Wednesday, February 18, 2015

He Knows Your Name

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The sharp stare.

The brisk and blatant walk in the opposite direction.

The refusal to make conversation.

A short answer with a jabbing comment.

The "un-friending."

The only one without an invitation.

The plan that fell through, again.

Being written off.

The status you were left out of.

These things happen to me. By different people, for different reasons, but it hurts none-the-less.


My daughter was at a birthday party a few years ago. This would be her first one. She was so excited to be invited she didn't even care who it was. However, what made her the most excited was that it was her very best friend of her class. She picked out a gift and by herself decided that she didn't want to buy a card. She wanted to make a card. On top of it, she wanted to spell, all by herself because they learned how to spell names that week in her class.

When she showed me her card, in her 4-k coloring talent, it was clear she had spelled her friend's name wrong. It was a long name, with two of some of the letters. She missed those, and added some, and other letters were written backwards. I was about to correct her, but the sparkle in her eyes was so immense. She was so proud of herself so I grinned at the cuteness, felt proud that she tried, and kept silent.

The party went well in the beginning. She played with her friends and was having lots of fun. The party went on and we gradually worked our way in to eat and do gifts. When we got to gift opening, it was very apparent that there were three girls who were going to "control the situation." My mom mode clicked on after a while of them pushing girls back, controlling the gifts, and mean attitudes, and I finally told the girls they were the ones who needed to move back and leave the kids alone. Her gift came up and she was so excited. There isn't a font that could describe her glee for her friend to get her gift and card. The girl opened the card and she smiled wide. She said, "Thanks Gracie!" Then it happened.

By it, I mean them. By them I mean, the three mean girls happened.

"That's not coloring. It's just scribbles."
*Gracie's face fell.*
"Yeah, you didn't even spell her name right."
*Gracie looked at her friends card, sadly.*
"Why did you draw the nose so big?"
*Gracie's excitement faded as she took her card and slid it away in the trash pile.*
Her friend chimed in, "Well, I don't care, I like it."
*Gracie smiled, a little.*

My heart... oh, my mommy heart. There was a sob stuck in my throat. It felt like when you swallow bread and it gets lodged halfway down and your milk is gone. My anger was rage. My face was red and eyes were salty. But my heart was broken for her.

As I sat chewing on my angry words and her friend opened the gift (and she loved it, by the way), I watched Gracie. She bounded back with joy. She laughed with glee for her friend. She was making plans for playdates, talking about school, and let the whole incident slide. Needless to say, however, we left shortly thereafter.

We got in the car and my tears came. I had so many things that I wanted to say. It consisted of:

"I am so stinking proud of you for not lashing back. I wouldn't have been upset if you punched their throats."


"Honey, you handled that so well. I pick you. I always pick you. You can spell my name wrong, you can scribble my pictures with noses too big and colors too bold. You can pick out my gift and I will love it. I don't care what it is you are mine and you are my magnificent creation from my womb. I love you. More than my own breath. I'm sorry life is mean. I am sorry that people are mean. I am so sorry that mean people were mean to you. I won't be. You can trust your mom. I love you so much that I would die for you."

Yes. Surely my toddler would understand that.

Instead, when she asked what was wrong, I took a big breath and said, "I am just so stinkin' proud of you."


Fast forward two years later. My daughter still comes home from school with stories about being left out because of her "brown skin, eyes, or hair." She tells me of all the ways she gets left out, or lied to, or made fun of. Then she waits, she stares at me waiting for an answer. She wants me to tell her not to worry. That when she "gets big" like mom then that stuff won't happen anymore.

One thing I cherish with my children is honesty. And I always tell the truth. "Yes, your shot will hurt, but it will make you big and strong. I won't leave you, I will be right here and I will hold you tight." "Yes, you will be scared, but you will overcome it. I will help you." And the one time she asked why she couldn't play with some of her friends anymore I told her. "Their mom doesn't want to be my friend anymore. So, that means making play dates will be extremely difficult and I am sorry for that. But I promise, in life, you will make new friends."

When she looks to me in honesty to ask if people will stop being mean, or leaving her out, or not being nice, I cannot honestly tell her that will ever end. Not until Jesus comes back.

I share with her about how a girl didn't shake my hand in church. On purpose.

About how I was avoided at the store. Like, see me and turn and run. Or the "I will just pretend I don't see her. Maybe she will go past."

How I was not invited to an event that every other mom with young kids was invited to.

How people promise to "hang out sometime," but you know you will never get the call.

The Facebook statuses you never get tagged in. Or the vague one they won't privately email you about, instead making everyone comment on how to deal with "someone of whom you won't name names."

The conversation I was a part of, as a subject, not a converser.

What I cannot be is her standard of perfection. I cannot be her healing. I cannot lie and tell her that people will change when they "get big." But what I can do is point her to the perfector. I can tell her he is the healer. I can tell her the truth that he does heal the "big people with broken hearts."

We all have bullies in our lives. For different reasons. There is one truth I can say. Is that God is the redeemer. He can redeem me, who feels the wounds of others' actions. He can heal others' who have dealt with wounds from me. He can redeem the person who bullies.

Despite our messes, God calls us friend. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friend." (Emphasis mine.) Jesus died for us, not only is He our true love, but He calls us friend. And not one is left out.

He calls us "child." John 1:12 says that if we receive Him, He adopts us as His children. Can you see the beautiful parody of an "unwanted" child becoming chosen and included by adoption into God's family as His child?

He calls us beloved, he calls us His bride, his chosen people...

You see, with God, no one is left out.

I began to get in this trap of thinking that maybe if I was different THEN people would want to include me. I began to think if I got famous and my writing would get published, people would be nice to me. I would be validated. Successful. People would know my name, not just my story.

And the truth is, yes, yes they would. But for all the wrong reasons.

But the beauty in all of it, is that God doesn't just know me by the lies I identify with sometimes. .


Left out.

Written off.


Not good enough.

He knows me by "beloved." Child. Bride. Forgiven. Chosen one.

I am Kirsten. He knows my  name.

He doesn't wait for me to be his standard before he reaches out, he loves me now. People are not perfect. We all have stories. And you know what, God loves our enemies too. He calls us to love them on top of it. They have stories, hurts, and insecurities and it comes out in how they treat people. I will get published one day, but now I want it to be so everyone knows His name.

So hold your head high, sister, because God knows your name too. Look to him for your comfort and you will surely find it there, in Him.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grace From Our Father

Friday, February 6, 2015

John 1:16 "And from his fullness we have received grace upon grace."
My husband's birthday is really close to Christmas. This means, that a lot of the time, his birthday is often overlooked due to other festivities. A few years ago, I worked with our small group men to set him up a random surprise birthday. They would meet early at a restaurant and get a table. I would pretend to "take John on a date," but instead, leave him there for a guy's night. My husband works hard; he deserved a break.


Flash back a few years with me. My dad, is what we call a "blue collar, hard working type of  man." He is an electrician by trade and hunter by hobby. As a young girl, I remember him waking at 4:30 A.M. to brew his coffee and head out the door. The sound of his broken in leather laces being tied up his steel toe boots was like a rhythm to me. "Wisp, wisp, tighten. Wisp, wisp, tighten." I would listen to him pour his coffee into his steel thermos as I would bound up the stairs for a firm, coffee flavored kiss goodbye.

Growing up with my dad had made not so happy memories, too. Since I don't have permission to share his story yet, I will simply share a small portion that is involved with mine.

My dad was angry. A lot. His temper would rage for hours some nights. Sometimes, even if I was in bed at night, I would feel as though hiding in a closet were a better idea. He has a lot he carries on his shoulders, and I see that now as an adult. As a kid, morning was my time with him. I was excited to be all by myself with him in the quiet house as he was getting ready.

He has always sacrificed his wants and desires so that his family of 7 children could have shoes, food, and a house heated through the winter. He has never complained about his worn down boots, his distressed pants, or his well broken in Carhartt coat. If his family had what they needed, he was content.

It wasn't until two years ago my dad finally got himself a newer used truck. A GMC, four doors, leather seats, Bose speakers. It was a salvage title (you'd never tell) so he got a deal on it. Honestly, all of us kids were beyond excited for him and I cried when my sister texted me the photo of it.

You see, now my dad is a grandpa. Watching him with my girls melts me. He is so, so good with them. The rage from my childhood is nowhere in this man. This is because "Papa" met head on with the grace of his Father.

Back to my husband's birthday party.

I arranged for my siblings to come babysit so my "operation take John out to eat" was a go. Everything went wrong from the beginning. John was "hangry," my siblings showed up too early, and I knew that the small group guys usually run behind (they have families, too). My husband began to get really irritated that we were not leaving yet. When we got in the car, I continually kept "forgetting things" so I could run in the house and stall. By the time I got out to the car, John was livid, hungry, and ready to go. The guys wouldn't show up yet for another half hour. I explained we would return a movie before we ate and proceeded to get a grumpy response. Agitated, I whipped the car into reverse, hit the gas, and backed out of the garage briskly...

Right into my dad's truck.

Yep. That just happened. I got out, shaking, to assess the damage. You see, in my agitation, I never even thought about how close my brother would have parked the truck to my side of the driveway. My car was fine but my dad's truck had a dent from the second driver side door all the way down to the back left tire. Panic began to set in. Guilt, stress, and frustration consumed me. I cried, I was shaking, I was beside myself. John said, "Well, there is nothing we can do about it now so lets go eat." I drove him to the restaurant, we arrived before half the guys, the gig was up. I left deflated. After decorating his office for a next day surprise, I went home to release my siblings.

A few hours later, as I was laying awake in bed my phone rang. "Your dad is calling you, wants to see what you're up to... if you wait till this song is through, you just might miss him..."

"Hello?" I said, nervously.

"Honey, (dad chuckles) are you okay?  Don't worry about the hunk of metal in my driveway. You are more important to me than a truck. It's almost Christmas, let's worry about fixing it after the Holiday is over."

I cried. I apologized. And I promised we could fix it.

I learned more from my dad's grace that day then I ever would have learned from his rage. He learned a truth in his own life; that God's grace pursues us even in our dark places.

My husband still picks on me because I refuse to back up when people park behind me. I make a complete stop at stop signs, even with no other cars there. I use blinkers and buckle up. In short, I have learned to slow down and check my surroundings. I have made the effort to change where I went wrong. If I don't learn and grow in the grace shown to me then my dad's grace was wasted(Romans 6:1-4).

I am reminded to drive better every single time I see his truck because the dent still sits there. He refused to let us fix it because our insurance would go up. That's my father's grace, a cycle he learned to pass down from Jesus' example.

A few days ago, my five-year-old daughter was being nasty. She was upset over some electronic device and it got taken away from her. She started to be mean to her sisters, and disrespect spewed from her little lips at me. I sent her to her room which escalated to a door slamming hard in my face. I opened the door, flung words of rage, and slammed it back shut. My husband happened to come home in the middle of my, " Your stupid attitude is going to cost you your Awana this week you snotty little toddler!" rant.
As God worked on my own "stupid attitude" as I sulked out on the couch for yet *another* mom fail moment, my daughter came out and climbed up next to me. This was when my husband stopped her and said, "Don't you dare get off that couch until you say sorry." So, of course she mumbles out a quick, "Sorry."
In my husband's defense, he wanted my daughter to be sorry for what she had done and was defending me.
 But he carried on. "Sorry for WHAT exactly."
She mumbles, "I don't know."
"Don't get off that couch until you know what you are sorry for!" he bluntly finished the conversation.
It was at that point that we engaged in my second consecutive mom fail moment. I began to tell my husband about how I would rather have an honest apology when she is ready then have a forced apology when she's not. I didn't care if she got off the couch and went on her way, I wanted an apology when she was humble and ready to offer it with the right heart condition.
Who was right?
Neither of us.
As much as I want to say my theory was "more right" than my husband's, mine was just as wrong. Because the root of her apology points out to one thing, we both wanted her heart condition to be our ideal before she could approach me. He wanted her to understand and I wanted her to be humble even if she didn't.
God's grace doesn't call for either. God's word says that it is by grace we have been saved (Eph. 2:8-9), that while we were still sinning, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), and that his grace abounds in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That means, no matter what we have done or what we will do, God gave us something we didn't deserve before our heart conditions were "right." He sent his Son to save us even before we "understood what we did wrong." He says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest!" We can come to him right now, just as we are, whatever "stupid attitudes" or burdens we carry and he will take them from us, no stipulations or hidden clauses somewhere in tiny font at the bottom of his agreement.
Do you find that refreshing? I do.
What is most beautiful to me about God's grace is that he doesn't tell us to wait until we stop watching porn, stop smoking, stop yelling at our kids, or to wait until we get out of debt. He doesn't tell us to come to him when we have lost the weight, after we start going to church more, or have made a few amends. He tells us to come just as we are, right now. Then he promises that through his strength and with his grace, we can become better for the glory of our Father!
Forgiveness is now. When we don't deserve it, because that is the promise of grace from our Father!
John 5:19
"Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you,
the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can only do what he sees his Father doing,
because whatever the Father does
the son also does."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Best Yes - Chapter 9 & 10

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chapter nine lit a fire in me to be productive. I wanted to start fixing a few half done projects that have been that way for a long, long time. It started in the hallway, then moved to the dink in the red kitchen, to not liking a red kitchen, to painting the kitchen, to, "Oh, no! The ceiling is now darker than the color I painted the kitchen..." If you give a mouse a cookie, right? Well, long story short, my weekend has and will continue to consist of painting and home repair projects.

But I feel the "working hard" and "being lazy" that Lysa was getting at in chapter nine had nothing to do with my red kitchen or my off white ceilings. We need to be hardworking, like her daughter, to show up prepared for the projects we have before us. Like an athletic person, we need to be ready to "give an example for the joy that is within us" (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be leading our choices with wisdom because that is honoring to God. But this means practice, it means what Lysa describes in more detail on pages 109-110.

1) Accept God's word.
2) Memorize God's word.
3) Surround ourselves with wise people and wise teachers.
4) Call out for insight.
5) Communicate with God in prayer about everything, particularly our decision making.
6) Look for wisdom like we are hunting for hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44-36).

What strikes me again moving forward is what Lysa says about Eve. Satan introduces something to her when he suggests the fruit. Doubt. Oh, how deeply this gets to me. I feel like I am headed in a confident direction until, "But what if, " or "But then this might," and the ever so common, "What if I miss my purpose?" That confident direction begins to waver with doubt. I begin to question God, "Are you sure?"

I love what she says about Satan and concludes with, "If we don't know God personally, then we are unlikely to be influenced by Him." Wow, right? Satan knows God's name but he doesn't have a relationship with God and will do whatever he can to halt us having one with him either.

The oh too busy days that we cannot make time to read God's word.
The doubt that God's word still applies to "this day in age." He didn't really mean that for now.
The ex that peeks back into our lives.
The addiction we cannot kick.
That struggle you are facing that God is getting blamed for?

Can you envision the grin on that smug little face of Satan? On the same note, the heartbreak of God as we doubt him and his plan and continue to pack our schedules in order to plan or own life. Do you see where our underwhelmed soul kicks in?

God is just asking us to show up for practice. If you don't know or have that personal relationship with God, if you feel like there is a wedge between you and God, it's not too late. You've never been "too bad." Salvation and forgiveness is for everyone, no matter what. Email me, for any prayer requests or if you need help getting connected. I would love to walk you through that release. It was also true for me.

Well, we have arrived! Lysa addresses the why, where, and when. She has arrived to how we can start to break this pattern. One thing I so appreciate about her writing is she doesn't leave you without a game plan or a how to. Are you ready to dive in here? I know I am!

"If the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not become empty. I shall not live in a constant state of disappointment where circumstances drain me dry." 

Lysa says on page 116, we first have to "assess expectations and responsibilities that come with each thing I say yes to." Secondly, we need to "identify unrealistic expectations so these can either be managed or eliminated before I jump into an opportunity." 

We need to know what our expectations are before we say yes to an opportunity. 

I remember when I was asked to co-lead nursery at our church. Two women were leading it and one wanted out. I was eager to be of help and continue to be passionate about helping the next generation. My duties were, "make the schedule once and a while," and "make sure we are covered every Sunday. Just pop in and see." Shortly after signing up for the position, other duties popped up. Trainings, meetings, arguments, low snacks, not enough diapers, broken toys, people quitting, and the list continues. It could only have been worse if I was doing it alone... can you see where this is going? Yep, shortly thereafter, it was decided that the helper could no longer help and I was on my own to carry the projects, meetings, no shows, and whatever else would go on back there. The stress was immense and my opinion to change things was often shot down. Had I known I would end up alone, with a list of expectations longer than my arm, I would have declined. But I carried that position for as long as my emotions could manage and was quickly drained and overextended. It left a gap to be filled. This is why it is so important to know everything and consider the possibilities. "Do I have the resources (goes back to the physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial) to maintain these expectations realistically?" 

Like Lysa's car situation, we need to evaluate some what ifs in order to make a wise choice. Again, this isn't an excuse to not take a risk and not step out in faith, but a woman who makes those wise choices evaluates these next things:

Is this wise not only short term, but also long term? 
Is the choice forced or frantic?
Is the decision tied to people pleasing?
Which wiser people think this is a good idea? (This means, ask your Godly friends!)
Are there facts I am leaving out with the above friends?

I love what she says next here, "Unrealistic expectations become unmet expectations." Back to nursery, there were ways to meet the standards we wanted to uphold. However, my ideas were often unheard or there was no interest to change "the way it was." This way was unrealistic. Very quickly, it became impossible to meet that expectation. Lysa continues with explaining how our strengths play into our expectations. If we have zero strengths in administration, then maybe steer clear of administrating. That would be a "best no." Here are the other factors she wants us to consider (if you don't have the book yet you can get a more in depth description if you buy it here.)

Our season.

When we assess those things then our choices we make will be wiser, God-honoring, and they will take our "underwhelmed soul" to that peaceful soul that allows us to establish a smooth rhythm lived with purpose, direction, fire, and intention. Does that inspire you? It does me.

Here are your ten questions! Next week, chapter 11, 12, and 13. We get into that dreaded N word. No. 

Not a serious one, but what are some projects you are currently working on?

We all have projects to work hard on. What did you think of the six practices of a prepared decision maker? Which one(s) are your strengths? Which one(s) do you struggle with?

What was your take on the interaction between Eve and Satan?

Do you agree with what Lysa says about knowing and being influenced by God?

Like me and the nursery situation,  have you ever said yes without all the details?
If you did, did you regret it long term?

Have you ever made a choice from frantic decision, without consulting others (or regardless what they thought), or to people please? How did that end up for you? What did you learn?

Are you currently tied up in something that isn't "your season?" 

What are some things you will put into action from these chapters? 

Great job friends! We are 4 weeks out from finishing the Best Yes! I will let everyone know our next book next week so we all have time to order it. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Best Yest - Chapter 6, 7, & 8

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Today's choices become tomorrow's circumstances." 
Lysa TerKeurst

Welcome, fellow busy mom, sister, and friend.

The past few weeks have kicked my butt. You too? Maybe you relate. Maybe this is why I need to really cherish this book! Let me pray for us today, if I may.

Lord, I pray now for the woman who has so much stress on her plate that her world is spinning. I ask that you would give us the strength to slow down and cherish you above all else. Lord, your plan is so much more important than our own missions. Please remind us for the plans that you have for our lives that we may truly live to glorify you. May we live out our purposes with intention. Amen

These past chapters have really spoken to me again, as I read this book with you a second time. I have been so convicted. I constantly forget what she says in Chapter 6. Let's start there, shall we?

Chapter 6 pulls us in to the importance of making our choices with intention. The choices we make today start off a chain of events that determine the rest of our lives. Lysa addresses the need to make choices with the wisdom she talks about in previous chapters.

On page 64 she says, "No decision is an isolated choice. It's a chain of events." 

Imagining what I would tell myself on graduation, my ideas were packed full of forgiveness, grace, and love. Speeches of purpose and clear goal setting. I never thought about "chains of events" like chapter 6 covers. It was an interesting dynamic of truth that I will apply from here on out.

When she forwards to college, she turns down the weak moment in order to pursue church instead. I grabbed hold to one truth hidden there. We do not have to stay stuck in our worst places! Forgiveness and grace gently push us onward to try to be better. In God's strength, we can do better!

When we walk into church, it is much more than just walking in and sitting down. She says, "We have to engage with what's offered if it's going to do us any good." We need to go in and get involved with that community, the service opportunities, and the words in the Bible being offered. We need to hold tight to those things that can get us in a better direction, making better choices for a better chain of events that will glorify God.

I loved chapter 7. Look at what Lysa says here, "If you desire to please God with the decision you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it is an error not an end." 

This past summer, I had just had my third daughter, had recently chosen to stay at home, and was getting into a few new rhythms. The topic of daycare had come up with a friend. They were weary of generic daycare, looking to save money. I was weary of being home and a little extra cash would have been helpful. So, the match seemed to be made in perfect timing.

A month later, my infant changed sleeping patterns and this boy and my daughter had daily fighting matches with high pitched screams and slap festivities. I was tied down to my humble abode with four kids under the age of 5 from 7 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. I couldn't really leave to get groceries, to take my kids on vacations, go to the pool, or anything, really. In my mind, I was home anyway, what was just one more kid? I didn't fully acknowledge that it would essentially be like raising another child if I truly wanted to do the job right. It was then that things really started to set in. My list of negatives was way longer than the list of positives. I really, really wanted to help my friend out but it was taking it's toll on my own parenting.

But what was the absolute worst for me was recanting my commitment to have this precious being in my home. Getting the courage to send the email admitting my mistake in not truly thinking over my commitment took me two weeks. The day I sent it, I cried. I felt terrible. If I would have prayed, sought counsel, made lists, and read this book first, this situation would have started and ended differently. I had the best of intentions, but my best of intentions ended with a lot of broken hearts, stress, and waiting in faith to watch God work out the situation for His good. I wanted to please God by helping my friends but afterward, felt like I had reached an end. I was comforted in this chapter by two things. First, I was comforted in knowing I made an error. And by my dear friends loving God like they do, we were able to move on with forgiveness and still remain good friends to this day! Her son is still a pleasure and the best dressed toddler around. Secondly, I learned a very useful strategy on page 81-82.

1) Trusting in God by lacing my desire under his authority.
2) Analyzing the decision.
3) Making a decision.
4) Owning the decision. (No matter what the outcome is.)
5) Trusting God to work good even from the not so good parts.

We have a freedom to make decisions and then step out to trust his authority and then trust God's work in the outcome. Lysa says this on page 87. We should not freeze in fear because God will work out the good for those who love him (Romans 8:28).

"Not making a decision is actually making a decision. It's the decision to stay the same." 

We are not designed to carry more than we should. A "Best Yes" can become a "stressed yes" that will quickly break us when we do not release other things.

I love the analogy Lysa used to relate to the trees. If I would have continued to attempt daycare, which is not my strength, I would have hurt my kids in a way that was not worth the trade. I could not be fully committed to them when we had a full time guest. I needed to let that commitment go in order to give my Best Yes back to my own itty bitties. Lysa says here, "Refusal to release often means refusing to have peace."

Now, like our closets, I could have carried on with the daycare situation. Grumpy, over-stressed, and pushing on from guilt. All of those things are the opposite of peace. God wants us to live in peace. Sometimes, God wants us to let go even when that process can be painful. We need to let go of things that would otherwise hold us back from our purpose in order to thrive in God honoring living.

This is more than just saying yes too much. This can also refer to that "50 Shades of Grey" you cannot put down, even though it's technically porn. It refers to the one drink too many. It refers to the spouts of anger taken out on those behind our own closed doors. This means turning off the TV to read God's word, even though this show is just so.good. We need to let go of the sin that holds us back from the closest relationship with God so that when bigger projects come our way we were faithful.

In the little and in the much.

We all have fallen short and the beauty that lies under the broken storms of our life is that God can redeem it and make us new. It's never too late to give him back our "high school graduation" so that the storms we face or have faced do not crack us. Let's submit those things to the cross together. Cause I know I have a list of things to let go of! You too?


Here are your questions!!

Do you wish you were more intentional when you graduated high school? 

Think over your life choices: Are there things you need to let go of to live your full potential in Christ and for your best yes? 

On page 67, Lysa gives an example of one of the best things to happen to her. It actually broke her heart. Do you have a time that this was also true for you? Heartbreak = blessing? 

Are you facing an issue that you need some "light" or new direction? Refer to page 67. 

Do you think into every seemingly little choice like Lysa and her latte? Do you think we should?

What decision do you need to "chase down?" 

When making a large decision, do you freeze in fear? What about the small, daily choices?

What is a major fear stopping you from your best yes?

Do you have multiple things, projects, or commitments you need to break in order to pursue just one wholeheartedly? 

Do you have a closet like Lysa's? :) Purge party? Seriously. My closet is a mess.

Have you feared the release of something so much you have given up the trade to something better? (Refer to page 96 for examples.) 

What was your favorite part of these three chapters?

Can I pray for you this week? Email me, I would love to pray confidentially over those requests for you!

Let us look at how we can apply this in a literal way. Sit down and write out what holds you back. Both your sin and your worst yes answers. Pray that God would give you the courage to defeat the pattern of sin in your life and that he would give you courage to graciously bow out of projects that simply are not ours. After you feel that confidence, take action! Get extra help, a good friend to walk with you and hold you accountable, or send that email and make that call. Our best yes is waiting!

Next up, Chapters 9 and 10!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Best Yes - Chapter 4 & 5

Sunday, January 18, 2015

 "Wisdom makes decisions today that will still be good tomorrow."
Lysa TerKeurst 

Welcome to the second week of The Best Yes! If you haven't purchased your copy of the book you can find it here.

Let's dive right in, shall we? 

Dear friends, what are your boxes in your entryway? Lysa has a foyer, which I "googled" a photo of, and decided that I really want one of those! Ha! Back on track here, but she says something on page 35, "We process the what-ifs and the but thens and the maybes until we find ourselves standing around a corner listening to see if a cardboard box containing a refrigerator might sneeze. Good glory."  Did anyone else laugh out loud there? She covers what we know that we need to do but we over process what might actually happen if we say yes or no. If we leave the box in our entry, it might be a creature waiting to bust out and attack. Or it might just really be a fridge. Plain and simple. 

To which on page 36 she describes the difference between knowledge, insight, and discernment. When she talks to the mom in the gym, she asks the mom if she has been reading and praying in God's word. Then she asks if she has been applying it. Lastly, if she has sought Godly counsel who know specifics of her situation. Sometimes, we need to remember to ask people who know about the situation. But often times we do wait for that "neon sign" to point us where we think we should go.  We need to seek wisdom. 

The Bible says in James 1:5, " If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." Like Lysa says on page 39, we need to put our minds in places where wisdom gathers, not scatters. When our lives do not line up in obedience to God's word, that we are not reading, we can hardly expect to find the Godly direction in which to walk. But if we ask God for that wisdom, he will give us wisdom. Usually that will come by trial and error. Sometimes not. In my own life I have found that my mistakes gradually led me to seek God's wisdom instead of earthly wisdom. His answer was always, "Just follow me and the rest will all just fall into place." Because you won't find wisdom at the bottom of a bar stool, disconnected from church, or gossiping with even your closest of friends. 

How did you feel when you read about being stripped of power and significance by our daily demands? I love how she addressed the small acts of service. The most important areas of service opportunity is often right in our laps, behind our closed doors, and we blow the time away because it feels like this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life. Like I said in my first post, when I chose to stay at home with my kids, I felt as though I lost many things. My connection to the outside world, my "status" that comes with job maintenance, and my paycheck. Nothing described me anymore except, "stay at home mom." And it never felt life changing. It never felt like what I did matters. Most days, it still doesn't. But I know in my heart it does. 

"Wisdom isn't just a label, it's a lifestyle." 
Lysa TerKeurst, kinda :)

I truly loved the part with the wise woman in 2 Samuel.  I want people to buy this book, so go there to read it. But if you have read the book, what she dives into there is amazing, right? 

She closes with fear. I loved that. Because fear of the problems in our life, or entryway, lead to rushed and often times decisions made with regret. But the true fear, or awe, of God, leads us to the choices we can truly trust are wise. I know for me, pushing for a lifestyle of "wisdom, knowledge, insight, and discernment," is truly found in the mundane of each and every day. 

Physically. Financially. Spiritually. Emotionally. Does it fit? Now, I am assuming that the answer must be "yes" for all of the above. 

Lysa says on page 52, after addressing her approach and her attitude, "God's wonder is the assurance that not every activity is my activity."  Oh man, this chapter was for me. 

My attitude was getting to be pretty stinky. I was always saying yes, even when it wasn't my strength or gift. Even when it didn't fit between the other stuff, or when my physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional bank was empty. I always felt that I needed to say yes. I needed to lead, I needed to serve, I needed to help, I needed to (fill in the blank) because "that is what good Christians do." 

Saying no feels painful. Saying no can be awkward. Saying no can hurt people's feelings. I do not believe there will ever be a moment when turning someone/something down will be enjoyable. Because isn't that how it feels? We are rejecting their idea. We are rejecting their need. 

I remember one time I was talking to my Grammie. I was telling her how everyone needed money and if I was rich I would help people all the time. I couldn't understand why God wasn't giving me the money to help everyone, everywhere. My grandma explained to me that if that were to happen, I would be getting in the way of other's need to rely on God. They may have needed financial help, but if I was constantly jumping in writing checks, they would never have to go to God and trust him for provision. Yes, there would be weeks where money was tight. Yes, there would be things they couldn't do because the money was not there. But God wants to teach people things. I cannot play God. Plain and simple. 

In this chapter, what my Grammie said to me stuck out. When Lysa spoke about saying no to her friend moving in I related. Only, my relation would have been I would have said yes, the friendship would have been ruined, and she would be homeless months later. Because have a hard concept with grasping when to help and when not to. God says to help people. He says being his follower will be uncomfortable, he says  in Matthew, "Whatever you do for the least of these, you have done for me." So as a Christian, the need to help others is something we are familiar with. 

This is why I love the way Lysa broke it down into those groups. A wise project sent by God will fit all those needs. I am not saying they will fit comfortably, but they will fit and you will be able to say "yes" to those categories. Remember, does it fit financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically?

We do have to be careful to not use the wisdom of saying no as an excuse to not be uncomfortable. Sometimes God wants us to grow and most times that means a season of discomfort. Look at Moses, for example. Had to leave his home, not once, but twice to constantly pursue Pharaoh to let his people go. In his season, I am not sure that he could say, "Yes! I can expect that to be comfortable, right?" Our greatest example is Jesus. The plan for his life called him to death like a criminal. There isn't anything comfortable about that. Emotionally, that was Jesus' burden to carry so he made the space to make it his project even in discomfort. 

Sometimes God might want us to say yes to paying for the driver behind us, no matter if his bill was $5.00 or $50.00. Maybe God might call some to adoption, even though their other kids might not understand. In the end, it is God's wisdom that will help us decide which task is ours. Those are our best yes'. Saying no to the things that halt God's will, like saving the entire world from financial distress, is not our best yes. In the end, we all need to rely on God. So saying no will save us stress, time, money, emotions, and physical stress, but it will also allow that window to be there for the person hearing the word no to rely on God. 

Let us make sure to be open to discomfort for our yes answers. Let us pray for peace for others who need to be open for the discomfort in our no answers. 

"But a Best Yes will require having the courage to say no to other things. No to wrong things. No to some seemingly good things. That's the only way to ensure there's space to run and take that leap of faith toward the best things." Page 62


From chapter 4, and in the moment where you have a decision to make, let us use Lysa's breakdown. Write out these questions in your journals:

1) Have you been reading and praying through God's word lately?
2) Have you been applying God's word in your life lately?
3) Have you sought Godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation? 
(Pg 38.)

Do you feel Lysa was spot on when she describes where wisdom is and is not found? Or did you feel she was too harsh? Why?

Do you ever feel like your purpose has been stripped away? What daily demands drain you? Have you asked God to strengthen you in those areas? 

Do you wish you could be more like the un-named "wise woman" of 2 Samuel? Controlled, calm, and known for wisdom?

What about chapter 5? 

Do you have the complex that you need to "help everyone?" 

What area (physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually) do you strain the most to say yes to things that are not your "Best Yes?" Write out these four areas in your journal and think of some of your most demanding commitments. Do they all fit here? 

How do you feel with the idea that sometimes our best yes answer might cause discomfort? Do you find comfort in knowing in little day to day choices our best yes will fit in all those above categories? Will you use that method to narrow down your options of what you say yes and no to?

Don't forget! I want to be praying for you! If you feel led to send me an email  I would be honored to pray over those requests for you and all 100% confidential.

Next week- Chapter 6, 7, and 8! Fast read, we can do this! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Best Yes ~Chapter 1, 2, and 3~

Friday, January 9, 2015

"We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please." Lysa TerKeurst

Wow. Welcome to week one! I must say, I have read this book once already but have already learned so much more reading it a second time with you all! (And the velvety cover, I just love that!) I am so excited to see the new faces that are joining in and humbled you are here! I hope you love this book as much as I do! We have read chapter one, two, and three this week and they are all amazing! Where do I even start? Maybe with how I got to the book in the first place? 


No, seriously, I was in tears. I had over committed myself to my church to be in leadership, to be a volunteer in five different areas, I was in five small groups, leading one of them, I worked part time as a stylist, and was pregnant with my second daughter. All of this was piled on top of homeschooling my oldest, being involved with family activities, friends, and the areas I was in at church meant nightly meetings. Working as a stylist was breaking me more than helping contribute to the family. I was a frantic mess. We ate out constantly because I was never home to cook, we were gone more than we were home, my husband and I ceased all communication that was friendly, and my attitude just sucked. 

My husband finally said to me that I just needed to surrender some things. With a lot of thought and not much prayer, I quit working outside the home, put my oldest in a private school the next year, and stopped volunteering for things that just were not my strength or battle. I did however continue to lead church nursery and be back there weekly, sometimes both services. I still was in all my small groups as I wanted to see them through, and we still ran around like crazy. 

What I quickly found was this stigma that comes with the "stay at home mom" title. "She must have nothing to do, she doesn't work. Let's ask her." And in the beginning, it didn't help that I was battling with the feeling that I had lost my identity. My life led me to the point where I wasn't really sure who I was in the first place. I defined myself by what I did and who I did it for. When people would ask me to help them out, or if I saw an opportunity I wanted to fill, I would jump in and fill it! My heart intentions were even mostly good. "I'm not doing anything Monday at 2 P.M. Sign me up!" My problem was Monday at 2 P.M. was the ONLY time I wasn't doing something. My other problem was that I hoped that helping everyone else would gain their favor, would build relationships, and would find my identity. What I really gained was what Lysa refers to as an "underwhelmed soul." 

What happened in the grand scheme was instead, I let a lot of people down because I could either not keep my commitments or I took out my stresses of meeting those commitments on those closest to me. I began to realize what Lysa says here, "The woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul." I am ready to admit openly that my schedule drug me right into a depression. I was letting people down, I was letting myself down, I was not building the community I craved, and I was not pleasing God. Being busy for everyone else actually felt more lonely than I thought. 

I happened across Lysa's Facebook page and "liked" it. The first book I knew of her's that she wrote was "Unglued." At the time I started to love and "follow" Lysa, she was pushing this book. I was reading her quotes and I would cry. I would nodd, applaud, and think, "That is the best sentence I have ever read. Ever." Of course I pre-ordered the book. 

Through reading it, finally in prayer, and counsel from friends and my husband, I have begun to learn to say no, to focus on my strengths and calling, and to parent with intention. I have found my identity in the Creator and have realized to cherish having my few close friends that truly have been sent by God. My motives are different and my soul doesn't ache. My schedule doesn't give me ulcers and you will see my tackling of depression on a future blog series. 

In chapter one, page three, Lysa addresses her struggles. I felt like she was reading my mind. The comparison of how other women seem to just do it all. Struggling about what others will think of my life. How my kids will turn out. Then she says on page three, "I'm tired. I'm distracted, I'm disappointed in myself. I feel slightly used and more than slightly used up. I'm a little overwhelmed and a lot worn down." Me. ME! *Raises hand* ME! She goes on to address our hearts desire to say yes but feeling powerless to say no. Matthew 5:36-37 reminds us to not to make promises because we have absolutely no control but to make sure we mean what we say when we commit to yes and no answers. 

She goes into chapter two and this chapter broke me. When we are so overcommitted, we take it out on those around us. We also blow right past the opportunities God is saying, "This is what I have for you, focus." When she spoke about the funeral and how we spend so much time blowing by the things God wants us to hear, I was truly convicted. For me, the conviction was because I was so busy with the rush of my own agenda, that God's plan simply didn't fit into my schedule. I had to search my heart and discover what and who my rushing was for. And why? If I was honest, God wasn't calling me into even so much as half of what I was involved in. My guilt was. My people pleaser side of me was. And because of that, I was completely unavailable to be used by God for things eternal. 

"Don't miss this. Unbroken companionship helps us hear His instruction so then we can see His direction. We must not seek direction before obeying His instruction." Lysa TerKeurst, Pg. 18, The Best Yes

I needed to ask God for forgiveness because I was not in unbroken companionship with Him. I was in a chauvinistic competition with myself. I needed to submit my wants and desires to Him. I needed to get back in the Word, back in communication and prayer, and back in with the friends that kept me there. I had a lot of forgiveness to ask for but it started with God first. 

Because, we have hit chapter three. When she asked, "So that I may bless whom?" Wow. Right? See above! Most of my choices were to, *ehem* bless me. Earn me relationships. Earn me a paycheck. Earn me a pat on my little ol' back. This is painfully humbling for me. I did the part where I wrote out my time, where it went, and my goals. We go into Phil 2:3-7 where it is addressed to doing nothing out of selfish ambition. After I crossed off all of my ambitions that were selfish, I was left with where my soul found its ache. To be an author and a blogger. And I know that might be odd for some of you, but for me it made complete sense! My whole life I have been called to writing and I've avoided it, put it last, and ignored that calling. Then there it was, starting me right in my face. My purpose. My God-honoring gifts that I had absolutely no time for. 

The Best Yes lead me to this blog. This book lead me to many of my own aspiring book titles. This book lead me to choose my "best yes" and I hope it can also do that for you. Let's choose to keep our best yes to honor God! 

Next weekend we will be going over chapter four and five! 

But first, I want to hear from you! Here are some questions you can answer, but you do not have to answer them all! 

How did you decide to read The Best Yes? 

Do you consider yourself a people pleaser? Why do you find is your main reason for being so busy? 

Do you feel lonely when you are at your busiest? 

Do you relate to Lysa in chapter two where she nearly blows by God's callings? Do you want to share that experience? Did God redeem it for you like he did for Lysa? 

Write out how you spend your 168 hours (you can do this on paper) and then write out your life dreams and goals. No matter how silly they feel and include what you are pursuing now. End each with, "That I may bless whom?" Evaluate where your time is going. Does this convict you or empower you? 

Does your heart ache for a purpose that causes you to live out a vicious cycle of having an underwhelmed soul? 

What did you take away from the first three chapters? What stood out that was applicable to your life?

How can we best listen for God's direction to daily give Him the best of our time and yes answers?

Lasty, I want to be praying for you. If you feel led to email me at I would be honored to pray over those requests for you. Let us set some goals with this study and find ways to honor God with our time. Here are a few ways I started to say better yes and no answers. Everyone's call to action will look different. This is some of what worked for me a third child later. Feel free to share what you might try or have tried! 

I blocked off one day a week and one weekend a month. Those days are for my family. Period. 

Figure out your strengths and gifts, then, serve with your strengths, not with your guilt. 

Make time for God every single day. Be intentional with this. Start with what you can, five minutes a day. A song, sermon, a YouVersion or She Reads Truth devotional (free in your app store). Pray. Be in communication with God daily. 

See you all next week! Looking forward to the conversations and responses below! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Pharaoh's Heart

Monday, January 5, 2015


Have you all been having a wonderful 2015? Has anyone made goals? I find them honorable but have given them up myself. Another post for another time? Okay, moving on.

Has anyone started to read through their Bibles yet? I know that this is something I have never done but have become extremely impressed with the Good Morning Girls .We are going through Exodus and started today. So, shout out to them and what a fantastic, organized, and helpful resource!

I was also extremely excited to whip out this bad boy. I got it for Christmas with a gift card from my mom and so far, I LOVE IT! I would suggest this Bible for anyone! (Pssst- It also comes in purple!) I might hypothetically be thinking of doing a giveaway with one of these in the future. So stay tuned for THAT!

But back on track here. At the study at GMGs we read chapter one of Exodus today. And of course, it started out with the names of so and so was born to such and such and I thought, "Oh, gosh, here we go with more Old Testament hubbish-bubbish." Hubbish-bubbish is a word, by the way. Feel free to use it at your discretion.

I read over the chapter and filled in my SOAK like they said to do. But then they asked a question at the very end. They asked if we have ever been in a situation where we had to choose to obey God's law or man's law. I sat there for a while before I was deflated. I could only come up with what I felt were generic answers. To speed or not to speed? That was the question right? I decided instead to stop, pray, and ask God to teach me something here.

And I read it again.

When I was done I knew I had to share this with whoever actually reads this blog thing I do here.

My answer has nothing to do with the midwives like we were focusing on (though, I DID come up with some amazing material there, too.) However, I realized a very sad truth that I needed to take to the cross. Are you ready for this? I am Pharaoh. There, I said it. I am Pharaoh.

Not because I oppress people but because deep down inside, his root of oppressing and my root of sin are based on the same exact thing. Oh, my need to be in control. You see, in Exodus 1, we find that Pharaoh had forgotten or never heard of this Joseph guy. See, it had been a while since he had died. In fact, it had been such a long time that even all of his brothers and their generations have died. You will find that information between verse one and seven. Verse eight is really where this Pharaoh guy comes in and realizes that the Israelites have multiplied like crazy. Verse nine says, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. (10) Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape the land." Here is where he states right out for everyone to hear. "I am afraid I will lose control of what I am currently in control of."

I had to stop there and say, "Whoa." Because if I can be so open with you, I haven't ever really said those words, but I have maybe made a longer spiel like Pharaoh did in verse 9-10. Something a little more wordy so my selfish urge to control things didn't sound so apparent.

It doesn't end there. Pharaoh then sets up these "micromanagers" to control the people. Verse eleven calls them "taskmasters," that were put in place to, "inflict heavy burdens." Even while all this happens, and the Israelites were oppressed, they just grew stronger. Then Pharaoh pushes back and turns them into slaves by misusing his authority to kill all the baby boys when the midwives refuse to. Now, there is so much to say about the midwives, their courage, and their reward. I have all that jumbled in my purple pen somewhere in my notes. But what stands out to me now, is that even though Pharaoh tried so hard to micromanage, to control, to threaten... God still prevailed and his chosen people still multiplied, grew stronger, and were eventually freed.

This is the part where I sat back and started chewing on my pen cap. I didn't and wouldn't ever describe myself as a micromanaging, threatening, controlling person. I would be even less likely to publicly declare it on the internet that I am those things. But if I honestly evaluate myself I need to type that out for you. I need to admit it. I need to say it. Because I know that I am not alone in this battle for control. 

This battle will look different for everyone. What we want to control so badly is so different in our lives. Money, cleaning, our tone bodies, our time frame, our spouse, or our kids. The list goes on.

What I find the most interesting in this story, is that in the end, God had his way anyway. This is a light bulb moment for me because in my own life this is truth. With Pharaoh, he oppressed people, he killed babies, he refused to let God's people go, and ultimately he lost his son. It took a long battle but God's plan and purpose won out in the end.

I, as Pharaoh did, drag my feet. I forget that God has a plan for my life and it isn't to harm me, but for me to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11).  I think I have all these wonderful plans for my own life but God ultimately knows his final destination for me. I can oppress, I can go my own way, I can make life difficult for people, and I can say no, but in the end, I know I will release control and end up right where my Maker wants me to be. I have so many ideas of what I think that I need or deserve and God knows one plan and it is good (Romans 8:28).

I had to ask God what was in the way of our relationship that I insist to have my way with. What were the things I think I need or deserve so badly that I would cease to thank Him for who he is while I work my own way to get it. When we fight to get around God, we will cause our own heartache. What if we simply fall in step next to him and submit to his plan?

I had to lay down my need to control at the cross today. I had to ask God to forgive me for trying to sway his hand. My silent rebellion. My fear that God might ask me to do something uncomfortable. 

What control boils down to is fear. Fear that I might have to not live the American dream. Fear that God might call me to death. Fear that true faith might be tested in taking what I love most; my kids. Fear that pain might be needed to draw me closer to my Savior. Fear that sacrifice might be what it takes for me to truly know Him. That persecution might be where I am called. Fear that I might lose friends. You see, when I get to control my life, I get to stay comfortable. I get to keep my house, my 2.5 kids, and my little Starbucks trips. If I say yes to God, instead of being like Pharaoh, I might end up like Moses. Called away from the life of a king into a desert. Called to rely on God each and every day for my needs instead of my husband's paycheck. I might be herding sheep and fighting kings and leading an ungrateful people into a land I might never get to see. I might not be comfortable anymore. I am afraid of discomfort. And that fear makes me want to control my life to keep me comfortable.

A shot to my pride but also a calling to rise. To not try to control my fear but instead to lean on the one who makes fear crumble in His presence. Because the very God that broke the Pharaoh's heart is the same God who made the way for Moses, split the water, provided the manna, and spoke from a bush that was on fire but did not burn.

That is an awe that overcomes all fear. That is a control laid down to the plan maker. That is a story that I'd like to see how it ends. My story, completely written by my Savior.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Week One- The Best Yes! Introduction

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello fellow book readers! I am so excited to start this book with you! I was in Barnes and Noble today and found The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst for HALF OFF!  Even though I already have my velvety smooth book, that was very exciting for me. I also found the participants guide but decided to not go with it since we cannot do the DVD together. So here is how this works!

Every weekend, I will share with you a post on what I learned from the book. You can then share in the comments what you learned. Just note, any comment left or conversation started that is not positive or God-honoring, will be deleted.

The reason why I chose this book first definitely relates to to my last year. I was saying yes all of the time. Never no. I made a lot of really bad choices when it came to my schedule and even at times the sanity of my family. Ultimately, I let a lot of people down. My heart was in the right place and I feel as women, we often times do have the best of intentions. When I read a quote by Lysa in her book, about living with an underwhelmed soul, I knew this was me. I was bending over backwards, cramming my schedule, becoming ever so grumpy, and living ever so unbiblical  in my stressed out moments that I grabbed this book early. After it came, I didn't even make it in the door. I sat out on our front step and read the first three chapters before the mosquitoes began to make a meal of me. After finishing this book, I knew this was a key book to start us off this 2015.

So, for week one, we are going to jump in a little heavy and I am going to push for chapter 1, 2, and 3. This seems like a LOT but is seriously only 32 pages. A very fast read. I would encourage you to grab a journal and jot down some ways this book has challenged your "ah-ha!" moments as well as some great discussion topics. Also, as we move along, let us seriously consider writing down your prayers as you journal. It is always great to go back and look to see how God has grown us!

Ready? Set? GO!
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