Monday, August 30, 2010


Every time I take the time to start reading some blogs on the web, my heart is ministered to. There are some amazing people out there sharing some personal and thought-provoking things that God has taught them. Often, it’s exactly what I need to hear.

Sometimes I just feel stuck. Maybe it’s that I need to be inspired or motivated in some way because I’ve been feeling “blah.” Or maybe my heart is feeling some deep thoughts and convictions about something and I’m just needing a “word” from God – which He often sends me through His people. Maybe I’m feeling alone or blue. Whatever the emotion, it can be easy to stay in it for awhile if someone else doesn’t move you on out of it. I love blogs for that.

Here are a few blogs that have touched my heart lately with their honesty, insight, and faith. I hope you'll take a minute to stop by and let God speak personally to you through His people.

Sarah Markley - Sarah is so honest in her posts. She has an amazing way of speaking candidly about something and making it look and feel beautiful. I'm excited, because Sarah is going to start adding her words to my newsletter this Fall.

Baby Bangs - I have been following Amanda's blog for a couple of years now. Amanda is so descriptive. She has a flair for making me see, feel, and smell what she is talking about. Her heart beats passionately for the Lord and I love just walking daily through life with her as she strives for the same things I strive for - to be a Godly wife, mom, and to let God use and work through you at the same time.

The Journey - Katie is an amazing young woman. She lives in Uganda after visiting in 2007 and being irreparably touched by all of the homeless children. Katie has started a child-sponsorship program and personally adopted numerous children herself.

Without Wax - I'm fairly new in following Pete's blog, but I've been following him on twitter for awhile. I love his "shoot it to you straight" approach. This is a man who truly loves God and his family.

Heart to Heart With Holley - Holley has some amazingly deep posts - all said with amazingly short words. They get to your heart and really cause you to stop, ponder, and think about things.

In The Name of Love - I love Bianca. She is a kindred soul with a passion to walk the walk.

I love how God uses different personalities, characteristics, and life experiences to touch other people's lives. I love how people allow themselves to have a ministry simply by being authentic and genuine.

They've impacted my heart many times and I just wanted to give them a small "Shout Out" today and thank them for being who they are and letting us catch a glimpse of that. God has called each one of them in various ways and they bless me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes There Just Isn't Balance

Between listening to a certain podcast and reading a blog and watching a Christian video segment – several things came to my mind regarding the subject of our lives, trying to maintain balance, and our dreams.

The more I hear leaders speak on this subject and the more I have my own personal experiences in life, the more I’m starting to think that we have it all wrong.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think most people try to pursue their dreams in life. Most people try to maintain a sense of balance in their lives. But what if those things shouldn’t be our focus at all? What if God doesn’t want us to stay in balance? And what if our dreams aren’t HIS dreams for us?

If it’s one thing I’ve learned, I’ve learned that my God is creative. He is so awesome. He loves to catch me by surprise and throw a curveball at me. It’s how He gets my attention. I think God is exceptionally gifted with tipping me off-balance. I think He works best with people when they don’t feel like they have control of their lives because it is then, that we seem to look for something deeper and something more meaningful! It is then, that we often look to God Himself and we open ourselves up to the impossible. We let Him show us that we can truly attempt the wacky, the “out there” and the far-reaching things. Something we never would have considered had we been going on our merry little way, juggling all the balls in our life with great finesse and aptitude!

I think God is the ultimate dreamer. I think He has the most adventurous and elaborate plans for us – things we’d never attempt or begin to dream on our own.

I think if we can begin to understand that we can’t control our lives, we then begin to open ourselves to the possibility of God reaching us with His ideas for us. Sometimes that can be scary – especially for those of us who are control freaks! But it really is freeing because it takes the responsibility off of our own shoulders and places it on God’s…where it really belongs in the first place.

We need to get to a place where we can welcome interruption. Interruption in our day, in our week, in our life, and yes, in our plans. We need to be able to let the laundry go, let the planned “quiet time” go and see what God has in mind for us instead because so often He comes to us in the thing we least expected. I believe God wants us to care for our families, but I really don’t believe that He puts great importance on the laundry, the dishes, or the dusting. It’s the heart of who we are and what we are doing for our family that matters the most. So if He brings something along and those things don’t get done…so be it! Focus on what He has called you to do instead. That may be to help a friend, devote extra time to your children, or get involved in a ministry that calls you away from home more often. Sometimes there just isn’t balance. But there’s God in the midst of our life.

So, I’m learning not to “freak out” when a cyclone comes into my home and life and stirs everything up. I’m learning that oftentimes, there are lessons and growth to be learned through those times and that God can be throwing me off-balance so that I don’t get so smooth doing things on my own that I don’t need Him or desire Him anymore.

Balance can be beneficial in our lives. Dreams can give us purpose. But hold them with open hands because God may want to stir the pot and change things up a bit. God may want to tip that scale and let us feel off-balance so that He can take us on a better ride than the one we’d planned. And it will be the ride of a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letting Cobwebs Gather

I was dusting today. As I was going around my house getting rid of the dust that had accumulated, I happened to look up. I saw the nastiest set of cobwebs by a speaker hanging from our ceiling. It had obviously been neglected for a while!

I started looking up around my home and noticed several corners and edges up high that had cobwebs. Maybe not as bad as the first one I noticed, but cobwebs nonetheless. And it occurred to me how often I go about dusting my home and forget to look up. So the cobwebs can grow and accumulate up above my head.

The same is true of our lives. A lot of times we tend to the things we see right in front of us. We think everything is clean and that we are sitting pretty. But we forget to look in the corners and nooks tucked out of our line of vision. Those areas of our lives that are gathering cobwebs.

Maybe it’s an area of bitterness that we haven’t dealt with because it’s not currently bothering us. Maybe it’s the loss of something that we’ve failed to grieve or a hurt that we set on a shelf. Sometimes those things that are gaining cobwebs in our lives are the very things that are keeping us from feeling whole. We wander around wondering what is missing and why we can’t move forward. It’s because there are cobwebs that are taking up residence in our lives.

Just as in a home – every area of our heart and soul needs to be dusted off and cleaned. We can’t expect things to heal themselves. We can hope for everything to feel “good as new” but it won’t. Not without some attention from us.

Is it time that you got out that dust rag or feather duster and cleaned off some corners of your heart? Do you need to look at some things that you’ve buried deep inside – things that have grown cobwebs?

We think things stay back in the past when we move on with life but they don’t. They come with us. They reside in us.

In order to be whole as a woman, as a mother, and as a wife – we need to pay attention to every area of our lives. We need to deal with the “junk” even though (just like dusting) it’s not fun. Once we do? We’ll wonder how we ever could have let that spot get so neglected.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Putting Things Off

Good intentions. They only carry you so far. In fact, I’d venture to say they don’t carry you anywhere unless you actually put action behind the thought.

Why is it that so many of us have good intentions and we never carry them out?

…..We really want to take that vacation….

….We’ll visit that family member or loved one “some day”…..

…..One day we’ll go on a missions trip….

….”When” we save just enough money we’ll do ‘such and such’

…..We’ll call that sweet friend sometime to get together

…..We’ll send someone a note or email just to let them know how much they mean to us – but we keep forgetting…

Good intentions.

Good intentions pretty much limit us in life. I “meant” to do this or I was “going” to do that. It’s all worthless, in my opinion. Why? Because whatever “it” is? It didn’t mean enough to us to actually apply ourselves and go for it! Sure – some things are less achievable and attainable than other things. Finances certainly limit goals in life as do jobs and commitments. But…and this is a big but….I’ve discovered that if there is really a passionate will for something – God WILL provide the way. Sometimes we just don’t step out in faith to let Him show us what He can do. Other times we don’t let Him work in us and through us to show others what He can do!

There are so many things to regret in life. Too many. What would happen if we simply went for “it” more often? Would we have less money in our savings account? Probably. Would we have less privacy and alone time? Maybe. Would we be put outside of our comfort zone and tested more often? More than likely. But we’d also have more adventures – new friends – deeper blessings – and I believe God will show us more of Himself.

Good intentions don’t make for deeper character. They don’t make lasting impact on others’ lives. They only make us feel a little less guilty about what we haven’t done.

Let’s make a pledge today to stop putting things off. We can each start applying ourselves and taking advantage of the passions God has put inside of us. Let’s invest of ourselves in the world a little bit more and a lot more often so that no one else can say – “they always ‘meant’ to do that.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Children Need More Mothers

The lost art of motherhood. I hate what I see is happening to it.

Being a mom is one of the most priceless gifts I have been given. Yet, I see a significant increase in the “devaluing” of this role. Women are encouraged to go out and be all they can be. Yes, they are told they can be a mom too, but being a mom is not given the priority. The “all they can be” is given the priority.

I’ve seen the way a mom is portrayed in television change over the years too. Mrs. Beaver is now laughed at when she used to be admired and epitomized. And yet I have to wonder if our homes aren’t seeing what price we are paying for the lack of “Mrs. Beavers” being in them!

Children are constantly being asked what they want to be when they grow up. Little girls especially, are not encouraged to simply want to be a wife and mom. They are expected and guided to college and career choices. I ask you, what is wrong with simply wanting to be a mom? More than that – why isn’t it encouraged?

Our children need more mothers. Not just women who are moms – but mothers. Women who are wanting to be in the home, wanting to be a mom, wanting to nurture and care for their own children. Our children need more mothers who think less of their own social lives and more of their time invested in their children’s. Our children need moms who are there to hold them when they cry, laugh with them, cook for them, and tuck them into bed. They need moms who are at home to talk to them about puberty and menstruation instead of leaving it up to the schools. They need moms who tell them how to treat other girls and how to live moral lives.

Our children need less daycare, less career women, less “latchkey” time in the home, and less bouncing from one parent to the other. They need homes intact and mothers focused on raising them right. We need mothers who are willing to say “no” so that a child has discipline, boundaries, respect, and structure incorporated into their lives.

Yes, of course there are women who have to work. Some, God has even called to their fields. Yes, of course there are women who are divorced or single mothers who wish they were not in the situation they were in. Yes, of course there are moms out there who have regrets. But on the whole, our society needs more women to turn their hearts towards home. Turn their hearts toward their children and their families. Not just in duty, but in love.

Our children need us. They need us to be mothers. They don’t need us to be really great at our job so we can get ahead in our field. They don’t need us to have lots of friends. They need US, in the home being a mother.

That’s really what it comes down to.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

Have you ever noticed how it seems like just when you think you’ll get to relax, take a few days off, or get a break from the busyness in life…that something happens to spin your world? Why is it that those life-changing, tragic, or big events always seems to happen at the very time when you were going to be able to catch a break for yourself?

I used to get frustrated. I would think…”I’ll never get to sleep again.” Or “It figures.” Just when you think you can take care of yourself a little bit, Satan goes and ruins it – stressing you out further.

That was the old me.

The new me has decided that God plans it this way.

I’ve decided that it is God who clears my calendar and schedule. He frees me up knowing in advance that I’m going to be needed, or that I will need those free days to take care of whatever “event” will unfold. It has totally changed my perspective on things. Instead of feeling more frazzled and burned out because I’ve got just one more thing (and usually an emotionally draining ‘thing’) to add; I feel readier to swing into motion to take care of whatever needs taken care of at that moment in time. If it’s a friend or family member who needs me – they have all of me because my schedule is free for that time period. If it’s something that happens in my own life – then I have the time to deal with it.

Yes – I’ve decided that God clears our schedule ahead of time sometimes. He is so perfect in that way. He perfectly crafts it so that all of our attention can be focused on that one “issue.”

And I love Him for it.

Sometimes life throws us those curve balls. We weren’t planning on spending our vacation helping a needy friend. We didn’t intend on using our day off going to get estimates on a car that was wrecked. We can feel tired and spent. And yet how wonderful is our God to perfectly time things on occasion where we have the free hours to devote to what has come up?

His plans are always better than mine.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ya Gotta Have More Than Beauty

We live in an image-conscious and beauty-driven society. Botox, face lifts, youth, and being “sexy” are elevated to important and valued levels. If you aren’t beautiful, you are ignored.

Well – that’s what society seems to be telling us, anyways.

What happens, though, when we turn – say 70? What happens when a car accident leaves us scarred or we face an illness that causes us to lose our hair or stutter? What happens when we don’t have our beauty? Are we valued? Are we important? Can we find meaning and fulfillment?

Yes. That is why it is so important to invest in things that matter and things that will last.

Beauty will not last. God tells us that it is fleeting. And so it is. Investing in others and giving our lives over to impacting the lives of people…that lasts. And the thing is, that often when you are blessing someone else by your gifts of time or love, you add beauty to their lives which in turn, makes you feel beautiful.

You see – God knows that we as women want and need to feel beautiful. But there are ways to feel and find that beauty inside, which in turn makes us feel beautiful on the outside. Beauty can be found in weathered old hands that have made many a meal for you out of love. Beauty is worn. It is more than an outward appearance. It is something we can carry with us and wear, because of who we are as people!

Our lives need to be about something deeper and more meaningful than just appearance. Because appearance only lasts for so long. You can fight against it but one day, it will be lost. What will you be left with then if that is all you have focused on? All that you thought you were?

We are not shells. We are souls. Our souls are beautiful – much more so than any hairstyle, lipstick color, or bosom. Those things can’t love someone, they can’t cry with someone or change a life for the better. They are only the shell of what resides inside of us. True beauty.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hoping You'll Like Me

I went into my writing ministry kind of naively. I thought that everyone would know my heart when I wrote. That people would understand and “get” me. I was so wrong.

I love writing and ministering to others. Don’t get me wrong. But there is a dark side to putting your thoughts and feelings out there all of the time. Not everyone sees your heart. In fact, you are judged quite often. I guess that’s the price we pay for being so public, at times.

I find it ironic that for every person who loves what I’ve written and has been encouraged by it, there will be another person who hates it and will have venomous things to say about it. I’ve been lucky in the fact that I have never gotten many hate emails or comments. But others I work with online, have. And in fact, I think the more people discover and like what you have to say – the more it opens up room for others to come in and be mean and hurtful. People feel they have a right to criticize you.

When you write from your heart, as I do, it’s easy to take things personally. People can so easily misinterpret your intent. They can think all sorts of things – that you are conceited and think you are better than them, that you have all sorts of self-esteem issues, or many other things. When simply, you are being open on your journey of life and faith. Sometimes an article simply comes out of a moment. One moment in time. It’s not always an all-encompassing-carry-everywhere-with-you thing!

For me, there is so much that is public about me online. You can find all sorts of articles and networking opportunities where I participate. And yet I’ve found that when I’ve sought out more private and personal venues online, those can get compromised as well. I sometimes understand what a celebrity must feel like. (Not that I’m even coming close to comparing myself to a celebrity!) But for the first time in my life, I think I know a small portion of how they must feel. They give so much of their lives publicly, that they must just want a small reserve somewhere just for them and those they trust. And yet cameras, gossip mags, etc infiltrate those as well and think they have a right to them.

I will say that what we do in private should match up to what we say and how we act in public. But I also believe that we have the right to make mistakes and actually, should be free to make and learn from them just like the rest of the world. Sometimes maybe we write something out of passion and later regret it. Hopefully we learn from those times. In other instances maybe people think we’re a perfect mom if we write about parenting, or that we should be the ideal Christian if we write about our faith all of the time. We are not given the freedom to be human.

So why do we do what we do? I cannot speak for others who write blogs, twitter, or have online websites and ministries. I can only speak for myself. And for me – I do what I do because for this season of my life – I feel like it’s how God is choosing to use me. Whether it’s for others or simply for Him to teach me some things personally – I don’t know. Hopefully, both.

I know that I’ve learned so much since I first began. I’ve learned that what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger. And sometimes when you get too pleased with compliments, you are quickly humbled. I’ve learned that if I ever feel too big, Satan can so easily make me feel small. And that nothing comes easily. Things are constantly shifting and changing.

I love people. I always have. They fascinate me. And I’m so thankful that I feel I can do something to inspire others – sometimes from my own hard-earned lessons, other times from my joys.

I can’t own what other people think of me. And that’s hard – but it’s a lesson I’m learning. But, I can’t make others like me or understand my heart, pure intentions, and where I’m coming from. I can only speak what I feel and leave the rest up to God. If anyone can deliver it the right way, He can.

I do hope though – that somewhere along the way, people will decide to like me and remember that I hurt just like they do. I laugh just like they do. And I say the wrong thing and kick myself for wrong words or actions – just – like – they – do. I’m just being human….hoping you’ll see my heart and in the process, it will connect with yours so you’ll know you’re not alone.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Helping Your Child Flourish As a Writer

I don’t remember wanting to be a writer as a kid. I did however, always love English, spelling, and reading. They came fairly easily to me and it was something I enjoyed.

My mom would take my sister and I to the library in the summertime and we would stock up on books. I think reading helps children learn to love words and it did for me…without me even knowing it.

I have continued the tradition of taking my kids to the library in the summertime. I have expanded on that by getting them magazine subscriptions from time to time. But for both of my girls; I have noticed that they have a natural gift for writing. Whether it’s a boring report that is due for school or a more creative piece….they are good at conveying thoughts to paper.

I wanted to encourage that since I have learned to love writing so much. So every once in awhile (especially on car trips) I have them write a story. I give them a title and then they go to work crafting a story based on that title. It’s really fun to see what they come up with. Sometimes the stories are short and sweet, other times very detail-oriented and elaborate. A lot of times they like to use humor (as all kids enjoy the “funny” side of life) but more recently, I’ve also noticed them using touching moments or tender thoughts in their writing.

I’m not trying to push my kids to be writers. However, if they have a natural bent to write then I want to encourage that. I’ve noticed that the more I write, the easier it is. When I take a long break or extended time away from writing – it takes a little while for me to get back in the groove. So I like to encourage my children to put pen or pencil to paper as often as they’d like. They each have even started writing stories on their own from time to time!

If you notice your child loves to write or even just loves the gift of a good story; you might try encouraging them to write more often. Suggest a topic and see what their creative mind comes up with in response. I bet you’ll both enjoy it and you never know what it will develop into down the road!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Does the Good Guy Have to Fight For What is Right?

It seems like the good guy always has an uphill climb. No? You don’t think so. I do.

The good guy has to fight to get the “bad guy” to pay his dues. Whether it’s someone who runs off with your money, steals your identity, overcharges you, bullies you, disobeys the law – whatever. It seems the “good guy” has to fight to be heard and fight to have justice served.

Doesn’t this seem a little backwards to you? Should life be so hard? Should it be so hard to simply make those in the wrong pay for what they’ve done? Why does the good guy have to fight so hard to simply “unvictimize” themselves?

Just seems screwy somewhere. It should be those who go against the laws, who violate the rights, who do wrong…. It should be those very ones who have an uphill battle proving themselves; not the other way around.

No wonder people let things go. No wonder people don’t want to get involved. Because they know it’ll be tough to simply “get what’s right.”

And that makes me so sad.

Thank heavens for those who fight for the rest of us anyways even knowing they have an uphill battle. Thank heavens for the small minority of people who have inner conviction and courage.

No matter what happens in life, we should all still fight for what is right. Because it’s right.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Fear Tactic

“If you don’t hurry up, I’m going to leave without you!”

I NEVER said that to my kids but I’ve heard it said many times by many parents. I always hated it. I cringe when I hear it.

I realize what a parent is doing. They are trying to scare their child into hurrying up or getting with the program. They are trying to get them to obey. It’s the tactic I disagree with. I feel it’s simply a scare-tactic and I don’t like it nor do I agree with it. For one thing, I would NEVER leave my child alone somewhere. Never! I would hope they would never think I would. So why would I bother to say that to them? Either they’d believe a lie, or I’d be telling them one.

I’ve been in a hurry countless times as a mother. Many times I’d be rushing because of my own lack of planning. It was my fault. I didn’t start getting my child ready early enough or I got distracted with something else and time got away from me. I think most children need some extra time to move along. I’m not encouraging dawdling but simply patience. As they get older, telling them they have 5 minutes or setting a timer work good in a home environment. When you are out in public, sometimes simply stopping what you are doing and helping them grab that choice of item you said they could pick out, or helping them pick up their things goes a long way.

Parenting is a test. It’s frustrating at times, there’s no denying that. I just don’t ever want to have my children submit to me out of fear, but out of love.

But that’s just me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Longing For More

I haven’t seen or done as much in my life as some people. I’ve never bungee jumped, climbed Mt. Everest, or been in the jungle with a native tribe. But I HAVE been on a couple of missions trips, two cross country road trips lasting at least 3 weeks, and experienced a few other things in life.

What I have been finding lately, is that each time I come back from an “adventure,” it feels good to be home – yet at the same time I quickly want myself feeling another “high.” I long for the excitement that I felt previously. Daily life can seem monotonous and I find myself discontented with a normal day more easily.

The longer I’m at home, the more I appreciate normal days and long for them if life gets a little stressful or overwhelming. What is that about? And which is the way God would have me live? Would He want me longing for a nice quiet day at home, or would He prefer me to clamor for that next adventure?

Not all of my adventures away from home have been what I call “God-causes.” Some of them have been purely for personal reasons. Maybe our family just wanted to have fun or go somewhere and see something that we’d always wanted to see or were curious about. But even in those moments, I find that because God lives in my heart, He is there with me championing me on as I soak in the very life that He’s given me.

I don’t think God wants us to waste away our days at home. I do think He wants us to take time for rest, relaxation, and refreshment in order to know our own hearts and minds. I don’t think He wants us to wear out – even on adventures.

If we can find the balance that exists in going out and truly living and embracing all the world has to offer with a little bit of pampering, resting, and nurturing of our mind and souls here and there – imagine how rich life could be on a regular rotating basis! The challenge is in simply seeing “when” and “how” each needs to be done.

I find myself seeking this exact balance. I crave the fullness and mystery of not knowing what a day will bring when I’m away from home and yet at times, I really need the haven that my home provides me. Each has its purpose. I pray I never lose the yearning I have to see more – do more – and know more of God’s world and people and that in the process He will show me how to rest in Him and find the contentment and joy that only He can provide in a normal, quiet day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Want to Be Happier?

The less I think about myself, the happier I am.

It’s a profound thought – and a true one. Think about it for a minute. When you actually can forget what your hair or makeup look like, can’t you truly enjoy yourself with others and being out in public more? When you forget how you compare to those around you, can’t you truly engage in conversations and invest more of yourself into friendships? When you can forget about your own feelings and dive in with fervor because of your passion to help someone else in the midst of theirs….don’t you feel more complete – more at peace?

The world is constantly telling us to think of ourselves. “We deserve it.” “Treat yourself right.” “To each his own.” ‘Whatever works for you!” So many mantras. The problem is, they only satisfy temporarily.

That’s why I think people who live their lives giving to others – whether it’s working for charities, ministries, going on mission trips, adopting, volunteering, etc – I think they are more satisfied because they are investing into others and thinking less of themselves.

It’s backwards thinking. But the saying “what goes around comes around” is so very true. You give love, you will feel loved. You feel compassion towards others and you will be compassionate. You give grace and mercy and you will be forgiven more easily. You express hospitality and you won’t feel alone. You give what you have, and somehow you will always have what you need.

People seek happiness all their lives. They look for it in material things, in relationships, success, fame, and in riches. But those are all meaningless because the core factor in each one of those is “self.” What can I get for ME??? The real question should be… “What can I GIVE to you?”


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