Hello 2017,

You’ve been a bit of a disappointment. I ran into your arms at the pace of my 6th grade skinny-self while 2016’s shadow lingered behind. I hoped you’d be a net of safety and comfort; a fresh start. But who was I kidding? You came, but not without my sassy attitude and negative feelings. I could’ve sworn I packed those up and threw ’em overboard. Apparently not. The thing is, I know life won’t always go as planned. And I know I have it so much better than most. So please, don’t pity me. Tell me to pull myself out of this slump, rub some dirt on it, and get a grip. But first, will you just let me be held?

Father, thank you. For holding me when the tears come and I don’t even remember why I started crying in the first place. Thank you for being the voice I need when I’m numb to all of the others. Your grace sweeps over me and our teeny, tiny apartment like a wave and it’s refreshing. Can you send those waves a little more frequently? We certainly need them up here in apartment two-zero-one-zero. Love you. -Your Wild & Committed Daughter.

I met Bekah Jane Pogue in Instaland (insert your eye-rolls, I don’t even care). I’m certain it wasn’t a coincidence. About a month after following her, I bravely reached out to see if I could snag an advanced reader’s copy of her book that was releasing in the upcoming month. I’m always for the under-dog. (Shoot, that came out wrong. In no way do I believe Bekah to be wimpy or weak, but it’s her first book and well, she’s not famous yet.) She kindly replied and a copy of her very first book showed up in my mailbox. The cover read “Choosing Real” with the tag line “An Invitation to Celebrate When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned” and I was sold.

Sure, I beat teen pregnancy, graduated from college, and am now married, so things seem to be going in “the right order” according to an outsider. But has my life gone according to plan? Not. One. Bit. Lots of things have happened, or not, that I’d change if I could play God. But I can’t. I won’t. Bekah’s invitation sounded like the next best thing.

The next best thing, it was. I shed tears, giggled aloud, paused to bake, noted so many of my GODsense moments, and began attempting to be stop being everything for everyone. (For that very reason I’ve decided I’m going to ignore the haters and let my bad self carry on in run-on sentences.)

It drives me crazy when people spoil (or talk during) a movie, so I won’t say much else about this book, but please do me a favor and add it to your reading list this year. It’s not preachy, nor will her stories put you to sleep. Choosing Real lives up to the tag line as an invitation to celebrate your life when it goes awry and I don’t want you to miss that party. (There will be chocolate chip cookies and some pretty cool people if I do say so myself. Ahem, Bekah and I.)

Friend, I’m not sure what Real is going on in your life. Maybe it’s disappointment with your spouse, the loss of a loved one, or a bank account that’s plummeting. Perhaps it’s an unwanted pregnancy, the inability to get pregnant, or the letdown of every date you go on. No matter what you’re going through I hope you know that you are not alone. On page 14 Bekah writes, “Choosing Real is opting to see how present Jesus is in real-life circumstances. Choosing Real isn’t about putting on one’s big-girl panties. It’s not about being strong, pep talking, or reciting the words “Let’s do this.” Choosing Real trusts God has a beautiful plan in the mess, in the scary, in the unknown, in the tears, and in the not feeling enough.”

To enter for a chance to win the free copy Bekah’s giving away, leave a comment sharing 1 thing in your life that hasn’t gone as planned + your Instagram handle. Feel free to elaborate, or not. Winners will be chosen at random, so no need to share more than you’re comfortable with. I will announce the winner on my Instagram account (@mandacarpenter) on Sunday, January 8th!


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Manda's weekly letters on faith, marriage, motherhood, soul care, social justice - and occasionally the collision of it all. 

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