Obedience, Fellowship and No More Excuses


Obedience, Fellowship and No More Excuses

Today is a BIG day in our house. Our family is stepping out, into an unknown area, but one we know beyond a shadow of a doubt we are meant to do.

I am nervous, a bit scared, apprehensive and maybe even overwhelmed.

We are hosting our very first meeting for our new small group in our home.

YIKES!! Yes, this introvert who is extremely private and loves to be a homebody and struggles immensely with hospitality perfectionism, is saying YES to something that will likely lead me to grab hold of HIM even more.

Isn’t that the place God does the biggest work in us?

For years I have been involved in a small group of women and it has been wonderful. Both my husband and I felt it was time to share life together as a family/couple in a fellowship group, yet our search for a new church was exhausting us and breaking us down. Incredible renewal was ignited when we found our new church home and we are able to step out in this calling.

We are meant to be in community with other believers, and not just on Sunday. It was clearly presented to me recently one morning while I read through my daily devotional on YouVersion written by Rick Warren:

“You are called to belong, not just believe. We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits.” – Rick Warren

It was confirmation to me that we were headed down the right road. However, I struggle with some significant things that make stepping out to host a group in my home a challenge.

Hospitality for the Introverted Perfectionist is Scary

This is a true step of faith for me and I will have to pray hourly for HIS strength to carry me through. You see, I struggle with wanting my home to be perfect, welcoming, inviting, spotless and everything done perfectly. I have come to realize – and it has taken me many years to truly grasp this – if I wait for that to happen, I will never be ready. I will never be able to serve God with the strengths He has given me right now.

Serving in New Ways

Our family had gotten in a rut in finding ways to serve. We have been blessed to monetarily contribute to causes we find called to help (one of those is the FIVE girls this blog supports in India through Compassion with your purchases using this Amazon affiliate link!) and with physical goods to those who are in need – but we’ve been able to make the excuse that we don’t have time to serve in the ways that so many places need. People have a hard time giving up their time to serve, and we have been guilty of this excuse.

So our group will find relevant and real needs in our community to step out and serve. I am excited to see what presents itself. We are in the process of reading Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker.

It’s All About Relationships

Getting to know new people is scary. Opening up in a real and honest way is hard – but I know I am called to be vulnerable, honest, genuine and authentic as we gather a group of believers together to search for relationship beyond our church doors on Sunday.

As an introvert I want to just keep to myself, be a homebody and tithe and serve in ways that I think are “good enough.” Yes, I did just say that – I was not looking for excellence in this area, going beyond what was good enough. From the quote above, this stuck out to me, kind of like a slap in the face: “none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves”.

So I am jumping in – and yes, I am busy. I don’t have time. I will be anxious that someone will think my house is not clean enough. I’ll be afraid to run out of food or surprise someone with something I say that may embarrass me. However, I am being called to step out and do more. So I will obey and be obedient and see what God can do when I stop making excuses.

Are you involved in a small group with your church? Or do you feel called to step out and join one?

This video really touched my heart and encouraged me in this journey. So many are lonely – even myself. This will be a great journey!

(Click through to the blog to view the video.)

Grab this book NOW – SERIOUSLY! It’s wonderful – For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.

6 Tips to Strengthen Your Teen-Parent Relationship


6 Tips to Strengthen Your Teen-Parent Relationship

I have survived the teen years with two kids so far (still have two more to go). I have picked up a few strategies I feel have helped me create a space to encourage the relationship with each of them. I felt the back to school season might be the perfect time to share with those moms who have some older kids.

Just like when you were a teenager, you wanted to spend time with your peers rather than with your parents or family, right? Or at least that was me. I had a healthy mix of both. However, I think it can be a tough transition for parents, especially when you have your first child enter the teen years.  

There are ways to create conversation and continue to stay connected without being the parent that asks too much or seems too much like you are giving a speech. Here are some tips:

1. Talk More

It’s better if you start the conversation. It can be just, “How was your day?” Try to discuss many things instead of interrogating. Find interesting topics, such as sports, entertainment, friends, and school experiences to make it relaxing.  

2. Listen

If your teen shares some criticism, listen and ask what he/she expects you to do. Talk about this wisely, not emotionally. It’s good for your teen to be able to express his/her feelings to you. Just be an ear to listen.

3. Set Rules

Your teen needs to recognize what is and isn’t acceptable and what the consequences of misbehavior are. Therefore, you should set (or rather negotiate) some rules with your teen to keep him/her on track. Allow some freedom of choice, but when things do not work out well, pull back the reins.

4. Consider Your Teen’s Point of View

See your teen as your friend and respect his/her opinion whenever you discuss something. This also shows that you pay attention to him/her and consider him/her as important. I have found this particularly important when we have dinner conversations and specifically when we have discussions about our faith. I have to remember that this is a time of growing and discovery, so encouraging that path is good.

5. Encourage Your Teen’s Interests and Talents

Most teens like to try new things. Let yours choose what he/she desires, even if don’t agree with it because, for example, it has the potential to be dangerous. Giving support is the best you can do, while you keep monitoring that the new activity is actually safe. Moreover, this idea is a good way of teaching your teen how to be responsible.

6. Do Things Together

This one is surely a great opportunity for you to improve your relationship with your teen. Our schedules are busy, but when you set aside time to spend with your teen, it sends a powerful message – YOU ARE IMPORTANT! I love that. Games, biking, soccer, playing catch, and going for a frozen yogurt together are great examples of just “hanging out”.

Warm and positive communication without underestimating your teen is key to a successful relationship between the two of you. Clearly it won’t work at once. Try the tips progressively and enjoy your time being a parent of a teenager.

You Just Never Know


By Dana Bailey

So many times in our life we have acquaintances and that is all they ever are…just people you know of, but not about.  We watch others around us; how they live, how their children behave, how they react to others, but give little mind to who is watching us.

I became very aware of this recently when we moved away from a neighborhood we had lived in for more than 5 years.  Word spread quickly on our street that we were moving and our family began to hear from others who had observed our family without us realizing it. It is quite scary to think about now.

I think I was a horrible neighbor.  I didn’t know much more than my next door neighbors name.  She was a very private person and I tried very hard to not invade her privacy.  I didn’t even know the names of the people who were 2 doors up and the family across the street-we just waved each other.  Many of my children, on the other hand, knew more than names, they knew about our neighbors.  They knew where they went to church, how many times they had been married, how long they lived there, how often they wanted their grass cut and anything else they thought to ask.  My kids were great neighbors. Our son’s cut the grass for many, our daughter babysat for several of the families, our younger sons would help out however they could. [Read more…]

Don’t Stress Out Your Relationship Over the Holidays


By Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC

Unfortunately, for so many people, just hearing the words “Christmas” or “Holidays” produces stress and anxiety.  It is definitely the busiest time of year, filled with things that can create anxiety and stress. There is so much to focus on.

For a moment, let’s focus on relationships. When January rolls around do you wake up and see the man next to you (your husband) and say, “Who are you and where did you come from?” If so, you might be neglecting your relationship during the Holidays. It’s easy to do with so many obligations, commitments, and fun things to do.

Here are  a few helpful tips/reminders of how to keep up your relationship in the midst of the potential chaos:

1. Keep limits on your activities. It’s easy to feel like we have to do EVERYTHING! There are so many fun things that we want to do and many events that we are obligated to attend. However, it’s important when filling the calendar to decide as a couple or family how you want to chose to spend your time. I would encourage you to put it into 3 categories: [Read more…]

If You Get In A Hole, You Have To Get Yourself Out


By Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHC, LCAC

One of my favorite things to do is listen to my husband’s grandparents tell us stories about things they’ve experienced in their life. One of the stories that sticks with me the most is one his grandmother told about getting her car stuck in a pothole.

Grandma was out running errands in a shopping center one day and was driving in the parking lot. It had been raining hard, and a very large pothole had filled up with rain water and was not visible to drivers. As she drove over the pothole, her tire got stuck in the pothole (can I reiterate this was a very large pothole!) and her car was immobile. She was stuck.

Grandma proceeds to call grandpa to let him know she’s stuck in the hole & needs his help. His response? “You got in the hole, you get out of it!” Ouch. She was furious. She needed help. Now she was stuck and alone.

Now I doubt grandpa knew what he was doing at the time. To most of us, it looks as though he’s being a rude and unsupportive husband. However, at closer look, he’s not enabling his wife. Instead, he is forcing her to figure out things for herself. [Read more…]