"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Friday, September 27, 2013


Linking up with Lisa Jo today for Five Minute Friday. The word is 'true'. 


“You’ll never be able to make a man happy.”

These words pierced my soul. After twelve years of marriage and two children, he slings these words like David flinging rocks at the giant Goliath. Not good enough. That’s what I hear.

Yet, I know these are not true. I know my God is enthralled with my beauty (Psalm 45:11). He calls me his masterpiece, his workmanship. I’m created for good works. These carelessly thrown words by a man no longer my husband are lies, all lies.

Yes, I know these are not true because the man I’ve been remarried to for over 13 years proves that to me every day.

“I love you,” he says.

“You’re beautiful.”

“I’m so thankful God brought you into my life.”

Satan wants us to believe lies, to doubt our value, to believe we are insignificant.

God, on the other hand, counteracts all of those lies when He calls us His treasures. Believe it, sister!


The timer gonged, so the official 5 minutes of writing stopped. However, my thoughts continue to ruminate about this broken, painful time in my life.


God brings beauty from ashes.

God has given me two beautiful children from a failed marriage.

God continues to work his forgiveness in me. It’s a Long.Hard.Process!

God gives me grace and compassion for others who are broken by life.

God is present in every storm.

God is able to do immeasurably more than I can think or imagine.

God restores what the enemy steals—joy, peace, life.

God is faithful when others betray us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I Want My Daughters to Know

I’m blessed with three amazing children, two of them daughters. While one is well on her way to life outside our home, one still remains in the nest. My hope is that I have taught and am teaching them these concepts. Some have been pulled from Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog; others are original.

1.       Jesus loves every single inch of you, inside and out. No.Matter.What!
2.       Who you are is more important than what you do.
3.       You bring more joy to my life than you can possibly comprehend.
4.       Nothing you tell me can make me stop loving you.
5.       No matter what you go through in life, God is always with you.
6.       Laugh a LOT.
7.       Forgive. Bitterness only hurts you.
8.       Put others first; yourself last.
9.       Chocolate is a necessity.
10.   Your body is yours. A delicious gift to be shared with your husband. I promise it’s worth waiting to unwrap together.
11.   Marriage is an act of courage, commitment and sacrifice. It’s also the most fun you’ll ever have with your best friend.
12.   Be the friend you wish you had.
13.   Real life is always better than online.
14.   I’m more interested in your growth than your happiness.
15.   We need each other.
16.   There’s no such thing as perfect.
17.   Always eat ice cream!
18.   Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body.
19.   You can’t control what others think about you. Let it go.
20.   Honesty and truth are better than deception and lies.
21.   Home is not where we live but who we love.
22.   Sometimes we just need to cry.
23.   The best way never to worry about anyone gossiping about you is never to gossip about anybody.
24.   You can always come home.
25.   You’ll always be my baby girl.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything I desire to teach my girls. It’s such an immense job to tackle in this world that counteracts and undermines good values. And, where I’ve failed in so many areas, I pray that God fills in all the gaps!

What would you add to this list?

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Wealthy Wardrobe

Some days I stand in my closet and stare at the racks of clothes pondering what to wear. Not this week. This morning, I pulled the same t-shirt over my head I wore two days ago. In fact, my whole week is planned out with 7 options. Yes. Only seven! Last week, I talked about my journey fasting from different foods. Clothes are the next step on this expedition of confronting our excessiveness.

Saturday morning, I laid out my choices: 1 CIY Mix gray t-shirt, 1 light jacket, 2 pairs of capris (thank goodness the temperatures promise warmth all week), 1 workout outfit (sorry, I wasn’t about to count each item separately), 1 nicer shirt (to wear to church), shoes (1 pair of tennis shoes and 1 pair of sandals). Shoes count as one item because I can’t wear sandals to the gym, and I simply refuse to wear tennis shoes outside of the gym.

After I donned my first outfit, I smoothed my hands over the t-shirt with flair, “See this outfit, honey? Get used to seeing it a whole lot this week!”

Sunday morning rolls around, and I dress in a different pair of capris and my nicer shirt. “You’re going to wear that?” Hubby looks stunned, dressed in church appropriate khakis and a nice polo.
I, however, am wearing what I might sport any day of the week. It’s certainly not what I grew up wearing to church, the days when one wouldn’t be caught dead attired in anything but a dress or skirt. But, times have changed, and jean capris are commonplace. Just, not usually for me on a Sunday.

“Hey, this is all I have. It’s one of my options,” I spout sarcastically.

I feel strangely out of place during worship even amid a sea of denim around me. It’s not my norm. Yet, I realize that some in this world don’t have a closet full of choices. Today, we are kin--those who have no choices and I with my choosing only one out of my crammed closet.

Today, I wear my main uniform, capris newly washed. At night I perform the smell test to determine if washing is necessary. Two days of a t-shirt with a splash of perfume works wonders. To get the full effect, I wonder if clothes should be worn all week without laundering, but I don’t want to risk being exiled from my house.

The question that begs to be answered is how many clothes are too many? How many outfits do I really need? How many objects hanging in my closet haven’t been worn in weeks, months or years? How do I justify this when so many in the world have one outfit with no means to buy more? And yet, I have the means and no need to purchase more! In the week’s study, Jen doesn’t mince words. She points and shoots right between the eyes. What is our money, our wealth, our dollars to be used for? She asks, “Does God think of our income as a potential source to battle injustice, or is it simply a personal blessing to net us a happy life, a reward for being born in America and not living in a famine and securing an education and solid footing on the economic ladder?” Ouch. Guilty as charged.

This deeply disturbs me as it should all of us. In America, we have so much. Our pantries and closets are bursting because we continue to buy. Why do I purchase clothes I don’t need? Gee, let’s see. I want to look cute and stylish. I desire others to think I’m cute and stylish. I’m bored with the hundreds of choices residing in my closet. I like variety and color. Others have already seen me in that black dress; therefore, I must buy a new one (so they can admire me). A new outfit requires new accessories and shoes. Picked up on anything yet? A bit of sickening me-ism here? Just being honest, folks. (More than you cared to know about me, I’m sure.) Truthfully, I’m not sure what to do with this information, my unwise consumerism and my obvious self-indulgence. Let’s just say this is a wake-up call, and I’m open to whatever God prompts me to do.

If my ugly-side revelation wasn’t enough to make you ill, there’s another side to this topic of clothes that was a startling surprise for me: where do they come from? I mean besides Target, Macy’s or TJ Maxx? Have you ever really considered who makes the clothes you buy? I haven’t.

Jen Hatmaker points out that many retailers we would consider reputable sell clothes made by children trapped in unsafe working environments, receiving little or no wages. She says that children quite possibly make our children’s clothes. How can that be? How many in the United States have ever thought about this?

Free2Work, a project of Not For Sale, provides consumers with information about how retailers are tackling the issue of modern day slavery. It grades them in four areas: policies, transparency and traceability, monitoring and training and workers’ rights. A downloadable app to a mobile device provides users with quick access to retailers’ grades and the ability to scan barcodes of apparel and other items. Places where we shop, such as Carter’s, Adidas, Gap and Wal-Mart earned D’s or F’s and have labor right’s violations against them currently. Shocking, I know. The way to combat this is to refuse to purchase clothing from these stores that encourage poor practices. In Vietnam, children and adults are held against their will in state detention centers and forced to work. Africa, China and Argentina are other countries known to use child and/or forced labor. (www.free2work.org/trends/apparel)

No longer ignorant, we must make wise choices not only in regard to our excessive clothing purchases, our constant desire for more, but also in determining the brands that uphold fair and honorable practices.

Today, I wear my plain ensemble proudly and commit to doing more. How about you?!

Friday, September 20, 2013

She - A Grandmother's Legacy

SHE....For 5 Minute Friday

Here are the instructions:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. 
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in the blog footer}.
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you.

It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week.

She never made the cover of People magazine. She lived a simple life with no desire for fame or fortune. She didn’t care about amassing possessions. One thing she loved above all else was family.

Perhaps that’s why my grandmother could boast of 3 children, 10 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and one great-great. So, her legacy will live on. This life that taught us to value hard work, mind our own business, not complain and give others grace.

Even at the end of her life last year, she was full of that grace. She was bothered that others had to care for her round the clock. That she couldn’t get out of bed. That eventually she couldn’t even take a bite of food. Yet, she never complained. May those words be said about each one of us at the end of our lives. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Much Food is Enough?

Who knew I could actually survive a week without dark chocolate? My go to snack in the middle of the morning, afternoon and night has become a handful of mixed nuts, not quite as savory, but it staves off the hunger when one feels munchy.

But, let me back up a bit. It’s my first week participating in the study by Jen Hatmaker, The 7 Experiment, Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. As students we are challenged to do in 7 weeks what she and her husband spent 7 months doing, a week on each area of excess: food, clothes, spending, waste, possessions, media and stress. I can’t even imagine a month of fasting in each area. The truth is that as American Christians we have way more than we need and yet still want more. While many die of hunger, we are growing obese. While many have little to wear, our closets are bursting. It’s not okay that 1.5 million children die from hunger each year, and 20,864 people will die from hunger today when we have more than enough food for everyone on the planet. (www.statisticbrain.com/world-hunger-statistics/)

And, lest you think this study is some sort of guilt trip encouraging one to go and sell everything, let me assure you it’s not. I can’t help that I was born in America, the land of plenty, but I can use the resources with which I’ve been blessed to make a difference. Jen encourages us to be open to however God would desire us to act as a result of fasting. She advises us not to become legalistic and compare our degrees of fasting with one another to see if we come up short or ahead. Fasting looks different for everyone; God will move in each person’s life in unique ways. The point is to just do it, focusing on our own hearts.

If you think about it, our lifestyles revolve around food. When we complete one meal, we begin pondering when and what the next will be. Visiting the grocery store is often a multi-weekly occasion. Endless aisles of food offer a plethora of choices, most of them not super-de-dooper healthy. Events, parties, outings revolve around eating. We often search for something quick to microwave before we run our children to soccer, basketball or gymnastics practice. Our kids snack on granola bars, fruit snacks and pop tarts (at least my children do).  Our snack choices aren’t much better. It’s much easier to grab a bar than cut fruit and vegetables.

In the original 7 fast, the Hatmakers chose 7 foods to eat for one month. Can anyone say coffee and chocolate?! Ok, so one should pick healthy foods. However, Jen offers a variety of other ways to fast, so I chose to abstain from fast food and unprocessed foods for a week. It’s day 6, and I’m still alive. Have you ever thought about how much canned, boxed, frozen food we consume? When I look in the refrigerator and cupboards and start checking off items I can’t devour, I’m flabbergasted. No soup, mac n cheese, processed meat, or cereal. No popcorn, chips, chocolate, granola bars or ice cream. Out of over 300 items in my kitchen, clearly excessive, I’ve resorted to the basics of God’s creation: fruit, veggies, chicken. Simple, yet hard. Healthy, yet time consuming.

What I have learned:

Our family eats a lot of crap. My youngest asked if kids in third world countries eat a lot of processed food. Gee, I think not, I told her. They don’t even have enough real food, much less the junk that lines our grocery store shelves. While I don’t have statistics to prove it, that’s my guess.

I can make healthier meals. For the most part, I’ve tried to provide a balanced diet. Still, I’m so guilty for resorting to the quick fixes when my brain tires of planning vitamin packed meals displaying all the colors. Cooking is something I do out of necessity and duty instead of love, so the less time in the kitchen, the happier I am. Give me a bowl of Captain Crunch or Cocoa Puffs for dinner, and life is good. The family, however, is not so appreciative of that wimpy attempt at a meal. This week, I researched recipes not involving cans, boxes or mixes and came up with Garlic Spinach and Italian Kale. Broil some chicken breasts flavored with salt and garlic pepper only and cut up a mixture of fruit and voila, a tasty meal.

I don’t need over 300 food items in my kitchen. I have this thing about certain food items. I must never ever be depleted of mayonnaise, eggs, milk or chocolate milk. When I grocery shop, I buy more just.in.case. At one time, I had 3 mayonnaise jars waiting in the wings. Ridiculous, right? I didn’t even grow up in poverty, so what sort of insecurity is this? Don’t even get me going about my couponing and buying a bajillion boxes of fruit snacks because they are on sale and I have coupons! Doesn’t make much sense when we’ve down-sized to one child at home. My husband and I don’t even eat those things ‘cause they’re not ‘healthy’.

Around the world, people are still hungry, but I can do something about it. Living in America makes me feel far removed from those hungering in third world countries. Since they aren’t right in front of me, I live in my four walls oblivious to the need. Yet, there is a way we can all help through an organization called www.kiva.org. A microlending institution, it offers loans through people like you and me to groups and individuals all over the world to help them start- up businesses so they can provide food for their families. These loans have a high percentage rate of repayment and the money can then be recycled to another person or group in need. This is a fabulous way to help those who can’t find the capital to support themselves or their families. If I lowered my grocery bill by a mere $25 and loaned that money to someone on the Kiva website, I could impact a child’s future. A person’s life could be transformed by my actions to reduce excessiveness. What a sobering thought!

Here’s your challenge: count the boxes, cans, mixes and bags of stuff filling your shelves. I stopped counting at 300 because it was already just ridiculous. Be utterly amazed at your tally. Pray about doing some type of fast. Most certainly pray about how God might want you to help locally or through an organization like Kiva. But, do something!

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was

thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was

a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes

and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after

me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:35-36

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Growing in Generosity

Being generous is not always easy, but this year I am being challenged to become more giving in a variety of ways. So often, generosity is associated with money, but it’s much more than that. We can offer more of our time, be gracious in relationships, or sacrifice our desires for the sake of someone else.

I first grasped this thing called “generosity” when was in elementary school, about 100 years ago, with an experience that is engraved on my mind forever. My mom was the leader of a group called Campfire Girls which is similar to Girl Scouts. On this particular day, our group had visited the elderly in a local nursing home. Each girl was paired up with another person with whom we exchanged gifts. My sweet lady gave me an Uno candy bar, so wildly popular it’s no longer in existence today. As we were dropping girls off at their homes in our white hippy van, this chocolate marshmallow bar called my name repeatedly asking me to partake. Mom ordered me not to open it in front of everyone else unless I was prepared to share.

The temptation was too great; I ignored her instructions, unwrapped it and bit off a morsel. Mom immediately pulled the van over to the side of the road and demanded that I exit and walk. Shocked, I stumbled out and watched as she drove AWAY. Can you even believe it?! I should’ve recalled her knack for follow through! Ambling aimlessly, I hoped she’d return to give me a ride home. Eternity stretched out giving me time to ponder my disrespect, my lack of generosity. When the van returned, it was empty except for Mom

If she lectured me, I don’t recollect. It doesn’t really matter, because I will never forget the lesson etched on my heart about the importance of sharing with others. And, she believed it was so important that leaving me on the side of the road to ponder my actions was insignificant compared to me thinking of those less fortunate—even when it involves sharing a silly candy bar.

Think about how you can be generous, even when it seems insignificant, with your family, friends, the grocery store clerk, the waitress, or the Starbucks coffee server. Offering a kind word, the last bite, a bigger tip, a bit of understanding for a hard day, a gentle response can go a long way and just may change someone’s day!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Dating Game

Standing in front of 50 teenagers at the One Girl Conference, I spouted, “I only have one thing to say: don’t date!”

They looked at me in stunned silence until I began to laugh, eliminating their fears that I was serious. After all, they chose this particular breakout to get the skinny on the who, what, when, where and why’s of this hot topic.

Not that I’m an expert by any means. After all, it has been approximately 1000 years ago since I had my first date. And, may I just say that I am more pleased than a child anticipating a trip to Disney World that I don’t have to repeat that process. The agony of all the going with and breaking up is akin to getting my teeth cleaned. Awkward, uncomfortable and painful.

What sort of advice beyond “avoid boys at all costs” could I give them? These girls had moved past the “boys are icky” stage. Too bad.  Bright-eyed, ears open, young brains receptive, they eagerly awaited the magic formula to snag the perfect guy. Gee, I wish it were that easy. Relationships are com-pli-ca-ted! Hence, my plea to take.their.time. Don’t rush the process!

Along the way, I’ve amassed knowledge about this dating game. Lots of it after the fact—you know, after I made mistakes.  After I had compromised, rationalized, justified why I should continue in a relationship not healthy, holy or heartening. The view on the other side seems much clearer than when I sported my bell bottoms and red swish Nikes back in the 80’s. Steering my own teens through the dating process has given me crystal clear vision, yet often my words of wisdom have fallen on deaf ears. How I desire to spare girls everywhere the consequences of life-changing poor choices!

So, when given the opportunity with a captive audience of enthusiastic girls, I shared from my own experiences as well as material from various sources.  These are a few  thoughts worthy of communicating to all girls and moms of tweens or teens:

1.    You are a masterpiece, created by God and therefore, worth something! Don’t focus on trying to get someone else to like you; instead, focus on becoming who God created you to be. He has a purpose for you beyond catching a boy. Don’t get distracted or set your dreams aside just to find a boy. Trust God for that someone, and don’t rush the process. What if you went about your everyday life becoming the person God created you to be? In doing this, your inner beauty is growing, and believe me, you’ll attract the right kind of guy down the road—when you least expect it!

 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

2.    Don’t date because you are lonely or unhappy. Being in a relationship will not cure either one. It’s unfair to expect a guy to make you happy. They aren’t perfect and neither are you. All of us feel lonely at times, even those who are married. At some point, a guy will let you down. Settling for less, facing disrespect or staying in a dating relationship just so you won’t feel alone, is dangerous.  Only God can satisfy the emptiness you feel or bring the joy you lack. If you struggle with loneliness, strengthen your relationship with God and with friends who will encourage you in your faith.


3.    Date a guy who shares your same values. One of my parents’ rules when I began dating was that I couldn’t date a non-Christian. Some say this shouldn’t be a big deal because after all, you aren’t marrying the guy; you’re just dating. Aha! But, dating leads to marriage. You may not believe you’ll get married, but when you become emotionally attached and perhaps physically involved, voila, you end up staying with a person you should never have dated in the first place. So, why go there? Why take the chance? Set guidelines about the types of guys you’ll date ahead of time. When someone asks you out who doesn’t meet those standards, say no! Be picky.

Missionary dating doesn’t usually work either. Too often, the believer begins to compromise his or her values because of peer pressure. My daughter-in-law, Kyla, says her mom always told her if she couldn’t see herself married to the guy, she shouldn’t date him. So, if you don’t want to marry a guy that doesn’t respect you, doesn’t share your values, doesn’t make you a better you, doesn’t draw you closer to God, refuses to acknowledge and work through his own imperfections and isn’t honest, don’t start the relationship!

So, what if you’ve already made mistakes? What if you’ve crossed physical lines you shouldn’t have or are dating someone right now that doesn’t enhance your relationship with God? Perhaps you may need to consider breaking off the relationship!  Know that God offers forgiveness when you make mistakes, and He gives us a do-over.

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

(Lamentations 3:22-23)

How grateful I am for a God who wipes the slate clean when I mess up! No matter who you are, a young girl just becoming interested in boys, a teen who already has regrets involving dating, or a mom teaching your own daughters about dating, we can all experience God’s grace and forgiveness.

This is a short snippet of what I shared with tweens and teens at the conference. Entire books about dating line shelves, and I would encourage you to read more about this topic if you are in this phase of life as a teen or mom.

And, if you have a great piece of advice to share about dating or relationships, I’d love to hear it!