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.
Friends! We are so excited to bring to you an amazing Q&A we had the honor of participating in with author and speaker Bianca Olthoff. While we have not met Bianca in person, we feel as though we know her from interview her, reading her new book, and following her on Instagram and that is because she is real and honest in everything she writes and says and THAT, my friends, is a gift and a treasure. Her new book, How To Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want To Be Tomorrow, is one of those books that you think about constantly once you start it and one that you tell all your girlfriends about. Bianca is encouraging, inspiring, and convicting; she writes in such a way that makes you want to hit your knees, praying and crying out to God, praising Him for all he has done, and trusting Him for all that He will do. Her words makes you want to stand firm in your faith, obey with endurance, and step out in courage. Keep reading to meet Bianca Olthoff and be inspired to read her incredible book.
TAKE A READ…
Let’s talk about your Instagram. We are loyal followers and your posts always do things: 1) make us LOL so hard and 2) inspire us beyond words, motivating us to fight the good fight and love the Lord with all our hearts. What do you love sharing and interacting with others on your Instagram platform and what has inspired your approach to your IG posts?
First of all, I don’t have followers—I have FRIENDS! I love that we are cyber friends. Secondly, the fact that you laugh at my posts SOLIDIFIED us as forever friends.
But the reason I love social media is that it has really leveled the playing field of communication within social class, nationality, and popularity. Within seconds you can commenting and engaging with a superstar in Brazil by leaving Instagram love, Snapchatting your roommate in the bunk bed next to you, or inspiring someone you’ve never met via Facebook live. Social media has many pitfalls, but there’s a lot of amazing ways to connect, inspire, and be encouraged by new friends we wouldn’t have otherwise met if it wasn’t for the good ol’ world wide web.
For me personally, I know my online friends don’t really go to church. And if they do, it’s not very consistent. So I bring church to them! Yes, I post silly things that I love, but I also posts clips of me teaching the Word of God, sharing inspiring quotes, or sharing stories of life transformation. Why? Because we have this awesome tool called the internet and we can make a really big world feel really small if we take time to engage with people.
First of all, can I put y’all in my pocket and pull you out anytime I need encouragement?! All this flattery will get you EVERYWHERE. Just kidding! (Well, half kidding.)
The very first bible study I taught was on the book of Ruth over 15 years ago. I discovered that the Bible was FULL of practical wisdom, truth, and humor that could have me not just survive my quarter-life crisis, but THRIVE in a difficult season. So I guess you can say it was a 15-year process to write this book! But I set out to write a playbook that I wish I had when I was in a really sucky season of life. Being single, moving back home, not working my dream job—those were all very normal struggles, but no one talked to me or mentored me in a way that impacted me.
This is my playbook for women who want to get their life together and a primer for those who want to understand and connect with the next generation.
As we started to read, we couldn’t put the book down! Your vulnerability and willingness to share your story, as well as your strong faith and passion for God’s Word, are so evident in these pages. I am sure there are many, but if there is one thing that you want readers to take away from your book, what would it be?
YES! Without a doubt, I want people to understand the power of legacy. This isn’t fully obvious in the book of Ruth, but in the New Testament we see that this pagan, barren, widowed Moabite (basically she was HOT MESS EXPRESS) ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ?! The decisions she made in her everyday effected her tomorrow—she wasn’t living for a good weekend, she was building a good legacy.
If people read one chapter of my book, I would suggest reading the very last chapter. Go ahead! I give you permission. My hope is that people understand that all decisions, all disillusionment, and despair can be redeemed. Because if you are not dead, then God is not done.
Your writing style is the perfect balance of straightforward, tell it like it is, preach it type of wisdom, with a side dose of humor that makes what you say incredibly moving and memorable. Your relationship advice in particular is always spot-on! What is it about single women and the dating world that inspires you to speak into their lives with such Truth and passion? It is such a gift!
Hand to heaven, I told Jesus that when I would preach, teach, write, or create, I will NEVER ostracize my single sisters. I love the Church, but it felt like I was less-than, unwanted, or diseased during my single years (I didn’t get married until 30 and instantly inherited two step kids). The enemy will have a field day with our mind if we believe that narrative. So I’m always intentional to include as many voices to the conversation as possible. And dating SUCKS, man. Let’s share wisdom and stories with humility and candor so we can learn how to date well!
Did the story of Ruth always hold a special place in your heart? You weave Ruth and her story so well into your personal stories throughout the book. When did you first realize that God had placed on your heart to write this book and how did Ruth become a central role in it?
I’m a first generation American with a family that wasn’t religious. My parents came to this country with nothing, but chose God to be their God, the United States to be their land, and God’s people to be their people. That was Ruth’s story. Scrappy, hard-working, and not like those in her community, she showed up. Her chutzpa inspired me and I hope everyone who reads this book finds a piece of their story in her story. Redemption isn’t just for the perfect, polished, and pretty. Redemption is for all of us.
Happy July 5th, friends! Hope everyone had a happy fourth full of fireworks, yummy food, friends, and family. Who agrees that summer is such a sweet season to start a new book? Whether you are traveling, on the beach, at home, or at the pool, taking time to dive into a new book feels so right during summertime. Below is a list of 7books to read this summer including pages we have read and loved, ones we are reading as of now, plus books that are our own to-read list this summer and beyond.