Thursday, March 31, 2011

Laughter, Sunshine, and Joy

I have the tendency to take things pretty seriously. Too seriously. I can get so focused that I forget to take time for fun. I overlook the simple joys.

In my times listening to God this week, He's been talking to me with that theme - joy. I feel like He's been telling me to take time each and every day to enjoy something. Just stop whatever it is I'm all serious and intent about, and enjoy. Have fun.

We walked down to the park after dinner the other night. The snow there was still knee deep (on an adult), but the sun was shining and the slides were snow-free. I spent the entire time laughing. Loudly. Hysterically. The dog looked like a dolphin swimming through an ocean of snow. The kids lumbered around like baby elephants, their feet crashing down deep every third step or so.

Pat and I howled at their antics from our perch on top of a picnic table. My heart was ready to burst with all that joy of living.

And I felt God's whisper to my soul...Find the joy every day. Live fully. Live now. Enjoy My gifts.

This morning, I woke late. It's spring break, so I turned off the alarm and snuggled in. When I awoke at 7:48am, I breathed a prayer of thanks and smiled. Knowing that the kids had likely already taken over my quiet time spot, I stayed horizontal and talked with God.

He told me, "Tyler, I have a gift for you today."

What is it?

"Look out the window."

I turned to find clear, blue skies and blinding sunlight.

I felt my Father smile as He said, "That sunshine is for you, daughter. Enjoy."

I will. I most definitely will.

What has God been saying to you lately?

This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's too Easy to be Rude

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel as though customer service personnel are becoming increasingly rude?

When did impatient and condescending responses to customer service requests become appropriate?

Whatever happened to "the customer is always right?"

I think I probably know what happened... Customers became increasingly rude, more demanding, ignorant, and disrespectful. Service personnel got paid less and less while being expected to deal with a higher number of unpleasant customers.

I suppose it's a case of the chicken or the egg.

Either way, it's one of those things that makes me shake my head in wonder and disappointment.

Today, I happened to be the customer on the receiving end of rudeness. Today, I happened to choose to take deep breathes and hold my tongue.

But what really makes me shake my head is how much effort today's response took me. What I really wanted to do was yell and slam down the phone. The same way I did last week when a bill collector incorrectly (for a company I've never heard of) persistently tried to collect from me.

When did it become so easy for me to be rude? (At least when I'm hidden by the anonymity of the telephone.)

I think I ought to stick the following verses to my phone...

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. ~ 2 Timothy 2:24

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. ~ Ephesians 4:2

We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:12b

Because it is way too easy to be rude these days. At least for me.

What about you? Do you regret the way you've dealt with an anonymous someone recently?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three Warning Signs that your Life is out of Balance

Photo courtesy of
 We all do it at some point in our lives. We take on more than we should, more than we can handle with ease. We find ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of busyness. We think, "How in the world will I get it all done?" Yet we are often blind to the fact that we have allowed our lives to slip out of balance.

Here are three warning signs to watch for:

1. You can't remember the last time you said "No."

The healthy, balanced person says no. In fact, she probably says no more often than she says yes. The balanced life is spent doing those things that God has called you to do, using your strengths and gifts, while turning down opportunities that do not fit with your calling.

Too many women (myself included) tend to be "gap fillers." We adhere to the Big Weld philosophy (ever seen Robots?) - "See a need, fill a need." While there are some needs that we must fill for survival (such as feeding our family dinner), we frequently fill other needs due to feelings of obligation or guilt (such as a Sunday school teacher vacancy when we're already serving in ministry).

If you can't remember the last time you said no, start practicing today. Say no to every new thing that comes your way for one whole month. The following month, you'll be enjoying a much more balanced life.

2. You dream about your "to do" list.

We've probably all had a hard time falling asleep due to the stuff on our minds. But have you ever awoke in the morning feeling as though you didn't sleep a wink or that every dream you dreamt was filled with all that stuff? If your list of tasks is creeping its way into your sleeping hours, chances are that list is too long and demands duties that are not fitting with your calling.

I've never had nightmares about a women's ministry meeting or housework (although, I do have waking nightmares about laundry periodically), but I have lost countless hours of sleep over those parent committees and volunteer duties related to the kids' extra-curricular stuff.

If your list haunts you day and night, take a long, hard look and cross off anything and everything that stirs up your anxiety. I promise, the stress associated with calling and cancelling those tasks cannot even compare to the stress that will plague you if you keep doing things out of obligation. (Of course, there may be some items on your list that common courtesy demands you do to completion. Do them first and get rid of them for good.)

3. You fantasize about quitting everything and running away.

I had that fantasy just last night. I wondered, "What would all these crazy people in my house do if I just disappeared for a week?" And I imagined where I would go, which books I would bring, and how I would forget my cell phone at home. Clearly, quitting on my family is not an option! But that little daydream tells me that I'm going to need to quit something...and soon.

Fantasizing about how things will be better is a sign that all is not as it should be. It will be better when... It would be better if... I will be happier... Life will be easier... All these thoughts are the mind's way of telling you that you need to back off and take a little break. While we can't all run off to the Caribbean for a week (which is where I was headed), we all can take a break (whether temporary or permanent) from some of the items on that "to do" list.

What do you think - is your life getting out of balance? If so, what can you do today to begin to change that?

And just in case you're thinking you can manage the out of balance life, check out these Five Consequences of a Life out of Balance by Michael Hyatt.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fifty years of sibling war

A frequent question raised to me by strangers is, "Are they twins?" They're referring to Abbey (9) and Megan (almost 8). It's not because they look a lot alike; in fact, sometimes even I find it hard to believe they're related. It's because of their size. For the past year and a half, their height difference has been barely measurable.

We don't make a big deal about it, and try to emphasize the fact that God creates each one of us unique. But every now and then the girls will get into a bit of a discussion about it. Driving in the car with my mom yesterday, one of those discussions came up.

Grandma decided to help out by sharing from her own life experiences, as she is the older (but smaller) sister. My aunt is thirteen months younger, but was taller than my mom from quite a young age. Grandma talked about how she always wished to be taller so that people would stop assuming she was the younger sister, and how my aunt always wished to be smaller so people weren't always commenting on her height. But ultimately, they are both just right the way they are.

The kids listened in the half-attentive way that is their nature and were ready to move on. Grandma shrugged, leaving the discussion for another day.
But not until she said one final word on the matter. Only I heard her mutter under her breath...

Anyway, I'm smarter than her!

Ha! Just goes to show that sibling rivalry never quite dies. And she who gets the last word, wins.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Drumroll please...

...And the winner is...(according to!

Lynne, email me at with your prize selection and your complete mailing address.

Thanks to everyone for your help! You got my creative juices flowing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Life Sentence

I've been asking God a question each day for about two weeks now. I started by asking Him how He feels about me; I've asked Him things about my ministry; I even asked if there was anything in me that offends Him. This morning, I asked Him what one thing He wants me to do to show His love to my family.

His answer was surprisingly brief: Put their needs before your own.

The selfish me wanted to build in some parenthetical clauses to His suggestion command. I waited, in hopes that He would say something about setting boundaries for my time, and within those set-aside times I could tell everyone I was unavailable. But as long as I put their needs first at other times - the not-me times - I'd be obeying Him. I waited in the quiet for two full absolutely silent minutes.

Since He wasn't saying anything else, I asked, "Is that it?" I didn't sense a reply, but I'm pretty sure I felt a heavenly chuckle wash over me. Nothing else. Just one brief sentence from God. A life sentence. (Perhaps in more ways than one! Kidding, kidding.)

It's fitting, then, that a guest post I wrote a while back is coming out this morning on Frontline Moms...

I am a busy mom of five, an aspiring author and speaker, and an active volunteer in my community. (When I say that, I like to imagine a small chorus of angels applauding. Just kidding!) But you see, being busy sometimes gets me thinking “I’m too busy.”

Imagine me sitting at my computer, working on an article…

“Mom, will you sit and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos with me?”
I’ll be there in a minute. (Which often translates into ten minutes.)

“Mom, can you get me a drink?”...(continued)

Pop over to Frontline Moms to read the rest of the post, and while you're there, I'd love for you to leave a comment! Feel free to stroll around checking out other great posts by Lisa Cherry and her team of Frontline Moms. I'm pretty sure you'll fall in love. (On a little side note, Lisa and I have "known" each other for about a year now, and I had the privilege of meeting her in person a few weeks ago. I saw her speak a WORD at a women's conference! She's shorter than I expected, but every bit as wonderful as I anticipated.)

And while you're clicking links, don't forget about my li'l contest. Today is your last chance to leave a comment!

What's God been talking to you about lately?

This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Thrive, not just Survive

In the past year and a half, 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?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here I am, shamelessly bribing my readers...

Every ministry needs a tagline. Or so they say. (By they, I am referring to smart people who build brands for a living.) The tagline is along the lines of a purpose statement, but more along the lines of describing the value offered by the ministry to the recipients. Is this making any sense to you?! Because it barely is to me...

I have been stumped when it comes to tagline development. Which is where you come in, my friends!

You are the reason I come back here day after day and week after week. You encourage me and bless me, and for some crazy reason you keep on reading! Maybe if I understand why you keep coming back, what you get here that God somehow uses flawed li'l me to give...

So let's have ourselves a little contest! If I've learned anything from having kids, it's that a small amount of bribery can go a long way!

Each person who comments will be entered to win...and you get to choose the prize! Your options are:

1. Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs
2. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
3. A $20 gift card to be used at the java joint of your choice
4. The Well-Behaved Child by John Rosemond
5. Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
6. A $20 iTunes gift card
7. Make up your own prize (price limit, $20)

I would be blessed if every single one of you sweet women who read here took a few seconds to leave a comment with your answers to these questions...

I'll leave the comments open until Friday morning, at which time I will choose a winner. (Okay, I won't choose, but will choose for me.)

Ready? Set? Go!

#1 - What are your favorite topics to read about on this here blogspot? (Try to be specific.)

#2 - What topics would you like to see more of?

#3 - What topics would you like to see less of?

#4 - Using three words, tell me what you hope/expect to find/experience when you stop over.

#5 - Do you stop by regularly (whether you subscribe or click to visit)? Or just occasionally?

And, the bonus question...

#6 - Got a tagline idea for me? Please share!

If I decide to use your tagline, you get to choose a prize, too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crying Over Spilled Bleach

Life is full of disappointments...

Splashing bleach on the sleeve of the only well-fitting brown shirt in the closet.

Writing freelance articles every day for a week and not getting paid.

The impossibly slow fulfillment of ministry dreams.

Children who are typically well-behaved having the week from Hades.

The bonus that is way, way, way less than expected.

So what's a girl to do when life's disappointments seem to pile up so high she can't see over them?

The only thing she can do...Trust.

Trust in the promises given by her Daddy. His assurances that He will provide for her every need. Yes, even clothes.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life —whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

~ Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)

Have you had some disappointments lately? What does this Word from God say to your heart about those let downs?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And my heart turns violently inside of my chest...

I tend to be performance-oriented. Measurable progress motivates me. Crossing items off a list satisfies me. So it's not surprising that, to date, most of my questions for God have revolved around what I do. I've asked Him things about my writing, my parenting, my actions towards friends and strangers.

Today, I could think of nothing to ask. So I asked God what He wants to speak to me about today. In my heart, I sensed a whisper...

Let's talk about how much I love you; you need to be reminded.

And He told me that He loves who I am, not what I do. He told me a hundred ways how He loves me, and the only reason He offered was because I am His.

Not once did He mention the work that I do at home or outside of the home. He didn't bring up my roles as a wife and mother. He didn't talk about my weight, the cleanliness of my house (or lack thereof), my volunteer work.

But over and over again, He washed His waves of Scripture over me, loving me simply because I exist.

Suddenly, the weight of all that pressure - the self-imposed pressure - to do is lifted. I am reminded that the most important thing is not to do, but to be. To be His, to be in His presence, to be in His love.

Psalm 139

How He Loves (David Crowder Band)
* The title for this post is a line from the song.

This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we are taking time to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join - for just one post or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking into your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Braeden's Birthday Blessing

A birthday blessing for you, my eldest son, my teenager.
Braeden, I pray that out of God's glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.

And I pray that you, Braeden, will be rooted and established in love, that you may have power, together with all the believers, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ is for you. And to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in your life, Braeden, and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

~ Ephesians 3:14-20

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sleeping with Frogs

Control freak.

We've all heard it said. We've probably used it to describe someone else. Some of us proudly wear the banner ourselves.

Control freak.

Sometimes we try to gloss it over. I can't count the times where I've thought, "I better just do it myself if I want to make sure it's done right." I re-fold laundry that my children have helped with. I re-arrange the dishwasher that my husband loaded. I re-write and re-do until I've re-ed myself to death!

Every now and then, my inner control freak comes up and slaps me in the face. Like when I try to be in charge of things I'm not in charge of. Like when I try to be in charge of things that God's in charge of. Like when I try to fix something on my own that I need help to fix - God's help.

You know those things. We should never have let them get messed up in the first place, so we should be able to straighten them out on our own. Weight issues. Money issues. Anxiety. Anger. Addictions.

We know that God can help. We know it in our heads. We should ask Him for help...let Him help. But we don't. We cling to our iniquities as though they were diamonds we mined with our own hands. We hold fast and tight, hiding them and burying them. Because we should be dealing with it on our own.

Control freak.

Are you one?

I want to share with you a snippet of the message Sheila Wray Gregoire shared last night at Girls Night Out...

So here is my question for you:

Are you sleeping with frogs?

Is there something in your life that has you miserable, that you are allowing to stay there - keeping you miserable - because you aren't ready to turn over control?

Control freak.

I was one. But with God's help, I'm in recovery.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Reason I Love Monday

Is there anything more beautiful than the feeling of a fresh start?

Every Monday represents another chance to get it right. A new week to keep the house clean. A new week to do better with the kids. A new week to eat well and exercise.

Everything starts over on Mondays. It's a clean slate.

Do you make Monday resolutions, too?

Or do you have a different favorite day of the week? What do you love about that day?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Listening to God - Where to Start

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your ~ Jeremiah 29:12-13

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
~ John 10:27

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
~ Isaiah 30:21

In His Word, God promises us that when we seek Him we will find Him. He tells us that we can hear His voice. And He assures us that He will guide and direct us.

Lately, I have sensed the Lord nudging me to toss out my old routine. To change things up. To seek Him more than I seek to complete a series of tasks.

He wants to speak to me - personally, practically, and continually.

I need to hear Him.

Instead of completing my Bible study assignment, practicing my Scripture memory verses, and then praying (if I have any time left), I am starting my morning time with Him in prayer, ready to listen.

I close my eyes and sing to Him from my heart (if anyone else is awake I sing in my head)...

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the Fountain
Dip your heart in the Stream of Life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)
Come, Lord Jesus, come (x3)
Holy Spirit, come (x3)
(lyrics by Brenton Brown & Glenn Robertson, also sung by Kutless)

I wait for the quiet to overtake my heart, for the sense of the nearness of His Presence and the filling of His Spirit...and then I ask, I listen, and I write...

How has He been speaking to you?

This post is part of a weekly Lent series, Without Question, where we take time each day to ask God the questions that are on our hearts and listen for His answers. Anyone is welcome to join us - for just one week or for the entire series.

To participate, simply write a blog post (or if you don't have a blog, leave a comment) about what God has been speaking to your heart. In your post, provide a link back to this post. If you wish, you can also insert the WQ graphic in your post. Then insert the URL for your Without Question blog post in the McLinky below.

This post has also been linked to Thought-Provoking Thursday.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Songs that Speak

A bit of a continuation from yesterday's post...

Are there any songs, Scriptures, or quotes that speak to your heart about what it means to truly follow? Please share it in the comments.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to be a Follower

What does it mean to follow God?

I`ve often thought of it as game of Follow the Leader, where we trot along behind Him doing what He does. Jesus loves the poor and downtrodden, so I try to do the same. Jesus forgives, and so should I. Jesus leads people to His Father, which is what I want to do.

Yet I can't help but think there is something more to being a follower of Christ than simply mimicking His actions and attitudes.

I keep stumbling across verses that tell me following Him will require leaving something behind, giving something up, sacrificing something...

 At once they left their nets and followed him. ~ Matthew 4:20

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ~ Matthew 16:24

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” ~ Matthew 19:21
So I guess the real question is... What is it we must give up in order to follow God?
What is He asking you to sacrifice in order to follow after Him wholeheartedly?

If I saw You on the street
And You said, "Come and follow me,"
But I had to give up everything,
All I once held dear
And all of my dreams...

Would I love You enough to let go?
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cravings, Talking to God, and Bathrooms

* Hold on! You may not care to read about my weight loss challenges, and that's cool. But before you just skip over this post, I thought you should know that there's some important info about our new series at the end of this post. Just this very moment I named the new series Forty Questions for Jesus. *

I don't know what week I'm on, and I've not been doing my best. I haven't gained, but I'm not really losing. I'm not thinking about what I put in my mouth, nor am I particularly motivated to exercise. Sigh.

Tomorrow, a friend and I are going to begin studying Made to Crave together. We have both been reading it on our own and finding it so encouraging and helpful...when we are consistent. Our hope is that working on it together will hold us both accountable to stay consistent, not only in working through the study, but in tracking our food and getting enough exercise.

We both feel that our "issues" with food are getting in the way of our relationship with God, and our hope is that by getting our habits under control, we will grow closer in our walk with the Lord together.

All that to say, this little series of posts will be retiring. But I will keep you updated on my progress and share little tidbits of encouragement for others on this journey. Mkay?

In more exciting news, our new Lent series, Forty Questions for Jesus is going to be starting up on Thursday and running for seven weeks! Starting this Wednesday (Ash Wed), I am going to take a pause during my morning quiet time for listening. I'm going to blog about what I learn, and of course I hope that you will join in.

Given that Thursday is our first post, and we're only beginning Wednesday, I thought I'd offer some inspiration. How about we all begin this week with three questions?

Wednesday - Lord, what do You think/feel about me?
Thursday - Lord, what are Your plans and purposes for my life?
Friday - Jesus, if we could play a game together, what game would You play with me and why?
(These questions are from Donna Jordan's Listening to God curriculum.)

I find it helpful to journal the response I "hear" in my heart when I ask God questions, that way I'm not adding my own thoughts into the mix. And it's always nice to save those answers and re-read them from time to time.

If you and God take a different direction in your time of listening prayer, that's fine too! It is less about asking Him the "right" questions than it is about simply learning to ask and listen. I can't wait to go deeper with Him and with you!

I also just had to tell you...I spent over an hour this morning cleaning one shower stall! Crazy, eh? I am proud to announce that every bit of layered soap scum has been obliterated and you can once again see through the glass doors. (Us homemakers need to share the little accomplishments some days. *grin*)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Looking Ahead

I booked a camp site last weekend. For May long weekend. Yup, three months in advance.

If you're one of my non-Canadian friends, I'm sure you are baffled by that little tidbit. But you see, uphereincanada it is C-O-L-D for about 75-80% of the year. So when it's not cold, or offers the hopeful possibility of maybe not being cold, we celebrate by living outdoors. By "we" I mean pretty much all 33 million of us. Therefore, if one wishes to camp at a facility that offers a few amenities (as opposed to camping in the middle of the bush, not brushing your teeth for a week, and using foliage as toilet my husband wishes to do), one must secure a camp site three months ahead of time.

Here's the thing... I am not fond of insects. Some might say I have issues. No one who knows me would ever make the mistake of referring to me as "outdoorsy." In fact, for many years I have refused my man's requests begging to go camping. Because....ewwwwww! It matters not how civilized your camping facility is - bugs are there.

Last spring, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to the purchase of a travel trailer. Proving the fact that, if you bug Mommy enough, she will give you what you want. My man, who knows his woman well, wisely chose a spacious camper loaded with the comforts of home. We tried it out a few times and (oh, I cannot believe I am about to say this) I LOVED IT! Except for all the bugs. Ew.

So as I sit in front of my screen, giving the old one-eye to our nasty weather forecast, I am having visions of campfires and lawn chairs, barbeque* and potato chips (low fat ones, of course). Hurry up, May long weekend! And please, please, please, don't snow as you can be so apt to do.

* Spellcheck seems to think it should be "barbecue," but that's just not Canadian!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Spiritual Checklist

Picture from
Do you ever find yourself caught up in completing a "spiritual checklist?"

Read Bible. Check.

Pray. Check.

Go to church. Check.

Attend Bible study. Check.

Be good. Check.

If you answered "yes" to that question, here's another...

Do you find that going through the checklist helps you build a closer relationship to God? Or do you tend to feel further away from Him?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rescue for a Broken Marriage

I have a friend (more than one, actually) whose marriage feels as though it's about to implode. Trust has been broken too many times, words that cut delivered with every disagreement, and the heartache seems unending.

I've been there. Spent a good five years in that place, in fact. All I have to do is close my eyes and I am instantly transported back to the days of dull, aching, pain in my head, gut, chest, and throat - symptoms of a heart that is breaking over and over again. It's hard for me to recall what we argued over or why we had such a hard time loving, but the feelings that accompanied the trials are never far.

I thank God every day for my husband and our marriage...because for a number of years I never really believed we'd make it. But God knew. And He took each tiny ounce of willingness we offered and grew it exponentially. Today, after eleven and a half years of marriage, I am very much in love and know that I am loved and treasured.

So I do not say this lightly...

My sweet friend, you and you alone have the power to save your marriage from the depths of destruction. The world will tell you that "it takes two," and that "you deserve better," and "sometimes it's better to let go." Your own heart will tell you those same things. But there is something you need to know... The world is lying to you. You heart will deceive you. That feeling of wanting to give up - it's a big, fat lie from the very pit of hell.

It takes only one willing heart to save a doomed marriage. One willing heart that is bowed down in submission and obedience to the One True God.

Here are three things you can do to begin the restorative work in your marriage.

1. Don't believe your feelings. Your feelings will deceive you almost every time. Instead, when you feel hurt, abandoned, betrayed, justified, or angry, stop. Right then and there - step away and stop. Ask God, "What is Your Truth in this situation?" Listen for His answer in your heart and search out His Word for confirmation. Then write down the Truth. When you are tempted to let your emotions take over (we're women, when are we not?), grab that piece of paper and remind yourself of the Truth.

2. Stop trying to make things better. Us women, we want to talk thing through until they're resolved. Men, on the other hand, need to think things through. Alone. We think we need to follow them around, pushing and prying until they will "talk it out." We're wrong. To a man, our path to resolution looks and feels like we are starting a fight. Instead, talk it through with God. Work out those feelings in a letter (one that is destroyed after you're done writing, reading, and re-reading it). Pour it out to a trusted girlfriend - someone who loves you so much that you know she will never hate your husband or encourage you to give up.

3. Communicate your love to him in a way he understands. Not in the way you understand. Read and re-read The Five Love Languages and Love and Respect. Figure out what actions and words communicate to his heart, then use them. And when you feel like you've got nothing left to give, keep doing it. Not for him, not even for yourself, but for Him. Offer all your love to Jesus, and when your husband crosses your path, let it bump into him too. (And not that I need to mention it, but there is one way that almost all men hear "I love you." *wink*)

I can't promise you it will come easily. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this will be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life. But I can promise you this - God has a good plan for you and your life (Jeremiah 29:11), He loves you and your husband (Jeremiah 31:3), and He is for your marriage (Malachi 2:16). While you may be tempted to give up...on your marriage, on your man, on yourself...God will never give up. So give it to Him, let Him fight the battle for you, and all you need to do is walk in obedience. One day at a time.

With just one wiling heart, bent in obedience, God can not only save your marriage, He can restore it completely! (Joel 2:25)

P.S. Lest you think too highly of me, those three things were learned the hard way in my life. Shoot, I have to keep on re-learning them on a daily basis! Especially the part about not following him around trying to make him talk about stuff...