I am a runner. 

I am neither fast nor skinny, but being a runner does not require a certain weight or speed. Twenty years ago I ran for the first time (without being forced to in gym class), and since then I have repeatedly discovered that being a runner requires one thing: that you get out there and run.

Several years ago I trained for a half marathon with Team in Training, and at our first group run we were given a schedule that included weekly long runs, culminating with a 10 mile training run to prepare us for the 13.1 mile race. I had given birth a couple months prior and could hardly imagine what miraculous changes would need to occur for me to be able to run ten continuous miles.

Our coach assured us that we would be fine as long as we stuck to the schedule. Coach Stan taught us to substantially slow our pace for the long runs (for me that meant going from kind of slow to really slow). What mattered was logging the miles and getting time on our feet. 

That phrase, “time on your feet,” saved me. I was able to quiet the nagging voice in my head saying, 
You’re too slow.
You’re too big.
You’re not a real runner.

I silenced it with the gentle reassurance of Coach Stan’s voice: 
It’s time on your feet. That’s your goal – time on your feet.

By simply putting one foot in front of the other, I was doing my job. I didn’t need to look like a runner or be fast or win anything. All I needed to do was get time on my feet and log the miles.

That experience taught me that our bodies are capable of more than we give them credit for, and it also revealed the complicated relationship our minds have with our bodies. Prior to training, my mind told my body it couldn't run 8 or 10 or 13 miles. But as I followed the schedule, my moving feet taught my doubting mind it was wrong.

"Time on your feet" is a lot like practicing mindfulness and centering prayer.

Sometimes it's pleasant and relaxing, easy to focus and center. At times when I sit to quietly meditate on a sacred word or image it is like sinking into a warm embrace. 

Other times, however, my mind is squirrelly, popping here and there and everywhere. I spend more time chasing my wayward thoughts than actually resting in silence. In those moments it's easy to get discouraged. My critical inner voice tells me I'm not doing it right so I should just stop. But then I hear those words, “It's time on your feet.”  

No matter how fast or slow I'm running, no matter how focus or scattered my mind, it's about showing up and training your body to do something new.  From a neuroscience perspective, this makes sense. 

Our brains change based on our experiences, how we focus our attention, and what we habitually do with our bodies.    

This ability of our brains to change in response to what we attend to and what we practice doing is called neuroplasticity. Neuroscientists describe this phenomenon with the phrase, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” 

In other words, when we change habits of attention or body, we create new neural connections. Every time we repeat those patterns we strengthen new connections. This is why bad habits are hard to break, but it also provides a neural pathway for creating new, healthy patterns of attention and behavior.  

This month I had a goal of practicing mindfulness skills and centering prayer for at least five minutes each day. I chose a small goal in order to maximize the potential for success. Even when hard or discouraging, I wanted to keep at it in order to strengthen those new neural pathways.

A few months ago as I was preparing for this experiment I attempted an extended mindfulness activity in my exuberance. I looked up a famous meditation teacher on YouTube, and all was going fine as his gentle voice directed me to notice my breath and my body. Next he began directing my attention to the left side of my body, then my left foot, then my left big toe. Something about focusing on the left big toe just did me in. I sat up and said, “Oh no, I can't do this.” Upon later reflection, I think this may have been a bit like trying to run a 10k when you haven’t even gotten to 4 miles in your training schedule.  

Since that time I've been trying to listen to my failures as well as my successes. 

I am learning that when my mind wanders, I don’t have to chide myself; rather, I can gently bring it back. When I am reactive in stressful situations instead of thoughtful or curious or responsive, I am noticing it now. I am quicker to come back to a centered place and respond out of that. This doesn’t mean I’m completely calm all the time (a quick peek at me trying to get everyone out the door in the morning confirms that), but it’s a lot better than it was. I am changing. And the power of that statement can not be underestimated. Isn’t that what we long to believe? That we can truly and actually change?

Every time I pull myself out of bed in the morning, put myself in my chair, close my eyes and begin breathing I am strengthening those calming, centering neural pathways. And the more I do it, the more I believe I can do it and the easier it is to actually do it.

If you have never practiced quieting prayer or mindful meditation let me encourage you to begin today with just five minutes. And when those critical, judging, discouraging, anxious, mean-spirited thoughts begin, remind yourself that all you have to do is show up for these five minutes
The rest will come in time. 
You’re just putting time on your feet.

A few members of my 2011 Team in Training team, including our coach Stan Davis who passed away in 2012. Stan's deep faith, gentle presence, and genuine belief in others impacted countless folks whose lives he touched. I am forever blessed for having known him, and think of him every time I put time on my feet.

Next month's focus: rhythm & balance

I'll be practicing skills from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and observing the Sabbath, which comes at a perfect time as we embark on the Advent season. I am looking forward to discovering what preparing for Christmas is like when I take one day each week to intentionally remove myself from frenetic activity. Jewish theologian Michael Fishbane describes the Sabbath as a sacred sphere of inaction in which we "stand in the cycle of natural time, without manipulation or interference." This sounds drastically different than my normal Sunday afternoons, and I am equally nervous and excited about what I will learn about God, my family and myself as we attempt to practice a discipline of rest over the next month.  

What are your experiences with Sabbath-keeping? Any recommendations or suggestions of things that were particularly helpful, worshipful or nourishing for you or your family?

I am thrilled to have an article on Christianity Today's women's blog, her.meneutics, about my centered living project, and a preview and link to the full article are below. If you haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, would you check it out and consider sharing it? 

It's fun to have people read your stuff, of course, but I also want to spread the word about my experiment in centered living to as many folks as possible so people can join me. 

Thanks to all of you who have written and shared with me already! I'm thankful for you and looking forward to the next six months of learning from each other. 

A Psychologist Faces Her Own Anxiety: How a therapist who knew it all is learning to let it go

In many ways, anxiety has served me well. It’s the energetic fuel in my tank. In my professional life, anxious energy drove me to do research for my undergrad thesis, complete my doctorate, and write a few books. At home, it keeps my house clean and gets my kids’ parties planned.

But as anyone who has felt the weight of anxiety knows, it has a dark side. Even at its best, it’s a bit like an annoying gnat—irritating and noticeable even if it doesn’t affect my life too much. At its worst, anxiety feels like being swarmed by locusts in one of the Old Testament plagues. It gets heavy and scary and overwhelming.

Several months ago I crashed. Everything about the day seemed typical. With a few final words of instruction to the babysitter, I jumped in the car, glanced at my phone to check the time, then let out a frustrated sigh because I was running behind. I turned on some quiet hymns and took a deep breath, waiting for my racing heart to slow down. But instead of calm, I felt my anxiety grow with underlying stress.

I realized that this was my life, going from one crisis of anxious discomfort to the next and trying to keep above the stress and exhaustion. And here’s the hardest part: I’m a psychologist and a counselor. I know better than most that there’s a better way to deal with anxiety. I spend my days helping clients with everything from basic worries to obsessive-compulvise disorder to disabling panic disorder...but often wasn’t listening to my own advice.

Read the rest of the article here.

Picturea day's work behind my house
Last weekend bulldozers leveled the wooded lot that backs up to our house, destroying our cozy, shaded private backyard. And I hated every branch-breaking, trunk-splitting second of it. 

The crash of each tree falling was like nails on a chalkboard. My body tensed up in anger and anxiety - why are they doing this? Then I tossed in some guilt for my first-world problem. 

In a word, I felt hard. My chest was tight, my stomach was churning. I couldn't relax and wanted to get out of the house so I wouldn't have to hear the excavation anymore.  

When confronted with emotional or physical pain, we naturally tighten up, push and fight against the discomfort. We may try to escape or numb out so we don't have to really feel the pain. 

Mindfulness is teaching me the value of softening into hard places. Whether it's physical pain or emotional distress, hardening against it doesn't work. And often we add secondary pain in the form of escapist behaviors or destructive self-talk that actually make us feel worse. 

Although it feels paradoxical, we grow by walking through the pain instead of fighting against it. When we soften into pain and allow ourselves to simply feel what we feel, we make space for other experiences as well.

PictureEmily Lapish photography (ahh those trees)
On the second day of the bulldozing torture, my two littlest ones were jumping on the trampoline in our backyard and begged me to join them. I resisted, because, frankly, it was loud and depressing to watch the hard-working machines slowly demolish our peaceful wooded view. But as I sat on my porch, their cackling giggles and screams got under my skin. 

And so I got on the trampoline. We jumped and laughed and played the games we always play. My two-year-old was fascinated by the equipment, and we talked to one of the guys operating the bulldozers.

The trees are completely gone now, and I still hate it. Yet, after jumping with my kids, the tightness in my chest became a little looser. I could look at the barren wasteland behind my house and not feel sick to my stomach. I stopped closing the blinds so I wouldn't have to see it out of the corner of my eye. 

In the act of playing with my kids in the backyard with the bulldozers roaring, I had unintentionally stopped running away from my discomfort and softened into it. 

When my kids invited me into the present moment of their world by jumping on the trampoline with the trees crashing around us, I caught their joy. 

It didn't create false happiness about the trees, but it allowed my heart to open up to feel joy with them – regardless of the unpleasant circumstances going on around us. By softening into hard feelings, I am learning to open to the world as it is and accept with open hands the experiences that unfold in front of me. 

Lesson #1: holding pleasure + pain together with open hands is a key ingredient to a centered life

Sometimes those moments are precious, like the glee of a five-year old flying through the air on a trampoline. Others are painful, like feeling overwhelmed with sadness or anger. By softening to the one, the other is made that much more accessible. 

Do you have any trees being bulldozed in your backyard? Something outside your control that is gnawing at your sense of peace and contentment? If you don't have preschooler mindfulness gurus to do a trampoline intervention for you, then try this. When you notice yourself getting stuck in stomach-churning thoughts or painful discomfort, take a few minutes for a mindful pause. 

Get in a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Notice how you feel in your body right now. Observe any physical sensations, thoughts or feelings without fighting them or judging yourself. Then gently soften into those places where you feel hard, angry, depressed, anxious, or in pain. Hold in your awareness the painful feeling AND a sense of softening, warmth and gentleness.

For more in-depth mindfulness meditations that can help with pain and discomfort, check out Dr. Elisha Goldstin’s S.A.F.E. meditation practice for coping with difficult emotions or the work of Vidyamala Burch on chronic physical pain, founder of Breathworks and mindfulness-based pain reduction.

What do you think? What does it mean to you to soften into pain or discomfort? 

Thanks again for joining me on this adventure in centered living!


Do you inhabit anxiety as a way of life?

Are you tired of constantly rushing and feeling guilty for all the things you don’t do or don’t do well enough?

Are you sick of comparing yourself with others and feeling inadequate, like you are competing in a race you may never finish much less win?

Are you frustrated with constantly multitasking yet rarely feeling ahead or even caught up?

Are you worn out from worrying about your future or your finances, about your kids or your parents?

As a therapist I talk with folks about these struggles all the time. Our always-plugged-in culture is a breeding ground for anxiety. But I'm not just familiar with anxiety because of my work.

I’ll be sharing more about my own story with anxiety in an article coming out in the next couple weeks in her.meneutics, but suffice it to say I have my own love-hate relationship with anxiety, and several months ago I hit a particularly dark season. But what I thought was rock bottom turned out to be a gentle trampoline that sent me back into my actual, real, messy, lovely, hard, beautiful, tender life.

In my last post I mentioned an autumnal season of loss and dying, and several of you asked me about that. I was not referring to a physical death, but to the resurrection theme of the Christian life. Death and new life are central to the gospel. And in our own lives, we see this theme of death and resurrection as well. This season has been one of learning to die to myself in a new way. But what felt like death in the moment turned out to be a time in which seeds of new life were being sown.

One result of this season is a new project. If you know me, you know I love projects, and this one is infinitely better than a Shutterfly photo album or rearranging furniture. This project is about changing my story, and allowing anxiety to step out of its too-often starring role.

I had already been planning for my next book to focus on the integration of therapeutic interventions and spiritual disciplines in the treatment of anxiety. But suddenly I realized that I couldn’t write solely from the perspective of an expert sharing research and client stories.

I am no longer willing to tell people to do the work without practicing it consistently in my own life. So I’m ready to turn the tables and have the therapist become the client, the doctor become the patient, the writer become the reader. This is my story, and I’m inviting you to join me as I embark on what has become an exciting adventure in a new way of living.

Over the coming months I’ll be sharing more details about my project, but here are the bullet points:

·      After several months of preparation on November 1 I began a six-month adventure in creating a new life rhythm.
·      I have taken what I know about anxiety and well-being and identified six qualities of a centered life. Each month of the project will focus on one of those themes.
·      Every month I will practice specific therapeutic skills and spiritual formation activities on a daily basis that connect with the theme.

Month 1 Theme: Awareness.
o   Therapeutic Skill: Mindfulness
o   Spiritual Discipline Activity: Contemplative Prayer

It's tempting to want to present a polished, finished product, but I am sharing this journey with you in the early stages so that I can get your feedback. I also want to tell you the truth about what unfolds over the next months – the gritty, beautiful, messy, difficult truth. I will be honest about my successes and failures.

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments or send me a PM. Specifically, I would love to hear about your own experiences with anxiety as a way of life.

            What has helped you (or not!) in your own path toward healthy, balanced living?
            If you have practiced mindfulness or contemplative prayer, what has your experience been like?

Dear Internet Friends - I know it's been awhile since you've heard from me. I have been a little busy (code for completely overwhelmed) with my work and kids. The last few months have actually been something of an autumnal season in my life; a season of loss and dying (which - let's face it - hurts like hell), but also new life and resurrection. As part of that regrowth I am working on a new book, which already feels like a baby to me. It is deeply personal and dear to my heart, and I'm hoping to be in dialogue with you about it over the next months. 

As part of my research for the book I am going to be spending the month of October researching (and practicing in my own life!) mindfulness. As part of that research I will be taking part in a 31-day mindfulness summit that is completely free and online. I am sharing the link below. If you're interested in trying out this skill that has truly impressive research to back up its effectiveness in lowering stress and improving well-being, join me!
You can sign up here

P.S. I don't get anything for sharing this - it's free for everyone! But I'd love to hear your thoughts if you decide to try it out. 

Peace friends,
Friends and readers - I know it has been quite some time since my last post, but a few weeks ago I published an article at Christianity Today. If you haven't seen it and want to get my perspective on the Fifty Shades of Grey mania, read on... 

E.L. James' erotic series has resonated with millions of readers, with over 100 million copies of her book sold worldwide and overwhelming attention given to the trailer for the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Less than a week after the clip went up on YouTube, it became the most-viewed movie trailer of the year.

As a psychologist who published a book about female sexuality, I love talking about the theology, biology, and psychology of sex. But when it comes to the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey, we must acknowledge what a narrow view of sex and power comes through in this very popular story.

The appeal of Fifty Shades reflects our hyper-sexualized cultural climate, in which the procreation-focused, missionary-position-only thinking of our puritanical past has been rejected. Instead, the cultural norm has become fetishized sexual behavior that equates "good sex" with over-the-top pleasure, wild foreplay, and euphoric orgasm. It champions personal gratification, and with the book's edgy BDSM details, places sex firmly in the realm of power and control.

While I believe healthy sex in marriage can and should include passion and pleasure, our sexuality encompasses a whole feast of longings and experiences that extend far beyond the sexual high in Fifty Shades.

What about the middle-of-the-night sex in which you don't need to turn on the lights because you know every crevice and wrinkle of each other's bodies? Sometimes sex is a tender exchange of quiet knowing, rather than steamy taking...

Read the rest of my article at Christianity Today here. And I hope to see you again here with some new words, sooner rather than later!

As we have stumbled through these frigid, snowy, obscenely cold days of January and February, perhaps you have held onto some new year’s resolutions to become a kinder, thinner, healthier version of yourself. I love setting goals, and I spend my professional life trying to help people move toward personal goals for change. And although I have a slew of things I’d like to work on, I don’t want to get so busy striving, accomplishing, completing, finishing, and improving that I miss out on living, enjoying, resting and being.

Between my book release and a variety of family and personal obligations, the first two months of 2014 have been exciting, but also exhausting and chaotic. They have also reminded me of my desire for 2014 to be a year of traveling light.

Last December, Jeff and I flew to Houston to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend. We continuously marveled at how easy it was to travel without our kids. We sped through the airport with only carry-on suitcases. No backpacks crammed with portable DVD players and crayons and books. No sippee cups or bottles or snacks. No babies in diapers or toddlers who forget to pee unless asked repeatedly and even then have accidents in the most inopportune moments. No complaining or whining or questions. No messing with car seats or strollers. No back pain from hauling multiple children and all their stuff from place to place. 

It was just us, and we were - actually, physically - traveling light. 

I love the whole metaphor of traveling light, but living that reality is difficult. And although a weekend away makes it feel easier, traveling light isn't really about leaving the kids behind any more than it's about quitting a stressful job or cutting off a challenging relationship.

Traveling light doesn’t mean throwing aside the hard stuff in my life. Rather, it’s about learning to live in those places without being buried under them. To live with a lightness in my attitude that acknowledges the darkness within myself and others, but fiercely searches for the gentle, the humor, the tenderness and the silly. 

I want to be able to do things spontaneously in my personal or professional life without getting completely stressed out by the whole process of shifting gears. I want to be patient with my kids instead of feeling rushed and irritated at their slowness, their mess, their kid-ness. I want to use a calm voice instead of an angry one. And I want it to be because I actually feel calm inside, not just because I'm using my "I'm a good mom and look how patient I'm being in this teachable moment" voice. 

running light

A few years ago I ran a half-marathon with Team in Training. I had never been a distance runner, and a group of us trained together for several months in preparation. Over Saturday morning long runs we got to know each other, both in personality and running style. One of my teammates, Shelley, was a natural athlete and a much faster runner than me. On race day, however, she had to make a pitstop in the first mile that slowed her down. Consequently (and unbeknownst to me) she ended up running behind me for the first several miles of the race. 

Somewhere between miles 8 and 10 I started dragging. Wondering if I could really, actually do this thing. And suddenly, Shelley whizzed past me. I didn't expect to see her until the finish line, and it was an unexpected gift. As I watched her fly by, I was immediately struck by Shelley’s light and easy stride. She didn’t look like a runner who was frantically trying to make up lost time; instead, she looked easy and relaxed, like she was out for an afternoon job.

“She is running light,” I thought to myself. And I immediately realized what I was doing wrong. Heavy feet, heavy breathing, eyes on the ground, doubting thoughts. "Look up,” I said to myself. "Watch Shelly. Run light. Breathe. Run light." And I did. And it made all the difference.  

When I crossed that finish line, it was one of my proudest moments. Some of those 13.1 miles were exhilarating, easy and fun. Others were painful, exhausting and boring. But running light got me through it. 

As meaningful as it was to complete that race, how much more do I want to cross the finish line of this year (this season, this experience, etc) with pride in my relationships, my work, my marriage and my parenting?

I want to travel light - not by leaving the hard things behind, but by loosening my grip on control, breathing through the pain, and really learning over and over again what it means to pray.

I want to travel light.

What about you? What does traveling light mean for you? 

Remember to check out my latest book, Things Your Mother Never Told YouSarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, calls Things Your Mother Never Told You, "Redemptive, wise, practical, honest and tender." 

And if you're close to Chattanooga, you are invited to my book release party next Wednesday, March 5 at The Camp House at 7 pm, with special guests Lisa Williams of Living Water for Girls, Eric Peters and Charity Lusk-Muse. Desserts provided and drinks available at the coffee bar. Hope to see you there!

Today I want to share with you an official invitation to my book launch party being held in just a few weeks in Chattanooga. 

If you've read my book, then you already know it's a HUGE honor to have Lisa Williams coming to town to speak and share her story, her passion and her heart!  I'm also honored to have two fantastic musicians. Eric Peters is a gifted singer-songwriter who writes songs about faith and doubt, depression and joy in ways that are so honest they bring me to tears. You don't want to miss him.  And my dear friend, Charity Lusk-Muse, has been leading worship at events with me since my first conference, and it is an honor to share the stage with her. My sweet friend, Linda Townsend, will have Trades of Hope products for sale, an organization which empowers and promotes women worldwide. David Sternberg, pastor of Bridge Christian Church, and Jeff Eckert, proud husband, will say a few words as well. 

Desserts will be served (free!!), and tasty hot beverages will be available for purchase from the coffee bar.   

And, of course, I'll have copies of my books available for purchase. I'll be drinking my decaf coffee, giving hugs and generally being overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of being able to write this book and share its message. So if you're anywhere close to Chattanooga, I would absolutely LOVE for you to join us! 

Today, I am excited to share one final excerpt from my new book, Things Your Mother Never Told You, which is now available on Amazon.com! Normal blog posts will resume next week, but I so appreciate all of you for reading along and journeying with me. 

If you have gotten a copy of my book, would you consider taking a few minutes to write a brief review on amazon? My publisher tells me this is super helpful, and I would be so grateful!

The following paragraphs are taken from the last chapter of the book, "Redemptive Sexuality," in which I explore the shape of God's love and the beautiful mystery of sexuality. I also tell the story of Lisa Williams - you can read about her amazing work rescuing girls from the sex trade and her own powerful story of resilience, hope and change here

I am honored beyond words that Lisa Williams will be a guest speaker at my book launch party at the Camp House on March 5 at 7 pm. More info will be coming, but I do hope you will join us for an evening in which we celebrate the light that can come out of darkness. The amazingly talented Eric Peters will be performing, and you can also pick up some cute scarves or jewelry at my friend Linda's Trades of Hope booth. It will be a special evening, and I hope you will join us!

Sexuality: who we are and who we are becoming

In one of the most familiar passages in the Bible, the shape of God’s love is described perfectly: “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God so loved that He gave; this is the essence of God’s sacrificial love.[1] God has a nature, and that nature is life and love. 

As we seek to reflect the shape of God’s love in our own lives, we can ask ourselves: what do we so love? My 8 year-old son so loves video games that his perfect day would be a marathon of the Wii, iPad and computer. When we first explained why excessive video game time is not good for him, he responded with, “But this is just the way I am!” 

It is easy to write this off as a silly example of a kid trying to get his own way, but don’t we all have things that get in the way of God growing us up? What do you so love that you spend excessive time or energy pursuing it? Perhaps you love shopping, being liked, Facebook, being right, getting attention from men, working out, drinking wine, Pinterest, or sex? 

If I look at my life, my heart, my sin and my struggle and say to God, “This is just the way I am,” then I am asking God to stop his work in me. I am essentially asking him to love me less, not more!

God is love, and love that leaves us where we are is not really love. God meets us where we are at, but He also gently and inexorably takes us to where we are going. One can envision God as the artist who is continually re-drawing us. When we justify ourselves as we are, then we keep God from transforming us into who we truly are in Christ. Sexuality is about who we are as women created in God’s image, but it is also about who we are becoming and how we live, whether young or old, married or single.

Embrace the mystery. The messages we receive about our identity as gendered beings and what we do with that in our sexual behavior are varied. When we consider gender identity, gender roles, views on sexual practices for single and married folks, how to respond to questions about sexual orientation or masturbation or sexual freedom within marriage – it is easy to view sexuality as a complicated problem. Instead, we need to approach sexuality for what it is: a mystery

When we embrace the mystery, we can move away from contradictory, black and white messages about sex in our churches and popular culture in which sex is either evil or god. We can avoid viewing sexuality through a reductionistic lens where it is merely particular acts. Sexuality is a mystery to be approached with appreciation of God’s creative power, not a problem to be solved with quick answers or political stances. Instead of searching for prescriptive formulas that can be applied to all, we can appreciate the fact that our sexuality is a dynamic, living representation of God’s love being worked out in and through us. 

[1] I am grateful to Pastor David Sternberg for his insights on this passage in a sermon given at Bridge Christian Church on August 26, 2012.

Taken from Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kim Eckert. Copyright (c) 2014 by Kim Gaines Eckert. Used by 
permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL 60515-1426. 

Read more by ordering Things Your Mother Never Told You here!
Dear friends,
This week I received an email from a staff member at IVP who came across my book, and I couldn't wait to share it with you all: 

"My friend and I were talking today about how crazy good your book is. We're both 23 and wish we would have read it in high school or did a small group bible study with it at the time because that was when our view of sex was distorted. And yet, reading it now we realize how applicable it is to women of all ages and I told my guy friend he should read it too (honestly, I think men should read it). I love how you focus on personhood and the whole of sexuality. I have a lot of wounds related to the topic and I'm finding it healing and refreshing to read something profound & blunt, yet so focused on redemption too. Bless you for writing this book. I doubt it was easy, but I'm so glad you did. Be encouraged."  

I am SO encouraged and so thankful to this young woman for taking the time to reach out and share her experience with me. Writing this book has been hard -- so very hard -- but so good too. And I am grateful for the opportunity to speak words of God's grace and love, truth and redemption into women's lives. 

Today I am excited to share another excerpt from my book, which comes out in just one week! 

In Things Your Mother Never Told You, various sources of disappointment and confusion in our lived experiences of sexuality are explored, and how to grow in wholeness in our sexuality. I hope you will enjoy this excerpt. 

AND... if you haven't ordered your own copy yet, you have a few more days to get it for just $9!! See the end of this post for more details and a discount code!  

The Up-All-Night-Screamer

When I was pregnant with my first child I used to imagine what it would be like once our baby boy arrived. Images from Gerber commercials invaded my mind as I pictured my husband and I snuggling each other and our little one, holding hands and gazing into our baby’s eyes. With eyes welling up with tears, we would admire each other for the beautiful child we had created.

Thankfully, we did have moments like those – and they were precious and sacred – but we also had other kinds of moments. Moments like the night when, after having not slept more than 3 hours in a row for weeks, I was wandering the house at four am with blood-curdling screaming in my ear after having fed, rocked, changed and done any number of dance moves and lullabies for my baby. Instead of sweet looks of appreciation at my husband for his fine baby-making skills, I gruffly woke him and borderline tossed the baby at him while barking, “You take him now!” Although this is a scene that many parents may relate to, it is not the stuff of baby food commercials.

Sometimes reality does not meet our expectations. So it is with our sexuality. Most of us grow up assuming that our life will lead to a Hollywood style Happily Ever After: we will meet a great guy, get married, buy a nice house and have some cute kids. In the fairy tale, couples always still feel as sexually attracted to each other as the day they met. They have an exciting and spontaneous sex life, in which each partner has as much great sex as they want.

What happens when the realities of life do not meet our expectations? Sexuality is a gift, and it is good. This is what sexuality is, but it may not necessarily be what sexuality feels like to us. Perhaps you have never married and are tired of feeling like you have no outlet for your sexual desires and longings for intimacy. Maybe you are single again after being divorced or widowed, and you are missing the opportunity for sexual expression inherent in marriage. Perhaps you are currently married but disappointed in your sexual relationship, because of boredom, pain, dysfunction, or lack of desire. You might be experiencing the challenge of living as a sexual being in the midst of challenges like infertility, pregnancy, or menopause. Perhaps your frustration is related to your partner’s desire or sexual performance.  

While we may long to experience our sexuality as God designed it, the reality of our lives and circumstances sometimes leads to feelings of isolation, disappointment and guilt. We think we’re getting the Gerber baby, and instead we get the up-all-night-screamer.

Read more about coping with disappointment in your sexuality in Things Your Mother Never Told You...

Taken from Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kim Eckert. Copyright (c) 2014 by Kim Gaines Eckert. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL 60515-1426. 

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