Fortune Cookies

I got to speak to the warmest group of ladies on this little fortune cookie message last week, and I thought I should share it here too, where it all started.

This fortune came to me at a time when I didn’t feel inspiring at all. Actually, I felt like putting down this part of me. Taking a break from writing and speaking words that move me, that I hoped moved others. Because I was tired, because I was defeated, because I felt like no one was listening, like none of this even mattered.

I don’t really put much into fortunes, but I do believe that God can use even a fortune cookie to get my attention and change my heart. And he did.

Two days after getting this fortune, I was invited to speak at an event because someone thought I would be inspiring. God, you are so good!

God let me know I was right where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing! I believe that God puts us in the best places for us. He places us where we can be used, molded, refined, and bring others to him and glory to his name.

But just because we are right where we need to be, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. Actually it’s still really hard and exhausting and can feel completely wrong.

But that is where and how we become the people God designed us to be. We heal, we find strength, we make peace, and we spread his goodness. Because when we walk in the way he has for us, he goes with us, for us, and in us. Amen!

Don’t let Satan get you

It was a bumpy start to our morning today. I was troubled with some uncertainty, and my kids picked up on it right away.

“What’s wrong, mom? Are you sad?” They asked me in the car on the way to work.

I told them I was a little bit sad, and told them why. Immediately they pointed me to Jesus.

“Don’t let Satan get you, mom. That’s Satan trying to get you.”

We often talk to the kids about Satan, and how he likes to take our smiles, our happiness, and our joy. And they realized that he was after my joy today.

We only have a four minute drive to work, so we didn’t get to talk about it more after that. But their words didn’t stop speaking to me.

The day went on and their attitudes started to turn sour. Satan was after them too, and still hanging on to me. Even though they’d just called Satan out this morning, here he was creeping into their own hearts. What a sneaky snake, an evil ugly jerk!

By the end of the work day we had had it with him, and God must have too because he put it in Charlie’s heart to share a verse with me in the few minutes we had together before her piano lesson.

“Mom, do you know John 3:16?” She asked me.

Of course I knew it, but I wanted to hear her take on it.

“God loves us so much, mom. He sent Jesus for us. He had to die for us. He loves you and me so much, mom. He loves all of us. I think you need to tell someone that today so that Satan doesn’t get them.”

That was it, and then we were off to piano and karate, and home late for dinner and bedtime. And now here I am. Doing what she told me I should do.

Sharing John 3:16…

“For God so loved the world (us), that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you’re reading this right now, know you are so loved. God sent his son to die for your sins so that you could be free! Believe you are free. Believe God. Don’t let Satan steal your smile, your joy, or your life any longer. Don’t let Satan get you.

A Planter

A friend told me I was a planter. Dropping seeds in the ground, and hanging around, just long enough to make sure they take.

And it’s strange for me now, to move from side to side, instead of up.

I don’t know the flow, or which way to go, when God calls me across.

I can’t see the leaves, when I’m just sowing seeds, and it feels like a loss.

Moving up the ladder, growing numbers, raising the bar. For myself. That’s what I know. That’s what I’ve had to show. For myself.

But who I was, isn’t who I am. And roots don’t take when, you aren’t supposed to get a stand.

It’s felt like fallow, because I don’t see the growth. But my waiting, God calls hallowed, and He tells me child, you don’t have to do both.

I don’t have to count rows now, across the field. He showed me it’s about the seed now, and not about the yield.

I plant and He grows.

I obey and Grace flows.

I pray and He knows.

My heart.

“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3‬:‭5‬-‭9‬ ‭

Delighting in Our Kids

Are you delighting in your children?

Delighting in our kids can be easy when they’re behaved and excelling and well, delightful. We praise them and kiss them and post sweet pictures of special moments on social media. #Blessed.

But what about when they’re whining and fighting and angry and hurting? What does delighting in our children look like then?

The truth is, when we learn how to delight in our children in those moments too, the whole parenthood thing gets so beautiful.

Every child is a gift from God, and as parents we are entrusted with raising them up in the way they should go. So we take them to church and we teach them to pray and we make them mind their manners. But then they throw tantrums and fight others and fail classes and lie. That is when delighting in your children has to run deep, and that’s why it should start early. Start right now.

Delighting in your children is loving them fiercely in discipline and instruction.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

This means we have to do the work to correct our children when they make a mistake. We must love them enough to show them the truth in all situations, especially in their sin. That doesn’t mean we condemn, provoke, or ridicule them when they fall down. No, it’s actually the opposite. The Love Verses say it best, so I’ll let them speak;

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

When there is sin in our child’s life, we have to meet them there with love and kindness and the truth of God’s word. We don’t say we are right and they are wrong, we bear the burden of sin together believing God is right there too.

As a mother of two small children I know I have many a trial yet to come. So I ask you to prepare with me now. Satan is after our children and our families and we shouldn’t just sit around and wait for him to show up.

I’m asking you to delight in your children today. Meet them where they are just as the Father meets us. Love them hard. Fight for them. Don’t let the sin of the world limit the joy that can be found in your family today.

Desire or Devotion?

This is our first stay in Florida without Barb. The glimpses of her here blow in and out like the gulf breeze that cools us down so easy right when we need it. That’s just how she was, taking care of everything we needed in her graciously easy way.

“Sit, let me do that.”

“I’ll take the kids, you go for a walk.”

And always, “Can I get you anything?”

I was telling Keith today, that was her gift, taking care of everything and everyone. But as I’m walking now writing this and thinking of her, I’m appreciating another one of her qualities, one that probably made her so notable in all of her other gifts.

Barb was consistent. She did what she said. She stayed the course even if that meant wrestling through the ugliness that comes with living on this side of heaven. She filled in the gaps and never wanted a prize.

Barb had figured out what I am only beginning to learn. The joy she had found in consistently doing what needed to be done was not the same joy the world shouts will be lived when we achieve dreams, goals, and desires of our hearts. Those joys are different because they come from two different places, from desire and devotion.

Desire sits on the surface of who we are. It’s the things we want to see, hear, or attain. It’s our want, but it’s not our why.

Devotion sits deep in our hearts. It’s what we know, trust, and believe. It’s why we do what we do.

Because these two come from different places, it’s important that we ask ourselves which place we are moving in when we work on our own consistency.

How many times do we say…

“I want to lose weight. I need to be more consistent with eating healthy and exercising!”

Our desire is to lose weight and look better, but we also must establish our devotion. Whats our why? Maybe we add to our phrase…

“I want to lose weight so that I can play and be present with my kids.”

When our lives are built on desires, inconsistency can quickly take over. But, when we lay down a foundation of devotion, it is a lot harder to give up when our consistency starts to wane.

What I’m learning is that you don’t always need consistency to meet your desires, but that consistency is the only means to show devotion, especially when it comes to devotion to our Lord and Savior, who is the key to the whole thing!

Barbs joy wasn’t found in her desire to crush goals or earn praise, Barb’s joy was found in her devotion to please God.

Maybe you’re reading this today and you’re not a Christian. You probably think what good is being devoted to a God you can’t see?! But see him you will, all over your life, when you consistently give him the praise, honor, and glory. Being consistently devoted to God will improve your relationships, your attitude, and your mindset. The rewards of this world will run out, but a life lived in devotion to God will last forever.

How are You and Jesus Doin?

Serious question: How are you and Jesus doin?

I remember the first time I heard this question and I think of how it shook me for so long after. It shifted my whole mindset, it changed my whole heart. And that’s why I wanted to ask you, how are you and Jesus doin?

Usually this question is asked of a relationship.

How are you and your husband?

How are you and your friend?

But it had never clicked for me that I was in an actual relationship with Jesus. I guess I just looked at Him as this Father-like man that was just there watching over me. I wasn’t getting to know Him better, I wasn’t listening to Him, and I sure wasn’t doing my part to build the relationship. I wasn’t loving Him, I wasn’t in love with Him, and He had every reason to dump me, but thankfully He’s Jesus, and He never will. He’ll never leave you either.

I heard a very wise friend say,

“the only thing that can separate us from our Father is ourselves.”

We forsake Him, we curse Him, we dump Him. But He will always stand at the door knocking to see if we will let Him back in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

It’s been years now since I heard that question, and I’m thankful today that I have a different answer. Jesus is so so good to me. I see His goodness all over my life. He has held me through dark ugly nights that felt like years, He’s given me peace in the middle of sorrow so low, and He’s spoken words of truth in my ears as lies of this world tried to take me down. He pleads for me, He champions me, He is my dearest friend, and I love Him deeper every day. It’s strange how this relationship works. There is nothing I can do to earn His love, and I sure don’t deserve it, but He still calls me worthy. He is in me, and everything I have is through Him.

It has taken awhile to get here and I know He’s still working on me. And maybe you’re not here yet, maybe you’re far from it. But wherever you are, He sees you, He loves you, and He is knocking on the door of your heart waiting for you to let Him in.

Charlie Dreams

I haven’t shared on here in months. Months have felt much longer lately, but also all blurred together and moving too fast all at the same time.

We lost Gordy’s mom, Barb, to colon cancer in early September of last year, and like Charlie says, our family will never be the same.

I think each of us lost a part of this life that was so precious to us when we lost Barb. Barb brought joy in so many ways. We all saw Jesus up close in her living, her fighting cancer, and her life still touching people after her death.

Charlie has dreams of Barb sometimes and they’re always different, but always end the same. Charlie will dream she’s a little bit older and see Barb, and Barb will tell her to make the family happy.

Today Charlie had a hard day. She didn’t want to focus on school. She had an attitude all morning, that I just blamed on it being Monday. But after work I took the kids swimming and she only wanted to swim for a little while, when usually I’m begging her to get out of the pool. Instead today, she got out and wrapped up in Barb’s pool towel and just walked around a bit before she came over and told me about another one of her dreams.

She dreamed this time that she was performing on a stage and we were all in the audience watching. Then she saw Barb and Barb smiled at her, her pretty Grandma smile, and told her to make everyone happy.

Charlie does make so many people happy. She’s got that little light that brightens days, lifts heads, and changes attitudes.

I love that God gives her glimpses of Grandma in her dreams, and that she’s reminded to stay joyful. That’s truly what Barb would want. For us to seek joy in the Lord! And then praise God for it!

We miss Barb so very much. She’s still all over our lives and I think she always will be. Especially with these Charlie dreams that make me cry, but encourage us all to be happy.

I have everything to give

The past few weeks I’ve been giving away my clothes and shoes, selling possessions I never thought I could part with, and starting to let go of emotions, hurts, and worries that I’ve carried for far too long. My stuffed closets are starting to take deep breaths of relief now that they can, and my mind is focused and renewed. But I’ve been met with this question a few times and haven’t been able to provide an adequate answer to it until right now, “You’re giving so much away, do you have anything left for yourself?”

And my answer is, I still have everything left to give.

The thing I’ve learned about growing closer to God is that when we let him start peeling away the layers of humanness that have grown up all around our hearts, He doesn’t just pull away the pieces that have died to us, He doesn’t just take the pieces we are ready to lay down, He takes everything. He takes it because He has to, He takes it because anything not of Him is not for us, anything we hold closer than Him means death for us, and sometimes He takes it because this life is simply not about us.

As I think about “my everything” a lump rises in my throat. I think about all I hold dearly to my chest, my family, my health, my mind, and surely that can’t be included in what God would ask me to offer up to Him. But then I look around at my friends who’ve lost babies and parents and spouses, my family who fights cancer and sickness, and all of the others around me who have lost these most treasured things, and I know that yes, God wants everything.

But what I’ve been forgetting and maybe you have too, is that this life and everything in it is a gift from God. Everything is His.

Colossians 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

Live Today

Are you living today?

Like really breathing in the free air and chasing down life, living?

How many days have you felt yourself simply going through the motions of work, motherhood, faith, marriage, relationships, everything? You wake up to play the game. You are making all of the same moves that you know have worked over and over to get you to the next square, and that is what you are content to do. That is the play it safe to stay alive move. And then you get to go to sleep just to wake up and do it all over again.

Is that living?

You’re just moving from start to the next designated square. You’re just flipping over the lies on the cards that the world deals you. You’re banking on choices you make in your own wisdom, and then coming up broke or headed back to start over. People call you a failure. You just can’t catch a break. But you keep playing the game anyway.

Is that really living, friend, if you’re never taking the leap of faith it takes to get yourself off of the board into a life that was created just for you?

Haven’t we all believed the lie that giving in to God means that we are giving up ourselves and missing out on all life has to offer? Maybe you still do? But I want to let you in on a little secret. A secret that shouldn’t even be a secret, friends. We should be shouting this Good News at the top of our lungs! THERE IS A BETTER LIFE IN CHRIST! You can really live today if you die to yourself! There I said it! It’s our choice if we are or we aren’t living the life we could be living. We get to choose and I choose to live today!

I’ve decided that I don’t want to play this game anymore. I want to jump off of the board into the open arms of the Father because in Him is where life truly begins.

He’s standing there for you too. You can live too. You can live today free from your past shame and free from your sin. You can live today with peace in the midst of suffering and with the joy of the Lord as your strength.

Our days are already numbered, and death is certain for us all. But we get to decide how we live the life we have, and I want you to know that it doesn’t matter when we die, when we choose to live.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

1 Kings 2:3 And observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

God wants us to live life and to live it fully and freely. But we cannot do that without him.

I choose to live today. I choose life on earth and glorious life eternal with my savior. Will you live today?

A Better Word

I don’t know about you, but I need a better word in so many sentences. As I type words on pages writing this book, even though they are my own thoughts and memories and rhymes, they sometimes feel awkward and unworthy of being read by someone who just might have a better word.

I want to say the right thing so strongly that sometimes I just don’t say anything at all for fear that there might be a better word. This then means that I don’t have the words to say I’m sorry to my friend who lost her baby. I don’t have the words to encourage my mother in law who has chemo coursing through her veins. I don’t have the words to comfort my friend who just wants to be a mother, the friend who’s heart is broken, or the friend who lost a job. For lack of a better word, I just don’t say my most vulnerable and real words, and pray God’s will over their lives and situations instead.

And while that’s still a careful way to handle my words, my friends and family don’t need careful words. They need a better word. They need the truth.

So I ask God, will you give me a better word right now? Because You Are The Word, Lord.

My words will never be enough to calm fears, mend hearts, or fill cups of life. They’re not supposed to be. But maybe instead of always trying to SPEAK a better word, I should LISTEN to a better word from my Heavenly Father. Maybe I need a better word in my heart and on my lips that doesn’t intercede for Jesus, but brings people to Him and not me.

In 1 Kings chapter 13 King Jeroboam didn’t like the words the man of God spoke over the alter at Bethel. Sometimes words from others set us off right? But as he stretched his hand out, crying “Seize him!” His hand began to shrivel up! Oops. Maybe he thought he knew the way, like we often do, but maybe someone had a better word. Maybe the man of God had a word from God.

Verse 6 says,

“Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.” 1 Kings 13:6

The man of God spoke to the Lord on the kings behalf and the king’s hand became good as new. The king saw the truth in a better word and the Lord’s power showed through.

A better word can restore life. A better word can lead others to the one true word. Instead of worrying that you don’t have the right words, trust the Lord for a better word.