1. Happy Wives Club {Review + Giveaway}

    March 28, 2014 by admin

    This week I’m over at Start Marriage Right reviewing the New York Times bestselling book Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver. There is also an opportunity to win a copy of the book! I hope you’ll join me over there today.

    Here is an excerpt from my article:

    I feel incredibly blessed and humbled to be happily married.

    However, I know that many people do not share my experience of joy in marriage. As I shared in Five Marriage Lessons From a Newlywed, one of the main messages about marriage that I heard from so many people before I got married was one of negativity; and that marriage is mostly hard work.

    That has not been my personal experience nor the experience of many of my friends, so I was thrilled to discover Fawn Weaver and her website Happy Wives Club. Fawn recently released a New York Times bestselling book of the same name: Happy Wives Club.

    Fawn traveled around the world, to 12 countries on six continents, to see if she could discover the secrets to a happy marriage. During her travels Fawn interviewed couples who have been happily married for 25+ years and out of these interviews she penned her book that is filled with interesting stories about each couple’s life and the wisdom they have learned in their marriages.

    CLICK HERE to keep reading this article.

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  2. If You Want to Walk on Water…

    March 11, 2014 by admin

    There is a great quote that says, “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.”

    It’s referring to Matthew 14:22-33 when Jesus was walking on water and invited Peter to do the same thing:

    “Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

    Jesus said, “Come ahead.”

    Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

    Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.”

    I love that Peter was bold enough to ask God for an invitation to join Him in such a supernatural experience. And that Jesus replied, “Come ahead.”

    I recently received an amazing opportunity to attend a conference in another country. I felt so strongly prompted to attend, and I couldn’t get past that feeling. But in my natural thinking I thought it was rather crazy to even consider that God would be leading me to go, and rather last minute, too.

    And yet I couldn’t shake it.

    So my husband and I started praying. And praying…and praying. We asked some close friends to pray with us about it.

    Over the days that I was praying, I realized that I had been asking God for blatant, out of the blue confirmations that were so big and obvious I couldn’t miss that it was God. But what I got instead was a steady stream of smaller confirmations. Not fireworks, but simply “Come ahead.”

    God speaks to us in different ways at different times. Sometimes it is in a dramatic way like Paul’s conversion, and sometimes it’s in a whisper like Moses in the cleft of the rock

    The important part is to be open to listen for how God is speaking to us in each moment. It may not be in the way we are expecting.

    If you are expecting a shout you might miss a whisper.

    So, once it seemed pretty darn clear that God was saying to me, “Come ahead”, I realized I didn’t know if I actually wanted to get out of the boat. I mean, the boat can feel safe and comfortable, can’t it? It has a nice view and sitting there doesn’t require any effort on my part; no risk or exercising of my faith.

    When I really thought about it, I realized I was hesitating for two reasons:

    1. Fear of stepping out. What if I sink?

    2. Not feeling sure that I wanted to make the effort because it wouldn’t be easy.

    I decided that those weren’t good enough reasons to stay in the boat.

    God could have easily closed one or all doors to this opportunity but He didn’t. And He seemed to be saying, “Come ahead.” So, I made the decision not just to step out in faith but to leap out and move forward. Since then I have received many prophetic words of confirmation and blessings from others regarding this opportunity.

    In other words, I’ve stepped out of the boat and I’m walking.

    My question for all of us today is…What is keeping you in the boat when Jesus is actually calling you to walk on water?

    Could your hesitation be from fear? Lies? Doubt that Jesus is really saying to you, “come ahead”?

    With great risk comes great reward. I’m not talking about taking absurdly unwise risks, of course. But if we want to experience all that God has for us on this earth, there is going to be risk involved. Period. There are going to be steps of faith—sometimes even huge, flying leaps of faith—required of us.

    I’ve decided I’m up for the risk because I want to be a part of something greater than myself.

    What about you?

     

     

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  3. New Podcast: Oh God, I Watch For You!

    February 12, 2014 by admin

    Hi Everyone! I have a new podcast up and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen and be encouraged. In it I give a word of encouragement from the life of David from Psalm 59. David went through intense trials but instead of letting those experiences make him bitter, they made him a worshiper of God! And as a result, in every difficult experience, David watched for God’s deliverance because he knew that God would help him.

    CLICK HERE to get to the Podcasts page. Then listen to Oh God, I Watch For You!

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  4. Words of Truth Bring Healing

    February 6, 2014 by admin

    Have you ever read a verse in the Bible for the hundredth time thinking that you could not possibly learn anything new from it, only to have it floor you? That happened to me a few weeks ago as I read through the book of Revelation.

    If you’re a Christian you’ve probably heard or read the following verse, and especially heard it used in reference to evangelism. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says:

     “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.”

    That’s a pretty great verse talking about the Savior of the world wanting to fellowship with you…and me.


    But in context, who is Jesus talking to and what precedes it?

    We see in Revelation 3:14-22 that Jesus is addressing the church in Laodicea. And He doesn’t sugarcoat it. These are words you probably never want to hear from God…unless of course they could save your life:

     “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.” (Revelation 3:15-17, Message)

    Those are intense words but they are actually words filled with love. Everyone in this church in Laodicea is created in the image of God, and He has beautiful plans for their lives. But they had gotten off track. Way off track.

    When God corrects us it’s because He loves us and wants to help us. Really!

    Shortly after those verses He says this:

    “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! (Revelation 3:19, Message)

    In the original language, what the Message version interprets as “about face” is the word “repent”. In Greek the word is metanoeó.

    It means “to change your mind; to change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God).” It’s a verb, which is an action. It means you make a decision to do an “about face” and head in the other direction. It’s not just a thought, there is action to it.

    As in choosing to turn from death (sin) and turn to Jesus (eternal life).

    And then we come to this: “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.” Revelation 3:20

    The beautiful thing about this is that even when we are choosing to be far from God, and acting in a way that actually makes Him sick to His stomach, He calls us back to wholeness. He wants us to be well. He wants us to turn around; to make a decision to do things differently.

    And then He wants to have dinner with us; to talk and eat and laugh and fellowship.

    Jesus isn’t standing on the other side of the door with a bat ready to hit us over the head.

    Quite the opposite.

    He’s standing on the other side of the door with a cheesecake that He’s bringing for dessert at the dinner party we’ve invited Him to. He wants to spend time with us.

    I want to encourage you today that if you feel you’ve gotten a bit off track, or if God is showing you that yep, you’re way off track, you have the opportunity to turn around. It’s a choice for you today.

    And if God is correcting you, it’s because He loves you and so desperately wants you to be well; to live to the fullest in the abundant life He died to give you.

    Don’t ignore His prompting. Invite Him in. Sit at the table with Him. Eat some cheesecake.

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  5. The Importance of Kindness

    January 28, 2014 by admin

    I stepped up to order a quick take-out lunch at the counter of a Mexican restaurant. The waitress greeted me and asked for my order. I greeted her back by smiling and saying hello, and then placed my order. When she handed me a cup for my drink I reminded her that I hadn’t ordered a drink. She responded that she was giving me a free drink because I had been so nice to her.

    So nice to her?

    I had simply smiled and said hello. That was “so nice”?

    Maybe it’s just me but there seems to be less overall kindness and care for others in the world lately. And I can only imagine that being in the service industry, one experiences a lot of unkindness. Rude customers, entitled attitudes or simply those who want their goods without having to say hello, please or thank you. Give me what I want and give it to me now.

    That this young woman was so touched by the fact that I smiled and acknowledged her presence speaks volumes of the importance of even the smallest kindnesses we offer to one another.

    So, what is kindness, really, and why is it a big deal?

    If we want to know how to be kind we need to go to the source…God. He created kindness and embodies it in everything He does. In Romans 2:4 we read about what God’s kindness does for us.

    “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (NLT)

    God’s kindness makes us feel so cared for and valued that it causes us to choose to turn from death (sin) to life (God).

    Kindness elicits a response.

    The word kindness in this verse is the Greek word chréstotés. It means goodness, uprightness, benignity.  It is also defined as “useful kindness” and refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing or fashion; a kindly or gracious act.

    In addition, chréstotés is defined as a “divine kindness, the Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness and cruelty.” (from Strong’s concordance)

    God’s kindness leads us to life. Our kindness to others can do the same. Kindness, especially when it is unexpected or undeserved, breathes life into a person or a situation.

    So, how do we develop kindness?

    Kindness comes in two ways.

    First, it’s a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23), which means it naturally develops in us more and more as we spend time with God, becoming more like Jesus. It becomes a natural overflow of a life spent in fellowship with God; just as fruit is a natural result of a fruit tree being planted in good soil, producing what it’s meant to produce.

    Kindness is also a choice. We often have to choose to be kind in difficult situations. If you haven’t been kind lately, there is hope! You can repent. Do you know what the word repent means? The Greek word used in the Bible is metanoia. It means a change of mind, change in the inner man. As we saw earlier, God’s kindness brings us the place of repentance; a choice to change our minds which enables us to change our outward behavior.

    So…

    +Do you have a habit of being unkind to others or to yourself? Allow God’s kindness to help you make a decision to repent—to change your mind—in how you have been thinking or acting.

    +Kindness is a choice and it will become easier as that fruit of the Spirit grows in you, naturally overflowing to those you interact with. By cultivating a habit of prayer, reading the Bible, and intentionally remaining in Christ, that fruit will grow. (Read more here about practical ways to remain in Christ).

    There is a great quote that says:

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Ian Mclaren)

    Isn’t that true? And most of the time we don’t know how difficult it is. This week let’s be mindful about kindness; in the way we think, speak and act toward others and ourselves. Kindness to your spouse, to your friends, to your co-workers, to the person waiting on you at the dry cleaners or the grocery store.

    Let your kindness breathe life and hope into someone’s life today.

     

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  6. New Year, New You

    January 2, 2014 by admin

    Several years back before I was married I started thinking about my daily life and all the things I didn’t do anymore. Or not very often, at least. They were activities I enjoyed that renewed me and enriched my life. But because of the busyness of work and other daily duties I felt like I didn’t really have the time or energy to pursue them.

    And then I came to my senses.

    What brings you joy?
    I realized that by not making the time to do the things I loved I was not fully living as the person God created me to be. I was in a routine of busyness, duty, and apathy to some degree. So I sat down and wrote a list of the activities I wanted to begin making time for again. I wrote up daily, weekly and monthly goals to start incorporating back into my life. I made the goals easily doable and not too “big” because I didn’t want to set myself up for failure.

    One of those goals was going for a walk at the beach at least twice a month, because I love being near the ocean–it renews me and makes me feel connected to God. Another was reading a book for fun at least twice a week for 30 minutes, because I love to read and other than the Bible I hadn’t been reading much else.

    While those goals may sound small or simple they were meaningful to me because they brought me joy.

    Goals for couples
    Now at the start of the new year I like to write out new goals for the year and review my goals from the past year, assessing what worked and what didn’t. Making new goals as a single person is a fantastic practice and it’s also important for couples and families. Now that I’m married, my husband and I also make goals to pursue together over the year. Like reading the Bible and praying together at least once a week and going on a date night once a month.

    It’s also important to incorporate goals that support the other person in the relationship. For example, my husband doesn’t love walking at the beach but I do and I like to share it with him, so a goal would be for him to go with me once every few months. On the other hand, I don’t love going to car shows but he does so maybe I make the goal of going with him to three car shows a year.

    Remember to make the goals achievable.

    When you have kids
    I’m no authority on kids but one of the couples I’m friends with have a great system.  They are busy people and have a house full of kids but they make it a point to give each other a “day off” each week to sleep in, rest and have down time away from the kids. They are also intentional about regularly finding someone to watch their kids so they can have alone time together to keep connecting as a couple.

    When you help your spouse get a regular break to pursue the activities that bring them life and joy, that will usually spill over into the family atmosphere making it a win-win for everyone. And remember to help your kids learn to set their own goals while modeling the practice in your own life.

    No better time than now
    I encourage you to begin thinking about the God-given passions, desires and even just fun and light-hearted activities that you love and enjoy. Sometimes some of those good desires God put into your DNA have disappeared from your life. There is no better time than now to rediscover them. Because doing them makes you better, happier and closer to God.

    Now what are you waiting for? Make those goals and go for it!

    (This article originally appeared on Start Marriage Right)

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  7. Thriving in Every Season

    December 28, 2013 by admin

    In my backyard we planted a wall of star jasmine. It’s a vine whose leaves are green year round but the flowers only bloom part of the year. All of the blooms have long disappeared but the other day, as I was sitting outside, I noticed that there was one flower, wrapped up tight, waiting to blossom.

    In the middle of winter? Why this one flower and why now?

    Granted, where I live “the middle of winter” means it’s often in the high 70s. (I’m not complaining!) But when all the other flowers have dropped off for the season, I was surprised to see one new flower preparing to emerge and thrive, even when it wasn’t “supposed” to.

    It made me think about how as followers of Jesus, when we remain in Him, we are intended to thrive and bloom through every season. No matter what is happening in the forecast, because we’re planted in Christ, we are meant to bloom.

    In John 15:5 Jesus says,

    “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” (The Message)

    When we remain in Christ we will be thriving and producing a harvest. What does it mean to remain in Christ? To seek Him in everything and in every way: through full surrender of our lives, in prayer, reading and meditating on His words, loving our neighbors, making a choice to walk in the character of Jesus, intentionally not doing things that we know will break His heart.

    Where we plant ourselves is very important.

    When we’re part of the Vine (Jesus) we grow more like Him and our lives and character produce good fruit, when we’re separated from the Vine we wither.

    How we live our life, and who (and what) we are devoted to, also matters.

    Psalm 1 gives some good wisdom:

    “Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.

    But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.

    And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].” (Psalm 1, Amplified Bible)

    Once again we see when we’re planted in Christ, we can be thriving no matter the season.

    Does that mean we never doubt or suffer or question or feel like we’re walking circles in the wilderness?

    No.

    But, even in the midst of difficulties, we have the opportunity to remain in Christ and to worship Him no matter what is happening. No matter what season of life we find ourselves in, let’s stay connected to the Vine–to stay green–allowing God to tend us, nourish us, making us more like Jesus; producing a great harvest in due season.

     

     

     

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  8. 3 Tips to Stress Less This Christmas

    December 9, 2013 by admin

    Each year at Christmas time, what has become the “normal” busy and hectic pace of the season threatens to overtake my focus and celebrations. Christmas is my favorite holiday and it can pass by in a blur if I let it. Ever feel the same way?

    So, how can we focus on the real meaning of the holiday and feel less stressed while doing it? Here are three tips:

    Click Here to Keep Reading My New Article over at Start Marriage Right!

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  9. When Peace Invades the Atmosphere

    November 2, 2013 by admin

    It was a race to finish line. I had been out of the country for a number of weeks and was on my last leg, mentally and physically exhausted. I had a connecting flight to catch for the 12 hour flight home…and my first flight was very late arriving. That caused my husband and me to do a full-on 20 minute sprint through a very large airport, baggage in hand, in order to maybe be able to catch our flight home.

    Running through crowds, up and down escalators, completely winded, muscles burning, we made it onto the plane just before they closed the doors.

    By this point I was frustrated, exhausted and annoyed at the airline.

    As I found my seat, I told the sweet, 80 year old man sitting next to me that I had just sprinted for 20 minutes to make this flight.

    And do you know what happened?

    I was met with the most gentle and peaceful response from my seat partner. He was so calm and so filled with peace that it felt like I had walked into an invisible wall of peace.

    The presence of peace felt tangible.

    Have you ever experienced this? You walk into someone’s home, or start talking with someone and instantly it’s as if peace is surrounding you. It’s undeniably hanging in the atmosphere.

    I have experienced it many times. And I’ve also experienced the opposite.

    Have you ever been around someone who is so full of worry, fear or anxiety that it’s difficult for you to not start feeling worried, anxious or fearful? It’s as if their anxiety fills the atmosphere, closing in all around you so that you have to make a concerted effort to not become anxious, too, even when you have nothing to be anxious about!

    We can be atmosphere-changers for the good or for the bad.

    The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). So, when the Holy Spirit is living inside of us, just walking into a room changes the atmosphere because we are carrying Peace Himself within us.

    Yet, if we allow unchecked negative emotions to rule us, we choke out the peace that is available to us. And as a result we can throw our anxiety onto others without even realizing it.

    We have to be careful about the emotions we choose to wear and the attitude we choose to have.

    I’m not talking about pretending you are full of peace when you’re not. Being fake doesn’t equal a peaceful atmosphere. And while feeling negative emotions isn’t always a bad thing, I don’t believe that God intends for us to remain in that negativity.

    We have the choice to wear negativity like a garment. Or to wear peace.

    So…How do you keep your peace when your mind wants to rebel into fear?

    Isaiah 26:3 tells us that “You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

    When you are beginning to feel those negative, nagging fears rise up, make a faith-filled decision to hand them over to Jesus and to trust Him. Peace will be restored. You may have to do that a hundred times, but fight for your peace if you need to.

    Remember, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has told us:

    “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

    His Peace is peace that often passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

    This week let’s be cognizant of which emotions we’re letting rule us. Keeping our peace is a choice. Let’s choose peace no matter the circumstance.

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  10. On Writing: Writing Up a Storm

    September 18, 2013 by admin

    Before I left for a recent trip I had two articles and six blogs to finish writing. I wanted to try to finish them all on one specific day so I told my husband, “I’m going to be writing up a storm today. If it starts to rain you’ll know I’ve been writing.”

    I said it to be funny but as I thought about it more I thought about how those of us who are Christians and writers should be, in essence, “writing up a storm” every time we write.

    Rain is Essential
    When I think about rain I think about how it waters the Earth and brings life, refreshing and growth to what it waters. Many people get drinking water from the rain. Crops grow and we are able to be fed and nourished. Trees, flowers and animals are able to survive and thrive from it.

    Rain refreshes barren land.

    God’s Word Refreshes
    In church we sometimes sing a song with the refrain, “Let it rain, open the floodgates of Heaven.”  Meaning not necessarily literal rain, but the “raining down” of the presence of God and everything that comes with it—peace, love, redemption, healing, freedom, and so much more.

    In Isaiah 55:10-11 God draws a comparison between rain and His word:

    “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

    Words of Life
    Only God has the words of life for a broken and hurting generation. As a writer, I want my writing to honor God as I set out the truth of His words. His words need no help from me in producing fruit. He promises that they will do so wherever He sends them.

    But I also want my writing to draw people to Him, bringing refreshing, life and growth. Just like rain.

    So really, as writers who write from a perspective of faith in Jesus, we should be writing up a storm!

    God, let us be listening for Your voice as we write and let Your truth and life flow from our hearts and through our fingertips.

     

     

     

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