We just made a huge family move from Nashville, TN to Cincinnati, OH where the family is part of starting a new church, termed “church planting”. It has been quite the process: selling a home, buying another, packing, unpacking, finding new friends for the kids, fixing major issues with the home, new schools, new jobs, family, you name it. This morning was the first time in about ten months I even felt the room in my soul to try to write. Yes, it has been whirlwind, but maybe the winds are slowing down a little.

At times, I have felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Picked up by a tornado from my comfortable home and placed into this strange place where the old rules don’t apply and I’m just trying to figure out how to find someone who knows what is going on. Thankfully, I think I’ve discovered my own ruby red slippers, to find my way back home, except they won’t be taking me back to Nashville.

Philippians 3: 7-8
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

The Apostle Paul wrote those verses from prison, where he was shackled 24-7 to a Roman guard, one of the elite fighters responsible for protecting the Emperor. Many of these killers came to know Jesus as Savior because they were shackled to the greatest evangelist the world had seen.

But, I just let that sink in today. If Paul can consider everything he had ever done in life as loss, or better yet some translations say “rubbish”, or trash, compared to the greatness of simply knowing Jesus, then certainly I can too. At the end of the day, we must let the past pass away. We must let go of the past, with all of its achievements, disappointments, hurts and highs. And we must look forward, embracing our current circumstances and asking God how He wants to glorify Himself through us, even if we find ourselves chained up to professional killers like Paul did.

My eldest daughter and I recently went back to Nashville for a quick 40 hours to attend a wedding. We both agreed, it no longer felt like home. That was a little upsetting to me, because Cincinnati didn’t yet fully feel like home. But it hit me today, I must make this my home. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz always possessed the way for her to get back home: clicking her ruby red shoes, so we possess the way for joy in the midst of circumstances: our faith and trust in God’s plan.

Question: What circumstances is God asking you to trust Him through? What from your past needs to be let go and allowed to pass out of your life, so that something greater can come?

I was absolutely shocked as the news “brief” turned into a take-over of the radio program I was listening to in the car this afternoon. Good reason to be shocked. They were reporting on the second biggest school shooting in US history and it was an elementary school. I have three kids in a public elementary school. This one hit really close to home. After I was done crying and praying for those families whose loved ones were ripped from their lives today by a madman with four guns, I began to process the entire event.
This tragedy, like so many others before it, are opportunities for the rest of us to recalibrate our lives. Tragedy doesn’t come with a pre-scheduled appointment. Therefore, we must live our lives each day to the full. Here are a few thoughts I had about that.
1. Be reconciled to God. you don’t know when the last moments of life are, so you might not have the opportunity later. Do it now. If you don’t know where you will go when you die (two choices: heaven or hell), or if you had no idea about these things, take a minute to read this. There was a problem that man had: we fell short of God’s standard and no good deeds can make up for even one white lie, for God is perfectly holy. Therefore, God sent his only son, Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, to the earth to live the perfect, sinless life we should have lived and to die the horrible, tortuous death we should die, as a sacrifice in our place. Jesus rose from the dead, having conquered even death, all sin, and every other terrible thing. Because Jesus rose from the dead to eternal life and lives and reigns in heaven, by putting our trust in Him alone as Savior and following Jesus as our Lord, we too may be given eternal life and live forever with Jesus in heaven. If you don’t know Jesus, but want to, just pray now. Tell Jesus you are sorry for everything you did against him and his holiness, ask his forgiveness, acknowledge him as your Lord and Savior and accept his free gift of salvation!
2. Be reconciled to each other. If you have anything against someone else, I beg you today, make amends. And if there are issues in your family, work to resolve them. The apostle Paul tells us to make every attempt to live at peace with one another. Every one of the world’s wars started out with two unreconciled people. Forgiving someone doesn’t make what they did right, but it does release you from the bondage of unforgiveness. Have you ever seen a bitter old person? It is one of the ugliest sights on earth.
3. Tell your family how much they mean to you. Forget about all the stuff. Forget about the to-do list. Take a minute TODAY and tell those you love what they mean to you. Then make it a habit to keep this up. They should get embarrassed by how often you tell them. And the kids should say something like, “Mo-o-om, I know!” (insert know-it-all teenage type vocal patterns). Then you know they won’t question your love as a parent, as the young man who killed his own mother and many of her students in her classroom today clearly did. My prayer is that my kids will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Steve and I love them.

Question: What will be your response to the school shooting today?

I’ve been reminded of an important principle today while putting some lovely buckeye brown paint on the front door. If you want to paint a door right, you have to take off the hardware. Then, you paint the door. Lovely results today below on the painting, but then comes the hard part: putting the hardware back on!
That is the hard part. Taking things apart is always easier than putting them back together again.
Same principle goes for our lives: destroying our integrity, tearing up foundations or ruining relationships are all so easy to do. One careless word or thoughtless action can ruin years of building, especially in our covenantal relationships like marriage.
Of course, well-laid foundations in a relationship are harder to tear up than hastily laid ones, but the same general principle applies.
Proverbs 2: 10
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

Only the foolish would ignore wisdom, shun knowledge and forget discretion. These things are like my front door house lock: they protect the things I treasure most, my family and my faith.
Do wisdom, knowledge and discretion protect your life?


In my last blog post, I shared that I have been doing a lot of DIY projects to get our home in Nashville ready to list for sale. At some point, I will post some pictures, a la my friend Debt Free Decorating, with before and after shots. But I was painting in the dining room the other day and a scripture literally came to mind. The dining room’s original color was this great, deep red. The only issue was that red in a dining room was so-early 2000’s and a friend who knows these things recommended I go to a more subtle color, so as not to shock people right when they enter my home.
Do you know how hard it is to cover over red? I was told it could take five coats of paint, wow! So, I first put on two coats of an “oops” primer I picked up at Home Depot – anything to start muting the color. During my first coat of two coats of the lovely and evidently subtle new slate green color, I had a revelation about a verse in 1 Peter.

1 Peter 4:18
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sin.

Just like FOUR coats of paint were necessary to cover the red, the only thing that can cover our sin is fervent and patient love, love from God and love from each other. That word “cover” that Peter uses here is better translated as “forgive”. Just as it took me four coats of paint to cover the red, often my sin needs to be forgiven many times, sometimes in the same day it seems. During this process of planting a church and leaving the comfortable, every single insecurity I’ve ever struggled with has popped up and reared its ugly head.

Thankfully, God and my husband love me! God, who forgives and gently convicts, then helps me move past it, has been so patient with me in this season. And my husband, who has just hugged me and told me to pray, has been the encourager I’ve needed to move out of our comfort zone. And thankfully, I’m no longer struggling with those insecurities. Because of the love of God, I’ve moved from struggle to victorious. You no longer see those things, just like I no longer see red in my dining room.

Questions: Who is covering your sin with their love? Has God forgiven your sins and do you trust Him to continue this process? Whose sin do you cover?

As we prepare to sell our home in Tennessee and move to Ohio to plant Bethel Cincinnati, I’ve been doing LOTS of DIY repairs, sprucing up and much-needed painting. For the longest time, and I have no idea why, I’ve continued to use hand tools- screw drivers, hammers, etc. we have a power drill and other power tools, but in my mind, those are what my husband uses, not me. Well, in painting the LAST room of the house, I decided to use the power drill to take down curtain rods. Wow! What a difference! My hand didn’t ache after removing all 6 rods and mounts and it took about a third of the time. Why hadn’t I turned to power tools earlier in this process? Now I was regretting my stubborn adherence to hand tools,
It is similar in our faith journey with God. God has “power tools” ready for us to use, as we live our daily lives. All it takes is our asking Him for help. Just like I had to walk out to the garage and find the power drill, we have to stop what we are doing and talk to Him about our circumstances and what we need. In that moment, His grace is available to us in overflowing measure. Remember, He is powerful enough to raise Christ from the dead. He has great power ready for us. The question is, “Will we choose to use it?”

Ephesians 3: 18-21
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his might strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

I have been reviewing some of the community service bible studies available on the market right now.  This is all part of my journey to publishing the bible study I wrote last year on community service.  What I’ve noticed is that I seem to have written more of an academic study than a simple bible …

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