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5 In Inspired Blogger

Inspired Blogger: Jolene Underwood

InspiredBlogger_new I met Jolene when she began linking up to The Weekend Brew.  Immediately I knew she was a woman with a big heart.  I have enjoyed getting to know Jolene over the last few months and know that you will grow to love her just as much as I do.

Without further adieu, please welcome Jolene Underwood!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

My life is nothing like I thought it would be. I never thought I’d live to get married, let alone have kids. Now, I call myself “mama to many” due to being a mom to bio, step, foster, homeless and our babies in heaven.

I met my husband as a single mom of two boys.  He was a single dad of one.  We began our marriage with the joy of Christ, but early on legalism entered.  We tried to make control a venue for providing structure. We embraced the world of “how you should be” or “what you should think”.

Over the last few years God’s grace has been breaking us free. In 2012 we moved to the country to live as foster parents on land owned by our agency. We faced an incredible number of physical, emotional and spiritual battles. I have never been so exhausted and overwhelmed, or so moved in my heart and soul. On the last day of school in 2013 we moved home. By then we’d cared for 13 foster children in addition to our other four.  By now I was probably dealing with PTSD and couldn’t keep going like I was. This last year has been one of healing & rest.

How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?

I started my first blog, JavaJo at Home, many years ago, but did virtually nothing with it. It was going to be a homemaking, herbal, gardening, DIY blog. Eventually I realized that those weren’t really the things that drove my writing. In 2013, I started His Not So Perfect Housewife.  It was my way of telling others that I fall and fail too.  Still, it wasn’t capturing the heart of me.

In January of this year, 2014, a vision for my writing became clearer. I started Joleneunderwood.com with the tagline and social media handle of @FaithEyes.  I am learning to trust that He sees all things, and I cannot. In believing that God is good and trustworthy to lead us, we can walk without fear.

What is the purpose of your blog?

To share faith journeys filled with grace.

I’m not a blogger who will tell you “10 ways to fix something”. I may, however, share ten ways I’ve made mistakes and how God spoke to my heart through them. Personally, I’m tired of reading all the “answers to good living”.  God is our ultimate source for living well, and living well doesn’t equate with perfect children, perfect marriages or perfect faith. I’ve seen Christians hurt themselves & each other by refusing to talk about anything seen as negative. I’d rather recognize the reality of suffering, trials, anxiety & fears, then walk through them with the Creator of all things. So, I share journeys that have grown my faith. I also seek to encourage others to find freedom & courage to live by faith.

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I’m learning the craft of writing and having a great time with it. For many years, writing was put on hold. Now, the words are filling up in my mind & I am freed up to take this journey. As I write, healing takes place, the Lord ministers to my own heart and I provide a place to connect with others.

What are you passionate about?

A lot!

When God opens our eyes to the need which is all around us, we cannot shut it out. My eyes have been opened. I am forever changed by my experiences, especially as a foster mom. I’m compelled to bring awareness to the foster care needs right here in America.

I love to encourage encouragement & connection. God has designed us to be in community and the enemy continually tries to draw us into isolation.  We are also often blinded to the cries of hearts right in our midst.  Let’s learn how to listen well & love well.

I’m a bit passionate about my hobbies and can get distracted easily. But, I’m working to find balance.  I love gardening organically, natural living and herbs. Currently, I have plans to become a certified facilitator for the Kendall Life Language Profiles, with more life coach training to follow.  My husband and I found it to be an extremely eye opening and helpful tool.

Who or what inspires you?

Music can really ignite my heart and rejuvenate my soul. I love Matt Maher, Hillsong, Matt Redman, Jadon Lavik, David Nevue, Meredith Andrews & Third Day.

Tchividjian’s messages on grace and suffering have been powerful agents of change and healing for me.

Chip Ingram & Paul Tripp minister the messages of my heart and Jason Johnson with All In Orphan Care writes the posts for fostering & the gospel that I haven’t been able to write. Listening, reading, and studying set my mind ablaze with ideas and words to write.                                                           

Tell us something random about yourself.

Growing up I was in softball, volleyball, cheerleading, basketball, canoe racing, gymnastics, ballet, tap, jazz, swimming & dancing. I don’t like sports. I would have rather been in drama but I was too afraid of rejection to try. For more, 25 Random Things About Me.

Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?

“A Restless Wrestling”.  This post was written for a linkup on Jennie Allen’s site. Circumstances around going to her book launch were significant for me. This piece started from a place in my heart where confidence was growing. It turned into something that really is far too long for a “good” blog post, but I still love it.

Jolene Underwood - Faith Eyes
JoSidePink2-2Jolene Underwood writes about “living for Him with faith-eyes”. Through a number of trials over the years she has been challenged to step forward in the faith she professed to have.  God has continually beckoned her to “be strong and courageous”.  Through fear and failure, God’s grace has broken through.  God’s grace has brought freedom.  On the blog you will find stories of fostering, faith, family, fear, failure & freedom. She has lived imperfectly and continues to do so. With grace there is growth. She’d love to connect with you in the journey to live with “faith-eyes”
17 In Inspired Blogger

Inspired Blogger: Ginger of Ginger’s Corner

I have had the privilege of hosting Ginger on my blog for Featured Friend Wednesday.  I just love Ginger’s heart, and we are similar in so many ways.  I so appreciate her authenticity and the honest way she shares her life.  I am thankful to get to host her again as my Inspired Blogger for the month of June.  I hope you will take the time to get to know her more.  She’s a gem!

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Without further adieu, meet Ginger of Ginger’s Corner.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am wife to a retired Marine and mom to three teens/young adults. We have spent 24 years in this mobile military life and have had some great adventures. One of my favorite places we have lived is Okinawa, Japan.

As a speaker and writer, I love sharing with women. It is pure joy to encourage others to grow in faith. I have been speaking for nearly 10 years—yikes—where does the time go? Whether speaking or blogging, it is particularly fun when God gives me funny things to share. I really wish I could produce humor on demand, but for me it just doesn’t work that way. Humor is a gift and is simply one part of all that God puts in my heart.

How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?

I have been blogging for 3 1/2 years. I really had no idea what a blog was when I got started. While living in Okinawa, I was involved with a women’s ministry on the military base. As part of ministry, God gave me a good idea for a book. The initial concept came together and I began to look into publishing. I realized blogging was a great way to share and develop my writing. Being a true techno-igno kind of gal, I had no idea how to get started until one of my college roommates volunteered to help me. I am so grateful for the kind friends who have pitched in and helped me along the way!

What is the purpose of your blog?

My tag line is “Where the Spiritual Meets the Practical.” This is the place where God meets me, where the spiritual meets the practical…my everyday life.  The blogosphere is a great spot to explore this process where the spiritual and the practical intersect in daily life. You will find a variety of posts– devotions, Biblical wisdom, how-to’s on spiritual growth, family life, military wife stuff, and sharing life as it is–all with the focus of applying spiritual truth in the nitty-gritty of our day.  Whether serious, reflective, humorous, or down-right zany, sharing practical ways to learn and live God’s wisdom is the heart of this blog.

I hope to encourage others to hang on to faith and dig in with God as I share what I am learning along the way.

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I love being in the creative process with God. From idea to finished blog post, it is such joy to see where God takes this crazy thing called blogging. I really love getting to hear from readers as they add to the conversation.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about God’s Word, women’s ministry, and mentoring. I am grateful for the women who have invested in me with encouragement and wisdom, and I want to continue to pass on the same blessing to others.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by real women who live honestly for Christ with wisdom and joy.

Tell us something random about yourself.

Random? Hmmm… Interesting random? Impressive random? Or just random-random? How about clutzy-random? I once dropped a running hair drying in the toilet.

Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?

When You Are Afraid You’re Not Good Enough.  This post gets at one of the areas I struggle with. In writing this post, God ministered to my heart and taught me some important insights about using our gifts with confidence. This is a post where I was simply God’s typist, and I still receive encouragement when I read it.

Ginger_newSpeaker and writer, Ginger Harrington ministers to women in a variety of ways. Encouraging women to discover practical ways to go deeper with God is an emphasis evident in her popular blog, Ginger’s Corner: Where the Spiritual Meets the Practical.

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1 In Inspired Blogger

Introducing Inspired Blogger Gina @ Contemplating Beauty

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I have been following Gina’s blog for a while now.  I’ve always been captivated by the beauty shared in her space, through her every day life, through the struggles she’s triumphed over and through her beautiful photography.  I just know that you will be inspired and encouraged as you visit her space and read her words.

Without further adieu, meet Gina of Contemplating Beauty

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there! I am a city girl gone small town, and love any beauty I can set my eyes on. I am a mother of a 19 year old daughter, married for 12 yearsrs and I’m in love with my little bichon-poo Nell’s. I love to write, crochet, worship, read, explore new cities, and decorate.  I love nature!

How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?

I’ve been blogging for about 3 years. I originally started because I had to quit my job due to an illness I was battling. Blogging/writing helped me have an outlet to share!

What is the purpose of your blog?

I’ve learned that my main gifting is sharing. Sharing my heart for others. Sharing my stories for others. Sharing my struggles for others. I have a heart for connecting with God and people in true authenticity.

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

Like I mentioned earlier, I strongly feel like our stories and our lives are for others. When the bible says to ‘Mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice’ we can’t truly do that unless we are intentionally connecting with others. I have such a passion for that. So through my blog, that is my goal. If 100 people read a post, but say “only” 3 felt moved or gained something, then that’s what matters. I am a classic “wounds turned into wings” gal, and sharing my journey with others hopefully helps others find their wings.

What are you passionate about?

My heart yearns to have a heart like Gods. I literally beg Him to give me a heart like His. Unlike most people, I am into being refined! I actually welcome suffering because I know it’s in the darkness of that that light will eventually come through. That is where healing happens, and where our character is built. It’s where God does His most astounding work IN us. So I guess you could say I’m most passionate about finding healing, becoming whole, and relationships.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by faithful people. When I see a mother lose her child, and press on in the deepness of that pain, I am inspired. I am moved when others see and believe how BIG God is and that He’s got things taken care of ahead of time for us already. It’s inspiring for me to see women dealing with their wounds and brokenness, and to find healing and redemption. To live in authenticity, because it’s such a rarity. On a more shallow level, I am inspired by nature, art, and all the things I love that others do really well: painted flowers, amazing crafts, delicious recipes, and beautiful singing voices!  One last thing that inspires me: People who sell their homes and pick up and leave the comforts of life and go live in a remote place, become missionaries, open shelters or homes, or explore and travel! It’s also a dream of mine!

Tell us something random about yourself.

I guess something random would be that I don’t like trends. That’s not to say I would never or have never followed one. But for instance. I am super annoyed about the Essential Oil trend happening right now. It baffles me. I’ve been using oils for 13 years, it’s not a new concept at all, yet people are suddenly buying kits and using them just because they are trending? How does this happen!? Haha!  I also don’t like trendy lingo, like when “swoon” was cool to say, I mean I didn’t even know what it meant! My biggest pet peeve is the whole “your’re welcome” thing that’s surfacing after someone makes a statement or shares something with someone. HA.

Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?

Sure, probably the one I wrote about on my sexual abuse story. I’ve realized through the years in sharing my story, that there are many women who have been through similar struggles, but they haven’t spoken, or written about it. It means a lot to me that I can be a voice for some. I also like the poem I wrote I Want To Be Her. It hits home with so many women, sort of like my latest post on comparisons and trying to find your place in this world through figuring out your key gifting.

Gina(Square)Gina blogs over at Contemplating Beauty where you’ll find her thoughts on faith, family, struggle and relationships. She’s a city girl at heart, living in a small town. She’s been a mother for 19 years and married for 12 years. If she’s not writing you will find Gina reading, praying, drinking a latte’, walking her Bichon-Poo or crocheting. She loves people, nature, crafting and art.your
10 In Community/ Inspired Blogger

Inspired Blogger: Carrie @ Let Hearts Bloom

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Today I am giddy with excitement to introduce you to someone who has become a dear blogging friend, especially over the last several months. I found her when she was blogging over at Carrie’s Heart, and really began to connect with her through a Facebook group we were both involved in for bloggers.  Not only has she provided technical and blog design assistance for me in a pinch, but her words truly inspire and encourage me.

Without further adieu, meet Carrie at Let Hearts Bloom.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I celebrate 19 years of marriage next month. I have four children, three girls and one boy. I homeschool them but it is me who learns the most! God teaches me (and corrects me!) nearly everyday. My favorite activity is reading. Walking and writing tie for second.

How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?

I’ve been blogging for about five years. Wow, I can’t believe it! Originally, I created a family blog to share news with out-of-state relatives. I started to homeschool and used a second blog to record ideas and projects. I switched from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site and experimented with graphics and blog design. Writing was pushed to the backburner. Then I read the Bible for the first time at 39! I began to seriously focus on my spiritual growth. Several blogs later I found my voice and now I share my story!

What is the purpose of your blog?

My prayer is to encourage.

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I enjoy the friendships. As a writer, I express my thoughts and emotions better through written words. So blogging is a blessing to me!

What are you passionate about?

Striving to become the woman, wife and mother God already sees. I read an analogy recently that stuck in my mind. “Like a talented sculptor before he begins to carve, God knows exactly how the finished product looks.” It completely changed my perspective! I’ve got a long way to go!

Who or what inspires you?

People who demonstrate unshakeable faith and trust God no matter the trials or failures. The apostle Paul is my biblical hero.

Tell us something random about yourself.

I am a first-year piano student. I’ve always wanted to learn how to read music and I’m thrilled I can do both now!

Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?

Let Hearts Bloom is very young so I don’t have a lot of writing on it yet. However I believe the more willing I am to be raw and vulnerable, the more connections I make. On an earlier blog, I wrote why I started to homeschool and how the decision evolved and changed my family. Opening my heart and home to others certainly struck a chord and I received the most thoughtful comments. I love how blogging unites us!

IMG_5247_1_crosscrop_smallCarrie blogs at Let Hearts Bloom, where she shares some of her passions: loving the Word of God, encouraging others, writing, educating her children and capturing everyday shots.  You can also find her on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
5 In Inspired Blogger

Inspired Blogger: Rebekah @ A Soft Gentle Voice

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The most beautiful thing about blogging is meeting like-minded, Christ-loving and amazing women along the way.  I’m not sure exactly where or when I stumbled upon Rebekah’s blog, but her words are a beautiful reminder of the love of God.  She has a way of getting my attention and pushing me toward that desire in my heart that yearns for more of Him.

Today, I am excited to introduce you to Rebekah at A Soft Gentle Voice.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I once was dead, but have been made alive. I have been redeemed through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of His grace. I am in Christ. I want to love Him more and come into a deeper and more intimate relationship with my Lord.

As the leaves turn gold and crimson red this year, I will celebrate 15 years of marriage with the wonderful man I fell in love with the first time I saw him ~ when I was still a teen. We have been blessed with three beautiful children ~ a darling first born daughter, a dazzling middle son, and a delightful ‘not-so baby anymore’ little girl. We live in a small rural subdivision in Ontario, Canada. We are enduring this never-ending winter, but I look forward to spring which so eloquently speaks of new life. Our lives, although plain-vanilla, are rich and sprinkled with love and grace. Our days are filled with rhythms and routines of living and learning. We are curiously discovering about the world God made and learning to love and live authentically.

I am a pediatric cancer survivor living with long-term effects. Living a life after cancer has always had its challenges, but God has been and is and always will be faithful. His grace is sufficient and truly amazing.

Life tends to teeter-totter between obscure and insignificant to overwhelming at times and can leave me paralyzed in fear. So, I am slowly learning to listen for the Soft Gentle Voice of God in the valleys of the dark and turbulent times to the heights of laughter and sunshine in our days. His Word never returns empty.

How long have you been blogging and how/why did you start?

I began blogging on January 1, 2008. To be honest, I really had no idea what I was doing when I hit publish for the first time. I knew I wanted to grow in the Lord and listen more intently to His whispers and share with other women to encourage them in the Lord. However, I had to step back from blogging for a few years. Then, in 2012, I was able to put more time and energy into it. I committed to my first 31 Days series and found a blossoming desire to communicate the love of God in this way. I have much to learn about blogging, writing, and God and His steadfast love, so I will keep learning and praying to be brave enough to keep hitting publish.

What is the purpose of your blog?

To share the message of God’s love, grace, the glorious Gospel and the living hope we have because of Christ. I can see how God has pursued me and it is a joy to share that with other women to encourage them in their journeys as God authors their stories into His greater redemptive story. Living as light in this dark world is not easy and I desire to live authentically and to grow with the body of Christ and this is one way that I can do that in this stage of my life.

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

Blogging makes me intentionally wrestle my thoughts into words. I enjoy reading and delving deeper into the things of God and sharing the things that I am learning and living is one way to live vulnerably and to be a part of bringing the message of hope to a dark corner of the world. I tend to share where I am coming from in life and I pray that it might encourage and build others up.

I love the creative outlet as letters unfurl themselves into stories on a blank screen and offer hope to someone reading them on another screen. The connection and community is powerful.

What are you passionate about?

Making a difference in this world while I long for Home. Living a real and authentic life while communicating the love of God and learning how to pick up my cross and follow Christ.

Who or what inspires you?

Motherhood has taught me so much about life, loving, and surrendering my ways to God. Doctors told my parents when I was three and undergoing treatment for a rare childhood cancer that it would be very likely that I would not be able to have children. God has graciously given me three. My children inspire me to live the Gospel—to give of myself for the sake of others; to sacrificially surrender for others who cannot help themselves. Mothering has helped me to see how self-centered I am and has caused me to turn to the Lord to depend on His strength in my weakness and to grow in the grace He bestows upon me and to give it to those He has put in my care. Moment by moment I need His grace and the hope of the Gospel and I have discovered how desperately I need Him as I have grown up in this role of Mama.

Tell us something random about yourself.

Oh boy, random? For an introspective person this is a tough! How about this: although I have a fear of deep water and am not a strong swimmer, as a teenager I learned how to water-ski on a slalom ski. By that I mean, I learned how to start off from sitting on the dock with two skis on, drop one and occasionally cross over the wake, but mostly get dragged by the boat and gripped the tow rope for dear life, determined to not fall in the deep water and arrive back at the beach still mostly dry. But, growing up in a competitive family with three brothers and two sisters, ‘not trying’ was not an option. And just so you know the rest of the story, the last time I attempted to do this was two years ago and I could still get around the lake! I know, incredible and random!

Will you share with us one of your favorite posts and what you love about it?

I’m truly amazed at how God orchestrates our days and desires that we fully trust Him. He gives us the faith to follow Him. When God Makes A Way And Heals Hearts is a post I wrote last spring that shares how when I opened my eyes I could see God’s hand at work. I am thankful that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.

1014400_353673524735721_1499603126_nRebekah Hughes is a follower of Christ, a wife, mother, and is blessed to home educate her three children in Ontario, Canada. She writes the story of her life of which God is the Author at A Soft Gentle Voice. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter.