Let’s All Be Brave – Book Review

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Book released July 15, 2014 by Zondervan

Do you tend to hide your dreams?  Scared that if you actually say them out loud, someone will laugh?  Or maybe that’s just me?

Through Annie’s journey, you will discover God’s surprising answers
to overcome fear and uncertainty, and find ways to
embrace courage and boldness in your own life.
(back cover description)

Let’s All Be Brave is an inspirational Christian book written in memoir style.  The title, cover fonts and illustration quickly grabbed my attention.

I loved Annie’s humor written into her stories of how she’s chosen to be brave throughout her young adult life transitions.  I think it would be so fun to sit with her in person sometime as I can tell she has quite the personality!  Just a few pages into her book, I found myself wondering why had I not read her books before?

This is Annie’s fourth book.  The first three were written for teens and young adult women.  Well there you go.  Those books might not benefit this “older mom of teen boys” but this book sure did.  Let’s All Be Brave is a wonderful quick read for any age reader looking to be brave.

“Courage is for every age.”

As an inspiring writer searching for her own hidden bravery, I love Annie’s chapter on Words:

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I look forward to following Annie’s advice:

Don’t be afraid.  Be brave.  Say the things that will speak truth and heal.”

Another great reminder to me that it’s time to stop hiding and start seeking.  Time to be brave.  Time to heal.  I imagine this is a book I will turn to time and again for a quick read to inspire me.  You too will love this book, and once you’re done reading it, be sure to check out Annie’s next adventure:

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I received a copy of this book from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Author Links:

Annie’s blog
Annie’s author bio and Let’s All Be Brave description (Amazon)
Let’s All Be Brave book trailer
Free 2-Chapter Excerpt on Noisetrade


We are His Workmanship

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For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them
.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

As their mom, I know I’m biased in thinking my sons are beautiful works of art.  But they are.  I know God created them to be special in their own way, and to have a lifelong impact on everyone who gets to know them.

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Ephesians 2:10 truly came alive to me the summer of 2012.  You see, my oldest son has autism.  We have been very blessed to have an amazing special needs ministry at our church.  Many have been around my son since he was very young and love him with all their hearts.

That summer the ministry provided our family a unique opportunity to attend Joni & Friends family retreat.   The Retreat serves people with disabilities and their families for a 4-night stay at a beautiful church camp near Houston.  All disabilities, and all ages, are welcome.  Each person with disabilities is assigned a short-term missionary (STM) who “serves them with Christ-like encouragement and friendship.”

This camp was a first for us, to go somewhere and have our son “buddy up” with a stranger who didn’t know anything about his disability.  Momma Bear here was a little nervous.  It’s not like we were leaving him there, it was a family camp and we’d only be separated during the day.

Well, we saw firsthand God’s people serving Him through the “good works” He is doing in their hearts.  Not only were our own (father-son team) STMs amazing, but every single person we encountered, were there glorifying God.  In my NIV study bible’s notes for Ephesians 2, it explains:

“The Holy Spirit helps us look beyond the barriers that can divide us.”

Autism is quite a barrier to my son’s communication and social skills.  And there were many others that were physically disabled as well.  But everyone came together as One and had an incredible time.  Everyone was there to serve God and spread His good Word.  Whether it was the camper with disabilities, or their STMs, their smiles and laughs were contagious.  My son especially had the time of his life and we have been blessed to attend the past 2 summers as well.

You can hear Joni Tada herself in “You are God’s Masterpiece” here on her blog.   Please join me in praising God for the “good works” He is doing through the Joni and Friends Ministry worldwide.  They celebrate their 35th Anniversary this year, and I hope our family gets to be a part of their next 35.

 


Declare Conference wrap-up

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The Declare Conference in Dallas last week was an amazing experience!  The theme this year was Wild Obedience and God showed up with mighty fine examples of what that looked like.

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**My bloggy girlfriends who didn’t attend Declare, will appreciate this overly-detailed post.  You can see all my pictures on my Instagram**

Declare is hosted by 4 incredible women being wildly obedient themselves:  Kristin Lemus, Eryn Hall, Heather McFadyen, and Michelle Acker.  They are wildly organized and the theme was seen throughout the conference in their beautiful decorations.   At Declare were 200 Christian women from all over who are following their calling from God in a variety of ways, but all within the common goal to blog to the glory of God.  I met some amazing women that I hope to keep in touch with after the conference so we can encourage each other in our own Wild Obedience.

Thursday – Learning Labs

The conference kicked off with optional 3-hour learning labs.  I chose “How to Create Blog Graphics” by the amazing Crystal Stine (@crystalstine on Twitter and Instagram).

Girl knows her graphics!  I have followed Crystal’s online encouragement for a while now and was excited to finally meet her in person.  Just as cute as you would imagine!   Crystal showed us how to use some of the popular programs for creating images for your blog and social media:  PicMonkey and Canva.

I won’t even try to cover all the info she shared – couldn’t even do it justice.  Both sites above have tutorials and you can google and find even more.  Speaking of Google, she showed us Google Fonts too.  There are tons of font options that you can load on your computer and use in the programs above.  So cool.

Apps that Crystal also uses to create graphics on her phone (available in itunes):  Rhonna Designs; Instaquote (add text to pictures for Instagram); Squareready (makes photos square shaped for Instagram).

Main Conference Kickoff

Declare featured several keynote speakers, and 4 session tracks to choose from:  Wild Words, Wildly Savvy, Wildly Proficient, Wild at Heart.  This was the hardest part of the conference.  So many good ones to choose from.  Luckily, we could mix and match our “tracks” which I did a lot.

**Note to self – bring lots of kleenex** – I think the only sessions I didn’t cry in were the ‘technical’ ones.  And run, don’t walk, to buy these audio sessions once Declare offers them!  Here are highlights from some of the sessions I attended:

Thursday night Keynote:  “Wild Inspiration”Jess Connolly

My favorite quote from her very inspiring session was “We can’t seek to be inspiring FOR God, we must be inspired BY God.”  Hello, she was speaking directly to me.  God has been speaking to me about this for a while now, but I’ve been kind of ignoring Him.  Not exactly wild obedience, huh?  Be sure to check out Jess’ beautiful graphics shop on her website too.  She also helps run the Influence Conference which is held September 25-27 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Friday morning Keynote:  “Wildly Free” Francie Winslow

I was so excited to finally meet Francie.  I’ve been following along on Francie’s blog with her God Experience book.  I love her weekly inspirational videos too.  And she signed a sweet message in my book.  My notes won’t do her justice – she is such a beautiful woman with a heart for God and I highly recommend her as a speaker for your next gathering!  Her are my favorite quotes from her message:

“To be wildly obedient I had to get Wildly Free.”
“Wounded people wound people; freed people free people.”
“Wildly free doesn’t mean wildly perfect.”
“In the revealing is our healing.”

Friday Session – “Wild Obedience – Offering What You Have” –  Logan Wolfram

I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get to her Allume conference (it’s in October in South Carolina), so I was excited to hear her speak.  Here are my favorite quotes:

“No one just ‘arrives’ at where they should be in this great adventure.”
“Before our obedience is wild to others, it has to be diligent and faithful before the Lord.”
“If we’re walking in obedience to things God is calling us to do,
we will not miss out on anything He has for us.”

Friday Session – “Wildly Savvy – Success with Facebook”Holly Homer

Holly runs the HUGELY successful Kids Activities Blog.   Girl knows Facebook and how to work it.  I don’t have a “page”, just my personal one, but I was very intrigued by her session.  She has learned what Facebook likes, and in turn helps to promote through sharing with your ‘fans’.  She recommends scheduling your posts through Facebook directly, not third-party apps.  ‘Unlikes’ are good to her.  She wants an active community, therefore this allows her to purge inactive members and create room for new active ones.  She also noted that Facebook prefers square pictures, not rectangle.  Facebook will cut the rectangle itself, which looks alot worse on mobile apps where most of our readers are reading.  She knew so much about the behind-the-scenes “Facebook Math”.  Mind blowing but you’ll want to check out more from her if that’s where you social media presence is.

Friday night Keynote:  “When Wild Obedience looks like Foolishly Following instead of Successfully LeadingLisa-Jo Baker

OH MY.  God could not have spoken more clearly to me than through Lisa-Jo that night.  I was a wreck.  Her whole message was amazing but when she spoke about her son Micah, it hit home for me.  She said “God called me wildly to be his mom”.  I had been ‘disobedient’ to God’s calling me to write about my son with autism.  I have had lots of feelings of failure as a mom to him so I haven’t wanted to go there.  She said lots of other stuff, but honestly I don’t think I can even type it without crying.  I will say “Saying no is a powerful act of Wild Obedience”.  I’m so glad she had to say no to She Speaks as I would have most likely missed her talk on memoir writing, but that “no” led to the “yes” at Declare and the message God so wanted me desperately to hear.  Her publisher, Tyndale, also gave us all a copy of her book, Surprised By Motherhood.

Saturday morning Keynote:  “The Secret Habits of Successful Bloggers – How wild obedience to small things yields big results” – Kat Lee

Girl knows about blogging!  If you don’t already subscribe to her How They Blog podcast, go now.  Among many inspiring things, Kat talked about healthy blogging habits:  goal setting (don’t compare), boundaries; value (to your readers) and faithfulness.

“God doesn’t want your qualifications, He wants your commitment.”

Saturday Session:  “Wildly Savvy – Apps & Sites to Run Your Social Media for You”Katie Orr

Girl knows how to work social media.  She does pretty much everything (blogging and social media) on her phone.  She covered a ton of info in her session:

Buffer App & Hootsuite – for scheduling posts to hit throughout the day on Twitter
But remember, you can’t “schedule” interaction – gotta show up for that.
IFTTT.com – check it out I can’t even describe all the various posting it can do for you once set up.
Latergramme – sort of a scheduling tool for Instagram
Letterglow – add text to photos
Keynote – she uses to create images on Mac (like Powerpoint).

Saturday Session:  “Why Christian Writers Should Keep Writing”Brooke McGlothlin

I was super excited to finally meet Brooke in person as I’ve followed her writing for several years.  So sweet and sincere!  As a mom to boys, she is certainly finding hope in the mess on a daily basis.  She shared from her heart, as she struggled with ups and downs as a writer.  She taught from the story of the Samaritan Woman, challenging us “What is your ‘come see a man'” story to tell?  What has Jesus done in your life that everyone needs to hear about?  Oh Gosh there was God showing up again for me through Brooke.  She made it sound so easy:  “A life bursting with Christ can change the world”.  Be sure to check out her book, “Praying for Boys”, and if you’re a P31 Compel member, recommend her for some training for us!

Session:  “Wild Obedience When You Are Fresh Out of Amazing”Stacey Thacker

Stacey was another speaker I was so excited to finally meet in person.  Just as authentic as you can imagine.  She inspired me to wildly obey the calling God has been putting on me to journal what I’m going through.  “Write it down, savor it before we say it”.  “Your journal is your sandbox” – DesiringGod.com.  Be sure to check out her book “Being Ok with Where You are” and the accompanying devotional.

Book Signings

A nice surprise for this Dallas girl was Chrystal Evans Hurst being there in attendance, and her publisher, Focus on the Family, giving us all copies of her book, The Kingdom Woman.

Final Worship

Shaun Groves provided amazing worship and gave a short, yet powerful message, before our Keynote.  He talked about the amazing sponsors at Declare, as well as his own organization, Compassion.  He said we are suffering from ‘choice paralysis’ causing us to stand still.  What’s important is that we get out there and DO SOMETHING for SOMEONE.  We can’t just worship with our music, we have to get out there and also worship by helping.  He recently wrote a blog post about this.

Final Keynote:  Kristen Welch

So fun to meet in person the author whose book, Rhinestone Jesus, I’m currently reading.  Quotes from Kristen’s inspiring keynote:

“I see a big God in the words on your blog”…that’s what we want our readers to think/say.”
“Wild Obedience is hard – there’s nothing easy about it.”  
“We are often too busy writing and sharing about obedience,
but too busy to be obedient.  YIKES that’s me!”  

“Wild Obedience starts with The Word.
If our words don’t begin with The Word, they mean nothing”

After Party

Our night ended with a root bear float sponsored by Harvest House Publishers.  They gave away copies of “The Cure for the Perfect Life” by Kathi Lipp & Cheri Gregory.  I also won a starbucks gift card so I can’t wait to go hide there and read.  It was so fun to have some ‘downtime’ to chat with my new blogging girlfriends, as well as the beautiful published authors, Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker.  Their book, Hope for the Weary Mom, is being updated and will be released in 2015 by Harvest House.  A wild obedience story there for sure!

Wild Obedience

I’ve seen it, heard about it, and felt it.  Now it’s my turn.

You can see and read more by checking out others on this link up, as well as read all the tweets and see the Instagram pics by following #declareconf.  They already have the details for next year on the Declare website – big news about that!


Declare Conference 4-by-4

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Headed here to Dallas for the Declare Conference next week?  I’m so excited to meet ya’ll!.

I love this idea of the 4×4 linkup so we can get to know each other before next week.  My most recent photo is from last week’s She Speaks conference- I’m on the left with the huge smile on my face getting a few seconds with my all-time favorite author, Lysa TerKerust, and my friend, Abby.

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4 THINGS ABOUT ME:

  1. I love Jesus, but struggle to make my relationship with Him top priority.
  2. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for 18 years.
  3. I’m mom to 2 boys, ages 14 and 16.
  4. I took belly dancing for two years in junior high.  No, really, I was good at it.  You’d never know looking at me now – ha!

4 OF MY ENDEARING QUIRKS:

  1. I cannot pass up a free kindle book offer.
  2. I do not like to cook.
  3. My choice of cable provider is dependent on the maximum number of shows I can DVR at the same time.
  4. I only watch sports if they first highlight personal stories on the athletes.

4 THINGS ABOUT MY BLOG & WRITING:

  1. It’s a work in progress (like me).
  2. I attended my first She Speaks conference last week and am so excited to immediately follow it up with my first Declare Conference. And then hopefully follow that up with lots of writing!
  3. I have a strong desire to encourage women (including myself) to get super excited about reading God’s Word.
  4. I want to write a book about some of the struggles I’m facing and/or have overcome, and am waiting patiently (well, sort of) on God’s timing for that.

4 OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

  1. Traveling with my family on new adventures
  2. Reading Christian non-fiction
  3. Papercrafting (cards, journals, canvas)
  4. Watching reruns of Friends

So now give me your 4×4, or the link to it so I can visit!  I’m praying for all of you and look forward to our time together in Wild Obedience at Declare next week!