A reminder for when it’s all too much.

In the face of suffering, I often crumble. Empty & helpless, I put my hands in my pockets & look the other way. But, NO MORE. THIS truth changes everything. Don't miss this short post packed with comfort and inspiration.In the past two weeks, I’ve read two stories of tragic loss & suffering – one in my own city, and one a world away – and I’ve all but shut them out of my mind just to preserve my sanity.

I’m not proud to admit this.

Just READING about the suffering in the world threatens to take. me. out. It rocks me to the core. Because, how? How can such loss and heartbreak and destruction – and the evil and depravity that often inflicts it – exist in the world? How can God possibly allow it and how can anyone possibly survive this?

And I feel empty. I feel as though I am not enough, I am not up for this – even though my “this” is simply READING a blog post about incomprehensible atrocities or a news report about a local family’s unimaginable loss. I cannot even endure a blog post without crumbling!? I become paralyzed, feeling empty and helpless. My footing gets shaky and my hope gets shifty.



Disarmed by my discouragement, I put my hands in my pockets and look the other way, convinced I don’t have what it takes to even READ about suffering, let alone DO anything to help.

But that’s a LIE. A lie I can’t afford to believe anymore. A lie sent to steal and kill and destroy me and the good I’m here to do.



God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

God is within me. And God is with me. So when I feel my footing shake, my hope shift — I must turn my eyes to Him. He who is steady and unshakeable. And from that steady, unshakeable place, reach out my trembling hands to help.

God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5
Click image to open free printable file.

What laundry taught me about prayer.

I’ve been studying the life of David. I’ve always been comforted by his Psalms because he’s kind of all over the place – which describes me most of the time. He’s up, he’s down, he’s everywhere in between. He feels all the feelings. And he feels them deeply. Like, “Go Big or Go Home: Feelings Edition.”

Thanks to many a good teacher and preacher, I know to let FACTS and FAITH take the lead in my life – NOT my feelings. Feelings are fleeting – we know this. Facts are solid. When placed in a strong God, faith is sturdy. But feelings? Lord, have mercy.

So, back to David. I’m working through a study by Beth Moore (which I highly recommend – you can check it out here). This morning, I read Psalm 142, which David penned while hiding in a cave, fearing for his life. He cried out to God and poured out his heart – the whole mess of it. In the commentary, Beth made a life-changing observation:

[David’s] feelings were not an accurate assessment of the truth, but they were worthy to share with God. Feelings can be a little like our laundry. Sometimes we can’t sort them until we dump them on the table. – Beth Moore, David: Seeking a Heart Like His, p. 62

What can LAUNDRY teach us about PRAYER? You may be surprised. And relieved! (I was.) Of all the laundry tips and tricks, this is the first to impact my life OUTSIDE the laundry room! You don’t want to miss it.Really, you guys – how often do I search through a basket of laundry, looking for the right things, all while trying to keep the entire pile confined to the container? (The answer is: VERY OFTEN.) I’m searching and sorting, but my effort is severely crippled by my attempts to keep anything from spilling out the sides.

If I just dump it all out on the bed, I can quickly sort through and find what I’m looking for – or even FIGURE OUT WHAT I’m looking for.

Why the insistence on keeping it all jammed in the basket?

God is not concerned about me spilling out the sides. Not when I’m with Him.

He’s big enough. I’m not too much for Him.

Do you know you’re not too much for Him?

I don’t need to sort it all out first. I don’t need to sort ANY of it out first. My prayers don’t even have to make sense. What I feel doesn’t have to be an accurate reflection of my situation. It doesn’t have to be “right.” It can just BE WHAT IT IS.

I truly can come to Him JUST AS I AM.

And in coming to Him, some things come undone. Some things tie together. Some things break apart. Break down. Break open. Some things make more sense. Some, less.

But in the sorting, sifting, breaking, healing, I’m in His presence. And THAT makes all the difference.

Apart from Him, I worry, stew, spiral, and fixate until I don’t know which way is up.

He is my anchor. He is my steady ground. And He is not shaken by me – my complaints, confusion, wondering, and wandering.

So bring it all to Him. The glorious you AND the gross you. The pretty you, the pathetic you.  Courageous you, confused you.

Bring all of you.

Pour yourself out to Him in prayer.

And be revived as He pours Himself into you.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5

Throwback Thursday: Comparison is a B*tch

In honor of our neighborhood pool opening this weekend, I am reading (preaching) this post to myself over and over. And over. And. Over.

Originally published March 26, 2014.

We talk a lot about comparing ourselves with others. But what about when I compare myself to... myself? I used to look like… I used to be able to… This is a must-read-NOW for any woman in any season of life.

I reallyreallyreally tried to make myself title this, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why? Because it’s true and I love that quote. (Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt.)

But unfortunately, that sounds way holier than how I feel about it today.

We talk a lot about comparing ourselves to others. But what about when I compare myself to MYSELF? I used to look like… I used to be able to… This is a must-read-NOW for any woman in any season of life.Yes, comparison IS the thief of joy. And because she steals my joy (and yours), she is also a bitch. And I’m fed up.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve managed to run several times and even endured some excruciating classes at the Y. This is great improvement over the weeks (months!) prior – and still, I feel dissatisfied.

After a brutal 4-miler Monday, I complained to my friend Amy, “I am so out of shape.” Her response: “Out of marathon shape? Or out of shape? Because those are two very different things.”

Hm. Good point. So good that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The truth is, I’ve been beating myself up because “I’m in horrible shape” – in horrible shape compared to myself last August, when I ran a marathon. But, if I stop comparing myself to what I could do at the peak of marathon training, and look at myself in light of where I am right now, maybe I could stop feeling like a complete failure.

I could probably write for days about comparing myself with others. But what about comparing myself to… myself? Myself in another age or season of life? The most obvious may be comparing my 35-year-old body to my 17-year-old body. That’s so unfair. I used to look like… I used to be able to…

Maybe it’s comparing my current spiritual life to that one year in college when I went on two mission trips & spent 3 hours a day reading and journaling. Never mind that I didn’t have anyone to take care of except myself. I used to I used to I used to…

My pastor has often said, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is so true – and I would venture to add that I struggle with defeat because I compare my current behind-the-scenes with my own highlight reel.

It’s defeating because, “I did XYZ then; what’s wrong with me now?” But that doesn’t take everything into account, does it? I selectively choose the highlights from past seasons of life, and rather than just recalling them as fond memories, I idolize them as a standard I may not be able or even supposed to grasp in this season.

If I keep succumbing to the “grass is greener” syndrome, I’m going to wish away my current season – the NOW ME – perpetually discontent, as my present reality never measures up to the highlights of my past. The THEN ME had problems of her own. She would punch me in the face if she knew I was holding her up as the standard for myself now.

I’m tired of being so mean to myself. I’m tired of not measuring up. If I choose to run, let it be because I love to run, not because I’m chasing something I had before. When I pursue fitness, spiritual disciplines, whatever – let it be because it’s good for me now, not because I’m striving for a past idealized version of myself.

What am I doing today? What is the best version of me TODAY?

What is it for you?

Adventures With Sunless Tanner: A(nother) Cautionary Tale

Looking forward to summer fun, I bought 3 bottles of sunless tanner last week. If summer, self tanner - or funny fails - are your thing, you want to read this right now. Spoiler alert: don’t come to me for your sunless tanning tips.I have a complicated history with at-home beauty treatments. So, naturally, I decided to buy 3 bottles of sunless tanner last week. (It was buy 2, get 1 free. How could I not?)

Application #1: I’m a bit tentative. I exfoliate. I moisturize my knees, elbows, and ankles. Then, just a bit of self-tanner on the arms, a smidge on the legs. It’s clear I’ve learned my lesson about aggressive product application. (You probably want to read about that here.)

Unfortunately, my extreme caution results in… not much of anything. So, I proceed with what I deem the next appropriate step:

Re-apply With Reckless Abandon.

I use approximately half the bottle, “just to see what this stuff can really do.”

Well, “what this stuff can really do” is quite remarkable.

I admire my ravishing reflection for a few moments, quite pleased with my sun-kissed self. Waiting for the lotion to dry, I peruse the back of the bottle.

“This luxurious sunless tanning lotion is a real treasure that will give you a perfect tan…” Don’t I know it! I look amazing.

“Apply a rich moisturizer to elbows, knees, and ankles to keep these areas from getting too dark.” I TOTALLY DID THAT. Holy crap, I’m like a professional self-tanner.

“Your tan will achieve its maximum darkness in 4 hours.” This color is perf – wait, what? Maximum darkness in what? Um… 

It’s already 8:30 pm, and there’s no way I’m staying awake for 4 more hours. (Who am I kidding – I’m lucky if I’m awake 30 more minutes.) Looks like somebody’s waking up a SUN GODDESSSSS.

The next morning. You guys.


If that beach was in Florida.

And while in Florida I went to an orange grove and rubbed them all over my body.

So that I would look tan. But also kind of orange.


I am shimmering.

Like. a. unicorn.



So really, the moral of the story is: beauty products hate me All Things in Moderation. Also, don’t come to me for your sunless tanning tips.

Your turn – spill it. What are your worst (best?) beauty product fails? I promise it feels good to let it out. Seriously. Go.

I’m going to a conference. And I’m wearing my pajamas.

How great would it be to experience the awesome teaching, encouragement, and inspiration of a women’s conference – but without having to pack a bag, shell out a load of cash for a hotel, and arrange to be gone for multiple days and nights? Don’t get me wrong – I love me a girls’ weekend. But sometimes the effort required to get away can make it nearly impossible to pull off.

I’ve got a great alternative for you: the Wisdom for Wives online conference. It’s coming up SOON! May 12-14, 2015, to be exact. And can I tell you something more amazing? When you register to “attend” (And by “attend,” I mean “watch the conference on your computer. In your pajamas.”), you then have access to RE-WATCH any of the sessions for a FULL YEAR. Are the live dates not going to work for you? Access the sessions during the kids’ naps and spread it over several days at your own pace.

You guys, this is my kind of conference. (They had me at pajamas.)

Session topics include:

  • The Secret to a Thriving Marriage
  • A Kind Wife
  • 5 Steps to Improving Sexual Intimacy
  • To the Wife Who Is Ready to Run
  • Praying Over Your Husband
  • When Porn Shows up in Your House
  • Nurturing Your Marriage in the Middle of the Storm
  • Keeping the Spark Alive with Young Children
  • Choosing Him All Over Again: 11 Checkpoints to Refresh Your Marriage
  • How to Rein in Your Emotions So You Don’t Tear Down Your Home

… and more!

Click the image below to check out more details and register today!

Do you want a better marriage? Join us for the Wisdom for Wives online conference, May 12-14, 2015!


One key truth you probably have backward. (I did.)

Do you feel like you're supposed to do something, but you're not sure you can? Or that you even want to? Find inspiration in one key truth that could change everything.If avoidance was a sport, I’d be World Champion. Until today, I have avoided writing for over a month. It’s basically been a full-on commitment to NOT DO something I’m called to do. And, why?

Because writing feels like it will require more than I have to give.

It’s the same reason I hid from my neighbor for almost a year. (Yes, I did that.) I convinced myself she would require more than I had to give. So I avoided her. And then I felt guilty and avoided her even more out of shame. (You probably want to read how that turned out here.)

What if it DOES require more than I have to give? (Whatever “it” is at the moment.) If I walk in obedience, I WILL face things that require more than I have to give. Why do I think that’s the worst thing ever?

Those situations are the perfect setup for God to do what only He can do.

Do I really want to live a life that’s only as big as me?

Or am I willing to jump in, gingerly or boldly – who really cares – and engage in something or with someone that I realize PROBABLY WILL require more than I have to give?

The Bible says I can do all things – I can bear, I can endure, all things – through Jesus, who gives me strength. If I evaluate a situation, a relationship, a mission, based solely on MY strength, I don’t see the whole picture. The strength that comes from Jesus is foundational to the work entrusted to me on this earth.

Okay, so we’ve covered the CAN DO. But what about the WANT TO?

I may believe I CAN write, but I don’t FEEL INSPIRED. Writing – or anything, really – is beautiful when you FEEL INSPIRED, when you WANT TO DO IT. When you possess both the “CAN DO” and the “WANT TO.”  The problem is, in my experience, I rarely feel inspired until I’m ALREADY WRITING. I must show up to the page, even uninspired and empty – but WILLING – and somehow, the emptiness fills and overflows into words.

A verse comes to mind. Here’s the way I memorized it years ago:

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. – Philemon 6, (NIV ©1984)

The more recent NIV reads:

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. – Philemon 6, (NIV ©2011)

In both versions, the principle is the same: the deeper understanding comes THROUGH the sharing, THROUGH the partnership, THROUGH the doing.

But we flip it, don’t we? We tell ourselves we need a full understanding of Jesus before we talk about Him, a deeper understanding of our faith before we share it. Or we don’t serve, share, or speak up until we FEEL INSPIRED.

What if we realized we have it backward?

What if we understood the deeper knowing, the inspired feeling – THE CAN DO AND THE WANT TO – comes THROUGH the doing? Rarely before.

Sisters, I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith – especially in your doubts and your mess – so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Artists, I pray that you will be active in your craft – especially in your least creative season – so that you may become inspired.

Ladies, I pray that you will be active in sharing life with your neighbor – especially when you’re terrified or, quite frankly, not interested – so that you may be filled with appreciation and affection for her.

But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

What has God called you to that you’ve procrastinated over, avoided, shied away from?  It’s not too late. If He called you to it, He’s already there. Will you show up?

How to be Brave

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell the disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.”… So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell the disciples. Matthew 28:6-8, emphasis mine

Fear does not disqualify me.

And the absence of fear doesn’t make me brave.

Jesus makes me brave.

Jesus offers joy. And JOY TRUMPS FEAR.

Jesus doesn’t always eliminate my fear. But He’s stronger than fear.

There is good for you to do in the world, to bring to the world. Will you be brave?Oh, He is stronger. Oh, that I would remember.




Remember I love you.

Remember I made you.

Remember I know what I’m doing. I don’t make mistakes.

And I Am trustworthy.

Remember I have given you a gift. It is not just for you. It IS FOR YOU. But not JUST for you. There is good for you to do in the world, to bring to the world.

Remember you love to __________________________________.

You love __________________________________.

Remember you love Me and you have heard My voice. You know My voice. You recognize My presence – even though you sometimes ignore Me.

Remember you’ve been entrusted.

Remember I never called you to do any of this apart from Me. You were never expected or intended to do this on your own.


Remember, not how to be brave. But Who makes you brave.


Prayer (and a free printable!)

The other night, a friend mentioned these words from Oswald Chambers, and they’ve followed me around the past few days.  I’ll be printing this and putting it somewhere to remind me that in all I do – and hope to do –  prayer is more than an afterthought, a last resort, or even a preparatory step. Prayer is CENTRAL. Prayer is CRUCIAL. Prayer MATTERS.

Prayer IS the greater work! Free printable of a powerful quote from Oswald Chambers.
Click image for free PDF download.


Flashback Friday: The Wisest Words I Received as a New Mom (and as a human in general)

I wrote this post a year ago about something I learned when I was a new mom – and it’s as freeing to me today as it was then. Buckle up, friends. It might be hard to hear – but I think you’ll be glad you did.

Originally published March 17, 2014.

I received the wisest advice as a new mom - & it's as freeing for me today as it was then. Buckle up. It might be hard to hear - but you'll be glad you did.Confession time.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, ladies. I’ve said, “My kids are SO HARD right now,” more times than I can count. I walk around at a constant 8 or 9 on the “had it up to here” scale. (So, I boil past 10 over nearly EVERYTHING.) My breathing is a fancy blend of dramatic sighs, huffs & puffs.

I’m tired of the fussing, the complaining, the arguing, the why Mom? Can I Mommy? Mom I need, Mom I want, MommywhyMomcanIpleaseprettypleasebutwhynotMomMommyMomMomMommyyyyyyAHHHHHHH.

I’m weary. I’m angry. I’m over it.

Are my kids really being that much more irritating? Or am I just that much more irritable? I don’t know the answer. Maybe both. But something has to change.

Now this just popped into my head:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

There’s that blessed verse again. And by “blessed,” I mean I really want to cuss, but that feels especially inappropriate in reference to the Bible. But seriously, didn’t I ask for a re-do on that the first time around? Now here it’s popping back in for an encore.

I know God is showing me something. But I don’t really like it. Here’s the thing: Sometimes I say my KIDS are so hard when in reality, I AM THE ONE STRUGGLING.

What’s the difference? And does it really matter?

In one scenario, the unrest in our home is all my kids’ doing – not mine – which may sound like a relief. But in reality, it sucks, because what can I do except grieve the fact that I have really difficult children and a perpetually stressful home?

When we brought our firstborn home, I had a really hard time. This newborn gig was WAY harder than I expected, so my first conclusion was that my baby was a Really Hard Baby.

By the time Owen was 5 weeks old, I was in a pretty desperate state. A dear friend stepped into my misery and spoke some unexpected words:

“Amanda,” she said. “Owen is not easy. No first-born baby is easy for a first-time mom. But he’s not BAD. He’s a BABY. It seems to me that you are struggling.”

Her words weren’t harsh. They were tender and kind.

And true.

I was struggling. AND THAT WAS OKAY. And it was a very important distinction from “My baby is just so hard.”

Sometimes, I wonder if we call our kids hard – or spouse or friend or boss or co-worker – when really the situation or relationship is hard because WE are struggling in some area.

Now, don’t get me wrong – maybe the baby is colicky and the kids have bad attitudes – and that IS hard. I’m not saying my kids are easy right now. But if I can OWN that I’M struggling… that means something important.

Let’s clarify something foundational here: Ownership is not blame. Ownership is empowerment.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

How far does it depend on me?

Well, not at all if I’m utterly convinced my children are the entire problem, and my children’s attitudes are the only issue.

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. (Acts 27:15)

Have I given way? Am I driven along by the attitudes of my children, or the temperament of my baby? I needn’t be. I have an Anchor. Can I own that? What does it look like to do that?

I am so freed up right now to admit that for the past week I’ve basically said, “MY KIDS SUCK” – and the truth is, my kids may be having an off-week, but I. AM. STRUGGLING. And once I can say, “I am struggling,” it’s a blessedly short hop to “I need help.”

Back when Owen was a newborn, that dear friend gave me permission to be the one struggling. And this gave me room to recognize (with help from friends and my husband) that I actually had severe postpartum depression. This should not have been a surprise to me – I’d already been diagnosed with & treated for clinical depression years earlier – I knew I was at greater risk of PPD. But I was so focused on my baby being hard — and so afraid of the problem being me — that I couldn’t go there. There was fear. There was shame.

But remember what we agreed on? Ownership is NOT BLAME. Ownership is EMPOWERMENT.

Ownership meant I could tell my baby I was sorry for saying horrible things about him. Ownership meant I could – and needed to – speak up to my husband about what I needed, (namely, the need to figure out what I needed). For me, it also meant a visit to my doctor and a prescription for anti-depressants.

This week, ownership means I need to keep getting my face in the Word of God. I need to run. And I need to ask for help.

Lord, please help us live at peace with our kids and in our homes. Show us what depends on us. And show us there’s no shame in being the one struggling. Lift our heads, Jesus.

Are you being driven along in some area of your life? Without shame, without blame, what might you need to own right now?

Starbucks Confessional (I am a freaking hot mess. Now, what?)

Yes, God helps in our need. It's a broken world, and bad things happen to good people. But what about the messes I get MYSELF into? What then?I’m doing something that makes me nervous. I was feeling pretty raw and low last week and it spilled onto the pages of my journal. I’m nervous because I know I’m supposed to share it.

I wanted to edit it first – but not in the way I usually edit my writing. I could tell I wanted to edit the desperation out of it. Just take it down a notch or three. I can’t have you all thinking I’m losing it over here.

But what? I don’t want people to think I’m that broken? That flawed? That needy?

So I’m not editing it. Because maybe one of you needs to know that if nothing else, you’re not the only one who is that broken. That flawed. That needy.

And maybe you’ll find that the God who is big enough for someone as broken, flawed, and needy as me, can be big enough for you too.


I’m low. And I’m apparently stressed, as I have a behemoth trifecta of a cold sore eating my face. I’m in Starbucks, face unwashed, Abreva on my mouth. Wow.

I’m low. I’m sluggish. I’m blasting music through my earbuds to drown out the Starbucks crowd.

I’m not going to run the 1/2 marathon I’m registered for this Saturday. I didn’t train. And why?

Just because I chose not to.

Just like every day I choose NOT to do the right thing. To give my body the healthy food it needs. And the time in God’s Word. And the break from so much caffeine and sugar. (As I sit here with my grande quad shot two pump white mocha Americano, thankyouverymuch.)

It’s like I’m rebelling against my own freedom. I’m rebelling against my own success, health, growth, victory. What in the world for? Why?


Laziness? Addiction? Oppression? Simple rebellion? Self-loathing? Pride? Perfectionism?

I don’t know why I do this.

Does it matter why?

I wake up tired. I go to bed tired. I walk through my day looking for my next cup of coffee.

I think about doing awesome things. But I do the opposite.

It sounds like Paul’s words. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing… WHAT A WRETCHED [WOMAN] I AM! WHO WILL SAVE ME? WHO WILL RESCUE ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I only copied the part about “Thanks be to God” because I feel like I should, but it doesn’t feel real right now.

I need to write. But what!? WHAT DO I HAVE TO SAY!?

“I feel low. Blah blah blah.”

Well, I feel low BECAUSE I MAKE POOR CHOICES. I feel low because I know what my body needs, what my mind needs, and I REFUSE TO DO IT. And even do worse. No one does this TO ME.


I am rebelling against my own freedom and I am angry and ashamed and tired and fed up and sad and nothing. And low. Just low. And apparently anxious, judging by the aforementioned face-eating cold sore.

So what now? How do I even approach God with this? I’ve done it – AM DOING IT – to myself.

Adam and Eve come to mind. In the Garden. It was so beautiful. It was perfect. They could have so much, but they chose the one thing God said no to. They traded ALL THE YESes for the NO. They rebelled against their own freedom.

Were there consequences? Absolutely. Um, hello, fall of all mankind. [You can read the account in context here.] But that’s not what I’m thinking of right now.

I’m thinking of this verse:

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

He could’ve left them naked and ashamed. But He didn’t. He clothed them. He covered them. He allowed them to experience the consequences of their rebellion, but HE MADE THEM GARMENTS AND HE CLOTHED THEM.


God called to them. He met them in their shame. In their defeat. In their utter failure. And He met their need.

And I’m trying REALLY HARD to not cry in Starbucks right now. Because I need that. I need Him. I need Him to come and get me in this pit. I can’t climb out to find Him. I need Him to hear me hiding, naked and defeated, make me a garment, and walk me back out into the light.

Please come, Jesus.


Oh my goodness. A garment. Oh JESUS, YOU CAME to make garments too. Just like the Lord God did in the Garden.  You came “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)

You guys. Could you use a new garment? Or any garment? Will you answer Him from your hiding place?