Wednesday, May 31, 2017

He Gets The Job Done

I’m still thinking about confidence and it got me thinking back to the first Bible Verse I ever memorized—Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has a begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  

I remember hearing that and loving it. Loving the promise and possibility in it. I was a fairly new follower of Christ and I knew that I knew that I knew that He had begun this great work in me. This work of change and transformation and restoration. I could feel myself coming more alive. I never wanted that feeling to end.
So when I found this Verse, I thought “Yes! This is for me!”, and I clearly remember writing it out with a purple pen on yellow paper and sticking it on the front of my fridge. My kids were littles then, so I was in that kitchen often. I read that sentence over and over and over. It became a part of me.
And of course life happened and business barged in and my mind was preoccupied, and that “feeling” of being more and more alive sort of faded. But this Verse was in me by this point. The Word of God is living and active (see Hebrews 4:12), and it would rise up right inside of me and seem to whisper “remember….” I put that Verse on my fridge 20 years ago, and it still lives in my heart.
Can I encourage you to memorize Bible Verses? God is His Word, we are told in  John 1:1, and when you are thinking on His Word, the Bible, you are thinking about Him! And since it is living, and since it is active, it is actually doing something in you as you think about it. It’s a miracle.
The miracle, for me, from this single Verse was probably more extensive than I can put into words. But I know this happened: As I read those words over and over “being confident of this…”, I really did become confident. In Him. In His Work. In His faithfulness. And that confidence keeps growing. This Verse has really been a gift that has kept giving to me on my journey with the Lord.
Maybe that’s when God began to show me that though I can’t always be confident in myself, because I am a human and I make mistakes and as bad as I may not want to, I do still sin and fall, I can certainly be confident in Him. My confidence in Him is never misplaced because the One Who started the work is well able to finish it. The Artist Who began drawing this new life of mine certainly knows what colors to add when, what to highlight where, what to erase when I get my own pencil involved.
I challenge you to pick a Verse to memorize this week. If you aren’t reading your Bible right now and “picking a Verse” seems overwhelming in such a big Book, then I challenge you to start reading the Bible in the Book of John (last half of the Book, just check the table of contents) and as you read through it this week, this month, I bet a verse leaps off the page for you. That’s a good place to start cause it tells all about Jesus. Or, you can just take this verse I’ve written about today! 
Whatever you choose, I know God will make it alive in your heart!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Two Sides of Confidence

Confidence seems to be a theme lately. In my own heart, in discussions I’m having, in things and people I’m reading about. Courage, too. How do you define courage? What about confidence? I wonder if I don’t get them mixed up sometimes! I view confidence as more of who I am—when I learn I am worthy because I belong to God, then I become confident. I see courage as more the “how” to walk out the “who”. If I live out my everyday destiny for God, leaning on Him daily for the smallest to the biggest things, then I’m living courageously, in my mind.
I love both words. I want to live both. I want to be a woman of confidence and I want to be a woman of courage. I know I need God for both.
Let's talk a bit about confidence.
The confidence I want comes from seeing myself through the eyes of God’s Word. Because that is true, that is possible. I really am what it says I am! It is not a burden to carry, it is more a destiny to live out.
In a merely earthly sense, confidence becomes a burden when it is all about “living up” to some image, or “proving” our worth, or sustaining some reputation. That all comes from self-effort. 
But real confidence, in my view, isn’t based on personal effort at all—it is based solely on faith. Faith that I am who God says I am. And then it transforms me, because I am no longer confident in me; rather, I am confident in God in me.
Let me tell you from personal experience, the difference in the two makes all the difference! Life becomes more beautiful and freeing when we realize it isn’t about us, but about Him. In our pursuit “Everyday Glow”, we aren’t endeavoring to shine our own light for ourselves, by ourselves, but we are shining God’s light in us. Bringing Matthew 5:14 to pass: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”
It is a mind shift that goes from culture thinking to Kingdom thinking. Look at it like this:
You are beautiful. But you are not valuable because you are beautiful. You are valuable because you are God’s.
You are intelligent. But you are not valuable because you are intelligent. You are valuable because you are God’s.
You are sassy and witty and hilarious and the best storyteller and a fashion queen and a fabulous chef and a hands-on mommy and a thrilling wife and a straight A student…and on and on…and hooray for all those things! Celebrate these things! Cause God is gifting you with those things! But you are not valuable because of the gifts—you are valuable because of the Giver. You are valuable because you are God’s masterpiece. And it is because you are God’s masterpiece that you are beautiful and intelligent and sassy… see what I’m saying.
Cause the day may come when beauty fades and intelligence dims and sassiness has left the building. But you are still oh so valuable. Because being His never changes.
I hope you have a wonderfully confident day! Confident in knowing Whose you are! 
Love you all!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Our Favorite

Jason and I love to read books together. This started on our honeymoon. We drove to our destination and I read aloud the whole way. We got the biggest kick out of finding out the book we were reading was set in the same county we were staying—we had no idea! So a love affair of reading together was born. We’ve never stopped. And, yes, I know there are audiobooks now with better readers, more inflection, even accents. But there’s nothing like Jason and I hanging out and getting into a book together with our very own voices and stopping to discuss this character or that mystery. We always have a book going.
I wanted to share our favorite author with you today in case you are in need of a great book and haven’t heard of him. His name is Charles Martin and you need to exit this blog right now and buy every book he has ever written. There are no duds. He is amazing at capturing us. People. Our faith struggles, our human struggles, our defeats and our victories and our sorrows and our joys. You will laugh. You will cry. You will be addicted. You will say along with my husband, “Why can’t all authors write like this?”
So you are welcome.
As a side note to the author referral, please do what God has gifted you to do. Don’t be afraid of man, of rejection, of all the what if’s that come out of actually living out your dreams. There will probably be some rejection, unfortunately. There will be some down days where you doubt yourself. But there will also be people watching you live out God’s gifting whose breath is taken away. You will leave us inspired. You will leave us hopeful. In Charles martin’s case, there are two people in backyard loungers saying, with tears running down their faces, THIS IS SO GOOD. He’s living his gift, showing God’s goodness. I’m so glad he didn’t decide to be something else. Hey you—don’t decide to be something else. 

God has gifted you, too. I don’t know what it is, but He does, and He wants to tell you! And if you already know it, He wants to direct your steps to show you how you, too, can show His crazy good goodness by living out the beautiful gifts He’s given you in front of others.
I’m waiting. Leave me breathless.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


What are you thirsty for? Not in the physical sense, but in life. The actual definition is parched, feeling the need to drink something. Jesus, of course, knew that we would be thirsty in our souls for something beyond ourselves. That’s why He told the woman at the well: “Those who drink the water that I give will never be thirsty again” in John 4:14. Again, in John 7:37 He tells us, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me!” So what are you thirsty for? Parched for? Longing for?
I came across a Verse today that made me think of all this. Romans 2:29: “A person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” God knows us well, doesn’t He? He knows that longing for praise from men instead of from Him leads to all sorts of missteps. Mistakes. Regrets. So He changes our hearts, if we let Him. To long for and thirst for Him and His acceptance rather than from people. People are fickle—we can like one day, dislike the next, approve one day, disapprove the next. Not God. He’s the same forever and ever and ever. And when you do drink of Him, come to Him for your needs and your approval and your acceptance, He will enthrall you! You’ll be full. Your heart will be full.
He has exactly what you are longing for, whether you know how to articulate it or not.
The woman at the well could have been any of us at one point or another, really. She was thirsting for things. Maybe love. Maybe acceptance. Maybe hope. Maybe stability. Read her story for yourself in John 4:4-32. It's awesome. Thing is—she didn’t know what she was thirsting for because she was trying to quench that thirst with things in this life. Jesus was the answer to her questions, the very thing she was seeking. He is the answer to ours as well. He says the same thing to you, you know. ANYONE can come to Him to drink Living Water.
Back to the Verse in Romans—when He does quench your thirst—when He gives you peace and joy and love and hope, you have a changed heart. And when you have a changed heart, you will seek praise from God and not from people. You won’t be running after people’s approval, you’ll be looking to God alone for His acceptance. 
Go to Him today. He’s got just what you need.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Feel Good Friday

I am hoping for an amazing weekend for you and for me and for our people. I hope for us that it is fun and zany and silly and light-hearted and not so heavy laden. I hope you live every moment and then you take a mental picture and save it away in your heart and mind to enjoy on the weekends that maybe aren’t so fun and zany.

If this definitely isn’t the weekend for you to do that, I hope you reach back into your mental picture files and pull up some memories of some ones that were. I’m forever grateful God allows us to store so many memories up there. Some I could do without, of course, but the vast majority are happy and hopeful and bring all kinds of pleasure. I love taking those good times back out for a spin on weekends where good times are in short supply.
Whichever kind of weekend you are experiencing, find some good things. Close your eyes to capture the image of your kids getting all kinds of muddy on one of the first weekends of summer. Close your eyes to capture the way you feel when your spouse says I love you. Close your eyes to capture the laughter that came out of you when your dog raced and raced and raced around the house for no reason whatsoever. Those are some of my good times, anyway. I believe you’ll find your own. 
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

So Much Fun

Have you ever read this account of a day in the life of Peter and Jesus? Take a look:

On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. 

But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”

“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” Matthew 17:24-27
Does this not prove how FUN Jesus is? How light-hearted? How understanding? There had been a lot of heavy stuff for Peter lately. Jesus knew this, and He knew what was coming in the coming days. He had some options here. He could’ve not said anything at all about the conversation. He could’ve taken a serious turn. But I think Jesus knew Peter could use some fishing. 
To get what they needed, Jesus gave Peter a fun, even frivolous task. I love that! He could’ve just given Peter the coin outright—He is Jesus, after all. But Jesus knew Peter. He knew Peter loved to fish. So Jesus sent him fishing! Fishing for money. How about that. And what a way to provide the coin—just open the mouth of the first one you catch and there it will be! Poof! SUCH A FUN JESUS!
What a God to give such a creative solution to a problem. I’m asking God to help me remember this is Who He is—the Creative One. Whatever my problem may be, He has a solution. Want to join me in that prayer?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Momentum: Quiet Time

I find I need to start my week with momentum. If I’m going to end well, I need to start well, and I need that momentum from a good start to keep me going. I gather strength and strength and strength from that good beginning and it keeps me going through the lazier times where I might want to quit or falter.  One of the best ways I keep momentum and keep my focus through my week is through my quiet time. I know there are many definitions of quiet time, here is mine: I just take the first moments of my day and spend them with God. There’s no specific schedule—I just pray and read the Bible and listen. I try to give God my day and all that it entails: my thoughts and my time and my actions and everything I have planned and everything I don’t know about yet. 
People will ask me sometimes what has made the most difference for me in growing in the Lord. This is it, without a doubt. How can you get to know a person unless you spend time with them? We are told often what God is like—I like to find out for myself. Also, you can’t have true transformation without time spent in the process. I want to be transformed into looking and acting and thinking more and more like Christ. So I spend the time.
Not only has this led to relationship and transformation, it has helped me keep my focus through my days and weeks. Thus, the momentum. I don’t know if I can explain this fully. This verse does it better: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
When I “wait” on God, when I take that time with Him, I’m renewing my strength. It is filling. And when I enter a day and a week that is draining, that strength I gain from Him keeps me flying and running and walking. 
If you’ve never tried to spend some time alone with God, I encourage you to try it. Better yet, I double dog dare you. It will change you in the best ways. And if you have done this as a spiritual discipline, but haven’t been consistent, I encourage you to get a string of days and then weeks and then months together where you give God part of your day. It is certainly not so you can get a gold star for making a new habit, it is so you can live in strength, not having to work up new strength each day. It's so you can keep your focus on God more instead of having to remind yourself over and over and over that you wanted to keep Him a priority this year. It's so you can wait on Him and learn from Him and learn to trust Him and move forward in the renewed strength that He promises. Momentum. It’s a good thing!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

He is Powerful

There is this lady in the Bible, in Mark 7, who is seeking Jesus. She is desperate—her daughter is in need. The Scripture notes that she is not a Jew, she is a woman. All sorts of cultural things going on here. But she is concerned with one thing and one thing only—Jesus. She needs Him. And she asked Him for His help.
And He gave it. 
Right where He sat. What a great reminder of the authority of Jesus. He did not see this lady’s daughter. He did not touch her. He didn’t even ask the details of where she was or what she was doing. He just delivered here from right where He was to wherever she was. He is ALL powerful like that. 
Sometimes I forget how powerful He really is. Sometimes I get caught up in cultural or church-y things (ie: am I doing it right?), when what I really need to be doing is simply falling at the feet of Jesus and saying “I need You!” Sometimes I think He needs all the details and maybe a little advice—“here’s how you should do this thing, Jesus”, instead of just saying, “I need You!” Sometimes I get too caught up in how in the world can He ever answer this instead of only concerning myself with my part of it—“I need You!”
Getting into all the how’s of prayer—How could He answer? How is this possible? How could He do it?—is really not my business. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26. I needed this lady to remind me to quit looking at all the ways the situation may be impossible and run to the feet of the One Who makes all things possible. 
I needed to be reminded of the power of God. It is so far beyond my thoughts or my senses. This lady received what she needed for her daughter because she kept it all about Jesus. I think I’ll learn from her.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Glow This Summer!

We had an amazing semester at Glow! Thank you to all of you who came and were fully engaged and seeking God. There was a sense of relaxing in God and taking deep breaths in Him. God is faithful—He will always be there when we seek Him and He did not disappoint us this semester. So I praise God for all the sweet and special and spectacular things He did in and through the women of Glow these past few months. 
Of course there were many of you who weren’t able to come, and that’s the great thing about our God! He is faithful not only in church buildings, in Bible study settings, or churchy meetings. He is faithful when you’re drinking your coffee in the morning. He is faithful when you’re at your sink doing dishes. He is faithful as you are doing your morning exercise. Wherever you are, whatever you may be doing throughout your day, He won’t disappoint you either. He will always be there when you seek Him. He will do sweet and special and spectacular things in and through you. And, you know what? I praise Him in advance for that!
The semester has come to an end, but I will still be keeping in touch this summer through this blog. It's just a “hey-howdy” from me, hoping to encourage you and love on you a bit over the next couple of months. I hope you glow every day this summer. I hope God gets bigger and brighter in you, in your mind and heart and spirit. And that He just spills out of you into your world. 
I love you all and I’m excited for a great SUMMER!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuna Tuesdays

We do a fun thing with our pastoral staff on the first Tuesday of every month—Tuna Tuesdays! Since we’ve been talking so much about celebration, I thought I’d throw this in. It's super fun, super NOT serious, and super relaxing. My husband will grill or smoke fish—spoiler: sometimes it is not, in fact, tuna. Sometimes it is actually Tilapia Tuesday or Salmon Tuesday. Don’t judge us.—and everyone else will bring sides. Not too much work for any one person. The kids play and run and scream and the adults talk and laugh and eat. It’s a great night.

We deal with serious stuff all the time. People who are in life altering situations, every single day. We hear the horrible and heartbreaking things happening in our community on a daily basis. And it’s an honor to do so. It’s a blessing to be able to pray, give advice as we can, and to point to the Lord. Because of this, many of our interactions with each other during the week and month can be serious. Not all, of course, but many. So we have Tuna Tuesdays. We have a time of just being together without the weight of the world on our shoulders.

I hope you have this with your people. Lighthearted times. I know things can get serious. I know decisions have to be made. I know you have to be focused. But I also know you need some fun. You need some fellowship—that old time word that simply means friendly association, companionship, comradeship.

I can recall when both my kids were teenagers and there were seasons things would get tense. Maybe it was decisions about college. Maybe it was serious conversations about their choice of friends. Maybe it was opposite sex related disagreements. Whatever the reason, it was very important and almost always felt urgent. Do you know it was during those exact times that we needed our family equivalent to Tuna Tuesdays? We needed to take off to the theme park as a family, or down the street to the ice cream parlor just the four of us. Something silly and no brainer and bonding in the best way. 

No, it didn’t solve all our problems. We didn’t suddenly have the answer about college or friends or the opposite sex situation. But it did remind us—hey! We really like each other! We are FOR each other! We’re together in this deal—in the good and in the bad. We’re not gonna check out on each other when times get hard—we’re just gonna go get some tuna.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday I'm in Love

Friday I’m in love…with fishing. Not what you expected? Hey, the heart loves what the heart loves. And my heart loves fishing.

Friday is our day off and we try to do nothing “productive”. We are productive the other days. This is a day of rest. No big thinking, no heavy lifting if we can help it. That’s where fishing comes in. We grab our poles, grab some shrimp, grab our picnic and our pups and head out. We put our boat in at a boat ramp down the street and just relax. We’ll fish from the boat, head to an island in the river and have a picnic and fish there, and generally have a romping good time. Fishing—it's good for the soul.

There’s a duet by Dave Matthews and Kenney Chesney that I love called “I’m Alive”. It has one of my all time favorite lyrics: “It's good for the soul when there’s not a soul in sight”. Now, of course, I love people. Jesus loved people, too. But even Jesus got away from them. Just saying.

That’s fishing for me—getting away. Resting. Being outside and breathing. Just breathing. Recharging. I hope you are in love with something fun this Friday. Of course, there are people to be in love with, serious and good things to be in love with—but I hope you are in love with something just silly and fun, too. I hope you are in love with something that recharges your soul.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wish List Wednesday

Do you have a wish list somewhere? Things you would really love but for some reason haven’t gotten? Things you are going to treat yourself to in that elusive “someday”? My favorite wish list is the list of actual books I’m wishing for on Amazon. Now, of course, pretty much all of my material wish list-ees can be found on Amazon. What did we do before our beloved came along to deliver anything and everything we may want or need right to our doorstep? Shudder. Don’t think back to those dark times.

Back to the books—I love when I get an update from my favorite authors from Amazon. It's just an email telling me when their next release will be out, usually it’s a good two or three months before the release date. I’ll put that straight on my wish list and then I’ll go and browse through the titles coming up. I love the anticipation! I start to think about what I’ll be doing—John Grisham’s newest will be out in June. Wonder if I’ll read it to Jason at the beach? Jan Karon’s next book will be out in September—wonder if I’ll be feeling fall-ish around then? I love that.

I hope you have a wish list of your own. Of books or clothes or furniture as well as hopes and goals and dreams. Because it is good to have something to look forward to. It is fun to anticipate the good things in our lives. It's good to put that incredible imagination God gave you to work, wishing good things for the future.

Wish away, my friend, wish away.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Date Your Mate Month

We’re still celebrating, people. And I found out this is “Date Your Mate Month”. Goodness. I hope you’re not dating anyone else. It is true, though, that sometimes we forget to date our husbands. I don’t know about you, but I want Jason to feel as if he would marry me all over again. Not just because of our history together, but because of the woman he knows today. So I date him! I pursue him. I love on him.

Anyone who knows me knows I love date night! I always have. And I have loved our date nights at home far more than date nights around town. At home date nights started for us when our kids were little. Even when we had grandparents or sitters to watch them, sometimes it just felt better to all stay at home. Since our kids weren’t allowed to have tv’s in their rooms, on our date nights we would put a portable TV/VCR combo in their room (ahh, the days before laptops! Anyone? Anyone?) and give them movies to watch. Yes, plural. Don’t judge me.

And mommy and daddy would have a wonderful date night without worrying about what time to get the kids there, what time to pick them up, how much to pay the sitter, and will they be okay. We would still dress up, we would still have a fabulous meal, we would still have meaningful conversation. It fit for us. This is when we found that we loved cooking with each other, and it became a lifelong hobby! This is when we found those two people who fell in love with each other all those years ago were still there.

As the years went by, date night at home still seemed to fit. During our kids’ teenage years, we began having date night on Wednesdays, because that is when they went to youth group. Oh, bless the Lord for Wednesdays. It was wonderful! The house to ourselves! Fancy food and OUR music and no one to say stop dancing with each other in the kitchen!

Then, sigh, the little birdies left the nest, as all little birdies do. And at home date nights are still a thing. Now it fits for different reasons. We live in a small community where we know a lot of people, which is a great joy. My husband is a pastor to a lot of people, which is also a great joy. But when you are trying to have intimate conversation and stare at the endless possibilities in each other’s eyes and have some sexy flirt time about what will happen when you get home, and you hear the scrape of a chair and a “Mind if we join you?!”, the great joy evaporates, not to mention the sexy flirt time. So date night at home comes to the rescue again! We can have all those loving intimate moments at home, alone, as it should be. Bonus, now when we go out to eat, we can truly say, “Pull up a chair!” to anyone who comes along and mean it because we are sure to get our quiet couple time together on our date night at home, which has migrated to Thursday nights.

Yes, we schedule date night. Wednesday night stuck for a season, we’ve moved it for a new season. Who knows what your night might be! Whatever is a good fit for your life, for your season, for your week.

Sometimes I will plan something fun (more ideas later!), sometimes Jason will plan something fun. We always cook dinner together. We always look nice for each other.  We always shut the entire outside world out for a few hours. Even our kids know you don’t call home on date night. It is just me and my husband, focused on each other, for one amazing night. And there’s something about putting a string of amazing nights together—you build an amazing marriage.

We do not have social media, but if we did, you would never see a post that said, “Having a great date night with my honey!” Why not? Because our phones are off. This is a one on one experience. I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down here.

Keeping date night a priority has been perhaps the best thing we have done for our marriage. There is ALWAYS a night every single week that we can connect, that we can be adults together, not solving the world’s problems or figuring out kid issues, or anything other than focusing on each other.

It's glorious.

I could give you a list of all the reasons this has been impractical. I could tell you all the reasons it shouldn’t have worked in various seasons of our marriage. But we did it anyway. We’ve saved money, saved sanity, and saved marital harmony by saving one night a week for each other.

Maybe this isn’t your thing—you’re a social butterfly and neeeeeeed to go out with your man! That’s wonderful! You be you and enjoy!! But for those of you who can’t seem to find any time to work on your marriage, what could it hurt to try this? You could start with two hours, once a month! Send the kids to their rooms with pizza and coke (oh, come on, they’ll be fine), a movie, and a timer. Threaten them with great punishment (Toilet cleaning! Weed pulling!) if they come out before the timer goes off. Then dress up in your sexiest outfit, put Justin Timberlake on Pandora, and text your husband a picture of what’s waiting for him at home. Let the date night begin!

I’ll be writing in future posts about date nights we’ve done—from the silly to the elaborate to the plain janes. And maybe you will try one or two! Let me leave you with this saying we have in our home: small investment, huge reward. A few hours a week, or every other week, invested in your marriage will bring you HUGE rewards for the rest of your life. Think it over. Ask God how this looks for your marriage! And make a personal plan to re-experience your husband as lover and best friend and groom in the coming weeks!