After reading all your responses to yesterday’s post. How hard we have to fight the fear of being left out; the myth of scarcity that screams I must be noticed, invited, included, appreciated or I. will. vanish.

May I offer an antidote?

Because I have found the best way to treat the disease of comparison is to encourage someone else. You have to raise your eyes up and away from yourself to focus on someone else. It’s good medicine.

And today, two of the women I admire most in the world have stories I want to share with you. Women who are wildly generous with their online platforms, their voices, their homes and their encouragement.

Women who are helping me grow up into the woman and believer I want to be.

We have never owned a home.

I will be 40 this year and this is our ninth rental house.

For years that embarrassed me. It was like a dirty little secret I awkwardly kicked under the carpet when people stopped by.

Until I discovered The Nester.

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She’s been a renter, like me, for years.

She has three loud, rowdy boys. The most beautiful drapes I’ve ever seen and that are held together with hot glue and curtain clips and hockey matches her boys narrate over a loudspeaker system they’ve Jerry-rigged out the window of the guest bedroom. She’s taught me that I don’t want a perfectly clean home with no room for messes and risk and trial and error. It’s wise to be purposeful about making a mess.

Because of her I make space for my boys to make mess. And don’t make them clean it all up immediately; we leave room for their creativity to be a member of the family too.

Nester's mess

She was the first person who got me to admit out loud and on the Internet all my complicated, squirmy feelings about being a grown up renter.

I have learned through and through and down past my hips and all the way into my bones that big hospitality has nothing to do with the size of your house.

And that there will always be a choice:

Panic or delight.

Fear of appearances or fully opening your arms to your friends.

Picking up the backyard or inviting the boys to join the well-loved chaos.

Stressing the stains or surrounding yourself with toys, kids, and enough time to catch up.

Frantically planning something to cook or ordering pizza and slicing a watermelon.

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That a fellow renter wrote a book about finding your way home makes my eyes well up as I stand here on the stairs of our ninth rental and counting.

Her name is Myquillyn Smith and her book – The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful – comes out today.

It’s weird to admit, but I cried my way through this decorating book. Cried because it’s not a book about having pretty lamps or a lovely fireplace (although it will teach you that) it’s a book about remembering that home is always more than four walls and a roof.

Home is the sticky fingerprints your kids left on the window pane. Home is the friend who stops by while you’re folding laundry and sits down to help, while sharing stories about your hard-to-parent-kids. Home is that dining room table with the streaks of blue paint and black marker that you can’t get off no matter how hard you’ve tried. And that you’ve finally stopped wanting to get off.

Home is the pair of socks he has kicked off at the foot of the bed every single night for the last 15 years.

Home is opening your heart along with your front door and inviting people into your every day life, not just your prettied up Sunday version.

Home is learning that if you see your house as big and welcoming as you feel about the people you’re having over, so will everyone who walks through its doors.

And Myquillyn taught me that.

So today, pick up a copy of her radically, heart-altering book – The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful – and fall in love with your home and the mismatched sofa and the people who live there all over again. Promise.

 

And then there’s Jen from Conversion Diary.

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The thing is I’ve been a believer all my life. I can’t remember a time I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ.

Jen’s story could not be more opposite.

She grew up a lifelong atheist. She’s now a Roman Catholic mom of six.

I know right!

And the thing is, that reading her book reminded me all over again about all the reasons I believe.

Because, faith can get heavy. It can feel sluggish for me. It can feel weird, this thing we believe – this wild story of a God who gave up the universe to reach down for us. A God who let go of His own Son in order to catch us as we were falling.

But Jen’s book – it chronicles that radical grip of grace.

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From the perspective of a skeptic. A deliberate doubter.

Jen writes down the almost mathematical proof of every step in the equation of Jesus’ pursuit of her.

It’s unnerving. And beautiful. And wild.

Like all the best love stories.

Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It shocked me all over again at the deliberate story of a God who is interested in us. All of us. All our weird and quirky, mean, shocking, gorgeous parts. Our bodies and our babies, our love stories, our doubts, our callings.

How He is not shocked by us. Instead, he is so enamored with us that He pursues faithfully, tirelessly, patiently.

Jen writes the story that reminds us that the perspective of time and space we’re tied up in isn’t the only one. Jen’s book reminds us that Heaven listens in; Heaven is interested in what happens here on our small and wildly beautiful planet.

And today I feel like I can hear Heaven leaning in, cheering, because today a testimony of the never-giving-up, always-chasing love story of Jesus for one of His gorgeously stubborn daughters is going out into the world.

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If you’re in a season of doubt. If you’ve never believed. If you’re overwhelmed by your kids and your life and you just can’t fathom how God could be interested in your five million loads of laundry and the bathroom a kid has had an accident in again – this book is for you.

It’s for the doubters and the believers and all of us who live a lot in the in between.

Pick up a copy today – Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It.

May it shock you with the face of a God who is so interested in us and so close to us that once we start paying attention we bump into Him everywhere.

OK your turn – won’t you share in the comments about a woman or two or three who have changed your life? Let’s exhale ourselves for a minute and inhale what we’re learning from the women around us – our friends, our teachers, our encouragers. And if you’re reading in an email just click here to join us.

 

 

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