Standing on Brave Shoulders–Plus a Giveaway

Plus a Giveaway (1)

 

Candles filled the concert hall and God’s Spirit hung heavy, but this was no ordinary night of worship. God was calling us out, writing our destinies into existence.

Only 20 years old, I stood alongside the other graduates in a special commissioning service. Our ministry mentors were instructed to challenge us, calling us by a new name.

When my turn came, Paula paused to think. Finally, she scribbled out a word, folded the paper, and passed it to me.

I wanted to accept this new name, embrace it, but another claimed my life. Everyone could read the name “Timid” etched across my life.

How could I live the word “bold,” the word she prayed over me so brazenly?

Sometimes it takes years for God to fan our prayers into flame. I lost that piece of paper, but over the years, I clung to the hope it gave me.

It took a brave woman to call out the brave woman in me. In fact, it’s taken an army of brave women.

Courage begets courage, doesn’t it? We learn bravery by seeing it in action.

For instance, I needed to see my friend Fran Geiger Joslin run a publishing company, after starting it on a leap of faith.

I needed to watch Mary DeMuth live the message of her books, while daring to imagine and set in motion the Re-story Conference.

I needed to watch Heather Creekmore choose endurance and faithfully steward the message God has given her.

Seeing my friend Lea Ann Garfias choosing to be brave and launch her must-read book, Rocking Ordinary, helps me stare down fear and slay my own dragons.

We all need this kind of inspiration. That’s why I’m excited to tell you and hopefully give you a copy of the American Woman’s Bible (Thomas Nelson 2016), a study Bible that includes stories of the brave women who helped make America.

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I know I don’t need to tell you about the many bold woman who, fueled by faith, shaped our country. Their stories speak about gumption, hospitality, and sacrifice.

Their stories, past and present, remind me to be brave—how one act of bravery ripples out into the world, inciting more bravery.

On days when we don’t feel courageous, snapshots of godly woman like Ruth Bell Graham, Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt, lend us tenacity and strength.

Henrietta Mears had it right when she said, “Faith is caught rather than taught.” This quote and many others from woman like Flannery O’Connor, Emily Dickinson, and Dorothy Day inspire readers and fill the pages of this Bible.

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Bold woman speak the truth to each other. We borrow and lend courage. We help each other live new names and new stories.

The Giveaway

I have two copies of the American Woman’s Bible  that I would love to give you, one hardback and one leather bound.

Here’s how to enter: If you haven’t already, like my author page on Facebook and let me know in the comments below. In a week, I’ll put all the names in a hat for a drawing and contact you if you won.

Would you consider sharing this post on social media, maybe even tagging a brave friend, too? Thanks for being brave!

3 Reasons You Might Need a Nap

_Sleep Drunk_

My son’s naptime reminds me of a scene from Honey I Blew Up the Kid.

Instead of a giant toddler ransacking Las Vegas, the only thing giant-sized in this house is my kid’s tantrums around noon.

I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood recognizes the signs. Whining morphs into crying and eventually turns into full-blown screaming.

In these moments of desperation, we play a game called “horsey wants to run.” It calms him down.

Yesterday, I scooped him up on my back and galloped toward the bed. Between giggles he said, “I don’t want a nap.”

“But you need a nap,” I said in my horsey voice, neighing and then trotting up the stairs.

“But I don’t want a nap.”

Can I just come right out and say it? If you’re cranky or anxious today, you probably need a nap too.

Adults need proper rest but often refuse to sleep, not realizing how it affects us. We lumber on like cranky toddlers, wide-eyed at the next Netflix episode or strung out over late-night comedy.

If you fall into this category, here’s three reasons you need more sleep.

  1. Creativity flows from rest.

Americans suffer chronic sleep deprivation, averaging less than 7 hours a night. That’s bad news if you make a living as a creative thinker. Loads of studies link proper rest to creativity.

Turning in early at night allows me to rise before the sun. That way I can get things done.

Often we’re duped into thinking sleeping less leads to more productivity, but that’s not the case. Going to bed early can increase work performance.

  1. Tired Brains Can’t Focus

Creativity isn’t the only thing that hinges on quantity and quality of sleep. Our attention spans and memory improve with eight hours of Zzzz’s.

Sleepy people often show signs of ADD or ADHD. If you’re having trouble concentrating, go take a nap. This article can wait.

Almost everything can wait.

Think of it this way. So much of your quality of life depends on your concentration and memory. Is finishing that book or late-night TV really worth it?

3. Sleepiness makes you feel like you’re drunk.

Recently, I stayed up way too late, relishing every moment I could spend with a group of witty, like-minded people.

I made a mistake.

It was late, and as the night waxed into morning, my body cried out for sleep, but I ignored it. Maybe you’re ignoring some of the symptoms, too.

  1. Forgetfulness
  2. Incessant yawning
  3. Giddiness
  4. Speed blinking to keep your eyes open

After a few nights of this routine, one thought plagued me—I feel drunk. Though no wine or spirits flowed, I found myself babbling and laughing incessantly.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Studies show, missing sleep can make us feel and act inebriated. I call it “sleepy drunk.”

That week I babbled on into the wee hours, but struggled to keep my mind for wandering during the day. My emotions, too, were a wreck.

While we’ll all have late nights sometimes, make sure they’re the exception to the rule.

Sleep does our minds and bodies good.

That little morsel of wisdom is worth drinking to—as long we’re drinking coffee (and decaf after 1 p.m.).

I would love to hear from you! How does sleep affect the quality of your life?

 

Laugh or Cry—Just Live Your Crazy, Quirky Life

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“Just be. Do you know how to just be?” my mother asked as I jetted out the door.

“I’ll try,” I said, waving goodbye to my kids.

Truth is I’m not so good at “being.” I’m a doer who loves to keep moving. Perhaps you are too.

When busyness beats heavy on our lives, sometimes we need to push away and find a quiet place. For me that happened a couple weeks ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I even took the time to watch the Chewbacca Mom’s video. (I practically live under a rock, so you know that the entire internet saw this video.)

When I saw Candace Payne laughing hysterically, I didn’t need for the successful authors to explain personal branding to me. Candace’s video brought it all home. Just be yourself, your crazy, quirky self.

Just be.

For me, this means I need to lay aside people-pleasing.

Last week at church, I heard Matt Chandler preach this thought-provoking sermon, where he said all our idols stem from four basic sources:

  1. Comfort
  2. Control
  3. Approval
  4. Power

While I might struggle with all four, the approval idol holds a stranglehold on my life. It keeps me measuring up to other people’s standards. It ruins authenticity and shatters confidence.

Here’s the thing about idols. The devil doesn’t want us to see the ways our hearts crave and praise other things. He loves busyness because it masks our idolatry.

Those five days I spent at the writer’s conference gave me time to pause and listen to the silent driver behind so many of my decisions. So much of my fear is rooted in the idol of approval.

Finding some breathing room in the midst of life’s chaos also means we can reconnect with the One who conquered sin—the stunning One that heals and cleanses us of idolatry.

At the conference—besides running smack dab into my disease to please—I cried a lot. I even broke down crying in front of several well-known authors.

I cried tears of joy at the realization I’m not the only struggling writer. I broke down in frustration. I wept as I laid down the writing/approval idol.

I even teared up during pitches to agents and publishers, too. You know what? I don’t even care if everyone remembers me as “that weepy girl.”

It was real. Turns out just being requires honesty. Maybe Candace Payne has raucous laughter, and I have buckets of tears?

God wants to set us free moment by moment as we live and breathe in His presence.

What are some ways you can slow down and create some breathing room in your life?