Browse > Home

| Subscribe via RSS

Becoming a Woman of Influence

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

If you’re reading this, you’re a woman of influence. You’re influencing someone. Someone’s watching you, listening to you, and following you. Now that you’re totally creeped out, be reminded that we all have the power to influence around us for good, bad, or indifferent. Whether it’s your kids, coworkers, your spouse, friends, women in your Bible study, or someone else in the line at the grocery store, you have influence.

We love how all of our authors—while influential themselves—know that the most influential people in your lives are those you encounter often. Here are a few quotes from some of our newest Bible studies about being a woman of influence:

“Every Christian is gifted for influence.” (Beth Moore, Entrusted)

“Whether we serve as bosses, teachers, mothers, ministry leaders, or have other positions of authority, we could solve a multitude of problems if we worked for the joy of those we oversee. In other words, if we’re motivated by power, significance, position, advancement, money, or self-worth, then our leadership is not based on God’s love. The people we serve can tell if we’re leading them out of our own self-interest or for their joy.” (Kelly Minter, All Things New)

“You matter. You’re a woman of influence. You’re impacting people around you every day—whether it’s your children or your coworkers or your podcast listeners or the barista at your local coffee shop.” (Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely)

“We have fooled ourselves into believing that serving God in a significant way means standing on a stage with lights, smoke, and skinny jeans.” (Nicki Koziarz, A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit)

“The goal is Christlikeness, not us-likeness.” (Beth Moore, Entrusted)

Whether you read her blog every day, you sit across from her over dinner, or you use Skype to attend her Bible study, those are the women who are leading you. Those are the women you are leading.

Here in Nashville at LifeWay Women, we’re gearing up for our biggest leadership event of the year—the Women’s Leadership Forum. It’s an incredible three days of learning from other women of influence that will be relevant to wherever you’re leading or being called to lead. We hope that you’ll consider joining us! We can’t wait to learn how to lead better alongside you, the women who influence us.


My 3 Biggest Fears as a Teenager

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Focus On The Family
Several of us at CHRI are involved in student ministry. Whether we have teenagers of our own, hang out with nieces and nephews, volunteer in our churches, or through the Family Fun Team, we love discipling students to grow in their faith. That’s why we found this article about what teens fear and how to minister to them very helpful.


The teen years can be scary. Adolescents stand on the cusp of adulthood and face a flood of newness—new feelings, new experiences, new relationships, new responsibilities, new decisions, a whole new stage of life. It’s overwhelming, like we’re standing at the edge of a cliff, told to jump but unfamiliar with what’s below.

And we’re afraid.

As a teen just now crossing into the threshold of adulthood, I’m all too familiar with the fears of adolescence. All that instability, confusion, and decision-making can be stressful and even painful. I’ve laid awake at night because of a melting pot of fears bubbling in my mind, poisoning my peace.

Three Fears

Above all, three fears have screamed the loudest and lasted the longest: fear of the future, fear of failure, and fear of both intimacy and loneliness.

1. Fear of the Future

When I was little I thought I had my future figured out. Like most kids, I painted a picture of adulthood with beautiful, happy colors, cheerfully envisioning precise details of my life. At 12, I’d planned out my education path, career plan, car model, and the homeschool curriculum I’d use with my future kids. And then God abruptly tossed my pretty puzzle pieces out the window and directed me to a different path. He invited me into different opportunities, and filled me with different dreams and desires.

While I don’t pine after those displaced dreams, my future no longer looks so sweet and simple. It has lost its rosy, predictable blush and has been iced over with a harder edge. It’s unknown. As teenagers we start to realize the idealistic plans we made as kids aren’t sure things. We don’t have control.

Last winter, a few months after I turned 18, marked one of the most unstable times in my life. Mentally and spiritually, I was settled, but in every other part of life, I was in-between: in-between school, jobs, plans, and security. Stress lingered. My future was a blank slate, everything was up in the air, and I felt swallowed by the unknown. Fear of the future pressed in.

2. Fear of Failure

If teenagers are honest, it’s not just the unfamiliarity of the future that scares us—it’s the idea of failing in it. Failing in school, work, relationships, driving—basically, failing at life. We’re afraid of disappointing those we love and messing up in some extravagant, irreparable way.

The fear of failure is paralyzing because it inhibits us from taking risks and moving forward—which is, of course, what growing up is all about. Becoming an adult is embracing the process of trial and error, repentance and grace. As teenagers, though, we often long to skip the failure. We want life handed to us in a color-coded game plan. Go to this school, get this job, marry this person, and you’ll win. We want to know it all, and we want to know it right now.

That’s me. I’m a perfectionist, and I dread mistakes. Failure would give me nervous sweats. It was always there, hovering darkly and persistently on the horizon. It has genuinely terrified me.

3. Fear of Intimacy and Loneliness
One of the greatest things I’ve feared failing at is relationships. Many of us teenagers struggle with two below-the-surface (and seemingly paradoxical) relational fears: intimacy and loneliness. Intimacy connects to a fear of being known for who we truly are. As teens, we’ve become more self-aware and have started to carefully examine our own hearts. We usually aren’t too impressed with what we see. This is the season of my life where I’ve never been more aware of how sinful and broken and flawed I am. Yet it’s the season where I’ve never been more aware of trying to cover up my flaws. I’m afraid of people seeing the real me.

But I’m also afraid of being alone. Isolation and loneliness are serious threats to my happiness. I want to be loved. I want close friendships. I want community. I don’t want to be by myself. But I fear the risk of relationships.

Four Ways to Help Teens Overcome Fear

Teenagers wrestle with much crippling, shame-fueling fear. So what can you do about it? You’re the parent of a teenager, or you work with teens, or you are a teen, and you want to know, How can I help teenagers overcome their fear? Here are four suggestions.

1. Teach them to put their trust in the right place.

All fear bleeds from misplaced trust. We trust in ourselves or our circumstances or our dreams, and we idolize our security over our Savior. To fight fear, we must cultivate trust in the one person who’s in control and never changes. Faith is fear’s ultimate weapon.

2. Prepare them for difficulty.

Telling teens that life will be easy if they follow Jesus is a spectacular deception. It gives us false expectations and only feeds our fear. After all, what happens when our dream job falls through or we fail dramatically? It shakes our already faulty foundation. Help us face fear, then, by preparing us for fearful circumstances.

3. Encourage them with your experience.

Fear isn’t an exclusively adolescent sin, not by a long shot. Have you thought about sharing your own struggles and stories of fear with your teenager? Encourage them that they’re not alone. Then show them how the gospel has freed—and continues to free—you from fear.

4. Combat fear with gratitude.

Fear withers where gratitude thrives. Teach your teens to root out fear with intentional thankfulness. If they’re afraid of starting a new school, help them create a list of things about the experience they’re thankful for. Show them what it means to put their focus in the right place.

Don’t Forget to Remember

Jesus told us we have no reason to fear (Matt. 10:28). No reason whatsoever. Whatever happens, God’s in control and he’ll take care of us. Yet we still fear, teenager and senior adult alike.

We fear because we forget. The cure for our fear, then, is to remember.

Remember God is sovereign. Remember God is good. Remember God loves his children. Remember God is faithful. Remember God is present. Remember God is on for us in Christ, on our side no matter what.

Why, then, should we fear?


How to Date When You’re Almost Middle-Aged

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
This is close to my heart as a few of my close friends are living this. They feel like they’ve done everything “right” but are not married. When you long for something so deeply but God hasn’t yet answered your prayer, how do you live & in this case, how do you date when the pickings are slim? – Ashley



The older you get, the weirder your prospects for marriage become. At least that’s what a then-single cousin once told me. Those weren’t her exact words, of course, but the gist of what she said was that our odd quirks and habits become more prominent as time passes, and our rough spots get rougher without enough close human friction to sand-smooth them down.

My cousin was probably younger than I am now when she said that and free to date without today’s many online “aids” to romance. But what she said rings true to my current dating experience as someone within spitting range of 40. (I just turned 38.) The men I meet—on websites and apps and in lines for coffee—are shaped by many more experiences and more settled in life than my youthful self ever imagined, and so am I. During the years when I thought I’d marry in my 20s, I assumed I’d figure out a lot of life’s big questions with a spouse. I thought I’d figure out a lot of me in relationship to a husband and probably children.

Instead, I’ve spent the (gulp) two decades since high school facing those questions with God, my church, and good friends. And rather than my identity being shaped by marriage, my identity now dictates the options I have for marriage, if those even remain for me.

Though I’m younger, perhaps, and childless, my situation is not unlike that of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon, brought to vivid life in Whit Stillman’s uproarious new film Love & Friendship.In the story, adapted from an early Austen novella, Kate Beckinsale plays a merry widow with a very Machiavellian flare for relationships. Much of the movie revolves around her efforts to badger daughter Frederica into marrying a wealthy simpleton who tries to wax eloquent over garden peas and thinks the Bible has 12 commandments. Her daughter balks at said “stallion of romance,” but Lady Susan thinks he could give Frederica long-term safety from homelessness and hunger.

In fact, however, Lady Susan has a far more precarious position than her daughter. As her shrewd friend Alicia points out, it is not the virginal Frederica who most needs a practical marriage, but Lady Susan herself. While Frederica holds out hope of supporting herself if need be, Lady Susan must string together a haphazard sequence of long-term visits and mysteriously rented lodgings in order to keep herself and her daughter housed. (Susan’s short-lived spouse left her little more than his name and child.) And while Frederica’s youth gives her some time to explore romance, Lady Susan vacillates between another woman’s husband and the much-younger brother of her reluctantly hospitable sister-in-law.

Though I do not share Lady Susan’s urgent housing problem, I, too, must adjust to romantic options that are dramatically different than those of my youth. The last time I made a concerted effort to date was during that New York stretch of my mid-20s, which I chronicled in Sexless in the City. In the time since then, “older” men have gone from being in their early 30s to being 48 and a half years old—the average age of the men I’ve recently met online. Some of them are divorced, and it’s probably only a matter of time before I date someone with children from a previous relationship.

When you’ve spent the bulk of your life expecting a different plot and cast, it can take some adjusting to the lines you’re actually given and the losses that may come with them. Sure, the story I thought my life would follow first came to me in grade school—not quite my sagest season in life—but it’s still hard to quit assumptions that I’ve held for almost three decades.

Several months ago, a man I once dreamed of marrying re-entered my life in one of the most unlikely ways imaginable. (In fact, I sometimes tell friends that God must still be slapping his knee over that one.) Though I’m long-since over that old attraction and wish him well in the life God has given him, our recent contact has made me strangely grateful for the disappointment that once nearly broke my heart.

In ten years, he and I have grown in very different ways, and what I value—even what attracts me—has changed greatly. Though I still battle fear that “God’s best” might turn out to be lifelong singleness and barrenness, this new perspective on my past helps me hold my old dreams more loosely.

As I adjust to dating at almost middle age, I’ve learned three main lessons, offered here by way of Lady Susan’s example.

Stay in community.

Although the relationships are tenuous, Lady Susan’s family provides essential support to her. I too have benefited from living in community. First with single roommates and now in the former convent where I live (with two young families and some other adults), I find life in community vital to my relational health. Not only does it sand down my odd quirks, it also frees me to take romance as it comes. Men don’t have to be more than dates to me because I don’t require romantic success for support, validation, or even regular interaction with children.

Know when to hold your standards, and when to fold them.

Shared faith remains a must for me, but like Lady Susan, I’ve learned to adjust my requirements. I once put great stock in chemistry and intellectual connection, but the older I get, the more I value being completely at ease with someone.

Finally, laugh about it.

Perhaps Love & Friendship’s greatest gift to viewers is how well it highlights the comic foibles of love. We live in a time that conflates romance with transcendent meaning and demands god-like satisfaction from love. Sometimes laughter provides the best antidote to such exhausting, misplaced worship.


Addressing the Elephant (uh um, iPhone) in Your Marriage

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
We’re all guilty of it! When we’re on the phone its important, when someone is on their phone, they’re being rude. Let’s talk about that elephant in the room! – Ashley


Your spouse is on his/her phone while you’re together. YOU become annoyed.

You have three options:

  1. You can call your spouse out on the spot, and perhaps arouse the elephant in the room.
  2. You can choose to not say anything at all, stay annoyed, and take it out on him/ her in a passive aggressive manner later.
  3. You can choose to not say anything in the moment, but address it later when your spouse’s defenses are lowered a bit.

What do you most often choose?

Personally, I hate calling Christi on it. We can be driving down the road as a family and she’s on her phone, in the passenger seat of course, and I say something along the lines of,“Honey, do you want to join us?”

As you can guess, it usually doesn’t go well.

To be fair, I’m just as guilty. (Though I would argue I spend less time on my phone than my wife does on hers, but who’s keeping track?)

Christi and I realized the other day there’s not much else we become more defensive about than when we’re challenged, by one another, for being on our phones. Why is this?

I think it’s because we know deep down, there’s truth in our spouse’s accusation.

And the deeper truth, the truth that hurts the most, is that the motivation behind my wife telling me to get off my phone is because she genuinely wants to connect and be with me.

The message I send is that I’d rather connect with and be with my phone than with her.

I think it’s time we start calling out the elephant in the room, and show our spouses that we love them more than we do our devices.

Here’s how we’re doing that:

1. Cuddling one another before cuddling our phone.

In our research of 665 individuals with the Screen Balanced Quotient Test, we found that 78% of people check their phones as the first activity of the day, often even before getting out of bed. One researcher found that kids are acutely aware of their parents’ disengagement from one another and even view their parents as hypocrites when it comes to setting screen limits in the home. [1]

When we cuddle one another before our phones as the first act upon waking in the morning, we begin to set a precedent of what our priorities really are.

2. Justifying our time with one another rather than our phone.

This blog is only necessary because, for most families I coach or encounter, the natural tendency is to pick up our phone in our down time rather than connect with our spouse. Think about it, when the kids are finally in bed what do you first turn to? What about at the dinner table?

Our natural tendency is to justify our actions. Christi and I are trying to no longer justify our time on our phones because it’s too easy to do so. Instead, we started justifying time together. This isn’t as easy to do.

3.   We have an e-nup—an electronic nuptial agreement

Nothing helps you to both know when you should or shouldn’t be on your phone than when you sit down together to put it in writing. We created an e-nup as one of the many tools within our resource: The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century.

We realized a screen-balanced family starts with you and your spouse. If the two of you are not united, your kids will divide you.

I suggest having one day a week that’s a family tech free day. Ours is Saturday at sundown to Sunday at sundown. We also have a hard and fast rule that no devices are allowed at any meal, at home or in a restaurant.

Talking about and setting expectations on the elephant, I mean iPhone, takes away the power it has in your marriage.

So stop justifying. Start cuddling. And set an e-nup.

To help you with the first step, we’re offering the e-nup for free for the next three days! Goodbye, elephant.


Fall Front Porch Décor

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
My husband & I have just bought our first home – yah! After years of living in an apartment, we have our first front porch J. I’ve been perusing Pinterest for fall décor ideas & here are some of my favourites! – Ashley


Bringing Fall To The Patio

Welcome to Our Fall Front Porch!

Tartans On The Porch

Fabulous Fall Containers

Pre-Thanksgiving Week

“W” is for Wood Tags

Recycle. Restore. Renew. Respire. Reflect.

Homelife Calendar and Scripture Art

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Encouragement


A song we’re getting a lot of feedback on!

October 1st, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Artist Spotlight
Over the past few weeks CHRI has been getting a lot of positive feedback on the song “Mansion” by Christian rapper NF. A song we initially were not even going to play. We love seeing how God uses all types of music to speak healing and hope over people. Here’s the story behind the song:

& here’s the whole song: