Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's The Heart That Matters

I am blessed with so much. I’m blessed with a beautiful home, a loving husband, and beautiful, precious children. My beautiful house would mean nothing to me if not for the love shared with my family and friends within those walls. We can take that for granted far too often.

It’s the heart that matters – not the home.  Don’t ever take your home life for granted. Be thankful for the four walls where you live – the health and well being of your family, and take the time to enjoy life together instead of hustling through it.  As long as your family is together, you can create laughter and memories no matter where you are or what home you reside in.  For some day that security you have may be tested – and you and your family will need to learn to lean on each other for support while God tests your faith.

No matter how beautiful your home is – without the “heart” of love and family inside of it – it’s just an empty shell.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Child Left Undisciplined

Undisciplined and pampered children. I see them everywhere today. It’s as if we are afraid our children won’t like us if we tell them “no” or if we are the last parent in their class to allow them to own a cell phone or I-pod. We are afraid of OUR image as well as THEIR image being tarnished.

We’ve put image ahead of character building.

The bible says, “A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.” Proverbs 29:15 (NIV)

When our children grow up, they won’t know how to respect us, be generous with us, or be sympathetic or compassionate to our needs because their world has been so focused on themselves. We’ve allowed that to happen. We’ve bypassed the chance to teach and correct them so many times in lieu of trying to be their friend or to be deemed that we’re acceptable and cool. We’ve sacrificed our own children’s health, spiritual, and emotional development.

Our children NEED boundaries. They need to be told “no.” They may not like it, but they need it. They need us to have wisdom and discernment to know when those times come. They need us to have a strong enough sense to know we are right at times, even if we are unpopular. They need to know that above all, everything we’ve done for them is out of love. We’ve disciplined them – out of love. We’ve held things back from their lives – out of a love for them. We’ve enforced chores and responsibility – out of love. We’ve imparted Biblical knowledge, morals, and values to them – out of love.

I truly hate it when my children are mad at me. I would much rather be their favorite person. But at times, I know I’m doing the right thing for their lives.  You only learn pride and the value of things by having to work for them and not getting everything handed to you.  You only learn compassion by sometimes getting hurt. You only learn humility by being at the bottom and not always at the top.  These are lessons that our children need. otherwise they will grow up to be narcissistic, deluded young men and women who don’t give the time or day to those around them --- including us as their parents.

Loving and raising a child is hard stuff. It’s tough at times to do the unpopular thing – the right thing. Many tears and frustrated moments come. But it’s worth every prayer you toil over, every change you make to help mold and shape a child who has strong roots in the Lord, a wise and discerning heart, and a kind and giving heart.

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First published at Devotional Christian - March 2011

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Beauty That Lies Within the Busyness

Step into the last year and a half of my life with me.

Last May, we put our house up for sale in Boise, Idaho. It sold in two weeks. From that moment on, life has been a whirlwind.

We packed up and moved into an apartment in June. Around the end of July, we drove to Las Vegas, NV where we THOUGHT we’d be moving. During the couple days we were there, God spoke to all of our hearts and clearly told us that wasn’t what He wanted for us. So, we cut our trip short and drove to San Antonio, TX where God DID lead us to move to!  We made the long drive home and started packing up the remainder of our stuff that wasn’t sitting in storage.

During this time period, my husband’s employer went through the third round of layoffs that we’d been through in the 15 years he’d been employed there. We decided since we were planning on leaving anyways, it would be in our advantage to take the severance package and be laid off. That is exactly what happened.

My husband got laid off and we flew back to San Antonio for two days to find a home to rent. Amidst much stress, by God’s grace, we found one.

Flew back to Boise, finished packing up, and two weeks later, our whole family made the 4 day drive to San Antonio, Texas in September.

The first couple of nights in our rental home were an adventure. We slept in an empty house in sleeping bags. But it was memorable and fun. After a few days, we then flew to Georgia where a dear friend got married and my two girls were bridesmaids. We were there a few days, flew back to San Antonio, spent another night on the floor and then our truck and our belongings arrived on the same day where I spent three hours enrolling my girls in one of the biggest public schools I’ve ever seen.

My husband enrolled in a 9 week course to help him diversify his skills a bit.

In December, we had my daughter’s boyfriend from England come and stay with us for a month.

In the spring, we flew back to England, to meet this same young man’s family. We also made a vacation out of it – not knowing when we’d get another one, and got to see Scotland and Ireland while we were there. It was a wonderful trip. We flew home and found out that my husband had been hired by the company whose course he had taken. A true praise – not just that he got the job, but he got hired around the same time ours severance and unemployment ran out. God is so good to us!

In May, I flew back to Boise, Idaho where I was in town for only about 12 hours before I again made the 3 ½ day drive back to Odessa, TX. And this time with my stepson, daughter-in-law, and grandkids who had just gotten a worship pastor job there. We were so excited to have them move to Texas – even if it was 5 hours away! My family met us upon arrival, and after helping the kids maneuver through an unforeseen situation with an unlivable rental, we then made the 5 hour drive home.

In June, my daughter’s boyfriend from England came and lived with us for the whole summer. My youngest daughter also had a friend from home come and visit us for a week.  We shopped and shopped and finally found my oldest her first car in Austin.

And we started building a house.

Summer was busy.

Not to mention, throughout this time period, I got two wonderful writing jobs. One with the San Antonio Marriage Initiative, and one with HealthyLeaders.com (which will debut October 3rd!). I have been so humbled and excited to be a participant in these two fantastic organizations! Both, which aim to serve the Lord in all they do. I’m so in love with, and in awe of, how God works.

So, here we sit. A year and a half later and our home is set to be ready for us to move in, hopefully by next week. So, we’ve been packing again.

I am SO ready to move into my own home. Unpack. Decorate. Settle in. And settle down! I’m ready for routine again. But did I mention it’s my daughter’s senior year in high school? So we are scheduling senior pictures, and gearing up for things like graduation, what will she do afterwards, and all that comes with being a senior.

Life is busy.

I never in a million years would have guessed that life would have gone at such speed in the last year and a half. I never could have seen all the joys and blessings that have come our way – even if they HAVE left us a little tired from time to time!

I am SO thankful to be here in Texas. I’m so thankful for my husband’s job, my daughter’s job, my daughter’s car, my own writing jobs, and our new home. GOD IS GOOD. Yes, He’s good. ALL OF THE TIME. I see in hindsight how He led us here. To this moment in time. And I feel so loved by Him.

It’s been one heck of a ride. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. To everything there is a season…. And this is the season I’m currently living in.

May I never fail to see the beauty that lies within the busyness. And may I never fail to see the love that my God unfolds for me along the way. It’s worth every step.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Feelings Got Hurt

My feelings got hurt today. Well, not TODAY, but the day I wrote this article.  Someone said something that stung my heart.  And it wasn’t the first time it had happened.

I went through my morning feeling sad. Blue. Feeling like I wasn’t understood and that I wasn’t valued. It stunk. For this person mattered a lot to me. I felt like I gave them the world. I loved them with abandon. And yet, it wasn’t always returned.

As I started slipping into the, “I’m feeling sorry for myself” mode, God gently touched my heart. Tears came to my eyes as I continued to feel the sting of another’s harsh words aimed my way, and He reminded me of what He wanted me to do and why.

He wanted me to stand strong. Continue to be me. And remind myself of who HE thinks and knows me to be. He wanted me to remember how many times He was misunderstood. How many times someone tried to hurt Him (and continues to hurt Him today.) My God takes it all. He takes it when we say His name in vain. He takes it when we turn our backs on Him and take HIS glory for ourselves. He takes it when someone is angry and blames Him for their own choices and errors. He takes it all. And He still loves.

That’s what He wants for me. To take it. And to still love. It may sting. It may hurt. And it may need to gently be addressed. But I can’t let someone else’s words define who I am. I can’t let those penetrate my heart and impact me in a negative way. Especially when I know the things said are untrue.

We all get our feelings hurt from time to time. We all say something to hurt someone else from time to time. Our words go a long way. They stand the test of time and they go the distance – farther than we realize.  But when we’re tempted to feel sorry for ourselves, it’s good to be reminded that someone walked before us who was unfairly talked about. Someone who was unfairly treated. Someone who didn’t deserve what was said and done to Him. And He still loved.

It’s who He was. And it’s who He wants us to be.

Let God deal with the giver of unkind words. And let us deal with our response.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Finding Our Identity In God

As a parent raising two daughters, it is important to me that my girls have a strong sense of who they are. The world can put so much pressure on young ladies to look and act a certain way, that I want them to find their identity in God and things that last.

Beauty is so fleeting. Materialism so empty. Yet these are the things our world values.

“It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for … part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11

Our children need to feel valued and valuable. They need to know they are loved and worthy – not because of what they do or accomplish in life and certainly not for how they look. But because of who they are. They will only discover the hidden treasures and jewels of their heart if they look to the Lord. He is the only One who can give them the value, worth, and success they seek. He is the only One who can make them feel beautiful even if the rest of the world would say otherwise – for beauty truly does come from the inside and from the heart.

If I can get these points across to my girls and they can discover and find the things they seek by simply looking to the Lord and believing what He says about them in His Word; I know they will not be as prone to falling for the lies that the world tries to sell them about their beauty and value.

Even as a mom and wife – I, too, can look to this verse to remind myself of where I find my value. Sometimes you can feel so lost in the role of parenting that it’s important to remember that you are also an individual and that you have a purpose – just as you seek to guide your children to their purpose in life.

It is only in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. He is still working in and on us – so look to Him for all that your heart longs for. And teach that principle to your precious children as well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Not a Fair Fight

We know there is good and evil in this world. It is so evident. We can see it clearly all around us.

We know there is BAD. And there is GOOD.

Yet sometimes I think we get a little lost and confused in our spiritual battles. I think we think it’s a fair fight. An equal fight.

But it’s not.

God is ruler over ALL. He rules over Satan. He rules over the demons. He rules over earth.

Satan is not equal to God. Not in power. Not in glory. Not in might.

Yes, he has a lot of influence. He’s cunning. He watches us and knows just where to hit us and when. But anything he does – is under God’s authority. God allows it.


I wish that bad things didn’t happen to me. I wish they didn’t happen to those I love. But they happen not because God caused them to happen. He didn’t. He might have allowed them to happen for reasons unknown to us, but He didn’t cause them.

Sometimes it’s my own prideful and sinful choices that end up causing bad circumstances. So it’s a natural effect of choices I, myself, made.

Other times, maybe God is allowing me to be sifted and molded. He sees what satan is doing in my life and chooses not to intervene, because I need some heart work done.

And other times, maybe my pain is for the greater good. To bring more to follow Him.

I just don’t always know.

But I do know that I often give satan more power than he deserves. And he loves that – for it allows him more freedom in my life.

So I am reminding myself today… and I am reminding you. It is not a fair fight. Satan is not equal to God.

Not even close.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some Days My Heart Just Needs To Spill a Little

There are days that I just feel like crying. My soul hungers for answers and I groan before God. These are the times where I don’t understand His ways – even if I still trust in His heart.

May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.  Psalm 119:169

Sometimes it’s enough for me to simply cry to the Lord. To vent to Him. To have Him there to listen. It’s reassuring for me to unleash my heart on His shoulders; knowing that He carries all my concerns with such great care.

I seek understanding…often. I seek relief from my doubts, fears, and concerns. But it’s almost more important to me to be heard.  I need to know that I matter. That my thoughts, heart, and voice…matter. I need to know and feel like God sees me.

Yes, sometimes that’s more important to me.

He DOES see me. He DOES hear me and I DO matter to him. He provides me a way for my cry to come before Him and to rest at His feet.

Some days my heart just wants to pour out. It doesn’t want advice or direction – although it might the next day or the day after that. It simply wants to spill. It wants to unleash all that lies within it – the emotion, the feeling, and the questions.

I’m so thankful that my cry can come before the Lord in those moments and on those days. I’m so thankful that He never gets tired of me and that I’m not a burden. 

May my cry come before you, Lord. Today – and always.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

There Is Strength In Joy

There is strength in joy. I’ve tapped into it. I’ve discovered it. I’ve relished in the knowing that joy is what gives me my courage and my strength in times when I should otherwise feel so weak.

I love knowing that I’m feeling peaceful and strong despite trying circumstances because of joy that comes only from relying on and having true faith in my Savior.

It’s freeing.

I’m not always there. I don’t always sit in that knowledge or feel that joy. There are times when I try to rely on my own strength, my own control, and my own direction. I never feel as strong in those moments as I do when I know God’s strength is being funneled through me. No, my own strength never feels quite as solid.

There is an old song that starts, ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.” And that song runs round and round in my head from time to time. The words – so simple – yet so powerful and true.

I see joy in the person who has cancer and yet glows. I know that they have tapped into that strength.

I see joy in the person who has little in the way of monetary possessions, and yet smiles as if they have the world.


It is something so elusive to people nowadays. Stern faces, frowns, and heartache abounds. It’s no wonder. Loneliness, depression, hurts, and trials know no bounds in our lives. They exist daily. And people are weary. Broken down. Discouraged.

And yet there it pops up in someone’s life from time to time. We glimpse it. That charming quality of joy. We wonder how we can gain a little bit of it for ourselves. How can we find that peace and strength that comes out in joy like the one we see before us?

I’m here to tell you. It’s God. ALL God.

And it’s yours for the asking.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Struggle

It can be so hard to let God fight for me. There are days where I just want to control things in my life. And there are days where things are so – uncontrollable.

It’s hard to sit still. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to wait.

It’s hard to trust.

And yet those are the very things that God asks of me. He asks me to “be still.” He asks me to “wait on the Lord.” And He asks me to be patient for His answer. Most of all? He asks me to trust in Him.

God tells me that He works for my good, if I’m following Him and obeying His commands. He tells me that He wants to bless me. That He’s faithful. Loving. Wise.

Yet, still, I struggle.

Sometimes I struggle against myself. Sometimes, it’s others. But mostly, it’s a struggle for control. I try so hard to get things to go the way I think they should go. I hurry them on. I stop them altogether. I maneuver. Whisper. Orchestrate. Plan.

Sometimes I think I just get in God’s way.

Sometimes I think maybe the wait is there because I interfered, not because my God was slow.

If only I’d have listened. If only I’d have trusted. Been patient. Been still.

I’m just not very good at that.

I know I can learn things in these times. I know there are things God wants to teach me. Work through me. Show me. I wish I’d welcome those gifts of knowledge more often! I wish I’d cherish the personal delivery of messages that can only come from Him – to – me.

I hate that I fight against Him. I hate that I don’t always know that I’m fighting against Him. But that I’m just simply lost in my humanness.

I KNOW that my God is for me. I KNOW that His will (and timing) is best. I KNOW that my life in HIS hands instead of my own – is best.

And so I keep trying to do better. I keep trying to learn from my mistakes. I keep trying to “be still.” “Be patient.” And “trust.”

I just wish it weren’t so much of a struggle.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Because Of Me

I had a doctor appointment one day over a year ago. I was nervous about it and on this particular day, I was stuck waiting for a really long time. So long that a nurse came in and apologized and promised they would be with me shortly.

Isn’t that the way it goes? I sat there, and I thought…why, when I’m so nervous do I have to sit here alone with my thoughts? They were making me crazy. I didn’t want time alone to sift through my own head! I didn’t want to think.

I knew I might be nervous ahead of time for this appointment. So I had copied some Bible verses on fear and put them where I could access them from my phone. I recalled this, leaned over into my purse, and grabbed my phone. I read the verses and found myself calm. I found my thoughts clear.

And I found myself wondering if everything in life truly does have purpose. I mean, how could being delayed at a doctor’s office have purpose?  And then God spoke to my heart. He said, “Because of me.”

Because of me.

He wanted my attention. He wanted me to spend that time with Him. Alone.

Sometimes you just want to hit yourself on the side of the head, don’t you? When you realize something that you think should have been so apparent?

I was delayed that morning so that God could speak to me. So that I could listen. And I could be still with only my Lord.

That time sitting there alone in the room stands out for me. I remember it. It’s not like all the other doctor visits where I sat in a crowded waiting room. No. I remember that morning as one where God shone through in a moment and reached out personally to me to grab my attention.

The wait? It was so worth it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Problems Are Tougher Today Than They Used To Be

It’s true. We live in an age where new problems, challenges, and hurdles present themselves to parents. Tough problems and challenges. Issues that our parents and grandparents never faced. Things that haven’t even been written about in “self-help” books yet.

We live in an exciting time. Yet, a time where we can’t always refer to the past to help us out with a problem. Sometimes we have to forge our way through it…. Alone.

Schools are different than when we were young. Cell phones are allowed in a lot of them, and rules have changed. Curriculum has changed and the students and teachers themselves, have changed.

Kids socialize through their phones or online in great part, now. They don’t stand in the living room talking on the landline phone where you can snoop from the other room. No, they can text, message, or snapchat in quiet – while you’re in the room.

We have cyberbullying now. Sexting. Cutting. Selfies. Online dating. None of these things were issues when I was a girl. Not all of technology is bad. Just like not all of life is bad. But with everything new that evolves or changes in our life, there can be hurdles to overcome as a parent.  How do you protect your child? How do you give them space without letting them run amok? How do you give them self esteem without indulging them? How do you stay close, without smothering?

So many questions.

So much information to take in and digest! So much time involved in trying to keep the pace.

For caring parents, just because they have a problem, doesn’t mean it’s a life-altering one. It doesn’t matter. Being a parent is still tough. It’s tough to instill guidelines and boundaries in a world that doesn’t have them. It’s tough to help your kids and teens feel ‘accepted’ without being ‘corrupted.’

So, do what you can do. Research what you can research. Set those guidelines and boundaries that are in the best interest of your child and your family. Talk often – even if your kids are annoyed with you. Because that’s what a loving parent does. It loves, protects, and sees the big picture – even when no one else can see it.

Parenting may be tougher today than a few generations ago – but we were called to parent these kids in THESE times. You have what it takes, even if you are on bended knee in prayer and tears some nights.

Hang in there. Keep loving. Keep believing in your family.  For they are irreplaceable.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When You Don't Have Someone To Do Something Special For You

Not everyone is blessed with close girlfriends. Not everyone has family in town that stands in the gap for you when you’re sick or hurting. Not everyone has a spouse who thinks ahead to do thoughtful things for them.

Today, I’m thinking of these people. These precious souls who sometimes feel so lonely. These tender hearts who long for someone to do something out of the blue for them – just because.

Not everyone has someone in their life who makes them feel special. I wish we all did, but we don’t.  Some are left wanting, wishing, hoping, and longing for those gestures of value, love, and recognition in their lives.

I know it must be so hard to get online and see pictures of other women celebrating with their girlfriends on their birthdays. I know it may seem like everyone else has a close network of love and support….but you.  But I promise you, that’s not the case. In fact, I’d bet that those of you who are lonely and wanting special friends in your life, are in the majority – not the minority.

Everyone needs someone. Everyone wants someone in their lives whom their heart can feel safe with and who they can call up in the middle of the night, when an emergency rises. Or even if there IS no emergency; it’s nice to know that someone is there in case you needed to call!

I’ve been in seasons of feeling like I didn’t have someone. I’m sure most people have. Luckily for me, they were short-lived. But here is what I did to survive it and what you can do too.

1) Pray, and grow closer to God. God is the ONE friend who will never leave your side. He longs to do special things for you on a daily basis and He longs for you to feel your value! Look for Him. Bare your heart and soul to HIM. And find that hole in your heart close, as He fills it with His love and His presence, while you wait for someone else to draw near to you.

2) Reach out – instead of in.  Every time I give to others and give of my time to others, I feel better about myself. I feel more loved and I have more love to give. There is always someone out there who has a need, and always someone who needs what you have to give them. Offer it. We always have love to give.

3) Do something special for yourself!  I know one birthday where I was feeling sorry for myself and I decided to pamper and treat myself to a special day. You know what? It worked! You don’t have to wait for someone else to come along in your life to do something special for you. Yes, we need one another, but until that support system comes along – do things for yourself and love on yourself a little bit. Get a pedicure, buy a new pair of earrings, go to a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Indulge in your favorite ice cream, or take the day off and read all day instead of doing chores!  We don’t need other people to say we are valuable – God has already told us that. So treat yourself like it!

I truly hope and pray that someone comes into your life who will love you just as you are.  Someone who will do thoughtful things for you – just because. Someone who makes you feel the valued person whom you are.  But in the meantime, take the actions needed to remind yourself that you are special – even if no one else is around to tell you that.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Just Need Confirmation

Oh, the heart and head. They can run off in so many different directions – all at once.

A soul doesn’t always know exactly what to believe; what to feel. It can seek to pray the right ways, but doubt it’s own motives. It can want something that it feels is best – but question whether it’s God’s best.

It needs confirmation. Confirmation that the direction you are headed in, is the right one. Confirmation that the prayers uttered from your lips, are the right ones. Confirmation that the tears you shed, aren’t in vain. That the instincts you hold are on target, and the wishes you hold tightly to your heart, are God-given.

We all seek confirmation at times. We all look for that rainbow in the sky. We all want that blatant sign to tell us what to do, where to go, and how to pray.

Sometimes, there is simply silence.

I’ve learned that silence doesn’t mean God isn’t working. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear you. Oftentimes, He IS working. He is moving and setting things in motion for the right results. It’s just not always on our timetable.

And it can be hard. It can be so hard to seek and feel like you are lost. I know. I understand. I’ve been there so many times.

“I just need confirmation,” I’ve cried out to God. But the great thing about my God is that He always stretches and grows me during these times. He shows me how to rely on my faith instead of the “seen” things. He shows me how He was with me always during those times, and He reminds me gently, that He is always faithful. Always.

I still ask for confirmation, sometimes. But if it doesn’t come, I wait. I continue to pray and I continue to seek. For I know one day, His hand will appear before me in a most glorious way. In a personal and loving way.

And my heart and soul will have its answer.