How to do everything better with less effort than you have ever exerted in your whole life!!

Whatever you struggle with, there is a blog post for you that will promise you progress and guarantee your growth with – get this- less work than you are already exerting and almost instantly!
How to have a cleaner house while doing less work.
How to get your children to obey with less effort.
How to eat healthier without spending more time or money.
And my favorite,
How to lose weight while eating more!
Lies!! They are sitting on a throne of lies!!
While there is truth to the old addage, “Work smarter- not harder” and there are definitely tips out there that can streamline your life and keep you moving forward, just about anything you want to do to improve your life, marriage, relationships, schedule, business, etc, is going to involve more work. That is just reality.
I have clicked on that “How to have your house cleaner with less work” blog post a thousand times from a thousand different bloggers thinking “This time, this will be the one with that special tip that will keep my house clean!” But they are all the same. Great tips. Nice information. More work.
Because it boils down to this.
Most things in life worth anything involve hard work.
Want a successful business? It’s going to be hard work.
Want to have a stronger marraige? It’s going to be hard work.
Want to keep a clean home? It is going to be hard work.
Want to eat healthier? It is going to be hard work.
Because all of the above involve sacrifices.
All of the above involve making difficult decisions.
All of the above involve dying to your own desires. And that. is. Hard.
But, fear not! I will deliver on my promise to make everything easier with less effort. Iam different than those other bloggers! Are you ready?
Expect the struggle.
That’s it. That one truth is what will really make everything easier for you in the long run.
Let me explain.
So many people come to me feeling defeated about homeschooling or parenting or relationships thinking they must be doing something wrong because it is SO HARD!! And my response is generally the same.
Most things worth doing are going to be hard.
However, ya know what makes those things even harder? Feeling like a failure because you are struggling!
Jesus never promised easy. In fact He warned us that in this life you will have many…..struggles…..
But, take heart, for He has overcome the world!
If you want something, and the Lord has called you to it, He will enable you to do it. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy or instanenous. Pray for perservence. Don’t be surprised by the struggle. Trust in the Lord’s plan and He will make your paths straight! Rest in Him because His presence there is fullness of joy. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!

You Must See This Great News for the Prolife Movement! (Not so great for pro-abortion)

I have the best news!! However, I found it in a round about way. To stay as informed as I can, I like to read both sides, or more, of an issue. In so doing, I found an article by a panicked pro-abortion advocate, Haley Fox, citing statistics, and showing maps, to terrify a nation. But the maps had the exact opposite effect on me! They filled me with hope, and renewed motivation! I hope they will do the same for you. We are winning. And they are terrified! (NOTE: all the red cross outs are my additions to the maps…..They are my perspective, not the Illustrator: Lauren Wade)

You see, in the last two years, Texans have seen closures of half the abortion clinics in their state!  And with more court decisions on the horizon, it’s a real possibility that the state will lose half of what’s left! Hooray!! This would drop the number of clinics to 10! In the whole state of Texas!! (Still 10 too many, but that is progress people!!)

But here is the twisted part.  In places like Texas, the poor minorities and uninformed are actually targeted by “nonprofits” like Fund Texas Choice who offer to pay bus fare to encourage lower income moms to abort their babies. But anyone that knows anything about Planned Parenthood knows that this falls right in line with Margaret Sanger’s dream that all of the poor, especially minorities, would abort their babies! (Not exactly the dream Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about.)

This story of hope for the unborn isn’t limited to the Lone Star State. In the last four years, states all over the country have enacted a total of 231 abortion restrictions, the largest number enacted in any four-year period since the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, according to Elizabeth Nash, of the  Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion “think tank” with massaged statistics and a clear anti-life agenda
“It’s significant that we are seeing so many restrictions becoming law across the country, this isn’t just Texas,” said Nash. Let’s be clear. Nash is scared…. I am hopeful! Thank God!!
The good news is that more than half of the country is “supportive” or “extremely supportive” (my words) to the rights of the unborn.
Some of the victories include banning private insurance companies from covering the abortions, and restricting minors’ access to abortion without parental permission.Because, Duh!

In 2000, only 31 percent of women in the country lived in states that are trying to protect the unborn. By 2014, that number reached 57 percent! That is huge!! Check out the progress in the middle of the country! Way to go Middle America!!

According to the report, the ENTIRE SOUTH is “supportive” (my words) to the unborn.

There is some bad news though: In 2014, there were only 26 abortion restrictions enacted across the country in comparison to the 70 that passed into law the year before, the report states. Pro-abortion advocates even scored a few wins with four states adopting laws to promote abortion rights and access. Long story short: the pro-life movement has made immense progress, no thanks to this guy. (Obama tells Planned Parenthood “let’s go on the offensive”) but there is still a lot of work to be done!

Things are looking even better for 2015!! After Midterm elections, (thank you pro-life voters) there are 30 states where Republicans now control both legislative chambers. AND in 23 of those states, the governor will be Republican as well! All 50 states will be in session in 2015 as well, said Nash, and Congress is looking to revisit the “20-week ban,” which would ban abortions after 20 weeks since it is scientifically proven that they are caused excruciating pain. (Side note: anyone that votes no to this ban should never be allowed painkillers, or anesthesia again, because if a baby has to endure the pain of having it’s limbs torn off, well, I think you can suffer through that root canal.)

So, in other words, what Nash is saying, in no uncertain terms, is that the future of unborn babies lives is up to voters. Amen to that!

“Ultimately state legislators pay attention to their constituents, so it’s key for those who support abortion rights to make their views known to their legislators,” she said. “It really makes a difference.”

Those are their words!!! They know that it matters who you vote for! Everyone knows this! (well, everyone except a handful of really out-spoken trendy Christians bloggers, but don’t get me started.) If you don’t believe me still, here’s what one president did in 8 years. Bush.

The truth is we don’t get a lot of positive news on FOX or CNN. But this, this is powerful information! This is good news! We did this! Your vote matters. And they are scared. Election season is around the corner. And the anniversary of Roe V. Wade is now. (side note: ever wonder the real story behind that case?? Click Here) Don’t let this week pass you by without praying, fasting, and seeking how YOU can make a difference! Yes, you can and should do more than just vote pro-life. But don’t let anyone tell you that voting isn’t a big deal. Thanks Haley Fox, a contributor to a newsy type website, for sharing all the info! It was the best news I got all day!

Trust me. A prayer for relief….Psalm 123-125

It’s January again. Which statistically speaking is like a month of Mondays. This is not me being negative. It’s science people. Many just get sad in January. For some it is sickness, for some it is bills, and for some it is just the everyday ups and downs of life. I am not immune from this affliction. And from the conversations I have been having with friends, you aren’t either.
My life line over the past few days, this piece of scripture that has been trying to infuse my soul is Psalms 123-125.

Psalm 123 Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes lookto the Lord our God,
Until He has mercy on us.

3 Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!
For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
4 Our soul is exceedingly filled
With the scorn of those who are at ease,
With the contempt of the proud.

I lift my eyes to You! Until you have mercy on me. I wait.
Lord. Have mercy.
I am filled with contempt.

I want to be filled with you.
I will look to you. Until you have mercy. I will look to you. I will not stop. Relentless.

The Lordthe Defense of His People

124 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
2 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
3 Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
5 Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”

6 Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;[a]
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help
isin the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

If it had not have been for the Lord….Let Israel now say! If it had not been for the Lord who is ON OUR SIDE!!! Say it with me people, He is on our side!!
IF it had not been for Him, they would have swallowed us alive.

What is swallowing you alive right now?
Your job? Your health? Your relationships? Your commitments? Your schedule? Your failures?

If not for the Lord.

This tells us that the waters will NOT overwhelm us, the streams will NOT go over our soul. Because of the Lord.

Our snare is broken! We are FREE!
But sometimes it doesn’t feel like freedom. Sometimes it feels like frustration. Because we need chapter 125.

The Lord the Strength of His People

A Song of Ascents.

125 Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Trust. Those who TRUST in the Lord. They cannot be moved. They cannot be shaken. Trust. When you are truly trusting, frustration fades.
Because frustration comes from fear. Fear of pain, disappointment, misery, loneliness, ridicule, rejection, sickness, failure.
What are you afraid of?
God is bigger than your fear. He promises that if we trust, we will not be shaken.
I have felt shaken today. And yesterday. Yet the Lord keeps reminding me, since I first laid eyes on this passage and have been chewing on it,
Trust Me. Trust Me.
Trust me with your time. Trust me with your responsibilities. Trust me with your schedule. Trust me with your planning. Trust me with your relationships. Trust me with your family. Trust me. With every piece of your day that didn’t go like you hoped it would go. Trust me and feel the freedom I have given you.
Walk in Faith. Not frustration.
I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
Read over those three psalms again. Print them out. Pray them. Hear the Spirit say…
Trust me.
Trust. Me.
And you will not be shaken. You will be Free. You will not be overwhelmed.
And then 10 minutes later. Hear Him again. All day long. He wants us to trust Him. When you feel that frustration rising up in you, reflect. Hear Him again.
Close your eyes and hear Him say:
Trust Me. And remember that Lord surrounds His people. From this time forth and forever more.

When you feel like you are losing your footing. Psalm 121

Psalm 121-A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Plodding along on this chronological Bible reading path, the next reading is one of my favorites, and probably one of yours too. There are countless songs and embroidered pillows that display these verses. They are that good. And today, for me, they are that relevant. You see we just got back from the mountains. And I can attest, that they are beautiful. And they are also terrifying. As my dear husband was taking those curves around Grandfather mountain, you better believe I could relate to David when he said “Where does my help come from?” Just kidding Babe, your driving was perfect 🙂 If he could chime in here, he would be quick to remind me that he has never driven into a mountain. And I, in all honesty, cannot say the same. But that is a topic for a different day. Where was I?
Mountains are terrifying. And breathtaking. All in one. We took a lovely (read: death defying)hike to see Linville Falls. The first stop is not high. It is dangerous, sure, but there are no 10 story drops.

 At the second stop, however, you could see the first stop, way down below. Now we were adding some height to our journey and those retainer walls? Were they building retainer walls for ants?? 😉 With 5 children 12 and under I couldn’t get off of that overlook fast enough. Take some pictures, GET AWAY FROM THE EDGE!! And let’s go!!

Of course we couldn’t stop there. We continued up the mountain. Then from the 3rd view you could see the other two views and now, well- those heights were nothing! Quickest picture ever. Please for the love of all that is good and right don’t go near that 1 foot tall retainer wall that is BEGGING you to bend over it and look down. Lord have mercy, that was terrifying! But breathtaking! Did I mention that?

Thinking on this passage, and remembering our hike, brought to mind that famous quote from C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they were discussing Aslan, a type of Jesus.
Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
There is a common misconception floating around that we in the church likely had a hand in perpetuating, and it is this. If you follow God your life will get easier. Blessings will abound, prosperity will flow like the salmon of Capistrano, and life will be yours for the taking. Don’t get me wrong. There is truth in that premise. The problem comes in when we define blessings. When we look at the accounts in the Bible of those that followed God, most, like David, cried out for help at some point, if not most points. Their lives were not a walk in the park, and many had terrifying plot lines. Being fed to Lions, having your life and the lives of your people threatened, losing children, losing heads, being barren for 90 years, being swallowed by a great fish! No, following God is not safe. But it is good. He promises that He will never leave us. He will not slumber. He will not sleep. He watches us. He is watching our coming and going both now and forever more.
Lift your eyes to the hills.
What hill? Some say that David was talking about the hill of Zion. The mighty hill. Set your eyes on the things above. Let us throw off everything that hinders, run with perseverance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is perfecting our faith. Through every mountain. Through every terrifying cliff. And He knows what it is like. Because for the joy set before him, He endured. He endured the cross, despising the shame. And now. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father where He is interceding for you and for me!
Back to my mountains…..
Being a passenger in a large SUV around those curves- it really was a challenge. I kept telling myself, Paul is a good driver. He has driven these mountains countless times. If I just close my eyes, I won’t be scared. And that would actually work. For a moment, until I started worrying, and needing to wrestle back some fake semblance of control. I need to watch, I thought, so I can tell him to slow down, or watch if he is getting to close to the edge. I need to control. Lord help me. Lord help us. Mountains can be terrifying or beautiful. Knowing what I know now—spoiler alert- we survived!! I wish I could go back and just enjoy the scenery more, release my white knuckled grasp of the door handle and stop nagging my poor husband. Because there is so much we cannot control. So much we cannot see. Like ANY of the future. I pray that we would release our grasp, our need to control. And trust. Trust that the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore! And truly it’s the forevermore that matters most! What do you need to release your grasp on?

Fire-less S’mores

There is nothing like getting away to the mountains. Cold temperatures, warm feelings, and s’mores. It’s all so picture perfect…

Unless it’s raining. And your fire is a flop.

Luckily, I am a s’more connoisseur, and don’t need a fire to make some toasty s’mores. I have told people this method before, and they didn’t know it! I cannot have that. People need s’mores whenever they want. I know this, and therefore have to share this foolproof happiness-guaranteed method. And no, do not even think about using a microwave. Just no.

All you need is an oven, two cookie sheets, and all the goodness of traditional s’mores ingredients.
Directions are as follows: Put the oven on broil. And go.

 Here is the trick. The marshmallows (why do we all pronounce this word marshmellows?)
must go on top. Then they get brown, and keep the chocolate from getting too much heat, and getting too melty. This is science people.

                                                                  Wait literally 30 seconds.

                                                                         Then this!

Now comes the important part! Pick up the marshmallow ……

             Next…. flop the marshmallow (I really do not approve of that spelling.) onto the chocolate…..not the other way around. I am not responsible for the sadness that occurs if you try to flop the chocolate onto the marshmallow. It will be chocolate wasted, and NOBODY wants that!


I don’t know why my children look like they are in pain when they are in heaven. Trust me. They were loving it.

Another option is to use a toaster oven. We do that when it’s just me and the hubs and a few dozen episodes of “Psych.” BUT-you have to watch it, and only put the chocolate in for a fraction of the time. As a master s’more maker, the chocolate makes or breaks the deal. Too melty and you barely taste it, too hard, and well, just forget it. Its like your eating a chocolate bar inside of a graham cracker. And while I will take chocolate in any form, I need my s’mores to be perfect. I just do.   So the toaster oven technique is more trial and error. But it is a trial worth enduring if it’s all you’ve got.

So there you have it. My New Years Resolution is officially to eat more s’mores!! Happy New Year!!

The year I didn’t expect.

The year I didn’t expect.

I have always loved teaching. From playing “school” as a child, to helping friends in math class, I found it very fulfilling.  As a high school teacher,  I can still remember exactly where I was the first time I heard from a parent that his daughter “got” and truly enjoyed math for the first time in her life. What a high! Yes, the privilege of introducing information that can affect someone for the better, this is a passion of mine.  Of course, passing on information requires first obtaining it and I love that even more! I am in information junkie! I may have a problem. But I digress. Those two factors, and some prompting from an over zealous friend combined with lots of prayer lead me to start this blog. My initial plan was to relay to you the myriad of scientific, historical and theological evidences which confirm the truths of the gospel.

 Apologetics: defending  the faith.
However shortly after starting this blog, God turned me in  another direction, or so it seemed. He showed me my deep need for accountability in Bible study and I committed to working through I Samuel, in front of the internet. This terrified me, which of course confirmed that I needed to do it.

This was about a year ago.  But I have to tell you,  it wasn’t long before I looked up to heaven and said “I see what you did there.”  You see our sovereign Creator saw the year at a glance. And He knew just what I would need, and it wasn’t necessarily statistics, carbon dating facts, or archeological information.  While all of that is good, and by good I mean, really, really good, God, in His sovereign wisdom, knew that this year, what I needed more thaninformation,  I would need inspiration. He knew that the biggest proof I could receive of His existence was for me to be assured of  His presence. He knew that the point of this blog was not so much to share what I had learned, but for me to learn what He had shared. And what I found this year I may never have truly grasped as deeply if it wasn’t for you!
Here’s what I mean. The very first Devo blog I put out there I got a response from someone I never would have expected. We “knew” each other years ago and now have the typical Facebook “friendship.” At the end of that first blog I had asked you, the reader, what you could relate to or learn from the passage. No one commented on the blog. Par for the new blogger course, not unusual. But what was unusual was this private message I received. What she shared with me was so drastically different then what I had seen in that passage,yet so good- and also deeply personal. I felt unbelievably honored that she would share this with me, and profoundly grateful that I could learn this from her. This had been my goal from the start: to inspire each other and learn from one another. Still, I couldn’t believe that with this first step of faith God had allowed me such immediate inspiration. Obedience doesn’t always produce fruit right away, so when it does, it is almost ……surprising.
Yes, that would be the word to pretty much sum up this year.
Here’s why.
I was surprised by the blessings I received, knowing they are undeserved. Yet I was equally surprised by the heart wrenching devastation we experienced as sin and sickness left its nasty mark.
I didn’t expect this year.
I didn’t expect some of my casual friends to develop into soul sharing sisters that I would cry with. But I also didn’t expect distance from those I assumed would be there for comfort. 

I didn’t expect to be this busy or feel this fulfilled.
I didn’t expect to go from a  mechanics wife to a pastors wife in a weekend, leaving all that was familiar..

But. God.

He knew.

 He knew I would need my head and heart to be stuck in the Word like never before. He knew I would feel confused, hopeless, and just sad at times. Yet He also knew that His word could provide life, encouragement, truth and perspective.  And YOU helped me see that.

When you saw me in the hall at church, and mentioned  a lesson in Samuel I had blogged about I felt listened to. 
When you commented, liked or shared a post I felt community. 
When you texted, prayed, and inquired, I felt loved. 
 I learned to slow down, press  in and get back to the basics of my faith. Regardless of what I saw, regardless of what I felt, regardless of each situation, His word never changed. It doesn’t return void, and He watches over it to perform it. In ever shifting sands, with ever changing opinions, philosophies, and prerogatives, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is no greater apologist than his Word. Taste and see. Try Him now.
Because He is El Roi, the God who sees.

He saw that I was going to face angry opposition in a way totally unfamiliar to me so he prepared me in the psalms. He knew we would experience the affects of infidelity with so many we loved so he warned me to keep watch over our house.  He knew that my family would experience loss over and over again, so he reminded me of the need to mourn. He knew I would feel frustration over the state of our country so he reminded me that He is in control. He knew we would be entering a brand new season, so He showed me the importance of being Paul’s armor bearer. Most of these lessons came before the events occurred and had I not put the words out on this blog, I may have missed them altogether.

This is our God, and this is the power of His word and the power of community.
Ravi Zacharias was asked in a Q&A how to combat lust. His answer was simple. “As far fetched as it might seem…..I speak from experience…..the surest way to guard your heart, is to feed it with the food that God originally created it for……rather than from illicit means that will never satisfy.. Make it a practice to study the word of God……develop a life a worship…. and make friends of those to whom you can be accountable. Every temptation Jesus faced from Satan, He responded with ‘For it is written…….”

 Friends, there is a movement to discount the word. Famous “Chrisitan” bloggers elevate opinion over truth, claim culture trumps Gods commands, but do not be swayed. If you have strayed from this foundation, it is so simple to return. I was not perfect in my studies. There were too many days where I surely missed the mark. But in my weakness, He shows himself strong.

Don’t misunderstand.
This is not a magic formula. Studying your Bible does not make your day easier, grant you instant patience, or map out daily decisions. You may feel nothing or experience dry seasons. But it will anchor you in the storm, grant you wisdom in this world and open the pathway for peace like nothing else can, especially when you write it down- and share it with friend.

This is also not a guilt trip or a legalistic pursuit to pressure you into Bible study so you can show God and your friends how much you love Him. No. This is a reminder that when you give yourself to the study of God’s word he will show you how much He loves you!!

This is also the biggest most heartfelt thank you. Thank you for joining me. With 159 million blogs out there, you read mine, and our hearts have been knit together. And know this. I am praying for your 2015 because God knows. And He is not surprised. Let Him prepare you and lead you with the washing of His Word as He leads you through 2015.  Think about this past 2014. Scan your journal, your church notes, your facebook…. something… Find a moment where you saw God move and share in the comments. You know you want to!  Commenting is fun! Right Elizabeth Alfieri?