Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Crud

Y'all, I have the crud. I can't breathe through my nose right now. My throat hurts from breathing through my mouth so much. And I keep sneezing when the Kleenex are in the other room and I have no more with me. I feel horrible. I despise being sick!  And guess what? In the midst of this illness, God had a little message for me. It involved crud too. Oh joy!

Micah 6:8 has been following me around for the last couple of weeks, even in songs (see video below). Last night while I was drinking my tea, I decided to start at Micah 6:1 and read to 6:8. I just had to know the "whole story". I had to see what God was trying to show me in Micah 6:8. In chapter 6 The Lord begins to make his case against Israel. He asked the people what He had done to them. How had He burdened them? (v3) Then He asked them to remember all He had done for them. He wrapped up with asking how they thought they should worship and honor Him. it wasn't with burnt offerings, calves, rams, oil or a firstborn (v4-7). No, none of those thing would do. Why? Because they do not involve true engagement with God. They don't involve the heart.What really struck me in the New King James version was the way God kept saying "O my people". I could just feel His sorrow, His pleading with His people, with me.

So in verse 8, it says, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?." As I read and re-read those eight verses, it struck me that I'm as ungrateful and forgetful as the Israelites. No matter how much God does for me, I always want more or something different. No matter how faithful and consistent, I worry about everything. It really settled in that the same crud the Israelites had in their heart, sits in mine as well.

Just like I'm fighting the crud invading my body right now, making me feel like one big congested nose, I'm fighting the crud in my heart. God clearly wants my devotion to Him, not just to what He does. I don't always give that. But I should. He deserves that and more.

It boils down to this. Even in our trials, those we cause and those that seem to simply befall us, we learn something about God and about ourselves. Whether we choose to act on that information determines the course of our life. I learned something and I plan to act on it. I want the course of my life determined by devotion, honor and obedience to God. How about you?

Be blessed,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unwanted Party Guests

I can't remember if I told you that I have fibromyalgia. Part of the reason I can't remember is probably due to fibro fog (think an episode of being forgetful and slightly ditsy).  Fibromyalgia has a lot of associated symptoms. I don't care for any of them.

Right now mine is out of remission. I know that's a word that associated with cancer but it fits here too. Mine doesn't flare up everyday. Sometimes I go for long stretches without issues. But for the last 3 weeks, my body has been host to unwanted party guests. Pain, fatigue and forgetfulness stop by and throw a party in my body without my permission. Sometimes they bring other "friends" along like GI issues, lack of depth perception, sleeplessness, sleepiness, etc. Sometimes it's a short-lived party. Other times it's like those weeks long fests you read about in the Bible.

I could focus on the really horrible parts of this condition. And sometimes I do because it can wear you down and completely out, literally. It's hard to tell your husband to not hug you today because every part of you hurts. It's frustrating to ask your teenager the same question 6 times because you really can't recall what she just said 45 seconds ago. I could go on but I think you get the picture. I could go there on a hourly basis. But this time around, I'm choosing not to.

I am trying to focus on the joy in it. Yes, I said joy. Every unpleasant situation doesn't have to just be unpleasant and difficult. We can choose to see something good in it. For instance, because I sometimes can't sleep, it allows me to read more good books or write. When I feel the extreme exhaustion coming on, I delegate unfinished tasks or just let it be. That's freedom right there. When I'm hurting I know I have to find other ways to allow my family to connect physically with me. Maybe they can't hug me but they can hold my hand or gently touch my knee. The point is that we have come together to come up with a solution.  I don't know how I'm going to feel from one day to the next, so I focus on the most important stuff and leave the rest. It helps me see what my real priorities are. That's priceless, no?

I'm reminded of Paul. He asked God several times to take the thorn from his flesh. (sometimes I wonder if it was fibromyalgia, because it is definitely a thorn in the flesh) God's answer was "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9). In my own life that's God saying, "Mari, you will depend on Me. You will know that your energy, strength, your everything comes only from Me. I will supply what you need in the face of fibromyalgia and the other medical conditions that accompany it. You will glorify me in your weakened state." He's right. I'd overdo it, over think it and sometimes overlook His hand in my life. But this condition, this horrible situation grounds me in Him. It builds and strengthens my trust in Him. So I say bring it! I will rejoice in it. I will find joy in it. And God's great name will be glorified through it.

Be blessed,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turn It Around Tuesday: It's Only Temporary

It's November. When I was living in Chicago that meant 40 or lower degrees and possibly snow. In North Carolina, where we live now, it's 76 degrees. A girl could get used to this. But. You knew that was coming didn't you? This Indian Summer is temporary. Thursday the high will be 55. Sigh!

A little while ago I wrote something that reminds me of how things are temporary. Warning: this is raw and unedited. Be gentle with me :)

Even though there are dark clouds above, notice that they are moving. They are not here to stay. There is hope of blue sky and sun to come. The wind has uprooted some trash cans and recycle bins, scattering their contents about. But this too is a temporary situation since a clean up crew or resident will return the trash to its rightful place. Even the bits of trash cannot take away from the beauty of new life seen all around. The trees are displaying their new buds in an array of colors, reminiscent of fall. Even those that are bare seem expectant, standing next to their budding counterparts. Though not perfect, what I see is still beautiful because it screams hope.The temporary blighted scene cannot detract from the hope of the beautiful scene that will soon emerge. I can hardly wait.

Hope. When things are going bad, remember they are only temporary. There is hope in a change. When you can't seem to get it right, remember it is only temporary. Situations and circumstances are temporary. They ebb and flow. They change. Temporary. Sometimes we like the change. Sometimes we don't. Either way, we know at some point, change is coming. That's hope life works.

But there is one thing we can count on to be permanent and full of hope. God.

"For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." (Malachi 3:6 NKJV)

"And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16 NKJV)

"For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD endures forever" (Psalm 117:2 NKJV)

I could go on and on. But it all begins and ends with this fact. Life here on earth is full of the temporary. Our souls long for permanency. The only way to satisfy that longing is to fill it with the best. And the best is God. If you don't know Him, have a relationship with Him or seek Him daily, start today.

Blessings to you all,


Friday, November 11, 2011

Frank Friday : Family Dinner

Tonight we went out to a local Mexican restaurant for family dinner. We started this a while back as a way to spend some time together as a family. It sounded like a great idea at the time. However, we had some rough outings. Somehow the family dinners (and even family lunches on occasion) often devolved into arguments and hurt feelings. I can't even explain to you why this happened so often. So we stopped doing them.

But this week my oldest teenage beauty decided she wanted to do family dinner again. I was shocked because she was the one who said we needed to never go out again as a family. OUCH!  Despite that, we all agreed to give it one more try. And we really meant just one more try. One.

We had a rough start. I got hungry and then she got hungry and we hadn't left the house yet. I started making my "Y'all know how I get when I'm hungry" comments. She started making her usual "I'm irritated" comments. My husband and my youngest teenage beauty were oblivious as usual. (And I say that with love). I finally said, "Let's not start. We need to try to make this a nice outing and get along for a change." That didn't go over well. I believe some comments were made by a certain teenager about not being blamed for this. I decided not to acknowledge said comments and a few minutes later we were all on our way for some tasty food and family togetherness.

The food was good. We had some easy conversation and a few laughs.  Aside from a few reminders to put away cell phones and some complaining from a certain picky person about their food (as usual), it was actually a good time. Now mind you, dinner was fairly quick and we were home in short order. I was tempted to feel a bit cheated because it was such a short evening, but then a verse came to me.  "A wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands." (Proverbs 14:1 NIV). So I could take a successful, albeit short family outing and build on that, or I could complain and destroy it all. I could almost hear Monty Hall from "let's Make a Deal" saying "Will it be Door #1 or Door #2?" (If you're too young to know about Monty or Let's Make a Deal...just go with me here).

I chose Door #1. I'd rather be a builder than destroyer. So I said, "Well that turned out well. We'll have to try this again soon." No one said no, so I guess we're on for another family dinner soon. I'll keep you posted on how it goes :) Meanwhile, all I can say is:

Thank you God for your Word that instructs and lifts up.

Blessings to you all,


Friday, September 23, 2011

Frank Friday - Jacob's Not The Only Wrestler

If you were alive earlier this week an had any access to the news, you hear about Troy Davis. This post is not specifically about him. Rather it is about a struggle I had with God as a result of that story. It's about a switch that was flipped in my heart. I hope it ignites something in yours.

I was drawn into the news reports about the Supreme Court deciding if they would give Troy Davis a stay. I watched on an off until they finally came out and gave his time of death. That really did me in. Not so much because I was sad about it, but because it really brought home to me the concept of God's sovereignty.

Only God, Troy Davis and Office MacPhail know if Troy Davis was guilty. That is a fact. The other fact is that regardless of guilt or innocence, on Septamber 21, 2011, Troy Davis lost his life. After hearing he was dead, I felt compelled to pray.

"God, you are the only one we can talk to that knows the truth, either way. In my head I say if he was innocent, it feels so tragic that he died for something he didn't do. But, if he was guilty, then justice was served. But we, who are left here, witnessing and experiencing this, don't know which is true. People who believe he was innocent will question why you would let this happen. And they will question why you did not answer their prayers. But if he was innocent then your answer to their prayers for his life to be spared was no. And we never like the answer no without some explanation. But in Your sovereignty, you don't have to answer. Not everyone can deal with that. Now, those who believe he was guilty will ask why you let this thing drag on for so long. And I know you have your reasons. I don't feel strongly either way about his guilt or innocence. I just sit in both awe and confusion as I try to comprehend an incomprehensible God. I can understand a little bit about how Jacob felt wrestling with you that night in Peniel (Genesis 32:23-32). And as I try to lay my head on a pillow and sleep tonight, I pray I make my peace with my struggle."

I tried to sleep, but I was struggling. There were so many questions like, "Who are we to decide who lives or dies?" That's God's job isn't it. And that goes for murderers and the justice system alike. "How do I as a Christian answer people with their own "why" questions about You Heavenly Father?" Just on and on it went.

Finally my husband asked me what was wrong because I was tossing, turning, sighing and crying. literally. I tried to explain as best I could what I was struggling with. Bless his heart, he understood. I finally said, "You know what? I am ready for Jesus to come get his children. This place we live in is so messed up and I'm just ready to go home. Come Lord Jesus Come. Your daughter anxiously awaits the Rapture"

He proceeded to tell me that he had so much stuff he still wanted to do, that he wasn't ready for it. The number one item on his list? He hadn't led anyone to a saving knowledge of Christ yet. Wow!

"So okay", I thought, "get busy so Jesus can come and He take that person with us." I mean I really was longing for heaven.

He then proceeded to ask me this question: "Don't you want to see our girls grow up and do well in life?"

Without one second of hesitation I said, "If I had to choose between them dealing with this increasingly immoral, increasingly hostile toward Christians and Christianity world we live in and them being caught up in the skies with all other believers and ushered into God's presence forever, I choose heaven. There is nothing here better than heaven. Nothing."


And then it hit me. I desire the eternal. And I am anxious for the rapture. But until then, while I'm here on this sphere called Earth, I need to keep that eternal perspective about everything. I need to take that fire for eternity (heaven) and use it in my everyday life until Jesus does come for His children. I've had head knowledge of it for a long time. But that night, it became heart knowledge. And that is a wonderful blessing. I pray I never let it fade.

Blessings to you all,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turn It Around Tuesday - Don't Worry

Do you ever worry? I do. In fact, I worry a lot more than I'd like to. The funny (or not so funny) thing about it is that it's a fruitless activity. You don't feel better and usually no solution is devised. How's that for a colossal waste of time. I like to get something out of my activities. As I've thought about it, I don't reap one benefit from worry. And I bet you don't either. It's a crying shame.

But I've got a solution for this. When you meditate you think long and hard on something. You turn it over in your mind and maybe even in your heart. Isn't that what you do when you worry? You keep thinking about the thing. You turn it over in your mind. It messes with your heart. You just can't seem to let it go and it's in no hurry to leave you either.

Instead of worrying, meditate. But don't just meditate on any old thing. Instead, memorize scripture, also known as meditating on God's Word. When I memorize scripture I don't just learn the words. I think about what they mean to me. I say the verse over and over, adding emphasis in different places to see what feels right and will help me recall it later. I think about how I can apply it to my life or how it applies already. I'm  not able to let it go and it's in no hurry to leave me. At the end I haven't wasted my time. I feel closer to God. I have something to grasp when I need just the right word or thought.

Way back in the Old Testament we're told about meditating on God's Word. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 it tells us that we should have God's words in our hearts. We should teach them to our children, talk about them when we're sitting down, walking, lying down and waking up.

Well then.

That pretty much says meditate on the Word all the time.

I'd much rather meditate on some scripture that will keep me calm and sane during a rough time than sit around and meditate on the how comes,what ifs and if thens. So the next time I find myself beginning to worry, I'll turn my thoughts to the Word. How about you? Are you willing to turn your worrying into meditating? Try it. I think you'll like it!

Blessings to you all,


Friday, September 16, 2011

Frank Friday - I'm Off Duty

If you had ever asked my daughters what my husband says when I ask him how he liked dinner, they'll tell you that he  always says "It was alright." That's it. No "it stank" or "it was good" or anything like that. He just says, "It was alright." Honestly, it offended me. So did I try to probe him to see how it could be better? Of course not. That would be the mature, logical thing to do. And I was never feeling that kind of way. In fact, I'll go even further than that. When he would offer constructive criticism, I got mad. I never listened so I could incorporate the things he was telling me. Oh no! Again, that would require maturity, logic and humility. And again, I was never feeling that kind of way. (Not that I'm proud of that. I'm not. I'm just being honest about my junk)

But then......

If you read this post, you'll know I'm committed to deepening my relationship with God. I just need more of His presence in my life. See the previous paragraph for an example of why that's true. There's a teeny, tiny catch to that commitment. Okay, maybe it's not so teeny or tiny. The more of God's presence I feel in my life, the more it changes me.  That transforming presence made me care more about my husband's meals. That's a big deal because my husband is picky. Very, very picky. When he says "I'm hard to cook for aren't I?" I don't bother to respond. It's a rhetorical question!

Despite that, I started to really take my time cooking everything instead of rushing through dinner just so I could say I was done. I started paying attention to those little details. You know, the ones he had tried to tell me about a million times. The ones I ignored a million and one times. But I wasn't doing that anymore. Then a funny thing happened. Well two funny things. One, I enjoyed cooking more. Maybe it's because I was doing it out of love instead of duty. Just maybe. The second thing, that is now a common occurrence, is that he complimented me. He said, "Are you cooking my meals with lots of love? I'm asking because this food is so very good." I almost passed out.

I figured it was a one time "slip up". But the next day he said "That was great. Thanks for cooking.  Do you want me to help with dishes?" Again, I thought the room might be spinning. It wasn't. It was just my head and heart realizing that I should have done this much sooner. I can't change the past, but I can sure keep the present in good shape.

I'm now evaluating other things that over time, I've started doing with only a sense of duty. I want to replace that with loving purpose. My family is not a duty. It's a privilege. And I plan on treating them that way in every area I possibly can. I wonder if they'll start thinking the room is spinning?

How about you? Is there something you've started doing just to check it off your list? Is there something that you could do from the love in your heart instead of out of duty? Go ahead, go off duty. I dare you.

Blessings to you all,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turn It Around Tuesday - When The Rain Is Pouring

These last few weeks have been quite a ride. Unfortunately, I don't mean that in a fun, exhilarating way. First, my cousin had a stroke and now has paralysis on the right side of his body. Last week my uncle had a stroke. Yesterday my mom called to tell me that one of my cousins was killed. A bullet came through the window, striking and killing him. There are other smaller things that have occurred but nothing like the "big three". I almost cringe when the caller ID announces it's my mom, because I'm dreading more bad news.

This torrent of discouraging news could have shaken my faith. I could have gotten angry with God. I could have thrown up my hands and said, "That's it. I'm tired of this. I quit!" I've been tempted to do that a time or two or thirty in my life. But this time I wasn't there. That wasn't in me. (Right here is where we can give God a clap offering!) Are you wondering why it wasn't in me? Great, because I'm going to tell you why.

I've accepted a church-wide challenge from my pastor to "practice God's presence" at least five minutes every day. In other words, sit in stillness and quiet for at least five minutes thinking on, waiting for and anticipating God's presence and hopefully at some of these sessions, a message from God. This isn't a new concept for me. The problem is that I've never consistently done it. But now I am determined. Why now? Now, because I am desperate to grow closer to God. Now, because it's just time to further solidify my relationship with Jesus.

I read something recently by C.S.Lewis that said we need to become dyed and not painted. I'm afraid all these years I've been painted. Paint fades, chips and peels. That's how I've felt recently. Temporary is no longer good enough. I want permanency. So I'm ready for my dye job. Ever dyed your hair? The dye has to sit for a good little while to actually "take". So I'm going to sit each day for God's presence to "take" in my life. I'm excited about that.

So when that rain came pouring down in the form of bad news after bad news, issue after issue, there was God. In my time of quiet and even throughout my busy days, He spoke two things to me.

  1. I'm still in control. You might not understand what I'm doing. And I know that frustrates you. But trust me. I've always been in control. I'm in control now. I'll be in control in the future. That's never going to change. Let me be me and you simply trust me. I'll never fail you. Never.
  2. Your days were numbered before you were born. I know the day I will call you home heaven. You don't know if that day will come now or ten years from now. Consider each day a gift from me. Unwrap it and choose how you will use it.
Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom."  That is my prayer each day now. Instead of turning my thoughts to worry and anger over problems, issues, situations and circumstances, I now chose to turn my thoughts to God and how what He's doing can teach my something. Yes, even the things I don't like. Even the things that hurt. Especially the things I don't understand. I'm not perfect with it yet. Never will be. But I choose to keep practicing His presence and His way of life for me. Will you join me? I promise it will change your life in the most marvelous way!

Blessings to you all,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FIRST Tour: Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Catherine Miller, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and a mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris’ infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry. Through God’s grace they have inspired thousands of couples and have returned to full-time ministry where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at LifeChurch.tv.

Visit the author's website.


Life changed forever for Cindy Beall when her husband, a respected pastor, confessed to pornography addiction and numerous affairs. Through her remarkable story and with biblical, practical insight, Cindy helps husbands and wives grieve, heal, as they trust God’s power to resurrect something new out of the debris of betrayal.

Foreword by Craig Groeschel, bestselling author and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943153
ISBN-13: 978-0736943154


When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

You never forget the day that changes your life forever. The day that turns your heart and your family upside down. But when that day begins, you don’t realize it’s anything out of the ordinary.

It was February 19, 2002, and my husband of nine years, Chris, and I were just getting settled into our new home in Edmond, Oklahoma. He had come out six weeks earlier on his own to begin his ministry with LifeChurch.tv as the worship pastor of the Edmond Campus. I had stayed behind in Memphis to wrap up the sale of our home there. But now we and our almost three-year-old son, Noah, were happily back together under one roof.

On this morning, while Chris was at the church, I was doing the usual stuff that nesters do. I unpacked boxes, fought with bubble wrap, and put away our belongings in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the rest of the house. I was enjoying the process and thought how good it was to prepare our new home for this new life we had prayed about so fervently.

And then Chris came home unexpectedly at 9:30.

I was about to ask why he was back from work so soon, but the worried expression on his face stopped me from saying anything. He asked if we could talk. The request sounded so formal and distant that my heart raced as I quickly and silently got Noah settled in front of our TV with a Blue’s Clues video and inched my way along a narrow path around stacks of boxes and toward Chris. My mind was spinning in anticipation of what might come out of his mouth.

Had one of our parents died or been in an accident? Had the church changed their mind about adding Chris to the staff?

Chris motioned me to the newly purchased sofa, and we sat down together. I tried to look into his handsome green eyes for reassurance. But those amazing, clear eyes that had captivated me the day we met years before were now downcast. I waited for him to reassure me that all was well in this new life. But instead of words of comfort, the man I had prayed for as a young woman, long before I knew him, was about to share news that would alter the course of our lives in unimaginable ways.

The Prayers of a Young Woman

I first prayed for my future husband while I was serving as a summer missionary on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Although this ministry experience would become one of the best challenges and inspirations in my life and faith journey, the day I had to say goodbye to my mom at the Austin, Texas, airport was an unhappy one. The cute denim jumper with the cheery sailor collar I wore did little to dress up my sadness at having to leave her and my home to be 1200 miles away for 11 weeks. It felt like a world and a lifetime apart.

The first couple of weeks proved to be difficult. My tear-stained cheeks initially put a damper on the adventure. But eventually I understood that I needed this time to grow up and learn to rely on God.

And I did.

I learned a lot about the woman I would become. I not only learned to lean on God but also discovered that I had a voice and something to say and something worth sharing. I learned that not all things make sense when you follow Christ. And I realized it’s okay to not have an answer for everything. In fact, it’s actually more authentic and appealing when you don’t.

In the midst of my time of learning about God, about others, and most definitely about myself, I had a longing in my heart for true love. The kind of love that would lead me to say to someone special, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And I wasn’t the type of girl who had to have a boyfriend on her arm at all times. For one thing, I was taller than most guys my age. This is hardly an asset for a young girl’s dating potential. I also possessed an independent spirit, and I liked the freedom I was experiencing during this stage of life.

Still, this longing for true love grew. I would be turning 21 soon, and although there isn’t a guideline or time frame that says young women should fall in love by this age, I definitely wouldn’t have pushed the opportunity away. If       it was the right guy, you understand. My right guy.

One particular July night during that summer mission, I stared out at the beautiful mountains bathed in sunset’s glow and began praying for others and for my future husband. At that moment, the idea popped into my head—thank You, Holy Spirit—that maybe I should pray for my husband’s salvation. So I did.

I prayed that my future husband would have the character, personality, talents, passions, and even the looks that matched up with the list I made about the man of my dreams. I didn’t think I was asking for much. Just the moon, the stars, and everything in between. Why not, right?

I first saw Chris Beall at a barn dance in November 1991. We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. He wasn’t the best dresser, nor did he have a model-perfect smile, but he held my gaze with those intoxicating green eyes. I was smitten almost immediately.


It would be a few more months before anything actually began between us. He started frequenting the Baptist Student Union on our campus for our Wednesday lunches. Within a few weeks, at one of those lunches, he asked me for a dinner date the following Monday. I didn’t have to agonize with anticipation for five days. Instead, he came to my church on Sunday and invited me out to lunch with a group of friends. There was so much excitement and “I can’t believe this is really happening” in the air that by Sunday evening, we found ourselves sitting on the balcony of my apartment eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and talking about life, family, and mostly about Jesus. And I found out something special about Chris that evening: He’d been a Christ follower for less than a year, and the date that he gave his life to Christ was July 7, 1991—the summer that the Holy Spirit led me to pray for my future husband’s salvation.

Big sigh.

I knew with every part of my being that Chris Beall was the one for me. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I knew it in my knower and felt it in my feeler. But what I didn’t know was that the very next day he made a down payment on my wedding ring.

Ten months later, on January 9, 1993, we became husband and wife.

We were so madly in love with Jesus and each other that we were certain we’d conquer it all. We never would have guessed that the road we’d travel together over the course of our marriage would be anything but bliss.

Love was completely blind in our case. It’s a good thing, because little did I know that around year nine, we’d get our sight back.


I sat down next to Chris on our new couch, and as he began speaking, my throat went dry and my eyes stung with hot tears. Even though shock was making it hard for my mind to make sense of the words and phrases and sentences, my heart and soul took it all in with great sorrow. Chris wasn’t communicating the news that someone we loved was hurt. He was confessing that he, the person I loved most in the world, had hurt and betrayed me in the deepest way.

Chris had been unfaithful.

I was now trembling head to foot as my mind continued to spin with disbelief. I felt nauseous as the confession continued. He had been unfaithful with more than one woman. In fact, he had been with many women in many different places over the course of the past two and a half years.

While I listened, the very real physical pain of a heart breaking took me by surprise. And as I struggled to keep breathing, Chris forced himself to speak the last part of his confession through trembling lips: One of the women was pregnant, and he was pretty sure the baby was his child.

He kept his eyes on me. He didn’t look away for a minute, even when my face clearly changed. His eyes were tender, and I could tell he was devastated by watching me. He didn’t reach out for me right away. He seemed to be in shock that he was actually confessing. Then, as the reality set in of what his news was doing to my heart, he began to cry.

Many angry thoughts could have rushed through my mind at that point, but the unfathomable absurdity of this surreal, frozen moment in time triggered one thought over and over, “You have got to be kidding me!”

He was definitely not kidding.

He sat there just waiting for me to respond. I was stunned and couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I sifted through emotions and terms for emotions. It was none of them specifically and all of them collectively. Bewildered. Stunned. Shocked. Overwhelmed. Befuddled. Floored. Jolted. Nauseated. Sickened. Disturbed. Crushed. Dismayed. Paralyzed.

Ticked off. And that’s putting it nicely.

The truth is that I still can’t tell you to this day how I felt in those first few moments. What I can tell you is that I was keenly aware that my world as I knew it was forever changed. I woke up that morning a relatively comfortable housewife and stay-at-home mom, and within a couple of hours I became a seriously damaged woman with a marriage on the brink of destruction.

We had both made vows to forsake all others for the rest of our lives. I had kept my vow. He had not. Even when the distance between us grew, I kept mine. He had not. Even when other men showed interest in me, I kept mine. He had not. Even when days came where I didn’t even want to spend time with him, I kept mine. He had not.

When the Walls Fall Down

I was deeply wounded by the truth about the lies that poured from my loved one that morning. I ached not only for me but also for the new church that had hired and embraced Chris. For our son. For our families. For our friends. As the walls of the life we had built came tumbling down, hard realization after hard realization, I felt them crush the foundations of our shared life and the dreams of this new chapter we were entering.

Can you relate to that kind of letdown? Destruction? Betrayal? When the walls have fallen down with such force that you could not breathe beneath the pressure of the debris or see beyond the dust of the rubble?

My spirit was broken that morning. My heart was shattered. Thoughts of moving forward in life or taking positive action would have sounded absurd had anyone been there to suggest them. I could barely conceive of moving my body from that place on the couch. In fact, the only reason I was able to stand up and move was that the impulse to step away from Chris was so strong. I wanted to be as removed from him physically as I felt from him emotionally in that moment. I had never, ever felt so alone.

If you are feeling alone, know that I am here to journey with you, and so is God. He already desires to make you whole, even as the pieces of your known existence seem to be scattered to every corner of the universe. If the walls have tumbled and you cannot recognize truth from lies in the remains, know that God’s grace and power to transform your life are right there in the midst of the debris.

Hold on to your belief in redemption.

I kept mine. Please keep yours as we walk together toward healing.

Your Healing Journey

Has your spouse ever caught you off guard with a heartbreaking confession? If so, what was your initial response?

Have you ever had to make a confession that you knew would break your loved one’s heart? What finally helped you break your cycle of lies?

Have you ever received news that altered your life in a dramatic way? What was it, and how did you handle it? If you are able, take yourself back there mentally and allow God to bring healing as you grieve what you lost and as you journey through this book.

What happens when we bottle up our emotions and choose not to deal with them? Do you know people who do this ? Has this been you? How can you become more able to share or express your emotions?

Discuss ways you can remain committed to your marriage even when you don’t feel like it or when circumstances have caused a lack of connection between you and your spouse.

There were many things I liked about this book. First, it did not try to make it seem like, after infidelity or other reason for broken trust, that things would just miraculously be better. Cindy (and her husband) were very transparent, which is critical when dealing with such a volatile and life-changing topic.

I also appreciated the stories from other couples. These weren't people in the spotlight like Cindy and her husband, which added that much more reality and "hitting home".

Even though Cindy's story was about infidelity, the process she went through could be the same when trust is broken in other ways. It can also be applicable to other relationships where trust can be broken such as a parent/child relationship or a friendship. It's truly a practical book

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hanging Out at Go Ask Mom

I'm hanging out at WRAL.com today at the Go Ask Mom blog :)

Stop by and visit: http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/goaskmom/blogpost/9896559/

Saturday, June 18, 2011

For This Season

For this season in my life...this is my song. Thank you Father for the ministry of song! Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Post: Margaret (Peggy) Fieland

Hi all! Today we are welcoming guest blogger Margaret Fieland to the blog. Margaret, or Peggy as I call her, was born and raised  in New York City. She is the daughter  of a painter, the mother of three grown sons and an accomplished flute and piccolo player. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. She lives in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and seven dogs.

Today we are going to get a lesson in creating characters. Enjoy!!

Creating Characters

I'm a way back sci fi fan, but until I started planning "Relocated " last fall, I'd never written any, so partly to get myself past my "sci fi" block, I decided to write a sci fi novel for 2010 NANO.

In my YA sci fi, "Relocated," the main character, 14 year old Raketh (Keth) Frey is an Aleyni/human mix. Aleynis are dark skinned, gray eyed, aliens with psi abilities. In the Terran Federation, use of psi is illegal, and relations between the Aleyni and the Terran Federation are strained at best.

Why dark skin? Well, I wanted my aliens to look distinctive, and I liked the idea of casting against type and making the dark skinned guys the good guys. Plus that's just how they looked in my head.

I started thinking about the Aleyni and their society long before I decided to write the book. The Aleyni had the ability to mind speak and could tell truth from lies. Their society worked on the basis of shared responsibility rather than laws and procedures. Relationships usually involved four persons, rather than two, and two was considered unstable. The relationships involved a fair amount of same-sex interaction.

I've recently completed the second book in the series, in which Keth is four years older. I hadn't yet sent out the first book, so I was able to make a couple of tweaks to make the two hang together.

I did recently discover a pretty cool piece of writing software, character writer. Among other things, it generates descriptions based on enneagrams .It's expensive (otherwise I'd buy it), but I did download the free version and have found it useful. The descriptions are a starting point for me.

I did more up-front work on my characters (the new ones especially), character arc, plot points, and the like for the second book, and I found it helpful. One of the results was a first chapter in the second book that I really like.

One thing that happens for me is that as I write, my characters and their motivations become clearer. For example, in the second book, one of the characters, Brad, is involved with Keth's grandfather, Ardaval. Ardaval has to ask a favor of Imarin, one of three rolor'in who left him.

As far as labels can translate in a sci fi novel or anywhere else for that matter, in my head Brad is gay, Ardaval and Imarin are bisexual, as is Nidrani, the remaining woman from Arda's original foursome (the other woman died). At the end Arda, Brad, Imarin and Nidrani end up together.

Everyone's process is different. While I now do far more pre-planning, laying out of plot points and generating character descriptions than I ever used to, at bottom, I'm a "discover as you go" kind of writer, in that my characters and their motivations, and a great deal of the finer points of the plot, reveals itself to me as I write.

I've written a good bit of story about the secondary characters, pretty much all in third person -- the book itself is in first, from Keth's point of view. I've written about 5000 words of Brad's story, words that may very well never see the light of day, and are not intended to be part of the book. I could claim I do it to discover my characters, but in actuality I simply enjoy it, and sometimes it's the only way to reclaim some of the real estate in my head.

Keth's father, Gavin, is Ardaval's son by a Terran woman. One of the points in the first book that had bothered me was whether or not Ardaval had been involved in a relationship when Gavin showed up at his door (Gavin was about 18 at the time). This takes place before the action of the first book, and rates a couple of sentences in chapter two of the first book.

When I started writing the second book I ended up creating Imarin and Nidrani and in the process, answered this question. I went back and inserted a line or two about Ardaval's partners having left him (rather than died), in the first book, but otherwise they're not mentioned.

At the end of the second book, Ardaval, Imarin, Nidrani, and Brad end up together. When I wrote about the first night the four spend together (NOT for the book), I discovered much to my surprise, that Brad did end up responding to Nidrani. I went back and rewrote a couple of sentences in the book as a result.

Margaret Fieland lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston. You can visit her website and blog, http://www.margaretfieland.com/

To hear from another great writer, stop by Robert Medak's blog tomorrow and meet Kathy Stemke. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wrestling Match

Have no fear. I'm not going to be discussing WWE or WWF or whatever wrestling "organizations" exist these days. Although, there was a time eons ago that I used to watch "professional" wrestling with my mom. Not sure why she was into that, or why I got into it, but we bonded over many a Von Erich match. Don't judge.


This weekend I spent some time wrestling with God. You see, there are some things in my life that are not as I would like. There were some things that happened last week that I'd really wish hadn't. There are some plans I had for the summer that God effectively shut the door on. Let me just tell you, one of them really broke my heart. I can almost feel the physical pain. Did I mention that it really broke my heart?  It did. And so, I got a little down. Okay, a lot down.

My husband has a knack for knowing when I'm wrestling with God. On Sunday he asked if I was having a "want to cry about it day". Why, yes, yes I am I responded. He thought laying down and resting might cure me. As much as I appreciate his efforts to help and console me, I knew that wasn't the solution. I needed to go to the source. And that meant a wrestling match.

I went over to my footstool, plopped my pillow on it and started to pray. And cry. See, this is nothing like professional wrestling. This is the "get down on your knees and beg God to help you be content" kind of wrestling. It's the "ask God why you can never seem to maintain your joy" kind of fight. This is the "asking God why he can't won't show you the "better plan" He has so at least you can feel better" kind of wrestling. It is the "list everything you see wrong with your life at this valley moment" kind of fight.

This, my friends, is what faith is about. It is following God no matter what. Even when we don't want to. Even when it doesn't make sense. Even when we feel justified in being a Jonah. Even when we're mad at God.

Even then, we go to Him. Because only He can make sense of it. Only He can help us walk through it even when it doesn't make sense. Make no mistake. It's not easy. That's the part I often struggle with. I want it to be simple to follow and trust. I want it to be easy to be content. It's not. At least not for me. I know I am tremendously blessed. There are so many things for which I am grateful. But contentment and complete trust in God is still not easy for me. But at the end of the day, as I lay my head on my pillow, I know that God is ready for our next wrestling match. And I think that's a good thing. Because when I stop wrestling with Him, it means I've given up and walked away from my faith. And that will never do. I'd rather wrestle like Jacob did  (Genesis 32:22-32) and walk away with a limp. At least I'll still be walking with God.


How about you? Have you ever wrestled with God? Tell me about it.

As always, blessings to you!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Makeover - After Shot

Stop by WRAL.com's Go Ask Mom blog to see the final product of my makeover. Then pop back over here and let me know what you think :) Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Makeover - Before Shot and Interview

I recently received a makeover courtesy of  the WRAL.com Go Ask Mom Blog. My before interview with the editor, Sarah Hall is up on the blog. Stop by and watch. Tomorrow, the after shot will be posted. Be sure to also stop by later in the week if you are local to me and enter for a chance to win your own makeover.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest Donna McDine

Happy Saturday! Today I welcome Donna McDine to the blog.  Who is Donna you ask?

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications, and her first book, The Golden Pathway, was published through Guardian Angel Publishing as well as her second book, The Hockey Agony. McDine’s interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Ms. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center.

Quite the resume! Today Donna is going to teach us a little bit about the Underground Railroad.

Code Words Were Essential in Conducting the Underground Railroad
By Donna M. McDine

The Underground Railroad was a pivotal time in American history. The bravery and determination of those opposed to slavery is one to admire and emulate. To take the time out to have compassion and empathy of others’ plights will certainly bring a greater understanding of each other. Beyond the bravery, the organizing of the Underground Railroad came to fruition through the use of code words. By utilizing code words it assured that those for slavery would not “catch-on” to the escape routes and intentions of the slaves to achieve freedom.
Some of the most common code words:
Abolitionist – a person who demanded immediate emancipation of slaves.
Agent – a person who coordinated the course of escape.
Bundles of wood – escaping slaves to be expected.
Conductors – the people that helped the slaves along the Underground Railroad.
Drinking Gourd – Big Dipper and the North Star, which aided the slaves in their nighttime travels to ensure they were traveling in the correct direction.
Forwarding – the transportation of salves from one station to the next.
Freight or Packages – the slaves were considered passengers or cargo.
Heaven – referred to Canada because once there freedom was imminent.
Load of Potatoes – slaves hidden in wagons under farm produce.
Moses – Harriet Tubman, a conductor who was instrumental in aiding slaves to freedom.
Quakers – white folks that did not believe in slavery.
River Jordan – The Mississippi River or the Ohio River.
Shepherds – people who escorted slaves from one station to the next.
Station – place of safety, a safe house.
Station Master – the keeper of a safe house.
Stockholder – one who donated items to the running of the Underground Railroad.
The use of code phrases was also instrumental in communicating along the Underground Railroad:
“A friend of a friend sent me” – this statement indicates that the slave was sent by the Underground Railroad network.
“Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus” – a phrase from a spiritual hymn to alert other slaves an escape attempt would occur soon.
“The dead trees will show you the way” – a telling sign that moss grows on the north side of dead trees, hence providing direction.
“The river bank makes a mighty good road” – since dogs cannot follow a human’s scent through water this is the best way to travel.
“The river ends between two hills” – visual directions to the Ohio River.
“The wind blows from the South today” – this signals the workers on the Underground Railroad that fugitive slaves were in the area.
“When the sun comes back and the first quail calls” – early spring was the best time to escape via the Underground Railroad.

The wealth of information on the Underground Railroad is immense. Interested in learning more, I offer the following resources to get you started:

Carson, Mary Kay. The Underground Railroad for Kids: From Slavery to Freedom. Chicago Review Press, January 2005.

Afrolumens Project, Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone.
“Names Used for Enslaved People in Pennsylvania”

Oracle Education Foundation – The Think Quest Library.
“Underground Railroad, The Fight to End Slavery – Timeline”

Please feel free to visit me at:
Follow me at:
Please visit Robert Medak's blog tomorrow to meet another great author, Shelby Patrick!