My Kids Are Weird

Weird. She called my kids weird. To. My. Face.

I suppose I should have taken offense but instead I smiled. I blame my response on Craig
Groeschel. Ever since I started reading Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working the way I think about the word has been transformed.

When she called my kids weird, because they are kind to each other. For the most part, they get along. They refer to each other as best friend. This just isn't normal.

Often in parenting our goal is to make our kids typical. We want them to fit in, get along with their classmates and generally be a superior reflection of their parents. Rarely do our goals extend to the way they treat their siblings. They are expected to be rivals - to be at their worst at home. You know kind of like their parents.

But what if we chose to parent differently? What if we chose to give our families our best and to expect our kids to do the same? Would people think we were weird? Probably.

Would some people think we're bad parents because our kids choose each other over their peers? Likely.

But would it be worth it? Definitely.

My kids are weird. I'll admit it. You might even think I'm the worst mom ever. But I really don't care...probably because I'm weird too.

What would you do if someone called your kids weird? Would you consider it a compliment or an insult?

Listen Up

Everyone should be quick to listen.
James 1:19


How could my precious little seven year old utter such a grown up word? I'd heard inappropriate words fall my girls' lips before so I wasn't entirely surprised. And thanks to my vast parenting expertise I knew just what to do in the situation.

1) Don't react.
2) Ask my child if she knows what _____ means.
3) Calmly explain why we don't use the word.

My flawless execution of my parenting plan was followed by a barrage of repentant tears. Chalk one up for my nomination as Mother of the Year. 

A day later I was in the laundry room folding clothes when my daughter walked in with that inquisitive look on her face. 

"Mom, I can ask you anything right?"

"Of course, Sweetie."

"Can you explain exactly what's wrong with saying the word snacks?"


I had clearly wasted a perfectly good mom lecture. Worse I now had some apologizing of my own to do. 

Sometimes I'm not a much better listener with my Father than I am with my kids. I lay out my requests to Him and wait in confident expectation He will answer. I wait until I see a glimpse of what I expect to hear and than charge full-force in my self-determined direction. 

Instead I need to listen up - to turn my focus toward God and give Him my undivided attention without expectation. 

Do you ever jump to conclusions when try talking with God? How do you clear the air and tune into His voice instead of your own thoughts?

Unrestrained Passion

The words of the reckless pierce like swords. 
Proverbs 12:18

It was one of those calls you don't want to receive. My mom was sick. Really sick. Hospitalized with a ruptured appendix, I feared sepsis.

I quickly loaded my three children - 10, 7 and 1, and my five week pregnant body into the car for the 8 hour drive separating me from my ailing mother. After several days of recovery, she was released to her home for further recuperation. Another of my sisters was headed in to take my place so I made arrangements to head home.

To accommodate my unplanned trip, my ex-husband generously agreed to a delay of his visitation with my oldest two. Since I was so early in my pregnancy, I had to fight exhaustion to rise at four am for the all-morning drive back to my home.

Unfortunately along the way we ran into multiple traffic delays. My already tiring trip was punctuated by irritable inquiries from my ex as to the exact timing of my return. In the midst of this my oldest confessed she had left her orthodontic retainer at home. Freshly out of braces, she couldn't go another night without her appliance. 

Three hours after my promised return time my car limped into our driveway. There was no retainer in my daughter's bedroom. In truth, she had misplaced it. Her confession of its home location was just a childish ploy to delay facing consequences.

One too many hours short on sleep and fielding one too many accusatory questions from my ex and all the stress and strain of the prior days bubbled up my throat, out my mouth and straight into the heart of my daughter.

My words were harsh.

My tone was hateful.

I painfully failed her as a loving mother and a woman of restraint. 

To this day it remains my biggest parenting regret.

But God is bigger than my biggest parenting failure. He used this life moment to retrain my tongue. I realized the only safe place to bring my frustration is to His ear. Today, as I rant and rave, He restores and replenishes my heart.

I have my Father's ear. There He gives me a safe place to unfurl unrestrained passion. When I give Him an ear full, He gives me a heart full. I go to Him empty and come away with plenty.

Is God a safe place for you? If not, where you unload your deepest hurts?

A Thrift Store Heart

Sharing isn't something I had to consciously teach my four girls. They have dressed in hand-me-downs and joint property from the first possible day. As we shift clothes, accessories and shoes from one body to the next, my family is a living thrift store. 

It's no wonder we all like the song Thrift Shop. The lyrics (even the cleaned up ones) are too mature for any of us but some of the one-liners get sung frequently as we go about town. At the top of our playlist is, "I look incredible."

I heard my younger ones singing this line in the backseat recently. One started, "I look

To which the other, named Carynne, answered, "I look Carynne-able."

To my youngest this is the highest compliment. She wants to be exactly who and what God created her to be. She is sure of herself. 

Every person encounters opportunity accompanied by insecurity. If we give voice to our insecurity, we will hear - 

"I can't."

"I'm not equipped."

"I'm not enough."

This is thrift store thinking. Instead, God wants to fill my thrift store heart with the depths of His boutique truth. 

"He can."

"He equips."

"He is enough for me."

What is insecurity whispering into your heart today? Could you dare to take your thrift store thinking and make a free exchange up to boutique God-sized love? 

Did you know that Shannon is currently booking her speaking calendar for summer and fall? Contact her today to speak at your event. 

I Have God on Speed Dial

Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys his servant?
If you are walking in darkness,
    without a ray of light,
trust in the Lord
    and rely on your God.
But watch out, you who live in your own light
    and warm yourselves by your own fires.

Isaiah 50:10-11 NLT

A few quick errands became hours spent away from home punctuated by feedings, diaper changes and spit up. I was just pulling into the garage on a scorching Texas day when I realized my newborn was blissfully asleep in the back seat. Wanting her to sleep as long as possible, I kept the garage door up and the engine running while I shuttled my purchases inside. 

I saved the best bundle for last. My plan was to stealthily dislodge her car seat from the base and place the whole thing inside the crib. If I made sloth-like movements, she just might finish out her nap and give me a few minutes to locate the sanity I'd lost somewhere between  the dry cleaners and Costco.

I gently slid up her door handle. It didn't move.
I opened the door with a bit more persistence. It didn't move.
I gave it an all out yank. It didn't move.

Alarm raced up my spine as I realized my baby was locked inside my car. 

My gut dialed 9-1-1. I wasn't sure if they'd bring handcuffs with them or just a copy of the Bad Mom Award but the fire department arrived in mere moments. A quick survey of my situation brought out the slim jim and some judgmental glances.

"Um, Mam, do you perchance have Onstar?"

I mumbled a tentative, "Yes."

"Did you call them already?"

"Uh, no."

Judgement evaporated by the cloud cover of humored, yet straight faces.

The fire fighters showed me the number for OnStar posted, for my convenience, on the outside of my window and suggested I try them first. Seconds later my doors clicked, their engine roared and my baby slept through it all.

Sometimes I try to find my own way out of a situation. I plot a conversation or ponder a problem. I walk by the light of my own fire. OnStar should have been my first call, not my last. God shouldn't be my last call either.

When you light a candle, there's a moment between the spark and when the object actually takes the fire. I need to invite Him into my struggle at the first spark. In the pause between the spark and the blaze is the opportunity to overcome my circumstances instead of allowing them to overcome me.

Do you ever walk by the light of your own fire? How could God's light change your situation?

I was privileged this week to guest post at Patheos for my friend, Bill Blankshaen. Do you ever wonder what your pastor's wife would say if you overheard her true confession? Well I am a pastor's wife and this is mine...

Rub Me the Right Way

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory 
that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17

I scraped and scuffed... 

I grazed and grinded... 
I rubbed and rotated...

but I could not get the pebble off the bottom of my shoe.

It's amazing how a small object can affect great pain. It reminded me of Scott and my honeymooning days Italy. Rome is perfumed with romance, intrigue and wonder but you have to traverse ancient cobblestone roads to find it. Every day filled with discovery and passion ended with two pair of aching feet.

A few hours after my new found rock friend made a home in my foot, I realized no amount of stomping was going to dislodge him. He'd taken up permanent residence. Ready for a foot rub, I finally turned my shoe upside down. The funny thing is there was no rock in my shoe. The source of my discomfort turned out to be a jewel.

Sometimes life is like that.

The speaking opportunity passes to other lips.
My child doesn't make the team.
The healing doesn't come.
The battle I thought I'd won wages war with me again.

No matter how I scrape, scruff or grind, I can't change my circumstances but I can change my perspective. In God's hands all the little rocks that irritate my life are shined into jewels. As I inch my heart closer to His, He rubs me the right way.

He Walks on Water...And Cleans the Carpet

I was only in the laundry room for five minutes. Okay maybe it was ten minutes. Top. I've never taken a stopwatch in there with me but it was the span of time it takes to trade out the  wash. 

I went in to clean some clothes...

I came out to find my toddlers finger painting our stone fireplace surround with food coloring.

Hands, clothes and faces were splashed with blue and green. A sea swirled around the stone while little droplets of "ocean water" decorated the carpet. I knew the color would eventually wear off of their skin. I wasn't as confident about my stone and carpet. 

I threw the girls in the bath with one hand and dialed a carpet cleaner with the other.

"I'll come to your house and clean the carpet but the food dye won't come out."

"Sure it will. I prayed over it."

My gut response was honest but as soon as I said it doubt crept into my mind. Did God really care about something as inconsequential as my family room carpet? I couldn't even keep my kids from destroying my house so who was I to flaunt my faith in God in front of a total stranger?

I actually dreaded his arrival but no amount of alarm could prevent his appearance. He came equipped with potions, hoses and machines. I had only my faith.

I still remember the look on his face as section by section my carpet returned to its original color. God has shown up on an ordinary day and showed off for a carpet cleaner. God did the impossible. Turns out He walks on water and cleans the carpet.

Are you like me and sometimes pause before praying about the mundane in your life? Why not pause right now and trust an extraordinary God with the ordinary happenings of your day?

An Early Warning System for Burn Out

"Mam-Maw's up!" my hubby teased when I stumbled into the kitchen one morning last fall. I had fallen asleep before the sun relinquished rights to the day. Any chance I was bordering on burn out?

Burn out sneaks into your heart and home as stealthily as a shadow. It moves the front of your emotions and spirit an inch at a time. So sloth-like is its attack, you find yourself surrounded by darkness before you register the first symptom. Like a coastal town, we need an early warning system.


Early in my day I tend the fields of my own heart. I spend time talking to God. I explore His Word and allow Him to talk to me. I walk or run to prepare my body for the day's battle. I fuel my body with the most nutritious food our budget allows. I stimulate my mind with reading other sources as well.

This isn't selfish - it's making the best use of God's day. I can't give out what I don't have and I have to make the choice to possess God's best as early in my day as possible. I can't reach the finish line of my day without properly preparing for the starting line.


We each have a "tell" to indicate impending burnout. Mine is when opportunity becomes irritation. When I have so little margin I no longer want God to interrupt my day. 

I have shared with you before about the 8 life transforming one-sentence prayers that have changed my life. One of those I learned to pray over my home and schedule - Lord, direct me. When I see my tell, I return to that place of prayer, surrender my day to Him and ask for His direction.


Through prayer and with the guidance of my husband's wisdom, I make choices. I make these decisions long before they're needed. They are my ultimate protection against burnout.

My children only enroll in a limited number of activities.

I only speak a certain number of times per month.

My children have friends to play a determined amount of times.

I say yes to an exclusive number of ministry opportunities.

This system of careful choices prevents burnout before it can begin.

I once heard a women admire quip, "To be successful, you have to fly under the radar and above the fray." There is real wisdom in this but the best place to fly is in the shadow of His wing. With His radar and utilizing this Early Warning System, we'll be in life's sweet spot - far from burnout.

Living Love

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat. So people who don't know what (sic) they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino. ”

Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail

If someone asked you to define yourself in just three words, what three would you choose? What springs to your mind first – Physical attributes? Achievements? Your occupation? Two thousand years ago Jesus challenged us to be known by a single attribute – love.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:35

Love isn’t just something you feel.

It isn’t just something you are.

It goes beyond an attribute to action. Love acts.

Love is expressed in the words we say and the ones we wisely withhold. It is demonstrated in unacknowledged kindness. Love is spoken more through our hands and feet than it ever will be with our mouths. Like faith, love is dead without action.

Like me those you most love live with you. The month of love may soon draw to a close but my love doesn't have to. I've made a plan to continue to put my love into action. I’m going to gather around the table and have every family write down one word that describes every other person at the table. After we describe each other with these uplifting words, I’m going to ask each person to give me one thing I can do to make them feel more loved. Then I’m going to set my love into motion by putting some feet to my words.

Do you want love to be more than words in your life? Why not join me in this challenge and live love this March?

Dead Presidents...or a Living King

Dead Presidents. They were being thanked all over Twitter yesterday. It's amazing how grateful a student can become for a founding father when he grants her a day off of school.

I should be thanking them myself. Days with my kids are precious treasures. After a morning at the dentist, a noon lunch date with Daddy and an afternoon cooking, doing school projects and laughing I realized I "accomplished" very little yesterday. 

Sure I did a couple loads of laundry. I managed to complete a task or two on the to do list. But for the most part I just enjoyed being with my kids.

I awoke to crumby floors, dusty shelves and happy hearts.

It was along about child number three I realized how fast the parenting years vanish. I made a commitment to engage with my kids - to work puzzles, play games, watch television and just be with them. I reasoned twenty years from now my children wouldn't remember the dust bunnies in the corners but they would remember how many times we hid in them while playing hide and go seek.

Sometimes that's how I think God feels. 

He doesn't care what we accomplish or how perfect our lives appear to others. He just wants to be with us. He isn't counting our dust bunnies but He does count every precious minute we spend in His presence.

So I don't know what's on your agenda today. It may a high powered executive lunch or an NCIS marathon but somewhere amongst the noise of your life Jesus is whispering your name. Why not put down the keyboard, your cell phone or the vacuum and answer Him instead?

Yesterday the dead presidents gave me a day off with my kids. Today a living King wants to me a day on with Him.

Finding the One in Lonely

I originally wrote this for a blog for pastor's wives. Over time, though, I've realized loneliness is something we all struggle with...

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

It's crushing. My soul gasps for relationship but attempts collapse. The pain of loneliness is palatable. As pastor's wives there is usually no need to withdraw. We live, work and worship in lonely places.

We forge a deep, abiding relationship with our husbands but places of our hearts are a mystery to him.

We find satisfaction in the ordinary rhythm of caring for our home and family, but underneath the drum of solitude beats.

We delight in serving our King but find His courts an empty, solitary place.

How can we fill our God-given craving for female companionship?

Seek Relationship Beyond Your Boundaries - Don't expect your new best friend to occupy the rocker next to you during your nursery rotation. But you might find her in a community Bible study, on a non-denominational ministry board or in the school PTA. Jesus withdrew to a safe place. We'd be well-advised to find a safe place outside the brick and mortar above which our church sign hangs.

Consider Going Cross-Country - I'm not advising ultra-marathons or running away from your family to join the circus. With the world wide web, communities like A Pastor's Wife's Garden are just a click away. We can find a place to pour out our hearts and pray without even leaving our favorite chair.

Re-Kindle Old Loves - Sorry girls, your college sweetie is off limits, but your college roommate probably isn't. Consider reconnecting with a sorority sister, a girl from your hometown or pretty much any woman who knew you pre-POW. (POW = the pastor's outstanding wife!) Sometimes the one who's known you the longest can be an oasis in a relationship desert.

This week let's face our loneliness. No we didn't have to withdraw to get there but we can commit to pray for each other in our lonely place. We can take a single step out of the shadow of lonely and into the light of relationship. Most importantly, we can seek the One Who guarantees we're never alone in our lonely.

Back a Little Ways

Why do you way is hidden from the Lord; 
my cause is disregarded by my God? 
Do you not know? Have you not heard? 
The Lord is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He will not grow tired or weary, 
and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:27-28

The last month has been spent pruning, preparing and packing to put our house on the market. As extra furniture has been cleared out and closets have been cleaned, I've stumbled across some unusual items.

The mate to the sock I threw away 6 months ago...
A scary looking, seriously fossilized bug or two...
The cap to a lip gloss I no longer own...
A remote to one of our TVs...
Gloves I thought I'd lost...

Making these little discoveries, has reminded me of one of my favorite ways to read the Bible. I go find a scripture I really like and read the verses around it. I often discover something totally unexpected when I do this. 

The verses above appear just before these well-loved words in scripture:

He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak. 
Even youths grow tired and weary, 
and young men stumble and fall; 
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and now grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint. 
Isaiah 40:29-31

Soaring on wings like eagles and running without getting weary is the stuff superheroes are made of. It's no wonder I, along with many others, likes this passage. But when I back up a few verses I pause.

Maybe sometimes the reason life seems hard is because I spend more time questioning God than trusting Him. I try to walk in my own strength or figure out problems on my own. Before I can walk without growing faint, I have to run into the arms of Jesus. He is the giver of my strength.

So glad I went back a little ways...

Why not go find one of your favorite verses and read the surrounding text? Could you come back and share with us what encouragement you found back a little ways?

Paint This Town Red

Today I'm kicking off a new Friday series - The Best Worst Mom Ever. Each week I will share one of my multitude of parenting blunders and what I learned from God as I stumbled.  Enjoy!

Walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Piercing blue skies showered sun on their blond heads as they played. I watched my two littlest ones chase each other with giggles, peacefully oblivious to the chore I undertook on the other side of the glass. As they played I placed phone call after phone call to break the news. 

My husband was diagnosed with cancer.

Somewhere among the calls, I lost sight of them for just a few minutes but I wasn't overly concerned. Our home was built with a port-a-cochere. They were safely separated from the street and the world by an electronically sealed iron gate. Still I knew little kids could get in big trouble in a matter of minutes. I quickly ended my call and went in search of my sweethearts.
See how cute they were when they weren't red!

I found them in the garage. One was covered head to toe in red spray paint; the other was colored just on the tips of her tiny fingers. It didn't require a consultation with Sherlock Holmes to determine the perpetrator. 

As I scrubbed my little ones clean I just kept bursting out laughing. The whole situation was too ridiculous to elicit any other response. On a day I might have otherwise been crying my eyes out, I found myself joining in my preschoolers' giggles.
Two days later the "victim" returned to preschool still tinged pink. I must admit her odd skin color was the least of my concerns until... the preschool called wanting me to pick her up fearing she had some sort of a rash. It required a healthy dose of humility to admit that she didn't have a rash but had instead been spray painted by her sister. 

The journey ahead of me was a scary one. Each morning I had to surrender my fears and choose to trust the One who knew my future. But I knew just as God had given me the gift of laughter on that difficult news day, He would give me exactly what I needed to walk every day of our cancer journey.

When we encounter difficulty, it's typical for someone to tell us something along the lines of "Don't worry. You got this. God won't give you more than you can handle." I love Steven Furtick's take on this:

In reality, God gives you more than you can bear all the time. On purpose.It’s only when you can’t bear the load that the strength of Christ kicks in…and He becomes everything you need and more.
Just as I needed humility to admit my parenting blunder to the preschool, I need humility to admit I can't handle this thing called life without God. Whether my day holds a diagnosis or everyday girl drama, I have more than I can bear. That's why He bears my burdens instead.

What situation in your life could the presence of Christ paint a different color if viewed through the lens of relying totally on Him?

A Blessing's Birth

Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.
Isaiah 38:17

Yesterday I sat around my kitchen table with the five people I treasure most in this life. Together we dreamed about our new home currently under construction and searched for scriptures to paint onto the walls of every room. Tears rimmed my eyes as I watched a long-held dream unfold.

This isn't the first house I've built but it's the first we will bless in this fashion. 

I still remember exactly where I was sitting the first time I heard of a family writing scriptures on building materials of their home. I was in my 20s and had never owned a home. I meet biweekly with other new moms who knew they didn't have all the answers and needed the insight and counsel of someone farther down life's road. 

Our mentor mom gave us a plethora of helpful hints for building a happy home. Tips like:

1) Squirt pinesol in the toilet before your hubby comes home...that way he'll think you've been cleaning all day.
2) Fry up some onions in a pan and then artfully place your purchased meal on your dinner plates...that way your dear spouse will think he's eating a home cooked meal.

But nestled among her tongue-in-cheek humor, she gave us a picture of a Christian woman. She was the first person I've ever known who wrote scripture on her home. She was so committed to making her home a place where God was honored that she sat in the yard and prayed over her home as every board was laid. 

Much has transpired to lead my family to yesterday's table. It is through pain, heartache and hurt we have reached a point where we long so deeply for God's presence in our home. In these difficult circumstances I couldn't see the blessings God was birthing through pain. 

Maybe you're facing something insurmountable today. Or maybe it's just a big pile of little inconveniences are blocking your perspective. The day will come when you sit at the table and watch your dreams unfold. 

Surely it was for my benefit I suffered such anguish...

What blessing will your pain birth?

When the Snow Doesn't Come

I'm convinced the vast majority of Southern children learn to pray in our schools. No prayer is allowed in public schools. And no the teachers don't lead them...but I suspect they join them. Every child here prays for snow. The slightest chance of snow means school is canceled.

Today their prayers and mine were answered. By 7 this morning the superintendent was calling to announce school was dismissing four hours early. Only it didn't snow. 

Sometimes the snow doesn't come.

We have a set of expectations - of a way we anticipate life working out, or circumstances changing or our prayers being answered - and it simply doesn't happen. 

Expectations are tricky - like trying to view a single snowflake. Where I live we rarely get the puffy, fat flakes. Most of them are near indiscernible specks. If you squint and cock your head to the right you can (sometimes) see them fluttering to the ground. But if you look at the ground where thousands of them have congregated you realize it actually is snowing.

I can't always see God at work. Sometimes when I squint and cock my expectations-filled head to the right I think I see something. When I focus on Him I realize He's been at work all along making a pile of snow. It just shows up some place other than where I've been looking.

What are waiting for God to do today? Could your expectations be keeping you from seeing His work?

Learning to Live Lean

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, 
and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10

This time of year every media outlet in America is abuzz with tips, programs and pills to help you shed unwanted pounds. Advertising dollars are spent like pennies. Gyms are packed. There is no shortage of advice on how to get and live lean.

The best fat I've ever trimmed though hasn't been from my waistline. 

My greatest weight loss accomplishment wasn't fitting into a smaller pants size.

It was learning to live financially lean.

No I'm not a financial guru (although I reside with one). But I have learned (mostly by osmosis) a few tips. Here's my top five.

1. Cook From Your Pantry - I plan my meals around what I do have not what I don't. This requires me to make substitutions in recipes but it also makes cooking a greater adventure. By using what I have on hand I significantly decrease food spoilage.

2. Use Cash - Money spends quicker but much more responsibly when you limit discretionary purchases to cash. If I said I haven't rebelled against this particular tip a time or two or a hundred I'd be lying but it is also the most effective way to keep yourself (or your spouse) accountable to the budget.

3. Make Substitutions - I used to exclusively use high-end, name brand cosmetics and toiletries. I have found by switching to a generic but still high-end brand such as Costco's Kirkland, I get the same quality at significantly lower cost. 

4. Shop the Clearance Rack - I have boots that cost me $12, jeans for which I paid under $2 and necklaces I bought for $2. No I didn't "settle" with any of these purchases. I just waited. Patiently. Eventually the things I want will go on a significant sale and if they don't I figure I didn't really need them to begin with. I save thousands of dollars each year by purchasing my family's clothing needs at near garage sale prices and still have the pleasure of using never-used items.

5. Spread the Love - My daughters and I share shoes, shirts, scarves and jewelry. Any item that's "one size fits all" finds its way onto more than one body in any given year. By sharing we each expand our wardrobe at no additional expense. Even if you don't live with a whole gaggle of same sex individuals like me, you can still employ this principle with a friend or relative (such as a sister or aunt) who has similar size and taste as you. Consider arranging a regular mid-season swap where you trade some items without any need of return.

Are you ready to lose the weight of your worry by tightening your financial belt? Which one of these tips could help you the most? Do you have another idea you'd like to share? Share your ideas in a comment below...

A Sure Foundation

He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

Yesterday I trudged through mud, balanced precariously on a 2x4 and braved air colder than my outfit could defend. So much adventure just to walk into a house that looks like this:


Because it's my house... or it will be someday. Every brush of the boards is an encounter with my heart. The smell of the timber is the scent of our future. It is a thrill to imagine our family there laughing, loving, living. My soon-coming house is just a house but the people who will live there are treasure.

But you know as treacherous as the journey into that sticks and concrete was, I was totally at ease when I walked around on the foundation. It is a firm foundation. I have total confidence in it and know with certainty it will hold no matter how many trips I take around it or how long I linger.

The other day I confessed to my teens just how deeply I desire to be the best possible mom. The four little women who occupy my space model my habits, speech and attitudes. Frankly, I don't always care for the magnifying mirror of myself I see in them. In those moments I'm reminded again how much I need God every minute of every day.

I need Him to be my sure foundation. 

No matter how many trips I take to His side, He doesn't tire of hearing from me.
No matter how long as I linger in His presence, He doesn't grow weary.

Honoring Him is the key to this treasure. 

I don't know what your path to God looks like. It may be muddy. Your walk may feel uncertain. You may feel unprepared for the journey. But don't let that stop you. 

Time with Him will give you the sure foundation you need. 

Have you walked with Him today? Why not stop right now and place your life on footing that will not fail - a sure foundation.

I Can See Myself in Your Eyes

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:8

"I can see myself in your eyes." With her face inches from mine, my youngest whispered these words. She wouldn't have seen this reflection at a distance. It required proximity.

Sometimes God doesn't feel close to me. Instead He feels absent, away, adrift. In those times I remember the brush of His words in my heart and His movement in my everyday circumstances. I used to complain during those times; to blame Him for the lack of intimacy.

Now I know I need to move closer to Him to see my reflection in His eyes.

It is in moving closer I hear His heart beat. 
It is in pressing in I detect the His whisper of His love.

I need this for more than just me. My family needs me to stay near to God. Believe me. When I back away...It. Isn't. Pretty. 

I need to move closer to Him so He will be reflected in my eyes.

How close does God feel today? Do you dare to move closer to Him and see your reflection in His eyes?

The Resolute You

Your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, 
to live by his decrees and obey his commands.
1 Kings 8:61

Shannon. Shannon. SHANNON.

As I child I would get so lost in books I wouldn't even hear the sound of my own name being called. Today I still can engross myself in story, especially the kind that has twists, turns and a puzzle for me to ponder - one like National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage.

During one of my favorite scenes the hero, Ben Gates, breaks into the oval office to examine the famed Resolute desk. This presidential landmark has seated Presidents for over a hundred years. It was a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, fashioned entirely from timbers from an abandoned British vessel (The Resolute) which was salvaged in the United States by James Buddington and later returned to Britain. 

Today is a day for resolutions. Whether you title them goals, commitments or dreams many of us will chart a course today for the coming year. The word resolution has the same root as the word resolute. Both mean firm in purpose or belief or steadfast.

I think the story behind our nation's resolute desk has a lot to teach us about New Year's resolutions. That ship failed or at least its captain did. It was commanded under Edward Belcher who abandoned it only 18 months after it was commissioned. Sometimes our commitments are like that.

We begin the year eating healthy and going to the gym but start consuming chocolate for breakfast by January 15th.

We spend the early weeks of the year joining together around the family dinner table only to abandon that plan for the convenience of fast food just a few short weeks later.

But the Resolute's story didn't end with its captain's abandonment. It went on to significant purpose. Thousands of official documents, laws and decrees have been signed on its timbers. It has buoyed the arms of Presidents at war. It has captured tears silently witnessed by its polish. It has born the weight of Presidential worry and decision. 

This year as you pen your plans, I pray you remember the story of the Resolute. Weeks from now you may need to pick up your plans and rely anew on the Unchanging One who aims our hearts, plants our feet. He is our Resolute.

Many of you have inquired about the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts series I wrote in December. It will be available in its entirety (including the previously unpublished portions) as a free download later this month. I'll keep you posted!