Why I Share About My Broken Marriage In My Book

She pulled me close and said the words in a hush, “ Your book for me is like the book Radical was for you.”

The words stun.

Because I know what that means. I’m looking in the eyes of a woman who is about to turn her life upside down in her yes to Jesus.

“We are about to start the book as a family,” she motions to her three teens sitting at the picnic table.

“Except for that one chapter. We may skip over that one for now.”

And I knew which chapter she was referring to without even naming it.

It’s not the chapter about being a rich mom or the one about how lonely this road has been or the messy one about family life.

It’s the one about my marriage.

The one that talks about the secret sin of pornography and how it ripped my marriage apart and how God helped me choose forgiveness. It’s the intimate and hard-to-read pages of how my husband wanted freedom more than he wanted anything else. It’s the soul-splitting journal of the long, hard road to healing and the story behind the very special words on our wedding bands we gave each other the day we decided to marry all over again.

God can do anything

Most people think Rhinestone Jesus is about Mercy House. And it is. This unlikely home in the heart of Africa, funded by a bunch of moms–that is our family’s yes, our God-sized dream. It’s as wild and crazy as it sounds.

But Mercy House is today. That’s not the whole story. I know how easy it is to see where someone is today and think, “Huh. Well, my yes is small. I could never do something significant for God.”

And that’s why I start and end the book with brokenness. That’s why I invite you in -because you need to know where we started, the ups and downs, the heartbreak and healing journey to our yes.

Because it’s raw. It’s real. It’s as standing on the edge of destruction as you can get.

Not only does it make where we ended up more powerful: It’s a reminder of what God can do. He can do it for your marriage, too.

I used to hate that pornography was a part of my story. You may hate part of your story, too. I used to think I was alone in my marriage troubles. You may feel that, also. I used to think I was too broken to say yes. I was wrong. You may be, too.

Now? Today, I’m thankful for the brokenness in my marriage. I would have never known its strength if I wasn’t aware of its weakness. I would never have tasted intimacy if I hadn’t experienced void. I would never love my husband like I do today, if I didn’t nearly lose him.

I don’t know the secrets your marriage holds.

But I know who holds your marriage.

I can promise you–whatever brokenness that your story contain–don’t let it define you. Don’t let it imprison you. And please, don’t let it make you feel alone. Something miraculous happens when we release the brokenness: it sets us free.

 

The Blessing (Or Curse) of Stuff and What We Are Really Teaching Our Kids

I ran into an old friend on my way out of the post office the other day. We quickly caught up on each other’s life and I was tempted to count how many times she said “I’m blessed.”

“We moved into a bigger house. We are so blessed! We finally upgraded to a new van. Just so blessed. My kids got into an exclusive summer camp and don’t you just love my new purse? I’m just so blessed! If God keeps blessing us, we hope to buy some land soon…”

I’m not opposed to blessings.

But I couldn’t help but notice how every time she said  “blessing” it was attached to a thing.

I’ve said the same words before.  But I’m talking about more than word choice and terminology.

Because after meeting the poorest of the poor on the other side of the world–and serving every Friday among the refugee women in my city– people without furnishings or cars or diapers or even enough food for the day, without “blessings” –I couldn’t help but wonder if they are blessed, too?

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When we relate blessings to the stuff in our lives, our gratitude sounds hollow and shallow. Are we still blessed if our house burns down, our car breaks, our kids rebel, our health declines or we choose to give our money away?

Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Yes. And I know the heart is often thankfulness behind our statements, “I’m so blessed because I have ___.” But what if we lose these blessings? Can we still say I’m blessed?

This was the life-changing question that flipped my life upside down.

Because when I stood eye-to-eye with another mother in the slum who had nothing–nothing–and yet she praised God for being blessed with life and the  jug of clean water in her hand, I knew she possessed something I didn’t.

It has been said that our unhappiness is evidenced in our excess of stuff.

We buy and buy and buy and then when we have too much, we drag the stuff to the driveway, stick a price tag on it and sell it so we can buy more. What in the world are we teaching our kids?

We are teaching them that stuff makes us happy and even more stuff makes life better. When we unite “blessings” with “things” we are teaching our kids that if we don’t have things we aren’t blessed. I’m certainly not opposed to buying stuff we need and even things we want. But the truth I’ve discovered is that real blessing comes when I buy something someone else needs instead of something I want.

That’s the blessed life I want to show my kids. 

Because being blessed has absolutely nothing to do with stuff. It’s temporary. It can be gone tomorrow and it will be gone for eternity. We are blessed no matter what we have because God has given us grace, forgiveness, hope, a second chance and eternal life.

This is my story of how I went from suffocating from stuff to discovering the real “stuff” of God that we cannot buy.

4 Things We Can Do to Teach Our Kids the True Meaning of Blessings:

  1. Name your blessings as a family (but tell your kids they can’t name “stuff” or things money can buy).
  2. The next time you drive by a garage sale, use it as an opportunity to introduce this idea of our throwaway-so-we-can-have-more culture. Or take them to Goodwill.
  3. Gather extra stuff occupying closets and drawers and plan a garage sale and give the money away.
  4. Give gifts of time and service to family members instead of more stuff and encourage your kids to do the same.

We have stuff. But stuff shouldn’t have us.

 

It Matters. {Giveaway}

Updated with randomly chosen winners: Please check your email!

Congrats to Amalia, Valorie M, Melody B, Jodi T, and Brandi

Every load of laundry.

Every spill wiped.

Every hug given.

Every phone call made.

Every note mailed.

Every meal cooked.

Every dollar given.

Every day lived.

Every time you say yes to someone other than yourself, you are changing another person’s world.

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You have changed mine.

You have changed theirs.

Thank you for saying yes with me.

Your yes matters.

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Thank you for buying my book, for reading the story, for saying yes to Mercy House.

Mostly, for saying yes to God.

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We had a little YES party this past weekend. So many local friends have served faithfully, quietly for years. I got emotional seeing them all in one place.

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These are the some of the volunteers behind Mercy House USA.

They are the package-stuffing,

mail-sending,

jewelry-tagging,

box-carrying,

data-entrying,

order-printing,

bank-going,

donation-giving

YESES.

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I love you, friends, real-life and online, all the same, I love you deeply.

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And to those reading from California to North Carolina, from Canada to Mexico your yes is changing the world and today we celebrate that.

I’m giving away FIVE copies of Rhinestone Jesus with FIVE ‘Your Yes Matters” leather bracelets and FIVE “We change the world” prints.

Because your yes matters. 

Leave a comment to win.

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bracelets available here | prints available here | books available here

 

Today, I’m Releasing My Story To The World

It’s here!

Today is the day Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly Safe Faith is No Longer Enough releases worldwide. 

I would be lying if I told you this is the book I always wanted to write.

But this is the story I was meant to live.

Saying yes to God has been an act of wild obedience for my family. It hijacked our American Dream and left us with something so much better.

It left us with more.

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But this isn’t just our story. It’s a God-story. It’s undeniable, unbelievable, unquestionable proof that God can do anything when we say yes.

Today, Mercy House is preparing to move into our second home in Kenya, allowing us space to bring in more pregnant girls. This oasis in the heart of a poverty-stricken land has been paid for in full by so many of you. And soon, it will be a refuge for some of the most oppressed people in the world.

It’s also the National Day of Prayer. God’s timing is perfect.

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We cannot underestimate what happens with our every day yes.

It matters.

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Our yes to God will never be perfect. There will never be a “right” time. It will never be easy or even appreciated. But don’t think for a second that it doesn’t matter. It does.

Say it today.

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 What Others Are Saying About Rhinestone Jesus:

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Add my book Rhinestone Jesus AND the (in)Mercy Poster below to your cart at Dayspring along with this code at checkout RhinestoneFree to receive the Poster for FREE! $20 value for free. Open to the first 50 orders. (Shipping charges do apply, unless you purchase 3 additional copies of Rhinestone Jesus or have a subtotal of $50 or more. One poster per order.) This promo has now ended.

 

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And just because: (courtesy of my 1990 year book), Jesus pin, big hair and all:

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What Scares Me More Than Being Inadequate

I used to think my greatest fear was inadequacy.

I believed these words for a very long time.

You could never do that.

You aren’t good enough.

You cannot make a difference.

You will fail.

But the day I said yes to something bigger than my capability, I discovered being inadequate -not having all the answers, not being successful, not being enough–these weren’t my deepest fears.

My deepest fear was rooted in the unleashing of my yes. I realized the unbelievable, unspeakable power of that little word would thrust me into an unknown world of faith-walking and desperation for Jesus.

And that terrified me.

Because I’m still inadequate. No matter what I do, what I learn, there’s always something I don’t know.  We cannot rescue or save or even get our kids to listen half the time. How dare we have the audacity to help another human being?

I live in that place.

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But when we hush that voice and step out anyway, we aren’t depending on ourselves. We are trusting the God of the Universe to act through us.

And that is where our fear lies. What if He asks me to something that is hard? What if I have to give up something I love? What if He uses failure instead of success to reach others and change me?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -by Marianne Williamson

Incredible.

We were created to shine. We were born to make His glory known. We were fashioned to unleash the power of God.

Being inadequate is scary.

But never saying yes is far more terrifying.