GIVEAWAY: Just Open the Door

Gwen Smith Giveaways 370 Comments

Hello and happy Friday!

Today I’m excited to introduce you to my sweet friend and (in)courage writer, JEN SCHMIDT, author of a new book called, Just Open the Door. I love lots of things about Jen. She’s down-to-earth, real people. She’s warm, kind and fun spirited. She’s a smiley woman who loves a good bargain… and she’s practical. Very practical. Which is the way she writes and one of the reasons I’m waving my pompoms so wildly about her book.

Just Open the Door won’t simply inspire you toward meaningful, legacy-focused living, it will break it down for you with ideas you can implement right away. Man, oh man! Opening up our lives, hearts, and homes to those around us can be complicated. People judge. Insecurity shuts us down and tells us to isolate. And we’re busy! Jen will take your hand in hers and show you  how the gift of invitation can actually be beautiful, life-giving and rewarding. And you don’t have to have an HGTV-showcase-house or fancy family to make it happen!

Those who are brave enough to implement the fresh suggestions she offers will gain the confidence they need to leave a God-honoring legacy and make a meaningful impact. Now, grab a hot cup of coffee and enjoy this excerpt by Jen Schmidt from Just Open the Door.

COME AS YOU ARE

“Come as you are” is an invitation I’ve extended on my blog for years. When you’re known for freely sharing your bedlam moments—those messy, less-than-perfect moments—you start a mini revolution of women who need a place for theirs. (Everyone has them. It’s only whether or not you’re willing to share them.)

As a result, I get the most hilarious e-mails, texts, and pictures of crazy things that other women know I’ll appreciate—odd stories of conversation bloopers, a dinner casserole that exploded on the ceiling, kids who wipe unmentionables on the walls next to their cribs, women who find something hilarious in a thrift store, and pictures of messy houses. (Lots of messy houses.) Sometimes the stories are even laced with such bravery amid their great pain because women know I’ll also understand that too. Incredible freedom comes in sharing those things, both the sidesplitting and the heartrending. It’s a glimpse of what I want for this sisterhood of imperfect women.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. In fact, here’s one I witnessed myself—another delightful episode of “Come as You Are.”

On a beautiful spring day, families gathered in our backyard for a cookout. My friend Bonnie had brought a unique fruit salad to contribute to the cookout. Kind of fruity, mainly desserty—we couldn’t figure out exactly what category to place it in. It was so yummy, and I told her I needed that recipe.

“Oh, it’s so easy,” she replied, with a self-deprecating laugh—“so easy that we made it in the backseat while we were driving here.”

My mouth dropped open.

What?

I had to know the rest of the story. When you thrive on authenticity like I do, sometimes a simple question releases the floodgates for something even better.

She whispered how they’d had no time to make anything, but she didn’t want to come empty-handed. So she piled all the ingredients in the van, brought a huge mixing bowl, and honestly made it while they were driving—spatula and all. “Well, actually I told my ten-year-old daughter how to make it, just so you don’t think I was a distracted driver.”

Imagining the hilarity of it. I grabbed my friend in a bear hug and exclaimed, “Bonnie, I love you now more than ever. This is my kind of bedlam. Can we please tell the other ladies your story?”

Nervous that they’d think she was crazy, she finally gave in. I can be relentless.

After her comedic rendition of how they popped pineapple cans, dumped whip cream, mixed pudding, and added fruit, all in the van, we doubled over in laughter. This is what the sisterhood of imperfect friendship is all about—sharing simple moments that women are often too afraid to admit.

Then she volunteered one other detail that opened her “come as you are” heart even further. Embarrassed that people might see inside her van, she admitted that she’d parked up our driveway so no one would walk past.

“Wait,” I inquired, “you mean it’s all still in your van? All the stuff you used to make it?”

“Oh, yes.”

Together we walked our long gravel drive. I had to see it to believe it (and photograph it, of course). And there in the back seat of her minivan, filled with dirty bowls, remnants of whipped cream, spatulas covered in pudding, and empty fruit cans, I witnessed the most delightful symbolism of sisterhood. Chaos, mess, imperfection, flexibility, and leftovers, all mixed together to make something strikingly sweet and beautiful. A vision representing where life-on-life meets the nitty-gritty. And trust me, the proof is in the pudding. (The pictures and evidence are on my blog.)

Bonnie’s hilarious vulnerability opened up the conversation to many other stories that evening, both funny and heartfelt. It took only one person willing to unveil her story first to find out it didn’t serve as a noose. It became instead a bridge, a visible gift to all those wondering if they were the only one.

That’s the message I want to live, and that’s the invitation I want to extend.

The most profound gift of friendship and hospitality we can give is the assurance, “You are welcome exactly the way you are, and you are worth showing up for.” It’s the Jesus way. The risky, relentless, and scandalous way. The gift of grace given without expectation of anything in return.

“Come as you are.”

Excerpted with permission from Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt.
Copyright 2018, B&H Publishing Group

Congratulations to our giveaway winners: Marlene and Cathy!!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do ONE simple thing. LEAVE A COMMENT to win by CLICKING HERE.

That’s it! Once you leave a comment, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Monday, May 21st, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US readers only.}


For the last decade, Jen Schmidt has been encouraging, challenging, and cheering on women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives on her popular lifestyle blog, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. With a variety of topics—from easy dinner ideas and personal finance to leaving a legacy—Jen equips others to live life to its fullest, reminding them it’s the little things that really are the big things in life. A popular speaker, worship leader and founder/host of the annual Becoming Conference, Jen shares with humor and authenticity as she invites others to join her on this bumpy, beautiful life journey. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, a few too many animals, and an available sofa for anyone who needs it.

JOIN US

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be baptized in the waters of the Jordan River, just like Jesus was? (Matt 3) Have you read the Bible and imagined what it would be like to gaze out over Shepherds Field where the Star of David appeared and visit the cave revered as Jesus’ birthplace (Matt. 1:18‐25). Join the Girlfriends in God ministry team as we visit the Church of the Nativity, built above the cave and considered the world’s oldest functioning church… and so much more!

Best of the Holy Land with Girlfriends In God
March 14-22, 2019
Contact EO Tours
http://www.eo.travel/gigs
800‐247‐0017

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Comments 370

  1. I love the Title! For me it is knocking down the walls in my life before I can get to the door.

  2. I really related to the story of the lady making the salad for the potluck in the car. Knowing that others struggle with keeping a tidy house (or car) in the midst of just keeping up with life helped me realize that I don’t have to be perfect to welcome others into my home or my life. Jesus just needs us to connect with people and share him.

  3. I so needed this today. So many days I feel like I fall short of the mom I need to be. I look around me and see all these wonderful mothers who seem to have it all together, and love their life. And while I am so grateful for my kids and couldn’t live them more, there are too many times where I play the comparison game, and of course can’t measure up. Sometimes I need the reminder that we are all imperfect, and God made each of us with strengths that are unique to us. He gave me all the tools I need to raise my kids the way they need to be raised. I just need to move my focus from comparing myself to everyone else, to just focusing on who He has called me to be as a mother, and know that is exactly enough.

  4. Hello Ladies, I went through a ton of emotions while reading the story of the back seat fruit. I began to cry and I didn’t know why, I mean the story was cute and funny, nothing sad. But I felt a connection that i didn’t quite understand. Then i must admit I felt a bit of envy for a moment and I didn’t understand that either. So before writing this comment I sat with self for a minute and I came to the conclusion of this…My envy came from a place of sadness, sadness due to no connection with women currently in my life, for reasons better shared at a later time. And the tears came from a place of wanting to be connected , not just to a group of sisters , but to be and feel connected to Jesus!! So , I thought of something that I would be willing to openly share, to begin the process of becoming a sister . who can listen to others, and be willing to honestly share too. I have been searching for love in all the wrong places for a long time now. I feel a bit silly, but its true, I have this overly deep desire to be loved and I constantly look for it in humans, and truth be told, no human can fill this God size hole within me, and so tonight I have felt God and I know that I cant do this alone. I need a sister hood to help put my hand in the hand of God and I pray that I’ve been led to the right place. Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. Hi, Kimberly –

      I can totally relate to how you are feeling right now and I am praying that God will continue to remind both of us that He sees us and knows us and loves us. And then I am praying that He guide us to even just one Godly sister to fellowship and encourage.

      MY story: I guess I would sum up my life right now with 1 word……transition! That is where I am…a season on big changes…and most have taken place or will take place this month of May! I turned 50 on May 9th, my 2nd born and only son graduated from High School this month and is shipping off to Basic Training for the National Guard on May 29. He will be gone 4 months total and outside of letters, I will have very limited contact with him. I am so proud of his decision but aching that he is leaving and I can’t even talk to him regularly. My baby girl promoted from 8th grade and will go to HS in the fall. i know how fast those 4 years will go! And my oldest daughter just left a week ago for a 6 week legislative internship in Washington DC. Once she gets home from D.C., she will go right to her college and apartment to work and prepare for another year of college. She is a strong, confident, independent 21 year old woman….which makes me so proud……but……is a knife to the heart because she forgets to call and when we talk I have to pull out information from her. I feel like my heart is being ripped out in chunks….going with my kids….and me being left here (with a husband) wondering where the years have gone. It feels like my kids have forgotten me,,,,,not that they truly have…..it I swear just how it feels.

      As far as friendships…..at one time, i belonged to a couple of very encouraging Bible studies and forged some close friendships with women of multipe ages. i had a network of sisters in Christ and we loved, supported, encouraged, and prayed for each other. These Bible studies have disbanded and my connection with these woman is not as regular due to friends moving, busy lives with kids, and elderly friends in failing health,….and a few friendships have cooled because of differing opinions, i feel completely isolated and alone….,

      And then….to top it all off……our church (a United Methodist Church) just recently found out we will be having a pastorate change this summer. i have done some research on the new pastor and have discovered some information that has me questioning her theology and leadership, i know i havent met the new pastor personally, but i went to her Fscebook page and found posts that she posted that really bothered me and now i am struggling with whether i can stay at the church i’ve attended and worked for the past 16 years,
      so, i am just feeling very, very alone. The scripture from Isaiah really got me……being reminded that God has not forgotten me….my name is written down on his hand. If you think about it….those nail piercings on Jesus’ hands….are there because Jesus thought of me…and YOU!

      i am reminded this morning that i may FEEL forgotten and a has been…..but….those are fee,ings,,,.not truth! God promises to never leave or forsake us, Kimberly. ❤️. i am praying that God will continue to remind us of our worth in Him while He guides us to meaningful, Godfilled friends to continue this journey called life. God bless you!!

  5. I love how life’s most beautiful and memorable moments are those when we do and are as this book states; Come as you are. Being in the present moment at all times is one of the toughest obstacle I face daily and I love the fact that this book and inspirational author is all about being open and honest in how to live this type of life!

  6. I love the story about bedlam! My children are all grown up now but I do remember the habit my husband had of announcing we were having company for dinner. At the insistence of my friend who owned a Mexican restaurant, I would run down to her restaurant with my baking pan and she would fill it with enchiladas. I would keep the sauce separate and pour it over everything and pop it in the oven as if it were my own!

  7. I would love to receive your book, “Just Open The Door”. I loved reading your blog on the book. It touched my heart. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I would so love the book Just Open the Door to read and share with others!! Her story really touched home with me. I’m going to share this opportunity on social media also.

  9. Oh my gosh – I love this story so much:). My first thought after reading it was that I needed the recipe! How often does messy turn into something good when God is involved? Looking forward to the book … heading to Amazon next. Thanks, Gwen, for sharing Jen’s book.

  10. I Love the story Jen shared! I’d fit right into that woman’s circle of frenzy with wrapping presents in the parking lot of wedding celebrations to changing clothes in the car between one event to another lol! I’m glad I’m not the only one and can’t wait to read this book!

  11. I love this! Life is so full of demands and schedules! It’s refreshing to hear such a heartwarming real life story! Thank you for giving a voice to those of us sharing this wonderful journey called life.

  12. I would love this book to learn how to offer up love grace and mercy to all, and to accept love grace and mercy from all as Christ did for us.

  13. Absolutely loved the pineapple “back seat” dessert making story! Such a great way to start a morning reading about the happenings of transparent people!
    I would love to read more in the book “Just open the door.@

  14. In a world where woman strive for perfection, it is refreshing and important to be reminded of how the Master created us. We all need to see ourselves as He does…perfectly loved and unconditionally accepted.

  15. After a bad maariage and the loss of my son, i wouod enjoy reading this book for inner healing and finding a new direction.

  16. I love my “come as you Are friends”. We have so much fun just getting together and having coffee and telling our funny stories about ourselves and our families.

  17. This sounds like a great book, enjoyable and amusing, and the author sounds like someone I’d like to have as a friend!! Would LOVE to win a copy of this book!! Thanks for offering it as a giveaway!! 🙂

  18. I’d love to begin opening my home to others but feel there’s so much updating that needs to be done to my home before that can happen. We’ll see what God has in store. Hospitality is something I love but somewhat feel hindered to do because of these “fixes/updates” that need to be done. May God help me overcome these so that I can do what He’s called me to do.

  19. Opening my door is a goal for me. That’s how I grew up and somewhere in life I started shutting it. Life was so much more enjoyable with an open door.

  20. Your writings always inspire me in the faith of our LORD Jesus!
    Thank you for being who God created you to be!

    Please pray for me. I have isolated myself in the last couple of years following a bad marriage. I need God’s help in being who He created me to be!

  21. I would LOVE to win this book. I pour out my all year round as a teacher, summer program director, and department manager. I need a new perspective to be all God wants me to be.

  22. I love the fruit salad story, but even more the transparency that this group of ladies show to each other. That really touches my heart. I would love to start a group like this and be able to show how God loves us unconditionally, like you well said; just as we are! Hope you sell many books!

  23. Gwen
    Could u please pray for my friend Jessica and her family. ? She got News yesterday that her leukemia she’s been fighting is much worse. She is married and has a young son. She has great faith in God and is a very son lady. In Jesus name. Thanks so much.

  24. Oh my goodness. Love that you are all an open book and are spontaneous. How funny and what a great idea. Sounds yummy.

  25. ‘Come as you are is pure Grace, with Jesus leading the procession.
    What a beautiful story, I’m so blessed to see I am in great company!
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story that brings a smile to every face.

  26. I think I NEED this book! My mom sent me this post this morning and said “This reminds me of you, in the best way possible!” Likely because she’s seen the back of my van and KNOWS the craziness that goes on in that thing!

  27. Oh, I loved this! I’ve moved a bit (haven’t we all!) and I miss those friends I could invite over when my house was a mess. We would negotiate whose house was less messy and go there. I also miss those friends I could tell anything to: my worst mistakes, how I lost it with my child/husband/mother, etc. These friends are people I could be myself with, not some edited version.
    I still have these friends but they are so far away now that we can’t just drop in on each other anymore.
    Cherish your friends!

  28. I so appreciate her honesty! Telling her story helped her, but it also helped every other person at the party. I believe it helped her own daughter the most, as she saw that a girl (or woman) doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does she have to be afraid of what she thinks of as imperfect. People will like you for YOU.

  29. It is always a wonderful time when Christian Sisters can leave perfection at the Cross and come into the house Just As You Are. Open and unashamed. This is how we grow and help others to grow.

  30. An author that writes about the freedom to be real, laugh at oneself and share our messies is a book for me!

  31. I need a hilarious book to read right now. I would love to read about ” we made it in the backseat on the way over.” Sounds like this book would perk me right up.

  32. I’m definitely an introvert which makes it hard to approach people. This books is a great encouragement to that!

  33. Wow. As an avid reader this sounds like a perfect book for me! As a two time breast cancer survivor I have been on an emotional up and down journey since 2009. I truly need this book! GOD is Good!!!

    Thank you

  34. I hate messy, but I live it every day. A mom of three boys, I have learned to try and keep it together and laugh when I don’t. This, by the way, has taken me 21 years 🙏💕😇

  35. Gwen,
    I’m a perfectionist and I work like crazy to have the house looking good when I know family is coming for a holiday visit. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of Jen Schmidt’s “Just Open the Door”.

  36. I’ve been feeling a little down the last few days and like Lisa Haberle, being disabled and not often leaving my home, I needed something to brighten my day. I’m so thankful Lisa and I, along with many others, have already had our hearts lightened! Lisa, your comment touched me-I’m praying that you’re the recipient of this awesome book! ❤️

  37. I’m anxious to read this book! I have an issue of comparing myself to the perceived ( my perception) perfection of my “Martha Stewart” sisters. My concern is I may unintentionally do that to others. This book will help because life IS a mess sometimes!

  38. Ohh my goodness… I was sitting in my living room feeling down because I am disabled and don’t get out much. So, I thought let me check my email maybe there will be some great devotionals. I am glad that I opened this one up. It brought giggles to my heart… I would love to read this book but am on a fixed income…
    Thank you for sharing especially today!!! ☺☺☺
    May God Bless you!!!
    Lisa Haberle

  39. I loved the story about the fruit salad being mixed in the back seat of the minivan!
    It reminds me of how Jesus loves us, messy lives and all !
    Thank you For sharing

  40. I loved the story about the fruit salad being mixed in the back seat of the minivan!
    It reminds me of how Jesus loves us, messy lives and all !
    Thank you For sharing
    Debby White

  41. OMGOSH!! I LOVE the story shared above and the idea of the book!! Seven of us ladies from church meet every other Thursday night for a couple hours, taking turns in each others homes, one of them being the Pastor’s wife. (Also, our husbands meet in one of the other homes). We’ve been meeting for the past 7 years sharing life. We have been there for each other when we’ve been sick, kids marry or had babies, moved, house projects, marriage struggles, death of a loved one, praying the spiritual warfare out, life crisis, celebrating victories, etc… You name it, we’re there for each other!
    Our Pastor and wife came from Alabama, and were both raised in a performance based atmosphere, and as a result, (let’s just call her Jane) struggles with feeling everything has to be just perfect and tied with a BIG bow! But she realizes this is not of God, and it’s been her mission since they came to Calif. to help women to come as they are and be free to be who they are in Christ, herself included. If I were to win this book, I would give it to her, and talk to our group about reading it together. Since we’ll be done with our book (The Deborah Annointing in a few weeks).
    God Bless, Kim

  42. Thank you for words of inspiration and encouraging other women! To God be the Glory! May He continue to bless and encourage you as you encourage others and teach his Word in doing so!

  43. Thank you Jen, for sharing this story for all your readers to enjoy such simple life ways of enjoying each other to come just as we are.
    Imperfect friendships to walk in the open door and be real, to be sad, to to just be happy.
    No matter what our mood is, we can be real to our friends……when we freely open the door and welcome them in.,
    My friend who makes cakes, shared this story….she just got through taking a 12 layer cake out from her oven and started frosting the layers and through all those layers she got distracted and then went back to finish it and couldn’t find the spatula. So she thought maybe she left it in the cake, so she had to start all over again….there’s always a spiritual lesson in everything, when you keep your eyes and ears open to see God’s hand in our journey….thank you again Jin!🌸

  44. Thank you for introducing your sweet friend, Jen Schmidt. Absolutely loved this excerpt of her book, “Just Open The Door”. I started my morning with a few chuckles and a smile on my face..It reminded me of the time I was asked to stay a little later than usual at work to help finish the project we were working on. I made a quick run to Walmart and picked up a few items and quickly put together a dessert in my van in the parking lot. That gave it time to “set” before I arrived at my destination…thank you for the wonderful memory, the chuckles and the smile. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone at the time, but I should have. Was hoping to see Jen’s “backseat recipe”. Would love to read her book. May God richly bless you all today and in the days ahead!

  45. I’m so excited to read your book! Loved the story you shared, so funny, real and honest. As I’ve matured in spirit and in age, I realize that’s what’s most important in relationships being “open” and honest about who you are. I’m still a work in progress and would love to learn more from your book. Hope I win!! ; )
    Blessings!!

  46. How freeing it is to know that I can open my door to anyone at anytime no matter how much dust has settled on the furniture or dog hair on the floor. What matters most is sharing my love with others and making them feel welcome.

  47. I love the story given. I love hearing about the ways people do what needs to be done in this busy world and it encourages me to know this. We need to encourage one another.

  48. What a great story – I have always been so hard on myself to be “perfect”. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I do not have to be that way – I can come just the way I am. It’s still a work in progress!

  49. I love this story because I’m a “Come as You Are” kind of gal always. What you see if what you get. Some people steer away from me because I’m always direct with no fancy airs about me. I find it simple and refreshing 🙂

    Thanks for the wonderful story!

  50. Would love to win. I need to open my door as I am a empty nester and my adult children are in other parts of Kentucky. Who and how can I learn to trust and share fellowship?

  51. This sounds like an inspiring book. I like to read about how others handle situations as an example of how we all have our difficult roads to travel, yet we can see humor, inspiration and strength in our situations.

  52. I love this story! I also think I need to read Jen’s book. I’m an introvert and have kind of a hard time putting myself out there sometimes. My husband is an introvert, too, and really doesn’t like to have visitors at home. He’s “on” all day at work, and home is his happy quiet spot. Thank you for the chance to win the book!

  53. I so need this! Getting ready to have surgery and afraid for the home health nurse to see what a mess my house is. I don’t invite people over because of all my clutter.

  54. What an encouraging excerpt showing the reality of imperfectness in our lives. And the grace that comes with just following Jesus’ leading. When we listen to the Holy Spirit it can be messy, but the reward in this case was fruitful fellowship.

  55. So true! There is such freedom in being vulnerable but, so difficult to open up at times. I will open my door and empower others to step in and open theirs.
    Thank you Jen!

  56. I am a mess… I often smile through the pain… I usually don’t share much…because well I always use to think I am alone in this. No one and I mean no one has ever been through this.
    But I am learning that while it may not be EXACTLY THE SAME it isn’t all that different either. I am a mess…but I am not alone in this.

  57. Oh my goodness, this book sounds exactly like what I need. I’ve stressed my whole life to have a perfectly clean and orderly house before having anyone over. Sometimes I waived the desire to ask someone because things were less than perfect. If I could go back in time, I would take back all the senseless hours spent stressing and cleaning and instead spend them in meaningful conversation with someone I love.

  58. I would love to read this and then share, My job is supervising the catering staff of our local hospital and we laugh and cry together over the silliness and slinkiness of life together.

  59. Wow! I love that idea! I so love inviting people over, but my introvert husband keeps those invites infrequent and insists on hiding the laundry racks (we don’t have a dryer in our apartment in China where we teach.) He has to have a spotless living area before anyone can come over. I still hope and imagine I can fully use my hostessing gifts.

  60. I feel that I fail daily. I am not as strong as I used to be, and have two grandchildren living here, so I never feel comfortable when people are inside my home because I am ashamed of the mess, the toilet that was cleaned 5 minutes ago that now shows a young boy has been there since, or a little girl who has no organizational skills at all has been in a room…. telling people to step over something to get to the couch that will have to be uncovered before they sit make a me cringe. I really don’t “do” chaos well following a stroke. I need this book to lighten the darkness and the load some. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this giveaway.

  61. I love this!!! My family has been known to do things like this and like this story, we all ended up sharing something we did and having a good laugh about it. People today are so wrapped up in trying to be perfect, have the perfect home, family, career, life and the list goes on. If we would focus more on what Jen says, coming as we are, life would be so much better. I’ve been learning and still am learning at 71 that it’s never too late to change. I live with my daughter and 4 grandkids as we’re helping each other. She went through a divorce and we’ve combined forces! Every day is a learning experience for me with 4 kids ages almost 8 to almost 18 and I’m thankful for every minute. Stuff happens in our home but I’m learning to let go and come as I am!

  62. I’m trying really hard to be able to “come as you are”. I’ve seen what over-achievers my past generations of women have gone through and I’m trying not to put myself through that. It’s good that I do host a meeting or a get together every so often so that my house is usually “pretty” presentable. I am OK with family, they know I am not home enough to keep the house “up”. I am trying to be OK with letting people see the real me.

  63. I enjoy hearing imperfect situations from other women. Yes, they can be hilarious; but, it lets me know we all have those days. I am thankful that God takes care of our imperfections, shows us grace and love, and provides new mercies every morning.

  64. I felt her desperation, but also felt all the stress drain away after telling the story. In our precious coveted summers, we have a big campfire at a nice quiet piece of our land once a year with our whole family invited for the whole week end. We always have a story time where the heading might be, “What is your most embarrassing story”. I almost always go to bed that night with a sore belly but peace in my soul.

  65. I got quite a visual picture of this van after working up this amazing addition to your food collection. If this is a sampling of the book can’t wait to read it.

  66. Oh wow I just got an email about this book from day spring and then I see there is a chance to win a copy.

  67. This book sounds phenomenal. Can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your blessed talent with all of us.

  68. I absolutely love love this book love to win, it makes me think of a time when my oldest daughter Amanda made a Banana Pudding for my parents Easter Dinner and we rode up the driveway had no ideal that it was still on top of the car it was hilarious and thankfully it didn’t fall off while we were going up our driveway glad we finally remember that it was on top of the hood, precious memories.

  69. If Gwen Smith is sharing this author, it has to be good! I am always looking for new things to read in the morning to start each day connected to God. Maybe I will win and Jen Schmidt will have something I need as God’s daughter 🙂

  70. I LOVE this! My prayer is that “we” could become more genuine in all that we do.. and be able to share without wondering what people will think! It’s all about authenticity! I love Jen’s blog and books! Can’t wait to get this one!!

  71. This is awesome! This book sounds like a very down to earth refreshing sense of relaxation/me time, and just filling the souls with smiles and laughter. Much needed!! Thank you!

  72. In the last year or so I have come out of my “I can’t share that” to “why not share and be transparent”. I’m learning and I know this book will help!

  73. Yes very ture . Come as yu are my house not always up to par. But when visiting someone your there for them not to judge their place. Lol . So open yur door and not be afraid on what will be said.

  74. Absolutely love this! As women and moms, I feel like we all need those friends that we can “come as we are” and feel embraced. It keeps us sane in the mess. Thank you!

  75. I know I need to face my fear of opening the door. This book sounds like it would be a great help in doing that.

  76. I love this story of being real, honest and vulnerable of who we are, so not perfect! I embrace this freedom.

  77. I love the whole come as your are mentality. Isn’t that exactly what God tells us? I would love to read this book.

  78. Very funny story. I’m pretty sure what she/her daughter made in the care was DELICIOUS!!! Also, sounds like she wrote a great book. I would love to read it.

  79. Truly the proof is in the pudding. What a lovely story of friendship, acceptance and commitment. So glad she didn’t stay home and miss the party. Thanks for sharing. I would love to win this book! 😊

  80. Love being able to live authentically, not worrying about what other people think. Hubby and I have been really looking into what biblical hospitality looks like and how we are going open our home to others

  81. I love this excerpt! Just Open the Door sounds like a book I need to read to get on the track of hospitality. God’s been nudging my heart to invite people into my home, but each day and week gets eaten up by excuses that run rampant in my head. I would absolutely love to read all of this book!

  82. Absolutely love this story! I’ve been part of a Bunco group for 5+ years, and we switch off homes. I have never had it at my house because I just feel like my house isn’t pretty enough. After reading this devotion, it gives me the courage to do so now. Thank you! I would love to be one of the winners of your book.

  83. This story made my morning! My life can be so chaotic, and I have a tendency to judge myself against others. I’m always asking why can’t I be more like others who “appear” to have it together all the time! My life can feel like a hot mess at times, so I need to learn to give it all to God and trust He will take care of my needs.

  84. I made a cake for a family thing. It was a stack type strawberry cake which proceeded to fall apart. I got a big clear bowl put the whole mess in it and told everyone it was a new dessert called Trainwreck! Everyone loved it and I make it that way every time now.

  85. OMG, when I read the story of the dessert it remind me of my Homies, which is 7 girlfriends that I am part of. We try so hard to get together and enjoy each other’s company. They also do silly and wonderful things to show how we feel about each other. I would love to have this book to read. This book could show how much we need each other and Jesus in our lives. It will give us other ideas for our get-to-gethers too. Thanks so much.

  86. I just got to work and saw this in my inbox. Normally I would wait until I got home to leave a “non-work” related comment or participate in this. It’s just, I have one thing after another today and didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

    Thank you for following the prompting of the Holy Spirit and writing this book! Please take care and know you, Jen (and of course Gwen!) are in our prayers.

    Enjoy the day!

  87. This really hit home for me. The last few years I’ve just really had a problem opening up to other women, feeling comfortable entertaining, etc. It can lead to such a feeling of isolation. I have asked God for his guidance over and over on this issue. Love the message of this book, not to get hung up on perfection, to put yourself out there and realize that we’re all more alone than we realize.

  88. . . .this bumpy, beautiful life journey. Yesterday I wrote a note to a friend and hard pressed to use the best descriptive word of explanation, I penned~ our days are quite “bumpy” currently. Today God spoke to me that over the bumps in our journey HE will fill us and make smooth the path before us. Thank You for the words of encouragement and the opportunity to receive practical daily enrichment to manuever the BUMPS of our journey!

  89. Hi. This is a woman after my heart. Being. Dry disorganized I have been there. I sometimes lose hope. I know God is walking beside me but it would be wonderful to win this book for encouragement to remind me we are not perfect. Only when we get Tom heaven. Thank you Gwen for offering g this book

  90. Love the visual of the chaos, sticky mess becoming something sweet and beautiful…anticipating God doing that in my life’s concerns.. Thank you!

  91. I used to have friendships like this when I lived in Montana but now that I’m in Georgia it seems like most of my so called friendships are only surface deep.

  92. II would love to open my “door” and find this book! I am trying to implement this concept into my life. I have an out of print copy of a book on hospitality, it can be a little old fashioned, but I need a refresher course. I am in a new city with no close connections and I believe this is what I need to bridge that gap.

  93. Love to have this,book it made my morning brought a smile to my face and laughter. Thanks for sharing and God Bless with hugs

  94. Loved this! I am hosting a group of friends tonight…it’s my turn! Others have it all together, menus planned weeks ahead, food prepared in advance, matching napkins plates and table clothes. Their houses all neat and tidy and everything is in order. When they come to my house, we always have good food and good fun but….it generally a “come as you are” kind of thing. I am coaching, my son is playing baseball and in our free time we try to squeeze in a few holes of golf so, it becomes a quick “how can we pull this off” few hours before they all arrive. It’s amazing that I don’t spend all the time prepping or fretting but everyone always shows up and we have a wonderful evening together. Feel like sending them a text and telling them tonight, don’t mess with your dress, just “come as you are”! Thanks for these encouraging words!

  95. “Come just the way you are.” So beautiful, so simple, no judgement. How do we always overlook this? Life really has become so busy that we have forgotten the simple and beautiful things in life. Shame on us. Thank you for reminding us what is important in life.

  96. I would love to receive this book. I would say I am a seasoned host looking for renewed inspiration. I love to host and serve others but struggle with being rejected. I definitely need to be inspired.

  97. What a delightfully funny story of Bonnie’s fruit salad! We all need to feel free to share with others our life stories – crazy as they may be!! 😊

  98. I love how the telling of simple things that we find negative, actually bridge the gap to show we aren’t all that different.

  99. This is amazing! So many women have the means to step up, step out, and be bold, but the biggest thing that stops people like me is insecurity of what you are really capable of to make an impact. For me I am a big introvert with with great drive, big dreams, and I’m just not brave, assertive, or bold…. This just would help so many women like me.

  100. I really need some friends and encouraging the last two years has been trying time had a car wreck , my dad died , and I lost my died and trying to deal with my sister disappointing me but I must leave in all In God’s hand . Thank you for listening and have a blessed day 😊

  101. Oh my goodness. I just loved the dessert story. That sounds like something I would do. <3 That started my day with a smile and who doesn't love to start their day with a smile. I try to start that way everyday Thankful that God gave me life another day. Thanks for sharing!!!

  102. I loved what I read! Made me think of moments with my sister or girlfriend s having the “tired sillies” as we have called them! Laughing so hard it would take your breath away but then leaving you exhilarated! Thanks for sharing😂!

  103. God has blessed me with the gift of hospitality and I love to embrace others in friendship. I would love to have a copy to share with others.
    Blessings

  104. Love the story, it is so everyday life and the joy it brought to my heart that others do the crazy things I’ve done. Thank you for sharing.

  105. would love to read this book over the summer! thanks for the offer!! Just what I NEED AT THIS POINT OF MY LIFE!

  106. As a single mother of 2 and going through the process of adopting 2 sibling children, this books seems to hit the nail on the head regarding my life right now.

  107. I would love to have a copy of this book! It appears to be a fun and interesting read. I was raised in a family whose ideals were of common people who cared and respected everyone and everyone was welcome in our home. Thus we met all kinds of people from all socioeconomic levels and from numerous countries. Lots of fun!

  108. Love it, also my kind of chaos! I look forward to reading this, and hopeful I can receive a copy. Thank you for sharing!:)

  109. My sister says she doesn’t have the gift of hospitality but that I do. Well, I do kind of, because I do invite, and oh how I wish I could just open the door that evening, however, instead I rush around needing to make sure everything is perfect before folks arrive. They always appreciate the hospitality but I wish I could let my guard down and just open the door without all the fuss. Loved your friends salad recipe idea! I can just image the frenzy in the car during the preparation!

  110. Absolutely loved the sample of your book and if I don’t win, I’m still going to buy a copy! Thanks for sharing!!

  111. THANK YOU AS OUR LIVES ARE LIKE THIS AND YOU PROVE THAT IT ORDINARY AND FUN TO BE I WHAT EVER WE HAPPEN TO BE IN THANK YOU AS THAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT THE THING I DO AT TIMES AMEN

  112. This sounds like a great book! I have connected with my neighbors in the last 2 years and just love them!

  113. Praise God for ladies like yourselves who share the gospel of Jesus and keep it entertaining and fun. I enjoy reading your posts everyday. I would love to have a copy of this new book. God Bless!!

  114. Would love to win this book! Looks like it would be a great book to read. God bless you for giving away two free books.

  115. ‘Come as you are…’ A phrase well intended but not always received well. We hide behind our own insecurities and feel as if the invitation is cliché. We doubt that come as you are isn’t a joke or the onset of self destruction. Even churches display ‘come as you are’ but tend to pass judgement. I love that you have taken this common phrase and put a different spin on it. Sometimes we do have to bring out our mixing bowl and ingredients and bring it together in our car before reaching our destination. Flawed, imperfect, but perfectly loved by Our Creator.

  116. Hi, i loved the post that Jen wrote! Book sounds right up my alley! So grateful Jesus loves us just as we are,, messy and all!

  117. Can anything be more difficult then being a mom. It is a job that last a lifetime, without an evaluation till children have gone out on there own.
    I love that statement about chaos, mess….becoming something strikingly sweet and beautiful. Thank for the smile to start my day

  118. Oh, this IS my daughter, wonderful wife and mom! Sometimes she shares and I wince. Maybe she’s been showing me and all her “young mom friends” we can ALL come as we are! Thank you!

  119. If only we all were more honest with each other instead of pretending we have it all put together.

  120. I love this story — and the simple reminder that Jesus tells us to “come as you are”. We try to make it so hard but He makes it so easy. What a blessing to read this story today!!

  121. Just what I needed to read this morning! I love this story and I can so see myself in it! I can see the events unfolding and I’m almost in the van with you! Come as you are! All are welcomed here.

  122. JEN SCHMIDT sounds like my kind of author, “totally human”! Thanks for introducing her..Can’t wait to read her book..

  123. Great story! I think we all need to become more comfortable with the reality of our lives. Thank you for your ministry.

  124. Hi Jen,
    This book sounds like something I need. That dessert you did in the van. I made a dessert similar to that in my minivan to. Us moms have to do what’s best for us on the time we have. You sound like a down to home mom just like me. I would love one of your books.

  125. I so wish I could be open like this – without the fear of being judged! I’m working on it, but I’m not quite there…..

    Thanks for sharing!

  126. I would like be to read Jens book as we are all in need of “ reassurance “ these days. Thank you for writing from your heart and sharing it with us!!

  127. I have always been an open book. As a bible teacher God has used my life to show His love, forgiveness, and grace. I’m excited about this book can’t wait to read it. I love real people and seeing how God uses them.

  128. Thank you for inviting me into your messiness and reminding me God (and soul sisters) accepts us just how we are.

  129. My heart breaks for my three year old foster child whose eighteen year old mom. Signed herself out of cys care and signed her daughter into care so that she could move in with a boy. Liked the story you shared on here

  130. This story is hilarious and comforting at the same time. If we all would make people feel that welcome, it would not be difficult for them to “come as they are.” Too often they want to clean themselves up because of the pretentious attitudes we, as Christians, have. I love this.

  131. I absolutely love this story. It reminds us all to be free to open up to others. We all have stories to share.that will connect us to others. Thanks !

  132. Very true come as yu are. My house isn’t always clean when visiting someone it’s the person / people you go to see not the place. So come as you are.

  133. We just never know what sharing moments like this with others can do for someone. I would so love to read this book.

  134. I loved this story! Life is messy. How awesome to have like minded women to let your hair down, laugh, and share your messiness stories. I would love to read this book!

  135. This really bits home for me… I made spinach dip while driving to a party at my sister’s home. I would never admit that to anyone. Looking forward to reading more.

  136. I’ve been hurt, like most women, by women. And if I’m being honest I’ve hurt a few in my life. But my heart honestly longs for friendships like Jen’s. I’ve always been the one to just open the door – but in the recent years I have stopped doing it as much. I want to read this book so I can remember the reasons I did. Thank you for sharing.

  137. This sounds wonderful! A great summer treat! Thank you Jesus for these wonderful writers that share their gifts!!

  138. The snippet from the book was great! Would love to read the whole book. I am an imperfect hot mess mama!

  139. I have been looking at this book for a couple of weeks, considering buying it. I feel this type of ministry is part of what God is calling me to be involved in. I want and need to learn more about opening my door and would welcome the encouragement that I know is within the covers of this book. Winning this book would be a sweet confirmation of what I feel in my heart is part of my calling and also a vital part of showing the love of God to others. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts here. God bless.

  140. Love this story…so made me laugh and think of all the crazy things we’ve had to accomplish in the car. Would love to read this book and than share with my sweet daughter in law as she is in a rough season. Have a great day everyone!

  141. Wow, I really enjoyed the excerpt from “Come as You Are” and how I can relate to the apprehension of sharing life details because you don’t want to appear crazy or feel judged. To be welcomed just the way you are in a friendship is priceless. I am so grateful that Jesus is my friend and praying that God will allow me to be that “come as you are” friend for others.
    God bless!

  142. All it takes is one person to listen, someone to open up and be vulnerable. God uses simple things.

  143. Sounds like a good book that many of us would love to read and can relate to! Something that makes us realize how we can find joy in the crazy moments of every day life.

  144. I agree. We need to be doing our Christ like business and be honest about who we are. Looking good to others should never over ride serving the Lord.

  145. I love the whole concept of this book! Such time and energy is wasted (especially among women) worrying about how we appear to others and comparing ourselves to others’ “perfect lives”. And to do this through humor and warmth is wonderful! Would love to win a copy to give to a friend going through a very difficult time right now.

  146. Freedom to be myself. No pretending… I have to practice that. That means trusting God with my reputation. If this book is a companion in walking out this trusting God concept… I want to read it.

  147. We all need to bring laughter & simplicity back into our lives. Busyness has taken over and we too often miss the details of Gods creation. What a lighthearted & joyfilled book. Would love to have a copy. Thank you-

  148. As a mother of 7, it’s great to know I’m not the only crazy mama out there who Isn’t perfect!!! I want to read this book so bad!!!

  149. I understand a messy or cluttered house (as I call mine) but to me, that is a minir thing inthe scheme of life. Jesus (and my 90-year mother) is what takes priority in my life .
    All else is open for discussion but I warn you now, you won’t win the discussion 😊.
    Have a blessed day

  150. This post made me think of the quote I have in my living room. It says, “If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before inviting someone into it, I might never let anyone come through the door.” Thank you for sharing the messiness of life! Perfect! =)

  151. This has given me another way to render and accept invitations. I can open up to greater possibilities instead of giving up or just plan opting out. Thank you!
    Sylvia Tucker

  152. That was such a funny and really down to earth event. It gives comfort to mothers who avoid events because “they don’t have time to prepare a dish.” Not to mention those of us whose cars get messy sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

  153. This is just me! I have been condemned for years for not being perfect. My daughters and daughters-in-law are just like me. We are a bundle of angst seeking approval, loving each other as we are, reassuring each other but so often forgetting that it is society that is out of step and Jesus paid the price so that Daddy God could accept us as we are.

  154. Opening the door and allowing God to do His will is the only way to cope with life! He has held me in His embrace as I have seen my 29 yr old son die of Leukaemia such willingness to trust his Father God throughout his illness was inspirational to all who witnessed it.

  155. I love this exerpt! I never feel like I quite measure up so this was perfect to hear!! I would love to read more!

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