Tag Archives: authenticity

Tuesday Talk: A New Beginning

A solid, purposeful communityoften accomplishes more than just one person alone, doesn’t it?

And this blog has been a little emptier lately, hasn’t it?

Photo Credit
Since my son’s medical issues began capturing much of my brainpower and my littlest was born, I’ve continued to write here and there (and here), along with some extra writing projects. But fewer words seemed to be right for this space with you all.

I prayed about what to do with this space.

And I think I have a new direction.

The Idea

This blog will still hold book reviews (which are so dear to my heart) and Five Minute Friday posts and short bursts of inspiration. But I also want this space to continue growing to be less about me, more about community in living, and most about Him.

The Plan

Each(-ish) Tuesday, I will share one or two articles from other blogs to read. (Oh, how I love reading.) Then, I will offer a question about living in faith to spark conversation. Sometimes these questions will be simple or specific to certain audience (example: When our children hear someone else cussing, what’s the best response?). Other times these questions will be hard to answer, many of which I may want to know the answer myself (example: How can we focus on God so deeply we cease to doubt ourselves, which causes us to focus on ourselves?).

Most of all, this blog will be a place for questions (and maybe some answers), conversation, books, and growth.

In the comments on these Tuesday Talk posts, I want to know what youthink. I want to know what you question. I would love for you to reference Scripture (our glimpse of His knowledge), but also I want to hear your heart. These conversations will only thrive if you join in. As a community here, I hope we can encourage, teach, and love each other.

Feel free to link your own relevant blog posts and other articles you’ve read in the comments. (Note: Non-relevant comments and links will be deleted.)

And, because I do love reading (and I hope you do, too), and I want to set the atmosphere from the beginning, I’ll share this post from Michael Hyatt today. Always a good perspective.

(We’ll have a more faith-focused discussion starting next week.)

Our first Tuesday Talk question: What questions about authentically, fully living godly lives do you want to see covered here? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to use them in a future Tuesday post!

God-Sized and God-Focused Dreams

As I venture further (sometimes with unsure hesitation, sometimes with excited boldness) into my call of ministry, I’m seeing the necessity of two big elements: renewal and humility.

I’ve been scared to call this writing ministry a dream. I fear finding out that it’s not my dream to have. Or steward, as is more the case. (No one of this is ours to “have.” It’s all His.)

Honestly, beyond just this writing ministry, I fear all of what I’ve been blessed with disappearing from my life. My family, my fellowship, my ministry. I fear losing it.

There’s two points wrong with that fear… okay, at least three. One, I shouldn’t fear. Plain and simple. Fear lacks trust.

Two, fear halts dreaming. Fear paralyzes and subdues dreams.

Three – another honest kick to myself – when I fear all of this, I’m thinking about me. That’s right. In fear’s grip, I’m thinking about me, not about Him. I’m obsessing on what will happen to me, rather than seeking only His kingdom and not worrying about the rest.

Doodle courtesy of Sara at Gitzen Girl

Here comes that humility. To live out this call to humbly serve, I cannot focus on myself at all. Any God-sized dream (which I think all truthful ministry is, whether preaching, speaking, writing, or just to your family or neighbor or a stranger) calls for that dream to be God-focused. If God places a desire on our hearts, a purpose He has called us to fulfill, then every thought, every action, every piece must be focused on Him and be accomplished for His glory, not our own. (Determining that call is a whole different deal – one that I don’t really know how to clarify.)

Because I am imperfect (flawed, consistently missing the mark), living out any dream requires renewal. If left to my own purposes (and what are they but inwardly focused?), these dreams wouldn’t be fruitful, or even continued. But God graces us with new chances, abounding in forgiveness so that we may renew, refocus, and reapply ourselves to His good will.

So, I’m still learning, still growing, still being refined, still seeking Him, still persevering after these dreams He places on my heart.

And I pray for open ears and a focused heart to hear where He directs me next.

Questions for you: What dreams and desires do you feel God has placed on your heart? What helps you to refocus on Him? If you chose a one-word theme for this year, how is that journey going for you?


*This post is linked up with the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam. Check it out to read other thoughtful posts on God-sized dreams (this week’s topic). 

FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG




And also linked up with Grit and Glory’s one-word posts.


Book Review – You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids by Mary DeMuth

I enjoy reading faith-based parenting books. So, it’s no wonder that I was excited to hear about, receive, read, and now review You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids by Mary DeMuth (Harvest House, reprint edition, 2011).

Mary, a multi-published author and novelist, wields an impressive gift with words. Her blog constantly amazes me and relates to my very core. Her writing stirs up strong emotions with beautiful, gripping images and phrases along with practical application of God’s truths.

You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids begins uniquely with a captivating fictional story, much different from many nonfiction books. But as she starts the next chapter providing explanation, the reader realizes how this story speaks vastly about parenting. Mary explains in the introduction that this book addresses the question, “What is a biblical, timeless view of parenting?” (page 8), especially amongst current cultural changes.

Within the first twenty pages, this book considers and tackles perplexing questions I (and probably most parents) have, especially this: how can I protect my children without making them unable to hand what the world throws at them? How can our children be confident in the world, yet unmarked by the stumbling temptations of the world to be able to courageously share the gospel with all people? I struggle with fear, so Mary’s discussions here are vital to my parenting heart. She discusses the modern to postmodern cultural shift, conversational parenting, humility, and community – all while concentrating on seeking His kingdom.

One of my favorite quotes early on reads, “We must allow them to be children as long as possible, shielding them from adult themes and nurturing their innocence. But like all journeys, the parent-child adventure changes over time. Sheltering gives way to instructing and eventually to releasing” (page 29). Even though my son is young right now, I already know that this releasing taxes me.

Mary blends heartfelt personal stories with research, practical tips from her own experiences parenting, and biblical wisdom and application. She places detail into the personal stories she shares to pull the reader fully into the situation, which helps to better grasp the lessons and truths shared. The result catches your heart and intrigues your thoughts – and then refocuses it all on seeking Him to be able to parent our children.

One of Mary’s main messages (which she carries over in her blog writing) is that parenting (and life) must be authentic – inside and out. Our children need to see the reality of Christ in our lives, not only through words. And we keep that modeling overflow Christ-centered by focusing our hearts on seeking Him first. Mary focuses on living life together, as a family – for Christ. She advocates depending training our children beyond the “have-to” to truly develop a personal relationship with God and delight in Him.

Mary issues some great thoughts and specific parenting tips to create an encouraging atmosphere for our children, but continually points to God’s Word and Christ’s example as the foundation for all of this wisdom. With her honest and relatable writing, I highly recommend this book.

Questions for you: Have you read any of Mary DeMuth’s books? Who is one of your favorite “parenting” authors?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Five Minute Friday: Every Day

Friday seemed to come very quickly this week! (Though I know it came at the same speed it always does!) So, here we are again at Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo from The Gypsy Mama, where we write for just 5 minutes without editing (that’s hard!) or back-tracking. Lisa-Jo’s invitation to you and me: “Wanna just write? Without wondering if it’s just right?”

The topic this week: “Every Day”

START.

It’s so easy to wake up with to-do lists immediately bombarding my thoughts. Or with a tired groan, aching for more sleep.

But when I wake up with a sweet, charming baby boy climbing onto my face (literally climbing on my face!) with those shimmering blue eyes and a genuine smile eagerly being shared, waking up to the “every day” becomes and remains special. (He doesn’t give fake smiles, yet. All emotions he shares are real, sincere. Oh, to be like that!)

It’s so easy to forget that children, a home with walls (a home at all), an abundance of food, loving fellowship – all these every day moments and occurrences are blessings. Blessings not to be taken for granted. Blessings fully given by grace.

My hope, my goal? To stay intentional. Intentional about seeing God’s love and grace in our every day moments. (He’s there in all of it.) Intentional about spreading His love and joy each and every day.

STOP.


This was one of those weeks where I wanted to say more. The words I’ve shared here don’t seem like enough. I love this five minute challenge Lisa-Jo invites us to each week! Join in, won’t you?

Questions for you: What are you thankful for every day? How do you view your every day moments?

On Not Giving Up

Image from http://office.microsoft.com

I’m stubborn. Sometimes too stubborn – an ungraceful stubborn. Sometimes this stubbornness is actually a blessing because it develops into perseverance.

Perseverance. I looked it up on Dictionary.com just to get a specific definition. I’m intrigued by what I’ve found. The general definition: “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state…especially in sprite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” Steady persistence is not our natural, fleshly state. We gravitate to what’s easier, what expends less energy, what comes to us rather than us working for it.

The harder way of perseverance is so much…well… harder. But, it’s often much more rewarding – for ourselves, yes, but also for those around us.

Here’s the “theological” definition from Dictionary.com: “continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.” Wow. Continuance in grace. And it, like all things in Christ, comes back to grace.

This faith, this life with Christ… it’s hard to fulfill. As we’ve discussed recently the truths found in Philippians 2, this call to serve Him includes keeping our hearts focused on Him, not ourselves. In doing so, we search for opportunities to serve others, not ourselves. (Check out expert “connector/community builder” Craig at Deep into Scripture for some thoughts he contributed about this “impossible” call.)

I cannot persevere in this (or anything else) without Christ. But, with Him…

Since we’ve been looking closer at Philippians 2, let’s look a little farther into the chapter. Verse 13 says: for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. God works in us in all we do in His name. The New Bible Commentary applies this verse as such: “We have our part to do, but that is made possible by God’s work in usHe gives both the desire and the strength to do what is pleasing to him” (p. 1254, emphasis mine). Our part: persevere in this faith, act, grow in Him, love. All possible because of Him and for Him.

Persevere. Hold firm. Remain in Him. That’s absolutely something I never want to give up.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. – Philippians 2:14-16a (emphasis added)

(*If you’re interested in studying Philippians in more depth, check out Do Not Depart and their new Philippians study. It just started, so you can still catch up! This post also has more about the study plan.)

Questions for you: How do you discern what to give up or continue in? What does God’s Word teach you about perseverance, especially in faith?


*This post is linked up with the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam. Check it out to read other inspiring posts on giving up or not giving up (this week’s topic).