How to Ruin Valentine's Day [or any other day]

How to Ruin Valentine's Day [or any other day]

I held up my hand like a stop sign, warning him not to come any closer to this ticking time bomb, along with a verbal warning declaring I did not want to talk in that moment. I continued my cleaning storm around the kitchen, bulldozing over my own marriage LESSONS #1-7 in record-breaking time. He was trying not to laugh aloud at his wife-turned-Hulk -meets-Tasmanian-Devil. His obliviousness to why I was upset in the first place only fueled my fire.

I refused eye contact, staring only at the ground, my thoughts returned to the mounting pile of verbal dirt I wanted to throw. But even in my rage, I knew I would have only seconds of satisfaction before we would both pay the price. Sin is expensive that way. It would bulldoze the hard-fought love, safety, and closeness in our relationship to the ground.

But I wanted to throw dirt, because I was feeling hurt.

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When the Storm Rages

When the Storm Rages

After my dad’s diagnosis in May 2008, our family was blessed with a trip to the Philippines by a very generous friend. It was quite an experience for me, having never left the comforts of first world before. I was excited to see pieces of history from both my dad’s life and Mike’s, as well as spend some concentrated time with the whole family.

Those times were precious given that we suddenly had a heightened awareness that our days together were numbered. I was thrilled to journey outside of North America but I must confess I was a little nervous as both the men in my life warned me of the potential “discomforts” and teased me about not lasting a day.

 

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Why "ME FIRST" is your Best Marriage Move in 2018

Why "ME FIRST" is your Best Marriage Move in 2018

Have you ever wondered, "How do I get him to change?" 

I did. I'm slightly/extremely ashamed of just how much I did.

How do I get him to serve at church? How do I get him to want to go to church? How do I get him to want to read His Bible? How do I get him to be more thoughtful? How do I get him to write in his journal? How do I get him to start doing this? How do I get him to stop doing that?

It's exhausting trying to be omnipotent. Perhaps you've done more than wonder — you've planned and persuaded, and, like me, discovered you in fact do not possess the same giftedness as the Holy Spirit. We can't make someone change, but oh, we are stubborn to try. We inform minds; we cannot transform hearts.

I'd be willing to bet if you didn't already know you couldn't change someone, getting married lead you to experiential knowledge of this truth.  

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Hope When Waiting has you Weary and Worn Out

Hope When Waiting has you Weary and Worn Out

As a mom of four kids, 6 and under, I’m well acquainted with waiting, especially during the winter season when the 2 year old and 4 year old decide to exercise their independence.

I have a love/hate relationship with wintertime. Prior to having children, I loved winter. The coziness of a warm fire and a glass of cocoa set against the backdrop of a shimmering frost covered countryside was where it was at for me.

After having children, winter became a little less idyllic — a whole lot of time spent indoors, kids going crazy, momma trying desperately to keep small people healthy and sane, and a lot of waiting.

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Hope When Home for Christmas Isn't What it Was

Hope When Home for Christmas Isn't What it Was

Every morning on December 25th from 1983 until 2008, we paused Christmas to give full attention to celebrate birthdays. Wrapping a birthday gift in Christmas paper was highly frowned upon, punishable by shaming. For that one hour, we celebrated their birthdays.

Before returning to Christmas morning, there was the annual picture of the celebrants, my twin sisters sitting on each of my dad's knees. As you can imagine, they fit a little easier in the younger years, but tradition lived on. We have almost 25 pictures of them on my dad's knee, including when his face barely poked out from between his adult twins perched on his knee. 

And then came May 5, 2008— the day he realized he would see Jesus sooner than he thought, and August 17, 2009— the day he actually did.

Christmas wasn't the same. 

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Our Christmas Catastrophe [Longing for Home at Christmas]

Our Christmas Catastrophe [Longing for Home at Christmas]

Why I thought it was a good idea to purchase a real tree once we had small people to haul out in the freezing cold, and have the extra responsibility to keep the tree alive in addition to them, and clean up after a tree in addition to them, I'm not sure. But off we went. 

We headed out with our then 8 month old baby to buy our very first and very frozen real tree. 

I racked my brain to remember the steps for successful experience from lot to house. I remembered my dad always letting it thaw in the garage but I couldn't remember why so I figured it couldn't have been that important, plus I was impatient and eager to get the thing decorated.

My brilliant solution: let is thaw inside. It's warmer than the garage and will thaw faster.

To make a long story short, it did thaw faster with the added bonus of puddles of water and piles of wet, dead pine needles everywhere. It was. huge mess and my amnesia was cured.

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How the LifeWay Women's Forum is like Christmas Mornin'

How the LifeWay Women's Forum is like Christmas Mornin'

Who doesn't love Christmas morning? 

Though the theme of the LifeWay Women's Leadership Forum was Steadfastthe word permanently sown deep into my heart is ABUNDANCE — ample quantity; relative degree of plentifulness.

If Christmas morning were 3 days long, Forum would be it.

When going for an 11-course meal, one expects to be eased in with something on the lighter side — perhaps appetizers or soup. Not so at Forum. Every one of the 11 sessions (general and breakout alike) was a spiritual feast in the Word, with the Word. 

Bring stretchy pants for your soul. 

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To Stephanie on her 32nd Birthday...

To Stephanie,

The older you get, the faster time seems to go. Fix your eyes on Jesus, run your race, fight for the narrow way, stay in your lane, and cheer for everyone who's running with you. Remember that letter I wrote you last year? It's overwhelming to look back and see tangible evidence of God's faithfulness. 

This past year has been quite a ride, and He's not finished. He never is. He who began a good work in your will carry it out to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. Now, you must keep your eyes on Him so you don't get entangled in anyone's adventure but your own. 

Leave behind fixing. Move towards healing. 

There is always more than meets the eye. Everyone is fighting great battles. They carry great pain. It doesn't matter if they're from the church or the streets, they don't need to be fixed, not do they want to be. You don't even like being fixed. Hearts need healing. Broken things needs fixing, but broken people need healing. Always, always, always, point them to the Healer, and be a safe person. 

Leave behind what is doable. Move toward what is sustainable. 

You used to sprint a lot. Sometimes you still try to, but this isn't sustainable. Run your race at your pace. Keep those anchoring beats in your life no matter how the tempo of life may speed up for a season. Always seek Him FIRST. We both know how He has a way of working everything out when our priorities are ordered. Him. You know them. Live them.  

Leave behind the elusive "best." Move toward wholehearted.

"Do your best and God will do the rest" was on that poster, but isn't in the Bible. "Best" is elusive. No matter how good of a job you do at anything, better is always there threatening to one up your best. Crucify this lie that it's never good enough. Trade it for wholehearted. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart as if you are working for the Lord. Wholehearted isn't always excellent; sometimes it's not even that good. But it's everything you've got. And He always wants your everything.  

Leave behind overwhelmed. Move toward overflowing.

Leave behind assuming. Move toward asking.

Leave behind wide. Move toward deep.

Leave behind big. Move toward small.

Remember, Dad said kingdom impact was about quality not quantity. 

Maybe the 40's will be the time for finishing things you start. Or maybe by then, you'll be sensible enough to start less. Either way, press on by grace alone. Jesus is everything!

Only by grace,

Your 32-year-old self