From Shock to Confession

I was at She Speaks the first time I met Emily Freeman, and I thought she was the cutest, funniest, quirkiest (and I LOVE quirky) girl I had ever met.  I still feel the same.

But after reading Grace for the Good Girl and then Simply Tuesday, I thought she might be my artsy, more intellectual alter-ego. Seriously, the way she processes life has mirrored mine in so many ways.

Simply Tuesday was just the right book at just the right time for me—just as I fell into a pit of despair about my own book—and I’m forever grateful for Emily’s words of encouragement found attached to the spine of a great read. Here’s an excerpt she’s allowed me to share. Welcome, Emily!

Be Loved. (1)

One day last week I’m struggling through those old kinds of struggles that never seem to fully go away— self-acceptance, over-thinking, fear. My mind cycles through them as they sit on the lazy Susan of my soul. Pick one up, turn the wheel, put it back again.

So the Susan is spinning at the rate of the world and John walks in to my sunroom office to ask me a simple question and I snap at him for interrupting me as if he had just told me off or insulted my hair or said I looked fat. In fact, he only asked me if I needed anything from the store.

My response has nothing to do with him and everything to do the discouragement festering in my own soul, but I immediately feel both terrible as well as strangely justified.

After we talk through it, after I apologize, after I turn back to my desk to continue my work, I am forced to face the state of my soul. My first response is shock—I can’t believe I just did that. My second response is shame—What a terrible person I am.

Shock and shame are my most natural and immediate responses when I make a bad choice or have a bad reaction. My shock and shame response is a better indicator of the condition of my own soul than having the bad thought or choosing poorly in the first place. If I feel shocked and ashamed when I snap at my husband, maybe I am assuming I can handle life on my own and don’t need redemption, not really. And so when my soul has a bad idea, I can’t believe it….

Shock and shame keep my head a clean distance from my heart. That is a dangerous place to live. I don’t want this kind of disconnected life. The answer isn’t to shame myself into better things. That never works.

Instead, I want to stop being shocked by my own capacity for terrible thoughts and bad behavior. Until I stop being shocked, I will continue to gasp and gawk at every foul thought that comes into my mind. I will constantly point to some imaginary version of myself and then return to my real self and the incongruence between the two will bring only dizziness, discouragement, and hopelessness. My soul simply can’t survive the whiplash.

I have an insane capacity for jealousy, selfishness, hoarding, backstabbing, criticism, revenge, and procrastination. The answer to dealing with the shocking thoughts and behavior I’m capable of is to refuse to be shocked in the first place.

Instead, confess and turn toward love. Be loved. Be small. Belong to Christ.

I want to learn to keep company with my weakness even as I practice walking in the New Way of Christ. The only way I know to do this is to confess, both my sin and Christ’s righteousness–to continually accept my capacity for sin, but embrace my potential for health, restoration love, forgiveness, patience, and hope in Christ.

I want to remember I am capable of making bad choices while also bearing in mind the baffling choice of God: he chose to make his home in me even though he knew exactly what he was getting himself into.

I want to always see my ability to choose the old but rejoice in my freedom not to.

I want to be aware of the darkness but identify with the light.

Refuse to be shocked, confess your smallness, and receive grace, forgiveness, renewal, and belief.

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EmilyThat’s some crazy good truth, isn’t it? If you’d like more of where that came from, leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Simply Tuesday and Breaking Up with Perfect. I hope YOU win! 

Also, to connect with the cutest, funniest, quirkiest God-girl you’ve ever met, visit Emily at her blog by clicking here.

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Breaking UpwithPerfect

And don’t forget to get all your ducks in a row to be part of my FREE online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect starting August 1. Click here for all the details and to sign up.

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Love Idol & An Invite

I’m so excited to share this week’s podcast with you!!! Cheri and I interviewed Jennifer Dukes Lee about her book Love Idol, and she instantly became one of my new favorite people. You’re going to love her too!

She shared a word that’s been changing my life ever since we talked to her. Don’t miss it! (Also, the free dowloads are to die for, and I’m printing out Every. Single. One.) Please read the rest of the post and then go to the podcast by clicking on the image.

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I had a little melt-down this week when I realized that my special invitation to my subscribers was cut off from what you got in your email box this week, so here’s a copy. I wouldn’t leave you out for anything!

Breaking UpwithPerfect

 

On August 1st, I’m going to start a study of Breaking Up with Perfect right here on the blog and also on a private Facebook page. If you struggle with hiding behind a facade of perfection… If you wonder why your relationships aren’t what you want them to be… If you are exhausted from trying (and failing!) to live the perfect life… then this study is for you!

Click here to find out all the details and to sign up today!

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My Strange Super-Power (and an invite to join me!)

With shaking hands and a queasy stomach, I tried an experiment today. I did my first Facebook Live video today, and here it is! (If you’re getting this in your email, you might need to click here to watch the video.)

 

On my first FB Live ?, I reveal my strange super-power. Be ready to share yours at the end! ?

Posted by Amy Carroll on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I’d love for YOU to be there live next time so you and I can connect personally through your comments, so consider “liking” my page while you’re there.

I also have a second invite for you!

Breaking UpwithPerfect

On August 1st, I’m going to start a study of Breaking Up with Perfect right here on the blog and also on a private Facebook page. If you struggle with hiding behind a facade of perfection… If you wonder why your relationships aren’t what you want them to be… If you are exhausted from trying (and failing!) to live the perfect life… then this study is for you!

Click here to find out all the details and to sign up today!

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How to Squash the Love-Killers in Our Marriage

Eps-2-Header-Facebook-Share1-550-widthEpisode #02 of Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules is ready to go! Here’s the scoop:

Unrealistic expectations are the stealthy, silent love-killers in our marriages. To let love triumph over outcomes, we have to start reigning in our expectations and allowing love to thrive.

Cheri and Amy discuss the root of expectations and steps to shift our focus to create a more positive dynamic in our marriages.

Click here to go listen.

Not convinced that Grit ‘n’ Grace is for you? Here’s more of the scoop:

Grit ‘n’ Grace is refreshment for women worn out from following bad rules, working to keep everybody else happy, and overextending their time and emotions. Through interviews with insightful and inspiring guests, Cheri Gregory and Amy Carroll will help you to:

~ Recalculate your journey from our culture’s bad rules to your own Jesus-made path.
~ Overcome error terror as you commit to learning from failure.
~ Replace the exhaustion of self-made goodness with the rest of God’s grace.
~ Discern whose input to invite and whose feedback to forget.
~ Leverage the strength of your emotions instead of either ignoring or being ruled by them.

So join us with your favorite cup of sweet tea and listen in weekly for a new episode of Grit ‘n’ Grace.

There’s a great giveaway and a practical, beautiful and FREE download. Don’t miss out! Click here to go and try it out.

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When People Want to Tell You Who You Are

I got a nasty-gram last week. She said that I’m spoiled. Indulged. Ungrateful. Whiny. A bad example. And unchristian.

Ouch!

The truth is that I can be all those things on occasion. Can’t you? (If think you’re never any of those things ever, you might want to unsubscribe from my blog today. We’re going to keep it real here.)

I’m not defined by those flaws, though. They aren’t the predominate markers of my character, but that’s only because of Jesus. Without Him and Holy Spirit who lives in me, I’d sink to all the lowest denominators. I’m sure of it.

But because of Jesus, those names don’t stick to me. In fact, I was able to laugh at such a caricature and also to have an achy heart for the hurt of the person who would write such things to me.

How have I gotten to that place? You might want to know since we all deal with nasty-grams in some form, and they aren’t fun.

First, I have compassion on the person that called me those names because I’ve done the same thing to others. I’m not bold enough to write them in a comment, but I sure have thought them. Based on my own flawed perceptions, I’ve labeled others with my own list of negatives. A series of events in the last few weeks have reminded me to remember that there are tender hearts on the other side of conflict. My perceptions don’t always reflect the whole story, so labels and names have no place.

Second, I’m learning to remind myself of the names that God calls me so that the way others define me doesn’t touch me.

I’ve been reflecting on this particularly in the sense of calling. What if my calling is questioned by others? What if the work of my calling is actually stripped away by circumstances? What does that mean for me?

I thought about Paul who constantly started his letters to the churches with a statement of his calling:

Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…

I Cor. 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”

II Cor. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”

Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”

Ephes. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Look what he did there! Called them by their name too!)

Over and over again, Paul restated his calling. Check out all his letters. They almost all start this way. Why?

I definitely think it was a reminder to the church, but could it be that Paul was reminding himself too? Had people attacked him and questioned his calling?

We know they had! In II Corinthians 10:10, Paul said, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'” Whew. Sounds like Paul received a nasty-gram or two himself, and the whole chapter sounds like a defense of his calling.

Let’s do what Paul did. Instead of being crushed under the weight of the words of those who misunderstand us or want to purposefully discourage us, let’s remind ourselves of this truth over and over:

Today, if you’re overcome by unearned criticism, the negative commentary of naysayers, or circumstances that aren’t going your way, put your trust in God’s hands and repeat like Paul repeated, “I __(insert your name here)__, am called to __(insert your calling)__.!”

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I want y’all to know that I read every comment, and you are each precious to me for leaving it. Although there are too many to reply to them all, I pray over them as I read. You are loved!

Congratulations to Tammy (6.10.16 7:22 am)! You are the winner of a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect from your comment left last week.

 

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Daily Joy Reminders

Choose joy. That’s a phrase that sometimes inspires a better attitude and sometimes makes me flash hot–depending on how and when it’s dished out. 🙂

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Today’s devotion tells you how I’m learning how to choose joy even on the grouchy days, but some days nothing will do except something right in front of my face. So for all of you who are visual learners like me, I’ve created a printable of joy reminders to stick anywhere you need it on the days you need it most.

Joy Reminders(Click on the image to download.)

For twice a week encouragement, make sure to join me on the joy journey by subscribing to the blog. Click here to subscribe and receive posts straight to your email box.

And before you go… leave a comment about how you find joy in the journey as your entry to win a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You.

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Introducing Grit ‘n’ Grace

Have you ever been in a slump? And then something comes around to fan your flames and re-energize you? That’s what’s been happening in my life in the few weeks.

About 6 weeks ago, my friend Cheri Gregory called me and asked me to co-host the podcast she was planning to start. When somebody asks me a question that I know is going to add a “plate” to the ones already spinning, I usually stall. And then I pray. And then I say NO!

This time was different, though. First, I love Cheri and the way her amazing brain spins out ideas like sparkler sparks. I also knew that my slump was partially from sitting alone in front of a computer screen for too many hours, and this project meant spending time with Cheri and lots of other fascinating people.

I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t even pray. (Sometimes you just know a God thing the minute you hear it!)

I said YES!!

Here’s how it’s going to work on my end. I’ll be posting here twice a week now. One day a week will be the same as it’s always been– some thoughts from me. The other day will be a lead-in and a link to Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules with all the goodies involved over at Cheri’s blog. Here’s what you’ll get there:

  • The podcast. We’re keeping it to 20 minutes max, and we’ve got some amazing interviews lined up–like so amazing that I can barely sleep at night for thinking about the next person we get to talk to! Also, Cheri and I are committed to giving you something usable every week in a fun format. That girl is funny, and she’s bringing out my funny too. (Note: The first two are on marriage, but hang in there, single friends. We’ve got lots coming that’s for the whole crowd.)
  • Fun Downloads. This week there’s a printable coloring page with a life-changing statement.
  • Giveaways. Almost every week our guests will be giving away a copy of their book or another resource. I love free stuff, and I know you do too!

So… without further ado… here’s:

FINAL Grit n Grace Logo

Podcast Episode #1: The Secret to Disappointment-Proofing Your Marriage

Do you long for a better marriage but just can’t seem to figure out how to change directions and erase the disappointment you feel? Kathi Lipp, author of The Husband Project, gives practical advice and one key secret for disappointment-proofing our marriages. Also, hear why Cheri Gregory and Amy Carroll started this podcast and why it’s for you!

Click here to listen to the podcast and see goodies.

I’d like your feedback, too. We’re newbies at this, so let us know what you like, what’s not your favorite, and who you’d like to hear interviewed!

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How Do I Find a Mentor?

**I know that the mobile version of my posts can be a little strange. Please hang in there with me! We’re working on it and hope to have some solutions soon. In the meantime, you can click on the title when you’re on your laptop or desktop so that you can read it more easily. Thanks for grace, friends!

I was overwhelmed by the response to last week’s devotion and blog post. I’m pretty sure that’s the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a post. Although I know the giveaway was the big draw;), I think the response also exposes the longing of our hearts. We long to be connected in both giving and receiving relationships.

The post was a call to give of ourselves, but many of you indicated that you’re in need of a mentor. You want to be someone’s One Woman. One reader even sent me an email to ask the big question… How do you find a mentor? Here’s what she said:

I think a Christian mentor would help. I just don’t know how to get one. I was hoping you could give me some ideas? Keep in mind I’m insecure and it’s hard for me to talk to people I don’t know. Thank so much for your time! ~ A Reader

Lots of people have asked me similar questions over the years. One friend even said, “You’re so lucky. I’d love to have one mentor, and you’ve had lots!”

In response, I want to bring a little clarity and give a few suggestions about finding a mentor.

First, I’m not lucky to have had lots of mentors. I’m not special. With the exception of a couple, my mentors didn’t choose me. I chose them– and then followed them around like a crazy stalker girl. You think I’m kidding. But I’m not.

Here’s the key element. To find a great mentor, look for a woman who already has what you know you need.

Mentor

She should have some other qualifications too. She should be:

  • A woman who knows God’s Word and lives by it.
  • A woman who points others to scripture instead of spouting her own opinions.
  • A woman who is known for keeping confidences. You sure don’t want a mentor who is a gossip.
  • A woman who is already living the things you want to learn. She’s proven.

Start with prayer, asking God to show you just the right woman who will be able to mentor you. Dig deep and find your grit. It’s a little scary to ask someone to spend time with you, especially if you struggle with insecurity, but ask God to fill you with His confidence.

Once you’ve found the woman you want to learn from, ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I need some time to talk through an issue with her, or can I just learn by observing?
  • What phase of life is she in? Will she have time to dedicate to being a mentor?
  • How can I serve her as well as asking her to share with me?

Some women will be honored by being asked to be a mentor and will jump at the chance. Others might feel intimidated by either the time or other demands. I suggest simply inviting the woman you’d like to spend time with to lunch or coffee or dessert. Plan to make it a one-time deal to start with and see how it goes.

If the time together goes well, you can say,”I learned so much from talking to you. Could we do this again?” I think it’s good to ease into the mentoring friendship rather than to start with a set time-frame or expectation in mind.

I’ve had some women ask me to mentor them, and sometimes I’ve had to say no because of the phase of life I’m in. Don’t let a “no” discourage you, and don’t take it personally. Continue to pray for the right mentor and continue to reach out. God is faithful, and He will lead you to the right one.

Do you have any other questions about mentoring or thoughts you’d like to share? I’ll try to keep up and answer your questions this week.

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Giveaway Winners:

Congratulations to the 2 winners of last week’s giveaways!! Michelle O’Connor (5/25/16 8:16 am) won copies of Breaking Up with Perfect and The Husband Project. Veronica Morales (5/30/16 6:51 pm) won the 5-book pack. I hope you enjoy the books, ladies!

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It’s a SALE!

Y’all, can I confess to you since we’re friends? I love all things thrifty. A bargain is my bestie. A sale makes me swoon.

And GUESS WHAT?! I’ve been waiting and waiting for Breaking Up with Perfect to go on sale, and now it is!

Copy of ON SALE NOW! (1)

Click here to go Amazon or click here to go to Barnes and Noble, but BEFORE YOU GO, I’d love to ask a favor.

I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t believe in the message in this book from the bottom of my heart. It’s based in God’s Word, and it’s absolutely changing me and changing my life. That’s the weird thing about being an author! This isn’t a book I wrote as an expert. It’s a book I wrote from my struggles and what God taught me before I passed on some lessons to you.

So… knowing how passionate I am about this message, would you help me and share?

All you need to do is to go to my Amy Carroll Facebook page and share the post with your favorite book seller–B & N or Amazon. VOILA! You will have shared a message that’s changing women’s lives, and it’s ON SALE. Did I mention it’s on sale? Yiiiipppppeeeeee!

Thanks friends!! (And thank you for hanging in through all the !!!!!!!!! Can you tell I’m excited?)

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Super-Charging the Power of Your Life

In today’s devotion I talked about the power of one woman. YOU can be that one woman by finding one woman to pour your life into! By passing on the Life Jesus has given to you, you can become part of God’s eternal story. Your story won’t end with you. It will outlast you–super-charged.

Sounds inspiring, right? It seems like more of us would invest in others if the results are that amazing, but I think there’s a huge obstacle.

Let’s break it down a little to make it less intimidating. Titus 2:3-5 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time because I’ve had women who have helped me in every category. Here’s what it says,

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5 NIV)

I’ve had older women do each of these, so let me give you a little picture:

  • “Love their husbands”–Without even knowing I was observing her, Deborah modeled this for me. I had been told that she made a commitment never to speak negatively of her husband. I was skeptical, so I started to watch. Sure enough. In our groups, she always spoke highly of her husband, and I could see the fruit. Although they had elementary-middle school aged kids, the two of them acted like newly weds. Their love for each other was pure and evident.
  • “And children”– My friend Macon would invite me over occasionally for lunch while her kids were growing and before I had any. I watched her lovingly care for her children, instill God’s Word in them, and discipline them firmly yet with grace. She set a standard for me that I wanted to replicate in my own family.
  • “To be self-controlled”— My mouth has always been responsible for lots of my troubles. It’s a struggle for me to control my words, and for a long time I didn’t even think it was important. Mona, a formal mentor when I was leading women’s ministry, lived so differently than I did. She thought about each word she said, measuring it against scripture. She was slow to speak, and wisdom was the hallmark of her life. Through studying the way she lived, I’ve learned discretion and self-control in my speaking. (Most of the time! I’m still in process, and I still struggle here!)
  • “Pure”– Layne, my friend I talked about in today’s devotion, modeled purity for my teen-aged self right at the time I was making important decisions about my sexuality. I’m so thankful for the time she lived in my backyard, because I was on the path to some devastating choices.
  • “To be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands”– My mother covered these three beautifully. If any of her friends were asked what she’s known for, I would guess that they’d say her kindness, her well-run home, and her loving relationship with my dad. Mamas, don’t underestimate the power you have in your children’s lives. My mom has been my main influence, and she’s my One Woman of all women!

I wanted to paint these pictures for you so that you can see that you DO have something to pass on. Some mentoring is formal while some is living life beside each other. Some is of a theological/teaching nature while some is very practical. Much of it is purely relational.

As a way to encourage you to look for your One Woman, I have a special giveaway today. I’ve included a variety books from my friends so that you’ll have a choice of one to walk through with your One Woman.

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Come with Me by Suzie Eller

In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo

It’s Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nick Koziarz

Breaking Up with Perfect by Amy Carroll

This is quite a package, so please enter today to win! To enter, leave a comment, or if you’re living life on the fly, simply leave a comment saying, “I’m passing on what I’ve been given.”

I’m so happy you’ve been here today, and I’d love for you to join me every week and all along the journey! Click here to subscribe and click here to like my Facebook page.

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