That’s really why I’m here.

I was sitting in a dining room when I (thought it was safe and) told a man who had taught Bible class that I felt I’d be speaking on stage.

He tilted his head and patted me on the shoulder, “Yeah… but if He’s not….”

I was only asking for prayers. That’s the only reason I told him. It was a small group meeting and – prayer is part of it, right?

But when he didn’t believe me, I was faced with another situation entirely: A test of faith.

Did I actually believe what I was saying I know? Or did I not?

I looked at him (not aware back then of his condescending tone) and after deep thought a minute, I said again, “But… He is.” I just …knew.

And again, this faith-lacking, prideful, young Bible class teacher looked into my eyes, shook his head and said with a smirk (clearly now I realize it was proof he didn’t believe me) and patted me again on the shoulder, “Yeahh….but if He’s NOT….”

What I read from Genesis to Revelation is that God has always used lesser known messy people with messy lives to carry out His Divine purpose.

I’ve had something like 7 years to think about that moment. He didn’t seem to believe God would choose someone like me (clearly nobody in this man’s eyes) to share God’s Word, my faith, and my story.

 

It’s funny how some moments seem to last so much longer than others.

 

I believe God allows and purposely tests our faith with moments like these.

People everywhere are constantly demanding field- and factory-tested products but they are the same people who tend to shake their fist in defiant anger when anyone tests or challenges their beliefs.

That’s a bit of a double standard.

God humbles and tests us, refines us, and He says He will finish what He starts.

And it turns out it doesn’t matter who else believes what He’s doing with you but you.

If someone isn’t tested then how will he or she stand when things seem unfair?

What about when things seem to take a long time? (“Too long” according to people watching your life. Too long? Oh my word! What does that even MEAN when The One we serve is The Author of time, itself?)

What about when other people mock your faith?

What about when it’s people closest to you who mock your faith?

People don’t like flimsy products.

Oh! How much MORE does God not want a luke-warm follower?!

Two things just happened.

This past month AS the final legal procedures of my second divorce happen, the doors have been opened for more platforms to share my faith – and my story.

Share my story — every messy broken part of it.

Yes, you read that right… second: one marriage was 7 years and one has been almost 19 by the time divorce is final… though possibly both were broken from the start. But I’ve learned a lot. And forget divorce! What about the hundred other ways God has had to be sad about me? There are so many other things! But God!

Imagine a redeeming God who uses messy people’s messy lives to share in HIS purpose?!

The thing is I knew you’d be reading this. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. But I knew somehow in my spirit a few years ago that I’d be here writing about this someday.

I had told my kids I felt someone would come ask me to write with a group of other Christian writers.

This just happened.

Jennie Louwes, who felt God lead her to start MomPro – Teach The Way, contacted me to join her along with several other writers.

I also knew I’d be speaking on stage at some point. This also isn’t good or bad. It just is.

I was actually afraid to ever speak back then.

Mostly I was afraid because someone too close to me kept telling me in so many ways that I was never going to be enough.

The beautiful Truth is that God takes what little I have to offer and HE makes it – and He makes me – enough.

But what ever would I speak about exactly? That part wasn’t clear at that time, which again is why I had been asking for prayers already all those years ago in that small group meeting.

This just happened too.

Last week I was asked to speak at an event. I believe this is the first of many.

And guess what? I’m not afraid anymore.

In the mess…in the questions…in the middle, God gives a firm place to stand in Him.

That’s really why I’m here today: to ask you.

What do you do when your faith is tested?

Do you recognize when it happens?

When people tell you something isn’t… but God shows you it very much IS, perhaps that’s a test of your faith.

What you DO with each test of faith is up to you.

God likes to know what you’ll do and He tests you and allows you to be tested. Because… well, maybe He also wants YOU to know what you’ll do.

 

Do you complain?

Do you immediately go to Him in prayer for answers and to praise Him out loud?

Do you get mad and let pride grab a place in your spirit?

 

I believe what you do in that moment IS a part of the test.

It doesn’t matter what someone else believes. It matters what YOU believe.

Want to have some fun? Just watch God use something that someone meant to harm you, instead for HIS good. He is a good God! NOTHING is wasted. HE makes beauty from ashes. I believe in you, you believe, and God believes. THAT is already a cord of THREE!

Even when nobody else can see what He’s doing, He STILL does it. And THAT is some Good News.

“Unplanned Pregnancy” is not in God’s vocabulary.

Psalm 139:13  For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Parenthood is a Calling.

Some people turn it down.

Some people turn it down many times. Please stop.

God can and does forgive. He’s very good at it. Talk to Him. He’s listening right now. He takes all the broken pieces of our lives and creates something altogether beautiful. It’s what He does. Stop hiding and start living again. HE ADORES YOU. You cannot confess ANYTHING that would make Him love you less.

I was moved to write this because I’ve seen how abortion does more than kill ONE life. It ALWAYS kills more than one life. Being alive but walking through life ~> dead <~ is not living how God intended us to live. Life is a gift from God. EVERY life is a gift from God. God wants every person to have an exuberant life.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

We have a desire to be with God. Because of this, when we do something sinful, it makes us want to hide just like Adam and Eve hid in the Garden of Eden.

But somebody needs YOU. Get up. Get up. Please get up.

Somebody else may be going through the very same decisions and thoughts you went through and you may be the very right person God wants to use to help them. Ask Him for courage. He’s got you. He’ll show you when to share your story.

When we talk about stuff that’s happened in our lives sometimes people get defensive.

WHY?

It’s NOT about YOU. Well, wait. Kind of, it IS about you because satan is AFRAID of what YOU can become. But it’s NOT about you because sin is designed to trick you, steal from you, and keep you isolated; sometimes just isolated in your own mind because you never talk about things you need to talk about so that you can be free. (And this applies in ALL areas of our lives; not just about abortion.)

Make NO mistake.

Holding secrets makes you grouchy. (Any secrets. Again, this applies to WAY more than abortion.)

Like, every day grouchy and even if people don’t know WHY you’re grouchy they still sense something is very broken. We CRAVE freedom from the prisons we get trapped in. When we’re stuck in hell on Earth, we don’t have peace.

Please hear this now.

It’s about what satan did TO YOU. That enemy is so very clever and custom designs traps to enslave us FOREVER. Whether you chose to kill your baby or someone talked you into it, it’s a lie and is not “an easy way out” AT ALL. And sometimes people take a sin and never bring it to light SO THAT it can be forgiven and redeemed. There is freedom in confession. There is freedom when the chains that hold us are broken by Jesus’ Blood.

Yes. We have choices we make every day and we are to be held accountable for everything; even the words we speak. BUT what satan wants, and unfortunately many times he gets, is to knock us down and KEEP US DOWN.

Sometimes people need to find a better way to talk with others about sin and I find it’s best to confess our sins to someone else before trying to help someone else with theirs. That whole take the plank out of our own eyes before pointing out the splinter in someone else’s… Yeah THAT one.

BE KIND when dealing with other humans or they tend to shut you out!

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

When you feel loved by someone and have a relationship with them it’s easier to be heard and we MUST speak in love and not in condemnation to each other.

When we talk about this sin specifically, people often say, “You’re making me feel guilty.” (Actually I can’t MAKE you feel ANY way. But I get what this is saying.)

Good.

Guilt is a GOOD thing. Guilt shows your conscience is working and the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart to bring you back where you belong.

Guilt is not bad.

ABSENCE of guilt is bad.

God loves you so very much. He forgives. He saw that we would mess up in this life and He loves us SO MUCH that He sent His ONLY Son to redeem us and bring us back to Him.

Now, please, YOU forgive you and ask Him what He wants you to do with your life because He had a plan for you when He knit YOU together in YOUR mother’s womb.

READ THIS AGAIN: God already loves you so very much. He ALWAYS has. Talk to Him.

I’m very sorry when well-meaning people take murder and make it into a sin worse than other sins. Sometimes people may not articulate well that we are all sinners.

ALL sins nailed Jesus to the Cross. We EACH held a hammer.

And Jesus didn’t set us free so that we can keep doing the same sins over and over again. He paid the Ultimate Price SO THAT we can be free from the sins that try to keep us from living.

God takes our broken stuff and makes it into a ministry. Ask Him what He will do with you. He has a plan for YOU and when He “knitted you together” He knitted His plans for you into you and many times, the very thing that held us down is the VERY thing that God uses to pick us up and help others.

 

The Right Way To Eat Pizza (not just about pizza)

Everybody knows the right way to eat pizza.

pizza

Pepperoni with parmesan.

The first bite is out of the side by the crust, right?

No.  The first bite is the pointed part, of course.

Why do we think this?  Because it’s how it’s “supposed” to look?

Or is it better as a supreme pizza with meats and vegetables?

Extra cheese.

Only cheese.

Two pieces together.

Or just folded in half.

With ranch dressing?

Or pizza with ham and pineapple.

Or what about an all vegetable pizza?

What about 3 day old pizza on the desk in your dorm room?  Perfect!  Right?

Pizza is a serious thing and people get kinda passionate about the right way to enjoy it.

Maybe NOT having pizza is the right answer.

The thing is – none of these are wrong and none are right.

They are just different.

Mission work is the same way.

When we do work for the Lord, haters, skeptics, and critics come out of nowhere.

When we start telling people we feel God is calling us to do a specific work, we hear more, “You’re doing it wrong,” than anything else.

Maybe it’s not wrong at all.  Maybe just different than someone else thinks it “should” look.

When we ask God what HE wants us to do instead of doing what WE would like to do every day, life begins to look different, WE begin to live differently, and spiritual warfare happens more than usual yet peace is more apparent at the same time.

When you stop looking around at other people, and you start looking UP to God and asking His direction, that’s when most amazing things start happening.

I pray for peace for people reading this and for all people to find God’s plan for their lives because He has one for each of us.

~~~>  When people are focused on what God’s planned for their own lives, there won’t be time to be upset about the jobs God’s got others doing or upset about the way He’s showing them to do the jobs.  <~~~

Some people believe you must do mighty things to actually get visible results. But God’s got this. He once had people march around a city and the walls fell down. Can you imagine the things that were said to them and about them and the way people mocked their faith? March around a city? Blow horns? What?! Such nonsense, right?

But the walls fell all the same.

Obedience matters.

~~~>  Sometimes God said things that really seem strange. “Cast your nets on the other side.”

What??

Does God not realize how completely silly that sounds to human ears? (I’m sure He does.)

I mean, when you think about it, the water underneath the boat was all the same water, right?  <~~~

But He said to obey and when they did, the nets were full of fish.

It is about obedience to His Calling even when it looks silly to other people.

For our family, we believe God is calling our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center.  Unless you have walked in our shoes, you wouldn’t understand how this fits every experience and test God’s put us through.

Some say, “God doesn’t lead us like that today.”

No?

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right?
So since He’s the same…
He led people before the Bible was written, right?
And we know He led people during Bible times.
And He leads us now.

And how does that look for each of us?  I believe it may look just as different as each example in the Bible.  It looks as different as each “right” way to eat pizza.  What if all the ways are right enough?  When we look at the Bible examples, there are so many ways God led and so many different jobs He gave people.

God leads our steps when we ask Him to – and I’ve noticed over time that He was leading me EVEN when I wasn’t paying as much attention to my life. That’s pretty cool to think about.  My past is messy (just like many others’ lives are messy.)  And IF my life and past did nothing but bring me to spend the rest of it speaking blessings over people and telling you that YOU MATTER, all the junk I’ve been through was worth it to get to this place.

You are SO valuable. And if you forget, ask me and I will remind you a thousand more times. You are worth something. Maybe someone didn’t notice this about you. That’s unfortunate. Your life matters and your story matters.

It is so great that we each have different ways of learning, living, speaking, listening, different talents, and different ideas. What a boring world it could be if we were all exactly the same.

Sometimes when we do work for God, I have to wonder if He sees it as we do when our children do jobs we ask them to do.

Example:  Your young child washes a window.  She’s proud of the work she did.  You see the effort and also the places of the window she missed.  You’re still proud of her for trying.  You (hopefully) do not tell her what an awful job she did but instead, praise her and also help teach her gently how to do a better job as she tries next time and the next.

When we do work for God, we are proud of the work we did (sometimes a bit TOO proud and forget to thank and honor Him for the talents to do the jobs in the first place) and I’m sure God sees all the spots we missed.

He’s STILL proud of us for trying.

Ask God what HE wants you to do.  Try this for a month.  Follow the tugs on your heart and see how He will show you His plan for you.

[Note:  Our family would love to hear how God’s using your life and story.]

[Another Important note:  We would love to hear about the right way to order and eat pizza, too.]

 

 

 

 

Her Dreams

Some people know what they want to be when they’re kids.

When I was a little girl the only 2 things I knew in my heart I wanted to be were a mommy and a wife.  (I’ve been a wife twice.  I guess I was an overachiever with that dream. Some won’t laugh at that. I get it. Not funny, but if I can find a reason to smile through all the heartache, I need to find it.)

As my oldest child and I were talking today we remembered all her friends who came to her big slumber party several years ago jokingly called me “Mommy” because I asked them all to use sippy cups because I didn’t have water bottles with lids for 20 kids but I had enough sippy cups.  We didn’t want to spill on the carpet.  Some of her friends still call me Mommy because of that.  (I told them their moms may not appreciate them calling someone else by the Mommy name.  It’s cute though and they were just being silly and being the awesome, cute kids that they are.)

~
The thing I can’t stop thinking about is this:

What if there’s a child who needs a mother’s love and care in Alaska and God knew this was His plan for my life a long time ago?

Maybe the reason I didn’t know yet was because I wasn’t ASKING Him what HIS plans are for my life.  I was just doing what I wanted to do.  Maybe also it’s that He just reveals each next step to us in His timing whether we ask or not.  I can look back over 35 years and see how God’s been preparing me for this very thing.

What if there are a hundred kids who need care?

I know there are.  And this is everywhere.  Every city.  Every place.  God leads people and uses us where He wants us.  We specifically feel called to move to Alaska for this work.

When someone tells you her dreams in life, although they may seem smaller to you than someone else’s dreams, her dreams may just prove to be bigger than they appear and very likely exactly what she knew as a child is exactly what God wrote into her when He knitted her together and even if she didn’t have the vocabulary or visions yet at that time to understand them or explain them, the same dreams from childhood are the same ones God will use later in life (and everything in between.)

(Being a mommy and wife are AMAZING things to be even if some don’t realize this.  Being one or the other is amazing, too.  And no, I’m not saying to purposefully be a single mom.  I’ve been there (though not purposefully) and IT’S TOUGH!  My heart goes out to single moms and dads.  You guys are doing a very important job.)

Just sayin’ when people share what is most important to them, even if you think they’re not the super most important “career” choices many others are working toward, maybe just pray with them and help them see how God will use these dreams in their lives.  Please stop telling people what’s impossible. He’s got a plan for each of us. He works well in the impossible.

The talents and dreams put in our hearts are there for a reason even if we can’t see the whole picture when we’re young.

Prayers for the Alaska homeless teen center are always welcome here.  We don’t know everything about how to do this work but can look back and see how He’s been preparing for this over 35 years.  We will keep following as He keeps leading.  We know He’s preparing the way even when we can’t see all of it yet and are excited to see who else He’s calling to this mission work.

[Note:  Yes, God hates divorce.  But God does NOT hate divorced people and He does NOT disown you if you’ve been divorced.  God uses EVERY part of our story for His Glory.  You don’t have to believe me.  Ask Him to do this with your story.  He will.]

[Another Note:  When people laugh at your God-sized dreams, be kind. Sometimes we all forget to dream big. Sometimes we forget that there is a big God over all this and it’s not actually random at all.]

Seven Million Tears (Divorce)

I remember the waves of sadness that would crash over me. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason so I’d know when to expect the next one.

There may be a song or a moment or words spoken and the waves of sadness threatened to take me under. It was so hard to breathe. I may be in a store or in the library. I had go to my car and get out of there because I couldn’t stop the tears – or the pain.

Sobbing uncontrollably in public isn’t fun.

People usually don’t know what to say when someone is going through a divorce. It’s almost as uncomfortable for them as it is for the people going through it.  (Almost.)

A few years after I’d cried the last of the seven million tears and healed from my divorce, my Uncle Dale visited me. He was going through some deep grieving over the end of his marriage.

I sat with him and we talked. We prayed together. Of course we cried together. I hugged him and THEN I said it; The words I never thought would have left my mouth (and shocked that I’d even THINK them,) “I’m so glad I’ve been divorced so I can help you through this.”

WHAT?!

I mean, WHAT?!

I couldn’t believe I said that.

Those words just left my mouth.

I HEARD what I’d said… and I MEANT it.

I was never EVER glad to be divorced in ANY way – until that moment.

Someone was hurting ~ and I understood the pain. ~ I could be there for him and help in some way that others couldn’t.

That’s what it’s all about. If we hide the stuff we’ve been through in our lives how can we help someone else?

You don’t have to wonder how you’ll know who needs your story.

God leads people to each other all the time. Ask Him who and when.

You’ll know.

Your seven million tears have a purpose even bigger than helping you heal from your pain.

Your life matters. Your story matters. How you feel about it all matters. What matters next is what you will do with it.

 

When We Were Young We Believed

When we were young we believed we could do so many things; crazy, amazing, big, world changing things!

Then life happened.

We started to believe we had such limitations and we were beaten down by other people’s words and ideas.

Why did they say what they said? I don’t know. Maybe they were jealous. Maybe they were broken inside. Maybe they truly believed this world is all there is and there’s not any point in trying anymore.

They were wrong.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

You CAN make a difference.

Here’s an even better reminder than that! God can make a God-sized difference through your life.

Yes. You. YOUR life.

YOUR story matters.

ALL the details of your life matter.

How you feel about it matters.

God can do something that no man can do. He can turn the very worst and darkest part of your story into something amazing that glorifies Him.

And THAT is a beautiful thing!

Think you’re too old? No. You’re just right.

Think you’re too young? No. You’re just right.

Too tired? God gives new energy.

Think it’s too late? Remember. God is the Author of time. He is not in a hurry.

Ask God what He wants you to do today ~ every day. He will show you.

God and I believe in you.

Now it’s time that YOU believe in you (again or maybe for the first time.)

YOU can make SUCH a difference in this dark world.

When you believe in you – and in God – with childlike faith like you used to, the possibilities for what God will do in your life are limitless.

The world told you that you can’t. The world is wrong. You CAN.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

 

Power

Sometimes God is leading and directing us and we’re not even aware of it. When we ASK Him to make us aware of what He’s doing in the valley times, He does this.

Sometimes I think also that satan sees our power – like what God will be doing with us – and he trembles in fear. It’s like he tries to knock our feet out from under us.  (Maybe that’s a good time to kneel.)

Many times he succeeds.

All the time we spend NOT doing the most important things God’s calling us to do is just THAT, in my opinion. It’s just satan playing games with our time and lives.

(And I don’t mean the “spiritual whitespace” or the “down time” to be alone with God or with our spouse, kids, friends… that is necessary and I do believe it’s part of what we need to be doing but the world has taught us to kinda believe that if we’re “still” then we’re doing “nothing.” Sometimes we NEED to be doing “nothing.”)

I know He has a plan for each person and when Jesus shines so brightly through some people, sometimes others are; dare I say it? Yes, I will. Afraid. Afraid because they know somewhere in their souls that Jesus is very real so the power they see and the way we look different makes them step back. That’s okay. It’s a seed planted just when it needed to be. God will nurture it and it will grow how He plans for it to grow.

Those Jesus Freaks. They’re just freaky. Yep. And unashamed of Him.

Dallas Homies (Funny Story)

Dallas Homies.

That’s what we call them. They are people who are overlooked and forgotten.

They are some awesome people we’ve met – and they are homeless.

Jeans, shoes, socks, hats, shampoo, soap, backpacks, and pre-packaged foods are some of the things collected and given. (Yes, pre-packaged foods because the rule enforcers and the law stops “the love” when we bring healthy, fresh foods.)

Conversation is AS welcomed as the other stuff (including the ice-cold popsicles) on hot, Texas afternoons.

My kids were 9 and 13 and excited to give out hundreds of cold water bottles.

We saw a sweet woman who looked like she may be about 82. She looked kind and had a sweet face. The years had worn on her and her hair could use shampoo and a brush.

She was at the edge of a large crowd and she hadn’t collected anything yet.

She looked straight at my 13 year old.

In a loud voice she demanded to know, “DO YOU HAVE ANY SEX?”

Um, what?

In the big crowd of people only a couple others heard what she’d said to my child but THAT caught this momma’s attention!

The woman was still intently looking at my daughter and expecting an answer.

My 13 year old daughter smiled nervously and with wide-eyes she calmly and firmly replied, “NO.”

But the woman was persistent. She said, even louder this time, “DID YOU HAVE ANY SEX EARLIER?!”

Again my daughter, trying to be polite, looks down at the water bottles in her hands and at the people around her and shouts a little louder, “NO!”

Now, people know that sex is fun and homeless people like sex as much as anyone paying a mortgage does. But come on! THIS is my 13 year old CHILD she was talking to!

THIS time when she spoke I was watching closer and prepared to say something to her.

ARE YOU GONNA HAVE ANY SEX LATER?!” As she said this she put her hands together as if holding a bag and then pulled them apart a few inches as if OPENING A BAG.

SACKS!

Praise God she was asking for SACKS!

Relieved that she wasn’t looking for “sex” but only “sacks,” we were a little sad to have to tell her we’d run out of the bags earlier. We love hangin’ out with our Dallas Homies!

 

If I were doing things MY way…

I would NOT be online. Period.

I was afraid. It’s as simple as that. I was afraid because now the rapists, molester, and others who have hurt me can now find me easier.

It was not a mistake that I wasn’t online. It wasn’t like I didn’t know HOW to use the internet or computer.

Of course I knew how.

I didn’t want to be online with pictures, video, writing, on social media, or anything else.

EVER.

If I were doing things MY way I would not have put myself “out there” in the great, wide space of the internet suddenly deciding at age 44 to be ridiculed and mocked for my faith in doing what we know God is calling us to do; opening and caring for a homeless teen center in Alaska.

I certainly wouldn’t have intentionally invited hate mail or wanted to hear the poisonous passive aggressive voices from people who do not see why we are doing what we are doing and at the same time do not have courage to ask us “Why?” personally.

If I were doing things MY way, I wouldn’t advertise that we were selling, giving, packing, and now waiting on the Lord to provide what He’s shown us He will provide if we do this work He’s given us to do.

No. I could have been a little more secretive about it… IF I were doing things MY way.

But I’m not. I am listening to the Holy Spirit as He leads our family to do amazing things.

I could have said, “No, God, that’s too uncomfortable. You KNOW me. And I just CAN’T be online. I love You but that is just too far out of my comfort zone. Maybe You have the wrong person for this job.”

RIGHT. I COULD have said that.

UMMM, NO.

One day I will be face to face with God and I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So… we will do what He’s calling us to do ~ EVEN though we face people laughing at our faith in Him.

God says He has a job for us and has given me the main tool I need to do this job.

Confidence.

Not just confidence in myself but confidence in Him AND that He’s got this and will show His Power through our work if we obey this calling and follow Him.

The Holy Spirit leads.

Have YOU been called?

Are you listening to what He’s called you to do?

Somebody needs YOU and YOUR life’s story. Have courage and do not be afraid.

Will some laugh? Probably.

Will some support? Hopefully.

Will some walk away from your life. Yes.

But with God’s Power and Support you cannot go wrong.

Step up into your position God’s calling you to.

I believe in you.

Listen to Him.

Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’