Saturday, March 10, 2018

When You're Not Okay

A few weeks ago, I met a friend for lunch. I sat down and she said, “I’m not doing well . . .” She proceeded to tell me what was going on in her life. I loved her honesty. She knew it was okay to not be okay with me.

A few months back another friend did the same. We planned to attend her son’s birthday party, but the day of, my son was tired and was being Such. A. Grouch. So much so that he didn’t want to go the party, so we decided to forgo it because of his behavior. I texted my friend and apologized that we wouldn’t make it after all. 

She immediately called me back, crying. She asked if we could please come, as not many children had been able to make it and her son was disappointed. She said her mother-in-law had died the day before everyone was feeling tender and vulnerable.

I assured her that yes, we’d be there. I explained to William that we needed to be there for our friends, so we all shook off our bad moods, jumped in the car and spent a great afternoon with our friends who needed us. 

This week I dared myself to imitate these two friends, to be honest and brave when I’m not okay. 

Isn’t it easier to put on a smile and just pretend we’re fine—even when we’re not? Honesty is bravery in action.

So this week out at dinner with a group of my girlfriends, I was honest about the hard in my life, about the things weighing heavy on my heart. The tears came out and I didn’t cry alone. It was a beautiful moment, one I would have missed out on had I not been honest about not being okay. 

So, all this to say, let’s do all of this more often. Let’s be friends who listen and show up for our friends when they’re not okay. And let’s be friends who are honest when we’re not okay. That’s what true friendship is all about.

Here are a few practical ideas of how we can show up when our friends are struggling:

  • Send an encouraging text and repeat regularly
  • Schedule a lunch date and listen
  • Drop by with her favorite fancy coffee drink
  • Double your dinner recipe and bring over dinner one evening
  • Buy a little gift to let her know you’re thinking of her

I have quite a few dear friends who live far away. You can tweak most of these ideas to reach out to your long-distance friends who need encouragement. Recently a friend of mine sent me a $10 Starbucks gift card via e-mail when she knew I could use a chai latte. (Thanks, Tiff!)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

No Little Service

It was bittersweet to hear of Billy Graham’s passing earlier this week. While he will be missed here on earth, he’s at home with the Lord. I can only imagine what a great homecoming it was! I get chills thinking about the people Billy Graham will meet in heaven who will say they came to know Jesus because of him. Such an inspiration for all of us!

Last fall I facilitated The Purpose Driven Life Bible study at church. If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend it. One of the lessons was about service and how God created each of us to serve Him and the church. Rick Warren shared a story I had never heard before that demonstrates how essential each of us is in impacting the kingdom, no matter our spiritual gifts and how small we might make them seem. Here’s how I remember the story:

There was a tent revival happening one evening in the 1930s and the place was packed. Two teenage boys walked in and couldn’t find anywhere to sit. An usher approached them and helped them find a seat. It was at this revival that one of those teenagers, Billy Graham, came to know the Lord.

Can you imagine what would have happened if that usher had decided not to serve that night? He could have decided that ushering wasn’t significant or was beneath him. Or what if he would have dismissed finding seats for these two teenagers because he didn’t see them as valuable?

Would Billy Graham have given his life to the Lord that night had it not been for the usher who found him a seat?

We won’t ever know the answer to that question, because thankfully, that usher served cheerfully and recognized the significance of every person who walked in the door. As a result, he paved the way for Billy Graham to know God and use the gifts God had given him. The world and the kingdom of God will never be the same!

God gives us all different gifts. None are more valuable than any other, it’s we humans who tend to ascribe value and see some as more glamorous than others.  Each gift is essential in the church and in bringing others to know the Lord!

Rick Warren says, “No matter how insignificant your service might seem to you, God sees it all and he rewards it all. In God’s eyes, there is no little service.”

So, friends, be confident in your areas of gifting and passion. Serve with a cheerful heart, whether you’re up on stage, stuffing bulletins, changing diapers or leading rowdy teenagers. All of it is valuable to God!


If you’re not sure how or where you should be serving, start with something that seems interesting and see what happens. God will reveal your sweet spot to you along the way. Sometimes it changes with the seasons or it manifests itself in a different way.

I began serving at my church in my early twenties with the elementary class and then the two and three-year old class. I taught kids Bible stories, played Veggie Tales videos and tried to keep the kids from eating the Play-Doh.

I also volunteered with the women’s ministry and eventually began leading Bible studies and helping with events. Teaching and encouraging women is such a joy for me!

What has God created you to do? What special gifts has He given you? Where does He want you to serve others with your gifts?

Here are a few questions and resources to help you figure that out:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do other people say you’re good at?  
  • Who could you help by using your passions and gifts?

*Links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for your purchase.  I only ever recommend products I personally use or think you would enjoy.

I’d love to hear about where you’re serving and what God has created you to do. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Follow His Voice

This week I had a speaking engagement in the North Phoenix/Scottsdale area. I had to leave early in the morning during rush-hour traffic. Although I had a general idea of how to get there, I put the address in Apple Maps on my phone.

As I drove out of my neighborhood, it gave me directions to take a different freeway. I figured there must have been a lot of traffic on the familiar route I had intended to take, so I followed the GPS.

About 30 minutes into the drive it said, “Would you like to save 13 minutes and take an alternate route?” Yes, please!

It had me exit the freeway and then take a highway going the opposite direction of where I was headed. I started to doubt my decision: How on earth is this going to save time? I’m going the wrong way. This doesn’t seem right. But I continued following the directions.

As I drove on, I realized that I would in fact end up where I needed to go! What seemed wrong and felt uncomfortable was actually right and a better way to get there. There was virtually no traffic and it was a beautiful scenic drive. It was such a blessing!

God is sometimes like this, isn’t He? He’ll ask us to do something out of our comfort zone. He’ll ask us to take a route that doesn’t seem like it’s going where we want to go.

But often the detour is a blessing! It might get us there sooner or allow us to experience something we would have missed had we followed our own directions.

Had I gone my own way that morning, I would have sat in stop and go traffic the entire way, which probably would have made me late and stressed, not a good combo before a speaking engagement! I had such a peaceful drive and experienced the beautiful sunrise across the desert mountains, all because I listened to the GPS. I followed instead of trying to take the lead.

So friends, be open to God’s directions! Let’s listen to His voice. The next time God asks you to do something that seems scary or uncomfortable, listen to Him. Trust that He’s taking you where you need to go, even if you’re unsure. Follow Him and enjoy the journey. You’re sure to see something beautiful, I just know it!
If you’re wondering how to listen to God’s voice, I love 1 Kings 19:1-12.

A little bit of context: the prophet Elijah is on the run. He had just defeated the false prophets of Baal when Jezebel makes a threat to kill him. Exhausted and afraid, he runs away.

God knows Elijah is depleted and He provides for his physical needs, allowing him to eat and sleep soundly in a cave.

Then God says to Elijah:

“ ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. Or other translations say “a gentle whisper.”

So don’t expect for God to shout at you, He most often speaks in whispers. The world’s noisiness can easily drown Him out, that’s why it’s so important for us to regularly be still and quiet so we can hear Him.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Flush Your Worries

Thursday night one of our smoke detectors started beeping. My husband went to investigate. When he pulled the smoke detector off the ceiling, one of the wires wasn’t connected and all our smoke detectors went off! 

The kids and the dog were pretty scared, as you might imagine. He was able to make it stop, but over the course of the next hour, there was intermittent beeping as he fixed the problem. (If you watched “This is Us” on Sunday, you know we weren’t going to leave it unplugged! ) We also took the opportunity to review our fire safety plan and what we would do in the event of a real fire.

By the time it was all said and done, it was time for the kids to go to bed. But they were both shaken up and felt too scared to be alone in their bedrooms. Lila said that talking about the fire plan made her worried. William agreed. 

So I told them to take their worries out of their heart and head and put them in my hand. I grasped them tightly and then I headed to the bathroom where I flushed them down the toilet!

We all laughed about it and I told them I’d take their worries and would flush them anytime they needed it. I talked about how I don’t want them to worry, I want them to just be kids and let Mom and Dad take care of things. I assured them they could sleep soundly because we were here, they didn’t need to be afraid. 

Isn’t that just what God does for us? As our Father, He doesn’t want us to worry about anything because He’s in control. He’s going to take care of the things we need. He wants to take our worries and give us peace instead. He wants us to sleep soundly, knowing that it’s all going to be okay because He will take care of us—no matter what. 

(I know that this is easier said than done. I’ve battled with worry much of my life. But I’m learning to worry less and to trust instead, it’s not worth the loss of peace, sleep, appetite, joy or time that it steals from me. Not only that, but just as I wanted to take my children’s worries, I know that God wants to take mine too. I just need to let Him.) 

Do you have any worries you need to get rid of today? Pray about them, hand them over to God and then stop worrying about them. Trust Him instead! If you want to, you can even write down your worries and flush them! Worries are most certainly flush-worthy, aren’t they? 

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 NLT