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Over decades of ministry I’ve noticed quite a few trends that have been true in every station the Lord has led us. From the 19-year-old college student to the seasoned 91-year-old, the area of prayer is one where many people want to pray but don’t know how. Most either remain silent or default to a string of words they’ve heard someone else utter—and I totally GET THIS! I used to be terrified when it came to prayer. I didn’t want to pray out loud, and my private prayers were short and aimless.

There is a great void for most Christians when it comes to praying specific, Biblical, and powerful prayers. I’m so grateful for my friend (and fellow Auburn fan!) Teri Lynne and this GIFT she has given us in the area of prayer. Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most is her earnest and engaging invitation for moms to join her — not as perfect pray-ers but as humble daughters of the perfect Father, interceding on behalf of the girls they love.

WITH TERI LYNNE AS A GUIDE, PRAYING FOR GIRLS EQUIPS MOMS

  • to identify and understand five key areas of their daughters’ lives
  • to apply biblical truth to challenges and obstacles their daughters will encounter
  • to pray with boldness and confidence using Scripture as the solid foundation for their prayers
  • to engage their daughters in understanding and applying biblical truth to their own lives

Containing 200 Bible-based prayers as well as suggested activities and conversation starters, Praying for Girls is a must-have tool in every mom’s arsenal. Though this book is for “girl-moms” there is much that can be applied to our own hearts. I’m excited to share an excerpt from this new, incredible resource.


Every morning I move, bleary-eyed and stumbling, from my bedroom to the kitchen where Scott already has the coffee brewed. In our home there are no less than six ways to make coffee. Hands down, the best coffee is from a percolator. Remember those? You put the water in and it bubbles up through the coffee grounds.  Since it takes longer to percolate coffee than it does to brew it in the coffee pot, we don’t use ours all the time. But when we do, it’s definitely worth the extra time.

As a little girl, I faithfully memorized Bible verses for Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. Honestly, I know very few of those verses today. The process was sort of like using my Keurig—quick and effective. I love my Keurig. I am thankful to be able to make a cup of coffee in just a couple of minutes because some days that is all I have.

But renewed minds are like percolated coffee. It’s a slower process than simply memorizing Scripture. The Word, like the water in the percolator, moves through our minds, touching each thought, desire, and dream.

When we allow the Word to percolate inside our mind, it saturates every part of us.

Over the years, I’ve found there are few simple ways I can keep myself on track in this area.

1. Read. It sounds incredibly basic; but, I’ve learned that there are a whole lot of women who don’t regularly read the Bible. Not because they don’t want to or don’t think it’s valuable, but because of time. But because we get busy or distracted and never sit down to do it.  Here is where technology is our friend—we can listen to Scripture on our phones while we do dishes, nurse a baby, or drive to work.

2. Rewind. If I am reading a passage and it doesn’t make sense, I go back a little farther. Reading the verses or even chapters around what I’m studying help give context I need to make sense of what I’m studying.

3. Reflect. I give myself space to reflect on what I’m learning. I don’t go from one Bible study to the next with no time in between. In fact, the deeper I’ve studied, the more time I give myself to reflect on what I’ve learned before I jump into the next study. It is important to give ourselves time to reflect. I often use Saturday mornings for this practice.

4. Repeat. One of my favorite ways to dig deep into a passage or book is simply to read it over and over. Repetition is a great way to let the Word sink deep into our hearts and minds.

5. Restart. Let’s be honest here, sometimes this is where we are. We’ve gotten off track for whatever reason and we don’t need guilt. We just need to pick up our Bibles and restart.

When we are faithful to invest time in learning the Word and to allow our minds to be renewed and shaped by what we read, our children will learn from our example.

Whether my coffee is percolated, brewed, or fixed in my Keurig, it is always good. So, on the days when you have lots of time to let the Word simmer and soak in deep, cherish it. And when you are in a grab and go season, trust the sufficiency of the Word to meet you where you are and accomplish what God intends. And for the days in between (which are really most of our days), savor the Word and allow your mind to be renewed by the truth God offers. And invite your children to grow in those same habits.

Prayers

Lord, in a culture that esteems conformity, may _________________ choose to be transformed into Your image. May she seek the renewal of mind You offer that she will be able to understand and live in Your will for her. (Romans 12:2)

Lord, I pray You will put Your Word deep inside _________________. Write it on her heart, embed it in her mind. I pray she will know the beauty of being Yours, of knowing You are her God. (Hebrews 8:10)

This excerpt is from Teri Lynne Underwood, Praying for Girls, Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017, and used by permission.

 

Want to win a copy of Prayers for Girls?

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Teri Lynne Underwood is a pastor’s wife, ministry speaker, and Bible teacher. As the mother of a teenage daughter and the founder of Prayers for Girls, a popular online community for mothers of daughters, Teri Lynne is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. You can connect with Teri Lynne on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Order your copy of Prayers for Girls here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

I’ve known of Bestselling Author Tricia Goyer for years and in this last year I’ve enjoyed getting to know Tricia personally through a mutual friend’s introduction. Tricia wears a lot of hats, as a wife, homeschool mom of ten, grandma of four, writer (of OVER 60 books), teen mom support group leader, and founder of Hope Pregnancy Center in Kalispell, Montana. She lives a full and fruitful life, but what strikes me most about Tricia is her wisdom that stems from a deep and intimate relationship with God.

Tricia Goyer lives a life that will challenge readers to step up and walk out faith in our homes, communities, and the world, and ultimately experience all the joy promised when we are in His will and doing His work.

—Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including Redeeming Love

I’m excited to share with you an excerpt from her latest book, releasing October 1, 2017. In Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time, Tricia demonstrates the powerful work God accomplishes if we are willing to step out in obedience to Biblical commands and His quiet urgings, no matter our fears or feelings of inadequacy. Through Walk It Out, Tricia shares her journey, from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and telling her story of redemption to answering the call to adopt seven children when she least expected, is filled with the exhilarating, radical, unexpected life that we experience when we walk into God’s plans for us.


I was twenty-two years old when I attended my first writers’ conference. I walked into the auditorium with my notebook and pens, hopes and expectations. No one suspected that I also carried a heavy load of heart-baggage. Not only had I had an abortion and endured a teen pregnancy, but my biological father had abandoned me, as had my baby’s father. My heart was battered, torn, and weighed down. But on the outside I looked happy and excited. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, and so I buried it and did my best to ignore it. Before I could inspire, guide, or entertain anyone with my words, however, God had work to do in my heart.

It’s not surprising that just as I ran from the pain and conflict in my life, I avoided it in my writing. I wanted to write sweet, Christian romances. The only problem was my plots lacked conflict. Without hardship and longing, my characters had little motivation and few internal struggles. (All of which are essential to good, heart-gripping novels.) How could I write deep and impactful things when I refused to unearth and face my own deep pain?

When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand my need for heart healing. Wasn’t it enough that I’d given my life to Jesus? Yes, that was all that mattered in terms of my eternal salvation. But I couldn’t give readers what I didn’t have: faith that God wants to meet us in our deepest pain and do extraordinary things through our healed, albeit ordinary, hearts.

Despite my loving family, I didn’t feel love—neither theirs for me nor mine for them—and acted more out of duty than devotion. When I played peek-a-boo with my baby daughter, I smiled and laughed, but the joy didn’t touch my heart. When my son fell and hurt himself, I ran to him and assisted him, but there was little compassion or concern. When I snuggled by my husband’s side to watch a movie, I knew I should be happy and content, but I felt a numbness I couldn’t shake.

Before I could open myself up to all the good things in my life, I had to open myself up to feeling all the pain, heartache, shame, and loss that came from my abortion and from being abandoned by men who were supposed to love me. It was easier to keep my emotions at arm’s length than to feel the ache of loss.

I minimized the trauma I experienced from my dad by telling myself, At least I wasn’t one of those kids who had to split her time between her mom and dad’s house. And, Maybe my biological dad wasn’t that great of a person, so God removed him from the picture to protect me. As for my old boyfriend, I told myself it was good that he abandoned my son and me because God brought John into our lives to be a husband and father.

But my rationalizations didn’t relieve the pain. And the pain confirmed my childhood belief: I wasn’t worth sticking around for. I felt unlovable and was too afraid of further rejection to share my weightiest sin and deepest regret with our Christian community. Only my parents, ex-boyfriend, and John knew about my abortion. I didn’t even tell my closest friends. When the topic of abortion came up in church or Bible study, I sank deep into my seat, especially when people spoke doggedly against it. My stomach knotted up, and I was certain everyone within twenty feet of me heard the frantic pounding of my heart.

If they knew the truth and understood what I’ve done, they’d hate me. He wouldn’t want to share a pew with me. She would turn and walk away in disgust.

Hiding from the truth protected me from the condemnation of others and from the ugliness of what I’d done, but it also blocked me from the beauty of life. My shame began to heal the day I picked up the phone and signed up to attend a Bible study for women who’d had an abortion. My hands trembled as I drove to the church, yet walking into that room and seeing other women who’d made the same choice I had was a step of freedom. When I saw love and compassion in their eyes, a weight lifted off my shoulders. They saw me, knew what I’d done, and didn’t despise me. After all, they’d faced the same pain.

That first night the leader asked us to share our stories. Telling these women the truth of my wrong choices opened my heart to healing. But deeper healing came when I began to believe God and the truth of His Word—the truth about forgiveness and how God sees me, my hurt, and my sin.

Does Tricia’s story resonate with your heart in any way? What helps you BELIEVE the truth of God’s Word? Share with us in the comments!


Women often pack their lives with family, friends, and faithful service, yet still end up feeling empty and unfulfilled. In Walk It Out, Tricia Goyer demonstrates to women that walking out the mandates of Scripture allows God to spark passion and mission within them.

Whether believers realize it or not, God intended for them to do what the Bible says: adopt the orphan, take the gospel into all the world, and care for the needy. These are mandates that point believers down the path of true living and eternal life.

Sometimes those steps are easy, but many times they require a move outside of what feels safe or secure. When women stop focusing on their own dreams and purposes, and instead focus on God’s dreams and purposes, everything changes.

Pre-order your copy of Walk It Out here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!

Today’s post is an excerpt from my good friend Stacey Thacker’s new book, Is Jesus Worth It: Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Stacey’s had a hard couple of years. From the loss of her father, to a child with a chronic illness, and—most recently—walking through the hospitalization and recovery of her husband’s sudden, unexplained cardiac arrest. 

So, yeah, I think she might have a thing or two to say about experiencing the goodness of God — in spite of our circumstances.

Stacey is a born encourager. For years, I’ve watched God use her Scripture-filled words of wisdom to bring clarity and courage to women, propelling us toward the everyday purposes and dreams God has for us. I typically get to see Stacey once a year. We catch lunch at Panera when I’m in town and I always leave encouraged to keep following Jesus and equipped to follow that call. Reading her books are almost as good as sitting across the table from her at Panera. Please read this post and consider diving into this new book!  I know you will leave encouraged and equipped, too.

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post!


My pastor usually starts reminding us in November that January is coming and he wants us to be ready. You see, every year he asks us to pray and seek God’s heart on a word to frame our upcoming year.

Sometimes I pray and wait for weeks before the Lord brings a word to me. Not this year. I knew straightaway what the Lord was speaking to my heart. But in toddler-like fashion I was busy putting my fingers in my ears, saying, “I can’t hear you, God” and singing, “Blah, blah, blah.” Mature, right? I can be. May I tell you what truly sealed the deal for me? It was Elisabeth Elliot. She was featured on a podcast marking the sixtieth anniversary of her first husband’s martyrdom. Jim Elliot and four other missionaries gave their lives while serving the Auca Indians of Ecuador in 1956. Their faith (and quite frankly, hers) has inspired countless believers all over the world to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. They said, “Jesus is worth it,” and it cost them everything.

Elisabeth Elliot passed away in 2015, so the podcast was a recording of a talk originally given at a conference held by Campus Crusade for Christ to a stadium full of college students in 1983. Yes, that’s right. God used a talk from KC83 (as it was known) to bring the final word on my word for this year. Her topic was on “endurance,” and this quote was what gripped my heart from the beginning. She said, “If it’s God’s will that you want more than anything else in the world, it’s going to mean endurance.”

I knew it. In that moment I knew God was calling my year to be about endurance. I had a feeling it wasn’t a great sign of what was to come. I truly wanted to choose another word. I pleaded with God. He didn’t budge one inch.

By the third week of February I was a mess. It started with me dropping a dozen eggs on the cold tile floor of my kitchen. The rest of the week pretty much followed suit. And I must admit I felt just as broken as those eggs. I had planned on this being a tough week. My daughter was scheduled for a brutal test on Thursday that required an entire day of preparation. She fasted. So did I. By evening we were both tired, hungry, and cranky. She was facing another phase of prep that required her to drink something she was dead set against, and it wasn’t going well. My husband came home and sent the other girls and me to Chick-Fil-A, telling me to eat something. My fasting wasn’t doing any of us any good.

I wrestled too. Here we were being reminded once again through this new series of tests that we might never be able to fix it. How do you look your girl in the eyes and tell her all the treatment, all the pills, all the food she has had to pass on, and all the tests have not proven helpful? She was only nine years old at the time. It breaks you. It broke me. And honestly, I just sat down and wept.

There I sat, trying to make peace with it all. I did my best not to lose heart. And I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew he was present with us. I knew he would hold us no matter what I was feeling. I knew this, because the last time I was here his faithfulness was not void. And the time before that time it was also true. But all those things being true didn’t make it any easier. Do you sense a theme with endurance? Easy is not part of its vocabulary.

Over the next couple of months our family went through some of the most intense times of our lives. The longer it wore on, the more endurance I felt I needed. Like a runner in a marathon, I was longing to see the finish line that didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. What God offered me instead, in his perfect timing, was a bit of refreshment. Only it wasn’t a cup of Gatorade or a well-timed PowerBar. It was hope from his Word found on the pages of Hebrews chapter 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-3)

See, the Hebrew readers were weary in every way. They were losing heart fast. Some translations of this verse say they were “fainthearted,” which means “cowardly, depressed, and yielding to fear.” Does it sound a little bit like you? I guarantee you, when I read that description my heart tugged a bit. Being fainthearted is not a small thing. It can sideline the best of runners. The writer of Hebrews knew it was time to call them upward and onward. It wasn’t time to quit; it was time to run. But running wasn’t necessarily going to be easy or comfortable.

I think what the writer of Hebrews was saying, and what Elisabeth Elliot was getting at as well, is that if you are going to follow Jesus you need to decide ahead of time to keep going when it gets rough. Quitting is not on the table. Enduring faith is marked by a wholehearted endeavor to run hard after Jesus. No matter what.

When have you experienced the presence of God holding you as you endure? What situation are you currently experiencing that you must chose to keep running? Share with us in the comments and enter to win a copy of Is Jesus Worth It? Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting. Winner has been chosen and notified!


Purchase your copy of Is Jesus Worth it? here on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

Stacey Thacker is a wife and the mother of four girls. She is a Bible teacher with a passion to connect with women and encourage them in their walks with God. Her books include Hope for the Weary MomFresh Out of Amazing, and Is Jesus Worth It?). You can find her blogging at staceythacker.com and hanging out on Instagram and Twitter @staceythacker usually with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Affiliate links present – at no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

I’m 35 today. To celebrate, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite things. (Cue the Sound of Music soundtrack!)

Stitch Fix Review Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

Stitch-wha, you ask?

Stitch Fix Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! is an online service which is like your own personal stylist. When you sign up you fill out a detailed style profile to let them know your sizes, preferences, colors or patterns you want to avoid, and styles you might like to branch out into.

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Your stylists chooses 5 items for you and ships them in your “fix”.

stitch fix reviews

Once you receive your fix you have 3 business days to decide what you want to keep. (I’ve received 3 fixes over the past 5 months and have only returned 2 items which I didn’t like!) If you keep all 5 items, you get 25% off of your order.

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10 Reasons why I love Stitch Fix Review Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

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  • It’s easy. The older I get the less I like to shop for clothes. Going to the mall is a hassle, ESPECIALLY with the kids. (And if I have an afternoon alone without the kids, the mall is not my first choice of places I’d like to be!)
  • It’s convenient. The “fix” comes to me. I keep what I want, and anything that didn’t work out (which hasn’t been much for me!) I put in a pre-paid mailer and stick it in my mailbox. Easy-peasy.
  • I can dress with confidence. I’ve attempted to “branch out” through purchasing a few trendy items on my own, but I just don’t feel as if I can really pull them off. There is great confidence in know that someone thinks this 35 year old can pull off whatever they send my way.

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  • Great way to infuse color and patterns. I have a tendency to purchase plain, solid color items, under the notion that “this will go with anything!” From my fun kelly green bird dress, to my comfy coral-colored blazer, on over to my cerulean blue button down, Stitch Fix has gotten me out of my black and white-rut.

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  • It’s simple. I love that I don’t have to try to figure out what’s in style. My stylist (her name is Alexandra, by the way!) does that for me, keeping in mind the preferences I gave in my style profile. And I must say she has done a fabulous job.
  • It is a HUGE timesaver. I can schedule a fix in a matter of moments. If I have a special event coming up, I can just schedule a fix the week before, instead of trekking to the mall (which for me is 45 minutes away) to scour the clearance racks for hours.

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  • They carry quality items. Again, maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m over the majority of my wardrobe being from Target and Old Navy. I’ve found that the clothes just don’t last — sometimes not even through one season. Boo! And I often find that the items I get from Marshals, Ross, etc. that the seams are not quite straight, or there are other small “variations” that I don’t notice at first, but over time become an issue.
  • I can try on the items with my own clothes. This is one of my favorite things about Stitch Fix Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! . I have the five items in my room, to try on with all of my own clothes. I can see how many outfits I can get out of them … and no standing in the return line!

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  • They send cards with each item to give you ideas on how to wear and accessorize each item. Another helpful tool to get me out of my style-box.

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  • Don’t have to worry about kids looking under the stalls at other women or announcing to the world what color underwear I’m wearing. Enough said.

So, in case you were scouring the internet for the perfect birthday present for me (just kidding … kinda) now you know!

If you want to try Stitch Fix out for yourself, you can sign up here Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! . And if you find that you too love Stitch Fix, you can tell your friends about it and get a referral credit when they receive their first fix! (Yes, that means that if YOU sign up then I get a referral credit to fund my love for Stitch Fix!)

Happy birthday to me!

It’s always here,

It’s always deep.

It never ends.

God’s love is special.

-Max Lucado, The Boy and the Ocean

The Boy and the Ocean, by Max Lucado is beautiful. From the same Illustrator as The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, the pictures are vivid, life-like, with attention-grabbing detail. From the eyes of a little boy, Lucado paints a picture of God’s awe-inspiring love through the imagery of the ocean, the mountains, and the night sky.

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I love books that keep my kids interest with pictures. (Especially my boys!) It is a feat to get them all to sit still together for a book reading; The Boy and the Ocean grabs their attention and allows them to take in the truths about the vastness of God love.

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The Boy and the Ocean is a sweet read, and great introduction for children to learn the truths about God’s great love for them.

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I was given a copy of The Boy and the Ocean by Crossway, in exchange for my review. Opinions stated are all mine. Affiliate links are present.

I recently finished The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Matt is one of my favorite preachers to listen to because I appreciate his commitment to the Word of God, and his tenacity in preaching it.

It is staggering to me the amount of people who claim the name of Christ don’t truly understand the Gospel. It is often seen as the good news of our conversion—which it is—but many do not understand the fullness of that good news, and how the same gospel carries us through every day of our Christian life.

Chandler hits on so many points on which I wanted to stand up and shout in agreement. I loved this book for more reasons than I have time for in this post, but I especially enjoyed reading this book because my heart resonates with the truths explained within it.

The Explicit Gospel {Book Review}

Here are a few reminders I enjoyed from The Explicit Gospel. (Please note, that this is not an outline of the book, but me summarizing a few of my highlights through the book.)

The gospel is not all about me!

The context of the gospel message is not our benefit or our salvation; the context of the gospel is the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

God was not lonely when He created mankind. He didn’t need us to be complete or to have purpose. Yes, God loves us. Yes, He has purpose in our existence. But it is not all about you and me. The gospel is all about God.

What He has done. What He is doing. What He is going to do.

When God looks at me, He is well pleased because of the gospel.

The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

I don’t have to play the game of the Christian do’s and don’ts. I don’t have to go on mission trips and serve in the nursery. I don’t have to be the perfect mom.

I don’t have to hide when I screw up.

This is HUGE, friends. Christ has already done everything that needs to be done. I have been given the righteousness of Christ! My relationship with God has already been made right.

There is no work I can do to make Him love me more.

There is no sin I can commit that will make Him love me less.

The gospel leads to grace-driven effort, not behavior modification.

Grace-driven effort wants to get to the bottom of behavior, not just manage behavior. If you’re simply managing behavior but not removing the roots of that behavior, then the weeds simply sprout up in another place.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

What ends up happening to so many of us is that we spend so much time trying to put sin to death that we don’t spend enough time striving to know God deeply, trying to gaze upon the wonder of Jesus Christ and have that transform our affections to the point where our love and hope are steadfastly on Christ. The goal is this: that Christ would become more beautiful and desirable than the allure of sin.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

Yes. Just yes.

Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him.  —Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

Many of these quotes come from the last chapter of The Explicit Gospel. It is a chapter I wish all Christians would read. I want to photo copy it and have it handy in my purse to hand out to people.

Seriously.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. Regardless of where you are in your faith. Get it. Read it. Highlight it. Then pass it along for someone else to read.

I received a free copy of The Explicit Gospel from Crossway in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. I loved the book so much that I bought it for my Kindle app…the next-best thing to making copies for my purse.

You can check out more of my book reviews here.

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Embrace.

Hold close, with affection.

Eager acceptance.

There are many things I can embrace, easily. But, to embrace who God has made me—the strengths and the weaknesses—is no small feat.

It seems innate to dislike so many things about who I am.

The bulldozer personality.

That loud voice.

A tendency to be all or nothing and thus give up if surroundings cannot be controlled.

Why is it so hard to believe I am amazing?

I can look at other women and see much greatness about each of them.

She has a gentle, content spirit—one that calms others by just being around her. (Why can’t I just settle down?) When I am around her I feel like I am the only one in the room. (I wish I could be less distracted.)  I love her witty and endearing personality. (I’ve always wanted to be the one who lights up the room.) She has a way with words that is incredible. (I stumble so slowly through this writing thing.)

But, to see me? My strengths? My amazing-ness? (My ability to make up new words.)

That is a struggle.

I’ve never met a woman who found it easy to believe she’s amazing. I’m not talking about the puffed-up pride…I mean “I truly know who I am in Christ, embrace that fully, and live in it completely all the time.” I used to think I had to find a silver bullet that would kill my insecurity and replace it with confidence. I now believe that because we’re all Eve’s daughters, this insecurity is something we’ll face throughout our lives. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing

From her experience as a licensed counselor, life coach, and a fellow struggling daughter of Eve, Holley Gerth has poured her heart out for us in her book You’re Already Amazing. Holley has a way with words that made me feel as if she was right there with me as I read; she cheered me along and whispered truth to my uncertainty.

Here are a few things I came away with from my time with Holley:

  • Know the Truth. You’re Already Amazing points to Biblical truth about who we are in Christ and, more specifically, how He has also made each of us unique and integral to God’s plan—just the way we are.
  • Live in your strengths. Holley has filled this book with tools to help each of us figure out how God has built us.  From looking at the way we handle our emotions and how we connect with others, to developing a plan for our life that keeps our personality, strengths, and giftedness in mind; Holley encourages us to find and remain in a place that is using our strengths—and also to find a way to recharge for when we cannot.
  • Have a plan for where I want to go, in light of who God has made me.
  • Walk forward in confidence. Quit hoping and striving to be someone I was never intended to be. Pay attention to who I am, right now, and focus on being my best, not someone else’s best.
So if you’ve felt afraid to put yourself out there because you feel less than perfect, because you’re afraid what others might say, then reach out your hands and open your heart, sweet sister. You are already perfectly loved, and you only have to please the One who has already declared you are a delight to his heart. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing

You know, this bulldozer of a woman can plow through a challenge with energy, determination, and courage.

When in check, the “all in” mentality is a great strength of dedication and loyalty.

And that loud voice? My husband’s first memory of meeting me involves me standing on a chair and shouting. (I promise, there is a story behind that one!)

No one can take your place. God doesn’t have a “plan B” for you. You have gifts to offer the world, ways of connecting that only you can fulfill. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing
This isn’t about self-improvement. It’s about aligning our lives with love in the way God created us to do. To do that, we need a lot of grace and an approach that makes sense based on who God made us. Every runner has a rhythm that works best for her. You’re the same way. When we set out to make changes, we need to be sure we’re moving to be more of who God made us—not more life someone else. – Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing
I hope you’ll check out Holley’s book. It is encouraging, equipping, and enabling for your own journey toward embracing who God has made you to be.
Do you struggle with seeing the truth that you are amazing?

Essentially a commentary on 1 Corinthians 13, Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken is a wonderful portrayal of what it means to love with the love of Christ.

Each chapter in Loving the Way Jesus Loves takes a focused look at the different characteristics of love taught in 1 Corinthians 13. It also views 1 Corinthians 13 through the lens of Christ’s love, and how He exemplified each characteristic of love described in 1 Corinthians.

Love is Not Irritable

I found chapter 3, Love Is Not Irritable, particularly helpful (and convicting!)

When we are irritable, we want to get away from other people—our family members, our neighbors, our classmates, our co-workers—even if it means keeping other people away from Jesus, too. (page 52)

This is how irritability treats other people: by putting what we want ahead of what they need and, if possible, by trying to avoid their needs altogether. The real problem is us, not them. We need to be honest about this, because often we blame the people around us for the way we respond.”He really makes me mad!” we say, as if someone outside of us were directly and totally responsible for our sinful attitude. This is not to say that other people are never annoying. Sometimes they are. But the spiritual issue for me is not how irritating other people are; it is how irritable I am. (page 52-53)

Oh, how I need the love of Jesus to love others more than I do myself!

Christ-Centric Study

Ryken does a wonderful job of pointing us to Jesus with every chapter. I cannot be less irritable, self-seeking, or impatient without the love of Christ. It is His love that is the example I look to, and it is only His love that enables me to love like Jesus.

Jesus never does anything without love. Indeed, his love is everything the Love Chapter says that love should be. It is patient with sinners and kind to strangers. It does not envy or boast but offers itself in humble service. It does not envy or boast but offers itself in humble service. It does not insist on its own way but submits to the Father. It is able to forgive, trust, hope, and persevere…In other words, the love of Jesus is everything that we are not…Jesus is the living perfection of love. (page 178)

I found chapter 10, Love Trusts,very interesting and helpful in understanding how love trusts and how that trust can affect my prayer life. Jesus loved God so much, that He believed all things, even when He hung on the cross, beaten and forsaken.

This is the way that God makes us believers out of us: he gives us his love. The more we experience the Father’s love, the more we will learn to trust him, even in times of extreme need and desperate helplessness. We will learn to pray in faith the way that Jesus did: “Father, into your hands I commit…”

…We pray the same way in our struggle with sin. We may feel defeated by some particular transgression—a repeated sin that the Devil tempts us to think we can never conquer. But the love of God persuades us to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my sanctification. By your love, deliver me from the Evil One and give me your power over this sin!”

…We can pray this way about everything in life:” Father, into your hands I commit my marriage [or my singleness].” “Into your hands I commit my ministry—whatever way you want me to serve you.” “Into your hands I commit the community you have called me to love, with all its problems.” “Father, into your hands I commit my future, with all its hopes and fears.”

There is also a great study guide in the back, making this a great book for a small group discussion.

I really enjoyed this book! Grab your own copy today, you’ll love it!

I received this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Looking for a way to tell your children about the reason behind why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick's Day Activities
St. Patrick's Day activities

The Real Reason for St. Patrick’s Day

Besides being a fun reason to wear green and pinch those who don’t, it is a celebration of a man of God who sacrificed all for the sake of the gospel. Hands down, the best book for telling the true story of St. Patrick’s Day is The Story of St. Patrick: More Than Shamrocks and Leprechauns Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .

This is a great book to read for family worship time together, as it will certainly bring up some good conversations about a heart for the lost, and sacrifice for the sake of others and their salvation.

Highly recommend this book! You can read more about The Story of St. Patrick book in last year’s post.

Fun Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day

We had all sorts of fun with the color GREEN last year! A quick trip to The Dollar Store and we were set with fun accessories! We ate pistachio pudding (yummie!) and green macaroni and cheese (just add green dye to the water when you boil the noodles.)

Green food, St. Patrick's, fun with kids

real reason for St. Patrick's Day

real reason for St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
Any books to share?