There’s an App for That: Tolerating Intolerance


Hello readers!

I have a new article out on the Start2Finish blog about those two popular words we oh so often hear get thrown around.  Tolerance.  Intolerance.  What is the difference?  And how do you know which category you fall in to?  Click on the link below and read up on how Paul and John beautifully show us in scripture how to be tolerant in an intolerant world AND still get down to business on sharing the amazing story of the love and sacrifice of Christ.

Need to know how to spread the love of Christ without being labeled as intolerant?  Yep.  There’s an app for that :)

There’s An App for That: 5 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife


Hello readers!   I am very excited to announce that I have teamed up with Start 2 Finish Books, and will begin a segment on their blog called, “There’s an App for That” which will be posted once a week!  The segment will contain articles about every day Christian living, and how we can always find a Biblical application for every aspect of our lives.  I look forward to gaining new readers as I share in my growth, challenges, and opportunities as a follow of Christ.

I am so excited about this opportunity!  Be sure to go to the site and browse through the book selections, as well as the blog.

To read this week’s post on thoughts from Song of Solomon concerning showing love to your wife, click on the link below:

Five Ways to Show Love to Your Wife      Yep.  There’s an app for that :)  Check it out!

Raising Mom: “Don’t Take My Picture Right Now; I’m Too Fat.”

Every Christmas,  I set out albums of our family celebrating Christmas together.   This tradition is one of my kids’ favorites, because they love to remember years past.  They enjoy seeing how they have grown and how others have changed.    One year, my middle child made the observation that Mommy was missing from a few of the albums.  I laughed, and said, “Well, Mommy is missing because she is busy taking the pictures.”  This was only half true.

PicMonkey Collage

 The full truth is I was missing from the photographs because I thought I was “fat” and didn’t want to be in the pictures, so I hid behind the camera instead.

I regret these years big time.  I see albums full of my babies when they were tiny, nestled in the arms of their Daddy,  on the knee of their Grandpa.  Visiting with Nana & Papa and making cookies with their Gammy and Aunt,  but rarely were there any of me.

I get emails from clients who share in this same sentiment, “I just want photos of my kids.  I need to lose weight before we do family shots.” and “I want to take family pictures, but have gained so much weight, I want to wait till I lose a few pounds.”   It breaks my heart.  I wonder if they have albums of their children’s early years that look a lot like mine…missing Mommy.

Mothers, why do we do this to ourselves?  We take photos of our children because they change so fast!  We want to have these photographs as a keepsake to remember the joys that they brought to us through motherhood.  A photograph can freeze time.  Where are you in them?  Fast forward to the day your children become adults and have babies of their own.

 They will look back on your relationship with them and reflect on how beautiful you were as their mother.  They will want photos to remember the beauty of their life with you.

One day, you will leave this world.   Will your children have a special photo of you with them?  Will they be reminded of the way you held them?  Will they be hit with the smell of the perfume you used to wear when they come across a photo of you holding them tightly against your chest?  Will they come across a photo of  you wrapped up in their Daddy’s arms, and remember how he used to chase you around the house popping you with dish towels?  Will they have images of you that will spark  precious memories of having you in their lives?  Do you think when this season comes in their lives  they are going to look back at photos and see you as “fat” or simply as their beautiful Mother?

I came across a photo of me being goofy with my girls and a good friend of mine.  I remember the day well.  I did not want to take the picture because I was “fat”.  I decided to go ahead and do it anyways, because she was visiting, and it was her camera.  I probably wouldn’t see the pictures again anyways!  She sent me this photo several years after the fact.  After the baby weight was gone.  After the “fat” goggles I blinded myself with were removed.   I didn’t see fat.  I didn’t see a tired mom with dark circles and bags under her eyes.  I saw vibrancy!  I saw life!  I was brought back to the fun we had the day we took the photo.  I saw a moment frozen in time that made me smile.  And my skin!  My complexion was great!  Far better than what it is now, because for some reason, my thirty-year old face has decided to go through puberty!  Moms!  We are constantly changing.

If we do not have a good grasp on what healthy self esteem is, we will always find reasons to shy away from the camera.  Something will always be wrong.  Another year of Mom missing from family photos.

If we lose the weight, we may harp on our wrinkles,  or our adult acne, or our hair, or our bat-wing arms.  Just as our children change from year to year, we do too, and that’s ok!  That’s life!  That’s what makes looking back on the changes so fun.PicMonkecy Collage

Get back in front of the camera.  Book that family photo session, and take the time to have a special photo snapped of you with your kids, and with your husband.  You are a light to your family.  Allow your husband to grab the camera and snap a pic of you on the floor playing with your toddler, and don’t go back and delete it because of a self esteem issue!  Give it a few years.  You will look back on that photo and see a precious memory.  Not weight.  Not hair.  Not acne.  Not wrinkles.

Don’t hide from the camera.

Fill your walls and albums with your family and yourself.

You are a beautiful woman.  You are an extraordinary wife.  You were chosen for the important task of motherhood.  You are doing an amazing job!  Baby weight and all!   To your husband, you are wonder woman.  To your children, you are everything.   Don’t take away who you are to them by shying away from the camera.  Remind yourself why you take photos of them.  To freeze a point in time to reflect on when its gone.  This is the same reason why they want to see photos of you.  Where will you be in the memories?

Throwback Thursday: Dreams Uprooted


This post was written in the Spring of 2012, a great reminder of the Master’s Plan.  Be sure to check out my thoughts in hindsight! images

The sunshine brought me to my flowerbed to do some much needed tending. After the vibrant blooms of spring had bloomed, I dug up the bed to allow the earth to rest for the next spring planting.  The mild winter brought about blooms from the seed that had fallen creating a mess of plants that had rooted and bloomed before their time. I created for myself a bouquet of bright yellow and orange daisies to enjoy inside, and went to work ripping up the remaining plants to allow seed to be sown for new blooms.

As I worked, sweat and tears streamed down my face as I related to the plants. I too felt as if my roots had been ripped up and tossed aside to be withered by the sun. Therapeutic swashes of the gardening hoe were in full force as I worked out my frustration and desperation. With arms and legs shaking, I continued on with the task and listened to the lesson that God was planting in my heart.

My husband came to the excruciatingly hard decision to stay behind from the Nicaragua Spring mission trip, and I chose to stay with him. This decision came with a lot of meditation and prayer after several weeks of battling with the idea. Because of his heart procedure, recovery has been slow and going out of the country at this time is not in the best interest of his health. I am aching for him, because he has deep-outstretched roots for the work in Nicaragua, but I also marvel at the courage it took for him to put the mission before himself. Because I am his wife, created to be his helpmate, I chose to stay by his side.

Working out the emotions of feeling left behind has left me almost broken. The months of planning, preparing, visiting congregations, raising money, writing support letters, shopping, sewing, gathering, packing, prayers, research, meetings, and all the love that has been rooted in this trip was hard to let go of. The mission trip started as a seed in my heart when Jake came back from his last one in September, and it took root as we planned out being those spoken of in Matthew 25: 34-40.406180_2624129838633_298812413_n

I do not know why things sometimes work out the way they do, or why this trip was uprooted from my life, but I do know that God is in control, He is good, and He is alive and working. The plants in my garden had to be uprooted because they were blooming before their time, leaving no room for new growth. After I work the land and prepare it for planting, I will plant and nurture new seeds, and their brilliance will shine through bringing life, fragrance, and beauty. In the same way, this trip may have come too early for Jake and I; too early for his body as he is still recovering, and too early for me, a mother leaving my small children behind. But as this plan has been uprooted, I know God is now cultivating our souls and planting new seed to bloom at just the right time.

The mission trip will still go on. The hungry will eat, the naked will be clothed, the sick will be visited, the stranger will still be welcomed in, and the prisoners will receive provision. God will see to it. Not going has shown me that I am but a means to His glory, and if I cannot be used at this time, His glory will still be revealed through other willing souls. He is so good.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 states: “To everything there is a season, and a time for ever matter under heaven…..A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” My time to serve in Nicaragua has been plucked up.  There will be times in all of our lives when things do not go the way we had planned. When this happens, we must remember the simple fact that life is not about us and our purpose is to serve in love because He first loved us.

When we find ourselves uprooted, remember the Master Gardener will tend to what needs done, and His Truth will always prevail.

We must allow God to break the roots we have tried so hard to establish in order to allow new growth to prevail; growth God’s way, not of our own.

Then, when it comes time for our seeds to take root, we must willingly and wholeheartedly obey the call and bloom where we are planted.

In Hindsight:

Jered, Jessica, me, and Jake at our going away party at the SBC

Jered, Jessica, me, and Jake at our going away party at the SBC

Jered and Jessica Hyatt took our place in the mission and what an amazing blessing it has been!  The mission went very well, and big things happened for the people in Nicaragua, and for the students at the Bible Center.  Not too long after the trip, Jake and I were approached by the elders in Madill for Jake to become the preaching minister for the congregation.  This meant we had to leave the college students, and the beloved congregation of Durant behind.  We spent much time in prayer over the decision, while worrying about the Student Bible Center and the students there that we loved so dearly.  But God had an amazing plan.  We left in confidence to go to Madill, because the perfect people for the Student Bible Center was none other than the SAME couple that took our place in the mission trip!  God used our absence to grow a relationship between this couple and the students, because something great was coming for all of them.  How awesome is that?!

Experiencing the people of Nicaragua after a 4 year wait!

Experiencing the people of Nicaragua after a 4 year wait!

Jake and I have been in Madill for almost three years, and Jered and Jessica are at the Bible Center.  Both ministries are doing very well, and I got to take my very first Nicaragua mission trip the following September of 2013.  The time was right, Jake was well, and my kids were another year older, so leaving them behind went smoother.  It’s amazing to look back and see God’s hand in all of this!   When we put our “seasons” in the Master’s hands, big things happen, and what a joy it is to get to glorify Him when we get a glimpse of the bigger picture in hindsight.  God is good! 

Raising Mom: A Lesson on Grace

Over the weekend, I was able to take a Mom’s mini-getaway with one of my best friends to watch OU beat up on Tennessee.  It was amazing.

IMG_0852     Before leaving,  I got the house cleaned  then felt the need to go ahead and clean the disaster areas known as the children’s rooms.  Disclaimer:  My oldest daughter is doing fantastic with keeping her room clean.  So the disaster mentioned is more about the younger kids.  The kids’ rooms are IMG_0862their responsibility.   I rarely get involved unless I simply just can’t handle it any longer, due to the non-visibility of their  floor, or the stench.  They get paid a commission for helping out with chores such as dusting, sweeping, windexing (yes, I turned a household product name into an action verb)  etc.  They only get paid for these things if their rooms are clean.  There hasn’t been much payment rendered lately on behalf of the younger two.   I decided to clean their rooms.

As I worked,   I spent the afternoon reflecting on how I wanted my kiddos to understand God’s grace, because in the quiet of the house, I was reflecting on this thought myself.  Then, it hit me.   They made the mess.  They should be the ones picking it up.  It is their responsibility.  I should be sitting the younger two down and giving  them the responsibility speech.  Again. grace-def-1 Not this time, maybe a lesson on grace will change their won’t do attitudes.

After school, I showed the kiddos their rooms, and they were mostly thankful.    My son said, “Oh yeah, that’s good.”  My middle child said, “Wow mom!  I appreciate it!”  My oldest said, “Thank you so much.  I had a bad day at school, and it is nice to not have to worry about my laundry.  I will take good care of what you did.”  I replied with, “You’re all very welcome.  I did this because I wanted you to have a good weekend and not worry about your rooms.  I also did this because I wanted you to see grace this time instead of punishment.  Y’all deserve to get in trouble for the condition of your rooms, but instead I took care of them for you.  That’s grace, and something I want you to learn, feel, and show.”

Walking in the door after my trip, I was hit immediately by a terrible stench.  I gagged a little.  Not a good welcome back.  My over sensitized nose lead me to the kids’ bathroom, where the sink was covered in a dark brown, stinky substance that caked the sink bowl, and the faucet handles.  It looked as if it were a mud and doggie-doo mixture that had possible been scraped off of the bottom of a shoe.   Of course, no one knew what it was, or how it got there.  I gave the culprits the supplies needed to clean it up, because there was no way I was touching the mystery mess.

Isn’t it  ironic  that kids tend to make an even bigger mess cleaning up a mess than they do making it?  It is like a conspiracy!  “Let’s do a bad job at cleaning this up so mom won’t ask us to do it again!”  The mirror was smeared and streaked.  Five hand towels were wadded up in a ball, and soaked with stinky water.  The brown substance was virtually gone from the sink bowl, but still streaked on the sink handles.   Deep breaths.  

My son, who has a vague concept of grace,  pitted out his room again, in the 24 hours I was gone.  My middle child was back into her routine of not putting things away once finished with them.  The oldest’s room was all in order, except for a stray sock in the corner.  Their rooms reflected their concept of grace.  My youngest, who is only six, had zero regard for the grace given, and was right back into living in a pig pen.  My middle child, age eight, appreciated the grace, but went back into her bad habits.  My oldest child, who is twelve, kept her room in order out of thankfulness toward the grace shown.

Isn’t that how we respond to God and His grace?  He comes into the “rooms” called our souls and rids them of all the filth and guilt that a sinful life has caused with the blood of His Son, Jesus.  He didn’t have to.  It wasn’t His mess.  But He chose to because He loves us.  Do you sometimes take this grace as my son did with his room  and misuse it, filling your soul full of the same sins God had just wiped clean?  Or maybe you are like my middle child, who received the gift of grace with gratitude, but later on, let a few choice habits creep back in.  Some of you may experience it like my oldest did with her room, accepting the gift with thankfulness, then making a conscious effort to keep your life on track out of thankfulness for what has been given. These reactions were a reflection of the different ways I have handled grace in my life as I grow in Christ.  How are you growing grace?

I’m so glad that God does not leave us to clean up our messes like I did with the kids and the sink.  They did their best, but couldn’t get the job done.  God tells us that He took care of our mess when He gave His Son on the cross.   In return, we glorify this fact in our lives by striving to keep the sin out, thankful that it is gone.

My grace with messes stops when the smell is strong enough to knock over a buffalo, God’s grace never stops.  Never.  Thanks kids for continually teaching me what it is like to be a child of God.  It is my prayer that you are learning just as much as I am.  God is good.


Take the Food Stamp Meme Down; What is it Really Accomplishing?

10620586_452138144927760_7362201447149286922_nThere has been a meme circulating the internet that has captured a lot of people’s attention while causing anger, and debate.  The caption reads, “If Michelle Obama’s food recommendations are suitable for our schools, apply those recommendations to our food stamp program.”   What are your thoughts on this?  If you are a  hard working tax payer, contributing into the food stamp program, are these your thoughts?

I personally, was offended for the people who are on food stamps, because I know how hard it its to make healthy choices for your family, and yet, worry about having the money for your family to eat in this way.  I was offended because my family and I used to be on food stamps.  And were very thankful for them.  Because of them, my husband was able to go to college and get his degree to better support our family.   For those of you who agree with this meme’s thought above, and who know me personally, would you have posted this to your wall, as my friend, knowing I was on food stamps?  Would you be able to tell me to skip on the bag of sugar packed cereal that will feed my family thirty-nine serving for $5.98 and instead, buy the “healthy” cereal that will only feed my family  12 servings for $4.58?  Would you stand there and tell me to go put up the $.50 Reese cup I grabbed at the checkout line to give to my kiddos for being  good in the store because it wasn’t deemed healthy?  If I did abide by the healthy eating rules, and load my shopping cart down with all of the healthy options provided by Mrs. Obama’s program, would you you be willing to pay MORE taxes to account for the additional cost of eating healthy?  Would you then grumble that the people who are depending on your financial help are now eating better and healthier than your own family because of the hike in extra taxes??

I got on the Food Stamp Benefit Calculator and entered in the income we were bringing in while my husband was in college, and I was working.   The amount of benefits received was $460.00.   What is your total food bill each month? Is it even close to this number?  This is what people have to work with.  They get the cheap sugared cereal, the cheap bread, bologna, ramen noodles, frozen pizza, chips, Hamburger Helper, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, and so forth, because the JUNK FOOD COSTS LESS THAN HEALTHY FOOD!  Why spend $5.00 on feeding your family bacon and eggs two times, when you can spend $5.98 on a bag of Fruity Pebbles and feed them seven times?  Let’s say the kids eat free for breakfast and lunch at school, you and your spouse eat at home for these meals, then all of you eat together for supper.  You will be buying food for 260 meals per month.  This does not include snacks.  Divide the food stamp budget by that number and get  $2.19.  That is how much you need to spend on food per person for 260 meals per month.  That is with free breakfast and lunch for the three kids!

Do you see the problem?  This is just food.  It does not include household items, and toiletry items.

Be a part of the solution.

We can ALL make this work, without restrictions.  The solution is compassion, and education.   Instead of forcing those on food stamps to make healthier eating options, how about we show them how to make their money stretch?  If I had been educated on meal planning, budgeting, price matching, and couponing, while we were on food stamps, my family probably would have eaten a bit healthier, and our foods stamp money would have gone farther.  My husband has banned Hamburger Helper from our home indefinitely because of how much we depended on it back then :)

For those of you who consider yourselves to be Christian, but have plastered this meme on your wall, or have “liked’ the meme on someone else wall, consider this:

Did Jesus put a restrictive cap on His grace?  Did Jesus only die for those who were truly grateful for Him?  Did Jesus place guidelines on his assistance?

Aren’t we supposed to be Jesus to the world?  Aren’t we supposed to reach out to even those we think are undeserving?  How often do we pass by the homeless drunk and justify ourselves in saying, “I’m not giving him any money; he will just waste it on booze.”  Or feel it’s OK to post memes such as these to our walls, but claiming, “Oh I’m just talking about those who abuse the system, not those who don’t.”   Did Jesus give to those who would receive wisely, or did He simply give to all?  If grace was only given to those who wouldn’t abuse it, Jesus would not have died for mankind.  We ALL have abused the system.

When you see a mom with three little ones in the grocery store maxed out on her food stamp card at checkout because she was forced to buy the more expensive, healthier things to make you feel better about where your money was going, are you going to give her more money so she doesn’t have to put stuff back?

Our government forces us to pay into programs we do not necessarily agree with, because the system is flawed.   But even through the flaws of the welfare system, it is changing lives.

 How many times have we seen God be able to work miracles in a flawed world?

How many times has His power trumped darkness?  Are you wiling to be His to hands for those who need His sustainment the most?

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27

God calls us into action.  Action without restrictions.   Actions that will cause us to understand the situations of those whom we are helping.   Wanting to place self-righteous restrictions on those  we “have” to help via taxes does not reflect Jesus.  Blasting welfare does not reflect Jesus.  What will reflect Jesus?  Showing people how to best use the funds they have been given reflects Jesus.  How?  You are taking the time to teach them something.  You are connecting.  You are showing compassion instead of just throwing a twenty down and walking away.  This is Jesus in action.  Money is not the gift.  Compassion is the gift.  I know handouts will not solve the poverty problem in this country, and realize they are all too often abused, but I do know that simple respect and decency towards one another can move mountains.

“No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or  will be devoted to one, and despise the other.  Man cannot serve both God and wealth.”  Matthew 6:24

We live in a fallen world in need of love, grace, compassion, and mercy.  Are you going to serve your money and demand that your “gift” is spent in the way that you think is best?  Or are you going to go the extra mile and lead those who are struggling to a better way?   Do you have faith that God will use your time to help those who need it the most.  Are you going to pout over those who misuse the welfare, or are you going to show them a better way?

Please take the meme down, unlike it,  and be thankful that God isn’t showing the same measure of grace to us as we are showing to those on food stamps.

*For those of you who live in the southern Oklahoma area and are in need of assistance, or know someone who is,  there are resources available to educate you in how to properly run your home using your income.   Budgeting, meal planning, price matching, and couponing classes are free to anyone who is just trying to be the best stewards of what they have been given.  

Click on the link below about how the homeless shop using welfare:

“Premature” Salvation & What it Costs

I have had many conversations with people who feel a misplaced responsibility for their salvation.  I all too often hear, “Did I do it right?  Were my motives right?” as if it were something we had the power to give to ourselves.   I was thirteen years old when I decided to be baptized.  I was sitting next to my grandma, passing off a tray of juice and crackers.   I then had a thought.  “I’m a teenager now.  I should get to do this with the adults.  I know who Jesus is, and if I get baptized I will get to do communion!”  So I leaned over and told my grandma I wanted to get baptized.  I was dunked,  called a Christian, given a pamphlet, and was happy to partake in the  juice and crackers.   No one studied with me.  No one questioned my motives.  The next Sunday, I was in the pew, doodling in my notebook, not caring what God had to say to me, a “baptized believer.”   This pattern continued the rest of my teen years.

It was not until I was twenty years old that my heart felt the need to become a child of God.   I whole- heartedly fell head over heels in love with a man called Jesus.   When I went down into the water,  I knew that I was burying a life of sin, being reborn, and accepting the gift of eternal life that Jesus had purchased for me with His blood.   I became the bride of Christ, and out of thankfulness, dedicated all I was to Jesus and His calling for me.baptism23

Why do we feel the need to dunk people in the watery grave of baptism so quickly when they ask about Jesus or baptism?   I know, through God’s word, that my baptism saved me, and saves others (1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38).  But I also know that the act of baptism alone does not save us.   Jesus saves us.  Grace saves us (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9).   If Jesus isn’t a part of our baptism, we are just getting wet.  Jesus was not a part of the baptism I experienced at thirteen.  At thirteen, I wanted the communion juice and crackers.  At twenty, I wanted Jesus in my life and ruling over it.

I  studied the Bible with a teenage girl once or twice a week for about six months.   Someone approached me about the study, and questioned why she hadn’t been baptized yet.  They meant well, but the push was there.  I had a broader goal in mind.  One that I told the girl at the beginning of our studies, and that was to help her fall in love with Jesus and want to become His bride.   I didn’t want to teach baptism, I wanted to teach the gospel.  She knew about Jesus, and had gone to church as a child, but didn’t really understand the magnitude of the gift He wanted to give her.   Over time, I saw the girl’s heart  transformed by the love she was experiencing.  I saw joy, I saw fear, and I saw hope.  I saw a relationship being formed.  I saw a love being born.  I saw a thirst for Jesus.

 I  saw this young woman come to understand the power of grace.

She realized that sin separated her from Jesus, the man she had come to love and respect, and she wanted to do something about it.   She fully comprehended that love and grace saved her, and it was hers to accept through baptism.   And she did.  It was a beautiful thing to see her come up from the water.

 Are we taking the time to listen to what people need instead of giving them what we think they need?  People need Jesus.   If you baptize someone who doesn’t grasp how much they need Jesus, what did you accomplish?

When I married Jake, I was marrying the man that I loved.  I didn’t come into the marriage thinking, “Well, I don’t know him too well, but I hope that by being married to him, I will be able to honor our marriage, and fall in love with him in time.”   This is what we are seeing with “premature baptism”.  I don’t know Jesus too well, but hopefully by making this commitment I will learn.  Do we?

 If  love and desire for Jesus is not there in the beginning, how can it possibly grow after we get “wet”?

I deeply loved Jake the day we were married.  I wanted to be his, and wanted him to be mine.   Our love and desire for one another keeps our marriage strong, not the vows in and of themselves.  This same desire is vital to those we lead to Christ.  Take the time to allow these people to fall in love with Jesus.

 Do not push them into a marriage with Jesus for the sake of urgency and duty.

When we put salvation on people’s shoulders as a duty they must perform as soon as possible to “get saved,” we are taking away the grace of the sacrifice and placing a burden on people’s souls.  Salvation isn’t a duty on a checklist.   How are they going to stay committed to a marriage with Jesus if love isn’t present?   Love drove Jesus to save us.   Love for Jesus will draw people to Him.  Love will bind the covenant.  Love will mature and sustain.

No one who is in a committed relationship with Jesus should feel unsure about their salvation.  His grace does not allow this.

If we start worrying a little less about the urgency of baptism, and start focusing on helping others really experience Jesus’ love on a more intimate level, we will have a lot more devoted followers with an understanding of what grace is,  how it works, and how Jesus’ grace saves us.