A past version of me offered advice to others whether they asked for it or not. They rarely asked, and I offered a lot of advice.  (Picture a verbal steamroller.)


Beyond that, I expected people to conform to my advice, and even to my opinions.  If they did not, I used the above word pattern and debate tactics to try and convince them.

Then,  I came across a few wise people whose policy is to not offer advice unless it is requested.  I watched these people with fascination and respect.  I’ve decided their policy is a good one.

It was interesting to examine the reasons for my overwhelming advice-giving.  What I found was not pretty.  But I believe that’s a good thing, because the most freeing thing I’ve ever experienced is looking at myself with brutal honesty.  It helped me to change the world starting with myself.

I slip back into my old, bad habits in a heartbeat, so I have to be vigilant.  Thankfully, I personally know the Light of the World, who helps me see my dark corners, and sweeps the dirt away. I meet with Him regularly, one on one.

Actually, I cling to Him as though my life depended on it, because it does. 

And if you’ve encountered me on one of those days when I wasn’t vigilant, please accept my humble apologies.  (Poor you.)

(This post was inspired by J. T. Alewine, who recently passed away, and by my husband.)

Posted in Facing the Monsters, Just Being Real | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Hard Lesson of the Joy Day

Somehow, I knew it.  I knew the lesson from the Joy Day would be something completely unexpected, and it was.


At 4 p.m. on the Joy Day, two disturbing things happened:

  1. I opened a folder on my computer called “Taxes 2013:  To Do”, and my stomach literally lurched.
  2. By chance, I viewed a news story, with a video, that was so unsettling that it left me shaking, tearful and gasping.

The story depicted example after example of decent, ordinary people suffering tragically, unnecessarily and unjustly at the hands of powerful forces. It told of a congresswoman losing her seat and possibly her life for speaking out against the injustice. I had to walk away from the screen to get myself together.  That story probably represented one of my worst fears.

But it’s a joy day, Lord…

I didn’t understand, and I was gripped by sorrow and fear.  So, I went back to the Joy Day verses that God lovingly, patiently brought before my eyes that morning.  And I read them over and over, saying them to myself, as I went about my tasks:

1.  22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.  (John 16:22)

2.  24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  (John 16:24)

3.  11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  (John 15:11)

4.  11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  (Psalm 16:11)

Friends, I don’t have the Joy Day lesson all sorted out yet, and maybe I never will, but here’s what I have so far:

  • I overlooked one little phrase in my excitement over the joy verses:   “So also you have sorrow now…”
  • We live in a broken, fallen world.
  • We are not promised comfort and ease.
  • In fact, we are promised the opposite.
  • Jesus has overcome the world, no matter how things look in the here and now.
  • We will see Him again, and when we do, our hearts will rejoice, and no one will be able to take that joy away from us.
  • That joy will be so complete, we will not want to ask anything at all of Him.
  • In His presence is fullness of joy, and as Christians, we can access that at any time.
  • Part of my upset was my own problem of not wanting to be called to fight such a fight, not wanting to go through such a thing, and not wanting to suffer.
  • If I am not willing to suffer if necessary, I am not worthy of being called His child.
  • He suffered.  I am not greater than He is.
  • He is enough, and He’s got this, too.

And most importantly (thank you, Rene’), it’s a pretty cool, tender thing that God knew what I would face at 4 p.m., so He equipped me in advance with four verses to give me comfort and truth.  The enemy knew my worst fears, and he tried to use them against me. But I was armed and protected. How amazing is that?

By 6 p.m., I was joyful again. A past version of me would have been devastated for days. Thank you, Lord.

It was a pretty good Joy Day after all.

 Note:  All scriptures are from the English Standard Version (ESV), and have my emphasis added.


Posted in A Thankful Heart, Facing the Monsters, The Year Uncluttered | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Joy Day

I love how God patiently repeats a theme so I can get it.

Today’s rotating Bible reading (John 16:16-24) from Call to Growth yielded these 2 scriptures, which leapt off the page to my eyes:

1.  22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.  (John 16:22, ESV, emphasis added)

2.  24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  (John 16:24, ESV, emphasis added)

Joy, and joy.

Later, when reviewing my Jesus Project verses, the new verse for the week of September 6 was:


Joy again.

So, I told my husband about this coincidence, and I proclaimed the day, for whatever reason, a joy day.

Later, the hubbs came in and showed me the randomly-generated verse of the day from his You Version app:


Joy again.

Looking at him knowingly, I said, “See? It’s a joy day.”

We don’t know why it’s a joy day today yet. We’re waiting to find out. We’ll keep you posted.

Posted in The Year Uncluttered | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Hard Work of Living

Life is hard. So why do I live like it’s an endless carnival, where I should have every cotton candy moment that I want?

God is parenting me through this classic book:


I read it in the late 90s, and thankfully, I’m re-reading it now. I’m actually terrified as I read, because this book is calling me to do the hard work of living. I have the easy part down.

Today, this statement about teens struck me:

There is always a higher agenda than personal happiness, there is a bigger, more significant story than their story of the moment. And in every situation, they are called to trust and obey God.

Their? They? This passage speaks to me.

The above statement may seem basic and obvious, but in many ways it was news to me today. At least I’ve been living that way, if not on the outside, then certainly in my heart.


Thank you, God, for being my literal Heavenly Father in this. I am afraid. But like a child, I put my hand in Yours, so that You can help me walk more steadily through the hard parts of life.

And P.S. I love You.

Posted in A Thankful Heart, Facing the Monsters, Just Being Real, The Year Uncluttered | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments


I guess it’s time to explain my participation in 7.  The post below was almost ready to go in early June.  All it lacked was the photo. You get to read it in early August.  (I’m sorry.)

Here you go:


I received this book for Mother’s Day, in the Year Uncluttered:


(Shout out to Matt & Casey)

  • The subtitle:  An experimental mutiny against excess
  • The premise: 7 areas, 7 things, 7 months
  • The acknowledgement:  “For Jesus, who tread so lightly in this world that He didn’t have a place to lay his head.”

I teared up reading the acknowledgement statement, and while reading the introduction, I got that feeling of dread…the one that hits me when I know I am probably being called to do something that I SO don’t want to do.

My daughter-in-law had the book on her Kindle and jumped at the chance to join me for Chapter 1:  Food.  We started on June 1.  On June 3, she called me and said, “I hate you.” (My translation.)

I completely understand. 

Here are the 7 foods we are eating in June:

  1. chicken
  2. eggs
  3. wheat bread
  4. apples
  5. spinach
  6. sweet potatoes
  7. avocados

I’ll keep you posted.


Posted in Just Being Real, The Year Uncluttered | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Matt Redman’s song inspired me this year to find 10,000 reasons to be grateful.

I’m halfway there.  I can’t believe it.  And I’m thankful.

(Thank You, God.)

photo (4)

(Joining with Ann Voskamp in counting the gifts years ago helped this critical spirit practice thankfulness. She and her blog are on my list.)


Posted in A Thankful Heart | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brokenness Aside

“I am a sinner; if it’s not one thing it’s another.  Caught up in words, tangled in lies…”  

(All Sons & Daughters)

This very morning, I was thinking about how many embarrassing, un-Christian things I have done and said, when this text came in from my friend Ray:


And God reminded me how He is doing good things through our friendship. Her verse is going to help me this very day, and help someone else, too.

I’ve been listening to this song, on repeat:

I was alone at home late yesterday, folding laundry, listening to the above song, when my friend Beverly e-mailed me these words, in response to some OCD correcting I did in e-mails to her:

Stephanie — we are all fallible in this fallen world! We yearn for perfection. We are always tweaking. And yet we still make mistakes despite our best intentions! Heaven will be delightful. We will be error-free!

Oh!  How true, and such a good reminder.  Beverly is a really cool person who impacted my life.  We recently reconnected after our chance meeting years ago, and God did some good things through that, too. I appreciate both Beverly and Ray today.

I may not struggle with lies so much anymore, especially since I stopped running and collided head long with the Truth (Jesus) a few years back.  He demanded authenticity, and He helped me.  But I do struggle with:

  • Pride
  • Perfectionism
  • Getting caught up in words
  • And much more

If it’s not one thing it’s another. And when I struggle with the above things, I make it about me, and it’s just not.

Yes, I’ve done and said embarrassing, un-Christian things. But it’s not about me. It’s so about Him, and how He takes brokenness aside, and makes it beautiful.

I’m thankful today that I know Him, and that I’m His child. I’m too much of a mess to try to go this life on my own.

What about you?

Posted in A Thankful Heart, Facing the Monsters, Just Being Real | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment