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In Family

Our Newest Family Member

I have never liked dogs. In fact, that’s putting it nicely. For most of my life, I have suffered with watery eyes, sneezing, and asthma attacks around most of them.

And then we watched our friend’s dog for the year while they were on furlough from their ministry in Bangkok.

And Bella made me fall in love.

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My allergies were not that bad with Bella, (keeping the house super clean helped, as did some occasional allergy meds and a few oils). And, although she was absolutely crazy, hyper and at times a bit annoying, she was so sweet that I could not help but move down the spectrum from hate to love.

When we left Bangkok, I cried saying good-bye to her.

Fast forward to Nashville. One thing Maya begged for moving back to the U.S.,  was a puppy. She wanted a dog, that we had trained and had from a young age. At first I said no. Repeatedly. But then realized that a puppy might be exactly what we needed to ease into this transition well. And seeing how quickly Bella became part of our family in Bangkok, I knew that long-term this would be a great thing for us. So, we began looking for a puppy a couple of weeks ago, and realized just how hard it can be to adopt a dog.  There are applications and references and fees and a whole bunch of people who seem just a bit too protective, or who just never call back. Add to that the fact that we had some specific requirements, and it ended up taking much longer than we thought. Who in the world knew that struggle would be so dang real?!?!?

But then we found her. The sweetest thing in the world. For real. I’m sure she would win a prize for cuteness because…

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This little lady came from a litter of feisty black and white pups. She is an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie Mix and was the only ginger in the crew-just like her momma. So, naturally, her foster family called her Scarlett. When we went to pick her up, she was sleeping with her siblings. Once she shook that sleep from her eyes, she rolled around wrestling with one of her brothers-handled herself quite nicely if you ask me- who was also being adopted. She fell asleep in Layla’s lap on the ride home, and has been soaking up every minute of attention that we all can’t wait to give her.

She made it her first night with no accidents, and is enjoying the explorations of her new home, and the wild outdoors, aka, our backyard.

We thought about what to name her and decided to go with Bella, who deserves a namesake for being the one that inspired it all. Don’t worry, I won’t name every dog we ever get Bella. I promise. One of my friends already vetoed that. And, if you want to get real official, her name is actually Bella-Scarlett. I mean, we live in the south, so figured a double name only made sense!

And me? No sneezing, no watery eyes, and no asthma attacks. Thankfully, my allergies have been great! Rest assured I will be vacuuming every night to be sure they stay that way. But if you know me, you know that I didn’t need a puppy to get me vacuuming. I love me some vacuumed carpet ya’ll!

We are so thankful to have this little lady home with us. She is the perfect fit for our family; calm with little spunk and totally sassy!

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Maya, Esteban, Bella Scarlett, Danielle, Layla

Promoting a Healthy Body Image for Your Teen Daughters

As believers, the easy way to view body image is through the lens of scripture. We know that God created each of us in His image. He delights in who we are, and is not concerned with our outward appearance. As we talk to our daughters about how they see themselves, this needs to be our starting point and foundation. However, there are several other ways we can promote a healthy body image among our girls, building on this framework.

How to Encourage a Positive Body Image for our Daughters

Don’t talk negatively about your own body.

Body image is something that girls create based on the things they see and hear around them. Media today gives our girls plenty of fodder regarding what they should look like. At school, their friends will have plenty to say about what everyone else looks like. Our girls are bombarded with all types of messages about what they should and should not be, in terms of their bodies. Which is why it is so important that they never hear those things from us. If we are talking about how big our thighs are, or how much we hate our nose, they are going to think that it is normal for people to feel bad about the way they look.  While this is a real struggle for me, I’ve seen my girls pick up on my negative patterns, and have been convicted about my role in perpetuating that cycle.

Talk about food as fuel, and exercise as something you get to do.

I try really hard not to talk about foods as either good or bad. Instead, I tell my girls about the foods that fuel us and the ones that don’t. I try to get them to connect what they eat to the things they want to accomplish throughout the day. If they have a long practice, or lots going on at school, they will need lots of fuel. So, they can have a few things that aren’t necessarily fuel, but they need to be sure to stock up on the things their bodies need to run well. In addition to that, I want them to look at exercise as a way to be strong so that they can better live their lives. I never want them to associate exercise with some kind of punishment for eating badly. Exercise is something they get to do because they are healthy and able. It is a gift God has given them, so they get to use it to honor Him as they strengthen their bodies to serve others well!

Be careful in how you describe other women.

When we describe other women as thin, pretty, in-shape, or overweight, we allow those markers to seep deeply into our daughter’s thinking. When outward appearance is the first descriptor we use to talk about someone, it slowly creeps into our girl’s minds as the most important thing. When I can, I really try to stay away from things like that. If I am being honest, I am terrible about this. But, I want my girls to continue to grow in character and grace, and I want them to at LEAST think those things are as important as their outward appearance. This is not easy, but is something I am really working towards as a girl mom!

Comment regularly on who your daughters are, not what they look like.

My husband and I both tell our girls they are beautiful, regularly. However, over the past couple of years, we have worked really hard on telling them the ways we see God working in them. We talk about the ways we see them growing in character and the ways God is using them in their context. We let them know how kind and gracious they are and try to keep the talk about their appearance to a minimum. We do want them to feel beautiful, because in God’s eyes, and in ours, they are. But, we are working really hard to create in them a hunger to be a person whose beauty radiates from within. A woman who is confident in Christ and able to live out of that identity is truly beautiful. We strive to communicate that to our daughters, every chance we get.

At each of these points, I have failed miserably, multiple times. But, as God grows me in my own pursuit of a healthy body image, He is helping me change the ways I communicate with my daughters. While the struggle for our girl’s body image is a tough one, God’s ability to heal and restore what the world taints, propels me in fighting for the hearts of our girls.

 

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Are you a busy woman juggling faith, work, home and family?

I am too.

Sometimes women like us can get so focused on helping others that we forget to take some time for ourselves. We don’t set aside time to spend with God, and  workouts fall to the wayside. I get it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have another minute in my day to spare. But, if we don’t take our spiritual and physical health seriously, we won’t be able to work, serve and love well. We will end up a hot mess of frustration and anxiety.

I hear ya’ sister…that struggle is real, and I feel it every day!

That’s why I am committed to helping women like you refocus their faith and get back in shape. Because when we are planted in God’s Word, and feeling healthy and confident, you can go out and do all of those things God calls us to do.

Sign up below and get my 3 Day Faith and Fitness Quick Start Guide for Busy Women. In it you will find 3 days of Bible study (looking at a different Psalm each day), and 3 quick, effective and simple workouts for you to do at home! This guide is totally FREE and will take you less than 30 minutes to go through each day!

 Sign up here, to snag yours!

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In Family

Our Girls are Watching

The other day, I was leading a small group of high school girls when I found myself heading into an area of discussion that I really don’t love. I told the girls (one of whom is my oldest daughter) that I hate talking about this stuff, but knew they had questions…so I was going to do it. Just, you know….be brave, bite the bullet, put my game face on and do it.

The next day my daughter told me that she was proud of me for doing something that I really didn’t want to do. She was proud of me for being brave. And while this might seem so obvious to some of you, I realized something in that moment…

My girls are learning how to face the world by watching me face the world. Click To Tweet

I teach them a lot of things. I talk to them about everything. I work during the day, and  start things on the side (R+F, blogging, personal training). I have women over to our home to do bible study, and to do life. I don’t always think about my girls when I am doing those things (Hush mom guilters out there…I hear ya’). I just do them because I love business, and new ideas, and trying things. I love people and discipleship and intelligent young women, growing in their faith and in their lives.

And my girls are watching…even when I don’t realize that they are watching. They make mention of my business podcasts, and ask for help in starting on their own ideas. They want to host and lead and encourage. They are learning things I am not actively teaching them.

Which got me thinking some more….

If they are getting all of those great things, then they are probably getting the not so great ones too. They are learning when I talk about how fat my legs look, how bad a picture is, and how much I want to change my teeth. They are watching me roll my eyes at another request and lose my cool for any number of ridiculous reasons.

My girls are watching and processing and beginning to take on the world the way that I do. This has me excited in some ways and terrified in others.

I am their example of a woman whose life is transformed by the gospel versus a woman who follows all of the rules.

I am their example of being a brave “trier” unafraid of failure.

I am their example of living with open hands, hosting and loving on others.

I am their example of submission to my husband and to God.

I am their example of patience, grace and mercy.

I am their example of someone who works hard, a woman who isn’t afraid to go out into the world and get things done.

I am their example of trusting God to provide, to lead and to strengthen me for what He calls me to.

There is God’s work of course…in their hearts and in mine. There is redemption and broken cycles and more grace than we would ever know to ask for. But there is also responsibility. And that is in my hands. I can talk a good game, but my girls are watching. They are getting all of the awesomeness and all of the crap…and everything in between. This is not new information to me, but it has never felt more personal, more real, or more urgent. Teenagers make you think about the end game, the adults that those once little ones will become.

Our girls are learning to face the world by watching how we face the world.

Which makes me want to be more:

Of a woman in God’s word

Of a woman who turns to God in prayer

Of a wife who loves and serves

Of a mom who is present

Of a friend who goes out of her way

Of an encourager and truth speaker

Of a go-getter who tries and works and lives with the right kind of sass

Of a disciple maker

Of a giver

And less of a:

self-centered

self-righteous

self focused

lazy

Netflix watching-scrub.. (Cue the TLC classic scrubs)

God is at work. I am responsible. They are watching. Click To Tweet

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In Family

A Quick Update

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Two posts in one week….what the?!?!? I am clearly on some kind of role!!! Also…the above picture has nothing to do with this post…I just thought it was pretty ;)

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I wanted to leave a quick update about ministry and faith and all that junk. And, let me assure you this is not going to be some perfectly eloquent exposition on life. It is just where we are as a family, and how you can pray for us.

Around this time every year, we have some decisions to make about what to do next. There are a couple of options right now, but at this moment, we aren’t 100% sure about anything yet. And ya’ll I hate that feeling. It is one I know well. And in the past, God has lead us so well, and so clearly. But I hate not knowing. I hate uncertainty. It makes my inner control freak come out in all kinds of crazy, less than healthy ways…which I am working!  For a while, it is exciting. The possibilities have my ENFP heart doing back flips. But then, I realize that endless possibilities with no definite direction actually kind of makes me crazy. And so, I am left to wait on God, who knows what is best for our family in light of the kingdom. So I pray. And I read Psalm 23 (like a million times). And then  I read Psalm 16, because I just need the reminder that the goodness of my portion is not connected to my circumstances, but to my relationship with the creator of the universe. And then I read John 15, because the vine and the branches, and the need to rest and abide while He grows fruit, is one I am never rid of.

You can pray for us. There are lots of good things in the future, we just need some wisdom. Also, the church plant here is going, but we could use your prayers there as well. We are a small team, in a HUGE city, that is diverse and unchurched. The light is desperately needed here. So, please pray for this city, for this church and for those we meet daily.

Also…there is still a lot to do in India and Sri Lanka (and maybe some other countries here in Asia). Esteban got back from Sri Lanka a few weeks ago, and another group is going to India at the end of this month. Funds are limited (for travel) so if you could, pray that we would be able to raise the extra we need for trips, to work with our partners in these countries. God has provided some extra each month, and for those of you who have given, we are so thankful! If you would like to join our team monthly or give a one time travel gift, you can do so here. Just be sure to note that the donation is for Esteban Cevallos!

So there ya’ have it….I’d love to be praying for you as well!

Feel free to send me a message via my contact page or share in the comments below!!

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What I Want My Daughter’s to Know About Being a Woman

Growing up in a pretty liberal environment, I had some thoughts on being a woman from pretty early on. Becoming a Christian in high school made me rethink some of those ideas, but perhaps pushed me to an extreme that was equally as unhealthy and unbiblical. When I think about the constant discussion that goes on about gender, and equality, and “backwards” Christian beliefs….there are some things I want my girls to know about being female. So, here goes.

What I want my daughters to know about being a woman

God created you as a female. On purpose.

It is not an accident that you are a girl. He has designed a very specific role for you as a woman, in His kingdom work. There is no shame in that. You are valuable and worthwhile to God, and to the work He is doing around the world.

Submission to your husband is not a negative thing.

God is clear in his Word that woman are supposed to submit to their husbands. I pray that you would choose a husband who does not take advantage of this. One who values your strengths, wisdom and insight. One who listens to you, and one who considers your thoughts and feelings, as you make decisions together. Submitting to your husband does not have to be a bad thing. And, submitting to your husband does not mean that you need to be submissive to every man. Submitting to your husband is ultimately about submitting to God as He leads your husband. It isn’t weakness, it is strength and grace. It isn’t easy, but there is security and safety in this design.

Male/female roles in the church are clear, but outside of that, there is no limit to what you can do.

I believe that the Bible speaks to the roles of men as elders and leaders in the church. However, I don’t believe that those lines are drawn anywhere else. If you want to be a CEO, a rockstar surgeon or a Supreme Court Justice, then go for it! Being a woman might mean that you need to work harder to become those things, but it does not exclude you from pursuing them.

Biblical Guidelines for church leadership does not equal women on the sidelines.

While I believe that God has set up some clear guidelines for men and women in the church, I do not believe that He has placed women on the sidelines. In fact, I believe the body desperately needs women teaching, leading and working alongside men in ministry. We see examples of this all throughout scripture. Just because you are a woman, doesn’t mean you are not absolutely critical to the work God has placed you right in the middle of. And please know, you are not relegated to serving punch or doing children’s ministry. Depending on your gifts and the needs of your local church and circle of accountability, God can use you in a gazillion different ways. Seek him about how, where and when.

Modesty is about more than just covering up, it’s an attitude.

I have seen plenty of women who are completely covered up, and yet they seem to be the opposite of modest. Living in another culture has taught me just how subjective “modesty” can be when it comes to clothing. Get dressed with love and consideration for your brothers in Christ. But, do not feel the weight and responsibility to keep them sinless and pure. That is on them. Consider what you are drawing attention to when you get dressed each morning. Think through the heart issues associated with the answer to that question. Ask God to begin working on those heart issues. Modesty is NOT about what you wear, but about the heart underneath your clothing.

A gentle spirit does not mean being quiet in the kitchen.

Gentleness flows from a spirit that is grounded in Christ. A spirit that is not striving to be noticed, loved or paid attention to. Gentleness is security, compassion and the truth spoken in love. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be a talker, or an extrovert. Gentleness is a willingness to encourage, support, pray for and lift others up, through your unique personality by God’s grace. All personalities are welcome to the gentleness party.

Strength and grace are not mutually exclusive.

Living with grace does not mean weakness. In fact, some of the most grace-filled women I know are the ones who exemplify strength the most. However their strength comes from a  complete reliance on God; the One who is ultimately strong. Grace is the outcome of that. Grace and strength are two sides of the same coin.

Being a wife and mother is not the be-all, end-all for womanhood.

Being a wife and mother might never happen for you. And if it doesn’t, that is okay. God will still use you, grow you and work through you. Because being a wife and/or mother, is only one piece of who you are. There is so much more to you as a person. And God is about using His people. Always. If God gives you a husband and children, then he will use you in that role. If he doesn’t, then he will use in different roles. There is no “higher calling”. All callings are God’s, all are important.

Don’t compete with other women.

Seriously. You will be tempted to do this at every turn. DON’T. Be a cheerleader for other women and their success. Being a woman comes with plenty of challenges, don’t be the girl who adds to that list of challenges. Be an advocate for other women. Don’t undermine them. Don’t judge them for parenting differently, or choosing a different lifestyle than yours. That only reveals your own insecurities and makes you look petty. Celebrate other women who are being used by God, who are working hard, and who are making an impact.

Don’t miss the point of Proverbs 31.

Proverbs 31 isn’t about being perfect. It is about a woman who fears the Lord in the healthiest of ways. It is about a woman who does not worry, because she is confident in her God. Proverbs 31 is about a woman who because she is grounded in the Lord, she is able to work inside and outside of her home, bringing honor to her family and to God, through a life lived with purpose, devoid of idleness. Don’t feel pressure when you read Proverbs 31, be inspired. Remember that you love and serve the same God found in Proverbs 31.

You don’t have to live your life driven by emotion.

We are emotional. That’s okay. Emotions aren’t bad things, but they also aren’t the best guides. Feel what comes, but don’t act on it. Bring those feelings to God, pray through them, think through them. Consult with Godly women and men in your life. Make decisions based on how God leads, despite your emotions. Don’t push your emotions away, but don’t let them run your life.

Chasing is for boys.

Don’t be that girl who professes her love to every guy she meets. If he likes you, he will tell you. If he hasn’t told you, then he isn’t ready. If he tells you he likes you, be honest, and gracious. Consider his feelings and how hard it must be to put himself out there. But, don’t pursue every guy who grabs your attention for a few minutes. If there is someone you are interested in, build a friendship. Get to know him, how he treats others, and what lies at the core of his character.  Trust that if God wants this relationship to grow, He will grow it. Let the guy be the first one to step out in vulnerability, but be kind and gentle when he does.

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There are lots of expectations on women today. Feminists want us to speak up and fight for our rights, ignoring the obvious differences between men and women. There are some in Christian circles who want women relegated to the home and quiet on the sidelines, which minimizes the role of women in the world. There is pressure to look a certain way everywhere you turn. Everyone has thoughts on how a woman should parent, work, and balance her many roles.

I want my girls to know that they were created beautifully, and purposefully by a God who delights in them. I want them to find confidence in that, and to walk with grace, strength and a sense of empowerment in the world. I want them to understand the goodness of God’s design in womanhood, and the joy that comes from being a helper. I want them to know the safety there is in submitting to God, and to a godly husband. I want them to dream, and work hard, and be a positive influence; in their homes, in their churches, in their communities and in the world. I want them to see womanhood as a gift, not a curse.

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