Tuesday Victories | 3.13

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Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

Ready or Not Blog

1. Ready or Not: Leaning into Life in Your Twenties by Drew Moser and Jess Fankhauser- Because my friends and I are coming up on the 3-4 year mark of being out of college, a lot of us are starting to wonder about what’s next, especially vocationally, and this makes the timing of this book so perfect. Drew and Jess work at the college where I graduated, so I learned about this book through social media and immediately applied to be on the launch team. I’ve already read the first few chapters and if you’re a twenty-something wondering about what’s next or what to even do with this decade, you’re going to want to pick this one up for sure!

2. Jean days- it’s the week before our two-week spring break (any prayers would be appreciated by allll the teachers please and thank you) and there was a fundraiser where faculty and staff could pay to wear jeans for the week and I was all in. Honestly, putting on jeans and a fleece this morning made getting up today a tiny bit easier. It’s the little things, people.

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3. This adorable little face- friends, if you haven’t already, meet our little Harper! Matt made my puppy dreams come true for my birthday this year and now we have our own fluffly, spunky, cuddly bernedoodle! She’s four months of energy and chewing and all the toys and kisses and we just adore her. Just look at her face! She’s the absolute cutest and we’re obsessed. If you want to follow along with all of her adventures, follow her on Instagram @harper.the.bernedoodle

4. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growthby Christopher Huerst–This book was an incredibly helpful and insightful resource to learn about the more about Enneagram through spiritual lenses. I’ve known about the Enneagram since college, but really started to dive in about 6 months ago and now I’m officially all in. It truly has given language to my motives and things I have always done and I’ve already found it to be a helpful tool for my spiritual growth and marriage. I’ve also started listening to the Typology podcast, went to a two-day workshop led by Ian Cron here in Indy (incredible) and have had tons of conversations with anyone who’s interested. It’s been so, so great and I’m committed to learning more. (also- in case anyone is wondering, I’m a 2 with a strong 1 wing)

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5. Ingredient Substitute Charts- I’ve been following a strict anti-inflammatory diet with a nutritionist for the last 10 weeks and I’m just really grateful that people who are good at cooking and baking and chemistry took it upon themselves to make sure ingredient substitution charts are easily accessible via Google when I need an answer sooner than my nutritionist can provide one. I owe them for the best banana bread I’ve ever made with ingredients I can have right now (and keep making about once a week…so good). Thank you, kind people who are good at food.

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury– My teaching team decided to last minute have our sophomores read this book and although I was a little hesitant because I hadn’t read it before and dystopian isn’t my favorite, I am completely surprised about how much I’m enjoying this read. Fantastic writing, great characters/plot and reading it in today’s society is fascinating because there are a lot of parallels, even though it was written in the 50s. Having conversations about it and seeing students make important connections reminds me why I love my job; it’s certainly one of my favorite things I get to do. If you’re looking for a good classic, I highly recommend this one!

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7. Expedia and Travelocity- for making planning our kinda spontaneous trip to Arizona over spring break possible and cost-efficient. You’ve aided us well and we cannot wait to leave so soon and hike and watch baseball and not be cold for a second (ya know, since Indiana decided it wanted snow this week. NOT MY FAVORITE).

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8. Tennis courts- because I’m assistant coaching tennis this spring and I’m loving the opportunity to play again and work with a really great group of girls in a sport I’ve always enjoyed, but haven’t played much of in the past several years. 

9. Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness by Joy Beth Smith– Although I am married, this is the second book I’ve read on singleness in the past year. I am drawn to these books for a lot of reasons: it’s a conversation I don’t think the church as a whole has handled very well and I love the church and am committed to its growth, I mentor middle/high school girls and want to provide solid, true, God-honoring advice about dating and singleness that’s not simplistic, and because I desperately needed a good book about singleness when I was in college and it just didn’t exist. But now this one does and it is GOOD. This one is especially great for those who grew up being fed purity-culture dating advice and wasn’t/isn’t satisfied with it. I found it to be helpful tool to debunk some misconceptions about dating relationships and a resource I’m going to be using for a while.

10. Puppy pictures- because if you thought you were leaving this blog post only looking at one picture of Harper, you are sorely mistaken. Also she’s just adorable and looking at pictures of her makes me happy. Hopefully it brings you some joy as well!

Tuesday Victories | 12.5

Friends, it’s officially Christmastime! And a Tuesday, so it’s time for some victories that are bringing me joy and meaning and reminding me of Jesus during this season.

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1. Childhood ornaments- when I moved to Indy, my mom gave me a handful of ornaments from growing up. Some are the ones my Granny gave each of the grandchildren each year and some are my favorites from growing up, especially the Cinderella and Snoopy ones. Matt and I decorated our apartment a few weeks ago and it’s always so fun to sort through them each year and to see them illuminate from the lights every night.

2. Amazon- because 2 day shipping and Christmas shopping work really well together. And the reason we’re basically done with both of our lists. Thanks, Amazon.

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3. Advent studies- with Christmas comes Advent, the season of expectation and longing and celebration of a Savior who came to save. I’m going through the She Reads Truth advent study, which is the one I’ve done for the past few years, and Matt is doing the He Reads Truth one. We typically do Advent and Lent studies every year, and I love that She and He Reads Truth provides resources for both of us! It’s not too late to start! Ladies, check it out here. And guys can head here.

4. This shirt– oversized long-sleeve shirts have been a favorite of mine this fall, and this one is pretty, looks crazy comfortable, and says “Give me Jesus plus nothing” which is my favorite and also a great conversation starter. This one made my Christmas list this year!

5. Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Kettle Corn– discovered this seasonal treat at the grocery store this past weekend and it accompanied our movie night perfectly. I love all things chocolate-sea salt-y and Matt loves kettle corn, so it was the perfect match.

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6. The book of Hebrews– I recently read through Hebrews in my reading plan and shoot dang, I forgot how incredible it is. This book is set up to prove and discuss and celebrate how Jesus is better in every way and I loved it. Such a great way to lead up to Advent. In fact, I wrote a scripture study over Hebrews 9 and used it as a catalyst for a discussion about Christmas at the girls small group I lead at school on Fridays. You can find that resource here!

7. My husband’s Christmas message from last weekend- I love a good sermon. Love them. And one of my favorite voices that I get to learn from is my husband, which is just beautiful and exciting and fun. He taught at the youth ministry he oversees this past weekend and just killed it; I know I was not the only one with tears in my eyes by the end. He told me it will be online later this week, and once it’s posted, it deserves a listen (which you can do here). Crazy proud wife over here, friends.

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8. This bag– The Reformation nerd in me is obsessed with this tote bag and it’s also officially on my Christmas list. This bag is perfect for toting around a Bible and a journal! And also another great conversation starter. I have a weakness for tote bags and love Scripture, so this was a fun find for me. (picture credit)

9. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren– I’m still slowly working my way through this book, but it’s challenging me in ways that are all sorts of hard and good and beautiful. She discusses how ordinary moments are meaningful to our spiritual life (one of my favorite very favorite things) and challenges her reader to be more intentional. Warren is a minister in the Anglican tradition and brings in her knowledge of the church liturgy and applies it to our ordinary moments. I’m finding this aspect to be particularly fascinating and challenging, especially since I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church. This book is encouraging me to slow down and make intentional changes, like waking up early to journal with paper and pen instead of scroll on my phone first thing in the morning, and it’s been so, so good.

10. The Office season finale- Matt and I started watching The Office this past summer after we drove through Scranton, PA on the way back from Maine and he realized I never actually watched the entire series. It was a tough moment in our marriage. We finished watching it last night and people. What a solid finale. I was skeptical of whether I would continue to like the series after Michael left, but I did and the last episode was so. great. All the feelings. Definitely a worthwhile show to watch all the way through, which is what I’ve been told for years, but now I can whole-heartedly recommend it.

To quote Pam Beasely from the end of The Office, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” In this season, I’m finding a lot of reminders to slow down and pay attention to the beauty in ordinary moments and I want to invite you to do the same. What are some victories or moments that are bringing you joy or pointing you to Jesus or challenging you today? Comment below or on social media (Instagram is my favorite) @kelseylietzen. I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday Victories | 8.29

Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

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1. Psalm 103– My reading plan takes me through the Psalms on Wednesdays and I haven’t been able to get this one out of my head since I read it last week. The entire chapter is filled to the brim with specific attributes about the Lord: that he is a forgiver, a healer, a redeemer, a satisfier. He is righteous and merciful and gracious and always loving. I need to be reminded of who the Lord is, everyday, and Psalm 103 is helping me this week.

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2. Fat Dan’s Deli in Indy— Matt and I first stumbled upon this place last winter and have been raving about it ever since. It’s an unassuming place in So-Bro but shoot dang, their food. It’s definitely a place to indulge, and their fries and wings are the best we’ve had in Indy. It’s a Chicago-style place, so tons of Cubs gear on the walls and Italian beef on menu and everything is amazingly delicious. My parents came into town on Saturday to watch me coach and my girls play and then treated Matt and me to lunch afterwards. I remember thinking how much my parents would love the place after we visited the first time, so it was a blast watching them love their experience. And the food!

3. GHS Soul Sisters– At school, we have this hour in the middle of the day where students get to choose where they want to eat and hang out. It’s also a time where clubs can meet during the school day. With the help of my two of my best work-friends and the enthusiasm of some students we all have relationships with, we launched a Christian-community group for girls on Friday during this hour and it has been AMAZING. The girls are pumped and inviting everyone they know and this past week we had 30 girls reading Scripture, talking about who God is and why that matters. Friends, this is incredible. To be able to disciple in a public school with students we see every day has been such amazing thing to be a part of. So thankful for the space and freedom to watch the Lord do his thing. Go follow us on Instagram @ghssoulsisters

4. You all!– Friends, your responses to my last blog post about body image was incredible. I received so many texts and messages and comments that were so encouraging, especially since I was crazy terrified of posting something so honest and raw. Thank you for sharing your struggle with me– I so value your vulnerability. I want to continue having conversations about body image and the balance between working out and eating well from a place of gratitude and worship rather than a place of obsession and self-gratification. Hopefully this will be a place where that can happen.

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5. Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly— I know this has been one of my victories a few weeks ago, but the more I read, the more it’s changing, challenging, and encouraging me to step into a place of holiness and grace and mission. I cannot recommend it enough. Go ahead and pre-order your copy here! You will not regret it, promise.

I’m in the full swing of a busy fall, but life is so, so good right now. But, I’m still needing to remember the victories that make my weeks particularly sweet. Let me know what some of your favorites are in the comments or on social media @kelseylietzen

Tuesday Victories | 8.8

Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

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1. Sharpie Pens– School started last week, which means I got to break out all my school supplies! And people, I just love new pens and pencils and paper. Such a geek- I know- but at least I’m in a profession where it’s fitting. Sharpie pens are my new favorites this year and I’m excited to have a few colored ones to grade with! (The things teachers get excited about hah!)

2. Routine- I know this one is more abstract, but during the last few weeks of summer, I was craving routine and being an extrovert, I was missing being around people for a majority of my day, so I definitely welcomed the start of school. Except the 5:30AM wake-up. I didn’t miss that.

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3. The song “Saved My Soul” by City Alight– Friends, I LOVE finding new worship music. And thankfully Spotify aids me in my searches through their Discover pages and this song came on during my drive home today. I played it on repeat the whole way home. I cannot wait to listen to the rest of their album this week! Here’s a good one if you’re searching.

4. Matt’s wasp killing skills- So Matt is the best husband for a billion reasons, but our apartment has had some wasp nests around it (NOT MY FAVORITE) and I came home to him yesterday attacking the nest on our balcony with Raid. And gosh darnit, those wasps are all gone and I’m not mad about it. Whatta champ.

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5. Jess Connolly’s new book– I’m on the launch team for Jess’ new book that comes out in October and it’s just incredible. It’s called Dance, Stand, Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground and she gets crazy honest about her past few years learning about how grace and holiness intersect and it’s beautifully Gospel-centered, challenging, and authentic. You can pre-order it here and if you participate in the pre-order, you can claim some goodies here

6. The Lumineers Spotify radio station- Matt is currently working towards a graduate degree and I’m back to teaching, which means some of the free time we have together at home is spent working– reading and writing and grading. Since Netflix would just be super distracting, we’ve found a few Spotify stations that we love and The Lumineers station is one of the best ones to be playing in the background while we work.

I hope you’re enjoying your Tuesday today! And maybe some of these victories made yours a little better, too. Share what’s getting you through the week in the comments! 

Tuesday Victories | 7.25

Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

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1. Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food– my Whole30 journey started and then ended after four days. I didn’t quit because I necessarily wanted to give up, but rather because it wasn’t the healthiest decision for my body and mind. Because I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately, I’ve been reading about eating and I stumbled upon this book and downloaded it immediately. I’m about halfway through and it’s challenging me to think about the way and reasons why I eat, which is an incredibly challenging process. I’ll let ya know how it goes and what I’m learning in a blog post sometime.

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2. This sermon by Scott Sauls- Matt introduced me to Scott Sauls (not personally- just his writings/preachings) several months ago because Sauls is a preacher Matt greatly respects. I’ve been on a podcast kick this summer, mostly when I’m driving or working out, and downloaded this one yesterday from the Christ Presbyterian’s podcast channel. This sermon is such a treat. It is challenging and beautiful and packed with truth and Jesus and I didn’t want it to end. I’m excited to listen to it again and take notes!

3. Chat Pack– this is a product I got at a conference as a catalyst to start discussion among students, but Matt and I used it a bit when we first started dating. It’s just a box filled with cards that have interesting questions on them, but they’ve sparked so many great conversations for us! We hadn’t used them in the past year, but Matt found them last week and we went through a bunch and it was such a blast to learn things about each other or see how our answers have changed. And it’s always my favorite to connect over intentional conversation, so I’m thankful for that time with him!

4. This carnitas recipe– Although Whole30 turned into Whole4, we still had all Whole30 food in the fridge for the week. We made these last night and they. are. amazing. Easy to prep, pretty inexpensive (I used a pork shoulder rather than a tenderloin) and super healthy. Matt and I both agreed that this will be one of our go-to repeat recipes.

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5. This Philippians study– I mentioned Sharon Hodde Miller’s Twitter feed a few weeks ago and she just released this study on Philippians. We’re only two days in, but so far I’ve loved the what I’ve learned contextually about this church and this time period and where Paul was at while he was writing this letter. Philippians has always been my favorite book of the Bible and I’m so excited to dive deeper!

A shorter list for today because I’ve been running around getting ready for school to start next week. Ah! If you found some victories this week, and I certainly hope you did, let me know what they are in the comments!

Tuesday Victories | 6.13

Tuesdays are hard. They’re the sophomores of the week- you’re fully invested but not close to the end yet. Instead of feeling drained and irritated (ask any of my students- Tuesdays are the worst for me..whoops!), here are a few small victories- words, things, and moments- getting me through the week:

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1. God Has a Name by John Mark Comer– THIS BOOK. Shoot. Comer combines theology and approachability to create a piece that takes his reader through an explanation of God’s actual name, Yahweh, by going in-depth into Exodus 34:4-7. I was challenged every time I picked up this book as Comer presented ideas and concepts and explanations that I had never considered before and he did it really well. Here’s to the many hours of processing and prayer to come.

2. Our Le Crueset Grill Pan– because summer means grilling out but apartment living says, “nope, can’t quite do that here!” so we compromise with a grill pan. Although it’s a pain to clean, Matt manages to magically get it spotless every time- whatta good man- so we use it all the time because it at least gives us the facade that we grilled out and that just makes us happy. And it cooks meat perfectly and deliciously, so that helps too. Go almost grilling.

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3. Google Maps– because we’re road tripping to Maine at the end of this week (SO. READY. FOR. LOBSTER. And family. Always family.) and Google Maps has been our constant companion while we’ve been searching places we could realistically and potentially stop at on the way there. Also, it will be accompanying us the entire way there and it reroutes automatically, so all the praises for that.

4. Sunscreen- because coaching soccer means summer conditioning started yesterday and it decided to be super hot this week and sunscreen makes my skin not completely hate me. Or look red, because that would be inevitable without sunscreen. Thanks western European heritage.

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5. Dairy Queen Oreo blizzards- because ice cream in the summer. Done.

6. Pictures of Bernedoodles– because I just discovered that this breed exists and I’m absolutely obsessed and looking at pictures of them makes me smile. Currently making oh-so-subtle hints to my husband for one. I’ll keep ya updated.

I hope you’re staying cool on this super humid Tuesday! What are some of the things making you smile this week?

Crooked Roads and Doubting Faith

I worked in Montana for a summer at a camp in the mountains. My high school band director used to tell stories about his time working there and I was intrigued by his tales of camping and backpacking and working with students, so during my freshman year of college, I learned more about the camp, applied, and was accepted to work there that summer.

My struggles began on the drive out west. My brother and his best friend were my travel companions for the two day trek. I was scared and put great effort in trying not to cry during random hours in the car and in the hotel that first night because I didn’t want them to know I was struggling. I tried to rationalize my fears by reminding myself that I was going to work at a Christian camp and although I had every expectation of this community looking like the ones I had always been a part of, I couldn’t shake the impulse to cry at random moments.

That summer was hard. My initial feelings of fear and anxiety never let go of me as I entered into this unfamiliar space and culture. Although this camp was a Christian community, it operated differently than any place I had been a part of before. I was closely surrounded by people who viewed faith much differently than I did. They let themselves doubt and question and do things I didn’t think Christians were supposed to do. My 19-year-old self didn’t quite know how to handle this, so I spent a majority of my time arguing and fighting for what I had always known to be true about Christian faith and community. But, in the midst of my fight against unfamiliar practices, I found myself sitting and listening and wondering about the doubts and questions my co-workers expressed.

If you’ve grown up in the church, I’m sure you have one of these places. A place that made you redefine your faith, that made you question and doubt and wonder about what you grew up with. Is it stable? Can it be challenged? Are people who view faith and Jesus and doctrine differently than I do still Christians? Montana was my place of discovery and wonder, a place that has had me asking questions ever since the moment I left, even five years later.

I was brought back to my moments of difficulty and doubt and rediscovery as I dove into Andrea Lucado’s new book English Lessons: The Crooked Little Grace-Filled Path of Growing Up. Lucado reflects on her time studying for her Masters degree in English Literature at Oxford-Brookes where she encountered people who lived and viewed faith much differently than those she grew up with, most not believing in Jesus at all. She found herself envying their supposed free spirits, wondering how they could seem so at peace if they had never been touched by true grace, and asking important questions about people who had once experienced Jesus and later rejected him.

What I loved most about this book was Lucado’s raw honesty about her struggle living and interacting closely with people who did not share her same beliefs and consequently, her own struggle with faith. As a well-known pastor’s daughter and as someone who grew up in the arguably-sheltered American church, she realized how difficult and confusing it can be to learn that Christianity is much more resilient to doubts and questions than her upbringing led her to believe. And she also learned how freeing and beautiful it can be to live with this kind of faith- a faith that is strong enough for our questions and crooked paths and insecurities. Her honesty creates space for a needed kind of courage in the church today, the courage to wonder and ask and be open to receiving unexpected answers from the Lord. The courage to interact with people who look and act and believe differently than we do, to take risks and to learn over and over and over again what it looks like follow Jesus, especially in the midst of uncertainty.

Lucado’s ringing message to her reader is a beautiful reminder that when we inevitably encounter places of doubt and we allow ourselves to lean into our questions and into our searching, we find more of Jesus. We grow in Him, we allow our worlds and lives to be expanded by Him, and we experience His faithfulness. I needed a place like Montana to break the mold of what I always knew, to find a fuller Jesus, one who can be experienced through many denominations and cultures. I needed Montana to push me to ask questions, to search for truth, and to find it in His word and in unexpected places and paths.

I hope you read Lucado’s story too, allowing yourself to remember the place where you started to question and grow or to receive permission and grace to find that place to wonder and doubt and come to know Jesus more fully.

“The Lipstick Gospel” and the Power of Story

Today I want to introduce you to a writer that has encouraged me the past several months. From my experience in reading her words, Stephanie May Wilson is an encourager, a lover of celebrations and life, and a follower of Jesus. I stumbled upon her blog this past summer and spent several nights staying up way too late reading through her posts while consistently thinking, “I’ve felt that way too!”

She shares her story authentically and offers wise advice, especially in regards to relationships and living in Jesus well. I’ve followed her since I discovered her words and today I am so, so excited to share her new ebook, “The Lipstick Gospel”!

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“The Lipstick Gospel” is simply a story of how she found Jesus in the unexpected while traveling Europe with friends after a difficult break-up. This story resonated with me, not necessarily because I have the same story, but because through her story I was reminded of God’s incredible faithfulness, grace, and redemption.

I’ve been thinking about stories recently, about how vital they are to our well-being and in our relationships and how we are so inherently drawn to learning about other’s stories. I’m reminded how learning about each other’s stories creates a compassion in us for others and, recently, for me, has been a reminder of how good and faithful our God is.

Stephanie’s story is no exception. Through her honest confessions of discovery and escaping and traveling and learning and healing I was reminded of a simple aspect of the Gospel—how God’s love drives everything. Of how He desires to reconcile with His people and how He can meet us where we are, no matter how far away we think we are from him. This has been an incredibly refreshing truth to dwell in recently as I’ve been wrestling to remember His love and His faithfulness and His ability to fulfill His promises to His people.

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“The Lipstick Gospel” chronicles Stephanie’s journey towards this truth as well, not holding back her struggles along the way. I cheered her on as she discovered the goodness of Jesus and in the process, was reminded that the truth of salvation she discovered in the Sistine Chapel is the same truth we need to be reminded of every day, no matter where we are in our faith journey. The honesty of her past validated the need to expose ours in order to let go of it, that sometimes we just need to get away, and that no matter what, the Lord will always meet us where we’re at.

I’m thankful for Stephanie’s story and I hope you will download the book (for FREE!), curl up on the sofa as the temperatures drop this week, and get lost in someone else’s story for a while. Remember that our circumstances are never too much for Jesus and that a life in Jesus, along with hardship and questioning, is also meant to be one of joy and laughter and the celebration of living in true freedom.

Download Stephanie’s book here and check out her website here. I’m so excited to be sharing her with you all and hope you find her words encouraging.