On the Way Out: June 2014

Have you ever looked back over a period of time and been so happy to see it go?

That’s how I’m currently feeling about June.

June was a tough month.  The chemicals in my brain have decided to flip out and I’ve been having to deal with my panic disorder for most of the month.  It’s exhausting and discouraging, especially when I give it to God in prayer and it seems like He is doing nothing to help me.

I want to share with you all of the books I read this month, but I didn’t read any.  I haven’t watched anything new.  I feel like my time is consumed with just trying to get through each minute without an attack.

The month wasn’t a complete wash. God opened two specific doors of provision for me and I’m so very thankful for that.  I just wish His timing in coming to my aid in regard to my current situation was faster and perhaps more in line with my timing.  But I know there is a purpose and that He will work all things for my good.  So I’m clinging to that.

Most used gif in June:

 

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21 Days of Rest – Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Getting to read and review newly published books is a great perk of blogging (if you’re into it).  When I found out that Bonnie Gray had a book about rest coming out in June I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a group that would read, review, and promote the book.  Bonnie is best known to her readers at the Faith Barista, blogging at faithbarista.com – check her site out.  It’s pretty sweet!

I was happy when my copy of Bonnie’s book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, arrived in the mail.  I took it lovingly from its media mail envelope, knowing that it was a special book.  As I flipped through the pages I saw two words that sent chills down my spine: panic attack.  I immediately closed the book and put it on an end table farthest from where I had been sitting.  I froze for a minute thinking:

How am I going to participate in the promotion of this book if I’m too afraid to read it? I cannot deal with reading about someone else’s anxiety right now.  Not with my own anxiety and panic disorder striking me blows recently.  How am I going to do this???

About 7 years ago I experienced my first panic attack.  It was random.  I was alone in my own home, sitting on my couch.  Suddenly I felt that my breathing had changed, shorter intakes, mind racing.  It wasn’t long before I called 911.  After months of doctor visits and examinations I was diagnosed with panic disorder.  Panic attacks were frequent in those early days, leaving me scared to be alone, to go out, to eat.  All praise and glory to God those attacks became fewer and farther between, but they still come at times.  Especially when I am busy and spending lots of time in God’s word reading and studying.  I had just had a panic attack 3 days before Bonnie’s new book arrived.  I honestly didn’t know if I could pick it up and read what she had to say, even though the topic of the book is rest.

As you may have guessed I did sit down with Bonnie Gray’s book.  And I will be blogging over these next 21 days about my encounters with her writing and, most importantly, how I made room for spiritual whitespace.  Whitespace is the blank page.  Where some look at the blank page with boredom or trepidation, artists see whitespace as beauty. (p. 31)

It is the key element of design that gives balance to a composition, transforming a cluttered collection of objects into an aesthetic expression of what we do see. (p. 31)

Balance. Making beauty out of the clutter.  That clicks with my soul.  Bonnie points out -

My soul isn’t designed to be cluttered. It longs for space to taste beauty. To breathe. It’s always wanted what God intended for me. My soul was designed for spiritual rest: spiritual whitespace. (p. 31)

Yes. Perhaps in my busy, cluttered existence I’ve reached a fever pitch inside that triggers my brain and systems to fight for rest, instead driving me into severe anxiety…irrationality.  I want to make room for spiritual whitespace.  I want rest with God.

Finding your whitespace is daring to discover the places in your heart that are virgin, tender, soft, untraveled, wounded, or broken-so Jesus can make those places yours and his. (p. 32)

This.  I want to be open to Jesus’ invitation to rest with Him.  Let it be, Lord.

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Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too.  You can get a copy HERE.

June Goals

  • Participate during the month of June in the promotion of Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace
  • Get thee to the gym
  • Read 5 books
  • No social media on weekends, from Friday bedtime until Monday morning
  • Make my first meatloaf for Dad for Father’s Day

On the Way Out: May 2014

Forgive me, but this is what I automatically think of with May:

For the record, I love the original cast recording of Camelot. I do not like the film adaptation.

Now that that’s cleared up….

:)

May was a bit rough around the edges.  I always struggle with the onset of warmer months because I’m a cold weather lover.  Warm weather upsets my stomach, I get sunburns, and bugs are in abundance.  Not my favorite, but you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve been given, right?

I’ve been even deeper into the Bible during May and have loved it! My anxiety attacks also hit a fever pitch the last two weeks of the month and I honestly think they are related to my spending time in God’s word.  I’m pretty sure it’s spiritual warfare.  So if you think of it your prayers for me would not be wasted.  I just finished Kay Arthur’s study, Lord, Teach Me to Pray. I also completed Beth Moore’s study on Deuteronomy titled The Law of Love.  Both were fabulous studies and I highly recommend them both.  I gained insights from both that I had not considered or seen before, things I will carry with me for the rest of my life!

I did just a bit of reading during May.  I think I hit a wall with my reading, but I’m making a comeback.  Read in May: While We Were on Fire, Love/Skip/Jump, Living So That, The Walking Dead Issue 127, How to Manage Your Mouth

I’m ashamed of myself for my viewing habits in May, but I will share with you anyway for the sake of honesty.  I have been sucked into watching The Only Way is Essex on hulu.  Yes.  Reality TV from Great Britain.  (hanging my head in shame) It’s not a show I would recommend.  I will say it’s like The Hills just a bit racier at times.  Aside from that I haven’t watched too much in the way of TV shows or movies.  I’ve been catching up on the latest episodes of Guiliana and Bill.  I also watch the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County the day after it airs.  I obviously have a thing for “reality” TV.  In the meantime, poor Philomena has set on my TV console all month long.  I got it from Netflix, but just haven’t watched it yet.  I will…eventually.

Our art museum reopened this month!!!! The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of my favorite places in Norfolk.  Their collection is pretty fab and it’s free admission! But it had been closed for over a year for renovations and updates.  It finally reopened and the way they have sorted out some of the galleries is very nice.  To top that off we had the rubber duck art installation floating out front of the museum (it sits on an inlet of the Elizabeth River)!  It was a huge attraction and I’m so glad my niece and I got to go and see it together!

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I don’t have any updates on goals for May because I didn’t set any.  I started the post and never finished it.  Perhaps I needed that break.  But I will be back with June goals on June 1st. :)  In the meantime, here’s my most used GIF from May:

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Later, May! Bring it, June!

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Deutoronomy: The Law of Love

I don’t normally post a follow-up blog post when I finish a particular Bible study. Even if it’s a good study I will just sit and ponder on the things learned and keep it to myself. But I couldn’t do that with my most recent study. Yesterday I finished Beth Moore’s study on portions of the book of Deutoronomy titled The Law of Love. The Holy Spirit so opened my eyes while studying this book that I just could not keep it to myself. This is not a review, but I will say if you can get your hands on the book and the DVDs and feel that the Lord is leading you to dig into this book a little bit, then DO IT. I purchased the book and DVDs as a set when they were published and they had sat on my shelf ever since until recently. I think some study is meant for specific times in our lives. I believe in being in God’s word every single day. But sometimes I think He leads you to dig a bit deeper in a specific book or passage or subject. When I grabbed it off of the shelf I knew it was time for Deuteronomy.
Let me just interject here that when I started my Bible reading plan on January 1st I just knew in my head if I could get past the Pentateuch I could do the thing. Can anyone else relate to that? I mean sometimes it feels like trying to walk in deep mud when I read through a book like Leviticus or Numbers or I read verse upon verse of genealogy. So I feel like I did kind of absentmindedly read through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy just to get through them. So to pick up and study one of those books and to have my eyes opened to things I have passed over time and time again was precious to me!
After going through this study I agree with Beth Moore. God’s law is a law of love. It was never meant to be this crushing thing that we as believers in Jesus looked back over and thought, “Poor them!” No! Those commands. Those blessings and curses. They were all out of love and for the benefit of His people that HE LOVED! So I’m walking away from this with a whole new way of looking at and approaching the book of Deuteronomy. It’s not all ponies and rainbows. But it’s filled with God’s love. So filled!
I’ve included a picture of my Bible below. These markings were from just 2 sessions. I mean God was showing me stuff!
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Some things I will take away from this study:
1. God loves His people! He loved them then. He loves us still. I needed this reminder. Moses made sure to remind the Israelites of this as he was about to die and they were about to enter the land that God had promised them – Indeed, He loves the people! All Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they assemble at Your feet. Each receives Your words. (33:3)
2. Moses was passionate about the Israelites surrender and submission to God. I believe Moses’ words apply for us today as well. From the pages of God’s word he pleads with the all believers – Choose life so that you and your descendants may live! (30:19b)
3. I will be forever changed by God’s tenderness toward Moses. This one that He kept safe in the basket in the water. This one that He spoke to in the burning bush. This one that obeyed Him and did marvelous signs and wonders for Him. This one who disappointed Him in his anger, who was disciplined by not being able to enter the land of promise. That God had him go up Mount Nebo and get a panoramic view of the Promised Land before he died is just precious to me. He didn’t get to go in with the people, but He got to see it! Not only that but Moses died right there on that mountain alone with God. And God was the One Who buried Moses in the valley. This gives such a beautiful picture as I wonder if God carried His precious servant and minister down from the mountain to the valley to bury him in a secret place. God’s love for us who belong to Him just takes my breath away.
Spending time in God’s word is a never a waste. If we ask Him He will give us the want to get into His word and He will open our eyes and our understanding. Read the Bible.

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Read the Bible

I don’t get a kick out of being bossy or preachy.  So if that blog title sounds that way know that I’m not hitting you over the head with my copy of the Bible.

What I do get a kick out of is reading God’s Word.  It’s been a long road to get here though.

Let me be honest: I’ve never been the queen of having a quiet time.  In fact, “quiet time” makes me cringe.  I get the usage and it makes sense, but I feel that it’s gotten overly-packaged.  It lends itself to being just one more thing that believers have on a to-do list, something that may not get done leaving the person to feel guilty because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) carve out a few moments for that quiet time experience.  I know that’s been me.  Guilty and ashamed I would give up on the idea of the “quiet time” altogether and just go about my life, feeling like I was missing something.

And I was missing something – time alone with God.

I finally came to a point where I stopped calling it a “quiet time” and leaning on it as something absolutely necessary for my relationship with God.  In relationships you spend time together.  There is talking.  There is listening.  Sometimes there is all silence.  Tears.  Laughter.  Honesty. Truth.  It’s a part of a relationship.  Why was I trying to get by without partaking of the very basics of relationship?  I was reading about other people’s relationships.  I was hearing from pastors on Sunday mornings.  But why wasn’t I spending time with God?

Just so you know…God answers prayer.

He doesn’t always answer in the way we want Him to or in the time frame that works best for us, but He does answer.  Praying for God’s will is vital.  If you want to see God work, pray for His will to be done.  If you know Scripture well enough to know the promises of God and what He is capable of, pray to Him about it.  He will show up.  What kept popping up in my mind this morning was just this: God delivers.

I know this for many reasons, but several months ago I began to pray for God to give me a hunger for His word.  I wanted to feel linked to it.  I wanted to experience it as Him communicating with me through the pages.  I didn’t want it to just be a book.  A history.  Some commands.  I wanted it real and personal, up in my face, wrapped around me in an embrace, relationship with God.  And…God delivered.  I can only explain it that one way. Because I’m head over heels for the Bible.  Not that I hated it before.  I’ve been surrounded by God’s Word all of my life.  But right now I need it to be me and God.  I need to talk to Him and listen to Him.  I need to be all in to this relationship that I have claimed since childhood.  I must be changed.  I must spend time with my Father.

There’s nothing supreme about me for wanting to be in God’s Word and that I do it every day.  I have struggled with this for years.  What you need to know is that it is worth your time.  This book written so long ago, it DOES apply to you.  It applies to all of us.  And it is just as applicable today as it was when it was penned for the first time by the very first scribe.  It is used by God to communicate with us.  It is life changing and life giving!  It renews the mind and we are transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.  It is the very best thing and if you’re not reading from it every day I beg of you – READ THE BIBLE!  Ask for God’s help and watch Him deliver!


 

I had the privilege to receive a review copy of the new Study Bible for Women in the Holman Christian Standard Version (HCSB).  I use the HCSB in my own studies.  It’s my go-to version every day.

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It is really well done and full of top notch information from some of the most scholarly women of God.  I have no objections to the men that contributed to my HCSB study bible, but it’s really cool to get the opportunity to study under wise women of God.  And they’re here in this version from B&H Publishing!

This study bible comes in various cover options and there is even a version with index tabs (one of my favorite additions to any study bible).  And it’s absolutely lovely inside!  Take a look at this sample from the B&H Publishing website:

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You can also check out a pdf sample HERE.

This study bible is beautifully done.  If you’re in the market for a new study bible – if you are about to commit to READ THE BIBLE!- this is a great place to start.

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Book Review: Love Skip Jump

I cannot dismiss the fact that God keeps putting books like Shelene Bryan’s,  Love Skip Jump, in my path to read.  I have no doubt He is speaking to me on a very personal level about setting myself aside and serving others.  I was drawn to this book for the title, but primarily for the sub-title: Start living the adventure of Yes.  As intimidating as it sometimes is to open myself up and say, “YES!”, I knew that I would read this book.

Shelene Bryan is a wife, mom, and businesswoman who walked right into adventure when she made a trip to Africa to see if the two children she sponsored really existed and were being provided for.  As you read through her book, you quickly realize that this one trip was the start of her biggest adventures in saying YES to God.  Shelene takes the reader through her work for the needy in Africa, South America, and the poor and homeless right here in North America.  Her story is inspiring and based on the word of God.  Shelene encourages people to let go of consumerism and the so-called American dream and begin to really experience life at its fullest in obedience to God’s call on your life and resources.

Be sure to visit Shelene’s website: Skip1.org where she encourages folks to skip a meal, a mani-pedi, anything to help fund projects around the world for those in need.

 

*I was given a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Book Review: When We Were on Fire

In Addie Zierman’s book, When We Were on Fire, she delves into her past of Church People, the popularity of evangelicalism in the 1990s, love, depression, rebellion, and coming back again.  Zierman is a great writer.  Her writing style in this memoir is unlike any other I have encountered and it really drew me into her story.  I decided to request this book to read and review because I thought I would be able to commiserate with where the author was coming from.  And I did relate to many of the things that she encountered and has endured: the churchy speak, the misunderstandings and the false teachings, growing up in the evangelical culture, wanting to been seen and understood and having no one-especially other believers, depression.  Unfortunately I walked away from this book feeling like parts of it were all wrong.  I can’t say that the author’s life experiences are wrong because only she can fully grasp what she’s been through.  But it feels like she’s just turned herself over to another fad of Christianity in the here and now-this fad of people berating the Church, dragging it and its people through the mud, and then expecting it to come out of it all sparkly and new and changed.  To be honest, the whole throwing the Church under the bus stuff is getting really old to me.  Being a part of the Church I’m completely aware of it’s shortcomings.  I know where it fails and where it has failed me.  I can see all of it’s imperfections and that’s because the Church is made up of imperfect people.  Church will probably never live up to everyone’s hype and I think it’s time we stop expecting it to.  I think Zierman is brave for writing about what she’s been through.  But this has just been added to a growing list of “complaining about the Church” books that I will never read again.

Addie Zierman’s author profile

*I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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God Doesn’t Talk Like That

I know that’s a bold claim in that title, but stick with me…

I should have known it was coming. I should have been on the lookout. Whether times are great, bad, or somewhere in-between Satan attacks. Today, he chose to attack me. And not just in regard to one thing. He hit me from almost all sides. He always attacks those who believe.

Read that again and make sure you know it:

Satan always attacks those who believe.

Now be ever so sure of this:

Jesus has already beat Satan. He has lost. Jesus wins. Claim that victory!

After a powerful time of prayer the other day, one like I don’t think I’ve ever experienced throughout my journey with God, the enemy of my soul swooped in…

You need that money now to pay those bills. You’re going to have to ask for it. You’ll get turned in to collections. You really messed up this time.

You should just delete your blog. You’re not doing anything with it. No one cares about what you post.

You’ll probably never teach again. Stop kidding yourself. Don’t bother studying and writing up Bible study material. It will never get used.

Why don’t you have a job yet? No one is going to hire you. If you do find a job you won’t like it. There’s no such thing as getting to do what you love for a living. Those two just don’t mix.

I reached out on twitter for prayer. I felt like I was being pressed down upon like I was being smooshed. I quit reading a book I just started because the author was talking about the money she was using to help people all over the world. I wanted to throw it against the wall because I wish had money to help others. I wish I had money to pay my bills! I felt discouraged and ashamed and low.

Then God spoke to me in the silence. The beauty of spending time alone with God and digging into His word is that He speaks to you, even when you least expect it. He reminded me of all that I read as I studied through the New Testament during Lent. He reminded me of everything I’ve studied on my way through the Bible this year. He reminded me of everything I’ve ever learned about Him in His word and He spoke into my spirit…

All those ideas and concepts that have been battering you most of today, that’s not Me. I don’t talk to you like that. My Son doesn’t talk to you like that. My Spirit that lives within you doesn’t speak to you like that. So stop entertaining those thoughts. Stop taking them to heart. Stop listening to that and start leaning on what you know is truth.

What I know to be true about God and me (and you) is that He loves unconditionally. He encourages us. He is overflowing with good things. He wouldn’t call us to exemplify the fruit of His Spirit if He wasn’t all of those things: kind, gentle, loving, peaceful, etc. God doesn’t shame and He doesn’t put us down. He is a good God. He is a miracle worker. He does the impossible. He is the embodiment of grace. He won’t stop working on us until we are perfectly complete.

So I’m not listening to what the enemy has to say anymore today. I’m concentrating on truth instead.

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On the Way Out: April 2014

April has been month that has left me completely confused. How is it already over? I still feel that there are at least 2 weeks left in this month!

Discoveries-
*I don’t have horrible reactions to tree pollen. But it gets in my throat and makes me cough. Oh, and I don’t like when it gets caked all over my car. Yuck!
*I really can do things when I put my mind to it. My living room and bedroom projects are complete and I’ve managed to not muck them up yet. Yippee1
*As much as I love to read sometimes I need a break…even from books.
*I’m not a cheerleader for trials, but God is revealing more and more to me why trials come and the work that they can do in my life and the lives of those around me.
*The Voice version of the Bible – thanks, Kristen!!
*I hate tornados. This is not a new discovery. But I’m typing this as a tornado is on the ground 2 hours from here in a storm that is heading our way. Boo.
*Wendy Blight’s study, Living So That, is THA BOMB!
*I’m having lots of thoughts about church membership, gathering in fellowship as a community believers, and how God wants to use me where He’s put me. (This will most likely turn into a blog post sooner or later. Stay tuned.)
*My nephew got his first car last month so I’m not driving him to and from school four days a week. And I miss it.
*My niece is my mini-me and I really need to make sure I’m setting the best example for her because SHE. IS. WATCHING.

Books-
Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst (book and member book)
Made to Crave Action Plan by Lysa Terkeurst and Dr. Ski Chilton
Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick
Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
God is Just Not Fair by Jennifer Rothschild
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
A Walk in Jerusalem by John Peterson

I’m currently reading: While We Were on Fire, Love, Skip, Jump, Overwhelmed, Living So That, Lord, Teach Me to Pray

Film and Telly-
Trying to catch up on missed episodes of Resurrection.
So many movies: Captain America: Winter Solider, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (1941), Emma (3 versions), Pride and Prejudice A&E mini-series, 2 versions of Mansfield Park, 2 versions of Persuasion, Rio, Divergent, The Invisible Woman, Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightly), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Update on April goals-
*Definitely met my book reading goal
*God has placed some topics/books of the Bible on my heart as possibilities for Bible studies to write. Still walking through the process with Him.
*Walking goal failed :(
*My bedroom project is complete (except for closets). I haven’t even started on the spare room.
*Not only did I spend a day in Williamsburg, but I also spent a day in Richmond! I love my state!!

Most used GIF-

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Thanks, April! Welcome, May!

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A Late In Memoriam

If you have poked around these parts at all you’ve probably stumbled upon some earlier posts I
did on Shirley Temple movies. I instantly think of my father. If I suggest watching a Shirley
Temple movie he makes a gag face. It’s a given and I deal with it. But the thing about her
movies is this: I can just relax while I’m watching. I know Shirley will always get out of trouble.
She will always draw people closer together. She will sing and dance and those songs will be
stuck in my head for days as I drive the people around me crazy. They are simple and clean
and timeless.
So this is my memorial post to Shirley Temple Black. I know I’m 2 months late. But sometimes
you need a bit of time when it feels like a friend of the family has passed on. Her movies have
been a part of my classic film library for over 20 years. I feel that with her passing another piece
of innocence is lost, at least in the film industry. We may never have those pure and simple
family films again. But I’m so glad that her films have been preserved for future generations.
I’m glad that I’ve shared them with my niece, who also likes them. And even my dad. Because,
let’s be honest, he’s around females all of the time and we kind of run the show. So Shirley gets
popped into the DVD player regardless of the gag face. He’ll lean back in his chair and by the
end of the movie will say, “You know, that’s a really good movie.”
Yes dad. They’re really good movies.

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The Movie Marathon is Almost Complete

When I posted a picture on Instagram recently of the Jane Austen movie adaptations that I own AND that I was going to make that weekend a Jane Austen movie marathon…I’m not sure what I was thinking. These take quite a while to get through! I finished up the most recent Emma and just finished watching Northanger Abbey. I’m not sure I’m up for watching the final film tonight, the most recent adaptation of Persuasion. Although it is my most favorite story of Austen’s. I suppose because Anne marries later than most and beforehand had no options for her future. It’s strung together with bits of hope and I like that.

So it’s been 2 versions of Sense and Sensibility, 3 versions of Pride and Prejudice, 3 versions of Emma, 2 versions of Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and 2 versions of Persuasion.
Phew! I wish I could get paid for this.

How about you? Are you an Austen fan? Do you prefer the books over the film adaptations? Which film adaptations are your favorites? I’d love to discuss this amongst ourselves! :)

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Saying Yes to God

Doing good work for Jesus doesn’t make us special or extraordinary; it shows we’re Christians.

– Kristen Welch, author of Rhinestone Jesus

In her book, Rhinestone Jesus, Kristen Welch begins by painting a picture of her early life that I found to be very similar to my own. I didn’t wear the rhinestone lapel pin, but I had the What Would Jesus Do? bracelet that I wore for a time. I also had a number of “salvation bracelets” that I had made over the years – bracelets made before mission trips to assist me in telling others about Jesus.
Kristen’s story shifts when she recounts her trip to Kenya with Compassion International bloggers. She witnesses first-hand the poverty, the stench, the sickness, the death and it changes her and breaks her apart in the best possible way. She goes back home and says “Yes” to God, which turns into opening a home in Kenya for young pregnant women. She gives an account of the ups and downs they have experienced thus far in this yes journey – things felt in Kenya and things that have affected her family at home. Kristen doesn’t mince words. She doesn’t make this all seem pie in the sky, happy-go-lucky. She’s honest. It’s good work. And it’s hard. Sometimes it’s really hard. But she continuously emphasizes that it’s for God and that she wouldn’t turn back from watching Him move for anything.

I live a pretty safe life. It’s not easy. Somedays it’s hard to be me and to inhabit this life. But it’s safe compared to people just down the street from me. And I wonder what I can do? I ask God, “What have you put within me to do for someone else?”

Perhaps your work for God is raising your littles. Perhaps it’s caring for aging parents. Perhaps it is spent on your knees as a prayer warrior for others. Perhaps it’s going half-way around the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus…or maybe just next door…or down the hall. Kristen Welch speaks a sweet and powerful word in her book that safe faith isn’t enough. But saying yes to God is radically wonderful.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.