Review: The Gift of Friendship edited by Dawn Camp (+ a giveaway!)

My favorite comedy is Friends, I think because for years, I longed for the kind of close-knit friendships depicted in the show. Thanks to an amazing small group experience a decade ago, I found those kinds of friends – friends that have been with me through thick and thin, through job changes and moves, and through miscarriages and birth. They've challenged my faith, carried it when it's been nearly gone, and held hope for me when I thought it, too, had all but disappeared. 

The Gift Of Friendship

It's these friends I thought about most as I read The Gift of Friendship: Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments, a book of essays edited by Dawn Camp. For the most part, the essays in this book are short, making it easy to read a handful at a time during a few moments in the margins of your day. It's an easily relatable book. In fact, the beauty of The Gift of Friendship is the way you'll see yourself – and your friendships - in nearly all of it's essays.

I know I did.

When Becky Keife said, “There is no score-keeping when doing life together” in her essay, When Friendship is More than Favors, I thought about the time just last week when a friend of mine brought lunch to me. I completely forgot to pay her back and texted her afterward saying so. She replied saying, “I didn't even think about that!” Indeed, as Becky says, “There is community-building by bearing each other's burdens, and sometimes that means being willing to let yourself be the one carried.”

As someone who has, for years, struggled with playing (and losing) the comparison game, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Kristen Strong's insight in The One Thing Every Good Friend Does that “It takes security to know that listening to a friend share her victories and blessings doesn't diminish our own choices and abilities.”

As someone whose house is consistently a little more dirty and cluttered than I'd like it to be, I was affirmed in my desire to nevertheless have people in my home when Lisa-Jo Baker reminded me in How to Feel at Home in Your House and Your Skin that “No matter how much you clean or remodel or move or rebuild, hospitality will always be more a matter of the heart than the architecture. Your guests will only feel as comfortable in your house as you feel in your own skin.”

When Myquillyn Smith said in The Power of the Imperfect, “The imperfections in our homes have the ability to help put people at ease. There's something about walking in a house and being greeted by a kind person who lives beautifully within her imperfect home, without apology, that makes me want to be friends with her and tell her all my secrets” I flashed back to my home growing up and how comfortable it – in all its imperfections – made my friends and I feel.

My favorite essay in The Gift of Friendship was Anna Rendell's On the Kind of Friend I Want My Daughter to Have. As a new mom, I suspect Anna is right: “If I want my daughter to know how to be a good friend, I need to be the one to show her.”

Books like The Gift of Friendship will help show us how, inspiring and reminding us what it means to be a good friend.

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Today, I have the privilege of giving away a copy of The Gift of Friendship. To enter to win it, leave a comment telling us about one friendship that's been a gift to you. A winner will be chosen from those who comment on Thursday, April 7. 

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Gift of Friendship in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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