How To Live a 2-Star Life in a 5-Star World

So. There are some things that go along with writing a book.

You know besides all the fame and truck loads of money. Heh.

Four months out and I still get weekly questions like, “How’s the book doing so far?” “How many copies have you sold?” “Has it been reviewed in a journal?” “How do you feel about it releasing the same time as five other blogger’s books?” And then suggestions “Maybe you should try to push it here… or Guest post there…”

These are not my favorite.

Because with every question comes a comparison of my book (which sometimes feels a lot like a comparison of me) lined up next to another book (which sometimes feels a lot like a comparison to another author). Although I know it’s my insecurities and not your questions.

And then there are reviews. Words people write about what you’ve written. It can be a lot of noise.

Most days, I waive off the questions and I forget to read the reviews. I handle questions like “So, is your book a success? ” with answers like “I wrote it out of obedience to God.” Because it’s true.


With daily Mercy House tasks, writing obligations, overseeing Fair Trade Friday, and managing the massive amounts of laundry my family produces, I don’t have time to worry about it. I’ve said from the beginning, this book will do what it’s supposed to do (glorify God, I hope). I don’t have to sell my soul to sell books.

But then there are days I give into the pressure to compare book sales and mostly myself, to others.

These moments are also not my favorite.

Recently, I got my first 2- star review on Amazon. Sales on Amazon are a good general gauge for how your book is doing.  It was sandwiched between two very kind 5-star reviews, but guess which one was loudest?

It said something to the effect of “The 1st part of this book was very interesting and good to read. Then it turned into at least to me an infomercial on the needs of 3rd world countries…”


I shared the review on my Facebook page, perhaps to satisfy my own need for approval, but I also found encouragement.

But it was words from a missionary friend living in Costa Rica that hit the mark:

She unwittingly gave you one of the best reviews ever. Lord, please let me live a two star life that turns into an infomercial for the needs of others on this earth so I can live a five star life with you forever. #twostars

And it has become my prayer too.

If I’m too busy listening to who the world says I am, I might miss the great I AM speaking.

Because if my goal in this life is to be known, how can I make Him known? 

It’s hard to look at Him when we’re busy looking at ourselves.

For me, success is easily wrapped up in writing and there are plenty of meters to let me know how I’m doing, I mean, how my books are doing. But the same truth applies in every career and situation. If we are comparing our parenting, our homes, our kids, our jobs to other people, we always end up feeling like we don’t measure up.


How to live a 2-star life in a 5-star world: 

1. Keep our eyes on Him- we can only focus on one thing at a time

2. Don’t compare yourself to others-it skews our perception of truth

3. Live upside down-embrace the small

I’m learning that in this upside Kingdom where small is big and least is more-

Two stars is more than I thought.

In Which I Sign Away Movie Rights

When I got the 23-page contract for my next book, my (amazing) agent highlighted some areas for us to discuss.

Which is code for: I have no idea how to read a legal contract and needed a smart guy to explain it to me.

One of the sections he wanted to talk about was Movie Rights.

Yes, you read that right. You can laugh now. I did.

He said, “Now this would be a one in a million chance, but some books do get turned into real life movies, so we need to talk about it. I was folding laundry at the time. Riveting movie material, huh?

We went thru the legalese and I agreed that I wanted to add a clause that required my permission for any future plans to “sell my story for movie rights.” I got off the phone and cleaned the toilets. Clearly, I can handle TLC.

At dinner, we did highs and lows around the table, everyone sharing the high and low point of their days. When it was my turn, I told my family about the movie rights because that certainly doesn’t happen every day.

I was explaining how contracts cover everything and while there was no way a movie was in our future, it was fun to laugh about it.

My 13 year old had a dreamy look on her face and said, “Hmmn…I wonder who would play me in a movie about our family?” And then she started tossing out different teen actresses who were stunning and fashionable, of course.

I died laughing.

My son and little sister jumped into the conversation and before I knew it, they had cast our entire family, including the dog and cat. Let me tell you, it was quite a cast of characters.

We are all about reality down here in Texas.

It was hysterical and completely out of control.

Then my husband said, “I think Brad Pitt would play me.”


Because even I have dreams, people.



*Updated: I thought Angelina Jolie could play me, but my family picked Ginnifer Goodwin from Ramona and Beezus (she played Aunt Bea) and considering she’s at least 10 years younger and 20 pounds lighter, I’m not complaining. My 13 year old finally decided on Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games (she played Katniss). My son will be played by Gabe from Disney’s Good Luck Charlie. My 6 year old is going to play herself, so will the dog. We didn’t argue with her on that. The cat will be played by the devil.

This is What God Does with the Broken Pieces of our Story

He turns it into something for His glory.


My life is a beautiful mess, mixed with muddy and majestic moments. This is my story, filled with failure and fortune and a lot of faith. It is the ultimate story of realization and restoration and the miraculous God-work of creating something beautiful from broken pieces.

This is a book for imperfect people who aren’t called to greatness, but rather, to smallness. This book is testimony to how He steps into our ordinary, often self-absorbed world and transforms small, day-to-day choices into something God-sized.

This book is about how God shattered my clean, comfortable Christian life on an unexpected journey when He used the abundant joy of the poor to rescue me from the poverty in my soul.

This book will encourage readers to make their lives about Jesus and say yes right where they are.

I’m writing a new book!

Coming 2014

Fun Little Stocking Stuffer

My first book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! is on sale for only $2.99 on Kindle today.


You can also get a hard copy here for only $5.99!

Some nice things people have said:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your book! I finally ordered it a couple of days ago…(not sure what took me so long)…got it today and started reading while waiting the car line at school! I’ve already laughed (out loud) (to which my little boy asked why i was laughing) and cried! I can totally relate to what I’ve read so far! Thank you for sharing your stories…and for being real…” -Melissa


Don’t Make Me Come Up There”– makes me cheer! And it makes me get down on my knees and thank Jesus for this vocation of mothering. Because this book’s take on motherhood is with a fresh honesty, a deep humility, and always has Christ firmly at the center of it.

Each chapter can be read easily in one sitting (or standing at the stove, stirring soup :) by a mama of many. I’ve been picking it up right in the middle of it all — and it’s guaranteed to bring a smile of recognition (“I’m not alone!”)… (or flat out laugh.) And it’s guaranteed to encourage and turn a chaotic day to Him who really matters.

This book is making me laugh and it’s making me kneel and it’s making me love.
I can think of no higher compliment of a book for a mama down in the trenches — or at the bottom of the stairs :)” -Ann Voskamp


This product has helped me so much with my boys. I have a two year old and a 4 month old and there are so many times when I feel like I am failing as a mother. This book is perfect because it only takes a few minutes to read, cause we all know Mom’s dont have an hour to read their devotional, and it gives me so much encouragement. I highly recommend this book for all mothers (especially of little boys!). -anonymous


As a parent, I’m every Reading teachers nightmare. I hate to read! However, I sat down with this book at a point where I needed encouragement and needed to know I was not alone. I read through the entire book–twice in one day! I continue to read it about once a month and gain new inspiration for my parenting journey each time. I have also given it as a gift to several friends and used it as a give-away at our church on Mother’s Day. I appreciate Kristen’s perspective and transparency which helps me think I’m more “normal” than I thought, whatever “normal” is. I laughed til I cried and I cried until I smiled at the amazing way God has used this book to speak life to me. Thanks Kristen- for showing us that one person can make a difference, in our homes and in the world around us.” -Pam R

I’m Glad I’m a Mom {Giveaway}

UPDATE–The winners are: comment numbers 1, 41, 75, 108 & 112. Congratulations to Haley, D Hopkins, Jimmie Lee, Carolyn and Victoria. An email has been sent your way!

She called my name. I put down my book and looked up from the patio chair. “Hmmm?” I sounded.

“Mom, please help me,” she said and pointed to the swings.

I got up and walked toward her. “Will you please help me swing on all of them?” I didn’t understand and so she explained.

I frowned. “I don’t think it’s possible, honey.”

“Will you just try to help me? You’re the only mother I have,” she whined.

I bit back a laugh.

And then we did this together:

I pushed her awkwardly and she looked triumphant.

Later I showed her the picture as she snuggled up next to me in bed. “We did it!” I said and tickled her.

“Mommy? I love you.

But…” she paused.

I waited.

“You’ve got to do something about your spikey legs.”


Ah, motherhood. Some days are smooth, others are, well, spikey.

But I wouldn’t trade them for anything.


In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m giving away 5 copies of my book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There!: Quiet Moments for Busy Moms!

Fill in the blank as your entry “I’m glad I’m a Mom because_______” OR if that doesn’t apply “I’m glad for my Mom because______”

For When You Need a Sign {A Special Post}

{Updated with Winners} Congrats to random commenters: #56  Cheryl, #6 Hallie, #43 Beth Shepherd, #41 Rachel, #51 Miranda. Everyone else, buy the book! Proceeds go to Mercy House.
Sometimes I get an email that just stops me in my tracks.
I wanted to share one of them with you, but please understand that this isn’t boasting.
I know this isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

This email reminded me that there are moms out there-in the carline, at the grocery store, on your street-that need Him. And maybe they don’t know how to find Him and they are waiting on us to lead the way….
They are looking for a sign.

Dear Kristen, We do not know one another and have never met, but I just read your book and it was awesome! This is not something I would normally write…but I HAD too. I checked out your book from the local library and knew I had to buy it, even before I knew the proceeds go to Mercy House.

Reading this book was an experience for me. I wasn’t just being entertained. I was connecting with something and having an actual experience. It is difficult to describe. I needed these stories and I loved it!

I have been trying to know God better and I can feel he speaks to me, (not in a literal voice), but I am apparently not a good listener. He is telling me to come find Him, and bring my children. I am lost only because I am not following the signs.

I thought I had just stumbled upon your book but I know now I was led to it. The versus and the prayers really spoke to me and I was compelled to tell you, and genuinely thank you. So, thank you and your family for this wonderful gift you all helped to make and share!

If you know a mom who needs Him or needs a little encouragement, I’d like you to leave her first name in the comment section.

I’m going to randomly draw 5 names and giveaway FIVE copies of my book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! for winners to pass along to a friend.

Maybe she’s just waiting on a sign.

And your the one that’s supposed to deliver it.

P.S. if you feel like you’re the mom in this email, please feel free to leave your own name!

How an Introvert Has a Book Signing

Q: What do you call a stack of books hot-off-the press, a cup of new rainbow Sharpees and a new author?

A: An introvert at her book signing.

[insert nausea here]

Until the cookies arrived and suddenly I felt better.

My sweet friend, neighbor and baker-extraordinaire Bridget, arrived with these:

Suddenly, I wanted to write seven more books.

It ended up being a really fun day shared with great friends!

My super supportive family was there to celebrate eat cookies.

I sold out of books and a bunch of t-shirts and jewelry to benefit the Mercy House!

Still don’t have a copy of my book? It’s being featured at the Bloom Book Club at (in)courage this week and THREE copies are being given away today! Or you can buy it here.


P.S. I hope you’ll join me on Monday at Grace Cafe (Blog Talk Radio) for a one hour radio interview.

P.S. S. Yes, I’m nervous. Like you had to ask.

P.S. S. Photos courtesy of my amazing neighbor who conveniently deleted all the photos of herself!