My Finest Recipe

The recipe everyone wants. 

Last week, I made the best balsamic Brussel sprouts … ever!  They were so good, everyone at the potluck wanted the recipe. (That didn’t surprise me, cuz I got the recipe at a different potluck.)

Though the recipe was simple, the dish was not easy to make. It took planning, timing, prepping and double-checking the instructions to make sure it would turn out well. But it was worth it to see it consumed with glee and share the goodness with others.

We readily share recipes for lasagna, banana bread and glazed Brussel sprouts, but what’s the recipe for a life that works?

The recipe for disaster.

I tried all sorts of things before Jesus.

  • Drugs.
  • Men.
  • Food.
  • Shopping.
  • Will-power.

Nothing worked till I surrendered my life to Jesus and found a woman to disciple me. Louise recognized how quickly a girl like me, who knew little about God and nothing about the Bible, could get discouraged or misled, so she took me on like a project and never made me feel like one. She provided a safe space for me to ask questions I was too embarrassed to ask in class.

  • How do I talk to God?
  • Where do I start reading the Bible?
  • Is there forgiveness for my past?
  • How can I let go of the pits and patterns that keep me stuck?
  • Where do I find peace in the midst of cruddy circumstances?
  • How do I know if God is leading me or if it’s my own idea?

Louise discipled me from starting out to standing firm. Could you do that?

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Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Ever been scared? So scared and there’s nothing you can do about the situation? 

I was just there and it wasn’t any fun, but I learned it’s never as hopeless as it seems and there is always something you can do about it.

Dave, who never gets sick, got violently ill. Pretty scary for a gal who’s already buried 2 husbands. He had a fever, chills, muscle aches, light-headedness and stabbing pains through his mid-section. Right away, I was ready to call an ambulance, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Men!

Of course, I fretted and feared. But then I realized that while circumstances were out of my control, they weren’t out of God’s. I started banging on the gates of heaven for relief, and for healing, and I called in reinforcements to pray with me in agreement.

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Changing Seasons

Mothering means lots of changing seasons.

Done correctly, it means there will be sleepless nights and hot tears on your pillow. It means lots of messy moments and endless challenges. It means robust celebrations and a million prayers.

In essence, the role of mother requires you to teach your kid not to require you anymore. It means your kids will grow up and leave you behind. And trust me, you will never be ready for that moment. 

The moment of separation.

When my boy completed his training as a fire fighter in Charleston, S.C., he called to tell me about the details of his graduation ceremony. He was so happy. It made the fact that he lived 1000 miles away almost worth it to know we’d finally be celebrating his dream of becoming a firefighter.

“Mom,” he continued excitedly, “The Chief will there to present my diploma personally. She’ll shake my hand and give me my official badge. I’m even allowed to ask someone to walk on the stage with me! It’s supposed to be a person of importance. A person who has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a firefighter.”

I waited for it. In my mind, I could see us walking across the stage, me beaming with pride and smiling as I pinned the DYKSTRA badge on his crisp blue uniform shirt.

He continued, “Mom, I asked Kym to walk with me. I’m going to marry her this summer and it seemed like the right choice. I didn’t think you’d care. You don’t care do you, Mom?” 

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Where Is God When You Need Him?

Are you in the wilderness?

Are you in a season of wondering if God cares about you or even sees you? Does it seem like He led you into a wilderness and forgot where he left you?

I feel like that a lot whenever I launch a new series of talks, a service, or book. I have a “moment” or two when it feels like I might have misread the signals God sent. That I am all alone and forgotten. That I will die out here in the wilderness.

Then God shows up in some extravagant way to reassure me that I am not forgotten at all. That’s what happened when Almida said she had a present for me. 

I need to tell you Almida is an interesting woman. Her wisdom, life experiences and prayers have been my life line for decades. Russian by birth, she escaped the Nazis by walking across Europe only to live in a refuge camp for months before getting a sponsor in the US. She made a living as a tailor until she married an entrepreneur who made a boatload of money as a building developer. Her husband, Willy, died at 41 in a plane crash leaving her devastated. Her grief was compounded when Willy’s business partner bankrupted the business, depleting her resources and retirement.

Almida is now 87, and resides in an assisted living facility. The pain in her hip is her constant companion, making an outing to any store a major ordeal. She’s frugal by necessity and was never a big believer in “good behavior” gifts. It wasn’t my birthday and Christmas was long gone, so I couldn’t imagine what gift she might have for me.

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Perfection is an Evil Taskmaster

Does perfection impede your progress and alienate you from others?

I used to work in an office with Griselda* who knew everything about everything. She scrutinized every single phone conversation I had, every document I created and every chart I filed – for my own good and the good of the office, of course.

And she didn’t just “supervise” her co-workers. One day, a single mom with two little kids came into the office. While the mom was doing her business, the children got curious and noisy in the waiting area. From her desk, Griselda sternly chastised them into cowering submission, mortifying the mom and the rest of us onlookers.

The cost of perfectionism.

I’m all about doing your best, but when perfection is the taskmaster, and you can’t measure up, it sucks the want-to right out of you. Being told by someone else (or yourself) you need to be perfect wears you out and keeps you from experiencing new things and new people. 

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You Don’t Have To Live In Isolation!

 

What is a blonde’s favorite color?
Glitter.

Why do blondes always smile during thunderstorms?
They think someone is taking their picture.

Judge Free Zones

These jokes make us chuckle because we can all relate to blonde jokes. Everyone has moments of silliness. But in real life, NO ONE wants to look too “blonde”. No one wants to be judged as foolish … or ignorant … or stupid. We all want to be accepted and appreciated.

In days gone by, several generations lived on the same property if not in the same house. The advantage to having such close proximity to family members of many generations is you were allowed to learn from one another. How to:

  • Make a house a home.
  • Prepare and preserve food.
  • Raise responsible children.
  • Handle husbands with respect.

You know what else you get to see in such close quarters?
Problems!
Flaws!
Mistakes!
Which in turn gives you permission to be imperfect.

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The Enemy of Hope is Discouragement

The enemy of your soul has no shortage of ways to create havoc in your life.  Fear, calamity, doubt, shame, illness, lies … the list goes on. But his most powerful weapon is discouragement.

Last week I was passed over for a big speaking job that I really wanted. I thought I had a good shot at it. I was qualified and available. My fee range was well within their honorarium budget. It was easy driving distance to the venue. I had a great rapport with the event planner. But, I didn’t get the gig. Someone else will be speaking there next year.

Ugh. The disappointment.

For the rest of the day, I was down in the dumps. I couldn’t engage with other potential clients via phone or email. Who would hire me? was the recording playing in my head. I even had writer’s block. But then, who would read my stuff anyway? I thought to myself. I tried to cheer up, but the discouragement was overwhelming. Does that kind of discouragement ever fall on you? 

I’m confident that discouragement is our enemy’s favorite tactic to disable us.

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Is God Your King or Your Body Guard?

 

 

A couple weeks ago, I was speaking at a retreat and I told the story of when I was saved by Jesus. 

My boyfriend had taken me to a Christmas program when I received the good news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died to pay for my sins and rose from the dead after 3 days in the grave. That because he was raised from the dead, I could be, too.  

That was good news! So I took out a get out of hell insurance policy and got saved.

I was saved ……… but I wasn’t surrendered. I wanted a Savior, but I didn’t want a King. I wanted to rule my own life.

I proceeded to treat God as a body guard. God was to stay out of my way unless my life was in imminent peril, then he had my permission to toss around a lightening bolt or two to save my life.

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Does God Listen to Your Prayers if You’re Naughty?

As a national Christian speaker, I hear the secret questions that women ponder. One that keeps women up at night is,
Does God listen to my prayers if I’m naughty?

There are those who will tell you that God does not listen to the prayers of sinful people. I’d have to disagree. If being naughty disqualified you from having God’s ear, no one would have it.

  • Especially not a murderer like Moses or Paul.
  • Hotheads like Peter and Samson would certainly be disqualified.
  • Rebels like Jonah and Abraham would never get God’s attention.

Priscilla Shirer says, “Do you really think God loved you enough to die for you but doesn’t love you enough to talk to you?”

Now it’s true that if you have a huge sin in your life, it could be an obstacle to hearing from God.

But, that’s on you. God doesn’t distance himself from us. Our shame and guilt keeps us from approaching himI recently had a falling out with a girlfriend. I hurt her feelings and there was a rift between us. Consequently, I did not go out of my way to see her or call her or run into her. I even avoided going to places where I knew she’d be! The disharmony between us made me want to avoid her. It wasn’t until I acknowledged my mistakes, said I was sorry and asked her to forgive me did I want to spend time with her again.

The same is true when I hurt God. When I am being naughty, or haven’t dealt with my sin, I do not want see him, or hear him or be with him … until I admit my misstep, say I’m sorry, and ask him to forgive me. Only then will I want to spend time with him. Only then will I feel worthy to approach him. 

If God didn’t listen to the prayers of naughty people like me … and maybe like you, he wouldn’t hear anyone’s prayers.

But he does. The Bible says so. Jer 33: 3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  God is on the edge of his throne waiting to hear from you. 

The Lord loves to hear from naughty people like me and you… so he can tell us that we’re forgiven and we’re loved, and that he has wonderful plans for us.

What’s holding you back from talking to God today? Drop a comment below and tell me what your prayer is today. 

Prayer: Lord God, I am so thankful that you are always at the ready to hear from me, guide and direct me, forgive me and reset me. Thank you for a do-over every time I need one. Your love sets me free. Amen. 

Reframe Memories To Rewrite Your Story

Does this happen to you? You’re cruising through your day, or your desk, or your drawers and you tumble back in time? You hear a song, catch the scent of an old flame, or find a photo from the good old days and your past comes roaring into your present. You can let the past haunt your future or you can reframe the memory to rewrite the story. 

While purging items in my closet that didn’t fit my style anymore, (or to be perfectly honest, didn’t fit my mature, more generously padded frame) I stumbled across two of my dead husband’s favorite shirts.

It stopped me in my tracks.

For decades those shirts lay folded and waiting to be put in rotation again. Even more than a photograph or nostalgic song on the radio, the sight and feel of them took me right back to a time when we were young and bulletproof and all was well with us.

I kept them because they reminded me of my Hot & Hunky Hubz who died in his sleep of a heart attack at the age of 39. I kept them because I thought one of my boys, who were 7 and 4 at the time of his passing, might grow into them and I would see them repurposed, resurrected.  I kept them because I thought I would see a version of Hot & Hunky again.

I held onto them because a part of me couldn’t let go of that time when all was well.

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