Monday, December 24, 2012

My Loss is Dad's Gain

     My quiet, southern daddy passed away on November 2. With all of us around him, we witnessed his last breath. We witnessed the moment that he was ushered into His presence. Intimate, painful, profound, peaceful...so many words I could use to describe that exact moment. So, Christmas this year has taken on a deeper meaning for me. If it was just about Jesus' birth there would be nothing to celebrate BUT because it is about His birth AND resurrection, Christmas means everything. My dad was a Christ follower and because of this he is experiencing no more pain, no more suffering. He is experiencing the BEST Christimas he has ever had. I am saddened that he won't be with me this Christmas morning but I KNOW that my loss is definitely his gain...and this brings me much comfort and peace. May you know the comfort and peace that comes from knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. He changes everything!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Life-Giving LeadHERship Tip: Making Tough Decisions

Something caught my eye for the first time the other day. I was reading 1 Samuel where David and his men were in a cave taking refuge from Saul's army when Saul himself shows up in the cave. David's men automatically assumed that it was God's will for David to kill Saul. They based their argument on the following:
  • Saul showed up in the very cave that David and his men were hiding.
  • David had a perfect opportunity to kill his enemy and become King. After all, he was God's anointed king.
HOWEVER...David didn't listen to the "noise from the crowd." Instead he made his decision based on principle. He knew the consequences for killing God's anointed leader and chose to let Saul go.

Often as leaders, we have to make unpopular decisions. Perhaps everyone around us is saying to go in one direction but we don't have the peace that surpasses all understanding. At times like this, we need to quiet ourselves and listen for that still small voice and then we can move forward in faith.

Perhaps you are facing a difficult decision and everyone around is saying one thing - just like David's soldiers - but you are not sure. Take a break. Go to a quiet place. Spend time in prayer and connect with the Lord. Once you have peace, move forward in the direction that you believe God is leading you. Like David, live a life based on biblical principles and you will fulfill the plans God has for you!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Come On, Jump Over the Fence!



A petite, blond haired, young Amish girl described her world as contained in the confines of the fence on her family's property. Eyes peering over the fence, she declared, "I just want to jump the fence!" The longing of her heart was to jump the fence and see a world other than her own.

I connected with this young woman because I too want to jump a fence.My longing is not to see another world, but to experience audacious faith; to jump the fence into audacious faith! I want God to stir up my spirit, pour out His presence and reveal His glory in my family, my profession, my ministry, my life. I want a God-dream so big that I can't - NO WAY, NO HOW- accomplish it without Him. I no longer want to settle for mundane, ordinary Christianity, but I want an extraordinary, mind-blowing, out-of-the-box adventure in God.

So here I go...I'm gonna jump the fence...won't you jump too?


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life-Giving Tip: Church Gypsy

     Sitting across from my friend at Starbucks, she said something that caused me to crack up. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. She said she used to be a church gypsy, bouncing from church to church, collecting church coffee cups along the way. Eventually, my friend, the church gypsy,  settled into a thriving, life-giving church.
     This made me think about Hebrews 10:25, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another  - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." The beauty of being committed to a local church is having  people in our lives who really know us, accept us, and love us making our troubles tolerable and our successes worth celebrating. BUT and this is a big but...you have to be willing to stick it out through thick and thin and this takes time. Time to cultivate authentic, life-giving, loving relationships. Don't miss out, settle in for the long-haul and reap the benefits of being a fully devoted follower of Christ by being fully devoted to the Body of Christ.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life-Giving LeadHERship Tip: Letting Go

Simply put: letting go is one of the hardest things we do in life. Just this week I've had several friends experience some sort of letting-go. One friend sent her son to kindergarten, another sent her son to college, one friend buried her mom, and one friend lost his job. One question I am often asked is when is it time to let go of a friendship, and after many years of working with women both as a therapist and in women's ministry, here are a few guidelines that I typically follow:

  1. When a friend oversteps her boundaries after you have clearly articulated your needs and concerns.
  2. When you find yourself investing in the friendship more than the other person.
  3. If a friend engages in negative behaviors such as gossip or bashing her husband.
  4. Sometimes, after a wonderful season of friendship, a friendship comes to a close just because of the rhythm of life.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."

I would love to hear your story of letting go.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Secret

I hung up the phone in amazement. During our phone conversation my friend shared that her husband lost his job that afternoon yet her last words to me before hanging up were, "Life is hard, but God is good." This wasn't just a phrase that she throws around easily. This woman really means it and lives it. She's endured chronic health and financial issues yet she is able to say with conviction and authenticity, "Life is hard, but God is good." She maintains joy when she could be angry, peace instead of strife, and hope instead of despair. But how? How does she manage to embrace life instead of curling up in a ball and watching it pass by?  The secret. She has learned the secret to life...just like Paul.  Phillippians 4:12-13 (NLT), "I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." This is the secret to living.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Hi's and Lo's of Ministry: Forgiveness is a Choice

Hands down some of the best moments in my life have come from ministry BUT some of the most painful have come from ministry too. Pain is part of the gig but it is especially difficult when it comes from those you serve with, your colleagues in ministry. Forgiveness is a choice. I can choose to sit in a pit of bitterness or choose grace, mercy and ultimately freedom from the prison of unforgiveness. If you find yourself in a ministry lo here are steps you can take toward forgiveness. They have helped me and I hope they help you too.
  • First, acknowledge the pain. Remember that anger is a secondary emotion. Figure out the primary emotions that are driving the anger: rejection, disrespected, betrayed, etc.
  • Study Joseph's life; notice how he dealt with offense.
  • Pray for the people that have hurt you.
  • If necessary, have a conversation with those that have hurt you to seek understanding.
  • Choose, choose, choose to forgive. Let it go. Move forward. Refuse to let the hurt trap you in a pit and keep you from the adventure God has for you. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love Trumps All! Peeled off the Wall


I had a reminder this week of the value of having someone in your life helping you to navigate through tricky leadership waters. I had a tsunami hit my well-laid out plans, and my first response was to hit the proverbial wall – which I did – and my husband peeled me off, helped me to process the issue, and then I was able to move forward. My goal was to approach the situation with the following mindset:

·         Generosity – Wanting to understand the reason behind the miscommunication, and extend grace and mercy to those involved.

·         Authenticity – While wanting to be life-giving, I also wanted to convey my concerns about the issue.

·         Grace-filled – I wanted to extend grace and mercy to the people involved; valuing the people over the project.

I hope I succeeded. These things are never easy, but what a great opportunity to follow the second greatest commandment that Jesus taught in Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love trumps everything!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No Pit So Deep That Jesus Isn't Deeper Still

"There is no pit that Jesus isn't deeper still."  Betsy TenBoom

Ascending the bridge, we noticed flashing lights at the highest point. The search and rescue helicopter hoovered overhead, and the coast guard boat was circling in the water . As we drove closer to the flashing lights, we saw two police cars guarding an empty car. The license plate was covered with paper to keep passing drivers from investigating the identity of the jumper. Hopelessness, the beast of the soul,had claimed another victim.

 Hopelessness causes despair and depression and is rooted in disappointment brought on by loss of a dream, a job, a relationship. Physiological depression can also cause depression.  Research indicates that women feel depression at much higher levels than most males but because females are more verbal and more connected relationally we are able to work through our feelings. Whereas, men withhold their emotional pain and suicide rates are higher in men than women.

Depression is common for women at certain periods in her life: after childbirth, during menopause, major life changes.  If you find yourself feeling hopeless and depressed, reach out to your friends, loved ones, your church, or counselors. Don't let depression rob you of the abundant life that God has for you. Get connected in life-giving, healthy relationships with other women. Small groups are a great way to connect, to feel apart of a community of believers, and to grow in the knowledge and grace of His love. He loves you so.  Remember, there is no pit so deep that Jesus isn't deeper still.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life-Giving Marriage: The Power of My Words

While at a marriage encounter, I was reminded of the power my words have in the life of my husband. Proverbs 18: 21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." I have the power to build him up or tear him down. When my husband, Mark, does something that I don't agree with, I have the choice to criticize and lash out with unkind and cruel words or calmly and respectfully discuss the issue. I have done both. And sadly, I have hurt my husband with unkind words just to make a point or to prove I was right. But, over the years I have learned that my love for him is greater than getting my point across. When chosen carefully, my words can turn a situation around; turn what could be an argument into a sweet moment. He trusts me with his heart, his dreams, his insecurities and his strengths. I need to cherish him like the priceless gift that he is...and cherish him with my words.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life-Giving LeadHERship Tip: What a Privilege!

While having breakfast with my pastor's wife, she said something I hope I never forget: "Ministry is such a privilege." For her these words are not mere fluff. She knows a life that has been tested; experiencing both the joys of ministry as well as the pain that comes with giving up your life for others. And yet she is able to express with passion and genuine joy, "Ministry is a such a privilege." Along with her husband, they left their family and friends, moved to another state to fulfill the call of God and planted a life-giving church where thousands of lives have been touched by the Gospel of Christ.

     The Apostle Paul had a similar reverence for ministry. In Acts 20, the reader finds Paul saying good-bye for the last time to the leaders of Ephesus. Knowing that he would not see them again, he expressed the following final thoughts:
  • Ephesians 20:21: "I have had one message for Jews and Creeks alike-the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus."
  • Ephesians 20:24: "But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."
  • Ephesians 20:28, "So guard yourselves and God's people. Feed and shepherd God's flock-his church, purchased with his own blood - over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders."
  • Ephesians 20:32, "You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive."
      Paul focused on salvation, the importance of finishing the work God gave him, caring for the church, and reminding his leaders of Christ's words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  
    This is a great reminder for all of us who minister to others whether it is in our homes,  jobs, our communities, or our churches. Ministry is a privilege. It's not easy - but fills us with great purpose and joy!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life-Giving Parenting

 As mothers and mentors we have the greatest opportunity to be the God carriers to the next generation. Recently, I was speaking at a MOPS group and I was encouraged by the passion of the moms to raise their kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ. 

 My two oldest children are now adults and there is NOTHING that brings me more joy than to see them growing in their faith. When I had our first son, I asked some moms who were a little further ahead of me in their parenting journey what they did to raise happy, healthy children. These are a few priceless tips that I learned from them and now I pass them on to you. Hope they are a blessing to you!

Capture their hearts by spending time each day with each child. Do not use this time to discipline your child but to listen- really listen - to his/her heart.

Study your children and know their gifts, passions, weaknesses and challenges.

ALWAYS speak to the potential within your children.

Remember that relationship trumps rules.

Make sure that your children know that you are 100% for them.

Model a life-giving, loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

PRAY daily for and with your children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Life-Giving LeadHERship Tip: The Choices You Make, Make You!

 This past Friday, I had the awesome privilege of attending Chik-Fil-A's annual Leadercast.This year's theme highlighted the power of choice. The choices we make have the power to influcence our families, our  organizations, our communitites, our ministries, and even the world.
I was reminded of the importance of not loosing sight of the small choices I make everyday. Life is made up of small, seemingly insignificant choices but the cummulation of these choices, make up my life and yours too. For example, every time I forego having my quiet time, I miss the opportunity to hear the Father's voice, sit in His presence and focus on my internal world. If I do this day after day, I risk becoming hardened to His influcence in my life, and that is a risk I am not willing to take. So, my devotional time is unnegotiable.
 My time with my children and my husband is also unnegotiable. I need time each day to connect with them; asking them important questions about their day and affirming them. These are a few of my personal unnegotiable choices...I would love to hear some of yours!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hydrate

It was just one of those mornings. Woke up in a bad mood. Went to my closet and out of a myriad of clothes I couldn't figure out what to wear. Then I remembered that I was low on gas and would need to stop on the way to work. Small irritations in comparison with what my friend was struggling with; cancer. The night before, my husband and I spent the evening at the hospital praying for her. Frankly, discouragement filled my mind. This past week, I had heard too many stories of heartache: health issues, broken marriages, and financial problems. Each story was like a cement brick building a wall of doubt and discouragment. My soul was thirsty and in need of a deep drink of water filled with God's word. My soul needed hydration and maybe yours does too. Here are a few scriptures to saturate your thirsty soul:

Hosea 6:3, " So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will ill come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."

Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."




                          

Sunday, April 22, 2012


The Titanic Anniversary: Fragrance Arises Out of the Stench of Death

The curator walked into the room filled with artifacts from Titanic: plates, shoes, silver. Over the years he had become desensitized to the stench that develops when items have been submerged in salt water for decades. No one knows the artifacts more intimately than this man. He is responsible for the care of each item, knowing the details of each piece; the crevices, marks, each item number. On this particular day, a new item had been retrieved and placed in the room; a small bottle half filled with perfume. Anticipation filled his mind as he gingerly opened the cap with gloved hands and out of the bottle came the aroma of flowers.The smell permeated his nostrils and the area where he stood. Overcome with emotion, he wept as he realized that out of the depths of the sea, a beautiful reminder of life had emerged.

This description reminded me of 2 Corinthians 2:15 and 16, “For we (Christ-followers) are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life…” Life-giving leaders are aware of the aroma they leave with those that they influence: your family, your colleagues, the team you lead, and the people you serve. Be a sweet aroma, a reminder of Christ’s love, mercy and grace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Life-Giving LeadHERship Moment: Seek Out Leaders


SEEK OUT LEADERS

       If you are a woman in leadership responsible for raising up other leaders, then I invite you to consider the following:

     As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew...and said to them, "Follow me." Going on a little farther, He saw James and John...and He called them. 
   
     Don't wait for potential leaders to come to you. When you see a woman within your church that has leadership potential, or a woman that needs discipleship, connect with her and build that relationship. It's what Jesus did and He's the best example we have of leadership.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Resurrection in its Purest Form


Numinous: A Pure Experience

Since Easter is next weekend, I wanted to share an Easter story that occurred this past week in the heart of my nineteen year old son. He texted me asking if we could talk when I got home from work. Puzzled and a little nervous, I pulled in the driveway not sure of what the conversation was going to hold.

Phillip sat in the chair across from me, and with tears in his eyes, he shared with me the words that every parent longs to hear from her child, "Mom, I surrendered my life to God today. I know He is real. I've never felt like this before." Then he asked me to pray with him to accept Jesus as His Lord and Savior.

The joy...the purity of the moment...the holiness of the moment...the profoundness of the moment...I wept, he wept, and the angels rejoiced. A numinous experience had occurred in the heart of my son. He experienced the pure, unconditional love of God; His grace and mercy flooded his very being.

I would love to hear about the moment you became His. I hope you have a numinous experience this Easter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Life-Giving Leadership: Taking Care of Yourself



Like many of you reading this post, my days are packed with work, family, and ministry responsibilities. As a ministry leader and therapist, I often hear from women, "I'm just so tired. I could use a break!" But I also hear, "I can't take a break right now. Maybe when everything settles down." Here's a reminder: Jesus delights when we draw strength from Him. When we freely receive from Him, then we are freely able to give to others (Matthew 10:8). So, take a break, get alone with Him, and allow Him to refresh you, strengthen you, renew your vision.
Here's a few ideas to consider on your break:

Commit your "break" to the Lord. Spend time reading the Word and books that encourage self-reflection. Here's a few of my favorites: Sibyl Towner's One Life Maps, Foster's Celebration of Discipline, and Julie Gillies' soon-to-be-released book, The Prayer Spa for a Woman's Soul

Do a relationship inventory: How is my relationship with the Lord? How is my relationship with my husband, children, and the people God has called me to serve?

Ask yourself the following questions: How is my thought life? Am I keeping healthy boundaries? Am I saying "no" to those things, people, projects that draw me away from my priorities?

Give yourself permission to dream BIG. When I was a little girl, I used lay on the ground and look up at the clouds and watch them move across the sky. I was mesmerized by their shapes and their very existence. As my mind explored their wonders, I would begin to dream about my life. Allow yourself the time to dream. Give yourself a break. Freely receive from Him so you can freely give to others.

I would love to hear from you. Please send me your ideas on how you are renewed and refreshed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A strange dichotomy...

As I was researching stats for an article, I came across the following info: while there are more women in executive leadership positions within the church than ever before, and more women leading non-profits than men, more than 50,000 women stop attending church every year. As a women's leader in my local church, that info saddens me. I am curious, what are you doing in your local church to reach out to women and keep them engaged?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life-Giving Parenting: Parent to Potential!

     Believing in a child and helping her to develop her potential is one of the greatest opportunities for a life-giving parent. The following story illustrates that the most powerful parenting tool we have is our words.
     Wracked with insecurities and self-doubt, a young woman found herself sitting in my office seeking consolation. Quietly crying, she recounted growing up with emotionally distant parents. She could not recall one encouraging word or one act of support from her mom or dad. On the contrary, she had memories full of criticalness which encased her in a prison of self-doubt and insecurities. If only her parents had known the havoc they were inflicting on their daughter’s soul. If only they had believed in her and encouraged her they could have unlocked her potential, rendering her confident and secure. Instead, their daughter was broken and deeply wounded.

     The most POWERFUL parenting tool we have is our words. James 3:6 says, “…and (the tongue) sets on fire the course of life…”  The very existence of one’s life is set into motion by words. This young woman had not reached her full potential because her potential had not been “spoken to” by the people that mattered most, her parents. The message that their words conveyed to their precious daughter was, “You can’t do anything right.” “You are a bother to us.” “Why did we have you?” “You are one big mistake.” “You will never amount to anything.”
     The direction of her life would have been much different if she had heard these encouraging words, “You are awesome!” “What a blessing you are to us.” “We are so proud of you.” “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” “We are one hundred percent for you!”
     During our time together, I spoke words of encouragement, focused on her strengths, and helped her to establish her identity in Christ through experiencing the transformative power of Scripture. By having someone in her corner cheering her on, she began to experience a confidence that she had been lacking her entire life.
     It is imperative that as life-giving parents, we create an atmosphere of blessing in our homes. Words that do not shine the light of Christ increase the darkness. We have all experienced families where the parents criticized and shamed their children which served to create angry, insecure children. Sadly, these parents missed opportunities to enable their children to fulfill their potential. James 3:6 says, “The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark…the tongue…can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

     Wise parents use their words to build up their children and create an affirming environment in their home. Although we may be tempted to be critical and negative, the antidote for this behavior is learning to bless. Make your words life-giving, full of mercy and grace. With our words we have the power to set our children up for success. So, cheer your children on! Be their greatest fan!  What are your thoughts?
    

    



    

Sunday, January 8, 2012

RUTH IS MY HERO!

    I was reading the story of Ruth the other day and I realized I could learn a few things from this woman! In order to really appreciate her story, you have to understand a few things.  First, Boaz, the owner of the barley field, represents God in the story. Second, Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law by her deceased husband, represents the Holy Spirit. Third, Ruth represents you and I.  Naomi counsels her daughter to REST at the feet of Boaz, and as she rested, Boaz moved on her behalf and blessed her with more barley than she could imagine.
     Here is what I gleaned from this story:  when I rest in the Lord and trust Him with my plans, projects, dreams, and ideas, then He moves on my behalf and I am blessed! As I REST and enjoy His love for me, He works on my behalf.  He worked on Ruth's behalf as she RESTED, He will work on my behalf as I REST and He will work on your behalf as you REST.  What a BEAUTIFUL exchange!  
     Can you share about a time when you have rested and waited and God moved in your situation?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Ahead: 2012!

It’s that time again….time to reflect on the past – put it to bed and focus on what is ahead (Phillipians 3:13). Every year I ask the Lord for a word to stand on. I find this a more successful strategy than a resolution which I never can keep especially the “weight” kind!   My word this year is Psalm 44:3, “For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them.  But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them. You are my King, O God.”

I would love to hear what your word is for the coming year!  Happy New Year!