Is Your Perfectionism a Gift or a Hindrance?

As a twenty-two-year-old fresh out of college, I remember sitting through a job interview, nervous about what questions I’d be asked. First came the general experience and get-to-know-you questions. Then came the one I had heard before, the one we all dread.

“Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses.”

The strengths part always comes easy. We all tend to focus on our strengths anyway, and want to make sure others know them, especially during a job interview. Being open about our weaknesses is a different story. We usually don’t want our friends and family, let alone a potential employer, know our weaknesses. So I spun the question a little, the way they say you should. You know, state a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength.

Continuing Reading this post at The Glorious Table.

When Fear Threatens to Consume

My sweet husband posted this picture from a recent date night we had to a Hillsong United concert. It was a much-needed night out, and in true social media fashion the picture got numerous likes and comments.

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When I look at this picture though, my thoughts go straight to my eyes, and I might start singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes” (even though my eyes are brown, but you get the point). 😉

There was so much going on in our life leading up to this picture, and what I am sure most people missed on Instagram and Facebook was that my eyes were swollen from all the tears.

When I started blogging at the beginning of last year, I thought I would write spiritual and devotional-type posts over motherhood, marriage, life—the things related to our lives but not actual life events. I wasn’t going to post about our daily life, but sometimes God changes that.

You see, I think the picture and that night portray the struggle I had been dealing with—fear was threatening to consume me.

The fear started creeping in last year with my current pregnancy. This baby took the longest of our three to come about. With the uncertainty of things not going as planned, the seed of fear was planted.

We felt like God wanted us to have another child, so why wasn’t it happening?

What if child number three wasn’t promised to us like we thought?

 We went for an ultrasound at 12 weeks, right when we were ready to start telling friends, and there was a potential complication with my placenta. It was nothing pressing but more of a “wait and see” situation, so we had to patiently pray that it moved to avoid some complications. So we waited for the next 10 weeks to see. I didn’t post to Facebook that I was pregnant yet. The seed of fear that was planted about this baby not being guaranteed sprouted.

She is still not yours. Don’t count on it yet.

Thankfully, at the end of January we had another ultrasound, my placenta was in a different location, and all was good. I had let that worry and fear eat away at my heart for no reason.

But just as one reason for fear leaves another enters.

The month of February was filled with our first ER visits for each of our other two children.

One of our children fell from a playground that we have played on countless times. The fall included profuse bleeding, a busted forehead, and our first serious injury in close to four years of parenting. Thankfully Daddy made it to the emergency room before the gluing because somehow the doctor could see right through my “strong mom” façade and asked if I was going to pass out.

We made it though, and it was probably a more traumatic experience for me than for our child, but my fear started growing again.

How could I have let this happen? I was watching them play.

Should we not go to the park anymore?

What if something worse had happened?

 Just two weeks after our first ER visit, we had our second incident with our other child for a severe food allergy. It included hives, throwing up, and trouble breathing. As my husband put it, “it was one of the scariest nights of our lives, right up there with child birth.”

After an IV, meds, a breathing treatment, and a prescription for an epi pen, we were able to go home, but everything seemed to change. There were lots of tears. There were follow-up appointments and testing that needed to be done, and we were looking at about a month-long wait for more specific answers.

The day after this last ER visit is when the fear that had planted and sprouted began to grow and consume me.

You have no control.

The food stuff is too overwhelming. Just stay home.

This is just too much to handle.

That was the night the Hillsong picture was taken. The day after our last ER visit. The day I didn’t want to leave the house, eat out, or leave my precious babies with anyone no matter how loved and cared for they were. The day I would have rather let fear keep consuming me, but thankfully God had other plans.

Now I see that leaving them was exactly what I needed. Although Jerad and I had planned this date night since November as a Christmas gift to each other, only God knew the events that would surround the actual day.

The Hillsong Concert that night was more worshipful than a concert. Two of my favorite things were that all the screens included the words so that everyone could sing along and that the band never mentioned their names. It wasn’t about them or their music. Not a night to focus on all our concerns but a night to focus on Christ and His truth.

Truth like,

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 1 Timothy 1:7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

I really did turn a corner with my fear that weekend, but that doesn’t mean things have been perfect since.

The pregnancy is going well, and we are getting so close to meeting our 3rd little one. The busted forehead is healed with only a scar to show. We are two months into managing the food allergies and taking it in strides. We completed the allergy testing, and it honestly  didn’t come back the way I had hoped and prayed. It includes one food I really didn’t want included. We are checking all the food labels, making sure we always have the necessary meds on hand, and still battling some fears.

I share all of these not for sympathy or comparison, but as a way of saying everyone has fear. We all have things happen that could take us to the same place of consuming fear if we let it, but that would mean we are led by fear and not by our faith.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it%2.png

When this fear or something negative creeps in we tend to focus all our prayer and energy on that. So much so that it becomes an idol that can distract us from all that’s still good, all the ways God is still working, the fact that He is still with us, and that he is in control —even in our fear and doubt.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

End of 2015 Book List

I’m a little late in sharing this, but for 2015 I read a total of 18 books.

I shared the 12 books I read from the first half of the year back in July, and here is how my year ended in books:

TLOC

Nonfiction:

The Road to Becoming: Rediscovering Your Life in the Not-How-I-Planned-It Moments by Jenny Simmons

You might remember Jenny and her beautiful voice from the band Addison Road. If you are a Jenny or Addison Road fan, then you will be especially intrigued to read about the hardships they faced and how God shut the doors of touring and even being a band.

I had trouble relating to this book, but it was an easy entertaining read. It would be good for someone living in the “not-how-I-planned-it moments”.

3/5 Stars

Sparkling Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

This memoir on motherhood was an entertaining read. Melanie does a great job incorporating relatable and humorous stories while also taking them to a deeper level. It is a light, easy read that allowed for opportunities to reflect on my own motherhood journey along the way. I’ve become a fan of memoirs, and this book made me want to read more by Melanie.

4/5 Stars

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen

Anything will be put on my Favorite Books’ list for sure!

Jennie Allen shares the story of her and her husband Zac praying a courageous prayer of, “God, we will do anything.”

I read this book with my girlfriends from community group at the end of the summer. We enjoyed going through the chapters and study guide together on a weekly basis. We benefited from the opportunity to discuss weekly and share with each other how God was challenging us.

Anything is definitely not a “read for casual fun” book. Be prepared to take action and notice anything that you are holding onto too tightly!

5/5 Stars

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson

I had been a little leery of this book when it first became popular. I was worried that it would be too much like the “name it claim it” philosophy where some Christians claim that God will give us everything we want (wealth, happines, better job, etc)  as long as we ask.

Thankfully, Jerad started 2015 off by reading it and was able to put my mind at ease. 😉

It was actually just what I needed after reading Anything. The author gives a call to and examples of praying constantly for things. Not just random things but our heart’s deepest desires and God-given dreams.

It was an inspirational and challenging read that left me excited by and for prayer.

5/5 Stars

FICTION:

Loving (Bailey Flanigan Series Book 4) by Karen Kingsbury

I finished off the last of the Baxter Series with this book. While I did enjoy the Baxter Series, I was also ready to have closure on the series. This finale was not the way I wanted the book to end, but they always served as entertaining reads.

I did recently hear that a TV series will be made of the Baxter’s, which is exciting!

3/5 stars

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

I was in need of a fiction read, and my friend recommended this one that she found at our public library. Although it took me a bit to get started, once I was into it, I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed that was a stand-alone book and not a series.

In this story set in the isolated Appalachian Mountains, a young girl named Cadi is searching for the one who can take away her sin. She challenges her towns set practices and is seeking redemption that will ultimately lead her to Christ.  The concept of this book was very different than anything I had ever read before, but created an intriguing read.

4/5 stars

My reading goal the past few years has been 12 books (1 book a month), but I’m upping my goal to 20 books this year. This seems a little ambitious to me with our 3rd little one on the way, but I’m pretty excited about some of the books I have lined up.

I’m venturing out a bit this year with not all “Christian” books and some out of my norm.

You can see what I’m reading throughout the year, check out my favorites, or just be my friend on  Lauren Douglas's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf).

I would love to see what you are reading too.

Happy Reading!

Embracing Rest

When I first heard about the theme for MOPS this year during the summer, one of the topics convicted me right away.

I knew I could improve on “Celebrating Lavishly” and it would be good to “Notice Goodness” more, but “Embracing Rest”? I just wasn’t doing that.

embracing rest pic

Over the past few months, I have felt God calling me to the same theme of Embracing Rest. Early on I had a friend ask if I ever just sit on the couch and do nothing–to which I had to answer, “No”. I was drinking at least three cups of coffee a day, partly because I genuinely enjoy coffee, but also because I needed the boost to continue at the pace I was going.

I’m a list-type person, and my lists typically don’t end. I have a list for the week, month and day, along with shopping lists going at all times (not to mention the list that never turns off in my mind).

Because of this, I tend to feel like I always need to do more. I need to get through one list to move on to the next, and I never figure in time to rest.

This is the first year that both of my children are in a preschool Mother’s Day Out program two days a week. It’s been so tempting on those days to run myself ragged in order to “get it all done” while I’m by myself. But then you know what happens? My children come home tired from being gone all day, and I’m worn-out myself. It’s not a good combination.

I think part of the problem for me was that I equated rest with laziness. Since I’ve been purposeful in my resting, I’ve seen that’s not the case. God created us to need rest, and we are able to serve and love on those around us more effectively when we are recharged and rested.

How do we go about Embracing Rest?

For me it started with a list of “What is Resting?”

To me rest includes: reading, writing, time in the Word, actually playing with my kids (instead of doing laundry, dishes and everything else constantly), planning and cooking some favorite meals, and laying on the couch with my husband to talk and watch a show once the kids are in bed.

Then comes Taking Action to Rest.

First, I cut back on the coffee a bit. I took a few more naps. I watched a Hallmark movie or two during nap time. I closed the Facebook tab on my phone more.

Then I gradually started going out to lunch on my own while the kids are in school. I enjoyed a nice peaceful meal with a book or my laptop and actually ordered a cookie with no intentions of sharing.

My to-do list has had a bit of a makeover, too. I’ve eased up on myself a bit. Once I took a step back, I realized that there were things on my to do list that didn’t actually need to be on there. I thought I needed or wanted to get those things done, but I realized it’s better for me to be refreshed. I’ve said “no” to adding some new things to my plate, which is hard for me.

It’s been over three months since I first sensed God calling me to rest, and now that I am on this end of that calling I am starting to see why God was prompting my soul to rest. God knows not only how much rest we need but what is coming our way.

Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-29 (ESV),

28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

His yoke is easy and burden is light. We just need to see that, embrace rest, and stop adding more to our plates than HE is giving us.

With the holiday season here, it is even more important for us to embrace rest. We can’t pour out from an empty place, or we might end up making the holidays unnecessarily stressful.

How can you carve out time to embrace rest and nurture your soul a little this week or over the holidays?

Is there a day or evening that you can take some you time? Can you call a friend to meet you for coffee? What can you take of your Christmas to do list?

 

For The Love & GIVEAWAY!

Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love officially launched this week! So what does that mean? There is no more of this Pre-order stuff! You can go get it now and start reading, laughing and being encouraged right away!

You might be wondering about all the hype about this book, or if I’m only posting because I’m on the launch team. I get it. So I let me explain a little bit.

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The Book:

For The Love is a collection of essays all pointing towards giving yourself and others grace. The book is broken up into section including:

  • Your very own self
  • All these People who living in your House
  • Friends, Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies
  • Church, Church People, Not-Church People and God

Each section is ended with an essay of Jimmy Fallon style “Thank you notes”. There is humor everywhere in this book, but those thank you notes are jewels at the end of each section.

As I wrote about in my Launch Team post, I really haven’t followed Jen from the beginning, but I’ve grown to love her the more I got to know her. She is not some celebrity that I’m a fan girl of. She is a genuine follower of Christ seeking to serve Him and glorify Him with her life, and God has given her an audience or tribe to take along through her journey. I’ve liked who Jen is even more through “interacting” with her through this launch process.

Jen really writes many of the conversations I would want to have with her down in this book. Questions about prioritizing, raising kids that love Jesus, serving others and creating community. She covers so much with so many quotes that have been on repeat in my head (and I’m so glad some of my friends will understand them after reading the book!).

Here is a video from Jen explaining who this book is intended for. It’s for so many of us!

I should post the video on the whole Fashion concerns/ leggings as pants thing. Man! I died laughing and read most parts outloud to Jerad, but I’ll let you search for that one.

Community: For The Love lived out

FTL

Community is something Jen speaks of frequently in this book. What I like about it is that she doesn’t say “Go find the perfect church. Seek out the best friends”. She talks about creating that community, inviting others into your space, hosting and initiating.

Honestly, community is what I have come to love about the For the Love Launch Team. The free book is awesome, but I did need to buy a final copy with my name in it anyway 😉 But I digress… I love the Launch Team because of the community it has brought about. This group read the book, totally agreed with the message, and embraced it in our online community. Daily there are funny stories, prayer requests shared, victories celebrated and encouragment handed out. There have been meetups all across the county, as well as true friendships formed. The group created fundraisers through t-shirts, leather cuffs, and mug swaps to raise money for some of Jen’s favorite charities. There have also been scholarships in each of these to bless others in each of these as well.

There have been spin off Facebook groups for writing, Gilmore Girls fans, book clubs , weight loss, single ladies (some who have hilarious online dating stories), and many more that I don’t even know about. This group moves fast!

Here is the beauty of the group- Jen and her wonderful team created this group but then just let it be. They announce updates, launch details and comment here and there, but the group really has created community, taken the book to heart and is living it out.

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Giveaway!

A few months back Jen offered signed pre-sale copies of her book from Barnes and Nobles. The first batch of these went fast and ended up with some of Remy’s Beyoncé perfume on them (which I’m pretty said I missed out on). When the 2nd batch went live, I grabbed a copy that should be coming in the mail any day for one of you!

Want to win a copy of For the Love (and why not?)?

  1. Make sure you are signed up to be an email following of my blog
  2. Comment something below telling me you want to win! “Following”, “Can’t wait to win”, “Pick me! FTL!” etc.

The Giveaway will end Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 at midnight.

I will use a random number generator to pick the winning comment and post the Lucky winner sometime Monday 🙂

Now the odds are pretty good of you winning from this blog, if you catch my drift, so make sure to enter, tell a friend, or go buy the book and enter to give a copy away!

Happy Reading!

My Ghana Experience

I’m so thankful to be able to share what God did in and thru my life during my mission trip in June.

Secretly, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to be a guest blogger on Lauren’s blog, so when she asked me to write, I didn’t have to think too hard about it.

Jerad's Ghana Experience

First, let me introduce you to Jonah, Maxwell, Stephen, James, and Navando. God used these five men pictured with me above to impact my week abroad. Between these guys, another man from c|Life, two men from The Texas Baptists Men, and myself, we were there to drill a water well in the village of Bonia (Upper East Region of Ghana). The plan was also to train our five new friends on the drill rig so that they could continue to drill wells around the region after we left. It was evident from the onset of our trip that God’s hand was all over the life of our drill team. The five young men were incredible in their work efforts and willingness to be taught. Everyone’s personalities quickly meshed together and a spirit of service and ministry prevailed.

Of the five, I was able to make an even stronger connection with two of the men – Jonah and Stephen. Both were 30 years old – Stephen was married last year and Jonah was engaged and to be married this year. Neither had kids, but hoped that one day they would receive this “very, very, good” blessing. Both exhibited strong leadership and service skills.

Throughout the week, these two men showed me two very important truths.

First – They loved Ghana. They loved the idea of Ghana, the people of Ghana, and the future of Ghana. They were proud of where they came from, hopeful for what their future held, and ambitious in fulfilling their role in accomplishing that future. On multiple occasions, each spoke about specific ministries directly related to their country in which God had given them.

Second – It was obvious that these men loved God. Each day, we would pray around the drill rig – specifically that we would get closer to our goal of hitting water, but also that we would be a testimony to the village we were working in. Sometimes they would pray in English, but often they would pray in their native language. I couldn’t understand their exact prayers, but I could pick up on the passion, humility, and zeal in which they petitioned the Father. Their love for Him and faith in Him was obvious to me in how they prayed to Him.

These men served as a great reminder that we serve a God who has worldwide coverage and knows no boundaries! God isn’t American, African, first world, or third world, but a God to all and for all. I was encouraged and thankful to see first-hand the work God is doing in Ghana. His fingerprints are everywhere – on Jonah, Stephen, Pastor Stephen (who our church has partnered with and is our main liaison in Ghana), the forty seminary students who traveled miles each day to attend classes while we are there, the new orphanage and women’s shelter being constructed, the four villages where nightly crusades were held during our trip and over 800 people responded to the gospel presentations, the school sponsored by Pastor Stephen’s ministry, and so forth. God is good – especially in Ghana!

During my time there and since my return home, I’ve been reminded of a few truths:

The mission field is worldwide, and it is also in my backyard. One afternoon while at the drill site, I paused for a moment from the work and almost felt as though I was back home. Our community group had been involved in replacing a fence a few weeks earlier as part of our annual Re:Build missions project. In both cases, it was hot outside, the work was hard, and the company was good. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to go to Ghana and, God willing, I will be involved in many more trips abroad in the future. However, I know that my everyday mission field is right here where I live and work. From a missional perspective, it may seem easy to go on an overseas trip. We pray about, attend meetings, raise funds, and prepare to spend a week outside of our comfort zone to share the gospel with non-believers. What is harder, for me at least, is to be missional in my comfort zone, in my everyday life. I have my well established daily routine which allows me to interact with countless non-believers. The challenge of my daily routine is responding in obedience to the Spirit upon His prompting to show God’s love in some form or fashion in order to point someone to Jesus. I can be very missional on a trip that I’ve spent weeks preparing for. It takes daily spiritual discipline and obedience to the Spirit in order to be missional in my everyday life.

It was humbling on my trip to see the overall indifference towards materialism. Often times people wore the same clothes day after day, social classes weren’t overly discernable, and the houses were simple but very practical. This was such a great reminder that the “stuff” of this world is fleeting and temporary. Since coming back home, I’ve been forced to ask myself if I’m taking the same approach towards materialism. As a side note to this, I was also reminded that our first priority in ministering to others is not to change their outward circumstances but rather focus on their standing with God. I do believe that meeting a physical need, such as providing shoes, meals, or a home to sleep is important and life changing, but meeting these physical needs should always be seen as an avenue to minister to an inward need. Physical needs can change based upon who you are ministering to, but there will always be a spiritual need.

Finally, I came home very ready to see my family. I was so happy to see Sadie and Luke at the airport, but being separated from my bride was the hardest part. That was easily our longest time apart since being married, and as she spoke to during her blog post last week, it has renewed a greater appreciation for one another. It was a great reminder to me that God can refine so many areas of our life when we are obedient to the Spirit and willing to leave our comfort zones.

-Jerad Douglas

What I learned from my husband’s trip to Africa

Earlier this summer, my husband went on a 10 day trip to Ghana with our church. Although I wasn’t the one serving overseas, God used the trip to teach and stretch me as well. Here are a few of the things God taught me through Jerad’s trip.

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  1. Being supportive of my husband’s spiritual life

Although part of me desires to be selfish with Jerad’s time and vacation days from work, ultimately I want Jerad to love and serve God above all including me and our family. With that, I need to be supportive, encouraging and not hinder his spiritual life and the calling God has placed on his life.

By agreeing with Jerad that he should go to Ghana, I tried not to make it harder on him to leave me and the kids and serve where he felt called. The day he left, I truly had less tears then I expected because although he was serving overseas this was my time to serve by staying home. Yes, I might have had a break down when my phone completely died a few days before he left, and Yes, there was 1 long distance phone call filled with tears because of a rough day at home during the trip, but I really tried not make his service any harder on him.

As wives we have such influence with our husbands. Influence that we can use to support & encouragement or for pity & guilt

2.   The little control I have

One thing I think we worry about when someone goes on a mission trip is safety. Obviously there is concern when traveling at all, let alone internationally to a 3rd world country.

I started to let that worry about how far away Jerad would be creep in the week before he left, and God quickly reminded me of something: Jerad drives close to 45 miles each way to work every day. Every day when he leaves, comes homes, is on the job site, or around our town, something could happen.

I don’t think about this reality normally because it’s our routine and we feel safe with it, but something could easily happen to either of us any day, any time. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

When we do something outside of our normal, it’s easy to get worried. When we realize there is never a guarantee on our safety, why not just focus on making sure we are in God’s will? Ultimately I know Jerad’s eternity is safe in God’s hands, so that’s the important thing.

3.  The Importance of Community

There is something about knowing you have support that is so important. Not only did Jerad have financially support from others to make his service and trip possible, but we had the prayers and support of many.

The kids and I were also loved on & taken care of while Jerad was gone. We had 2 sets of grandparents that took days off work to spend time with me and the kids & even spoil us a little. We had friends to go swim with and a dinner invitation. I had texts letting me know that others were praying for the kids and I along with Jerad and his trip. I also had friends that I could ask to prayer when I was in a mid-week funk because my best friend was so far away.

I think we could have probably survived the 10 days without community, but the kids and I made it through so much better and more enjoyably because of those around us. God created us for community, and it’s such a blessing!

4.  A deeper dependence on God

Many times during a normal day, I text Jerad when things go wrong with the kids and rely on him for this support. Thankfully with technology Jerad and I were able to talk on the phone most nights but text service during the day when he was out serving was not reliable.

I saw that when I know I don’t have that outside person to tell ever hiccup to, I naturally go to Christ more in prayer. I’m so thankful that He is with me constantly & cares for every concern.

5.  Absence does make the heart grow founder

If I had my rathers, Jerad and I would spend as much time as possible together. It’s not really my ideal to spend 10 days apart. Come to think of it, we’ve probably only spend about 10 days total apart in the past 7 years that we have been married prior to this trip.

Now that we’ve been back together for a few weeks, we see the good that came from our time apart. In the mundane tasks of life and raising 2 little ones, it’s easy for Jerad and I to take each other for granted. We don’t mean to, but many days we are so set on accomplishing the tasks at hand or exhausted from the day that we don’t always priorities time together. I see already that we appreciate and serve each other more since he has been back.

6. To enjoy our time together

Since Jerad’s been back, we’ve found ourselves a little more in the “live for the moment” mentality than what was the norm for us. Some of it is probably credited to being back together and not wanting to take any of the time God has given us for granted, and I think the other part is that we both finished reading Love Does and saw the adventurous way Bob Goff lives his life for the Lord.

We haven’t done anything outrageous but we’ve since taken to kids to their first movie, gone swimming, embraced family time, and driven to my parents in a whim just to get away for the night. We are living with a little more freedom, and it’s been nice.

Last and definitely less important but still worth noting, I learned that….

7. When left to my own demise, I stay up way too late!

Be looking for a post next week written from my first “Guest Blogger” the one and only Jerad Douglas! Jerad will be sharing what he learned during his time in Ghana.

Make sure to subscribe as an email follower to not miss out.

Mid-Year Book List

If you didn’t already know that I’m a true nerd at heart, here is my confession time. I love to write, read, & anything involving numbers. Lists, budgets, school supplies, and book stores- I find joy in these things. I mean who dreams of having a party at Barnes and Nobles, and has amazing friends and family pull it off as a surprise?!

I have always loved to read, but I think reading for fun got lost somewhere in high school & college where I had so much to read for school. When I started teaching and was asking students to read daily, I felt like I should be reading too. I started off with a goal of how many books a year on my yearly goals list (I thrive on lists), but years later it’s just grown into a habit and hobby that I love.

I’ve found the trick to finding good books is seeing what other readers are reading. I talk to reader friends, I borrow books, I go to the library, & I look for books on my “list” to be a bargain. I wanted to share my mid-year reading list on the blog for my memory’s sake and in case anyone is looking for a book to read.

These aren’t in any particular order, because I tend to get a tad caught up while reading Fiction. To me reading fiction is like watching a TV series on Netflix. I have the whole book in front of me, so why should I stop after 1 chapter?! The “problem” with this mindset is that the fiction I have been reading are series, with lots of books, and characters interlaced. In an effort to control myself a bit and save Jerad’s sanity, I try to switch back and forth between fiction and nonfiction.

After that long introduction, let’s get to the books!

Mid-Year Book List

Nonfiction:

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker- This book officially releases August 18th. I had the privilege of reading it early as part of the Launch Team. You can find out more about the book and learn where to pre-order at http://www.forthelovebook.com . I am not just saying this because I am part of the launch team, but I am excited to hear what everyone else thinks of this book and the discussion it will bring about. This book is about fighting for grace for yourself and everyone else in your life. It deals with parenting, the church, friendships, family, and also just makes you laugh hysterically. I am dreaming up an online book club after the release date so get it ordered and stay tuned!

Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman- I was gifted this book and it was later picked as our MOPS Book Study for last year. It was a good book on Mothering and seeing God and including Him in all areas of your life even during the mundane tasks that Motherhood includes.

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis- This one had been on my list to read for a while and when I found it at my church library I scooped it up. Little did I know how I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I love hearing of other Christian’s faith, how God speaks and leads them, and the way He works around the world. Katie Davis lives out her faith and her calling and reading her words encourages others to do the same. Although Katie is called to move to Ughanda, be a mother to orphans, and love those around her there is wisdom in her story for us all. Even as a stay at home mom, I was encouraged to love those around me & serve well no matter where God has called me. Many times we can make missionary lives seem glamourous or we think pridefully “If I was a missionary, I would serve/love others like that.” But Kisses for Katie challenges us serve and love now where ever God has us.

Love Does by Bob Goff- Jerad had the priviledge of hearing Bob Goff speak at Catalyst this spring and I will be hearing him at MomCon in the fall. When I saw his book on sale for $5 at Mardel, I thought it would be a fun book for Jerad and I to read together. We actually both loved it and plan on reading it again! In the evenings when we would be reading we would hear the other person laugh and ask what chapter that was. Or we would say, “Tell me when you get to this chapter, because I wasn’t to discuss something with you.”  Bob Goff loves God with a life of adventure that is so refreshing, exciting and contagious. Who says God calls us to boring?

Fiction:

The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury- I read this as a precursor to taking part in the  Bible Study over this book. I was a little skeptic at first because it is Historical/Biblical Fiction, but after reading it and seeing how much scripture and research went into it, I enjoyed it. Karen Kingsbury uses her gift of story telling along with the Bible and historical fiction to paint portraits of the people in Jesus’ life. This was a quick read for me that allowed me to see the people in Jesus’ life as humans struggling with the calling on their lives just like we as believers do.

I started reading Karen Kingsbury’s fiction last year with the Baxter series. They are a easy Christian Fiction read but once I got about 15 books in I got somewhat tired of everything the characters went through. There are lots of scripture references and good storylines, but if there is a car wreck the main character will be in it, no relationship comes together simply, and everyone is plagued with sickness. After giving myself about a 6 month break and then realizing that the local library carried the rest of the collection I hadn’t read, I recently picked back up where I left off. Hey, it has better content and is more entertaining than most shows on TV, right?!

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Lauren Douglas's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)

What have you read lately that you would recommend?

Body Image Part 3: Scripture for Finding Balance

1 Corin 10.31It’s been a challenge, but I’ve enjoyed writing this series and pray that God has/will use it in the lives of others as well. I definitely see Body Image being a recurring topic on this blog.

If you are new here, feel free to catchup at the beginning of the series Intro to Body Image Series, Part 1: Their god is their belly, & Part 2: what now?

In this post, I wanted to share some scriptures & questions I use to check the motives of my heart not just in the summer, but year round. I believe that we as Christians need to watch are hearts more than our waistlines and make sure we are putting everything, including food and body image in line with our relationship with Christ.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”     1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

Am I glorifying God by the way I handle food?

This verse comes out of a passage about questions over food sacrificed to idols, but that heart of it applies to us today. Whatever you do, eating and drinking included, do it for the glory of God. This verse is actually in my kitchen because it’s easy to think that what we eat/don’t eat doesn’t matter to God, but it all does! He cares about all of it and the motives of our hearts because he cares intimately for us & desires the best for us.

Am I bingeing because I need some type of fulfillment/ comfort that I’m looking for apart from God?

Am I controlling obsessively because I ultimately think being skinny will fix everything?

Would God be pleased with how I eat?

              “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 ESV

Is my spiritual fitness and my physical fitness proportion rightly proportioned?

I actually enjoy working out. I don’t always enjoy it while I am doing it, but ultimately I love my time at the gym doing spin, lifting weights, & occasionally I even enjoy running. I know working out helps me physically and emotionally, too. Did I mention my gym has child care and lets me interact with other adults?!

I have been convicted about being too consumed with working out in the past. I’ve had to listen to what Paul tells Timothy in these verses- Bodily Training is of some value, but spiritual fitness is most important.

Or, maybe I’m on the other side of this struggle. This verse isn’t a free ticket to not workout 😉 Am I training and taking care of my body enough? There is value in working out and God calls us to take care of our bodies, but we have to have the right balance.

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Am I focused on being a woman that fears the Lord above all else? I need to realize that “beauty is fleeting” and I can spend my whole life chasing it to no avail, or I can spend my life on something of eternal importance and let beauty come from the inside and as a byproduct of knowing Him (1 Peter 3:4).

Have you ever thought about how much the Bible talks about food, eating, & feasting?

I mean it starts off with food with Adam and Eve & the Old Testament is filled with laws for food preparation. Jesus continues to use food as examples all thought the New Testament from stories about farming for food to starting his ministry at a wedding feast, there is The Last Supper before his crucifixion, & we await a great feast in Heaven.

In Beth Moore’s Deuteronomy study she talks about how eating sets up our need for fulfillment that we can’t provide for ourselves. She also states that food was created as a pure blessing at first, neither feared nor abused.

Wow! We are way off from that today! I remember reading before about the feasting in heaven and thinking that will be so nice just to eat, enjoy and not worry anymore.

Am I actually enjoying food & viewing it as a blessing from God?

I’ve found with all these verses it’s ultimately about finding balance.

Yes, we are called to take care of our bodies through eating right and working out, but we can’t be consumed with it and make it an idol.

Yes, God intended food as a blessing to be enjoyed, but we can be tempted to take our focus off God and just make our focus the food itself.

These verses might help, sharing with someone else might help, finding a balanced eating or workout plan might help, but ultimately we need the Lord.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite verses in dealing with Body Image or eating issues?

Body Image Part 2: What now?

I hate to break it to you, but Swimsuit Season is upon us whether we like it or not. I remember being 16/17 years old in high school and hearing friends talk about not eating for a week leading up to their first swim party of the year or the crash diets leading up to prom. The sad thing is that as adults, I’m not sure that we are really that different.

I remember thinking as a teenage that “Once I’m married I won’t struggle with body image anymore because I’ll have my husband!” or even better, “Once I have kids I’m sure I won’t care how I look. I’ll just be happy to have them.” but really, what was I thinking?!

I’ve found (and I’m thinking that most of you have to) that these struggles don’t go away just because we hit a certain age and stop caring. No matter how much my husband loves me, my struggles are an issue of my heart. No matter how many kids I’ve birthed, I won’t value my body and the gift it is (even if it has changed some) unless my heart changes.

In the Intro to this series and Part 1, we talked about acknowledging our struggle and possibly sin as a heart struggle, but what after that?

For me it is constantly taking it to God, knowing I struggle in this area, asking Him to show me my sin, change my heart, & bring me past this for His glory. Although we are a people that like quick fixes or action plans, it’s not a 1 time and done thing -just like our spiritual sanctification. It’s a process daily, weekly, or whenever I see myself picking the struggle back up again. A process that will point us to Christ and our constant need for him if we let it.

I took a Hip Hop class at my local gym a few weeks ago. It was not only a great workout but it was fun and enjoyable, even to a not so gifted dancer like myself.

From the back of the class I was able to watch everyone dance and be seen by the entire weight section of the gym at the same time… great! There were all kinds of dancers in this class. People of all shapes and sizes, walks of life, some coming straight from work, some SAHMs, all ages, races and even 1 male. As I watched this group dance, I realized something. They ALL danced as if they felt beautiful. They had a confidence (whether their dance moves were perfect or not), a passion, and even a boldness while dancing.

Their bodies didn’t dramatically change in just this hour long class. I’m sure if you stopped them from dancing and asked about their body image struggles, they would still have them. But for this one hour in a gym hip hop class as the dancers focused on the music, and using their bodies for the purpose of performing, the dancers didn’t care about their body struggles- as long as they danced.

What if as Christians we focused on the dance God has called us to instead of being obsessively focused on the bodies He gave us as vessels to serve with?

What would that look like?

So what should I focus on besides my body image?

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

              Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV)

Does this magically fix the number on the scale? No. That’s going to take eating right & exercising just like we know, but we have to fix our focus before we can get to a balanced place.

By no means am I saying I am perfect with my body image struggles. I go through different seasons with it for sure. But I can tell you this, I’m at a better place than I have been before and it’s not because of the number on the scale or because I have nothing I would change about my body. How I’m doing or struggling is related to how focus I am on Christ and usually reflects how I’m doing spiritually.

Next week (yes, I’m committing and planning ahead after a month break), in the last post of this series I’ll share verses I use to keep my heart in check while finding balance with food, body image, & working out.