Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not Wanting To Get Left Behind

Does your family ever struggle with the choices of participating in something merely because you don't want to get left behind? Do you face the pressure of having to "stay in the game"with your kids even if its "off-season" for fear that they won't measure up?

It takes courage to step out of the race and to realize that you are paying a price....that sometimes participating takes a toll on your family life and on your child personally.

I have written an article about this exact thing and how our family was faced with making a tough choice on behalf of our girls.  Please visit me over at today to read our story.

And let me know if you too, struggle with the same thing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm Not a Quitter, But Sometimes You Need To Quit

If I say I will do something, I will do it. I am and have always been very insistent on staying true to my word. I don’t undertake something unless I’m confident I can follow through.

It’s the way I am.  Integrity means the world to me. My word means a lot and it says a lot about who I am.

But I’ve come to learn recently that sometimes it is not only necessary to quit on something – but vital. Sometimes for your own health, you need to say, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s just not good for me.”

It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of different circumstances for me to get to this point. To understand and give myself the freedom to be a quitter. To let someone down.

And it’s still not easy.

I don’t think it ever will be when you care about people. It hurts to know someone else may be hurting. It’s disappointing to know that someone else may be disappointed. That won’t ever change.

But there are times in life, where you have to look for the easier way out. Not the “easy” way out. For if you care and quit on something (or someone), it’s NEVER easy. But the easier way out is easier on YOU in the long run. You are looking for things to be easier on you stress-wise. Or physically. Or spiritually. Or you are freeing up time to truly focus on your family. To get your priorities in check.


We don’t always have to opt for the “hard.” We don’t have to tough things out. Being battered and bruised because you chose to be a martyr (when usually no one noticed) isn’t the right thing for anyone.

Sometimes you need to throw up your hands and say, “I need to quit this.”

Boundaries set to remove unhealthy patterns and behaviors are good and right. And should be used by people more.  So sometimes being a “quitter,” is exactly the right thing to do.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why Wouldn't God Come Through For Me?

I am an undeserving person.  I’m very flawed. I see my own flaws daily. It can be so easy to focus on my mistakes and shortcomings.  I think that’s why, at times, when I come to the Lord in prayer, I don’t really believe that He’ll answer me. I don’t really believe He’ll honor my heart’s request. Because I don’t feel I deserve it.

I’ve been a Christian since the age of 5. You’d think I’d know better by now. You’d think I would know that that’s the beauty of God’s grace. I DON’T deserve it. I never will. But that’s not who my God is or what He’s about. He doesn’t dole out blessings merely because I’ve earned them. Rather, I think blessings come more freely because people refuse to waiver in their faith. They BELIEVE in Him.  They EXPECT Him to come through for them.

I was listening to a sermon by my old Pastor in Las Vegas – Gene Appel. He was talking about this very thing.  He was sharing how easy it is for us to let our fears and doubts grow larger than our faith. And how easy it is for us to forget our God’s track record.

God has a GREAT track record.

He has been so faithful. So loving. So patient. Despite His children’s faults and shortcomings.

God has come through time and time again for His children. That’s what a father does.

So why wouldn’t God come through for me? He is not against me – He is FOR me! He wants to see me happy. He wants to see me succeed. He wants to bless me as I serve, honor, and obey Him! Sometimes He’s just waiting for me to step out on that ledge of my faith and say, “I believe. Even though the odds aren’t in my favor, I believe. Even though I don’t know which direction to go in, I know you are in my corner and you will guide me and lead me to that land of promise.”

We have forgotten how great our God is. How much He LOVES to lavish us with that love. We have forgotten. We’ve let our Christian heritage slip away in the hustle and bustle of life.

We are all in positions at times where we long for God to come through for us.  The time has come for us to believe that He will. To know that whether or not we feel we deserve it, we can receive it.  For our God loves us.

Does God want to come through for me and you? Yes. Yes, He does.

Let’s lift our heads up and believe it and watch the horizon for Him to arrive.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Beautiful People

I love watching a good movie with good looking people. But it’s so un-real. 

Let’s face it. We all live in the real world. Not everyone is beautiful. In fact, most of us – are not beautiful. Not “Hollywood Beautiful” anyways. We don’t have our faces and hair done by stylists and we either abandon our nails all together or rummage up our own homemade nail job.

We have wrinkles. And we have cellulite. Movies don’t show that. They mislead. They make us think that life can be perfectly….beautiful.

And it can. But in a different way. 

People who are REALLY beautiful don’t always have flawless faces. But they do have generous lives. They serve, they laugh, they cry….they love.

Beautiful people in the real world don’t always go and see the beautiful doctor or the beautiful next door neighbor.

Our houses aren’t always beautiful. They are messy. Dirty. Flawed.

I hate that our lives sometimes come down to simply striving for beauty. For it doesn’t last. Beauty is fleeting when it’s simply measured by our skin. But when it resides in the heart, beauty can transcend even our own lives.

I don’t ever want to walk down Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue and feel like I don’t belong because I’m not wearing the right kind of clothes or have the right kind of image.  I want to feel confident when I’m walking down those types of streets because I have a life that is full of beauty. I have friends who find me beautiful because of who I am.

That’s the kind of beauty that matters to me.

Yes, I want to be found beautiful on the outside too. But I don’t want to prioritize it. Because when it comes down to my heart and soul – they are the real me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Your "Sweet Spot"

Are you living life within your “sweet spot?” Why or why not?

We all have areas that are where we really flourish and blossom in. Those are areas where we can truly feel alive and be ourselves. We sit within our natural bents and calling in life. We feel fully engaged in who we are and we are comfortable – happy – content.

Some of us (right now) are far from our sweet spot. It might be a location. It might be a job. But we are living outside of where our heart truly longs to be.

Others of us are fortunate enough to be residing right in our sweet spot. Maybe we luckily landed there and discovered it – knowing it was where we were meant to be….or maybe we fought hard to get there. But we are living out our life knowing we are using and being exactly who and where we were meant to be.

Do you even know what your sweet spot is? Do you know where you truly feel at your best? Do you know where you are meant to be? If not, God can help you find those answers for I believe He has a role meant specifically for each one of us. And once we discover that role and live it out, we will know that is who we were meant to be.

If you know where your sweet spot is and you aren’t currently in it, I’d encourage you to pursue it with your whole heart. It is where you are meant to be.

Every “sweet spot” is a gift from God. It is where HE can fully use us and it is where we can fully feel the joy and blessing that only He can give us. Pursue it. Cling to it. Long for it.  And it shall be given to you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Being a Safe Harbor For Your Kids

I’ve told my girls countless times that I want to be a safe harbor for them. I’ve reiterated that fact when I felt they were going through things and may be hesitating at confiding in me.

Sure, I realize they don’t tell me everything. Part of me is okay with that. Part of me struggles with that and always will. But I want my children to have some space in their hearts to freely think and feel for themselves without me interjecting thoughts and feelings; making them feel like I’m crowding their own feelings out.

Sometimes I think they might forget they can trust me with anything. That I will love them no matter what.

Then, I’m reminded.

I’m reminded the time my daughter wrote me a mother’s day booklet at school and included on one page that “my boat dock is always safe with mom.” 
I’m reminded when that same daughter confides in me some things about a friend. And then I overhear her in the kitchen with her father and he’s trying to figure some things out. When he is told by her that she doesn’t want to go into it because she told me; he inquires “Why, mom?” He is told, “Because she’s my safe harbor!”

Yes, I smile from the other room where they can’t see me or know I hear. For my message must be getting across.

I’ll have to continue to repeat it many more times through the years. Just as a reminder. To them. And to me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Think From a God-Perspective

It can be so hard at times to keep your spirits up. To keep on doing what is right and good when you feel like it is always overlooked or ignored. Like it doesn’t pay off. 

It can be easy to think – “Why try?”

My heart has been concerned over someone I care about recently whom I feel is in this exact spot in life. They are getting discouraged because doing what is “right” just isn’t paying off. They are not seeing the reward in it.

I know how that feels. Oh boy, do I know!  And I wish I had the right answers to encourage this person at this moment in time. But I don’t. For sometimes life stinks. Sometimes it’s NOT fair and you ARE overlooked. Sometimes you are just out and out taken for granted.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

When God's Dream and My Dream Line Up

I have dreams for my life. Longings. Desires. Ambitions. Personal wishes closely-held  in my heart.

Sometimes I worry that they are growing too big. Taking up too much space and time inside of me. I don’t want them to rule my life – and yet there, they lurk. Never budging.

Sometimes they grow quieter for a season. But they don’t shrink.  They remind me again and again that they are still there – waiting to be realized.

When everything in me wants to do God’s will, these longings and dreams can be troublesome for a girl like me. One who worries that they are simply mine – and not God’s wishes for my life.

Have you been there? Have you analyzed your own head and heart? Wondering if what sits in there is for you and you alone or if it’s something God has planted there?

 I go there often….to those thoughts.

There is only one thing I can do. Instead of always asking God to fulfill my wishes, prayers, and dreams – I can ask Him to make HIS wishes, plans, and dreams my own. I can ask Him to let me see what HE sees. Prioritize what HE prioritizes. And desire what HE desires for my life.

Then, our dreams line up.

His dreams of how to use me, BECOME my own dreams. His wishes for my life become MY wishes for my life. And they merge so that I can not only fulfill the calling He has placed on me, but I can want it, love it, and embrace it. Knowing that the dreams and longing I have AREN’T just humanly and selfishly sitting there for me alone. But that HE has placed them there for me.

And I can truly be excited.

At peace.

And free to dream them. Knowing that in His perfect timing – they will come true at last.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We Are All Different

I’m not a morning person. My body has a really tough time rising in the winter when it’s still dark outside. And even when the time changes and it IS light outside, it takes me quite awhile to wake and not be groggy.

My husband is completely different. He can rise quickly and e-a-r-l-y. He loves mornings.

Add to that, he doesn’t need near as much sleep as I do. I need a lot to function really well.

I see the differences in my children too. One is joyful in the morning and can get going rather quickly – the other one? Not so much.

We are all different. God made us that way.

I think it ironic that we can so easily make fun of someone for being different than we are. We can mock or criticize someone for wanting extra sleep when we don’t need it. We can laugh at someone who is cold in 60 degree weather when we get hot at anything over 70.

But we are different. And we can’t expect others to deal with life the same way we do – because they weren’t created the same way we were.

People literally were crafted differently.  Some people catch every virus that goes around while others never seem to get sick. It’s not a choice.

Some things in our lives are preferences. But others exist because we each have been molded differently so that we can each play a unique role in life.

It may be hard to understand where someone else is coming from if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, but we can try to see things from their shoes. We can think of something we ourselves struggle with that we wished we wouldn’t – and that in and of itself can at times help us look kinder on their position and stance.

God is my creator. If I feel more motivated in the sunshine and someone else thrives in the snow – I have to believe there is a reason God made us that way.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Offering Fine Dining To Your Guests: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

How many times do we fret over our meals? When company or visitors stop by, we stress and strain over what to make them. It has to be elaborate. Gourmet. Fancy.

Why the fuss?

Is it about filling them up with good food and good company…or is it about us and our image?

I’ve decided (for the most part, because I’m still human and get caught up in vanity and pride) that I’m done cooking “fancy.” I’m going for simple. Casual. Comfortable.

I’d much rather spend less time fussing over food in the kitchen and more time enjoying good conversation and company with my guests. I’m not fond of cooking anyways – so why try to impress?

I do want to make those who enter my home feel special. Valued. Worth my time. But I don’t want to get sucked into pretense. I’m not about pretending I whip up huge home-cooked meals, when our family is simply content with sub sandwiches or tacos on most week-nights.

The only thing I struggle with is feeling a bit….”less than.”  I feel a little immature and childish if I serve grilled cheese sandwiches to company. But trust me, I’m trying to get over that – because honestly? Grilled cheese sandwiches are so much more “me” than lobster anyways.

How about you? Do you struggle to cook fine meals for your guests? Or are you comfortable going with something that is more in your budget and low-key? Do you avoid having company all together because you feel inept to serve them?

God often broke bread with others in the Bible. I wonder how they felt about having the great “I AM” in their presence and simply eating bread instead of a lavish meal?

If it’s one thing I’m learning as each year goes by it’s that life is more about WHO we are than WHAT we do.   We should certainly make the effort to love on others  - as long as our hearts are in the right place. But we should also remember to strive for authenticity. And let’s face it, sometimes pizza that we ordered out is so much more authentic than chicken cacciatore.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Don't Have To Be Overwhelmed

This world can be overwhelming at times. The crime, the economy, the bad news. It can bring doubts, despair, depression.

But we don’t have to be overwhelmed. We don’t have to feel bombarded.  We can have peace, hope, and joy despite hard times and tough things going on in the world.

We just need to stay plugged into Jesus Christ.

God is bigger than all of it. He’s stronger. More powerful. Wiser. Loving. And He has our personal needs, dreams, and desires in mind.

We don’t have to be overwhelmed.

Problems will always be there. Death will always come. Disasters will always loom. But God will be right there in the midst of it all. Waiting. Opening His arms. Performing miracles. Loving us.

If we can take our eyes off of the things around us that plague us and lift our vision up to Him – we can see a different perspective. Feel a different direction. And be renewed. Revived. Restored.

No, we don’t have to be overwhelmed.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Focus. There are those days where I know I really need it. They are the days of feeling overwhelmed. Stressed out. Frustrated. Stuck.

Sometimes situations don’t change. But my heart can. My perspective can if I get some focus.

Maybe I simply need some time alone so I can hear my own thoughts. You know what I mean? Sometimes life is so loud and those around us so loud that we just feel like we can’t hear what is in our own head.

Maybe I need to remove myself from a situation – even if temporarily.

Maybe I need time with God. (Actually , I’m pretty sure in every one of these situations our focus will improve after we have time with God!)

Maybe I need some R & R.

Sometimes to tune yourself in to something, you need a little break and time to tune yourself OUT.

If you long for focus, if you’re thirsty for it – don’t ignore that fact. Get yourself some. Do it for your own physical and emotional well being. Do it for those who love you. Do it for those who don’t and would continue to be a part of the stressors in your life if you didn’t find some focus.

You don’t have to keep on keeping on. At least not in the same direction.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Was Made For This

So many articles and columns are devoted to the hardships of motherhood. When things are tough, when you have to discipline, rebellious children, carving out time for yourself, struggles, blah, blah, blah.

And I’ve written some built from tough phases of parenting, as well.  But when I look back on my parenting years after my children have left the nest…I don’t think I’m going to remember the tough phases the most. No. I’m going to remember the joys.

You see; my kids are my best friends. I love their company. They make me smile far more often than they bring tears to my eyes. They make me laugh on more occasions than cry. And they have taught me some wildly wonderful lessons about myself.

I delight in being their mom. Maybe that’s the big difference in my attitude. Maybe that’s why to me, parenting is more joy than sorrow. I don’t know. I just know they are my heart’s delight. Totally. Unequivocally. Absolutely. Definitely. No debating it.

I enjoy picking them up from school and hearing about their day. I love it when they share their burdens, and excitement with me.

I relish holding them when they are hurting and standing back to watch their proud moments. (Even though I want to yell through the rooftops – “That’s MY child!”)

I was made for this. I was created to love them. And I take it seriously. I take each moment I have with an intentional heart that is looking to mold, shape, and invest in them. I try never to pass up opportunities to prepare or equip.

I think so often we can focus on the challenges in parenting. And challenges there are. No child is perfect. No one flawless. Even the best of kids make poor choices, sass their mom and dad, and can hurt your feelings.

But there is SO much that is good. All those meals you share over laughter and soulful talks. All those times you brushed their hair or helped them pick out clothes. The moments where you felt their hot forehead and tended to them as they fought an illness. As you gazed at their sweet faces while they slept.

Think back to all those sweet notes and drawings they’ve given you professing their love. All the times they ran to you with open arms; excited to see…just YOU. Or even the times their heart was breaking and the first person they turned to…was you.

There are so many joys. So much to be thankful for. When they refuse that party because they’d rather have down-time at home with you. When you start to see them apply all the things you’ve taught them and you realize they are “getting it.” When you see them stick up for a friend or do something courageous. When you see them love – without regard to their reputation. When you see them being generous.

So rewarding.

Parenting IS a joy. It’s hard work, yes. But it’s a joy. Deep. Far reaching.

And it’s good.