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...

Breath of Heaven

It was almost 22 years to the day. I was 9 months pregnant and due on January 8th. That’s what THEY SAID; SHE had different plans. When the doctor finished his examination, he calmly stated that I would be having a baby, “TODAY.” “TODAY, as in TO-DAY?” “Yes, and we’ll need you to head to the hospital – NOW.” “What? That is NOT the plan.” “It is now and if you can’t assure us that you’ll head straight for the hospital, we can arrange for an ambulance.” I went out to my car,  a baby blue Ford Escort, on an absolutely frigid day in Chicago, ice and snow covering the ground. That little car needed time to warm up, so I sat reluctantly patient for a moment and waited, all alone. I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I WAS GOING TO HAVE A BABY! The journey had been a long one. I had prayed for years, endured fertility treatments for years and I knew the magnitude of this event. The day had arrived and it looked NOTHING like I had planned. My husband was downtown in a pre cell phone age, and I needed to get word to him. Travel plans needed to be changed. I still had Christmas shopping to do. I was told that I could not even PACK my own bag; I needed to get to the hospital immediately. As I sat there in the car, overwhelmed in the moment, a song came on the radio. Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, but the first time I HEARD it… ”...

Don’t Waste the Wait

Waiting isn’t a popular pastime. In a society of fast-this and fast-that, it’s easy to expect everything immediately. Waiting is often thought of as a time when you’re doing nothing while expecting something to happen. Although there are plenty of times when I get impatient, I’ve also learned that waiting can be a magnificent opportunity for growth. Whether I’m waiting for my husband to get back from his business trip, or for my next book to be published, I’ve gained some valuable insights while I’ve waited: *God can be trusted – He’s proven time and again that He has things under control. Waiting gives me the opportunity to put things in His hands and let Him orchestrate the details. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 *He’s given me this waiting period to prepare for what lies ahead – I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t consider the fact that it takes a significant investment of time and energy to write a book. Periods of waiting have helped me remain realistic. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Luke 14:28 *He has a plan for me that’s far better than anything I can come up with – Before time began, God planned out specific good works for me to do. Times of waiting allow me to seek Him and determine the next step He wants me to take. For we...

How to Draw Strength From Christ

When we're at our weakest, when it feels as if our knees will buckle, God's strength is seen most clearly in us. (2 Cor. 12:19) Or at least, that's what we say, but how does that work, exactly? We know Christ is living inside us (1 Cor. 3:16), that He empowers us by His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), but what does that look like in the day-to-day? How, when life completely levels us, can we draw strength from Christ? About five years ago, my husband and I developed a short-term obsession with rock climbing. This was crazy for numerous reasons, the most obvious of which is my incredible fear of heights. And yet, somehow, secured in my harness and attached to my husband by a long, thick rope, I felt better. Stronger. A little. But I'd still tremble. And I mean, tremble enough that my shakes became visible to our guide. He called it the sewing machine leg, and he assumed it came from fatigue. To an extent, it did. I certainly wasn't the strongest or most agile woman to ascend the Arkansas rock face I attempted to tackle that day. But I was determined to make it to the top. And I did, with my husband's help. When I'd begin to falter, I'd feel a tug. A quick glance below showed my sweet husband, pulling on my rope inch by inch. This added strength–his strength–pushed me to the top. Sometimes I envision God doing the same with us. He's secured us in our harnesses of salvation, attached us to Himself, and determined to, inch-by-inch, get us up and over...

When God Removes People from Your Life

The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.  Judges 7:7 It was Friday night. I absently stared at the TV, thinking about how lonely I felt. Looking through my phone book, I knew that the options were not good. The friends who would be available on a Friday night would quickly offer me a tour back into my life before Christ… Places I knew not to visit anymore. My new Christian friends were all busy with their husbands and family. It was me, my TV… and… my Bible. I glanced down and picked it up. A new Christian, I had heard that Jesus was all I needed, but was unsure of how to let Him fill the void. My weekends had been busy for as long as I remembered, filled with friends and many invitations. However, several months earlier, I had attended a retreat that forever changed my life. I surrendered my life to Christ that beautiful September morning and experienced an unprecedented joy and peace. I spent the following weeks and months on a spiritual high, attending a new Christian discipleship class, prayer meetings and various church functions. I had made several new friends, but they were, well… new. And most of them were married, anyway. Loneliness filled my heart on the weekends. That particular weekend was the hardest of all. As I held my Bible, tears streamed down my face. One of my best friends of eight years had turned her back on me. We attended college...

Moms, Do You Ever Feel Locked in Instant Replay Mode

“How many times must I tell you …” Parenting would be so much easier if only we all had recording devices we could play back at will. When a behavior arises, simply fast forward to the appropriate statement, point the device at the infracting child, and hit play. Then walk away, problem solved. Imagine how peaceful our summers could be! Although I doubt that’d be effective. Shoes would still clutter the hallway and bedrooms would still look like someone swept through with a leaf blower. Because words by themselves are just that–words, and no child goes from toddler to adult overnight. In parenting, the key is to focus on progress not perfection, blanketed with equal amounts of patience, training, consistency, and accountability. Develop patience Children don’t learn overnight, and often, every step forward is accompanied with half a step, and sometimes an entire leap, backwards. But then again, isn’t that how it is with each of us? Habits, wisdom, and integrity take time to develop.  Our child may need to hear, “Put your plate away” twenty times before they begin to think of it on their own, then learn to follow through. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being defiant. It simply means they need to be reminded. A lot. Until that behavior becomes habit (then you can begin to tackle a new one). Train Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). In other words, don’t pester, nag, scream at, and belittle. Instead, train. 😉 When our daughter was young, I walked into her room...

God Sees You

I was on my way to church, gripping the steering wheel as if I was hanging on for dear life. The girls woke up cranky.  The oldest refused to wear the outfit I picked out and the littlest pooped all the way up and out of her diaper which caused me to change her outfit not once, but twice. Great start to the day. That frazzled piece of hair that had slipped out of my ponytail just refused to stay out of my face no matter how hard I tried to blow it away. The whole scene was definitely a “Jesus take the wheel” moment. It was a rough morning and it wasn’t.even.noon.yet. Actually it had been a rough week..month..year. The transition of one child to two was a bit more than I had bargained for. I vowed to let John have it when he got back from his business trip. I parked and stared straight ahead. I just needed a minute. Taking a deep breath I put the stray hair back in to place, climbed out of the car, and slapped a smile on my face just like the clown we saw at the park the day before. I held my head upright with one little on my hip and the other little hand in hand. With my painted on smile I was holding back the tears. I dropped the girls off at the kids center and headed to the worship center to find the closest empty seat all the while wondering if anyone really even cared. Did anyone see me? Do they just have any clue? Does God see...

The Big Wait

  Sisters…in the great casting call of life, all of us are waiting for something: a new thing, good news, a reward, a beginning or an end. And, in the wait, are we intent on becoming, or beholding? Sigh. It’s a heavy question. Before I met my husband, I was a lady in waiting. Then, I was a college graduate, in waiting, for a job. I waited for the job, landed it, and found out a few months later that I was pregnant. A new wait began…a momma-to-be in waiting. In the ups and downs and round and rounds, we wait. And, it’s often about what we’re becoming, isn’t it? Not that it’s a bad thing to anticipate change and growth and maturity and even righteousness. These things make waiting a little more bearable, because it keeps things exciting. But, we all know that the longer the wait, the less exciting it becomes. And THAT is the point of contention. Recently, our family made a big decision. And, at first, there was a great deal of confirmation and adrenaline with it. But the wait became long — longer than expected. Gradually, the big wait felt more like, um…the big weight. So, I did what any upright Christian lady would do (being sarcastic, of course): I got a little bothered by the long wait and got a bit wordy with my prayers and petitions. Do you do that? Suddenly, I had a lot of genius ideas about how to get the ball rollin’ and begged the Lord for signs and more confirmation. I acted out. So Jesus did what only...

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...