Take It Easy

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

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.


“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

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

November 23rd, 2021

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.

Push Reset

October 23rd, 2020

I’ve got a question for you to ponder today, October 23, 2020. Do you give yourself grace? This morning in Zoom Coffee Time with my pastor, he taught a lesson on PRIDE. It was the last of the 7 deadly sins lessons he’s been teaching to our group and it was incredibly humbling. I listened as he shared his thoughts. Instantly, I felt the sting of my own issues with pride as he listed out 7 different ways we can detect what’s really going on in our hearts:

1. Fault finding
2. Harsh or critical Spirit
3. Superficiality
4. Defensiveness
5. Presumption or cavalier attitude towards God
6. Desperation for attention
7. Neglecting others (being exclusive in relationships)

Like you, perhaps…not all of these are weak spots for me. But there are some sucker-punch items listed there that force me to look directly in the mirror of pridefulness. I actually hate those things about myself and I see how they really are a big fat roadblock to being a faithful & obedient follower of Christ.

If not kept in check, pride will totally ruin most things in our lives.

Ironically, there in his big list was never mentioned lying or dishonesty. If you think about it, lying can be a huge form of pride. Hiding a truth about yourself is the opposite of being humble, which never ends well. Like all sin, the consequences are painful.

I love what scripture says about pride in James 4:6 –> “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Recognizing the ugliness of pride but offering the one thing each of us needs most is His grace if we simply humble ourselves and repent of our sin.

I do a jam up job of being hard on myself & others, if I’m being fully transparent. Tell me I’m not the only one to beat myself up for foolish mistakes. Knowing what I know about God, he is the most gracious of grace givers. I could learn a thing or two from His love for me and the mercy He pours out regularly. How can I love others like Christ when I poke around in any of the 7 hints of pride I listed?

That’s a better question, huh?

Can we do the work of God if we are trapped in any of those pride habits? Maybe. Will we be very useful? Probably not as much as if we were freely clean of pride and its reality. I’m so grateful that God has given us a reset button. No matter the brokenness of my error, I can go to Him with a repentant heart and start anew. I can replace my pride with holiness that can only come from Christ.

Let’s show one another grace, like God offers to each of us. Let’s also learn to give ourselves the grace we need to step out of whatever pride struggle hounds us. There’s no humility in hanging onto pride or lording it over anyone else who struggles there.

Remember that.

What Mama’s Do

May 9th, 2020

I wasn’t aware of how important my mother was until she was gone. I loved her and I wanted her in my life but for most of our time together the relationship was toxic. She was toxic.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I see we’re all a little damaged and rough where we are usually needed most to be soft.

How do I know?

No matter how hard I tried or the effort put forth to be the best mom I could be, I fell terribly short. My good intentions to love sometimes came across as smothering. My discipline & even cheering on perhaps looked & felt more like butting in and control. My frustration or anger….just hurt.

Mother’s are a powerful force.

I can’t change a single thing, nor can my own mother whose been gone 7 years now. But I think I have a little idea of just how heavy the bag of regret can be when you’re looking back as a mom. For mine, she had a lifetime of abuse and hurt to carry. The last few months of her life, she righted many of her wrongs against me the only way she could — to say I’m sorry I hurt you.

Those hurts make a lot more sense to me at 53 years old. None of them were okay or acceptable but I see why she lived the way she did and I forgive. Her own torment spilled out onto me.

Still, I see how she loved me. I was her joy and not for one minute did she not think of me.

I’ve been a mother for 30 years. Not one minute has passed that I haven’t cherished the children God gave to me. Of all the things I’ve done or experienced in my life, being a mother has given me more joy and laughter than any other thing.

I think of them everyday. I let them go just as God had planned all along and I smile every time I think of them. They will always be mine and like me with my own mother, they will navigate the life we’ve lived together and decide for themselves what they will let go of and forgive and what they will cherish about my love for them.

It’s the circle of life for us all.

What Mama’s Do:

1. She holds us tight. In physical love & affection and in permanent residence in her heart.

2. She sacrifices her own life. She gives her portion for you even if you don’t really deserve it.

3. She hears & sees everything. She understands hurts and celebrates victories.

4. She protects. Her number #1 instinct is to cover you with her safe blanket and propel you into adulthood.

5. She smiles. From the moment she hears about you the joy cannot be contained. You’ll want that to see her smile more than you know after she’s gone.

6. She gives you boundaries. The only way she knows to help you is to reign you in where you want to run loose.

7. She’s your emotional backbone. Every feeling you don’t know what to do with, she’s there to help. Even if it’s just listening.

8. She will laugh at all your jokes. You’re funny to her and seeing you smile makes her heart jump.

9. She sees your strengths, weaknesses and files them accordingly in her mom heart. You can trust her to be honest with you.

10. She forgives. Her own frailty as a human reminds her that you’re just as prone to make mistakes.

I love you, Mom. I love you, Gavin – Ally & Gates. You are all the very best of me, forever. For that, I am so proud.