Nov 29, 2016

The B word....

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LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 16:5

There is a dirty little word that I have tried so very hard to take out of my vocabulary. It used to live in my mouth and be repeated at least a few times a day.

The word starts with a B.

Okay, I won't say it, but I will write it...


Eek. It's even ugly on a computer screen.

This word makes me cringe because it makes me think of a total lack of peace. A familiar place I used to live.

I once heard a saying that resonated within my heart...

"If the devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy."


When we are busy, we cease being able to stop and notice the present circumstance we are in .

When we are busy, we are short with people. All people. The ones under our roof, and the ones out in the world just aching for a little word of encouragement.

Busyness fills our minds and leaves no room for God to implant ideas, thoughts, gestures, and words to reach out to someone in an unplanned way.

We used to talk to people, not text.

We used to hang out with people at our kitchen tables, not group face time them or message them via google chat.

We used to have a handful of people that we did life with, now we do life with the whole entire world on the internet.

All of these things make for very busy, very scattered, very spread super thin lives.

Busyness is nothing new. Remember the story of Mary and Martha?

Martha was in the kitchen busily preparing, planning, and freaking out a bit about all that had to be done.

Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus. Mary knew the importance of being present. She knew that it was okay to be still and sit with the people around her.

Mary understood the importance of the opportunity to be with Jesus. She soaked Him up, she hung on every word...she wasn't about to miss a moment with Him.

We have the same opportunity every single moment of our lives. We can be with Jesus and sit at His feet at any time. Yet, we somehow have too much going on. Life beckons, and we must answer.

Or, do we?

I heard a well-known preacher say recently that people ask him constantly how he has so much peace and lack of urgency in his life, despite the many demands laid upon him daily. He replied, "you are just as busy as me. I just to say no a lot more often."

This preacher knows how to prioritize and escape a busy, yet fruitless life. He sits at the feet of Jesus, and takes his orders from Him. He listens to the voice of God over the voice of the world.

God has a portion for us. A specific assignment each and every day.

We can choose to accept this portion, or we can make our own schedule.

I want to be on God's schedule, not my own. Don't you?

There will always be "something" for us to volunteer for. Something for us to "do". A party for us to attend.

Can I tell you something that has helped me tremendously over the past few years?

I ask myself these questions before adding something else to my plate:

How will this affect my husband, his needs, and his schedule?

How will this affect my children, their needs, and their schedule?

What other assignment that the Lord has given me at this time will I have to sacrifice in order to add this to my plate?

Does this align with what God has called me to do in this season of my life?

Am I going to say yes because I want to please people and not let them down?

Do I want to do this because it is self-promoting?

Am I saying yes because my pride will not let me say no?

This has definitely helped me to pause and think hard about the decision that I need to make. It allows me time to pray and to talk with my husband before jumping in head I have done so many times before.

Listen, I understand that some things are not that big of a deal and that you may not have to ask yourself these questions every single time...

But, I have learned that these little decisions add up and cause a lot of stressors in my day if I am not careful. They may not seem like a big deal, but at the end of the day they can wear a girl down!

We must be cautious with over-commitment. Or as some call it, FOMO. Fear-of-missing-out.

Did you just raise your hand? Been there, friend.

I can guarantee you that it is not the end of the world if we have to miss a function. People will not talk about you {well, your real friends won't}, and life will go on.

There will always be another party. There will always be another opportunity to volunteer. There will always be another women's retreat. You can count on that.

It does not make us cool to be busy. It just makes us tired. And worn out. And unable to function well with our people.

Take a deep breath.

Blow it out slow.

One more time.

Now, go to the Lord and talk to Him about your schedule. Ask Him to lead you today. Ask Him to help you focus on people and not a to-do list.

Simple prayers from scripture you can pray are:

 My times are in Your hands- Psalm 31:15

Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom-Psalm 90:12

Teach me your way, oh Lord; lead me on a straight path- Psalm 27:11

When we spend more time with Jesus, we actually are able to function better. We exude more peace and are able to refresh others so much more.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

The world will pull at you and scream at you to jump in because you are missing out.

Turn your face to the opposite side and see Jesus peacefully desiring a moment with you.

He gives peace. The world brings chaos.

Fill up with His peace, and go spread it over the chaos.

Shine your light and let others know it's okay to give up busy. They just may need an example lived out in front of them. Let that be you.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

out with the b,


Nov 27, 2016

The Secret...

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12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Can I tell you a story?  Will you grab your coffee, your hot tea, or just a cozy blanket and sit with me for a minute?

I love stories, don't you? I remember being very little and would love to listen to anyone telling a story. The way their words would slow down and speed up. The way they paused before continuing on to the suspenseful part...

I still love a good story teller.

God speaks to us through stories. Just read His Word and you will see. He knew we could relate through words. We communicate this way because we are relational.

The story begins last year about this very time.

My family and I packed up our home and we moved into a rental house right in downtown Madison, Georgia.

As we packed, I could hardly contain my excitement. We had prayed about this move and God had aligned all of it so seamlessly.

I wasn't prepared for the huge lump in my throat when I walked out the door of that house we had raised our babies in for the last 10 years. My heart wasn't ready to say goodbye to their little rooms that once held cribs.

But, I managed to close the door behind me and let it go. Just barely.

My excitement soon returned as I thought about our new house and the renovations we were doing. It was fun getting to pick out paint colors and appliances.

However, I wasn't prepared for the reality of what was to come.

We would spend our Christmas season and the next two months in a very unfamiliar rental house. No memories attached. No cozy feel.

It hit me like a thud.

Joy escaped me.

It seemed so dark and dreary. I had a hard time finding the energy to get out of bed.

[side note: You can read exactly where I was at that time in this post [12/19] I wrote last year.  If I ever need to reflect on a certain season of my life, I go back to a SHINE post written during that time.Writing really is therapy, people.]

Decorating for Christmas in this unfamiliar house was so very weird. Nothing was joyful for me during this time. It was like I was in a big pile of quicksand slowly losing the life we once had.

All, well most anyway, of our stuff was packed up in a storage building. I could not find anything.

My life felt so out of control. So different.

During this season, I didn't speak to God a whole lot. I felt like He was distant and I was not in the mood for rejoicing or being thankful. My life felt like it had turned over and all of it was spilled out into a dark and cold storage building.

God soon sent an angel that rescued me that Christmas. Her name I will not share. We live in a small town. [a very small town]

As I was drearily waiting in line at the grocery story, this lady walked up to me and we started chatting. I had known her for a while, but had not seen her in a long time. We talked and talked and talked.

She shared with me some hardships that she and her family were facing. Big, big, big heavy hardships.

I told her I would pray for her and that I hoped she and her family would be okay for Christmas.

When I finally got to my car I broke down crying. Sobbing my eyeballs out.

I had a major heart to heart with God. I spilled it all out right there in the Ingles parking lot.

Suddenly, life in the little rental house with hardly any furniture or familiar items seemed not so bad.

In fact, it seemed downright joyful compared to what my friend was facing.

I asked God to forgive me for my crappy attitude the last few weeks, and I begged Him to bless this friend and her family in a HUGE way.

The next few days, I could not stop thinking and praying for her. I wanted to help her so badly but I had no idea how to help.

We didn't have much to spare, especially at Christmas.

On December 7th, I sent out an email to some dear friends about helping this family. The main thing I needed help with was prayer. I knew that God would provide their needs, but I needed an army of prayer warriors to pray on their behalf.

Soon after the email was sent, I was bombarded with people wanting to help. It was like the gray clouds immediately parted and I could see the light of day again.

A couple of days after I sent the email, I was contacted by a man that I did not even know. He said he and his wife wanted to help this family with all of their needs. ALL of them. I almost dropped the phone.

What?? But, you don't even know me, or her, or this family...and you want to help? How do you even know this is legit??

This man asked for a list of the things they needed and for bills that needed to be paid.

He and several other dear friends filled EVERY need and MUCH MORE.

These people will never know how God was able to use this lady's need to fill a big hole in my own heart. How could God kill two birds with one stone like that? Isn't He amazing?

Needless to say, my faith was restored.

My discontent was quickly turned into a big ol' heap of JOY.

The friend that I saw at the grocery story is doing so very well. Her family is thriving. They are in a much better place and she gives all the glory to God.


God knew that I didn't need a house filled with Christmas cheer. Or familiar traditions and surroundings.

God knew I needed perspective. He knew I needed my thankfulness restored in a big way.

Do you remember the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man? Jesus told this man, "your sins are forgiven."

The religious leaders thought Jesus was out of His mind to say such a thing. Who on earth had the power to forgive sins, but God?

Little did they know that Jesus did. He was, in fact, the Son of God.

Here is Jesus' reply in Mark 2:1-12:

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Friends, God always knows  the things we so desperately need the most. He knows us inside-out and outside-in.

When we are tempted to think that He has abandoned us, or forgotten us....

Look for Him. Look for His people.

What you think you probably not what you really need.

God often shows us the real truth of our soul hunger in ways that we never could have seen through our human eyes.

He shows us through His eyes...through His people.

And just like the paralytic man...

We are healed.

When our eyes are on Jesus and not on our circumstances, things become crystal clear.

Life suddenly is focused.

Look for Him today as you go about your business. Ask Him to meet you and to put His people in your path.

We absolutely cannot be miserable when we take our eyes off of self, and give thanks despite our circumstances.

Colossians 3:15-17:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This weekend, my daughter and I begin to unpack our Christmas decorations. A flood of memories washed over me. These decorations had the perfect spot at our old house. Where would I put this stuff now? My joy was slowly fading.

Then, I immediately thanked the Lord for what His Hands have provided. I listed everything I could think of to be thankful for, and like cool water being poured over my spirit, I felt the joy rush in.

1 Thessalonians 5:18:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

That is the secret to our healing.

giving thanks,



Nov 16, 2016

Real Simple...

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“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me...'
Isaiah 55:1-3

My mother-in-law gets me a subscription to a magazine called "Real Simple" every year. I love it.

However, I have noticed that I don't have as much time to read it anymore. I used to know exactly when it would come, and I could not wait to hole myself up in my room [or bathroom, or anywhere I could escape] and read it.

My life has become not real simple.

Too many irons in the fire. Too much activity. Not enough simple.

As I pondered the thought of simplifying things in my life, my mind went to the way things used to be.

I used to scrapbook my children's lives. Who has time for that anymore?

I used to devour cookbooks and write down the recipes on a note card if I found a recipe I loved. Now, the internet will find me the best and quickest recipe and will even create my shopping list!

I used to sit down and write cards to people. This is one of my favorite things to do. However, I don't even seem to have time to do this anymore.

I used to call my friends and have the best talks as I sat in the long car pool lines. Now, I scroll through social media or text a line or two to a few friends.

My life has become abbreviated.

You would think this would mean, "simplified". But, it's not.

I have a feeling you can relate. I have had this conversation with many friends. We all seem to long for simple. Yet, cannot seem to find it.

So, what's the deal? Is simple out of reach anymore?

Or, are we just so used to living in clutter, and chaos, and fast-paced living that we have forgotten what simple looks like.

As I read the New Testament and the life of Jesus, I am constantly reminded of what simple looks like. Jesus had one purpose. He wasn't too fussy, or extravagant or require a whole lot of "stuff".

In fact, He was quite the opposite. He made it His ambition to live a live of fullness without fluff.

His life was not loud and boisterous and in your face...

His life was quiet, meek, humble, and hidden.

Often, He escaped from the crowds. He longed to be with His Father in prayer.

Jesus wasn't trying to fit in with the "right people", or keep up with the latest trends.

Jesus lived His life to heal others. To minister to the lost, broken, destitute, and rejected.

Jesus had one simple goal: Others.

Life can get simple real quick when we make serving others and seeking God above all else our priority.

The other "things" that clutter us up fall by the wayside.

We won't get hung up on trying to impress the world, or please people.

Simple living requires a simple focus.

This verse right here says it all.

"make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

What if our ambition was to lead a simple, quiet life? What if we minded our own business and tended to our own flock?

Things would look a lot different, wouldn't they?

We spend so much time trying to be noticed...

We spend so much time trying to fix things and fix people...

We spend so much time making sure our voices are heard, our faces are seen, and that we are not forgotten....

Then, we end up miserable.

We end up with a gaping hole of anxiety and restlessness.

A simple life requires a life devoted to the service of One.

When He is our only Master, our work each day is much lighter.

Simple living is not out of date.

It is available, we just have to get rid of the excess keeping it from our reach.

 Simple living is freedom.

Freedom from the bondage of people, time, and accumulating stuff.

What's cluttering up your life and keeping you from simple living?

Pray and ask God to help you get to the simple place.

It's a place where you won't find a whole crowd of folks. You can spread out here and have plenty of room.

Stretch out your legs and enjoy. Finally.

reading my magazine,


Nov 8, 2016


Not too long ago, I did something dreadful.

My daughter saw this horrible display of dreadfulness, and I had a very hard time being able to shake the guilt from my heart.

Basically I had a hormone melt down in front of her and it wasn't pretty. [insert red face]

All was well in her little world after the "episode", or it seemed to be, but I was in the stuck zone.

I was stuck in my guilt. Paralyzed with self-disgust.

Ever been there?

It is a hard place to be.

The enemy wants to shame you and tell you that you are worthless. He wants to throw stones at you and laugh in your tear filled face.

On the other hand, Jesus beckons us to come to Him. He reminds us that there is nothing too big to stain us from His blood-washed love over us.

I wanted to believe Jesus. I wanted to surrender to His Peace and His forgiveness.

However, the enemy was relentless. I kept picturing my daughter remembering that dreadful day and sitting on a psychologist's couch when she is 30 recounting her mother's hormone haywire day[s].

Ugh. The guilt.

Then, I remembered a book that I am reading with a few friends...The title is "Grace not perfection."



I needed some grace in a major way.

God had already forgiven me. My daughter had forgiven me. I hope the neighbors didn't hear and if they did I hope the forgive me too. [eek]

The struggle was with forgiving myself.

Not sure about you, but I find it much easier to forgive someone else than to forgive myself.

Why is it so hard?

Why do we extend grace so freely to others and withhold it from ourselves?

I kept going back to King David.

He messed up so many times. So. many. times.

Yet, David always moved on.

He believed God loved him and he believed God forgave him.

So, perhaps, our struggle is with believing what God tells us.

When He tells us our sins are forgiven, He means it.

Let me repeat that one more time...When He tells us our sins are forgiven, He means it.

Yes, there will be consequences, but forgiveness is ours for the taking.

The enemy would love to bury us in guilt. From head to toe.

We cannot be of any use when we live in guilt.

We suffocate under the weight of guilt.

How can we extend a hand to help others if it is buried 10 feet under in guilt?

So, as I wallowed in guilt, I decided to fall to my knees. Repent. And thank God for forgiving me.

I got up, wiped the guilt dust off of my pants, and moved on.

It felt like a 100 lb weight had been lifted off of  my shoulders.

No wonder Jesus tells us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I realize I have been using this scripture a lot. But, I just cannot help myself. It nourishes my weary soul.

Perhaps this is why I can relate so very much to this woman in scripture that anointed Jesus' feet with perfume. I can taste her desperation. I can smell her eager desire to just touch the feet of Jesus. I get it. I know how it feels to just want to throw yourself down headlong at the feet of Jesus.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:36-50

Friend, read that last line.

The greater need for our forgiveness, the greater opportunity for us to show love.


If we don't recognize our need for His redeeming Love, we will never be able to pour out what He so graciously pours into us through His redemption.

Are you struggling with forgiving yourself?

You will never be healed hanging onto that guilt. It will suffocate you. It will hold you down and keep you from your God-Promised Destiny.

Will you go to the feet of Jesus? Will you throw yourself down and wash His feet with your tears?

Feel the sweet release of His Love, His Peace, His Grace wash right back over you.

Then, get up, and move on.

You've got big things to do for His Kingdom.



Nov 3, 2016

Before you fall....

A few weeks ago I found myself face first in a deep dark pit of fear.

I have been in that same pit before, but this time I thought that I knew better. I thought I was victorious over fear. I thought fear could not hold me captive again.

How very wrong I was.

It started by a very small thought. Then, I expressed this thought to a couple of people. Then, I turned this thought over in my head day and night, night and day.

Then, I started googling this thought. As you all know, google is a terrible place to look for something out of fear and desperation. Anyone been there? Ever had a sick child and googled their symptoms? Yep, full blown anxiety attack.

When we are in a place of captivity, we turn inward. We secretly think things and act on impulses that are completely irrational and against our faith nature.

We rely on flesh.

The last place we often turn is to the Word of God.

We think to ourselves, "I don't need scripture, I need an answer."

We look for peace and assurance in all the wrong places.

I imagine God is looking down thinking, "Daughter, you know you won't find the answer there. Come to me. Come to me, weary girl."

Often when we find ourselves in captivity, we are blind and deaf to the Lord. Sin separates us form Him. [Isaiah 59:2]

I remember thinking in this deep well of fear that I could not even remember what peace felt like. It felt so far away. I even blamed God for letting me get this far into the well of fear.

My own choices led me there. I chose to not take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:5]

I chose to go my own way.

I chose to listen to the world and the lure of google to give me an answer for my worries.

God didn't push me away, I pushed away with the help of an enemy who roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8]

Here's the thing..

I know better.

I have been down this road more times than I want to remember.

I knew not to take the dark paths that lead to fear.

But, my flesh desired more. More answers. More information.

Remember what finally got Eve to bite the piece of fruit in the garden? It was her desire for more. She wanted to know more. She wanted to have full knowledge.

I wanted the same thing.

The world will never, ever, fulfill us. The world and its answers will only make us crazy, fearful, and empty.

We must turn to God when we find ourselves on the brink of any kind of captivity.

This is why the enemy loves when we fall into dark wells of captivity:

  • We turn inward.
  • We cease praying.
  • We cease reading God's Word.
  • We turn away from friends and family in our shame.
  • We do desperate things in order to fill the sin craving.
  • We cease being able to use our gifts to minister to others.
  • We cease to serve others because we are self-consumed.
Oh, friends, if I could look you right in the face and tell you something right now it would be to stop looking to the world for saving. The world will NOT save us. The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Only God can save us. Only God can wash us over with peace. Only God is our refuge and our strong tower. [Psalm 61:3]

The world will suck us in and it will feel like we are stuck on the spin cycle of a washing machine.

If you find yourself in this place. Stop. Immediately.

Go straight to the Father and repent of your sins.

Ask Him to give you the strength to stay away from things that will lead you straight back into the black well of captivity. You know the things that tempt you. You know them well and so does your enemy.

I can tell you with all honesty and truth that God will help you. He will rescue you. But, you must be willing to turn away. You must use the strength He gives you to walk back to Him and His Truth and Peace.

His Life Line is always there. Always. You just have to reach for it.

Coming out of the fog of fear, I look back and cannot believe how I fell again. I know better.

However, our enemy is relentless and he doesn't miss an opportunity to tempt us. Often when we are weak, stressed, when he strikes.

Be alert! Be on guard! [1 Peter 5:8]

Clothe yourselves daily with scripture. Do not give the enemy an opportunity to trip you up. Put your armor on before the attack comes.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10

Don't ever be fooled enough to think that you are so far along in your faith that you cannot be tempted right back to that place of captivity.

Paul tells us to not boast in ourselves, but to boast in Christ alone.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

We must be intentional about waking up every morning and inhaling God's Word just as much as we like to inhale our coffee. We must be intentional about praying as much as we like to browse social media. And, we MUST be alert to the things around us that the enemy is using to trip us up. We must open our spiritual eyes and keep them open every single day.

The enemy is not just out to destroy us...he is out to destroy our husbands, our children, our families. Make no mistake about that. You are not spared. Be ready to take your stand against his schemes.

The good news is, we will always be victorious with God on our side. We cannot lose.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

armor up,


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