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Effectual Prayer

James 5:16 says, "the effectual prayers of a righteous man availeth much." Sometimes, when I think about this verse, I take the word “effectual“ out of it. My mind says it as, “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.“ I’ve always thought that the emphasis in the scripture is on the word “righteous.” Righteous means, “right standing with God,“ and I am made righteous through Jesus is finished work on the cross. So I’ve always thought that this scripture meant that if I have received my righteousness from the Lord, my prayers will availeth much. But that’s not the case. There’s an adjective in front of the word prayer. That adjective is “effectual.” Effectual means, "producing a desired effect." But then the word availeth means "useful or effective; to be of value." So the scripture is saying, "the prayers that produce the desired effect of a man who is right standing with God produce the desired effect.” Well, that makes no sense. Of co

Talk is Cheap

I’ve been overweight most of my adult life. My two babies, a thyroid condition, poor eating habits and little physical activity had me packing on the pounds. As a former collegiate athlete, I’ve always wanted to get back closer to my competition weight. I’ve started and quit working out more times than I can count. I’ve tried just about every fad diet there is. I will say I want to lose weight, and I genuinely do. But then I will shove ice cream, candy and cokes in my pie hole. Countless days, I've chosen to forgo the gym because I’m just exhausted from being a single working mom. So if I’m not willing to put in the work, how much do I really want to lose weight? It takes an extraordinary amount of sacrifice and discipline to lose weight. Or to get anything you deeply desire, actually. What God showed me a while back is that talk is cheap. I can say I want to lose weight all I want, but until I put action into those words, they mean nothing. I started to think about how th

Hidden Dangers

Summertime means outdoor adventures. I had borrowed a huge RV camper from my friend Joe for this particular adventure. We parked it at a beautiful campsite near the mountains and a lake, and the girls and I spent a glorious seven days reveling in nature. Swimming, hiking, fishing, Jeeping, relaxing. The time to pack up and head home arrived, and I was getting impatient. I hadn't driven the RV before, but I knew I could drive it. I have a bus driver license, and I can drive a school bus no problem. I walked around the RV to check out any potential obstacles. A 10-foot blue concrete wall stood near where I needed to back up, but if I turned the wheel just right, I’d be in the clear. I was confident. I crank the engine up and check my mirrors. I slowly release my foot from the brake and start to back up. Something in me says I should wait for Joe to get there to back up his RV. I shake it off, because I really do know what I’m doing. I back out of the spot perfectly, and I put t

The Desires of our Heart

I've experienced a lot of heartache. I've cried myself to sleep more times than I can count. There have been so many desires in my heart that have come to ashes and rubble. I've had to walk away from abusive relationships and marriages, a boyfriend I'm still in love with, jobs, friendships, my perfect house, hopes, dreams and more. I can think of hundreds of unfulfilled desires that I sincerely prayed for that I didn't get. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I wrestle with this scripture, because I did delight myself in the Lord. And my desires still were not given to me. So what am I doing wrong?  It's the language of the scripture that trips us up. Even reading multiple commentaries on the scripture, it makes one think that if we do this (delight ourselves in the Lord), that God will do that (grant our wishes or desires). I don't think that is what the scripture is saying.  The wor

Unconditional Love

Near the end of our short-lived marriage, wasband #2 and I were laying in bed talking about life and love. Sensing distance in our relationship, I asked him if he unconditionally loved me. He replied with, "I don't believe in unconditional love." Shocked, I asked about his children, "Don't you unconditionally love your girls?!?" He said he couldn't name something, but he was sure that there was something they could do that would make him not love them. Fear gripped me as I came to realize that he and I did not have the same definition of love or marriage . I think about my own children, and there is nothing either of them could ever do or say that would make me love them any less. I think about God's love for me, and I am comforted to know that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He unconditionally loves me.  Over the last three weeks, God has been showing me that I need to learn how to unconditionally love in relationships—especially if I am

Strength

I have been called strong several times the past couple weeks. Lots of people in the past few years have called me strong. My own children told me the other day that I’m the strongest person they know, and that they could never be a strong as me. I most definitely don't feel strong, but people keep saying it. When I was younger, I wanted so badly to be strong. I want to be seen as strong. I want other people to look at me and think I was strong. So I put out this image of strength and bravado. I pretended to not let things bother me. I would have never allowed anyone to know I had any struggles or weaknesses. I tried to act like a badass. I put up walls as a shield so I could look like a fortress. Behind it was a weakness and fakery—an absolutely terrified little girl who struggled with everything about herself. The "strong independent female" was a fa├žade. Not one person ever thought of me as strong. I knew all the scripture. I could have quoted Psalm 73:26 that

Why Your Kids Shouldn't be Happy

If you search the internet for "raising happy kids," you'll find more than 140 million results including websites, books, articles, psychological studies, blogs, etc. all telling you how to raise your kids to be happy. You can spend hours reading about the latest trends, advice columns or "Top 10" lists. While much of the advice is indeed sound—less screen time, more exercise, tell them no, eat better foods, help others—the focus is askew.   "What's wrong with wanting happy kids?" you may ask. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting happy kids. But happiness should never be your focus, because it's an outcome. You cannot achieve happiness when happiness is your goal. Instead, if you adjust your focus to being holy—worshipping the Lord, prayer and reading the Bible, serving and blessing others—happiness then becomes a byproduct of those things. And not just a fleeting feeling that makes you smile, but true happiness. I have friend

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