A New Month, A Special Opportunity! #1000Mercies #OYTO

Nov

01

Posted by on Nov 1, 2018 in #OYTO, (in)courage | 4 comments

A New Month, A Special Opportunity! #1000Mercies #OYTO

  Soon enough I’ll share some thoughts about what I learned by writing a book (surprising lessons, by the way), but for now, I’m coming out of my deep, deep book-writing hole to share something that well may be one of those “thousand points of light” President Bush spoke of three decades ago: (in)courage and Mercy House Global are “linking arms to provide a brighter, dignified future for God’s daughters in need.”  We’re looking for 1,000 women to join (in)courage in partnership with Mercy House Global. Please say you’ll join us?   Our goal between November 1st and November 16th is for 1,000 women to donate $15 or more to Mercy House to help provide sustainable, dignified jobs for women in poverty around the world. This is one tiny, practical thing we can each do — in Jesus’ name — to make a huge difference in a woman’s life. If you aren’t familiar with Mercy House Global founded by Kristen Welch, please, please take time to read Changing a Life, Changing the World by one of my oldest blog friends, Mary Carver. You’ll understand why it’s a no-brainer to ask for your support; this is important work making a tangible difference in the lives of those who are impacted.  I’ll have a post up at incourage on Tuesday that tells you a little more about Kristen’s story, but until then I really, really hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about the #1000mercies Movement. The first 1,000 friends who make a minimum $15 donation to this initiative will receive a darling Christmas ornament as a thank you gift, hand-stitched by a beautiful Kenya woman who is part of the Street Hope artisan group. What a lovely token of remembrance. Don’t think you have to wait to put up your Christmas tree to display it, either. To keep Mercy House Global and its important work present in my thoughts, I’ve hung my little ornament on my desk lamp; if I’m not mistaken, my miniature disco ball is casting a thousand points of light in its direction.     This is an OYTO moment, Lovies, it’s time to seize an opportunity! DO let me know if you take part, and regardless, would you consider sharing about #1000mercies with your friends and family? I’m hoping we’ll shatter that $15,000 goal and need to come up with an alternative thank you gift because so many of you say “yes” to this special cause.  ...

read more

Preorder Your (in)courage Devotional Bible & Receive A Free Leather Journal!

Sep

28

Posted by on Sep 28, 2018 in (in)courage, For All Who Wander |

Preorder Your (in)courage Devotional Bible & Receive A Free Leather Journal!

  Hello darlings.   While I’m anchored to my writing desk racing to complete the rough draft of my manuscript for For All Who Wander (praypraypray!), I wanted to let you know the beautiful (in)courage Devotional Bible is available for preorder now! Order by Sunday and in addition to a 20% savings, you’ll receive a leather journal as your preorder gift.   There is nothing else out there quite like the (in)courage Devotional Bible. Here’s why:   There are four cover types to choose from; each is beautiful in its own way on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts, right?  God’s word (CSB version) is the only thing that has the power to transform your heart, but there are extras that make this Bible special: 312 devotions by 122 (in)courage community writers 10 distinct thematic reading plans 66 book introductions connecting each book of the Bible to the whole biblical narrative stories of courage from 50 women of the Bible Journaling space Plus – FREE (in)courage leather journal and so much more They’re also competitively priced on Amazon but you won’t receive the preorder incentive. Would you please consider ordering through one of my links? As an affiliate, I’ll receive a small referral fee, which I plan to pass right along to Compassion International.  (Invite your friends to order through my links, too–please and thank you) DO check out the video below to learn more, and if you click around the (in)courage Bible website, you’ll get to hear from a few authors about why they think this Bible is special. But, please, pop back over here to order your own copy, and a few more for gifts while they’re on sale and come with your preorder gift.    ...

read more

Retail Therapy, Divine Moments, and Imaginary French

Aug

20

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in friendship, Personal | 3 comments

Retail Therapy, Divine Moments, and Imaginary French

It is rare for me to write a blog post these days. Writing a book demands focus and intention and giving my best effort to the words I feel called to write in that space, as opposed to writing in my tiny square of the internet.  But something happened recently I want to remember, and what better way than sharing this happy little story right here?   To say I’m not getting out much these days is no understatement. If I staple my rear to a chair in front of my laptop, I figure eventually the words will come. I’m doing my part as best I can, begging God to lead and inspire me to write the parts of my story that will encourage and extend hope to readers and bring glory and honor to Him. That’s my target; may it be so.   Yesterday, we found ourselves needing to complete a little home improvement project, thanks to an opportunity that left us little choice otherwise. I decided to tag along with Tad when he headed to our local big box hardware store, wanting to spend time with him but also happy for any reason to get out of the house. I may or may not have also been motivated for a chance for a little retail therapy; one of my favorite discount shops is right next door.   Though Tad loathes those kinds of stores, he indulged me a visit. His simple plan was to circle the parking lot until he found a nice shady spot under a tree to wait. This is the love born of 30-plus years of marriage, finding a compromise with which we’re both satisfied.   It was ridiculous, really. I didn’t need anything, I just wanted to look at all the pretty things. I mean, if something begged me to buy it, I would’ve been happy to oblige, but I wasn’t planning on it…I just wanted to lookie-lookie. Even imaginary retail therapy works wonders.   Wandering aimlessly but blissfully happy, I meandered up and down the aisles, ever-mindful of the time. Since Tad was basically a human amoeba floating in a hot asphalt parking lot sea, I moved quicker than I might have otherwise.   About that time, I stumbled across some darling Rae Dunn tableware. Gah–she is an evil, evil temptress, and her creations are kryptonite to me. I want everything she makes. Clever word art is one of my love languages, all the better when it’s pretty and on something useful.   I was lost in thought, exercising admirable restraint while silently explaining to myself why I did not need to buy any of the things, when my subconsciousness heard something not yet detectable to my conscious brain.   “J’adore…”    If you know me at all, you know I speak imaginary French, and J’adore is one of my oft-used phrases. Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard it again and thought, That sounds like something I would say….   Slowly snapping out of my fog, I turned to see one of my very best friends doing her level best to get my attention. We haven’t seen each other in ages, and she had to miss an opportunity just the other day to join a small group we’re a part of, to...

read more

Hero

Jun

25

Posted by on Jun 25, 2018 in Memoir, Mom stuff, Parenting, Personal, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Hero

  I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His skin was the color of summer and youth, beautiful and smooth and the stuff of a 1970-something Coppertone ad, minus a black Boykin Spaniel. This wasn’t his first day at the pool. He couldn’t have been much older than three. His head barely reached the top of the diving board. To reach the platform he had to crawl up the stairs. This one whose smile was permanent fixture already understood joie de vivre. Fearless and free and fueled by adrenaline, he went off the board a dozen times. Increasing courage quickened his pace. He shifted the aim of a spotlight he wasn’t even aware existed. “Hey, watch my Dad!” he called out to the others when his father mounted the stairs. His face beamed awaiting the show, his eyes twinkling love, admiration, and joy. His dad did a one and a half gainer with marginal success. He awarded his approval in laughter and applause, and gleefully asked everyone in earshot, “Did you see my Dad?!” Olympic gold doesn’t come close.        ...

read more

Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

Jun

20

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Faith, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

  Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CSB, emphasis added by me not Jesus 🙂 )   It should never be a surprise when lost people behave like lost people, but it is shocking to my core when those who profess Christ act like lost people. Is it wrong to expect more? Salvation doesn’t guarantee sinlessness, so it’s not that I expect perfection from believers. But it breaks my heart to hear the vitriol spewing from opposite viewpoints of the hot-button issues of our day. Blistering lava destroys what it touches. Pick any comment thread of your favorite news outlet or open a tab for Facebook or Twitter. Why would anyone value what you have to say if it’s mean or rude? Why would I listen to anyone who pummeled me with contempt while trying to make their point? It was disconcerting to me when Tsh Oxenreider, a good friend and trusted colleague, posted a thoughtful and reasonable essay, Child-Parent Separation at the Border and What You Can Do, only to be hammered on Facebook. Those who didn’t agree with her thoughts were angry and loud; when I skimmed comments, no one who disagreed seemed kind. Recently I was startled by the effect of wearing my Kindness is Golden tee shirt: strangers talked to me. No lie, half a dozen people  initiated a conversation with me about what it says, telling me why they agreed with the sentiment, why we need more kindness, or even about similar tee shirts they own. It was weird. Now, granted, I was in a place where I encountered more people than usual (an airport and then hotel lobby with lots of folks taking advantage of a free continental breakfast), but it was interesting to me so many different people (diverse men and women) approached me.   Who knew my tee shirt was an invitation to conversation? I suppose it’s because it demonstrates something important: Kindness is powerful because kindness is an incarnation of love.   When you lead with love, I will listen to you. You have instant credibility with me. When you lead with love, as manifested in kindness, it tells me that you value me, you care about others, you’re listening as well as speaking, and what you have to say warrants my listening…even if I don’t agree. When you are hostile, antagonistic, or condescending, the effect is la-la-la (fingers in ears) I-can’t-hear-you. I don’t even mean to do that; it’s a by-product of being disrespected. In John 13:34-35 (CSB), Jesus could not be clearer:  “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Loved people love people. Could it be that many of us are simply forgetting how dearly we’re loved? Galatians 5 has a compelling passage describing the difference between walking by the Spirit or...

read more

Inspired to Inspire #OYTO

Apr

28

Posted by on Apr 28, 2018 in Art, Do Something!, Empty Nest, Encouragement, Favorite things, friendship, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal | 2 comments

Inspired to Inspire #OYTO

  “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton   I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I’m convinced our lives were better without it overall. We had fewer friends, sure, but they were real life flesh and blood humans who would show up in person at your back door with a meal or a paintbrush or a hug depending on your need at the moment. We trudged to the library and navigated a card catalog to research anything and we had to buy magazines to catch up on the newest fashion or home design trends. Our houses had a whole lot more color before all the home décor and DIYer instagrammers showed us over and over again how beautiful stark white could be. (It is a mystery to me how they can photograph the same room a thousand ways and we like it every time.) You knew what adult America was doing at 6pm and 11pm every night, and if anything happened after that, you could read the news in next morning’s paper, delivered right to your front door.   Amazing.   On the other hand, we never have to be dumb or ignorant for very long. We hear immediately when a Royal goes into labor, gives birth, reveal’s the new little prince’s name. We know the nanosecond a celebrity dies (except for Abe Vigoda who never could make up his mind) as Facebookers or Twitterers race to the internets to offer their public condolences, a thinly veiled ruse to be first in letting you know how well they’re connected, which always strikes me as funny. And it is cool to engage with people you admire, to have an inside glimpse into their behind-the-scenes lives. And sometimes you make a real connection that translates to real life and geography doesn’t really matter.   Social media has it’s lovely sides, too. What we see or read can inspire us to go and do likewise.   Recently, a real life friend of mine I haven’t seen face to face in forever began posting images of watercolors she painted. Oh…my…her work was beautiful and I would have guessed she was an art major before becoming a full time mama. When I asked if she was taking classes, she admitted she was just trying something new.   Well….   Slap me naked and hide my clothes–girlfriend just unearthed an incredible gift.   And here’s the beauty: Rebekah inspired me to try something new because she tried something new.   Right after this, our church hosted a two-night water color class. I signed up immediately. With low expectations, high hopes, and a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach, I walked into class. The first night we were instructed what to paint (a landscape), but the second night we could choose on our own.   I knew exactly what I wanted to paint: fat birds, like my friend, Rebekah.   While my little creations were far from perfect, I absolutely love both! Watching them come to life and at least resemble what I was going for thrilled me. Starting with a blank page and swirling a paintbrush into a little color you create something from nothing.   Painting is magic!   I...

read more

Your Influence Matters

Apr

27

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Art of Simple, Inspiring, Kids, Personal, Uncategorized |

Your Influence Matters

  Green and inexperienced, I was recruited to step into the role of marketing director for a local retirement community. My education combined with a love and natural propensity for those senior than me far outweighed my managerial skillset, and only days after I was hired I found myself in the position of needing to hire a new sales associate. Because I hadn’t interviewed many people at that time – okay, any people –  I read what I could could get my hands on about best interviewing practices and compiled a list of basic questions. Plus, I had been interviewed a dozen or more times, so there was that.   Sifting through a competitive pool of applicants, I selected three people to interview. More than anything I was trying to find a good fit for the role and someone with whom I felt comfortable. We would be working closely together.   I would go on to hire Mary Jane, over 20 years my senior. Time would soon tell she was an excellent choice–professional, empathetic, and, man, she could close a deal.   Over 25 years later, I still remember Mary Jane’s interview, specifically her answer to one question:     “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” Without hesitation she replied, * * * Considering I’m writing about a conversation that took place over 25 years ago, it’s interesting to hear how a interview answer impacted me in such profound ways. Do keep reading Your Influence Matters at the Art of Simple today, and be sure to tell me your thoughts or if YOU remember something someone said forever ago that influences you to this...

read more

First Ask Why || Interview With Author Shelly Wildman & Book Giveaway!

Apr

24

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Book Review, Books, Mom stuff, Parenting |

First Ask Why || Interview With Author Shelly Wildman & Book Giveaway!

  The internet has introduced me to a lot of writing friends, and when they go on to publish a book, I can’t help but stand on the sidelines and cheer. Today, I’m celebrating Shelly Wildman, an internet-turned-real-life friend who has just released a wonderful parenting book: Just Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship. Shelly and I have a lot in common, starting with our age and including each of us having three children. We’ve learned over the years we share a similar parenting philosophy, and when she told me she was writing a book about parenting, I knew it would be one I’d recommend to others. I was right. It’s good, y’all. This isn’t a how-to book, but it lays out a framework for (as I phrase it) parenting “hard and on purpose;” in her case, in particular, with the goal of discipling your children in their faith. Parents of children still living at home will want this book, and it will make a fantastic Mother’s Day gift for anyone in the childrearing trenches. I’m also giving away a copy (comment on Instagram or Facebook). I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the following interview with Shelly; you’ll understand quickly why I regard her counsel and why I’m bossing you to pick up your own copy.   Writing about parenting can be a powder keg—people have pretty strong opinions about raising kids. Why did you choose to write a parenting book?   I kind of feel like I didn’t choose to write a parenting book, but that the book chose me. (Sounds like a scene from Harry Potter, doesn’t it?) I fought writing it for a long time because I knew I wasn’t a perfect parent—I had messed up so many times that I didn’t feel qualified to write this book. I still don’t. But the idea kept nagging at me for so long that I finally felt like God might have been pushing me to do it.   I believe with all my heart that stronger families will make for a stronger society, which is so important today. And I believe that the strongest families are those that have Christ at their center. But so many parents today have lost their focus or their sense of purpose. They spend their time on meaningless, temporal things, when, really, the most important mission field is right in front of them. I’m hoping to encourage parents to look at the bigger picture, to ask why they are doing what they’re doing, and to think critically about God’s purpose for their kids and for their families.   I have three adult daughters now, and my hope is, now that my husband and I have raised them, that they will go out into the world and make a difference. And should they have children someday, that they would also make disciples of their kids. Instilling a Christ-following legacy is important work—I believe it’s THE most important work parents can do—and we’ve got to be intentional about it.   What makes your book different from other parenting books?   So many parenting books are “how-to” books. They seem to say, “Just follow these ten steps and here’s what you’ll get in the end.” But I don’t believe...

read more

Aging and Aquamarine

Mar

29

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in #OYTO, Aging, Encouragement, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 comments

Aging and Aquamarine

  Right now, in this hair’s breadth of a moment, you are both as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you ever will be again.   Interesting thought, isn’t it?   It is not unusual for me to think about time, in general, and aging, more specifically this time of year; March is my birthday month.   Aging comes naturally, but if your wish is to age gracefully, you’re going to have to be intentional.   Aging can be like a riptide, forcing you off course and threatening to pull you under. It can knock you off your feet in a single wave and leave you disoriented and wondering How in the world did I get here?   Neither aging nor aging gracefully are destinations; they’re journeys. One is completely left up to chance, the tail wagging the dog, que sera sera; the other is intentional, contemplative living, controlling and planning for a preferred outcome. The latter  also involves accepting what you can’t control and making the best of it.   A positive attitude ignites your ability to age gracefully; it enables you to receive all of life as this big, incredible, magnificent gift–all of it. That doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship or disappointment. It means you’re better able to navigate those seasons when they arrive.   When I was a kid, choosing a birthday gift for a friend was always easy: something birthstone-related or Zodiac sign-related. That’s so funny to me now; I don’t think I ever got anything related to either of those for gifts when my own children attended their friends’ birthday parties. My birthstone is aquamarine, and I’ve always loved it; it’s one of my favorite colors to wear, clothing or jewelry. Maybe it’s why I long for and love the ocean so, exquisite aquamarine sea. And though I never bought into Zodiac stuff in terms of practice or belief, I know I’m Aries and it’s associated with fire, and there’s something in that I appreciate.   While the four seasons are like my children in that each one is my favorite but for different reasons – I see the signature beauty in each – I find myself thankful to have been born in the spring. Spring is colorful, alive with promise, with hope, with life! Aquamarine finds her way into spring.   Spring holds the darkest day in Christendom and the brightest. Jesus, in full surrender and submission, enduring a gruesome spectacle of death, demonstrating an incomprehensible love, and ultimately conquering the grave and bringing reconciliation of man to God through His atoning sacrifice. Spring is beautiful and reminds me of our hope in Christ.   I am at the age now where milestone birthdays have lost the meaning they do in our youth. Remember when you couldn’t wait to turn double digits become a teenager get your learner’s permit get your driver’s license vote order a cocktail (or beer or wine…) I am at the age now where sometimes, dammit, I have to check the last box. I wish that didn’t phase me, but it does. I’m also at the age where my body betrays me, alternately catching fire or my hair changing color or just plain hurting from sitting too long. Seriously–sitting too long can hurt? Who knew?  ...

read more

How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

Mar

08

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in Compassion - India, Compassion Bloggers, Compassion International, Good causes, Inspiring, Love Gifts, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

I’m sitting at my kitchen table where the sun is piercing filthy windowpanes, a thing I notice in the morning but forget by noon’s shadow. A ladybug sits on the sill, I’m assuming dead. Our home is a death spiral for pretty bugs dressed in red with black polka dots, and I wonder why that happens at the end of every winter. It’s International Women’s Day and I wish I could say I knew that on my own, but it’s the internet that tells me so. I’m stung by awareness of my comforts, my plenty, and my relative wealth, and it brings a sort of shame. Those things have cost me nothing, but in some places in this world even lesser things cost everything you have to give. I’m reminded of a woman I encountered almost nine years ago.     She was striking to me, uncommonly beautiful, obviously haunting. The sun on her shoulders. Her expression, somber yet intense. Her shoes matched her saree. She carried a bucket, soap, cane, and, most important, her dignity. In my trip to Kolkata where I met dozens and dozens of people, hers is a face I always remember first. Whatever her age, she had lived a long, and undoubtedly difficult life, and yet she’s endured. She is not victim. She is an unnamed international woman I celebrate. She lived in a village where Compassion International had a Child Survival Center, a place where mothers and babies receive goods, education, training, and services that contribute to their survival. Shortly after my trip with Compassion Bloggers to India, the child I sponsored left the program. Her mother remarried after the death of her father, and they moved to a location where Compassion didn’t have a local presence. Though I wasn’t able to continue helping her family financially, I’ve never stopped praying for Pinki; meeting her carved permanent residence in my heart.   I often wonder what she looks like now – nine years older – and how she’s doing…how all the beautiful children served by Compassion are doing in India. You see, about a year ago Compassion had to shutter its sponsorship program in India; it was heartbreaking for those involved. After decades of ministry, Compassion could no longer send funds into the country due to Indian government restrictions (read more here). We’ve also sponsored a daughter from the Dominican Republic; this year will be our tenth! She’ll turn 16 in May, and our sponsorship began right after she turned six. It never occurred to me until this moment how long we’ve been blessing one another, and make no mistake: Isaura blesses me with every letter she writes and ever prayer she offers for me and my family. Compassion currently operates in 25 countries and has touched millions of lives since beginning its work in the ’50s. Everything I learn about Compassion only reinforces its impact and value to our broken world. Today (regardless of when you read this), in celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m asking you to make a generous contribution to Compassion International. Get your credit card or checkbook out and start here.   You can make a one-time gift or change a child’s life – and his/her family’s lives – by committing to a monthly sponsorship. It’s up to you. ...

read more