Clique Christian Quotes: How is Jesus Enough?

I’m the first to say that I don’t like most clique Christian quotes thrown at hurting people in an effort to “help” them.

“Jesus is enough” to someone who’s lonely.

“You’ll see him again one day” to some one who’s grieving a death or miscarriage.

“Be content” to a mother who desperately needs a bigger house.

Or, the famous “Repent of your lack of joy” when tears keep flowing for “too long”.

But what is too long, and why is healing so often delayed?

I’d love to take a look inside the world of sorrow, where joy is a window carved into dark walls, feeling far out of reach to someone whose world has gone up in flames hot enough for smoke to keep billowing into the atmosphere for months and years, affecting the very air they breathe on a daily basis.

I’d love to talk with the person who wakes in despair no matter the amount of Bible verses you tell yourself to believe.

And I’d love to address the sudden frustration you may experience when others speak into your situation with no experience and a few pat quotes to “get you moving along to healing”.

You might feel guilty that you’re not acquainted with the reality imposed on you by those verses. To top it off, you may feel angry by another assuming you needed to hear words that seem so far out of reach. OR, you may feel only despair because you don’t know how to experience what they’re talking about.

I’m here to tell you that those words are not out of reach, and your right as a child of God is to experience them in the deepest recesses of your soul.

Hope, life, healing, and actual joy—how does that sound?!

I’d like to share a few things on how to get there, if that’s okay. Because I absolutely know how you’re feeling right now, and I’d love to breathe hope into you as others did into me.

1. The Christian church often denies humanity in its efforts to attain spirituality.

How about this, instead?

Rather than being in denial of our humanity, we invite Jesus into our humanity.

We weren’t created to deny the truth of our loneliness; we were made to invite Jesus into our loneliness.

We weren’t asked to stuff grief into some inner box while we paste on a “holy” smile at church; we were invited to watch Jesus weep with us, and find comfort in mutual tears. Remember how He wept with Mary and Martha, standing by the tomb before calling Lazarus from the dead?

And in our quest for contentment, we weren’t told to deny that we have needs; rather, Jesus invites us to ASK Him for what we need.

Rather than push our needs away, we are invited to bring Jesus into those needs.

2. Forcing needs to the back burner deprives us of bringing Jesus to the forefront of our lives.

I don’t have much more to say except that the shift in thinking is vital to healing.

Spiritualizing or denying needs makes us more needy because we lock Jesus out when we deny how much we need Him IN.

Acknowledging our grief, loneliness, pain makes us fully aware that we need Jesus to be with us.

This brings us to one of those clique quotes: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I beg to disagree! My life was far too much for me to handle. I recognized that as joy threatened to disappear entirely. I begged and asked, cried and prayed—and God came with His beautiful, beautiful presence inside of me.

There are no words for the beautiful presence of Jesus. When you experience Him, there is no one Who could take His presence. Then, when you’re tempted with something, you’ll turn away because your greatest fear is no longer deprivation, it is living without the presence of God.

God replaces deprivation with invitation.

For several years, I asked God for joy. Day spun onto weary day as I did the next thing, trying to find the presence of God to be enough. And as I recognized that I was not enough, I was forced to lean so hard on Jesus, my weight on Him proving that He wouldn’t crash along with everything else in my life. That fact alone drew me to His heart more, more, and more until I was blown away by His good, good presence within me.

The other day I did a short video on finding joy in plan B. I wished I could have explained the hope I felt after living with debilitating grief.

Because when I speak about HEALING, I am speaking about GRIEF.

Grief invites Grace.

Loneliness invites company.

Pain invites Healing.

Let me ask you this: Why can people like Joni Erickson Tada find abundant life?

Because she learned to reckon with a paralyzed body and face her grief over it. Something devastating led her to look to Some One for deliverance.

He did it for me; He did it for her; and He will do it for YOU.

Regaining Emotional Clarity—Eight Steps to Healing (Part 6)

When people reach out to ask what the most helpful things have been for soul-healing, my brain does a spin while my heart pauses.

Healing was long, difficult, and multi-faceted with no assurance I was ever going to get there. Divorce and betrayal so deeply devastated me that I couldn’t know then what I know now.

My sister would tell me, “Sara, you won’t always feel this way. You won’t always be this sad.”

I could smile, yes. But I couldn’t shake that deep despair and dread threatening to engulf me with each waking morning. This lasted, much of the time, for a few years. So I can relate to the person whose spouse has cheated and he or she lives with debilitating despair.

Jesus Christ healed me as only He can do. It was not a simple fix after someone glibly quoted “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Don’t ever do that to a grieving person, by the way.) My healing was long, on-going, and needed to happen from every angle. It came bit by bit, and God was okay with that. But after 3.5 years, I knew it had happened.

The spirit of God touched me at a conference and I knew then that I was free. Weeping on a church floor does something to you. Staying there helplessly, like a child, letting God take your everything while filling you with SOMETHING (rather, SOMEONE), allows the tension to dissipate while your soul sinks into a peace not known by natural circumstances.

To those asking me about healing, I want you to know a few things:

1. God is okay with your process.

Others may think you’re not “spiritual enough” or “surrendered enough” if you continue grieving, but Jesus never said that.

When Lazarus died, Jesus didn’t rush to resurrect Him, though He knew that’s what He would do in the end. Get this, friend—Jesus stood there, weeping when He could have rushed to call Lazarus from the tomb. I believe Jesus wanted Mary and Martha to know He was engaging in their grief.

Isaiah 53:3 calls Him a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”.

One of the first and most important steps to healing from grief is to first engage it honestly. This might look like a day in bed, months where you watch Netflix more than read the inspirational books you used to read, or anything else that helps. A traumatized soul means a weary brain. And a weary brain needs to rest in order to rebuild itself.

Accept your grief, accept your weakness—and be okay with staying there for awhile. Just make sure you invite Jesus to stay there with you. That makes all the difference because He won’t leave you there.

2. Do things you’ve always wanted to do.

Since my divorce I’ve been on my best and longest mountain hikes (with some of the best people), I’ve gone sky-diving and allowed my body to hurl out of a plane two miles in the air, I’ve jumped from 100 foot towers, and learned dancing (which I’ve wanted to do for years).

Stepping out for things you love is vital to healing because it removes trauma from your brain for a short while. Like a shocker, you’re reminded that there are other aspects to life than the part that makes you curl up in a ball, weeping. You get glimpses of hope even if you may not stay there. These small glimpses give you courage to keep going even if despair rolls back in.

Whatever it is that makes you come alive, do it and keep doing it.

3. Engage your anger, but don’t turn into an angry person.

My nature, I am not an angry person. But I had to accept that feeling angry over betrayal was a good thing. I tried various outlets including burning garbage and old furniture, cleaning out all the remaining belongings of the person I was hurt by, and I even tried breaking glass jars one day. Seeing my husband with a teen-aged child did something to me that I can’t describe and I needed outward outlets for the inner pressure. This is not wrong and can be helpful.

But after releasing anger, choose to forgive. Bitterness will only cage your own soul in. You deserve more than to turn into an ugly person because of the ugly someone else threw your way. And I have to say, there are few things as ugly as a bitter woman. I was determined not to turn into one, and I realized I didn’t have to. There was so much good to immerse my soul into, that was more powerful than the one bad thing I could have sunk into.

4. Immerse yourself in a culture of honor.

Simply put, you need people to surround you, be there for you, and call out the best in you during the worst time of your life. My community of friends saved me. They believed in me. They rallied for me. Before, during, and after the divorce they treated me the same—with more honor than I had ever received in my life.

Find yourself friends who lift your soul rather than drag you into more depression. Find friends who know your heart so well that they don’t even need to ask about anything else. Sit with them and let them love you. Go out to dinners with them as you’ve always done. Cry with them and let them weep with you. Whatever you do, make sure you have a community who lifts your soul.

5. Choose forgiveness.

I asked it for years, “God, what does forgiveness look like? What does it feel like? How do I know I’ve forgiven?”

When I realized how much Father God hated what was done to me, I realized how much I could trust Him to take care of what was done to me. Seeing God changes everything. God does not blithely pass by one of His daughters in distress. You will get to stand still and watch Him fight for you.

When you realize you can hand your offender into the hands of God, you realize you’re okay with however God chooses to handle that person.

At that point, any gaps in your feelings become less than the focal point. God has taken over. You’ve chosen forgiveness, you’ve chosen God, and as the years pass by He will take you deeper into that secret place where you know what forgiveness feels like. Until then, trust Him with your lesser feelings as you choose Him for His greater LOVE.

6. Repent and own your mistakes

I remember when a friend reached out with these words, “Sara, you don’t have to be perfect.”

At the time, she knew why she said that more than I knew. I was so devastated by the divorce that I felt like I had to be perfect. Slowly, I realized no one can possibly be perfect and it was not only okay for me to acknowledge my imperfections; it was also important. I owned my mistakes in life without taking ownership for the divorce.

This set my soul free from the bondage of needing to be a perfect woman. I realized it was impossible, and it was fully okay to be human and to verbalize areas of growth that needed to happen in my life while in no way agreeing to or owning the divorce. (Of course I agreed to it later as the affair became obvious and ongoing).

For everyone in every season of life, a God-awareness of personal need is a gift. I learned to bask in the love of Jesus and talk to Him about all of it, telling Him I was sorry for any and every failure, and asking Him to help me change. Here, I learned how very much He loved me and was with me even when I wasn’t perfect. What a gift this became to my soul!

7. Stay on track.

In times of grief it is easier to lose sight of who we are, but so important to stay on track. If you’re a faithful, God fearing woman, keep right on being one. If you have children, keep prioritizing them. Remind yourself that keeping your home clean, serving your children, getting out of bed when it’s hard to do so–all of it will pay off and will help you keep building your life even as parts of it crash. Wash your face, clean the toilets, cook dinner for the kids–do what you’ve always done to create a lovely atmosphere for your family.

Above all else, keep your morals. Be careful with men. Vulnerable women can still be faithful women. Don’t allow the devil to rob you of even more by giving him space in this area of your life. The rewards for faithfulness are great and it is a vital part of your healing.

8. Never stop seeking.

I promise you. You who are in the depths of despair—I promise you that if you seek Jesus, He will heal you. Perhaps not in your time or way, but He will—and that’s all that matters. And while you feel no hope, I speak hope over you, to you, for you, and into you.

Never give up. Sooner or later, your soul will rise to the Son of Man who has already risen with healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:2)

And if you want to talk, find me in the contact page and I will get back to you. I will weep with you, stand in the gap for you, speak things over you that you cannot yet believe for yourself.

I’m here for you.

Love,

Sara

About the Sex Thing

I’m a single woman with strong convictions on sexual purity outside of marriage. But, I was married for many years and have been passionate about women’s health for many years—so it’s time to pick back up where I left off and not allow my status as a single woman render me voiceless on this important topic that is still dear to my heart because it concerns the health of women and relationships.

The sex topic is huge. Not only huge, it is sensitive, vulnerable, threatening to some, and painful to others. Some avoid it while others seek it. So I write this carefully, but I’m writing to those who are married, given my stand on sex only being permissible within marriage.

I’m not very old (yet), but I’ve seen a lot. From the purity culture to a feminist world, the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of women took my interest many years ago. I saw door-mat-like, voiceless women, I watched truly happy, fulfilled women, and I observed feministic women who talk about “being themselves” while avoiding everything feminine that would bring out the best of their true make-up as a woman. “Being themselves” led them far from their true selves.

In both the Amish world and the secular world, I noticed something—women are happier, healthier, and more satisfied in their marriages when they see the goodness of sex.

Not just monthly sex, either. Sex as an important part of life, where you make time for your husband and uncover the beauty of sex, makes for happier women in the long run. Not just happier, but also healthier. Some women may say they don’t need it—and if hormones are causing your body a temporary shut down, that’s understandable—but you still need to connect with your husband sexually before too much time passes.

Sex is a goldmine that should be pursued and uncovered at the expense of other priorities, if need be.

In a healthy marriage, sex brings mutual satisfaction to both partners. It is no longer one giving and one receiving, but both giving and receiving for a mutually satisfying experience.

Sex is a unifying physical act with major emotional and spiritual ties connected to it. This is why God wants commitment to precede sex. It is not cheap, light, or without ramifications.

Women are valuable. I try to speak that to my daughters in a sex saturated world where the pressure is high. Some loser kid in a truck hasn’t earned you, child. You’re worth more than to be used, then discarded for the next hot kiss.

I’m pulling my teens onto my bed at night while I read Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-Thirteen Generation by Eric and Leslie Ludy. Of course they groan and think I’m giving speech number 101 on sexual purity, but I smile and tell them that at least they’ll never be able to say that mama skirted uncomfortable topics.

At our house, we talk about all of it. Body parts, bodily functions, sex, it’s meaning, it’s value, when it should and shouldn’t happen. The topic is endless when there are three teens in the house.

Sex is a good topic, not a shameful one. Mothers need to embrace and enjoy sex, then transfer that attitude to their daughters. Some days you’ll laugh, some days you’ll be serious—but whatever you do, don’t assume your child is okay, even if they’re in youth group or church.

There can be so much toxicity even in church groups that we can take nothing for granted. A mother can think her child is in good company, yet find out there was a loser kid in the crowd who took advantage of her daughter.

When your children are extra sad or grumpy, check in. Ask them if they’ve been violated. Leave no stone un-turned when you sit on that bed and talk to your teen. Even if they don’t want to talk at the moment, they will know that mama is unafraid of any topic. When they’re ready, they will know it’s okay to talk.

Silence in the sex arena has led to devastation on all accounts.

Sexual abuse runs untamed because women are too afraid to uncover the sin. Sometimes, they’re even told to forgive by being silent and letting it go. What a horrible, wrong interpretation of forgiveness. (Read more on forgiveness in a previous blog).

Women like this often grow up afraid of sex rather than able to enjoy it. Now, they wonder how to bridge the gap between themselves and their husband. Could this have been avoided if mothers had checked in many years ago and helped a daughter process and heal long before marriage?

Sex is important to men—and to many women as well. We may laugh about it, joke about it, make fun of it, or heaven forbid, resent it. But it’s importance is true, and God wants us to embrace it gladly and make it a vital part of marriage.

Habitually depriving your husband of something his body needs can be debilitating to a man. Especially because a good man will know that his wife is the only one who can satisfy his (God created) sexual needs. He may be tempted to cheat—but God forbid he does, even after years of deprivation.

If he did cheat, you better believe all the ladies would rally around his wife and comfort her. I would, and so would you. Rightly so.

But here’s the punch line.

Not giving your husband sex when you’re the only one who can righteously do so, yet expecting him not to get it anywhere else, is a bit like your husband not giving you food, were it strictly in his power to bring it to you.

If you were hungry every day, yet your husband didn’t feel like bringing you food, I think you’d run to the nearest grocery store even if (hypothetically speaking), It was forbidden. You’d make sure you weren’t half-hungry all the time.

What if he only fed you once a day, just enough to function and get by, yet ignored your repeated requests for more needed energy and food?

Is that just a little like a wife refusing to engage in sex when it is strictly in her power to give it to him?

Some of you may be a little upset with me by this analogy. That’s okay—but I want us to seriously stop and consider what would happen if our men deliberately deprived us of a major need, then expected us to feel loved as we lived in deprivation.

Feminism has taken over and given women a brash attitude about a man’s sexual needs. Or, it has taken over and given women entitled attitudes about “not giving him sex if he doesn’t take me on dates every week”, or “doesn’t help enough around the house” or “doesn’t know how to meet my emotional needs”.

The aftermath of selfish women is devastating. A man literally has to know it all, do it all perfectly, and be it all before his woman is available sexually.

Ladies, may I ask you, do you want your man to withhold his love from you when you also have gaping flaws, needs, and things you don’t change even when he’d love you to change?

Who gets to deprive the other first?

Men are suffering because women nonchalantly dismiss one of their greatest needs.

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control.” (1 Corinthians 7:5, ESV)

There can be times for abstinence, but Paul makes it clear that it should be for good reason, with good communication, to give ourselves to prayer before coming together again. This indicates a purposeful abstinence that needs to end at some point. Time for healing from abuse, time for prayer, time for anything good that you can talk about and express clearly to your husband. Coming together again helps avoid temptation both of you would fall into were you to remain abstinent.

If you choose a season of abstinence, your husband needs to know that your heart is to find answers so you can be there for him sexually.

You may say, “I don’t need sex and wouldn’t be tempted without it.” But in marriage, we are called to give 100% for the good of the other. This means we are no longer only interested in our own needs, but just as concerned for the needs of the other. And if you don’t “need” sex, you most likely need connection and will be tempted by another man if you are not actively building connection in your marriage.

Sex needs to be viewed by women as a powerful connecting tool in their marriage rather than a selfish want a man may have that he can live without. The latter is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

If sex was merely a physical “want”, purity would no longer matter. Sex could happen anywhere, anytime, with anyone—just as we eat food or drink water, or sleep when we’re tired.

Sex is so much more. This is why God places boundaries on it, elevates it, and asks us to honor it as a vital part of marriage.

God’s ways are perfect, and as you give yourself to this, you will notice a place in your soul that is healed simply by the act of sex with the man you wed. God knows what he’s doing when he creates a man to need it, often. Sex is good, holy, fun, and can bring a couple closer together than ever before—even when there are areas of need in your marriage that you have yet to find answers for.

What if you embrace the goodness of sex and allow that to help dissipate trouble in your marriage rather than add to it?

What if you transfer this attitude to your daughters, and allow yourself to be a small part of bringing sexual wholeness back into our society?

Why Masculinity Needs to be Celebrated

Recently, I got a text from Verizon telling me that I qualified for $800 off an i-phone 13. Usually, I rush about my days in true Sara fashion and ignore things like this, but this time I decided to drop by Verizon on my way home from work to see what was up.

Sure enough, I qualified for an i-phone 13 and before long, I was choosing between the few colors they had on hand—black or red.

I groaned inwardly because what girl wants a black or red i-phone? (Ironically, my daughter does choose black over pink!)

“Wait a minute,” he said. “There might be a pink one in the back.” And he returns with the most lovely pink which I accepted immediately.

A few minutes later the young man started talking life, his wife, and their baby on the way. Making a comment on something men are good at, had him stalling and apologizing in an effort to assure me he’s not sexist or anything.

I smiled and told him I’m quite okay with gender differences and I think they’re important. Which brings me to the topic often pressing on my heart.

I’ve been reading Genesis and blown away with the account of creation, how God made man in His own image, how man was to care for the garden, and then, how man was alone and God knew that he needed a helper suitable for him.

God created man from the dust of the earth, but He created woman from man’s rib, a place close to his heart. Literally, woman was created by God from there, when she could have been created from dust.

Let that sink in just a little. Man was formed from the dust of the ground, while woman was created from a rib close to man’s heart, designed specifically to complete that which was lacking in man.

Man and woman were different from the start. Eve’s body was designed to grow children inside her womb. How amazing is that? Yet, she needed Adam to place his seed inside her because she didn’t have what it took to create a child on her own.

Adam gives his seed, Eve gives her womb, and a human life is born into this world.

Man cannot grow a babe in his body, yet a woman cannot even begin to grow one without part of a man.

Every part of man was created to come together with every part of woman, and vise versa. We are different, with different roles, yet equally important.

But our bodies aren’t the only things we differ in. Why did the Verizon tech instinctively know I might love a pink phone?

And why, when war breaks out, do women instinctively look to men for protection?

Who rushes to front lines first?

But who tends to wounded soldiers when they return?

I’m watching society shift from celebrating and honoring gender differences, to wanting “all humans equal” (as if we’re not already equal in value).

I’m watching women lose femininity and frankly, I think this adds to the problem of gay or lesbian couples. Why would men be attracted to masculine or abrasive women, and what in an effeminate man draws a healthy woman?

I’m watching women lose respect for men and think it a prideful thing that men would crave respect. And I’m watching men wilt under a constant scrutiny of quick judgment for anything that could be labeled as “too much masculinity”.

I’m watching women lose their beauty, their life, their nature in an effort to be “as good at everything a man is”.

But truth be told, sister, there will always be more men driving dirty pickup trucks and picking up guns during hunting season. If you let them be good at their thing while you cultivate your own thing, the world will have what it needs. Of course some girls hunt as well, but we’re making a different point here.

Twenty first century women are killing what they crave. The more our society removes honor from men, the less real men we will have.

Scoff at men long enough and you’ll end up with a society void of manliness. You want milk toast men who won’t offer to change your tire or lift that heavy sack of dog food into your car? Scoff at men, dismiss the unique qualities a man has, turn down his efforts to help and protect—and you may be looking around wondering where real men are the next time you need one.

Yes, you’ve been hurt.

Yes, some men are real, live jerks.

Yes, some men are merely boys in adult bodies.

But there are also many, many real men who deserve a place in society where their leadership is applauded rather than dismissed.

Never allow the abuse of one man to make you dismiss the goodness of many men.

Tell your world we need no gender differences, but I will tell that same world that if we remove a woman’s femininity or a man’s masculinity, we remove from the world exactly what it needs to thrive.

A lesbian couple will NEVER make a balanced, complete parent team.

The more masculine one will never be a man, neither will she fill the role of a man well. She will always be a woman even when she despises it, and she will never be a good replacement “dad” for a child who needs a healthy father figure in his or her life.

Homes need one man and one woman.

Children need one mother and one father.

Churches need couples.

The world needs families.

Ladies, you can emasculate a man merely by dismissing the very qualities that make him a man. If enough of you are out to prove you don’t need men, society will suffer from lack of men willing to stand up, step up, speak up. Men are becoming timid, afraid of insulting women by offering help.

I’m grateful that I still know real men who don’t hesitate to step up for me. I’m grateful my daughters see that. I’m grateful that some men won’t allow themselves to be pushed into something they were never meant to be.

A real man will never trade his masculinity for a watered down, twenty first century, feminist view of his gender. He will be kind, humble, honoring—-but he will be a real man.

It’s time to wake up and bring back into our culture a genuine appreciation for masculinity, for their natural ability to protect, provide, lead, and love. It’s time to celebrate manhood.

Our daughters are looking for real men, and discouraged at the effeminate boys they see all around them. When a man opens a door for you, look at him with a genuine smile and thank him sincerely. The same instinct that makes him want to open your door is the same instinct that also makes him want to protect you in crisis.

Will you scoff at his manhood in one moment, yet ask for it in a moment of need? A man cannot shut down and rise up as you want him to. A man needs to be able to be a man, 24/7. If you let yourself receive it, you will learn to love being a woman.

And if you’re married, don’t be shy about expressing honor, just as you don’t want him to be shy about showing love.

The twenty first century needs real men and real ladies more ever. Girls should still look like girls, and boys should still learn the guy stuff. Balance to our world will only come when we align ourselves to creation the way God made it to be.

Check out my cousin’s coffee art on Instagram @kahawaart.

Take general human kindness one step further and look into how men are created, how women are created, why that is, and what each gender needs most. Let children grow up to see men and women cultivating themselves rather than trying to condition themselves to be like the other gender.

Let them see whole, healthy families, and they might see school shootings less.

Because sometimes, living out God’s design does more for change in a society than trying to remove guns. Men were born to hunt, and they need guns. That’s a whole other topic, but I’m just saying.

And lest any feminist thinks I’m categorizing women and putting them into a box, come on by sometime and I’ll show you how fun it is to shoot an AR-15, free-fall from a plane two miles in the air, or run a chain saw.

A healthy world starts with healthy men and women who can raise children in God ordained families. No one will ever improve God’s design.

For now, let’s sit with that.

Regaining Emotional Clarity with FORGIVENESS (Part Four)

Forgiveness allows the pain in your past to propel you toward the purpose in your future—but only a true understanding of forgiveness can do that. Let’s talk about one of the most misunderstood principals in the Christian world.

I will never glibly tell a betrayed, angry person, “You need to forgive” or “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, or any other Christian quote people like to throw out when they’re uncomfortable with humanity’s mess. I will not say that until I’ve sat with her or him through the hurt of it all.

Jesus was angry.

Jesus cried.

Jesus said it how it was.

Jesus didn’t pretend nothing was wrong when everything was wrong.

Jesus didn’t pretend he wasn’t hurt; He actually experienced hurt on a human level so we could see Him in our own, and take courage.

Get this—the Son of God felt pain. And, He experienced anger so strong that He overturned tables in the temple when He could have just nicely asked religious people to leave.

The pain you feel is a good thing, in that it lets you know something is wrong.

The anger you feel is a good thing, in that it aligns you to the heart of God who is also angry with what has been done to you.

When you feel pain, grief, or anger, don’t run from it. Embrace it, reckon with it, and process it carefully because when you talk to God about your negative emotions, He walks you through them and teaches you a lot in the process.

Reckoning carefully with negative emotions brings us closer to the positive. Many people do the opposite. They shut down and deny negative emotions out of fear and discomfort—but I’m here to assure you that dealing with it all is the only way to clarity.

Seeing my (then) husband ride around town in a big red truck with his sixteen year old girlfriend brought me pain that almost made me numb. Why? Because it was wrong and my heart was letting me know that when it tightened in protest with my emotions.

Many of us run from pain rather than stand before it, asking why it’s there at the moment.

We shove it aside, as if that will make it go away rather than fester and grow.

We try to deny it, as if reality changes with our reckoning of it, or not.

Humanity was created for unity with God, which is all things love, joy, and peace. We are created to react negatively to wrong because we’re created in the image of God with a high propensity for things that line up to the character of God.

We enter the world, eager to experience the best in life, love, and liberty. But a fallen world means there is evil all around us, people with freedom of choice, and sin greater than we can handle in our own strength.

The aftermath of sin can be staggering, life-altering, and painful enough to make one need years to move on.

I don’t believe in clique christian quotes, glibly pouring from mouths who have no idea what it’s like to walk hell on earth. I don’t believe God does everything. I don’t believe in the age old saying of “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I believe in reckoning with every form of human emotion, head on.

I believe some things are so evil that God most certainly did not do it, cause it, or want it. But because He’s good, He will work in spite of it, through it, and absolutely overcome it.

And, I believe that life does give us more than we can handle. This is when God pulls us toward His strength and we get to experience supernatural grace. A very real depiction of the fact that life is too much for us sometimes, is watching people end up in mental institutions with no where to go but a deteriorating brain because the trauma is too much for them to handle.

Or, watching others grasp hold of divine Grace where God always over-rides trauma and shows us that love wins. We just need to get close to the heart of God and access divine love.

Because God is good, I believe in forgiveness.

Because He heals my heart, I believe in love.

Because He is all Grace, I believe I can get through anything.

In Christ, we are unstoppable.

My (then) husband’s on-going affair with a girl twenty-two years younger than me led me through things I never imagined I’d go through. But it also led me toward other things.

Having everything taken from me allows me to learn that I’m entrepreneural at heart, that I can do business and investments, learn, grow, and ask advice from those more knowledgeable than I.

Having my husband leave opens my eyes to the idol marriage was for me, and sets me free to experience life, love, and grace in spite of the loss.

Forgiveness is a personal choice that sets me free to see beautiful again.

Forgiveness allows something that would have wrecked me to turn into my greatest growth, instead.

True forgiveness doesn’t hide sin, but exposes it and deals with it. Only then can you properly release it.

When you hide or deny what’s been done to you, you keep and hold the event in your heart as something permanent. Bringing it to light allows you to hand it over to the Giver of Light where nothing is hidden and all things will be manifest one day. This process is imperative to keep you on track with your purpose.

Seeing the goodness of God allows me to let go of the depravity of man.

I can forgive my husband. I can forgive the girl I used to mother, right along with my own children. I can forgive them.

I can know there’s a baby coming, and I can withhold bitterness toward the child who will rival my own children’s attention from their father.

Seeing the goodness of God changes everything.

Because I trust God, I can give the situation into God’s hands, knowing that God knows all, sees all, and has wisdom for all circumstances. Giving my ex-husband and his girlfriend into God’s hands allows me to walk away internally and not have to look back for anything.

I don’t have to get revenge. Walking around with a chip on my shoulder is unbecoming to a daughter of the King who knows she is loved and cared for. It is what it is—but God is also who He says He is—and He doesn’t take it lightly when His sons or daughters are trampled on.

I’m in good hands when I’m in the hands of God.

And when I ask myself for the hundredth time, “What does forgiveness look like?”, I can know that Jesus knows what forgiveness looks and feels like when I don’t know.

I still feel angry sometimes.

I still cry sometimes.

But all of it leads me toward grace. Enter your grief and engage your anger for a season, but allow both to pull you toward God where He engages both in a mighty win over death, hell, and everything in between.

Forgiveness allows my pain to propel me toward my purpose. On the other hand, denial would push me into numbness where I would feel no anger, no grief, and—hear this carefully—I would also feel no passion, no pleasure, and no purpose.

Trying to stay righteous by denying anger is the death to true life. You were meant to feel angry over some things. You just can’t allow anger to push you to bitterness. Jesus never asked you to feel no anger; He did ask you not to sin when you’re angry. (Ephesians 4:26)

True holiness never renders a person numb and silent; it always pulls a person toward life and purpose.

As Lysa Tuerkurst so beautifully says, “I choose to forgive; and for whatever my feelings will not allow, the blood of Jesus will cover.” (Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by LT).

Engage your grief and allow it to pull you into GRACE.

Every day, say it aloud, “I choose to forgive.”

Keeping Emotional Clarity: Don’t Run with the Boundaries Concept (Part Three)

Recently a friend and I were discussing the divorce epidemic, and how it seems many people are justifying divorce without proper cause.

Both men and women are taking Dr. Henry Cloud’s teaching on boundaries out of context, and the results are devastating. I do believe there are times where divorce is inevitable, but I’m addressing something different, here.

I can’t put the dilemna into better words than he did, so I’m going to revise his words a bit and share them anonymously (with permission).

I quote:

“Dr. Henry Cloud’s boundaries have their place, but people start misapplying these principals, and it’s comparable to deciding to get chemo and radiation treatments when you need a much less aggressive or invasive treatment.

So many people are taking that teaching and saying things like, ‘I’ve been telling my husband I need help around the house for years. He always apologizes and promises to help more, but it only lasts for a couple of weeks. Then he slips back into the usual. I can’t handle these broken promises, continual apologies, yet no lasting change. If he loved me, he’d change and help me more around the house. I deserve better. I’m putting up boundaries; no contact, no connection until I see lasting change. I’m so hurt, maybe I should even separate from him until he sees what he has and changes for good.’

Then enters some man showing kindness, attention, money, etc. They are already disconnected and the grass looks greener to her. Boom—marriage done.

It’s like all the “You deserve to be happy” and “It’s your time for you” folks grabbed that boundaries teaching and boxed it into a “mental health” box with pretty new wrapping paper on it, and started selling their same old secular, selfish-minded philosophy in a way that opens minds to a deceptive way of thinking.

In my opinion, it is hell’s new form of psychological warfare on believers.”

“Mic-Drop” was all I could think when I read this.

For some years, I’ve been hesitant to share parts of my story because I didn’t want people to take what I say, run with it, and keep hollering the “Stand up for yourself” cry.

But I also saw the other side of the planet where women can’t say anything without being told they’re not submissive enough. This was me. This is many, many women—and it is for these women that I write.

On the other hand, there are many men and women who take truth and twist it into self-serving, humanistic approaches to gain what they want by taking the easy way out of a marriage that has issues to work through. For these men and women, I write this caution.

Emotional health and mental clarity will never come from selfishly applying boundaries to good-hearted spouses with needs you don’t like. Your health will come from obeying Jesus and loving your spouse as you love yourself.

My parents are still married after forty-three years, not because my father fills all my mother’s emotional needs, or because my mother fills all my father’s needs. They are still married because love and commitment over-ride an entitled view of themselves that would make them ditch each other for “something better”.

Their home is established on more than unmet needs; it is established on the Word of God, the God who promises to be more than they will ever need. With grace, they love each other and help each other grow. With even more grace, they accept each other’s flaws and choose to keep loving–whether or not the other changes.

I signed my divorce papers for one thing only—and that was my husband’s ongoing affair with a minor child almost the same age as our oldest daughter. Today, the girl is pregnant and they are still together, albeit not legally married.

Hear me carefully when I say there were many things I could have divorced him over. I had no lack of “reasons” I could have used. But I refused to sign divorce papers until it became undeniably clear that there was no other way.

I am divorced with a good conscience. My plea to everyone out there is this: love your spouse, stay with your spouse for better or for worse unless it is simply impossible and your spouse’s sin meets the criteria for divorce as said in the scriptures. Don’t take this teaching on boundaries to mean you can put up walls for everything hurtful in your marriage. You will not heal your heart like this; you will hurt your soul, your spouse, and your children. You will be selfish, refusing to love until your own needs are met. This is not the way of the cross.

In God’s kingdom, the way up is the way down. Get on your knees, ask God how you can love your spouse best, and learn what specifically speaks love to him/her.

Somewhere along the way you will be surprised with inner soul freedom that is so much greater than you’d experience if you quit and ran for something you thought was better.

It won’t be better.

Every good marriage has at least one partner who is willing to love extravagantly even when the other does not deserve it.

My challenge for all of you today is this: take your spouse’s faults and choose to love extravagantly, anyway. Give 100%. Love the person you once fell in love with, and love them hard. Find out what makes your particular spouse feel loved, and just do it, without question.

What speaks love to your spouse may be entirely different than what speaks love to you. Study your spouse, ask questions, and go all out for the growth of your marriage.

You will never regret it!

Stay faithful, and God will faithfully clarify your thoughts, bring healing to your soul, and help you grow—even if your spouse’s faults continue.

Never give up unless, as in my own case, your marriage is no longer possible. Cheers to all beautiful, committed souls who grow, grow, and grow a marriage!

Regaining Emotional Clarity, Introduction (Part One)

Going through a divorce and an-over-three-year-long court process has been anything but fun. But as is His nature, God is redeeming everything by allowing me to encourage others going through similar things.

My heart could faint a little at the stories I hear from both men and women. You see, girls, this is not just a male problem. I’m hearing of far too many women using the same nasty tactics on their men.

Narcissism is a human problem, not just a guy problem.

One man writes of his wife leaving him after years of neglect.

A young woman writes of her husband blaming her for not trusting him after he actively broke her trust.

Another wife asks me if she should have sex with her husband if he’s with another girl.

Humanity is groaning under the weight of a heavy humanistic mantle that shrouds the beauty of simple goodness.

“I don’t love you anymore, so I’m not going to have sex with you.”

“I’m not happy anymore, so I’m going to divorce you.”

The things we experience and are told really do affect us. I’m not here to tackle all of it, but the one thing on my heart to take us toward is how to clear our minds from years of psychological manipulation where we’re told things we know aren’t true, yet lodge in our heads as if they were.

Does that wake you up a little because you can relate? If so, this series is for you.

I’m going to walk you into personal scenarios of my own or others (anonymous) lives so you can see and relate clearly. Then, I’m going to take you step by step through the experience and out of it to the other side with the opportunity to have your mental sanity restored or intact.

The grace and goodness of God promise peace rather than confusion.

I don’t have a counseling degree. I simply share my experiences with those who ask advice, what I’ve learned, how I found freedom and clarity after years of confusion, and of course, the Jesus I know and love Who talks to me personally and through His written word.

God is the author of peace. Let’s take a look at that peace when our lives have thrown us the opposite.

How does a person keep mental sanity when someone throws curve balls that spin us into confusion because we can’t reconcile what’s being said and done one day, to the person who does the opposite the next day?

Being held and hugged one day to being torn apart the next day is confusing and doesn’t line up. We desperately want to believe the problem lies with us because we know we’re the only ones we can fix. We’re ready to repent and ask forgiveness.

For some of us it may take years to see that the problem doesn’t lie with us, and there’s something we can’t fix.

As ready as we are to shoulder blame, as much as we’ve done it for years, it seems a foreign idea floating somewhere in outer space that maybe—just maybe—it’s not our fault after all.

But that sends us into greater fear because at that point, we realize how powerless we are to change anything.

I remember reading some blog on narcissism and being blown away that I could relate so readily to what was said. Like someone finally gave a name to my experience. I took a page of notes, then threw it all away.

Like a cancer diagnosis, realizing the truth of what’s going on in your marriage can be more terrifying than closing your eyes and going about your day.

It can be easier to give, give, and give than to wake up to the truth that no matter how much you give, you will never be enough.

If you have to admit you’re married to a narcissist, you also have to realize they probably won’t change.

Remember, sin is not a gender problem; it is a human problem.

I was a bit like the person who knows she has a tumor growing on her chest but avoids seeing a doctor because pretending is easier than getting a scary diagnosis she may not be able to heal.

But the tumor is still there, and it is growing.

In the same way, faking peace in your marriage without dealing with the real issue is like turning a blind eye to a tumor while it grows steadily into something fatal.

It didn’t matter that I cried alone while my husband went out to bars at night, nor that I shut my mouth when he told me to submit to it. It didn’t help, save, or heal our marriage; it merely pacified him while the problem festered and he knew I’d always do what it took to keep his disgust at bay.

There was “peace” but there was no peace. I lived with a gnawing knowledge that there were deep underlying issues we needed help to get to the bottom of. That didn’t happen, and once again, I was told to submit rather than bring up the need for counseling one more time.

Everyone’s situation is different. But the underlying theme I keep hearing is what prompts me to write this blog series. Men and women are suffering greatly with spouses who pull off abnormally wrong behavior but want to be treated as if nothing is wrong.

This does a number on people.

When a man breaks a woman’s trust by asking for a threesome, then treats her as if she’s stupid for not trusting him, that’s a wrench on her mind.

First of all, she has to come to grips with the fact that her husband actually wants other women in her bed. (For the record, ladies, not all men want multiple women. I know a lot of good men who would cringe at the thought of a threesome because they wouldn’t want to wreck the special connection with the woman they love.)

And secondly, she automatically wonders if she’s the problem. She’ll most likely double up on sex, buy new lingerie, and try her best to “trust”–all the while taking responsibility for something that is not her problem at all.

Did you know it’s humanly impossible to trust someone who hasn’t earned it? Like, that’s not even something you should try to do because you are incapable of doing it. Not because you’re incapable as a person, but because two plus two is not five; two plus three is five.

If your spouse is giving you two plus two, wanting you to say “five” as the answer, you cannot honestly say “five”, but will say “four” instead.

If your spouse at that point gets upset that you are not giving them a “five”, whose fault is that? How can you possibly give a number that is not honestly feasible to give?

At that point, you will need to express the impossibility of what they’re asking. If they become upset with you, you will need to calmly ask for a two plus three so you can give them their desired “five”.

The truth will set you free regardless of their anger with you. This is what I want you to see in the blog series I’m giving over the next months.

We will be rerouting our brains into truth.

We will be owning the truth of all things, whether it’s the truth of our pain, their wrong, our faults, our fears, or simply our utter incapability of giving them what they’re asking, and how terrified we are of losing them.

No denial can exist in a healthy brain.

I didn’t realize how unhealthy my brain was, how I had never learned to think for myself, and how that only fed into the problem in my marriage.

A man may want control and he may want you to submit when he’s wrong, but deep down he will respect you far more if you’re not desperate to keep him. My addiction to my marriage was sickening and it wasn’t broken until long after he packed his bags.

My desperation to please my husband put me in an impossible wrench. We must never be desperate for anything other than Jesus and His truth, allowing light to shed clarity on even the most painful things we’d love to avoid.

We are going to draw a line in the sand between ourselves and falsehood.

Until next time, stay in grace. To those who are asking me, I promise you there is help, hope, and peace.

God is who He says He is—even when, and especially when, people are not.

How “Submission” Can Turn to Suffocation

I paused before I spoke, carefully weighing each word—and more importantly, each tone of each word.

I had waited for two months to talk with my ex-husband about something that needed to be talked about as soon as it happened (painful things with other women). But, I was terrified to talk even though what had happened was wrong.

That doesn’t sound healthy, you say—and you’re right.

My suffocating experience in marriage led me to research healthy womanhood with a passion. There had to be more to relationship in marriage than what I experienced. Surely this was not what Jesus talked about in 1 Peter 3.

Surely if a wife who loved and served her husband discovered something wrong in her husband’s life, she should be heard?

I knew the answer was yes even though I didn’t experience it. I weighed my words carefully and spent years in confusion and emotional distress because I tried so hard to avoid the hurtful conversations I knew would happen if I tried to communicate.

Thank heaven this is not what a wife is meant to have in marriage.

Let’s take a look at some powerful women in the Bible. Deborah was a prophetess, a wife, during one of the most troubled times of Israel. She’d sit under a palm tree dedicated to her, called “The Palm of Deborah” while the people of Israel came to her for judgment.

When they were oppressed under Jabin, king of Canaan, Deborah called Barak and told him the Lord asked him to go out to war against the king’s army. In verse eight Barak says to her, “If you will go with me, I will go; but if not, I will not go.”

Deborah goes with him but lets him know that the glory won’t go to him because the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Judges 14)

The battle rages hot but as is always the case when God is on our side, Barak’s army won until each man fell. Every man but one, that is.

When 900 chariots of iron weren’t getting him anywhere, Sisera fled on foot to Jael’s tent. Why this tent? Because there was peace between her husband and the king.

Jael kindly invited Sisera into her tent, comforted him with words of peace, fed him hot milk, and covered him up warmly. He fell asleep and she took a tent spike into her hand, a hammer in the other, and pounded away, into his brain until he was dead.

Then, she reported it to Barak.

Israel’s victory began with two women, one of which obviously went against her husband’s wishes when she chose to fight on the Lord’s side. Get this—she killed a man who was at peace with her husband. The only vibe we get from scripture concerning this act was one of approval, God fighting with her, with them.

She aligned herself well. Remember this, sisters—when your husband opposes God’s kingdom it is of utmost importance that you choose the right side.

Now, lets hop on ahead to 1 Peter 3 where God talks about one of His exemplary women, Sarah.

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conversation of their wives………as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3: 1 & 6, ESV)

How do we make sense of this seeming contradiction? By taking the entirety of the Word of God rather than zoning in on one verse. God has a perfect plan for His women and it shines through all of scripture.

Jael quietly did what she needed to do. We don’t read of her becoming feministic, abrasive, or brash. We simply see a woman of great strength with an ability to rise to a God-given occasion to fight for His people.

In that moment, her husband was second to God, not competing with God. This is what we need to remember: our husbands do not compete with God for equal place in our lives. God is number one, always.

I believe God was number one in Sarah’s life and that was the only reason she was able to honor her husband. God was proud of her and used her as an example.

There’s an entire culture of honor we ladies need to live in, walk in, and speak in. We can do this even when we need to say no to our husbands.

My situation forced me to not only say no, but to testify in court against his actions. From closing my mouth in order to keep peace, to opening my mouth and refusing to make peace, this was one bear of a journey.

The Lord let me know one day as I was walking that my husband would leave, and that I would be the one to speak up against his actions. I still didn’t know the extent of gross sin I’d be dealing with, but my heart cried out, “Please Lord, please no. Please not me.”

I wanted so very much to please him instead, but it had become impossible.

When rubber hit the road things not only got worse, but sickeningly disturbing until the entire town was in an uproar. I had to speak with detectives and law, court, and fight for my children until my knees shook.

I could no longer obey, “submit” or pretend to be okay.

And bit by bit, I learned that it was okay for him to be unhappy with me. I’d take my emotions by the shoulders, give them a good shaking and tell myself, “Sara, if he was happy with you, you’d be in the wrong. It’s a good thing, a very good thing, that he’s unhappy with you.”

Sisters, please hear me on this. You are not responsible to make your husband happy, or to keep peace. BUT, if you walk in love and honor, you will make a good man very happy.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

If you’re walking in love and with Jesus by your side, you’ll treat him with honor. You won’t yell and be obnoxious. You won’t nag.

You’ll be feminine, gracious, and eager to bless him.

But hear me on this—you will also communicate honestly as you honor him.

You’ll be able to say the hard things.

You’ll be able to say no if he wants to veer right off track into obvious sin.

If he’s pulling toward another woman you’ll be strong enough to stand up to both of them with a better option—that of saving your life-long covenant with your husband.

If the need rises, you’ll be Jael in Sarah’s world.

Sisters, there is no other way.

Abigail brought food to David and God took care of her belligerent husband who became so angry with what she did, that he died. God blessed Abigail for feeding his servant when her husband was selfish enough to cause a war. (1 Samuel 25)

But take note on the extreme cases these examples are. Jael won a war and Abigail stopped a war. Many women today create wars instead because they are too selfish to think past their own skin.

Femininity or feminism?

Feminism tries to prove to men that we can do what they can do. It is obnoxious and nothing short of abusing the word, “woman”.

Feminity thrives in a culture of honor. We honor ourselves when we honor those around us. We are ‘yes’ women with the ability to say no when the need arises. We are graciously strong and refuse to buckle under sin and abuse.

We can stop wars and win wars, but never create wars unless standing for truth creates one of necessity. We are, as Jesus asks us to be, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, ESV)

A culture of honor can be nothing else.

Bitter Becomes Sweet

I’m standing outside a small meeting place in Seattle, chowing down food with a vengeance I hope no one sees.

For crying aloud, some of the friends I came with are fasting. But I’m this starving girl with a mouth so full I turn my head so no one notices. Those fasting days have been gone for awhile and life seems to demand a steady supply of food just to keep going strong.

A gentleman walks toward me, nods, and tape a finger to his brain. He knows. I need this food just to be able to think.

But there’s a booming voice inside the door I’m standing by, and I tilt my head toward the open doorway as the African-American preacher shouts it out. “Bow in the name of Jesus Christ!”

I’m spellbound as he continues. His passion draws me in and engages my soul in all that matters most, as does the older lady with glasses on the mid-ridge of her nose, speaking of things that bring her to righteous anger.

I smile, then reach out and thank her for saying what I want to say. In a world of relativism where truth is perceived as judgment, seeing one dare to speak up for truths that are dying out is refreshing to say the least.

Friends, no matter how much society wants to think that truth is relative, every human being hangs onto their own version of truth.

The problem is, not every person hangs onto God’s truth. Those who say truth is not absolute, will absolutely judge those who say it is–which means their own version of truth is as simple as “It’s wrong to stand on absolute truth.”

In this way, they contradict their own logic. Apparently it is not judgmental to have truth, after all–and apparently there is still absolute truth even if it is their own twisted version of it.

Most of the people who say truth is relative and life should be gauged by one’s own happiness [if you want to live a gay life-style, do so], don’t truly believe what they say. When rubber meets the road and their spouse cheats on them [for the sake of his own happiness], they have no trouble labeling it wrong with the most severe judgment—as they should!

Every human being cries out for one truth or another, whether it be their own version, or God’s.

The problem rises when we choose to label certain things wrong because they affect us, but claim truth to be relative for other areas that don’t affect us.

A sovereign God Who created the universe gets to choose what is best for the whole of His universe. The fact that humans are able to pronounce such great displeasure and judgment on things that rock their world, but declare others judgmental for hanging onto truth in a rocking world, is but proof of their mortality.

We are humanly capable of defending our own hearts but mortally incapable of living for the heart of God—unless we are filled by the Spirit of God.

Spiritual warfare doesn’t just happen. We must speak it out, seek it out, proclaim it out.

We must dare push through the wall of apathy in our culture and engage the deepest things of God in a humanistic world.

You don’t have to be burnt up in a burning world; you must be lit up in a dark world. And you must know that, as light overtakes darkness, so every single truth of God will overtake the apathy and sinfulness of man.

I bite into a flax seed, and its bitter flavor pierces my mouth. Where did that come from? Sweet granola with bitter seeds?

They’re bitter, but entirely nutritious—and the whole of granola is crunchy sweetness, chock full of nutrition for a day out.

When truth seems bitter, know that it is God’s invitation to wholeness, a life made sweet with His presence. You cannot claim the Presence of God without giving yourself wholly to the heart of God.

Some of the bites you take may have bitter flavor. Take them anyway, and your life will be blessed with the entirety of God’s gift, just as my granola was crunchy and sweet even though it was filled with bitter flax seed.

If I had left them out, that bag of granola would have missed one of the most nutritious ingredients. Leave out the truths with a bitter sting to them, and you begin to merge away from the entire picture of wholeness God wants to grace your life with.

Embrace, by faith, every thing God says–then rest and trust Him with everything else. He will not fail you!

How to Encourage Your Children

Every mom knows that pouty look on a child’s face exactly when she’s gone out of her way to have a good time together.

I glanced over at my ten year old son as we walked a new trail together, searching for waterfalls we knew were ahead. His little face was stormy. Never mind I had just driven a long way just to give all of us a happy time together in the wild.

I hadn’t let him carry toys on the trail (what a crime). “Now is the time for sticks and water and just hanging out together,” I told him. “And I don’t want you to lose your toys.”

“I just don’t get it,” he said. “What’s wrong with bringing toys on the trail?”

Because I had already explained, I pulled off the age-old mom saying next. “You don’t have to get it; you just need to obey. Now wipe that sour look off your face because we’re here to have fun.”

Those words may as well have been spoken to the rock he was carrying. But we walked on.

“I sure am glad you’re with us,” I told him.

The falls were roaring ahead and we climbed slowly to the top, panting as we went before pausing for a photo in front of the water. Suddenly, sister’s phone went flying out of her hands and into a tight crevice between rocks and wood.

We stared in distress at the phone just beyond our reach.

“I can get it,” little buddy told her, and in he went, nearly scraping his face on rocks as he slithered down and down before grabbing the phone, handing it up, then being pulled up himself by two people.

“That was amazing!” I told him. “See, we really did need you with us. You were super brave and really helped your sister out.”

That was all it took. The rest of the day I couldn’t keep him from helping out if I tried. If my shoe slipped, he was by my side immediately, holding my hand to make sure I didn’t fall. If I laid down to rest by the river, he snuggled up close to rest with me. There was nothing I could do without his constant presence and care right at my elbow.

“I could help you with all kinds of things,” he said as we kept climbing. “When I get big I’m going to have a lot of gold and I’m going to buy you a million dollar house to live in.”

Here I was, a forty-one year old mother being babied by her ten year old son. I pondered the lesson unfolding before me.

This child was often criticized, scolded, or told to stop. His mischief grated on the nerves of everyone in the family, and he found the oddest moments to screech at the top of his lungs. He shared a room with his big brother and teased his older sister and forgot to brush his teeth.

The sister who was most self-conscious was constantly embarrassed by his lack of social skills and made no effort to hide her feelings.

You get the picture. There was always something for him to be corrected on even though his heart was golden. And I’d often tell the older kids to stop scolding and start encouraging more.

“You’re making it worse,” I told them. “He needs to be encouraged more, and that will help him do better.”

I knew from experience that being surrounded by encouraging friends was a life changer. I had met people like that many years prior and as a result, my heart changed from the inside out.

When you speak good over others, you make them want to do good. It takes no character to talk down on people or even to see their negative traits. But it takes a pure heart of love to see past the bad right into someone’s heart.

Speak God’s heart over people by calling out what He’s wanting to put in.

I’ve often told my children during mess-ups and failures, “This is not who you really are. I see what you’re truly made of.”

I see you. I see you. I see you.

Who doesn’t want to be seen?

Little Buddy’s holding my hand by the end of the day. “Thank you for being such a good mom,” he says.

My heart was full and I kept pondering life the entire ninety minutes home. The lesson resounded once again—we cannot fertilize goodness by harping on the bad. Focus on the good, call out the good, name the good, and tell a person what is good in their character. Celebrate it, and watch the bad diminish as you do so!

Here’s a challenge to compliment at least two people every day!

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)