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The First Hard Conversation + Autographed Giveaway by Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld

No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.

And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.

For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.

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If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)

I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.

 

Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.

 

This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.

There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.

 

Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.

 

Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.

Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!

When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.

 

Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.

 

If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.

 

Show up with God unguarded.

 

Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.

Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.

 

Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.

 

Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.

Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.

Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.

Lori RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

 

 

To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // A God-Glorifying Gathering and Giveaway!

Pool gathering

Summer is the perfect time for any gathering and especially so when it comes to sharing our faith!

As you know by now, I’m a huge fan of Lori Roeleveld’s book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. And apparently, I’m not alone. This gem of a book recently won the Director’s Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Chrisitan Writer’s Conference. {Congrats, Lori!}

I’m slowly reading through Jesus and the Beanstalk because I want to savor every word, and well, I don’t want it to end. Just last week I came across this:

“Too many of us have adopted the culture of consumerism rather than the culture of discipleship. Growing up in Jesus is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. We are climbing the true vine, and only he knows precisely where any one of us is in that process. Finding the next hold on the vine is not an exact science because it’s about a relationship with Jesus, not a nine-step self-improvement program. Building character doesn’t happen because we read we should do it. God builds character in us in many ways and through a variety of circumstances.”

Then Lori shared the following suggestion:

“Ask God to direct you to activities that will give you faith in increasing measure. One way we bolster one another’s faith is through testimonies or stories of God’s intervention. Invite some friends for dinner and swap stories of times you’ve seen God at work.”

 

And there it was, right in front of me: Why not host a Swim & Swap party this summer?

 

For a full-fledged introvert, that’s an undertaking — a faith-stretching activity — but the wheels are turning. I see friends gathered around our pool on a warm Saturday afternoon. Very casual, nothing fancy. As the sun sets, we begin to swap stories as to how we’ve seen⎯and are seeing⎯God at work. I admit the planner in me wants to cover every base but I’m learning that some things just can’t be planned, like the moving of the Holy Spirit.

{Having said that, there will be grilled burgers, dessert, lemonade, and S’mores involved.}

Swapping God-glorifying stories is good for the soul--yours and mine. #soulfood Click To Tweet

 

I will praise you to all my brothers; I will stand up before the congregation and testify of the wonderful things you have done. Psalm 22:22

 

Our sense of hearing⎯and the power it holds⎯-is recorded throughout the Word:

 

  • Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
  • Acts 22:15, “For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
  • Genesis 3:8, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

I recently returned from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. Every night, a gathering in the downstairs lobby huddled around coffee tables and sometimes delicious treats, thanks to Diana Asaad {thank you!}. As I heard those around me share stories of how God was moving through the worship times and interactions with faculty/other attendees, my own faith-walk was strengthened and encouraged. After all, that’s what happens when we’re brave enough to swap our gospel story with another!

 

God-glorifying gatherings can happen in coffee shops, grocery lines, around a dinner table, or a campfire. They can happen anywhere two or more are gathered in His name and for His glory.

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Jesus and the Beanstalk Giveaway

Want to win your own copy of this faith-building giant-trampling book? Simply leave one way you’ve seen God recently move in your life, or in the life of a loved one, in the comment section. None are considered too small. One name will be randomly drawn next Thursday, June 15th.

Jesus and the Beanstalk

 

3 Books I’m Reading this Winter {And Why You’ll Want to Read Them Too}

Winter read
I love reading year-round but especially so in winter.

Everything about the season woos even the nonchalant reader into its web. Frigid breezes, barren branches, and darker days all invite us to come in, bundle up, light the logs, and pour a cup of tea. What better way to answer the invite than with a book in hand?

 

3 Favorite Books This Winter
The three books I’m reading this winter are above average, one in particular. Let’s begin there.

 

Jesus in the Beanstalk…Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, by Lori Roeleveld.

 

Jesus in the BeanstalkDon’t let the clever fairy-tale inspired title fool you. This book isn’t for fluff-seekers. It’s for those who, like me, have grown weary of living in a land of giants. Yes, our culture offers a plethora of its own giants but I’m convinced giant slaying begins at home. Every giant-slayer first requires the Word, as Lori points out, but this book is the second thing I read during my time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s a full chapter, other times just a paragraph. It’s not a book to gulp down but to savor. Her questions at the end of each chapter often marinate in my mind throughout the day. Add Lori’s sense of humor to the mix, and you hold a book that will motivate you to pick up a nearby rock and slip out your sling. I can’t say enough about this book and its impact on my life.

One fave quote: “It’s important for Christians not just to believe in God but also to believe God, trust what he says enough to obey him. The enemy has been clever to convince us that what God offers is dry and boring–and it is if we allow the truth to remain on the surface. But if we bury it deep in the soil of our souls and expose it to the light and the living water of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves clinging to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15). We discover that we, too, are giant-killers.”

 

The Story of With…A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create, by Allen Arnold

 

The Story of WithThe Story of With may have never crossed my radar except for Lynn Blackburn’s excellent review on Edie Melson’s, The Write Conversation. {Thank you, Lynn}

The first and last part of the book is non-fiction. He unfolds a story illustrating his points in between, which I admit to skipping. I’m sorry. I’m a shoot-it-to-me kind of girl. When I want a novel I’ll read Lynn’s or Edie’s. A quick flip to the back proved to be gold. So many relevant nuggets. For me, the main takeaway is that we often rush off to do God’s work instead of inviting the Holy Spirit into the creative process.

One fave quote: “You can experience a sense of expectancy in the midst of interruptions, knowing the unplanned can lead to something better than anything you could have planned. Imagine stepping into your relationships and creativity with a power that isn’t limited to your solutions or strength?”

 

 

Fierce On The Page…Become the Writer You Were Meant To Be and Succeed On Your Own Terms,
by Sage Cohen

 

Fierce on the PageMy first introduction to author and poet Sage Cohen was her book, “Writing the Life Poetic”. It remains a staple on my shelf. So imagine my delight when I learned of her latest release, Fierce on the Page. The book was still warm when it arrived in my mailbox. Yep, it was hot off the press. With 75 brief but brilliant chapters on using ferocity to transform your craft, there is something for every writer.

One fave quote: “Writing can teach us who we are and what we are called to say. You become the person who could write the poems, as Stanley Kunitz advises, through the writing of the poems–and the stories and articles and essays. Doing what is true for you is the path to becoming your own best expert.”

 

 

I’d love to hear your process when reading more than one book at a time. For me, I use Lori’s book most days during my time with the Lord and on other days, I pepper my time with Allen’s. I carry Sage’s book in my purse, snatching extra moments as they come my way.

What are you reading this winter? And I have to ask: Coffee or tea?

**The Story of With is only $2.99 on Kindle right now!

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10 Ways to Help Fall Linger A Little Longer

Helping Fall to Linger LongerWho wouldn’t want fall to linger a little longer? It ushers in a season of crisp breezes, ripe apples, crackling fires, and a host of other sensory delights. I’m convinced heaven will be an eternal season of fall. {Of course, we know where that lands Summer. Sorry, Brian and other summer lovers}.

Today I’m sharing ten ways that will help us to embrace this vibrant season for all its worth. Some of these ideas include affiliate links (marked by *), but all opinions are my own.

  1. Read a Proverb every day…aloud. Don’t know which one to read? Choose the chapter that corresponds with the day you’re reading. Because there are 31 Proverbs you can’t go wrong! I’m often surprised by how His Word lines up with circumstances taking place on that particular day. Read it aloud to engage another sensory, leaving a greater impact that will help you retain the truths you read.
  2. Buy a new mug. I purchased a white-washed one at Target last week that reads “Warm & Cozy”. It reminds of chunky knit scarves, warm cups of tea and my beloved electric blanket. It reminds me of fall. Novel Teas Uncommon Goods
  3. For my literary friends, you’ll enjoy Novel Teas. In past years, I’ve bundled up individual packets of Novel Teas* to share with fellow writers, agents, editors, etc., at the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. (These would also make for great literary-lovers stocking stuffers!) See the entire birthday collection here.
  4. Savor a good book. Don’t rush it. Turn each page with purpose, taking time to underline meaningful words, phrases, and sentences. My two reads for this fall are “Jesus and the Beanstalk” by Lori Roeleveld and “The Story of With” by Allen Arnold (thanks to Lynn Blackburn’s review). Gratitude Uncommon Goods
  5. Invite the spirit of gratitude year-round by gifting this to yourself. Writing notes of gratitude is one simple, yet powerful gesture to show other people how thankful you are for them. A Year of Gratitude* provides 52 thank you note cards along with tips on sending out a note card each week for a year. {Maybe we should start a gratitude challenge!}
  6. Take a country drive to stare at the stars. Since moving to the country one of my favorite destinations can be found outside on pitch-black nights. The stars cover the sky like a lit blanket. Rarely do I gaze upwards without Psalm 147:4 on the forefront of my mind: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Bundle up, head outside on a clear night with a blanket, and consider your mighty God as you star gaze.
  7. Take pleasure in the sunrise and sunset at least once a week. I’m more apt to take a quick glance out the window to see the sunrise or sunset and then move on with my day. Maybe you are too. But one way to make fall linger a little longer is to embrace the fullness of each day. Why not begin with enjoying how God bookends our days? Pop on a warm sweater, pour a hot cup of tea and head outside to watch the sun rise. Ask God what He desires for this day. And as the sun sets later in the day, thank Him for the day and whatever it contained, confident that it was of His design for your life.
  8. Take pictures. Pack your phone or camera and ride to places that remind you most of the fall season. Maybe it’s a nearby waterfall, mountain, or park. Or maybe your photo expedition leads you to your own backyard. Take a snapshot of those things that will bring a smile to your face long after the season ends. Date Night Bucket List
  9. Spend time with loved ones. Few things bring more enjoyment than spending time with friends and family. Go to festivals, pumpkin patches, take hay rides or pick apples. If you’re searching for fun ideas to do as a couple, Date Night Bucket List will go a long way in snuffing out the, “What do you want to do tonight?” type questions. My usual answer is “Whatever you want to do” which sometimes lands us in front of the TV watching army shows with bagged popcorn. But no more! Date Night Bucket List* to the rescue. Date prompts on birch wood sticks take all the guess work out of the night. (There’s also this one for families!) See the entire Anniversary collection here.
  10. Perform kind gestures. This might include raking leaves, picking up sticks and branches, or baking a loaf of pumpkin bread. Doing acts of kindness as a family is one way to instill the importance of putting others first into children and grandchildren. I know this firsthand as my dad was always chopping wood/kindling for elderly neighbors in the fall and winter. We would quietly stack the goodies by their door. The purpose wasn’t to receive accolades but to simply bless another person. Little did he know how his gestures of kindness would carry on throughout the generations.

I hope the above ideas will get the proverbial wheels turning to come up with your own ideas {please share in the comment section!}. As mentioned earlier in the post, a few of the above ideas include affiliate links to Uncommon Goods. Not only is it a store filled with unique and creative gifts it’s also one that values sustainability. This is seen in many of their products* as they offer handmade, recycled, and organic items. One thing I most appreciate when perusing their site is how they highlight their artists. I hope you’ll check it out for yourself.

Your turn! How do you help this season to linger a little longer?

 

Related Items:
-Jesus and the Beanstalk, by Lori Roeleveld {sign up for her award-winning blog and receive a free chapter of Jesus in the Beanstalk}.
The Story of With, Allen Arnold (and Lynn Blackburn’s review}.
-The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference

 

How to Bless Those You Met At The Writer’s Conference (and 4 Highlights From Blue Ridge)

BRmtnsNow that the dust is settling from last week’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference, highlights {and ideas} are beginning to surface.

First, the highlights:

 

 

 

 

{ONE}

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Highlight: Meeting Helen McIntosh

Forging new friendships and celebrating established ones. There was a time in February when I considered not attending Blue Ridge this year (gasp!). I didn’t have a particular project to pitch, and with us prepping for a move I thought the money should be allocated toward that goal, but it was Brian who insisted I go — “if for no other reason than to re-connect with friends you only see once a year”. Yep, that’s my hubby! Turns out, this was a defining year at Blue Ridge when it came to meeting new friends and deepening established ones. Rosie Williams (fellow Hope Writer!) Robin Luftig, Leigh Ann Thomas, Tammy Van Gils, Jodie Bailey, Meredith Mills, Donna Nabors, Karen Friday, Jean Wilund, Nan Jones and sweet Helen McInstosh, author of Messages to Myself, Overcoming a Distorted Self-Image, are just some of the new friends I met last week, and look forward to establishing relationships with in the coming years.

 

{TWO}

Eva Marie Everson’s Visual of Nehemiah’s Wall. I admit I was tired and ready for my evening pick-me-up (which usually consisted of peanut butter crackers and a soda) when Eva Marie told everyone to get up at the end of her keynote speech and stand around the room. Four hundred + people lined the walls as she read from Nehemiah, exhorting everyone to take their place at the “wall”, much like the 44 separate groups of people who had specific tasks to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. There was a job for every group, each person, to fulfill — and our calling is no different, regardless of what it is. I can’t do what you do in exactly the same way and vice versa because God handcrafted each of us. We literally broke the mold! You have your place at the wall, and I have mine. Now let’s get to it!

 

{THREE}

BRcoffeeIt’s not just about the coffee. It rarely is, right? Starbucks sells an experience, and it’s no different for the Clouds Cafe on the Ridgecrest Conference campus. Yes, it’s newly renovated but the polished floors and expanded menu are not what makes this gathering place memorable. It’s the people who serve/volunteer there. Women like Loretta and Linda (lovingly known to Marcia Moston and me as the “froth queens”). Seeing their smiles is an experience I look forward to every single year.

 

 

 

{FOUR}

God Stepped Up When I Stepped Out…of My Comfort Zone. Two friends made this clear at Blue Ridge. One quietly offered me a hand to join in the adventure. The other threw me overboard to sink or swim. I love them both and God used both approaches to reveal Himself.

BRDDmerevisedDee Dee Parker, while staying in my room Saturday night, came up with the brilliant idea (at 2:00 AM)  to do a fun video the next morning on the subject of snacks at Blue Ridge, or the lack thereof, in our nearby vending machine. Now I’m the girl who doesn’t even like to have my picture taken but something inside (perhaps it was the lack of sleep) said, “Go for it!” And we did. {2Peasin1LittlePod…Productions! #wejustwanttobeablessing} We proceeded to do two more videos that were also well received. (Thank you!) But what touched us most was the feedback from those who shared how our friendship was so evident on the video. Some even said they wanted to attend the conference next year to be a part of the fun. “Comfort zone” Cathy would not have dared to shoot a silly video but because Dee Dee invited me to join in the fun, and I was willing to step over the proverbial line between silly and serious, new friends were made and from what we’re still hearing, many were blessed. To God be the glory!

BRLoriresizedbLori Roeleveld, sweet friend and mentor in many ways, scooted shoved me out of my comfort zone a little differently. After I shared how I’ve never liked being called out in a class setting with Lori over lunch, she promptly stood up, shouting to Jim Rubart, one table over, how he needed to put me on the spot in the next session. Really? 🙂 It wasn’t until I actually began considering skipping that class the next day that I knew this was much bigger than my insecurities. Feeling certain that Jim’s class was one I needed to attend, it was no surprise the enemy would try to use an innocent and well intended shout-out to prompt my fears into action. Not only did I attend the final class, I thanked Lori for the outburst that initially had me shaken because it led to an opportunity to stand steadfast, stomping my fears into smithereens.

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blessing fellow writers-1

Edie Melson, our fearless leader and Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference, encouraged us to exchange business cards with one another again this year. While there’s an array of reasons for doing this, there is one I’ve overlooked in the past⎯the opportunity to pray for fellow writers. Now, as I begin to write each morning, I will lay my hands on the piles of cards and pray for them, for us. Prayers like:

  • business cardsKeep our motives pure, Lord. (Psalm 139: 23,24) Flesh pinches the tenderest of places, tempting us to put the spotlight on ourselves, our name, our brand, when our greatest desire is to reflect You, Your name, and Your kingdom alone.
  • Keep our priorities aligned in a way that is pleasing to You, Lord. What do we gain if our name is on a book but find it no longer written on the hearts of those we love?
  • Keep our eyes fixed on You, Jesus. For You are the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Let the things on earth grow strangely dim as we rejoice and write in the light of your love.
  • Help us run this journey as companions, not competitors. There is no room in the kingdom for competition. This is not Your desire for us. We are on the same team: Team Your Glory.
  • Infuse our writing with divine creativity for You are Creator! Your Spirit indwells within us, equipping us to write beyond our means. As Al Gansky said in his keynote speech, “Creativity Begins With The Creator.” Amen.
  • Help us to release our work for Your glory. Some are called to plant, and some to water, but You alone, God, bring growth, landing our work in the places of Your choosing. We don’t need to manipulate, beg, or sulk. Help us to embrace truth — that You are for us, not against us, even when we cannot see, hear, or feel You at work.
  • Help us to find our validation in You alone, Jesus.

Now it’s your turn! Please take a moment to share one of your highlights from last week’s conference (or another one!). Or, feel free to share which of the above prayers you will begin praying for yourself, as well as fellow writers.

 

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