Rooted in Love

The other day, my husband sent a text message to my daughter. It was a photo of a perfect meal for one set on an outdoor table, to which she replied, “Mmmm, I want some!” His passion and talent for food prep developed later in life.

He responded that nothing would make him happier than if she joined him for dinner.

Seeing as she lives in Las Vegas and he in New York, they couldn’t easily share an impromptu back porch meal together, but it got me thinking. She seems like his most favorite person in the world.

Some wives may take issue with that, but considering our circumstances, it brings me joy. You see, I look at my daughter and believe she inherited the best qualities I could have passed on to her – and thankfully, not many of the ones I wouldn’t have wanted to.

Both of my children are uniquely their own – borrowing qualities from their parents and carving their own way simultaneously. But as with my daughter, my son happened to inherit a few of his dad’s best qualities. Being in his company often reminds me of spending time with my husband when we first met. He was always easy to be around, embodying the kind and gentle nature that first attracted me to him.

As parents, I don’t think we could have loved our kids any more than we did. I was personally accused of over-loving them – you know, Italian-mother-smothering kind of love. To this day, my kids will exasperatedly admit to others just how much I love them. Nonetheless, I consider my mission complete that they are so secure in our love for them.

In raising our children, we trusted God to fill in where we fell short. His immeasurable love in giving up His only son for us was the perfect model of parental sacrifice and unconditional love we could have followed. We did our best to emulate His example, though at times, our human condition stunted our efforts.

In addition to loving our children, we exercised discipline. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I am simply amazed at the truth of King Solomon’s advice. When discipline is rooted in love, the reward and fruit of that practice will remain from childhood and beyond.

On the other hand, when there is no training or structure, when there is abuse or discord, the results of that rearing can remain deep-seeded within an individual and often times reveal their damage later in life. Something we experienced first-hand. Proverbs 22:5 “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.”

Through no fault of his own, a child who grows up in a family of abuse, may not fully escape the effects of mistreatment. We thank God that my husband did not become an abuser, as often is often the case with children who experience such tragedy, but it did afflict him to a degree. Though he dealt with the pain of his childhood experiences, bringing it out into the open and choosing to forgive, it crept back into his life, eventually robbing our family of some of the fruit we’d worked so hard to harvest.

My husband and I remain married, but have been separated for quite sometime. I’ve always loved him, but couldn’t give him what he needed or repair what he experienced as a child. That which I do not understand, I leave with God in prayer. Now, as he chooses to be in my daughter’s company over anyone in the world, I am grateful that our love and discipline as parents was rewarded through our children. For all that I could not be for my husband, I find comfort that he can enjoy the best of me through her.

 

 

When God Decides

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Sometimes decisions come easy. Other times, making them is torture. And still other times, God takes them right out of your hands and makes them for you.

In March, my future-nephew’s groomsmen began to plan a destination bachelor party in Costa Rica to celebrate the groom. As a groomsman, my twenty-two-year-old son was invited to take part in the festivities. Taking into account the many factors of participating (e.g.: traveling out of the country unaccompanied by... um me, roving with a pack of unpredictable twenty-somethings, the traditional “bachelor party” activities, and the inevitable “partying” and consumption of alcohol), it’s only fair to say that I was uncomfortable with the prospect of my son going. In addition to the list of potential concerns, I considered the financial aspect of an international trip. My son is a golf caddie at two private courses, which offers financial benefits, but not without a price. He works long, hard hours, especially through the summer season, and his caddie-master would have to approve the 4-day August getaway.

I knew how much it meant to my niece and her fiancé for her cousin to bond with the wedding party, so I began to look at flights. With apprehension to wholeheartedly consent to the foreign country soirée, we booked his flights on a carrier that allowed cancellations without penalties. He would fly from Long Island, layover in Baltimore, and meet the rest of the bridal party at the airport in CR. The worst case scenario was that he wouldn’t be able to go, and he’d have the credits towards future travel. We expedited his paperwork to renew his passport and covered as many bases as we could to prepare. We invited God to add His two cents (there’s no substitute for His invaluable input) and we both knew that if God wanted my son to be there, He’d watch over him along the way.

My son was pumped for the trip. Unbeknownst to him, the best man had rented an extravagant waterfront mansion with a private chef and house staff on-hand. Zip-lining, quadding, and boating excursions were all planned. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a twenty-two-year-old (or anyone for that matter).

My kids know that my tireless faith is often paired with preparation and information. In classic mom-like fashion, I researched all the dangers of traveling to Costa Rica (like any paranoid – I mean practical – mother would). The Internet warned visitors of pick-pocketing and theft as the number one danger, so I encouraged my son to separate his money into different compartments and be aware of his surroundings at all times. He even agreed to leave one of his favorite accessories, his Bulova watch, at home, to avoid being targeted.

At 3:45 AM on the morning of the flight, with just a few hours of sleep, I swiped my alarm off and jumped up. Within minutes, my phone rang; it was my son calling from his room in a panic.

“Mom, my flight’s been delayed five hours! I’m going to miss my connecting flight!”

Completely caught off guard, I went to my Southwest app to get the flight status.

“Just get ready, we’re out of here in fifteen minutes,” I insisted.

I immediately phoned the airline to see our options. They offered a flight out the following morning, but had nothing available for that day. Reluctant to accept the airline’s offer, we headed to the Islip airport, joined by every other passenger on that flight... and then some.

While waiting in line for over an hour, my niece and I searched online for another flight that would get him to Costa Rica that day. The rest of the groomsmen were scheduled to leave out of Orlando at 11:45 AM and there was one seat left on their JetBlue flight for $409. In an attempt to get my son to Florida before the departure of that flight, we realized that a Southwest 6:05 AM flight was boarding upstairs. The Internet booking showed the flight as unavailable, but when we finally approached the counter, we asked if he could go stand-by. The agent tapped the screen of her computer quickly then said, “I can get him on that flight, but his luggage will never make it!” I looked at my son and his luggage, which was a full-sized bag, containing enough toiletries to serve all ten groomsmen.

“I am not traveling all the way to Costa Rica without my stuff,” he promptly stated. I irrationally asked if I could run the luggage out to the tarmac myself.

The representative wrinkled her nose, yet proceeded to answer my ridiculous request. “TSA has strict guidelines, but we are running out of time… the flight is boarding now. I’d have to call up to the gate to let them know he is coming.”

We briefly expressed regret for not using the 21” carry-on size luggage. At the time, we’d figured if the bags flew for free, he may as well enjoy the luxury of a larger bag.

With a defeated response he asked, “Is there anything else? Even if I have to go tomorrow?” But there weren’t any other flights headed that way. The next morning flight, which we turned down earlier, was now booked solid.

“Don’t cancel your 11:00 AM flight to Baltimore,” the representative suggested. “Go sit down and see if you can get from there to Costa Rica on any other airline, then submit the cost to Southwest, along with a straightforward explanation of what happened. I bet the airline will reimburse you.”

As we walked back to the car to swipe through the truly unrealistic options left, my son’s countenance began to change. We considered everything from getting on the first lag of the trip to Baltimore to driving into JFK, LaGuardia, or even Newark to get a direct flight to Costa Rica. With each effort, our options were shot down due to unavailability or an astronomical fare. I kept saying, “If we can get you on this one, you go, if not…”

But to my surprise, my son shifted gears. He swiftly turned and headed back into the airport. We waited in line once again, but when he reached a different representative at the counter, he concisely and clearly stated his case. The woman listened and after listening to her disappointing response, he spoke: “Cancel my flight.”

“Wait, what?” I was shocked. “Bud, before you do that, let’s think about this.”

“I have thought about it. It’s very apparent that God doesn’t want me to be there. I’m not going.”

“Sir, do you accept this cancellation?” the Southwest agent asked.

I jumped right in, conflicted and confused, still fighting for his case, “No! He has nine groomsmen waiting on him.” But he was resolute and accepted that the tap of her finger would be the final step of him not going to the bachelor party.

I couldn’t believe how maturely he handled the situation. With grace. As soon as we got on the road toward home, he called his caddie-master to let him know his trip had been canceled, to which his boss replied, “Awesome! Well, terrible for you, but awesome for me.” Then I heard him say, “It’s the busiest weekend of the entire season. You’ll have work all weekend. Be here at 11:00 AM. Caddie meeting.”

Neither of us can say why God had a different plan for my son that weekend. Was He protecting him from something? Maybe. Was he just asking him to trust Him? Probably. We reflected on the many possibilities. But the most incredible divincidence had yet to take place.

The following day at work, all the caddies were shocked to see my son with a golf bag over each shoulder. He scrolled through the pictures the groomsmen sent of the Costa Rica mansion, when one of the caddies pointed to the photo and said, “Hey, that’s Mike’s cousin’s house in Costa Rica!” Mike was a caddie at the course. With a confirmation that it was, in fact, his cousin’s house, Mike managed to get my son an open invitation to stay there anytime he wanted.

My son’s flight may have been delayed, but God’s delays are not always denials. He will get to take the once-in-a-lifetime trip… when God decides.

 

Mom Knows Blessed

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Parents do a lot for their children. Mothers, especially, can argue that until their child is of a certain age, they do everything for them. But outside of the feeding, bathing, clothing, advising, praying, and general parenting that we do, I wonder: are we blessing our children with the words that come out of our mouths? We must recognize that there is power behind what we say to and about our children.

I often wondered why my son was so musically inclined. (Surely, my husband and I didn’t pass on the gifts of perfect pitch and inspired rhythm.) Was it because he was talented or because from the first day he picked up a drumstick at age two I told him he was talented?

Likewise, did my daughter’s personal and spiritual transformation take place as a random act of God or because I declared the words, “This will be your summer,” over her at the age of seventeen? I always knew the importance of words, the power they held, and their ability to manifest into reality; but I don’t think I expected to see the fruit of the words I spoke over my children materialize so clearly and abundantly.

It’s pretty evident that when God speaks, whatever He calls forth, materializes. The first lines in the book of Genesis document how powerful God’s word is over the act of creation. As our Father, scripture after scripture assures us that we, His children, have the ability to speak, declare, and decree blessings over our lives and the lives of our children, too.

So, are we maximizing the incredible gift we’ve been given? Can we, as parents, be more intentional in what we say so that our children receive the full benefits of our creative power?

God’s will plays an integral part in what we see come to fruition. Not every parent prays or speaks “God’s will” over their children. Like an over-used promise, “You’ll be the next president, Son,” which surely won’t come to pass for a kindergartner. But don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying all of our prayers should be confined to what we can conceptualize in our reasonable imaginations. In the case of my daughter, I had no idea how prophetic my words would be, or the magnitude of adventure that would follow. But I do believe that the clincher for my daughter and I to see the outrageous results we did was that not only did I declare them over her, but she repeated and to some degree, believed them.

Excerpt from Just Believe:

I reminded her. “You have the rest of the summer. Remember what I told you in the beginning of the summer?”
“Yeah, this is going to be ‘my summer,’” she said quietly as she bent her pointer and middle fingers up and down to indicate quotes.
I had a feeling about that summer. Seventeen was a magical age and my motherly intuition revealed that it was going to be a special year for Des. I didn’t have a particular reason, just an internal knowing, that there was a surprise in store for her.

As reluctant or doubtful as my daughter may have been, she confirmed my words by repeating what I had declared. Within three days of doing so, something extraordinary happened to her.

1 Corinthians 14:3 reminds us that our words are meant to encourage and strengthen one another. Speaking a blessing over your children was serious business in the Hebrew culture. In fact, the firstborn blessing was so powerful that when Isaac prayed it over his son Jacob instead of the rightful heir of the blessing, Esau, he couldn’t take his words back. The father’s blessing:

Genesis 27:28-29 "Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you."

Isaac’s powerful words, once spoken, were ironclad. Therefore, let us be mindful of the words we speak to and about our children. Let our intentions be pure and inline with God’s word. And when we don’t know what to pray, let us pray that God’s will be done in their lives. That there would be clarity, joy, and abundance, where He sees fit. God has gifted us with an awesome endowment and responsibility. May our ultimate goal be to use it for His glory, our children’s highest calling, benefit, and blessings.

If you liked this, we think you'll love our book, Just Believe: Every Summer Has a StoryScroll down to read a sample!

Literal Faith

I often wondered how to realistically accept God’s promises on a personal level. His promises are so grand and unimaginable that as an adult, there’s always a small whisper of reality or doubt that used to hover over my belief. I’d hear Isaiah 43:2 “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze,” and think, Ok, but if I literally walked through flames, I would be burnt.

Years ago, I wrote a children’s Christmas story and submitted it for critique to my local Scribblers Christian Writer’s Group – a talented panel of writers and editors. It took me years to present it to any non-family, non-biased readers, but I had reached a point where I thought the story was quite good. Needless to say, I was eager to hear their feedback. To my relief, they thought it was very clever and had a great new slant on a story that’s been told before. However – there’s always a however in any valuable critique –  when I submitted it to a professional team of writers and editors at a conference, they didn’t see the story to be positioned as I had planned… for children.

“Oh, I don’t think this story is for a child,” one of the evaluators said.

“But it’s about Christmas… and Santa,” I stammered.

“Yes,” they acknowledged, “but children are literal.”

Children are literal? I thought. Mickey Mouse wears gloves, suspenders, and shoes the size of boats… do they think he’s a real mouse?

Their evaluation of my supposed-children’s story took a negative turn when I enhanced a factual story with fictional concepts. In my mind, I took creative license to spin a fable that could be true; but with no evidence of truth, the panel believed it could confuse a child. I guess when a child sees a dog driving a car or a frog transforming into a prince they are certain it is a work of fiction… <insert eye roll emoji here>.

After a second critic’s opinion concurred with the former, I left the room, manuscript in hand, and repeated their words over and over to myself, “Children are literal,” trying desperately to see my story from their perspective.

I honestly didn’t know what they meant, seeing as children are the bearers of the greatest imaginations and make-pretend stories. Surely they would read my story through their creative, childlike eyes. I can’t say that I had clarity or agreed with their advice, but the words, “children are literal” rang in my head for sometime.

That is until one day, about a year later, when I turned on the TV to watch a favorite preacher of mine. His warm-hearted anecdotes, simple as they were, always delivered a deeper message for me. The story he told answered the question that had confounded me. It went something like this:

A little girl came to her father and asked, “Daddy will you build me a dollhouse?”

“Yes,” the father answered, “I will.” He returned to the book he was reading.

A few minutes later, he looked out the window into the backyard where he saw his daughter carrying armfuls of toys, dolls, and tea sets.  After watching her make trip after trip, he approached his wife.

“What is Melanie Jan doing?”

“Well,” the mother said, “you promised to build her a dollhouse and she believed you, so she is preparing for it.”

The father quickly put down his book and ran to the lumberyard to purchase building supplies to build the dollhouse. He didn’t do it because he wanted to, or because felt like it; he did it because his daughter had the faith to believe he would do what he said. Her faith motivated her to action; and in turn, her faith in her father motivated him to action.

It’s no wonder Jesus tells His disciples, “Unless you come like little children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s not complicated for a child to do this; they take words at face value, which is why Melanie Jan was moving her toys to the proposed site of her dollhouse. It was as simple as believing the words her father said.

As adults, we recognize that there are two dimensions to our words. What they actually mean – the literal definition – and what we mean by saying them – the figurative implication. The latter is where we developed the term “figure of speech”. Most adults would subscribe to the idea that Melanie Jan jumped the gun – figuratively speaking. But, in her innocence, she prepared for what her father promised. As should we!

Our God does not mince words. He wants us to take His promises at face value. If He says we can move mountains with faith the size of a mustard seed, He means just that. When He says come boldly to the throne of Grace, then boldly we should come. God doesn’t just want us to believe in Him, He wants us to believe Him, prepare for His promises, take Him at His word, and do it with childlike faith. If Melanie Jan’s father jumped up and ran to the lumberyard in an instant, think how much more quickly our heavenly Father can be moved to action because of the faith we put in Him.

While I may struggle to accept the final opinion of the writer’s panel, I do accept this: God cares for me, He loves me, and He saved me… literally.

 

Yay God

Like most Christian families, we pray grace over our dinner — and every other meal we sit down to. One evening (two or so decades ago) we clasped hands and recited our grace prayer; but at the end, to our surprise, my three-year-old son pumped his tiny fist in the air and shouted, “Yay God!” My daughter, husband, and I giggled at the spontaneity of his passionate gesture, while he nonchalantly reached for a piece of Italian bread.

“Hey Buddy...” I asked between snickers, “where’d you learn that?”

“St. Anthony’s Small Friars,” he reported. “We say grace before snack, then… ‘Yay, God,’” his hand immediately fisted and pumped once again.

From that day forward, “Yay God” became a family cheer after every grace, with a fist pump into the air to top it off. What started as an innocent expression, turned into a powerful gesture at our table. Friends and guests who sat down to eat with us for the first time were probably caught off guard, but mimicked our actions joyfully.

Since then, every time someone shared good news — my husband signing a great contract or one of the kids landing a solo in the school chorus — we all repeated the phrase and praise fist pump, “Yay God!”

However light-hearted the gesture, I realized that God deserved our praise more often than we gave it throughout the day. Had I been blind to all the favor He poured into our lives before or was there more to celebrate now because in some small way we accredited God for every good thing that came our direction? Maybe a little of both. But what do you do when things aren’t necessarily going your way? When it seems like situations and circumstances continue to come against you? It may be the perfect opportunity to consider the sacrifice of praise.

I never used to understand that phrase like I do today. God showed it to me at a time when I really didn’t want to hear or see it. The messy stuff had hit the fan and knocked me on my rear. I had all to do to keep my mouth shut, so my tongue didn’t have the opportunity to wreak further havoc.

I heard God say, “Praise me.”

I snapped back, “Are You kidding? In the midst of all of this, I have all to do-- “ But He cut me off.

“Praise Me.”

The sacrifice of praise came to mind. So this it what that means? But… I don’t feel like it. Praising is the last thing I want to do right now. As dreadful as I felt, I would never dismiss a request from God. I couldn’t muster up much, but I half-heartedly pumped my fist in the air and muttered, “Yay God.” Those two small words – the sacrifice of spitting them out of my mouth in the midst of adversity – was enough to turn things around. I can’t say whether things got better or I began to see them in a different light, but I can definitely attribute my change in outlook to the small, but powerful, gesture my son taught us at the dinner table that night.

When all’s well, it’s easy to say, “Yay God.” When the world is crumbling around you, it’s time to find the power behind the sacrifice of praise. Muster up the strength to pump your fist high and form those words... “Yay God.”

 

God's Impeccable Timing

A note from the authors of Just Believe

Just Believe is a true story – one that changed our lives forever. Ironically, when our story unfolded ten years ago, we didn’t quite know the lasting impact it would have on us.

Preparing the writer…

For over 20 years, Christy wrote inspirational and Christian-based stories for children. She spent her free time as a student of the Word, constantly learning from her mentors, like Joyce Meyer and Joseph Prince. Her priority, though, was raising her children, leaving little time to publish her books. She always hoped the window of opportunity would open to share the gifts God gave her.

Living the story…

In 2007, seventeen-year-old Destiny felt called to chase a BIG dream. Her mom, Christy, related to the longing her daughter had to experience the extraordinary. When Destiny’s outrageous request became a reality, she and her mom stood in awe of God’s unmerited favor, His promises that never failed, and His divine intervention navigating every twist and turn of their journey. At the end of the road, Christy discovered their ultimate destination… Destiny’s transformation.

Though mother and daughter were completely changed by their experience, they had yet to realize the fullness of God’s plan.  

Until it all came together…

Unfolding through a decade of writing, revelation abounding from one chapter to the next, God ultimately revealed that He was working through our lives to write a story that would change yours.

The miracle is not just in the happening; it’s in His impeccable timing.

We hope you love reading Just Believe as much as we enjoyed living it. Every summer has a story… what will yours be?

A Look Inside Just Believe

Christy

           My daughter Destiny sat in front of the computer like she did every afternoon, glued to the screen and the Instant Messages she received. She tapped noisily on the keyboard, as if the keys would run away if she did not snap them back into place. A shrill screech, followed by an attempt to jump out of the chair and into the kitchen in one motion, attracted my attention. As she clumsily tripped over the casters of the computer chair, I cringed at the prospect of her hitting the floor.            

            “You know, it simply amazes me that you can perform ten sets of wings, double pull backs, and a time step in slippery tap shoes, but you can’t get from the den to the kitchen without taking your own life in your hands!” I said as she tripped, arms and legs flailing, all the way to the kitchen sink.

            “It’s a gift,” she quipped. “Please can I go?” she asked as she finally composed herself.

            “What are you talking about, Destiny? Would you please be careful? For goodness sake, you’re going to hurt yourself,” I said.

            “The Jonas Brothers are opening up for Jesse McCartney at the Music Fair. Kenzie got eighth row seats. Please!” she begged.

            “Okay, how much are the tickets?” I asked.

            She slumped. Dropping her posture, she revealed her long, thin frame, sharp shoulder bones, and lanky stature. “Well…” and as if saying the words at a hundred miles an hour would lighten the blow, she spit out, “$160 each.” My maternal intuition imagined it would cost us more.

            “Oh my goodness, one hundred and sixty dollars? Per ticket?” I questioned. “Des, are you kidding?”

            “Please, Mom, it can be part of my birthday present. I really want to see them. You know how much I love them. It’s the eighth row! Can we get them?” Her forehead wrinkled and her hands were clenched together with tight knuckles pressed to her lips.

            “Your father is going to kill me. Ugh, go ahead,” I conceded, “But don’t you tell him – let me.” I was a good money manager and my husband knew it, but I couldn’t help but wonder, was this present worth the price?

            “Thank you, thank you. You’re the best! Yes, yes, yes!”  She leaped to the den, now taking long, graceful strides, as if the good news instantly made her coordinated. She planted herself back into the permanent butt mark on the chair.

            Clackety, clack resounded the computer keys again, as she excitedly informed her best friend of the good news.

            It was all she talked about for the entire week, but on the Monday before the show, Mackenzie’s mother, Johanna, called. Jo and I developed our friendship over the years as two die-hard, enthusiastic cheerleader moms. We traveled together to UCA National Championships in Florida as chaperones for the team. As spectators in support of the squad, we devotedly schlepped to cheer competitions all over Long Island, but most importantly, a few of us took charge of raising funds for the varsity cheerleading program… or twisting arms for donations if necessary. Johanna stayed on top of folks who made a commitment to the program but didn’t pay up; kind of like one of those guys who collect for the mob. She didn’t take no for an answer. 

            But on that day, an infuriated tone replaced her usual peppy voice. “Christy, I’m fit to be tied! The broker that sold me the tickets made a ridiculous mistake. He said he had already sold those tickets, yet neglected to remove their availability from his website!” she growled. “A likely story. I threatened him several times and notified him that he was going to have to disappoint two teenage girls and tell them they were not going to see the Jonas Brothers! Apparently, crazy moms from Long Island do not intimidate shysters who wreck the dreams of young girls; I should’ve said I was from Brooklyn!”

            She paused, probably considering whether or not that would have been more effective. “Anyway, I demanded a full refund, then hung up in disgust. What are we going to tell the girls?” she groaned. “They are going to be devastated.”

            “I have no idea,” I sighed.  “Can’t we get tickets somewhere else?” My natural tendency would be to move heaven and earth to accommodate anyone, especially my kids, but for some reason, I didn’t push the issue.

            “I don’t know. I’ll let Kenzie look and see if there’s anything else available.” Her voice trailed off in defeat.

            Kenzie was an industrious and determined kid when she wanted to be. She was an accomplished writer and her persistence earned her a resume of published articles and award-winning short stories. When the school newspaper needed an editor, Kenzie stepped up as a high school junior with an inspired article for every publication. She and Des made a powerful team as movers and shakers. Jo and I were pleased that their efforts were driven by good motives and that they co-created the life they wanted to live.

            The reality of the disappointment, however, brought out a little of that typical teenage behavior every mother dreads, but should expect from time to time. So, after stomping, calling the broker a boob, and threatening to sue him, they focused on finding new tickets. After they surfed the web, they found a couple of seats in the last row of the arena and once again sang the Jonas Brothers signature song, “Year 3000”.

***

            It was a July concert. The girls spent hours planning their outfits, scattering an array of rejected apparel across the bed. Des stood before the mirror wearing a weightless, handkerchief white eyelet sundress with leggings along with a long, colorful beaded necklace. Kenzie joined her in skinny jeans with a slinky, babydoll tank. They held hair brushes as microphones and struck a pose.

            After the suitable outfits were chosen and hung neatly on the closet door jam, they sprawled across the bed amidst the wreckage, as each girl composed a letter to the boys. They loved their music and wanted to be sure their words expressed how much they did.

            We purchased a white, dove-shaped tambourine and attached a bouquet of heart and star shaped balloons to accompany it. The tambourine was adorned with flowing ribbons and a personal message that read, “I can do all things through Christ… Philippians 4:13,” printed on the side.

            When Destiny researched the background of the Jonas Brothers, she found that they had a strong Christian foundation and initially pursued a Christian rock genre. What a refreshing thought. A group that holds high values and morals as young men and musicians inspires my daughter. When raising children to believe that God is the center of our lives – girls in particular – it never hurts to have a band of cute boys endorse your cause. The Jonas Brothers didn’t just capture Destiny’s attention; they beckoned mine.

 

Destiny Diaries

I encounter limelight
Sporadically dispersed throughout my life
But I more frequently linger
In the shadows, on the sideline

I’ve always felt quite out of step
Like I don’t belong
I never had a complex, though
Being different wasn’t wrong

Inwardly, I’ve confirmed
Who I will be when my day comes
I can trust in my foundation
I’m not afraid to stand alone

As far back as I can remember
I nurtured a dream
That my silent hope, a tiny spark
Would ignite into a flame

For the first time, I’m not weary
I want to feel too much
I crave it
I taste it
Take my life and shake it up

Unless you know of such desire,
A yearning for something more
It must be difficult to understand
And even harder to support

But once you get the bug
You’re in
There’s no turning back
These boys have the propensity
To fill any voids you have
They captivate your heart and mind
A stellar combination
There’s something to be said
For their gift of motivation
It’s not just their music,
Or personality
Plenty of people
Have such tendencies

These three have something else
An intangible x-factor
If I’m the only one who sees it
At least now, I know what I’m after

I want that something else
Something I’ve yearned for all along
Maybe it’s what I have

Maybe it takes one to know one

Believing for Healing

Do you ever question your belief in God? It's normal to do so. But when He shows up in a very real way in your life, it’s impossible to deny His existence or what He’s capable of. Today, I'm sharing my testimony of a healing that shook any doubt or disbelief I ever had.

In 2007, I was 17 years old. I was told I had severe scoliosis that only surgical rods could repair. The doctors admitted that even if I had the 8-hour surgery, I wouldn't be able to do things I was accustomed to doing. I would be limited. From that day on, I relied on God to heal and relieve my pain. I believed that He would straighten my spine, and as outrageous as the request seemed, I just believed.

As time went on, I wanted to continue believing for my healing, but my back hurt every day. My crookedness was evident in the way I walked and stood. I was so young, yet I found it difficult to sit up in bed or turn over. When the evidence of my healing had not occurred during year one or year two, I prayed for the faith to keep believing. God helped me in my unbelief so I could stand in faith.

Five years after being diagnosed, I attended a three-day worship conference. During one session, I focused all of my prayer on the curve in my spine – the pain that I couldn't ignore. Women around me with no knowledge of my condition began asking if they could pray over my back. Before I knew it, a group of women, including my mom, surrounded me in prayer and believed for my healing. God was present and worked through those strangers. And then, it happened — in just minutes, God fulfilled His promise. I immediately felt the bones move in my body. The lower portion of my curvature changed and the discomfort disappeared. I believed and ultimately received my healing from our unlimited God.

I have been pain free for over 4 years. I stand today – a bit straighter – to encourage you to believe for your healing too. We are the children of an unlimited God. His love, His power, and His grace are truly UNlimited.

Your prayer, your dream, your wish – is never too outrageous for our God. Belief in Him is where it begins. It's OK if your belief wavers, but I pray that God reveals Himself to you in a way you cannot ignore, and in a way that changes you forever. This is my testimony and just one #divincidence of many to come.
Referenced scriptures: Hebrews11:1; Mark 9:24; Jeremiah 32:17; 1 Corinthians 16:13
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Faith Beyond Progress

...You just might find you get what you need

God's Grace = Sins Erased

Call Those Things

Just Believe Doodles... Coming Soon

Your Destiny is in Your Difference

In a recent sermon, Pastor Steven Furtick shared that God distinguished us – made each of us different – in order to prepare us for our destiny. A destiny is uniquely yours because of who God made you. This message is simple, so let it really sink in. God designed you for a divine purpose with distinct qualities so you may have the passion and perseverance to reach your destiny. While the world begs you to conform and confuses your identity with branding, advertising, and subliminal messages, God says: You are beautiful; You are Mine; Follow Me.

The first step to accepting your destiny is embracing who you are. And not who the world says you are – or should be... Who your creator says you are. So, what are you waiting for?



Trusting God Through the Long Haul

I’m sitting cozily in a warm European café perched just outside the city center of Brno (in the Czech Republic), sipping hot cranberry ginger cider and wondering:

Dear man to my left, with your interesting choice of three drinks at once (sparkling water, espresso, and wine) and a fat journal full of what I assume is contemplative, expressive writing splayed out in front of you; I see you’re trying to grow a man bun. Touché. Really. I commend the effort. But while you’re playing catch up with the rest of Europe’s models, Jared Leto, and every futball player in the continent, you look so very silly.

This mid-way, awkward phase probably has him confused, too. Should he cut it off? Keep going? Wear a hat? (I’m going somewhere with this. I promise.)

Have you ever felt led by God, the Spirit, or “a sign” to do something? I’ll answer that for you. I’m sure you have. We often look to God for direction – as we should – and find ourselves on the path to somewhere. We always start out gung-ho, like, “God put it on my heart to write this book, and write this book, I will.” It sounds great at first. You look and feel like the champion of chasing a dream. I’m following God’s will for my life. I’m writing this book. It’s going to be great. Skip to a few months later when the sparkle has worn off and you haven’t gotten past chapter 3, you’re out of ideas, and you begin to wonder the very same thing that I suspect man-bun-wannabe may be thinkin’ right about now: Should I turn back? It’s not too late to change my mind. I’ll do something different. A faux-hawk. It’s easier; more manageable. (Please, take lightly my superficial example.) 

It’s moments like these that challenge our faith. That challenge our innate belief in the will and power of God. It’s times like these that we must turn to God and know that though our path is long or winding, though our legs are tired or we are sporting a ridiculous half-bun/half crew-cut, He sent us on this mission. Trust His plan – the one placed on your heart – and carry on. He wouldn’t let you look ridiculous unless there was a lesson to learn or it was a stepping stone to your goal… right? 

You know what goes hand in hand in believing in God’s plan for you? Believing that he equipped you to stick it out for the long haul.

He knows you can handle the quazi-bun with confidence. No one ever said, “God had this great plan for your life and if you believe in Him for five minutes, you’ll have the fruit in your basket.” (You know, combining the whole rub a Genie lamp with planting seeds and seeing fruit - voila!).

God’s plan for you and the path He has placed you on is as important as the life He gave you. And when you get to the end – full length, luscious man-bun that competes with even Brad Pitt's (or something more significant) – you will know that God carried you through to the finish line because He is not a frivolous God. He doesn’t do things He doesn’t mean. He meant for you to realize this dream. #BeInspired #TrustGod #PassitOn

Bible references: Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 16:9

Child of the Most High King

At seventeen years old, I found myself. I fell away from the ugly duckling, girl-in-the-shadows image I clung to and discovered the beautiful, confident, smart, and purpose-driven woman God knew me to be.

That was the key, really: finding my identity in Him. See, once you see yourself as a flawed, yet redeemed, heir – or heiress in my case – to the throne, in need of Jesus, you realize there isn't anything you can or cannot do to separate yourself from the Love of God. If He can know everything about me – every secret, every weakness, every flaw – and still love me, forgive me, and plan a beautiful life for me, then what am I waiting for? It's time to love myself back.

For the first time, I was able to look in the mirror and smile, thinking, Hey, I am beautiful, or, that crazy dream doesn't seem so crazy anymore because God put it on my heart. I urge you to see past your worldly desires, flaws, and comparisons; look to the One who created you in His perfect image and likeness; venture past the realistic and consider the extraordinary because that's where you'll find your Heavenly Father waiting for you to step on board. When you begin to love yourself, your heart will be open to love others the way you were created to. And moreover, you will be infinitely more lovable in return.

You are who God says you are, who He made you to be, with a will only you can fulfill.

Scriptural references: Romans 8:37-39; Romans 8:17; Jeremiah 29:11; Genesis 1:27;  John 13:34

Welcome to Today.

Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. Sounds inspiring, right? We believe God has extraordinary plans for each and every one of us and it's our belief in things we cannot see that carries us from day to day until His plans unfold. Today can be the beginning; today you can start fresh; today is a blank canvas for you to craft a masterpiece. We encourage you to stick with us as we take steps towards the dream we feel called to accomplish. Start conversation, ask questions, and share when you feel inspired to! 

With love,

Christine & Desirée

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