Messy Beautiful Love

A guest post from my friend, ~Darlene Schacht, The Time-Warp Wife

Darkness enveloped the sky drawing its curtain around us, while the rumble of thunder composed a symphony of sound that was carried by on the wings of the wind.

It was only 8 pm, but Michael was fast asleep. Stretched out on his recliner by the window, he dozed off while two little puppies wrestled under his chair.

The steady tip-tapping of rain made me want to curl up beside him and fall asleep too, but I had some dishes that needed to be cleared away and some laundry to do for the morning.

I wasn’t surprised to see him sleeping like that. I knew he’d be exhausted after the crazy week he just had. Working overtime every night, he was struggling to catch up at work.

And the weekend? It wasn’t much better. Since he’s been at the shop so much lately, the honey-do list was long and he was determined to get it all done.

He’s a hard worker, there’s no doubt about that. And weeks like this remind me of just how hard he pushes himself when the going gets tough.

There’s a lot of weight on that man’s shoulders. In fact, I can say that about most husbands I know. Even when they aren’t facing deadlines at work, they are dealing with the spiritual and financial responsibilities that come with leading a family.

While many of them appear to have everything under control, most of our husbands would not only appreciate encouragement from us, they would benefit from it.

Any mom who cares for a growing child knows the importance of praise in their children’s life. Not only does it help to build a healthy sense of self-esteem, it also reminds a child that he or she is loved.

In the same way, any wife who cares for her husband will also know the importance of praise in a marriage. It’s vital to a growing relationship.

Matthew L. Jacobson once wrote, “We need your affirmation – we have to have it and, oh, how we thrive with it. Typically, men are quiet about these things but that doesn’t mean we need and enjoy our wife’s affirmation any less. And every man feels it: When his woman is behind him, he can slay dragons.”

Do you realize that there are four verses in Proverbs alone that talk about nagging wives? They are referred to as quarrelsome, fretful, and a continual dripping. If you have ever experienced a leaky roof, you’ll know how annoying that is. We experienced one about 20 years ago in our back porch, and regardless of how many times I emptied the pail it would only fill up again.

That’s the danger with nagging. It becomes a never-ending habit if left unchecked, and unfortunately it festers resentment. Praise on the other hand has the reverse affect. It builds the bond of marriage and draws a couple closer together.

That’s only two of the benefits, but there are so many more. Let’s look at five of them:

  1. When you affirm him, you are affirming your love for him. Knowing that someone loves you deeply strengthens the bond of marriage. Think of it this way: we form the strongest friendships with those that we deeply trust.
  2. When you praise him for the little things he does, it’s more likely that he’ll be encouraged to repeat them in the future.
  3. When I praise my husband, whether it be in his presence or in his absence, we bear witness of our marriage covenant. Keeping in mind that marriage reflects the covenant between Jesus Christ and the church it’s important to honor our vows in the best way we know how.
  4. Kindness is an attractive quality. There’s no possible way a wife can be attractive when she’s constantly nagging her husband. Sure, you can put the pretty on, but unless you’re also attractive it wears thin. There’s nothing appealing about a critical spirit.
  5. He’ll be glad to come home. Let’s face it, the world is tough place. Many of our husbands are dealing with difficult situations at work and need a sense of relief when they walk through the door. Unfortunately, some other husbands are working with women who are building them up outside of the home. If we want a husband who is glad to come home to his wife, we can make him feel welcome by letting him know that we appreciate him, that we respect him, and that we’re glad he is with us.

You are loved by an almighty God,

~Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

Check out Darlene Schacht’s newest book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages


Messy Beautiful Love delivers an incredible testimony of grace that offers hope for today’s marriages and a spark for rekindling love.

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come that threaten your marriage. No matter how long you’ve been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God’s way, exchanging your ideas for His, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

When you surrender your relationship to God, then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as He intended. This is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. The cynical world says marriages don’t last, but God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to Him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

Want to win a copy?

We’re giving away two copies of Darlene’s book, Messy Beautiful Love. Enter to WIN a copy by clicking “Share Your Thoughts” below this post, and leave us a comment telling us something you love about your husband. We’ll randomly choose two winners. {If you’re reading this via email, click here to ENTER TO WIN by leaving a comment on my blog}

#TheBestYes Giveaway Winners

The five winner’s of my recent #TheBestYes giveaway are:
Valerie H., LaTosha, Maureen G., Marie M., Missy L.

You will each receive a copy of Lysa TerKeurst new book, The Best Yes.

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We have your emails from your entries, so my assistant Megan
will be in touch to get your mailing addresses. 

I Want to Be Brave {+ a giveaway}

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I’ve always wanted to be brave. And sometimes I am. But then there are those other times… times when I let fear, doubt and the comparison curse make me feel not-so-brave. And during those times, my feelings of “blah” and not-so-brave need a kick in the booty. Others times I need a friend to remind me I am brave. I just need to choose to “live” brave.

I invited my friend Annie Downs to stop by and be that friend for us {all} today. She’s part of the (in)courage contributor team with me, and her book about being brave just released into the world this week. All kinds of awesomeness is happening because she was brave enough to write this message; a message we all need to hear! Here’s Annie…

My friend Sarah said she never does anything brave.

She’s 37. Married. Three kids. A dog that yips too much. Her husband has a job and they live in a house.

It’s your basic suburban life, with a literal suburban as the family car.

As we sat at Starbucks, catching up while her kids were in Vacation Bible School, she asked about my new book Let’s All Be Brave and proceeded to inform me of her lack of brave.

I laughed. Sarah is one of the bravest friends I know. We’ve been in each other’s lives for years, since college, and I have watched her be brave over and over again.

Her first date with her future-husband. Brave.

Finding out she was pregnant with #2 quicker than expected (ahem). Brave.

When things got bad after her third baby, you that mama-doesn’t-have-it-in-her-to-cook-another-meal kind of bad? She didn’t run away. She cooked dinner that night and the night after. If you ask me, that’s brave.

Sarah walked away from a job she liked to raise her family. Brave.

Now she works part-time to help ends meet. Brave.

Do you see it? Do you see the brave in the every day? Do you see the moments when fear or hurt or worry could whisper so loudly that all movement halted?

Here’s what’s true about courage: being brave isn’t the absence of fear or worry;
being brave is stepping forward even when the fear still whispers.

Brave people hear the fears, they just don’t listen to them.

I laughed at Sarah. Yes, right in her face. (We’re good friends; it was appropriate.) I laughed because I know she is brave, just like I know you are brave.

There have been times when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t. There have been moments when you wanted to say no, but you said yes. There have been opportunities to stay when you knew it was right to leave. So you left.

You, my friend, are brave.

It isn’t just the ones who jump out of planes or move over the ocean that get to wear that courageous title.

It’s yours too.

And when you’ll be brave, the people around you will see that brave and they’ll choose it too. In the everyday moments, in the big moments, look for brave, choose it, and know that your people are watching and deciding to live brave because of YOU.

Let’s all be brave and watch as it changes the world.


labbAnnie F. Downs is an author, blogger, and speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. An author of three books- Let’s All Be Brave, Perfectly Unique, and Speak Love, Annie also loves traveling around the country speaking to young women, college students, and adults. Read more at and follow her on Twitter @anniefdowns.




What resonated with your heart as you read Annie’s thoughts about being brave?

Enter to win Annie’s new book, Let’s All Be Brave, by clicking “Share Your Thoughts” below today’s post and do just that.  Annie is giving away 2 copies!

This giveaway is now over, but I would still love to hear from you!

Why Women Are Hungry for Love (and a Giveaway)

This summer I’ve had the beautiful privilege of getting to know Emily Wierenga and have thoroughly enjoyed the gift of her story told in her new book  Atlas GirlEmily is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including her memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books).

In celebration of Atlas Girl’s book release this week, I asked Emily to stop by and share some of her story with us {and she offered to give a few copies away too!}

Renee Swope

by Emily T Wierenga

I tried to starve away my curves when I was nine years old.

I had my mother’s pear-shaped body, and I thought if I stopped eating maybe I could become small enough to slip into the lives of the other girls at school, the ones the boys stared at. I would douse myself with Exclamation perfume and spend my allowance on brand-name clothes and cry myself to sleep because I was starving.

And even though it got so bad that I was dying at thirteen, and hospitalized at sixty pounds, my hair falling out and my braces showing through the skin of my cheeks, I don’t know that any of us women is much different.

I don’t know that any of us isn’t hungry like this for love.

I wanted my Dad to stop preaching at the pulpit about a God I couldn’t see or taste or touch or feel. I wanted him to come and hold me, play with me, read me stories again like he used to when I was little, the scruff of his beard on my cheek, but life has a way of stealing your loved ones away from you and so I starved myself instead.

And when a friend of mine died when I was eight I hurt so bad it felt like my soul turned inside-out.

Because no one had told me you could love so hard only to lose.

So I spent my life trying not to feel because it ached too much when I did.

And then I met Jesus.

I met him after years of thinking I already had. I met him after years of calling myself a feminist and relapsing back into anorexia when I got married, after years of battling infertility and addiction to sleeping pills and drinking too much wine and never eating enough because part of me always wanted to feel hungry.

Because full isn’t safe. Full means you might start to feel comfortable, and then you might get hurt because nothing good lasts forever.

But that’s where I was wrong.

Because God is good and He lasts forever, and I met Him one day when I was twenty eight and pregnant. I was standing in worship, closing my eyes, and I saw myself as a little girl in heaven. I was wearing a white dress and running to Jesus who looked a lot like a shepherd in one of those children’s paintings.

And Jesus picked up that little girl and he spun her around and then he held her close and said, “Emily Theresa Wierenga, do you know that I love you? I love your feet, I love your knees, I love your legs, I love your arms, I love your head, I love your hair, I love you.”

And sister? He’s saying this to you too. He sees you, the little girl in you—the one who once believed she could swing so high she could touch God, who now struggles to believe He even exists. And He loves you.

Jesus offers a kind of food that will never perish. A love that will never leave you hungry.

He provided the loaves and fishes for 5,000, with twelve baskets leftover. Some would call that a waste; I call it extravagance. He’s the Savior at the well, telling the woman about a kind of feast that will never end—with living water, and living bread. Food that will fill us up forever.

So, I’m eating again.

I’m eating, and I’m no longer scared of getting full.


Emily lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. Her memoir, ATLAS GIRL, releases this week and she is graciously giving away 3 copies here! All you need to do is leave a comment under today’s post to enter the drawing! {If you’re reading this via email, click here and return to my blog to ENTER TO WIN.}

AtlasGirl.ReneeFrom the Back Cover

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

Click HERE  for a free excerpt from Atlas Girl. Emily is also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl this week. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to:, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by Emily and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

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ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go to Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree.
The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel. Find our more and connect with Emily on her blog at www.emilywierenga.comor find her on Twitter and Facebook.

But remember, before you leave, be sure and ENTER TO WIN!
Just leave a comment below.

“I Need Some Help Here” {book giveaway} WINNERS!

inshh.OrderButtonIt’s easy to feel worried and anxious as a parent. There are so many areas of your child’s life that can go wrong along the way. What’s a mom to do? In I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan Kathi Lipp meets you in your moments of panic or despair with wit and wisdom.

In each chapter, Kathi offers the most powerful tools, from prayer to practical tips, for you and your child. The book covers all of the stages of your child’s life from toddler to young adult and tackles the most common issues that cause stress and anxiety, sharing:

  • Practical wisdom when your child makes poor choices
  • How to pray when your child is running away from God
  • Comforting words fore when your child feels left out
  • “been there” advice for when your child is different than other kids

Whether you are at the end of your rope, or simply need a little extra support as you walk the parenting road, you’ll cherish Kathi’s heart, humor and experience! 

And the winners of Kathi Lipp’s new book from my giveaway post earlier this month are…
  • Missy Boone
  • Jen Manginelli
  • Jessica Hulen
  • Jane Sumner

Didn’t WIN the BOOK? No worries.
Kathi’s got a GIFT for EACH of YOU!!

5 Days of Hope for those Bad Mom Moments
A FREE 5-day Email Series
by Kathi Lipp

When You Need A Little Help & A Lot of Hope

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My friend Kathi Lipp has written a book every mom needs to read. And I promise I’m not saying that because she’s my friend. I’m saying that because {you} are! Maybe we’ve never met but, because our hearts and lives are connected through my blog or Facebook page, I see you as a friend God’s brought into my life to encourage. A friend to pray for. A friend to offer hope to and remind you of God’s truth for you.

Kathi’s book is unique and the timing of it is perfect! Over the past few months, I’ve heard from countless moms who feel guilty, overwhelmed and like a failure as a mom. They are discouraged and depleted. And I’ve been there.

One of my favorite chapters in Kathi’s book is chapter 2, Don’t Hang Out in the Motherhood Alone. Now that will preach! Gosh we need to know we’re not alone, and that our kids aren’t the only kids who struggle or make horrible choices.

Today, I’ve invited Kathi to sit across the table and give us a little help and a lot of hope for our hearts. {And if you’re not a mom I hope you’ll keep reading and share this encouragement with a mom you know!}

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 8.31.12 PMMy kitchen table has become the Confessional, only better, since I also serve banana muffins.

“My teenager is having sex.”

“I found pot in her dresser,”

“My son got kicked out of school. Preschool.”

I’ve heard it all. All of it.

And what everyone thinks is that as soon as they confess – as soon as they tell someone else about their son cheating at school, that they will automatically move from one category to the next.

They move from Good Mom to Bad Mom.

And now everything that your friend has known as fact is up for debate:

If I’m a good mom, I will raise great kids.

If I take them to church, they will grow up trusting God.

If I pray for my kids, they will turn out fine.

All the things that parenting books and Christian talk radio promised them has gone out the window, along with their sense of self and their hope for their kids. Because of a child’s lousy decision, you or your friend’s world has fallen apart.

So what do you say to the crumpled mom who feels like a mess? The one sitting at your kitchen table or looking at you in the mirror? Here are a few things that have been said to me (and I’ve said to other moms,) that have actually helped when my kids didn’t go according to plan:

  1. “Don’t judge your parenting on one bad day.” This is especially helpful when it’s a younger child who bit their teacher, hit their brother in the head with a tool box, or had to have security called at Target because they were throwing such a fit. We all think we have great kids – until they’re not. But one bad day doesn’t undo all that parenting that you’ve poured into them.
  2. “I’m still a fan of your child!” When our child has royally messed up, there is something about another adult who you admire seeing something besides “future adult delinquent” in your child that will give you hope. Let them know how smart, funny, creative and helpful their child is. It really can make a difference. And if it’s your kid, find something to remind yourself, that is good about him.
  3. “Don’t put your faith in the sheep, put it in the Shepherd.” We base the outcome of our lives on the actions of our children. Wrong. Our hope is only in God.

Psalm 25:1-3

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

When our hope is in our kids, we are slaves to shame, but when we put our hope in God there is no shame.

  1. “God has not given up on your child.” Some the greatest mentors and friends in my life were the ones who were running the furthest away from God in their teens, 20’s and 30’s and causing their parents to be on their knees constantly. God loves your child and will use other means than you to pursue his heart.
  2. “Me too.” We all need to know that we are not alone. We all need to hear the two sweetest words of community: “Me too.” Let your friend know of your failures – and your child’s failures. “Me too,” is a great sting removed to a hurting parent.

And can I say, thank you? Obviously, if your friend is confiding in you, you have done something to demonstrate that you are a safe place – a refuge. We need more yous in the world.

kathilipp-inshh-pin1ENTER TO WIN: (Thanks so much for stopping by, the GIVEAWAY is now over, but I would still love to hear from you!)
It’s easy to feel worried and anxious as a parent. There are so many areas of your child’s life that can go wrong along the way. What’s a mom to do? In I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan, Kathi meets you in your moments of panic or despair with wit and wisdom.

In each chapter, Kathi offers the most powerful tools, from prayer to practical tips, for you and your child. The book covers all of the stages of your child’s life from toddler to young adult and tackles the most common issues that cause stress and anxiety, sharing:

  • Practical wisdom when your child makes poor choices
  • How to pray when your child is running away from God
  • Comforting words fore when your child feels left out
  • “been there” advice for when your child is different than other kids

Whether you are at the end of your rope, or simply need a little extra support as you walk the parenting road, you’ll cherish Kathi’s heart, humor and experience! 

Enter to WIN 2 copies by clicking Share Your Thoughts” below!
(Thanks so much for stopping by, the GIVEAWAY is now over, but I would still love to hear from you!)
What’s one thing Kathi shared that you will tell yourself or share with a friend this week? And let us know why you’d  like to win a copy and what friend will you give the 2nd copy to if your name is chosen?


Living a Limitless Life


Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past and recognizing
His faithfulness in the present, gives us courage and hope for the future.


Thank you all so much for participating in last week’s Limitless Life” giveaway on my blog! I loved reading reading  all your comments. The 5 winners of Limitless Life by Derwin Gray are….

  • tile-limitlesslifeHeather with a email
  • Teresa Griffin
  • Cynthia Owers 
  • Galinda Barefoot 
  • Kimberly McLain

*We’ve got your email so we’ll be in touch to get your mailing address.*


I’ve got more book giveaway coming up all summer, so be sure to watch your emails for updates and let friends know. If you’re not signed up for Email Updates be sure to sign up in the top of my sidebar on my blog so you don’t miss a thing!

When Your Life Feels Like a Mess…


Do you ever feel like your days are filled with one
messy relationship and situation after anoth

During “messy” seasons, it’s easy for me to label my circumstances and myself as “a mess” and then wonder how God could ever use me, or my experiences, for good.

To protect my heart from discouragement, I often ask God to remind me of times when He has worked in ways I couldn’t have imagined, in my life and the lives of others. Recently He reminded me of Joseph’s story (Genesis 37-50). It reads like a series of very unfortunate events!

Imagine being beaten and thrown into a pit, sold as a slave and then relocated to a foreign country where you are falsely accused of a crime you didn’t commit and banished to die in prison. And to make matters worse, what if your siblings had initiated this evil against you?

That’s only the beginning of what happened to Joseph.

Looking behind the scenes of stories like his helps me see how God specializes in using messes to transform people into masterpieces of His grace. That’s exactly what He did here:

“[Joseph’s brothers] saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him … they stripped him of his robe … and they threw him into a pit” (Genesis 37:18, 23b–24, ESV).

Joseph was then taken to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Could things get worse? They did when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and despite Joseph resisting her advances, she accused him of attempting to rape her:

” … she called to the men of her household and said to them, ‘See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.’”

“As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him … his anger was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison …” (Genesis 39:14-15, 19-20a).

In Potiphar’s house, Joseph learned servant leadership and integrity; in prison, Joseph learned forgiveness, wisdom and patience. He had been wronged multiple times, yet he experienced God’s guidance through the darkness that helped Joseph get out of prison:

“And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. … And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed” (Genesis 39:22-23, ESV).

In a messy pit, the house of Potiphar and a cold dark prison, God prepared Joseph for the amazing future and role he would play in rescuing God’s people and eventually bringing his family back together.

Through it all, Joseph stayed close to God and allowed his difficult circumstances to make him more dependent on the Lord. And in turn, God molded Joseph’s character into a great and godly leader — who was humble, loving, forgiving, patient and wise.

Friend, if you are feeling like you’re in a pit right now just like Joseph was, I want to encourage you: don’t despise the mess you’re in. As you surrender to Him and seek Him with all your heart, God will do behind-the-scenes work ~ as He prepares to unleash His limitless power in and through you!

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that You are always with me, just like You were with Joseph. When I face hard circumstances, I want to lean in and depend on You for wisdom, patience and grace. In all these things, I will remember that I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

OBS Are you ready to live beyond the limits of your circumstances, fears, negative labels and regrets? If so, join our next Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study featuring the book, Limitless Life: You are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future.

It’s written by my personal friend and pastor, Derwin L.Gray. The study starts this week. Get more details and sign up here.

(Thank you for your interest in this bible study & giveaway, both are now over, but I would still love to hear from you!)


book cover.2Exchange the feeling of “being stuck” with a sense of clarity and purpose as you learn how to unleash the limitless power of God’s truth and grace in your life. I’m giving away 5 copies of Limitless Life!

Enter to WIN by sharing your thoughts about today’s post below. {If you’re reading this via email, click here to visit my blog and leave a comment to enter.}