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  • Nov 8
    Military Family Camp Fish Camp
  • Dec 12
    MOPS Oakhurst

Sierra Pines Church

12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels


As a counselor, I see so many ladies who won’t let themselves off the hook for the mistakes they have made despite the fact that God is in the forgiveness business. This retreat weekend will empower ladies to soak up the freedom God has for his girls.m(Pun definitely intended.) Based on the engaging worship song, Oceans: Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong.

  •  You’re God’s Priceless Pearl—Matt. 13
  • Oceans of Grace—Ephesians 2
  • Joy in the Storm--Matthew 6
  • Waves of Mercy—1  John 1:9



(Psalm 71:14) In today’s economic and political environment, with a culture that challenges Christian values at every turn, it is hard to hold on to hope. Inspired by the stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope and Miracles, your group will walk away with renewed peace and strength as ladies rediscover what God is doing in His world and for each of them personally to build hope.

  • Finding Hope—Romans 15:13
  • Hope for Hurting People in Your Life—Jeremiah 29:11
  • Connecting With the God of All Hope—1 Kings 19
  • Hope Rising: Living Your Hope—Philippians 4


BLING FROM THE KING—Proverbs 3:13-15

This retreat topic is based on the stories from my devotional books, Sapphires from Psalms and Better Than Jewels. It's easy for us to move through life putting one foot in front of the other never recognizing how treasured we are by God and the difference He desires to make in our lives. Discover gold nuggets of truth from God's Word that let you know the dazzling things He has planned for you. Linda shares gems of encouragement from stories that are real, relevant, and relatable.
•    God's Treasured Possession--Deut. 7:6
•    Sapphires from Psalms: What Psalms Says About Suffering-- Psalm 40:1-3
•    God’s Crowns Your Rewards—Psalm 149:4
•    Better Than Jewels: Being Used by God—Proverbs 8:11

Decorations include bargain bling of all kinds, rings, necklaces etc.



(John 10:10)  Based on my first book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise; Biblical Steps to Wholeness In Christ, this topic will lead you on a journey to discover the contentment Christ provides. We have become excellent at making a living, but too often we fail at making a life. Discover the vitality Jesus offers us as we follow Him.

Perspective: Attitude is Everything

Personal Inventory: Joy Robbers

Priorities: Play to W.I.N.

Purpose: What Floats Your Boat

 Decoration ideas include balloons, party hats, and blowers for the joy theme. Antique and current luggage to illustrate the journey idea.


 (Zephaniah 3:17) We are not defined by our dysfunction, or by the damage we have sustained. We are not even defined by our diagnosis. We are defined by the Divine! Spend a weekend learning to see yourself the way God sees you-as a precious treasure, a divine design, a miraculous creation of a God who is crazy about you!

  • The Way God Sees You—God’s Crazy About You (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • The Way God Frees You—Find Freedom in Forgiveness (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • The Way God Loves You—Steps to Connection with God (1 Kings 19)
  • The Way God Leads You—Finding Strength for Your Path (Ephesians 3:16-20)

Decoration ideas include a coffee theme demonstrating one-on-one time with God, or mannequins, fabric, and patterns to convey design.



(Matthew 7:7) When I was a young Christian, I believed that God already had things planned out and our job was to pray so that we could accept that plan. As I have practiced this amazing privilege of talking with the Creator of the Universe, I have found both comfort and power in prayer. Come with me on my journey to explore this amazing gift.

  • Why Pray?
  • Having an A+ Prayer Life
  • Praying Through the Tough Times
  • The ABCs of Prayer

Great topic for a weekend retreat, one-day refresher conference or during a spiritual emphasis week.


Based on 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." Talks Include~
Shine Where You Are: Bloom Where You're Planted
Esther: The Shining Star
Shining Through the Tough Times
Salt & Light

Great topic for women’s, single’s, or pastor’s wives’ events. Decoration ideas include lighthouses, candles, stars, flashlights, glitter makeup, flowers, seeds and bulbs.

(John 15: 13-15)  Are you so busy taking care of everyone else that you don’t have time
 to invest in you?  A friend is a gift you give yourself. This weekend focuses on~
•    Friendship-Ruth and Naomi Style
•    Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
•    Feeling the Friendship God Offers
•    Becoming Jesus With Skin On
This theme works well for a weekend retreat for ladies or a Mother/Daughter weekend. Ideas for decorations and prizes include hearts, hats, dress-up clothes, and pictures of friends.



(Ephesians 4:29)
Effective communication can be illusive.  Linda has provided tools for couples
 in conflict at her counseling office for over fifteen years.  Whether you are a spouse, a parent,
 or even an employer, learn from Linda how to~
•    Talk With the Hand
•    Choose Your Hills to Die On
•    She’s Got a Gatling Gun; He’s Got a Cannon 
•    Let’s Talk
~An effective topic for a Couples’ Retreat or Conference~


TAKE A R.E.S.T. FROM YOUR STRESS—Matthew 11:29, The demands of daily life can rob us of the peace God intends for His kids. Learn how to walk each day in the, “unforced rhythms of grace,” The Message. (DVD available for this talk.)

GIRLFRIEND’S GETAWAY— Ruth 1-4, Bring a friend and plan to laugh together and learn from Ruth and Naomi how God gives us friends for all stages and during all ages.

YOU-NIQUELY YOU: UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF AND OTHERS--Discover your God-given temperament and learn how to truly value the people God put in your life.

LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN—NOT SELF-ESTEEM BUT “JESUS-TEEM”—John 10:10, Find tools for transformation as you see yourself through God’s eyes, and see Satan coming to rob your joy.

GOD’S WAITING ROOM—Isaiah 43:1-3, Pink slips, foreclosures, troubled teens, health concerns all force us to wait for answers from God. Discover steps to not only survive, but to thrive in God’s waiting room.


Jesus the Perfect Gift~The perfect Christmas gift is packaged well, personal and practical. That describes Jesus. And this is the perfect season to explore what an amazing gift Christ is to each of us personally.

Christmas Glow~With all the hustle and bustle of the season, we are often more likely to flame out than glow. Using the gifts Christ received, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we can offer God the sparkling gift of ourselves as we learn how to manage our expectations even in the midst of a demanding holiday schedule.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear~In keeping with the words of this traditional Christmas carol, Christ’s birth changed the world; it changed history. Reflect on how how the significance of that night can change your history too. 

FREEING THREE: Here are 3 verses for your Freeing Three. Print them off, read them 3x a day for 3 weeks, and put them in 3 places where you will see them regularly. Focus on the Word not your worries!

2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Isaiah 51:3, “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” NLT
2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

Joel 2:25, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” NKJV
Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Isaiah 41:10, “So Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” The Message.
 2Tim. 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Isaiah 51:12 , “I’m the One comforting you. What are you afraid of—or who? Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead? Some poor wretch destined for dust?” The Message.

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 121:3, “He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber.”
Hebrews 6:18, “God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us” CEV.

Psalm 125:1, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”
Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”
Psalm 62:1-2, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.
Psalm 37:23-25 23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. 25 Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned nor their children begging for bread,” NLT.
Isaiah 43:1-3, “But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”
Isaiah 12:2, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

Psalm 103: 8-12, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries
them close to his heart”
Psalm 40:1-3,” I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Zephaniah 3:17,”The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love he will rejoice over you with singing."

Matthew 11:28-30,”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. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,”
Psalm 46:10,”Be still an know that I am God.”


In these challenging economic times, we need each other more than ever. We need the safe, connected environment that a healthy church provides. But retreats and conferences are harder and harder to plan when more and more folks are struggling financially. So I wrote this article for retreat planners or lay people who believe ladies need to gather together and would like a way to make that happen.

My husband and I have been in ministry for nearly 30 years. I started when I was 2. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) In all of those years, I’ve never heard of an easier more effective idea for raising money for your ministry than this one.

I have to give credit to Sierra Pines current women’s ministry leader, Janine Hendricks. This sharp lady came into our church with a heart for service and a head full of great ideas. For years our best moneymaking idea was having a church yard sale. We had everyone bring all the stuff they didn’t want from home and a few dedicated souls would sort, price, place, and sell everyone’s leftover junk! I didn’t even talk about the hassle of getting rid of the things that didn’t sell. We would work our fingers to the bone all weekend at a church-wide yard sale and barely clear a couple grand.

Janine’s idea was to have folks bring in the nicer things, brand new but unwanted gifts, barely used items, or even thrift store finds in great shape. With the help of the women’s team, she would lay all the items out on long tables and then she taught us how to “package them.” We collected things together with a theme or a color in common. Then she showed us how to place them in cute baskets purchased a local thrift stores for pennies, wrap them in cellophane, and give them a catchy title.

For example, Janine took a novel and devotional that someone donated, found a lap blanket, a cute pair of reading glasses, a journal, and pen, placed them in a basket and called it, ME TIME. Another creative example was a basket labeled, Just the Two of Us, that featured a romantic comedy, microwave popcorn, candy and candles. The possibilities are endless.

Then at our scheduled women’s events, we displayed these baskets with a small brown bag sitting next to them. When ladies enter the room, they are given an opportunity to purchase tandem tickets for $1 each, 6 tickets for $5, and 30 tickets for $20. Or more if they like ☺ They keep one and write their name on the matching one and place it in the bag next to the basket they want to win. At the end of the event, a ticket is drawn out of the bag and a winner is born!

A delightful addition to this great way of raising funds is the fun- factor it adds for your ladies. After several years of doing this, “basket time” has become as much a part of our events as our teaching time! Even if a gal doesn’t win a basket, she still finds herself cheering for her friends who do. Now we even have ladies bidding on baskets for each other!

Depending on the donations you collect, you can raise as much in several hours of combining and wrapping baskets as you would in several days of working to sell stuff at bake or yard sales. We have put together so many baskets now, that our women’s team is trained to look out for items that would work well together in a basket at yard sales or thrift stores increasing the basket supply.

No more standing for hours to cook for a pancake breakfast or washing cars in a parking lot until my fingers turned pruney! I’m sold. Thanks, Janine for a great idea. I may not be the only women’s leader it blesses.

If you would like a copy of my article How to Plan a Successful One-Day Conference, please email me a


Sanity for me is an every-minute enterprise! I maintain it only if I stay on-line with the Lord all day long. I have to be intentional about keeping the communication lines open.   If I’m not careful I find myself rattling off my morning prayers like items a child’s Christmas list. Then I say “amen,” hang up the hot line to God, or shut off the cosmic computer, and run out to tackle the day.  Then my day looks like this lady’s.
      Hester Sue wakes up excited about the new day, and she starts out with great intentions. She jumps into the shower and sends up a prayer for everyone—her kids, husband, her boss, his boss, her parents, the pastor, and even the neighbors to the north who are never very friendly. Then she towels off, says amen, and sails into the day feeling pretty prayed up. Half way to work her cell phone rings.  It’s her oldest, Susie, “Mom, Tommy missed the bus again.”  
    “Put him on.” Hester Sue feels her temperature rise as she grips the steering wheel.  “You are so busted, Mister. No phone, no T.V. and no video games.  I can’t believe you did this again. Is it so hard to get yourself ready in the morning?  For crying out loud, you’re almost ten.  How hard can this be?  You haven’t heard the last of this.  We will finish this later, Young Man!” Then she hangs up the phone just as she hears her dejected son whimper on the other end of the line.
     Hester Sue barely gains her composure as she pulls into the parking lot at work.  Just as she exits the car, the door handle comes off in her hand. “Oh that’s just great,” she mumbles to herself.  “How many times have I had this into the repair shop?  Those guys are such a bunch of rip-offs!”  So she shoves the handle into her purse, sucks back her mounting anger, and marches into work.  As she enters the outer office her mood worsens as she spots the secretary’s desk empty—again.  “How many days off do they give this woman?  Fabulous, another day of her work and my work too.”  The sarcasm doesn’t make things better but, by now, she’s beyond the point of caring.
     She rounds the corner to her cubicle and notices a note penned in black ink taped to the entrance.   It’s from her boss castigating her for not turning out the lights when she left work yesterday.  “ Oh, my gosh! I did forget.  I can’t deny it.  I rushed out of here to get Susie to the orthodontist and I forgot to flip the switch. Now I’ve managed to tick off the administration. Well, I can kiss that raise goodbye.”   Now feeling angry, guilty, and utterly frustrated, she rushes to restroom to meltdown and runs into Jenny who works in the cubicle next to her.  Jenny opens her mouth stepping on Hester’s reserve nerve, and Hester rips her head off!  And Jenny’s the gal she’s been trying to get to church!
       Let’s rewind Hester Sue’s miserable day and try it with the “Daily Dialogue”. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-8,  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Hester thoroughly and earnestly laid her petitions before the Lord.  But the day proved to have more anxiety that she could handle and she found herself in desperate need of some peace.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 advises us to, “pray continually.” So today Hester Sue stays connected with the Lord all day long.  She jumps into the shower prays for everyone and the cat, but this time she doesn’t say amen.  She doesn’t hang up the phone or click off the computer.  She stays on line with the Lord.
       She launches into her day and half way to work she gets a call from her daughter informing her that once again Tommy has failed to catch the bus and Hester Sue prays, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me kill my son!” She takes a deep breath and pulls into the parking lot at work. As she’s opening the door the handle comes off in her hand and she immediately accesses the Lord’s help not to say awful things about the repairman who continues to insist, “It’s fixed. You must be letting your kids swing on it.”  
     Hester Sue heads through the door at work and notices a vacancy in the front office.  This time she immediately prays for the sick secretary instead of deriding her. She’s starting to feel some of that peace that Paul talks about in Philippians as she trades her anxiety for answers. She knows how to respond in life’s situations because she’s tuned in to God’s frequency and He’s supplying all that she needs “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19.
     Rounding the corner, she spots the note from her boss but constant communion with the Lord has been filling her tank all morning, so she isn’t derailed by her manager’s hate mail. Instead she takes ownership of her part and purposes to do better in the future. When Jenny approaches, Hester is prayed up and presentable, and she doesn’t wreck her Christian witness in the workplace!
     I believe that the Daily Dialogue, that continued communication with the Lord, determines the difference between despondence and abundance.  But you don’t have to trust me.  Try it for yourself.  I’m fond of saying, “Then watch how God shows up.”  But the reality is that God is always there we just aren’t tuned in enough to notice. There are days He spends a lot of time tugging on your sleeve to get your attention and, if you’re like me, your too busy to focus as you barrel through life going ninety miles an hour on a dead-end street.  But I challenge you to slow down long enough to look for His involvement in your daily routine—the parking space that came available right in front of the store when only had fifteen minutes to run in, the money that showed up unexpectedly at the moment of your greatest need, the peace you feel as you float through a demanding day. He’s anxious to show Himself to you. Keep your heart focused, your ears open, and your eyes peeled.

Adapted from 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise available on the store page.             


This summer when you see butterflies floating through the air displaying their exquisite beauty note this awesome lesson we get from Romans 12:1-2 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers (and sisters), in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 The word for transformed here doesn’t just mean change like, “I’ve changed from Colgate to Crest or I’ve switched to Geico!”. The word for change here is the word metamorphoo from which we get our English word metamorphosis used to describe the life cycle that transforms and unsightly caterpillar into a magnificent butterfly.
Have you ever looked at a caterpillar? Sticking out of its head are long hairs that look like horns. It has strong jaws with other mouth parts on the underside of its head. It has antenna on either side of its mouth to help feel its way as it crawls along on its many undulating legs. A short structure called a spinneret sticks out below the mouth.  The caterpillar squeezes a thin stream of liquid through the spinneret that hardens to create a foothold wherever the creature goes. On each side of its head just above its mouth are six small eyes that form a curved line.
     I must admit, sometimes I feel like that caterpillar as I wander through life bug-eyed, buck-toothed, and drooling! Thank goodness God is in the transformation business! With His amazing power, He turns that unsightly caterpillar into a magnificent winged beauty—the beautiful butterfly that poets call Winged Flowers or Flying Gems. That’s what he does for us when we allow Him to transform our weak will, our shallow commitment, our fragile faith through the process of prayer and meditating on His Word.
I have had the blessing of watching the metamorphosis personally when I was teaching fourth graders. Every elementary school teacher gets this experience when some child brings a caterpillar into the classroom, and we all get to watch it spin a chrysalis around itself. Then after the proper time, it has to shed that cocoon it has woven so tightly around itself.  As the butterfly is struggling to emerge, it strains and pushes trying to break free.  Inevitably one of the students anxiously suggests that we make things easier on the poor creature.  “She’s struggling. We need to help her,” suggests a sensitive girl in ringlets and ruffles.
      But as the creature fights it’s way out of the sticky shell it’s legs and wings are strengthened for flight. If we intervened and “helped” the creature, we would cripple it for the very purpose for which it was created.
There are times when we rail at God because we don’t see him intervening in our struggles in the way we think He should. When all the while he knows that the faith we are growing is building strength in us to be the beautiful, strong creatures He intends us to be.
Now I recite Romans 12:1-2 every time I see a caterpillar creeping along, and my goal is to trust God more as I witness His power evidenced in every butterfly floating by.

ABBA FATHER, “DADDY”~taken from Better Than Jewels

When I read in Proverbs 14:26, “Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a place of refuge for their children,” I was troubled with the idea that we were supposed to fear the Lord. My mind conjured up pictures of a divine Dirty Harry in the sky, hovering over the smite button on His cosmic computer just waiting for me to mess up so I could make His eternity!  (Isn’t one day like an eternity to God?)
     The word for fear in this verse does not mean to cower in terror or anxiety.  There are other words used in the Old Testament that depict this kind of emotion.  But the word used in Proverbs 14:26 is the Hebrew word “yirah.”  It means to reverence or to treat with deep devotion and respect.  Vine’s Bible Dictionary explains it as a “reverential fear of God, as a controlling motive of life, in matters spiritual and moral.  It is not a mere fear of His power and righteous retribution but a wholesome concern for displeasing Him.”  Ironically, it is this kind of fear or awe that banishes the fear or terror that causes us to shrink from His presence.
     The Apostle Paul further explains this in Romans 8:15-16: For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (and daughtership).  And by him we cry Abba Father.  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  He tells us not to be debilitated by fear but to embrace God’s love like that of a father—more specifically “Abba” is translated as “Daddy”.     
     With this new understanding of who God is, I now crawl up into His lap, let Him comfort me, and tell me that Daddy’s going to make it all better.  Now that’s a day-maker!
    Here is a story from my book, Better Than Jewels that I think demonstrates the devotion our Heavenly Father has for His kids.

     It was one of those rare summer days in central California when the sky darkened and the air smelled like rain.  Ashley Rose, my five-year-old daughter, was playing outside with the little neighbor girl, Jessie.  Those two would occupy themselves for hours getting into all kinds of mischief and loving every minute of it.  But with the clouds coming up, I worried lightning might soon follow so I decided I had better call the girls inside.  
     As I approached the front door, their conversation caught me off guard. They spoke in slow, hushed tones in deep, meaningful discussion, uncharacteristic of the kindergarten girls who filled the hours with playful chatter.  Choking back tears, Jessie shared, “I have to have surgery on my foot. And I’m scared!”  
     I watched as Ashley wrapped her arm around her playmate and patted her back, knowing all too well what Jessie had to fear.  Ashley Rose had already survived two heart surgeries and was awaiting a serious open-heart surgery in just a few months.
      Ever since talk of this next heart surgery started, Ashley made it a ritual to squirm her scrawny frame into our bed every evening.   Needing a lot of reassurance, she would cuddle up between her dad and me and pose question after question.  “Is it going to hurt like it did the last time?” she asked with her big blue eyes open wide.  “Can Sissy and Jake come and see me?” she questioned, referring to her brother and sister.  “Will they let me keep Bobo with me?” she wondered about her favorite teddy bear.  
     As I lay next to her, all I could do was pray for fear that if I spoke, my words would belie my own fear and dread.  Yet, as she voiced her endless stream of concerns, her daddy patiently answered her questions even as the doubts she shared became more personal.  “Why am I like this and Jake and Sarah aren’t?  Will I always be this small?  Am I going to die?” However long it took to send Ashley off to sleep in peace, is the time her Daddy devoted to his special child.
     That’s why it came as no surprise to me that, as she sat with her arm around her frightened friend, Jessie, she shared with all the assurance in the world, “You don’t have to worry.  You just have to talk to your daddy.” Ashley had first-hand knowledge that her Daddy would be there to help her and offer her comfort and peace.  Our Abba-Father, our Daddy, longs to do the same thing for us if we’ll let Him.
     How long has it been since you curled up next to Him in the wee hours of the evening to let Him know your doubts and fears?  He’s waiting and He’s got all the time in the universe for you.


1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE: "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
2. My mother taught me RELIGION: "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL: "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
4. My mother taught me LOGIC: " Because I said so, that's why."
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC: "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
7. My mother taught me IRONY: "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS: "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
9. My mother taught me about STAMINA: "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."
10. My mother taught me about WEATHER: "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
11. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY: "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"
12. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
 13. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION: "Just wait until we get home."
14. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE: "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way."
15. My mother taught me ESP: "Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"
16. My mother taught me HUMOR: "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."
17. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT: "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."
18. My mother taught me WISDOM: "When you get to be my age, you'll understand."
And my favorite:
19. My mother taught me about JUSTICE: "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"
Good Ol' Gus

 Who Doesn't Love a Good Dog Story adapted from Better Than Jewels
Early one summer day as I opened the screen door to feed our feeble terrier, Lacey, a large ball of energy with tufts of red-brown hair accosted me.  
   “Look who followed me home,” my husband, Bruce, shouted as he made his way up the driveway from his morning walk. He pointed to the overgrown puppy whose panting face made it appear as though he was smiling from ear to ear.  “He was wandering in front of the house this morning, and he followed me the entire time I walked.  I bet he’s hungry,” Bruce commented, as we both observed the pup lick his lips and look at Lacey’s food with longing.”
     “If he wasn’t so sweet he would be scary-looking with all that red fur and those strange green eyes,” I remarked as the dog continued to greet me enthusiastically.
      “Still he’s got to be thirsty after walking two miles,” Bruce persisted.
      “You know if we feed him, he’s going to stick around.  We already have Lacey.  Do we really need another dog to feed and care for?” I warned, not sure I wanted to take on the responsibility and expense.
     “I’m not sure we have a choice.  I think he wants us!” came my husband’s resolute reply.
     I brought out another bowl and the stray puppy ate like there was no tomorrow.
     “Poor thing, he is starving,” Bruce remarked.
     “We’ll see who you’re calling ‘poor’ when the kids wake up.  If they lay eyes on him, they’ll beg us to let him stay.  He’s a big dog can we afford to feed him?”  Money was tight and some months I wondered how if would feed the kids much less another animal.
     “Honey, I think it’s a mute issue,” Bruce informed me pointing to our new canine friend who sat perched on his hind legs, his eyes dancing with delight from his full stomach.
     I was right.  As soon as my youngest, Ashley, spotted a dog on the front porch, all I heard all morning was, “Please, mom, can he stay?  Let us keep him, please.”
      “We’ll call him Gus,” Ashley stated with conviction.  She named him after the invasive and enthusiastic mouse, Gus-Gus, from Disney’s, Cinderella.  When the other two kids woke up they played and laughed with their invasive and energetic friend all day.
     Realizing I was outvoted by evening, I informed my kids that if we were going to keep Gus, we needed to clean him up.  Since we knew nothing of where he came from, I wasn’t willing to do that in our bathtub where Lacey gets bath in comfortable warm water.  “We’ll have to bathe Gus outside and use the hose.”
     Ashley and her older brother, Jake, wrestled Gus into one spot and he sat dutifully as we hosed him with cold water and suds.  By the time of the final rinse with more cold water, I was sold.  Any dog that would put up with that must really want a home.  “O.K.” I conceded.  “Gus is ours!”
     “Yeah,” they cheered and Gus jumped and barked too as if he knew exactly what I said, and he was celebrating.
     Not long after our new pet joined the family, we moved into a trailer on a remote six-acre parcel while we built our house.  One morning as Ashley opened the door to step out, I heard Gus growling and barking. I rushed to the doorway and spotted a rattlesnake right where Ashley would have stepped.  Gus saw it first and was warning his girl to as best as he could.
Late one evening during the construction process, Sarah, my oldest, pulled in the driveway and observed a drama unfold from her car window.  Apparently arthritic Lacey dog had fallen into a ditch that had been dug for the septic tank.  Unable to get out, Sarah watched as Gus moved in behind her and gently nudged her to safety.
     But it was the middle child, Jake, who had the honor of being the family member that with whom Gus would “talk.”   Gus adopted our family just as Jake was moving into the angst of adolescence.  Often as he lay on his bed troubled with the current state of his junior-high world, Gus would come into his room, settle down by his bed, and growl in low hushed phrases that resembled sentences as if to comfort and encourage his boy.
     One Thanksgiving when Gus was up in age, I commented during a family discussion about how he just showed up out of nowhere, like an angel, and has watched over us ever since.  Sarah’s husband, Shaun, laughingly questioned, “Do you still think Gus just showed up on your steps that day?”
     “Shaun, what do you know?” my husband queried.
     “Sarah spotted Gus wandering the streets by the high-school and she brought him home and left him in the front yard because she knew you’d all fall in love with him!” Sarah owned her deception and we all had a good laugh.
     Gus may have found a home that day, but we were blessed with one of God's best examples of love and loyalty. Now I live each day trying to be half as faithful as my dog and half as good as he thinks I am!

LOCUSTS ANYONE~From 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise
Joel 2:25, the scripture reads, “The Lord will restore the years the locust hath eaten” KJV.  Often after I learned this verse I would quote it to myself as, “The Lord will replace the years the locusts have eaten.” Then one summer I tackled restoring an antique oak library table that had been in my mother-in-law’s possession since the 1850s. My husband wanted to use it as a desk in his office, so the project had special meaning.  His mom had redecorated a dozen times, and now the once beautiful tiger-oak table was covered in several coats of garish paint left over from the psychedelic sixties.
     In order to get to the real wood underneath, I had to slather on a caustic paint stripper that was so corrosive it would eat my hide if it touched my skin.  I’d let it set a few minutes so the chemical could erode the paint and then the hard work began--scraping layer after layer of scummy sludge off the desk. The old paint was stubborn and I had to apply countless coats of the corrosive chemical to the top of the desk, and employ endless hours elbow grease to restore the wood.
     Before I even started on the ornate legs, I remembered a gorgeous roll-top desk I had seen at Costco just a few weeks prior.  More than once, in the middle of that challenging task, I thought of backing the truck up to the loading dock at the store and hauling home a brand new desk for my husband to use.  But I couldn’t because the table had sentimental value.  The project meant too much for me to quit.
         Then one afternoon as worked diligently on this project, scraping and sanding for hours, I remembered the verse from Joel.  As I recited it to myself using the word replace instead of restore, it hit me. Replacing it would be a picnic, but restoring the desk required messy, arduous, and tenacious labor. The Lord doesn’t promise to replace our years; He promises to restore those years and that may require some laborious effort scraping the scum of pain and poor decisions from our souls. We have to scour off the sludge of bitterness and resentment, and scrape off the layers of fear and doubt so that God can restore the beauty He intends for each of His children.  In his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn states that, “God always sees us in the light of what he intended us to be, and he seeks to restore us to that design.”
         I believe that Jesus reaches diligently toward His children, but many times our ability to reach back is impeded by a big pile of emotional baggage, heaped so high, we can’t respond to His embrace. The process of unpacking the emotional bags full of damage that has visited upon us or that we have visited upon others--and ourselves-- requires considerable emotional elbow grease. But we can’t give up because that transformation process means too much to us in terms of future peace and fulfillment.  The Lord will be there every step of the way encouraging and empowering us to continue, but we will have to do the painful part of peeling off the layers of spiritual sludge and surrendering them to God.  The process takes patience and God will even help us with that.  Philippians 2:13 states, “ For it is God who works in you to will and to work for his good purpose.”  Not only does God supply us with the tools for transformation, but He will also give us the want to.
         I finished restoring the library table and it is a sight to behold! The rich buttery brown of the bare wood showed off the detailed grain of the tiger-oak. The exquisite filigree on the legs that was barely noticeable until the paint was removed now displayed an intricate design.  It now stands proudly in my husband’s office and serves as a constant reminder of God’s ability to transform us, especially when we do our part—even if it’s challenging.
(From 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise available on or click on the “store” to purchase your copy today.)

~From LIVE IN LOVE retreat topic
With Valentine’s Day happening on February 14, we tend to think of February as the “Love Month.” But I have learned that it’s hard to love someone else until you can adequately love yourself. Jesus instructed,
“LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” so this month we’re going to examine what that look like.

I have the privilege of working everyday in a counseling office with capable caring women who don’t know how valuable they really are.  I see smart, beautiful ladies who don’t realize all they have to offer. I see amazing teenage girls with mind-boggling potential who feel like they don’t look like Heidi Klum or Kate Moss, so they don’t measure up! Many of us never out grow that. Are you like these women?  Do you have difficulty finding something of value in yourself?  Are you your own worst enemy—full of demeaning remarks toward yourself?

You can feel so poorly about yourself you can be rendered ineffective for the kingdom of God!
Society perpetuates self-loathing…
A study done in 1993 revealed that 3 minutes looking at a fashion magazine caused 70% of the girls who did it to feel shameful, guilty and flawed.

Marilyn Monroe, the icon of beauty in the 50s, was a size 12!

Average woman in our society weighs 144 pounds size 12-14. The average model is a size 2.

20 years ago the average model weighed 8 pounds less than the average woman.  Today she weighs 23 % less than average girl.

No wonder 1 in 4 girls in college have an eating disorder!

Satan wants to keep us full of self-doubt. Then we are rendered worthless for the cause of Christ. If we can’t love ourselves, we are certainly can’t muster the gumption to love our neighbors!

There has been a lot of talk in the past few decades about self-esteem. I’m not talking about self-esteem. I’m talking about “JESUS—ESTEEM.” James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of light who does not change like shifting shadows.  Meaning that God isn’t going to wake up in bad mood and take it out on you. He’s not DIRTY HARRY in the sky waiting for you to make a mistake so you can make His eternity! Parents have bad days. Experts say a great deal of our negative self-talk can come from our parents Psychologists call that our “Internalized Parent.” 12 steppers call that your “Committee.” Sometimes our stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from Satan himself with his Satanic Static: You’re such an idiot. Can’t you do anything right? Why can’t you be like_____? Don’t bother; you won’t get it right anyway. Ad nausem
Scripture tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. AND EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD ABOUT US COMES FROM GOD! We are worthwhile because God made us that way! We have to buy into that because we can’t adequately love others until we can adequately love ourselves. If you find yourself a victim of your own self-loathing, the first step out of your stinkin’ thinkin’ is to:

God’s view of you can be found in His
Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Zechariah 2:8 says that you are the apple of the Lord’s eye.

Psalm 40:1-3a 1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Do you ever feel like you’re in a slimy pit--wallowing around in the muck and mire, and you can’t seem to get your footing. He wants you to know that he will lead you out! He will plant your feet on that rock of His salvation and hold you there with his love.

His mercies are new every morning. Look for them.
Wake up every day and instead of saying, “Good Lord, it’s morning; I’ll say, “Good Morning, Lord.” Look for God in the sunrise just for you. In the deer you saw on your way to work. God did that just for you! The leaves that change color in the fall. The parking space the just came available. The money that showed up in the nick of time. Face it: God’s got your back!

Realize that Satan will sell you a case if you’ll buy it!
JOHN 10:10, “Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly!
The NIV Bible says, “Have it to the full.” Satan will try to rob us of our peace but he has no power over us.  I READ THE END OF THE BOOK—We win!!
But we can fall prey to his Satanic static:
“You can’t do anything right.”
“What is wrong with you any way?”
“You can’t do that.  You’re too dumb—fat—old—young—not educated enough—pretty enough—capable enough.”  But IN CHRIST WE ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH!!

1 Peter 5:8 says our enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour-- best he can do is
gum us if we let him because Jesus has pulled his teeth!
If anybody would know how Satan could deceive, it would be Peter.  But as he addresses his fellow Christians he tells us in that same verse to RESIST HIM AND STAND FIRM.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.   
It doesn’t say, he will mosey, or stroll or saunter.  It says he will flee. When you see Satan coming, call on the name of the Lord.  Ask the Lord to send him packin’.

If you need help to loving yourself, then see yourself through God’s eyes, see God through your eyes, and see Satan coming. A healthy dose of Jesus-esteem will free you to love yourself and others!

I received this at a retreat I did last fall, and found it to be worth sharing.

Someone will always be prettier.

Someone will always be smarter.

Some of their houses will be bigger.

Some will drive a better car.

Their children will do better in school.

And their husband will fix more things

around the house.

So let it go, and love you and your circumstances.

Think about it!

The prettiest woman in the world can

have hell in her heart.

The most highly favored woman in your

office may be unable to have children.

The richest woman you know, may have

the car, the house, the clothes, but still be lonely.

And the Word says, “If I have not love,

I am nothing.” So love you.

Love who you are.

Look in the mirror in the morning, smile

and say, “I am blessed.”


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