When It’s Time to Exhale: An interview with Amy Carroll about her new book with Cheri Gregory

rocking chair with blue pillow in bedroom

June 1, 2019

rocking chair with blue pillow in bedroom

Make sure to enter to win a great giveaway today at the end of this post!

Can I get a fist-bump for June, please? We made it! The space between Easter and summer always feels like one giant roller-coaster, careening towards a million deadlines and obligations. Basically, I’m just holding on with white knuckles until it’s time to exhale. And I think we made it.

That’s why I am excited to share with you a new resource from my friends Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory. They’ve written a book for the woman suffocating under the pressure of being all things to all people. I learned from both Amy and Cheri when I interned with Kathi Lipp and I recently had the privilege of interviewing Amy about their book, Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not, Love Who You Are, Live Your One Life Well.

I hope our conversation will encourage you today!

Exhale releases June 4, 2019 but is available for pre-order until then! More info here

Tell me a little bit about your ministry and the women you serve.
Cheri and I are co-hosts of Grit ‘n’ Grace, a podcast for reforming perfectionists and people pleasers as well as HSPs, Highly Sensitive People. We know our listeners because we are our listeners. Instead of hiding behind the façade of “expert,” we love telling our personal stories to show how goofy we are so that the spotlight shines on our true hero, Jesus.

Who is Exhale for?
Exhale is for the woman suffocating under the pressure of being all things to all people; of filling every unfilled spot at church, work, and home; of trying to do it all right, make decisions that benefit everyone else, and keep everyone happy.

What is the main message you hope readers will take away from Exhale?
It’s possible to move from running-on-empty to spent-and-content by learning to invest your life in soul-satisfying ways. And it’s possible to achieve all three longings of a Jesus-loving-woman’s heart: fulfilling the desires of your heart, loving your people well, and bringing glory to God. You don’t have to settle for just one or two on the list.

What was your inspiration for creating Exhale?
The pain of the women we were listening to—our friends, family and podcast listeners—was the true catalyst for Exhale. We kept hearing common themes like the exhaustion that comes from trying to be all things to all people, the emptiness an unexamined life with a schedule filled with others’ expectations, and the hurt of not feeling confident in her gifts. Lots of times women even told us it felt selfish to explore those gifts or use them! Because of our own experiences and wrestling, Cheri and I had found some solutions by moving through the process to lose who you’re not and love who you are so that you can live your one life well. We wanted to share those solutions with others!

How has Exhale impacted your own life and faith journey?
Can I confess that it’s not my natural impulse to exhale, relaxing into the true call of God in my life? Making lists, hovering over my people, and jumping in as “Action Amy” are my tendencies! But over the years, God has been teaching me to examine expectations (other’s and my own), set healthy boundaries, embrace my God-created quirks, and come close to Jesus so that He can send me out. Writing those lessons have been good for my soul because I’m living them all over again. Teaching God’s lessons to others is both wonderful and terrifying since people start to watch the way you live!

Can you share your favorite practical tool from Exhale?
Having a co-author is amazing, and I’m going to brag on Cheri here. There are lots and lots of practical tools in the book, but one that I’m using in my current season of life is one she developed. In chapter six, Cheri talks about how to stop being a “problem preventer,” otherwise known as a meddler. She has a chart that outlines the contrasts between helping and meddling. For example, helping is by invitation. Meddling is by invasion. (Ouch!) I’ve pulled that chart out over and over as I’m learning to parent adult sons. It has helped to avert so much conflict!

What advice would you give to women who don’t like their story?
One of my favorite passages that I studied for the book was the story in Matthew 15:21-28. The Canaanite woman was a woman who should have disliked her story because she had so many strikes against her. She was an outsider, a woman, and a mother with a demon-possessed child. But as I studied her story, it was those traits that likely made her so tenacious in her interaction with Jesus. Her hard circumstances made her a woman of faith, and her faith triumphed, gaining healing for her daughter from a delighted Jesus. God used her trials to train her, and He does the same for us. If we can view our trials as training for something good in us and for us, it changes our perspective.

What Bible verse encourages you most when you are walking through a challenging situation?
Psalm 103 gets me every time. Verse 2 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” and then the Psalmist lists and lists and lists the benefits God pours out on us. In hard times, I tend to start to think of God as stingy toward me, but Jesus is a feast-thrower, not a crumb-doler. He lavishly gives His benefits to us- forgiveness, redemption, renewal to name just a few—even in our hardest circumstances.

Win a free copy of Exhale!

Amy and Cheri are the real deal. I consider both of them a mentor in ministry. And because they’re awesome, they have graciously sent me a copy of Exhale to share with my community and I’d love for you to win it! To enter, just leave a reply below by answering this question:

What are you most looking forward to during the summer?

*This giveaway will be open until Saturday, June 8, 2019. The winner will be notified via email.

About the authors

Amy Carroll is a speaker, writer, and international initiatives coordinator for Proverbs 31 Ministries; the author of Breaking Up with Perfect; and a cohost for the podcast Grit ‘n’ Grace. Amy and her husband live in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Find out more at

Cheri Gregory is a frequent speaker and the coauthor, with Kathi Lipp, of You Don’t Have to Try So Hard and Overwhelmed. She’s also a contributor to the upcoming (in)courage devotional Bible for women. She lives with her family on the central California coast. Learn more at

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  1. Jatana Royster says:

    I am going to order this book if I don’t win it! Sounds like something I NEED to read!! In answer to the question, I am most looking forward to devotions and coffee on the porch in the morning, relaxing by the pool with a good book and evenings with my husband and dog on our back porch. And always look forward to spending time with family and friends!

    • Heather says:

      Yes! I’m trying REALLY hard not to dive into my giveaway copy. Exhale will definitely end up on my personal bookshelf! And the pool! Me too:)

  2. Leslie V Thaxton says:

    I’m looking forward to a slower place of life.

  3. Sunshine on my face. Don’t go far in the summer, so walking local trails…at least the ones not flooded by the Arkansas River.
    I’m not a person who meddle’s, but I do see myself in the other two points…feeling guilty about spending time to pursue a dream even when it’s God inspired.

  4. Rose Wilson says:

    My favorite thing this summer…….getting to visit and spend time with my grandchildren ! (I’m counting down…. 18 more days!)❤️

  5. Sara Merrill says:

    Just realized I basically have 2 months with my daughter until she starts back to school (Pre-K, 3 mornings/week). I love the flexibility of summer and most look forward to adventures with her over the next 2 months… swimming, playing, gardening, creating, snuggling… you know, the great kind of stuff with a 4 year old.

  6. Frances Brown says:

    I’m looking forward to beach week with my children, spouses and 8 grandchildren the end of June. Favorite time of year being with everyone and digging toes in sand and watching the waves roll in and laughter of children while splashing in the water! Especially since I just had recent heart attack and times like this are even more precious now! God is so good!

  7. Kim says:

    I am so looking forward to the kids being done with school so we can play at the pool!

  8. Andrea Ehrhart says:

    I am looking forward to taking some time for Me everyday as I have the summer off.

  9. Karen says:

    I am looking forward to God answering prayers for a new job (for my husband) and a new church home. Would love to “exhale” into those answered prayers soon.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I love the thought of exhaling into answered prayers, Karen. Joining with you in prayer right now!

  10. Candice Simmons says:

    I love having my kids home from school! I look forward to spending more time with them and having family movie nights, days at the pool, our annual 4th of July bash at my parents house, and so much more!
    This book sounds amazing! So need something like that because I don’t know when to say no in fear of upsetting someone.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Candice, I hope a copy of the book blesses you. I’m still practicing what I preach as far an empowered “no.” Thankfully, Jesus modeled saying “no” in love.

  11. Carolyn Rowley says:

    I’m one of those people that don’t know how to say “no” when it comes to helping at my church. Sometimes it’s over whelming and I get in over my head but always push on. I would like to read this book and pass on to a few others in the church. Seems like all is done by just a few of us

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I’ve got a chapter about saying “no” in a church setting. Family and church seem to be the hardest places to say no since we care so much. I hope the book is helpful!Am

      • Tammy Thomas says:

        Just a month ago, I had to say no…it felt so much like saying no to God, so difficult, yet I knew I needed to. I’ll look forward to getting and reading the book

  12. Jenny says:

    This book sounds fabulous and I love these two ladies! I’m hoping I can EXHALE and drink up some time with my Jesus

  13. Jonalee says:

    Time with my kiddos outdoors!

  14. Dianna says:

    Looking forward to celebrating 35 years of marriage with my sweetheart & friend. He has planned a trip, I don’t know where, but I know it will be great!! Also looking forward to learning more of what God wants me to do in my life, whether it be working outside the home, or being content being at home for my family and others in church related ministries.

  15. Erin Austin says:

    Looking forward to picking fresh veggies from our garden, playing outside with my two boys, and getting ready for my sister’s wedding labor day weekend.

  16. Debbie says:

    I am a church planter’s wife and I have a hard time not stepping into whatever area of ministry where help is needed. This book sounds just like what I need to Exhale. This summer I am looking forward to spending more time in God’s word and spending time with family.

  17. Ashley Woodfill says:

    I am excited to spend quality time with my family and have a lot of pool and boat days! I also love getting up early and doing the Determined bible study. I look forward to doing more studies this summer after this one as it has opened my heart to Jesus and helped me understand his life, his mission, and his love for me. ❤️

  18. Patty Chandley says:

    Slowing down a bit, pool time with the kiddos, play dates with their friends and mommies, plus special one-on-one time with my oldest while my youngest is napping.

  19. Tammy Thomas says:

    I’m seeking to embrace a season of going deeper, in the word and in things that bring me joy, instead of seeking and thriving for more, bigger, better. I connected with the tip you shared about helping and meddling (adult son). I’ve been receiving the message JUST LOVE.

  20. Elizabeth Neal says:

    I’m most looking forward to evenings at home with the kids without the homework and constant “what’s due tomorrow “. Just a slower pace.

  21. Dawn says:

    Looking forward to read more of the bible. Excited to learn and grow and become a better person for the Lord and myself.

  22. Robin says:

    I’m looking forward to time with my daughter home from college, as well as a short trip west with hubby to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We haven’t had a night away from our kids in 6 years.

    • Susan Bricker says:

      I love the message of your book Exhale! It’s so timely. I definitely feel like I’m suffocating. I can’t wait to read it! Thank you both for this wonderful post and for how you bless others by serving and honoring the Lord with your faith-filled messages! You’re a blessing.

  23. Whitney says:

    I’m looking forward to some family vacation time at the beach! I’m also glad to have a break from homeschooling. I need to buy this book if I don’t win it for sure!

  24. Lisa says:

    Hi! I am just shy of two weeks for coming home from my fourth spinal surgery (a tethered cord release from hEDS). I already feel improvements, so I am praising God for that! I would love to be well enough to get to the nearby lake with my family!

  25. Suzy Roberts says:

    Sunshine and outdoor adventures with my little family.

  26. Jackie says:

    This summer I look forward to completing the Determined study and catching up on a lot of household projects. My husband has stage 4 colon cancer and I was trying to be all things to all people and it was wearing me out! Now, I try to take it one day at a time. If I don’t win the book, I will order it because it will be an encouragement to me, I’m sure. Thank you, Heather, for your ministry.

  27. Bethany Broadwell says:

    I think these ladies have been spying on me for the past 10 years and wrote this book about my life and my feelings! 🙂 I am definitely reading this one! And it will be one of the Bible study books we do with the moms at our homeschool group! I hope this summer I can exhale and hear God speaking His word into my life. Love you, Sweet Heather!!

  28. Brittany Mancini says:

    I plan to enjoy each day with my daughter and make more memories together as a family.

  29. Angie says:

    Getting to hang with my family and have adventures in our own state.

  30. Sammantha Sans says:

    This summer I am looking forward to my flowers blooming, long walks with my puppies, and wonderful programs at my church. I love the warm weather and being able to socialize with my church family!

  31. Alice Stallings says:

    I am looking forward to spending time with grandchildren during their summer break from school.

  32. Tami says:

    I’m looking forward to spending the month of July with my mom and family at the beach. My sister is my mom’s primary caregiver throughout the year. I give my sister a respite from caregiving as often as possible. Every July I take over to give my sister a month break to relax, vacation and do whatever she desires without the responsibilities of caring for mom. Extended family come and go throughout the month to visit and enjoy the beach. It’s been a win, win, fun experience for everyone! I try really hard not be everything to everyone! I think Amy’s and Cheri’s book would help me tremendously !

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