Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Moving!

I have a new home!  Well, Meaningful Home Life does!  Please come visit and poke around the new place!  It's still a work in progress, so you will see some tweaks here and there, but this address will be my permanent home.  Won't you come by and visit?

If you subscribe to this blog, I would love for you to move over and subscribe at my new home.  This will make sure you'll receive any new posts at Meaningful Home Life.  Look for the subscribe box on the right.

If you haven't signed up to receive my posts in your email, won't you consider joining me?

My 31 days posts will be resumed over at, starting with today's post.  Go check it out!

I look forward to seeing you over at my new place!

In Him,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days of Letting Go: Let Go of the Past (day 2)

I slammed the door, with tears burning in my eyes.  I didn't want to hurt anymore.  My life.  My family.. the way of life and the people I had known, all flipped around.  In a stressful season of my family's business falling apart, my family had become strangers to me; hurtful, lashing out kind of people that couldn't contain their hurt.  I had dodged cutting words and flying objects aimed at me.

And my heart.

The physical would heal.  The slashing words... lingered.

I didn't recognize my parents or my brothers anymore.  All that I had known of what a family was and the love between members had disintegrated. Yet, it hadn't always been this way.  My childhood had been happy, relatively. At this point in my life, my family equaled violatile.  And all I wanted was either peace... or escape.  A chance to recover from the slings and arrows.  As down-trodden as I was, I promised myself, at that young age, that my own family would be different.  The first half of my life, up to this point, had been much more secure than my teen and college years.  In my 16th year of life, my family seemed to implode.. and they would continue to self-destruct over and over and over until I left that home when I was 22.
These years changed me. Scars ran deep and insecurities crept up into the recesses of my mind.

The past can haunt.  It can keep you mulling over the woulda, shoulda, and couldas.  It can replay memories best left alone.  It can taunt and ridicule.  The past, if given too much attention, can whisper in our ear all of our failures, our worst moments, and our hurts.  In fact, it has the ability to take a once scabbed over wound and make it come to life - bleeding, throbbing and raw as though the injury had just occurred.

I remember moments in my past that I'd gladly like to forget.  Times when I wish I could have a do-over.  I certainly can remember times when pain had been inflicted on me by others who were hurting.

Of course, not all of our past is bad (I hope).  For some, the only happiness they find in the present is by re-living good moments from the past.  Replaying good moments when life was happy and everything seemed to just click together.

There is danger in both mindsets.

One mind doesn't let go of the hurt, and is wounded over and over.  With each replay of a past hurt - done to us or a regret - a wall is built - stone upon stone - between ourselves and others.  Ourselves and God.  With each rewind, we deny God's power and ability to forgive the past.  With each stone laid, we CHOOSE to let the past reign in our hearts; we let that somehow, in some twisted way, be our comfort and companion.

Logically, we know it's ridiculous to cling to pain.  But, we do it.  We cling to the anger it stirs and let the roots of bitterness grow so deeply that it becomes the only life we know.  You know what I mean...

Hurt first... before someone else hurts you.  Always on the defensive.  Always thinking that someone is out to get you; that when another brings hurt to your doorstep... it's intentional.

But isn't this exhausting?  Aren't you tired of crouching in a defensive posture?  It takes so much more energy to hold on to the anger, the bitterness, the hurt... that it clouds our ability to see our present.  This weed of bitterness...this plant chokes out the good God is sowing in your heart.

The other mindset is so distracted by the "glory days" - when our marriage was sweeter - when our children were tender - when our family functioned well - when finances were in order - when we were happier - more popular - confident, that we are robbed.

You see, comparison is the robber of joy. Living in the past is comparing your present life with your old one - and the present has been found wanting.  And God has a lot to say about looking to the past...

* “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-19

* "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Cor. 5:17

* "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." - Phil. 3:13-14

* "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Eph. 4:31-32

 We were not called to live our life in the past - reliving moments that make us blind to the God-given blessings, opportunities and challenges of today.

Let it go, my friend.  Hand over your past - the good, the bad and the ugly to the One who promises a full life, now.  Forgive where forgiveness is needed.  Let go of the things that really don't matter, in the end.

Release the grip that past hurts have on you.  For the final time - today - drag that heavy burden that you've been carrying around to the foot of the cross, give it to Him... AND LEAVE IT THERE.

Don't reach for it again.  Aren't you tired?  Heavy-laden, with all of the past hurts and regrets weighing on your shoulders?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matt. 11:28

He gives you rest.  Peel back your hands that are firmly laid on the past and give it to Him.  Don't let one more day's joy be stolen.  Don't let the burden of the past rob you or destroy you.  

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. " - John 10:10 

Only 2 short years after that season of tumultuous family life, my mom passed away unexpectedly.  My dad followed two years after her.  In those months before both went on, forgiveness flowed freely.  Wounds were healed and while that time of my life will always be marked with pain, I am no longer a slave to the pain and hurt.

And when thoughts, insecurities creep up in my mind, I try to hand them over to God.  He battles the thief on my behalf.  For me, I let go of the past so that I may receive the joy, the blessings and the new opportunities that God has set aside for me.. today.  Now.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days of Letting Go: What does that mean, anyway?

Letting Go. The act of releasing one's grip on something; to pry our fingers off of an object/person/idea. It seems so simple. So natural that it would come to us as easily as breathing or blinking.

However, letting go of something usually conjures up thoughts of pain. For many of us, "letting go" means ripping apart. Separated from something you want.

For some, we have been the one that was let go of. Someone walked away. Betrayed. Strayed. Rejected us and let go of us making us feel unloved. Sometimes, we just don't. want. to let go of someone or thing that makes us happy. Or loved. Or makes us feel important or relevant. But we need to. And, sometimes, we must let go of ideals. Of dreams. Of loved ones. Even, though, it's painful.

Letting Go doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, often times, it is the more beneficial/safe/healthier/obedient thing to do.

Sometimes, we have to let go of those we love. Sometimes, we let go of our past and the pain inflicted on us there. Sometimes, we let go of people who hurt us. We let go of habits that hold us back and people who hold us down. We let go of thoughts that beat us up and ideals that discourage.

Because, often times...

we have to let go of one thing to receive the next thing God has in store for us.

Letting go of people, objects and ideas tend to have a lot of emotions wrapped around it. Lots of opinions too. There are plenty of people around us that will tell us what they think of our letting go plan. However, those are not the voices we are to listen to.

Over these next 31 days, join me as we learn to let go and tune our ears to the one, True Voice. Join me, won't you?

This is one in a series. If you'd like to read about the other 30 days of this journey, perhaps you'd like to sign up to receive them by email to the right?

Join the #31days journey over at

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Wounded By God's People: Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts by Anne Graham Lotz

Once I received and started reading, "Wounded By God's People" by Anne Graham Lotz, my first thought was, "Where was this book a few years ago?!?!".   I found myself in several hurtful situations with other Christians and this would have been a perfect resource.  Yet, God worked it out all in His timing.  I'm grateful this book is here now, though, and I have plans to refer back to it over and over in future years.  I also have plans for my sons to both read it in preparing their hearts for the inevitable time of pruning that will come in their lives.

Weaving her own stories of having been hurt and hurting others with the stories of hurt in the Bible (primarily through Hagar's story), Anne does an amazing job of walking alongside the reader during a time when emotions are raw and our natural bend is to retaliate or pick up and leave.  Anne points our eyes to our Father in heaven in tough times when we have been hurt by another Christian.

I would love to say that you will never, ever be hurt by other Christians but... I can't.  It WILL happen.  Unfortunately, lots of times.   "Wounded By God's People" puts perspective on where responsibility lies, our response to hurts of others (as well as being confronted with the hurt we've inflicted), and encourages not to walk away from God when other hurt us but lean in hard to the One who has already experienced rejection and hurt on our behalf.

The chapter topics are thorough and Anne doesn't leave the reader hanging or left wondering, "well, my situation is different", because she addresses all possible perspectives.  With chapter titles such as -

1. Healing Is a Journey - He was wounded too
2. The Biblical Story of Hagar
3. Loved by a God on the Periphery (God is Not An Elitist)
4. Life is Hard (Everyone is Wounded)
5. The Cycle of Pain (The Wounded Become Wounders)
6. The Believer in Exile (Running from the Wounders)
7. God Cares (You Can't Outrun God)
8. Spiritual Blind Spots (You are Missing the Obvious)
9. Wounding Hurts (Doing the Right Thing Can Be Painful to the Wounder)
10. Rejected By Them (But Not by Him)
11. Wandering in the Wilderness (God Is Still There)
12. The Silence Is Broken (God Is A Prayer-Hearing, Prayer Answering, Miracle Working God)
13. God Stands By (He Hears Our Cry for Help)
14. A Stubborn Spirit (Exile from Him is Self-Imposed)
15. The Turning Point (That Was Then, This Is Now)
16. I Can See! (Your Valley May Be The Place of Vision)
17. Don't Look Back (You Can't Move Forward by Looking in the Rearview Mirror)
18. It's Time To Move On (You Can Be Reconciled)
19. Conclusion: The End of the Healing Journey (It's Time to Come Home)

Be forewarned!  Anne doesn't always tell you what you might want to hear but she does tell you what you NEED to hear in times of hurting.  She does so in a gentle, close friend kind of way - you know the one that is honest enough to tell you when you are out of line but does it without damaging your friendship??  Anne doesn't cottle the role of victim nor does she brush away the very real hurt that we get stung by from time to time (and she herself has experienced).  As she acknowledges, for some reason, Christian wounds tend to heal slowly.   Perhaps it is because we feel that "they should know better" or because we feel that a Christians shouldn't eat their own.  Logically, I would agree with these thoughts, however, Anne points out that we are all hurting on some level and we are all imperfect.  Ultimately, God doesn't promise us a life of ease and friendliness.  Life is, indeed, hard, at times.  All the more reason to lean into Him.

I believe this is a MUST-READ for all Christians - regardless of your age or stage in life.  I plan on keeping this as the amazing salve that it is in times of being wounded.   I heartily recommend this book!

DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review: Downside Up

            The truth is rejection is a part of our life but it's not often that we are taught how to deal with it in a healthy way.  Enter "Downside Up: Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity.  Tracey Mitchell has given us a new, godly, perspective on dealing with rejection.  Too often when stung by rejection, we are frozen, locked in with the pain and never move passed this phase.  We insulate ourselves, keep people at arm's length and make a promise to our heart that we won't let anyone hurt us like that again.  Then, we become stuck.  Paralyzed by fear that someone may reject our idea, our suggestion, or worse, us.

Mitchell gives us strategies for a variety of scenarios and dealing with different personality types.  She gently reminds us of our worth in Christ but speaks to the practical in giving concrete action plans at the end of each chapter.

Some may think that Mitchell makes overcoming rejection too easy but she does not.  She acknowledges the deep pain it can cause but she challenges us to move beyond that to see the motivation we can gain from it.  Yes, her words are easy to read but the hard work comes from us: to change our perspective and mindset and to let go of the pain and negative thoughts we take on as truth.  A book will not do the work for you but she definitely lays a great action plan down.

I highly recommend this book for those struggling to overcome the pain of rejection and to move past it in thought and deed.

Disclosure:   I received this book free from the publisher through the® .  <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: Accidental Pharisee

The title of this book attracted me immediately and, because of events going on in my life, I knew this would be a book I'd want to review.  Immediately, I was drawn into this book by Osborne's easy writing style.  Without it's own tone of judgment, Larry Osborne leads his readers into an introspective journey about how we all have a pharisee living inside of us; the voice that wants to judge another's decisions or actions, even though those decisions or actions do not fall out of line with God's word.

In Accidental Pharisees, we look at a variety of biblical people that didn't "fit the bill" of a devout Christian, yet, in the end, God accepts them, welcomes them and calls them His own.

Osborne gets right to the heart of the matter with defining the actions of a Pharisee, " they pile on heavy burdens (by way of extra rules) and lots of guilt.  But they don't lift a finger to make things easier."  These are Jesus' words (parahprased, of course) from Matthew.  Further, Osborne addresses the "extra biblical" rules that we desire to place on other people because they don't measure up to our definitions, our personal convictions or our spiritual comparisons.  He states, "My kids' T-ball teams taught me how powerful our innate urge to compare is and how quickly we categorize people as winners or losers, based on the flimsiest of reasons."  And this doesn't just happen on t-ball fields.  He's talking about our churches.

Speaking the truth in love, Osborne shows us areas where we may take information we know about our fellow Christians and use it to justify looking down on them.  He tackles the touchy subjects of Pride, Exclusivity, Legalism, the need for uniformity around you, money police and gift projection (you know, when MY calling becomes ((or should)) everyone else's calling).

The Accidental Pharisee is a must-read book for all church attendees, in my opinion. This is a wake-up call to the Christian church about how we treat each other; how we inaccurately and inappropriately judge others we call brothers and sisters in Christ.  Osborne does an excellent job of treading this tender subject without adopting a tone that is condescending or patronizing.  We'd do well to learn from Osborne's heedings and turn our focus back onto Jesus instead of it being on those sitting down the pew from us.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The life and death of a good girl..

I was talking with someone the other day... lamenting that I didn't have a dramatic conversion.  After all, I was  a "good girl".  I wasn't a wild child.  I wasn't a rebel (at least, not outwardly).  I wasn't a rule breaker.  At least, not too much.

I was brought up to believe in God.  After all, it was the right thing to do.

Until one day.

That day. I read the simplistic yet beautiful words in a Billy Graham book.  All of it I agreed with.  All of it made sense.  The views in the book were views I already held.  Then, I got to the page with the prayer.

Words so unfamiliar to me.  Words so distant and strange.  I had never talked to God about my faith in Him.  I had never told God that I believed in Him and His son. In fact, I had never talked to God at all before that day. I had never attended church either, for that matter.  That's when I realized it.   I realized  that I didn't have a relationship with God.  But I wanted one. 

I read the words on the page again while at the same time scanning my memory for some moment when I had accepted Christ to be my Lord and Savior.  Nope.  I got nothin'.

In that moment, with the decision to talk to God about this... my life changed.  Forever.

I don't have a Saul to Paul, on-the-road conversion story.  I don't have a "saved from a life of drugs" testimony.  And, in my early years at the first church I attended, I always felt less because of this.  I always felt ineffective.  I even had a Sunday School teach question my salvation and reject my experience because I couldn't remember the exact date and because she believed no one could come to Christ through a book (shows how small her God was).  Testimonies were supposed to be strong.  Drastic.  Dare I say, dramatic??  At least, in the church I started to attend after that day with Billy Graham, a book and a prayer.  

I've long since left that church in an attempt to free myself from man-made laws.  14 years ago, to be exact.

Apparently, some things have remained, though.

 In the midst of this conversation a few weeks back, I heard it.  I heard Him.

"That's a lie."

"That is pride."

"That is to your glory.  Not Mine." 


I had to switch topics in the conversation because the supernatural one going on in my head was too loud.

If you've ever had an "A-Ha!" moment or, in my case, a "DUH!" moment, then, my friend, you'd know exactly how I felt a weeks ago.

"I was a good girl."

"I didn't do anything wrong, really, before I accepted Christ."

Um... Hello?  Is anyone in there, Sheri?

What a bunch of lies I had believed!  I had walked on this earth harboring these thoughts... along with a dose  of guilt for not having a "gritty" enough testimony.  Really?

The truth penetrated my heart like the sharpest of swords.  

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23

Last time I looked, all means ALL.  Duh.

Despite reading this and other verses on THAT day with the book and prayer.. as well as all the days that have followed on this faith journey, my head knew this truth but my heart didn't.

Somewhere in my head, man's truth became bigger, false-truth, over God's truth.  

Because the truth is...

The truth is... 

No matter how "good" of a girl I classified myself or the world classified me, I was still (and still am) a sinner in need of a Savior.  That's Truth.

No matter how much I compared my testimony to others - each time not measuring up in drama or drastic change - I was just as broken.

Just as deserving of punishment.

Just as UN-deserving of grace and mercy....

as the drug addict.  the prostitute. the murderer.  the thief.  the liar.  the adulterer.  the abuser. 

This "good girl" was equal to those I had  unwittingly classified as in more need of grace than me.  I knew this wasn't true logically but my real beliefs - the one that could lament not having a dramatic conversion - they revealed what I was thinking somewhere in this brain of mine. 

You see, by saying "I was a good girl", I implied that I didn't need that much saving.  I didn't need that much grace.  At least, not as much grace as others.  

In believing that I was a good girl, I was saying, somewhere in my head and heart, that I. was. good. enough.  I was good enough for God's grace.  I had earned it.  

All pride.  
Shameful pride is all that was. I see that now. 

 Unwittingly, I was clinging to a little bit of the glory that was rightly meant for God.  I say unwittingly because had you asked me I would have said I wasn't good enough for God's grace.  I would have said I cannot earn my salvation.  My brain lived with these two opposing beliefs.

 The funny thing is I'm quite certain I'm not the only one that holds these beliefs.  In fact, I see this idea - 

the idea that "at least I was never a _________ (fill in the blank)" ...

a lot amongst believers.  It is the elephant in the room.  No one calls it out but it's there.  It's spoken in round about ways.  In knowing eyes and coded words.  
"At least, I'm not...".  
 "I'm a good person.."  
"I've got my life together"
"I follow the rules"
"I contribute _____ (time, money, insert your word here)"

All of this screams out... I'm good enough.  I am presentable enough to enter God's kingdom.  I am good.

The truth is I never was a "good enough" girl for God's amazing grace.  You and I, friend, we're not good enough. 

 For if we were, there'd be no need for Jesus.  

We can never be good enough... or follow the rules enough.. or have our life together, enough... to be worthy of entering into God's presence, let alone a relationship.   I cannot earn my way to heaven.

No amount of good behavior, good deeds, or thoughts can move me one step closer to earning a relationship with Christ.

And.. amen to that.


Isn't that exhausting??  

Trying to earn someone's approval?  
Trying to earn someone's friendship??  
Trying to be good enough??

It's down-right, bone-aching exhausting.  And it's wrapped in failure.  Every. Time. 

And Praise Him for His simple, releasing way of coming to Him.  

He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" - Matthew 11:28

The truth is God isn't a God of complication.  He is a God of clarity and simplicity.  

He is a God of Grace. And freely gives that Grace when we are so, so undeserving of it. 

Let's put the "good girl" myth to death.  I know I have in my own life since my epiphany several weeks ago.  I am very aware of my daily failures... and I know I was never a "good girl" to earn God's grace by my own efforts.  It is most definitely a gift - freely given to all who seek it.