The Opposite of Toxic


How many of you have seen articles like the following?

  • “10 Signs You are Toxic Parent and Your Children Will End Up in Counseling Because of It”
  • “5 Phrases You Should Absolutely Never Say to Your Child Unless You Want to Singlehandedly Ruin Their Life”
  • “You are the Worst at Parenting and Here is an Article that Lays Out Exactly Why You are Failing”

I’ve clicked on them. I’ve said/done some of the things in them. The natural conclusion is that I am ruining my kids and they would be better off elsewhere.

Except NOT.

I am far from perfect at this parenting thing. But aren’t we all? I have yelled at my children and immediately regretted it. I’ve bribed, I’ve stomped around like I was the child, I’ve cried… I’ve had some bad moments y’all.

I have even gone to counseling because I was struggling so much with feeling angry most of the time.

I am convinced that no matter who we are, if we look hard enough, we will find an article that lists one of our behaviors as toxic. And then what happens? We leave that place feeling defeated and hopeless. Every time we repeat that behavior, we beat ourselves up for it, wallow in our awfulness, work really hard at never doing it again…JUST TO DO IT AGAIN.

What a way to live.

Can we agree not to do this to ourselves anymore?

Instead of running to the internet, let’s run to Jesus. His words are far, FAR different from the ones we see in those negatively titled articles. Jesus absolutely will not make a list of our failures and shove them in our face. Instead, He speaks life and truth to us while showing us a better way.

When I look to Jesus, I’m able to use my worst moments to lead me to be a healthy parent. I find strength to stand in prayer and hand my anxieties over to Him. I take the responsibility off of my own shoulders and place it on His. The more I do this, the less often I find myself yelling out of frustration. I am grounded in who God has created me to be!

I still have moments. Just this week, I got frustrated and yelled at my girls. I hate it. But instead of going into a dark, deep, negative spiral about what a failure I am, I use it as a teaching moment.

My girls know 100% of the time that my anger is NOT THEIR FAULT. Because I tell them this! I repeat to them why I love them and list off the reasons of why I am so grateful for them. I remind them that certain behaviors are not appropriate for them to do, but that is never an excuse for mommy to yell at them. I can say to my children, “I’m feeling frustrated, so I’m going to have a moment to myself and pray to Jesus.”

And THEN, when they have an outburst of anger or respond inappropriately, I can lead them in healthy alternatives of how to handle their emotions. I can tell them that I understand how they feel, but that we are still responsible for how we react. Because I am leaning on Jesus to show me a better way to live, I get to lead my girls in a better way to live. 

Talk about empowering!

If you fear that you are living in a negative cycle, get help. Pray to Jesus. Talk to a friend. Sign up with a counselor. But know that there is HOPE.

Jesus is in the work of transforming lives. You don’t have to stay in the darkness because He is the Light! Live in the freedom that is found in following Him.

And friend, I’m with you. I’ll be here to encourage you and pray with you. You are not alone!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2


Adventures with My Best Friend

One of the things Eric and I have had in common throughout our marriage is our love for travel and exploration. We have often said we would rather have fewer “things” in exchange for the memories and experiences we share in traveling.

This was true when we first got married, and is even more true now that we have two children. I really like my husband and crave all the one on one time I can get with him! Our travels these days take quite a bit more planning, but the effort is always worth it.

Our very first trip together was for our honeymoon. We went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spent our week hiking, riding horses, and exploring Yellowstone National Park. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen!

Old Faithful
Faithful companions visiting Old Faithful.

For our one year anniversary, we took an extremely last minute trip to Canada. We flew into Main and then drove over the border into Quebec. It was quite the surprise when we discovered French was the official language! Our final destinations were Peggy’s Cove and Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables anyone?). Simply stunning!

Prince Edward Island
On the farm that inspired Anne of Green Gables in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

The following year we went to Colorado. Eric had a worship conference in Colorado Springs, so we piggy-backed on that and headed to Breckenridge. While in the area, we drove up Pike’s Peak (terrifying!) and saw the magnificent Red Rocks.

Colorado Vacation 075
All dressed up for a fancy fondue dinner in Breckinridge, Colorado.

Arizona was the first place we traveled that was warm. We got some amazing views of the Grand Canyon and were blown away by a huge meteor crater. If any of you decide to visit, make sure to wear closed toed shoes. They won’t let you hike the rim of the crater without them! I speak from experience here.

Grand Canyon 009
The Grand Canyon. Breathtaking!

Our fifth anniversary took us to Europe with our friends Seth & Meredith. We spent 10 days exploring Rome and Athens. So many wonderful memories! Unbeknownst to us, there were riots occurring in Greece while we were there. We accidentally ended up right in the middle of one! While it was disappointing we couldn’t explore all the locations we wanted in Athens, it was certainly memorable to be there in an important moment of their history.

Roman Coliseum
Visiting the Roman Coliseum with friends.

Then came children. Traveling has looked a bit different since then! We have enjoyed our family trips to Williamsburg and Disney World immensely, but there is always something special about getting a chance to be alone together.

When our second child was a little over a year old, I texted Eric saying how I longed to go to an all-inclusive resort in the middle of nowhere and do nothing. It’s a good thing I married the man I did, because we worked together to find a way to make it happen! We got a surprise destination deal on and found ourselves in Punta Cana of the Dominican Republic. This trip was huge for us. It’s easy to take your spouse for granted amidst the responsibilities of raising a family, and this vacation helped us make each other a priority. We have since vowed to make sure we always find a way to go somewhere just the two of us.

Waiting for dinner in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The very next summer we made it happen again. This time in Riviera Maya of Mexico. Beautiful beaches, gigantic swimming pool, no responsibilities, uninterrupted conversation, and fun with my hubby. What’s not to love?

With my handsome hubby exploring Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Last April we had a blast at the ARC Conference with some of the Daystar staff. Since we were already kid free, we decided to take advantage of the situation and spent a couple of days in Savannah, Georgia. This city is full of history and delicious food!

Our table was in the basement/cellar of this building. Such a neat experience!

Just last week we went on our first cruise together. You guys, I cannot tell you what this does for our relationship. We love our children and we love being in the ministry, but getting away, just the two of us, revives us for the next leg of our journey. We have seen how these trips strengthen our relationship and believe it is essential to make the nurturing of our marriage a priority.

Ready to embark on our cruise! We visited Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman.

We are already dreaming of our next trip. England perhaps? Where do you hope to travel in the future? If traveling isn’t your thing, how do you and your spouse find ways to connect and make each other a priority?

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

You require nothing, yet ask for everything.

On our own we are unable. We cannot muster up salvation with human hands. The only work You require is to simply believe. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Human effort accomplishes nothing. We could wear ourselves out for the trying, the working, the earning of this free gift you offer. Yet, anyone who believes has eternal life.1 It is not reserved for the holy, the good, the kind, the successful, the perfect ones. It is intended for the broken, the needy, the searching, the desperate ones.2

So nothing is required, but You ask for everything.

With this belief comes surrender. To believe in You is to set aside our preconceived notions of what our hearts desire, for our hearts are no longer our own. They belong to You. Those previous desires melt away as our souls cannot get enough of You. We want what You want. With our belief in You, a transformation occurs.3 We cannot think the same way anymore, even if we tried. For we have seen something better, something true, something real. We have new-found purpose and meaning and now nothing else matters except to accomplish Your will. It is an undoing as our bodies turn inside out. We are forever changed, a new creation you might say.4

It’s the sort of process that isn’t really noticeable all of the time. We have massive growth spurts, but most of the lasting growth happens with consistent pruning over time. It doesn’t hurt, really, for we see the flowers blooming as a result.5 This gradual, continued effort of giving everything to the One who requires nothing turns us into more than we could have ever hoped by our own striving. We aren’t the same anymore. One day, we look in the mirror and hardly even make out those old details of who we used to be. Did that person really exist? She did. And we realize every bit of the process was worth it. And then we wonder…if He has brought me this far, where will He take me next?6

Sometimes, I wish the pruning was a bit more immediate. Can’t You just lob off this whole branch? Is it really worth saving? But to You, it is. And deep down I know this slow, steady process of cyclical surrender and growth allows me to move forward, whereas I might topple over if I tried to make it all happen at once.

Your way is better than mine.7 I see that again. You are not slow, but patient.8 You love the process as much as You love the result.

So here I am again. Surrendering. Believing. This is all You require. It isn’t much, but it is everything. I don’t want my everything anymore. I want Yours.


A Time to Meet

A Time to Meet

Have you ever thought about the fact that the King of the Universe invites us to speak to Him personally?

How would you feel if you were given the opportunity to grab coffee one-on-one with one of your favorite celebrities? Or a chance to receive personal training by the person you admire most in your job/craft/hobby/passion? Wouldn’t we drop everything for such an opportunity?

Our prayer life with God is like that… but taken to the next level. It’s more than that once-in-a-lifetime 30-minute coffee appointment, more than a 2-hour training session. It’s a lifetime of Him whispering a personal invitation to meet with Him, talk with Him, and get to know Him on a personal level. 

Beyond the ability to have a conference with the King to get His perspective on the latest politics, we can know who He is. We can dine at His table, receive His counsel, express our frustrations, and make known our requests all while He seeks to know us better in return.

I was once told that God seeks our friendship. Isn’t that such a beautiful element of prayer? God didn’t create humans simply to leave us to figure out our lives on our own. Rather, just as He invites us to spend time with Him, He longs to be invited into the inner workings of our lives. He is ready to get in the mess with us. He wants to be the place you turn for a vent session. He desires that you express the deepest needs of your heart to Him. He looks forward to every second you carve out of your day to just check in and say “hello”. 

God is all-knowing. Do we really have to tell Him our needs for Him to know them? Of course not. He knows it all before we even utter a sound. But doesn’t it make it so much more meaningful that we should entrust it to Him? There is a difference between knowing about a thing, and being included in a thing. 

He sees us pushing, striving, running, and seeking advice from all sources but Him. What He wouldn’t give for us to turn to Him so that He can lift our burdens and tell us how much He loves us.

God isn’t a moody taskmaster we have to tip-toe around to keep from setting Him off. He invites us to spend time with Him because He cares and He wants to ease our pain and suffering. The more we meet with Him, the less weight we end up carrying.

Don’t ignore His request. Just like you would if that celebrity wanted to meet with you, give Him priority above all else. Take a moment and thank Him for His invitation. Mark your meeting time on your calendar and show up early. You won’t regret it.

“Look! I Stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20

Because You Prayed

Because You Prayed

When I started “waking up” out of my postpartum depression, I turned to the Psalms.

I had been struggling with the concept of prayer and feeling like God wasn’t listening to my desperate pleas. Upon diving into the Psalms, I discovered that King David had quite the opposite view:

  • “The Lord will answer when I call to him.” 4:3
  • “I bring my requests to [God] and wait expectantly.” 5:3
  • “The Lord will answer my prayer.” 6:9

I should have been encouraged, but I wasn’t at first. Of COURSE God would answer David’s prayers. Wasn’t he known as a man after God’s own heart? Surely he had some sort of golden ticket when it came to prayer.

But these sorts of statements are littered throughout the Psalms… even when David hadn’t acted quite like the golden child. Even after he had committed adultery and subsequently, murder, in an attempt to cover up his actions. Even then, he still knew God not only heard his prayers, but He would answer them:

“Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalm 86:6-7

God answered David’s prayers time and time again. He gave battle strategies, rescued David in times of danger, forgave him and comforted him when he was at his worst. God blessed David. 

David wasn’t the only one who saw his prayers answered. Here are just a few more examples:

  • In the heat of battle, Joshua sought God for help. “…in front of all the people of Israel” he prayed a bold prayer for the sun and moon to stand still. God answered this request and the nation of Israel was victorious. Joshua 10:12-14
  • King Hezekiah was threatened by the king of Assyria. In short, Israel was being taunted and God was being mocked by this outsider who believed quite highly in himself. King Hezekiah responded by desperately praying for God to intervene. God’s response? “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed…” God Himself protected and defended the city! Isaiah 37:21-37
  • Elijah put his reputation on the line when he asked God to do what Baal could not: create a fire for a sacrifice out of thin air. Even though the alter had been drenched in water, “immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood the stones, and the dust. it even licked up all the water in the trench!” 1 Kings 18:38
  • Daniel pleaded on behalf of his people while they were in exile in Babylon. In response, God sent an angel with a message: “The moment you began praying, a command was given.” Daniel 9:23 

There are so many more examples in the Bible of God hearing and answering prayers. What I love about these particular moments is the glaring fact that all of these things happened as a result of the prayer itself. There cannot be an answer if we do not make the request in the first place.

God hears our prayers. Don’t give up praying even when it feels like He isn’t listening. Keep praying even when it doesn’t make sense. 

  • What battles could be won…
  • What lives could be changed…
  • What mountains could fall…
  • What miracles could happen…

…because you prayed?

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.” Psalm 17:6