Book Review: “The Dream of You” by Jo Saxton

Book Review: The Dream of You by Jo Saxton

"What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told youwho you were allowed to be?" — Jo Saxton, The Dream of You

IsisWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be Isis. From time to time (usually after watching the “Shazam! Isis Power Hour” on Saturday mornings), I would suddenly strike a pose, speak the magical phrase, “Oh, Mighty Isis!” and transform myself—mentally, at least—into a superhero goddess ready to use all my powers to fight against evil!

I loved everything about this nerdy female archaeologist with huge glasses and a secret superhero identity. (I’ve included a video at the bottom of this review for your entertainment.)

Who did you want to be? Do you remember? If so, feel free to share it in the comments below. I’d love to know!

Headshot of Jo Saxton, a Nigerian-Londoner with short natural hair and a beautiful smile.
Jo Saxton

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Jo Saxton. As a little girl growing up in London, author and speaker Jo Saxton had a dream: She wanted to be Wonder Woman. And I mean, she WANTED to BE Wonder Woman—red boots and all!

In case you are unfamiliar with this wonder of a woman, Jo is a Nigerian Londoner who currently resides in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.

Her book, The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For, traces Jo’s lifelong transition from childhood dreamer to adult achiever.

The Dream (and Struggle) of You

What I find so striking is the similarity between Jo’s struggles and my own—even though we are SO different!!! For example:

  • OppositesWe have completely different cultural backgrounds (immigrant vs. born citizen);
  • We were raised on two different continents (she in the UK; me in the US);
  • We have different personality types (she’s an ENTJ; I’m an INTJ);
  • We have different enneagrams (she’s an 8, and I’m a 1);
  • We have opposite body types (probably because she doesn’t like chocolate and I do!)

We are basically opposite, and yet our struggles were/are very much the same. How is this possible?

On her quest to explore the different things that held her back or kept her from moving forward in her own life, Jo dug deep and discovered that the root causes of her brokenness, although personal, were not unique to her. They were, in fact, quite common to the human experience—especially that of women.

And like any good Bible teacher, she found biblical examples for each struggle!

The Struggle Is Real

Weaving the story of her own life’s journey together with that of Joseph, Esther, David, Naomi, Hagar, Ezekiel, and others, the author reveals thread-by-thread that God is present with us through our most difficult experiences, and how they add color, dimension, and texture to our character.

Jo Saxton Live Video ChatOver the past few months, I’ve been privileged to interact with Jo as she discussed her book and her thoughts behind the various stories she shares in it. Reflecting on the first few chapters, she said,

There are times when we have an earthquake in our souls, habits, the way we live. We don’t simply rise up and get over it…but we also don’t want to be defined by it the rest of our lives.”

The Dream of You was never intended to be  a survival manual. It’s about wholeness and redemption and purpose.

The first part of the book not only prompts us to reflect on what (or whom) we’ve allowed to define us but also challenges us to re-imagine what life could be like moving forward: Mended. WHOLE.

It's Powerful

Jo explains the profound impact negative and destructive comments and experiences have on us—minimizing nothing. These experiences simply underscore the reason she wrote the book: to remind us that there is wholeness to be found in relationship with a redeeming God.

When the grit and guts of your broken identity meet the grace and goodness of God, it will reveal you, but He will transform you. You’re in Him now, with all His resources available to you. You have access to His power, mercy, and grace.” (p. 21, emphasis mine)

Each chapter in the The Dream of You begins with a short, heartfelt letter from the author to the reader. In it she offers words of encouragement while setting the stage for the theme of that particular section.

Jo expounds on each theme by sharing a formative experience from her own life as well as a similar story from the Bible, and you don’t have to be familiar with the Bible to benefit from this! Jo has provided quick summaries and backstories of each character so the reader will not be lost in the explanation.

Then, without the use of a Venn Diagram, the author focuses her attention on the intersection of the stories, exposing the root of the issue. She culls out transformative biblical truths and challenges the reader to face the facts in her (or his) own life. She concludes the chapter with suggested action steps geared towards fostering personal growth and spiritual maturity.

Book Flow & Themes

The chapter titles, though creative, are pretty vague if you haven’t read the book yet; therefore, I complied a list of themes (noted in parentheses) followed by one or more of my favorite quotes from that chapter to provide a more helpful overview of the text:

  • Introduction (Dreams)
    “What was the dream you had of yourself from the very beginning? Before life interrupted, before anyone told you who you were allowed to be?” (p. 3)
  • Chapter 1: Don’t Call Me “Pleasant” (Insecurity)
    “Insecurities, if left unaddressed, can grow from momentary emotions to a definitive worldview that determines how we feel, think, and act. Insecurity becomes our identity.” (p. 12)
  • Chapter 2: What’s in a Name? (Compromise/Hiding)
    “Throughout biblical history, God transformed people…God changed the names of people and in doing so changed their stories.” (p. 35)
  • Chapter 3: The Talk (Perfectionism)
    “Many of us know what it feels like to hide our identities in order to survive. We do what it takes to fit into our family, our workplace, our friendship group. We spend our energy trying to fit into our context, into society, into what is demanded of us according to someone else’s terms.” (p. 44)
    “God wants to redeem it all. Rather than your being transformed into a broken identity by the pressures of your world, He wants to transform you to recover who you fully are. Are you ready to be led toward redemptive wholeness, even when you might still fear for your survival?” (p. 56)
  • Chapter 4: The Day I Lost My Voice (Bullying)
    “At times, women apologize for who they are. They minimize their abilities as if they’re expecting someone to tell them they’re arrogant for having talent, ability, and dreams. Some women, particularly those who reach high levels of influence in their field, are plagued by what is known as Imposter Syndrome, or the impostor experience.” (p. 66)
    “When our voice has been taken, we redirect our lives toward ‘more acceptable’ interests. We excuse the damage caused by having been silenced…we make ourselves small.” (p. 68)
  • Chapter 5: God’s Child (Redemption)
    “If we are going to embrace our full identity, know our name, and live out our vocation as we speak with our true voice, if we are going to embrace who we are and what we’re living for, we need to know whose we are.” (p. 82)
    “The things that once defined you don’t have to shape you forever. He [God] transforms your entire life.” (p. 88)

  • Chapter 6: Known and Loved (Vulnerability)
    “You are fully known. He has seen it all and He knows it all. And still you are deeply, deeply loved.” (p. 108)
  • Chapter 7: Slay Your Giants (Courage)
    “It seems that when God redeems a person’s identity and leads her to her purpose, there’s a backdrop of battle and vulnerability.” (p. 112)
    “You will battle the giants that stand in your way, but when you do, don’t even try to fight in someone else’s armor.” (p. 122)
  • Chapter 8: The Wander Years (Refinement)
    “Even with abundant examples in Scripture, when the wilderness experience makes up part of our faith journey, we may not always understand when and why it’s happening.” (p. 132)
    “Wandering in the wilderness exposed the truth that in order to be fully free, the Israelites didn’t just need to get out of Egypt. They needed to get Egypt out of them.” (pp. 136-137)

  • Chapter 9: In the Valley (Doubt and Discouragement)
    “Had I been wrong when I felt called…Or worse, was it just some fantasy idea that I’d decided was a divine calling? Who did I think I was?” (p. 153)
    “We feel too crushed to feel known and loved; we are convinced we have nothing left to offer as a voice or purpose…We’re at the end of ourselves; we are forced to face what life has done to us. It’s tempting to mute our pain rather than face it.” (p. 155)

  • Chapter 10: Breaking up with Perfection (Authenticity)
    “Survival is not the same as being whole.” (p. 168)
    “Are you ready to confront your brokenness, rather than keep hiding it underneath greater efforts to prove yourself to others?” (p. 170)
  • Chapter 11: The Song in My Heart (Community)
    “You’ll need people who see you and know you, people unafraid to remind you of the fullness of who you are. They won’t be threatened by you because they are the kind of women who celebrate who you are. You need people who want to hear your voice and don’t mind how loud it gets. People who get excited about your dreams and your unfolding purpose.” (p. 173)
    “God provides people to help us. Sometimes they’re further along in the journey, and they’ve seen more…They’ll celebrate resurrection of your name over the things that have falsely renamed you, and they’ll keep encouraging you.” (p. 185)

  • Chapter 12: Practices (Disciplines)
    “We don’t adopt practices to prove ourselves or to perform for God’s approval. We already are seen, known, and loved. Instead, the practices make room in our overscheduled lives for God to meet with us. We find that by making time for God’s engagement with us, we are changed, transformed, redeemed.” (p. 192)
  • Chapter 13: Pick up Your Keys (Stepping into Your Purpose)
    “A healthy identity opens our life to abundant purpose…There is less of me—of my self-absorption and self-protection—and there is more room for others. There’s less energy spent striving, proving, and more room for dreaming.” (p. 210)
  • Epilogue (Action)
    “Let’s not allow a sense of inadequacy to tell us we’re not ready or not enough for the task.” (p. 219)
    “Maybe we’ll remember to be tender and nonjudgmental as we remember our own stories.” (p. 220) 

It’s EASY for me to recommend The Dream of You because it is well-written, organized, funny, engaging, well-researched, insightful, empowering, and theologically accurate.

But what I would like to add is this: On every level, the teachings contained herein resonated with me. Jo’s journey mirrors my own—not on the outside, but on the inside. 

And I can testify that what Jo offers you in this book is the same thing I would offer you in my own book: Truth. God is faithful and ready to redeem the years the locusts have eaten (cf. Joel 2:25-27). He can take what was meant for evil and flip it for good. In fact, He does it all the time.

Are You Ready?

The question is, are you ready to recover the The Dream of You? If so, then you have found the right resource with which to start your journey. I highly recommend this to women of all ages, but especially those who have been waiting on God for what feels like a very long time.

🎧 Jo has also recorded an audio version which you will LOVE, if you’re into audio books. 

With no further ado, meet my childhood superhero: Isis.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Word. Choose It Wisely.

Laura Zielke

I cannot believe it’s already November and Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season in about two weeks! What?! Where did the year go? And what will next year bring? 

Over the past few years, I’ve traded in my old, rusty New Year’s Eve tradition for something modern and efficient. And I can testify that the results of this new habit have been pretty darn fabulous!

I’m talking about choosing a one-word theme for the year versus creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions which may or may not be achieved. 

Back towards the end of 2013, I first learned about the “one word” challenge on the radio and thought I’d give it a try. I’ll be honest: I don’t actually remember what my first “one word” was. I think I gave the process about as much thought as my resolutions were getting around that time in my life. I certainly didn’t embrace the process!

2014 was probably the hardest year of my life ever. I felt lost. Alone. Sad. Confused. Overwhelmed. Depressed. Worn-out. As the end of 2014 approached, my favorite radio morning show hosts were once again discussing the “one word challenge.” This time, I paid closer attention. 

The concept was birthed out of a desire to address failed New Year’s resolutions. According to Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, co-authors of My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word, our resolutions tend to fail because they focus on characteristics we want to change versus who we want to become. The list can become overwhelming and yield little results. 

The My One Word challenge is simple: lose the long the list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you in the year ahead. This process forces clarity and results in focus. (website)

I decided that for 2015, I would take the one word challenge and write it down this time. So, my word for 2015 was “CLARITY.” I felt like I had been living in a fog, so clarity seemed like the perfect word for me at the time.

Phew! I had no idea at the beginning of the year just how much clarity I would receive regarding my life, my priorities, and my passions. I was tested beyond anything I could imagine, and my vision became very clear. 

For 2016, I chose “DISCERNMENT” (while secretly holding onto “clarity” from the year before). Over the course of 2016, I needed discernment regarding all kinds of choices and commitments for both me and my family. 

By end of 2016, I was already praying about what my word for 2017 would be. I eventually landed on “COURAGE.” If you’ve followed me for any time, it’s possible you knew that, because I wrote about it on my Facebook page and created a cover image to explain it.

Here’s what I wrote on December 29, 2016 when I posted the above photo on my Facebook page: 

So, my #oneword for 2017 is COURAGE. I chose this photo, because it was during one of the most courageous moments I’ve had in my life: Putting on chains by myself in the middle of a freak snowstorm on the first day of my drive home from California to North Carolina.

(I was the only driver–my son is too young to drive, but not too young to take pictures of mom with the chains!) I first had to purchase the chains…in case we needed them, and then when we did, install them.

I got the process started, but then God provided three French men and one French woman to help get them on correctly. I still had to take them off by myself in five inches of slush. But I did it.

And if I can do this, and then continue driving for HOURS and DAYS… I can do whatever comes my way in 2017. (Phil. 4:13) What’s your ONE WORD for 2017?

Back then, I honestly had no idea what lay on the horizon for 2017—which has been one of the most fulfilling, busy, exciting years of my life! Here are just a few things I got to do this year: 

  1. WRITE one devotional every month to be featured on
  2. ESTABLISH to pray about the 2016 election and for the leaders of this country every day at Noon.
  3. babymPinch-hit BABYSIT for 2 months for dear friends who are foster parents. The little baby who stole all our hearts had been in the hospital for one month due to apparent abuse. He had multiple surgeries, required a feeding tube (which he still has), and a neckbrace which he wore for six months. 
  4. Help LAUNCH two books, one online Bible study, and one movie:
  5. Accept the COMMUNITY MANAGER position with the Nonprofit Leadership Lab
  6. ATTEND a Pre-Grand Opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

I also turned 50 this year. I cannot even believe that. Where has the time gone? I don’t feel that old, and yet, my knees don’t lie: I’m 50. 

the deckFor my 50th birthday, my hubby, son, and I rented our first Airbnb in Plymouth, MA. I sat on a deck overlooking a lake and enjoyed a week’s vacation with my family. On the way there, we saw the Statue of Liberty and a 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. We used our cottage in Plymouth as a hub and enjoyed touring the Northeast. We ate Maine Lobster in Maine on my actual birthday; visited the oldest Marine Society in the world and touched an artifact from 1752; toured the U.S.S. Constitution; and We toured many historical sites and enjoyed a few too many Dunkin’ Donuts. 

I’ve already begun praying about my word for 2018. I think it will be “STRETCH,” but I’m letting it marinate for a while before I fully commit. 

I definitely prefer having one word for the year versus a list of resolutions which may or may not be kept! 

You can learn more about the One Word Challenge at

Why stay the same?! Please join me in this transofrmational process and choose one word for 2018. Share your one word in the comments below! 

“Laugh It Up!” by Payne

Candace Payne - Laugh It Up! Book Review

First of all, let me just say that if you’re looking for something authentic, real, vulnerable, deep, life-impacting, and funny as all get-out, then you found the motherload! You can pre-order it right here, right now:

You’ll laugh! ? You’ll cry! ? You’ll crave tacos! ?

Oh my goodness, y’all. This book. This. Book! Whew!

Chewbacca Mom Made Us Laugh

Most of us first discovered  Candace Payne on Facebook. She was streaming the unboxing of a personal purchase with her friends and family via Facebook Live: a Chewbacca mask that makes Wookie sounds when the mouth is opened.

“You go, girl!” is what I thought as she explained this mask was her birthday present, and she would not be sharing it with her children. (This is something all mommas understand—we do NOT share the “precious” with little humans who break things.)

In case you missed it, or you want to laugh again, here is the video that catapulted Candace Payne to fame as “Chewbacca Mom.”

Candace didn’t spend hundreds of dollars in online seminars on how to build a tribe or sell a webinar course. She simply went live on Facebook sharing her authentic, unbridled, defiant joy with her friends and family, and the entire world responded.

Viral Video Creates Instant Celebrity 

The opportunities that have come her way as a result of the most-watched-ever Facebook Live video have not been squandered: They have been cherished, stewarded, and leveraged for maximum impact.

She has toured Facebook headquarters; been presented with a Chewbacca Mom action figure at Hasbro headquarters; met Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies; enjoyed an all-expense paid trip to Disney World with her family; appeared on a variety of TV shows from Good Morning America to the Late Show with James Corden (including Carpool Karaoke with Director JJ Abrams). Oh my gosh…watch the carpool karaoke & try to get through it without laughing. It. Cannot. Be. Done.

Who Is This Woman & Why Is She So Joyful? 

When I learned Candace had written a book and was building her launch team, I kinda begged to be on it. I may have offered tacos.🌮🌮🌮

Being part of the team not only provided me the opportunity to read the book before it’s published (Nov. 7th is THE DAY), but it also gave me the chance to interact with Candace numerous times in a private group via live video chats.

Over the last couple of months reading the book, listening to Candace explain her purpose for writing it, and experiencing first-hand her heart for people, I’ve become convinced this book was written for a higher purpose than a good laugh—although you WILL most definitely laugh!

The real purpose behind Laugh It Up! is to offer the reader HOPE.

I think most people will start reading this book out of pure curiosity: Who is the woman behind the mask? How could she laugh for 3 minutes straight? Was she always this way?

What will keep them reading is much deeper than that. The real question behind the curiosity is this: Can I experience this type of joy, too?

In Laugh It Up!, Candace shares the challenges she’s overcome in her life—homelessness, sexual abuse, bullying, marital conflict, body image issues, cyber bullying—and how in spite of all the trials and tribulations, she found a way to live life with defiant joy.

I never want to magnify my struggles compared with yours. I only offer my experiences and the journey I have traveled to embrace freedom and live with defiant joy.” (p. 85)

I may have colored the chapter concept drawing. ?

Each chapter features illustrations hand-drawn by Candace for a purpose. She is an artist, and if you examine the symbolism in the illustration, you’ll see where you’re headed. It’s like a sneak preview. Here are a few of the chapter concepts:

  • Joy is a fighter.
  • Joy likes to play.
  • Joy stays the course.
  • When Comparison calls, Joy doesn’t answer.
  • Joy evicts shame.
  • Joy shakes off the haters.

Candace explains:

Those aren’t concepts that I just kinda came up with. They’re from my faith! They’re from the depths of who I am…from my faith! When I say something like ‘Joy evicts shame,’ there’s actually stuff that I’ve read in the Bible that supports that…and has shaped that in me.” (Facebook Live)

By personifying emotions (e.g., Joy, Hope, Contentment, Shame, Fear, etc.), the author paints word pictures to point out proactive steps for a joy-full life despite external circumstances.

Well-Written, Deeply Profound & Laugh-out-Loud Funny!

Beneath the surface of her personal stories and hysterical commentary, you will find a cheerful life coach challenging you and cheering you on to make the changes you need to make in order to live a joy-full life. Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom I highlighted in my copy:

No matter the trial or triumph, I find it’s easier to silence the calls of Comparison when we are content with our lives. Contentment is the antidote to Comparison.” (p. 54)

Don’t relent for one second in your fight for Joy. Either you allow the sum of your darkest memories and mistakes to occupy your thoughts, or you allow Joy to have the remote control and remind you that you are seen, valued, and loved.” (p. 73)

Live authentically with the grace to know risks are where bridges of joy are forged over many waters of disappointments, regrets, failures, and lists of can’ts.” (p. 155)

Candace is the real deal. She is vulnerable, authentic, and courageous—three of the attributes I value most in life. She’s also hilarious!!! I laughed out loud so many times while I read her commentary on life’s unpredictable adventures, I surprised myself. But I don’t want to ruin those moments for you. Read it. You’ll laugh. I guarantee it!
So, if you have not guessed by now, I definitely recommend Laugh It Up! for anyone who needs a good laugh, is curious about “Chewbacca Mom,” and enjoys tacos.
But more importantly, I STRONGLY recommend this book to anyone who is yearning for Joy and Contentment; needing to evict Shame and Fear; and searching for Hope in this life. This book is your G.P.S. for getting there.
⚡ BREAKING NEWS: Candace has also created a video-driven 6-week study to accompany her book. It’s entitled “Defiant Joy” and will be released soon. AND she’s already writing book #2. Candace Payne is here to stay, and I’m so glad!!!
Click here to order: Laugh It Up!: Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy by Candace Payne

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 Pivotal Words (Guest Post)

3 Pivotal Words

I’m so excited to introduce you to my dear friend, Kendall Wolz. I first became aware of Kendall and her blog “Brave Girl, Speak” last year while preparing for the annual fundraising gala for Triad Ladder of Hope where she was the featured guest speaker. I’ve invited Kendall to share her most recent blog post here in an effort to equip you to help—not hurt—any child who reaches out to you with a disclosure of abuse. 

3 Pivotal Words. Could You Say Them?

Guest Post by Blogger Kendall Wolz

We can all say three words, right? Seems pretty simple. What if I tell you these three words could be the most arduous words you may need to say? What if I say these three words could mean the difference between hope and despair, security and endangerment, and possibly even life and death? Could you still say them even if they may wreak havoc on life as you know it?

When the pain and distress of facing my abuser each day at home outweighed my fear of his threats, I made my first disclosure of the abuse. I wonder how often this is true. When the pain is so great and the threats no longer seem to be the worst thing that can happen, how often is that the point that disclosures occur? It makes sense. I can remember thinking that if my abuser killed me (as his threat implied) at least I would be free. It felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose when I wrote that letter in the fifth grade.

I remember that day (although I don’t know the date) as clear as yesterday. My abuser and I had been in an argument over something likely trivial, but it was the breaking point. It just could not get any worse in my child mind. I went to my room and scribbled a letter that began with an apology before detailing incidents of abuse. I delivered the letter to an adult in my life. In that moment, it felt like I was putting my life in someone else’s hands.

Could you say 3 words

Unfortunately, for the person who received the letter, it was just too hard to believe that someone like my abuser could actually be an abuser, and the things I wrote simply could not be true. Therefore, no action was taken to end the abuse. My abuser later learned of my disclosure. Instead of hurting or killing me or my loved ones, my abuser learned that he had total control of me. Because now, I had said something, but no one believed me (abusers often warn that this will happen).

In that moment following my disclosure, the only three words I needed to hear were, “I believe you.”

I. Believe. You.

So, here’s what happens when the words “I believe you” do not follow a disclosure. I learned my abuser was right… in so many ways. I learned the abusive acts were not bad or wrong, they must be normal because no one said otherwise. I learned my abuser was right, no one would believe me. I learned my abuser was right, this is what I was made for and what I was supposed to do.

I don’t write this post to blame or bash people who don’t or haven’t immediately acted on an abuse disclosure. I have forgiven the person who received my first letter and have a relationship with that person to this day.

I write this post to challenge you to commit to the response a child needs even when those three words take every ounce of strength in you to voice.

Take this journey with me. It is not going to be easy. It will be uncomfortable. It may be the most difficult thing you do today.

Imagine receiving a letter from a child that your best friend or your sibling or husband or child’s coach or pastor has been abusing said child. Take a moment and imagine that that.

I know it’s incredibly hard. It is not something anyone wants to imagine. It is something we usually believe will never happen or could not happen.

Then decide, in that moment, what words, if any, are going to flow from your mouth.

Will you question the child’s truthfulness? Will you say, “No way, he/she could never do such as thing.” Will you push the letter away and say tell someone else? Will you say, “If this is true, then…” Will you begin digging into the who, what, when, where, how, and why?

I have made a commitment to myself (and I hope you will too), that if I ever encounter such a situation, the three words from my mouth will be “I believe you.”

It is my belief that if a child has trusted me enough and/or has reached a place of seeing no other way out it is my responsibility to believe them in that moment. I know a lot can happen in the days, weeks, months, and years after disclosure, but in that moment, I am going to fight for that child with every ounce of my being.

Kendall WolzKendall Wolz is the Assistant Director at Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans, LA. Having earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of New Orleans, she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Kendall is passionate about helping women and children impacted by human trafficking and childhood sexual abuse. Kendall has chosen to redeem her own history of being sexually abused by helping others to be brave as well.  The impact of her experiences continues to embolden and protect others through her work and her new blog “Brave Girl, Speak” (

Life Is Like a Box of Puzzle Pieces

Life is like a box of puzzle pieces

Are you someone who enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles? If so, do you top out at 500 pieces, or are you a glutton for punishment preferring 1000+? I’m not a jigsaw fanatic, but I enjoy working on a good puzzle every now and then. My favorite moment in the puzzling process occurs when I finally locate a piece that has been eluding me, setting off a string of easy matches.

Image result for thomas moran grand canyon with rainbow
Pretty sure this is the one we bought.

My mother-in-law loves “puzzling,” and has framed a couple of the more beautiful puzzles she’s completed over the years. When we were at the Grand Canyon a few years ago, we purchased a stunning 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for her as a souvenir. The image was an artist’s rendering of a view from the South Rim overlooking the Canyon at sunset. It was gorgeous! If you close your eyes, you can probably imagine what it looked like; however, I seriously doubt that you would attempt this puzzle without the box right in front of you. Most puzzlers refer to the picture on the box repeatedly to make sure they are headed in the right direction.

So, what if I were to tell you that life is more like a box of puzzle pieces than a box of chocolates? It is. Not only do you “never know what you’re gonna get,” but neither will one bite help you figure it out! You just have to live it. One funky-cut piece at a time. 

Click here to continue reading this
devotional reflection on GOD’S PROVISION at
Rooted at the Throne” hosted by Rachael Carman. 

Book Review: “Detours” by Dr. Tony Evans

Book Review: "Detours" by Tony Evans

Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny is the first book I’ve read by Dr. Tony Evans, and I experienced two distinct reactions to it: resonance and repulsion. I’m happy to report that the good definitely outweighed the bad, and I learned a few practical tips to help discern God’s hand in my life. 

I think the book was written for people who, like me, have felt as if they’d been called to do something specific and purposeful, waited for YEARS, and have yet to see the vision become reality. (I blogged about that here and here.)

Resonance – What I Loved about Detours 

Detours is an in-depth case study of the life of Joseph (based on Genesis 37-50) packed with impactful insights, practical advice, and encouragement to weary Christ followers to stay the course and finish the race marked out before us.

When your destiny is in God’s hands and you are trusting God with all your heart—in spite of your circumstances, mistakes, detours, and distractions—no one can block what God has for you.” (p. 153)

The premise of Detours revolves around God’s creating each individual human being for a specific purpose—a Kingdom purpose—and our experiencing fulfillment in the arrival of our destiny. He explains how God rarely (if ever) takes a person from the cradle to his or her destiny without a number of different detours along the way.

By the time you’re finished with the book, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is a divine detour?
  • Why are detours necessary?
  • How do I know I’m on a detour, and not merely being distracted?
  • How do I know God is with me on this detour?
  • What am I supposed to be doing while I’m waiting for my destiny?
  • How does my past figure into my future?
  • Is there anything I can do to get off this detour and back on the road?
  • How long do I have to wait before I reach my destiny?

Evans posits that while some detours are created to develop certain skills, habits, and disciplines within us so that we can properly handle our destiny, other detours are self-inflicted thanks to poor decisions we’ve made along the way.


If God is not ready to deliver you from it, look for Him in it.” (p. 74)

The good news is that God can flip anything the enemy means for evil for our good (cf. Genesis 50:20), and He will fulfill our destiny when the time is right.

Repulsion – What Annoyed Me in Detours 

The author’s casual, conversational writing style reflects a pastor’s heart and is filled with real-life illustrations much like a sermon would be. As someone very familiar with the story of Joseph, I found the detailed retelling (and re-retelling) of the milestones in his life unnecessary; however, someone unfamiliar will certainly benefit from this effort. 

It was not long before I deduced that Detours was doubtlessly a sermon or sermon series developed into a book. The main development tool must have been a Thesaurus, because the repetition in the book became bothersome.

While I can understand repeating key points and phrases when speaking to a live audience—and I am hopeful those who purchase the audiobook will appreciate it—as a reader, I was repulsed reading the same point multiple times within a few paragraphs. I would highlight a profound statement only to have it repeated—almost word-for-word—in the next paragraph, and/or again on the next page! Thank God for, huh? Honestly, I got it the first time. The repetition felt like filler. (There were also a couple of non-sentences that bugged me because they made no sense at all.)

And, then there was the unexpected switcheroo in the conclusion where the author—instead of recapping the lessons learned from Joseph’s life as expounded throughout the book—chose Ruby Slippersto insert an incredibly well-known and previously un-mentioned fictional character and story line to illustrate his point. I found the introduction of Dorothy and her companions form the “Wizard of Oz” to be completely out of place and the allegorization of the movie’s cast and plot unnecessary and distracting. (There may have been a moment when I clicked my heels three times to get back to Kansas Joseph…and it worked!) Dr. Evans does, in the end, recap Joseph’s journey and the practical life lessons learned along the way. He challenges us to pay attention to the pattern of promotions in Scripture: From Abraham to Joseph and Moses to Esther, we are reminded that our destiny has a kingdom purpose.

Your destiny and kingdom purpose often involve both a hookup and a hope to people beyond yourself. Look for both as God guides you.” (p. 199)

Detours is the kind of book I wish I had read in my twenties, although I’m not sure my twenty-year-old self would have embraced the truths contained in these pages. I highly recommend the book to anyone who finds himself or herself in a holding pattern or on a “never-ending” detour. You will be encouraged and your hope, refreshed. Pastors, church leaders, mentors, and coaches will benefit from the memorable and easily transferable lessons contained herein. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Publishers (LifeWay) as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”