A New Lens For Relationships

True encouragement can’t take place in isolation.” Matt Mashburn A people person who pulls away from people. A person who has been hurt, wronged, and wounded by others' actions or words. A person who would like hide in a cave away from everyone. What do all these things have in common? They are all at times me…and maybe even sometimes you too. No, you would probably never admit it out loud, but if you were looking deep down into your heart, you might see that it’s true. It wasn’t until church one Sunday that I discovered these things about myself. As I feverishly wrote down notes from the sermon (which you can listen to here, on 7/28/13 with the same message title) it struck me that he was talking about me…and to top it off, that “he” was actually my husband. He and I had not talked about his sermon that day, which is rare since we usually do, so the frankness of his message hit me even harder when the reality of his words started to sink in.  As a people person who has been in ministry for over ten years it was funny to me that this actually rang true in this season of my life. Let’s dig into his sermon a little bit and see what we can uncover together. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) Chances are...

Teens, Sex, and “the talk”

If you have a teen, sex is on your radar. As I mentioned in last month’s article, we live in a sex-saturated culture, and try as we might to fight against it, cultural influences inevitably seep into our churches, our families, and ultimately, our teens’ hearts. But the issue of teen promiscuity, I believe, goes much deeper than cultural influences, although the cultural tug is strong. It’s also an issue of biology, morality, and emotional health. As with any issue our youth face, we must approach our teen’s purity with honest analytical thinking and deep, authentic communication. We must prayerfully initiate those tough conversations, always seeking to look past the surface to our kid’s hearts, fears, desires, struggles, and motivations. Push for communication, even when it feels awkward I’ll admit, sex is not a topic I like to approach with our daughter. Nor is it one she’s enthusiastic about. But it’s a conversation we must have, because if we don’t, she’s likely to adopt the ideas and beliefs of those around her and those ideas and beliefs may not always be godly, positive, or moral.  Begin by identifying and addressing your own conversation blocks Linda* was sexually abused as a child, so conversations regarding sex were always a struggle for her. Because of this, she shied away from open and indepth discussions with her teens. Instead, she talked about it in a vague sense, focusing more on a “don’t do it” approach. Unfortunately, this didn’t address the obstacles her teens would face nor why sex out of marriage was harmful. All of her children became sexually active during their...

How to Leave a Lasting Impression

It’s true that things don’t often go according to plan. I was scheduled to speak at a dinner in the evening, and had designed a bookmark as a small gift for the ladies who would be attending. The place holders just had to be printed and cut at the copy shop. I was already thinking about the quiet lunch my husband, Steve, and I would be able to share before we headed back home – bookmarks in hand. But there was a small problem. The printer was unable to produce a copy with the same colors that were on the original bookmark. Their machines weren’t calibrated correctly. I could feel myself begin to tense up. But it was only a little after ten, and there were several other copy shops in town. Two stores later, and no closer to a finished product, I was getting really concerned. Steve dropped me off at home so I could review my notes for the banquet, and told me he would take care of the bookmark dilemma. True to his word, Steve handed me a completed stack of photo-quality bookmarks as I headed to my presentation. I couldn’t have done it without him. A priceless attitude His actions demonstrated selfless love. I know he had a thousand things he could have been doing: catching up on things around the house and yard, or spending time with our pets. But instead, he was willing to help me with a project I should have completed earlier in the week. What a guy! With this one act, my husband showed me what a Christ-like attitude looked...

Finding Mr. Right

Love doesn't tally wrongs or celebrate injustice . . . Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. 1 Corinthians 13:5-6, 7 The Voice I used to have a “Mr. Right” doll. My husband gave him to me one Christmas and told me that whenever I thought he was “Mr. Wrong” he was going to point to the guy on the shelf and say “there’s the guy you really want!” The doll’s real name was “Mr. Wonderful,” and I could push a button and “Mr. Right” (as hubby called him) would say exactly what I wanted to hear: “Yes dear, anything you want dear. I love you dear. You look wonderful dear…” Great, I thought, just great. I’ve got a perfect husband doll instead of a perfect husband. Mr. Wonderful was supposed to be a funny gift, but I didn’t think it was funny. In fact, I found it mildly disturbing. I wondered if my husband felt like I was expecting him to be perfect all the time, and was not so subtly hinting that I needed to lighten up on him. I hid the doll in the basement storage room. I did not like my “Mr. Right.” At all. The truth was that I had wanted a “Mr. Right” husband, and believed for too many years that my husband should live up to my expectations. After all, that showed how much he really loved me didn't it? If he put off changing a light bulb when I asked him to, I felt unloved. If he couldn’t listen to...

The Journible – My Newest Obsession

Do you journal? Admittedly, I am not consistent about writing all the things that go on in my life in a journal. I write the BIG things in a quasi-journal. Sometimes I write my prayers, but it seems like I can say a whole lot more when I talk to God rather than writing.  I am a tad envious of those who journal consistently. They appear to eloquently pour out their thoughts and musings into a beautiful leather-bound volume that one-day might be proper material for publishing. Me? Not so much. My musings are more like ranting, whining or complaining. Rarely do I journal anything that would ever be of interest to another person. All of that is why I am so excited to share with you a new product I happened upon about 3 months ago. I was reading Jeff Randleman’s blog one day and he was introducing the Journible. Whaaat??? A Journible? It sounded like someone had been sipping vodka out of a cereal bowl when they decided to talk about their journal. However, because I know Jeff consistently puts out top quality blog posts, I kept reading. “The idea for th[e Journible] comes from Deuteronomy 17:18, where God commands the kings of Israel to hand-write their own copy of the Torah, or book of the law. The purpose of this was so that they would carry it with them always, read it, learn from it, and lead the people accordingly. It's interesting to note that 3400 years later, educators have been discovering that most people learn kinesthetically, by doing or writing things out for themselves.” Journibles are...

What I Don’t Like To Talk About: Body Image

Join Sarah Francis Martin in a video blog based on her book Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama. In this video Sarah tackles a topic she just does not like to talk about: Body Image. Let's find freedom with our body image issues and deal with our "triggers."   Be sure to check out Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade of Drama! Stress Point is a real, raw and relevant look at 10 major life issues that most 20somethings deal with. By putting Christ in the center of each Stress Point, we find godly success, purpose and well-being {makes a great gift for a recent grad or a 20-something in your life headed off to college this fall}  ...

Why We Shouldn’t Jump at Every Opportunity

If you were to offer me a cup of coffee right now, I’d gladly take one – with cream and sweetener, thank you very much. Were you to ask if I wanted to take a trip with you to someplace exotic, (exotic, by the way, means intriguingly unusual or different, which includes any place without my kids, because it’s unusual for me to be without them) I’d jump at the chance, probably without even asking you where. You see, there are just some things I don’t even have to give a lot of thought to – they are obvious. At least that’s what I thought until I read the story of the Gibeonites. Now, don’t run away because I threw out an Old Testament name. I won’t use thee or thou, I promise. Hang with me for a story. Joshua, is leading the Israelites into the Promised Land – the land God has given them. But they have to conquer the peoples of the land. God said, “Wipe them out.” He knew this was necessary because if they didn’t, the people’s bad habits and worship of other gods would rub off on the Israelites. So the Isrealites, led by Joshua, are cleaning house, so to speak. But there was a sneaky group called the Gibeonites. They knew Joshua would kill them all, so they put on their rattiest clothes and got some old cracking wineskins (think ancient igloo coolers), threw dirt on their faces and rode into town. These scoundrels made it look like they had traveled from afar, instead of right next door. Then they begged the Isrealites...

Can Spirits be Restored?

“…But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Mark 9:22 NIV  “Do you remember your words in Spirits Can be Restored?” my friend asked.  Of course I remembered that devotional. I compared an empty, neglected, vandalized, old Georgian-style house to human spirits that have been hurt emotionally, physically, or both, and sometimes even broken.  “Go back and read it again,” my friend said.  I hung up the phone and pulled out the July/August 2010 issue of The Upper Room and read:  “…As I pass by, I think how beautiful it (the old house) must have been in times past…How I wish someone would move in and fix up the place! I know it has the potential to be beautiful again.” “…But when we allow Christ Jesus into our hearts, he can heal the scars caused by life and repair our wounded spirit. And unlike that old house on my street that could be too costly to restore, the high price of our restoration has been paid by Christ, the Master Carpenter, whose work is always of highest quality. We are never so broken that God cannot restore us.”  I lay the magazine on the table and dropped my head into my hands. Lord, I thought I knew what brokenness was when I wrote those words. I never dreamed of our business failing, going through bankruptcy, problems in my marriage, divorce – all happening at the same time. Lord, if…  And then God reminded me of the story in Mark 9 where the father brought his son to Jesus for healing. The father said, “But...