Thursday, May 29, 2014

One more announcement...are you ready for this?

On June 9th, the SDG Link-up returns at our new home,!

But this isn't a link up for you to join to drive traffic to your site.

Nope, it's even better.

This is a link-up that allows you to share your heart and meet new ladies. Ladies Jesus could totally use to rock your world.

We are bringing the link-up back, yes, but we are going back to our roots -- the roots of encouraging our friends, our sisters in Christ, with the very love of God that resides inside of each and everyone of us.
{God really did call me to lay down the SDG link-up for a time and for a purpose, but by His grace, He's let us enjoy this gift for another season.  Praise God, because friends, it's an amazing way to get to know each other, isn't it?}

You game? Mark your calendars.  Tell your friends.  This is all for Soli Deo Gloria...for God's glory alone.  Get ready to meet some amazing ladies. {Don't you know you're one of them?}

June 9th! See you soon! {I've missed you already!}

{Seriously, this should be my last post here, but you never know what I'm going to forget.}

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We've Moved!

Feel free to poke around here, but for the most up-to-date information and to participate in our community, we'd love you to come over to our new home.  Can't wait for you to join us!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Until we meet again and the {last} Soli Deo Gloria Party

I completed my sign! (Not sure what this is about? Click here.)

I'm not sure what exact words I can say that could possibly express what I feel right now. Do you know how many Soli Deo Gloria parties we've had? This is number 178.

178 weeks of being together in this space.  178 weeks of sharing our hearts, of encouraging each other.  178 weeks of walking each other through devastating news and crazy miracles.  178 weeks of getting to know each other.  178 weeks of allowing God to use these relationships so we do not feel so alone in our triumphs and our tribulations.

178 weeks of forging friendships.

It's hard to let go of something I've had for 178 weeks.  And I would be incredibly sad if I didn't know God's promises to continue this group healthy, whole, and vibrant.  (Our new site is, but it's not ready yet.)  Last week, I asked y'all's opinion on tag lines for our group (because it is our group, not my group).  The majority of people chose "Come as you are," but those who chose "No make-up required" had some amazing reasons for loving that one.  And so, I emailed the wonderful person, Katie Radke, who is designing our logo, header, and such and asked her if we could have both.  The tag line on the header will be "Come as you are" and the footer will have "No make-up required."  While I understand the rules of branding are to pick one and stick with it, I don't really care. I think God will use both to speak to women who enter our new site.  I just want to thank you for participating in this community -- I was amazed by the number of Facebook posts, emails, and texts I got regarding this.  I love your participation, your investment, and your encouragement.  Thank you.

I don't know when I'll have everything ready for our new page, but I will announce through our Facebook page, Twitter, and our email group, so stay tuned!


Just a few more updates:

Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A couple's journey to freedom from pornography:  Craig and I have 2 more chapters to edit before we are finished!  Hooray!  And the big news? God really used Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word, to help me pray Craig through his recovery.  One of the things that brought me so much comfort was her recognizing that porn addiction is real, a problem, and something we can use prayer to overcome. In addition, she issued a bit of a wake-up call to the church to begin to bring this problem into the light.  God started talking to me about asking her to write the forward to our book, to which I promptly replied, "No."  Risk that rejection?  Ask a prominent Christian writer to be a part of something started by little us?  Ridiculous.  But, He wouldn't let me drop it.  So I wrote a letter, asked my editor about it, and she sent the letter with a copy of our book on Friday.  This is beyond craziness to me.  I would love your prayers for this process.  I just want God's will.


3rd Annual Soli Deo Gloria Retreat: Retreat registration is live!  Go here to get more details and a link to the registration form.

What's a going away party {for Finding Heaven, not the SDG Sisterhood} without a parting gift?  Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter to win one of our SDG necklaces! (If you'd like to order one if you don't win, just email me at

Comes with chain
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Okay...time to link up your heart and let us know what's happening in your world. Make sure to leave your neighboring sister a word of encouragement!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Time for a little FUN!: Without a wing to hide under

There are some people for whom play and FUN! come naturally and others who need some specific direction on how to infuse these elements into life. Whether you are more in need of direct instruction or  not, I am SURE you will glean something from this post to help you incorporate even more FUN! into your lives.
My husband is the fun one of the two of us. There isn't much he will not try; other than trying new foods. His first time on an airplane he sky dived out of it. Who does that? Kids adore him because he will gladly get on the floor and play with them. Once they find out he’s a soldier they simply admire this fun hero of mine.

I'd love to say I'm his wingman but it’s more like I fly under his wing. I leave the fun stuff to him.

I'm a watcher more than a doer. I will come watch the fun any day. Someone needs to capture the fun being had so I typically choose to hide behind the camera.

Then my husband goes off for a year. He had no choice. The Army called. They took my fun guy away. I no longer have a wing to hide under. To be honest, there are days when mustering up a smile is way too much to ask of me.

But God (those two words are always followed by good news) decided my One Word for the year would be joy. I'm discovering a lot about this word. Most importantly, God reminds me over and over again how joy can be found no matter our circumstances. Joy can be found because our joy is found in Him.

I often find myself humming the children’s hymn,

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay”

I stop to consider when I'm humming the words. Maybe fun for me looks different than it does for my husband.

For me, fun is whatever makes my heart sing.

~ Meet me for a cup of coffee and my heart dances with joy from our time of fellowship.

~ A long walk with the sun shining down on me...oh what joy!

~ Whether on a Sunday morning in church, with my small group, or in my car, I love lifting up my arms to worship Him. Yes, even in my car.

~ If my entire family is together, which is too infrequent for this mom, it does not matter what we are doing. I rejoice and praise God for the moment.

However, I believe God wants to draw me out of my comfort zone. He knows I let my insecurities get in the way of joining in for some fun. My fears of failing or rejection hold me back.

The half-way mark of my husband’s deployment was approaching and I desperately needed a night of fun. I needed a ladies night out. As I scrolled through the newsfeed on Facebook I came across an update shared by a friend saying she had plans to attend a ‘Canvas and Cocktails’ event through our park district. Out of desperation for some fun, and a nudge from God, I replied, Can I come too?

I do not paint but it sounded like fun. Without a wing to hide under I ventured out a few weeks later to join two friends, and a few others I did not know, for an evening of painting and a glass of wine.

As I stared at the blank canvas and paint palette before me, I feared having the worst painting in the room and being laughed at. To belong there my painting must be perfect. A beautiful painting would make them like me more. I feared rejection. At the same time I could not wait to begin.  

Once my paint brush touched the blank canvas I could not stop.

I did not know blending colors and spreading paint on a canvas could be so much fun.

We all watched the same instructor but each created our own unique masterpiece. As we oohed and aahed over each other’s piece of art, I quickly realized no one cared how good or how bad I painted. We were all there for the same reason . . . for fun.

It became clear to me as our evening came to an end that I’ve let my need for approval from others hold me back from having fun long enough. As Jennifer Dukes Lee writes over and over again in her book Love Idol, I’ve already be pre-approved by God.

I may have arrived at the event that night seeking approval from others but I left saying, Good-bye, insecurity.

I went to the event for an evening of fun but I left with my identity rooted a little deeper in the place where our identity should truly be found – in Christ.

I left with this . . .

And more “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”

That wing I like to hide under . . . when he returns home I will choose to stand beside him as his proud wife instead of hiding. I think we shall venture off for some fun together too.
About Beth...

Beth Stiff is Simply Beth, at least that’s what her blog is called. A wife to her Army Reserve husband and a mom of two boys, with her oldest son serving in the Navy, and a mother-in-law too. She a Jesus lover, a family gal who loves her friends, and reading with a hot cup of coffee. Her life is changed, even after 20 years of marriage with a love that grows stronger. But the bottom line, is in the heart. Beth loves the heart things and to speak about the Love that changed her and keeps changing her. She’s an encourager who thrives on being in our corner. You can also find her over here, bloggingTwitteringFacebooking, and posting pictures to the Pinterest world.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The SDG Train, Party, and Giveaway!

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a friend.  SDG is about relationships.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  I'm slowly updating the SDG retreat page.  Take a second and check it out?

This week, I'm doing a 7 day cleanse.  One is supposed to give up both caffeine and alcohol in order to get the maximum benefit, but I'm keeping my coffee, especially on Monday morning.

At the same time I'm trying to clean out my physical system, I am also flushing my mental and spiritual systems.  I don't have any discipleship meetings this week.  I'm staying home and going inward a bit.  I'm listening a lot to Jesus.  And I'm remembering that His voice does much more to sustain me than a glass (or two) of wine at the end of the day.  (So in theory, I'm sure His voice could be even more invigorating than coffee, but I'm not trying that experiment yet.)

It's hard to articulate all that He's been saying to me in a fluid way, but I want you to know, so I'm going to the whole bullet point system.  SDG isn't about eloquence.  It's about authenticity.
  • Last week, I didn't tell you all the different ideas God had put in my head about the future site of SDG, but at least two of them y'all confirmed in your comments.  The one I'm  most excited about? We are going to have contributors on different (yes, you can be one!) topics.  We will then catalogue all of these posts on a page on the site for sisters to come and use as a resource.  For example, we might have several people who have struggled with overcoming sexual abuse.  Those will be under one heading so someone can come and hear multiple stories and have multiple resources as she goes about her journey.
  • God has been insistent that this is His project.  My theme verse for this new season is Matthew 11:28-30.  When website construction gets hairy, He's quick to tell me to step away from the computer and come back later.  This time, He said, "Don't touch it until Tuesday."  He reminds me: 1) There is no rush.  2) This is not about self-reliance and pushing through. 3) When the burden feels heavy, it's not God's burden He designed for me to carry.
  • In related news, I have a new mantra: Beach Mama Mentality.  It reminds me to slow, to rest, to trust that I don't have to be in charge of everything all the time.  To help me remember this theme, I'm planning a FUN! adventure to Hobby Lobby to make myself some sort of sign.  If you see on FB or something that I have LOST my Beach Mama Mentality, feel free to tell me to go back and read my sign.  And if you don't see my sign up here next week for our last SDG link-up, you can post in the comments: "Where is your sign???"  Seriously, people. I need accountability for things like this.
  • I have been overwhelmed by the graciousness of this community. Y'all are just stellar.  You're true friends. I have had so many offers of help and it just confirms this: I do not drive the SDG train.  God does.  We are all beautiful cars carrying loads of gifts, connected to each other in amazing ways.  The train doesn't look the same without you and I am really glad you're on this journey with me.  An authentic journey that has stood the test of time. 
Onto the gifts!  I was given 3 children's board books written by Callie Grant from Shelton Interactive free of charge so I could review them.  My kiddos are too old for these precious books, so I am happy to give away the set of 3 to anyone who has kids in her life that might benefit from these:

My favorite one is called Knowing My God: Jesus Saves Me.  (Why? I don't know if it is because the sermon on Sunday was about Jesus being our Shepherd or because I am in a space in my life where I am hearing Him speak to me in abundance).  The book teaches kids that Jesus watches over them, that He is good, and that we can know Him intimately, and that we can know His voice.  I love that my kids know Jesus can and does speak to them -- it has helped them already make some really hard decisions in their lives.

Truthfully, as adults, we could stand to visit some basic principles of our faith, to be reminded of who God is and how He works powerfully in our lives.  In the second book, Close as Breath, she draws a parallel between air and God.  Neither one are we capable of seeing or holding, but this doesn't mean He isn't right here with us.  We just have to be open to Him revealing Himself to us in a myriad of ways.  How many times have I doubted because I couldn't see?  How many times have you?

The publisher, Graham Blanchard, also has support and additional resources to help parents teach their kids about God.  I didn't spend tons of time on the site, but did read their statement of faith.  Pretty right on.  Do you have a special child you'd love to share these books with? If so, use the rafflecopter widget below to enter!
I received these books free of charged and was not asked to give a positive review. These opinions are my own.
Now, time to link up your heart and share with us.  Please lift up another sister next to you and bring her some encouragement today after you link up!  And, if you have any other thoughts/ideas about SDG, I'd love to hear them!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time for a Little FUN!: Polka Dots {A Guest Post}

There are some people for whom play and FUN! come naturally and others who need some specific direction on how to infuse these elements into life. Whether you are more in need of direct instruction or  not, I am SURE you will glean something from this post to help you incorporate even more FUN! into your lives.
I’ve been having a tough month medically (crazy bizarre symptoms that I’ll spare you the details of) and was really starting to feel down about it all. 

Enter my One Word of 2014: Play (which is very FUN!).  It was definitely time for some playing.  But to really do my idea, I thought would cost over $100.  I had a VERY limited budget of less that $20 to pull off my fun idea.  I thought of a few ways to do it, and ended up just cutting out dots and temporarily putting them on the car for this round.  Maybe later I’ll get actual magnets of different colors and do it for real. 

My boys shook their heads at my idea.  I didn’t even TELL my husband.  I KNEW he would shake his head too.  This was the face J made when I finished my project. 

But I HAD FUN and I was not even working!  It is possible. 

Andrea is a wife, mom with a 4th grader still at home, two grown sons, and two really cute grandkids.  She lives in the country, but works at a full time corporate gig in the city.  She loves to organize, garden, cook, find frugal ways to do everything and blog about all of that.  She does not clean house well, because something has to give.  Andrea currently blogs as ASCancerFree, as she undergoes treatment.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Birthday Month {Giveaway!}, Playing Pick-up Sticks, and the SDG Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a friend.  SDG is about relationships.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  I'm slowly updating the SDG retreat page.  Take a second and check it out?
My first zucchini!
I don't really like to read directions most of the time.  As such, sometimes my projects tend to go awry or completely fail.  This year, I was determined to try my hand at growing zucchini again, even though the last two springs saw zero veggies.

I did all more normal prep work. Adding soil and compost.  Weeding.  And then I read the planting directions..."Plant each zucchini plant 36" apart."

I realized I had  planted my zucchini in previous years in the same bed with six other tomato plants.  They didn't have enough space to grow.  There were too many other things competing for the same nutrients.  

The squash was squashed. {So sorry, I couldn't resist.}

God has been talking to me a lot about the future of the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood and how all the different aspects of it have been a bit draining.  The nutrients have been going so many different places that perhaps there hasn't been space and nourishment for the fruit God wants to develop and grow.

He's been speaking little words here and there, but truthfully, I hadn't really been willing to fully focus on what He was saying.  And then, last Friday, I was in critical danger of losing my domain name for this blog {a very long story I will not rehash}. I began to think worst-case scenario: What would happen if I lost my blog?  

I had a 10 mile run to do with my running partner, so I started processing it all with her. God had my attention, I was listening, and I was open for Him to do a new thing. It's amazing what can happen when I am no longer tied to things I once claimed deemed of utmost importance.

I feel like God has asked me to play a game of Pick Up Sticks. Every aspect of SDG was laid out on the floor, but there were only certain things He wanted me to pick back up.

As such, this morning, I asked God what He wanted for SDG at its very core.  We collaborated and came up with this:

The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood is:
  • Accessible
  • Authentic
  • A praying community
  • A place for connections
The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood is not:
  • Contrived
  • Numbers-driven
  • A heavy burden 
Perhaps our new mission statement would be something like this: The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood is an accessible, actively praying, authentic community of women who desire to deepen their connections with Jesus and each other.  

I would love to know your thoughts and ideas on the new mission statement (I'm open to tweaks and changes!) and if you'd like to be a part of a core leadership team for this community.  

There were so many things I was doing with SDG out of my own brute strength instead of being powered by the breath of the Holy Spirit.  As such, here is where I see God pruning and sowing for the month of May:

1.  Disbanding the SDG small groups.  {The leaders are tired and in need of a break.}

2.  Ending the weekly SDG link-up. {May 19th will be the last week. I have some fun giveaways stretching the next 2 weeks after this one.}

1. Getting to know each other in an active settings through our FB page and our SDG email group.  God has specifically placed on my heart for us to really come together both in FUN! and prayer.

2.  Creating a new blog called The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood where we can focus on connecting with each other in real and fruitful ways.  {I'd like to move to Wordpress and have zero dollars to paying someone to set up a site for me. My husband can help some, but if you are a Wordpress wiz and would like to assist, I'm grateful for help.}

3.  Creating a leadership team that will commit to praying weekly for the prayer requests and helping me facilitate meaningful interactions between sisters online.  {If you are interested, please pray and reach out to me at or in the comments.}

So, that's all I have for now.  I'd love for you to continue to be a part of SDG as we grow deeper and I cherish your thoughts and ideas about how to help SDG fulfill its new mission.

NOW, time for a FUN! Giveaway! It's May, which is my birthday month, so I'd love to shower you with some neat gifts!  My sweet friends from high school, Erin and Candace, have started a new online auction business with some amazing clothes and accessories.  You can win this cute shirt by using the Rafflecopter widget below!  (Shirt comes in Small, Medium, or Large) a Rafflecopter giveaway
Time to link up one post that shares your heart. Please make sure to visit your neighbor {and any other SDG sister} and leave an encouraging word for her!