All Your Beautiful Seeds

Oh my heavens…

I’ve spent the morning reading back through all your comments, and my heart is overflowing. Although I’m unable to write a response for each one, I’ve been thanking God for all the seeds He’s sending into the world through you. You’re sending seeds of care-taking, encouragement, the arts, giggles, and even grief. The last one may seem strange, but watching a friend grieve her husband’s death in healthy ways taught me more than any book ever could. All that you’re doing and living through when lived in Christ makes a difference in your world.

Thank you for each of your comments. You’re the beautiful field of women that I describe in chapter 15 of Exhale! And here’s what happens when we step into being Seed Senders:

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some testimonies last week of how the message of the book has impacted others, but I also want to share how it’s impacted me.

I hear the same thing over and over again from authors like me who only share what God has taught them. God always tests us on what we’ve written. That’s certainly been true for me with this book! I wrote Exhale in the middle of a fairly major home renovation. Then, a month prior to the launch of the book, my youngest son graduated with lots of family fanfare, and he got married.

It was a lot, y’all. A whole lot.

Do you know what I had to do to keep my head above water? I had to live out the lessons I was writing in the book.

  • I couldn’t say “yes” to one more thing no matter how much other people thought I should.
  • I had to say no to many good things so that I could live out the missions of keeper of the home, mom and author that God had assigned me.
  • I had to release my over-developed sense of responsibility that constantly told me that I’m in charge of everything and therefore to blame for everything.
  • I had to examine every interaction with my adulting sons to make sure I was truly helping and not meddling. (If you don’t need anything else in the book, you need the chart on p. 72 in which Cheri shows the contrast between helping and meddling. I’m seriously going to print it and put it on my refrigerator for quick reference when I’m having conversations with my adult sons!)

Now I’m going to testify to the greatness of God and the power of His Spirit. In all the chaos of the last year of my life, I can’t think of a single major meltdown. I’m not saying that I didn’t have any “moments,” but I was able to flex and adjust in ways that I’ve never been able to before.

I’m fully aware that I’m totally incapable of that on my own, so it’s not me bragging on me. I give the credit to God who is the only One who can accomplish change in the hot mess that is me! Now I’m going to say something to you with full confidence (but trembling knees ’cause this is a stretch for me).

The lessons from Exhale, when walked out through the transforming power of God’s Spirit, can change your life. I know it’s true because they’ve changed mine.

If you aren’t one of the winners below, you can get a taste of Exhale at, and you can also download and read a portion for free (the Forward, Introduction and Chapter 1) when you click here.

Next week, I’ll be returning to regularly scheduled blog posts in our series where we’re learning to:

Listen –> Feel –> Do –> Speak

We’ll be starting on the “feel” part of our series, and I’ll send out the freebie “How to Grow Into Your Calling” on the 17th as a free extra to all who subscribe. God’s been whispering to my heart, and I’m excited to share what I’m learning!


Congratulations to:

Candice Hope (5.21.19 3:44 pm), the winner of the Exhale prize package

Heidi Blair (6.4.19 2:03 pm), the winner of 2 copies of Exhale and 2 necklaces

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The Powerful Beauty of Something Tiny

You know the saying… “Great things come in small packages.” That saying may be truest of one of the tiniest things I can think of– a seed.

Years ago when the boys were small, we moved into a new house with a barren yard. Even though I love landscaping, there was no budget for it that year, so I hesitantly bought a packet of zinnia seeds. Because I usually bought full-grown plants from the nursery, I wasn’t quite convinced.

Later in the summer, as I looked out my window at the tall, colorful zinnias gracing the front of my house, I basked in the powerful beauty that comes from tiny seeds.

In today’s devotion “Why Your Big Life Starts with Something Small,” I ask the question, what seed(s) do you hold in your hand? God’s given you something powerful to send into His world. What is it?

If you’re not quite sure, I have two resources for you.

“How to Grow Into Your Calling”

Next Friday, June 17th, I’m going to do my quarterly mailing to my faithful subscribers. This mailing will include, “How to Grow Into Your Calling,” a practical resource for identifying your calling, the seeds you hold in your hand. I know that sometimes our calling is clear, and sometimes it’s not. Occasionally, the word “calling” is too intimidating to even contemplate! This simple tool will acts like a magnifying glass, helping you to discern the seeds you hold in your hands by seeing the clues that are all around you.

If you’re already subscribed, thank you! Hang tight, and “How to Grow Into Your Calling” will arrive in your inbox on the 17th.

If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to subscribe and enter your email so that you can receive “How to Grow Into Your Calling” along with free weekly encouragement from me. You’ll also stay update on all things Exhale, including our upcoming announcements about group study materials. (Note: Only those subscribed by June 16, 2019 at midnight will receive this quarter’s free resource.)

 Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well.

The devotion today is an excerpt from my new book Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well. which is co-authored with my podcast co-host and partner in crime, Cheri Gregory. Welcome to the world, Exhale!

Isn’t she a beautiful baby? 🙂

Exhale is for the woman suffocating under the pressure of being all things to all people; of filling every unfilled spot at church, work, and home; of trying to do it all right, make decisions that benefit everyone else, and keep everyone happy.

Rather than adding more to your to-do list, Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory show you how to

  • lose the ill-fitting roles you’ve been trying to fill so that you can be lighter and freer
  • love your truest, God-created self with all your glorious gifts instead of trying to shove yourself into a mold
  • live your one and only life in a way that you know truly matters

This isn’t a time-management book filled with how-to lists and calendar tools. Instead, it walks you through a process that releases you from the things that have created unbearable pressure. Then you’ll be able to live the combination we all long for: fulfilling the desires of your heart, loving your people well, and bringing glory to God.

Live the life you were created for!


In celebration of Exhale’s birth, Cheri and I are giving away two Exhale books and two stamped necklaces. Keep one to enjoy, and give the other to a woman you love.

To enter, tell us what seed(s) you hold in your hands OR simply say “I’m ready to exhale!”


(Tip: Next month’s giveaway is a big one, so make sure you’re subscribed! Cick here and enter your email.)

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A Little Fun for You!

This week I’m taking time off to celebrate my son’s wedding and enjoy my family. Be sure that I’ll have some pics to share when I return!

In the meantime, I wanted to invite you to a little fun. My friend, co-author, and co-host, Cheri Gregory, designed an amazing website for our new book, Exhale. On it she included a personality quiz that she created, and it’s spot on!

Click on the graphic below to go take the quiz, and while you’re there, be sure to look around and enjoy. 🙂

If you can, come back and tell me what your personality type was. Want to guess mine?

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What to Do When Someone Hands You Their Trash

Make sure to enter to win a great giveaway today at the end of this post!

Have you ever been in a situation when someone hands you their plate of  trash? In other words, they try to make you responsible for their lack of planning, emotional baggage, or work load. I talk more about that in today’s devotion “I Believe This is Your Plate of Trash,” an excerpt from my new book Exhale, co-authored with Cheri Gregory.

“Plates of trash” = Inappropriate expectations

In the past, I’ve defaulted to two different but equally damaging reactions because of “plates of trash” being passed to me:

  1. Anger– An inappropriate expectation leveled at me by someone else makes my blood boil. Maybe I’m ok with it at first, but the longer I live with the consequences of trying to meet or deflect that inappropriate expectation the more frustrated and resentful I become. Not helpful. I can’t love my people well in that state.
  2. Aquiescence– In other words, I give in. I do what someone else expects me to do even though it was never mine to do, resulting in a cluttered schedule and a frenzied heart.

Thankfully, Jesus gives us a different response that allows us to stay focused on the mission He’s given us as well loving our people.

We gently but firmly hand back the plate of trash.

How do we do that practically?

  • With a loving but empowered “no” (the power comes from knowing God’s mission for us)
  • With a boundary
  • With a compromise ie. “I can’t do what you’ve asked me to do, but I can do ______________.”

There’s more about how to walk through those steps in Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well.  If you’re exhausted from trying to be All The Things for all the people all the time, Exhale is for you!

Here’s what some of our friends who are reading advanced copies of Exhale are saying:

“I think about how many plates of trash I have accepted in the past. I’m not your trashcan anymore!” ~Linda

“Exhale is phenomenal! The freedom to love who I am is amazing. Chapter 11 particularly made me smile and rush right in to find out how ‘what makes me weird makes me wonderful.'” ~Jenn

“As I’ve been reading, I feel the inner walls coming down that I’ve built up after years (really a whole lifetime) of rejection and perfectionism and internalizing every single critical comment as truth about who I really am. Parts of my old ways are breaking down and something new is being built up within me.” ~Anonymous

The book releases June 4th, but when you pre-order from your favorite book-seller, Cheri and I have some fabulous freebies that we’ll send to you.

(“The Expectation Evaluation” is the freebie that will walk you step-by-step through evaluating what’s your assignment versus what’s a “plate of trash.” It’s a super-practical tool that brings clarity in murky situations.)

You can claim your freebies in two easy steps:

  1. Order Exhale from your favorite book seller. (Click on the links below.)

Proverbs 31 Ministries              Amazon                     Barnes and Noble                 Christian Book.Com

       2. Submit a copy of your receipt to [email protected]. Voila! Your freebies will arrive automatically in your inbox.


In expectation and celebration of our book baby, Exhale, Cheri and I are giving away a fun package today that includes:

A pre-release copy of Exhale (You’ll be one of the few to have it right now!)

A beautiful Exhale stamped necklace

Yummy Chapel Hill Toffee

A Rae Dunn ceramic sign

Shea butter spa soap (smells amazing!)

Travel Tumbler

Plant not included 🙂

To enter, tell us how the “plate of trash” concept helps you with others’ expectations, or simply say, “I’m ready to exhale!”

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The Benefits of Busting Up Your Echo Chamber

Recently I was sitting in a meeting, working hard not to squirm in my seat. The views being expressed felt harsh and personal. The words pouring out of a new friend’s mouth seemed like an attack, and I wanted to defend. To explain. To argue.

But I didn’t do any of those things, because I’m working hard to live out our lessons about listening Those lessons include:

  • Only Scripture is true. Human opinions are just opinions.
  • To gain the rewards of listening, we have to lose our “one right way” of thinking.
  • Elevating our own opinions to truth shuts down dialogue. Listening with the fruits of the Spirit builds dialogue.
  • Listening = Love.

Instead of attacking, defending, explaining, or arguing, I listened without speaking. I didn’t agree with every word my friend spoke, but I learned some new things. I absorbed an experience different than my own. I built the relationship in a way that will allow me to speak my perspective at the right time.

Putting myself in positions where I feel the pinch of unease isn’t easy, but it’s good. The echo chamber that I lived in for years wasn’t helpful at all. It kept me comfortable but unchanged.

What’s an echo chamber?

We’ve created an echo chamber when we surround ourselves with voices who echo back our own ideas, thoughts, values, experiences and perspectives.

As humans, we’re all looking for those who are like us and a place to belong. The way we most often do that is to form an echo chamber which is a natural default but not the best way to learn and grow. We create echo chambers all the time by choosing TV news that supports what we already think, by following people on social media that post what what we already agree with, and by choosing friends who look how we look and live how we live.

There’s a comfort level to all that sameness, but it keeps us from understanding another’s perspective. It keeps us from learning and growing. It even keeps us from being solution-bearers since we never expose ourselves to two sides of a problem.

So I’ve been working to bust up my echo chamber.

How do you bust up an echo chamber? 

The only way to bust up our echo chambers is to be intentional. We have to seek out voices and perspectives different from our own, make friends with those who move outside our natural communities, and listen when we’d rather argue.

Because God has been putting racial reconciliation on my heart, I’ve taken steps to specifically listen and learn about that issue. Here are some of the steps I’ve taken to bust up my echo chamber:

  • I’ve started following women of color in social media. A few of my favorites are Chrystal Evans Hurst, Jackie Hill Perry and Arielle Estoria.
  • I joined a Bible study in a church that’s historically a black church. Not only do a receive great teaching every week, but I’m making new friends who have voices that I care about.
  • I’m listening to podcasts with perspectives that challenge my own. Two of my favorites are The TED Radio Hour and Lavar Burton Reads. (The second I love, love, love. There’s no better way to step into someone else shoes than by listening to a story.)
  • I’ve attended a conference that included both black and white leaders. So powerful to hear many perspectives!

What is God moving your heart to learn about? What issue do you feel led to eventually speak into? Find and follow people who speak into all sides of that issue.

How do you cling to the Truth in the process?

Although I’m asking you to join me in listening to voices out there that don’t echo your own, I’m NOT asking you to embrace all those voices say. That’s not at all the point of busting up your echo chamber.

Instead, at the end of this series on listening, I return to the beginning. Here’s the sub-set process within our listening:

Listen to God (first and always first) –> Listen to others –> Listen to God (last and always last)

All that we hear must be compared with Scripture, the only reliable Truth. We must be like the people that Luke commended in the book of Acts, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

Let’s read like Bereans, listen like Bereans, and learn like Bereans. That doesn’t mean that we only consider what’s true, but it does mean that we only absorb what’s True according to Scripture.

With the rest of the information, we learn how to develop a strong voice that’s under-girded by a tender heart. When it’s time, we’re ready to speak.

Please share what you’ve learned in this series about listening. What’s the issue God is putting on your heart? Who do you recommend that I follow as I bust up my echo chamber?

This is the last week in the “Listen” series, but hang tight with me! Next week I have an exciting announcement, and then we’ll roll on in our process to:

Listen –> Feel –> Do –> Speak

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And the Winners Are…

Well, friends, it’s been a cra-cra week, so there’s no new blog post. The last post in the “Listen” series will be next week. Stay tuned!

And could I ask you to pray? This weekend is my youngest son’s graduation (YAY!), and he gets married in two weeks (even bigger YAAAAAY!). Two weeks after that is the launch of Exhale, my new book co-authored with Cheri Gregory. Let’s just say it’s to-do list mania around here. Please pray that my feeble brain can remember all that needs done!

Below, I’m announcing all the winners of the books I’ve featured, but if you didn’t win, you still don’t want to miss these. Here are the links one more time for easy access:

The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter by Lori Roeleveld

Tough to Love: How to Find Peace in Difficult Relationships by Rachel Britton

Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters by Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh

And the winners are…

Jeanie (5/2/19 10:16 am)- The Art of Hard Conversation

Adrienne (4/25/19 6:58 am)- Tough to Love

Paula (4/19/19 8:07 pm)- Mended

Neko (4/11/19 2:31 pm)- Exhale necklace

At no additional expense to you, there are affiliate links included in this post to help defray the cost of website maintenance. Click here for my disclosure.

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Are Your Words Grounded and Timed in Love?

At no additional cost to you, there are affiliate links in this post to help defray the cost of website maintenance. Click here for full disclosure.

The last in our series of guest posts about listening comes from Lori Stanley Roeleveld, and it packs a truth-punch! In this excerpt from her new book The Art of Hard Conversations, Lori shows us the key when it’s time to move from listening to speaking in hard situations. Make sure to read to the end for a chance to win a copy of this helpful book!s


I was surprised when Carly invited me to lunch.

Our church had been experiencing a conflict that had divided many. Carly and I had had numerous hard conversations about her attitude. Our last conversation had been particularly adversarial, so I was nervous that our meeting might be a vengeful ambush.

Carly arrived after I did, and once we ordered, she didn’t keep me in suspense. “I need your help and your prayers. My doctor called me to discuss my most recent test results, and I don’t want to face it alone. Can you come along?”

I was taken aback. “Of course. Still, I’m surprised you’re asking me.”

“Why?” she said, leaning back in the booth.

“Well, our last few exchanges haven’t been the most comfortable,” I replied.

She nodded. “In fact, I hated those conversations. But through everything, one thing that’s always been clear is that you love me. It takes a huge commitment to love to stick with someone through talks like that. Other people probably have thought those things and just given up on me or walked away. I’ll take the tough talks as long as there’s the love.”

Love is a multidimensional quality. It’s both a noun, representing a feeling, and a verb, representing actions that put others first.

In John 21, after Jesus has risen from the dead, He appears to some of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. In verses 15–19, over breakfast, Jesus asks Peter three times about his love for Him. Peter answers three times that He does, indeed, love Jesus. Jesus’s response to each affirmative answer is to call Peter to action—feeding Jesus’s sheep—in demonstration of this love.

To say that we love others is to say we’re willing to risk our own discomfort to speak hard things to them.

To say that we love Jesus is to say we are ready to obey Him by living and speaking the truth. To say that we love Jesus is to say we are willing to reflect Him by loving and serving others. To say that we love others is to say we’re willing to risk our own discomfort to speak hard things to them.

Love is a feeling that leads to action.

When we prepare for any hard conversation, we must ask ourselves questions about love. Do I love this person, and if not, what am I going to do about that? Am I being loving to speak this truth in this way, at this time, to this person?

Some believers falsely assume that to be loving means to stay silent about truth or to compromise it in some way. Others are so afraid that loving feelings will lead to a softening of truth, they harden their hearts toward others and eschew mercy. This is dangerous thinking—both for the church of Jesus Christ and ultimately for the world.

The world (meaning people who don’t follow Jesus) has absconded with love, replacing God’s idea of love with a facsimile that many buy as the real thing. And not just the world. Some parts of the body of Christ believe that to be loving, biblical truth must be muted or modified.

Not so. Jesus walked on Earth living out perfect love while delivering perfect truth. It is possible. It’s not possible without Jesus, but it’s possible. Love and truth can occupy the same space, just as surely as Christ was fully human and fully God.

I’m aware that these two words frustrate, frighten, or trigger a wound reflex in some people. We’ve heard this phrase before, perhaps tossed around the church like a beach ball (or a dodge ball).

“I’m just speaking the truth in love, is all.”

“Well, don’t you know you have to speak truth in love?”

Intended for useful instruction, this power-filled phrase from Ephesians 4 is too often snapped from its context like a tree branch and used to club innocent passersby in Jesus’s name. The misguided speaker is often leaning heavily toward a personal interpretation of truth, while offering only a passing nod at anything others might recognize as love.

Inhale. Exhale. It’s tempting to edit from Scripture any passage that’s been misused, but this would be detrimental (not to mention heretical). Agreed, there has been a shameful amount of bullying that’s occurred in Jesus’s name. This speaking the truth in love concept has too often been the last word spiritually bludgeoned victims hear just before they hit the mat.

The worse thing we can do, though—worse than lancing the wounds—is to allow the bullies and abusers the last word on God’s Word. It will challenge some of us to revisit “speaking the truth in love,” but these are our Father’s Words. We must reclaim them from the bullies.

Of course, we can fairly represent love and truth simultaneously. Parents do it with children every day. Spouses do it. Church leaders, doctors, friends, and others all speak truth and communicate love, sometimes in the same breath.

Love is our high calling. The highest. We need to be trained and transformed by love, so that love is our first language, our initial reflex, and our emotional default setting. We need to foster loving hearts, if we want that love to influence our words.

(Excerpted from The Art of Hard Conversations, Lori Stanley Roeleveld, February 2019 by permission Kregel Publications)

Giveaway: To enter to win The Art of Hard Conversations, leave a comment telling about someone who has spoken the truth to you in love OR just say “Love covers a multitude of sins!”


Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at


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How to Listen to that Difficult Person in Your Life

At no additional cost to you, there are affiliate links in this post to help defray the cost of website maintenance. Click here for full disclosure.

When my friend Rachel Britton, author of Tough to Love: How to Find Peace in Difficult Relationships sent me this post for you, I was delighted. Rachel gives us such a powerful but counter-intuitive way to listen when we don’t like what we’re hearing. Make sure to read to the end for a giveaway of her book. Please welcome Rachel!


If you’re like me, you don’t want to listen to a difficult person in your life. 

I find myself groaning about that person giving their point of view in the meeting. I avoid making eye contact, and especially conversation, with the relative sitting across from me at the dinner table. Or, I try to walk past the woman at church pretending I haven’t seen her. At the most I force a smile and a “how are you,” which doesn’t look like it’s coming through clenched teeth.

I have to say, it’s exhausting dealing with my emotions when I don’t want to listen. Unfortunately, often, we have little choice. The most difficult people are usually closest to us.

So, how do we listen without getting worn out? It is important to take the time and let our work colleagues, family members, or sisters at church have their say. But, there’s another lesson in how we listen that can be learned, and that is realizing it’s what we listen to that can trip us up.

We need to be aware of how we allow the words we hear to affect us.

I can pick up on one small phrase or word said to me, which blows up in my head. Before I know it, I’m wrestling with accusations not actually spoken to me.

“I’ll send you the details again,” she said innocently. Yet, I didn’t just hear “again.” I heard:  “You’re so disorganized and unprofessional.” “You’ve made me do extra work.“ “You’re such a loser.” “Can’t you get your act together?”

Unfortunately, my internal monologue didn’t stop there. I repeated it to my husband when he walked through the door after a long day of meetings. I’m chopping carrots like I’m using an axe and fifteen minutes later I could see from his shoulders this was not the way to unwind for the day.

So, how do we listen without finding ourselves blowing everything out of proportion, complaining about our friend to someone else, and learning to let go of words that hurt?

Thankfully we have a heavenly Father who we can talk to, who listens to what we have to say,  and who promises to bring peace into the situation. Not only that, we can trust him to speak on our behalf.

The Bible, in Philippians 4, encourages us to take our anxiety about anything and everything, including our frustration over words spoken to us, to God in prayer.

And in Psalm 109 we have an example of David turning to God about the people who “opened their mouths against me.” They lied, said hateful words, and made accusations. David didn’t hold back in his anger. “May his children be wandering beggars,” he said about his enemy! We can be like David and let it all out to God. After all, God knows everything we’re thinking, feeling, and feel like saying and doing to the other person.

Praying is a safe place to talk about that difficult person. What we say doesn’t go any further with God. We can burden him with our woes, instead of burdening those we love. And God, who lives in relationship, fully understands relationships both perfect and imperfect.

So, prayer isn’t telling God what’s new. Prayer is letting God give us a new perspective, and that includes a new perspective on the words we hear.

Just like David, after his outpouring, we have to ask God for his help. He says: “Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” We need to ask God for help to get over the words we’ve heard that hurt us, and a fresh view on the words we think we’ve heard.

Prayer is not just pouring out our pain and frustrations, it is allowing God to pour in His peace.

We have to trust God. We must give everything over to God and believe He will deal fairly with what has been said to us, because He cares for us. And like in Psalm 109, if there has been any wrongdoing said against us, God is just. Like David, we can ask God to “not remain silent” on the matter.

As my finger hovered over the keyboard waiting to tap out an angry reply, I let my thoughts travel upwards. “Lord…”

It’s not easy to let go of what’s been said to us and leave it in God’s hands, but it’s better than taking the matter into our own hands.

Unhealthy reactions are likely to lead to unhealthy actions. With God, we can let go and move on. And, we’ll feel so much better for it. We’ll be freed from those exhausting emotions.

Next time you listen and words trip you up, catch your reactions before they go too far. Take them to God, pour out your pain, and ask for His perspective and peace. It may take more than one time, but persevere in prayer.

Giveaway: How do you think prayer can change your hard-to-listen-to conversations? Leave your comment for a chance to win a copy of Rachel’s excellent book, Tough to Love: How to Find Peace in Difficult Relationships.


Rachel is a British-born, author, blogger, and speaker. She helps women pray naturally and become comfortable and confident in their conversation with God. Raised on the east coast of England, Rachel moved to New England. She now lives in New York City with her husband. They have three young adult children. Connect with Rachel at

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The Dance Between Speaking and Listening

Wow. Your response to the series on listening has been amazing. I’ve read every comment, email, and social media post that you’ve sent, and I’m encouraged. We’re in this together!

But I’m certainly new to this, and I’m learning from so many others. In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to let you listen (see how I did that?) to some other voices with more experience. These are friends that I trust with additional resources for our growth as we learn to listen.

There will be lots of new thoughts and giveaways too, so make sure to read to the end and comment to enter!

Today, I’d like you to welcome my sweet friend and valued agent, Blythe Daniel, and her mother/co-author, Helen McIntosh. Today’s post is an excerpt from their wonderful book, Mended: Restoring the Heart of Mothers & Daughters.

(At no additional cost to you, this post contains affiliate links that help maintain the site. Click here for my full disclosure.)

There’s a dance between mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives. Do you bite your lip to listen or go for it? Sometimes we don’t know what to say to each other when there have been hurt feelings, time or space, or something more serious between you. What do you say exactly?

Part of being wise is knowing when to speak. Silence can be golden, but not if we are mute at the wrong time. We don’t want to talk too much, but we don’t want to seem uncaring by our silence. You have probably seen wonderful dramatizations of people consoling one another without words, and it’s beautiful.  But at the right time, speak some words, and I am suggesting a very gentle sentence or two for starters. Even if you have been verbally put down or assaulted, you will want to regain your confidence to voice your thoughts by even speaking just a few appropriate sentences. Especially after a grievous loss or change, it’s helpful for the other one to say, “I am so sorry for what you are walking through. I don’t know what to say but I hurt for you/with you.” Another really good thing to say when you don’t know what to say is, “How do you see me helping you? What do you need that I can do for you?”

You may have just winced at that question. Do something for someone whom you feel awkward around because of the issues surrounding you, or for someone who perhaps doesn’t seem like she even wants you to bring up a conversation with her? Remember, your job is to ask. To initiate conversation. If she can’t accept your help, then you have at least asked. You can’t force yourself in, but you can offer. It may be the opening thread that helps tie your relationship together at some point down the road that you can’t see right now.

Have you prayed about the timing of your message? Often, right at the onset of pain, it’s hard to hear another person and you can mistakenly turn them away because you are really only thinking of yourself and your situation at the time. You might ask yourself, “Is my mother or daughter ready for me to have this conversation with her? Is it more about me wanting to get off my chest, or do I sense this would be helpful for her right now?” Make sure your need to talk isn’t more important than your mother’s or daughter’s need to hear it. It needs to be equally helpful and timely for both of you.

You will want to also pray for the hearer of your words, and for God to consecrate and bless your time. Your ability to sense how the conversation is going is a big part of talking and inviting yourself into the other’s life in that moment. You may come prepared to ask one thing, but have other words prepared so that you don’t feel at a loss for words and then resort to frustration or anger. You’ll want to pray before and after your conversation so that what you discuss is sealed and affirmed under the covering of the Lord Jesus and so that neither of you can deny His power in your conversation when doubt may want to creep in after your exchanges.

A great skill for families is listening well to one another. Hearing one another and hearing from God helps us replay to our loved ones in a wise and peaceful way. We need to be excellent listeners to words and hearts, and hearing from God for our replay is the greatest gift we can receive and the fruit we cultivate to offer others. God has encouraged us to listen well to others and listen to Him as he leads our hearts to respond.

From Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh, 2019, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. Copyright 2019 by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh.

Giveaway: Leave a comment telling one way listening has helped you OR one tip recommended by Blythe and Helen that you’ll try. Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for a copy of their new book, Mended: Restoring the Heart of Mothers & Daughters.

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She has written for Christian Retailing and Focus on the Family, and she links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug®. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren. For more information, visit


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How to Level Up Instead of Powering Down

At no additional expense to you, there are affiliate links included in this post to help defray the cost of website maintenance. Click here for my disclosure.

Also, hang on to the end for a giveaway!

Do your kids play video games? If so, you may know about the concept of powering up. In my devotion today “The Unexpected Power of Kindergarten Truths,” I’ve explained how this video game idea has applied to my spiritual life, and I encourage you to read there before reading on!

When God sends us back to Kindergarten to relearn a previously-experienced lesson in a deeper way, we have two options:

  1. We can submit to leveling up OR
  2. We can power down, quitting in discouragement and defeat.

The #2 way of dealing is often my default. In the past, I’ve seen going back to Kindergarten as a bad thing. A failure. A demotion.

But we don’t have to respond by quitting. If we’ll embrace an old lesson in a new way by leveling up, then we’ll find ourselves closer to God and with a higher view. Here are two steps that can lead us to leveling up instead of powering down:

Pray for Humility

When I taught elementary school, my most prized students were the kids who were teachable. They were the children who didn’t resist my instruction but dove eagerly into anything that I gave them. It was a delight to teach those kinds of learners!

For me, the main obstacle to taking what seems to be a step back is my pride. I’ve resisted returning to lessons on love and belief and prayer because I thought I should be past that. While it’s true that we’re called to maturity, I don’t think we’ll ever be “past” those foundational and essential pieces of our walk with Jesus. So instead of resisting, I’m learning to pray for humility and a willing attitude. I want God to delight in me as a student of His ways!

Dive Deeper Into the Basic

Instead of seeing an old topic as old hat, it’s helpful to get a new perspective. That’s one of the reasons I like to revisit a familiar idea with a fresh set of eyes. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Always, always, always start with the Bible, but try using a modern translation of the Bible like The Message beside the one you usually read. I’m cautious about translations that aren’t word-by-word translations, but I don’t believe they’re harmful if we use them alongside others for accuracy. God often uses The Message to wake up my brain and see His Word in a fresh way. I’ll do a word study of the topic God is reteaching and follow it through in several translations. The cool version that I linked has the NIV translation side by side with The Message.
  • Use a devotional Bible to read other’s experiences with God in combination with Scripture. I’m clearly prejudiced, by my favorite is the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible that contains devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team. (It comes in an awesome compact size too!)
  • Read books by others who have studied your topic. When I got sent back to learn about prayer, I loved the book Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children which taught me to pray in my current season of life. If your perfectionism is damaging your relationships again, my book Breaking Up with Perfect might be just the perspective that God uses to bring renewed freedom.

When we embrace leveling up instead of powering down, there are rich rewards!


I’m beyond excited to announce that my new book Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well, co-authored with my dear friend Cheri Gregory, is coming out on June 4th. It’s available for pre-sale now, but the freebies aren’t quite ready yet. If you pre-order now, be sure to hang on to your receipt so that you can receive them later.

To enter to win this beautiful necklace, simply say “I’m ready to EXHALE!” or tell me how leveling up has been powerful in your life.

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