Tag Archives: faith

31 days to a better marriage – Dealing with in-laws.

31 days to a better marriage, dealing with in-laws

Are you having trouble dealing with your in-laws? Are you frustrated that your husband seems to like them more than you? I want to help. I have been married for nearly 17 years, I have lived with my in-laws on two occasions, and very near them for several years. I know what it is like to be a young wife who live with or near her mother-in-law.

First, I want to say that I have great in-laws! My mother-in-law is a wonderful person and I enjoy spending time with her. I always have. But I did not always enjoy living with them. (my father-in-law passed away during the second year of our marriage.)


Two separate times, we lived in the same house as my husband’s parents. I was 20 and 21 when we lived with them. I was learning to be a wife and mother, and I was very young and inexperienced! I thought I knew ‘way more than I actually did, and to make it worse, I was very loud and opinionated. (sigh)

Anyway, my in-laws were very kind to me, because they were filled with Jesus. But still, I was very sensitive about my mothering, and I’m sorry to say that I did not always take advice well, and I didn’t pull my weight around the house. We lived in their house a couple months at a time.

Later, we built a small, 4-room house on my mother-in-law’s property. Our houses were only 100 yards apart – if that. By now, I had 2 kids and was expecting a  third. It was a recipe for disaster, relationally, but with Jesus in our midst we managed to live there 1.5 years and never have a fight or a real problem.

Here are my tips to have a healthy, vibrant relationship with your in-laws:

Remember that they are your husband’s family.

I don’t care how mean, manipulative, or nosy they are; they are the people who raised your husband. They are his parents and siblings – treat them with respect. Maybe even your husband doesn’t like them. Still, treat them with respect. They deserve respect for their position, if not for their character. We are only given ONE family. One true, blood-relation family. Don’t toss them aside or strain those family bonds just because you are ticked off. Work on relationships.

Humble yourself.

As a newcomer to the family, it is easy to feel like you have to carve out a spot for yourself. When your in-laws do things differently than you or your family did them, it’s easy to want to set them straight. You need to lay aside your family traditions when you are around your in-laws. “We never allowed football during Thanksgiving lunch!!

Sorry hun. That is your family tradition, not a moral issue. If your new family (and your husband) watches football during Thanksgiving lunch, then you must watch it too – happily, I might add! Try to learn the way they do things, and the stories behind them. Integrate. Figure out how this family works, and celebrate them! Remember; the Golden Rule still applies – treat them the way you want him to treat your family!

Take advice.

Your mother-in-law will see you differently than your mom does. If she has advice for you – take it! I have learned so much from my mother-in-law. She is a wise lady and –once I got over myself — I realized she had a lot of wisdom for me – because she knew my husband well!

Keep that in mind. Your mother-in-law loves your husband and knows him well. If you have a question about him, she is a better person to go to than your mom. In fact, I personally think that God gave us mother-in-laws to teach us how to be a good wife. After all, they have been married to this specific strain of men much longer than us! 😀

I know not all in-laws are as wise as mine, not as kind and gracious. But I believe most of them are well-intentioned, and a little humility on your part will do wonders to diffuse tension, and create peace. Maybe yours doesn’t always give you good advice. You can still listen respectfully, and thank her for the advice, even if you decide not to follow it.

Love them well.

Maybe they do intrude on your business – love them anyway. Maybe they are nosy and bossy-  love them anyway. Jesus never said to love your friends; He knew we’d have no problem with that. He told us to love our enemies. I think our ‘enemies’ are anyone we don’t get along with. If you find impossible in your own self to love them, then get on your knees and pray. Ask God to forgive you for being unloving, and to fill you with His love. If you are serious and genuine – He will!

You can’t say a quick prayer, get up and say: “See? I knew it wouldn’t work!” Pray daily. Pray with intention. Pray humbly… what if YOU are actually part of the problem?

Maybe you are the problem.

Hear me out. Can you say that you have never started a fight? Have you ever gotten ticked off at your in-laws, and then told your husband the whole sorry tale of woe? Did you make yourself sound pretty good, but them sound terrible? Because you knew you could influence the way he sees the situation? Ok, who is being manipulative now, hmm? I know there are truly difficult people out there, but I also know there are a lot of whiny, complaining, selfish young wives, too. I am going to call it like I see it: you need to stop stirring the pot!

“So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18

That is a clear command in Scripture, and I want to obey it. Sometimes you do all you can, and they still hate you. But especially in family situations; try really hard to keep peace!

If the in-laws are truly difficult, here is what I want you to do:

Stop complaining.
Stop talking bad about them to other people, including your husband.
Try to find something you DO like about them, and tell your husband, or better yet – tell your in-laws!
Examine your own life, see if you have been a bit of a jerk.
Pray for yourself first, and then for them.
Pray for wisdom for your man, as he has to deal with his wife AND his family. 😉

I am a huge advocate for restoring and repairing family relationships as much as possible. For one thing, God commands it. For another, we have lost so many family members, that I can’t take them for granted anymore. You never know how long they will be here. What if your mother-in-law died tomorrow? How would you feel?

That happened to me, you know. Not my mother-in-law, but my father-in-law. One day I received a phone call that he’d had a heart attack, and I had to tell  my husband that his dad was gone. Let me tell you, I was glad that we had a good relationship! I have no regrets, and I can’t wait to meet him again in the presence of Jesus. 

Today’s Challenge: Thank your mother-in-law for raising a good son. Text, call, in person or a real thank you card! 

Leave a comment and tell me: What is your biggest struggle with your in-laws? 

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 Days to a better marriage – dealing with kids.

31 days to a better marriage - kids

When you get married, you aren’t thinking of dealing with kids. At least, most of the time we aren’t! (there are exceptions, I understand) Usually we are in love with this handsome man – planning a life of fun and happiness. Somewhere in there, we jot down a space for ‘having a baby’, and that’s about it. We don’t plan for the colicky afternoons or the puking at night or the temper tantrums at Grandma’s house.

But they happen.


And while that stuff is bad enough, then you have to decide how to discipline, when to discipline, and what offense is worthy of discipline! That is what I want to write about today, because I feel it causes more stress than the actual ‘work’ that kids bring.

Differences in discipline.

Even if you agree on discipline methods, you may not agree on timing. I thought we agreed on discipline, but with our first child was young, I realized that I had very little idea what he thought about it. I always thought I was the tough one, but come to find out, I am actually a big pushover with the kids. Now not all the time, but most of the time, I am the softie. And I don’t say that as a compliment to myself, either! I get irritated at myself for being that way. I see kids that are totally out of control, and I tell myself: “Kay, this is why you have to say no!” Seriously, young mama: say no. Kids need to hear the word before they go to school.

Anyways, so when our first couple of kids tried out their naughtiness, we reacted differently. And I can tell you; it threw me for a loop. I assumed we’d agree on this, like we agreed on everything else. We never had any big fights, but we did disagree at times. (not every time) And I am ashamed to tell you – I did not react well. I tried to bully and nag him into seeing things my way. Thankfully,  my husband is not a puny pushover. We had discussions on the subject, and you know what? Nearly 100% of the time, I would see he was right and I was wrong. Not because he persuaded me, but because God gave Cliff  wisdom that He didn’t give me, about how to lead the family.

If your husband loves God, and is truly trying to follow His ways, you can trust him to make the right decisions. Even if he makes mistakes, you can trust him to lead you. You continue to respect your husband, and follow his leading. If you honor God, God will honor you. And if your husband desires to be a Godly father – God will honor that, too. Even if his methods are different than yours.

I made a resolution that I would always support him in front of the children, and if I had an issue, I would discuss it with him later, privately. I felt the kids needed to see Dad and Mom as a united front. Unfortunately there were a couple of times where I failed at this. But most of the time, I stuck to that.

But what if your husband is too strict or too harsh, or maybe not strict enough?
There is a solution to this.

You train the children to be decent little humans.

If you train them to obey, then they will listen when Dad tells them something, and he won’t have to discipline them. If he is lax and you are stricter – that is harder. But again, you train them, because you are with them most of the time while they are small. Then even if Dad allows them to get away with more when he is around – they will still be decent small humans.

What if he doesn’t discipline the kids?

You can’t just throw up your hands and say: “well, my husband won’t do it so why bother?” No, you have a responsibility to your children. If he isn’t training them, you will need to do it. Some husbands have gentle personalities, and have a hard time dealing with the conflict that  discipline brings – so you do it!

And please, whatever you do, don’t undermine your husband’s leadership. No matter what your disagreements are on child training, discuss it with him privately. Try to pick a good time, when you are both rested and not already upset with each other. If he doesn’t want to discuss it, just drop it. You are the one who spends the most time with them, so just step up and train your kids to be decent.

What if he is too lenient?

If your husband is more lenient than you, be thankful that he can balance you out! Go along with his ideas and enjoy the ride! You can be tougher on the kids when they are with you, but again; never undermine his authority.

Never talk ill of him to your children, or indeed, to anyone! Always speak respectfully of him to your kids, your mom, your girlfriends – everyone. Train your kids to respect their dad. Point out his amazing coolness and remind him of all the good things he does for you.

Today’s challenge: Ask yourself if you have been respecting your husband’s methods of child training. Have you been undermining him – especially in front of the kids? Be honest with yourself. Take a few minutes to just really think about how YOU relate to him in this area. Pray. Ask God how you can be a better support to him, and what you can do to help him raise decent small humans.

Note: Our kids are getting older, and we are past that hard stage of little kids who needs lots of training. And you know what? We agree nearly 100% of the time, nowadays. I am so thankful for a godly husband who leads our family with love and gentleness and wisdom.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – dealing with finances.

31 days to a better marriage - dealing with finances

Finances.

That dreaded subject! If you are wealthy, maybe this isn’t a problem, I don’t know. But for most folks, we have to learn how to deal with money as a couple. In fact, I have heard that finances are one of the top causes of divorce. Not the lack, as one might think, but the handling of it.

Often, there is a saver and a spender in the marriage. We are wired differently, so it’s no use going on about which is best. I personally don’t think it matters – what matters is how you work together.

Use your strengths.


My man doesn’t enjoy budgeting, paying pills, figuring out how to deal with all that stuff. But I do, sort of! Now, it’s not my favorite thing in the world, mind you, but I can do it. Plus, I have more time to deal with it since I am at home. So I do the paperwork and watch the budget, and he brings home the bacon! :)

This works pretty good for us. I’m not perfect at it – I have forgotten to pay bills, yikes! But it is what works for us. You may be the opposite. It doesn’t matter who takes care of bills and budget, but someone should! Work together to figure out where your strengths are.

Don’t spend more than you should.

I hear wives doing this all the time; buying things they can’t afford. Please stop this! It is just wrong. You are supposed to be a team, pulling together. It shows a dreadful lack of care and humility, when you constantly overspend! He works hard to provide for you, the least you can do is stay in your budget. Maybe you work and earn your own money. That’s fine, as long as you aren’t running up bills for him to pay, or not paying your share of the bills!

  1. Don’t buy if you have to use credit. Do you really need that new outfit or gadget? Be content with the things you have, Jesus says.
  2. Don’t whine about what you can’t afford. He knows when times are hard, it just makes him feel bad for not being able to give you that new car or house. Be thankful.
  3. DO try to lower bills when possible. Shop sales. Buy off the clearance rack. Just don’t buy as much. Give simple gifts. Try to save some money each pay period.
  4. DO be thankful and grateful for what he provides. Tell him. Be cheerful.When the calves don’t bring much, trust God and keep a sparkle in your eyes. Remind him that God will provide, and you can figure this out – together! 
  5. DO pray to God to provide your needs. Don’t complain to your girlfriends, don’t complain to anyone. Just take your needs to God.

To summarize:  Trust God to provide, work together on your budget, be thankful for what he provides, live within your means. Honor God in this area, and He will honor you.

Today’s Challenge: Thank your man for working hard to provide for you. If you have been overspending, apologize and humbly ask him how you can be a better support with finances.

How is the challenges going for you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

You’re worth the effort.

Moving a bull through aspens.

Moving a bull through aspens.

A few days ago, my Cliff and I saddled our horses and drove to the back pasture. The plan was to ride through the cattle, checking for sickness, etc. Maybe that would take an hour or so, then move some mineral tubs and go home by noon.

As you ranch wives know – things rarely go as expected! As we were driving there – we passed a bunch of pairs that were happily grazing in the neighbors’ pasture! Oh boy. That means a gate open or fence down, somewhere.

We drove up to the property line and parked. Backed our horses out of the trailer and mounted up. Sure enough, there was a big section of really trashy fence. The cows had just walked over it, and they’d scattered across the neighbors’ pasture.moving pairs


We gathered a few pair that were near the gate, pushed them through, and then called our daughter to come help. She brought extra fencing supplies with the ATV, so Cliff could fix the fence. While he was working on the holes, Jenni used his horse to help me start gathering the strays. They had drifted down the hill, so of course we had to push them uphill to get them back to where they were supposed to be.

We spent all morning gathering strays, and then went home for a quick lunch. Afterwards, we went back with another horse, and all three of us worked at bringing them all back. We went up and down that hill three times, then worked on cleaning out the aspen groves, and then we tried pushing them further back into the home pasture, so they wouldn’t mash the fence down till we had a chance to fix it better.

cattle drive in wyomingThis all sounds very straightforward, but as you ranch women know – it was anything but straightforward! The easiest way to move cattle is to drive them along a fence. But, if you push calves too hard, they pop right under or through the fence! Cows will go through too, but calves are really problematic.
If you are moving cow/calf pairs, they tend to get separated. The mamas are calling for their calves, or trying to turn around and go back. Calves are poky – they get tired sooner, and they just stop moving. Soon you have a bunch of calves at the back that you have to really work to keep moving. And, there is always that one high-headed cow that tries to run everywhere except where she is supposed to! We take it easy and quiet, but sometimes they just don’t move well.

You're worth the effortAs I was riding along behind those cows, I had to think about how many times I have strayed from God. I think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, so I push through the fence to get to it. And when God tries to herd me back, I resist. I try to turn back, I bawl, I poke along, and even try to jump back through the fence!

But God doesn’t give up.

We spent 7 hours on horseback, gathering all those strays. I would have spent longer if necessary. Those cows are our bread and butter, and we do what it takes to keep them healthy and safe. (we also try to be good neighbors!) So yes, we spend whatever time it takes. That wreck* happened on a Saturday… on Monday we were back out, gathering and moving a few more pairs. We would have went out as many times as needed till they were all in the correct pasture.

So it is with God. He will not stop. He doesn’t give up on us. He will continue putting a little pressure on us, till we come home. If we go through the fence again – He will come after us again. More pressure from the flanks, more guidance. He makes the way home the easiest thing. That gate is the only place where the pressure eases.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

We have a tendency to wander off, out of His will, off the path of Life.
We allow some small grievances to grow in our heart,
we want ‘just a little bit of my own way’,
we begin to love money or
we get a bit proud of who we are,
what we have accomplished, and so on.

Each wandering begins small. A small hole in the fence, so to speak. But that hole gets bigger – and sometimes we even take our friends along. So, God send His cowboys to gather us back home. His Spirit works through pastors, friends, spouses, the Bible — God wants to bring us home.  He will not tire of the job. And those who love God and His family will not tire of it, either.

Have you been straying from God? Do you feel His pressure to come back home? He won’t stop. He never tires and never sleeps. He will arrange your life to keep you headed back to the gate. You can try to run off, like a high-headed cow, but He is faster than you! Of course He won’t force you, He gives us free choice. But He will make the gate the best place to be.

You are worth His time, and you are worth my time. You are worth a place at the table.

Come on home, my friend.

Kite branding

If you need a listening ear, please feel free to message me.

*when things go wrong on a ranch, we call it a wreck. Whether it means a bunch of cows got out, a horse that bucked someone off, an accident, or whatever.

Water is for walking on.

water is for walking on

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:28-33

The ‘water’ in our life can take many forms. Health problems, financial difficulties, marital tension, relational problems, family issues… the list goes on.


Peter recognized Jesus in the midst of his storm. He saw Jesus, and he wanted Jesus! Notice Peter didn’t ask Jesus to quiet the storm. He just said “command me to come to You.” Peter wanted to be with Jesus.

What an example! He didn’t care about the storm, he wanted to be in the presence of Jesus more than he wanted the storm to be still. I want to be like that – to look UP. To look above the storms and wild waves of my life, and see Jesus – walking on top of the water.

Have you seen Jesus in your storm? Have you asked, with your small faith, to come to Him? He offers the same power to us, that He did to Peter.

“Come!” Jesus command rings out with power you can grab on to. Grab hold, my friend! He will not let you drown. But don’t take your eyes off Him – even for a second. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and you will walk above the waves of your stormy sea. Water is for walking on, after all!

I often identify with the impulsive, passionate personality of Peter. He would shoot off at the mouth, get angry, even lie. Then – almost immediately – he would be remorseful, repentant, and fall at Jesus’ feet in love and adoration. I know that feeling. Oh, how often I get in trouble with my impulsive, passionate nature! Yet Jesus is always there to rebuke, instruct, and love. He keeps tenderly, lovingly, gently drawing me to Himself.

Even though Peter was not the model disciple (as we would think), he was the only one who walked on the water with Jesus. He failed miserably many times; in anger he cut off the soldier’s ear, in fear he denied knew Jesus, in despair went back to his nets when Jesus was crucified. Yet Jesus saw his faith, small though it was. Jesus still loved him and gave him power. Peter was the one to whom Jesus said “Come!”

We may not look put together, we may be messy and have a lot of work to do yet. But if we love Jesus deeply and passionately, and have faith – we too, can walk on the waves.

Let’s lift our eyes above the stormy waves, and cry out to our Lord to save us. To help us. To give us wisdom. He will, you know.

Water is for walking on, after all.

 

We Said Yes to Foster Care.

Foster care

Yes to sippy cups and stinky diapers.
Yes to interruptions and hours of rocking.
Yes to car seat struggles and bedtime tears.
Yes to sticky hands and food in hair.
Yes to higher cost of food and not fitting in the truck.
Yes to court hearings, worker meetings, and awkward parent meetings.
Yes to doctor appointments, WIC appointments, and not being able to use a sitter.
We said yes to foster care.

Yes to chubby hands clasped tightly around mine.
Yes to first shy kisses and tentative hugs.
Yes to beautiful smiles and gorgeous eyes.
Yes to another daughter or another son.
Yes to laughter and giggles and someone who adores you.
Yes to extra love and extra snuggles.
Yes to praying another soul – another family – towards the kingdom of God.
Yes to someone to dance with.
Yes to tight neck-hugs.
Yes to showing this wonderful world to another innocent soul.
Yes to God’s way of bringing us more fully into His likeness.
We said yes to foster care.


foster care
NOTE: Foster care is not glamorous. It does not mean we are special or extraordinary. But, by the grace of God we have been given this opportunity to share His lavish love, and His lavish gifts. I struggle at times with giving of myself. I am basically selfish. God has been using this avenue to break me and teach me. Like Jason Johnson says: “We don’t strut into their stories with a cape on our back; we crawl in with a cross on our back.” – Jason Johnson Blog

My Journey of Faith, part 8 – the end.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26

My Journey of Faith part 8 the end

In my last Journey of Faith post, I told you how I overcame discouragement and loneliness. And how we found out that my husband would lose his job in a few weeks…


It was early January, cold and snowy. We were living in an old, drafty farmhouse that was hard to heat. (we had moved from the trailer house into a farmhouse in the country, in October) We put a blanket over the staircase, moved the kids’ beds downstairs, and heated only the living room and kitchen. Propane was costing us 450.00 every 4-5 weeks to heat our house – it was eating up our small budget too fast. I remember at one point wondering how we were going to survive the winter without begging for money!

But I learned once again that God never fails His children! He is always faithful to supply our needs. We trusted Him, Cliff worked hard, I tried to be as thrifty as I could, and we always had food to eat. One time a man came to church – just a visitor – and after church he took Cliff out to his vehicle and gave us bags and boxes of food. Produce, mostly, and some dried beans. All from his garden! He said he had ‘way too much garden veggies, and wanted to bless someone with it! As far as I know, he never came back to church – I am certain he was an angel. :) We ate squash, potatoes, carrots, beans, and many other good vegetables for weeks. Sometimes there would be an envelope in our mailbox with a little cash in it. I wish I knew who felt prompted by God to give – we never asked for money or talked about our finances. I would like to thank those dear saints for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their lives!

Well, back to the lay-off… When we heard that we’d be out of a job in a couple weeks, we honestly were stumped. What does a person do who gets laid off in the middle of winter with literally no savings, no college degree, no nothing?!

We prayed.

God answered our prayers in a powerful, amazing way!

My sister and her husband used to work on a ranch near Cheyenne, WY, and we used to visit them there. Through them, we learned to know a young man who ran cattle on a couple ranches in WY. Well, when we were considering what to do for a job, Cliff remembered that young man, and decided to call him up.

When Cliff asked him if he had any job openings, the man answered: “Yes, I just leased a new ranch this month and need a another guy to help run it. You can start next week.”

We were blown away! God had lined up the perfect job for us at the exact time we needed it. I tell you, friends, God does things like this all the time. We aren’t special or anything. But I have trained myself to see God’s hand in everything. You can do that too. Write it down. Or tell someone. Don’t say: “Well that was pretty neat!” and forget about it. Notice when God works a miracle for you. Praise Him! Thank Him!

 “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matt. 6:8S

So on Monday morning, Cliff packed a sleeping bag and a suitcase and drove up to Wyoming to start his new job. I stayed in CO and started packing. I packed up all our belongings as best I could between caring for three little ones. (the kids were 1, 3 and 5) On Saturday, Cliff came home and we loaded most of our belongings into our trusty pink horse-trailer and headed north.

On Monday, I took the kids and drove down with the truck and trailer for the final load. My sister came along to help, since she was visiting for awhile. She helped me clean the house and pack up the remaining things.

Ranch life was good. Cliff enjoyed the work, the salary was better than we had ever enjoyed before, (that’s not saying much, but while you won’t get rich on a ranch, at least you have a house!) and we all loved the wide open spaces of Wyoming!

Three short months after we moved to Wyoming, our faith was tested in a very different and difficult manner. Our youngest child, Andy, was playing near the irrigation canal and drowned. It was by far the most trying circumstance we had to face. But as always, God brought us through that, too. I am thankful for the grace of God that is give in every situation. I did struggle quite a bit with guilt over Andy’s death. Then I had to learn to graciously respond to people’s ignorant but well-meaning comments. Each part of the trial forced me to lean on God more, and dig deeper in His Word and His wisdom.

If you want to read the story of Andy, you can find it here. Andy

That was ten years ago. We have been living in Wyoming and working on ranches and we still like Wyoming! :) It is our favorite state, despite the brutal winters and mosquito-laden summers.  We  lived on that first ranch (the X-Bar) for 4.5 years, then moved to a ranch north of Cheyenne for 5 years, and currently we are on a ranch in the mountains west of Laramie.

Our children are blessed to grow up in this wonderful ranching community, learning to rope and ride and care for animals. Cliff still enjoys ranching, he also owns a small leather business on the side where he makes saddles, chaps, and other gear for working cowboys.

After our son died, I started reading about foster care, and slowly my heart was drawn to the amazing work of being a safe place for kids who are removed from their homes. After 5 years of my reading and dreaming, we were licensed as a foster home, and received our first placement in May, 2015. Foster care was never Cliff’s dream, but he supported my dream. After 7 kids coming through our home, I can say the honeymoon period is over, haha! but I still have an incredible burden for these kids and this work. Even when it is the hardest, I am reminded how precious each child is to our God, how much He cares about them.

Our life looks so much different than I ever thought it would, but God’s plans are always best. So many things He said “No” to, and that was best. Then He said “Yes” to many wonderful things that I could never have dreamed of! I am learning to take each experience from His hand of love, and be thankful.

If this series has blessed or encouraged you in any way, I would love if you leave a comment and tell me why! :) Thank you to all who have replied to my stories and encouraged me to write it.

If you missed a post, you can find them here:
My Journey of Faith part 1

My Journey of Faith part 2

My Journey of Faith part 3

My Journey of Faith part 4

My Journey of Faith part 5

My Journey of Faith part 6

My Journey of Faith part 7

Book Launch Week!

baby handsFor the past several years, I have been writing little encouragements for Christian moms, and sharing them on my personal social media. I have had some requests from my friends to put them all in one place for them to access and share.

So, in honor of World Book Day, I am releasing my brand-new book on Amazon this week! You can buy the print version for 6.99 right here:


If you prefer the ebook version, you can buy that as well. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free! If not, you can buy the Kindle version for 0.99 this week only! Next week the price will go up a bit. This is launch week special!
You can buy the Kindle version here:

There are 31 short devotionals, each with a corresponding Bible verse to meditate on during the day. This little book is written specifically to moms with small children – in the thick of mothering. mother and baby

I know how difficult it can be to care for babies and toddlers, how never-ending it can seem! The sleepless nights, the crunchy floors, the squabbling amongst siblings. There’s never enough ‘mom’ to reach around, and by the time you get to eat your food is cold.

It’s no joke! But then, the rewards are great, too. The wet kisses, the endless supply of dandelions, the first “Mama”! The moments when they are sleeping so peacefully and you just know you have the most beautiful, precious child in the whole wide world!

I have cared for 8 babies over the years, 5 of my own and 3 foster babies. These meditations came from my own musings, as I face various battles in my mind; battles against Self and sin. I find that there is layer after layer of selfishness, laziness, and pride in my heart.

I hope you are blessed by this little work of love, and may God encourages your heart through these pages.

sunrise

5 Reasons Ranch Folks Skip Church.

Country Church

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24


When one lives in far-flung places, it is very easy to skip out on Sunday meetin’s. The reasons are valid, or at least understandable. There are pressures and responsibilities that people who work 9-5 just don’t understand. Agriculture has unique challenges that make getting away difficult.


First, it’s too far. Well yes, it is. You may need to spend  lots of time and money to drive to a church. You may not be able to sleep in Sunday morning; you may need to get up while all your city buddies are still snoozing. This can seem like too much to ask, but we all know how early we rise, and how far we drive to a branding or a great bull sale, am I right?!

Secondly, we always have something urgent to do. This one is my personal enemy. I have heard this excuse (not from my husband) and I dislike it. Yes, there will always be something to do. There always is, when you live on a ranch. There are 101 things that need our attention, preferably yesterday. But you gotta choose, okay? That ditch can be dug on Monday, that bunch can be moved later. (unless they’re in the neighbor’s pasture – then get it done now!) Trust me, most of the pressing stuff can wait. It’s a mindset.
Trigger warning: what I am gonna say next may make you upset!
We love our life and we’re happy to sacrifice everything for the ranch. But that’s not so healthy, really. We need to have friends and interests that include things off the ranch. This is one reason so many kids are running away from the ranch when they turn 18. They want nothing to do with our obsession. I can’t blame ’em. bull in a bale feeder

Third, we do try, but then get stuck. This one can be comical, like the time we were headed to church one Sunday morning and noticed one of our bulls standing inside a round-bale feeder! We tried to tip it up, but that bull wasn’t standing around to allow that! He hightailed it up the hill, feeder bouncing along!
I could tell more stories of how we’ve been held up last-minute from church or other plans. It seems the ranch knows when you want to leave. It finds all sorts of weird delays to throw at you. You have to be careful what you allow. It will suck you back into the craziness if you let it. :) Before you go saddle up or start the tractor – stop! Think; is it a matter of life or death for livestock? If not, it can probably wait a few hours.

Fourth, there’s mostly hypocrites in church anyway.  Sadly, there are many hypocrites in church. Churches also often have some gossips, cliques, power-grabbers, and lazy back-seat warmers, too. Which one are you? Are you on fire for God, willing to serve your brothers and sisters in the church? Or are you just wanting to get your blessing for the week and go home? The problem starts with us. How often am I a hypocrite? Have I ever said “I’m praying for you!” but forgotten to actually pray? Hypocrite.
Have I ever acted or talked like my marriage was great, but we actually argued on the way to church? Hypocrite.
Have I pretended to be a faithful reader of God’s Word, but actually only read the verse of the day? Hypocrite.
Sadly, the church does seem to bring that out in us, I don’t know why. But the fact is, there are hypocrites everywhere, so don’t blame your staying home on that. Yes, Christians should live higher lives than celebrities or actors or sports people. They should. But they often don’t. Because the church is US, folks. Just ordinary people like me and you.  And if I am a hypocrite – even once, then others can blame it on the church. If you are a ever, ever a hypocrite – even once – then someone may be using you as their excuse.Wildflowers in wyoming

Lastly, I can worship God here on the ranch, surrounded by His nature. This one sounds so good. Anyone who has watched the sunrise over the hills, or walked though a fresh-cut hay field, or stopped to listen to the call of a bird on a warm summer evening knows the sense of awe that comes over you.
But friends, that isn’t church. Yes, Jesus preached on a hillside. When you have a crowd of 5,000 following you, feel free to have church on the hillside.
Church is about fellowship with other local believers. Encouraging one another in the faith. Speaking truth from different view points, so you stay balanced. Support in difficult times, and praise together in the good.
You just can’t get that alone. You can learn many things from God while you are alone on the ranch. Many lessons in nature, many neat truths from Scripture. But those cows aren’t gonna ask you how your week has been. The pony isn’t going to say: “Hey, let’s pray about that thing in your life.” The dog, much as he loves you, is never going to say “Come over and eat tacos with us tonight.”
There are so many blessings you can get from being a regular, committed part of a church. I know – many churches aren’t functioning correctly. In the effort to not step on toes, they have made everything bland and generic and unhelpful. But go anyways. Ask God to lead you to a place where you can go and find fellowship. Even if it is 1-2 other people in your home, who also  love the Lord and have a vision to grow His kingdom.
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matt. 18:20
We need other faithful Christian friends to keep us sharp.Denver skyline

Bonus: we have nothing in common with those city folk. Well, Jesus came from Heaven, and yet He found a way to fellowship with us earthlings! So… I guess we can manage to get outside our little world and find fellowship with people who live in the concrete jungle! :) Seriously though, it is great to be with other ranch folk. But don’t pick a church by the clothes the pastor wears. Find one that sticks close to truth. Cowboy church is great – IF it’s great. But slapping a hat on your head does not mean your theology is sound. Be wise.

You may feel like it isn’t worth the effort, but I can tell you  that if you find other like-minded Christians to fellowship with on a regular basis, you will grow. You will be encouraged. It will be worth every commitment and sacrifice. Give your best to God, and He will bless you spiritually.

What are some obstacles you face, that make it difficult to make to church?

My Journey of Faith, part 7.

My Journey of Faith-7We had been living in Pueblo, CO for about 8 months when we heard about a church that might be a good fit. My husband and I believe strongly that a disciple of Jesus needs to have regular fellowship with other like-minded believers. Commitment to a local church is something we take seriously.  We want to be a part of a church family – somewhere we can be accountable to other believers in a closer way than we are with random christians we meet occasionally. We don’t want to be seat-warmers, slipping in and out quietly without anyone really knowing us.

Jesus preached to multitudes; but He had the 12 that He interacted with on a deeper level, teaching, sharing food, traveling.  It seems that in following His example, one should try pretty hard to find and integrate with a local church. We need community, people to do life with, people who have the same vision and goals in their walk with God. Not perfectly alike, mind you, but similar.

Well, we hadn’t found a church fellowship that really spoke life to us in Pueblo – so we were cautiously willing to check out a church in Northern CO. This was a church that we had visited years earlier, but we didn’t know much about it. We knew a couple people there, but again – mostly strangers. So, one bright Sunday morning, I woke the kids early, and dressed them for church, and we piled in our minivan and headed north.


After not being part of a church for over a year, it was like water on dry ground to listen to that sermon! The pastor’s words poured life and truth and love. My eyes filled with tears; I can still remember that morning. We fellowshipped with the church folk afterwards, at their potluck lunch. We talked about how much we enjoyed it on our long drive back home.

We visited again soon, and after the second visit, we knew. Well, actually, after the first visit I knew that we were supposed to move there. But the second visit was a definite confirmation. But we didn’t have any extra money to take off work and drive up to look for work or housing. We weren’t sure what to do. But then one of the men from the church (he was one of the pastors) called us and told us he found Cliff a job in construction, and he found us a house! ( he’d negotiated a 6 month lease for us, if we were interested.)

Well, with that kind of support, what could we say but yes?! The pastor paid the down-payment on the house for us, and set up  the job. He also gathered church folk to be there to help us unload furniture when we moved, and brought us food. This was not a wealthy man, by the way. Just an ordinary, hard-working man with 7 kids of his own. He never said much, but his life spoke more to me than most pastors I have listened to in my life.

We moved to Weld County, CO in March, 2006. It was good to be a part of a church where the sermons gave life, the fellowship was sweet.

But we were still broke. I think Cliff made 13 or 14 dollars an hour, building houses. He is a good carpenter, but he doesn’t really enjoy it. After nearly a year on a ranch, it was even less appealing. But he didn’t complain – just worked hard for our family. I stayed home and did a little custom sewing, stretched our money as best I could. I did struggle with loneliness, because we lived 45 minutes from the church and from most of our friends. I didn’t know people very well yet, and we didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on gas to drive around.

But, God taught me one of my most treasured lessons while we lived in that trailer-house in Weld County. A few months after we moved, I started feeling unwell. Nothing I could put my finger on,  just tired, sometimes nauseous, aches and pains. I worried and fretted about it. I knew it must be diabetes or cancer or something! I googled it, worried some more, and finally had a breakthrough:  God showed me that it was because I was lonely, discontent,  and verging on depression. Between finances, having three small children, a new church, a new community… I wasn’t handling it all very well. I was stewing and worrying and nervous, instead of trusting in God. I don’t even know when or how it dawned on me, but at some point I realized it was not a health issue at all but merely my body mirroring what was going on in my head.

I had basically made myself sick from discontent and worry. I wanted a house in the country… I didn’t want to have money troubles… I missed my sister…  I felt out-of-place at this new church… Bottom line: it was sin. It was like the parable of the Sower – some of the seed fell on good ground, but it was choked out by the cares and troubles of this world. (Matthew 13) I truly wanted to be a disciple of Jesus, but I allowed circumstances to cloud my vision, hiding the sunshine of God’s glory. When plants grow with little sun, they get sickly and weak. And so do people.Focus on Christ, and let the stuff of his world fade out a little.

I came to realize that my happiness could not depend on external circumstances, but had to come from within. I had to focus on Christ, and let the stuff of this world fade out a little. I realized that you can actually become physically ill from worry and discontent. I can’t tell you five steps to victory – it was subtle changes. It was waking up and forcing myself to get up and read the Word of God and praise Him. It was refusing to allow my thoughts to dwell on myself, but to start looking out and up. Out at others who I could bless, and up to God who was and is always worthy of praise and honor!! In a few weeks, I was happier and felt better than I ever had. I had no health problem! It felt like a miracle to me, and indeed – isn’t it always a miracle when God gets a hold of a person’s life and transforms them??!!

If you have slid off the path, fallen in a pit, or are choked up with the weeds of this old world – get up! Take courage! God is on your side! He wants you to be happy and fulfilled in Him. When your gaze is on Jesus, there is nothing in this world that can harm you or entice you. Discontent comes from taking our eyes off our precious Saviour. Start praising God. Look for ways to bless others in your life. Place every trial and problem in God’s hands. You probably can’t fix it anyways, so why hang onto it? :)

Anyways, we lived in Northern CO for nearly a year. Then one day in early January, Cliff’s boss told him that he didn’t have enough work for Cliff. He said that he would have to let Cliff go in two weeks.

Now what?!? We couldn’t afford to go very long without a job, but winter is slow in construction, and where would we find another job? The news was a bit of a shock, for sure.

To be continued…

If you missed a post, you can find them all here:
My Journey of Faith part 1

My Journey of Faith part 2

My Journey of Faith part 3

My Journey of Faith part 4

My Journey of Faith part 5

My Journey of Faith part 6