Over a year ago, I attended my first Christian writers conference. It was a big deal, taking a wobbly step of faith toward the belief that God wanted me to pursue this writing thing.

As I drove home after a glorious three days of extremely helpful insights and inspiration from experts in the field, I asked the Lord why He led me to that conference.

Immediately the song, “Where I Belong” by Building 429 came onto the radio.

The chorus precisely spelled out the main premise of a memoir I had been working on for a while:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

It felt like a confirmation that God wanted me to keep going with the message I wanted to write.

Just after the song ended, the next one began: Storyteller, by Morgan Harper Nichols.

The mountain where I climbed
The valley where I fell
You were there all along
That’s the story I’ll tell

You brought the pieces together
Made me this storyteller
Now I know it is well, it is well
That’s the story I’ll tell

I pulled my car into an empty parking lot and grabbed a notebook and pen. I had to capture the moment. The timing of those two songs couldn’t have been more perfect.

Has that ever happened to you?

This past week, it happened again. I was so surprised to find an excerpt from my chapter of Craving Connection in the new Illustrated Faith devotional kit from DaySpring.

 

Photo credit: incourage.me

 

Given the recent news headlines, it was no small coincidence to have words that I wrote several months ago appear at such a time as this:

“How can we love beyond the gate? How can we love beyond the gates of racial differences, of country borders, of economic brackets?”

 

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After feeling discouraged about the state of affairs in our country and the world, God gave me this reminder in my mailbox that He is bigger than all of it. He’s bigger, and He’s in control, and He’s using His people to be His hands and feet in this dark and broken place.

He’s using the gifts and creative expression of His children to bring hope and color and truth through His Word.

 

The Illustrated Faith kit is a great way to express the creativity He has given you and connect it to the power of Scripture.

Grab your own Craving Connection Illustrated Faith Kit here!

 

Photo credit: Illustrated Faith

This post was sponsored by DaySpring and contains affiliate links.

 

How has God’s perfect timing shown up in your life?

How has He used words to encourage and bless you?

How can you use your creative gifts to express your devotion to Him and grow in His Word!

Share your story in the comments!

 

It can happen to all of us.

Despite our best intentions, we can get sucked into the commercial rush of the holiday season, and before we know it, December’s gone. We blink, and we miss it.

This year, let’s determine a different way.

Let’s pause before the month even begins, and take intentional steps to slow down.

Let’s get ourselves ready to notice and enjoy the true reason for the season.

As I compiled this post, I realized there are so many amazing books available!

In this post, I’ll share about the following:

 

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Firstly, my dear friend, Asheritah Ciuciu has a beautiful, helpful devotional called Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

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This book promises to help you “rediscover the beauty of the greatest gift of all by unwrapping His Names one at a time.”

 

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 unwrapping names of jesus

And then there’s Ann Voskamp’s gorgeous family Advent devotional, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

 

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Read my review here, then order a copy for your own family by clicking here. You won’t regret it!

These gorgeous ornament sets complement Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. Each ornament corresponds to a daily reading.

They come in an embossed, die-cut paper version, as well as a sculpted ceramic version. I was blessed to receive a set of the sculpted ornaments last year, and they are stunning.

STARTING TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND, USE CODE FRIDAY16 TO GET 30% OFF YOUR DAYSPRING ORDER FOR BLACK FRIDAY!

 

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I also love Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift. It follows a very similar format to the family version shown above, but is geared more toward an adult audience.

 

My friend Trillia Newbell has a new book coming out soon, called Enjoy.

Right now, when you pre-order Enjoy, you will receive a free Advent devotional written by Trillia. To learn more about Enjoy and this giveaway, visit Trillia’s website.

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The dear Kris Camealy recently released a book called Come, Lord Jesus:

 

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AND … Christina Hubbard from Creative and Free is hosting an Advent Book Club based on this book, beginning November 27th! So order now and join the club!

 

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Finally, the delightful Anna Rendell is offering 25 devotions for time-strapped Moms in her book, A Moment of Christmas.

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The description on Amazon says, “This book is for the woman who craves a less crazed-feeling Christmas, who longs for a season that is intentional and full of joy. Including 25 devotions, each of them guilt-free, inspiring, and able to be read in 10 minutes or less! As you prepare your heart for Christmas by reading through these pages, you’ll be inspired to drop the pursuit of perfection and chase holy.” Sounds amazing, hey?

 

Don’t let this December pass you by.

Get your hands on some of these resources, then schedule a bit of time each day to dwell in God’s presence.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!

Hi everyone!

Happy September!

And if you’re in America, happy Labor Day weekend! What are your plans?

Whether you’re traveling, working, or relaxing, you’re gonna want to check out this fabulous sale over at DaySpring.com:

 

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I’ve had my eye on these gorgeous Letterpress blocks for ages, and these two sets are currently marked down from $45 to only $15 this weekend only!!

 

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You can actually custom make any word you want using DaySpring’s Letterpress Block set! So fun, hey?

And look! The word, BRAVE is marked down to $15 this weekend, too!

 

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Okay, enough gushing. It’s time to write!

 

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

 

path

 

 

Ready? GO!

 

This song by Lauren Daigle has been making my heart bleed every time I hear it on the radio:

 

 

The chorus goes like this:

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

 

And then of course I can’t listen to the lyrics without thinking about one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6 —

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

He will make your paths straight.

Did you hear that?

How often I lean on my own understanding before leaning on Him. How often I attempt to pour cement where it doesn’t belong instead of waiting for Him to clear the debris from my path.

 

On sale for only $4.99 at DaySpring.com! Click image for link.

On sale for only $4.99 at DaySpring.com! Click image for link.

 

Life is full of so many complications, so many choices, so many tough decisions. And yet these verses and the song above tell us all we need to know, don’t they?

Put your trust in Jesus Christ, and you need not worry which way to walk, or what may lie around the next bend. He’s got you covered.

If you’re in a season of transition, unknowns, or indecision, I hope this song and this passage will center you and help you to lean hard on the One who holds all things in the palm of His hand.

STOP.

 

 

Link up your own five minutes of free writing below!

 

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Yesterday we were treated to a guest post by Deidra Riggs, author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.

 

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Today, I have the opportunity to share a video interview with you, as well as my own review of Every Little Thing, PLUS offer a giveaway from Baker Books and Dayspring! Such a great week!

Firstly, allow me to introduce the lovely Deidra:

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Deidra Riggs is the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are (Baker Books). She is managing editor at The High Calling, and a monthly contributor to (in)courage.

Deidra and her husband live in Lincoln, Nebraska. They are the proud parents of two adult children, and happy inhabitants of an empty nest.

Follow Deidra on her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.​

 

 

I had such a wonderful time recording the following video with Deidra. She is the real deal.

Listen below as Deidra shares words of wisdom and encouragement for all who question their significance in this life:

 

As you can see from this quote I read in the interview, Deidra cuts straight to the heart in her book:

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These are difficult questions. Questions worthy of a long pause and serious, soul-searching reflection.

In fact, the whole book will make you stop and think long and hard about how you view your own purpose and influence in this world.

In her book, Deidra tackles subjects including fear and trust, obedience, significance and surrender, and what it means to live out the gospel.

She weaves biblical examples throughout the chapters, illustrating from Scripture how we can relate to the characters in the Bible and glean from their experiences with God.

One thing I appreciated about Every Little Thing was how easy it was to read. I found myself caught up in Deidra’s storytelling as if she were sitting across from me at a coffee shop. She is engaging and easy to relate to. In spite of the many challenges it poses, this book is inspiring and motivating, not burdensome. It left me feeling bolstered and spurred on to pursue the good works that God has planned in advance for me to do.

If you’re questioning your significance in this world, this book is for you.

If you wonder whether your life is making a difference, this book is for you.

If you doubt that your small contributions have any impact whatsoever — read this book, and be encouraged.

 

Favorite quotes (warning: there are many!):

“Could it be that the biggest obstacle to receiving grace is refusing to admit our deep and aching need for it?”

“We build trust in God by taking one small step in his direction and finding out he will always be there to catch us.”

“Many times God’s invitations are not at all what we’d expect them to be.”

 

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

 

If you missed Deidra’s guest post on God in the wilderness, click here. Here are a few of the many lines that struck me from that chapter:

“As much as we want to resist it, in the wilderness of our lives, God works to transform us more and more into the image of his Son and a reflection of his character.”

“When we’ve allowed the wilderness experience to strip us down to ‘simply me,’ we are just the right size for God’s big plans.”

“God walks every step of the wilderness journey with us, and he shapes us as we make our way through.”

 

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The chapter entitled, “Breathlessness” was one of my favorites.

What are you striving for? What lies have you believed from the world about grasping for significance and meaning in this life? What do you need to release and surrender in order to find true significance in Christ?

 

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As you can see from the many quotes above, you probably shouldn’t read this book unless you’re prepared to be both challenged and changed — in a good way.

 

ViBellalogoIn conjunction with the release of Every Little Thing, Deidra has partnered with ViBella Jewelry, a fabulous fair trade company that employs artisans from Haiti and Mexico. ViBella’s mission is to bring hope and healing to the artisans, their families, and their communities.

Here’s one piece featured in the Every Little Thing collection. It’s called the Alexandra Bracelet

 

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ViBella also has the Kyla bracelet, which is available here:

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And that’s not all! There’s a giveaway!

Baker Books, publisher of Every Little Thing, and Dayspring are offering a copy of Deidra’s book PLUS this beautiful Everlasting Light Shine necklace to one winner!

 

Click here to order the necklace from Dayspring.com while it’s still on sale.

Enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway closes at midnight EST on Sunday, November 29th, and is only open to those with a U.S. mailing address.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Oh my goodness, there are so many exciting things packed into this post, I can hardly contain myself.

First of all, WELCOME! Have I told you lately that I love you? (Did you just hear Rod Stewart singing that to you?)

Seriously. I do. Some of you were not impressed by my choice of prompt last week, but you bit the bullet, took on the challenge, and you wrote.

And I was so impressed.

(I knew you could do it, by the way. Even if you didn’t think you could. I never doubted. You guys are amazing.)

If you’re new here, then an extra special welcome to you!

Five Minute Friday - 4Click here for more info on what Five Minute Friday is all about — but be careful — most fall in love at first sight. We hope this is the first of many visits to this fabulous community.

While you’re at it, go ahead and follow along on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest — and don’t miss the Twitter party every Thursday evening at #fmfparty!

And you’re DEFINITELY not going to want to miss #fmfparty next Thursday, because …

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The FMF Retreat Planning committee will be coming at you LIVE from the retreat venue!

Follow Holly Barrett, Mary Geisen, Jen Daugherty and me if you want to catch us live on August 6th from 8:45-9:30pm EST!

Speaking of the retreat, did you catch the guest posts from our retreat sponsors this week?

I loved reading the heartfelt words from Dan King at Fistbump Media and Amy Breitmann from ViBella Jewelry.

fistbump-media-header2Dan shared the heart behind Fistbump Media, and how his passion is helping people like you and me get our voices out there, to be a blessing to others.

ViBellalogoAmy shared about her recent trip to Haiti with ViBella Jewelry, and how she loves telling beautiful stories.

AND (!!!) ViBella is hosting a GIVEAWAY!! Click here to enter to win the beautiful ViBella necklace below!

WIN ME!

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And psst … one more thing — as your friend, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that Dayspring is having a crazy good SECRET SALE!

Sshhh .. don’t tell anyone — just click over and snag all the goodies before they’re gone!

 

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Okay … I don’t know if I can write after all that excitement, but I’ll give it a shot.

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

TRY

Setting my timer for five minutes, and …

GO.

 

My kids had their second belt test in karate this week.

In this particular karate school, in order to advance to the next belt, students have to break a board.

One of the visiting instructors took a moment to explain to the parents why they include this element in the test:

“It’s a confidence builder,” he said.

“You’re going to face many obstacles in life that need to be overcome.

Nobody thinks they can break a board the first try.

And you know what? That’s fine. It doesn’t have to break on the first try.

But you have to keep trying.

You’re in a fight with a board, and you can’t let it defeat you. It doesn’t matter how many attempts you make — you just have to keep going.”

I don’t know about the kids, but I was motivated by his speech.

How true his words were for all of life. 

It’s like the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of trying.

Tired of trying to check all the things off my To Do List. Tired of trying to defeat the same sin in my life. Tired of breaking up the same arguments between siblings.

Like I’m pounding the same fist on the same board and the wood just won’t break.

The difference for us, as Christians, is that we have a secret weapon.

We aren’t laboring in our own strength.

If Christ is in us, we have His strength, His energy at work in us.

 

_TO THIS END I LABOR, STRUGGLING WITH

 

He is the reason we can do what we do.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14).

He is the reason we overcome.

 

STOP.

 

Don’t forget to enter the ViBella Jewelry giveaway before you link up your own blog post below!

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