Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

No More Perfect Marriages (a review and giveaway)

posted in: Books, marriage | 3

We all need marriage help.  Whether we are single looking to get married (we read books on preparing for marriage).  Or we are married and need help in our marriage (so many books on this topic).  Or whether we’re no longer married (whether by divorce or death), and we can read books that will help us with that.

We are coming up on 6 years of marriage.  They’ve not been easy because we’ve moved a lot and had many external changes and two kids to enter our family in that time.  But, we’ve journeyed it together.

Mark and Jill Savage, who have been married a lot longer than we have, wrote a book together about their marriage – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There are marriage books – and I put them in two categories: practical and theological.  Theological books (think The Meaning of Marriage by Keller or This Momentary Marriage by Piper) are heavily theological.  Yes, they are practical too, but that is not the main point of the book.  Then there are marriage books that are primarily practical.  Where these is Scripture in the book, and the author’s biblical worldview comes through, but it is mostly practical in nature.

No More Perfect Marriages falls into the latter category.  I find it to be very refreshing that the authors share their story, heartbreak and all.  They share how sin affected their relationship and how God redeems hurt and sin and pain.

One of the most helpful parts of this book is the talk about the masks we wear in our relationship with our spouse.  I’ve thought about what mask I wear – and I think it definitely changes given the circumstance.

I think this book can help you and your spouse think through some helpful things that might prevent some heavy pain coming in the future – or may help you be prepared to fight that pain together.

Thanks to SideDoor Comm and Moody Publishers for this book.  All opinions are my own.  They are giving away a copy of this book too – if you would like a chance to win just leave me a comment telling me one of your favorite marriage books!

Handlettering: kcreatives

Photo: Audrey Grace Photo

A book for every woman

posted in: Books, life together, Women | 0

Women’s ministries come and women’s ministries go.  I mean churches always minister to women, some way, good or bad.  But through the years we have seen many fads come and go out of the church.

But, if there is any book, that can be used by all women, young or old, to learn how God wants her to live in relationship with other women in and outside of the church, it is Adorned.

First, its a beautiful book.  And its thick – there are 350 pages.  And even though its long, all of it is so good.  I’ve underlined so much

Second, its written by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth.  She has spent most of her life in ministry with women as a single.  Now, she is still ministering to women as a married woman, who also ministers to her husband.  She is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

She gears her book to women, young and old.  Each chapter can be read through eyes of faith, trying to live to spur each other on, to love and good deeds.

So, if you are in women’s ministry, or leading a women’s ministry at your church, I would get this book and devour it, answering the questions, going through it with your ministry team, encourage your pastor to read it for him to get an idea of what women’s ministry should look like.

This doesn’t tell you exactly how you should plan every event or what events you should have, but it gives you biblical guidelines about the personality or reason behind your women’s ministry.

Every women’s ministry should include: Teaching the word in a way that will grip the lives of your women. Time to build meaningful authentic relationships (not all teaching, but good relationship building time too).  Multi-generational.  And, as a side note to me: some celebrative worship and childcare!  But, it is all about living out the Bible in authentic ways to other women, celebrating the Gospel!

Thanks Moody for this wonderful book.  All opinions are my own.

Using Your Home For Ministry

posted in: Books | 0

As a mom of preschoolers, even ones who like to get out and roam the city every day, we also like to use our home as a place of ministry. But, it can be hard to figure out schedules ways to do ministry.

Hospitality is one way we can be like God to the world and to our family.  The Simplest Way to Change the World is a helpful little book that starts with the theology of God being hospitable to us and then gives helpful ways to be hospitable.

My favorite part of the book was their chapter on how hospitality is a part of God’s nature. How he gave extravagantly to those who were his enemies.  How he would go to great lengths.

When we are trying to start practicing hospitality, let’s not turn to Southern Living or Instagram to know how to be hospitable, but look to the Word at how God is hospitable to us.  Then we can pray that we can live out our relationship with God to our neighbors, families, and friends.  That doesn’t mean we have to tell everyone the full Gospel outline every time they walk in the door.  But, it does mean we can learn how to use our homes to glorify God, teach our children how to be hospitable, and welcome those unlike us into our home.

The authors share great recommendations on how to do this as well, but you can simply use these as ideas – and start your own ministry in your home to your people.

Thanks Moody for this book and all thoughts are my own.

Humility: A Christian Response to the Election

posted in: World Events | 1

The election and humility

West Wing.  Such a great show.  My husband and I had heard for so many years that this was definitely a show to binge on, and we finally started it about a year ago. We took a small hiatus, and finally started it back up again last night in season 4.  (No spoilers please).  Last night we watched an episode where they interviewed past Presidents and some WH staff.  It was very interesting, especially hearing Bill Clinton, who may very well be the “First Mister” in two days.

Every four years, we as Americans get the chance to witness an act that brings out the best and the worst of Americans.  The election of POTUS clogs up social media, runs every news hour, and is the topic of many church sermons.  Some of that is warranted, some of it is overdone.

I have been reading Hannah Anderson’s new book Humble Roots, and although the topic of the book is so far from the POTUS election, it is on a state of heart that would do us well to have during this election season.  If you follow social media at all, most people are uptight about this election, because no matter where you fall in political position, most likely neither candidate, or any write in, or third party, will line up exactly with all of your beliefs, or really has a chance of winning.  We joke about electing Charlie Brown, or Jed Bartlett, or George Washington, or any member of the Cubs baseball organization.  We can’t control the outcome of the election.

“All your anxiety, all your worry, all your sleeplessness, can’t change a thing.  And suddenly you come face to face with your limitations.”

As I have come to know the past couple of days, there are really only a few responses that we have as Christians.  After the voting takes place, we don’t need to fret, or complain, or trash the candidates, or even joke about moving to another country depending on who wins the office.  Below I’ve listed some of the responses that we can have:

  1.  We can realize that we aren’t the POTUS.  We aren’t the one sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, jetting around on Airforce One, signing lots of bills into place.  And with that in mind, I don’t think we can even begin to criticize what the POTUS does.  When we criticize someone in the office, or any elected office, we display a heart of pride.  And ungratefulness.  Humility and gratitude go hand in hand like a beautifully wrapped package.  Our humility allows us to rest and not criticize or be anxious.  This goes with so much in life, which includes the coming election.  “So what does it mean to trust Jesus for rest?  How does seeking His kingdom free us from anxiety and stress?  He frees us from our burdens in the most unexpected way: He frees us by calling us to rely less on ourselves and more on Him.  He frees us by calling us to humility.”
  2. We can pray.  We can pray to a God who puts all the kings and presidents in place.  We can pray to a God who is in control of every election and every vote in every country in the world.  We can pray to a God who grieves over the sin of abortion and the mistreatment of refugees, and the abuse of women, and the lack of leadership, and a lack of acknowledgment of Him as the True King.  He is so more able than we are.  I think much of our anxiety regarding life, motherhood, or the POTUS election is based in our lack of trust and failure to pray.
  3. We can pray FOR the POTUS – whoever it might be.  Whether we have a Clinton or a Trump – we only have one response to them – to pray for them.  To respect them as their position calls for.  Our bashing of the POTUS speaks only of our disobedience.  We are to submit ourselves to the POTUS because God has put that person in place of leadership.  That doesn’t mean we have to perform abortions or do anything against the Word of God.  We don’t have to change our political beliefs.  We do need to pray, be gracious to others who might have differing opinions, and be active in a gracious, humble way.  Being rebellious to the Word of God by bashing the President will not bring glory to the name of Jesus, who has called to us obey HIM above all.

Humble Roots is a fabulous book y’all.  Especially as a mom of littles and a creative and blogger, I often read books that talk so much about how to deal with our frazzled lives.  How to balance, plan, organize, etc.  This book takes a different approach to our frazzled lives.  Anderson gets at the heart of our frazzled-ness.  She uses personal examples, the Word of God, and gardening (such wonderful illustrations) throughout the book to get at the heart of our wrecked lives.

“And so we must respond to Jesus’ call.  We must come to Him.  We must come to Him and learn of His gentleness and humility.  We must come to Him to be tamed.”

All quotes taken from Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson.  Published by Moody.  Thank you for Moody for sending me the book as part of their review program.  All opinions are my own.

Fear and Faith : a book for every woman

posted in: Books | 3

Fear and Faith

There haven’t been many books I’ve come across, geared toward women, that I think apply to all women.  May be a few by Elyse Fitpatrick, but that’s about it.  Most books for women are geared toward marriage, singleness, motherhood, etc.  This new book from Moody Publishers by Trillia Newbell (who works for the ERLC) is one book that I would highly recommend to every single woman to read.

Why?  Because we all fear.  We may not like to admit we fear – but we all do.  I will post my official review later, but suffice it to say that Trillia states her case and successfully writes about it – and points us to the gospel in all things with this book.  I want to interact personally with this book here.

I don’t think I would ever consider myself a fearful person – until I got married.  I think the closeness to other people brings that out – because there is more a fear of loss.  Before I got married I lived by myself in my own apt, I moved gladly around to different countries, I was actually quite independent – though I did have close relationships.  Now, I hate it when my mister is gone and its just me in the house with my two littles.  I have trouble falling asleep and I have to quote verses to myself in order to calm my heart.

My biggest struggle is fear of man.  I think I’ve known this tendency since I was little – but not until I came more into a relationship with Christ did I fully understand my need for salvation in this area.  A pastor recommended an Ed Welch book for me to read about 10 years ago.  So convicting – but so filled with hope that God has a special plan for our lives so we don’t have to be chained to sin in this area.

That’s what Trillia does in every area!  She lists out many fears that women struggle with ranging from tragedy, the future, to physical appearance and sexual intimacy.  In every single chapter – I was convicted by some of her thoughts (totally based in Scripture backed up by personal experience – not the other way around) – and I was placed gently in the hands of the Almighty who doesn’t want me to fear but wants me to trust completely in Him.

I see this in my marriage a lot.  This idea of us being consumed with the opinions of others (pg 24).  I always want to know what my mister thinks of my outfit, the food I cooked, etc.  I want him to realize that I cleaned this or that and am always looking for his approval.

Right now my mister and I are not in a place of surety – meaning I don’t think we are going to be in this place in life for a long time so we feel kinda in limbo.  So, when I don’t have a vision for the future and don’t know how long it will be till we see that vision – its scary.  This book has taught me that I don’t trust God enough in this area.  I like to be in control.

I read the chapter on appearance (am I pretty enough) the wknd I finally lost all the baby weight.  I was so excited.  I mean my second son just turned 20 months old.  Its been a long time coming.  Newbell reminded me that while I should take care of my body because God desires me to – I shouldn’t focus on my looks to an extreme amount nor should I find my identity in the numbers on the scale.

Giveaway: Moody has graciously said they would give a copy of this book to a reader.  Here is how you enter: what one verse to do you go to when you are fearful?  You can answer in the blog comments or on a social media account of your choice.  Just make sure I know about it.  I will choose a winner on Sunday night.

Trillia – thank you.  This book was very helpful and was restorative to my soul.

Coffee with Trillia Newbell

posted in: Books, Coffee with... | 0

Interview with Trillia Newbell

I’ve just been recently introduced to the life, ministry, grace, humor, and writing of Trillia Newbell.  She does some great things for the kingdom in race ethics, CBMW, and for the ERLC.  But, today, I’m not talking to her about those things – though I would definitely like to.

I’m getting the privilege to introduce to you her new book, Fear and Faith, by Moody.  Ladies (gentleman, keep reading because your wife will thank you for the book) – this is one of those books, and they have been rare in my life – that I think every woman should read.  Married, single, mom, widow, barren, adoptive mom, divorced…you name it – its for you.  Because I think Trillia has hit on a topic all women struggle with.  FEAR.

I’ll save my book review and the GIVEAWAY for next week, but right now you can hear from Trillia herself.  And while I didn’t get to sit down with her face to face and have coffee, this is what I would ask her if I could have:

1.  You write a part about always being in a hurry. How do you manage to write books, minister to women and others through CBMW, ERLC, and be a wife and a mom?

When I first began writing I had a desire to write as often as possible for as many organizations as possible. In part, I was simply excited to write. I also thought it was a great way to grow. As my responsibilities have increased at the ERLC and speaking opportunities have also increased, I’ve had to say no more often than I’d like to. That, I think, is how I’m able to balance. As new seasons come I have to make decisions to stop doing certain things. Before I was writing books, I was a fitness instructor, as I began to write more and my husband and I saw this as a ministry I ought to invest in, I gave up fitness.

I simply could not do this without my husband’s support, encouragement, and blessing. He helps me evaluate opportunities and balance serving the home, family, church, and broader ministry work. God’s grace is sufficient and he enables me to work.

2.  When you got finished writing this book: what had you learned the most about yourself and what would be the first chapter in Fear and Faith part 2?

I’m not sure what I learned about myself but what I did learn is that fear is universal. I knew that it was a common struggle but the response has been such that I realize it’s almost a temptation for everyone. If I had a Fear and Faith part 2—the first chapter might be on finding our identity in Christ as we seek to fight these fears, especially the fear of not measuring up.

3.  What verse or advice would you share w women on how to conquer social media and its push on what we do in life?

I think if a woman is secure in her identity in Christ and looks to Scripture to define for her what womanhood is, she will be able to fight the temptation to compare on social media. I don’t think that social media is all bad. I think we should be able to look on these various sites and rejoice with other women who receive what we do not or who are gifted differently than us.

But we also must know that we do not have to be on social media. I think many fear missing out so we check often. But if social media tempts us to sin rather than is a means of grace, don’t get it on it. There’s freedom to miss out—and honestly, we aren’t missing out on much because real life around us still goes on.

I hesitate to throw out Scripture because it depends on what aspect of it someone is struggling on. There’s plenty in the world about running our own race, not looking to the left or right, and encouraging one another. I would say anything in that category would be a good start.

4.  Random question just for fun for your readers to get to know you better. If you could go on one trip just w your husband, where would it be and why?

Mine is Paris!! I studied abroad, in Swansea, Wales, and while over there I visited France. I traveled to Paris a few times and it was by far my favorite city. My husband, Thern, has not been to Paris (though he has been abroad). I would love to sit at the foot of the Eiffel Tower with him. Oh man, that would be so wonderful!

5.  What is your favorite coffee shop where you live and what is your “regular ” order?

I love to work at the Frothy Monkey and The Good Cup. I enjoy fruit tea and various delicious coffees.


Leadership Lesson – Josh Moody

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

“What we do tends to be what people follow, and if what we do doesn’t go in step with what we believe, likely as not people will follow what we do rather than what we say we believe.  That’s why you get so many Christian who look like their pastors and sound like their pastors; they are little clones of their leader.  From their mannerisms, you can spot who their leader is if you are familiar with the leader.  so, if you are a leader, you need to watch out for this.”

 Josh Moody, No Other Gospel, pg 97


1.  I knew of a dude in seminary that owned everything that he was aware of that was ever recorded that featured Paige Patterson.

2.  I know of a guy who sounds like David Platt when he prays.

3.  The first time I heard a local pastor preach, I could tell he had lived in John Piper’s basement because his demeanor and hand motions.

4.  There are guys I serve with who have the same hand motions of one of the guys who has been on staff a long time.

5. I was at a Bstudy the other night and when the pastor asked an asst pastor what he thought of a passage, it was exactly what he would have thought.

6.  The name of the curriculum we are working on is called Treasuring Christ – our pastor pretty much got that from a prof in England because he always says it.

I wouldn’t say any of these are bad things; but you can see where the danger would come.  What happens if you behave in such a way that is not painting an accurate picture of Christ’s heart or is not becoming of someone who would claim Christ?  What about people who believe the theology you hold to – and that theology doesn’t line up to the Authority of Scripture?

Josh offers a great leadership principle.  How do you lead with humility knowing that others are watching you and following your example?

Book 7 of 52: No Other Gospel (Josh Moody)

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

Commentary and Gospel to preach to yourself: does it get any better?

Josh Moody, pastor of College Church in Wheaton (which I love by the way, just the city, the college, the grounds), took his sermons from Galatians and poured it into a readable, short-chaptered, book you can read in a month (as long as the month has 31 days). 

His only goal is to give a hard look at what it means to live our lives by ONE GOSPEL: The Cross, what the Bible says the Gospel is – and not let anything else interfere with that.  He succeeds.  The first couple of chapters were so highlighted I knew this would be a book I would pour into for years, and use readily as a resource when writing or studying or speaking at a conference, etc.  Such depth and insight.  Both scholarly and pastoral.

“We are practical atheists if we limit God’s usefulness of us to our personality.  God did not greatly use Paul because he thought Paul had all the right credentials.  It was not “Oh, Paul, he knows the Bible and has good connections, let’s get him.”  No, it was the religious terrorist.  How unlikely is that?  God delights to take unlikely people and user them because then the focus is on God, not on the unlikely people.” – 16

In thoughts of planning worship services: “When we plan, it is the Bible that must guide.  Our worship must be Bible-centered in order to be God-centered.” – 17

Just in case you ever wonder what you had to do with your salvation: “Our salvation does not start with us.  We do not initiate the process.  We did not come up with the plan.  We did not start it.  God did.” – 25

These are but a small taste to the rich truths that Moody brings out of Galatians into sermons and then puts them in your hands as a tool for you to know the gospel better.  Use this as a secondary source when studying/memorizing/learning Galatians.  It will be a blessing to your soul and life and ministry.