The End of Me

The past six months have been tough. I'm beginning to feel a lot like Job. They have looked something like this: meningitis, throat abscess, tonsillectomy, broken hand, hyperthyroid diagnosis, liver issues, ER visit, father-in-law has a stroke, and the dog sprains his ankle (yes, that can happen). The last four happened last week.

And that's just the major stuff. We've also had school issues, relationships beginning and ending and the normal, everyday drama that comes from having a 12-year-old and 14-year-old daughter.

Several weeks ago, I started reading The End of Me by Kyle Idleman, which was sent to me by Family Christian, and it spoke to me. It spoke God right into the midst of this mess we call our lives right now. It stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that I truly have to get to the end of me before Jesus can truly use me in the way that He wants.

There are no easy answers in this book. My life didn't immediately become hunky-dory as evidenced by the nightmare that was last week. I am truly at the end of every bit of strength and sanity I possess to make it through tomorrow.

But what this book made me realize is that I'm of no use to God when I'm trying to do everything myself. I can't be effective as a wife, a mom or in ministry if I'm doing it on my own.

The FTC requires that I tell you that I received the book  The End of Me  for free in exchange for a review, and I was compensated with a gift certificate. The opinions in this blog are my own, and I would never recommend something to you that I don't love myself. With the formalities out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

The FTC requires that I tell you that I received the book The End of Me for free in exchange for a review, and I was compensated with a gift certificate. The opinions in this blog are my own, and I would never recommend something to you that I don't love myself. With the formalities out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

The End of Me made me realize that I have to truly mourn my sin and follow Jesus' example in humility if I want to have any effect in the kingdom of God. I also have to let God work even through my weaknesses. God requires authenticity, He wants us to lay our ragged, worn out, I-don't-know-what-to-do selves at the foot of the cross so He can showcase His strength through our weakness.

Kyle Idleman uses the Beattitudes to discuss the beauty of truly mourning our sin, the importance of humility, and why we need to be authentic. He shows that the upside-down logic of the Beattitudes has the power to change the way we see the world.

In the second half of the book, he uses Jesus' encounters with others as examples of how God can use us in our weakness and our imperfection. From the parable of the great banquet to Saul's encounter with Jesus, he vividly shows how when we get to the end our ourselves, God can then use us in a mighty way.

Reading this book didn't make my life perfect, but it offered perfect perspective on the idea that God can only truly use me when I come to the end of me.

What a Girl Needs from Her Mom Review ($10 Family Christian Certificate Giveaway)

What a girl needs Disclosure: I received a review copy of What a Girl Needs from Her Mom and an appreciation certificate from Family Christian. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Somehow, I thought raising girls would be easy. After all, I was a little girl and a teenager once. I know what it's like. This shouldn't be that hard, right?

But then I ended up with two girls in my house who not only aren't much like me, they are so far apart from each other on the personality scale that it takes an entirely different set of parenting ideas to raise each of them.

And don't forget the world has changed a bit since I was a little girl and teenager. Instead of talking on the phone for hours, these girls are spending all their time texting and using social media. Some of the dangers we had to go looking for are right there in the palm of their hands.

Raising girls isn't easy. It doesn't matter that I was once their age. Nothing prepares you for the raging hormones and constantly changing personalities of the tween and teen years. I often think "I was never that bad." (My parents assure me I was.)

Raising kids -- boys or girls -- takes all the energy we can muster and all the help we can get. If you have girls, you should check out Cheri Fuller's new book What a Girl Needs from Her Mom.

Fuller delves into the complicated world of raising girls. She gives helpful advice about the wired world we live in and how to connect with your daughter. The most convicting chapter to me was the one about being present and engaged with our daughters. They need us to put down our phones or our computers and completely engage with them. Because they need to know they're important enough to have our complete attention from a young age.

Fuller also talks about the importance of being an encourager and a prayer warrior for your daughter. She covers everything from helping your daughter learn to manage her emotions to helping your daughter achieve her dreams.

Fuller has raised two girls of her own and is now a grandmother. She weaves her own personal stories into the book along with anecdotes from other moms who are currently raising girls in this overly wired world.

If you're wondering just what it is your daughter needs from you, check out Cheri Fuller's What a Girl Needs from Her Mom. Because being a girl doesn't make you an expert at raising one, and in this crazy world, we need all the help we can get.

Get your own copy of What a Girl Needs from Her Mom with a $10 appreciation certificate from Family Christian. It's easy. Just enter below, and check out Family Christian's Facebook page for encouragement and more deals.

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Do Over Review and Giveaway

Do over1 I received an advance copy of Do Over from  Family Christian and an appreciation certificate in exchange for a fair and honest review of this book. The opinions contained in this review are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

I spend a lot of time in this space talking about my role as a mom. It's what this blog was designed to be about. But I don't spend much time talking about what it's like to be a working mom. Some of you may not even know that I work part-time.

In the hours that I'm not driving kids to a hockey rink, school, a soccer field or any of the other myriad things we do, I'm working. I do freelance editing and writing, and I teach writing at a homeschool enrichment program. I love the flexibility of my job. I set my own hours. I can say no to the work I'm not interested in. It's a job that lets me be available for my family when they need me.

But it took me awhile to find my way. When I decided I wanted to add some work to my schedule when my younger daughter went off to first grade, I struggled to know how to find the work I wanted. I never really defined the "career" I wanted to have. I simply stumbled into some freelance work. Even now, I often feel like I should have a better grasp of where I'm going and what I want the work part of my life to look like.

When Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review Jon Acuff's new book Do Over, I wasn't super interested. I wasn't really sure that it applied to me or to you, my readers. I was, however, interested in reading it for two reasons: 1) I'd read his book Quitter and was impressed with his writing style and his information and 2) back when I was about 7 years old, Jon's dad was a pastor at our church (I only vaguely remember Jon, and I'm sure he doesn't remember me at all, but it's always fascinating to see people you once knew become successful.)

As I was reading Do Over, though, I realized that working is a part of many moms' realities. It's part of what we do, and just like any part of our lives, we need to address it. We need to recognize that chasing our own dreams is important even as we help our kids chase theirs. And that's why Do Over is a great read for any working mom who wants to change her career or chase her dreams. It's even a great read if you're not in a season of life where you can chase your dreams because someday you'll be in a season where you can.

In Do Over, Jon Acuff breaks down what you need to change your career path. He tells you how to declare a do over and start from scratch. The book breaks your do over down into four investments that you need to strike out on a new road: relationships, skills, character and hustle. He explains these with a nifty little chart that places each item on a scale of negative to positive and voluntary to involuntary. His basic premise is that relationships + skills + character x hustle = your career savings account.

Do over 3

When you declare a do over, you draw on that career savings account to launch yourself in a new direction. Jon talks about how to identify the relationships in your life that can help you succeed -- from acquaintances to close friends who will advocate for you. He shows you how to recognize the tangible and intangible skills you already have and the ones you need to acquire. He points out the character qualities you'll need to successfully navigate a do over, and the hustle you'll need to apply to get there.

Sounds like just another career self-help book, right? Wrong. With humor and intelligence, Jon gives you all the tools you need to call a do over on your career. He doesn't just tell you what you should be doing, he orders you to get out the note cards and Sharpies and start doing it. He gives you a plan to follow and exercises to do to get you to where you want to be.

So, why is this such a great book for moms? When we become moms, we often give up on our own dreams. We pour all of our time and energy into our families. There's nothing wrong with that. There are seasons when our families needs as much time and energy as we can give them. But there are those other seasons -- the ones where our families don't need all of our time and attention. And a season is coming (although it may seem a really long way off) where your little ones will be grown. When that season comes, it's important that we've built up a career savings account, so that when it's time to follow those dreams that God gave us, we'll have the resources to do so.

If you're a mom with a dream -- even if that dream is currently dormant -- pick up Jon Acuff's book Do Over. It's available on April 1, but you can preorder it at Family Christian today. Start building a career savings account because someday it will be your turn to chase your dreams -- and you want to be ready.

You can own your very own copy of Do Over by entering to win a $25 appreciation certificate from Family Christian. Just enter below.

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