Of Mess and Moxie

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Of-Mess-and-MoxieJen Hatmaker is the official BFF to women world wide. Her approachable personality, humor (much of it self-deprecating) and love for Jesus has won her fans and friends from all over the globe.

I first came to love Jen Hatmaker while doing her study “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”. Although I walked away from that book with a whole lot to chew on (only 7 items though. Just kidding….I didn’t do the food part), I really walked away from the next book of hers that I read. “Interrupted” changed my world. By the way, I had one opportunity to talk to Jen in her very own backyard and I choked up like an over obsessed fan to tell her “Interrupted changed my life.” Well, it did but seriously….that’s what I said. Insert a serious eye roll here and pray for a do over someday. Good gravy!

For real though, Interrupted DID change my world. I had just returned from my first international mission trip and my heart was aching for what I saw and for what I left behind. To come back to this world I live in, well it was a lot. Still is most days.

Then Jen penned For the Love and I read it and laughed and did some tearing up, too. Same with this latest release, Of Mess and Moxie. What a fun book. What a challenging book to allow myself and others grace. And what a reminder that “God created us to triumph; we are made in the image of Jesus who has overcome the world.”

Jen gently reminds us that we “don’t have to be who (we) were”. Grace, Sisters. Grace.

The How To sections are enough to make you howl out loud. My personal recent favorite is “How to Organize a Book Club”. Some of my friends and I just started one and it’s been a ton of fun. Because of things like this:

Select a book.
1.  Purchase said book with real dollars.
2.  Place book on bedside table for the next three to four weeks.
3.  Look at book each night with good intentions.
8.  Serve enough wine in hopes that no one will realize you didn’t open the book.
9   Discover that three out of twelve girls read the whole book. Admit that “Book Club” is   an excuse for women to leave their homes and basically drink wine and eat snacks.

Yes….howled because it’s so true!

Jen leads us through some good listening strategies. “We listen sincerely, we don’t just reload while someone else’s mouth is moving”. Ouch. Yes! And useful statements to help create safe spaces:

Tell me more about that.
Tell me how your thoughts progressed in this.
I appreciate your experience with this. I’m listening.

Chapter 10….Makers and Dreamers. One of my favorite essays in this book. You’re going to have to buy it to find out why!!

And to quote Jen one last time…..”So let’s go forth, Moxie Ladies. We have a world to love and a sisterhood to expand, and we’re just the girls for the job.”

This book is for all of the girls!  Enjoy!  #ofmessandmoxie

Denise~

 

BUY Of Mess and Moxie here!!

Jen Hatmaker

 

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My Daughter’s Legacy Review….

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Two separate stories yet intertwined. One current and one from years long ago but both of the women had a heart for Jesus and service. The authors took a sensitive topic (slavery) and gave those affected by it respect and honor. Reading each woman’s challenge of doing the right thing was inspiring. Therese and Nicole lives are very different yet their hearts are connected.  Historical fiction done well.  Therese’s story was written in 1864 and I felt as though I was there.

Slavery in 1864 and former substance abuse in present day. Both are topics that bring many emotions and possibly some triggers to the surface but Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould handle each one with grace and tenderness.

Look forward to reading more from these authors!! An inspiring read when circumstances challenge us.

 

 

You Can Do This….

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IMG_9641.JPGI have complete confidence , O God; I will sing and praise you!
Psalm 57:7

Do I really? Do you? “Complete confidence” is a bit of stretch even on my best days. Tricia Lott Williford invites us to her table. There’s a bouquet of fresh daisies and a cute red mug with white polka dots. And oh, the caramel toffee scones. Can’t forget those. Tricia invites us to her table to talk to us about two things:

Stop being unhappy with ourselves.
Stop second-guessing all of our decisions and commitments.

“You Can Do This” is about being the Confident Girl. Confident in her identity, beauty, intellect, aloneness, surroundings and more. Tricia is the head cheerleader who is the kind girl that brings the team into the fold. Everyone is welcome and in all of her words, she points us to the Head Coach….our relationship with Jesus.

Women take on quite a large role in life. Many are raising children while bringing home the bacon and cooking it, too. Many are fulltime with their children at home, with some longing for adult conversation. Most have many balls in the air and like myself, my juggling skills leave much to be desired.

Chapter 15 talks about vulnerability and the confident girl “choosing” vulnerability. For me, that can be such a tough thing because when you are a strong, mostly confident woman, it seems unnatural to need help. But we all do at one point or another in life. I recall some friends from college gently admonishing me once about this very thing. “Denise, you are always the sounding board for everyone else’s problems, but who do you tell yours to?” Exactly. I didn’t and kept it all in. Grateful now for people in my life I can share openly with without fear of betrayal or repercussions. Tricia talks about needing to borrow other people’s faith, courage and confidence when at one point, hers was all stripped away. For us, as confident women to have people in our corner whom we can borrow from is a goal we should all strive for. The Confident Woman can be vulnerable when her tribe is solid!

Some key thoughts from this fabulous book that is my favorite read of 2017 so far!!

Nobody gets to steal your confidence.

Know how to be alone.

You have the right to feel.

Boundaries are a girl’s best friend.

Be present in this moment.

Choose to not overreact.

You want to read this book. You will glean so much from Tricia Lott Williford and her words. She will feel like a good friend that you are sharing coffee and scones with and she points you straight to Jesus. No detours. No roads that are uncertain. That Confident Woman loves Jesus and helps me to love Him more!

The truth is that when you love yourself, everybody wins.    Tricia Lott Williford

 

Click her to go to Tricia Lott Williford’s Website

Buy You Can Do This HERE!

Five trips in….

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and my prayer was that I would see Guatemala with fresh eyes. I prayed that prayer before we left, each morning as we traveled to Chuluc and each evening as I laid my tired body on the bed at our hotel in Antigua.  Fresh eyes to see what was around me. To not become so comfortable in my surroundings that I didn’t see the needs.

God used first timers to help with that. Children with extra needs were brought to the forefront. Christy is a friend of mine (and the author of my hair color and style) and she went for the first time. Christy brought me to the place of fresh eyes in a way that I welcomed yet resisted.  “We’re doing the best we can” was my cry, but it’s never a bad thing to have our eyes opened to doing more or doing differently.  God used my friend, who is a fresh believer to be a part of my fresh eyes.  #grateful

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Seeing Christy’s son Mason playing soccer…..the entire week….with the children in Chuluc renewed passion. Oh how those boys love playing soccer. And a young man Mason’s age is perfect for that endeavor!

John and Emma were able to meet the young man they have sponsored for three years.  How thankful I was to witness this and to visit Alejandro’s home with them.  The joy in the faces of Father to Father was inspiring.  Emma met her Guatemalan “brother” and the bond was instant. Pure joy!

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As the sponsorship program through Mission Firefly continues, the children also continue to grow and age out of the program.  Some children choose to continue on in school, but the ones who leave age out.  Our sponsor daughter Nancy is 13 and is now working in the fields.  Her present is now her future.

We have two new sponsor sons…Tony and Brando.  We have known Tony’s family for quite a while and enjoy the continued friendship. We met them when they were a family of four but sadly they are now a family of three as Carlos, Tony and Miguelito’s Father and Irma’s husband passed away two years ago.  We continue to mourn the loss of Carlos.

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Brando is our newest sponsor son and we were fortunate to meet his Mother, Olga.  Olga invited us into her home for a visit.  Not sure what we were thinking as we walked to their home without a translator but we were able to sit in her kitchen and communicate with one another in spite of our language barriers.  It was a wonderful visit and God allowed me to use fresh eyes to embrace a new relationship and to appreciate that friendship even if we didn’t speak the same language.  #heartlanguage

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A team of men from our group and the village built 23 beds. These beds went to the most physically needy. The first bed went to Josephina, who struggles with debilitating arthritis.  Fresh eyes embraced her need and witnessed the love that these men had for her as they presented her with a new bed and mattress. #bestillmyheart

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Our first night, we met with our partners from Dallas, Great Commission Outreach.  It had been a long day and everyone was tired and to be perfectly honest, the last thing I wanted to do was go up on the rooftop and spend time with people I didn’t know sharing when it felt as though there was nothing to share about yet.  (Tired can equal grumpy for me sometimes. Many times.)  Well, those fresh eyes were wide awake as the Dallas team shared about their week. They were nearing the tail end as we were beginning so they had stories to share that filled our tanks, made us smile, tear up and revel in what God was doing.  We shared communion together under the stars, worshiping together in song and word and although many of us didn’t know the other, we were brothers and sisters sharing the same heart for a country we have all come to love. Fresh eyes, indeed.

May my eyes never be so sure, so clouded, so conclusive that I don’t see need around me. That I don’t see beauty. That I don’t see God.                                                                                 Fresh eyes always.

Locust Grove Baptist Church   Mission Firefly  Great Commission Outreach

To Notherhood and Beyond!!

My sweet and smart friend has just launched this blog. As a Mom of an adult, I’m so grateful for something like this that will help navigate the sometimes tricky waters in being the parent of an adult! Love!

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These words you are reading on your screen have been a long time coming. I’m a bit nervous but beyond excited to finally get this going. It’s almost been a year since that first “we’re working on it” post.

This post has been prayed for, dreamt about and even agonized over at times. I wanted to choose just the right words that would form just the right message to start this ministry of encouragement out on just the right foot.

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Politics over faith?

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This Presidential election year has brought out the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly.  We have seen sides of people we called friends that have had us holding our mouths wide open with surprise.  We have read countless posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more all giving opinions of the current POTUS.  Of the outgoing POTUS.  Of how people voted. Whom they voted for. Why they voted for said candidate. How moronic one side or the other is.  It has been an exhausting campaign and there is still a sting from all that has been said and done.

As a Jesus follower,  I personally don’t feel that my voice for politics has to be incredibly loud.  Now, this is my own personal opinion and I realize it isn’t shared by all.  So, I sit back and wonder….if we are Jesus followers, is that evident in the way I discuss politics?  Or are my politics outshining the fact that I am a Jesus follower?

Stay with me here!  Look over your posts for the last few months.  Do they reflect Christ?  Are we slamming the side of politics we are not on?  Are we standing up, holding signs about politics? Where are the signs about Jesus?  (not that I’m into that….just a metaphor).

If the loudest and most apparent thing about us is our political stance, then aren’t we missing an enormous opportunity to share the love of Christ?  Do our words contradict what we claim to be saying is wrong with the opposite “side”?

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borrowed from @cleerelystated

 

To me, being a Christ follower and being loudly vocal about politics can cause a direct conflict because when it all goes down to the nitty gritty, Jesus is the King of Kings. How much more beautiful our world would be if we rest in that. If we remember.  If we don’t forget.  When I feel an eye roll coming on, that is what I need to tell myself.  Jesus. Is. The. King. Of. Kings.

Isaiah 9:6  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;                                                              And the government will rest on His shoulders;                                                                                                 And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  

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Photo taken in Antigua, Guatemala

2016 musings…..

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With all of the recent celebrity deaths, people are using social media to talk about how bad 2016 was.  In many ways, there are reasons for “do overs”.  A nasty election tops the bill, shootings, racial disharmony and again, a nasty election.  Several deaths of people that my generation and beyond grew up with…..Prince, Alan Thicke, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Florence Henderson, George Michael and more.  There was much sadness and a whole lot of anger this year.

2016 for me personally brought sadness, hurt, anger too but it also brought much joy.  It was a blended stock pot of the good and the not-so-good. And isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t there good and bad in every season or chapter of our lives?

There’s a Right Time for Everything
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (The Message)

As I look back on 2016, I remember my grief.  Losing a loved one to suicide is beyond comprehension.  And if I allow myself to ~go there~, well, I just can’t.  I’ve chosen to bury the process deep within.  All of us have. It’s too hard for our family.  Grief and sadness and even some anger are prevalent. And the loss still stings greatly.

Business….we are so fortunate to do what we love. They say you are only as good as the people around you and for that, we are pretty blessed. Being a small business owner isn’t easy.  Yes, we escape the games of the corporate world but we answer to many more people in our line of work than most would in an office. People with lots of opinions, good and bad. We’re grateful for both….the opportunity to be affirmed and the chance for growth and improvement.  We do, however appreciate the ones who are nice about it. ~wink~

Friendship….been a very interesting year for this.  While some friendships have ended, others have blossomed and some have been restored.   I have found great love for people whose paths I may not have otherwise crossed if not for ministry and serving together.  I’ve been hurt by people who I thought were friends but I’ve also hurt a friend I care about, too.  Good and bad. Season for everything. Right and wrong.  Black and white.  Or really a whole lot of gray.  I’ve learned that giving people opportunities can come back to bite you in the tush.  That when it comes down to it, sometimes people will take from you what they can and when they are done, they move on.  We have been givers, not takers.  And sometimes it’s hard to remember that just because you care for someone, doesn’t mean they care as much for you. That’s been a very hard lesson this year. But one that I/we have learned from and will move forward with, prayerfully with no bitterness in our hearts.

Family…..always the tricky part of life yet the one certain in life.  Family knows buttons to push but the bottomline with family is that you are blood, you will be there together, through thick and thin and even though you may want to choke the other at times, no one else better try it. Family really is a forever thing and I’m grateful for them all, immediate and extended.

Caregiving….I’ve learned that I can’t do it all.  I am so weary at times caring for my daughter, my Gran, our home, our life and working when I’m able.  So. Weary.  Realizing that there has to be time for self-care and in this next year, I need to figure that out.  I need downtime that is more than escaping to my room and closing the door.  I need a hobby.  I’ve always wanted to take a pottery class.  Lowe Mill, here I come?

Church life….I’ve taken a backseat musically and miss it. But know that I can’t sing just to sing. It has to mean more. It has to be more. I take it seriously and to heart and need more.  Maybe that desire of the heart will return soon. Maybe I will figure out where I belong.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to the signs.

Health….Every year it’s “this is the year” and every year, it’s more of the same.  This year I will try to not repeat that mantra without substance to back it.

2016 my word was present.  I tried to be more present in things, even when my body wanted to lay on the couch.  If someone suggested something, I was in.  If I was involved in something, I was all in or not at all.  I didn’t always succeed but the effort was there.

For 2017 I’ve chosen the word delight.  I want to delight more in my Father.  I want to be delighted by what is happening around me.  I want to feel delight in my husband, my children, extended family.  I will continue to delight in the best gift that 2016 brought us…our Grandson.  My delight will come from things of the Lord.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.  Psalm 35:9

For I delight in your commands because I love them.  Psalm 119:47

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  I Corinthians 13:6

What was your good this year? What was your not-so-good?  Would you have do overs?  And what will you take into 2017 with you?  I’m going for a clear mind and heart, an intentional selection of people to surround myself with, and opportunities to serve.

Starting tomorrow, January 1st? No. Starting right now.

Reaching. Stretching. Growing. Flying.

Denise~

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Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

My friend Ashley said this all so well!!

Ashley Doyle Pooser

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The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I…

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The Mystery…..

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Lacey Sturm is a rocker girl.  She was the front person for Flyleaf and is known for not only her lyrics and rocker voice but that she was an atheist who became a believer.

Her newest book release, The Mystery:  Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers is a story of her life. The good, the bad, the ugly and a bit more ugly.  It’s a story of hope!  Of redemption and of coming out of an ~orphan identity~ that makes us think that we don’t have a Father who loves us and care for us.

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Lacey shares her story and others who are also brave share theirs.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when Lacey showcases one of her Heroes….and they write a letter to the reader.  It’s always written with the thought of what they would tell their younger self and about the hope, grace and love that they have found in Christ. It’s personal and raw….true sincerity.

Throughout Lacey’s journey, she discovers True Love in Jesus Christ.  She allows us, the reader to go on this wild and crazy journey of highs and deep valley lows with her. Lacey is inspiring and her words will encourage you, no matter if you are on the highest hill or deep in a valley in your life right now.

I didn’t know who Lacey Sturm or Flyleaf was before opening the pages of this book, but I’m so glad I got a glimpse into this young lady’s life.  What a journey. What a testimony!

Buy The Mystery Here  #bakerbooksbloggers

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*I received The Mystery in exchange for my honest opinion.