Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mama Bear

 Last Summer I received a card in the mail and the writing on the envelope made my heart race.

My name was written so beautifully I had to look closely to see if it were handwritten or printed by a computer!
When I opened the envelope, the card inside had similar writing, telling me my card was handwritten!
A lovely surprise.
"Mama Bear"

I could hardly wait to open the card and discover who it was from!
And as I read the words, written as a lovely font, tears came to my eyes.
A girls who was a college student when I was a college pastor about 15 years ago had written me this beautiful card!  And immediately the memories flooded back as I would not mistake her writing anywhere.  I always joked that she was a "font," because her printing was unreal.
Now her font-like writing was laying before me like a piece of art and the arrangement of the beautiful lettering read like a poem.
"The Mama Bear Collection is all about encouraging mothers to remember who they are - 
strong, fierce, and enough."
She went on to thank me and encourage me as a Mama Bear.
I really was left speechless.

Today, there is more information swirling around for moms than should be allowed.
It causes us to worry and panic about every tiny decision we make for our children.
It also has had an even more damaging effect as it causes us to judge, give unsolicited advise and shame other moms who aren't doing it like we are.
It's really sad to see.
It's sad to experience.
It's sad to do.

Alisha launched her stationary business last year, Gold Press Paper.
Her motto is, "Words are Powerful - You are Powerful"
So true!
Our words are very powerful.
Words have the power to give life or bring death.
All too often as moms we use our words as weapons.
How amazing would it be if we blessed one another as Mama Bears?
If we fought FOR each other and encouraged each other with our words?
If we affirmed one another's decisions and differences instead of shaming?
We'd be a mighty ferocious pack!
Bless another Mama Bear today with mighty words of encouragement!

***head over to Alisha's site to find some amazing cards to send to someone today!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is It Too Late?

El Nino El Schmino!
Where is our rain?
So Summer has officially hit Southern California, 90 degrees, one 64 degree day of rain, followed by another 85 degree day!  They lied to us.
In the midst of this Summer heat, I totally forgot to prune back my roses.
Usually I cut them way back to nubs in January, but I kinda forgot that it was winter!
"Shoot, I forgot to cut back the roses last month," I said to my husband.
Walking out and looking at them today I found that they're thin and spindly.  
They have already sprouted some new growth and buds at the end of gangely branches.
They look horrible.
Do I cut them back now?
Is it too late?
Did I miss the window?
I don't know, but I knew I couldn't leave them growing as they are.
They look horrible!
As I stood in the hot sun, hacking at the rose bushes, wondering if they'll come back full and nice, I thought about parenting.
We are flooded with statistics these days like, "a child has fully formed their personality by age 3." AKA, if you're kid isn't super polite and kind and compassionate by 3, you're screwed!
Or "the brain has fully formed by age 5," so if you're kid isn't reading Shakespeare, speaking 2 languages and mastering 3 instruments by 5, most likely they won't be going to college.
(these aren't actual statistics, but you know what I mean!)
Or any of the other things they tell us to make us think that we've missed the window and it's too late as parents!
I've been feeling this way a little bit lately as some ugly behavior that was never fully extinguished is now growing in a spindly, hollow, ugly way.
Is it too late?
Should I have cut that off a few years ago?
Did I miss the window as a parent to form polite, gracious children?
 As I chopped the roses, getting stuck with thorns and burned by the sun I again thought of parenting.
It is never fun to discipline a child.
It is painful and we can easily get burned.
Isn't it easier to just stay inside where it's cool and avoid the hard work?
It's too late any way, they are who they are.
But like the roses, I can't just leave them that way.
Growing wildly without boundaries or attention.
It's so unattractive.
And even if there are a few great moments of politeness, like new buds on the ends of ugly branches, they still aren't appealing.
I really believe that it's never too late to correct a child.
Discipline is done out of great, deep love.  And we all know it's never too late to love someone!
No matter how out of control we feel or overwhelmed, it's never too late.
And just like I'm confident that my hearty, stubborn roses will come back beautifully, I know that children can be trained and transformed, even past 5 years old!
So, regardless of what the books say, I'm pruning roses and kids!
Because no matter what the season is, they both need it!

(I'll post pictures in a few months to see the new, beautiful, healthy growth!)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pure Heart

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God."
After taking a holiday break, The God's Girls gathered again to kick off our new series, "Body Parts."
We will be going through various body parts and discussing what the Bible has to say about them and how we, as girls who belong to God, are to use our mouths, eyes, hands, feet... to please God.
We kicked off with the heart, it being Valentine's week and all!

The heart is talked about so much in the Bible.
It is the place where we invite Jesus to come in and take over our life.
Why not the brain?
The brain seems to be mission control for the body, the hub of all communication.  
Why don't we ask Jesus into our brains to take over our life?
In Matthew 15 Jesus tells us that out of the heart comes our words and our thoughts.
What?  Doesn't our mouth speak and our minds think?
There is something about the heart that is the center of all of us.
The heart directly influences the mouth.
The heart guides the mind.
What we value most is where we place our hearts.
The heart determines how we live.
And Jesus told us that those who have a pure heart, will see God!
I want to see God!

 If your heart is clean, pure, then everything else in you will be pure too.
Your thoughts, your words, your actions, your desires.
They all come out of your heart.
When our thoughts are coming from a pure heart,
 they are not distracted and they are focused on God and we see Him all around us.
When our words are coming from a pure heart
they are not harsh or rude, but a blessing and a gift that allow others to see God.
When our actions are coming from a pure heart
we are not acting for our own fame and glory, 
but for the benefit of others and the glory of God and we see Him.
And when our desires are coming from a pure heart,
 we are selfless and seek to please God through doing His will, 
which is always where we see Him.

The God's Girls made bookmarks.
Using pencil erasers dipped in paint to decorate them.
At the bottom of the bookmark we punched a small heart out.
When I laminated the bookmarks, the heart hole was covered by the plastic,
 making a window of a pure heart.
Truly our heart is a window into who we are.
If our heart is cluttered, dirty, or covered up, no one really sees us.
But when our heart is pure, people can clearly see into who we are,
and because we are all made in the image of God,
they will see God.

Search me God and know my heart.
Investigate my life, find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
see for your self whether I've done anything wrong - 
then guide me on the road of eternal life.
Ps. 139 MSG

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Macky Bear 7

From the moment you were born little baby boy, I knew something was different.
You stole my heart like non other and I just couldn't keep my lips off your cheeks!

 You are such a special boy Mack.
You're heart is tender and sensitive.
You have a deep desire for everyone to know Jesus and you pray earnestly for your friends.
You are kind and compassionate.

 "I want to make my own Valentine's for my class Mommy.  
And I'm going to make Natalia's the most special because she has cancer."

You have a deep understanding of God and His grace and mercy.
You are quick to say you're sorry and quick to forgive.

As I sat at the computer one evening, long after you were asleep, 
I heard someone come in behind me.  You were crying.
"What's the matter buddy?"
"Mommy, remember when Georgia was at swim practice last year and you brought me goldfish for a snack?  You asked me if you could have some and I didn't share.
I'm so sorry Mommy."
As you lay in bed at night, you contemplate your days and the regrets that are brought to mind hit your little heart and you go to make things right.

Macky, you have a sensitive heart that desires purity and God will use you in mighty ways.

You make me laugh all the time.
You are so quick witted and funny!
Your confidence is a gift that allows you the freedom to be who God has made you to be.

Your sissys love you soooo much, sometimes perhaps a little too much!
But the day is quickly approaching when you will tower over them and take great care of them!
"Macky, do you want an ice cream sandwich?"
"YES!  But let's wait until sissys get home so they can have one too."
You are selfless and have always wanted to include your sisters in all the joys of life.

You're 7 today!
A new year is before you.
I pray that God protects your tender heart and continues to draw you closer to Himself.
I pray that your compassion for others deepens as you grow up in a world that desperately needs to know God's love.
I pray that your sense of humor brightens up the days of all you come in contact with.
I pray that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved and that 
God has great plans for you.

Happy Birthday Mack!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


First of all, I must say that I had some of the best food of my life in Austin Texas!
Little food truck named,
"Shut Up and Eat"
"Are You Gonna Eat or What?"
I don't know, but they gave me the sandwich of a lifetime!
Mesquite smoked turkey, shellacked in jalapeno jelly, fried green tomato, chipotle aiole.
 House made chips.
I died.

Second Bar Restaurant, best gnocchi of my life!
I might have licked the bowl when no one was looking.

Coopers BBQ
Brisket, beans, white bread, macaroni and cheese (which the Texas native with me said was one of the best!) pickles and peacan cobbler!

Not pictured was the fried chicken eggs bennedict I had on the way to the airport!
I must go back to Austin just to eat more!

In Austin, I attended the IF Gathering.
A Gathering of 2000 women in Austin, hundreds of thousands of women live streaming all over the world, to come together to be equipped in the name of Jesus and be unleashed out into our communities to make a difference.  We explored the question, "What IF we lived like Jesus?"
In the past few days since being home, I have tried to start unpacking the experience of
the IF Gathering and I've realized a few things.
First of all, I didn't know I was starving going into the Gathering.
Looking at all these pictures of food, I kinda think, "how did I eat all that?"
But an empty belly can hold much.
Just as an empty soul can hold much.
With all of the rich truth that was poured out at the Gathering, I never seemed to be uncomfortably full, like Thanksgiving full.  Instead I just received all that was offered, realizing that my soul has been starving for solid, rich truth for a long time.
My appetite for solid food was awaken as I realized that I've been drinking Spiritual milk for far too long.  I don't know how my faith in Jesus has been subtly watered down over the past few years, still growing and being nourished, but not in a way to produce an abundance!
Just in a way to produce enough to look "productive."
But devouring meal after meal after meal of God's unmistakable truth, spoken from a place of deep conviction and passion did not leave me uncomfortably full, but quite the opposite.
It left me awake, alive and longing for more.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
I often think of Lent as being a season of fasting.
A season of identifying with the suffering of Christ by depriving ourselves of something we enjoy.
I'm not giving up anything today.
Instead, I'm indulging.
For the Lenten season, I'm going to feast on the rich Word of God more than I have before.
I'm going to identify with Him through knowing Him more,
spending time listening, reading and praying.
I'm going to indulge in His rich, delicious truth that not only gives life, but gives life to the full!

Sometimes we don't even know we're starving until we have a meal that awakens all of our appetite.

Monday, February 8, 2016


I just got back from 4 days in Austin Texas at the IF: Gathering.
It was a women's conference and going into it, that was about all I knew.
We had many questions, 
"What are we going to?  What is this thing?  Who will be there?  Who is speaking?  
Is there a theme?"
Ending with our final, joking question, 
"What the if?"
Since we were traveling from California, you'd think we would have sought some of these answers prior to purchasing airline tickets!  But no.  
We just knew we needed to be "there," whatever "there" was.

Holy smokes!
4 days later and I have a lot of unpacking to do!
It was like going to an all you can eat buffet, where after 20 minutes of eating ridiculously rich food, your stomach aches, yet you cannot stop eating because the delicacies around you are far too valuable to leave without sampling.  So you start stuffing food in your pockets, your purse, your pant legs and even your ears so you don't miss a single morsel.

I felt as though I was in the current Hall of Faith with some of today's greats.
There was not one keynote speaker.  There were about 30!!!
Yea, just about 30 different people sharing golden morsels of truth 
in the short span of about 14 hours!
Well now I'm stuffed to the gills and have a lot of unpacking to do.
A lot of processing.
A lot of going through notes, praying, journaling, praying and then some more digesting to really understand what I just encountered.

I'm excited to share with you what God spoke through His servants at the IF:Gathering.
But I'd love for you to hear some of it for yourself!
Today only you can watch the live stream for free!
So, grab a pen and paper, a glass of water and your baggy pants because you will be filled to the gills!

Go to 
register to watch the live stream
at the top menu bar, click on "archives" to start at session 1

My favorites were:
Jo Saxton Session 1, 54 minutes in   time marker - 54:00
Beautiful Indian woman Session 2, 3 hours into the session    time marker - 30:33
Eugene Cho Session 3, 2 hours into the session   time marker - 2:00
David Plat Session 4, almost 2 hours into the session    time marker - 1:54
to name just a few!!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Excuses Excuses

Lately I've had some ideas and dreams that I'd like to make happen.
I dream and jot down thoughts and get really excited.
Only to loose steam a few days later when the reality of
"I have no idea how to make that happen" darkens all hope.
I wouldn't know where to start
I wouldn't know who to ask
I'll just go back to doing the dishes and laundry!

There is so much practical knowledge that I'd need to make some of my dreams come true.  Practical knowledge that I don't have and don't know where to get it!
Everyone seems to want to throw out advise and suggestions, at which I politely nod and smile.
All the while I'm thinking,
"It sounds like you're speaking German to me because I haven't a clue what you're saying."
You know, the suggestions that others think are so obvious and simple, 
but to me it's a foreign language.
So I let the ideas fade away with my legitimate excuse of "I just wouldn't even know where to begin."

Well, I read a great word from Rick Warren the other day that totally smacked me in the face!  He was talking about Noah building the ark.

"There were problems that could have caused Noah to doubt.  First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the Flood, God irrigated the earth from the ground up. Second, Noah lived hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.  Even if he could learn to build a ship, how would he get it to water?  Third, there was the problem of rounding up all the animals and then caring for them.
 But Noah didn't complain or make excuses.  
He trusted God completely, and that made God smile."

First of all can I just say that my seminary educated self didn't know that 
prior to the Flood there was no rain!  
What the what?
But seriously, there were so many legitimate excuses Noah could have thrown down because truly he had no idea where to begin with what God told him to do.  It was all like a foreign language.
Rain?  What's that?
Giant ship?  Never seen one.
It's supposed to float?  But where's the water?
Herd and care for all the animals ever created?  Not qualified.

But he didn't make excuses.
He trusted God to provide the plan and He did.

Thanks Noah.
I needed to be challenged to stop making excuses of all that I don't know, 
and just trust God to give directions to make these dreams of mine come true!
I heart Noah.


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