If You Don’t Like Who You Are…It Is Your Fault.

Do you agree with this statement?   I heard someone say this the other day.   My initial reaction was, “Hey!  Wait a minute!  I can’t control the circumstances in my life!”  But then I thought about all of the things I can control.  I can control how much I eat and exercise.  Which affects not only how I look but how I feel and how much energy I have.  I can control how I use the money that I have been blessed with…whether it is a little or a lot.  I can choose to spend, save, give.  The choices I make directly correlate to the peace I experience in my life.  I can control how I respond to my husband…my children…my extended family…my friends.  I can respond in love and kindness or I can respond in irritation or bitterness or indifference.  I have the choice to make a withdrawal from that relationship or a deposit into that relationship.

What about the circumstances we can’t control?  An illness or a job lost or a tragic death in the family,  just to name a few.  This is where I had trouble with this statement.  And yet…it still comes down to facing these circumstances (eventually) with submission and trust.  My sweet cousins lost their dear father (my uncle) at the beginning of this year.  The way they have responded to this tragedy has been such an inspiration and example to me.  They are godly women who have chosen to submit their wills and lives to God and to trust in Him, even through the darkness.  This attitude is the only one that brings peace and contentment.  If  they would have chosen to shake their fists at God and shout “WHY?”  it would not only have harmed their peace of mind, but their families’, as well.  I imagine that their first response was to question God and to respond in anger.  But, somewhere along the way, they both made a choice.  A choice to trust our Heavenly Father.  A choice to follow God even when it is painful.  A choice to believe that God loves them, even though He allowed an incredible tragedy to change their lives forever.

My conclusion is that this statement is probably true.  If I am unhappy, do not have any friends, struggle with being overweight, or am in debt up to my eyeballs, or any number of things…my first action must be to look at myself.  To find out if there is any sin that may be causing this problem in my life.

Of course, there are things that cause much pain and heartache, bringing about some of these things that are beyond our control…medical conditions that mess with our metabolism…spouses who do not join us in our financial goals…etc.   These things are tough things to deal with and may be completely out of our control.  But I guess it still comes down to attitude and living out the fruits of the Spirit in my life as I deal with the things that are difficult and painful.    Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Patience.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faithfulness.  Gentleness.  Self-Control.

We all make wrong choices sometimes.  May we be prayerful enough to recognize them,  humble enough to admit them, and obedient enough to draw our strength from Christ as we pick ourselves up and move on.

Galatians 5:22-23; Proverbs 3:5-6

Wet Feet

Have you ever watched sandpipers at the beach? I love watching these small birds  that hang out along the ocean’s edge. They will go as close to the water as possible, using their long bill to dig in the mud for edible treasures but as soon as a wave comes they run away from the surf as quickly as their strong legs will carry them. On the occasion that the wave can’t be outrun, the smart bird will take flight at the very last possible second. They don’t want to be overcome by a wave. Apparently, wet feet are okay, but they have no interest in getting completely wet. We can be a bit like this, too, sometimes, can’t we? We don’t mind getting our feet a bit wet, but we aren’t ready to give 100%. We run away from the shore for many reasons but one big reason is because of fear.

For instance, sometimes God will give me this awesome opportunity to share the Gospel with someone.  And instead of sharing the Truth directly and with love, I tiptoe around the edge of the shore and then, when I get too worried about offending someone and “losing their friendship”,  I get scared and run away– just like the sandpiper.

Or how about with our kids? Sometimes we know we shouldn’t let them do something or watch something or listen to something. But they let us know that ALL their friends are doing it, watching it, or listening to it.  And we get scared that they will hate us or tell their friends mean things about us so, instead of standing our ground, we turn and run away from the conflict. Because of fear.

Or maybe God is calling us to take on a new ministry or reach out to a neighbor who is hurting or change our career or to use a talent that will stretch us. We think about it. We go online and investigate it. We daydream about it.  And then the fear takes over and we run away. We make the decision to stay in our comfort zone. Because we are scared.

Sometimes circumstances are such that  it is not prudent to share the Gospel. Sometimes we need to pick our battles with our kids. And sometimes it is not God leading us into a new adventure but our feelings and emotions getting the best of us. It is important to be reading God’s Word, praying, and seeking His will.  But if we truly believe that God has granted us an amazing opportunity to share the Gospel with our unsaved friend or acquaintance or if we know we should stand up for what’s right with our kids or He is leading us to venture onto a path into the unknown, well, then we need to face our fears and get our whole body into the ocean!

Psalm 31:24; Galatians 6:9; Joshua 1:9

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

grumpy girl

Elisabeth Elliot wrote the following list. It is such a great list that I had to share it. And most of us are susceptible to a few things on this list on a daily basis. It is certainly something to think about–

1.  Count your troubles, name them one by one- at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2. Worry every day about something. Don’t let yourself get out of practice. It won’t add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man’s gotta live.

5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they’re going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.

6. Stay away from absolutes. It’s what’s right for you that matters. Be your own person and don’t allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7. Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people’s. You have your life to live, they have theirs.

8. Don’t fall into any compassion traps– the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people’s troubles, you may neglect your own.

9. Don’t let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what’s really relevant–things like TV and newspapers.  Invisible things are eternal.  You want to stick with the visible ones–they’re where it’s at now.

 *From Elisabeth Elliot's "Keep a Quiet Heart."

Appreciating the Sunshine and the Rain

I love the sunshine.  The sun beating down on my face on a warm summer day…the way it brings clarity and beauty to almost anything it shines upon…the clear blue skies or the puffy clouds that accompany the sunshine.  Can we ever have too much sun?  Well, we all know the answer to that.  Of course, we can.   Yesterday I heard my husband say yet again how dry it is and how worried he is.  Our company is very dependent on the weather.  When it doesn’t rain, the lawns turn brown and go dormant (and sometimes die).  When the lawns turn brown, they stop growing.  When they stop growing, our lawn-mowing division runs out of work.

There is another side to this equation, though.  We have experienced too much rain, as well.  With an over abundance of rain come different problems.   When it is too wet, the lawns and plants are plagued with fungi, unsightly mushrooms, and disease.  If it continues to rain, flooding occurs and lawns and plants eventually die.

As I was thinking about the balance of sunshine and rain that the ecosystem needs to survive,  my thoughts turned to my life.  You see, we have a tendency as humans to do an awful lot of complaining about the rainy days.  When will the sun shine again?  How long will it rain?  This rain is ruining our picnic…or baseball game…or trip to the amusement park.  We feel frustrated about this thing that is beyond our control.  And, interestingly enough, we often do the same thing when it “rains” on our lives.  Bad times come and we complain.  Why me?  Why now?  “I didn’t need this right now” is often something I will murmur under my breath when something goes wrong (which begs the question -when exactly would I have liked the negative circumstances to occur? )

But just like the earth needs a balance of sunshine and rain to not only survive, but to operate at its optimum level, so we, too, need both kinds of days in our lives.  The sunny, peaceful days and the stormy, shadow-filled days.  The moments filled with confident decisiveness and the moments filled with questions and doubts.   The tears of joy and the tears of sorrow.

I don’t always understand why some have so many storms and others seem to have  a lot of sunshine.   I was talking the other day with a friend who is going through a very difficult time.  She jokingly said she is trying hard to learn the lesson the Lord wants to teach her so she can shorten the learning process!  We all sometimes feel like that, don’t we?  Let me learn the lesson, so that the rain will stop.  But sometimes there isn’t a specific lesson to be learned.  Sometimes we end up under someone else’s rain cloud (maybe a spouse’s or a child’s bad decision) or perhaps it is to further God’s kingdom.  But no matter the reason for the rain (and often we never find out why certain storms came our way), we need to make a choice to grow in our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father.  Because to choose otherwise, is to choose bitterness, resentment, or anger.

I Peter 1:6,7

Are We Asking the Wrong Question?


So many of our Christian conversations and questions revolve around what forms of entertainment and behavior are “allowed” for a Christian. There are many varied views on this topic. What about all the gray areas that aren’t covered in scripture? The accusation of legalism is a common one if one shares conviction on any “gray” area.  But I would propose that maybe the question isn’t “Is this right or wrong?” but instead “Will this move me closer to or away from the God I love?” A second question that must quickly follow this one is “Will this help or hinder my Christian brothers and sisters in their walk with Christ?” This changes the whole conversation, doesn’t it?

So much of our gray area conversations are rationalizations on why it is okay to do things that go against principles in scripture. We grab the typical passages used out of context for our arguments. But in thinking through what direction I want to go–towards God, if I am a believer–I have to challenge myself to think through WHY I am trying so hard to rationalize a particular behavior or action. Oftentimes it is for my own self gratification. It is because it is something I want to do and has nothing to do with bringing glory to Christ, reaching others for Him, or furthering His kingdom in any way, shape, or form.

The other thing worth mentioning here is that there are certain things that are not going to be cut and dried. For instance, while a  glass of wine with dinner or attending a horse race may be fine for some, these activities are going to present some pretty serious problems for the alcoholic and the gambler. And, while, perhaps some of us can do these things without stumbling,  it is imperative that we, as believers, show love and care for our fellow believers and not tempt them unnecessarily; always taking very great care in all that we do.

When it comes right down to it, our walk with God is all about love. But it is not only His love for us, but it is also our love for God, which translates itself into our selfless actions–denying ourselves worldly pleasures and showing immense selflessness towards others (see James 1:27).

So perhaps we have been asking the wrong question. Perhaps I need to ask myself will this help me or my fellow believers in their walk with Christ? Or will it be a detriment?  Will I please the Lord with this action or will I grieve Him? Do I love the Lord enough NOT to do this thing I really want to do in order to please Him? We need to stop trying to rationalize and, instead, take an honest look at our hearts’  intentions.  The excuse that “it isn’t specifically in the Bible” is pretty weak when we ask ourselves the question of direction, rather than the question of legislation.

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.


The Lonely Road

empty road

It was a beautiful, hot, summer evening. We were traveling on an interstate highway in the middle of nowhere. Tree-covered mountains were around us on all sides. As we were driving along we passed other cars and trucks intent on getting wherever it was they were going.  And then–quite suddenly–we were completely alone. There was not another vehicle anywhere before us or behind us or beside us. We were the only car on this stretch of highway.

For a brief–very brief–moment I panicked.

Had we missed a sign that says the highway is closed? Surely, at this time of day, people should be traveling on the highway? I reined in my thoughts almost before I had them, they were that ridiculous. But as I pondered on my momentary panic, I realized that sometimes we do this in our Christian lives, as well.

We are trying hard to obey God’s Word in a certain area and, yet, when we look around us, we feel so alone, because none of our Christian brothers and sisters seem to be obeying God in this area. We question ourselves–is this really a conviction from God’s Word or just a tradition or opinion? Should I be making myself or my kids hold to this standard when it seems like we are completely and utterly alone in doing so?

Being alone is not a fun place to be. It is easier for some than for others. But when it comes right down to it, we all would rather be a part of the crowd. We’d rather not stand out for things such as what we are not wearing, what we are not watching, where we are not going, and what we are not listening to.

We’d rather just melt into the crowd and allow our kids to do the same. It is so much easier to just follow the crowd and allow ourselves or our kids to wear that immodest bathing suit or listen to that obscene band; to play that violent X-box game or go to that R-rated movie.

But let me encourage you to stay on the lonely road. It will be worth it. Your kids will thank you someday (as long as you give them a good discussion about basing your rules on God’s Word alone; don’t just lay down legalistic laws without reasons). Don’t lower your standards.

I Timothy 6:12 tells us to–Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Let’s fight the good fight and stand for truth together! But in those moments when you feel alone, keep standing! You will never be sorry!

P.S.  I have made many mistakes in this area–caving in instead of standing–as I am sure many of you have. We need to be very careful not to judge others, but instead encourage and edify one another, gently admonishing and always loving each other.

Embracing Change

Wow.  Twenty-two years ago I got married. I worked full-time for two and a half years and then quit when I had my baby. When that baby was four we started homeschool kindergarten for fun. If it didn’t work, we hadn’t lost anything, right? But it did work. We both loved it. Three more babies came along and as they grew they joined our school room. The oldest baby graduated. That seemed like a good time to put one of the babies into Christian school for high school. And the next year, another baby started her 9th grade year in the Christian school. The plans were to keep the last baby home until 9th grade. But, alas, I was not counting on just how lonely that baby would be without her siblings. How much she desired structure in her education. And how worn out and tired I was of homeschooling.  And, so here we are, the last baby left our home this morning for her first day of school.

I thought that I would homeschool  all of my kids through high school. But God directed us differently.  There are a lot of emotions and questions that go along with a decision like this one.  Are we giving up?  What will my homeschool friends think? How did time move so quickly? Can’t I go back for just a day?

I recently read a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” I highly recommend it for anyone who is dealing with a lot of change in their lives. It is a short little book that can be read in a half hour. I got it from the library. It is a little parable that opened my eyes to the necessity of embracing change and moving on.  Sitting and mourning for days gone by is not helpful to anyone. It is important to follow God’s leading and then move forth with purpose and confidence.

Change is a constant in our lives. Some changes are big and some are small.  Not cooperating with change doesn’t mean that change will not occur. Of course, there may be a period of mourning and sadness, but in time we need to make a conscious decision to stop looking at the past and set our eyes on the path in front of us.

And, hey, I will always be a homeschool mom at heart.  I will always be learning new things and ready to teach anyone who wants to hear what I have learned.  It is just who I am.



I just got back from a trip to Nashville. I do not do a lot of flying and it always makes me a bit nervous. It also fills my mind with so many different things as I look out the window at the world in miniature and then, as we climb higher, to the beautiful, amazing scenery of clouds and sun. When we took off to come home yesterday the world below was rainy, gloomy, and overcast.  But the flight schedule continued on time. As the plane climbed gradually higher I lost sight of the world below and was surrounded by only thick, gray clouds. I could not see anything but gray outside. It made a foggy day here on earth look like nothing.  I pondered how in the world the pilot had any idea where he was going. But I was trusting that pilot to know where he was going. And, sure enough, after a few minutes, we climbed out of those gray, gloomy, incredibly thick clouds, through the atmosphere, to the sunshine above. Of course, after an hour or two above, we had to descend back down through those clouds, to the earth below as we arrived at Washington DC.

I think by now you may know where I am going with this. You know that famous saying “God is my co-pilot”? Well, I am here to tell you that God is my pilot. Don’t we all have times where we are in a thick fog in life? Surrounded by the unknown? Having no idea where the current circumstances are going to take us? I am so incredibly grateful that I can rely on my heavenly Father to know where He is taking me. He has a plan and I can safely rest in knowing that He is the one guiding me through the thick fog of life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a very familiar passage, but consider this again with me:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

I can rely on God to direct my paths and guide me. But there are conditions to this promise of guidance. I need to trust Him. I can’t try to figure out all the answers by myself.  And I need to acknowledge Him, which means giving His desires for my life consideration in every area of life, instead of being so focused on what I want.

And, unbelievably–suddenly–He treats us to amazing glimpses of the sun, giving us moments of beauty and happiness. I am so thankful for those times. But I am also incredibly grateful for his guidance through the thick, gray clouds. What an amazing God we serve!  That He would care for me–this tiny, minute speck of His creation–is truly mind-boggling.



The Millipede

This weekend, while sitting by the campfire, I spotted a shiny millipede in the grass.  It was winding its way to who knows where?  As I watched it going wherever it was going with seemingly great purpose, it would sometimes disappear beneath the grass.  I would watch for it to pop up in some other place.  Sometimes I could see just part of its hard-shelled body.  As I observed this tiny creature from my vantage point of the camping chair, I got to thinking that my view of the millipede is a little bit like our view of God.  Sometimes we can see Him at work in our lives in obvious, amazing ways.  Other times it is not so clear.   We are not sure.  And then other times, He seems to disappear altogether.  No matter how much we pray or read our Bibles, we just don’t have a “feeling” of closeness to Him (I am certainly glad that my salvation does not depend upon my feelings!)

But just like the millipede is always there in the grass, whether I can see him or not, so God is always there.  I don’t have to see Him at work or have a particular “feeling”.  If I am a true believer, God is with me.  Always.  God’s Word makes that clear.  One example of this is in Psalm 23:4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

God is always with us…when we can see Him at work in our lives…and when we can’t.

Is that all that really matters?

This morning  I was listening to a song when the lyrics struck me.  The line was “the only thing that matters is how we have loved”.  Is that really the only thing that matters?  At first I shuddered at the apparent lack of biblical truth in this song.  While this is not true if we are looking at all of biblical and human history, what about if the song is referring to the individual?   The only thing that truly matters is that we have loved? And if that is true, just exactly what are we to love?  That is not really clear in the song.  However, it is very clear in Mark 12, verses 29-31

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’[e] This is the first commandment.[f] 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no other commandment greater than these.”

We are to love God and we are to love our neighbors (all people that we come in contact with).    Jesus tells us these are the first and second of all commandments.   If we follow these commandments all of the others will follow naturally, because they show us how to (or how not to) love God or people.

We hear an awful lot about the second commandment these days.  American Christians are totally focused on helping the poor, needy, hungry, and destitute.  And that is great!  I think that is awesome.  But what about that first commandment?  How do we love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength?  I John gives us a bit of a clue…

I John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

We show our love to God by walking as Jesus walked.  By doing our best to obey ALL of the commandments in God’s Word…not just a few.  We are to live righteous lives. Pure lives.  Holy lives. Not in fellowship with the world, but in fellowship with God.  In prayer.  Not drawing attention to ourselves except for reasons of being salt and light.  And, yes, in loving others.

So, I guess loving is what it comes down to while living our lives.  If we love God, our whole lives will be transformed by that love.  It will affect not only how we treat others, but will affect what we say, read, listen to, and wear.  How we react, respond, and our tone of voice.  It affects who we hang out with, what movies we go to, and what is on our ipods. It alters how we treat our parents, our siblings, church leaders, and police officers.  It impacts our interests, passions, and hobbies.  It changes our conversations, how we drive, and who we date (or marry).  It affects if we read our Bibles, go to a church that teaches the Truth, or take the time to pray.  And it affects our commitments…to our families, our churches, and our communities.   Loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength will change me completely.  Loving God (first) and loving others (second) is truly what matters most when it comes to how we live our lives each day.

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