Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hanging Up My Cape - The Best Yes

I'm excited to join many other inspiring bloggers and add this post to Lysa TerKeurst's "The Best Yes" Blog Tour. To learn more and join us CLICK HERE 

I sat in the pastor's office on the verge of tears. I had sought out his wisdom to sort through commitments that had left me feeling pressured and stretched to the limit.

Women's ministry.  Praise Team.  Dramas. Driving the church van to the homeless shelter.  Writing content for the church website.  And on, and on.

You see, I've been diagnosed with what Lysa calls the "disease to please".  I hated saying "no" to anything.  I just didn't want to disappoint people.

So I ran around saying yes to lots of things.

Practically everything.


Individually, they were all really good things.  "Church things."  But they weren't the best things.

At least not for me.

Of course my son likes to remind me I only have myself to thank for being in an over-committed quandary.

And he's right. (He'll never believe that confession made it to print!)

The truth is, if there's no white space in my life, if I'm only pouring myself out but never being filled up, if I'm always saying yes to everything...I'm not a wonder woman, I'm a worn out woman.

And that's why I was sitting in my pastor's office.

He wrote down all the ministries I was involved in and we discussed them one by one, examining whether each activity brought me joy or stress.

We tried to discern if any of my yeses had been a Best Yes.

Slowly, we chipped away at the list.

While I felt the load lighten with each thing we removed, I knew there would be push back.  Some people would not understand my need to say "no" - especially after having said "yes".

But the bottom line was the only person living my life was me.  And the only opinion that mattered was God.'s

I had to ask myself - were all these good things - ANY of these good things - my things to do?

Were they the things God had best equipped me to handle?

Because I could do them, did it mean I should do them?

Was I robbing someone else of the opportunity to use their gifts?

And could a worn out woman give anyone her best?


By putting on my cape and swooping in, there was a good possibility that I was actually being disobedient...filling a need I wasn't called  to fill.

These days, I'm still a busy woman.  But instead of spreading myself across many different areas and ministries, I focus on my Best Yes - heading up the outreach ministry at my church.  It's what I've been called to do.  Something God put on my heart when I finally hung up the cape and dropped some of the yes noise from my life so I could hear Him more clearly.

Are you saying yes to things you shouldn't?  Are you feeling like a worn out woman?

Put that cape on a hanger and stick it back in the closet.  

It's time to figure out God's Best Yes for your life and Lysa Terkeurst's newest book, The Best Yes, is full of practical insight to help you do just that.  Grab your copy today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Writing Process (and other weighty questions answered)

As I mentioned in another post, I attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference at the end of July.  There I met the lovely Kathryn Ross who blogs at The Writer's Reverie.  She invited me to participate in a blog hop of sorts where I answer four questions about my writing, and introduce you to three bloggers who then do the same.  

I hesitantly took on the challenge, concerned I wouldn't be able to find three other bloggers.  I read a number of blogs, but I know people are busy and it might not be possible for them to carry forth the challenge.  Unfortunately, this was in fact the case.  Several have already participated, a few are in transition with their blogs, and so on and so forth.  But to keep my obligation, I have answered the four questions below, and, because I love these other blogs, I will introduce you to three of them without requiring them to carry on the "hop".  In fact, one has already participated, so I will be redirecting you to her earlier response to a different challenger.

Here are the questions:

What am I working on? 

I've had a memoir in the works for about 3 years.  It began as a submission for a writing competition held by Women of Faith and was only required to be 10,000 words.  In the two years since the contest, I have pulled it out, dusted it off, submitted it for critique, added to it, reworked it and had it critiqued again.  Last year, after the word count had doubled in size, it became obvious to me it was really two books: a memoir and a "how-to" book on outreaches.  At this year's writer's conference I shared some articles I wrote on outreach as well as the idea for the book and they were met with favorable feedback, so the memoir is on the back burner for now as I work on the outreach book.

This month I became a regular contributing writer for circlesoffaith.org and so I'm also working on a continuing series of articles about women making a difference in their communities.  The first article was called The MAKE IT Program.

Of course, I'm always working on posts for my blog as well.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

The outreach book is different from others I've seen in that it will provide details like time frames, resources, and appendices with step by step instructions missing from other publications.  Rather than a book that just lists ideas, it will be a book containing solutions. Each chapter will start with a story of how someone was impacted by the outreach, and it will be followed by the logistics of the event making it personal and instructional.

Why do I write what I write? 

As a young teen, I wrote poetry and short stories in my journal.  I've always excelled at writing in shorter form, so blog posts, devotionals, and articles are easy for me relatively speaking.  Developing ideas into book form is far more difficult.

The blog posts I write because God has laid something on my heart to share or has taught me something I think others would appreciate reading about.  It is extremely personal in content. 

I'm writing the book because in the past four years God has placed a passion in my heart for servant evangelism through community outreach.  It is my dream to see churches large and small all over the US and the world step outside the doors of their buildings where it is easy to become inward-looking and self-serving and turn their gaze to those in their very backyards who will perish without the life-giving water Christ has to offer.  So many of them might never knock on the door of the church to request it, but if the church goes to them and offers the cup, they are far more likely to drink of it.

The bottom line is I write what I write because I'm compelled to use the gift of words God has given me to further His kingdom and to encourage those who already know Him.

How does my writing process work?

It works differently depending on what I'm writing. So many blog posts are born out of personal experience.  A situation will occur, something will be said, a word picture will present itself, and a title or "hook" line will come to mind.  I will marinate on that, working it out in my brain, trying different approaches often long before a single word hits the page.  I know it's truly from God when the words flow out of my fingers which often have to fly to keep up with what my brain is spitting out.  If things come to a halt and re-reading what's there doesn't restart the process, I'll let it lie for awhile, coming back to it in an hour, or a day.  I'll pray on it, think about it some more, then re-read what's there and edit.  It's been said that writing is rewriting and there is no bigger truth.  I am always rewriting - sometimes even after I've hit that "publish" button.

The writing process also involves a great deal of procrastination for me.  Because I use the computer to write, I run the risk of being tempted to "pop on" Facebook or check email and before long the shiny ball syndrome has struck and I'm doing everything BUT write.  I am still looking for that perfect place, that little corner where I can hide and type.  It's tough because the lap top I use only works when plugged in - the battery is basically dead.  This makes portability an issue!

Okay...now to those other bloggers I mentioned.

I met Beth Bingaman my first year at the conference.  Kind and wise, I liked her straight away and I'm glad we can keep in touch via Facebook.  It was a delight to reconnect in person at this year's conference.  Beth is a teacher and speaker and you'll find her blog on her website, http://www.bethbingaman.com/ .  It is filled with solid, Biblical truth.

Linda Cannon writes at One Woman's Pilgrimage...Pressing On.  Her Haiku is beautiful, and her lessons, memorable.  I met Linda at church.  She is a great motivator, life coach, certified group fitness instructor, and friend.  She also blogs at Coach Linda Bush.

Lastly, Susie Klein has already taken this challenge.  You can find her responses via this link on her blog Recovering Church Lady.  The name alone grabs attention, doesn't it?  Susie writes with wit and wisdom and is currently luxuriating next to the pool God gave her at her new Texas home (she transplanted a month ago from California). 

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me and that you'll visit these other awesome blogs!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Helping others MAKE IT

Today at Circles of Faith I introduce Ikecia Lenese Mapp.  Ikecia is a friend, sister in Christ, co-laborer on the CommunityConnections outreach ministry I head up, author, and mom.  She has created a wonderful program called MAKE IT to encourage and empower women who find themselves struggling with life's circumstances.

Take what God has gifted you with and use it right where you are.

That’s exactly what my friend, Ikecia Lenese Mapp, did.  

Ikecia was 16 and pregnant, but determined not to become a high school dropout.

Her story is one of hardship, healing, and triumph as she fulfills God’s mission for her life.

Visit Circles of Faith today to read the rest of the story!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writing His Answer - Can You Hear Me Now?

The email came while I was at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference.  It was a simple request to meet, but for some inexplicable reason, my defenses went up.

I called a friend to see if she could shed some light on what it was about. Even as she tried to allay my fears, I found myself getting teary-eyed.  She apologized for upsetting me, but I assured her the problem was mine. I couldn't shake the totally unfounded feeling that my purpose for being at the conference was about to be negated.

Lies of the enemy.  

In the back of my mind I knew what they were, but those lies still tried to find a place where they could settle into my brain and fester.

The theme of the conference was "Write His Answer" based on Habakkuk 2:2.  It is my belief that I can write His answer to a lost world by sharing the impact my church is making on our community and to encourage others to use those ideas as a jumping off point so they too can leave the confines of the church walls and begin to change their communities.  After all, Galatians 6:9 instructs us "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (NIV)

To become better prepared to write that answer, I took two main courses of study this year.  A continuing session on writing magazine articles, and a blogging clinic.

The first two days at the conference, I dutifully jotted notes during the clinic. The teacher spoke at length about key words, alt attribute text, Google Analytics, widgets, rss feeds, and SEO.

All technical, clinical stuff.

But the day after the email and phone call, our instructor decided to switch gears for a moment.  She asked us to write down how we felt about our readers.  What we wanted them to feel as they read our words. Some people shared what they had written.

"Encouraged.  Taking away nuggets of truth.  Challenged. Loved."

Then she said "How do you think God feels about YOU?  Not what you know in your head, but what you feel in your heart."  She added "You don't need to share those words if you're not comfortable doing that."

No one raised their hand.  

She moved on.

Eventually, we took a break, and when we returned to our seats, she had a funny look on her face.

"I feel like God has given me a word for someone in here.  You have to understand, this is not something that normally happens to me, but I really feel I have to share it.  Someone in here is discouraged.  I don't know if it's because their blog isn't what they'd like it to be or it's something else. I don't know who it's for, but if you feel it's for you, you don't have to raise your hand or anything."

"God wants you to know He's proud of you.  He's pleased with you.  You're on the right track.  You're doing what He wants of you."

Now that could have been a word for anyone in the room.  Or everyone.  But I believe it was for me.


Because I looked down at the paper where I had jotted down how I thought God felt about me.  It said:

"He loves me, cares for me, He's proud of me and loves when I lean into Him in good times and bad.  He loves when I seek His face."

But I had crossed out "proud".  I thought it sounded...well...prideful.  I changed it to "is pleased with me" and even then, I wondered.  Could I assume such a thing?

But those were the very words she used.  He's proud of you.  He's pleased with you. 

In. That. Order.  

It was no coincidence.  God wanted me to know no matter how I tried to position it, He had me covered.  He takes both pride and pleasure in me. 

If any doubts remained that the word was for me, they were wiped away in my next class, the continuing session on article writing.

I shared about a garden my church planted with the sole purpose of donating the harvest to the food bank. When I was done,  two of my classmates came to me asking for my contact information.  One had already been trying to unsuccessfully to convince her pastor to break ground on a garden and was excited to provide him proof that the idea was viable...the other was encouraged to bring a proposal to her church.

The lies of the enemy were exposed for what they were.  Lies.  Nothing was being negated.  God affirmed I was on the right track with every interaction I had on the subject of community outreach.from that point forward  I could rest assured I was doing what He wanted of me.

I am so grateful that my teacher not only listened to what the Spirit had to say, but that she was obedient to relay it.

I had been listening to lies until the Truth broke through.

But I can hear Him now.  


The Truth wrote His answer on my heart so that I can write His answer to others.

How is God speaking to you today?