Made to Make a Difference with Max Lucado

For the past few months, our creative team at Bluefish TV has been in the process of creating three video-driven youth Bible studies with Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and Doug Fields. In early August, the studies released and it’s been so neat to see the final outcome. I had a blast writing copy, editing, finding real-life stories, and networking with some really great people on this project.

Made to Make a Difference was the Bible study we worked on with Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna. This study in particular is so unique as it challenges students to get beyond themselves and to step out and make a difference in the lives of others.

Here is a 2 minute glimpse into the study. I get chills every time I watch it. I hope you’ll pass the info along to anyone you know involved in the lives of youth.


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how a child makes love stronger

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”  – Author Unknown

My “baby” is now an active 22 month old toddler and I can relate so much to that quote. John’s life has instilled something within me I never knew was possible: to love deeper and to see my future truly worth living for.

Even in the challenges that come with raising John, I’ve found no greater joy that I get to help mold and shape his life and who he will become one day. And the even more incredible thing is that in turn, my own life is being changed. As the months pass by so so quickly, God is using John to make me more like Christ- exposing my impatience, selfishness, pride, and helping me become more patient, selfless, and humble.

With a baby girl arriving late October, I know the nights will be longer again, our bank account smaller, and my clothes will probably be stained and shabby. But I know that yet again, her little life will help me see that the future is worth living for because I am the only one she will ever call “Momma.”

I’m not exactly sure how, but I know that God will use her, yet again, to show me more about His love.

How has your love grown stronger?

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This past Sunday, I struggled with anger. And it came out of nowhere.

Everything under the sun bothered me and I let it out on Jeremiah. I remembered a blog post I read a while back from a well-respected Christian man who discovered that his feelings of discouragement and depression at the end of the day were often just a result of being overtired.

I came to the conclusion that my anger must have been from being overtired. So I went to bed.

I woke up in a better mood, but I still had feelings of guilt from my behavior.

I sat down on our lazy boy and picked up my pen, journal, and leather-bound Bible. I begged God to show himself to me. That he would help me swallow my pride and confess my sin from the night before. That he would fill me and give me his grace in my weakness.

I read the words from my quiet time: “For in this tent, we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened- not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:2-4).

I was totally there. I felt myself groaning, longing to have a new, sinless body. I wanted to give up, but was so encouraged as I continued to read in verse 5: “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” His Spirit is within me as a seal to help me persevere when I’m not living how I should.

Knowing that my earthly body will one day be clothed in the perfection of Christ gives me so much hope. What a beautiful promise that is for each of us, especially on those days that are frustrating. Maybe for no reason.

That scripture was all I needed to be refreshed at the start of a new day. And by grace, Monday ended up being a great day!

How has God’s word encouraged you in your struggles?

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Baby girl’s very first gift

I first found out about Ashleigh Slater through a great webzine for young women called Ungrind, which she is the editor for. Over the past few years, the articles on Ungrind have been a warm cup of coffee for my soul and I love the ministry Ashleigh has through it.

Several months ago Ashleigh miscarried her fourth baby girl Noah. Her husband wrote about their loss here on Boundless. Noah was due right around the time our baby girl is due. Ashleigh’s loss really opened my eyes to just how precious life is and Who is ultimately in control.

As part of Ashleigh’s healing process, she made this beautiful quilt for baby girl Krieger. This quilt is so special because of the story behind it all. Because of the hands that made it. And I was so surprised and overjoyed to found out last week that Ashleigh is expecting again!

Thank you Ashleigh- this quilt will be one of our most treasured gifts in our family for years to come. You’re continually in our thoughts and prayers.

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Marriage: Finding Beautiful in the Messy

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I took the ENRICH relationship inventory. Last Wednesday, we went over our results with our mentor couple John and Pam. Our results astonished us, revealing that we were a vitalized couple. But the truth of the matter is those results wouldn’t have been that way 3 years ago.

Our marriage has needed some hard work done on it, a hard look into the deeper matters of our sinful hearts.

Some of it ties back to the day we sat down together about a year ago and read the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

As two people who followed Christ, we knew that those fruits didn’t characterize us as much as they should. We began to pray, reflect, bring our struggles before those we do life with, and most of all humble ourselves to find change.

God began to shine his light on the sin that was taking small bites out of our marriage. For me, I had allowed anger to inch its way in. Impatience. Ungratefulness. Harsh words and tone. Bitterness. I didn’t always see the degree to how destructive it was. But God didn’t give up on me.

Over time, God’s word began to change me and heal me in those areas. I’ve become less angry, more grateful, more self-controlled with my words and tone and more quick to forgive. I haven’t arrived and never will, but in God’s strength, he is making me more like him.

God continues to do an awesome work in Jeremiah and I respect and love him with such a greater depth than when we said “I do.” I value our relationship so much more and we both know that our marriage is the greatest treasure God has given us.

I’m so thankful that God’s promises are true. He is truly a God who takes the messy, broken parts within us and makes them beautiful. He turns marriages around so that His image can be better reflected in the world. And he will continue to do that if we let him.

Well after celebrating the good news of our ENRICH results, we agreed that there’s a temptation to get complacent in our relationship or even prideful. I’m sure we’ll have some kind of other “test” this week to make sure that doesn’t happen 🙂

Have you found anything “beautiful” in your marriage or other relationships lately?

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Tyler Merrick & Project 7

I’m always inspired by individuals who take risks for the sake of being obedient to God’s call. Tyler Merrick left his family business in Amarillo three years ago and moved to Dallas to start Project 7a consumer goods company that gives 50% of their profits to seven areas of need around the world.

Maybe you’ve seen some of their products in Whole Foods, Books-a-Million, Caribou Coffee and other stores. I love what Tyler and his team are doing, but even more so I love that he views his business as ministry.

That’s mainly what we talked about when I interviewed him on the phone yesterday for a project at work. He told me about the disconnect he saw between his professional life and personal ministry. He said, “I wanted the marketplace to be my mission field.” And so it has. With the platform God has given him, he’s had countless opportunities to build relationships and share his faith all over the country as the founder of Project 7.

And Tyler is making such a huge impact for the kingdom without being on staff at a church.

So how can you help? Check out this list of where Project 7 products are sold and go buy some bottled water, gum, mints, or a T-shirt so you can make a positive change in the world. Last night, I checked out the water aisle at our local Whole Foods, and found a  Project 7 water bottle. The writing on it read HELP THOSE IN NEED. It was so exciting to purchase, and then give back.

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Summer days

This past weekend we were in Michigan for Jeremiah’s brother’s wedding.

Bubbles were the hit for this little guy.

20 months old but really a gentleman

This groomsman is a little distracted

And more bubbles

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On perfection, good works, and falling short

This particular morning Jeremiah and I were driving down the road on our way to get breakfast when we caught a glimpse of a church’s marquee to our right. In black letters it read: No Perfect People Allowed.

Out of all the crazy church marquee signs out there, this one was a breath of fresh air. I figured the church must have gotten the phrase from John Ortberg’s book.

Growing up in the church, there were times I felt I had to be perfect to be accepted. So much that I kept up a certain image inside the doors and another one on the outside. But I was totally missing the mark in my faith and in the gospel and here’s why:

Perfection or “good behavior” isn’t the goal of our faith. I fall short every time when it is. The goal is depending on God’s grace and love to work in our hearts and transform them. Any good works we produce are evidence of a life that has been changed by Christ. Behavior modification doesn’t mean life change has truly happened from the inside out. Anyone can look holy. And we can’t mistake this for the gospel.

These truths have lifted certain burdens like: If I could just follow that rule closer… If I could sin less in this area… if I could just appear to love that person, then.. This thinking is all about me and what I can do and not on God’s grace to ultimately change my heart and help me put sin to death.

On our drive back with a belly full of chocolate chip pancakes, I glanced at the sign again. While my good works won’t get me anywhere, I became more thankful that an absolute dependence on a perfect Savior to change my stubborn heart, always will.

Do you ever focus too much on good works instead of grace? Any church marquee signs catching your eye lately?

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What to do with Mom Exhaustion

This past weekend, Jeremiah and I agreed that we won’t do a garage sale again with a toddler.

Curious John was into everything and we should have known. The china cups, clothes hangers, picture frames. He was into opening and closing the screen door to our friend’s house, exploring the lawn, and to top it off, he darted out into the street to follow me as I was loading stuff into the car (marital miscommunication among who was watching him). I was frantic and felt like an awful mother for that to have even happened.

I should have never expected to do anything else with the sale but to keep my eyes on him and train him on what not to touch. Jeremiah already said he would organize everything.

At the end of the day, I left the sale frustrated, exhausted, impatient, and my feet were killing me being 21 weeks pregnant. I began to think, Is this life as it is? Cause I’m going to go crazy if it is!

Lately, I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the amount of energy required of a 20 month old toddler. At times, I feel there is nothing left to give at the end of the day. I don’t know where the strength comes to cook, clean, write, love my husband well, catch up with friends, or be on mission in serving others.

Yet often the real problem is me. I don’t go to the Source of all strength.

That evening as I sat in bed and John was sound a sleep, I came to my senses again. This season of life for him is so precious and before I know it, it will be gone. He will no longer be a toddler, but a big Kindergartener. This is his stage. His season of life. And it’s my job as his mommy to treasure that.

As mother’s, God understands the exhaustion we feel. He knows the ever-changing moods and emotions. He knows the pressure put on our marriages when not only raising children, but raising them well. He understands when we just need to vent and cry and hide in the closet. He has reminded me that his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). His grace is always available.

I’m so thankful he understands, especially when I somehow think that no one else does. I’m thankful I can draw to Him through His word and prayer so that he can meet my spiritual, emotional and physical needs. When I’m listening and confessing my inadequacies, it’s then that I’m renewed to help meet the needs of my son. I’m more patient, loving, and understanding.

The garage sale was a good lesson for me and I know other hard days will come. But I also know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Thank goodness!

Do you ever experience Mom (or Dad) exhaustion?

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Critics vs. Cheerleaders

image by Dan Waber

The more I live my life, the more I see the need for cheerleaders, and not critics.

I remember in my junior year of college, I wrote a fiction piece my Creative Writing professor loved. He read it to the class and at the end of the year, I won the Fiction Award at the end of the year ceremony for the English department. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to submit the piece to our school’s literary magazine.

I was excited to contribute, but to my surprise, the lady in charge of submissions wrote an email back saying there was no story and no chance of it being published. She said she couldn’t believe that I submitted it. She offered zero feedback on how to make it better. Her criticism instilled a lot of fear in me, regardless if she was right.

I was confused and began to think, did my professor have his head on straight? Or am I just a loser who doesn’t know how to write?

And once in a blue moon, that lady’s words still come back to haunt me.

Then there have been people in my life who’ve done nothing but cheer me on. They’ve intentionally come along side me to speak the truth in love and encourage me to get back up. They’ve given of themselves and said: “You can do it! God has great plans for you! Keep fixing your eyes ahead…” Even if there was criticism on their part, it was constructive and done in love. It built me up. Those people are who I desire to be like. Those who have shown me by example, how to cheer someone else on.

It’s a daily choice to consider the cheerleaders in your life, and not the critics. It’s way too easy to cling to the latter. And the negative thoughts just start flying! It’s also way too easy to be the actual critic. God created us to live in community with one another where we will grow and thrive and part of that includes surrounding ourselves with people who will lift us up, whether that’s in our relationship with Christ, friendships, career, parenthood, or whatever.

Well after my submission upset, God began to give me clarity in my writing dreams. I started writing non-fiction articles and Bible studies for major publishing companies and discovered that non-fiction was where my heart beat the most. His grace allowed my writing career to really take off and today, my passion is to cheer on other people as best I can- while still battling the criticism I have in my heart at times towards others and myself.

Is it difficult for you to let go of another person’s criticism? What do you appreciate most about those who have cheered you on?

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