Something Sweet

We’re women, so by definition we wear lots of hats.



Domestic consultant

Family CEO

You know the deal, and I’m sure if you made a list of all your rolls, you could fill pages with all your gifts, responsibilities, and life investments. Sometimes the enormity of it all can make your head spin!

Last week I spent the week in FL with Barry. While he was on the road in his new territory, I worked at my computer in the hotel room, but I also took advantage of the workout room. And I worked HARD.

I sweated and toiled on the treadmill (thank goodness that Chip and Joanna were my companions to mix in some fun with the work), and by the end of the week, all my discipline really felt good. My pants were a little looser too. That’ll make a girl say hallelujah!

Whether you’re running on a treadmill or creating at your work or vacuuming in your home, I know you’ve been working hard too. We’re fulfilling the God-created blessing of work and this scripture…

She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 31: 17)

All that work and discipline and work felt good, but late in the week, Barry and I were walking along through the business district near the hotel when we spotted a sign that said “French bakery” across the street. Oh dear.

I agonized for a bit, but then I decided that all that work deserved a little something sweet. The 80/20 rule, you know?So we hoped right across the street and bought this little box of goodness.

I’ve had macarons bought in a store before, and they’re ok, but they in no way compare to the scrumptiousness of these little jewels. We truly shared them one at a time because the yumminess of each bite was so satisfying. I’m grieving that I’m now home and so many miles away from more, but that’s probably God’s provision for my waistline! Enough about macarons already….

Here’s my profound permission for you:

Do something sweet for yourself today.

Seriously. Work hard at all the Lord has given you to do. Sweat and toil, because He’s embedded joy and satisfaction in it. But He made life sweet too. It’s to be enjoyed, not just endured, so do something to add a little sweetness today.

Cuddle with a grandchild.

Lay in the sunshine with a book.

Make your favorite cookies.

Turn up the radio and sing out loud.


Whatever delights your heart and seems sweet to your soul, take a little time to indulge amidst the work of your day.


An exciting announcement:

You know me as mom, wife, speaker, writer… but maybe you don’t know I’m also a speaker coach. (Those of you who aren’t speakers or writers probably have friends who are, so would you hang in there with the post and consider sharing? I’d be so grateful!)

This week my partner Melanie Chitwood and I launched a brand new home for Next Step Coaching Services where we serve speakers and writers. I’m so, so excited about the new site, because it was designed to share lots and lots of free help along with information about our individualized coaching.

If you haven’t seen the site yet, I invite you to click on the graphic below and take a peek. I hope it encourages you, and I’d be so honored if you’d share it up.

Love being in community with y’all!

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God, Give Me Your Heart for My World

Sometimes writing a devotion is hard. I labor for hours over the right story and the right words to express God’s truth. The devotion published today was different. It flowed out of me quickly, because it’s right where God has been stretching and growing me.

Our church has been doing a series about sharing our faith that has been excellent, and God has been calling me to be both broken and bold as I move through this world interacting with people. It’s amazing the conversations that God sparks when you want to share your faith, and I’ve been excited as I’ve watched Him move in my own sphere of influence.

You have influence too, and the people around you need Jesus’ hope. Maybe you’re excited to share, but you’re a little afraid too. (So normal–me too!) You feel unequipped to talk about Jesus to others.

I want to leave you today with some ways to feel more confident about sharing your faith. It’s my desire that you feel passionate about investing the Greatest Gift ever given–salvation– in someone else.

Several years ago, I did a blog series about sharing your faith story in a simple way. Here are the links to that series as a free resource for you:

Sharing His Story in Your Life

Step 1– Tell Your Story

Step 2– Connect Your Story

Step 3– Make Jesus the Hero

Step 4– End with Inspiration

Also, I have a GIVEAWAY today of my all-time favorite book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker & Into the World by Rebecca Pippert. It’s an oldie but goodie that changed my life and my way of thinking in college.

Leave a comment for a chance to win Out of the SaltshakerYou can tell me about a time you’ve shared Jesus with someone or if you’re living life on the fly, you can just put the first name of the person that you want to reach. I’ll be praying for openings for conversation over this Holy Week!

If you love freebies (and who doesn’t?!), you can get a free chapter of my book Breaking Up with Perfect by clicking here. There are also adorable free screen savers on the site that you can download when you click here!

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A Prayer for My Marriage

A special welcome to those who are visiting from today’s devotion. I’m glad you’re here!

Marriage is one of the topics that I write about with fear and trembling. Although I’m happily married and love being married, we’ve experienced the bumps of life and living together just like you. It was only the picture of the couple in the devotion that compelled me to write about marriage. Watching them together was both exquisite and heart-breaking, but they challenged me to live my vows better.

I want to keep it short and sweet today, simply offering a prayer that you can pray for your marriage. I’m going to God with the same words.

Feel free to download and print it by clicking on the graphic.

Know that today I am praying for the marriage of each person that visits the blog. I’m in this with you, sisters!

Note: If you are in a struggling marriage, I know this topic is particularly painful. My heart is with you.

If you’re experiencing abuse of any kind, please, please enlist the support of a friend and call the domestic violence hotline in your area today. The devotion and prayer today are not to guilt you into staying in an abusive marriage. God loves you and prioritizes your safety.


We’re building a community here of those who want to replace the exhaustion of chasing perfection with the joy of deeper relationships. Want to join us? If so, click on the graphic below to receive “Five Days to Himperfection” for free along with a weekly encouraging email.

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When You Lend a Helping Hand

‘Tis the season for giving, and I have to confess that I mostly like it that way. I’m much more comfortable with giving.

In God’s calendar, though, there are seasons for both giving and receiving. As I shared in today’s devotion, “When You Need a Helping Hand“, I’m incredibly thankful for the women who have shared their life with me when I’m in need. They spurred my desire to grow and mature!


Growth and maturity. That’s the goal.

How do we know that we’ve matured? (Not “arrived” but grown up a little.) Mature women look around for those who they can help. This is the beautiful cycle that passes the Good News from one generation to the next. Paul was the perfect example in how he trained Timothy and then said to him, “ And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (II Timothy 2:2 NIV)

If you need a hand, how do you find it? If you have a hand to lend, how can you find who needs it? Strangely, the answer is the same for both.

We need to serve to connect.

In the spirit of Christmas giving and to give you a little help in a season when your brain may be weary, I’ve made a download to get you started. Click on the graphic below to download and print. I hope it helps!

Since this is my last post before Christmas, I’d like to offer two other free gifts to you!

Click on the graphic above, enter your email, and receive a download of this mini-ebook along with an encouraging blog post in your email each week.

Click on this graphic, enter your email, and receive 12 permission slips to break bad rules along with the Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast in your email each week. Here’s more info about Grit ‘n’ Grace:

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!

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Into the Yes

In November, I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home from a speaking event when I heard a familiar sound beside me. It was the crinkle of turning Bible pages. I glanced over and saw the most adorable woman reading intently, so I couldn’t resist.

“What are you studying?” I asked. (Don’t miss her picture at the bottom. You can feel her energy and fun, so you know you would have talked to her too! )

That question opened the sweetest conversation where my new friend Anna’s story of giving unfolded. It was so moving that I wanted to share it with you here.

The reason I love it so much is that Anna gave from what was already in her hands. She heard from God, looked down at what she had, and gave generously. Think you have nothing to give? Well, listen to Anna’s story and maybe you’ll reconsider. Please welcome Anna!


My sweet friends, as I have been looking toward the Christmas season I have found myself wanting more. MORE!!!!! Let me explain.

As part of my business with a beauty, health and wellness company, we release an exclusive holiday line each year that is specifically for gifts for the holidays. People love this and wait all year for these products to come out!  They are luxurious.  I literally groan when I put them on because they smell and feel so good.

So! Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get excited about the Open Houses I have lined up to release them this year. This is an opportunity for people to come, experience, have fun, and shop to their heart’s content for their friends and loved ones.  Such a great time and I couldn’t for the life of me get excited about it. The dates were set, the holidays are approaching, but I couldn’t send out the invites.

Finally, after wrestling with this for weeks, I got still and asked the Lord about it. “What is this Lord?? Why can’t I get excited about this?! Why can’t I send these out these invitations? Friends, it came to me so quickly why I couldn’t get excited. It was because it didn’t matter.  I laid it down and walked away, trusting His timing with my planning.

Two days later, I was in my quiet space with Him praying about other things when what I needed to do hit me. And I mean an immediate knowingAt each of my events I would provide blank Christmas cards for those who attend to write letters of love and encouragement to girls that have been rescued from sex trafficking.  Additionally, anyone who wants to can purchase gifts for these girls at wholesale.

I started deeply sobbing knowing this was of the Lord. I immediately reached out to a friend who has been working with these girls and shared what God had just put on my heart. Seconds later, she texted me back–at 6 a.m. mind you–affirming this prompting as she had just stepped into conversation with a global organization who rescues these girls. My friend has been working locally and is now committed globally and I had no idea.  This is the invitation of God.

Friends, I was scared. I am a little bit scared. I immediately asked 6-8 close friends to pray for me as I step into what I know is a battlefield. I have been roughed up in the battle in the past, and a piece of me fears stepping back in. But, girls, so much more than the fear of the battle is these beauties–the fight for their redemption– and the invitation of God. So much more!!!

 Will I ever know them? Only God knows. What I do know is that He has given me an invitation to tangibly love His crushed vessels. His tender ones. And I have a literal balm of Gilead and a platform I can use to get it to them.  We are calling this Gifts of Redemption. I say ‘we’ because it is so very we. It is the we of everyone who steps in.

Today I want to ask you, will you give when you feel pause?  Even especially when we feel pause in activities that are common to us?  Will you be willing with me to give this pause stillness and ask the Lord honestly and openly, “What is it Lord?”  Will you lay down your plan in trust of His?  And with that, can He have your Yes with whatever He tells you?

And can I just remind you that His promise to us is always life to the full?? As I wrote this He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

This requires our agreement. This requires our yes.

I have to tell you that Gifts of Redemption has come out of nowhere for me.  This has never been a heart burning passion for me. However, from the moment I said “Yes”, He has only continued to give invitation even deeper into the Yes, and I am experiencing more and more of life to the full.

This season, let us step more and more into the Yes.



Meet Anna… Wife to Ryan for 9 years, momma to two babies in heaven and two babies in my arms, the deepest of my longings is to say YES to Jesus every single day.


If you would like to be part of giving to Gifts of Redemption, please email Anna at for all the details. She’ll even write a handwritten card to include with your gift!

Also, consider what’s in your hands. A talent? A small business? Some extra time? In some quiet–a pause– ask God how He might want you to give what you’ve already got.

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Episode #26: Prioritizing Our People


How can we truly focus on others in healthy ways this holiday season?

When holiday emotions are high, God calls us to follow Jesus’ example in cherishing others and handling them gently.

Cheri and Amy discuss how to shift our thinking in ways that lovingly prioritize our people.

Click on the graphic above to listen and access terrific free resources. Prefer to read rather than listen? Download the transcript right here!

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I Saw the Light. I Felt Loved. I Had Hope.

You’ve probably noticed that there’s been a theme in the last few weeks–giving/investing. The idea for the theme actually came from two places: the devotion I wrote, your comments, and an adorable woman I “randomly” met in the airport. (Make sure to read her awesome story next week!)

In the midst of all this, I want to share an opportunity to invest along with me. There’s an organization that has captivated my heart, it’s where I joyfully give my time, my talents, and my personal finances. It’s an organization that I can confidently say spends donations wisely and with integrity.


Here are my top 5 reasons that I love P31 and am passionate about investing there:

  1. Our calling is to eradicate biblical poverty. That’s a goal I long to help fulfill!
  2. Measured growth is an important part of our DNA. As you saw in the video, our First 5 app was downloaded for the millionth time, and our devotions are now distributed to over 900,000 people world-wide. Our team plans for growth.
  3. I deeply love and respect the people I work with and follow. How many of us can say that about our work place? What you see online in social media, blog posts, and our website? That’s the real deal. No joke. These women love Jesus and each other. We’re not perfect, but we’re fully committed to follow Jesus.
  4. I know that there are eternal returns coming. When I read the comments left by the women who read and participate in our content, I see lives being changed and drawn closer to Jesus. Beautiful!
  5. We believe in the power of a community. Before Thanksgiving, I got the blessing of participating in our Thank-A-Thon. Our team called over 500 donors, and I did a small percentage of those calls. I hope you got one! It was amazing to connect with the women who do ministry with us. That’s the way we see it. You don’t pay for us to do ministry. We’re in ministry together–straight up!

There’s nothing that shows what God is doing better than a story. Please click here and take a few minutes to watch a beautiful story of the difference our ministry is making. I’m delighted that you get to see up close what I see in Proverbs 31 Ministries.

I’m proud to invest with you!

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Why You SHOULD Think of Yourself When You Give

I was a little surprised. No push-back from last week’s post on giving? Maybe it wasn’t as counter-intuitive to you as it has been to me.

In my reforming perfectionistic brain, there used to be 2 main rules for giving (my time, my money, my talents, my heart):

  • You should never expect anything in return.
  • You should never think about yourself. That’s selfish.

Those bad beliefs have been challenged in my life, and I invite you to process the challenge with me.

As I said last week, I believe we should expect to receive something in return, and I think we should absolutely think of ourselves when we give. As I said last week, we need new terms for thinking this way. From here on out, I’m going to switch to the vocabulary I used last week. When we give, we might not think of ourselves, but when we invest, we should be looking to how we’re affected.

Here’s why thinking of ourselves when we invest is crucial:

We should ruthlessly seek the good work being done within us. In the comments you left over the last few weeks, I’ve read a few with a longing to have your evident spiritual gift. For some of you, giving is like breathing. You can’t do life without it, and it’s part of your divinely given DNA. Giving is your gift.

I wish giving was my gift, but it’s not. Giving is a challenge for me. I lean toward selfishness and comfort, and I have to fight against those negative forces every time I do something for someone else. It’s an ugly part of me to share, but I’m just keepin’ it real.

When I give, I have to ask God to reveal my motives with His spotlight of righteousness. Am I investing with eternal purposes in mind, or do I have a hidden selfish motive? Am I doing truly investing for another, or do I have a secret motive for gain?

Investing always stretches me in the best possible way.


How can we know our motives are pure so that God’s purifying work can be accomplished in our investing? It must be done from love.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV)

Too often I’ve given so that I can boast. Sadly, that’s an investment with a negative return. I become more entrenched in self when I give this way, but love means that I gain God’s refining work in me. Let’s invest in love with an eye to gaining more of the fruits of the Spirit like thankfulness (Psalm 106:1) and to earning the blessing of more Jesus in us (Acts 20:35).

We should choose to be nothing, but we shouldn’t see ourselves as nothing. In Philippians 2:5-11, we read that Jesus chose a position of humility. He “made himself nothing”. He gives us a high example to follow in His humility. As I say in Breaking Up with Perfect,

“Rather than trading on His rightful position, Jesus intentionally gave up the perfection of heaven and chose a new position. ‘He made himself nothing.’ He isn’t nothing, but He chose to become nothing. Although He holds power and authority and is due respect, He elected to abdicate the rights and benefits of His high status by giving up the privileges He rightfully holds with His rank. Giving up perfection, He accepted an assignment in a flawed, broken, sinful world as a servant.” (p. 63)

It’s good to choose to become nothing because that reflects Christ-like humility. It’s not good to believe you are nothing.

Even though there were only the sounds of crickets chirping after my post last week, I’m sure that many of you have bought into the two bad beliefs I confessed at the start of this post. I heard it in the comments in the devotion and blog post I wrote several weeks ago, and some of your comments broke my heart in two.

I heard the echoes of what you believe about yourself in what you wrote. You. Don’t. Count. I want to set the record firmly in place on that belief. You, dearest one, do count. You matter.

There’s an equation that God the Father established in the Old Testament that Jesus the Son repeats in the New. When a man who wanted to test Jesus approached Him with a question, here’s how it went down:

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)

There’s an equation here with three parts:

Love God + Love others + as yourself= Greatest commandments

You are not a zero sum in the equation. Jesus put you there.

Perfectionists often get this wrong. We’ve stripped ourselves out of the equation for so long that we become convinced that we don’t count–To Jesus. To anybody else.

I love how some genius used one of my all-time favorite words, JOY, to make an acronym.


Here’s the thing. Too many of us are only experiencing JO instead of JOY. See the problem? 🙂 Here are some questions to discern whether you’re leaving yourself out of the investment equation in a negative way:

  • Is it wearing you out and leaving you empty instead of building you up and making you filled?
  • Are others appreciative of what you give? I’m not talking about expecting gratefulness everyday or every time, but God cares about you. In asking you to invest, He’s not asking you to be prey for takers. That’s enabling, not investing. If you suspect that you’ve taken on the roll of enabling, put “you” back into the joy equation and see how the investing feels then.
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Why You SHOULD Expect Something in Return When You Give

It brought me overwhelming joy to read your comments about giving last week. Truly. I was traveling and checking my email at every stop just for the great feeling of connecting with your generous hearts. I loved reading every word that you wrote!

There were are few comments mixed in that made my heart ache, though. These were comments that made me aware that sometimes we give based on misconceptions about godly giving.

I heard you echo something I’ve said many times–“I need to give without expecting anything in return.” I know exactly what you mean. You want to give without mixed motives. You want to give even though there’s nothing in it for you. I agree!


But I believe that sometimes we take that thought too far, and it causes us to give unwisely. Here’s a truth that I believe:


Think about the difference between a gift and an investment. A gift may be given one-way with no expectation of any reward, but investing is done with the express purpose of a return or reward.

Think a little counter-intuitively with me for just a minute. We think of generous giving in terms of not expecting a reward, but I believe that when we give we should always expect a return or reward.

About now you may be thinking, “Where in the world is she going with this?” and you might even be ready to hit the “unsubscribe” button, but hang in there with me for just a few more minutes before you write me off.

First let’s define and separate the terms “giving” and “investing”. Let’s use the word “investing” to express times when we give to an individual or organization to help instead of just celebrating or treating someone.

Giving can be fun, spontaneous, and one-sided. It should be done without expecting a return, but…

Investing should be purposeful and should expect a return or outcome. What kind of outcomes should we expect when we invest in an individual or an organization?

We expect a work to be done in us. My whole blog post will be on this point next week, so hang on tight for this one!

We expect a work to be done in others. I can look back sadly on some times that I haven’t expected this, and I think now that it wasn’t truly godly investing. I’ve given to organizations willy-nilly based on my emotions without asking them to prove that the money was going to good work and that was producing good outcomes. That kind of investing isn’t generous at all. It’s squandering.

I think about times that I’ve given to people just because I thought I should without ever seeing any fruit in their lives. Maybe you’re in those shoes. There’s a family member who needs money from you every month, but they refuse to look for a job. There’s a beloved friend who is always falling short and needing help but always seems to have enough for the next pair of cute shoes. Or another who demands that you’re always there for her but is inevitably scarce when you’re hurting. There’s a child who is happy to cash the check but never has time to say “thank you”. I’m sure you could help me list more examples!

God is full of compassion and mercy forgives us over and over, but in His wisdom, there’s always a natural consequence for our sin or foolishness. This consequence is designed ultimately to teach us so that we don’t come to greater harm. We need to consider this part of God’s character as we invest as well as His generosity.

You can see that I’m not talking about a financial return, a return gift, or effusive thanks, but we should be keeping a look-out for fruit from our giving.

We expect an eternal “payout”. True investing, or godly giving, has divine rewards attached, but unwise investing often forfeits these rewards. Investing reaps abundance.

Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Proverbs 11:24, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

I want to be quick to say that I’m not peddling prosperity theology. No way! Most often than not these rewards are much richer than dollars. Our “payout” comes in terms of joy from being in God’s will, closeness with Him as we express more of His generous nature, forgiveness that’s in the context of the Luke passage, or a thousand other spiritual blessings that God has to distribute.

Do you see what I mean now? Godly giving is really investing.

This is a fresh way to evaluate our giving rather than pouring our time, talents, and treasure into a black hole of “takers”. Finally let me give you a few questions to ask as you evaluate your present giving:

  • Is it consistently draining you instead of building you up? (More on this next week.)
  • Do you see fruit in the other’s life and/or whether it’s an individual or an organization? Is it measurable in some way? (If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out the book Measuring What Matters: Accountability and the Great Commission by Dave Stravers.)
  • Do you see glimpses of eternity and God’s rewards?


Note: I completely forgot about the giveaway from a couple of weeks ago, so I have two winners to announce today! Ronda (10.25.16 5:54 am), you’re the winner of a copy each of Breaking Up with Perfect and Taming the To-Do List. Courtney (11.4.16 2:32 pm), your’e the winner of Same Kind of Different as Me.

Congratulations to both of you! I’ve sent you each an email, so if you haven’t heard from me, please check your spam folder. I hope you enjoy your books!

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