Shear Madness

It was Thursday night in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ last supper with the disciples had ended.  His words had been sober & serious — leaving the men confused, dejected, disappointed, and a few of them feeling betrayed.  How could Jesus be leaving them?  The ruler of this world was coming?  What?  They had left everything to follow Jesus, who they thought would be Ruler.

Jesus gets up and motions, “Come on boys.” (John 14:32). Heading outside the city toward the Mt of Olives, they walk single file through vineyards. Jesus reaches down and lifts up a branch. “I am the Vine & my Father is the Gardener.  God will tend & cultivate your lives with great care & wisdom — for His heart is set on helping you become fruitful.”  I love John 15.  It’s a weighty passage that reveals the heart of our God, who is for us, not against us.

Years ago, I would criticize my husband when he’d prune bushes and trees in our yard.  I’d try to convince him to take less and leave some blooms to enjoy.  Boy, was I wrong!  And so, this last weekend, I kept my mouth shut as we filled 2 1/2 trailers of pruned plants.  It was shocking, drastic, …and absolutely neccesary.    Many Christians misunderstand God’s  pruning as painful punishment.  The truth is — when God prunes us, it is always for our good.  God is removing the things in our lives that are draining away our energy & strength. Pruning is God’s way of making us stronger so we can handle more fruit.

When you are a young branch (new in your walk with the Lord), His pruning may seem like little snips.  God is dealing with exterior matters in your life.  But, as you mature, pruning seems to become more harsh.  Don’t panic! God is dealing with matters of your heart, so the pain may seem more intense.  Soon enough, pruning season will pass, and you’ll be enjoying new growth; new transformation; new fruit.  The “thing” you lost will be a far away, fading memory.

Perhaps, you feel like your faith is being tested right now.  Has God had His pruning shears out?  Be encouraged — He is a Master Gardener.  He knows exactly how to cultivate you into a fruit-FULL season.  You are safe in His hands.

Something Worth Hating

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant,a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. Proverbs 6:16-19

Hate is a strong word…it literally means to loathe or detest. I hate flying beetles; untangling Christmas lights; the taste of sour kraut; shopping for a new bra; cancer. But after giving it some thought — hands down, the thing I hate most is the abuse of children. Whenever I hear of a child’s innocence being violated by the evil hands or hateful words from another, a righteous anger boils up in me. It’s sickening to let my mind think for one moment of the abuses that happen way too frequently, every day, all around this world. How the heart of God must break at the depths of such sinfulness. How much He must hate; loathe; detest the assault on the most vulnerable and innocent ones among us.

It would be better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and jump into the sea; than to hurt one of His children. Luke 17:2

With a problem this big and so vast, what are we to do? How can we really make a difference? Here’s some steps all Christians can take to be part of the solution.

  1. Speak up when you see abuse. Defend & protect children from bullies and predators.
  2. Love, listen, & value the children in your life…teachers, Sunday school leaders, parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles! Slow down and give ear to the kids. Reassure them that they are safe with you. Explain to them why they should not keep secrets from you. Keep the lines of communication open.
  3. Discuss with your children how to stay safe from predators and bullies. For example: Never go with an adult you do not know. Mommy will not send someone else to pick you up. Go tell another adult if you feel frightened or uneasy with a situation.
  4. Place boundaries around your children to guard their innocence. Even when others “mock” your restrictions, stick to your guns. Your kids are worth protecting! Some of the things I hope you will consider: No boy baby sitters. No biking outside your neighborhood. Encourage sleepovers at YOUR home. Parental controls on computers, phones, & video games.
  5. Pray for your children! Ask God to put a hedge of angelic protection round their lives. Ask God to give you discernment & wisdom on how to best protect them from harm. Rebuke the devil from your child’s life.
  6. Never ever ever harm a child! You may not be a child molester…but you can harm a child with hateful, angry words. If your angry, walk away and calm down before talking to children. Determine to speak words of life…that build up, not tear down. You cannot tell a child enough how special & loved they are. It’s food to their little souls.

I know it’s a downer to discuss such ugly topics. But we cannot afford to be like a ostrich with our head stuck in the ground. Our children need our protection of their hearts, minds, and bodies. May God help us!

The Extra Mile!

Receiving a frantic phone call from my son sent my heart racing.  While away on vacation, he received word that his dog, Lucy, had been hit by a truck.  Unable to get home, Caleb needed me to come to the rescue.  Little did I know, that God had already sent a few angels ahead of me.

I arrived on scene to over a dozen strangers ( and 1 very kind policeman) who were caring for Lucy the best they could.  What astonished me was the degree everyone was willing to help…water, towels, transportation, calls to vets, comforting me.  Two car loads followed me to the vet, and were still in the waiting room 3 hours later when Lucy unfortunately passed away.  On the eve of the 4th of July holiday — when people are rushing to prepare for their own family celebrations — this group of people showed me (and Lucy) incredible kindness.  They really went the EXTRA mile.

We live in a hurried, harsh world.  People have become too busy; too distracted; too cynical.  We no longer expect others to treat us with kindness.  We’re even surprised when someone let’s us go first in line or offers a helping hand.   Kindness has become rare…even among Christians.

Last night moved me — challenged me to reconsider how much kindness is flowing from my own life.  Sure, I’m kind on the surface. I smile. I open the door for others.  I say “please” and “thank you”.  But the kindness Jesus wants me to show this world is radical.  His kindness goes the extra mile.

Go the extra mile.  Matthew 5:41

Be kind to one another; tenderhearted. Ephesians 4:32

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

12 total strangers impacted my life last night with kindness.  If I — if you — if the church were to dare to show “extra mile” kindness more often, our impact in the world would greatly increase.  Kindness will make us shine brightly, like a light set up on a hill.  I hope this will give you food for thought.  May the Lord continue to speak to all our hearts about His way of kindness.

Go Big!

Many years ago, a friend gave me the unexpected & extravagant gift of a solitary diamond.  She explained that the Lord told her to give it to me as a sign that He would always exceed my faith with good gifts I hadn’t even thought of or asked for.  I’ve now worn this diamond on my right hand for close to 25 years.  Every day it testifies to me of the generosity and faithfulness of God.  And, true to His promise, God has and continues to do “above and beyond” what I dare ask and believe for.

I consider myself a “faith girl”.   I KNOW I serve a great God, who delights in doing the seemingly impossible in my life.  I think my prayers are big, daring, and bold. But lately God has been challenging me to ask bigger; dream bigger; believe for bigger.  Every where I turn, in simple, yet profound ways, I feel His nudge to go big!

My wildest dreams

My craziest ideas

My deepest longings

My grand plans

The things I dare not share with anyone else and barely my own soul will imagine.  I can’t say it any better than God’s word does…

God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.   Ephesians 3:20 (Message)

Let me tell you, God is not thinking small.  God is not going to give you some mediocre dream.  There will be an element of the impossible so you are constantly drawn to Him, and ultimately, give Him all the glory.

Whatever you are asking God for today — dare to ask bigger!  Go big! The One who promised that we would do greater works than He (John 14:12-14) is the same One who spoke all things into existence.  He has the ability to back up what He is promising.

I’m praying for you, friend, that as you read these words your faith will grow. Dare to believe your great God can and will do above and beyond what you ask or think.   GO BIG! Scratch that — GO BIGGER!

Raw Faith

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.  Hebrews 11:6

Living by faith is exciting — never a dull moment.  Every moment of every day, God calls us to live by faith.  Like any good father, He wants us to trust Him above all else.  And, as we do, we will experience an abundant life — where signs & wonders follow us wherever we go.

Sounds simple, but, who are we kidding?  Faith is not easy.  In fact, it’s never ever easy!

  • Faith is scary – leading us into the unknown – where answers come 1 step at a time.
  • Faith fights my own inner struggle to be in control & to rely on my own cleverness.  Faith calls me to surrender the reigns of life over to Jesus.
  • Faith has no plan B.  (Let that truth sink in.)
  • Faith is digging in my heels and standing my ground holding onto God’s hand.

But, without faith, we will never please God.  We will never move mountains.  We will never reach our full destiny.  We will never see miracles.   We will never bring God the great glory He deserves.

So, where is faith leading you today?   Don’t give up!  You can strengthen your faith muscles right now.

  • Recall God’s faithfulness — He’ll never let you down.
  • Remember God’s promises —- His perspective, His wisdom, His truth are greater than your feelings.
  • Lift His name up in praise & worship – His name is greater than your circumstances.
  • Pray — lighten your load by casting the weight of your cares on Him.  Get others praying with you too.
  • Read Bible stories — Peter walking on water; 3 Hebrew men who survived a fiery furnace & lived to tell about it; Lazarus rising from the dead; Sarah giving birth at the ripe ole age of 90…. God is the same today as He was for those saints.

I know I’m not writing about anything new…faith is a topic that affects the life of all Christians every single day BIG TIME!  I’ve been walking by faith for over 40 years — and I would never live life any other way.  God HAS been faithful!  He has done many many miracles.  He has taken “impossible” situations and turned them around for my good countless times.  But, it has not been the easy road.  My heart is tender toward my brothers and sisters who are also fighting the good fight of faith.  Don’t grow weary trusting God.  Raw faith IS the BEST path for us to take!



War of Words

As I turn off the morning newscast, I feel like shouting, “Wake Up America!”  Grown adults carelessly, endlessly, exhaustingly talking!  It’s shocking how careless people are becoming with their words; especially on social media. Living in a country with freedom of speech seems to be crossing the line into sheer foolishness, where disrespect, dogmatic opinions, and just plain selfishness reigns. I’d like to take a moment today to remind everyone about the power of your words.

1) Your mouth gives you away!

When you begin to speak, people get a glimpse at what is really in your heart. Come to think of it, YOU get a glimpse at what’s in your heart. Listen to yourself. Re-read your texts, Twitter and Facebook posts. What fruit is your heart producing?

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45

Even a fool appears to be wise when he keeps his mouth shut. Proverbs 17:28

2) Your words can hurt or help.

Every time you open your mouth to speak, you have a choice to make. Will my words help or hurt? Will my words pour water or fuel on a fire? Will my words bring life & encouragement? Or, will my words kill and destroy? It’s your choice! Make it wisely.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” – everyone’s Mama

3) Beware of “mouth” disease.

Don’t fall into the foolish habits of the world. Instead of a war OF words, let’s declare a war ON our words. Gossiping, exaggerating, lying, flattery, bragging — not to mention blatantly hateful, mean words — are all curable diseases.

A war of words is really a war of hearts. And, God is the perfect One to go to for a heart transplant. Imagine a world ( a workplace, a church, a home) where people are using their words to encourage one another; honor one another; respect one another; love one another? Sounds like heaven on earth to me!

As you go about your life today, remember words really matter! .

• Think before you speak.  Learn to tame your tongue.

• Speak the truth in love.

• Speak less; listen more.

• Ask God for wisdom. The Bible has a lot of wise advice to give you as you declare war ON your words — I encourage you to start with James 3:1-12; Ephesians 4:29 & 5:4 ; Colossians 4:6; Psalm 141:3.

Come on America, we are better than this.  Let’s turn the tide of of our culture and once again show respect, honor, love, and wisdom with our words.  We can do this!!  YOU can do this!

Reaching for Jesus

She had come to her wits end. Her hope was gone; her money was spent; her doctors baffled. Desperate for help, she digs deep into her soul for one last ounce of strength. Ignoring the pain & the crowd that stood between her and the “Anointed One”, she drops to hands and knees. Crawling. Pushing. Reaching for Jesus.

In Luke 8:43-48, we learn of this woman, who’s sickness led her searching for the Healer. With dogged determination, she presses in to touch the hem of His garment. His power is released. She is healed instantly and completely!

I am challenged to my core to live life like this woman. Nothing could keep her from reaching for Jesus. No crowd. No sickness. Not even the hopelessness of her heart could stop her from pressing in. Her eyes were set on Him. He was ALL she needed.

Unfortunately, it was sickness that brought her to this wonderful moment. But, it doesn’t have to be that way for you and I. Here’s how we can cultivate a hunger for Him even when the sun is shining.

  • Refuse to be a “lukewarm”, casual Christian… one who stands in the crowd watching Jesus pass by.  Go all in. Determine to reach; strain for; press into His presence every single day.  Come to Him hungry for more.
  • Seek Him first! Make Him the Center of your life. He alone sits on the throne of your heart. No more negotiating with my foolish self. He is #1. (Matthew 6:33)
  • Taste and see that the Lord is good. The more you know Jesus, the more you won’t want to do life without Him. (Psalm 34:8)
  • When tough times come (and they will), stay focused on Him…the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Keep your eyes on Him. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Like a compass searching for due north, set your heart on Him today. Let nothing stand in your way. If necessary, drop to your knees and crawl. REACH!

Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will open to you. Matthew 7:7


Bitter Sweet

My dear freind, Shay, stepped in heaven yesterday morning. Escorted by the angels, Shay was led to King Jesus. All her tiredness, anxiety, and sickness left her once and for all.  As Jesus embraced her, she received her new name, her new body, her new home. Today she stands strong, full of joy and new life.  She’s reunited with loved ones.  In light of a greater revelation of God,  I can almost hear her calling to us still on earth — “Our God IS a God of miracles.  How great!  How perfect! How wonderful is He.”

I woke up sad this morning…not sad for Shay, but sad for life without her.  Sad for her kids who will no longer have their mother.  It’s truly bitter sweet.  When we reach for God’s perspective, we understand that “the death of saint is precious in the sight of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).  No words can begin to describe how much better our lives will be when we take that wonderful step into eternity.  We are but foreigners on earth…our true home sweet home is heaven, in the presence of our God.

Have you lost a loved one and felt that “bitter sweet” pain in your heart?  How do we keep on living by faith when God answered our prayers for healing, by taking our loved one home to heaven?  How do we grieve and celebrate life simultaneously?

  • Remember the good.  Grief mingles with joy when we glance back to celebrate life.  It will help heal your soul by laughing & crying as you recall the good times shared with your loved one.
  • Live with eternity in your heart. (Eccl. 3:11).  Our lives on earth are but a moment in light of what’s to come.  Live to know Jesus more & more & more….
  • Highly value relationships every day.  Life can change on a dime.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to embrace those God has placed in your life.  Tell them you love them often.
  •  Keep living by faith.  Our God’s ways are higher than ours. While we may never understand why He heals some on earth and others with a new life in heaven, we keep trusting Him. We keep asking for miracles. We keep standing on the truth of Ephesians 3:20. “Our God will do above and beyond what we ask or think.”

So, today is bitter sweet. I already miss my sweet friend.  And, if you have a moment today, please pray with me for her son and daughter.

The Power of a Pout

Do you know what stops me in my tracks?  A pout on one of my grandkids faces.  When they’ve unsuccessfully got what they want from Mama, they come pouting to Grandma.  They know I’m an easy target.  They know I have such a hard time saying “no” to my kids (especially grandkids).  And it doesn’t stop with my family, I love blessing friends, family, total strangers, the dog…  Don’t we all enjoy making others happy?

One of the toughest lessons in life is learning to accept the fact we cannot ever make everyone happy all of the time.   First of all, we are all sinners. Try as we may, we all make many mistakes every single day.  We say the wrong things; do (or not do) the wrong things.  If it wasn’t for God’s amazing grace, many of us would crawl into a corner of shame and cry.  Thank God, Jesus loves us and gives countless chances to learn and grow.  If you are beating yourself today for failing once again, turn and fall into God’s arms.  He will dust you off; stand you back up on your feet; graciously give you a fresh start, free from shame.

Secondly,  even though we love making others happy, we need to live to please God and God alone.  That means, we won’t always live up to others expectations.  On many occasions Jesus said “no” to the needs & desires of others.  “No, Mom, I can’t stop what I’m doing and come outside to chat with you and my brothers.  No, Mary and Martha, I can’t come right this minute to heal Lazuras.”  When the crowds pulled and prodded on Jesus to meet “their” needs and wants, He remained focused on His Father.   Pleasing God steered His days.   May the same be said of our lives.  Dear friends, it is a deeply satisfying feeling to lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day and know you have made God smile.

So in the wise words of Taylor Swift (LOL), shake it off.  When others pout because you let them down, shake it off.  When shame and regret hang over you like a dark cloud, shake it off.  Set your gaze on Jesus.  Live to please Him!


For the sake of the children!


About 7 years ago, I stepped back into the field of education and immediately recognized a radical change in this generation of children.  Many sound like  “little adults” speaking the jargon of  Oprah philosophy…sorting through deep emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and fear.   They are tech savvy, extremely busy, and exhausted in this fast paced world.   In a word, they are so SERIOUS.

As a parent, grandparent, and educator, I implore you to guard your child’s innocence.

  • Keep life simple.
  • Lavish them with praise, encouragement, and love.
  • Guide them through struggles by taking the extra time to help them learn empathy, respect, honesty, honor,…
  • Take them to church on a regular basis.
  • Don’t rescue them from challenges and hard work — but be present to advise, aid, and encourage them along when times get tough.
  • Pray for them AND with them.
  • Laugh & play together.
  • Set boundaries – learn to say “no” and mean it.
  • Be their parent, not their friend.

I’m not saying anything new — but these truths need to be shouted from the rooftops.  Our children have been born at a difficult, yet privledged time in history.   We can stop the trend of raising a generation of emotional & spiritual anemics.  Slow down and make the most of every day opportunities.  LOVE your children the way God (not the world) intends you to.