Giving up something you love

In 2012, Alivia discovered she loves volleyball. She tried out for VCN, a club volleyball team and made a team. And that’s where we saw her interest in the sport turn to her passion. It was her first team sport, besides a month playing on a YMCA team. Each year she’d try out again and she made a VCN team every year. She has worked hard over the last 4 years with intense practices 3 times a week and tournaments on the weekends. We have taken her to South Dakota, Kansas City, Chicago, Des Moines and many trips for tournaments to Omaha. Her summer was filled with camps and private lessons. Her room walls displaying her goals and Husker volleyball posters autographed by her favorite players.

November 2015, she made one of the college prep teams and this past June we followed #46 and her teammates to Orlando for Nationals. They went undefeated for 4 days then lost on the final day of the tournament, earning 5th place out of 172 teams from all across the United States with an 11-1 record. It was a great week of unforgettable memories made with her teammates.









So, you can understand how confused Gene and I were when she came to us this past spring and said, “I feel like God is asking me to lay down club volleyball to focus on Him.”

One would think Gene and I would’ve jumped for joy that not only is God steering her life, but that she would say yes to Him without hesitation and give up something she loves deeply to follow Him. But. We didn’t. We kept it spiritual though and told her we’d pray about it.

We live in a sports world that tells us that the way athletes get “discovered” by a college is to be playing for a club team and literally eat, drink and play that sport. So as a parent who didn’t want her to stop playing, I found myself trying to get her to doubt that she had really heard from God and despite my persuasive attempts, she remained steadfast in her life changing decision. If I’m honest, I was angry and sad that God would ask her to walk away from something that clearly brought her joy and that she was good at and that we loved watching her play.

Then my perspective changed completely one Wednesday night.

She had been asked by Bruce, the youth pastor, to share her decision in front of a few hundred kids and the youth sponsors in Wednesday night youth group. Her team practices Sunday mornings, and Monday and Wednesday nights so she had told her coach what she was doing and that she would be late to practice that night. As I sat in the church parking lot, I started to get mad again and when she got in the car, I let her know my frustrations of how she has a commitment to her team first. And that’s when she teared up and said with a trembling but determined tone in her voice something that hit me to the core and that I’ll never forget.

MOM!!! I need you to be on board with this! Do you think it’s easy for me to lay down something I love? I have cried at every tournament knowing I won’t be part of this next year, but I know without a doubt that this is what God wants me to do. This won’t be an empty exchange for me, but I know it will be worth it.”

She got out of the car and headed into practice as I sat in the car and bawled until my eyes were swollen. I kept apologizing to God. This won’t be an empty exchange. That statement Pastor Bruce shared with her when she told him about her “yes”, has helped her so much as she is already finding it to be true as she lays down a passionate part of her life.

Being in women’s ministry, if anyone walked up to me at a conference and shared how they were giving up something they loved for God, I’d be their biggest cheerleader, but when my own daughter came to me, I shamefully tried to lead her in a direction God never had planned for her. I’m so thankful she kept her focus on Christ and didn’t listen to her volleyball enthusiast of a mother.

She is still going to play in high school and last week she made us proud making the JV team so we are looking forward to watching her play this season. Since her decision, she has gotten involved in helping lead services for the junior high group in our church on Sunday mornings and she started a girls Bible study held at a park on Saturday mornings. She served in a week long mission project in July with our church that made her even more focused on God and she spoke at the parents night at the end of that week encouraging us parents to cheer our kids on in their walk with Christ. She has decided to make her school her mission field and on the first day of school during lunch in the cafeteria, she got up from the table she sat at with her friends and approached a girl sitting alone. Turns out this girl is a Christian and had just moved to town. Her mom had been praying she’d make friends and yesterday she joined Alivia and her friends at the park for Bible study. God. He is good and He is so faithful.

I am thankful for this now 15-year-old daughter of mine who has truly shown me how it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The yes we give our Savior is worth it in the small and big areas of our lives and if you are surrounded by people who try to get you to doubt what God has told you, do like Alivia did and stay focused on God no matter what.

I took this picture of this sail boat while on Daytona Beach with Alivia after Nationals were finished and it reminded me of her obedience to God.











I’m excited about what God is doing and is going to to do in her life and she has encouraged me immensely to lay down some things in my own life and follow Him.

Empty exchange? Not when it comes to saying yes to God.


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So prepared

Last Saturday morning, on June 27th, everything changed in our family. My mom’s little brother, Donnie left this earth after a very short battle with cancer.

Only 58-years-old, he had so much life to live…so we thought. It all went so fast. In March he was told there wasn’t anything more the doctors could do, and that he was probably looking at a few years. Then in a matter of weeks he was advised to go on hospice. Knocked the wind out of our entire family and took us to our knees asking begging God for a miracle.

In May I stayed a few weeks overnight with my uncle and his wife Tina and his family. That’s when I witnessed something so amazing.

My uncle knew he was dying and so he started doing all of these projects around their house. He wanted to make sure that Tina wouldn’t have to worry about fixing anything for the next 15 years.

He started preparing their house for her.


One night when I went over there, he was sitting at the table and was drawing in a notebook. When I asked what he was doing he said, “Well, in the winter we get 3 foot snow drifts on the side of the garage and I think if I build a fence it will deflect the snow so they don’t have to shovel.”

imageHe was always thinking of others, especially his wife. Yesterday, as I was looking at pictures and saw these, I thought of all Donnie had done to prepare their house for his wife and I thought of God.

In John 14:1-6 (NKJV), we are told that God prepares a place for us. For those who accept Jesus as their Savior, He has a place for us and we just have to believe in Him.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

I watched my uncle prepare. Prepare to be with Jesus. Prepare his house.

He never wanted to leave his beautiful wife, and his family, but he was prepared to meet his Maker because Donnie had no doubt where he was going. He knew he was going to heaven. He knew he didn’t have to work to get to heaven or try to earn points to make it through heaven’s gates. He had accepted the gift of salvation Jesus offers all of us for free and without a doubt Donnie knew and believed that Jesus Christ is THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.

I don’t know if you know Jesus as your personal Savior, but if you don’t I want to encourage you to click on this Do You Know Jesus button from my friends over at Proverbs 31 Ministries. 


Be prepared friend, because God has prepared a place for you.




Donnie’s favorite verse:

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.


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I will never pretend to relate, but I’ll listen and pray

So how will you handle it when you experience racism toward your children? the pastor asked me.

I wasn’t expecting that question as I sat in our pre-marital counseling session next to my husband-to-be and across from the pastor, both men of color.

I searched my mind for a quick answer and replied, “Well sir, we are going to teach our children that if they don’t get a job, it’s not because of their race, it’s because they aren’t qualified.”

He went on to explain that as a white mother of bi-racial children, we may experience prejudices against our family for the color of not my skin, but theirs. I showed the pastor the utmost respect as I listened to him, but inside I had shut him out and I got into the car with my future groom and a whole lot of attitude. I was upset he had predicted something such as racism in my children’s future. How dare he.

This Friday, June 26, marks 16 years of marriage for us and just a few weeks after the pre-marital counseling while on our honeymoon, the pastor’s words warnings of racism came true.


We spent a week walking around Chicago taking in all the sights. One of the first places we stopped at was a small Ma & Pa souvenir shop on Miracle Mile. I was looking for some postcards when Gene said, “Let’s go.” I started to tell him to wait until I found the perfect card to send to the kids, but he was insistent. “Let’s go. I’m being watched and followed.” I suggested maybe the guy was just looking for something, so he proved it by walking around the store. He was watched and followed, while I browsed without turning the shopkeepers head.

I remember walking outside empty-handed because I wasn’t about to hand over any of our money to them and all I could say was, “Wow.” I was so disgusted.

The last night of our honeymoon in Chi town we had a great night eating outdoors  on the Navy Pier listening to live jazz. The night was perfect. Then we headed back to the hotel. We were around the corner from the entrance to the hotel when this black man started yelling at my husband for being with a white woman. He was aggressive and Gene was trying to tell him to back off. He told me to go to the hotel and he stayed behind with the stranger.

I was fearful for him, but did as he told me to and thankfully only had to wait for a few minutes until he joined me. I couldn’t believe someone hated that we were together simply because of our skin color not matching. I was so naive.

Over the years, there have been things said to all 3 of my kids proving the other child saying it was being raised by racist ignorant parents and most recently my granddaughter who just finished 1st grade was told by a classmate, “if you’re black then no one wants to be your friend”.

Just a few years ago Gene was standing on the north bank of Holmes Lake with a pole cast in the water, waiting to catch a fish. He was at his fishing spot just 2 miles from our house when a car with two grown men pulled into the parking lot, yelled “Go home n_ _ _ _r!” and sped off.

When he got home he told me about it and how the white grandpa standing near him teaching his young grandson how to fish looked at Gene with sorrow in his eyes and an unspoken apology. I asked him what he did or if he yelled back at the men and he said, “No, I prayed for them.” It made me cry thinking that he had been called such a horrible name, but I admired my godly husband for taking those animals to the throne of grace and mercy.

Racism. It does exist, but it hadn’t in my world…until I got married.

The pastor was right in asking me that question 16 years ago.

He wasn’t trying to tell me to teach my kids the world is against them, but he was trying to warn me of those who refuse to change. Those that will drive by in a car and yell things at a someone enjoying their favorite hobby. Of the man in the street that would shout his hatred opinion that we got married. Of the shop owner who follows the black customer around and leaves the white one unattended. He was trying to warn me about the mean child that repeats what they have learned to another child during recess, the funnest part of a kids day.

It had nothing to do about teaching my kids the reason they didn’t get a job. It was about trying to prepare me for what was to come.

I was unprepared to answer the pastors question because I had never experienced racism. I had never seen it before. Now, 16 years later, I’ve seen it and I’ve seen the tears in the person ‘s eyes who it has happened to.

But this is the thing.

Not one time have I ever pretended to know what they went through or tried to convince them that racism doesn’t exist. I’ve never tried to downplay or dismiss their experiences. They are smart enough to know that all white people don’t hate them because the color of their sin, but they also know the truth that Satan-led ignorance is alive.

My husband and I have been together for 24 years and over the years, he has always thanked me for being myself. I am a white woman who has never tried to darken my skin or put a weave in my hair. I have never confessed to understanding the “black experience” like a woman recently said after she was exposed in national news of her life of lies. A life she thought she could claim because she is the mother of bi-racial children from her previous marriage to a black man. I have always just been who God created me to be. As Gene’s wife, I hurt for him, but I’ll never know what that felt to be called the N-word or to be followed around in Chicago. I can’t understand it and I won’t ever pretend to, but I can follow my husbands lead and pray. Pray for our country and the changes that need to happen for unity.

Recently I was at a retreat where my friend, Dr. Helen Fagan spoke. She said, “We grow the most when we are around people who are different from us, who aren’t like us.” I love the truth of that.

Back in 2012, I founded and started the annual Refresh my Heart women’s conference held every spring in Nebraska. After the 2015 conference two women commented to me that they love how multi-cultural the conference is. One lady asked me if it was something I did on purpose. My answer was that I just do what God leads me to and invite who He leads me to extend an invitation to speak or lead worship. I also shared that it is important to me that I didn’t run a conference that my daughters couldn’t see themselves at if they attended it. God knows that desire in my heart and I believe He has created this conference where women of all ages and from all backgrounds and cultures can join together under one roof to teach, to learn and to worship Him together. A place that racism isn’t welcomed. And for 2 days, it’s unified beauty in all colors worshipping one God.

I don’t know how to change people’s minds, but I know it starts within. My friend Deidra Riggs speaks openly on race and has taught me some beautiful things over the last few years like how it is a heart issue. One of my favorite things she says to do is sit at the table long enough to get to the other side of the issue.

Be around different.

Don’t pretend racism doesn’t exist.

Don’t get up from the table.

Be yourself.

And pray.

We all need Jesus.




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What did you say?

Last Wednesday, my sweet little granddaughter Juliana turned 6, but I promise you she’s 50. Every parent and grandparent has bragged at one point that their toddler is smart. I don’t know if I’ve ever called her smart as much as I’ve called her wise. She leaves me dumbfounded at the wisdom beyond her years that shoots out of her mouth. It’s weird.

So, the day before her birthday my husband Gene was at the kitchen table reading his Bible while the girls were in the living room watching tv. Out of the blue, Juliana interrupts Gene’s reading and said, Papa, We can’t live without our souls.

Gene turned toward her and asked What did you say? 

 He had heard her, but wanted to make sure he heard right.

Eyes fixed on the tv, she repeated herself, We can’t live without our souls.

He grabbed his pen and wrote her words down on the top of the page of sermon notes he was preparing to share with the inmates today.


When I got home, he couldn’t wait to share it with me. It moved my big guy to tears as he said, Lea, God speaks through little children. Do you hear me? He speaks through them. Through Juliana. Because what does she know about our souls? She doesn’t know that God tells us to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind.

She had continued to watch television. What she doesn’t know is how it made her Papa dive deeper into God’s Word. How it shook him up and made something in him want more of God. How it effected the message of hope he was preparing for men locked up in prison. She knows none of that, but God does and He used her little clueless self to speak into her Papa’s heart. And encourage him to keep loving God with all of his heart, soul and mind.

Back in October 2014, Juliana was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. She has endured much pain to the point that some days she can’t walk. She sees a specialist in Omaha at the Children’s Hospital and recently began receiving weekly shots at home. And through all of it, she says things that makes us adults, say What did you say? 

Even the doctor and nurses have said there is just something special about her.  

At 6-years-old, she doesn’t understand too much about this Jesus we seek, talk or sing about. She is at the age that whatever direction her Mom steers her in the area of beliefs and passion is where she’ll follow. When she sees her Papa on Sunday morning fill our house with Gospel music and praise and worship, she copies him. He raises his arms, her little limbs reaches for the sky.

But. Even in her lack of age, knowledge or relationship with Jesus He is getting to her. There are seeds being planted at home, at our house and at church and with Jesus that is enough.

I am excited about watching her grow up and be His girl. I’m excited to see how He uses this crippling, painful disease to use her to share of His greatness because that’s the kind of God we have. Our Heavenly Father lets NOTHING that happens to us go without testimony. Without opportunity to lead others to His throne of grace and mercy.

He sees our little about-to-be 1st grader and He is writing her story. I pray she lets Him continue to use her to minister to the young and the 50-year-old Grandpa’s. The impact He can have through and in her excites the heck out of me.

Cooperate with your Creator little girl and see what He does. Grandma loves you.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  

1  Timothy 4:12






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Our Father Watches Over Us

In April, our family took a vacation to Florida to visit my husband’s side of our family. Our oldest daughter Alyssa organized the trip and did such an outstanding job, that if she didn’t want to be a nurse, she could definitely be a travel agent.

Monday on the agenda was beach day and we drove an hour to feel some sand between our toes before hitting Disney World in the evening.


We had 4 little ones with us on this trip. Amiyah(7), Juliana(5) our granddaughters and my parents 2 youngest, Maddie(7) & Ella(5). This was the first time they saw the ocean and it was love at first sight for all of them. They screamed and giggled every time the water came rushing toward the shore. They jumped trying to clear the waves only to be splashed with salt water. They loved everything about it.


As I was standing in ankle-deep water not very far from them, I watched them playing in the Atlantic Ocean through my camera lens as I captured the memories in pictures and videos. That’s when I noticed an elderly man standing behind me, hovering over my shoulder. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I could feel his presence. His wife was standing on the sand watching us.

Feeling uneasy with how close he was to me, I started to call the girls’ names telling them to come to me. Then he spoke. You need to keep them close to you. The riptide will take them to places you don’t want them to go and you won’t be able to get to them.

I turned and thanked him and instantly had the girls come to me and I explained the danger of going out to far from the shore.

That Friday I flew to Pennsylvania to speak at the Winsome Retreat and God brought our ocean day to mind as the worship leader Missy sang the song Oceans.

Sometimes the waves of life are smooth and life is good. We’re laughing and splashing around enjoying life and we don’t pay attention to the direction we’re taking. We become relaxed in the choices we make and suddenly, we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be. A place where the water isn’t smooth and the waves crash into us and knock us down and we feel like we’re drowning in regret and shame.

Just like the man on the beach was doing to me, we have a Heavenly Father hovering over us ready to keep us safe. Ready for us to feel His presence. Ready to give us direction to help us live a life with no regrets.

That day on the beach the man didn’t care about invading my personal space. His focus was on how to protect the girls and keep them safe. He could tell I was a tourist unfamiliar with the dangerous power of the ocean that could change the girls’ course in a heartbeat. He shared his knowledge with me and warned me so I could leave the beach with no regrets.

God sends messages to us through the Holy Spirit, the Bible, pastors, friends and spouses to tell us which direction to go. Sometimes we feel uncomfortable like I did at first, but God is not concerned with our comfort. He’s concerned with the paths we take because He knows what is best for us.

It would’ve been easy for me to dismiss the man’s advice, but I didn’t take the chance. We need to listen to God’s direction and not try to do this thing called life on our own. His guidance is never to hurt us, but to protect us from things we can’t handle, to keep us safe from unseen dangers. To keep us from getting whisked away into the ocean of regret.


From the song “Oceans”…

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine



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Can I be honest?

The other day I posted this on Facebook and it struck a chord of agreement with many…


Man. This journey with God is something else. 

If you are a new believer let me be honest with you. Accepting the gift of salvation doesn’t mean you’ll skip through life under sunny skies and rainbows. Some seasons just suck and you’ll wonder if God even knows you exist.  

Other times you’ll think you just HAVE to be God’s favorite child because the blessings won’t stop flowing.  

 Friend, no matter what circumstance you face…don’t turn away from Him. 

Live hard for Him. 

He’s worth trusting, seeking and praising and you’ll never regret making Him your life. 

Recently, I spoke at the Winsome Retreat in Pennsylvania and one thing I shared was that between the years 2008-2013 it was one thing after the other that went wrong in our lives. Things we had no control over. Hard stuff…loss of job and my husband being put on disability, 4 major surgeries on the husband’s back, the birth of 2 grandbabies within 14 months to our teenage daughter and our son being sentenced to prison. We looked like a mess and asking for prayer sometimes was difficult because we felt like burdens. 

I recall a time as Gene and I were driving home from the surgeon’s office with the news of yet another surgery, a friend called to see what the doctor had to say. After telling her the news of another scheduled operation, she said, “You know, you guys have tried prayer and I get that is part of your faith, but I think it’s time you take things into your own hands.” As she was talking, gospel singer Marvin Sapp’s voice filled our car as he sang Praise You in Advance. I was able to share that we had done that before and it never worked out and how Gene and I had learned to praise God in advance despite our current circumstances. Her argument was that it wasn’t working out for us anyway. 

She had a good point. 

Life was hard and it put pressure on our marriage. 

It was a strain financially and frustrating to see my hard-working man go from working 2 jobs to collecting disability checks. 

Nobody came to us for parenting advice. 

And yet…we learned to praise. No matter what was before us, we chose praise over panic. Things didn’t smooth out, but in the roughest of days, God did things that only He could do. 

When we have asked God to heal Gene’s body, it has yet to happen. But in the midst of recovering from multiple surgeries, God gave him a text ministry. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday Gene began to text a verse out and still does to this day. What started out with just family and friends now reaches over 100 people and then some because many people tell him that they forward his messages. Grown men he used to play football with have come to know the Lord through this ministry. Two men have asked him for the same Bible he sends these messages out of and for both of them it was their first Bible. 

Job loss…God provided in the craziest ways when Gene was let go and put on disability. Crazy ways only a King could come up with. 

Our 2 oldest kids…they went through some tough things often by choice, but I wouldn’t trade who they are today for anything. They have both changed their lives so much and have always made us proud to be their parents. And they look out for their little sister like bodyguards look after the President. 

Our marriage…it’s good and still has hard times, but God is our focus and I can’t imagine going through this crazy journey with anyone but my Geno. 

Weeks before our son was released from prison, I called my husband and said, “Gene! I am so glad we went through this last year because we would’ve missed out on so much of God if we hadn’t.” 

Accepting Christ as our Savior is not getting a membership to a life free of hardships. That’s not a promise ever found in the Bible. Instead, we are told there’s going to be some really hard times ahead, but the promise is we have a God that won’t leave us stranded in our mess. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV

The key word in that passage: WHEN

The promise: I will be with you

Sunny skies and rainbows may be far and few between sometimes, but if we keep pressing into God we will get through to the other side knowing that He means what He says. That He is not a God yanking your chain. He may not answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but if we stick with Him He will provide and grow you in areas you didn’t even know needed growth. Others will see Him in and through you and want Him for themselves because He’s a desire we all have. 

The psalmist said it best in Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good. 




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Are you feeding your soul?

The Saturday before Easter, the Nebraska Chealey’s arrived in Florida to spend time with my husband’s side of our family. It was the first time Grandpa Chealey got to meet his great grandblessings and was our first holiday together in the 24 years Gene and I have been a couple. 



Everything down South is different from the Midwest…the weather, food and even church. A good different.

Easter Sunday we attended Gene’s childhood church. The praise and worship were beautiful and the pastor passionately shouted his message to encouragement from the organist and the drummer–our nephew. He received random shouts of AMEN and HALLELUJAH throughout his sermon from his congregation. 


Everyone stood during the reading of God’s Word. Except the pew of Nebraska folks. image

Gene stood, but forgot to tell us to remain standing. After the reading, the pastor gently explained to the visitors without addressing us directly how it is a sign of reverence to the Lord to stand. I like that.

Hats. Did I mention them yet? There were lots of view-blocking, pretty hats perched on the heads of women who have known my husband since he was a little boy, excited to meet his family.


Then there was my handsome father-in-law decked out in his purple suit.

Proud to pause for a moment and pose with his granddaughter. image

Afterwards, we went to my sister-in-law, Dianne’s mothers home for lunch. A meal prepared by Dianne, her mom Mimi and her two sisters. So much food and the smell of deliciousness embraced you the moment you walked through the door. Homemade macaroni & cheese, ham, greens, yams, chicken wings, mashed potatoes and gravy, deviled eggs, black-eyed peas, cornbread, sweet potato pie…all made with love.

We shamelessly made our plates so full you could only see the rim.image

We sat around the dining room table and talked and laughed. My sister Michelle and I raved over everything and even went back for seconds. Mimi loved our reactions, smiled and asked,

Have you ever had soul food?

When she said it, she had love in her eyes. In her smile. Mimi not only provided a place that filled our stomachs, she provided a place that filled our souls. We left full. Full of memories and love and satisfied stomachs.

Later in the week, I was reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst and this part I read sitting poolside summed up our time spent in Florida…

“Connecting with those we love is like soul food.

Relationships nourish us in ways nothing else can.”

I left Florida Friday morning and flew to speak at the Winsome Women’s Retreat in Pennsylvania. Little did I know more soul food awaited me. Not plates of food, but teaching and conversation by women I love and respect. I laughed, cried and did lots of hugging. It was good. It was nourishing.

My friend Deidra posted this picture of some us who were at Winsome and she wrote something so beautiful under the picture…


It’s community that saves you. Now, I don’t mean community SAVES us. Jesus saved us. Saves us. But, while we journey through this life on this earth, God has given us each other. We weren’t meant to do life alone, y’all.

So, I ask you what Mimi asked us,

Have you ever had soul food?

Do you have friendships that feed your soul?

And I encourage you with Deidra’s words, 

Do you surround yourself with community that saves you?

This was more than a vacation to Disney and Daytona Beach and seeing family. This was a soul nourishing trip from day one. God knew exactly what was needed to fill my soul from my time in Orlando to the weekend in the mountains in Pennsylvania. He fed me the soul food I needed.

Oh, and this is what Mimi’s food does to me…I was knocked out while my family took pictures. A soul well fed, rests or rather passes out from all the goodness. 




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She was ALWAYS preapproved

Friday night at the beautiful Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, Nebraska, speaker and author, Amy Breitmann from Georgia opened up the Refresh my Heart conference with a message on how we are all beloved. I loved her entire message, but the truth that stuck out to me the most is, “We owe it to our daughters to help them see they are beloved.”

photo credit: Amy Breitmann

I followed Amy with a message from John 4 about a lady in the Bible best known as the woman at the well. The theme of this years conference was how we are all preapproved in Christ. I had asked God to show me a woman who didn’t feel she had the approval of other people and instantly He brought her to mind. 

She was a woman who had a past and present lifestyle that didn’t gain the approval from those in her community. In order to avoid the judgement and whispers of her peers, she went to draw water at a time of the day when she knew the other women would be home.  

But then Jesus interrupted her day. 

He sat and waited for her at the well while the disciples went to another town to get food. And He crossed every line He could cross. Racial, gender, social. He crossed them. Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans and He did. He let her know that He knew all about her and that she was still usable, lovable and wanted by the Messiah. The Messiah everyone was waiting on. 

That meet-up by the well forever changed her life because the most talked about man on earth was letting her know that she was preapproved by Him. 

She may not have had the approval of her neighbors, friends and relatives,but she had the approval from the One that mattered. 

He didn’t sit at the well and tell her all the things she needed to change to earn His approval. What He did do was tell her…I know all about you and I still want to give you the Living Water only I can offer because I’m the only One who can fill your emptiness. He wanted to flow through her because He knew her worth. Like author and speaker Jennifer Lee said Saturday morning at the conference…”God likes you. He created you. You are His idea.”

His belief in her changed who she was and it changed her legacy. She ran back to the townspeople who had shunned her and said in verses 29-30 Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward Him. 

Jesus stayed with them for 2 days and because this woman believed she was preapproved by Him, the townspeople changed too. 

vs. 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 

vs 41-42 And because of His words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

On the cover of Jennifer’s book, Love Idolthe subtitle is: 

Letting go of your need for approval–and seeing yourself through God’s eyes.


On the second page of the introduction, Jennifer describes a Love Idol as: 

Whatever rules our hearts becomes our lord. The  person who seeks approval and acceptance can become controlled by it. The person who is motivated primarily by a need for human affirmation is, in the end, ruled by it. If we don’t get the love and acceptance we crave, we’re deflated. But if we  do get the approval we want, we might not be any better off, for we are tricked into thinking our idols offer fulfillment. 

And we keep going back for more.

The woman at the well sought the approval we all desire. She did it through men and with each relationship she continued to be empty, until she met Jesus. She was always preapproved; she just didn’t know it until she met her Maker. In my message at the conference I used my granddaughter’s bear as an example of a Love Idol.


We cling to things or people for approval and that thing or person becomes our Love Idol and Jesus is just asking us to trust Him because He alone is all we need. He’s bigger and better than anyone or anything else. 

When the woman at the well dropped her Love Idol and believed Jesus, she couldn’t help but tell others about Him and her testimony drew others to their Savior. We are all PREAPPROVED by Jesus and when we choose to believe the truth of that, not only does our life change, those around us are effected as well. 


Let’s uproot and live a PREAPPROVED life because we are BELOVED!  



Click on Amy and Jennifer’s names above to visit their blogs. To learn more about the book Love Idol click on Jennifer’s name.  

If you’d like your own customized wooden sign like the beloved one shown above and also to meet the artists click here to visit Amy’s online shop.

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I believe God IS all about women’s ministry and women’s conferences

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Faithful Friend

Recently, our granddaughters spent a Friday night with us. Amiyah, 6-years-old is sitting in the chair next to her sister Juliana who is 5-years-old. 

At 4 o’clock in the morning, my husband and I were suddenly interrupted from sleep. Amiyah was standing in the hall looking into the guest bedroom screaming, GRANDMA! JULIANA IS THROWING UP! EWWW! STOP THAT JULIANA! 

I rushed past the panicked big sister, scooped Juliana up out of the bed and took her into the bathroom. She never cried, but as I was cleaning her up, Amiyah stood in the doorway and began to cry as she said, “I just want to go home. And leave Juliana here.” 

This went on from 4am until 6:25am and each time I cleaned up Juliana and the vomit, Amiyah cried and complained. She even refused to go back into the bedroom until I aired it out because of the smell of sickness that lingered in the air. 

Sometimes in life, this happens. 

People who we think have our backs abandon us. They want to go and leave you behind. They can’t handle the stink of our mess and want to jump ship. They think only of themselves and want nothing to do when your life becomes messy. 

But then there are those who will hold your hair back, wash your face, and stay by your side even when the smell of what’s happening in your life makes their stomach queasy. 

It’s called community

I am so blessed to have a strong circle around me of not only family members, but friends who have stuck with me through everything. Friends who pray, encourage and love on me. Friends who speak truth when I don’t want to hear it. We never know what people are going through and in those times they feel like they can’t handle life is when a true friend is most needed. 

Today, be that hair holding, face washing, hand holder your friend needs. 

Don’t be the one to walk away when the going gets tough. Don’t stand in the doorway watching, crying and thinking of being in the comforts of your own life. Get messy. Be the community your friend needs you to be. 

A friend loves at all times…Proverbs 17:17a



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