Books, Books, Books: A September Give-Away

Guys!!!

It’s September, and it’s still too-hot in Ohio for this October-born soul! 82 degrees on September 14th is bordering on “almost unacceptable.”

But hey September, I guess Fall doesn’t officially come for another 8 days and 9 hours, so I guess you have a smidge-bit of time to get your act together!

And while I wait for those cooler temps and colored leaves, I am clinging to God’s promise found in Genesis 8:22…

“While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Friends, FALL will come because God SAID IT WOULD!

And with that beautiful PROMISE in mind, let’s talk about the book I am giving away this month!

So what book am I giving away this month? 

I am giving away TWO copies of God Always Keeps His Promises: Unshakable Hope for Kids by Max Lucado.

And why am I giving away this book?

  1. Because Don is doing this devotional at night with the kiddos (“Daddy’s Devo”) and he is LOVING it and so are the kids!
  2. I think adults AND kids need to know and remember the promises of God.
  3. Knowing and remembering God’s promises (both fulfilled and yet to come) helps root our faith when trials come and hardships abound.
  4. And lastly, I think it’s important for kids to know that their word/promises matter because God’s word/promises matter. God doesn’t speak something that cannot be fulfilled and neither should we. When we are committed to our words/promises, we reflect His image!

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

Since I haven’t read it in its entirety,  let me simply highlight the structure of this really-neat devotional!

  1. The book contains 25, specific promises (from God’s Word) that can be done in one or even two sittings.
  2. Each devotional contains a promise, a Bible story to highlight that promise, verses throughout all of Scripture to reinforce that promise, and then a section that allows kids to think about their promise back to God (in light of His promise to them).
  3. Some of the promises included are: God will work in you; God will meet your needs; God is always with you; God will hear you; and God will make everything new.

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share a promise from God that you are clinging to and claiming and at 10 PM (EST) on Sunday, I will randomly choose TWO of you to win a copy of this devotional!

Happy September! 

 

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9/11: Son, May You Never Forget

Caden,

When we named you, “spirit of battle,” we started praying (even while you were in the womb) that God would do battle for you, and that He would use you to do great battle for Him and His kingdom.

So tonight, as you asked Jesus to save you from your sins, it was no surprise to your daddy and I that it was surrounded by a battle.

But before I write the end of the story, let me start at the beginning.

Tonight started like any other Tuesday evening in our home. Since I didn’t have to work and since we fight to keep the calendar clear on Tuesdays, we had dinner around the table; we talked about our days; we cleaned up; and then you asked your daddy and I to sit and watch a “performance” that you and Evie had created earlier in the afternoon. Tonight, you were pretending to be a professional photographer who was taking pictures of a celebrity (Evie), and you were interviewing her with a variety of questions. My personal favorite, “Why did you decide to wear all blue tonight?”

As you interviewed her, we continued to laugh–marveling at your constant creativity. And we laughed until we were no longer laughing. Why? Because as is also fairly typical, you got upset with your sister’s inability to follow all of the “instructions,” and it only spiraled from there.

What turned into a warning about your tone turned into a consequence. And then the refusal to humbly accept that consequence turned into another one…and another one…and yet another one. There was disobedience, disrespect, and a slew of hurtful accusations you threw my way. Truly, it was a spiral of sin that landed you an early bed time of 6:45 PM.

I was upset, hurt, and incredibly disappointed.

As I explained to you in the middle of your room, I really look forward to these “family nights,” so it broke my heart to follow through on the promised consequence. As I closed your door, I simply said, “Caden, even if I have to put an end to the family time I really love, I love you too much to not follow through.”

Finding your daddy in the kitchen I simply said with weepy eyes, “I can only hope that these really-hard consequences lead to a repentant heart,” and we moved on. Your daddy took Evie out to the playground to play, and I grabbed my phone to return some texts.

But less than 10 minutes later, you came flying out of your room and ran to my side. Wrapping your arms around me, you simply said, “Mommy, I was so wrong. I sinned against you and Evie, and I am really, really sorry.”

Knowing that this was incredibly uncharacteristic of your behavior (usually you simmer and/or boil with anger after the consequences have been received), I knelt to the ground and simply said to you, “Buddy, you need a Savior–someone who can rescue you from these spirals of sin.”

Immediately, tears ran down your face and you said a series of words I will never forget.

“Mommy, I need to ask the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and help me with my sins.” 

Grabbing you into my arms, I asked if you wanted me to get your daddy. Nodding your head up and down, I grabbed my flip-flops and headed for the backyard. Waving my arms and yelling his name, I called for your daddy.

I know there is a good chance you will remember tonight (I can still remember the Sunday afternoon I asked Jesus to save me on my polyester, fuchsia-colored comforter) but just in case you don’t, I want to share a few more details.

Huddled on your blue carpet, you sat in your daddy’s lap, and we held your hands. Asking you why you wanted to be saved, you simply reiterated your need for a helper.

And then very quickly, we rehearsed the truth of the Gospel. Going back and forth, your daddy and I shared the beauty of the Gospel.

We are all sinners, and we all need a Savior.

Being saved doesn’t mean you won’t sin, but it does mean that you’ll have a helper to do battle for and with you against your sin. 

Salvation is something you continue to grow in, and is something that can never be taken from you. 

Asking God to forgive your sins means that He sees the red-blood of Jesus and not the black-covered stains of your sins. 

And then I quoted 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Nodding your head, you cried again. Truly, I have never seen you more broken over your sin. EVER.

Bowing our heads, we held your hands and you prayed…

“Dear God, please send the Holy Spirit into my heart to help me with my sins. Forgive me because I need a Savior.” 

It was nothing long and nothing fancy, but EVERYTHING wonderful.

Giving you hugs, we celebrated your salvation and reminded you that the angels were in heaven rejoicing over a new child of God.

And then your daddy shared the story of the Prodigal Son, highlighting that even though the son had sinned and squandered away his blessings, the father welcomed him home with wide-open arms of grace. Daddy then explained that though there are consequences to our sin, there is also abundant forgiveness and undeserved grace. And then he simply said, “Tonight, we want to show you grace like the father showed the son…like God showed you…and so we want you to put on your clothes and come play at the playground with us. We want this to be a reminder of God’s complete forgiveness…of His unconditional love.”

Immediately, you burst into tears again and simply said, “We all need a Savior.”

Caden Paul, I am writing this on the anniversary of 9/11–17 years since the day the Twin Towers fell in NYC….17 years since your daddy sat in a NJ classroom…17 years since your mommy sat in a PA classroom..17 years since we learned the terrible news of an awful attack…17 years ago when you were never a thought in our minds. But 17 years ago, God knew what would come tonight–what battle He would win.

As is often quoted when talking about that terrorist attack in 2001, “May we never forget.”

Caden, may you never forget September 11th, 2018. 

May you never forget the night the Spirit moved in your heart. May you never forget your recognition of sin and your awareness of your need. May you never forget the joy you found in repentance and the forgiving love you experienced in confession. May you never forget the night (sitting on the blue carpet) when you asked the Spirit to come into your heart and help you battle your sins. And may you never forget the words your daddy rehearsed before your bed time tonight.

“God will win the battle, Caden, and He won the battle tonight. What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good.”

Son, He is faithful to His Word; He is faithful to His promise; and He is faithful to do battle for our souls.

May we never…EVER…forget that.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

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“Jessica, I GROW the Babies.”

Last Friday, I was mad. REAL mad.

Why won’t you just take the stinkin’ bottle?!?! You need to drink it because you need to grow!!!

I was impatient, frustrated, and not very gentle with my tone and actions.

Stomping down the stairs in a flurry of huffs, Caden simply said, “You sound really mad, Mommy. What’s wrong?”

And though it was true that I was indeed “mad,” my pride didn’t like that our oldest son had attached that descriptor to my actions.

“I’m just frustrated,” I huffed.

“Oh. You sounded mad,” he gently retorted.

Refusing to acknowledge my anger, I stormed off to the basement with my anger. Because let’s be honest, loads of laundry deserve ALL our rage.

As I moved the laundry from the washer, I whipped the wet clothes into the dryer. Piece after piece, I slammed into the dryer. And as I slammed, the Spirit started to move.

Jessica, why are you so angry? 

As I let the question simmer in my soul, I knew the answer.

I was angry because I couldn’t control his weight. I was angry because the doctors keep thinking I can. And I was angry because I want to keep trying what the doctors think I can do. 

And so every three hours, I make three ounces and go to battle with a bottle in hand.

For what purpose?

To win a war against the scale! To conquer the chart!! And to please both the pediatrician and the percentiles!!!

And ya know what?

It’s driven me wild!

He needs to grow, they say!

The bigger his heart is, the stronger he will be for surgery, they rehearse!

Feed, feed, feed, they chant.

EVERY. SINGLE. APPOINTMENT. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And so we take him for the weekly weigh-in’s; and we increase the calories (32 to be exact); and we shove, shove, shove bottle after bottle…hour after hour…day after day. And it’s left me both wild AND weary.

Lord, I’ve been dealing with this ever since I have given birth to our now-seven year-old!!! 

Because ALL four babies (some birthed and some fostered) have been at the bottom of the curves–the smallest of the smalls. And ALL four times, I have been through the rigmarole of weekly weights, growth charts, calorie counting, and bone scans of growth plates (Yes, I am serious).

And though I usually handle it well in the presence of the professional–except for that one time when the Pediatrician asked my sleep-deprived self if I was feeding him, and I responded with, “Oh, is that what that hole is for (pointing at his mouth)?”, I usually leave feeling the office feeling discouraged and defeated about the size of my kid(s).

So when Baby #4  was refusing the bottle last Friday afternoon, after refusing the last one and spitting it all over me and the floor, my eldest was right. I WAS ANGRY. 

And as I whipped that innocent laundry into that sock-stealing machine, I heard His voice whisper into the soul of my heart.

Jessica, I can grow him without ALL of the formula and ALL of the calories. Have you asked ME to grow him? 

Tears streamed down my angry and ashamed face.

He was right. He was SO right.

The God who spoke the sun into existence…

The God who parted the wild waters…

The God who closed the mouths of the menacing lions…

The God who rescued the men from the fiery flames…

The God who healed the lame and the leprous…

And the God who raised the dead to life…

is a God who doesn’t need the formula to grow the baby. 

Just as 1 Corinthians 3:7 states, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Did you catch that?

We can plant, and we can water…but God grows! 

We can steward, and we can serve…but God is sovereign!

Shutting the door to the dryer last Friday, I shut the door on my fearful and crazed efforts. And for the next five days, I simply did my part of “planting and watering” (offering bottles and serving calories), and I let it go. I didn’t force it, and I didn’t freak when he refused. I didn’t huff, and I didn’t puff when he didn’t finish. I just did my part, and I asked the Lord to do His.

And guess what?

I wasn’t angry anymore; I wasn’t so scared; and it felt good.

So when the nurse reported his weight this past Wednesday (only five days later), I about fell to the ground when she reported the number.

12.10 lbs.

Friends, Superman grew 8 ounces in 7 days–the most he has EVER grown in a single week!!!

If my jaw wasn’t on the ground, my heart most certainly was.

And because the Spirit is super good at snarky nudges godly promptings, I simply heard, See. I told you, Jessica. I don’t need the formula to grow the baby. 

Dear readers, I don’t know what you’re facing and what pressure you’re dealing with, but can I give a gentle nudge as you steward the things?

Plant the seeds, water the garden, but ask God for the growth! For truly, He is a Creator who knows the needs of His creations! 

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A “WHOA GOD” Story!

Caden and Evie, this is a lengthy story, but the way that God shows up is just “too awesome” to not share. And at the end of this, I will further confirm why I just HAVE to share it with the both of YOU!

So in June, I went to The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis. I had never been to the conference before, but my dear friend assured me that I just “had to go!” Leading up to leaving for the conference, there were a series of “no good, terrible, very bad” things that threatened to keep me from attending that conference. And though I will spare you the details, suffice to say, mommy’s dear friend even said before leaving that week, “I KNOW God wants you to go because the enemy is working so hard for you to not!”

Alas, God won, and I went!

During the conference there are three, breakout sessions that you are able to attend in between the larger, group sessions. I had pre-registered for my breakout sessions months before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that all sessions were still of interest to me. As I walked to #2 of my breakout sessions, I found a crowd of women huddled around the door, listening to a woman who was giving the following announcement:

“Mary Wilson will not be holding her session. Instead, she will be holding a prayer vigil for the man who is threatening to jump from that building over there.”

Pointing to her left, we were able to see (the convention center has a ton of glass windows/walls) a man who was pacing at the top of another tall building. Apparently, he had been pacing for hours, threatening to jump.

As I left the room, I was humbled by Mary Wilson’s willingness to lay aside her “time of fame” to humbly and lovingly pray for this man. As I walked, I prayed for this man, and I also prayed that God would lead me to another session.

Caden and Evie, I tried TWO OTHER SESSIONS but both attempts were unsuccessful.

The sessions were full as I passed room after room in the convention center.

Lord, where do you want me?

As I walked, I found myself back to where I started– outside of the main hall. Not surprising, this room had thousands of open seats.

Leafing through my brochure, I found the speaker and the title of the session.

Being a Titus 2 Woman in a Romans 1 World.

Go ahead and judge me (it won’t be the first or last time you do), but the title felt a little cheesy to me, and I was not particularly drawn to the speaker. However, the Spirit nudged me to find a seat.

As I sat down, the speaker literally starts with the following words:

“Years ago, when I was a new mom, I felt led to find an older woman to mentor me.”

Immediately, my body, soul, and heart cringed.

As she shared her story, I felt as if she was sharing mine.

Why?

Because 7 years ago, after having just given birth to you, Caden, I sat across from a woman at a restaurant (just like the speaker). And with eloquently prepared words, I shared my desire for an older woman to mentor me (just like the speaker). And as I sat across from this woman, a woman who I was sure would say, “absolutely yes,” to my godly request, I found her uttering the words, “Thank you for this offer, but I am going to have to decline.”

As the speaker shared her own shock when she, too, was also declined by her mentor request (hers was over breakfast, mine was over lunch), I felt tears rising to the surface. There were many reasons why I cried as I drove away from that lunch date in 2011. But suffice to say, I  was both hurt and devastated by that decline.

The speaker continued, and I sat.

Lord, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here.

“Ladies, you NEED to continue to pursue being both a mentor and a mentee.”

Feeling anger rise up, I muttered in my soul, “Yes, I get it! But Lord, I am always the mentor. I’ve tried to be the mentee, Lord. I have!” And kiddos, if you could read through the many journal entries found within my prayer journals, you would find those prayers repeated over the years. Over and over again, I would ask the Lord to bring me a mentor. And over and over again, He never answered.

The speaker continued. “Don’t give up! Keep pursuing growth!”

Almost immediately, the Lord brought a woman’s name to mind. And almost immediately, I shot the idea down.

No, Lord. NO! I have met her one time, and I am NOT going to ask her to be my mentor. That is weird.

Again, I felt the nudge.

Pulling a Gideon, I tested God.

Lord, I will ask someone to be my mentor if you show me an older woman’s name/face when I open Facebook.

Grabbing my phone, I opened the Facebook.

And smack in the middle of my news feed was the VERY name and face of the woman who God had already whispered into my heart.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!

Immediately, I closed my phone and turned off my heart.

Nope, Lord. Not doing it. It’s too weird, and I don’t know enough about her.

The conference continued; the conference ended; and I found myself back at the house, sitting at our picnic table and scrolling Facebook.

And as I scrolled on that Sunday evening, the VERY woman appeared in the middle of my news feed again.

Facebook told me she had “changed her cover photo.”

Taking a closer look, I found her cover photo to be of a book–a book that she, herself, had written.

And what was the title?

“When God Says Remember.”

The title held the VERY theme of what I had just shared with a client earlier in the week.

Graciously but truthfully I told the client, “I don’t believe God is a God who joins us in memory amnesia. In fact, I think He calls us to REMEMBER. He wants us to remember where we were…where He has brought us…and how He has delivered us!”

Again, the Lord was stirring in your mama’s heart.

Fine! FINE! I’ll ask her, Lord! 

Crafting a message in Facebook Messenger, because I didn’t even have this woman’s contact information, I shared God’s prompting to ask her to consider being my mentor.

Feeling weird, nervous, and a LOT awkward, I waited for her response…a response that I feared would contain rejection…AGAIN.

Within 24 hours, she responded. Cautiously, I opened the message and read.

And though I can’t remember her exact words, she said she felt humbled by my offer and would be glad to meet with me and talk about being my mentor.

I was simultaneously elated and scared.

So on July 1st, I drove to the local Panera Bread, and met her for the 2nd time…EVER.

She had been an English teacher…so had I. She had married a “Don”…so had I. She had two children (one a son, one a daughter)…so had I. She was an Extroverted-Feeler…so was I. She was an avid reader…so was I. She loved to write…so was I.

And as we talked and as we shared, the Lord only continued to confirm His leading. But when she uttered the following words, my heart stood in a humbled puddle of awe.

“I always felt like I reflected the character traits of a Titus 2 woman, but I have never been asked to be a mentor, and I always wondered why.”

Caden and Evie, this dear woman is 75 years old and for years, she has wondered why no one has ever (specifically and intentionally) asked her to be their mentor.

And God, because HE DOES KNOW…knew that in June of 2018, that this 75 year-old woman (who had been waiting for years) would be asked by a 34 year-old woman (who had been asking for years).

Dear children, HE REMEMBERS. 

And as I write this on August 24th, 2018, I have met with her twice. And this morning, I just finished the book she wrote.

And how does it end?

It ends with the words of Joshua 24, the very words I wrote in a blog post that I wrote here this past Sunday, August 19th.

And what does she say as she ends her book with the words of Joshua 24?

Sandra Harner admonishes the readers with this:

“We have a responsibility to share the memories–to teach our children and our grandchildren–about the way God has worked in our lives…It is important that our children and our grandchildren know what the Lord has done in our lives. We have to keep those stories alive so that they will know the power of God and choose to serve him.”

Caden and Evie, our God is a God who sees. Our God is a God who hears. And our God is a God who both answers and remembers!

May this story, and the many others you hear from the lives of your parents, read within the pages of Scriptures, and experience in your own lives, be a testimony to His un-changing, un-faltering faithfulness. And when you hear, read, and experience these powerful acts of the Lord, may you hide them in your heart and share them with your children and grandchildren.

Why?

So that the nations might know that HE IS LORD.

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” -Deuteronomy 32:7

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My Desire to Punt Our Son and God’s Faithfulness

If I were to talk theology and share Scripture in this blog…without telling you the hard-fast truth about wanting to drop-kick our son because of his incessant refusal to trust in our parental ability to both schedule and manage our time…I would be a stinkin’ phony.

So let me just go ahead and tell you that though I love Jesus, there are also times I want to punt our children the length of 7 football fields. Ya know… 7. God’s number…perfection…completion. Can I get a TOUCHe DOWN with a child through the up rights?!?!

TOUCHE!

Okay. So now that we’ve addressed the ugly-real parts of my heart, let me share what a typical conversation sounds like when we are T-1 hour from any event. ANY event.

Caden: It’s 9:01. We are gonna be late.

Parent: Caden, it’s 9:01. We don’t need to leave until 9:45. Practice starts at 10:00.

Caden: But it’s almost time! We need to get ready.

Parent: Caden, it’s 9:15. We don’t need to leave for another 30 minutes.

Caden: It’s 9:44!!! Hurry, Hurry!!! We’re gonna be soooooooo late.

Parent: You need to stop. We are on our way out the door, and we are NOT going to be late.

Caden: (scrambling for the door while sighing sighs that make one hyperventilate) Okay, okay. We need to go now, though.

Parent: CADEN! ENOUGH! We are the parents, and you are the child. We know how to manage our time, and we know when we need to leave and how much time we have. You NEED to stop.

This happens for soccer practice. It happens with swim lessons. It happens before church. It happens before birthday parties, special events, and every stinkin’ morning before the bell rings for school. AND IT DRIVES US CRAZY!!!

So this week, when we were heading out the door for another soccer practice and another one of these conversations began, I was ready to scream.

But before I could enter into a full-on parental rant about my competent capabilities to get our family out the door in proper time for on-time arrival, I heard our son (while putting on his cleats) whisper the following words:

“Your parents have never been late before. They have always been on time. They know how to tell time, and they will not make you late. They know.”

My parent-self about died in a puddle an ocean of thankful relief.

Standing at the kitchen with a water bottle in one hand and a granola bar in the other, I smiled. Looking in his direction, I simply said, “Thank you for reminding yourself of our track record. I appreciate that.” 

Smiling, our little athlete tumbled out the door.

And as I drove that 8 minute drive to the fields (right on time), the Spirit whispered to my heart.

You know, Jessica…he’s not a whole lot different than you. You question my track record, too. 

Immediately, my thoughts went to Joshua 24, a passage I have recently been studying.

Gathering the people together, Joshua is reminding God’s people of His track record of faithfulness.

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel…I took your father Abraham from beyond the river…I gave him Isaac…I gave Jacob and Esau…I sent Moses and Aaron…I plagued Egypt…I brought you out…your eyes saw what I did in Egypt…I brought you to the land…I gave them into your hand…I destroyed the people of the land…I delivered you…”

Walking through His faithfulness, God reminds the people of what He has done for them.

Why?

Because He’s getting ready to send each of the 12 tribes to their allotted land, and He’s calling them to remain faithful to Him as He has been faithful to them. The Lord knows what lies ahead (troubles, trials, and whole bunch of idols), and He wants them to rehearse and recall His faithfulness.

And what do the people say in response to God’s recounting of His faithfulness?

“For it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.”

They remind themselves of His faithfulness. 

As I sat at the field watching our son practice, I couldn’t help but reflect on the many times I focus on my present troubles, my pressing hardships…neglecting to remember the track record of my faithful God.

I see the busy schedule, and I gaze on the many appointments.

I face the difficult conversations, and I flinch at the conflict.

I encounter the roadblocks, and I face the unknowns.

The list seems so long and the hours seem so short.

The tasks seem so big, and my strength seems so small.

I worry; I wrestle; and I walk the weary road.

And as I walk, sometimes I forget.

And when I forget, sometimes I doubt.

And when I doubt, I embrace my fears.

And when I embrace my present fears, I neglect the track record of His past faithfulness. 

And just like my son, I (too), need to say to myself, “Jessica, your heavenly Father has never let you down before. He has always been faithful. He knows what you need, and He is capable. He will not falter, and He will not forget.”

Jen Wilkin writes in her book, In His Image…

“Because of God’s limitless power and unshakable faithfulness, the hope we have in Him is hope with certainty. We do not hope in His promises with our fingers crossed behind our backs. Rather, we hope as those who know He has certainly been faithful in the past and will certainly be faithful to the end.”

Friends, Joshua was 110 years old when he spoke the words of chapter 24 to the people of Israel. And as he stood on that mount, reminding the people of God’s faithfulness as they got ready to dwell in the land, I can’t help but wonder if Joshua wasn’t also recalling the words spoken by the Lord in chapter 1—words that were spoken years BEFORE they had even entered and conquered the land.

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous…do not be frightened , and do not be dismayed. for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:5-6, 9

Brothers and sisters, I don’t know what you’re facing, and I don’t know what you’re fearing, but could I suggest you start from the beginning and walk the road of His faithfulness throughout your life?

As God did in the book of Joshua, may you remind yourself of the many, mighty ways where God has shown up and shown off, and may you cling to His faithful track record as you face both the present and unknown fears.

For truly, we can trust because His track record is 100 % faithful. Not once has He not delivered and not once, will He not. 

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Books, Books, Books: An August Give-Away

Friends!!!

Before you know it, pumpkins, cider, football, and colored leaves will be upon us!  Okay,  okay. So maybe we don’t actually want them on us, but you know what I mean!

This girl loves me some fall in temperatures and some fall of leaves, so I am counting down the days until fall! 15 days to be EXACT!

And it just so happens that the book I am giving away this month reminds me of fall. 

Amber, Russet, Auburn, and Carnelian colors don the cover of this lovely book! Yes, yes…I indeed googled the “colors of fall” and loved every single second of my autumnal search!

So what book am I giving away this month? 

I am giving away TWO copies of In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin.

And why am I giving away this book?

  1. Because I read her book, None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us, and loved it.
  2. I am finishing one of Jen’s Joshua studies (You can download her studies and podcasts for free; just google it!) and am currently in the process of doing an Exodus study of hers. Jen is truly a wonderful communicator of God’s Word!
  3. I love how she takes the Truths of the Word and packs it into short, concise, easy-to-digest chapters for this busy mama/professional.
  4. I absolutely adore that she tackles the ridiculous notion that “knowing the will of God” is equated with “making the best, earthly decisions.” And instead, she offers the Gospel-centered Truth that to “know God’s will is to love Him and reflect Him.”

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book?

“Without meaning to, we can begin to regard our relationship with God primarily as a means toward better decision making…but if Scripture teaches us anything, it is this: God is always more concerned with the decision maker than He is with the decision itself…which brings us to the better question…not ‘What should I do?’ but ‘Who should I be?’…if we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self…what does it profit me to make the right decision if I’m still the wrong person?”

So how can you win a copy of this book? 

In the comment section below, share a book you have recently read (that you think I should read, too) and at 10PM (EST) on Sunday, I will randomly choose two of you to win a copy of this book!

Happy soon-to-be-FALL! 

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Son, Fear is a Lying Bag of Bones

Caden,

There’s a good chance you won’t remember last night. And that’s perfectly okay. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t top your list of “Most Memorable Nights,” and I can understand that, but I don’t want you to forget the words I shared last night and the talk we had.

Last night, I didn’t plan to spend 42 minutes of my evening counseling you (after a full night of my own clients), but God had different plans.

As I dropped my leather bag and grabbed for a bag of peanuts, I heard your door open,  and I saw your big, scared eyes.

Coming at me, with your arms extended, you simply said, “Mommy, can I have a hug?”

Now I realize a request for a hug might seem like no big deal for some, but for you…that’s BIG DEAL STUFF. You’re not the hug-ie, touch-ie kind (never have been and maybe never will be), and that’s okay. So when you were headed my way with arms opened AND eyes wide, I knew something was amiss.

Immediately, as soon as we embraced, the tears started flowing down your tired, little face.

After a few minutes of consoling and a tad bit of “mama-translating” (interpreting through the sobs), I was able to draw out the reason for your fears.

“I’m scared someone is going to break into the house and steal me.”

Attempting to get to the bottom of this seemingly, out-of-the-blue fear, I asked you several questions. One of which was, “Does this have anything to do with Mommy explaining what an Amber Alert means?”

With big eyes, you quickly nodded.

After explaining in more detail what an Amber Alert usually means and the difference between that and someone snatching a soul out of a wooden bunk-bed, your tears seemed to ebb, but your fears weren’t budging.

“But I’m still scared, Mommy. I’m still really, really scared. I can’t get it out of my head…it keeps coming.”

With you cuddled on my lap, we talked about the author of fear. We talked about the enemy who loves to tell lies that make our souls scared. We talked about fear being like a balloon and the lies being the air that makes our “balloon fears” big–threatening to “pop” us.

We then talked about truth and about the author of truth; we talked about our Father who loves us and who desires Light and Truth for our minds; and we talked about the importance of using the “pin of Truth” to pop our “balloon fears.”

We talked about having fears but submitting them to Truth; we talked about taking back the power from the lies; and we talked about fear squeezing our joy and crushing our peace.

We talked about the Truth setting us free, and we talked about the lies holding us captive.

And we talked about the importance of letting our feelings guide us without giving them permission to drive us.

As I laid in your bed, gently rubbing your forehead, we practiced our breathing.

“Breathe in Jesus, blow out fear.”

“Breathe in Truth, blow out lies.”

Over and over, I repeated these words.

As I stopped talking, you continued to breathe; I continued to breathe.

And before we both knew it, your little eyes had settled and your little arms became limp.

Finally, at rest…you were; we were.

As I mentioned at the beginning, sweet boy, you may never remember August 1st, 2018, but I want you to remember the Truths we rehearsed on this night. And as you re-read this letter (maybe not for years to come), I want you to practice living these Truths…rehearsing them…and claiming them with authority when the fearful lies threaten your peace.

And I also want you to know, dear boy of mine, that as I helped you breathe in and breathe out, I was breathing in and breathing out WITH you. Truth be told, I needed the rehearsal of Truth just as much as you did.  Though our fears looked different as we lay huddled in that bed, their threats inflated the same kind of “threatening balloon” that was attempting to squeeze our joy and crush our peace. Because fear, son, though 1 or 100…doesn’t discriminate based on age.

Oh, and one last thing.

Your face this morning, as you walked from the bedroom and into the light of the morning, was absolutely priceless. With victory written all over the sleepy-lines of your face, we met in the bathroom and rejoiced.

“He won, Caden. Truth won! Fear lost, and the lies were crushed!”

You smiled; I smiled; and we embraced in a hug.

For truly, buddy, Fear is nothing but a Lying Bag of Bones!

Love,

Mommy

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

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