Category Archives: Interviews & Conversations

Be just and merciful. Be inspired.

be inspiredAs part of our month-long be inspired series, here’s one more conversation from the archives with Erina Ludwig, a Londoner now living in Indianapolis. Erina is  half of the musical duo The Yellow Kites (with her husband Kendall) and is the author of Unnoticed Neighbors: A Pilgrimage into the Social Justice Story. 

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1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice? www.bohemianredimages.com

When I hear the words biblical justice it conjures up images of divine wrath but also an unyielding desire to see every human being flourish.

I am in no way tied to rules for the sake of keeping up appearances. I don’t do things because they’re written down somewhere. I find compassion is written in my very core and I am moved to action because of it. I see us, human beings, as being capable of so much and yet bypassing it for other trinkets. And so biblical justice is remembering we’re all walking this earth together, to remember each other, to be kind, to feel anger but let it go and for the love of all that makes us human, to treat others with respect and dignity regardless of how different they are.

The few stories we have of Jesus’ dealings with people in the Bible best capture that desire. The woman caught in adultery and dragged to Jesus’s feet and his delicate but divisive response makes me cheer. He knew how to love others and what right to be done to them.

unnoticedneighbors2. Injustice in our world can seem so overwhelming and discouraging. Ever felt that way? And how can we overcome discouragement & inertia and move forward into hopeful action?

I have a quarterly crisis throughout the year as I try and work out how we get out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves here in life. I feel overwhelmed and simply weep. I used to think that was a pointless response, but I have since learned it means my heart is still soft and still feels — which is legions better than a calloused old beater! I think it’s best to pick one thing that hits you in the guts and makes you want to vomit. Grab a hold of that injustice and start working towards chipping away at it. Remember what we do won’t always be explosions in the sky, but every act of kindness counts and changes this world we live in. (Whether it wants to be changed or not.) Continue reading

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Be Inspired — Faith in and through Tragedy

be inspiredNext in this month’s be inspired series is another great conversation from the archives — a 2011 interview with Christina Schofield. She’s an illustrator and a writer; her book, My Life and Lesser Catastrophes — An Unflinchingly Honest Journey of Faith, tells the story of how a tragic motorcycle accident radically changed the trajectory of her life and challenged her faith.

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Chris, I’m so glad to introduce you to my “friends.” Can you tell them a bit about yourself?

I was born the youngest of four to a gentle, humble Swedish preacher in a tiny Midwestern town. I doodled and passed notes all through my school days, so kind of stuck with it for a profession. The last fifteen years or so, I’ve illustrated and written stuff for mostly Christian publishing companies. I’m married to a campus minister (Allen) and we have a seven-year-old daughter, Lily. If my days were a pie chart, it would look like this: Taking care of the fam’ (including two cats that hate each other and a neglected beta fish): 30%, Driving people places—30%, Making sandwiches—30%, Work, house-cleaning, and pretty much everything else combined—10%.

I’m very excited about your book, My Life and Lesser Catastrophes, that is coming out this summer. For my readers who don’t know your story, can you tell us what your book is about?

Not quite four years ago, my husband and I were in a motorcycle accident. I was okay, but he broke his neck and was left paralyzed. The book is kind of a walk through that ugly-faith journey — picking up the pieces and saying that God is good even when my life is bad!

This month we’re looking at the discipline of life-change. I imagine that the extreme difficulties you and your husband have lived through recently have been a catalyst for some serious self-examination. What has God revealed to you about yourself through this challenging season?

Initially, came the question, “WHAT? How could you let this happen, God? I thought we were friends!” There was instant perspective — a lot of things I had desired goal-wise  I immediately realized didn’t really matter compared to the pursuit of God and getting my family well. The next challenge was coming to terms with the fact that God still loves me even when I have nothing to offer him in return. I’ve spent most of my life struggling to “perform” for him, do my best stuff to win his approval and/or impress people. There is a sort of peace that comes when you hit rock bottom and realize, “Wow. He loves me still.”

What else has God revealed to you about himself through this painful journey?

His love of broken things. We avoid brokenness at all cost, but God views it differently than we do. Psalm 52 says a broken spirit is what He actually desires. Psalm 34 says he is near to the broken-hearted, and I’ve found that to be totally true! He is much closer than I ever realized! If you let that get in you good, if you let God open your mind to what he thinks is a big deal I mean, it helps you see people through new eyes.

Scripture tells us that God’s grace is sufficient. Of course this doesn’t mean the difficulties in our lives go away if we trust God! How have you experienced this promise?

Allen was in hospitals for about two months. Shortly after we got back, I had a phone call on the answering machine from an old friend who had been struggling with addictions and family problems and spiritual problems. I had really kind of been overwhelmed with our friendship before Allen’s accident because I didn’t know how to help her. I put off returning her call and she died shortly after of a drug overdose! I felt terrible! I confessed to God, “How do I do this? How can I help others when I feel so burdened myself?” I felt like He was urging me to “do it broken.” To let His strength pour through my smallness, weariness, brokeness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). He has done that in some really cool ways!

 How can we be praying for you and your family?

Please continue to pray for Allen’s healing, strength, rest, and peace! For wisdom in raising Lils, that she will grow up to love and worship God. Lately, I’ve been praying that God will get all the stuff out of us that keeps us from being completely his. I pray it with hesitation because I know that can be painful! (But necessary.) Thanks! We love getting prayed for!

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Check in each week this month for more stories from women whose faith, ideas, and love will inspire you! 

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Be Missional, Hospitable . . . and Inspired!

be inspiredThis june, be inspired by some amazing women. Women of faith who are thinking deeply, living abundantly, loving fully. This week, I’m excited to repost an interview I did with Helen Lee back in 2011. Helen is the author of  The Missional Mom and here she shares her thoughts about missional living and hospitality.

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helenlee-07b-1024x682-150x150Helen, so glad to introduce you to my “friends.” Can you tell them a bit about yourself?

Kelli, I’m honored to be interviewed on your blog! As for an introduction, I am a homeschooling mom of three boys 9 years old and under; wife to classical pianist Brian Lee, and co-founder  Best Christian Workplaces Institute. Not all at the same time, of course. =)

You’ve written a book called The Missional Mom. Where did the idea for this book begin for you?

To understand my motivation for writing the book, we have to go back nine years, back to when I was a new mom with the first of my three boys. When I became a mother, as much as I loved and treasured my new baby boy, I have to confess that I found the transition to motherhood very challenging. It wasn’t just the physical changes that you go through as a mother, but it was also an internal struggle for me. I found myself wrestling with so many questions about what my life was supposed to be like now that I was a mom. Such as:

• Was motherhood supposed to be my only calling in life?

• What was I supposed to do with my experiences and education that God had given me before I was a mom?

• Why did the idea that I was supposed to completely immerse myself in motherhood and nothing else feel uncomfortable to me?

And the very process of asking these questions brought feelings of guilt, that I was a bad mother to be even asking these questions! So it was a very confusing time. As a writer I knew that to work through these questions, I’d need to write about it.

How would you define the term “missional”? What does it mean to live with a missional mind-set?

There has been so much written about this word that it’s daunting to try to encapsulate it into a few sentences! But for me, being missional means to embrace your calling as God’s missionary in whatever context he has placed you, and embracing his mission for you as your primary calling in life. For the Christian mother, who often mistakenly assumes that once she becomes a mom that motherhood is supposed to be her primary calling in life, I feel as though the missional perspective offers a great corrective.

Once you become a mom, your mission does not change! You are still primarily called to be God’s witness (locally and globally) and disciple-maker, and of course your home is a big context in which that happens. But by no means is it intended to be the only one. Embracing a missional perspective as a mother means that you understand your primary calling as God’s ambassador in this world, and you integrate motherhood into that calling.

And, as Scot McKnight explains so succinctly in the book, being missional is about asking a simple question: “How can I help you?” Mothers have so many opportunities to ask that question in their daily walks of life. In their neighborhoods, in their children’s school, in their workplaces–asking the question means you are taking a proactive posture and initiating in people’s lives rather than retreating into one’s own home life and ignoring the needs around you. Being a missional mom means the opposite of only focusing on one’s family; it means embracing God’s call to have an impact on the world around us, and helping our families to also be a vehicle God uses to help, serve, and love others.

Who’s somebody (or more than one person) who’s a “hero” to you when it comes to missional living? How or why does this person’s example inspire you?

My book is a collection of the stories of so many “heroes” who inspire me towards missional living. Women such as Arloa Sutter, founder and executive director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, who started the ministry out of a desire to be obedient to God’s call to love those who are poor, and whose obedience God used to build a ministry that now touches thousands of people in Chicago. The thing is, Arloa did not know when she first began that her initial steps of reaching out to others would result in a ministry the size and scope that Breakthrough is today. But she embraced the calling that God had given her, step by step, day by day, and now she can look back and see how God has used her offerings of time, talent, and treasure in tremendous ways.

I’m not just inspired by women like Arloa who have built a tangible ministry, however; any time I hear about a mom in particular who demonstrates an obedience to the call of God to be His witness and disciplemaker, I feel a sense of awe and wonder.

In your own experience, how does missional living relate to hospitality?

Hospitality is clearly a missional value, in my mind. However, by “hospitality” I don’t just mean that we have pristine, guest-ready houses offering gourmet meals. Hospitality in the missional sense means that you are taking initiative in other people’s lives, that you are willingly embracing discomfort to build relationships with those who are different from you, that you are recognizing that all our possessions are not ours in the end, but the Lord’s to be used for the purpose of connecting with others. Hospitality ultimately means welcoming the stranger, and even bringing them into your family, such as in adoption. I think it is very difficult to live missional lives without reflecting hospitality in some way in and through our families.

 How can a woman, whether or not she’s a mom, begin to see each day differently — through a “missional” lens?

In my mind, living missionally is all about having an outward orientation in our lives, as opposed to continually being focused on our own lives, homes and families. As Rick Warren so famously says in The Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about you.” And how right he is. But we so easily get caught up in the fallacy that it is about us, or our kids, or our spouses. Christians, however, are a called people, called to God and to his mission in the world. Living a missional life is all about claiming–or reclaiming–the basic essence of who God has made us to be.

Thanks, Helen! You can learn more about Helen at her site www.themissionalmom.com and you can join in the conversation at the Missional Mom facebook page.

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Stay tuned, readers, for more in the be inspired series!

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Be Inspired! Conversation with Julia Roller (part 2)

Be inspired! I’m excited to launch a special focus in June featuring interviews with Christian women whose stories, thoughts, ideas, and choices inspire me—and will inspire you—to love more deeply, to seek God more passionately, and to live more abundantly.

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To kick things off, we’re continuing the conversation with Julia Roller about motherhood and the spiritual life. (Click here to read part 1 – you’ll love it!). Julia’s new book Mom Seeks God honestly depicts the ups and downs—and the hidden beauties—of her journey as a mom toward experiencing God in new and different ways.

At the end of this post, read how you can easily enter a drawing to win a free signed copy of Mom Seeks God as well as a free, signed copy of my Bible study guide Awaken Your Soul!

Here’s part 2 of our conversation.

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Your book Mom Seeks God chronicles your experiences with different spiritual disciplines & practices and how they fit (or sometimes don’t) with the reality of motherhood. How has your faith-life (practices, etc.) grown and changed as a result of being a mom? What practices or disciplines seem to “work” best for you in this stage of life?

Julia Roller lowres

My faith life has changed in many ways, most of them for the better. I find that I see God more easily these days, in my children as they grow and learn, in my husband, in those around me. I feel less pressure to get everything right and more of a feeling of confidence that God can make beautiful things out of my broken and imperfect efforts.

 

The disciplines that are most dear to me right now are some of the disciplines of abstinence (of taking away rather than adding): simplicity, silence, fasting (from all kinds of things in addition to food). One of the overall things I realized after that year was that I was trying so hard to DO MORE. In order to be a better parent, to be a stronger Christian, I thought I had to add more stuff to my list—more activities, more books, more prayer, more time. No wonder I felt so exhausted all the time!

It surprised me how much I benefited from and felt close to God through the disciplines that involved doing less. As I was able to turn things off (in the practice of silence), give something up in order to increase my focus on God (fasting) and try to do one thing at a time (simplicity), I found that I was able to open up some space in my life to slow down and listen for God’s voice.

Mom Seeks God jacketWhat practices or disciplines might you recommend for other moms to try–especially those who may be new to the idea of spiritual disciplines?

Prayer is always a great place to begin. I think we often put prayer off—to a time when we have more time, when we have quiet, when we can really focus. For moms, that time may never come! I am a big fan of praying short prayers in the moment. When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do it right then. When I find myself in a moment of frustration or anger, I try to take time out to pray right then. This gets easier with practice. I also encourage moms to look for that time of day that can be the best time for them to have a consistent daily time with God. For me it’s at night before bedtime; I know for many other moms, the early morning works best. I love the idea of coming before God when I am at my best and since I am a night owl, for me that time is at night, when I can reflect on my day and look forward to the next one.
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A Blessed Collision — Mom Seeks God (part 1)

Friends, to wrap up our “Be Mom” focus in May and to launch into our “Be Inspired” series for June, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Julia Roller. She’s recently written a great new book looking at two of my very favorite topics: that blessed collision between motherhood and spiritual disciples. It’s called Mom Seeks God. Join me for a two-part conversation with Julia about the spiritual side of motherhood.

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Julia, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Julia Roller lowresMy husband, Ryan and I have two boys, ages 4 and 7, and live in San Diego, where we are often busy driving to (seemingly) every soccer and baseball practice and game in town. I love reading so much that I do it while I’m cooking (which is probably why I almost invariably burn the garlic bread). I often wish I were more crafty, but alas, I use Pinterest mainly to find quotes about reading and new ways to trick my children into eating vegetables.

I love the title of your new book, Mom Seeks God, because it sort of describes my everyday life. Can you tell readers more about your book? What motivated you to write it?

You receive a lot of warnings about life after becoming a mom—you’ll be so tired, so covered in spit-up that you won’t even care that you may never lose the baby weight, etc.—but no one ever warned me that becoming a mom might lead to a time of spiritual dryness. As much as the incredible love I felt for my new baby taught me about the inexhaustible nature of God’s love for us, I also struggled to feel connected with God after becoming a mom because my new life seemed to leave little time for prayer and Bible study the way I had practiced it before. Mom Seeks God is the story of my journey to figure out how to reconnect with God in the middle of the busy life of a mom with small children.Mom Seeks God jacket

Yes, I totally get that. The same experiences led me to write a book too! Like you, initially, as a new mom, I found my spiritual desires sort of colliding with the reality of motherhood. The practices I wanted to do didn’t seem to fit with my reality. What are some of the specific struggles or spiritual challenges you faced as a new mom? Continue reading

Leah Kostamo: Care and Keep

In honor of Earth Day today, I’m excited to welcome author and conservationist Leah Kostamo. Leah’s book Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community tells the story of her and her husband’s pioneering Christian environmental stewardship work in Canada. She’s a transplanted Arizona girl, a mom, and–as I discovered as we laughed and talked–a kindred spirit. Join our conversation . . . 

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leahheadshotLeah, let’s start by hearing a bit about what you do in your work.

About 10 years ago we started the first Christian environmental center in Canada with A Rocha, an international Christian organization that works in 20 countries around the world. For people who haven’t been to our center before, I describe it like a youth hostel meets the Sierra club and then wrap that all up with Christian hospitality on an organic farm.

We focus on doing three things: First is environmental education. Then we do conservation work—basically just studying the habitat where we are and working to preserve it. (We’re on a stream that has four species of salmon so we do a lot of work on the stream). And then the third thing we do is we have a big organic garden and we have an organic box program where about 100 families get food from our farm, along with food banks and other means of help for those in poverty.

On my blog this month, we’ve explored environmental stewardship from several angles. I realize not everyone is as enthusiastic about this issue as you and I are, Leah! So if you were talking with someone who had concerns or was skeptical about the idea of environmental stewardship, what would you most want to say to that person?

 I would start with Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” That’s our starting point. I think it is also important to primarily use the word creation instead of environment because “creation” assumes a “Creator.” If there’s a Creator, then we turn to the biblical narrative in Genesis and see that it assumes stewardship. The two words used in Genesis 2 are care and keep. These are the same words used in Aaron’s blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” It’s critical that we understand this is God’s charge to humanity: to care and keep creation. Continue reading

Present and Loved: Meet Margot Starbuck

Being present to life, to loved ones, and especially to God all ends up being connected to deeper issues inside of us. How do we see and know God as God really is? What do we understand about ourselves and who we really are? I’m so excited to invite you in on a conversation with a fabulous writer, Margot Starbuck. Margot is the author of several books, including her brand new title: Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God.

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MS_square_photocredit_Scott FaberMargot, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Sure. I’m a word nerd; I’m the author of five books and love speaking to audiences around the country. I live in Durham, North Carolina, where I’m a mama to three fabulous kiddos—ages 12, 13, 15. So when I’m not inspiring audiences, I’m yelling at them to pick their stinky socks up off the floor and to stop leaving Flaming Hot Cheetohs wrappers in the den. I can also be found cheering at soccer games, baseball games & volleyball matches.

Untitled-19I love the title and subtitle of your new book: Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God. What is it now that most surprises you about God or God’s love?

I’d say the biggest surprise is the way in which God’s love is different than our human experiences of it.

We catch glimpses of God’s gracious face, God’s steadfast listening ear, in the faces of those around us but, by nature, no human being can love us perfectly.

Still, we learn what it means to be in relationship with an “other”—in God’s case, a holy other—from the faces around us. We learn whether we’re worth showing up for and sticking around for. And, unwittingly I think, we project that onto God.

My biggest surprise was discovering—in my BONES—that God’s gracious face, God’s love, is categorically different than what I’d received from humans. It doesn’t mean I don’t see those peeks of God’s face in others, but it does mean that I’ve encountered a reliable presence who does not fail.

This month on my blog we’re looking at the theme “be present”—at how we can live more attentively to God’s presence in our lives and, more broadly, at how we can really be rather than just skate through life. How do you most naturally connect with or experience God’s faithful, loving presence in your life?  Continue reading

On Guts, Garbage, and Abundant Grace

We need grace for the brokenness, sin, pain, and garbage in our lives. And, thankfully, God gives us grace abundant! In and through this grace, we find the courage to share our grace-story. And boy, does it take courage!

One person who absolutely embodies such courage is Elisabeth Klein Corcoran. She’s walked through a lot of difficulty in recent years as she has journeyed through marital separation and then divorce. And yet God’s sustaining grace has enabled her to use her own story to minister to others. She is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging On to Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other book and article (like this gutsy, honest TCW article.)

Have you ever wondered how God can use your past, your pain, your failures, or your brokenness? Keep reading . . .

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1940242_10202979925681396_1861604236_nElisabeth, tell my readers about yourself!

I have been writing and speaking for about thirteen years.  I’m a single mom to two great teenagers.  I seriously have the best girlfriends in the world. I love my church, my home, my dog, and going for bike rides (if spring will ever come back!).

This month we’re talking about grace on my blog. What’s one way you’ve experienced God’s grace at work in your life recently?

Over the past three years of walking out of my marriage through a difficult separation and a painful divorce, grace was withheld from me by other believers, more than I’d like to acknowledge. I’ve had people who say they believe in God look me in the eye (or metaphorically look me in the eye when they sent me an email or posted a comment on my blog) and tell me they disapproved of me or asked me why I hate men or questioned my salvation. Really harsh stuff. And in those moments, every single time, it did damage to my soul. And in those moments, you’d think that my heart would’ve just grown harder or colder or I would’ve put my guard up. But what ended up happening – only because of the goodness and sweetness of God – is that he used the pain that I received over and over when grace was withheld from me to make sure that I became a person who didn’t withhold grace from anyone, even on non-divorce-related issues. And I am so grateful to say that I have really grown in this area, showing grace to people and in situations that the old me never would have. It’s ended up being a really beautiful gift.

1620115_10202982464304860_871306973_nYou recently wrote the book Unraveling which candidly chronicles your painful journey through a difficult marriage and then through divorce. What gave you the courage to share such an honest and raw story — and to face some of the really hurtful feedback you’ve had to deal with?

I had three sources of courage to write so openly about my story. Continue reading

The Hard Work of Worship — Sharon Hodde Miller

As we wrap up January’s theme “Awaken Your Soul,” I’m excited to invite you into a conversation with Sharon Hodde Miller. Sharon is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog and has written for a variety of other resources including Relevant and Today’s Christian Woman. Her blog, She Worships, zeroes in on a critical theme we’ve been looking at this month: worship.

Welcome, Sharon! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

DSC_0886(1) copyHello everyone, and thanks Kelli for inviting me to be here!

I guess I’ll share a few highlights. I am a southern gal. My husband and I are both from North Carolina, but we moved to the Chicago area about 3 years ago for school. Now we’re both working on our PhD’s and raising our 17 month-old son, which means that our lives are a lot of fun and also totally insane.

In between all that, I write.

Your blog has the theme “She Worships.” Why did you pick that focus? What does it mean to you?

I started my blog about 7 years ago. At the time I was teaching and discipling college women, and I wanted another avenue to reach and encourage them. That’s how I began blogging, and eventually it morphed into a larger ministry to women (although a lot of men read my blog too!).

As for the title, I picked “She Worships” because it’s what we were all created for. If you could boil our existence down to one thing, that is it. Romans 12:1 tells us that worship is not confined to the walls of a church, but is instead a lifestyle. Everything we do, from Sunday morning hymns to marriage, to parenting, to going to the grocery store, to cleaning the toilet — it can all be an expression of worship.

I have tried to write my blog with that broader theology in view. I cover a lot of topics, but all with an eye to worshiping and glorifying Christ. 

What has God been teaching you lately about worship?

Lately God has been teaching me just how hard it is. Not hard in the sense that it’s grueling, but in the sense that it is not the natural inclination of my flesh.

Actually, when I think about it, my flesh IS inclined to worship, but it is not inclined to worship God. Instead, I find myself constantly tempted toward lesser, false gods.

I have found that if I don’t keep the gospel directly before me, I will chase after other things: the approval of others, my own fame, a comfortable life, etc. Continue reading

Pain in the Background

Behind all the joyful smiles, for some the holiday season is a deeply painful season. Perhaps it is because of loneliness, painful family memories, or loss. If you are suffering during this season of celebration, you are not alone!

A few years ago my friend, author Holley Gerth, stopped by to talk about what it means to celebrate even when life is difficult or painful. I hope this excerpt from our 2011 interview provides you with hope.

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(From December 2011)

Holley-pic-NEW-2You may have heard of Holley Gerth — she’s got a hugely popular blog called “Heart to Heart with Holley.” She’s the author of Rain on Me, God’s Heart for You, and You’re Already Amazing. She’s also created thousands of greeting cards and gifts for DaySpring, the Christian subsidiary of Hallmark and is the cofounder of their web site for women, (in)courage. Holley shares her heart and home with Mark and a crazy dog.

I’m sure you’ll be encouraged and inspired by her honest words.  Keep reading . . . 

Holley, tell my readers about yourself!

I love chocolate, coffee, my husband, and Jesus (not in that order). I’m not a morning person—I once put chocolate on the alarm clock to bribe myself to get up. I ate it and went back to bed. Yes, ma’am. But I married an early bird so I’m learning to change my ways. I’m named after my Grandpa Hollie. He and my Grandma had a  Christian bookstore so I grew up dreaming of being a writer. Being able to share God’s heart with women through words is my passion and I feel so grateful to be able to do so every day. It’s the next best thing to having coffee with all of my readers—which I would do if I could!

This month we’re looking at the twin spiritual disciplines of worship and celebration. In a very basic sense, I define them as praising and thanking God for who he is (worship); and praising and thanking God for what he does (celebration). Why do you think these disciplines are important?

Our church service last night was actually about worship and how it transforms us. The pastor talked about how closely the word “worship” is related to “service” in Greek and Hebrew.Over time I’ve come to see worship not as what we do at church but as a lifestyle of serving Jesus. To me, worship means bowing our hearts to God and saying, “I’m your servant. Use me as little or as much as you want.” That’s actually the prayer I say each morning as I get ready to write. I’ve also started writing what I’m thankful for in a journal each day. I use an unlined journal and draw all kinds of crazy pictures and things. But it works for me.

I recently read that our brains have a natural “negativity bias.” In other words, we tend to focus on and remember what’s negative better. That is a gift from God to help us survive (for example, focusing more on the bear charging out of the woods than the lovely flower behind it). But on a day-to-day basis, it means that we have to be intentional about refocusing our hearts and attention. We don’t need to feel guilty about our tendency to be negative but we do need to recognize it and change it through worship and gratitude. What’s amazing is that our brains literally rewire themselves as we think new thoughts. We actually create new neural pathways and are “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Isn’t that beautiful?

Wow — Yes! Celebration can take many forms — gratitude, joy, prayer, praise, feasting, and more. When has celebration made a difference in your life?

I feel like this has been a year of learning to embrace joy in my life. Continue reading