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Out of Control

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I am ashamed to admit it, but even after 30 years of walking with the Lord, I still doubt sometimes. I still look at situations and feel like I need to – or can – fix them. And, yet, because God is incredibly patient and kind, He still , after 30 years, graciously reminds me that He is in control, and He loves us.Image result for god at work

Here’s my most recent “Crisis”: My oldest daughter’s college choice. First, I need to tell you that I agonized ALL YEAR over the fact that Emma would be leaving home. I was stressed, my body was messed up, my emotions were all over the place. I was a wreck.

And then, when I finally worked through all that and was at peace with her leaving…everything fell apart. The financing we thought we had for her to attend college away from home fell through.

So then I was stressed because I felt badly for her – all her plans, all her friends…my poor girl!! Why can’t she leave home?

So we spent the summer trying to help her adjust to this new reality. (By “we”, I mean my husband) She cancelled her registration, room and board, and schedule for her out-of-state school, and registered for classes at the local community college.

I struggled with that, too, because Emma wants to be a Christian counselor. To best prepare for that career, Emma would most benefit from attending a Christian college. But the Lord didn’t seem to be allowing that.

Image result for god is in control

And then, less than a month before school was to start, God started blowing open the doors for Emma to attend a Christian college in our area. She got scholarships, a Grant, and gained entrance into the school’s Honor program, where she can major in Psychology, taught from a Christian worldview. And she can live at home!

God, of course, knew all of this. He knew this last year when I was having my meltdowns over Emma leaving home. He knew it when I was stressed out all this summer over her not  leaving home. He knew it when I chose to wallow in fear and worry instead of trusting in Him.

Now, as I look back over this incredibly unexpected turn of events, I realize I spent a miserable year, living in fear and worry and stress, when I didn’t need to. God had everything worked out for Emma’s good. He cares for her far more than I do, and He knows what is truly best for her.

I could have enjoyed last year more, I could have slept better this summer, I could have rested in the peace of knowing God is in control. But I didn’t.

Because God is a good Father, He isn’t done with me. He wants me to learn this lesson, to trust Him no matter what. So He has dropped another situation in my lap where I can either choose to fear or choose to trust. And I’ll be honest, my flesh wants to fear, to stress, to question…But the Spirit reminds me of who God is, what He has done. His Word reminds me that GOD IS IN CONTROL, and I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. God is at work. And He is good. I can – and should – place all my trust in Him.

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. ~Proverbs 29:25

Freedom from Legalism

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I always worry when I write about legalism. It’s like writing about humility – the minute you think you’ve got it, it’s gone.

But I feel the need because it’s just so easy to slip into a legalistic attitude. I know, because I fight that battle daily.

Image result for to do list


So what is legalism? Most simply put, it’s “pursuing good works with the intention of earning God’s favor.” Few Christians would say we believe that – obviously, we know the Bible says salvation is by grace through faith. But practically, it just “feels” like we should have to do more.

I, personally, like “checklists”. Right now, I have a long electronic Post-It note on my computer with a list of papers I need to grade, emails I need to send, people I need to contact. I love deleting each task as it’s completed. I feel so accomplished!!

But when that attitude worms its way into my Christian life, I’m in trouble. When reading my Bible, praying,  and going to church becomes a “checklist”, I am moving into legalism. When I feel like checking those “boxes” earns me ‘points’ with God, I am fully immersed in legalism. Once there, it’s an easy jump to look at others and judge them – they aren’t reading the “right” version of the Bible, they aren’t praying in the “right” way, not going to the “right” church. They, in short, aren’t serving God “my” way, so they are wrong.

What’s the cure for this? Jesus. Image result for jesus love me


Jesus didn’t come to bring us a “To-Do” list. The Old Testament believers tried that for  a couple thousand years. It didn’t work. Trying to earn salvation is like trying to dig a hole to get to the moon: with every move, we just get farther from our goal.

Jesus came to offer us the GIFT of salvation because He loves us. He loves us!! I sing and say that so much that I sometimes forget the amazing truth of it. Jesus loves ME!!

So the cure for trying to earn God’s favor is to accept God’s favor. And, once we accept it, we can love others because Jesus loves us. We can forgive others because Jesus forgives us. We can accept faults in others because Jesus accepts us, faults and all. Reading and praying and attending church isn’t a means to earn the favor of God, but a way to rejoice in the fact that we have it.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1

The Eli Diaries

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 comments

It has been a while since I’ve written anything new, and I am SUPER excited to tell you that I am back!! I am thrilled to tell you guys about the new project I am part of…

In this series of novellas, the question is asked:

What if Jesus were in high school today?
Who would he hang out with?
What would he say?
What would he do?

Authors Bill Myers, Melody Carlson, Jeff Gerke, Shawn Hopkins, and I will each be writing from the perspective of one of Eli’s fellow students:

  • Maggie: the all-school sleep-around
  • Judas: the super-rich friend always looking for an angle
  • Martha: the good, uber-religious girl
  • Tommy: the pessimistic downer
  • Pete: a hot-tempered jock with a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease

The first in the series is out today, and is told from Satan’s perspective. His goal, of course, is to destroy Eli’s mission before it ever begins.

Please check out this exciting series, and tell your friends.

Thanks, guys!! It’s good to be back 🙂


Just Not Good Enough

Posted by on Aug 5, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

We might not all say it, but we ALL feel, at one time or another, some of us more often than others, that we are just not good enough.

We look at others and see so many who are smarter, prettier, richer. We see girls who seem to have it all together and we get discouraged because we are SO not together.

Just about everyone struggles with these feelings. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many girls I’ve talked to who are beautiful, stunning, yet look at themselves in the mirror and think they are the ugliest girl on the planet. Or girls who seem to breeze through even the toughest classes, but are wracked with worry every night before a big test. Sometimes the girls who seem to know everyone feel incredibly lonely and unloved.

Becoming a supermodel or a famous singer or a movie star doesn’t change it, either. Believe it or not, those folks have even more pressure than we do. Many of them struggle with insecurity to a degree that would shock most of us “normal folks.”Image result for bible verse in your mind

So here’s the deal: The problem isn’t that you’re not good enough. The problem is that you are believing a lie. That lie comes straight from the Father of Lies himself, and the way we battle with him is by using Truth – the Word of God.  Replace those lies with Truth every time they come into your mind. Every time.

Here are a few verses of Truth to start with. Memorize them. Write them on a post-it and stick it on your bathroom mirror, your bedroom wall. Fill your mind with  ”whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8 Fill your mind so full of Truth that there is no room left for the lies.

Ps. 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together   in my mother’s womb. I praise you  because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.”

I John 3:1a “See what great love  the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings   in order that we may also share in his glory.”

How Do I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Finding God’s will is a sometimes-overwhelming prospect. While we know a lot for sure, there are others areas that are gray. How do we navigate those areas?Image result for finding God's will

This is in my mind right now because my oldest is wrestling through it. As a recent high school graduate, she has a lot of new, adult decisions to make: where to go to school, to church, what to study, who to date…She thought she had at least the first of those all figured out. She chose a college last fall, got scholarships, had her dorm and roommate all picked out and then…circumstances intervened and that fell through.

So what does a Jesus-follower do when we don’t know what God wants? When there’s no verse that says, “Go to _____ college,” “Study ___________”, “Marry _______”?

Pray. I know this sounds cliche. But prayer is powerful – when we pray, we are communicating to the Creator of the Universe! He knows everything, including where you should go to college, what you should study, and who you should marry. So talk to Him. And listen. God has given us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us.

Seek Wise Counsel. The Proverbs tells us there is wisdom in counsel. So talk with your parents, your pastor, and other people in your life that you know have walked the Christ-life longer than you. What do they think about these decisions? What mistakes have they made that you could avoid? What wise choices have they made that you could emulate?

Image result for prov. 3:5-6Study the Word. If what you want to do is opposed to what God clearly states, then it is not God’s will. God would never ask you to have sex outside of marriage. God would never ask you to be dishonest. God would never ask you to disrespect your parents. And, ladies, God would never want you to date someone who doesn’t share your faith. For the rest, seek biblical principles. For what to be: God has gifted you with talents and abilities. How can you use those in a career? For who to marry: Examine what men of God look like in the Bible and find someone who fits that model (be sure you’re striving to be a woman of God, too!).

Take a leap of faith. Sometimes, we do all that, and we’re still not 100% sure. That has been our family’s testimony on more than one occasion. In those times, we recall the advice my father-in-law gave us: “Just step out and trust God.” If you feel God directing you there, if those in your life agree with it, if the scripture doesn’t contradict it, then go! God rarely gives us the “whole story”. He shows us our story one page at a time. And some of those pages seem a little crazy. But as long as we are wholeheartedly seeking the Author and Finisher of our faith, we can be confident in Him.

Embracing the Uncomfortable

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 3 comments

I hate being uncomfortable. I hate tension. I hate change. I want everyone to be happy and healthy and for life to go smoothly. I want disagreements to be limited to chocolate vs. vanilla or tea vs. coffee (the correct answers being chocolate and coffee, of course!) isn’t like that. There is discomfort and tension and change. There is unhappiness and sickness and disagreements that rip people apart.

Image result for embrace cactusIt’s not that some people enjoy the above-mentioned horrors. But some can manage them better. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. My husband jokes that, in difficult times, I am like a snapping turtle – I either sink into my “shell” and avoid everyone, or I come out snapping off fingers and toes!

Lately, I have bounced between both locations, I am ashamed to say. And the fact is, I don’t feel any better in the shell or out snapping. Those responses don’t make situations better. They don’t solve problems (in reality, they make the problems worse!).

I have come to the realization that I have to learn to embrace the uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean enjoying tough situations.  But it does mean that I keep my head outside of my “shell” – with my mouth closed – and that I keep moving.

The only way through difficult times is to go through them. Like it or not, comfortable or not, no matter how tough it is. God has called me to follow Him. Sometimes, He leads me beside still waters and other times, through the valley of the shadow of death. But no matter what, He is with me. I will trust in Him.

Hanging On

Posted by on Jul 6, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

This morning, our family visited friends in the Imperial Valley, an agricultural area about two hours east of us. My husband, David, had the privilege of spending six years there as a pastor’s kid, and he maintains many of the relationships he forged there. One of those was the couple we visited today – David’s youth leaders!

Along with some great stories of pre-teen David, the kids got shooting lessons and sage advice. We also got to see several dozen date trees. I had never seen a date tree! Or maybe I had, but I just called it a palm tree and didn’t realize there was fruit beneath the fronds.

But there is fruit. A lot of fruit! As Gary picked one off the branch, he bit it to show us the inside – it looks a lot like an apple, but with a pit like a cherry. I asked if we could eat one. He laughed and said, “You don’t want to eat one yet! They aren’t ripe. They need another month or so before they are ready to be harvested.”

The he showed us one that had come loose from the vine. It was a putrid shade of greenish-brown and looked shriveled and sad. This one, Gary told us, broke away too soon. It’s not sweet enough to eat, and it can’t be placed back on the vine to receive the nutrients it needs. So it just has to be discarded. It’s no good.

I thought of the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Jesus was speaking to folks who understood agriculture: they knew just how necessary the vine is – how absolutely impossible it is for fruit to develop apart from it. As I looked at those dates – the ones holding firm to their source – I understood this parable in a way I hadn’t before.

I began thinking, how often do I pull away from my source? How often do I try and look for solutions to a problem that can only be repaired by hanging on to the One from whom all strength resides?

Thankfully, our amazing heavenly Father doesn’t resign us to withering away and being tossed out when we pull away from Him. He grafts us back, if we are willing. Through His grace, He weaves us back into Himself, He pours life and hope into us, He matures and strengthens us.

I’ll be honest- some days, I just want to let go. Holding on seems hard. It seems pointless. It seems exhausting. I begin to wonder if life wouldn’t just be easier if I did it my way. But the reality is, when I do choose to let go, I shrivel up. I become sour and ugly and useless.

The reality is, I need the vine. I need Him because He has resources I don’t have and I can’t manufacture on my own. Through Him, I get strength to endure. Through Him, I get courage to face difficulties. Through Him, I grow.

Apart from Him, I can do nothing.

With Him, I can do all things.

You Can’t Do It All

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How am I? You ask.

Busy. I am busy. 

Like most people today, I have taken on more than I should, and I am constantly running behind, running late, running on too little sleep.

I should know better. I DO know better. A few years back, I got so busy, I was in almost-total burn-out. Months on end with no real rest took its toll on my body, my mind, and my soul. Not to mention my family!!

But that was a few years ago. Time has passed. I’ve forgotten what I learned in that season. I am not in the burn-out stage yet. But I am on that road.

So here is a list of reminders for me, as I seek to free myself from this “busyness” cycle. Feel free to add in any that you think I’ve missed…

  • Pick a God. A couple years ago, I read the book  gods at war by Kyle Idleman. It is convicting, but so good. In it, Idleman argues that we say God is “first” in our lives, but in reality, we are worshipping other gods. For me, the “gods” of Approval and Success are at the top of my list. I want people to like me and think I’m great, so I spend my days “sacrificing” to those gods. If God were really first, it would be HIS good opinion I craved, HIS kingdom I sought. And, in doing that, it would be HIS peace I’d have daily.
  • Prioritize. There are some things I HAVE to do. But there are a lot of things I just want to do. And there are things I think I should do. And, if I am worshipping the wrong god, I confuse the three and think they’re all “have to’s”. I burn myself out trying to get them all done. The truth is, though, there are really just a few things I HAVE to do. I need to determine what those “have to’s” are and let some of the others go – even if that means people don’t like me or consider me a failure.
  • Just Say No. It’s not just for drugs. It’s not even just for bad things. Sometimes, we need to say no to good things. Sometimes, I need to say I just can’t go to that game because my body needs rest. Or I can’t go to that retreat because I can’t fill one more weekend. Sometimes, I need to say that those papers won’t be graded for a few days because it isn’t fair to my family. For many of us, “no” is a difficult word to say. But it is necessary.
  • Say Yes. Too often, I skip the “have to’s” for the “want to’s” or “should’s”. I am up late because of a game or papers or a TV show, and I sleep in, forgoing my time with God. Or I spend all my energy on work and, when I get home, I have no energy left for my husband or my kids. When I have the right priorities, I make sure I get a good night’s sleep so I can get up and spend that time with God. I do just what I can at work, then leave, knowing my family is more important than my job. I say no to the less important so I can say yes to what really matters.
  • Start TODAY. I SO want to say, “And I will implement these AS SOON AS…” this project is over, this season ends, this crisis passes. I want to put it off because the gods of Approval and Success scream at me to worship them a little longer. But I can’t. They are false, and they are destructive. And I am tired. So I will start today.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Heb. 3:13

Not Surprised

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 5 comments

In November 2000, I was 7 months  pregnant with my second child, Eliana. I had been going to a midwife, planning to deliver at a birthing center. Because my spine is fused, I can’t get an epidural. I chose a midwife because they offer some alternative pain management that doctors don’t. However, midwives don’t deliver babies that are in breech position – head up. And Eliana was in breech position. So, two months before my due date, I had to find a doctor. Who would take me at 7 months. With a fused spine. And a breech baby.

November 2000

But it “just so happened” that my Bible Study Fellowship small group leader was married to an Obstetrician. A Christian OB who specialized in high-risk pregnancies and who was willing to take a late term patient with a fused spine.

I went to this doctor – and I was pretty nervous. This was not my plan! The first thing Dr. Blair did was put a hand on my shoulder and say, “You know what, God isn’t looking down saying, ‘Oh no! That baby is breech? What do I do?’ No way. He already knows that baby, He knows you, and He’s going to tell us what to do.”

So we talked about plans – turning the baby (ouch!), delivering feet first (ouch, ouch!), C-Section (I’d be put completely to sleep and wake up with a baby…yes, please!!). We agreed to spend a week praying, and then make a decision at the next appointment.

When I went back the next week, Dr. Blair put a hand on my stomach and just laughed. Eliana had turned. And she wasn’t a small baby. At delivery (Jan. 8), she weighed almost 9 lbs. And I had no idea she turned a complete flip that week. It shouldn’t have happened…I was too late, she was too big, there was no room. But there it was.

I didn’t get to go to sleep and wake up with a baby. But I  did learn a great lesson: Nothing surprises God. I knew that, intellectually. But I didn’t know it, experientially.

God always has a plan. And it is rarely the same as mine.Image result for psalm 9:10

In the years since, I have learned this lesson in more ways. Sometimes – several times – the ending wasn’t nearly as happy as Eliana’s delivery. But every time, God got us through whatever unexpected situation occurred. And He taught us through it. He increased our faith and drew us closer to Him. In fact, “unhappy endings” were often the times that grew my faith the most.

God uses the unexpected events in our lives to remind us He is in control and He is never surprised. We can trust Him. No matter what.


Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I recently read that, prior to the 1920s, most women had mirrors that were tarnished.  The view they received in those mirrors, then, was fuzzy, imperfect. Like one of the distorted SnapChat filters. Image result for mirror tarnished

As mirrors improved, women were shocked at what they saw: blemishes, wrinkles, dark spots, under-eye bags, crow’s feet, red blotches – no more filter!

Beauty products suddenly became a booming business.

As I read this, I thought about these verses…

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:23-25)

James says the Word of God is a mirror – a clear mirror that shows us our imperfections. A mirror that, at times, can make us uncomfortable. But a mirror that reflects reality so we can know exactly what needs to be fixed. When we remember that image – those ugly imperfections – we can focus on asking for help to overcome them (info on that in James, too!).

But I think many of us today have the same problem women prior to the 1920s had: we’re not looking in good Image result for mirror god's wordmirrors. Instead of peering into the Word of God for our “how do I look?” check, we look at other people and other books, even blogs like mine. Nothing is wrong with reading this blog (I’m so glad you do!), but it is meant as an encouragement, not a replacement for time spent in God’s Word. Devotionals are great, Christian books are great, talks with other believers are great, but none of those are as beneficial to your “spiritual beauty” as DAILY time spent in the Word of God.

So maybe it’s time for a mirror check – where are you looking to determine how you truly look? If it’s been a while since you’ve looked in the mirror of God’s word, then open it up, dive back in. Don’t be content with a “filter” on your spiritual mirror.