Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Enjoy The Holidays When You're Strapped for Cash

No $$$ for Christmas? I feel you, believe me. I know that our personal financial troubles have not been the worst of the worst, but there have been Decembers-past that were extremely difficult. And after we had children, the pressure and emotions of the situation increased dramatically.

In our consumer-based society, we feel guilty and ashamed if we are not able to provide a dream Christmas for our children. You feel somehow less of a person if there are no gifts - or even some years, no tree.

Well, let me give you a few pointers to help you get over the consumerism of Christmas and to lead your family - no matter what your situation - on the trail of Christmas joy.

1. Lighten up.

Many people in many countries are going through struggles that match yours - and millions far worse. Quit strapping on the burden of guilt and shame. Quit condemning yourself.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus..." Rom. 8:1

2. Look around.

Make time to really take in the family who surrounds you. Look at your children, your spouse - or if you are single, look at the people God has placed in your life who love you. Family is HUGE. All families have issues and problems, but there's nothing like the love and support of a family to keep you moving forward.

"God sets the lonely in families..." Ps. 68:6a

3. Focus on what matters.

Rally your troops around the things that truly matter - Jesus, the celebration of His birth, loving each other, blessing people, sharing Jesus' love and forgiveness with others.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matt. 22:37-40

4. Use what you have.

Fancy meals out of the question? Then use what you have. You can make a food pantry menu look festive if you use a little creativity. Scrounge up some loose change from somewhere and get a bag of marshmallows to add into your fruit-cocktail-out-of-a-can. Find the half-used candles you stashed somewhere and light those puppies up to cast a glow on your beans and cornbread! And decorations? Make 'em. You know you learned how to cut paper snowflakes in elementary school. You can make a paper chains and string popcorn...or use leaves and berries you find outside in fun, unusual ways. Use your knowledge, experience and creativity to make the time together special. You're equipped for this - you can do it!

"‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’" Matt. 25:21

5. Bless other people.

One of the best ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to love and serve other people. There will always be someone worse off than you are. Find them and love on them! Find a family who needs the clothes your children have outgrown and do a Secret Santa drop. Go serve in a shelter in your town. Volunteer in your church to do something - even picking up trash or something very menial. When you force your focus on giving rather than your lack of receiving, your heart will change...and then your outlook will change, too.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" Matt. 25:34-40

6. Be thankful.

A heart filled with gratitude is as rich as a person will ever be. If you can push aside the heaviness and sadness for just a brief moment and begin to identify things you are thankful for...then you're switching on the light inside you. Ask God to put the seeds of gratitude in your heart and then take initiative to make them grow. Nurture those seeds with the Light of Jesus' presence and the Rain of the Holy Spirit in your life. Once you start doing that, it will get easier and easier to let thankfulness roll off your tongue. Where bitterness and negativity used to be, you'll find grace and thanks. I had to train myself to think this way, and then I began to feel this way. I would make a list of things I was thankful for. It started out with the usual things: my family, my job, my car, my church, my friends...but as I exercised those muscles, I started seeing SO many things I was thankful for! How the Lord protected me that day in a certain situation, how He blessed me with exactly enough gas money to get me through until we got paid again, the fun time I had with my kids. And THEN, I started prophetically thanking God for things that hadn't even happened yet! Thanking God for the work he was bringing Tim (when we had no jobs on the books), for the new car God would bless us with (when we had one beater car that we shared), for the money to pay our electric bill that was past due (and we had overdrawn our checking account). Amazingly, when I would prophetically (speak truth into the situation before anything was happening) thank God for His goodness and provision in our lives, we saw it happen! Thankfulness is key - and you can be thankful no matter what your financial status is.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Col. 2:6-7

If you'll try some of these things, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can enjoy Christmas - even though you're not spending excessive amounts of money on toys. And once you've started leading your family down this road, you'll be so glad you did.

I pray that Emmanuel is with you and will fill your hearts, home and family with His love! Christmas blessings to you!


Monday, December 6, 2010

And the winner is...

ACTUALLY, the winnerS are:

1. commenter "jenniferarb"

2. commenter "Keepin' Up with the Joneses" (Jenny, I know this is you)

Congrats! Please send me an email with your mailing address and I'll get your CD in the mail to you this week! cristaashworth@yahoo.com

And thanks to everyone who read my very first CD review and reposted on your own personal pages. You can still get the free song download by clicking on the link in the review, and you can still use the coupon code DISHESANDDIAPERS to get 20% off your order in the Seeds store: www.seedsmusicstore.com.

I hope you'll check back often and even subscribe to my blog - sometimes I have some good stuff to pass along!


CD Drawing

Hey! Just a quick update: the drawing for the free CD is actually going to happen today...sorry for the delay! I'll post the winner sometime this afternoon. Hope it's you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just FYI...

Hey Baby Mamas! (and all the rest of you, too)

Just to let you know, I'm also writing on Destiny In Bloom occasionally! If you haven't had a chance to check it out, please do! www.destinyinbloom.com I have an article/story up today!

And, there's still a day or so left to enter for the drawing of the free Seeds Family Worship CD...


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Your Word I have hidden in my heart....

As a mom, one of my biggest desires is to plant the Word of God deep in my children's hearts. From my own journey, I KNOW that God's Word contained in Scripture breathes life into my soul - and I want that for my kids!

So, on my quest to find vehicles that will help me accomplish this goal, I have tried listening to many a Scripture CD with Bible verses set to music. Unfortunately, I have usually ended up chucking them or trying to sell them for a quarter at my garage sales. (My musician background just won't let me listen to poorly crafted or lamely executed songs - ESPECIALLY when it is supposed to be something about the Lord!) But now, my CD chucking days are over!

I started hearing about Seeds Family Worship about a year ago from my friend Michelle's posts on Facebook...and then my sister in law, Holly was raving about them this summer. But a couple of months ago, I began to listen to what they actually do. They are AWESOME!!! I just finished listening to their first CD called Seeds of Courage and I wanted to give a little "review" of the album and encourage you to check it out!

Seeds of Courage by Seeds Family Worship
(be sure to read all the way to the end....there's a giveaway!)

This CD has twelve short, catchy songs on it, and I can honestly say I didn't hate any of them! Isn't that terrible?! But, this is truly the first Scripture song CD that I have ever liked and would recommend to anyone. Things I like about it? The styles of music they use range from pop-country to a nod at rockabilly to folk-rock. They are largely guitar-driven, so they are upbeat and accessible. They use real worship leaders as the lead vocalists and add children's voices in different spots. One of the best things is that the songs actually feel like songs - a "hook", a chorus, an A-secton and B-section, etc. There was musical ability used to craft these songs, and therefore you don't feel awkward when you sit down and listen or try to sing them. Then, since a strong musical framework is there, you can really get the message of the Bible verse they are putting on display. I truly applaud them as musicians because they have created a musically intelligent medium that doesn't insult the Scripture! Great job, Seeds people!

My favorite songs on the album are the first one - "Call to Me", the text from Jeremiah 33:3 - and number eight, "Never Be Shaken", using Psalm 62:1-2. Those are my favorites partially because those two verses are special to me, but also because the marriage of the music and the words seems to hit my heart in a profoundly meaningful way.

This CD is quickly rising into high rotation around our house...and I know that before too long my kids will know every word. And THAT is gold to me!

Please check out the Seeds website and find out more about them. I am so very impressed with what they do and who they are. Besides their five CD's (and a new sixth one coming soon), they offer a monthly newsletter, Youtube videos to aid in your own family's worship experience, suggestions for family worship activities at home and so much more. Oh, and lest I forget, one of the coolest things about Seeds is that each CD you buy is actually TWO CD's! One for you and one to give to someone else!

...and about that new CD...their newest album Seeds of Character is available for pre-order beginning December 1! You can find out more info here: Seeds of Character

Because you are all so kind to read my blog...and because the Seeds folks are so cool...I have a link for a free song download: click here ....AND, a CD to give away! If you want to be entered into the drawing for the CD*, leave me a comment! That'll get you one entry, but if you want another, share this blog post online by using the buttons at the bottom, and let me know in your comment that you have done it. (Jesus is watching you.)

And, since EVERYONE needs Seeds Family Worship in your home, all my readers can get 20% off your order in the Seeds store by using this code: DISHESANDDIAPERS

Thanks for taking time to read about Seeds - I hope you enjoy the music as much as I do. And I hope that the seeds of God's Word will be planted and watered in the hearts of every person in your home!

(the drawing for the CD will take place on December 5 and the winner will be posted here on the blog)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Practical Practicalness from Mrs. Practicality

Haha! I KNOW that "practicalness" is not really a word...but it just had a ring to it...

Seriously, though, I have been thinking about a handful of practical tips that have made such a difference in my home. I decided to break away from the normal perspective-shifting diatribe and venture into the land of all things domestic! So, here are my 5 all-time best "practical tips":

1. White vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil can clean pretty much everything in your home.

I use white vinegar to mop my laminate and tile floors, run it through my dishwasher on occasion and have used it to soften calcium build-up in my bathtub and shower. Baking soda has removed many a foul stench from my home and car - it can even soak up vomit and remove the smell! Tea tree oil, although more expensive than vinegar or baking soda, is a very effective cleaner and also has topical medicinal benefits. I have used it several times to help deep bruises disappear - it's amazing! Aaaaaaaand...all three substances are safe and nontoxic alternatives to chemical cleaners. Click the highlighted words to find out more...

2. Probiotics.

After my son had his second ear infection as an infant, I decided to get down and dirty with the war against germs and bacteria. I marched myself into the health food store and asked what I should do...and came home with a few wonderful products that have made all the difference in my children's health. One of which is powdered probiotics. There are several brands, and different strengths/doses for children and adults. I just put 1/4 tsp. of the powder into my son's milk every morning and he hasn't had a significant cough or cold in at least two years! It is always wise to get advice from health professionals when introducing something new into your diet or your children's diets, but I HIGHLY recommend probiotics to keep everyone healthy. (this is the one I use)

3. Establish a "per-meal price" when meal-planning.

As you get a grasp on feeding your family, regardless of the number of mouths, it helps to set a cap on what you can or want to spend per meal. As I plan our family's meals and make my grocery list, I try to make sure the average price of each dinner is at $5. Doesn't sound like much, I know. But a little creativity and humility can make all the difference in the bottom line of the grocery money. A few nights a week, we will eat for SUPER cheap: rice and beans, spaghetti, pancakes and eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Those meals for my family of four (actually three, since Graham doesn't eat) cost us $2 or $3. Then, I can choose a couple of meals that are the highlights: steak and baked potatoes with a yummy salad, or fish and fancy veggies, etc. You will have to adjust the per-meal amount for your own family, but I think it is a great way to get a handle on what you spend and the meals you plan.

4. Set achievable goals and offer rewards.

You can do this for your children and even for yourself and your spouse. Have specific things laid out to accomplish - whether it be daily responsibilities or specific projects - and designate an appropriate reward when that task has been completed. Both of my children, ages 6 and 3, respond extremely well to "putting stickers on their charts" when they have done what I asked them to do. Once they fill up a certain amount, they get the carrot I have been dangling in front of them as motivation. My daughter has a couple of expensive toys on her most-wanted list, so when she reaches 100 stickers for doing homework with a good attitude, I will probably be taking her to the American Girl Store... If you need motivation to get something done, set a time limit and decide what you will give yourself as a reward - it could be anything! A Dr. Pepper, extra time to yourself, a new pair of earrings, a nap. (A nap is GOLD in my book!) Rewards are the spoonfuls of sugar that help the medicine go down!

5. Pray first.

This is my trump card. Before you pick up the phone to call your mom, your best friend or your husband to tell them what just happened, pray. As you are trying to figure out how to get your baby to stop crying and go back to sleep, pray. When you have taken a serious emotional hit, pray. When you need to make a decision, pray. When you want to buy something, pray. When you are overjoyed, pray. When you have won, pray. When you have lost, pray. You see, prayer is not some religious ritual that must be checked off your list. Prayer is your lifeline to God. It is conversing with Him, connecting with Him and hearing Him. His voice is the most important one to speak into your life. His thoughts about you are the thoughts that matter most. He has all the answers and He loves you so much more than you can even imagine. He is just waiting for you to pick up the other end of the line. This is the most practical thing I could ever pass on to anyone.

And there it is, folks. The Fab Five. Take 'em or leave 'em, but I pray you are blessed going in and blessed going out...and that everything you set your hands to will prosper!

Monday, October 11, 2010


If you have been in church for a while, I'm almost sure you have heard the phrase, "guard your heart." It is a good phrase. It is in the Bible. But, for some reason, we nod at it and agree mentally while having no understanding (revelation) of how to actually do it. We assume that guarding our hearts means building up a wall around our emotions and not letting anyone proceed past a certain point. Or, we assume that the wall must keep our own emotions tucked safely inside so we can't reach out too far and get hurt.

Guarding your heart is much more than constructing a fortress. Guarding your heart is stewarding the place where life springs up in you. Proverbs 4:23 is the famous verse on the subject - read it in a few different versions:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (NIV)

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." (NKJV)

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (NLT)

"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." (Amplified)

"Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts." (MSG)

God puts great emphasis on your heart. The core of who you are. When you make the decision to follow Jesus or when you have a salvation encounter with Him, we say that you are "giving Him your heart" - that He comes to "live in your heart." The Scripture equates our beings to the Temple - instead of a Temple made of stone and wood, we are living, breathing Temples where the Holy Spirit dwells - the Holy of Holies being in our hearts. Your heart is the most sacred place, the innermost "room" where you meet with Holy God. Pretty amazing.

I just read Waking the Dead by John Eldredge - a MUST READ - and he discusses a whole lot about the heart. He points out that we have believed so many lies from the enemy about who we are - foundationally, that our hearts are bad. We tend to mentally believe that yes, we have been saved from our sins, but we struggle every day with ourselves because we must curb our bad behavior because we are bad people. Our tendencies are bad, our responses are bad, our thoughts are bad...yadda, yadda, yadda. Newsflash: those are lies.

When you have a transforming encounter with God where you give Him your heart, He permanently removes the old one and replaces it with a perfect one. He cleanses you with Jesus' blood. He comes to live inside you IN YOUR HEART. You are a new creation - not the same person as when you woke up that morning. God talks about this heart exchange in Scripture:

"...I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 11:19b

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Basically, what John Eldredge takes several chapters to unravel is that, once you have given your heart to God, your heart is good. God changes you, transforms you and gives you a "heart transplant" so that you are no longer sinful in your core. You are living out of a spring of GOODness that God placed in you. Good things coming out of a good heart is your new normal. That sheds a completely different light on things, wouldn't you say? And that gives us all the more reason to guard it.

So, with all that foundation laid, how the heck do we do this heart-guarding business?! Well, I learned something new from Pastor Lynda Grove a while back when she was talking on this subject. She took us to Song of Solomon chapter 2, where the Lover (Jesus) calls to his beloved (you) to come meet him in the vineyard/garden. And then he says this: "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." (S. of S. 2:15) Your heart - your intimate meeting place with God - is likened to a garden or a vineyard. And Jesus calls you to come and meet Him there. He is the Lover of your soul and he yearns to be with you. The meeting place is important. He can't truly have all your attention and affection if you are distracted by your surroundings. So, He gave instruction to "catch the little foxes...that ruin the vineyards..." so that your meeting would be unhindered. A vineyard back then would have had a fence around it to keep most animals out, but the little ones...those are the sneaky little buggers who caused trouble. What did the vineyard owners to do about the little foxes, then? They tied a string of little clay pots together and hung them at the end of each row. When the wind blew, the pots would clank together and scare away any animal who was able to sneak in. The pots made a loud noise and frightened away the enemy.

That rings of something spiritual... For most of us, we're not battling big giants on a daily basis. We're battling the little, pesky problems that seem to come in and wreck everything. Annoying family members, money issues, lack of sleep, potty training.... So how do we chase those things out of our hearts? Clank some clay pots together - or, rather, do some praising! Clap your hands! Stomp your feet! Shout, sing, dance and praise your God! Praise will scatter your enemies - and no little "foxes" can stay around because they are SCARED!

There have been many, MANY times when it seemed like I was banging my head against the proverbial wall, and I had to drop everything to purposefully praise God. My kids would be screaming, my bank account would be overdrawn, my mind would be in chaos, but I knew that if I could begin to praise God that He could bring order to my world. You see, when you praise Him, He comes to sit down with you. Your Big God shows up in His glory - and sketchy little things can't stay in the room with that.

Here's the tricky part: once you're in the heat of the battle and you feel like the stinkin' little foxes are attacking from every side, you're not going to feel like opening your mouth to praise. No, not one little bit. But you need to shove your feelings aside and do it anyway. Would you rather continue in the torture? Just force out SOMETHING to declare His praises - and you'll find that the vice-grip around your neck loosens just a bit. So, then you take a deep breath and shout out or sing out your praises! And pretty soon, you'll find that you're face to face with sweet Daddy God and everything else has melted away.

Guard that precious heart of yours - the new heart that God have you in exchange for the old one. Guard it fiercely with praises to the King. As long as you are declaring His goodness, faithfulness, beauty, grace, and so much more, little creepers can't find a place to get any good bites!

So, my friends, let's SING! SING! SING! Again, with the Chris Tomlin, I know! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

And if our God is for us...

The more I follow Jesus, the easier it becomes for me to see past the natural fabric of the world in front of my eyes and see into what's really going on.

I think we could all agree that there is a struggle between good and evil going on around us. We sense it in our government, in our cities, in our relationships, pretty much everywhere. Most of the time, people dismiss it and continue on in their own comfort levels in their own little bubbles of existence. It's so much easier not to care.

I just finished reading Waking the Dead by John Eldredge - whew! Amazing revelation for me! I totally recommend it! Hang through the first chunk of the book and then it gets reeeeally good. Anyway, in Waking the Dead, he uses many movie/book references that take us to a deep place in our hearts regarding the battle between good and evil, life and death. Is it any wonder why the movies and books that resonate with us so deeply are the epics that portray the triumph of good over evil? He uses movies like The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to express what is already written in the base code of our hearts.

One of my favorite quotes he uses is from The Two Towers when Aragorn was trying to persuade the king of the region to arm up for battle. Here's a quick excerpt of the book Waking the Dead, chapter 10 Setting Hearts Free:

"In the second film of The Lord of the Rings trilogy - The Two Towers - there is a king who is reluctant to go to war. Theoden, lord of the horse warriors of Rohan, is fearful and timid. An army is marching through his lands, an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men. Villages fall; women and children are slain. Still Theoden balks: 'I will not risk open war.' 'Open war is upon you, ' says Aragorn, 'whether you would risk it or not.' As I watched this scene I could not help thinking of the church. It made me so sad. I love the Bride of Christ. I hate to see her captive an any way. The primary reason most people do not know the freedom and life Christ promised is that they won't fight for it, or they have been told not to fight for it. Friends, we are now in the midst of an epic battle, a brutal and vicious war against an Enemy who knows his time is short. Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not."

Now, I loved all the Lord of the Rings books and movies, but I have never dissected them so intricately as that! And what a true parallel from that story into our reality. We can hide out and pretend like everything is good and easy all the time, but that doesn't mean the armies of hell aren't on our doorstep.

It is HIGH TIME for us to be sober and vigilant, just like we have been instructed in Scripture!

Can people get carried away by weirdness? Yes. Can Christians be too preoccupied with demons? Yes. Are those reasons enough to exempt yourself from the battle? No. In my growing up years, I fell into a camp of believers who didn't have much revelation into the working of the Holy Spirit. We were fearful of things in "the charismatic" portion of the Church. We only saw the crazies and the spiritual abusers who displayed strange weirdness and called it the Holy Spirit. We knew we didn't want any of that. But, as I continued on with Jesus, He introduced me to the Holy Spirit so that I could know Him for myself. I came to see the Scripture with spiritual eyes and not the eyes of my religious background. Jesus illuminated the truth about the Holy Spirit to me, and I knew that I needed to remove some wrong thinking and get His thinking.

As I surrendered my whole self to the Holy Spirit, He was faithful to fill me up and ignite His power in me. I'm growing in it, for sure, but I cannot imagine trying to navigate life without it now. (Because I have been made aware of the raging battle that is going on all around us!) We can't expect to make a dent in the darkness without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

To some of you, the thought of demons or evil spirits sends shivers up your spine. You don't think you can handle even the topic for very long. But, in reality, God has already triumphed over evil. Jesus crushed Satan's head when he died on the cross and made a way for humanity to be reconnected to God. The only reason Satan and his minions can seem scary is because we are fooled into taking our eyes off the Victorious One. When you sense or look at evil, it's ugly! You were not created to be a part of evil. You were created to shine the light of God from within you and have dominion on this earth. Satan has craftily confused us into thinking that we're victims and that we are weak and helpless and worthless. My friend, IF YOU ONLY KNEW who you truly are.

Ask God right now, "Who am I, truly?" And wait until you hear Him. He will tell you.

If you aren't getting anything, then wrestle it through with God. Don't just walk away and let it go. It is imperative that you know who God says you are. He's speaking - you just have to figure out how to hear His voice. (Helpful hint if you're not hearing Him: go back to your salvation experience - when you first gave your heart to Him. What was that like? Did you have a feeling in your heart? Did you hear a whisper? Remember what that was like and see if you can hear/experience His voice right now in that same way.)

Dear, precious daughter of the Most High God, you are regal and anointed. You are strong and mighty and the power of the Holy Spirit can flow through you to push back the gates of hell in any area of your life where you sense it is pushing in on you. It's time to arm up and get in the battle. War for your husband and children! War for your friends! War for your freedom! War for the Kingdom of God to be established everywhere you walk! You can't lose.

One of my favorite songs right now that helps me keep my eyes on the Victorious One:


Monday, September 6, 2010

How To Lose a Husband In 10 Days

I'm sure to some of you this might sound appealing...but, it's not what you think...

Several years ago, there was a chick-flick out called "How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days" that had Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in it. Cute, funny and ridiculous, but good for a girly laugh. Well, when you're young and single, playing around with love can be kind of a game, if you're not careful. Then, you find the man who sweeps you off your feet (or not) and you get married. Here you are, in wedded bliss, when all of a sudden, he does something that irks you to high heaven. You discover, slowly, that this man annoys you with his every waking breath! What happened to the fun, attractive guy you fell for?

Honey, life sets in. You each start thinking more about yourselves than you do the other...and that never adds up to a good relationship. The movie "How to Lose a Guy..." showed all the crazy ways Kate Hudson would irk Matthew McConaughey...but in reality, it only takes one repeated thing to push your husband away from you: dishonor. Women don't really get the honor/respect thing and why husbands need it. But it doesn't even matter if you understand it - your husband needs it to survive! God wired men with a primary, driving need for honor/respect, just like He wired you with a primary, driving need for love/security. What wife in her right mind would want to deprive her husband of the solution to his most basic need? Would you stop feeding him or cut off his water supply? (Some of you might have just answered "yes" and we'll talk about that topic another day...)

So many times we wives express DIShonor to our husbands in the way we say something. You can even be saying something true and necessary, but if you say it in the wrong tone, your husband hears, "I think you are worthless. You disgust me." You can convey dishonor by your body language, your tone, your facial expressions...it's something we just don't normally have on our radars! But, it's time to start paying attention, girls.

I assume that you do NOT want to lose your husband in 10 days... And if that's the case, then I challenge you - I double-dog dare you - to start evaluating how your words, tone and body language come across to your husband. Do you say things that let him know how much you value and appreciate him? Do you praise him to his face? Do you brag about him in front of others? If not, then start. Even if you feel like your husband is not deserving of respect or honor, find something to honor him for. He's still with you...he takes out the trash...he loves his children...SOMETHING! Conveying honor and respect for your husband breathes LIFE into him as a man. And when a man feels honored by his wife, he responds in love - the very thing you dream of.

It's so wonderful that we can rely on the Holy Spirit's power in us to make it through life! Some days, it's all I can do to muster up any kind words at all. But, with the power of the Holy Spirit inside me, I can take my sour attitude and trade it in for a sweet, fun demeanor in a mili-second. If you're struggling with showing honor for your husband - or even if you're struggling just to like him very much anymore - pray this with me:

Lord, I thank You for the man You brought into my life to be my husband. I know that he is not a perfect man and I am not a perfect woman. I confess my extreme need for You, Lord, in my marriage. I offer my marriage back to You and ask You to call the shots. Put love in my heart for my husband. Put honor and respect in my heart for my husband. Help me to speak honor to him so that he can feel fulfilled in our home. Show me the moments and give me the words, Lord. Speak through me and help me be the wife my husband needs. And, as I surrender to Your ways, Lord, I pray that You would heal the wounds in my heart and heal the wounds in our marriage. Thank You that nothing is too hard for You, God. I trust You! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Here are some resources that have tremendously helped me in my own marriage:

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggrichs

Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans


I pray blessings over your marriage right now - let the Holy Spirit teach you how to be the wife your husband needs and that God has always intended for you to be!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Plethora of Reasons Why All You BabyMamas Should "Get in a Group"

At my church (Gateway Church), we call our small groups "life groups" or "Gateway Groups." Small groups - as it were - seem to be a fad that has overtaken the modern church-going experience, to the chagrin of some. But, have you ever read books in the Bible like Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corninthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians...and the list goes on? The Church - or body of those who follow Jesus - have met together in small groups in people's homes since the beginning of Christianity. It's not a new concept, for sure, but it is a vital one.

Jesus' profound summation of the Law and the Prophets (all the Scripture back in Jesus' day) was to 1) Love God, and 2) Love others. It's not enough to just love God. Jesus said it! If you want to experience life the way God intended, then you must risk opening yourself up to others and reaching out to love them. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that you will be embraced and loved as well.

"But I have tried a small group before at church and I felt left out." Or, "I don't know anyone in the group." Or, "What if nobody talks to me?" Or, "What if I wear the wrong thing?"

Let me give you as many reasons as I can think of why YOU should get over yourself and find a group:

1. Sometimes, your attendance at a group is not really about you.
2. Sometimes, stepping out is an act of faith and obedience to God.
3. You might make some new friends.
4. You might hear God speak to you.
5. You might learn something new.
6. You might eat yummy food.
7. You might have fun.
8. You might win a prize!
9. You might make someone's day.
10. You might find a place to serve that you never imagined would have fit you so well.
11. You could leave your nursing bra hooked up for an extended period of time.
12. Other adults will be present for some adult conversation.
13. If you take your child(ren) to Gateway's children's classes, they will have fun and will be overwhelmingly blessed.
14. If you take your child(ren) to the children's classes, no one will be crying at you or calling you Mommy for at least 2 hours.
15. Your heart needs connection with other women.
16. You need to laugh.
17. You need to worship God with people who want to worship Him.
18. You need the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to blow over you and revive you.
19. Being part of a small group brings you an instant family of people who will support you.
20. Being part of a small group changes your whole "church" experience by allowing you to be connected instead of floating aimlessly.
21. You could swap recipes.
22. You could swap kids' clothes.
23. You could swap kids - um...er, nevermind.
24. You can be mentored by others who have gone before you on the wife/mom journey.
25. You could be the touch of Jesus' hand on someone's shoulder who so desperately needs it.
26. You could be the one who says the very words of encouragement that someone else's life may be depending upon.
27. You could be the one to call out gifts and abilities in a woman who has never known she was good at anything.
28. You could be the one to help break the chains in a woman's life.
29. You could make a difference.
30. You could be blessed.
31. Your heart could be healed.
32. Your body could be healed.
33. Your emotions could be healed.
34. You could get in on seeing others healed by God's power.
35. You can learn how to pray.
36. You can help others learn how to pray.
37. You can show off your cooking/baking skills when it's your turn to bring a snack.
38. You can wear your PJ's if you really want to. (at least in my group, you could...)
39. You can be part of a group project to help those in need - food drive, adopt a family or single mom, serve at a shelter, etc.
40. You could be the very organizer that your group needs to keep things on track!
41. You can be yourself.
42. God can change your heart.
43. God can change your marriage.
44. God can change your family.
45. You will start experiencing LIFE!

Well, I guess you wouldn't exactly call that a "plethora" - at least not up to Jefe's and El Guapo's standard of the word. But, I think that about covers it. (Read the following with an Eeyore voice) If you want to stay the same and hide in your house...and not make any new friends or hear anything new from the Holy Spirit...or eat any sopapilla cheesecake or oreo truffles...then, you probably don't have to try out a group.

Let me just say, back in the day when I deeply detested gatherings of women and I had hardened my heart to a lot of things, it was only in a women's group where the Lord got hold of me. He softened me and massaged the hardness right out of my heart and I had a complete change of heart AND mind. Today, instead of abhorring women and women's groups, I am on track to impact this generation with God's timely message of love and hope SPECIFICALLY to women. Don't tell God what He can't do. His plan for you is bigger than you and it is so exciting! So, get ovuh yoseff and GET IN A GROUP!!!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Jewel

Here I am, folding laundry in my guest room – which is actually just an extension of my laundry room these days – and I begin to catch a wave of something the Lord is saying. He is saying it to me, yes, but I believe He is really saying it to you today. Here’s what I sense He is wanting to write on your heart:

Did you know that you are my precious jewel? I know I have nicknames for you, but today, you are My Jewel. I love to watch you turn and sparkle in the setting I crafted for you. The brilliance of your uncovered heart makes Me have butterflies in My stomach. I am so proud of you and I get so excited when you discover, little by little, who you truly are. I made you strong, passionate, and fierce, yet delicate, soft and loving.

I know there are things in your life that you are frustrated with. I see them. Will you give them to Me? Your weaknesses and failures do not make Me mad at you – they actually give Me more room to fill you with My strength and grace. Will you let Me?

I think you are a great mother. You are doing a great job! Your babies are doing well in your care – and I’m right behind you, loving them and parenting them, too. Fear is just a trick to paralyze you and keep you from moving forward with Me – don’t fall for it. I’m right here.

Rest in Me. Let Me wash peace over your heart and let My words renew your mind. You are mine and I love you. Will you come away with Me? Can you feel My heart beating for you? I’m pretty wild about you, My Jewel.


I don’t know about you, but my heart flutters when I sense the Lord speaking to me like that! He is so amazing. Let Him take you on a wild adventure into His heart today! He’s waiting for you to accept His invitation…

Friday, August 6, 2010

Open Up

Knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock.


Knock, knock, knock, knock, KNOCK.

...quiet...crickets chirping...

BAM! BAM! "Hey! Open up! I know you're there!"

Have you been on the locked side of the door when you KNOW that someone is there and they can hear you knocking? And they were even expecting you? Pretty frustrating!

I just discovered that I do this with my children. Not literally, so don't call CPS just yet! I don't leave them out in the 105-degree Texas heat, banging on the door, begging for entry into their own home. No, I just do it emotionally! (like that's any better?)

My children are depending on me to radiate love and acceptance into their lives. I am their mother - the nurturing force that feeds their little souls for a short time. I am training them to open their hearts to God and to listen for His voice - so they can learn to receive His love. But right now, they mainly receive His love through the filter of my love toward them.

I find myself getting so perturbed with children hanging off of me while I'm trying to accomplish a task or complete a thought or, God-forbid, type something on the computer. I have fallen into the bad habit of raising the fortress around my own heart when my children are requesting (a.k.a. demanding) my attention. Most mornings, I'll get the kids their breakfast, get them started on a book or a project or a TV show and then run into the office to work on stuff for a few minutes. If I'm lucky, I can have about 10 minutes of quiet....and then Graham's mommy-alarm goes off. Before I know it, both kids are in the office with me, spinning in the chairs, fighting with swords, yelling, laughing, asking me hundreds of questions...and my precious moments of quiet are over.

Are there lots of solutions to this problem? Yes. Have I tried several on the list? Yes. So, if nothing is working, the problem must be more than face-value. Here's what I'm learning from this pattern: when I focus on my kids and open my heart fully to them, I am peaceful, joyful and a whole lot of fun! When I brush my kids aside and try to focus on other things - even good things like paying bills, phone conversations, writing blog entries (!) - my heart becomes impenetrable to them and they crash into the stone walls I've thrown up. My problem is not my outward behavior or choice of focus...it is the condition of my heart.

By nature, I am a very black-and-white person. If I am operating in the default setting of my black-and-white-ness, I usually end up in a pickle...and this seems to be one of them. I have unknowingly (until now) shut my kids out of my love and acceptance when I am focusing on something else. Yikes! I WANT my children to come to me with their joys and successes. I WANT them to find love flowing from me that heals them when they are hurt or fearful. I deeply desire for their growing-up years to be a time full of love and peace in our home, and a time they look back on as adults with happy memories. Tim and I want to give them every advantage in the world of emotional health so that later in life, they will not struggle with who they are or who God is.

How do I know that I have closed my heart to my children? When they are violently competing for my attention, for my approval or my love. In my 6 year old and 2 year old, it usually looks like a temper tantrum, tears, or a crestfallen countenance. I forget how fragile their little hearts are - and it breaks my heart to know that I have hurt them. I have gotten very good at saying, "I'm so sorry! Mommy isn't trying to hurt your feelings, and I am very sorry if I did that. I love you and you're my favorite little boy/girl in the whole world!"

Of course, there are times when you cannot be completely absorbed in Little Kid World. It is valuable to train your children to have play time on their own so that you CAN accomplish things. But as you train them to be a little more independent, train your heart to stay open to those precious ones that are entrusted to you. And...in parallel, God's heart is never shut off from you. He never turns His heart away from you - and He's got the longest list of responsibilities EVER! He is always available to you and His love is not meted out to you based on His agenda for the day.

Just connecting the dots now....you are made in God's image. You bear His likeness and if you have given Him your heart, then your tendencies are to be like Him. It is totally possible for us to keep our hearts open to our children!! By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we can do it!

Oh, and a side-note to all you black-and-white thinkers out there: Being black-and-white is not bad! It is the way God wired you! Being black-and-white usually goes along with the motivational gift of prophecy (found in Romans 12:6) and only gets you in trouble when you are operating on your own fuel rather than the Holy Spirit's power in you. If you have the spiritual gift of prophecy, it means that you speak out truth. That truth and justice are huge to you. Just wanted to cast a clear light on being black-and-white!

The doors of my heart are open! Bring on the little kids!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sometimes it's just the little things

Just a day or two ago, I was up to my eyeballs in frustration with my whiny children. Some days are just WHINY days for them...and I can't, for the life of me, figure out the trigger.

I had been saying the same things over and over to them that day: pick up the toys, get your junk out of the kitchen, no, I can't hold you while I'm cooking, etc. We finally made it through dinner and bath time - thank God - and were getting everyone calmed down and ready for bedtime. I was so DONE with children and my "no-more-little-voices alarm" had gone off in my brain about 7:00. But, when I went in to rock with Graham and read him a bedtime story (our nighttime ritual), I found myself surprisingly relaxed and ready for snuggle time with my little man. We were able to read about Curious George and laugh together - we talked about the silly things George did and silly things that Graham does. I looked into the bright eyes of my precious toddler and felt the warm ooze of joy flood my heart. Graham went to bed happy and snug as a bug (also our little ritual).

Then, I helped Claire get her bedtime snack and choose some books to read together. I cosied up on her bed and she sat beside me crunching handfuls of goldfish crackers as we were transported into the world of Almanzo Wilder in Farmer Boy. The dog sneaked his way into Claire's room and hopped up beside me...and took all of about 30 seconds to commence with a full-on snore. I was sandwiched in between two little warm bodies, who each love me in their own different ways. We enjoyed our story and marveled at all the things that people knew how to do back then...making their own shoes, using every part of an animal when you slaughtered it for food, making soap, projecting how much food to store away from the harvest so you could eat during the winter... Once we had prayed and were ready for lights to go out, Claire had to blow one more kiss toward me and say, "I love you, Mommy!"

Most of that day had been a struggle. But those precious moments at the end of it all were shining and spectacular. The joy in my heart as I allowed myself to become fully immersed in the moment was such a sweet reward for sticking with it.

I know this is a short, simple thing, but I hope you will highlight the sweet moments. Choose to frame THOSE moments in your mind, and not the other ones. There are plenty of whiny, fussy, screamy moments to go around...but the little things (like my snug-as-a-bug with Graham and my snuggle/story time with Claire) can be stored up like treasures in your heart. And I know you all understand how important it is to train your heart and mind on the good things! It helps me see this verse in a different light:

"A good man (or mama) out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things..." Matthew 12:35a (NKJV)

If you have given your heart to Jesus, then your heart is good! (Gotta read Waking the Dead by John Eldredge - just sayin') So, it is fitting for you to store up good things in your heart. Focus on the good, pleasant, lovely things...my, that sounds familiar!

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And then....when you find yourself in the middle of an eye-bulging, hair-pulling moment with your little ones, you will be able to access the peace of God. His peace is always available to you - but you have to know where to find it!

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Here's to a fuss-free day coming your way soon...but until then, here's to a treasure box full of precious little things.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Psalm 116: 1-8

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!"

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from failing. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A few thoughts REVISITED

So, I went back and read some things I had written as "notes" on my Facebook page last year - I think they're worth reposting... Here you go!

You're Invited

This seems to be the season of invitations! Graduation announcements, birthday parties, baby showers, pool parties, barbeques.... So much fun and so much to do! Regardless of whether I am able to attend or not, it always makes me feel loved - valued - when I receive an invitation. It lets me know that someone wants to share their experience with me. They are including me in their world. That's a good feeling.

In parallel, I find myself busy, busy, busy, going about my life and my schedule of activities...only to find an Invitation from my Lord at every turn. He values me and wants to share His experience with me. He is including me in His world.

The most poignant Invitations are actually in times of deep sorrow, loss, hurt and pain. At every crossroad I can see His outstretched hand and hear Him say, “Will you take another step into MY world?” Although His world is superimposed over my own, I still find myself deceived - linked to the culture I perceive with my natural senses.

But there’s the Invitation.

“Your Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven” is how Jesus taught us to pray. “Your world come down here in my world, just as it currently is in Your glorious, perfect heaven.” I want to be so invested in, so connected to His Kingdom, that I have double vision - seeing and perceiving with natural eyes and spiritual eyes at the same time.

When you have a heartache that you cannot shake, quiet your soul and hear the Invitation from Jesus to take His hand and step forward into the unknown with Him. When you lose someone dear, open your heart to the comforting Invitation of your Savior to rest in His arms. When your life seems to be turning out completely different from what you dreamed, look for the Lord’s Invitation amidst the confusion. Wherever you find yourself today, there is an Invitation with your name on it, written by a loving hand, borne on a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. You're invited.


Tuning In

On my drive home tonight from a meeting, I did my usual things: got in the car, buckled my seatbelt, turned the ignition, backed out and headed down the road. I was thinking about some things that had been spoken during that meeting, so I didn't really want to hear the radio, but I glanced at it anyway. It was on some random station. Probably the classical station from earlier in the day when I was trying every possible option to quell the screaming coming from my backseat (out of the mouth of a certain toddler named Graham). Anyway, the radio station got my attention for some reason. I was having a moment of reflection with deep spiritual ideas running through my head, but I decided I wanted to switch the station - which I could not hear since the volume was down - to one that was playing Christian music. I just had the sense that I wanted every reception in my car at that moment to be receiving from the Lord. I wanted every setting to be tuned in to Him.

And it hit me. That's such a spiritual parallel - being tuned in to the Lord, even when I don't have the volume turned up. Establishing that He is the "station" I want to receive from, whether I'm in a time of active listening, or whether my attention is otherwise engaged. I want to set my heart on Him and keep it there, just as I would set my radio tuner to a particular station. So, I'm choosing to scan the spectrum of voices that are all around me and find the Lord's voice. I'm making it my favorite, and no matter the course of my day, my life, I am choosing to leave it there.

"...He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph. 3:17


Combating Fear

Swine flu. (We were scared of that last year, in case you don't remember...) Economic collapse. Moral decay. There are a lot of things to fear these days. Fear becomes even more poignant when you have someone depending on you - children, elderly parents, or others in your care.

However, today I am refusing to bow to fear. My God is bigger than my fears! He holds my world in His hands. As I was reading through the little booklet (Speak the Word) Marilyn Hickey gave out at our recent women's conference, I came across Scriptures related to our safety and release from fear. Here is the prayer paraphrase from her booklet:

"My loved ones and I are delivered from the powers of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son. No evil shall befall, neither shall any plague come near my dwelling. I overcome all the fiery darts of the enemy and nothing can harm me because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." (Col. 1:13; Ps. 91:10; Eph. 6:16; I Jn. 4:4)

The best way I know how to combat fear is to take it head-on with Scripture. I have to read the Word out loud, pray it out loud, declare it out loud. By doing that, I am setting up a spiritual boundary - a line that the Enemy is not permitted to cross. If you sense the power of darkness creeping in on you, stop it with the Word. Take possession of the life God has given you by proclaiming His truth and faithfulness. He is always True and always Faithful, but you have to activate that fact inside your own existence. You have to partner with Him - take hold of His truth and distribute it accordingly!

Don't sit idly by, wasting away in fear. Do something about it! Draw your own "line in the sand" by proclaiming the Word!!!


That's my little trio for you today! Love and blessings to you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things I've Learned

1. People are awesome.
2. People are awful.
3. God is always awesome.
4. Flip flops are the perfect shoes.
5. Chocolate is a gift from heaven.
6. Playing in the rain is good for your soul.
7. Love not expressed is not love.
8. I have issues.
9. God is bigger than my issues.
10. Laughter is medicine.
11. Tears are cleansing.
12. It's easy to connect with God in the mountains.
13. I'll never be "the perfect size."
14. There is no "perfect size."
15. Art is in the eye of the beholder.
16. Music is a language all its own.
17. Creativity is implanted in us by God.
18. Marriage is amazing.
19. Marriage is hard.
20. Marriage is worth it.
21. Attitude is everything.
22. I need an attitude adjustment.
23. Serving others is more fun than serving myself.
24. It is important to experience other cultures.
25. I need to speak more than one language.
26. Exposing your heart to a close friend is humbling and scary, but necessary and healing.
27. Words carry weight.
28. The Narnia books and the Matrix movies are excellent parallels for the Kingdom of God and the natural world.
29. The more I understand about God, the more I realize I'm just scratching the surface of who He is.
30. True friends are a rare treasure.
31. Comfort food is sometimes a necessity.
32. Perfectionism will kill you.
33. If my kindergartener knows what "congruent polygons" are, then I probably should, too.
34. It's never too late to learn.
35. Babies change your life.
36. Sleep deprivation sucks the life out of you.
37. You get through it and forget all about it.
38. God's mercies are new every morning.
39. Sometimes I wait through the dark just to breathe a sigh of relief at the first rays of morning.
40. Two are better than one.
41. Submission and humility are the most powerful positions you can assume in God's Kingdom.
42. Up is down. (read my previous post: A kingdom upside down)
43. The clock is ticking.
44. I know who made the clock.
45. Emotional urgency is fuel for prayer.
46. You partner with God in prayer and actually begin to accomplish His purposes when you move out of emotional fury into the place of rest.
47. There is something I can learn from everyone.
48. Sometimes I learn how NOT to speak/act/think - and that's valuable, too!
49. Listening is a skill.
50. I need to listen more.
51. Popular opinion is usually wrong.
52. Every time I take worldly advice, I fall on my face.
53. God is always speaking.
54. I need to hear Him.
55. I can hear God when I quiet my soul and wait on Him.
56. I am transformed in the waiting.
57. Waiting on God is not idleness; rather, it is drawing on Who He is while I am in process.
58. Sometimes you just need a donut.
59. Coffee is easily mistaken for energy.
60. I love coffee.
61. The dreams in your heart are from God.
62. Everything is possible with God.
63. One glimmer of light dispels the darkness.
64. The play area at McDonald's is a blessing and a horror all at once.
65. Kids are washable.
66. The crock pot is one of the greatest inventions.
67. I cannot imagine the daily hardships in the life of the pioneers who settled America.
68. Gratitude changes how you view everything.
69. Large groups of women are not scary - they are powerful.
70. My life is not really about me.
71. Dogs are better than cats.
72. Macs are better than PC's.
73. America is confused.
74. God is not confused.
75. I am not the same person I was 10 years ago.
76. That is a miracle.
77. Forgiving someone is one of the most powerful tools to free your own soul.
78. If you have read this far, you are one of my inner-circle friends.
79. God is good.
80. God is good.
81. God is good all the time.

I was aiming for a list of 100, but I think that'll do! I pray a fresh wind of God's presence into your home, your life and your heart right now in Jesus' name!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Beast of Depression

Warning: this topic is heavy and dark! But I think it is so necessary to address depression with moms - most of us have dealt with it at some point and some of you may be drowning in it even now. Just to let you know, you are not weird, ruined or disqualified if you experience depression. Actually, you're in pretty good company! And you are not destined for depression - there is a way out!

After I had my first baby, I found myself at home all the time, exhausted, with a fussy infant who had eating issues. There was no remnant of my former life - I was completely engulfed in stay-at-home motherhood. Even though being at home with my baby was my desire, it wasn't living up to its former appeal, for sure.

Before baby, I was able to engage people and accomplish my goals. After baby, all I could manage was baby. I couldn't get a handle on my house, my hygiene or anything else. The transition rocked my whole world...and then came the hormone hurricane! The hormones after giving birth pretty much slammed me against the rocks and washed me up on the proverbial shore. I was a wreck. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't even really see past my own nose for the thick haze I was in. I went to my 6-week checkup with my OB and told her that I was crying all the time...which she said was not normal. (Thanks.) And she wrote me a prescription for Lexapro (anti-anxiety/anti-depressant drug) and sent me home with a 2-week sample to get started. I was kind of offended that she thought I was that messed up...but I decided to try the meds and just see what happened.

I finished the two weeks' worth of pills and didn't really feel any different, so I didn't bother to fill the prescription...

And things got worse. I resented my baby. I resented my husband. I hated my life. I didn't answer the phone or the door. I didn't want to see anyone for any reason. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up.

This went on for six more months and my marriage was suffering. My poor, sweet husband Tim had no idea what to do. He knew I was not the same person and that our relationship was very damaged. I really thought that he was attacking me and berating me for how I was taking care of our daughter. I really thought I was the one doing everything and he was doing nothing. I had the sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind that he was going to pack his bags and leave me alone with our daughter. I honestly thought that he was the "bad guy" in the equation. Boy, was I wrong!!! My perception was so screwed up - and I had no idea. Things actually did get rocky enough for me to go back to the OB and ask her to write me the prescription again - and this time I did fill it and start taking Lexapro regularly.

It turned out to be such a blessing! The meds leveled me out so that I could function again. I could see my husband and not have a boiling rage bubble up on the inside! Hey - that was a start! I felt like I was getting back to normal and things were starting to get better in my relationship with Tim, even though we had a huge mountain to climb together because of all that had happened...

Time went on, my daughter began to flourish, I was exercising and FINALLY sleeping - things seemed much better than they had been for a long time. But I started slipping back into the darkness I felt at the beginning. That didn't make any sense to me - I was taking my meds, right?! I told Tim about it and he very gently asked if I would consider having someone at church pray for me about it. I brushed that suggestion right out the door like he was an idiot and said, "No. I just need to adjust my medication - it's a chemical thing." He didn't say anything else to me for a while.

One evening, I was sitting on the couch crying, and Tim quietly asked if I would PLEASE let someone at church pray for me. I had HAD it, so I just said, "Fine. Let's do it." It just happened to be in January of that year when our church has its First Conference...and it just so happened that the next service we were going to attend was with Dr. Jack Hayford (whom I have loved and learned from for years) - so I thought that had to be a sign from God. (all the while, still believing that my issue was strictly a chemical imbalance, but pacifying my husband who wanted to be all "spiritual" and go have me prayed over...) So, we get to the service and hear Pastor Jack teach on worship...then comes the end of the service where I am psyching myself up to go find a minister and ask for prayer for my "problem." Then, Pastor Jack says, "Tonight, I want you to pray for each other. I want you to get in groups of 5 or 6 and pray for each other's needs." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I never wanted to cuss so badly. There I was, all mentally prepared to bare my soul to a minister and have them get all up in my business...and this crazy pastor throws me a curveball???? Well, there was no way to get out of it. I found myself in a circle of people I didn't know, listening to their requests, praying for them like everything was cool...and then it was my turn. I very matter-of-factly stated that I had been dealing with depression and that I needed prayer. Nothing else. Nothing more. They prayed. I don't remember anything they said. I don't remember how long we stood there. But I remember what happened.

As I stood in that circle, I felt like a huge iron claw was being pulled out of my heart. I felt the void where the talons had dug into me - and then I felt the wave of love and peace that the Holy Spirit poured over me to fill up the holes. I felt like I was floating off the ground because I was so light. Something happened to me. I got set free from something I had never known was there. I opened my eyes and even the light in the room seemed brighter. I could see again. I mean, REALLY see. In that moment, I experienced deliverance from a darkness that had attached itself to me somewhere along the way. I realized that my problem over the previous 18 months was not merely a chemical imbalance - it was a whole-being issue. My body, soul and spirit had been affected and my body, soul and spirit needed to be "treated."

After that night, I quit taking my medication - and I haven't needed it anymore. The weeks after that experience were a little wobbly - like I was learning to walk again, but I tasted my freedom and I made sure to follow that with extravagant praise to my Savior. Whenever the old familiar feelings or thoughts started to creep back in and lure me into my old way of operating, I countered them with Scripture and with praise. And it worked. Halleluia, it worked!!!!

God is big enough to banish depression for you. The death-grip that depression has on you is no match for the power of your Savior. Even if you look around at all the collateral damage from your emotional state and think it can never be fixed, LISTEN TO ME. Nothing is impossible with God. He loves you! He wants you to be free! He sacrificed His Son to purchase your freedom - and Jesus stormed into Hell to get His keys back so that Satan could never lock you up again.

If you need a miracle right now to be set free from the beast of depression, then pray this with me:

Lord, I need you. I need help. I am suffering under the rule of this depression and I choose to reject it today in Jesus' name. I am bought with Jesus' blood and I am Your child. Satan has no authority over me - in my body, my soul or my spirit. I take authority over every dark spirit coming against me and I bind you in Jesus' name. I release the power of the Holy Spirit over my life and give You permission to come and heal me right now, Lord. Restore me, fill me, heal me. I trust in You! Let it be so in Jesus' name! Amen.

Let me encourage you to talk to someone about your battle. You are not meant to handle this alone. In fact, that's one of the meanest tricks of the enemy - he wants to make you think you're the only one dealing with it, or that you'll look like a loser if you tell anyone you're struggling. Tell him to SHUT UP, will you? If you are isolated, then he's got you where he wants you. Don't give him that satisfaction! Find a friend, a minister, a counselor - someone you trust (or have every reason to trust) - and let them know where you are. Ask them to pray with you and for you.

You're going to make it! God's design for you is not to live in depression. You are destined to shine like a star and operate in peace and power that flows from the Holy Spirit inside you. The game's not over, my friend. You're not out. The curtain has not closed, dear one. There are many acts to come, with you as the headliner.

I pray that God's Kingdom will come into your world, just as it is in heaven:

"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, ' Behold, I make all things new.' " Revelation 21: 3-5a

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A kingdom upside down


There it is. That word! Fasting is something we, as the modern Church at large, have neglected and misshapen. (And you can bet your bippy that I wasn't thinking one bit about it when I was a new mom with a baby in my arms all the time.) When you read stories of great men and women of faith from the last centuries, there is almost always a reference to their own personal times of fasting. And they were talking about FOOD fasting - not the easier-to-swallow abstinence from your favorite hobby or something like that. And Jesus - what about Him, huh? He obviously valued fasting for some reason since He subjected Himself to it for forty days before He began His public ministry.

So, okay, we need to fast. But does that even mean ME as a hard-working, always-on-call mother of young, fussy, whiny children who drain the life out of me?!

How did I even end up on this topic? Well, I woke up with a phrase from a verse in Isaiah floating around in my head: "You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail..." I LIKE the sound of that! I need some dry, cracked places in my heart to be watered and to have a spring inside me that never fails, for sure. I liked that so much that I looked it up today to see what the rest of the passage was about... It was about worship and fasting. Isaiah 58 brings to light the messed up "worship" that God's people were offering Him. They had a form of religious ritual, but even in their ritual they were only thinking of themselves. They neglected everything that God's heart was beating for - caring for people, pulling people out of the pit, loving others more than they loved themselves. Then, Isaiah goes into a section on fasting the way God desires for us to fast.

"Is this not the fast I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

"THEN your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

"If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, THEN your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden ("well-watered garden" in NIV), and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

Isaiah 58:6-11 (NKJV)

What does this mean? Here's what I think it means: Fasting - especially from food - puts your mortality in subjection to your spirit, and in turn, subjection to God. It is a total-being posture of submission. We forget that with God's kingdom, everything is upside-down from the way our natural mind thinks. We naturally seek positions of strength and power, when God asks us to seek the position of humility and weakness. We tend to view humility as a flaw and weakness as worthlessness. Can I refresh your memory on a few verses?

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

"Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4

"And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty." I Corinthians 1:27

"And He said to me, ' My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will most gladly boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." II Corinthians 12:9-10

It's all opposite! It makes me think of a scene from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies - where Keira Knightly's character and the pirate crew go in search of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who has "died" and been taken to Davey Jones' Locker. (an afterlife kind of place like Purgatory or possibly even hell...) Anyway, the correlation has nothing to do with where he ended up...it has to do with how the crew found him. They were given several clues to unravel in order to get to the end of the world and into Davey Jones' Locker. One of the clues was "Up is down." They all stood around dumbfounded trying to figure out what it could possibly mean...and then Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) gets a wild idea. Turn the ship over. The pirate crew looks at her for a few seconds like she is an idiot, and then they understand, too. They start tossing cargo, guns and everything loose overboard to lighten the ship and then begin rocking it side to side violently. Eventually, they manage to overturn the ship - while we're all holding on to our theater seats imagining how they are all about to drown. Well, it turned out that she was right. They flipped the ship into the water, and when it was upside down, they found themselves not drowning, but sputtering to the surface in full sun. They had made it to Davey Jones' Locker to rescue Jack Sparrow.

That's where the analogy ends! But what a great picture of the upside-down-ness of how we perceive reality and how God perceives it. His kingdom is the true reality. It is more real than our temporal reality - and it is overlapping and intertwined with our temporal reality. We just have to trust Him when He tells us that "Up is down."

One surefire way we can begin to see things God's way is through fasting. Subjecting yourself - humbling yourself - before God. Denying your most basic need for survival and laying your life bare before Him, inviting Him to speak, change, heal, restore and anything else He wants to do in you. When you submit yourself in that way, your perspective changes! You can't help but see and hear spiritual things. And when God is free to work in your life in a time like that, then things start to really happen... bonds of wickedness are loosed, heavy burdens are undone, the oppressed go free, and every yoke is broken...in you and through you.

And THEN, "your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (He's got your back, girl!) The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; YOU SHALL BE LIKE A WELL-WATERED GARDEN and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

So, even as a mom of an infant, a toddler or a wild child of any age, you are meant to fast. Don't get all legalistic on me, now. I know that when you're nursing you can't just be skipping meals and all... Good grief! All I'm saying is, the Lord told us that "up is down" and that He can show you how to flip your ship to see what He sees. Go for it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

'Tis the season of the graduate! Now, if you have babies at home who have not reached Pre-K or Kindergarten yet, then graduation may not even be on your radar...it certainly wasn't on mine until my own daughter reached those milestones. And somewhere during my baby-haze of life, I think I lost sight of the value of graduation.

A week or so ago, I watched my firstborn child march down the aisle in a white cap and gown to Edward Elgar's famous "Pomp and Circumstance." She is only five years old, but I was still moved to tears at such a milestone! All the first five years of training her, working with her, disciplining her, investing in her - this moment was the culmination of a season of her little life. A celebration of all the struggles, victories, accomplishments - and a signal to move on ahead.

Graduation seems such a normal part of our educational lives, but we don't usually view our spiritual lives that way. However, don't you have a sense when a season of your life is coming to a close? Don't you feel it when you're in a place of completion? I think we all need to pause for a "graduation moment" and give ourselves a ceremonial permission to move on ahead. Completion is a satisfying thing. Accomplishment is a reason for confidence. Closure is a sweet kiss on what has been and a hopeful embrace of what is to come.

So many times as moms, we get stuck in a rut and get frustrated when things aren't fitting into our well-worn pathways anymore. I try to communicate with my kids how I communicated six months ago, but they are beyond that now. If I don't speak to them on their level, they don't hear me. I try to discipline my kids the same way I did six months ago, but my efforts have no effect because my children have moved on. What used to do the trick isn't working anymore. AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH! But that is so normal - it is imprinted in our DNA. Accomplish, grow, conquer and move on.

So, why is it that I let myself stop growing? Why don't I give myself milestone markers of accomplishment and celebrate moving forward? It's about time we all did. Ask the Lord to show you places where you have completed your assignment and let Him free you to move on. Sometimes, I think we even need to "graduate" from things like attitudes, habits, patterns of speech and thought... You are meant to grow and change - so let yourself! You have permission to move forward into all that God has in store! Don't be tricked into thinking that you are stuck, because you most definitely are not. Circumstances may seem to trap you momentarily, but the Almighty God of the Universe and Beyond has the power to arrange - and even better - to transcend your circumstances.

Bottom line: Congratulations on your graduation! Move your tassel over, walk across the stage and do a little dance of joy, because the next thing is just around the corner. May the struggles, victories and accomplishments - all that has happened in this most recent season - spur you on to knowing God more intimately, loving Him more deeply and living in Him more fully!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grace flows down and covers me

The more you think about grace, the more amazing it becomes. Your mind cannot truly conceive it. It is something that must be taken in through the heart.

Grace is better than "the benefit of the doubt." When someone gives you the benefit of the doubt, they are choosing to turn a blind eye and allow for excuses why you act a certain way. A person giving you the benefit of the doubt is overlooking something you have said or done because they want to believe you're really a good person down deep in there somewhere. Grace, on the other hand, knows exactly the reasons you said something or behaved a certain way...and makes a covenant to love you and cover you anyway.

That's what Jesus did. That's who Jesus is.

Years ago, I used to drive down to Waco every Monday night during the school year with friends so we could attend Choice, a night of worship and teaching with Louie Giglio. Choice was the place I first learned what it meant to be a worshipper. It is where I first abandoned myself in worship to my Lord, so I have very fond memories of that place and that time in my life. One of the songs that came out of Choice was "Grace Flows Down." I haven't been able to find the original recording, but here's a version of Christy Nockels singing it in one of the Passion conferences: Grace Flows Down.

Amazing Grace - how sweet the sound
Amazing Love now flowing down
From hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
His grace flows down and covers me

And covers me
And covers me
And covers me
And covers me

I love that! It covers me...and covers me...and covers me. It never stops. I could spend hours and days thinking about that fact.

But, that brings me back to reality...and how grace works in my life. The concept and the experience are so moving, so powerful - but if I just receive grace, I have not fully grasped it. Once you have been freed by grace, you have a mandate to then free others by grace. "What do you mean?" you might be thinking. Well, I'm glad you asked.

Now that Tim and I have been married for several years, we know each other pretty well. I know that he leaves his clothes on the floor in our room, and he knows that I leave all my shoes in the front living room. He knows that cleaning is not my favorite thing, and I know that changing diapers is not his favorite thing. He knows that I spend too much time on the computer and I know that he does, too, sometimes. There are many other worse things, but you catch my drift. In marriage, there are so many little, piddly things that can eat at you. The clothes on the floor, the mess left behind, the way he says something to you repeatedly, the little STUFF. Then, when something big comes against you - financial trouble, an affair, a loss of a child, a death in the family - something really big, you have no reserves to deal with the situation. This is why GRACE is so absolutely important in your marriage and in your family relationships. It covers...and covers...and covers...and covers...and doesn't stop.

In case you didn't know, we're all really messed up! We have quirks, flaws and serious issues that we're not free from yet. But grace can cover over those things - and can actually transform us and set us free. When Jesus let His blood flow out of His mortal body, He saw every nasty sin from every person from all of time. He grabbed on to that burden of sin from all of humanity, carried it in His body and did away with it - so He could extend grace to us. He knew the reality and loved us anyway. He loved us enough to let it kill Him...so that we could be transformed through His grace.

When your husband is irking you by the same old pattern of behavior, grace can transform him. When you find yourself cursing under your breath that you have to pick up dirty laundry off the floor for the thousandth time, grace can transform you. When you feel like verbally lashing out at your husband for something stupid he just did, grace can transform the situation. When you respond out of grace, the atmosphere changes.

Grace knows what the reality is - that your husband leaves his underwear on the floor two feet in front of the hamper. But grace says, "I love you anyway," and picks it up for him. It covers him. And it keeps covering him.

Grace is not something you can muster up or clench your jaw tight enough to create. Grace is received - and then grace can be extended. Grace must dwell in you for grace to flow out of you. If you have given your life to Jesus, then Grace does dwell in you! Now you have the choice to let that grace flow or not. Nobody else on earth has been given the role of covering your husband like you. You have a precious and valuable role to play: grace-giver. The next time you feel your blood start to boil or your eye start to twitch like a crazy person, ask the Holy Spirit to stir up grace in you and let it flow out. Be the grace-giver the Lord designed you to be - and watch the amazing transformation.

...and grace flows down and covers me...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

But joy....

"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

"Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies' sake.

"Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."

Psalm 30:1-5, 11-12; 31:14-16, 19-20, 24

Wow, I love the Word! When my heart is hurting or is anguishing over something, my soul yearns for the Word. And I usually hit the Psalms first...like the lengthy passage above. The Word brings such comfort, such healing, such perspective. It clears out my ears so I can hear what the Lord is saying to me about my circumstances. The Word lifts my eyes UP, so that I can see the Father and realize that my circumstances are not in control of me.

Most of you know, but for the sake of those who do not, let me share our employment situation: My husband Tim is a freelance commercial photographer. He is very artistic and has an amazingly creative "eye" in photography. He would really like to devote himself to art, but has made a very responsible and admirable decision to find a more lucrative means of supporting his little family. He is still in photography, just a more commercial vein. The interesting part of his employment is that he is a freelancer - meaning he takes contract jobs and is not an employee on anyone's payroll. The freelance world can be amazingly fruitful - just depending on how things line up. For our family, we have settled into a roller coaster rhythm of BIG paychecks from a long job.....then NO paychecks from the lagtime in between jobs. It is difficult, I'm not going to lie! Over the past 8 years of our marriage, we have learned a lot about money, about each other, about contentment, about failure, and about God's faithfulness. This has been God's path for us - and we look back and see His goodness and mercy following us for sure!

Today just happens to be one of those days where there is more month at the end of the money. I know you can all identify to some extent. This is the kind of day where I have to choose to plug my faith into the Provider and let Him work the knots out of my stomach with a large dose of His peace. And I get plugged in and dosed up through the Word. As I sat on my couch and read those passages in Psalms earlier, tears welled up in my eyes as I felt the Holy Spirit massaging my heart with His truth. I felt the sweet, comforting presence of my Savior surrounding me, protecting me and reassuring me. He is faithful! He is good! I can trust Him!

Your Savior can do this for you, too. Whatever is weighing on your shoulders or causing you distress....God can lift it. Find a spot on YOUR couch and invite Him to come sit with you as you open the Word. And I'm just sayin' - the Psalms are a great place to begin!

"For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace..." Is. 55:12a

Friday, May 21, 2010


O Sleep, Sleep, wherefore art thou, Sleep? Seems like everyone in the mom category could use a few more winks, and I'm talkin' 'bout NOW. Wouldn't motherhood be so much easier if we all just got enough uninterrupted sleep?!

There are seasons of life where sleep is elusive for whatever reason - having an infant is high on the list, but other things affect your sleep, too. Things like stress, anxiety, illness, worry, fatigue, insomnia, fill in the blank... And when your sleep is affected, your life is affected. That's why as moms we not only need sleep, but we need the rest the Lord gives. Rest and sleep sometimes coincide, but they can be separated. That is good news for you, my friend, because when you cannot sleep, you can always go to the Lord for rest. I woke up the other morning with the Lord pressing this on my heart:

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

It's like I could hear God's voice in my heart saying this to me. Even though I knew this verse and had committed it to memory, it was fresh and alive for that moment in time. I needed my sweet Father to remind me that I am restored in His presence. That is where I will truly find rest for my soul. When I am at my wits' end with my daughter's emotional freak-outs, I can switch instantly into God's throne room and find rest there. I can be standing IN Claire's room WHILE she is screaming and crying, but be drawing on the peaceful rest He is providing for me at the same time. I don't have to respond to Claire's behavior from my lack of sleep - because I have a Source of rest that will sustain me.

As I go along in this life, I am learning more and more that I can draw on the Lord in every situation. Yeah, that sounds like something we all know, but this is where the rubber meets the road, people. If I can quiet my emotions and let my spirit dial the "red phone" to the throne room of heaven, I will be able to appropriate the fullness of the Lord for my situation. My tiredness tells me that I am running on empty, but the truth is, my Source never runs out.

And...there is a really cool byproduct of experiencing the rest God gives: joy. When you have been in the manifest presence of Father God and have received the sweetness of the rest He offers, you come away with joy. Joy in knowing that He is faithful and true and that He never lets you go. Joy in feeling His love and approval. Deep-seated soul-joy that is watered with the rains of heaven.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul..." Ps. 23:1-3a (NAS)

So, get some sleep whenever you can - take care of your body. And when you can't sleep, visit with your Daddy and get some rest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Speak LIFE

"...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live..." Deuteronomy 30:19

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

Powerful, huh? Can you imagine if we actually lived like we believed those verses? Our words carry so much weight that God went so far as to say we can cause life or death by the words that come out of our mouths. God also spoke through Moses to tell His people that they had a choice: life or death. Blessing or cursing. When you put it that way, it's like, "Duh!" Of course we WANT life. Of course we choose blessings and not curses! But do we really?

Where I get myself into trouble is in the nitty gritty details of my day: being perturbed with my kids for whatever reason, having the twelfth thing in a row go wrong while I'm trying to accomplish a long list of to-do's, or just being tired. During those moments, my guard is down and I respond with a fleshly remark or attitude. I can reason it away or overlook those words I spoke over my kids - but the reality is, I just sucked the air out of the room by letting death escape my lips. If I am not speaking life, then I am speaking death. DEATH. That's horrible! And it seems so harsh! But we have a great mantle of responsibility on us as God's people. He created humanity to have dominion over the earth. Having dominion meant that humans were God's super-charged managers on the earth, acting in His authority, and whatever they said was the way it would be. Of course, everything got royally messed up when Adam and Eve forfeited their relationship with God for the knowledge of Him... But that did not alter the pattern God set in motion for dominion. What we say carries weight.

Think about it - if you spend a week consciously praising and encouraging your child, what are the results? That child will rise to the words spoken over him. If you spend a week dedicated to speaking loving things to your husband and telling him how amazing he is, what are the results? You grow closer together, you love him more, and he rises up into the place you have created for him with your words. I'm not suggesting that you refrain from correction or discipline with your kids - far from it! Your children need your guidance in those ways, for sure. But, what if you set a guard on your lips and only let life-filled things come out? Would anything change in your world?

A few years ago, I first heard Jimmy Evans teach his marriage seminar called Marriage on the Rock. He was one of the first people who helped me understand how very powerful my words were over my husband. I remember him saying something about finding one good thing your husband does and praising him for it. "Even if it's just, 'Honey, I love the way you put your socks on in the morning. Nobody puts their socks on better than you do.' " I thought that was hysterical...because I was in a funky place and couldn't really come up with anything to praise Tim for at the time. But that gave me such hope. To know that if I would start speaking life to Tim, life would come. So, I tried it. I made a point of keeping anything negative to myself and only speaking out good things to Tim. When I started doing that, a bridge was built over the black chasm that had separated us for quite a while. And we began to live again. I could see a glimmer in his eyes again. So, I kept speaking life....even when I didn't fully buy it or didn't fully believe it, I spoke it in faith that it could be. And to my amazement, Tim started to grow into himself as the head of our home! Not because I was trying to manipulate him or change him...simply because I was speaking words that created life in his soul.

We have got to get over ourselves and be willing to let things go. We have got to choose the better way - the way of life. Yes, we need to discuss things and yes, we sometimes will have opposing viewpoints, but the bottom line is that I will not use my words to bring death to my husband in any way. I refuse to speak death over my precious children whom God entrusted to me to water and tend and train up.

God isn't joking about this! We have the power to speak LIFE - real life - into a husband, a child, a situation, a people group, a nation, a job, a physical body... Consider the ramifications!

I'm making a renewed commitment today to choose life for myself and my house! Join me!

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14