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Kristin Vanderlip

August 1, 2016

Sacred Spaces Book Review (Part 1)

Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage is a non-fiction book written by Corie Weathers that comes out TODAY, August 1st. When I first caught wind of this book, I jumped on the opportunity to apply to be a part of the book launch team, and I was accepted. Over the past few weeks I have been reading this book on my Kindle, pouring over Corie’s words as she poured her heart into them, and now that I’ve finished, and on her book’s release date, I can’t wait to tell you more and share my review and part 1 of my thoughts.


Before I share my review, let me provide you with some brief background about Corie, (I refer to her so casually because after reading her book I feel somehow intimately connected with her – and I think you will too when you read Sacred Spaces) and how the book came to be. Corie Weathers is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and the spouse of US Army Chaplain Matt Weathers. They’ve been married for 17 years and have two sons.

In 2015 Corie was named the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, an award given by Military Spouse magazine. In the fall of 2015, Corie was offered the chance of a lifetime: to attend a week-long tour with the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, to visit our troops serving overseas. It was the first time a military spouse was being invited to “have a firsthand glimpse into the active duty world” with deployed service members overseas. I am so thankful that Secretary Carter saw the need for a military spouse to have this experience and opportunity, and when you read Sacred Spaces I know you will be thankful too.


As I began Sacred Spaces, I enjoyed living vicariously through Corie’s experiences overseas. Her detailed narrative, sharing sights, sounds, and smells, enabled me to feel like I was invited on the tour too, gaining special access into a world that previously only belonged to my husband. As she describes her experiences and thoughts, as well as emails written by her husband to her, all of which enabled me to gain insight into my husband’s experiences and make sense of my own military marriage. My heart shouted, “Yes me too,” at nearly every turn of the page as Corie honestly confesses her feelings at various points in her military marriage journey, from PCS stresses, to deployments, to trying to connect with her spouse, and so on.

But Sacred Spaces is more than a narrative of a military spouse’s experiences being married to a deployed service member or her role reversal and experience overseas, as Corie writes, her “mission was to take back the lost ground between Matt [her husband] and me, ground we had surrendered to hurt, misunderstanding, loss—and to Afghanistan. Ultimately, this is the mission of every marriage: The pursuit of understanding a spouse’s wounded heart, the humility of forgiveness, and the journey from pain to restoration” – and that’s what the mission of Sacred Spaces is as well.

It’s about understanding what sacred spaces are, how they function in our lives, and how they affect our relationships / marriages when we have separate sacred spaces and shared sacred spaces.

Corie defines “sacred spaces” as “significant life-changing experiences” that can be either positive or negative, that take up significant space in our life stories, and are often multi-sensory, meaning that we can remember sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches associated with the experiences. 

Shared sacred spaces strengthen marriages while separate sacred spaces in marriage, that occur frequently in military marriages, have the chance of creating divisions in marriages as the couple changes individually, grows apart, and doesn’t know how to handle each other’s sacred spaces.


Within reading the first couple of chapters, this book met a need I didn’t know I had. The concept and phrase “sacred spaces” captured the heart of the issues in our military marriage (the nature of his military career that led to time apart, changes, stressors, struggling to understand each other and communicate, etc.). Some of the hardest moments in my military marriage have been when I have cried out to my husband, “I feel like we are two separate people, living two separate lives, and I can’t take it.” At one point Corie shares in an email to her husband, “I have no words…I just don’t understand, I can’t fathom your existence there –and I hate that – exactly what I feared. How will I ever know? How will I ever be what you need for me to be when I haven’t been there?”

Like many military marriages, my husband and I have had to learn and fought hard to figure it out, and Sacred Spaces seeks to help do that for military marriages. Prior to this book, we didn’t have a name to call it or identify it which made it harder to understand what exactly this “it,” this divide, this disconnect, this thing that was affecting us so greatly. We just tried to suck it up, tell ourselves it was part of military life, and just kept trying to do the best we could. But that’s exhausting. And Corie Weather’s knows this herself, sharing how military life left her feeling exhausted and emptied at points too. She knew there was a better way but like most of us military spouses, figuring out the how was harder.

When Corie shared about “sacred spaces” and explained its application in military marriage, she gave this “thing” a name. Having a name for it made me feel like we had identified it, could tackle it, could seek to understand it, and finally figure out that how part that we were so desperately fighting for. It was like an “ah ha” moment, like a weight lifted, like a missing puzzle piece had been found. Two simple words. Sacred spaces.

Sacred Spaces came at a time when my husband and I were walking on a path to draw closer together, heal the things driving us apart, become intentional in our time together, and working hard to communicate better, and it was as though her path met ours. Shared sacred spaces. That’s where my husband and I were headed. Her words and insights on shared sacred spaces in military marriages gave me encouragement and wisdom to pursue that in my marriage – which is ultimately the challenge (and Corie has a campaign for this you can join on her website here). And let me tell you, I have the entire last chapter, which is very application based and motivational, highlighted, and I would share it with you, but you truly need to take the journey and reach the destination for yourself.


Sacred Spaces had me hooked from the very beginning as I embarked on Corie Weather’s “journey to the heart of military marriage” through her sharing of her experience overseas with our deployed troops as well her and her husband’s military experiences when he was deployed. My fellow Army wives, military spouses, family members, and even my friends who are non-military seeking to better their marriages, you need to read this book. This book will have you experiencing the “cool factor” of our husbands’ jobs, your heart beating at the intensity with which our service members live and serve, you crying over honest vulnerability as her and her husband share heart-wrenching significant moments in their lives and marriage, and your heart and marriage starting to heal in places you may not even been exactly aware of that needed healing. You will finish the book feeling enlightened, encouraged, and hopeful for healing and strengthening your marriage. Because no matter how good of a marriage you have, we all know it takes time, work, and investment, and it can always always be made better.

And one last personal note, I went through a long season of resentment, and if you’re feeling resentment creeping up in your heart regarding your spouse’s career and its affects on your life or him or your marriage, read this now. I wish I had had this book back then to help me conquer that sooner before it brought other negativity into our family that I have spent years battling.

Also, I have more to share! Please keep an eye out for part 2 of how reading Sacred Spaces has affected a non-military part of my life.

I’m going to leave you with Corie Weather’s dedication to her husband, because after reading Sacred Spaces, I’m turning her words into my prayer for my husband and military marriages everywhere:

“May this book be the beginning of actions above words, grace in imperfection, and new sacred spaces we share together.”

You can buy your copy of Sacred Spaces TODAY! Order online here.

July 18, 2016

What I Want My Sons to Know About Me


I twirled my littlest’s sweet, fine baby hair locks in my fingers and inhaled deeply. I quietly laughed to myself thinking of how it’s taken to almost his 2nd birthday for him to have long baby wisps. My two boys are growing before my eyes and both are about to turn another year older just within the next couple of weeks.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my sons view me as a mom and how they will view me as they grow older, even as adult children some day. One of my greatest desires in life is to be a good mom to them and for them to see and know this. And one of my greatest fears is somehow messing them up, failing them, and doing something to damage our parent-child relationship.

I realize that the word “good” is a loose and loaded word when describing motherhood. And while yes I want to be what my version of a “good” mom looks like, I more want to be the mom they need me to be. I want to be the mom God has intended me to be for them.

I want this so badly that I often scrutinize my own motherhood, probably too much. I analyze and reflect and pray and dream and worry and pray and pray and pray some more as I walk this role of being their mother. And at the end of every day, I know I will never be the perfect mother I want to be. And in many ways and many times, I’ve surrendered this to the Lord.

I know I fail my boys and will continue to fail them in the future. No matter how hard I try. But the Lord has so gently and graciously spoken to me on this too. That’s what He’s for. If I could be everything my boys need, if I could love them perfectly, if my love could help make them whole, if I could do it all and be it all, they would have no need for Him. What a weight lifted from my mothering shoulders and heart when I realize that God moves in my absences and weaknesses and failures.


In light of all of this thinking about my boys’ birthdays and motherhood, I thought I’d share a little about what I want them to know about me, their mom. And maybe some day I will read this to them, or they will stumble upon it and read it themselves, or more than likely, these thoughts will be ones I share with them as we navigate life as a family over the rest of our days together.

Here’s what I want them to know:

I love them fiercely.

I truly do. With ever fiber of my being. As much as I am humanly capable of loving them. I love them deeply. They are loved so. loved. by their momma and nothing will ever change that.

I am so proud of them, and I constantly marvel at them. When they succeed, when they try but fail, when they are just the unique people God created them to be. I sit in wonder as I fill with such joy and warmth.

I expect a lot from them because I want the best for them. I will be hard on them because of my expectations, because I want the best for them.

The world is a hard place, an often unforgiving place, a place where evil and pain and struggles exist, and I want them to learn how to navigate through the hard stuff with God and so sometimes that means I have to help prepare them to fight the good fight. By holding them to high expectations, making things “hard” on them, not giving them the easy way out, I hope to intentionally help shape them into people who can successfully encounter hard things, stand firm in who God made them to be, hold tight to their beliefs, and thrive in such a world.

But I want them to also know that I will always be their safe place to land.

The world can be a cruel, cold place. People can be unkind and hurtful. Things go wrong a lot. They will make mistakes. And a lot of times it won’t make sense. I will be their open arms, their biggest supporter and encourager, always their ear to listen, the place where they feel safe from judgement, and a place of love and grace as much as I am able.

I want them to know without a doubt that their momma loves Jesus. And that I love Him more than them. I know. This is hard too. One day I pray they understand that loving Him first enables me to pour His love, my love into them so they can be filled.

I want them to know that their momma is a broken person. I know, this feels strange and weird too, to be vulnerable like this with my children, but I know vulnerability creates intimate relationships and that’s what I want with them. I want them to know I am human, I sin, I am weak, and I have plenty of faults, that I’m sure they will be very aware of without my having to draw attention to them. But I want them to know their momma has broken places that shape me and that I fight to heal with Jesus.

And I want them to really see the second half to that which is that even though I am human with faults and weaknesses and broken places, Jesus makes me whole, Jesus makes me strong, Jesus heals my broken places, Jesus calls my sin out of me and asks me to turn from it and follow Him.

I want them to know I make mistakes. A lot. I want to be more to them and perfect to them and be everything they need. And they will want this from me too, I know. But I can’t be. I am human, and Jesus is those things you need.

I want them to know He will be their perfect everything. When their momma messes up, when I lose my patience, when I’m quick to anger, that Jesus shows me grace and still works in your life. He is patient when I’m impatient. He is slow to anger when I am quick. He shows grace when I don’t. He meets their every need when I’m creating the needs in them to be met.

Even though I will never be their perfect momma, this doesn’t mean that I don’t try to do my best and be the best. But walking with grace covering me, I want them to know that I am doing the best that I can with the tools that I have in any given moment, and I am forever a work in progress until Jesus is finished with His work in me.

I want them to see me not only as their mom, but as person who loves others, serves others, has talents and dreams, and lives life obeying where God calls me. This made me think of my son explaining to his little brother that I am not a construction worker, but I am a “Bible study” mom. Because right now, in his world of understanding, he sees what I do and where I go, and clearly that has a lot to do with it. And I’m already thankful for that.  Being their mom is everything, but I am also so much more than that. And I want them to know that.

Lastly, if I leave them any sort of legacy behind as their mom, I want them to know Jesus because they saw Jesus in their momma’s life. And I want them to know what it looks like to hope in Him, depend on Him, trust in Him, to be head over heels in crazy love with Him, so that they chase after Him too.

In chasing after Jesus, I want them to know it won’t be easy or safe, but it will always be worth it.


Watch me follow Him, follow along too, everything else will fall into place as He has planned for you.


If you have any living children or have dreams of having children, what do you want them to know about you as a momma? What legacy do you want to leave to your children? Leave a comment and share with me!

July 12, 2016

My Blue Bracelet & A Challenge to Intentionally Pursue Your Husband 

Marriage is hard. Marriage for military spouses can be even harder. I am so thankful for the book that Corie Weathers so bravely wrote that I am almost finished reading–I continue to feel so honored to be on her book launch team. She saw a need and filled it, with a phrase, and named her book after that phrase. Sacred Spaces.

Sacred Spaces Book Launch Team

“Sacred Spaces” refers to a multi-sensory moment that takes up significant space in your life, in your story. In marriages we need to create shared sacred spaces; relationships are strengthened by them. In military marriages (due to deployments and TDYs) spouses have separate sacred spaces, and this can create division and gaps in our marriages.

I am loving how Corie teaches and shares her heart about these sacred spaces. I love even more her heart behind her message and her desire to help military marriages succeed and help spouses be intentional by creating shared sacred spaces and loving one another.

Blue Bracelet

This blue bracelet I wear is a gift from her. She gave it to the members of her book launch team to wear (she wears one too) to remind us to intentionally pursue our spouses. She gave us a 30 day challenge. And I am loving it. Can I encourage you, milspouse or not, to take a 30 day challenge yourself to intentionally pursue your spouse?

Here are some ideas:

-Commit to praying together out loud

-Have intentional prayer time where you pray specifically for your husband (check out my board on Pinterest has for some great ways and ideas for praying over your husband)

-Commit to reading the Bible out loud together

-Make him breakfast before he goes to work every morning

-Write him a love note each day and leave in his lunch

-Kiss him every time he leaves and arrives

-Find a way to exercise together (take a class, go on a walk, do an online workout video together)

**Don’t forget this is every day for 30 days. You may need to be creative!


My soon to be 5 year old son was very inquisitive about my bracelet and you may be wondering as well how I am going to be intentionally pursuing my spouse during my 30 day challenge. Well, (cheeks blushing), ahem, I’ll just say what I said to our little boy, “Mommy is going to find a way each day to show daddy love in a very special way.” I’ll just leave it at that.

And hey, I get it, 30 days is a challenge! Especially for a milspouse who may not have 30 days together with his/her spouse. Guess what? That’s okay! This challenge is still for us! My husband will be gone on a trip for a week during my 30 days, but I can still be creative and find ways to make it work.

If you’re going to take the #sacredspaces challenge with me, will you comment and let me know? And if you can share how you’re going to pursue your spouse and let’s give each other some ideas and encouragement!

June 26, 2016

If you’ve ever struggled, this is for you.


“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

I first heard Wesley – or the “Man in Black” – utter those words in The Princess Bride over 20 years ago. As a little girl in pig tails captivated by all that was unfolding on the screen in front of me, I had no idea how true those words would prove to be. One of the best comedic movies ever, yet, quite seriously, shares a painful truth about life.

Life is pain.

Life is hard.

The struggle is real.

And doesn’t each and every one of us know it?

We all struggle. We all probably have multiple struggles. Maybe even multiple struggles in a given day.


We all have a story. We all have faced (are facing or will face) something painful. I’m constantly reminded that everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about. I’m sure by now you may have heard that saying as well. It’s true, unless someone bravely steps forward and shares their battles and their pain.

From childhood to adolescence to adulthood. There’s pain. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and pain doesn’t discriminate. That is the truth of our fallen world.

But there’s so much more to life isn’t there? We know that. We strive for that “more.” We struggle because we know there is something beyond the pain, if only we could find our way. It’s as if we can feel the world isn’t supposed to be this way. As C. S. Lewis concluded, “the most probable explanation [of this] is that we were made for another world.”

Life is pain.


Life is also… love, beauty, hope, victory, joy, wonder…. so many infinitely good things.

We see glimpses of how the world is supposed to be. We see glimpses of the life God wants for us. He gives us good things. Everything good is from Him. (James 1: 17).

But in the pain of the struggle, we are blinded from those parts of life.

We need to be reminded of them. We need to find a light that shines through the darkness to remind us of what lies beyond our current situation.

I write these words today as much for myself as I do for you.

I have struggled. I am struggling. Right now. With painful things in several relationships in my life.

I have felt pain. I’ve felt degrees of pain. I’ve felt it go straight to the depths of my soul, I’ve felt it sting, I’ve felt it numb, I’ve felt it sharp, I’ve felt it dull. I’ve been there. Multiple times. Many times.

I feel like I’ve spent nearly a decade struggling. Struggling with loss, death, grief, marital conflicts, parenting, purpose, contentment, change, and more.

I’m even struggling with struggling.


And as I have grown weary from struggling, the Lord has spoken awesome whispers to my heart. It’s in these struggles that He’s teaching me what it means to have an expectant heart.

He’s the light in my darkness reminding me about hope, about His power, how nothing is impossible for Him, how He fights for me, how He brings victory, how He never abandons me, how He brings me rest, and so much more. He’s teaching me to discern His voice over the enemy’s lies. He’s pressing on my heart to stop struggling and start trusting.

Expect Him to show up, expect His promises to be fulfilled in me, in you, in us.

So my friend, if you’re struggling or you’ve ever struggled with something or someone:

Let us separate the lies from the truth. Let us gain a kingdom perspective. (We can do this by spending time in His word.)

Let us hope. Endure. Expect. Live.


Let us live set free. (I can’t help but sing the lyrics here: “It is for freedom that I am set free”).

Let us be wild and free and live with expectant hearts together. Jesus wants this for us.

Let us remember in the dark what He taught us in the light.

Let us take our thoughts captive.

Let us remember His promises apply to us.

Let us not waver.

Let us not grow weary.

And trust me, as easy as these words are to type, I know how hard they can be to live. Like I said, I’m struggling right now. But the Lord continually, patiently, lovingly reminds me, “Be still. Let me fight for you. Stop letting all that you’re struggling with hold you captive. Seek me, hold onto the hope in my promises, listen to me, walk in my ways, I will not let you down, I will not forsake you, I have plans for you.. Just be still. Let me fight for you. Let me carry your burdens.”*

Let us lay our struggles down before Him today my friends and expect Him and trust in Him and hope in Him to take care of us.

Let me leave you with this gentle, refreshing, satisfying truth the Lord left for me this morning after a night spent struggling…

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.


*So many scripture references, not enough time – is that bad!? If you’d like to know the scripture reference I will gladly provide! I will need to go back and update when I have more time!
June 14, 2016

As Father’s Day Approaches in My Home…

My basement office is currently a mixture of chaos and organization. Strewn about the floor is a mess of plastic bags full of goodies. Behind them on the walls are clear plastic bins neatly sorted and organized, stacked full of their own goodies.

This week I will spend my spare time sorting through the chaos and assimilating it into the organized containers. I will then take the containers from their orderly places on the shelves and in piles and line them up on two folding tables. Then I will open the box of freshly made canvas tote bags and begin carefully hand-picking goodies from the assembly line of containers to fill 50 bags, one at time.

I do this the week leading up to Father’s Day, and other meaningful times throughout the year. More than likely, my husband will help with my work so that I can accomplish what I set out to do in time. We will then as family find time in the days surrounding Father’s Day to load up our van with these 50 canvas bags packed full of thoughtfully selected items, our two boys, and drive to Nashville to the Children’s Hospital where they will then be handed out by the NICU director to families when their little ones arrive in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

This is part of how we “parent” a child in heaven.

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Over 6 years ago, our daughter spent time in a NICU four hours from our home. We were there for almost two weeks with her. We had nothing more than our hospital bags packed. We were unprepared. We were so many things.

The doctors and nurses told us at any moment we could lose her. We parented her and grieved her prematurely. It was the most difficult season of my life. We lost her 36 days after she was born.

Four months after her death, I gave birth to my non-profit division Hailey’s Hope with Project Sweet Peas. This service, providing NICU families with care packages, is part of how we remember her and see the purpose of her life carried out beyond the number of days she was here with us. We knew what it was like, how scary and traumatizing and how we barely had anything we needed with us for a NICU stay, and we want to do what we can to ease that experience to families who find themselves in the same situation, so we provide them with these care packages, full of items we know they will need and want but don’t have. We want them to focus on loving their child and not worry about the little stuff. We try to take care of them a little, so they can focus on caring for their babies.

So that’s what this week will be like for us. And it’s probably the best way I can think to spend special days like this when we think of her and our hearts ache for her.

Our daughter first made me a mother and my husband a father. And when we began our journey when she made our entrance into the world, nothing went as hoped or imagined or planned. Nothing. But I can look back to the day of her birth and remember my husband vividly. He was the perfect father. Having his own story and struggles in his life with his father(s), he seemed to step into the role with a flawless ease, and especially despite the chaos around us because nothing about our becoming parents in that hospital room happened with ease.

I watched him. I’m sure I was in shock and drugs were in affect, but I remember watching him. He moved me. He was a good father, already. I’m not here to share his story of that day, that is his to share and tell, but I am here to brag on him.

In the darkest of parenting days, I know he was breaking and scared inside like I was, but he was an amazing father to our sweet, fragile, courageous little girl.

And as I prepare for yet another delivery of our care packages, I’ve lost count of how many in the past 6 years, and we near Father’s Day, I think of her, I think of him. I think of the father he was and is now to our two boys, and I am so thankful for him.

Confession: parenting is probably one of the number one sources of disagreements in our marriage, but even so, we agree on the big picture, we just have different ways of going about parenting in the details some times, and that’s okay. That’s why God created both of us to be in relationship with our children. They need each of us, and need us together. And I know how good of a dad my kids have. He loves them fiercely, he’s tender when he needs to be and firm when they need him to be.

On Father’s Day, we will celebrate him. But it’s a hard day still. One of the many days turned bittersweet.

And for me, I also think of my father, who I lost the same year we lost our daughter, in fact just two weeks after her. He was a good father. He had his share of sins and mistakes, don’t we all, but I never doubted his love for me, he continually invested in my life, and taught me a lot of important life lessons. I treasure the final years we had together and how our relationship grew and how we grew in faith together. I miss him terribly.

And so I know, for a lot of you, Father’s Day is bittersweet too. We find reasons and people to celebrate, our fathers, our husbands, our brothers, our grandparents, our friends. But we also think of the fathers in our lives who we have lost, who we miss, who maybe were never there, who disappointed us, and so on, and there’s pain there.

My prayer as we near Father’s Day is this: that we will know and celebrate our God, who is a Good, Good Father. No matter how you feel this week or on Father’s Day or on any given day, you and I have the perfect Father who created us and loves us perfectly and completely. May we know Him, love Him, and be blessed by His peace.