8 things I want my daughters to know

mom and daughter

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God endures forever.~Isaiah 40:8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies~ Psalm 36:5

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Husband. Parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we  garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. ~ James 5:16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.

 

 

 

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the one prayer policy

As I do each morning, I spend quiet time with the Lord praying and reading the Bible before embarking on my day. Sometimes the prayer lists are extensive, especially when the Lord brings to mind those people I need to pray for due to health issues, financial struggles, relationship issues, natural disasters, comfort due to a loss in their lives, or for the salvation of an unsaved loved one.

praying girl

“Oh, and Lord, could you please help…”

“Oh, and please come alongside…”

“Oh, and also, can you give peace and comfort to…”

“Oh, and…”

The list goes on and on. As an avid prayer warrior, I have found that there is no shortage of prayers needed for those around us. Whether it be those we know and love or those we have never met.

I am so grateful that the Lord doesn’t say, “Now, Penny. You’re prayer limit has been reached. Please reserve the remaining prayers for another day.”

Or…

“Sorry, Penny. Your one prayer is all you are allotted for the day. Pick which prayer that will be, pray it, then return tomorrow with another prayer.”

No, instead, God tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to be “faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Psalm 17 6In Ephesians 6:18, He tells us, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Psalm 145 18aJeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” It doesn’t say, pray only once or twice and reach the prayer quota, then be done.

No, the Lord welcomes our prayers. Prayers throughout the day. Prayers on any topic or for anyone.

No limits.

No maximum.

No one-prayer policy.

On that note, I think it’s time for a prayer of gratitude!

 

 

 

 

every single detail

2 Isaiah 26 3

Three weeks ago, my husband, Lon, came home from work with a swollen knee that was painful and hot to the touch. We both knew exactly what it was…a staph infection. Lon has had five of these infections since 2009, all on the left-hand side of his body in three different locations.

In the next couple of weeks, we would go through a nerve-racking set of circumstances on the path to my husband’s recovery.

Throughout this entire experience, we saw God’s fingerprints all over the situation. A testament that the Lord cares about the big and the small things in our lives – and all the details in between.

After two weeks of oral antibiotics and IV treatment, both while admitted to the hospital and outpatient, Lon’s infection was not improving. As a matter of fact, it was getting worse. It had spread at a rapid pace down his entire leg to his ankle and foot. The orthopedic surgeon ordered and MRI.

The next day, Lon and I went to the hospital at the orthopedic surgeon’s request to meet with him. We thought we were to meet with him in between patients and find out our game plan. I suspected a surgery might be in order at some point, but I didn’t suspect the news we found out when we entered the doors of the OR.

The nursing staff placed Lon in a room and said they’d be in soon to prep him for an emergency surgery based on his MRI. The doctor would be performing a surgery to remove the infection from his knee. That gave me very little time to pray and to contact the insurance company to get pre-authorization for the surgery.

But God knew all this was to happen, and He knew the outcome.

The night before Lon’s emergency surgery (that we didn’t know he was going to have) he came upstairs late at night (his night owl wife was still up reading,) and said he had a super serious craving for popcorn. This was highly unusual, so after teasing him about being like a pregnant woman, I grabbed him some Skinny Pop. God knew that night that the Skinny Pop would be the only thing Lon would be eating for over the next 17 plus hours due to the emergency surgery. Lon would have never been able to make it if he hadn’t had that popcorn, since dinner had been several hours earlier.

A testament of God’s loving care for His children.

On our way to the surgery on Tuesday that we didn’t know Lon was having, we were pulled over. The officer told us, that unbeknownst to us, we had no brake lights – they had both gone out at the same time.

No brake lights.

At all?

At first, I was like, “Really? You had to pull us over outside of the hospital?! And right now?!” But then I realized what a blessing that was as we could have been rear-ended.

During Lon’s long post-surgery recovery in the OR, the nurse told me to take a break and run some errands, so I ran to get light bulbs for the brake lights. I was chatting with the guys at our local Napa store, when one of them walked outside with the light bulbs. “Your man is down, so we’re going to fix this for you,” he said.

God knew I would be running around town like a crazy person driving back and forth from the hospital, picking up Lon’s medicines at the pharmacy, etc., with no brake lights, and placed a kind guy in our midst to help us out. I am always amazed and again reminded at how God cares about the small things, as well as the big things in our lives. 

lon knee

Tomorrow is exactly three weeks since Lon was diagnosed with this most recent staph infection. Throughout this time, we have had big concerns, such as, that the infection spread to Lon’s heart or other organs. Thankfully, it hadn’t.

But through it all, whether the concerns were small or on a bigger scale, God had our backs. He went before us and guided us every step of the way. He heard our prayers and the prayers of our dear family and our faithful friends at church.

Today, Lon continues to recover.

And I will never forget how the Lord showed me once again how much He cares about every single detail in our lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your tender mercies.

 

12 songs to get you through the tough times

We all go through hard times and struggles. This life is not easy.

In no particular order are 12 songs to get you through those difficult times life throws your way.  A perfect addition to any playlist, these songs speak of God’s love. His faithfulness. His tender care for His children. The fact that we are never alone.

A click on the song title will take you to the Youtube lyric video.

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I Will Lift My Eyes – Bebo Norman

Look a Little Higher – JJ Weeks Band

Even If – MercyMe

Hills and Valleys – Tauren Wells

Oh My Soul – Casting Crowns

I Will – Citizen Way

Worn – Tenth Avenue North

You are My Rescue – Royal Tailor

Rescue me – Selah

Found – Seventh Day Slumber

Just Say Jesus – 7eventh Time Down

Let the Waters Rise – Mikeschair (I couldn’t find an official video with the song by Mikeschair, so I linked this to the Amazon sample).

 

We all go through difficult times. But we are reminded of the promise in Hebrews 13:5:

Hebrews 13 5

who inspires you?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

I recently met a woman in my water aerobics class who is 94-years-old. An inspiration, this woman is sharp in her mind and active in her body. As a matter of fact, she took swimming lessons for the first time at age 84, with the goal of diving off the diving board!

After much hard work, she accomplished her goal.

So many women throughout history are inspiring:

Ruth in the Bible, widowed as a young woman, followed her mother-in-law to her homeland and bravely supported both of them.

Esther of the Bible risked her life to save her people.

The midwives in Egypt in Moses’ time risked their lives to deliver babies against the Pharoah’s wishes.

Or the more recent inspiring women of history:

Eleanor Roosevelt overcame a difficult childhood to become a first lady and champion for human rights. She fought for what she believed in and never gave up.

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Corrie ten Boom, a woman I greatly admire, helped to hide Jews during WWII until caught. She survived the horror of the holocaust in concentration camps during WWII. Her amazing faith allowed her to forgive one of the Nazi guards where she was held. She is a true example of putting into action the message Jesus spoke of forgiveness.

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Joni Eareckson Tada is nothing short of inspirational. A diving accident left her a quad­riplegic when she was just a teenager. While she cannot use her hands, Joni can paint using her mouth. Her faith in the Lord, despite what she has been through, strengthens my own faith.

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Or the inspirational people in my own family:

My grandma, who while in her 80s, lets nothing stop her.

My mom, who while chronically disabled, sets an example of faith for her children, grandchildren, and those at the places where she volunteers.

Everyday is a day we have a chance to inspire others without even knowing it.

Who, past or present, has inspired you?

 

 

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Tweetables:

Who inspires you? (click to tweet)

What women throughout history inspire you? (click to tweet)

These women, past and present, are true inspirations. (click to tweet)

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how to make your plans succeed

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Four things were on the immediate agenda:

It was November and my youngest daughter and I planned to enter a power-walk/run relay to raise money for the local homeless shelter.

In the weeks before Christmas, our family planned to donate time standing outside Walmart ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

In December, I planned on taking a swimming lessons class with my brother to finally learn how to do the freestyle stroke we never learned in the olden days of youth swimming lessons.

After the first of the year, our family planned to go on a quick family vacation, which included a fair amount of hiking and other active activities.

And now on to reality…

The lovely picture my husband recently received from his employer to commemorate his years of service reads: “You can make plans, but the Lord determines your steps ~ Proverbs 16:9.”

I was about to find out just how true that was.

During the week of November 25, I noticed some slight pain in my left ankle, but figured it would pass. I proceeded with my regular exercise program, which included some kickboxing, kettlebells (with squats), and some time on the exercise bike. Did I mention I love fitness?

On the morning of November 27, I was in for a surprise when I woke up and couldn’t walk. My ankle was swollen, disfigured, and painful.

After some time in Urgent Care, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon.

Fast forward to a diagnosis of “acute anterior ankle impingement,” a couple weeks on crutches, and many many hours of ongoing physical therapy. I wasn’t able to stand on my foot for more than a few minutes at a time and was given an unstylish boot to wear.

So much for plans – my plans. The power-walk/run relay, the donation of time standing and ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, and the family vacation would have to wait. (I was still able to somewhat take swimming lessons and that’s a quite humorous story I’ll share in another blog post).

014While my ankle still isn’t fully healed, I continue to make progress under the care of my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. I still limp and have some pain, but the crutches have been relegated to the furthermost corner of the closet and the unstylish boot is on its way there as well.

I look back to November and December and really wished I’d been able to do those things I’d planned. Was I disappointed? Yes, very much so.

But through it all, I learned something really important – something I knew, but couldn’t really digest until now. You see, I can make all the plans I want, but it’s the Lord who truly determines my steps (never more true than when you only have one good foot. 🙂

I learned to surrender everything to the Lord, not just the big things, but the day-to-day, minute-by-minute things, even things I planned to do for His kingdom.

So…how do you make your plans succeed? Give those plans to the Lord. Surrender the big plans, the small plans, and all the plans in between. He knows how it all turns out and Jeremiah 29:11 assures us ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We are told in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Untitled

So I commit my plans to the Lord because more than anything, I want my plans to align with His plans.

Have you ever had to surrender something particularly difficult to the Lord?

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times in life

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

There is no problem God can’t solve.
There is no promise God can’t keep.
There is no prayer God can’t answer.
There is no person God can’t save.  ~ author unknown

I have no idea who wrote the above quote, but it’s a truthful statement that applies to anything life throws at us:

There is no problem God can’t solve – The husband who just lost his job and has no idea how he’ll support his family.  God can solve the problem of unemployment.

There is no promise God can’t keep – The teen who’s all alone and depressed with nowhere to turn. When God says He’ll never leave her nor forsake her, is that a promise she can trust? His promises in His Word are trustworthy.

There is no prayer God can’t answer – The bad news of cancer – does God hear the prayer that’s being sent for courage to endure and healing of illness? He hears our every prayer.

There is no person God can’t save – The spiritually single woman who longs for her husband to know the saving grace of  Jesus Christ. No one is beyond God’s saving grace.

So what can we do when faced with the difficulties of life?

Here are some suggestions for getting through those particularly rough times.

1. Spend an abundant amount of time in prayer. I have found in my own life that the times when I’m going through difficulties are the times when I grow in my relationship with the Lord. I am reminded anew to surrender to Him, lean on Him, and put my hope in Him, in every situation.

IMG_000622. Draw upon God’s Word. During a particularly rough time in 2007, I drew great comfort from Psalm 91. To this day, it remains my favorite verse in the Bible. Here are some other verses to lean on during the troubles of life.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ Peter 5:7

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. ~ Psalm 55:22

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:29-31

3. Reach out to and rely on a friend, someone who’s faith is strong and someone who will be there for you for the duration of your situation. It’s true that you find out who your true friends are when you’re going through a difficult situation. That type of friend will be there for you through the good times…and the bad. 1094303_3_friends_5

4. Seek assistance from your pastor, one of the elders, or your Bible study leader. Many churches now have Biblical counselors who apply the Word of God to the hardships of life.

5. Ask for prayer support. One of the biggest blessings is our church’s prayer chain. Ask for prayer support from those you trust and who are committed to interceding for you.

6. Think of a way to bless someone else. The quote is true that states “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Sometimes life’s challenges seem overwhelming. You wonder if God is really there and if He truly cares about what you’re experiencing. He does care. Very much. And He loves you so much that He sent His own Son to die for you.

Don’t give up hope. Reach out to Jesus. Cry out to Him. Trust in Him. And depend on Him.

Sweet Friend, He loves you so much.