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Faith

Let Freedom Ring!

I’m not sure how long you have been walking with the Lord but we’ve been besties for 40 years – and I am always astounded at his relentless pursuit, acceptance & love for his kids! At his constant desire to keep us walking forward to live FREE in every area and season of life.

I was chatting with one of my long-time friends a few months ago about how it seems we finally get free in one area and then God turns around and asks us to walk in freedom in another area - year after year – season after season – getting free of one darn idol or issue after the other...that we didn’t even know was a problem in our lives.

It’s like we just get free in one area and then ‘oh my gosh’, all of a sudden, our eyes are opened to another way we need to be free. We must be really messed up humans! I wish I could tell you that I wake up every morning with a smile radiating from my face, with faith filling my heart, that my mind thinks only thoughts that line up with God’s word, and my mouth says all the right things with just the right tones... but that’s not my reality.

I am in a constant battle in all these areas. In fact last summer on our way driving home from vacation, Rob and I were discussing some of our goals for this coming fall and year... and it was awesome!! We were connecting – it was beautiful… But then it was my turn to drive and he got irritated because I wanted to stop and get a Starbucks, so I wouldn’t fall asleep. Being a typical male, his irritation stemmed from the fact that he didn’t want to go ‘out of our way’ because he was on a mission to get home. But seriously, we were in no hurry at all, what’s an extra 15 min? Come on!! Anyhow, he did take me to Starbucks – but I could tell he was NOT happy.

So when I got out of the car to go in, I had a talk with myself that ‘no matter how much of a stinker he was acting like, or how irritated he still was when I got back in the car, I was going to be a kind human, a loving wife, just swallow my pride and deal with it.

As you probably have figured out – that DID NOT happen – I got in the drivers seat, looked over at him, and there he was in the passengers seat with his earphones on... basically pouting. So... I gently pulled one of the ear buds out of his ears and just went off. It was terrible. I said all kinds of stupid things I wish I didn’t say. But I just thought it was ridiculous how big of a deal he was making this! Normally, he likes to take a walk to get a hold of himself before he says too much - but this time – he was trapped – he couldn’t get away so he said stupid stuff back... at one point he asked to stop and let him out of the car and at another point, I asked to get out... it was a doozy. (Do you feel better about yourself now?)

Of course we apologized... and still love each other and it’s all good! But I told you that story to illustrate that we all need FREEDOM! LIVING A FREE LIFE is hard and it’s a journey we will be on the rest of our lives. We all need freedom in different areas, at different times. Sometimes we have to keep working on the same area over and over... ‘hello LAURA with your mouth!’ We all WANT to live free... but struggle to do so.

The great news is: Galatians 5:1 (msg) says, “Christ has set us free to live a free life!” Jesus died on the cross to set us free from sin and death, from sickness and lack, from every bondage, from anything that holds us back, so we can live free! 

Of course the million-dollar question is: ‘How do we really LIVE FREE?’ We’d need books and seminars and eons of time to adequately answer this question and dig into this subject, but just to whet your appetite.

I took a little survey from some of my closest friends asking what the top 3 things are that help them live free and here’s what they said:

  • Routine

    Stick with what you know works for you
  • Laugh

    Don’t take life or yourself too seriously
  • Exercise

    Get those toxins out
  • Nature 

    Get out and enjoy God’s creation                                    
  • Balance

    Of grace with yourself and asking God ‘to search me and see if there is any offensive way in me!’
  • Surrender

    Stay in a trusting - dependent – love filled – ‘have your way in my life’- relationship with God.
  • Perspective Shift

    Perspective is the only thing that changes results without changing the facts – "Be grateful for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t have!"
  • Daily Quiet Time

    Worship, reading the Bible and speaking God’s promises, praying, journaling, gratitude, sharing your faith.
  • Relationships

    Accountability + increases the joys & reduces the burdens

ALL of these ideas are fantastic tools to help us LIVE FREE! My guess is that if we all participate in a few more of these practices... we will live with a whole lot more freedom! 

5 Tips to Keep Your Marriage Spicy

5 Tips to Keep Your Marriage Spicy

As girls we sometimes assume that our guy should just know what we are thinking and what they should do to keep us happy.

Relationships can be tough! I mean sometimes it feels like you don’t even speak the same language! However, most of the time that is simply not the case. Here are a few time tested, proactive practices Rob and I have learned over the last 30 + years of marriage that I believe will keep your relationship fiery fresh!

1. Acceptance

In the first 2 years of marriage this was a huge struggle for us. Everywhere we went – to dinner with friends, to church... I was having a ball – just being myself. But then on the way home Rob had a whole list of things he wanted to share with me about how I wasn’t acting the way I should. That was even before I started cussing! J Mostly he felt like I was being too vulnerable, sharing all our ‘stuff’ with people. I really felt like he was trying to shape me into some ‘ideal’ he had in his head, but I certainly wasn’t feeling accepted for who I am! I finally told him one day, “There are a whole lot of people who seem to like me just the way I am... and if you don’t stop this, you’re going to make me into someone YOU don’t even like.” The good news is, as he began to accept me for who I was, it created an environment for my heart to be open to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

2. Vulnerability - Openness

One of my favorite things about mine and Rob’s marriage is our friendship. Of course we share the same vocation, kids, family and friends, but we are VERY different when it comes to what activities we like to do. Robs idea of a great day off is to insert as many adrenalin laced activities in as possible: work out with weights, ride his bicycle, play golf, ride his motorcycle, have sex…I’m just saying... Whereas my idea is to take a leisurely walk with the dog, then sit on the back porch drinking coffee and have a long quiet time, read books, browse shopping websites, & take a nap. Our differences could kill vulnerability. Yet, we do share some common interests. I actually enjoy being his biker babe on a short ride to the movies or Starbucks – girls, I need a goal to ride. We both like hiking, and I do like sex… A LOT! But what I love the most about our relationship is the intimacy and connection we share about everything. Rob, for the most part, has always been an excellent & tender partner when it comes to listening and seeking to understand me in all the different stages of life... which creates intimacy & openness between us, especially for me as a woman. It is so crucial to build that foundation in the beginning so that when life gets hard you have a solid foundation to land on. Do everything you can to leave space in your week to bear your heart & soul with one another.

3. Respect & Love

Ephesians 5:22, 25 - Wives submit to / honor your husbands, as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Men want & need respect. 

Women want & need love.

I can tell you for sure that one of the biggest fears women have is that at some point her man is going to stop loving her; whether it’s because of how much she is juggling AND also wanting to be a blessing to him... but isn’t sure she has what it takes; OR because she compares herself to the perfect images our culture portrays of what she should look like. But when a husband consistently communicates to his bride how much he loves her, it brings safety and reassurance to their bond! Men, on the other hand, are looking for honor. He needs to know that his woman respects him. One of the quickest ways to ensure marital bliss is to brag on your husband: to him, to your kids, and to everyone else you know. I promise it will get back to him and make him feel like a million bucks. We can all find something imperfect about our spouses; may I boldly invite you to celebrate and verbalize your LOVE & RESPECT to one another.

4. Validation. 

Last year for about 6 months, Rob was dealing with an inner ear dysfunction that caused vertigo... I was so use to him being strong, active and invincible... but it was really tough. He had to rest a lot more... slow down his activities, decrease his salt intake, stop eating fun foods! He just wasn’t himself... One day, after he had researched a whole bunch of stuff... he decided to pour out his entire heart to me. We were standing in the bathroom and sadly I just wasn’t as tuned in as I normally am. Actually in my heart I was, but I was trying to get out the door for an appointment. Instead of validating him right then and there... and asking him for another time to hear his whole heart, he could tell I was agitated and I kind of dismissed him. Ugh! It really hurt his feelings. Needless to say, I had to do a whole lot of makeup work to get him to understand that I always want to know how he feels when he’s going through something... and then really take the time to validate his feelings!

The point is ladies, it’s not always easy for men to open up – so when they do – let’s make sure we stop - focus - and validate them!

5. Prioritize.

Keep your relationship a priority.

I know it’s not rocket science but I am always shocked when I start asking questions to couples who are struggling, about how much time they really spend together connecting heart-to-heart - on a consistent basis.... it’s usually very little. I know when you have young kids – you have to really fight for the time – or if one of you is working a night shift – you might have to get creative, swap babysitting your friends kids, or grab random or late night moments... but let me assure you, it’s worth fighting for! At the very beginning of our marriage, Rob and I adopted a ‘777’ plan and have continued it to this day. Every week, we take the 7th day off, part of which we use to connect on a deeper level. Every 7 weeks, we take a day and a half off and spend more focused time together, which occasionally entails a day trip or quick over night away. And once every 7 months, we enjoy a vacation or stay-cation, making sure our relationship is in a healthy place. Of course there are our daily connect moments, even if it is over dinner or pillow talk. This year I started a new tradition where at the end of the day we toast and talk about all the things we are grateful for on that day. Weekly, we take turns planning our date night.

Life can get so busy... it is vital to prioritize your relationship!

-Laura

 

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3 Secrets to Discovering Your Worth

Hey Beautiful girls!

Do you ever feel replaceable? Like you aren’t good, bright enough, beautiful enough... compared to all the other girls out there?

I certainly do at times. Even though I’ve been walking with Jesus over 40 years, from time to time, I still find myself asking the same questions… Do I matter? Am I still wanted? Am I valuable?

We HAVE to stop this madness!

These lies are constantly coming at us from every direction.  We probably all have ‘voices from the past’ that communicate less than worthy messages. Our culture does a ridiculous job of trying to get us to compete and compare ourselves with the ‘perfect’ images they portray. We have our own negative, invalidating mind chatter to constantly combat with.  AND... We have a real enemy, satan, who is consistently telling us that we are not enough. However, this isn’t a new thing. From the beginning, the devil questioned our value as God’s daughters when he lured us into temptation. Can you imagine how Eve felt after being deceived and the curse had fallen... and she and Adam were “kicked out” of the garden? Every time life was hard, I bet she heard a nagging, condemning voice reminding her, “It’s all your fault, you aren’t good enough, you can’t do anything right…” But the truth is, after God created man and saw that it was not good for him to be alone, he uniquely crafted a woman and gave her to Adam as a gift! Eve(Woman) has been God’s solution, his answer, his gift to mankind and our world ever since.

Women. Are. Valuable!!

God believes in His daughters! Our true value can only be found in one place and that is in how valuable we are to Him. Jesus LOVED us so much that he laid down his life for us. He wanted US. He valued US. His actions shouted, “YOU are worth it!”  Once you know how loved and valuable you are to God, it changes your perspective on everything! You begin to hold your head high. You start walking with confidence... Loving yourself... Taking care of others. You set out to intentionally lend your strength and give your life away in the same way Jesus did! You start SHINING the love of Jesus for others to see! What a brilliant ripple effect!

The value you now embrace projects value on everyone else around you!

I love what believing how valuable we are can do... However, it seems like in order to get over the continual earthly amnesia we all seem to encounter, we must PURPOSEFULLY place a few powerful practices in our everyday lives to remind us. Here are a few thoughts:

Connect with your girlfriends!

If it weren’t for my girlfriends I would have a mountain of debt owed to counselors and probably be completely out of my mind. Getting together with a godly girl gang is paramount to your self worth! Your girlfriends will be a positive voice, standing with you in the tough times, AND cheering you on, reminding you how: lovely, wonderful, gorgeous, creative and fantastic you are! What might have happened that day in the garden if Eve had her girlfriends around her? Maybe they would have stood between her and the tree, and said things like, “Stay away from snakes, they’re no good! Don’t listen to his lies!” “Eve, that looks like a bad apple. Don’t eat it!” Who knows? Regardless, I can tell you from experience, because of the wise, love filled voices of my friends through the years, I have escaped many land mines meant for my destruction. Thank God for godly girlfriends who will stand with you in the fire and cheer with you in the fun! Then...

Saturate your mind with what God says about you!                                              

One of the most vital and life transforming practices I have engaged in my entire Christian journey, has been renewing my mind to God’s word, concerning who he says I am. The Bible is filled with verses about how valuable we are to him! One of my favorites is Psalm 139:14,  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” God wants you to know, heart and soul – FULL WELL – just how valuable you are to him! When you find scriptures that are meaningful to you - Memorize them! Speak them out loud! Tape them to your walls! Do whatever you need to do to get the truth of God’s word into your heart until you believe it! When you saturate your mind with what he says about you, it is one of the quickest ways to dispel the lies of the enemy.

One other quick thought I want to remind you of is to...

Believe how loved you are by God!

In all my years of walking with Jesus, the number one, fail proof way to embrace my true value has come from understanding how loved I am by God! For all you younger girls who are just starting this journey with Jesus... I want you to know it never stops. The battle for you to believe how worthy you are never ends. But even greater than the battle waging against you is the force of God’s love flooding your heart every single day! God is relentlessly pursuing you with his love. There is honestly no shortcut. You have to constantly stay under the waterfall of His love. When you receive God’s love it changes you. Don’t leave your quiet time until you’re convinced that YOU are his absolute favorite! You MUST remind yourself how loved you are by God EVERYDAY. When you forget, and inevitably start listening to the negative voices, cultural nonsense, & enemy’s lies... just stop and get back underneath the drenching cascade of God’s never ending, unconditional love for you!

This VALUE issue is a beast girls - it’s a lifelong journey – AND the stunning truth is – YOU are altogether lovely, your worth is far above jewels, God adores you, you’re gorgeous inside and out, you’re loved beyond measure, there is nothing in all of creation that compares to you – because God created YOU in his image, without equal, without rival... to uniquely express a very special part of who he is to this world who desperately needs JESUS.

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From My Heart to Yours

I’m not sure when it happened – but the day came, somewhere in my late 30s, when I realized this life is not about me. #gasp

I was innocent enough, I think. Raising three small children, working full time at the church, doing my best to take care of myself, and enjoying a wonderful marriage. But I could barely keep my head above water, much less come to grips with the daunting fact that I was leaving an imprint on this world – one way or another, like it or not!

I’ll never forget when it dawned on me, "I want to do this life and ministry thing well so others can continue to carry God’s LOVE, GRACE, and LEGACY forward for generations to come."

That passion has remained to this day!

I certainly don’t feel like I’ve done it all right, and like most of you, I question myself on many occasions.

At the same time, through 30 marvelous, yet also bumpy years of married life, raising kids, helping to lead a wonderful church, living a healthy lifestyle, grief and loss, developing strong friendships, kicking around fashion fads as a hobby, and walking with my sweet, sweet JESUS – I do feel like there are a few things I’ve learned the hard way, that might make your life a little less stressful, and a whole lot easier to navigate and enjoy.

That's what Sisterhood is for right?!

I pray something shared in this new and fresh space will resonate and bring solution & life to a particular situation you’re facing. #we'reallinthistogether

My heart's desire is that you live in a fully surrendered, dependent, love relationship with the ONE who LOVES you so much.

That you enjoy every relationship you’ve been gifted and you embrace the gracious gift you are to this world. But mostly, that you live to give your life away, so the many watching you will be touched with eternity.

Let’s have some fun! Talk back in the comments below. 

All my love, prayers, and devotion,

PL-Signature.png
 

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God Our Father, Will Always Find You

This is the story of a girl who is often lost but always found…. When I was a little girl, around age 5 or 6, my family and I were traveling and along the journey we stopped at a gas station. I was a curious kid filled with wonder, so everything to me was an adventure including this ordinary trip to the store. Naturally, I began to explore; leaving my parents and siblings in the dust. After a while I finally decided to look up and to my dismay, my family was nowhere in sight. My whole world started to shift as I realized I had wandered too far. I made my way to the front of the store and sat on the curb in defeat. At that moment, I looked up and I saw my dad running towards me with open arms and heart on his sleeve. He couldn’t be more thrilled that he found his daughter, it was a beautiful reunion.

If you have attended Shoreline for more than a year – then you’ve heard my dad preach this story a little differently, but this is the way I see it. My dad has never stopped finding me. I am so blessed to have the earthly father that I do. This story is the first example of me losing myself in the world, but it certainly wasn’t the last. I have lived a life filled with satisfying my curiosities and I have lived a life filled with grace meeting me at every turn.

In case all of you haven’t heard, here is a little bit of my story… During my college years I found myself struggling with addiction. How I got there is irrelevant, but like I said before I was a curious girl and nonetheless ended up with a severe dependence on drugs and alcohol. I was up to my neck in shame. Life was pointless, I never attempted to take my life but I definitely wished I didn’t exist. Once again I found myself sitting on a curb in defeat and just like before my dad came to find me.

I woke up one morning to a letter from him. With the utmost grace and compassion he revealed to me a gut feeling he wasn’t able to shake. Without any condemnation he told me that if I needed help, all I needed to do was say the word and he would be there. You know what happened next – right?… there was a beautiful reunion. I was so ready to be found. This is the kind of dad I have.

I know right? I have a pretty amazing dad… But let me be the first to tell you, so do you. My dad is only human, and he scores pretty high on that scale but still he is only a man. What I didn’t tell you, is that he actually left that store without me. He made it half way up the street when he realized that he was traveling with one less kid. It’s all good now, we laugh about it often and it makes for a really good story, but can I tell you something? God will never forget you, and he will always find you. His love never quits.

Maybe you haven’t had the best earthly father and maybe there is even pain surrounding the word “dad’. But just as real as your pain, there is real a God, a father that is greater than your hurts. Let him find you. Rest in the reality that you are completely, in every way his child and he is your father.

- Danielle Koke