When You Struggle to Spend Time with God



Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

By the time my youngest son was born, my body was trashed. I had had 8 pregnancies total, and the last 3 children were born within 5 years. I had been exhausted during my pregnancy, and still felt incredibly tired, all the time. One day the scale scared me, and I decided I would let those numbers rise no more! The very next day, I took a walk. It was only 15 minutes, but it was something.

From there, I expanded my walk to 30 minutes, and then began jogging for one of my minutes. Each week I jogged another minute, and by the end of 9 months, I was actually jogging 20 minutes straight! …and I felt better than ever.

One of the things that was hard for me – besides learning to breathe – was the time it took to get back into shape. I am a homeschool mom, and have 7 children. That means a lot of laundry, and a lot of paperwork. But I needed to get myself into shape in order to better serve the Lord and my family, so I took the time, and I walked, ran and worked out.

And that’s the way it is spiritually. We can’t be in any sort of spiritual shape with just a wave at God in the morning, or a casual glance through the Scriptures on our way somewhere. It takes time to grow.


We need His wisdom – “The entrance of Thy Word giveth light…”
We need His strength – “Without Me ye can do nothing…”
We need His presence – “If thou go not with us, carry us not thence…”
We need a relationship with Him – “When Thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8


Selfish/Don’t feel like it
Perfectionism – if I can’t spend an hour, I’ll not spend any time at all…

Last week, someone asked me for some tips on having good devotions, because it was an area they struggle with. I know it has often been a struggle for me over the years, and it’s a common problem with many people as well. So I told them some of the pointers I’ve learned over the years, and things that have helped me.

This week, when I talked to her again, she excitedly told me, “I’ve grown so much this past week! I feel like I’ve actually been closer to the Lord than I’ve been in awhile, and I’m able to have good prayer times. And I’m so much less stressed! It’s simply amazing how a brief time in the Word of God and prayer energizes my day!”

Here are the things, plus a few others, that I shared with her last week:


1. Decide that you WILL have devotions every day. It’s something non-optional in your day. It’s a decision already made. Not, “Do I have time for this? But, “I’m going to find time for this.”

2. Plan your day around it. Having a quiet time with the Lord before the day begins is the best time to do it. As Elizabeth Elliot says, If you can tell the Lord that morning just doesn’t work for you, He will help you find another time.

3. Prepare for it the night before. I’m a tea-in-the-morning person, so the night before, I fill the hot water dispenser with water, put a tea bag in my cup, and measure out the sweetener. I lay my spoon beside my cup, and cover it with a small wooden lid (it conveniently says “tea” on the top!) and I set my Bible at my table where I have my devotions. I even go so far as to get my breakfast ready the night before, because I’m usually so hungry in the mornings. It’s so easy just to pour my hot water, go to my seat and get out my Bible.

4. Plan your time. Strive to spend at least 15 minutes, if you’re just starting out. Soon you’ll find you want more!

5. Reduce interruptions. This is what kills the average Mom during Quiet Time. Notice I did not say “Eliminate interruptions!” If you have children, especially small ones, interruptions are a part of life.

a. But one way you can reduce interruptions is to simply get up 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the fam. That way you can have a bit of uninterrupted time with the Lord before having to face the demands of the day.

b. When the children get up, let them know you’re spending some time with Jesus, and you don’t want to be interrupted. We assume they know what’s going on, but I know when I was a kid, I was clueless to everything going on around me unless someone looked me in the eye and told me point-blank.

c. Use a Bible app that plays Bible out loud. That way the children know you’re having your devotions, and they’re less likely to interrupt you if they hear Bible playing.

d. For prayer time, try to go to a separate room, or assume a praying position (perhaps on your knees, with your eyes closed) so folks know you’re praying.

i. When the little ones come up and start banging on you, “Mom, Mom, Mom!” look up from prayer & hold your finger up and tell them, “Mommy’s praying right now. I’ll talk to you in a few minutes.” Then proceed to ignore them, unless of course it’s an emergency. You won’t be praying for hours, so there’s no real danger of true neglect!

ii. Resort to hiding, if absolutely necessary. When we lived in a motorhome, we had all 7 children in about 320 square feet of living space, and it was completely IMPOSSIBLE to get alone. So I did the thing that Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, used to do – pull a blanket over my head. (She used an apron, but the principle is the same!) Funny how it is – it’s almost as if I disappeared!

6. Keep it Simple! We can easily complicate things by insisting that we have a journal with us and write in it daily, etc. but its best just to keep your Quiet Time as simple as possible. Last but not least, if you’re still having trouble…

7. Take a Media Fast – media may not be morally corruptive, but it does have a moral impact because of the things we could…& perhaps should – be doing instead.

One year in our travels, we were privileged to park our bus by a rather large church that had a gym attached to it. “Why don’t you come by the gym tomorrow morning? I’ve got a class I’m teaching, and you’re welcome to come work out with us,” the pastor told us after the Sunday evening service. I was trying to get more in shape, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I showed up early the next morning and joined their group. There were about 5 other ladies, all older (considerably!) and the pastor. He led us through a short warm up, and then we started the workout in earnest.

I know I wasn’t very much in shape, but I was quite a bit younger than those other ladies. I thought for sure I could do all those moves…but they showed me up! Those elderly energizer bunnies kept on going, smiling the whole time, while I slogged through the simplest maneuvers.

I went away from that workout sweaty, exhausted, and most of all, I learned something very important: never work out with elderly women! They work out like their very lives depend on it!

I talked with my elderly father about it a few days later, chuckling at my own lack of fitness, when he told me something that arrested my thoughts.

“They work out like their lives depend on it, because they really do!” he replied.

I thought to myself, My devotional time with the Lord should be like that…I should have my Quiet Times as though my life depends on them…because it really does!

What are some habits that you have learned that help you have good Quiet Times with the Lord?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

My Necessary Death


This is a bit of a knock-off from the Bible Study I’ve been having with the military wives here. Technically, the subject is parenting, but I’ve found that I can’t talk about true Biblical parenting without bringing out one important concept – death, and how it is necessary! Sounds weird, but I think you’ll see what I mean…

It was a bittersweet moment, and I knew it would be. When I said goodbye to my daughter and she turned to go into the airport, I knew it would be for a long time – perhaps for good. I smiled on the outside, but cried like a baby on the inside.

Since then, she’s had her struggles, her ups and downs, and I strain at the temptation to jump into the van and drive the thousand miles to comfort her, to hold her hand, to pray with her. But I can’t now. All I can do is try to give comforting words over the phone, and pray…and pray, and pray.

Every time a child leaves home, a part of me dies.

When I began having children, I knew it would be this way eventually…but I didn’t know it would be THIS way. I knew that having a family would require death to myself, but I didn’t expect a thousand deaths. I didn’t expect the daily internal turmoil that I face with every sunrise. And having a large family simply amplifies the pain.

Jesus spoke time after time of the necessity for death to occur, to give place to new life.

Luke 9:22-24 23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

I’ve spent many a sleepless night, wondering why it seems death must be so dramatic, so final. But when the Lord kindly gives me a glimpse of the new life that comes forth, I realize that without this death, there would be no life, and life is what I want. Yes, life is what I NEED.

My mind goes back to the labor room, the delivery, and the bleary-eyed first months of my daughter’s introduction to our home, and I realize that it’s been death all along that’s given birth to new life. The endless hours of potty training, the struggle to learn phonics and the never-ending task of learning times tables sap my mental energy, weary the body, and dull the emotions. A few insistent gray hairs raise their flag to memorialize my struggle.

But it is necessary that a part of me die, that she could grow and have the fulness of her life.

Death is always dogging my heels, but life is right behind. And life, like a precious waterfall, comes down from the Lord in His gracious kindness, His wonderful mercy.

And so I embrace death, as it is the necessary path to life. Like Christ’s death for me provided new life, my personal death to myself and to my own control of my life brings ever-widening blissful goodness from the Hand of God. He shows me His Heart, and I see His own personal death on the Cross as a means of new life. To embrace His cross, to embrace His death, and to take up my own cross and die my own living sacrificial death is to embrace life, love, and eternity.

Lord, help me learn to die well…daily… so that I can live well, and glorify You.

Maybe you know what it’s like to die to yourself, and you’ve seen the new love that comes as a result. Tell us about it! We’d love to hear your stories!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Hope for a Better Marriage

Commitment, work

Hope for a Better Marriage


Two years ago, we purchased a repo home which had been abandoned about five years before that. The original home’s owner was very meticulous, and the yard and landscaping had been very well maintained. Flower beds were carefully planted and tended, beautiful dogwood trees spaced evenly around the yard, with some myrtle trees sculpted like mushrooms. There was even a little kidney-shaped pond by the bottom step of the back patio. We’re told that at one time, it was one of the most beautiful yards in the entire area.

But the meticulous owner finally passed away, and his home fell to a yard butcher. The little pond became muck, beautiful dogwood trees were cut down, whole flower beds ripped out, and even the sprinkler heads were uncerimoniously mowed down.

Then something happened, and the house was abandoned. A water leak, a ruined floor, walls turned to mush and then removed, and a partial clean-up left it in deperate condition. And that was just the inside. The yard suffered as well.

In order to keep the whole neighborhood from going downhill, Mr. Bill the neighbor faithfully mowed the front yard. When we bought the house, the flower beds were totally overrun, the bushes were a tangle, and there were gaping holes where stumps of dogwoods quietly rotted away. We had a big job to do.

A year later, after many sweat-hours, 5 stitches, and a few tears, I sat on our back patio enjoying the fresh evening summer breeze. The cardinal who lived in one of the newly-shorn bushes by the patio was chirping goodnight as the shadows lengthened in the small grove of trees beyond the neatly mowed yard. I watched as the bat came out of the forest and began his erratic flapping in the darkening sky, and sighed with contentment listening to the spring peepers and their chorus in the sweet little pond.

It had been a big commitment, and a lot of work, but it was worth it.

I thought about my life. Buying a home wasn’t the only big thing I’ve ever done. Isn’t marriage an even larger one?

Having a Happy Marriage requires commitment. Your relationship doesn’t end the moment you say “I Do.” In fact, it’s just beginning.

Having a Happy Marriage requires work. Now we need to remember, work is a good thing! Some people say that work is part of the curse in Genesis, but Remember that Adam was created to “dress and to keep” the garden. It was his job, his responsability. And woman was created to be a help meet (or fit – a helper who is perfectly fitted for the job) to the man. So work is not bad. Work is your life’s calling, so let’s work on our marriages.

Having a Happy Marriage requires growing closer to God. Have you ever heard of a love triangle? Well, here’s a different sort of one: Imagine a triangle with God at the top, and the husband and wife on each side of the bottom. As the husband and wife get closer to God, they naturally get closer to each other. I heard that illustration many years ago, even before I was married. My husband and I have just had our thirty-first anniversary, and I found it to be absolutely true!

A better marriage = HOPE, and hope is a beautiful thing.

A happy marriage is like a dogwood blooming in the spring, a neatly manicured lawn, or a beautiful little shimmering pool. It may take commitment and work, but it’s well worth the effort.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Our Most Unusual Thanksgiving

Our most unusual Thanksgiving happened, not unusually, while we were on the road. This particular season our schedule was very different.

Travelling in a 15-passenger van, our family was on a short deputation trip to the Pacific Northwest. Late November found us in cool rainy Oregon, with its beautiful rocky coastline. It was simply gorgeous. However, the beauty and romance was lost on our travel-weary family as we were deposited into a small, slightly furnished apartment and promptly forgotten by the church members we had our meeting with. As soon as we settled into the place, cold and dreary settled into us.

I looked around at the kitchen and sighed. No oven. No stove! How in the world could I prepare and Thanksgiving feast for my family of 8 (my youngest had not yet been born) with none of the normal conveniences?

Is it possible?

Rooting through a few cupboards, I made a huge find: a crockpot! Rummaging around a few minutes longer revealed a few plates and cups, one measuring cup, a can opener, and an electric skillet. Hmmm….this may take a little bit of creativity, but I think I can make it work.
Shopping was a bit difficult. How do I find a turkey that will fit in the crockpot? Or do I fry it? Maybe I should only buy half a turkey! After much looking, thinking, and even some praying, I finally settled on a small turkey which I hoped would fit! After all, we couldn’t have many leftovers since we had to hit the road again just a day or two after Thanksgiving.

After I chose the turkey, the next few dishes were easy – just buy a premade pumpkin pie, some Bob Evans’ mashed potatoes, and some dinner rolls, and that part was taken care of! But the stuffing and the green beans would be a bit troublesome. With the only remaining cooking item was an electric skillet, it meant that I would have to do them both of them in it…just one at a time.

Thankfully, with a little wedging, that small turkey did fit in the crock pot. The beans and stuffing came out of the skillet in rapid succession, and we were able to sit down to the most unusual, but wonderful, Thanksgiving meal!

Was the turkey better than usual? No, and I couldn’t brag about the stuffing, either. But we were together. And, yes, we were quite thankful!

It may not have been home, and it certainly wasn’t the traditional roast turkey (after all, whoever heard of turkey in a slow-cooker??) but we had much to be thankful for.

And that small, slightly furnished apartment got a little bit warmer and brighter.

Have a warm and bright holiday, remembering God’s goodness and enjoying His blessings.

Now it’s your turn: Share with us your most unusual Thanksgiving memory! Leave a comment below!

Too Much to Gain to Lose


A few months ago I had the brainchild of getting into couponing. Now, I know nothing about it, but have always wanted to learn, and since my daughter is a recent Ultra-Couponer, I hoped I could latch onto her and get some good ideas. So I decided to start with shopping deals at CVS.

My first week, I bought $11 worth of stuff, and got $10 worth of Extra Care Bucks back! Not bad, eh? But I had to wait until next week to use those bucks, and the next week there were no real deals. The same with the following weeks.

One day I looked at my ECB receipt and discovered that this day was the very last day to use it! No problem – even though it was a Sunday, I would go after church. So on the way home from church I stopped by the CVS only to discover that it had already closed the the day! Oh no! My ECBs were expired! All that money was wasted!

I let a wonderful opporunity slip through my hands.

It reminds me of a verse: “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have learned, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

God has been speaking to me through this verse. Sometimes it is a gentle rolling, a murmer in the background, and other times it is a shocking almost visible trumpet call.

Why? Because I struggle. I struggle with allowing precious things to slip through my hands. I struggle with maintaining a lazer focus on the true and right things, and often get distracted with the meaningless dribble of life. I struggle because my attention span is so very very short.

But God in His mercy continues to call, to pull. He gently murmers in the background, and loudly proclaims His truth right in my face. And these are the things He has been speaking to me about giving the More Earnest Heed to:

1) My God – Coming to grips with the reality of God’s constant presence is something I need to pay more earnest attention to. His presence brings a clarity to my daily routine, and draws me toward a right relationship with Him.

2) My marriage – I may have been married a long time, but there’s no time for vacation or coasting. I must always pay earnest attention to my spouse, otherwise, the parade of daily distractions will pull us apart.

3) My children – For me, I struggle with screen time. It helps to remember that every moment spent in front of the screen is one less moment I spend with my family. It’s something I must always be on guard against.

There’s too much to gain to lose.

Is there anything The Lord has been speaking to you about lately? Do you find yourself struggling with the meaningless dribble of life and not doing what you know you’re supposed to?


On a personal note, you may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here lately. It’s because I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my daily activities and schedule. There have been plenty of evenings I thought to myself, “Well, I’m not getting on the computer tonight. I wonder what I’ll do?” and before I knew it, one or the other of the young people pulled me aside and I spent the evening talking, or taking a walk, or something fun. It’s been a good thing to keep my computer turned off.

We’ve continued on our travels, and now we’re up in the northern states. It’s blissfully cool here, so I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great running weather. My 5k times were good for August! Now we’re back south, and it’s more of a challenge.

We’ve been doing a lot of singing as a family, which I love. We got our new CD, “I Have Been Blessed,” and have also been learning new songs. If The Lord allows, I’m hoping to make a recording when we come back from this trip, so we will hopefully have another CD ready to put out before the year is up.

We got to visit with the grandkids last week, too! What a blessing it was to be there while Emily had her birthday!! I can’t believe she’s turning 6 years old already!!

Time flies! …and I’m constantly reminded as I look at my grandkids, “I have too much to gain to lose.” I don’t want to let any opportunity to glorify God slip through my hands!

Almost Ready!

If you’ve been following me for these past few weeks, you know we’re getting ready to head out on a two-month trip – a mini-furlough of sorts, designed to help us raise the support we’ve been losing over the past 2 years. Now we’re almost ready!


It’s been an extremely busy week, as we’ve been getting ready for our two-month trip! There are all the things that need done in the yard, to hopefully get the bushes, etc. ready for a 2 month break (does it help to trim them down within an inch of their life?? They won’t grow back soon….) Anything that needs done to the house had to be done this week, like cleaning out cabinets, etc. And then there’s school to plan.

Since we’re starting school the last week of August, we need to take all the school books for my three studious students with us. THAT’s going to be a challenge! I’ve got everything ordered (and one book I had sent to one of the places we’ll be soon, because it won’t come before we leave,) and I copied all the tests they will need while we’re gone, since we won’t have a printer or copier – and I don’t want to run to Staples every day to copy a test for a kid!

One challenge, but also a blessing, is going to be our Heritage Studies. I decided that, instead of bookwork, we will take these next 2 months and learn everything we can about the states we pass through. The plan is to stop at every Welcome Center and gather information and make a scrap book of the trip. I am also going to have each student write a few paragraphs about what we’re learning, and include those in the scrap book as well. It sounds like a lot of fun!

While I’ve been looking for containers to carry food, school materials, and other necessary items, my husband has been busy building a utility trailer. We looked for one on Craigslist and online, but couldn’t find one in the budget, so he bought a trailer frame kit, built that, and went to Lowe’s and got a bunch of wood to make the box. These past few days has found him out in the garage sawing, measuring, and sweating! Our FB page has some pics of the progress we’ve made.


The van is as ready as it’s going to be, except that today it should get a good cleaning. We had the oil changed, the wheels aligned, and the tires rotated and balanced. One thing that concerns us is a loose CV joint, which we hope to get fixed at our trusted mechanic in PA…and we hope it doesn’t go out before that! If you could pray for us about that, I would appreciate it.

I also got several CD’s and books ready to take with us on the road: Lionproof, Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, and The Umbrella Story, as well as two CD’s – I’ll Say Yes, and a brand-new one, I Have Been Blessed! I’m especially excited about the new CD, because it was recorded while the guys were still with us, and it’s one of the very best we ever did!


I’m writing this on Friday, but when this posts, Monday, I’ll be just putting the finishing touches on the packing, and loading the trailer and cleaning the house. Before you know it, we be on our way!

As we go, I’ll keep you posted on events, meetings, and setbacks. I’ll try to take pics of as much as I can, and keep you up to date on our progress.

Please pray for us as we go, for safety, and that we would be a blessing to the churches we go to!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Travel Preparation – Getting Ready!

If you saw my previous post on travel preparation, you know we’re getting ready for a long trip around about half of the country. It’ll be busy and crazy, but right now, I”m just crazy busy, and sometimes just crazy!!



Making lists, cleaning, shopping. Getting out the luggage and dusting it off. Finding tough containers to put things in. More cleaning. Shopping for School books. More cleaning.

Guess what I’m doing? I’m getting ready to travel! The Courageous Journey will be going (the whole family, of course) on a short-term furlough trip during the months of August and September. Lord willing, we’ll be singing, preaching (my husband, of course!) and presenting the ministry to the military. And I can already see on the horizon lots of laughter and a few tears.

I’d like to include you on our journey along the way, if I can. I may not have a smart phone, and my internet will be sporadic at best, but I’ll be the crazy woman standing there with an IPad taking pictures! It won’t be a fashion-show of a trip, that’s for sure. But as The Lord allows, I’d like to post updates on our trip.

Though we travel often, it seems, this time is different. For one thing, we’ve been stationary for a year and a half, so it will be quite a change for us. Also, we’ll be doing school on the road this time. Now, that’s not unusual, except that this time we won’t be taking our RV. That means, not just home school, but “van school” – and that’s NO Sunday School picnic. Last time I did that was in 2001, when I had several younger children. Every time we hit a turn or my hubby hit the brakes hard, math manipulatives went rolling to the front of the van! Since I have older children now (the youngest is in 7th grade) I hope it will be easier. But if it isn’t, I’ll let you know.

The romance of a very long trip can die quickly, usually after the second week. Most folks don’t understand what it’s like to have a harrowing drive through horrid traffic, show up at a church breathless, and be asked to sing. Now I love singing, but it can be difficult when you’re mind is still thinking about the awful accident you just passed. Yes, there are lots of wonderful sights to see, lots of fun people to meet, and some really good times, but there are also the challenges of living in your car, getting lost, or feeling like you can’t stand another moment of driving.

Right now, my days are filled with frenzied cleaning and preparation – lists, lists, and more lists. I have to make sure I remember every school book known to man, since we’ll be starting school (with three students) on the last week in August, and every other thing I could need for 2 months. I mean, how could I possibly forsee the future to know what we’ll need? I definitely need to pray, as well. The Lord is able to remind me of things I may need.

I have an entire spiral notebook reserved for my trip. On the first page is my list of everything I need to do before I go, and on the other pages I have headings, “School Items,” “Kitchen Items,” “Food Items,” etc. On the first page, I wrote dates that these actions need to be done by, and of course am crossing them out as I complete them. I’m also working with a calendar (which is in the back of the notebook) and writing down each days assignments there. It’s not very high-tech, nor is it incredibly neat, but it will ge the job done.

On a side note, one of the meetings we’re going to is the one during which I wrote the children’s book, The Umbrella Story. I had been praying about a way to help my young people understand what to do when we (their parents) make mistakes. During this meeting, it all came to me – the young lady with her beloved umbrella, her discovery that it has a rip, and her trip to the Maker, who eventually helps her discover how to mend the hole. By God’s grace, I wrote the entire story in an hour and a half.

It’s a wonderful analogy that even young people understand. If you haven’t already read it, you can get a copy here or here.

Next time, Lord willing, we’ll be about ready to loose our moorings and head out!

Are you taking a trip this summer? What is your most memorable event that happened to you on a trip?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

5 Must-Read Books!

I love to read, and lately I’ve read some really good books! God has allowed me to rub shoulders with some very wonderful people via their stories, and I’m so thankful to be able to pass along to you some of my very favorites!! (Side note: This post contains links to products that I have read, enjoy, and recommend, but they are not affiliate links. I get nothing from recommending them.)




When I was younger, I read every single book on parenting I could find. Some were helpful. In fact, some were very helpful! But some were not. I remember particularly one book that made me feel like the worst parent in the world. I liked the cover, and the description looked like it would be very helpful. But reading the book made me feel as though I had not only made a ton of mistakes, but I my children would be ruined completely unless I did everything the book said! Maybe it’s not quite as dramatic as that, but at the time, it sure seemed that way. After that, it was awhile before I picked up another parenting book.

I found that discouraging books cause me to expect more out of my husband and children than they are able to give. Friction ensues, and the whole family unit is put out of whack. I remember one book that said that a father should start a business, so he could teach his boys to work. Well, my husband is a missionary and we travel a lot, and he was unable to start his own business. I became frustrated with my husband, until I learned to accept him and his calling the way it is.

Contrast that book with an encouraging one.

An Encouraging book:

A) Gives you hope – You’re not alone, and you CAN do it! The author doesn’t come off as a know-it-all, someone who is “imparting his vast store of wisdom” to you – he is a human being, just like you, who has gone through the same things and has come out on the other side SUCCESSFUL! He tells us, not how we should do it and why we’re not doing it right, but how he did it, and how we can do it too!

B) The message from the author is not, “I’ve always been awesome,” but “I was born with certain weaknesses in these areas, and this is how I was able to overcome them.” He does what he does in spite of all his learning problems, communication difficulties, and financial setbacks.

C) Points you toward a definite, reachable goal. It may even break those goals down into smaller, even more manageable parts. Many How-to books fit into this category.

Here are some of my faves:

1. Success despite setbacks – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is the result of his filing for bankruptcy, and then learning a huge lesson on how to really handle money before it goes and handles him. It’s a boy-meets-money, boy-loses-money, boy-gets-money again story, with Dave owing his ultimate success to things he’s learned from simple folks and their common sense.

2. Survival against all odds – Marcus Lutrell’s Lone Survivor. (we downloaded in and used the “replace with” key to change they cuss words into more acceptable alternatives, since we read it out loud as a family.) The book follows his training all the way from his childhood to the incredible mission, in which he alone survives. The character of these men is inspiring and amazing!

3. Learning to Succeed Despite Flaws in Your Character – Frank Bettger’s How I Went From Failure to Success in Selling. This is my husband’s favorite book, because he can identify with Frank’s failures, and, although we are in the ministry, we are showing Christ to a hungry world, and we can’t afford to fail because of our own character flaws.

4. Losing Weight By Eating – Trim Healthy Mama, by Serene and Pearl. Their book describes how people have used their program to lose weight while not feeling deprived one bit! I’ve been using their program since January myself. I’ve wanted to shed the stubborn last ten pounds, and gain control over my hypoglycemia, which seems to dictate everything I do. Their book, and the program they use (and now I use!) has helped me tremendously! In fact, I am finally down to the same weight I was when I got married, and I get to eat chocolate cake every night! (If you want to know the recipe, ask in the comments section!)

5. And my personal favorite: Learning to Parent Despite the Way I was Raised. OK, so this is my own book, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children From the Claws of the Devil. Many of the folks I interviewed did not come from ideal homes, and yet they still are serving The Lord today, and are raising their own children to love and serve The Lord. These young people understood that their parents were not perfect, but they were able to sort through the bad to find the good, and then clung to the good.

I remember speaking to one parent of a godly second generation Christian. I knew she had had a very rough childhood, and struggled with confidence regularly. I asked, “What did you do that pointed your children in the direction of serving The Lord?” She looked puzzled, thought a minute, and replied, “I don’t know. Prayed??” But when I talked to her adult son, he was able to point to his mom and tell me, “Yeah, I know she’s not perfect. But she was real. She loves God with all her heart, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do, too.”

Don’t read books that make you feel like a maggot. Read encouraging books that will lift you up and give you hope.
And if you haven’t gotten your copy of Lionproof yet, you can get it today!

Question: What good books have you read lately? Why?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Travel Tips: Taking an Ounce of Home

Have a summer trip planned? We do – and I want to be careful not to forget anything! Here are some travel tips to help you bring an ounce of home with you.


Got travel plans? We do.

We’ll be taking a two-month trip this summer, to do a little mini-furlough on the advice of our pastor. Praise The Lord He has provided someone to come and interim pastor for us while we’re gone.

Your trip may not be a two-month one, but if you’re taking a trip this summer, there are definitely some things you want to bring. In my mind, an ounce of home is worth a pound of away.

Here are some travel tips for you:

1) Bring something with you that reminds you of home – a pillow, a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal

2) bring a scent along that makes you happy and comfortable – every evening, my daughter gives me “my scents” and t makes me feel warm and cozy, ready for sleep.

3) plan your meals carefully – being away from home does not mean you have a license to binge. It’s not good for you or your family, so plan your meals carefully. If you have to go out, plan on eating real food, rather than junk.

4) If you need some essentials to help you sleep, make sure you bring them – if you haven’t noticed, sleep is a big priority. Perhaps it’s because, with 7 children, I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, but I’m not at all interested in miserable nights, and would do almost anything to avoid them. Fan, blanket, night light…you get the picture.

5) Remember that bugs are everywhere, so bring bug killing spray! I couldn’t sleep if I knew the place was full of roaches!

6) Bring a candle, and make sure you have soothing music on your device before you leave. Did I say soothing? How about romantic?

7) something to do – an interesting book is a must, plus any devices you enjoy. For me, I also include pens and paper for writing, or note-taking, since I enjoy an odd mix of paper and electronics.

8) Don’t forget your workout clothes and some gear! Unless you actually PLAN on not working out at all, or if you’re only gone a few days, plan on working out! Don’t let a trip make you flabby. In our trips, I spend enough time in the car that I begin to stiffen up like a dead fish, so I’m going to throw some exercise bands in my suitcase.

9) The kids will need their own version of all of the above. The very worst of the worst is when you forget that beloved blanket and lil Margot simply refuses to go to sleep without it….AND you’ll be away for a whole week! Don’t let this happen to you!

We may not be leaving on our trip for another 5 weeks or so, but I’m already starting to plan. You can be sure I’ll be working on these and other travel tips!

Do you have any travel plans this summer? How can you “take an ounce of home” with you?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

5 Things Faith Does

Driving our bus down a 2-lane highway in lower Michigan, my husband struggled to keep the rig on the road. There had been a violent storm the night before, and the weather was still quite finicky. The wind was gusting quite a bit, turning our bus-turned motorhome into a land-roving sail.


While he wrestled with the steering wheel, we continued our normal daily routines. It was not long after lunch, and both the dishwasher and washing machine were humming, while the kids sat in various favorite spots enjoying a book or writing on the computer. I sat on the couch beside several kids, while one of the girls walked from the back bedroom toward the front, absolutely unaware that the course of our lives would change dramatically in the next few seconds.

I heard my husband shout, “Look out!” and the next instant felt the bus shudder. Time seemed to crawl as I looked up and saw that the windshield was shattering. For what seemed like an eternity, I could see leafy arms reaching toward my cowering daughter, as several branches came through the hole that was once the windshield. The noise created by splintering glass, kids shouting and my husband yelling filled the air. Within seconds, My Beloved pulled the bus to a stop, although he could hardly see the road.

Even before the bus was stopped, however, several of the children began crying and screaming, blood oozing from various places. It was an instant I will never forget.

In just a second of time, a tree had fallen right in the path of our bus, not even hitting the ground, but striking our windshield. At that moment, my life was totally out of my control.

Jochebed, Moses’ mother, had a similar life-changing situation. In Exodus 2, we see that the king, Pharoah, had already made his slaves’ lives very difficult, but now, in an effort to keep their numbers down, he ordered that all baby boys be thrown into the river to drown. Jochebed’s life, which had never really been easy, had suddenly been turned upside-down.

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve never had an accident, or maybe you’ve never experienced a life-changing moment, but I’m sure somewhere along the line, you’ve experienced times when you’ve felt that your life was totally out of your hands. Perhaps it was a financial situation, or sickness of a spouse or child, or perhaps something broke, and you had a difficult situation to deal with. We’ve all had times when the life we were living at the time took a sudden turn, and we were now completely in God’s Hands.

Even though she was in a awful situation, Jochebed chose to live by faith. She put her life into God’s Hands…and her faith altered the entired course of history.

What happens when we choose to live by faith?

When we choose to live by faith, we choose to place our lives in God’s control. Jochebed understood that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s Will; no stronger Hands to be held by the the Hands that made the Universe.

We choose action over passivity. Like Jochebed, whose faith moved her to make a little boat for her baby boy, I could not just sit around after the accident. Within seconds, I popped one child in the shower to rinse off his glass, while someone else began brushing off another child. Still a third started sweeping up all the glass.

We choose the Word of God over our emotions. Jochebed had the promise that God’s people would someday be delivered from bondage and go to the Promised Land. Her emotions probably told her that her efforts were worthless, but God’s Word never changes. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee…

We choose miracles over the mundane. While every other Israelite mother was throwing their baby boys in the river, Jochobed chose a very unusual route. Her results were miraculous – her boy not only lived, but she was PAID to take care of him!

We choose to live a life of significance, rather than to fade into the obscure. All of the peole in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 (including Jochebed) were people of significance – not because they were powerful people, but because they were people who exercised faith.

God took care of us that day along the side of the road. Amazingly, only the Rocket Boy had to go to the ER to have glass removed! Two months later, the bus was all fixed up and ready to go, and we were able to continue our journey. God is good!

Personally, I want to live a life of significance, to make the world a better place because I’ve been in it. It can only happen as I live a life, like Jochebed, of faith.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum