For the Times You Don’t Feel Equipped

Being Equipped

It has been mostly silent here in my little corner of the www.

Except for the occasional book review/giveaway, I haven’t really had the words. It is frustrating for someone like me who has learned to process through writing. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write either.

In April Dominic and I attended a marriage conference that was really impactful. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I just couldn’t find the words to do so. In June we celebrated our 20 year anniversary and with it came a tough lesson I had to learn about my stubbornness and pride, and how the enemy targets those very character defects in me. Some  day I will share that with you as well if God leads.

I know that the “experts” would tell me that I should get up and write regardless if I have the words…but when I don’t feel God leading me there, it feels forced and in-genuine. Some day soon I hope to be back to a regular writing schedule though…God-willing.

This morning as I was getting ready I was thinking about those times when I have felt ill-equipped to do what God has called me to.

Do you ever find yourself there? In a situation where you know God has brought you to but yet you feel like the least qualified to be there?

A few months ago we were getting close to wrapping up the bible study we were on in our women’s group at church. We started talking about what we would like to do next and someone mentioned the book Fervent.

I had read it 3 times through and really loved it so I was all on board for that. I didn’t think that it was something I would lead, I just wanted to read it again. Each time I have been through it I find things that I missed, or nuggets of information that mean even more to me with each new read.

The morning after the discussion I woke up unusually early and started writing. Within a short amount of time I had 5 bible study lessons written that would be the start to a guide for the book.

If you have read it you know that there isn’t a specific bible study for the book. I sent what I had written to the ladies that lead our group and said that I thought I could write out the rest of the guide for the remaining chapters. It really was a God-led thing and honestly the book made it easy.

And so a few weeks ago we started our study of Fervent, using my guide, which is still a bit of a surreal experience for me. This feels largely out of my skill set. And in addition to writing the guide I am now leading the study. Another thing that feels outside of my talents.

I was praying on the way to church on Tuesday that God would just give me the words. I worry about filling those uncomfortable gaps of silence, of creating a safe place for everyone to share and be honest. There is the time factor, what if I can’t fill the specified time…what if times gets away from me!

It all seems so much more than I can handle. And I start to doubt that I am the right person to be leading this group of women that have so much more wisdom than I ever have had.

But it is where I am finding myself.

This week as I left bible study I was just overwhelmed by how God shows up. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have it all figured out. The women that are attending each have their own wisdom to share, and collectively as a group we grow from our shared experiences.

And I wondered if maybe that’s why God called me to this.

It wasn’t that I had so much to give, but rather that it was an opportunity for me to witness how incredible my God is. {Click to Tweet}

To find myself in awe of how He would use me, grateful for the new women that are there this time and how much I have learned from them. Filled with a passion to continue to have a place where we can be transparent with one another and grow in our understanding of prayer.

It is a humbling experience and such an honor to be a part of this amazing group of women.

So if you are being called to something that feels outside of your comfort zone, don’t worry. Trust that God will give you just what you need. And wait with hopeful expectancy that He will give you more than you expect out of the process!

Bible Journaling – Illustrated Faith

Journaling Bible

My husband bought me an ESV Journaling Bible for Christmas in 2014. I have loved having the space to take notes when I am at church. So often I can’t remember all the nuggets of wisdom that my pastor has to offer each week and by writing it down I can go back and look through it at a later date and remember.

When I got the bible I did some research about the best pens, highlighters etc. that I should use on the delicate pages. Searching unearthed (at least for me) the new trend of people illustrating their faith in the pages of their bible.

The work that these artists are doing is so incredible, I had to share a few of my favorites:

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Beautiful work by Tiffany Zajas. Simple, yet that tangible reminder to bloom where you are planted.

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Jaime was featured over at the Illustrated Faith website and I love that she uses stickers, colored pencils, washi tape and her own {amazing} handwriting to make this page her own!

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And finally this from Bekah, also featured at Illustrated Faith has used watercolors and paper cutouts to add whimsy to her page.

I will be honest with you when I started seeing all these beautiful pictures I was a little overwhelmed. I am more of a paint by numbers kind of girl and my handwriting leaves much to be desired. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to create something so beautiful in my own bible.

And then I heard about the Illustrated Faith line from Dayspring.

Initially I purchased some stickers, I thought that it would be a place to start. Then when I had the opportunity to review a full Illustrated Faith kit, I jumped at the chance!

The kit arrived and was packed so pretty. I received the Blessings or Lessons Illustrated Faith set.

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Here were the Items in the kit:

    • 1 devotional booklet (14 devotionals)
    • 1 stamp pad
    • 1 clear stamp collection with 1 sheet of cut outs enclosed
    • 1 roll of washi tape
    • 1 package of 3 Scripture sharables
    • 1 sticker
    • 1 bow clip

I love that the kit came with a devotional, I hadn’t expected that! Each month a new kit is available and has just enough to get a novice like myself started.

I decided to start by just placing the Scripture sharables in my bible where the verses are found. This way I have them with me and can share them as an opportunity arises.

I tried a couple of the stamps out, but they do recommend that you use an acrylic block to fix the stamps to before you use them. I didn’t have a block so I tried to wing it. One of the stamps slipped a little when I was taking it off the page. The block would have prevented that…so it is on my list of things to purchase.

Illustrated Faith 6I told you I am a novice at this, but it is fun! I want to get some colored pencils and maybe color around the stamp featured above. There are endless possibilities really with what you can do with just 1 kit!

I am even more excited to start using the sticker sets that I purchased but was afraid to try. Maybe this brings me back to those days when we decorated the covers of our notebooks with NKOB stickers and pictures (maybe that was just me, ha!)…it was fun to create then and I guess I had forgotten how something like this is fulfilling for a creative’s soul!

If you haven’t ever tried this form of creative journaling…maybe now is the time to start!!

For more information about the woman who designed this incredible collection see the video below! Email subscribers click here.

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I was sent the Illustrated Faith kit in exchange for my honest review but even more exciting is that the lovely people at Dayspring have a kit to send to one of my readers! I am telling you that you want this!! To enter leave a comment sharing your favorite item from the Dayspring site or tell me if you have done any Bible Journaling yourself. Share this post on FB or Twitter for additional entries, just leave me a comment saying what you have done! 🙂

I will pick a winner on June 13th!

Photo Credit: Kit picture compliments of Dayspring

Writing God’s Word on Their Hearts

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This week we are doing something that is a first in our almost 20 years of marriage….we are getting new carpet installed! It is a pretty big deal to us, our first home had newer carpet when we moved in and after 13 years it probably needed to be replaced, but we couldn’t afford it. Then we moved to MN and the carpet needed replacing in many rooms, but again it wasn’t in the budget after buying a new home!

So we started talking about it months ago and finally decided to go forward and make the investment. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. I didn’t realize just how much work was involved in the process! Clearing out all the rooms, ripping the old carpet out and removing all the staples…that’s just the “prep” work.

Today the installation started and we started talking about how we hope really like the new color because it is going in multiple rooms! 🙂

When I was 14 my parents replaced their carpet and before the new was put down, they let us write all over the sub-floor. I have always remembered how cool that was and recently saw a friend who did Bible verses in their home and I decided to do the same.

So yesterday we spent sometime writing God’s Word on the floors in our rooms. I love the idea that we can stand on His Word in a tangible way each day.

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Dominic wrote out some of his favorite verses and I will always know that in our front living room we have a reminder to put on God’s armor each and every day. It is another way to remember to be prepared for the battles we will face every day.

I took pictures of all the places and verses we wrote because I want to have something to show our younger kids when they are older. Our family isn’t perfect by any means. We mess up and face difficulties like every other family. But my prayer is that we can be a family that is established and rooted in the Word of God. And that we might be able to use that foundation to be a light and an encouragement to others.

As a parent I have struggled with how best to teach our kids about God. We are so grateful for our church and the Awana program there. But I can’t expect that others will always do the work for me…we have to continue to encourage them and instill them with His Truth in our home.

For a long time I have looked for a devotional that might be appropriate and just haven’t found something that works for the varying ages in our family. Recently though I was sent the ESV Family Devotional Bible from #FlyBy promotions to review. What I love about it is that it is a full Bible, but among the pages are pictures and short devotional readings.

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At the end of each reading, there are questions to ask the family to discuss and a verse that could be used as a memory verse! It is something that my 5 year old could listen and participate in, but it isn’t too young for my 12 year old either.

These are the kind of devotionals that wouldn’t take much time, but would provide opportunities for deeper discussions and also the chance for our kids to once again hear the Truth of God’s Word. And I love that at the end of each devotional it points you to the page where the next one can be found!

I want the Word of God written on their hearts, and what a perfect way to encourage that by including these devotionals in our weekly routine.

I know it can be hard to take time out as a family to do things like this, but just like we took time to write out those verses on the floor…we need to find time in our busy schedules to stop and spend time with God. This Bible is going to help us get back on track and I am excited to see our kids!

But even more exciting is the fact that #FlyBy has another Bible to give away to one of my readers! YAY!! So to enter just leave a comment and share either why you would like this, or tell me what is something you do in your family to teach the Word of God to your kids? I am always looking for new ideas! Giveaway will close on Friday May 20th!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

She is Priceless

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Mother’s Day was celebrated on Sunday. It is always a time that I am happy about, but I also approach it with a heart heavy for the women who may be hurting.

I posted this on my FB page on Sunday morning. Based on the likes and shares – it is a feeling felt by many women.

“To all the women who have lost babies too soon…I honor you today.

To the women who desperately want children but can’t for some reason…I honor you today.

To the women who have wayward children and spend today in worry….I honor you today.

To the women who work full time outside of the home help care for their family….I honor you today.

To the single mother who struggles to make ends meet….I honor you today.

To the stay at home moms who don’t always feel valued or appreciated….I honor you today.

Mother’s Day isn’t always a happy day for some and my prayer is that we would lift up women in prayer today. Remembering that there are women hurting on the inside and seek to encourage them in a special way today!!”

Having gone through my own miscarriage and loss and having dealt with years of infertility…I know the heartache that the journey to motherhood can bring.

As hard as I felt my own individual journey was, the reality is there are women struggling who are dealing with some really unimaginable situations.

One of my favorite non-profits is Mercy House Global.

Mercy House Global

Kristen Welch is the real deal. A woman who’s heart was broken for the mothers in Kenya, Kristen started the Mercy House as a place of refuge for young, unwed pregnant mothers.

Giving them a place to stay, education and skills training so that they could have sustainable employment in the future, Kristen saw these women as the priceless treasure that they were.

So often we just turn our eyes away.

The reality of rape, abortion, unwed pregnant teens in extreme poverty….well it can seem like too much to handle. How could one person make a difference?

But through organizations like Mercy House I have discovered that I CAN make a difference. I can be involved without going to Africa myself. By purchasing products from Fair Trade Friday, I am buying products from women who are finally being given an opportunity to be employable and take care of their own families.

With each product I am reminded that these beautiful women are priceless.

My family spoiled me this Mother’s Day and now it is my turn to honor another women.

The “She is Priceless” campaign is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of oppressed women.

Mercy House is one of 5 non-profits that is joining in this movement. Today I am wearing this beautiful pearl necklace and earrings in honor of every woman who has lived in oppression.

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Would you join me today in spreading the word about this campaign? You could put on a pearl necklace of your own and take a selfie with #putonyourpeaarls, and share it on social media. Or consider taking your lunch money, or latte cash for the day and donating it to one of the five organizations on the She is Priceless webpage.

And please be in prayer for the mama’s out there that are hurting. Let us not forget that every woman, no matter their story or background, is priceless.

**As a long-time advocate for Mercy House I was sent the pearl necklace with my commitment to help spread the word about the She is Priceless campaign. I purchased the matching earrings from Fair Trade Friday myself!**

Chasing Sunsets and Looking for Lovely

Sunrise

I love me a good sunrise or sunset.

My ONLY regret about the house we bought here in MN is that we can’t see the sunrises or sunsets very well. Homes and trees block the majority of our view, so while I get glimpses, I never get the full picture sitting inside my home.

But there is the rare occasion that I am bringing kids to school or heading home from church on Wednesday nights that I get to take in the beauty of a sunrise/sunset in its full glory.

I connect with God through His creation. There is something special about seeing the colors change across the sky, so brief and fleeting, but realizing the promise that they always return with each new day.

There are moments when I wish I could take time and just chase sunsets, every day, seek out that beauty and pause to take it all in. Because often times I struggle to see any light at all…

I have battled with depression for probably longer than I’d like to admit.

I do a pretty good job of disguising it for those I come in contact with. I can fix myself up and pretend that I have got it all together. But the banter that happens in my head is anything but put together and lovely.

It is often negative and oppressive, filled with comparison and littered with envy and jealousy. I want what I think you have and have to fight to see the many (obvious) blessings in my own life. I know that I have so many things to be grateful for but sometimes the knowing isn’t enough, it seems.

Recently I got a book in the mail that has helped me feel less alone in this struggle, and also has set a path in motion to my seeking out the lovely in my day…even if it is small or seemingly insignificant.

In her book Looking for Lovely Annie writes this: “I had an addiction. For over twenty years I had taken all the pain and hurt and pushed it straight down my throat. For as much as I read the Bible, sat in Sunday school, and made church my second home, I wish I’d understood, “His ears are open for their cries for help” (Psalm 34:15) Instead of feeling any of the suffering, instead of pressing through the pain and taking it to God, trusting that He heard me, I escaped to anywhere that would feed me, and I stuffed my emotions down by covering them in layers of food.” (p.37)

In my book I have those lines underlined and where she has food, I crossed it out and wrote in anger. I could also have written shopping or any thing that I set out to do that fills me up and makes me “feel” more valuable…host a party so I get praise, work on the “perfect” blog post so I can encourage others and bolster my self esteem…the list could go on and on.

Instead of dealing with the heart of what’s at the center of the darkness I feel inside, I run to fill the emptiness with things that never fully satisfy.

In her journey to be “rebuilt”, Annie knew that “she needed the strength of heart to hold on until God could complete the work He had begun.” (p.47)

This rebuilding is hard, laborious work isn’t it? If you have walked through a time of self discovery yourself, you know that it is often painful and slow. There are days that I feel like I have taken several steps forward only to find myself right back in the muck of my old ways, full of mistakes.

In these times I need to take just a little time to focus on the lovely around me. A beautiful sky, the sound of the rain falling, a clean closet or some one on one time with one of my kids.

I loved what Annie had to say about it: “It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the suffering be a part of your life…because there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending that everything is okay.” (p.76)

Ultimately I want to be able to be okay not being okay.

There is a freedom in being able to be transparent and honest, and I want that in my life. I want to recognize where I am still stuck, take responsibility for the things that are mine and find contentment and joy even if my life isn’t picture perfect.

Annie found that in many deep and meaningful ways. Her book is filled with both struggle and progress. As raw and honest as they come, she has walked this hard path and offers hope for those of us on a similar journey.

“It’s not that my life is all that different; it’s just that I see it differently. So it feels like a brand-new life.” (p.172)

So I am going to keep chasing sunsets, I will paint my fingernails a fun color and enjoy the little things that bring me joy. And I will also continue to allow God to refine me and my character. Allowing myself to be humbled because it brings healing. I don’t have to run from the hard, or stuff it away, or fill it with things of this world. Instead I will seek the lovely through it all and trust that even if my circumstances haven’t changed, that one day I too will begin to see differently as well.

I received an advance copy of Annie’s book as a part of her launch team. I LOVED this book and so I have a copy to share here with one of my readers. I think every woman needs to read this book – so leave a comment to be entered and I will pick the winner on Friday April 8th!

Giving Our Kids God’s Word {Giveaway}

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I love when our children embrace God’s Word. When they start to recognize the importance of understanding the stories contained within in a real way.

Karlena has had a “Baby Bible” now for a few years, but hasn’t had an actual Bible with the full text inside. She can’t read yet but very soon she will be reading on her own and I hope that she will learn to find God’s Word as a source of knowledge and comfort.

When this Bible arrived at our door Karlena was so excited. The bright colors and pictures on the front and throughout remind you of a Disney movie! In fact one friend asked if it was a Disney Bible!

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It is a NIrV edition, so it is an “easy reader” for children, with easier text for them to understand. Elijah asked me to read them some verses so since we were close to Easter I opened it to Matthew so that I could read portions of the crucifixion story.

Some of our favorite pages in the Bible were these insert pages.

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There was the Lord’s Prayer, the ABC’s of accepting Christ and the books of the Bible. I read one review that stated she wished there had been more of those pages throughout and I agree. Those were the pages Karlena kept turning to herself!

At church this past Sunday our Pastor talked about Peter. And while all of the passages he read were familiar to me, hearing it again brought new life and new meaning to who he was.

I think that is why we need to continue to encourage our kids to read God’s Word over and over. The meaning, our understanding, of the stories change over time. As we grow in our faith we can start to apply the principles to our own lives.

In 30+ years I want my kids to nod in agreement at a familiar story and at the same time see it all in a new light. 

Do you have a favorite children’s Bible for kids in this 6-10 age group? I’d love to hear about it!!

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The Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV is a perfect gift for children ages 6 to 10. Themes of underwater fun and sparkling fish grace the interior of this wonderful children’s Bible. The outside is covered in foil and sparkle. The interior has color inserts featuring whimsical underwater scenes with themes of God’s care and love for each of us and all of creation.

Learn More: http://www.zondervan.com/under-the-sea-holy-bible-nirv

I was sent the Under the Sea Bible as  a free gift in exchange for my honest review. In addition the wonderful people at #FlyByPromotions have another copy to send to one of my wonderful readers! Do you have a child between the ages of 6-10 that would love this Bible?! Leave a comment below and I will pick a winner on Friday April 1st!

Searching for Answers – Wildflower DVD Giveaway

Wildflower DVD

There is a large part of my childhood that I don’t have any memories of. I know that we took a special family vacation every summer, I remember playing kick-the-can at night in the summer with our neighbor friends, riding bikes around and around the circle and going to the pool for family swim. But the majority of my most vivid memories are ones that felt significant to me. Things that shaped the way that I have processed life even as an adult.

Being embarrassed in first grade because I got a huge black eye when I fell and hit the bike rack at school. Sadness at not being good enough to be invited to the boy-girl party that was the talk of 6th grade. Disappointment when I didn’t get picked for the cheer leading team…

Many of the things I do remember seemed to reinforce the idea that I didn’t measure up. I wasn’t good enough. I have been processing through that a lot lately, trying to determine what was truth and what were lies. And I have been praying that I would remember more.

There are things locked up inside of me, that likely hold a key to why I am the way I am. Why I think the way I do, and react the way I do. It is frustrating when you are seeking for understanding and yet God isn’t revealing the lost memories.

Aren’t we all in some way searching for answers about who we are?

In the new movie Wildflower, Chloe is a young girl who also has a “lost” past. She starts to have dreams that seem to be a premonition to a future event that might take place…until she discovers that it is a long locked away memory of something she witnessed as a young girl.

Desperate for answers she seeks help from a young man who is struggling himself. Together they discover hope in finding answers and freedom from darkness in their past.

I enjoyed this movie and the reminder that we are not ever alone. Sometimes the path to finding freedom is a difficult one, but God is present through it all and the healing and hope that comes from the process are worth the difficult journey.

You can pre-order Wildflower over at Amazon, or watch the trailer here.

I was given a copy of the movie to review from Icon Media in exchange for my honest review. And as an added bonus they sent me an additional DVD that I can give away to one of my readers! It isn’t even available to purchase until April 5th – so this is an advance copy!

So for a chance to win the DVD please just leave a comment below! I will pick a winner on Thursday the 24th and have the winner’s copy in the mail on Friday!

Shining Light in the Corners

Light

We have a vacuum with a light on the front of it. It feels all fancy-like really and my only complaint is that when I switch over to use the hose, the light goes off. There have been times I wish I still had the light on when I use the hose, but that’s not what I am here to talk to you about today.

My vacuum and I have become fast friends. It sits out in my kitchen because I use it almost every day. No I am not completely OCD, but we have this dog. Now at the risk of offending my true pet-loving friends can I just take a moment and admit that the reality of pets in my home is waaaay less appealing that the original idea of having pets.

There, I’ve said it. I am a horrible person I know, but I just am realizing that I am not a great dog owner. I am tolerating her for the sake of my husband and kids. My husband said she is a good lesson in me not giving up on something that is hard. I resent him just a bit for the truth in that statement. 😉

But this dog of ours sheds 352,000 pounds of fur approximately every other day. It doesn’t matter what we do…she sheds, it is her breed. I thought she might only shed after winter, but no she sheds every waking moment.

Thus the need for the vacuum out and available.

I can’t stand dog hair in clumps all over my kitchen, on my rugs, the sides of my couch…I am drowning in fur balls…but that really wasn’t what I came here to talk to you about today.

I was vacuuming the other day and my handy light on the front was revealing hair in places that I hadn’t seen without the light. If you came into my kitchen right now you might look at the floor and think it is fine…but with the light of the vacuum the true reality is revealed.

And I was struck by the idea that is just how sin is in my life.

I can pretty myself up just enough so that I look clean to those I come in contact with. And just like when I walk through my kitchen, I stop and deal with the visible chunks and then I think things are just fine.

But when you shine a light on the edges and the corners of the room, the reality of the “dirt” is revealed. And it isn’t pretty.

Sin that I try to hide and ignore, while it may be tucked away in the corners of my life and not completely visible to others, is still there and at some point it needs to be taken care of.

I have been a “stuffer” for the majority of my life. I get hurt, feel slighted, feel angry, whatever and instead of dealing with it, I stuff it away. I easily get resentful and then I allow those resentments to fester. Pretty soon I have made a mountain out of a mole hill…and it keeps going until I explode.

You can only stuff emotions away so long….at some point everything comes to the surface.

And so last fall I got angry and said some terrible, hurtful things to my husband. Something needed to change and it needed to start with me. It was a hard season, one that I went into kicking and screaming, if we are being honest.

I didn’t want to deal with my issues, I had gotten so good at pointing out the wrong in others I had been unable and unwilling to look inward. But with the help of a wonderful Christian counselor I started to examine my life. My responses, my feelings, my anger and what caused it.

I didn’t want to be the woman, the wife and mother that didn’t have it all together. It hurt admitting my faults. I was humiliated by who I had become.

Thankfully I had people in my life who loved me in spite of me. I joined a bible study of women that I felt compelled to be honest with. They accepted me and encouraged me. The need for perfection started to fall away as I realized that I was ok not being ok.

I can honestly say it has been an amazing work of the Holy Spirit in my life. There has been a transformation in my heart, in my mind. Things that would upset me before can be let go. I am not holding resentments but rather extending grace to others in a way it has been given to me.

There is still “dirt” in my life. It will always be a walk of progress not perfection. But I am not walking covered in shame anymore either. I have a desire to be more transparent, if anything maybe my admission will allow someone else to seek out freedom in their own life as well.

Today I am not afraid of the light shining in the corners of my life. I may not like what I find there, and I might need to do some heart work to make things clean again…but even though the work is hard, the joys that come from that kind of freedom-work are immeasurable.

Are there areas you need to address today so that you can walk in freedom? 

Photo Credit: williamnyk

What If?

What If

Last week I had a humbling experience. And while I would like to keep it to myself and not admit my weakness, I feel like we can learn from each other’s mistakes…so why not start with making an example of myself.

This online world can be a tough one to navigate, especially as women.

Take a moment and scroll through Facebook or Instagram and you will likely find someone who seems to have it more put together than you. Perfect kids, happy family, no worries, making money from blogging….it’s all there in some way, shape or form.

And if you are someone like me and struggle with feelings of self-worth and doubt, those “have it all people” can stir feelings of jealousy and envy.

I’d like to say that I didn’t get there but I did. And when we are filled with those negative feelings, we run the risk of pouring out the bad onto others. And that is what I did.

A blogger that I have followed since 2007 posted recently about taking a blogging break. I think that’s great and there have been times here that I have been quiet because I haven’t felt called to share anything.

This blogger started out a lot like me, wadding the waters of this online space in those early years, sharing her life and her family, making memories. But somewhere along the way she started getting opportunities to review products, to work with brands and make an income off of her time spent in the online space.

I have seen it all over, except in my little corner of the www. My numbers haven’t grown, I don’t make a dime off of blogging and really I am ok with that. But at the same time I was jealous of those that did. Hypocrite much?!

So when this blogger posted about her break I commented that I supported it. And then I followed up that support with a bunch of word-vomit that I was tired of sponsored posts and how I wanted to go back to the good-ol’ days of blogging where people just shared their faith and family and didn’t work so hard to promote themselves.

In my prideful mind I thought that maybe my comment would encourage her to come back and stop working with brands, stop making income. Because if I couldn’t, why should she. (Ouch I know!!)

I forgot about my comment until late that same night. I happened back over to her site and saw she had responded. She was gracious with her comment but when I read my own again I realized how hurtful it was. And I was ashamed.

We need to work at building one another up, not tearing each other down.

I was so convicted that I sent her an apology email. I confessed that my comment was spurred by jealousy, plain and simple. As difficult as it was to write and send that email, I knew that it was a character building opportunity and so I humbly apologized.

She responded a few days later, once again gracious. God allows us to be taught in these moments in life if we are just open enough to hear His voice and follow His leading. It isn’t always easy, but it is necessary work in this faith walk.

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And then last night we spent some time in our bible study talking about jealousy, shame and judgement.

We’ve all done it. Looked at someone and the way they are living their lives and judged something about it. I judged that blogger for how she was choosing to make a living for her family. Who am I to do that?!

It happens more often than we like to admit. One of the women shared how she felt judged about the choices one of her children made. We all assured her that it wasn’t a reflection of her – but the truth is when you are living in those moments it does feel like it is a reflection of you.

And as a church body (and I am talking all religions here…not a specific church) we have failed one another.

Jesus taught by example, He is the very measure of what grace should look like.  And if I am being honest, often times I am willing to give grace when and to whom I feel “deserve” it instead of giving grace freely.

Once again I was humbled by the discussion and challenged to do something different.

What if we started showing love to those around us, even if they are making choices we don’t agree with?

What if we came alongside a young, teenage mother and encouraged her, encouraged her family?

What if we had a baby shower for a unwed mother, choosing to celebrate the new life instead of condemning the choices she had made?

What if we became a safe place for women to grieve the loss of a baby or a pregnancy – not dictating a time table of when they should be “over it”?

What if we stopped being so afraid of finding the right words to say and just admitted we don’t know what to say but we are praying?

What if we started being real and honest with one another so that the walls of perceived perfection would crumble and we could use our difficulties to shine Christ’s redemption?

What if?

I get up every Sunday and I get ready for church. I doubt that I will ever feel comfortable going without makeup or fixing my hair. Vain, yes but it is my reality. But don’t let the nice outfit or “put together” appearance fool you.

I am a sinner saved by grace.

I likely yelled at my kids on the way to church or got frustrated with the dog before we left. I walk in the doors and want you to believe something about me that really isn’t true. I don’t have it all together and I never will.

And that’s ok.

What if instead of judging what we think we know about someone, we start getting brave and start working to really connect with those in our church, our community?

What if when people asked us how we were, we responded in truth instead of just “I’m fine”?

And what if we got over being uncomfortable with this new reality and embraced it as an opportunity to come alongside a fellow believer that is hurting?

I am tired of being “fine” and ready to be real. Because when I am “fine” I start believing that I have it all under control and God is the first thing to go when I’ve got the reins.

We have an opportunity friends to be the church, be Jesus to a lost and hurting people. Some of those people are in your workplace, your community, your church body. Some of those people need to know that they don’t have to have it all together to be accepted by God. Maybe you, maybe I,  am just the person that can be the one to be real, and by doing so, will open the door to a relationship with God.

What if?

An Unlikely Bunch – The Gift of Friendship

Gift of Friendship

I’ll just start out by being really honest with you. I didn’t want to be a part of their “group”. When Dominic “recommended” that I go to the new bible study meeting at church I was less than enthused.

There were several times over the course of the past 4 years that I wanted to participate in one of the bible studies, but there never seemed to be time. But now it was HIS idea so somehow it was a priority. And I didn’t want to go.

You see we were really struggling, no…I was really struggling. My attitude and behavior were less than ideal and I was creating waves in our marriage that were drowning us both. I needed something, I knew it…but I didn’t want it to be something he recommended. Admitting this was a good thing was also an admission that I needed help and I wasn’t ready for that.

I can be a bit overreactive and emotional if you couldn’t tell….

A small piece of me knew that if I didn’t go to this study, I may ruin future opportunities…so that first Monday I got in my car and drove to church. It is a 15 minute drive and I fought with God the entire way. “I DON’T want to be doing this Lord. I know that I need something, but I don’t want it to be the something he recommended. I know I am being terrible right now, so please Lord would you give me even one thing at this study tonight that I could take home with me?”

In my time of desperation, when I called out to God, He heard and He answered.

We are an unlikely bunch. The women in my bible study come from all different places. Some of us are mothers, others grandmas. Some of us are moms of teens and others MOPS. Each of us have a different story to tell. Hurts that have cut us deep and shaped who we are today. Struggles with finances and marriages and freedom from the lies of the enemy.

None of us the same and yet each of us are connected in unity with one goal in mind.

We are seeking a God that loves the very broken women that we are and we are working towards knowing Him more. Becoming a light to those around us, sharing our hurts and our hopes in order to lift one another up.

If you were there with us, you would be warmly welcomed. We don’t have all the answers so we search the God that does. We fail in our jobs and our homes and then we come and share our stories of imperfection. It is a safe place that we can be real and yet walk away lavished in the truth of who we are in Christ.

It was not at all what I expected and exactly what I needed.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. Maybe you have been hurt by the church, or by women…I know it happens and can I just say that I am sorry! I know that I have been that judgmental woman myself, believing that I wouldn’t fit in with “that group.” But boy when I prayed that simple prayer for God to give me one thing I could take home, He gave me an unlikely group of women that have become friends. And I am so grateful.

It is my prayer that we can continue to be that gift to more women that join us…that His love would spread into our homes and our workplaces and communities. That by gathering together as imperfect women, seeking God, we will be able to then be a blessing to someone else who really needs it.

I think that is exactly why God gave us friendships, and today I celebrate that!  Celebrating the friendships that give life today and celebrating the launch of this new book. The Gift of Friendship – Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments by Dawn Camp is available for sale now. A beautiful book filled with stories from women who are doing life with friends. The hard, the wonderful, the scary moments that happen in friendship are all shared in this book. A perfect gift for the friends in your life!

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