Messy Beautiful Love – 3 Copies of the Book & Journal Giveaway!

cover-messy beautiful love

Today I am celebrating the launch of my dear friend – the Time Warp Wife‘s book:
Messy Beautiful Love* by Darlene Schacht.

Darlene and Courtney

I had the honor of writing the Forward to this book!!!

This book both challenges and motivates me to exchange God’s ideas and ideals for my own.  Her hope-filled story of a marriage changed by the grace of God reminds us that no marriage is ever beyond God’s redeeming grace.

This excerpt from the book is raw…as it takes us to the day her husband discovered her affair but it’s only just the beginning – the beginning of God revealing himself to Darlene in new ways and her marriage transforming from messy to beautiful.

Darlene Writes:


It was my husband’s birthday

I still had some wrapping to do when I heard the hum of the garage door open and close. I glanced at the clock. It was only three thirty; the kids weren’t even home from school yet. Michael wasn’t due home for at least another hour, and if you know my husband at all, you’ll understand why this took me by surprise. Michael’s never been late for work, he doesn’t come home early, and he’ll miss a day only if he’s bleeding from the eyes. Whatever the case, I was just glad he was home. This was going to be an awesome night with the family, and I couldn’t wait for it to get started!

Leaving his briefcase by the door, he asked me to join him in the living room. I wasn’t sure what was up, but one glance at the stone-cold look on his face told me that something was wrong—terribly wrong.

Sitting across from him, I’ll never forget the sound of his voice as it rang in my ears and ripped through my heart.

“Are you having an affair?” he asked.

Looking up at him I quickly answered, “No. Why would you even ask that?”

“Please don’t lie to me,” he said. As he continued to question me, the heat rose in my face. My cheeks were numb; my mouth was dry; my body was weak. “Did you have an affair?”

I hung my head, unable to look in his eyes. Sitting alone on the couch, I felt the fear of truth spin around me like the web of a spider until I was helpless to move. Barely able to speak I lifted my chin in a nod and then in another. My house of cards collapsed, my shame crashing to the ground along with it.

My sin, the glorious fruit of lust, had enticed me into the pit where all I could think of was death. For death itself had enveloped me, and with it came shame and reproach. I had sinned against God, my husband, and my family. Everything I had once held so dear to me loomed above the pit of sin and shame I had dug for myself.

Every muscle in my body was heavy, tense, numb. I was disconnected from the pounding of the blood that sped through my head like a runaway train. Even if I wanted to speak—even if I had something else to say—I couldn’t. My jaw was locked; my throat was closed.

Michael stood up, and as I watched him walk out of the room, I realized that in every sense of the word, I was alone.

Through a fog of confusing emotions I managed to get off the couch and go out to the car where I fished through my purse for my keys. Not knowing what else to do, I drove. I didn’t know where I was going, what I should do, or where I’d be spending the night. All I knew was that I had to go someplace—anyplace—but where?

Finally pulling into a parking lot, I stopped the car and collapsed onto the steering wheel. My thoughts were a dark and dusty swirl of emotions that ripped through my heart and beckoned me into the grave. Tears poured down my face like poison escaping a wound, and I sobbed until my stomach was raw from the pain.

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a home. And I didn’t have a shoulder to cry on. All that I had were the shattered pieces of my life.

A few hours later I made my way back to the house, where I started packing up a few things I could carry. Michael came into the room and sat down on the far corner of the bed. Staring straight ahead, he started to talk. This was my husband, the man I had lived with for nearly half of my life, but in every way he was different, from the sound of his voice to the way that he carried himself. We were suddenly strangers.

We exchanged words for a while,but at the end of the day I had nothing left to offer him but soiled rags, words of remorse that he couldn’t rely on, and promises where all trust was gone. My eyes were swollen from crying; my heart was heavy with shame.

“Do you want to stay?” he asked.

I didn’t know how to answer. All I wanted to do was stay with my family—to turn back the clock a year. Back to a time when being a wife and a mom was all that I knew and all that I wanted to be. But I was unworthy to be a wife, a mother, and a child of God. How could I stay in a place where I didn’t belong? How could I ever live on the surface again? How could I ever be trusted to love?

“I can’t,” I said. “I just can’t.”

Again he said, “That’s not what I’m asking you. Do you want to stay?”

Loving his wife as Christ loves the church, Michael reached down to me with a hand of grace when I needed it most. When every thought told me that I was unworthy of love, something miraculous happened that changed the way that I look at marriage and the way that I look at our Savior. It was the realization that I am saved by nothing but the power of grace.

Perhaps that’s how the woman who was caught in adultery felt when she was brought to Jesus. Face-to-face with her Savior, she was left with nothing but His hand of grace. What did Jesus write in the sand with His finger that day? Some say He was listing sins—and perhaps He was. But a part of me will always wonder whether it was an invitation that beckoned her to come home to a place where sin is washed away by the blood of an incomparable Savior.

There is incredible power in the words of Jesus Christ, who said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11 nkjv). It takes incredible strength for a man to echo those very same words.

I didn’t deserve Michael’s love and forgiveness. I didn’t deserve a second chance. I didn’t deserve my family, and I didn’t deserve to be loved by those whom I hurt. But in that moment of darkness when one person in this world cared enough to display the covenant-keeping love of Jesus Christ to His church, I turned from my sin and clung to the grace of God that is strong enough to break the bands of sin and death. It’s strong enough to graft one man to a woman when everything in this world threatens to pull them apart.

Excerpt from Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages,* (Thomas Nelson)

Here’s the Book Trailer:

(If you cannot see this video – click here)

I’m so excited to be giving away
3 copies of the book
along with this beautiful journal today!


Enter here to win!

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And don’t delay waiting to see if you won this giveaway or not.

If you know your marriage is a mess and you need encouragement -
buy Messy Beautiful Love:
Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages


Walk with the King,


*Amazon Affiliate Link 

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst – 5 Book Giveaway

The Best Yes

This came in the mail last month!  Hooray!

I am so excited to be a part of Lysa Terkeurst’s launch team!

She has written a new book titled:

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.*

Are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul?

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.


Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But in the midst of everyday “growth opportunities,” she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog ( and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.


Renee Swope, Me, Lysa Terkeurst, Kelly Stamps

I had the privilege of meeting Lysa about 2 years ago and being a part of her webcast for the release of her New York Times Best Seller — Unglued.

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of The Best Yes below:

the best yes cover

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To sign-up for the free : The Best Yes Webcasts - click here. 

To purchase The Best Yes book, participants guide, and DVD Curriculum  – click here.*

Walk with the King,


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What Women Want (a memoir giveaway)

By Emily T. Wierenga


Courtney Joseph

I was drinking twelve cups of coffee a day, addicted to sleeping pills, and only eating supper.

We were newlyweds; we’d been married under the trellis in my parents’ yard, my Dad, a reverend, officiating the ceremony and the flowers in my bouquet as fake as the smile on my face. I was terrified.

I didn’t want kids, I didn’t know how to make a home—my mother made homes, I lived in them. So my farm boy and I went on a three-week honeymoon to the Maritimes, to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and PEI, and flew home to basement suite where I put holes in the walls.

I put holes in the walls because I was so hungry. I didn’t do love well. I didn’t let anyone close, because my childhood was spent moving, from one place to the next, and we always had to look the part—the perfect preacher’s family part—and I turned anorexic at nine years old. Because starving myself was easier than feeling lonely.

And here was this man, sleeping in my bed, and I didn’t know how to let him in.

And one day he came home from work to find me crying because I hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t get the living room to look just right. We had purple couches from the thrift store and a borrowed coffee table and we lived in a basement suite. Trent took my face in his and said, “I’ll make supper. You rest.”

I nodded. “Thank you,” grabbed a bag of marshmallows, and disappeared into the office to do some painting.

After a while Trent called, “Suppertime!”

He’d made hamburgers and what he calls “fancy salad,” the kind where he grates carrots and chops onions even though they make him cry.

And I came out of that room with an empty marshmallow bag and white lips. I sat down at the dinner he’d made and said, “I’m sorry babes—I’m not really hungry.”

It was a silent meal with the sound of Trent’s fork and knife on his plate and this anorexic woman with the white lips.

I’d only meant to have one or two marshmallows but they’d filled a hole in me. And then they were gone.

And I wondered why he wasn’t, too.

How many of us settle for marshmallows when we’re actually craving food that will last?

How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?

I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.

Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it friends? A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?

We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.

But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.

No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds your soul.

Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.

There’s no turning back from love.


My memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away THREE copies today!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”


Click HERE for a free excerpt.


I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just orderAtlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
HERE, and send a receipt to:, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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**I attempt to read cover to cover all books that are mentioned at WLW. I apologize that I was not able to finish reading this book before it was time to post this post therefore, this guest post is not an endorsement of the book – but I do love Emily’s writing and heart.

Books I’m Reading & A Giveaway: 5 Copies of You Are Loved!

Publishers send me a lot of books to review and I simply can’t read them all and review them –  BUT there are three honorable mentions, I must share with you! I really respect Crossway Publishing for putting out doctrinally sound books. These three books are solid, Biblically edifying books for women (and easy to slip into your purse to read on the go).

3 books

1.  Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman

2. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Whitacre

3.  Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals For the Family by Jessica Thompson

I also have a dear friend, Tricia Goyer, who has published over 35 books – {gasp – unbelievable right?)!  And so I must mention a few of her brand new books released this year as well:

Tricia Goyer's books

2 of these are fiction books and to be honest, I rarely read fiction unless I am reading out loud to the kids – but I love Tricia Goyer – so here are her recent releases: An Amish Garden, The Kissing Bridge and Plain Faith.

And finally, my real life friends – Angela Perritt and Sally Clarkson have teamed up to write a beautiful Bible Study!

Courtney Sally Ang


Angela writes:

You are loved…

Because some days I need to be reminded of that truth and I have a feeling you do too. I believe we all have a longing deep inside our hearts to be loved and cherished completely for who we are…unconditionally.

Sally and I wrote You Are Loved with you, dear friend, in mind because we firmly believe that once you embrace God’s unchanging love for you and let that truth soak deep down into the core of your soul, you will never be the same. God’s love for you will change you from the inside out. Once you embrace His unconditional love, you will be able to live more freely, more securely and more passionately in life.

Angela has offered to giveaway 5 copies of her new book!  Hooray – thank you Angela!

Enter to win below!

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Walk with the King,


Who is the Spiritual Leader in a Mismatched Marriage?

Lynn DonovanLynn is back for part 3 of our series:

Who Is a Spiritual Leader?

Our online community at often tackles many of the unique and challenging areas of living in a spiritually mismatched union. One of the common struggles we face has to do with spiritual leadership.

The spiritual direction of our home is monumentally important. We all wrestle with how to handle this issue well. In my own marriage this was an area of great confusion for me. Many difficult questions troubled my mind, such as,

•          Do I wait for my husband to become a believer before setting the tone in our home for prayer and Bible reading?

•          If I take any initiative to teach my kids about faith, will my actions be perceived as disrespecting my husband?

•          Can I be the spiritual leader of our home and yet follow my husband’s lead in other areas of our marriage?

•          Will my kids listen to me if I’m not the head of the household?

•          Does leading spiritually make me the head of the household?

•          Am I up to the task of spiritual leadership all on my own?

Tell me that I haven’t been alone in this! If you, like I have been, are in the midst of this kind of confusion, today I want to set your feet on a path to freedom.

Many years ago I heard this statement:

If your husband is unwilling to lead spiritually or has abdicated his position as the spiritual leader of your home, then God expects you, the believing wife, to step into this role.

Upon hearing this single sentence, I felt the cloud of confusion lift from my soul, and freedom flooded my heart. I will add that if you are raising children as a single parent, God looks to you to step into this role as well. Somehow I guess I needed permission to become the leader for my kids, and it came with those words. What a relief. But how do we step into this role and do it well?

It begins with our motives. The effectiveness of our parenting and successful navigation of our marriage greatly increases when we consistently check our motives. I had to ask myself, “Does my desire for my husband to lead our home come from a place that is me-centered or Christ-centered?”

Let me be specific. Here are some of my thoughts from years past:

•          If only he would believe, he would help me get the kids ready for church.

•          My life would be so much easier if only he was a believer.

•          If he believed, I wouldn’t have to sit with each of the children tonight and pray with them. I wish he’d help.

•          Going to church alone is so embarrassing.

Okay, I know I’m not the only one to have had these kinds of thoughts. But there comes a time when we must move past ourselves and truly focus on what is Christlike. Motives born out of love and humility will move us to wake the kids on Sunday morning and take them to church, even if we must do it alone. Out of a loving heart, you can say to your husband, “Sweetie, watch the television without me for an hour. I’m going to go tuck the kids into bed and say bedtime prayers.”

There are many ways you can build respect for your man and still quietly lead your family closer to Christ. More than anything, I go back to the truth of 1 Peter 3:1: win them over without words. Win your kids, your husband, your friends, your neighbor and a world that is lost and broken. Win them over with your boundless, crazy, passionate, fervent, zealous and adoring love for Jesus. When you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, over time it is irresistible to people. And that’s a promise.
~Not Alone, Lynn Donovan & Dineen Miller

CONVERSATION: Have you struggled, wondering do I lead my kids in faith or do I wait?

See you in the comments. Have an amazing day.


Congratulations to Gina M – our winner of Monday’s giveaway (I emailed you)!

Here’s our second giveaway of the week –  1 copy of

not alone 3

Not Alone: 
Trusting God to Help You Raise Godly Kids
in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.

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