How to Grow Into Your Calling

Do you feel stuck and frustrated?

 

Is your heart full of purpose, but you don’t know how to get to the dream?

I felt the same way eight years ago, but I’ve learned that calling is more about steady growth than sudden leaps forward. I talk all about it with Mimika Cooney in this interview. There are 3 simple steps I share along with a free handout that I believe will help you move forward.

Click here to access the interview. There are lots of great interviews at the summit page, so check them all out!

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Amping Up the Joy in Our Work

At one point or another, we’ve probably all found ourselves out-of-love with our work. Weather your work is in an office, caring for a loved one or changing diapers, you’ve probably had days like me. Days of daydreaming of swinging in a hammock on a beach. With a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other. And someone fanning me. And sparkles on the water…

Wait. Sorry! My day-dreaming took over, so I’m glad you’re still here.

See, just like I said in today’s devotion, seeing work as drudgery happens to the best of us. Only turning our work into worship gives it worth.

Sometimes it hard to shift from drugergy to delight, though. Here are a couple of ways I’ve found to amp up the joy in my work when it’s dulled:

Start Observing a Sabbath

This might seem like a pretty hard-core place to start, but in the last year, God’s been showing me that it’s crucial. The word “crucial” might reinforce our thoughts as an obligation, so let me try again. God’s been showing me that Sabbath is one of His most delicious gifts to us!  Here’s what Isaiah 58: 12-14 tells us,

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

Let’s start with the promises. God promises us JOY and TRIUMPH, opposites of drudgery. He says we’ll feast on our inheritance, a picture of abundance instead of scarcity. That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Really different than dragging ourselves through each work day.

But there are some “ifs” that precede the promises. To receive those blessings, God tells us that we need to keep the Sabbath holy, call it a delight and follow His ways rather than our own. There’s so much here that we could spend weeks just on this passage.

The gist is that the Sabbath is meant to be a blessing to us, something for our benefit that increases our joy. Let’s embrace that truth instead of believing that Sabbath is an inconvenience (which I have to confess I’ve done for years)! I don’t want to lay out a set of rules about how that’s supposed to look, but I want to encourage you to do what I’ve been implementing better recently.

Take a day off to worship. To rest. To relax and enjoy.

It’s strange how simply taking a Sabbath changes the rest of my workweek, infusing it with more joy.

Re-Focus on the Good

Years ago, a friend asked how my job was going. I shared for awhile, but then I said, “I like my job, but it’s not awesome every day.”

I’ll never forget his apt reply. He said,”Well, if you loved it every day, it would be your hobby, not your job!”

I laughed, but he’s right. Every job we’ll ever have has up-sides and down-sides. Focusing on the positive will help us see our work in a better light than if we focus on the parts that we don’t like.

Here’s an easy exercise to help shift our focus: Divide a paper in half. Start with all the things you don’t like about your job. Here’s your chance to get it all out! (I don’t recommend sharing this with your boss, though.)

Now, on the other half, write down all the things you enjoy about your job. Once you’re done, pray and ask God to help you focus on the positives. As my friend Holly always says, “What we focus on grows.” She’s so right! Multiple times, this little exercise has shifted my feeling about my work back toward joy.

If you’d like to hear more about joy and worship in our work, I’d love to introduce you to Grit ‘n’ Grace, a podcast that I co-host with Cheri Gregory.

Click on the graphic below to visit our site and listen. We’re all about laughs with learning mixed in, so we hope you’ll subscribe and join us every week!

 

 

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How to Create a Better List

Yes, it’s true. I’ve made no secret of my list addiction. My to-do lists keep me on track, supplement my overloaded memory and make me feel accomplished.

But as I’ve shared in today’s devotion, my lists sometimes overtake my true priorities. Not good!

A couple of years ago, my friend Carol shared a new list with me that keeps me on track. It’s called the To-You List, a genius idea straight from the heart of God. Instead of starting our days overcome with our to-do list, let’s replace it with the To-You List, all the things we need to turn over to God as well as our spiritual priorities for the day. This list is more about being than doing, and I’m imagine that if God wrote out our To-You List, it would look something like this:


(You can click on this image to download it and print it!)

It’s the start of the holiday season, so this is just the right time to prioritize our To-You List over our to-do lists. I need to go right now and print this to put on my refrigerator so that I don’t forget!

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If you’d like to hear Carol talk more about how she develops her To-You List, you can watch a video of us discussing it here. That part of the discussion starts at time-marker 12:20.

Breaking Up with Perfect online book study

This video is part of my free Book Study of Breaking Up with Perfect. If you’re looking for a self-paced study, you can find all the details by clicking on the graphic above. There are blog posts, videos and lots of free goodies, I’d love for you to join our private Facebook community too!

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Three Things to Remember If You’re an Imperfect Mom

Motherhood is when perfectionism hit me hardest.

If you’re a mom who resonated with that opening, I’ve got the cure for you today. Jessica Kastner, author of Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet: Finding Grace and Laughter When Motherhood Gets Real, has some wise words for how to overcome perfectionism in motherhood. Please welcome Jessica to the blog today!

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Click here for the details.

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Ah motherhood. The place where our girlhood dreams of baby cuddling and tutu shopping collide with the reality of public tantrums and sanity droughts. Even the most prepared, most maternal of moms be all out shocked at the let-down that ensues when our visions of how we thought this would fly fall drastically short.

Big picture: we know we’re blessed beyond measure, and wouldn’t change a thing (okay we’d sleep more). But when you’re in the thick of those “challenging” moments, wondering when  you actually bathed last, or found yourself talking to yard squirrel while home and lonely with baby, it can be hard not to feel like you’re either doing something wrong, or falling short of friends continually Instagramming their smiling offspring  in non-stained shirts. I battled with feelings of disappointment and inadequacy early on, but now three boys in, after a decade of mothering, these three truths that have really helped me experience lots more joy while enjoying my kids.

Focus on what makes you great.

I burn meals. My laundry skills equate to clothing abuse, and I cannot, for all that is good, keep track of school/sports activities. I used to feel so frustrated by the fact that I seemed be missing this motherly chromosome allowing others to enjoy “mommy and me” craft time and managing to remember school holidays.

I slowly realized I might never be a shoo-in for the school’s “room mother,” (thank you, Jesus) but God has shown me how to appreciate the parts of me that do make a great mom. My kids might think potatoes come from a box, but we have dance ‘til ya drop worship parties  in our house, daily, and I have no problem putting my chores or work  aside to  jump on the trampoline with my boys or lay star gazing atop the shed roof. It’s all about the memories and quality time we spend with our kids. Of course we should always be praying to improve, but by focusing on our strengths and celebrating how we rock it, as a mom is key.

Nothing will ever be perfect if kids are involved. Period. 

And the sooner we accept it, the better! Whether it’s a birthday party, family picnic, beach trip or shopping venture, our experiences and outings with kids are very rarely as easy or perfect as we imagined. I don’t care if the sun is shining, the kids are freshly napped and you have a venti macchiato in hand, heaven can turn to disaster in the less than two minutes after baby takes a digger on the cement sidewalk or an older sibling needs a ride two hours before planned. There goes that playdate in the sky.

When we learn to live in the moment and not get hung up on the guaranteed wrenches thrown into our day, we become much more joyful, relaxed moms.

Find your own mother style.

I don’t believe there’s this magic, one-size-fits-all way to mother. The longer you’re a mom, the more you learn to craft your own style and approach parenthood in a way that suits your personality, and your kids’ needs. I think new moms and even some of us veterans get tripped up by feeling our home life has to look a certain way based on our childhood memories, delusions of grandeur, or comparison to friends. But since no child, mother, or set of circumstances are exactly the same, and since nothing (sweet Moses, nothing) prepares us for motherhood, we’ll never have it all “right.”

And just like any form of art, imitation stinks. If you’re a homeschooling mom with night owl kids, let ‘em stay up past ten if that works. If you find dinnertime to be more like veggie-eating boot camp-swallow now or else!-then start making fruit and kale smoothies with a side of bread for dinner, every night. It’s less than ideal at times, but allowing ourselves to approach every part of motherhood, with a blank canvas, really thinking about why and how we do things, can be very freeing, and much more conducive to joy.

Here’s to a great fall, with more laughter, and less perfection. The whites will gleam and the steak will be tender in heaven, that’s for sure.

Jessica Kastner is an award-winning journalist and a contributor for Beliefnet.com, Huffington Post’s Christianity blog, and CBN.com. As Connecticut’s coordinator for Straight Ahead Ministries, she shares God’s message of hope by leading Bible studies in juvenile detention centers. When she’s not on the trampoline with her three boys in her hometown of Southington, Connecticut, Jessica offers her commentary on Christian life at www.JessicaKastner.com.

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An Easy, Beautiful Way to Make a Difference

Hey, gang!

I wanted to let you know that tonight I’ll be co-hosting an online auction with my friend Sarah Carroll to benefit Encouraging Words, Inc. and Agape School in Kolkata. We’ll have beautiful goods from Nepal for sale, so you can buy something beautiful and help build a Christian school in one of the poorest places in Kolkata.

We’re doing it via Facebook Live so join the fun at 7:00 pm Eastern Time by clicking here to go to the auction Facebook page.

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How to Reach Every Beautiful Face and Heart

Did you know that Proverbs 31 Ministries’…

First 5 app has been downloaded in 115 countries in the world–including the UK, Singapore, the Philippines and Nigeria?

Devotions are distributed worldwide and that our top 11 countries include 2 in North America, 1 in Europe, 3 in Africa, 3 in SE Asia, and 2 in the South Pacific?

Online Bible Studies + Devotions + First 5 + website and social media reach = 192 countries total?

Y’all those statistics leave me in tears. Those aren’t just numbers. They’re faces.

Can you see them?

They’re every skin hue you can imagine. The variety and beauty of those faces are dazzling, and just below each face beats a heart. A heart created by God to be returned to Him.

I love Proverbs 31 Ministries for so many reasons, but the main one may be our desire to reach every heart around the world with the transforming gospel of Jesus. I’m proud to give of our family finances to support such an effort.

Will you click here to read my devotion today, and will you pray about giving to support the teaching of God’s Word that’s spreading through the world via Proverbs 31? I’d be so proud to have you stand with me!

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Something Sweet

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

Nurturer

Employee

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.

Dance.

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.

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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!

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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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