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Posted on Feb 13, 2016 in Devotional | 0 comments

Be the Good You Want to See in the World

Be the Good You Want to See in the World

My friend Wendy has recently launched a small business to provide positive, faith-based messages. She’s screen-printing really cute t-shirts (and more), but more than that, she’s trying to spread the word about being the good you want to see in the world.

She’s asked me to be a guest blogger today. I’ve written a reflection on my years as a single woman, dealing with years of dismal Valentine’s Day “celebrations” alone. How did I, and others like me, use this time in my life to Be the Good? Check out the Be The Good Clothing Blog today to find out more!


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Posted on Jan 20, 2016 in Devotional, Love, Marriage, Spiritual Life, Wisdom | 3 comments

Marriage Mayhem

Marriage Mayhem

2016-01-20 21.15.13Marriage is hard.

I married a wonderful man. He’s sweet and kind. He helps out around the house. He changes diapers and gets up with fussy babies in the night so I can sleep. He is an excellent provider with a great sense of humor. There are times when I look at him and cannot believe how lucky I am. He would die of embarrassment if I told you all the things about him that I find attractive and exciting. I believe with all my heart that he is God’s gift to me and we are a great compliment to one another. We grew up with similar values and beliefs. We have a lot of fun together. I could go on and on about the magnitude of his magnificence.

And still I am writing that MARRIAGE IS HARD.

I love him with all my heart, but we are two very different people with very different ideas about things – trying to build a home together. We have to deal with one another every minute of every day. There is NEVER a break. There is NEVER a moment where what I do doesn’t mean something to him. There is no point in which I can say, “Well, these past four years have been fun, but I’m a little tired right now so I’m going on vacation. I’ll see you in three months.” This commitment I made is FOR LIFE. 

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Posted on Jan 15, 2016 in Devotional | 1 comment



My grandma gave me a beautifully embroidered towel when I got married. Next to a butterfly, it has the word “Believe” on it. Another friend gave me beautiful wall art that says, “Dream until your dreams come true.”2015-11-24 16.26.45

Luke 1:45 (NIV) says, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”.

You couldn’t have convinced me that this statement would ever be true, but at times in the trenches of married life with young children, I forget how much I wanted this life. How much I believed God would give it to me. I believed even though I occasionally doubted my ability to hear God’s voice. Sometimes I wondered if it was possible that I was a little crazy. Did God really say???  Or have I made this stuff up and will end up looking like a fool? But now, despite the struggles with the daily care and feeding of a family, I’m living the promise.

Looking at the Psalms, I see that David consistently begs God not to make him look like a fool, not to allow him to be ashamed for his belief. Psalm 25:2 is a great example of his prayer:  “Oh my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.”  And God made sure David, the greatest king Israel ever had, was not ashamed.

Psalm 130 (AMPC) says, “Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!… Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; who satisfies your mouth with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!… Bless the Lord, oh my soul!”

The benefits of serving the Lord are that He dignifies us, rather than shaming us. He satisfies our desires and gives us the energy to enjoy them at the time when they are appropriate.

Hebrews 11 is a soaring list of those who had faith that God would do what He said He would do. It isn’t a list of perfect people, but of those who chose to believe and received their reward.

When God speaks to our hearts, it’s easy to dismiss His voice as our own strange ideas. It’s easy to think we’ve allowed our imagination to run amok again. How could God expect us to defy our own logic to be obedient to Him?

There have been times in my life when I believed God said something to me that did not pan out. Every time I’ve believed, I’ve not been rewarded with the outcome I expected. I recall one particularly embarrassing point in which I believed God called me to marry a man who turned out to be a fraud – immoral, unreliable, and deceptive. Hmmm… that may actually be more than once? Sigh… It can be hard to know the difference between our own desires (which can make us vulnerable and weak) and the mighty voice of God.

But God knew my heart. He knew why I wanted to believe my ideas were from Him. He knew I wanted to do the right thing but was inexperienced and naive, and I was eventually rewarded. Today I’m married to a moral, reliable, honest man who loves God with all his heart. He’s not flashy or the “big deal” kind of a man I’d always been attracted to, but even better: he is the REAL deal. And he’s become a very big deal to three people who adore him.

God knew my heart and kept me from going after a lie. I believed incorrectly, but I was protected from myself. That incorrect belief was a very humbling experience. Since then, I’m very cautious about what I call “God’s leading.” But when my God does lead, it is a powerful and beautiful thing, often far beyond my own ideas or considerations.

In Luke 1:45, Elisabeth speaks prophetically to Mary. She encourages this frightened and excited, unmarried teenage girl, sharing the revelation God has given her about the life in her womb. Mary was visited by an angel – oh, to have that blessing – but she had to make a choice to believe the words that didn’t make sense to her. She knew there was no way she could have a child within her, but when the angel told her what would happen, she conceded. She didn’t argue or protest. She didn’t tell the angel her parents and betrothed would be horrified. She simply accepted the awkward blessing and trusted that God would work the rest of it out.

I like the idea of Mary, concerned for what’s to come but also excited. I think that’s how I’ve felt in the past when God has spoken to me. I’ve felt shocked, but with an undeniable twinge of wonder and excitement.

Don’t be afraid to believe the Lord. Don’t be afraid to trust in His goodness toward you. Even if you believe incorrectly (and aren’t wallowing in unrepentant sin), God will see your heart and guide you. Fix your eyes on Him, ignore the wind and the waves, and you will be rewarded.

In recent years, God has spoken to me a few times about my future. I’ve tried to take the posture of Mary – obedient even when I don’t understand, trusting God to work out the things that seem to be problematic, pondering the idea quietly and seeking godly counsel from those I trust. God spoke to me specifically about marrying Rick, a moment with Him that I treasure. But there was once a situation where what God said to me didn’t work out, despite my best efforts to walk obediently into His calling.

I humbled myself and moved forward into something I didn’t understand, accepting that God knew better than me and would take care of the details. When I found out that it wasn’t going to work out, I was devastated. I mourned for a day because I had so thoroughly believed something that wasn’t of God. It caused me to question many things I’ve built my life on because I was sure I’d heard God’s voice. What if it was just coincidence and I had made a big mess of things? What if I’d brought dishonor to God?

As the sun set that day, God’s voice broke powerfully into my spirit, commanding me to “Get up and get a pen!” I obeyed, feeling ridiculous. But as I began to write the words that were bursting into my heart, my pen formed words that I knew must be from God. His voice was powerful and assuring, that He had indeed spoken to me and He was pleased with my obedience into the face of something I didn’t understand.

God had provided an opportunity for healing and restoration to come to His people and they rejected the gift. I felt rejected, but God was the one who was rejected. The Holy Spirit is gentle and offers gifts, not forcing them on anyone. When the gift is rejected by one, God will offer it to another. There’s no shame for the one who bears the gift in obedience to God. The one who rejects the Holy Spirit will find their soul dry and lacking comfort. God is saddened when His Spirit is rejected, but not deterred.

Remember the conversation Mordecai had with his niece Esther? He told her that it was possible God had made her queen for this exact time, and if she failed to do her part God would raise up another redeemer for Israel. But at what cost to her for neglecting the job God had given her? (Esther 4) When humans do not follow the plan of God, God finds another way to accomplish His will.

2015-11-27 02.01.32In the face of that disappointment, my resolve to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all circumstances remained unchanged. I chose to forgive and prayed that God would set free the hearts of those who had made the decision. I became excited about whatever God had for me next. He’s a good, good Father, and He gives good gifts. He blesses those who believe His word. He does not allow them to be ashamed, but dignifies them.

Learning to hear the voice of God isn’t something that’s come easy to me, and in truth we won’t know with total certainty what was God’s leading until we are able to see Him face to face. But as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, let us go forward boldly, knowing that God sees our hearts, rewards those who desire to please Him, and is perfectly capable of making a way where there seems to be no way. 

What are you believing God to do for you today? 

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Posted on Jan 2, 2015 in Devotional, Parenting | 5 comments

Her First Prayer

Her First Prayer

Her blonde pigtails curl up at the ends and she reaches her hand up to brush her bangs out of her face.  It’s one of my favorite things she does these days.  I ask her if she wants a clip to keep her hair back and she refuses, pushing it out of her eyes again.

She’s started doing this prancy-walk when she’s happy, her arms flapping out at her sides like she’s about to take flight.  She’s so much steadier on her feet these days, this two-year old daughter of mine.  I wish I could bottle up this time in her life and keep it in a jar, able to revisit it in the future.  Instead, I take a lot of pictures and videos, wanting so much to preserve the memories.

Some day she will have lost that baby cuteness, the sweet little dimples in her elbows and the unrestrained way she loves to run around naked after her bath.  Some day she may even look at me with fierce anger and tell me she hates me, mad that I won’t let her do some destructive thing she thinks will be fun.

I want to remember these days when she runs to me with her arms out, so happy to see me again.  The days when she giggles with her hand in front of her mouth and her head back, the days when she hugs her brother tightly and helps him stop crying when I have to walk away for a minute – these days are sweet, sweet, sweet.

Today she prayed out loud for the first time.  Her daddy spontaneously asked her at lunch if she’d like to pray for the meal.  She did.  He got her started, and with her head bowed very low, she seriously and reverently prayed for the people she loves.  Her little hands were folded, chubby fingers intertwined on the edge of the table, and I thought my heart my burst with joy.

Her sweetness overwhelms me, makes me think this growing up thing might not be so bad.

Tears sprang to my eyes at the holiness of that moment.  I felt God sitting at the table with us.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

Oh, how I pray that my children will grow up to love and revere Jehovah.  Every day of their lives I pray over them, calling forth the gifts of the Holy Spirit in them.  I sing over them, prayers and testimonies of God’s faithfulness.  We take them to church, praising Jesus together.  We try to model faithful living, planting seeds deep inside them in the hopes that they will grow and become a harvest of godliness.

To see the very first shoot spring up from the ground – that beautiful prayer – has overshadowed my day with thankfulness.

I had a dream about her before she was born.  I dreamed she was in heaven, playing happily and peacefully with other children.  God sat on His throne close by and called her over to Him, called her by name.


He whispered in her ear, letting her know that her parents were very eager to meet her.  He told her it was earlier than He’d planned to send her to us, but we had prayed for her so earnestly that He was inclined to answer our prayers sooner than expected.  He told her it was up to her.  She could stay there in heaven with Him a little while longer if she wanted.

She told Him she was ready to go and would be happy to be sent to us early.

In my dream, I was aware of the sacrifice she was making – leaving perfection and joy to come to earth to be with us, to agree to allow the pain of living on earth to come to her early so that she could do what her Father wanted.

And so He released her to us, four short months after we said, “I do.”

It was a beautiful dream.  I was newly pregnant and thought I was having a boy.  When she was born, the dream came back to me fresh and I wept with joy.

Eliana Rose, my God has answered with a beautiful flower.

Such sweetness is almost too much to bear.  Before I go overboard with my idealization, she’s sure to look at me defiantly and tell me to “stop it”.  My little sweet one has an independent, stubborn streak that goes beyond normal 2-year old shenanigans.

But that stubborn little girl is learning to love Jesus.  My heart is full.

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Posted on Nov 10, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Marriage, Parenting | 14 comments

Goals for Motherhood

Goals for Motherhood

I used to scream at my family a lot.  Frustration and anger overwhelmed me and I made sure everyone heard it.  I was just a kid though.  When I was an older teen, I became convicted of my bad behavior and prayed desperately for God to help me change.

Overnight God answered my prayer.  I stopped screaming and instead became very, very quiet when I got angry.  In nearly 20 years I can only think of one time that I screamed at a family member, and that was when I was on a diet and very hungry.

Then I got married.  Learning to live together and dealing with a significant amount of change in my life caused me to temporarily forget my resolve.  Screaming makes me really not like myself though, and I didn’t want my new husband to regret marrying me.  I stopped again.  No more yelling.

Then I had kids.  Sleep-deprivation and the pull of these precious children is a constant part of my life.  Dealing with a strong-willed toddler is a never-ending battle.  And let me take a moment to admit that I’m unsure about the best way to parent her, so my uncertainty probably doesn’t help.  I’m working on that.

The other morning we were trying to get ready for church and it was not going well.  We needed to be there early because I was singing a special, but despite laying everything out the night before, getting up super-early, and being as prepared as I could think to be, we were running late.  I’d actually fixed my hair for once and had makeup on, but I was sweating and about to ruin all my hard work.  We should’ve walked out the door five minutes earlier, but Rick had some last-minute delay and I hadn’t even had time to run through the song that morning.

Eliana wasn’t listening to her daddy and ran away as we were finally trying to get in the car.  My frustration was through the roof, thinking of how unprofessional it was to show up late when I needed to do a sound check and make it to the pre-worship meeting.  Eliana received the brunt of my frustration as I opened my mouth and made sure wherever she had run off to, she HEARD me call her back.  My voice rose to new levels as I screamed at her to get back here.  She’d never heard me yell like that and I achieved my goal as she ran into the room with a startled look on her face.

Immediately I regretted it.  That look on her face crushed me inside.  I switched gears fast, praising her for coming when I called and reminding her to come when mommy or daddy call.  Still shocked, she obediently nodded at me and got in the car.

I’d screamed so loud that my throat was sore and gravelly – right before I was supposed to sing.  Nice.

I shocked Rick too.  He couldn’t believe I’d yelled at our daughter like that.  I wanted to sob.  I explained to him how important it is for me to be on time when I’m responsible for something and others are waiting on me.  I apologized for yelling and told him I know that’s not the right way to handle my frustration.

Eliana moved on quickly and was happily chattering away in the back, but I felt awful.  I kept thinking about the words to the song I was about to sing, blessing the name of God, in contrast to my angry outburst.  [Big sigh.]

I spent the morning apologizing to Eliana, hugging her, and trying to make up for it.  I begged God for forgiveness as I drank hot beverages to try to soothe my throat.  I felt the sting of what I’d done as I tried to deliver a smooth, beautiful song in spite of my scratchy vocal chords.

As a result of my outburst, I started working on a list of goals for motherhood.  I’m sure the list will be grow and change as the children grow and change, as I grow and change.  But here’s the first draft.

  1. Speak quietly and calmly, responding to situations rather than reacting. If I do react negatively, calm myself quickly and apologize.
  2. Read the Bible regularly and pray.  Keeping my eyes on Jesus helps me to meet my other goals.
  3. Greet my children with a smile – even if it’s in the middle of the night and I’m exhausted and they haven’t been sleeping. Let them know they light up my life!
  4. Kiss my children and tell them I love them when they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed. Kiss them many other times throughout the day too.
  5. Love their daddy and let them see it. Tell him I love him in front of them, and let them see my love for him in my eyes and actions.
  6. Speak highly of their daddy to my children. Tell them how handsome, successful, wise, and strong he is.  Tell them they should be like him if they can.
  7. Take care of myself – go to the bathroom when I need to (seriously), brush my teeth, eat healthy meals, exercise, shower, etc.  Don’t let the everyday needs of the children keep me from taking care of MY everyday needs.
  8. Speak highly of our family:  grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to my children. Facilitate a love-relationship between them. They need all the love they can get.  Who else will take care of them if I’m not around?
  9. Encourage my children to be one another’s best friends. Teach them to work out problems and be kind.  Deal with fighting and meanness swiftly and strongly.
  10. Keep it simple. When they get new toys, put away an equal number of old toys.  Give away or sell extras.  Don’t let a bunch of crap accumulate and junk everything up.  Rotate toys and books out of circulation and bring them back later. This keeps the mess at bay and keeps things interesting for them.

That’s what I have for now.  I know it sounds a little nuts to make it a goal to go to the bathroom, but you wouldn’t believe how busy you get as a mom.  You can forget that your child won’t suffer if you put him or her down for a few minutes and let them fuss so you don’t overtax your bladder!  And even my children appreciate it when I don’t take time to brush my teeth and put on some deodorant!

I’d love to hear your goals for motherhood/parenting!  What do you struggle with?  Share them in the comments section below.  Maybe it’ll inspire me to modify my list.

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Posted on Oct 10, 2014 in Devotional, Love, Marriage | 2 comments

The Secret of the Successful Marriage?

The Secret of the Successful Marriage?


She was lovely – younger than her years with a glowing complexion, athletic build, and stylish outfit.  Her smile was warm and genuine.  But she was troubled.  I was on staff as the church’s women’s pastor and although I was significantly younger than her and never married, she shared her heart with me.  She’d been married a long time.  She’d raised a family, been active with her husband in church, and trusted the life they’d built together.  Her world was rocked when she discovered he’d betrayed their covenant.  Reconciliation was not possible.  It was beyond shocking – to her, her children, and the community.

Several years had passed since the divorce and she had done some hard work to heal her torn and battered soul.  She had taken the tatters that remained and allowed God to stitch her life into something beautiful.  She became a minister to others. A broken healer.

She wanted to know if she might marry again, find that something she’d been missing all her life.  She longed for a companion to share her golden years with.  As we spoke about it, she said something that has stuck with me ever since.  It was one of those nuggets that I wanted seared into my brain.  I never want to forget her words.

Her marriage had not been perfect.  It had, in fact, been wrought with pain and disappointment.  She shared a few painful details, ways he’d hurt her beyond imagination in their younger years.  As I heard her tales, I thought about how the person you commit your life to has such power to cause pain, to destroy confidence, to emotionally crush.

I wondered aloud how a person can continue to open themselves up to someone whose insecurities can cause so much burning pain. 

She told me she’d shut down.  She’d made a decision to maintain some emotional safety while continuing to go through the motions of a life together.  Cruel words had driven her into the shadows of their marriage, withdrawing and building walls around her heart.

But that hadn’t kept her safe.  She’d dreamed he would notice the distance and pursue her heart; try to make it right.  He didn’t.  He responded to her retreat by retreating further from her.  His distance led to even more distance from her.  At the end of their marriage they’d become little more than mildly combative roommates.  As an objective outsider I could see that the whole mess was caused by fear.

She quietly choked out the words:  “He deserved my withdrawal, but I think I should’ve found a way to forgive him and move past it.”

I was stunned by her humility.

I’ve never forgotten it

As I move closer to my third year of marriage, I can tell you that even if you marry the nicest, kindest, most giving person in the world – that person will still hurt you.  It’s most often unintentional, but when you allow someone that close to your heart, the pressure can become so great that it becomes pain.  Rick and I have hurt one another.  Even with the best of intentions.  Often with eyes wide in shock that the other person reacts in such a way to what we have said or done.  And a few times we may have even caused a little pain on purpose.

I can be sensitive and emotional.  He can say things that are insensitive.  I can be sharp and demanding.  He can be naïve and critical.  We are far from perfect.  There have been times when I’ve battled my emotions, feeling my spirit try to curl up into a tight ball inside, trying to protect the tender places.

Her words have come back to me.
            Find a way to move past it.  Forgive, forgive, forgive. 

Not only forgive, but force the tight ball to uncurl.  Go so far as to expose the tender places again, knowing you may feel searing pain again.

Expose them anyway.

I’ve struggled with that concept.  What do I do with the pain, Lord?  And what do I do if it happens again and again and again?  Is there a limit?

God answered me:
Give it to ME.
I’m your protector.
If you hide your heart in Mine, I will keep your heart safe.
I will heal you.

Has God allowed those tender places to be exposed because He needs me to toughen up?  Maybe He has things for me to do outside this home and family that I can’t handle if I don’t build some muscle where the soft belly of need currently is.

I don’t know the answer, but I’m trying to figure it out.

I suspect that the most successful marriages are the ones where people decide to stay open, to keep their tender places exposed, to risk the pain.  The most successful couples pursue one another when the other draws away.  They challenge their fear and intentionally seek out the love they want from their spouse.

Happy MarriageHere’s the question that drives the point home for me:
            What does curling up inside accomplish anyway? 

In my mind I see the lovely woman who lost her dreams and is finding herself again.  How many times would she have had to forgive her husband and try again?  Possibly hundreds, thousands even.

He may have changed as a result of her example and cherished her more for it.

He may have had an affair anyway.

Even if he had thrown her love away, the end could have been the same.  God was waiting ~ either way ~ to stitch her back together again into something exquisitely beautiful.  

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