Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Stop hiding your scars and your wounds.  They’re your trophies that you went through that and still survived.”  

                                                     ~Bishop T.D. Jakes

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

                                                                    ~Thomas Merton

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The Weight of the Wait

Today I’m experiencing the relief of good news. However, before the good news arrived, there were six days of “no news.” The journey of those five days is what’s on my mind today.

Last week I had my every three month oncologist appointment.  I mentioned to him about some chest pain I’d been experiencing. His physical exam found a “fullness” but no lump. He said he didn’t think it was cancer, but he wanted to order a CT Scan to be sure.

The scan was scheduled for last Friday. Argh. That meant no results until Monday at the earliest.

When I called for the results on Monday, I didn’t get a call back.

The waiting. The not-knowing. Those spaces are worse than “the knowing.” Truly they are. 

It was all I could do to not let fear grip my heart as I worked to push from my mind the possibility the cancer had returned.

There were moments where I almost literally felt the weight of the wait.

Indeed, waiting is part of life.

We wait for our prince charming to come along.

We wait for our wedding day.

We wait for a baby to be born.

We wait for the adoption to be finalized.

Each of those “waits” carry the anticipation of something good.

Sometimes waiting carries the anticipation of something bad. It’s this kind of “not knowing” and fearing the worse that can be the hardest part of waiting. 

We wait for a prodigal to come home. Not knowing if he or she is safe or okay.

We wait for a loved one to return to God.  Not knowing just how hard of a heart God is dealing with.

We wait for test results. Not knowing if the results will change the trajectory of our life in some way.

As the days of waiting lengthened and my anxiety increased, I realized I was no longer worshiping my God, but instead I was worshiping my circumstances.

Knowing I needed to get my head and my heart in the right place, I intentionally moved my eyes from the unknown to the known. From the changing to the unchanging. From the shifting sand to the Solid Rock.

“I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6a)

“The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Once my eyes were on the sure thing of Jesus Christ, I then worked my weight loss (or could it be wait loss?) program of moving the weight of anxiety from my shoulders to God’s hands. By the time I received the good news from my doctor that the scans were clear, I had experienced two full days of peace…even in the “not knowing.”

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you…” (Psalm 55:22a)

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11: 28-30)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on… And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. … (Matthew 6:25-34)

ThinkstockPhotos-181730586“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Are you waiting?  Feeling crushed by the weight of the wait?

Choose not to worship your circumstances. Choose to worship the God who will carry you through your circumstances.

Move your eyes from the changing to the unchanging, and let God lift the weight of the wait.

What about you? Are there any Bible verses that have helped you while waiting? 

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What Can I Do To Help?

ThinkstockPhotos-514105293Mark: Yesterday Jill and I spent the afternoon cleaning up from our garage sale. We boxed up the items that were left in order to donate them. Then we cleaned the garage. It was dirty work in many ways. I loved that she jumped right in and joined me.

Jill: Every few days we seem to have a huge garden harvest to take care of.  I’m spending hours preparing veggies for meals or the freezer.  I love when Mark comes in and says, “what can I do to help?”

Mark: As with most couples, Jill and I easily roll into our regular routines. Ours has always been that, in general, she takes care of most things inside the house and I take care of most things outside the house. It works for us. Yet, it’s important to break out of those molds and look beyond our usual roles.

Jill: It means the world to me when Mark “notices” I’m doing something extra and offers to help.  It helps me feel seen and let’s me know I’m not alone.

Mark: I appreciate when Jill is aware of what I’m doing and either jumps in and helps or even just brings me an ice cold drink in the midst of the hard work.

Jill: It’s easy to become “silos” under the same roof.  Each spouse tending to their own projects and responsibilities.  The more we cross over and help one another, the better it is for our relationship. We increase our interaction, awareness, and communication.

Mark: When we intentionally link arms and work as partners instead of individuals, it deepens our intimacy and strengthens our bond.

What about you? Where can you more intentionally interact with your spouse? How can you increase your awareness? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”  


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Fantastic Food: Eggplant

Fresh long purple aubergine on blue table closeup top viewThe first time I remember eating eggplant was when my mother made Eggplant Parmesan growing up. I confess it wasn’t my favorite meal.  Because of that, I’ve stayed away from eggplant until recently.


Yesterday’s harvest!



I decided to give it a second chance after finding some marked down plants at the local nursery. I brought them home and planted them in my garden. Mark and I are both LOVING eggplant, which is a good thing since we’ve had a very plentiful harvest!

Eggplant is so good for you! It’s a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and copper, as well as manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

Eggplants are quite perishable. You’ll want to use them within a few days of buying or picking them.

So how do you use them? Here are a few ideas:

  • Peel and then dice up to add to any vegetable stirfry. This is yummy!
  • eggplantSaute with onions and tomatoes.  If you’re eating dairy, you can top it with mozzarella cheese. This is a stovetop version of eggplant parmesan.  (We’re not eating dairy, so we just enjoy it with onions and tomatoes.) Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes–until it begins to collapse.  Remove from oven and scrape out the inside. This can be added to spaghetti sauce for added flavor and fiber.
  • Cut the eggplant in thick slices, season as you wish, and grill them!
  • Peel the eggplant, slice into fries, season, and bake them!
  • Slice the eggplant and use the slices as crust for mini pizzas, adding your favorite pizza toppings and baking for about 10 minutes.  (The first time I served this to my 19-year-old, he said,”I don’t think I’ll like this.” Then he ate 6 mini pizzas and declared how good they were!)

If you’ve never tried eggplant, pick one up at the store and give it a try!  It’s a fantastic food full of nutrition your body needs!

What about you? Do you have a favorite way to prepare eggplant? 

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Compassion Feels

ThinkstockPhotos-97429813Mark: Last night we spent time with some friends who are coming through a hard season of healing in their marriage. We spent the evening sharing with each other about lessons learned along the way.

Jill: The topic of compassion came up and we talked about the many different facets of compassion in marriage. Increasing compassion has been a big takeaway for me in our healing season.

Mark: Jill’s default is to fix rather than feel. I’m so grateful for how she’s grown in compassion and focuses more on feeling than she did before.

Jill: My friend Tammy Maltby shared with me, “Compassion is a choice. We must choose to see. We must choose to reach out to the other person and weep when they weep. We use our tears and pain to relate, to build a bridge into another person’s reality. It is one of God’s most powerful tools.”

Mark: I love the word picture of “building a bridge into another person’s reality.” That’s what compassion does in marriage!

Jill: Buck up spouses try to fix. Compassionate spouses try to feel. Compassion feels; it builds bridges. Compassion creates a sense of safety and security in your home and in the relationships that mean the most to you.

Mark: Compassion helps our spouse feel validated and loved. It also helps us to slow down, tune in, and really connect to those we love.

Jill: Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When I think of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery, He modeled compassion for us.

Mark: Some personalities, mind styles, or temperaments lend themselves more to fixing. Others lend themselves more to feeling.  Regardless of how you are wired, though, we must all learn to be more compassionate in our marriage.

Jill: Need some practical help? Here are three steps to increase compassion:

1) Focus on the feelings, not a solution.  Respond with statements that draw your spouse out like, “Tell me more.”

2) Look at the situation from your spouse’s perspective. Remember that your spouse doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

3) Respond with empathetic statements. Say things like, “I bet that was so disappointing,” or “I’m sure that hurt your heart deeply,” or “That breaks my heart. I would imagine it broke yours,” or “I’m so sorry. I’m sure that was painful for you to experience.”

 What about you? Where do you need to increase compassion in how you respond to your spouse? 



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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Love never fails. It changes people.”

                                     ~ Bill Hybels

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Come Join the Fun!

I'm-going-to-NC-2015I can’t wait!

In just about 7 weeks I’ll be hanging out with over 2,000 moms at the North Central Hearts at Home conference!  I’d love for you to join the fun!

Women come to Hearts at Home conferences from all over the United States. Women even come from Canada to the North Central conference held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota!

2015-NC-ONLY-Conf-Mini-PosterIn addition to the fabulous keynote sessions by Lysa Terkeurst and Dr. Gary Chapman, there are dozens of workshops offered to design your day to meet your needs as a mom.

I’ll be teaching two workshops:

  • Embrace Your Mothering Personality
  • When Your Child Says, “My Life, My Choice”

No matter if your kids are 2, 22, or 42, Hearts at Home is for YOU!

If you like a good deal, you’ll want to register by the October 21 so you can save $20 on your registration!

It’s gonna be a blast! I’d love to meet you at Hearts at Home!

Are you going to be there? 


Posted in Taking Care of Me | Leave a comment

Just One Thing

Mark says: Sometimes in marriage, the little things are really the big things.

Jill says: Today’s Marriage Monday is short and sweet.  A simple challenge to you to do something intentional to connect with your spouse.

Mark says: Here are a few ideas:

  • Send him or her a text just to say “I love you,” or “I’m thinking of you!”
  • Pick up flowers on the way home (If you have an Aldi nearby, they have bouquets for $3.99!)
  • Call your spouse to tell him or her you’re thinking of them.
  • Start planning a getaway for just the two of you. (Include your spouse in the planning if they don’t like surprises.)
  • Listen…really listen to your spouse this evening.
  • Notice. Notice something they do for you on a regular basis and say thank you.
  • Smile at your spouse. Let him or her know how much you enjoy being with them.
  • Give a 15 second kiss.
  • Using a dry erase marker, write a note of love on the bathroom mirror or on the rear view mirror of their car.

What about you? What ideas do you have to intentionally connect with your spouse? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic“Dwell, not in the past or in the future, but in the moment.”                            


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Fantastic Food: Kale

ThinkstockPhotos-482001077Last summer I fell in love with kale after we grew it in our garden and it produced from mid-summer until Thanksgiving!

Kale is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. It’s a superfood!

Some people think kale is bitter, but I’ve found that it just depends on the kind of kale you get.  Regardless, there are still wonderful ways to make kale that takes care of any bitter taste.

I love to throw kale into soup and smoothies. When I make vegetable soup or chicken noodle soup, I chop up the kale to the consistency of parsley and throw it into the soup! When I make a smoothie, I throw some kale in to add veggies to my fruit smoothie (I’m not a green smoothie girl….just can’t drink a green smoothie that tastes more like veggies than fruit!)

I love to mix kale in with spinach and lettuce for a yummy salad.  I add diced apples, raisins, sunflower seed kernals, peppers, and just about anything else I can find to my salads.  I top them off with Flax Seed Oil and flavored vinegar from The Olive Bin (my favorite is Black Mission Fig!)

I also make a cold kale salad that is yummy! I have taken it to pitch in dinners before and people always rave about it. They can’t believe it when I tell them it’s a kale salad.  I don’t measure anything…just throw in a bowl: chopped kale (see below how to remove it from the stem), cucumbers, raisins, slivered almonds, sunflower kernels (if I have them), and tomato. I then squeeze a lemon over the salad, squirt some olive oil (flavored if I have it—love Blood Orange!) and a little bit of flavored balsamic (Black Cherry is a great flavor for this salad!) Toss together and serve. Yum!

You can also saute kale on the stovetop. It will really cook down so start with a lot. I add in slivered almonds, diced peppers, and any other veggie I have that can be sauteed (carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, kohlrabi, etc).  Sometimes I just do kale, onions, garlic, and slivered almonds.  I season it with salt and pepper and sometimes paprika, cumin, or turmeric (an excellent anti-inflammatory when paired with pepper!)

Kale is a yummy veggie that can be used in so many ways!

Cut or break the kale from the stem.

Cut or break the kale from the stem.

Saute with garlic, onion, and olive oil or coconut oil. If you have balsamic vinegar, throw some in...especially flavored balsamic.  Yum!

Saute with garlic, onion, and olive oil or coconut oil. If you have balsamic vinegar, throw some in…especially flavored balsamic. Yum!

Add some slivered almonds and serve!

Add some slivered almonds and serve!

What about you? Do you have a favorite way to prepare kale?

Posted in In The Kitchen | 2 Comments

Put Some Spontaneity Into Your Marriage!

ThinkstockPhotos-468172358Mark: This weekend Jill spoke at a women’s retreat in Grove, Oklahoma. I traveled with her to manage the book table. On the way home, the final leg of our flight was overbooked. They were looking for volunteers to stay an extra leg in Detroit. We had both already taken the next day off as a recovery day from the big weekend, so we decided to be spontaneous and take the deal which included generous airfare vouchers, overnight accommodations, and meal vouchers.

Jill: We could have never done before because we always had kids to get home to. Now that we’re empty nesters, it was a possibility to consider.  However, you don’t have to be empty nesters to put a little spontaneity into your marriage.

Mark: As humans we’re naturally creatures of habit.  Our routines are what makes life comfortable and even gives us a sense of stability. However, our routines can also make our lives stagnant, pushing our relationships into a rut. It’s our responsibility to add a little spice to our marriage life to keep the fires burning!

Jill: Last Monday, on Labor Day, Mark and I were busy getting all kinds of things done on our long “to do” list.  It was beautiful outside and I was longing to be relaxing in the sun. On a whim, I decided to invite Mark to grab a book and a lawnchair and come join me to sit in the sun out in the yard for just 30 minutes.  We could have done that kind of spontaneity even when we had kids at home!

Mark: Need some practical ideas for adding some spice to your marriage? Here are a few ideas:

  • Surprise your spouse with their favorite candy bar for no reason.
  • Pack a picnic and head to the park for dinner.
  • If you’re not the one who usually prepares meals, take over the responsibility for a meal every once in a while.
  • Tell your spouse what you’re NOT wearing today.
  • Decide to have a little “horizontal fellowship” somewhere other than the bedroom. Serve breakfast in bed.
  • Eat dinner as a picnic in the back yard
  • After the kids go to bed, play a board game together.
  • Surprise your spouse with an unexpected night out (if your partner likes surprises!) where you arrange for the childcare and determine what’s on the agenda for the night based upon what your spouse enjoys.
  • Prepare your spouse’s favorite holiday food…at a non-holiday time!  Does he/she love pumpkin pie?  Pumpkin pie in June is a treat!
  • Turn off the television one evening this week, spread a blanket in the yard, and lay out and look at the stars together.

Jill: It’s important that to avoid the ruts of routine. Keeping a marriage fresh and exciting is part of our responsibility as a married partner. Do something unexpected today to surprise your spouse!

What about you? How have you incorporated spontaneity into your marriage?  What ideas would you add to the list? 

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