The Election is Over. What should Americans do now?

Election season has never felt quite so divisive as it did this year. The entire country is so desperately polarized. What should Americans do now?

Election season has never felt quite so divisive as it did this year. The entire country is so desperately polarized. The despair and anger and vitriol are palpable. Our country is at tremendous risk of destruction from within.

What should Americans do now?

If you are a reasonable, intelligent American, I’m talking with you; I’m walking with you. We need to act like we are reasonable and intelligent more now than ever.

I’m not seeing very many reasonable, intelligent responses following the election.

As Christians, we faced an impossible decision. As Americans, we faced a truly painful one. But we GET to choose how we act today.

election-is-over-what-should-americans-do

Maybe, today we can stop focusing on the figureheads and start focusing on the issues.

The election might be over, but the work has just started.

America needs Conflict Resolution 101.

We are looking at the same picture, but seeing a totally different image. But really, we’re both looking at the same America, so the disconnect is our own perspective, biases, and opinions.

The election's over. What should Americans do now? America needs Conflict Resolution 101 Click To Tweet

Find common ground.

We all want America to be the great nation we believe she used to be. Even if we disagree on how, we should be able to agree on some core ideas.

We all want a safe country in which every citizen has the means and ability to provide for his/her family, a nation in which every person’s rights are equal under the law, with a strong economy and opportunity for all different types of people.

But how do we get there from here?

Debate ideas, not each other.

We might disagree on the details, but we have to start with seeing the humanity in each of us. Click To Tweet

Be more respectful and kind than expected. No one can hear your ideas over your shouting.

Philippians 2:3 ESV Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

When we count others more significantly than ourselves, we seek to understand, not wound.

Healing from this election starts with listening.

Conflict resolution teaches we have to understand the other side before we can resolve the conflict.

Listen to the heart of your opposition. What are they really saying?

Research both sides of an issue – go back to debate club basics and be able to really see both sides. When we do that, we often realize we’re not so far apart.

Today, I had a conversation with an LGBT woman who was angry, but as we exchanged opinions I heard her fear. She’s afraid for her marriage and her family. She is afraid of being mistreated.

As a Christian woman in an increasingly unChristian society, I understand that fear. How can I respond in a way that demonstrates I love her even if we disagree on specific policies?

Refuse to take the bait.

This one is personally challenging. And I’m not good at ignoring the need to correct or comment. But I’m learning.

If I can’t speak in love or within a relationship with someone, I may do more harm than good, if I speak at all.

Doesn't matter which side you're on, when you wound with your words, America can never heal. Click To Tweet

Anger and arguing often comes from a place of fear.

We Christians need to be examples of how not to let fear dictate our actions. We have an eternal promise. We’re not demonstrating our trust in our Heavenly Father if we are reacting in fear.

Matthew 6:34 ESV  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Today, nothing has changed. Let’s not borrow trouble. Decisions and change take time. Hopefully, such a close election and balanced legislature will hopefully, bring great discussion and compromise.

And we LOVE.

John 15:12 ESV  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

They will know we are Christians by our love, not our political affiliations, not our bumper stickers or ballots.

We let humility and grace be our watchwords going forward. We seek solutions to problems, not for people.

We are all Americans. Let’s start there.

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Dear Friend, Giving up changed my life.

Dear Friend, Giving up changed my life and I want you to give up too! I want to share my testimony about how following Jesus Christ has changed everything.

Dear Friend, this is my testimony about how I took a failing marriage, bitter heart, broken body and gave up,

. . . but giving up changed my life. And I really want you to give up, too.

I’ve been trying for weeks to find the words to share my faith, but I don’t know how to begin. I’m scared I’ll say the wrong thing and push you away from hearing more or accepting Christ.

I wish we could sit together, curled around cups of coffee, lean into each other and talk, but right now that isn’t possible, and I don’t want to wait any longer. None of us have a tomorrow guarantee.

I don’t want another person I love to leave this life without knowing my savior. Losing you for eternity scares me sick to my stomach.

Dear Friend, I don't know where to start, but I want to share how giving up changed my life! Click To Tweet

So I’m humbly asking for a few minutes to bear with my clumsy struggle to find perfect words that speak my heart. Please overlook my painful shortcomings that cloud your ability to see Christ in me and hear my love for Jesus and you.

And because I love you, I want to share part of my testimony, how I came to realize I wasn’t strong enough alone, and how strong I’ve become from admitting my weakness.

Romans 1:16 ESV  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,

I’m still such a work in progress, but I hope to point you in His direction and walk with you.

My testimony is that my real brokenness and healing is more powerful than my pretense of perfection ever was.

While raised in a Christian household, my journey really started only a few years ago, when I realized my astounding powerlessness even over myself. Faced with rock bottom, I was desperate.

Trying to be a pretty good person without Christ, led me to the nuclear disaster another marriage had become. When I kept being a controlling nag and unmitigated perfectionist, making the same mistakes over and over, I realized no human being could save me, not myself, not other ‘pretty good’ people, only God through His son, Jesus.

Jesus Christ was flesh and God. He lived a painful, fragile existence but without sinning, and took the torturous death I deserved, so I could have the hope of an eternity in God’s presence.

My real brokenness and healing is more powerful than my pretense of perfection ever was. Click To Tweet

You see, God built into every human being an ache within us to know Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV  “. . . Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, “

For me, that need to seek God manifests as a gaping emptiness, a feeling of never belonging nor being truly loved.

I tried filling that emptiness with books, food, diets, friends, exercise, cigarettes, boys, drinking, marriages, children. Anything to distract me from the painful, empty void.

They were all temporary fixes for an eternal need.

Always the hunger pangs for more of . . . something would return. I would think, ‘well, that wasn’t what I really needed’ and race towards the next fix.

When I find my soul mate, I will feel complete.

Well, yeah, then the honeymoon ended. Turns out even your soul mate doesn’t love you perfectly from the inside out everyday.

And the hole in my pretend wholeness reappeared.

When I’m a mom, that will be it.

Even the one longing I clutched for decades, raising a baby, wasn’t the answer. I realize now, my role in her life is temporary in many ways. I need an eternal identity that will never fade.

When I realized everything is temporary, I needed an eternal identity. Click To Tweet

I’ve wanted to die. I’ve hidden from the world, hoarding all the hurts from my struggles with my weight, illnesses and injuries, vanity, and rejection, violence. Nothing ever truly satisfied the deep ache in my heart that I was not enough.

Until God said, you don’t need to be enough for anyone else, you are Mine; that is enough.

And His love began to fill my broken places.

Isaiah 43:1 ESV  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, . . . “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

When I struggle, this verse sings peace to my soul. I belong to Him, the Creator of the universe. You do too, and can hold fast to that precious claim the second you give up trying to do life alone and ask for Him.

He lovingly formed me for His purpose. I don’t always understand the purpose I could have, but I’m astounded by the ways my challenges bring opportunities to share Christ.

Last week, I spent 4+ hours in the ER with my stupid infected toe again! It was excruciating. As I read my Bible study and prayed, I saw the surprised look on the medic’s face as I laughed through (or after) difficult injections, joked with him, and truly thanked him for his care.

Perhaps my attitude was a witness, reaching into his empty place and offering hope that there is more than this world offers.

I know not one of the painful parts of my life has been wasted once I surrendered my life to God’s will.

Despite accepting Christ at 6, I didn’t really believe I needed saving until I had destroyed my life so badly that I just knew God couldn’t possibly want me.

Three marriages – I’m still struggling with the shame of how I failed in my prior marriages. I wasted years running in every direction except towards Him.

But God has a fantastic history of using people long after the world deemed them useless: Moses, Sarah, Hannah, Paul.

Then, I thought I had to clean up my life before I could come home to Him. Every morning, I’d wake determined to live better, be less angry, be more calm, have more joy and peace. And I’d do really great . . . until my feet hit the floor, and it would all implode.

I was trying to live God’s peace without knowing Him. Silly rabbit!

Mark 2:17 ESV  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Trying desperately to be good enough for God, finally so broken by life I couldn’t go forward, I cried out “Lord, I’m here, waiting for you!”

Romans 10:13 ESV  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

A light turned on in my heart. I understood all the times I’d heard God calling me, thinking He was condemning my sins, He’d been whispering, “just come as you are, Jesus already paid it all.”

Before, religious sentiments would guilt me; I’d get angry. But if God wasn’t real, why did joyful Christians make me so angry?

Because I was convicted that I’d been living a lie, hiding from what I knew was true. God put people in my path to redirect my steps as part of His love letter.

Dear Friend, Giving up changed my life and I want you to give up too! I want to share my testimony about how following Jesus Christ has changed everything.

Romans 8:1-4 ESV  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

I wish I could accurately describe the sweet freedom of repentance. Repent literally translated means to lament my sins and change. And when I surrendered, God changed my mind, my heart, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships and continues to change me daily.

I have so many stories I could add to my testimony, so many sweet verses I could share, this letter could go on and on, but this song says it all so beautifully.

But what I want you to know is that Jesus paid our price so we can live in freedom. Once we accept His Grace, God sees us through the lens of that sacrifice. We are made pure even though we cannot be wholly without sin while we live.

You probably have lots of questions, verses you’ve heard taken out of context, or ideas about what it means to be a Christian, but lay all that down for a second.

If you’re hearing God whisper in your heart, “Come as you are,” then come.

I do not believe there is one specific prayer all believer’s must pray, but all believers must pray and accept Christ. Here is my tiny example:

Dear Lord,  I recognize I’m a sinner and humbly ask forgiveness for my sins. I accept Jesus died as a sacrifice for my sins, and I want to give you the rest of my life. Please change and guide me, drawing me closer to you daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pray and listen, then let Christ work in your heart.

2 Timothy 2:21 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

When I thought I was too ruined for God, too dirty and shameful, I found this verse. I cried imagining God cleaning me like a treasured vase.

God loves you deeper than any love you’ve ever known. If you hear His voice or feel a tug on your heart, He has laid claim on you and wants to call you His.

If you’ve read this far, maybe a piece of you wants to be loved this entirely, to feel His presence in your everyday. I’m here to talk if you’re ready.

If you’ve made the decision to follow Christ today, I really want you to find a local church and fellowship with strong believers. Spending time with them and in God’s word is crucial. I love the YouVersion App because I can change translastions of the Bible with the touch of a button and can follow a reading plan, like the First Steps Reading Plan.

If any of my testimony has resonated with you, whether or not you made a decision today, pick up one of these books written by atheists who became convinced of Christ. They’ll answer questions and help you on your journey.

No matter where you are, no matter who you’ve been, the invitation is always open. He’s calling you in. Come broken-hearted, let healing begin.

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Easy Ways to Make the Bible Kid Friendly for Family Bible Week

It's Family Bible week! How do we make the Bible central in the lives of our children and home in a meaningful way that brings scriptures to life?

The Bible is the book we Christians would say is the most important in our homes, but how do we make it truly central in the lives of our children and home in a meaningful way that brings scriptures to life especially during Family Bible Week, May 6-13?

My daughter was given her first toddler board book bible before she could walk. We read the stories together regularly, although probably not as often as I wish we had. The days go by so fast!

But the real difference maker for my daughter was the Beginner’s Bible set. We played the CDs for her at nap-time and bed until they were skipping and nearly worn out.

I quickly uploaded them onto an old iPod, making the bible at my daughter’s fingertips whenever she wanted. Now, even at six, it’s a favorite.

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The word of God is a lamp in dark times. Turn it on! #FamilyBibleWeek #YouVersion Click To Tweet

I was truly surprised at the number of times a week I would find her just playing with her toys while listening to her bible in her room. She loved hearing all her favorite stories.

Around four years old, she realized that the stories aligned with the paper pages we read together. It took her awhile to gain the developmental skill necessary to connect the exact story on the CD with the book and follow along, but she eventually did, which was exciting to watch spiritually and educationally.

Although, my focus is more on her salvation than education, she was learning about Jesus and how to read at the same time: Win-WIN!

Measuring Stick

She also loves the DVD versions of these stories. Many are available on YouTube if you want to preview them. She must have watched David and Goliath a hundred times.

Having this Beginner’s Bible in print, audio, and video utilized all the learning styles and gave her a wonderful foundation for understanding scriptures.

At 4, we added the Jesus Storybook Bible because I loved how it demonstrates all the stories actually point toward Christ. It’s not a bad resource for adult believers either.

While I’m currently researching her next bible/cd set, leaning toward the Adventure Bible, I also think it’s important to include the adult bible in our family (even when it might be beyond her developmental level).

How do I incorporate an adult version of the Bible into our family times?
  1. I read and study the bible myself. She needs to see me reading it and treating the bible with reverence in my daily life. Nothing I say will teach her more than what I do.
  2. I listen to the audio YouVersion bible app while we’re driving places and give her a chance to ask questions or I explain the importance of the passage on her level.
  3. I use verses and stories to teach her daily values and lessons about Christian living. We talk about prayer, consequences for her actions, how to serve, how to live together in Christian community.

Nothing is more important than sharing the Bible and Christ with my daughter. In addition to her own salvation, for which I pray often, her faithful life could affect the lives of so many.

God’s word is a lamp in a dark world. Turn it on for your family.

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How to Pray on this National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer, but I'm a little overwhelmed by our nation today, and wanted to share what I found when I sought God's wisdom today.

Today is the National Day of Prayer. My daughter was born on the National Day of Prayer a few years ago, which has made it special for me even when it doesn’t fall on her birthday. I always take time to pray today.

With everything in the news #NeverTrump and #DropOutHillary and #BoycottTarget, ISIS, Planned Parenthood, and earthquakes worldwide, I feel overwhelmed.

How do I even begin to pray on this National Day of Prayer?

Just begin. That’s it.

Romans 8:26 ESV / Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

We don’t have to know what to say. Fancy words are nothing to the King who knows our every thought, just lift up your voice and pray with a worshipful and humble heart.

Don't know where to start to pray this National Day of Prayer? Just starting is a start. Click To Tweet
What should I pray for?

Pray for our nation. This year, our nation feels antagonistically polarized. America’s history is complex and muddy, but started on the premise that people wanted to worship God in deeply meaningful and personal ways. We need to be in prayer that Christians will truly focus on knowing and seeking God’s will above all other agendas.

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV / If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Pray for the church. The church is the body of Christ, every believer everywhere, not just the buildings we attend for fellowship. Pray Godly leaders are bold enough to speak the truth and for flocks to embrace convicting and sound teaching.

2 Timothy 4:3 ESV / For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Pray for humble Christians to know the difference. It’s easy to listen to someone preaching what you already do or think is okay. It’s hard to choose to hear someone who challenges you to walk away from everything that isn’t pursuing God.

Today is the National Day of Prayer, but I'm a little overwhelmed by our nation today, and wanted to share what I found when I sought God's wisdom today.

Pray for your pastor and personal church here by name. I love how praying for someone softens my heart and opens me to loving them or seeing how I can fill a need.

Pray for your personal walk. Praying for myself is something I’ve struggled with, but the prayers that have changed my world the most were the prayers that asked God to change ME the most.

The prayers that changed my world the most were the prayers that asked God to change ME! Click To Tweet

I pray to have God’s perspective in my daily life. Having His vision for my marriage, my home, my parenting takes the SELF right out of the equation and lets me give my fears and struggles to Him.

I pray for time to be in God’s world daily, to strengthen my faith and convictions, to help me understand how to put on the armor of God in all things.

Above all things I pray for humility and wisdom.

James 1:5 ESV / If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Because when I come to the foot of God’s throne with abject humility in my heart, I find His peace, love, & grace. Everything else fades away.

2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV / You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Paul knew the power of many people praying together.

I hope we can join in prayer together today. Please, share your prayer requests in the comments.

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The Harsh Truth about being a People Pleaser

Do you know what you get when a recovering control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser? You get crazy and hurt.
Are you a people pleaser?
Know what you get when a ‘recovering’ control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?

Me.

And it’s messy and hard. And makes me completely crazy! Doesn’t do much for my family either.

God’s been working on this area of my heart for some time now. I’m finally ready to grow past this selfish need to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

That’s right, selfish. People pleasing is at its root self-centered, worrying about what others think all the time.

Harsh truth about being a people pleaser? It's selfish, proud, and sinful. #peoplepleaser Click To Tweet

It sounds so selfless, being intentionally considerate as much as humanly possible, weighing the feelings and needs of everyone, trying to make sure people feel loved and important.

Phew! Honestly, it’s exhausting.

and it’s crap.

Trying to be perfect isn’t selfless; it’s really pride.

In my arrogance, I felt like the happiness of everyone around me was my responsibility. If I failed as a person, then I failed as a witness for Christ.

And my human failings cause me to stumble. The weight of all this self-imposed stress drags me under the swirling waters of life, and my emotions get the better of me – what I intended doesn’t come out right at all.

Then I’m left running this crazy dialogue in my head, “How did this happen?  Is this MY fault?”

I strangle myself with guilt over having failed someone unintentionally and damaged my value in their estimation.

When in fact, I damaged my witness more through my false perfectionism than I ever could in my humble brokenness.

And I was taking responsibility for things that were not mine to own.

Being a people pleaser detracts from our true identity.

Being a people pleaser is exhausting and detracts from our true identity in Christ. Click To Tweet

My sole responsibility is owning my identity as a child of God.

John 1:12 ESV  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

God has convicted me that all I’m supposed to do is strive to live pleasing Him, continually growing in gentleness and humility, wisdom and discernment.

Colossians 3:12 ESV  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

As I change, some will be so pleased and encouraged by my righteousness and gentle spirit. Some won’t be pleased at all. That’s okay.

Jesus didn’t please everyone. He lived a peaceful, sinless life that made some people hate him all the way to the cross.

Because you can’t really please people.

We misunderstand, fail to communicate, and filter our thoughts through our own human brokenness and perspectives.

So the harsh truth about being a people pleaser is – that it doesn’t work, and it’s not our job to please people.

Do you know what you get when a recovering control freak is mixed with a harmony desiring people pleaser?

Often, when I try to please people on my own, I end up hurt and rejected, wondering what happened.

One of these days, I hope I’ll truly learn that apart from Christ I am wholly incapable of bearing His fruit.

The harsh truth about being a people pleaser is that it's not our job to try to please PEOPLE. Click To Tweet
John 15:5 ESV  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Only abiding in Christ and His word releases me from my hamster wheel of doom; because in Him alone can I find the peace of knowing His truths over human feelings.

I can’t force anyone to love or respect me, accept my apology, see my perspective, or be my friend.

I have to do my best to humbly try to please God, knowing He loves me from the inside out.

And let the rest go. That isn’t my side of the equation.

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