The Cure For Those Summertime Blues

PSA: Heaven on earth does exist, and it’s in South Carolina.

In June, we got the heck out of Dodge for a week at Pine Cove Chimney Point near Anderson, SC. We laughed hard, played a ton (Jet skis! Zip lines! Horses!), and studied God’s Word. No phones. Just family, friends, and the best country-fried chicken I’ve had since I moved from Alabama in 1997.

My prayer going in was that we’d be revived after twelve months that included actual storms like Hurricane Harvey and figurative storms like the loss of McLeod’s mom. How funny and so like God that family devotion time centered on Psalm 23. He truly did “restore our souls.”

 

But near the end of camp, I began wondering how to hang on to that feeling of rest and confidence in my Good Shepherd once I returned home. Maybe you or your kids have had that kind of mountaintop experience recently, too, only to find yourselves singing the summertime blues once home again. So what’s the secret of not losing rekindled faith or restored joy amidst the dirty laundry and healing sunburns? Read More

3 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged

Know what the soundtrack of my life is right now? The rhythm of a nail gun and the whine of a power saw. Yep, we’re in the middle of a renovation project that’s got me living out my HGTV dreams. 

I was telling a friend, though, that at first, every day seemed like “demo day,” with more being demolished than was being built. That can feel discouraging at the time. For my Hurricane Harvey survivor friends, let me say, BLESS YOU. You’ve been living with that kind of noise, chaos, and uncertainty for months, trying to remember when you didn’t have to walk through curtains of heavy plastic or rinse a layer of sawdust off your dishes. 

You’ve been smack dab in the messy middle.

But for others, maybe your “messy middle” is another kind of hurricane like divorce, family drama, or illness. Or perhaps a deep, pervasive sin has been uncovered, your own or someone else’s, and the atomic fallout feels relentless. 

If you’re in the messy middle, whether that turmoil was from a good thing (like my planned home project) or a bad thing (like a real or metaphorical hurricane), here are three encouragements Jesus offers to guide us through. Read More

Raising Sons Who Honor Women

I’m a tad old-fashioned, I admit. I love it when McLeod fills up my car or brings me flowers. I sparkle at being romanced and pampered.

But you know what I love even more than my husband’s gentlemanly manners? That he cares about what I think and what I’m working on and that he esteems me both as a woman and as an equal recipient of God’s promises.His support defines the word encouragement: filling me with courage to see myself as a valiant daughter of the King so that I act accordingly.

I feel like we’re working hard, too, to raise a son who will also honor and encourage the women around him, but here’s something else I have to admit: when it comes to certain topics like healthy sexuality, avoiding pornography, and setting standards for dating behavior, I’ve been less than courageous in speaking out.

I’ve deferred to McLeod and other godly men in my son’s life to do the talking. That’s not bad, per se, but it is one-sided. I’ve now come to realize that since I am still the primary female voice in his life, I need to weigh in on such matters.

Just because my son now looks more like a man than a boy doesn’t mean my voice has become obsolete. As a godly woman, I bring wisdom and perspective that he needs more than ever. Read More

To the Mom Bathing-Suit-Shopping with Her Teen Girl

Houston, summer has landed, and as temps rise, clothes shrink. That means moms and teen daughters everywhere are facing off over short-shorts, sundresses, and bathing suits. I was just at Academy commiserating with another mom as we picked through swimwear, hoping to find something that complemented our girls’ changing shapes but didn’t get them dress-coded at summer camp.

It’s not always easy. Read More

Summer Is Coming. There Will Be Chores.

Well, we’re about two weeks from summer vacation here, so I’m still in End-of-School Survival Mode even as I share my kids’ excitement with each passing day. Mother’s Day was a great respite from the busyness, but as each petal drops from my wilting bouquet, I’m fully aware that I better make a few preparations for the months to come.

You parents know what I’m talking about: Your kids are going finish the school year, and within 5 hours of that final bell, they will have eaten all your food and generally trashed the place.

Then, they’ll need a ride to somebody else’s house so they can eat all their food and trash their place, too.

Welcome to Summer Vacation. Read More

The Ultimate End-of-School Mom Survival Guide

I swear I wake up in some weird, mom-style Choose Your Own Adventure story every day during the last month of school. I check my calendar and think I’ve got plans under control, but still, it feels an awful lot like this:

“You’ve wandered into a school gym full of parents. Are you
A) There for an awards ceremony but just realized you forgot to tell the grandparents?
B) Ten minutes late for a just-scheduled performance and fuming over another “extra” on the calendar?
C) Looking for your child’s missing gym shoes, but when you see the crowd, you wonder if you forgot some ceremony or performance?
Choose your own adventure in mom-stress and/or mom-guilt.”

So how’s a mom to make it through the last month of school with her sanity and sense of humor intact? Here’s my take plus some thoughts from other awesome moms I know. Read More

3 Little Known Ways to Amp Your Joy

Cruising into week three of Joy30,  and one truth about joy stands out: some days you just have to choose it. As in, “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24).

I’m not advocating that we fake happy feelings, but I’m learning that God’s perfect joy, the fullness of joy that always exists in His presence, is a gift He makes available to His people if we choose to unwrap it. So how do we connect with this gift, especially when circumstances are anything but joyful? Here are three ways that have helped me. Read More

When You Face Tough Truth, Let Joy Make You Strong

“You need to put your armor on. You’re going out there spiritually naked.”  

Ouch. Spiritually naked? Me?

I had just confided to a ministry veteran that I was battling terrible doubts and anxiety every time I shared my writing online. Tottering out there on my “social media platform,” I had perpetual stage fright magnified by about 1000.

She listened with compassion, but then she gave me something I needed more than her kind hugs and reassurance that things would get easier over time. She started digging into my spiritual life (a.k.a. getting in my business) until she hit a place where I needed to hear truth:

I’d been letting Satan feed me a bunch of lies about God’s ability to protect and empower me to do what He’s called me to do.  Read More

How to Let Joy Find You

I remember the first time Caroline ate blueberry pancakes. Sitting in a high chair at the grandparents, she grabbed fistfuls and shoveled them in. With gusto. Then, she caught me watching (camera in hand) and broke into full-on squeals of delight in the midst of a purply mess.

Joy snuck up on us, turning breakfast time into party time.

I’ve been looking for more of those joyful moments lately. In fact, I’ve put myself on a Joy30, spending the 30 days of April asking God to show me what it means to be

filled with joy,

strengthened by joy,

completed in joy,

led by joy, and

clothed with joy.

But what I’ve discovered this first week of Joy30 is that we have to open ourselves up to being found by joy, to allow it to sneak up in a surprise attack.  Read More

reading roundup: 4 books you’ll love to read and share

Looking for something new to read or recommend to your book-loving friends? There’s always a stack at my bedside or downloaded to my Kindle, so beginning with this first Reading Roundup, I’ll periodically share what’s impacting me. Here are four books to kick us off.  Read More

everybody stresses out. here’s why I say bring it on.

Does your “To Do” list look anything like mine? Sandwiched between get groceries and take kids to practice is one little word that’s got me stress-eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and avoiding my desk at all costs:

Taxes.

I even use a CPA now so it’s not as if I have to go it alone. But every year, the process makes my heart rate go up, my throat tighten, and my mind play the “what if” game. You know that game, right?

What if I can’t find all the forms?

What if we owe a bunch?

What if I omit something, and we get audited?

What if the IRS shows up and drags me from my house kicking and screaming?

OK, I know that last one probably won’t happen, but late at night, I can escalate to Code Red Threat Level 10 anxiety thinking like the champion worrier that I am. You think I’m kidding, but I had to google “What happens if I make a mistake on my taxes?” to make me feel better since evidently, in my mind, tax man=bogey man. Read More

healing prayer when past pain roars back to life

Ever have an emotional hurt from the past explode to the surface at a weird time? Take the infamous “Tamale Incident” at our house. One night as I transferred tamales from bubbling steamer pot to platter, my kitchen tongs betrayed me. Corn wrappers began unraveling and the tongs started slicing through the super-heated corn meal rather than lifting the tamales to safety.

My husband asked if I needed help. I said “No,” and was reaching for a big spatula to remedy the situation. However, within about 6.2 seconds of my reply, he stepped between me and the stove, removed the tongs from my hand like an FBI agent disarming a suspect, and took over the whole shebang.

Hell hath no fury like a woman de-tonged. Read More