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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Belonging and Becoming" (Mark and Lisa Scandrette)

TITLE: Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture
AUTHOR: Mark and Lisa Scandrette
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016, (240 pages).

Ask anybody what is the most important thing in their lives, and there is a good chance that it would be this: Family. Who doesn't want to have a closely knit loving family? Who would give anything for their families to thrive? Speaking of family is one thing. Achieving it is another. In fact, many people who wanted to have start a family begin well but spluttered along the way. Perhaps, we just need some help and mentoring to get our own families on track toward thriving instead of mere surviving.  For Mark and Lisa Scandrette, their journey started when they stopped to reflect about choices that they could make for the sake of the family. They took the time to intentionally explore new possibilities. They also resolve to take steps to make that into reality. In two words, they bring out the essence of what it means to thrive: Belonging and Becoming. Give children a sense of belonging and empower them toward becoming the best they could ever be. They define the thriving family as follows:

"A thriving family is a place of belonging and becoming, where each person feels safe, cared for and loved, and is supported to develop who they are for the good of the world."

There are reflective questions to help us engage with the issues mentioned. There are guidelines to facilitate family meetings and establish regular intervals for communications. There are also fun activities to set aside space for bonding. The vision of a thriving family is likened to that of a Redwood forest. From here, the Scandrettes give us a blueprint of seven principles behind a thriving family.
  1. Purposeful:  A thriving family lives from a deep sense of purpose and a positive vision of the future that it can articulate and use as a guide for decision making
  2. Rooted. A thriving family enacts household rhythms and policies that are life giving and that support the family’s shared purpose
  3. Receptive. A thriving family cultivates awakening to God’s care and the larger story we are all part of by embracing life-giving spiritual practices and making conscious ethical choices
  4. Connected. A thriving family relates with love and respect and pursues healthy ways to connect, communicate, navigate conflicts and have fun
  5. Responsive. A thriving family embraces each others’ belovedness, holds their brokenness and supports their growth
  6. Resourceful. A thriving family lives abundantly, using resources wisely and practicing gratitude, trust, contentment and generosity
  7. Productive. A thriving family celebrates others’ uniqueness and supports the development of skills and capacities to serve others and pursue the greater good
Each of these principles begin with a personal story or illustration. They craft the story in such a way as to highlight the need for the principle. They provide practical suggestions on how to move closer to the target. From their experience, they warn us of pitfalls. From their knowledge, they eagerly encourage us to try. They observe the realities of modern stress and cultural challenges in this day and age. Gradually, they lead us toward bringing our families together to consider the path of action. Each chapter comes complete with discussion questions, chapter task checklists, and review of key competencies. I like in particular the metaphor of a tree which brings out the essence of what it means to thrive. Trees are receptive toward sunlight, energy, and love. They have a deep sense of purpose. Roots grow when family members observe the seasons and rhythms of life. Security and protection come from one another through respect and love. Like the Redwood trees, a thriving family is responsive to threats and opportunities to grow. They are also resourceful, always looking for ways to improve. Productivity enables them to motivate one another not just for their own good but for the good of others. With the integrated study guide, this book is perfect for parenting groups, Bible study fellowships, young parents fellowship, and anyone planning to start and build a family.

Mark and Lisa Scandrette are cofounders of ReImagine: A Center for Integral Christian Practice. They live in the Mission District of San Francisco and have three young adult children.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Inter-Varsity Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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