How Do You Peel A Boiled Egg?

Do you miss the mark of perfection? 

I tease my friend Dee about her PPS – Pre Party Syndrome. She obsesses over every detail, but her parties are awesome and everyone wants to be invited to them because her home is beautiful, her food is delicious, her games are fun and her hospitality is over the top. Occasionally, she allows guests to contribute which is how I ended up with the assignment to bring my specialty – deviled eggs.

On the day of the party, my boiled eggs did not want cooperate with me. The shells stuck to the egg white like they’d been super-glued. Big hunks of egg came off with the shells leaving me with the ugliest looking things I’d seen since I cut my own hair.

A Big Decision

I looked at those pitiful eggs and had a decision to make. Take ugly eggs to the party or take nothing. Everything in me wanted to trash the eggs and start over, but there was no time! The voice in my head chided, You can’t take those! They look awful! They are not worthy of a Dee party. She will be offended if you take them. No one will eat them anyway. Maybe you should stay home if that’s the best you can do!

Why is it so easy to let a little thing like ugly eggs undermine my value and make me believe my community will reject me – not my eggs, but me!?

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3 Ways To Overcome Discouragement

Ugh. The disappointment.

Today, when my 18th event cancelled, I had a good cry. For the rest of the day, I was down in the dumps. I didn’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. Who wants to read my stuff? traipsed across my mind. There was no cheering myself up. Completely, discouraged, I watched mindless television and ate 10,000 calories.

The devil’s in the details.

I’m confident that discouragement is our enemy’s favorite tactic to slow us down. Discouragement depletes your energy, self-confidence and stamina. It can be so oppressive, you don’t even want to try to find your way out.

Once I’m discouraged, I don’t need to be tempted, or deceived or attacked. I am out of commission until I find my way back to the the face of God.

Have you been discouraged? At some point, we all are. Here’s how to reset.

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Safely Landing On God’s Leading

The big adventure.

When I married Adventure Boy (Craig) he came with an airplane, a motorcycle and a riding lawn mower. He said, “Babe-a-licious, (cuz that’s what he called me), it’s absolutely ridiculous for you to own a vehicle you don’t know how to operate. So, I’m going to teach you to fly!”

That sounded like more fun than it was. Part of the required training to get a private pilot’s license includes stalling the engine till it feels like you’re falling out of the sky, making dizzyingly tight turns without losing a foot of altitude, doing so many takeoffs and landings your ears permanently plug, and learning to navigate by triangulating topical maps.

But, then there was night flying. Oh, Friend, there is nothing quite like floating above the earth’s twinkling lights with the moon hanging above you. It’s quite glorious.

Following procedures. 

Nighttime landings at small airports require pilots to rely on their instruments and the runway lights to guide them down safely. If you come in too low or too slow, you splat. Too high or too hot, you overshoot.

If you execute procedures correctly, you’ll follow the path of white runway lights to safety. (Don’t follow the blue lights, those are just for taxiing.)

There’s no room for improv or personal preference. There’s no margin for bad judgement. You must do the training and follow the procedures to stay safe.

The same principles that get pilots on the ground safely hold true for landing safely inside God’s will and leading.  For a reminder about discerning God’s guidance or leading, click here for a quick review.

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How To Trust God’s Goodness Even When …

Goodness, God! What are you up to?

Quarantining an extrovert who depends on PUBLIC speaking to make a living? How is that gonna work? Can I celebrate God’s goodness in light of these circumstances?

Are you asking a similar question?

To answer, start with what you know to be true. I KNOW God loves me and called me to write of His faithfulness, proclaim His name and teach His Word. Ironic that now I have no place to do that.

I have to remind myself of God’s goodness.

I look to the Bible for hope and inspiration and I find that God doesn’t promise fame and/or fortune and/or pain-free smooth sailing.

He simply asks me to trust him and to be faithful as life unfolds. Even when I don’t understand. When I absolutely want to know more. Especially when the outcome looks bleak.

I question, 

Not with my eternal future but with my RIGHT NOW circumstances. If you question, look no further than your Bible.

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Thankfulness Is Key To A Better Life

Want a longer life, better relationships and improved health? Be thankful! 

When my kids were little, it was important to instill the character quality of being thankful in them. They were prompted to say thank you to anyone who served them or gifted them. Their prayer time always started with a long and creative list of thank yous. As they grew, they thanked bus drivers for shuttling them, the cafeteria workers for doing the dishes and tow truck drivers for being so prompt. 

Being thankful has myriad benefits.

Being thankful rewards us with better health, cheerier dispositions and deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Thankful people enjoy a stronger sense of well-being, suffer fewer symptoms of depression and are less likely to seek revenge against others. They are more likely to have empathy for others.

We are told in Scripture, “In everything give thanks.” It is a directive straight from God, recorded by Paul. It is a divine expectation.

So how do you develop a habit of thankfulness?

1. Go without.

To gain a whole new level of appreciation and accelerate your thankfulness, go without something you take for granted!

Spend one day doing without food or electricity or hot water. Sleep on the floor a night or two. Give up sugar or coffee for a day or two. Spend a day or a week without television or radio or internet. Trust me, going without jumpstarts thankfulness.

2. Speak out thankfulness.

If you’re not ready to forego running water … spend a bit of time every day thanking God. You can speak it out or journal it, but see how many items you come up with. These are the first 25 in my journal.

  1. My salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.
  2. Mr. 4-Ever.
  3. The kids.
  4. My moms and dad.
  5. Holy Spirit guidance.
  6. Flannel sheets, slinky sheets and clean sheets.
  7. Heat in my house.
  8. A closet full of clothing.
  9. The color green.
  10. In house refrigerator, washer, dryer, garbage disposal.
  11. The work and ministry I do.
  12. All the safety I enjoy every day.
  13. The bills that are paid.
  14. My family of origin.
  15. The taste of raspberries.
  16. Freedom to vote.
  17. Ability to read.
  18. Coffee, tea, soda pop.
  19. Clean water – hot and cold.
  20. Medicine.
  21. First responders.
  22. Dogs and Cats and pets of all kinds.
  23. Mail service.
  24. Music.
  25. Kissing.

Thanking God reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us and the authority he holds in our lives.

3. Be thankful in all things – even if they’re hard.

Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote: “The best way to demonstrate faith is to say ‘Thank You.'”

You don’t have to be thankful FOR rotten things, but you can and should be thankful in the midst of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Find the silver lining. Look for the small bright spot in the situation. I call these lousy tradeoffs. When my kids moved out, I suffered in my empty nest, but then I realized how clean my house stayed – lousy tradeoff. In my grief after my man died, I lost all the weight I’d fought against for a decade – lousy tradeoff. When my mom was hospitalized with cancer, I got to spend lots of time with her – lousy tradeoff. All these hard seasons had a spot of hope or joy in the midst of them.

Thankfulness is character building and leads to a better emotional state, improved relationships, and clearer understanding of God’s heart.

Friend, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving. I hope your jello set sand your marshmallows don’t burn. May your turkey get done on time and be juicy and delicious. Let the people at your table encounter Christ through you. Spread thankfulness habitually!

In the comments below tell me what you do or you’re going to do to develop thankfulness.

Tomorrow Is A Procrastinator’s Favorite Word

Tomorrow is my favorite time zone.

Full of promise and opportunity. If you’re a procrastinator, tomorrow might be one of your words in not favorite time zones.

I live in an old farm house with closets the size of your refrigerator. Consequently, I only have room for in-season clothes. Off-season clothing hibernates in the basement. Last weekend, I switched out summer outfits for winter layers.

And I discovered a problem!

My winter bottoms like jeans and slacks were TIGHT! Oh well, I’ll just back up the ice cream binging a bit and I’ll be back in those clothes in no time.

But, wait. Culver’s flavor of the day is my favorite Dark Chocolate Decadence. I can’t start today, I’ll start my regime … tomorrow.

I’ll start … tomorrow.

The next day, I remember we have company coming for dinner in and it would be rude to serve them rabbit food and no dessert.

Again I said, “I’ll start … tomorrow.”

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Don’t Give Up Too Soon!

Don’t give up too soon.

It was 17 years from the time God called me to write my story to the time “The Widow Wore Pink” was finished. My literary agent pitched it to umpteen publishers. The book was rejected over and over. It felt like I was rejected over and over.

Whispers from the enemy said, “God can’t be trusted. He set you up to be disappointed.”

I could have given up with a sigh, It’s not meant to be. Or, It was never meant for publication – just family legacy, or (my personal favorite) It’s too late. You missed it. 

But, God …

When it was finally in print and released for sale, I knew I’d experienced a little miracle. That book has gone places and changed lives of women I will never meet. It has opened doors for me to speak that would otherwise slam shut in my face.

Don’t give up too soon. Don’t give up short of your gift arriving, your promise being fulfilled, your healing coming to pass or your deliverance delivered.

God does not make things easy. He makes things possible.

When we come up against hard things, we need to lean into God. As we wait, He builds our character. He builds our trust in Him. He provides fresh testimonies of faith when we trust Him to deliver what we cannot manufacture.

If we never bump into anything hard, we become sloppy and soft. We’d never grow, or experience miracles, or appreciate favor balls from heaven without hard stuff in our lives.

If God was a genie in a bottle instead of our loving father in heaven, we’d never even speak to him except to make a wish. And what kind of faith does that grow?

When all seemed lost

  • On the beach of the Red Sea (Exodus 14)
  • In the fortress of Samaria (1 Kings 6-7)
  • On the 6th day marching around Jericho (Joshua 6)
  • In the belly of the big fish (Jonah 1) 
  • On the road to Bethlehem (Ruth 1)
  • The day after Jesus was crucified

Biblical heroes and heroines in the Bible were tested in their faith and their fortitude. And were rewarded abundantly.

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5 Benefits Of A Hated Season

There are seasons for everything.

Some are lovely, others are brutal and hated. There are seasons you’re sure you can’t endure much less survive and yet, when they pass, you are stronger and wiser and your faith is bigger than it could have ever been without the season you just braved.

You may be facing a challenge right now.

What you want to hear is that everything will be okay, but I can’t promise that. What I can promise is that in the midst of this mess, God will be closer than you ever thought possible. In fact, when this thing you hate is resolved, what will remain is a connection and trust in God so deep and complete that as your heart heals, you will miss the closeness, and the need, of it.

This week marks 19 years since my Adventure Boy husband Craig took a routine flight that landed me in a hated season because he never arrived at his destination.

A search ensued that lasted for weeks. It was all-consuming. Not just for me, it imprisoned my children, my extended family, and all my friends. Life as we knew it just stopped.

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9 Ways to Ease The Agony of Grief

When the heart breaks.

My heart breaks as I listen to the news of killings in our country and around the world. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, when someone you love dies, it blows a hole in your heart, leaves a vacant chair at your table, and changes your life forever. My experience being widowed twice in four years gives me the expertise to say you can easy the agony of someone’s grief.

9 ways to ease the agony of grief. 

1.

Look for the person who is grieving. Smile at them. Talk with her or him. Don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say, or you feel uneasy. Push through the feeling of awkwardness; they need you.

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What Does Mother’s Day Mean To You?

When I mention Mother’s Day, what comes up for you? 

I’m so happy for you if you are really celebrated, but many women are not.

Mother’s Day can be a tough day for many. Women who have children eagerly wait by mailboxes and telephones and on the edge of their seat to see if anyone will acknowledge their day.

Women who aborted or surrendered babies for adoption often spend Mother’s Day lamenting what could have been.

For women whose mamas have died or those who have crappy relationships with their moms, Mother’s Day dredges up lots of old memories that either hurt or cement the realization there won’t be any new ones.

There are women who are desperate for children, but have none. They are expected to put on brave smiles and exuberantly celebrate those who do.

Women in the throws of child-rearing years – the ones who could really benefit from a day off, are the ones who work overtime on Mother’s Day to make sure the shopping, meal prep, cleaning and decorating is done so their mother or mother-in-law can be recognized and honored.

Even husbands fret and worry about Mother’s Day. Is a card enough? How about chocolates? Should there be flowers?

Changing the narrative of Mother’s Day.

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