Monday, January 30, 2017

It's Okay: Ask for Help!

Last week, I had to go to the store after work—and then Howell went with me again after I got home because of an important item I’d forgotten in my hasty visit.

I’d spent hardly any time at home between grocery store one and grocery store two. We had dinner plans after that, so we jumped from one place to the other.

We didn’t get home until after 9:00 p.m., and I still needed to make sausage balls for a work event the following day.

As we were leaving dinner, I grabbed Howell’s hand and said, “I need help!” J

Y’all. I know I say it a lot, but my husband is the best.

We got home, and he pulled out the mixing bowls while I pulled out the ingredients, and we stood—side by side—rolling 100 sausage balls.

I finished in probably half the time it would have taken me (rolling takes the most time, really), and I was grateful for his help.

That got me thinking: remember when I said that our husbands want to help; we need only ask them?

Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m trying to do it all until I’ve completely worn myself out.

Any time I ask Howell to help me with something (“Can you pick up the dry cleaning?” “Can you run to the store on your way home?” “Can you do…?”), he’s always happy to do so.

The problem is, I forget to ASK FOR HELP.

Can anyone relate?

Wives, we weren’t meant to shoulder all the weight.  

Although 1 Peter 3:7 is addressing what husbands should do, I love what Julie, our pastor's wife, pointed out last week at the women's event. She said, the Bible calls US the WEAKER vessel. It's okay. Get over it. Accept it. Be happy about it.


Sometimes I'm so busy trying to be strong, that I forget it's okay to be weak. Not only does the Lord tell us that when we're weak, He's strong, but also He gave us husbands who are strong for us. 

Culture tells women to be independent--not in need of a man. I’m all for empowering women from subjugation, but in marriage, that still must be balanced with biblical truth.

And the truth is, we were made to be a helpmate for our husbands, and our husbands are to lead and cover us.

If you feel overwhelmed today, ask your husband for help—or ask him to help you say no if there’s too much on your plate. Let him lead you—and let him share the weight. He is strong and able, I promise. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The importance of “YOUR PEOPLE”

Last weekend I spoke at a breakout session for a women’s event at my church about having "A Heart of Faith." The whole thing made me so nervous. I’m a writer—and an introvert. I’m not a speaker!

People always say, Yeah, but you teach. Isn’t that the same thing?

Um, no.

I’m not sure what the difference is, but there is a difference, according to my brain. :) 

I have never been so thankful for MY people. There’s lots of buzz words for this today: Your tribe. Your clan. Your besties. Your inner circle.

Whatever you call them, I have never been so thankful for MINE.

Let’s start with my hubs. He couldn’t be at the actual event, of course, but he listened to me practice 5, 873 times (X 30 minutes each round = lots of love!!)

My best friend drove in from out of town to be there. She also got to hear the practice round at least once.

Tomi and my sister—with a ONE MONTH OLD—drove up to hear me. Y’all. That’s precious. My other nephew had his tonsils and adenoids out just a few days before (not the one month old, obvs), so Dancie and Momma were running on E, to say the least!

I had friends in the audience who just came to support me, and I had countless people text me that they were praying for me. Two of my dear friends, who were speaking at the same time (rats!) stopped by my area to check on ME before THEY had to speak. (Wow. J)

I am one blessed woman.

I can’t imagine my life without the people in it. They encourage me, build me up, love me, see me—even when I’m a mess. They help me and support me. They make me laugh and remind me of the important things in life.

At the end of the weekend, although I’d poured out myself, I felt so poured into as well. And the Lord reminded me of Moses in Exodus 17—when Aaron and Hur had to hold up his arms.

We were made to live in community, in fellowship with one another, and it’s okay to lean on someone when you need some help. (Just be sure you’re someone for others to lean on too! :))

If you don’t have YOUR PEOPLE, then find some! Join a Sunday school class or a life group or bible class at your local church. Ask God to bring people into your life for you to do LIFE with. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Finding Peace for Your Family

So you’ve got church one to two times on Sunday, dinner with the Joneses on Tuesday, dance and gymnastics every day after school, and football in the fall. The lawn needs to be raked, the dirty clothes pile is overflowing, and the dishes are filling up the sink.

Life, for families in 2017, is crazy to say the least. Where do we find time for each other? Where do we find time for our marriage? Where do we find time for ourselves? Where do we find time for Christ?

Usually, I write about things that we have gone through and dealt with in our marriage. Today, I’m writing about something that we (especially me) are dealing with today…this very moment. I think it is crucial though, so I want to share it. How do we find peace, as a couple, in the midst of our busy lives?

In Colossians 3:15, Paul implores the Colossians to "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” 

First, let’s talk about peace. In Colossians here, Paul is meaning it to be a whole, or mended, self. That’s exactly what we all want to be, to help lead our families, right? He’s also very clearly talking to individuals, who were all called to be at peace together. 

Let's let peace rule in our hearts, individually, so that the body (your family) can have peace together.

Paul says to “let the peace of Christ rule…” He doesn't say to create the peace or take hold of “the peace.” This is a passive action that comes from knowing Christ and allowing him to minister. The Holy Spirit is the one here today, actively giving you peace. We “let” Him. It’s your heart; you must allow Him access. 

That looks different for different people. For me, it is taking quiet time to reflect on what is in the way and consciously telling Him (for my benefit) that I am setting something aside and allowing His peace to reign in me. For you, it might look different. It always includes making a decision to set whatever is going on aside, though.

Paul also leaves a clue at the end of the verse for us. “And be thankful” is there for a reason. Have you ever known someone who seemed truly at peace in their life and with their family who wasn’t thankful? That’s rhetorical, because the answer is no. 

To be whole, and to have peace, regardless of the situation, you must be thankful

Be thankful for kids to take to soccer practice. Be thankful for good friends to have dinner with. Be thankful for your extraordinary marriage. Without that, none of this works.

Hopefully, you can relate to this, and it is helpful. The Lord is ministering to Laura and me a lot about peace right now, and I think that’s for a reason. Your life may not be peaceful, but it is much better to be at peace in the midst of it.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Experiencing God's Peace

I’ve told you that my word this year is peace, and last Sunday at CORE, our pastor preached on peace.

Coincidence? I think not! J

The word peace in the Greek means ‘mended, mendedness, reconciled, brought back together.’

Doesn’t that create a beautiful word-picture when we consider that through Jesus, we have peace with God?

Peace with God restores us to a place of order, a place without chaos.

I felt like the Lord showed me that the word peace for 2017 does not mean that the year will be calm or quiet or without trials.

He gave me the word peace because this is the year Howell and I will learn to walk in peace—regardless of our circumstances.

When Howell tried to erase our marker board, which has read “Let the peace of God rule in your heart” since last spring, God told him to put it back up there.

Apparently, we still have much to learn about letting God’s peace rule in our heart.

I’ve blogged before about this verse—that we’re commanded to let peace rule, which means have utter authority, like a judge that presides over our hearts.

When I don’t feel at peace, when life feels chaotic or out of control, I need only consider who or what is ruling my heart.

Probably, it’s Laura. Probably I’m trying to do it all or make something happen or carry a burden I never should’ve picked up.

Job 22:21 says, “Agree with God and be at peace.”

The Amplified version says, “Now yield and submit yourselves to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace.”

Again, if I’m not feeling peaceful, am I submitted to God? Am I agreeing with Him for whatever situation I’m facing?

Our pastor told us, “Maybe instead of praying for peace, you need to pray for your heart to be submitted to the Lordship of God in your life.”


May my heart be at peace—always.
May I allow God’s peace to have utter authority in my heart at all times.
May I position my heart this year to agree with God, to be submitted wholly to His Lordship.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Top Five TBR from 2016

2016 was a good year for books. I only made it through one of my reading wish-list books I posted about at the end of the year, but in the spirit of reflection, I wanted to share with you my top five picks for books you must put on your To Be Read (TBR) list.

5. Her Texas Family.  In this sequel to Falling for Texas, Jill Lynn captures your heart with her characters, some new, some familiar. Jill's message in this text is subtle, and although this might be an expected happy-ending love story, she still moved me with her words.

4. American Wife. Taya Kyle opens her home through each page of this text and invites us into her life. She's raw and vulnerable, and because of that, I have a greater appreciation for her story--and our military families. When I finished the text, I hugged my husband a little tighter and thanked God for him.  Read this with a Kleenex.

3. Almost Like Being in Love. Also a sequel, Beth Vogt's unique series gives us a new destination and perspective for the characters--again, some new, some familiar. She writes characters we care about, and as we encounter their struggles, we also experience their hope and success. If you like a good love story, you'll like this one.

2. Told You Twice. Friends, you know how much I adore Kristen Heitzmann. She's a talented writer who not only writes incredible characters and unpredictable plots, but also weaves messages of hope and God's grace in everything she writes. I've posted on this book already here and here, so I won't gush much more. It's a great sequel to Told You So, and I highly recommend it.

1. Long Way Gone. Charles Martin has done it again. He's the real King of Romance, in my opinion, and in his latest book, he has made the iconic biblical story of the prodigal son uniquely his own. As with When Crickets Cry, you'll love his characters, and the ending will leave you stunned but satisfied.  Read this with a BOX of Kleenex.

What about you, friends? What were your favorite books from 2016?

Monday, January 2, 2017

'16 Going on '17

Happy New Year, my friends, and hello, 2017.

So, 2016. Not a bad year, eh?

He certainly did.  

We both turned 30 in 2016 and marked off two items from our bucket lists—a Celine Dion concert and a Browns’ football game in Cleveland. (See my 30th tribute to Howell.)

My best friend got married in March, and we took a couple’s trip to New York in July.

My WIP won first place in a contest this summer, and on Christmas Eve I found out I was accepted to present at a conference in March that I’ve been trying to get accepted to for several years.

I was promoted at work this fall, and the rest of the semester feels a bit like a blur, to be honest, as I spent the next few months learning the ropes. (I’m still learning! :) )

And we ended our year with a wonderful early Christmas present—the early arrival of my new nephew, Case.

My favorite thing about a new year is the pause it always gives me to sit and reflect.

For the last several years, God has given me a word for the year—and sometimes, through my dear friend Brandi. I’ve blogged about some of them before. 2012 my word was Favor. In 2013, Brave. 2014, Grace. 2015, Hope. 2016, Redeem.

I already know my word for 2017—Peace.

God continues to give me the verse, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” That verse has been on my heart for a while—and apparently I still need it. :) 

I’m not big on resolutions. Probably I should work out. Probably I could lose another ten pounds.
But one thing I’ve got to resolve is to let God’s peace rule in my heart.

I can’t get overwhelmed with stress or the lists or the circumstances. I don’t have permission to do so.

As women, I’ve said before how much we influence the tone in our house. When our husbands come home, are we frantic or at peace? Are we distracted or honoring?

For me, the busier I felt this fall, the more frantic and distracted I became at home.

I’m thankful for my hubs who pursues my heart, regardless of my state of mind. But just because he does it so well doesn’t mean he should have to encounter a frantic wife every day.

I want to be a blessing to him. I want to be present—at home, at work, at lunch with friends.

I want to prioritize what matters—and for me, that’s always been people. God taught me that as I waded through grad school: the papers, the assignments, the stress, it’ll all pass away; but relationships are what matter in His kingdom.

I want to set the stress aside and not worry about what I cannot control.

So, 2017—bring on the peace!

How about you?