Valentine’s Day is so soon! Team LSK loves all the love and we love that there is a holiday to celebrate it. No matter what your relationship status is: single, healing through a breakup, engaged, or married, Valentine’s Day is something that can be celebrated and enjoyed with a joyful heart!
To the single girls- look around at your family and friends, at yourself, and at your Creator on this day. See all the love there!? Hold on to it, savor, and thank God for it! Just because you are single doesn’t mean you aren’t loved!! You are so loved by so many and you have so much love to give. Celebrate that today however you want to: Galentine’s Day dinner, self care, or a night in with your parents. Whatever you want to do, do that! Keep the faith and keep loving yourself well.
To the girls in relationship- show your other half how much you care! This is such a fun day to do something special for him. Whether it be a gift, an experience, or even just a handwritten note, taking the opportunity to show your love is always a great idea. Give the love and receive the love today and thank God you two found each other; it something to celebrate! Don’t feel pressured to go out if you don’t want to, as some of the best nights are the ones spent in. Most importantly, enjoy your time together and take advantage of this day that gives you an excuse to love extra much!
New Q&A for you and a new must-read book! We recently had the opportunity to read Esther Fleece Allen’s new book, Your New Name, and friends…it’s incredible. It is full of faith-filled lines and encouraging words. Esther opens up about her personal story in a really raw, vulnerable, and powerful way and conveys the importance of knowing our true names- the ones God calls us. Keep reading to learn more about this valuable concept and amazing book!
LSK: We are so captivated by the concept of this book! Can you share what inspired you to write about naming?
EFA: When reading through the book of Ruth [in the Bible] I saw how it was a story of three widows, one of who renamed herself in the middle of her grief. I realized there have been many times I have renamed myself during awful circumstances. Victim. Abused. Forgotten. Left behind. Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi [whose name means sweet] renamed herself to Mara [meaning bitter,] after her husband and sons die. Yet– Naomi’s life didn’t end bitter. God challenged me to not rename myself in the middle of a storm. Naming is much more significant than labeling ourselves due to our circumstances, and I hope this book helps the reader throw off the labels that limit them and ask God for their new name.
Hint: God’s names for us are more beautiful than our circumstances!
LSK: You write beautifully about how we discover our new name in Christ and how this new name is given to us, not earned. Can you share about how God pursues us, adopts us, and names us?
EFA: When God makes us his own, it comes with benefits [Psalm 103:2.]
Our mutual friends [Michael and Lauren McAfee] recently adopted their daughter from China and chose the beautiful name Zion for their little girl. Not only did she become theirs instantly [and not out of her works or behavior,] she took on a new name and their name! So it is with us when God saves us. God does not foster us; he adopts us, and with it comes spiritual blessings like a new name, carrying His name, and more! Labels limit us to circumstances and seasons, but a new name stays with us forever. We won’t be called by our strengths or weakness in heaven, we will be identified as His children, and called by our new names!
LSK: God’s protection is an amazing gift from Him and you talk about how it is important to rely on His protection when the enemy comes knocking on our doors, trying to tempt us to doubt our new names. What does this look like and how can we be on our guard?
EFA: In my first book, No More Faking Fine, I tell the difficult story of walking through stalking from my biological father. During these years I wrestled with the protection of God. I lamented a lot during these years. But as my faith was challenged, I discovered the protection we are offered in scripture is a spiritual one. I was thinking my life should receive a physical protection, and while that can and sometimes does happen– this is not a guarantee. If my name is hidden in God’s name, my spirit and soul are protected forever.
I hope to give the reader some tips in Your New Name of how to fight off the lies of accusations that come at every single one of us. One thing that will surely help us fight off these attacks is knowing our new name.
LSK: One of our favorite quotes from your book is on page 105 re: wrestling with God. You write, “Scripture rarely talks about struggling without also talking about persevering. Not only are we to hold on to our faith; there may be a new name for us on the other side.” How essential are perseverance and endurance on our journey of faith with God?
EFA: God is able to keep us in the faith. The book of Revelation speaks to us learning new names for God when we overcome. A lot hinges on us overcoming, so I dedicated a entire chapter to it! When we’re tempted to give up in the middle of the pain or when we’ve been misunderstood or mislabeled, Gods calls us to overcome until the very end.
Many of us start well, but we need the courage and perseverance to end well, too. I look forward to learning new names for God in Heaven! There will always be more about God for us to learn. Not only will we be renamed, but we will learn more about His Names in the process. Whenever I’m tempted to give up, I remind myself that overcoming is less about me, and more about how He has already overcome, giving me the power and victory to do so also.
LSK: Above all, is there one thing that you pray readers will take away with them and hold on to after reading your book?
EFA: One of the biggest take-a-ways for me when writing Your New Name is the power we have to rename our offenders. After a season of lamenting the wrong that was done to me, renaming became a tool to help me forgive. I share a personal story of how I was able to re-name my biological father after years of neglect and torment. This forgiveness came not because I am great at forgiving (I’m not!) but because I believed my new names given by God, and attempted to live out of them. We have the power to rename and forgive others after we hear our new name. This will be a lifelong journey as we learn to become great forgivers, and live out of our new names!
You know that feeling when you read a good book and your whole soul fills up with hope and encouragement? Naturally after feeling like this you want to tell everyone about it! That is how we felt when reading Box of Butterflies by Roma Downey. It is an absolutely beautiful book including poems and art, but most importantly Roma’s words about faith, God’s grace and love, and the value of living a life dependent on and thankful for Him.
There is one part toward the end that we felt so inclined to share, but be sure to pick up a copy to read the entire book. It is a treasure of a book, one that you will want to hold on to forever and loan to dear friends and family. On page 207, Roma writes an incredible passage comparing our journey here on earth to Dorthy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz, stating that our “true home is within us. True home is in God.” We can search the earth and think we need certain things to make us whole and make us feel at home, but who we truly need, God, is with us all along!
“I hope that in this book you have begun to see the beauty in your journey. How it may have twisted and turned, and had ups and downs, but ultimately that you were never alone on the Yellow Brick Road. That even in the dark forest, God was preparing you. That even as you danced in Munchkinland, it was time to say thank you. That even though when you arrive back home and nothing has changed on the outside, you’ll see that you’ve been changed on the inside. And that is all that matters. When we awaken fully to God, it’s as if we finally remember that we are not merely caterpillars but that we are, in face, beautiful butterflies with wings to fly.” -Roma Downey in Box of Butterflies
Thank you, Roma for such beautiful, wise, love-filled words that encourage, inspire, and uplift us as the beauty in all of our journey unfolds, even after twists and turns and ups and downs.
We are so excited to have Julia Sadler, author of the book: Pray Big Things, with us today on LSK. Julia has an incredible story to share of faith, trust, endurance, and hope and we just know that her answers to our questions are going to inspire you. Keep reading to learn more!
Q&A With Julia Sadler
*Tell us what inspired you to write Pray Big Things!
I wrote PRAY BIG THINGS after the most challenging and exciting season of my life and marriage. After experiencing three miscarriages in less than a year and praying specifically and consistently, my husband and I conceived our miracle triplets. I ended up going into labor at 22 weeks and was told the babies would be born blind, deaf, with brain bleeds, or not even survive at all. By God’s grace we all survived 49 days of hospital bedrest, 63 days in the NICU, and all were home the night before our 9-year wedding anniversary!
By being open about the losses, infertility, bedrest, and NICU on social media and on the TLC show, Rattled, I was able to connect with so many women and couples struggling to find hope in these hard situations. I had actually contracted to write a different book but knew PRAY BIG THINGS was the one I was meant to write. Even if these aren’t your specific struggles, everyone has a prayer and dream they’d give anything to see fulfilled—and that’s what PRAY BIG THINGS is all about. I challenge readers to take God at His word and see Him work beyond anything they’ve ever imagined.
*We love the title description: The Surprising Life God Has for You When You’re BOLD ENOUGH TO ASK. Can you elaborate on what it means to you to be bold when praying to God?
That’s a great question. I think we are scared to ask God for what we really want. We are worried our requests aren’t holy enough, important enough, or matter enough in the grand scheme of the universe. However, this is completely contrary to Scripture. James 4:2 says, “You have not because you ask not.” It doesn’t get simpler than that!
For whatever reason, many people have bought into the lie that following Christ isn’t exciting when really it’s the most fulfilling and surprisingly life we can lead. I had to be bold in asking God what purpose He had for me as I lay in a bed for 49 days, but He was faithful to give me people to minister to and encourage. Big prayers honor our big God and I think we would be amazed at what God will do when we are bold enough to ask.
PRAY BIG THINGS is not a “name it and claim it” book. I actually put my therapist hat on for a few chapters and talk about what to do when God says “no” and how to process anxiety, anger, grief, when God doesn’t answer our request the way we want. But even when God says “no we can still trust in a loving God Who has a perfect plan He is working out in our lives.
*Why do you think it is more natural for us humans to settle for less when God truly has created us (and wants us) to be bold and live in abundance?
I think settling for less is comfortable. We say we want more, but our actions –or inactions– prove otherwise. A lot of us think we need to let God off the hook. If we don’t ask, then He can’t disappoint us or let us down. “Praying Big” is definitely what I call “2.0” to the high school senior girls I teach in Sunday School. To “Pray Big Things” is the next level in your relationship with God. It’s more than what most people do, but it will get you further than most people ever go.
*How did you muster up the courage to be so vulnerable and open re: your story of infertility and miscarriage? Your vulnerability is such a gift to your readers!
I truly believe my purpose in life is to point people to Christ, and I decided a long time ago to use whatever I have to do that. Romans 1:16 in which the apostle Paul declares his commitment to sharing the gospel is my life verse. When I found out 6.1 million American women struggle with infertility, and I saw so many people of faith and of no faith being encouraged through our openness and story, I knew our experience—as hard as it had been– was a gift from God to use to talk about Jesus. I absolutely love getting messages from people telling me they have renewed hope because of God’s work in our lives! There’s nothing better than that!
*What is the one thing, most of all, that you hope your readers feel and walk away with once reading your book?
I want people to know that God can be trusted and that there is a surprising life awaiting everyone who dares to PRAY BIG THINGS!
Just last week, one of our favorite authors and speakers, Rebekah Lyons, came out with a new book. Her book, You Are Free, is one we have recommended here on the blog before and her new book, Rhythms of Renewal, is once again a must-read.
We are so excited to soon be asking Rebekah a few questions, so of course the Q&A will be posted here on the blog, but until then we had to share an excerpt from her book that we keep re-reading. Focused on four rhythms: rest, restore, connect, and create, this new book from RL encourages readers to incorporate these four ways of being in their lives in order to truly rest, experience restoration, deeply connect, and beautifully create.
Just from the dedication page, it is clear this book is one that your soul is going to soak up. She shares this psalm in the opening page:
“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:4-5
Then on page 21, just in the introduction, Rebekah writes this:
“Through study and experience, I’ve come to understand four rhythms that help us replace stress and anxiety with life-giving peace and purpose. They help us nurture and sustain lasting emotional health. These rhythms aren’t complicated- Rest, Restore, Connect, and Create…however, these rhythms do take practice. Practical acts like fasting from media (Rest), exercising (Restore), sharing a laugh (Connect), or recovering an old talent (Create) can help us break the anxiety-inducing cycles of the world around us and bring balance to our otherwise hectic lives. They can help us cultivate the spiritual and mental space needed to allow God to bring us through complacency and fear and into freedom.” -Rebekah Lyons
Here’s to breaking “the anxiety-inducing cycles of the world around us” that are so easy to slip into. Instead, root yourself in these rhythms and find yourself flourishing and truly living from a place of peace, rest, and strength! Thanks, Rebekah, for writing such a faith-filled and much-needed book.
The other day someone in passing said to me when saying goodbye, “take good care of yourself”! Their words made me think: what does “take good care of yourself” actually mean? How does one do that well?
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF…
…means different things for different people at different times. But man oh man, is it important. Our loving Lord of course is our great caretaker; He takes care of us in multiple ways from His throne. I believe though that He equips us to take care of ourself AND in His great provision, surrounds us with people who will also care for us. It’s our responsibility, though, to care for ourselves to the best of our human ability. This includes caring for our physical bodies, emotional selves, spiritual souls, and our God-focused minds.
…for all of us to fight off the guilt that the enemy uses when we do focus on and care for ourselves. Don’t be surprised when the devil tries to tell you you are selfish or you should be doing something else for someone else. It’s simply NOT TRUE. Taking good care of yourself by rest, relaxation, taking time to do your favorite hobby, investing in yourself, doing something that makes you smile…all of those things fill up your energy tank in order to take care of others in your life well! You have to be filled up in order to fill others up.