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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

Love The One You're With

Facebook, rife with relationship drivel, once again did not disappoint. I saw the following quote today: "An upgrade isn't someone who looks better than your last. An upgrade is someone who treats, appreciates and values you more than your last." Once again, this quote is so seemingly inspirational on the surface. Finding someone who will treat you better than the last person you were with? Of course we want that. It ended for a reason, right? But so-called inspirational quotes like these just aren’t. The premise of the argument is flawed at its base. In our "swipe-left" and "swipe-right" dating culture, the illusion that the next one might be the upgrade leaves singles feeling like there is always someone out there who is a more suitable match. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble make meeting people to date pretty simple. The fact you can have someone show up on your smartphone while lounging on the couch in your underwear is pretty appealing.

What Single Moms Wish You Knew

It's hard being a parent. When you're a single parent, it's even harder. No one prepared me for this journey eight years ago. I never thought I would be a single parent, and I'll admit to the judgement I passed on single parents years ago. I recently started thinking about the things I wish I had known before this journey, and the things I wish my married friends knew about being a single parent. 1. If you're married, you're not a single mom. This may sound silly or petty, but please never refer to yourself as a "single mom" when your husband is out of town or works late. I get it. Your husband may travel a lot for work—he may be out of town for weeks at a time. Just because you are home alone with the children for a couple nights or weeks at a time, it doesn't make you a single mom. I understand how hard it is doing it alone—I've done it alone for years. But calling yourself a "single mom" when you have your husband's financi

Silence Speaks Volumes

"You're not a good person or being a good mother," read the text from my ex-husband. Hundreds more libelous statements have spewed from his mouth and fingertips in the eight years we have been divorced—to my children, to my children's teachers and principals, to my parents, to my employer, to anyone who will listen. He knows just where to cut me down to get a response from me, and this particular time, I lost. I responded to him out of hurt and anger. I know I'm a great mom, and I'm a pretty fantastic person, too. But I let his words get to me, because I wanted to prove to him that I am not the things he accuses me of. I didn't stick to the silence method I've used so many times before. In psychology, the "Gray Rock Method" is a conflict resolution/de-escalation tactic where you basically make your personality and responses as interesting as a gray rock. You reply in monotone, with usually monosyllabic responses: "Yes." "No

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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

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 fla

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