Book Review: Downside Up by Tracey Mitchell

“Rejection reveals, alerts, exposes, defines, confirms, and is one of the greatest motivators in life.”

This is one of the opening points Tracey Mitchell makes in her book, Downside Up: Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity. This out-of-the-box view on rejection is an example of how Mitchell takes an alternative look at the role adversity can play in life.

Mitchell relates to the reader from personal experiences in her own life and those she’s encountered. More importantly, she draws relative stories from Scripture to show that rejection is an emotional wound Christ can heal.

The end of each chapter offers a list of “Chapter Principles” to not only serve as reinforcements for Mitchell’s main points, but also as references the reader can easily access in the future. Following the chapter principles are “Words of Wisdom” which consist of Scriptures and famous quotes that relate to each chapter’s main points. Finally, building on her principles and Scripture, Mitchell offers a “Plan of Action” for the reader to directly apply to their personal life in tangible ways that will last long after this book has been read.

Downside Up, by Tracey Mitchell, is not like any other self-help book I’ve read. My pen went dry from all the notations and underlining I did throughout this book. The amount of ah-ha moments made me take this read a bit slower so I could ingest all the extraordinary points being offered.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the BookLook Bloggers. program. I was not required to give a positive review.

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You can purchase Downside Up: Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity by Tracey Mitchell here.

Pure Spiritual Milk

“Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for the nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.” 1 Peter 2: 3

My son loves to eat!

LJ EatingHe knows when he sees me holding a fresh bottle that something wonderful is about to happen. He will cry for that bottle – and, until I get it into his mouth, he is unsatisfied.

It’s amazing to me the overwhelming amount of peace and contentment that comes over his body as he begins to drink. He literally goes from a state of total meltdown to sleep the moment a bottle is put into his mouth. He relishes in getting his craving for nourishment fulfilled.

And so, I read this verse from 1 Peter with new meaning this morning…

I read it with a stark visual representation in my head of what it means to crave pure spiritual milk…

To cry for the Lord’s kindness and interaction with a fierceness that isn’t calmed until the craving has been met…

To experience instantaneous peace and contentment upon entering God’s presence.

This is what my days should be centered around. Much like my son’s daily mission is to get nourishment – mine is to find that pure spiritual milk and to not accept any substitutions.

To My Under-Appreciated Husband

Dear Husband,

I want so badly to be the wife you deserve…

A wife that greets you at the door, when you come home for work, emotionally stable with a smile on my face.

A wife who could manage our son’s doctors appointments on her own.

A wife that could spend time pouring over recipes to make you the perfect dinner each night.

A wife that didn’t nag or snap at you.

A wife who didn’t need you to immediately take our son after a long day of work.

I yearn to be a wife that is nurturing, selfless and thoughtful.

I’m humbled each day when…

You come home from work greeting me with a smile and asking about MY day as you take our son into your arms to give me a break.

You take time in the middle of your busy day to attend EVERY doctors appointment you can for our son (usually having to work extra to make up for the time.)

You make your own lunch each day and pick us up dinner every night.

You support every weight loss program I try, wake up early so I can sleep in…

…change poopy diapers while getting ready for work, don’t criticize me for wearing cut off pants, crocs and a puke stained shirt in public with you (yes it really happens), and listen patiently as I rant and rave that you aren’t being attentive to my needs (clearly not the case).

Thank you for your unconditional love.

Thank you for providing each day for our family above and beyond what we need.

Thank you for making our son laugh so hard.

Thank you for being an incredible man of God…

…and for giving me a family I never dreamed possible!

Love your incredibly grateful wife.

Learning to Cook…at 31!

I’ll be turning 32 next week – and as I look back over the last year, I’m amazed at the things I have learned through this year’s changes. Each day has brought its wins and losses that have helped to mold my “evergreen” self, but nothing could have prepared me for the following lessons I’ve learned through these major changes:

We bought a condo! – Having lived in apartments since college, the adjustment from renter to owner was large. From the moment we closed on this home, we watched the dollars in our bank account get smaller and smaller as we took on the necessary renovations to make this place our “home.” It felt like, for the first time, I was putting on my big-girl pants and taking a step into the real world of responsibility. There was no longer a handyman to call about holes in the wall or broken ceiling fans – these had to be fixed by our own two hands (with the aid of  my father-in-law and a lot of YouTube videos). I learned that it’s okay to pull carpet off the floor and not to be afraid of a large bucket of paint (despite the fact that I still can’t paint a straight line).

Grow, Grow, GrowingWe got pregnant! – Well, I think this one speaks for itself. Except for the fact that Josh and I weren’t planning on kids. At most, I was working towards convincing him we needed a dog! But along came our little guy – growing so fast inside me. This life change has created a domino effect of subsequent changes both physical and emotional. And while the lessons I am learning every day during this pregnancy continue to grow in number, the most important one is that life is ever-changing. Concrete is not an adjective that can realistically describe any person’s life. This may seem like an easy concept that everyone is fairly aware of – but it still shakes you when the solid foundation you thought you were building is torn up to create a new (and often better) one. Needless to say, we are ecstatic about our son’s arrival this December!

I quit my job! – Work was, well…my life. My days and nights revolved around it. If I wasn’t busy in the office, I was traveling for business. Both my husband and I shared our work-a-holic lifestyles. I found my identity in meeting the daily challenges I faced at work. I defined success in my professional accomplishments. I honestly thought nothing would take the devotion I had towards my vocation until I became pregnant. Immediately, I became territorial of the time others would have with my son and knew I wanted to be the one to raise him. While I feel fairly new towards caring for a newborn, I know that no one can love or care for him like I can. This major life change has taught me that we can’t tie our identities to the things of this world. I learned that  jobs will come and go, but Christ is forever and He is who my identity must be tied to. I am most grateful for this lesson because it wouldn’t have been fair to shift my identity from work to my son – he needs to be his own person and both of us will find who we are in Christ!

I learned to cook…at 31! – Don’t judge me for this. When you work as much as I did – domestic responsibilities tend to go out the window. Cooking never appealed to me – why would I work all day to come home and work more? My husband and I found many restaurants we liked and were happy with that lifestyle. But, going from two incomes to one changes how you spend your money. Additionally, with the recent change of me not working, I now have time to prepare meals that are both cheaper and healthier than eating out. I can’t say I’ve mastered this art yet – but I am working on it (again with help from family and YouTube videos). I’ve learned that you can’t have enough cooking spoons and to only make what you will eat (as opposed to cooking enough to feed an army).

I had to say “good-bye”! – I am fortunate enough to say that I’ve never lost a person close to me. However, amongst the changes of buying a new home, becoming pregnant and quitting my job – I had to say good-bye to my kitty, my buddy of 9 years who never left my side. This loss was both unexpected and massive. Losing Miracle left such a hole in my heart. Watching life seep out of an animal you have loved and cherished changes you forever. I learned that making large decisions, like when to put your animal down, are hard and mucky.

I’m not sure what this next year will bring – but I know that I will take it head on knowing it’s important to roll with the punches, trust in God and just take a deep breath from time-to-time.

In the Light

Co-authored with my dad, Reverend Philip VanDop @ CalculatedWanderings.com.

jesus-savesShe sat in my office, shoulders slumped – heavy with the weight of fear from past memories. Burdens she’d chosen to carry too many long and lonely years.

My heart broke as her life’s painful timeline unraveled through desperate, broken sentences.

Tears and exhaustion stained her face. Her heart – a well trodden battleground. Her soul – discouraged and lost in the dark.

She’d lived her life blinded by pitch black – with no light to guide her steps. She needed the light switched on, directing her path.


Why do we choose to live in darkness?

In a time in which electricity is a commodity and “light” is always a flip switch away – we consistently chose to clothe our hearts in darkness.

Driven by fear from deeply hidden secrets – we believe Satan’s whispers that hiding from the truth (light) is safe and acceptable.

Fear and hurt build up…

…secrets bang on the door of our lives, threatening to destroy us…

…vulnerability becomes a consistent worse case scenario.

We double down on poor tactics and destructive coping mechanisms which are misguided at best and outright lies at worst.

Satan, like a cock roach, lurks in the dark. Hiding under floor boards and between the cracks slithers around where we can’t see him. Shine the Light and see him, the cock roach, scatter – running towards a blackened sanctuary.

God is Light. He is the Truth that erases the shadows which seem to make our lies bigger than reality.

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

It is my hope and prayer that if you are hiding behind corrosive secrets, you realize God is here to help you heal. Nothing is beyond Him, nothing is more than He can handle. Remember His Son died so that you could be healed of the greatest hurts, the deepest secrets and the loudest criticisms. Let His light shine in all of your life so that your secrets, whatever they may be, will scatter for darker sanctuaries.

Happiness in the Final Surrender

Mary washing Christ's FootEach of us has struggles we face – they are life long, daily and even momentary.

I want to talk about that last one. The struggle you hang on to because it is your last means of coping or even your last shred of abnormal normalcy.

Let me use myself as an example. Like any other person existing in the main stream of today’s world, I had a difficult childhood. I say this not to point out that my parents were failures, in fact they were very much the opposite. But life is messy, and inevitable circumstance arose which changed the course of my emotional development from an early age. The result: a handful of dysfunctional coping mechanisms.
Looking back, it seemed as though I consistently rotated life’s battles like marbles within the grip of my palm – able to fall back on those remaining as I let go of one. This coping net became thinner as I began to surrender my life to God little by little.  And now I face the last of my unhealthy coping mechanisms – the final piece I need to surrender so that I may be fulling relying on Christ and not myself or any other idols.

Some of you may cut in order to find a release from the abounding pain inside you…

Others may eat hoping to fill those pot holes in your soul from others frequently traveling across it…

And some of you may even allow men or women to abuse your body, giving them the power to act out the darkness you feel inside your soul…

To stop these behaviors, these struggles, these last coping mechanisms would mean you are left fully relying on the intangible safety net of the Heavenly Father. You are unsure of what this will feel and look like, so you cling tightly to what you know – screaming out that you have already given up so much. But Christ did not die on the cross for us to live a mediocre life.  He did not endure the torture and abandonment of that sacrifice so that we may cling to what damages us instead of resting on His peace.

There was a poem my mom used to have on our refrigerator, that never escaped my mind:

As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
How could you be so slow?
My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never did let go.
By: Author Unknown

Remember, as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 118: 6, 9-11, 14-15 NLT:

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me…
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Though hostile nations surround me,
I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.
Yes, they surrounded and attacked me,
but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord…
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!

Guest Blog: The Masks We Wear

Growing up, insecurity and I were the closest of friends. One might say we were constant companions. I was all too familiar with insecurity’s constant need – its endless hunger for more and more and more.

Insecurity fed my fear of rejection and ultimately my fear of being unloved. You see, like many of us, I had my fair amount of experience with both of these hurtful feelings.

behind_the_mask_III_by_dinemizLike many of you, my path to adulthood wasn’t smooth. In fact, it was the opposite. So, to cope with my fear and to pacify my friend insecurity, I affixed my “mask.” You see, my mask became my greatest defense. I believed that my mask protected me – or at least I thought it did. I believed that it shielded me from hurt, judgment, and protected my vulnerabilities.

BUT the mask is a crafty thing. It’s forever changing – shifting its color, shape, wants, and desires. I can still hear the voice of my younger self agreeing to things to pacify others and laughing at jokes to please.

Sadly, much of my laughter was only skin deep and much of what I claimed to “love” I don’t think I really did. You see, it’s not that I lied or intentionally tried to be deceptive. I said what I thought others wanted to hear – which was easy because not only did the mask stop others from truly knowing me- it also stopped me from knowing myself.

That’s the danger with the mask- it slowly suffocated and isolates. Our masks and insecurities leave little room for anyone else. They leave little room for beauty, truth, and peace.

But this is not where my story ends. You see, because we have a loving Father and He loves us so much – He won’t settle for our bondage. I was a believer the entire time I wore my mask – but I never truly accepted His love and His acceptance of me.  Some of the reason I clung to my mask was because of my painful road to adulthood, and some of it was that I didn’t know how to trust Him with my flawed self. After all, how could the God of the universe truly love someone like me – when so many others hadn’t and didn’t.

So, out of love God removed my mask. I STRESS out of love, because at the time, it didn’t FEEL loving.  At the time it felt hurtful. At the time I felt truly exposed, vulnerable, and alone. It was during that time I discovered that there is strength in vulnerability, power in exposing our true selves to the light – HIS light. I realized what I was most afraid of – the world knowing that I was hurt and everything wasn’t perfect – He already knew.

I learned that my mask/ insecurity weren’t my companions – they were my enemies. You see I had built a fortress around myself to protect myself. I lived alone in that one room cell and probably would have stayed there- BUT what I was willing to settle for – true isolation- Christ wasn’t willing to accept. So, He did what any loving parent would do- He tore down my walls and showed me how beautiful life can be when we truly accept HIS love.

Insecurity keeps us so busy running from person to person or thing to thing seeking to be fed – always hungry but NEVER satisfied. And we are left weak, hungry, and alone.

Insecurity has us constantly looking around comparing ourselves to our sisters and brothers. It convinces us that we never measure up. But the truth Christ gives us- is that we are ALL beautiful in His sight. The truth is, there is beauty in our diversity and our distinct differences.

The truth is, He is the only One we need to seek approval from. He is the only One who can ever fill us full. The truth is, in this world- pain is sadly the thread that binds many of us together- we all have experiences that have left us raw, sad, or discouraged. The enemy would have you stay in that place looking to the world to fix that pain. The enemy would have you believe that “this” daily hunger is as good as it gets.

But I say, thru Jesus, you can have true healing. He will fill up the empty corners – the places no one knows about- He will bind up your broken heart and set you free so you are no longer in captivity.

The truth is, that when we compare ourselves to each other, or tear ourselves apart, we limit ourselves in so many ways. So, as I stand before you, without my mask – I ask you to look at your own. What if we tried to love one another but really only sought out to please just ONE- the only One who truly matters. SO, when insecurity comes knocking on your door – which it will and still does for me- remember that we have an ultimate Healer who can set us free, be our constant companion and truly make us Whiter Than Snow.

Jen and Guy


Guest Blogger: Jennifer Fitzgerald
(my sister) lives in Michigan with her husband, Guy Fitzgerald and two dogs – Nellie and Zoey. Jennifer is currently furthering God’s kingdom through her service as a Christian Counselor at the Christian Mission, Inc. along with working in her family business, Team Fitzgerald.