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Cultivate the Garden of Your Heart

I have a black thumb, and I have ended up killing every plant I've ever tried to own. I even accidently "watered" my cilantro plant with Dr Pepper one day. So the irony of the vision God gave me a while back was not lost on me. The garden was about 20 feet by 20 feet with a short blue picket fence around it. Chicken wire meticulously wove in and out of the pickets to prevent rabbits and other varmint from infiltrating the perimeter. Honeysuckles and ivy grew along the green wall of a small garden shed with bright white trim that sat on the northern border of the garden. Fragrant magnolias and lantanas grew along the pickets, while honeysuckles, violets, hibiscus, hydrangeas, daisies, tulips, chrysanthemums and other vibrant flowers filled out the spaces in between. Every day, I tended to my garden. A weed never had a chance to grow in my garden. When I built the garden, landscape fabric had been laid under fresh soil. I would tend the underbrush and look for weeds or ins…

When My Brother Sins

When other people sin, one of our first reactions is to point out their sin to them. After all, we care about the person, and we don't want them to sin. We want to make sure the ones we love live an upright life. But is pointing out other people's sin biblical? How many times did Jesus point out other people's sin? Let's examine Jesus' behavior and words. 
When Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in John 4, she is surprised Jesus is even talking to her. He is kind and offers her living water. He doesn't point out her sin and tell her she's a harlot. He comments on her marriage situation as a way to show that He is indeed a prophet. He shows her grace and mercy--He is being relational.
In John 8:1-11, a woman was caught in the act of adultery. How incredibly embarrassing, but Jesus didn't even tell her she was sinning. He didn't condemn her or shame her. He told her to go and sin no more. He then turned to the self-righteous ones and …

Dating Advice

A friend recently asked me to give her some sage words of advice about dating. Not sure why she asked me, considering I have no idea how to make a relationship actually work, but these are the things I put together for her. I've done a lot of reading, healing, praying and writing over the years, and these are some of the things I've learned. I've written on some of these topics before, so I've included some hyperlinks to more in-depth articles. I chose several years ago to never use the word “rejected.” The negative connotation bothered me. I am not rejected; I will never be rejected. Christ took my rejection on the cross. Someone may choose to not continue dating me (or to be married to me), but I refuse to take that word on as part of my identity.A woman’s greatest need is love—she wants to feel desired, taken care of and put first. A man’s greatest need is respect—to feel honored, listened to and allowed to lead. If both partners do this for each other willingly, as…

How to Submit Your Life to God

My first full sentence was, "Let me do it by me-self!" I've always been fiercely independent and have never enjoyed being told what to do. As I grew up, I read the scripture that told us to "Take up your cross daily and follow me," (Luke 9:23) and I knew the Bible said, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) But being the stubborn, hard-headed child I was, I had no idea how to do that, and I was fairly certain I didn't want to.
Why would I want to submit to God, anyway? Did it really even matter? When I was younger, Christianity was like a checklist to me. Don't drink: check. Don't smoke: check. Don't cuss: check. Don't have sex: check. Have quiet time every morning: umm...not so much, but I would certainly feel guilty if I didn't. As I got older and actually did submit my life to the Lord, I realized the key: It's about relationship. I submit this analogy. Let's …

Why I am a Conservative

2020 is a presidential election year, and the divide between right and left has never been bigger. With the proliferation of "Fake News," it is becoming harder and harder to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth. Being informed has never been more imperative. Both sides of the aisle accuse the other of hatred, ignorance and bigotry--the list of name-calling goes on and on. But we must know what we believe and why.

I feel it is important to teach my children the importance of citizenship, and why it is so crucial to make informed decisions to elect our public leaders. I also feel I should tell you why I am a conservative, and why I believe what I believe. My children will always be free to choose their own path and their own philosophy, but I pray they do so with an informed mind.

I am a conservative because I believe in people. I believe that at their core, people are good and kind. I believe that people are capable of making their own decisions on how to liv…

Are You Toxic?

In psychology, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a phenomenon where people over-estimate their abilities--either cognitive or physical. The effect basically says that incompetent people lack the self-awareness to know they are incompetent. It states that as you learn more about a concept, you realize more and more how little you know about the concept. This is why when I was 16, I thought I knew everything, but by the time I graduated college, I realized I knew nothing. College and being on my own opened up the entire world to me, and I realized the vast amount of information, history, culture and life that I didn't even know existed. I knew so very, very little.

Broadening this psychological effect, we can extrapolate the following to apply to emotional intelligence:
❖ Emotionally unhealthy people don't know they are emotionally unhealthy.
❖ Negative people don't know they are negative.
❖ Toxic people don't know they are toxic.
❖ Narcissists don't know they are narcis…

Jesus Would Advocate for Civil Disobedience

In March, executive orders from governors across the country forced us to stay home, to close schools and churches and to shut down private businesses. Businesses were classified as either "essential" or "non-essential." All businesses deemed "non-essential" were forced to close. This included markets, clothing stores, boutiques, dine-in restaurants, and beauty salons. State parks, city parks, beaches, walking trails, lakes, and other wide open spaces were closed as well.

Many people feel that the "social distancing," as it has come to be known, and stay at home executive orders violate their constitutional rights, such as our first amendment right to freely exercise our religion, our right to peaceably assemble, and that we shall not be deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some of the people who feel their rights have been violated have decided to exercise their First Amendment right to protest. Some have even chosen to defy…

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Jesus Would Advocate for Civil Disobedience

In March, executive orders from governors across the country forced us to stay home, to close schools and churches and to shut down private businesses. Businesses were classified as either "essential" or "non-essential." All businesses deemed "non-essential" were forced to close. This included markets, clothing stores, boutiques, dine-in restaurants, and beauty salons. State parks, city parks, beaches, walking trails, lakes, and other wide open spaces were closed as well.

Many people feel that the "social distancing," as it has come to be known, and stay at home executive orders violate their constitutional rights, such as our first amendment right to freely exercise our religion, our right to peaceably assemble, and that we shall not be deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some of the people who feel their rights have been violated have decided to exercise their First Amendment right to protest. Some have even chosen to defy…

Covert Red Flags: The Real Things You Should Be Looking Out For in Relationships

Your relationship with your spouse should be the closest human relationship you ever have. As we are dating, we are assessing whether or not that person could potentially fit into our inner circle. This causes us to be on high alert for red flags. Most red flags are obvious--lack of communication, anger issues, irresponsibility, controlling behavior, abuse, etc. A quick Google search will bring up list upon list of red flags we should look out for. Being rude to waitstaff, not making your relationship public, not caring about XYZ, stone walling, gaslighting, and more can all be found on most lists.

But what about the covert red flags? Those things that are less obvious. My first marriage taught me to look out for the overt red flags like the ones found in every advice column. My second marriage taught me to look out for covert red flags, ones that I never even realized were red flags until I could look back. The entire time we dated, I kept looking for the overt red flags, and there …

Because of Who I Am

Someone posted on Facebook the other day the following:
Why would you fight for someone who clearly doesn't want you? Please let them go. You are valuable, just not to them. I thought about it for a minute, because I indeed fought for my husband when he clearly didn't want me. I fought for our marriage, even when he had zero interest in making our marriage work. He had already checked out and told me point-blank that he just didn't want to work on our marriage, but yet I fought on my knees before the Lord.

Throughout the first few months of our separation, I prayed day-in and day-out. I beseeched the Lord to intercede. I rebuked Satan, and I prostrated myself before the Lord God Almighty. I went to therapy, and I watched sermons online. I listened to every Jimmy Evans podcast I could find. I journaled and devoured God's Word. I wrote my husband scriptures and prayers daily. I soon filled a 100-page journal front and back.

Shortly after he left in June, God told me tha…