Monday, March 19, 2018

Festive Praise!

1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
-Isaiah 61:1-3

I love this passage of Scripture. Jesus read the first two verses of this chapter in the Temple in Luke 4 and followed up with the words, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” GOOD NEWS! I love it!!

I’ve been playing this chapter on audio the past couple of days. Sometimes I just want to dig into a passage and I want to hear it over and over again! So thank you, Bible app for making that possible!

The whole passage is breathtakingly beautiful, but one thing that has jumped out at me is the phrase “festive praise”. God is promising to give us festive praise instead of despair. What a word picture! Not just regular praise. Not some sort of rote praise, if that can even be true praise. But festive praise!! And the fact that it is a gift is so beautiful to me! I don’t have to work it up. I don’t have to find it somewhere. God is going to give it to me INSTEAD OF my despair! So He takes the yuck and gives me the fun. What a good, good Father.

Would you think on this passage with me? Meditate on it? Roll it over and over in your mind. What would that look like for you? If you just trusted God with great abandon and took Him at this Word and gave Him all the things you may be despairing over. Big things. Little things. In between, you don’t know where to put them, things. Things that cause despair when even the whisper of the thought comes to you.

Despair means absence of hope, and that is something that you can be 100% certain God does not want for you. He is all about hope! He sent His Son for us so we could have hope for eternity, and hope for today, and hope for all the days between the here and the there. So that despair—it's not from God. He has hope for you. He is going to make a way where there seems no way. He’s going to order your steps so that you get to where you need to be. He’s going to give you festive praise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Simplify Romance

Well, Valentine’s Day is a whole month past us now. Whatever it was for you, there’s not another one for eleven months. Womp, womp. Or hooray. Wherever you stand! I love romance. I love celebration. And I love any chance to have some fun with my husband. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes for those of us who have a lot on our plates—which is to say, of course, ALL OF US.

Here’s the thing—my husband is never better than when I am spoiling him. When I am adoring him and blessing him and just loving on him in general. At the same time, it can take a lot of planning and work to spoil, to adore, to bless, to love on. Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think…

So I simplify. I simplify romance. Don’t check out on me cause it sounds boring. There’s something to be said for keeping the romantic fires burning instead of having a big old bonfire once a year.

I plan big dates, yes. I make big gestures, yes. But mostly, I just simplify romance. I keep a stack of cards and a pen in an easy to get to place so I can jot him a love note. I send him a love song on iTunes. I write him silly notes on a chalkboard we keep in our entryway. I buy him peanut m&m’s at Publix and put them fun places for him to find. I throw confetti at him when he walks through the front door on a random day just to welcome him home. Simple things. Silly things. But romantic things.

Takes me two minutes. No time at all. And it makes all the difference. Not according to me! According to him. As I was leaving to teach Glow not too long ago he told me he really hopes I encourage the women there to do nice things for their husbands. He tells me over and over again that me treating him this way makes him want to be a better man. So there’s the man’s point of view if you need a little nudge.

Now, of course you don’t have to do what I do. Maybe your husband hates peanut m&m’s and would only gripe at the confetti. But you know him. You know what blessing would mean to him. Do it! What do you have to lose? Take 10 minutes—come on…you know you have 10 minutes!—and list as many things as come to mind that would be simple and appreciated.

Simplify romance and be a light to your guy. Jesus told us we’re to be the light of the world in Matthew 5:14. What better place to start shining bright than in your own marriage?

Thursday, March 8, 2018


And not even the very, very first of March! THE FIRST WEEK IS NOW OVER MARCH.

Some of you are like, come on already, while the rest of us are like, wait—what has happened?! And isn’t that always the case.

I hope January and February were wonderful to you! And speaking of…all those January goals. How are they going? I bet we’re about half and half as a group. Is that being optimistic?! Half of us are killing it, half of us don’t even want to remember the goals we’ve set. Or maybe all of us are killing it at half our goals and have stumbled over the rest. Eh, it happens. We are…wait for it…human.

You do remember that, right?

You’re not a superhuman being that suddenly can accomplish every single thing you can dream up just because the calendar page turned to January. Or February. Or March. SHOCKER. You do, however, have access to supernatural wisdom and strength as a child of God. So let Him into those wishes and desires you had as the clock struck midnight back on the last day of December. Tell Him if you can’t figure out the how. Tell Him you want to know how not to fail in that area.

I am surprised by how many people I talk to that think some things are out of God’s field of concern. Like He really cares if you read your Bible every day, but has no interest in your desire to eat healthier. Or He is extremely concerned about you resurrecting that prayer life, but isn’t even remotely interested in your wanting to put some spice back in your marriage. Like we think God has a column of things for us: “spiritual” and “nonspiritual”.

Hmmm. Let’s think this through. When your kids have a concern, a goal, a hope, do you do some parental discerning and put those things into categories? Do you push some aside as not concerning you? I hope not! You may not understand it—that’s your humanity showing again—but you are certainly interested. If it's your kids' desire to teach your dog to say “I love you” (I have experience here), you will watch 1000 youtube videos to help them achieve this, even though you wouldn't have dreamed that up.

See where I’m going here?

God cares! And He is not human, so not only does He care, He delights in you and in helping you and doesn’t have that pesky not understanding you to deal with. He gets you. Read that again.

He is FOR you. On your side. On your team. Your biggest cheerleader. Your biggest fan. Let Him in! Even if you feel like you’re failing, or it isn’t a “spiritual” goal. All of our lives are spiritual if we are Christ followers! We are so intertwined with Him. Psalm 37:4 even tells us He gives us the desires of our hearts. That means He places them within you! He puts in you the want to want certain things. A great marriage? Check. A strong body? Check.

So toss the whole thing to Him! Cast your cares on Him! Let Him show you the how and the what and the where and when. ASK!

I mean, how could our old dog Jeb, ever have learned to say “I love you” if the kids hadn’t asked for my help?!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Blank Canvas.

2018: what a beautiful blank canvas!

Okay—so it’s got a little what what on it already. Maybe some imaginings: I’m gonna do this and this and this this coming year! 

Maybe some scribble throughs—uh, on second thought, that really wasn’t a great idea. 

But, for the most part, wide open. Over 350 days left to write on and color in and breathe in and live out til the year ends. 

My prayer for our Coastline women this year is that we do that with God. Many of you just met Jesus this past year—babes in your spiritual life! You are learning and falling in love with Him! How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

Many of you weathered unimaginable storms this past year. And here you stand. You and your God. Sometimes I’ve woken up this past year and found it sweeter than I can say that Jesus was still with me. Others have left. Others have abandoned. But not Him. You have found that, too. How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

Many of you are entering this year stronger than ever before. You have been growing and yearning and learning and you are on top of the mountain with your Lord. How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

And then many of us are a mixed bag! So much hard. So much good!! How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season we are in. 

Whatever it is, wherever it is, my prayer is that you know He is with you. That you walk out this season with Him. That you ask Him what colors to use on that canvas, when to paint furiously, when to sit back and just think about the big picture. I pray you wake up every morning with the sweetness of knowing He is there and go to bed every night knowing whatever the day held, He always held you. 

I can’t wait to see your canvas of 2018. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy December!

So do you have your happy happy Christmas pants on or what?! 'TIS THE SEASON Y'ALL. So exciting!!! My challenge to myself, and to you now, is...'tis the season for what exactly? 'Cause we have a choice. 

'Tis the season for...rushing and stressing and worrying and comparing and spending and going you know what crazy. OR 'tis the season for...peace and hope and love and generosity and good news to all mankind. 

I mean, obviously, we all say we want the second version of that scenario. But then we go and live out the first. I do, at least. I'm not very smart like that sometimes. 

So to help my own self I am writing these words at the top of my planner page every day of December: 'Tis the season. Just a reminder. I find the simplest things help me the most. It will only take me a few minutes to do it and then every day as I turn the page to fresh new day God has made, I will be reminded that I get to choose the kind of season I will have. 

God always gives us a choice. Life or death. Blessings or curses. You choose, He says. 

I'm gonna choose life as much as I can. I'm gonna choose blessing as much as I can. I know things can get sideways this time of year and it's easy to get off track from this kind of thinking, but I will have a brand new reminder each and every day. 

A brand new day to choose. 

'Tis the season for Good News. It'd be a shame to miss that. So maybe you will join me? With a written reminder or a sticky note or a phone alarm, whatever may work for you. You know you! 

Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dream Thief: Comparison

I love love love Pinterest. I love to look at Thanksgiving tables and Thanksgiving dishes and Thanksgiving decor and Thanksgiving everything. It's fabulous. As long as I keep it in context, it's a lot of fun and gives me gobs of inspiration. Where things get off track is when I begin to sigh to myself and say oh, I wish I had that. And that! And that! Can you say overwhelm?! 

Maybe you have a dream for a truly peaceful and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you do. Don't let anything steal that dream from you. Be aware of the dream thieves and give them no entrance. No matter how little they may be. The Bible tells us, after all, that it's the little foxes that spoil the vine. 

I take what I can from the inspiration--I love the look of 97 candles on the table, but I have 4 and they will do beautifully. I love the idea of making 42 dishes for the big day, but in reality, my family will only eat the same few things I make every year. It's fun to add in one or two new things, but overwhelm happens when I compare it to the 42 previously mentioned. 

Comparison thinking is such a little dream snatcher. Let's not let that kind of thinking steal this joyful day from us. 

Proverbs 17:1 "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."

I hope there's so so little strife and so so much peace for you this Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! Is it just me or is it crazy town that we are a week out from Thanksgiving! I am very excited! Family and food and fun and lots of gratefulness. I wanted to tell you a little thing I've been doing to prepare my heart a bit. Since I have been seeing Christmas decorations at the mall and Christmas commercials on the tv since BEFORE HALLOWEEN (sorry I had to scream that at you, but it is very emotional), I wanted to do something that would help me keep my mind and heart focused on actually giving thanks so that I won't miss the beautiful Thanksgiving season in the mad rush to Christmas joy. 

I simply bought a small box of thank you cards that are blank inside and began jotting down a note of thanks to my husband each day. Heartfelt and deep things like, "Thank you for listening to me..." to silly and fun things like, "Thanks for being so sexy!" It has been the biggest blessing to ME! But, bonus, he has been blessed by it, too. 

I cleaned the counter off yesterday morning and found his cards stacked by the coffee pot. I put them away, but when he came home he immediately asked where they were! Why in the world?! This was his answer: "I've been re-reading them every morning." Swoon. 

What a simple thing that has brought such great joy. Small investment, huge reward. 

Hey--you still have a week! Maybe you could do this for your husband, your kids, random people. Love on them while remembering to give thanks. Maybe you'll start a gratitude journal to God! But thank you cards work too!! 

Maybe you'll do it every day or maybe you'll write a longer one to hand on actual Thanksgiving day. There are no rules! Just an idea to bring some thankfulness into your days. 

Love you all!