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?”

 

craving connection

 

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’s the beginning of February, and if you live in the northern hemisphere and you’re anything like me, you’ve just slipped into the doldrums of a dreary winter where patience runs thin and tempers run high.

You’ve been sanitizing kitchen counters and toilet seats after weeks of circulating germs, and right about now you’d give anything for a breath of fresh air. Or maybe a mocha Frappuccino.

 

breathe

 

Well, I’ve brought you a breath of fresh air for this week’s Five Minute Friday post.

It’s my great privilege to welcome Five Minute Friday founder, Lisa-Jo Baker, to the blog this week!

She has an exciting announcement to share with all of us, and I’m so glad she’s here!

In honor of our special guest, this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

breathe

 

Here’s Lisa-Jo:

 

My stomach hurts. My rib cage feels like it’s crushing my lungs. I’m sitting here at the old farmhouse table with the crumbs trapped in the cracks reminding myself over and over and over again that life isn’t actually an emergency. It’s a gift.

 

So why are my hands clenched so tight?

 

I’m like a kid with a cracker, a treat, a delight that she’s about to crush to death because she won’t open her hands. I’m holding on way to tight to this dream of freedom. You can’t be free if you won’t let go.

 

And I want so many moms to be free from anger from temper from the guilt that they’re doing it all wrong. I want us to let go and exhale and take such big gulps of free air together.

 

I want to breathe deep these promises that God makes all things new. Including weary moms. Including moms who feel like they’re doing it all wrong. When really all that worry means they’re doing all right. It means they’re ready for change. For life, for fresh air and a chance to write new stories in their homes.

 

Altogether now, open your hands. Breathe in. Breathe out. Tomorrow is coming as only tomorrow can. On the promise of grace and a sunrise painted by a God who holds tomorrow in his hand. A God who will complete this good work in each of us and carry us if necessary across the finish line.

 

There are crumbs in the cracks and to many to-dos but right now, in this moment, I can unclench my hands.

 

and just take the next breath.

 

***

A Note from Lisa-Jo Baker

If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all then you know that I’ve spent the past DECADE trying to tame the temper I didn’t know I had before I became a mom.

 

breathe

 

Because it didn’t make sense that I could simultaneously love my tiny humans like nothing else on earth while also feeling like nothing else could make my head want to explode in quite the same way. It stunned me to one day find myself nose-to-nose with a six year old screaming my lungs out.

 

What kind of mother feels like that? A bad one, I told myself. I was sure I must be a bad mom because I was capable of a kind of rage that scared me.

What I’ve learned is that we are NOT bad moms!

 

breathe

 

We are good moms, we are normal human beings dealing with abnormal circumstances (sleep deprivation, zero privacy or personal space or alone time) and what we don’t need is more guilt! What we need are the tools to help get us through.

 

The blog posts I’ve written about my struggle with my temper have been my most highly read and shared posts. And the ones I get the most email about and the most speaking invitations to teach on. I hear you sisters — the struggle with mom temper is real!

So I’ve finally done something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS!

I’ve packaged up everything I’ve learned about my mom temper (the hard way) over the last decade of parenting and everything I teach at my workshops so that you can put it into practice in your own homes.

 

And I’m calling it The Temper Toolkit.

 

stop losing your temper

The Temper Toolkit is a labor of love from me to you — a collection of practical strategies, honest stories, and Biblical resources from one mom to another to help you take control of your temper BEFORE you lose it.

 

All for the cost of one exhausted drive-through dinner with the kids after a day of meltdowns.

 

Just click here to get access to The Temper Toolkit!

 

In this together!

Lisa-Jo

NOTE: The Temper Toolkit is only available through Monday, February 6th, so act fast!

 

 

Side note: I couldn’t let a prompt like “Breathe” pass by without a shameless plug for the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, happening October 6-7, 2017! Click here to learn more!

 

breathe

 

This year, Leslie Leyland Fields will be the keynote speaker!

 

Lord willing, it will be my third consecutive year attending the Breathe Conference. I’d *love* to see you there!

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links used in this post.

 

Now it’s your turn! Give us your best five minutes of free writing on the prompt, BREATHE!

 

 Loading InLinkz ...

stop losing your temper

When my mom was alive, she used to say I was so patient with my kids.

If only she knew.

 

stop losing your temper

They sure know how to bring out the best in us, don’t they?

I used to be such a calm and collected individual — now I can blow fire through my nostrils over the tiniest of infractions.

I hate it.

I don’t want my kids to remember me for my outbursts. I don’t want anger to characterize my life.

I want to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19b-20).

But how?

Cue Lisa-Jo Baker’s brand new video resource, The Temper Toolkit.

The Temper Toolkit is a collection of practical strategies, honest stories, and biblical resources from one mom to another to help moms like you and me take control of our temper BEFORE we lose it.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

 

This fabulous and much-needed resource includes: 7 teaching videos, 5 bonus videos, downloadable audio (so you can listen on the go) and key takeaways from each lesson beautifully designed as phone lock screens, computer wallpapers or a print so you can choose which format is best to help you take the lessons with you wherever you go.

Be encouraged and have hope:

 

 

stop losing your temper

It’s easy to get down on ourselves and feel like a failure when we blow it yet again.

One thing I love about Lisa-Jo Baker is that she helps put things into perspective. She teaches from experience, and she knows exactly what it’s like to fight these losing battles day after day.

 

stop losing your temper

 

 

Are you ready to gain control of your temper? Are you aching to have peace in your home?

Act quickly — The Temper Toolkit is only available for five days: Today through Monday, February 6th!

Get access now!

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, my hunch is that deep down, you long for connection. Maybe even crave it.

Am I right?

The reason I can say I’m pretty sure this is true about you is because I know where you come from. I know who made you, and how He did it.

What does this have to do with craving connection? Well, this creator God exists as three persons in one being—a holy trinity. He has perfect fellowship within Himself, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and like I said above, He created you in His image.

We’re designed for fellowship. For connection—with God, with friends, and with community.

 

Join me over at iBelieve for the rest of this article on

How to Cultivate the Connection You Crave

 

And guess what?

The community at (in)courage is hosting 5 Weeks of Craving Connection Challenges, and you’re invited!

connection

Photo credit: incourage.me

Join (in)courage for 5 Weeks of Craving Connection Challenges!

From the (in)courage website:

For five weeks we are inviting you to join us in completing challenges described in Craving Connection. Starting next Tuesday, February 7, we will share an excerpt from a chapter in the book, as well as some discussion questions and the challenge for that week. We’ll ask you to complete the challenge by Friday. (And, friends, we are SO EXCITED to hear how it turns out for you! We know God is going to show up big time!!) To encourage you in your weekly challenge, the author of each week’s chapter will join us every Thursday for a conversation on social media (stay tuned for info on these chats on both Facebook  and Instagram.)

Here’s the plan:

Tuesday, February 7: A Grand Blueprint for Hospitality by Jen Schmidt (page 256)
Tuesday, February 14: I Can’t Even by Amanda White (page 86)
Tuesday, February 21: A Safe Harbor by Robin Dance  (page 120)
Tuesday, February 28: He Knows and He Is Near by Eryn Hall (page 22)
Tuesday, March 7: Longing for Loyalty by Erin Mohring (page 128)
Tuesday, March 14: Time to wrap up and talk about what’s next!

There’s no need to sign up or join a group or anything, though you may want to subscribe to emails from (in)courage to be sure you don’t miss any of the posts. Just join us on the blog each Tuesday, carry out the challenge in your daily life during the week, catch a live chat with the authors each Thursday on Facebook, and know we’re here cheering you on!

Disclaimer: Affiliate links used in this post.

Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday!

My challenge for you this week is to click around the link-up until you find someone who is joining FMF for the first time. Last week I found at least three newcomers, and it makes me smile every time!

If you’re brand new to the Five Minute Friday scene, you can learn more about us by clicking here!

This week, it’s my privilege to welcome Shannon Popkin as a guest blogger. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, which releases Friday, January 27th!

 

control

 

Here’s Shannon Popkin with this week’s Five Minute Friday post on the prompt:

 

control

 

 

Control. The desire for it wells up from somewhere very deep inside of me. I crave it. I feel compelled to lunge for it; to do whatever it takes to have it. I feel an urgency to take control, wondering what might happen if I don’t!

And so I go for it. I leap for it. I run for it. I grasp it as tightly as I can and clutch it with all my might.

Then without comment, control slips through my fingers like a mirage. It flutters like a leaf, blown upward into heaven.

I see now that it was all a tease. I never did have a grasp on that blasted control.

This makes me angry and frustrated. I shout at it to get right back here, and jab my finger at the ground in front of me. Then I whimper like a child because I need it so badly. But control is not mine to be had. It doesn’t belong in my hands. It belongs in God’s.

I look up to search His face, wondering why He has taken the control I so deeply long for. Is He taunting me? Is He Indifferent and aloof? Does he even see me all the way down here, beneath his throne?

I wave my hands frantically, to let him know that I need Him to send it back down. I’m ready to hold on more tightly, now. I won’t let go this time.

There’s movement. He sees me! He’s stooping low. For a moment, I’m terrified, and then I see kindness in His eyes. He whispers something into my soul and I lean forward to hear it. You were not designed to carry the burden of control. Won’t you let me carry it for you?

And then He shows me His hands. His massive, wise, holy hands. They are good, God hands.

And at first glance I didn’t notice, but now I do! He’s holding something, there. Are they threads? They’re translucent yet as strong as steel.

I look closer and see a trillion plotlines being woven together in such complexity and beauty, such that I’ve never laid eyes on. His strong fingers are twisting and tying and looping the details together—details of people who are known and loved by Him—in intricate patterns so that each thread moves the story along toward a conclusion that fills my heart with such joy I can hardly breathe.

I can’t see the ending; I can’t see the full pattern. But I just know that it is good.

“It is very good,” I hear Him say.

But when I turn my eyes back to His face, He is gone. Hidden from sight. Just like that.

It was only a glimpse, but it was enough.

I am settled now, at peace with what I can’t see and what I don’t know. I no longer feel the angst in my soul, pressing me to take and keep and have control.

He’s in control, so I don’t have to be.

 

 

control

Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for storytelling and humor with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, and is a contributing blogger at TrueWoman.com.

Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more information and companion resources for Control Girl, including a downloadable discussion guide for leaders, go to ControlGirl.com.  Shannon would love to connect with you at shannonpopkin.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn! What comes to mind when you think of the word, CONTROL? Share with us in five minutes or less!

 

 Loading InLinkz ...