“What have you been up to lately?”
I’ve been getting this question a lot. So I thought the blog might be a good space to answer that, and share some fresh vision for the journey ahead.
First, I’m going to tell you a little story.
A story about the time that I asked God for a “calm year.”
And he laughed…and laughed…and laughed.
2017 was a year of big change for me.
I put in my resignation at my steady job of a dozen years, stepping out on nothing other than a knowing that God was moving me forward into something new.
I spent three uncertain months waiting for God to reveal the next step, as I counted down the days to my last paycheck.
In usual fashion, God came through. I take that back—in usual fashion, He more than came through.
With just four days remaining I got a call. The call. A position that met every one of my expressed needs that I had prayed for months.
As incredible as the transition was, it was, nonetheless, change. Change that took an enormous amount of adjustment… and courage.
So when fall turned to winter and I got this feeling that more change was on the horizon, I pleaded. Don’t let it be so. Just give us one calm year.
I prayed it, even though I already knew the answer.
I prayed it, even through… I didn’t really even want it.
Why? Because I’ve realized that I cannot pray for God to do the miraculous in my life without expecting a few waves.
And oh, how I want all that God has for me.
Two job changes in one year seemed too much to bear, but the answer became clear. This time Craig stepped out, on a different word, but the same faithfulness of a loving Father.
The waves came. The boat rocked. And, honestly, it looked as though we would go down.
He knew what He was doing.
In the words of the psalmist, “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19)
What we have experienced since has been nothing short of miraculous.
Not only is Craig getting to do what he loves (AV installs), but he’s getting to travel the globe, at times, to do it. (P.S. You can follow him and all his hilarious adventure posts here.)
So if you’ve ever wondered what Craig was doing in Canada, or doing on a plane again, just know that it is all thanks to the goodness of God. He has provided opportunity above and beyond what we could have ever imagined.
We are braver. We are stronger. And we are more certain than ever about the good things God has in store for our family.
So, with all of this great change has come a whole lot of adjusting. And grieving. And learning.
So the short answer to "What have you been up to?" is just that.
As for the kids. Well, they’re growing like weeds. At times I am completely in awe of the amazing individuals they are becoming (other times I am completely tired and pulling out my hair. Because, mom life.)
We had a SUPER FUN seizing the summer-- spent a few weeks at camp, lived at the lake, and ate WAY too much free Racetrac frozen yogurt.
Many of you know our ongoing challenges with our oldest son’s special needs. I feel like I’ve spent the past two years being “Mama bear”, advocating for him.
In the spring I was disheartened at a new diagnosis—ADHD. But we've made some adjustments, and my kind-hearted, creative, smart Avery is off to a great start, in 4th grade. (HOW?)
Mr. Emory James, the steady child, is a near clone of his Daddy (in personality, anyway). He's intelligent, witty and sweet, and keeps us rolling in laughter, and always out of tape thanks to his constant “innovations”.
Now for the biggest update… the Princess started Pre-K this month! That means this mama has 6.5 hours of ALONE TIME to work for the first time in a decade. Bethany loves school, and doesn’t understand why there have to be weekends. She is our outdoor-playing, dancing, singing fashionista who seemingly never runs out of energy. Bless me.
Well, mostly I have the incredible privilege of writing for Amplio Recruiting, an awesome business that connects refugees to living-wage jobs at companies in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Raleigh.
I get to tell the stories of the beautiful, resilient individuals who make up the refugee community.
I get to tell the story of the compassionate companies leading the way in hiring them.
And I get to work with some of the most incredible, passionate people who are advocating for refugee success.
Honestly, y’all, every day I feel more and more humbled that God saw it fit to put me in the middle of one of the largest crises (and hotly debated issues) of our time.
If you believe Jesus was serious when He commanded us to love our neighbor—even if they don’t look like us, speak like us, or believe like us—then I’d love for you to give Amplio Recruiting a follow on Facebook and Instagram. New stories go up weekly, and some of them are just unbelievable.
I should probably mention (announce) they’ve commissioned me to write a book about the strong case for hiring refugees. A book. I cannot tell you how (nervously) excited I am about this opportunity!
So stay tuned—things are about to get interesting.
Outside of work projects, I had the honor of speaking at two separate events this year. Yes, I know what you’re thinking—she speaks? Yes, she speaks!
As many times as I tried to argue with God that my hands did a lot better at communicating than my mouth, I couldn’t shake the undeniable call.
This was my second year of speaking at Princess Camp at Camp Gideon. It’s always a privilege to be back at the place where God met me and changed me, grew me and empowered me.
The theme for the year was “Brave”, and in an act of bravery, we pulled back the curtains to reveal hidden areas of shame in our lives, and learned how to resist the lies of the enemy.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak at an event put on by my dear friend Anne B. Say. If you don’t know Anne, you should. She is an encourager and a catapult for the Kingdom, propelling people into their God-given callings. I spoke on “nurturing your God-given dream” to a handful of women who were so engaged and so encouraging.
With Miss. Bethany being at school, now, I have some space to write again (outside of work). And I’ve been thinking a lot about what that will look like.
This past year I’ve learned a lot of things.
Mostly, I’ve learned that I cannot put my calling in a box. I’m a communicator and a teacher, but that’s not always going to look the same.
Sometimes I write to raise awareness about causes.
Sometimes I write children's story books.
Sometimes I write website content.
Sometimes I write to inspire and encourage.
God is a creative God, and He desires for us to be creative people.
He is teaching me to be brave this year. And part of being brave is stepping out of my comfortable box.
In the past, I’ve blogged devotions and meditations on scripture, but it’s, for the most part, been shallow and safe.
I’ve lived too long in fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of what other people might think of me.
Fear of disappointing God.
But I’m busting the box, y’all.
In the coming months, you will still see devotions, sometimes, yes. But you may also read about our experience with ADHD, or tips on time management, or my biggest parent fails, or… whatever.
(Oh, and you can be sure you’ll see reviews on the latest books I’m reading.)
Whatever that looks like, my prayer is that the honest and prayerful sharing of my life would be an encouragement to you, at whatever stage you are at.
That it would drive you into a deeper trust in God, and knowledge of His Word.
That it would bring hope and light to the dark and challenging areas of your life.
That it would provoke you to think differently and live brave.
And that you would know that you are loved and worthy just as you are.
So that’s my update, and that’s what you can expect in the months ahead. While this year has been a year of great change, and great loss, I know that the best is ahead of us…
And I’m glad you’re on the journey with me.
I was gifted a copy of the CSB Study Bible for Women from B&H / Lifeway Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
Every day was the same:
1- Open Bible app.
2- Begin that day's plan assignment.
3- Get distracted by notifications.
4- Eventually finish the plan reading.
I was "checking the list", but rarely walking away with anything I could hold onto and carry throughout the day. Reading my Bible had become routine, instead of intentional.
I've been reading the Bible since, well, I could read. I knew I needed to shake things up, but I didn't know how.
So when B&H / Lifeway Publishing offered me the opportunity to review their new CSB Study Bible for Women, I was elated! I immediately jumped on the opportunity and waited for the brown box to arrive on my front porch.
And it did not disappoint.
Y'all, I'm not a great photographer, but this Bible is everything a girl wants-- practical, inspirational, informational, and beautiful.
I wanted to make sure to give it a good run before sharing. I've had it nearly two months, and I can honestly say it has rekindled my passion for the Word.
But enough babbling... let's get down to the nitty-gritty!
The CSB Study Bible for Women
(There are several beautiful binding options available. Mine is the light turquoise / sand hardcover version.)
This study Bible is written in the Christian Standard Bible translation, which is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Like most study Bibles, it features a summary at the beginning of each book, and study notes throughout to bring context and practical application to the scripture within.
This Bible is for...
Women who want to grow in their faith through a deeper understanding of God and His Word.
Why You Need It
If you want to better understand the Word without needing 16 commentaries and resources on hand, this Bible provides fantastic notes, word studies, character profiles and more created specifically with women in mind. The CSB translation is perfect for every day reading, while the study notes really bring out the meaning behind the Scripture.
Why You'll Love It
1. The translation. I really cannot say enough about this! CSB does a great job of sticking to the original meaning, while remaining super comprehensive, at a 7th grade reading level.
2. Focus. Do you currently read on a mobile device? I did too. But I found myself SO distracted. Notifications and early morning text messages de-railed my quiet time more than I'd like to admit. Going back to a "hard copy" Bible helps me minimize distractions (sans the kids) and really zero in on what God is speaking to me each day. While having the Bible on my phone is still convenient for many situations, I have enjoyed returning to the simplicity of paper.
3. Notes galore. Let's face it: the Bible can be confusing. And if you're like me, maybe you're prone to simply skip over the parts that don't make sense. If that's you, this Bible has everything from timelines to word studies, to maps to cross references to bring context to the verses, and we all know-- context is key!
The Bottom Line
If you're in the market for a new Bible, this one is a terrific option! It's both beautiful and practical and may just be what you need to breathe life back into your quiet time.
Purchase the CSB Study Bible for Women at any of the retailers listed here.
It was love at first sight.
The moment we stepped into the quaint, 1950’s ranch, we were captivated—It had to be ours.
Sure, the unsightly paneling would need painted; the outdated light fixtures, changed.
And, okay, the yard sure would need mowing and raking; pulling and pruning.
Yes, we realized the floor was off-kilter in places (as well as a few windows and walls)…
But it was all. So. Charming.
A few agonizingly long weeks later we closed on that house and it became ours. The first few days were magical—strange and new, but magical.
After a few days of painting, moving, and very little sleeping, we began to notice a few things… like the water heater, for instance.
The water heater squealed. A constant, high-pitched hum that only stopped when water was running somewhere. Hmm. That’s annoying.
Then there’s the floors.
You don’t think having completely level floors matters much, until you take into consideration putting furniture on said floors. Just because my boys bunk beds sport blue and white striped bedding doesn’t mean I want them looking like a toppling sailboat.
Oh, and the yard. Don’t even get me started.
What I thought would be “a couple days’ work” has become endless, ongoing cycle of leaf and weed removal. Humpf.
This new house has taught me a lot of lessons already, on everything from friendships to the importance of embracing the process, but lately it’s reminded me a lot of my marriage.
I don’t know about you, but at times my relationship to my husband can seem eerily familiar to my house experience. Although it was not “love at first sight” (we grew up in church together, from an early age), we began hanging out as friends in high school. I began captivated by his humor, maturity and sweet spirit. He had to be mine.
Sure, there were “little things” he did that I noticed, but at the time, they too, were charming.
Now, 11 years and 3 kids later, there are many times when my husband’s idiosyncrasies are far less than “charming”…
I like to finish projects; he’s perfectly fine with stopping in the middle to do something different.
I’m an introvert; he’s a people person to the max.
I’m not big on news and media; he feels the need to be in the know at all times.
What used to be charming can now seem more, well… annoying to be honest.
So what happened in those eleven years between charming and annoying?
The same thing that happened with our house; a sneaky little thing called “familiarity.”
Familiarity causes us to take for granted those things for which we used to be grateful for.
When our house was fresh and new (to us), I appreciated the blessing that it was to our family. Likewise, when our relationship was fresh and new, I cherished every dinner date, every sweet gesture, and every amusing quirk of my husband.
But over time, they just became the norm. Unknowingly, I became entitled, and it sucked the joy and gratitude right out of the relationship.
Entitlement. It’s easy to see it in everyone else but our self, right?
Here’s some tell-tale signs I’m struggling with entitlement:
I stress more than I connect.
I complain more than I compliment.
I sulk more than I celebrate.
Proverbs 5:18 advises husbands, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” But I think that’s a message that can apply to us all.
“Rejoice in the [husband] of your youth.”
So how do we move from frustration to appreciation? How do we fight back against familiarity to keep things fresh in our marriages?
Well, when those little quirks about my house begin to get under my skin, I remind myself of all the wonderful things it has to offer--
A cozy place to rest and recharge.
An inviting space to host friends and family.
A safe and quiet neighborhood.
A spacious, shaded yard.
Likewise, with my marriage, I can turn my focus from irritation to recognition. I can recognize that my husband…
Works hard to be a faithful provider for our family.
Keeps us laughing and light-hearted with his laid-back sense of humor.
Is an innovative thinker and problem-solver.
And so, SO much more.
It’s common for familiarity to creep into our marriages. But it’s not impossible to rekindle fresh love and appreciation for your spouse.
Here are a couple practical ways to do that:
It’s never too late to do the right thing. Begin today. Don’t allow familiarity to strip the love, joy, passion and gratitude right out of your marriage.
Pray and ask God, “What is the one thing I can do today to rekindle love and gratitude in my marriage?” Allow Holy Spirit to show you, then do it. It’s that simple.
What’s the one step you need to take today?
I received a complimentary copy of “If You Only Knew” from B&H Publishing in
exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.
If you Only Knew, by Jamie Ivey
In “If You Only Knew”, Jamie Ivey shares the candid, grace-wrapped story of her life. If you’ve ever felt like you’re too far gone for God to make something good out of your life, this story will restore hope in His ability to make all things new and to be free from the lies and shame that have held you bound.
This book is for…
Women who desire to walk in the fullness of freedom in Christ
Why You Need It
Like Jamie, I spent a lot of years feeling like God tolerated me. I had occasional glimpses of His extravagant grace, but never thought it was for me. So I strived to earn His love and pay for the sins I thought He held against me. I was a Christian, but I didn't feel the freedom that I saw in others.
What I’ve learned, and what Jamie so gracefully expresses in “If You Only Knew” is that God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance exceeds everything that we could even imagine. If you’re feeling chained by lies and shame and unable to believe the truth that God is for you, this book is a light that will illuminate the path to freedom.
Why you’ll love it…
The Bottom Line
This highly anticipated release did not disappoint! I love Jamie’s message and her vision to see women walking in the freedom Christ offers. I hope this first book isn’t her last!
With Love, Katie G.
I scribbled the phrase in black ink for the seventh time, sighed and clasped my hand, stretching it backward.
Smiling, I tidied the crisp envelopes into a pile and set them by my purse so they would not be forgotten (like the daily signing of my kids’ agendas).
I don’t know when it happened, but at some point stacks of pretty cards on my desk and frequent trips to the post office became the norm.
Somewhere in the journey I realized my words held a lot of power. At some point in the throes of motherhood I realized that if I needed someone to cheer me on, then surely others did too.
I must admit the words did not come easily, at first. I questioned whether they would be of any value to the person on the receiving end...
Until I started getting responses like, “That verse was just what I needed to hear,” or, “Your card came at just the right time.”
Confirmation that these words were hitting on real needs.
In that hidden season of motherhood, I realized I could still make a difference, right where I was. The Holy Spirit could and would use me—little, imperfect me--to lift up the people He had placed in my life. To shovel the love of God on them, and push them to be who God created them to be.
But He doesn’t just want to use me--He wants to use you, too.
Paul exhorts the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 saying, “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left behind…” (The Message)
The coolest part about God is He could do everything without us, but he chooses us to play a part in His story. There are people in our lives that need hope. And while at times I run short on other resources, the hope of Christ is a well we can draw from that never runs dry.
Whether written or spoken, encouragement is a gift that everyone can give.
All it costs is our attention.
We must be willing to slow down and be with the people He has placed around us; take note of their giftings; hear their stories; sense their pain, their discouragement; and let the Holy Spirit speak to us and through us. But that can’t happen when we’re rushing from one event to the next.
Who, in your life, needs the gift of encouragement today?
A struggling mom?
A grieving co-worker?
A discouraged husband?
Who will you slow down for long enough to hear their heart and allow the Holy Spirit to speak words of life through you?
Somebody needs a word to make them brave enough to push through fear.
Somebody needs a hand to pull them from their pit of despair.
Somebody needs to know that they are not alone, to hear the words, “I’m praying for you. I’m with you.”
Somebody needs to know that someone else believes in them.
Be that somebody.
Type a text.
Write a card.
Open your mouth.
Send an e-mail.
Meet for coffee.
You are a vessel to get God’s love, hope, and encouragement into the world.
This is an unsponsored review post about "31 Day Create: Discover and Strengthen Your Creativity", by Jenny Randle. All opinions are mine.
If you follow me on social media, you know there are few things I love more than a new book. And when one of those is highly impactful, I consider it somewhat of a "responsibility" to share about it.
But beyond just sharing a pretty graphic from time to time, I thought it’d be fun to post an occasional blog review of my favorites. And I can't think of a better book to kick it off with than my friend Jenny Randle's latest book-- an interactive devotional to help you rekindle your creativity.
If you're like me and 77% of adults, you probably feel like your creativity has dwindled with age. And you'd be right. But where did we go wrong? And is there any hope to restore the creative genius that once was?
Jenny says, "Yes."
Listen, friends: As a person who's been "burned" by many sub-par devotionals, I'm not exaggerating when I say this one exceeded my expectations.
So get your Amazon Wish List ready and read more to learn why this book needs to be on your shelf.
"31 Day Create: Discover and Strengthen Your Creativity" by Jenny Randle
A 31 day interactive devotional book aimed to help you discover and strengthen your creativity. Each day features a short message and a creative challenge that will take you about 7-10 minutes to complete.
This book is for...
Hobby or career creatives such as...
(Psst...With May around the corner, this would make a great gift for a high school graduate!)
Why You Need It
Studies show that 77% of adults feel like they’ve lost their creativity. Are you one of them? I was.
As sons and daughter of the Creator, we were created to create, but many of us find ourselves feeling stifled. Jenny Randle approaches this real-life dilemma from a sound Biblical perspective, offering practical advice and encouragement to help you revive and nurture your God-given creativity in just 15-20 minutes a day for 31 days.
Why You'll Love It
1. It's spit-your-coffee-out funny. Like really funny.
From her story about “Fancy Dude”, to her reference of “sinking like Katy Perry’s left shark in the super bowl”, Jenny is HIL-AR-I-OUS. Be warned that you may bust out laughing uncontrollably at any given page turn.
My favorite has to be her failed attempt at a once-in-a-lifetime shot to break into “the voiceover career I didn’t even know I wanted” but instead… “sounded more like a squeaky Bart Simpson who just finished drinking four cups of coffee, then got mauled by bears.” (pg. 152)
2. It's a calorie-free treat.
I’m the kind of gal that’s motivated by rewards (read: chocolate and naps). This book didn’t feel like work, it felt like a treat. The “challenges” were fun and served as sort of a “brain break” in the middle of my otherwise routine day.
3. It's packed with truth.
I love encouragement. I love it more when there’s substance to it—meaning it’s rooted in the truth of God's Word.
Imagine my delight to discover that "31 Day Create" is packed with Scripture! From the Biblical foundations of creativity, to overcoming fear and setting healthy boundaries, to walking out your calling, Jenny gives creatives a sound guidebook for the journey.
My "Aha" Moment
“You are a proven miracle and a masterpiece… so own it! Not in an arrogant way, but in a way that glorifies God.
You have unique gifts, and the world needs your perspective, passion, and your talent. Embracing your uniqueness, whether it’s your smarts, quirkiness or aspirations, can help you understand your role as a child of God.”
–Day 21, page 135
The Bottom Line
This book gets 5 out of 5 sticky gold stars from me. As a gal who’s trudged my way through many devotionals over the years, this one was sheer delight from beginning to end. Jenny Randle is playing an integral role in pointing creatives to the freedom God intended for them to walk in.
Make an investment in your creativity-- you can grab this book on Amazon for $17.97
I’ve always loved warm conversation with a friend over a great cup of coffee. Don’t you?
Over the years I’ve probably spent hundreds of hours (and even more dollars) investing in this very necessary quality time.
But a couple of years ago I began to recognize a pattern. Each time I met with these friends I talked about the same things. The same problems. The same goals. The same desires…
But nothing ever really changed.
Sure, life changed. Houses changed. Even the friends across the table changed-- but I wasn't getting anywhere. I was in a rut, and I knew it. And I was tired of it.
I’m pretty sure God was tired of it too. How do I know? He put an idea in my heart one day as I sat, pouring out my frustrations before Him once more.
You need a mentor.
I did not love that thought. As an introvert who struggles to make new friends, I battled with the concept of “finding a mentor”. Whatever that meant.
Who would I ask?
How would I ask?
Was it even important enough to bother?
I prayed: Lord, if this is really you, show me who that person is supposed to be.
Oh, the old “God, if this is really you” prayer. We Christians love it because we use it to postpone doing what we already know He’s commanded us to do.
Not this time.
Almost instantly a friend’s name came to mind. And it made sense. She was a wife and mom, a couple steps ahead of me in the parenting stage; a known respected leader in ministry at our church; and, well, we simply had a lot in common.
But how do you ask someone to be your mentor?
I always joke that if my life had a tagline it would be, “Katie Gibson: Being awkward since 1985”, Needless to say I was hesitant to follow through.
I allowed fear to cripple me. Just like it had been for years. Just like God wanted me to learn to overcome, with the godly wisdom, encouragement and accountability found in a mentor.
I ran from what I knew I was supposed to do.
I ran, like so many who have gone before me. Jonah. Elijah. Peter.
But here’s the good news: Even when we run, God chases us down.
But here's the good news: