Sunday, December 23, 2012

Are you hoping in God or for God?

 Be the change you want to see in the world.--Mahatma Ghandi

Reading the Christmas story, reminds me of secret longings kept in my heart. I imagine Mary's secret longings. And Elizabeth's. Surely they longed for their boys to be given special treatment. The chosen ones’ proper places. For God’s favor to be evident to the Jewish nation. For abundance and blessing and ease to blanket parts of their lives. They were regular women. Chosen by God. Praying like mothers and wives and daughters and friends. Like me. Like you.

I just told a group of friends that I’m not sure if I’m hoping in God anymore. Lately I find myself hoping for God to do something as evidence of His answer. Which translates to placing my hope in man, I think. Anywho, the truth is if I look anywhere but to God, at God--even if it’s for God, it’s putting my hope somewhere else.

So do I quit praying for lives I want to look like Jesus? Do I  quit asking for Him to save the lost and capture the gaze of the broken? No. Not at all. 

I pray. I seek God. I long for His face. His presence. His touch to my heart.

This way I will never be disappointed. Scripture says, “Those who hope in God will never be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)

Hoping in God requires faith, which by its very definition is believing that which is unseen. Like, Mary who stores God’s messages and evidences in her heart to ponder until her Son is crowned King of Kings. What a proud day that will be! Yes, I said will be. Read Hebrews 11:39-40 (I'll talk about this more later.) says the great men and women of faith died without seeing their blessings, God’s promises fulfilled. Because they waited. They lived. They learned.

Like Mary, I’m learning in hard situations. I’m living happy and whole in places that have never and may never change. 

I’m learning the blessing has less to do with things around me and more to do with things in me. (Tweet that)

In the Living Bible Mary thanks God for what He has done to her. Not for her. To her. "Oh how I praise the Lord...For he has done great things to me."(Luke 1:46&49)

I’ll just be honest. It’s painful and disappointing and faith-assaulting to pray the same prayer and get the same results (ie none) day after day, year after year.

I’m tired of crying. Tired of hurting. Tired of being disappointed.

I pray with hope keeping eyes fixed on His Word, His presence, His touch and all He does to me. I pray longing for God yet hoping in God. I take refuge in His presence and under His touch. 

I find peace and joy watching not what God does for me but to me. 

I can be the change I wish to see in others.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

God, do you really?

Do you have a standing request? You know, the “thing” you’e asked God for--forever. Maybe it’s the salvation of a loved one, the return of a prodigal, a baby in your belly or a  husband to hold you at night. Maybe it’s beginning to seem impossible it will ever happen. Have you prayed, believing for so long that you’re ready to stop? Stop wanting, stop praying. Stop believing. Stop hurting.

The stories of the wife who prayed for her daddy for 47 years to see him finally accept Christ at the end of his life are heartwarming, powerful and encouraging. But, for those of us who are praying like crazy a big question niggles at the back of our mind and bottom of our heart.

God, do you love me enough to _______? 

The question mark has been in my heart’s dungeon for years. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read this by Liz Curtis Higgs. It’s a question that left Sarah laughing, Balaam's donkey and Naomi bitter. This question left Zacharias mute, Paul blind and Jesus’ friend grieving.

As we meet these friends and share their tragedies, we are tempted to think like the world--things will get easier with time.

But read on and you'll see that God saw fit to give the barren children, restore the lost and replace death with life.

Maybe you read these stories complete with endings and think, what about me. Girlfriend, God hasn’t forgotten you. Even if you feel like He has. 

The Christmas story urges: Don’t stop believing because things get better with Jesus. He still answers big prayers. (Tweet this now)

God took a teenage girl and made her mother of the world’s Savior. She wasn’t yet married and it seemed much too soon to be with child. He gave her a reputation and I wonder if she lived with the honorable legacy she leaves us now. God’s Word assures us she knew Yahweh loved her and yet I wonder if she ever asked her Abba did he love her enough to silence the whispers as she walked through town to draw water with a bulging belly and no wedding ring.

God also took a woman more fit to be a grandmother than a mother and gave a baby life in her belly too. Although the baby growing in her was proof of God’s remembrance of Elizabeth, I wonder if she asked God to let her live long enough to enjoy her son’s ministry, to strengthen her feeble, aged body enough to lift her child high into the air long after he’d walk on his own.

Never too early to too late, God’d timing is always perfect and He never forgets those whose hearts are His. Into a family the world calls too soon to be practical and convenient the King of Kings was born to give hope to the hopeless and change the world. Into an aging family the world calls over the hill and too old to enjoy, God paved a pathway to Jesus and pointed the world to peace through the birth of John the Baptist.
So if you’re waiting for what feels like forever, take heart. God may be paving a pathway to change the world through your yes. Just keep waiting. Keep hoping. And remember, God loves you enough, sister. He does.

“Humanly speaking it is impossible. But with God all things are possible...The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Matthew 19:26 & James 5:16b

How long have you been asking God for the impossible?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My friend Karen Ehman is launching her new book today, Let. It. Go.

It's about how to stop being a control freak and start trusting God.

This humorous, yet spiritually practical book will help you to:

Take control of your schedule yet welcome interruptions from God
Draw the line between mothering and micromanaging
Influence your husband instead of manipulating him
Learn to control your emotions when you can’t control the circumstances
Stop pursuing the appearance of perfection and start pursuing the person of God

Karen is a funny, down to earth writer who can touch the heart of any woman. It's an easy read that will grab you from the first page. I can't wait to dig in to the final copy!

Visit her page for a chance to win a Kindle Fire by subscribing to her 5 day challenge and follow the links to win a free copy of the book!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

When life gives you dirt, just add water

He makes good things from dirt. Genesis 2:19 says, “From the dust of the earth, He made all living things.”


Makes me think of all the dirt in my life. The gritty dirt I can’t get off my tile no matter how many times I sweep and the elephant-sized dirt I nonchalantly sweep under the proverbial rug.


Reminds me of the blind man so desperate for a miracle he allowed Jesus to put mud on his eyes. Mud made from the dust of the ground and the spit of Jesus’s mouth. 


“Jesus ... smoothed the mud over the man’s eyes, and told him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.’ So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!” (John 9:6-7)

Living Water changed that dirt. 

Holy mud.

Dare I take off my shoes, walk on the tile, wipe my feet? Will I allow Living Water to touch my feet. Change my dirt.

Living Water changes dirt. 

Dare I lift the proverbial rug, exposing the elephant? Living Water changes elephant-sized dirt. 

Big dirt = Big miracle.

When life offers dirt, just add water. Living Water. 
Let God make something good out of your dirt.

If you identify with this, you can click here to tweet it.

Do you believe Living Water can change your dirt? It is my pleasure to pray courage for you to uncover the dirt every time I pray for me. Just leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When you're tired, really, really tired

It never fails. A wonderful conference, a weekend retreat, a penetrating sermon, a revelatory Bible study and then...Life happens. Explosions of daily and all its problems try to snuff out the hope gleaned in God’s presence.

Have you ever crashed and burned after being touched by God and spewed on those you love most?

Ladies’ retreats are my favorite place to be in the world. I love filling up on girl talk, dark chocolate, Diet Coke and flavored coffee. I love crying happy tears, sad tears, hopeful tears, excited tears. Retreats are the perfect place to relieve stress and express emotion. I love late nights with the girls and early mornings with Jesus. 

I come home talked out and filled up. Sleep-deprived and Jesus-full. Seems like sleep-deprived lasts days longer than Jesus-full.

I’m no longer the encourager wife, I’m the worn-out mom. My thoughts go from, “Thank you, Lord,” to “I’m so tired.” 

This week I’d like for you to join me in a strategy to renew our strength.

Whether you’re coming off a Jesus-full weekend or just a sleep-deprived schedule, here are some promises to lean on until weariness gives way to true rest:

  • The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:4
  • Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10
  • A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. Proverbs 17:22
  • In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15
  • He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. Isaiah 40:29
  • I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25
  • Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
  • Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Matthew 11:28
  • So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Galatians 6:9
  • Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

Pick an “energy” promise to own. Write it down on an index card and carry it with you. Over the next few days, pull it out and read it when your thought becomes, “I’m so tired.” Then connect with me and let me know how God renews your strength.

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Click here to tweet this challenge and invite your friends to trade tired and worn-down for revved-up and ready with Jesus!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

How fall begs us to share our faith

Have you ever experienced fall? I'm from Texas. I experience hot. And cold. One day the trees are green. The next the temperature drops 40 degrees and the trees are bare. The colors of autumn painted across the hills and valley where I had the privilege of staying this weekend are a breathtaking reminder of God's creativity and beauty. As rain danced across colorful leaves, ladies gathered taking time from a hectic life to seek their Creator.

I just returned from Missouri where I had the privilege and honor to minister to a fun group of ladies from Forward Community Church. My friend Angie belongs to this community. 

One thing about my friend Angie is her willingness to take me to Jesus, no matter what the cost. She reminds me of some friends in Luke 5 which we met this weekend.

In Luke 5:17 Jesus is teaching to a large crowd from many towns "And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick."

Some men came carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat. When they couldn't get through the crowd they climbed to the roof, made a hole and lowered the man down "right in front of Jesus." (v. 19)

Jesus saw their faith, forgave his sins and healed him. (v. 20)

Think about it. The faith of friends moved Jesus to heal their paralyzed friend. Their sick friend was completely dependent on his friends to take him to Jesus. He couldn't move on his own. And the text implies this sick man wasn't only dependent on his friends' movement, he was also dependent on their faith.

We had the privilege of being where the power of the Lord was to heal the sick this weekend. We saw Jesus forgive and heal our sisters as we prayed for them. We saw the beauty of the Creator painted across the scenery. In this serene place there was no doubt of His power. Of His love. Of His work. 

As we left the peace and pretty of the valley, we left with new faith. Bigger faith. Deeper faith.

Your community is full of other ladies. Ladies I didn't get the privilege of meeting. Ladies too paralyzed to come this weekend. Ladies paralyzed by busyness. Ladies paralyzed by need. Paralyzed by duty. Paralyzed by fear. Paralyzed by rejection.

They may have missed the rainbow foliage across the rain sparkling valley but it's not too late for them to see the most miraculous scene of all. Ladies changed by the presence of Jesus and his healing power.

God wants you to grab these sisters. Call them. Email them. Love on them. Take them to lunch. Take them to where Jesus and His healing power is. Even if you have to make a hole in your schedule to get them there. Don't leave your beloved girlfriends behind. Take them to Jesus. Invite them into your community.

Let them experience the beauty of your weekend too. 

This weekend we identified with the dependent paralytic. Now, as you pick up your mat and follow your Jesus, put yourself in the shoes of his diligent friends. Make a persevering, painstaking effort to take your paralyzed girlfriends to the place where the power of Jesus is present to heal the sick. 

Keep the scenery beautiful. Keep praying for each other. Keep adding to your community. Keep taking your girlfriends to Jesus.

How will you take someone else to Jesus today? 

How can I pray for you as you share your faith?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When your soul is in need of repair

The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it! 1 Thessalonians 5:24

I answered a call to full-time vocational ministry. A little over twenty years ago.
As an insecure college student, I had no idea what that would look like. I just knew I heard God’s call. I went before a board of elders, a licensing committee and a congregation and promised to spend my adult years sharing the message He was placing in my heart.
Then the voices of this world crept in and crowded out the gentle whisper and soft nudging. 
"You need to use the college degree we sacrificed to pay for."
"Church is for Sundays."
"Why would anyone want to hear what you have to say?"
"How will you support yourself?"
"God wants you to work hard at a real job."
"You've always wanted to be a teacher when you grow up." 

The voices said.
I justified my many careers with excuses. Teaching is ministering to kids. Volunteering is ministry. Working for a newspaper uses my gifts. Selling real estate is being a helper to my husband. I’ll speak at a few retreats a year.
However you slice it, teaching teens Shakespeare is much different than teaching them Scripture. An hour a week volunteering does not fill a void left by denied passion. Writing news stories and press releases is much different than sharing my story. I can help my husband a jillion other ways. 
Seeing God move as I speak is when I feel most alive. Whether I’m sharing the gospel with one of my children, encouraging a girlfriend to check out a particular verse or teaching a weekend retreat, I love God’s Word and I love talking about it. 
When I did not have the “perfect” job, I hid my ministry license in a box in the attic for twenty years. When people learned I was licensed minister, I felt like a fraud. Shame and failure anchored me to depression. Fear kept me imprisoned. Compromise choked my soul.
But God
In all His goodness and mercy rescued, redeemed and repaired my calling.
Through a series of God-orchestrated instants and opportunities, I am now Family Life Director at Walden Community Church. I have the extreme pleasure and privilege of helping a family of the most wonderful people grow a children’s ministry, serve moms by loving their kids and shining a light into my beloved community.
Where is your soul in need repair? I’ll be praying for each comment as I work my new job today.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What is called for when the house, the mama and the kids fall apart

"Dear Friend,
You are so upset over all these details.

There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Discover it and I won't take it away from you!"

I love you", Jesus.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Lessons from the Olympics

photo credit
An Olympic junkie emerged the night Mary Lou Retton scored a perfect ten on the vault and brought home the gold in 1984. 

I love the Olympics. I leave on the TV all day long and cheer for beach volleyball, rowing, white water rafting and synchronized swimming. I stay up all night watching the Fab Five go for more gold on my DVR. I cry at every competitor's story and during commercials, especially the ones that talk about hard work, sacrifice and mothers.

Like most of America, I am obsessed with Michael Phelps’ quest becoming the most decorated Olympian in history. I cheered (and cried) when he was crowned with his career finishing 22nd medal and 18th gold.

An intriguing strategy
An interview with his coach, Bob Bowman, revealed some strategy for coaching the champion. Bowman says that by far, it isn’t Phelps’ swimming that’s his best asset. It’s his mental toughness. Bowman said that this past year he worked on developing that even more by focusing on helping Phelps overcome adversity.

Before every meet for an entire year, the coach watched for opportunities and arranged for some unexpected inconvenience. When Phelps forgot to get his goggles out of his bag, his coach pocketed them instead of giving them to him. When Phelps left his goggles laying on the ground, his coach stepped on them so they would fill up with water during his race. The night before one big meet, Bowman arranged for their car to show up an hour late so they’d miss dinner.

Frustration or confusion?
I wondered if Michael Phelps ever felt betrayed when it seemed the very one cheering for him, the one credited for shaping his talent, was trying to sabotage his success.

Or did Phelps understand that these trials in lesser meets would ultimately prepare him to withstand the pressures and unexpected surprises that would surely greet him in London?

An artist, not an athlete, identifies
Totally intrigued by this philosophy, my mind started twirling and God began to speak. 

The Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems [even when we don’t understand them]...And we know all things work together for good for those that love God. (Romans 8:26 & 28)

The mutual admiration and respect coach and swimmer have for each other is obvious. Twenty-two medals, 18 of them gold, are evidence that ultimately Phelps trusted in his coach’s plan to fulfill his destiny.

The question is, do I trust my Coach even when He allows or arranges adversity on the path to my destiny? Do you? Tweet this now

Romans 8:22 says, “If we keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.” defines wait as a verb, the act of continuing in expectation.

So today when I run out of gas, run late, burn dinner or find my six-year-old in his birthday suit lathered in soap shaving his entire body (yes, it really happened), I will trust that my Coach knows what He’s doing allowing these silly trials in my life. Because whether it’s cancer or heartbreak there is surely coming a battle for the gold.

Just click on the comment button to share your current trial, whether it’s routine or Olympic-sized. I’d love to pray for you!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Unprotected Places

It’s barely August but football season is well underway here in Texas. My boys just finished the first week of practice in full pads.
Hunter is learning that big boys hit harder than little boys and wearing shoulder pads and a helmet makes everything just a bit more awkward. Catching is suddenly harder because the helmet blocks his vision. Throwing harder because his shoulder doesn’t have its full range of motion under bulky pads. Running is slower because pads and cleats are heavy. And tackling and blocking, well they’re just downright painful.
He spoke wise words to me after his first padded practice. He said, “Mom, every time I get hit it hurts. These pads don’t cover my gut and that’s right where the guy’s helmet goes every time. I mean, it doesn’t hurt very long. It goes away fast but it sure makes it hard to get back up.”
Isn’t that how the enemy usually gets us? He hits us right in the gut. Our unprotected places. We blow up over wet towels on the bathroom floor. We complain about yesterday’s dirty dishes in the sink or the stale bag of chips left open on the table. We get busy and forget to fill up the car with gas. We lose our car keys and forget to pay the water bill.
Little things. Things that knock the wind out of us as they slam into our guts. Things that don’t keep us down long. Little failures that point out our weakness. Tiny sins that keep us separated from God in our prideful humanness. Oh, we don’t stay down too long but we are certainly hesitant to get back up. Those little annoyances hurt making it difficult to get back on the line ready for the next hit.
Ephesians 6:13 says:
That is why you need to put on God's full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.
We aren’t promised an easy battle or a fight without being knocked to the ground. If we fight fully armed learning to use the weapons God has given us, we are promised to be left standing when the fight is over. 
The punches hurt but we can get used to them, prepare ourselves for them, learn to block them. Hunter’s coach has told him all these things. His favorite coaching line when helping boys up from the pile and slapping them on the helmet is this, “You’re still alive; get back up!” 
As the boys get used to the punches and survive the hits, they learn to love the game. They look forward to football because when they’ve become comfortable instead of awkward in their pads, they are left standing at the end of the game. Standing dirty and beat up but so, so proud.
I don’t know what your unprotected places look like. Mounds of laundry and a sick toddler? A sharp word with your husband before he headed out the door early this morning? The constant bickering the end of summer brings to your kids? The list of red numbers in your checkbook as you buy the never ending list of back to school items? Terrible morning sickness for the last eight months?
Wherever you're at in this battle, girlfriend, would you join me in taking a lesson from football today? 

Being knocked to the ground stinks but it won't kill you. Get back up; when the fight is over you will still be standing. Tweet this now

And if you leave me a comment explaining your own unprotected place, I promise to pray for you today.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Freedom's Price

Photo Credit
Freedom. It’s a loaded word. Because it comes with a price. Always.
Our country’s freedom comes at the cost of lives of brave men and women. Many far from home defending the right to huge celebrations today.
Mankind’s freedom comes at the cost of the One who is Life. 
I have often been in battle with my own freedom. A paralyzing fear in my life is disappointment. Not me being disappointed. But me being a disappointment. Sometimes my choices disappoint people I love.
Sometimes my choices disappoint the One who is Love.
Behold my breaking heart. And that’s exactly what He does. Holds my heart.
And He holds my hand helping me to choose.
Sometimes best choices. Sometimes less than choices. Like a child learning to walk. Sometimes several steps. Sometimes skinned knees. Eventually around the block. And even a whole game of Red Rover.
As the Author of my life walks out choices already penned in His book, today I rest in the beauty that is freedom.
Because the choice to please, the choice to love, the choice to live is a beautiful thing. Without freedom there would be no love, no life. 
Thank you Jesus for love, for life. For freedom.
After all,
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Galations 5:1
In what ways are you learning to appreciate your freedom?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Lost Car Keys Revolutionized My Prayer Life

Photo credit
“WHERE ARE MY KEYS? Dumb keys, you always make me late, late, late!” I shout as the alarm ticks. Eighty seconds to dump my purse on the bed and toss papers around on the kitchen counter, reset the alarm and dig some more repeating this process until I find my keys. Franticly I grab the keys from the top of the washing machine and yell at the kids to get their seatbelts buckled. N.O.W. or we’ll be late.
As the car backs out of the driveway, I turn up the radio to drown out sibling bickering and talk to myself in my head. “You lose everything. You made it a point to be prepared to leave on time. I can’t believe you lost the keys again. You are a total mess!”
I smirk as I recall the morning’s Bible reading:
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (1 Thes. 5:16-18)
I mean, pray all.the.time? Before I say “Amen,” I am already reciting the day in my head.  Pray continually? Because I wonder how this is possible, I keep asking God. I meditate on that simple verse that seems anything but easy. God nudges me to pay close attention to my voice. Especially the one in my head.
In my quest, I soon discover this morsel:
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Fit every loose thought and emotion and impluse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Another version says, “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
Does that mean I should be thankful and thank God all.the.time? Even for losing my car keys? Sort of.
I decide instead of acting like a crazy lady when I lose my car keys, I will pray.
Lord, You are the Finder of lost souls. Thank you for finding lost people and even lost things. I know you can lead me to my keys. Please keep me calm, level-headed and thinking clearly about where I could have placed them last. Thank you for building obedience and maturity in me through my crazy. Amen
Eventually, I find my keys. 
I pay attention to my thoughts. When my mind betrays me and starts thinking about how someone hurt me, I pray for the person. When I find myself trying to solve a frustrating situation, I stop and ask God for wisdom. When I start stressing over an empty freezer at dinner time, I ask God for a creative solution. When my day’s to do list seems overwhelming, I ask God to prioritize it.
I’m not saying I have this mastered. I’m saying I’m a work in progress. If you want to grow towards praying all the time too, pay attention to your thoughts. Then simply, turn them toward Jesus. 
And hang a hook for your keys by the door.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Whispered Ways

Legacy. It’s one of the reasons I dare to tell my story. Here. On screen. There. On page. Anywhere. In person.
God calls us, as believers, to share our story. Each one’s story is really a beautiful reenactment. A dramatic retelling of His story. In us.
For almost an entire year, my silence screamed. The story ironically told by silence: I don’t want to share this story because I don’t like it.
Have you ever felt that way? Ashamed. Unsure the hope promised can deliver. Sad. In an unwanted place. A sticking point. 
The beauty is that once whispered, hope appears.
My hope appeared in the form of my girl. She’s ten. Working on two books. Two.
Two she’s sure will be published. With New York Times bestseller across the front. Because she’s funny. Hilarious actually. Confident. Full of grace and purpose and the supernatural ability to laugh at herself, at me, at us. She says her writing is easy when living in a family like ours. Nobody can believe it’s not made up. So she writes it as fiction.
In hopes to make it easier for her to tell, I write. Coming back online with a whisper. In the hard parts. In the easy parts. In the unfinished parts. I'm willing my whisper to get louder.

A mother’s desire is to leave a legacy. To pave the way for future generations. Whispering just might make a way. For her. For them. For me. Most importantly for Him. To work. In us. 

And so I whisper.

So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come will know the truth and tell stories so their children can trust in God, Psalm 78:6

What are you doing to create a legacy for your children? To lead them to their dreams by example?