Loving your tribe

As I looked around the room, I couldn’t even begin to stop the tears that ran down my cheeks. Each person in that room I loved so deeply. And . . . in that moment, each person in that room was hurting so deeply. My heart ached.

It was not the weekend we had expected. A late night phone call brought us all together to this tiny hospital conference room. This room where hard decisions had to be made. Hard decisions that no one should ever have to make on their own. Yet, as my gaze settled upon each face in that room, God made one thing very clear.

In the midst of our grief . . . our tribe was there.

In the following days, I found milk in my fridge and bread on my counter. Meals were dropped off, messages of love and support sent, and prayers lifted up.

In the midst of my grief . . . my tribe was there.

My tribe.

Some are connected to me by blood. Others, through the work to which God has called me. But regardless of how they fit into my life, I am certain of one thing. God doesn’t make mistakes. Each person in my life is there because God saw fit to put them there.  And, as part of my tribe, I am to love them. I’m to love them just as Jesus loves them.

In the book of John, Jesus spoke these words . . .

“Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12 (CEV)

Love as I have loved you . . .

Loving others isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is hard to love those in our tribe. But, loving those God has placed in our lives is exactly what He wants us to do. Think about those whom God has placed in your life. Think about those who make up your tribe and who God has asked you to love. What would loving them well look like? Would your life look any different if you started loving others as He loves you?











This Is Not the Finish Line

I sat down beside him and pulled him close. As I wrapped my arms around him, huge tears began to roll down his cheeks. My heart ached as he leaned in and quietly began to sob. What could have possibly happened to my youngest to hurt him so deeply? And then, the words began to tumble out in between his sobs. He had tried so hard. He had practiced and practiced but, despite his hard work, he still wasn’t good enough. It didn’t take long for me to remember that today he had had gym class. And today was the day that the entire class would be timed on how fast they could run. Today was the day that the two fastest boys and the two fastest girls would be chosen, to represent their class during track and field day, which was to be held in just a few weeks. 

Now, my boy knows that he isn’t one of the fastest boys in his class. Two of his best friends always beat him. No, my boy hadn’t set his sights on being chosen to actually run in the race. His goal . . . was to serve as an alternate. More than anything else, he wanted to be chosen as an alternate. An alternate is the one who is called upon to run if the need arises. And  that . . .  was his dream. It’s been his dream for the past three years. But, today . . . he got beat, and my heart broke for him. 

My heart broke further as he then went on to ask me if I thought he was good at anything. I pulled him closer and spent the next few minutes reminding him of the many ways he is gifted, the many ways he is special, and that God created him perfectly just as he is. As I finished speaking truth into his little heart, he threw his arms around me, and said, “I love you, mom.” And in that moment, I heard God tell me, “This! This is your ‘Best Yes’. This time you just spent pouring truth into his heart . . .  it was one of the  assignments I had for you today. Taking the time to speak into him as only a mama can . . . it was part of your purpose for today. This was a ‘Best Yes’”

“Best Yes” assignments. God has them for each and every one of us. But, can I ask you something? Do you ever find it difficult to see the assignments He has for you? Are you like me and wish that God would make it just a bit easier to see His plan? Sometimes I wish that He would just post signs that read “Meghan, go this way” or “Meghan, do this.” Or, perhaps, He could just send Jesus right back down here to lead me by the hand. It doesn’t quite work that way, does it? It isn’t always that easy to see where God is leading us. But, there are a few things that we can do, to help us see the “Best Yes” assignments He has for us more clearly. 

First, be present. To be present is to be available or to be in a particular place.  To be present is to completely focus your attention on either the person you are with or the task that is at hand. I recently read an article, “8 Ways to Be Present” by Tom Stuart, leader of Ignited2Pray Ministries, that expanded on this definition. He said, “Being present requires a focused engagement of every aspect of our being including the physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.” Being present is turning our focus away from those things in this world that can distract us: those things that can keep us from seeing the assignments God has for us. It’s turning our focus away from those things and towards God and His presence in our lives.  To be fully present, is to do as Psalms tells us. It says to,

“Shut up . . . Shut off . . . Shut out . . . and in the silence . . . sense God: connect!”  Psalm 46:10 (STREET)

We need to shut up. Now, I know as women that we have like 20,000 words we need to get out in a day. But, when it comes to the conversations we are having with God, we need to do less talking and more listening. So often, I find myself telling God that He needs to do this or He needs to do that. So often, I find myself acting as though I am the one in control of a situation. Guess what? News Flash! I’m not. I am not in control. God is. We need to spend more time quieting our own voices so that we can better hear His. We need to shut up.

Shut off. In his article, Tom Stuart talks about how we live in a world where the technology is getting more sophisticated by the day. Technology not only makes our lives easier, but it can help us to multitask more efficiently.  And as a mom, we feel that having the ability to multitask is essential, right? However, he makes one point that is worth mentioning. The very same technology that we feel makes our lives easier is the very same technology that easily distracts us and demands our presence. Think about that for a moment. How distracting is technology for you? Think about your phone for example. How often do you check it? I always have mine with me, and if I can’t locate it, I admit that I start to panic just a bit. I’ll also admit to you that I have answered it in the middle of eating dinner with my family, and I have replied to emails or returned a quick text as one of my kids was talking to me.  Technology: though it can make our lives easier,  it’s turning our focus away from the people or tasks that need our attention. It’s distracting us, and it’s demanding our presence. Set some limits for yourself, and shut it off.

Next, we need to shut out. Just like technology can so easily distract me, so can the opinions and the expectations of this world: opinions and expectations that are rarely truthful. It’s important that we learn to shut out what the world says and focus instead on the truth we find in God’s Word. It’s His truth that gives us freedom. In the book of John, Jesus says,

“If you hear My voice and abide in My word, you are truly My disciples;  you will know the truth, and that truth will give you freedom.”

John 8:31-32 (VOICE)

It’s His truth that gives us freedom, not what the world tries to speak into our hearts. We need to shut out the world and open our hearts to hear His Truth.  

After we shut up, shut off, and shut out, we then can sense God’s presence and truly connect with Him. With our focus solely on Him, it will be easier to discern which of those assignments before us are ours. With our focus on Him, the path that we are to take will be more clear. Being fully present in His presence, we will following His leading. And, as we following His leading, we will be fulfilling the purposes He has for us. We will be living out our Best Yes. 

Another way we can see our “Best Yes” assignments more clearly is to pay attention.  Like I mentioned before, there are times that I wish God would very directly point out the direction He would like me to go. But, think about this. What if He already is? What if He has been clearly pointing where I am to go, and I’m not seeing it simply because I’m failing to pay attention? What if my “Best Yes” assignments are right before me, but I’m too busy doing life to see them? 

Lysa Terkeurst says, “We will have a very hard time paying attention to (our) Best Yes (assignments) if we live lives that are completely spent. Instead, why not completely spend yourself on the assignments that are yours, those moments you shouldn’t dare miss, the calling that pulses in your soul, the love you and only you can offer?” 

What it we intentionally chose to cut back on our commitments: the commitments we make for ourselves and for our kids? What if we chose to put down our phones, turn off our tv and spent quality time with those people we love? What if we spent our days doing those things that really matter? What if we dared to explore that spark God placed deep within our souls? What if we dared to ask God to open our eyes to the brokenness that surrounds us? How different would our lives look?

In Colossians, Paul says,

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

Colossians 3:2 (MSG)

We are living in a world that is broken and hurting. What is it that God wants you to do?Think about it. What is it that God wants you to do?  Sometimes we get our minds fixed into a way of thinking that Lysa Terkeurst calls a fixed mind-set. We see our abilities, our talents, our skills, our relationships, and our intelligence as limited and lacking. We feel that where we are today is where we always will be. We feel . . . stuck. But, God doesn’t want us to remain stuck. He wants us to have a growth mind-set. He wants us to see our abilities, our talents, our skills, our relationships, and our intelligence with potential. He wants us to see ourselves like He does: as beautiful, unique, and created with purpose.

Where we are today is only our starting place. It is not our finish line. God has a precious plan for your life. He cannot be limited in what He does, and if He choses to use you, He will. Have the courage to take that first step in the plan He has for you. Have the courage to be engulfed by that fire that He set ablaze in your soul. 

I’ll close with these words from Lysa. “Indeed, in God’s plan, you and I have a part to play. If we know it and believe it, we’ll live it. We’ll live our lives making decisions with the Best Yes as our filter. We’ll be a grand display of God’s Word lived out. Out undistracted love will make our faith ring true. Our wisdom will help us make decision that will still be good tomorrow. And we’ll be alive and present for all of it. Now let’s go and live the Best Yes life.” 

The “Best Yes” life. Live it. Live the life to which God has called you. That fire within you . . .  find it. Find Your Fire, tend to it, and let it shine brightly. May it shine so brightly that others can’t help, but see Jesus when they look at you. 




Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed 30 Apr. 2019.

“8 Ways to Be Present.” Stuart, Tom. Ignited2Pray Ministries. https://tomstuart.org/2012/01/04/8-ways-to-be-present/. Accessed 30 Apr. 2019. 

Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.

Be Still

I’ve felt out of sorts this week. I’ve not been myself.

It’s been a busy week. A week in between commitments that I’ve used to catch up on some things. There have been appointments, trips to restock the pantry, completion of paperwork that should have been done a couple of weeks ago, and spending time with dear friends before they leave for a mission trip. It’s been a week of good things. A productive week. And yet, this morning, I feel a bit empty.  Can you relate to that feeling at all?

As I’ve been reflecting on that this morning,  I realized that in my busyness to accomplish everything on my to-do-list this week, I have neglected to do one very important thing. I have not taken the time to “be still”.

Psalms tells us to,

“Shut up . . . Shut off . . . Shut out . . . and in the silence . . . sense God: connect!” Pslam 46:10 (STREET)

How often this week did I intentionally take the time to be still? How often did I sit in silence, close my mouth and quiet my thoughts? How often did I shift my focus from all I hoped to accomplish and look into the face of the One who has planned my days from the very beginning?  How often this week, did I shut out the world, turn off my phone, turn down the music, and sit in the presence of the One who loves me above all else? How often did I sit . . . in the silence?

Silence. My heart longs for it. It longs for it because it is in the silence that I can clearly hear the voice of the One who calls me by name. In the silence,  He reminds me of who He is and of the call He has placed on my life. A call to things greater than simply completing my to-do-list.

The silence. It is what my heart longs for . . .

God longs for us to be still. He longs for us to spend time with Him, to understand who He is, and who He created us to be. Have you been taking the time to “be still”? Have you been taking the time to quietly sit in His presence?




Who Do They See?

I sat directly between the two and couldn’t help, but marvel at this meeting. You see . . . there was a past here. To my left, sat my daughter, and to my right, sat a teacher that our family loves and respects so deeply.

School has always been a place where my daughter feels she has to be guarded; a place where she is unwilling to let her true light shine. And, for an entire year, my daughter sat quietly in this teacher’s classroom. And, for an entire year,  this teacher gently and  persistently worked to earn my daughter’s trust. For an entire year, she worked to help tear down those walls my daughter had so carefully built to guard her heart.

And here we sat three years later. My daughter is chattering nonstop. She throws herself into fits of giggles as she uses different voices, and at one point is laughing so hard she is actually snorting. This girl beside me? This . . .  is my daughter in her truest form. This is who she really is; a girl who loves life, who passionately loves and defends her people, and is one of the funniest people I know.

Yet, she only lets her guard down for a few. Only a few get to fully experience my daughter’s true self. And . . . it’s a gift.

And that got me to thinking . . .

What do others see when they look at me? When others look at my life, do they see me in my truest form? Do they see a woman who’s life has been transformed by the love of Jesus and whose heart is completely captivated by Him? Or, do they just see the outer shell of the wall I have built to guard my heart?

In Matthew, we are told this:

 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:12-16 (MSG)

Can others see Jesus through my life? Do others see Him through my actions or hear Him through my words? What about you? Do others see a picture of Jesus when they look at your life?

Each of us was created uniquely by God, and we were created to shine brightly for Him. Let your light shine. Let your light shine so that others may see Him.



Taking the Time to See

Last night, as I sat and listened to my kids share the highlights of their day, I was reminded of something. When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher announced to our class that we would be putting on a play for the others students in the building as well as our parents. We would have two productions, and everyone in the class would be assigned to perform in either the student program or the parent program.  You could feel the excitement ripple through the room as she began to assign parts. Now, I have to tell you that up to this point in my childhood, many people would have described me as being quiet. I was extremely shy and never one who enjoyed being in the spotlight. So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard my teacher announce my name for one of the lead roles for the parent program. A lead role! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself taking on a lead role in a play. But, can I tell you something?  Any anxiety that I may have felt over taking on that role was quickly diminished because of one thing and one thing only. My teacher . . . believed in me. She believed that I was capable. She saw the potential within me that I didn’t see myself.

As I sat listening to my kids last night, I found myself thanking God for another teacher. A teacher, just like my fourth grade teacher, that took the time to really see my kids. To see what makes them unique and to see the potential within each of them.

And that got me thinking . . . How often do I do this? How often do I take the time to really see people? How often do I look beyond the face they present to the world and look for the beauty that lies within? And . . .how often do I tell them what I see there? How often do I share with them the beauty that I see that they may not be able to see themselves?

Our words, friend, can be an incredible gift to others. Take the time to really see people. Take the time to see them and then encourage them. Knowing someone believes in them could mean more than you realize. Don’t underestimate the positive impact you can have on another just through your words.





Loving Our Men Well

If you ask my husband how things started between the two of us, he will be quick to tell you that it all started with a pity date. Yep, you read that right. A pity date. And . . . if I’m being honest, it’s true.

It was the fall of my freshman year at college. Just a few weeks into the semester, I found myself running late to a study skills course I was taking. I rushed into the classroom and stopped short when I saw the room was full. Every seat was taken except for those  . . . in the front row. In desperation, I scanned the room once again and found a solo chair available smack dab in the middle. As the professor prepared to begin, I climbed over backpacks and people to secure that seat, stepping on many toes in the process. Feeling flustered, I sat down, quickly pulled out my notebook, and focused my attention on the lesson at hand. It wasn’t until our break that evening that I took notice as to who I sat beside and whose toes I’m sure I squashed. I turned to my left and found myself locking eyes with a young man. Little did I know that my entire life was about to change.

It was a couple of weeks after this, that I found myself walking back to my dorm with this man at my side. As we walked, he gathered the courage to ask me if I’d like to go out some time. My response came quickly. No. My answer was no because I was in a relationship with someone else. I will never forget the look that crossed his face. He looked completely . . . crushed. Later that evening, I was unable to get his face from my mind. I looked his number up, called him, and asked him to join me for dinner one evening in the cafeteria. He accepted my date, asked out of pity, and the rest, as they would say, has been history.

This summer will be 18 years of marriage. 18 years of tackling life together and dealing with the chaos that comes with raising three kids. 18 years. It sounds like such a long time, but it has gone by so quickly. And, these past 18 years have taught me a lot about my husband and the role he plays in our family. These past 18 years, God has been teaching me how to love him better, how to support him, and how to help him move toward those Best Yes assignments that God has for him. And that’s what I want to share with you. I want to share what God has been teaching me about what the men in our lives truly need. And . . . it might be different from what you expect.  

If I were to ask you what is the one thing that husbands need most from their wives, what would you say? I think most of us would agree that sex has to be number one on his list, right? Guess what? It isn’t. 

A number of years ago, a dear friend recommended that I read a book called, “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. Shaunti, is a social researcher and author who, along with her husband, has interviewed thousands of people and written several books about the differences in how men and women think. Her goal in writing this particular book was to share the very foundations that our men’s thinking is based upon so that we are better able to understand and support them. In her research, she found that it isn’t sex that our husbands need most from us. It’s our respect and affirmation.

Respect and affirmation. What is meant by those words?  To show respect is to consider someone with high regard. It’s to have a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important and should be treated in a dignified manner. To affirm is to declare support for, defend, or to encourage someone.  Both respect and affirmation go hand and hand and are foundational for the well being of the men in our lives. Both are needed as our men walk the paths God has for them. But, how important are they really? How important is it that our men feel respected and affirmed? 

Through her research, Shanti discovered that three out of four men said that they would rather feel unloved than disrespected. Three out of four. I find that statistic astonishing. Astonishing because as a woman, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. For me personally, I would rather feel loved than respected. Every . . . single . . . time. But, our men, they are different. They thrive under the respect and affirmation we give them. And, it is God’s desire that we do this for our men. In Ephesians, we find these words,

“Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband.”

Ephesians 5:33 (VOICE)

What does God say that wives are to do? Respect their husbands. The Greek word for “respect” in this verse is “phobeo” which means to be in awe of or revere, and it’s used in the present subjunctive mood in the context of this verse. What does that mean? It means that this word “respect” is to be done now, in the present, and continuously. It’s not to be done only once or twice. It’s not to be considered done if you did it last week or last month.  God asks us to do it now and to continue to do it.

How do we do this? How do we show our men respect and affirm them? It starts by making the choice. It starts by making the choice to respect them even when it is hard to do. And sometimes . . .  it’s hard to do. 

I recently read a blog about a woman who has a hard time respecting her husband. She says, “Maybe you are married to a man who talks down to you, criticizes you or makes you feel inferior. Maybe he gets angry more often than he should, goes out with his friends more often than you’d like or simply doesn’t pay attention to you like he should. Maybe he checked out emotionally years ago. Maybe he’s rude, forgetful, or you don’t feel like you can trust him with even the simplest of tasks, much less your heart. Maybe you’re in an unequally yoked marriage where he isn’t a believer, and he’s making it very difficult for you to grow in faith with the rude things he says about Christianity and about you for believing in it.” How can we make the choice to do as God instructs and respect a man like this? 

First, reread the definition of “respect”. To respect your husband is to consider him with high regard. But, it also means that you understand that your husband has worth for one simple reason and one simple reason only. God loves him. God loves him. God created him and in His eyes, your husband is worthy. He is worthy of your respect.  

Now, this does not mean that you falsely praise your husband, that you let him treat you like a door mat, or that you can never express your opinion on any given matter. It doesn’t mean that you are insignificant, unimportant, or that you should completely dismiss his behavior when he wrongs you. It also doesn’t mean that you have the right to treat him like a child or act as though his opinions don’t matter. It means that you recognize that God is after his heart as much as He is after yours. Respect your husband for the simple reason that by doing so brings honor to God. 

Secondly, when God asks us to respect our husbands in Ephesians, it is a command. It is not a suggestion or something you just need to think about. It is something God instructs us to do. It doesn’t come with clarifiers such as: respect your husband only if he deserves it, respect your husband only if he earns it, respect your husband when you feel like it, respect your husband if he treats you well. It says to do it. It says that as a wife, I am to respect my husband. That is my responsibility. 

Now, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. There is more to that verse than wives respecting their husbands. It also says that husbands are to love their wives and love them well. Mine doesn’t do that!” You are right; it does say that.  But, let me remind you of something. You can’t fix him. You cannot fix your husband. You cannot change him into the picture of what you expect a perfect husband to look like. Only God can change hearts, sweet friend. Only God can do the fixing. Scripture reminds us that,

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

The Street Bible says it this way,

“In their hearts, they’ve got it all mapped out, but it’s God who’s in the driving seat.” God is the one in control. He is the only one that can bring about change in your husband’s heart.”

 Proverbs 16:9 (STREET)

How does He do this? In Ezekiel, God shares how He plans to restore the hearts of the Israelites, His people whom He loves. The Street Bible puts it this way, 

“God outlines how he’s going to bring them (the Israelites) back, clean them up and give them a heart transplant. ‘I’m going to operate on you; bin (literally put in a bin) your stone heart and replace it with one with feeling, one with a new attitude. I’ll infuse you with my Holy Spirit and motivate you to want to choose life by keeping the Contract. You’ll live in the land I handed to your ancestors. You’ll be my people. I’ll be your God.’”

Ezekiel 36:26 (STREET)

He gives them a “heart transplant”. I think He has the same plans for His people today. He desires to bring us back to Him and give us a heart transplant. He desires it for us, and He desires it for your husband. Friend, we cannot change human hearts. That’s God’s job. What’s our job? Our job is to invite God into our hearts and let Him transplant away within us. Let Him work on your heart.

As you step back and allow God to do the heart changing work only He can do, it’s important to begin taking action. Make the choice to follow what God has commanded and show your husband respect. How do we do this?

To begin, it’s important to understand the areas where our husbands need our respect and affirmation. The first is in his judgement. His judgement is his ability to make wise and sensible decisions.  To respect his judgement is to respect his knowledge, his opinions, and his decisions. Now, you may not always agree with him. I don’t also agree with my husband.  But, you can still respect his judgement. 

How do we do this? Ask for his knowledge on a given subject or affirm for him that you trust his decision-making abilities. I struggle with this sometimes. The perfect example of this happened last year. We were planning a family vacation and looking at two different cabins to rent. Both were within our price range and both would meets our family’s needs on our trip. I just couldn’t decide which one was the best option. I asked my husband to make the decision which he did. But, after the decision was made, I still struggled. I was unsure if the cabin he chose was the one that I really wanted. I wasn’t sure if his choice was the best for our family. So . . . what do you think I did? Did I sit back and respect his judgment? No, I didn’t! I began to verbally question his decision. Besides driving him absolutely crazy, I think he was hurt that I didn’t trust the decision he made. I encourage you that if you know that your husband has your family’s best interest at heart, trust his decision making ability. Trust the decisions he makes and respect his judgment. 

Next, our men need to feel respected for and affirmed in their abilities. Men have this deep need within them to figure things out for themselves. They find immense joy in using their skills and solving a problem on their own. Doing so gives them a sense of accomplishment and a sense that they conquered something. I can think of two examples that illustrate this. First, how many of you know a man who prefers not to use the instructions provided when assembling something? Why might he not want to use the instructions provided? He enjoys the challenge of figuring the assembly out on his own. Or, you may know a man who prefers not to use the GPS when traveling. Why? He enjoys the challenge of figuring out how to get from point A to point B on his own. 

Now, let me ask you something. What do we, as women, do, if our men are struggling to find a solution to a problem? We want to help right? We offer to take a look at the instructions or we offer to plug the address we are heading to into our maps app. In our minds, we are offering our help. But, in his mind, what are we suggesting? We are suggesting that we don’t believe he is capable or that we don’t trust him. And, if he feels we don’t trust his capabilities in the small things, how can he feel that we trust his capabilities with the big things? Unless your life is in danger, give your man the time and space to solve a problem on his own. By doing so, it shows that your trust him and believe that he is capable.

Another area where men need our respect and affirmation is in their accomplishments. In her book, Shaunti Feldhann shares that even though men may appear extremely confident on the outside, many of them feel that they don’t quite measure up. It is powerful for a man to feel that he has tried something, accomplished it, accomplished it well, and that someone noticed. Pay attention to what your husband is doing. Take note of those times he tries. Take note of those things he accomplishes. Then, make sure he knows that you noticed. Make sure he knows that you appreciate his efforts. Make sure he knows that you think he’s done something well. Respecting and affirming our men’s accomplishments helps them feel worthy. 

Now, let me caution you with one other point about our men and their accomplishments.  Just as your words of affirmation concerning his accomplishments can build him up immensely, your words criticizing his accomplishments or lack thereof can completely tear him down. Several years ago, we were selling our home and doing some cleaning prior to a showing. My husband folded our bathroom towels and put them away for me. When I walked into the closet, not all of the towels were pointed the same way. It sounds crazy, but in that moment, it really bothered me. So . . . I proceeded to refold all of the towels. To say that he was hurt was an understatement. He had tried to be helpful. But as I refolded those towels, my actions told him that what he had accomplished (folding those towels) wasn’t good enough. It was a long time before he would fold towels for me again. Friend, sometimes God prompts us to talk with the men we love about areas they can improve on. But, folding towels, is not one of them. Carefully choose your battles and remember that your words and actions can build him up or they can tear him down.

And that ties into the next area where we need to respect and affirm our men: in our communication. As I said before, we have the incredible power to build up our men or tear them down. With just our words, we have the power to encourage or discourage. With our words, we have the power to help or wound. Proverbs tells us,

“Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.” 

Proverbs 15:4 (MSG)

Don’t underestimate the power of your words. They can affirm and build up our men, and let our men know that we believe in them. Our words however, when used to criticize or nag, tell our men that we don’t respect them or that they have disappointed us. When it comes to the words you use with your man, choose them carefully. Use your words wisely to respect and affirm him. Ephesians tells us,

 “Watch the way you talk . . . Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

Remember . . . each word is a gift.

This idea of choosing your words carefully applies to another area where men need our respect and affirmation. Our men need our respect and affirmation in the presence of others. Now, if you are like me, you love to tease your husband. Teasing is one of the ways that my husband and I show love for one another. But, what I’ve been learning is that it is important to not tease my husband in front of others. What I view as teasing, he may very well see as criticism. What I see as good-natured fun, he may see as a put down. What I see as a good way to get a laugh, he may see as though I am questioning his judgement. When Shaunti Feldhahn conducted her research in this area, one theme came up repeatedly. What women often saw as teasing in public, the men saw as . . .  torture.  It was painful for them when their wives criticize them, put them down, or even question their judgment in front of others. The public “teasing” caused men to very much doubt their adequacy as men. Use caution before you choose to tease your man in front of others.

Now, this applies to conversations held in the presence of your man, but it also applies to conversations you may have about him behind his back. I understand that sometimes as women we like to gather in our little circles with other women and vent our frustrations. And . . . sometimes those venting sessions turn towards the struggles within our marriages. I get it. I’ve been there. But, here’s the thing . . . there is real danger in venting our frustrations with our men behind their backs. Why? There is a verse in Matthew that says this,

“For the mouth simply shapes the heart’s impulses into words.”

Matthew 12:34 (VOICE)

From our mouths, comes the truth held in our hearts. If we make a habit of sharing our frustrations or dissatisfactions with other women, those frustrations and dissatisfactions we are feeling are going to lodge even more deeply within our hearts. If we’re not careful, what we see as harmless venting can begin to deeply root itself within us. I understand that sometimes you are frustrated with your husband. I understand that sometimes he makes you mad. I’ve been there. But, do not get in the habit of voicing  your frustration to others. Get in the habit of voicing it to God. Share with Him what you are struggling with, and ask Him to fill your heart truth. Ask Him to help you show your husband the respect he needs and deserves. Ask Him. The more we choose to show our men respect, the more our respect for them will grow. Be intentional about making the choice to respect him even when it is difficult. Make that choice. 

The last area our men need our respect in is in our assumptions. We make assumptions every day. If I find graham cracker crumbs on the floor, I assume one of my kids has been in the pantry. If someone is tailgating me, I assume that they are a jerk in all areas of life. We assume things. As wives, we do this with our husbands as well. If we ask our husband to complete a task and it is not completed in the timeframe we expected, we assume that he needs to be reminded to complete the task. Now, sometimes he honestly may need to be reminded. But, sometimes we ask our husbands to do things at a time when they are completely focused on another task. When this is the case, they honestly may not have heard us and need reminded. Often though, he does remember and intends to do it. It just may not be as close to the top of his priority list as it is yours. When we assume he needs reminded, it can sometimes be interpreted as he is incapable of remembering on his own, or we don’t trust that he will get the job done. Another area that we sometimes make poor assumptions is in the caring for our homes. We may assume that our men don’t help around the house because the don’t care about us and are choosing not to help. That is rarely the case. Often, if he doesn’t help with something we think he should, it’s simply because he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t always see the laundry that needs carried upstairs. When our kids were little, my husband honestly didn’t always hear them cry in the middle of the night. I’ve learned that rather than making poor assumptions, I need to assume the best of him and clearly communicate my needs. If I ask him to take the laundry upstairs, he almost always does it. If I need to wake him to take a turn with a fussy baby, he almost always would. Always assume the best when it comes to your husband.

One man is quoted in Shaunti’s book as saying,  “It is so true that behind every great man is a great woman. There are a lot of men out there who are mediocre simply because their wives will not support them and bring them to greatness. And there are a lot of mediocre men who are destined to become great men-who are becoming great men-because their wives love and support them. My wife expects great things from me, even though I’m a pretty ordinary guy, really. She looks at me like I’m a genius in my field. She respects me in public and affirms me in private. I love her. And like all men, I want to live up to her expectations.”  – Unknown. 

The greatest gift we can give the men in our lives is to show them respect and to affirm them. Your love and support, can help them move toward those Best Yes assignments that God has for them. Encourage them to be the men God has called them to be. 




Feldhahn, Shaunti. For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Colorado Springs, Multnomah, 2013.




Helping Our Kids Discover Their Best Yes

I’ll be honest with you . . .

This post is one that you want to read as you snuggle into your couch with a hot cup of coffee and a few moments to yourself. It’s long, but, it needed to be. Of everything I have shared with you thus far, this is the one topic that I am most passionate about. This is the one topic that is so dear to my heart and that I wish every mama could hear. This post is about our kids. It is about those precious little people that God has called us to raise. It’s about what we need to be doing as a mama to help our kids discover the purposes God has for them. It’s about helping our kids discover their Best Yes assignments.

I believe that God has specific purposes for our kids. I believe that He has plans for how He wants to use them. But, I think, often as moms, we tend to focus on what we see as the end goal. We think about who our kids will be once they are all grown up, and we spend 18 years guiding and preparing them for that. God does have a plan for their lives once they go out on their own, but what He’s been challenging me to see, is that He also has a plan for them now. He has a purpose for them today. So, the questions I’ve been asking myself are:

Am I teaching my kids this?

Am I teaching my kids who God is, and how He desires for them to be living?

Am I teaching my kids how to make wise choices that will lead them down the path God has for them?

God has a purpose for each of my kids. How do I guide them in making wise decisions that will move them towards those assignments God has for them? Those assignments for their future . . . but also for today.

I think that we have to start at the beginning. For our kids to be able to fulfill the purposes that God has for them today, they need to know who He is. I reminded you last time that the responsibility of teaching our children about God and how He wants us to live cannot be placed solely on our churches or our schools. They can be a wonderful support, but this responsibility is ours as a parent. In Deuteronomy, we are instructed to:

“Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.” Deuteronomy 6:5-8 (MSG) 

God asks us to do several things in these verses. First, He wants us to love Him, and desires for us to have a close relationship with Him.

We cannot teach our children to love and follow someone                                                that we don’t know ourselves. 

Can I ask you something? Do you know Him? Do you really know Him? Do you understand that when Jesus died on that cross over 2000 years ago, it was for you? When He took His final breath . . . it was for you. When He rose from the grave . . . it was for you. God’s greatest desire is for us to know Him and follow Him. All we have to do, is accept the gift Jesus gave us through His death and resurrection. Through Jesus, our sins are wiped clean. Through Jesus, we are promised that we will one day be with Him in heaven. But, we have to accept the gift. It’s the only way. Accept the gift, invite Jesus into your life, and then spend the remainder of your days living your life in a way that honors Him.

Secondly, Deuteronomy tells us to write the commandments He has given us on our hearts. How do we do that? We get into His Word. We get into the Scriptures. We read about how He wants us to live, we sing about how He wants us to live, we listen as others teach us how He wants to live, and then . . . we do it. We make the choice to live our lives as He has called us to do.

And as we are doing that, we share with our kids what we are learning.

Mamas, we need to be having conversations with our kids, even when they are very small, about who God is and how He has called us to live.

We need to be having conversations with our kids about those things we believe in and those things we value as a family. I can promise you that if we don’t talk to our kids about this, the world and Satan will. The world is going to try to dictate:

What they wear

What they eat and drink

What tv and movies they watch

What video games they play

What music they listen to

We have to intentionally be having conversations with our kids where we share our beliefs and our values. We have to teach them about who God is and how He wants us to be living our lives. If we don’t, the world will. Now, how do we do this?

First, we lead by example. Let your kids see your reading your bible.  Let your kids hear you praying and singing His praises. Children learn by example, and your actions will speak louder than your words. Show them what a life following Jesus looks like.

Secondly, read and talk about God’s Word together as a family. You can do this in several different ways.

One easy way is through music. When my kids were young, we always had Veggie Tales, Go Fish, or Yancy playing in the car. Now that they are older it’s Hollyn, Toby Mac, or we tune into a local Christian radio station. As my kids listen and sing along, they are learning more about God and how He wants us to live.

Another way your family can get into God’s Word together is by taking time out of your day to read Scripture and talk about how it applies to your life. For our family, we read a brief devotional each morning during breakfast. Sometimes we read articles out of a Christian Kids magazine that we have a subscription to or watch a video through the RightNow Media app. Other times, we read from a family devotional or talk through a situation my kids have encountered at school. Regardless of what I choose to do with my kids in the morning, I am intentionally giving them an opportunity to hear God’s Word before they head out the door. I am reminding them of what we know to be true before they go out into a world that is  determined to pull them the opposite way.  It is so important that we do this, friend. It is so important that we are taking time out of our days to talk about God’s Word. Now, you might find that first thing in the morning doesn’t work for your family. Maybe for you, it would work better to do this during lunch or during dinner each night. Regardless of the time, be intentional about taking the time to read God’s Word together as a family and talk about how it applies to your lives. 

In addition to our morning routine, our family also takes time to get into God’s Word as part of our bedtime routine. When our kids were small, we read to them from a children’s bible each evening. Due to their short attention spans at those ages, we kept these stories short and always ended them with a quick prayer. As they got older, we transitioned into devotionals. Typically, there is a reading for each day of the year that has a portion of Scripture to focus on followed by a short story that ties into that Scripture. They often close with a few questions to reflect on and then a prayer that can be said together. Each of my kids have their own devotional book that we are working through right now, and we read with each child individually most nights. We do this because my kids are all transitioning into different seasons of life right now. My oldest is starting to move towards the teen years, and needs guidance on how to handle some of the peer pressure he’s been facing. My daughter is a preteen and needed a devotional specifically for girls that focuses on relationships with other girls and peer pressure. My youngest, now that he is reading better, is currently learning how to look up Scripture in his Bible. His devotional is more general for elementary aged kids. Taking time to get into God’s Word with our kids is important. I encourage you to find the time to start doing this within your own families.

Another way that we can teach our kids about God and how He wants us to be living our lives is to look for teachable moments in each day. Remember, teachable moments are those times throughout the day when God gives you an opportunity to teach your child something about Him. These moments can be found as you take a walk outside and remind your child that God created everything you see. These moments can be found in the midst of your child’s temper tantrum as you remind him that God gave him to you to raise and that he is to be obedient.  These moments can be found in the quiet of your car after your daughter tearfully shares how she was picked on once again that day. God gives us so many opportunities throughout our days to teach our kids more about Him. Look for those moments, and when one is found, take the time and effort to share with your child what we can learn from it. For our kids to make good decisions that lead them towards those assignments God has for them today, they need to understand who He is and how He wants them to be living their lives. Mamas, this is where we start. 

What else do we need to do to help our kids make wise decisions? We need to know our kids well. To be able to guide our kids well, we have to know our kids well. A great way to do this is by scheduling one-on-one time with your child. This can help you gain a better understanding of your child, his gifts, his interests, and his abilities and gives you the opportunity to focus solely on that child without distraction. One-on-one time also encourages communication between the two of you. What is one way we can get some one-on-one time with our kids? Schedule a date night! Let him pick what you will do on that date (within reason) and enjoy spending time together. Your child will love the individual attention, and you will love the time getting to know your child better. Dates do not have to cost a lot of money. For many kids, just going to the park to swing alone with mommy is a thrill.

My daughter and I just had one of these on Sunday evening. My husband took our boys to a hockey game, and she and I spent time at home doing girly things. We painted our nails, did facials, and soaked our feet in a bubble bath. We talked about some of the questions she has about growing up and ended the night with milkshakes. It was a lot of fun, and as I tucked her into bed that night, she told me it was one of the best nights of her life.

Schedule some time with each of your kids. If you take the time to get to know your child well, when a tough decision comes along, you will be better equipped to guide him in making that decision.

After we lay the foundation, it’s important to actually teach our children how to make wise decisions. If you remember from last time, I shared that our child’s prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until they are 25. Until that age, they need our guidance and support when it comes to making decisions. They also need the opportunity to practice. 

Begin by modeling for your kids how to make a wise decision. Use the everyday decisions you make for your family as your examples, and involve your kids in the process. For example, you might ask your child, “Should we go get groceries today or tomorrow? If we go today, we won’t have an opportunity to go to the playground. But, if we wait and go tomorrow, we won’t have milk for breakfast.” After you present the decision to be made, walk your child through the steps you take to make that decision. Identify the resources needed to say yes to that decision, think about potential consequences, good and bad, that may come with that decision, and think about how the decision will affect others. After you have considered all of this, then confidently make the decision. 

Once a decision is made, we then teach our kids two things. First, we teach our kids that once we make a decision, we choose to trust God with the results.  Secondly, we teach our kids that once a decision has been made, it’s important to take time to reflect on the decision and ask ourselves if anything can be learned from it. By modeling decision making for your child and involving him in the process, your child will not only gain a better understanding of the steps needed to make a wise decision, but will also feel as though he is a valued, contributing member of your family. 

It’s also important to give your child practice at making his own decisions. This builds a child’s sense of independence and responsibility and gives him more confidence in his decision making skills. As you give your child practice, it is important to remember a few things. 

First, make sure the choices you are giving your child are age appropriate. Just as children grow and develop physically, children also grow and develop in their abilities to make good choices. It’s important that the choices you offer them are appropriate for their stage of development. 

Young children, ages 0-2, are very me-centered and make their decisions based upon their limited point of view. Because of this, you as the parent need to make most of the decisions for your child. However, you can give young children a choice when it comes to which snack they would prefer, which book they would like read to them, or which toy they want to take to the park. 

By the time a child reaches preschool age, ages 3-4, his personality is firmly taking shape and having the opportunity to make simple choices is important to him. Children at this age make most of their decisions based on their strong preferences for one thing over another. But, even though they have strong preferences, you will still see some children at this age that are hesitant to make a decision on their own. They will observe their environment and often make choices based on what their peers choose to do. All three of my kids were observers out in public. At home however, it was a different story! For children in this age range, you may offer them a choice of which drink they’d like with their snack or which clothes they would like to wear. Do set boundaries when you offer these choices, however. Even though your child may strongly prefer to wear shorts and flip flops to the grocery store, doing so during the winter would not be wise.

For children between the ages of five and six, providing them with the opportunity to make even the smallest decisions builds a tremendous amount of confidence and self-esteem. Children at this age are more aware of how their choices can affect others and like the idea of being able to decide for themselves. But, with this ability to decide for themselves also comes uncertainty. Children at this age will ponder for a great amount of time over the smallest decision. It is important to provide children at this age plenty of time and support as they work through a decision. (Even if it’s a decision between wearing a yellow shirt or a green shirt.) Examples of choices to offer are smilier to those for three to four year olds. Five and six year olds can choose which snack they’d like to eat, which fruit they would like bought at the grocery store, or which clothes they would like to wear. Once again, it is important to set very clear parameters when you offer them a choice as they are still learning how to make decisions that are in their best interest. 

As children grow older and improve in their decision making, it’s important to gradually expand the number of choices offered and also provide them with choices that are of increasing importance. For example, by the time a child is 12 years old, he can choose his own bedtime, which after school activities he’d like to participate in, or decide if he wants to accompany the family as they run errands. Children at this age are much more independent, but it is still important to set boundaries as needed. Always consider the maturity level of you child and their level of responsibility when offering decisions.

Secondly, as your children begin to practice making decisions, it’s important to limit the options you give them. Research has shown that if we are given too many choices, we can quickly get overwhelmed. This is why I love shopping at Costco. At Costco, if I want to buy toothpaste, I have one option and one option only. However if I go to Walmart, I have an abundance of choices. There’s Crest or Colgate. Aqua-fresh or Tom’s. There’s mint, cool mint, bubble gum, or strawberry. There is toothpaste with mouthwash in it, or toothpaste that is supposed to protect your teeth better against cavities. I have so many choices, and those choices can sometimes become overwhelming. The same thing can happen to our kids. Our kids can quickly get overwhelmed if they are given too many choices. Give your child limited options as they practice their decision making. Give them a choice between goldfish or pretzels. Give them a choice between wearing the blue shirt or the green shirt. Give them options, but keep them limited.

It is also important to note that we must be careful not offer our child an option when in fact there isn’t one. For example, if your child has been playing outside in the mud, it is important that they wash their hands before eating their snack. They do not have an option. But how many times do we say, “Can you wash your hands before eating your snack” instead of simply saying, “Wash your hands before you eat your snack”? I’ve done this a million times. In my mind, my child does not have an option. Yet, when I place it in the form of a question, my child sees that as me providing him with a choice. Be careful not to offer your child a choice when in reality there isn’t one. 

Another area to consider when it comes to teaching your child how to make decisions is what we will call “sizing it up”. As children are learning how to make decisions, they often are unable to discern the difference between small and big decisions. They will become stuck when it comes to making simple decisions because to them, every decision is a big deal. It is important to model and give your children opportunities to make small decisions. These decisions are made quickly and have little to no significant negative consequence. For example, give your child the choice of eating grapes or eating strawberries with their lunch. This is a small decision that can be made quickly and with both options being healthy, there are no negative consequences. For decisions that are bigger and that have potential negative consequences that accompany them, it is important to guide your child through these carefully. These types of decisions require that more time and consideration be given to them. Choosing a musical instrument or a sport to pursue would be examples of a bigger decision. Give your child practice discerning the difference between small and big decisions.

Lastly, allow your child to make poor decisions. Unless your child’s health or safety is at risk, it is important that they be allowed to make some poor decisions and to make mistakes. Why is this important? Think about what happens when you make a mistake or what happens when you make a poor decision. Often, mistakes and poor decisions lead to negative consequences. And, those negative consequences give us an opportunity to learn what a better choice might have been. We can learn from our mistakes. We can learn from the poor decisions we make. Our kids need the same opportunities. When our kids make a mistake, it gives us an opportunity to teach them how to reflect on the poor decision made and the consequences that came from it. It gives us an opportunity to teach them how to make better choices in the future. Now, I know that it’s hard as a mama to let your kids fail. I get it. It breaks my heart to see my kids hurting. But, I’d rather my kids make their worst mistakes now while I am here to help support and guide them. I’d rather they mess up now so that I can teach them how to make better decisions. Now, it’s important to note one thing here. When your child makes a poor decision, they need to experience the negative consequences that come from that decision. Sometimes, I feel that we try to shelter our kids from the negative consequences that come with poor decisions. But let me ask you this. What is that teaching them? It teaches them that they can make poor decisions repeatedly. It teaches them that they will never have to suffer negative consequences despite how poor a decision is. It teaches them that they are not responsible for their actions even if their actions hurt someone else. Our children need to learn that negative consequences come when we make poor decisions and that we are responsible for our actions. Our children need to experience this reality.

As parents, we need to teach our children how to make decisions. We need to teach our children how to make decisions that are wise and lead them towards those assignments that God has for them. Lay the foundation now. Show them what a life following Jesus looks like. I read a quote from a blogger that I’d like to close with. She said, 

“It is more important than ever to teach our kids to be Jesus-followers, not just in name, but in everything we do.” 

 “Not just in name, but in everything we do.” What kind of example are you setting for your kids? Do they see a Jesus-follower? Do they see a woman who makes wise decisions? Do they see a woman who is open to the Best Yes assignments God has for her? I encourage you to be that woman. Be that woman whose heart is undeniably after His.