Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Get Out of the Way

This morning, I was emailing back and forth with a friend about some current struggles in my life. Nothing serious, so don't worry, but stuff that needs dealing with.

I shared with her how I try to do the things I feel God has told me to do, but when the results don't seem to be coming I get frustrated and discouraged. I tell myself, "Why bother? Just give up."

Maybe it's not really me saying those words. They sound a lot more like lies from the enemy of my soul. (Hang on while I ponder this light bulb moment.)

Anyway, she wrote some words that I needed to hear:

God can use your obedience better when you obey and stay out of His way.

Obey. Then get out of the way.

Simple yet profound. Another light bulb moment in my day. Her words remind me of the words of one of my mentors, Shannon Ethridge (Author, Speaker, Life Coach, and BLAST mentor)...

Your job is obedience. God's job is results.

I keep getting hung up on results. I see that I don't have any more speaking engagements this year than I had last year, and I feel discouraged. I see that, in spite of a lot of effort with our kids, they still prefer to bicker almost constantly, and I feel frustrated. I see my credit card balance going down, down, down, then back up again, and I feel trapped. I see the number on the scale creep down by 6 lbs only to go back up by 8, and I feel defeated.

The problem with thinking this way is that anything that can be viewed as failure results in feeling discouraged, frustrated, trapped and defeated.

How I needed the reminder today that God is not an all-or-nothing God. He doesn't say, "Give me perfection or just give up." No, He just wants me to keep moving forward in faith. Trusting His promises, obeying His commands, and waiting on Him for the results.

Obey, then get out of the way, so He can do His job.

Sometimes the fruit of that obedience may result in internal change, or have impact for someone else I'll never know about. Those times when He chooses to let me experience successful results in a tangible way are a gift.

My success or failure is not defined by the tangible results. If I obey my Father, that is success.

Maybe some of you are experiencing a similar struggle right now, where you keep on doing what you feel Him asking you to do, but it just doesn't seem to be making a difference. Might I allow my friend's words to encourage you today?

Just obey.
Then get out of the way.
Your job is obedience.
God's job is results.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooking Tips for Busy Women

Okay, I am so NOT a fan of cooking. And I'm not really a fan of cooking posts, either. So if you choose not to read this, I won't be offended in the least.

But because I hate cooking, I've become a master at making it quicker and easier. And over the years, I think pretty darn tasty, too. Since I spent this morning cooking up a storm (three ladies in our women's small group had babies this month), I've got food on the brain.

Here are my tips and tidbits:

1. Make double.

Every time you make a meal, make double. If it's freezable, wrap it up to freeze and  use it in a week or two. If not, serve it again in 2-3 days. And how handy is it to have a pre-made meal in the freezer when you hear of a friend in need?

2. Make meals bigger than you need.

If you have one or two extra servings in your meal, it can be sent in your kid's lunch kit (or in hubby's). No microwave? No problem - buy a thermos! They're useful for more than just soup and coffee. We use them for hot dogs, mini pizzas, leftovers, and more.

3. Buy (and cook) in bulk.

I always buy my meat in bulk. Not just because there are seven of us, but because it's generally cheaper. I get lean ground beef in a big tube that is somewhere between 5-6 lbs. (Now this is where some people will tell you to separate it out into 1-2 lb portions before freezing. Not me!) Freeze the whole thing. Then, when it's time to use it, defrost the whole thing.

If you're making spaghetti or tacos or a casserole, cook all the beef and season it up. Divide into meal-size portions after it's cooked (I put mine in the very large margarine tubs). Freeze cooked beef. Comes in handy for next time you want to serve chili, shepherd's pie, or good old hamburger helper.

4. Always have disposable foil packages AND large Ziploc bags on hand.

I used to freeze my meals in casserole dishes, which worked fine for me. However, I generally didn't want to use those meals to give out to others (doesn't it kinda take away the blessing if they have to wash a dish and return it to you?). Now I freeze all my meals in either those disposable foil containers (they come in all shapes and sizes, some with lids) or large Ziploc freezer bags. The bags are your cheapest option, but obviously some meals work better (Mexican bean mixture, soup) than others (lasagna).

5. It's not just for casseroles.

Pre-made, frozen meals are distasteful to some people. Lots of folks just plain don't like casserole-style meals. But here's the thing - you can prep and freeze virtually anything! Marinate steaks and freeze. Sauce up your roast and freeze. Make meatballs and freeze. Make your favorite meatball sauce and freeze. Mix up your yummiest veggies with seasonings and butter/oil and freeze! All of those, while not necessarily pre-cooked, can go from frozen direct into a crock pot (12 hours until delicious).

6. Have a cooking day.

If I decide to buckle down and cook, I really cook! I'll pull out my recipe books and 20 lbs of beef, 30 chicken breasts, and go at it all day. Just this morning (having planned last night what I'd make), I made: 2 double-size beef/corn/pasta casseroles, 3 family-size servings of Mexican bean casserole (good for sloppy joes, taco salad, taco bake), and a lifetime supply of 9-bean soup for one family (or enough for 4 families, 1 meal plus leftovers each). It took me just under 2 hours to completion - that includes washing the dishes.

I hope these tips help other busy women out there who hate to cook. Now, if you're looking for baking suggestions, you'll have to go elsewhere. My local grocery store does all my baking for me! Occasionally, we bring in some pre-packaged mixes so the kids can feel like they're baking.

Oh, I should also share my resources, eh? My three favourite cookbooks:

Company's Coming Make-Ahead Meals

Company's Coming Casseroles

The Big Cook

(If you can round up some friends to do the Big Cook with you, you can make up to 200 meals between 4 friends in one day! I usually just do it myself, because I don't have a lot of friends with a family of seven, and it would be too difficult to divide things up. Boo-hoo.)

What's your best time-saving tip in the kitchen (cooking or otherwise)?

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Protect or Prepare?

For a number of years, I've been a fairly protective parent. I wouldn't go so far as to say I've been a "helicopter parent," but I've certainly tried to guard my children's innocence.

When they were small and would ask where babies came from, I'd explain that God designed us so that Mommies and Daddies would fall in love, get married, and then make babies because of their love.

I set parameters around their behavior that I felt would help them to learn and understand a Godly definition of morality. For example, I've long had a rule about not wearing clothing that I consider too grown-up for their age (you know, those clothes that are designed to dress up little girls as women).

There are certain books or movies that, on occasion, I've deemed off-limits.

As my children get older, though, I am beginning to see the need to do more than merely protect them. I need to prepare them.

It's not unlike immunizing my kids... I could keep them home to prevent them from ever contracting dangerous diseases like measles, but as they get older they would push back against my protection. If I don't want it to get to that point, I need to make sure they have their shots. That way, when they are ready to head out into the world on their own, I can rest in confidence that I have prepared their bodies to withstand an attack of the measles virus.

I need to prepare them to live out Godly lives in the context of the realities of this fallen world.

You see, as they get older and gain more experience in this world, they're coming home with questions that cannot be answered like their younger baby-making questions.

How can someone have a baby when they're not married?

What does "gay" mean?

What's a step-dad?

My friend's mom just had a baby, but the daddy is different than her daddy. How can that happen?

What's french kissing?

What is a virgin?

What does rape mean?

Of course, I still want to teach them the Biblical standards. I want them to aspire for that in their own lives (and hopefully see it in my life). But I cannot sugar-coat the realities, or when they begin to understand those realities for themselves they will be unprepared to deal with them.

The true preparation lies even deeper, though. I can't simply prepare them for the reality of this world as it compares to God's plan. No, I must teach them how to love others. Others whose moral choices may be completely opposite to ours. And sometimes that feels like a contradiction for us adults, so how can we teach it to our children?

The fact is, people are not won to Christ by being convicted of their sin. Really, in a world where right and wrong is relative - depending on circumstances - people no longer see what is sinful. And if we (Christians) are focused on their sin, we're seen as judgemental and hypocritical. Actually, if we're focusing on the sins of others we are judgemental and hypocritical.

People are won to Christ by feeling loved and accepted. People are won to Christ by seeing that there is "more to life than this" lived out in the lives of Christ-followers.

So the challenge I face as a parent is to teach my children to love people - all people, any people - while still seeking to honor God's commandments in their own lives.

Or, as Mary DeMuth puts it in her book You Can Raise Courageous and Confident Kids: Preparing Your Children for the World they Live In, " engage as a family in people's lives in a way that beckons them to Jesus Christ without sacrificing our family to the world system."

Here are some Scriptures I've been pondering as I consider how to prepare my children rather than just protecting them.

James 1:27
1 Corinthians 5:9-10
John 17:14-15
2 Corinthians 1:12

Q4U: What are you doing to prepare your children to live Godly lives in the context of the realities of this fallen world?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Will you Refuse?

There's this song that has been messing with my head, making me think and forcing me to evaluate my actions (and inaction).

It makes me think of all the hurt and brokenness I encounter everyday...that I turn a blind eye to. Not because I'm trying to be cold, but because I wonder if anything I do can really make a difference.

I ask myself if that person in need can possibly really benefit from the mere $20 I am able to offer. I wonder if me reaching out will actually impact that lonely person. I think that what I have to give will be seen as pity rather than love.

All these fears, doubts, worries and (let's call it what it is) lack of faith result in one thing - nothing. I think it was Beth Moore who said that Satan knows he can't keep those of us who believe out of Heaven, so he does the next best thing by rendering us useless for the Kingdom here on Earth.

(If you are viewing this blog post through email, in order to watch the video you'll need to click the title and view the original post.)

I Refuse
~ Josh Wilson

Sometimes I
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not

This world needs God
But it's easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong

But I refuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I refuse
I refuse


Is there something God's been calling you to do that you've been putting off or pushing aside? Will you refuse to wait another day?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Thrive

In the past couple of years, we've spent time in a number of churches. Two stood out to me as churches that are "thriving."

- grow vigorously
- make steady progress
- to flourish
- grow fast and stay healthy

Others appeared to be merely surviving. They weren't dying, by any means, but they were just plugging along doing what they had always been doing.

I find myself in plain old surviving mode periodically. Okay, that was a lie. I spend most of my time in that mode. Not dying, but definitely not thriving, just surviving.

I'll think of my marriage and say, "It's good. It's way better now than it was a few years ago. Sure, it could probably be better. But we're okay."

The same can often be said of my walk with God, family, finances, and ministry... "I'm fine." Not great, not amazing, not fantastic, but fine.

Surviving = fine. Thriving = better.

So here's what I noticed at those two churches that are thriving - the one thing that stood out as different about them. They were (and are) changing. Always changing. Constantly tweaking. Willing to try new things, welcoming to new people and ideas, open to allowing God's direction - even if it meant making the occasional U-turn.

So how does one move beyond surviving to thriving?

Do something new. Try something different. Accept suggestions. Be open and willing to change direction, even if it means heading in the opposite way from which you were going.

Yep, change can be scary. Terrifying, even. But things that are static, unchanging, immovable - they cannot grow. Eventually their resistance to change will lead to death.

A marriage that is okay for too long, without new inspiration or true investment in growing together, becomes one with difficult patches. The ministry that keeps the same old six people in charge for years at a time, without the introduction of new people with fresh ideas, becomes stale. The faith walk that coasts with God, without going out on a limb to try doing something truly sacrificial for Him, becomes stagnant.

In order to thrive, we need to be brave. Brave enough to stop doing the same old stuff and try something new.

But forget all that —
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
~ Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT, emphasis mine)

What are of your life are you simply surviving in right now? What change can you implement so that you might begin to thrive?

A re-post from the archives.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tiny Glimpses of Big Dreams

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was an everyday, ordinary girl. She had lots of flaws and issues, but one thing she got right - she loved God with her whole heart.

This girl who loved God had a dream. A big dream. An impossible dream. Lots of people would listen to her dream, politely smiling, with a look in their eyes that said, "That'll never happen." But a few people encouraged this girl to go for her dream.

One of those encouragers was once a dreamer herself. Fourteen or so years ago she had a dream. Some people told her that she was foolish to dream so big. But others told her to press on. When her dream came true, she knew that she needed to help other girls like her. So she began investing in lives of other Jesus-lovin' dreamer girls.

This past weekend, the lives of the dreamer girl and her encourager intersected for a few precious moments. Those moments were made especially precious when the encourager was able to hand over one tiny glimpse of that dream to the dreamer girl.

From left to right: Lysa TerKeurst, Tyler Rowan, Holly Good.
(Featured, P31 Woman magazine, July 2011 edition.)

A closer small article published in that magazine.

Closer still...the author of that little article (and an autograph from her encouraging friend).
A Jesus-lovin' dreamer step closer to her dream, her calling. Encouraged to keep running after her dream, but especially encouraged to keep running after her God - the Dream-Giver.

What is the dream hidden in your heart? Might I pray for you today, that you will be encouraged to press on after your dream and after the Dream-Giver?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrestling with God for my Broken Marriage

When folks ask about my marriage, I usually tell them, “I’ve been married nearly twelve years, the last five or so happily.”  

Lest you think it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs around here – happily does not mean blissfully. We’ve still got our issues. But those first five years…the only word that truly captures their essence is miserable. (Now, you’re thinking that five plus five only equals ten; those two years in-between are what I fondly refer to as the wrestling years.)

Here’s a little background for you: 

I accepted Christ as a little girl, and renewed my commitment to Him each summer at Bible camp, but I lived through the school year no different than my unbelieving classmates and friends. 

Living my life as I did, it’s not really a surprise that I found myself pregnant at nineteen. Unlike many teen moms, I was lucky to be dating a guy that planned to stick by my side. As most of you parents probably know, there’s nothing like having a child to bring someone back to their faith. 

Enter five years of misery… 

My husband tried to be supportive of my faith. He didn’t complain about me taking our son to church. In fact, I think he appreciated the silent morning of sleeping in each week. We had a church wedding. He agreed to it because it was important to me. My faith was okay, as long as it didn’t affect him. 

Honestly, I think that he tried to be a good husband to me. I know he wanted to please me and make me happy. But I couldn’t be pleased. Instead, I picked and prodded, begged and cajoled, fighting for him to join us at church on Sunday mornings. And as I grew in my walk with the Lord and was convicted of my sin, I decided to act as the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life, convicting him of all his sinful ways.

They say that women go into marriage thinking of all the ways they can change their men, and men go into marriage hoping that their wives never change at all. 

The change in me was probably a frightening sight to observe. I shifted from liberal thinking to deeply black-and-white conservative. I jumped from wild and free living to rigid, rule-driven, legalistic, and judgemental. And all this with a husband who was raised to believe that Christians are all brainwashed, and their goal in life is to brainwash others. 

The turning point for me was the day my husband packed his bags. He had overheard me praying on the phone with a friend. The praying was, let’s say, a little bit charismatic. He was freaked out! Who can blame him? 

I had an epiphany in that moment. I knew, without a doubt, that there was no way I could change my husband. There was no way I could make him happy. There was no way he could bring me satisfaction. I could not change him or fix him or save him. I could not save my marriage. 

All of those things were under God’s area of responsibility. The only tasks placed under my care were: love my husband and obey God. 

In an instant, I was released from my misery. My husband was released from my tyranny. I stopped wrestling within my marriage and began wrestling with God. 

I would grab on tight and cry out, Lord, save my marriage!
            He assured me, Trust me, your marriage is in My hands.

I dug in hard and prayed, God, reveal Yourself to my husband!
            He soothed me, I will, I am, through you and your obedience. 

When I felt pinned, I would ask God, Why don’t you change him?
            He replied, Why don’t you let Me change you? 

When I felt like I was being attacked by a tag-team I would wail, But God, it’s not fair! I deserve to be treated better. I deserve to be happy!
            He answered, Find your happiness in Me. 

I would be mad and storm around the house, thinking to myself how I was NOT going to do his laundry. And God would tell me to serve my husband. 

I would be hurt and determined that I had to speak my mind. And God would tell me to shut my mouth. (I cannot count the number of times God had to tell me to shut up!)

I would be lonely and depressed, entertaining fantasies of divorce or death, and then doing things the right way with a Christian husband. And God would tell me that the right way was to honor the husband I was given. 

I wrestled and struggled, crying out, I will not let go until You bless me! 

My husband began to attend church with us occasionally. Then more regularly. He agreed to attend a church-led marriage retreat. He agreed to join a home group through the church.

He was baptized on February 29th, 2004. He went on short-term missions trips to Haiti in the falls of 2009 and 2010. He has served in our church with the youth, the children, and the men.  

My husband is the Christian husband I prayed for. He is a man of prayer. He is man of integrity. He is a man of faith. He is the spiritual leader in our home. 

In a little over two weeks, I will be celebrating my twelfth anniversary. Twelve years married, the last five or so happily. Every single moment held in the hands of a loving Father.

* This post was originally published as a guest post for Angela Mackey's Wrestling with God series on Rethinking My Thinking.

This post has been linked up to Sheila Wray Gregoire's Wifey Wednesday series on To Love, Honor, and Vacuum.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Ordinary Offering

Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering.
~ Romans 12:1 (Msg)

It's easy to give our big offerings and life situations to God.

Look, Lord, I tithed!

Check this out, God, I'm going on a missions trip.

I place this life or death situation in your hands, Lord, because it's out of my control.

But the regular, ordinary, boring day-to-day stuff... That's not so easy.

Lord, I will scrub the toilet cheerfully because it's the work You've called me to today.

Father, I trust You with my child's poor grades.

I will have coffee with my neighbour as a way of giving You worship, God.

That's a little more weird, isn't it? Yet I'm convinced that this is exactly what Paul is referring to in Romans. The everyday offering.

Put into action, what might an everyday offering look like?

For me, I think it means that I need to pause and do an attitude check. Am I engaging in an activity with joy, as an act of service for God and others? Or am I moving ahead with an attitude of obligation?

It applies not only to my actual "service" things (such as volunteering with women's ministry and the Logos Society), but my day-to-day "duties" like cooking dinner, helping the kids fill their juice cups, dealing with the news that my husband has to work late...

Practically speaking, what does this verse mean to you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TV Makes Your Brains Fall Out

courtesty of

In my third year of University, I was thrilled to be enrolled in a course called The Psychology of Media and its Effects on Children's Development. I had no doubts about my ability to get an A in that course. I mean really, we all know that kids who watch too much TV grow up to be sociopaths and serial killers! Right?

At that time, my first born child was a little over a year old. He was in daycare 30-40 hours per week while I went to school. He wasn't all that into TV yet.

Fast forward a few years... I had a five-year-old with special needs, a one-year-old whose constant fussiness had our neighbours concerned, and a newborn. Oh, did I mention post-partum depression? Television became my friend - especially during the dreaded after school dinner-prep hour.

I rolled my eyes at all the idealistic parents who bought into the psychobabble about the dangers of TV and video games.

Fast forward a few more years...

We have a teenager now, and four others younger than him. That teenager has the typical teen response to video games - complete and utter obsession. We cracked jokes about it, and we eventually began limiting his gaming time, but mostly viewed it as a normal teen thing. While the other four kids aren't too heavy into the games, they can vegetate in front of the screen for hours, soaking up episode after episode of Hannah Montana, Suite Life on Deck, and the like.

Due to a long series of incidents and their consequences that aren't worth explaining on thishereblog, we've implemented a couple changes. One is that the TV no longer gets turned on during the school week. The other is that all video games (with the exception of hand-held ones that are kept in my possession) are gone.

Initially, these changes were intended to serve as punishment. And I expected to be punished just as badly as the kids. What in the world would they do?! They would surely make me crazy!!!

Those changes have now become permanent decisions. Not because I think TV is evil. Not because I think it makes kids mean or dumb or violent or lazy. But because I know...that too much time watching TV and playing video games was having an effect on my kids' attitudes. I know that we needed to make a change for the benefit of our family. And I know that this change has had a positive impact on everyone in our family, including the parents.

In University, I was sure I knew it all. As a young mom, I made a total 180 and was still sure I knew it all. In both cases, I was prideful and judgemental. And wrong.

That's what I love about God. He's not content to let us stay the way we are. God knows I'm so much better at serving Him when I'm humble and too busy changing and growing to be looking at what others are doing.

You know what makes your brains fall out? Thinking you know it all, that you've got it right and everyone else has it wrong, and that your way is the only way.

Thankfully, humbling yourself before God, being willing to learn and change, and doing things that other people may not "get" or agree with will help get your brain firmly back in place.

(Thought you might like to know... That "easy A" course? Not so easy at all! In fact, after the midterm I was failing. Turns out we actually had to learn the details of the research, not just the general concept that "TV makes your brains fall out." Don't worry, I pulled it off! *wink*)

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Formula for Spirtual Growth

A question that today's Christian women frequently ask is:

How do I incorporate regular time with God/devotional/Bible reading/prayer time/etc. into my busy days?

courtesy of

I wish I could help you find daily time with God by giving you three easy steps. It would make a great book, wouldn't it? Three Easy Steps to Spiritual Growth for Today's Busy Woman. I have a confessionn to make - there is no formula for spirtual growth.

I'll be honest, the reason I can't give you a nice formula to follow is because I don't fully have it figured out, either. While I am now in a season where I usually do spend daily time doing one or another of the above-listed things, I know that this is just that - a season. Figuring out how to make time for spiritual growth is different for each of us. What works for me may not work for you. What worked well during one season of life may not be feasible for another season.

The secret to growing in relationship with the Lord isn't so much what you do or how you do it as it is the intent of your heart.

If you desire a deeper relationship with Him, and you are continually trying to find ways to make that happen, you will find Him close to you.

If, on the other hand, you say that you desire a deeper relationship with Him, but you are continually making excuses not to try new ways to make that happen, you will feel distance.

So, if the desire of your heart is to know God more, here are some things you can try. If something doesn't work for you, whether due to personality or your season of life, that's okay. Just try something else.

1. Start your day with God.

When you wake up, before you roll yourself out of bed, take a moment to focus your heart on God. Ask Him to go with you wherever you are throughout your day; ask for His guidance and intervention; ask that you feel His presence; and ask that your thoughts and actions that day be pleasing to Him. If you're a morning shower-er, that's also a great time for prayer.

You'll find that the focus of your day is different when you begin this way.

2. Spend your whole day with God.

At each juncture of your day, each pause, each interruption, each transition, take a moment to talk to God. Tell Him how something made you feel. Ask for His help. Thank Him for the beauty you see. Praise Him for the things that go smoothly.

We tend to compartmentalize our lives, keeping work and God in different drawers. Bringing God to work with you (whether it be in the marketplace or at home) will change your perspective.

3. Spend your stolen moments with God.

In each week, we can be presented with countless moments of time-killing. Waiting rooms, in the bathroom, standing in line, "watching" our kids' activities... Instead of reading a magazine or playing on your phone, read a small snippet of Scripture. Ask God to show you how that verse (or passage) can make a difference in your life.

While we often say we're too busy for Bible reading or prayer time, the fact is that we all have time in our days for Facebook or Twitter, reading a novel, playing Angry Birds, catching up on the latest Brangelina gossip. Instead of thinking, "I have to make time for God," try thinking, "I need to choose to use some of my leisure time for God."

What about the spiritual disciplines?

* Bible reading
* intercessory prayer
* Scripture memorization
* private worship
* corporate worship
* Bible studies
* tithing
* ministry
* missions
* community outreach

Each one of these spiritual disciplines is a vital part of our walk with God. But our relationship with Him is not conditional upon these disciplines.

Let me say it again, because it is so important...

Spiritual disciplines are a vital part of our walk with God, but our relationship with Him is not conditional upon them.

The moment we begin to view those disciplines as a checklist, we betray the true character of God.

God doesn't say "I'll love you when/if/because." No, He loves us with an everlasting love.

He doesn't promise to answer us only if we do this, that, and the other thing. No, He says that if we call to Him He will answer us.

God knows you. He knows your heart. He knows your schedule. And every bit of time you dedicate to knowing Him better puts a smile on His face.

Give Him your heart, ask Him to work in your schedule, and seek Him at the start of your day, throughout your day, and in the stolen moments of your day... I promise you, you will grow and your relationship with God will become more intimate.

In time and in season, the other disciplines will follow.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Join the Conversation

My friend Bobbie posted a comment yesterday that got me thinking. Her perspective is one I've never really considered before. And I thought it would provide some really great fodder for healthy discussion among Christian brothers and sisters.

And what better place for discussion than the modern hub of conversation - Facebook?

So if you're not already a fan, stop in and like my Facebook page, then join the conversation.

I want to hear what you think. :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What are you working for?

A parable:

An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fish. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied that it had only taken a little while.

The banker than asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish.

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The banker then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."

The banker scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. you should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.

"Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the banker replied, "15 to 20 years."

"But what then?"

The banker laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an Initial Public Offering (IPO), sell your company stock and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions, then what?"

The banker said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos."

This parable made me consider how I spend my time, right now...

Am I living my best life right now? Or am I busy doing all sorts of things so that I can eventually live my best life later?

What about you...

What are you working for?

What changes could you make to begin living life for today?

* This parable is quoted as it was told in an article written by Paul Richardson in, Spring 2011 edition.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When You Don't Agree with Your Husband

There have been times in my life when I've found myself confused (surprise, surprise).

We're supposed to love and serve God first, then our husbands, then our children, and so on... But what happens when those things conflict? Then what do we do? Who do we follow?

Here's a practical example for you. Early in our marriage, I was attending Church and (tepidly) following the Lord. Pat wasn't there yet - he wasn't sure about all that 'religious' stuff. I sat in on a powerful sermon about tithing, and felt called to obedience by it. But the money in our account wasn't put there by me, and we had always agreed that expenses over a certain amount needed to be unanimous. To say that Pat wasn't particularly excited about my idea of giving a significant portion of his earnings to a church he seldom attended is an understatement.

So what was a girl to do? For weeks I obsessed over this - obey God's Word and defy my husband? Honor my husband and disobey God? I did eventually work this out...I found other ways to tithe (of my time and talents) and waited for God to work out the money thing...which he has.
Every now and then, someone asks me about a similar situation. I can look up some handy scripture references for them (Ephesians 5:22-24, I Peter 3:1-5), but it can be so difficult to explain in a way that makes sense!

So, for anyone who's ever asked that question - married or not, in a Christian marriage, unequally yoked - anyone who's ever wondered how to make sense of the confusion, here is a fantastic analogy that illustrates what God is calling us to (as Christian women, wives, mothers).

courtesy of

Imagine a team of dogs pulling a sled over the snowy plains of Alaska. All of a sudden the Master says, “Turn right.” But the lead dog turns left and the others follow. So the Master stops the team, walks around to the lead dog, shakes his little face and says, “I told you to turn right.” Then he gets back in and off they go. Again, the Master says. “Turn right.” But again the lead dog turns left.

Well this time the dog behind him turns right like the Master said but in the process creates chaos. So the Master stops the sled, walks around to the lead dog, shakes his face and says, “I told you to turn right.” Then he walks to the next dog that obeyed his command to turn right shakes her little face and says, “I told you to follow the lead dog.”

Get it? Your husband is the Lead Dog. Your job is to follow the Lead Dog because that is what the Master really wants.

This story was originally posted on my friend Jenny's blog.

* a re-post from the archives *

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Have an Eating Disorder

Actually, I have two.

Anorexia...of the soul

Many times, I starve myself of the very sustenance that I require for survival. My very spirit is cramped up with hunger pains, yet I do not eat the Bread of Life. Malnourishment sets in.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
~ John 6:35

Binge Eating...of the flesh

Other times, I indulge and overindulge until I am bloated. My flesh devours all that it desires until no room remains for the Living Water. Disease sets in.

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
~ John 4:10

I waste away when I believe the lie that can make it through the day without first dining on good food. My anorexia is rooted in self-sufficiency. Pride. I swell and fester when I believe the lie that the things of this life can fill me up. My binge eating is rooted in selfishness. Lust.

The only cure for my disorders is a lifestyle change.

The only cure for pride is humility. On my knees, humbly acknowledging that I cannot survive one single minute without the Bread of Life. For lustful cravings, rejection and replacement. I must reject that which I crave, replacing it with a longing to fill up on the Living Water.

The only path to this lifestyle change is a daily feast. Not a feast reserved for certain days of the week. Not a feast in only hard times or good times. A daily feast. Every day, devouring the soul nutrients contained in the Word of God, quenching my thirst on His Word alone, dining at His banquet table.

Here I am! I stand at the door and know. if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
~ Revelation 3:20

Do you need a lifestyle change, too?

* a re-post from the archives

Monday, June 6, 2011

Boys and their Toys

My man was raised on a farm. He had all the boy trappings of farm life, including the weaponry. One of Pat's favorite memories of his boyhood is when he received his first .22 as a birthday gift. (He thinks it was his seventh birthday!)

Over the previous few years, he had been collecting G.I. Joe figurines. Every Christmas and birthday, every special treat, every penny directed his way went toward those little army guys. That summer, when Pat got his .22, he hatched a plan only a boy would come up with.

Painstakingly, over the course of many hours, Pat set up his G.I. Joe guys in fighting formation. Once he was finally convinced that everything was just right, he set up... Ready, aim, fire! That .22 blew those figurines to bits! (I don't believe his parents agreed to buy him another toy for the rest of his life.)

Early on in our relationship, I established a firm "no gun" rule. Looking back, I'm not certain what my rationale was besides the fact that guns scared me. I was convinced that, if we allowed our children to play with water guns, they would become violent adults and possibly mass murderers. (Blame it on the psychology degree.)

Have you ever read Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul? It's a book for men, but every woman should read it. Reading that book helped me understand my husband and sons - the way God designed them to be - in a way I never had. I learned that I (and society in general) had been so focused on what good, Christian men "ought to" be like that I hadn't bothered to ask who God created them to be. Men were created to be conquerors, heroes, and adventurers - men in God's own image.

As an early Father's Day/ birthday gift for my husband, I sent him with a debit card attached to a full account (on pay day) and told him to buy that gun he'd always wanted but was never 'allowed' to have. When he arrived home after making his purchase, the man-child sat on the couch next to me admiring his rifle (Or is it a shotgun? Or is that the same?). Ch-chick. Ch-chick. Ch-chick. I've never seen such a grin on his face.

This weekend, after ten whole days of endless waiting, my man headed out with some buddies and their sons for a day of shooting at stuff. The big boys killed hundreds of clay pigeons, while the younger boys fired at a variety of pop bottles and other home-made targets.

My baby was among those younger boys. And instead of being terrified, worried, and (s)motherly as I would have been before reading Wild at Heart, I was excited for Braeden (13) and the adventure he was embarking on.

Look at my firstborn baby! He's growing up so fast...

Who knew you could shoot one-handed?

Taking aim...

Trying out the 9 mm.

Okay, true confession... My mother heart did skip a beat when I
saw the kick-back from this gun. Let's stick to the .22, okay?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recent questions I've been asked...

I get all the tough questions around here.

Abbey (9) has been reading her Bible. I think she's in Deuteronomy now.
     "Mom, what's a virgin?"

I think she knew the answer, but was testing to see if I would tell her the truth. And if I'd be embarrassed.

Malakai (3) came bursting into the washroom while I was using the facilities. I told him he had to wait or find another bathroom to use.
     "Okay. But next time, can you stand up so we can pee together?"

Thanks Pat, for teaching him that trick! I had fun trying to explain why this was not possible.

And some people think being a stay at home mom is boring! Ha! Never a dull moment around here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Hold

Do you ever feel stuck?

You have big dreams, hopes, and plans...but nothing's happening.

You have aspirations for advancement at work...but no raise or promotion are in sight.

You have a vision of your marriage and how it should/could/would be...but it's mediocre.

You have a mental picture of how your kids will act, what they will become, who they will be...but they're the same old bickering bunch of monkeys day after day.

You have a commission from God to do mighty things for His Kingdom...but no one seems to be seeking you out.

You have a financial freedom plan outlined...but the cycle of debt seems endless.

Your passions, ideas, and wishes all seem to be in a perpetual state of on hold. (cue elevator music version of the classic 80s rock genre)

You find yourself wondering...
      Is anything ever going to happen?!
      Did I hear wrong?
      Do I need to adjust my goals?
      Maybe it's time to just give up and move on.


Three failed adoption attempts leave a couple discouraged, defeated, and hopeless that they'll ever have the family they've dreamed of.

Fifteen years of prayer and enduring a marriage to an alcoholic, a husband wonders if he heard wrong when he thought God promised restoration.

Years of emptiness, loneliness, and the demands of being the only one, a single mother loses hope that God can do anything in her life but simply get her through.

Passed over for a raise...again...he loses hope that he'll ever be more than just a labourer.


When you're on hold, this is the time that you must let go.

Let go of that which ties you down to this world. Let go of the lie that happiness can only be found in earthly success. Let go of the idea that you are in control.

A man stopped Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me."

That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go.

~ Matthew 19:16, 21-22 (Msg)

When you're on hold, this is the time that you must hold on.

Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me.

Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

~ John 6:35-38 (Msg)

Hold on to the One who holds your dreams in His hands. Hold on to the only Source of hope and joy. Hold on and don't let go.

When life is stuck on hold, and you're haunted by what could have been but is not and never appears to be - let go. And then hold on.

Is there something that you need to let go of today? Are you holding on to the right thing?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You Know it's Bad When... view a video of your own teaching and convict yourself.

Somehow, the enemy got into our heads and convinced us that it was okay to stop tithing "for a while" while we got our debts in order. Now that the veil of deception has been lifted, I cannot believe I bought into that crap! (Yes, I said crap.)

At the poorest time in our lives, we began to tithe regularly, and God provided abundantly and exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine. Now, we live in one of the wealthiest communities in our province (not that we're necessarily wealthy) and we started to worry that maybe God wouldn't provide.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, I figured that if this was one of my "soapbox issues" and the devil managed to get me to compromise my values, maybe I'm not the only one. I hope this little message blesses and encourages you (and maybe even convicts you a bit, like it did me).