Monday, August 17, 2015

For The Love - A Book Review.

So here it is- my first ever book review.  
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards

Buy this book.  Carry it with you and read it cover to cover. Find grace, truth and your tribe.  Give it to your friends.  Repeat.   

About six months ago, I was picked (convinced it was a fluke) along with 499 others from 5000 people who applied to be part of a book launch team.  I knew a little about Jen Hatmaker, but nothing about book launches.  Not shocking, because I hate to read.  And I was honest and told them so.  

That was my first indicator that this wasn't a fluke, but a beautiful blessing and very much an intentional part of God's plan for me.  In this season.  In my own search of how to measure up to impossible standards- some I had created for myself.  This season of exhaustion of being a good rule follower, the best, but never getting it perfect. 

It took me a while. to get it.  In the early weeks it was about these really cool people who made bracelets and awesome mugs.  But then I started to really get it- God was creating a tribe of 496 women and a #bandoffour men to live out what He had put in Jen's heart to write.  

Being on the team meant I had got to read an advanced copy of the book. In doing my obligatory reading, I soon was laughing out loud as I soaked up the words.  Then, I was speaking a different language- forthelovisms.  Quotes that made no sense to anyone else, like off the beam, old lady hands sticking out of my sleeves, horsecrappery and crotchless yoga pants.  

Jen grabs the readers attention off the bat with essays on things we tend to obsess over.  Keeping it real here people, we try to take on way too much, turning Forty freaks us all out when we get there, and those fashion concerns.  Those ain't pants! 

In the midst of the humor the readers start seeing ourselves on the pages as if there's a mirror hidden between the paragraphs- and we can't miss grace and truth.  And our burdens are no longer hidden in darkness but shared in the light.

Y'all, our faith is not about rules and it was never meant to punish and condemn fellow human beings.  Who are we to try and convince a few that it isn't true for everybody?  

People, "theology is either true everywhere, or it isn't true anywhere." 

And so it began for me.  Recovery.  About my faith.  About my marriage.  About parenting my kids.  About my relationships (my tribe). About running my race, the one God called me to and equipped me for.  About how my love didn't look much like Jesus'.  That Dear Church chapter about crappy Christians- praise Jesus somebody is saying it in a way we can understand.  

Jen says life is convoluted but the Kingdom is simple.  We overcomplicate the ways of Jesus.  Uhm-hmm. 

Love God, love people. 
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly. 
Treat people as you want to be treated. 
If you want to be great, be a servant. 

I'm a recovering rule follower.  I knew there was more than rules a long time ago, but Jen shows us how to live in grace.  What it looks like on our porches and in our pews.  

Now,  I still don't like to read, so I'm pumped there was more to this launch team thing than just reading.  Like getting to write an endorsement (typo and all) which you can read on her website- but mostly being part of the unbelievable loving and transparent community where #500 are doing life together. Not agreeing on everything but talking about our differences with love and kindness.  And we haven't even met yet.  

I can't tell you how you might be changed by reading this book.  I can assure you that you'll be challenged to think about where you are on the rule follower vs. grace scale.  You'll be encouraged to press on, and I guarantee you will laugh along the way.  

Join me in recovery.  Get your hands on this book.  It releases August 18, 2015- in just a few hours.  

Buy it, or leave a comment here on where you need grace in your life. You're comment is your ticket for a chance to win one of two copies that I'll be giving away on September 1, 2015. 

Five Stars! 


Friday, August 14, 2015

Guest Post Today- Choosing to Walk Bravely

Today's a first for me, I'm honored to guest post for a new friend and fellow #ForTheLove launch team member, Claire Mummert's Living Bravely series at Radically Broken.

There have been many circumstances in my life when other people have told me I was brave, like when I had my double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery in 2003 and then 10 years later had to have the reconstruction repeated. But I didn’t think that was brave. It was a necessity and I didn’t choose it. I just endured it.

No. When I think about true bravery, I think it’s when a choice has to be made and in that choice we, me and you, walk. Sometimes it’s a choice to walk away. Sometimes it’s a choice to walk beside. Sometimes it’s a choice to walk into the unknown. We walk away from abusive spouses and hurtful relationships. We walk beside our mothers and fathers when they forget not only details but who we even are. We walk into the unknown of burning buildings, like the first responders on 9/11 and new situations.

Sometimes, we walk away, beside and into the unknown all at the same time. And in the scariness of these situations is where we choose to walk brave because fear, well it paralyzes. Fear can’t walk.

In 2014, my husband and I experienced the most difficult year of our lives. Hands down, more difficult than the poor teenage choices of our oldest son, or our multiple financial failures, or even the unexpected death of our dear friend.

There was no soaring, no running and we were fainting fast.

We were quickly becoming fearful that our son might not be able to handle life in our home. After several inpatient hospital stays and exhausting all the outpatient services available to him we were left with one option.  We faked it as we drove our nine year old son nearly 4 hours away and left him with strangers. People we met upon arrival and knew all of two hours when we had to trust that they would not cause further harm than he had already experienced. Residential- no way. Not us. But we’d come too far from the hard place we thought we were rescuing him from nearly eight years before to quit on him. So, against every fiber in our being- against everything that comes natural for a mom and dad, against every dream we’d dreamed for him- we begged God for courage and we walked.

He came to us with a bright smile- but even as a toddler that smile was his mask. We had spent years trying to un-do the damage caused by abuse and neglect; but just as we didn’t “make the mess” if you will, we couldn’t fix it. And we were running out of hope. There was much said without words during his months away. And that’s was okay, because he needed to hear our hearts. He too, had to choose to walk brave. To walk away from being defined by his hard place; walk beside and let us take care of him and love him no matter what, and walk into the unknown of giving up control.

I don’t think it comes natural to us to walk brave- until we’re faced with knowing there is no other way. He’s back home and we are given opportunities every day to choose brave over fear.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us that they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not get weary and they will walk and not faint.

Keep walking my friend- walk brave.

Happy Friday y'all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kendall Grace is Three.

Today's post is all about our baby girl.

We've all heard the phrase- "If I'd known grand kids were so much fun, I would've had them first"

If you aren't there yet, I'm sorry.  You may still be like, seriously?

I totally get it now. It's true.  Sorry Shayne, Elijah and Isaiah.

There is just something awesome about watching, playing with, loving on, feeding whatever you want including chocolate milk and gummy bears anytime day or night, spoiling rotten, buying clothes she may only wear once and then- sending home a squeezable, loveable human being- that I am not responsible to raise.

We met her the first time when she was about 8 months old.  She didn't like us, at all.  She cried when we talked to her.  We fell hard.

She wasn't quiet two when her mommy married my son, and she officially became our first granddaughter.  By this time, she had branded her place in our hearts and we were starting to find a place in hers.

They say you don't find love, it finds you.

Kendall- you are an amazing little person. I know all grand children are the smartest ever, but you amaze me with your extensive vocabulary and understanding of things beyond your years.  There's so much about you that I absolutely adore, but here's a few of my favorites.

  • You refuse to wear anything in your hair (except that one day when you were being like Delaney) so your oh so shiny locks are almost always in your face- you could care less. And when I tried, you looked at me like I had lost my mind for thinking that you would ever. So yes, I'm wearing the cute headbands and clips for you.  
  • You love to be barefooted, and haven't yet met a surface that could slow you down or sway you from ditching your shoes - you have to have the toughest little feet ever. If you want to get away, just head for the gravel when I am barefooted, and you'll definitely leave me in your dust. 
  • You enjoy girly things, painting your toenails, playing in my jewelry, high-heels and makeup= to name a few, but getting into mine is your favorite.  You make my heart happy when you insist that you sit on my lap and we put makeup on together. 
  • Gardening.  I plant the flowers, you pick them.  But you following me around when I'm working in the yard, with your own gardening set and water bucket is one of my favorite things.  One day, you'll get the water on the flowers and not the sidewalk, rockers, driveway, dirt, mulch and your Mommy's feet.  Until then, just keep following me around. 
  • Kitchen time.  You enjoy helping me bake cookies and cupcakes and whatever else is being mixed up.  And oh my,  we are in trouble when you can't find your stool. You find new and exciting uses for my kitchen gadgets and utensils, so I'm always learning from you. 

I love how your 's' comes out as a 'd' and never will we forget your infamous "kuuuk" at us when you get mad, or embarrassed.

There's nothing like your strong hugs and "I ludge you Grammie"  at the most unexpected times- because it's what is in your heart and it spills out.  I  pray that you never get tired of wanting to come to my house or go "dopping" with me at the "dore,"

You can hold your own with your uncles (who also adore you) which means you can grab a Nerf gun, baseball bat or football and have a blast.

Pappy- girl you have him wrapped. But you already know that, don't you?

Kendall Grace, keep your fire, enthusiasm and excitement for the simple things like sunshine and sand. Keep asking to "pray" and watching to make sure that we do.

Mostly, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who loves you most.

We thank God that love found us in a tiny ball of fire named Kendall, and her Mommy- Emily. We are so blessed to be your grandparents-we

Happy 3rd Birthday, baby girl.

a.k.a. Grammie

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