Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 Things to Lose for 2012

Just to put you at ease, I'm telling you up front that this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with your weight!  At least the number on the scale....  (and incidentally, I don't own a scale on purpose)

So, with Christmas cookie in hand, I now present the 10 best things you could ever lose this new year:

10. The noisiest game app on your phone.
"Oops, kids, I think that one disappeared somehow.  Sorry!  Try this new one about knitting."

9.  Pet fish.
"Rest in peace, little Finny."  Replace little Finny with Ivan the avocado seed (halfway submerged in water) and watch him grow.  Fun for all ages.

8.  The half-used cosmetic items you have held on to for, oh, 8-10 years or so.
But I don't know anything about that one.

7.  That turkey you've had in your freezer from over a year ago.
It's freezer-burned to Hades, my friend.  Let it go.

6.  Your need to have the last word.
On everything.  All the time.  Because you're right.  About everything.

5.  False guilt.
Maybe let this year be the fresh start on knowing what IS your burden to bear and what isn't.  Guilt from any source really isn't yours to bear at all, but ESPECIALLY false guilt.  False guilt is when you,  or someone else heaps bad feelings on you for things beyond your control.  Like when your mother says something that makes you feel bad for the way your husband responded to a situation.  Not your problem!  Don't carry it around!  Or, like when a friend hangs the blame for a failure on you, except you had no way to control the outcome.  If you twinged when you read the term "false guilt" then I'll bet you have been carrying some on your shoulders, maybe even in your heart.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show it to you and help you let it go.  Jesus took all our junk, shame and guilt on the cross and did away with it.  Don't take it back!

4.  False humility.
When someone compliments you or makes a big deal about your performance or abilities or appearance, JUST ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT!  Don't deflect the attention and affection under the guise of "humility."   Even saying, "It's all God" smacks of false humility.  If it truly were ALL God, it would have been flawless....  Just say, "thank you" with a grateful heart and receive the compliment.  The way you honor God with those compliments is by offering them back to Him in your intimate, up-close moments with Him.  God loves when you partner with Him.  And when you're in step with Him, people will take notice.  Let them.  The picture of you and God dancing together (in whatever you're doing) speaks so much and reaches deeper into the soul than any compliment deflection ever will.  I could preach on this one, but we must move on.

3.  Your agenda.
Perhaps you haven't figured it out yet, but sometimes your plans aren't God's plans.  I'm just telling you from experience it's SO much better to come to God and ask Him to fill in your schedule rather than bringing your full schedule to God and asking Him for help.  When you bring a blank page to Him, He will take you on the most exciting adventure!  Let go of your self-imposed schedule and ask the Lord what He has for you this year, this week, today.

2.  Your philosophy.
Have you considered that the way you make sense of the world might not be the way it really is?  We all see through our own experiences and ideas, naturally.  But could this be the year that you let go of your "philosophies" and let God show you what's really going on?  He gets excited when you take a step toward Him like that.  Just come to Him with openness and a teachable spirit - and you will start seeing and understanding life from His perspective.

1.  Your life.
This is the time of year when everyone starts setting goals and making spreadsheets to accomplish their dreams in a matter of twelve months.  The human will is actually a very amazing thing - when you determine to do something or become something, you most likely end up doing and becoming.  Culture tells us that we must "make something" of ourselves to have life to its fullest....but Jesus tells us the exact opposite:  "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."  Matthew 10:39 NKJV     I even like the way The Message says it a little better:  "...If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself.  But if you forget about yourself and look to Me, you'll find both yourself and Me."  Matthew 10:39 MSG   

When I say to "lose your life", I am not talking about the cessation of your heartbeat.  I mean the laying aside of your dreams, plans, ideas and feelings and letting the God who knit you together show you your life.  Letting Him shape you into who you are destined to be - who he designed you to be, and how He sees you in Christ.  (Never met Him?  Click here and read this.)  The best way to end up with a full life is to let God be the Producer, Art Director, Script Writer...  Just let go of yourself and fall into the hands of the most capable Being there ever was.  Say a blanket "yes" to Him before you even hear the directions.  I PROMISE that you will wake up breathing, as if for the first time, and seeing in color like you have never known before.  God is amazing. God is truly awesome - in that when you get a glimpse of Him, you are filled with awe.  You can trust Him with your life.

So...bring it on, 2012!  What have we got to lose?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Showtime!

If you have little ones, then I'll bet you have sat through a "program" or two...and maybe even one or two already this Christmas season.  The kids are all excited about being on the big stage, they are so cute in their tiny little dresses and sport coats and curls...  You have your phone camera, your real camera and a video camera charged and ready for the big moment when your child will stun the entire audience with his good looks and charm.  Perhaps even his talent.

The first song get some out of focus and wobbly shots of the kid, and then you notice, "I feel like I have been here before..."

Here are some landmarks that you recognize, signaling to your brain, that yes, you have indeed been here before.  The world of the little kid "program."

1.  The Princess.  There's always one, if not multiples, wearing a hugely frilly dress with sparkly tights and sparkly shoes and sparkly hair doodads.  They each are so adorable and they know it.

2.  The Flasher.  You know you're going to see somebody's underwear and somebody's belly button during this show.  They're usually my favorite kids.

3.  The Statue.  There's always that one kid who stares out into space and doesn't move.  Won't sing, won't dance, won't even attempt the motions.  Juuuuuussssst a statue.

4.  The Nose Picker.  No public performance is complete without one.

5.  The Blasted Cacophony.  God bless the kids who just can't find the note.  They provide us with such an... interesting, shall we say, buffet of tones to choose from.

Oh, there are other landmarks to let you know you're on the path, but those are some surefire signs that you're trapped in a seat for at least 30 minutes at a Children's Program.  Buckle up, slap on your smile and keep the camera rolling.  These moments will become priceless as soon as you blink an eye.

Especially at the end of a children's Christmas program, I really feel like standing up and saying the Pledge of Allegiance like Aunt Bethany at the Griswold family Christmas dinner table.  It's so cute and festive, and they have done a great job.  But it's just a little wonky.

So, here's to many more off-key, Santa + Baby Jesus, nose-picking, belly-flashing moments with your kiddos!

Ho! Ho! Ho!  Away in a Manger, and God Bless America!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Sparkle In Your Christmas

Christmas is the best.  It's my favorite.  The season where people think of others more, where the name of Jesus is uttered by countless lips - from believers and non-believers alike.  The time when people open their hearts and begin to see the true beauty of the Love that appeared on our scene one cold night in a stable.

Every year, our family gravitates to someone in need during the Christmas season, and this year is no exception.  All the planning and dreaming of how we can bless this person and their family is truly the highlight of the whole thing for me.  This December we have been unusually consumed with schedule stuff, so when I saw the spiritual neon sign over the family the Lord was highlighting for us and heard the little "ding-ding-ding" go off in my heart, I just tried to ignore it and move it farther down the books.  Like, a week from next Tuesday.  But alarms kept going off in my spirit and I just couldn't ignore it.  I wanted to lean into the voices that whispered in my ear, "You are in no position to be taking on a family and spending tons of money on them right now.  This is way beyond what you're capable of."  But the Holy Spirit's tug in my heart was stronger.  He kept re-routing my life to run smack into this family and their needs.

So, I finally got in line with Him and reported for duty.  And the angels sang!  I got a download of heavenly strategy, made a few connections, who made a few connections, who made a few connections...  And ba-da-bing!  We have a really fun, sneaky surprise Christmas coming for this family!  (I keep saying "this family" because I can't let the cat out of the bag yet!)

Who is the Lord highlighting for you?  Will you just toss the "you can't do this" voices aside and report for duty?  The Lord is amazing.  He is not asking you to singlehandedly fund someone's whole life.  He is asking you to say yes to Him, and He will then give you ways to bless and care and love like you never imagined.

The way we're doing it this year:  mobilize people who know this family, and friends of friends who like to give and bless.  Create a list of needs and tell people to get after it.  We have already had several gifts come in, gift cards,'s SO CRAZY FUN!  We're working on the details of delivery...sneaky, sneaky...  And it is going to absolutely blow these people away.  You have GOT to get on board, friends!

Ask God who, in your own life, He is wanting to bless.  He will definitely show you.  Then gather up some friends, co-workers, enemies - whoever - and just see what God will do through you!

How are you blessing people this Christmas?  I'd love to hear YOUR story!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Spirit of Fear

You know what gets me riled up?  Halloween.  The culmination of darkness, fear and death - and the celebration of those things.  Every year at this time, people I know and love take part in the celebration of Halloween and it irks the living snot out of me.

"Why?  It's just a silly holiday.  There's nothing wrong with it.  We're just having fun", one might retort.  In fact, that is the most common response I hear when I challenge anyone on the subject.

Here's my first point:  If you believe in Jesus and profess to know Him, then you have no business reveling in darkness.  I don't expect all the rest of the atheists, agnostics and non-Christian people to think anything is wrong with Halloween, just people who say they know Jesus.  Jesus is LIGHT.  Jesus is LIFE.  Halloween is darkness.  Halloween is death.  Do you see the incongruity here??!!

Second point:  Fear is a torment from the enemy (Satan, the devil, is your enemy in case you weren't clear on that).  What is the biggest emotion people experience when they take part in Halloween festivities?  Fear.  The Bible even talks about "the spirit of fear", meaning that there is a spiritual force behind the feeling.  Fear is not just some little game for a thrill.  Fear is a spirit.  And it's not a good one.

I have spent so many conversations, prayer times and ministry sessions with people who are TORMENTED by the spirit of fear.  I have battled against the spirit of fear for myself, my children and many others.  Why on earth would you willingly play his game, people?  Satan is a liar.  He wants to lure you into his grasp with "fun and games" that seem innocent enough.  But Halloween has become a culturally acceptable invitation to the forces of spiritual darkness into our homes, thoughts and lives.

I'm sick of it.  I'm sick of seeing a shopping cart of little kids at the grocery store who are crying and begging their mom to go away from the scary masks and bloody costumes.  I'm sick of the Christian culture embracing anything to do with darkness.  I'm just sick of it.

So, here's the thing.  If you celebrate Halloween, I'm not sick of YOU.  I'm ready for you to see the goodness and blessing that God has for you, and that it is so much better than anything "fun" you get out of Halloween.  Our family seems SO counter-culture on this, but we're not backing down.  We are convinced of the awesomeness of our God, and we have decided to let go of everything else that doesn't line up with Him and His ways.

If you're worrying about not having any fun, DON'T!  There are so many wonderful things going on during the fall!  Pumpkin patches, carnivals and lots of fun family things that don't involve the symbols of evil.  You just have to ask the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.  He can, and He will...when you ask.

I pray that you will have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is communicating to you.  Don't be fooled, friends.

May the light and life of Jesus rest on you and yours this Fall!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Blessing Adventure

I found myself on an airplane, facing two very long flights to Europe, but excited at the prospects of a prayer/mission trip ahead of us. Tim and I got settled into our seats, made sure we had all our important documents secured and then began to chit-chat with the team member sitting next to us for the flight. He was one of the pastors on staff at our church so we were enjoying getting to know him and his story as we passed the time. Turns out he's quite a character - he had us in stitches with the crazy stories he told and the caricature-like portraits he painted with his words.

 We careened through several different topics, and then ended up talking about our children and their schools. I began to listen as though huge cotton balls had just been removed from my ears and I couldn't wait to hear the next sentence. This pastor was nonchalantly unfolding the coolest "mission" I had ever heard regarding his kids' teachers. Whenever their kids begin a new school year, they always go meet the teachers, get acquainted and let them know that he is a pastor. Then, he proceeds to explain to  each teacher that their family is totally supportive of her and wants to bless her socks off during the school year. He leaves a "favorites" form for her to fill out - candy, soft drinks, coffee, restaurants, movie theaters, day spas - all the little luxuries and preferences the teacher can think of. Then, during the year, they make an EXTRAVAGANT display of love for the teacher by bringing her things from her "favorites list." Sometimes it's just a big Dr. Pepper from Sonic at the end of the school day. Sometimes it is a gift card to her favorite place to eat. Sometimes it is even bigger than that.

Well, this whole story impressed me, inspired me and stuck with me. It made such an impact on me that I just knew our family had to do it, too. So, at the beginning of the last school year, we did! I printed up some little forms for each teacher my children would have regularly and I marched myself up to their respective schools to turn on the hydrant of blessings. I introduced myself, got to know the teachers a little bit, and then told each one how much we already loved them, that we pray for them and that it is our family's mission to bless them ridiculously during this school year. They looked at me like deer caught in the headlights - excited, hopeful deer, but caught in the headlights, nonetheless!  Apparently, this is a foreign concept.  Do you realize that most of the interaction teachers have with parents is over corrections, complaints or other negative issues?  Parents wear those teachers out!  I gave each teacher their little "favorites" form and told them to send them back with the kids' stuff whenever they were ready.  They gave them back the very same day!!!

You will never believe what an impact this had on those precious ladies! The smallest things - just thoughtfulness - hatched a friendship between us that you never would have dreamed. I was able to lavish love on them and display God's pursuing, extravagant love toward them through gifts. I made it a point to bring them something each week - a favorite Starbucks drink or a favorite candy bar - and once a month, I would bring something bigger from their lists.   Just because of this easy-to-do assignmnet (loving on people), I was able to bring joy and peace to them.  I was able to pray for them - in general, but they would ASK me to pray for specific things going on in their lives, too.

 As the year went on, I watched the Lord work through candy bars, movie tickets, restaurant gift cards and yummy-smelling candles.  It was so much fun!  I think it's time for all of us who know Jesus to take a step further in loving and blessing people.  Even just a small step further.  What are the practical things you're doing to bless and love those around you?  I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

15,000 Ways to Inject Light into Darkness

I'm in Guatemala right now with a team of UHHHHmazing women.  These women are the heavy-hitters of the Kingdom.  We're spending time in ministry training and seeing the Lord lift things off of us, deposit new things in us, refresh us and lavish His love on us.  It's truly overwhelming.

BUT, all that to say, I need an outlet!  We had an assignment to present a 5-minute teaching or message to the group today...and I was only able to get out about 25% of what was in my heart to say!  The only instruction beyond the time limit was that it should be something we are passionate about.  So, since I am SO passionate about the Light (Jesus) and since I SO passionately hate the dark (evil), I am compelled to slap this message on ya.  Here you go.

15,000 Ways to Inject Light into Darkness

It is much easier than you think to bring Light into the darkness.  Sometimes we assume that we would have to travel to the wilds of Africa in order to truly light the darkness....but it's just not so.  I have come up with 15,000 - or maybe slightly fewer - ways that anyone can inject Light wherever you are.

  1. Be nice.  Just be NICE, people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Ask people about themselves.
  4. Be a “welcomer.”
  5. Pay for the person’s order behind you in the drive-through.
  6. Randomly show up to a friend’s house with flowers.
  7. Say “I love you” a lot.
  8. Listen to hear what is in a person’s heart, not just what is in their head.
  9. Say “yes” more than you say “no.”
  10. Be quick to forgive.
  11. Mow your neighbor’s yard…just because.
  12. Look people in the eyes and see into their world.
  13. Wear Mickey Mouse ears.
  14. Laugh uncontrollably and develop a guffaw.
  15. Take your smile to the hospital and spread it around.
  16. Laugh at your mistakes.
  17. Embrace people – with your arms, your facial expressions AND your words.
  18. Plug in your neon “open” sign and turn off the “closed” sign.
  19. Dance – even without any audible music.
  20. Be the “gum friend” who always has it and is always offering it to everyone.
  21. Read your situation and choose an appropriate level of response.
  22. Take ownership of your environment - not the trees, but the space you're in.  Be responsible for the well-being of those around you at the moment.
  23. Be teachable.
  24. Get over yourself.
  25. Move forward.
  26. Be available.
  27. Sing your little heart out.
  28. Keep other people’s confidences locked in your vault.
  29. Infuse the atmosphere with hope.
  30. Cultivate your sense of humor.
  31. Hang out with the undesirables.
1, 2, skip a few....

      2,025. Bake cookies often.
      2,026. Share them.

      11,999. Translate the Word of God through your actions.
      12,000. Meet people where they are.
      12,001. Lower your expectations of others.
      12,002.  See the treasure in others.
      12,002. Speak to the treasure in others.  Call them THAT name.

      12,436. Filter your words and just let the good stuff come out.
      12,437.  Refrain.
      12,438.  Partake.

      13,122. Find a younger person to invest in.
      13,123. Find an older person to invest in.
      13,124. Invest in people.

      13,275. Cry with people.

      14,999. Tell people they are not alone.
      15,000. SHOW people they are not alone.

Really, all these things that can inject Light are simply the things that will easily flow out of you when you are led by Holy Spirit.  These are examples of using your influence to change the atmosphere around you.  They are just practical ways to redirect people with beauty.  Spirit-led living is a life of blessing, lifting, caring, sharing, transforming…a life of adventure and joy…a life of messy, laughter-filled FUN!

The things on this list are applicable ways to live out Isaiah 61:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Here's a whole love-bucket (for you, Elizabeth T.) full of Scripture about LIGHT:

Psalm 18:28 “For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”

Psalm 27:1  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 36:9  “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Psalm 37:6  “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

Psalm 44:3  “For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; But it was Your right hand, Your arm and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.”

Psalm 56:13  “For You have delivered my soul from death.  Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”

Psalm 112:4  “Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous.”

John 1:1-4  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him and without Him, nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:6-9 refers to Jesus as the Light – so when you are shining light, you are bringing life, you are bringing Jesus (THE Life, THE Light, THE Word) into the situation.  He is the answer.  He is the one who transforms. He is the one who dispels the darkness.

So, turn on the Light, my friends!  It's not that hard!

Isaiah 60:1-2  “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm over at Destiny In Bloom...

Hi friends!  In case you haven't seen it yet, I'm over at Destiny in Bloom this week!  You can catch the latest at:

Happy hunting!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Warding off the Plague

My daughter just finished her first day of second grade! Along with all the excitement of the new school year and new adventures, I have this recurring thought at the beginning of EVERY school year: "We have GOT to keep these kids healthy!"

It seems like once school is in full swing, the plague starts passing from one home to the next. Have you noticed?! A few years ago, I got fed up and did something about it.

The two best things I have ever done for my children's health are:

1. Give them daily probiotics.

Whey my kids were very little, I used powdered probiotics and just mixed it in with their milk or whatever they were drinking.

They never even knew it was in there! And, the benefits of probiotics are HUGE! Your gut needs good bacteria in it to keep you healthy. The bad bacteria are what make you sick and diseased, and you definitely don't want that. That's why your doctor will prescribe ANTIbiotics - to kill the bacteria. However, once you finish a round of antibiotics, your gut is wiped out of all its bacteria - good ones, too. You have to take steps to replenish the good ones. Eating yogurt with live cultures is a great way to do that. But, just to be sure, adding probiotics into your vitamin/supplement regimen will DRASTICALLY improve your health.

When my daughter was 3 1/2 and my son was a baby, they both had gotten a "cold" that we just weren't able to shake. My heart ached for them as I would hear their sad little coughs and moans. I just knew there had to be SOMETHING that could help them. So, we started probiotics...and in a couple of weeks, they were well. They haven't been sick like that in over three years now!

Now that they are a little older, I have switched to chewable tablets for convenience. I don't know if the tablets are any better or any worse than the powdered version. We seem to be maintaining our same level of good health since we switched, though. These are the ones my kids like:

You can find both of these products online in many locations via, or you can check your local health food store. I get mine at Central Market and/or Sprouts.

2. Give them Black Elderberry syrup.

In the crisis point of our sickness, a person at the health food store showed me this wonder-syrup that helped kick the crud in our kiddos' little bods. There are two brands that I have used and liked equally:

Here are the benefits of elderberries according to Methods of Healing (

"You have probably heard that consuming berries, particularly the dark colored ones can help boost your immunity because they contain powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals that prematurely age your body or cause disease. The same principle applies with the dark colored elderberries. They contain the same source of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.

Elderberry is primarily used to combat flu and colds because of their antioxidant properties as well as their high amounts of potassium and vitamin C. These berries also have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties which greatly help in the fight against colds and flu. Together with the potassium and vitamin C, they help shorten the duration of colds and flu and may even help prevent them too."

I get these elderberry syrups at my health food store, too. Or, if you're so inclined, a google search will produce results out the waz for you.

I just wanted to pass along these secrets to all you baby-mamas out there who are struggling to fight off the funk. You can do it! Your kids will definitely benefit from these immunity boosters, and so will you. Take good care of yourself, woman!

And, before I forget...

If you know me, then it goes without saying, but since some of you don't know me I'm going to say it. I SPEAK health over my kiddos in the name of Jesus. He is the Healer and He is the one who holds everything together. He is the Word. And His covenant with us is one of New Creation. I ACTIVELY proclaim good health over my children - that is my offensive attack, as well as my first line of defense! Then, I use the noggin God gave me to do the things I need to do: feed them good, nutritious food...limit sugar...make sure they get enough sleep...pump them with vitamins and supplements like I showed you above...and so on.

You are a good mom and you can partner with the Healer to turn your kids' health around! Go get 'em, Tiger!

I'd love to hear some things you do to keep your kids healthy...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toxic Atmosphere

Have you ever spent a little "too much time" with a person...or persons...or family??? If you have, then I'll bet you totally understand what I mean by the term "toxic atmosphere." Where every breath is a struggle. Where, no matter what you do, you can't seem to escape the looming, poisonous cloud.

If you ask me how I know so much about this, I'll just tell you I have no idea what you're talking about.

BUT, I will tell you some survival tips for the next time you find yourself in this situation.

1. Never leave home without your oxygen mask. Oh, yeah. You own one. It's the collection of Scriptures with your name on them, that the Spirit has breathed on you in your times alone with Him. It's all those words of destiny spoken over you by trusted, faithful friends. It is knowing who you truly are - who God says you are.

2. Put your mask ON. It's one thing to own the mask. It's another thing entirely to put it on. When you go into a toxic situation, you MUST PUT YOUR MASK ON. Don't breathe in the toxic fumes, or you will be affected. Simple as that.

3. Lead with love. The best opener is always a gesture of love. The toxic parties may or may not receive it, but you have set the stage, nevertheless.

4. Pray for compassion and understanding. It can be SO hard to figure out what the issues are when dealing with toxic people. They don't even know what their issues are, believe me! So ask the Spirit to put compassion in your heart for them. Ask for insight so that you can communicate in a way they understand.

5. Laugh a lot. When things aren't going well, just laugh. Laugh about everything. Laugh at the ridiculosityness of the situation...and make up words that reflect it.

6. Set the boundaries. You don't have to let someone else's attitude, demeanor, way of doing things, negativity, lunacy or otherwise...get inside the boundaries you have made. The other person doesn't even have to know the boundary exists. But YOU do. You know where the line is and when to let certain comments fall to the wayside. When to ignore and when to address. You don't have to let someone keep hurting you or crossing the line.

7. See beyond. Keep your eyes focused on something greater. See the toxic person with spiritual eyes so that you can pray for them, encourage them and bring truth (lovingly, in secret code) into their reality. AND, you must see beyond your encounter in the toxic atmosphere. You need to look forward to something else so that you keep hope alive! Plan something else to look forward to before you even enter the situation!

You can't live in a toxic atmosphere. It will kill you. If you feel like your everyday existence is toxic, then you MUST make some changes. Ask the Holy Spirit what to do. Ask Him to shine light into your darkness. One word from the Lord is like a thousand lighthouse beacons in the dark night. Pray for clarity in your confusion. One whisper from the mouth of the Lord can silence all the other voices.

Dear, sweet one, you are too precious to your Father to settle for begging the crumbs at His table. Let Him lift you and set you in your rightful seat at the banquet. Stop accepting the lie that you're too far gone for Him to truly love you. He has a feast beyond your wildest imagination prepared just for you. He's calling you up out of the fumes and into the sweet fragrance of His presence. He is inviting you to come out of survival mode and into relaxing, joy-filled living mode.

Sometimes we must take a trip into toxic territory. Sometimes we can even find ourselves stuck there. Either way, it's not home. Jesus is inviting you to come back home. Say yes.

"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared with the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets they eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, MSG

Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Mess With Texas

I am on a California trip right now and really enjoying the mountains and gargantuan swaths of nature that surround us. I love swimming in a lake that is hugged by mountains. I love REALLY tall trees. I love being close enough to drive to the coast...and then taking a day to drive out there and enjoy it.


There are just some things about Texas that I love, too. I am a Texan by birth, and it will always be a part of me. My Texas roots always get tender when I am away, so I just thought I'd bring you along on my list of Texas-ness today. (that rhymes)

1. Boots. Just take a quick look around the room in Texas and you'll find some. Something comforting about that.

2. Longhorn steers. I mean, who doesn't love a cow with ginormous horns??!!

3. Tex-Mex food. Mexican food is not enough. Mexicans could learn a few tricks from us.

4. The friendliest people on the planet. Southern hospitality is pretty amazing, but Texans take the cake. The most fiercely loyal friends I have ever met are Texans.

5. The accent. It's pretty unique...and it used to annoy me when I was younger. I tried so hard to mold my speech into something more proper. Now, I like it. It's home-y to me. Texan will always be my native language.

6. Football and cheerleading. No one gets it like Texans. And don't get me started on homecoming. Mums are the coolest.

7. Gateway Church. My favorite place to connect with God's people and join them in expanding God's Kingdom here on earth. There are lots of great churches in Texas, but this one's my favorite! And my home!

8. Big jewelry. I love me some big silver hoop earrings, girl! While I lived in Tennessee for several years, I purposely toned down the size and sparkle of my jewelry. But, since then I've been set free. Bring on the bling!

9. Big hair. It didn't stop in the '80's, oh no. And that works for me, because no matter what I do, my hair always ends up back in the wavy lion's-mane style I'm currently sporting. My hair fits in Texas. It's my hair home.

10. Big bigness. Everything truly IS bigger in Texas. Food, cars, guns, egos...

Well, thanks for enduring my country-song reminiscence of my homeland. Feel free to brag about your own...

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Right or The Light

If you are an American, then you know you have the right to free speech. To say what you want. To be offensive and get on other people's nerves just because you want to. You have the right to disagree, the right to your own opinion, and even the right to be flagrantly wrong.

Who ever said that the American way was God's way?

Oh, I'm very thankful for my right to free speech, for sure! Because, included in that right is my freedom to worship God, to speak about Him, and to proclaim His truths from His Word without fear of imprisonment or punishment or death.

But I think we must constantly evaluate the "rights" of our citizenship in our natural country by the light of our citizenship of the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom is our true home. His reality is the REAL reality. And in His Kingdom, words mean something.

Growing up, when I heard about "the Kingdom of God", I assumed people were talking about heaven. I thought that one day, a long time from then, I would finally be old enough to die and go to heaven to see the Kingdom of God. I wasn't super excited about that because it meant I was going to die... But, since I have grown up and had a little more revelation of God and His ways, I understand that God's Kingdom is NOW. It is eternal. It is not contained in the place called heaven - it is being built and expanded by every person who houses the Holy Spirit in their hearts. As a believer in Jesus, I can actively expand the occupation of God's Kingdom here on earth. In fact, I can do it with every footstep I take when I am walking in the Spirit! That's a lot to think about.

But, back to WORDS.

In God's Kingdom, words carry weight. When God speaks, things happen. Things like planets and stars and oceans. Things like light and life and beauty. And because He created us in His image, we have characteristics like Him. Our words carry weight, too. Our words mean something.

Have you noticed that when you let a lot of negative junk come out of your mouth that it doesn't make you feel better? It only makes the toilet-flush of your day spiral a little lower. Have you noticed that when you gripe and complain to your husband (or boss, or friend, for that matter) that he doesn't respond to you with flowers and hugs and warm fuzzies? He's trying to figure out a way to get out of the house and escape! Negative, harsh words make things die.

The good news? Loving, faith-filled words make things LIVE. Don't believe me? Try it. If you're in a hard spot in your marriage, make a decision to only speak positive things to your husband for a few days and watch what happens. Keep the ugly thoughts to yourself, and discuss those only with God. Train your mouth to say good things. Compliment your husband and praise him for the things he's good at. Make a big deal when he does something well or something that means a lot to you. If he's not doing ANYTHING you like and has ZERO praiseworthy character qualities, then you may have to try a little, "Honey, I am so glad you come home to us!" or, "Babe, you have the best manly walk I have ever seen!" Get creative. Your words have creative power, actually. When you don't see the things you're aching for in your husband, you can prophetically call those things out of him. Speak to him in the way you would if he were already walking in those things. "Honey, I'm so proud of you for your integrity. You make good decisions and stand up for what is right." "Babe, I love how you take care of us. Thank you for working so hard for our family."

The same works for friendships! If you are having a rough time with a friend, speak life into the relationship! And a little "tact" goes a long way. Tact is just shaping your words so that they don't impale those close to you. Instead of a backhanded compliment of "your hair looks so much better since you got it cut!", try actually saying it in a positive way: "I love your new hair cut! You look so good!" Instead of being sarcastic and cutting, try being encouraging and soothing.

Sometimes you do have to have difficult conversations and say potentially hurtful things. Confrontation and conflict are so hard. Most of us try to avoid it at all costs because it IS so hard. But, you can actually experience conflict in a relationship and use words to heal the rift. I could write a whole book on this subject, but I'll spare you for the sake of this post...

I guess I am just feeling the need to call us to a higher understanding of the power in our words. It is the power of life or the power of death - no in-between option for careless words. Either you're creating life and causing it to flourish, or you're killing things. Let's go up a little higher with the Spirit on this. Let's humble ourselves and be teachable...and let God change us in this area. What would happen if we, as wives and moms and women of influence, would really take responsibility for our words? I'm dying to know.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Entitlement Issue

I happen to live in a little suburb of Ft. Worth...that is pretty close to another certain little suburb. My little slice is made up of people in the middle or lower-middle class. Average people. Young families with kids, older single people, young couples. Modest cars, modest lifestyles for the most part. Then I drive through another slice where, for some reason, people seem to cut in front of me or push me off the road. I find that I am repeatedly snubbed in stores and restaurants for no apparent reason other than some of these people feel they are more important than everyone else.

Well, lemme tell ya, that really gets my goat. There's this sneaky little bugger called "entitlement" that worms its way into a soul and makes a person think only about themselves, their rights and privileges and how unimportant everything and everyone else is. Entitlement can actually be called many things: snobbiness, rudeness, arrogance, selfishness. But the real root is pride.

Pride is disgusting, isn't it? When you see someone treating others like lowly vermin, don't you just feel your blood start to boil?

I began stewing on this issue one day after I had several run-ins with the Entitlement Club. I kept thinking things like, "Who does she think she IS? Oprah?" "Where's the fire, honey, because I know you didn't just squeeze me out of line!" "Oh, pardon me, Mr. Fancy Car. Please, go ahead and make a place for yourself there. Don't worry about us." I got so up-in-arms thinking about how sickening it was to watch the display of arrogance...and then I came to a screeching halt mid-thought.

I heard the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "You're doing the very same thing."

Ruh-roh. What? Show me what You're talking about, God, because I don't think I just road-hogged my way across four lanes to get the spot I wanted on the highway. (defensiveness and sassiness at full throttle)

Apparently, pride is not restricted to a concentrated area of the elite! I may not have overtly acted on it, but I, sure enough, had just thought about my own rights being violated due to that person's behavior. And I certainly let my mind go with it and travel to my mouth. And words came out. I countered entitlement with entitlement and that didn't get us anywhere but messed up. Those EC-ers (Entitlement Club-ers) had left such a bad taste in my mouth that I thought I would get back at them, covertly, by pointing out their flaws and making myself seem better for NEVER doing such things. This may seem relatively harmless to you, but anytime the Holy Spirit points something out, you'd better listen up. He was showing me the contents of my heart...and not in the pretty, sanctified sections.

I realized that I'm still clutching pretty tightly to my "rights." I assume I have the right to drive on the road without being forced off by a bully. I assume I have the right to receive fair treatment in a social setting. I assume I have the right to speak my mind. I assume I have the right to good customer service. I assume I have the right to common courtesy.

In this great Land of Opportunity, we're pretty serious about our rights. It is drilled into us as children and emblazoned on our star-spangled hearts. And there truly are those certain unalienable rights set in motion by God and stated so eloquently in our Declaration of Independence: rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."

But I know we've each individually taken our "rights" too far. That's the funny thing about the Kingdom of God. You can't go very far in the Kingdom when you hold up the shield of your rights. It's almost like you are trying to swim through jello while you hold a cast-iron bathtub in front of you. There's a bit of...resistance, shall we say. The Scripture puts it like this:

"...Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" I Peter 5:5 (NKJV)

God actually RESISTS you when you are prideful. When you champion your own rights. When you make yourself a display of grandeur. BUT, that same verse also lets you in on a Kingdom secret: He gives grace to the humble. Grace is like oil in the gears of a machine: it makes everything work together without getting jammed. When you lay down your rights at the feet of Jesus, He lifts you up and covers you in grace. All of a sudden, you find ease in your movements. You find you can dance - even fly. You're most powerful when you shed your "rights" and receive His grace.

Grace actually makes you more flexible, too. I love the modern day "addition" to the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break." Ain't that the truth?!

Is it really any way to live when you snap at someone's random misbehavior? I'm done wasting my time with my passive, hidden entitlement. I'm laying down all my "rights" and choosing the Kingdom way: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." I Peter 5:6 (NIV)

I mentioned before about other people's actions leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I'm thinking I'd like to counter the sour with the sweet. My goal is to leave a sweet taste in people's mouths anytime they deal with me - on the road, in the grocery store, at a restaurant, on the phone, at the library, in the school pickup line... Grace makes room for people. Grace values people. And humility is the first step to receiving and extending that wonderful grace.

Some of you are thinking, "Doesn't that make me a doormat, having to cover for people all the time and letting them take advantage of me?" I'm not talking about letting someone harm you. I'm not saying we should all be wimpy and complacent - not at all. What I'm getting at is that snarly beast of pride that gets a claw-hold in your gut and starts getting sassy. Anytime you feel defensiveness swell up or you start to condemn someone for their words or behavior, check yourself for the pride beast. Then cut off its ugly head by humbling yourself.

"If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored." Matthew 23:12 (CEV)

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10 (NIV)

"...And all of you, serve each other in humility, for 'God opposes the proud, but favors the humble.'" I Peter 5:5 (NLT)

Lord, forgive me for my prideful attitude toward people. I acknowledge that You alone are the Just Judge and You alone are in the highest place. I lay myself down at Your feet, Lord. I love You. I am so grateful to You for saving my life and letting me truly live. I release my rights back to You. Instead of trusting in my rights to protect me, I trust in You to protect me. I don't want You to oppose or resist me, Lord - I want Your favor. So, I humble myself before You and ask You to fill me up with Your Spirit, Your sweetness. Thank You for Your unfailing truth, God. I trust You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Where has the time gone?!

Hi friends! It has been way too long since I have posted....just wanted to give you a heads-up that I'm marinating and working on a few new things that should appear soon!

I'm thinking of each of you this morning - even if we've never met - and I am praying that the God of all comfort will comfort you in whatever circumstances you're in today. He is big and loving, and He is singing over you!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Check it out!

I'm over at Destiny in Bloom today - be sure you pop in and check out my article! The DIB girls also love it if you'll leave a quick comment...

Click here to read "The Sweet YES of Grace" on Destiny in Bloom.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Certain of Life's Uncertainties

So, why is it that as soon as you pack up all the winter clothes...and you have had weeks of warm temps....that you get a bone-chilling cold snap?! And how about when you roll all your random coins from your car cubbies and deposit them at the bank...only to find yourself on an unfamiliar TOLL ROAD?!

The only things certain in life are the uncertainties, my friend!

Recognize any of these?

-Too much month left at the end of the money
-Pay off your car only to roll it into the shop
-Pull out all the ingredients to bake something and find that someone just used the last two eggs
-Plan a pool party only to watch the torrential downpour
-Share a heartfelt conversation and have something you said come back to bite you
-Step out of your comfort zone and fall flat on your face

...I could go on, but I think you're with me.

Sometimes, it just seems like a great big cosmic joke - and everyone's laughing but you. This is where so many people start questioning God's love, God's plan and even His existence. They can't reconcile their heartaches with a "so-called 'loving' God." Maybe this is you that I'm talking about.

Well, let me breathe some faith back into you. God IS real, and He is in hot pursuit after your heart. He sees every disappointment, every heartache and every trick the Enemy throws at you. He feels what you feel and He hurts right along with you.

Hebrews 4:14-16 "Now that we know what we have - Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God - let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all - all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." (The Message)

The enemy (Satan) wants to rob you of every ounce of hope. He wants to destroy you. He keeps lying to you and throwing darts at you to make you cower and close yourself off. But, do you know who you are? You're not the victim. You're the VICTOR! In Christ, you are the enforcer of His victory. If you have made Jesus the Lord of your life and have experienced a heart exchange from Him, then you don't have to just sit there and "take it" from the enemy! Rise up, sister! Arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit - the Word of God - and cut the enemy down!

John 16:33b "...In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)

I John 5:4 "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith." (NLT)

Luke 1:37 "Nothing, you see, is impossible with God." (The Message)

Deuteronomy 20:4 "For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!" (NLT)

Joshua 23:10 "One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you as he promised." (NKJV)

Isaiah 54:17 " 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the Lord." (NKJV)

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." (NKJV)

If you're going to stop playing the part of the victim and start acting like the Victor, then you MUST have faith. How do you get faith? By hearing the Word of God. The Word is living and active. It will dig deep down into your soul, even as far as your spirit and it will make you come alive. If you take in enough nourishment from the Word, you'll have the faith/strength to stand up and be who God says you are - to do the things He does. If I were you, I would get me some Word on an IV drip. Read it, memorize it, listen to it online or on a recording in the car, sing it, talk about it and USE IT to fuel your faith. When you start believing God's Word, you can begin to do the things it talks about - like stop Satan in his tracks and have dominion over your life and family.

Don't give up! RISE up. Buck up. Cheer up. But most of all, LISTEN the Word of God. You won't be disappointed! There's nothing uncertain about that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The funniest thing I've ever heard

Seems like we could all use some laughs right about now. There is so much heavy stuff pressing on us join me in a laughter break, will you?

Tim and I were watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on TV last night...and, if you don't know, Mr. Bourdain is a colorful individual. He's crass and rough around the edges...but he says some of the funniest stuff! My two favorite lines from the episode last night:

"I feel like forty pounds of crap in a ten pound bag."

(and, well, who hasn't, really?)

"I feel like I've been spit-roasted by the Chechen militia."

(???) and (!!!)

My friend Bradley and I used to laugh as a hobby when we were in college, and he would tell the most hilarious stories about people he encountered...

One of my very favorites is when he - or someone else he knew - was shopping in a grocery store and heard all this commotion on the aisle next to him. It sounded like a mom and her kids trying to get through the store without starting World War III, but all of a sudden, this lady of deep-south ethnicity shouts, "Spatula! I got TWO WORDS for you: BE! HAVE!" (as in, "behave", except all wrong) (and the kid's name was Spatula?!)

Another famous Bradley story is about hearing a different exasperated mother of deep-south ethnicity yelling at her kids...when she had reached her limit she exclaimed in all seriousness, "I will BEAT. YOU. BACK. TO. JESUS." (I have since used that phrase at choice moments in my life...)

And then, there's Craig Ferguson. He's so wrong. And so hilarious. If you're easily offended, just don't watch, okay.

Everybody gets a good laugh from our boy Tom Cruise. Thanks, again, to Craig Ferguson for helping us truly appreciate his madness.

And, if you're just a lot more classic (or classy, should I say), here's one of my all-time favorite comedy pieces from Singing in the Rain. I have posted it a thousand times, but just in case you're the only person who's never partaken:

Make 'Em Laugh

Some other people and sketches that make me laugh so hard I snort/spew my beverage/dry heave, yet am unable to post because I cannot, in good conscience, endorse their content are: (didn't that just sound like a category at the Oscars?!!)

Keenan Thompson in "What Up With That" and his Steve Harvey impersonation on SNL
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake in "Barry Gibb Talk Show" on SNL
Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen's "Whip My Hair" - you'll appreciate it if you're a music buff

All of those are easy to find if you just search youtube or google...but you didn't hear it from me....

I hope you've had a few laughs with me - one of my favorite things to do! Love you, my sisters!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"I'm Lost In My Neighborhood!"

So, if I were to keep an account of my morning, it would look something like this:

Woke up at 5:30am, groggily stumbled into my bathroom and began the task of applying makeup to a still-asleep face. Made it through a few steps, then had to go let the dog out. Decided to make some coffee to get this engine going. Dog back in, coffee in hand, I climbed back up the stairs to resume make-up duty. Worked the face and hair into shape, layered up my clothing - as any modesty-conscious worship leader would - and headed downstairs to gather all my accoutrements for the day's assignment. Guitar? Check. Notebook? Check. Hairspray and emergency fix-it items? Check. Excedrin? Check. You get the idea.

I found my sparkly silver shoes, threw a new pack of gum in my purse and then settled in to wait for my ride. By this time, it's about 6:50am, and I'm thinking, "I've got this covered!"

Well, a few minutes after 7am, my friend who is en route to pick me up sends me this frantic text:

"I'm lost in my neighborhood!!!!!"

I giggled to myself and sent a quick reply to let her know "I believe in you, girl", only to have her name and number pop up on the screen. "Crista, I don't know what's going on! There used to be a road that took me straight over the highway, but now I can't find it!" So, I hopped on good ol' Google Maps and helped her navigate her way through. To her credit, the neighborhood she lives in has built up QUITE a bit over the past few months, and things look completely different from one day to the next. New stop signs where there previously were stores at the corner...roads changing names and taking unexpected jogs. But, when I gave her a landmark and told her that the road changed names for a minute, then she could find her way. She appeared in front of my house about 5 minutes later and we were on our way!

We joked on the ride to the church where we were ministering that there HAD to be a blog written about "I'm lost in my neighborhood!!!!" ....and so here it is! That statement was brimming with spiritual significance...

I mean, haven't you felt that way before? About life, in general? "I'm lost in my own neighborhood. I should know where I am going, but everything looks different. Why can't I see where I'm going? I know there was a road here somewhere."

The journey we're on in life is full of turns, stop signs, merges, dead ends, street name changes and oncoming traffic. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Things we took for granted yesterday may not even exist today. So, how on earth are we supposed to navigate? Is there a way to know where we're going and to make it there on time and unscathed?

Yes. Thank God, yes.

Without taking the driving metaphor too far, I want to point out some things that must be maintained in order to truly see and perceive your position.

1. Vision - If you can't see, then you can't drive. Why do we approach our lives any differently? Our natural eyes tell us one thing - the state of the natural order of things around us.

But we are not of this world.

If you belong to Jesus, then you have another set of eyes that will translate the spiritual world for you. The spiritual world is MORE real than the one we experience with natural senses. The spiritual world is our true existence, but so many times we deny it. We let the grime of the natural get caked on our windshield...and we get used to it. One day, you just start seeing life through the filter of junk and think it's normal. If you don't take the time to get the gunk off the windshield, you set yourself up for disaster. YOU CAN'T SEE THROUGH GUNK.

I'm going to make you mad here: If you're constantly watching TV shows that reflect the morality and values of the fallen world, if your passion is keeping up with the lives of celebrities and their drama, if you spend most of your time engaging in the things the world has to offer, then you can't see. Not really. That STUFF may not even be "that bad" in itself, but if you entangle yourself in the stuff of the world, it will always come back to bite you. It crowds out the pure presence of the Holy Spirit. And by "stuff", I mean anything that the world's table has to offer you - not just TV and celebrities. Can people be legalistic and judgmental on issues like this? For sure. Am I judging you? Nope. I'm warning you. You're either washing your windshield or you're caking grime on it. Do you really want to stay lost in your neighborhood?

2. Hearing - Being able to hear really is crucial to navigation! If you can't hear someone honk their horn at you, you might not realize you need to get back on the right side of the road. If you don't hear the motorcycle speeding by you, you might change lanes right on top of him when he is zooming beside your car. You need to be able to hear when you drive...and you need to be able to hear with your spiritual ears when you're navigating through life.

You spiritual ears hear God, but they also hear the enemy. The enemy speaks lies and condemnation. He reminds us of circumstances, insecurities, failures, loss, devastation, injustice...he wants us to think that the natural stuff is all there is. If you keep listening to him, you're progressively stuffing cotton into your spiritual ears. Then, when you find yourself lost on your own street and stop to pray for direction, you have a hard time hearing the Holy Spirit through all the fluff of lies you stuffed into your ears. YOU CAN'T HEAR WITH PLUGS IN YOUR EARS!

3. Power - You can sit in your car all day and press the accelerator, but if you don't have power, you're not going anywhere, my friend! Your car uses a battery and uses fuel to make your engine function and all your dashboard instruments work. Fuel without a battery is useless. Battery without fuel - also useless. They work in conjunction with each other.

The Word and the Spirit are what make YOU go. They work together. You can have chapters of the Bible memorized - which is fantastic! - but if you don't have the active work of the Holy Spirit in your life, you're not going anywhere except in circles of intellectualism. You can experience the presence of the Spirit and the electricity of His power in you, but if you're not also fueled with the Word, you will short out. NO POWER = NO GO.

So, what do you do when you find yourself sitting in your car with a caked-up windshield, earplugs in your ears and no power?

1. Get the gunk off! Remove the sources of gunk in your life! Quit devoting your time and attention to superficial, gossip-y garbage. Replace those things with things that point you to God: friendships with people who love God, reading the Bible, listening to worship music or music that lifts your soul...LOTS of things! Ask the Lord to fill in the blanks for you, and He will.

2. Take the cotton out of your ears! Learn to distinguish between the enemy's voice and God's voice. How? Get in the Word. The more you know the Word, the more you'll recognize God's voice - His book sounds like Him. The more you listen to God's voice and believe Him, the more you'll clean the other obstructions out so you can hear better, quicker and much more clearly.

3. Check your fuel and your battery - Word and Spirit. Are you taking in a steady diet of God's Word? If not, don't beat yourself up - just START! It's never too late to get into God's Word. If you miss a day, start again. No condemnation - only blessings. You're not bad if you don't - you just take yourself out from under a steady flow of God's blessings. Are you yielding to the voice and will of the Holy Spirit in your life? If not, it's never too late to start. In fact, you have to start over every day...sometimes even every hour... If you have given your life to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. He "indwells" you and is always with you. You can hear Him if you listen. If you want to experience the Holy Spirit's power operating in you/through you, then you can be "baptized in" the Holy Spirit. He will release powerful gifts in you that equip you for some special ops-levels of life navigation...that's the fun part. :)

Whew! I hope that gets you thinking... It's always good to do a little evaluation on what you're taking in, what you're giving out and where you're going. Happy trails, friends!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Join me over at Destiny in Bloom today!

Hey friends! I'm the featured writer on Destiny in Bloom today, so come on over and check it out! You might even wanna subscribe while you're there - it's free, and there are tons of great articles and helpful insights coming through there all the time!

Much love,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You Are My Passion

Just a quick post of a Jesus Culture song today...I'm swimming in it and just wanted to share.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seasonal Depression

Hope you are all enjoying a good dose of winter wherever you are...even those of you who haven't seen snowy weather!

I wanted to delve into another aspect of depression - even though I have previously written "the depression article" and I know you have heard me talk about it before. For those of us who have a melancholy side, and for anyone, really, it is good to take stock of how you're "doing." Starting a new year can get the adrenaline pumping and get you motivated to make some changes in your life. That's a good thing! But for some, you may find yourself in a puddle at the end of the day, unable to take another step. You feel overwhelmed, sad, grouchy and sleepy. If you feel this way on a regular basis, you might be under the effects of "seasonal depression." Seasonal depression, simply put, is just that your emotions are being affected by the cold and darkness of the season and/or weather you are experiencing.

Now, I'm no psychologist, so don't go quoting me to your medical and counseling professionals. But, I do know that I struggle EVERY year when Daylight Savings Time ends and the days start getting shorter. That old familiar darkness that used to be on me seems to come looking for its old home again. And, then, bring on a string of cold, wintery days and I could potentially be found in the fetal position in my room with the door closed.

Why am I bringing this up? I just have a sense that some of you are struggling and you don't know why. And you need some encouragement. And some options.

So, here we go.

First of all, if you think you have this seasonal depression thing, don't panic. God actually made our bodies to respond to external stimuli! You would be weird if you acted the same way in the winter as you do in the summer. For real. (unless you live in one of those tropical places...always with the loopholes)

Next, there are so many things that you can do to help yourself get out of the funk! Beating seasonal depression is really about managing yourself. (You'd better check yourself before you wreck yourself.) God made you with high intelligence to be able to steward your entire being - spirit, soul and body. Your responses are completely up to you. If you want to feel better, start doing things that make you feel better:

-Get the kids in bed 30 minutes early and take a long bubble bath.
-Put your favorite music on your iPod or mp3 player and keep it with the earphones in your pocket at all times. Pop those babies in and be transported.
-Schedule a date night with your man.
-Have some friends over for coffee and dessert.
-Choose a fun family activity with your children.
-Go check out new books at the library and declare a certain hour of the day to be your personal reading hour.
-Put good things into your body - like fruit and veggies. Quit it with the junk and you'll feel better in a few days.
-Take your vitamins! (preaching to myself, here)
-Dedicate time to hear from God. Read the Bible and listen for His voice. Let His Spirit breathe life into your spirit.
-Listen to an audio recording of the Bible while you're doing stuff around the house.
-Turn on the lights. Literally. Quit sitting in a dark house.
-Get yourself into the sunshine if you see any peeking through the wall of winter clouds.
-Limit your time with people who are "downers." Negativity breeds, whether you want it to or not.
-Light a yummy-smelling candle.
-Snuggle with your husband.
-Laugh! Find a movie or book that you find hilarious and keep it around.
-Think about good things. If you have trouble with that, make some lists (of good things!) and post them around your house and in your car.
-Invest yourself in a worthy cause - serving in your church, helping a friend in need, volunteering at a shelter, tutoring a student, grocery shopping for someone who can't get out...

This list is all a jumble of things that correlate to the three parts of you - body, soul and spirit. You can't just tweak things in one part and expect the rest to work itself out. Be a good steward of YOU by taking care of your whole self. I know that as a mom you are very outwardly focused and there are many demands on you. Believe you me, I know. But it is imperative that you deal with your kids and home/responsibilities from a place of life and fullness. If you're always running on empty, pretty soon the whole system will just crash. I call that "an episode." And it's not pretty. By taking some steps to get yourself back on track, you will be able to see your life with clarity and operate in peace.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what's going on inside you. He can help pinpoint where things are going wrong, and He can help move you in the direction you need to go. Ask Him to help you find a couple of things from this list that will start making a difference in how you feel. He's the best Counselor EVER, by the way.

The good news: seasonal depression is not a sentence to be served. It's just a bothersome condition that can be remedied. I pray that the Great Physician will reveal your diagnosis deep into your spirit. You are His daughter and you are made perfect by His redeeming work in your life. You and He are a great team and there's nothing that will come against you that you cannot decimate together.

Seasonal depression, BEGONE!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Mom's Top 10 Ways To Start a New Year

10. Clean out your undies drawer. I mean, who needs last year's Hanes Her Way styles anyway?

9. Collect all of last year's magazines lying around your house and take them to the recycle bin. Wait, I need that one and that one...okay, those can go...oooh, look what she's wearing! Mmmm...I should make this for dinner tonight. Why am I in the garage again?

8. Call HazMat. (see #7)

7. Vacuum every nook and cranny of your home. I'll get you, you vile filth! No more dead skin cells collecting in THIS house, you hear? Oh, look, baby - I found your lost sippy cup of milk...that is now a hazmat situation...

6. Go through kids' closets and drawers to clear out all the clothes that no longer fit them. Sort into piles of "save", "sell" and "donate". Add up in your mind how much money you could make from consignment versus garage sale. Add up in your mind how much you spent for all those clothes in the first place. Put them back in the drawers. They can wear those a little longer.

5. Choose a diet/exercise regimen that will work for you in this phase of your life. Being very realistic, check into zumba classes, weight watchers and possibly just finding friends who don't care if you get fatter this year.

4. Carefully repack all the Christmas decorations and tree ornaments that you so tediously displayed last month. Except for the baby Jesus from nativity #3, which has suddenly gone missing. Along with a sheep and a nutcracker.

3. Rearrange the furniture. New year, new look! Be sure to vacuum under there. Oh. My. Word. Honey, I just found a memory card, $20 and your driver's license!

2. Do a happy dance for the family routines coming back online! School, naps, regular eating, everyone sleeping in their own beds again, predictability. Budget, schedule, responsibilities... SCHOOL, NAPS, REGULAR EATING, EVERYONE SLEEPING IN THEIR OWN BEDS AGAIN... (gotta focus on the positives)

1. Take stock of the goals you accomplished last year. Write out your goals for your family and for yourself for this new year. Make a spreadsheet of steps to help you get there month-by-month. Or just take a power nap before the baby wakes up.

But, in all prayer for each one of you reading this ridiculous list is that you will know the presence of the Lord much stronger in your life this year than ever before. I pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened to know how immensely vast your Father's love is for you. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be your shield and your rear guard and will guide you into all Truth. I pray that you will see yourself for who you truly are - the way your Father sees you - the glorious, powerful, influential you. I pray for divine wisdom to rest on you as you nurture your family and train your children. I pray for a fresh anointing over your life to rise up into all you are created and called to be. I pray victory in your life and in your home in the name of Jesus!

Make this year the one where you get to know your amazing God better than ever before. He is waiting to dance with you!

Blessings for 2011!