Equipped and Trained

Both of my kids are athletes. They know you have to train hard to play hard. We LOVE sports…everything about the game. The coaching, learning, training, winning, lessons in losing (not as much fun), and growing as an athlete in each particular sport.

One thing I know for certain, I would never send one of my kids on a field or court without the proper equipment, practice or training. They need to know the rules, the best way to play the game, have the proper equipment, have their bodies in the right physical shape or they could get seriously hurt, not do their best for lack of knowledge in the sport, and lose confidence in their ability. We have spent countless hours and dollars on the love of sports. And I wouldn’t trade the memories or the love of the game for anything. Well…anything except the love of Jesus.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Are we making sure our kids are prepared for eternity and not just the game? I can assure you that my family struggles with this as well. It’s not an easy task. But at the end of the day, we have to remember our kids have been entrusted to us as a gift from God. To cut to the chase and not sugarcoat… are we being the godly parents God entrusted us to be?

To keep it simple today, let’s just focus on the verse from 2 Timothy.

1. Are we teaching our children to study scripture?

Sounds simple enough. But let me ask it again. Are we teaching our children to study scripture? How are we? How often are we? It does not matter if we know these truths if we do not intentionally live them out. Our kids are smart. If they don’t see us making Bible study a priority, why would they? Hearing some scripture here and there on an occasional Sunday in a sermon is not enough. Do a Bible study with them, make sure they go to a Bible study at church, pray scripture out loud with them, let them see you reading your Bible.

2. Are we rebuking and correcting our kid’s behavior, attitudes and lifestyles with scripture?

How are we disciplining our kids on a regular basis? Yelling, nagging, “because I said so?”… I’m guilty of them all. But I try really hard, along with Jay, to quote scripture to them when correcting a behavior. It gives the WHY in a Biblical way vs my way.

3. Are we training our kids to live a life of righteousness?

The breastplate of righteousness is part of the armor of God that we are all supposed to put on daily. It’s no coincidence that the breastplate would guard our hearts. How do we teach our kids to live morally in such an immoral world? We model it ourselves for starters (not easy, I KNOW). And I for one am not talking about being perfect. Unrealistic expectations lead to feeling defeated. I have PKs remember? lol, they are not perfect but they have felt the pressure of trying to be at times. We can teach our kids to live righteous lives by helping them learn the Bible.

4. Are we making sure our children are “thoroughly equipped for every good work”?

We would never let them skip sports practice or a game. We would never let them go on a court without their racket, a field without their football pads, bat, helmet, glove, ball… If we want them to play well, they have to be equipped. Why would we ever think it was ok to not equip them spiritually? Our kids have “good works” to do for the kingdom. Works they were created to carry out. Christians wonder what’s wrong with the world? If we studied the Bible a fraction of the amount of time we spent doing other things, we would know what’s wrong with our world. Our priorities. Mine too… I never write anything that I don’t struggle with myself. But when convicted , I try to do better.

Let’s be the cheerleaders and coaches our kids need. Let’s make sure our priorities are Biblical. Practice and training for sports are not always the fun part, but a necessary part of playing the game well. Let’s train up our kids to build the kingdom.

“Hanging With Chickens Will Make You Cluck…Hanging With Eagles Will Make You Fly”


Palm Sunday always has me all up in my feelings. It is a day of HOPE because we know what the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem ultimately meant for us. But there is always a twinge of sadness in my heart on this day.

Matthew 21:9-11 “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.””

Mob Mentality at its finest. Mob mentality or herd mentality describes how we as humans adopt behaviors based on our circle of influence. Our point of view can be altered by those around us. In Matthew 21, the mob mentality worked for the greater good. However, this crowd that was honoring, praising, loving, exalting, worshipping Jesus as they waved their palm branches would be shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21) just one week later. Mob Mentality at its worst.

The definition of imitator is “someone who copies the behavior or actions of another”. So who or what are we imitating?

George Washington wrote, “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”

Mark Ambrose wrote, “In your free time, you will choose who to hang out with. If I were to show you your friends, I could tell your future.”

John Mason said, “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.”

And my favorite quote (thatonerule), “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck, and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.”

So if the world is full of clucking chickens, how do we soar like eagles? Remember, at times in our nation, the eagle has been endangered and the chicken has not. Mob mentalities will be loud and large…

We can be influenced so easily in this world. We have to be so careful who we surround ourselves with. What do the following verses say about friendship? Read Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 13:20, and Proverbs 27:17.

I love to see my children display a good quality that I know a family member instilled in them. But oh, how cringe-worthy it is to see or hear them imitate a behavior that is less than admirable. Children are going to imitate what they see on a consistent basis – the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are so many animals and insects in this world that mimic the appearance or imitate the behavior of a much more dangerous species to either camouflage themselves or deceive prey. The South American leaf fish simply act like their environment. They look like dead leaves floating in the water. But when seeking their prey, that seemingly dead leaf moves with such speed that their prey doesn’t even know what happened.

God never intended us to live like clucking chickens like all the rest of the chickens in this world. He certainly doesn’t want us to blend into our environment or be caught off guard when the enemy wants to devour us.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

If we do not know His will, we will surely blend in and conform to this world imitating the crowd. And the crowd might SEEM right at the time… the enemy sure wants to fool you that it does.

O”Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

We have no excuse these days because we have the Word of God to guide us. When Jesus told his disciples to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24) He was not asking them to sign up for a life of luxury for that will come in eternity.

Our doors look pretty today as we have them decorated with palms to celebrate what this day means for us. But as the next week unfolds… Let’s remember that we also have to pick up our cross to follow Him daily. And that my friends, does not look as pretty.

Don’t be a clucking chicken like everyone else. Soar like the eagle God called you to be.

A portion of this came from my Bible study Ephesians Sealed in Christ.

Ghost Apples

In the fruit ridge of Kent County, Michigan is where you can find ghost apples. Ghost Apples are formed when freezing rain coats a rotting apple that is still on the tree. The apple turns mujkshy and slips out to the ground leaving behind an icy shell. An unusual phenomenon that is quite beautiful. But also, so very fragile. Imagine how easily these icy shells could break.

I wonder how many of us have allowed hurts in our life to rot us? To create a bitterness so deep to the core that we slowly rot? Hurt and sadness so profound that we are just mush. Numb…

God never intended for us to be icy shells. Beautiful on the outside but mushy and numb on the inside.  So how do we allow hurt in our lives to ripen us but not rot us? In the midst of sorrow and pain, how do we find joy?

Elizabeth Elliot said, ” The cross is the gateway to joy. And was there any greater suffering than on the cross?”

To understand joy and suffering simultaneously is to understand the cross. There is nothing uglier than the cross, yet nothing more beautiful.

There are so many disappointments in life. There are many small disappointments that can dampen a seemingly good day. A sassy child, a friend that leaves us out and we see the good times they had without us plastered on social media, a burnt dinner, a broken washing machine, a bad grade, an argument with our spouse… Sometimes, it’s all about sweating the small stuff. These things only seem like small disappointments when you’ve been knocked down by the big ones. The big ones come and take the breath out of us. We long for the broken washing machine when these come our way. A diagnosis, a chronic illness, a death, divorce, addictions, betrayal by a friend, broken relationships, the loss of a job…

kjThese disappointments can shatter our souls, leave us bitter and depleted…Ghost Apples. We might look beautiful on the outside, but so fragile we will break at any moment.

God did not make us robots. He obviously gave us the ability to feel. It can be very dangerous to ignore or suppress our feelings. There is even a reason God gave us tears. A study conducted by really smart people :)… found that crying has a direct, self -soothing effect on our bodies. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which can help us relax. Crying regulates emotions and excretes a high level of stress hormones. In other words, a good cry can, in fact, be good for us. I have had my fair share of ugly cries lately. But I know I cannot hunker down and stay in a crying state of mind. That kind of mentality can isolate me. If the enemy can isolate us with our fears, he can influence us.

“The disappointment that is exhausting and frustrating you? It holds the potential for so much good. But we’ll only see it as good if we trust the heart of the giver.”  (Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way)

“I’m convinced that there are a good many things in this life that we really can’t do anything about, but that God wants us to do something with.” (Elizabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never For Nothing)

unnamedWhen Jesus went up on the mountainside to deliver the Sermon on the Mount, He already knew the suffering He would face. He knew the friends that He had walked with and ministered with would betray Him. He knew He would be mocked, persecuted and faced with temptation. Read Matthew 5: 1-12. Memorize it. Claim it. Study it. Etch it on your heart.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those that are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.”

Rejoice and be glad when you endure suffering… makes no sense unless you know you are a child of God. When you feel shattered, broken to the point of dust… Remember,

“Dust doesn’t have to signify the end. Dust is often what must be present for the new to begin.” Lysa Terkeurst

John 13:7 “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'”


The Ripple Effect of Kindness

AIMG_8917s we enter into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’ve struggled this year to enjoy all the traditions I always look so forward too. I have a feeling that there are many of you out there that may feel the exact same way…

Maybe it’s the loss of a dear loved one and the season will just not be the same.

Maybe it’s financial burdens and the worry of the lack of gifts you will be able to give.

Maybe it’s a divorce that has torn your family apart.

Maybe it’s the uncertainty of the future for various reasons.

Maybe it’s hardship and pain from causes you never saw coming.


There are people hurting all around us. Hurt and pain seem to be amplified at Thanksgiving and Christmas. “‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…” Unless, you just don’t feel real jolly. So, how do we find the JOY in Christmas if we are struggling to find the JOY in our day to day lives?

During a recent deep time of prayer (the kind where my knees hurt from my really hard tile floors), God simply reminded me that He Knows. And it was the kind of I know from Him that made me feel so loved, it was all I needed in that moment to know as I enter the Season… it’s just about so much more than how I feel. He didn’t discredit my feelings or my pain. He acknowledged them in my prayer time as if He were giving me a hug. But then… in that same time of prayer my heart was pierced with conviction. I simply am not the only person hurting right now. And so many are experiencing hurts that I cannot even conceive. Through my pain and struggles, there is still purpose to be had and God’s work to be done. I am so thankful that the God of James 1:2-4 ” Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  is also the God of 1 Peter 5:7 ” Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” and Isaiah 41:13 ” For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

So does it really matter if I choose to spend the Season under my covers watching a healthy combo of Hallmark and Lifetime movies while eating Bluebell Peppermint Bark ice cream? Can one person really make a difference in this world? 

IMG_8923A God timed phone call from a Holt International rep, reminded me that one person can make a difference by showing God’s love to others. A pebble is just a simple pebble until thrown out into the water, creating ripple after ripple… causing once still water to have movement. One human has the opportunity to show God’s love to a hurting world. The ripple effect that God will use from obedience is something so great that we won’t even see the full effect this side of Heaven.

That phone call I mentioned was a follow up from a mission my Amelia Rose started during this past summer. When receiving a letter that many orphans needed surgeries and care, Amelia Rose asked,” Momma? If I baked, do you think I could raise a lot? Like maybe $75 to send to help?”

IMG_8909200 cakes and 264 cookies later, Amelia Rose raised $1,700. She baked for almost 4 weeks of her summer. And the community joined in, creating a ripple effect of God’s love reaching far beyond what Amelia Rose could have ever done alone. I promised to show how the money would be spent. And after much prayer the following is how Amelia Rose felt led to distribute:

  1. Once anticipating helping with $75 towards a cleft palate surgery and care for 1 orphan… The Gift of a Smile $400. An entire surgery and after care for an orphan will be given.
  2. The Gift of a share of a heart surgery. $300 (this money will go towards the cost of a $3,000 heart surgery for an orphan that will not only save their life, but give them greater chances of being adopted)
  3. School tuition for one year for one child living near Mongolia’s largest dump. $150 Children who attend the Red Stone school in Mongolia come from families who live and work in the city’s largest dump.
  4. A year’s supply of school supplies for 3 students. $30
  5. Shoes for 10 children. $70
  6. A sewing machine and sewing kit for a struggling mom. This will provide income for a mom to provide for her children by sewing and selling clothing. $155
  7. One sheep for a family that will use the wool to make blankets and clothing and earn profits. $85
  8. 2 pigs, 1 cow, and 5 chickens for one family to start a business. These animals will provide milk, meat, eggs and fertilizer for a family to become self-reliant. $365
  9. Give a garden: seeds, tools and training. Provide a family with the training and equipment they need to grow fruits and vegetables. This includes seeds, buckets, fertilizer and training. $45

The remaining $100 (if you are doing the math) will go toward a new mission. Yi (Lee) Ae-Sook, a 61 year old resident at Ilsan ( a Korean resident of homes for the disabled that the Holt family established after the Korean War), recently fell and broke her hip. She has spent her entire life as a resident and after this fall she requires surgery and rehab. If you would like to join in by helping, Amelia Rose will be baking again soon.

Acts 20:35 ” In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

If you lack JOY this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, don’t look for it in the traditional warm and fuzzies of years past. Consider giving out what you feel you yourself need. Time spent with a lonely widow. Babysit for a single mom or dad. Provide a home cooked meal for a widower. Give a special ornament in remembrance of someone’s lost loved one. Befriend the friendless. Share the message of Jesus with the lost.  The blessing you will receive will be from God and maybe not even on this side of Heaven. Do it for His glory and His Kingdom.

Helen Keller said, ” I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

I am only one, but I can be obedient to Him. He can take my obedience and send waves of ripples of His message farther than I could ever imagine. Instead of squeezing God somewhere in between Hallmark movies, parties, programs, decorating and shopping, I’m going to give this season to the ONE who gave me Christmas in the first place. That is where I plan to find my JOY.

Keeping My Eyes on Him

My deeply rooted theological studies and degree come in the form of teaching children’s Bible study. I am always in awe, when the children’s lesson I teach on Sunday lines up to spiritual perfection with the lesson I teach to Ladies on the following Wednesday night. Not planned by flesh, but designed by God to line up two different curriculums in the same week to disciple both children and women within our church. It never ceases to amaze or excite me. But you know what amazes me even more? When the lesson I taught to my church children ends up being perfectly timed to the message my heart needed so desperately.  Such is the case each and every week.

The 14th chapter of Matthew is where you will find the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 men plus women and children from the small basket of fish and loaves that one little boy chose to share. So many at this point in Jesus’s ministry wanted to hear what He had to say. So many hoped to catch a glimpse of one of His miracles being performed. When Jesus finished teaching this crowd, He had the disciples get into the boat ahead of Him. At this time, Jesus went up onto the top of a mountainside by himself to pray (Matthew 14:23). He needed that time with the Father alone. And we do too.

Eventually, Jesus made His way back to the disciples. The boat had gone a considerable distance into the water. Waves and wind enveloping all around. And Jesus walked on the water towards the boat. When the disciples caught sight, they were terrified thinking it was a ghost.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31img_5175

I love that Peter so desperately wanted to get to Jesus. I love that he was willing to go when Jesus called him. And for a little while, Peter was so focused on Jesus that he was able to do the unthinkable. Peter walked on water. But the flesh soon took over that beautiful moment. Peter’s focus on Jesus diminished to the reality of what loomed around him. Deep dark waters and roaring wind… and Peter began to sink.

There are days in my life that I am so focused on Jesus and His calling that the wind and waves of life fail in comparison to the beauty of following His divine purpose that he set for my life. And then there are days that my flesh takes over and I see every obstacle before me. My feet fail and I sink. Where once my faith was strong and my eyes focused on Him, doubt washes over me like the strongest of waves. How Lord? How do I continue to serve faithfully without hurt, rejection, failure, insecurity…

When Jesus called Peter out upon the water, He knew his feet and faith would eventually fail. Yet, He called Peter anyway.

When Jesus calls, I will continue to go. I know that my focus on Him at times will be beautiful and strong. And I know I will allow distractions to cause me to momentarily sink and lose sight of Him.


That’s when I will cry out for Him to save me. And I know He will. His hand ever present waiting for me to grab hold.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. ” Hillsong “Oceans”


The Lion and the Lamb

img_4981I don’t think any of us as believers start our day planning to ignore God, but we do.

I’m often asked, “How do you hear God speak?”. There is not a One size fits all answer to this of course. But quite simply, we have to be listening.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Too often I can be over stimulated, too busy, self-centered, lazy, and distracted to hear Him speak. Oh, He is speaking to me every day, showing up every day, calling me to be Kingdom focused every day, but am I listening? Am I seeking Him? The days that I seek Him first are the sweetest.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

The other day while sitting in traffic, my daughter started looking at the clouds. I smiled thinking of all the times I did this as a child on the farm that I grew up on. As well as all the times I did this with my own children when they were very little. As she went through a plethora of shapes and things, I looked up and saw something that took my breath away. A cloud that was shaped as a majestic lion. Amelia Rose was amazed as well. But we could not have been prepared for what she saw next. As traffic started to move, Amelia Rose continued to look as she exclaimed, “The lion turned into a lamb!” As I gazed into the sky, sure enough the cloud that seconds ago was a majestic lion was now a beautiful lamb.  A beautiful message from God in the clouds. Something I could have easily missed on a busy day in traffic.

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and it’s seven seals. Then I saw the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…” Revelation 5:5-6

“He’s coming on the clouds

Kings and kingdoms will bow down

And every chain will break

As broken hearts declare His praise

For who can stop The Lord almighty

Our God is the Lion

The Lion of Judah

He’s roaring with power

And fighting our battles

And every knee will bow before Him

Our God is the Lamb

The Lamb that was slain

For the sin of the world

His blood breaks the chains

And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb”  

Big Daddy Weave

Pray that you will not miss a moment with God throughout your day.



Well… I know what you are thinking. Another blog??? There are so many great blogs already out there. However, the more time I spend in the Word, the more I want to share what He shows me daily. Bottom line… most days I’m a mess! One thing I know for sure, a little encouragement goes a long way!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

If we were a little more honest with each other, we would realize that we all struggle. With friendships, insecurities, rejections, keeping our sanity, managing our time, worrying too much, trying to fit in, parenting, and just plain struggling to adult most days. Couldn’t we all use a little more encouragement from each other? Starting a blog seemed a little overwhelming to me at first. My sweet hubby decided to just start it for me. But the icing on the cake was a small gift of encouragement from my first blog follower… my daughter Amelia Rose. Encouragement may be delivered in small packages, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Ask God how you can encourage someone today.