Living By Design: Knowing God First

Notes for session 2 of FNF bible study for April 17th 2020.

Backdrop of life:

To _______ God

To_______ God

To _______ make God ________

To know God:

Know- Know-KnowFrom knowing to recognition
Gal. 4:8-9Phil. 3:10Eph. 4:11-13Luke 24:13-35  
John 17:31 Cor 13:12  
1 Cor. 8:1John 8:28,32  
2 Peter 1:3-8  
Do you gnosis Jesus? Or epiginosko Him?

Knowledge (epiginosko) leads to love.

To know God is to _______ God.

How do you grow in knowledge that leads to love?

  1. Open ___________ 
  2. __________ in your calling 





How do we express love to God?

Matthew 28:18:

John 17:20-23:

John 13:35:

Biblical Womanhood: I am a Protector

I am starting a new series: Biblical Womanhood.  I am uncovering the 4 areas of purpose in a woman’s life: marriage, motherhood, ministry to the church and ministry to the world.  As culture leaves us confused over gender identity, gender roles, and our purpose as women I have been searching high and low in Scripture so that Christian women don’t have to wonder what their purpose is.

The first purpose God gave woman was in marriage. The world, media, and culture has robbed us of a true picture of God’s design for marriage. We have a picture of drudgery, burden, door-mat status, 2nd class citizen, fill-in-the-blank. Some women confess that they’ve only ever heard it preached that women’s role is to be submissive without a theological explanation of how or what the word means broken down. That men are the authoritative definitive voice in the marriage and women must submit to their authority. In our lifetime we haven’t had a true illustration of God’s original design for woman in marriage.

I’ve heard it preached many times that a woman’s role in marriage is her husband’s helper. But I never quite got how I should help him? As a house wife, I can pull a good weed in the garden, help mow, make dinner, change diapers, shoot, I can even give a good back rub! but I am not sure this is exactly what God had in mind when He made Eve. Although given the greenery she dwelled in, the pulling weeds part just might’ve been one.

One role I’ve never heard preached before is the role of ‘protector’.  The word for helper is ‘Ezer’, it literally means to help in times of hardship and distress. I read more. There is a root word that means: surround, protect, aide.  And I still need help understanding.  I need examples! {Ever feel like you just need some visual aides?  Like when your building a piece of furniture from Ikea and you just need a little visual.} So, I dig more and find that the same word is used is 19 other times in the the Old Testament and every time it is used it is to describe the Spirit of God as helper.  GOD AS HELPER!!!  In other words when God created women he inserted a strand of Helper-DNA cause he knew man was gonna need it. Let me repeat that, the same Spirit of God Almighty, YAWEH, the Almighty Healer, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I am, The Redeemer, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave was given to woman to surround, protect and aide their husbands in times of hardship and distress.  Now that’s strength ladies!

So, the question remains after reading the 19 other passages how does God want me to surround, protect and aide my husband with the same image of help He provides His people.  I can do this by:

  1. Surrounding him in prayer (the word ‘ezer also means to surround). Pray for him in all areas of purpose God has given him. That he wouldn’t be deceived. Pray over his bedside, make a war room out of closet.  He is your first priority in ministry. I’ve started to surround my husband when he gets home. I gather the kids and we make a circle around him and pray that he take off the word day and welcome him home. Try this, it’s powerful!
  2. Providing a safe home.  The world is an ugly place, does your husband have a place to rest in when he gets home.  Is it safe from criticism, safe from hate, violence, disrespect, negative thinking, temptation? We have the power in how we treat our husbands as much as what we expose our husbands to. We can encourage spiritual growth by canceling the Victorias Secret catalog, or not encouraging shows that are not appropriate for the male-eye. All guys were created to “look”. Think Adam looking at Eve. We can encourage our husband’s accountability in this area by  helping him stay faithful when he is at home. (also, read Everyman’s Battle, Arterburn, Stoeker, Yorkey)
  3. Protecting him from the darts of his enemies (Does your husband know that when others think the worst of him you still think the best?) When David cried out to the Lord in Psalm 70:1, David knew he didn’t deserve God’s protection based on his merit but he also knew God wasn’t looking at his past nor was he keeping a track record of his mess-ups and failings. He cried out to the Lord in confidence that God was looking deep into the man he really was…”a man after God’s own heart.”
  4. Protecting his reputation.  Do you give him honor in-front of others? There’s a place to seek counseling for marital issues.  Venting to friends or the company Christmas party is never helpful in helping a spouse grow.  If you want your man to reach his full Christian-man potential start with this one. The Proverbs 31 woman must’ve practiced this one well. In all of that passage it only mentions her husband’s character once. It speaks of his reputation.  Did they have a perfect marriage? Unlikely, they were after all human but she did practice a discipline that is extremely difficult in our age of venting, self-gratification, the era of social injustice outcry, and the I-everything generation. She practiced the art of self-control.  Our cultures trains us to care more about our reputation, our needs, our rights, that we often forget about the man we are doing life with. The man that apparently needs us more than we knew.  We don’t need to vent. {A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.- Proverbs 29:11}
  5. Comforting him.  I love the very short picture we get of  Rebekah in Gen. 24:67, an illustration of a wife comforting her husband. There are not many details but the transfer from mother to wife, from mother to comforter is apparent. How precious is the gift to {help} heal our husband’s wounds, calm his distress, lift up head and help him through tough times in life. So many times we miss opportunities to help heal our husbands because we are too busy with our own happenings or too busy living like enemies.
  6. Helping with economic stress. On this one the Bible isn’t black or white. To work or not to work that is the question. If there is financial stress in the marriage somethings gotta give. Sometimes our spiritual convictions are not our husband’s. Ask him where he needs help? If your a “stay-at-home” mom is the choice to stay home mutual? Than maybe less spending is necessary.  In our house we live by a budget, that saves us so much stress. However, we also love to spend and give leeway to unnecessary purchases and credit card debt…(which by the way I am happy to report are now cut up and taken off my apple wallet…I think I wanna cry). The point is to initiate help in this area, seek counseling if it is necessary, make a plan, be supportive (even if it means you can get those new pair of shoes…I am crying for you).  And if your husband is the spender and it’s hurting your marriage then maybe intervention is needed?!! In that case feel free to send me his credit cards and I’ll take care of them;).

Remember none of this is impossible…hard maybe…impossible, no! We, apparently have the spirit to do it! Now, let’s live it.



Dear Men: What Every Woman Needs but Might Not Say It



  1. We need a strong leader, not an overbearing one.  We don’t want to walk all over you either even if we treat you like that sometimes.  Please forgive us. We’ve lived in a feminist world for a long time and are confused about what we want but what we really need is a strong man in our life.  It’s attractive.  Every woman was created just a little different than a man (regardless of what feminist say, it’s in the science so there!) We want to know you can protect us from bad guys.  You don’t have to be Hulk just be tougher than us.
  2. We need a good daddy that spends time with his children and wants to spend time with his children.  Trust me we can tell the difference and so can they.
  3. We need you to care when we talk. I know we can do a lot of it.  Bear with us.
  4. We need you to understand that the female brain is complicated. Ok, maybe you know that one already.  We don’t really get it either sometimes.
  5. We need you not to quit on us.  Because if you do you’ll find issues with the next gal…cause they’re complicated too.
  6. We like men who work hard (but not late) and we like to see you sweat in the yard.  (I surveyed other women, ok?!)
  7. We need you to be responsible with money, your time, resources, yourself.
  8. We need you to be faithful, eyes, mind, everything.
  9. Smell good, brush your teeth and care about looking nice for us. (Except when you’re sweaty from doing yard work;)
  10. We love when you do dishes (we really like when you do dishes…and vacuum…all cleaning is good really).
  11. We need to be the most beautiful woman in your life…fine…in your mind… ok fine just make us believe we are. Tell us we are…often! We are all insecure even if we don’t seem to be. Again, we are complicated. We want to appear sly and confident but deep down there is a very insecure girl especially because we’ve competed with other women for male attention since we were 13.
  12. Ask us what’s important to us.
  13. We need to know your needs as well.  Don’t bottle them up. We aren’t mind readers. Ok, maybe a little. We are all born with a little Jedi DNA.  It’s a girl thing. But we still need to hear your needs and wants (even if it inconveniences us)…it’s called communication.
  14. We need L-O-V-E.

Guys please chime in. Let us know what you think of this list. Ladies, if you have anything to add please do.

The Solution for The Anti-Resolution


Here’s the thing I am not good at New Year’s resolutions.  I quit within a month or two.  Anyone??

I think the problem is that resolutions are ‘Me’ focused and me quits easy.  Me as in we.  Our bodies tire, our minds tire, our ideas tire, our goals tire.

In fact I tire so much I fail in almost every area when I am self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-driven.

For example, my sweet neighbor asked me to pick up her son from school the other day.  I homeschool so in my mind I think, “sure I can do that.” I should have said, “No I can’t, I homeschool”.  I am really trying hard to be a ‘No’ person.  In fact the week before I made a commitment…a resolution to say, “no”, more. I resolved that homeschooling is a full time job and just because it has the word ‘home’ in it doesn’t mean we are actually home all the time nor does it mean I sit and eat bon bons all day.  So resolved to that, when my neighbor asks me to get her son I agree with a resounding, “Yes.” Remember up until that week I was still very much a yes woman.  So the yes part of my brain was still programmed.  I hadn’t yet turned it off just resolved to do so.

The night before I set 2 reminders on my calendar, set my alarm, I was good to go.  As I hit the sack that night I totally forgot to actually charge my phone. Why? Because I am so tired that my brain is malfunctioning lately. Know where this is going?

Pick up is at 11am.

Next day, I wake up happily excited for an awesome day of homeschooling this time we are going to master algorithm basics, my 4th grader will finally be made to write a book report over Quintas and hopefully at least attempt to read McBeth and my little preschooler will learn the letter W. And if it’s a great day we’ll paint!  The morning went so well that I totally forgot my phone wasn’t with me (that’s probably why it was such a great morning).

At 1pm, I head upstairs from the basement to make lunch and I remember to charge my phone, maybe my husband called.  I charge and I finally see her name…MY NEIGHBOR!!!!!

I begin to panic.  Heart pumping fast.  Here’s a confession, I am still in yoga pants and a pajama shirt.  I am half crying, yelling at the kids to get in the van (they have no idea what’s happening), I am running up stairs to put on decent clothes, all while trying to call my neighbor to explain the horrific scenario about me leaving her 3 year old at school and how it was an awesome day at school for me (except I’d leave that part out) which is why I left him and how sorry I am!!  But oh! it all seemed so trivial and I felt like a major loser and failure at everything and we hadn’t even done grammar yet.  I was a mess over it.  She finally texts after what seemed like an eternity: “Don’t worry Bob got him: happy face.”

Um. I just forgot her son and she totally forgave me. I thought she put the happy face just to let me think she forgave me.  No! she really did forgive me because she called a couple of days later asking for another favor.  Don’t judge her!!!!

I realized that day I can’t do it all. My life is so busy and stretched in so many directions I can’t do anything well if I try to do it ALL.

I was convicted at church on Sunday when my pastor asked us to consider sacrificing something for Lent as a reminder of what He did for us.  I had never celebrated Lent before.  I loved the story and that part of history when Jesus came to rescue humanity from itself and I began to think of it’s meaning and implications.  I began to think of how {un}busy Jesus was for people.  How he came to earth for people.  I began to think of all the things that had to go in my life in order to simplify, the things that made my mind frazzled and spent, the things I wasn’t necessarily called to do.

Lent is a time Christians should consider Christ’s suffering while here on earth for our sakes.  The love he poured out on the cross in order that we may spend eternity with Him.  I don’t want to spend Lent busy, unfocused on Him or entangled in the lists I put together that neither I nor my family is called to do. This season is about remembrance and sacrifice, not spending more, not superficial celebrations or busyness.  Our sacrifice(s) should symbolize our reverence for what he did for us.

When I thought of sacrifice I immediately thought of technology.  And sweets.  Technology is the easy one.  It takes me away from the life I was called to live.  It distracts me from real relationships, real-life moments and my calling as a wife, mommy, teacher, good neighbor and ministry.  Writing is definitely a passion but definitely not more important than the little ones that remind me of God’s love for me or the man that keeps me warm at night. It’s a perfect time to turn off the extra errands of writing and producing to give them ALL my attention and take the meaning of this season in.

I want to sacrifice my blog time and twitter time.  There isn’t anything that takes my mind to lala land faster than a blog thought.  Sweets, because they are energy zappers.  And man I don’t need anymore zappers! as I stare at 3 out of 6 loads of laundry still waiting to be done and a napping child right beside me.

I need focus, I need redemption, I need simplicity.  Lent is the perfect solution.  In the sacrifice I am getting more. I am getting back my time, my focus, and my calling.

Lent is a time to remember the One who gave up everything, the One who redeemed man/woman from death’s grip, and the One who came to call simple people to live out their greater purpose and out of being tangled up in all the things they can-do but aren’t called-to. I want to focus on the thing that matters most, Jesus, and do what I am called to do not merely what I can.

I want to be Christ focused, Christ-dependant, Christ-centered.

So, here it goes, for the next 40 days I am stifling my blog thoughts and tweets.  This will be the last one for a while.  I challenge you to do the same.  What a quiet little world it would be if we all did that.

Let’s just unplug from being virtually social for a while.  Let’s reconvene after Resurrection Sunday and celebrate together.

What are your thoughts on Lent?  Do you practice Lent?  Why or why not?  What are you sacrificing?


Identity Crisis Anyone: 4 Truths to Set You Free



The most profound question and struggle a human being can have may lie in the question of personal worth and identity.   The answer isn’t as complicated as the question. But we must be willing to accept the answer in order to live in it and walk in it.

I was raised in a very loving home. I never doubted my parents love for me or worth in my family. However, I was immersed in a culture that praised women more for the size of their chest and hip size than their character. I am Latina (I guess that’s the term we use now-a-days). I grew up with rich Latin roots on a Southwest border believing that the whole world was Mexican-American. I write that as I laugh, sigh and shake my head.

But the culture I grew up in, outside my home contradicted very much the core values of my family’s beliefs and yet those are the ones I grew to believe.

I was worth only the value men but on my beauty, which included my body’s size and measurements (every inch).

I guess times haven’t changed much. No matter which culture we are talking about or which door we walk out of or whether we are male or female; the message is the same, you’re only worth it if…

Some people grow up with their personal value equated to their intelligence, success in life, career, college acceptance, talents, knowledge, awards, rank, abilities.

Before we define worth we need the presence of an alternative to the things we put on alters, like looks, intelligence, success, careers etc. I want to present one of my favorite verses but less often dissected. It is God’s love letter to humanity and the most profound pieces of Hebrew poetry.

Read: Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV). Any other version will suffice.

“For you created my inmost being.” v.13

Created in Hebrew means to possess or to buy also redeem. Interesting, if you think about it. How you could be the creator of something and than be the redeemer also.

God’s claim is that not only did He create us he also paid our debt for sin at the cross by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die in place of us.

I bet if Leonardo Di Vinci was alive today he’d pay his highest dollar to get the Mona Lisa back.

“you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” v.13b

“Knit” in Hebrew means to cover as to protect. The blood of sacrificial animals in ancient Jewish culture carried the weight of a protective barrier from sin and a covering from the harsh consequences from committing sin.

God makes the claim in the New Testament that Jesus is our covering. This verse shows that God’s plan has always been, even from the womb, to be our covering and protector. Oh! If only we’d let him. I spent many years fighting against God, living my way, diving deeper and deeper away from the protection he so wanted to give me.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” v.14

Fearfully in Hebrew means ‘to morally revere’ and wonderfully means to ‘set apart’; ‘distinguished’

Our God, the creator of this world, of all humanity has created us to be morally revered and yet we spend most our lives degrading ourselves for the sake of elevating ourselves or wallowing in self-pity by torturing ourselves. The plan was to create people with moral value worthy of respect and reverence.

What has happened to humanity? We all demand, crave respect from others. The question is do we respect ourselves?

If we truly understood the concept of being fearfully and wonderfully made than Women’s Marches wouldn’t happen. We wouldn’t have to. We’d come to terms with the terms God set before our time began to tick on this earth, in the womb. We could actually conceive the hard truth that we have no rights in light of God’s hand in creation. We made nothing, we created nothing, we are owed nothing. We exist because He loves us and when there is life growing in a woman’s womb it is because He put it there.  Regardless of the circumstances.  Or as a counselor and friend once posed this question, how did Jesus come into the world?  Poor. During political upheaval. By an unwed mother. Born in a dirty manger.  And a death warrant on his back.

Did God stop it? Did Mary wish for an abortion if it were possible?

Time ticks at the rub of His fingers tips and the breath he breathes into us. Who are we to take it away?

God works ALL things out for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. Just stop worrying about the circumstances.  If you aren’t feelin’ the good you might not be lovin or just haven’t waited long enough.

“My frame was not hidden from you” v. 15

Frame means “bones, power, might.”

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and self control.

God didn’t make a blue print for weaklings, or wimps. He created us to be strong bodied and strong minded. He gave us a strong body and a strong spirit to boot.

It is easier to be overcome with fear in fearful situations and yet he gave us a spirit to withstand the storms of life. He gave us bones powerful enough to take the bumps and bruises in the journey of life. He also had our spirit in mind. Love is one of the hardest things to give when the situation calls for hate or indifference and yet he has equipped humanity to love through it. He gave us the capacity to control ourselves when everything inside us calls to indulge in the matter at hand. Indulge in the identity that beckons us that calls us away at the true worth that God has already given us.  What power He has bestowed on us! If we would only use it what a different world, neighborhood we would live in.

“when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. “v. 15b

The term woven is also written “skillfully wrought” (NKJV) and means to ‘variegate’ or ‘mix colors’.

If we pay attention to that word in Hebrew we can see a skilled artesian at work mixing colors on fabric, a masterpiece of genius. What truth for such a time like this!

In America we see black, white, and brown and some variations in between, nothing more. Yet when the creator went to work He mixed beautiful colors. Color is not our idea it was God’s. When we see ‘white’ He sees color, when we see ‘brown’, He sees color, when we see ‘black’ He sees color. We judge acts based on color. We don’t see past a man’s color to arrive at character. We let acts and color go hand and hand. We equate color with character. And on the flip side we let color define us.

Let them stand separate.

Let character speak for character, and color be what it is: God’s mark on humanity.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body (literally ‘embryo’; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” v.16

Ordained means ‘predetermined’. I know this freaks people out but the truth is our days are numbered. If you are written in His book that’s a good thing and if you’re not well ,that could be a bad thing.  Just remember the title of this blog: Simple Truths.  Sometimes we could exchange the word simple for hard. Nonetheless they are the same for everyone even those that turn there eyes and hearts away and those that embrace it.

Here’s an illustration to help you understand how He ordains our days and how that mixes with our identity.

When I was seventeen I had a drama teacher who also read tarot cards for fun. Not quite sure you can call that fun if you’re reading someone’s “lifeline”. I was a Christian but I wanted to see what the big deal was and to prove to my friends that she wouldn’t be able to “see” anything on my life because I was a “Christian”.  I called myself even though I wasn’t a Christ-follower, which is much different. The word Christian is a title, being a Christ-follower is an action. It is something you live out. A lifestyle.

So, nonetheless I had my cards and palms read. And boy was I in for a shocker. She not only saw people in my life that she had never met nor had any of my friends met but she revealed that my lifeline was short. By short she meant I would die in my early 20’s. I brushed that in back of my mind for a good long while until I could escape that idea and pretend as though it had no power.

As life went out I distanced myself further from God. By the time I was 22 I had been married, divorced, miscarried twins, moved 5 different times to escape the reality of being divorced.

When I was finally tired of running I gave my life back to the Lord. On the night I gave my life back to Him it was New Year’s Eve night. Two close friends had invited me out that night. They were cousins. I chose not to go that night I had business with God that night. I received a tearful call the next morning from my friend who told me how thankful she was glad that I hadn’t gone out with them. They had been drinking and the car had plummeted 60 feet off a Texas free way. The car broke completely in half with back seat severed. The police was in shock. He told them that if there had been anyone in the back seat they wouldn’t have died. They always rode in the front together everyone else in the back. They were family. It was a given that night would have been no different. I was 23.

When I heard that news I knew that the cards that were read about me were true. The thing is they can’t see what happens after you accept Jesus Christ in your life. They can see the darkness in your life but they can’t see light.  Jesus said that He came to this world so that anyone who believed in Him would not remain in darkness John 12:46. I am now 36 and I survived death’s hunt on my life.

The night I accepted Jesus into my life my name was written in His book. I defied death that night because my Savior covered me. My days were ordained my Him.

My worth is no longer in what I could’ve been, who I was or even what I do. My worth and identity are now in that:

1. He knew me before I was placed in my mother’s womb and He knows me still.

2. He created me. He made me and morally reveres me and set me apart therefore

I am His.

3.  He gave me a plan and a purpose and time to accomplish it. v.16

4. He died for me. He didn’t give me what I deserve He took it instead.

How does Psalm 139 speak to you?   What parts speak loudly to you at this time?

The Upside of Conflict:7 Ways to Look at Your Next Disagreement


So, here’s the thing with conflict, I hate it.  It makes me uncomfortable mainly because I am awkward with it. I want to talk my feelings out and I know most people are not good with that mainly my husband.  I usually have no filter when talking my feelings out because I feel that communication is good therapy, again not everyone agrees.

I mostly hate conflict because I see it as a negative, I usually want to run and hide from it. I don’t like to face it head on because I know I can be a bulldozer when I really want to be a sweet, gentle little lamb.

Let’s define conflict, it’s a noun and it’s also a verb.  As a noun it is a sharp disagreement but as a verb its to be{come} incompatible (according to It can easily stay a noun but depending on your personality (not mentioning any names) it can quickly climb to verb status.  I am gonna be more real here than when I mentioned my shoe addiction, obsession, habit {denial:} It’s gonna hurt my pride but it has to be done.

As I moved from South to North East I realized the stark difference in “Christianity”.  I am having to come to terms with what God’s people really look like.  Why! I thought they all looked just like me! HAHA not really.  Does this sound familiar?  I’ll admit quickly that mercy is not high on my spiritual gifts and yet it isn’t an option.  I’ve been stuck in a theological bubble for a really long time, not a bad thing when you’re growing and learning God’s word but at some point you’re going to meet other Christians who don’t really believe like you do theologically or practice their faith like you do and yet God still loves them.

When I took my Meyers Briggs personality test there was a big fat J at the end of my letters. (Gotta take the test to know) If you don’t know what the big fat J is it’s for judger. Well, it’s true. I am.  I hate to admit that but I know I am not alone.  This isn’t just a confession it’s also a challenge for you reading this where ever you’re from (North, South, West, where ever!); we all got some judgement genes.  No one’s immune, not if your democrat, republican, poor, rich, a minority or not, judgement comes in all shapes, sizes, political platforms and the best bible study groups.

And so moving here has not just been a mission trip of sorts but a seminary class on the subject of love and acceptance.

At the root of conflict is difference, not bad but when not kept in check it can escalate to  judgement and pride. I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s take one of the most godly people in the bible, Paul and his best bud Barnabas and let’s dissect the disagreement they had that was apparently note worthy for Luke to mention (the writer of Acts) or else we wouldn’t be reading it today;)

Read: Acts. 15:36:41

Paul and Barnabas agreed on the most important part, their mission together: to visit other Christians in the towns they had preached to and encourage them.  But when it came to the details Luke notes that they disagreed sharply. In Hebrew the word is ‘irritation’.  Conflict arose because they had a difference of  opinion that resulted in irritation.

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. Acts 15:37-38

At this point in the passage there is a crossroad.  Paul could’ve A.) agree with Barnabas (that’s called a stuffer, stuff your feelings and go with the flow…totally not encouraged;) B.) disagree but submit his will to Barnabas and take Mark anyway (or vice versa) but I mention Paul because he is the beloved Apostle and our fearless leader. C.) Disagree, sharply (apparently), tell him your point of view, be logical in the situation and break away from the situation.

Paul was obviously the logical one in the relationship (not bad, just different), Barnabas was the one who could overlook flaws. Maybe he was an enabler (I don’t know!!!) but he was willing to overlook what happened in Pamphylia and welcome him back into the circle of friends.

The point is this, yes there was conflict and scripture doesn’t reprimand either man for the conflict that took place.  The point of the conflict is for us to see God’s greater plan at work even in this.  When we study scripture we can find countless passages on dealing with difficult people.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you Eph. 4:32

Maybe Paul felt it wise not to proceed with Mark because he’d hold them back from the real mission God called them too.  Maybe, that was his way of keeping peace by going his own way.  I don’t know!!! But friends separated, opinions were voiced, different paths were taken.

But because God’s purpose in our life and mercy is so much greater than our messes and stupidity and foot-shaped mouths there can always be a turn around like in the case of Paul, Barnabas and yes, even Mark.  Happy Endings are God’s idea.

We see this turn around in 2 Timothy 4:11b.

…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

Paul’s heart softened towards Mark.  The book of Timothy marks Paul’s last words and with this small statement we can conclude that there was much growth since the first remark Paul made about Mark.  Both men has grown in the faith and love for one another.

Here’s the take home, conflict hurts but we can have a different perspective next time it occurs, as in we can keep the conflict a noun, something that occurred but keep it from {be}coming a verb, incompatible. Cause who likes incompatible people anyway?

During your next disagreement remember the outcome that is possible in Christ; keep your mind on these seven:

  1. Reconciliation.  We say separate, He says reconcile.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

I know a little about this because you know the last article I wrote about, the one about my husband leaving me,  well, the turn around on that story is that 3 years later we were reconciled and married again. Long story, that’s for another blog post but in the end God won and he is still winning in our marriage after 13 years.

2. Hope.

We have real hope in Jesus. When I was newly divorced I had heard a story about a wife that was left by her husband for drugs, women, and the night life but she remained faithful and prayed for him for seven years.  Now, he is a renown evangelist who loves Jesus and his wife.  Because of their story I had hope to pray for my husband. Although I didn’t expect or want reconciliation at that time I prayed for peace and salvation. We always hope that conflict can have a positive outcome.

3. Keep your eyes UP.

We shouldn’t stop doing God’s will or living out His purpose simply because we’ve hit a rough spot in our road of life.  Had Paul stumbled on his way and given up his purpose we wouldn’t have most of the New Testament. Paul went on to write 10 books of the New Testament (indisputably).

He went through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches. Acts 15:41

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5

Separation can be used for good in God’s economy. When Christians divide we can spread God’s love more abundantly and thoroughly.  God uses that time to strategize on spreading his Word by using His people even when they are in the midst of conflict…if we let Him.

Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. Acts 15:39b

4. A softened heart.

At the end of Paul’s journey in Timothy we see Paul’s heart towards Mark changed and softened to the point he wanted Mark with him because he had been helpful in his journey. God had a chance to work on Paul’s heart.  Paul gained hind sight and perspective on the loss of a brother in the work of God.

God has a way of doing that.  The last words my {ex} husband told me was that he wasn’t in love with me.  In the 3 years that we were apart God had radically changed his heart. My husband’s heart not only softened towards me but I became the woman of his dreams, not because of anything I had done but because of the time we had spent alone with the Lord.

5. Stronger Relationship(s).

Not only did God restore the relationship between Mark and Paul; we see their relationship stronger than in the beginning of their journey together.  Paul is now requesting for Mark to be by his side for the last stretch of his mission.

A few years ago I sat on a ministry team where there were many differences of opinions.  Nothing revolutionary when you get a bunch of women together;) At one of our meetings our mission was side tracked due to confusion about the mission and the passion some of us had for a different direction. The team was in trouble.  One of the women on the team said that conflict thickens relationships.  I was hoping she was right.  I liked the team I was on and I wanted more than anything for there to be resolution and for us to get back on track on the main mission of the team.  It never happened.  The team dissolved, feelings were hurt and relationships broken.  The leader moved away, many of the ones left behind had some issues to resolve on their own and many were hurt long after the team broke up.  Although the leader of the team never got to experience the “thickening” she talked to me about the rest of us did because we were willing to stick it out and not quit. We didn’t leave church, we stuck to the mission He gave all of us and were willing to love.

6. Spiritual Growth.

It’s obvious from this story that everyone grew not only in age but spiritually.  This doesn’t always happen after conflict.  Conflict often leaves us angry, disillusioned, sad, broken, separated, and scarred but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Conflict can make us stronger in our walk with God and mature us enough to handle the next big things in life.

As the years go by with my man I realize there are things we can handle easier now than we could’ve in the past.  We realize we can’t make our relationship work on our will, we need God. Remember his last words to me? Funny how God always has the last laugh!! Marriage is hard and every year can make us stronger not weaker but we need Jesus.

7. Love.

We can agree to disagree agreeably.  Disagreement doesn’t have to mean hate.  Disagreement doesn’t have to mean incompatibility.  We can disagree and love at the same time.  We disagree and agree to act loving any way.  Love doesn’t equate agreeing.  When Jesus came to earth it wasn’t because He agreed with us, on contrary, He came because He disagreed with the darkness we were living in and came to rescue us from it.  Conflict can lead to love if we let it.  More than ever our country needs to realize this truth. Christian, we can love and disagree, remember it’s the thing that sets up apart.

The challenge here is to choose the 7 outcomes of conflict.  When our perspective changes we can begin to see past the yuk of conflict.



The Scandal With Jesus: Four Things You Should Know


Read: Matt. 1:1-17

Family drama anyone?

Jesus’s genealogy is an important part of the Christmas story, yet many times never mentioned.  If we look closely, we can see family drama as early as the 1st patriarch, and it doesn’t get any better the farther down we travel.  Jesus’s family tree is sketchy at best; He comes from a line of cowards (Abraham, willing to give Sarah to a foreign kings to save his life), sell-outs (Esau, Jacob’s brother Gen. 25:27-34), attempted murderers (Judah and brothers Gen. 37:17-19), liars, womanizers (King David), a harlot (Rahab), idolators (Solomon), and men who completely turned away from God entirely (Josiah’s sons).

So why did God chose to send His one and only Son into the world to claim DNA, or, at least in part, amongst such colorful characters?  Why did Jesus chose to give up His throne to be part of a family tree of ancient, middle-eastern yeehaws?  What does it mean for you and me?

1. What He says is True, and He sticks to His Promises.

Only God can fulfill prophecy; no ordinary person can make miracles happen out of nothing, nor can they orchestrate circumstances in time to play out just right so ancient prophetic tales can come true. Here are a few prophecies that point to Jesus, spanning 2,000 years before He was delivered in the small, desert town of Bethlehem, in a dingy, lowly manger:

Messiah would be a descendent of Abraham: Gen. 12:3 – Matt.1

Messiah would be a descendent of David: 2 Sam. 7:12-16 – Matt.1:6

Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, fulfilled in Matt. 1:18)

Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 fulfilled in Matt. 2:3-6)

Here is an extensive list of many prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

2. God loves real people.

Whether you’re crazy, weird, drama-filled, dumb, fearful, cowardly, mean, or just plain full of yourself, God came for you (and me)!  He came to break the chain of spiritual darkness of family ties to chaos, unrest, sadness, fear, selfishness, lust, sexual addictions, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, hate, pride, and conceit.

I have a “once was lost and now am found” story.  I was raised in a Christian home from the time I was 6. My family was heavily involved in church and we had an extensive Christian community we surrounded ourselves with.  However, by the time I entered high school I had decided that God was just not cool enough for me to identify with.  I called it religion.  I stuffed it in my back pocket and closed the door to the closeness I once had with Jesus.  I told my close friends if they asked but my lifestyle was contrary to living a life of obedience to God (more on that later;) He waited for me.  When I was 19 I married, someone I thought was the man of my dreams but he was not God’s dream for me.  Eleven months and 3 days shy of our 1 year anniversary he told me I wasn’t the one for him. He said I couldn’t possibility be all there is to offer in a wife. OUCH! I told him we needed Jesus (it had finally hit me a little too late) and he said that if we couldn’t fix us God couldn’t fix us. (HUH! little did he know).  By the time I was 22 I was already divorced. Not a very good track record for someone who really wanted to meet Mr. Right one day. I walked further from God.  I filled my heart and life with things that pleased me but never filled me.  I tried to satisfy a void in my soul that was insatiable by human effort.  It was a void that could only be filled by true love.  The love of a God that not only knew me, chased me for 12 long years, pursued me, but was relentless in not letting me go down a dark path (even if I didn’t really think it was dark at the time).

I prayed. I asked God to come back into my life. I surrendered my will. My pride. My way. My plans. Everything. I just didn’t want to carry around the ugly, black, lonely baggage of divorce, the baggage that screams you’ve just been rejected and you’re unlovable and damaged and good luck finding love again.   And the only way I knew to do that was to turn to the only One I had heard really loved me.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8 ESV

3. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things for Him.

Although almost everyone in His lineage has infamous claims to the “wall of shame”, God turned their lives around by using them to be part of His epic love story for humanity. If we let him, we too, can be the paragon of what He can do with you and me.

In my loneliest moment God touched an area of my heart that hadn’t been touched before.  He let me know I wasn’t alone.  I began walking in Him, surrendering moment by moment.  See, I had walked a God-less life for 12 years I had no reassurance of what a Christian’s walk should feel like; I hadn’t quite felt “Christian” in a long time.  It’s been 13 years since I made the decision to follow Jesus.  I get now that he uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  He’s been using the simple life of a very ordinary girl to do great things for Him.  They might not seem big to anyone looking in but for me to know that a God so big can be so present, that a God so mighty can take one small little life and turn it into a victory dance for all to see is totally extraordinary.

4. He can forgive anything…ANY.THING. (Just read about King David and Rahab), and I mean ANYTHING.

Grace is a real thing. If you haven’t read my article on grace , you need to do that 😉

Christians love to give away: John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”) , but we forget to give away John 3:17, the proceeding verse:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17 NIV)

Jesus came to rescue us from our own depravity and fill the void within that only He can fill.  He wants to change us from within and make us new.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46 NIV)

The scandal in Jesus’s family tree gives us proof that He can turn sad endings into (eternal) happily ever afters. It demonstrates that even though He is perfect, He loves imperfect people, even to the point of dropping His crown and coming to our muck and dwelling amongst us in order to give us a dose of heavenly love, so that one day we might chose to love Him back.  The scandal is this: how can anyone have the sense, the dignity, the logic to give someone a second chance when everything about the person calls for persecution not redemption.  The scandal starts with a King who gave humanity a chance based on true love not performance.  I love how He’s using this simple, once scandalous, girl to do things for Him here on this imperfect earth.

What’s He doing in your life that is extraordinary?

Finding Rest in the Rush: Preparing your Heart for Christmas

mvhd5qvldww-anna-dziubinska How do you prepare your heart for Christmas?  Is it another holiday or is sacred?  How do you find rest in rushing during this season?

I have to admit sometimes I get caught up in the mix of commercialized Christmas.  My mind quickly shifts from Thanksgiving, thoughts of Pilgrims who came to this country on a hard journey, endured sickness, cold and death, forged friendships with strangers, shared a meal in gratitude and friendship with the ones who lent their hand of skill and survival to Christmas Crazy! All in one month. Christmas can quickly become distorted because of the rush and expectations of it all.  With a little rest I think we can regain the meaning of this season. {Jesus}

At this time of year I ask myself how can I slow-down with so many committments? How can I put Christ first when business distorts that and I wind up with more of a whole lotta things I didn’t bargain for like a ragged woman staring right back at me in the mirror.

And here’s what I came up with:

1. Prioritize

If it’s on my calendar I ask is this necessary right now, this month?  Is it dire? Will I die if it doesn’t get done, will someone else die if it doesn’t get done (and if so do I like that person, which might change your response to question 2…kidding;) Like dental and OBGYN appointments, necessary but maybe doesn’t have to be this month even if your due, as in due for an appointment, not due as in going into labor due. Cause by all means get yourself to the nearest hospital and have that baby and enjoy the little vacay. (If you have more than 1 kid you know what I am sayin;) The point: rid your calendar of all {un}necessaries, the goal: spend time with family, spend time with Jesus, after all isn’t He the one we celebrate.

Ultimately, what’s important this month? Minimize to make time for things that matter. The rush is only a rush if you’re in it.

2. Be Still. Be Quiet.

Can I say that? We’re friends right? If it’s not our mouths that are always running, it’s our minds.  And if you’re a woman reading this you have 1 or both of those problems goin on. Don’t even try to deny it. I am not judging; Let’s face it being busy wins us some sort of honorary place in society that labels us worthy of respect simply because we’re busy, we’re just like everyone else, we fit right in.  And we wear our badges of honor proudly as we gather round chatting about just how busy we are  and sighing our little sighs of disbelief as we add more and more to our already cramped calendar.

3. Go Less. Stop More.

Hectic starts with a capital G and ends with a big fat O.  In my opinion the rest begins at home, in the quiet moments (if you’re a stay-at-mom with littles running around those are far and few in between but there is still simple moments to be had in the crazy of home life with kids around).  It’s in the stillness of a sunrise peaking in the kitchen window before everyone arises, or the stalling of a head on the pillow before small feet hit the floor, or snuggling on a couch with a good book or the embrace of a loved one.  Rest isn’t found in r-u-s-h. If your stage of life beckons you to move, rush, go, run, walk faster, eat quicker, stay out later, than you need to fight for your rest more forcefully.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…for in 6 days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…but he rested on the seventh.” Exodus 20:8-11

Our choosing to rest sets us apart from the world.  The world doesn’t rest.  America      doesn’t rest. We work. We work hard. And we are very proud of it.  Rest (we think) is for sissies and we are not sissies! And yet God set an example for us to rest after a long week of work.  I wonder what our bodies would be like if we took His advice. Rest, ultimately, is found in s-t-o-p-p-i-n-g.  Do what you gotta do and don’t what ain’t gotta.

Challenge yourself to get your Christmas shopping done in 1 day, all online or one trip to the store. Let me know how you do?

4. Remember

In the old testament we see God always asking his people to remember.  He asks them to remember the good times and the bad times.  (Deut. 8:2, Joshua 4:1-7, Jeremiah 7:12) Why? Because remembering helps us focus on the One who brought us this far, who delievered us from darkness, from trials, and danger and the One who even, while we went through pain, heartache He was there.  Remembering is a powerful tool for putting perspective on a very busy season. On the other hand forgetting leads to complacency.  If this season is a mere holiday of stacking gifts under the tree, checking off lists, attending office parties and chruch events than we missed it.  If we remember, {Jesus} the reason we are so busy than this whole list makes sense.

Don’t let Christmas lose it’s luster for cheaper things like rushing around tyring to get it all done, gift giving and reciveing, and the other distractions this commerciallized month brings.  Be set apart.  Let the world see that the celebration of His birth is the reason we do this thing.  Let them see that He’s worth it. Let us be different.

5. Play

Let’s face it which mom has time to play?? As much as I dream and think about how I need to play more with my growing babies who are now 8,9 and 4 (and my awesome husband) I don’t.  I want this season to be a time when we play and spend more time together.  Here are things we do to slow down this season. This list if for grannies too and young couples with no kids, we all fall into the rush if we’re not careful.


-Christmas Book picnic by a fire

-Bust out the Christmas china (garage sale finds) and have a fancy tea time over Advent verses

-Cuddle on a couch and watch a Christmas movie together (sounds easy but trying doing with a sink full of dishes and see how tempting it is to wash instead of watch)

-Take your man out

-Bake for your neighbors, and yourselves

-Make homemade gifts for each other (mom’s do it too;0)

-Chop wood together (a chore that needs to be done is a chore better done together;)

How do you find rest during this month?  How do you chill during the chaos? How do you play? Add to my list.




The Cure for Fear Lies in 2 Simple Antidotes


We moved homes in 2010 from city-life to country -life and I was in for a big surprise.  Up until then I had been raised in a big city and never lived in any other type of environment except a big city.  The lights, the noise, the bustle, yes and even the pollution (that you don’t even realize you miss until you move to the middle of NO WHERE) were all craved luxuries.  I’ll preface that by mentioning we had lived in a rural town, rural as in it only had 5,000 people in the entire town, a Piggly Wiggly, and a Walmart. We moved right after college  due to my husband’s first job.  We tried to get out of there as fast as we got there. Because again, I am (at heart) a city-girl. Ain’t no shame in that.

But after moving back to the city we began to miss the quiet of the country, the stars ( I had no idea you could actually see them so close or at least they appear that way when smog is not invading the view) and the space, oh the space and need I mention the privacy.  Oh! the irony of hindsight!

So, naturally we decided to buy in the country, a beautiful home on 2 acres with wide open spaces and a little creek to boot in a small country town in Texas not too far from city life and yet definitely rural enough you could hear cows mooing and giving birth (as I’ve come to understand the noise to be).  Maybe we were growing up.  It was time to give this country thing a chance.

The first day of move in I excitedly began unpacking and putting my beautiful country kitchen together. As I opened our first box and reached in to grab a pot I suddenly jumped 10 feet back (yes, 10 feet people, ok, don’t argue!) I screamed and ran across the other side of the house and I would not come out of the room I ran to.  I saw a spider. The size of a shoe. Yes a shoe! Listen, size doesn’t really matter…in this situation.  It was a spider and I had never seen one like that before.  I called my dad (not sure why, he lived 8 hours away not sure what I thought he could actually do for me at that point) I was sure he had some reason I had to hear however.  He always does. He’s one of those dads.  He did manage to calm me down and did remind me that it wouldn’t kill me.  He also reminded me that it is probably more afraid of me (remember those annoying little talks when you were little and you were afraid of mice and roaches and they’d {the voice of reasons in your life} would tell you that they’re more afraid of you.  I wasn’t buying that one but it made logical sense. I eventually came out of the room and mustered up the will power to get some windex and windex him to death. Eventually they were EVERY WHERE. EVERY. WHERE. After an entire week of knots in my stomach and anxiety and missing the city,  I had to figure out who these spiders were and what they wanted with me.  Found out actually they aren’t poisonous at all, they weave the most beautiful webs and they actually help me out by killing and eating more gross things and pesky things.  So I decided we’d be distant friends. I overcame my fear. Her name? The Orb spider.

When I read the Apostle Paul’s story in Acts 21 I thought about fear in a very real way…not like my pathetic city-girl fear of spiders way.

Acts chronicles Paul’s journey from Christian slayer to Christian martyr.  His transformation is no doubt the invisible hand of God at work in a man whose purpose in life was to glorify God by telling ordinary people about the extraordinary love of Jesus, to give the European and Asian world a taste of the love of a Savior even unto death.  He faced shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, black-balling, stoning, hate and eventual death.  He always knew he was going to die for Christ.  One of those most astonishing things he says is in verse 12. His friends are crying because he tells them he might not see them anymore.  He’s headed to Jerusalem and the Jews want him dead.  Paul is forewarned of his imminent death and yet knows he has to face Jerusalem.

And he says, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? “

(Not sure bout you but I’d be weeping and bawling, wrapping myself in my friends arms, throwing myself on the floor, trying to escape reality, it would be an outright drama scene) but he continues,

“I am ready not only to bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

I believe that Paul just like Jesus feared death.  But fear was overcome with 2 powerful weapons: knowledge and perspective

  1. Knowledge (of the “unknown”): he knew the “unknown” possibility because God prepared his heart for it.  I believe God wants to prepare our hearts for the bumps and bruises, sufferings of life and yes even death if we let him.  When fear grips us it’s usually because we have no knowledge of our purpose in Him.  Know your purpose and fearful situations won’t keep you from walking in {His} strength.
  2.   Perspective: Paul knew what was important.  He saw life as a gain and he saw death as a gain.  If death is the worse thing that could happen to us then the outcome is pretty victorious. I’d take one day in heaven over a million here. However if you are on the other side and you don’t know what the outcome of your death will be then fear can be crippling.

Let’s live like Paul!

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have complete boldness, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose? I do not know.…”

What is your hope in fearful situations?  What’s your biggest fear? Do you get crippled with fear?  How do you handle fear? What steps do you take?


Main Mission of The Church: Why does it matter to me

fzv8esa7gkc-lee-key-2Read Acts 1 on your own. (should take about 3 min. or less)

The first simple truth we learn is that Jesus is still alive (v.3)!! Physically gone, spiritually present.

He leaves his disciples a mission before he died, to spread the gospel (Matt. 28:19).  The book of Acts is a continuation of this command,  it is a book about the acts of God during the formation of the 1st body of believers after Jesus ascends to heaven, the essentials of the 1st church and an example to us within the body.

Truth 1: Meeting together is essential.

Church was God’s idea (not mans), being part of a church was Jesus’ hope for us.

Doing the ‘Christian thing’ is part of a unity that can not be substituted with anything else.  Is it a sin not to go to church? Absolutely not! But we are better together.  The church is a place to grow, to be sharpened (yes, the uncomfortable blending and mixing of different and difficult personalities) and to do the spiritual things that can only be done in groups.  There is a reason Jesus chose 12.  There is credibility in numbers, there is accountability in numbers, there is unity and strength in numbers. Different personalities,  weather complementary or clashing, that was God’s plan and when you’re missing it isn’t the same.

Truth 2: The discipline of prayer is essential.

What is your prayer life like?  I know I can’t say I am in constant prayer like his faithful few  in v. 14.  But in order for us to grow and to hear the Holy Spirit (referred to as The Advocate by Jesus in John 15:26) we must pray (more on that later).

Truth 3: The main mission of every church and every believer is to spread the good news about Jesus.

Jesus came to tell people that He loved them and that there is way to forgiveness, a rescue and savior from their sins.  He wants to us to carry on that message (per the commission given by Jesus in Matt 28:19 and the words he told Peter in John 21:17).

“…Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matt. 28:19-20

  1. Where do you stand with the church?  Do you attend church?  What are you thoughts on church?
  2. What is your prayer life like?  On a scale from 1 to 10 where are you? (1 do not pray at all, 10 I pray constantly)
  3. In what ways does the commission given to the disciples effect you?  Is it still relevant today?