Monday, March 31, 2014

Faith-Filled or Faith-Less?

A recurring theme in life lately is teaching me that I have a problem.  I'm absolutely certain I'm not the only one.  It seems so rampant that we are finding it in nearly every book we are reading right now or recently completed (especially The Well and The Circle Maker...both highly, highly recommended!).  It seems like it's showing up everywhere we look. Perhaps it's because we need to get the message in our hearts. 

It's called the panic button.
It's called wanting the easy button. 
It's called going to the wells of our comfort instead of trusting in the Holy Spirit.

When something goes wrong or a decision needs to be made (or a million at once it seems!), it's so easy to just go to our own strength.  Immediately act in a knee jerk reaction that causes us to take the easy way.  Or to "force" things to work instead of patiently waiting for His response. Especially for those of us that are "fixers" by nature.  Or impatient. Or that thrive on being in control.  (Surely, I didn't describe myself in one or more...or all...of those descriptions!).

We tend to act FIRST in our strength. We tend to go to Him LAST----when we feel like there is no other option.  Or maybe I'm the only one willing to admit that!

We claim to walk in faith.  Yet, we tend to FIRST try things our way.

You know what?

For me, that's a recipe for disaster. I tend to make my own messes worse.  OR the problem does seem to work out, but in hind-sight I find that there would have been an easier answer had I just given God a chance to work it out through me, instead of through my own flawed power.  OR I lose an opportunity to have seen God at work, growing my faith or being a witness to someone else how to walk in faith.  OR I don't want to go through His way because His timing isn't necessarily the same or His path *seems* harder.  I desire instant satisfaction of the problem being fixed. We are driven in a society that has come to need and rely on the instant.  The easy button.  The now button.

God has been revealing to my heart that sometimes we need to be in the moments of uncertainty.  We need to be in the places that our dreams seem suddenly out of reach. We need to be in the middle of the storms. 

I don't like it.  I REALLY don't like it.


It's necessary. 

Something I read last week has caused me to come back multiple times to read it again.  It's from a book by Wendy Blight that is going to be part of a Bible Study with Proverbs 31 Ministries beginning next week. 

She says:

Life is messy, and God knows that. One of the reasons He gave us the Bible is to equip us to live out our faith in the midst of our messy lives. Each new day can bring with it a myriad of issues and problems. And each one requires us to make a choice. We can choose to make "faith-FILLED" choices, or we can choose to make "faith-LESS" choices.  The faith-less choices tend to come easier for most of us.  They occur when we react quickly out of our emotions and basically "do what comes naturally". And more often than not, those choices have negative consequences that hurt not only us but also everyone with whom we come in contact.

Faith-filled choices are harder to make.  They occur when we react not out of our emotions but out of a Spirit-led heart and mind. And faith-filled choices have good consequences that bless not only us but also those around us.

Ouch!  Point taken.

I'm finding myself asking much more often, is this decision a faith-filled one (where I've sought God first and TRUSTING Him) or am I acting purely out of my own emotions and in my power and making faith-less ones?

Unfortunately, I don't like the answer I'd have to give much too often. 

Another question that keeps popping up that I'm asking myself (which will make another blog post for another day)--- is that a good intention or a God intention?  There is a difference.

Learning to surrender more fully to Him definitely causes you to start looking at intentions, how you make decisions, and where our faith TRULY lies (in Him or in ourselves!).  Unfortunately we don't necessarily like what we see when we CLOSELY look in the mirror. Fortunately, His grace is never ending and His power is made the strongest in our weaknesses. He didn't give us the easy button...but He did sacrificially  give us Himself!! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Hard Prayers

Life continues to be...well...messy.  Unpredictable.  Not exactly as *I* planned or working on *my* timetable.  Just basically best described as a rollercoaster.  Not specifically any major catastrophe, just lots of things going on at once (just like many of us are facing), it gets hard to balance. 

Though some days it somewhat feels like life is falling apart, in TRUE reality (God's reality) is actually falling into place. 

His place.
His order.
His timing.

It's a shaping process. A molding and chiseling.  Sometimes that shaping is easy and sometimes it's painful.  When we submit our lives to Him and specifically ask Him to shape us and put our feet on His path, we may quickly find that He answers that prayer....and it's not a comfortable one.  My heart has been encouraged to begin praying those hard prayers.  The ones that may require me to change.  To let go of things.  To surrender in areas.  To allow our dreams to be shaped into His.  Ones that reveal our own character flaws and our weaknesses.  Ones that end up revealing our failures.  Prayers that reveal where we wrongly place our faith. 

Yet those are the places we HAVE to be to grow in Him. We've all heard the caution:  "Be careful what you wish for!".  For so long, I've carried that over into my prayer life.  "Be careful what you pray for."

No longer.
No more.

I am praying those hard prayers. 

Lord change me.
Lord YOUR will.
Lord YOUR timing.
Lord YOUR direction.
Lord, reveal to me my hidden sin. 
Lord, show me my weaknesses so that YOUR strength can be made known.
Lord, less of me and more of you. 
Lord, teach me to trust YOU.

And He answers.


it's so not an easy road.


It's through these seasons that true growth happens.

Just going to have to put on my seatbelt and hold on tight to see where the journey with Him leads.  No better place to be.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Right Thing

This photo has been floating around Facebook this week and the moment I saw it, it spoke volumes.

Sometimes we go through situations with people that just leave us, well...

Carrying scars.

OH how in our flesh we want to just hurt them back.  Inflict even just a small portion of the pain back to them that they've caused. ( I'm just being honest. Maybe too honest---but I believe in telling the real truth without masks.)

Yet, that is not what Christ calls us to do.  He calls us to LOVE and to forgive. So many times that is HARD.  Impossible without His love flowing through us.

Recently I felt this to the very core of my being. I did the right thing in regards to a broken relationship.  It was also the HARD thing. Many times doing something "right" is far from easy.  It can actually be excruciating and even cause great fear.  No matter what the "emotions" are, the right thing is still right.  God doesn't say His way is the easy way, but He does promise help to do it. 

I did the right thing and it felt like it backfired.  My heart was broken even more.  Old wounds became raw again and the healing that had felt like had been taken place over the last several years just seemed to be thrown out the door.  Satan was able to take that little door of doubt in my heart, was able to twist the truth, and dig the wounds deeper.


I told him to stop. I recognized what was happening in my own heart and refused to let it continue.  I put that pain back under the blood of Christ and gave it BACK to Him.  Letting it go.  Releasing the forgiveness.  Allowed Him to speak the truth back into my heart through His word and through others. I put into practice some skills I had been learning about replacing lies with truth by speaking specific verses. 

It worked. It didn't immediately erase the hurt or change the fact that I wish certain situations were different. BUT....

The anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness melted away.

I was reminded that the right thing sometimes may end up feeling like the wrong thing because it hurts. Because it's not what our flesh wants.  Because it may not be the normal way the world handle things.

But right is still right.
Right is always right.

Doing the right thing is what matters most. We need to never doubt that.  Even when the circumstances around us make it feel like doing the right thing isn't worth it. 

God redeems.  God heals.  God provides.  God is just. God is full of mercy. 

God also leans down and picks us up when we are wounded and battered.  He wraps us up and holds us in the palm of His hands.  Just like when a little one falls, they go running to mom for a kiss or a Band-Aid that magically heals on contact (or at least my kids thought they did---especially ones in their favorite characters!).

Keep on doing the right thing.  Even when the right thing isn't the easiest thing.  Even when it feels like it did no good and even when it feels like your heart ends up wounded.

God sees it. 

He knows.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


If I had to choose one theme that has been running through my head/heart from Hearts at Home and Teach Them Diligently (and just life itself!), it would be relationship. 

It's ALL about relationship.

I can't be the best wife, mother, teacher, or ME if I don't first work on ME.  My relationship with Him above all else.  I HAVE to be in His word for myself.  NOT just devotionals.  NOT just through music.  NOT just through great books.  Those are a part of being in touch and growing in Him and are fantastic TOOLS, but they are NOT the most essential.  I HAVE to be directly in HIS word and in prayer FIRST. I'll never forget a speaker a previous year describing the Bible as a love letter to each of us.  We most definitely wouldn't want to hand over a love letter from our beloved to be read to us by someone else first.  I absolutely would want to read that first hand! We in effect do the same thing when we use our quiet times as only spending time reading what OTHERS have learned from the Bible.  I am an AVID reader and an introvert and I find it vital to have myself surrounded by countless books, blogs, and writings/videos from great Christian speakers/writers.  However, if I'm NOT in HIS word, for myself, first hand....I greatly limit my growth in knowing Him.  His word is alive and active.  To hear from Him, I have to be communicating with Him.  Not having His letter read to me! When life is busy and overwhelming (let's face it---daily!!!) and I'm tempted to let actual BIBLE reading for myself slip down the list, I do picture holding a letter from Kevin and before opening it handing it to someone else to read to me.  That just doesn't hold the same value!

I also have to take care of myself---physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I go through seasons of doing that fairly well and others of letting myself fall to the bottom of the list.  I've spent the last several months at the bottom, but fortunately some wake up calls have been a catalyst to make changes and I'm bringing myself up that list! Sometimes it's saying a yes to myself and sometimes it's saying a no to other things.  Even great things can be wrong if not balanced! (Yesterday began a new chapter as our schedules have drastically changed with how often I have" littles" and other WAS painful and IS painful to let things go...but the big picture is what matters most!).

It's about relationship with those that we love the most and need us the most.  I learned valuable skills in teaching my kids at the conferences, and I can see some of those skills making positive changes for each of their different needs...


It's really about the RELATIONSHIP.

Knowing them.  Loving them. Putting heart above all else.  Bringing them to a place that lets them see Christ in everyday life.  He will do the changes.  His Spirit will do the leading.  It's up to me to just make our home a place that invites Him into EVERYTHING.  Lots of confirmation through the last weeks that show we are on the right track with many things and confirmation of areas that we've fallen completely off and derailed.  It's about being a student of our child.  It's about breaking down walls (especially OUR OWN) and getting in deep.  It's about undivided attention.  TRULY being present.  Shutting down all distractions (especially those pesky handheld media devices!) and letting go of the to-do lists, should and shouldn't lists! JUST being present in THEIR world on THEIR level! If we want them to listen to us later, we have to make sure we are listening to them NOW! It all comes down to heart. Connecting.  Growing together.  Failing together and starting again.  LAUGHING together.

The same with our spouses.

I also spent lot of time thinking about relationships and their values. 

The kids were able to spend some quality time with us, completely away from the stress of life.  (Yes, it did take a day to let it go and to physically see the weight lift!). Kevin and I were able to spend several days together with the ability to have uninterrupted DEEP conversation that seems to be limited at home (ha!---can't imagine why!). The kids spent several days with my stepmom on the farm.  Yes, it's STILL hard when we arrive and Daddy/Grandpa isn't there---and I don't know if that will ever be a pain that gets easier---but they had a BLAST making memories. Bradlee was only 4 months when we moved, so EVERY experience back "home" is like a first for him and seeing it through his eyes is JOY! That time with her was truly a priceless gift.  Just so much was packed into those few days for them! (Seriously---what boy wouldn't love riding through the cow pastures on Mema's camo golf cart!)Those days are incredibly important to us since we live completely away from family.  We didn't get to see very many other family members or friends due to timing (especially with Spring Break travel) and with us spending only two nights at "home".  (It also continues to remind me how much we miss others that we didn't get to see on this trip or others that live even greater distances away!)

For me, I also had the incredible gift of getting to see a VERY dear mentor in my life for the first time in WAY too many years.  It was only a few minutes, but it did so much for my heart. Just a treasure. Words cannot express how much those minutes meant...just to see and hear this precious lady in person. It also thrilled me to unexpectedly see another local family at the TTD conference that is about to start their home education journey.  NEVER imagined we'd run into a familiar face.  It also reminded me of the NEED to support others along this journey (whether it's home education, during times of spiritual needs, or just a season of life...we ALL have people that we can join with to support!).We all have something to offer others and we all have need to be supported by others and learning for them.  Relationship.

This week also cemented some other needs in relationships.  Maintaining or setting new boundaries depending on the situation. Letting go.  Learning to say NO more and continuing to say no in others. Letting comparisons go.  Letting harmful relationships go.  Continuing to forgive, heal, and move on in areas. Some relationships are messy and hurtful.  As much as you wish they weren't, they are.  Learning to be who we are as God designed us and not wearing the hats others wrongly put on us. Walking confidently in our shoes, on our path....not necessarily the path others have made or wish for us to walk.


With Him.

With ourselves.  Healthy ones that create the best opportunity to be the best we can be, to be a vessel that can be used the greatest by Him.

With our spouses.  Fully devoted. Together on the same page.

With our children.  Undivided attention.

With others.  Supporting.  Embracing.  Letting go when necessary.

Growing together.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Power Prayer

One thing is for certain....

When you are going through multiple stressful situations and then go to major events like Hearts at Home (Christian motherhood) and Teach Them Diligently (Christian home education/holy-spirit led families) with your heart open...

You will come home overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with...
His goodness.
Messages that have flooded your heart.
Laughter and joy.
And countless things you want to change, go deeper with, or let go.

Just overwhelmed.

I'm definitely finding myself there.

Wrapped in His goodness. Trying to absorb all I learned and all of the messages that are sinking in my heart.

I feel off-balance.  In a good way (knowing that He's realigning places in my heart to line up with His). In a not so good way----just too much to absorb at once. 

But I know...

Without a doubt.

He's taking us to a GREAT place through the storms of life lately and we just have to hold on and stay faithful. 

Though I have countless things I'd love to share...

For now, I'm sticking with this.

It's a powerful prayer I read during some quiet time alone at the TTD conference in preparation for a Bible Study I'm excited to participate in next month.  The words just jumped OFF THE PAGE and I had to write it down and I now carry it in my pocket to pray over multiple times. 

I believe it's going to be a power prayer in my life and even an uncomfortable one. A very uncomfortable one...but one that brings me closer to Him.


I come boldly before YOUR throne, asking to be filled with the full, deep, and clear knowledge of YOUR will for me in this season of my life.

Speak truth into my life...even hard truth.  Your word calls me to action.  You call me to a life that will make a difference for You and Your kingdom. Open my eyes to see that life. Give me a heart that desires that life above all else.

If I am not living in a way that pleases you or loving others in a way that honors You or studying Your word in a way that changes me, convict my heart by speaking truth in love. Make my heart tender to receive Your rebuke and discipline.  You have drawn me here and I want to receive ALL you have for me.

Bring Your living and active Word alive in my heart. Invade every part of my being. Transform me from the inside out.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Heart of Stephen

Satan's daggers are flying.  He's pulling out all of the stops that for sure.  He's hitting from every direction, but I'm firing back.  I'm refusing to give him an inch. 

This morning I RAN to His word.  I RAN to my Heavenly Father.  I gave him my situations.  I gave him my emotions.  I asked Him to replace lies with truth.  To provide in areas of need.  To open doors that need to be opened and close those that need to be closed (and THAT is a hard place to give Him). 

I'm currently reading in Acts.  Oh my goodness, do I ever wish I had kept my notes from college from a full semester on Acts & The Early Church.  This morning, I kept coming back to the chapters on Stephen.  I originally read through quite "academically" so to speak because it's a familiar story.  I didn't "expect" to learn much from the "familiar".  I was basically on auto-pilot.  Then my heart was prompted to go back, slow down, pray for His voice to be heard, and to just grab it. 

That changed everything.

I learned that I want the heart of Stephen. 

  • He was instantly described as a man full of God's grace and power (6:8).  I could stop right there and write pages of what that means to my heart. Isn't that an incredible description of a person? Isn't that something we should truly want to be said of us?
  • Men argued against him, but they COULD NOT STAND up against his WISDOM or the SPIRIT by whom he spoke.  (6:10).  Filled with the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom?  That has become my prayer focus specifically in the last several weeks and right there...right on the pages of scripture is a man that completely embodied those qualities.  What kind of life is possible when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and have wisdom? Remarkable. Powerful.  In His Steps.  That's the kind of life I seek!
  • His face was like the face of an angel. (6:15). While he was before the Sanhedrin, with false witnesses speaking against him, his face showed to whom he belonged.  It showed who lived in him.  His face visibly showed heaven.  That image just gives me goose bumps to think about!  What if we lived such a life that our faces, our demeanor showed that of an angelic, heavenly quality?  What if people were able to see, without us saying a word, to whom we belong?
  • The entire next chapter is an incredible speech.  Almost a historical account.  A moving description of how God was at work.  Constant use of words like: God said.  God was with him. God appeared. God sent.  God spoke.  Powerful words.  Loved going back and reading it seeing those words stand out.
  • At the conclusion of the speech, they were irate and irrational. They were furious and gnashed their teeth at him (7:54)....but, oh how amazing is this....despite what was going on in that moment, Stephen, FULL of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and SAW THE GLORY of GOD, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (55).  That image right there alone is enough to just make a person want to shout (even those of us introvert, "calm" and reserved individuals...ha!).
  • The result of this angry group of people, the result of this speech of power and conviction was death.  Stephen was immediately dragged out of the city and stoned.  Graphic.  Heart-wrenching.  No doubt about it, it was a moment that should have been defeat. It should have been the end of his witness. wasn't. When faced with such an incredibly unbelievable situation would our witness be of taking it all back?  Would we turn our backs against God?  Would we throw in the towel? Stephen didn't.  He didn't retaliate in anger.  He didn't spew out words of hate.  Instead....he forgave.  He FORGAVE.  Not only did he forgive, he asked God to NOT hold the sin against them.  They were literally killing him with one stone after another.  One wound after another.  Yet, he forgave and asked God to release them from the sin of their actions.  (7:60)
Oh, to only have a small portion of the faith and wisdom this man had.  To face such circumstances with such wisdom and to be filled so FULL of the Holy Spirit. 

So much to learn from one man.  May his heart full of the Holy Spirit encourage us to live a life with just a fraction of that same power. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Holding On

Though the last several weeks have been quite stressful and hard physically and emotionally, they've been a time of awakening in my spirit. 

A time that has drawn me back to His word in a new way.
A time that has me spending more time in communication with him---both talking AND listening.
A time that has created some shifts in my heart. 

My eyes have been opened to more things He wants to change in me.
My eyes have been open to areas that I still haven't surrendered to Him.

I see areas that still leave me confused.  Full of doubts.  Places that I see where I have BIG areas of growth potential. 

As this month brings HUGE opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal between Hearts at Home National Conference (Christian motherhood) and Teach Them Diligently (Homeschool Convention specifically geared towards families who place an emphasis on Spiritual Training as a top priority) and continuing to be present with growth opportunities through being part of  "No More Perfect Kids" book launch team.....I find myself just wanting to stop....pause....absorb....shut out all of the noise of the world.  Yet, life is still going on at warp speed.  I'm purposely making decisions to have less noise----less distractions.  Clearing my head so that I can absorb all that I possibly can.   Getting deeper and deeper in His word---just one-on-one.  Praying for wisdom.  On my knees and face before Him. 

You see....

I LOVE the fun aspects of weekends like those ahead.  They renew.  They provide fellowship.  They bring countless moments of laughter. 


They have such potential to bring about deep change.  Going in with the mindset of, "Lord, Speak to me.  Reveal more of you to me.", changes everything.  It causes me to just want to hide in a corner and just soak in every minute I have to grow at these events.  Away from distractions.  Just me and Him.  Just my husband and I  (at TTD) soaking in what God needs to reveal to us.

This mindset also brings about a battle.  Satan doesn't like it in the least.  He starts to bring out every weapon in his arsenal and my goodness has he ever been going non-stop.  Every morning and night, it seems like we have been hit with HUGE heavy weight issues over the last weeks.  They've definitely been moments of having to surrender to God because we cannot physically carry them on our own shoulders.  Sure, the daily battles of a vehicle breaking down on the side of the road and needing to be towed was greatly inconvenient and stressful....but the weapons he's thrown at us have just been like daggers to our spirit. 

Well, they've been intended to be that way.


God has been faithful.  He's walking along side us and IN us.  Giving us the ability to focus our eyes on Him. 

Best of all, we KNOW that the best is just around the corner.  The daggers are attempts to distract and defeat, but instead they are drawing us TO HIM. 

Satan can back down now.  We know the end of the story.  We know who the victor is. 

Holding to the hand of the Potter.  The Master of the entire universe.  The One who knows the outcome.  The One who has our names engraved in the palm of His hand. 

Holding onto that hand.  That lifeline.  Not letting go.

So beyond ready for the days and week ahead.  Beyond ready.

NO MORE PERFECT KIDS Launch Week! It's TIME!!!!!!!

NMPK Cover with Chapman nameGuess what??? It's time! I've been telling you about the No More Perfect Kids book and encouraging you to wait to get it until Bonus Week and it's finally here! Hearts at Home, Celebrate Kids, Inc, and Moody Publishers have put together an incredible package of parenting tools for anyone who buys the book during Bonus Week! Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book The Five Love Languages, says, "Few things in life are more satisfying than succeeding as a parent. No More Perfect Kids will help you do just that!" If you pick up the No More Perfect Kids book (e-book or hard copy from any brick and mortar store or online retailer) anytime between March 13 - 23, 2014, you will be eligible to receive over $100 in free resources! Here's how it works: 1) Buy the No More Perfect Kids book between March 13 and March 23 2) Scan or take a picture of the receipt 3) email a copy of your receipt to 4)Within 24 hours your will receipt a reply with a link and password to unlock you free resources! So what is included in the bonus offers? It's over $100 of incredible parenting resources! Here's what you'll get: 4 Printables:
  • You're Special Poster
  • I Corinthians 13 for Parents Poster
  • Compliments and Corrections Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch
  • Conversation Starters for Parents and Grandparents Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch
4 Hearts at Home Audio Workshops:
  • When You Feel Like Screaming--Sue Heimer,
  • Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid--Shaunti Feldhahn
  • Raising Grateful Kids--Marianne Miller
  • Real Ways to Connect with Your Kids--Kathi Lipp
3 E-Books:
  • A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Gary Chapman,
  • How Am I Smart? by Kathy Koch
  • The 10 Commandments of Parenting by Dr. Ed Young
HAH logo 4 approval You'll also want to check out where you'll find free videos to accompany the No More Perfect Kids book and other great resources! What a wonderful opportunity this is to get some great parenting resources at an incredible price! Tell your friends, your moms group, and any other parent who would benefit from this wonderful opportunity!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Faithfully Availalbe

When God places a dream in your heart, He does it for a reason.  He does it with a plan.  He has a time frame. 


You see....

Our desire for our family to be on the foreign mission field grows by the second.  It's the last thing I think of when I go to sleep and many times I wake up with it on my heart in the middle of the night.  It's one of the first things Kevin and I both pray about each morning, both together and separately.  I can't count the number of times that we talk about it during the day or my thoughts wander to some aspect of that calling. Our children talk about Africa as if we are already there or as if we are leaving next week.  (So much so that we are beginning to wonder if perhaps Bradlee knows more than we do!  That child keeps packing or saying something with such depth that there is no way it can be anything but God working in his little heart!).

It's growing so much that it's like we have tunnel vision.  We live in THIS moment and still focus on today, but our hearts grow more and more anxious about wanting the "tomorrow".

Oh but let me be honest and transparent.  Let me be vulnerable. 

It's terrifying the dickens out of us.  (Yes, I just totally let my southern roots speak!!!! )

For every moment that we sense that God is strengthening us and giving us boldness, Satan jumps in with his arrows.  We have never felt a greater sense of spiritual warfare battling around us as we have since we verbally admitted that we were saying "yes" and no longer running for the call that is in ALL of our hearts.  (If you talk to each of our kids, especially the oldest and youngest, you will KNOW without a DOUBT that God has put this in their hearts as well!). He has been at us full force.  I'll be honest.  His tactics have worked.  They've delayed us.  They've put some serious doubts in our minds. They've certainly created turmoil.


Our God is GREATER. 
Our God is STRONGER.

We aren't backing down.  It is more and more apparent EVERY day that despite our fears, weaknesses, and even selfish concerns....we ARE going forward.   We continue to see confirmation after confirmation that this is our path.  We are without a doubt called.

We've just wrongly been letting our fears cripple us.  Slowing us down.  Discouraging us to the point of inaction. 

We've started putting those doubts and fears at the feet of Jesus and He is replacing them with His truths. 

We are purposely transforming our hearts and minds by filling our hearts with His word and truly seeking Him like we've never done before.  We are reading excellent books like Love Does, The Circle Maker, All In, etc....  We are purposely trying to live in such a way that our hearts can hear Him more. (And Satan sure LOVES to try and prevent that!!!!!!!!!)

Just last night and again this morning, I was drawn back numerous times to a devotion in my study Bible. This particular one was intended to go along with John 14 and was written by Anne Graham Lotz. 

Just the title grabbed my attention and before ever reading the words of the devotion it was already turning wheels in my head and heart.

Faithfully Available

Just a title statement, but in my heart I knew God was asking it as a question.

Are you Faithfully Available, Tracye?

Some of her words that I thought were beautiful and so very timely needed for my own heart:

The size and scope of the assignment are up to Him, and the effectiveness and lasting impact of your service are also His responsibility. You and I are simply to be faithfully available...and obedient.

There have been times when I have argued, resisted, procrastinated, and questioned, but in the end I always give in, because He is my Lord...I have "seen" Him...and I love Him.  I don't serve Him because I have to.  I serve Him because I want to do something for Him.  And in the process of being obedient, I have come to know Him.  He has "made known to me the path of life. He has filled me with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand."

With eagerness and enthusiasm, I put my feet in motion.  I want to serve Him all the days of my life.  I want to stay awake to His glorious vision forever.  I am now on a passionate pursuit for more of Jesus. I embrace the Cross that shatters the stranglehold of self and enlarges my capacity to receive more, I long...
  • to gaze on His visible face,
  • to hear His audible voice,
  • to feel His unmistakable touch,
  • to become an eyewitness of His glory.
In the meantime, I refuse to sleep one more minute. I'm awake...with eyes opened, heart rended, and knees bent while I whisper, "yes...Yes, Lord!...Yes, Sir!" then raise my hand as I move my feet.  "I'm available for service. Send me. I'll go. I want to stay awake forever...."

Yes. Yes, Lord. Yes, Sir....our hands are raised and we are ready to start moving our feet.

We don't have the financial means.  We still have more questions than we can give answers to. 


Our feet are moving and our hands are raised. 


He put a dream and desire in our hearts long ago.  He's made it clear to all of us that we have a purpose: despite our own tripping over our own feet, our own weaknesses, our own failures, our own selfishness, or own sins.  We can't wait until we are "perfect" because that day WILL never come. We can't wait until we have no doubts or fears, because if they aren't there----our dreams aren't big enough.  No fears means it's a man sized dream.  We have a God-sized dream.  We financially can't do it.  Not even in the slightest (I think we are about 2% of the way). Oh, but God can.

We're faithfully available. Even though we've definitely heard enough negatives to discourage, even from family and acquaintances. But we've also heard enough positives to know that God IS in this.  Even in the discouragement, His voice speaks to our hearts above the negativity....

Yes, Yes, Lord! Yes, Sir.  We're faithfully available.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


NMPK Cover with Chapman nameI'm so excited to announce that the No More Perfect Kids book is now here!

Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch have been working so hard over the past year to bring parents this powerful book!  I am part of the launch team and have already had the opportunity to read the book and can highly recommend it!

However, they say good things come to those who wait. This saying is especially true where No More Perfect Kids is concerned. The official release date was March 1, BUT if you are willing to wait to get your copy until March 13 - 23, you will be eligible to receive over $100 in free resources! I'll provide all the info you need during release week to get the book and the bonus offers so stay tuned for the details.

You’ll also want to pop over to where you can sign up to receive weekly antidotes to the perfection infection on the No More Perfect Blog, or learn how to better love your kids for who they are through our free 13-day No More Perfect Kids e-challenge.

While you're waiting for those bonus offers, here's an excerpt from the book:

Ten Ways to Encourage Your Child
An excerpt from No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch

Parenting is hard work and sometimes it seems our kids do more wrong than right. Add in household responsibilities like laundry and meals, spilled milk at the breakfast table, a child who comes in from playing outside and is covered in dirt, and sibling rivalry where the kids pick at each other all night and sometimes life just isn’t easy. Fatigue is normal and frustration is, too. Learning not to act unkindly in our frustration is a journey requiring grace for ourselves and our kids.

Even in the midst of real life, it’s important to say far more encouraging words to our kids than correcting words. When we encourage kids, we give them courage. It’s empowering, freeing, and strengthening. When encouragement is the norm, children will learn they can take risks, try new things, ask for help, and make mistakes without the fear of losing the acceptance, love, and support of their parents.

It’s not easy to give encouragement, especially on the hard days. There are, however, steps we can take to increase encouragement in our home.

Here are 10 Encouragement Enhancers you can use in your family:

Encourage-Courage1. Don’t expect perfection. When we expect perfection we notice every little thing that’s wrong and that creates an environment of discouragement.

2. Encourage childlike behavior. There’s a difference between childish behavior and age-appropriate childlike behavior. Discourage the first and encourage the second.

3. Value what your kids learn. We need to pay at least as much attention to what’s being learned as we do to grades being earned and performances at games and concerts. This is one way we communicate that our kids are more than what they do and how they do.

4. Resist the urge to judge all performances. One way to emphasize learning rather than performance is not always to ask about their scores or grades.

5. Ask them how they feel. When talking about one of their athletic competitions, concerts, or tests, sometimes ask first how satisfied they were with the outcome. Two-way conversations about grades, concerts, and competitions will be more profitable than one-way judgments.

6. Notice their strengths. Point out their character, attitude, and action strengths to help them when they work to make progress in weak areas.

7. Don’t worry about their challenges. Understand some areas will remain challenges for our kids no matter how hard they try. Trying to get kids to change what they can’t improve is a sure way to discourage them.

8. Celebrate what’s real. When one child deserves to be celebrated for something significant (e.g., no C’s on a report card for the first time in a year, a soccer championship, art being displayed in the county library), don’t create fake celebrations for your other kids in order to be “fair.” Use these opportunities to teach children to genuinely celebrate their siblings.

9. Introduce them to overcomers. Discuss relatives and local people your kids know who have overcome great odds. Read biographies and autobiographies of people who have been highly successful even though they also struggled. We can often learn our greatest lessons from our greatest challenges.

10. Have fun together. Play with your kids. Relationships are deepened while building forts and having tea parties with your little ones and going shopping and watching ball games with your older ones. The fun, relaxed moments you share make tough times easier to walk through and go a long way to creating an encouraging family culture.

Be patient with yourself as you work to increase the encouraging environment in your family. If you choose too many things to change, you and your kids will be overwhelmed and little progress will be made. Don’t look back with shame or guilt either. Today is a perfect day to look forward with hope, choose one Encouragement Enhancer to start with, and walk in a positive direction!