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Landscape - Legacy - Ladies - Love

He’s got the whole world in HIS hands.

This morning as I was walking my dog Mellow and praying – this song kept ringing in my mind: He’s got the whole world in his hands... he’s got the little bitty babies in his hands... he’s got you and me sister in his hands... he’s got Ounaminthe, Haiti in his hands... he’s got the whole world in his hands!

BY THE WAY THAT MEANS GOD’S GOT YOU IN HIS HANDS TOO! IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT!

LANDSCAPE

 I am in awe of this gorgeous nation. Breathtaking mountains and refreshing beaches are the panorama of Haiti. Such beautiful people. And a God who loves every single ONE!

LEGACY

It still sends a shock through my system to see my sons name on these buildings...

Then I look into the eyes of the boys and girls – the young men and women growing up at Danita’s Children... immediately peace and joy flood my soul. They are full of: Life.  Laughter. Wholeness. Learning about God’s ways and experiencing the depths of his love! Many feel motivated to continue their education so they can do their part to bring positive change to this impoverished yet lovely country! What more can a mom desire... Caleb’s legacy continues to be etched across the globe. For that I am eternally grateful.

LADIES

WHAT A FANTASTIC 2ND YEAR OF SHINE HAITI! CLOSE TO 900 WOMEN WALKED FOR MILES AND MILES JUST TO COME HEAR THE MESSAGE OF FREEDOM THAT ONLY JESUS CAN PROVIDE!

Two precious women traveled for 4 days even though they were robbed along the journey. My sweet daughter – in - love Katy gave them some of her clothes to wear to the conference! And she preached up a storm on Saturday!

Friday night Danita and I opened the conference. God alone knows the plowing that took place. For we walk by faith!

My girl Danielle, so bravely and eloquently shared her testimony of freedom with these women. I know the seeds planted will take root and blossom for eons of time!

My dear, dear friend Cheryl Luke – what in the world? Her testimony of a painful marriage brought courage for many to reach out and grab freedom! And it was a week filled with training Danita’s team with the Celebrate Recovery curriculum. Years of freedom are on the way!

As always, one of my favorite moments was giving each girl a gift to remember our time together. This year it was a key with the words ‘I AM FREE’ – in Creole ‘Mwen Lib’ May they never forget!

God loves his Haitian daughters! I can only imagine the radical change for good that will take place as they continue to embrace the FREEDOM Jesus brought at Shine Haiti 2017! 

LOVE

When God knits our hearts together with others, it is always because of his grande plan to woo this world into his loving embrace!

UNTIL NEXT YEAR...

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Quick Immune System Boosters

  • SUPPLEMENTS

Echinacea, probiotics, vitamin C! 

  • GREENS

In powder, juice or whole vegetable form, make sure you're getting EXTRA amounts of good green veggies this season. 

  • DRINK WATER

Detoxify your body by drinking TONS of water this allergy/sick season

  • SLEEP

Everyone says it, but it's true, your body recharges, restores when you're resting. 

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

 

Grief Sucks

Grief Sucks

Perhaps I shouldn’t be writing when I’ve also got a horrible cold and a shooting pain down my leg... and... It’s a few days away from my son Caleb’s ‘would be’ 25th birthday... IF he were still on planet earth...

My heart is aching.

Last night while talking (complaining) to a friend about all my woes I said, “I hate sickness with a passion, I hate sin, I hate sorrow, I hate death... I use to feel sorry for the devil but no longer – I can’t wait to see him burn. I think I’m going to write a blog called grief sucks.

So here it goes...

We have now been walking this grief recovery journey for 7.5 years.

Has the extreme pain diminished? Absolutely. Are most days filled with joy as we trust God’s promises concerning Heaven and the eternity we will get to spend with Caleb? Yes. Are we blown away at the privilege and opportunities we have to carry on his legacy through the Caleb Foundation? 100%.

In just two weeks, I’ll have the honor to love on some precious orphaned children and gorgeous women in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. What a sincere joy. And there are countless other young people, all over the world, being loved on, nurtured, taught God’s ways, treated medically, educated and led to what matters most – a life forever with Jesus! Giving my life away is like a balm to my sorrow.

At the same time, in ways, it all still seems like a nightmarish dream. I see Caleb’s pictures around my house and these haunting feelings & questions surge again, “Why can’t he just be here?

I want to touch him – talk to him – know what he would have chosen as his life vocation – who might he be dating or married to... There’s this inconsolable longing – this itch that can’t be scratched – this pain so deep that time evades.

I want to see my son. So I choose to allow myself to feel... To grieve.

Grief sucks.

There aren’t too many other words I can think to describe grief really. Grief hurts, it has no happy (earthly) ending. No resolve for today. It just hurts. Our hearts are broken. Our feelings are bruised.

And it’s okay to feel it.

Feelings are exactly that – just feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. Good nor bad. Sinful nor holy. Feelings just are. When we allow ourselves to sit with our feelings for a hot second – it causes us to be honest in the moment – to remember – to be human.

Stuffing our emotions doesn’t help, and remaining too long in the pain certainly isn’t healthy either... but often, we don’t give ourselves permission to simply feel. It’s okay to feel.

It’s here in the pain – in the heartache – in the tears – in the overwhelming sucky feelings of, “I am sad, I miss Caleb, I hate this.

That beckons my Father to draw near.

I NEED his comfort.
I NEED his peace.
I NEED his love.
I NEED him! O how I need Jesus! And he always does come. He comes with EVERYTHING I need. His presence covers it all.

Jesus knows all too well.

“We despised him and rejected him – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our back on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care. Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins. But he was wounded and bruised for our sins! He was beaten that we might have peace; he was the lashed – and we were healed! We - every one of us – have strayed away like sheep. We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us!” (Isaiah 53:3-6 – TLB)

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

(1 Corinthians 15:54–55)

Sickness – healed.
Sorrow – carried away.
Sin – forgiven.
Death – conquered.

God has experienced and understands grief – he comes to us in our grief – he smashed grief forever.

I’m so grateful grief only sucks for a little while.

-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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Arrows

Arrows are everywhere right now. They’re in style. They’re cute. In fact, I have an arrow bracelet, a few arrow t-shirts and bags, a beautiful arrow painting, and an arrow tattoo.

Arrows might be vogue, but they are also very meaningful to me. They indicate direction, placement — they point the way.

Webster’s defines an arrow as: a slender, straight, generally pointed missile or weapon, designed to be shot at a specific target.

So, arrows also have a targeted purpose. However, in this day and age, we rarely use arrows anymore. Unless we are members of an archery club, or live in the bush and need them for survival, there’s just no need for them. None the less - arrows carry important significance for me. Here’s why.

As many of you know, our 17 yr. old son Caleb was instantly relocated to Heaven, after a car accident on July 14, 2009.

It absolutely was and still is beyond our belief.  Our hearts have a hole the size of Texas, and the pain is still very raw and real. Yet, we are basking in the unchanging love of God and depending on Him as we move forward to carry out His purposes.

Shortly after the accident, I was roaming through the house, as we girls do, and Rob was watching the movie ‘Prince Caspian’ on TV – I passed by the room at the very moment Susan, the oldest Chronicles of Narnia chick, was shooting her quiver full of arrows at the enemies surrounding them. She was shooting them so quickly, one right after the other, successfully contributing to the destruction of the enemy.

Susan had been given this quiver full of arrows, as a gift, from Aslan (the God figure) in the previous movie. These gifts were meant to be used as tools to help in times of need. The beautiful cinematography of that scene is forever etched in my mind. I watched as hundreds of arrows went flying through the sky in slow motion. As I saw that picture, all I could think of was the verses in Psalm 127:3-5:

 “As arrows are in the hand of the Lord, so are one’s children in their youth. Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them… for because of them, your enemies don’t stand a chance against you.”

My heart skipped a beat. Outraged, I literally yelled out to God, “But I have one less arrow God – my legacy – an arrow that I just knew was going to go far, is gone now – He was such a strong leader – I hate this!!” But the sweet Holy Spirit immediately reminded me of a few things. Some of the thoughts He shared were meant to personally help heal and encourage my broken heart and other thoughts were meant for the encouragement of those He knew I would be ministering to.

First, He reminded me that we are eternal beings.

We don’t end life when we leave this planet. God reassured me that Caleb was safe in Heaven and that he wasn’t just sitting around on a cloud somewhere. His earthly destiny was over for now, but Caleb is continuing his eternal destiny and will ever increase in his strengths there in Heaven, so by the time I get there, he will be leading in powerful ways beyond my imagination. What a comfort that was.

Second, He reminded me He has given me many arrows.

No just of birthright, but in our church and beyond, that I have been given the privilege and opportunity to pour into. There are young people and others who are targeted to destroy the enemy’s work for generations to come that will continue my legacy and His work.

Those words are powerfully imprinted on my heart and encourage me on this journey almost every day, because it is my greatest desire and passion to see this next generation go farther than ours, and carry the love, grace and ways of God to their generation!

And finally, God reminded me, that every single one of us, as His children, are His arrows.

Isaiah 49:2-3 says: 

“In the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver."

He said, “You’re my dear servant, through whom I will SHINE.” Wow! God has a specific destiny and purpose for which He created each of us – we are His kids – HIS ARROWS!!

As I mentioned earlier, there are several purposes for arrows, but typically, they are used for hunting & combat… to destroy an enemy. So, He, as the Creator and Chief Archer, is shaping and forming us into the arrows He desires.

He is positioning and setting our course, to be a part of the solution to hunt down & destroy the works of the enemy; every injustice that we see affecting and devastating the precious people in our beautiful world that He so dearly loves and died for.

God designed us to SHINE His light in the darkness that is destroying so many lives.

Bottom line – we are God’s arrows! He has carefully placed us in His quiver (His hands and heart) and He is strategically aiming us directly into the souls of humanity that so desperately need God’s love and grace. The good news is – He will SHINE through us no matter how broken or wobbly our arrows (lives) feel.

I often ‘feel’ incapable and inadequate to be used in strategic ways, yet even in my brokenness –He chooses to use me to help another thirsty, wounded soul.

Through these blogs, my intention is to simply share my life with you. And prayerfully, you will grab a thought or two from my story (& the stories of a few of my friends) that will give you the courage to surrender your life to God’s shaping, so that you will become the polished and strategic arrow He’s uniquely crafting you to be for His purposes and honor!

Concealed in His Quiver,

- Laura

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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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The BEST 3 Pre-Workout Foods

If you are like me, then you have probably experienced a workout with little to no energy.

It is one of the worst feelings an avid gym-goer can have. You know the feeling when you don’t even have enough energy to lift what you did a week ago.

I admit that I have rushed into a workout on an empty stomach. I mean, I am a busy individual…. aren’t we all? Mid-way through the workout, the dreaded “monkey jumped on my back.” My legs felt so weak, heavy and tired. I gradually became sluggish and completely depleted of energy. I set myself up for failure!

So in an effort to not let this happen to me again, I planned for the inevitable. I asked myself, what foods could I easily prepare and eat before a workout that will feed my muscles, provide quick energy and not weigh me down.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Eating before a workout prevents low blood sugar, which can lead to light-headedness and fatigue. If you fuel properly before workouts, you’ll be able to work out harder.

Below, I have listed my Top 3 Pre-Workout Foods that I have personally used to give me the fuel I need and to not go hungry during a workout. Hopefully you find the following foods helpful!

**Disclaimer: These are foods I personally enjoy and are a personal preference. Foods vary from person to person. Do not eat these foods if you have a food allergy with them. Consult your primary physician or doctor before eating these foods if you are unsure. ***

  • Banana

Bananas are fruits that you can carry with you pretty much anywhere. They are loaded with digestible carbohydrates and packed with potassium; which aids in maintaining nerve and muscle function, and enhances alertness. Bananas have natural sugars that will provide sustained energy for exercisers and are also rich in fiber. Try eating a medium banana with ½ cup of almond butter.

  • Oatmeal

When you are pressed for time and need sustained energy, try eating oatmeal. Oats are full of fiber, but not so much as to cause gas. They release carbohydrates into the bloodstream gradually. Oats also contain B vitamins, which help to convert carbohydrates into energy. Try eating a cup of oatmeal with honey, raisins and a few chopped nuts on top.

  • Fruit Smoothie

I must say that this is my favorite pre and post-workout food. I enjoy making one before doing a strenuous workout. If you make your fruit smoothie right, it can be a great source of carbohydrates and high-quality proteins. Protein doesn’t break down fast enough to be used as fuel for workouts. The carbs from fruit actually break down much quicker and the protein is used later to prevent muscle damage.


My Tropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe:

  • 1 scoop of high-quality whey protein
  • 1 handful of frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 handful of frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • And blend…

Expectations Versus Expectancy

“MY SOUL, WAIT YOU ONLY UPON GOD; FOR MY EXPECTATION IS FROM HIM.”

PSALM 62:5

It’s so easy to have unrealistic expectations in our relationships. Yet, I think it’s almost impossible to live without any expectations. As we learn how to put our expectancy in God, He will always fulfill our deep need for love AND will empower us to navigate our relationships without placing heavy expectations on people who will never be able to fulfill them! Especially when it comes to our children. We love them so much and we want the best for them but things don’t always go as planned.

I like most first time moms, had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I went from being a full-time doctor and working with Rob to get our church started, to the next day giving birth and becoming a full-time mommy. Boy was I in for a surprise when this little human couldn’t talk back to me, or tell me what he wanted. I had never even baby sat in my life! I really had to read books, learn skills, pray like crazy, cry a ton and rely on the wisdom of my own mom! For goodness sake, couldn’t God have sent a manual with each child?!

I had a lovely picture in my mind of feeding my baby and putting him down for a nap or to bed at night, that would allow Rob and I to enjoy much needed “alone” time; or I pictured having a majestic moment to get some task accomplished on my to do list.

But it wasn’t like that at all! Our first-born, Luke, didn’t sleep through the night until he was over a year old. Needless to say, I was constantly exhausted. In fact, I remember one night when Luke woke up, Rob looked at me and said, “I’ll pay you $1000 if you get up with him tonight!” And potty training was a whole other issue… it took forever! Why didn’t God just make potty training something that came by instinct?

My expectations of what being a mom looked like were constantly challenged.

When you have children, they are yours forever and you are attached heart and soul, which means you can easily get disappointed. Regardless of what expectations you start with going into parenthood, or have today, you will always have to stay in a place of laying down and surrendering those expectations to God and trusting him to help you navigate each stage and season so you can enjoy the parenting journey.

During my motherhood journey, there have been two main things that kept me sane, faith-filled, and enjoying my children and family in each season of life:

Scripture and friends. 

I had, and still have, scriptures for every single season and circumstance my kids are going through. Each day I take time to quote these scriptures and meditate on God’s faithful promises for my family.

  • Pregnancy: “Even from the womb he has called me by my name.” Isaiah 49:1

  • Babies/Toddlers: “And all my children shall be disciples, taught of the Lord, and great shall be their peace and undisturbed composure.” Isaiah 54:13

  • Teenagers: “Train up a child in the way he should go (in keeping with his individual gift or bent) and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

  • Adult Children: “To him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20-21

God’s Word reminds us that He has a wonderful plan for our kids. His unfailing promises will keep us strong when we are facing challenging times.

My dear friend, Katie Luce and I prayed weekly for our families. We saw one miracle after the other that we still pray together even today! There is nothing like the tenacious, love filled prayers of a mom.

So, my best motherly advice is to surround yourself with some faithful prayer warriors and PRAY, as you stand on God’s faithful promises.

Embrace each season with joyful expectancy, because before you know it, they will be graduating high school, graduating college or starting jobs, getting married, having children of their own... and thus the circle of life goes round and round. Savor the moments as you partner with God in training and loving your children along the way.

- Laura

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

Be Her Freedom

There was a Samaritan woman in the Bible who was living a pretty messed up life. One day she encountered Jesus at a well, and her whole world changed. Jesus accepted her in the middle of her bondage. He valued her in spite of her sin. He forgave her, loved her, and set her free to the core of her being; so much so, she recognized he was the Messiah.

He was the one she had heard about who could save her.

In her day, it was unheard of for Jews to associate with Samaritan’s. And for her personally, she picked a time of day to draw water where she was unlikely to encounter anyone. She didn’t want attention at the well. She just wanted to do her business there and be on her way. To her surprise, Jesus was there at the well resting. And not only was he resting, he wanted to carry on a very personal conversation with her. That was a divine appointment for her that day, a chance encounter with a strange man who turned out to be the Messiah. She was so excited about how JESUS set her FREE – she dropped her buckets and ran and told the entire village what Jesus had done for her.

The people were intrigued. They wanted to know for themselves if he was truly the Messiah as she said, so they went and found Jesus. In John 4:42 we see their response. 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.”

Can you believe it! ONE woman who got set free – set a whole village free!

In the same way, when we get FREE – we have the potential to set everyone around us FREE!

That’s because, free people – free people!

We might live thousands of years later, but we girls haven’t changed much. When something good happens in our lives, we can’t hold back from talking about it – proclaiming it – sharing it! In fact, it’s one of our best character traits – the gift of gab. Whether it’s a pair of shoes we found on sale, or our kids who won a swim competition, or how Jesus set us free in some area – we feel compelled to tell our friends!

There is absolutely nothing on earth more exciting or rewarding than getting free and then using our freedom story to help others get FREE! All around us are women, just like us, longing for freedom.

Perhaps they don’t even know they are in chains, they just don’t feel content or joyful. Perhaps they do acknowledge their pain, but they don’t know how to find healing. We are set free for HER – to BE HER FREEDOM!

God has a divine appointment for you here in this season.

He has something he wants to reveal to you, something personal, something that will cause you to experience the depths of his love and grace. God has a plan to set you free FROM all that is holding you back, and free TO live with joy and purpose.

SHE LIVES FREE! Just as the Samaritan woman did, let’s use our freedom story to bring others along so they too can find freedom. Please join me – let’s get free together and BE HER FREEDOM!

- Laura