When life gets messy and Valentine’s Day is sort of a rip off

this post was originally posted march 7, 2014 and titled why cinderella and her story is totally bogus

So, everyone’s day looked pretty special on Facebook and all of social media, huh? Nobody filled in their “status update” with: “Well, he packed his bags and said goodbye.” OR “We had this great thing planned and he fell asleep on the sofa.” If wasn’t quite the fairy tale ending you’d hoped for, eh?

Those cards and roses, they’re a real nice idea, huh? They just sort of bring the Walt Disney Magic right into your living room for just a moment, don’t they? Well, maybe that’s not your idea of “romance” but for me it was. I mean, everyone has a different fairy tale, ya know? And mine was all wrapped up with glass slippers and happily ever after.

Don’t worry, it didn’t take me long to realize the truth. Yeah, that Cinderella and her story is a total rip off.

I mean, I know it happened to you– don’t get me wrong.

I know your sweet man waited until you were married to hold your hand. I know he asked your dads permission, and even got down on one knee. But it didn’t happen for all of us.

Oh, we dreamed that it would, didn’t we? But life gets icky and stories get stuck on us like mud- and before you know it, we’re just a mess. A mess of ladies walking around looking for something to make us new. Well, it’s surely our Prince Charming, right? He will come and rescue us from this mess of a life and make all of our dreams come true.

Ummm, maybe not so much.

Because you see, there’s this thing called life and like I said, it gets all messy. I want to hear the Cinderella story that tells of Cinderella all crazy and emotionally unstable or just down right mean because she spent all that time under the oppression of a wicked stepmother. Or the Prince who ends up being a starving artist because he’s sick and tired of being royal and needing to meet the crazy expectations placed on him.

The Cinderella who partied back in the day and struggles with her past choices? Or the Cinderella who didn’t know what in the world to do so she just did the unthinkable and aborted that baby. She wishes she had known better but what could she do? It’s not like she could turn to her stepmother.

How about the Prince and his past lifestyle of rich and famous? Now he has found himself swarming in debt because he’s trying to have everything his parents had, in his young life.

What about the Cinderella and Prince who just couldn’t ever seem to lower their expectations– so their children grew up hating them because they were never.able.to.just.be.kids. Or what about the Cinderella and Prince who lost a baby and now don’t know how to cope with life together.

Whew, it can be a messy life.

The good news is God is a God of changing stories.


That man of mine use to be gone all of the time. I was a sports widow. At night, when he and the baby were sleeping- I would sneak out and go to the clubs and dance with strangers. On weekends we watched MTV and he played video games all day. We were a mess. Just trying to figure it all out and having no idea what in the world we were doing.

Hey, if that is your life ^^ more power to ya. For me. For us? We were dying.

Now, that man and I have a crazy, deep love. We have a loud house with eight crazy kids running around. We even have a few pets to add to the mix.

He’s not a romantic, oh I wish he was. But he makes me hot tea each morning and always tells me he loves me.

He still loves sports and I love that he does. It’s a family thing now. We do it all together.

I still have issues, but I don’t kick him out of the bed (yeah, with my feet… really kick him) when I think he’s not listening. Now, when I’m sad- he understands I need a little extra love that day.

You get the point.

You know– we almost didn’t make it here. Nope. That picture at the top? The one of him cooking me dinner tonight (a RARE man thing in our house) We had been married for a year when we decided to call it quits. We were both tired. One swift slap to his face and he said, “That’s it- I’m out of here” and he was gone.

And I thought it was forever.

We knew we needed a change. We found a church, people loved us- like crazy get down in the dirty parts of life type of love, not just sit on the pew next to you quietly type of love. And it changed our lives.

Jesus in them, changed our lives.

Many times I have thought about what life would have been like if we had just given up. Oh, it seemed easier at the time. I’m sure it seemed easier lots of times back then. But now, I couldn’t imagine it any different.

Ever been there?

Here are a few simple things that have helped make our marriage work. Made it fun. Got us through a lot of ups and downs. Maybe you’re married, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re on a break, maybe you’re finished all together. Here’s the deal: pack this little bit of goodness away for a rainy day… you just never know when “prince charming” may come waltzing in to swoop ya off your feet.

#1. Talk, Talk, Talk. We talk about everything. I mean every.single.thing.  Weather, plans, dreams, sadness, food, new discoveries, what the kids are learning, what tomorrows plans are. You name it- we talk about it. My man is who I talk with most.

#2. We send love messages. You see- in this day there are so many different ways to share love with people we should be ashamed of ourselves if we’re not! Send a quick text message, shoot a quick picture of where you are, what you’re doing and tell him you wish he was there with you. Leave him a little love note where he’ll see it when he gets ready for work. In some way- love that man with words everyday.

#3 I don’t expect him to be a girl. This one is a hard one. But it’s true. He’s all man. And he thinks like a man too! (imagine that) He leaves his clothes on the floor- drives me nuts! His garage is messy, he doesn’t clean the kitchen like me and he hates to make the bed. But you know what? If I lost that man of mine, I don’t think I could ever make the bed again or even pick up his last pair of clothes lying on the ground. He may be messy- but he’s special and I’d miss every.single.thing.about him if he was gone.

#4 You see, there’s this thing guys like- and yeah… they really do love it when you’re all cute and kissy, and all that stuff… umm, yeah- you get the point. I think he’d be happy with everyday- but let’s just be sure it’s more than four times once a week ; ) What?!! It’s true– he’s thinking about it… go on ask him. (he, he)

#5 I’m not my sweet mans holy spirit- I know, I know- you’ve got this Jesus thing all figured out. You’re the Proverbs 31 woman through and through. But I’ve had to learn the hard way, I’m not my sweet man’s holy spirit. What God is teaching me isn’t always what he’s teaching my man. So really, I can’t be all mad at him if he’s not doing his quiet time quite like mine. Or if he’s not _____________ you fill in the blank. My job as a wife is to live a life of godliness for all to see and pray for my man that God would speak to his heart. And really? Trust me- a daddy who comes home and does devotion with the family because HE feels led to do so is so much more fruitful than the daddy who comes home and does devotion because you’ve whipped him into submission by nagging = (

#6 I’ve learned to let my man- be my man. He’s not your man. He doesn’t have flowers delivered, or even take me to dinner very much (we’re both too cheap for that) But he loves me in his silly ways– Like his Valentine’s gift this year? 14 ways he loves me, sent via text message:

No diamonds for this girl- no thank you. I’ll take my man, just the way he is. And don’t you go thinking I’m being prideful or thinking I know it all because the truth is- I’ve spent many a day wishing my man was your man because your man did something like, cook you a fancy dinner and my man made ramen noodles. =) But we have to realize, ladies: each of our men have a way they love and it is special in their own little way.

Those are just a few- I’m sure you know of a bunch more. Honestly? Jesus is the one who makes it all work here in our house. The rest is just a little bit of fun. When I’m mad, It’s Jesus that reminds me to love. When I’m being selfish- it’s Jesus that reminds me to love my man more than myself. My man? He will disappoint me time and time again. But Jesus, his love will never fail. That Jesus. He is always so good.

Love big, have fun, and live YOUR happily ever after! Break the mold, be crazy! Laugh at mistakes, say I’m sorry… dance like you’re 20! Don’t you even try to be like Cinderella, sister. Her story has been played out.

Dancing like a crazy lady through this thing called life,



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Let’s talk about sex, baby.


Cooking dinner I overhear them on the steps.

“You know, you are not defined by your purity.” That sweet man of mine says to our almost 15 year old who is reading passion and purity– (a book about love and letting Christ be in control)

Of course, being the momma I am, I pipe in:
“Well, we’re called to imitate Jesus and he calls us to a life of purity.”   That man of mine replies, “Yes, but that doesn’t define who you are.”

He goes on to say, “Many times Christian girls get so tied up in being pure – they forget it (being intimate) is a beautiful thing when you’re married. Being with your husband is what brings him home each night. Think about it, men are workers, hunters, manly… what brings them home? The love of their wife. I’ve seen it all too often: the good girls, so focused on being perfect, are afraid of sex because it’s “dirty” or “sinning” once they’re married. THEN, they have marital problems. Be pure, yes. But don’t worship it or let it define you. Be defined by a child of God and when you’re striving for that- purity comes. Be honest with yourself and talk with mom and I about issues you may be struggling with. When you don’t open up and be honest, the enemy makes sexual things impure and that will affect you for life.”

The wife in me was super impressed and a little humbled. It’s true, mommas. Talking about purity with our girls is a must! But, sharing the beauty of intimacy with their husband is a topic we should also embrace. Scary, yes!

Oh, if only someone would have told me: one day, someone will love you. They’ll love only you and you will be theirs, only theirs. And he’ll love you like Christ loves the church…

When I was young we NEVER talked about the “three letter word” So, I always thought love and sex went hand and hand- hey, that’s what I saw in the movies!  If you “loved” a boy, you do “that”. I KNOW! So sad. The truth is, nobody ever told me anything different. So, this led to lots of bad decisions and my heart being in a million different places before it finally landed with my husband. However, it was broken in a million pieces, prone to bad choices, and filled with regret. I just wish someone would have said:

Love isn’t defined by sex. Let’s talk about purity.

Learning right there next to you,


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The truth about kids and chores.


I love chores.

No, no, no… i don’t think you heard me. I love them. It’s weird, As I type, it is 7:00 am and I have already made breakfast and lunch for my man, kissed his sweet face and sent him on his way. I’ve swept, mopped, done dishes, stirred lunch, done one load of laundry and taken out the trash.

It’s bad.

If you come to my home mid-afternoon {when and if} there is nothing to do… I’ll have created something to do. I will be cleaning baseboards, closets, raking leaves, mowing the grass, or maybe even starting a new paining project. It is something I have to surrender every.single.day,

being busy.

My kids? Hmmm, for some reason, they can find other things to do; sometimes that gets on my nerves. I mean come on, they make most of the mess, don’t they care?

I remember one day this past winter when we were doing chores around the house before school. I had just configured a new chore chart and it was going to be a history maker. This was going to solve all our chore problems. My kids were going to love doing simple chores and they were going to do them really well. I mean come on, we always have the music turned up loud during chores, we’re all happy here, right?

Well, this momma walked into the bathroom after my little Jordi was sent to clean it and it was not done well. Immediately, frustration took over me.

Look at this, she doesn’t even care.

Look how lazy.

Uh, she didn’t even look behind the door.

Now, before you start feeling all sad for her– honestly, she has swept the floor enough times to know you remove the trash can and sweep behind it and you get the yuckies from behind the door. BUT, on this day, the lesson wasn’t for her, it was for me.

The truth spoken to my heart that day was simply this,

Chores are not given to replace mommas job, but rather build character.

Oh man, I had to re-sweep the floor.

Now, there are days when my kiddos halfheartedly do their work and I have to kindly remind them to give their best, encouraging them they can do better. But for the most part, I usually need to manage my expectations. My goodness, the war of expectations.

Here is the way it works in our home. You probably have a better way, I am sure. I’m sure your children’s names are America, Liberty, Justice, and Peace. In fact, I bet they all say Yes, Ma’am every time you ask them to do something. Yup! I can imagine it now: they are probably only eight and ten and make dinner for your whole family while quoting whole books of the Bible. Actually, if that is you, could you please email me some advice?

For the other one percent of you who are like me and need a bit of encouragement from time to time on the matter,  here are my countless two cents =)

In the morning after breakfast, we do check lists. I have gone back and forth over the years with this method, trying to move past it. However, the truth is– it just works and it works well, for us.

Now, when my children were all young, the reward for finishing your list was just a kiss from mom. However, as they get older, I have added incentive in the form of a quarter. This works good for them because they all put their quarters into the family fun jar which helps us go on fun trips. We don’t have allowance in our home, if our kiddos need money, they ask for jobs but as far as a weekly payment for contributing to the family? We don’t go that route.

little hands checklist
bigger hands checklist

You will notice it says, today’s daily chore. This is based on the child’s individual abilities. I usually try to have these on the board in the morning. Otherwise the children are coming to me asking me what their daily chore is and I have to think of one real quick.

Some days, the chores are a bit harder and I have to get smart. =) For instance, the other day Jordan’s chore was to scrub some spots out of the carpet. For my oldest daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue. She is so type A, she wouldn’t have just cleaned that area, she would have continued throughout the whole house. (not a good thing, mind you–being type A like me =( poor girl) As for Jordan, she just likes to get the job done. So, with a job like this, we make it a game.

I say, “Go outside and knock at the door; we will pretend you are a carpet cleaner”

Anything imagination gets Jordan.

“Ok, Mom, my name is Mrs. Courtney.”

So she comes in the house and explains to me what she is going to do. She then asks, “Are these your children? Meaning Judah and and Emmyn. To which I reply, “Yes” She then tells me, “Well, they are welcome to help me if they would like.”

Of course they wanted to play the game.

Jordan getting Judah’s carpet cleaning belt all ready =)

I know what some of you are thinking, you want your children to enjoy doing chores without a game. You are worried if you make it a game they are not going to have a good worth ethic when they grow up, you fear they won’t ever take initiative. Well, here are our choices right now mommas:

Joy or Hatefulness

One choice is happy, makes it fun. The other yells and makes them work hard.

One child is more likely to love chores when they are older. The other hates them and does everything for their kids because their mom was always so mean.

Think of it this way, it’s a Mary Poppins approach.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap!  The job’s a game.” -Mary Poppins

Right now, little Judah gets a chocolate chip for each check on his list to keep him focused. The big girls have to write their beginning and end time on their list. Tomorrow, it will be something totally different to keep them going. But for the most part? We’re happily working together to get the job done.

Joyfully managing expectations right there beside you,


Because they’re all here now: who knows for how long


Something I wrote almost five years ago came back into memory today on this snowy, Monday afternoon. We’re making stories mommas… and we never know for how long.

from February 15, 2010:


We have great neighbors. Just yesterday while talking with friends at church the topic of neighbors came up and I have to admit, I love mine. Wouldn’t change them for a second. But you know what? We have a favorite. =) Ms. Renee and Mrs. Cotton.

Renee takes care of her mom, Mrs. Cotton. Cotton is in her 80’s and is as great as can be. Renee is a blessing to just be around. They are the first neighbors I’ve said: “Hey, I have to run to this place real fast can you watch two of my kiddos, I can’t fit them all into the truck.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s 9 o’clock at night, but can I borrow some coffee?”

Alli reads to Mrs. Cotton each week. In the spring and fall they sit outside in the nice weather, talking mostly, not doing much reading. In the hot summer and cold winter they read more, play puzzles and talk about the most interesting things.

Oh, I don’t know why I mention all of that; it really has nothing to do with what is really on my heart, just a sweet foreword, I suppose. =)

On occasion, this past fall Renee and I would jog from our houses down around the river and back. I remember one day while jogging and chatting she mentioned all of her children by name, one given Beth. I had never heard of Beth before. Puzzled, I asked… “Beth?”

“Oh, yes.” She replied. “She’s past away now.” 

I forget how long ago she had passed, but it was on December 10th; I remember that because it’s our Jordan’s birthday. She went on to tell me all of Beth’s problems from birth and how challenging it was. She ended by saying:

“She’s in a much better place now, her pain is gone.”

All of Renee’s children live close by. They are always over during the summer, swimming, eating Sunday dinner, sitting outside with Mrs. Cotton. That is why I was so surprised when I heard the name, Beth.

It makes you think. She’s not here now. She was then, but she is not now.

Life is different.

We make big deals out of such little things, don’t we? I think of my children and how I make such big deals out of the little things with them. I am just sure I was stressing about something three years ago, something that doesn’t even matter now. Something I can’t even remember.

A couple of weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend, leaving all four children at home with Dad, for the first time. When I returned home, only one hour later I was greeted with this:


Snowman Jordan

Snowman Alli

and Snowman Judah

And I am sure, knowing my Alli, if they had not been called in for lunch by their dad, there would have been a “Snowman Emmyn.”

There they are. Alli, Jordan and Judah. They’re all here now. It may or may not always be that way. One day, when I’m 60, jogging with my 26 year old neighbor she might say, “Alli? I have never heard of Alli?”

The list goes on and on.


They are here now, not guaranteed another moment. God is so good to bless us with such treasure. Straight from his hand, the Maker. They are his, given to us to teach, train and raise in righteousness.

It isn’t always easy, it’s easy to give up. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep going.

But what a wonderful treasure it will be to stand before our God and hear him say, “I saw each and everything you did. I saw when you didn’t give up. I saw when you prayed for them, taught them, held them, showed them patience, told them no when it wasn’t “fair”. I watched as everyone thought you were not doing things the right way, yet you followed my call. I saw each time you failed and started all over again.”

“You took good care of that which I let you borrow”

It is a good reminder, I may have a Beth someday. Most of the problems of today aren’t that big.

God is so good, to teach us such good things.

Loves today, friend.


When even your children seem to hate you and you just feel hopeless.


It was the 16th time that finally broke the window.

She picked up the shoe for the 16th time, mad at the world. She threw and it broke.

You would think the walls would have come down after that.

You thought wrong.

But what do you do when your child hates you? When she looks at you with hate because you’re not the mother of her birth? What do you do when you know she loves your husband more, her dad more.

Simply because: it’s not men she has issues with- it’s mothers.

Because it’s the mother who left. It’s the mother who made the bad decisions. It’s the mother who never stood up for her children. The fathers came and went- it was he mother that always let her down.

So, it doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how you love. You always remind her of

a mother.

And really, you just want to be a momma. You just want to hug ,and kiss, and cuddle away bad memories and hard times. You want to say time and time again- “You’re safe here now.”

But time and time again you’re left holding back screams. You’re left wanting to shout, “I AM THE ONE WHO IS HERE! I AM THE ONE WHO LOVES! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HURT ME?”

We all have windows don’t we?

Days that have been shattered into a million pieces by someones unkind, thoughtless words. The diet that failed once again. The man who didn’t call. The wife who never returned. The mother that let us down. The brother who broke the promise. The family member who broke all of the rules and harmed someone close to you. The mother in law who never forgives. The child who doesn’t seem to ever care- and the battle that.never.ends.

There are windows all around us.

We look into those windows and the reflection peering back to us changes every day.

Some days it says, “You are beautiful” Some days it says, “You are a piece of trash” Some days it says, “You are loved.” Other days it says, “Who could ever love you?”

And then, one day it happens. You just can’t take it any more.

You pick up the shoe and throw it through the glass- hoping for the enemies lies to stop.

And they still come.

Her lies are still there. The broken glass didn’t fix anything. The truth of her past is still as real today as it was yesterday. All the terrible things she yelled at me that day, she’s still yelling.

No. Broken glass doesn’t fix anything. And the same is true of us isn’t it? Broken friendships. Don’t fix anything. Broken promises. Don’t fix anything. Broken marriages. Don’t fix anything.

No. The only brokenness that fixes anything – is brokenness at the foot of the cross.

Dear one.

There are times when there are just no answers. There are no fixes. There are no explanations to why something happened. You are sad, Jesus is sad, and everyone involved is broken into a million pieces.

And the truth is, you.just.don’t.want.to.get.out.of.bed.

I only want to speak these words into your heart today- because He is speaking them into my very own heart.

He loves you. He is close. He is watching. He is proud. He is good. He is just. He is the only thing that will never break. He is the only glass that never shatters. He is able to take your brokenness and make it new. He is watching you.

He loves you and never stops seeing the full, new, beautiful you.

So when you look into that window and you see the ugly reflection peering back at you- remember. We all have a beauty inside of us that Jesus is working on. A beauty that calls out to the savior to make it new each day.

I am there. You are there. Your Christian neighbor is there. Your pastor is there. Your best friend who does everything right is there. The mother that always hurts you is there. The hurting daughter in my home. She’s there.

We are all there. Imperfect, just trying to get a glimpse of Jesus each day. Just a small touch of his robe. We’re all just trying to be made new- time.and.time.again. Breaking the glass won’t fix it. Yelling words we don’t mean won’t fix it. Giving up won’t fix it.

Giving in to Jesus is all that will make anything new.

“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,  for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22

Oh, friends. To long for just the touch of his robe. The newness that comes from the simple touch of Jesus.

Jesus is saying to each of us every day. “My child, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well! Not your actions, not your failures, not your successes. Not your method of parenting, or your tithe amount. Not your involvement in church. Nothing but your faith in me.”

Beautiful one: May you know your true beauty today. May you know he is fighting for your heart, for your soul, for the renewing of your mind.

When the 16th time comes. May you fall to your knees and surrender to only the touch of His robe. My you never give up. May you never look down. May you feel loved and cherished by the ONLY one who loves fully.


Broken, earthly, and nothing compared to Jesus~


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Living the book of James: final week. stupid, hard sin.


(picture taken from the day I didn’t exactly treat others so nice.—> ‘could my bad mom moment help you‘)

On to James:

Monday: Read James Ch 5 vs 1-19

Tuesday: Read James Ch 5 vs 1-19 again.

Let’s focus on the Warning of the Rich. vs. 1-5

“Listen, you rich men! Cry about the troubles that will come to you.  Your riches are worth nothing. Your fine clothes are full of moth holes. Your gold and silver have rusted. Their rust will speak against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have saved riches for yourselves for the last days. See! The men working in your fields are crying against you because you have kept back part of their pay. Their cries have been heard by the Lord Who hears His people. You have had everything while you lived on the earth and have enjoyed its fun. You have made your hearts fat and are ready to be killed as an animal is killed… ” James 5 1:5 NLT

ANYTIME my heart is turned towards the poor and oppressed, I always find myself in Matthew, listening to the words of Jesus:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”

Matthew 25: 31-46 NLT

I don’t know much, but I know the words of Jesus are pretty simple and to the point. I don’t think it’s about how much money we have, rather what we do with the money we do have and where we find our true security.

Today, lets focus on two things.

First: Who have we helped today?

Second: Where does our security come from?

Sometimes, we don’t have much, sometimes we do. How are we in both situations? I don’t know about you, but it sure is harder for me to surrender worry when the bank account is running low. =) Well if my joy, my security, my life is found in Him… why is that the case? *sigh* because we need Him so badly, that’s why.

Wednesday and Thursday: (it’s a lot to chew on)

Read James 5: 7-12
These verses are full of so many different things. I am going to touch on patience and trusting God. Of course, I am! Those are my biggest struggles.

James makes a reference to Job, whom I love. However, I am going to go from the standpoint of Esther for this one. You are probably familiar with Esther– a young lady taken from her home because the King up and decided he needed a new Queen. (are you seeing veggie tales right now? ha!) She and others were taken away from their lives, to the king’s harem to wait for their future. Taken to wait and see who would be chosen as the kings favorite.

“Let us search the empire to find beautiful young virgins for the king.  Let the king appoint agents in each province to bring these beautiful young women into the royal harem at the fortress of Susa. Hegai, the king’s eunuch in charge of the harem, will see that they are all given beauty treatments.Esther 2:2 NLT

Do you know how long those beauty treatments last? 12 months. Yes, ONE year. Esther was in a strange place, hiding her family heritage, awaiting the day she would be brought before the kings bed.

Once she was taken before King Xerxes, he loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He loved her more than he had ever loved another. After favor with the king, she went on to save the Jewish people–her heritage by going before the king. (You really should read Esther)

I wonder what situations we are in, friends, that require maybe a week or two maybe even a month of waiting. Situations that could change the course of our lives but we are to impatient to just wait and let God’s plan take it’s course. Esther waited 12 months before going to the king. She had no idea if he would like her. She hadn’t been promised anything from God. In fact, God is pretty absent from this whole story.

Esther was just like us, living in her current circumstance, dealing with it the best she could. (yes, read it again. nice and slow) But she dealt with it. And lives were changed.Same goes for Job. He had no idea what God was doing, what his plan was. We know, because as the reader you see all the “behind the scenes stuff”. But Job? He was just left to trust. Job suffered. Esther, I don’t think suffered much, matter of fact, she was favored. I wonder how different it would have been if she had turned her waiting into suffering. I know I do that quite a bit.

Oh, my. Patience. Trust.  It all comes back to trust doesn’t it?

Friday: Read James 5 16-20

I am going to keep this simple and to the point. James says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

I can only say it one way. We must confess our sins. It is a deep, dark place. The place which we hide sin. And this is what it does. It kills us. Our sinful nature will fool us into thinking those things are so bad we need to keep them to ourselves. This is a lie.

To share our sins, to confess them–Is to be set free. Is to have accountability. Is to have help. Is to change.

When we confess our sins to others, we confess it to ourselves. Then, we can see the reality of our mess and deal with it. Oh, the daily task of dealing with our messes.

I have been struggling a lot lately with the enemies lies. I think it has been more now than ever in my life. We have a house full of people at any given moment. There are lots of people pulling together to make The Café of Life happen. We have three additional people living with us right now. All of our dreams of what this would look like are happening. However, I have needed the sweetness of God’s word and promises more now than ever. Each day, the enemy has a new lie for me and each day I have to combat it. Sometimes, he takes it easy on me- other days it makes me cry.

I feel like a basket case.

“These people are surely getting sick of helping.”

“How can you really afford to have people stay with you?”

“Your children don’t get enough of your time.”

“You are incapable of all this.”

“They don’t like you.”

“You made them mad… again.”

“What if it all happens again?”

The list goes on and on.

This, friends, is the last week of our time together in James. I share my heart with you for the purpose of encouraging you to continue on daily in his word. Grasp it as though it were a lifeline. Because it is.

John Piper, one of my favorites, pretty much pins sin on the head:

“Am I wanting to look at Twitter before I look at Jesus? It sounds stupid. That’s how stupid sin is. – John Piper

Don’t let the stupid sin of doubt so easily entrap you friends. Confess your sins, your struggles, your joys daily and live fully in Jesus.

So thankful for both the struggle and grace.


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Living the book of James: Week Six. Of course! We all love being called adulterers.


You know, don’t you? You do realize and believe me when I say:

These words minister to my heart daily.

So, when someone tells me last week- “You should go back to the bible study you did over James and practice what you preach.”  (ha! no, it wasn’t my husband.)

If you think for one second I have it all together you must thing again. We all struggle through this life simply waiting to dance sweetly with Jesus. The beauty of this life is:

Deciding to dance today. While we wait, we rejoice! While we wait, we grow. While we wait, we struggle through what it means to truly be a disciple of the only one who is perfect.

Monday: Read James Chapter 4 vs 1-18

Tuesday: Read James Chapter 4 vs 1-18 again

Let’s focus on verses 1-3

You want something you do not have, so you kill. You want something but cannot get it, so you fight for it. You do not get things because you do not ask for them.  Or if you do ask, you do not receive because your reasons for asking are wrong. You want these things only to please yourselves.”

As we dig deeper into James, I struggle on how to “bring out the text” I mean, I don’t really know what to say outside of what James says. It’s pretty plain and simple, there.

I do know I think of this verse often, especially the You do not get things because you do not ask for them.   Often times, I struggle with asking for things. I think God doesn’t want to give those things to me because they are either “worthless”, “petty”, or maybe even “worldly”.

It’s true. I don’t necessarily know if God cares about a new TV I want or a better looking car. I’m not sure he cares If I can take a vacation, visit special places, or even have the fancy house I want. When I get into places of doubt like that– I examine the character of God.

He is my father.

His word says, he will give me the desires of my heart, yes. Although, are my desires good and pure desires? Or are they greedy and ill motive desires? Maybe it all comes back to the heart of the issue.

Take two of my girls for example, they are so very different. One would take a candy bar we gave her and be thankful. She would nibble on it here and there, save it well. She would hide it away and forget about it, really. Nobody would ever know she had it so she’d never have to share. She’d like it that way.  She wouldn’t gobble it all down at once, and she SURE wouldn’t ask for another one. She would be most thankful. However, the other daughter, she would eat it as quickly as she could and ask for another. She would never save it, it would drive her crazy having an uneaten portion of candy within her grasp–chances are, she will even ask for a soda to wash it down. BUT this daughter would share.

Remember James says, Or if you do ask, you do not receive because your reasons for asking are wrong. You want these things only to please yourselves.”

Perhaps its more about who we are, what we’ll do, and how our character matches up with the character of God that determines how God gives us good gifts? I wonder which one God would have chosen to give the candy to. My saver or my sharer.

Today: Examine yourself, your motives. Pray God would reveal his character to you, showing you who he is and how you can strive to be more of his character. Many times, I think I’m doing just fine and then God brings me back to 1 Samuel.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

Wednesday: Read chapter 4 again.

Let’s focus on vs. 4-10

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

Something I have been convicted of strongly lately. When was the last time I was broken. When was the last time I just broke down, humbled myself, quit trying to be so strong and fell at the feet of Jesus?  —what? He’ll lift me up in honor?

Oh, the sweet, sweet ways of Jesus.

Thursday: Read Chapter 4 again.

Let’s focus on vs. 11-12

“Christian brothers, do not talk against anyone or speak bad things about each other. If a person says bad things about his brother, he is speaking against him. And he will be speaking against God’s Law. If you say the Law is wrong, and do not obey it, you are saying you are better than the Law. Only God can say what is right or wrong. He made the Law. He can save or put to death. How can we say if our brother is right or wrong?

Ahhh, there goes nice ‘ol James again. Giving it to us straight. Remember week two: the gossip journal? Have a problem with another brother or sister in Christ? Take it to the brother or sister. Doesn’t fix it? Pour your heart out to God about it. Make it your focus until the issue is resolved. By focus I mean, don’t stop praying, seeking, and humbling yourself before the King before you have a resolution to the situation. Remember David and King Solomon. Sheesh!

Friday: Last day, read it again! Come on, you can do it!

“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans and all such boasting is evil.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

Can I just say? Five years ago my husband was in a full time youth ministry we lived a happy little life. We had a steady paycheck, did normal church things. Our home was always full of students and parents.  Behind the scenes we struggled daily with being so comfortable. Each day we prayed over and over again for God to stretch us. Wouldn’t you know? Within a year we were plucked up and moved to the town we prayed we’d never return to. Now, we are so blessed to live in that town and use our home as a non-profit café a place for community and outreach along with a clothing closet. People come here to volunteer. We have increased our home size to eleven having a new family move in just yesterday. We walk hard and joyful roads with friends. Friends who show us what Jesus looks like, daily.

Here’s the deal. You never know what tomorrow might bring friends, love big today.

 Challenged right there along side you.

For real.

Full Love,