Friday, May 22, 2015

Bad Posture

How's your posture?

Mine is pretty terrible. My kids are constantly reminding me to sit up straight, so it's definitely something I'm trying to work on.

However, until recently, I never gave a thought to my spiritual posture, and as it turns out, that could use some help, too. 

My daughter, Destiny, and I went to a Women's Tea at our church, and they played an older, recorded simulcast Women of Faith's Unwrap the Bible. Lisa Harper was the second speaker, and she talked about the healing of the woman in Luke 13 who was bent over double.

Lisa said we, too, are often bent over double. Jesus has already healed us, but we continue to stay bent over, listening to the lies of the enemy...stuck...defeated.

The entire time she spoke my heart was filled with an urge to share this message with a friend of mine, a sweet friend who struggles to accept God's love and grace in her life...who struggles to stand up straight and open her arms to Jesus.

When I got home, I HAD to send her the message. I felt the Holy Spirit's hand pushing me, so much so that I felt like I couldn't even eat lunch until I sent her the message.

It said this:

I have a word to you from God. We had a women's tea today at church today and they played videos by Lisa Harper and Christine Caine. God spoke to me and told me to pass it to you.... 
Like the woman in Luke 13:10, you are still bent. You are saved, but sometimes you are still bent and doubled over in a posture that can only see the floor. You are focusing on your wickedness (aka foolishness) and thinking maybe you're destined to stay there, but this is false humility and it's a lie - you are concentrating on your badness instead of God's great goodness. 
None of us is worthy. Not one...by ourselves. The ONLY thing that makes us worthy is our GOD and the sacrifice HE made in sending His son to save us. That means you are MIGHTY worthy because we serve a MIGHTY God.  
He formed you in your mother's womb and He knew every day of your life before you were born. He KNEW you would have problems as a teen and doubt your own value and try to find it everywhere that was wrong. He knew you would find HIM, and He KNEW you would struggle with ever feeling like He could love you, much less like you. 
But I'm here to tell you HE LOVES YOU and has loved you from the beginning of time itself. So now it's time to take the REAL posture of a child of God, which is not bent over looking at your feet, but is STRONG and STEADY and STANDING WITH THE ARMOR OF GOD COVERING YOU LIKE THE SOLDIER YOU ARE. 
The enemy has been defeated already my friend...it's time to claim the victory you already have and stop giving credence to the lies of the one who wants nothing more than to devour your joy in Christ Jesus. 
I'm writing this for you instead of calling you because I want you to read it over and over and over until you FEEL it deep within and you open your arms wide open to the sky and say: PRAISE GOD!! I AM CLEAN! I AM HEALED! I AM WORTHY BECAUSE I AM YOURS. 
I love you sooooooo much!!

I sent her the message, and felt SO blessed to have been used by the Holy Spirit! However, when that wore off, I realized my sweet friend wasn't the only one bent...SO AM I!

As a divorced and remarried woman who, with my husband, has recently started a marriage ministry, I often feel the ache of an unhealthy spiritual posture. Searing pain sears my consciousness as the enemy tosses the names of my past at me:

Failure
Stupid
Adulteress
Dirty
Fool 

I take the blows, and instead of taking up my armor, I crouch and crumble, bent double under the weight of my past.

But that's not how our God works. He is full of GRACE and LOVE, and the only time he wants us bent is in reverence to HIM.

Then, He wants us to look up, embrace Him, and accept the beautiful, amazing grace His son's sacrifice gave us.

So today, I'm working on standing up straight...and so should you. Take up your armor.

Put on your helmet of salvation, and make sure it covers your ears nice and tight so you can't hear the lies of the Deceiver.

Walk bravely out into this wide-world with feet shod with the peace of Jesus Christ, which surpasses ALL understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

Take up your sword of Truth, which is God's word, and accept that now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Warriors who have donned their armor cannot stoop. They stand straight..ready to do battle, ready to take orders from their leader.

So today, let's take up that armor; put it on; stand up straight and say: 

PRAISE GOD!! I AM CLEAN! I AM HEALED! I AM WORTHY BECAUSE I AM YOURS.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Heaven-Sent Smack in the DMV: Conviction Can Happen Anywhere

Today, I am going to share how it feels when the Holy Spirit hits you in the face with a two-by-four.

I suppose we could call it conviction, but...two-by-four feels like a more apt description.

Recently, I became a Brand Promoter for a company called Le-Vel. Their product, Thrive, changed my life. I felt like I was dying, and it made me feel ALIVE again! 

If you know me, you know I HATE to sell things. HATE it. Blech. So the thought of doing this didn't exactly excite me, but the product does!

So, today I was sitting in the DMV, waiting for Destiny to take her permit test (which she passed-yay!), and I thought, but it's not about selling! It's about sharing how much this product has helped me, and how it could help them! This could change their lives!

Then, right there in the black, plastic DMV chair, the Holy Spirit hit me right between the eyes - THWACK! And the pain sunk WAY deep, from between my eyes all the way down into my heart:

What if I was this excited about sharing Jesus with all my friends? What if I woke up every morning thinking about how I could share about Him, and it would change people's lives? What if I was so enthusiastic that I dreamed about telling people about Jesus and how He can heal them?

Yup. It was like that.

Then, IT GOT WORSE.

Do you know what my first instinct was? It was to BACK DOWN! I thought, maybe I should calm down the posting and sharing about Thrive. If I'm posting about this more than I am about Jesus, maybe I should post about this less.

I know!! It's totally backwards!! 

Yes, Thrive made me feel alive when I felt like I was dying, but Jesus, while I WAS dead in my sins and transgressions, made me ALIVE through His sacrifice (Eph. 2:5) . Thrive may have made me FEEL alive, but it is God's grace that gave me new life! Sharing this product will help people live better now, but teaching people about Jesus will help them live eternally.

One doesn't really compete with the other.

That doesn't mean I need to post about Thrive and Le-Vel LESS, but that I need to post about my enthusiasm for Jesus MORE. I have been praying non-stop about this business venture, so I have no doubt God wants me to share it with people, but I also know what's more important.

So, I'm a bit bruised. I feel really convicted...but excited at the same time. To be convicted by the Holy Spirit is a blessing! It's a reminder of God's amazing love and sacrifice and the gift He sent to live within me. It's a sign of pruning which helps me grow in grace and love.

So now, every day, I'm going to share...about BOTH! 


Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Next Day

*sigh*

The next day. The day after the whiny rant.

Here's the way this works. I feel a certain way for a looooong time, and I have a really hard time shaking it. So, I finally write about it to get it off my chest, and then God shows me why I'm wrong.

Actually, strike that. It's at that point, when I've opened myself up for the world to see, that my heart is finally softened so he can make his point...I think.

I'm a work in progress folks.

Anyway, regarding yesterday's little "rant," I've been convicted in the following ways:


  1. Wow. I am prideful. So prideful. This isn't really a shock to me because, as it turns out, almost every time I feel deep conviction, it's because of my pride. I want God to do this, and I want God to do that. Like the creator of the universe needs to bend to my will and do what I want when I want it. Prideful.
  2. The whole "I'm lost" thing is complete crap. Completely. Crap. I'm not lost. That's the point of the Good News. I'm found ya'll. I've been adopted by the aforementioned Creator of the universe. I CAN'T be lost. He knows the number of hairs on my head, and I'm not lost at all. He's just making me wait...spoiled brat that I am.
  3. A lot of my whining about my efforts has been that I don't feel they're fruitful, so I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. How do I know? In Galatians Paul says, "So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up" (6:9, emphasis added). Yup. Like Josiah noted last night, we prayed a lot before we started this marriage ministry and all along the way. It's not what I'M doing anyway (prideful again), it's what GOD chooses to do. I do the work, and he grows the fruit. 
God is making me wait for a reason, but He hasn't left me. He hasn't forsaken me. Why, then, have I been feeling so stinkin' ALONE?! 

Because of THIS. I haven't been doing THIS.

I've told myself that I don't have anything to write about, and besides, I don't have the time to write. Who has time to write?!

I do. 

If I've got time to mindlessly scroll through facebook, then I've got time to jot down thoughts about how God's working in my life.

See, I'm a verbal processor. In order to really solidify my thoughts, I need to share them.

I've told myself since not many people read this blog, it's a waste of time. However, I now know that's not true.

God has told me to write, and if no one else reads it, then no one else reads it. This is about me being obedient. As it turns out, God doesn't necessarily want me to write for other people; He wants me to write for me. So I can grow closer to Him.

I bawled talking to Josiah about all this last night. I asked where God was. I've been seeking Him every day. I used to feel Him moving in my life and speaking to me. Is He mad at me? Why has He left me?

He hasn't gone anywhere. He's just been waiting for me to obey Him so He could speak to me. For me, reading His word isn't enough. I've got to write about it in order to actually process and apply it. 

That's me. He knows it. He created me; every bit of me. 

You know me, God. 

In true God-like form, He also sent me a little word today, and of course, He chose to do it through a child.

Little Ryan sauntered into the dining room this morning before breakfast and said, "I did my devotion, Mom. It was on waiting. God makes us wait for birthdays and all kinds of stuff. I'm waiting for Phinehas's birthday!"

Then, he got his breakfast.

I pulled out his devotion, and read it. God is so awesome. The words and Scriptures that go with it are below:

While You Wait (from Jesus Calling for Kids, March 26th - he wasn't even reading the right date)

It is good to wait quietly for the Lord to save.
-Lamentations 3:26

Waiting is not an easy thing to do, but there is a lot of it in this world. You wait for birthdays to come; you wait for your ride to arrive; you wait in all kinds of lines. You even sometimes wait with worry for bad things that never happen.

Waiting on Me is different. You are waiting for the perfect timing of My plans in your life. Waiting on Me means trusting me with every fiber of your being instead of trying to figure it all out yourself. When you trust me - when you wait for my timing - I will fill your life with blessings. I will give you strength and joy and hope. And I will give you My Presence - while you wait.

I say: the Lord is my portion,
therefore, I will put my hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:24-25

You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.
Psalm 16:11






Friday, March 27, 2015

Lost



A few minutes ago, a young man who's wrestling with what to do with his future asked me how I got into the ministry.

I literally laughed out loud. Literally. L-O-L.

Is that what I am? I'm in the ministry? I mean, sure, I'd really like to be. I'd LOVE to be. I feel like that's what God has called me to do, but...is that what I'm doing?

I'm the director of our church's marriage ministry at church, but let's face it, that doesn't make me IN ministry. That makes me a glorified Sunday School teacher. And there's this blog...that I do nothing with anymore...that I avoid like the plague because it makes me feel like a failure.

I don't know what I am anymore or where I belong. I feel like I'm stuck at a crossroads screaming at God to tell me which way to go...but nothing...not yet.

Josiah and I don't know where we should be. Here? In Texas? Somewhere entirely different?

He's looking for a new job, but we don't know where that's going to be. Wherever that is, that's where we'll assume God wants us. But nothing yet.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I feel completely stagnant. I feel like no matter what I do to try to make a difference where I am, I'm just failing...so I wanna leave.

The nomad in me wants to take off for better pastures, I think. Maybe it's just not in my blood to stay one place for too long.

I just feel lost.

There's my confession for all you folks: I am lost.

I don't know where I belong. I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

I had a pastor tell me one time that if you'll pay close attention, you'll find God will send you people to encourage you on the path you're supposed to be on...they'll encourage you in the area of your gifts.

I've felt that feeling before. When I was trying to decide whether to stay home and homeschool or continue working, I felt like God put a lot of people in my path to encourage me to homseschool. That was my path.

But now...I feel nothing. No encouragement...not in speaking, writing, or the marriage ministry. Does that mean I'm not supposed to be doing it?

Maybe I've completely misinterpreted what God wants from me.

I've avoided writing about this for some time. I've tried to wrestle silently with the whole issue...to try to work it out with God in my head and my heart.

But He's been pretty silent on it. I don't know what that means either.

You know what I told that kid? The one who asked me the question a few minutes ago? I told him the decision probably wasn't important right now because if it was, God would make His will known.

You know what? I. AM. A. HYPOCRITE. Because I don't feel at all that way.

And I truly wish I had something more definitive to say about this...something that wraps it up in a pretty bow and makes it a lesson. Something that gives this rant value to anyone...even me.

But I don't. I just...needed to get it off my chest, I guess.

I'm sure I'll feel convicted about it tomorrow, but today...it is what it is.

Today I'm lost.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lessons Learned: Bombs Away

Well,  here it is: a post I have been avoiding writing, but one I really feel needs to be written. It's time to rip the band-aid off and share about a lesson learned. 

A somewhat humiliating lesson.

Josiah and I have formed a marriage ministry at our church: Compass Marriage Ministry. Last Friday, we hosted our first major event: Dance and Dine Your Valentine. We hosted a dinner and asked a local dance teacher to come in and teach the Tango.

It was SO much fun!

Everyone seemed to have a really good time, and everything went pretty smoothly...except one thing: the speech.

Josiah and I planned to go up and give a little ten minute speech to introduce ourselves, introduce the ministry, and give a little synopsis of what we've covered in our small group on Sundays and what we plan to cover in the next seven weeks.

Sounds okay, right? Well, in theory, yes.

But it was a nightmare. I bombed. It was like this:


It was like a ten car pileup. I kept trying to reign it in and do some damage control, but it was just a disaster. I just couldn't bring it around to where it felt like I was making any kind of point. 

I drifted. I wandered. I crashed. 

I say "I" instead of "we" because...well...I'm really the one who has more feelings about this. I'm the one who feels like she's supposed to be a decent public speaker.

I'm the one who feels called to speak.

Therefore, I feel like it was me that screwed up. I was given a responsibility, a chance to say something that might make a difference, and I just...lost it.

However, as with any experience, particularly the bad ones, there are lessons to be learned. Those I learned this time are as follows.

First, speaking responsibility shouldn't be shared unless both parties are very familiar with the material. Poor Josiah got material kind of tossed at him last minute, and it made for awkward segues and dropped information. I also assumed we would have two mics, but we only had one that we passed back and forth like a hot potato...ever so professional.

Next, I'll never again speak about what I think someone wants me to, instead of what is actually on my heart to say. NEVER. It was suggested that we speak about the classes coming up in order to create interest in our small group...but that's not what God laid on my heart. Maybe I'll write another blog post about what was actually on my heart, but it wasn't what I spoke about. Therefore, I didn't connect at all with what I was saying. It sucked.

Last, and most importantly, I flayed myself and my qualifications in front of a room full of sixty people. I felt like I didn't belong up there in front of them, so I made jokes about how Josiah and I met in a bar and really weren't qualified, and then tried to talk to a room full of folks who have been married far longer than we.

It was disastrous. 

Everyone was very supportive on the comment cards, but one person - a very kind, well-meaning, honest person - commented that they'd like to hear from people with more experience and had been married longer, those with real marriage testimonies.

And he (or she) was absolutely correct in what they wrote. They deserved so much better.

Mind you, we would LOVE to have other people speak: professionals with great advice and people with inspiring testimonies. Nevertheless, the comparison was heart-wrenching.

People want to hear from someone who's qualified...NOT me.

But then...then I remember that God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I knew that (heck, I even said it Friday night), but the meaning of the phrase changed in my eyes.

Somehow, I thought the phrase meant I really didn't have any qualifications, but God called me to do it and, therefore, I am qualified...somehow. But honestly, I hadn't really figured out how.

What I now realize, however, is that God HAS given me qualifications, not just by virtue of having placed me in the position, but by the path he allowed me to take to reach the position.


  • He helped me survive a very unhealthy, and sometimes abusive, relationship that lasted over a decade. 


  • He has given me the opportunity to have five beautiful children, which means I understand what it's like to have a marriage with children at many different stages AND a blended family.


  • He led me on the path to Liberty University, where I not only graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology and Business, but I also took classes on Christian Leadership and Christian Life Coaching.


  • He gave me a love of knowledge and learning and a passion for marriages, which means I'm devouring every book and study I can on marriage. I have a pocket full of experts I can pull out at any time, and I love to lead people to great information that will help their relationships with God and their spouses grow.


  • He gave me the spiritual gifts of teaching and exhortation which, in most circumstances (although not last Friday), gives me the ability to speak well and passionately about what He puts on my heart...when I have the sense to follow it. 


  • And, He gave me the wonderful intellectual gifts of analysis and introspection, uncommon for many super-extroverts like myself, so I can reach deep into my failures (like this one) and turn it into a lesson that will help me grow, and if I share it, may just help someone else grow, too.


Thus, I am qualified to stand in front of a room and make a speech on marriage because I know all-too-well the pitfalls this world and our sinful natures create for our sacred unions, both with Christ and one another. 

God may not have given me the same qualifications as the normal marriage ministry director, but nonetheless, He's given me qualifications.

Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he could do anything through the strength of Christ (4:13). And in his second letter to the Corinthians he said that God's grace was sufficient for him, and that he would boast about his weaknesses because it was in them that God's power shines through (12:9).

So, there you go. I bombed. But it was worth it just so I could analyze it and come out on the other side knowing that God didn't place me in my position JUST to humble me and show that He has a keen sense of irony, but also because maybe, just maybe, He's given me an interesting set of gifts and experiences.

And that's what I leave you with today. If God has put you in a position, and you feel you have no right to be there, think again. The Creator of the universe put you there, and I'm betting that, while you may not have the typical set of credentials, you have everything you need to do the job that HE set before you.

God has a plan for each of us, works that we were created to perform, that he prepares for us and prepares us for.

So, let's get to it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Quick and Dirty Talk About Modesty

A few minutes ago, a friend of mine posted this article about modesty and men's struggles. It's a pretty decent take on things, and it's worth a read.

This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, and has been the subject of many of Josiah's and my discussions. Therefore, the comment on my friend's page was so long I had to delete it and turn it into a blog post.

For those of you who aren't familiar with my "quick and dirty" posts, that just means they are written in a mad dash and no real editing has been done.

First, regarding the male's struggle with visual stimuli, I won't even pretend to get it...because I DON'T. We just don't. We all THINK we do, but I realized very recently that "men are visual" actually means something entirely different than I thought it did.

Within the last couple weeks I read For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, and it was a game-changer. In it, she deals with this topic and explains what actually happens physiologically when a man sees a woman he finds attractive: an ENTIRELY different region of his brain lights up. You'd have to read the book to get the particulars, but it's one of the regions at the base of the skull...the part that registers pure biological instinct like hunger...or, for men, looking. That doesn't happen for women.

The reason I say this is a game-changer is because MEN REALLY CAN"T HELP IT...at least the first look. It IS up to them whether they continue to look after that point, but the struggle is real...and it is a STRUGGLE.

Now, regarding what women should and shouldn't wear, I don't think there's anything universal for that, I don't ever want to be legalistic about something that's not specifically described in the Bible. I will say this, though, the Bible does tell us that we should dress modestly, so we should at least think a little about that before we walk out the door with pieces showing.

But, there are a couple things no one is talking about.

Like...men's struggle with porn.

I know what you're thinking: WHAT?! Everyone is talking about that!!

But are they really? Sure, the man that wrote this article says he struggles, but Josiah and I have talked about this, and while Christian society is saying this is a problem, it's a problem no one seems to HAVE.

Hey fellas, any of your buddies tell you recently that they have a porn problem? Ask you to pray for their purity? Ask you to help keep them accountable?

No? Huh.

We are setting our Christian men up to fail, ladies...our husbands, our sons. They're roaming around in a world that tempts them at every turn, but we've shamed them to the point of suffering in silence.

They try to deal with the sin on our own, but no part of the body of Christ was ever meant to struggle alone.

So, that's the first thing no one is talking about - no one is fessing up to this habit.

The other thing no one is talking about is the female counterpart to this habit - and I don't mean romance novels, Nicholas Sparks movies, or a million shades of gray.

I'm talking about our need to be seen.

I know what a lot of you women are saying: I couldn't care less if men look at me! I never even think about it.

But I think that's a lie. I think we all care. I think we all want attention. We want to be seen and noticed by men. (Well, if you're heterosexual, but if you're not, then that's just a whole different issue.)

At the very least, I know this is true of me. Gary Thomas said something along these lines in one session of Sacred Marriage, and it really made me think: am I concerned about what my husband thinks of me or what other men think of me.

Well, Josiah, of course!! my self-righteousness said. However, something else nagged at the back of my mind. If that's true, then why do I still cry in front of my closet when I feel like I look awful...and my husband has told me he thinks I look beautiful.

That's a conundrum.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized what other people think, particularly men, does bother me. I hate that men don't ogle me like they used to when I was younger and thinner. I hate that I'm not noticed like I once was.

When I'm super hormonal and staring in the mirror with tears and snot running down my face, I say to myself, What happened? I used to be beautiful!

It's like Memory from Cats in my head.

And maybe I'm alone. Maybe I'm the only one that feels that way...but I don't think so.

I think any woman who gives this even a bit of honest self-analysis will probably feel the same way.

And, ladies, that's what WE need to get under control. It's not always WHAT we wear, but WHY we're wearing it that truly makes a difference.

Well, there it is...my rant on yoga pants, porn, and attention-seeking. Take from it what you will.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dust It Off

Every now and then, God gives us a chance to really take a good, long, objective look at ourselves... and sometimes, it's just plain ugly.

But sometimes, He allows us to see some beauty we normally wouldn't have seen.

I was scrolling through facebook today when I saw these words pop up on a status for Intentionally Yours ( a marriage ministry I follow):

So, today, you have a choice to make. Are you going to let the dark threads of your life weave themselves into a portrait of hopelessness and devastation? OR, are you going to, with determination and intentionality, grab hold of your Savior and weave a beautiful portrait of a life lived in His presence - light complimented by dark, vivid colors made all the more beautiful alongside the black and gray?
I glanced over it really quickly and thought, WOW. Those are beautiful words.

Then I looked again, a little harder this time.

Wait a second, I said to myself. Those are MY words.

I wrote a post recently about what I would say to women about being Intentionally and Wonderfully Made (you can read that here) because Destiny and I were going to a women's conference by that name. After the conference, I sent a link for the post to my friend, Sherry Jennings, who is one of the event's main organizers, as well as one of the founders of Intentionally Yours.

She told me she was posting the link. I had even visited the page. But still...

For some reason, I just didn't expect a quote from ME to go rolling by on my facebook feed. And more than that, I didn't expect to see anything I wrote touch me the way those words did.

When I realized those pretty words were mine...I cried. I laughed, and I cried.

I'm not saying I'm a brilliant writer. I'm not even saying I'm remarkably good. What I am saying, however, is maybe, just maybe, God has blessed me with more talent than I've been giving Him credit for.

And maybe, just maybe, I should dust off that talent I've shoved on the shelf and make better use of it.

How about you? What talent or gift have you been hiding away?

God gave us these gifts for a reason, and I'm positive it wasn't so we can hide them away or disgrace them by comparing them to what He's given others.

So grab your gift from the shelf, dust it off, and USE it. We're all waiting to see what you'll do...the Giver of the gift most of all.