Great Gift Ideas for your Teen {Christmas 2015}

Not sure what to buy your teen? I’ve done my homework and today I’m going to share a few favorite finds with you.

If the teen in your life has a serious hobby like skiing, skating, writing, or painting, then theme related shirts, accessories, mugs, and prints are great ideas.

2015 gift guide

I’m adding Amazon links below for all of you die hard shop-from-home types (me!) but you might be able to get better deals on some of these things on Black Friday.


Great Gift Ideas for your Teen

Mini Portable Projector to use with iPhone/laptop/iPad. Perfect for a dorm room!

North Face eTip Texting Gloves because you can’t text with normal mittens on. 😉

iPhone Camera Lens Kit (Make sure you choose the style that is compatible with your phone. Peter bought these for me for Mother’s Day and they were really cool.

Eno Eagle’s Nest Hammock These are big on college campuses as they go up pretty much anywhere. Emily has one and it’s pretty sweet.

ESV Journaling Bible in Blue Flora. I’m on my second Journaling Bible and it’s been so helpful!

Boot Socks Topper Cuff or Boot Socks or Lace Trimmed Knit Leg Warmers

Skullcandy Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Kindle Fire – Reasonably priced tablet ($49.99)

Amazon Echo– More expensive, but brilliant.  Just ask it anything and it searches the web for you. We had ours set up in the kitchen, and I don’t know how many times I asked it, “Alexa, what time is it in Berlin, Germany?” this summer while Emily was on her Missions Trip.

Jane-A-Day 5 Year Journal if your teen loves Jane Austen.

Puffin-in-Bloom Collection. Just go look. The most beautifully bound set of classics ever.

Of course, flannel pj’s, make up, gift cards, room decor, scarves, jewelry, chocolate, tickets to the symphony, etc…would all be great gifts for teen girls.

And guys might like tickets to a sports event, gift cards, dorm pants, outer wear, tools, and FOOD.

What do you think? What would you add to this list to make it complete? Share your ideas with me in the comments here or on FB. Happy shopping!



Fear and Faith

Senseless violence and killing. Islamic Terrorists. Scenes I never imagined I’d see in my lifetime playing out on the lovely streets of Paris.

I spent my Friday night watching my Twitter feed, nervously awaiting news of the hostages in the theatre. I heard that they were killing them one by one. My heart sank and my legs felt weak.

Peter and I were out shopping with the kids, trying to go about our night like it was a normal one, walking the mall, eating Thai food with chop sticks, oohing and ahhing over toddler clothes for Brayden, trying to shield my youngest from the fact that the situation was deadly serious because she’s so very afraid of ISIS and already has nightmares about it.

Friday night, I didn’t fall asleep until 2 am, half watching the news, half praying, trying to make sense of the absolutely senseless.

God, in His perfect timing, reminded me of a book I’d read but never reviewed on the blog, by the lovely Trillia Newbell, the author of the book Fear and Faith.


She asked me to share a little bit about my experiences with fear and that post will be published on her on  her blog on Tuesday. Tuesday, here, I’ll also share some of my favorite quotes from her book, because as I’ve told you before, I am the world’s worst book reviewer. I just love sharing the quotes that especially spoke to me.

I think fear comes naturally for me. I come from a long line of worriers, all the way back to my Italian great grandmother. I can hear her words in her broken English now:

“ma-Sarah, put on your coat. You’re going to catch a cold!” or “Get down! You’re going to break your leg.” or “ma-Eat! You’re going to get sick if you don’t eat the broth.”

Fear is something I had to deal with when my kids were young, and mercifully, God has opened my eyes to my own specific “brand” of fear which was control, especially when it came to my kids. I tell more about that in my article for Trillia’s blog, and after you read it you’ll think I’m a certified crazy woman but suffice it to say, I was living my life as though I was solely responsible for the safety of my children and it was a heavy burden to bear, because I am not God.  It wasn’t until I embraced the idea of God’s sovereignty and goodness in all areas that I was able to relinquish the reins (and my children!) to Him.

Fear manifests itself in so many ways: anxiety, anger, restlessness, indecisiveness, irrationality, stubbornness, etc…

(Side note: the terms fear and worry are such “acceptable” words in Christian circles. We should call it what it is: unbelief, lack of trust, doubting God. It’s that serious and ugly.)

Are you a control freak? Do you get angry when things don’t go your way? Do you have a hard time trusting men or women? Do you find yourself doing and saying things for the approval of others? Do you assume the worst about everyone’s motives? Do you fear the future?

Bottom line: fear issues are trust issues. We don’t think God’s big enough. We don’t think He cares enough about us. We believe He’s shortchanged us and we doubt His love.

We live like orphans when we are the most beloved children of a good God. We live like beggars when we have all the resources we need in Christ. We live like outsiders when God’s invited us into His inner circle to dine and live with Him forever.

Trillia covers so many common fears in this book: fear of man, the future, tragedy, not measuring up, and, hello, other women! 

She then brilliantly unfolds how God’s sovereignty, wisdom, love, and goodness all play out in His plans for our good. She then instructs us to turn all of this truth that we know about God into action as we worship and fear Him.

If you’re struggling to break the grip of fear in your life so that you can walk a life of faith and freedom, I highly recommend this book.

*Post contains affiliate links. I received this book at no cost to review. All opinions are my own.

Favorite Things Fridays

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Favorite Things post, so today’s post is newsy.

Yesterday we enjoyed a grower reception at Ocean Spray and got to meet the OS “commercial guys.”



I am busy getting ready for Christmas. I have a good chunk of my shopping done.

I want to be done early because my kids are coming home for Thanksgiving for a week! Woot! Plus we have three birthdays to celebrate that week as well, so I need to be organized in order to get it all done. :)

And once Thanksgiving weekend is over, life seems to get busier than I like. If we’re not careful, we can spend our time reacting to life rather than planning it out and living it well. I wrote extensively about keeping holiday sanity (and not breaking the bank!) in my ebook “Merry Christmas, Meager Budget” available here.  (<—also, grab 2 free chapters here as well.) Plus, we have an Instagram Giveaway of 4 copies of our eBook going on right now so head on over there to enter for you and a friend.

Here are some of my favorite things around the web. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy.

CRAFTY:: 1 Million free vintage images from the British Library.

Learn how artist/illustrator Renee Graef illustrates a book. She’s definitely one of my favorite illustrators.

MOTHERHOOD:: Sally Clarkson on teaching obedience to your kids.Sally Clarkson on teaching obedience.

Also, we’re newbies to the world of foster care but this was a great article about the need entitled “Wanted: Parents Willing to Get too Attached. Someday, when I can, I’ll write a little bit about the roller coaster of emotions that is foster care, but for now, we’re praying our way through this journey and loving on our little guy.

EDUCATIONAL:: This video: Watch 1000 Years of European Borders Change in 3 Minutes.

This 3D animation of how the heart works is fascinating.

CHRISTIAN GROWTH:: This super insightful post by Piper entitled The Major Obstacle in Forgiving Others might make you think twice about why you like to hold a grudge.

“… if we do this —if we really return good for evil, not the kind of manipulative way that hopes to really draw attention to the other person’s guilt…then very few people, if anybody, will know that we have been hurt.”

Holly Stratton’s article about relational struggles sheds light on our struggles with pride when faced with the pride of others and how God graciously uses other’s sin to show us our own.

KITCHEN:: This is by far my most pinned recipe: Copycat Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Chai Tea Mix. Great for fall and Christmas gift giving.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff via Allrecipes is one of my favorite recipes to make for a crowd. Serve with green beans, cranberry sauce and rolls. Yum.

BOOKS:: I am currently enjoying Relying on the Power of the Holy Spirit by Elizabeth George, and Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life, which I find myself coming back to again and again. Peterson is extremely insightful and calming, if you know what I mean. Her section on community and identifying with family after a loved one passes away was worth the cost of the book. Also, Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment. Because you can’t be godly and discontent, now can you? 😉 I wrote about that choosing contentment  even when life gets hard and what to remember when it does. 

What links did you enjoy this week? Feel free to share in the comments. Or if you blog, feel free to share one of your own links. Have a great weekend!

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Contentment is a choice.

Contentment is a topic that kept resurfacing over and over again this past week, and whenever that happens, I know the Lord is trying to teach me something.



Discontentment can creep into our hearts in the subtlest ways, like the other night when I just wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet. It had been a busy day, and I had met the needs of everyone in the house, and had a busy “ministry” day.

Peter made a nice fire in my fireplace so I could read, but I couldn’t seem to get to my bedroom to enjoy it. As I ran around, tidying up the house, I could feel the frustration building and discontentment growing each time I passed my bedroom and saw the warm glow flickering and heard the wood crackling. The internal complaining began:

What am I, the maid? Can’t I have five minutes to myself? Am I the only one with two arms and two legs in this house? Why am I doing everything?

God graciously convicted me after a few minutes that my complaining thoughts were not okay. Wanting a fire and solitude are wonderful things, good gifts, but

not the ultimate thing. When I desire good things too much, and it morphs into demands, you can be sure discontentment and covetousness are at the root.


Nobody wants to be discontent. I strive to be joyful, but without contentment,  joy is completely impossible and elusive.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve sat and listened to many women who find joy elusive. It’s always just out of reach because everything is not the way they’d dreamed. Happiness would come:

  • If I were thinner/prettier
  • If my kids weren’t so disobedient
  • If finances weren’t so tight
  • If I had an attentive husband
  • If I had a better childhood
  • If people respected me more
  • If that person would just leave
  • When this thing ____________{fill in the blank} changes

But do other people make us unhappy or is this just a way of blame shifting?

Jerry Bridges, in Respectable Sins says this:

“Your circumstances may be much more difficult than any I’ve ever experienced, but the truth is, it is our response to our circumstances rather than the degree of difficulty that determines whether or not we are discontent.

My contentment is not based on my situations or circumstances, but on my responses and the focus of my heart.  Contentment is a choice.

Lydia Brownback, in her lovely book “Contentment” says this of Rachel:

Jacob’s wife Rachel was never a very happy person. She wasn’t a very productive woman either. She spent the majority of her life seeking the things she wanted at any cost and at the expense of other people. God never satisfied Rachel, which is precisely why nothing else satisfied her either.

Discontentment is an equal opportunity tormentor and we see it in every walk of life:

  • the single girl who wants to get married and the married lady who wishes she wasn’t,
  • the woman who struggles with infertility and the woman who has so many children she can’t hear herself think,
  • the woman who lives in a teeny-tiny apartment and the woman who can’t stand to clean her enormous house,
  • the mom of toddlers who just wants a break and the empty-nester who thinks her life is over now that her kids are gone
  • the woman struggling to put food on the table and the richest woman in Hollywood.

When God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, He prefaced all ten of them with this statement:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

So when we’re breaking the 10th commandment by coveting (which is idolatry, because of discontentment) we’re forgetting the Lord our God.

I am the Lord thy God. Period. I am everything you need. You are no longer in bondage. I am in control. I am doing what’s right for you. If you follow my ways, you’ll be blessed.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Be content. Why? Because I am the Lord your God. I will never leave you or forsake you. You have everything you need.

Everything. If we have Christ, we have it all. Anything else is just an extra blessing.

Sow thankfulness, reap contentment.

How are you pursuing contentment?

*post contains Amazon Affiliate links to books I recommend at no cost to you.

When Life’s Hard, Remember These 4 Truths.

Life can be hard, let’s face it. It rarely ends up looking like we pictured or planned.

Our loved ones get cancer, children rebel, loved ones die, relationships fail. People who should nurture us end up scarring us. The evening news is maddening and terrifying.

How do you keep a godly perspective while walking this sometimes terrifying, discouraging, and uncertain path?


A friend shared these reminders with me and I wanted to pass them along to you as they were a great comfort to me.

During times of trials, remember:

1. I am here by God’s appointment. 

He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this difficult place; in that I will rest. (Ps. 130:6,7)

2. I am in His care.

He will keep me in his love and give me all that I need in this trial to behave as His child. (Is. 41:10)

3. I am under His training.

He will make the testing a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn, and working in me the grace He intends to give. (James 1: 12)

4. I am here for His purpose.

In His time He will bring me through. He will not abandon me. (Rom. 8:28)

Isn’t it wonderful to know that we never walk alone? That our life is not spinning out of control, and that God is indeed Lord of All?


An Unexpected Pathway to Blessing

There are days when I feel truly blessed. Like the days I wake up with no knee pain and plenty of Starbuck’s coffee. When my children are all super cooperative and the house is in order.

I think my idea of “blessing” is sometimes pretty shallow.

Yes, all of those things are good things and the Lord does bless us with all that we have, but I’m studying Acts right now and learning about a less obvious way that God blesses us.


In chapter 3, Peter and John are on their way to the temple to pray and they meet the lame man who was asking for money by the Beautiful Gate. They performed the first miracle of the church era with these familiar words spoken to the paralytic:

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts. 3:6)

Physical healing. What a blessing. People are taking note as a crowd begins to form to see this once beggar–now fully whole, walking-leaping-praising God man.

Peter was quick to give glory to God as he addressed the crowd and explain what just happened:

“Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power of piety we have made him to walk.

(Amazingly instructive verses. AS IF we did any of this ourselves. Look to the Lord! A good truth to remember as we work for the Lord.)

Peter then explains that the man was healed because of his faith in the risen Jesus Christ and how to be truly blessed. (Hint: it’s not the health or healing. It’s not the money.)

  • Repent and turn back to your God through faith in Jesus. That is the path of blessing.
  • Repent and receive times of refreshing and the promised Holy Spirit.
  • Repent and stop going your own way. Rather, “You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.” (v.22)

“God, having raised up his servant, {Jesus} sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (vs. 26)

What? Bless me by turning me from my wickedness? That’s rather unexpected, especially in a culture that promotes the health and wealth gospel.

Did it ever occur to you that your biggest blessing today might be the supernatural enablement to stop being wicked by the power of the Holy Spirit?

  • To hold your tongue when you feel like giving a piece of your mind?
  • To choose to bless when you know others are choosing to curse you?
  • To choose to love when it’s not reciprocated?
  • To humble yourself when pride reigns all around?
  • To serve where nobody else wants to?

Sometimes wickedness is so ingrained in us that we don’t see it for what it is. We believe that we’re born this way so we’ll stay this way, or reason that because I was brought up this way, that’s just who I am.

You were created to bear God’s image.

What does this mean? It means to look like Him, to love what He loves and hate what He hates. To represent Him well.

Wickedness is a defamation of who we were created to be and misrepresents God to others on this earth.

Every time we believe Satan’s lie that living life on our terms is the way of empowerment and happiness, we’re rejecting this pathway of blessing and not bearing His image well.

Every time we quench the Holy Spirit and neglect His prompting because we’re too proud to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we’re admitting that we don’t see holiness and sanctification as a blessing. We’re actually confessing that living life apart from God’s Word and directives is what we believe will make us happiest and bring blessing.

From the smallest child to the oldest adult, every time we choose sin we’re showing that we are still under the delusion of the old Serpent who whispers to all ages, “THIS will make you happy. “

This week, I’m praying that God will remind me daily that His way is best and that true blessing comes when we submit ourselves to His Word and forsake wickedness.

If you find yourself in the midst of a hard situation this week and you are struggling to see the blessing of God in your life, perhaps every time you fight against the flesh and choose obedience instead of wickedness, you’ll recognize how blessed you truly are to have the empowerment of the Spirit and the opportunity to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

Praying for you, my friends. So very thankful for this community of women. If you need prayer support or encouragement from God’s Word, I would be honored to pray for you. Feel free to email me at and I will answer as soon as I can.

Teach Your Children Virtues, Not Just Rules

The internet is full of advice for mothers. Full.

Yes, motherhood is hard. It is. No denying it. Tough days, frustrations, exhausted nerves pushed to the limit of almost crazy. We all know this.

Yet, in all of these discussions, one topic is lacking: teaching virtue.

We focus on rules because we believe that rules get results.

Yes, rules are important, for sure. Boundaries should be clear, consistent, and enforced. But rule keeping is only one side of the coin.

The other side–the reason for law and order–the reason for the commandments is virtue that allows us to love God and others well.

Do most people know what virtue is? In a world that’s false and Photo-shopped and me-centered, where does virtue fit in?

What does the Bible mean when it says, “If there be any virtue…think on these things?”

Virtue and Integrity go hand in hand. Virtue is the sense of what is noble, fair, right, just. It’s all that’s good. Integrity is the character that allows you to pursue virtue. It is the same in the light as in the dark. Integrity does the same in private as it does in public. When nobody else sees, a woman of integrity does what’s right.

A mom lamented that her child was sneaking food. The food is an issue. Chocolate before supper is naughty. But the real issue is a heart that was willing to deceive—to do something that they wouldn’t have done if mom was there.

Look for ways to teach virtue. More importantly, live virtuously.

So, for instance, a mom who yells at her kids but then answers her phone sweetly is not living a life of integrity.

The mom who screams at her child and then expects the child to respect her might as well forget it.

The mom who lies to her kids or exaggerates to others can’t expect her kids to trust her when they are older.

Bottom line: What will stop a child from lying? Is it your threatening? No. Only an elevation of the truth and the love of it.
What will stop selfishness and self-focus? Seeing the beauty of generosity and kindness against the backdrop of our own dark hearts.

What will stop a teen from gossiping or laughing behind someone else’s back? A love for justice and for protecting people.

What will stop any sinful behavior? Nothing–absolutely nothing, until you behold the humility and perfection of the Savior and want it for yourself. Seeing the virtue in our Savior shows us our lack and inspires us towards goodness and godliness.

Behold the Lovely


Virtue is a forgotten tool in the mothering toolbox.

Highlighting virtue in our daily lives inspires our kids to be noble. When we see goodness, we want to be good.

When we experience grace, we want to be grace-givers.

And then when we see injustice or are the recipient of hurtful behavior like prejudice or gossip, we should abhor the behavior, and it should propel us to love virtue even more.

2 Peter 1–

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

…For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You might be caught in the “no” cycle–saying no for wrong behavior more than you highlight noble behavior.

Have you praised the generous child who shared a cookie, or the unselfish one who offered a better spot on the couch during movie time, or the compassionate one who offered a hug when someone was sad?

I remember the hard days of parenting, but the good news is that children can grow into lovely, compassionate, virtue-loving adults. (Why don’t more people write blog posts about that!)

I have three adult child and three younger ones in the home, and I have been on both sides of the “hard parenting” stage. Can I just tell you how much of a blessing older children are when they exhibit the virtue of scripture?

My daughter Emily is sitting out for a semester. While she’s home she’s been clipping coupons for me and writing out the local deals. She takes initiative to straighten out the house. She’s generous with her money and loves buying gifts for people. She plays with our foster child. She offers her clothes to her younger sisters. All these things are not part of the rule following, but are part of the virtues growing in her.

Rebekah is a dorm counselor at Bob Jones University and she has a coffee ministry in her room. She offers French pressed Starbucks and treats to anyone who needs to talk. Last week I sent her fall napkins in a care package and she was so excited to be able to give her girls a cookie on a “pretty napkin.” She’s concerned with the needs around her and when she comes home, she jumps in with the needs here.

Matthew is generous almost to a fault. He texts to ask how our foster boy is doing because he misses him. He’s always on the look out for his sisters safety and even, occasionally, for mine. There’s nothing more attractive than kindness and gentleness in a man.

Although I love to brag on them, (ahem) I’m not using them as an example to say what a great parent I have been. On the contrary. I’ve stumbled along the way and had to learn on the fly.

I’m saying that the tough days do pay off. You’ll wake up one day to these wonderful adults and, like the pain of childbirth, you forget the trauma. 😉 Well, almost forget.

If you are in the trenches of the early years, make your child obey the rules, yes. Be consistent, certainly. But train them to love virtue and give them plenty of good examples to follow.

Praise them when they are good, and make virtue something to be pursued and emulated.

Don’t let “first time obedience” be your end all. Who wants to raise a rule keeper who is heartless?

After your child’s faith in Jesus Christ, mind 2 Peter 1 and “add virtue.” Don’t skip this.

Need parenting inspiration? Get into God’s word and look at the life of Jesus and talk about it. When you read with a heart to imitate the goodness, it highlights the virtue instead of always focusing on the forbidden.

Does that make sense? Let me know if I’m not clear in the comments or tell me what you’ve done to instill virtue in your kids.

Have a great day!


God’s Wisdom for Little Girls: Virtues and Fun from Proverbs 31
The Book of Virtues
Loving God with All Your Mind

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You Need To Rest Because You Are Not The Savior

“You can rest in Heaven.”

I heard this blunt one-liner many times as a child, and every time I hear it today, I cringe. I’m not sure who coined this callous phrase but I wonder if they had a “savior complex.”


In our pride, it’s easy to believe that WE are the reason that things get done when behind everything we do is the Lord, the Sustaining One, who holds us all together and gives us life and breath.

 Acts 17:28a, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being…

Busyness seems to be the American norm. Everyone runs themselves ragged. We have more conveniences than any other era and we still have no time.

I believe busyness has its roots in idolatry. We run ourselves ragged because we’re trying to keep up the appearance that we are good moms, ministry wives, business women, friends, etc. We serve these idols tirelessly and “busyness” is the means to this end and our bodies and spirit become collateral damage and totally depleted.

Eugene Peterson says that busyness is an “illness of the spirit” and “we are busy for two reasons: vanity and laziness.”

In the Contemplative Pastor he says,

“I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself–and to all who will notice–that I am important.”

Can you relate with this quote? Do you feel a boost in self-worth when your phone is ringing off the hook or you are running here and there to meet the needs of all.the.people. (“savior complex.”)

Remember Martha? Her problem wasn’t serving others, but trying to find her self-worth, significance, and meaning apart from Jesus Christ.

I just had a lengthy talk about this with my oldest daughter as we hashed out what it looks like to “serve” others with a humble mindset while balancing our own needs and schedule and not burning out.

She said something along the lines of “There are certain people who think “Leadership” means always having the answers, being the one everyone goes to…like they have no needs themselves. I like to look at counseling as, “Today, I’ll help you, and tomorrow, you’ll most likely be helping me.” (I just love her!)

I thought this was a great way to avoid becoming too big in your own mind and burning yourself out meeting needs you weren’t ever meant to meet, because

We have a Savior, and He has already come.

So have you allowed busyness to become a measuring stick for your self worth or your commitment to the Lord or the church?

When we get too busy, our body will rebel.

We ran quite a bit the last few weeks, so yesterday we took a “Beautiful Day” to recoup and refresh.

Beautiful Days include staying in our jammies late, sipping coffee on the couch while checking email or reading a magazine, lunch, a walk, music, a candle. We went to the Plymouth Waterfront for lunch and enjoyed watching the boats. We were still and quiet. We noticed the lovely all around us.

Are you run down? Maybe you need to plan for rest and refreshment? Especially you moms of littles who believe that you couldn’t possibly get out/alone for a few hours of leisure.

Let me warn you, don’t be a martyr mom. Don’t kill yourself trying to do it all and never think about your own well being. There’s nothing holy or noble about running your body into the ground.  I don’t see Jesus burning himself out in scripture. I see Jesus resting, getting away for private prayer and solitude, enjoying meals and weddings, and connecting with His disciples.

And then we have his lovely invitation for rest: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden (burdened down) and I will give you REST.”

Here are a few ways I’m resting and rejuvenating my body and soul these days:

How you exhausted? What are you going to do about it? :) Let me know in the comments.



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When Perfectionism Stops You

So, I haven’t been blogging much lately and a friend asked why. Know what? I’ve got all the excuses:

“I’m just so busy. I’ve got so many plates spinning. I’ve got a toddler again.” She could see through the words.

Truth is, I don’t like doing anything I can’t do well. I struggle with perfectionism.


So, since I can’t formulate thoughts as clearly as I like, and since I compare myself to other bloggers who are really gifted with writing, and who can actually edit properly, I’ve pretty much stopped.

My friend said, “I don’t think you realize what a blessing your blog is to so many women.”

I argued, “I can’t even think anymore let alone write. And my grammar– Ugh.”

She said, “You write really well. I don’t think you know that.”

This conversation repeated with another friend last weekend at a conference, and I finally decided that maybe the Lord was using these sweet friends to tell me something. God wants faithfulness not perfection. God honors obedience not ability.

So, my friends, here I am. Mumbled, jumbled thoughts and all. Less than perfect, but willing to encourage.

I’m hard on myself. Are you? Know what? Perfectionism is a lie that will paralyze and rob you of the blessings of obedience.

How do you recognize perfectionism?

It’s usually in those of us who have high ideals. We’re hard on ourselves and strive for You’re afraid of failure. You’re hurt by criticism. You worry too much about what others think. You believe if something can’t be done well it shouldn’t be done at all. Perfectionism is self defeating and unrealistic. It’s dreamland, honey, because nothing is perfect and we all just need to lighten up.

You know what? I don’t have to be perfect–and neither do you. Isn’t that just great and grace? The gospel comes in to save the day, yet again, in our daily walk–Jesus was perfect for me! I don’t have to be perfect, because I’m already loved, accepted, and it’s all okay because of Him. 

Don’t we all need to stop waiting until life is perfect before we step out and really do what God has put on our hearts? Don’t we just need to take courage and lift palms upward and offer our here and now rather than our “As soon as I get it all together, Lord!”

Don’t we need to affirm the truth that God ordains all of our days and our meetings and that the people we serve and the opportunities He brings are not by chance?

If we wait until we all have it all together before we serve, the truth is, the body of Christ suffers and your “light” on a hill disappears.

How are you wired to serve? What gifts has God given you? What is the desire of your heart? Do you love to write, paint, or cook? Do you have the gift of wisdom, discernment, or helps?

Did you know that you don’t need permission to use those good things for God’s glory and you don’t need to wait until you’ve perfected your game?

Did you know that your imperfect words of encouragement or your invitation into a toy-strewn house for a cold glass of lemonade might be the only encouragement offered to a weary soul today.

Just do it. I am. It won’t be perfect, but it will be something. It may not be remarkable, but that’s okay.

Faithfulness not perfection. Obedience, not ability.

What has the Lord been prompting you to step out and do?

I’d love to hear in the comments!


Too Busy To Abide

Wanted to share some printables that I made for my home using the art of Helen Allingham, an English watercolor painter who lived during the Victorian era. Her scenes are domestic and soothing, cozy and inviting. They mostly depict cottage life and pastoral scenes. They make me want to step into the painting and stay.

In my own devotions, I’ve been meditating on God as our dwelling place.

We’re all busy, aren’t we? And slowing down is a choice.  I’ve had to say “no” to good things so that I can make room for the “best” things and honestly, every fall as Peter and I evaluate our commitments,  I have to make the choice all over again because I can’t afford to miss structured time, intentional times, with the Lord.

Psalm 90 “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”

The words dwelling place conjure up images of relaxing, enjoying, reclining, and staying in one spot for a long time. In a world that is fast paced and glorifies the “busy”, we, by default, hesitate to abide. In fact, we’re too busy to abide. Abiding is for the lazy. Abiding is for the loafer. We’re Martha people with things to do and kids to raise and all.the.stuff. And yet God has called us to rest and refresh in Him.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us relate better to God as a refuge or a tower or a place that we dart in and out of in times of trials. When things get really bad, we reason, I know who I can count on: My Refuge. And when trouble comes, I know I always have the fall back: our Strong Tower. It’s like God is our default–plan B when we can’t handle life ourselves.

God wants to be our Dwelling Place.  Period. God never meant for us to live frantic lives independently of Him.

This is what I’m focusing on this week.

Anyway, I was very much blessed by a talk by Holly Stratton (SermonAudio) on Three Laws for Christian Women and I’ve made reminders for myself that you are free to print and enjoy.

The Law of our Mind: Christlike Humility

Helen Paterson Allingham 1

Phil 2: 6-8

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The Law of the Mouth: Kindness

Proverbs 31:26 “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

painting 2

The Law of the Heart: Forgiveness

image 3

Eph. 4:32

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”


I hope you have a great week. Feel free to share what you’re learning, reading, or listening to in the comments.