Rosanne Bowman

An Open Letter to Christian Wives or When It’s Time to Get Help

Over the past several months, I’ve listened to various women in various places talk about something disturbing. Usually, it is said in a hushed, shamed voice. Or it is put out in a private social media group, always apologetically, always with a lot of self-blame always with a lot of excuses for the offender. 

In these posts or exchanges, the thing these women are describing is verbal and/or emotional abuse. 

The language that these women use usually places all the blame squarely on their own shoulders. There is a deeper shame that is written between the lines that goes something like, “If only I was more spiritual or a better Christian, this wouldn’t bother me, or this must be my fault or my husband wouldn’t treat me this way.”

This bothers me on so many levels, and I want to say something.

First, let me just say that everyone says mean things to their spouses at times. We all mess up and do things that aren’t kind or in our spouse’s best interests. We are all selfish or discontent at times.

I am not talking about the normal interactions that reveal our broken humanness. I am not talking about the little hurts or upsets that pepper a long marriage.

What I am talking about are words and actions that consistently put down a woman’s mind, body, spirit or emotions.

I am talking about words and actions that consistently, daily grind away at who a woman is and manipulate her view of herself.

I am talking about a husband who regularly hurts his wife with his words, and then blames her for feeling hurt.

Wives, that isn’t okay. It is NOT what God has called men to in marriage, and it isn’t what He has called you to either.

It doesn’t make you more spiritual by NOT holding your husband accountable for his words and actions towards you. 

It’s often difficult when you are in the middle of a situation to realize that what you are experiencing is actually a form of abuse. No, your husband isn’t hitting you or pushing you or physically hurting you, but he is hurting you nonetheless.

And it’s okay – healthy even – to not allow it to continue. Enabling someone to sin against you isn’t loving and it isn’t godly. 

One definition of emotional abuse explains it as, “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”1

Signs of Emotional Abuse

What are the signs of emotional abuse? Any of the following can be signs if they happen frequently.

  • Yelling or swearing
  • Name calling or insults; mocking
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Ignoring and/or excluding
  • Isolating
  • Humiliating
  • Denial of the abuse and blaming the viction

I hope you caught that last one – blaming the victim. This is especially prevalent in Christian circles because men will use Scripture to try to make what they are doing seem okay and then blame their wives for their response to the abuse. After all, the wife is supposed to submit, right?

Here’s the thing, submission has nothing to do with the husband being superior to or acting in a parental fashion. The word submission in the Bible indicates one leader submitting to another. These are two equals with one voluntarily putting themselves under another’s leadership.

I am all about working at your marriage. I am not a proponent of divorce by any means, but I AM a proponent of separation with reconciliation as a goal. I am a fan of speaking to a Christian counselor or pastor with counseling experience to get some perspective on what’s happening. I am a proponent of holding your spouse accountable for destructive behavior towards you or your marriage.

Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Obviously, nobody is going to do that perfectly, and we all need to extend grace to a spouse that messes up as we’d want him to extend that same grace to us.

But if you recognize your husband in the behavior listed above and it is an ongoing, consistent thing, may I encourage you to seek Godly counsel? There’s nothing extra spiritual about being a victim.



My Favorite Books from 2017

I’ve always loved to read. From the time I was a young child, books have been a way to meet new people, explore new places and go on grand adventures.

In 2017, I was lucky enough to find some great books, both fiction and non-fiction. In the non-fiction categories, several of these books made a life-altering impact on me. Under the fiction category, I found several series that were wonderful and had me staying up way too late because I had a hard time putting them down (what every author wants to hear!). Keep in mind, I read a lot of young adult and middle grade novels because that is what I am currently writing. These series might be a great fit if you have tweens or teens in the house. 🙂



The Real God by Chip Ingram

In this book, Ingram starts with several chapters on how important it is to truly know God. He then takes a deep look at seven attributes of God: sovereignty, goodness, holiness, wisdom, justice, love and faithfulness. While most of this information won’t be new for those who have been believers for any length of time, it was a great way to start my year in 2017. I actually spent quite a bit of time on each chapter, devoting an entire week to each one. I know not everyone will want to do that, but this book is such a great way to remind ourselves about who God really is and how He wants us to see Him. I wrote a longer review that you can find HERE.

All Things New by Jon Eldridge

I started the year with The Real God, and All Things New is one of the last non-fiction books I read in 2017. It was like a breath of fresh air. The whole idea of the book is that eternity is not some boring, eternal church service, but life as it was meant to be lived before the Fall. He backs up his thoughts with a lot of Scripture, and it is hard not to find his vision refreshing and invigorating. This is a great read if you are feeling a bit hopeless. I wrote a longer review that you can read HERE.

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen

I had heard a lot about this book from various bloggers. To be honest, I kind of resisted reading it at first because sometimes popularity doesn’t really translate into depth. When I found it on my library book shelf though, I decided to give it a try, and I am so glad I did. Her book points us from the exhausting and often discouraging efforts of striving to do more and be more, to resting in the life-giving reality of resting in Jesus. I wrote down pages of quotes from this book because it has so much truth on each page.

Reading People by Anne Bogel

I am a personality nerd. I have taken just about every personality test given, and I find it endlessly fascinating. I love to know why people do the things they do and why they are the way they are. Bogel goes into the major personality typing systems out there, and then she explains how they work and what they can do for you. I was particularly enthralled with her indepth explanation about the cognitive functions related to the Myers-Briggs types. I had so many ah-ha moments while reading this book. While personality typing is fun for me, it also serves a larger purpose. By understanding how different personality types deal with conflict, why they need alone time or even how they express joy, we can learn to love and get along better with those who are important to us.

Finish by Jon Acuff

This was not a Christian book, but as someone who struggles with follow through, I found this book both encouraging and practical. The book is enjoyable to read just because Acuff is so funny, but he also has a lot of hands-on research to back up his advice. Acuff offers a 30 Days of Hustle program, and when a researcher came to him to ask to study the results, Acuff was surprised at what helped people finish. Things like cutting goals in half, extending deadlines and having fun seem counterintuitive, but actually, they are ways people successfully reach their goals. This is a great read for this time of year when all those resolutions are still fresh.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben

I have always been a nature nerd. When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than to have my parents take me to the local plant nursery so I could wander around looking at all the various houseplants. I even had a bookcase filled with plants, with each shelf hooked up with special lighting. So, the idea that trees in a forest ecosystem can communicate to each other totally caught my attention. While this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I found the ways trees communicate, raise young trees and even sound alarms through their roots absolutely fascinating.


The Ember Falls Series by S.D. Smith

If you love sword-wielding rabbits, this is the series for you! This is definitely a hero’s quest type of story. The series starts with The Green Ember and introduces us to the siblings, Heather  and Picket. The two are living an ordinary, peaceful existence until tragedy strikes their home, dragging them into a much bigger story that threatens their whole world.  The story picks up in The Ember Falls with the kingdom on the verge of war, and Heather and Picket are forced to once again play roles that feel too big and overwhelming for them.

 Fairytale Reform School series by Jen Calonita

This is a fun series that features plucky heroine Gilly. She isn’t bad, exactly, but with five little brothers and sisters, all living in a boot without enough resources, Gilly isn’t above stealing what she needs. She’s very good at it – until she gets caught and sentenced to three months at Fairytale Reform School where all the teachers are reformed villains. She soon finds that there is a battle brewing. The series includes Flunked, Charmed, and Tricked with a fourth installment, Switched coming out soon.

The Secrets of the Pied Piper series by Matthew Cody

There are three books so far in The Secrets of the Pied Piper series: The Peddler’s Road, The Magician’s Key, and the Piper’s Apprentice. Do you ever wondered what happened to the children led off by the Pied Piper? Pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modern-day Hamelin with their father . . . until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land. The series follows the saga of trying to get everyone back home where they belong.
So, what books did you love in 2017? I’d love to hear your suggestions!



Why My Word for 2018 is Trust

When I was a kid, my parents and I went to this place called Word of Life up in New York. They had a day camp for the littles and I loved it!

One day, we went to the beach. The memory isn’t very clear anymore, and I’m sure the folks watching us were being careful, but as I waded out in the shallows, I slipped. For some reason, I just couldn’t seem to get my feet underneath me to stand up. We were in a lake, so maybe the rocks covering the bottom were slippery. Or maybe the current was strong. Most likely, I was just klutzy and uncoordinated. Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t stand up, and in my little five year old mind, it seemed like I was going to drown.

Just when I thought all was lost, my friend June reached down her pudgy hand and yanked me to my feet. I coughed and gasped. I think I probably cried a little bit. When my mom came to get me, I ran to her and told her I almost drowned. The workers, understandably, downplayed this event.

In their eyes, they were probably telling the truth.  It was shallow water. I was probably under a total of 10 seconds (it only seemed like 10 minutes). It probably was one of those things that scared me in much greater proportion to the actual danger I was in.

But it was enough to instill in me a great fear.

My mom, who is also not all that fond of the water, really tried. She took me to swim lessons. These lessons were not a huge success since on the very first day, the instructor – a perky college student – informed us with great enthusiasm we were all going to jump into the deep end from the diving board.

Probably seeing more than one pair of saucer eyes staring at her, she quickly assured us we’d be holding onto a pole and both instructors would be right there.

I don’t know about everyone else in the class, but this did not calm my fears one little bit, and as the lesson time wound down, my anxiety wound tighter.

Way before I was ready, we were lining up behind the diving board. I kept slipping to the back of the line, putting off the inevitable.

The other instructor, noticing my fear, offered to jump with me. On shaking legs, I slowly climbed the ladder after the instructor. Together we put one hand on the handle of the long pole.

“On the count of three,” she said. “One, two, three…”

Instead of jumping on three, I shoved the instructor in and grabbed onto the diving board railing. That was the end of my swimming lessons.

But just because I was afraid, didn’t mean I didn’t want to swim, though.

Over the years, I would go to the pool or the beach or parties, and watch in envy as other kids seemed to have a blast. They would hurl themselves from diving boards, shrieking with delight. They’d zip through the water, playing Marco Polo or tag.

All the while, I would cling to the side of the pool, paddling my feet, pretending I was swimming.

But I wasn’t. I would never really swim, never experience the unique freedom of being in the water until I let go of the side of the pool. 

Enter my dad. He was an awesome swimmer. He could walk across the bottom of the pool on his hands which I thought was the coolest thing in the world. It definitely gave me street cred with my little friends, too. After all, none of THEIR dads could do that.

Instead of making me climb up on a diving board and jump into the deep end, my dad spent many hours with me in the shallow end of the pool. At first, he would keep his arms underneath me as I kicked away. With him holding onto me, the water held no fear for me.

Then he used one arm.

Then he used one hand.

Then, I was swimming across the shallow end with only his finger under my chin.

When he finally took that one finger away, I panicked. I started thrashing around. Immediately, his hands reached out to hold me and my panic went away.

We went back to one finger under the chin for a few minutes until he told me he was going to take his finger off. I protested, but he told me to just watch him. He assured me he was right there. That he could reach out to me at any moment. He would not let me sink, much less drowned.

So, keeping my eyes trained on my dad, I swam the length of the shallow end. You would have thought I had just won an Olympic gold in freestyle when I finally reached the other side – all by myself.

The difference between success and failure in this case was trust. The simple truth was I trusted my dad to protect me and keep me safe. Those instructors, as nice as they were, couldn’t even begin to compare.

This year, the word God keeps pressing on my heart is TRUST.

As I step into this new year, I have a lot of things going on in my life that require trust. From my writing, to my children, to friends and family that are struggling, God is asking me to trust Him.

It’s so easy to say we trust God, but walking it out day by day is a lot harder, isn’t it?

Worries, fears, what ifs – they can all make you doubt. But when I cling to those things, I limit what God can do in and through me.

Sometimes, it’s hard though, to simply trust and obey, though. It feels a lot like letting go of the side of the pool and kicking out to that scary place – the no man’s land of the middle of the pool where there are no sides to cling to. But I will never know the freedom that truly trusting brings without doing that.

Without letting go, you can’t glide through the water; you can’t experience the wonder of flying through the air to land with a splash, and then shoot back to the surface. You miss the joy an exhilaration that comes from just letting go.

So, I am left with a choice to make. I can continue to cling to what feels safe, or I can take God up on His invitation to trust Him.

My choice doesn’t change who God is, but it certainly changes how I live my life. I don’t want to miss out and stay stuck, clinging to what feels safe, while never really experiencing all that God has for me.

How about you? Has God given you a word for this year? I’d love to hear about it!

The Importance of Looking Back

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

The other day, Brody came home and shared that during Bible class they had all taken a Myers-Briggs personality test. If you aren’t familiar with Myers-Briggs, you can check it out here. Basically, it includes four different pairs of traits with 16 different possible combinations.

It’s kind of a joke among family and friends that my oldest, Brock, is like his dad, and my youngest acts just like me. So, it was no surprise that our Myers-Briggs results were basically the same. He is an ENFP, and I am an INFP. The E and I stand for extrovert and introvert. (That basically means that he gets his energy from being around other people, and I recharge by being by myself).

Despite that difference, there are a lot of ways my son and I are alike. One of those ways is that we are both idea-people, with ideas popping up so fast, it’s kind of like whack-a-mole, but with ideas.


Looking Back Isn’t My Natural Tendency

As idea people with lots of different interests and passions, it’s easy to jump to the next project or idea without ever looking backward at all to see what worked and what didn’t with previous things.

This tendency is never more present for me than at the start of a new year. I get excited about all the possibilities, and ideas for projects and goals flood in. This makes things difficult in two ways. First, it’s hard to know what ideas and goals to pick because as I’ve been learning in recent years, I can’t do ALL THE THINGS! The second issue is that I get so excited about what is coming up that I usually forget to take a look behind me to see what I’ve learned, so I can better move forward.

Giving Yourself the Gift of Time

So this year, instead of jumping in with tons of goals and projects the first week of January, I’ve given myself the gift of time – time to sort through 2017 (which was a tough year around here), and look at what I learned. Before stepping into all the new and shiny,  I want to take stock of the old and broken-in and decide what I want to take with me and build upon in the new year.

This is a practice I want to implement in more areas than just new year’s resolutions, though. I did a lot of journaling about what I was learning as I worked my way through the Gospels this year, and I wrote out a lot of my prayers this year to stay focused.  I also wrote down quotes from some of the books I was reading.

Taking the time to look through those journals was eye-opening and encouraging. I was able to see ways that God answered my prayers, themes of what God was teaching me, lessons I’d learned, and wisdom I had read (which would have been lost in the files of my brain probably forever if I hadn’t written them down!).

Lessons from 2017

As I look back at 2017, I’d love to share with you a few key lessons (besides the importance of looking back!) I learned that I hope you’ll find helpful, too.

The importance of writing things down

As I said before, I did a lot of journaling this year, and it was a huge blessing in my life. I tend to process and learn through writing, so writing down what I was studying and learning as I read my Bible helped me to both remember what I was learning and be able to go back to refresh my memory. I have also started to write down my favorite quotes from books I was reading. Since I read a lot, this has been an especially great practice for me, so those little gems don’t get lost or forgotten!

The importance of prayer

It seemed everything I read, everything I heard all pointed to the importance of prayer. I know this seems like a no-brainer to those of us who grew up in the church, but knowing something and doing it are two totally different things. In my quest to understand prayer better, I did a short study on prayer in the Bible. It showed me a few things. First, I found that the prayers recorded in the New Testament had much more to do with others spiritual well-being than their physical well-being. Not that we shouldn’t pray for others physical well-being, but it’s equally, if not more, important to pray for their spiritual well-being, too. The second thing I saw was the importance of being persistent. This is something I struggle with because it feels rude to me, but it’s stressed multiple times with positive results.

The importance of the eternal

I spent much of 2017 reading through the Gospels. For whatever reason, I had kind of resisted studying the them. After all, wasn’t it four versions of the same, exact story? Hadn’t I heard all the stories umpteen times? I am so glad that I overcame that resistance though because God showed me so many awesome things. One of those things was the value Jesus placed on the eternal over the physical. This year was a year of loss for me. I not only lost my dad, but a great-aunt and great-uncle, along with my parents’ best friends. That eternal perspective was a life line during loss.

The importance of doing one thing at a time

In our crazy, busy world, it seems like you have to multi-task to even have a hope of keeping up. What I realized this year is there is no such thing as multi-tasking. In reality, you are just switching back and forth between two or more things. As someone who is easily distracted, this is just a recipe for disaster for me. I have found great freedom and peace from giving myself permission to concentrate on one thing at a time. Try it, you might like it too!

The importance of knowing your limits

In the past year, God has been really teaching me that I can’t do all the things. I know this should be fairly obvious, but I have struggled with over-scheduling myself and being very stressed out as a result. I am the queen of thinking I can do way more in an allotted time period than is remotely possible. Because of that, I have felt a lot of frustration last year. I am also interested in a lot of different things, so I have a hard time saying no to new commitments. So, this year, I’m trusting God that I won’t miss anything important as I limit what I focus on and clear off my calendar.

The importance of anchoring your hope in Jesus

As I looked back in my journal, I saw over and over again that I had doodled the words from an old hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” With everything going on in the world and what was happening in my own, personal world, I realized once again that the only firm foundation is Jesus. It is only through HIS strength that I can do anything at all. It is only through HIS steadfastness that I can have peace in the midst of turmoil.

The importance of planning ahead

I am not much of a planner, and tend to be more of a by the seat of my pants type of girl. I tend to resist planning because it feels restrictive to me, but I am learning that when used correctly, it can offer freedom. By planning ahead, I can eat better, use my time more wisely and be more intentional about spending time with my people. I started work on my first novel in November, and I decided that I needed to do some plotting (planning ahead) rather than just diving in. This has been a refining process and doesn’t come naturally for me, but I believe I will have a much better, richer novel than if I had just plunged in without any planning at all.

The importance of leaving the outcome to God

I don’t know about you, but when God asks me to do something I tend to get all wrapped up in the outcome. As I prepared to speak at a teen conference in the spring, I found myself tied up in knots over how good of a job my words would do. I had gotten caught up in the trap of thinking the outcome was up to me. In reality, all God asks of us is our obedience. He is the one who is responsible for the outcome. I don’t know about you, but that takes a huge load off my shoulders.

So how about you? What did God teach you in 2017? I’d love to hear about it!



Five Minute Friday: INTENTIONAL

Life has been a bit crazy the last six weeks or so, but I am back at Five Minute Friday. If you haven’t heard of Five Minute Fridays, it is where women (and some men too!) from all over the world write about one word for 5 minutes. No editing. No second guessing. Just publishing. You can join in with your own post OR just read others HERE.

The word this week is INTENTIONAL.

Intentional is kind of a buzz word these days, isn’t it? Everyone it seems wants to be intentional – in their parenting, in their relationships, in their faith, in their work, even in their play. People (especially women) have woken up to the fact that they want to be intentional with their time and how they spend it.

I get it. I do. We have one life to live, and we don’t want to waste it. And let’s be honest, if we aren’t intentional about our time, we can waste it, frittering it away on social media or just sort of drifting through our days and letting life happen to us rather than the other way around.

But here’s the deal. As good as all that is (and it is – even the Bible says to use our days wisely), I think it has become another form of perfectionism that can paralyze us from doing the very thing we want to do: live intentionally. 

We can become so afraid that we aren’t being intentional, our schedules can become so rigid there is no room for spontaneity or fun. We can become so “intentional” we end up missing the very people we WANT to connect with on a deeper level because we’ve lost our flexibility.

A case in point – I am a lover of PowerSheets. This is product put out by Lara Casey (you can find the 6 month versions here as the full year has sold out) that helps you do some soul digging work to find good goals. Not the typical New Year’s resolutions that you abandon a week into January, but truly meaningful, good goals that you work on all year long. (am I the only person who feels like they have to accomplish ALL the goals in January?). As a buyer of PowerSheets, I am also part of the Facebook group for the first time this year. I was surprised just how paralyzed many of the women felt – like they were going to do goal setting wrong, like they had to get intentional living just right. Despite the fact that Lara is an active participant in the group and is always encouraging everyone that things don’t have to be perfect, still, getting this intentional living thing right was truly paralyzing to some of these women even with the perfect set of gel pens and planner stickers (yes, these are a thing!).

I’ve been there – so afraid of going in the wrong direction I stayed rooted to the spot.  So afraid of messing up my beautiful goal planner that I was afraid to write the wrong thing. Even though that is what it is for. 

That’s why, this year, I’m going to be intentional about not being perfect. Yep, imperfection is a goal of mine. It’s why I decided to intentionally give myself January to dream and think and plan. I find most of the pressure I live under is put there by me!

If we want to live intentional lives, we have to get past the paralysis of perfection and step into the messy of actually walking it out. 

When Christmas Feels Dark and Hopeless

Is it just me or has 2017 felt like a rough year?

The world has seemed like a darker, harder place this past year. On a personal level, there has been a lot of death in and around my life in recent months.

Since April, my great-aunt and uncle passed away. My parents’ dearest friends both died within months of each other – one in August and one in November. My dad left us in early September. One of my best friends is fighting for her life because after 12 years, her body is rejecting her transplanted lungs. The son she and her husband waited years to adopt will be two in January.

And it’s not just me that death has touched either. Our pastor lost his father only a few weeks ago, and another church member lost her two-year-old grandson after a kidney transplant they never thought he’d live to have. There are so many people I know that are fighting cancer or other scary diseases.

Sometimes life just feels dark and hopeless.

This year, I’ve done a lot of journaling, both in Bible study and in prayer. As I flipped through my journal the other morning, I noticed something.

I do a lot of doodling in my journals and on page after page, I had doodled the lines of an old song. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

That’s not a song I hear a lot anymore, but there it was in my journal. Not once, but many times.

As we come up to Christmas, the story is so familiar isn’t it? In our Bibles, the difference between the last book fo the Old Testament Malachi and the Gospels is a simple flip of the page. But the reality is, that flip of the page represents 400 YEARS of silence from God.

Four centuries of echoing emptiness. No prophets. No messages. No Word of the Lord.

Hope in the Dark

So, when we come to the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35, his faith stands like a shining beacon in what was surely a dark and hopeless time. His faith really was built on nothing less than Jesus – even though Jesus hadn’t been born yet.

Sure, the Jewish people said they were looking for the Messiah, but how many even believed that promise anymore? How many gave more than lip service to something they had waited for, well,  centuries? With no new word to give hope.

What I love about the Bible is that every time I read a familiar story, God shows me something I haven’t seen before. I’ve heard the story of Simeon many times. I’ve read the verses and thought, “Oh, that’s nice.”

But this time around, it brought me up short.

This time the echoing silence seemed to ring in my own ears. This time I could almost taste the dark  hopelessness of a people whose promise of deliverance seemed distant and dim.

Just a Regular Guy

Who was Simeon? Well, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I always thought he was a priest for some reason, but he’s not. He’s just a regular guy.

The verses in Luke say he lived in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. The big difference is he was looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. This was a big deal since the Holy Spirit wasn’t promised to every believer at that time.

In fact, the Holy Spirit had told Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. And Simeon believed him. 

That was the difference about Simeon. He wasn’t just looking for Israel’s consolation. He believed the Messiah was coming. In his lifetime. Even though, the silence to the nation was deafening.

God Sees Our Faith Even in the Darkness

I love that God noticed an individual’s faith and that He blessed Simeon because of it. Yes, the nation was in silent vacuum, but Simeon wasn’t.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (emphasis min) Hebrews 11:6

The Bible is full of the difference individual people’s faith had – Enoch, Noah, and Abraham to name a few.

This story also reminds me that Jesus’ birth was a light during a dark and hopeless time.

I don’t know what is weighing you down today. I do know there are a lot of people who will not find this Christmas season one of joy and togetherness and celebration, but instead will find it hard and lonely and a little hopeless. May I say, Jesus’ birth STILL shines a light, no matter how dark or how hopeless or how silent your world feels right now.



5 Minute Friday – DIFFERENT

Today is 5 Minute Friday. It’s been a while since I participated in this link up, but if you don’t know, 5 Minute Fridays are when writers (mostly women) from around the globe all write about one word for 5 minutes, no editing, no second-guessing, just publishing. You can check it out HERE.

This week’s word is DIFFERENT

The new year, 2018, looms right around the corner. For many of us, that means looking at our goals and dreams for the next 12 months, looking at the ways next year will be different. Whether you go all out with colored markers and a special planner (I use Powersheets), or if you just use a plan piece of paper in a $1 notebook, looking at the ways you are going to make 2018 different is exciting and fun.

But for some people, the ways 2018 will be different aren’t fun or exciting. They are just sad and hard and frightening.

In September, my dad passed away after a 4 year fight with cancer. His birthday was on Christmas Eve. This year, everything will be different.

For my mom, 2018 will be nothing like years past. Not only did she lose my dad, but the couple my parents spent the most time with, both of them have passed away. What was once a happy foursome is now down to one person- my mom. This year, everything will be different. 

A church friend lost twins at 23 weeks. Her plans and dreams for 2018 don’t exist anymore.  This year, everything will be different than what she thought it would be. 

Another woman in our church lost her 2 year old grandchild, after that child had been put on hospice, survived and had a liver transplant. She and her family’s year will be so different than what they had prepared for. 

One of my best friends experienced organ rejection this year – after 11 years of doing wonderfully. She is looking at a second lung transplant in 2018, while caring for her toddler son. I’m sure 2018 looks much different than what she thought it would be even six months ago. 

The year 2017 had a lot of really great things it. I could rattle off a list of blessings and beautiful things, but it also was a hard year. It was a year of saying goodbye to loved ones for so many people.

Yet, in our grief or disappointment over how different 2018 looks to what we had dreamed, our hope doesn’t have to be on what was or what we wish things could be. Our hope is firmly anchored in a God who is never different, who is never changing and always faithful.

This past year, this old song’s chorus has been ringing in my head and sprinkled throughout my prayer journal.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – A Review

We Don’t Always Have to Agree

Several years ago, I read Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, and while I appreciated her story, I didn’t really agree with all of her theology.

So, I didn’t pick up another of her books until recently. I was in the library, and the title and cover of her latest book, Of Mess and Moxie, leaped out at me.

Being Real

It’s interesting because I just finished Jon Eldredge’s book All Things New which was a reminder that this earth is not our home, and we have so much to look forward to in the next. You can read that review HERE.

Of Mess and Moxie is a celebration of the life we are living right now. It is permission to admit that things can be messed up and it takes a bit of moxie to live on purpose and out loud these days.

While Jen and I probably are still not on the exact same page theologically, reading this book reminded me of something. It reminded me that as believers, even if we can not always 100% agree, we can still learn from each other.

This book was laugh out loud funny at times, and honestly, I wish Jen Hatmaker could be my in real life friend. This is a woman who loves Jesus and loves others and does it well.

I particularly loved the chapter on mothering. It seems like moms are under a tremendous amount of pressure in this day (even more than in decades past) to live up to impossible standards. I loved Jen’s fresh take and the permission she gives moms to stop trying to be perfect or to attain these standards that nobody – except on their instagram feed – can possibly achieve.

I found the entire book refreshing and encouraging and uplifting. If you are looking for a book that is real about the mess of life but also encourages you that you live life well and with intention, check this book out!


Why You Need to Fail

I Still Remember My First Taste of Failure

I remember the first time I really felt like I had failed in a big way. I was heading into my senior year, and I didn’t make the cheerleading squad after being on the Varsity for two years.

The worst thing about not making the squad was the total shock. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t make it since the coach kept asking me to demonstrate various jumps and techniques during the tryout period.

I remember staring at the list of those who made it, scanning the it over and over. I was baffled as to why I couldn’t find my name. It took several reads for it to finally sink in. I hadn’t made it.

My senior year suddenly looked completely different than how I had been imagining it.

As I blinked away tears and shrugged on a mask of indifference, my initial sadness was quickly replaced by embarrassment and humiliation. I had failed. I wasn’t a cheerleader anymore.

I had lost part of my identity.

That failure left a lingering taste of bitterness in my mouth, and to this day (I’m 44), I still feel the temptation to try to explain that failure away because it still kind of embarrasses me. Even after all this time, that first taste of failure still stings.

Sometimes Failure Is the  Whole Point

For the past several months, I’ve been reading through the Gospels, and as I came to the end of Luke I came to the familiar story of Peter denying Jesus. I’m sure you’ve heard all the sermons too, right?

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
Growing up in church, I’ve heard a lot of sermons about this particular passage, everything from God’s grace to our fallibility as humans to the fact that satan can only get at us with God’s permission. But there was one thing I never noticed before – Jesus did NOT pray that Simon wouldn’t fail. 
Is it just me or do you find that kind of strange? I mean, wouldn’t it make sense that Jesus would pray that one of His dearest disciples wouldn’t betray Him? Wouldn’t it seem logical that Jesus would pray that Peter would pass the test?

But passing the test wasn’t really the lesson. If you read those verses again, you can see what that lesson was supposed to be: “and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

It wasn’t some kind of huge surprise to Jesus that Peter was going to fail this test rather spectacularly. He TOLD Peter, “Hey, Buddy, I know you have good intentions, but the reality is that you’re going to deny me before the rooster even crows tomorrow morning.”

We Always Seem a Bit Surprised By Failure – But God Isn’t

Peter – the same Peter who a few hours later would whip out his sword and cut off a guy’s ear – couldn’t even fathom denying Jesus. Peter was a fisherman. He was probably big and burly, and he was more than a little rough around the edges. He was probably the guy you did NOT want to pick a fight with. He was brash and impulsive (see the ear thing above). He often stuck his foot in his mouth far enough to choke himself (remember when he rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to die?).

But Jesus knew something that Peter did not. He knew that in order to truly be a servant leader, Peter had to fail and fail big.

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to succeed, but the thing is, as much as we don’t like it, we often learn way more from our failures then we ever do from our successes.

God had big plans for Peter, but He had to get Peter into the right mind set. He had to impress on Peter it wasn’t Peter’s abilities or goodness or leadership skills that were going to make him one of the main leaders in the early church. It was ALL God.

What satan meant for harm, God allowed for Peter’s ultimate good. God allowed satan to sift Peter to get out the bits that were useless.

When farmers process wheat, the first step is sifting it or separating the chaff from the actual grain. The chaff is this kind of dry, scaly stuff that encases the seed or grain. It serves a purpose as the grain is growing, but it’s totally useless and renders the grain inedible once it is time to actually use the grain for food.

It was time for Peter to step to the next level, so God allowed satan to get to Peter. Satan’s purpose was to sideline Peter, but God’s purpose was to soften Peter.

The first thing Jesus prayed for was Peter’s faith

When we fail, it is easy to allow our shame over our failure to keep us from continuing to seek to follow God. After Christ’s death, Peter went back to fishing. He figured Jesus was dead and he was washed up as a disciple because of his failure. Jesus went and found Peter at the shore. He commissioned Peter to go and feed His sheep.

In our own lives this might look like not attending church or not reading our Bibles or praying since, you know, we failed so God must not want any more to do with us.

If that were the case, though, the Bible would be a whole lot shorter. If you comb through its pages, if failure was all it took to sideline God’s saints, there would be precious few on the field of play.

David basically forced himself on another man’s wife and then killed her husband to cover up his misdeeds. Moses killed a man and ran away to the desert, a fugitive. Jacob’s life resembled something out of Jerry Springer with his two wives and their maids. Abraham passed his wife off as his sister and tried to hurry up God’s plan by having a baby with his wife’s maid (and you can see how that turned out!).

Obviously, failure didn’t cancel out faith.

The Second Thing Jesus Did Was Give Direction for After Failure

Jesus told Peter, “and you, once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus knew, not only that Peter would fail, but that he would repent and return from that failure. Peter’s screw up probably gave him a lot more empathy for his brothers and their struggles.

Isn’t it the same in our lives? I remember being a young mother to a toddler son who talked in sentences when he was less than a year old. Not only that, but all I had to do was explain why he shouldn’t do something and he didn’t (of course, I now realize that isn’t the norm!).

I honestly could not figure out what was wrong with other mothers and their bratty kids. I mean – just explain it clearly? How hard was that?

Then I had my second son (you probably see where this is headed), and suddenly, all that false pride I had in my own mothering skills evaporated.

Simply explain why you shouldn’t do something? That guaranteed he’d smile and do exactly that!

Have a reasonable discussion on why he couldn’t do something or have something? He’d throw a flaming fit – usually in public – for maximum mother embarrassment.

I can’t tell you what an unbelievable failure I felt like as a mother as I walked through Kmart one memorable day, while Brody screamed the entire way because I refused to buy him a bouncy ball (because the poor child onlyy had about 100 in his collection).

Did I enjoy these times? NO!

But it certainly taught me a lot. It softened my heart toward other struggling mothers, and allowed me to offer encouragement rather than judgment. It stripped me of my misplaced pride and introduced me to some much needed humility. It made me rely on God for direction and discernment rather than my own perceived abilities.

To this day, I look at my boys and thank God for the work HE has done in their lives. I have a keen awareness that while being a mother brings great responsibility, the outcome isn’t completely up to us. It’s up to God and His plans, His purposes and His timetable.

Failure, no matter what that failure happens to be, has a way of turning our eyes off of ourselves and toward God – if we let it.

I’m not sure what failure you are carrying around with you or how you are allowing it to limit you and keep you from moving forward.

I do know that failure is not a sign that God is done with you. Rather, it might just be a signal that God is preparing you for something way bigger than you can imagine.






Do You Need Some Hope?

Are you feeling a little hopeless lately?

I know I have. This has been a difficult fall. On a personal level, my father passed away in early September after a four year battle with cancer. You can read about that here and here.

While we were in the hospital with him, the country was hit by not one, but two, hurricanes. Wildfires in the West gobbled up land and houses and lives. There have been people killed in mass shootings and by cars used as weapons.

My Facebook feed was full of finger pointing and anger and hostility.

Even as I write this, one of my best friends is slowly losing her lung function to rejection and is facing a second transplant. She and her husband waited for several years to adopt a little boy. She found out she was in rejection a week after they celebrated his first birthday.

It has all felt rather hopeless and overwhelming and I’ve felt the desire to pull inward and hide in my house, preferably with the covers pulled over my head.

Finding Hope In the Pages Of a Book

Then I went to the library (so many good things in my life start with that phrase!), and as I perused the shelves I came across Jon Eldredge’s latest book, All Things New.

It blew a fresh wind of hope into my heart and mind that I didn’t even realize I desperately needed.

The whole premise behind the book is that we, as believers, have only this vague, shadowy idea of heaven, and to be honest, it sounds kind of boring – like an eternal church service or something.

Eldredge argues that our ultimate home is not heaven, but a restored New Earth where the things we hold dear and love will be restored in their true fullness and beauty. He backs up his assertions with a lot of Scripture, and it’s impossible not to catch the vision he lays out.

The idea is somewhat breathtaking in its scope, this idea of hope in the next life that isn’t just vague. I’ve been reading through the Gospels this spring and summer, and just finished up Luke which was the last one on my list (I read Matthew, John, Mark and then Luke for some reason).

One of the things that stood out to me so clearly was that Jesus had an eternal perspective. While He loved people and had compassion on them and healed their physical bodies, He never lost sight of the importance of their eternal souls. This was incredibly fresh in my mind when my dad passed away. (You can read about my thoughts here).

That is not to say, Eldredge is saying we shouldn’t enjoy and live fully in this life, but we’d all be lying (or just be incredibly young and/or inexperienced), to not know that life can be hard and even brutal sometimes. It can definitely wear us down and make our hope seem anemic at best. It can make being intentional in this life seem pointless and without purpose if we aren’t careful.

As C.S. Lewis said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most fo the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of hte other world that they have become ineffective in this.”

If we are going to press on in this increasingly difficult and complicated world, we have to have a clear vision and hope for our future. If we want to make a difference here and now, we can’t lose sight of the then and later.

“Much of the transcendent purpose God has for human life can only be properly discerned in light of eternity.”

Gary Black

If you feel short on hope these days, check out All Things New. I promise you it will breathe new life into your tired and worn out hope!


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