Tag Archives: incourage

Craving Connection book cover - (in)courage community

Finding Friendship as Adults {Book Review}

When we were young, it was so easy to go up to someone and make a friend, right?

“Hi, wanna play?”

“Sure!”

Boom. Friendship initiated.

Of course there were challenges, conflicts, and collapses, but some aspects of friendship were just easier. When you saw someone every day at school or every week at co-op or every week at art class, you could easily keep up with each other’s lives.

But as adults, it’s not as easy to go up to someone and ask, “Hey, wanna be friends?” (I’ve often considered it.) And the energy it takes to maintain a friendship seems to increase.

But friendship doesn’t become any less important. God made us to connect with others, encourage others, and grow together.

Many writers from the (in)courage community have come together to create a 30-devotion book full of thoughts on connection and adult friendship – Craving Connection (B&H Books, 2017).

Craving Connection book cover - (in)courage community

I remember when I first found (in)courage about five years ago, I felt welcomed. With several different writing styles, experiences, and voices, it could be a place for everyone without judgment and with godly encouragement — and relatable to real-life, which can sometimes be hard to find among devotions. Many of the contributing writers found in this book are the same names I’ve been reading since five years ago — some were blog writers then, some were readers conversing in the comments, and now they’re authors of their own books.

The thirty devotions, written by thirty different authors, share personal stories of friendship challenges and friendship successes and what God has shown them connection can mean in their lives and the lives of others.

The devotions are split into three main sub-sections:

  • Connecting with God More Deeply
  • Connecting with Friends More Purposefully
  • Connecting with Community More Intentionally

Each devotion starts with a focus verse (designed well in a sidebar box), an initial thought to consider, and an action step to create connections in your own life as you read. After the devotion, each ends with three connection questions, a prayer, and an action ‘challenge’ to take what you’re reading and apply it to real life. The book has lovely design aspects with border accents, sidebars, and quote highlights, which help make it a lovely gift book.

With thirty authors, there is definitely some diversity (racial/cultural, abilities, and a little bit of economic) in the book. I feel the book would be able to reach even more people if more diverse backgrounds were included. As a special needs mom, I’d love to see more stories that did touch on special needs go deeper and more opportunities in generally to really look through a window into other perspectives, other voices, and other life experiences. That said, most readers will be able to find aspects of life they can relate to and relate to well. (I did, too.) And you’ll never feel judged reading this book. Instead, you’ll read of ideas on remaining intentional in the hard but needed work of connected with others. You’ll see grace, see the value of connection, and see writers who are growing in life just as you are.

And that’s a gift. I’m thankful for the (in)courage community.

Want motivation to connect more?

(in)courage is hosting 5 weeks of Craving Connection Challenges, starting on February 7th! They’ll share an excerpt of the book and inspiration to complete the associated connection challenge. Read more over at (in)courage!

Craving Connection Challenges at (in)courage

What can you do to support a friendship today? What friendship or community are you thankful for today?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

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Keeping in Community

Community.

Most of the time the word encourages me.

Sometimes the word scares me. (Introverted much?)

When I’m firmly established in a community, I look forward to upcoming interactions, sharing events, and supporting each other.

When I need to join a new community, my insides quiver. What if I fail in contributing what’s needed? What if it’s the wrong community, or I’m wrong for that community?

Beginning a new community is tough. But what about sticking with a community through tough circumstances?

Through changes in leadership?
Through differences in opinions?
Through tragedies to members?
Through disagreements on course of action?

I’ve felt like backing out of a community because I’ve felt so needy and so unable to give, offer, produce. Right now, in this time of emotional and physical need for my family, I feel unreliable to friends, and perhaps even draining those I care about most.

Should I back away to offer the community relief?

Why stay in a community when it sometimes feels easier to leave?


“But encourage one another daily,C)’> our original conviction firmly to the very end.” – Hebrews 3:13-14

We need community. As much as I prefer time just a home with my family, we were built for creating and sustaining community founded on His love and service.

(in)courage, one of my favorite online communities, creates and invites community. Mothers, sisters, wives, friends, strangers. Teachers, stay-at-homers, worriers, adventurers, “good girls,” self-deprecating girls, wanderers. (in)courage welcomes us all and tells us we are forgiven, accepted, loved.


For the second year in a row (of hopefully many), (in)courage is hosting the (in)RL conference – the online conference that comes to you!

Here’s some information from (in)courage about the (in)RL conference:

  • Registration opens Monday January 14th at www.inrl.us 
  • It’s FREE!
  • To get a feel for the atmosphere they encourage, view their EVERYONE’S INVITED TRAILER http://youtu.be/N-5axInVxlw 
  • Everyone who registers on the day registration opens (Monday Jan 14) gets a copy of our (in)courage 365 Daybrightener while supplies last (US residents only).
  • Everyone gets a copy of our first eBook: “Best of the Beach House 2012.”
  • About: (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments at(in)courage craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.
  • Think of it as a FREE girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.
  • When: The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.
  • What: Last year we explored the nitty gritty of community. This year we’re taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient. Women share stories of how they’ve chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they’d cut and run.
I wasn’t able to attend this conference (even from home!) last year, but I plan to this year. And I know I’ll learn, connect, and grow from it. Will you join, too?
What makes you stick with community? How has keeping in community helped you and others more than stepping away?

Reading, Seeing, and Hearing {plus a DaySpring giveaway!}

Jesus calling book ball pen


In the middle of alphabet blocks, board books, undiagnosable conditions, sleepy eyes, and pure joy, I read aloud.

Reading and Hearing God Calling
I see the words, “I trust You, Jesus.” How I wantto always trust.
My son wraps a blanket around his legs. He tosses it around, accidentally flinging it on his sister. He now thinks that’s a fantastic game.

These kids, they trust wholeheartedly. They trust me to care for them and love. For all I know—though they can’t talk about it yet—they trust God wholeheartedly, too.

I call out to my son, “Gentle.” A reminder as he plays with his sister, not knowing his own strength.

Jesus Calling calendar on bookshelf
God calls out to us, too. Calling for us to giggle in happiness as a result of His love, because don’t we know how infectious sharing an honest, joy-filled laugh and love is? It spreads—one giggle to another—as quickly as these babies grin when they see each other in the morning. When they see love smiling straight into their eyes.

So, I laugh, too. And I call out, “I trust You, Jesus.” And I read again, renewing our hearts, reminding again of gentle but fierce love, seeing His beauty in what He graciously places before us, listening for His ever-present call.

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I struggle to read some busy days, but I need His Words and I need the mental refreshment from reading, so I read aloud to and with my kids. DaySpringand (in)courage graciously allowed me a copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and the accompanying devotional calendar. Powerful, thought-provoking, refreshing, challenging, honest. The book for the room, the calendar for the kitchen (or the husband’s office, perhaps?), so I can be reminded of what I read and of His words throughout my day. (The author includes her meditation, which she explains in the introduction, and several verses to reference for more study each day.) Even my son pointed back at the pages, asking me to keep reading out loud while they played.

Jesus Calling book and calendar
DaySpring is offering a copy of this set, the Jesus Calling book plus the 365-devotional calendar, to one of you!

To enter this giveaway, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (If you are an email subscriber, click here to access the giveaway.)

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at the end of the day October 24, 2012 (EDT). All entrants must be 18 years old or older. Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Incomplete entries will be deleted. Once a winner is selected, I will contact them via email. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, I will select another winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: DaySpring sent me these products free of charge in exchange for my thoughts and story. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Love and Strength – A DaySpring Review (plus a giveaway!)

When my mind worries, my heart fears, my body tires, I forget. I forget what is truth.

I listen to lies yelling of my worthlessness and lack.

But, then I read. I read His Word and listen to His heart speaking through mine. And I remember.

I see again His active (always active, though I am not always seeing) hand through His provision, His grace-given peace, and shown through His people.

And I see these reminders sometimes through physical things. Things created to remind, marked by His words. And I remember that we have a loving, strong God who gives His love and strength to us by grace.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you Holley Gerth’s newest book, You’re Already Amazing. DaySpring offers a line of products inspired by that book, full of God’s messaged of love, redemption, grace, and delight in what He created.

bright red Strength block (now adorning my son’s room as a reminder of God’s created) proclaiming God’s strength given to us to share His message reminds me that I am strong in, because of, and for Him. A 6” square signal that can be propped, placed, or tacked to a wall to boldly share His strength.

Loved sticky note set (I do love sticky notes), marked by the message of love God gives to each of us, provides notes of various sizes to leave messages to our loved ones or reminders of our daily needs along with His messages of our biggest need: Him.

The notes (standard sticky note size and smaller) are decorated with designs, muted colors, and messages and verses:

Products that are just things, yes, but remind me of what I need to know (again and again): God loves.

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With kindness and love, (in)courage and DaySpring are able to offer a giveaway to one of you! If you would like to be entered to win a $35 store credit to the DaySpring store, please do the following:

Mandatory entry: Leave a comment answering either of the following questions: How does God regularly remind you that you are His loved creation? What verses speak to you of His love and strength?

Optional entries for more chances to win: (Leave an additional, separate comment for each method you complete!)

  • Follow DaySpring and (in)courage on Twitter, and come back to comment again to let me know you did so.
  • Follow me on Twitter, and come back to comment again to let me know you did so.
  • Tweet about this giveaway (using @Keep_Tha_Faith and @incourage and a link to this post), and  come back to comment again (with the specific tweet url) to let me know you did so.
  • Subscribe to this blog through RSS or email (see the right sidebar near the top), and come back to comment again to let me know you did so.


This giveaway will be open until midnight (EST) on Sunday, April 1st, 2012. The winner will be chosen through Random.org and announced Monday morning (April 2nd). (Shipping charges still apply, and at least a $35 purchase must be made in order for the coupon code to work correctly.) If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.

Disclosure: I received this product free from DaySpring for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review – You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

Have you ever been told, or told yourself, that you are not enough?

Perhaps I should rephrase that question to how many times have you told yourself you’re not enough?

Not enough of a mother (or father).

Not enough of a spouse.

Not enough of a believer.

Not enough of a _______. I can fill in the blank with nearly anything.

Holley Gerth tackles this topic in her new nonfiction book You’re Already Amazing. Holley doesn’t waste time speaking directly to our hearts. She begins pinpointing a common pain among women – that I am not enough. And she counters it with God’s truth—that we’re already amazing because He loves us.

The truth is that we are not enough alone. We are made enough because of Him.

“He doesn’t just restore; he transforms.” – p. 21

Geared towards women, Holley shares her own struggles along with examples from others and honestly voices that she is still-in-progress, too.

“You are enough because I [God] am enough in you.” – p. 103

Sprinkled with her always-encouraging poetry, Holley who we are as women following Christ, why we often discount ourselves, and how we can freely serve by resting in His love. Short tools and questions are incorporated throughout the chapters. I especially appreciate how easily Holley weaves these tools into the chapters with such natural flow and transition. Doing so didn’t interrupt the reading or content. A “Go Deeper Guide” is included in the back of the book with deeper, longer study question. All these questions help to further personalize the material through individualized reflection. These tools also showcase Holley’s background in counseling.

Holley also doesn’t sugar-coat the truth. She shares that we are already amazing in Him, but that doesn’t mean we remain stagnant or unchanged. This truth only inspires us to continue to grow to be made more like Him. Holley repeats several phrases throughout the book because they bear repeating and we need to hear these truths again and again.

“You are not enough… in me you are so much more.” – p. 39

If you need encouragement in your life as a woman living for God, You’re Already Amazing can provide just that.

Question for you: What nonfiction books have you read lately that encourage?



Side note: Ever wonder what really constitutes as a workout? Join me over at The Homeschool Village today for a discussion on the anatomy of a workout!

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated are my own.