Despairing of Hope? Let the Lord Fight for You!

Join me at the Promise of Hope Retreat!

This past week marked the second anniversary of Making It Real Ministries. My team and I reviewed our past, assessed our present, and looked ahead to 2016. I must confess for much of the past two years I’ve identified with those who followed Moses into the Wilderness not knowing where they were going, how they would get there, or how they would survive the journey. They had to learn to trust God and move forward in obedience in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles. And you and I must do the same as we follow God’s calling in our lives. Have you ever faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle or apparently hopeless situation? Are you in one of those predicaments now? Then read on friend and be encouraged!

The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. Ex 14:14 NASB

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

As part of our reviewing the past couple of years, my husband (and CPA), Matt, did the books and showed me the financial situation of the ministry. And let’s just say I felt like I was staring into the wide Red Sea with the clamor of Pharaoh’s chariots growing louder and louder.

At about the same time, a dream-come-true speaking opportunity was offered. Yet…

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The Importance of Authentic Friendship & Highlights from Women of Faith

2015 Scripture Memory Team Verse 19

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a group of Making It Real Ministries subscribers at the Farewell Tour of Women of Faith in Dallas. The short little video below will show you some of the highlights of our experience. The importance of authentic friendships was evident in our interactions, the speakers’ talks, and the scenes all around us. And so I chose a verse related to this theme as my Scripture Memory Team Verse 19. If you’d like a set of Chalkboard Printables featuring the nineteen verses featured so far this year, just click here and I’ll email them to you.

1 John 4:11, NIV

In a culture in which the National Science Foundation’s General Social Survey revealed one in four people have no one with whom they can talk about their personal troubles or triumphs, it was refreshing to see, hear, and experience the benefits of real relationships.

So many people today have “friended” and been “friended” by a multitude of people on Facebook and other social media sites but lack many, if any real friends with whom they can authentically share their real lives.

There is a big difference between being friended and being a friend. And while it can be scary to reveal our true selves to others, the rewards of the abundant life awaiting you on the other side of that risk are worth it!

Get Real with God First

It is much easier to get real with others once we have gotten real with God. When we get real with God, when we understand and truly believe God’s love for us through Christ, we become children of God. (See John 1:12)

Our relationship with God through Christ provides us with a security from which we can risk sharing our true selves with others. When we know we are accepted by God, we aren’t as desperate for the approval and acceptance of other people. This allows us to risk authenticity with others.

And the more authentic we are in our relationships with others, the more those relationships bless us and others. We enjoy the fruit of truly knowing our friends and being known by them. We are able to offer our lives and our stories back to God as living sacrifices through which we can comfort others with comfort we have received from God (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

I want to encourage you to bring your real self to God and find the acceptance and security you long for. And then take your accepted and loved self out into the world and love others with the same love with which Christ has loved you.

Highlights from Women of Faith in Dallas

Download Your Scripture Memory Cards

If you’d like to make your own copy of the 2015 Scripture Memory Team verses I’ve been working on memorizing, just click the picture or the button below and I’ll email you a PDF which features a 3 x 5 card for each of the 19 verses we’ve tackled so far.

Click Here to Get Your Printable Verses

How about you? Did you attend Women of Faith in Dallas and if so what were some of your favorite highlights? Or, what Scripture are you currently working on storing in your heart and mind? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Does Your Marriage Need a Makeover? Try this…

FREE Marriage Makeover Checklist

Last week Matt and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary. And as we reflected over our nearly three decades together, we recalled the ebbs and flows in our relationship. Every marriage goes through ups and downs. How you go through those is what makes the difference. So, if you’re currently in a rough patch, there is hope. In today’s post, I share the process that helped us get things back on track over the years.

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And since theory and thinking only goes so far, I’ve made you a Marriage Makeover Checklist to help you put these steps into action in your own relationship. Click here to request your copy and I’ll email it to you instantly!

Recapturing Love and Intimacy

You can recapture the love and intimacy you used to have in your marriage. After all these years, we have a fantastic marriage and enjoy spending time with each other now just as much as when we were dating.

But we’ve had more than a few times during those twenty-five years when things looked bleak.

Great marriages and families don’t just happen. They require intentional planning and action. They also require constant monitoring and a willingness to course correct along the way before things reach a crisis.

That is what this process is going to help you do.

6-Step Makeover Process

These steps are not complicated and can be completed in a short period of time if you are both invested in making it happen. Print out your checklist, schedule time to work on this makeover, and then enjoy the results!

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Transform Your Schedule from Overwhelmed to Just Right in 7 Simple Steps

Take the "Goldilocks" Quiz and download your FREE "Just Be" Checklist

There is something about planners and organization supplies that sets me day-dreaming about how my life could be different: less chaotic, more goals accomplished, less stress. Then I look at my calendar and the piles of paper on the counter related to the kids’ school projects, my Bible study, extra-curricular activities for the kids, and on and on. When I’m not intentional about what “yeses” fly out of my people-pleasing mouth, our whole family ends up stressed out and spread too thin. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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What if I was intentional about crafting my schedule (and that of our family)? What if I had time to do the really important things that add up to an abundant life? Rather than a drowning under a jillion “just because I always have to (or think I’m supposed to)” tasks and places to be?

Would you like to join me in purposefully crafting a “Goldilocks schedule” that strikes the “just right” balance between getting things accomplished and keeping our sanity and soul intact? Then be sure to take the little quiz below and download your FREE “Just Be” Checklist.

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Maybe You Need a Bigger BUT

Get Today's FREEBIE: 7 Life-Changing Principles Cheat Sheet!

We can choose to focus on God or we can focus on our circumstances. Whatever we focus on appears bigger. If we continue to fixate on something, we give it more and more power to impact our lives. And while it is true that in this world we will have trouble, God gives us a BUT big enough to shift our focus from the circumstances to him.

John 16:33, NIV

My recent struggle with anxiety started as a fear of flying for three trips earlier this year. The first vacation took place in February, but I started focusing on it and imagining every possible worst-case scenario back in October.

Instead of dreaming of the magical memories I’d be creating with my family, I was seeing bombs detonating, bolts coming loose, and big pieces of the fuselage plummeting to earth from 30,000 feet in the sky.

Friends would share statistics about how safe flying is compared to driving. But all the rational rhetoric fell on deaf ears. It isn’t death I’m afraid of; it’s falling! If something goes wrong on I-35, my minivan isn’t going nose down and falling for endless terrifying minutes.

The more I dwelled on the what-ifs, the more anxious and miserable I became.

After about eight months of this myopic focus, my brain and body became convinced we were constantly in a state of danger. The imaginary thoughts created real physiological results in my brain. I actually trained my brain to stay in a state of fear. So even when we returned from our trips, I was stuck with irrational anxiety attacks.

It took months to train my brain to remain fearful. So, re-training it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is happening.

Before we left for our last trip, I shifted my focus onto God instead of the fear. I chose memory verses that filled my thoughts with God’s truth instead of my fear-filled fantasies.

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What You Can Do When It Seems Like God Does Nothing

Join me on Periscope to discuss Wayne Stiles incredible new book, Waiting on God

I’ve been a fan of Wayne Stiles for a little over a year now. His writing is always engaging and his insights and illustrations make the Scriptures relevant and helpful to my real life. So I was THRILLED when he gave me the opportunity to preview his new book, Waiting on God. The book goes on sale today (August 18, 2015) and shared my favorite life-changing principles from the book along with my some of my favorite quotes from it today at 11:45 am Central Daylight Time on Periscope. I will give one lucky viewer a free copy of Waiting on God! But everyone is lucky today, because Wayne is offering $160.78 of FREE bonus content if you purchase a copy of his new book today! And, I’ve made a FREEBIE for you that captures “My 7 Favorite Life-Changing Principles from Waiting on God”. Everyone who downloads my freebie is entered in the drawing for the free book. I forgot to mention that on the scope!

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Allow me to introduce you to Wayne Stiles

Wayne-pic-blogWayne, actually Dr. Stiles, has a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate in Ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an executive vice president at Insight for Living Ministries. A former pastor and veteran traveler to the Holy Land, Wayne has served in full-time ministry for more than twenty-five years. He is the author of Going Places with God and Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus. Wayne and his wife, Cathy, have two grown daughters and live in Texas. I encourage you to subscribe to his blog at www.waynestiles.com! It is fantastic!

Waiting On God

You might enjoy watching the book trailer for Wayne’s new book. It will give you a 1-minute overview of the mountain of benefits that await you within the pages.

As Wayne unpacks the Old Testament story of Joseph, he shows you how to find comfort and purpose in the waiting, revealing the startling truth that sometimes when you think you are waiting on God, he is actually waiting on you! If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.

Join Me Over on Periscope to Discuss the Book!

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Why I love Periscope and Why It Will Benefit You

Get the Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Interacting with Me on Periscope

Have you heard of the new social media platform called Periscope? It is only a few months old and I just learned of it a week or so ago. When I first heard about it I thought it was the silliest thing ever. Until I watched a few “scopes” by some of my favorite bloggers.  I was hooked and I’m excited to try it out. I’ll tell you why in a second. But first…

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First, what in the world is Periscope?

If you’re unfamiliar with Periscope, this app allows you to livestream video from your phone so you can interact with someone you like to learn from, engage with, or find interesting. “Scoping” is what they call broadcasting on Periscope.

Here is how it works.

I’ve made you a simple step-by-step guide to getting on Periscope;
just click the image or button and I’ll email it to you.   Get Your Step-By-Step Guide

It’s really simple! Here is the basic overview: When I “scope” I talk to you via live stream video. While you are not on camera, you do get to interact with me and the other people on the scope through the chat feature.

You can type in your questions and comments on the chat bar and those scroll over the screen. You can also send me some virtual love and encouragement by tapping the screen which makes little hearts float up the side of the screen. (Doing this live is scary so seeing some hearts is really encouraging).

Of course, you can also just watch the broadcast without chatting; in fact, the app limits the chat to the first 200 people to log on to the scope. After that, you can watch but you can’t chat.

When I go live you’ll get a notification on your phone. Then, you jump on and join the fun. If you can’t make it live, you have 24 hours to watch it, but you won’t be able to interact, ask questions, and make comments. So jumping on live right away is best! After 24 hours, Periscope automatically deletes the video and you’ll miss out on that helpful content.

Why I love Periscope…and why I think it will benefit you:

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How to Strengthen Your Relationship with Christ

in Ways that Work with Who You Are and Your Season of Life

Recently I asked you to tell me what results you most wanted to achieve. By letting me know the topics you want help with I can create posts to support your progress toward those desired outcomes. The most requested topic was how to strengthen your relationship with Christ in ways that work with who you are and your season of life. So, if you can, grab a journal or note pad and let’s start working on that topic right now! And if you can’t stop now to make notes, just print out the cheat sheet I’ve provided and work on this when you have some quiet time to reflect.

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God Didn’t Use a Cookie-Cutter to Make Us

I used to think I had to relate with God the same way my spiritual mentors did. Unfortunately, they had totally different personality traits, learning styles, and lifestyles than I did. So when I forced myself to pray, study, worship, and serve the way they did, I never quite got the same results. For example, I had one mentor who was very contemplative. He could draw intensely close to God through things like prayer walking. But when I tried it, my mind wandered and I ended up frustrated and feeling farther away from God.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can come to the Father except through him (see John 14:6). But Jesus is a person not a system. We come to our Heavenly Father through a personal relationship with Jesus not a religious style or set of rules or traditions. Finally, I realized if God made each of us with our own unique DNA and fingerprints, it seems like he probably designed us to relate uniquely with him as well.

Our relationships with our friends and family are unique. I don’t relate to my husband the same way I relate to my best friend. Yet there are still some fundamental aspects of all relationships that must be attended to if the bond is to be healthy and strong. For example, there must be:

  1. Communication
  2.  Respect
  3. A certain level of understanding, and
  4. Some tangible demonstration of our love and commitment to the relationship.

The same is true when it comes to our relationship be with Jesus. While my relationship with him won’t look exactly like your relationship with him, there are some basic ingredients required and they mirror those four components of our human-to-human relationships.

There are at least four aspects of a relationship with Christ that everyone needs to nurture:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship (privately as well as corporately)
  3. God’s Word (the Bible)
  4. Obedience (living out the truth and grace you’ve been given)

Keeping this basic framework in mind, let’s look at a process you can use to strengthen your relationship with Christ in ways that work with who you are and your current season of life.

Download Your FREE Cheat Sheet

I made you a little cheat sheet to help you walk through the process. If you’re a visual learner, you will especially like it!


 Send me the FREE Guide!

Now for the steps to strengthening your relationship with Christ…

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Why You Need To Break Up With Perfect

Amy Carroll 170 x 170This is a guest post by Amy Carroll. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the director of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy has been my mentor and coach and helped me answer God’s call to begin Making It Real Ministries. I adore her and think you will too! She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.

As I rummaged through the damaged store, I hurried toward a colorful decoration that caught my eye. A hurricane had ravaged the seaside store’s merchandise, but there were a few treasures left.

My prize that day was a papier-mâché figure of Santa Clause directing a band of animal musicians. Since my husband was a band director, seeing Jolly Old Saint Nick with his conductor’s baton poised made my heart sing even though it was a balmy North Carolina summer outside.

I carefully carried the figurines to the cash register and made them mine.

Nearly skipping with joy down the sidewalk, suddenly I tripped and dropped my fragile treasures. My face fell with dismay as I peeked inside the bag only to see pieces of Santa and his friends lying jagged and free-floating at the bottom.

When I got home, I gently removed the pieces and lay them out on a table. One by one, I drew a thin line of glue on the narrow edges and began to put them back together.

Relationships-shatter-get-now

Click on the image above to read reviews, get more info, and get started breaking up with perfect today!

The results weren’t altogether terrible.

Santa’s pedestal is webbed with cracks and the beaver is missing a leg, but unless guests get too close, they’ll never know the trauma Kris Kringle endured. He’s broken but still beautiful, and a smile stretches across my face each Christmas as I unpack him from his protective box.

Why do I struggle to believe that others could see me the same way?

All of us have a level of brokenness from our own sin nature or from sin leveled against us. We all have cracks of insecurity, shards of sin, and flaws of failure, but for most of my life I’ve wanted to hide mine. I’ve wanted to glaze over my brokenness with a façade of perfection.

If I had found only a perfect Santa acceptable, I would have either tossed him after his fall, or I would have hidden him away in the box with the other outdated, worn-out ornaments.

That’s ok with an object, but we’d never do that to an imperfect person. We’re all in the same boat! So why are we afraid others will do it to us? That maybe God will too?

So we keep others at arm’s length, never allowing anyone to get too close, or we hide behind our walls of shame or false perfection. We try to earn acceptance and love with our just-right words and our thought-out actions, feeling more and more lonely all the time, when in truth…

Authenticity is the antidote for isolation.

Jesus doesn’t despise us in our brokenness, tossing us away or hiding the fact that He loves us. He gently takes our pieces and glues them back together with His grace, compassion, and forgiveness. If we’ll only lay down our masks of perfection and surrender to His perfecting work, Jesus lovingly sets us out for the world to see and claims us as His own.

I’ve been on a journey to break up with perfect, and I’m finding that my relationships with others are deeper than ever when I’m real about my flaws. In the process, I’m able to point to Jesus as the Perfect One, our ultimate hero, and I’m resting in the lavish love I’m finding in Him.

BreakingUpWithPerfectCoverAmy Carroll has written Breaking Up with Perfect for women who want to move past the pursuit of perfection into greater joy and deeper relationships. To get your copy, click here.

How about you? If you struggle with perfectionism, how does that impact your life and relationships? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Seven Essential “Waiting Places” God Uses In Our Lives

2015 Scripture Memory Verse 12

I HATE waiting! I’m not good at it. So, when my friend Jenny wrote the following amazing post about her experience with waiting, I drank it up. She captures the raw emotions and tangled thoughts that go along with the waiting process. I found her observations and her “don’t hide your crazy” style so powerful, I just had to share her post with you!

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Photo courtesy of iStock Photo.com © justinkendra

Jenny and her family are missionaries overseas. You might think there are some typos in her post, but they are there intentionally. You see, where she is serving, the emails and such are subject to censorship. And God is a no-no word. So, she has to type it using a zero for the “o” so it flies under the radar.

I hope you love her post as much as I did. And if you do, be sure to leave her an encouraging comment on her blog! We writers LOVE to know if what we have agonized over matters to anyone or makes a difference. I know she would appreciate hearing from you.

Just click on the image of her post below to open it in your browser.

Jennys Post on Waiting-BLOG

 Scripture Memory Verse 12

On (or the first Monday after) the first and the fifteenth of each month I’m posting a verse I’m committing to memory. Scripture memorization is a challenge for me, but I made the decision at the beginning of the year to meet that challenge head on. So, if you’re joining me on the 2015 Scripture Memory Team, here is my verse 12.

Want to read it in context over on BibleGateway.com? Click here to read the third chapter of Lamentations.

Click to Get Your Printable Scripture Verses

How about you? Leave me a comment and let me know what verse(s) you’re working on right now. Or, how do you handle your waiting places? You can leave a comment by clicking here.