lessons in potty training


My two-year-old son teaches me life lessons each and every day. Especially now that it is potty training season.

The most valuable lesson that I am learning is gaining “patience through the frustration.”

And oh, what a time we are having these days.

With the many false alarms running back and forth to the bathroom each time ofrustration1.jpgur son alerts us that he has to “poopie in the potty,” only to realize that he often just wants to sit on the potty and read his Penguins Love Colors book, it should be no surprise that we have become frustrated with the lack of poopie production.

But as soon as frustration mounts to its fullest, we have a successful trip to the potty and the entire household erupts in songs (and sometimes dances) of celebration!

All false alarms are forgiven as we realize our son is more than worth it.

His potty training ordeal makes me imagine how frustrating my faults may be as a child of God and how truly patient God has been with me and my growth—spiritually and emotionally.

How many times have I given God the signal that I was ready to “go,” when in reality it was just a false alarm?

But I apatiencem encouraged by 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,

“Love is patient and kind…it does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things and endures all things…”

I grow confident in His love, knowing that He celebrates me when I not only make the right choices, but actually follow through with those choices.

Just as we celebrate when our son actually makes poopie happen.

All part of the training.


36 year old adolescent

At 36 years of age, I realize that I can still handle anger almost the same way I did when I was in high school.

Not very well.

There has been a little growth, but not enough to say I have conquered that area of my life.

I came to this realization when looking in the mirror at 5pm one evening, finding that I completed nothing substantial to better myself – or my family – all day. All because I was angry about a miscommunication that transpired between my husband and me earlier that morning.

Looking into the mirror transported me back to the overcrowded gym where I starred in high school basketball. I remembered how the only thing easier than the way I dominated those games was how an opponent could mentally take me out of my game just by taunting or upsetting me. Once I became offended, my sole purpose shifted from winning the game to settling the score—getting revenge on my offender. I took pride in this bad habit and poor sportsmanship, which shows my level of maturity back then.

Not much has changed.

Sure, I no longer wish to inflict physical harm on those who “cross me” today, however I still allow circumstances to throw me off course and lose focus on achieving my daily goals by shutting down emotionally.

Instead of payback and vindictiveness, my anger is manifested through silent treatments and spiteful tone. The behavior may be different but the heart is the same. Except my basketball team of twelve is now my family of three. My reactions do not help my family succeed and prosper. The team suffers.

Staring back at the grown woman in the mirror, I was stunned by the sudden awareness of my immaturity. I consider myself to be a pretty emotionally mature person, but if I allow hang-ups such as this one to fester—how mature can I really be?

Am I still that little girl on the basketball court with something to prove?

Not sure I know, but I have work to do…



We’ve all seen it from time to time. Traveling in our vehicles, we glance up in the distant sky and spot a kettle of vultures, circling. We immediately know that there must be something dead nearby, a foul carcass of some kind that attracted these birds that prey on the dead.vultures

Don’t you wish this alert system also worked in our personal lives? Can you imagine the pitfalls we could avoid in life if we had a similar warning sign, circling the rotting circumstances ahead signaling dead situations, people, places or things? We would immediately know not to invest in a relationship with that person, or take that particular job, or agree to join that ministry if we were aware of the vultures attached to it feeding off of its remains. Oh, the heartache and disappointment that could be avoided if only this was indeed reality.

But this truly can be our reality.

The wisdom that Jesus expressed in Matthew 7:15-20 lets us know that toxic people, places and things can be recognized by their “fruit,” thus creating an opportunity for detour. Verse 16  specifically states, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” If a person has a track record of causing death in everything that they do, then we should be cautious not to enter into relationship with them. If a person is full of negativity, we should use that as a sign to avoid that person.

The same holds true for toxic places and things. Be keen to your surroundings. Vultures are not drawn to life. This is one of the first clues that you are in the wrong place. We must utilize the spiritual discernment the Holy Spirit equips us with before entering new situations.

Let people’s actions prove what they speak. Let the Holy Spirit and common sense guide your decision-making.

Let history serve as our vultures.


And I gotta be more stubborn than this wall that I’m pushin’ at — convinced of the vision like ‘What are ya’ll lookin’ at?’


I recently saw a documentary about people with eating disorders.** What really stuck out to me was the way these people perceived themselves.  One person at a doctor’s office was asked to draw an outline of themselves using a magic marker on a life-size sheet of paper taped to a wall—the outline was supposed to be a reflection of their self-image.  Once this person sketched the outline, the attending physician then stood the patient up against the paper and drew a true-to-life outline with another color marker.  The results were amazing to see.  The origdistortioninal outline was completely inaccurate—pitifully thin and a total distortion of reality.  Until the person could step back and look at themselves, they could not understand how warped their worldview had become.

That documentary made me think of how distorted human beings’ ways of thinking can be.  Sometimes our own perception of truth is so distorted that we actually have to step out of the situation that we are in to realize the truth.  I hadn’t thought much about this idea until we began a teaching series on love that we have been learning for months in our church services.  The series made me reflect on the record-setting movie “The Passion of the Christ”, written and directed by Mel Gibson, who went through a very intense process trying to get the film approved.  Many people tried to prevent the movie’s release because it portrayed a particular group of people in a very negative light. In this case, one might argue, this group held a distorted view in the opposite way – thinking more highly of themselves than perhaps they ought (Romans 12:3). As a result there didn’t seem to be much positive interest in the movie, which didn’t make sense to me until I read an interesting online commentary. The commentary’s author basically made the point that the movie was embellished to depict Christ’s crucifixion as being driven by emotion rather than by commitment to a Divine mission to save humanity (Romans 8:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

The media knows that such an emotional sentiment is easier for humans to relate to because we are all emotional beings.  But sometimes emotion is what prevents us from loving people unconditionally, often because of the hurt we might feel from a painful emotional experience.  Ironically, The Passion left many viewers feeling deeply saddened about the horror involved in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—yet these feelings can make us forget the reasoning behind why this event was necessary.  In fact, it was not such a terrible event, but a glorious one.  Because of Christ’s crucifixion, all people can now be forgiven for all our sins against God.

The response to this movie gives us an idea of how distorted our ways of thinking can be.  We must seek to love unconditionally just as Jesus loves us—based on God’s enabling and not based on our own fickle emotions.  Jesus loves us so much that he sacrificed His life so we could have a chance to live eternally.  Yes, Jesus felt hurt and anger over the sinful condition of the world (Mark 3:5; 11:15-18), but not once did Jesus stop loving anyone because of His hurt.  Not once was His love distorted, which is one lesson that Jesus wants to teach us (Mark 12:30-31).  He used His own life to teach us how to live ours.  When we base our lives on feelings, our views of life become distorted and that is not the way God loves and cares for us.  When drawing an outline of our lives, nothing will ever be distorted from God’s view, only from ours.

**Note: This article is an update of the original version written in 2011.

secrets to success(FULL marriage)

I know the secret to a successful Christian marriage! “How do I know this?” you may ask. Well, I know because I’ve been married for 3 years. Yes – a whopping 3 years! That alone pretty much makes me an expert.

But seriously, all jokes aside, I believe the secret here is actually no secret at all. The strategy to succeed in marriage has been utilized for years and years by followers of Christ who dare to commit to the marital standards spelled out in Scripture. It is simply a matter of learning and applying.


I feel enriched when I attend an Excellent Wives Bible Study event hosted by Marriage Ministry Together, Inc., or get to sit in on a Love & Respect session, or even attend a Weekend to Remember® conference hosted by Focus on the Family. Sitting back and taking notes at these events, I learn and relearn winning tactics from people who’ve invested years of their lives in marriage. These folks put valuable time-honored information – often very personally – out in the open for all who are interested in gleaning from it.

Oftentimes, what I hear is not new to me. However, I’ve concluded that these reinforcements are not only valuable, but very necessary. Principles such as wives respecting their husbands and husbands loving their wives (Eph. 5:22-33); and accepting your spouse for who they are (Rom. 15:7), realizing that you are two different imperfect people. Gathering this knowledge from multiple reputable sources is definitely reassuring.

My husband often tells me not to reinvent the wheel – a concept that ringmarriage3s true particularly for maintaining a successful marriage under the guidance of Scripture. However, it is not enough to know this stuff. No, the key is to actually apply what you know to be good for your marriage. And that’s one of the many reasons it’s so important for me to be reminded of these principles on a daily basis. After 3 years (and counting), I can say that applying these biblical principles to my marriage has helped grow our relationship by leaps and bounds. We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we do have Christ and it will be perfected through Him.

marriage2John and I have been blessed to have marital support available to us from the Browns and many others. We also intentionally take time to participate in events that will build us up as a couple. And finally, sometimes after some tugging, we make a strong effort to apply what we are learning. And you know what? We actually witness positive change and growth in our marriage!

Now, if I can only get this SEX thing down…. 🙂 but that’s a different article.

do you know?

As part of my quest to grow as a spiritually mature Christian, I am currently reading a book titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Although I will not focus on that specific concept in this blog, the introduction of a chapter titled “Going Back in Order to go Forward[i] ties into a thought I have been meditating on lately. The chapter begins, “Emotionally healthy spirituality is about reality, not denial or illusion. It is about embracing God’s choice to birth us into a particular family, in a particular place, at a particular moment in history.”

This passage only reinforces my gratitude to God for birthing me into a family of believers. I am so thankful that from very early on in my life I have known about Jesus. That name was never foreign to me. I wasn’t introduced to Him by a friend at school, or by a distant relative, or by some history teacher; and I didn’t have to search far to find out about Him. My family consisted of weekly church-goers, and because of this upbringing I knjohn 17.3ew who Jesus was. And I am thankful.

However, as I got older, my knowledge of Christ would not suffice. I found this out when my father passed while I was in the 11th grade. It wasn’t enough for me to know of Christ, I had to know Christ—and there is a difference. Knowing Christ is established by gaining and developing a personal relationship with Him (John 17:3, 20-26). Just knowing about Him will not carry you through personal struggles and storms. Knowing about the God of my mother did not help when my mother passed. Knowing of the God of my grandmother did not relieve the lonely distress of my two-month stint in the hospital. Only through a personal relationship with Christ can I say that I made it through losing my only brother at the age of 35. Knowing of Christ would not have sustained me when life hit me and crushed me so deeply that I saw no hope for my future.

I am fortunate. I did not have to search high and low for my Savior. He has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I did not have to wander in the wilderness, jumping from one belief system to another, before I eventually came into the knowledge of Christ. I am eternally thankful for that. However I learned at a very early age that knowing about Jesus Christ—the God of my mother, father, sister, whomever—was not enough to sustain me through life. I learned that I needed to know God for myself. Developing a personal relationship with Him for myself was the only way I could be here today, sane and in my right mind.

Wouldn’t you like to know Him also?

knowing Jesus

[i] Scazzero, Peter. “Going Back in Order to Go Forward.” Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. Nashville, TN: Integrity, 2006. 86. Print.

forget about that last play

I am a basketball player at heart. I’ve played ball since I was a child and continued through high school. It was my first love and I have fond memories of playing still to this day. When I’m on the court, you hear strictly “swish.”


Skill, knowledge of the game, and athleticism all play a major role in basketball success—but I think the key aspect separating good players from great players is mental maturity. Mental maturity, to me, in any sport, is the ability to continue to play the game after you’ve committed a bad play. You must have the mentality to hustle back on defense after you’ve thrown the ball away. And your level of mental maturity can keep you on the court or land you on the bench.

One of my favorite movies, for obvious reason, is Love and Basketball. In one pivotal scene, Monica, the lead character, was battling for a starting position on her college team. Toward the end of a tight game, she threw the ball away with mere seconds left on the clock, which could have cost her team the victory. Instead, she hustled back on defense and ultimately won the game. Rather than succumb to her mistake, which was a huge one, she continued to play, and because of that she secured the starting position. Just as with sports, we need to have the mental maturity in our Christian walk to forget about our past sins. We must still forge forward knowing we have a less-than-perfect record.

Any failure I experienced as a star athlete usually stemmed from three things: lack of initiative, lack of confidence, and anger. (Yes, in addition to natural basketball talent and athleticism, I had a bad attitude.) Plagued with this mentality, I was prone to make a mistake on the court, which would saddle me with guilt. Remaining stuck on that last play, I would simply check out of the game mentally.

My spiritual life has been filled with the same pitfalls, which can have me benched here and there. When I’m not committed to studying, praying, or meditating on God’s word, I become spiritually bankrupt—which leads to sin—which leads to guilt. I get stuck in the snare of my past sins, making them bigger than God. I get stuck having lost confidence in God’s sovereignty. Then being angry, mostly with myself for the mess I have made, I get stuck there on that last play where I threw the ball away. And as I wallow in my self-pity, the other team scores, and I am rightly sidelined and left to watch the game from the bench.

But in order to win I must bounce back, realizing what Christ did on the cross for me, understanding that His promises are true, realizing that I have ALREADY been forgiven once I truly repent and turn away from that sin. No good coach in the world would punish a player that has the mental capability to bounce back from a mistake and learn how not to continue to make the same mistake again. So there is no reason to believe God would punish us for making a mistake in life, provided we learn from it, forget about it, and bounce back. Otherwise, we remain stagnant.

past sin

So please…forget about that last play.