Faith, Facts & Then Feelings

“Cancel Conference” has been on my to-do list every day for 3 weeks. I just keep arrowing it forward. Because canceling means letting go of something I really, really want to do.

This is the conference I attended last summer that connected me with my tribe. Other women who are called by God to speak and to write. It was the conference where I met someone who gave my blog national exposure. And where a book publishing editor gave me a referral into an important year-long program that is building on those same skills.

Fact - Attending this conference is a huge commitment of time and financial resources that we just do not have right now.  Feeling – I will be missing a key step forward in my ministry if I do not go as well as a vacation, fun, excitement and motivation.

Our culture celebrates, applauds and encourages us to act and to make decisions based on what we feel. And although God certainly created us as emotional beings, too often decisions based on emotions are rarely our wisest choice.

I like the New Living Translation of Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Feelings change depending on the people and circumstances surrounding us. They can be affected by the weather, hormones, a driver who cuts us off, a difficult co-worker and so on. We need to strive to put faith and facts in front of our feelings. We need to live from a place of faith that is built solidly on the fact (truth) of God and his Word.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He is unchanging. His Word endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

In my conference situation, I need to let go of the emotion surrounding the event/decision and be a wise steward of the resources God has given me instead. I need to trust that in God’s timing and God’s plan other doors for my ministry will be opened.

If you are facing decisions right now controlled by feelings instead of faith and facts I want to encourage you to fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Let’s choose today to walk by faith and not by sight. Let’s look for answers to difficult decisions in the truth of God’s Word and not in our fluctuating feelings. Let’s choose to make decisions by faith first, fact second and our feelings third.

Precious Father, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Amen.

When Your Children Grow Up

Our daughters turned 18 and 20 this past week. The youngest technically becoming an adult (according to the state of Minnesota) and the oldest leaving the teen years behind. It is somewhat startling to look back and realize how quickly those years went by. And somewhat confusing as we move forward trying to “parent” our adult children and face an empty nest in the fall.

I have mentioned in a previous blog that I was never planning to get married and if I got married I was never planning to have children. Fortunately, God had different plans for my life that included a husband and children.

Over the years my husband and I received plenty of parenting advice from other parents, Bible studies, and books that helped us through various ages, stages and bumps in the road. But somehow, we missed how hard it was going to be to have the girls leave home. And they must have offered the “Parenting Your Adult Children 101” class when we were out of town.

When our first daughter moved way to college we decided we did not like the phrase “letting go.” But instead prefer the phrase “stretching the umbilical cord.” We wanted her to clearly understand that we would always be there for her when needed and that we would always be connected.

As I look ahead to the fall with both daughters in college I also think back to the verses we prayed over them as infants. Verses that ring especially true for our girls as they have moved and will move away from home.

When our oldest was dedicated as a baby we chose Proverbs 3:5-6 as her life verse. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Two years later we choose 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 for our youngest daughter. Which says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

On the morning our oldest turned 20, I woke up missing her so much that I cleared my schedule, hopped in the car, and drove 7 hours to spend part of her birthday with her. As she ran out of the dorm - huge smile on her face - and flung herself into my arms for the longest, tightest hug imaginable I could barely squeeze the words “I love you” past my constricted throat.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for daughters who know and love you. May they keep you at the center of their lives. May they make the choices they face prayerfully. May they seek your guidance and your wisdom daily. Amen.

When You Don't Feel Ready for Easter

On the Tuesday of Holy Week I feel like I should be writing a blog about Easter. But, honestly, I am just not feeling it. Although Easter is one of the latest dates it can be on the calendar this year, I feel like it snuck up on me - pushed aside by the busy, the worry, the fear and a preoccupation with situations that feel out of my control right now.  

This used to happen for me at Christmas as well. Mostly because I was overscheduled and running as fast I could from event to event, and store to store, until I almost ran right past Christmas all together.

That is until I finally slowed down, learned to say no to so many activities, and added Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, in 2013. It is a devotional for Advent that keeps me engaged in Jesus birth and focused on the true meaning of the season during the 30 days leading up to Christmas.

Knowing where I am right now spiritually & emotionally, I looked for a Lenten devotional back in late February and could not find one that was appealing. I have since found Preparing for Easter: 50 Devotional Readings from C.S. Lewis that I will start doing next year - which is not very helpful for what I am feeling right now.

I want to live in the victory of the resurrected Christ – not just at Easter – but every day, all year round, day in and day out. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

It is not too late to reflect on the true meaning of Easter or to enter into Holy Week (the events leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection) with a feeling of reflection and a heart overflowing with gratitude. Take time to read a Biblical account of the events surrounding Easter. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all tell the story of Jesus triumphal entry, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

As for me, I think I will post this blog and retire to my bubble bath with a copy of Liz Curtis Higgs new book, The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene. Because it is not too late to slow down, release the fear, release the worry, let go of the situations that feel beyond our control and give them over to Jesus so that we can more fully ponder the true meaning of Easter and what it means to us.

Precious Father - Thank you that through the sacrifice of your Son on the cross we have been resurrected into a new life that gives us the opportunity for freedom from sin. Please help us to slow down this week to anticipate with sadness Christ’s crucifixion and with eternal gladness his resurrection. Amen.


But Did You Pray for Them?

“Am I remembering correctly that you are a prayer?” A co-worker asked me this at a business meeting last night. When I responded with “absolutely” she then proceeded to share the part of her life that she felt needed prayer. I responded specifically by saying that I would be praying protection, direction and balance regarding her new endeavor.

Have you ever told someone you would pray but forgot to in the busyness of your day? I admit that I am sometimes guilty of this. Or time passed and the prayer request fell off your radar even though prayer was still very much needed in that situation? Or perhaps you were scrolling through social media and responded to a post with “praying” but just kept scrolling through your feed without taking the actual time to pray?

I heard recently of a pastor who instead of saying, “I’ll pray for you,” asks, “Can I pray for you right now?” instead.  An interesting concept and one that I was not ready to put into practice at the end of a business meeting last night. But one that I understand (immediate comfort to the person who needs prayer) and would like to have the courage to try.

Scripture encourages us repeatedly to pray and clearly paints a picture of a God who is listening and answers prayer. Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”  Psalm 17:6 “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me: turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is near to all who call on him . . .”

In our crazy, busy, hectic and mixed up lives how do we remember to pray for other people? One man I know keeps a handwritten list in his Bible that he looks at and prays through each day. He follows up with people to see if the prayer has been answered or if he needs to keep praying. Our Bible study group does prayer requests each week – some typing them into their phone or computer so they have them available to pray through during stray windows of time in their day. While other members write them in their study guides or a notebook.

Email, texting and social media can be a great way to bring a group of people together to pray for a specific need. Personally, I have been known to set reminders on my phone, put a post-it note on my computer or write it in my planner when I need to pray for someone at a specific time for a specific reason (test, surgery, job interview etc.).

Colossians 4:2 tells us to, “Devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” There are so many needs in the world around us. Prayer is our opportunity to connect those needs with a God who cares and is waiting with a listening ear. Join me this week in making sure that our words “I will be praying for you” match our actions.

Precious Father please help us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, please help us to be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18) Amen.

A Physical Reminder to Trust

I am wearing a new ring on the little finger of my left hand. Actually, the ring is 33 years old. Bought on lay-away over a 12-month period with my babysitting money in 1984. I walked into that jewelry store on the square in the small Iowa town that I grew up in and paid for it five and ten dollars at a time.

We have a tradition in our family that when a daughter turns 16 she is given a sweet sixteen ring. My parents let me pick out a dainty blue sapphire ring that our oldest daughter now wears. But I also fell in love with a black star sapphire ring that I determined to buy myself. This was a huge undertaking when you consider that I was paid $1 an hour for babysitting and that minimum wage for my after-school job was $3.35.

I had a year to pay it off before it would be put back in the case for some other lucky girl to buy. For that year, it meant setting a goal, staying focused and making some sacrifices (well, at least what felt like sacrifices to a 16-year-old girl). It meant giving my money to the jewelry store instead of going out with friends or buying some new clothes. It meant adding more hours to my retail job and adding more weekend babysitting jobs. It meant not giving up as I headed into fall with a huge chunk still to pay.

I am wearing it now and for the next two years as a physical reminder of setting a goal, sticking to it and persevering. We will have two daughters in college in the fall. The costs of college are astronomical and right now we do not have all of the funds that are needed. But we believe that they are attending the college God has called them to, that God will honor their choice, and that the finances will (eventually) fall into place.  

Which brings me back to trust - a common theme in my writing right now. I added this prayer request on the back of my church attendance card last Sunday – “Please pray that our family could trust in the Lord, lean not on our understanding, and in all our ways acknowledge Him.” This prayer comes from Proverbs 3:5-6 which goes on to say that in doing this He will make our paths straight.

“Trusting in the Lord” means that we believe God is who He says He is and that His promises are true. The God of the universe is the same yesterday, today and for every tomorrow. When we “lean not on our own understanding” it means grounding ourselves in the fact of God’s word and not in the fears of the world around us. “Acknowledging Him” means we need to be ever mindful of God day in and day out. It means choosing to serve him with a faithful and willing heart.

Precious Father – Thank you being worthy of all honor, glory and praise. Thank you that you have already walked the path before us and that you are in control. May we surrender the burdens that we choose to carry into your loving and capable hands Lord Jesus. - Amen


Where is Your Meeting Place with God?

Where is your meeting place with God? A sunny corner in a cozy chair with your Bible and a notebook? A Sunday morning church service filled with worship, teaching, and other believers? A camp or retreat center where you commune with God and nature? Or perhaps on your knees beside your bed in the early morning hours? I guess what I am asking is in what physical location do you feel God’s presence the most?

Jesus often went off by himself to pray and connect with his Father. The Mount of Olives seems to have been a physical location of particular importance to Jesus. Luke 21:37 tells us, “Everyday Jesus taught at the temple, but every evening he went to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.” Luke 22:39 says, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” John 6:15 says, “Jesus once again withdrew to a mountain by himself.” Away from the crowds and out in the open I am guessing Jesus felt God’s presence more strongly. In essence, it became one of his physical meeting places with God.

This has been a process for me over time that has come to mean a great deal in my Christian walk. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus says, “But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

When I finally got into the habit of starting each day in prayer and in his Word is was partly because I had finally figured out a physical space in which to meet with Him each morning. I head there with anticipation when I wake up because I know that God is waiting for me to join Him there.

Jesus regularly gathered with other believers and scripture exhorts us to do the same. I believe regular church attendance needs to be an important part of every believer’s journey. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  Matthew 18:20 reminds us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”

God created the church to function as one body with many parts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 describes God’s plan for the church. Verse 12 says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” Verse 18, 19 & 20 go on to say, “But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

Verse 27 sums it up by saying, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Not attending church not only hurts us but hurts other believers. The church body cannot function as well as it could because part of the body is missing when we do not attend. I want to encourage you to find a physical place to worship with other believers where you feel the presence of God.

Precious Father – Thank you for the example that you gave us in the life of your Son as he dwelt among us in human form. Thank you for scripture that encourages, exhorts and convicts us. Please give us an unquenchable thirst for your Word. Thank you for the physical places where we feel your presence here on earth Lord. Amen.

Weary? He Will Give You Rest!

I look into the tired and stressed faces of the people around me - including my own staring back at me from the bathroom mirror - and I think to myself there has got to be a better way. God created us to be more than the stressed-out, over-worked, endlessly-exhausted individuals that many of us have become or are becoming.

I have written on this before (January 24, 2017 - You Were Created for More Than This) but I think it is worth visiting again. The only place that we can truly find soul-deep rest is in our relationship with God.

We will not find it in a glass or two of wine at the end of the day, in a false sense of security from our friends on social media, or in an over-scheduled life that tries to fill the empty places. At various points in my life, I have been guilty of doing all of these things. How about you? What do you do to try to find rest outside of God’s best for your life?

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” This verse is pretty straight forward. But first we need to make the choice to slow down long enough to go to Jesus.

Matthew 11:29-30 goes one to say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Picture a yoke as two oxen connected together by a wooden bar hauling a heavy load. This life we are living right now is a heavy load for most of us. Are we going to choose to haul it all by ourselves? Or are going to choose to share it with the one person who can ease our burden and give us rest?  

If you feel like your head is going to explode, pop off and roll across the floor (my analogy for when I am stressed and overwhelmed) here are some practical suggestions that have worked for me in the past:

1)     Do a brain dump on paper before you got to bed. Write down everything that should be done, must be done and has already been done.

2)     Confess the sin of “I can do it all” and the indispensable person syndrome. Lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus. Be very specific and give them to him one by one.

3)     Practice self-care. Become convicted that time with God, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are non-negotiables and a top priority when you are stressed and overwhelmed.

4)     Be transparent with friends and family. Ask for extra hugs, an extra portion of grace and an outside perspective to help you separate the important “must-do” from the not so important “this can wait” (or be let go off all together).

Precious Father - May we submit to your yoke knowing that you are gentle and humble in heart. Help us to understand that apart from you we can do nothing. Thank you that in you we can find soul-deep rest. And Lord, may we find it in you today. Amen

When I am Afraid I Will Trust in You

I am afraid. Of my business failing. Of my ministry being put on hold. Of not getting healthy. Of the finances involved in putting 2 kids through college. Of so very many things both big and small. These fears are overwhelming me right now. And paralyzing me. And affecting my mood . . . and my sleep . . . and my appetite.


A children’s song that our daughters listened to over and over in their toddler years keeps going through my head today. It is not complicated. It just keeps repeating the same refrain over . . . and over . . . and over again:

When I am afraid I will trust in you,

I will trust in you,

I will trust in you.


This song is taken directly from Psalm 56:3 and it goes on to say in verse 4, “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.” Logically we know that God and his Word are the best anecdote we have for our fears. Emotionally we allow ourselves to spin out of control overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and worry.


Repeatedly in scripture we see the connection between fear, trust and deliverance:

Psalm 34: 4 - I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 91:2 – I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Isaiah 12:2 - Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.


Fear is not from God. It debilitates us, robs us of our effectiveness, and steals our joy. “Fear not” and “do not fear” are common messages scattered throughout the Bible:

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43:1 – Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.


When we are overcome by fear, worry and anxiety we have a choice. We need to:

Choose to believe that God’s word and his promises are true.

Choose to replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations from God’s Word.

Choose to be transparent so we can get the support we need from the people around us.


Please join me in praying:

Precious Father –

When I am afraid I will trust in you,

I will trust in you,

I will trust in you.


Pride or Humility - Which Will You Choose?

 “Pride goes before a fall” is an expression many of us have heard. I have personally experienced this in my workplace, in my ministry and in my relationships. Funny thing about pride – we can often spot it in others but fail to see it in ourselves – often before it is too late. 

Think of pride as an exalted sense of who you are in relation to other people and to God himself. Pride that points back to God is a good thing. Pride that points to us is not. When Paul takes pride in the growth of the early church or boasts of the many trials he has faced he is doing this to give God the glory. It is not about what Paul himself has accomplished but what God has done for and through Paul.

Have you ever taken the time to ask God to show you areas of pride in your own life? Or asked a family member or close friend where they see it playing out in your life in a negative way?

Here are some questions to consider as you look at how pride plays out for you:

Do you ever think of yourself as better than the people around you?

Do you feel that your way of doing things is often, if not always, the better way?

Does your sense of self-worth come from what you physically own or have personally accomplished?

Do you think your child, spouse, job or house are better than other people’s?

Do you dwell on past successes and not on present challenges?

Do you want people to notice when you do something good for someone else?

James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart, be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” It seems to me that if I do not choose to humble myself – God will.

At various points in my Christian walk I have read books and heard speakers who have encouraged me to humble myself. I was always uncomfortable with this teaching. I was blind to my own pride - often calling it “a healthy self-image.” Humility did not seem to be an attribute I wanted to cultivate.

Think of humility as having a realistic sense of who you are in relation to God and to the people around you. It is being honest about who and what you are. Being humble includes finding your identity in Christ and not in anything that you have, do, or accomplish.

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

When our focus moves from ourselves to others we go from being self-centered to outward focused. In an egocentric culture, completely focused on self, this outward focus on others becomes a powerful witness to the people around us. Which will you choose today – pride or humility?

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Forgive me for the sin of pride. May it be pulled out by the roots and replaced with a humility that puts you and others before myself. Amen.

Sharing God Through Word & Deed

I once told someone “I do not believe in luck. I believe in God.” This conversation occurred while I was living in Los Angeles as a newlywed. A co-worker, sitting on the sidelines observing my life, commented that I was one of the luckiest people he had ever met.

I got engaged and my fiancée received a promotion to move from Minneapolis to L.A. A couple at my church gave us reasonable rent to live in a gorgeous house in the hills. We got a great deal on the wedding ring and on a new car.

Where he saw luck; I saw God. I guess it is all in how we choose to look at things. My simple comment started an ongoing dialogue about God that continued off and on for years until time and distance finally ended the discussion.

How do you share how God is at work in your life with a neighbor, co-worker, family member or friend?  We need to testify to others about how God is at work in our life and what he personally means to us. Think of testifying as a two-headed coin. On one side “word” and on the other side “deed.”

Deeds are the actions we take and the service we give to the people around us. We need to ask ourselves - am I living a life that would point people to God or away from God? Would someone who does not have a personal relationship with God see something in my life that they would wish to have in their own life? Matthew 5:6 tells us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Words are the verbal testimony we give to the people around us. In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” For many years, I played it safe, only verbalizing about and giving credit to God to other believers. I didn’t feel qualified to share my faith with others; feeling that I lacked the necessary knowledge. Because of my fears, I missed many opportunities to share my faith and testify to God’s work in my life with other people.

There are several examples in the New Testament of Jesus urging people to tell what God has done for them. In Luke Chapter 8 Jesus casts demons out of a man who then begs to go with Jesus. But in Verse 39 Jesus says, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went and proclaimed all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.

We need to look for opportunities to testify to God’s work in our life and tell others about our faith. Not out of judgment or a sense of superiority but out of love and humility. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Precious Father – Please open our eyes to the opportunities around us. Give us the courage to acknowledge you as Lord in every area of our lives. May we show by word and by deed a personal faith that is attractive to the people around us. Amen.

My Valentine - Revisited

During my teen years I worked part time in a flower shop. Various times of the year got a little crazy. Valentine’s Day got a lot crazy. This was during my feminist stage when I had decided I was never going to get married. And that if I got married I was never going to have kids. And if I had kids I was never going to stay home with them. When I was a teenager “never” entered my vocabulary a lot.

God, however, had a very different plan for my life. I write this today as a married woman of 23 years, mother to 2 beautiful daughters (17 & 19), and as an owner of a business that allowed me to work from home so I could be a stay-at-home mom.  Not what I had planned but so much better than I could have imagined.

My husband and I met during a summer job in college. Our relationship started slow and built steadily over a 5-year period. We dated 2½ years in college and 2½ years by airplane between Minneapolis (his first job) and Los Angeles (my first job.) We married in the small Midwest town where I grew up and set up house together in LA.

We have worked through little issues (toilet paper over or under) and big (different religious backgrounds) to get where we are today. Having a wife who is a recovering porn addict is one of the big ones. My addiction was not easy on our marriage or on my husband. Having a wife who is called into public ministry with her story makes it even harder. When I asked him for forgiveness he gave it. When I answered God’s call he supported it.

Is it no wonder, then, that after 23 years of marriage he is still the person with whom I most want to spend time? This Valentine’s Day I thank God for a husband who loves me for who I was, who I am, and who I am going to be.

Precious Father – May we take time today to thank all the sweethearts in our life - friends, family and neighbors. Thank you Lord for loving us no matter what and for creating us for relationship with you and with each other. Amen.

P.S. If you have been following this blog for a while you may have realized this is a recycled blog from last February. I tried to write a new one but this one pretty much said what I wanted to say about my valentine.

Flattened By Grace

Flattened by grace (in the best possible way) feels like an accurate description. Overwhelmed by His love and mercy works too. I struggled so mightily last week to get this blog written and posted. And when I hit submit it left me feeling vulnerable and exposed. I awoke the next morning to my story being shared on a national blog.  You can read it here -

I went from averaging 3 shares a week of Transparent Tuesday to 75 shares from Jill’s site with my photo and the headline “When a Woman is Addicted to Porn.” And I thought I felt vulnerable and exposed on Tuesday! But what I felt most on Wednesday was humbled . . . and thankful . . . and loved. By a God who forgave me and a God who redeemed me and a God who has asked me to testify to the work He has done in my life.

I do not know what difficult thing you are facing today or what difficult things lie buried in your past. Too many of us live under the burden of past sin that continues to cripple us. In many cases, something we asked forgiveness for, which God granted, but for which we cannot seem to let go.   

We still feel guilty, or dirty, or unworthy, or less than.  We feel like we don’t fit in, are out of step with the people around us, or they all seem cleaner, purer or better than we are. Guilt that is convicting is from the Holy Spirit. Guilt that is condemning is from Satan. If Satan can keep us bound up in secrets, shame and guilt he wins.

There seems to be a disconnect between what we know and what we feel. We need to remember that our feelings are not fact. Confessing means that we agree with God over our sins and ask for forgiveness. I John 1: 9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God not only puts our sin out of sight (Isaiah 38:17); but he also puts them out of reach (Micah 7:19 & Psalm 103:2), out of mind (Jeremiah 31:34) and out of existence (Isaiah 43:25 & 44:22, Psalm 51:1, Act 3:19).

My prayer for you today is that you can let go of past hurts and poor choices to live victoriously in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells that we are a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away and the new has come. Can I hear an Amen?

As if 50 Shades Were Not Dark Enough

As a woman recovering from a pornography addiction I am concerned about a movie like 50 Shades Darker.  It is being released just before Valentine’s Day – billed as a romance – and promoted as the perfect date night. In reality, it is far from a romance, but is instead a graphic, sexually explicit movie about a modern-day sadomasochistic relationship.

Sadomasochism is defined as sexual activity, in which one person enjoys inflicting physical or mental suffering on another person, who derives pleasure from experiencing pain. Where, exactly, is the romance in that?

In researching the movie, the first movie trailer clip that loaded had this headline: Don’t Watch This 50 Shades Darker Clip with Your Parents (Obviously). Like the first movie, 50 Shades of Grey, this one barely missed an NC-17 rating which would have kept children under 18 out of the theater.

The MPAA rated it “R” instead for “strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity and language.”  This movie franchise has pushed the envelope in your neighborhood theater and expanded what is now considered acceptable under an “R” rating.

On the first page of a basic Google search I also came to: Speed Read: 12 Naughty Bits for 50 Shades Darker. The one-line description for that link said NSFW. Having not seen that acronym before I looked up the definition: NSFW is a warning for an email subject line. It means ‘not safe for work’ or ‘not safe to be viewed at work.’ It is used to warn the recipient to not open the message at the office or near young children, because the message contains sexual or repulsive content.

I could continue to give statistics and information on the movie that has already been released and the one that is soon to be released. I could back it up with more statistics on the staggering number of men, and now women, addicted to pornography. I could tell you that the 50 Shades franchise has normalized pornography use for women in the same way that the internet did for men.

Instead, I am going to tell you that my addiction to pornography damaged my self-worth, my self-image, my marriage, my relationships with the people around me, and my relationship with my God. It filled me with self-loathing and poisoned every area of my life.

I sanitized it for years with words like erotica and mommy porn. The reality is that pornography awakens our physical sexual desires but separates us from any kind of emotional or relational connection. Porn makes it about the sexual act and not about the other person who is involved.

OK, transparency time. (Like admitting to a porn addiction is not transparent enough!) It has taken most of my day to write this blog. I have sweated and researched and written and re-written and cried (tears and out loud to God).

I have worried that I have gone too far. Then worried that I have not gone far enough in the words I have shared today. I have worried about what other people would think. And yes, I have been tempted to watch the movie clips and read the 12 Naughty Bits excerpt.

My past feels like a thorn in my side today that I may have until the day I die. But I have prayed earnestly.  And claimed scripture wholeheartedly. And persevered in this task because God was faithful to me. And He will be faithful to you if this is an area in which you struggle or in which you are tempted. He delivered me and He can deliver you.

Precious Father – Today I choose to praise you for the hard stuff that draws me to you. I choose to praise you for a temptation that continues to haunt me and keep me humble. Thank you that your grace is sufficient for me. Lord, may your power be made perfect in my weakness. Amen. 

You Were Created For More Than This

I was hopelessly addicted to pornography for 5 years. Everything looked good on the surface but underneath I was struggling with an addiction that was slowly damaging my self-esteem, my self-worth, my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my husband. The stress between how I was perceived on the outside and who I really was on the inside was exhausting. I had built a wall between myself and God as well as anyone who could have helped me with my addiction.

I was created for more than that.

I know a young mom. Let’s call her Gertrude. (I love old-fashioned names - don’t you?) She has 2 little ones under the age of 3 and a husband who travels frequently for work. She is college-educated and gave up a great job to stay home with their children. Somewhere between the endless diaper changes and potty-training toddler Gertrude is afraid she is losing herself and the relationship she once enjoyed with her husband.

She was created for more than this.

I know a single woman. Let’s call her Harriet. She has wasted much of her adult years being discontent. With the apartment she rents; the roommates she lives with; the job she holds and the spouse she longs for. Harriett spends a lot of time thinking about “if onlys” and “someday I will . . .” as the days and years go by.

She was created for more than this.

I know a middle-aged woman. Let’s call her Mabel. She pulls in a great salary at a high-powered job that she believes in and where she is highly respected. Past hurts have left her finding her self-worth in her career and not in her identity in Christ. Mabel works long days and is conflicted about the extra hours spent at work which comes from time she would rather spend with her family.

She was created for more than this.

I know an empty nester. Let’s call her Ethel. She has spent the last 20 years devoting all of her time and energy into raising her 2 children. They have grown and gone and she is left with a husband whose interests no longer coincide with hers, a 20-year-old resume, and a lack of ball games, piano lessons and homework to fill her days. Ethel is at loose ends and feels as if no one needs her anymore.

She was created for more than this.

At last but not least I know a perfectionist. Let’s call her Matilda. She works long hours every day to make every aspect of her life pinterest worthy. Beautiful home, great sense of style, tremendous cook. Matilda gives the perfect gift, throws the perfect party and never has a hair out of place. She is also exhausted and lonely since she doesn’t dare show any of the hidden stuff underneath which would hurt the image she has so carefully constructed.

She was created for more than this.

Isaiah 40:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." God has everything you need at whatever age or stage you find yourself in today. My prayer for each of us is that we would find our identity in Christ and not in the label we wear or the image we project. 



Fill Your Mind With Good Things This Year!

True confession time. For my 16th birthday I really wanted 2 things – a Franklin Planner and to hear my favorite motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, speak live. I was given both by generous parents and still consider it one of my best birthday’s ever. My dad, in particular, really believed in the importance of positive thinking and I often listened to his cassette tapes by people like Zig Ziglar & Dr. Denis Waitley.

With a background like mine it was startling to realize just how (dare I say it) negative I have become in recent years. Not externally (at least I hope not) as much as internally where we do the most damage to ourselves. A large part of my negativity is a direct result of 5 years addicted to pornography. Talk about damaging your self-confidence and any feelings of self-worth!

The garbage that I put into my mind literally caused brain damage by creating neuro-net paths that kept leading me back to the same behaviors. Fortunately, Romans 12:2 tells us that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. For the most part we can control what we feed our brains and we can create new and stronger neuro-net paths.

According to - The brain is arguably the most powerful organ in the human body. After all, it’s responsible for everything from the way you move to what you think. It’s even active while you’re asleep, getting rid of all the unneeded memories from the day (among other brain trash) allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready to bombard it with commands and experiences all over again. To achieve all these tasks on tasks on tasks, those 85 billion neurons must complete upwards of five trillion chemical reactions each second, at speeds of over 260 miles per hour.

You may exercise and make good food choices to take care of your physical body. But what are you doing to take care of your brain? What we fill our minds with matters. What we read, watch and listen to matters. As author John Ortberg puts it, “The way you think creates your attitudes; the way you think shapes your emotions; the way you think governs your behavior; the way you think deeply influences your immune system and vulnerability to illness. Everything about you flows out of the way you think.”

In Philippians 4:8 Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Take time today to evaluate what you are feeding your brain. Listen to your own self talk. Make a conscience choice to screen what you read, watch and listen to.

Mark 2:30 tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” To do that to the best of our ability we need to work this year on the mental, physical and spiritual parts of our lives. Please join me in striving to improve all of these areas in 2017.


With God's Help - A Healthier You This Year!

The turn of the New Year for me means a new resolve to get (and stay) healthy. The concept of losing weight is changing for me as I get older. Once upon a time it was all about the number on the scale and the number on the clothing tag. Now I just want to get healthy, feel better and have more energy.

I stopped by my local Weight Watchers center on Friday to weigh in because I needed a starting point for the new year. It took me 5 days to get up the courage to look at the little sticker in the brightly colored book that showed my current weight.  216 pounds. A new highest ever (by 1 pound). Sharing my weight – that is something new as well. As is deciding that the number does not define me and that the world does not end if you know what I weigh. There is freedom in owning that number out loud.

I have decided to call all this growing, searching, and changing I am doing “mid-life maintenance.” It involves working on the whole me – mind, body, and spirit – with discipline and determination. A good plan regardless of what age you are. Personally, I want my last 50 years to be my best. To do that I need to be healthy so I have the energy, stamina and simple good health needed to run at all that God has for me. Job 42:12 tells us, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” Sounds good to me!

God gives us one body to go through life in and most of us need to take better care of it. The food we eat, the exercise we do, the hours we sleep, the stress we manage – all of it matters. If getting healthy is a struggle for you (as it clearly is for me) I would encourage you to invite God into the battle.

Tempted by poor food choices on a regular basis? Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except that which is common to man. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted, he will provide a way out.

Struggling to be more active?  Isaiah 40:29 tells us – He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might he increases power.  

Need a good night’s sleep? Consider Psalm 4:8 – In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety;

Having trouble managing stress? Put Philippians 4:6 into action – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


The Bible has a lot to say about the care and keeping of our body, God’s temple. Partner with God in your quest to get healthy and ask Him to bless your efforts. Here’s to a healthier you in 2017! It won’t be easy - but with God’s help - I know we can do it!

Make Daily Time With God a Priority This Year

Only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve them. Personally, I prefer to think of them as setting goals rather than resolutions. Either way I rarely stick with the goals I set around the New Year. Last year I set a goal to read through the Bible in a year. As a Christ-follower I need to make my relationship with God my first priority. To do that I need to spend time in His Word on a daily basis.

I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought the guide that had the format I liked best. I sharpened my pencils, bought a pretty notebook and cracked open my new book. By the end of January I was already several days behind in the daily readings. As the weeks went by I got farther and farther behind, until defeated, I gave up on my daily Bible reading all together.

Fast forward to September when I once again resolved to start my day in God’s Word. This time I took a fellow blogger’s advice and started each day by reading a Psalm and a chapter of Proverbs. Over 4 months later I am still starting each day with prayer and Bible reading. Current research has blown apart the myth that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Fact is it generally takes 66 days – or 2 months if that is a more palatable way for you to think about it.

Over the last several months I have become completely convicted of the importance of being in God’s word on a daily basis. It would have been so easy to let it go over the hectic holiday season and pick it up again after the first of the year. On a day when I actually prayed that the assigned reading would be short I opened to Psalm 119. Personally, I think God has a great sense of humor because Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the entire Bible.

All 176 verses are a clear, one-of-a-kind devotional on the importance of the Word of God. Memorizing the entire chapter would be a worthy goal to set. The psalmist uses many synonyms for the Bible as he writes. Words like law, precepts, decrees, command and statutes. Verse 18 – Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Verses 27, 28 – Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will mediate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Verses 33, 34, and 35 – Teach me, O Lord to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Verse 98 – Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.

May you make your relationship with God and daily time in His Word a priority in 2017. I want to close by praying verses 105, 108, 111, and 114.

Precious Father – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. You are my refuge and my shield; I put my hope in your word. Amen.

Reflect on 2016 Before Diving Into 2017

I have always loved a fresh start. The start of a new semester as well as the start of a new year. I am not a formal resolution setter but I am a goal setter. True confession time. I find a new calendar and a new year to be pretty exciting things. Turning that page to the new year gives me a focused opportunity to look back before I move forward. It gives me an opportunity to get out of any of the ruts I am in and create new and better paths.

The looking back part is kind of like writing your annual Christmas letter where you try to sum up your year in one page or less, hitting the highlights, skimming over the bad stuff, and sharing your very best photo. Except to truly look back at the past year with honest eyes we need to look long and hard at the not so good stuff as well. Some of which was our fault and some of which occurred through no fault of our own. The goal is to learn from our mistakes and make different choices in the coming year. To do the same evaluation this time next year and feel like we have made progress in a positive direction.

God created us as mental, physical and spiritual beings and I think we need to look back at all three aspects of our lives this time of year. Whether you are 8 or 88 I hope that you are on a journey to be the very best you - you can possibly be. Or as the wise philosopher, Erma Bombeck put it, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.”

John Ortberg, in his marvelous book, If You want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, says it this way, “As a crucial part of your calling, you were given certain gifts, talents, longings, and desires. To identify these with clarity, to develop them with skill, and to use them joyfully and humbly to serve God and his creation is central to why you were created.”

During Transparent Tuesdays in January I want to reflect on lessons learned in 2016 that will prepare me mentally, physically and spiritually for a better 2017. Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Precious Father - May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen (Psalm 19:14)

The Three Wise Women of Christmas: Mary

We conclude the three wise women with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Obviously the most important of the three women and by far the youngest. But both Anna and Elizabeth had an important role to play as well. Elizabeth was the mother of John who prepared the way for Jesus as well as being Mary’s confidante and mentor. Anna was the messenger who proclaimed the birth of the Messiah to all who would hear.

We meet Mary for the first time in Luke 1:26-28. In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Who is this girl that is highly favored? A young teenager somewhere between the ages of 13 and 15 since that was the average marrying age of a girl in that time and that place. From the obscure town of Nazareth in the district of Galilee. A poor, uneducated girl who could not afford to sacrifice a lamb at the temple but instead offered 2 doves.

Luke 1:29 – 31 goes on to say, Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Verses 32-37 explain how she will conceive as a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s reply in Luke 1:38 is an example of complete submission and surrender to the will of God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. With her answer Mary became the first person to accept Jesus on His own terms regardless of the cost. A cost that was high from the very beginning. As an unwed mother her reputation was ruined. She would have endured ridicule, scorn and judgement. A Jewish betrothal was much more binding than an engagement in modern times and could be broken only by divorce. Joseph had the right to accuse her of adultery, a crime punishable by death. By saying yes to God she was literally risking her life.

“Mary lived to see her Son mocked and ridiculed, spat upon, beaten with fists – and with whips. She saw His back ripped to ribbons, His brow bruised and bloody from the crown of thorns pressed into His flesh. She was there when a sword pierced His side – when He was nailed to a cross and condemned to a most brutal and humiliating death. She stood at the foot of the cross in total shock and utter disbelief. She watched Him die. Mary was also there three days later when the tomb was found empty, the stone rolled away.” Christin Ditchfield – The 3 Wise Women: A Christmas Reflection.

But as someone who was highly favored by God Mary trusted that God would meet her needs. The angel Gabriel tells her in Luke 1:36 – 37, Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. Scripture tells us that Mary hurried to Elizabeth. The only other person who could understand a miraculous pregnancy and divine intervention. To the one person who filled with the Holy Spirit would proclaim and confirm for Mary that she was pregnant with Jesus. In verse 45 Elizabeth ends her proclamation by saying, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Mary gives us an example of someone who accepts Jesus on his own terms regardless of the cost. Someone who puts her complete trust in God and as a result was the chosen vessel to bear God’s holy Son. Someone who truly believed that nothing is impossible with God.

Lord, give us the courage of Mary to accept your Son no matter what. May we put our complete trust in you knowing that nothing is impossible for God. And may we live a life that is pleasing in your eyes. Amen

The Three Wise Women of Christmas: Elizabeth

The second of the three wise women brings us to Elizabeth.

Luke 1:5-7 says, 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

There is a lot to unpack in these few verses. As descendants of Aaron they came from a long and prestigious line of priests. Considered righteous in the sight of God only two other people in scripture are described in this same way – Simeon who held the baby Jesus in the temple and Joseph, Jesus earthly father.  To Jews righteous meant faithful and serious in keeping all of God’s laws.

However, the next verse (they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive) tells us that they were not considered blameless and righteous to the people around them. In that culture at that time people believed that if you were barren it meant you were under divine punishment for some great sin. So Elizabeth would have lived a life filled with the suspicions and judgements of others. Not only that, but being barren was also considered grounds for divorce. If the husband chose to stay with his barren wife he could legally take another wife with which to have children.

And since “they were both very old” the hope of having a child had long since passed. Scholars place Elizabeth’s age somewhere between 71 and 99. For the sake of brevity I will sum up verses 8-23 since they are mostly about Zechariah and my focus is on Elizabeth. Zechariah had an encounter in the temple with an angel that literally left him speechless for about 9 months. Gabriel told him his prayers had been heard and that Elizabeth would bear him a son.

Luke 1:24-25 says, 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” In God’s perfect timing Elizabeth could not have become pregnant any sooner. Luke 1:17 tells us John was needed to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

In God’s great providence and care he brought together the only 2 women who could truly understand, comfort, and support each other. Luke 1: 39-44 unites Mary and Elizabeth at a key time in their pregnancies. One at the beginning still reeling from the shock, the other 6 months along.  39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. With these words Elizabeth became the first New Testament person to speak a prophetic word. What an amazing confirmation for Mary of all that the angel Gabriel had told her!

Verse 56 tells us Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. During those three months a much older Elizabeth had the opportunity to pour into Mary’s life, to affirm Mary, to encourage her, to mentor her and to confirm the word of the Lord to Mary. And I have to believe that Mary was huge help to a pregnant mother of a very old age.

The last we hear of Elizabeth is in Luke 1:57-58, 57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

Elizabeth shows us the power of hope and waiting on the Lord, the value of a patient heart, and the importance of obedience to God.  She also models a pouring out of one’s self into another’s life.

Lord, may we, like Elizabeth put our hope in you. May we be patient as we wait on your perfect timing. Help us to pour into a younger person’s life. And may we be obedient Lord to your commandments. Amen