How to Give God's Grace to Yourself {and Everyone Else, Too}

How to Give God's Grace to Yourself {and Everyone Else, Too}

Most of us are pretty familiar with John 10:10.... it's at the top of this page if you aren't so much :) But we often quote the second part of the verse without thinking too much on the first. The full verse says: 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (other versions say "to the full"). 

A psalmist describes the enemy as a lion on the prowl. And that, my friends, he is. And I'm beginning to think that the mark of the beast is a hashtag on one hand and a pinterest logo on the other. 

If you struggle with perfectionism (like I always have) then Face-Pin-Twit can add an extra-heavy dose of "not good enough" into your heart. Who we are as a wife, mother, friend, lover, homemaker, homeschooler all come into question, and there's room for improvement everywhere we look. 

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30 Days of Thanks-{GIVING}

30 Days of Thanks-{GIVING}

November is traditionally the month that we give thanks... it's become quite the trend on Facebook to post one thing each day that you're thankful for all through November. I think this is a fun way to reflect on all of our blessings as we approach the holiday season. However, the Lord has recently placed something on my heart that I would like to begin as a tradition (and CHALLENGE!) for my family. It's a tradition/challenge that I'd like to share and would feel humbled and blessed if you would join us in it :-)

This year, rather than take 30 seconds and think of a thing I can SAY thanks for each day, I'd like to take time {real time} to reflect on a way to GIVE THANKS. The Lord GAVE His only begotten son so that we may have everlasting life... as we walk through November, we approach the month of His sacred giving.

I want to spend my November in anticipation of the anniversary of His gift to US, by GIVING all that I can, in Thanks.

Here's the plan...

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Perfect Peace- Who wants some of that?

Perfect Peace- Who wants some of that?

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. Trust [confidently] in the Lord forever [He is your fortress, your shield, your banner], For the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]." -Isaiah 26:3-4

Sometimes hard times happen. They come when we least expect it, under the fold of joyful times. Times when everything seems just perfect, the enemy jumps at the opportunity to steal and destroy (that's kind of his thing).

He takes joy in taking moments of joy and attempting to turn them to ruin. And so we struggle.

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3 Not-So-Secret Keys to a Joy-Filled Life

3 Not-So-Secret Keys to a Joy-Filled Life

I have finally realized that I cannot bark, punish, or fight my children into obedience... because fear-based obedience is temporary and empty. I've had an "awakening" that the only way into a trusting relationship in which they seek to be obedient to my will (and one day God's) is simply through LOVING them well.

But HOW? And what does that even look like? Aside from the obvious hugs, kisses, encouraging words, and late night chats (that we all do anyway). I mean, it sounds great on paper... but what do I DO when they argue, fight, talk back, or don't obey?

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Finding God's Presence in Living Given

Finding God's Presence in Living Given

IF we should give or HOW MUCH we should give or HOW OFTEN we should give isn't what God is echoing in my heart right now, but instead WHY we should give. And even moreso- WHAT should we give? 

What is revealed about God in this call on us to pass forward what's been given to us? Is there a hidden secret that: the giving away of much is where we find the proof that is grace is hidden in the not enough? That when we live our lives given, we find God's presence even thicker and more palpable? Is it that His grace is found in the minuscule pieces that are left when we've given it all away?

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10 Steps: How to Die to This Life

Then he said to them all:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow meFor whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save itWhat good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very selfWhoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:23-26

With a new year here, and fresh beginnings in the air, I've spent a good time in prayer asking the Lord for a plan for this New Year. A direction and path... a purpose. I've been wracked with the notion that my life is truly my own.  Not to say that I don't have loved ones who deeply impact my schedule and preferences, but the truth of the matter is that: in the end, I'm living for me. I'm also living for my husband, and my children... but I'm LIVING for me.

Yes, I serve in my home, my community and much church. But that's not my point, truthfully. What I'm saying is that I'm still doing it all for me.

Deep down inside, no matter how much I preach to myself, I still have ulterior motives and selfish motivations. Pride, self-glorification, checking boxes off a list... 

And if we are all really honest, I think we can all admit to not always being motivated by Christian love when we serve. Oftentimes, the motivation comes from external praise rather than Holy Spirit promptings. 

So, I ask myself: Am I doing enough? Am I living sacrificially (and not for external praise but because the Holy Spirit prompts me so urgently that I can't turn away)? And I'm shaken to the depth of my core with the notion, with the gut-wrenching knowing, that I'm NOT.

See, I've been wrecked lately by the thought of this Esther Generation. This generation of women who are seeking after Christ with reckless abandon. Who are willing to live sacrificially and always seeking to do more because they just can't shake the feeling that there's always more healing to bring, love to share and wounds to bind. 

We want to be, do, BLEED Godliness.

We also have a heart for "the least of these"... as we should. As we are called to. This Esther Generation is called such because we live a life of luxury... and I don't mean those with a six-figure income. I mean, if you're reading this right now, you are among the most affluent in the world. WE are in the palace. We are behind the walls, peering over from a safe distance- saying "look at those people. They need help!!! Babies are murdered and starve to death, girls are kidnapped and sex-trafficked, women dig through dumps to feed their children, children's throats are slit while they sleep."

We can SEE them, FEEL them, from atop this fortress. And we fervently believe we have been put HERE for such a time as this. A time when a fervor of passionate, God-fearing, God-seeking, God-bleeding women and men come together behind the gates and say- "This can't be it! We can't just sit here and pretend like that's not there! What would Jesus do for Pete's sake!"

He walked among and loved on and healed the lepers. We all KNOW what He would do. He'd pick up that cross and He would tote it. He would lose HIS LIFE to save just one. We are called to pick up our cross and follow Him- to do as He did. We are called to lose our lives.

And with this fever pitch of New Year's resolutions, and seeking for simplicity-- and a burning urge to tear down the palace walls- this is such a time.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. {Luke 12:48}

But what does it look like? What does this Esther Generation have to do on a daily basis? How do you lay down a life?

How do you DIE to this world and it's stuff and big houses and the next vacation?

How do you let it all go and balance it all? How do you serve your family and help to save the broken and helpless and orphaned and sick?

One day at a time. One moment at a time. One life at a time. If you're like me, you feel a pressing urgency. You want to do something BIG RIGHT NOW. You want to fix it, bring all the babies home with you and give everyone in the world some Jesus- then it will all be alright.

But we can't. We can't fix "it" because "it" is a broken-down, sinful, shameful, selfish, evil world.

But it's broken and evil and sinful in such a way that it CAN all glorify Him.

You see that's the purpose {of life} and the burning need- to glorify Him.

One day at a time, one moment at a time, one life at a time.

If it was all rainbows and skittles and unicorns, who would need a god? But our world is not that.

It desperately needs a God... a living, redeeming, saving, grace-filled, merciful God that would lay down and die for you. And in order to follow Him, we have to lay down and die.

One day, one moment and one life at a time.

We have to give up, get out and bleed grace.

We have to overflow out of this palace into the world- with our time, our words, our money, our passion. One day, one moment, one life at a time.

We've been put here for such a time as this. A time when there couldn't be a greater chasm between how rich we are and how rich they aren't. And the thing about it is, we no longer have to get on a ship and become lifelong missionaries in order to touch people thousands of miles away. We have the Internet, airplanes, mail... we have riches, we have education, and we have technology in our palace.

God has created a burning desire in our souls to reach out and touch His children in this world, and He's given us every tool imaginable to do it.

So when it comes down to it- how do we die to this life? We must DENY ourselves. We must take up our cross and follow Him. We must deny ourselves conveniences, or plenty of sleep or new shoes. We must take up our cross- which for us means do the really hard stuff, risk persecution and judgement and loss of life {this life}... and Follow Him.

Do what He did. Act like He did. Love like He did. That's the recipe- the recipe for the Esther Generation to follow.


So what can this look like for me? For you? How can we "prosper" in this? Proverbs 11:25 says The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

So how can we be the generation that swings this around? That denies this life and digs deeper? Who doesn't buy into the more-is-better mentality... and decides that a child eating is more important than a new pair of shoes?



. A whole lot of it. In all times, in all situations, prayer.


God's word

. Daily. Pouring and praying it deep into your soul- passionately pleading with Him to CHANGE YOU.


Give it up

. Start small- the Starbucks. The weekly dinner out after church. The new purse each season. #preachingtomyself


Look for opportunities

to give in a way that rebukes the enemy's attempts on your life. A/C tear up? Send money to provide for a coat for a child in Ukraine. We had a round with lice lately- so we sent funds to provide for the treatment of parasites for 25 children in impoverished nations. Let him know that every time he comes attempting to confuse or distract you, that you'll do good to spite him.


Sponsor a child



Amazima is an organization founded by Katie Davis

She is a phenomenal inspiration (and

her book

is an absolute must read)- following the Lord's call on her life to move to Uganda and adopt 12? daughters... at the age of 18.



Seven by Jen Hatmaker

and be inspired about how to do more for less, so that others can have more.


Let go of the fear of being radical whatever the Holy Spirit urges you to do- at all times and in all circumstances. Don't question, don't doubt, just obey.


Adopt a child

. Or, help fund someone else's adoption. There's Jesus-freaks everywhere, traveling the world, bringing babies home. They need your prayers and your money.


Be healthy

. Take care of yourself. Eat well. You can NOT be the body of Christ, the hands and feet of our Lord, if you are sick, tired, grumpy and unwell.

10. Take it one day at a time- one moment at a time- so that you can help one life at a time.

Blessings sweet friends! xoxo

Peace on Earth {tidings of comfort & joy}

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” -Luke 2:6-14

An army of angels appeared. An army... legions if you can quantify that. They appeared. On Earth. They appeared and they spoke- and they said Peace. On. Earth. They came, and they praised, and they delivered the Good News, and they pronounced a messsage from the One whom sent them- Peace on Earth. Now, there's Peace on Earth.

Peace has arrived... for Everyone.

Peace on Earth in the form on a baby, wrapped in wrags, in the stench of manure... born to a girl who'd never known a man. Peace on earth showed up in the pit- outcast with no room for Him anywhere. But He still came.

The angel army came not to annouce that one day they would HAVE peace... that one day, at the END of the toil, they'd have peace. You see, that's true. One day, since that baby came to be nailed to a tree, it's true- at the end, they'd have Peace.

But what the angels said is Peace on Earth. Not later... not when the kids go to bed, not when the next paycheck comes in, not when your wife starts cooking dinner every night like she should, not when your husband looks at you again like he used to, not when the cancer is gone, not when you get the promotion... not later. Now, back then. Every day since... Peace came to earth.

He came down in a barn and was broken down upon a tree and washed the earth clean. From THAT moment, Peace was upon the earth.

They brough Good News- news that would bring joy to ALL People.

Peace came to earth... He washed us clean, and He is still here.

In all the moments, in all the stench of loss and fear and worry and insanity... Peace.

So have Peace, sweet friend. Not later on down the road after the _________.

But now, bathe yourself in His Peace, because YOU are why He came down.

And read this book too please. We are so close to His coming... Mary is so heavy with child, but there's still time, because it doesn't end Dec 25th.

So Far: 30 Days of Thanks-{Giving}... Join Me?

So Far: 30 Days of Thanks-{Giving}... Join Me?

I am so blessed and so excited at the outpouring of love, support and goodwill that has already taken place in these first few days of our 30 Days of Thanksgiving

As a recap- rather than focusing on saying what we appreciate each day (which is completely valid and totally underrated in itself), we are focusing on GIVING in Thanks. God is a pretty great GIVER- He GAVE his only begotten son to save us from ourselves. I, personally, really appreciate that.

He also calls us to give attention to our lives, to HIM, to what He is doing in us, through us and all around us every.single.second of

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Is Death Punishment? {In Memory of Lost Loved Ones}

***Bumping up to refresh my soul... because this is always a hard time of year.

As a Christian I would be duty-bound and somewhat convicted to answer with a resounding NO! Death is when we are called home to our Lord and Savior, where we get to bow at the feet of Almighty God, and were there is no sin, pain or sickness. Death is a rescue from the stench of this earth. We are only in our temporary home... and as my dear Kali put it-- when we are on Earth it's like we are on vacation and we will get to go back to our Real Home soon. Based on what I know of Heaven, this is a cruddy vacation, but her sentiment is precious ;-)

As I was driving home from my weekly Wednesday night bible study class (which absolutely ROOCKSSS even though I have a hard time shutting up and totally overshare) I was driving down the road praising the Lord with every cell in my body. I was singing at the top of my lungs to a song on the radio, with hand lifted to the sky. And, as I typically do, I had a wave of anxiety hit me for just a second... "What if I wrecked and died RIGHT NOW? What if the last time I saw my husband and children today was the LAST TIME? What if they get hurt or sick or have an accident when I am up here and they are down there? What if I died and my family lost another one of us? How could they bear it?" Then the next thought was exorbitantly silly in multiple ways. A) That I thought it. B) That it comforted me. I thought... "I can't die RIGHT NOW! I'm praising and singing to God. I wouldn't die right now while I'm worshiping him..."

Ok, the flaws in my logic are as follows:

1) I am assuming that God would *kill me* which is why I think that if I'm worshipping Him, he won't. I mean, who would kill someone who is praising them?

2) I am assuming that death is a punishment so if I pray for safety and well being and worship hard enough, then I (or my family) won't die... today anyway.

3) That my worship of Him would change the plan He has laid out for my life.

Tonight, I'm really wanting to tackle point #2 because I think it is the BIG LIE. Death is a punishment. I think we all like to think that it's not because we know, in theory, Heaven is way better and sounds like a cool place to be. However, we, in practice, fear death and see it as a punishment... a "taking away of life."

  • Death is a punishment because it takes those from us that we love and we want them HERE with US, everyday, forever.
  • Death is a punishment because it's unfair... so many who are horrible people live to a ripe old age while the young and just die.
  • Death is a punishment because we don't understand it. Even those with a significant faith life cannot fathom Heaven so we have a hard time *looking forward* to something that is a complete unknown.
  • Death is a punishment because so frequently it is not fast and painless, but long and painful and drains the life of all those around the afflicted.

So, how do we "practice" that we believe death is a punishment?

We go to significant lengths to keep ourselves and our families safe... safe from DEATH: Seatbelts, car seats, home alarms, guns, self-defense classes, prayer for safe travels, helmets, FDA, USDA, Homeland Security, etc etc etc  Like 90% of our lives are built around protection from the bad, from the end, from Death (and I totally made that percentage up).

Now, first we can assume that God has endowed us with a certain instinct to preserve our lives at all cost and to a much greater length, the lives of our children. There's no wonder that we invest so much in self-preservation. It's an in-dwelt instinct as old as time, to protect or lives and and the lives of our children. We are seen as deeply mentally ill if we are willing or desiring to end our lives sooner rather than later (which I don't obviously argue with). I mean, a guy sawed his own arm off to get out of a cleft in some rocks and drug himself lifeless miles for help. That's a STRONG instinct.

However, we also have to stop and think about this (as Christians)... IF we believe that this is our temporary home, then how faithful are we that we fight leaving it so hard? And we grieve with no end in sight for those that we've lost? And I don't mean stop wearing your seatbelt and take up sky-diving. I have no death wish.

What I'm speaking of is the life-altering consequences of the death of a loved one? Especially a *premature* one. As long as we view death as a punishment, as a taking away of life (especially before someone "should've" died), we cannot ever have peace. Ever. Until we, ourselves, are dead.

I personally have had significant loss in my life. I've lost a parent, a grand-parent who was very much like a parent, class mates and friends, as well a my cousin. My cousin was the deepest and closest to my heart because A) I loved him like a brother. We were raised as brother and sister... he, my sister and our other cousin. And B) The circumstances surrounding his death were sudden, earth-shattering and to our human understanding, completely senseless.

Time and time again, we (and I mean my entire family) have retraced the steps and events of that Halloween day 7 years ago. We have seen the images, re-visited those words we could never unhear, cried the hot and angry tears, and asked time and time again, "LORD, WHY!?!" Every day for 7 years we have all remembered him and wept and asked WHY? We have thought about special memories fondly then wept with the sadness that we will not be able to create more. Every year, when October comes around, a deep sadness sinks into all of our bones with dread of the memory of it all.. of the day. The saddest day of all.

We ask WHY because we do not understand, cannot understand His will. On paper, we know it's all for His good and His purposes and His plan, but we can't see HOW it was good or purposefull. Couldn't there have been another way? He was 26 and a GOOD MAN! He was hard-working, loving, a devoted son, and a good friend. He didn't DESERVE to die. His family didn't DESERVE this heart ache and pain. His friends didn't DESERVE to lose him. His death has impacted countless people and his memory is thoroughly intact and I am quite confident always will be, as long as we all draw breath.

The problem for me, and for many of us no matter who it is that we have lost, is that I view his leaving us as a punishment. I view the taking away of his life as a LOSS for us and for him. It is not. It is only gain. He gained ETERNAL LIFE. Right now, at this moment, he is in perfect rest with his father. He sees all, knows all, and feels no sin/pain/anger/hurt/torment. He can't even feel our pain that we experience fresh everyday for losing him. He is in the angel armies paving a path for those he loved while he was flesh and blood. He has met Jesus and been comforted and loved by him. He is in Heaven. Literally heaven. His death was shocking and horrific and untimely in our eyes, but in the eyes of His maker, it was perfect. He was coming home to see his true father, once and for all. For you see, God had already given HIS ONLY SON for us. He understands what it means to see your only son taken from you. Jody was our only son, but he was one of many to God and now he is seated at His right hand in righteousness.

Death seems like a punishment to those left behind because we find it so hard to truly believe without doubting. If we could truly imagine Heaven and see it for a second, we'd probably be ok with our family members being there. But death, like all other discomforts of life, is a way to forge us for His purposes. If our loved ones never died, how ready would we be to go Home? If we never had to sense loss or devastation, would be we ok with staying here in this flesh? As days tick by and all our bodies slowly progress toward death, our father is drawing us nearer. We are all dying. Every minute of every day. He just chooses to bring home some sooner than others. NOT because it's He's taking away their life, not because He wants us to live in pain and misery for the rest of our time in these bodies, but because He loves us each immensely.

He knit us together in our mother's womb and numbered the hairs on our heads. He made us in His image and loved us with pure mercy and grace... a perfect love. He wants us to fulfill the job He has for us here and come home. If even it hurts the ones we leave behind, He wants to reward us for a job well-done and bring us home to Him... our TRUE reward. We prize earthly rewards so highly then try to escape our eternal reward out of fear and disbelief. We do not know what God's purpose was for bringing Jody into this world OR for taking him home so early (too early in our eyes), but God knows and His plan was fulfilled to perfection through Jody (and all whom we lose). How blessed is that?

Jody did his work. His toil is over. It was so much shorter than any of us would've liked. The same goes for Daddy, Grandma, Tracy, David, Cory... so many I've known and lost. Their toil is over, they are HOME. For eternity. For forever and forever and forever, they are home in the lap of the one who created them from a whisper. They are home and so blessed. And blessed are we to have gotten to live with them, love with them, and walk through this journey with them. They are not gone because He doesn't love them or because He doesn't love us. They are gone because He loves us all so much.

That's sooo hard to process and it's taken me 7 long years of why's and angry fists and buckets of tears and gut-wrenching sobs to finally get it. He is home and one day I will be to. Maybe tonight in my sleep or 50 years from now, but we will all be united together in worship of a loving and gracious God. We will all know the company that Jody is currently keeping. I hope the Lord doesn't allow the spiritual Alzheimer's that I so frequently suffer to take this deep gut-knowing from me. I pray that this great hope that we all have for life eternal never leaves my bones but allows me to say good-bye with greater grace and thanksgiving than I ever imagined before.

To my family, you are my world. It seemed our world cracked opened and swallowed us all alive. But He is there, holding us still... and Jody is smiling down.

How I will ALWAYS remember us all.
 Exodus 33:22-23 tells us "When my glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand, until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen"

When we feel the earth quake beneath our feet and see only darkness around us, His Glory is passing by and he has tucked us away in protection. When we come out from the darkness, we will know that He was close enough to touch and it was His Glory shaking us to our core. ONLY in his closest presence are we sheltered by His hand.