Do Small Things Matter for Eternity? {Rhinestone Jesus Book Review}

Rhinestone Jesus Book Review Sometimes I wonder if what I do really matters. I’m a wife and a mom. I write blog posts and newspaper columns. I do laundry and give the dog baths. I teach a weekly Bible study. I consult with small businesses and help develop social media strategies.  And I read a lot of books.

My life is pretty small. I don’t say that disparagingly or with any shame. I have a great life — a husband who loves me, a daughter who brings us so much joy, an encouraging family, the best friends, an awesome church, and work I love.

But still, sometimes it feels small. Other women do bigger things — traveling across the globe to tell stories of the poor and oppressed, speaking a message of hope to thousands of women, writing best sellers that challenge us to know Him more.  Other women have bigger stories — marriages that have withstood betrayal and heartbreak, mothers who face challenges I cannot begin to understand, bodies and hearts who have dealt with emotional and physical abuse I cannot begin to fathom.

And then there’s me …

The girl who Instagrams waaaaay too many photos of her crazy dog. The speaker whose favorite piece of advice is, “Go ahead! Take a nap!” The entertainer who loves to tell a great story that makes people belly laugh. The homemaker whose nemesis is laundry. I don’t do big things. I’m not even sure I aspire to them {unless you count being caught up on laundry as a big thing in which case I definitely have seriously big dreams}. So here I sit in my kitchen listening to cars drive by and children play and dogs bark in my small town … and I wonder, can the small things I do have eternal meaning?

Enter Kristen Welch, one of my favorite bloggers. I love her because she really appreciates the hilarity of that time my husband got locked in the bathroom and had to climb out the tiny window — surprising me when he entered the room where I was frantically trying to unlock the door with a screwdriver. {Yes, that little escapade won me a “one of THOSE families” necklace!}

But Kristen is more than a blogger. She is the consummate storyteller. She makes me laugh and cry and inspires me all the time in a thousand ways.

And now Kristen has written her second book, Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough.  I literally read the book in 24 hours. I could not put it down. I underlined and wrote it the margins.  I stopped to pray several times.  This book is the story of Mercy House, a ministry birthed from a blogging trip with Compassion International. This book is the story of a marriage redeemed and made stronger.  This book is the story of children and chaos. This book is the story of a woman who was willing to say yes to God in the middle of her mess.

But most of all, this book is the story of a God who looks at us in all our smallness and says, “Yes, those things you do, those things you think are small, they matter. They matter to Me and they matter for eternity.”

I told you my life seems small. But here’s what I didn’t tell you …

I believe all these things I do like helping my husband and encouraging my daughter, investing in the women in my church, serving in my community … they are not small!

It all matters. It’s me saying yes to God in the middle of my mess.  It’s me, knowing marriage is hard work and saying, “I’m in this for life. No matter what.” It’s me, realizing the years of my daughter living in our home are rapidly ending saying, “I choose to stay home to attend ball games and make spirit sticks because this is where God calls me right now.”  It’s me, gathering in a room every Wednesday night for the past two years with other women and opening the Word knowing I’m not equipped to teach from Genesis through Revelation but trusting God to give me the words and finding He is faithful. {By the way, this sweet group of ladies has studied from Genesis through Daniel and we will start on Hosea next week. I think we’ll be finished with the whole Bible by 2016 … and then they asked if we could start over again! Glory!}

Saying yes to God isn’t about what we have or how much we can do. Saying yes to God is realizing He is all we have and He is the One who can.

He wants us to say, “Yes!” right there in our mess!

I’m in for that … and I hope you are too!!

Saying yes in my mess, Teri Lynne

I cannot recommend Rhinestone Jesus highly enough. If you are only going to read one book this year, make it this one. If you are only going to read one book in your life, choose the Bible! But if you manage to read a second, Rhinestone Jesus is the one I’d suggest. Seriously. Here is the link to purchase from Dayspring, where you can also purchase products that support Mercy House. Just click on the image below {which is an affiliate link} to purchase Rhinestone Jesus for $15.99. The proceeds from this book will go to continue the ministry of Mercy House … y’all, buy this book!!!!

Kristen Welch - Rhinestone JesusIf you prefer to purchase through Amazon, you can find the link in my recommended resources in my sidebar.

{I did receive a free copy of this book for the purpose of review … but truly, all opinions are my own … and my opinion is you need to read this book!}

Stiff Necked or Stripped Down? The Choice Between Ornaments and Obedience

the choice between ornaments and obedience || TeriLynneUnderwood.com

I’m never really sure what to do after Easter. I guess that sounds strange … but it almost feels anticlimactic, these first few days after the somber reflection of Lent leading to Good Friday, the silence of Holy Saturday, and the celebration of Resurrection Sunday. Yesterday Scott had his first real day off since we got home from my parents’ house after Spring Break.

I cleaned out my closet and ended up with seven bags of clothes to donate. {The emotions and realizations from all of that will have to be another post!} We opened windows and let the spring breezes flow throughout the house. We gave ourselves permission to rest. We desperately needed that space to breathe after the hectic pace of Easter preparations in the worship leader’s house.

This morning I placed God for Us, the devotional I had used for Lent, alongside God with Us, my favorite Christmas devotional. I wondered, “What now?” Where do I go next? Where do any of us go after we encounter the cross and risen tomb?

Before Ash Wednesday I was using Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore for my morning devotions. I reached over and grabbed it, opening to the last page I had read in March. I slowly turned to the next devotion and opened my Bible to Exodus 33. God has commanded the people to leave Sinai but, due to their disobedience in making the golden calf, He has said,

God up to a land flowing with milk and honey, but I will not go with up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” {Exodus 33:3}

Wow. God is going to give them what He has promised. They will receive the full measure of their inheritance as His people … but they will not have Him.

In Exodus 33:4-6, we read,

When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornament, that I may know what to do with you.’” Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Hebron onward.

But here’s the thing, the issue wasn’t their ornaments. It was, as it always is, their hearts.

God wanted them to let go of the things they believed had value, the things they believed made them valuable, and come before Him stripped down and knowing He is the only One of value and through Him they became valuable, His children.

I sat there this morning and wrote this question in my journal:

What ornaments do I need to be stripped of? What are the things I cling to as valuable …

Maybe you need to ask yourself the same question. When we cling to the ornaments of this world, we too are stiff-necked people. God’s call is the same to us … to be stripped down of all the ornaments of this life, all the stuff we hold tight in our hands and hearts believing it makes us worthy and valuable. We are faced with this:

The choice between ornaments and obedience.

As the glow of Easter fades, we must decide for ourselves … ornaments or obedience? What will you choose?

Choosing Him,

Teri Lynne

{For links to the books I mentioned in this post, see my recommended resources in the sidebar!}

Image source: CanstockPhoto.com

Happy Easter!

Happy EasterIt’s Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday if you prefer.

Lots of families will be waking up early to watch children peer into Easter baskets filled with special reminders of how much they are loved. Moms will be putting hams and scalloped potatoes in ovens and finishing up deviled eggs. Pastors will put final touches on sermons and prepare to share the promise of salvation with the larger-than-normal crowds. After church, families will gather around tables overflowing with food. Children will hunt eggs and eat chocolate bunnies and a few will probably get grass stains on their Easter finery. After the dishes are done and children are settled, some will indulge in that best of Sunday afternoon traditions — the nap.

Around the Underwood Abode, we’ll be doing many of those same things. The nap probably won’t happen because tonight our church will be presenting a night of worship titled, “The Cross Is Enough.” And, you know, when you’re married to the worship leader, well, you sing in the choir. :)

I’ve been thinking a lot about those four words … the cross is enough.

Do we really believe that? Because sometimes we live like we don’t. We get caught up in “the stuff” and the controversies — are Easter eggs sinful and that sort of thing. We weigh ourselves with unbalanced scales and we wonder why there always seems to be something missing. We question why all we do and what we say and all. the. stuff. doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t fulfill.

It’s simple really. The cross is enough.

All our platitudes and all our striving and all our doing and all our words … just stuff.

The cross is enough.

I don’t know where this Easter finds you. Maybe you are struggling to figure out if there is a God and, if so, what He has to do with you. Perhaps your strong faith has weakened and you are grasping for a glimpse of something more. And it could be you are faithful, steadfast in your devotion to the Lord … but deep inside you still wonder why something is missing.

Here’s what I know — the cross is enough.

The cross is enough to save us, to redeem all the brokenness, to heal all the wounds. Two thousand years ago a man was beaten and crucified. He hung on a cross and feeling forsaken, cried out to the Father. His final words, “It is finished.”

The price was paid, the debt erased. The cross was — and is — enough.

And Friday’s sorrow gave way to Sunday’s joy … “He is not here. He is risen.” {Matthew 28:6} He’s alive! Oh friend, let me promise you this today, the day we celebrate the risen Christ …

The cross is most assuredly enough!!

Happy Easter!
Teri Lynne

 image source: Lightstock.com

So, There Are These Voices in my Head

Yeah. I know. I just confirmed what many of you had already been thinking … this girl is cray-zee. And I’m probably going to double confirm your belief with what I tell you next — I named the voices.

I mean, I didn’t give each of them an individual name. But collectively, I call them “the committee.”

My committee heaves all sorts of expectations on me, constantly reminding me of where and how I don’t measure up. Clearly, the committee isn’t the most encouraging influence in my life. But influence it does. And I’m guessing you probably have a committee of your own.

What does "the committee" say to you?

Today I’m sharing at Not Quite Amish about how I’m learning to overrule the committee and listen to truth. I’d love for you to join me there!

And, so I don’t feel so alone, what does “the committee” say to you?

xo,
TL

Uncomfortable Places

how do you respond when God brings you to uncomfortable places?

So, yeah, I’m still here. I want to share everything — all. the. stuff. — God has been showing me and doing in and around me. I start pecking out words on the keyboard and somehow what I write seems small compared to what I’m experiencing. The words are not enough to explain and reveal the layers of all I’m learning.

But there’s also this other thing, this tugging awareness that sometimes what God reveals to me is not for public consumption. Sometimes, He isn’t teaching me so I’ll teach others … He’s simply opening Himself up to me so I can know Him more.

I have to admit, that’s weird for me. I’m a teacher, an encourager, a mentor. I am always looking for ways to sow into the lives of others, to help them grow, to dig in deep with them.

This place I’m at feels uncomfortable, awkward. Like getting a new a pair of shoes you love but not being able to wear them because they rub. I’m always aware of the new things God is showing me … but when I try to share them with others, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t fit. I’m just not sure what to with the uncomfortable places God brings me. 

So I find myself quiet. I’m digging deep into the Word and wondering what comes next. Where is this leading? What is He doing? And, if I’m honest, when will it be finished so I can finally figure out how to explain it?

At Refine, I spoke about resting. I didn’t have my talk prepared. I just had verses written in a notebook. Scriptures God has used to challenge me to slow myself. One of them is familiar … Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God.

Just be still. I feel like that’s the whisper of God to my heart right now. And in that stillness, there is fresh knowledge, deep truth about Him, the God who calls me by name {Isaiah 43:1}. I’ve read those eight words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” countless times over the past year. Lately, though, He’s tugging me toward the rest of that verse. You may not realize there’s more {most of the coffee cups and inspirational prints leave the last two-thirds of the verse off}.

I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

There is a gentle voice nudging me deep into these words … Be still. Know Me. I will. I will.

He will be exalted. He will be exalted. Twice God reminds of this truth. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess HE IS LORD {Philippians 2:10-11}. He is offering me this beautiful hope and freedom … “Teri Lynne, be still and know me. I will do the rest.

As Holy Week is drawing to a close, I think that’s His invitation and reminder to all of us.

Be still. Know Me. And I will. I will.

I’m resting there and I pray you will as well.

How do you respond when God brings you to the uncomfortable places?

xo,
TL

image soure: canstockphoto.com

I’m Headed Back to She Speaks!

she-speaks-logo

Four years ago I was in the throes of writing a book proposal. Lessons from the Hundred Acre Wood was to be my dazzling entrance into the world of traditional publication. I’d studied the best information available concerning form and content for nonfiction proposals. I’d spent hours writing and rewriting every sentence of my sample chapters to provide representatives from publishing houses a glimpse of my writing prowess.

Please enjoy the long, blondish-red hair. I do what I can to make your time here fun!! :)

Please enjoy the long, blondish-red hair. I do what I can to make your time here fun!! :)

And finally, early one July morning in 2010, I climbed into my car and headed to Concord, North Carolina, to attend She Speaks.

I was terrified! And excited!

She Speaks was a turning point for me. No, I didn’t get a publishing deal. Four years later, I still don’t have one. But it was during those three days the Lord opened my eyes to all the possibilities beyond a book contract. He reminded me I am more than the sum of my accomplishments. And, above all, He gently redirected me toward seeking His glory and not my own.

Since She Speaks 2010, I have attended over 15 other writing and blogging conferences. But every year, my one desire has been to return to She Speaks. And every year, there has been a reason I could not go back.

Until this year. About a month ago, my dear friend Lisa Boyd sent me an email saying she wanted to talk to me about She Speaks. The next day we chatted on the phone and she asked me if I’d be willing to lead two of the pre-conference sessions.

Um, yeah!! Was my less than articulate response.

She Speaks

And so, July 24th, I’ll be returning to She Speaks. My sessions at the pre-conference are “Blogging 101″ and “Blogging Beyond the Basics.” I’m literally giddy about the opportunity to share with other writers, speakers, and ministry leaders how to use a blog to share their message and build their platform. But more than that, my hope is to use this opportunity as a way to give Him glory.

You see, I’m not the biggest or best blogger on the block. {Well, maybe on my block since I’m pretty sure none of my neighbors even know what a blog is … but that’s not really the point.} But I am willing to be used and to share what I’ve learned and to help others.

And y’all, that’s really what we’re all called to do. If you have ever considered attending a writing or speaking conference, She Speaks is the best of the best. I can’t wait to sit in on sessions by incredible people like Lysa Ter Keurst, Jerry Jenkins, and Shaunti Feldhahn. The entire Proverbs 31 team is amazing. They do everything with excellence and humility. And I cannot wait to be there with them.

There are still spots available though the conference is filling up fast. I’d love to see you this year at She Speaks! For more information or to register, visit the She Speaks website.

She Speaks 2014 Promo Video from Proverbs 31 Ministries on Vimeo.

Cheering you on,
TL

How have you pursued your dreams?

We Rested

family We spent our spring break at my parents’ house in Missouri. There’s just nothing like going to your momma and daddy’s house, is there? My mom was sick most of March so I spent a couple of days getting her laundry caught up and helping her with whatever she needed.  My daddy took most of the week off while we were there. It was not one of those weeks packed with activity. We went shopping for a few hours one day and saw the new Muppets movie another. But mostly we just hung out.

The girl spent most of her free time watching a “Reba” marathon. After all the craziness of cheerleading tryouts the week before spring break, I think she just needed unstructured down time. We managed to play some UNO Attack {a family favorite} and, of course, we ate.

We rested. Which was exactly what we needed.

We’d had eight weeks of non-stop motion! I spoke at four events, we hosted a ladies conference at our church, we were part of a DNow weekend for our church’s youth group, and then there was cheerleading! :) And the nine weeks ahead of us  are full as well … Easter {which involves a great deal of extra time and preparation for my worship-leader husband}, spring musical for the girl, homework, cheerleading practices, and I’m trying to finish up a few big projects for this spring. We’re in that season of busy.

Every week brings its own challenges and beauty. I’m learning to embrace both.

Matthew 11:28

This week will be full and crazy between Scott leading worship at a revival that started last night and all my final preparations before leaving for Refine: the Retreat {early!} Thursday morning. Life is back to its normal pace of somewhere between “hurry up” and “we have to leave NOW.”

But last week, we rested. And, once again, I’m aware of the way God is always looking out for me, always offering me exactly what I need.

Cheering you on,
TL

How has God offered you exactly what you needed lately?

It’s Friday!! {Awesome Flash Sale from Dayspring!}

Y’all … it’s Friday.

The girl has cheer tryouts this morning. We’ve spent 20+ hours this week at clinics and extra practices {and by we I mean she was cheering, dancing, jumping, and tumbling and I was gabbing with the other moms and drinking Mountain Dew}. She’s ready! And we’ll know the results by 6 p.m. So, you know, if you’ve been following along with the cheer excitement and want to know the final result, be sure to follow me on Instagram because I’m working on a new Buddy the Cheer Dog photo for this year.

Now … how about something really fun. You know, like a great price on an adorable item from Dayspring. 

Dayspring God Is ... Chalkboard Cross

For real, y’all … is this adorable or what! And it’s normally $16.99 but today only it is {wait for it} …

$6.99

I’m thinking these would be a great gift for wedding showers this spring … and graduations … and baby showers … and birthdays  … and pretty much whatever, whenever.

Happy Friday!

TL

 

[The image below is an affiliate link. If you purchase through it, I will receive a commission ... which I will use to pay for cheerleading. :) ]

God Is... - Wooden Chalkboard Cross - Medium

 

 

What is God Daring You to Do?

Oh y’all … in case you missed it, my dear friend Kate Battistelli was here {like at my house!!} a week and a half ago. {And, this is shocking, but we did not take a single picture of the two of us. Too busy talking and basking in the joy of being together, I suppose.} She graciously agreed to speak at our church’s ladies conference and, oh. my. word. did she bring a powerful and encouraging message to us!

As most of you know, I was a part of Holley Gerth’s God-Sized Dream Team last year. That experience stretched me and forced me to examine what my dream really is. Then, Kate spoke to us … about {hold on!} the God Dare — that thing we know He is calling us to do and yet when we even begin to think about it, our throats constrict and everything in us feels anxious and even terrified.

What is God daring you to do?  || TeriLynneUnderwood.com

Kate shared her story of writing her first book, [affiliate link] Growing Great Kids: Partner With God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life, and how she was totally unqualified for the task. And I sat there, listening to this incredible woman who has poured into my life and my daughter’s life in countless ways, thinking how much her words in that book had shaped the way I parent and my own understanding of the Lord.

I wish I could have Skyped every one of you in for Kate’s talks. She challenged and encouraged us … and she shared her own heart, her own fears, and her own desperate need for God in everything she does. But, since I couldn’t, I took copious notes because I wanted you to “hear” even just a little bit of what she said. Y’all, He calls each of us to something incredible … and it is scary to take that first step of faith. Kate says it’s like bungie jumping — terrifying and thrilling at the same time.

Here are just a few of my favorite parts of Kate’s talk …

  • There is a God Dare for each one of us. We are never too old and never too young. {I LOVE THIS! And it resonated with the students who came to the conference and to the older women in our church as well. Never stop asking what God is calling us to do!}
  • Your past does not disqualify you. We are not disqualified by our sin, we are forgiven! {So thankful for this truth!! Aren’t you?}
  • The being proceeds the doing. {I loved this truth! So much of our lives we spend doing … but God is longing for us to BE in — abide in — Him so that we can DO in and through Him.}
  • God is more interested in giving us the highest good than He is in our happiness. {This one is tough. But I’m finding when I seek Him, pursue holiness through Him, long for His good for me, I gain something far greater than happiness — I gain true, deep peace.}
  • Accepting the God Dare will result in a battle with the enemy. {We need this reminder! When we choose to walk in faith and do the big things God places before us, the enemy WILL fight back.}

I am still re-reading my notes and looking up the Scriptures Kate shared … pondering what God wants me to do next and how He is equipping me to do those things He has planned for me.

Kate closed the first session with these words:

We can trust in God’s dare because He ALWAYS has our highest good in mind.

I am so thankful for that, aren’t you?

I should also mention Kate is finishing up her next book titled … The God Dare. Yep, all I shared today {all she shared at our conference} is just a portion of the goodness in her book. The God Dare will be available later this spring … I’ll make sure you know when you can get it. I promise you want to read it and soak in the wisdom and encouragement Kate always shares.

Cheering you on,
TL

What is God daring YOU to do?

Choose to Be Present

It’s cheerleader tryout week. Which, for most all of you, means absolutely nothing. But here at the Underwood Abode it means 6 or 7 hours of cheer clinics and practices after school every day until Friday. Which means all our relatively normal routines are tossed out the window! :)

Buddy the Cheer Dog ... joining the celebration after the girl made cheerleader last year

Buddy the Basset became Buddy the Cheer Dog last year when our girl made cheerleader! He looks super excited, huh?

It would be really easy for me to wish this week gone. To be annoyed with all the extra “stuff” on the schedule. But I’m choosing something different.

I choose to be present.

Remember a few months ago when I read Let Hope In {a fabulous book I truly believe everyone should read!}? One of the most challenging concepts Pete introduced in the book was the idea of being here. Choosing to be present in the moment we are in right now. Here’s what he wrote:

Our challenge is to be here now. Sometimes we are never where we are. We bypass the joy of today when we center all our focus on yesterday or tomorrow. {129, 130}

This — “We bypass the joy of today when we center all our focus on yesterday or tomorrow.” I don’t want to live like that.

So, this week, with all the extra driving, eating on the go, and excitement/stress of tryout week, I’ve determined to be present … to embrace each moment and celebrate what each day brings.

I imagine it will be a challenge sometimes … but all the best things life offers bring a little challenge.

I’m sharing more about this choice to be present on Not Quite Amish. I’d love for you to pop over there and join me!

Cheering you on,
TL

Is it hard for you to be present? What have you missed because you were thinking about yesterday or tomorrow instead of embracing today?

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