RAW- guest post by Elisabeth Klein

 


excerpt from Elisabeth Klein’s Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotionals to Help You Heal

 

I know of a woman whose beloved dog died the day after her wedding. Life is funny like that. Every day, we gratefully hold in one hand joys and blessings that are immeasurable, and in the other hand, we begrudgingly hold life’s deep hurts and blinding disappointments.

 

Life does not wait for good timing to bring something our way.

 

And Christmas is no exception.  You may have just entered into a season of pain as the holidays started up. And the newness of the situation has left you not just unsettled and unmoored but raw.

 

You are raw in that you do not know how to process what has swept into your life.  Or you might be raw in that this thing – whatever your thing is – has rubbed you down to your core. It’s like wearing new shoes for a long day of walking and you can feel with every step that skin is being removed.

 

Or, like me, you find yourself raw because an old issue that you thought was either worked through or healed or at the very least buried down deep enough to be a non-issue has resurfaced, and it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable and you do not know what to do with it.

 

We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot heal ourselves.  We want to, because we don’t like to feel unpleasant things, and because we like to think we’re in control.  But we cannot.

 

I think of Mary in those very first moments after the angel left her, before she told anyone of the news of her pregnancy.  She must have felt stripped bare.  She must have been beyond confused. She must have been in awe.  She must have been raw.

 

And yet, bless her heart, her kneejerk reaction was to submit in obedience.

 

Let it be to me according to your word, she said.

 

In her rawness, she obeyed. In her rawness, she laid down her dreams for her life.  In her rawness, she turned her heart to God.

 

…Let the bones you have crushed rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

 

God, I am without a way to heal myself today. I cannot take away my own pain. I am bare before you, I am weak, I am raw. I need you. Please cover me and heal me.  Amen.

beth

 

Elisabeth Klein is grateful new wife to Richard, and mom and now stepmom to five. She writes regularly at www.elisabethklein.com/blog and desires to help hurting women by bringing them hope. You may order your copy of Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal here.

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Heart Matters- Guest post by Sarah Wilson

I decided to write this book, not because motherhood has been a breeze for me, but because it hasn’t been. In fact, this book has been borne out of my struggles, rather than my successes. These struggles are common to most mothers, yet they remain unarticulated. A conspiracy of silence seems to exist around motherhood, yet the well-being of mothers is worth talking about. If we were to believe what we see on television or social media, we might be forgiven for thinking that motherhood is all about apple pie, roses, and rainbows. We are probably all familiar with photos of a smiling family dressed in white on a white couch in an immaculate living room. I don’t know about you, but my family doesn’t look like this! And no one I know with children has a white couch!’

 

Many who have experienced early motherhood might agree that it is a life-changing rollercoaster journey full of highs and lows. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride! It can be enjoyable, exhilarating, exhausting and terrifying. Early motherhood can be a deeply fulfilling experience, yet it can also be a testing time for many women. Motherhood is achingly beautiful, yet it can also bring pain and heartache. Matters of the Heart in Early Motherhood is an honest look at the joys and challenges of early motherhood from a Christian perspective. It’s a motherhood myth-buster, melding psychological research with spiritual nourishment. This book is about getting to the heart issues of motherhood. The heart is the seat of who we are. Yet many heart issues can arise when we become mothers. ‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’ discusses how we can recognise and process the emotions that surface, and how we can be encouraged that we are not alone in this season of life. In this book I also offer clear-eyed elements of my story and the stories of other mothers, including the scrapes and bruises we have acquired on our journey through early motherhood.

 

Why another book on motherhood? Well there seem to be many pressures on families today. New mothers have to navigate a minefield of conflicting advice and often parent without close support networks around. Consequently, many mothers of young children sometimes feel unable to trust their instincts.   This book offers hope and healing to mothers of young children who have overwhelmed hearts – those, like me, who have sometimes felt alone, fearful,  discouraged, or just plain weary in their journey through early motherhood. This book discusses what it is like to be a mother of young children today, and encourages mothers to trust in God’s abundant grace, developing confidence as they parent their little ones. Each chapter invites the reader into important discussions, from the pressures and expectations that mothers grapple with, to mess, miscarriage, marriage, and postnatal depression. This book aims to minister to the hearts of all mothers, whether they are married or parenting alone, staying at home or going out to work. A must-read for any mother immersed in the terrific yet testing time of raising little ones, and for anyone who wishes to thrive rather than just survive in the trenches.

 

What others are saying about ‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’

‘Each chapter is a breath of fresh air.’

Trina Pockett, Author of Unexpected: Grit, Grace and Life “In Between.’

 

‘Sarah presents an encouraging, balanced study on what it means to be a mother today, and it is an excellent companion in the challenging years that accompany mothers of young children.’ Mary Crosson, Children’s Author, Midwife, Pastor’s Wife and Mother of three.

 

‘Sarah writes with transparency, insight and encouragement of her early parenting experiences. She offers a frank and supportive message to parents and a word to the Church about it’s role in caring for today’s family’.

Robyn Appleton, Children’s Pastor, Nurse and Mother of three and Grandmother of three.

 

Questions & Answers:

Q: Why did I write the book?

A: When I had my first child 8 and a half years ago, I longed for a book that put into words what I was feeling and experiencing. Of course I loved motherhood, and it was amazing, but it was also much harder than I ever imagined it would be. It was a steep learning curve! I decided to write the book that I needed to read in my early years of motherhood.

Q: Who is the book for?

A: Anyone in the trenches of early motherhood. If you are a Mum that has it all together, then you don’t need to read this book. But if you have ever felt weary, struggling, or in need of encouragement (isn’t that most of us?) then it is my hope that this book would be a balm for your soul.

Q: How would you sum up this book in one sentence?

A: This book aims to encourage the heart of mothers in the early years.

Q: What was the hardest part to write?

A: Being vulnerable hasn’t come easily to this private person. Sharing my heart in the pages of this book has been a brave step for me.

Q: How do you find time to write a book when you are a mother?

A: I’ve squeezed in writing in the small pockets of time that I have available – when the children are at school & kindergarten, and late into the night.

What is your next book going to be?

My next book is going to be about ‘Restoring Hope in Depression’.

‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’ will be available in paperback and ebook through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and ‘The Book Depository.

By purchasing a copy of my book you will help free people from slavery. All royalties will be donated to A21 campaign – a campaign to abolish modern day slavery. See www.A21.com

 

sarahwilson

Sarah Wilson is a wife and mother to three little lovelies, a ‘Director of Domestic Affairs’, currently living in Dunedin, New Zealand, but about to move with her family to England! A psychologist by training, she practised in special education before her children were born. Since her children arrived on the scene she has taught a little at the local university. She has also completed Christian counselling and prayer ministry training, and has led the prayer ministry at her church. Sarah is a keen blogger and a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild. Other interests include playing music, and having fun with graphic design, photography and all things creative.

Social media links:
Blog: www.latteslacedwithgrace.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lattegracelaced

Facebook: www.facebook.com/latteslacedwithgrace

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lattegracelaced/

8 things I remembered about my husband- guest post by Kaelyn Benham

 

 

 

kae

 

I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to surround ourselves with those who speak truth and share their stories. Kaelyn Benham is joining us again this week to share a part of her redemptive story. I am so honored and blessed to call her friend. She not only lives in freedom but loves in it too. 

 

I have been purging everything lately. EVERY. THING. Donating things, selling things, and handing things down and over to move them from my house. I am doing this in attempt to “ keep the main things the main things.” The process has been time consuming, but part of a larger focus on only the things that matter.

This past weekend the bookshelf was my target. As I pulled books off the shelf that we no longer need to refer to I started noticing things. A note fell out of a book that my husband and I were reading shortly after my first son was born. He had begun traveling and while he was away I would find these notes tucked in all kinds of different places telling me he loved me and that he was thinking of me. Some were silly and some were deeper and more meaningful.

As I sat there with note in hand, I started looking through the books that I was about to get rid of and was flooded with this appreciation for all we had been through together. With the kids, our growth, the travel, our healing, and all kinds of other ways the Lord was reminding me of who my husband was.

8 things I remembered about my husband while cleaning out our bookshelf

  • He takes his responsibilities seriously

He read every one of the books we have on parenting. When he knows that he has something he is responsible for, he does HIS best. He doesn’t go around it he moves and learns his way through it. He steps up to the plate.

  • He knows love is an action

He loves us all with his words of course, but He acts in love by sacrificing time and efforts to make sure we know we are loved. He was the “master-swaddler” and really took all that he had read and put it to action to provide a safe and secure place for our kiddos and me.

  • He makes me a priority

He keeps our marriage sacred by honoring it over all other relationships in the house. We check in with each other and work together so we both have what we need. He recognized in books where it said this was important.

  • He needs to be reminded

Just like he marked these pages as reminders, he needs to be reminded on occasion what is REALLY important. I should not expect that if he heard it 1 time he knows it completely.

  • He knows he can’t do it alone

He often seeks counsel and reads about topics that he is leaning about. These books are just a fraction of “resources” that were engaged when we first started to experience parenting.

  • He is humble and not ashamed to say he doesn’t know

I remember after our second son was born he asked to get the books out again so we could practice and get a refresh on some techniques that really were helpful to us.

  • He is not perfect, but shows up to practice

We would argue some about our different approaches and sometimes it would cause a rift between us for some time, but we would always come back together and “practice” what needed to be worked on TOGETHER.

  • He always wants to learn and grow

This is the CORE of who my husband is. Humble and always knowing there is more to learn.

You can imagine after having this moment with the books, I ran to find him and told him I was thankful for him. Not because he is perfect. Not because our marriage is perfect. But because I remembered the “main thing” and I was focused on that.

To read more about Kaelyn and find out where she will be next you can follow these links.

http://www.kaelynbenham.com/

http://bit.ly/1zE6033

My Unsexy Missional Life- a reflection and review of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

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I wish I could say I had something profound to say. Something to say that would make you want to change your life. But today, at this moment, all I want to do is lay flat on my face before Jesus. I want to cling to his feet and beg Him to tell me that none of this is true. That the unthinkable suffering and death that we have seen in these last weeks is not true. I want to scream at God and tell Him to take it all away. To make Himself known on this earth. I want Him to stand before me and tell me that we will wake up from this hellish nightmare that continues to flash before us on every media avenue. I know it sounds arrogant and demanding. But there are some days I just need my Father God to hold me and take all the anxiety away.
But I know He is. He is here. He is in you. He is in me. He is the prayer that we plead. He is in the tears that wet our pillows at night.
I have been feeling helpless. II imagine that I am not alone in this feeling. Helpless in the struggle. I can read. I can watch videos or TV. (I didn’t, I can’t. Call me a coward, but I call it guarding my mind. I don’t need to see Satan to know he exists.)

But what can I do?
But what can we do?
We can do the next right thing. I know it seems obsolete. Like it will make no difference at all. But it does. I am not saying that to change the world, to take away its evil you need to join the Peace Corps or move to Africa ( my hippie self wanted to do both, and I still do) . But in the small and large decisions that we make every day we can be a part of the healing.
This summer I have been privileged enough to be asked to read and review a book that literally wrecked me. I have been ready for a change and especially these past few weeks I have been aching for it.

 

If you are plagued with tension or discontent or a nagging sense that there must be more- that there has to be a faith somewhere that rings true and hopeful and gracious, a faith other that this mean, ugly, partisan, judgmental, self- indulgent version of Christianity, which has to be total bunk-then get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. God has blessed you with this inner conflict. He isn’t leaving you in complacency and boredom to check boxes and do church. He has enlisted you in the cause of your generation and is calling you forward. You lucky think. You will not be left and lost, wondering what all the fuss is about. Wishing things would never change. – Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted.

 

Jen Hatmaker’s newest book Interrupted, revised & expanded, she suggests that to be the church, a world changer, a mission minded person you just have to do the next right thing. And sometimes the next right thing isn’t what you are thinking it is.
What does it look like?
This is it. We can follow our Jesus to every dark, scary, broken place He just insists on going, determined to heal and restore people, because He is a good Savior and we can trust Him. (Interrupted,xx1)
It doesn’t mean the next right thing that feels good. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make you more popular. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make those around you pleased.
It means quieting your soul and asking your creator what it is that HE wants you to do in that moment.
For years after I first visited Liberia, Africa with Samaritans Purse I assumed the next right thing to do was to move there. I came home and immediately started pestering praying that my husband would take a job with Samaritans Purse as a teacher. We would move our entire family overseas and I could raise my kids with red dirt on their feet. I knew that God would agree with my plan, He had to, it was His kind of work. But the next right thing, was my right thing. and God was nowhere in my motives, or at least my timing of it all. The next right thing was to wait.
We waited and I ended up traveling back to Africa two more times for two different reasons. Both were amazing trips and I felt like that is where I was supposed to be at that time.

And here we are, years later and a huge shift has occurred in my life and thinking. God has clearly revealed to me that my mission, my next right thing, is the seven people under my roof I claim to love. ( yes, I included myself, because self care is vital to healing).

 

There is no t- shirt for my mission that I have been called to at this time. It’s not sexy to say that I am in the trenches with a sick child we cannot find the diagnosis for, a child who self- harms, and a marriage that needs to be more than two roommates existing. No one is going to organize a fundraiser or create an Etsy page to pay all the medical and therapy bills. There is no “home from the therapists” gathering as we come home. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It’s lonely. And usually that is just my heart.
Me getting on a plane to Africa and serving in a third world country was easy for me. Leaving my family to fly across the world was safe for me at that time. It was safer for me to serve, than it was to face what was about to happen at home.
I needed to really look  and be honest with what was going on around me. To stop working with the big and sexy missions at this point in my life. The missions that get the attention, the blogs, and the t-shirts and start serving the ones under my roof. To pay attention to the disconnect. To acknowledge the silence in between commercials. To admit that I would rather be with my friends than try and connect with my husband.
The moment I realized that I only have two summers with my oldest home and that doesn’t sound like enough ice creams in my heart, I knew that this is where I am called to serve. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t going to get any media attention. But that is the thing. To be the church. To be the church that is missional and different we need to just do the next right thing. And the next right thing for me is to love the people under my roof well.
What is your next right thing? How can you be a part of a missional church?
I am giving away two copies of this life changing book! In order to be entered into the drawing leave a comment below telling me what your next right thing or tell me that you have shared this post. I am telling you if you read no other book this fall this one has to be it!

 

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she teaches me grace- Unraveled.

If there is one thing that has brought me to my knees this year it is grace. Grace that has been poured over me. When I have deserved it least, grace has been given freely to me. I have been humbled and convicted by how much grace I have received yet how much I choose to give it to only those I think deserve it. I am embarrassed and ashamed at times how frugal I am with grace. I’ve learned how exhausting it is to live under the law and not under grace. The law is where anxiety, fear, judgment, anger, resentment, jealousy, control and idols live. Grace is where I desire to live. Grace is freedom. Grace is where truth lies.

One of the most grace filled people I know released her newest book today. Elisabeth Klein Corcoran has taught me through the years to give myself grace, speak truth, and love Jesus more than anything. I have been honored to watch her walk through the most difficult time in her life. I have seen her defend her children, her faith, her heart and her honor.

If you are in a difficult marriage or know someone who is I recommend this book. She has written with clarity and truth. In her words you find healing. She is the story of grace. Grace given. Grace received. And by grace saved.

Toes in the sand reading.

The beach. My children. And a book is all I need for a perfect day. Nothing says that is going to be a great summer more than a face full of freckles and a bag full of books. So as the summer grows closer I blog creep, and Facebook creep others posts on what they are reading. I pretty much know from their book choices if we could be friends in the “real “world. So far I know that Tina Fey and Jen Hatmaker would be my BFF’s. So here is my summer reading list and the books that I have read this past winter . Some I may read all of and some I just get bored and move on. But most nights I go to bed with three or four books. I also keep one in my purse so in case I get bored with reading magazines in the waiting rooms. I put them in three categories for you.

Books I am reading

The Whole- Brain ChildThis was recommended by a fellow adoptive mama . I was skeptical. Like I don’t read medical books. I don’t really have a desire to know how things work. I just want them to. But I checked it out of the library and kept reading it. And then I rang up a huge fine and decided I just better buy it. So here I am with my brand new copy and I am enjoying it. Not like a “spa day enjoy” more like a light just came on in my heart about all of my children enjoy. It really works. Not only for adoptive families but for any family that wants to be better at understanding each other.

Love Does by Bob Goff. I have read most of it but then lent it out before I finished. So its back on my purse. I plan on finishing it this next week. Or tonight. Its really that good. It’s up there with Crazy Love on my list.

Bothers K . I got this recommendation from Facebook creeping. My friend Amy and I have similar interests and passions. So when someone recommended this novel to her and then others agreed I knew I had found my new book. I love this book. It is reminding me of East of Eden and We Were the Mulvaneys with a dose of baseball thrown in. It is wonderfully written and I am brought to another time and family when I am reading.

Books I have read in the last six months

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen- this book fed my soul. Literally there were moments when I just opened up to a page and prayed that it would speak to me. It did more than speak to me. It helped heal me. I felt like God himself was writing a letter to me so intimate and personal that no one would understand. If you know of anyone going through depression or loss in anyway please send them this book. My sweet friend sent this to me years ago. Never knowing that in my darkest moments this past winter my heart would heal in those pages.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I could not put this book down. I am a foody. And by that I mean I like to eat food. Throw in that she talks about West Michigan a lot and her love of her friends and I feel like she is breathing into my soul. Run and get this book. Or have a glass of wine and then go get this book.

Carry on Warrior. This was an easy read for me. I have mixed feelings about this one. She had me laughing hysterically one chapter. Crying the next and then beyond mad the next. Her views on some issues I don’t agree with and we could have some serious discussions over coffee about it. But all in all it is a quick and fun read.

Pope Joan– Okay .I lied I read this in Uganda. I thought it would last me the entire time I was there. Who was I kidding. I had it done in a matter of days. It was a fascinating book. I would read it again and again. Except I know how it ends. So, there is that.

Books on my amazon wish list

And the Mountains Echoed. – Because I have loved everything he has ever written. You may be familiar with a little book called The Kite Runner. Yep. I have heard this book is even better!

Let’s Explore Diabetes With OwlsDavid Sedaris. Need I say more? Those of you that don’t like sarcasm don’t read it. Also don’t read it if you don’t want to laugh. It is probably not rated G either.

Wrecked – Jeff Goins. I just need some more wrecking of my life. I need more Jesus and less of me. Like a whole lot less of me.

Storyline: Finding your story in God’s subplot – This past year has rocked me to the core. I am still climbing out. I am still trying to catch my breath and find the courage to write my story. It’s all in my computer. It’s me standing in the way. And I know Donald Miller gets it. He gets what it is like to be a writer and the fear that comes with it.

I would love to hear what you are reading or want to read this summer!