Saturday, November 19, 2016


Hi again! Thanks so much for participating in my giveaway and sharing my blog with all your Facebook friends. You've made this giveaway my most successful giveaway yet!

Also, I have some more great news... In a couple weeks, I will be giving away a Study Guide and DVD for The Broken Way to another lucky winner. I'm so blessed by BlogAbout for connecting me with so many great sources and wonderful books and allowing me to be generous with them, giving away all sorts of goodness. If anyone is interested in doing a Facebook group with me while I go through the Study Guide, let me know!

Okay, so you are probably itching to see if you are the lucky winner...

Congratulations to... Heather Beissinger!

You will thoroughly enjoy this book. While it can be hard to swallow, and downright impossible to give yourself away over and over again in the face of pain and struggle, you will be reminded of God's truth and His promises toward you.

As I spend more time thinking about what it means to share my brokenness, I am reminded of the first place I should be doing this: my home. My kids see a lot of the ways I am broken, but I don't always allow them to see how my sinful nature breaks me and often causes me to despair. They see the results, and witness the fallout, and I do my best to repent to them when I've sinned against one of them, but I often internalize a lot of the struggle in-between.

This week I was purposeful with texting a friend or two about my struggle, and it was really helpful just to get it out into a safe place. Then I had some frank conversations with my boys about my desire to live better and how discouraging it can be to keep on sinning and keep desiring things I should not desire. Success, prestige, accomplishment, and control all call my name incessantly, and it often feels easier to cave, to pursue those tangible goals and not consider why I am chasing them. But talking about it with my kids, admitting my struggles out loud has really helped me see my own skewed perspective.

It's almost comical how that works. Being honest about myself and my desires to other people helps my mind trust the path I knew was best but was fighting against. Why don't I do it more often? Why do I wait until I've wrestled for two weeks before talking about it? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm becoming more brave about it and I'm witnessing some of the benefits already. I'm less nervous to admit my downfalls to my kids and husband, less scared they will think I'm too sinful to love, less afraid that these sinful parts of me are beyond repair.

God is so gentle toward us. If nothing else, I'm seeing His sweet kindness toward me in deeper ways much more frequently than when I try to wrap my mind around my struggles all on my own.

How about you? What broken parts are you hiding, working through, or trying not to admit? What will you do about it?

I hope these insights are encouragement for you. And if you ever want a listing ear (or a reading eye), hit me up. I'm here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Best Way, The Broken Way.

Thanks again to The Blythe Daniel Agency and BlogAbout for providing a copy of this incredible book for me and for one lucky winner. This post includes my two cents on Ann’s newest book, as well as a couple affiliate links. Enjoy!

Earlier this summer, when I first saw that Ann Voskamp had a new book coming out, I added it to my wish-list right away. There was a bit of build-up in my heart about reading this book, and I was not disappointed. The Broken Way is a book you need to read now. Ann has a way of explaining truth from the gospel and truth about life in a poetic and moving way, without any hint of condemnation or comparison. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I read the first few pages, but I was quickly pulled in and left reeling after just one chapter. I wanted to keep reading long into the night, but I also felt the need to stop every few pages and think hard about what she was saying. 

Ann has certainly had more broken in her life than most people I know, but she never holds that pain up as a badge of honor, or puts herself on a pedestal for having endured. She talks about tragedy in her childhood, the uncertainties she faced growing up, the painful roads she took in an attempt to cope with the pain life kept giving her, and she gives us glimpses of how those affected her life then and what it is doing now. Overall, she depicts a beautiful picture of restoration, but teaches us that it is never found in the ways we expect or even hope. 

I’ve been struggling with my own selfishness lately, and while Ann never addresses this directly, she shows me through her own example that living for my own desires is not the way of Christ, nor is it actually the way to find happiness, fulfillment, fellowship with others, or even my own identity. Being broken for others means giving in a thousand different ways: giving your patience when all you want to do is freak out, allowing yourself to be kind when everything in your heart feels mean, not holding back the love you feel in case something goes wrong. 

In her book Ann uses a bunch of ideas to explain the abundance that can be found in brokenness. These ideas are based a Greek word she finds in the Bible - koinonia, meaning, communion. She gives us a perspective of what communion really is through the recent circumstances of her life. The way this word kept coming up over and over again, almost always mingled with brokenness, is truly a beautiful story despite the tragedy mixed in. She points out that we forget what to expect from life, and we are often wrong in assuming an abundant life is a "happy" life, full of pleasant circumstances. Happiness doesn’t come from ease and comfort, but from sharing, from being broken open and spilling out into the lives of those around us. Oddly, pain is the route this takes most often. Life is full of pain no matter what, and sharing our pain, giving others the chance to bear our pain, is actually a gift. When we keep the pain inside and refuse to allow others to see it, we die a slow, painful death of loneliness, heartache, and confusion.

What will stick with me most from her book is seeing that perfection does not grow us into better wives, better friends, or better people. Brokenness is where we grow, where we meet with God, where our friends become life-long safety nets. You cannot avoid being broken, and it really will bring about fruit in your life. The amount you are willing to be broken will determine the amount of growth you see in your brokenness. Being perfect, always speaking from a place of knowing fully, always having an answer for every question… these things seem good, but they are not life-giving. 

This is a lesson I need. Purposeful or not, I like to wait out my hardship until I share all about it. My friends are not fooled when I am in a dark place, my husband knows I am having a hard time, and it is easy for me to just disappear from pretty much everyone else until I can straighten it all out in my head. How do I walk that line, that little beam of being broken but not in despair, of having a hard time but not allowing it to suck me dry, and be able to share that with others from a place that isn’t filled with complaint or selfishness? Ann’s book has helped me to gain a better perspective in my broken places and I am trying to put koinonia into practice. I know reading this book and attempting real, broken, honest communion and fellowship will bless you as well, even if it is painful and difficult. 

So, do you want to open this book up? Do you want to flip these pages, get a glimpse of Ann’s heart and see God working in all of her pain? And seriously, how blessed are we that she was willing to bare it all for our benefit? 

I’m using a new little plug-in to make entering this contest super easy for you! So start entering, and I will post a winner on Saturday morning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned this week for a little glimpse into how I am putting Ann's insights into practice in my life, I hope they will be a blessing to you and not just a giant complaining session, or a silly story about being ungrateful for the challenges of my (undeserved) privileged life. 

I feel like I should also say thank you to all you faithful (or first-time) readers. It's not easy to bare my heart here, to put my thoughts into my computer, beam them up to the blog, and not let their popularity determine my value. I appreciate that so many of you encourage me to keep doing it, no matter the outcome. I pray this blog is a blessing to you and I am grateful for your many kindnesses! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

When You Would.

Would has been the most difficult of these three words to wrap my mind around. While should and could definitely haunt me from time to time, would is often my fallback, the word easiest to use when I am feeling a little guilty over things in life I haven't done, events I have not participated in, or ambitions I left lying in the past.

When I first started playing around with the idea of blogging about these three words, my husband and I also started brainstorming a bit about a book. We even came up with a byline! Should, Could and Would: Learning to Live Free from Obligation, Regret, and Excuses. Sounds awesome, right? I want to live that way... until something hard comes up, and I'd rather find a really good reason to not participate, to spend my energy on myself, or do something else that seems more beneficial.

Diving right in here, take a minute to think about the full sentences you use with would.

I would have come to your event...

I would have brought them a meal...

I would have pursued that career...

In my life, would usually precedes the word but, and it's often used with an excuse. Don't get me wrong, sometimes your excuse might actually be a legitimate reason, but if you are using would regularly, there are probably some unresolved issues lingering in your heart and mind.

What I am seeing more clearly about would is helping me feel more grounded in my decisions. I have to come full circle again when I am wrestling with would and ask myself several questions to reach the heart of the issue. Did I really want to? Was I actually able to? Can I do something about it now?

For instance, your friend has a family crisis and someone sets up a meal-schedule to help them out. It's a crazy week for you and you end up missing out on being a meal-bearer that week. Before anyone questions your lack of participation, you are making excuses and giving reasons in your mind, and while it's all very understandable and legitimate, you are still struggling with guilt.  Here is one way I've found to get my heart and mind to a better place.

Did I really want to bring them a meal? Yes.

Was I able to bring them a meal? No. (insert the fact that many women might struggle with feeling guilty over it at this point)

Can I do something about it now? Yes!

If you are feeling torn up about what you were unable to do, take action now! It's never too late to call, email, or text and tell your friend you were unable to help a week or so ago, but are ready to help now. In fact, many people facing sudden crisis actually feel a bit lost and forgotten weeks after an incident, so a two-week-late response might be the timeliest act of love.

Let's use another example. If you are feeling would poking and prodding you about a missed opportunity, these questions can help you analyze if that opportunity is really gone forever or is as important as you think. For instance, I go through seasons of struggling with regret over not cultivating the artistic side of my life, specifically, learning how to paint. I took classes throughout my schooling years, but never did much beyond that. I long to do it, but somehow I just never seem to make it happen. So, I ask...

Do I really want to pursue being a painter? Maybe. I think so, someday?

Was I able to pursue it at one point? Yes.

Can I do something about it now? Yes!

I may not have the same opportunity as before, but answering these questions helps me see how much of a priority this really is, similar to the way we handled should.

What has really bothers me about dealing with would is the fact that I have to face the realities of my own laziness. Many of the things I feel frustrated about when I'm using the word would are things I kind of want, but not enough to do the hard work required. It's difficult to be that honest with myself, and I'm not exactly sure how to deal with these realities. Some pursuits are shallow, born out of a fleeting desire to find fame or fortune (more or less) and it's easy to see why they die on the side of the road. But other pursuits that are more worthwhile, endeavors I find good reasons to work toward, still find themselves being passed by because I am too lazy, too busy, or too tired to move forward with them.

Would is where I find myself at genuine crossroads. It's time to decide, to move forward, and to take action toward the goals I want to pursue. To be done with would is to make a choice and follow through. Would is where I feel paralyzed, afraid, and wondering if what I am doing is making any sense to the One who designed me. The only way I can move past these anxieties and unknown troubles is to trust in God's plan completely.

In order to take take action on the things we sit and think about, we have to know what we are doing is good and right. We have to trust that God uses even our mistakes and problems to eventually bring glory to Himself and allow us to know Him more deeply. Instead of simply thinking about what we would do, we need to consider what God desires. We can ask ourselves if pursuing specific endeavors are a pursuit of God or a pursuit of self. We can stop looking at what we would have done and instead look toward what we are able to do, seeking His will instead of our own. Then we have to get going. There's no getting around that - trust me, I'm an expert at planning, planning, planning, then avoiding, forgetting, and missing out, and it is not the better option.

As I make more and more effort to stop living with should, could, and would pestering me, I am finding more parts of myself I don't exactly like, or habits that are kind of shameful. But if I can turn all these shoulds, coulds, and woulds into reasons to look for God's will in my life, I receive His peace, His forgiveness, and His power to live free from obligation, guilt, and regret. I'm no longer looking to justify my actions, but seeing His glorious plans unfold in my life and the lives of those around me. The less amazing parts of me are shadowed by God's goodness showing up in unexpected places and I can see the progress He's made in perfecting me slowly.

This is what it means to get rid of should, could, and would. We take our eyes off ourselves, our plans, our abilities, and seek out the Creator.

What do I want? To know God and make Him known.

Can I do that? Only by His power.

Will I do that? Only by His faithful grace.

He promises we have all we need to walk uprightly, according to His will. Take Him up on that offer, dare Him to change and move you. I won't lie, it will be painful to rid of your fleshly desires and trade them for God's plans, but when you find yourself facing the day you were made for, the day you enter eternity, it will definitely have been worthwhile.

I hope these posts have been a good mix of practical and philosophical. It's important to think about the way we act, make decisions, and think, but it's also important to get to the actual doing. If you have any encouragement, questions, feedback, or other insights, I'd love to hear them! Feel free to comment here or email me directly. Maybe someday, I can sort this out enough for a book, but for now I pray that these posts are a small blessing to encourage you in your daily striving. Thanks for sticking with me and being patient :)