Craving Community? Me, Too

Disclaimer: I wrote this sometime in the summer of 2015, so if you were at the get togethers mentioned or watched the scope I reference, you know they didn’t take place this summer.

I prayed before I wrote this because I have the tendency to edit as I write. I also chose to write it in a journal before posting it.  Here’s the prayer I wrote out.

Communion and Craving Community

Lord, clear my mind so I can have a conversation with You.  I want to let go of all pretense – to give up on sounding clever or relate-able.  I don’t want community based on smoke and mirrors.  I just want to share my heart.  My naked and broken heart.

I’ve been thinking about friendship and community a lot this year.  Questions like “Why don’t I ever hangout with my closest friends?” and “Why does my community seem to all be virtual?”  dominate my thoughts on the topic. I started to cling to the notion that my life would be so much richer if I got to spend time with my besties or meet up with members of my tribe for coffee.  Okay, not really.  We’d meet up for smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe since God made me naturally caffeinated.  I even half convinced myself that in lieu of getting to meet up with my besties or my tribe that I need to attend a conference or retreat every three months or so.  You know, for spiritual maintenance.  More like a mountain high experience fix.

I was at one such retreat/conference in June when I told Brooke, the woman sitting to my right, “I wish I could have this at home.  I wish I could have this all the time.”  I was referring to the intimacy, transparency, and grace that filled the room.  I went on to tell her that although I get along well with the women of my church, I didn’t have this.  She shared that she could relate.

Full disclosure – Totally unsure of what the Celebrate Motherhood Retreat was going to be like and not knowing anyone in the Happy Mommy Box community, I attended the pre-retreat dinner so I would be acquainted with someone, anyone,  the day of the retreat.  Yep, I drove almost an hour and a half so I would feel more part of the day of the event.  That, and I was hoping to meet Jess Connolly who I’ve been following on Instagram since before she moved back to South Carolina.  It was a little awkward that most everyone was familiar with each other through the Happy Mommy community and I had never even heard of the company before my friend tagged me in a comment for one of their posts.  But by the end of our post-dinner trip to Marble Slab I felt like we’d all been meeting up like this regularly.  And the next day, I totally scoped out the room and looked for someone from the dinner to sit near.

Just a few days after that amazing weekend, I caught Angela and Catherine of REFIT® Revolution on Periscope.  They were in a Chick Fil A line with two of Angela’s daughters in the back seat.  They were just doing life together and invited us to take a peek into that every day experience.  Towards the end of the broadcast Angela said that she doesn’t have friends that she does everything with.  And she was clearly disappointed by that.

So it got me thinking about community again and why I feel like I’m missing something.  Something about friendship and community that holds the key to contentment.  Something I assumed everyone had in their own friendships and communities but I didn’t have.  But the confessions of Brooke and Angela had me rethinking all that.

I don’t blog much (I’m totally tempted to add “anymore” but let’s be honest, I’ve always been a sporadic blogger) but I remember writing something along the lines of “God calls us to be in community.  First with Him and the with others.”  I don’t know,  maybe it’s in one of the many posts sitting in my draft folder.  Anyway, God totally said those exact words back to me and then said “You’re glossing over that first part.  That’s the problem.”  What?  “I spend time with you every day.”  Silence.  “I even took prayer walks after my quiet time for a couple of weeks.”  I felt like a kid trying to convince her parents that she deserved a raise in her allowance because she was doing such an awesome job with her chores.  Ugh.

That’s when the conviction set in.  “That’s hoops and legalism.  I want you.  I want your heart.”  I had to admit that a lot of my quiet time was about studying and not about spending time before a holy God.  I also had to confess that I would often enter my quiet time hoping that God would give me a Tweetable nugget of wisdom or the perfect Instagram quote.

None of that has to do with communing with God.  I’d love to say “I get that now,” but I knew that already.  The thing is my heart is bent towards legalism and works.  I can sit here and blame the denomination I grew up in, but it’s more universal than me or a single denomination.  Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been trying to earn or manipulate our way back into God’s good graces.  To work our way to good enough.

Before I could even try to devise a new and improved approach to quiet time, God whispered softly to me, “You’re looking to community to give you something that only I can give you.”  I can’t quite describe how I felt as that truth sank in, but it was like a mixture of relief and disappointment.  I was grateful to know that there as a reason that although I felt full when I left a retreat or conference that the feeling didn’t last long.  I knew part of the reason was that while a mountain top experience is meant to sustain me through the valleys, I can’t live up there.  Now God was showing me there was more to it than that.

The disappointment crept in when I realized that the solution was to do something I can’t really “do”.  I’m learning that communion with God isn’t’ about doing something, it’s about being something.  Humble.  Surrendered.  Vulnerable.  Willing.  As much as I want to be in the Lord’s presence and hear from Him, all that has me feeling pretty fearful.  And I’ve gotta tell you that my initial reaction isn’t to press into that fear, but to jump online and find a group of women who are in the same boat so we can go through this together.  But I know that isn’t what God is calling me to do.  I also know that He isn’t asking me to walk this out alone, either.

During the spring, on many of my post-quiet time morning walks I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit kept saying “Let’s do this”.  At first I thought He was pumping me up for the walk.  It was before the time change and it was scary dark out still, so I totally appreciated the motivation.  But as the weeks passed and He kept saying it I saw that it was more than a motivation to walk.  It was an invitation.  An invitation to what exactly, I’m not sure.  But I’m certain that God knows my heart.  He knows how I earnestly long to be in community with Him and others.  I trust that whatever “this” is that He’s inviting me to do with Him will equip me live the life He calls me to live.

Comfortable With The Uncomfortable

I wrote this a few months ago.  I never did feel led to put in a photo.  Instead I went with a verse.  I’m not sure why God asked me to share this, but I trust that it will resonate with someone out there.

No graphics or photos for this post.  I don’t know, maybe as I go through my day God will give me a visual to share.  But right now, right this moment He’s telling me to just share my heart.

Yesterday a dear sister in Christ texted me a link to a video from the Leading and Loving It #JustONE2016 virtual conference.  I’m not sure what day it was from, but it was good. Like brush off the dust of complacency and do some work for the kingdom, good.  Work I have been too _______ (fill in the blank – tired, busy, lazy) to do.  I’m not talking projects here, either.  I’m talking about the work of boldly living out my faith.  Declaring His truth whenever and wherever I feel His Spirit leading me to.

Here are some of the notes I jotted down, and you can watch the video here for yourself.

  1. Get going – say YES to God without knowing the details, especially the outcome.  Move when He says to and move with urgency.
  2. Get strategic – be aware, be intentional, and be sensitive.  Pay attention to people’s details.
  3. Get uncomfortable – God calls me to serve and wash feet.

After watching that video I decided to sign up for the conference – funny, I thought I already had signed up but I guess that was last year – and watch all of the videos.  They’re sent directly to my inbox so there’s no extra clicking on my part.  The Day 1 video arrived this morning and I couldn’t really relate it to my current season of life.  Lori Wilhite talks about God trading our junk for joy, our hurt for healing, and our pain for purpose.  Believe me, I’ve had plenty of junk, hurt, and pain.  Enough to last a lifetime.  But as of this morning I had no current junk, hurt, or pain to reflect on.  {Or so I thought} I still looked up Isaiah 60:17, the verse she was focusing on, and took notes.  I even added personal reflections to each of her three points.

I could feel God stirring something up within me, and knew He was telling me it was time to dig deeper.  Back in early January I signed up for my second ‪#‎cleanhearting‬ challenge to support the amazing ministry of Revelation Wellness. I wasn’t planning on going through the challenge again. I figured I’d watch Alisa Keeton on Periscope when I could or pull up a scope on Katch.

But I started experiencing heartburn a couple of weeks ago and it hasn’t let up. Heartburn is only something I dealt with during pregnancy. And before you ask, no, I am not pregnant. At first I was in denial, blaming the one meal that might have triggered it. But then I got still and quiet long enough (after several days of refusing to listen to my body) to see that the discomfort is God lovingly nudging me.  Nudging me to look at my habits and idols.

So when I had finished watching the Day 1 #JustONE2016 video, I decided to read the Day 1 email for he Clean Hearting Challenge to do just that.  To identify and confront the idols and habits that are keeping me from doing the kingdom building work God is calling me to do.  Day 1 seemed easy enough – looking at the root of our desire to live clean, a desire God created us to have because we were made in His image and He is clean and blameless.  Looking at Alisa’s very simple and straight forward definition of clean eating – avoid refined and processed foods and eat real food – was just the “Dude, I can do this” moment I needed.

And the let’s do this attitude wasn’t just about the eating either – and that’s the whole point behind the Clean Hearting Challenge, by the way, to pull off the blinders and see that it’s all about the condition of our hearts.  It’s about treating myself better by eating life giving foods more often than fake foods, by getting more sleep, and by moving more.  And moms out there, please hear me when I say that none of those goals are selfish.   When I take better care of myself, I am better able to love the people God calls me to serve and love.  And so are you.

The notion of loving people better got me thinking about February being the perfect month to practice being more intentional in my marriage.  So I took The Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your man on Purpose and with a Plan off a shelf and started reading it.  But right when I was getting to the “meat” of the first chapter it was time to get the boys ready for church.

Just a typical Sunday morning.  Until it wasn’t.  I got the twins dressed and fed.  They were happily playing with our oldest until I had to go upstairs and get dressed and my husband out of bed.  As I was getting ready he told me that he decided to sleep in and not to come to church.  I was fine with that since he doesn’t sleep in very often.  But a small disagreement with our oldest turned into something much bigger not only between the two of us but also between me and my husband.  Before I knew it voices were raised and doors were slammed.  And to top it all off one of the twins was refusing to get buckled into his car seat.  I wanted to cry.  And I did.

In spite of my feelings and the tears streaming down my face I went to church. Well, not exactly.  The truth is I no longer wanted to go to church.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I just knew I didn’t want to go.  I almost marched everyone out of the minivan and back into the house, but I inadvertently locked the basement door when I slammed it and didn’t have a key to get back in.

So I drove us to church and apologized to my oldest on the way.  I apologized for my tone and for slamming the car and house doors.  He accepted my apology, because that’s what we do in our house.  We humble ourselves to apologize, and we humble ourselves to forgive.

As soon as our junior pastor started preaching I knew that God meant for me to experience what I did this morning so I could really listen to his message.  Not just hear it, but listen to it.  His message was anchored in Job. It was such an encouragement from my Daddy. It was a reminder that when I make a kingdom declaration – like I did today saying that I was ready to do kingdom building work – that I will be met with opposition. I just forgot how quickly it can happen.

Today I spent some intentional time with God, and shortly thereafter the enemy came at me.  Hard. He attacked my marriage and my motherhood. I wanted to throw up my hands and throw in the towel. But as a daughter of the King of kings I must remember that I am not called to do the easy things. I am not called to be comfortable. I am called to roll up my sleeves and wield the Sword of the Spirit and fight, for the victory has already been won.

Six Ways to Approach Your Nutrition Differently This Year

January
Svetan Prints

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  I haven’t been one for quite some time.  I used to make them and would feel charged up just thinking about all the opportunities a new year held.  But it never took long for the new car smell of it all to fade and I’d lose interest in my resolution and the possibilities.

An old friend reached out to me the other day on Facebook to ask about protein and meal replacement shakes.  Although she never said the words “New Year’s resolution” I had a feeling that she was looking to start her new year differently than she has before.  So rather than doing the whole online back and forth I called her up.

It wasn’t that my friend didn’t know anything about health and wellness.  Quite the opposite.  She was overwhelmed by all of her choices and just didn’t know where to start.  Especially where nutrition is concened.  So here are my top tips for approaching nutrition differently this year.

#1 Be Mindful

The first thing I recommend to people is to simply be more mindful when it comes to their intake.  There are food journals, daily planners that include space for food stats, fitness journals, and of course in this day and age you know there are apps for that.  Just recently I joined my friend Bobbi for her Holiday Shred and I found that even though I wasn’t tracking my nutritional stats I was able to lose five pounds.  Mind you, my goal wasn’t to lose weight, but to maintain it over the holidays.  I planned to do that by making dinner at least three times a week and by limiting treats to three times a week.  Each Saturday when we checked in I was surprised to find that I either maintained or lost weight.  It was such a blessing because I finally realized that obsessively tracking every micro and macro simply isn’t necessary. {If you are training for an event or entering a competition, these tips aren’t for you so stop shaking your head ;-)}

#2 Baby Steps, Baby Steps

We just watched “What About Bob” last night and I couldn’t resist using that line as a heading.  Wanna make keeping track of your body’s reaction to your new way of eating easier?  Make one small change at a time.  Think “going Paleo” or primal sounds good?  Or maybe that clean eating is the answer to all your problems? {It’s not by the way, but more on that later}  Start small by eating more God food – fruits and veggies.  Then reduce your intake of man food – stuff that comes in a box or through a window.  And even then just focus on one or two things.  Last January I stopped eating fried foods for the month.  Not forever, just a month.  I wasn’t trying to set myself up for failure.  I do live in the South, after all.  Now, when I choose to eat fried foods I’m able to listen to my body and put down the last bite before it does me in.

#3 Grace Trumps Legalism

Why didn’t I give up fried foods forever?  Because although there is a lot of sound diet advice out there, I do not like the “eat this and not that” school of thought. It can get pretty legalistic pretty fast and turn into “eat this and only this and never ever eat that”.  God intended food to give life through its nutrients and for it to add to the enjoyment of our lives by the sheer yumminess of it.  Besides, legalism = feelings of deprivation and no one sticks with feeling deprived for long.  In fact, when people feel deprived they tend to swing the pendulum back in the other direction and binge.  Big time.  No? Just me?

Fruits and Veggies

#4 A Clean Heart Is Better Than A Clean Diet

Speaking of grace, before I got off the phone with my friend I told her about Revelation Wellness and their next Clean Hearting Challenge.  Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, this challenge can be a real game changer.  I participated in it last September and it really helped me strengthen the spirit link of the mind, body, spirit wholeness approach to health and healing.  The next challenge starts tomorrow so you still have time to sign up before the midnight deadline!

 

#5 Shakes, Smoothies, and Juices – Oh My!

While I love shakes and smoothies, I do not recommend using them as meal replacements.  Even if their ingredient list is full of real food and all the nutrients you need in one day.  Nothing beats eating real food so start there.  Once upon a time I just couldn’t seem to eat breakfast on a consistent basis.  So I first started drinking shakes as my breakfast, not to replace the meal, but to form the habit of having it every day.  Then, as I started teaching more group fitness classes I started eating a meal for breakfast and my daily shake as my “second breakfast”  {not third or fourth, people – I’m not a hobbit people}  Because I eat my breakfast so early in the morning I’m super hungry once nine o’clock rolls around.  A shake makes a great second breakfast.  It also makes a great afternoon snack or after dinner dessert.

I was so ready to join the juicing movement after I finished watching “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” but didn’t feel worthy since I didn’t own a super cool blender.  {What’s up Vitamix and Blendtec owners?} Besides, it seemed like a waste of money because I never used all the fruits and veggies I bought.  Although I still don’t have a super high tech blender, I have found the perfect solution to the wasting fruits and veggies problem.  Green Blender ships you enough ingredients to make ten juices/smoothies from the five recipes they include.  No waste.  None.  I’ll be writing up a formal review later in the week, but no need to wait to use the code they shared with me.  Just hop on over and enter “reina” when you check out.

#6 Fearfully And Wonderfully Made

I know that starting to eat better, or returning to eating healthier can be overwhelming.  Even when someone gives you “easy to follow tips” like I tried to offer in this post.  So I’ll leave you with this – you are perfectly imperfect, just the way God made you.  I pray that as we journey to better health and greater wholeness that we invest in our bodies as vessels for His service.  That we see our bodies as they are – fearfully and wonderfully made – and not fixer upper projects.  Amen?

My Abundant Life: Celebrating Ten Years of Freedom

In November of 2005 I took the first step on a scary but necessary journey to “find myself”.  I just giggled as I wrote that sentence because how cliche is that?  But I guess it wasn’t entirely cliche, since I usually think of early 20-somethings setting out on such journeys and I was nearing my 30’s but still knew very little about myself.  I mean I knew facts about myself, but I had no real sense of who I was.  The core of my personality, my likes and dislikes – even my goals in life – hinged on who I was with.  I was a chameleon who didn’t know my own true colors.

By the time December 31st of 2005 rolled around I was almost ready to take the next big step in my journey, which was to own up to the fact that I didn’t know what was best for me.  As humbling as it was, the admission only made sense since I didn’t really know who I was. How could I possibly make wise decisions for myself?  But it wasn’t until January 2, 2006 that I was ready to make this admission to anyone else.

The funny thing is, is that even then I was in no way ready to admit how lost I was – how desperate I was for God.  But God is patient and I am so grateful that His timing is perfect.  He let me experience exactly what I needed in order for me to get to a place where I would not only recognize my spiritual bankruptcy for what it was, but where I could be humbled enough to cry out to Him.

On this day, January 2nd, I celebrate the ten years I’ve been on this journey with God.  The coolest part of my journey with Him may be that as I look back I can clearly see that He was walking with me long before I agreed to walk with Him.  And I’m not just talking about the five months between January 2nd when I admitted I didn’t have it all together and the afternoon in May when I asked Him to be Lord of my life.  I can look back over my life and see how He gently pursued me until I was ready to give Him all of me – my shame, my guilt, my fear, my insecurities, my hopes, my dreams, my identity.

Over the last ten years He has guided me through a series of surrenders – some deeper than others, but all helping me to see Him for who He is.  And in turn, who I am in Him.  I share all this to encourage you wherever you may be on your journey with God.  He is just and He is merciful.  He will pursue you until you are ready to accept His grace and love.  And once you have surrendered your all to Him, He will not leave you but continue to walk with you.

Journey With God

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Dueteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

Things to Try in 2016

Looking Forward to 2016

If you’re anything like me your email inbox has been clogged with “How to make 2016 your best year ever!” subject lines.  Maybe it’s because I follow a lot of fitness and mommy accounts but my Instagram feed is overflowing with invitations to join the next challenge group that will blast away my excuses and extra pounds.  This post makes no such promises.  Nope.  I will not be promising that you’ll have a perfectly manicured life if you sign up for any of these services or buy any of these products.  These are just some things I’ve read/done/eaten/tried this year and enjoyed (or plan to read/do/eat/try this coming year) that I wanted to share with you.

One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. I shared about my One Word experiences last year and I can’t recommend going through the process enough.  You can get a copy of the book here and if you’re not into pen and paper like I am you can purchase the Kindle version.  It’s a super short read but worth the purchase price regardless of the format you decide to get.  My word for 2016 is abide.  I know it’s the perfect word for this year because I’ll be working on a pretty big God assignment and I’ll need to stay focused on the One who gave the assignment rather than all the directions I can run with it.

Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  I started several book this year, but I read this one all the way through so that’s saying a lot.  She mixes biblical principles, real life tips, humor, and humility so effortlessly I felt like we were just chatting over coffee.  Well, she would be drinking coffee but I’d be drinking tea because I can’t stand coffee.  We did in fact chat via Tweets as I was reading the book which was quite fun.  I couldn’t help but jump on Twitter as I was reading because there were so many moments of “Oh, that’s so true!” and “That’s so simple it’s brilliant!” that I wanted to share.  The book releases January 26th but you can pre-order a copy here. {I just read in the launch group that there will be pre-order goodies to be had, but I don’t have the details, yet.  I’ll post an update here as soon as I get them.}

Grokker is an awesome streaming service that provides everything from cooking lessons to workout sessions – including yoga.  You can stream on your mobile device or television via Chrome Cast (which is what I’ll be using), Apple TV, or HDMI cables. I learned about the service through FitFluential and recommend you visit their site if you plan to research all things health and fitness.  What I’m most looking forward to with using Grokker?  The FREE access to the Grokker experts.  I will be starting my free trial this weekend.  You can get yours here.

Green Blender is another health service I learned about thanks to FitFluential.  Each week 5 recipes along with the pre-proportioned ingredients are delivered straight to your house.  It’s enough to make 10 smoothies – two 12 oz smoothies per recipe.  You can share one or drink a big 24 oz smoothie.  I geeked out when I first learned about this service because back in September I stopped ordering a particular super smoothie and I’m down to my last full bag.  I was starting to research other protein options but not seriously trying anything because the choices can be a little overwhelming.  I was planning on using some of my Christmas money to try the service but this morning I got an email saying that as a FitFluential ambassador I was selected to get my first shipment free.  Woo-woot!  I even got this cool unique url for you to use in order to sign up.  They run cool analytics to see how many people sign up using the link.  I think.  Because they also gave me a code to give you – reina.  I know you use the code, just not totally sure about the link.  Can you tell I’m new to this?  My first box will arrive the week of January 7th and I’ll have a blog post dedicated to my thoughts on the 5 smoothie recipes up by the 15th.

Revelation Wellness Instructor Training I will be completing a process I started back in August of 2013.  I finished all the online training and attended all of the phone based chats but was not able to attend the instructor retreat.  I was pregnant with our twins and couldn’t afford to give up five days of leave.  I needed every day to go towards maternity leave.  Two years later I have some leave saved up and the boys – all of them including my husband – can survive me being gone for a week.  I’m actually not so sure about that so I’ll probably be asking my parents to come out from California and help out.  If you have ever felt God leading you in the direction of faith then fitness, you should definitely check out Revelation Wellness.  If not as an instructor, then at least check out their Periscope account and their YouTube channel.

So, these are the things that have me looking forward to 2016.  What about you?  What do you want to try out in 2016?

Trust But Verify

God has been giving me some very uncomfortable assignments lately, and this post is one of them.  I trust that obedience is better than sacrifice.

The Pope’s recent visit to the States got me thinking about my own journey with God and organized religion.  {I was really tempted to make a Grateful Dead reference but thought better of it}

I left the church when I was very young.  I held a lot of resentment against God.  At least I thought my anger, frustration, and disappointment had to do with God.  It turns out that all of the things I didn’t like about church were things that weren’t in God’s Word.  Well, some of them were, but they were antiquated practices that we could let go of because we were under the new covenant.  Again, I did not learn this until I was much older.  After I had stopped running from God and was simply too tired to be mad at Him anymore.

I share all this because God put it on my heart to do so.  To say that it’s great that the Pope’s visit stirred up some feels in lots of people.  And to say, be aware of the feels.  If someone, anyone, says something that stirs up feelings of shame, guilt, or condemnation, check what they said against the Word of God.  If His Word supports what they said, that’s called conviction.  If it isn’t, that’s from the enemy.

And on the flipside of that, if someone says something that stirs up feelings of “I can do whatever I want”, check what they said against the Word of God.  If His Word supports what they said, walk in that freedom.  If it doesn’t, be wary of the enemy luring you into sin like the pied piper.

Trust, but verify

Remember, God is the ultimate authority in our lives.

Wicked Women Of The Bible

I would like to thank Family Christian for sending me an advance copy of this book  in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.  “Wicked Women of the Bible” is available for pre-order now at Family Christian and will be available in stores on September 22nd.

Wicked Women of the Bible

I was instantly intrigued when I read the title of this book.  I’ve always wanted to know more about women like Jezebel and Delilah.  I was so excited when I go the book that book I opened it to a random chapter, “A Wicked Woman of the Night: The Story of Rahab”, and started reading.  I was not entirely surprised to see that Rahab had made her way into the book.  She was an innkeeper and as such it’s presumed that she ran a brothel and perhaps was a prostitute herself.  So how did a woman of the night make her way into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)?  Because she chose to help Jewish spies and trust that their God would spare her and her family.  I enjoyed the way in which author Ann Spangler shared Rahab’s story so much that I kept reading.  I was much more surprised to see that Deborah was the protagonist of the next chapter.  How is it that a judge, prophetess, and mighty warrior made her way into a book about wicked women?

A little bewildered, I decided to flip to the beginning of the book and read the introduction. Within the pages of the intro she shares that wanted to keep with the oral tradition of the Bible and do her “best to reimagine the stories of some of the Bible’s most fascinating women in order to bring them to life for contemporary readers”.  In my opinion, she nailed it.  She doesn’t contradict or stray from the Bible like so many biblically inspired movies do.  She fleshes out each of the women in such a way that I can identify with all of them, even the “wicked bad” women.  Through her writing style, be it in the main story or in the Takeaway section that follows, she prompts me to wonder about their insecurities and fears.  I start to question their motives and wonder how their story would have turned out if they allowed God to lead them.  As for women such as Deborah and Esther, they were included in the book because Spangler’s “aim has not been simply to highlight the stories of some of the Bible’s worst women but also to explore the stories of those who might be considered ‘wicked good’ or ‘wicked smart’.”

The timing of receiving this advanced copy could not have been more perfect.  For the past several months I’ve been feeling underqualified, not good enough to do the work I feel God is calling me to do.  Reading the stories within “Wicked Women of the Bible” has reminded me not only of God’s character, but that He can use anyone in His story.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the women of the Bible, or wondered how God could use someone like you, this book is for you.

I just read this on the “Wicked Women of the Bible” site: Pre-order Wicked Women of the Bible before September 22, 2015 and receive a free copy of Wicked Men of the Bible. This 40-page ebook includes the stories of Cain and Jonah. Simply email a copy of your receipt to admin@annspangler.com. Once we receive your email, we’ll email you back the PDF of Wicked Men of the Bible and you can begin your wicked study right away!

10/06 Update: I am attempting to offer the first giveaway on this blog using an autogenerated giveaway widget.  I’m hoping it works.

Well, from what I can tell you need to click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

10/12 Update: The giveaway is closed and the winner is Helene!