Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

Do the Work

A week into the new year. This is the time of year when I realize just how big my goals and ambitions were. It happens every year—at least every year that I set goals. I always start so well. And fall so fast. It seems the bigger the goal, the faster I fall. Can you relate? I have a feeling Gideon could. Gideon, the man who was threshing wheat in a wine press, has been on my mind so much lately. God gave him a task to do that wasn’t just out of his comfort zone, it was way beyond everything he thought he could do. He was to deliver Israel from the Midianites—an enemy that was compared to a swarm of locusts. They swooped in, ate and destroyed everything in sight, and then high-tailed it out, leaving Israel to starve for another year. And God told Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:15-16 That’s a big job. No, it’s a huge one. And look at what God replied to Gideon’s question of how he was to do that. “Surely I will be with you…” The secret to Gideon’s success was God’s presence. It was nothing that Gideon or his band of 300 merry men did. The one thing Gideon needed most was the thing God promised him. “Surely...

He Gives Rain… In.Due.Season.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” Leviticus 26:3-5 (ESV) – emphasis added The land was vast, and yet, seemingly desolate. A desert of sorts, the people knew that, unlike the Egyptians who had the fertile Nile to irrigate their crops, Israel was solely dependent on the rain season to be able to harvest bountiful crops. When I visited Israel many years ago, I remember listening to the tour guide describing the abundance of its harvest. I had never tasted fresher fruit and vegetables before. Indeed, this tiny piece of land yields some of the most beautiful crops on earth. I find it especially interesting that of all places on the planet, God would choose to place His chosen nation in a land that would completely depend on rain to produce successful harvests. But then again, The Holy God of Israel knew the heart of His people. Had he chosen Egypt as the Promised Land, the people would gladly depend on their own ability to channel the waters of the Nile into their crop beds. Rain would not have been a deal breaker every year, necessarily. However, the success of any given harvest season in Israel did not depend on...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Get Over Yourself

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV Listen, I know when you first read the title you were probably taken aback a bit, but I hope you hear my heart on this–sometimes we really do just need to get over ourselves. We live in a world where it’s all about ourselves and what makes “me” happy. The problem starts when we live a life that is only focused on ourselves then we can become entitled, self-righteous, judgmental and sometimes downright ugly. When our thoughts and lives are filled with only thoughts about us and our needs/wants, then the rest of our relationships become strained or even nonexistent. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who only thinks about themselves. So, what’s a person to do who is struggling with this? First, I’d say get a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness”. It has radically changed my thoughts on this whole concept. In his book he talks about a gospel-humility that takes thinking of ourselves right off the table. How do we even do that? Through lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of practice. I read this book over a year ago and it’s still been something I wrestle with daily, but something that I intend to keep on wrestling with and working through. We spend our days scurrying around trying to fill our lives with more of stuff to make us happy, but the reality is that the “stuff” we long for isn’t really going to bring us the fulfillment we...

Rubik’s Cube Algorithm

After weeks of effort, my 12-year-old son completed the Rubik’s Cube. The fact that he even wanted to engage in this challenge blows my mind. As a child, the Rubik’s Cube was an impossibility for me. Even with my vibrant imagination, I could not conceive of a reality where I would ever figure out the Rubik’s mystery. The more I slid the color cubes around, the more I messed up the color patterns. I remember one time I figured out one side of the Rubik’s Cube and stopped there. Every time I tried to complete another color pattern, I would rearrange my finished side. I decided that I did not want to risk losing my one completed side to solve the other five. I didn’t realize that in order to achieve the color pattern for all six sides, the Rubik’s Cube would first have to go through disorder. My son explained that cracking the code is not about focusing on the color pattern, but rather on the algorithms of all the turns. An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed to solve a problem. Focusing on the color pattern will only lead to defeat, but focusing on the movement of each turn will lead to victory. There is a process that can be employed to complete every Rubik’s Cube. It’s not a mystery at all. In fact, if the algorithm is followed, anyone can solve the Rubik’s Cube. It may seem disorderly at first, but—color-by-color and side-by-side—the Rubik’s Cube will fall into place. The same is true for our lives. God has an algorithm for...

Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

Choosing Strength When Life Gets Hard

We were going through a crazy-tough time, one of the most difficult our marriage had faced, and I began to crumble. To pull away. To isolate. Until one afternoon, my husband pulled me to him, cupped my face in his hands, and locked an intense gaze on mine. “I need you to be strong.” In that moment, it was like a jolt hit my selfish, whining heart. He needs me. My family needs me. And suddenly, I was no longer the victim in our mess. I was a warrior. A woman who could make the choice to hold tight to her family. To protect those I loved, to set the tone in my home, and to point us all to God’s never-failing strength. For when we are weak but rely solely on Him, we find He is more than strong enough to carry us through. The result of that prayer and my determination to follow through? Our marriage grew stronger. Our family grew stronger. And Jesus Christ became the defining factor in it all. More than that, my husband and I started a trend that day, one birthed in decision and continued through a daily choice. When times get tough, we grow closer. Now I know, according to the oft spoken clichés, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen, right? But I suspect it doesn’t always. During times of trial, families either grow closer or farther apart. We don’t remain stagnant. We never simply tread our way through a crisis. We either to cling to Christ and one another, or we isolate, self-protect, and bit by bit destroy those...

Boundaries of Love

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:4) You don’t love me! You don’t trust me! I remember the words, the phrases I shouted at my parents during my teen years. I was absolutely certain they would prefer me to stay inside the house, talk to no one, do nothing, go nowhere. Surely I had the cruelest parents on earth. The fact those words escaped my lips or that I had those thoughts is ridiculous now. Many years have passed and I know they were protecting me. A parent who sets boundaries for their child loves deeply. Having a child now, I understand. Even at her young age, she has questioned why she cannot do certain things. She asks why I will not let her go to various places. I explain that her father and I are doing our best to keep her safe while also letting her grow. I have to ask her to trust our decisions. A few temper tantrums are worth keeping her protected. She has more freedom, and more safety, within the boundaries we have drawn. I recently read a study which found that, when a playground is surrounded by a fence, children tend to use the entire playground area. Without a fence, children confine themselves to a particular area and will not use the space allotted to them. Fascinating isn’t it? While we may outwardly rebel against the fence, inwardly we are comforted by its presence. In the book...