Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

Today is our 15th anniversary! And while it is commonly known that the traditional gift for 25 years is silver, and the gift for 50 years is gold,  it is a lesser known fact that the gift for 15 years is a blog post. So since I am a slave to convention,  here ya go babe! This one’s for you!

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

1. A man that knows and loves Jesus and the Word of God


2. A man that will join you in your hobbies


3. A man that loves Chik fil a….. enough to wear cow ears


4. A man that puts your happiness above his pride

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5. A man that understands your love for Movember and is not threatened by your pre-teen crush on Magnum P.I.


6. A man that will drive 23 hours straight to take you to the place of your birth


7. And drive you the very next summer across the country to California to see your college roomie


8. A man who cares for and respects the elderly


9. A man who loves your family


10. A man that loves and respects his mom


11. A man that will fly you back to NY, just to meet your fav talk show host


12. A man that dances. Your daughters will thank you


13. A man that regularly shows affection963860_10153121206960510_998525973_o

14. A man who can wrestle. Wrestling is really important


15. And last, but definitely not least, a man with whom those sparks fly!13567184_10157067265085510_1930858657536733103_n

Here’s the truth. Having a list is important. But a list won’t get you to fifteen years or even fifteen months. It takes more than ideals and standards to build a thriving marriage. You need love. But not just any love. You need the greatest love. Jesus told His disciples that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Listening to Kelly Minter recently brought new depth to that verse for me. Yes, Jesus laid down his life at the cross, she reminded us. But that wasn’t the first time He laid down His life. Every day that he stepped foot on this earth was a day that He laid down his life in heaven for us. Having a beautiful marriage requires this kind of love. Laying your life down every dang day for the person on the pillow next to you. That is the greatest love. That means laying down your right to be right. Laying down your pride. Laying down what’s fair. Laying down past pains. Laying down insecurities. Laying it all down and loving with an everlasting love that can only come from God. Without a doubt, Paul is truly more than I could have hoped for or imagined, but we have been through many ups and downs. We are broken people with hurts we are healing together.  We have had horrible fights (aka “strong fellowship”) that left me doing the ugly cry,  and we have had utopian moments when I thought my heart would burst. Yet without exception, our marriage is the strongest, happiest, and the sweetest when we are mutually seeking to serve the other through the power of our loving Creator.

Planned Parenthood Offers Fake Prenatal Care

Cecile Richards knows how important prenatal care is to the patients of Planned Parenthood. People literally “depend” on Planned Parenthood for prenatal care. Obviously.

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So a woman tried to make an appointment for some prenatal care, should be easy right? I have taken screen shots of their answers. Check out these telling answers.

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Right. I know. I know. Asking for prenatal care at an abortion clinic sounds ridiculous. But Cecile promised! (You have to watch the video-link below- to hear the tone of this worker! Like the caller is an idiot for asking!)

Maybe another clinic….

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Ok, well, just try one more. Surely someone offers prenatal care!

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Then where can one go? I mean,they keep telling us if we don’t fund Planned Parenthood, where would people go for prenatal care????

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Got it. Right around the corner there is a legit clinic for prenatal care. But not at Planned “PARENTHOOD” right? I mean the name has the word Parent in it!

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This girl gets it! Well, at least they offer mammograms! Oh, wait…Nevermind!

Watch the video from Live Action News here. Really. It’s mind blowing!

And share!! People need to know this. I mean, at the very least Cecile Richards should know. And yes, there are a TINY percentage of clinics that offer “prenatal care” but as John Zmirak put it so eloquently, do you really want to go to a vet that owns a butcher shop? No thank you! So let’s give that government funding to clinics that actually help women instead of butchering them.

Using the Trivium to Learn about Racial Unity


Over the last several years God has been stirring in my heart questions about race that I have never thought about before. But before I write about those exact questions, I need to share about three basic levels of learning I have studied with our Classical Conversations homeschooling group which have impacted my life in such a profound way.

There are three basic levels of learning that involve the arts of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
The grammar stage is when you learn the basic information, the vocabulary, and the facts. I know when you hear the word grammar you think of English Grammar, but the actual word grammar refers to the basic elements of learning anything. For instance, reading scripture and memorizing verses are grammar skills. It is simply the acquiring of information.

The dialectic stage is digging deeper, asking questions, researching, and debating.
When you hear the word dialectic, it sounds like dialogue. This is the stage where you start wrestling through those Bible verses in a small group by discussing topics, and debating doctrine.  A crucial skill in this level is asking questions. You should be debating these issues using logic and reason. You are working through tough topics. In our homeschool program we begin this level in the middle school ages when they naturally start asking more questions and no longer simply accept information from you. They want to know why. They want to know how come. They want to argue with you. So we give them tools to debate issues. The problem is that very few of us were given those tools. As a society, we are largely unable to have a conversation with somebody that we disagree with. There are certain topics that are off limits. Don’t talk about politics or religion, because it will get heated. But the problem is, when you don’t talk about difficult topics you will never really learn about them. If you only look at one side of an issue, you will remain at that lower level of learning, and often times, the information you learn will not even take root in your heart. I believe this to be the problem with a lot of teens that go off to college. They have never experienced the dialectic level of learning the Bible. They are simply told “This is the way it is. The end.” If students are not given the tools to debate truth, if they are not given the space to question, they will never reach that second level of learning. And when you stay in that grammar level, you are very easily swayed.

The rhetoric stage is the application of language in order to instruct and to persuade the listener and the reader. It is the knowledge (grammar) now understood (dialectic) being transmitted outwards, as wisdom (rhetoric).

Now when I say rhetoric, you very likely think of political rhetoric. But rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Think about Bible study community groups. The grammar stage is reading a passage or listening to a teaching. The dialectic stage is researching and discussing different ideas or interpretations. And rhetoric is when you go out and make disciples. You take what you have wrestled through and express it to somebody else. We see that in the Bible Jesus taught his disciples in the grammar and the dialectic level. He would have discussions with them and ask them questions, giving them space to think about things deeply. He would debate Pharisees in front of them and even debate the disciples themselves. Then His final words were, “Go make disciples,” which is the final rhetorical stage of persuasion.

For most of my life when it came to the subject of racial unity, I was in the grammar level. I have learned lots of statistics. I have heard one sided arguments and one sided opinions. But I never really questioned, I never debated or discussed these issues with anyone other then people that agreed with me. However, a couple years ago that changed when I saw a documentary on Netflix about the prison system in which the documentarians asked a question I am embarrassed to say I never really thought enough about. If you know anything about the prison system, you probably know that the population in prison is not at all like the population outside of prison. Outside of prison the population is 13% African-Americans. Inside of prison it is about 40%. Those numbers may not be exact, but suffice it to say, the ratios are very out of proportion.

I’m confessing today that when I heard those statistics in the past, my reaction was cold and unfeeling. When someone proposed the question,

“Why are the numbers so disproportionate?” my answer was always the same.
“If you do the crime you do the time. It’s that simple don’t do crimes, and you won’t go to jail.”
But this documentary asked the question again.
Why is this one group of our population committing more crimes, if that is even the case. Truthfully, I had thought about that before too, and my answer was one of which you might have thought.
“They commit these crimes because of the breakdown of the families, poor education, low incomes, etc.”
But then the question was posed again.
Why is this one area of our population under educated with broken families? And it made me stop and think. What is inherently different?
The documentarians offered reasons that were hard to digest. One answer was this:

Maybe going from slavery to equality was harder than we, as a nation, anticipated.

Then, as God would have it, a friend of mine, who happens to be black, started a dialogue about race with my me and my husband. This was my first experience in the dialectic level of learning about race. Dimitri allowed us to ask stupid questions without taking offense. He offered grace whether I said, “Black” or “African-American.” He gave us access to his life experiences and let us hear how it affected him. He told us of the time he walked hand and hand down the street with his wife,who happens to be white, only to hear profane racial slurs yelled at both of them. This was not hundreds of years ago. This was not decades ago. This was today. Then he asked if we had ever heard the stereotype that black people can’t swim. I had. In fact, I have recently learned that black children are 3 times more likely to drown. He asked me if I knew why. I admitted I had never thought about it. He told me that his dad was a kid in the 50’s.  A black man his dads age in America wasn’t allowed in the public pools. So that dad would never learn to swim. That’s right. When recreational swimming became the thing to do and everyone else was learning how to swim, we had a whole portion of the population who weren’t allowed to participate, which meant generations after generation couldn’t learn to swim from their parents like I did. This is not 300 years ago. This is not somebody that is long gone. This is somebody that is walking around today that has vivid memories. Not only do they have the emotional pain of such systematic rejection, but they also have the physical consequences of not being able to teach your child a summertime rite of passage. I never thought about that. We certainly didn’t agree on everything, but the conversation was considerate and the tone friendly.

This journey of questions started a couple years ago. But over the last year these issues have been regularly thrust into the headlines. And we as the body of Christ have a choice to make. We have the option of admitting we have a lot to learn on either side of this issue. Or we can keep ignoring the pain and dissension in hopes that it will go away.

If we really want to learn, we have to leave this grammar stage consisting of facts, statistics, and long held opinions and move to the dialectic stage of questions and conversation with open dialogue and listening. And really listen. With empathy. Not assuming that you know someone else’s experience. And once you have spent a lot of time discussing and analyzing and debating, then fine, try to persuade someone to see your point. But the worst thing you can do is to skip the dialectic stage. This is the modus operandi of the day. Take a fact and tweet it or post it on Facebook without that middle stage of debating and discussing with logic and reason all while researching and addressing any logical fallacies. Listening and asking good questions was illustrated so beautifully by Jesus all throughout the gospels. He spent so much of His ministry in that all important dialectic stage.
There is a quote from Bonhoeffer that beautifully illustrates the importance of listening.

Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them.

Because of our conversation with Dimitri, I decided to go on a mission of sorts, diving into the dialectic stage by having as many conversations with as many different people as I could. It was awkward and uncomfortable at times, and I had to bite my tongue more than once. Naturally, I was fearful of the response I would get. With some of friends I was pleasantly surprised, and with others I was sadly disappointed. I had many conversations with people of every background and nationality and hope to have more still. I suggest for you to do the same! In the next couple of days I will be posting some of what I discovered in my conversations. It is my hope that we, the church, can lead the way in showing the world how to come together in love and unity, no matter what your race or background, not sweeping feelings under the rug, but by having tough and empathetic conversations with people different then ourselves. We must remember the prayer of Christ in John 17 realizing that our unity actually proclaims His Deity.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

*I welcome discussion in the comment section as long as it is nice. Hateful comments will be happily removed. It’s my prerogative. 😉

Part two: Conversations about Racial Unity in the Church.

Why the 7-11 Clerk Does Not Buy Powerball Tickets.

Lottery Balls

As I drove the two ballerinas to class, the older dancer wondered aloud if a slurpee would ease the pain in her aching mouth from her newly adjusted braces, and I caved. After a long day of homeschool classes, she still had 3 hours of dance ahead of her. She negotiated a large, while her little sister jumped on the gravy train acquiring a small slurpee for her yet brace-less mouth. Standing at the cash wrap, I couldn’t help but notice the ad for  powerball. How many billion dollars? What if? What’s a couple bucks? Can you even imagine?

“Ever buy a ticket?” I asked the man behind the register. He paused for a moment while I wondered if he would honestly answer my inquiry. After a few moments, he smiled and shook his head.

“No, I don’t buy them.” he finally told me truthfully.

“It’s kind of like throwing your money in the garbage, isn’t it?” I suggested.

“You know what?” he continued. “I am leaving for India next week, and when I go there, I can use the two dollars I would have wasted here and go do something with my children.”

I knew he was right. Instantly I was reminded of our short stint in Greenville, SC, 9 years ago. The apartment complex we lived in was not very diverse, and we were the minority. Middle eastern Indian families were the norm. My now teen ballerina was only 4 years old then and quickly made friends with little Nithya Priya at the park. Her mother and I became friends also, and they invited us over for a lunch of coconut rice one day. We sat on the floor with boxes scattered throughout acting as furniture  as if they had recently moved in, but I knew they hadn’t. Instead of spending money on furniture, they were saving money. More specifically, they were saving thousands for a trip to India, and every dollar they saved by not buying more furniture brought them closer to that goal. They were expected to bring gifts and support for those they left behind.

We talked about God and life. I shared my faith, she explained hers. I don’t have any way to know what she took from our time together, but her family’s focus on what really mattered stayed with me all these years later.

Tonight on “In the Market with Janet Parshall” Janet spoke with Todd Nettleton from “Voice of the Martyrs.” He shared his latest conversation with a newly converted Christian named Mohammad. Forced from his house because of his new faith, Mohammad met with Todd in a tent that he now called home.

“How can I pray for you?” Todd asked Mohammad, but Todd could not have anticipated his response.

“I don’t need anything.” he answered.

“We have all we need.” He continued shockingly as they sat in his tent where their very safety was in jeopardy.

That’ll preach.

Of course I know that God loves to give his children gifts, and clearly I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for needs and and even wants. But coming off the last few months of massive consumerism and straight into this powerball extravaganza my soul needed these stories. Typically when someone asks me how they can pray for me I have a list.  All too often I need bigger, more, and easier. But not today. Today I was reminded in three different ways from all over the world, that I have all that I need.



When the Bitter Things Become Sweet


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. – Juliet

Trying to convince her family that Romeo’s lineage didn’t matter, young Juliet proclaimed this familiar quote. But is it really true?

When I was pregnant with our third girl, I wondered about this concept as Paul and I contemplated names. I couldn’t help but ponder over the relationship between names and legacies in the Bible. Jacob means deceiver, and that was his destiny until God broke his heart and changed his name to Israel. Abram became Abraham, Simon was called Peter, and on and on. The reason for my consideration was that our two young daughters, ages 2 and 4, were both very …ahem…dramatic, you could say, which left me dreaming of a peaceful 3rd child. I wondered if I could give our new baby a name to encourage that attribute.  After searching countless name websites, I still couldn’t find one that resonated. Then, somehow, I started thinking of the name Mary. Hmm. Sounds peaceful. The hubby agreed.  However, being students of the Bible we knew that Mara- the root word- meant bitter. Maybe you know the story. In the book of Ruth, Naomi’s husband and two sons had died causing her to raise her voice crying,  “Call me Mara- for I am bitter!”

No, I thought. This can’t be true.

I mean, what about Mary at Bethany, the woman that sat at the feet of Jesus?

Obviously peaceful.

And then there was Mary the sister of Martha, the one who just soaked in Jesus’ presence.

Sounds peaceful.

And last but obviously not least, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. We have all seen the pictures. She looks positively serene!

So we named our forthcoming baby Mary and hoped for the best.  As her due date passed by with no baby in sight, we continued to wait in anticipation, until finally, she was born seven days “late” yet right on time, as if just to confirm her name. Yes, our Mary was BORN ON CHRISTMAS!

However, 10 years later, with a daughter named Mary that I wouldn’t necessarily describe as “serene” I had another thought. Maybe God didn’t pick a quiet, reserved, “peaceful” woman to raise his Son. Maybe God in all His sovereignty knew that this chosen woman would need a little spunk to walk the path carved out for her. Maybe she would need more spice than usual to endure a weight too great for a typically timid lady. She would be maligned, misunderstood, and mistreated as she watched the Christ-child grow into a man, wondering if the words she heard as a young woman would ever come true. Where was His throne, and why was there a cross?

One day I spoke with a woman named Mary I had known for decades. This Mary was notorious for her smile and joyful disposition.  As I shared with her the story of my own Mary’s name, she could relate. She shared with me that knowing her name was related to bitterness used to really bother her until she learned another fact that brought everything into focus. The same root word is also used for the herb myrrh. Myrrh is bitter, this is true, however it is only bitter until it is broken . After it is broken it brings forth a sweet fragrance. This special herb also has a unique response to heat. Instead of liquefying and melting, it blooms and expands. Another translation for the word “bitter” is strength. Yes, Mary, the mother of our Savior, would require much strength. She would experience deep brokenness,  and come forth sweet. The heat would be turned up beyond belief, yet instead of melting and disintegrating she would be called to bloom and expand.

While Mary’s position was unique, this same strength is available to us all.

Maybe you have heard Jesus referred to as the balm of Gilead. This balm was an aromatic, medicinal substance made from the same plant from which myrrh is derived. The Bible uses the term “balm of Gilead” metaphorically as an example of something with healing or soothing powers.

Jeremiah 8 records God’s warning to Judah of what Babylon would do to them. Upon hearing the news, Jeremiah laments, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” (verse 22). His question is a poetic search for hope—a plea for healing.

Jesus is our healing.  If your life feels broken, He will make it sweet. When the heat is turned up, He will keep you from melting away. Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

How lost was my condition
Till Jesus made me whole;
There is but one Physician
Can cure a sin-sick soul

There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There’s power enough in heaven
To cure a sin-sick soul.

Next door to death he found me
And snatch’d me from the grave,
To tell to all around me
His wondrous power to save.

The worst of all diseases,
Is light compared with sin-
On every part it seizes,
But rages most within.

At length this great Physician-
How matchless is His grace-
Accepted my petition,
And undertook my case.

First gave me sight to view him,
For sin my eyes had sealed-
Then bid me look unto him;
I looked and I was healed!!!!

A dying, risen Jesus,
Seen by the eye of faith,
At once from danger frees us,
And saves the soul from death.

Come then to this Physician,
His help he’ll freely give;
He makes no hard condition,
’Tis only look and live.

There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There’s power enough in heaven
To cure a sin-sick soul.- John Newton 1899

Dear Younger Me,


Dear Younger Me,

From our earliest moment together, you knew exactly what I was thinking. I told my friend, an experienced mother of three, I had a feeling you were going to be born early. “That’s what all new mom’s say,” she informed me. But sure enough, you agreed, and you arrived two weeks earlier than your due date.

You were my first. My experiment. I did everything wrong. As a baby, you hated going to sleep! (and still do) Just like me. A popular book told me I was supposed to teach you discipline when you were only two weeks old, so I made you cry in your room alone. But you knew better. Your persistence taught me to toss the book of formulas and trust my mommy instincts to spoil you with love and cuddles. All the good parenting websites warned me that if I kept nursing you to sleep, you would never learn to sleep on your own. But I am happy to say that we sure proved them wrong, didn’t we?

Your independence and confidence was never in short supply. From the time you snuck out of the sushi restaurant at 2 years old to the way you currently handle every new situation with ease and determination, you never fear.

Something about your confidence, however, made me nervous. There seemed to be too many conversations telling me of your latest accomplishments. Feeling like it was my job to keep you level headed, I tried to combat your confidence with my realism. Instead of affirming your aspirations, I tried to stifle your swagger. Until one day, as I shared my concerns with daddy, we came to the same conclusion. Maybe your declarations of grandeur weren’t done in spite of my critiques, but because of them. Maybe your expressions of excellence weren’t meant to commend you, but to convince me. Maybe if I gave you the approval you needed, you could stop trying so hard to elicit endorsement.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, I was afraid to praise you too freely. What if you got too confident? What if you tried something and failed? Isn’t it my job to tell you the hard truth that everyone else is afraid to tell you?

Thankfully and providentially God put a book in my path last year to show me another way.

In Sam Crabtree’s book “Practicing Affirmation,” he cleared up my confusion.*

“….if we fail to affirm our children, they may tune out the truth we are so interested in telling.”

Yes. I need to tell you the truth. But our conversations were so “truth” heavy there was no time for affirmation. This realization felt like a weight I couldn’t bear. I desperately fought the shame and regret only a parent could know. How many years had I wasted assuming you needed more judgement than encouragement? How much damage had been done? Was it too late?
As I recalled and meditated on the principles from this convicting yet encouraging book, another feeling began to emerge, stronger than the shame.


You see, if it isn’t my job to keep you grounded with “constructive” criticism, then I could freely shower you with all the praise and affirmation I felt inside.

I was finally liberated to regularly tell you what I always tell everyone else about you. You are beautiful and kind. Thoughtful and smart. God fearing and Bible following. Imperfect but consecrated to God. Yes, I can daily lavish you with all the praise due to you as an image bearer of God.

And Sam Crabtree explains “why” so beautifully.

“The elementary desire to be commended is not wrong….We should all want to be praised by God Himself. Are you not longing to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”? ….Then we ought to fulfill the Golden rule and award the penultimate praise to others also for the glory of God. In the process, we give our loved ones a foretaste of glory divine.”

As your mom, I get to be the first and most consistent person in your life to tell you, “Well, done my good and faithful child. Enter into the rest of knowing you are a daughter of Christ, clothed in His righteousness”

So instead of telling you all the things I see that need correcting, I am going to borrow a song from Mercy Me to tell you something even more important.

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride

Dear younger me,
If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be




Living in the Mess

Life is messy. That is why we love those DIY shows. They take a mess and make it beautiful in an hour or less. But in real life,  the mere act of painting a bathroom will likely take at least a week for the average person. There is the prep, the edging, the clean up, and a million interruptions in between. Trying to fit a home renovation into a work schedule means that your room will be a disaster for some time. To achieve beauty, you have to live in the mess.

The same is true for decluttering. Sure you can do a drawer a day and make slow consistent progress. But every once and a while you need to turn a room upside down and make a mess. And at some point, you will likely run out of time or energy before you have run out of mess. So what do you do? Shove everything back into different boxes and corners so it looks better, or do you sit with the mess for a while? This happened to me recently. Since I had some bins and boxes that just didn’t fit anywhere, they had taken up residence in my dining room. Unable to take it anymore, I transported them to the kitchen table near the bookcases into which they would have to assimilate. I started sorting, making piles, and tossing, until I realized it was dinner time. I had a choice to make. Tidy up the mess I had made or just leave it there. I know myself enough to know that if I shoved it out of sight it would definitely have been out of mind, and I didn’t want that. I needed this to be dealt with.

Version 2


Thankfully I have a laid back husband who knew this had to be. So I left it. Everywhere. And then I lost motivation. I was tired, hormonal, overwhelmed and had a million things to do- important stuff like trying to save the world on twitter or writing a blog that no one would read.  Regardless…..I couldn’t make myself do it-for nearly a week. I would move a piece here or there, but overall the mess stayed the same. Until I decided to do something. Just do SOMETHING. I told myself. So I did. And like a typical ADD person, I hyper focused, and got it done. Mostly.



Yes, it’s way better, but no I didn’t finish my room. I tossed a lot, I sorted a lot, and I organized a lot. But I didn’t finish. And that’s ok. I made progress.And I didn’t shove. You may think it looks great, but I know there are papers and bins in those bookshelves that still need to be dealt with.

All too often when we are surrounded by messy feelings, inside and out, we want to shove them away and not deal with them. Especially in the Christian community. Some people go so far as warning that you should never speak negative words for fear that you will bring it to pass. What a prison to live in- never being able sort through your feelings because you are afraid you will make something bad happen by verbalizing it! Even if you are not that extreme, there are only a few people, if any, that are comfortable with being around other peoples’ mess. Some will rush you through your feelings because they don’t think you should be feeling them “still.” Some will suggest you think happy thoughts instead, shoving pain away instead of working through it. Some will want to pray away your emotions without letting you feel them for a moment. Some will even push you away completely because your mess makes them so uncomfortable. I have been guilty of all of these reactions.

While I know that I was better off leaving the room chaotic for a little while,  I do admit that when it comes to the mess in our hearts, there is a fine line between sitting in your pain with a purpose and wallowing in your wounds without direction. The Bible does tell us to think on things that are holy and noble, but we also read the psalms and see a man painstakingly working through his emotions, sitting for a moment to deal with the pain in his heart rather than pretending it is not there.

I want to be the kind of friend that can sit with someone in their mess, allow them to work through it, and cheer them on in their success. Of course there is the contingency that the mess is actually being acknowledged and worked on. If I had left the room in disarray for years, added to the clutter, and blamed others for the disaster, then there would definitely be cause to bring in a bulldozer. And that is the material point. Without humility, and true repentance, the mess would have been meaningless. But because of my track record over the last year, my sweet, long-suffering husband knew that this mess was a sign of progress.

I am so thankful for a husband and close friends that have sat with me in messy places and allowed my heart to feel. I know there is much to be learned in this place, and I refuse to miss seeing God’s glory, just to make others, and even myself, feel more comfortable.

Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

When it is Too Hard to Remember

911If there is one thing I am good at, it is forgetting. In fact, one of the few German phrases I remember from my short 3 month stint in Deutschland is, “Ich habe vergessun,” which means, ironically, “I have forgotten.”  My memory holds few priorities. I have forgotten details that were dearly important to me, yet remember countless lines from any show I have watched as a child. And sadly with age and children, many children, it has only gotten worse. Yet as much as I acknowledge this reality, even I forget how forgetful I am. You see, quite often I take for granted that I will remember something special. An event. A quote. A goal. But God, in His infinite wisdom, knew better. Because He knows our propensity to forget, He wisely reminds us to remember.

Remember from where you have fallen, (Rev. 2:5)

Remember who brought you out of the land of Egypt…(Deut 6:12)

Remember the way the Lord has led you…(Debt 8:12)

Remember your Creator…(Eccl. 12:1)

I feel like each one of those verses demands its own blog post. Each one preaching a strong sermon. But not today. While acknowledging the importance of remembering, I can’t get away from the realities of remembering. Conjuring up memories of a devastating day should not be taken lightly. I am sure there are many today who cannot easily rally around the battle cry to #neverforget. I am sure there are many today who daily try not to  remember because the memories of that day are so piercingly ever-present.

Even looking at a picture from happier times can stir up grief, confusion, and pain that is hard to bear. Maybe this is the case for you today. Maybe the date for you isn’t 9/11, but a different day when your security was shattered, when life changed forever, when you wondered how you could go on.

Jesus Himself knew the importance of remembering difficult times. His crucifixion would be a terrifying but glorious day for His followers. His death was necessary to bring life. Compassionately and cleverly He prepared them with the last supper.

Do this in remembrance of me.  Remember my sacrifice.

Even though it is hard, we must remember.

 If your heart hurts when you remember, don’t bear this alone. Find a friend to walk with you and bear your burdens. Send a text, make a call, take a walk to a neighbor’s house and tell them you are feeling sad. And don’t stop reaching out till someone obeys the Holy command to bear your burdens.
And most importantly, when it is hard for you to think back on former days, you must always remember to run to the One will never forget you!
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
My heart and prayers are with those today that are finding the pain of remembering a very heavy load. I pray that in your weakness, you would know His strength; that in your fear, you would see His power; and that in your pain, your would feel His presence. Amen.


How I Became a Minimalist

Moments before my 39th birthday I bought a book by Joshua Becker called, “The More of Less.”

As an incentive to buy his new book, he was offering his $89 dollar course on decluttering for free! EIGHTY NINE DOLLARS! I thought. Who on earth would spend that kind of money on an internet course on decluttering! I was quite sure there was nothing new he could tell me or offer me through this book or his course for that matter. I have read it all. (I would like to pause here to share a picture of all of the decluttering books I already had, except I recently gave them all away!! True story.  But I am getting ahead of myself.) Since it was my birthday, I figured I could splurge on an $11 chance that this might be the one trick that really works. So I bought the book, and with it came the free course.

However, once I started reading the book, I found myself getting frustrated that I was reading instead of cleaning, because with 5 children if I stop cleaning for 5 minutes the house looks like an episode of Hoarders!  I considered putting the book away. I mean, do I really need to read 222 pages of “Get rid of your stuff”? I get it. But since I kind of like rules, I decided to press on. However, I expressed my dilemma to my new Uncluttering Facebook friends (part of the course) and they told me there was an audiobook! I bought it instantly, and finished it in two-three days. The bonus to the audiobook was being able to listen in the car WITH MY KIDS.

And this is what I learned. I NEEDED EVERY PAGE OF THAT BOOK. Why? Because we are constantly inundated with the exact opposite of minimalism every day of our lives. The reality is that you have no idea how profoundly you have been affected by consumerism until you slowly peel back the layers and ask hard “why” questions.  It is only then you can see how many of our knee jerk reactions are stemming from a lifetime of consumeristic indoctrination.

In Josh’s course, each week you receive an email with a video and an assignment, and I have to be real here. I didn’t always do the exact assignment. I know I said I like rules, but I am also a woman, and perfectly able to change my mind mid-blog. I kind of decluttered at my own pace, but his videos were so powerful and thought provoking that it didn’t matter if I did the exact project.  He offers fresh perspective and will challenge your long held beliefs about what is valuable.

The Facebook group was so empowering. Sometimes I was annoyed by it because the constant posts were “cluttering” up my newsfeed, but then other times the encouragement to get off my butt and clean out a draw was just what I need to see in that moment. It was also a place to get the “attagirl” I really needed. The truth is that you really won’t get that from the majority of people.  While most of your aquaintances are getting more and buying bigger, it is immensely comforting to have a group of people encouraging you to buy less and get rid of more!

Strangely, I was met with more resistance from the outside world than I expected.

“Are you sure you want to give that away?”

“What if you need that?”

“But that belonged to someone you love!”

Add to that, my own personal resistance. I had all of those same doubts myself! I didn’t need more people confirming my fears. I needed people to come along side me and tell me I could do without it and then tell me how they did it too! I was desperate.  I was tired of organizing my stuff. I now knew that what I needed was to get rid of it. I want to spend time with my children, not with their stuff. I would spend hours organizing their toys, folding their 15 pairs of shorts, or washing their 30 cups!

So I did just that. I went through every item of clothes in my closet and drawers, and so did the kids. As God would have it, I just lost a bunch of weight, so I made the crazy decision to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit me now or belong in this decade! I got radical in the kitchen. Each child got a one cup. Gone are the days of washing 30 cups at the end of the night. I bagged them up and put them in the garage as a test run.  I gave away at least 5 bookcases, a china cabinet, two armchairs, a dresser, and multiple bags of clothing, toys and books. Here’s the things. I always thought we were minimalists. Compared to other families, our kids had very few toys. We live in a small house, so there was just no way we could have a lot of stuff. Comparatively that is. But that was one of my major problems. Comparing us to other people. Instead I needed to compare the stuff we had to the room we have, and that was not minimalist at all. But beyond getting rid of the stuff, the biggest game changer was getting rid of “stuff holders.” Previously I would scan every garage sale for those rubbermaid drawer containers, sterilite bins, and bookcases to contain all my stuff. I was running out of wall space and found creative ways to squeeze more stuff holders all over our house. Then during this course I told my mom I had emptied out and given away two sets of rubbermaid drawers, only to see concern on her face. “Where are you going to put your stuff??” She asked. “That’s just it! I don’t want more stuff!” As long as I kept the stuff holders, I will just keep filling them back up.

Before this course I dreamed of a bigger house, but now I find it easy to be content. Less to clean, they say, right? 🙂 Yet I am happy to say that we now actually have more room, and our house literally feels bigger.

The bad news is that I didn’t finish. I went through many books,papers, clothing items and more, but a summer vacation and now homeschooling has thwarted my progress. The good news is that I can take the course again! Free! In fact I can take it as many times as I need!

Because of this course I have found freedom in ways I never thought possible. You may think you can never change. Maybe you even tried this course once and didn’t find freedom. One of my favorite movie scenes is between Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friends Wedding.” Trying to convince Cameron that she is all wrong for the prospective groom, Julia tells her that the groom needs “jello,” but Cameron is “Creme’ Brûlée.”

“I CAN BE JELLO!!” Cameron declares. But Julia counters with, “Creme’ Brûlée can NEVER BE JELLO!” Maybe you feel like you too can never change. I know I often do…except unlike Cameron, I am definitely Jello. And more than once I have looked up to the heavens and declared to God, “I can never be Creme’ Brûlée!” Until one day I heard a still small voice in my spirit say, “But you are forgetting Who I am. Don’t you know that I can turn water into wine?” And I knew in that moment that He also had the power to change me. One of my favorite songs is “I’m not who I was” by Brandon Heath. I know that to be true. I may have a long way to go, but I truly thank God that I’m not who I was.

So I decided to tell everyone that I’m a minimalist. And that is basically how I became one. When my children ask for something in the store, one of the siblings will remind them, we’re minimalists. (which is infinitely more fun then saying we don’t have the money!) They even remind me! Stopping to look at a sale rack one day I was reprimanded by my 7 year old son who explained to me “We’re mimimists mom…keep walking…were minimists.” It’s amazing the power our words can have. I had convinced them we were minimalists too!

Please know, however, that if you just bought more and bigger, this is not me “shaming” you. This is me experiencing freedom in a way I have desperately needed my whole life, and simply wanting to share that with anyone that needs it. And if that is you, I highly recommend this course. Right now you can even use the code FF25 to get 25% off at The deadline to sign up is Sept. 4th.

Knowing what I know now, I would gladly pay for this course. It is worth every penny. Literally. While decluttering, I found money! I also found items I had planned to buy. But beyond the monetary value, the sheer freedom from being buried under stuff is priceless! And if you need someone to do it with you, count me in! I am going back for seconds!

I will conclude with a couple before and afters shots and pictures of some of what we gave away:

And some of our giveaways:

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I LOVED many of the following pieces, and truly wrestled with giving them away. But at the end of the day, I love my family and sanity more! Hooray! So I fought through the anxiety and fear of getting rid of stuff and haven’t regretted it one bit. As Dr. Zasio from Hoarders always says, “You can still love your dear deceased Uncle, even if you get rid of whatever he gave you.” And the irony is, that in giving away one of our beautiful family pieces, we got a visit from a family member that drove 11 hours to come get it since they,unlike us, had the space for it in their house. And since we had gotten rid of so much stuff, we actually had room for them to stay with us when they came to get it.)


The chair, not the child! 😉


The Real Reasons Pro-lifers vote Pro-choice


I’m sure this list is not complete, so feel free to add more in the comments. But here are a few of the most common reasons (ahem..rationalizations) I have heard for voting so completely opposite to the Word of God all while claiming the name of Christ.

1. The president has very little influence concerning abortion.

On the one hand “pro-life” Democrats claim that the president has very little power when it comes to abortion. So abortion is a non issue. However, these same people also insist that if Trump gets into power he will destroy the known world. Which is it? Either the president is an impotent chess piece or he is an overlord with god-like powers. You can’t have it both ways. (Click here for Obama’s shameful legacy on abortion)  

Also, no one else in the real world believes this. Hence Planned Parenthood pouring cash into insuring Clinton makes it in office.

2. The abortion rate actually goes down with a pro abortion president.

With this reasoning we should all vote for people that believe the opposite of what we believe. Brilliant! Should we use this logic with all of our major life decisions?  No, because correlation does not equal causation. Data needs to be interpreted. For instance, persecution is well documented to spread the gospel. So should we purposefully vote for legislation that would persecute Christians with the hope of spreading the gospel? No. Just no. (Need more info on what’s really going on here? Click here)

3. Jesus never got involved in politics.

Jesus also never became a dentist. What on earth is your point?? Please, no more with this WDJD (What did Jesus do) business. He didn’t do a lot of things. But he did promise that we would do works even greater than he did. Maybe championing the cause of the unborn in the realm of politics is one of those works He spoke of. I think so.

4. I don’t base my vote on one singular issue.

FALSE. The truth is you don’t think abortion is the one issue  worth voting on. If the nominee declared that murder of the BORN should be legalized I guarantee that you would not have this same attitude. As a matter of fact, go ahead. Pick any horrendous act of evil and fill in the blank.

Legalizing child rape? Is that one issue you would vote against?

Reinstating slavery? Is that one issue you would vote against?

Murdering children in the womb? Meh. Clearly not your one issue. I get it.

5. You can’t legislate morality.

Maybe, but you can legislate consequences for people that act immorally. In fact we have actually legislated the punishment of people that kill unborn babies! The difference is those babies were killed by a layperson that will be imprisoned, not a professional baby killer that will be heralded.

6. Fetuses aren’t human.

Well, you got me there. For instance a dolphin fetus is not a human. However,  a human fetus is actually a human. (I’ll wait here while you look up the definition of fetus)

This issue isn’t whether or not a fetus is human. The issue is whether it is wanted by the mother or not.

Exhibit A: A pregnant woman is stabbed in the belly with a knife. The attacker will be charged with TWO counts of murder. Rightly so.

Exhibit B: A pregnant woman is stabbed in the belly with a needle full of poison. The doctor will be paid and lauded a hero. Shamefully so.

Science is not predicated on your wishes. Why do these people hate science?


In Conclusion, most issues in a campaign can be intellectually contested. When it comes to ending poverty, there can and should be debate. There is much to work through and understand. There is economics and statistics not to mention cause and effect. There is no clear choice on either side of the aisle.

When it comes to deciding foreign policy, again there are countless factors and issues that we can only strive to understand. There is no clear choice on either side of the aisle.

But when it comes to taking the life of an unborn child, there is no debate. It is sin. It is evil. And it cannot be accepted on any level. Listen Christians, unity is hard. Jesus prayed that we would be unified in John 17 clearly knowing this was going to be an issue. And if we cannot unify against this one singularly clear and present evil in our world, what hope is there? On the flip side, can you imagine what could happen if we did unify on this one issue. We need to go back to the beginning. If we can identify and verify the value of life at its most innocent and vulnerable stage, then that is something to build on. But when you destroy the very image of God in its infancy, where can you go from there?