3.31.2016

If You Bring The Happy, Your Day Will Be Beautiful

I never thought or dreamed in a million years that three of my kids would get married in the same year.

Our oldest daughter, Hope, wed in February with an elegant, formal, uptown wedding complete with the unexpected twist of playing corn hole in our formal gowns.







Ashley, our middle daughter, will get married in the Alabama countryside next month with market lights, vintage furniture, a pizza and hamburger reception, and her favorite popsicles and donuts instead of a cake.

And our son, Jackson, will say “I do” this fall in a lovely garden ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Three kids. Three completely unique weddings. Three different states. All in one year. Hello 2016, you are amazing.

So, needless to say, we have been knee deep in all things wedding over here at the TerKeurst home. Our sticky farm table that just yesterday was full of coloring books, Candyland game pieces, and Legos is now full of white invitations, pictures of possibility for every celebration detail, and a glue gun that might have burned off one of my fingerprints during a wedding craft situation.

But more than helping to plan the weddings, I want to prepare my kids for their marriages.

I’m especially wanting to prepare them for day one of their marriage. And I’m quickly learning that weddings are perfect for teaching young couples a crucial lesson:

The most happy couples are the ones who are most able to embrace imperfections.

Honestly, I’m still learning this lesson myself.

Whether you are the mother, the bride herself, or a hopeful soon-to-be-bride, can I take your hand and whisper a truth we all need?

No wedding is perfect.

The more we resist this reality, the less we’ll enjoy this most special day. But even more tragic for brides, the less you’ll enjoy your marriage.

There’s a little known secret about imperfections. What makes things most beautiful, most memorable, and most notable are the unexpected gifts wrapped in imperfections.

Do you want to know one of my favorite memories of my entire wedding? It’s the only detail brought up time and again at family gatherings. My youngest sister, who was only two years old at the time of my wedding, belted out the Happy Birthday song during the lighting of the unity candle. It was obviously unplanned, but became a completely delightful gift of imperfection.

Of course, some wedding day imperfections aren’t nearly as cute and are way more distracting than a two-year-old’s song. I get it. But I can’t change it. Not for my kids’ weddings and not for yours. The unexpected will happen.

But here’s the great news. Imperfections help others uncross their arms, relax, and giggle. People will love you even more when they see you display grace in a tough place.

At Hope’s wedding, we had a slightly alarming incident where one of the guest’s dresses caught on fire after it got too close to the candles that lined the aisle.

But when I asked Hope about how she felt the wedding went, quirks and all, she said: “Mom, you prepared me in the best of ways for my wedding day. You instilled in me the heart of happiness no matter what happened. Your constant reminder of, ‘if you bring your happy, your wedding will be beautiful’ rang in my head for all of our wedding weekend festivities. I could’ve easily focused on something that didn’t go ‘right’ and let that ruin the moment for me… instead I laughed off the imperfections and thought to myself, ‘this will be a great story one day.’”

So embrace the unexpected.

Smile at the crazy.

Laugh at the unplanned.

And relax.

If you bring the happy, your day will be beautiful.

(Thank you Brian Schindler for capturing these beautiful memories.)

3.24.2016

3 Questions to Ask Before You Turn into a Quitzilla

My friend Nicki Koziarz has written a fabulous guest post for all of us who have a tendency of letting our emotions dictate whether or not to quit something. I wish I could send this blog back in time to my younger self because y’all. For real. I quit so many things when they got hard. So, I think you’ll really appreciate the wisdom Nicki is sharing with us today.

My friend Melissa and I used to work out together. I say used to because, hello, my name is Nicki, and I’ve quit everything.

Anyway, I signed up for this boot camp in one of my I’m-so-desperate-for-change stages. My thighs were getting gigglier, and my muffin top was no longer sucking in, despite all the fancy undergarments I bought.

For the first few weeks boot camp was a really good thing. I felt great after I worked out, my muscles were stronger, my clothes were fitting better, and I had a new circle of friends working toward the same goals.

But like a lot of things I begin, my commitment to boot camp began to waver.

One Thursday morning Buck, our boot camp teacher, was in a pretty bad mood. Normally he was super encouraging, but on this particular morning I felt like he was fed up with me.

He probably was; I would have been fed up with me too.

The last part of our workout that day was these things called planks. Planks are basically putting your entire body weight on your elbows and holding your body up for as long as required. R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s.

Buck had instructed us to hold our plank for a certain amount of time; I can’t exactly remember what the time limit was. But it was an eternity, I promise.

So in my head I counted the plank out, and Buck counted according to his stopwatch. But for some reason my count and Buck’s count were very different. When I finished the count in my I head, I dropped to the ground. But Buck screamed at me to get back up!

With wide eyes I looked at my friend Melissa who was right beside me and said, “Did he just YELL at me?” She confirmed, “Yep.” Well then.

Well, I did not get back up. In fact, I started crying. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because the tears just kept on coming. I felt like a mortified wimp.

I know Buck wasn’t trying to humiliate me; he was doing what I paid him to do, push me.

But in that moment, on that day, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I quit! And I became quite the Quitzilla: furious, fed up, and fast to walk away.

Here I sit almost two years later typing these words, wondering what I would look and feel like today if I hadn’t given up so easily.

But it’s not just workouts I tend to want to give in to the temptation to give up. So before I make that decision to quit, I’m asking myself a few questions to help keep my inner Quitzilla at bay.

1. Are my feelings dictating my commitment?

Whenever I have quit something because I’ve been angry or upset, it’s always led to regret. Keeping my feelings in check has been so helpful!

2. Have I given this decision twenty-four hours?

Taking the time to reflect before we quit something is incredibly important. Twenty-four hours almost always provides another perseverance perspective I desperately need.

3. If I quit, am I reflecting God?

I want to represent God in all things, not just the easy things. So asking myself this question before I quit helps me keep His viewpoint in place.

If you think you might have a Quitzilla in you, or if you just need some encouragement to keep going, I’d love to invite you join Proverbs 31 Ministries for our next Online Bible Study! We’ll be going through my book 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit and study the life of a woman who had every right to give up, but didn’t, Ruth.

The Online Bible Studies team is giving away 2 copies of the book to Lysa’s readers! To enter, head here to sign up for the FREE OBS and then leave a comment here on the blog sharing your favorite Bible verse that helps you persevere.

3.18.2016

Did I Hear God Wrong?

Have you ever felt God calling you to step out in faith, only to find yourself wondering if you heard Him wrong?

I understand. Thoughts of doubt crossed my mind daily when I began to listen to the promptings on my heart to write.

The International Christian Retail Show is a big book convention where publishers, authors, agents, media and bookstore owners all gather to talk shop. Books are pitched. Books are sold. Books are talked about a lot!

I went to this conference years ago when I was a wannabe writer with a book proposal and a dream. Recently, as I signed copies of my book, two thoughts went through my mind.

First … thank You Jesus, that people actually came to my book signing. Because there’s nothing quite like standing there with a big stack of free promotion books, a permanent marker and not a soul interested.

So when people actually came, I just wanted to hug every single one of them. Seriously. And if I had lots of money, I would’ve bought them all a steak dinner. I’m not kidding.

The second thought was … look for those desperate for your encouragement.

Many who came through my book signing line were interested in writing a book. I remember being there.

I know what it feels like to walk around with a tote bag full of book proposals and a heart full of nervous hope.

I know what it feels like to consciously choose to live every day “by faith, not by sight” like 2 Corinthians 5:7 instructs. Honestly, it’s hard to hold on to God’s promises when all that’s staring back at you is a pile of rejection letters from publishers.

That calling we once felt so strongly starts to feel more like a fairytale than a future reality.

So, I felt the weight of responsibility to give them the encouragement I so desperately needed when I was in their shoes.

Maybe you are there right now, looking to actively pursue your dreams or the things God has called you to. But whether it’s the hope of being an author or another dream you have bumping around in your heart, here’s what I’ve learned:

Rejection from people doesn’t mean rejection from God.
If God has gifted you to write, write! You don’t need a book deal to have an impact with your writing. The same is true with other dreams. If you’re called to sing, create, teach, paint, develop — use your gifts right where you are to bless others.

Most overnight success stories are years in the making.
Value the daily discipline of small steps of faith, hard work, honing your craft and putting in time learning and developing. Take classes. Be mentored. Push through those moments you want to slack off. And do it over and over, year after year.

Be a blessing to others.
Don’t keep your work to yourself. Find people who could be blessed with your work. I love to write. But what I love more than writing is seeing my writing help other people. That’s where I find the encouragement to push through the hard times.

Expect opposition.
The challenges and disappointments and setbacks are all part of it. And honestly, these hard times serve a great purpose. I’ve learned much more from my failures in writing than my successes. Use these lessons … don’t waste them by giving up too soon. And remember to glorify Him whether it’s a struggle or a success. God uses all things for good.

Look for the small open doors right in front of you.
I always scratch my head when I meet people who tell me they want to write and speak but aren’t willing to teach a small Bible study first. If God is calling you to do something, He’ll have a door open in front of you. But it might be a small door. Look for the small door and walk through it.

Actually … dance through that door with great joy because He will always do great things with people willing to be faithful in the small!

If you feel called to be a writer, start with a small step by downloading my free audio series, “4 Resources You Need to Jump-start Your Writing.” Click here to get started!