The curious case of the full-grown woman who completely failed at her church’s meal ministry

I drop a bombshell of truth in the last chapter of my next book (coming February of 2018!).

This is my bombshell– a fact few people realize about me: I don’t actually participate in my church’s meal ministry. I can feel your horror and surprise from here. I must seem callous and uncaring.

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I don’t cook.

Not well, anyway. To be precise, it’s not the actual cooking that’s the trouble; the problem is that what I consider dinner is kind of weird. For example:

  • An English muffin with peanut butter.
  • A banana and a cold hot dog.
  • Noodles cooked in butter, and also popcorn for a side dish.


I swear I ate these for dinner moments after I staged the photo.

Obviously I don’t feed my family these freakish combinations for dinner (not usually, anyway). As a mature adult I can prepare a real meal with protein and vegetables and everything. But I can guarantee you that most nights three of the four of us in this house don’t actually like what I make. And with our gluten/dairy/sugar/fat issues, we frequently eat a rotation of raw vegetables, a lean protein, and brown rice.

Still not exactly something you deliver to a new mother. “Here, beloved woman who just bore life onto the earth. I have a dried up chicken breast and a pile of lettuce for you. Be blessed.” That woman would take the lettuce and weep into it a little, probably.

I was part of the church’s meal ministry, taking food to those who were ill or had just had a baby, for quite a few years.

Until the day I had to take food to another family and I had a meltdown when I didn’t have the right containers to deliver soup to the new mother, and that was it for me. I just couldn’t handle the stress of deciding what to make, actually making it, and then locating the proper vessels for delivery.

I opted out.

I said no, and God did not, in fact, smite me.

My stress load lifted considerably, life continued, and I still had loads of other ways to minister to our congregation. I’ve taught Sunday school class, worked with the financial team, scrubbed dishes, and hosted small group at my house.

None of these things have involved crying into lettuce.

Even better– when I’m doing the things I love to do, the cooks in the congregation can do what they do best. They might not enjoy balancing the Sunday deposit from the offering, but maybe they can create an entire meal and then deliver it with joy.

GOOD FOR THEM. Good for all of us.

So this is my encouragement for you today: you don’t have to do all the things. If there’s something really stressing you out about your ministry or home or family life, you get to choose. You can let it go and serve elsewhere.

I promise this is true.

I promise you have options, and serving others takes many, many forms. Serve with your gifts, not with your guilt. You won’t believe how much more delightful life becomes.

What about you?

Do you have a particular thing you hate to do? What would happen if you opted out? I’d love to know.



Your ministry matters. Do not kid yourself– what you do makes a difference.

In this age of mega stars and internet sensations, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd.

It’s easy to believe your little old life doesn’t reach a million people on YouTube each day, so probably you don’t matter. When you’re typing away in a tiny office or teaching a small class or wiping wee noses, your impact on the world seems limited at best. Microscopic, possibly.

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

Let’s be honest– there are billions of people on the planet right now, so we’re all a little bit insignificant in that global, historical, long-range view of the world. This is totally true and should keep our perspectives a little humble.

Humility is good for our souls, but blindly disregarding our gifts and impact is another. I’m quite guilty of this. I’m slowly, slowly learning about how important the small things really are in the scope of my family, small group, and community.

It’s not the big, important people who really pour blessing into your life, is it? Does your favorite actor/blogger/YouTuber/politician show up at your breakfast table each morning and help you set your day right?

I’m willing to bet they don’t. The people who bless you the most are the ones who show up day after day after day and trudge through life right next to you.

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

It’s the spouse who’s up in the middle of the night with you while you both scrub vomit out of the carpet.

It’s the friend who will take your children at a moment’s notice so you can get to an appointment.

It’s the coworker who hands you a mug of coffee so you don’t murder your 10am appointment with the sharp letter opener you keep on the desk as a weapon in case a crazy person breaks into the building.

(Wow, that got a little dark. I’m sorry. But I have this really scary letter opener on my desk and that’s where I got the idea…)

If their love and blessing in your life makes a huge difference to you, what makes you think your efforts don’t matter to anyone?

Your ministry matters. You matter. What you do each day makes all the difference to someone.

Maybe that someone is only a few months old and recognizes you only as comfort, warm milk, and a clean butt. Those days are so hard, but you’re building a foundation of trust and love that will never be undone. Your child will go out into the world ready to love and care for others, and that is no small feat. Doubt me? Ask anyone who was raised by a neglectful, abusive parent and see how much damage selfishness does.

You’re fighting a tidal wave of pain and loss, every time you drag yourself out of bed for a 3am feeding.

Maybe your loved one has been next to you for more than fifty years, but now has trouble recognizing your face. Your care matters. Your love resounds through the walls of your home, into your church, and is a living witness of Christ’s love to a younger generation who is watching you carefully. You’re showing us how to love, even when that love is forgotten five seconds later. You show us over and over again.

You’re fighting a tidal wave of cultural selfishness with every act of service. We are so thankful.

Photo by Nathália Bariani on Unsplash

Ministry comes in so many different forms.

All these deep thoughts have been stewing in my brain for the last few months as I ponder what it means to be a writer in this current environment. It’s easy for efforts to be evaluated by a number of views to my website or “likes” to my posts. But what I can’t see is the Holy Spirit’s work after I’ve finished typing. What do those words mean in your life?

I don’t know. It’s not really my place to know, honestly. It’s my responsibility to use my gifts to care for the Body of Christ. I’m called to encourage and minister, and whether that’s to 100 people or 10,000 is not for me to decide.

Besides, if only one person’s heart is nudged closer to God today, it doesn’t mean that one individual can’t go out and minister to thousands. The ripple effect is alive and well, and the stone never gets to see that last wave.

Two questions to ask yourself:

I was listening to a brilliant podcast recently (The Road Back to You, which is also a fantastic book on the enneagram personality profile system), and Suzanne Stebile asked a guest these two questions:

  • What does it mean to take yourself seriously?
  • What does it mean to take your contribution to the world seriously?

Do you have an answer for those questions? I didn’t. But I’m going to keep thinking about it until I work it out.

This is our challenge today– to take our gifts to the world seriously. Small doesn’t mean insignificant. Small might mean concentrated and powerful in our case. Or, small might just be the first ripple in the pond, extending far beyond what we’ll ever see.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:11





How to survive a really long meeting when you have absolutely no idea of what’s going on

Recently I found myself in a meeting. Because we had a lot of important details to tend to, the meeting went a little long. And for basically all of those 150 detail-filled minutes, I was pretty much the most clueless person in the room.

Many of you know I’m on the planning committee for the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference, which is held in Grand Rapids every October (writers, you should totally come!) Let me be clear: I love these people and this conference. I even love the meetings. It’s exciting to be part of something I really believe in, and deeply satisfying to watch experts in action.

But I’m not one of the experts, it turns out. Here, I’ve created an infographic to succinctly explain the situation:

While I know I’m loved and wanted on this team (this sentence is to forestall anyone on the team from feeling like they have to assure me of my worth), I totally understand I’m there for something other than contacts, social media prowess, or my in-depth understanding of the publishing world.

God only knows why I’m there, and I think it’s mostly because he has a great sense of humor and knows every team needs someone who’s willing to engage in shenanigans at a moment’s notice. And I am that girl!

Here I am with part of the team, and we’re all looking very serious as we get ready for the video shoot. This almost never happens (the seriousness or the video shoots). ((Photo courtesy of the Breathe Conference Facebook page.))

I’ve assembled some thoughts on this situation because I can’t be the only person who goes to meetings where everyone else is vastly qualified. Let me outline the steps I’ve found helpful:

  1. Come to terms with the fact that you will not be the expert in the room. It’s okay. Let this truth sink into your soul. Poke at it a little with the acceptance stick. Jesus himself told us that a person speaks out of the overflow from the heart (Luke 6:45), so let’s make sure our hearts are humble and ready to learn. I think we’ve all been in a meeting when an arrogant, clueless fool begins to blather. It’s torture. But this never happens when a person understands she knows nothing and feels no need to prove otherwise to her teammates.
  2. Listen. Seriously, make an art of listening. I one day hope to actually know things when I go to a Breathe planning meeting, which is why I tune into the conversation and listen like a ninja. I’m absorbing through my earballs.
  3. Ask pertinent questions that show the team you’re listening, even if you’re providing no good help. For example: Me: “Darron, how many people can the bookstore hold?” Darron: “Oh, the event space can hold at least 300 people.” Me: “Excellent.” Carry on, my friends. I have learned a new piece of helpful information.
  4. Accept the fact that your butt will go numb and you will have to stand. Your friend Ann may look at you with concern. You may have to casually announce to everyone that your rear end is causing you problems. It’s possible to stand and listen so just go ahead and do it, especially if the meeting has reached minute 135 and you also have an hour-long drive home.
  5. Enjoy the snacks! I’m hopeful that your meeting will at least have great snacks. Partake with great gladness.

I truly do get a kick out of seeing everyone in action. You might not realize the working parts that go into a successful conference, but about three million details have to come together to make sure there’s a meeting space, attendees, food, and speakers. This is why the team ends the conference with glazed looks and the inability to complete intelligent sentences.

Look at this beautiful stage that Elizabeth designed! See, that’s what I mean about details. We need a whole person for this! (This photo also stolen from the Breathe Facebook page.)

But we love it. It’s worth it. And I pray your really long meetings are worth it all, too.



Because you never know where the smallest invitation and warm welcome will lead

By the time the fourth African family settled themselves into the pews on Sunday morning, I was sort of crying. Happy crying, but crying nonetheless.

I tend to tear up a lot in the back row. Just ignore me and pretend I’m not weeping over the amazing things God does when I least expect it. Nothing to see here; move along.

My tears were completely and totally due to a tiny portion of Africa streaming into church. A new family with the three boys arrived early, smiling tentatively (because at that point the foyer was full of blindingly white people such as yours truly), shaking hands, and pronouncing their very non-English names carefully for us.

Then, as the service started, their fellow continent-men joined as they got around to it. The three boys headed to children’s church, the smaller twins in matching white shirts did too, and I’m not sure where the baby ended up after the last family walked in.

It was really the baby who got me crying. He was just so pudgy and fat and happy and I was so profoundly thankful to be in a congregation where Kenyans feel welcome.

It all started a few years ago with Harry. He wandered into our church one Sunday because our building was close enough for him to walk from his apartment. A doctoral student at the local university, he was studying in Kalamazoo while his wife and children were home in Kenya.

I’m not exactly sure how we got from “Hello, welcome!” to a congregation with beautiful African dresses. I’m not sure when we moved from warm smiles to needing the translate option on Facebook to decipher Swahili when our friends switch over to their native language.

But we did. Somehow a warm welcome turned into friendship, and then the congregation brought Harry’s family here, then one international student after another ended up in our pews.

We don’t even have a formal ministry to international students. We don’t teach them English, or help them prepare for the Michigan driving test, or intercede on their behalf with their professors.

But we do give their kids a few too many cookies during the fellowship hour. We invite them to parties in the backyard and heaven knows we make sure they’re warm enough through our terrible Michigan winters.

It occurs to me that formal programs aren’t really what most of us are looking for, are we? Do you wake up in the morning and hope your husband will give you a formal lecture on how to load the dishwasher? Do you have a six-hour retreat scheduled for your friends tomorrow?

Probably not. That would be super weird. What we’re longing for is relationships, real and deep ones, to share food and time and parenting duties as we trudge through life next to each other.

And it appears that the Kenyans want exactly that, too.

It’s the smallest things that sometimes lead to the biggest, longest lasting relationships. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. We don’t need formal programs or fancy meals or the next ten years mapped out.

I need to be honest– I’m still pretty bad about this. Part of the reason I leaked tears on Sunday was because I’m not great about the invitations and all the hanging out. It’s often our pastor and his wife and a few specific families in our church who turn those invitations into the kind of relationships that keep our congregation full of Kenyans.

But I can see the results in living technicolor from that back pew. I can see the relationships that have grown, three years after an invitation was offered. I learn from hindsight and others’ actions, it turns out.

And maybe, after this long and meandering blog post, you can too.

When social media misses the important half of the story

My friend Ashley and I sat outside Starbucks the other night, sipping our “low calorie” drinks. (Humor us and let’s not get into specifics like calorie counts or nutritional values, mmm-kay?) While we sipped we discussed something that’s bothering me lately, but we didn’t solve anything.

And then the following day my friend Paul and I had a repeat of the same conversation.

Which is a version of what Eric and I had already been discussing all week long. And now I bring the conversation to you, my beloved reader, to get your input.

The topic? Authenticity on the internet. 

Specifically, how can we represent our lives in an honest, but uplifting, way on social media? Because let’s be frank– things are going a little sideways here in Interweb Perfect World, and I think the consequences are far more dangerous than we anticipate.

The conversation started last Friday night, as Eric and I drove alone to Taco-Tuesday-on-a-Friday (don’t ask– it involves a pontoon boat and bacon and we call it what we want) with friends. Eric casually asked if I’d heard that one of my favorite women’s ministry leaders had decided to divorce her husband.

I gasped out loud and my mouth hung open and I probably looked like one of those fish who breathes her last on the sand.

Basically this face…

I dove for my phone to look up the blog post he referenced, and he was completely accurate. While I only have her side of the story, it appears from the outside that the grounds for divorce are biblical and she tried everything to reconcile.

For two years she’s lived this private nightmare. I mentally reviewed her posts– I remember beautiful photos from her daughters’ weddings, adorable grandbabies, and even a bad health scare.

I don’t remember anything about a broken heart or relationship. I didn’t see any puffy red eyes or angry rants, but I did see a carefully curated assortment of beautiful and inspirational photos.

I firmly believe that part of this is due to her maturity. It’s tacky and awful to air your husband’s failures to the entire world, especially if you have any desire to restore that marriage to health.

Of course we want to discern carefully when we post. We think of others, we think of privacy, and we think about how an embarrassing post might be irrevocable. Mature people think before they communicate. Thank goodness and hallelujah for that.

But this whole event made me wonder how many other public marriages are quietly failing. What about other favorite authors? The ministers at our churches? The leaders of national ministries? The need to uphold a public image plus the desire to encourage others’ faith is probably leading too many people to hide their personal pain, messes, and failure.

church split

Is it any different for the rest of us?

I doubt it. Even if we don’t have ministries or book sales at stake, I think we’re all curating our images on social media. Again, some of that is due to maturity. Nobody likes a whiney baby with constant bad news. I have been known to quietly unfollow acquaintances who publicly air their never-ending pity party.

Some of our posts, however, have little to do with maturity and a lot to do with ego. When we’re looking especially cute and our family is acting in a way that reflects well upon us, then we bust out the camera and make sure it makes it online. This is perfectly natural behavior, but I think we all know “perfectly natural behavior” is often little more than dressed up sin.

Pride is a sneaky stinker. It silently slides in between us and our loved ones, causing divisions and bad feelings. Even when we don’t mean for our post to make others feel bad, we’re certainly enjoying how good it makes us feel, so we often don’t think too deeply about whether those words are puffing up our ego instead of communicating honestly about our life.

Before we get depressed and delete all our social media accounts, I do have two suggestions for how we can dig ourselves out of this social media image game and begin to show an encouraging peek into our lives.

Stop fearing the mess of real life.

Our friends are each slogging through their own mess. Why can’t we join each other there, where we really live? My friend Brenda Yoder posted something perfect on Instagram last week. It was her kitchen sink, piled high with dishes. I loved it. And she offered encouragement and grace from her very real kitchen situation. It’s been several days and I can only hope she’s dug her way to the bottom of the sink.

My friend Christina often shows the hilarious messes her kids make– she sees no need to convince us that her children are shiny angels with golden halos. And she does it in a way that endears those children to us, without embarrassing anyone. Also, anytime Christina kills off another kitchen appliance she posts it. I think she’s up to her tenth crock pot, which only makes me love her more.

There’s a way to share real life without being a weirdo who depresses everyone. Maybe we should get Brenda and Christina to teach classes on the art.

Start to make face-to-face quality time a priority.

You know where my best relationships thrive? Face to face.

Our small group meets on Monday nights, and because of the dynamics of the group (eighteen adults and approximately one hundred toddlers/infants) we share real, gritty life together. There’s no pretending in a group that always includes poopy pants. We’ve been in deep discussion about the Bible and turned our heads to find a completely naked child in the room. Noodles have been thrown. I have locked horns with my child who thinks that two grapes and five brownies constitute a real meal– right in front of these friends.

All I’m saying is that you can’t pretend life is perfect when your kid has poop climbing up his back or your tween decides to engage in a battle of wills in the church kitchen. The truth betrays our efforts to convince people we have our acts together.

Two hours after small group I see my friends’ new posts of their adorable children. I’m not fooled– I know these perfect photos are part of the truth, but the poopy pants are also part of the deal. But I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t make en effort to get close enough to smell those kids.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Could we make an effort to allow our friends into our real lives, instead of curating masks that keep them at a distance? What would that look like for you?

This week, let’s make that effort. Amen?






Could you use a nap and a million dollars?

Dear Reader (you, the cute one sitting over there. I mean you),

Could you use a nap and a million dollars?

OF COURSE YOU COULD. Everyone could.

We’re tired and we’re stressed out and we’re sick of it. A nice long nap and a million bucks would solve quite a few of our problems.

We’re tired of being tired and we’re tired of the adult stress.

We’re pretty sure adulthood wasn’t supposed to look like this, with the dirty laundry and the piles of bills on the counter and the really, terribly, stupidly annoying people who are trying to make us insane.

I know it’s bad manners to call people stupid. I’m not calling people stupid– I’m calling them stupidly annoying. You see? It’s different. (If you could see me right now, you might notice a wee bit of an eye roll situation occurring on my face.)

But guess what. I’ve written a book for us all.

I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars: Biblical Alternatives to Stressed Out Living is on the way. Coming to you sometime in Winter of 2018, the publication wheels are already grinding away. My editor and I have been sending the manuscript back and forth, getting the details just so. Once again I remember how a good editor makes a writer sound much, much smarter than she really is. I love editors so much.

But I love you, the reader, even more. Writing this third book was really hard. I sat down every day at the computer and I asked God to give me insight on what you needed. I want to encourage you, I want to make you see things differently, and I possibly want to make you shoot some sort of beverage out your nose every once in a while.

To do this, I wrote about a zillion chapters to cover every kind of stress: Housekeeping, finances, annoying relatives, discontentment, and pride. Just to cover a few, you understand. I can’t promise that every chapter will connect to every woman who reads the book, but I did my best to approach it all with honesty, ridiculousness, and encouragement. And then I searched the Bible to find how we can adjust our hearts to find the peace and abundant life Jesus promised us.

I hope you’re excited to find a better way to live! I know I am. We’ll be discussing it here on the blog, too. I’ll be telling you all sorts of awkward stories about stress in my life and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.

Well, you can laugh and I’ll join you after my eye stops twitching.



Parenting Teens: Summer Edition

My husband is at work right now, and I’m sitting in my pajamas feeling all shades of guilt. In theory, I’m home “parenting” the “children.”

But what I’m really doing is “whatever the heck I feel like,” because our kids are now 11 and 14 and they barely know I’m in the house. While Eric slaves away with airplane doodads and gewgaws, I’m drinking coffee in his reading chair.

Look: here’s photographic proof of parenting a 14 year old girl the first week of summer:

parenting teens during summer
That lump under the blanket is a woman-child who could literally survive in this house for days and days without me, provided the wi-fi keeps running and the cupboards have food she recognizes.

Her 11-year old brother just thumped in and out of the house about four times. Where is he going? I have no idea. What’s he doing? No clue. He keeps returning alive, though, so I’m not worried.

This is a remarkable contrast to ten years ago, when every summer day lasted precisely 120 hours. Audrey would wake me up at sunrise every morning, demanding a list of the day’s activities. “Mama, do now? Do now, Mama?” And then Caleb would poop his pants at exactly that moment, all before 6am.

By 10am we’d played every game, splashed in the kiddie pool, and crossed the street to the park. And we still had ten more hours to fill until bedtime. By noon I was praying for the rapture. By dinner time I’d lost the will to live.

Somehow we all muddled through, and ten years later the whole situation is completely unrecognizable. Now Audrey and I have long and loud discussions about whether her ten besties will be allowed to come on our family summer vacation (no they will NOT) and I threaten to throw Caleb’s devices under the back wheels of the van.

The ease of this whole situation has me unnerved. I feel like I should be doing something far more productive with them, but mostly I feel like it’s been a long school year and we all need some time to do nothing. (Except for Eric, who really needs to keep working so we can eat and stuff.) We’ve done algebra until our brains exploded, we’ve made lunches and done chores and completed vocab packets. We played tennis and practiced instruments and drove back and forth to the school a million times. We went to two youth groups and studied the book of Acts until we know the apostles like family.

The kids need a break. Eric and I need time to stare at the ceiling and contemplate our life choices.

And also, the future looms before me. This might be our last summer like this, bored out of our minds together. It won’t be long before both kids are working, driving, and living their own lives. I’ll probably need to get some sort of full-time job to pay for college tuition.

It’s all going to change soon. I don’t fear the changes; it’s time for the kids to experience all life has to offer. They’ll need our support in completely new ways, ways that don’t demand 6am diaper changes or transportation to a friend’s house.

I think we’re all ready for what’s coming, but for now, we have this summer. Negotiating over screen time and whether ten extra teenagers can join us in California in August (no they CANNOT), for three solid months.

I love this time of life. I cherish it. And I hope you cherish your summer, too.

(Unless you’re the mother of littles, then just hope for survival.)




All the lies they tell young mothers

Young moms: you have been lied to. Just a little bit.

The lies are uttered with the best intentions from liars who aren’t malicious– just forgetful.

“Cherish every minute,” random people tell you. “These moments are precious and fleeting and you will miss them when they’re gone,” they claim.

I roll my eyes at these fools and their rose-colored glasses of yesteryear. For your sanity, let me set a few things straight:

Your children are indeed precious. They are beautiful, created in the image of the Creator, and when they sleep they look exactly like angels. Whether you gave birth to them or adopted them matters not– they are humans of infinite value and worth. Please do cherish your children. You’ll never regret the work they take or the sleep you lose, and your heart will continue to swell with love for them forever, it seems.

However, some of the parts of young motherhood are exhausting and horrible and you will, in fact, not miss them. And you shouldn’t feel guilty for loathing certain parts of the job because you’re basically doing the world’s hardest work around the clock.

The list of things you will not actually miss:

You will not miss screaming toddlers in the car, running three different directions after three tiny children, watching five episodes of Calliou in a row, Goldfish Crackers smashed into the carpet of your vehicle, potty training accidents, explosive poopy diapers in expensive stores, holding them down for immunizations, temper tantrums in front of Grandma, keeping them out of the pond at the park, chasing them around the jungle gym, screaming fits at church, nursing a baby seven times in three hours, marital intimacy interrupted by a hoard of short people pounding on your bedroom door, small fingers reaching under the bathroom door as you try to tinkle in private, STICKINESS EVERYWHERE IN YOUR HOUSE (good lord, how do they get everything so sticky??), or digging in their mouths for whatever foreign object they just popped in there.

Trust me.

One day you’ll be sitting quietly with a book or wandering thoughtfully through a store, clothed and in your right mind, and your children will be right there with you– walking quietly or even having an intelligent conversation.

Sure, they’ll be older and sassier and might smell a little funny. Their teeth might be coming in all cattywampus and they might be wearing socks that haven’t been laundered since October.  You will miss the pudgy baby buns and the wispy, feathery hair. You’ll miss how they lisped words wrong for a while, and you’ll remember how sweet they smelled after a bath.

And yes, you will certainly miss the days when they couldn’t talk at all and therefore couldn’t sass back or point out your every error.

But please ignore the fools who will try to get you to believe every single moment is precious and adorable and glorious. They’re simply too old to remember the work that tiny children require. Do not beat yourself up if you’re finding your life less than enjoyable and sometimes think about running away to a beach in a tropical country with no cell service.

You are a good mom, even when you don’t feel like it. You’re doing a great job, even when your children are insufferable and you’re sure you’re screwing it all up. You will make it, even though you feel like your last nerve was shredded two days after their birth.

Motherhood is hard. Anything worth doing is often hard, and rarely requires that every moment has to be bronzed and polished and remembered with joy.

You’re doing it, Mother of Little People. And your kids will one day grow into great humans because of your work. Don’t lose hope.

And know that some of the older moms around you keenly remember every tantrum and endless day– we’re rooting for you, not silently judging you in the canned vegetable aisle. We’re on your side, I promise.

Together we can outwit the liars with the bad memories who make you feel terrible on accident. Just remember these days accurately, so you can one day throw a lifeline to a mom younger than yourself.


Control Girl: Simply one of the best Bible studies I’ve read in years.

Control Girl by Shannon Popkin* is one of the most powerful Bible studies I’ve read in years.

I drink coffee every morning, try to get my brain to wake up, and see what God has to say to me while I read. Often the results are sketchy, especially if the caffeine takes too long to kick in.

But sometimes a book is so good that (even partially caffeinated) you have to reread portions because it’s so helpful. Sometimes you have to just demand that everyone reads it too. I was ten pages in when I knew my friend and I would study the book together over the summer. I was about twenty pages in when I knew I would recommend it to the women’s ministry at my church. We’re starting the book in our small group next week, and I just can’t wait to see what we learn together.

In fact, I think there are only two kinds of people who don’t need to read it:

  1. Dudes
  2. Women who have never once in their life wanted to control a situation, a person, or the future. (I have not actually met any women like this.)

While Popkin is a gentle, friendly writer who graciously states the truth, I’m still convicted. EVERY MORNING I have to face the truth about myself.

And the thing is– I’m tremendously grateful. Do you know what kind of woman I’d be without the Holy Spirit’s ceaseless work in my heart? I’d be exactly like the seven women from the Bible that Popkin highlights in the book. And while God and I have made some tremendous headway in recent years before Control Girl, I still face a lot of anxiety over situations I can’t control, over relationships I can’t manipulate, and the future that refuses to bend to my plans.

I’m starting to see how much stress I cause myself by being a micromanager. I even wrote a whole chapter about this into my new book, I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars (coming winter of 2018!). But Control Girl takes it further than a chapter. It helps me face some of my darkest impulses, every morning before 7am, and I’ve never even wanted to throw the book across the room.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Shannon Popkin’s website has all kinds of fabulous freebies for you. This is the trail I followed before I decided to buy the book, and I think you’ll find these links helpful too:

  • Are You a Control Girl? Take the Quiz! Start here and don’t blame me if you don’t like the answers. I wasn’t too excited about myself, either.
  • Blog posts to help you sort out your answers after you take the quiz.
  • Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series: This is a nice selection of case studies of real women who ran into their own control issues, and how the Holy Spirit worked in their situations. It always helps to know you’re not alone, right?

Here’s the thing, dear reader. The results are in– attempting to control the world and all the people in it will bring destruction. If you doubt me, just read the Bible stories of the women highlighted in this book. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose another way to live, one that brings grace and freedom to ourselves and our loved ones.

If you want help choosing the better way, Control Girl is a great place to start.


*Affiliate link, which means I’ll make a small portion if you purchase from the link. But I did buy the book– it wasn’t given to me as a promotional event.




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