Monday, May 30, 2011


Every single day, I am grateful. Grateful for my life, for my family, for the love of a precious savior, but also for my freedom. Were it that I lived elsewhere praising and trusting God may be difficult and even deadly.

We had acquaintences, years ago, who chose to serve God in China. We would send them Bibles and necessities they could not find readily. Our packages had to be sealed a certain way and no where on the parcel could there be words like "God, Lord, Jesus, etc." We could email them and I had to pay careful attention to the words I used, including trying to give scripture without really giving scripture. Though it grieved us at home, we also recognized that God was forging a way and people were being saved because of the blessing of our missionary friends there in Asia. We also were well informed that their safety depended upon our discretion, this my friends, makes me daily aware of our freedom that could easily be overlooked.

When we adopted our daughter in China, I sent a baby book in English and in Mandarin. The nannnies at her orphanage were so gracious to fill in as much as they could for us. I was so thankful. I found myself carefully checking the book to ensure they would not be offended by our faith and our trust in Jesus. After waiting two years for our child, I did not want our adoption stalled because we were Bible believing Christians...but the truth is, I also needed them to know we prayed for them as they cared for our child and so many other children. As He always does, He gave me the words that would be a blessing and not a hindrance.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Both of these examples lead me to the point of this post.
Freedom...our military...honor and remembrance.
Army, Navy, Air Force, does not matter the branch of the service, it matters the sacrifice they make so that we are able to worship in our churches, our homes, our cars, our entire lives. Their protection of our freedom is a treasure. As we ponder the freedom we have, I think Memorial Day can be a reminder of the freedom we have in Jesus Christ also. He paid the ultimate price, conquered death and His promise for eternal life to all who believe in Him denotes complete freedom. Like our patriotic freedom, this freedom costs me nothing, but it is not cheaply bought. Just as our soldiers serve to make us free, so did Jesus serve to make me free. For eternal freedom we must be born again, transformed into righteousness by the blood of Jesus Christ, and set free from sin and death. When put in those terms, we would be completely remiss to forget anything that has granted us such magnificent liberties.

So today and everyday, God Bless America! Thank you to Jesus for the ultimate price, thank you to our soldiers and their families for the daily sacrifice that protects and grants us our national freedoms. May they truly know the depth of our gratitude...

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2


Friday, May 27, 2011

I Say It + Action = I Am

Being over 40 has it's problems. One I've noticed is weight gain. Since Christmas I've gained... (You didn't really think I'd tell you, did you?)The point is, I've gained weight.

Summer is fast approaching and the thought of putting on a swim suit has caused me to panic! Weight Watchers, I thought. About a year ago I lost 10 pounds using the Weight Watchers approach, so I signed up online. Two weeks later, my weight had not changed. Then it occurred to me joining Weight Watchers doesn't cause you to lose weight - unless you actually make changes to your diet and use their

Similarly, I tell people I am a writer. Professing to be a writer doesn't mean I'll be published. First I need to commit to writing, next I must do some research to find a compatible market. At that point, Lord willing, I can say with conviction that
I am a writer, and I'll have published pieces to back me up.

How about saying I am a Christian? I know plenty of people who profess to be Christians, but their lives tell a different story. If I call myself a Christian, I
must be committed to praying and reading the Bible regularly. If I only
committed to observing the Weight Watchers diet on Sundays, I would never lose
weight. It's the same with professing to be a Christian. I must do the work to
ensure Jesus is the Lord of my life. Then I can say with honesty, I am a Christian, and others will see the fruit in my life.

John 15:5 (ESV) "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart form me you can do nothing."

Mathew 7:20 (ESV) " Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."


Friday, May 20, 2011

How We Met

When I was in my mid-to-late-twenties, my church put on a musical production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” It’s the story of Joseph straight out of Genesis but set to modern music. As a teenager, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and then later thrown into prison on false charges.

Some people say they’re having a bad day, or even a bad year, but Joseph was having a bit of a bad life.

There was a time when I could relate. It was more than a tough season or a rough patch, and like Joseph, it started during my latter teen years.

In the midst of this dark season, I did something so unfathomably inexplicable that I am still at a loss for any kind of sound explanation as to why. But for whatever reason, I decided to audition for the upcoming production at my church – even though I hadn’t danced since I was twelve years old.

The story of Joseph has always resonated deep within me. God delivered Joseph from the dungeon so that Joseph could save the people of Egypt from a severe famine. And when Joseph was later reunited with his brothers, he said to them:

“And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good
in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
– Genesis 50:20, NASB

There’s just something about this verse that lingers . . . in my thoughts, in my spirit. During the months that I rehearsed with the cast, I prayed that someday the words of this verse would be true of my life too.

God is still in the business of redemption, restoring wholeness to the lost and broken.

Joseph saw the bigger picture. He caught a glimpse of earthly sufferings from heaven’s perspective. God had a plan all along.

I sang this story.
I danced this story.
Week after week.
Month after month.

Rehearsing this story gave me hope.

The whole cast became friends.

And I didn’t know it at the time, but a few years later, one of those cast members would ask me to marry him.

The Joseph Show. It’s how we met.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the story of Joseph – the story of broken dreams and long-awaited redemption – is what brought us together. God had a plan all along.

I can now say the words of this verse, and mean it.

What brought you and your spouse together?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm Not Athletic

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4

"I'm not athletic."

"Wait a minute," my new neighbor stopped me, "You're not athletic, you're not domestic, you're not...." She trailed off, and suddenly I felt very embarrassed. I'd only spoken with her 3 or 4 times since she moved into the neighborhood, and her comment made me realize I'd said something I "was not" every time I'd spoken to her.

The truth is, I'm not athletic. She was sharing about her hobby of running, and doing a high powered exercise program similar to what the Navy Seals do. I realized in that moment that subconsciously I must have been feeling inferior to her. And in my normal "chatty" way, I verbalized it, without even meaning too. "I'm not athletic."

Still, there are so many things I can do, and I am such an upbeat person, I was embarrassed that I'd been showcasing my cannots, instead of my cans. Who cares if I'm not athletic? Here is the truth. I don't love athletics, but I have been walking 4 miles on a regular basis, and am feeling pretty fit. No, I'm not a domestic diva, but I am a great deal finder when it comes to clothes shopping. I'm a good writer and a great mom. I am a faithful, respectful and loving wife. I am a loyal friend.

There are so many things I'm not. But there are so many great things that I am. SO I will do as the Galatians verse suggests. Instead of comparing myself to what other people are, I will focus on what I am.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Toes in the Sand

"Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

It is almost here. SUMMER. I rejoice in the longer days, weeping willows, playgrounds, swimming pools and most of all, toes in the sand! There is something so majestic, so magnificent about the pull of the ocean and the tingle of the sand between our toes.

I took our two young daughters to the beach last week, just for a day. While they loved the rides and boardwalk, they asked repeatedly if they could put those sweet pink toes in the sand. We were able to honor that request. And though the entire day was filled with memorable moments, the most memorable was the sound of my children's laughter as they drew in the sand and stood, wind blowing their hair back breathing in God's creation. The older child drew very clearly a Jesus fish in the sand. The younger dabbled closer to the water's edge and wrote her name in big bold letters in the pale landscape. I watched as the water lapped against her masterpiece, fading it with each small wave. And I prayed that her heart would never allow the tide of the world wipe away the truths that God has hidden in her precious heart. But, I also prayed that like the sand washed clean with the tide, that we would never take for granted how our own sin is wiped away by the grace and mercy of Jesus.

When we approach God with our sin, confessing, repenting, trusting His response, we wipe the sand clean. Miraculous,yes! Deep wounds threaten to shake our resolve, sin breaks our hearts, but an ocean of forgiveness awaits us.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

So, I challenge you today to get toes in the sand, toe to toe with the sea, ready to draw those transgressions on the sand, ready for the well of truth to wash over those transgressions. Accept the smooth sand God wants to provide, accept His perfect love and forgiveness. What a blessing to be toes in the sand!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

want a downpour of revival?

I think that most Christians would love to see a revival in their churches. But we have to realize that revival begins with us. We can't expect a true revival to break out in our churches until we experience a true revival in our own hearts and lives. But the thing that is hindering us from experiencing such a downpour of revival is sin. Not other peoples sin or the worlds sin, but our own sin. 

We tend to think that sin is just the 'big' sins like murder, stealing and adultery. But the truth is, we are all guilty of sin. Sin is any failure to conform to God's standard from His Word. 

"The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

Sin is our nature and we have to be constantly on guard against it. Sin will take us places that we don't want to go and keep us longer than we want to stay. In the book 'Downpour', James MacDonald gives us 5 'intents of sin'.

1. Sin will pursue you. Before Cain murdered his brother Abel, God told him that sin was crouching at the door. Cain didn't heed the warning and sin pursued him and won.

2. Sin will disappoint you.  Hebrews 11:25 tells us that the pleasures of sin are only for a season. 

3. Sin will trip you up. Hebrews 12:1 says that we are to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.  Satan knows our weakness and he will aim at that target every time. Indeed, sin will trip us up.

4. Sin will enslave you. Romans 6:16 tells us that we are slaves of the one whom we obey, either sin, which leads to death or of obedience, which leads to righteousness. 

5. Sin will expose you. We must not be fooled. Numbers 32:23 says, ' Be sure your sin will find you out". 

Even though most of us know that these things are true, I think we need a reminder of it sometimes. We need to remember how easy it is to let ourselves slip down that slope of sin and how eager the devil is to make it slippery!

There will always be sin in the world. But we have the choice whether or not to partake in it. Let's be vigilant in the fight against the darkness of the world and focus on the One who brings us into the light. Let's confess our sins, repent and turn away from them and then be ready for the downpour of revival that will come.


Monday, May 9, 2011

What Parents Do

What Parents Do

Every once and a while a parent does something that makes them realize they made a right choice. Our daughter Kristin has had 3 surgeries in the last 4 weeks. She spent one 8 night, 9 day stretch in a hospital. I stayed a couple of nights and Cheryl stayed everyone. In her third trip to the OR and hospital, which began Thursday, May 5, Cheryl and I both spent the night.

I was in a chair by her bed, feeling quite weary. At 1 am she slipped her hand through the bed rail, grabbed my hand and said, "Thanks for staying, Dad." Right then I didn't need any more sleep that night.

I forgot my last post, and this one is going to be very short. I'm writing it in that same chair at 12:30 am. Cheryl's here being a mom; I'm here being a dad. Many of you readers have done and will do it. It's what parents do.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Refraining from “I Told You So”

At two months of age, our infant daughter had already outgrown all of her newborn clothes. Being born at nearly ten pounds will do that.

So Jeff and I agreed on the amount we could spend on new baby clothes.

Armed with stroller and wallet, I entered the mall. I planned to visit a few fun stores before heading to Target. And by “fun” I mean “high-end.”

Oh my. The stuff available for baby girls makes grown women croon. This one store in particular specialized in coordinated ensembles – the socks, shoes, headbands, bibs, and receiving blankets all perfectly matched the designated outfit. By the time I bought every matching accessory, I had spent the entire amount allotted from our budget.

Guilt plagued me all the way home. I could have purchased ten separate outfits from Target for the price of this one charming set.

Knowing that I would never be able to convince my ever-so-frugal-accountant-of-a-husband of the necessity of such a purchase, I began to rationalize my actions and prepare my defense.

Honey, we’re having baby pictures taken next week, so I got this whole get up so Brynn would have something special to wear in the photos. Just imagine how cute the pictures will be with these matching hair bows and socks!

Plus, we’re going to that barbeque this weekend, and we’ll be seeing friends who haven’t met our little girl yet. Brynn can wear this outfit when our friends see her for the first time!

“Uh-huh,” was all he could say.

On the day of the big barbeque, I dressed Brynn in her fancy duds. Pure delight filled me. Then, while still in the car, our sweet cherub filled her diaper. She filled it so full, in fact, that it overflowed. Mustard-colored poop pushed its way up her back and squeezed down both of her legs. For some reason, it wouldn’t stop either. The stuff kept coming, and I couldn’t contain it.

As soon as we arrived at the barbeque, I rushed towards the bathroom with Brynn, hoping nothing dropped on the way. The clean-up job required an entire box of wipes.

A total and complete disaster.

Thirty minutes later, Jeff knocked on the bathroom door. “Are you guys okay in there?”

With faucet running, I managed to say, “Yeah, we’re fine. Go back to the party.”

Through the door, he whispered, “I know what you’re trying to do. And you don’t have to. Just put the clothes in a plastic bag and join the party.”

Devastated, I opened the door. Jeff found the once-beautiful outfit soaking in the sink. No detergent on earth could act as a magic cure.

Utterly ruined.

If ever there was a time to say, “I told you so,” it was at this moment.

Instead, he picked Brynn up, kissed my forehead and never brought it up again.

Needless to say, I never shopped at that store again either. It wasn’t worth it. Not with our budget. And if a circumstance happens to arise when I feel the urge to tell him, “I told you so,” I remember that day.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

5 Things About Marriage

Today is my 15th wedding anniversary. Though I was 28 when I got married (old by many standards), I feel like I was just a kid. I know I still have a lot to learn, but here are some of the things I have learned. I hope they may help you as they've helped me.

1. The number one cause of conflict is unmet expectations.
How can this knowledge help you? First, your spouse can't meet an expectation they aren't aware of. Rather than sulk about your unmet expectation, share you expectation with your spouse. AND, most importantly, be willing to change your expectation if your spouse can't meet it.

2. Pray for your spouse's relationship with God.
Yes, there are lots of things we'd like to change in our spouses. But it's selfish to pray for God to change something about them, so that we don't have to change, or grow. Instead, pray for their relationship with God. Because a solid relationship with God WILL produce change in the sinful areas of your spouse's life. And the other areas? That's where you have to pray you will change, and be more accepting.

3. Marriage is work, expect it.
If you work outside the home, you know that if you ignored things at work, you might lose your job. As a parent, you know that if you don't spend time with your kids, they won't be raised properly. Why do you think your marriage is different? Work at your marriage. You won't get anything out of it, if you don't put anything into it. Date nights, or quiet time together after the kids go to sleep - to talk together (not watch TV) are important.

4. Don't dishonor your spouse.
I remember when my husband and I were attending a party. One of the guys started a conversation about what celebrity woman he'd found attractive. As various men chimed in, my husband remained silent. And when pressed by the group to respond, he said something to the effective of , "I only have eyes for Kelly." The guys may have boo'ed him, but I was honored, and esteemed. Honor your spouse.

5. Love is not a feeling.
You will wake up some mornings and not "feel" in love. How you act during those times defines you, and your marriage. It defines your character. I love my husband always, even when I don't feel "in love." And because of that we have 15 years together, and with the help of God we will have many more. Amen.

What marriage tips do you have? Share them in the comments section today.


Monday, May 2, 2011

A Simple Smile

"So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

I was moving very quickly. My husband had arrived home late and I was hosting special guests just two short hours after his arrival. I flew down to the grocery store and know I would have earned a blue ribbon in speed shopping if management were taking into consideration the stealth with which I maneuvered my cart aisle to aisle. Praying the
entire way, I slid expertly into checkout line 7 in record time.

Unloading my cart, I placed on the belt a beautiful strawberry shortcake and a chocolate cream cheese confection that I really just wanted to dive into, scraping off mounds of icing and promptly forgiving myself for being so impulsive. But alas, I left the cakes covered up neatly and stared ahead of me. Tapping my fingers, I was not in the mood for idle chit chat. I had things to do. The line was moving slowly and I found myself looking around, something I might not have done if my pace had been kept, instead of the Lord's.

Though she tried several times, it was several moments before I truly noted the elderly woman behind me, trying to drum up a conversation. She began, "When are you serving the cake?" We giggled together and I explained that I was hosting some incredibly important children...daughters with the same history and similar story as our younger daughter, adopted from China.

I mentioned with great joy how God had blessed our family. Always a risk, entering such a power packed conversation, knowing there was little time, I felt God's gentle spirit leading me to share just a tad bit more with this kindly woman. She came closer to pat my hand several times as I answered her intimate questions there in checkout line 7. She shared a bit herself, praising God for sustaining her life four years ago, even after doctors assured her and her family that she was not long for this world. She praised Him openly, as did I. The bagger watched us intently, trying to understand our relationship and shot questioning glances at the cashier.

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1Peter 3:15

The conversation was warm and enchanting in that short span of time, but it was what came next that completely and totally convinced me this was a post for others to read. Somehow leaving one another felt awkward and wrong. We reached to hug one another and embraced for a few moments, it was probably shorter than it felt. But we were aware of the stares from the checker and bagger who finally inquired out loud if "knew" one which we both answered almost in unison, "we are sisters." She, more mature and having navigated the joys of motherhood and grandmotherhood...I, at the beginning stages, relishing in the joys of each moment. Yet, a common denominator in our thanksgiving for the blessings extended by a great and awesome God.

We were fortunate that no other customers piled into Line 7 for it afforded us extra time to enjoy one another and to make an impact on two young grocery store employees. My packages, bagged and I, not quite in as much a hurry as I'd been, I began out of the store, when she touched my sleeve, just once more, and explained how she volunteers to feed and pray for other elderly folks not as capable as she. She said her dad had given her a gift very young in life. He used to say that a smile makes a difference. She said MY smile made a difference, that she wanted to talk to me because I smiled at her. I am not sure I even remembered I had done so, but she went on to say that each and every patient she encounters,she passes along something her dad gave her...she reached into her purse and handed me a small piece of paper, her last one. But she was willing to pass it along and she asked me to also pass it along. I assured her I would.

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart..." Proverbs 15:30

The bagger followed me and asked, "So, are you going to pass it along?" More times than he can imagine. The small paper said this,


A smile costs nothing , but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor, but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine for the sad and it is natures best antidote for trouble. Yet, it cannot be bought, begged or borrowed; for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired or too in a rush to give a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has none to give.
~Author unknown

We know not who we encounter. So often, God asks us to share His Glory, Praise His name and offer Him to those around us. I cannot think of a more beautiful way to share Him than in our smiles. Next time you find yourself in aisle 7, look around...does soemone need your smile?