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Imagine,  you and I can bring glory to the God of this universe…and benefit from it, too. And if we don’t, God will get His glory anyway. But He’d much rather have us involved.

My friend, Kathy Collard Miller, has written a beautiful book on the blessings of living out God’s glory. Read her guest blog here and leave a comment at the end and you will be entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of her new book, Pure Hearted.

Glean from Kathy’s words…..

“I was watching my nine-year-old grandson, Raf, create his own version of a computer game and amazed at a third grader’s computer skill (which I didn’t have). I exclaimed, “Raf, you are amazing!”

Raf immediately replied, “No. Only God is amazing.”

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If you’re like me, you constantly wonder what more you should be doing for your children. Am I giving them enough of my time? Am I offering enough encouragement in their lives? Am I being a good enough role model?

We all feel like we blow it at times, when it comes to parenting. And there’s always guilt if we’re looking for it –about what we could have done or should now be doing differently. Now that my daughter is an adult, I’ve found the most effective and rewarding things I gave her stemmed from the things I asked God to do in me through prayer.

You and I, as moms, can only do so much for our children. But God can work in their hearts and minds to shape them into the people He wants them to be. And God gives you and me the privilege, as parents, to be a part of that process when we surrender our will to Him and allow Him to mold and shape our character in a way that is best for not only us, but our children, too.

Here are five simple prayers that will make you a better mom:

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What do you do to instill confidence in your life? Read a good book? Take a course in self-confidence? Brush up on your resume-skills?

God’s Word can instill confidence in our lives more than anything else if we really believe it. The Bible says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). I believe a part of being “fully equipped for every good work” is having a confidence in God that will enable us to live differently than the rest of the world.

In the New Testament book of Romans alone there is an arsenal of confidence-building verses for the follower of Christ.  Here are just five truths (all from Chapter 8) that will boost your confidence if you really believe them:

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Have you experienced circumstances lately that threaten to darken your outlook on life? Are you struggling with a health problem? A tight or dreary financial situation? A broken relationship? The loss of a loved one?

It might be easy right now for you to resent your circumstances, question God, or even look for someone to blame.

If you do that, though, you might be speaking or acting too soon.

A woman we read about in the Bible did that. Her name was Naomi. Although her name means “Pleasant” she soon found her circumstances were not, and neither was she.  After moving to a foreign land, losing her husband, and then losing both of her grown, married sons, she changed her name from “Pleasant” to “Bitter.”

“Call me Mara (which means “Bitter”),” she told everyone she met.By changing her name she was, in essence, saying “I’m not pleasant to be around anymore. I’m bitter.

She let her circumstances define WHO she was. So sad.

But Naomi spoke too soon.  She reacted emotionally to the circumstances right in front of her, instead of responding maturely to the God who had her life in His capable hands.

Naomi gave in to the drama. But God was about to change the scene.

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Are you constantly comparing yourself to others?

Why do we DO that?

If you’re like me, you don’t intentionally play the comparison game.  It just happens. Before you know it, you’ve sized yourself up, measured someone else by your own standards, or concluded – after observation and the collection of a few facts – that you’re inferior or superior to someone else.

Comparison is an ugly game. Jesus warned us not to get caught up in it, especially when it came to how we “look” religiously.

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If you’re like most people, you have lots of  WHY questions for God.

I have had them, too.

  • Why am I going through this situation?
  • Why did You let that happen?
  • Why didn’t You allow me to experience that blessing?

Although it is human nature to question and try to find the reasoning behind God’s ways, I truly believe most of our “why” questions result from ignorance about Who God is or a lack of faith in what He is doing.

After more than 30 years of discipling women, as well as seeing God work in my own life, I’ve come up with what I call “God’s Top 10 Answers to Our Why Questions.” They are not in any particular order. But they are all based on Scripture and what it tells us of God’s character. If He were to speak audibly perhaps His answers to your questions would be:

  1. Trust Me. I have My reasons. We don’t really like this answer, because we want God to explain Himself. We want to see the reasons and exercise our option to agree or disagree with God. Yet God points out in Isaiah 55:8-9:    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts“ (ESV).  I can’t help but feel that this is God’s way of saying “Because I said so.” But like a loving parent, who may have said that to you when you were a child, He knows what He’s doing and Scripture says His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30) and therefore He never makes mistakes.

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Are you tired of pursuing something only to find it always eludes you?

It might be your approach.

For instance, are you tired of difficult circumstances and you just want joy? Don’t pursue joy — pursue the Author of Joy.

Are you lonely and just long for loving arms around you? Don’t pursue love. Pursue the Author of Love.

Are you tired of dissension, conflict, a “hectic” life and just want peace? Don’t pursue peace. Pursue the Prince of Peace.

Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. ” I believe this means make Him your sole desire and He will plant in you His desires and delight in granting them. I know from experience — and from watching it in the lives of many other women, too — that when we desire Christ first and foremost, we end up with everything else we wanted, too.

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What fear seems overwhelming to you right now?

A situation that your child is in? Something God is calling you to do? A diagnosis that you’re unprepared for? An uncertain future?

My friend Dawn Wilson says, “I’m naturally timid, but a Walt Disney Film about a young princess taught me an important lesson about courage.”

Dawn shares her heart in my guest blog today and offers five keys to fighting your fears and upgrading your courage:

In the release of Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries, young Princess Mia Thermopolis drew strength from a letter her father wisely wrote for her teenage years. The king wrote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

At the time, I was terrified of beginning a speaking career. I had plenty of reasons why it wouldn’t work and why God must be making a mistake to call me into speaking. Yet when I heard the king’s words to Princess Mia—“courage is not the absence of fear”—I was motivated to discover the King’s perspective on courage in the Word of God.

Here are five courage-builders that have helped me, and they can help you too.

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Every time I write a book about something, God makes sure I learn it first.

So what was my lesson behind writing my book, Drama Free Actually, God made me learn that one AFTER I’d written the book — two days, in fact, before the book released.

I got up one morning to discover flooding in my garage and water seeping up from my living room carpet in our entryway.

It was a leak in the  water pipe underneath our kitchen  slab! A team of water mitigation specialists came over and set fans out on our carpet,  peeled back our kitchen linoleum,  tore out our cupboards to check for mold on the floor boards,  and then a plumber came over to begin a reroute of the lines underneath our slab to put them in the walls so there would be no more slab leaks.

Suddenly there were eleven holes punched into the drywall in our home. Some in the kitchen ceiling, some in the bathroom, some in the entry way above the front door. In addition, our kitchen was covered in plastic during this reconstruction mess.

To our mischievous kitten, Mowgli, some strange men entered our home and built him a brand new personal playground.  Mowgli immediately began to explore  those holes in the wall, running through the ceiling rafters and making us think he was lost and couldn’t find his way out. We tried taping up the holes with large pieces of plastic, but Mowgli found a way to enter the forbidden areas. Each time we left the house and came back again it was a desperate search to find Mowgli whom we could hear overhead, but could not find!

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Sally Nance, whose blog is The Healthy Happy Woman, is my guest blogger this week. Here are her thoughts on how to find and practice happiness:

Are you happy?  This question might catch you off guard, and yet, it’s one of the most profound questions you can ask yourself.  Perhaps happiness seems like a destination just beyond your reach.  Or maybe you tell yourself things like, “I’ll be happy when__________________ (fill in the blank with whatever you think is going to make you happy)!”

But what if I told you that happiness is a spiritual discipline, just as much as reading your Bible or praying, and that it is a direct result of pursuing a vibrant relationship with Christ through His Word?  Charles Spurgeon knew this to be so.  He said, “As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ.”

Christian author, Donald Whitney, defines spiritual disciplines as “those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”

So, is it possible for happiness to be a “habit of devotion” that can be “practiced by God’s people”?  I absolutely think so!  Let’s look at 3 ways we can practice the spiritual discipline of happiness:

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Have you ever considered that some of the drama in your life could actually be God’s deliverance from something worse? I mean, maybe your situation that you really aren’t happy about is God saving you from more dangerous drama down the road.

Because God knows the entire script of your life and mine, He can save us from what we never knew was a threat.

I was reading Psalm 71 recently and highlighted verse 15 in particular, where the psalmist sings:

“My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,

of your saving acts all day long —

though I know not how to relate them all.”

I started reflecting on God’s “saving acts all day long” and how many I might not even know about. I then started wondering if that is why some of the drama happens in my life. Could God be saving me from more dramatic and dangerous circumstances I don’t know about?

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Admit it. You’d like to be one of those couples that prays together daily, conducts family devotions regularly, and models to others what a spiritual home should look like.

But if you’re like us – and most couples we’ve talked to – you’re not quite there.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever be.

Although my husband was a pastor for more than 20 years and I continue to be heavily involved in ministry, too, it took us a good 20 years before we started setting aside the time to pray together regularly. And when we did, we realized it was the single most important factor in creating a closer connection between the two of us.

And yet, why did it take us so long to prioritize praying together?  The reasons – or maybe I should say, excuses — abounded.

As my husband and I began researching and writing our book, When Couples Walk Together, we interviewed many couples on the subject of praying together and learned we were not alone in our struggle. Nor were our reasons unique for finding it difficult to come together to pray.

The Schedule Dilemma

We found the number-one reason most couples cited for not praying together was conflicting schedules and the inability to find the time to do so. For years, my husband and I cited this excuse, too. He was up earlier and out the door for work while I was helping our daughter get ready for school, which made morning prayer together nearly impossible. And praying at night before bed was out of the question as he would fall asleep much earlier than I would. But we realized that we make the time to do what is most important to us, so we had to start getting creative. Other couples we talked to also struggled with making the time, but once they did, they found another difficulty arose.

The Intimidation Factor

In talking with many couples about why they don’t pray together, the schedule is often the first excuse. But lying underneath that is the feeling that one’s spirituality will be measured by the length or depth of one’s prayers.  Many wives expect their husbands, as the spiritual heads of the household, to initiate prayer, to comfort their hearts through prayer when they are feeling misunderstood, to be their spiritual strength. And those kinds of expectations can be intimidating to any man. Likewise, wives can feel intimidated, too, if they feel their prayers don’t match the spiritual depth of their husbands. Some spouses tend to be more verbose in their prayers, while others feel more comfortable internalizing their thoughts and pray silently to God. Prayer makes anyone feel vulnerable, especially if someone other than God is listening in.

The ‘Unseen’ Battle 

Finally, praying with one’s spouse is difficult at times because the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us praying together.  Anything that strengthens your bond with your spouse and causes you two to come together in like mindedness will be considered dangerous to Satan and he’ll do what it takes to prevent it — through distractions, misunderstandings, interruptions, feelings of intimidation,  personal fatigue, and so on. That doesn’t mean every time your prayer time is interrupted or needs to be postponed that it was the work of the devil. Nor does it mean each time your spouse needs to cancel or doesn’t feel like praying it is his or her fault, either. It just means that our battle “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).

Pushing Through the Obstacles:  

Just as there are many reasons why it’s difficult for couples to pray together, there are equally as many ways to push through the barriers and incorporate a habit that will draw the two of you closer to one another and closer to God.

  1. Pray it through – Talk to God first about your desire to pray with your spouse. First John 5:14-15 assures us that “whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” So, ask God for the time in your schedule, for wisdom in how to suggest it to your spouse, and that God will prepare the heart of your spouse to desire this time with you, as well.
  2. Set a time –  By setting an agreed-upon appointment for prayer with your spouse, both of you are more likely to keep it. But, as with any appointment, there will be times you or your spouse will need to postpone or reschedule. That’s life. So, be flexible, and extend grace.
  3. Ease into it – There’s a reason prayer is considered a spiritual discipline. And as with any habit or discipline, it will take work. So ease into it. You might even start with praying together once a week for a brief time, then gradually increase your prayer time to two or three times a week until it becomes a part of your daily schedule.
  4. Keep it short – There is nothing wrong with limiting the time that the two of you can spend in prayer, especially when you’re first starting out. There are jobs to attend, tasks to complete, and children to care for.  Be respectful of each other’s time and put parameters around how long your prayer time will be. My husband often instructs couples in prayer as he would a team of backpackers. When a group of backpackers hit the trail, there’s a general rule of thumb that says everyone should walk at a pace that is most doable for the slowest-moving member of the team. It’s the “leave no man (or woman) behind” motto. So let the spouse who tends to pray the shortest set the tempo.
  5. Keep it simple – You can keep it short and simple by limiting your prayer time together to the basic or most pressing needs on your heart. A couple’s prayer time should never replace an individual’s prayer time. And in my opinion, our prayer time alone with God, one-on-one, should far outweigh the amount of time we pray with our spouse. God is always there. He’s always available. And you don’t need to schedule a time to talk with Him. But that’s often not the case with your spouse. Respect his or her time and pray only about pressing needs that concern your family, such as job, health or financial issues, the salvation or spiritual life of loved ones, the behavioral issues of your children, and so on. You might even consider praying together for certain things on certain days:  Monday – God’s provision; Tuesday – family and extended family; Wednesday – ministry opportunities; and so on.
  6. Keep it safe – Remove any possibility of intimidation by letting your spouse know that your prayer time together is not an arena for judgment or assumption. In other words, anything that is prayed for is “safe” – and won’t be analyzed, critiqued, shared with others, or brought up again in a non-supportive way.
  7. Keep it light – I don’t mean to sound irreverent here or to imply our prayers should be shallow. I mean “light” in terms of encouraging. Praying with your spouse about sensitive issues in your marriage or situations in your past that may cause him or her to feel regret or remorse might not be best. Save the heavier, deeply personal issues for God. He can handle them and many times your spouse won’t know what to do upon hearing prayers that might be directed at him or her and any trouble or anxiety they may be causing the marriage. Aim for a goal of togetherness and encouragement as you pray. If your goal, after praying together, is that both you and your spouse emerge from that prayer time feeling more powerful and strengthened together, then you will know what to address with your spouse and what to keep for an extended prayer time with just you and God. As you begin praying together regularly, the Holy Spirit may impress upon your hearts to pray about deeper issues and, when that is the case, you both will simply be following His lead.

Finally, you can apply the principles of Philippians 2:1-2 as a guideline in praying together by “thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.” That one goal should be that each of you emerge from your prayer time together feeling stronger, more supported, and more unified in order to take on the enemy of your souls.


(This article is adapted from When Couples Walk Together, co-authored by Cindi and Hugh McMenamin.)

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Marnie Swedberg on her radio show just recently. Spending an hour talking about Drama Free with this delightful woman made me want to hear more from her.

So I asked her to guest blog for me and talk about something we all know we should do, but sometimes wonder how.

Glean from Marnie as she talks about how you and I can pray continually (and leave a comment below and you could win a copy of one of my books.)

Here’s Marnie…

The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” If you’re like me, that seemed an impossible command.

I want to share with you the dolphin analogy that God used to help me adopt the habit of praying without ceasing. I hope it will be as helpful to you as it has been to me in unraveling this puzzle.

Simply stated, God created dolphins to be water dwellers, but air breathers. He created us to be earth dwellers, but prayer breathers.

Ephesians 2:6 uses the present tense when it describes our ability to be spiritually in the presence of God even while being stuck here on earth. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Dolphins can breathe air while living in the water. They can survive about five minutes before surfacing, but not much more. We can survive just about as long without going up to God for prayer.

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What would you say if your child told you that he or she was gay?

Maybe you haven’t experienced that but a friend of yours has.

In her new book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home, my friend, Author Lori Wildenberg, addresses this topic, among others that our children may present us with.

I asked her to share her wisdom on my blog for you or someone you know who may come face to face with a situation like this.

Here’s Lori’s wisdom (which can also be applied to other areas of a grown child’s behavior or choices):

“My young adult just told me he’s (or she’s) gay. Now what?”

This inquiry used to be a rare one. This past month I have spoken to three different moms seeking answers to this very question.

Broken-hearted, lonely, and confused, they are looking for camaraderie, comfort, and clarity.

Empathy and compassion I have in full supply. I can relate. My daughter is same-sex attracted.

Answers—God has those.

Each family, each child, each parent is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how this is played out in the family.

God is the one to trust with the answers.

Along with my listening ear, I can provide some guidelines when it comes to living with this new reality. The most important thing I tell parents is to love their child. Once the young person has uncovered his secret, he is relieved his secret is out but fears his parents will not love him. Show him that is not true. Let him (or her) know you love him.

So what does love sound like?
Say these 12 vital statements to your child in order to build and maintain a relational bridge.

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What do you fear more than God?

It’s very possible that is what is causing you drama.

For instance, I was recently stressed out because I didn’t want to disappoint someone and yet it was becoming impossible for me to meet their expected deadline. Yet did I really fear what that person thought of me more than I feared God who had my back and could clear my name?

It occurred to me, as I was writing my book, Drama Free, that most of the drama we experience in life is a result of fearing people more than we fear God. (To fear God is to have a wholesome dread of ever displeasing the Lord. To fear people — and what they think about you or might do to you — is to give them more control over you than they deserve.) When we care more about what others think of us we are adopting a mindset where people are big and God is small.

And that triggers drama.

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Leave it to my friend, Arlene Pellicane, to find a positive example of drama.

I asked the popular author and speaker to be my guest blogger this week and she shares a fun, encouraging story about how resorting to dramatics actually HELPS your family, not hinders it.

Here’s her take on how to be a drama mama — in a good way.

Arlene writes…

I opened a kitchen cabinet overhead and a bowl crashed to the floor.  I screamed loudly – very loudly!  You would think a burglar had jumped through our window carrying a gun by the way I reacted.

The kids rushed into the room.

“What happened?” they asked frantically.

“Oh, this bowl fell and it really scared me.”

“Mom, you really shouldn’t scream so much.”

This moment wasn’t about having dramatic kids.  It was about being a dramatic mom!

The bowls had been stacked too high and when I opened the cabinet door, one bowl gave in to gravity and fell.  It really scared me, but I could certainly see how I totally overreacted.

I needed to dial down the drama.

Sometimes our dramatic outbursts are caused by silly things.  Sometimes they are caused by real difficulty.  In my book 31 Days to a Happy Husband, I write about Doug, one of my husband’s grad school buddies who spent 13 months in Baghdad as an Army Chaplain.  His wife Ally had their three young children to take care of.  You can imagine the challenge of parenting alone coupled with being concerned about your deployed spouse.

But she did something dramatic that strengthened – not weakened – their home.

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If you’re like me, you’ve often said – or thought – I don’t do drama.

Yet, as much as you and I would like to shut the chaos, confusion, and cattiness out of our lives, drama has a way of creeping into our lives anyway.

Our upbringing, personality, and baggage from past wounds can trigger dramatic reactions to varying degrees, especially if we are unaware of our vulnerabilities and what we are capable of.

You and I can’t control our circumstances but we can always control how we respond to them. As we  learn to maturely respond – rather than emotionally react – to what life brings us so, we can dial down the drama, diffuse it, or eliminate it altogether.

Here are three steps to help you  become drama free by keeping yourself in check so your emotions don’t get the best of you:

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Would you like to be done with the drama? Me too.

Admit it. You’ve said (or at least thought) I’m done with the drama

…when your mother calls with complaints that you can’t help her with. Sorry!

…when your teenager is having a meltdown for no apparent reason. Whaattt?

…when your co-worker blames you for an incident that was clearly not your fault. Again?!

…when you get a call from a family member or friend who isn’t attending the gathering because she is planning to be there. Whatever.

…when you discover the talk in the break room, Bible study, or neighborhood  has been about you. Over it!

Or maybe – just maybe – someone else has thought I’m done with the drama when thinking of you.

I’d like to think I’m never the cause of drama. But in reality, you and I can be catalysts for drama without even realizing it. Yes, you have been the cause of drama if you’ve ever…

… told your friend about another break-up worthy situation with your boyfriend, yet you can’t bear to part with him.

… verbally vented at the customer service rep for how you were treated in the store.

… given another mom a piece of your mind after hearing how her child treated yours.

… said anything about anyone that you wouldn’t have said if they were present.

… refused to attend or be involved with something because of another person you didn’t want to be around.

… refused to forgive someone because of something they’ve done to you.

… stormed out of a room or meeting (or lost it, emotionally, and then left the room).

Yep, if you’ve ever done any of the above (like I have), then you know drama, too. And I’m sure you hate it as much as I do.

But you don’t have to be drama…or continue to have drama in your life. After all, how we respond to situations make all the difference — or all the drama — in the world.

Here are 10 statements to verbally diffuse drama in the moment:

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I’m no stranger to drama.

I wish that weren’t so.

I wish I could tell you that there has never been a dramatic day in my life and that I have never, personally, played into drama, contributed to drama, or let drama control my circumstances or responses.

But then I’d be lying to you. And that would be more drama.

The truth is, like you, I know drama. I have lived and breathed it – and even abhorred it –because I live in a world where drama happens. And because I see it in the thousands of women I work among and minister to every year.

None of us sets out to be drama but it can happen. Our upbringing, personality, and baggage from past wounds can trigger dramatic reactions that make you and I the inevitable drama queen.

Here is a way to assess your drama factor.  Do any of these statements describe you?read more

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