His Power, My Strength . . . To Be a God-Fearing Woman

There’s an oft repeated quote that says, “Strong women, may we know them, may we raise them, may we be them,” author unknown. I understand the sentiment. To an extent, I even agree. But on this International Women’s Day, here’s what I would like to add . . .

I don’t want to just raise a strong woman. I don’t want to just be a strong woman. I want to raise a Godly woman. I want to be a Godly woman. To live a life that first and foremost serves and brings glory to my Savior. I want to remember every single day that it is in my weakness His power is made perfect, and I am not required to, nor I am I truly capable of, being strong in my own right. I want to look to the women of the bible as my role models . . . Ruth, Esther, Mary, Deborah, Abigail, Dorcas, Jochebed, Rahab . . . perfectly, imperfect . . . yet willing to stand and serve God when called upon.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

In a world and a culture, that doesn’t see the value of being a wife and a mother . . . that doesn’t realize that there is so much beauty in who God created us to be as women . . . that believes that to dedicate your life to caring for your family is settling for less than . . . I want to emulate the Proverbs 31 wife and mother. I want bring my husband good and not harm. I want to be hard working and wise and a servant to my family, but above all, I want to fear the Lord. I say basically this same thing every year on this day, but with each passing year I find these words from Proverbs even more impactful and true. This is what and who I want to be, not only today but every day. I pray that among all the things that will mark my life here on this earth, the greatest will be that I am a woman who fears the Lord. That in all my weaknesses, His power is made perfect, and that more than anything else, my life will point to my Savior and bring glory to Him.

The Virtuous Wife

An excellent wife, who can find her?

For her worth is far above jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in

And he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not evil

All the days of her life.

She looks for wool and linen,

And works with her hands in

She is like merchant ships;

She brings her food from afar.

And she rises while it is still night

And gives food to her household,

And portions to her attendants.

She considers a field and buys it;

From her earnings she plants a

She surrounds her waist with strength

And makes her arms strong.

She senses that her profit is good;

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She stretches out her hands to
the distaff,

And her hands grasp the spindle.

She extends her hand to the poor,

And she stretches out her hands to
the needy.

She is not afraid of the snow for
her household,

For all her household are
clothed with scarlet.

She makes coverings for herself;

Her clothing is fine linen and

Her husband is known in the gates,

When he sits among the elders of
the land.

She makes linen garments and
sells them,

And supplies belts to
the tradesmen.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

And she smiles at the future.

She opens her mouth in wisdom,

And the teaching of kindness is on
her tongue.

She watches over the activities of
her household,

And does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and
bless her;

Her husband also, and he
praises her, saying:

“Many daughters have done nobly,

But you excel them all.”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is

But a woman who fears the
LORD, she shall be praised.

Give her the product of her hands,

And let her works praise her in the

Proverbs 31:10-31


As For Me and My House . . .

I was reading the book of Amos (Chapter 4) this morning . . . a book that documents the absolute refusal of Israel to repent regardless of cost or consequence. And I couldn’t help but once again, see the parallels between Israel and the current state of our own nation. Gross unrepentance by so many. Refusal to turn to God no matter what. Insistence on plowing forward headlong into hedonism and self-serving even to the point of destruction.

As I was reading and praying, I realized, that yes, our nation needs to turn back to God, and we’ve seen movements . . . revivals . . . recently, within colleges and universities here in the United States and in various places around the world, that bring me such great hope. I believe so deeply that this next generation is being set up to reach the world for Christ like never before. But the absolute truth is, it doesn’t start at that level. It doesn’t start big and get smaller. It starts small and grows exponentially from there. It starts with a tiny seed. It starts in each individual heart, and then in each individual home and family. It’s why I believe so fervently in the institution of family and God ordained, biblical marriage. It’s why I believe in the biblical outline and authority set up by God, for marriage . . . between one man and one woman, who are absolutely equal in God’s eyes, but also, with the husband as the head of the marriage and the house, leading the family with sacrificial love.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:22-31

These scriptures and this line of thinking are not wildly popular, even amongst Christians. And to some extent that’s on Christians because for years, we’ve only gotten it partly right. We’ve hit some of the points, but rarely do we hit them all. These verses have been twisted and abused by men and women to get their own way. They’ve been taken piecemeal and used to manipulate and control, but that was never what God intended. Having said that, the devil has had a heyday with attacking what God intended to be holy and sacred in our marriages and families, and we’ve let him. Sometimes we even jump on board. I could write a book about this topic, and entire books have been written, but I’ll just say, if you’re married, this is the rulebook you should be following, in its entirety, if you want a Godly, thriving, biblical marriage. God never gets anything wrong. Period. And I’ll go further and say, I believe this is where the repentance and transformation begin. Not in a big auditorium or stadium with thousands of people . . . not in our churches on Sunday mornings . . . not in our bible studies and small groups on weeknights . . . we want and need to see transformation and repentance in all those places, but it starts at home. It’s why I believe the restoration of biblical marriage and the family unit are so important. It starts in our families . . . in each individual heart . . . in our marriages and in our family units and extending outward. Because that’s where change and transformation start. That’s where repentance begins.

And to take it one step further, if we are parents, we have not only a huge responsibility, but the great privilege, of raising our children to love and serve and know God. It’s not that we’re perfect . . . far from it, and thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness and redemption for all our mess ups and mistakes and sins at the foot of the cross . . . but we have a responsibility placed on us by God to raise our children in a Godly home. To guide and lead and teach them the things of God, the love of God, and yes, the statutes and commands of God. Ultimately, we can’t choose to follow God for them. As teenagers and young adults, they are going to have to choose which path to follow, but we need to be doing everything we can, taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible, to set them up for success. And as parents we have to walk the walk . . . we can’t depend on everyone else to raise our children in the things of God for us . . . we have live out what it looks like to serve and follow Christ . . . not just on Sunday morning but daily.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way they should go. The way they should go . . . not the way we wish they’d go . . . not living vicariously through our children . . . not in giving them everything they want and we wish we’d had as a child . . . but in asking God how to teach and lead and guide them in the way they should go. This takes courage, boldness, and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. It takes standing your ground at times even when they may be angry with you. It takes leading not just with words but by example. It means apologizing and seeking forgiveness when you get it wrong . . . and yes, God knows, I often get it wrong.

Back to Amos 4 . . . I don’t have all the answers, but I truly believe that if we want to see a nation and a world reached for Christ rather than a people who repeatedly choose to live unrepentant come what may . . . if we want true, deep, lasting transformation . . . if we want revival that leads to repentance and salvation of the lost . . . then we have to start in our homes and with our families . . . with our marriages and with our children. It doesn’t have to be super spiritual. I’m not saying you need to have hours long prayer services every day in your homes. I am saying, put up the phones, put away the devices, connect with your kids, play games, talk about life and God and all the things, drag them out of their bedrooms (not literally . . . and it won’t kill them), engage with them, let them see you reading God’s word, pray with them and for them, ask their forgiveness when you mess up, and when appropriate (not everything needs to be shared with your children), let them see your struggles . . . believe me, my family is well aware of how imperfect I am, and I’m certainly not saying to be holier than thou, fake, and pretend to have all together all the time. Kids can smell insincere and fake a million miles away. Be real, and as we’ve been saying in Christian circles for decades, let them see you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Because you can send them to every Sunday School class, every church camp and retreat, every youth service, and never miss anything anytime the church doors are open, but if you’re not living it, in a very real way in front of them, in your home, they will know. And believe me, they will take note. We have to walk out our salvation, day by day, humbly trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, fill us, and change us, and subsequently, our families, our communities, our world will see the effects and reap the benefits of that.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Random, Disconnected, Bullet Point Thoughts . . .

  • It is February 23rd here in Central Texas, and I am wearing shorts . . . not because I’m a teenage boy that refuses to wear pants no matter the temperature, lest anyone need clarification. I’m wearing shorts because it’s HOT in Texas. I love me some spring y’all, but it’s too soon for it to be almost ninety degrees.
  • With that heat comes humidity. And with humidity comes my crazy big hair. My hair has always been wavy and thick and kind of hard to manage, but I swear it has changed some in the past few years and is wavier and crazier than ever before. It grows exponentially larger with each percentage increase in humidity. It’s fantastic. And yes, I have a whole barrage of products I use to help manage this crazy mop on my head. At this point I need no suggestions.
  • Speaking of products . . . for most of my life (i.e. the first 40 years) I owned pretty much nothing in the way of skin care. I washed my face twice a day with Dove soap. I’ve never slept in my make up (when I wear it which is only a couple times/week) . . . not in high school, not in college . . . and I used basic drug store moisturizer and sometimes sunscreen, and as I’ve already said, I washed my face twice a day religiously. Enter my 40s, and stupid things like fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and the like . . . suddenly, I wish I owned stock in Ulta. The reason is evidenced by the photo below. I do have lines I won’t cross in the name of at least trying to age with some grace. Clearly buying every face product ever made by Clinique is not crossing that line. This is my life now, multiple face products and things like skin cycling. It’s some kind of ridiculous, but it is what it is. (And please don’t try to sell me face “stuff”. I’m not in the market.)
  • While we’re on the topic of self-care in your 40s, let’s talk about preventative “maintenance”. This is not a topic, I’m super comfortable about being vocal about because privacy, but nothing about breast cancer or heart disease or type 2 diabetes is private. Ladies (and gentlemen), you need to be going to the doctor yearly. You need to be doing the appropriate preventive care, mammograms, bloodwork, skin checks, colonoscopies, etc. Taking care of your body is not a sin, and preventative care does not show a lack of faith. I’d say quite the opposite. God has given us so much in the way of medical wisdom and preventive care, and while we certainly don’t hold those things above Him, I believe it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves as much as we can here on this earth. Call and schedule that appointment. It may not be the most fun, but it is so important.
  • On another note, let’s talk about podcasts. I listen to a variety . . . Christian based marriage, theological, true crime . . . I’m here for it all. I started listening to a podcast last week entitled The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. If you’re an evangelical Christian, you know what I’m talking about. Going into this podcast I was skeptical. I have no love lost on Mark Driscoll, but what I wasn’t looking for was a Driscoll bashing session. I actually do have points where I agree with him, but overall I find him crass, disrespectful, and crude. Having said that, I have no use for being critical simply for the sake of being critical. Thankfully, that’s not what this is. Instead, it is, a cautionary tale of holding pastors and evangelists up as celebrities, of the abuse of authority, and the dangers in idolizing any man or woman. And make no mistake, I think the idolization of men and women is prevalent in western Christianity. Respect is important, but also, we need to test everything against the authority of God’s word, and if it doesn’t line up, it has to go. If at any point we see any man or woman as never being wrong or having the inability to be wrong, then we have a huge issue. All that to say, in a world where it seems like more and more pastors are struggling with moral failures, that, whether we like it or not, do extensive damage to our witness to a lost world, there are lessons to be learned from Mars Hill but not only from Mars Hill. We’d be remiss if we don’t step back and evaluate what has gotten us to this point. That got some kind of serious real quickly, but I encourage you to listen to the podcast in its entirety. I didn’t agree with everything, but it made me really stop and think.
  • And . . . on a lighter(ish) note . . . basketball is over, at least for high school, and I’m kind of sad. We’ve kept track of not only our boys’ and girls’ teams at our school, but of all the teams in our district. Yesterday, I listened to our high school girls’ game on a “radio”/internet broadcast because I wasn’t able to go to the actual game and because that’s who I am now, a full-fledged basketball mom (my niece was playing along with some of my son’s friends so I had reason to listen). And while y’all know I am the biggest champion for letting my kids grow up, I cannot believe that Andrew is almost finished with his freshman year in high school. What is happening? He’s going to be sixteen soon, and y’all I need all the prayer because I’m not ready for him to be behind the wheel on his own. As far as basketball goes, there’s always college and NBA games, and I’m sure we’ll fully enjoy some March madness around these parts. But goodness this school year has flown.
  • Last but certainly least, my sciatic nerve is giving me fits once again. Specifically, I have piriformis syndrome . . . go ahead and look it up and then thank me for over sharing. Seeing as how this whole post is TMI why not??? One might think it’s just something that happens with age, but let me be real clear here, it is 100% because I don’t stretch. This has been happening to varying degrees for over 10 years because I do intense workouts that require stretching, and then I fail to actually stretch. Why? I don’t know. I don’t want to??? I honestly hate stretching. I stretched today because there’s nothing like trying to get the cows back in the barn after the door has been left open (speaking from the experience of someone who maybe left a gate open once or twice in her younger years) . . . maybe I’ll learn, but probably not.


You may have heard about the outbreak of revival at Asbury University in Kentucky. Last week a chapel service started that has yet to come to an end, and for over a week now, the students of Asbury have been worshipping almost continually. Last night, my husband, who is one of the most God fearing, biblically sound people I know, asked me what I thought about it. Not because he’s a skeptical person by nature, but because he’s very cautious about trying to “gin up” as he often says, a move of God. I’ve honestly been processing this for the entire last week as I’ve watched what has been happening with these kids . . . and yes, they’re mostly still kids . . . at Asbury. My initial reaction, which I do not think was wrong, was “Wow! God is doing something at this school.” I believe this generation, Generation Z, is sitting on the edge of a precipice not seen by any generation prior. I believe, they are being set up, by God, to be radical missionaries and world changers for Christ. I believe, in a world and a culture that is in rapid decline, these young followers of Christ will both reach others for Him on scale we have never seen before and also be persecuted, quite possibly in unfathomable ways, for their boldness and love of Jesus. Which is why I think the discussion about Asbury is so important right now. And the questions . . . Is this real? . . . Is this sincere? . . . Or is this an emotionally driven event? . . . need to be asked and addressed.

I’m not at Asbury. But what I can say from what I’ve observed, mostly via social media posts, is I believe there is a deep sincerity to what is happening. I see a hunger for the things of God . . . for a real relationship with Him, and I do not discount that this could very well be the beginnings of revival.

On dictionary.com under definition number one for the word revival it states, “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.”.

Restoration to life . . . bringing back that which was dead. When I say I do not discount that this could be the beginnings of revival that’s where I believe the key is. I have sat in worship services that I did not want to end. I am not an overly emotional person, and when I say I wanted it to continue, it was not from a place of being overwhelmed emotionally. It was from a place of being so fully in the presence of my Savior, of catching just a glimpse of how close heaven really is and knowing, in that moment, that there is literally nothing that compares to worshipping the One, True, Living God. But I don’t think that’s the end all, be all of revival . . . I believe it’s the beginnings of revival.

Revival isn’t an event. It’s not a series of meetings or something that only happens within the four walls of a church. It’s so much more, and if we never carry it out of that place where it has begun. . . if it never leaves the four walls of a church building . . . then I’m not sure we can call it true revival. I believe revival is marked by transformation and repentance . . . it is marked by a hunger for the Word of God . . . a desire to spend time in His word and in prayer . . .ultimately it is marked, by going out into the world and reaching others for Christ. I believe that revival often begins with a sincere move of God, such as this one at Asbury, and as hearts and lives are changed, it spreads outward and cannot be contained.

The reality is, we have to live this life here on Earth. We have jobs, and families, and bills to pay, and responsibilities. I’m going to say this, and I’m sure that someone, somewhere is going to gasp and be horrified, but we were never called to infinite worship services this side of heaven . . . and there will come a time when, if this is truly revival, those who have lived it and experienced it are called to go . . . to go into their homes, their classrooms, their workplaces, their families . . . to go out into the world and share what God has done in their own lives. Because as followers of Christ, we have been commissioned to “go”.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

True revival is an internal transformation with external consequences and effects. I am praying for the students at Asbury University because I see God doing something beautiful in their hearts. But I’m not just praying for them. The reality is we all need revival, but we don’t have to pack up and travel to Asbury (although, for those that have gone to pray over these students and witness it with their own eyes, I think that’s awesome), or any place, near or far, to experience revival. Revival starts in our hearts. It starts with us repenting before God and asking the Holy Spirit to fill us and dwell in us, to lead us, and guide us. It starts with us opening our Bibles and diving deeply into His word. It can happen in our homes – our kitchens and our living rooms . . . it can take place in our churches, our classrooms, and even our cars . . . revival isn’t about an event as much as it’s about fully submitting to the Lordship of Christ.

Evangelist Gipsy Smith, who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, once said, “Do you really want to see a revival begin? Then go back to your home and draw a circle around you on the floor. Then get down on your knees in the middle of the circle and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle. When you do that, and God answers, you are experiencing the start of revival.”

Equal Not Even

If you’ve been here more than a minute, you know I have two kids. A fifteen-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. I love both of them fiercely and unconditionally, and obviously, I love them equally.

But loving my kids equally does not mean that everything in our house is always even. Because as much as love my children equally, they are two, very different people. For one, my oldest is a boy, and my youngest is a girl so by virtue of the gender that God gave them, they are automatically different. Add to that they have incredibly different strengths and weaknesses and vastly different temperaments. They have different needs and wants and personalities. And there are times in each of their lives when one needs something the other doesn’t and vice versa . . . maybe that’s an actual physical need (clothes, shoes, etc.). . . maybe that’s an emotional need . . . maybe one needs specifically separate time and attention. Not to mention there is a pretty large age difference between the two so while the eldest definitely has more privileges and independence appropriate to his age and maturity, he also has a lot more expectations and responsibilities, also age and maturity appropriate.

I think a lot of parents worry heavily about things being even. If I go to this event for one, I must reciprocate with my other child(ren). If I buy something for this one, I must spend the exact same amount on the other. If I spend time with one, I must spend equal time with the other. As if there’s a scale that continually has to be balanced. While I’m certainly not a proponent of giving all your time and attention to one child whilst neglecting the other . . . I’m most definitely not saying that . . . the reality is, it’s impossible to balance the scales perfectly. And it’s kind of ridiculous to run ourselves ragged trying. Sometimes the scale tips heavily in the favor on one child, but then the weight shifts, and we go the other way. Such is life.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said many times, our goal is to raise independent adults, not grown-up children that expect us to do for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. Of course, when I say “independent”, as the mother of one child with some special needs, I fully realize that what is fully independent for one is vastly different for another . . . thus the “equal not even” heading.

We allow a lot of independence with our eldest, and he’s gaining more independence as he grows older. Yes, he has a smart phone which at this point still has some rules and restrictions . . . but he has one . . . he has to learn to handle technology appropriately, and I don’t think tossing it at him for the first time when he’s eighteen and leaving home is wise. And in case anyone is wondering, we do not, at this point, allow any devices in their bedrooms (even televisions . . .). I honestly have no idea when my oldest actually goes to bed. I don’t regulate his bedtime other than saying “goodnight . . . love you . . . go to your room now”, but I figure he’s much more likely to actually go to sleep at some point if he doesn’t have device to distract him. Yes, he gets to make a lot of choices and decisions on his own. Yes, he has an appropriate and probably what seems like to some, large(ish) number of responsibilities. Yes, he’s expected to work for actual money to help cover the cost of sports equipment (namely, shoes . . . and we expect him to contribute to those costs), and meals out with friends, and all the extras . . . we’re not his ATM machine. Earning his own money lends a sense of accomplishment, and learning money management is so important. No, I do not sit with him and hold his hand while he works and studies nor do I hound him (too much) about his studies. It’s not for lack of wanting. Believe me when I say, it’s a temptation to jump in every chance I get, and sometimes I fail at keeping my mouth shut. But I have to pull back and remind myself that, he’s rapidly ascending in young adulthood. He will be leaving home in a few years, and not only do young adults not need hovering mothers, but he has to learn to make the right choices without my voice or his dad’s constantly at his back.

We’ve always been very protective of our kids in their younger years. Protective of their hearts and minds and spirits. We have reasonable expectations of them as part of our family that will remain as long as they live with us, but as they grow the protectiveness that is both important and needed when they’re young, can quickly become overreaching and damaging when they’re older. There comes a point . . . not necessarily a certain age because each child is different, and for some children that point may come much later . . . where we have to start slowly pulling back. To re-emphasize, this is not to say we don’t have rules and expectations. Our house is not a free for all.

I could spend hours belaboring the point of raising independent adults, but it’s really just an aside to my main point. It’s where the “equal not even” comes in. My youngest has far less responsibility. She doesn’t have the same expectations placed on her, but she also doesn’t have nearly the same freedoms. The most obvious reason for that is her age. Nine-year-olds, don’t need or deserve the same freedoms as fifteen-year-olds. But the reality is, because of both her personality and her needs, both responsibilities and the freedoms will likely come more slowly for her. What was healthy and normal for our eldest as a young teen, could be incredibly damaging and detrimental for her if given too early. So yes, the playbook looks different because my kids are different. The attention and time, the expectations and even financial responsibilities are different because they have different needs.

At the end of the day, our children are individuals, and they deserve to be treated as such. There’s not perfect rule book for parenting, and I’d say most of us are doing the best we can. I pray daily for wisdom and patience, because the good Lord knows I need it. I pray constantly that I won’t be too much or too little, and what I’ve learned, is that even when I don’t get it all right, these are the children with which God has entrusted me. It’s no mistake they’re mine, and I have to trust that even when I have no clue what I’m doing, He has it all under control.

Disclaimer: I am a mom of a child with special needs. I have no issue acknowledging or owning that. My child is so uniquely and beautifully made, and some of the things that have come about as a result of those needs are truly miraculous. I, however, would be remiss if I ignored the fact that there are parents who are sitting there saying, “My child will never reach this point . . . they won’t even get close . . .”. I just want you to know, I understand and acknowledge that. I know that for some children even an iota of independence is not possible, and if that’s your particular child, then I know the choices and decisions you make in loving them well and preparing them for adulthood looks so different from the typical family.

What to Do with Fear and the Like . . .

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Corinthians 7:5-6

I was reading 2 Corinthians 7 this morning, and when I got to these two verses, I thought, “These two, seemingly obscure and easy to skim right past, verses can preach an entire sermon.”

I love Paul. He never minces words, and he’s honest and straightfoward. These scriptures are no exception. He doesn’t deny reality or pretend that he was feeling so full of faith. He says it like it is. “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. . . “. Do you know what that word “fears” means in the greek? It’s from the word “phobos” (which is where we get our word phobia), and it means “panic flight, fear, the causing of fear, terror” (Strong’s 5401). They weren’t a “little” bit anxious. They were struggling internally with terror, and Paul doesn’t deny it. But then he goes on to say “Nevertheless God . . .”. Let me say it louder for the people in the back . . . He doesn’t say, “My faith rose up, and I denied my fear, and I’m such a strong follower of Christ” . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . I . . . Nope . . . He says, “Nevertheless God . . .” Paul was keenly aware of how incapable and not good he was in his own right. He saw himself as a servant of Christ, and that, right there, is the answer. None of us have the market on being a “good” enough Christian. That is the biggest oxymoron ever, and it totally negates the need for Christ. Paul had fears, God still came through. Because Paul knew that it wasn’t about him. He knew that acknowledging his struggles, fears, and challenges didn’t somehow render God powerless.

Within much of the church we have this superstitious, new age, line of thinking that if we say and acknowledge what’s going on in our hearts and our lives . . . if we admit we’re afraid, unwell, struggling . . . we’ll somehow manifest it (and vice versa) . . . newsflash . . . that’s straight out of new age teachings . . . the principal of manifestation and law of attraction are not biblical. On the contrary Paul repeatedly acknowledges his weaknesses. He doesn’t pretend like they don’t exist, but instead, makes the point of humbling himself and exalting Christ in him. Acknowledging the reality of what we’re facing isn’t a sin . . . feeling fear isn’t a sin . . . letting fear (or any emotion) control us, is . . . and denial isn’t anything more than a dressed up lie. But we have to look at reality in light of Christ. We must be constantly and continually turning toward God. Also acknowledging that He is the one who holds the power to heal, deliver, and set free. And no matter what the circumstances look like here on this earth . . . no matter the outcome of our struggles . . . it’s in no way a dismissal to say, in Christ we win, because we do. We don’t have to fear because this life is “but a vapor”, and if we know Jesus, we’ll live forever in Heaven with Him. There’s no losing as a Christian. No. Losing.

I’m one of those people that runs hot a lot of the time. I have approximately 25 windows open in my brain at any given moment, and the spiral into anxiety isn’t ever super far away for me. I don’t deny that. I’ll probably tell you up front, “Feeling a bit anxious today,” and I’d say, 95% of the time, there’s no good reason. I just have a pretty intense personality which I believe God blessed me with . . . it gets things done . . . but if I’m not careful, that intensity sometimes goes awry. But even more likely than telling someone else, which typically doesn’t help (because advice . . . ), I’ve learned to go to God. To be honest and truthful with my struggles because y’all He already knows. I fight with the truth of Who I know God is and how His word tells us to deal. And here’s where I find such great comfort. In the grand scheme, this earthly life is very temporary. The problems we face today, even if they feel tragic and insurmountable, are a drop in the bucket of time, and the promise of eternity with my Savior is absolutely real.

Having said all that, it always helps to know exactly where to turn in God’s word when fighting the battles we face:

Win or lose . . . in Christ we always we always win: For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:19-21

Pray . . . pray . . . pray . . . praise and prayer get it done: Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:13-18

These lives are temporary and none of us really know what tomorrow hold, but God does. I’m cool with that: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16

Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Psalm 39:4-5

The answer to anxiety? Prayer and petition . . . take it to God: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

God’s thoughts for us are good (and I know, He’s specifically speaking to the children of Israel in captivity here, but I also believe it’s applicable for us, today): For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

And ultimately, fear happens. It’s an emotion we’ll all face, but it doesn’t have to take over our lives. We don’t function out of a place of fear: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

This is the short list. I didn’t include all of Psalm 91 or numerous passages in Isaiah. Lastly, I apologize, if I seemed a bit punchy in the beginning . . . I wasn’t a full cup of coffee in before I started writing, but I firmly believe, we have to stop the hocus pocus, magical thinking in the body of Christ. Soundness of doctrine is important. Soundness of what we’re teaching is non-debatable (see James 3:1), and we need to be going to back to the bible before anything else. And by “anything”, I mean any other person’s words, lessons, teachings, etc., because they can sound great, but if they’re not biblical, they’re not right.

Familiarity Breeds . . .

Well, I wrote an entire post regarding the quote below. Then my internet had a moment, and as it does from time to time, the page crashed. Everything was gone and apparently, irretrievable . . . at least by me. So let’s try this again.

“Familiarity breeds contempt.”

Chaucer (definitely but maybe not originally)

Do I believe this is true?

Yes, in some instances, I 100% believe this is true. It’s why relationships fail after the newness wears off. It’s why people jump from job to job, home to home, church to church, friendship to friendship . . . and are never satisfied. It’s why we want more stuff, and when we get more stuff, we’re satisfied for a minute, but then we’re tired of it. So, we want newer, better, stuff to fill the need we think we have . . . and the cycle repeats. We get bored and familiar and become contemptous.

But I do not believe that familiarity always breeds contempt. Nor do I think familiarity is, in and of itself, bad. There can be a level of intimacy and contentment that comes from familiarity that is very good.

Like so many things, I think we get out what we put in. If we put in constant complaining and griping, then we’re going to end up angry and bitter and full of contempt. And the more familiar, the more comfortable, we become in our situation, the easier it is to fall into the griping and complaining. I do believe that familiarity often magnifies faults and diminishes the good, and if we do not make an effort to actively fight against dwelling on the faults and wrongs in our circumstances and relationships, contempt and dissatisfaction will only grow.

At the same time, familiarity can also bring out the best in us . . . in both our circumstances and our relationships. Familiarity treated well, can make us comfortable and confident in a way that allows us to be who God created us to be. It’s at that point that we give our best and receive from others and are truly free to grow.

Obviously, this only works if all involved are putting in the work, but as I’ve learned in life, I can only really be responsible for my own actions, behaviors, and words. And ultimately, I have to trust God that He’s going to lead me and guide me in the direction I should go, the places I should remain, and the places I should leave, the relationships to keep, and those to let go . . . the key in all of it is not if I ever need to make changes, changes will happen, but the attitude I have as I go about those transitions and changes. Because almost without fail, our biggest transitions and changes in life, come from places of deep familiarity and sometimes even difficulty. So, the question is will I be contemptuous in the changes, or will I go about them from a place of grace and contentment?

Two of my favorite passages of scripture come from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

It’s not just because this one is fun to toss at my kids when they’re complaining about all the things. I mean it’s a useful one y’all, but there is a purpose to our not complaining. There is a point in our refusal to grumble. When we let the Holy Spirit shut our mouths, believe me I need work in this area, and we allow Him to control what our words and attitudes, we are a light in a very dark world.

And just a couple chapters later, still writing to the church in Philippi, Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

It’s not something that comes naturally to us as humans, but it is something we can, like so many other important things in life, learn to do. And I’ll go even further and say, if we’re followers of Christ, we have no excuses, and a responsibility to live in such a way that points others to Him. Our contempt, our complaining, our grumbling, and dissatisfaction only serve to do the opposite. We are called to be light. We are called to stand out in all the best ways. So, as hard as it is to fight against the temptation to complain and grumble, we must. And if and when the time does come for us to move on and move forward whether our circumstances be good or not so great, even if we’ve been wronged, we must do so with a level of grace that can only be attributed to Christ in us.

Ultimately the way we answer the question “Does familiarity breed contempt?” is up to us. We can let familiarity lead to grumbling and grumbling lead to contempt and dissatisfaction. Or we can let familiarity lead to a richness in both life and relationships that can only come when you move past the initial stages of a relationship or a circumstance. We can let God guide us in our familiarity and allow us to build intimacy in deep ways. We can let that familiarity lead to gratitude and contentment and deeper intimacy both with God and those around us. Familiarity definitely does not have to breed contempt.

LOVE . . . Welcome to February

But if anyone has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not for me, but in some degree—not to say too much—for all of you. Sufficient for such a person is this punishment which was imposed by the majority, so that on the other hand, you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a person might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.”  2 Corinthians 2:5-8

forgive – to show favor, give freely – Strong’s 5483 (charizomai)

reaffirm – to make valid – Strong’s 2964 (kuroó)

February 1st – the start of the month of all things love. I think when most of think of Valentine’s Day, we automatically jump straight to romantic love . . . flowers, and candy, and dates . . . there’s most certainly nothing wrong with any of that. But as I was reading these verses just a few minutes ago, I thought to myself, “How fitting for the start of February.” These words Paul wrote, not only about actively forgiving those who have wronged us, but also about reaffirming our love for those people, are such a perfect start The Month of Love. And I think, in a world that really doesn’t grasp love and its real meaning, we need to expand our definition and understanding of what love truly is (and in many cases, isn’t). Love is not an emotion or a feeling. It’s not something fleeting or hard to grasp, and it’s most certainly not something we fall in and out of depending on our mood (or hormones) that day. Love is a decision we make daily, and an action we undertake toward those in our lives. We need to learn to both love extravagantly and forgive extravagantly because we have been loved and forgiven so extravagantly by our Savior.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

We’ve all heard the saying. I’d venture most of us use it. I know I have. And while I’m by no means advocating setting ourselves up to be abused and manipulated, I also, don’t think we walk in the level of love and forgiveness in which Jesus intended the church walk. We say things like, “I can forgive but not forget . . . ” or “I love them, but I don’t like them . . . ” when in all actuality, we haven’t forgiven at all. And these are thinly veiled ways of holding a grudge. Reality is, we’re not going to be besties with everyone. Reality is, not every personality type is going to always mesh. But the other reality, I’ve been faced with as of late, is that I need to do some serious heart checks about how I think about and act toward others. I need to ask myself and the Holy Spirit, if I’m using those differences of personality and personal convictions as an excuse to walk in unforgiveness, ungraciousness, and lack of love toward those around me.

I don’t just want this month to be about love as a feeling. I don’t want to limit it to the gushy, romance that we associate with what is a fun, but highly commercialized, holiday. I want to commit to letting God change those things in my heart that need changing. To remember that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). There isn’t a human walking this earth that God doesn’t unconditionally love and deeply desire to be in relationship with. There isn’t a single person that He didn’t send His son to die for (John 3:16), and so it seems like the least I could do is submit myself to the conviction to love others deeply. To allow Him to transform my heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and to commit, with the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit (because y’all, there is no other way), to loving others more boldly and extravagantly than ever before.

Two For One . . . 1. Busy Busy Busy and 2. Welcome to Motherhood

I haven’t written in a minute because, as much as I sound like a broken record, we’ve been crazy busy . . . mostly with basketball, but also, just with life. I think I’ve accepted, with two kids, it’s the season we’re in. We’re going to have periods of time when it seems like we meet ourselves coming and going. But it also means there has to be intentionality on our part. Intentionally creating time and space to just be home . . . intentionally making sure Patrick and I are communicating beyond schedules and house remodeling fiascos adventures and work stuff and so on . . . and by default, that means intentionally saying “no” even though it probably upsets some people. Such is life. There is just no way, we’re going to please everyone. So, we do our best and create space and margin where we can and just keep truckin’.

But . . . that’s not even what I want to talk about today. I’ve written about slowing down, being busy, and saying “no” to the point of redundancy, and a quick search through past posts should help you locate those writings if you’re so inclined.

So, without further ado or any semblance off segue, I’m going to just abruptly change course here . . . much like when my fifteen-year-old takes a corner too fast while driving . . . buckle up everybody.

If you know me, you know I love a good, overused cliché expression. I always have and always, unapologetically, will. When I was in high school and wrote for academic competitions that was, without fail, one of the biggest criticisms I received from the judges. But alas, no one is judging my work now, or if they are, I don’t care. So I’ll just get to the point and with absolutely nothing in the way of a real introduction, I give you . . .

Motherhood in Clichés . . . Lessons Learned in Almost 16 Years of Mommin’

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”. . . alternately, “Don’t major in the minors” . . . and just in case you’re not catching on, “Don’t make mountains out of molehills” . . . I struggle with this one so much. I have a Ph.D. in creating issues where they just don’t exist. I don’t know if it’s my control freak nature or what, but I’m, albeit ever so slowly, learning to let the little things go, starting with Andrew’s version of a “clean” bedroom and Anna’s tendency to ask endless questions of anyone she meets . . . bless it . . . and I’m sorry but that’s all I’ve got. Some battles just aren’t worth fighting.

“The days are long, but the years are short” . . . let me tell y’all a little secret, I wasn’t a fan of the newborn days and weeks. Nor was I a fan of those early weeks and months after bringing Anna home, which felt very much like having a newborn. Everything is different, and no matter how much you try to prepare, whether it be by birth or adoption, having a new child totally upends your life. I really don’t like having my life upended (see the point above). But there is so much truth to this statement. The hours can seem to drag by when you have a little one, but the years absolutely fly by. I look at my kiddos now, at almost ten and fifteen years of age, and have trouble recalling those baby and toddler days. So cherish those moments mamas of littles, but also hold them loosely because . . .

“Don’t discount the value and beauty of your children growing up” . . . I’m not sure where this one came from or how overused it really is, but I refuse to live in the past. I’ve loved watching my kids grow into the people they were created to be, and while I most certainly won’t be wishing the days (or hours) away, I also won’t be dwelling on the past. Another little secret, I know I’ll miss these people when they fly the nest (however that looks). I mean Andrew is my Jeopardy/Trivial Pursuit buddy, and we share a love of basketball . . . but also, I have started to look forward to the empty-ish nest in the not so distant future. Invest in your marriage (if you’re married . . . if not then invest in a solid circle of friends and family) so that one day, when you’re kiddos grow up, you aren’t left trying to figure out who you are without them.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from the opening lines of one of my favorite books, which I believe, while it was never meant to, sums up motherhood quite perfectly . . .

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Lamentations . . . Studying the Bible . . . Sin and Consequences and All That Stuff . . .

Alternately . . . Writing Titles is NOT My Strength

I decided to read the book of Lamentations . . . I felt like life was just too joyful at the moment . . . that’s a joke y’all . . . lighten up.

I’ve never read Lamentations straight through. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’m not even sure I’ve read all of Lamentations in bits and pieces. Basically, I haven’t really read Lamentations to any extent that matters. It’s not the most encouraging book in the Bible. As a matter of fact, it’s downright depressing (that’s not a joke, but it is honesty). It is, after all, literally a book of poetic lamenting written by the prophet Jeremiah regarding the fall of and subsequent capture of Jerusalem.

I think sometimes we avoid the harder parts of God’s word . . . either because we find it makes us uncomfortable or because it doesn’t really interest us. Over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself drawn equally to both the old and new testaments. At the same time, with the exception of the lexicons and concordances for word study and commentaries only for historical background (and not necessarily interpretation purposes), I’ve pretty much put away all other Christian books . . . the devos, the bible studies, the Christian self-help, instructional type books . . . not because there is anything inherently wrong with any of those. There absolutely isn’t, but it seems like we often have it backwards. We often spend more time reading about the bible rather than actually reading the bible. Maybe we should flip that around. Maybe we should spend more time in the actual Word of God.

Because I felt like God wanted me to spend some focused time in the word without a bunch of outside voices giving their interpretation and opinions, I decided to put aside the other books for at least a while (I do still listen to a couple theologically based, solid bible, podcasts/teachers about once/week) . . . to trust that I am capable of reading and understanding the bible on my own with the help and enabling of the Holy Spirit. I think that’s a big part of growing in God’s word . . . learning to let the Bible stand on its own . . . which it totally should but we often try to make it say what we want it to say . . . something that fits our agenda . . . and to go off on just a slight tangent, the bible doesn’t need anyone’s help saying what it is meant to say. If someone starts their interpretation with, “I know it says ______, but it really means _______,” that’s a huge red flag for me. I for sure am going to pull up the original language and a solid biblical translation (not one that I just like how it sounds) to be sure that what is being taught is accurate. I don’t care who the teacher is, how big their platform is, or how long they’ve been in the ministry . . . there are times when I disagree with even my favorite teachers and preachers. We have let the Holy Spirit guide us in our reading and studying and learning of His word and not allow outside influences to mislead us.

What I’ve discovered in really digging into the Old Testament is that it is far more than just bible stories and boring laws. There is so much wisdom and instruction, guidance and beauty to be found in those Old Testament words. I knew that . . . I knew I loved Psalms with its beautiful songs written to God. I knew Proverbs was literally the book of wisdom, and I’ve loved Isaiah and the prophecies in that book for most of my adult years. But for the first time in my life, I’ve found myself sitting and studying in their entirety various Old Testament books . . . taking the time to go back to the original Hebrew, to look up the historical context, to see the parallels between Old Testament Israel and our modern-day culture.

And so, it seemed like time for a little Lamentations. I’m two chapters in, and let me tell you, there is a lot of lamenting. Jeremiah is one unhappy fellow. As he should be, and he’s not afraid to let God know how he feels. But here’s the other thing, he also acknowledges that the fault is not God’s. Y’all the children of Israel were a rebellious lot. They would not follow God’s instructions for any length of time without jumping headlong into all manner of sin and destruction, idolatry and just plain, rebelliousness. And Jeremiah acknowledges that a couple times in chapter one of Lamentations. Even though he was a Godly man, he takes the responsibility on himself, “See, O Lord, that I am in distress; My soul is troubled; My heart is overturned within me, For I have been very rebellious. Outside the sword bereaves, At home it is like death.” Lamentations 1:20

So far, two chapters in, I have three takeaways from the book of Lamentations:

  1. God can handle our lamenting. He knows what we’re thinking anyhow, so we might as well tell Him. He’s not that easily offended.
  2. Humbleness, admitting when we have rebelled and taking responsibility for our choices and actions, are a non-negotiable. Can we lament? Absolutely. But we must acknowledge when we’ve messed up and take it to God otherwise we’re just whining and shifting blame.
  3. There are earthly consequences for our actions. We serve a righteous, gracious, merciful, and forgiving God so much so that He sent His son to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. But, here, on this earth, there are often going to be repercussions for our choices and decisions, and so we had better think about what we’re doing before we do it. Sin has consequences.

“For whom the LORD loves He disciplines, Just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12

I have no doubt, there will be more as I work my way through the last half of the book (it’s only five chapters long), but today, I want to encourage you to sit down with a bible (see what I wrote on translations and studying God’s word here) and a notebook . . . if you don’t know where to start then I recommend the book of John (or any of the gospels). Let the Holy Spirit speak to you through His word. Let Him instruct you and lead you and guide you and trust that you are capable of learning and understanding what He has to say.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17