When I look back on this year, I will probably label it “the transition year”. It’s that kind of year. We’ve transitioned from a family of five to seven (and are figuring out how big families operate). Our big boys are transitioning from a semester of homeschool to public school. My baby boy is transitioning to kindergarten. AND, I am transitioning from being with kids almost twenty-four-seven for 9+ years to getting almost THIRTY HOURS a week to work, write and do whatever God’s whispers is next for me. I’m pretty excited. Have I mentioned school start in TWO days?!

I also have a feeling that when I look back on this year, I will also label it “the hard year”. (I could be wrong- I don’t know the future, just a hunch.) We don’t usually come through transition without a few bumps and bruises along the way. I definitely have my share.

By now, I’ve learned a couple things I can do in the moment when life is hard- when kids are difficult and we all need to refocus. One of the simplest things is reading. Most of you probably know I read a LOT. And I make my kids read too. On many occasions (not every day, but often), I send all the kids to their rooms (or a quiet place) and make them read for an hour. Many people ask how I read with five kids. This is one of my little secrets. Having this time allows my mind to shift somewhere else, anywhere else. And when it returns, it’s ready to re-engage and has usually learned a thing or two in the mean time. A new story, a new perspective, a new idea to ponder.

It’s pretty amazing how the climate of our home can change after an hour of reading time. I never regret it. I often regret allowing the kids watch TV or have extended computer time (bad attitudes often follow). But reading, never.

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One of my favorite, most recommended books I’ve read this year is Jen Hatmaker’s, book “For the Love”. I had the opportunity to get an early copy last spring (just when I needed it), and friends, it is fabulous. It was one of those books that had me laughing so hard I was crying one minute, and the next, crying because sometimes you need a good cry when life is hard and you’re reading the words of someone who gets it. Or just because the words are straight up truth.

The subtitle of “For the Love” is, “Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.” This, my friends, is a message and idea we could all stand to spend some time wrestling with. Walking through a tough season myself, I’ve come to need grace in ways I’d never asked and never needed before. It often feels like a fight. Like the devil is sitting right next to me reminding me of all the things I didn’t get right, didn’t do perfectly, could have done better. GRACE. It needs to be extended too.

In this book, Jen talks about many facets of life. Spiritual things like poverty and theology, and even more deeply spiritual concerns like current fashion trends and what it’s like to turn forty. And she does it with a whole lot of humor and grace. Such a good combo. Oh how I need to laugh these days.

I relate so much to Jen because she is a pastor’s wife with five kids (two of whom were adopted), but is a season ahead of me. Whenever she talks about anything family-related, my ears perk up big time. She’s been where I am and still in the trenches too. I definitely don’t know what I’m doing half the time so it’s nice to get a glimpse of the path others have gone down ahead of me.

This book releases TODAY and because I absolutely LOVE it and LOVE you, I’ve decided to give away a copy of the book to one of you, fabulous readers. (No, it wasn’t given to me. I really did buy an extra copy because I so believe in its message. All I get in return is the satisfaction of knowing someone else will get to enjoy this book.)

To enter the giveaway, click on the link below and follow the instructions. Leave a comment sharing what grace means to you.

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  • renan santos

    Dear Mandy. I really enjoy reading your blog. I am always amazed by your capacity to multi task and to adapt to new situations. I know how hard this year has been on you and I thank God for giving you strengths and energy to overcome everything.
    Yesterday Lily told me that reading is something she really loves to do. And this proves that you are doing a great job, passing this legacy to all your children. This is priceless! Love. Renan

    • You & Juju have been a blessing to have helping us in this journey! Thanks for being close by!

  • Casey Moore

    So looking forward to this book! Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    To answer your giveaway question, grace to me often means that God’s standards for my performance are much lower than mine. I am very self-critical and usually not in a good way, but God doesn’t look at me with a persistently critical eye. He looks at me with delight, with joy, and with pleasure.

  • Stacy Johnson

    I am so excited about this book and watching you live out such a strong faith this year!! Grace to me is knowing that my shortcomings are ok, that my imperfection is expected and accepted and that Gods love is so much bigger than all of it. Grace is freedom to me. Thanks for the post Mandy!!

  • Tine

    Grace to me is knowing that although my flesh is sinful, weak and limited, I have been adopted as a daughter of the Most High God, stamped with “righteous” by the blood of Jesus, and sealed with the Life-giving Spirit of God. Although I never did anything to deserve it, I have been rescued from the law of sin and death and been given the ministry of reconciliation, because I get to carry the Spirit of God in me!! Woo hoo!! 😉

  • Valeria

    Great post!
    To answer the question grace is when I don’t have anything and He gives me everything. No matter what happens and how good or hard the moment of my life is, I know that everything will be okay. Not because I deserved it, but because of his grace and faithfulness.

  • Lisa Marie Wong

    Grace is a reward not earned. It’s why I take my kids for a treat when they’re being horrible sometimes, and remind them of God’s grace.

  • How gracious of you to offer this giveaway! Thank you. To me grace means that I don’t have to be someone I am not. I was created who I am and that creation is to reflect my creator. I also feel it is vital to extend grace and I have made it my mission to ask God to help me see through His eyes and love with His heart. I still struggle with being gracious to myself but I am living it more and more towards others and I am grateful for the chance to continue to grow in it. 🙂