Author Archive

Good Boundaries

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

Say this with me:
I AM NOT HERE TO PLEASE PEOPLE. I AM HERE TO PLEASE GOD.

Whew, that’s some truth! How often do you waste time and mental energy worrying about what other people think? If you’re anything like me, you spend more time than you should there and I am here to tell you…..knock it off!

If I were totally honest, I worry way more about what my family thinks of me than anyone outside of that circle. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I rack up a lot of stress over other’s too. But the big worry I tend to have most is what my impact or presence has made upon my family. Did I say something hurtful? Stupid? Thoughtless? Do they think I’m annoying? Do they want to avoid me? Are they mad at me? Am I missing cues? Do they hold in feelings that cause a divide because they feel uncomfortable to share?

I could go on…but you get the point.

These kinds of thoughts can really mess with your heart. I have a Phd in sensitivity! I’m deeply empathetic and intuitive to what other’s say and don’t say. I pick up on stuff (this almost feels like a curse) and I have a hard time separating my feelings and the actions/attitudes of others. I take things that come my way pretty personally. I wish so much that I didn’t. I really want to be more carefree and unaffected by the stuff going on around me. It’s just not how I am built.

This week, I caught myself feeling all stressed out over honoring my kids on some made up holidays. I spent so much time (wasted it, actually) scrolling for pictures to share on social media and if I know them like I do, they really don’t care. Not the kind of “don’t care” that is flippant or mean. Just, the kind that has real knowledge of their special place in my heart…not one of them need me to post a pic of them to reveal some secret love I feel. THEY ALREADY KNOW. I love them, cherish them and honor each of them because of who they are in my life. Still, I felt the need to play along with this foolishness. It may be meant as fun, but it got me going in all the wrong directions.

I do not have to do that. Neither do you.

I am here to love the ones God gives to me and not to get caught up in trying to force them or anyone to play by my rules. My obligation is first to God. He is the one. I owe all my allegiance there, to Him. The family, the people, the world that I live here with….are gifts that I am to love & honor but not one of them is above God. I cannot live up to a world’s standard. If you’ve ever tried to please the world, you know…it is NOT POSSIBLE.

It’s time we put boundaries in place. For me, I need to stop throwing myself in a pit of worry. If someone doesn’t like me or get me…that is not really my problem. If I am doing what is right (not in my thinking, but God’s) I do not have to feel bad all the time or wonder if someone is pleased or not pleased with me. That is just unhealthy thinking. I belong to Christ. It’s HE who judges me, my heart and my actions. I need to focus on pleasing him and not this world.

Maybe you do too.

Be free, Jesus paid a hefty price for you & for me to live this life. John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it in abundance.

Ought & Should

Friday, September 9th, 2022

This post goes out to all of you who like to beat yourself up for everything you don’t do or can’t do in your human capabilities throughout the day. Stop it. Stop paralyzing yourself with all the mental and emotional exhaustion of guilt and whatnot that has you convinced you should be doing more or accomplishing every little thing on your checklist. It is ruining your important energy and stealing from the stuff that really matters in your life.

What is it about the Christian life that feeds us the lie that we must be pedal to the medal all the time? Jesus doesn’t expect that. He understands more than anyone how easy it is for us to become exhausted with all the things of this life. Even noble things. The world is literally pulling us in every direction. Family responsibilities, work stress, busy seasons and even taking care of our personal health all threaten to land us in unrealistic habits. Women are especially good at this, grabbing a large dose of guilt to keep us in a constant motion of YOU GOT THIS, keep going. I am here to tell you, pump the brakes! It is too much!

Let me put it to you like this…. All the stuff you feel hanging over your head, is it helping you lean more on God? Is the long list of what I ought to do or should be doing pushing you into a sweet time of solitude with Christ? See, what really happens when we buy the “we gotta keep going and doing” line is that we trade off important boundaries put in place by Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, serving and helping is very important in each of our lives. We are called to obey and if God is leading you to serve in an extra heavy way this season, pay attention to his parameters on that. The human mind & body are not set up for nonstop service. Take time to sit quiet with God and listen to the direction of his plan.

The most important role of your life is sharing time & space with God. Everything else that you take on will be directly linked to that lifeline. It’s nearly impossible to avoid exhaustion and burnout when we skip attending to our vulnerabilities. We get tired. We face huge stressors. We push ourselves and we can even forget that all of the stuff we are striving for (often in the name of serving God) are actually things that God has in check already. He doesn’t need you or me to figure any of it out. What he wants is for you and me to trust him and watch how he works it all out.

I’ve just returned home from a long week of babysitting grandbabies. It was the hardest yet sweetest work I’ve done in a long time. They were so much fun but they were busy beavers! I feel the biggest respect for all three of my beautiful girls (young women) that are deep in the trenches of mommy’hood right now. Our family is a beautiful reflection of God’s love through what I see in each of them as they love and grow their busy families. I know that season well. It is rough & lovely….sweet & painful….exhausting and exhilarating! It’s also very easy to get stuck in the mindset of AM I DOING ENOUGH? My own experience there in that season was hot on the surface this last week. I remember hanging by a thread. I remember feeling like I needed to do other things but couldn’t because of my circumstances. Looking back I wish I had known that I didn’t have to do it all. Sitting with Jesus and handing over all my ought & should’s could’ve saved me a lot of drained energy.

Ponder this –> What is it that you’re doing that moves the boundary lines in your life? Where do you need to trim the fat? What needs to go so that you can sit with Jesus more? Do that. Let yourself off the hook of thinking you ought to do this or should do that. Remember, there is rest in solitude. Knowing that gives me a better understanding of how God intends me to live out my every day. I need him and I long for his gentle peace – I can find that when I sit in his presence.

You can too.

Take It Easy

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2022

My first instinct was to punish myself. I was putting together a big fat pound cake for my Bible study group when I reached over to throw a dash of salt in the already mixed ingredients. Just moments before, I’d taken the lid off of the salt shaker. It was full, then…it wasn’t.

I had to walk away.

I began counting everything I had just put into the mixer; THREE STICKS OF BUTTER – 6 jumbo eggs – 3 cups of sugar – vanilla – 3 cups of flour – Baking soda – salt…..then of course, about a 1/2 cup of salt to top it all off.

Horrible. I felt so dumb! I really needed that danged cake and I certainly wanted it to be edible.

I had to do something with all my feelings, so I ran to my hubby’s office with the salt shaker in my hand and poured out my troubles. He laughed, I mean…it’s a little funny but not so much when it happens to a person who’s number one talent is being hard on herself.

He offered encouragement and even put a number $ to what I’d just wasted (aren’t guys funny?) followed by a “NO BIG DEAL!”

He was right. It’s not the end of the world.

It hurts to make mistakes. It’s painful to cost yourself time or money because of a dumb mistake. I admit, it’s ridiculous to get all butt-hurt over pouring a pile of salt in a cake mix. Sometimes, mistakes can cost more than time or money. Life is full of tragedies built from simple errors. There’s no reason for my extra salty pound cake to ruin the whole day. It was just ingredients, crazy.

After pouting a few minutes on my back porch and scrolling Instagram (like a healthy grown woman would do) there in fine print just for me was a grace message — I scooped it up and stuck it in my heart! I hopped back up and dumped the ruined cake in the trash and started over making another big fat pound cake! This time, no extra dashes of salt! Only extra grace this time.

Tell me, do you offer yourself grace? Or do you beat yourself up and let it steal all your joy?

“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you!” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Never Mind All That

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Have you ever had something shatter your life & dreams? I have and more than once. I’d like to say that I handled those issues with grace & great courage…but the truth is, I struggled. This summer I’ve felt God’s love and healing in new ways. Before The Great Banquet in Indianapolis, my son took me out for dinner. As we talked about how I was feeling and some of what I was anticipating of the weekend ahead I felt God nudge me in acknowledging the healing he had done in my heart. I hadn’t even thought about the hurt in so long but that night talking with my son I realized God had closed the gaping wound that had plagued me for over 4 years.

I admit, I have had so many redeeming experiences with God. He has picked me up and dusted me off so many times. I cannot imagine what it must be like to deal with me from His great throne. I can be so annoying and whiney! I’m especially good at making excuses when what I really need to do is JUST GET TO THE POINT! Ask God for whatever it is that I need of Him.

In John 5 Jesus comes on the scene of the paralytic by the pool. This pool was a hangout for disabled people who believed that every once in a while an angel would stir the water and whoever was first in the pool would be cured. Jesus sees the man on his mat and asks him, “Do you want to get well?”. The man answers Jesus with excuses–> “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I’m trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” I wonder, do you make excuses for your problems? I do. Matter of fact, sitting in a pile of troubles can be a kind of comfort sometimes. I love what Jesus says next….my translation anyway.

NEVER MIND ALL THAT.

“Stand up, take up your mat and walk” (Jn. 5:8)

The scripture tells us that the man got up (after being paralyzed for 38 years) and walked. Imagine the faith encounter of that. Can you? It’s astonishing to me! This story convicts me of my wishy-washy thinking that often paralyzes me and prevents me from seriously asking God to do what I need him to do when I am hurting or afraid. Jesus’ question of WHAT DO YOU NEED makes it clear that our desire, willingness to name that desire in His presence is a whopping faith builder in our spiritual life. Jesus is always there waiting for us to ask him and he isn’t interested in any of our excuses!

How bad do you want it? Whatever it is that you need…the depth of our desire has a great deal to do with the outcome of our life. Be truthful with Christ but never mind all the excuses. Get to the point. He’s listening and He has a plan.

Strangers To Love

Monday, July 18th, 2022

I’ve just returned home after a month of wild and exciting activities. The plan was to visit our grown-up kids and all the grandbabies (which we did) but God had a little more in mind for me during this trip. He had a divine appointment customized just for me. I cannot thank my sweet son enough for praying his heart out for me and persuading me to step out and try what he was selling. I admit, I was skeptical and I was torn in a million pieces trying to decide if going to some “banquet” for 4 days could fit into my very busy family agenda. It did. I am so glad I went and here is just a tidbit of how it changed my life.

Have you ever walked into a situation that was completely unknowing? Weird even? Okay, maybe not weird…but strange & awkward? Another way to describe it, when you’re taking a picture and you don’t know what to do with your hands! Do I put them down by my side? Do I clasp my fingers? Or should I put them on my neighbor’s shoulder? That’s a bit how I felt walking into the Great Banquet. No one purposefully made it awkward or strange. It was, perhaps a combination of things that made me feel hesitant.

I didn’t want to be there (necessarily). I had such big plans to play with all my grandbabies. I had longed for time to just sit with them and their mama’s & daddies. I dreamt of hanging out as if it were all we had to do (which it was) and having fun making memories that would last me until my next visit to Indiana. Montana is a long, long 2 day drive from Indiana! It’s also something that we are honored to do and thankful for the relationships with each of our children and the love & warmth they show us every time we visit. I understand what a sacrifice it is for them to have us barrel in and disrupt their lives too. Trips like this are costly to everyone. They each do a great job of spending time with us and ignoring their normal busy lives. What a gift. Thank you, favorite humans.

So, there I stood in the big foyer of a strange church with a hundred strangers. Some were chatting, some standing in lines and most of them were holding all their belongings like we were all being dropped off at summer camp. Imagine that, women of all ages and types holding their bedding & clothes preparing their hearts for a Holy experience with God. Strangers, most of us. It was scary! Especially when you think of what I was really doing in Indiana. Grandbabies. Five of them, all 2 years old and under. I had a lot of baby holding to do and playing on the floor of toddler playrooms. What was I doing in this strange church with all these strangers? God, tell me I’m where YOU want me!

There’s a lot I won’t say about the whole long weekend (at least for now) because that’s not the story I want to share. I want to tell you about the strangers God used to love me and fill my tank in a way that I didn’t know I needed. These women were instrumental in how God would reveal to me my own needs and struggles and even some deep vulnerabilities that I had spent a lot of time tamping down. I needed to be at the Great Banquet and God divinely set up the appointment.

My name was called as the last person to join the table of Deborah. When I reached the table of strangers there were no more chairs. It felt like a mistake! Like maybe, they threw my name in at the last minute and someone didn’t catch it and now they had to figure out a spot to stick me. I can still feel everyone’s stare looking at me. By nature, I am a confident and outgoing person. This moment sticks out for me because I know my face showed anything but confidence. A few leaders quickly started looking for an extra chair, someone grabbed one out of a back room and discovered it was broken. I was left standing beside this table of women and the embarrassment was building inside my mind. I couldn’t tell if this was a test or if satan was trying to distract me and make me feel like an oddball among the group. Finally, someone found a real chair and I joined the table.

The sweetest lady jumped up and came around to me and welcomed me to the table and looked into my eyes…and said, “I was praying that you would be at my table!”. She probably has no idea what that meant to me or that my heart was just doing flip-flops moments ago by the whole no chair debacle. This turned out to be our loving and kind leader, Laura. This act of kindness and acceptance opened a door for my heart to safely step in and from that instance on…I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.

I needed Laura. God used her to lead our little ragtag group of ladies. She was soft in all the right places and open with her own issues. She made us all feel like we belonged. I want to always make others feel that way too.

As I scanned the faces of each woman at my table, I wondered in my heart what they knew about the weekend’s events. I felt completely inadequate and out of the loop. Now, I know that each of us probably felt similar in that big things were in store for us but how would God use the events to really impact us inside this group.

The Great Banquet leaders must know that there’s an awkwardness to gathering up with a bunch of strangers because they team you up with a leader who becomes your NEW BEST FRIEND and that’s how the icebreaking begins into feeling you belong and are a part of the group. My BFF, Bridget pushed her way right into my heart immediately. She made sure I felt comfortable and helped me focus on introducing myself to the whole large group. This is all a very important step to connecting with the others throughout the weekend. As I discovered, outside of my table of friends….I would have many encounters with other attendees. God used those moments in such a creative way to share with one another outside of being mostly with your table ladies. Turns out, we were all among friends there.

The weekend is designed around several talks or testimonies from various leaders. You never know who will be speaking, it’s a sort of surprise and by the last speaker….you begin to try guessing WHO’S GOING TO POP OUT next. Each speaker has something huge and life-changing to share and to be honest, I felt challenged by every leader who shared her heart. I had been warned that maybe none of the talks would touch me and then, BOOM! One would blow me away! I waited with anticipation for the ONE! Turns out, they all had a little something JUST FOR ME. God was going to blast me in a completely unexpected way.

Through the ladies at the table of Deborah.

Opening up to strangers can be daunting. Especially for someone whose been deeply wounded by the church. During one of our reflection times after a speaker, Amanda very quietly admitted her reluctance to fully trust the leadership of the church as a whole. She couldn’t share much because her heart was in such disarray from the experiences she’d had growing up in a very toxic church environment. She and her family had suffered terrible consequences from a sick leader and she was not sure she was capable of ever feeling differently. She had a wall up, she was doing exactly what she felt she needed to do and that was to protect herself.

I listened to her share the hurt, confusion and the betrayal. As the weekend progressed, so did Amanda’s trust. She opened up to us about the events that had unfolded through her teen years and the depths of sin that had wrecked her love for the church. This knowledge given to us by Amanda became a gift for us at our table. She was entrusting us with her most vulnerable of hurts. God was using us to love on her and I cannot describe the responsibility I felt as her new friend to point her right back to trusting God with those who misrepresent HIM in the church. He always handles the sinner. We can feel the ache and brokenness but He is the ultimate judge and decider of what happens to those who hurt other believers. We can trust him.

I needed Amanda. She reminded me how fragile the love of other Christians can be in our own walk with Christ. We must live above reproach and honor God with our lifestyles & behaviors. It affects those around us either for good or for evil. I want to lead others to Christ, not away.

Every group has a wild one! Sheila was ours. She was fun, happy and beautiful. Her outgoing personality was a perfect match for me. I’m always looking for a fun buddy and Sheila was just the one. She shared a little about being single. While she didn’t feel angry or forgotten necessarily, she did admit a longing for a loving companion to share her life with. I felt it too. I wanted her to have what her heart desired as well. I mean, this lady is the total package. Where is her hunka man? She has so much love to give and some guy’s going to hit the jackpot with this woman! She is all the things — beautiful, God-loving, horse crazy, funny (so dang funny), happy, unafraid, tender to others, willing to try anything and content with what God hands to her.

I needed Sheila. She reminded me that happiness is a choice. I can be bitter or I can be better. Go on and get what it is that fills me up with joy! If it’s kissing horses or loving on my dog, do it. Don’t wait around for happy to just happen to me. Life is too good to waste waiting for something great to happen. It already is.

I was immediately drawn to Betsy, after all she shared the same name with one of my very favorite best friends in the whole world. I wanted to get close to her and I could sense her sweet private personality. So, I stayed in my lane and let her open up on her terms. Turns out, it was me who shared a deeply painful part of my life that touched Betsy and broke her heart for me. She was so moved by my testimony regarding my relationship with my toxic mom, I wasn’t expecting the response I got from telling such an ugly part of my life to these new friends. It was as if they were mourning all that I had endured for me. But especially, Betsy. I had no idea that seeing someone else pick up my pain could feel so relieving for me. She probably never knew the effect her sorrow for my story had on me. I have complete peace with my mother today and I shared that part of the healing with my Debo gals. Each of them took on all those emotions and packaged them back up for me with love and care as if God had ordained them to before time.

I needed Betsy. She showed me a loving compassion that I didn’t know I was missing. God used her to remind me that what happened to me was not how mother’s treat daughters. Her tears meant so much. I felt seen and I felt loved. She didn’t have to entangle her heart with mine but she did and she did it with the purest of love. What a gift to my heart.

Do you know any SuperMoms? I do. My friend Rebekah is a total bomb of a mom! She impressed me very early on during one of our chats with her momtalk. I felt her love for her kids so easily. She mentioned to someone a few fun summer crafts they were doing at her house and I knew she was one of those mama’s who jumped in with both feet to make great memories for her kids. I love that! She has the wisdom to know that her kids are going to grow up pretty quickly and if she wants to impact them, she better get on it! It was a shocker to hear her admit that she often felt like she wasn’t the best mom. What? No way, sister! God created Rebekah to be a mom! I’ve never even met her kids and I know she is the greatest mom her kids could ever have.

I needed Rebekah. She reminded me that we all feel inadequate in our roles. Even when we are doing our best, satan will try to rob us and smear us by telling us we are falling short. We all need friends who speak truth to us and shut down the enemy on our behalf. I pray for Rebekah right now that she is bathing in all the mom glory God can lather on her! She deserves it.

My mouth dropped open with shock when Audrey walked out onto the stage as speaker #3! What in the world, Lord? This was my new friend and she was about to blow us away with her amazing story of Why am I here! I hung on every word she spoke. Moments earlier I was just sitting beside her at my table and now she was opening up about her experiences in the Army. God had blessed her and he had protected her, but I knew in my heart that her story was important for me. I have a tiny connection to the Army through my precious son Gavin. He has dedicated much of his life the last 5 + years to this service and while he’s never had to go or do what Audrey has…I know it has been a calling on his life and God has used it to grow him into the man he is today. This Army connection was special, but Audrey is full of wisdom outside that life. She has a God knowledge that was smeared all over the ladies at our table all weekend. Audrey had a great way of pulling us all back onto the bus when we wandered off and got a little lost.

I needed Audrey. She reminded me to stay the course and not get bogged down in my perception of what’s going on around me. God has a plan, he is working and I need to be OBEDIENT to him. It’s up to me to stand in the gap for others who are wandering too.

Always give room for the quiet ones to be your token encourager! Stacy was a listener and didn’t get crazy dumping out her heart all over everyone. She was thoughtful and warm and she had something about her that drew every one to her. She wasn’t pushy but when she spoke up we all listened and felt her fun personality and goodness to others. I couldn’t believe it when she told me that she was at the Stevie Nicks concert just days before (the same one I was at with my sweet daughters). We clicked like a couple of gypsy girls right away! She shared a little about being divorced and raising up 2 young men on her own and her involvement in church. All of which keeps her busy. Stacy touched me with her love for others. She was the spearhead for keeping us all connected after leaving the Great Banquet.

I needed Stacy. She reminded me that while we are all busy, far apart and doing what God has for us in our own circles…we must stay close and connected. She is a friend that encourages, giggles with you over funny stuff and tries with all her heart to see the good in every situation.

I had no idea what was in store for me by attending the Great Banquet this summer. However, I have a clue that it had a lot to do with connecting with women from different perspectives and life stages. Through God these women have changed me. They’ve impacted my life forever. I cannot be the same because of what God has placed between us. Words, emotions and struggles that beyond what the world offers…I know these ladies care and will bang down the doors of heaven on my behalf. All I have to do is send out the signal for help.

These strangers were meant for me. God sent them to me to love and trust with my good and my bad. They won’t sugarcoat things. They know better. I am so thankful for each one of them. I will never be without them, even living far away. They are a text or call away.

What a gift.

Stay Faithful

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Confession:
I’m angry.
Every day, I find myself getting angrier.
The world is a giant ugly mess! If you’re paying attention, satan is running every street & commandeering every town. He’s swooping in through each little crack and oozing proudly through all the big ones. All while you & I try to make sense of what is happening in our world. He is happening. How else can you explain what we’re watching play out in our midst? Suicides, in my town & yours. Murders, senseless deaths over and over in every corner of our country. Politicians who push hate and racial divide, who have totaled our economy and have put pretty much most of us on high alert that our lives are not even close to the change that is coming our way. The medical world. Oh my gosh, the medical world has become a cesspool of information, mis-information and dropped balls. The cost of housing, the lack of housing and the struggle to attain both. There’s not one thing that you or I pay for that hasn’t increased in cost. Not anything. It’s difficult to go out, not many places have the dining room open to eat. Businesses are nearly ruined by the fact that only a handful of people will work and those poor folks are run ragged! All this in a world that preaches–> be kind, all while not truly being kind.

Everybody’s angry about the same stuff I feel miffed about. I get it.

For the last few months, I have felt a heavy darkness hanging around inside my head & heart. I feel junky and cruddy in the weirdest of ways. I have prayed about it, I have sat in silence with God over it. I have even tried ignoring it all. I haven’t been able to put a name to what is wrong with me. Honestly, I’ve just felt broken and lost. I know I belong to God. It’s not a salvation issue, perhaps it’s more of a letting my mind and heart dwell on what is happening in this world. It’s not smart to let your thoughts and worries of what is completely out of your control consume you. I have been at war with the evil. I cannot stand against it on my own and I know that. Neither can you.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could drive our hearts right through a heart wash like we can our cars in the car wash?

So, this is for all you dirty angry hearted people out there…. It’s time for us to take back our hope! Our story here on earth isn’t written by others, it’s ours to pen. The ugliness of this world isn’t going anywhere! It may even get much worse, to be truthful. It’s difficult to look away from the hate pouring out on tv, in our neighborhoods and even inside of families. My prayer is that what is good and what is holy will blanket your heart and mine. God has a perfect plan and even in the midst of all the uncertainty we see play out every day — we have the greatest of hope in Him who loves us and makes a way.

Note to self:
I am allowed to be angry. I’m not allowed to let it fuel me to sinfulness. I need to feel what hurts and I want it to change me, not for bitterness but for a holy calling to remain faithful and certain of all that God can & will do through the trials of this earth.

Lord, let me be found faithful to the end. Amen.