Have you learned to rejoice?

 Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) No, I do not rejoice always I did not rejoice when my daughter went to the emergency room. Five months later, there was no rejoicing when my husband took a trip there. The following year, when I took my own trip to the ER, there was no rejoicing. No, I did not rejoice when a friend’s husband walked out on her and their children. Rejoicing was nowhere to be found when I found out a dear friend was given a diagnosis of an invasive, aggressive cancer. In these moments, there was heartache. My head spun, and my emotions were a train wreck. But rejoicing? None was found in the middle of those moments. During the disagreements and disappointments in life? No, I do not rejoice. Seriously, Paul? Did Paul honestly mean to say we are to rejoice always, and to give thanks in all circumstances? Surely, he wrote that on a good day: a really good day. But alas, I have looked and I have studied, and I cannot find a loophole in Paul’s words. Trust me, I have tried. Paul, who was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and imprisoned again, tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Do you know what this means? We are to rejoice, even on those hard, horrible days. And, we are to pray, not just during our morning quiet times. We are to give thanks in all circumstances. What? All circumstances? Yes, all means all. When...

Will You Say Yes?

The Power of Yes Last year, I said yes to attending a conference in Atlanta. Then, I said yes to applying to be a speaker. After sharing on stage, I was approached about attending an intensive training in Colorado. I quickly said no. But, the individual who approached me was convincing, using my own words to explain why I should attend. Although it did not make sense to me, I said yes. In September of last year, thirteen of us sat in a room in Winter Park, Colorado, sharing vision, goals, mission statements, and more. During those days on the mountain, we clarified our messages, shared our hearts, and formed incredible bonds. Two women in attendance had formed a women’s ministry. As I heard them share what they wanted to achieve through their ministry, I knew I needed to come alongside of them. When they held their first conference two months later, I was there, teaching and sharing. This opportunity would have never come had I not said yes to going to Atlanta, and to sharing my story. If those two women had not said yes to attending the intensive in Colorado, our paths may not have crossed. There is incredible power in our yeses. A Yes Can Change A Life Time and time again, I read stories in the Bible of lives being changed because they said yes to Jesus. Yes, I will follow you. Yes, I believe. Yes, I will go where you send me. Yes, I will serve the least of these.  I recently read, in Matthew 9, of two lives drastically changed by their yes....

Whom Shall I Fear?

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) Frozen In Fear My miniature poodle, Betty, and I were out for our daily walk, enjoying the shining sun and cool breeze. We were walking on the same one mile route we typically follow. Yes, I had seen the two, large dogs running loose, but I thought nothing of them. They were not coming our way, and we are creatures of habit. My, how things can change in an instant. Our walk was almost finished when the two dogs ran towards us. Everything happened so quickly. I did not have time to reach down and pick up my dog. Just keep walking, they will go away. One dog sniffed, the other simply began attacking Betty. With one large dog on my left, and my dog being attacked on my right, fear quickly filled me. What do I do? Are they about to attack me? How do I keep us both from being seriously injured? I felt completely trapped, a feeling I despise intensely. In a gut reaction, I yanked Betty’s leash. Her harness prevented her from choking as I pulled her through the air and into my arms. My voice may or may not have been working. In my head I was yelling at the dogs to go. Honestly, I do not know if any words ever escaped my lips. As Betty flew through the air and out of the dog’s jaws, a man had jumped out of his truck, yelling...

The Beauty of Submission

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (Ephesians 5:21-23, NIV) Entering A Touchy Subject Submission. Did you cringe as you read the word? Did you shudder as you thought of it? The topic of submission can be a touchy one, but I have never been one to shy away from hard topics. As I meet with women, as a life coach and as a speaker, I see more and more our need to understand what submission means. I am tired of not understanding, of having others twist Scripture to meet their own agenda. Aren’t you? I long to understand because I love my Father. This is a lesson He has been teaching me, and one I will continue to share. Submission Misunderstood I remember a moment as a single adult, standing in a church. A male friend of mine approached me, and in the course of our discussion he said, “Submit. You are a woman, you must submit to me.” To this day, I am unsure if he was teasing or not. I explained to him he was not my husband, pastor, or employer, so he was in fact wrong. No, I did not have to submit to him. I vaguely recall a look of shock washing over his face. He may have walked away. Honestly, it was twenty years ago, and the conversation left more of an impression...

I am not God

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASV) I am not God. This information is not breaking news, nor will it shock anyone. However, I am beginning to see the need to admit, “I am not God. Neither are you.” Logically, we know this to be true. Yet, we go about living as if we are in control of every moment of every day. In a broken world, where all seems lost, I believe I must stand up and take control. Someone has to, right? I do my best to control situations and circumstances, conversations and people. I stand on truth, and have become convinced it is my duty to ensure others believe that truth. When chaos abounds, I work diligently to restore peace. My name is not Jehovah Shalom. Jesus saves, not me. I do not know the number of stars in the sky. I cannot count the grains of sand near any ocean, or in my own backyard. The number of my days are unknown to me. In fact, I have no idea how many hairs lay on my own head. In reality, I know so little. I can do so little. Sarah, or Sarai as she is originally named, once believed she needed to take control. In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham, then called Abram. God promises descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. God promises Abram’s descendants will take possession of...

What do you do when you fall?

I lacked grace. Mercy was nowhere in sight. Instead, I chose to be headstrong, stubborn, and consumed with my own judgements. I was right, my friend knew it, and I certainly knew. In the heat of the moment, I was hell bent on making sure my thoughts were heard. Truth needed to be spoken, right? Yet, I sounded like nothing more than a clanging cymbal because I lacked love (1 Corinthians 13:1). As I focused solely on being right, I lost sight of the person standing before me. I diminished her situation, her struggle. I diminished her as I hurled my words at her. Negating the reason she had approached me, the reason the conversation began, I became wrapped in my own knowledge and insights. I puffed myself up to the point I nearly imploded. There she sat in front of me, wincing as I rubbed salt into her already wounded heart. I can prophecy and move mountains with my faith, but am nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13:2). While nearly breaking my arm patting myself on the back with how accurate my rebuttal was, I finally paused to look at my friend. Her head hung down. Her shoulders hunched forward as a gentle stream of tears flowed down her cheeks. What had I done? How could I have been so callous, so prideful? Was being right more important than helping her to navigate the situation she faced? Yes, she had made a poor decision, but now, so had I. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7), but my words had lacked love. I had fallen hard,...

Breathe Mama, Just Breathe

I See You, Mama You are work so hard. I see you. Some of you are working in the home, and some out of the home. All of you invest so much of yourself into your family. There is little time for rest because you are caring so diligently for those around you. I see you. You are always prepared with band-aids, snacks, tissues, and hugs. Your words breathe life and love into the little souls clamoring for your attention. While a nap sounds wonderful, you choose to read a book one more time through weary eyes. You long for your own space, yet your arms ache to hold your little loves. I see you. Breathe, Mama I can hear the worry in your voice. You question if you are doing okay. Yes, I know you second guess your decisions and the way you interacted with them not too long ago. The hard situations, those tricky conversations cause you to wonder if you are up to this task of raising another human. Motherhood seems to be a continuing tug-o-war of wanting a few minutes alone and wanting to hold them close. I want you to know, Mama, you are doing okay. Take a deep breath: a deep, cleansing breath. You deserve those few moments alone, a few minutes of quiet, a bit of rest. Breathe, Mama. That hard conversation you were willing to enter? It made a difference. The decision you made to love fiercely in that hard situation? You made a bigger impact than you know. You Know There’s A Bigger Picture Train up a child in the...

What Will You Give?

Easter Week Easter is a few short days away. We will worship on Good Friday and rejoice on Easter Sunday. We know the story: Jesus came, was crucified, and rose again. The grave would not be his final resting place. No, Jesus would take his rightful place at God’s right hand. Days before Jesus’ crucifixion, religious leaders were yet again challenging Jesus’ authority. It is here, in the days before the cross, I have been challenged. Give It Away My husband and I are inconsistent about reviewing our budget. We know our expenses, and they do not change much month to month. I know how much to pull out for the upcoming month. We have tried, oh we have tried, with spreadsheets and conversations, to be diligent in this task. I promise we have. But, we are consistently inconsistent. There is one category, and only one, we have agreed will only see an increase: our giving. We give above the ten percent, but I wonder, are we giving as much as we could? Learn From A Widow And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4) She gave all she had to live on: two coins worth very little. Yet, to the Savior? She gave a...

The Lie We Have Believed

You and I have bought into a lie. It was not intentional, on your part or mine. Slowly but surely, we have fallen deeper and deeper into its grasp. This lie has invaded our communities, our culture, and even our churches. I do not believe this lie was meant to harm us. No, the harm came when we took hold of it and ran away with it. We gave it more meaning than it was ever meant to have. We are the ones who gave it the wings now beating us senseless. What is the lie you and I have bought into? We are enough. I know: I am as shocked as you are. We are going to have to do some exploring to discover why the “you are enough” mantra is a lie. We are going to have to be honest. Yes, we are going to have to take a good, honest look at what those three little words mean, and at our own selves (gulp). But, we are women who desire freedom. There is no freedom in lies. We long to walk in truth because truth sets us free. You are enough. We read it, and we see it splashed across social media. How desperately we want to believe we are good, that we do not need to compare ourselves to others any longer. In our comparisons, we have begun to feel less than, and we are tired of it. Enough is enough because I am enough, we declare! We raise our fists and dare anyone to defy us. But sister, can I tell you what I...

I don’t need a cheerleader

Around every corner, the messages are shouted. You are enough. BeYOUtiful. You are strong. Just be you. You’ve got this. You are beautiful. These well meaning sentiments are splashed across social media pages and in the pages of magazines. May I be honest with you? I am tired of them: all of them. I have grown weary of the “I am woman, hear me roar!” anthem. Many days, I just want the pom-poms to be laid down. All these fancy, pretty posts telling me how strong and wonderful I am are utter fallacy. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy  4:2, NIV) I know myself. At forty-one years old, I can own up to my flaws. I wear makeup to hide and cover up facial features, and I select clothes to hide areas of my body. Honestly, I would prefer to not “just be me.” In a moment of “just being me,” I yelled at my daughter in the middle of Disney World. The harshness of my tone caused her eyes to fill with tears and her lip to tremble. Strong? Nope: not me, not then. I was tired, stressed over the rapid fire questions I was being asked, and completely incapable of handling it. In the crowd, in the constant motion and noise, I lost my mind. Seeing both my daughter’s reaction and the look of surprise on my husband’s face was enough for me to know I don’t got this. I don’t need a cheerleader to fill me with feel good messages....