Ellen Graf-Martin

  • Just Because You Fail, Doesn’t Mean You’re A Failure

    Forgetting what lies behind and
    straining forward to what lies ahead,
    I press on toward the goal for the prize 
    of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

    Just Because You FailMY RECENT FAILURES

    Getting out with a group of girls is always fun!

    So, when my friend Ellen Graf-Martin invited me to attend her Fierce Hearted Retreat with Holley Gerth, I was all in!  Well, at least until Ellen let us know the Friday night fun was painting pottery. Hearing the plan made me want to back out because it was artistic and well, let’s just say I’m not artistically talented {complete understatement}. As you can see in the pictures, my pottery painting was a total fail and this past season has given me lots of reasons to feel like a failure.

    Beyond painting an ugly mug, I made the worst anniversary dinner AND dessert in human history… not the meal I had hoped would express my endearing love for Todd. Then there’s the canceled missions trip to Guatemala that was supposed to take flight in March.  To say there were days when I felt like a failure is another {complete understatement}. I’ve had to keep reminding myself…

    Just because you fail, doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

    Phil 3.13Knowing Paul wrote Philippians from a jail cell puts his words into perspective.  Paul could have been like most of us and started bemoaning the choices made that landed him in prison, but he didn’t.

    Instead of allowing his incarceration to be a reason for sinking into defeat or entering into a blaming tirade, Paul takes his focus off of this seeming ‘failure’ onto the goal ahead of him.  Gaze fixed on the prize for fulfilling the upward call of God.

    WOW! That’s really hard to do.

    label of failure


    Rejecting the label of failure and choosing to look towards future success, will make you prosper. 



    In his book Failing Forward, John C. Maxwell rightly says,

    “There is no achievement without failure.To even imply that it might be possible gives people the wrong impression.”1

    Failing Forward

    Maxwell’s whole book is dedicated to helping people train for failure as he cites people’s stories who have found success through repeated failures, great examples of how to fail forward.

    My advice to you today is, don’t let failure derail you from the upward call of God on your life.  We all fail.  The question is, will you be like Micah and announce to the world: “though I fall, yet I will rise”?2

    Remember, Just because you fail, doesn’t mean you’re a failure.


    Father… I thank you that failure is not final.  I don’t have to live in fear of failure because You encourage me in Your Word that when I fall, You’ll help me get back up.  Let me walk with confidence towards the exciting plans You have for my life and learn to fail forward, not letting the enemy or anyone label me a failure.  In You, I am more than an overcomer! In Jesus Name…Amen

    There’s so much more that God’s put on my heart about Failing Forward that I can’t fit into this little Soul H2O devotion.  I’m also going to be giving away a copy of Holley Gerth’s book fierce hearted to a lucky winner!

    Just because you fail, doesn’t mean you’re a #failure.

    Rejecting the label of failure and choosing to look towards future success, will make you prosper.

    Soul H2O bookIf you liked the refreshing in this #SoulH2O devotion, you’ll love my latest Soul H2O Devotional book: 40 Thirst Quenching Devotions for Women.

    Post in the Comment Section below and bolster the faith of someone else!

    Drawing from the well

    1. Philippians 3:13-14
    2. Micah 7:8
    3. Ps 40:2-3
    4. Proverbs 24:16


    1. Maxwell, John. Failing Forward, © 2000 Nelson Books: Nashville, TN pg. 7
    2. Micah 7:8 

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  • How You Can Rival the Identity Issue and WIN!!!

    How You Can Rival The Identity Issue And WinWhat’s a summer holiday without a great book to read?  I’ve been getting filled up during my summer holiday in the past two weeks with an amazing book by Lisa Bevere and I really want to share it with you so you can rival the identity issue and WIN!!!  I’ll also let you in on what Lisa Bevere’s really like as I tell you about how I know her.

    I’m reviewing Lisa Bevere’s book, WITHOUT RIVAL; Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison 1 along with the DVD Series, INSIGHTS TO A LIFE WITHOUT RIVAL: you are loved uniquely 2 for this #PaperbackPic post and #EllensPicks Linkup.

    Ellens PicksI have to let you know that the book and DVD were provided to me by Baker Books through my association with Ellen’s Picks, but I can assure you the comments are what I really think…and you’re gonna love this one!

    Lisa Bevere

    Lisa is a feisty, fun passionate Sicilian with a heart much bigger than her little frame!  Her life has influenced mine in more ways than she will probably ever know because she also influenced my daughter’s life when she spoke at the SEU Conference this year and Shelby actually read this book before me!  Lisa’s inspiring mothers and daughters all over the globe and this book of hers contains so many truths I hope this younger generation of girls take hold of better than we have.

    How I Met Lisa

    I was blessed to get to know Lisa a little bit back in about 2008 or 2009.  I had been asked to be Lisa’s Assistant for a Conference in Toronto and I was thrilled to serve the woman who wrote books that helped me mature like, Be Angry, But Don’t Blow It 3 and Out of Control and Loving It 4.

    It happened during a crazy weekend with an unseasonal blizzard in April, and I mean Blizzard!  We often get a token snowfall in April that melts before noon, but that year we had an all-out snowstorm.  I was supposed to pick Lisa up at the Toronto airport but her plane had to get rerouted into Buffalo because the storm was so bad.  Friends who lived closer to Buffalo had to pick her up and drive her to the Conference.  Lisa got there just in time to speak for the first night and I was anxious to help her, but I wish I’d been given a little more direction to better assist…If only I knew then, like I know now, what a speaker needs!

    When I went to take Lisa to the airport or her flight home she almost had to get an alternate ride again.  I left Lisa at the front doors of the hotel and left to get my car out of the parking lot.  It had snowed again overnight and my car was stuck in about a foot of snow!  After about 20 minutes I had shoveled out and pulled up to the front as she was just about to get into another car.  She jumped into mine and away we were off.  I was probably the worst assistant Lisa’s ever had to deal with!

    The Storm Raging In My Life

    That weekend the weather matched the storm raging in my life and it was all I could do to be “normal”.  My first marriage was completely broken and I was struggling to stay afloat on a sinking ship.  At times it was so difficult to put aside my personal life and focus on the Conference.  When my car was stuck in the snow it almost pushed me over the edge, but I didn’t let it take me down.  Hearing how much Lisa had overcome in her life gave me inspiration to believe that my miracle could be just around the corner.

    Lisa was the real deal.  She spoke with the anointing of God…and she was fun!  I loved listening to her talk with her boys and try to break up disagreements from another country.  She was a real mom, with real kids…and if you know anything about Lisa, you know she loves her family.

    You Are Not What You WeighLisa also had a real heart for women.  I remember praying around the altar with her when a girl came up broken and shared how she struggled with an eating disorder.  Lisa’s heart was truly broken for this girl and she sincerely shared from her life.  Lisa asked me to run to the table to get this girl her book, You Are Not What You Weigh. 5  Lisa signed it and gave her the book free of charge.

    I knew God was preparing me for the future in being Lisa’s speaking assistant, but I just couldn’t imagine how my life could ever turn around to be “ministry material” again.  I remember thinking, if she only knew how messed up my life was she wouldn’t want me around.

    Fast Forward 10 years and here I am; happily remarried, fulfilling that call on my life for ministry through speaking and authoring books.  ONLY GOD!!!!  Whenever I get to give my books away I remember how Lisa did this so freely.


    without rivalWhen I received my #EllensPicks package with a book from Lisa inside I was completely excited.  I listen when Lisa speaks because I know she hears from God.

    Without Rival is a dynamic book that will help you embrace your identity and purpose.  Watching the DVD series, Insights To a Life Without Rival will feel like you’re right in the room with Lisa, hanging out with your girlfriends.  You get to see her as she really is and hear her heart for women…for YOU!

    You Can Rival the Identity Issue, and WIN!

    God has been speaking to me at a whole new level since I read this book. It’s helped me see areas where I’ve been living below God’s view of my identity because of the rivals in my life.  This line in her book at the very beginning started the “light-bulb” moments for me as I read.

    “When rivalry comes into play,
    its goal is not so much to win the game as it is to remove you from the field.”6

    Lisa talks about people who rival us and how they actually are a blessing in our lives!  She shares how God’s love for us is unrivaled.  Her words built me up as I read:

    “You are uniquely loved because you were uniquely created.
    Unique means “the sole example of, prototype or only one,” and my favorite definition, “without equal or rival.””7

    There were so many truths in her book. One that powerfully impacted me was that,

    God Has No Rival

    When Lisa talked about this she had my full attention.  As I watched the DVD.  She told the story about how Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13-18, “Who do you say I am?”.  Simon, whose name is about to be changed to Peter replies, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”8  Lisa points out that,

    “When we have a revelation of who Jesus really is,
    then we are in a position to hear who we really are.”9

    When Simon declares who Jesus really is it unlocks the key for Jesus to declare who Simon really is!  Simon was really Peter.  He wasn’t a fickle-fisherman, he was rock-solid so, Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.  It’s only after we get a revelation of who God is that we can get a revelation about who we are and begin to walk in destiny!

    Let God reveal Himself to YOU!

    Don’t just settle for scraps leftover from someone else or rumours of what God did for them.  Let God reveal Himself to you personally.  If you do, by the end of this book, you will be inspired to live as a,

    Daughter Without Rival,
    in a Life Unrivaled!

    Hope you enjoy your summer.  This Monday I’ll be back from holidays, sending out my weekly #SoulH2O Devotions.

    Much love,

    Get a revelation of who God is then you can get a revelation about who you are! Share on X

    lisa and john bevereLisa Bevere is a New York Times bestselling author and the wife of John Bevere, another NYT Bestselling author.  Together they have founded Messenger International.  They have inspired generations of Christians through their books, speaking, blogs, podcasts and lives lived.

    Website and Blog: https://messengerinternational.org/lisabevere/

    #PaperbackPic: WITHOUT RIVAL
    Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison
    AUTHOR: Lisa Bevere
    © 2016 by Lisa Bevere
    PUBLISHER: Revell; a division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, MI USA
    Purchase the book Here:  https://www.amazon.ca/Without-Rival-Identity-Confusion-Compariso/dp/080072724X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1500510104&sr=8-2&keywords=lisa+bevere

    AUTHOR: Lisa Bevere
    © 2016 Messenger International, Inc.
    Purchase the DVD Series Here:  https://www.amazon.ca/Insights-Life-Without-Rival-DVD/dp/1937558029/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1500510389&sr=8-13&keywords=lisa+bevere


    1. Bevere, Lisa. Without Rival; Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison. (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016
    2. Bevere, Lisa. Insights To A Life Without Rival; you are loved uniquely DVD Series. ©2016 Messengers International, Inc.
    3. Bevere, Lisa. Out of Control and Loving It: Giving God Complete Control of Your Life. Charisma House ©2006
    4. Bevere, Lisa. Be Angry, But Don’t Blow It.
    5. Bevere, Lisa. You Are Not What You Weigh : End Your War with Food and Discover Your True Value. Siloam ©2007
    6. Bevere, Without Rival, 13.
    7. Bevere, Without Rival, 20.
    8. Peterson, Eugene. THE MESSAGE. NavPress Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. © 1993, 1994, 1195, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.
    9. Bevere, Without Rival, 21.


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  • Choosing To See God In The Midst of Your Everyday Life

    For this #PaperbackPic and #EllensPIcks I’m reviewing Mary Beth Chapman’s book, CHOOSING TO SEE; a Journey of Struggle and Hope 

    A Journey of Struggle and Hope

    AUTHOR: Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn
    © 2010 by Mary Beth Chapman
    PUBLISHER: Revell; a division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, MI USA

    I’ve been inspired by Steven Curtis Chapman’s music for decades and my heart broke for his family in 2008 when they lost their daughter Maria in a horrific accident.  I think the world watched in disbelief as we watched the news.  Mary Beth wrote this book in the aftermath of that woeful day, but this book isn’t just gloom and doom of the heartache they’ve gone through.  Mary Beth opens her life letting you in on the struggles and the success they’ve had.  She tells about the fun they have and the issues that stretch their faith. Sherry reading choosing to see

    The book’s kind of an emotional roller coaster 🙂 Thanks for the Kleenex Ellen!  You’re laughing with Mary Beth on one page and then crying with her in the next!  Doesn’t that sound like real life?

    I think Mary Beth wrote this book that way because his book is all about choosing to see God in the midst of your everyday life; even your pain.  If you’re like me, that’s not the easiest thing to do.  When we’re hurt we want to cocoon and throw a pity party.  Mary Beth shares about the dangers of reacting like that and wrote this book to help people see the funny way God brought them together, how He was with them throughout their horrible loss and how He is continuing to show up.  I love how she says:

    “I have found that even during those times when the path is the darkest, He leaves little bits of evidence all along the way—bread crumbs of grace—that can give me what I need to take the next step.  But I can only find them if I choose to See.”1

    Knowing that God was with the Chapman’s in such profound ways helps you to have hope that God will be with you in triumph and tragedy.

    The book brings you along on the journey of life with Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman.  You feel like a fly on the wall as Mary Beth shares about her childhood, their dating days, Steven’s career accomplishments, raising children and living life.

    Mary Beth’s honesty and openness is so refreshing.

    Mary Beth talks about how opposites attract and shares openly about marriage struggles related to their contrasting personalities.  She calls Stephen “Tigger” and herself “Eeyore”. 2

    It reminded me of when Todd and I went to hear the Christian Comedian Steve Geyer for a Valentine’s Date Night Out a couple years ago.  Steve helped couples see the different personality types through the characters in Winnie-The-Pooh.  I’d never thought of those books like that before, but you can see the diverse personalities in all the characters.  Steve of course did it with great humor.


    Mary Beth makes you laugh too. She seems to be a really fun person who loves to play practical jokes, I think we’d be great friends if she lived on my street!  One of the funniest stories in the book told about how they became parents because the dog ate her birth control pills!  There’s a cute picture in the book with a caption reading, “Pill-eating puppy named Peso, with the result named Emily.”3  I love how she shared so many of their personal family photos in the book.  It helps you to feel like you know them all.


    May Beth openly talks about her battle with depression in such a balanced way.  I’m so glad to hear solid Christians share about a topic that has affected my family so much.  I know the more we talk about it the healthier we will all become.

    The Chapman’s are a very close knit family that has a lot of fun together.  They value their kids so much that they ended up adopting three girls from China because their daughter Emily wouldn’t stop hounding.

    The Chapman’s have very close friends and they all do life together.  They have babies, raise kids, adopt babies from China, grieve, mourn, laugh, pray with and vacation together.  They don’t have ‘fairweather friends’.  It’s clear through Mary Beth’s words that having solid Christian friendships have helped them have more fun and weather the storms of life.

    Through people, artwork, lady bugs, little girls with heavenly messages and so much more; God truly was throwing the Chapman’s breadcrumbs of grace to help get them through.  I’m so thankful that Mary Beth took the time to write this book and share her journey of struggle and hope.  I will forever be changed as I consciously choose to see God at work in the events of my life and I know you will too!  If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought in the comments below.

    Purchase the book by clicking on the Amazon Image.  amazon.com

    between heaven and the real worldGet ready for the next month or two when I share my #PaperbackPick on Steven Curtis Chapman’s book that is soon to be released called, BETWEEN HEAVEN AND THE REAL WORLD.  I’m not sure when our #EllensPicks Linkup date is for that one yet, you’ll have to just keep an eye out 🙂


    Mary Beth ChapmanMary Beth Chapman

    Is a New York Times bestselling author and the wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman.  Together they began Show Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to families wishing to adopt, increases awareness of the orphan crisis, and funnels resources to orphans around the world. Picture stolen from her twitter account 🙂 Yikes!  Sorry MB.

    Website and Blog: http://www.MaryBethChapman.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMaryBethChapman/?fref=ts
    Twitter:  MaryBethChapman
    Instagram:  mbchap232

    Ellen's Picks

    1. Mary Beth Chapman, Ellen Vaugh. Choosing To See; A Journey of Struggle and Hope. (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2010). 26.
    2. Chapman, Choosing To See, 41.
    3. Chapman, Choosing To See, between 96-97.



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  • Roots & Sky – Christie Purifoy


    A Journey Home in Four Seasons
    AUTHOR: Christie Purifoy
    Published by Revell; a division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, MI USA

    reading diaryWhen I was a pre-teen my sister read my diary.  In it she found some incriminating evidence of a not-so-age-appropriate Judy Blume book my cousin and I were secretly reading together that led my parents to its hiding place.   Boy did I get in trouble!

    I remember being so upset that my sister read my diary, the pages where I poured out my heart and asked questions I didn’t want anyone to know I had.

    Christie’s book felt like an intimate journey through her private journals, but don’ worry, it’s completely G-rated, unlike my Judy Blume book!   I have never read such an eloquently written book.  In contrast to my private diaries, Christie’s words are poetic and have this earthy sort of rhythm.

    Christie truly is an artist with her words.

    Through the book, you enter Christie’s life at a time of great change.  She makes a profound statement when she says,

    “I had arrived at both the beginning and the end of a journey.”1 

    The truth that every new path starts at the end of an old road helps you to make the next step on your new trail.

    I love how Christie doesn’t share all the answers, but all the questions about life she was asking.  She brings the reader along in the process that led to deep personal discoveries.    I love how she took the time to notice what was going on in her life at every season and see God at work in the midst of all she faced.

    It was poetic perfection that in the midst of this new chapter for her family that a baby was born.  The birth of Elsa Spring symbolizes the newness of the times for this young family in following after their dream.  When Christie talked about how dreams start I was captivated.

    “Perhaps it begins…with birth pains.”2 

    We all want to live out our God-given dreams, but how often to we give up when difficult circumstances arise?  Too often we’re like the seed planted on the rocks that don’t take root. Through Christie’s writing you see how moving into something new that God has for your life doesn’t happen overnight.  It took time for her to feel “at home” in her dream house.

    Growth is a process.
    A beautiful journey only the strong take.

    If you sense that something new is around the corner or struggling to accept a new situation in your life, this book could be the guide to help you see the beauty of the journey.

    Christie Purifoy

    My name is Christie Purifoy. I live with my husband and four children at Maplehurst, an old, brick farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    My book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons was published by Revell on February 2, 2016.

    In 2010, I received a PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago. A few years later I traded the classroom for a picket-fenced garden and an old writing desk. Today, I grow zucchini my four children refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.

    I believe that life, in all its pain and beauty and mystery, is a journey of love. Writing keeps my eyes wide-open to this astonishing reality.

    Christie’s blog, A Spacious Place can be found on her website:

    1   Pg.14
    2   Pg. 27

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  • You’re Already Amazing – By Holley Gerth

    This month marks my entry into the “#EllensPicks group of women. I was so excited to get home from a speaking trip to Dallas and open my first package. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy mail without a bill! It was all packaged up with raffia, cute cards with quotes from Holley Gerth, The great You’re Already Amazing Life Growth Guide book, 2 packets of hot chocolate that I might or might not have shared with my hubby Todd and a sweet handwritten card from Ellen Graf-Martin.

    starting to read the bookAs soon as I got Holley’s book I began devouring it. I love self-help stuff since I’m always needing it and especially when it’s backed up with scripture. I’m passionate about helping people see their God-given Purpose and encouraging them to fulfil it. I can see Holley is too. I immediately clicked with her book.

    Then I went on my computer to check her out and watch the video mentioned in the book. I felt an affinity with Holley even though I don’t know her, yet. I can say yet, because even if we don’t meet here on earth I’m convinced there’s going to be a big blogger’s linkup area in heaven one day!  When I saw the title of Holley’s blog I thought “I could hang out with this girl”. Since you’re on my page you probably know that my blog is called Soul H2O, and Holley’s blog is called Coffee For Your Heart, so we’re both trying to help quench your spiritual thirst, just with different drinks. I wish I liked coffee so my blog could have used a really cool blog name like Soul Coffee. Since I don’t like coffee and suffer from a Coke addiction (breathe…I’m meaning Coca-Cola, the kind I maybe get daily at a local McDonald’s drive-thru, maybe)…anyways, I didn’t think Soul Coke was a viable option in the Christian Blog market, so I went with the Soul H2O idea.

    Ok, back to the purpose of this post—the review. Holley’s book You’re Already Amazing has the best tagline. If she gave a money-back guarantee based on the sub-title she’d never have to return a penny. It says:

    Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be

    If you struggle with understanding what you’re good at or knowing what God wants for your life, if you’ve ever wanted to get a Life Coach, then this book is a must ‘get’. I don’t say must ‘read’ because you need to get it, read it, mark it up and write in it. You can’t ‘just’ read it or you won’t get your money’s worth. The best part of this book is the self-discovery that results from the exercises Holley gets you to do. She really puts her Life Coaching skillset into the pages of this book. She knows like my Life Coach friend Wendy Pauls, how to draw out what’s inside of you.

    The most powerful sentence in the book for me was on pages 25-26 when Holley said:

    “My friend’s two phrases “This is nothing” and “It was simple” are twin clues that skills are hiding somewhere in plain sight…What are you doing when people compliment you and you can’t quite understand why they think it’s a big deal?”

    This statement has helped me to explain to others how to find their God-given talents. It’s as simple as that.

    Once Holley helps you to Embrace Who You Are, she guides you to Becoming All God Created You to Be.

    This book is a beautiful, fun journey that you’ll love to travel with Holley. If you take the time to use the book, watch her videos and implement what you learn, you’ll Become All God Created You to Be when you understand that You’re Already Amazing!

    I hope you enjoyed my first #paperbackpic review. By writing this linkup post for #EllensPics I’ve reached a life-goal I’ve been putting off for a year. How fitting that it would happen while reviewing a book that helps you move forward in what God has for your life! I’ve wanted to start writing reviews on books for a long time and even searched out my own hashtag to use. I was shocked when my idea hadn’t been taken yet and #paperpackpic was unused. I’m even more shocked that it still hasn’t been used after a year. Well not anymore girls! I will be sharing books that have helped me grow and will help you too. I’ve always been one to suggest books and often give them out to friends, I just did yesterday. Once a girlfriend started calling me the ‘spiritual librarian’ of our church, which was quite funny since I’m the type that usually gets kicked out of libraries, for talking of course! So here’s my way of talking in the library and helping my girlfriends find some good books.

    Be blessed and refreshed,

    holley book coverHere’s how to find Holley Gerth:
    Website: http://www.holleygerth.com
    Book Site: https://holleygerth.com/amazing
    Insta & Twitter: @holleygerth
    Facebook: Holley Gerth

    You’re Already Amazing – By Holly Gerth
    Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be
    (c) 2016 Holley, Inc. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, MI

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