How to Conquer Your Fear

These last few months have been filled with many temptations to live in fear.

IMG_2736Our 9 year old daughter’s Love Project for Operation Christmas Child gained national attention a couple of months ago and it’s been quite the ride ever since. Jordyn set out to personally fill 1,000 shoebox gifts, while creating a Youth Challenge to have kids across our nation fill as many shoebox gifts as they could. Her goal was to gain 10-20 churches/organizations to support this challenge, and to have 5,000 shoebox gifts made. She exceeded both her goals, by collecting enough items to personally pack (with the help of local family and friends) 1,320 shoebox gifts, and ended her Youth Challenge with 5,161 shoebox gifts filled.

It’s been overwhelming to put our “baby girl” out there to the world. I remember sobbing before God when we were trying to decide whether or not to allow the interviews to begin to take place. I wasn’t ready. I was scared. I really liked laying underneath the radar. But, really… the root of all of my anxiousness was fear.

I had no doubt God was asking me to release this fear, so that I would say yes to this adventure. But, it seemed the more scared I got, the tighter I held. It was gripping, even suffocating at times. Finally, I was reminded of a Bible verse that has more meaning to me than I have space to explain here:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

In Chapter 1 of Joshua, we see that the LORD was commanding Joshua to cross the Jordan River with the Israelites. His mission was to lead the people to the land God had promised to Moses. However, it was flood season and the waters were high and raging. But, God spoke these same words to Joshua years ago and Joshua listened. Be strong… be courageous…

Here are three ways God used Joshua to help me overcome my own fear.

  1. Joshua chose to keep his loyalty and faith in God. He had to have known that leading the Israelites across the Jordan was a crazy-only-God-could-do kind of assignment. And, yet he chose to believe that His God was big enough to do this.
  2. Joshua chose his attitude and responded to what God was asking him to do. There’s no doubt in my mind Joshua was filled with anxiety and fear. Yet, he still took that step and chose to trust God. (And, spoiler alert, when Joshua took that step, God blessed his faithfulness.)
  3. Joshua chose to release his fears, so he could be courageous. You can’t be courageous and fearful at the same time.

This led me to understand that in order to conquer my own fears, I needed to follow Joshua’s example. I needed to make the choice to keep my faith in God, to choose to change my attitude so I could respond to what God was asking me to do, and to choose to release my own fears so that I could be courageous.

Since choosing to be courageous, Jordyn (and I) have had so many incredible opportunities and experiences that would not have come up if we had said no! If our daughter has taught us anything with her Love Projects, it is that “God is a really BIG God and there isn’t anything we can’t do if we trust in Him.” Today, I choose to put my faith in that kind of wisdom!

30 Day Wife Challenge

bridal-636018_1280While researching topics of marriage for our new book, I ran into this blog post, 30 Days to A Better Wife. While we have already implemented some of the writer’s suggestions, the post got me thinking.

What if, for the month of September, I led a 30 Day Wife Challenge?

Our marriages should be one of the most important relationships in our lives. However, we often spend very little time nurturing and investing in this relationship. I understand how it happens. Life gets busy!

Many of us work non-stop, whether we work outside the home or inside the home. If you are a mama, you are on call 24/7. Baby’s need diaper changes, children skip nap times, dinners don’t cook themselves, children need to be fed… non-stop… all day long… errands need to be run, households need to be managed, and toilets need to be scrubbed (sometimes daily when you have a young son learning how to use the toilet properly) – can I get an AMEN??

By the time it is bedtime, we are D.O.N.E., sometimes just barely holding on, unable to give

Unfortunately, in these exhaustion-filled days, we have the tendency to unintentionally put off investing in our marriages. We assume the next day, the next week, the next year, we will have more time. Date night? Hmm… how about next week? And when next week rolls around, date night has been overtaken by something else… something that must have been important, but you can’t even remember what that something was anymore.

Friends, time is the one commodity we can never gain more of! So, if we want a love&respect-filled marriage, we must make our marriage a priority. So, why not in the chaos of today – we start now!!

Whether your marriage is struggling or thriving, this challenge is for YOU! If you believe that one intentional act of love, each day for 30 days can change or improve your marriage, come join me HERE! Each day for the month of September, I will be sharing one tangible act of love to remind our husbands how much we appreciate and love him!

Click here to join our 30 Day Wife Challenge!

Because She Lived

Eight years ago joy and heartbreak collided quicker than my husband and I could process.

Kylie 6.11.2007 039Our Kylie Joy was born and lived for 80 minutes. There is a raw pain of holding your child in your arms, knowing there is nothing you could do to save her life. Through sobs, I told her it was okay to go to Jesus. As if she somehow understood my words, she turned her head slightly towards my voice, took her last breath, and died.

She never had to see the brokenness of this world. In fact, I’ve often wondered if the very first time she opened her eyes, she got to gaze upon her Savior. What an amazing first sight.

People often ask if it gets easier.

Does the death of a child always hurt and sting? Will you ever be the same again?

Time helps.

I am better today than I was 8, 7, 6, even 5 years ago. Do the memories still relapse and sting? Of course! And when that happens, I take one day at a time; sometimes one hour, or one moment at a time.

Like a vase that has been broken and pieced back together, those of us who have experienced child loss will always carry the scars of our child’s death. One cannot know this heartbreak and remain the same. But, that doesn’t mean that the LIFE of their child can’t still be beautiful and filled with purpose.

In order to die, one first has to LIVE.

Because Kylie LIVED, I am more compassionate. I am a better friend. I can walk beside someone else in the midst of this suffocating grief. I understand how short life is, and do my best to cherish what I have. I steal hugs and kisses, and cling to my husband. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I try to keep short accounts. I forgive easier, and let go of hurt quicker.

Because she LIVED, I know there will come a day when I too will take my last breath on this Earth. And, when I open my eyes, I have no doubt I will see my little girl – running as fast as her little legs can carry her into my arms once again. I’ll tell you – all those reunion videos will have nothing on this moment!

But, until then, I have a purpose – to love God and to love others. To allow my life, broken pieces and all, to help bridge the gap between this broken world and God’s love.

Happy Birthday Kylie! We love you so much!!

20 Ideas to Help Children Have Happy Dreams

laugh-417268_1280Every night as we tuck our children into bed, we give them a happy thought.

This started when our children began to have bad dreams and became afraid to go to sleep. Our assurances and the night lights didn’t seem to help, so we started to give them something happy to think about to send them off into dreamland. While we’ve been doing this for at least 6 months, and they’ve worked so well for us, that we thought we’d share them with you too ! (These are also really great conversation starters for dinner time!)

  1. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you do together?
  2. If you could make your own movie, what would it be about, and who would be in it?
  3. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
  4. If you were to build a boat, how would you make it, and where would you take it?
  5. If you created your own park, what would it look like?
  6. If you were asked to be on TV, what show would you want to be on, and what role would you play?
  7. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
  8. If you could plan our next vacation, where would we go and what would we do?
  9. If you created your own candy village, what would it look like?
  10. If you were in charge of school, what would you do all day?
  11. If you could have been in The Lego Movie, what character would you play?
  12. If you could be any animal in the ocean, what would it be?
  13. If you were a cartoon character, what would you look like?
  14. If you could create a brand new animal, what would it look like, where would it live, and what would be special about it?
  15. If you could do anything tomorrow, what would it be?
  16. If you were to build your own house, what special parts would you put in it?
  17. If you could give any gift in the world to one person, what would you give, and who would you give it to?
  18. If you were to create a robot, what would the robot look like, and what would the robot do for you?
  19. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  20. If you could fly to the moon, how would you get there if you couldn’t take a rocket ship?

One thing I LOVE about these happy thoughts is that every morning at breakfast, I try to remind the kids about what they started dreaming about before they went to bed. We have some of the best and some of the oddest conversations about their ideas. But, we learn a little bit more about how their brains work, what is important to them, and how we can better love them. These conversations are priceless!

Q. Comment below! What other conversation starter ideas do you have?

What the Bible Says: Sneak Peek and Final Giveaway

9781449734237_cover.inddChapter One: Should Christians Use Essential Oils?

I used to be in the camp where I thought essential oils were weird. I only knew a few people who used oils, and each person had a more holistic and natural approach to health care than I did. Honestly, I didn’t understand why people would rub oil on their bodies, use herbs to treat illness, or eat dirt as probiotics, instead of popping a pill or turning to modern medicine. With my medical history of cancer and child loss, I’d built up a lifetime of trusting in modern medicine for every ache and pain, and on more than one occasion, my very life.

To further the discomfort I felt for essential oils, I found that my brain automatically translated the word “aromatherapy” to “New Age” and “crystals”.  My ignorance made me uncomfortable because I listened to the loudest voice: the one that talked about finding your “chi”, or your “energy”, or your “life force” — none of which I knew were lost, or why I should be looking for them in the first place! So, I disregarded the voices of well-intentioned people who were trying to offer help in ways I was seeking, but who didn’t provide the answers I thought I was looking for.

Then everything changed!

We were at Disney World and our three-year-old son was having the mother of all meltdowns before we even got into the park. Now, I get Disney World is overwhelming and can be very over-stimulating. But friends, we were standing in the entrance line just trying to get into the park when he began to scream hysterically over ants — ants that were five feet away from him! I don’t even know how he saw them.

Had we not been meeting friends in the park, I would have turned around and gone home. It was that bad. Ten minutes later when we reached our friends I was DONE!

Seeing what was happening, my friend Traci asked if she could try something on him. In total and complete exasperation, I said, “Girl, I don’t care what you give him. If you can make this stop, make it stop!”

Traci placed an essential oil blend meant to bring focus and calming on the back of our son’s neck. Within minutes our sweet boy was totally chill, calm, and collected, bending down playing with the ants on the ground.

Did you catch that? He was playing with the ants!

Had I not seen this meltdown recovery unfold with my own eyes, or other witnesses to remind me I was not dreaming, I would not have believed it. And, this wasn’t just a momentary blip in his freak-out session; our son stayed relaxed and calm throughout the rest of the day and all through the night. At that point I was hooked. I told Traci I would need “that stuff” by the gallons.

In that moment I decided to pull back the curtain of essential oils and take a deeper look. What I found rocked my world as I began to uncover hundreds of references to plants, spices, and oils used in the BIBLE. While Id read the Bible cover to cover more than once, somehow Id totally missed this!

As a recovering Essential Oil Critic, I have come a long way from my original understanding of what essential oils are, what they are not, and how they should be used. If you are anything like me, perhaps you have also struggled with wondering if using essential oils are compatible with a faith in God. I know the debate is out there, so let me share with you three reasons why Christians can in good, clear conscious use essential oils.

1. The problem is NOT with using essential oils, but in having an unclear understanding of where oils come from.

Modern-day essential oils (and even the infused oils of the Bible which we will uncover soon) all come from the vegetation God created.

Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:11-12

In His infinite wisdom, God created plants and trees to be our source of food and to sustain our life.

Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:29-31

One could even argue that a plant-based diet might be everything our human bodies need for optimum health and wellness; for a plant-based diet is exactly what God gave Adam and Even. It wasn’t until ten generations later (roughly 1100 years) in the time of Noah (after the flood), that God gives animals to become another source of food for us.

Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.Genesis 9:3

2. The problem is NOT with using oils, but in how the use of oils has been distorted.

Since the beginning of time, most of what God has created has found a way to become distorted. Look at sex, marriage, food, relationships; even angels found a way to become corrupt. The problem is not with the essential oils themselves, but the way humans have once again distorted something God called “good”.

Because many people in the New Age movement encourage people to use essential oils in an ungodly way, it is easy to perceive essential oils as “bad”. And yet, essential oils are the very immune system of plants, protecting the plant from disease and bringing healing when needed. Think about how the very creativity and wisdom of God allows for plants and humans to have a similar structure — creating a unique relationship where plants have the ability to help our human bodies heal themselves.

3. The problem is NOT with using oils, but in how the oils have become branded.

Most of my initial exposures to essential oils were hearing of them being used for “spiritual awakenings” and in ways that are meant for God alone to spiritually uncover. I would hear of people using oils to “guard against negative energy”, to “enhance spirituality”, or to try and bring about visions and dreams. Therefore, I branded essential oils as being “scary” and “bad”, because of the appearance that they were being used as a form of spiritual manipulation.

However, like many things in life, I don’t believe this was God’s original intention!

If we want to re-brand what has become corrupted in the eyes of many people, we must first educate ourselves with a clear, biblical understanding of where oils come from, how they were used in biblical times, and how we can use them appropriately today. We must also be gentle in the way we respond to the concerns of others, and careful in how we market these products. Essential oils are not meant to replace God; they are not “miracle drugs”, nor are they the answer to every medical problem we face.

While essential oils can aid our bodies, God created our bodies to be MIRACULOUS!

Imagine what would happen if our skin never healed itself. We’d walk around with open cuts and wounds oozing blood everywhere we went. (That’s a pretty gross picture, isn’t it?) Now think about how our bodies constantly create blood, produce different tears based on why we are crying, fight bacteria and viruses, and constantly pump blood through our veins. This happens every second of every day.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, sometimes we still get sick! In those times, I am so incredibly grateful that essential oils are a God-given, natural way to help our bodies heal. And, as I keep my eyes on the Maker and Creator of not just these plants, but more importantly, my very soul, I find confidence and peace in His wisdom and design ingiving us this incredible resource. I’ve learned that I am able to honor Him when I choose alternative therapy for my family because essential oils are simply another way He has chosen to provide for us.

If this Chapter peaked your interest, check out the book on Amazon!

What the Bible Says sets a biblical foundation for the use of modern day essential oils by studying Hebraic and Greek words and Bible verses used in the Old and New Testaments. You will learn where oils came from, how they were made, and how they were used in biblical times. As we dig deep into Scripture, we will also uncover an incredible story of God’s love and redemption.

The second half of this book reveals 12 different oils and spices found in the Bible. You will learn their histories and significance, their Hebrew and Greek roots, along with the verses of where they are mentioned in the Bible. We will also discover modern day oils, similar to these biblical oils that can be used today to help our bodies heal. You can purchase the book HERE!