Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fix: Packaging Your Message

This Friday's Fix centers around the packaging with which you deliver your messages.

You may have noticed the new blog template. It's an attempt to jazz up the ol' blah-g.

But just because the presentation--the package, if you will--has changed, doesn't mean the blog itself has changed. Same writer, same types of posts, same pretty much everything else.

But it needed an updated look, if not for readers, then at least for me. It was like I actually looked at the old colors one day and thought, "Yuck-o! Time for a change." And to me, this new look compliments my goals for what's posted here. It's cheerier, no? And a bit wistful?

So enough about that. What does this have to do with you packaging your messages? Simply this: consider the best, most complimentary method to deliver your message.

Case in point. Kids are playing loudly inside and you're trying to get some work done. Goal: get them to continue playing, but outside.

So you say, "Why don't you guys go outside and play?" Right? I mean, you can't convey your message any clearer than that.

But kids aren't stupid. Imbedded in this particular message is, "You're annoying me and I can't work with you in here." And they get that. Do they take it outside? Sure. But they carry a little extra chip with them when they do. Which is NOT the goal.

So then what about this? "Hey, you guys haven't been in the tree house for a few weeks. Why don't you take your game out there and also double-check to see if any critters have moved in?"

The original goal will be met, because, come ON... what kid isn't gonna rush right out, secretly hoping critters DID move in?! But more importantly, the goal was met without injury. It even provides the listeners with a goal of their own. (Adventure!)

If it helps, think of literal packaging, especially if the message you're sharing is important. Would this person like bright, frilly bows or an organic-looking brown bag with pine cones or stalks of wheat sticking out? In other words, and I've said this before, consider your audience.

We Christians talk a lot about meeting people where they are. Our message never changes. But our methods should never be one-size-fits-all. Jesus reponded differently to different people, according to their needs. Paul followed suit. Let's carry that over into our communication choices for maximum impact.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Fix: Life in Defiance

Okay, this week's Friday Fix is geared toward fixing summer boredom. And you just might get the added bonus of more insight and reflection into your own relationship with Jesus. Following is a book review for a new release--the final installment in a powerful trilogy. Read on for a summertime fix!

Book Review: Life in Defiance by Mary E. DeMuth

Secrets. Ouisie Pepper has her share of them: there's the bottle of alcohol tucked away in a vase, the paintings she hides, the baptism that wasn't, the violence in her home, and the still-at-large killer of her son's best friend that she's reluctant to expose. And Ouisie's greatest longing--freedom.

Mary DeMuth has done it again with her final installment of the Defiance, Texas trilogy.

In Daisy Chain, the first in the series, the disappearance of 13-year-old Daisy Chance torments her best friend, Jed, and haunts her mother, Emory. In the second title of the trilogy, A Slow Burn, Emory comes to terms with her daughter's murder and her own regret at not being a better mother.

The third book, Life in Defiance, finds Ouisie, Jed's mother, battling her own mothering issues, as well as trying to become the perfect wife to tame her pastor-husband's rage. With each humiliating act he inflicts on her, Ouisie questions what she's doing wrong and determines to win his love again. Out of desperation she turns to a spiritual "how to" book on becoming the woman God wants her to be.

Then there's the matter of the murderer still on the loose. Daisy's killer is identified once and for all in a juicy twist that brings a surprising revelation, culmination--and strangely--liberation, for Ouisie Pepper.

DeMuth's ability to create powerful images propels the provocative story into a movie lover's dream. I was pulled so strongly into some scenes that even when life forced me to put the book down, I would carry them in my mind, reliving Ouisie's vivid and sordid reality and feeling empathy for her self-berating. Doesn't every mom feel like she falls short? I found myself relating to her constant thirst for something more.

And found myself rejoicing with her when she finds it.

Life in Defiance was released on May 11, 2010, and is available locally at The Open Door or online. If you're looking to beef up your summer reading list, I highly recommend the entire Defiance, Texas Trilogy. You'll mourn loss, root for love and forgiveness, and discover that secrets can be gloriously freeing when unveiled and given to Christ.