Respecting Our Kids (Intro)

Wow, my thoughts about this topic are completely commandeering my morning. If I sound especially passionate in my writing today it’s because God is digging deep in the garden of my heart…and because of my spiritual gifts of teaching and encouraging, I feel like I have to share.

First of all, my ideas of parenting changed completely through attending an Empowered to Connect seminar in April 2015 and then continuing to study and practice their teaching all summer. This training is specifically for parents and caretakers of children from hard places, whether that’s a foster care situation, trauma at an early age, or adoption. It’s for families who are raising kids who have experienced loss at a time they needed attachment and someone they could trust the most. But as I listened and as I have learned this summer, I have grown to believe this way of relating is for EVERYONE! It has revolutionized my home and now is revolutionizing my heart, affecting every relationship, beyond my children…and the real key to it all is respect. Yes, love, of course. But one of the ways love is shown is through the multi-faceted concept of respect.

Every person wants to feel respected, like they matter, like they are an equal, and like their voice is worthy of being heard. Every person needs to be able to share how they are feeling without fear of punishment. Every person deserves this and innately desires this, because we’re made in the image of God and by the hands of God! Whether we struggle at times with this concept of self image or not, something inside of us is always pushing us to know we are special and precious.

Is it possible that we teach our kids they are fearfully and wonderfully made, as Psalm 139 tells us, and expect them to grow up to have a great self-esteem, but then talk to them on a daily basis like we would talk to no other human being on this planet? I say every child needs respect whether they come from hard places or not, whether they’re fragile in the area of feeling like they belong or not, because it doesn’t matter how steady and strong your foundation is, none of us appreciate a lack of respect being shown to us and when there is a lack of respect we struggle to respond correctly in that moment. When the cashier says in an exhausted, sarcastic tone, “Are you gonna swipe your card or what?” When your spouse says, “I know I told you I would do this, but I did this instead…I’ll do your thing later.” When the person you were in a fender bender with yells, “What is wrong with you?” The three attitudes behind these examples…I have had them all with my children at times and that makes me sad.

It is possible to raise children with respect without them thinking they are in control and equal in regard to running the household. Here’s the good news: They don’t want to be in control and they don’t want to run the household. They simply want their ideas and words to be listened to, their feelings and desires considered, and to be spoken to and treated with unconditional positive regard.

This week I’ll be sharing blogs about this topic and will give examples of how we can change disrespectful habits into life giving, connecting interactions with our kids. I hope I can relay to you how imperfect I am at this, yet how much reward I already am receiving — I can see it in their eyes.

Being respected is being loved.

#HowToBuild: Why We Fast

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short blog series called #HowToBuild, about building ourselves up in our most holy faith. I wrote about being in the Word, prayer, worship, and about the enemy. I cannot even tell you how attacked I was after writing that blog about the enemy! The Lord really did allow Satan to sift me, like I wrote in the most recent blog, about Jesus and Peter. I felt dazed and confused for awhile, knocked down and not knowing what hit me. I came to the Lord and His Word but in every way I just felt unable to concentrate and get anywhere. And because I saw how valuable fasting can be in times like this, when things in the physical realm are unbearable and life in the spiritual realm doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough, I want to tag on another blog to that series…

Why We Fast.

I went through a time where I didn’t fast often at all, because I couldn’t really remember why it mattered. Honestly! I had this idea in my head that fasting was pretty much like holding my breath until God gave me what I was asking for, like “I’m not going to eat until that person is healed!” Um…I didn’t think that was quite right.

But in the sifting, in the disappointment and fear, it began to be really clear to me by God’s grace that I had to find a way to get more of His truth and power in me. Not only could I not be the wife and mom and witness I wanted to be if I did not have more of His Word and truth and love in me, but I could not survive on the inside, in the place where joy and peace was so desperately needed.

It’s clear to me now that when I am inconsistent in patience and love with my family, really the problem behind this is my inconsistency of coming and being filled by the living Lord Jesus and all His goodness.

That requires time. That requires attention. That requires setting aside escapes. That requires setting aside distractions. So for me, that requires fasting, and personally I fast from things like social media and Netflix because I know that’s where I go when I can’t handle things going on in my life. But what do I really need when I can’t handle things going on in my life, when I’m really hurting? I need Jesus, the same Jesus Mary and Martha cried to when their brother died, the same Jesus who looked with compassion on the masses. I need fellowship with Him and understanding of His parables. I need to know what I can expect from God, what happens when I pray, how to pray! I need to know He loves me, that others have suffered and made it through, and what faith really is! Sure, I’ve heard a lot of it before, but yesterday’s manna is stale. I have to gather, today, my portion.

Fasting is not about getting what we want in our prayer life.

Fasting is not about holding our breath, thinking if we take this drastic measure, He will do what we ask. He’s going to do what we ask if He wants to, I don’t think we have to fast to make it happen. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

Fasting is about prioritizing our spiritual nourishment for the marathon we are in, with great expectation that our inner and outer man will reflect the strength, wisdom, and peace we gain from Him.

Fasting is about feeding the spirit, which sometimes requires starving the flesh. It’s about focusing on the invisible, when we would normally choose the easier route: focusing on what we can see and touch and be quickly comforted by.

I’m at a place in my walk with God where I don’t have exact time frames of fasting, exact goals or beginning or ends, because then it becomes about the outer man, and my own self control. I want fasting to be about gaining a heart of wisdom, a life that chooses Him because I see the bounty there as opposed to what I would end up with if I spent that free time in another way. He wants to set our feet on higher ground, to look at our problems from a platform set up outside of the situation, rather than drowning in waves we can’t get our heads above.

Whatever it takes to get to that place, and stay at that place, oh, Jesus, give us grace to do it!

That Our Faith Would Not Fail

Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked permission to sift him like wheat but that He was going to be praying for him, that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:31-32) Then Jesus gave Peter a picture of what it would look like to follow Him. He said: You’ll be taken places you do not want to go. You’ll have zero control. When Peter asked if the others would have it that bad, Jesus answered: None of your business and not your problem! You must follow Me. (John 21:18-22) Whew. Those must have been some life altering moments for Peter. And like a few other life altering moments for Peter that I can call to mind from Scripture, I fit in his shoes quite well. Stepping out, sinking. Demanding, head lowering. Zealous, unfaithful.

What can we take from these encounters of Jesus with Peter when we ourselves have a crisis of faith, a mountain ahead we just don’t want to have to climb?

1) We can take from these conversations a realization that we ourselves may be in the process of being “sifted”, meaning when it’s over (this particular circumstance and this earthly life), some of who we are will be left and some of who we are will be gone, thrown out, dead. Satan intends the sifting for our pain, in hopes our faith will fail, but Jesus intends the sifting for our benefit, so that we are refined like gold. It hurts. There are cancers being cut out of us. He sees what we cannot, and if we are to be His vessels here to show His Kingdom to the world, there are things in us that simply cannot remain.

2) We can see this unbelievable truth right along with the first: Jesus Himself is interceding for us. And He is interceding to the Father on our behalf, praying that our faith would not fail. He is the leader of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Is He praying we will get everything we’re wanting? Is He praying our answers would come quickly and easily? I don’t see that here. I see His concern is our perseverance and character. I see His concern is our encouragement and an ability to keep going even when our plans fail and our hearts break.

3) We can see while our relationship with the Lord is incredibly enriched by community, there is an element of this relationship that is naked, alone, face to face, “just you and me here now”. We can’t worry about the size of other people’s mountains, callings, or pain. We can’t worry about the magnitude of other people’s success, riches, or ease. If we have given our lives to the Lord, they are just that: His.

It’s a death, a real death, to realize these things. We’re dying to self, to immaturity, to trying to make things true just because we want them to be true, not because they’re scripturally sound. It’s not taking on bitterness or apathy, it’s taking on the yoke that we chose in accepting Christ, the yoke that is only easy and light once we lose our strong opinions and absolute need to be in charge.

By His Spirit, we have joy in the journey, yes, even this leg of the journey. By His Blood, we have peace and friendship with God. By His dwelling in us, we have resurrection life that is the very breath in our lungs. Friends, in whatever mountain you’re climbing, whether you chose that mountain and now see how impossible it is to climb, or whether you are going through a trial you did not choose at all, I want to tell you this:

Whatever you have lost and whatever you feel you lack, you do have what you need to make it through.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, present nor the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.” (Romans 8:35-39)

#HowToBuild: Standing Your Ground

One of my favorite shows used to be ALIAS! Awesome music, Jennifer Garner kicking butt and saving the world, and of course I can’t leave out it was one of the first shows where the writers decided it’s not really necessary to leave a dead person dead! So an important character dies, but somehow they are back in Season 4. Love it! But anyway…

On that show, there was an evil man named Alvin Sloane. Time after time, he was always showing up with manipulation and just enough truth to get his lies accepted by his co-workers. Mr. Sloane wasn’t genuinely trusted by the third season or so, but there were times the CIA needed to use his expertise anyway and he would be in the brainstorming room giving suggestions. In one particular scene, they were discussing a problem and he piped in with his suggestion rather strongly, and the heroine, Sydney Bristow, who especially was aware of his ability to trick people, said: “Excuse me, you have no authority in this room.”

Remember that.

We are waking up every morning to an opportunity to walk in the flesh or walk in the Spirit, right? Like it or not, and actually even believe it or not, we are also waking up to the presence of both light and darkness, Jesus and the enemy of our souls. If we are in Christ, we have His presence around us and His Spirit within us. We can awaken to it and acknowledge it, by worshipping, digesting His Word, praying…or we can do nothing and sink deeper into the flesh, which is more Satan’s playground than we like to think.

He’s having a blast wreaking havoc in us and around us when we have chosen to stay in the flesh, yet he never actually had the authority to do that. He does it simply because we didn’t tell him not to. We have to stand our ground.

It may look like a sudden sense of confusion, or a sudden line of thinking that brings you back to an old habit or addiction. It may be frustration and anger that just takes you by surprise, and you can’t believe you’re feeling and acting so ugly. It may be a habitual thing or an acute thing, but it’s negative, harsh, unforgiving, or fear-filled.

In those moments, I don’t always realize it is the enemy. And of course, sometimes it isn’t directly the enemy. Sometimes we have a process to work through to get where we need to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But thank God, it’s not always a big long process! Sometimes it’s just as simple as recognizing what is going on. Whether someone is coming at us with one of these negative, irrational, overreacting emotions or we feel it rise up in ourselves, we are the ones with the authority in the situation, not the enemy. The name of Jesus makes the enemy flee! He can’t fill us, he can’t control us, and he knows it. He can only make suggestions that turn to thoughts that turn to feelings that turn to words and actions and habits and sin!!! We must know his schemes but also his gaping weaknesses.

Speaking, singing, and praising the name of Jesus makes the grip of the spirit of fear, confusion, bitterness, unforgiveness, laziness, lust, and anger loosen. We don’t have to stay in that place, abused and oppressed. With the knowledge that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) we can know our place of authority over the enemy.

Here are some further scriptures on this, and just in writing this, I am so spurred on to ask the Holy Spirit to help me be aware when evil, un-peaceful, and divisive spirits are at work so that I can choose to not go along with them. We need a new normal, brothers and sisters in Christ, and that new normal is recognizing what is going on in the unseen and standing our God-given ground!

Ephesians 4:17-5:21

Colossians 2:13-15

James 4:7-8

1 Peter 5:6-11

Matthew 4:1-11


Our Words

So…anyone who knows me knows that I am not a sports person. I don’t play, I don’t watch, I don’t care! I don’t understand the rules, and if I was on the field or court, I would be the one who gets hit in the head with the ball or runs the wrong direction. I was lucky enough to marry a non-sports person as well, so we’re just blissfully ignorant together. But something we didn’t think about was that we would have offspring, and those offspring might actually want to play sports.

Enter 9 year old, 4 ft. 10 in., sweet and sparkly Selah Taylor, playing basketball for the first time ever.

After the first couple of practices, I knew it wasn’t going to be the experience I had hoped for her. I had hoped she would get on a team of kids who wanted to just have fun playing, learning the game, taking turns in the different positions, etc. I’m such a girl, I guess? I don’t know…I still don’t think I was entirely crazy with those hopes! What she ended up with instead was a team of very close friends, all guys, who had known each other forever and apparently had been playing basketball forever as well. Then there were three beginners tagged onto the group. Two of them were girls, and the other was a shy boy. You can imagine how this has played out. They have equal playing time, and that’s about the only positive thing I can say! The crowd goes wild when the same boys play after play after play drive the ball down the court single-handedly for a lay-up, or maybe a pass to their friend. Maybe once a game, a newbie will accidentally get the ball. Usually, they don’t know exactly what to do with it, they may dribble a little too high and lose control of it, they may break a rule, they may run to the opposite goal. It’s like they’re thinking, “Oh, wow, this is what a basketball feels like!” and by the time they’re done with that thought, someone has stolen it. And the worst thing that I sensed from the beginning is some of the adults who are “encouraging” their children from the sidelines or even the bench. This “encouragement” comes in the form of belittlement and phrases like, “What were you thinking?” My sensitive heart beats out of my chest. The kid’s face is red and he’s trying not to cry. No one does anything.

Okay, so all of that was to set up the story. This blog isn’t going to just be a bunch of complaining. I know God is doing something in me, God is always doing something on a deeper level and as I dig, there it is! I needed these truths and reminders, and this lovely basketball season was just the way for God to show me.

1. Sometimes our kids will do embarrassing things. Maybe its a sin they commit, bad behavior in a public place, or maybe their skill level in a certain area will be low! We’re watching them, we’re seeing the disappointment others may have in them, and it hurts. We don’t want them to feel ashamed, and quite frankly, we don’t want to feel ashamed. But I think God is saying to parents, to me, that if my self-confidence is so low as to care what others think of my child, I need to spend some time with Him remembering what matters, remembering my identity and who I am is wrapped up in who I am in Christ, not what I do or have to show for myself here on earth. Only when we remember that, and nail that down, can we teach our kids to do the same. We need to be bold and extravagant in our encouragement to our kids so they can hear what God wants to say to them about who they are! Also, they can accomplish great things, but they are also going to fail… a lot! We need to show them how to do that gracefully, with a firm grip on how much they are still loved and exquisitely designed for great purpose. So there’s a pit in my stomach on that basketball court. I don’t know that I want my daughter to get the ball. Who will be mad at her when she messes up? Maybe some parents, maybe some kids? Well, who cares? I love my daughter and I’m proud of her for trying. Anyone who thinks we are silly for still being happy after a mistake is missing out on some very good living.

2. If that embarrassment or frustration at our children leads to saying belittling things to them like: “What were you thinking?”, “What’s wrong with you?”, “Are you ever going to get this?” or “You drive me nuts”, we are flat out bullies. We’re standing over these little people and saying in essence the most ridiculous thing in the world: “Why aren’t you as good at this as I am?” We have 30 extra years on this earth! We may have gotten better at cracking eggs and solving math facts, but apparently we haven’t matured in character in all that time if this is how we’re acting. I am so convicted about this! That father at the basketball game made my heart hurt, and while I’m very sorry for the little boy, I am glad I could see my own wrong so clearly.  I’ve asked forgiveness and God is giving new phrases that are kind and patient: “It was so cool how you learned that concept, I know you’ll be able to get this one, too!”, “One day, we’ll look at this book and it’ll seem so easy!”,  or “Let’s dig deep and do our best, but if we don’t get it today, it’s ok!” Again, sometimes our frustration toward our kids isn’t even about them and our hopes for their improvement, it’s about us. I’m not any better than that dad. And we all have the daily moment-by-moment choice to be who God is calling us to be in the relationships we have with others, especially these little people.

We have the power to change the atmosphere and the atmosphere for future generations. We will either pass on the ability to gracefully make mistakes or pass on a policy of being harsh or ignoring failure completely. We will either pass on self-confidence and a deep sense of significance given to every creation of God or perpetuate the belief that we “are” as good as we “do.” We will either pass down kindness, security, and patience which sure does go a long way in helping a person of any age learn anything, or pass on the nerve-wracking demands that never gave anyone character or quality of life.

For anyone who is learning this and wants to pray with me…

Lord Jesus, You always spoke with kindness and love. Even when you corrected people, You spoke to their heart in a way that still cherished them as a creation of God and always let them know they had a safe place in You if they would be willing to leave their sin behind. You do not look at us as we deserve. After all of our sins, but also failures and things we aren’t good at, You look at us directly, in the eye, and just love us so much. Thank You! Help us receive this love and acceptance so that we can easily and freely give it to others!  I acknowledge my behavior as sin and I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have said things and acted in ways that were not loving and accepting. I have been frustrated, embarrassed, and at my wit’s end over this particular person and situation… Please forgive me. I will go to this person and ask their forgiveness… Holy Spirit, will You be like an alarm clock in my heart, warning me when I am beginning to think and feel in an ungodly way so that I will stop and not allow myself to do any more damage. Lord, I seek complete and total freedom forever from this attitude and way of interacting with this person/these people. Give me a new way to think of them and speak to them, in Jesus’ Name. You are so powerful and the only way I can be changed, and I praise You!






5 Things People With Chronic Illness Want You To Know

Writing Tools

For fourteen years, ever since my last couple of months living in Africa, I have struggled off and on with symptoms of chronic fatigue (undiagnosed by the traditional medical community) and a sleep disorder (diagnosed, but with nothing to be done about it.) I’ve tried to live as normal of a life as possible, and I sure am blessed! Abundantly! I’m a thankful and hopeful person, because of Christ in me, but that doesn’t change the fact that my body is constantly going through something I don’t understand. As I’ve landed back at square one, for the tenth time, I have some thoughts I’d like to share that may speak for others in this same difficult place, whether that’s chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, or other diagnosed/undiagnosed pain and health challenges that affect our daily lives and futures.

1. We want you to know we’re doing our best. That we are not lazy. That we are not undisciplined. That we did not bring this on ourselves. That we have studied. That we could write a research paper on what we’ve learned. That we’ve tried a lot of it. That it gets old to hope and try and not get better, but that we keep doing it anyway. That even though we feel miserable, we want to speak positively, but there’s a constant battle between the truth and complaining. That we constantly wonder if we are doing enough, learning enough, changing enough, to be well…while so many around us don’t have to do anything at all to get up feeling good in the morning. Sometimes people say things like, “Well, all you have to do is…”  or “Well, I eat this or that, and I never struggle with…” I have all kinds of patience for this because I AM THAT PERSON! I am the annoying advice giver that people have put up with for years. So I can handle it and it really is okay to offer advice. However, please know, if it were that easy, I wouldn’t be writing this blog at all. I’d be out training for a marathon with my friends or traveling to Nashville for a co-write instead of working through the feelings of a decade of health problems that all the basic cures haven’t touched.

2. We want you to know it hurts to see others affected by our challenges. Call it pride or whatever, but I just want to keep the boundaries of my suffering to myself. But that’s not possible. Those boundaries extend to my children, my husband, my friends, to commitments I’ve made that I can’t keep, to things I wanted to do that I can’t do. When I have to send my family to something, but I can’t go…when my limits like getting home early or not spending the night out of town are imposed on those I love…when a calling has to be set aside because God has not chosen to heal and provide the strength to serve…all painful (and confusing). So when others are affected by my limitations, I want to realize that God is doing a work in them at the same time He’s doing a work in me, and I can’t intervene and fix that anymore than I can get out of my own journey. Here is what our loved ones can do for us: trust God right alongside with us. For our healing, sure, but more than that!! Believe and help us believe that He’s writing our story just the same as He is writing yours, remind your heart and mine that He loves us right where we are, able or unable, sick or well! Know that (even though we don’t even remember this very well) we are not here to accomplish anything besides knowing the Lord and we can do that in a coma. That’s the truth! Everything past knowing Jesus is extra. So while in our flesh we hate to see people missing out on some things because of us, and we want you to know that’s a stress for us, ultimately that’s not our burden to bear. And our sickness is not your burden to bear.

3. We want you to know that we can’t do it all, but WE still don’t know that we can’t do it all. And this brings misunderstanding, and even guilt. Lately I realize I feel guilty for having any fun at all because every other day I’m canceling the thing I was supposed to have with one person, and then keeping my plans with someone else on the next. There are things on the calendar I have to do unless I’m contagious (which is never, because in that way, I’m healthy as a horse), then there are things that I would like to do if I feel well enough. Sadly, the things I have to do take up a large portion of any good hours I have! But I don’t know that until the moment is upon me. I have learned to prepare people that I may cancel at the last minute, which kills me slowly just so you know! It is not easy to predict how you will feel and make plans accordingly. My motto apparently has always been to keep pressing through the exhaustion, because I love being around people, I love singing, I love Sister Bridge, I love going overseas, I love children (especially mine!), and the list goes on. But pressing on and pushing through gets me to one place, eventually, and that place is none other than square one. Other people reach finish lines by pressing through. I reach breaking points that I can’t come back from for months.  I try to weigh out what the recovery time will be, how long I’ll be at that place, how crowded and crazy it could be (hello holidays), how much I could be inspired by being around those people or that activity, how much that group or thing goes along with my callings for this season of my life…these are all ways to find balance, but still, I feel guilty and wonder if people are going to say, “Well, if you could go to that, then you could have gone to this.” I genuinely don’t think its a matter of caring what people think of me, it’s more a matter of hurting someone who thinks I prioritized something or someone over them. (Which I have done and have no choice to continue to do.) We need grace and understanding about this calendar thing. We need people to mean it when they say, “Listen, you take care of yourself, you don’t have to do anything or be anywhere on my account. I am one person you don’t have to worry about pleasing, and I hope you have fun on your good days!”

4. We want you to know that we have no idea how much to tell you about what we’re facing, and we don’t really like talking about it, but sometimes we really need to anyway. We want you to know what’s going on with us. Not down to the details or anything, but everyone wants a few people to really know what’s going on. It’s awkward to talk about, because we don’t want to complain or always be sharing about ourselves or sound like we’re making excuses for not being something we wish we were or wish we could do. We know there are people going through much worse situations. We want to be careful to not turn inward and focus too much on our own stuff. We want to be transparent and let God work through our mess. But we also want to pretend it’s not even there, especially on days we aren’t feeling the weight of it, and that’s got to be confusing to those caring about us. On days we do feel the weight, we’re drowning, but you don’t know that the next day we’re swimming again just fine. You’re like “but I thought…???” Yeah, us too.

5. We are not schizophrenic, it’s just that every week, every day, and sometimes every hour is different. I could feel so clear minded and creative and rested for a couple of hours and then all of a sudden crash. I could wake up crashed and then suddenly feel awesome for no apparent reason. People always say, “Oh, I would have never known you struggled with this” and that’s because most people will only see me on the days or hours I am feeling okay. In those times, I am making plans and enjoying all of my senses and soaking in conversations and seeing my future stretched out ahead of me…Then too much of that happens and I’m grasping for hope that I can ever feel rested again. It’s totally weird, and you don’t have to understand. But it is real, and there is nothing I can do about it.

There’s more to say but I got only a few hours of sleep last night and my brain is super foggy.  My last word on this I hope just covers it all…

My husband, Jack, is pretty fabulous at accepting what I have gone through (and put him through) these past 14 years. I’ve heard him say to as he has officiated several weddings, “If your spouse says the sky they see is red, then you believe that to them the sky is red.” You don’t have to pretend to see a red sky or see a red sky yourself. You don’t have to get it at all, really. But you simply trust that what they are seeing through their eyes is real, period. Jack has had just a few days of tearful exhaustion in his whole entire life, but the man accepts without question or blame that the kind of tiredness I feel even after ridiculous amounts of sleep is mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically painful and deep. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m so thankful. I hope that that’s a gift we all are learning to give to people we love. Accepting them as they are. I fall short so terribly. Sometimes we have to learn how to love over and over again in life, and the first step to that is finding out where people really are and meeting them there. Not where you want them to be, but where they are.

Sister Bridge 2014: Why We Do This



Hello Friends!

I am really excited to be kicking off our fourth season of Sister Bridge. Can you believe in three short seasons we have sent back over $35,000 to these women overseas? I am so grateful for giving this idea a try…Several years back, I ordered some product and kept ordering more and more as women in Kentucky absolutely loved it and wanted so badly to help women in much different circumstances than their own.

This year, my health has been pretty rough again, but I was still led to order these products and say, “Lord, it’s Yours. Sell it if You want! I’ll do the little I can.” I was so compelled because of the stories I have heard this year. I’ll share a couple with you.

First, when I contacted the women who runs the ministry of Beads of Java in Indonesia about ordering some more jewelry and ornaments this year, she told me that last year our order literally kept the ministry afloat. She said it may have closed down if it wasn’t for that order. And mid-Spring 2014 as sales were low, one beadmaker decided to take a job in Macau instead of stay in Indonesia working for BOJ where she was safe from human trafficking. The missionaries were so sad to see her go, because it could very well be that she was walking into a terrible situation. This ministry exists to keep women from having to turn to slavery to have food on their table, and we are proud to support them and all they do. You can help BOJ by going to their website and purchasing Christmas gifts, booking a party, or ordering and selling mass amounts like SB does.

Second, I read a book by Holly Prosser, about her life story, her adopted daughter, and her adopted daughter’s birthmother who is still living today in Ethiopia. To make a long story short, I feel like I saw a movie as I read that book; I watched a birthmother who had already run away from an abusive husband have to take two of her children to an orphanage because the only job she could get was prostitution and she refused to let her daughters grow up in that environment. As a lover of adoption, I have to say what any of us who love adoption would say: Adoption is redeeming a bad situation and helping a need. It is beautiful and we are honored to be a part of it, but adoption is only fixing something that was never meant to be. Mothers were meant to be safe, loved, and able to take care of their children, period! But since so many are not, adoption exists. Anything we can do to keep mothers safe, loved, and with their children, we will do with all our hearts…And ministries like BOJ, Timbali Crafts, Cooperative Outreach of India, and Rahab’s Rope are doing that!!! They are keeping women from having to work degrading jobs with tyrant bosses, they are providing safe and godly community and friendships, they are offering hope in the gospel of Christ and counseling, and they are changing lives.

I could say more but I’ll save it for another day…

May God bless these precious and sacrificial missionaries and ministries around the world who are taking care of Jesus as they take care of the most vulnerable women and children in our midst. And may we stand alongside them in this calling!

Finding Peace and Purpose in Our Battles

I have been really silent for over a month. Not just on the blog, but in my home and my relationships. I’ve texted with some friends but have had days where I only said a few sentences. I just feel quiet, and my mind and heart are full of pause. They are also full of prayers.

Some friends I know and love have had loved ones pass onto eternity, as always, in a quick and shocking way.

Some other friends have had little ones in the hospital, hurting and scared.

Some have had surgeries, new medications, life on hold and upside down.

I have had an extremely hard time with fatigue through the summer, then the whole month of September was on the couch or bed due to an urgent health matter (which is healing and going to be fine).

Battles both literal and figurative raging around the world.

You can see why the pause, and why the prayers.

Here are some of my thoughts in the silence:

*There is peace in surrendering what we wanted the journey and outcome to be. If we can bow to Him, there is peace there in that humility.

In this wellness battle, I have peace because I know that I know that I know that God gives both the sunshine and the rain. He is sovereign over my life, every single aspect of it, from how I feel to the day I die. To me, any thing less than this would mean God is less powerful than the enemy, than the world, than me. I feel safe in God’s hands, and if He is not freaked out by the difficulties in our lives and the limits those difficulties put on us, then I won’t be either. I gave Him my life. This is where my talk meets my walk.

*He isn’t asking more of us than we can give.

In this past month, I also came to grips with the fact (again) that if God actually wants something out of me, He’s going to supply everything I need for that task or I am in no way required to do it. I tend to fill up my calendar with good things as soon as I feel well, then the sickness comes and I feel terrible in more than just physical ways…guilt, confusion, weariness, stress. The Lord is freeing me (again) to only serve with the strength He provides and take joy that my life and accomplishments belong to Him, not me, so how much or what I do isn’t really “mine” to worry about. It’s His. He’s slowing down the pace for me because I needed intervention in that! 

*Where do I place my trust? In my supplements and self-discipline?

Number One, I trust Jesus for my righteousness. I say that because I sometimes think, “If I was more perfect, if I was more disciplined, if God didn’t have to ‘teach me a lesson’ (I don’t believe that by the way)”, then I wouldn’t have this recurring health condition that seems to hinder my life.  False. Jesus alone covers me with righteousness and right standing with God. I don’t have to do extra, in fact, doing extra would nullify my faith in the work of Grace! May that never be so! I’m on God’s “good side” because of Jesus, period. Number Two, I trust the Holy Spirit for my power to produce fruit, because any good that comes from my life (sick OR well) is from Him. And Number Three, I trust my Father for my safety. In the palm of His hand, I can know nothing comes my way that He did not allow, and because He is good, I want what He wants. I’m all in with Him, all in. If I trust Him with my children, my future, my home in Heaven, I must trust that if He wanted things to be different in my body and life right here and now He would bring that desire to fruition! He’s my Abba.

*When I’ve done all that is in my power to do for wellness- in wisdom and knowledge, prayer and praise- I can rest and enjoy the life that has been given to me.

In our wellness battles, we always have things to be thankful for. Personally, I’m thankful I don’t have to work a full time job. I’m thankful I have a husband, precious and somewhat self-sufficient daughters ;),  a great church, and so many friends that I keep leaving people out accidentally when I’m asking for prayer support! I’m thankful I have a quiet home and a fairly simple life. I’m thankful that the ministries I’m involved in are not overwhelming but peaceful and completely powered by the Lord. Not being able or allowed to do the many other things I am saying no to actually open the door to things I forget are so important. Right now, that’s relationships. Sitting down for more than 5 minutes with people. Hearing God’s heart in prayer instead of running down a quick list. Do you know how hard it is for me to just sit still and snuggle with my kids? It’s a challenge, and I think that’s sad! While God allows this trial in my life, I pray that I learn how to do that and not let a day go by where I refuse that gift.

Someday the Lord will deliver us from our battles, in one way or another. That relief will be sweet. But until then, I want to make sure that I realize there is no waiting to live. His Presence, His will, His relationship with us, His daily mercies, the things and people He has put in our laps…that’s all NOW regardless of our various trials. There is no waiting to be in His will, waiting to be thankful, waiting to be free, waiting to live. It’s now or never!

Precious Again


It is a wonderful, blessed, beautiful thing when God intervenes in my every day life.

And He does it often.

Pretty much every time I ask, really…

Sara Groves has this song, Precious Again, and the last lines of the chorus:

Promise that just when love grows cold, You’ll make it precious again.”

I’ve been struggling hard lately…some days struggling well and some days just getting through. Adrenal fatigue and wacky sleep patterns have been kicking my rear for over a month. In all the researching, reading, and following through, I do know that the day will come that I feel good again, but until that day, it’s hard to keep carrying it. BUT…

Day by day, God has revealed a thought here or there that has brought a smile…a song, a passage of scripture, a friend, a funny moment. Yesterday it came in getting caught in an absolute downpour while on a walk and stealing bites of the utterly forbidden cookie dough while making them for four darling little girls at my kids’ sleepover! I felt like God was saying, “Don’t forget to enjoy life, my love!” He intervenes in the every day.

He intervenes when He says things like: “Sometimes I enlarge your territory simply by opening your eyes and the creativity of your heart to the territory you already have.” Yes! That speaks to me.  That reignites my passion for all that I have been entrusted with.

When I forget…when I lose heart…when I just feel like I’m existing and nothing more…He breathes life. He is the Life.