOT realize you are stuck and then continue to press the accelerator harder in the snowy spot you are in. You will make it more stuck. You are over RPMing your wheels and creating an nice smooth snow trench to have your wheels lodged in deeper.***** 

5.) If you can, reverse, just get yourself in a different position. 

6.) The wiggle affect: imagine your car is a wiggly snake. Or a bucking bronco.(ye-haw we are back in Texas) That is how you want to get it out. After reversing your car and turning your wheels, put it back into second gear, slowly, not over-reving at first. Turn the wheel left and right as you let your car writhe a bit to get out of the snowy spot it’s in. If your car is not spinning in one place, if there is any slippage or forward movement, then this is a good time to push the accelerate a bit harder. If you get stuck again, reverse again and repeat this. 

This happened to me today: My sat nav took me to a road that was ridiculously unplowed and full of snow and other stuck cars (BAD sat nav) and it wasn’t even where I was going. By the time I realized my predicament, I couldn’t reverse up the snowy hill because my car is front wheel drive. I ended up having to go further down the snowy hill (not ideal.. this was dumb on my part to end up in this situation due to the previous roads I was on I should have known better. They were getting progressively worse. If you ever think.. “follow sat nav or don’t follow sat nav because she is leading you astray..???” always don’t follow sat nav. Kinda like the bad woman in proverbs.. stay away!)I got to the bottom, turned in the snow, and then used the wriggle forward and reverse and wriggle forward all the way up the hill. Because I had to climb as well, I used a bigger motion of letting my wheels go back and forth to get the added grip to climb. I had to accelerate harder on this because of the climb dimension. I also let second gear propel me forward with it’s own motion which has more umph than 1st, hence the need for it. Only do this bigger wriggle if you are not at risk of hitting another car. 

7.) Simple rule of thumb.. if you are wriggling forward, accelerate a bit harder, if you are not and are definitely spinning your wheels, don’t accelerate, stop and reverse your car and reposition it. 

8.) When you start to lose control: Getting control of your car in snow or ice means you have to go against your natural and trained instincts of being a driver in order to control it when the car begins to lose it on the road. Do not brake. I know right? That’s the first thing you want to do. But don’t. You won’t stop anyways because of the slipping and it will make the back end of your car swing out. Or worse, completely spin the car. Take your foot off the accelerator and let the wheel coast WITH the action of the direction the car is slipping out of control. It is how you will straighten the car out.. allowing give until it straightens itself out with you gently guiding it (not going directly against it) as it’s slipping. 

9.) This means you should be driving for the conditions and anticipating snow and ice on the road ahead so you don’t HAVE to hit a hard brake. If you are going too fast.. the above correct instruction will be much harder to gain control of the vehicle if you are going too fast.

10.) If you must brake. I find short taps help rather than a hard brake. 

And if you don’t follow these instructions.. then I guess I will have the roads all to myself for a few weeks. 🙂