Leaving A Tangible Legacy

My son, keep my words  and store up my commands within you... 
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs 7:3

What's your favorite day of the year? I suppose most people would answer Christmas or their birthday. A football fanatic might say Super Bowl Sunday. Or someone prepared with the Sunday School answer would offer Easter Sunday.

Mine is June 5th. It passes each year in virtual obscurity, celebrated by a scraggly little band of six, two of whom don't even comprehend its significance. June 5th is the day I became Scott's bride but it's also the day we became a family. 

Each year we mark its passing with a family celebration. Shopping is accomplished. Delicious food is consumed. In truth none of this even matters to me. The final gift of the day is the one I most cherish. 

Scott writes an annual letter to each of his five girls. He celebrates God's goodness to our family through struggle and triumph. He observes God's unique gifts in each heart and life. I cry from the first word to the last.

When Scott was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 we had no idea whether we had six more months or six decades as a family. In truth none of do. Part of the peace I carried in my heart during Scott's cancer was knowing our children had a written record of his great love for them. They had a place they could return again and again to soak in their father's love.

My friend, Jeff Goin, wrote yesterday about a trophy his father had given him. He has a visible symbol of his father's love. Scott's letter is the same.

What will your kids read or hold after you're gone? What message will their heart receive? Why not take a moment today to leave an intentional, tangible legacy with your kids?

Afraid of Being Stung?

Today I have the incredible privilege of introducing you to Bill Blankschaen. Don't be intimidated if you can't pronounce his last name because he calls his blog Bill in the Blank. You'll find a treasure trove of inspiration, wisdom and insight there and I highly recommend you visit often to fill in the blanks in your life. Please help me welcome Bill!

by Bill Blankschaen

I hate yellow jackets! I know God made all creatures and all He does is good.  I still hate them. But with good reason. I’m pretty sure the pesky wasps hate me.

Not long ago, I tried to teach my sons how to check decaying wood for harmful pests before moving a pile of logs. I picked up the top log while lecturing them – and it happened. Now, I don’t know if it was on the first sting or tenth one that I realized something was wrong. I confess I never saw those insipid beasts. But I felt them. First on my hand. Then on my head.

In what must have been less than a nanosecond, I realized we were under attack and said the only wise, fatherly thing I could think of: “Run!” Fortunately, my boys obeyed immediately. (There’s a parenting lesson in there somewhere.)

Usain Bolt may have won the gold medal in London, but we covered that same distance to our pool in a lot less than ten seconds. And he didn’t have to wildly swat the air around him as he ran.

I tossed in one kid, pushed in the other – good swimmers all – then jumped in behind them. Half an hour later, we were icing down welts that would fester and itch for weeks.

Ever since that fateful encounter, I’ve been on high alert for anything resembling those black-and-yellow demons. I live each moment at the ready, my highly tuned reflexes poised to react ahead of their pernicious stings.

My wife says I’m just jumpy. Right before she laughs.

It’s weird.

The worst of it came when I nearly twisted my back into bits trying to avoid a vicious -- fluttering butterfly. Ok. Now you’re laughing? Really?

Is it really all that rare for us – any of us – to jump when nothing is there?

I think we do it all the time.

Often when we overreact to people around us, we’re not reacting to them. Not really. We fear some pain we experienced long ago that has nothing to do with them. It’s a pain that we take great care now to avoid. Something or someone stung us. So we jump. Even at butterflies. With disastrous consequences.

What if when we lose it, we’re really not reacting to our tired spouse, our noisy kids, the chatty co-worker, or that church committee member with the pushy attitude and that annoying habit of – well, you know who I’m talking about. We all have those testy encounters that trigger a slow burn somewhere deep within, reminding us of hurts festering from long ago.

You know, come to think of it, what if they aren’t the problem at all? What if we swat at them when they really mean us no harm? Worse, how often does God send a butterfly to beautify our life – and we yelp and run for cover.

Sure, life can be a dangerous place. But holding on to our hurts only ensures we live in fear of being hurt again. At some point, we have to let it go.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to check before moving a log – or losing my cool – next time. But I still think that butterfly was about to put a nasty ninja move on me.

And mosquitoes? Don’t even get me started.

Do you see this tendency to jump at those closest to you because of past hurts? Tell your story or suggest some solutions with a comment so we call can grow.

Photo credit: Photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/arthur_chapman/6189531842/ (Creative Commons 2.0)


Bill Blankschaen is a writer, thinker, speaker and non-profit leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith.  As a father of six awesome children, he blogs about family, life, and leadership at www.BillintheBlank.com. 

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

To Infinity and Beyond

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
1 Chronicles 16:11

It was one of those moments. Trapped at the stove and knew if I budged my effort at a home cooked meal would implode, I heard the sound of candy wrappers in the other room. I wished I were Elastagirl, then I could continue to stir while I elongated my body to wrap around the corner and catch the perpetrator in the act. Someone was breaking the no snacks before dinner rule. 

Me & My Super Man
Come to think of it, if I had superhero powers my parenting might improve on a number of levels. X-ray vision would prove handy to check what my teen watched during her slumber party. I could fly to the front of the carpool line and back home again. When one of my kids found a wet garment in the washer they desired to wear that day, I’d utilize my super speed to run around the block and dry it in plenty of time for school. 

While my powers would make parenting a great deal more fun, I’d likely abuse them. The real corner I long to see around is the corner of my life. It would be far easier to follow God if I could just see where He was leading me.

I don’t really need those powers. God has the vision to plot my course and the wisdom to lead my way. All I need is just enough faith to take one step. God blossoms my tiny seed of faith into far more than I can imagine. 

Today I may not be able to use my “lasso of truth” to pull a confession from my child, but I can confess to Jesus my absolute need of Him. I may not possess superhuman strength, but I can choose to draw my strength from God. I may not be able to command nature to do my bidding, but I can rely on the One who does.

What in your life today needs some super power? Let's look to God to draw our strength.

Lessons Learned on the Road - Don't Stop Breathing

Are you enjoying this new Tuesday series, as much as I am? Each lesson builds our strength and endurance for our unique run of life. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Does God listen to his cry  when distress comes upon him? 
Will he find delight in the Almighty? 
    Will he call upon God at all times?

Job 27:9-10

One of the keys to successful long distance running is maintaining an even pace. Ideally miles 1 and 26 of a marathon are covered in the same amount of time. For me I have no chance of maintaining a steady pace if I don't achieve even breathing. 

We've all experienced the consequence of unlevel breathing - that sudden, stabbing pain in our side. In fact I know why people refer to it as a "stitch" because it feels like you're being impaled with knitting needles. Three things bring relief:

1. Slow My Pace - Even though a consistent gait is important, I must slow down when my breath is out of control. Those moments of rest recharge me for the miles to come.

2. Remind Myself to Breathe - Sometimes I just stop breathing well. I must consciously remember the importance of oxygen to my body. That brief reminder recalibrates me to the task at hand.

3. Take My Mind Off the Pain - Some pain doesn't cease even with the first two steps. My only recourse left is to let my mind go to another place. With less focus on my hurt and more focus on other things, my body returns to a place of normalcy.

In my life run, I also can't forget the importance of breathing. Prayer is breath to our spiritual well-being. When it gets shallow the road of life begins to stab at us. But when I slow my pace, I have time to pray. When I remind myself to breathe, I remember to pray. When I pray, I take my mind off the pain.

Is your life out of control today? Why not slow down, remind yourself to pray and take your mind off the pain?

No News is NOT Good News

Blessed are those who hear the word of God.
Luke 11:28

Last night I hear Scott shouting into the phone. The "well-seasoned" gentlemen on the other end simply couldn't understand what Scott was saying no matter how loud he spoke. The older I get, the less I can hear and sometimes the less I want to. 

Back talk from the throat of my teen.
Bad news tumbling from my TV.
Bickering bouncing between my young children.

Some days I think it would be easier to click off my ears. And I do. I don't hear the people who walk about in my heart and I don't hear the One who makes His home there. 

But no news is not good news.

Stifling communication exacerbates whatever it is I'd prefer not to discuss. 

Today I'm over at Encouragement Cafe sharing about a time I tried to walk out of God's earshot. If you ever struggle to hear His voice or distinguish His from yours or others, you'll find rest in this stroll with the Shepherd. Come on over: http://www.encouragementcafe.com/2012/08/27/the-shepherds-voice/

When you have trouble hearing God, what's one thing you do to unstop your ears? Let's share our ideas in comments below.

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What's the "Write" Voice?

Love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 20:30

If you observe writing trends for any length of time, you will notice threads that run through various circles. 

An industry leader writes a manifesto; twenty more follow.
A trendsetter writes her inner thoughts in italics; hundreds start to do the same.
A publishing expert changes his blogging schedule; dozens make the same adjustment.

One of the most important aspects not just as a writer but as a person is to authentically represent who you are. We can't do that if we spend more time in imitation than meditation. Today I'm over at GodlyWriters.com talking about finding your voice.

Why don't you click over and join the conversation? http://www.godlywriters.com/finding-my-writing-voice-by-hearing-his/

Fist Pump Prayer

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:2

Sundays start early at Casa della Milholland. Scott arrives at church by 7. The sorority follows for the 8:00 am service. We coax our kids and their friends with donuts since this is the only service accompanied by frosting-coated, sprinkle-encrusted goodness. Most Sundays we arrive with at least one extra girl. We girls blast down the stairs like a brood of hens toting water, a sugar high and cuteness.

My goal is to make it through the hour with minimal distractions for our fellow church-goers and maximum love and faith strengthening for us. A few weeks back Rufus, one of our teaching pastors, wrapped up his sermon with the typical, "Let us pray." 

Next to me chirped a sugar-infused "Yes!" complete with fist pumps. As a smile spread on my face, God's truth covered my heart. When was the last time I got fist-pump excited about the opportunity to pray? 

I imagine God getting way more enthused than that, when we come to meet with Him. As we bow the space of our heart, He prepares to move mountains with a whisper. But do I anticipate a Carole King moment? One where - 

I feel the earth move under my feet. 
I feel the sky tumblin' down.
I feel my heart start to tremblin' whenever you're around.

An encounter with God surpasses any romantic interlude...

A lover can move our hearts but not our obstacles.
A spouse can hold our hand but not our future.
A loved one can make our day but not our eternity.

When can I go and meet with God?

Do You Love Me More Than These?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
 “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

John 15:15
 Scott and I are committed to a budget-balanced, cash only lifestyle. I readily admit he's better at this than me. This is probably why there's an occasional week when I "misplace" a $20. In my mind's accounting I have more money left than I do.

Like the woman who lost one of her ten silver coins, I will think, analyze and recount my steps for as long as it takes to reconcile my cash balance and my mental receipts. (I know, I hear you accountants telling me to just keep a ledger but we all have our issues...) My mind will not relent until every bill is accounted for.

For $20 I will seek until I find. 

Sometimes I feel God gently nudge my heart. Do I love Him more than $20? Do I pursue Him with the same relentless passion? What about those who've captured His heart? Do I seek mercy and justice for the Ones He loves?

Today I'm writing at Keeping It Personal. Come on over and go on a treasure hunt with me. Together we will find the heart of God.

Lessons Learned on the Road - Rest Days Fuel Your Run

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1

It's week 5 of my 18 week marathon training schedule. Each mile draws the starting line a bit closer. Four days a week I run. I run in heat, rain and humidity and I run whether or not I feel like it. Tenacity plays a big role in my training. Tenacity logs the miles so I can go the distance on marathon day. 

But there is an element of my schedule that's just as essential. These days are not marked in numbers but in words. Rest. They beckon my heart to sleep, calm and recovery. Rest is vital to my ability to run and particularly important to keeping me injury free.

Tenacity plays a big role in my life as well. I decide to stay married on the hard days. I choose to do dishes, carpool kids and wash clothes when I'd prefer to go window shopping. Tenacity prepares my heart to go the distance.

But rest is equally important. My ability to hold my tongue, my temper and my thoughts increases in direct proportion to rest. Rest keeps my relationships injury free.

So how can we make rest a high priority? Here's a couple of ideas:

1. Go Offline - Some weekends I choose to be social media free. I have to unplug to fully unwind. I need to take out the noise to clearly hear Him.

2. Go Outside - I love to swim, take the kids to the park or on a bike ride. Fresh air delivers fresh perspective. Something about removing physical barriers demolishes the spiritual barriers in my life as well.

3. Go On Adventure - I believe God pre-wired humans with a piece of His creativity. We were made to learn and experience. Reading a new book, visiting a new town or meeting a new person can put our hearts at rest by filling our desire for creativity.

We all run in more directions we can count. We log innumerable miles on each of life's days. If we're going to reach the finish line, we need ample amounts of tenacity and rest. 

So today, don't run with me. Rest with me instead.

Need an ATM...An Automatic Trust Mechanism?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

Trust Issues.

It sounds like a term that should apply to a wealthy heiress who can't decide how to spend her millions. Instead it applies to an average girl like me wants to spend her moments at peace and her minutes making an impact. I have trust issues.

My trust issues make me shrink back. I withdraw...and no cash comes out. Only tears, worry and uncertainty. People trigger my lack of trust but God holds the code to my ATM - my Automatic Trust Mechanism. It's when I focus on Him my problem shifts into perspective.

Do you ever wish trusting God was like a trip to the ATM - something you could accomplish in a single transaction? I used to think if I had "enough" faith I wouldn't have trust issues. But what is my trust issue is actually a trust opportunity?

I was a guest at another blog today and we're discussing this very thing. I invite you to click here and join the conversation today!

What issue has your heart limping today? Why not leap into His arms instead?

You're Invited

His heart lured him there. His life in shambles, he felt deep within hope was on the other side of the doors. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't make himself go inside.

He would sit in his car, cry, shake and leave the parking lot. Another week of desperation. Another week of loneliness. Another week without a connection to God. Another week not knowing what church was like.

The fact is he passed smiling Christian faces at work week in week out. Not one ever invited him. He was on his own and too ashamed of who he was to cross the threshold alone.

As my 13 year old, Hayleigh, grows physically from little girl to young woman, strength and resolve burgeons within. Tonight she will attend a special youth event at church. She's spent the better part of this week's free time inviting friends, collecting money and making certain her school friends feel welcome at tonight's "all-nighter". 

With a tweet, text and call she's done more for these middle schoolers than hosts of co-workers did for my husband. She loved her classmates with eyes, ears and hands. I want to learn to do that too.

Eyes - Maybe no one ever invited Scott to church because they couldn't see past his strong facade to the loneliness within. Hayleigh has been intentional to see kids who would enjoy being there. She made a list to make sure each was included.

Ears - Perhaps no one ever invited Scott to church because they couldn't hear his silent cries for help. Hayleigh has listened for barriers. She's made it easy for her friends to come by collecting money and being flexible. By listening for barriers, she heard their hearts.

Hands - It could be no one ever invited Scott to church because their hands were as uncertain as his. Hayleigh doesn't like "putting herself out there". Her natural tendency isn't to shepherd people and take a leadership role. Hayleigh put aside her reservations so she could set aside others'.

I want to love people with eyes, ears and hands. I don't want to be so busy or too insecure to pass by the lost and hurting of this world. I want to live...You're Invited.

Think of one person in your space today. Have you invited them to church? Why not text, call or drop by today and pick them up for church on Sunday?

Coffee Shop Faith

Woe to you when all men speak well of you.
Luke 6:26

My husband gets embarrassed to even say the words. They feel unnatural and silly falling from his lips. But because of his great love for me, he tosses a mumbled request out the window... 

"Uh can I get a venti caramel (what's the word again...oh yea) frappuccino. Uh, she wants it light, fat free, sugar free and all that stuff." He quickly punctuates the order with his low-maintenance drink, "Oh, and a tall coffee, bold and black."

The over-priced, specialty coffee shop brew doesn't hold the same allure for my husband as it does for me. He grinds the same beans, runs them through a similar coffee pot and each morning produces a near identical cup for pennies. I, however, can not get equivalent satisfaction at home. My pantry isn't stocked with flavorful syrup. My counter isn't adorned with a high-end blender. What I drink at home is a shadow of what I purchase for a price.

Sometimes my life is like that.

I argue with the girls on the way to church but pin a fake smile on just in time for the doors.

I teach a lesson on respecting your husband but make mine feel disrespected in the process with a story I share.

I purchase a spotless reputation but it's at a price. My real at-home brew doesn't come close to the high-dollar one I purchase with false perception. Yesterday we talked about praying bold brew. Today I want us to consider living bold brew. We can't just order a gratitude filled, grumble free life at a drive-thru window. We have to cultivate it one morning, one word, one choice at a time.

It may require organizing Saturday night to let Sunday morning breathe.

It might demand sacrificing a great story no matter how funny the punch line.

It will mean dressing up the cup of my heart with additives like morning whispers with God and afternoon thoughts of His wisdom. 

Then maybe the next time someone notices our coffee shop faith, we can proudly tell them it was home brewed.

Do you ever feel yourself pulled to pretend in public? What's one change you could make today to align your home self with the public one?

Bold Brew Faith

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, 
you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘
Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
Luke 17:6

It was one of those rare moments when I was in the car alone with only one of my four girls. I don't know now where Clara and I were headed, I only know our course was interrupted by crisis. 

"Could one of your older girls watch my other kids? I think I might need to take my son to the hospital." The voice on the other end was pinched with a mother's worry. The object of her worry one of Clara's good friends. I immediately made two more calls to get the babysitting arranged. By the time I hung up, Clara's eyes spilled tears. Worry had come to roost in her own heart.

"Can we pray, Mommy?"

I was thrilled this was her first response. My initial words were full of faith but then doubt bombarded. 

Are you sure you want to pray so boldly?
What if God doesn't come through?
What if her faith is wrecked by God's unresponsiveness?

My fear collided with my faith.

Did I really believe God or would I pray a weak "only if you want to God" kind of prayer? I pushed my doubt aside and pushed forward in faith - mother and daughter together pleading with God for a friend.

Within minutes my phone rang again. 

"How is he?" I eagerly implored.

"Fine. His abdominal pain just...disappeared. One minute he was crying. The next he was ready to go home. We didn't even see the doctor."

I am guilty of praying weak, short on grind prayers. They include lots of escape clauses for God. But what if God doesn't want a trap door? What if He's just waiting on us to push through our doubt and pray with faith? What if we mouthed boldly brewed prayers?

Has your fear recently collided your faith? Do you dare to pray bold?

Need help with your prayer life? Try these resources available for FREE download: PrePrayed - Preparation for Life's Events and 8 Life Transforming Prayers. Claim your free download at http://www.shannonmilholland.com/free-resources.html.

Lessons Learned on the Road - Running the Race Marked Out for You

Welcome back to our Tuesday Series - Lessons Learned on the Road. Today I have the privilege of welcome Rosann who I met online at Voiceboks.com and am privileged to run alongside in my journey as a Christian communicator. 

Rosann is filled with contagious joy and a zeal for life. Click over and read her blog, Christian SuperMom and you'll see what mean. She also has a unique ministry to the unemployed at Unemployed Faith. Please join me in welcoming Rosann to Jesus & My Orange Juice.

by Rosann Cunningham

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily tangles, 
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

Few things bring clarity, creativity, and joy to my heart like running. I've had a passion for it since childhood, but it wasn't until a recent particularly turbulent season of life, I actually labeled myself a runner.

When life's circumstances were too overwhelming to face, running became an escape. 

For 3 miles a day I was consumed by God's presence, lost in the worship experience my well-crafted playlist provided. With each stride, whispers from the Spirit reassured me.  I finished with less stress and a renewed outlook.    

Before I knew it, God planted the seed of crazy in my heart.  It was an idea…a challenge…that would stretch me beyond life's current struggles.    

Run a half-marathon? I laughed at the thought.

A 13.1 mile test of faith? My stomach knotted up.

Me? Surely, He must have the wrong person!

But when God calls, the answer needs to be obedience. 

And so it began. 

I became a runner. For real. 

God's lessons in my race were priceless. 

In Life, Be Purposeful

My purpose was an act of obedience, but it was also a mission to regain hope and strengthen my faith. To do so meant approaching it with one goal in mind. To glorify God. 

In Life, Be Equipped

Preparation gives joy a place to settle in, suffocating fear. A training plan, proper gear, and the best nourishment, are all significant factors in equipping ourselves for the journey.

My race wasn't just physically demanding. I had a mess of emotions to deal with. To be an overcomer and effectively equip myself, I learned to do three things.

  • Push myself (painfully) out of the mental and physical comfort zone of a 5K.  It was the only way to build endurance. 
  • Prepare for unexpected weather or tough terrain. I didn't just shop for gear at the Nike store. I spent hours reading and memorizing the powerful promises in God's word. 
  • For  proper nourishment and soul fuel, I met God daily in heartfelt prayer and quiet listening. 

In Life, Be Disciplined

Self-discipline determines victory or defeat.  Our mind is powerful, so eradicating the stream of negative thinking or a poor-me attitude is one of the most complicated tests we face.  

Being purposeful and equipped is the foundation for strong self-discipline.   

Mile four was a common battle zone between body and mind. With knees aching and  heart pounding fast, my mind sputtered lies.

You can't do it.

You're too tired.

You aren't strong enough.

To employ self-discipline, I refocused my mind on God.  I remembered why I was doing it - for His glory. I grasped for His truth - I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)  I closed my eyes, sensing His Holy Spirit. I wasn't alone.   

No matter how rough the road, He is always there carrying me. He'll carry you too.  

What race has God marked out for you? 

Rosann Cunningham is a Christian Author, wife to the man of her dreams, and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. When she’s not out for a jog or having energy burning dance parties with her daughters, she can be found writing for her blog ChristianSuperMom, and ministering to women whose husbands are in a season of unemployment, at her other website UnEMPLOYED Faith.  Her writing inspiration for both projects comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith.

My Pride and Joy?

My pride and joy.

It's an expression we've all heard and probably used.

I could tie those words around the faces of my daughters (at least on the good days).

My hubby would likely apply them to his cherry-red, studly Corvette.

This Corvette isn't his but those adorable girls sure are!
In fact the expression is appropriate for a myriad of settings - homes, offices, even church buildings. Anything we work hard for and accomplish we tend to take pride in and feel joy about.

Or do we? What do you think?

I invite you today to hop over to my church's online Bible study and think with me a bit about pride and joy... 

Is Your Marriage Worth 15 Seconds?

Today I have the honor of introducing you to Lindsay Hall, better known as The Sweet Christian Bride. There she encourages brides to prepare for their "big day" not just logistically but also spiritually. If you know a bride-to-be, are the mother of an upcoming bride or know one, would you be so kind as to pass her site on to them? It will be a guaranteed blessing!

by Lindsay Hall

15 seconds.

15. 14. 13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

Over in a blip. We all have hoards of 15 second scraps throughout our day when we just let time go. But what if you could take back one of those 15 second scraps and redeem it? Would you try it? 

A friend told me that she and her husband have a 15 second kiss every day. Their schedules are so conflicting that it was becoming easy to miss one another for too many hours in a week. Time was something they didn't have a lot of, but 15 seconds a day they did. So they took it. For 15 seconds every day, they remembered their romance, and it has yielded great reward.

My husband and I have 15 seconds a day to spare, so we added this kiss to our daily repertoire too. I do believe my friend and her husband were on to something. 

Wives especially need non-sexual touches throughout the day to communicate that they are loved. 15 seconds before one of you goes off to work means that you can be deeply passionate in that kiss without it turning into sex. Conversely, if your 15 second kiss is when you are hanging out with your honey, it might just be the catalyst for organic, firework sex.

The kiss is what you make of it. But knowing that 15 seconds each day, no matter how hectic that day might be, is your time to communicate affection to your spouse will keep your mind looking for time to connect romantically. It will keep you in tune with your spouse because you will be searching your day for where it might connect with your spouse's for those 15 precious seconds.

You would be surprised how an intentional kiss every day can revolutionize the intimacy in your marriage. Try it. It only takes 15 seconds.
Native to Los Angeles, Lindsay Hall has founded and authored a website for Christian brides called The Sweet Christian Bride. The site showcases Lindsay’s wedding expertise as well as A Bride’s Devotional, a complimentary download for brides. Lindsay has also been published in devotionals and discipleship curriculum and is a polished and motivating speaker. By the grace of God and with the ample support of her best friend and husband, Chris, Lindsay has been growing professionally as an author and speaker, helping to strengthen Christian marriages.

How Jesus Became My Everything

This video is a response to an incredible book I recently finished reading by Mary DeMuth called Everything. In this topsy turvy view of the Christian walk, Mary dispels the myth that Christian growth results from a try harder life. To experience radical change we need a relational transformation - of our head, heart and hands. Every person longing for freedom from performance Christianity should read this book.

Her words challenged me. Her question begged an answer. Was Jesus really my Everything? Did I love him with head, heart and hands?

There was a time I could not have responded yes. Although I knew Jesus, I strolled with Him as a casual acquaintance. I knew the right answers at church. I could find all the passages in my Bible. I was faithful to my church and served generously. But my real, walk-around life stayed the same.

In 2002 I introduced my faith to a coworker. God used my shallow faith to deeply penetrate his heart. I witnessed a miracle. Everything about him transformed because Jesus was his everything.

I decided to admit that I was a long-time new believer. It was time to start walking with Jesus as an intimate friend. I gave myself the counsel I'd given countless others - to begin reading the Bible in the book of John.

It didn't take too many days before my eyes fell on John 5. There we find Jesus healing the man by the pool at Bethseda. He simply asks him, "Do you want to be well." I knew with certainty He was asking me too.

I blubbered a yes and began to take daily steps toward intimacy with Jesus. I talked to Him. I listened to Him. I read His word. I thought about His word. I walked around with Him throughout my day. 

My marriage, my parenting, my home were all radically changed by the proximity of my new walking partner. 

Do you want Jesus to be your Everything? Then read Mary's book. Your heart, head and hands will bear the marks of your journey. You can get your own copy here: http://amzn.to/yxEeaz

How would your life look different if you dared to let Jesus be Everything?

Would you like to join Mary's video challenge? Click here to find out how!

Additional Capacity

It's been seven years.

Seven years of repairmen, loads that took five cycles to dry and rusted appliances.

It's been 2,555 days.

Two thousand five hundred fifty five days of near daily laundry.

When Scott and I combined our households in 2004, I brought a circa 1993 washer/dryer set and he brought 1996. By virtue of age alone his pair won. The next year our family blossomed from 4 to 5. Soon there after it expanded to 6. 

Clara brought an extraordinary supply of excitement and joy to our family but somehow her tiny little body managed to send me over the laundry edge. My several day a week job became daily. Our nearly two decade old washer and dryer just couldn't keep up. It tried for 7 years but recently our dryer's ninth life expired. It was time to send our set to appliance heaven (our church's appliance ministry refurbishes them for use by inner city residents).

My new set isn't just shiny, new and a oh-so-soothing hue of blue. They have mind-blowing capacity. A job I used to do daily now only requires a few hours a couple days a week. Their expanded capacity has given my life additional capacity.

Capacity. I crave it. I long for additional time, energy and strength.

Capacity gives us the freedom to say no to additional commitments and yes to our families.

Capacity gives us the strength to say no to striving and yes to rest.

Capacity gives us the fortitude to say no to lesser things and yes to Jesus.

Do you ever find yourself begging God for capacity? I do and He rarely honors my request. I think it's because He knows I'd squander the gift. A few years ago I realized I didn't need more capacity, I needed more of Him.

Time with Him gave me the freedom, strength and fortitude to live an upside-down life - one which naturally creates capacity.

Is your life stuck on spin cycle? Let time with Him wash over your day and give your life additional capacity.

Life Lessons Learned on the Road - Don't Look Back

Welcome to a new Tuesday series - Life Lessons Learned on the Road. Each Tuesday I will feature a writer who is also a runner and a life lesson they learned while on the road. It will be a great way for you to meet some new friends and hear the wisdom God planted in their heart through the solitude of running.

But one thing I do: 
Forgetting what is behind 
and straining toward what is ahead, 
I press on toward the goal to win the prize 
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Some mornings I set out to run 3 miles. I have run three miles so many times that it now seems routine - not always easy but always achievable. Other days a distance of 10 or more miles stretches my ability and my mental attitude.

No matter the distance one thing I've learned is it does me absolutely no good to look back. The ground I've covered whether one mile or ten no longer matters. What's important is what lies ahead. 

Looking back while running is like living a life filled with regret. When our heart is in perpetual rewind replaying events of yesterday, last year or decades ago, our life run is immobilized. There's three reasons it's not wise to run looking back:

1) You'll Stumble - When I'm looking behind I can't watch for potholes, branches or other objects waiting to trip me up on the road. We've all experienced difficulty in our past. What's guaranteed is that we will in the future as well. When our focus is on our history, troubles in the current trip us up.

Don't allow regret to clothesline you.

2) You'll Get Disoriented - Looking back while running makes me dizzy. With my body going one direction and my head another, my tummy rebels. The same is true for our spirit when we allow regret to lounge around in our present day life. 

Don't let regret scribble on the map of your life.

3) You'll Grow WearyHave you ever participated in or witnessed a race? Last Sunday in the Olympics, a field of women set out to run a marathon - 26.2 miles. No one particularly cheered when they reached 3 miles, 10 miles or even 26 miles. The final 0.2 miles were required to have a shot at Olympic gold. 

When I'm constantly looking back, my heart is consumed with covered ground. Freedom lies on the road ahead. 

Don't give regret permission to defeat you.

Paul told us we have to forget what is behind, strain toward what is ahead and press on. I want to sing some Boston "Don't Look Back" to all of us today. Let's stop living our lives in reverse. Stop allowing regret to boss us around and start focusing on the road ahead.

What's your biggest regret in life? How would your life change if you looked forward instead?