Grace In The Vacuum Cleaner Aisle

 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 2 Corinthians 4:15 NLT A few weeks ago while in the vacuum cleaner aisle at Target I was given the gift of grace. She was hurt, I was hurt. It was a misunderstanding, to say the least, but months had gone by and no communication. This was a ten year friendship that went off the rails fast and in the middle of ministry, motherhood and marriage it fell off to the side. In a season of hurt and frustration it was just not something I could deal with at the time. Sounds harsh, I know and I hate that, but when you are in the middle of a storm and life feels like your ship is going to go down, the first thing you start to do is throw things overboard. Off the side went things like; the gym, friendships that were outside the day to day bubble, and pretty much anything else that might lighten the load so you don’t go under in the season of storms. I’m not proud to admit it, at all actually, but I had to share with you what God did next. After wading through that season life got busy and although I wanted to reach out it was hard to take the chance of getting hurt again. I wanted to talk to her but I was too afraid. I would look on Facebook every so often to see how she was doing, looking...

It’s Almost A New Year! Is It Time For A Fresh Start?

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 ESV A brand new year — filled with excitement and anticipation. There is this sense of awe, wonder and expectancy.  This is the chance we have been waiting for to start new, to make a fresh start!  I think this is the reason why New Year’s resolutions get started, because the New Year feels like it holds lots of endless possibilities for each of us. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great planning week.  Every year during this week, my husband & I get away to rest, recover and relax. We find a sweet little get away spot, bring some of our favorite Christmas gifts and take some time to unplug for a bit. We also use this time to prepare our hearts, minds and family for the next year in our lives and ministry.  It is good to stop and celebrate all that we were a part of the year before, talk about our highs and lows as a family, as well as taking some time to map out what we hope to do in the next year.  It also helps us to reconnect after a busy Christmas season. In taking the time to reflect on our year, it helps us to better prepare for the next year.  It also helps to provide incredible insight as to what worked, what can be improved, what we would drop, add, or change all together. God made my life...

Ask The Hard Questions

In an effort to get to know each other better we need to be ready to ask the hard questions. Especially when it comes to our marriages, but truth be told, these questions can also be tweaked and applied to your family or your ministry as well. It all started a few weeks ago when my husband and I had the opportunity to sit down with two youth pastors and their wives. Being in ministry for over fifteen years we have a heart for young families in ministry. Both of these couples that came over are newlyweds and both are serving their local church. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to spend some time with them. They are so passionate about serving Christ and their love for their spouses and the ministry is a beautiful thing to see. It was our hope to be able to encourage them as they walk the road of marriage and ministry but before the end of the night we quickly realized that we were the ones being encouraged. Listen, I’m a firm believer that we are never too old to learn and never too young to teach so this was a perfect example of God preparing all our hearts for an honest, real and transparent look at life in the ministry. It was also a sweet picture of Titus 2 in action. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,...

The power of friends

Start children off on the way they should go,and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6) I heard their whispers, their giggles. I watched as they stood, side by side, singing praises. I overheard her explain communion to my daughter. Being three years older, she happily shared her wisdom. I glimpsed their young hands raised in the air as their voices sang songs in worship. The smile spread wide, yes Lord, thank You. Thank You for friends who shine of You. The friendship blossoming between the two is beautiful. They greet one another with ready smiles and warm hugs. Yes, this is friendship. I know, I know the importance friends will play in my daughter’s life. I know of their influence and the impact of their decisions. I am well aware that where my child’s friends go, she too will go. My own feet have traveled roads they never should have stepped on. I have partaken in feasts at tables I should not have sat near. Ashamedly, I have slipped away, hoping to be unnoticed. Whispers of truth have beckoned my return. By grace, I have served alongside the most beautiful of souls. Wisdom has been spoken to me by those who have gone before me, by those who choose to pour themselves into this wide eyed, often uncertain, woman. I know the power of friends because I have watched it manifest in my own life. Oh, that we would have friends who would sit with us quietly for days as Job’s did. They saw his pain was great. They wept. They spoke...

Telling stories

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. ~1 Peter 3:15, NLT When I attended a writing workshop with a well-known author, our assignment one day was to observe three different locations. At each we were to sit for 30 minutes and write down every little thing we observed. That evening, after we shared the details with each other, she told us that now they belonged to us. What the other women observed becomes part of my repertoire. I can absorb it, hold it close, make it part of my story, the fabric of who I am. It is mine. We have witnessed the power of story from an early age. Curling up to read bedtime stories, watching movies, listening to songs, chatting with our best friends over coffee, telling and retelling the stories that make us laugh. Or cry. Or wonder. After all, isn’t that why God gave us the Bible? It’s filled with all the advice and guidance we could ever need. It’s full of stories about people who mess up, who do terrible things. And who are forgiven. Welcomed home. Loved anyway. It may not specifically recount stories of moms who are overwhelmed and who bark at their kids and have to climb over mounds of dirty laundry and who are on the phone all the time, constantly shushing their kids as they choose work over family, again and again, even though they know better. But trust me, they’re in there somewhere. Because the stories in the Bible are ours. I...

Your way is the right way

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.  ~1 Samuel 17:38-40, NIV They mean well. They really do — your mom and dad, your sister, your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your Bible study group. And, most likely, you asked for their advice. I know I always do. But there is one thing they can never know. What God has in mind for you. It’s something you’ve got to figure out on your own. It’s what David did when he went to fight Goliath. Saul meant well. He tried to prepare David for this battle using what he knew had worked for him in the past. But what worked for Saul didn’t feel right for David. It didn’t fit him. So he took off the tunic and armor and grabbed some stones. Stones — now that was something he could work with. Something he knew. As many times as I’ve heard the David and Goliath story, I had always missed this. But now, to me, it’s one of the most significant parts of the story. People will not always agree with your decisions....

We’re A People, Not A Project

“Let love be genuine.” Romans 12:9a, ESV My personality type hates processes and loves projects. Though the Lord has been transforming me to become more steady and process-oriented for the sake of my family, my natural inclination and desire leans toward tackling projects. Wait, I don’t just tackle projects, I make them. What I mean by that is instead of putting something away after I’m finished with it, or washing dishes as I’m cooking, I’d rather wait until it’s practically a project worthy of production. I think I do that because I enjoy the satisfaction at the end. I almost feel I deserve a standing ovation. Tada! The kitchen’s clean! Look, Mount Laundry is no more (for about 2 seconds anyway). If I’m not careful, I can do the same thing in my relationships…forget to maintain them, wait until it’s become a mess to address stuff…spend time on the most urgent drama that’s erupted as a result of my procrastination (& that’s what it really is). Especially with my husband and kids. But they are not a project. They are people I deeply love, and I pray daily for the Lord to enable me to demonstrate my love to them in a steadier, deeper, and more attentive way. On the other hand, some people approach projects in a much more organized way. They set dates, goals & plan Bs & Cs. Their projects involve processes galore, not the other way around. While this is not me, I’m married to such a person. They are my closest friends. I’m drawn to these people. They make my chaotic thinking & ramblings...

The Lipstick Drawer

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8     How many lipsticks can one woman have??? It’s one of my things. I’m not a perfume girl or lured in by the newest lotion, but  I admit it…I LOVE lipstick. Every coffee cup that I sip from bears the lipstick marks! I’ve never been able to resist them in the drugstore and now that the modern grocery store is essentially a drug store too, I’m tempted at every corner. Listen, let me just be honest. I have a lot of lipsticks. I have them in my drawer, I have them in my car, I have gloss, I have matte, I have shimmer, I have scented; I have long wearing and I have shades for each season. I love me some lipstick. It was while making room for a few new shades when a detail became a Word. It’s no coincidence that a walk through Proverbs reveals so much wisdom on “lips” and the power they contain. Long before the modern day lipstick tube, the Lord had something to say about lips and the words that roll off of them. “Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.” Proverbs 8:6 “My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.” Proverbs 8:7 “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” Proverbs 12:22 The pages of Proverbs hold reminder after reminder. The Lord KNEW that we women would struggle in this arena that He spoke of lips...