His Word, Kids/Parenting, Soul Relationships

There is Power in the Name

Fear…there are a lot of feelings that this one word can elicit in someone when they hear it.


For those of you who have the Proverbs 31 Ministry First 5 app, you know that today, Lysa TerKeurst writes about Matthew 1:20 and fear. The fear Joseph had when he found out Mary was pregnant – and it wasn’t his child. Fear of the shame that would be heaped upon him by the towns people. Fear of the anger toward Mary for ‘stepping out’ of their marriage. Fear of the confusion he felt about the circumstances.

These are all tactics that the enemy uses to try to incapacitate God’s children. To keep believers from accepting their God-given assignment. To prevent us from fully walking out in our purpose.

Lysa further goes on to say that, just as in Joseph’s day, the enemy wants us to be afraid today. And it’s not the good, healthy kind of fear that keeps us from dare-devil stunts and protects us. No…not this fear. He wants to keep us tangled in his lies, stifled in the discomfort of living without purpose, and suffocating in the fear of the darkness he covers us with.

While we are otherwise occupied by focusing on fear, he is stealing our joy. The gospel of John tells us in chapter ten that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The thief John is referring to is the devil. These are the words of Jesus, so He is who we will find a full life in.

He is stealing our purpose, he is killing our present moments, he is destroying our dreams.

It’s a total God thing that I read this today. See, just yesterday I was dealt a devastating blow. I mean, this was one of those below-the-belt sucker punches that not only knocks the wind out of you, but completely buckles your legs until you are on your knees on the ground. I mean when I first got the news, I felt every emotion on the spectrum. My first thought was, ‘Who the hell do they think they are?’ (yes, good church-going, Bible-reading, praying-momma, me had that thought). My next thought was, ‘Is any ounce of what they are claiming true?’ Even though I knew, deep down, it wasn’t.

While I’m ashamed these were my first two thoughts, I can say that I didn’t linger here very long before reminding myself that The Lord has this. He has this entire situation in the palm of His hand. He already knows the outcome. And, nothing, no NOTHING will come to me without first going through Him to me.

While knowing all of these facts, there is a part of me, however small, that is still living in FEAR about the situation. There is the perpetual ‘what if’ that keeps running through my mind. Because this is where the enemy wants me to unpack and camp out. He wants me to live in fear…so that I can forget about the purpose God has for me…so that I can focus on the ‘what if’ rather than the mission that God has given me, the calling He has on my life…so that I can NOT focus on the life-giving love around me daily.

The other thing that I need to remind myself of daily is that I’ve been here before. Well, maybe not in this EXACT place, but I’ve been in a very similar place. Where I was fearful of the outcome. And guess what? God delivered me from that. He kept me in the palm of His hand. When I was fretting about how the resolution would come, God already had it worked out.

So, leaning on the words found in Philippians 4:6-7, I will not be anxious about anything, but I will present my requests to God, and then the peace that surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

The final comment that Lysa makes, and the nifty image that illustrates today’s lesson is this: ‘Proclaiming the name of Jesus brings power, protection, and a perspective that crushes fear.’

When the enemy tempts me to be fearful, when he allures me into worrying, when he seduces me into thinking nothing is going to turn out, I am just going to say, ‘Jesus help me,’ and I will feel the tension leave my body. I will feel the peace come to rest on my shoulders. And I will remember there is power in the name of Jesus.

His Word, Kids/Parenting, Series



Brave…there are movies about it, songs about it, quotes about it. But what does brave really look like?

Merriam-Webster defines brave as: having or showing courage. Ok. I think we can all agree that those who serve in our armed forces are brave. They exhibit courage in the way they leave their families for an unknown period of time, go across the world, and stand in the front lines, all in the name of freedom. Yes, yes…those are very courageous individuals.

I would say the same for those who serve in the organization Doctors without Borders and other such organizations. They go to some of the most remote locations in the world, face diseases and death, and most of them do it without even flinching.

So, what about those in our daily lives?

What about the woman who married the man of her dreams…the one who points her to live more like her Savior…the one who keeps her laughing along the way…and they can’t have biological children of their own? They’ve tried everything in their power, and yet it’s just not happening. So, they go an alternate route. See, they both love children and are amazing people…so they foster…and the Lord sees fit to allow them to adopt one of their foster children. Then, through events that can only be described as miraculous, they end up with two more children that become theirs. This woman, who thought she would never be a mom, now celebrates life with 3 boys (not including her husband – cause we all know – or at least I’ve been told – that, as amazing as they can be, they are still boys at heart, no matter how many years they’ve been alive.)

She’s brave…she waited and trusted in the Lord and now they are seeing the fruits of many years of prayer and faithfulness in His word.

Or what about the woman who married the man she went back to at the end of every. single. relationship. She finally decides that yes, indeed, he is the one. The ‘catch’? They both have sons from previous relationships. And step-parenting is never easy. As someone recently told me, there is no manual for this. But she puts on her brave face every day and is the best step-mother she can be to her husbands son. Which is no easy feat, when you consider the boy’s mother…but that’s a different story for a different day.

She’s brave…she puts one foot in front of the other day after day after day, in the hopes of making a positive difference in the lives of all those around her.

There’s the woman who is pregnant with her second child and decides to give her life to Jesus. She is baptized – pregnant. WOW! Now yes, we all talk a good talk about all sin being equal and such, but there it was…right in the faces of those in the pews watching her being baptized. Not as easy to hide on a Sunday morning as say, gossiping, now is it? This same woman approaches each day with a smile on her face, despite recently experiencing what can only be described as a debilitating encounter with depression.

She’s brave…she faces her days and her ‘haters’ knowing God is on her side…and that with Him in her corner, there’s nothing she can’t face.

And then there’s one of my personal favorites. The woman who has faced addiction head on and has. not. backed. down. She was in a position to be locked away – either in rehab or a jail cell of her own making – and she made some very courageous decisions to change her life for the better. And she has done an absolutely amazing job. She is one of the best mothers I know, and she shows up every. single. day. for her husband and her kids. Where she used to just show up physically – and sometimes, even that was questionable – now she shows up emotionally, mentally, and physically.

She’s brave…she could have very easily taken the same path she had in the past, made the same decisions she always had, followed in the paths of family members before her…but she didn’t. She grabbed addiction by the horns and said, YOU. WILL. NOT. OWN. ME. ANY. LONGER. She reclaimed her life.

Then there’s the woman who grew up without her dad or a father figure in her life. She experienced the proverbial, ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’ cliche. She made some bad choices. She hurt some people – some very badly. She didn’t honor her marriage or her God. And then Jesus grabbed ahold of her. And she wrestled with the old and the new. And she got pregnant. And when she told the father, he said he would stand by her no matter what she chose. As if there were any real choice to make…so she chose life and she had that baby. Oh, and that man who promised to stand by her side? Yeah, he’s long gone. He makes an appearance every few years. Rocks the boat, hurts his daughter, then leaves again. She still wrestled with the old and the new. And she got pregnant again. By someone different. And she chose life – again. See, even though she wrestled with the old and the new, she knew, to her very core, that the Lord was with her and He would guide and protect her…she only needed to surrender to Him – surrender her life, her will, her dreams. Because He will make them greater than you could ever imagine.

See, when she was young, she moved around a lot. And so, when the first pregnancy was revealed to her, she knew, down in the very core of who she was, that she wanted to have a home of her own…so her kids wouldn’t have to move around as she did. And yeah, along the way, she tried to birth an Ishmael once, or maybe even twice…but the Lord wouldn’t have it. And in March of 2012, the Lord fulfilled His promises. He made that deep-seated dream a reality. He put her and her two kids in a home that, she’s still amazed by every. single. day.

Oh, and about her dad who wasn’t there for her? Yeah, talk about a story for God’s glory! They have reconciled and now he is the best grandpa her kids could ask for. So, don’t tell me that God can’t redeem broken relationships. Don’t tell me that He doesn’t have an ultimate plan. Because if any one thing had changed about the circumstances from her past, they might not have a relationship now, and God wouldn’t have gotten the glory!

Brave? Uh yeah…she’s brave…but it’s funny, because I wouldn’t have thought of myself as brave before now.

And then there’s my favorite. Probably because it has so much meaning to me and is so personal. A few decades ago, there was a 15 year old girl, at prom for the first time. She and her date go a little far physically…maybe he pushed her a little…maybe it was completely consensual…maybe she pushed him. Who really knows, and does it really matter? No. Because from that one night, a life was conceived. And this 15 year old girl, having no idea what was in store for her, chose life for her child amid all of the voices in her own life. There were voices telling her to choose life…there were voices telling her it would be too hard…too much…too – whatever. But that brave young girl gave birth to another brave young girl. And life was never the same. For the mom or for the daughter. See, that’s my mom’s story. And I know from experience, that there is no training manual for this thing called motherhood. There’s only your gut instincts and the Lord’s gentle guidance to rely on. And there’s a big difference in doing it at 28 for the first time and doing it at 16 for the first time. See, who is really prepared for the responsibility of a child at 16? It’s a child having a child…literally.

Brave? To me, this woman, my mother, is the epitome of brave. She was then, she is now, and I’m pretty sure she will forever be. She is the rock I rely on here on Earth. I’m not sure where I would be without her. See, her own parents are aging and she’s right there, in the midst of it all, helping them, being there for them, attending doctor appointments and procedures and just doing what she does. And then there are her kids – who still depend on her to talk to, to be there, to cheer on their own kids in whatever activities they are involved in. And she does all of this with grace. She always has a smile for everyone she meets, no matter what may be going on inside her. And will we ever really know what’s going on inside her?

Each of these stories I’ve shared today are unique. They are all true. They are all personal to me…some more than others. But in each of these stories, we find that people, women in particular, are brave in their own ways.

I’ve seen a quote before that says something to the effect of, “Sometimes courage isn’t the loud roar, it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.'” And that is never more true than in the stories of these women.

And as the quote says, “It’s not that I’m that brave, but that God is that big.” – Susie Eller

Because He is…BIG.

His Word, Kids/Parenting

Nature…or Nurture?

Recently, Emma got sick. It was no fun…for me or for her.

When I took her to the doctor, one of the first questions they asked me was if either of us had been out of the country within the last 21 days. I thought back to our recent trip to Chicago. While technically, it wasn’t geographically out of the country, I certainly felt as though I were in a foreign land.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am a bona fide country girl. I belong in the city like “Fifty Shades of Grey” belongs in the children’s literature section. Not a good choice.

But I digress…as I’m sitting here in the Barnes & Noble Cafe, listening to the typical bookstore music selection, with my daughter next to me, reading away, I begin to allow my thoughts to wander…

You know how they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Well, I believe that’s true in both good and in bad situations.

When someone has lived their life and been surrounded by negativity, then negativity will prevail. The same can be said for the opposite.

This takes us back to the age old question of nature or nurture. Is a child’s behavior a result of their inherent nature or is it a result of their environment growing up? For the most part, I think that children learn what they see. If they see giving, then they will be giving in nature. If they see greed, then they will have a greedy nature.

On this trip to Chicago, we got around much in the same manner they did in Biblical times…on foot. If you’ve been to the Michigan Avenue area of Chicago, you can imagine some of the sights we saw and experiences we encountered while walking.

Huge storefronts for retail giants like Nike, Tiffany & Co., The Disney Store, and Under Armour covered the street fronts. Clearly, this is THE place to be if you’re wanting to partake in a little retail therapy.

It was on this street in this big city where I felt like a fish out of water, that I realized {hold onto your seats here, folks} my children HAVE been listening to me…

While waiting for one of the walk signs to change, we met a man begging for money. This simple event changed the entire nature of our trip. The first to notice was Elijah. He began to tear up. He was upset because he had found a $5 bill in the hotel lobby earlier in the trip. He had tried to find the rightful owner of it, but couldn’t. At the time, I told him to hold onto it, that God would present him with an opportunity to bless someone with it. And here, he felt, was that perfect opportunity, and yet he couldn’t find the $5.

My nephew was also visibly shaken and began crying. Emma was the third to be affected. By the next street, I had two sobbing children on my hands. Elijah was disturbed that the man apparently didn’t have enough to eat. While Emma’s sobs came in between mutterings of, ‘We have so much, Momma, and he has so little.’

I was able to stop in sidewalk traffic, which is no easy feat on this heavily traveled path, long enough to tell the kids that God was so happy with their hearts right now. That He sees how burdened they are by the tragedy of the poor and oppressed. We also took some time to pray for him and any others that we may encounter.

For you mommas out there, you can imagine how much my heart was bursting with pride in my children. Pride that they ARE hearing me. Pride that they are allowing God to work in and mold their little kid hearts. Pride that this one event, shows me that they can be more affected by nurture than nature.

The three of us then agreed to find a store where we could find food to buy and hand out to anyone who may be in need. We found a Walgreens later in the trip. We bought water, bananas, and granola bars for two people.

I have to admit, my flesh began to get weak. I was annoyed that, while this was a great idea, spurred on by my children, naturally, I was the one carrying the bags for most of the trip. {Emma did her fair share of carrying them.} But every time I began to allow this to creep into my thinking, I remembered the reactions of my children.

We ultimately found two people to bless with these bags. And Elijah eventually found his $5 and was able to pass that along as well.

During the course of the events of this 24 hours, I had several thoughts running through my mind. Of course, being an adult, and being jaded by people, my natural reaction was to simply pass these people by without another thought. There were times when I thought, why would I give them any money, they’re probably just going to spend it on drugs or alcohol or cigarettes.

This was a possibility the kids and I even discussed. But then I reminded myself, and them, that we are to give as God calls us. It’s not our place to judge how the receiver uses it. Having said that, I do believe that God will give us a spirit of discernment regarding our giving.


If you’ve made it this far in the post I need to tell you that I’m not sharing all of this with you to pat myself on the back. I’m not trying to bring attention to myself. What I am trying to do is remind you that God’s word will not return void. He WILL accomplish His goals, whatever they may be.

I think that kids learn what they see. I have tried very hard to model a generous spirit to my children. Not so I can brag, but because people have been so generous to me. I want my kids to know that if you pay it forward, it really can make an impact in the lives of others.

And, continuing the verse in the graphic, in Luke 6:38, we find a reminder that, “The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”