Monday, August 17, 2015

As simple as a cup of coffee.....

I have been drinking coffee since I was a little girl.

It's a bit of a ritual some would say.

I have fond memories of going to my grandparents house and drinking coffee (which was essentially milk, sugar and a splash of the real thing) with my grandpa while he read the paper and I read the comics. I felt sophisticated and all grown up.

I also have the best memories of my mom in the coffee context. When I was old enough, I woke up early on the weekends to make the coffee for the house. In high school, I would pick my mom up from her teaching job and we would head to the local Cracker Barrel for afternoon coffee and dessert. In these moments we talked about life, love and the future. Towards the end of her life these particular coffee dates became more and more important to me.

I meet my girlfriends for coffee to unload the burdens of common life and my dad and I schedule coffee as often as we can spare. Just like those coffee dates with my mom, I cling to these times with my dad as times when I can glean wisdom and life lessons as well as some old memories.

I happened to fall head over hells for a non-coffee drinker (how did that happen?!?!?!?), but our kids both enjoy a good cup of joe. Both were thrilled that we went on mission trips to 2 coffee-heavy continents (Africa and Eastern Europe). We have moved from drip coffee to a daily press and have sampled different balances and undertones, much like wine tasters in Napa Valley.

So, what is the point of this? Well, I realized today that coffee itself plays a large role in my daily ritual. First thing in the morning, I share a cup of coffee with God as I dive into His Word and talk to Him through prayer. We keep the coffee flowing on Sunday mornings in small group as we live life together and share our heartaches, triumphs, prayers and praise. A call from a friend in need has resulted, more than once, in an impromptu trip to the local coffee shop for fellowship and encouragement. You see, this simple yet complex drink has played a role in the giving and receiving of many blessings.

Knowing that something so small can be profound in our lives, why not use it to bless others?

Start with using your daily cup as a signal to open the Word. Even if you don't normally have quiet time, or struggle to find the time, try sitting down with God's Word just for a moment. Come into it with an expectant heart and you will not walk away empty handed.

Next, you can take it a step farther and send an encouraging note to a friend. I suggest email as a phone call or text could be a bit too early for some :). You could even send some encouragement to the whole web in the form of a picture on Instagram (this happens to be my favorite way to end quiet time). It can simply be a few verses from your morning reading or a quote you enjoyed. You can even repost encouraging pictures from others pages as well. Just focus on the positive in these pictures to help spread hope and encouragement to others.

Now it's your turn....

Think about the ways that your morning rituals impact your life, then think about how you can impact the lives of others. Maybe coffee isn't your gig and we coffee lovers won't hold that against you! But we all have something to contribute and lend to others each and every day. It is the accumulation of these daily impacts that make up our legacy. What will yours be?


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pray for Marriage

When was the last time you prayed for your marriage or a friends marriage?

In my small group this past week, we spoke a little about praying for marriage. I'll be honest and tell you that I take my marriage for granted many times. My husband and I have had the rough and tough times (any newlyweds feeling me?) and at this moment we live content. Now, contentment is a wonderful thing, but I find in my own life that it can make me lazy as well :).

The consequence of this is that I can tend to put my husband in the wrong place in life. I work hard, I also workout hard, and I deal with home and kids, not to mention the counseling and client issues. So, at the end of the day, I have found I quite enjoy lazy, sweat pants, couch potato time. This places my husband somewhere under what I have deemed most important but over that which I simply don't want to do.

The truth is that my husband is a gift and I should treat him as such. That doesn't mean I should be at his every beckoned call or fulfill every whim, but I should make the time to show him I am grateful. One way to accomplish this is by knowing your spouse's love language. My husband and I have totally different love language: I am acts of service (pick up your clothes and help with dinner) and he is very much physical touch. In fact, him AND the kids believe a hug can fix anything. I believe this hug is wasting valuable time you could use to pick up your clothes. See the struggle :)

Another way to put your marriage first is by scheduling dates. My hubs and I love to go to movies, especially the theaters that serve food. We have smaller dates as well. Every week we go grocery shopping together and treat it as a date. We hold hands, share dreams, plan meals and will get a treat to munch on the way home. There are other times we send our teenagers upstairs so we can have a little time to ourselves. These dates are vital to keeping our marriage healthy, and like keeping your body healthy, it takes work.

The best way to help a marriage is through prayer. I have started to pray over my marriage more and over the marriages of my small group gal pals. What are some things to pray over a marriage? There are no hard and fast rules, but here are a few things I pray:
  1. That Satan be bound from our marriage and that he be given no foothold.
  2. That God would open up times for real communication.
  3. That my heart would be softened to my husbands needs.
  4. That our passion for one another be rekindled daily.
  5. That we both strive to make an effort in this union that will last a lifetime.
As I said, we have been through tough times and I am sure there are more to come due to the fact that we live in an imperfect world...however, we can strive towards a WHOLE marriage by putting in a little elbow grease and a lot of prayer.

Now it's your turn: share the things you do to keep your marriage fresh in the comments below. Those who have been married for a long time (Alan and I have made 17+ years so far!), share the lessons you have learned so others may grow. We all have a story and yours can help others!

Monday, July 20, 2015

To the core......

Are you tired today?

I recently was reading a book for nutrition and the doctor who wrote it used the words "bone weary". I became excited because I could identify with those words on a very deep level! I have felt bone weary many times in life and I'm sure you can relate.

Where does this weariness come from? Are we burdened beyond what we can bear? Are we being tested? I believe much of our burden comes from inside. In other words, we do it to ourselves....

Hang in there with me! I understand we all have different lives. We all have a certain spot on this earth to fill with God's glory. My personal problem is that sometimes I am shoulder deep in fatigue and feel as though His glory gets put on the back burner. Am I alone here? I imagine not.

As women, we tend to wear many different hats. I do not think we work harder than men, but we tend to hold onto more and have a harder time letting go. We honestly feel as though the whole world will implode if we miss a load of laundry, do not cater to our children's needs immediately, keep a clean house when we know someone is on their way over, and try to look less than disheveled when our prince charming comes through the door. If you weren't tired before, I bet you are now!

In my line of work I see overworked moms and wives all the time. We all try to live up to the Wonder Woman standard of doing it all and in doing so we always fail at something. We may get the house to look spotless, but we completely forgot to shower and now we just can't even. We may tote our kids and their friends everywhere, but somehow we forget to eat lunch ourselves. We work overtime at our job, but we neglect our own physical health and opt to sit for hours on end. We are making ourselves weary...

Luckily, we have guidelines that can help us in these times. I encourage you to take the first five minutes of your day (before phones, texts, emails, showers and maybe even coffee) to read in God's Word. Instead of feeling like a time of devotion doesn't count unless it's thirty minutes, why not start with five? In fact, I have a great resource for you:

Proverbs 31 now has an app for that! I kid you not :) a mobile app that gets you connected to the ONE Who promises rest for the bone weary. You can find it here: and I encourage you to start right now. Set your alarm for just five minutes earlier tomorrow morning and expect something to happen. Finding our way into His presence daily will take the burdens from our shoulders. It won't change the course of everybody else's day or erase family needs, BUT it will change the way we respond to stress and help us stay connected to our Supporter all day long.

So, I offer up a challenge to you, bone weary sister: commit to spend the first five minutes of your day with God for the next five days straight and just see what burdens can be lifted. The core of our heart desires a peace only He can provide, but we must first be willing to accept that peace.

As always, I am listening! Leave your comments below on how the challenge is going for you and what has changed. I am faithful and confident that God will move.

In love,

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Disease of Busy-ness

Our world seems more frantic and fast-paced these days doesn't it? I feel like I barely have time to return texts, and who even talks on the phone anymore?!?!?!

These days we are so hyper connected that we have become people who try to do everything. Here's a truth: You CAN do just CAN'T do everything. Most of us are too busy for our own good and that makes us ineffective for God's kingdom. Our days start early and end late. We are ALWAYS on call! Have you thought of that? Every time your cell phone gives you a notification, you check it. I know some people will say, "No I don't!" basically because you think you have life far more figures out than the next person.....studies have show that when a notification sounds on our phones that our heart rates quicken and our pupils dilate. We reacted without ever looking.

This epidemic has placed us into a constant state of stress. This constant state of stress is leading to more and more disease.

In Chinese medicine the word disease is treated as two parts: dis (meaning lack of) and ease (meaning comfort or well being). If you think about it, that is the general take on disease right? Now, we have a common disease of busyness. The symptoms are as follows:
  • chronic stress
  • fatigue
  • lack of sleep
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • feeling ill-productive
  • lack of strong relationships
  • lack of self worth and self esteem
  • headaches
  • back problems
  • and can even cause obesity and other health problems
Busyness is a problem.

We can even be busy with seemingly GOOD things. Maybe we volunteer at church all the time or raise our hands when anybody needs someone to step in or step up. Before we go on please note, I am NOT saying that helping people is bad...I'm saying that if we fill ALL of our time with the busyness of helping others it can actually become a sin.

This is what Jesus said in Luke 10 about a busy woman we all know:

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
-Luke 10:38-42

That starts to put our busy lives in perspective right? Man may look at the outside and see someone who is either working tirelessly towards a dream OR someone who serves every opportunity they get, but God looks at the intentions of the heart. Last week I heard somebody say "If God had to rest on the seventh day, why do we act as though we are too good to need rest?" Perspective change, right?

We stay busy for MANY different reasons, but I believe whole-heartedly what busyness is a disease we bring on ourselves. It is absolutely preventable and curable, but you must first identify the root cause (a holistic technique taken from Chinese medicine).
  1. We are busy because we live outside of our means. We have more payments than we get paid and therefore we must work more. An epidemic that sweeps our nation.
  2. We are busy because we are greedy. Put simply, we want more. We want a larger house, better car, bigger vacation, sharper clothes, etc. You name it, we want it.
  3. We are busy because we think far too highly of ourselves. We imagine that the world will spin out of control if our hand isn't in the center to steady least, our little corner of the world.
  4. We are trying to rack up good works. Good works do not get us a ticket into Heaven. Even if we know that, some of us can feel as though we need to make up for past wrongs or build a bigger house on the other side through our own efforts.
  5. We are busy because we fall victim to guilt.
Some of these are easy enough to pinpoint and deal with. Make a budget and stick to it. Start learning to be content. There is nothing wrong with working to provide for your family UNLESS it is at the expense of your family. Get over yourself....truly, only one hand can hold our little world in place. Remember that Jesus already paid your debt and you are now requires to simply follow Him. If you model your life after His life, you will see that Jesus did not volunteer at every single opportunity. Why not? Because He had other things to do for the kingdom! And guess what? So do you...
Guilt can be powerful whether it comes from within or without. Guilt is not something that God uses so if you have a guilter in your life you may want to lovingly remind them of that fact. Doing things out of guilt are not in God's will.

I encourage you to take some time this week and write out what keeps you busy. After that, start to weed out what you need to. Pray over it before you begin. Pray that God will show you exactly what needs to go! Are you swamped with writing deadlines for a newsletter? Maybe you won't let go because you think the world will be over if you do. Honey, the world will spin on. God may have somebody even better to come in, but He's waiting on you to get out of the way! The same is true for ALL areas of life.

Sometimes you have to take a step to the side to see the picture a bit more clear.

Don't get caught up in busyness, get caught up in obedience.


Now it's YOUR turn!
Have you overcome the disease of busyness? Comment how you were able to and share your strategies below!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When the yes hurts.....

Have you ever had the "struggle is real" moment?

I'm not talking about the ones where pictures of cookies as big as my head are posted and people are trying to talk themselves out of devouring the entire thing (you would feel awful afterward). I'm talking about the struggle between following your heart and following God.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? _Jeremiah 17:9

We are often told that in order to be happy we should follow our heart, chase our dreams, seek out our own happiness. The truth is: we are NOT called to be happy...we are called to be effective.

Don't think that I am above heart following here! There have been far too many times where I have literally told God to wait until I finished. That's right in line with treating God like a toddler asking for your attention. The fact is, God doesn't require our attention. He will continue to be God even if we ignore what He commands. He desires our attention and His ultimate desire is that we be effective for ministry in a way far larger than we can comprehend.

But there happen to be some things that hold us back from offering a whole-hearted YES to our Creator when it comes to His commands:
  • We're afraid of what we might have to give up.
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. _Luke 12:33-34
  • We're afraid that we don't have what it takes.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. _Psalm 26:2
  • Sometimes, we don't think our calling is big enough or fancy enough.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart._2 Timothy 2:22
  • We're are comfortably distracted by the things the world offers.
And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God ._Luke 16:15

So, if we find ourselves struggling to say "YES" wholeheartedly, here are a few action steps to set us up for success:
  1. Guard your heart: be careful what you allow into your heart on a daily basis. By mindful of the music you listen to, the show you watch and the books you read. Ask yourself if these are planting seed of  God's will or are they selling short-term happiness in following our own dreams.
  2. Read God's Word DAILY. I don't just mean pop it open and read a few verses before you head about your business. I mean come into a quiet place with an expectant heart and spend quality time in His Word.
  3. Commit to memorizing scripture. Make the commitment (which means you intent to give time and effort) to memorize verses that speak to your specific season in life. If you have trouble finding them, consider to help. And remember, this is about YOU, not your husband or friends or co-workers. The ones you may need can be a little uncomfortable, but you are committed.
  4. Join a small group or Bible study if you haven't already. This is how we grow in the Word: by studying and sharing with others.
  5. Keep a journal. You can record verses that speak to you and also write down ideas and dreams that you have. This will help you cut through the clutter and begin to discern God's will in your life.
Living for God becomes a more natural thing as we commit to know Him better. Just as marriage can be difficult when there is no communication, our lives will thrive when we communicate with God.
Start with just one of these action steps and commit for a week. We would love to hear how it is changing your life, so be sure to leave a comment in the section below.

Life is worth living when lived with a purpose,

Monday, June 15, 2015

A New Vision

Well, it has been quite some time since I have posted on here :-) My apologies.
I think there are times in life when we give in to the distractions and allow ourselves to take another is the journey down these roads which can teach us the most.

Three years ago the Lord blessed me with part of a vision for a ministry. This ministry would cover things that are often left uncovered in our Christian world and yet, the world we live in covers them all the time. It felt as though the time was coming when women could find the truth to topics such as:
  • marriage and relationships
  • body image
  • weight loss
  • fitness
  • nutrition
  • raising children
  • beauty
  • fashion
  • friendship
  • and even the fun things like skincare, chick flicks and how to deal with raising teenage daughters
After a hiatus to live out other dreams placed in my heart, I have come back to Beauty Mark Ministries with a fresh vision and a new hope. I know that awesome things will begin to take place under the wing God has created for this ministry to grow. I am certainly looking forward to the next few months as opportunities present themselves and the curtain is pulled back to reveal even more of this bigger vision.

Would you join me on this journey?

I assure you, it won't be a boring ride ;)

If you find yourself ready for a refreshing in your life and if you long to live with unmatched passion, then I encourage you to keep coming back....God has a whole lot in store here.

I'll see you soon,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm Heading Back to Moldova!

Hello everybody!

I'm super excited to let you know that I am heading back to Moldova this Spring. For those that don't know, my very first trip to Moldova in January of 2013 is what sparked all of this awesomeness in life :)

So, today I'm happy to report that in 2 short months I'll be boarding a plane to one of my favorite places. It seems fitting to come to the final arrangements today. You see, I can't help but notice all of the red X's gracing peoples hands and cover photos. These X's are a sign that we will no longer be quiet about human slavery and trafficking. Now, if you're quite sensitive you may want to move on now....

Let me make one thing painfully clear: the red X's stand for something. They mean something more than just plastering them on your Facebook page. These X's mean that YOU are ready and willing to stand and fight, that you will give and commit to making a change. So the question then is are you truly ready to accept the hidden terms behind that X?

Far too many people are quick to jump on the "show my support" train in the age of the internet. We feel as though we get brownie points for voicing the concern the entire world is looking at THAT day. The thing is, have you really seen trafficking? Granted, you probably have and not even known it. The girl working the check out counter who won't meet your gaze? She could be a victim. The young man trying to clean your windshield may be a victim. Trafficking is rampant, but it is only as rampant as we are quiet.

So, have you experienced it? Have you looked into the eyes of a young girl who has believed her whole life that she is only worth what people pay for her? Have you held the hand of a teenager dying of AIDS transferred to her by a nameless John? Have you hugged the neck of girls that feel they have been far too "damaged" to ever live a normal life? I have been blessed beyond all measure to do things and I intend to keep reaching out and speaking out on their behalf.

In response to the Red X I would like to issue a challenge to YOU: look at the X on your hand (or profile picture) and envision the 27 million people it stands for....what will you DO? Will you go and see? Will you give without reserve? Will you commit to change? The trafficking industry isn't scared of the X on your hand...they are scared of the passion in your heart.

If you really want to help, go HERE and give these girls a second chance to discover who they were made to be; more than what they have ever been told before.