Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You Have To Get Through The Messy To Find The Beautiful

I was 20 years old. I sat in the small, nondescript office clutching my purse in my lap. I listened to the attorney sitting at the desk across from me, but most of what he said didn't make sense. I waited for months until the final divorce decree came in the mail. I read every word. My eyes filled with tears that spilled down my cheeks when I read the line: This marriage has been forever and irretrievably broken. 

The divorce hadn't been a surprise. Obviously, I knew it was coming. I was already living my life like a single person, anyway, clueless to the gravity of what I had just gone through.

It was that one sentence...forever and irretrievably broken.
I was broken. I was barely out of my teens and already had a failed marriage under my belt.

Fast forward several years to another nondescript office, listening again to someone tell me things I only half understood. What I did understand? That I was about to sign a document that would end a 4-year marriage and veritably wipe away 8 years of memories. To put it in the words of my now second ex-husband, we were "undoing everything we took years to do." 

And oh it hurt. It hurt so bad. 

This time I swore it would be different. This time, I promised myself that I would go the long haul, I would see it through, I would honor my marriage vows of "till death do us part." 

But there I a scene from the movie Groundhog's Day...signing away my marriage. 
Irretrievably broken.  

I knew marriage was hard. I mean, I'd learned at least that much from the first marriage. But, I had no idea that even when you go into it realizing it's hard and knowing you'll have to give until you feel like you have nothing more left to give, it would feel at times like you're running a marathon with cinder blocks chained to your feet.

I had the desire, but not the tools or the know-how when it came to navigating marriage. I had no idea that marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ's love for the church. I was clueless to the fact that marriage goes far beyond joint bank accounts, picking out China, and dinner parties. 

It's work. And it's sometimes the hardest, gut-wrenching, most arduous work one will ever do. 
And God has to be at the center of it.

Many of you have heard me talk about Darlene Schacht from Time-Warp Wife before. She's this adorable Canadian woman whom I came to love when I stumbled across her blog a couple of years ago. I was smitten by her posts on marriage and impressed by her and her husband's longevity, but I was absolutely bowled over when I read the story of how her husband confronted her about an affair she'd had. 

I knew that feeling in the pit of the stomach and the heat rush that climbs up your face when you're "caught." I remember like yesterday confessing an affair of my own. I remember the humiliation, the regret, and the devastation of admitting that I had broken my marriage vows and betrayed my husband. I also remember another time of being on the receiving end of the news that I had been cheated on. I can instantly recall the deep sense of betrayal and hurt. Words can't express the pain or the depth of the wound. 

But as I sat reading this woman's testimony, wiping away tears and nodding my head, I knew she was telling me something different than I'd heard before and she was speaking from a vantage point that rang true to me and was one I understood well.

Only, she was victorious. Her marriage was succeeding and thriving despite the affair, despite the marital struggles. I wanted that. I was hungry for that. I needed to know her secret.

I've reviewed another of Darlene's books before (The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife). It was an amazing book. I loved it. I cried my way through it and learned so much about being a wife who supports and loves. Darlene's new book Messy Beautiful Love is out today. I am honored to be among those who received an advanced copy in exchange for writing a review. 

The easy part is reading and reviewing this book. The hard part? That's where I put into practice all the Godly, sound advice Darlene offers. One of the things I love about her is that she is a woman who speaks from the heart. She is real and honest and raw. She doesn't mince words when it comes to giving the truth, yet I never feel offended. 

Even when she speaks of some hard topics like "Give Up Your Right to Be Right," I never feel like Darlene is speaking down to me, but rather like she has her arm around my shoulder while we sit next to each other on the sofa with a hot mug of tea in our hands. 

I'm going on a decade of marriage with my third husband. We don't have it all figured out yet, but we have many things in our corner now, that neither of us had before. 

When I at down to read Darlene's book Messy Beautiful Love, I felt like I was peeking into her life. I love the way she begins most chapters with an anecdote or personal story. I feel a kinship with her. I laugh, I cry, and I feel like she gets me.

How can this be when I have met this lovely woman only once in person? How can I possibly feel like she's written a book entirely for me? I think it's because she has gone beyond the expected and conventional role of the Christian author. Refreshingly, she is more concerned with living a life that honors Christ than she is with procuring a following or selling books. Darlene is easily one of the most gracious people I've ever met. 

Is she perfect? Nope. And she's not afraid to tell you that. So you don't find yourself half-way through reading the book and wanting to throw it across the room, exasperated at yet another marriage book that tells you how the author has it all figured out and you're a mess. (I've been there.)

So, today I am telling you to RUN and order yourself a copy of Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht. This woman is the real deal. She's been there. She's stumbled. She's gotten back up and she's sharing the wisdom she's learned from God throughout her trials. 

You can order the book by clicking HERE

Click HERE to read an interview with Darlene on Deliberate Women.

I was sent an advanced copy of Darlene Schacht's book Messy Beautiful Love in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% genuine and completely my own. 

Here's YOUR chance to win a copy of this amazing book! Enter today for your chance to win! Must be 18 or older to enter. All entrants must reside in the US or Canada only. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, another name will be selected using Rafflecopter. No purchase necessary. Contest ends Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 11:59 P.M. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When The Sin Is Just Too Big To Forgive


It's a weighty topic and can become quite controversial when we get into "degrees" of sin.

Often we can forgive without a second thought when the sin is "minor."

But what about when the sin is really "BIG"? Or what about when it's someone close to you. A friend? Your spouse? A pillar of the church?

Today, I'm over at Ungrind talking about Sin, Restoration and The Church

I hope you'll join me there.
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife-Pre-Order it Now!

3 marriages and 2 divorces have taught me a bunch. Mostly, they've taught me that marriage is hard work

I stumbled upon Darlene Schacht's blog Time-Warp Wife almost 2 years ago. 

I was captivated as I read her testimony. If you have read any of my past book reviews (like The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife) you know that I became enamored with Darlene because her testimony so closely reflected my own. 

I was blown away by how candid she was in talking about her infidelity and the way she and her husband Michael worked together to own and address the weakness in their marriage--and to fall on their knees before God and allow Him to restore it. 

Where Darlene and I wildly diverged was in that last part--falling on our knees and allowing God to restore the marriage. 

Now, almost 10 years into my third marriage, God has been working on both of us to allow Him to be the center of it all. Reading Darlene's books further reinforces that God is and should be the 3rd person in our marriage. 

Her new book Messy Beautiful Love is releasing September 16, 2014, and I am so excited to be a part of the Launch Team! I was drawn in by the title alone. Oh how I am familiar with the Messy part of love, but with God's help and by reading books like Darlene's, I am learning more about the Beautiful part. Darlene continues to drive it home how women need to run after God, and in so doing, we will also be loving and honoring our husbands. She speaks from experience and that translates beautifully.
Now is your opportunity to pre-order her book, and along with it, Thomas Nelson Publishers are including a whole bunch of goodies for you (+$50 in FREEBIES!!)

Once you've placed your order, email By giving them your receipt/order confirmation number along with the number of books you purchased, you qualify for these awesome extras (which will be emailed to you!) It may take a little time to receive your freebies, but rest assured, they will be coming!
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sometimes You Just Celebrate

Sometimes I am drowning in laundry. Like...drowning.

Many days I can't lay anything made of paper on the counters for fear it will stick and be ripped to shreds.

Often I step over errant toys and rogue Legos.

I kid you not...there is usually fur on the fan blades in every room. And mildew in crevices in the bathrooms. And unknown substances that I pretend I don't see.

I always spy things that need done, and often feel like I do nothing.

But yesterday? Yesterday I must have been vicariously nesting for some preggo friends because I was a freak when it came to cleaning. I mean, I scrubbed areas of the bathrooms that I never even knew existed before. 

My tub (which I LOVE to soak in) is actually shining! (Related: I am totally grossed out that I used to soak in it in its previous condition.)

The shower?

Who knew it's actually white and not beige??

The kids' bathroom? That horrid smell I couldn't quite place? Yeah...I placed it. Who knew the trajectory of a little boy's urine can miss the pot completely and instead travel to the left, around the corner and find its way into the tiniest of cracks behind the toilet? That or they are hanging from the ceiling when they pee and now that I think of it, that isn't so far-fetched....

That funky odor that wafted from the fridge every time we opened it, nearly knocking you to your knees? Um, yeah, that would be water that was trapped beneath the crisper drawers. (Did you know that can happen? More importantly, did you know that when that happens, it freezes and smells like you're hiding a dead carcass in there??)

So, on this otherwise ordinary Wednesday I scrubbed and cleaned and wiped until things were sparkly clean. Who cares that it was only 2 rooms and the fridge. I'm celebrating!

So what that you don't have an immaculate home!

Who cares that your living room today looks more like a scene from "Hoarders" than it does a page out of Better Homes & Gardens. 

You wiped down the kitchen table? Own it!

You swept and mopped the floors? You hang a banner and break out the bubbly!

You, like me, braved your Hazmat suit and cleaned areas you will never, ever speak of again? Girl, you go ahead and put up a billboard on Main Street.

I'm cheering you on!

Some days I have it together. In fact, sometimes there are a string of days that I feel like I've got a handle on it. And then other times...I squeal with delight over the tiniest of things:

  • Scraping the nasty, congealed toothpaste off the toothbrush.

  • Wiping down the toilet in the main bathroom (Seriously, were these kids raised by wolves?)

  • Finally wiping the 10,000 hand and nose prints off the patio doors.

  • Getting a shower 2 days in a row.

So today...I am giving you permission, lady, to own it too.

Sure, sure, we all agree that we want bathed kids and clean underwear and a house that doesn't humiliate us when company drops by, but we also realize the reality of the situation is that every day isn't like that. Some days it's all we can do to piece together a meal that passes for healthy and wipe up the 7th glass of spilled milk before it hardens into a smelly, flaky crust and we lose our stuff on the kids, the husband, the dog and random-neighbor-kids-who-don't-live-here-but-it-sure-seems-like-they-do....

But I digress.

My point, friends, and I do have one, is that sometimes we just need to celebrate the little things. 

We won't always have a spotless living room. We won't always prepare a fabulous meal or scrub the floor tile to perfection. Sometimes we won't accomplish a freaking thing in the day. 

But on those days when you feel like you're running in mud, find one thing...just one..and sound the trumpet. Take out an ad in the paper. Call up a friend and brag a little. 

Last night I stepped over clean laundry that still needed put away to soak in that newly, glistening tub. I relished how the flames from the candles flickered off the now-magnificently clean surround. 

Sure, there was plenty that I didn't get done, but I made a point to acknowledge the things that I did

And instead of the usual self-deprecating list of "failures" from my day, I went ahead and gave myself a nod for the things I did well. And today, I woke up a new person. Is it life-changing? I'm not sure. But I do know that I got out of bed this morning ready to see what more I can accomplish.

Try it. 

Feel free to comment with something you got done that you're celebrating today!

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