Friday, October 28, 2016


Thanks again to BlogAbout and The Blythe Daniel Agency for helping make this giveaway possible!

What a privilege it was to read this book and I'm super excited that one copy will go into another person's hands. Congrats to comment #12, Bridie White!

Go somewhere cozy (note, I love reading by the fire) and spend a teensy bit of time reading from this lovely, truth-filled book. Not only will you be reminded of God's love, but you will also see better how the bible makes it clear the great lengths God goes to show His love for us. 

Thanks to all of you for coming to my little blog and participating in this giveaway. Learn more about Jennifer Rothschild here, and The Blythe Daniel Agency here

Come back over the next few weeks to enter to win a NKJV Journal the Word Bible and Anne Voskamp's newest book The Broken Way. Seriously, so many great books coming! Much love to all of you - have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Feeling the Love from 66 Ways God Loves You.

I have been so blessed to be a part of the BlogAbout Network through the Blythe Daniel Agency. Thanks to them, I was given two copies of this beautiful book - one for me, and another for one lucky reader (it could be you)! And just so you know, this post does contain some affiliate links.

This book was kind of like God saying "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

In my spiritual life, I tend to focus on considering God's eternal plan and reminding myself of the truth about who He is, while spending very little time considering God's love and how He has shown it to me. This book has been such a refreshing journey of looking at each book of the bible, in a super concise format, and being reminded of what He's done throughout all of History and how I can see His loving hand in all of it. 

First off, the book is beautiful! There are delightful floral prints, shimmering foil embellishments, and an intricate design on every page. The book is small and perfect in every way for leaving out on your coffee table. Children and guests alike will reach for it without thought, and if they read even one page, they will be receiving a message of God's love in action. Jennifer Rothschild has done a fabulous job keeping each chapter brief, but I didn't feel like any of them were lacking depth or meaning. This certainly isn't a book you would study in isolation to learn about the bible, but it is a wonderful supplement, a perfect reminder and encouragement for challenging days. 

Here are a few of my favorite parts...

I loved the chapter on Joel. Jennifer says "God may not replace what you have lost, but he will redeem what you have lost." I found this incredibly comforting, especially in a world where we expect our lives to have an outcome more like Job's, receiving back in abundance the physical possessions we may lose in life. She encourages us not to focus on the pain in our circumstance, but the deliverance that will come. Her title for this chapter is "In Joel God Restores the Years the Locusts Have Eaten." Isn't that wonderful to think about? God restores us. He doesn't leave us disciplined and destitute, but uses even our own mistakes to bring us closer to Him. 

I've always loved the song by Matt Maher called Sing Over Your Children. I didn't realize this idea or phrase came from verses in Zephaniah until reading this book. Jennifer tells us that despite being a stern prophet, completely willing to call out Israel on her sin, Zephaniah insists that God delights in us. To think that God so loves me, that he beams with joy and bursts with song about who He has made me to be is almost shocking. It's hard for me to sit still and take it in. I feel humbled, relieved, and completely undeserving. It's already hard for me to sing that Matt Maher song without getting a little choked up, but now when I hear it played, it is even sweeter to my soul. 

I have always had a stronger-than-average yearning for eternity. I remember dreaming about Heaven ing grade school, then pondering it even more in Jr. High after reading a book by Joni Eareckson Tada. I loved looking at the sunset and imagining I could fly right up through those peachy clouds into the presence of God. In difficult seasons, I have to remind myself often that I am made for eternity, and not to expect an easy life one earth, so naturally, I loved what Jennifer says about 1 Thessalonians. The promise of Jesus' return is real. We are made for that day! It is our purpose, our promise from God, and our hope should rest upon it. In this book, I am reminded that God's love for me is a promise in the wings, waiting for the right day for me to be taken to Him and presented as righteous through the blood of Christ. What else could possibly top that? It is truly a comfort to know that I am made specifically for that glorious day.

Again, I am so grateful for the privilege of reading this book. I read about five or more chapters in each sitting, but I now will be going back through, reading just one a day with my family to have more consistent reminders of God's love. It will always reside on my end table, or my coffee table, or my kitchen counter. If you come over, don't forget to take a peek. 

Now for the really fun part - one of you can win this book! And it's so easy. 

Leave a comment on THIS blog post. Your comment can be about anything! 

To win bonus entries, leave an additional comment telling me if you have:

1- Followed me on Instagram


See? So easy :) I will draw a winner on Friday night - try to contain your excitement until then!

I hope this review has sparked a desire in you to know the breadth of God's love for you. It certainly has encouraged me and changed the way I seek to know God more deeply. 

Come back next week for my long awaited, over-thought, incredibly procrastinated post on would. It may not be my best work ever, but it'll be done! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Greatest Delight.

During our church's sermon last week, I took note of what portion of scripture we'd be covering the next week. In some ways, I love Matthew 16:24-28 and I was excited to get to it. But in my heart, I was also a little nervous to dive in.

"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone should come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'"

That last verse is odd, and our pastor addressed some of what Jesus might have meant by it, but I'm not going to talk about that part today (sorry). 

What I really want to talk about is losing our lives. 

It is not a surprise to many of you that I've been struggling a bit since we moved. Nothing serious, but just learning to cope better with the daily grind after having such a chaotic, unpredictable summer that ended with a bit of disappointment. In one sense, our family was not disappointed with how our move ended up, but it would be a lie to say we weren't frustrated to not have found a home to purchase. We really do strive to love whatever life God has for us, but notice the word I used: strive. Our goal is not always achieved, not something we always feel like doing, but we honestly desire to be content with God's plans over our own. 

I have certainly been wrestling with contentment. I have searched for peace in my circumstances, sought out solutions to my problems, and even tried to change how I do things all in order to achieve a greater sense of happiness with the way my life is right now. I often feel like I am failing, or maybe that I am incapable (without medication) of being that content. Then I struggle with feeling extremely guilty over my lack of joy when almost every need I have is met. It often feels like a problem I have no right to complain about. 

During our time of worship this past Sunday morning, a few phrases from a song stuck with me and got the wheels turning in my head. Psalm 62 says things like "for God alone my soul waits in silence" and "pour out your heart upon him" and I instantly knew that this Psalm does not describe my own heart or my own actions. In the song we sing at church (which is a variation of Psalm 62) the chorus says "O praise Him, Hallelujah, my delight and my reward" and again, I was struck by how true this ought to be in my life and yet how false it has been. 

What is my heart set on? What joy am I pursuing? Is it death to self and life in Christ? Is it really to know God and make Him known? 

It has become obvious that I have been trying to pursue a lifestyle of sacrifice but I have been unwilling to let go of my personal desires. I hang on to the idea that I can sacrifice for my kids without actually giving up certain things I want. I strive to merge this self-sacrificing task of homeschooling with still having all my personal needs met, and it just isn't working. 

Jesus said that I cannot pursue self and pursue Him. 


I see what I'm pursuing, and it's really hard to give it up. None of it seems bad, or wrong, but I cannot love the world or the things in the world and still serve God with all of my heart. I have to follow Him with no strings attached, with no personal agenda. Only God can revive in my soul the joy and faith needed to pursue the glory of Christ above my personal gain. No self-help book (no matter how religious) can accomplish this, no amount of meditation nor medication can deny the extent of my selfishness, and no noble endeavor can compensate for putting my goals for self above my love for Jesus' kingdom. 

Our pastor said some very helpful things today about how we can move forward when we see our lives headed in a direction that opposes losing our lives for Jesus. He said number one, repent. Admit your pursuit of self is wrong. Note here, that most of the world will tell you it's fine, healthy, and needed for our sanity. Come back for that can of worms later. Second, he said, we need to trust God to change our hearts. There's no way around that. You have to love God more than self in order to be willing to endure handing your dearest hopes over to Him. You can't grow to love Him on your own but He wants you to love Him. When you ask Him for help and He stirs that love up in your heart, your selfish ambition will seem juvenile, pointless, maybe even silly. He does not disappoint.

This month I have been wresting against my own soul but have been unable to put it all into words. Now that I can see my folly clearly, I am actually relieved. My own ambitions make me miserable. God knows my heart better than I do, and I can trust that giving up my ideas of success will result in greater joy and fulfillment, even if it results in less money or prestige. The world will oppose the thought of giving up what you love in order to serve, sacrifice, or share. Certainly, you can serve Christ and still have good things, but you cannot serve Christ and set your hope on your own fulfillment and desire. 

It is good to consider what your delights and your rewards really are. What do you ultimately want? If you could gain peace today, what would that look like? In my mind recently, delight has been clouded with uncertainty and frustration as I could not name a single thing that would make me feel at peace. But now it has become clear why. My idea of delight revolves around feeling a certain way, which is silly, because feelings are fuzzy, unpredictable, and often totally out of whack. What a comfort it was to be reminded that taking delight off of myself and onto what Christ promises is the only way to life. 

The practical reminder that following Christ is a road of self-denial is actually a great comfort. You are not responsible to find great delight in your life. Any good you can comprehend is from God and found in God. He contains immeasurable amounts of peace, delight, freedom, fulfillment, and more. While here on earth we will be denying our own ambitions and serving those around us, but the delight we find in His presence is more than worth the trade-off. If you believe the gospel, you will find only frustration and regret in a life of selfish pursuits. But by setting your desires aside and trusting in God's beautiful redemptive plans, your soul will be saved. The peace and delight you will find along the way will cause your soul to thank you. 

*I want you to know, dear friend who takes depression medication, that this post is not intended to address your needs. If you need to analyze whether you are following self or Christ, by all means, do so. But this post is not in regards to the medical needs of those struggling with clinical depression. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Favorite Things!

After so many posts about spiritual issues and the like, I thought it was time for a lighter topic :)

As a semi-organized, artistic homeschooler, I have problems with wanting too many cute, colorful, helpful household items. Journals, cards, pens, clips, drawers, baskets - you name it, I'd love to have it. I pick up stuff from pretty much anywhere - Amazon, The Container Store, Papyrus, Target (I mean, who doesn't?), Office Max, Etsy, and Barnes & Noble. So here are some items I have recently purchased and simply adore! Some are organizational items, others are things people in our family enjoy, and of course, some are books that I have fallen in love with. Many of these are affiliate links, so you can help endorse my purchasing habit. Thanks!

First off, I use these cool Sharpie Brush-tip Markers a lot more than I thought I would. Many people use them for special hand-lettering projects, but they can be used for pretty much anything you would use a regular Sharpie for. They are great to use when you ship a package to add a beautiful little message or doodle on the outside. I actually used them a bit on our boxes when we moved too, just to add something cute to all the piles of boxes and junk we hauled around.

Next up, we've gone through a few iPad cases since the boys are using it so much for their Khan Academy many days of each week. After failing to find a case I liked in stores, I found this one on Amazon and totally love it. It's durable, comes in awesome colors, super lightweight, and it's also a great deal!

Speaking of cases, I also bought these iPhone 6 cases off Amazon. Again, great price, durable, and there are several colors for whatever mood you are in that day :) They have lots of other great color options too!

I love to write real letters. I don't do it as often as I'd like, but I bought a bunch of stationary back in the spring with the intention of writing letters each and every week. I probably write once a month, so my purchase is justified, right? Anyway, Amazon is actually a great place to find cute stationary if you don't feel like leaving your house. Here's one pack I bought and love.

When we moved, we lost a lot of space in our kitchen. What was once in the junk drawer doesn't even have a drawer anymore. Things like pens, scissors, rubber bands, and chip clips were all being stored in the laundry room and it was driving me crazy. I went to The Container Store with a plan to buy something that could sit on our counter, that looks lovely, and would store all my helpful junk. I lucked out and found this adorable Bisley drawer locker on sale, in turquoise! It's been perfect. 

I never feel like I have all the books I need. I could probably list 20 books I've added to my wish list this month (while I struggle to get through several others I've been reading for over a month). Here are a few of my recent recommendations: 

Extra Yarn - I posted about this on my Instagram account. Love it!

I've already raved a bit about Madeleine L'engle, but I borrowed her book A Circle of Quiet from the library, then immediately purchased a copy for myself. As a writer, her perspective and "me too" is such an encouragement. 

I recently went to a Noonday Collection party at a friend's house and she had this amazing book! I went home an promptly purchased it, knowing it would benefit our homeschooling tremendously. Well, I'm sure it will serve many educational purposes, but it has definitely satisfied the part of me that loves to learn and loves to look at beautiful things. And this is $15 less than you'd find in most bookstores! It's big, hardcover, lovely, and filled with rich history and information on each location inside. 

I know I've talked to several friends and family members in person about this book, The Accidental Creative. Once I finished it, my husband breezed through it in just two days. It was a big eye-opener for why we both often feel frustrated with work and life. The way creative work is done and the way we are expected to produce creative work are vastly different. Before you dismiss yourself as "uncreative", consider that a creative person is anyone who thinks for a living, and practicing good habits of how to schedule thinking time, production time, and enrichment time make a huge difference in what creative solutions or endeavors come out of you. I recommend it to pretty much anyone! Especially if you create anything or manage projects for a living, you really need to read this book.

I have so many more things I could share, but I'll just tell you about one last thing. I had used regular old plastic pencil boxes for storing all our pencils and crayons the last several years. They were fine, but I saw something on pinterest that gave me another idea. I found these tins at Target for only $1 and bought some... mostly black, but a few other colors too. I use them all around the house for storing pencils, pens, scissors, and crayons... pretty much anything longer than it is wide :) They have been a great solution! Plus, they look much cuter than my dingy pencil boxes. Add a strip of Washi tape around the top rim (another addiction to talk about another day) to make them more original. 

Well, I hope this post has been fun! Now you know what I spend my time doing on my computer... pretty much looking at stuff on Amazon. Ah well. 

I have been trying to think more about would so I can write up a beautiful, well-thought-out blog about not using excuses, but I am terrible at living that way. It has been SO hard to wrap my mind around it. So, this post is kind of a distraction from that, but I hope you've benefited from it anyway. Fingers crossed and prayers said that my brain can function well enough for more schooling next week and that I can make some progress on that last post about would. It might not be all I am hoping it will be, but I trust that God works in all things, big and small, awesome and decent. And really, God working through my blog and my writing is the goal, not some vague idea of what qualifies as "worthwhile". If I applied that concept to the rest of my life, I'd have far fewer emotional breakdowns! Haha! 

Have a fabulous week, and tell me if you love any of the great items in this post. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Obeying With Doubt.

I cry in every Disney animated movie. Literally, every single one I've watched. Often, I even sit there for the saddest five minutes while my kids watch because I am so intrigued by whatever sad event is happening. I got excited one day saying "Oh! I don't cry during Kung Fu Panda! Shoot, never mind, that's Dreamworks." But really, I have this odd attraction to sad stuff, and the waterworks cannot be withheld.

I've learned to curb this emotional part of me when I need to. For instance, so much of the news and my Facebook feed is littered with depressing stories with no redeeming value in sight. Children kidnapped, infants neglected, moms dying of cancer, and the list goes on. I cannot look at too much of this before I find myself in a full-blown funk, unable to think about the practical duties of my day.

My most recent encounter with sad movies (not even Disney this time) happened when my kids were watching Prince of Egypt, the inspired story of Moses. Right at the beginning, the movie shows slavery, abuse, and then Moses' mother leaving him in a basket in the river. I cannot fathom a world where you have to choose between known slaughter and unknown drowning for your tiny baby boy. This was it for her. She'd exhausted the option of hiding him and now she had to make her choice.

I've seen this part of the movie quite a few times, and still the tears arrive. This time however, while my eyes still welled up a little bit, I saw something different. I saw a woman who decided to trust God by doing something crazy. I don't know what the likelihood of survival for a baby in a woven, tar-coated basket was on the Nile in 3000 B.C. or what possessed her to take action initially, but the only way a woman could do something that sensational was if she had no better options. Instead of succumbing to fear, abusive authority, or despair, she turned to a sliver of hope.

She must have had a substantial amount of bravery. She chose to put her child in a river and probably feared the worst. Exodus 2 doesn't say anything about Moses' mother except what she noted about her baby and what she did for him. But really, can you imagine doing such a thing? I can't stop thinking about this story and wondering what Moses' mother was really like. Stay with me, because here's where my mind really gets going.

Maybe she was brave, confident, even demanding about what God would do, should do for her baby. But perhaps she was actually fearful, upset, or despairing. In either scenario, God came through. God saved Moses, gave him a place of privilege, saved his life, brought Moses close to Himself, and used him as a preview for what Jesus would do for us. Moses' mother was a part of God's great plan, regardless of how she handled her situation, regardless of how much faith she had in the outcome of her choice.

This gives me peace and courage. Peace because I can trust that even when I am despairing, freaking out, and totally unsure about how God will come through, it doesn't affect God's faithfulness. I also gain courage from this example. I see how worry does not ensure any particular outcome, and that God fulfills promises to all people, not just the spiritually mature. I might as well be brave, confident, and toss my worries into the wind if the outcome does not rely on my emotional stability.

In the movie, Moses' mother asks for deliverance, for Moses to find a life of freedom somewhere else. She seems sad, but poised, perhaps trusting God to do something better for her baby. But even if she went home completely losing her mind and shocked at her own actions, she still followed through. She still took action, hoping in God's ability, not her own.

Our pastor pointed out a similar example from a sermon by D. A. Carson. In his sermon, Carson gives the example of two different men waiting for God's spirit to pass over the Hebrews who obeyed Moses in Egypt. One man prepared the lamb and spread the blood over the doorway exactly as told, but he was scared, sleepless, and hoping beyond all hope that what Moses promised would come true. The other man did all he was told with unshakeable peace, fully confident in God's willingness and faithfulness to save his family. Which one saw God's promise fulfilled? Both.

Amazing, right? Whether you follow through with God's commands scared stiff or full of peace, He fulfills His promise. Don't fret over whether you are trusting God as fully as you should, or as filled with peace as the next person. I do think God often rewards our trust in Him, but we cannot take credit for His promises based on our actions or our faith. As Jesus tells Peter in Matthew, the Spirit reveals God to us, and our faith is a gift from Him.

If there's one thing I've learned this summer that has really stuck with me, it's that obedience is important. God wants you to obey in faith, but mostly, He wants you to obey. Obeying scared or doubtful is better than not obeying! Your fear is never going to be a good enough reason to not obey the voice of God, no matter how big or small your decision is. He is a fortress, a place you can run to for protection, and wandering out in disobedience is asking for an ambush.

I cannot count the times God has spared me from my own destruction simply because I chose to do the right thing. It's not always easy, and I often do it begrudgingly, but I have never regretted it. I've regretted my own poor choices 1000 times over, but never following God's commands over my own desires. So whether you are debating following His instruction, or just dealing with fear from following with very little faith, simply take action. Scared or confident, God desires your obedience, and your faith will grow from either timid or bold steps. Both are forward motion, both are covered by His loving kindness toward you, and both still count as trust.

Ultimately, obeying God is trusting God, and there's no reward or punishment given for obeying scared versus obeying in boldness. My hope is to obey with complete confidence and tons of courage, but if all I can muster is timid obedience, I will still take it. I truly believe the more I obey when I am still unsure of the outcome, the less unsure I will be the next time I am called to obey. It's a growing process, and we might as well start now instead of waiting on our feelings to cooperate. We can't possibly know what role our obedience in little things plays in the larger events happening in the world, and I would always rather have said yes to obeying, whether I was doubtful or confident, than waiting for the right amount of courage to participate in God's plans.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Let That Be Enough.

It's been a weird few weeks in my head. Moving has taken a greater toll on my disposition than I expected; that and getting thrown into the boys' sports routines, starting up schooling again, and still trying to unpack while staying on top of laundry... the list never ends, and mouths are always hungry, or so it seems.

I've been trying to nail down exactly why I am so out of sorts. I know new adventures can throw a kink in life, and leaving places I love has been difficult too, but over the last several weeks I've felt this internal grasping for something I can't quite put into words. The biggest problem is always that I don't quite trust God with my life the way I know is right and good. I'm only human, but I'm learning and growing in this, and I am sure I always will be. But there seemed to be other things I couldn't wrap my mind around.

While I have not suffered much personal loss in my life so far, I have quite a few friends who are enduring tremendous loss right now or are coming upon it quickly. Miscarriages, loss of children, and cancer seem to be wreaking havoc in too many people's lives. My mind is constantly whirling back to these friends - some are my best friends, and some are more like acquaintances, but all are on my mind every hour. I find myself entertaining all kinds of questions and scenarios on their behalf for quite some time before I remember to pray.

My prayer life is undisciplined to say the least, and while I talk to God frequently, I rarely set aside time specifically for this. When I do talk to Him, my requests are sort of scattered, not entirely specific, or even very inquisitive. As I been more intentional and detailed with what I ask and hope for, I am finding more fulfillment in my soul, along with greater confidence in God's plans.

However, praying for others and feeling a small portion of their pain is only part of what has been troubling me.

On my way back from CrossFit this morning, I heard a song that not only expressed my emotions perfectly, but also offered a way to pray about it.

I wish I had what I needed
To be on my own
'Cause I feel so defeated
And I'm feeling alone

And it all seems so helpless
And I have no plans
I'm a plane in the sunset
With nowhere to land

And all I see 
It could never make me happy
And all my sand castles
Spend their time collapsing

Let me know that you hear me
Let me feel your touch
Let me know that you love me
And let that be enough

These are the lyrics to the song Let That Be Enough by Switchfoot from their 2nd album. I listened to this quite a bit about 12 years ago, and I've always loved this song, but today is truck me differently. 

I realized that I feel torn almost all the time. I want something, but I know it won't fulfill me. I want to be on my own and independent much of the time, but then I often feel sad and lonely. I want to do big things, but I don't have any solid plans. I want to go somewhere else, but I don't know where that is. And it's true, nothing I can think up will make me happy. There's no "problem" there to find and fix. Life is hard, bad things happen, and my emotions leave me questioning the best of situations. 

But God, He is the one I can rely on, and it all seems so easy, and so obvious now. I am longing for the things in this song. I want to know He hears me, that He's close to me, that He loves me. And what I really needs is for all these things to be enough to soothe this raw and tender soul of mine.

I know it's hard to ask for a change of heart, for a spirit of contentment, or for peace in relentlessly stressful situation. It's far easier to ask for a change in circumstance, for the things we think we need to be content, or for more control in bad situations. But the more I do this, the more I search for fixes outside of my heart, the more despair builds inside. The more I commit to changing the outside in an effort to fix my insides, the longer my insides are neglected and the more they shrivel. 

My heart needs God, and my soul needs to find peace and contentment in Him. I need His love to be enough. I need to see that all the solutions to my problems are pointless without Him. And on days when everything feels overwhelming and yet not enough, I can ask Him to make Himself enough for my weary heart. These are the things I am longing for all my hurting friends to know as well. It is my hope and prayer that God's love will be enough for them during their darkest hours.

God, make yourself enough in our hearts. Let all You have for us be the perfect medicine for our broken souls.