Marriage Challenge

Marriage Challenge

The other night I was watching the new Duck Dynasty spinoff, “Jep & Jessa: Growing the Dynasty.”  I thought they were adorable and obviously in love, but the way she treated him was a disappointment.  Maybe it’s all for show, but I lost count of how many times she rolled her eyes when he said something and she constantly corrected him and treated him like an idiot.

I’ll admit, some of his notions were a bit….um…..exaggerated.  I assume that’s for the cameras.

Maybe her eye rolling was also overdone for show, but she has the opportunity here to model what it looks like to respect a man even though he does crazy things sometimes.  Now that would be something I would like to see…..a wife lifting up and respecting her husband.

I think that’s the thing I love most about Chip and Joanna Gaines from “Fixer Upper.”  She laughs at his silliness, but she shows respect for him and even tells him how “manly” he is occasionally.  That’s the book I want to take a page from, the one that makes my husband stronger.

Friends, I don’t mean to tear down the Robertsons.  They’re still just figuring it out, like the rest of us.  Let’s just remember, showing your husband respect is life-giving to him.  I don’t think we realize the full power of our admiration.  My guy eats it up like candy when I tell him how well he did on something or how much I admire his skills at anything, it doesn’t even have to be something big.  I could literally compliment how he walked across the yard and he would puff up and strut like a peacock.

We think they should be confident because they are so good at what they do.  My husband is beyond brilliant.  He is the smartest man I have ever known.  It surprises me sometimes when he seems insecure about anything.  I consider it my job to make sure he knows that there is someone who thinks he is incredible.  I don’t have to study psychology to know that my respect gives him super-strength.

That whole, “she does him good and not harm all the days of her life” thing.  I want to do that!

Let’s work to build up our husbands and not think of their differences as crazy or their opinions as useless.  OK, I may not be asking my hubs for decorating advice any time soon, but I could be better at listening to his ideas.  He is the head of our home, the king of our castle.  Let’s treat him as such by at least smiling when he talks and listening when he shares a thought.  We don’t have to agree to be respectful.  We can find something to admire, even if he suggests something like….oh….and this is just hypothetical….that we don’t need a new pair of shoes.

Every marriage has its challenges and every man makes mistakes.  When I feel like criticizing my husband for a mistake in judgment it only takes me a second to remember a major mess up of mine from the recent past.  I mess up our money, break things, forget stuff, lose important papers.  It would hurt me if he didn’t forgive me or held it against me.  So I don’t want to hurt him by holding his less-than-stellar ideas against him.

This is something I will probably always have to work on.  I tend to be sarcastic and dry, which comes across as disrespectful sometimes.  I am learning where to draw the line and when to back off.

So here’s a simple challenge:

  1. Find one new way each day to show your husband respect and admiration.  Be genuine, not giving false compliments.  I will bet you that the ripple effect of one new expression of admiration per day will change my and your marriage in giant ways.
  2. Pay attention to your responses when he says something you don’t agree with.  Let’s treat him the way we want him to treat us when we say something he doesn’t agree with.
  3. Set aside our own needs.  Wow, this one is hard for me.  If I’m not really careful I will fall into the trap of thinking that it’s all about me.  Let’s tell ourselves each morning when we wake up to be servants and not think we should be served all of the time.
  4. Remember what marriage is for….holiness, not happiness.

Will you join me in the challenge?!

A Word for 2016

A Word for 2016

So it’s a whole new year.  Clean slate.  Ready – set – go!

For me, 2015 will go down in my personal history as one of the hardest years of my life.  Years from now when I am in the nursing home and an attendant pushing my wheelchair asks me, “So, tell me about your life.” I will say, “I don’t remember much, but I do know that 2015 was H-E-double-hockey-sticks.”

I am glad to have it behind me and I have high hopes for 2016.  Not that there’s any reason to think that except trust in God and believing He knows that I can only take so much.

Then there’s that “Word of the Year” thing people do.  Last year I chose the word “trust” and man-oh-man, did I get tested on that.  I’m pretty sure I passed, but my grade might be like a D.  So this year I wrote down a few words that I thought might make the year a little easier.  I thought maybe a word like SLEEP would be good.  Or SNACKS.

But then, ya know, I prayed about it and God said no.  I had to have a word that actually would challenge me to be more like Christ.  Really, these words, it feels a little like He chooses them because I will start to feel drawn to something in particular and slowly it becomes clear.  Like those Magic Eye pictures from the 90s where you think you see a kaleidoscope of images but when you change your focus it actually has a crystal clear other picture there.

This one, for example, shows 3D snowflakes and two of the birds float to the front when you look at it with a different focus:

So I changed my focus on my list of word ideas and God gave HUMILITY for 2016.  I am really hoping for a gentler lesson than the 2015 experience, but with a word like humility, it could get rough.

I think I am going to order one of those teeny stamped rings with my 2016 word on it.  I have a few others already with some favorite words that inspire me.  I have one that says “abundance” another “valor” which are my favorite essential oils.  I have a “trust” ring for 2015 and a few blank ones.  I was, of course, originally going to get my kids’ names on my rings, but with 9 of them it was too many to wear at once and I felt bad thinking I would have to choose which kids to wear each day, so I went with motivational words instead.  After all, if I am drawn to be more humble, trusting and brave then I am a better mom with or without their name on my finger.   So I will add “humility” to the stack and hope it helps me see where God is leading me this year.

God has been convicting me more and more over the past few months that I need to expand my serving.  I would have told you that I already do plenty of that, but since He has been so clear to me that I need to do more then I am following His lead.  Plus I need to work on other areas of humility like to listen more and talk less, think more of others and recognize more that I am not always right.

I don’t know where God and I are going with this, but I am bracing myself for the journey.  I am not going to force it.  I’ll just start small and see where He leads.

Speaking of humility, I’ve been sharing some sweet, humble stories on Facebook all week of acts of kindness and caring.  Finding these stories to share is helping me see where I am supposed to shift my perspective.  Plus it’s been good for me to see how many selfless things people do for each other.  We all need that reminder in the midst of news stories of school shootings and people tearing each other down on the internet.

This one is too long for me to share anywhere else and the image quality is bad, but it’s worth sharing!.  Be warned…you may need a tissue….

So his mom posted the on social media:

And look what happened….

It was even better than they could have planned.


This was a little boy’s dream come true.  A simple act of kindness could alter his life.

Don’t be mad at me if you’re bawling now.  I gave you fair warning.

What about you…do you choose a word for the year?  I’d love to know what it is.

Join the conversation over on my Facebook page!

Fun Weekend Ideas!

Fun Weekend Ideas!

I’ve got some great stuff to share with you today as you prepare for the weekend!  I do a lot of writing for other sites and I forget to share those articles with you because my brain only works at half speed these days.  I think you’ll like these two….they are projects that our family is currently working on.

The two articles I am sharing are about the weekend, how to make the most of our time both and home and at church.  Weekends are such a precious opportunity to step away from the busyness of the work week and it’s so easy to either overload them with activity or spend the entire time staring at the TV and forgetting that there’s a world of rest & relaxation outside our 4 walls.

First, over on The Soul Spa I wrote 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Saturday.  These are sweet, simple ways to embrace time with your family and connect with God.  It’s something we forget to do most weekends, so taking a look at this list may help find some purposeful ways to add the magic to this special day.

10 ways to make the most of Saturday -

Second, I wrote a post over on FaithGateway about a challenge we created as a family.  We were looking for ways to get to know some of the people at church that we haven’t met, but it can be intimidating.  Every Sunday we file past people that are supposed to be our church family but we don’t even know some of their names.

I came up with this idea for our family and we all absolutely LOVE it!  Even my younger boys have gotten into it and the results have been pretty amazing!  Head over to FaithGateway to read more about our Family Church Challenge!

A game to play with your family that will help you get to know new people at your church! #faithgateway

Don’t forget to check out my Holiday Gift Guide for Women and Holiday Gift Guide for Men!

Have a great weekend and be sure to make the most of this precious time together!

Continue the conversation over on Facebook!

The Christian Walk…or Is It a Climb?

The Christian Walk…or Is It a Climb?

I went to see the movie “Everest” yesterday.  I normally don’t go for those blockbuster, adventure thriller kind of movies because, frankly, they scare me.  I get so nervous watching them that I have to run to the ladies’ room at least twice during the movie since my bladder can’t take the tension.

But I felt like I was supposed to go see it, I can’t explain why.

The film is about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster.  There were times in the movie when I stayed tightly curled up in my seat with my eyes closed.  As the climbers made their way up to the summit I was so moved by the effects of the blizzard that I kept wishing for a furry coat to wrap around me.  I could have sworn I was freezing in that theater.  I am easily influenced.

What kept striking me as the story played out was how the mountain seemed to call these people.  I mean, WHY would you risk your life for something like that?  One character explained it best when he said that he only felt real peace on the mountain despite the agonizing physical difficulty.

And right there in the middle of than torturous story it hit me.  This is the Christian experience.  God calls us and we must follow Him.  Despite having to lose everything in the answer to the call, we discover that the only real peace is on that harrowing climb.  It is filled with trials and tribulation, yet we stay the course.

The Christian walk can be more like a climb to a mountain summit.

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Christianity is not easy, friends.  But the peace that accompanies it is unexplainable to those who simply can’t see it.

Sometimes I get it in my head that I am doing things wrong if I am feeling pain or discomfort.  When people call me crazy, it hurts and I don’t want to be disliked.  When I lose possessions or people that I value, it makes me want to quit.  But there is no peace in going back down the mountain and trying to rejoin the world.

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Being a Christ follower does not mean a pain-free life, nor does it mean we won’t have troubles.  Trouble happens to all of us no matter who we are!  Being a Christian means that the trials draw us to become more like Christ and in our suffering He is glorified.  I know…. it sounds kinda crazy!  But I have experienced that kind of unexplainable peace and I tell you that the joy found there is no less than reaching the summit of Everest.  It is a-mazing!

1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange wee happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”

When I am injured, I still bleed.  When people hate me, my heart breaks.  And when I am rejected for my faith, it stings like the dickens because I love those who reject me and want them to have the peace that I experience.  God doesn’t promise to save me from the pain.  He does promise to increase my character and my hope.

Romans 5:3-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts though the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Oh boy do I need some of that hope more and more each day!

I won’t be making a trip to the summit of Mt Everest, or any mountain for that matter.  I’ll just stay right here at my low altitude thankyouverymuch.  Just watching the movie was enough for me to know that I wouldn’t have even made it to the first camp.  I have my own, more personal mountain too climb.  Motherhood, marriage, work, friends, so many areas that I have to learn hard lessons from.

But amidst the loss and pain and suffering that I have experienced as I climb this mountain that calls me, the sense of peace and joy are with me, carrying me to the end.

Go see the movie for yourself and be amazed.  Oh, and take a heavy coat.

Continue the conversation on Facebook.

Are You a Meddler?

Are You a Meddler?

A few weeks ago in church our pastor was preaching from 1 Peter.  He was just reading along and sharing his message and he got to 1 Peter 5:15. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”

It stopped me cold.  Whoa!  Being a meddler is right up there with a murderer and a thief?!  That’s pretty tough.

So I decided to do some digging about meddlers (also known as busybodies) and see what else the Bible has to say about it.  I definitely wanted to know if I was doing any of that meddling stuff myself and I sure don’t want to suffer like a murderer!

In the sermon, he said that a troublesome meddler is “one that is too involved in the affairs of others.” He also said that while it is not a crime to be a meddler, it is a sin.  Ouch!

One thing I want to really make clear is that I am looking at myself here, not anyone else.  It is SO easy when I read these verses to look at others who have meddled in my life and think, “Ooooh…..she’s in TROUBLE!”, then just go about my day as if I don’t have any sin hiding in the corners of my heart.  But that really doesn’t help anyone.  So I am choosing to look at my own life and leave other people to the Holy Spirit.  I am sure there’s enough mess in me to deal with; I don’t need anyone else’s problems.  Plus, that would be pretty ironic to be calling people out for meddling when it’s really not my business.  It’s like those haters who scream at me online, “You are SO judgmental.”  Um…. do you hear the irony?

So for this discussion let’s just stop to look inside ourselves and see what planks we have in our own eyes and leave other meddlers to their suffering, shall we?

6 tips to help you know if you ae being a meddler #christian #culture #friendorfoe

How do we know if we are a meddler? 

To make it easy, let’s call our target Susie.  Poor Susie is obviously making some bad choices and she is SO impossible to deal with and frankly we just don’t like her.  Maybe she’s a relative, maybe she is a troublesome neighbor, or maybe she is simply a person we thought was a friend and then changed our mind after we found out that she is so horrible.  How can we know if we are meddling or really being helpful?  I mean, Susie has simply got to change, right?

1. If I gossip.  Yep, gossip is the number one way of meddling.  If I find myself talking to our friend Mary about how crazy Susie is when don’t talk to Susie about it….I am gossiping and ultimately meddling.  Either I am trying to be a part of helping Susie directly or I am a busybody.  There is not much in between.

Mt 12:36 “I tell you, on this day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

2. If I don’t pray for her.  Like it or not, we are called to want the best for Susie.  If we spend more time thinking about how annoying Susie is than praying for her we are possibly meddlers.

Mt 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven.”

3. If I am dipping my nose into her affairs.  There are some very clear areas of authority in Scripture and we will be wise to heed them.  Each man has authority over his own home.  It is easy to criticize others in their parenting, marriage, home-keeping skills, etc.  We all will fail in many areas, but unless there is actual illegal activity going on (and even then the are appropriate channels for helping, none of which involve social media or gossip) we need to stay out of other people’s business.  If we stuck our noses into every other family that does things differently than we do, we will leave nothing but a slew of broken lives behind us.

2 Cor 10:13 “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God has assigned to us, to reach even you.”

If you really, really think you need to get involved in helping someone through their sin (and it needs to be sin and not just “I don’t agree with you”), PRAY a lot before you jump in!  Then check with your spouse and see if they agree, then ask your pastor and see if he agrees.  Then, if that wise counsel (not all of your friends but just those 2 advisors) actually agrees that you should get involved, as hard as it will be, you are called to talk TO Susie instead of going around her.  Not talking directly to her is cowardly and never, ever actually helps anyone.  Not even you.

4. If I think I’m better than her.  If I think I am above anyone else, then I am in danger of all kinds of sin.  God loves me, God loves you, He doesn’t place any of us over any other.  If I think I am better than Susie, I am actually losing sight of how special she is to God and I can quickly slip into foolish and harmful behavior.  It is vital to keep the perspective that no matter what anyone does or what we do, it does not raise or lower us in God’s eyes.

Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

5. If I can’t be corrected. Oh man, it is tough when someone corrects you.  It can really sting.  We like to be admired and thought of as flawless.  But we all need a word of correction sometimes….ALL OF US!  If you reject correction then you are likely to be a person who over-criticizes others.  It’s simple psychology: I have to lower others in order to stay on my imagined pedestal.

Be willing to be corrected.  It keeps us from getting a big head and thinking we’re all that and a bag of chips.  If we don’t get defensive when someone corrects us then we are in a better position to know if we are being a meddler.  I am so glad I have people in my life who tell me the truth or I would probably be the worst offender in all of history!

Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

6. Know God’s Word.  It is easy to say, “Susie is so WRONG!” but did we look in the Bible to actually see if it says what she is doing is wrong?  Child raising philosophies, school choices, birth choices, money, careers, so many areas where we like to think our way is the best.  And maybe you do have great ideas and maybe you can do have ideas that Susie could benefit from.  But is she WRONG?  Does the Bible actually SAY that if she doesn’t breastfeed then she is doing it wrong?  NO!  Let’s let each other live peacefully and just try to be understanding unless it is a real, honest to goodness sin.  If that is the case then it may be time to go to Susie in love and try to help her.

Your involvement should ALWAYS be for the purpose of helping Susie heal and draw closer to God.  Otherwise I need to just mind my own beeswax and be thankful to have friends who put up with my junk and I should be willing to put up with theirs.

Lastly, I am asking myself these questions to keep myself in check when it comes to meddling:

10 ways to know if you're meddling.  Great post about not being a meddler and loving others!

  • Am I really helping or just feeding my own ego?
  • Did this friend ask for my help?
  • Have I become part of the problem?
  • Do I think I know better than my friend about her life?
  • How much time have I spent praying for this situation?
  • Am I seeing my own messes and trying to fix them, or do I only “fix” others?
  • Am I being manipulative or dishonest in any way?
  • Am I honoring God in this relationship?
  • Do I ever sense the Holy Spirit telling me to stop?
  • Would I be of more service if I stepped out of the situation and minded my own business?
I watch Christians eat each other alive as they accuse and destroy and bully and attack both online and in person.  But it is absolutely, positively meddling if we are doing that.  To tear someone up, accuse them behind their back, talk about them as if we know all of the details of their situation and never do anything to actually HELP them is meddling and God says that we do not want to suffer what a meddler will suffer.  At the very least we should stop for our own sake!

I am asking God to show me any areas where I may be meddling and I will be praying for each of you who reads this.  Let’s make a change in ourselves and allow God to use us to bless others, even Susie.

Come on over to Facebook and continue the conversation!

Why Ya Gotta Hate?!

Why Ya Gotta Hate?!

I generally prefer to be light and fun here, but I felt led to share this, so here goes.

I’ve been thinking lately about HATE.

I’ve been the recipient of a lot of that over the past few months and it does cause me to wonder.  I mean, what’s the point of spreading hate?

I want to say first….that for as much hate mail and vile comments that I receive, I get 50x more loving, caring, generous messages.  Many of you have blessed my socks off and been incredibly supportive!  I can’t tell you how much it means when someone lets you know that they care about you.  And not everyone who sends me these messages agrees with my beliefs, but they want to be a part of the healing anyway.  Your kindness overflows!

With the recent Duggar news story, the assaults on their family and watching people spew hate at them….it makes me wonder again why people think it’s OK to attack someone else.  It’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.  Spreading hate and stirring up people’s lives doesn’t help anyone (including those doing the hating).  It only serves to do further damage to an already painful situation.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

In my family’s case, we have been lied about, called unimaginable names and been threatened repeatedly.  If I weren’t in the center of it, I would have found it fascinating how social media misinformation instantly becomes truth in people’s minds.  How does that happen?   Have we forgotten that that there is more than one side in every situation?!  And why don’t we realize that we don’t know the details and can’t possibly know what people’s motives are?!  Does it not occur to us that some of the loudest voices have personal agendas?  Have we lost all sense of caring and concern for anyone who is different than us?

I spent one afternoon last week clearing abusive comments off of my various social media channels and when I was finished I thought, “Ugh, I need to go scrub my brain from seeing all of those foul messages.”  And in a flash I remembered….I have a way to do that!  I grabbed my Bible and headed to the front porch where I rocked in my chair, soaked in the afternoon sunshine and read God’s message of forgiveness and grace and joy.  That did the trick!

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Why is it that if someone disagrees with us, we have to hate them and try to hurt them?  I do not understand the need to harm to come to someone just because I don’t like their choices.  I do not understand why we have to assume the worst about other people.

Well, actually, I do understand it.  It’s called sin.  Yes, we ALL sin.  Me, you, the guy next door that you can’t stand, the pastor who you expect to be perfect, your doctor, your kids, my kids, policemen, movie stars, sports heroes, everyone!!!!  Our sinful nature wants to prove how bad someone else is to make ourselves feel better.  So we attack them when we should be lifting them up and showing them grace.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

We have to stop being guided by our own feelings and ideas and personal pain to see the bigger picture!

I’m not saying we should be silent.  Yes, take a stand on something you believe in!  Yes, speak up if you think it will contribute to a solution.  Absolutely be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves (like the 1.2 million babies murdered in the U.S. every year!).

But speaking out doesn’t have to include attacks, assaults, vulgarity, insults, hatred.  It doesn’t have to shame the other person or mock their choices.  It is possible to disagree with someone and feel compelled to speak out about an issue without making them feel like they need to sleep with one eye open.  Do we need to decimate someone’s character to make our point?  Or can we voice our position in love, with humility and honor toward everyone involved?

If the only way to prove your point is to destroy another person, then your point has no validity.  Your message should be able to stand on its own strength without causing harm to anyone else.  If it can’t, then you are wrong.

Some thoughts on how hate is affecting our world and what we cen do about it personally.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26

What if, the next time we feel compelled to comment or speak against another person….even if we think what they stand for is criminal or abusive….we stop and consider that maybe we aren’t fully informed?  What if we thought about how it would affect us if we were being treated that way?  What if we tried to be a part of the solution instead of adding to the problem?  What if we thought of them as a human being with value instead of a meaningless enemy?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  Ephesians 4:29

I know there are deep issues out there.  Healing, lots of healing, needs to take place in anyone’s life.  Shouldn’t that be our goal?  To find a place of health and peace and community?

If I don’t like what someone else is doing, I have to ask myself, “Am I actually going to help them to change by assaulting them?”  Or could I make a real difference by being encouraging, loving, and understanding while still voicing my objections to their choices?

I can tell you from experience, I have never responded to one of the hateful comments toward me by thinking, “You know they’re right?  I am a crazy $&%@#!….I should change that.”  Instead it pushes me further and further away from the commenters and their message until eventually the chasm between us becomes so wide that it is nearly (but not hopelessly) impossible to reach each other.

But occasionally someone sends me a message of hopeful correction, encouraging me to read some verses that might point me away from my current choices.  Then I actually DO consider their message.  I have a lot to learn and want to grow!  I want to learn from others, be corrected, held accountable, listen to wisdom.  I hope some people will care enough to lovingly tell me when I am wrong.  In fact I want that!  When it is done in love and with a genuine heart to help me – it is amazing!

It is possible to voice your beliefs without harming others!


And before you think, well I never curse or say hateful things, I’m still talking to you.  If you make judgments about people (we all do it!) and then voice your opinions based on those judgments then this applies to you as well.  If you have ever left a comment on Facebook mentioning what the Duggars think of women or called someone legalistic or claimed you know what anyone else thinks…you need to step back and examine your motives and look for truth.

I do understand hating someone.  I struggle with it just like anyone else. Those who have sought to destroy our family instead of talking with us in love make it very difficult to live out what God tells me to do.  I see their posts all over social media rejoicing because of my suffering and it’s so painful.  But again, there is help for me.  I run to the Word and what do I see there… and comfort and a father who hurts when I hurt.  He gives me so. much. joy!  I can’t help but get beyond my pain and see what’s on the other side of the hate.

There awaits forgiveness.  Love.  Peace.  Compassion.  Mercy.  Grace.  Lots and lots of grace.  It is there for me and it is there for you no matter who you are.

You are loved.  Believe it.  Then spread that around.  It’s not easy, but you will find something amazing when you do!

Now back to my regular, fun posts.

The Art of Forgiveness

The Art of Forgiveness

Have you struggled with being hurt by someone you trusted?  This is a great way to see how it can be used for your good!  #forgiveness #christianlove

Forgiving can be really hard to do.

But have you ever though of it as art?  Art is enchanting and art is messy and each workmanship is unique. It involves creativity and humanness and mistakes.  You can’t have a quality piece of art without a lot of trial and error and erasing and lessons.

A sculpture starts as a lump of clay.  It gets mashed and twisted and wet and cut and if I were that clay I believe I’d be hoping that part was over soon.  If I were the painter’s canvas I’d be hating the part where I am smeared with wet brushes and then have it all wiped off while the artist stared at me with concern or worse yet….sets me aside for another day.

We all want the ending….the beauty….the admiration….the high praise and worth.  But we don’t really want what it takes to get there.

And what, you may wonder, does any of this have to do with forgiveness?  Just everything!


A girl, Sue, gets hurt by a friend.  Not just “you hurt my feelings” kind of hurt, but deeply betrayed and wounded.  She is cruelly judged and without warning, the friendship is over and the betrayer has cast Sue out like a worthless piece of garbage.  Sue is shocked and devastated.  This is a wound that feels unhealable.  The betrayal shakes her to the core and threatens all of her other relationships.  How can she trust anyone else after this?  And to top it off, the betrayer continues to stab, gossip, lie and attack.  How will poor Sue ever recover?  She is devastated by someone she believed was on her side in life.  She questions her own ability to discern whether someone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
She fights the urge to hurt back.

She crawls in the corner of her bedroom (i.e. under the covers with chocolate) and licks her wounds.  She cries to herself then cries to God.  He comforts her, but it’s still so incredibly painful.  She doesn’t lose her faith.  She continues to believe what God tells her….that He will be her defender.  That she can trust Him.  But the betrayer doesn’t leave Sue alone.  Every time Sue thinks she is starting to recover another dart of her now-ex-friend comes flying toward her.  Pain all over again.
More crying.  More chocolate.

Slowly, with time, she begins to heal.  Every day she seeks comfort and every day He gives it to her.  God touches her sad, broken heart with His love and grace and one crack at a time He glues her back together.  But she is changed.  She can’t ever be the same old Sue.  She has found a place in herself that only the wounds could have shown her.  She has experienced a depth of love from God that she never needed before.  Her eyes have been opened and she has a new kind of wisdom.
This wisdom is has been gained through suffering.

The betrayer doesn’t stop and the problem stays unresolved.  But Sue is getting stronger and doesn’t fall quite so hard the next time a dart flies.  She sees it coming.  She ducks just in time for it to only graze her.  The wound is smaller.
The healing comes more quickly. 

But then, the hardest part is yet to come.  Forgiving the betrayer.  Wishing good things for this now-ex-friend who claims to be so grateful for God’s grace but stabs people in the back, is going to be the hardest part of the healing.
Sue isn’t sure if she can do it, but she has come this far. 

She must keep going.

Let’s stop here for a minute.  This story could be about any of us.  We have all been deeply wounded at some point.  By a friend, a spouse, a child, a pastor, a parent.  Recovery is slow but we are His clay, we are His canvas.  The splats and messes and manipulating of the materials….the pounding of the chisel, that is painful!  We can’t become a masterpiece without it.  We can’t have genuine wisdom without having suffered, and wounds from a loved one are the worst kind of suffering.  Give me a broken leg over a broken heart any day!

But we can’t stop at enduring the suffering and coming away with wisdom and joy.  We can’t just pick up our chocolate and go home…we would miss the best part!  The part that is so glorious and gorgeous that it is not even imaginable to us while we are being pounded.

God’s magnificent creation!  That piece of art that only the final, finishing touches can accomplish.

The Forgiveness.

Sue, bit by bit and moment by moment, forgives her betrayer.  Somewhere along the way she decided that each time the bitterness wells up or the pain sears through her heart, she will release it.  She will, even though at first she doesn’t want to, pray for the betrayer and for all of those who took the betrayer’s side.  Those who sent their own darts of ignorant judgment and added to the misery.  Those who believed the betrayer out of their own weakness…..she will pray for their peace.
She will ask for God to heal them too. 

As she makes the shift from hurt to healed, she begins to see bits of her own part in the problem, ways she contributed.  She asks Him to forgive her as well.  She sees her imperfections and lays them at His feet.  “Take my weakness Lord, use them for your glory,” she cries.  She continues to work daily to forgive both herself and her perceived-enemies.

It isn’t instant.  Sue falls back sometimes.  Like the artist who doesn’t quite like the angle of the lines, she has to occasionally erase and try again.  But as she slowly matures and changes, she can see the beauty emerging.  She begins to see how the pain of the situation has shaped her.  When the betrayer lashes out with more accusations, Sue quietly slips back and sadly prays again for the now-ex-friend; half of her sadness stems from the betrayers not knowing how hard Sue is working to give love in return for the hate.  If only the betrayer could see Sue’s heart, but she knows that can’t happen.
More growth.  More lessons.

Others begin to notice the difference in Sue.  Someone tells her how they saw the whole thing from afar….they watched the art being created and are inspired by the beauty of what she is becoming.  Another person tells her how blessed they have been by her gentleness with the situation.  It gives her strength.

She continues to allow herself to be shaped, the forgiveness continues to become easier and easier as she lets it go each time….refusing to let the bitterness have her.  Never giving in to the temptation to hurt back.  Every time she releases the hurt she can feel the shift in who she is.  Sue becomes a woman after God’s own heart.  It is slow, years of pain and trial and error.  But she eventually becomes a work of art, chipped away and shaped into something she could not have created on her own 

She is refined into a work of art so grand, so breathtaking, that she is amazed herself. 

Look what God did!!!


Each with our own betrayal stories, we know that the betrayer might stay the same.  The darts may keep flying.  And certainly there will be more betrayals down the road.  More heartbreak.  But if we allow it to become a work of art, being shaped in God’s hands, then He promises to use it for our good and His glory.

If you are dealing with a betrayer in your life, I want to encourage you to see it as a forming masterpiece in you!  We are each as unique as the snowflakes and I don’t know how you should handle specific situations.  But I do know that even if nothing around you changes and if darts are flying all around your head (believe me…I understand that!) that inside of you there is indescribable beauty being created!  Give it to God and let Him turn you into something that shines with His glory and radiates His love.

Here are a few books that have helped me through my own story of betrayal and hurt:

1. Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts by Ann Graham Lotz
2. Between a  Rock and a Grace Place: Divine Surprises in the Tight Spots of Life by Carol Kent
3. Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
4. Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall
5. Surviving One Bad Year: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning by Nancie Carmichael

(these are affiliate links)


Is My Inadequacy Showing?

Is My Inadequacy Showing?

Have you ever seen the show “Extreme Couponing”?  I watched it last week and by the end I was feeling pretty inadequate.  I don’t use coupons at the grocery store.  And I definitely don’t ever triple anything and get money BACK for buying 25 tubes of toothpaste.

Holy Cow!

It started me thinking of other areas in my life where I tend to get insecure when I see how well someone else is doing.  I look at people’s houses on Pinterest and I’m all, “I’m just glad my place is clean” – “ish”.  And I’ll never have a body like Sofia Vergara.  No matter how much TTapp I do, it’s not in my future to be a bombshell.

I guess I could grab hold of some coupons and start trying to do better with my grocery budget.  I could also try to figure out how to build a spaceship, but they seem equally challenging to me.  I don’t have the gift.

And you know what?  It’s OK.

Now, before you start telling me how EASY couponing is, let me tell you….I have tried.  I am not saying I can’t do it.  I am saying it is not easy for me.  So it would take me a gobton of extra effort and energy and frankly, it is not how I want to spend my time.

Inadequate?  Or evil genius?  Mwahahaha!

We can’t all be good at everything.  Anyway, I’ve got some pretty great stuff going on in my life and I’m willing to bet you do too.  In fact, I KNOW you do because God says that He will use everything in our lives for our good.  There.  Why feel inadequate when I’ve got all that goin’ on?!


But I don’t think I’ll be watching any more shows about people getting $2000 worth of groceries for 99¢.  I just don’t need to know that someone is out there doing that.  I’ll stick to my new favorite channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which frankly has made my life complete.  I could literally watch Matlock, Columbo and Diagnosis Murder all day long if I wanted to.

Who’s inadequate NOW, huh?!

Have a great weekend!


Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

I keep thinking lately about what it means to take responsibility for our actions.

When we blame others for our choices, it not only keeps us from maturing and growing in areas we need to, but it hinders having whole, healthy relationships.

If I try to deceive you, then say I had to do it because of something you did……I am basically letting someone else make my choices.  And it is a choice.  I CHOOSE to lie or not.  No one makes me.  And if I blame you, then you can never really trust me.  Our relationship becomes broken and trust is very difficult to repair.

It is not always easy to be honest with people, but honesty is about who you are, not who the other person is.  Either you are honest….or you’re not.  It has nothing to do with what anyone else does.  I picture myself standing before God when I die and He says, “Why did you tell that lie?”  Will I answer, “I had to God!  She is so hard to talk to!”  No…..that won’t fly with Him….he sees what is in my deepest heart and there will be no point in trying to hide the truth from Him.


“Therefore, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Romans 14:12

It’s not just about honesty, there are plenty of ways we can create a problem then blame someone else.  No one makes us gossip, be rude, swear, hate, lash out, lie, or slander.  Your kids don’t make you yell, your husband doesn’t make you nag, the car tailgating you doesn’t give you road rage.

Let’s be real….we all mess up occasionally.  We are human!  I recently found myself gossiping about a friend.  I stopped and repented to the person I was talking to and then called my friend to confess, apologize and ask forgiveness.  Yes, she had done something really difficult for me to handle and I was struggling with how to deal with it.  But when I was asking for advice, my description of her actions went too far.  I could feel myself crossing the line.  Ugh!

When you do something that deep inside you know you shouldn’t, apologize and take responsibility.  I don’t get to blame my friend for being too difficult to talk to directly.  I chose that.  And I now choose to turn from the fear of being wrong and challenge myself to be a person who faces hard things and doesn’t use excuses for bad behavior.

“Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” Proverbs 10:23

We choose who we will be, not based on how people treat us or what they tell us we are, but on our own decisions based on God’s Word.  God says that if I do foolish things, I am a fool.  Not, unless someone provokes you then it’s OK.

But the good news is that I can always turn that around!  I am not stuck and I don’t have to wait for anyone else to change before I can become wise or truthful or righteous.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” Matthew 12:36

What is so amazing is that God built in natural discipline when we take responsibility instead of blaming others.  The pain of having to fess up and repent will stick with me and I will not likely gossip again any time soon.  But if I never apologized and decided that it was OK because she was too hard to deal with, then I would undoubtedly slip further and further down that slippery slope until no one would be able to trust me and I would never understand why.

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for them.”  Proverbs 26:12

When I let my husband know that my nagging is my own struggle and don’t give him excuses for it, he can trust me not to get offended the next time he feels like he needs to point out that I am being overly critical.  I want him to trust me.  Wherever I am contributing to our problems, I want to change myself no matter what he does.

So, who do you want to be?  Someone who is stuck because of how other people treat you?  Or someone who can have victory in any circumstance?

If you choose truth, in my experience even if you are humble, there will be people who won’t want that kind of relationship.  They will leave.  They can’t take the pressure that comes from being responsible for their own decisions, so they flee.  It’s sad and painful, but in the same way that you are responsible for your choices, they are responsible for theirs.  Don’t let it stop you from saying yes to Christ and no to sin.

A post about taking responsibility for your own actions and not blaming others.  It will encourage you that you aren't a victim!

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

I am going to continue to challenge myself to pay close attention and when I sense that I am crossing a line….stop and take responsibility instead of making excuses.  I have no doubt this will bring up some hard lessons for me.  While I have made it my goal to be honoring to God’s Word, if I am not purposefully listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit I can tend to let little things pass and before I know it they can turn into big issues.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I will be praying for you also…..we need all the help we can get to walk this road of humanness.  Once we see where we need to make changes, there is grace waiting for us and mercy to see ourselves for who we are…..sinners saved by grace for His works.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10

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Moms Need a Night Off!

Moms Need a Night Off!

This week’s YouTube video is about a subject near and dear to my heart….taking a break!

I have shared this with many groups when I speak and I always get a food of emails afterward asking me questions about how it works.  I go into some of it in the video and in this older post, but I want to answer a few more questions.


Q: How do you get your husband to agree?
A: You shouldn’t try to manipulate him, but simply lay out the idea.  The more you can make it easy for him the better it will work.  We don’t want to overwhelm the poor guy.  Have the house cleaned up and the kids in a good mood.  Don’t try to control what happens while you’re gone…this is their time.  When you get home, don’t complain if it’s messy or he did something “wrong”.

Q: But I don’t trust anyone else to take care of my kids.
A: Mom, your kids will be fine for a few hours without you.  In fact….it is GOOD for them and for Dad to spend time together without you.  Ask God to help you let go of trying to control everything.  It’s not healthy!  To quote the most annoying song of 2014, “Let it go!  Let it go!….”

Q: What if I have a nursing baby?
A: Sometimes I would take the baby with me, sometimes I would nurse then leave for a couple of hours, sometimes I would stay home and lock myself in my bedroom.  You can still get a break when you’re nursing.  In fact, I remember several times I used my night off to SLEEP!

Q: My kids won’t leave me alone in my room!
A: You can teach your kids not to bother you when you need a break.  The trick is not to answer them when they call or give in to their manipulation.  Your husband (or whoever is helping) is perfectly capable of taking care of that they need.  You could even practice it for 10 minutes during the day for a week or so to make sure they get the concept.

Q: What kinds of things do you do?
A: Honestly, my favorite thing is to go in my bathroom and have time for personal care.  I scrub my face, straighten the bathroom and bedroom, clip my fingernails, condition my hair, etc.  That is how my bathroom stays clean and I get my grooming time in.  I listen to praise music or podcasts and get my soul taken care of at the same time.


All moms need a break and this is a great post with tons of encouragement and ideas!

If you have other questions leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help!