Wisdom 2020

Our church is going through a study of God’s Word together in 2020 called “Wisdom: Seeing Life Clearly Through the Lens of Scripture.” Today’s reading is Proverbs chapter 17. My favorite verse in that chapter, and one that I committed to memory years ago says,

close up photo of owl

Photo by Aa Dil on Pexels.com

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (v. 28).

I know….it’s weird that that’s my favorite verse of the chapter, but as an introvert, it has always been easy for me to keep silent. I guess that verse makes me feel okay about being such a quiet person. It has always been hard for me to meet new people or speak in public or be a leader.

It’s so interesting to me that an owl is often used as a symbol for wisdom, and one reason for this is because owls can see in the dark.  As we seek the Lord and His wisdom, He equips us to “see” in the darkness of this world with spiritual eyes and to be His light to those who are sick and hurting and lost.

I think what the Lord showed me specifically this morning is that there is great power in our words….for good or evil, for life or death. We desperately need His wisdom moment by moment of every day so that we use our words to build others up instead of causing harm. It’s so easy to lash out in anger or frustration with our kids or spouses, but once our words are spoken, there’s no going back. We can be forgiven for hurtful words, but we certainly don’t want to cause lasting pain to those around us.

There are numerous verses in Scripture that caution us about the words that we use. Here are a few examples:

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” (Proverbs 20:15)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

Whether we talk a lot or a little, God wants us to use wise, life-giving words. I want to commit to be more careful with my words and ask God for His wisdom before I speak. Will you join me? 🙂

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RIP: A Prophet Who Predicted the Mess We’re in Now

Published on American Thinker 8/11/2019.

If you remember the late, great financial teacher Larry Burkett, your life is likely the better for it. I worked with Larry for several years in his Gainesville, Georgia headquarters of Christian Financial Concepts (and continued to work for the organization from home for many years after my children started coming along). In my mind, he ranks right up there with some of our Founding Fathers in his wisdom, love for this country, and amazing foresight in economic and political issues. He even left this world on the same patriotic day as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe—on Independence Day, 2003, at the young age of 63. His teachings, which were straight from Scripture, changed my life and bent the twig for my children and hopefully future generations.

The department in which I worked was tasked with answering constituents’ financial questions, so I had to be quite the student of Larry Burkett. In preparation for answering a certain e-mail, I had the opportunity to skim through the pages of Larry’s 1991 best seller, The Coming Economic Earthquake. The book was updated in 1994 to reflect the happenings of the Clinton era, and it’s amazing how accurate Larry was in his foresight of what was coming for our economy and for the nation, in general. He touched on many topics in the book, but some jumped out at me as especially relevant for today.

In light of the battles over the Common Core agenda that is being shoved down the nation’s collective throat, Larry said, “Check out the curriculum being taught in your local schools and see if it is anti-free-market. It would shock most Americans to realize that a great deal of the economic information being fed their children in elementary schools, high schools, and especially state universities is blatantly socialistic, if not openly communistic.”

He went on,

The only place that communism still seems to flourish is in the American classroom. It is often labeled ‘socialism’ but, in reality, it is the same doctrine that was taught in the Soviet Union prior to the communism collapse: Government is the protector of the downtrodden; capitalism is inherently evil; people deserve decent incomes, regardless of their desire to work or not; and last, the government is a better purveyor of the nation’s resources than the wage earners are.

Sound familiar? The very issues that Larry saw as major problems 25 years ago have escalated at an alarming rate.

The government takeover of health care that was attempted during the Clinton administration was delayed only a few years until Obama came into power and had the political backing to force it onto the nation. Larry had great wisdom and forethought in this matter: “Let me say that if the federal government is allowed to take control of health care, which represents approximately 14 percent of our total economy, it will be the stake in the heart of our free enterprise system. The government cannot solve our health care problems—it is the problem!”

He continued,

Only twelve cents of every government dollar spent on health care now actually reaches a patient. It is a grossly inefficient system. There are two old sayings in Washington that describe what will happen to health care as soon as the political system gains control of that area too: ‘A camel is a horse designed by a government committee,’ and ‘An elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications.’

Wow. If only we had heeded his warning, maybe we wouldn’t be facing the disastrous effects of the government hijacking of our health care system.

Regarding abortion coverage, Larry said, “I rather suspect that, if abortion is accepted as a ‘necessary benefit,’ there would be heavy pressure put on those who oppose abortion to participate or be subjected to financial penalties.” Isn’t this exactly what we’re seeing today? Ministries and faith-based companies (Hobby Lobby and James Dobson’s Family Talk are some of the most recognizable) have been forced to sue the federal government over the abortion mandate in Obamacare. Larry added,

Christians will have to take a stand on this issue, regardless of the consequences. We should have acted with one voice when the Supreme Court decided that somehow an unborn human has no rights. Once abortion is funded through a national health care plan, the number of abortions will likely escalate. God’s people must wake up to this offense now! There is no nation that will survive God’s wrath for long, if and when it decides to kill its young (and old).

When writing The Coming Economic Earthquake, Larry reported that at the current rate of growth, the national debt would swell to $8.7 trillion by the year 2004. Even Larry couldn’t anticipate the rate of reckless spending by the most liberal president in the history of our nation. I believe Larry would be utterly shocked to know that the national debt is now nearly three times his predicted 2004 level, and it is higher than the Gross Domestic Product of our entire nation.

Writing about the forecasted 2004 national debt of $8.7 trillion, Larry said,

There has never been anything approaching this level of debt funding in the history of mankind in so short a period of time, even on a percentage basis. The effects of this will be felt throughout the U.S. and ultimately the world’s economies…..Either the government will take the necessary steps to control the budget and reduce the deficits drastically, or they will resort to monetizing the debt by printing massive amounts of new currency.

We know which option our leaders chose.

Larry went on to say that,

Logic and common sense seem to play small parts in our present society….The answer [to these and all other issues] is found in God’s Word. All of these things are but symptoms. The real problem is that we have removed God from the decision-making process in America today. When any nation does this, evil will prosper. This is not the fault of the politicians; they are responding to the wishes of the most vocal groups. It is that the unprincipled people around us seem to be more committed to their agenda than the true ‘moral majority’ is to theirs.

Larry urged us to get involved in the political process and the issues of the day so that we could make a difference for the better. I would add that if we want to leave this great nation intact for our children and grandchildren, we have no choice but to hold our leaders accountable for their foolish decisions and force them to make changes that will lead us back to the founding principles that made us exceptional.

Some wise thoughts that Larry left us:

The one certainty is that God is still in control no matter what happens….However, knowing that God is in control does not remove our responsibility to do everything possible to change what is happening or to prepare ourselves for some difficult times. As Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.’

We are to witness to those around us that God is sufficient in all things….God desires followers who will serve Him regardless of the costs. Adversity seems to strengthen us, whereas prosperity tends to weaken us. As the Prophet said in Proverbs 30:8-9, ‘Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.’

Larry Burkett left this earth entirely too soon. We need his wisdom now more than ever.

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A new friend just sent this quote by G.K. Chesterton to me. I hope it blesses you mamas who might be feeling insignificant today! You are exactly what your children need. You’re enough!

GK Chesterton quote

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I’m Excited to Announce….

Hello, Friends!

I apologize for my very sparse postings lately. I’ve been super busy with two new book projects. As you know, I published Through Deep Waters: Finding Healing and Hope in Devastating Grief in May.

Through Deep Waters

And….I’m very excited to announce that this week I published my first-ever devotional book for moms called Lord, I Need you!

Lord, I Need You

If you know moms who could use some encouragement, this is for them.

I hope you’ll check these out and help me spread the word. Thank you, Friends!

Blessings to you all.


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If I Die Tonight, I’m Not Afraid

A few years ago, I began to experience dizzy spells from time to time. It would usually last an entire day, but I would generally feel better the next day. It happened about one day a month at first. I chocked it up to genetics, as my grandfather had struggled with vertigo during his lifetime, or even hormones, as they can do crazy things to us as we age. The dizzy spells began to come more frequently and more severely over time, and they became more and more debilitating.

I woke up feeling dizzy one morning a couple of years back, but I went through the motions of my day the best I could. With four kids, there’s little time to stop and focus on my own health issues. My husband works a part-time evening job, so he was working that evening when I went to lie down on the bed to try to right my spinning world and ease the accompanying nausea.

Lying down didn’t help, so I decided to get a quick shower and get ready for bed. While I was showering, I felt an overwhelming sense of nausea, and then everything went black as I fainted and crashed to the floor. When I began to regain consciousness, I could hear my kids banging on the bathroom door, asking if I was okay. I was so weak that I couldn’t speak very loudly, but I was able to ask them to find a key and come in to help me.

I don’t know how long I was out of it, but the first thought to enter my mind when I regained my senses was this, “If I die tonight, I’m not afraid because my daddy is waiting for me.” My dad had been killed in a DUI a little over a year before this. I can’t explain the peace that flooded me in that moment, knowing that whether I lived or died that night, everything was going to be just fine. I fully realize that Heaven is about much more than being with my dad again, but the Lord was sweet to give me that thought and the peace that I needed in what would otherwise have been a very scary situation.

I was lying naked in my own vomit when my precious 10-year-old daughter was able to get into the bathroom. She helped me off of the floor of the shower and into the tub to wash myself off. My husband Trevor got home while I was in the tub. I could hardly open my eyes, and every time I tried to move, I threw up more. Trevor called my sister, an RN, and she urged him to rush me to the E.R., in case I had hit my head when I fainted.

Trevor loaded me into the car. I kept a bucket with me because the nausea wouldn’t let up. When we got to the E.R., Trevor ran in to get someone to help me out of the car. They came out with a wheelchair and rolled me straight to a room. I must’ve looked frightful, because they wasted no time in starting to work on me.

Someone immediately came to my bed and took an x-ray of my chest. After that, they rolled me down the hall for a C.T. scan. They had to stop and let me vomit into my bucket before they could even get me into the machine.

When I returned to the E.R., the nurse started an I.V. with fluids and meds to ease the nausea. My mom and sister had reached the hospital by this time, and though I couldn’t keep my eyes open for long at a time, I could see that they were terrified. I heard the nurse ask my husband if my coloring looked normal. Apparently, I was a strange, pale shade of yellow.

When the I.V. fluids and meds began to kick in, my coloring improved and I began to feel like myself again. The nausea and overwhelming fatigue subsided, and I was able to sit up and talk. It was by this time the early hours of the morning, and I convinced my mom and sister to go on home for the night.

The E.R. kept me over night. They performed every test on me that I could imagine. They ran blood tests, they checked my C.T. scan for brain tumors, they did an ultrasound of my carotid arteries, they did an EKG, and so on and so on. I felt like quite the guinea pig.

The next day, the doctor came in to release me. Her diagnosis: vertigo. She referred me to a neurologist and sent me home. I was relieved and frustrated at the same time. Vertigo caused all of that trouble and expense? I dreaded to see the bills.

The neurologist referred me to a physical therapist to help me with exercises to treat the vertigo. I never made that appointment. I googled some exercises and did them myself at home. They seemed to help a little, but the dizzy spells continued until God revealed the real cause—my diet. I was eating all of the wrong things and not getting enough protein. My body was starving for good nutrition, and the symptoms were getting worse.

I completely changed the way that I eat, and the dizzy spells have stopped. I haven’t been dizzy in over a year now. I feel better than I have ever felt, and I praise the Lord for the wisdom that He gives us to fuel our bodies the right way.

Have you ever had an experience that made you really think about entering eternity? Looking back on my night in the hospital, I realize that I wasn’t truly near death. At the time, however, no one knew what was wrong with me, and the flurry of activity around me in the E.R. was certainly unnerving, especially for my family.

My favorite verse the last few years has been Romans 8:28:

romans 8 28 for blog

I wear this verse on a bracelet that my friend gave me, and I have it on a plaque above my fireplace. I cling to this verse and believe that it’s true, even when it doesn’t feel true. That’s what faith is all about—believing God instead of our circumstances.

Our circumstances can really stink sometimes. Our loved ones can be killed; we can struggle with health problems; financial disasters can devastate us; rebellious children can break our hearts; the list is as long as there are people on the earth.

But God is good, and His plans for us are good, and He will never leave us. He is trustworthy through the best of times and the darkest of times. And though I want to live on this earth long enough to raise my children and enjoy my future grandchildren, “If I die tonight, I’m not afraid.” Can you say that, friends?

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God Doesn’t Send People to Hell

I have some thoughts swirling around in my head this morning that I need to get out. I was up early with a sick child, and when I lay back down to try to sleep again, these thoughts compelled me to get up and write. I believe that someone needs to hear this today.

When I have trouble sleeping, I usually pray. I figure that if I’m awake in the middle of the night, God wants me to spend that quiet time with Him. Often, those prayers are for my loved ones who are far from Him. My heart breaks for those who are missing out on the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father.

Many people are having difficulty reconciling a God of love with the reality of Hell. We’ve all heard this argument, or maybe you’ve used it yourself: If God is really loving, there’s no way He could send people to Hell.

God is love

I agree, and here are my thoughts about it. God truly is love. Absolutely. No doubt about it. He demonstrated that in a way that I would dare say very few of us could have done. He sent His Son to die for us. Could you do that? Could you allow your child to be brutally murdered to save people who are mean and cruel and vile and backstabbing and rude and gossipy and murderous and downright sinful?

I couldn’t. There’s no way. But God did. You know why? Because He loves us more than our human minds can even comprehend. And not only that, but He wants to hang out with us forever. And ever. And ever. That’s a super long time.

So God did the hard part. He sent His Son out of the perfection and comfort of Heaven to be tortured and die. Why? Because Jesus was the only person who ever walked the earth and didn’t do anything wrong. He never sinned. Not one of us could say that about ourselves. Even those who don’t buy into sin and Hell know that they’ve done bad things in their lives. We all have.

Because God is a just God, He can’t be with us if our hearts are rebellious and dirty. We need a sacrifice in order to be forgiven, or in other words, to bridge the gap between us and Him that is created by our sins. Jesus became that perfect sacrifice—once and for all time. He paid the price for our sins so we don’t have to.

Not only does God want us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, but He loves us so very much that He wants our lives on this earth to go well, too. He has laid out in His Word some guidelines for how we should live. Just like we, as parents, want our children to be safe and healthy and happy, so we have rules and guidelines for how they should behave.

When we live outside of those guidelines, we experience pain and hurt and bad things. We just do. There are consequences when we disobey. Some of the guidelines that come to my mind from God’s Word are:

Be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” [We should be patient and control our anger.] (James 1:19)

“Do not get drunk on wine.” [This is self explanatory.] (Ephesians 5:18)

“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” [Avoid gossip.] (2 Timothy 2:16)

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.” [Sex is only for marriage (between one man and one woman).] (Hebrews 13:4)

“He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” [Don’t co-sign loans for others.] (Proverbs 11:15)

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” [Avoid marrying or entering into business partnerships with people who don’t share your values and beliefs.]  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

And so on and so on.

God, as a loving Heavenly Father, gives us many guidelines in His Word for how we should live our lives—not to keep us from having fun or to put a damper on our lives, but to protect us. It’s very much like when we, as parents, see danger that our kids can’t see. We might restrict them from activities that we know are harmful, and they might think we are mean or prudish. In reality, we are protecting them because we know better than they do what is good for them.

When we stray from God’s guidelines and disobey His rules, we suffer. He doesn’t punish us; there are simply consequences when we live outside of the good guidelines that He set out for us. When we go our own way and think our ways are best, we often hurt ourselves and we hurt others.

Along those lines, God doesn’t send people to Hell. People choose Hell (a place of torment and eternal separation from God) when they reject God and His ways. Many people are “wise in their own eyes” and think they know what’s best. Instead of trusting the God who created them and provides for them and loves them, they go their own way and try to satisfy their deepest longings apart from Him. But do you know what? It’s impossible. We can’t fill the holes in our hearts with anything except God. It simply doesn’t work.

I totally get that life is hard and it downright stinks sometimes. We live in a broken, fallen world that is full of pain and heartache. Many people experienced unthinkable pain as children, and Satan has used those wounds to make you believe lies. Some of us have had horrific tragedies thrust into our lives—things that we didn’t ask for or deserve. But God doesn’t cause the pain. Instead, He made a way for us to live forever in a place where there’s no pain.

But we have to choose in this very brief life that we’re living now whether we will live with God for eternity or apart from Him where the pain will never end. He won’t force us to choose Him. And once our hearts stop, it’s too late to change our minds. There’s no do-over once we’re dead.

So if you’ve been struggling with some of these things, I urge you to “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” Run to Him with your hurts and your questions and your doubts. He adores you and longs for a relationship with you. He wants to heal you and fill you with joy and peace and contentment.

In Heaven, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4)

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Won’t you join me there?


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Don’t Hesitate

When my husband and I were planning our wedding in 1998, we struggled a little with what church we would plug into once we were married. Trevor had grown up in and was still attending a traditional Southern Baptist church. I was involved with a contemporary Vineyard church. We both loved our churches and worship styles, so we needed to find a church that would be a good compromise. We landed on a Southern Baptist church that had contemporary worship music and solid, biblical teaching. It was just what we needed. We grew there, made some life-long friends, and had opportunities to pour out, too, by leading some Bible studies about finances.

Three years into our marriage, my dad, a local Vineyard pastor, met with us and asked if we would pray about coming to lead the youth group at his church. We decided that God was leading us in that direction, so since 2000, we have been part of The Gainesville Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Once our own children started coming along, however, we passed the youth group on to others and have ministered in various other ways. Our kids have been blessed to grow up in my parents’ church, with Papa as their pastor.

Trevor and I have four children (plus one in Heaven). Our oldest is Caleb, born in 2002. He is the oldest of my parents’ 11 grandchildren. On April 19 last year, the Sunday before Caleb’s 13th birthday, my dad called Caleb in front of the church to pray a blessing over him–not only a pastor’s blessing but a grandfather’s blessing. Trevor stood with them and prayed a father’s blessing over Caleb as well.

As they were praying, I felt a prompting to capture the moment by taking this picture with my phone. I’m so glad I did.



Two weeks later, on May 4, my dad was killed in a hit-and-run crash by an intoxicated driver while cycling near his home. I will always treasure this picture and the memory of what Dad did for Caleb. He felt God leading him to acknowledge Caleb’s transition into manhood by praying over him. I’m so thankful that he didn’t hesitate.

We face situations every day in which we could minister to others. Maybe the grumpy cashier at the grocery store, who is obviously having a bad day (or a bad life), could use a word of encouragement. Perhaps the person behind us in the drive-thru line would appreciate our paying for his meal. Or maybe we should take a moment to write a note to (or better yet, visit) an older person who struggles with loneliness.

There are countless ways that God prompts us to reach out to those who need a touch from Him. We are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth, so God uses us to accomplish His purposes here. Do we listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit leading us as we go about our business, or are we too busy and distracted to look outward to the needs of others? When we do sense God leading us to step out, do we hesitate or do we obey?

I’m certainly guilty of hesitating or of missing the moment because I’m too inward focused at times. It takes effort to reach out to others when life is already hard and full. I wonder how many times I have missed the blessing of being used by God because I was consumed by what was going on in my own life and circumstances and didn’t obey His direction.

Here are some verses that might help us to be more intentional about ministering to others as we go about our business each day:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14

“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

“A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Let’s be intentional about obeying the promptings of the Lord without hesitation, so that we can help to bring about His Kingdom here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Jesus to return for His Church. I believe the more we help accomplish His purposes here, the sooner He will come for us. Come, Lord Jesus!


P.S. I want to let you all know about my husband’s brand new book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America. If you don’t already have a copy, check it out here. I know that I’m biased, but it’s a super amazing account of God’s hand on this nation, from the very beginning to the modern age. He discusses how we have strayed from our founding principles and what we can do to turn the tide. I hope you enjoy it!

TMAMOA Cover Spread 7.27.16




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