Does your heart ever amaze you?

I amaze myself sometimes.

I wish I could say it’s my singing abilities that amaze me. But that would be my friend Jessica. Not me. I’m just a bit above average. My dad might argue, as he’s convinced I could beat anyone on The Voice. Sometimes it’s charming to have a lifetime fan who’s always looked at me through rose-colored glasses (or listened to me sing with rose-colored hearing aids), but that’s another post for another day, and I’m (squirrel!!) already getting off-topic.

What I really wish I could say is that I’m amazed by my ability to consistently do, think, and feel the same things Jesus would do, think, and feel if He were walking in my shoes today.

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How to be a Happy Camper

Lesson learned. Happy camping (and living) requires a lot of planning and preparation.

This was one of the life lessons that spoke even louder than the coyotes’ howl-a-thon I heard from our tent in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest last week. After not tent-camping for over five years, it seemed like a first-time experience.

It makes sense that I would derive this “planning and preparation” lesson from camping at this time. It seems I’m more intensely evaluating every part of my life these days. I’m thinking about how my planning and preparation (or lack thereof in some areas) in my 20s and 30s got me to where I am today. I’m also thinking more about how I can – if Jesus doesn’t return or take me home in the the next 20-30 years – plan well and work hard to be prosperous and generous instead of regretful or suffering consequences that could’ve been avoided.

Is this a mid-life crisis? No. I’m too young for that, 😉 but I am old enough to have a few regrets. I’ve dabbled with the blame game and the excuse party from time to time in efforts to calm the regrets, but deep down, I think we all know when we’ve made unwise choices – choices that often come from a lack of planning, preparation, and hard work.

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How to Make Wise Choices

My parents only live six minutes away from me, and I love to stop in and visit as much as possible. Every time I do, they are faced with a choice. With my hands hidden behind my back, I walk right in and say with my best game show hostess voice possible, “Do you want what’s in my right hand, or my left hand?”

Ninety-nine percent of the time, my dad chooses first, and chooses correctly. I don’t know how he does it. The prizes are often both good ones, like a chocolate chip cookie in one hand and a candy bar in the other, but sometimes there’s only one good prize and the other’s a real dud. Dad rarely ever chooses the dud.

If only all of life’s choices were so simple, huh?

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Oooo, I’ve gotta FIX this!

James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (NIV)

Have you ever been at an elegant social event for hours, talking with all kinds of people, and you step into the restroom, glance into the mirror and see that big dark green glob of who knows what stuck in your front teeth? Would you ever in a million years decide to leave it there and do nothing about it?

I doubt it. (Just like I would never in a million years film a video with messy hair and no makeup – unless I thought it might help me draw attention to a life-giving truth.)

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When the Fireworks are Gone

The lakefront homes across the street from my house are pretty much all vacation homes. Last weekend was the 4th of July celebration; cars were everywhere, and fireworks were boldly exploding for five days straight. Today, just a week later, the driveways are empty, the boats are in hiding, and there’s not a firecracker to be heard. What happened to all the celebrating?

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I want THIS kind of freedom.

These past few days, while listening to fireworks go off all around me, I feel like I’ve been hanging out with Lady Liberty. No, not the tall one in New York Harbor—the shorter one in Luke chapter 7. She’s impressed me like never before with her bold kind of freedom.

I invite you to watch the video to hear the story, or go to Luke 7:36-50 and read it for yourself. Here’s what this incredible woman of freedom accomplished in less than 14 verses:

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Build your worth upon the Rock.

Insecurity. Why do so many of us struggle with it so often?  I can think of three reasons, and the first one goes way back to the Garden of Eden.

When the serpent set out in the garden to bring Eve down and to separate her from God, he used a specific strategy. He caused her to doubt what God had said. He said to her, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve shared her apple and her doubt in God’s word with Adam, and the world was forever changed.

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The PG Version of the Bible

Have you ever noticed that it’s easy to miss key truths when you’re reading the Bible?

Have you ever spaced out while your eyes are going from left to right across the pages of the Bible, and you find yourself at the end of the chapter and you have no clue what you just read?

Maybe you simply need encouragement or permission to slow down while you read. Really. It’s okay to go slow. If keeping up with a reading plan is forcing you to quickly skim words in order to keep up, scrap the plan and take your time.

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I couldn’t wait to see him!

“I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!!” is what I told him starting the day he left.

Recently, my husband spent 24 days overseas, visiting his family. Here is the short version of the thoughts and feelings I journaled during that time:

Day 1 – I should be able to write 2 books, produce my worship piano training course, clean the whole garage and basement, have daily ice cream dates with my girlfriends, and lose 10 pounds before he comes back.

Day 4 – I’m so thankful for whoever invented WhatsApp, so I can see and talk to my true love on my phone anytime I want.

Day 10 – Military wives are the real heroes!! How in the world do they cope with not seeing their husbands for months at a time? We really should do more to honor them.

Day 17 – Skype and WhatsApp are okay, but I sure wish I could see my true love in person.

Day 23 – I now have just one day to start writing my 2 books, producing my worship piano training course, cleaning the whole garage and basement, having ice cream dates with my girlfriends, and losing the 10 pounds plus the 4 pounds I gained in the last 3 weeks.

Day 24 – He’s coming home today! I’m about to burst with excitement. Yet, I want to be just as excited about the return of Jesus. About seeing God in person. About being in His presence. How can I hunger and thirst for Him even more than I’ve looked forward to being with my husband?

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May We Never Forget the Good

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:2 (NLT)

Me: Hey, can you call me on Friday?

Friend: Can you remind me to call you on Friday?

Me: Can you remind me to remind you to call me?

Friend: Can you remind me to remind you to remind me?

Me: Can you remind me to remind you to remind me to remind you?

You may remember that last week, I wrote about the gift of remembering. There’s so much to say about that topic that one post was not nearly enough.

Last week, in light of Memorial Day, I wanted to remember those who’ve died in battle for my freedom. I especially wanted to remember the One who died on the cross to give me the gift of eternal life.

This week, my heart’s desire is to challenge us to remember the good things God has done and the good things He continues to do for us.

This whole “remember the good” theme has been quite perplexing to me over the years, in the same sense a diet is perplexing. The benefits of healthy eating over junk food binge eating is a simple and obvious concept, yet how easy is it to “forget” the obvious and eat that half gallon of my favorite ice cream within a 24-hour period?

Likewise, no one would argue that fixing our minds on the good things God does isn’t healthy and life-giving. We all know it is. And yet, it’s something we often forget to remember.

It seems that many humans are naturally much more forgetful than “rememberful” about good things.

It seems that many Christians are naturally much more forgetful than “rememberful” about the good things …

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