Posts in Encouragement
To the Woman Grieving on Mother’s Day

Once upon a time, Mother’s Day was ‘just’ a day.

When I was younger, I made my mom a card, sent jewelry or flowers, and completely took for granted that I had a great mom who knew I loved her and knew she loved me.

Then I became a mom.

Again, mother’s day was just another day that my family celebrated. I knew Macy loved me every day, so it wasn’t much different than a random Tuesday. For the 19 days I had Caleb, the bond was strong. I loved him, and he loved me.

Then the wreck happened.

Then Mother’s Day was no longer ‘just’ another day.

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How to Combat Feelings of Shame with Truth

Shame.

You know. That gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you secretly hate yourself. 

Those memories of all the times you've messed up in the past. That you're dirty. Or unloved. Or unworthy of love.

It seems there is an epidemic of feelings of shame in our society.

Not to be dramatic, but the enemy is having a hay day wreaking havoc in the minds of women everywhere. What better way to distract you from doing all the things you were designed to do than devastating you with all these feelings?

What if you didn't have to feel that way? 

What if shame didn't consume your thoughts?

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A (Faith-Based) Playlist When You're in the Pit

In the eleven years since the death of my beloved husband, curly red-headed precocious five and a half-year-old, and perfect blonde haired, blue eyed two and a half week old baby boy, the Lord has allowed me to experience a taste of the pain I felt immediately following the wreck.

And the pain was intense.

And it hurt.

And it dropped me to my knees.

And today I am thankful for feeling all the feels again because it allows me to meet you where you are in your pain.

I can look you in the eye and promise that you will not always feel this way.

I won’t lie and tell you the road is easy. It isn’t.

But you, dear one in the midst of your pain, can come out on the other side. You won’t be the same… but you can know joy again.

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What to Pray When You’re In the Pit

So you’re down and out and not sure you can take much more.

You look around and think to yourself: 

This is it? 

This is my life? 

Is this as good as it gets?

You shrug and respond:

Well, sure it is. It’s what I had comin’ to me.

My mother told me this would happen.

I should have known better. 

What was I thinking!

The imagined words of others begin to float into your mind:

You’re no fun; live a little.

Whore. Slut. 

Worthless. Damaged

It’s all in your head. You’re overreacting.

You’re exhausted. You’re not sure how you got here, but it’s been awhile.

It’s dark where you are.

It’s hard to breathe.

There’s no rest here.

You’re just going through the motions. 

You wonder if anybody knows. 

You feel alone here, isolated, even with your friends.

You live in fear here even in the presence of loved ones. 

You’re a mess, barely keeping it together.

You’re screaming, but words aren’t coming out. 

 It happened so slowly. Gradually. Over time. But here you are. In the pit. 

And I get it. I’ve been there. 

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Making Sense of the Ups and Downs of Life

Do you know my friend's Joy and Sadness? Allow me to introduce them. They’re pretty famous. Their resume is quite impressive.

They are lead roles in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out.

Rob Base features them in the chorus of his famous hip-hop song “Joy and Pain.” 

Dr. Seuss references them in his quote “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

And most importantly, the Bible verifies them as significant times in life in Ecclesiastes 3:4—a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to grieve and a time to dance.  

What do you notice about Joy and Sadness in these scenarios? Do you see a pattern? I notice that they’re together, appearing side by side. 

So I’ve come to think of them as the greatest underrated dynamic duo of all time!

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Finding Your Identity in God- Not This World

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

But what do you think God sees?

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Created in God’s Image- but what does that mean?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

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8 Ways to Get Involved in a New Church

You know that feeling you get when you walk into the room for the first time, and you don’t know anyone.  I’m talking, one hundred percent, flying solo, a sea of faces,  not one is familiar, and your stomach feels like it’s about to fall out of your body. 

I don’t care whether you are an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert (a combo of both), outgoing or shy, almost everybody will have some feelings of anxiety or even panic. 

If you have found yourself in a new church (new community, new school, new anything), you are familiar with this feeling.  When faced with this pit in your stomach, what did you do? Did you run out of the room, never to return, or did you push through those uncomfortable feelings?  

The thought of starting at a new church can be a daunting task.  Change can be hard.  Change can also be a beautiful thing.  What wonderful opportunities and connections are waiting for you? What does God have in store?

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Can Heartbreak Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

If you had to choose a silver-screen love story, which would be your favorite?

·       the fiercely assertive Scarlet and Rhett in Gone with the Wind

·       the adventures of summer vacation with Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

·       Dorothy and Jerry with their “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” from Jerry Maguire

·       the passionately committed Noah and Allie in The Notebook

If you’re like me, you grew up admiring these great loves and fantasized about your own, convinced you’d find the one, have a fairy tale wedding, and live happily ever after. Just like in the movies. Right? Of course!

Well, if you’re like me, you know it didn’t quite go that way. You probably chose poorly between an Ashley and a Rhett. You realized your summer fling should have been just that—a summer romance, not a life-time commitment. And those one-liners were momentary promises never meant to be kept.   

I fell in love for the first time at 14. No I didn’t. I had my first crush at 14. He was the hottest thing in junior high, and I was stoked to call him my boyfriend. His name was Raymond. Our young love lasted through the spring of our freshman year then he moved. Boy, was I heartbroken. Not really. I found a new crush my sophomore year.

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How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

Your way. How’s that working for you?

Has your situation changed?

You’ve tried everything, right?

  • Spilled your guts on Facebook, looking for sympathy, a like, or a thumbs up.
  • Marched into Books-A-Million and purchased the latest number-one selling self-help book.
  •  Drank yourself into a stupor to escape your current reality.
  •  Popped a pill or two just to feel momentary happiness or relief from the crazy.
  •  Hid in your house and slept on the couch to avoid the day.
  •  Resorted to casual sexual encounters, mistaking them for love or validation.
  •  Rejected those closest to you, convinced they wouldn’t understand. 
  • Decided to be part of the crowd so you’d belong.

Didn’t work, did it?

I know. It’s okay. None of these worked for me either.

For years I stumbled through life doing things my way. I made lists. I checked the calendar. I talked it out. I rationalized. I theorized. I read books. I weighed options. I considered pros and cons. I basically relied on me. I’m smart. Surely I’m capable.

While I in no way discredit the value of these actions, I readily admit there was one thing missing.

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How Jesus Did Friendship

Your best friend—that person you tell everything to, the person included in all your plans.  When you get the job you hoped for, she celebrates with you. When you absolutely must talk it out, she stays on the phone all night with you. When tragedy strikes, she cries with you. 

Your inner circle—those women who have been part of your life for many years. You’ve raised children together. You’ve road tripped together. You’ve buried a parent or planned a wedding together. 

An acquaintance— someone you once worked with, the lady you sit by in church, or the high school classmate you rarely see but always say hi to. The PTA president at your kid’s school.

To me, relationships are like the rings that tell the age of a tree—small circles then larger circles extending outward. At the core, you find the BFF. The circle closest to you are those you do life with, the inner circle. In the outer rings lie a multitude of friendly acquaintances. 

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How to Resist Temptation

Temptation: The Beautiful Fraud

When I was young and heard stories of the devil, I saw him as depicted in all the childhood books. He was hideously ugly and donned a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. 

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the devil comes in the prettiest packages that appeal to all of our earthly desires.

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? 

I have. And it was captivating. The moment was unexpected, unforgettable. He took my hand and pulled me in. Our bodies kept time with the music—swaying, turning, spinning. The room lit just enough to follow with my eyes the structure of his face and the contour of his frame. The smell of sweet seduction surrounded us.  His whispers enticing me, appealing to every sensation. Promises of gratification and fulfillment, alluring and blinding.  We danced. I thought the song would never end.  

Do you know this man I speak of? Have you met him?  Maybe you are with him now.

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Healing & Restoration: How Jennie Got Her Jesus Cape

You may be familiar with Stella and how she got her groove back. It’s the story of a successful black woman in her forties who finds love in the islands after a friend encourages her to “get back out there, date, have some fun.” Stella sets her sights on a younger man then soon realizes the need for balance between love, companionship, and responsibility in life.

While Stella found her groove in a guy, I found mine in Jesus. This is a story of healing and restoration, of how Jennie got her Jesus cape.   

In 2013 a tragedy devastated my left arm. The arm, as it was affectionately known, was completely useless. I could not move it, could not use it. I could see it there. I could feel its existence, but I could not do anything with it. My left hand was rendered useless as well. I could not move a single finger, make a fist, grip, or pinch. It was like the power to my left arm had been shut off. I wondered if maybe it would be paralyzed, be lifeless forever. 

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For Grievers Stuck in Their Grief: Do You Want to Be Healed?

Disclaimer: If you are in the early stages of grief, click away from this post. This post is for people who have been grieving for a long time and are stuck in their grief. 

Are you stuck?

Stuck in the pit? 

The pit of grief?

Oh fellow griever, it’s time. It’s time to move forward. Notice I didn’t say move on…. that’s not what we’re working toward here. We’re working toward forward movement. I want you to know joy again.

Read John 5: 1-9

This passage of scripture spoke to me like none other in my grief journey. God pulled the scales off my eyes as I was reading, and I thought, “THIS. This explains my responsibility in my becoming healed.

When we begin reading, we see that Jesus was back in Jerusalem and at the pool of Bethesda. We also learn that there were a lot of sick people by the pool. According to different studies, it was believed that an angel would stir (or trouble) the waters, and only the first person into the pool was healed.

At the time of the man’s encounter with Jesus, he had been lame for 38 years. That’s a long time, my friends. Now comes the interesting part. Let’s look at what Jesus says to him in verse 6:

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How to Handle Your Curious Cravings

Curiosity killed the cat. While this isn't biblical, it sure fits nicely in the opening chapters of Genesis where Eve stumbles and falls and takes her husband down with her.  Moreover, there is much to learn from our Lord's wise warning in Genesis 2:17,

"You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die."  

Why do we feel the need to know? Better yet, why do we feel the right to be informed? How much heartache and misery we could be spared if we truly heeded God's warning

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Failure isn't Fatal

I'd watched the Biggest Loser over the years but wasn't an avid fan. As I watched contestants sweat profusely, vomit, and pass out, I thought, "Man, that looks hard."

It is.

I thought maybe we'd ease into the workouts. I mean they had told us we were not just obese; we were MORBIDLY obese. Obese as we were, we were jumping into the deep end with the first workout.

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