The Perfect Life

I’m delighted to be guest posting over at Katy McCown’s blog today. Katy is the newest member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing team and also wife to Luke McCown, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Her life is quite the adventure, and she has so much wisdom to share!

Please click here to visit Katy’s blog and leave a comment to encourage her and for a chance to win a copy of my book, Breaking Up with Perfect.

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Happy 2016!

Here’s a picture to match my thousand words. 😉

fulfill collage

I have a New Year’s gift for you before we go! (…Followed by 2 announcements. Don’t miss those!) I’ve done some editing on the Leader’s Guide for Breaking Up with Perfectand I’m excited to share it with you. It is available FREE for a limited time. 

Through February 6th, you can find the Leader’s Guide on this page and download it for free. Starting next week, I will be posting video Tips for Teachers on the blog for those of you who are using the book in your small group.

After February 6th, the guide along with the videos will go on sale, so take advantage of the freebies while they last. 🙂

Announcement #1:

For my Wake County, NC friends… Carol Byrd and I will be leading a small group through Breaking Up with Perfect  at Apex Baptist Church starting Sunday, January 10th from 5:00-6:30.  You are welcome to come, and we sure would love the time with you! Here’s the link to registration (and a picture to prove I’m getting ready):  **If you already have the book, there’s no cost.buwp planning

Announcement #2:

The winner of the Grand-Prize from the photo contest is missrachel_lynn00! Congratulations, Rachel! I’ve sent you a message, so email me your address at [email protected] for me to send your prize on its way.

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Set People Free

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Patricia Holbrook, our guest blogger today. We met at She Speaks two years ago and instantly bonded. Little did we know that we’d be due with “twin books” this year! Her original release date for Twelve Inches was the same day as mine, but she’s been waiting patiently for a slightly late birth just yesterday. I got to read her book ahead of release, and it’s wonderful. Make sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

(Excerpt from Twelve Inches by Patricia Holbrook)

I was resting in bed upstairs as I recovered from a major surgery. My children’s laughter reached the bedroom and woke me up. They were giggling of excitement as grandma once again came up with a new, creative way to play with them.

I smiled and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving for my mom. Once again, this loving woman had dropped everything in her life and  had flown 6,000 miles to take care of me and my family in a time of need. Regardless of distance, time or cost, I know that as long as God gives her breath, I can always count on my mom.

My mind goes back in time and I remember our relationship as I grew up. As many women of her day, mom had to work five days a week and sometimes on the weekends to help the family budget; therefore she was not very involved in our day-to-day activities. During the teenage years, as my parents’ relationship became stormy, we were all victims in the consequences of a broken marriage. Hormones and anger made my young mind shut down to any common sense. The hurt of seeing my parents growing apart blinded any attempt to understand my mother and so our relationship became distant and shaky.

As we both struggled with our individual crisis, we hurt each other deeply. As in many other mother-daughter situations that I have known, there was pain, misunderstanding and incompatibility for far too many years.

Today, however, in spite of anything in the past, I can honestly say that Mom is a best friend. I long to see her and spend time with her. I love to hear her voice when I dial her number. And even though our personalities are pretty different and we don’t always agree, our love and longing to be together grows deeper with each passing year.

Our secret?

We set each other free.

We can’t help but grow old, but we have to choose to grow wiser.

As a grown woman, I started to understand her longings, sorrows and disappointments. I often made myself put on her shoes to imagine her experiences.

When I became a Christian at 25, I realized for the first time that no one is worthy of forgiveness; however that is exactly what Christ offers to anyone who will ask. I also came to realize that true love never withholds forgiveness and that we cannot expect to be forgiven if we don’t forgive others. This former Catholic school girl knew all too well the words of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11: “And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

I know several mothers and daughters who are wasting time and missing out an abundant life with each other because of unforgiveness. I know daughters who dread the thought of being around their mother and mothers whose daughter can never measure up to their expectations. I know mothers who compete with their daughters and daughters who will never agree with their moms, even when they are absolutely right. The same occurs in different relationships where trust and dreams are shattered . Without forgiveness there is no factual restoration. Without restoration, our future is bound to defeat. Heaven shuts down. Our Faith Bridge stays broken and therefore nonfunctional.

As we stand in a position of self-righteousness, holding on to thirty year old grudges, we fail to realize that we are the ones held in bondage. Even if the person who wronged you has a hardened heart and continually hurts you, do yourself a favor: Set them free! Ask God to help you forgive them and pray for them. Extend the same forgiveness that you so long to receive from those you hurt.

I cannot remember exactly when it started, but somewhere along life’s way, I started to choose to love my mom for whom she is. I don’t try to change her and I don’t look back anymore. I look forward to the years we have ahead of us. No matter how many we have, I am choosing, one step at a time, to fully, abundantly enjoy each one.

Regardless of who hurt you, whether it was a parent, spouse or friend, forgiving is not easy. Actually, I believe it’s quite impossible without God. But with His help, you can.

Have you tried asking Him to help you overcome?

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

418ZAZHGN5L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_This devotional is an excerpt from Patricia’s newly released book Twelve Inches – Bridging the Gap between what you know about God and how your feel. Today we’re giving away a copy to one of our readers. Leave a comment to enter, or if you are in a hurry, simply say “I’m bridging the gap!” in the comments section. For more information on the book and to read some of the endorsements, click HERE

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A Little Breather

Whew! Following getting home from a long-awaited family vacation on Tuesday, we’ve got two days to pack Nolan, our youngest son, for his freshman year at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Could I ask for your prayers as we get both our young men off to college and come back to a very quiet house?

If you’ve done this before, you know there’s a huge cauldron of emotions bubbling around!

So this is week is a breather post just to announce the winner from last week. 🙂 The winner of a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect is Candyce who left her comment on 8/07/15 at 10:11 am. Congratulations, Candyce! I just sent you an email, and when you reply with your mailing address, I’ll pop it right into the mailbox.

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“Perfection” Interrupted

Walking through Target one evening last week, I saw a sight that stopped me in my tracks. A tiny girl with sparkling eyes and dark bobbed hair smiled up at her daddy as he held her hands, helping her walk on his feet as he made his way down the aisle.

The little girl’s feet kept slipping off her daddy’s, so it wasn’t a perfect walk. Yet it was beautiful. Joy shone from the two as they in moved imperfect tandem. She looked at him with her ear-to-ear grin and complete trust in her eyes. He gazed back at her delight-filled and confident in the knowledge that his strength would keep her from falling.

It was captivating to watch.

The duo brought one of my favorite scriptures about our Father God to mind:

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:3-4)

Our Father is holding our hands, watching our progress with loving delight. His joy isn’t diminished by the imperfection of our steps. We’re learning, and He’s there to catch us. He deals with His children tenderly.

Like today’s devotion shares, we can become so entrenched in our own ideas of perfection that we forget to enjoy simply walking daily with my Father. Like a toddler, we internally stomp our feet and declare, “I do it myself!” Instead of holding our Father’s hands and trusting in His strength and direction, we so often try to make our own way.

But when we do, we miss it. We miss the joy of walking with Him. Instead, let’s see our own imperfections as an opportunity to grab God’s hands, lean into His strength, and trust Him for the next step.

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Imperfect Moms

Hi, gang! It’s been a crazy ride this last week, and I feel like I’ve traveled around the world since the last post.

In reality, I was in Concord, NC last week for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ annual conference for speakers and writers, She Speaks. It was absolutely fantastic! God spoke, women listened, and worship abounded. If you’ve never attended, take a look by clicking here and pray about joining us next year.

One of the greatest joys I had was interacting with women who have read Breaking Up with Perfect. I’m finding out that I’m not the only one who has struggled with my own view perfection! It’s wonderful to have a growing community of women who are throwing off those flawed perceptions and walking together into God’s perfecting power.

The time I wrestled the most with perfectionism was as a  young mom. I’ve written a guest post over at Missional Motherhood called “Why Your Kids Need an Imperfect Mom.” I hope you’ll click here to read the post and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect!

Here are a few other notes for you:

  • Over 200,000 people around the world have already downloaded First 5, Proverbs 31 Ministries’ new app designed to help you start your day with scripture. I’ve loved every minute of the first three days, so I encourage you to check it out!
  • If you’ve started the process of breaking up with perfect and you’d like a fun, daily reminder, click here to download a new screen saver for your computer screen.
  • Evelyn (7/23/2015 12:34 am) is the winner from last week’s post. Congratulations, Evelyn!!

Next week I’ll have caught my breath, and I’ll be back to writing more normal, “sharing life” blog posts. Thanks for sticking with me during this crazy time of life! You are treasured.

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Thanks so much for visiting with me here today. If you’re visiting for the first time, a special welcome to you! If you’d like to join our little community on the path to greater joy and delight, I invite you to subscribe by entering your email in the box to the right.

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~Mary Ritter Beard

That quote has certainly true for me, and when I return from travels, there’s nothing that changes more than my view of my stuff. So much of the world lives more simply with far more joy. Why do I need all this?

Those are the reflections that brought me to write today’s devotionand it’s a personal examination that happens every time I stamp my passport.

It’s funny how quickly the mind shifts back to our norm, however. Pretty soon I’m not wowed anymore by the endless aisles in the glittery department stores less than a mile from my house. Before long, I’m not horrified by the unused items that overflow in my cabinets and closets. In a blink, I’m back to feeling cozy with consumerism.

It takes a deliberate shift in focus to return to our presets, the laser-like focus on others for which God created us.


When I turn my eyes away from the next desired purchase and into the eyes of someone I love… or someone in need… or someone who is hurting, then I remember my true purpose. I’m created to connect.

Today, I’m giving a way a sign as a reminder


Sign by: The Simple Sparrow  (The giveaway includes the sign only)

As well as a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect


To enter, simply leave a comment about how you prioritize people over stuff. Or, if you’re living life on the fly today, simple say, “I’m created for connecting not collecting!

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Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks

Welcome, friends! If you’re visiting for the first time today from my Encouragement for Today devotion, I’m so glad you came. Subscribers, thank you so much for being on this journey with me! (If you’re a visitor, I’d love to invite you to subscribe by simply entering your email to the right and then responding to the confirmation email.)

I don’t think I’m the only student enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks ;), so I’m betting that’s why you’re here today. I’ve made a resource that I hope will be a delight for both your eyes and your soul. I’ve printed one and put it on my bathroom mirror to remind myself to study God’s Word for solutions before I run into snags.

Click here to print wisdom & teaching, and enjoy!


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Free Goodies

If  you’ve hung around me at all either in real life or on the blog, you already know I’m a resource junkie. At one point in a phone conversation with a poor friend of mine last night, I actually said, “Are you writing down all these book recommendations? I’ve got a bunch more!” Obnoxious, I know. She really should have hung up on me.

My church staff are the other blessed recipients of my resource-full-ness. I send links to the latest Barna survey or viral video. I’m sure they roll their eyes as they press delete, but it’s like I can’t help myself. (It’s just because I love them so much!)

bookfest tag cloud

Well, guess what? I’m giving everybody else a break today, and YOU are the lucky recipient of some of my favorite latest and greatest resources. 🙂 The best part… they’re all FREE!

I hope you’re ready to have your mind filled with lots of wonderfulness. Click away! (But come back at the end to tell me your favorites and leave your own.)

If you need a laugh, click here to watch this hilarious church count down.

If you are a teen girl, have a teen girl, or lead teen girls, you really can’t miss this. Seriously. My friend Lynn Cowell has the most amazing free resource called “What Do Guys Really Want?” along with a discussion guide. It’s sure to open great conversation, and it’s time-appropriate with Valentine’s coming up. Click here to see the video along with her other fantastic free resources.

Do you long to write a book, but you’re not sure you can? Jeff Goins felt the same way, but now he’s writing books for writers. Click here to demystify the process. (Subscribe while you’re there. I love all his stuff!)

My fabulous friend Wendy Schultz is doing a year of Jewish feasts with her family this year and blogging about each one on her blog The Celebrated Family. It’s a fun way to bring Old Testament scripture to life for your kids, so click here if you want to see the schedule and follow along. I want to be a fly on the wall and learn all the stuff they’re learning!

Have you been afraid to talk to somebody about Jesus because you think you’ll get it wrong? You’ve got to read my friend Suzie Eller’s story. Click here to change the way you think forever.

Too frazzled for one more night out at a Bible study but wishing you could be part of one? My friend Karen Ehman has written a book on my most needed topic with the cutest title and cover ever–Keep. It. Shut.  You can find out all the information about joining the Online Bible Studying by clicking here.

I know. I know. You’re thrilled. 🙂 Tell me which ones you like best, and please share your own favorite resources. If you play, this will be fun!

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Remembering a Warrior

Back in 2008, I wrote a devotion about a woman who began impacting my life in the quietest way week after week as I went through her checkout line. Lucia passed away last month, and her loss is felt deeply by all those who love her. Her legacy of living brave in the midst of hard circumstances lives on, so I wanted to honor her and share with you.

There’s a woman who works at our local grocery store that just makes my day. She is ALWAYS positive and cheerful. I know that it isn’t easy working with the public and spending long hours on her feet, so today I asked her for her secret. “My secret for bagging?” she asked in surprise.


“No,” I explained. “I want to know your secret for staying so positive.” She just gave a big smile and explained that God is her secret. She followed by telling me that she had to be at work at 6:00 am today, so she got up at 3:30 am to spend time with Him.

Tears filled my eyes as I thought of this precious sister in the Lord rising in the dark to spend time with the Lord so that she could minister to all the people that will pass her at the cash register today. She shares her enthusiasm, energy and smile equally with each customer. She is a beautiful woman, but she doesn’t have the advantage of youth that many of her co-workers have. This woman had gotten up in the middle of the night, spent time with Jesus, and worked an 8 hour shift. She said that it isn’t always easy. “By the 40th hour of my work-week, I’m very tired,” she said. “But He is my secret.”

Our youth pastor sent out a quote this week that has followed me through my days.

“The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came…Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.” ~ R.A. Torrey

Lucia, the checker at the grocery store, is living proof of this quote. She prepares herself with prayer for the battle of each day. She’s an ordinary woman just like me, but she has taken the ordinary and made it beautiful beyond measure.

I’m a “doer”, and prayer does not come easily for me. I want to start attacking my checklist about the time I open my eyes in the morning. Lucia reminds me, though, of this truth that I’ve heard. Prayer isn’t preparation for the work. It IS the work. One tool that has helped me tremendously is a prayer journal. Writing out my prayers helps me to focus and not get distracted so easily. It is also a wonderful record when I want to look back and remind myself of what the Lord has done and how He has answered prayer.

Like you, I’ve got several battles that I’m facing. I needed Lucia to remind me today that time with God is invaluable. The only time I lose is when I miss the time in prayer doing the work before the day starts.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to be ready for the battle each day. Help me to remember that nothing arms me like time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you’re inspired and want to read more stories about living brave today, please visit my friend Suzie Eller’s blog. She has a wonderful post and others are linking their stories as well.

Announcement: Janice (10/29/14 10:52 am) is the winner of the Thanksgiving place cards! Thanks to each of you who left comments.

If you didn’t win, and you’d still like to use the place cards for your holiday dinner, you can find them at Little Brown Cards.

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