Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When you feel more snuffed out than sparkling this Christmas...

It's almost Christmas...and some of you might be like me this year, desperately searching for the magic of the holiday season, but falling short. Attempting to grasp the joy and the peace and the yuletide cheer, but woefully watching it slip through your fingers. You WANT to. You LONG to. But where did it go?

Then I would love for you to visit my personal blog today and read a post I made yesterday "For the Broken This Christmas". It might encourage you or someone you know who is struggling this holiday season. I pray God uses it in your life.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

At the Perfect Time

Last night I received an e-mail inviting me to do something that I've wanted for a long time. I was so excited that I lost all sense of maturity and professionalism. Thankfully the person inviting me to this wonderful opportunity was a friend who knew me wellb so I could freely reply with exclamation points and gushy expressions of joy.

What made this all the more thrilling is that I had given up on seeing this desire fulfilled right now. I had prayed myself to the point of feeling like a whiny child and finally had to give it over to God, knowing he would allow it when He considered me ready. The last time I journaled about it, I wrote, "God, help me to trust Your timing and be content with whatever happens,"  and made up my mind to have a good attitude.

The e-mail came--as always--when I least expected it and needed it most.  

Are you still praying for God to answer a prayer of fulfill a desire? Let this story encourage you that His answers do come, and always at the perfect time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are you that guy or girl?

For anyone who has ever felt invisible...

For the guy who stands in a crowded room and feels alone...

For the girl who leaves a party in tears...

For the one chosen last for a team...

For the girl who hates her reflection in the mirror...

For the guy who doesn't believe he has what it takes...

For the girl who feels she's somehow too much and not enough all at once...

For the one who feels they are never heard...

For the guy who feels incapable...

For the girl who can't find a way...

For the one who can't figure it out...

For the girl who forgot how to dream...

For the guy who forgot his courage...

You are SEEN.

You are HEARD.

You have a PURPOSE.

You have a MISSION.

You ARE enough.

You are NOT too much.


You are BRAVE.

You HAVE what it takes.


You are STRONG.

And you are LOVED.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dreaming of Mr. Right

It’s easy to spot Mr. Right in the movies or in a good novel. He’s the one who shows up out of nowhere, casts a handsome smile, and sweeps little Miss Lonely off her feet. There are struggles to be sure. There may be moments when Mr. Right seems long gone, but if the movie/book is one of those happily-ever-after stories Him and Her will end up realizing their love and committing themselves to each other for life. Riding off in the sunset with Mr. Right is the correct ending for every good story.

Yet there is a time in all of our lives when we doubt there is a Mr. Right for us. Those dumb boys at school aren’t nearly as cute, or smart, or kind as the heroes on television, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to matter very much because we’re not necessarily Cinderella or even Snow White.

At night, as we lay in bed drifting off in sleep we may dream about our future, about our wedding day and our life, our career and our kids. But once we’re at school, or work, those thoughts seem like fading dreams. Our focus turns to reality—to today—and we forget to plan, or pray for, all those tomorrows that are hanging in the future with bright expectations.

We don’t think about Mr. Right at school. Or when we’re with our friends. We don’t consider our future wedding day and all the marriage days to follow. Instead we look around and see that all our friends are dating and we want to keep up. We watch the teen movies and desire some of that romance that we see on the big screen. We feel empty inside, incomplete, and we want loved. Need love. Sure our parents, and siblings, and maybe even friends from church or school love us, but it’s not the same. We want to experience those giddy feelings and that flutter of butterflies in our stomachs … you may feel that way, too.

So then comes the day when that guy that sits three seats in front of you in Chemistry asks you out you quickly agree. He’s just average looking, and he doesn’t go to church. He mostly hangs around his friends and plays video games or football on the front lawn after school. He’s not someone you can really imagine spending your life with, but he’s not that bad and he likes you. And you don’t want to miss the chance. After all you do want to go to the prom and you do want to experience a kiss. And so those hopes that you had when you were drifting off to sleep are forgotten. Mr. Right is just a fantasy and you live for the here and now. After all, there is no guarantee for a good future, right?

Then again, maybe there is something you can do. Maybe there is something you can do with your friends.

It’s a place to start. And it starts on your knees. Before you date. Before you give your heart PRAY. Pray for God to guide you. Pray for His will. Seek HIS peace.

And then, if you don’t have peace that this guy is God’s good, perfect will for you … at this time … for your heart.

Run. Run away from temptation. Run to God.

*Image c/o stock.xchng

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's Next?

For my last post I blogged about an exciting event that helped launch a book that I’ve been writing for almost three years. It felt amazing to finally hold a long-awaited copy in my hand. As I look forward to the day when it will go live on Amazon and other venues, my imagination goes wild with the possibilities of what God might do with this book. This week, however, that excitement is being replaced with uncertainty? Why? Because I have no idea what is next for me.

I know I am finishing a story for Kathi Macias’s 12 Days of Christmas Series and polishing a devotional to hopefully contribute to another project, but beyond that, my writing future is a mystery. I’ve never been a big fan of mysteries, particularly when I’m the main character and have little or no say in the plot twists. 

This afternoon, however, I decided that I do have a say; I can either see “What’s Next for Jeanette” as terrifying or thrilling. I have the choice to panic or sit back and wait for the surprise. Today, I am asking God to deepen my appreciation for mysteries, particularly those that star Him as the hero who gets to call all the shots and me as the supporting character. I pray that He will help me to remember that He knows what He is doing, even when the next chapter includes nothing more than a blank page with a giant question mark at the top. 

What about you? Are you enjoying the mystery?

Friday, November 08, 2013

How to Pray for Your Future Husband: Understanding

I started praying for my future husband when I was 17 years old and pregnant with my son. I wanted someone who could love both me and my child. I wanted someone who loved God. God brought me an amazing man. John and I have been married for 23 years now. We had two more biological children, and we've adopted three more . . . making that six kids total! God has done more than I'd ever hoped or imagined.

My friend Robin Gunn and I wrote Praying for Your Future Husband a few years ago. The fun part is getting photos from some of the young women who prayed—wedding photos!

Of course there are women who are still praying and waiting, and we've gotten letters from them, too. They tell us they are drawing closer to God as they wait . . . and that is exactly what we hoped for!

In the moment, though, it's hard to understand the wait. It may be hard for your future husband to understand, too.

Here are 6 ways to pray for understanding.

Pray for Understanding for Your Future Husband.

  1. Pray God's Word will flood his heart.
  2. Pray your future husband will seek God and try to understand what God is doing in His life.
  3. Pray he has a tender heart that will be understanding of your past mistakes.
  4. Pray you will be understanding of his.
  5. Pray that if he has his heart broken, he will be surrounded by good friends who will support him during the healing process.
  6. Pray that in each of his relationships, he will develop an understanding heart and will always believe God has a different and better plan.

When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart. —John Bunyan

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Proud of Mom

Photo: Had an amazing time last night, listening to Michael Hingson and Susy Flory, talking about the kids' book, and signing copies.

Nate got to help with the signing by stamping Roselle's paw print (her pawdograph) into books.For almost three years, my son Nathan has heard me talk about the book I was co-authoring with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson. He listened to stories about Mike and his hero guide dog, Roselle, who guided him down 78 floor of the World Trade Center, read chapters, and offered his opinion on titles. In that time, he fell in love with Roselle, felt deeply sad when she passed away, gained a fascination for service dogs, and found it extremely cool that his mom knew a man who occasionally appeared on television. 

On Saturday night, we finally launched the book, Running with Roselle at a big speaking event that Mike and Susy Flory (his co-author for New York Times Bestseller, Thunder Dog) were doing. Nathan proudly pointed out pictures of me with Roselle when they popped up during a slidshow. He named, "Mom got to go up on stage, too" as a highlight of his evening. And at the end of the night, he got the honor of stamping each book that Mike and I signed with Roselle's pawprint stamp (her pawtograph).  

In all the exciting, I must say that having my son at my side to share every moment of the event meant as much to me as holding my first hot-off-the-press copy. Nathan didn't just tag along, he fully participated and was truly proud of his mom. The memory of him nudging me whenever he heard my name mentioned during the program, and watching his hand carefully stamp about 100 books taught me that while parents take pride in their kids' accomplishments, it is also nice to have an occasional role reversal.

As a mom, it felt nice to have my son not only share this special night with me, but also be excited for me. He treated it like the big deal it was from the moment we woke up on Saturday morning and he said, "It's your big day. Are you excited?"

I decided to share this story to inspire you. When is the last time you participated in something that was a big deal to your mom or dad? When have you shown them, "I'm proud of you" through your response to exciting news or a big accomplishment? How many times have they done this for you?

This week, maybe you can ask God for opportunity to show one of your parents that you are proud of them. Take my word for it: it never stops feeling nice.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Messed Up

In May, 2012, a friend shared this postcard on Facebook and inspired a blog post that I decided to revisit and update to reflect my thoughts today.

If you keep a journal, you can relate to the fear of having someone read it and find out how messed up you are—what you honestly think and feel when you have the freedom to not hold back. When I originally wrote this post, my life was far more messed up than I wanted to let on, and my journal reflected it. Today, the journal I am keeping for a difficult-but-necessary process reveals that I still have some internal messes to clean up, but I guess I need to let that be okay for a while if I want to get rid of them for good. This means I must stop writing as if a kitten is hiding under my bed waiting to dive into my diary as soon as I leave the room and reveal my ugliness to the world.

Today, seeing this kitten's face again reminds me that there is Someone who knows the contents of my journals whether I am being completely honest on paper or not. He knows my thoughts before I scrawl them out. When I mask my feelings for others, or even for myself, I am not hiding a thing from Him. Unlike the idea of a family member or friend snooping a peek at my diary, the knowledge that God knows the contents of my heart brings deep comfort. He knows me to the core, yet what He sees does not keep Him from adoring me, so why not put it all out there?

What about you? Do you communicate your private thoughts, or even your prayers, as if someone is listening in and might use it against you? Today, join me in the challenge of being completely open and honest with the One who knows our messiness and loves us anyway.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts . . .” Pslam 139:23 (NASB).

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

When to Share Your Faith

When to Share Your Faith … And When To Seal Your Lips

I remember the first time a college professor made fun of my faith. I was taking a history class at a small community college, but the professor spent more time talking about his atheistic beliefs than World Civilizations. He would work jabs against Christianity into every lecture. I’d sit there and squirm. I wanted to say something, anything, to make him see the error in his ways.

Finally, half-way through the semester I got up the nerve to say something to the professor. I raised my hand and made a comment about evidence of God’s hand in history. The professor listened for ten seconds, laughed, and then he continued on with his comments. I was embarrassed, and I never spoke up again. Looking back, that incident impacted me. It made me fearful of sharing my faith. I didn’t want to be embarrassed, and I got used to keeping my thoughts to myself.

It was only years later that I realized that Jesus understood and dealt with the same thing.

In Luke, Chapter 20, we see incident after incident of those who were trying to trap Jesus, to discredit him, and to make Jesus look bad in the eyes of the people. Jesus didn’t spout off volumes of truth, proving them wrong. Verse 8 says, “And Jesus responded, ‘Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things,’” (NLT).

Jesus knew what I learned—there are some people whose minds will not be changed no matter what we say. They have hard hearts. They listen only to come up with a rebuttal.

As Proverbs 26:4 says, “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are” (NLT).

Jesus talks about this again in Matthew 7:6: “”Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” (NLT).

If you come up against someone like my professor you may want to share your faith, but if that doesn’t work out don’t let it stop you from reaching out to others who have softer hearts.

When to Share

As a mom of six children, one of my greatest desires has been to raise kids who can share their faith. John and I have taken our kids on mission trips. We’ve encouraged them to be shining beacons wherever they are. We’ve taught them how to share their faith by knowing what to look for.

How can they do that? By going through these steps when reaching out to others:

Get them to trust you as a Christian.
Get them curious about Jesus.
Get them to ask questions.
Get them to consider making changes in their own lives.
Invite them to have a personal relationship with Jesus.*
Jesus knew that there were some people who wanted to hurt him, to kill him. Yet He was always on the lookout for those with seeking hearts.

In your own life, know that there will be times when sharing your faith will not be easy or fruitful. There will be times when your words will bounce off hard hearts.

Instead of being discouraged, like Jesus, look for those who trust you, are curious and ask questions. Those are the people worth spending time with. The time you spend with soft-hearted people will hopefully reap eternal rewards!

*These principles are taken from the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus by Don Everts and Doug Schnapps

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Waiting for Dreams to Come True

The October issue of Guideposts magazine (pictured here) includes an article that I helped a dear friend write. I’m so excited! Because the story is ghostwritten, my name is not on it, but I could care less. Not only did I love helping Lindy and her husband, Jim get their miraculous story out there, but writing for Guideposts has been a goal of mine for as long as I have been attending writers conferences. I have come close to acceptance in the past and watched many friends accomplish my desire, and it finally happened.

The other day, as I thought about how long I have been writing, how many times it felt like certain  dreams would never come true, and how many goals are yet to be accomplished, I found myself thanking God for His timing. The first story that I submitted to Guideposts and came so close to receiving a yes on was good, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful as the one I recently received sample copies of. In those years in between, my writing has grown and so have I. The acceptance came when I desperately needed a reminder that God had good things in store for me. It took weeks for me to recognize how sweet it was of Him to send this reminder through something I have wanted for so long.

Now I am waiting for other dreams to come true. It looks like one is a step closer to becoming a reality, but while I wait I will use the Guideposts story as motivation to trust my Father’s timing, knowing He knows exactly when we are ready for a moment of success.

What dreams are you still waiting to see come true? How is God building your patience?  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So much "drama" ;)

I used to joke about how I write because I can't do anything else.

That's not really true, because I write for a WHOLE lot of other reasons than that! ;)  But I've never been coordinated enough for sports, never had an above average voice for singing, or a natural musical ability, or artistic talent for drawing or painting.

Recently, however, I've gotten involved with a ministry for young adults (ages 18-30ish) that has changed my life in so many positive ways, offering a family of friends during a time in my life that otherwise would be devestatingly lonely. This group has helped me branch out not only in my walk with Christ but in other ways - like acting!

Yep, that's right. You heard it here first ;) 

I've been in two dramas so far and I am loving every minute of it. We're performing what they call "human videos" for church groups and youth groups in the area, that are proving to be so powerful. Youtube some of them (they're popular, and done around the entire country so there's a lot of them out there to watch) One is the Lifehouse "Everything" human video, the other is "Break Every Chain" (Jesus Culture version).

I'm in one tonight that is supposed to be watched by nearly 200 students, and can't wait. It's so fun being on stage and participating in something bigger than yourself, something that you know God will use to touch hearts and save souls.

So think about it. Is it time for you to branch out? Try something new that you haven't before, something that could be really good for your heart, something that could reach someone else and change your perspective on the negative in your life? Something that you felt God nudging you toward but you held back because it isn't your normal?

It might change your life.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seeking the God who Proves to be Good

Read the following excerpt from the book I co-wrote with Robin Jones Gunn (pictured below goofing off with me) called Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His, and see if you know anyone like this:

“All it took was that one kiss after the archery lesson, and I readily agreed to be Steven’s girlfriend. We spent a lot of time together. We hiked in the hills behind our houses. We swung on the swings at the park. At night I would sneak out of my house to go to his. He would sneak out too, and we would sit on the grass in the warm summer night and watch the moon. And we always kissed.
Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His
When Steven wanted to go further than kissing, it only made sense. That’s how things worked, right? I thought about the movies I had watched. The characters in them fell in love just like me, and then they slept together. Deep down I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t want him to find another girlfriend. I was sure if I gave Steven everything he wanted, we would stay together forever. Since I was so sure that I loved him and he loved me, I willingly gave myself to him.

But before the summer was over, Steven gave me some awful news. ‘My family is moving away.’”

Lamentations 3:25-29 in The Message says, “God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst.”

If you know a young woman who is pursuing a Steven in her life, take the time to write out Lamentations 3:25-29 for her. Take her out for coffee, give her the verse, and pray with her. Make her feel cherished and loved, not only by you, but by the One who created her.
I was the woman in Lamentations who diligently sought, but I sought the wrong thing. I was seeking after was a worldly, impatient love. I wasn’t seeking the never-ending, no-strings-attached love from my heavenly Father. But God proved to be good to me even though I didn’t deserve it. And He is continuing to prove Himself good to me every day.

Encourage the young woman to pursue the only One who continually proves Himself good. Let her know that He can turn those who are diligently seeking what is wrong (as I once was) into young women who diligently seek His good and perfect will.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Until Our Hearts Catch Up

This week, I started attending a class for women who, like me, are trying to make sense of someone else's choices and the reality that our lives will be altered forever because of them. As suspected, I felt old wounds opening immediately, which is exactly why I put off participating in a class like this. At the same time, I heard things that left me thinking, I've heard this dozens of times from countless friends. Why do I feel like I'm hearing it for the first time?

For example, I know that it is not my fault when someone chooses a sinful path. I know that sin makes us stupid and can drive nice men and women to do the unbelievable. But as I sat there hearing, “What happened wasn’t your fault” again, I knew God wanted me to take the words in in a new way. My heart clearly had not gotten the message yet.

This new season of healing from a painful series of events is teaching me that our heads and our hearts have completely separate time lines. No matter how intelligent we are, our hearts can be slow learners. It's like when we recognize that our faith is completely based on head knowledge and long to let God's truth take hold and make a difference in the way we live, think, and approach Him. Today, it hit me how kind God is in allowing us to take something into our heads long before our hearts can grasp what He is trying to tell us. In that time, He sends the message again and again, until we finally wake up and realize, I think I have only been pretending to believe this, but I really do want this to be real for me. Suddenly, we understand what has been holding us back from moving forward.

Is there an area of your life where you are still waiting for your heart to accept what you head already knows? Ask God to help you trust His time line knowing that He reveals each truth that we need at the exact moment we are ready and able to receive it.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I Don't Want to Stay Safe

When we moved to Arkansas I have to admit I felt out of my comfort zone. The first week we were here, the kids and I drove to Central High School, home to the Little Rock Nine. If you’re familiar with history, then you know the story of the Little Rock Nine. If the facts are fuzzy, here’s a recap that I took from Wikipedia.

The Little Rock Nine was a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The ensuing Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, and then attended after the intervention of President Eisenhower, is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. On their first day of school, troops from the Arkansas National Guard would not let them enter the school and they were followed by mobs making threats to lynch.

Growing up in California and spending most of my life in Montana, I was as far away from the Civil Rights Movement was as the War of 1812. But being in Little Rock, this history didn’t seem so ancient, especially when the young, beautiful, African American tour guide admitted her mother was one of the Little Rock Nine.

It wasn’t just a tour of the high school that intrigued me that day. It was the drive to where Central High School was that was even more inspiring. We left the new, safe-feeling west side where we lived into a part of town that still felt like 1957. We drove past houses that were boarded up, old businesses that looked as if they’d been left to crumble. I didn’t feel completely safe. This mama wasn’t in Montana any more.

Maybe it was that day, or maybe a few days to follow, that I made a decision. I didn’t want to stay safe. I wanted to leave my comfort zone. I had a feeling God had plans for me there.

You see, all of my friends were FamilyLife staff. The loved on us like I never expected. They brought us meals and offered to babysit. I was overwhelmed by their love. We’d also started attending an awesome church, but walking in the doors it was hard to tell the Civil Rights Movement had happened at all. I could have stayed their and worshipped with those amazing people forever, but something inside didn’t feel right. God had different plans for me. For my family.

That’s the cool thing about God. He has a unique plan for each of our family. It’s amazing really.

What about you? OK, maybe God isn’t calling you to physically leave your comfort zone by driving across town, but is He stirring something else inside? Is He asking you to walk across the hall to another set of lockers? Walk across the gym floor? Walk across the living room and pick up the phone . . . make that text?

God wants us to leave our comfort zones–all of us. Why? Because it’s there where He meets us. When we aren’t comfortable, we look to Him for our comfort. And that’s exactly where we need to be.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Bad Day

My 11-year-old son just started middle school. Remember those fun-filled years? After a flawless first week of 6th grade, he had his first official bad day yesterday. No one was mean to him; he didn't flunk a test, trip in front of everyone, or get detention because he couldn't get his P.E. locker open and was late to class; it was just one of those "Why is everything going wrong?" days.

Here is a brief recap of events:
He left his P.E. clothes in Core class and had to run back to get them during lunch.
He accidentally kicked his lunch bag, causing his spoon to puncture his yogurt, which then exploded all over the inside of his lunch bag. We can be thankful that A) After three days of paper bags, we decided to go with an insulated one, which contained the mess very well, B) He had already eaten half his sandwich.
He lugged his heavy math book for the entire day, only to learn that it was meant to be kept at home.
His science teacher gave each kid a string of beads to use for a homework experiment and his string broke right after school. All but one bead rolled into the street and under the feet of other students. The one bead that he managed to retrieve worked for the assignment but the whole thing felt incomplete.
He had trouble with his P.E. locker, causing him to dread the first "dress out" day (which is today) more than he already was. (I assured him that EVERYONE dreads dressing for P.E.)

No wonder he slumped in the back seat of the van and groaned, "I have stress." For an 11-year-old, "I have stress" is no exaggeration." After all that, even the simplest homework felt overwhelming. All I could do was listen, comfort him with hugs, hot chocolate, and assurance that tomorrow would be better, help him with his homework even if I knew he didn't really need it, and pray that my promise of a better tomorrow didn't turn out to be a big fat lie.

I couldn't help having flashbacks to my junior high years, and the many bad days that I thought I would never get over but did. As I told Nathan this morning, "I think it's a rule that everyone needs to have a yucky day during the first week or so of middle school. It keeps us from getting too cocky." Doesn't that seem to be the case? No matter how confident we feel (and Nathan is extremely confident), the new routine of changing classes, dealing with bigger kids and mutiple teachers, and more rules than one young brain can handle throws us completely off. And someone we get through it and even learn to enjoy our new world after a while.

What do your remember about middle school? How did you grow through both the bad days and the good?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Register drawing for 12 free books + $100

Join me with your own fistful of chocolate chip cookies for my FREE online study of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan. (Also, by joining, you register to possibly win a $100 gift card and 12 free books for you and your favorite friends.) Register now--deadline coming soon!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

To time machine, or not to time machine, that is the question....

Do you ever sort of wish you could be Amish? Or maybe go back in time 100 years?

Okay, maybe not, because I totally love electricity, but there is something lately that is so appealing about simple. Easy. Predictable. Slower-paced.

Do you feel me?

Life is fast these days. Hard. A little crazy. Exhausting.

And I think a lot of it is because of too many choices.

Think about it. Nothing is simple anymore. If we lived in the olden days, we'd make our own food or pluck it out of the garden or trade it with a neighbor down the street. We'd churn butter, milk cows, pick apples. Then bake, clean up, and do it again for the next meal. Now, I'm to the point where I go to the grocery store and stare at the 45,590 different brands of strawberry jelly and just want to scream "REALLY?"

(Well, I actually did one day, and got a few looks. Then it started a whole conversation exactly like this blog post with a fellow shopper. LOL! Hey, crazy tends to like company. And for the record I bought Smuckers)

How much easier was life then, though, seriously?

Kids played outside, got natural tans, and learned the value of a dollar at a young age. People stayed in shape a lot easier because they worked hard, usually outdoors, and ate wholesome foods. Families stayed together because they worked together, went to church together, prayed together, built their home together, laughed together, needed each other for entertainment and assistance and support, and probably a little because the opportunity to cheat on your spouse wasn't nearly as rampant. Who had time??

There's a LOT of blessings to today's day and age, of course. Medical advancement. Longer life spans. Fun treats. Education opportunities. And technology is a blessing and a curse, based on how we use it. Trust me, I'm not discounting the benefits of society and culture today. We've clearly come a LONG way and I personally adore my hair straightener, air conditioning, and high-speed internet connection  ;)

But I think we could learn a lot from that time period and way of life.

Learn to slow down. Breathe. Appreciate. Work hard, yet not rush. Be productive, yet not obsessive.
Value each other.

What do you think? Can you see yourself living in that time, or even in a modern world Amish environment? Or are you happy with today's pace and loving your curling iron? :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Be Her Friend

Do you know a struggling young woman or a teen mom? Be her friend.

Take her to coffee. Listen as she shares her heart. Encourage her. Point her to where true love is found … in Jesus.

Tell her to pray for her future husband … it’ll help her to think of what she longs for in a new way. My co-written book Praying for Your Future Husband is for young women who’ve done everything right, and those who haven’t. It offers hope despite wrong choices. You can pre- order it before the May release.

If you know a teen mom … help her on her journey. She needs help, hope, encouragement, advice, and a helping hand. Buy her a copy of Life, Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Teen Mom. It’ll speak to her heart from someone who’s be there.

Finally, share your story. We’ve all messed up. God has helped us in numerous ways. Speak to her and tell of His goodness. Remind her that someone loves her more than she can imagine, and then give her a hug and tell her you love her, too.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Unplugging, Part 2

In my last post, I was getting ready for a week at a friends cabin, without Internet of cell phone service. While I planned to enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity to unplug, I must admit that I expected to go through withdrawals. I simply didn't know how to live without e-mail, connecting with friends on Facebook, and talking on the phone. But you know what? I didn't miss it. Not one bit!

Yes, I missed my family and my friends, but I missed the face-to-face time more than the online chatting. I loved the lack of pressure to answer messages right away. I noticed that the day seemed to last longer, and in a good way. My friends and I had wonderful talks about God and how He was working in our lives. We took walks, watched old movies, and laughed; I journaled, finished one book and started another, learned a new card game, and actually sat on the deck for a while doing nothing but stare up at the treetops. The longer I went without tapping my fingers against keys and starring at a screen, the more I started to wonder how I might work some unplugged time into my regular routine.

Now I'm home again, and the computer calls to me, reminding me how much I need to catch up on. Once again, I'm asking myself how I can work the benefits of last week into life at home. Perhaps, I will keep my computer powered off on Sundays, or turn it off at dinner time each night. Whatever I choose, I'm thankful for last week and the gifts I found in going technology free.

When has a time of living differently inspired you to make changes? What good things have come of it?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Confessions of a Gen X Mom | My Love/Hate Relationship with the Media

When I was a teen (wasn’t that, like, yesterday?) I thought I knew everything—especially what I would and wouldn’t do with my kids. I thought the movies Footloose, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club were cool. Yet when I picked Footloose up at Blockbuster, just for fun, I was shocked by the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. (OK, I confess I still like the music, but honestly were my standards that non-existent?)

Now that I have kids, of course, I’m even more conservative than my “stuffy” parents ever were. I was allowed to watch Pet Cemetery for goodness sake. Now I nearly have a coronary when a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on with my kids in the room.

I realize the effects the media can have on young minds because I know how much my mind was influenced growing up the in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I remember every episode of The Cosby Show (and reruns of The Brady Bunch), and often times I related more to that family than my own.

I remember the first video I saw on MTV. And musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Tiffany, and Billy Idol were my, uh, idols.

It’s not that I’m totally against television, music, and the media. I’m addicted to Lost and Alias (still watching them on DVD). And I have to admit I look forward to skimming through People Magazine as I stand in the check-out line at the grocery store. It’s just that I’m not willing to replace a “television family” with my own family connections.

Is it possible to teach my kids values—especially a love for God and family—without moving to a deserted island. Or worse, disconnecting cable forever?

Determine your family’s values before the media determines them for you. According to The Motherhood Study (2005), a comprehensive survey of two thousand women, “Many mothers feel that the values they are trying to instill in their children are the exact opposite of the values of pup culture and the media.”

Understand how kids form their own internal idea of “the type of person I want to be.” “[By the age of 10] kids move from simply accepting and absorbing the attitudes and behaviors of their families to becoming more selective,” say Dr. Rick and Kathy Hicks, authors of Boomers, Xers, and Other Strangers. “They hold on to what seems appropriate, but they are also checking out new ideas, attitudes, and values as they are exposed to them through school, media, community groups, and other influences. They are choosing the values and behavior patterns that appeal to them, and they are creating an internal idea of the kinds of person they want to be.”

Realize that kids want the real deal, which is people connecting in authentic relationships.

Today’s kids are skeptical, yet what they do believe we want to apply to everyday life. They’re realistic, not idealistic. Their faith- and family-life has to be truly lived out, or they don’t buy into it.
We can be the parent. God placed us in a specific generation as children in order for us to become a generation of parents designed to fulfill His chosen purposes. For in the crazy way God works, it’s us who God has been chosen to parent the next generation of powerful men and women of God!

God knows what He’s doing after all—giving us these kids during this time in history. We also must remember He has not left us to do this job alone.

Monday, August 05, 2013

A Week to Unplug

This week, I am getting ready to send my son off to camp for the first time. He is going with a good friend of his and can't wait! While our boys swim, boat, and possibly brave the ropes course, my friend Anne and I get to join our friend Rebecca at her family cabin. Isn't it darling?

While at the cabin, I will brave my own little adventure: a week without Internet access or cell service. When Anne told me that we wouldn't have either, I must say I was thrilled. As much as I love connecting with my friends on Facebook, browsing the web, e-mail, and phones, lately I have felt the pressure to chained to them from morning 'til night. The opportunity to unplug feels like a gift from God. I decided to go for it full-on and leave my laptop at home. Any writing I do will be with pen and paper. (Remember those?) I plan to read, spend time with God, enjoy the speakers that we get to hear from in the evenings, take walks, and just enjoy being with my friends. I can't wait to see what God does during this break from technology!

Would you like to share in my challenge? How about unplugging from devices for a day or even half a day? Or perhaps you have done this lately already? I would love to hear how God uses it to refresh you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

49 Shades of Gray...

Sharing this here...an important piece I wrote yesterday from the heart on my personal blog.

Might be the most real thing I've ever written!


I wrote it for me, but I sincerely hope it speaks to you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life is like a box of chocolates?

Forrest Gump thought life was like a box of chocolates - "we never know what we're going to get." Right?

Sort of.

Unlike a box of chocolates, we can't always just simply nibble a taste of things in life and decide if we want to keep chewing or not. Sometimes, a chocolate we really can't stand or don't want at all is shoved down our throats without our choice! (the strawberry creme filled fancy chocolates are the best, by the way)

So what do we do when we don't like the piece we're given? What do we do when we see our friends with what looks to be better candy than ours, and want to trade? Or, at the least, want to reach back into the gold foil box and choose another?

It's not that simple, Forrest.

I've been given some pieces lately that I really would have rather put back. The kind of pieces that make you think, anything but this one! ANYTHING else will taste better!

But that's not necessarily true. You've probably heard it said before that if you gather a group of people, and ask them to share the deepest burden on their heart, that by the time the sharing session is over, not a single person in the room will want to trade problems.

Everyone has their bad piece of chocolate. Forrest did. I do. You do, too.

Perspective wise, I think Forrest had it right. We can't be sure of tomorrow. We can't  know what's coming around the bend, be it good or bad. So don't stress over it. Accept what you can't change and don't let it control you. Etc. Etc. Etc. All decent advice.

But Forrest had one key element missing...

He didn't know the Confectioner. The Creator of the chocolate. The One who passes around that gold foil box and distributes each piece. The One who knows exactly who needs which piece at which time to accomplish a greater good, and a greater purpose. The One who is there by our side while we have to chew and swallow the bitter. The One who rejoices with us when we get to enjoy a favorite piece. He's there, through the good and the bad, and not a single piece of chocolate is wasted. Not a single thing in our lives is wasted.

Next time you get a piece you'd rather spit out, remember - you're not alone. Every chocolate has a purpose. And the bad taste doesn't last forever. You'll get another strawberry creme soon :)  Just keep taking what the Confectioner prepares for you, and trust Him to keep you well fed. There's a lesson in every morsel, if you're willing to look for it and learn from it.

And the more we do that - the more we willingly open our mouths and hearts to the Lord - the sweeter it all tastes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dreaming Big with God

I often ask the question, “If you could do anything and knew it would succeed, what would it be?” For many people something immediately comes to mind. But there are also many people who don’t know. They wonder all the time, what does God want from me?
I think one of the problems with the “dream big” idea is that we let our human minds measure what “big” is. We think it has to be fame or success or a ministry or a huge blog. But what is “big” to God? (I’ll come back to this in a minute.)

What we do need to remember is that God has gifted us all differently. My pastor, Dr. Mark DeYmaz, talked about this on Sunday. There are some people whom God uses to dream. Some people are to manage. And some people just want to do the daily task He’s given them . . . and there’s nothing wrong with that!

I can’t remember Pastor Mark’s titles, but the divisions went something like this. In God’s body there are the:
  1. Big Picture Dreamers
  2. Managers
  3. Workers
I’m a dreamer (as if you couldn’t guess that!), but my favorite people are those who can help me live out what I envision! When I started a pregnancy center—or now working with teen moms—I could not do what I do without those who come alongside me.

Sometimes the dream God gives you just may be to work alongside someone else. If you could connect with one ministry, what would that be? What could you do to support it? Why are you so passionate about it? What is God telling you concerning this ministry?

When you think about it, the “big” thing to God is obeying what He asks you to do. You could become famous, make it big, and become well-known—and it would amount to nothing. Or you can ask God what is BIG to him. You might be surprised.

In the world’s eyes my writing is the most important part, but as we just opened our home to two more kids through an adoption, there have been many moments during the day as I’m playing cars or have kids piled on my lap and I feel God saying, “This. This is exactly where you need to be right now.”
What bigger dream can you have than that? He sees the future. He knows whom those kids will become. He knows the transformation that happens in my heart as I serve them as a mom and servant. And His dream is for me to trust Him in the path He sets me on.

*Photo credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, July 19, 2013

I posted this on my own blog a few days ago and thought you might appreciate it, too.

See this picture? The one golf tee remaining in the Peg Jump game is proof that I am a genius. It says so right on the wooden triangle--"One peg = "Wow, genius!" I have waiting my entire life to solve this puzzle. (Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration considering that I didn't start playing the game until I bought one while on vacation at age ten.) For a girl whose kindergarten teacher responded to her inability to learn colors with "Maybe she's just dumb," this was a very exciting day. There is only one problem with getting down to one peg: unless you took notes while playing that perfect game, or decide to cheat by looking up the solution online, the chances of acheiving greatness a second time are pretty slim.

Over the weekend, I played this game over and over again, and the best I could hope for was two pegs, which the instructions call "Above average." Not bad, but "'Wow,' Genius!" felt so much better. A few times I ended up with three, earning a "So-so." And then there were the moments when four pegs stared up at me, which the game-makers consider "Pretty bad." The longer I played only to realize that I'd set a standard for myself that I might never measure up to again, the more I fought a sense of failure. What had I done differently on that glorious Saturday afternoon?

Yes, I know it is just a game, but it was amazing how quickly I bought into the message that earning a "So-so," or heaven forbid a "Pretty bad" meant I was no longer a genius, as if that wooden triangle with ten golf tees stuck into it measured my intelligence. I have come a long way in my battle with wrapping my identity and value up in the wrong things, but this obsession with the Peg Jump reminded me how easy it is to slip back into old patterns of connecting it to achievements and what others think of or say about me. It also drove home the destructive nature of this trap--that when I allow success, opinions, or whatever that desired thing is to make or break how I feel, it is very difficult to enjoy triumphs, relationships, and the joys of life, because there is always a standard to fear not measuring up to.

At least this time, I was able to see the silliness it in all, set that crazy game down, and refuse to let the words on a piece of wood label me. Maybe it's time to do the same in a few other areas.

What about you? What have you allowed to make or break your sense of value lately? What is God teaching you about who you are in Him?    

Monday, July 08, 2013

Open Arms

My dad was a police officer. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve always wanted to stick to the rules. I’m a people-pleaser through and through. I love it when I get kudos for a job well done. I hate it when I feel I’ve disappointed someone.
Too often I find myself treating God as if He, too, were a police officer–hanging around, waiting to catch me crossing the line. Every morning, as I journal my prayers, I write out my confessions. Then I end with prayers seeking God’s strength to help me be good.
This morning, as I read my Bible, I came across Psalm 40:5:
“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.”
The part that stopped me in my tracks was “Many . . . are Your thoughts toward us.” So I paused, and pondered this for a while. I pictured God thinking about us a lot. God thinking about me. Loving me. Caring for me. It brought tears to my eyes.
All around us we have people tell us we need to be good, to do the right thing, to follow the right path, to care for others more than ourselves. That is all fine and good, but sometimes we need to just be okay with the fact that God loves us–at this moment, how we are. He is thinking about me TONS. He is thinking about you.
And instead of the police uniform that causes us to keep our distance, we need to think of the Daddy who welcomes us with open arms.