Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Hi there beautiful ladies Happy New Year to you and your families! May 2017 be your year of joy, blessings, and freedom in Christ. I’m shocked to see that I last wrote here to wish you all a Happy 2016. Believe me, I had all the intentions of writing at least one post a month this past year, but alas, it was not possible. The good news is that I am chipping away at my studies. Next year this time I will be getting ready to graduate and I can not wait to get back to blogging, webinars, talking to all of you on the forum, and of course, adding some one-on-one professional counseling for those who may need it. Now back to the question: Are We Letting Men of the Hook? Tony and I had been married for 24 years this past December, and a few days before our anniversary I had an interesting conversation with a group of very intelligent and beautiful young women at my college. We were talking about marriage and dating and they all agreed that we (our society) are letting men who are emotionally unavailable off the hook too easily by stereotyping their behavior as “typical male” or “something women should simply accept”. I definitely saw their point, especially for the men of my generation (Baby Boomers and GenXers). I think that the Millennials are doing a better job at this because guys are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and to work harder at understanding the women in their lives. Also, for the most part, it seems that they agree with this and are happy to do it (I asked my sons). However, I felt a pang of shame as the truth hit me: I am totally letting my husband off the hook (translate forgive and …

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Surrender 2016 to Jesus!

Happy New Year! Here at the beginning of 2016 I would very much like to share a piece from my online program that focuses specifically on SURRENDER with you. “Breaking away from my idols was very difficult for me simply because Satan wouldn’t just let me take back my heart without a fight. What helped me tremendously was to take 40 days out of my life and commit it to God. During these 40 days, my main focus was to surrender  to God, because without Him I knew that I honestly couldn’t even do one day (I’ve tried this in my own strength countless times before without success). During this time the enemy’s number one strategy was to keep me from God’s presence, because he knew, probably better than I did, that in the presence of the Almighty God I would finally find healing and permanent change. I  wanted to really see if it would make a difference to have my main motivation be: Surrender to God. I wanted to set aside a block of time to untangle my heart from the idol of food (the love affair) and surrender all of my heart to Jesus(James 4:7) and  at the same time get rid of the shame and guilt in my mind (“…resist the enemy and he will flee from you” James 4:7 NIV). I never realized how my past efforts have been thwarted by the enemy. Each time I committed in the past, the enemy attacks would increase to stop me, and I would become discouraged and fall back; defeated and stripped from all faith that I would ever be free. This time I was ready and armed and I realized, maybe for the first time, that I didn’t have to fight so hard but rather get in behind my strong and powerful God and let Him fight for me. I finally stretched out …

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About runaway trains and rescue boats

Does your life sometimes feel like a runaway train? The feeling that you desperately need to get off, but it’s impossible because the train is not stopping for anything?  I was on a runaway train for quite some time, in fact only now, here at the end of 2015, do I feel that I can simply breathe again. Almost two years ago I started the tedious process of getting licensed as a counselor in my state, and almost immediately as I set foot on campus the drama in my life started. Not so much because of college, even though the work is time consuming and stress producing, but other things that I had no control over were happening all around me. I wrote here on my blog about my Dad’s sudden passing which shook me so much harder than I could ever imagine. Around the same time some issues surfaced in my family that made me seriously question the depth of my faith and my love for others. When I also experienced a health scare and found myself bursting into tears at the drop of a hat I knew it was time to get help. I told my counselor about the runaway train that is impossible to stop and he said something that I want to share with you: “Somewhere on that train, there is a cart, a dining room with soft lighting, good food, and classical music. A space  where you could just sit, rest, and dine in peace. You don’t have to get off the train, or wait for it to stop, you just need to find that space…” I needed some godly counsel and medication, but I especially needed the reminder that Jesus was and always will be my Prince of Peace, my place of quiet in the midst of the storm. I needed a reminder that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH ME, through the water and the fire. When I had nothing to give …

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The passing of a hero

Last year my Dad passed away at the age of 69. It was a very sudden death and words can not express the shock or pain that this brought to our family. I am still grieving, but I wanted to write my tribute here on my blog to salute the passing of a hero of faith. I grew up under my Dad’s teaching of the Word, and experienced many evangelistic outreaches and church plants that he undertook during my formative years. For most of those years my mom, brother, and I played in the church band, and were actively involved in all of my Dad’s endevours. As  a child you don’t think much about any of these things, but today I recognize that all of those experiences shaped me and prepared me for the life I was to lead. If I can pin point the single thing about my Dad that impacted me most, was that HE CLUNG TO JESUS. I saw my Dad struggle with his own personal issues all of his life, and go through seasons of deep pain, rejection, and sorrow, and through all of this he never once took His eyes off his Deliverer. I’ve also seen God bringing Him through the water and the fire, and never leaving Him stranded. He once told me that I should love God for who He is, and not for what He could do for me. He based this on that familiar passage in Habakkuk 3:16-19 ” “Though the fig tree does not bud     and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails     and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen     and no cattle in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior. The …

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Don’t Wimp Out – Eyes on Jesus!

I have a love/hate thing going on with this quote from Beth Moore: “Have the courage to live under the strain and pain to be part of a better story. A larger story. Don’t wimp out. Only pain can bring change” I love it because it’s so true, but I also don’t like it, for the same reason. Why does only pain bring change? Why do we only “get it” down in the pit of despair,  never on the mountaintop? I guess it’s one of those”wait till heaven to find out” kind of questions, but I want to talk some more with you about the “wimping out” part… What is going on in your life today that makes you just want to WIMP OUT? Are you in terrible financial trouble? Is your marriage a source of great pain an turmoil? What about those teenage children, are they breaking your heart? How are you doing with your food struggles these days? Are you maybe hiding out, avoiding people, and crying yourself to sleep again every night because of the terrible grip this thing has on your life? How are your relationships with your family, friends, or colleagues at work? Let me stop for a minute here, take a deep breath with you, and say… I’m so sorry about the strain and pain of your story… We can many times see the benefit of a trial in retrospect. That wonderful clear headed time when we can look back and reflect that “yes indeed God did use this to change me” or  “I can now see how God works everything for good for those who love Him”. The problem is when we are right there smack in the middle of the arena with the devil, the people who hurt us, the addictions we’re fighting, or sometimes the whole caboodle. …

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About Grandmas and Mashed Potatoes

March is my beloved grandma’s birthday month, so my thoughts tend to linger on her this time of year.  She now celebrates in heaven with Jesus, where I’m sure she is cooking and sewing up a storm:) I was actually making mashed potatoes this week when my thoughts started wandering to the two women who shaped my life in so many ways; my Mom and Grandma. Not because they are necessarily known for their mashed potatoes, they are much rather renowned for South African favorites such as vetkoek, kookkos, and kerrie&rys (sorry you have to be South African to know what I’m talking about). No, the mashed potatoes made me think of them for a reason that had nothing to do with cooking at all… Beth Moore once said that we find ourselves in a good place when Jesus is our “mashed potatoes” and everything or everyone else is simply gravy. I’ve always loved that analogy because, if you think about it, we can in fact eat mashed potatoes all by itself and be totally satisfied. Yes, definitely true that the gravy makes it extra delicious, but we don’t “need” the gravy. I so desire this kind of relationships with Jesus: One where I am grateful for the people and things He put in my life, but I don’t desperately cling to those things for dear life. The kind of relationship where I truly know that HE IS ENOUGH, perhaps because I acknowledge that in the end it will only be HIM and I… I saw over the years how my sweet Grandma and also my Mom gravitated towards this kind of “mashed potato relationship” with Jesus. The three of us are all cut from the same cloth really. We have tender hearts for people, and very often find ourselves hurt and trampled upon for that …

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A Marriage Saved by JOY!

As promised: My annual post about marriage, just in time for Valentines Day! Actually, this is perfect timing, because I have a lot to tell you. I have talked a little about 2013 being a tough year and that my marriage was also caught in the cross fire. However, I did not mentioned how bad things got, partly because it is always so much easier to write about painful things in retrospect. In truth, things were looking pretty bleak, and the more I tried to fix things, the worse they became.  I WAS AT THE END OF MY ROPE, to put it mildly, and working together as a couple (as my husband and I do) did not make things easier at all. It seemed that I was in need of something NEW; some new direction, a new job, a new hairstyle, a new book to write, a new project, a new city to live in, or possibly A NEW LIFE!!  I wanted out of the old so bad, and especially wanted to run far, far away from the arguments and pain that seemed unending!  I complained to God, cried, begged, and whined. I had to find an answer.  I should have an answer, right? I’m a planner and a teacher, certainly I could find a way out of this. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how I got in this mess, or how to get myself out of  it.  So I kept crying out to God, mainly because there was nothing else to do, and also because I always tell you to do it  (Jer 33:3). Have to practice what I preach for Pete’s sake! I thought for sure God was going to answer in some mighty earth shaking way. I had some ideas of how He could do …

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Do You Fear Rejection?

I was desperately afraid of rejection for the biggest part of my life. I was rejected early on for not being pretty enough, not quiet enough, and definitely not skinny enough. I was rejected by peers, boyfriends, and family members in both big and small ways. However, the most important rejection was one I was not even consciously aware of: I REJECTED MYSELF COMPLETELY. The fear of rejection became the driving force behind my vow to avoid rejection at all cost. I remade my appearance to the best of my ability,  and surrounded myself with “safe” people who would or could not easily reject me; mainly people with wounds, obsessions, and weaknesses of their own. I also made sure that I became irreplaceable in the lives of these friends, so they would never want to leave me. Through manipulation and lies I kept this all alive. I pleased, begged, fought, over committed myself, did things I hated, smiled when I wanted to cry, stayed awake when I wanted to sleep, had long talks when I had nothing more to say, bribed, gave advice, bent over backwards, and last but certainly not least,  rescued everyone around me. God saw all of this of course, and placed ever so strategically four little beings in my life who would challenge my authenticity from the start. They grew up way too fast, and as young adults refused  to any longer be coerced into Mom’s perfection and people pleasing. They wanted to spread their  wings and fly, and they especially wanted to love me on their own terms. So I felt again the stabbing pain of rejection that I carefully tried to dodged for so long. I cried before God, tried to think and rethink the situation, made a new plan, did everything I knew to keep the …

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The Miracle of a Soft Heart

So happy to finally get back to blogging. A long stretch of influenza and some unrelenting coughing caused me to take a two week break from the webinars. However, it seems that a person can actually cough and type without too much effort, so I thought I would write to you ladies instead.  2013 has been a memorable year for my family and I. Not because of great milestones I’m afraid, but because of deep valleys and a great miracle along the way. So today seemed like a good day to tell you about it… For a while now I’ve been observing a heart of stone in one of my loved ones. It breaks my heart over and over again, to see someone once so filled with love and zeal for the Lord now so bitter, angry, and stumbling around in the dark. I have talked, cried, prayed, fought, begged, and pleaded with God for months, and then finally I stopped. It might have looked like surrender on the outside, and I even uttered the intention of surrender to a few friends, but only God knew what really happened… my heart became hard as well.  It’s amazing how gradually this can happen. Over a period of time we start relying on our own efforts again. We start making plans for our food struggle, our lost loved ones, or our circumstances. We start trusting in those plans, and when they inevitably fail, we become discourage, angry, bitter, and numb…  You may know exactly what I’m talking about. We can not deny the fruit of a hard heart. According to Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” My mouth was …

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Warning: You will have trouble!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So there we have it! We were warned about TROUBLE right there in John 16:33! And yet, I continue to be shocked and surprised at the amount of trouble that can roll into my life on any given day. I love trouble free days, but seriously, with a job, kids, a husband, and other forms of frequent human interaction, those days are very rare.  Now for the most part, I can just shake off trouble,  forgive the people involved, and keep focusing on the big picture. However, from time to time I get those days where my own weakness (in body or mind) collides head-to-head with some “trouble”, and I’m just fed-up with all the drama. Then, if I let these troubles fester for more than two seconds without taking it to God, I can find myself nose-diving into a full fledged pity-party. To these parties I usually invite only three guests: Self-pity, Discontentment, and Unforgiveness. During these times I am so grateful for a handful of trusted girl friends! They will allow me to vent, without judging me or judging the other people involved. And afterwards they will gently point me in the right direction… the path of forgiveness that leads me back to intimacy with Christ. When I’m finally ready to lay down my long list of rights and whisper “Okay I will forgive…” PEACE comes rushing back into my life and I remember again… TROUBLE IS PART OF MY PROCESS… Sarah Young explains this so well in her book Jesus Calling: “MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE PROBLEMS IN YOUR LIFE. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign …

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