Meet Tiffini from The House of Belonging

By now you may have heard the word on the street about the amazing giveaway I’m doing to celebrate my book launch: a beautiful 24 X 36 wooden sign (frame included!) with the 8 declarations from Put Your Warrior Boots On, made by the exquisite House of Belonging. 

GIVEAWAY:  If you haven’t put your name in the hat to win this for your home, CLICK HERE or find me on Instagram – @lisawhittle (ends at 6pm ET TONIGHT)! 

Though wildly popular, it dawned on me that you may not be familiar with The House of Belonging, and I want you to know that there’s so much more behind this partnership – there’s a reason why this company is so powerful and why it’s founder, Tiffini, has become my true warrior sister.

Her story is a beauty from ashes testimony. It is the truest example of a Jesus Strong life.

I’m honored to introduce her to you, today.

Friend, please meet Tiffini.

 


 

Q and A

1. Tiffini, I have to admit that what drew me to you at first was your beautiful art. I am a home décor freak, always wanted to be an interior decorator, and I followed The House of Belonging and just fell in love with the art. But not only was the artwork stunning, it was the words on the art that drew me in. They were powerful and I knew they came from a deep place. Can you tell me a little of how HOB started?

That is hard to answer in a short paragraph! I love sharing it though. I humbly hear that often. The art drew me, but the words kept me. That is our Papa isn’t it? That words matter. HOB was birthed out of my journey. A rescue mission, we love to call it. In 2010, I knew in my bones that something was stolen from me. Something was missing + I knew I had to go to my Papa to find it.

I was suffering from the inside out. I had arrived at the end of myself and risked my whole world
falling apart (and it did for the most part) as I began letting the spinning plates fall. One by one.

My kids + I had been through over a decade of crazy. Insane, spiraling cycles ending up in me being in an impossible situation to ever get out of. Humanly speaking. While no one else saw our pain.

God did + He was always waiting. Always acting. I chose to take His hand in rescue. House of Belonging was born in a basement with myself and my oldest daughter, who does all of our designing, and the vision that Papa gave me. All of which I could never have seen what was coming and what still is still ahead. I liken it to walking through fire. It was gutting. The birthing. Still is.

It is now a family affair. All 5 of my children work at HOB (I have 4 grown children, 1 teenager + 7 grandchildren).

 

2. Before we even became friends, my friends would send me screenshots of your warrior apparel – your hats and such – because my rally cry is, of course, to Put Your Warrior Boots On and they knew we were kindreds in that. What is it about the word warrior that means so much to you?

I spent all of my life as an orphan. I don’t mean in an actual orphanage. I have biological parents. I have a relationship with my mom, but not with my biological father. I had four step-fathers. Coming from a childhood of hard places, I never felt I belonged. I didn’t know how to have human relationships, and I didn’t know what trust was or how to handle emotions. As children, we learn early on to protect ourselves in whatever ways we can.

I was completely out of control on the inside, but I never gave up. I believe I was born a warrior in the womb. I first heard God when I was 9. I believed it and from that moment on I had conversations with Him.

The day that changed the course of my life was when Holy Spirit breathed me to life through the story of Gideon in Judges 6 + 7. How He saw me. Who I was as His daughter. My identity was a beloved warrior daughter. All of it coming from Him. From His living words. Ever since then He speaks to my identity. Not to the orphan who grew up believing she was unlovable, weak, powerless and never enough.

Now, warrior beats in my chest. As warriors, we have our Father’s heart. It is a warrior heart for rebels, survivors + revolutionaries. A fire that will ignite in broken hearts through His Word to Papa’s heart. We are born in the battlefield of real life. And as warriors, this is where we find our identities, our belonging.

 

3. You have a campaign called “words matter.” Tell me about how words have the power to change and transform, especially words from The Word?

Words matter because they are the threads that weave the stories. Suffering stories are my heart. I am a former sufferer for suffering’s sake until God invited me to come + see the mystery of suffering and look in awe and wonder at what He does with our suffering. He isn’t the cause of it. He is the rebuilder of it.

My heart is teaching others how to enter into other’s pain and not have to fix it, tell it religious antidotes, and even participate in real-time ways.

Eugene Peterson says it best, “In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and if they will let us join them in protest and prayer. Pity can be nearsighted.”

I want somehow for Words Matter to give a voice to all kinds of suffering stories with a myriad of endings, not all fairy tale endings, but God-story endings that invite us to dare to be fully awake in our own suffering. To partner with Papa in the mystery. To give those who live lifetimes of suffering a voice, affirmation, and acknowledgment instead of isolation, shame, and loneliness. We do not know how to enter into pain without religion. We must enter in with living words AND Papa’s heart with relationship.

 

4. What is it about the 8 declarations on this custom piece you made for me that resonated with you, and which one, in particular, do you personally need to most remember?

I LOVE them all, you’re talking to a word girl ;D

But for me, declaration #2 (I Know What I Believe). The cross is everything. It is central. It is the gospel. BIG GOD. BIG GOSPEL.

 

5. I can’t believe you are a grandma! What do you most hope for your kids and grandkids as they walk through this world that seems to have gone crazy?

To know their God, their identity, and their stone.

Their identity is their stone. Their story.

That they throw that stone into the chaos. Sharing God’s shalom with the world in chaos.

Friend, I can’t wait to meet you one day! I am championing you on from here. I am humbled to war with you. To be on the front lines with you. Don’t you ever stand down. Keep giving voice to the cross… to every single one of your declarations. You will be challenged daily, but I want to encourage you that the world in chaos needs the gospel in real time. In real people who are Jesus followers in every way of the word. Who don’t fall away when suffering and persecution come.

I love you.

 

Connect with Tiffini & The House of Belonging!

 

The Signature Collection 8 Declarations Sign (as seen above) will be available beginning June 1, 2017.

Order 5 Word Prayers!

Prayer Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating

Do you find yourself frustrated in your communication with God? Does a thriving prayer life feel completely out of reach?

The strength of your prayers lies in your heart intent, not your word count. Discover a new joy in your conversations with God!

In Case You’re Fresh Out of Amazing

lisawhittleendorseFOA.001If this title resonates with you, we are kindred. I remember the first time my friend, Stacey Thacker, told me about her new book and what it would be called. Immediately, my load felt lighter. Someone had seen my life and understood.

I had the privilege to receive an early copy of this book and give an endorsement. I need you to know I don’t do this for every book. I have to either love the book or love the author, and in this case, I love both. Stacey can write. But more than that, I trust Stacey’s heart. This, my friends, is of much higher endorsement.

You’ll read below an excerpt from Stacey’s book, Fresh Out of Amazing. Trust me, if this is you, you will want to get it. (p.s. I’m not sure I know anyone who isn’t fresh out of amazing, by the way.)

Stacey is giving away 2 FREE BOOKS for you lovely, interested people. To win, head over to my Facebook page and tag a friend in the comments on this post, and BOTH OF YOU get entered to win! (Random pic, winner to be notified.)

And please come back here on Wednesday. I have something important to tell you, and it has to do with being fresh out of amazing, myself.

Love ya’ll.

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“If we had a Christian magazine for the fresh-out-of-amazing woman, Martha would grace the cover more than the Kardashians do the cover of People. We would shake our heads at her and say under our breath, “I’m not surprised” as we put our groceries on the conveyer and glance sideways at the cover so our kids don’t see us. We find ourselves bothered and drawn to her peculiar struggle.” Part of us wants to celebrate Martha because she invited Jesus and his friends into her home. She served them. That is beautiful and right isn’t it? Yes, of course it is.

“But. Martha’s story has a but. Every story has one. For example, I am passionate about walking with God and doing what his Word says, but many times I don’t do those things. Daily I find myself in messes of my own making. Praise the Lord that something is working in my favor, and that something is the grace of God. We are about to see that same grace at work in Martha’s story.

I really wish we could push the “pause” button, step into the story, put an arm around Martha, and say, “Girl, I understand, but let’s not be here in the kitchen like this. Let’s not have a but interrupting your beautiful welcome of Jesus.” Yet here it is: “But Martha was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40).

Right there in her kitchen, with Jesus sitting a few feet away, busyness was beating Martha up one side and down another. Consumed by all she had to do, Martha was about to have a moment. She was probably in the kitchen stirring a pot of something wonderful, and she was getting herself all stirred up too. Martha was about to blow a fuse, and she was going to tell one person in particular all about it.

She went up to [Jesus] and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).

Martha not only interrupted Jesus as he taught, but she asked him straight out if he cared about her: Don’t you care, Jesus? Don’t you care? Then she told Jesus what to do. Yes, she did. Have mercy! Fresh-out-of-amazing girl done told Jesus to tell Mary to help her. I die a little at this point. Do you know why? Because I sound like her just about every other day around 5:00 p.m. when my kids are hungry, impatient, and ready for dinner. I slam all the doors, I crash all the pots, and I blow my fuse too. I tell everyone within a room or two of my voice all the things I’m doing all by myself. I tell them I have had it. I mean had it. Only one Person can help me when I am at my breaking point, and that person is exactly who Martha went to with her problem: Martha told Jesus. “

His response tells us Jesus was looking past her hospitality and straight to her heart:

‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:41-42).

I think Jesus saw that Martha’s heart was to serve and love those in her home. The problem arose when that became her primary focus instead of connecting with Jesus in the moment. Martha’s fresh-out-of-amazing moment took her to the feet of Jesus, but instead of savoring his presence, she pouted. Martha was busy, but she didn’t have to be burdened.”

Did your heart catch a little with that story? Do you know why? Martha is like us. She is our people. I’ve learned a thing or two from Martha recently. First, I need to tell Jesus when I’m fresh out of amazing. Second, a heart full of duty is no comparison to a heart full of devotion. I’m not talking about Mary’s devotion either. I’m talking about Martha’s heart being in the right place when she was doing what God created her to do—welcoming Jesus to her home.

“Friends, when we are fresh out of amazing, Jesus cares. His heart for us is tender, just like it was with Martha. He speaks our names once, twice, or more in order to reconnect our souls to his. Jesus will help us.”

The simple truth is we need to let him.

*Excerpts taken from “Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation” by Stacey Thacker. Available wherever books are sold.

Twitter & Insta: @staceythacker

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5 Days of Book Give-aways — Day 5: I Want God and You and Me Forever

designThese two books may not at first seem they go together.

But oh trust me, in so many ways, they do. I’m not sure but I think Chan has been reading my mail. :)

I had planned to just give away I Want God today, as it is a book that continues to not only change me, but impact its readers. (Read the reviews yourself, HERE. They honestly blow me away.)

I give I Want God away because more than any other book, I hope and pray you will read this one. And I hope and pray you will tell your people about it and they will read it, too. And I hope and pray its message will linger long and have real, lasting influence on your life, as it has mine.

So if you haven’t picked up a copy of I Want God, today is YOUR opportunity to win a FREE signed COPY for yourself! And if you have…today is YOUR opportunity to win a FREE signed COPY to give someone for Christmas.

But in addition, I am giving away Francis Chan’s new book he wrote with his wife, Lisa, called You and Me Forever.

I should tell you why.

I don’t read most marriage books. I have in the past, and some have been helpful. But complete truth? In almost 19 years of marriage, I think I’ve figured out that my problem in marriage is not solved from learning a new strategy, but from just doing what I already know. (Which, by the way, is typically the problem in our relationship with God, as well.)

Don’t be selfish. Work on things even when it’s hard. Talk to each other. Listen. Forgive. Spend time, protect your heart from things that pull you away from your commitment, and stay focused on Jesus.

But mainly, it can all be summed up with the latter: just stay focused on Jesus.

(p.s. It’s not that marriage books aren’t helpful with tools. They well can be. I love the message my friends, Justin and Trisha Davis send in their book, Beyond Ordinary, because it is an important one.)

But marriage books that have talked about his needs and my needs…the respect I offer and love he offers back…tap on my flesh tendency to continue to think about myself and keep inventory of all the ways he’s supposed to be doing this or that. (Listen. It’s human nature to think this way. Or just me. Whichever.)

But Chan, in You and Me Forever, says this, which by the way made me want to jump up and do high kicks when I read it (pulled muscle alert):

The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage.

You might be puzzled. But what Chan is saying here is exactly parallel to what I am saying in I Want God.

Wanting God, focusing on God, more than anything else, changes everything in your life.

And yes, that includes marriage. And it includes our struggle to be popular and known. And our desire to stay stagnant when there is Kingdom work to be done.

It drives our decision making, our perspective, and yes, as you will see from the video I have included at the end of this post from Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa: even something as seemingly insignificant as what you and your spouse decide to do to celebrate your 20th anniversary.

I cannot express the passion I have for this core message of being all about God.

I cannot tell you how much your life will change if you drop the focus on other things and dive completely into Him.

What lives would look different. What marriages would be turned around. What influence we could have with the world.

So you see, though one of these two books I give away today is technically a marriage book and the other isn’t, they are two that should absolutely go together.

Because they say exactly the same thing, in two different ways.

I couldn’t be happier about sharing give-away space with people as fine as the Chans. As my husband and I are currently going through their book together, they are helping us with a heavenly perspective on our marriage. They are inspiring us, as a couple, just to do something. And there is much, much more solid, transformative teaching in this short 7 chapter book, which is apparently something else I have in common with the Chans: I don’t write books that are long.

On that note — I’ve been long here, in this space, today. Forgive me. But I can’t help talking about these 2 books, knowing I want nothing more than to get them into your hands.

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Last Day! Leave me a comment telling me why you want to win either book…spread the word via social media with your people by posting the visual with the hashtag #5DaysofBookGiveaways…come back Monday, December 8, to see if you win!

*Winner(s) announced on Monday, December 8…plus a FREE printable from I Want God.

To order I Want God, CLICK HERE.

To order You and Me Forever, CLICK HERE.

You and Me Forever – Francis & Lisa Chan (Trailer) from Room 212 Productions on Vimeo.

5 Days of Book Give-aways — Day 4: Magnetic

FullSizeRender 13It’s because of this little one, with the teeny-tiny fingernails, the laugh I’ve memorized, and the signature female sensitive heart that this is so important to me.

Oh parents of girls, does your heart ache like mine for your girl to know her great worth?

I want my girl to know she’s enough. I want her to know she’s precious. I want her to know she matters and isn’t just a girl and is packed with endless potential, worthy of boundless love.

I know she’s told other things by the world.  So I want to tell her things that are different, so she will hear another message besides the societal one that whispers you must prove yourself and you need to be the prettiest and make sure you laugh at the right times and not open your mouth if you don’t know an answer so people will want you around and also this: never, ever, find yourself the girl that doesn’t get asked out on a date.

I want her to know the truth about what will really draw people to her — not her body or her face or her status with her friends, but the Jesus inside that people won’t be able to resist. She’ll figure this out eventually, but maybe not until she hurts first, and I want to save her some of that…to understand that it’s not the perfect selfie pose in the end but her God-nurtured spirit that will really make her…

Magnetic.

My day 4 pick is my friend, Lynn Cowell’s book by the same name.

It is an incredibly needed, incredibly relevant book for every pre-teen and teenaged girl with a desire to be liked, accepted, and known. (Well, now. That would be every one of them.)

Instagram tells her it’s in the pictures and the likes and the comments.

Twitter tells her it’s in the followers and retweets.

Pinterest tells her it’s in the perfection.

But it’s in none such things.

It’s in the power of God working from the inside-out to make a young soul joyful and beautiful, secure, kind and pure.

Moms and dads with daughters…the world is whispering dangerous things in our daughter’s ears.

Let’s get this book to help our girl hear something very different.

magnetic_text2

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Magnetic by Lynn Cowell (available at AmazonB&NCBDeverywhere books are sold)will empower girls and young woman to reach their fullest potential by focusing on becoming who God made them to be! A girl who reflects God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control becoming magnetic!

To find out more about Magnetic, CLICK HERE.

*I’m giving away TWO FREE COPIES of Lynn’s book, Magnetic, today! Leave me a comment and tell me something you feel young women should know or something you feel is a negative influence on young women today.

**Winner(s) announced Monday, December 8.

p.s. You don’t want to miss tomorrow! Every married person, make sure you are here for my Day 5 picks.  Yes, PICKS. I’m featuring 2 books tomorrow, and either one can be yours!!  I truly believe: the perspective in these books could honestly change your life.

5 Days of Book Give-aways — Day 3: Lean on Me

final endorsement LeanOnMeSometimes, as an author, you are asked to give endorsements for books that are forthcoming.

Which means:

You will get a copy early.

You will squeeze in reading a book by a deadline, which always approaches faster than you thought, resulting in speed reading at levels you also never thought.

At some point in the reading process, with life in all its crazy, you will be tempted to just read enough of the book to give a strong word about it because you got the gist.

Here’s even more of the scoop.

Sometimes you endorse a book for a friend because you love that friend and believe in their heart. And sometimes you endorse books because they are awesome in a literary way and the beautiful words seep deep.

And then sometimes books come along, you are asked to endorse them, and you know from page one it is a book you have desperately been needing your whole life, so much it surprises you.

This is how I felt when reading Anne Marie Miller’s book, Lean on Me.

Mind you: Anne and I are friends. I already knew she could write. When the request for the endorsement came in I said yes without thinking, without knowing really what the book was about because I know Anne and I knew, it would be my kind of book, regardless.

And then, something happened. I started reading and didn’t want to put it down. Suddenly, reading for endorsement purposes flew out the window. Other deadlines didn’t matter.

This was a book I needed and didn’t even know it…a book about community…something as a fierce independent + former church wounded Anne needed to talk me through — give language to my struggle.

There’s much I could say about this book: that Anne is super honest: that she tells great, true stories in her signature style of sharing hard things that are important. But I think you should just read it for yourself.

The truth is, my Day 3 pick was an easy one. Because life is not meant to be lived solo, most of us don’t know how to do community very well, and every person needs to learn from someone who has traveled through it all and come out the better side.

I’ve included below a thing of brilliance from Anne’s book – something that put words to my actions that I couldn’t figure out myself for most of my life.

Friends, Lean on Me is a gem. Trust me, you want to win it.

So 1) leave me a comment telling me what scares you/excites you about community, 2) share in your social media circles, and 3) come back on Monday, December 8 to see if you win.

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From Lean on Me by Anne Marie Miller

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.47.59 AM

I think there are four quadrants of relationships. A healthy person has people in each. The four are:

Not vulnerable and not committed. These relationships are more acquaintances than friends. Perhaps a casual meeting in a grocery line. You likely won’t (and shouldn’t) open up about your deepest struggles with the woman at the cash register or count on her to help you through your trials. It’s okay to have these relationships, but if they are your only relationships, that’s a good indicator you need to intentionally pursue some vulnerable and consistent friends.

Vulnerable and not committed. Those who are vulnerable and not committed are people who have no problem opening up about their life and their struggles. This is an admirable trait to have, but it is one that needs to be used with discretion. The people in this group, although they can share freely, are not committed to anyone. Though they may be aware of how they can grow, they don’t let anyone in to help them.

Committed and not vulnerable. When someone is committed but not vulnerable, they have made a step to be in a group or have some kind of consistent relationships in their lives. However, they won’t share anything below the surface. In my experience, a lot of people who go to church fall in this category. They’re committed to serving and to showing up, but letting people in is difficult for them. It’s tough being vulnerable.

Committed and vulnerable. Out of the four groups, those who have committed and vulnerable friendships are generally in the healthiest relationally. They are open about the realities of life with a consistent group of people. Because of the trust built by being committed, the ability to be vulnerable is easier. People in this category can celebrate the good things in life, mourn the losses, and help carry each other as they grow closer to God and to each other. These are the vital relationships every person needs in place.

*To purchase Lean on Me, CLICK HERE.

**To visit Anne Marie Miller on her site, CLICK HERE.