The Road to Happiness.

As a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Everything about being an adult appealed to me. I wanted to break away from everything that prevented me from living the life I dreamed of. I yearned for the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

I longed to be in charge of my own life.

“If only I was able to drive,” I thought,” I could go anywhere I wanted. I could do whatever I please. When I can finally drive… then… life will be grand.”

And for a while, it was.

Until the excitement wore off and I was left longing for something more.

Towards the end of high school I found myself in deep anticipation for the next season of life. The season where life would really begin. The place I could indeed spread my wings. The time when life would truly be grand…

College.

But that wasn’t what I envisioned it to be either.

“I know. I know,” I thought. “When I graduate from college, I will never have to spend another night studying. That is what is making my life so difficult. When I am finally through with school, then I will be free to really enjoy my life. Then, life will be grand.”

Graduation couldn’t come soon enough.

When it finally arrived, the studying ceased. But the longing for more was still present.

So I reasoned yet again.

“All of those other things are just— things. Things won’t make me happy. What I really need is companionship. When I meet Mr. Right,” I reasoned, “then I will find true happiness.”

I spent a lot of time looking for the road to happiness.

I forever believed that- When I get this… then… I would be that.

If only I could… then… life will be grand.

I spent a lot of my young life wishing I was somewhere I wasn’t, striving to attain my personal goals and putting my hope in things (and people) that failed me.

I was constantly searching for the station. The time when I would finally arrive. The place where all my longings would be fulfilled. The season when my world would be perfect, and LIFE WOULD TRULY BE GRAND.

Instead of reaching the station, however, somewhere in the midst of my searching, I discovered this truth… True happiness is not wrapped up in things. Or people.

As cliché as it sounds, true happiness can only be found deep within. It is discovered only when the void on the inside of you is filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

You can search to the ends of the earth. But I promise you, you will find only one relationship that brings lasting joy. There is only One who will fill you up. Only One who will never fail you.

I learned this important truth through the school of hard knocks. At a time when many of the people in my life let me down, Jesus became my sustenance.

I know this is foreign (and maybe even verges on a weird) for some of you reading this. You may be wondering how I can have so much faith in something, someone, I can’t even see? And, while I don’t have all the answers, I can assure you, it is the truth.

I spent years searching for the road to happiness.

I looked everywhere, including religion.

It was only when I began a real relationship with Christ, that the void in my heart was finally filled.

I didn’t get to this place in my life overnight. I simply said “yes” when I felt the knock on my heart. I had no idea that one simple “yes” was the turn I needed to put me on the road to happiness. I was clueless that this one yes would turn into this amazing, fulfilled life.

How about you? Have you answered the knock at the door of your heart? Have you said “yes” to the One who created you? Have you said “yes” to the One who longs to fill the deepest desire of your heart?

If you haven’t yet, but want to say yes to the Lord today, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me right now. I assure you, you will never regret it.

Dear Lord, Thank you Lord for sending your son, Jesus, to the earth to die for my sins on the cross at Calvary.  I have tried to do life my own way, and I realize my limitations. Forgive me for falling short so many times. This day, I invite you to come and live on the inside of me. Be my Lord. Be my Savior. I give you the reigns to my life. I ask you to sit in the driver’s seat. Lead me down the path You have prepared for me. Place people in my life to help me to walk in Your ways. Today, I surrender my life to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

How I Met My Husband.

Over and over again throughout my twenties, I envisioned meeting my future husband. I wondered where. And when. And how it would happen. Many times we sat down next to each other at church. I was introduced to him by friends. We bumped into each other at the grocery store. I even danced with him in my dreams.

I anticipated “The Day.” Every day. For years.

And for years, I was disappointed. Every date. Every set up. Every man. Every. Single. Time.

Until this day… April 20, 2002.

To my surprise, we weren’t singing praises in God’s house. We weren’t introduced by our Bible-believing friends. Nor did we have a divinely orchestrated meeting in line at Publix. Instead, the man I would one day spend forever with sat across from me. In a bar- Of all places.

Dressed in a stark white, collared shirt, his big blue eyes, dark brown hair and contagious smile begged me to go talk to him.

“Amy… Are you crazy? Nice. Christian. Gentlemen. Don’t come to bars.” I told myself.

“They could.” I responded. “You are here. Aren’t you?”

“You have got everything to gain. And nothing to lose,” I told myself. “Remember what you always say… You miss every opportunity you don’t take.”

And with that little inward dialogue, I left my seat to parade myself a little closer to him. As I did, that hunk of a man sitting across the bar leaned his chair back and asked if we could talk. He wasted little time on small chat and cut right to the chase.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” He asked.

Feeling a school girl crush I thought would end for sure the moment I laid my heart on the line, I answered truthfully, “What I want more than anything… is to be a wife and mother. So if in five years, I could be anywhere, that is where I would be.” I beamed.

In that moment, the Red Sea parted and the heavens opened wide. A piece of my heart had been swept away.

This one conversation. That looked nothing like I envisioned. In a loud, smoky room filled with beer drinking strangers, started a love affair that could be scripted by none other than the Keeper of the Stars.

Isaiah 55:8-9,For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

For years, I put God in a box. I expected His answer to come on my terms. On my time-table. The way I had planned. I had no idea of the crazy place the Lord would introduce me- to the man I spent my young life praying for, nor the wild ride He would take me on to get me to that place.

I had no idea of the years I would spend waiting, searching, and hoping.

I had no idea His answer would look nothing like my plan.

I believe My Father did it that way on purpose. To teach me His Higher way. To help me understand that He has perfectly crafted every detail of every plan. In His own time. On His own terms. In His own glorious way.

Who are we to think we know better than He?

Maybe the answer to your prayer looks a little different than you thought it would, too.

A little shorter. A little taller. Long hair or none at all.

Maybe it pays a little more or a little less.

Maybe it has one less bedroom. Or carpet throughout.

Maybe your answer will come from Asia, or China, or right next door.

Like David, the shepherd boy. Esther, the orphaned Jew. Or Jesus, the carpenter’s son. Often, God wraps His promises in settings that look very different than we expect. I am so grateful I didn’t allow the picture of what my answer was suppose to look like get in the way of the master-work the Lord had planned.

How about you? Are you holding the Lord to a time table? Are you so wrapped up in your own plan that you have forgotten to ask Him about His? If so, I encourage you to take a moment and pray this prayer with me…

Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for putting you in a box. Expand my vision to encompass Your plans for my life. Forgive me, also, for trying so hard to work my plan, instead of letting your plan be worked in me. Show me the broad picture. And guide me in the fine details. Lead me to a place where my will is completely and totally surrendered to Yours. Bring me to the place where I see your goodness fulfilled – as I trust in your perfect plan. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Day Terror Struck.

I had just driven home from my grandfather-in-law’s funeral in Missouri. We were in desperate need of groceries, so I piled the kids in the car and headed to Publix.  I was catching up with my sister on the phone when I noticed a small stream running down the side of the bridge in front of me. Then, before I could make sense of what was happening, a huge ball of fire erupted in front of my eyes. It was an explosion of colossal proportions. The kind you see in the movies.

My heart began pumping like a racehorse on speed. Anxiety coursed through my veins. I threw the phone down in horror and let out a screech that could be heard for miles. For a moment I forgot my, then four and six year old, kids were in the car. I lost all the composure a mother is supposed to keep when trying to protect her children from such catastrophic events and sat frozen in my car mere feet from the bridge now consumed with fire and smoke.

Within seconds a slew of police cars surrounded the scene. Officers waved me to safety and brought me to the courthouse for questioning. Amazingly, at this very busy intersection, there was very little traffic and few who witnessed the truck and gasoline tanker collide and come crashing over the 528 overpass to hit the ground in front of me.

For weeks following this tragic event, questions of “what if” surged through me. “What if I had been there four seconds earlier? What if I hadn’t listened to the bag lady tell her whole story at Publix? What if I hadn’t had to slow down for that red light? What if? What if? What if?”

For weeks, each time I approached the bridge, fear would begin to lay hold of me. Over and over, my heart would begin to race. I couldn’t pass an oil tanker (or any kind of semi truck for that matter) without feeling the physical effect of fear manifesting in my body. Moreover, the mere thought of it would cause panic to set in all over again.

I knew what the Word of God said about resisting the temptation to give in to fear. Yet fear, was beckoning me to sit down at her table.

Truly, I needed to stop this fear from laying hold of my heart. But how?

How do you stop a physical reaction from taking place within you that seems impossible to control?

Here’s how I did it…

First of all, I recognized that this feeling of fear was not given to me by the Lord. The Word says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear (NKJ), but of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control (Amp),” so I knew the feelings I felt could be overcome.

Next, I asked the Lord for help and made an active decision to exercise the spirit of discipline that He had placed on the inside of me. I decided what the outcome would be from the beginning… That I would not walk in this fear.

Then, I began to get on the offensive against my enemy. I used mental discipline as I drove toward my fear (the bridge/tankers). I talked to myself and often actually spoke out loud. I reminded myself that that I had nothing to fear; that God had given me a calm, self-disciplined mind; that the He did not design me to shrink back in fear over anything.

I repeated these steps for weeks, constantly reminding myself what God’s Word said. As I approached bridges and tankers and every time my mind began to wander to the “what ifs,” I told myself how this would end… In victory over fear. With fear subject to the Word of God.

This afternoon, the draw bridge on the way to my house was up. I got stuck (for at least five minutes) at the exact sight of the accident.

As I waited, I recounted the events that had taken place that January afternoon over three years ago. Two oil tankers drove directly above my head. Yet, not one ounce of anxiety crept through my veins. Not one bit of fear.

In those moments, I was reminded what a mighty God we serve. I was reminded of His grace and the power of His Word to those who will reach for it and not let go.

If you are struggling with fear or anxiety over anything, you are not reading this by accident. God longs to set you free. He has equipped you with every tool you need for success. I encourage you today, to make a decision to see His plan unfold in your life. Decide today what your end is going to look like. Then pray this prayer with me.

“Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your perfect love toward me that casts out all fear. Thank you for equipping me with the tools I need to overcome every ounce of anxiety that courses through me. I declare, I will walk in self-discipline. I will trust Your Word over my feelings. In this moment, I declare that I will no longer give into the feeling of fear. I choose to believe You for victory in my life. I am an overcomer. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”  

Last Week, I Went Off the Deep End.

My heart’s desire was to help. No doubt. I had nothing but their best interest in mind. In all honesty, I could not find one selfish motive on the inside of me. Yet still, from every side I was being attacked. My character was assaulted. And I… was completely misunderstood.

Like knives to the heart, the wounds cut deep.

In fact, the wounds are still fresh. Even today, I hear whispers of untruths being spoken about me from people I love.

Here in this moment, I have some choices to make… I can carry the guilt they want to put on me. Become bitter. I could get angry and shut out those I love. Or get defensive and try to change their mind. I can worry about it and lose sleep. Or I could be hurt and stay there.

But none of these choices sound good to me. None are productive. Nor do they create the type of life I want to live.

So, instead, I choose to forgive.

Not because they deserve it. Nor because I am wrong. But because I know a little secret that others in the midst of turmoil often forget…

Bitterness and unforgiveness cause ME trouble.

Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

I don’t want TROUBLE in my life. So rather than cause further damage to myself and others, I chose to cut off the source of trouble…By walking in forgiveness. Rather than wasting my time being bitter, I choose to focus my time and energy on things that produce joy in my life.

Does that mean it comes easily? Not always.

Does it mean I never fail? Absolutely not.

Once last week, I went off the deep end. I was literally as mad as I have ever been in my entire life. I screamed louder than I have ever yelled at anyone in my life. (My husband and daughter actually came into my bedroom asking what alien took over my body.) But rather than give bitterness a foothold, I apologized right away for losing my cool. And, before hearing an apology on the other end of the line, I forgave my offender. Because I know that bitterness and unforgiveness only end up causing ME trouble.

I don’t want trouble, so I choose forgiveness.

To ask. To receive. And to forgive.

No matter who is right or wrong. No matter how, or what or why, I hold the key to my future.

And you hold yours.

Your destiny is in the palm of your hand. Your future is what You make of it. No one (other than you) can choose to let bitterness take root on the inside of you. Likewise, no one can choose forgiveness for you.

It is a power only you can give away.

It is a choice only you can make.

 

Behind Every Great Man Stands A Great Woman.

Have you ever wondered how great people get to be great? I mean. Really. At what point do you go from just an ordinary somebody…. To someone really great?

Is the gift of greatness something that some are born with and others simply aren’t? Or is greatness something you can work at? And become.

Recently, I read a story about a man most of us know very well. He started out as an ordinary boy who played football in college. After graduating, he began a career in radio broadcasting. From there, he went on to work as an actor and film star before entering the military. But, it wasn’t until he entered into politics that this man really made his mark on the world. From 1967-1975, he worked as the governor of California. Then, in 1981, after two failed attempts, he was elected 40th President of the United States.

That ordinary boy grew into an extraordinary man. His name was Ronald Reagan.

Reading about President Reagan’s life, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What was it about this man that made him so great?”

Not knowing much about his early life, I assumed Ronald Reagan must have grown up in an affluent family. After all, he was a successful radio broadcaster, actor and politician. But when I looked into Reagan’s childhood, I discovered something far from affluent. In fact, Ronald Reagan was born into a rather poor family.  His father struggled as an alcoholic throughout his life. Yet, amazingly this man turned out to be someone great.

With an alcoholic for a father, I found this hard to believe…

Until I read about his mother… Nelle Reagan.

Nelle Reagan was a woman of great faith. She was an active member of her church, taught Sunday school and was devoted to prayer. From the time he was a boy, Reagan’s mother planted seeds of hope into his life through the Word of God. She repeated one specific phrase over her son’s life on an ongoing basis.

Nelle Reagan would say, “God has a plan for your life. There is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

I wonder who Ronald Reagan would have become without his mother’s influence? Knowing the path of his father, without her, I am convinced the story would not have ended the same.

Proverbs 15:23, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

Great men and woman are not born. Indeed, they are made.

As a mother, your words of affirmation and hope have the power to change the course of your child’s life. Your words of praise and encouragement continuously repeated in your child’s ear will override every negative word or destructive situation your child finds himself in.

Whether they are four or forty four, the words we speak over our children’s’ lives are like fertilizer to the soul. They cause our children to grow into tall trees- with deep roots.

It is true what they say, “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” That  woman… is often “Mom.”

“Lord, I pray that every mother who reads this post would have a fresh revelation of both the creative and destructive power of her words. That she would be intentional in creating an environment around her children of hope, encouragement and praise. That each and every word spoken forth from her mouth would utter grace, life and peace. And that mother’s everywhere would have a deeper understanding of how to defeat darkness with the weapon of her words as they come into agreement with Yours. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Wear Me Down Long Enough, I Just Might Cave.

“Mommy, Can we go swimming?” my daughter asks.

“No. We are not swimming today. I need to finish staining the pool deck tonight,” I reply.

A few minutes later, my son chimes in. “Please. Please. Mommy, we really want to go swimming.”

For hours, I hear the same question repeated over and again from different, little voices. “Swimming? Please, Mommy. Please. Swimming? We want to go swimming. Please, Mommy. Please.”

I know what I need to do. I know what I need to say. The answer is the same as when I started. “No! Not today. I am going to stain the pool deck tonight.”  However, after being bombarded hour after hour, I am tempted to give in. To adjust my plans to accommodate the little voices who beg me.

Their goal—To wear me down until I finally cave.

Maybe you can relate.

Lately in life, I have had a number of discouraging voices attempting to wear me down, too. I am trying really hard to stand my ground and ignore them. But the truth is… Discouragement keeps tapping on the door of my heart. Every time I feel like I am making forward progress, I get knocked back down.

It is tempting to cave and accept defeat. To adjust my plans to accommodate the little voices speaking to me. To accept plan B and settle for something less than God’s best.

There is only one major problem with this thinking… I don’t want Plan B.

I want Plan A. And, I believe the Lord wants me to have it, too.

To keep me pressing forward, in times like these, I follow the example of the psalmist. Psalm 27:13, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Call me foolish, but I actually believe, like the Psalmist, that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the days ahead.  I have His Word backing me up. The scripture explicitly says: I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:31). That I will triumph in victory in all things through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). That He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that I can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). And that if I refuse to quit, He will complete the good work He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).

With all this knowledge, why would I settle for anything less than God’s Best?

Settling may seem like the easy way out. But, I assure you, it is not! I learned years ago that “Good” is often the thief of “God’s Best.”

Don’t get robbed of His promises by choosing to settle. Instead, stand your ground and wait patiently on Him. Then, watch Him perform His Best in your life.

I challenge you today to make a choice to believe God’s Word in whatever area you struggle with. To refuse to settle for second best.  And to determine in your heart that you will not give up until you see God’s promises come to pass in your life.

Where’s the Bar?

Trusting God is huge. And I am a super big faith advocate. But, as Christians, we can’t bury our head in the sand, do nothing, and expect to pray our troubles away. Sure, God calls us to believe. But He also calls us to act.  And sometimes taking action means making hard decisions. Then – implementing them.

Proverb 24:3-4, “Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

Lately, the Lord has been whispering this verse to my heart. I hear it before I go to bed, when I wake up, and as I go about my daily routine. So, this afternoon, I decided to look the verse from Proverbs up in some other translations.

I love how the Living Bible reads. It says this: “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”

Clearly an enterprise (or business) becomes successful through wise planning, the use of common sense and studying the facts surrounding the venture.

Should my home life be any different?

I think not.

If I want the rooms in my home to be filled with precious and pleasant riches, I had better use wisdom in building my house. After all, the Lord gives wisdom to His children so we can build our homes effectively and live happy, healthy lives.

Unfortunately, oftentimes as Christians we get so into believing God to work out our problems for our good that we forget to use our God-given gift of wisdom to thwart the problem in the first place.

For example…

1- If you give your child free access to your computer, they will likely get involved in something they shouldn’t. (porn, cyber-bullying, etc.) Wisdom is intentional. It blocks their access to these types of sites and closely monitors their activities online.

2- If you don’t want your children (or anyone else) speaking disrespectfully to you, don’t speak that way to them. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Wisdom controls her tongue.

3- The friends you let your children hang around strongly influence their behavior. If you let them hang out with kids without character, chances are- they will stumble. Wisdom cuts off exposure to unhealthy friendships.

4- If you don’t enforce consequences for poor choices, your children are going to continue to make them. Wisdom disciplines and follows through with punishment.

5- If you don’t talk to your children about sex while they are young, someone will. And they likely won’t have the same values as you. Wisdom has an ongoing conversation with her children about sex, purity and the physical and emotional consequences of each.

In case you haven’t noticed, times have changed. The family unit is falling apart. Children are having babies. Teenagers are drinking and drugging. Young men are going on shooting rampages.

We have got to use wisdom to protect our children.

I don’t want my children becoming a statistic, so I draw a clear line for my kids and hold them to the highest standard. Because I have the God-given gift of wisdom at work in my life, I know full well that my children are going to test those lines and cross those boundaries. If my boundary line is low, when they cross it they are doomed for destruction. So I raise the bar for them, knowing that when they slip, though I might not like it, the consequences won’t be detrimental.

By wisdom my home is being built into one that, not only can I live with, but one I also love to live in.

How about you? Are you using wisdom in raising your children? Do you have a well-defined line for them? Is that line high enough that when they fall below it, you will be satisfied with the results?

It Didn’t End the Way I Thought It Would.

My heart is torn. My understanding – dim. The picture I see in the natural doesn’t match the one I envisioned in my heart.

Like a good daughter, heeding the wisdom of her Father, I stepped out in faith. That one step led to another.  And another. And another. With each step, came a certainty I was moving in the right direction. Every angle appeared to be falling into place exactly as I prayed.

It wasn’t a bed of roses, but deep inside me, I was confident…”This is His plan.”

Then it happened.

The rug was yanked from under me…. Or, maybe I pulled the plug… I am not really sure. All I know – is here I stand with a barrel of unanswered questions.

I wonder… Can you relate? Have you ever felt the Lord leading you in a certain direction, only to end up in a place far, far away?

Let me assure you, you are not alone. Today, I am standing inundated with questions, too.

My flesh is weak. It wants to fret, worry, and bring to the surface all the “what if’s.” It tries to convince me I don’t hear His voice at all. My mind begs for answers I may never know.

But —when I search the deepest part of me, my soul finds rest. While my flesh is in tears and confused, my spirit is bold and empowered. I have an immeasurable sense of peace my mind can’t comprehend. It is a peace that surpasses all my understanding. The kind only Christ can give.

In the midst of all the chaos, I hear His voice rising up on the inside of me. It is a voice I do know very well.  It speaks in unwavering truths and echoes far above all the other voices that vie for my attention.

Isaiah 30:21, “’Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’Whenever you turn to the right hand, Or whenever you turn to the left.”

His voice calms and reminds me…

“Amy, You have walked this path of unknowns before and have come out on the other side in victory. You have tasted My goodness and shared my cup.  

My plan for you is perfect. It will not fail. 

Cling to My Word. Listen to My instruction. When you don’t know which way to turn, My voice will be your guide. If you focus on what is going on around you, you will never hear My voice. You must turn off the clutter and come away with Me. Fix your eyes on Me, and remember what I say.

Trust Me with your life. I will not let you down or leave you helpless. I will fill you with My strength to bear what lies before you. Believe on Me. Hold fast to My Words and I will deliver you, like I have many times before.”

In this matter, the ending is still unwritten. But the choice for me is clear… I will listen to my spirit.

I will not allow fear to cripple me. I will trust in the God who has never let me down. I will trust His plan, even when it doesn’t make sense to me. I will trust His ways, even as I stand perplexed. I will trust His protection, even though my heart is vulnerable and exposed.

Right now. In this very moment. When I am left with a myriad of questions, I choose– to trust Him with it all.

Today, I invite you to trust Him too… Re-read the words above and replace my name with yours.  Then pray this prayer with me…

“Lord, I trust you with my life. I trust you with my future. I trust you to work out what I cannot fix. And make right what I don’t understand. I declare this very moment that henceforth, I will keep my eyes fixed upon you. I will not waver. I will trust in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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Choose Your Words, Change Your World.

I have a great marriage. I am not just saying it either. In the (almost) twelve years I have been married, I have raised my voice to my husband only once. If you think that is impressive, just wait. He has me beat. In all those years, Landon has never- not even once- yelled at me. I have never called him a jerk, or anything of the like.  I would never think of calling him (or anyone for that matter) a name with an asterisk in it.  And, I do not carry one ounce of resentment towards him for anything.

There is no other person on the face of the planet that I would rather spend forever with than him. And yes, I know you are supposed to say that about your spouse. But – I truly feel that way. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. There is no person I trust more. No person I respect more. No person that makes me laugh more. No person I love more than my husband.

So, how- after all these years- can I still say these things?

Let me start by saying this… It is not because I married the perfect man. Nor because he married the perfect woman.

We don’t live in Pleasantville. I don’t cook in a dress and heels. Our children spill milk at the dinner table and argue incessantly on some days. There is no money tree growing in our back yard… We are just like you- opinionated people with our own way of doing things. We get frustrated. We get upset. We (or at least- I) get my feelings hurt sometimes, too.

I attribute a large portion of the success we have experienced in our marriage to one important key: The effective use of life-giving words.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

I can use my words for many things. Whether for good or bad, in time, I will reap the consequences of the words I choose to say (or those I don’t).

Daily, I choose to use my words to love my husband.  My love for him restrains me. It keeps me from yelling at him. It keeps me from calling him names. My desire to have a wonderful marriage fifty years from now reminds me to focus on the good in him. And to point it out to him –All the time.

I learned how to do this from one of the best.

My husband is a great affirmer. Through his words, he makes me feel like there is no sexier woman on the face of the earth. He tells me I am beautiful regularly.  He uses his words to encourage me to take on my dreams and to calm my fears. When I dread the monotony of daily life- cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, repeat- I hear his words of gratitude echo in my ear, and I feel appreciated.

My husband’s arms are a soft place to fall because his mouth exudes encouragement.

Sounds nice. Doesn’t it?

Well, it doesn’t have to just sound nice. It can be a reality in your life too.

Words are free. Your mouth can ooze encouragement. Your words can create life. You can change the atmosphere in your home, in your marriage, in your relationships, with your children- simply by being intentional in the words you use with them.

You can choose your words well and reap the results of bridled, life-giving tongue.

Don’t wait for someone else to start it. Today, I invite you to give it a try. Pick a person in your life. Write down ten nice things about them (or ways to encourage them, show appreciation, etc.) Then, spend the day showering them with encouragement. Repeat it day after day. And watch your relationship change before your very eyes.

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My Imperfect Faith.

I believe in miracles.

Not only do I believe in miracles, but I have witnessed them on multiple occasions. Through the years, I have seen the Lord heal multiple people in my family alone.

When I was a girl, God miraculously removed the warts that lined my leg. (Really- Warts on leg. Prayer. Warts gone.) My sister’s hearing was restored as a teen.  In 1999, my husband fractured his spine and was miraculously healed– without ever having any kind of surgery or pain meds.

I believe with all my heart that Christ desires to heal all of His children. It is written in His Word.

Psalm 103:3, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.”  
                   

Though I have personally experienced His healing power, I still wrestle with doubt sometimes. In fact, I am currently in one of those seasons.

My son has had the ‘itchies’ for about a month now. At first, I ignored him. (I know. Bad Mommy.) After two weeks, I decided I ought to take him to the doctor. Dr. K couldn’t give us a definitive diagnosis. Since he couldn’t rule it out, he gave us scabies cream.

Ugh.

Just the thought made me itch. For a week. (It’s amazing what talking about mites can do to you… Are you itching yet?) Just to be safe we applied the cream from head to toe. I washed the sheets, comforters, and pillows. Then I repeated the process a week later without success.

My son was still itching.

Since I know God wants him well, I decided I must need to put action to my faith. So, I declared my faith out loud.

“Lord, I believe your Word. I know you want Ty well. I truly believe it! I know you died to take away his sickness. I believe your Word! Thank you for healing Ty. Thank you for taking away his itchies. In Jesus’ name.”

All day, I declared his healing over and over again. Then, I took the cream and threw it in the trash – as a step of faith.

The rest of the afternoon, Ty cried and whined about how much he itched.

Finally, evening time came. I couldn’t take it anymore. I left the house to get Benadryl cream and pills (with my other children asking why I was going to the store if Ty was healed. Great example, huh?) Then, on arriving home, I did the unthinkable: I bent over the trash can in the garage and dug until I pulled the scabies cream out of the trash— just in case.

Errrr!!!! Why is my faith so imperfect?

I know you are expecting some great ending to this story. Like all of the sudden the house shook and the bumps were gone. Or I had a visitation by an angel in the night and the itchies simply disappeared.

There is no such ending. As I write this, it still hasn’t happened. And I don’t understand it… However, despite my weakness, I refuse to change my beliefs based on what I see.

I know what God’s Word says… “Who heals ALL your disease.”

At times, I am faithless. He is not.

I change. He remains the same.

I am weak. He is strong.

He is perfect. I am not.

One day, I will have perfect faith. But it won’t be until I cross to the other side of eternity. So for now, I am going to keep pressing on. I am going to keep using my imperfect faith. And entrust matters such as these to the One who is perfection.

Oh, and in case you are wondering…

I still believe God wants Ty well…

And, I still believe in miracles.

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