Honor You Father and Mother

Day Seven of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

honor scripture

I was sitting at a Women of Faith conference when, in reference to God’s word, I heard Patsy Clairmont say, “You don’t have to understand it. You have to obey it!” I felt like I had been hit in the gut. The words stung my heart. An “it” I resist obeying is the command to honor your father and mother. It’s easy for me to ignore because my dad is dead and my mom left when I was seven. However, when Patsy spoke those words, I immediately thought of my parents.

When I was six years old my mom called while I was at my dads house. I called her by her first name, intentionally being disrespectful. My dad quickly told me, “You are to call her mom. She is your mother and will always be your mother. You will respect her.” I’m thirty five years old and I remember that scolding vividly. After my mom left, my dad never once spoke a negative word about my mom, nor did he allow us to.

Then I left home and let the world shape my beliefs. By worldly standards I have every right not to honor my mom. After all, she abandoned her first five children and played no role in our upbringing; she has tortured me emotionally with evil words countless times, and battles a drug addiction. I listened to the lies of the world. “She is not a real mother.” “She stopped being your mom the minute she walked out of your life.” “She does not deserve your love.” I let the lies consume me… until I became a follower of Christ.

I have walked down the very long road of forgiveness and the majority of time I am at peace with the grievances I have with my mom. My story of forgiveness will need to be told another day but know it was filled with failure, hurt, tears, hope and redemption. We still do not have a relationship, but instead have limited contact for the safety of my children. I have consumed myself with focusing on obeying God’s command of forgiveness so much so that I made it okay to sweep the whole honor your mother thing under the rug.

To forgive means to pardon or excusing an offense without extracting a penalty. Honor means to give great respect or hold in high regard. Do you see the difference?

That brings me to  a few  years ago on September 27. I was watching the show Parenthood with my husband. An overbearing mother was being depicted. I instantly reverted to my childhood. Growing up, my friends would gripe that their moms were too nosy, didn’t understand, or too controlling. You know the typical mother/daughter conflicts. Little did they know I yearned to have that mom because mine was not around. As those memories resurfaced, the date suddenly popped into my head. It was my moms birthday. I remembered the words, “You do not have to understand it. You have to obey it.”

I picked up my phone and I sent my mom a text that simply said, “Happy Birthday .” To which she responded, “…thank you so much, you bring tears of joy to my eyes. I love you.” I was so conflicted in that moment. Truthfully, I was angry because I don’t remember her once calling me on my birthday. Not once. It’s not fair that I should bring joy to this person who’s never brought me anything but heartache? The truth is life is not fair. Do I understand? Nope, not at all. If I dwell on my need to understand “it” I give Satan a foothold. If I obey “it” as God commanded, I am bringing Him glory.

Is there something in God’s word that you resist obeying because you do not understand it?

Give Thanks in All Circumstances



Day Six of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture give thanks scripture

Whenever I am struggling with having a thankful heart I am reminded of two things. 1.) The book One Thousand Gifts and 2.) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

One Thousand Gifts will slowly transform your heart. I continually reap the benefits from putting what the author, Ann, calls Eucharisteo into practice. We know that we are to give thanks and praise. That we are to rejoice always but we don’t always grasp how to put that into practice. Especially when we are called to give praise and be joyful for the mundane task of being a housewife.

The book recounts her journey after she accepts a dare to write down one thousand gifts. In other words a dare to find joy and be thankful for the life she is living right now. It was refreshing to read her honest struggle with everyday life while working out the demons of her past. I think we can all relate to being in prayer with God and feeling refreshed only to find ourselves moments later screaming at your children. No? Only Me?

I will be honest. It took me a really long time to read this book and I even tried to give up a few times. Her writing was not easy for me to follow. She tangles her words together like poetry causing my soul to search out the meaning. Being forced to slow down to decipher and enjoy the beauty of the story was not what I had signed up for. I suppose that is the whole point of the book right? To slow down and enjoy life right now.

She is constantly reminded throughout the book that thanksgiving always precedes a miracle. She discovers it is impossible to be truly thankful without feeling joy. Is this what being in constant prayer feels like? Even in the mundane we are to give thanks for the clothes made dirty by healthy and spirited kids, dishes used because we have food to nourish our bodies and a house to clean because we have shelter. Is this contentment?

Years after reading the book I still find my heart searching for my own desire to be in constant thanksgiving. I challenge you to join me in our own dare to write down one thousand gifts from our everyday life. Let’s slow down and take in the world around us. Open our eyes to give thanks and receive joy.

Do you have a gratitude journal?

Do you struggle with finding joy in the mundane?

Will you accept the One Thousand Gifts challenge?


The Secret of Being Content

Day Five of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture content scripture

We know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made according to Gods plan but that isn’t enough for us. We continue to think the grass is greener on the other side. Who we are and what we have are no longer sufficient when we compare it to our neighbor.

Philippians 4:12 tells us, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” 

Below is a list of the most common areas I allow comparison to suck the joy right out of me:

My Husband: When I was newly married I would take note of how other husbands treated their wives. I secretly wished my husband would do this or that. In the middle of one of our many arguments as newlyweds I yelled, “Why can’t you be more like so and so (one of his friends)! He is always so loving towards his wife!” He was silent for a moment and then he proceeded to list the multitude of sins committed by his friend when he is not around his wife.

Remedy: I realize I start to compare my husband when I think he is falling short in some way. When I recognize that trigger I immediately remind myself he is made in Christ image just for me. He once told me he is the best man he knows how to be right now but is trying to be a better man each and every day. I hold onto these words.

Material Things: Being a stay at home mom is a priority for both Mr. C and myself. However that also means we live on his income alone. Even though we are more than provided for there are times when I get a bad case of the wants. Instead of celebrating the fact my friends were able to get new furniture, a new car or went on a cool vacation, I develop envy. All of a sudden being proud we saved enough to get my daughter braces isn’t worth celebrating. I want stuff!

Remedy: I have realized my triggers come from watching too much television or flipping through one to many magazines. We live in a world that has brainwashed us to believe we deserve just about everything. In reality we don’t deserve anything, yet Christ still died for us. Shouldn’t that be enough? To combat my wants I make a list of everything I am thankful for until the envy goes away.

Faith: This is embarrassing to write but I find myself comparing my faith to others. I find myself thinking, “Oh how I wish I had her prayer life” or “I will never have her knowledge of the Bible” or “She is always so calm and glows with the Holy Spirit.” It’s true. I want to be a good little Bible study girl but feel like a hypocrite anytime I flip off my husband or yell at my kids! Then I compare myself to the godly woman I know and wonder why I can’t be more like them.

Remedy: I stand firm in the truth that no one is without sin. We are all given different gifts according to the grace given to each of us (Romans 12:6). I celebrate my imperfect progress. Of course, I remind myself that eleven years ago I didn’t even own a Bible!

Whatever your areas of comparison are it is important to recognize what they are, what triggers them and how to remedy it. I recommend you start by praying for wisdom, discernment and for continued joy.

It is amazing how quickly my joy returns.

Satan loves when we do his work for him. I refuse to let him win. What area of comparison is sabotaging your joy?


The Plank in Your Own Eye

Day Four of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

plank scripture

It is common knowledge that we are commanded not to judge others. I like to believe in the grand scheme of things, for the most part, I do a good job of living this out. In fact on most days I would say I go above and beyond to extend grace to the world at large.

However, on occasion, I have those days. The kind of days when I find myself wondering what the heck is just wrong with some people and/or making assumptions based on outside perceptions. Maybe you have had them too?

If I am being honest here, sometimes those days turn into weeks and even months. All of a sudden I appoint myself keeper of the moral compass others are to use to live out their lives.

The crazy thing is I often find myself being applauded for my beliefs as I pass judgment on others. It is easy to stand on a soapbox and rant about topics that already carry a bandwagon of others who think the same way. This is why we are called to live in this world but nor of it.

I am purposely trying to avoid naming the exact actions I tend to judge for the sake of living out scripture and all. Just think about the topics you have strong opinions about. Parenting, marriage, finances, politics or religion to name a few.

It is possible to have strong opinions and not pass judgment. However, it is extremely easy to cross the line when our hearts are not equipped to discern the beginning stages of Satan’s stronghold in this area. Which brings me to the whole point of this post. When I find myself passing judgment on someone else it is most likely because I am struggling with sin in my own life.

I love the way the message translates Matthew 7:1-5

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Ouch! I don’t know about you but I tend to recognize the sin I am struggling with in others before I realize it for myself. I am blinded by the proverbial plank in my eye. Now that I know this to be true I am on alert for ways in which I can live out this verse.

My defense is simple. Anytime I find myself starting to travel the road of self-righteousness I start yelling, “Plank in my eye! Plank in my eye!” Look I am not an expert on how not to judge but I do know this silly little trick of mine works for me.

You must be willing to confess you’re blinded by a plank before you can stop yourself from passing judgment .

Anytime I find myself starting to say, “I would never…What was she/he thinking…How could they…I would too if…” chances are I’m about to pass judgment and it causes me to pause. I then start to search myself for whatever sin I might be harboring.

We could all use the following steps to live out Matthew 7:1-3:

1.) Acknowledge and confess we are susceptible to passing judgment.
2.) Set up safeguards to discern when we are passing judgment.
3.) Seek out the sin in our own lives.
4.) Confess and seek forgiveness for both passing judgment and our sin.

I’m not saying that once you admit your struggle you should be able to live a life without judgment. This is simply not true. We are not perfect people. None the less we are called in our walk to become more like Christ. This is an imperfect, progressive journey.

How do you live out Matthew 7:1-3?

I Will Meditate on your Wonderful Works

Day Three of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

majesty scripture

Lately I feel like I have been going through the motions. I read my Bible, go to church, and tend to my duties as a mom and wife. Instead of seeing God, I see the multiple piles of laundry on the floor, a grocery list, a dirty restroom, emails to be returned, bills to be paid, bickering children and a stressed husband.

Psalms 145:5 says, “They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
And I will meditate on your wonderful works.”

In his song “I Saw God Today”, George Strait sings, “I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book, I know He is there but I don’t look, near as often as I should. His fingerprints are everywhere, I just look down and stop and stare, open my eyes and then I swear, I Saw God today.”

Do you want to see God today? It’s simple. Do what the song says and open your eyes!

When is the last time you paused and admired His creation? Take time to praise Him for the morning sun, the night sky, the birds in the air and the mountains in the backdrop.

Has praying over your meal become routine? Seek to go grow closer to God and gain renewed heart of thanks for our food by fasting.

Do you ever look for God in your mirror? You should. God created us in His own image. I challenge you to look in the mirror every day and see God.

With my eyes wide open, I can see all the provisions given to me by God. My children are clothed and fed, I have able legs, indoor plumbing, friendships, an income, God’s precious gift to me and a man who loves me so much he bares the sole burden of providing for our family.

Shine Like a Star in the Sky

Day Two of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

Shine Scripture

Parenting is hard. Mr. C. and I are lifelong members of the trial and error parenting club. There is plenty we get wrong. That is why we are insanely intentional about the words in which we speak to our children on a daily basis.

Now look, there are a plethora of things that come out of my mouth I immediately regret. Teenagers, anyone? However, I am talking about words or phrases that our children hear us say to them every day.

For example, every single time any of our children leave I will say to them, “Shine like a star.” Why? Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

We very purposely pick phrases of scripture as a reminder of how we expect them to live.

. “We sang and discussed This Little Light of Mine a bazillion times when they were little. Their bedtime prayers to this day include phrases like, “Lord help them get a restful night of sleep so they can wake refreshed and ready to let your light shine through them.”

From a young age they knew when we said, “Shine like a star”  we were talking about letting their inner light shine by being examples of Jesus. When they discovered the verse was actual scripture they were blown away. “Mom did you know the Bible says to shine like a star?” It led to a great conversation about what the Bible says it looks like to actually live that out.

Naturally, the kids flipped the script and asked, “Mom does that mean you get to shine like a star too!? I love how they see this verse as a gift. Something we get to do.

I find that I am much better at being intentional about how we raise our kids and not so much when it comes to my own life.

So what does shinning like a star in the sky look like for an adult? Exactly the same!

We are told in Verse 14 to do everything without grumbling or arguing, contrary to how the dark world lives. In doing so we will be blameless and pure causing us to shine bright.

I love this visual of shining like a star in the sky. We are city people. Seeing stars shine bright doesn’t exist where we live. We have to literally drive miles away, out to the middle of no where, to fully understand how amazing and bright stars shine against the dark of the night. It is the perfect analogy for having to go in a different direction of the world in order to shine.

Are you shining like a star in the sky?

What keeps you from grumbling and arguing?

How can you remind yourself to live this verse out daily?

31 Days of Living Out Scripture

31 days of scripture

It’s official. I am participating in the #Write31Days Challenge. It’s an online writing challenge started by The Nester, and now hosted by Crystal Stine. For 31 days, starting today, bloggers will write about a topic of their choosing for the entire month of October.

Last year I felt convicted to write about living out scripture. It is a topic I have been journaling about for years for application in my own life. I joined the challenge at the sole prompting of the Holy Spirit and failed to complete it.

I truly believe it was an introduction to what God would have in store for me. Since last year’s challenge I have found myself in situations where I am given the opportunity to lead other women to live out scripture in their own lives.

Every time I speak on the topic my heartbeat quicken, words race out of my mouth a million times a minute, and my hands wave around as if they are landing an airplane. That small fire lit by the Holy Spirit last year has turned into a full-fledged wild-fire I now call a passion.

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

What often happens is we sit in church, a Bible study, a conference, or even in our personal time and shake our head yes and shout, “Amen!” in agreement but as soon as we walk out the door or close our Bible nothing changes. We are filled with nothing more than head knowledge.

Friends we are called to action. However, that action looks different for each of us because we have all been uniquely made and are in different stages in life.

It is my hope that over the next 31 days you discover practical ways to apply scripture to your life today, like right now.

I preach progress not perfection. That’s my goal, pure and simple. 31 Days of Living Out Scripture Round Two, are you ready? Let’s Go.

Day 1:  But be doers of the Word, not hearers only.” James 1:22 Commit to 31 Days of Living Out Scripture. Simple, right?

Day 2: Shine like a star in the sky” Phillipians 2:15 Do everything without grumbling and arguing.

Day 3: “I will meditate on your wonderful works.” Psalms 145:5 Pause and admire God’s creation.

Day 4: “The plank in your own eye.” Matthew 7:4 Acknowledge and confess, Set up safeguards, and Confess and seek forgiveness for both passing judgment and our sin.

Day 5: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Philippians 4:12.  Whenever you feel joy start to seep out give praise and thanks to the Lord for all of your blessings.

Day 6 “Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Write down daily gifts from your everyday life you are thankful for.

Day 7: “Honor your father and mother” Exodus 20:12 Acknowledge that honor means to give great respect or hold in high regard.

Do what you can…

do what you can

My mind has been racing a million miles a minute over the last couple of weeks. I have ideas, plans, goals, dreams, wants, needs, and a tad bit of time. The problem is I get so overwhelmed my wheels keep on spinning but I’m going nowhere fast.

I keep telling myself when I have all my ducks in a row I’ll move forward. I am a pro at his type of procrastinating excuse. I’ll open my home to others as soon as I get new furniture and maybe hang up some décor on the walls. . I’ll reach out to that friend in need just as soon as things calm down at home. I’ll finish writing my book as soon as I replace my ancient computer. I’ll write that blog series as soon as I give my blog an update or switch domains. I’ll chase my dream with reckless abandoned as soon as I build a platform. I suffer greatly from “as soon as” disease. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

In Jen Hatmaker’s book For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards she writes in part,

“Sometime you throw out logic and run your own race…Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies…The timing is never right. Forget that.”

Look, there is still plenty I want to do that requires resources I simply am not in a position to acquire at the moment. However, there is so much more I could be doing with what I have to get myself one step closer. It is impossible to get to the finish line without taking the necessary steps to build a foundation.

So here I sit with my ducks scattered all over the place ready to run my race.

The first item on the list is participating in the Write 31 Days challenge. It starts on Thursday, October 1st. I am excited because I get to write about something I am passionate about, living out scripture, while keeping you updated on our family’s journey.

I am excited and scared. Those are the best kinds of feelings of hope, in my opinion. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt I encourage you to join me to


About Our Neighbors

We live next door to a halfway house for men.

We didn’t know that before we moved in. Perhaps it’s a good thing because given my reaction when I found out we probably wouldn’t have moved.

Within the first few days of living here I noticed the randomness of people coming and going next door. I saw vans drive up, men hop in, and drive away. Maybe some people would have suspected a drug house but I didn’t because unfortunately I am way to familiar with halfway houses.

My thirty-four year old brother, Benny, has been in an out of them since he was twelve. He has graduated to a life of being in an out of jail. He is lost in the world of addiction. My heart hurts and his story is his. My point is I am now living next door to a house of men just like my brother.

My first reaction was fear. I may or may not have seen one to many episodes of Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Blue Blood and Dateline. That didn’t change the fact that I have a thirteen year old naive daughter…and ugh, it pains me to say my greater fear may have been for my eight year old daughter. I’m not proud of my thoughts. There were tears and regrets.

My husband was outside the other day and over heard a conversation between a couple of the men.

One man was inquiring about one of their roommates who had been asked to leave. They found paraphernalia in his room. One of the conditions of being allowed in the house is to be sober for thirty days prior to entering the home and remain so.

The other acknowledged how hard being sober was. He began drinking when he was thirteen years old. His mother, an alcoholic, kept gallons of vodka on hand. It was only a matter of time before he took his first drink.

They both felt true sorrow for their brief roommate.

We have been here for two months and there have been no incidences whatsoever. My fear has subsided but our guard is not down.

Addiction runs deep in our family. My mother is a junkie and my father was an alcoholic. It hits home. I stopped asking why and begin asking what. What can we do to serve them?

It is hard with turn over but there is someone who is in charge on-sight at all hours. I don’t know who they are or if they live in the home. I’m not sure how to approach the situation or figure that out. I know Mr. C will take the lead because well, safety and all that jazz.

I do know the greatest thing we can do is be a neighbor. We can show compassion and treat these men with dignity. We can encourage and support them as they attempt to turn their life around. I know I that’s what I want for my own brother.


Buda or Bust

buda 1

Today I am heading out to Austin, technically Buda, to attend the For The Love Launch Team Party at Jen Hatmaker’s farm-house. This is happening for me thanks to generosity of anonymous donors who covered my air fare and a place for me to stay. Pinch me, right?

This weekend we celebrate everything the For The Love book was intended to do. We built a tribe of women who are each doing their part, in their own way, to make this world a better place.

I started to get nervous and felt unworthy of this trip. I started to put too much focus on worldly things and not the purpose of this celebration. I wrote this in our face book group:

buda 2

It has been a relief to know I am coming to celebrate with friends who love and accept me just the way I am. I hope to be able to extend that same feeling in return.

I will be posting pictures of my journey on instagram jenniemarie_76. You can also follow the hash tag #BudaOrBust and #ftlLaunchParty