And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (LUKE 2:10)

PEACE … PEACE … that’s what Christmas is all about?!?

Christmas seems to start earlier every year. Christmas lights are put up in November. Holiday music starts playing on the telephone hold lines before Thanksgiving. We actually take our family “Christmas” picture BEFORE Halloween!

Christmas itself seems to revolve around the decorating, baking, grocery shopping, holiday clothes, kids’ programs, vacations, and our increasingly hectic schedules. We all face increasing pressure to participate, perform, and be a part of the Christmas season.

Would you believe that the advent calendar sets aside the first Sunday of December as the day of LIGHT, The second Sunday as the day of PEACE, the third Sunday as the day of JOY, and the fourth Sunday as the day of LOVE? These words—light, peace, love, and joy—represent what we are supposed to focus on at Christmas.

Humankind has messed it all up!

Do you know the origin of the word BEDLAM? Believe it or not, it comes from the word “Bethlehem.” In 1247, a monastery was started in a section of London known as Bishopsgate. It was named St. Mary of Bethlehem. The inhabitants of that time had their own dialect and speech, and when the word “Bethlehem” was spoken it came out BEDLAM.

Under Henry the VIII, the monasteries were dissolved and the crown took over the running of the church in 1547. St. Mary of Bethlehem in 1547 was turned it in to a home for the mentally deranged, an insane asylum. The name attached to the noise and confusion of the asylum was BEDLAM.

Since that time, bedlam has been linked with CONFUSION and chaos. This illustrates the way humankind has perverted the original purpose of the coming of Jesus. He came to Bethlehem not to being Bedlam, but to bring peace on earth.

How to Decrease the Bedlam and Increase the Joy this Christmas — G.I.F.T

Is your home filled with Bedlam? Are you breathless and harried and rushing to the mall in search of just the right gift? If so, I want to help you make the most out of the Christmas season. I want to share with you how to decrease the bedlam/stress and increase the joy of Christmas.

I thought I would start with where every Christmas Holiday ultimately ends up, with a gift.


Get into the right attitude. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

You say: “It doesn’t feel like Christmas!”

Choose to participate in Christmas.

Don’t let the season dictate your attitude: YOUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES YOUR ALTITUDE


Invest yourself in something.

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Baby Jesus was the greatest gift of all. Jesus never gave anyone physical gifts … but He gave Himself.


Focus on a FOUR WAY WIN. Body /Mind/ SOUL/ SPIRIT

“4 WAY WIN = Sustainable LONG Term Personal Change”


In life … We don’t get what we WANT. We get what we ARE


  1. Check your priorities.
  2. Be selective with your time.
  3. Allow other people to make their own decisions about the holidays.
  4. Have realistic expectations to live within your means.



“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)

When you want to ring your kid’s neck, or throw out the entire recipe for famous plum pudding, or shred every ribbon on every gift under the tree, or grab the Christmas tree and shake it when the strand of lights that is burnt out is the very first one you put on, or when your sister-in-law wails “I don’t want a turkey … I want a goose!” I say simply smile and give her one!


I pray your Christmas season is filled Joy!


You are wonderful! Your unique ‘one of a kind’ life is important to those around you and to God.  No one can replace you. No one has lived your experiences or seen the world as you do.

But “… the only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body” (Rom. 12:3-5).

Simply put – as women we identify with each other. We see ourselves in other’s stories, struggles, sacrifices, and solutions. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Being part of a community connects our strengths, resources, and callings by combining them into a sisterhood of encouragement, which elevates all of us to our highest personal potential!

When a sisterhood of women from all walks of life gathers together, we create a new identity for women of faith.

Each year I am blessed to be part of an amazing conference—The Girlfriends Conference. Our goal is women inspiring women to live the life God has created for only them. We spend months planning the conference, and we feel the theme is an important part of creating the atmosphere we want every woman who walks in the door to experience. The theme for 2016 is “I AM HER.”

This theme is very personal to me. I AM HER allows me to see a part of myself in every woman. And I see a part of each of you in me! We are reflections of our Creator; we are reflections of each other. We should be able to look at each other and see who we really are … women of God uniquely purposed and designed with our individual strengths to be combined together energized to carry out His will!

With my deepest affection and love, I want to personally invite you to attend I AM HER, #GFCONF2016 in Miami, Florida. It’s no secret that now is a time when women’s strengths are urgently needed in their homes, their workplace, their communities, and in the world. I AM HER wasn’t created just for me, or just for the women in Miami. It was created for every amazing woman of God, it was created for YOU.

I’m especially excited about the amazing guests we have for this year. I believe we need to hear from others so we can Grow In God! I AM HER will feature Maria Durso, Holly Wagner, DawnChere Wilkerson, John Gray, and musical guest Tasha Cobbs! I believe in the potential that resides within every woman, within every GIRLFRIEND – within YOU!

Girlfriends events are sponsored by TRINITY CHURCH in Miami, Florida.

I can still, very clearly, remember the day my youngest son, Taylor got in the car and drove to his first day of his last year of high school! This was the last “first day of school” for me. No more shopping for school supplies, backpacks, or lunch boxes. At 18 years old, he looked so handsome in his red, navy, and khaki school uniform. I kissed him, told him that he had brought me more joy in life than I could describe … and felt so overwhelmed with God’s providence. I have been so blessed to have four incredible boys.

That day I entered into the transition in life that bridges motherhood to the “empty nest.” As I watched him drive away, I wondered, “What am I supposed to do now?”

Stepping into the unknown is always scary … and always demands more from me than I ever think I can give. It made me think about a story:

Have you heard about the frog that was born at the bottom of a well? He thought life couldn’t get any better till one day he looked up and saw daylight. Climbing up to investigate he was amazed to find a large pond and he quickly jumped in to enjoy his newfound opportunity. Going further, he discovered a lake that was even bigger. When eventually he came to the ocean and all he could see was water, it dawned on him just how limited his thinking had been! He had believed that everything he needed for life was down inside that well, but in fact, that little well was only a drop in the bucket compared to all that was out there for him to enjoy!

Wouldn’t you like to step out in faith, experience new depths in Him and go where you’ve never been before? Maybe you are living today in your own little “well”—reluctant to leave your comfort zone, settling for a limited and safe existence while God has rivers deep enough “to swim in.” Remember, the enemy will do everything he can to keep you focused on your background, your lack of formal education, your appearance, and your limited resources.

It doesn’t matter whether you are short of money, people, energy, or time. When God invites us to step out into our destiny, He will always challenge us with a vision that is greater than our present resources! Fear cannot limit our vision, because when God is our source, His supply is UNLIMITED! One idea from Him, just one, can change your life and the lives of others. He has great things in store for you today – so start thinking outside the box!

I figured out what to do by the way. I went back to school, earned my master’s degree, and I am on track to earn my doctoral degree. It is NEVER too late to MOVE FORWARD.

That handsome young man from the beginning of this post married a beautiful young woman this year. Now they are starting out on their own journey toward more than they can imagine.

Now it’s your turn to MOVE FORWARD. He will meet you in tomorrow! Life in on our hands … He has given us the power to choose. God’s Will is that all of us step into the destiny that He has designed for us! HIS WILL IS OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY.


The first half of my Mother’s Day post dealt with Marching over Painful Memories. Part two focuses on two more lessons motherhood has taught me. The first is:

M.inimize O.bstacles every M.oment

It is always too soon to quit!

“Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us.” 2 Tim 2:13

Big shots are only little shots’ that kept on shooting! Keep going.

Rich and I have been married over 40 years. 40 YEARS! People have asked me, how have you stayed married and not gotten divorced?  The answer:  We didn’t get divorced.

We did not talk about divorce.  We never really considered it an option. Here is the secret to a long happy marriage—STAY married. The same goes with life. Don’t give up on your business, your dream for success, your dream for health.

God blesses us to be a blessing. What prayer are you praying for? Instead of praying with a motivation of ‘ME,’ pray from this question: If God answers this prayer through me, who will I bless with the answer?

The secret to being a happy Christian is caring for others and doing for others. It’s not a coincidence that MOM’s are tireless when it comes to their children. They will move any mountain to help their child. That’s the same secret for all of our lives.

TRUE HAPPINESS comes in caring for others more than ourselves.

Once I asked one of my sons how he could handle all the pain out on the football field. I watched him get hit over and over.  He looked at me and instantly replied, “Oh mom, when my team is winning nothing hurts!”

Ah! Obstacles are minimized when a winning effort is underway. When we are working hard, pushing through to win the prize, we discover that obstacles are overcome.

Minimize your pain by doing for others!

M.ake O.pportunities M.atter

Opportunity is everywhere! Abundance is the nature of the universe. All of us have opportunities. We choose every day.

I drive by a property every day that I could have purchased at a low price. I remember the day I drove over and walked around. But I said “Nope. I am not going to buy this lot.” Today when I drive by I see that someone else saw the same lot and built a luxury condo. They saw opportunity where I said “nope.”

The difference between what I am and what I want to be is what I do!

I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.” Phil 3:13-14

M O M’s to MAKE IT!

  • March Over painful Memories

  • Minimize Obstacles every Moment

  • Make Opportunities Matter

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

To get started pray right now:

“Father, I need your help. I let go of yesterday. Forgive me for not trusting you with my life and my future. I let go of all my plans, and I choose to step into obedience for your plan for me … beginning right now.”


“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

BE ENCOURAGED – Happy Mother’s Day!



It’s Mother’s Day weekend! Have you planned how you will honor your Mom this week?

Being a mother is not an easy job. In some ways it is often thankless, dirty, difficult, back-breaking work. But it IS the MOST incredibly rewarding gift a woman can ever have!

1471316_10202036143798872_166153230_nMy four sons are all adults now, but through their growing up years I learned many power principles which kept me motivated. This week I am sharing three important lessons to encourage you.

M.arch O.ver painful M.emories

You can’t change yesterday!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Cor 5:17-18

Believe it or not I didn’t want to be a mom. I wasn’t even interested. When I was 16 years old, I remember shouting at my mother, “I never want to be like you!” Kids, cooking, and housework were beyond boring to my teenage perspective of life.

A career without domestic home responsibilities was what I envisioned for my future. But then after 8 years of marriage, I came to discover that my husband and I needed a family. So I stepped into motherhood at 27 years old when our first son, Jonfulton, was born. Being a mom turned out to be the most surprising, greatest challenge of my life. Until I experienced it, I had NO idea what an enormous commitment parenting would require.

Within six years we had 2 sons and I was settling into motherhood when my third son, Graham, came along. He was born C-section and premature. He had a rough start, and then when he was six months old he became critically ill with spinal meningitis.1 Newborn

I rushed him into the emergency room at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and was told immediately by the medical staff that Graham had died en-route. The pediatric intensive-care medical team immediately began emergency measures to resuscitate baby Graham.

I numbly stood watching through the glass window of the trauma center as the doctors urgently worked to cut off his little pajamas, so they could slash open his carotid artery, his wrists, and ankles to insert life support tubing.

The lead physician worked intensely, applying pressure to his little chest while breathing into Graham’s tiny lungs. Minutes went by, but then—Graham breathed a deep breath. He was alive.

Although the prognosis remained grim, and Graham was hospitalized for another two weeks, miraculously he was released to step into his life which was forever altered. Through the resuscitation process his brain had been cut off from oxygen for too long and he had suffered permanent brain damage.

Life changed drastically at that moment.

WHY did this happen?

It seemed impossible that this had happened to me. Why did I have to become the mother of a handicapped child? Why did God allow my child and my family to suffer forever with this horrible reality? I was angry. I was enraged. I had NO plan in my future for dealing with the burdens of a handicapped baby. I was angry at myself – for being angry. But most of all I was furious at God.

I was stuck. I was stuck in my rage. I was stuck in my grief over the loss of my identity as the mom of ‘healthy normal kids.’

Life got harder. My negative attitude seeped into every corner of my life. Parenting became impossible. My marriage was toxic. Years were rolling by, but inside I was rotting away in my pit of personal pain.

One particularly hard afternoon, while Graham was fully engulfed in one of his terrible, frequent, out of control emotional tantrums, it hit me that all this trauma was even harder on little Graham than it had been on me. Graham needed every ounce of support I could muster if he was going to ever walk, talk, and function.

I realized that God had not gotten ‘mixed up’ when Graham was born and He had not given me the wrong boy. Out of all the women on earth, I was the right mom for this struggling child. God had chosen me to be Graham’s mom. That meant I had what it took, in me, to parent this child through his heartache and struggles.

There is much more to this story, but until I ‘let go of yesterday’ I could not USE the pain of the entire situation to move forward in my life again. Until I fully accepted this principle:


I did not have the strength to March Over painful Memories. I had to LET GO of my old expectations, plans, and vision of how my life was going to look to be able to embrace the vision of my new family—including our special child. As long as I stayed paralyzed in my coma of grief, hanging on to the “old me,” my life was going to be frozen in emotional toxic waste.

Today, if you are trapped in the turmoil of life’s unexpected challenges, your first step to moving forward is to let go. Forgive everyone and everything that has let you down. Next, look up. God knows exactly where you are and what you are facing. He will give you the strength to march over your painful memories and into His big plan for your blessings, but it won’t happen until you are willing to move.

To get started pray right now:

“Father, I need your help. I let go of yesterday. Forgive me for not trusting you with my life and my future. I let go of all my plans, and I choose to step into obedience for your plan for me … beginning right now. ”


“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord.’I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jer. 29:11

More M.O.M.s for you are coming this week!

BE ENCOURAGED – Happy Mother’s Day!


The heavy wooden beam of the cross hung across His lacerated shoulders as the procession of the condemned Christ and his executioners began its slow journey from the Roman jail to his crucifixion site. With enormous blood loss and in shock, Jesus stumbled and fell.

When they arrived at Golgotha, the beam was placed on the ground and Jesus was thrown backward with His entire body pressed against the wooden stake. The soldiers stretched his arms against the cross beam.

The Roman soldier then grabbed his arm, and dug into Jesus wrist to locate the depression at the top of his hand. Once the executioner was satisfied he had found the spot, he then drove a heavy, square, wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. He moved to the other side and repeated the action.

I imagine Jesus, turning His head toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it. I imagine Jesus seeing the mallet, the nail, and the soldier’s hand. I also believe that Jesus saw something else. Through the eyes of scripture we can see what those who were there that Friday could not see. But Jesus knew it was there.

Colossians 2:14 states,

He canceled the record that contained the charges against usHe took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.

Between Jesus hand and the wooden cross was a list. A long list. A list of our mistakes: our lusts, our lies, greedy moments and prodigal years. A list of our sins.

Dangling from the cross are the bad choices from last year and the years before. There in broad daylight, for all of heaven to see, was the comprehensive eternal list of all our evil thoughts, wicked actions, and failures.

The list however cannot be read. The words cannot be deciphered. The mistakes are covered. The sins are hidden. Jesus’ hands hide those at the top; His blood runs down the Cross and covers every sin down the list.


His left foot was pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each foot. The searing agony of the nail tore through the nerves and bone of the feet. A sign was nailed to the top of the cross that read King of the Jews. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over His muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.

Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get a short breath. Tissue was torn from His lacerated back every time He moved up and down against the rough timber. Jesus felt a deep crushing pain in His chest and the chill of death crept through his tissue. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry. “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

The Roman soldier made doubly sure Jesus was dead by driving his sword through Christ’s ribcage, piercing the heart, and immediately blood and water drained from his wounded body. Thereby Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart.

Envision Jesus on that cross. Take a moment to see yourself there. It was my sins and your sins which nailed Jesus to the Cross. But now —See those sins nailed to the Cross. Done. Forgiven.

Why did He do it? Because he loved us, he valued us that much.

BUT – What does it mean today for us?

Life is Not Futile

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

Failures are Not Fatal

For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds, and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:12 ISV

Death is Not Final

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Does your life feel futile? Doesn’t have to.

Do some of your failures seem fatal? They aren’t.

Does the grave appear to be the final stop? According to Christ, your death is just the start of the something great.

There is a truth greater than all the losses and sorrows of life. And it can be discovered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through his death, your life has purpose and meaning. You are forgiven and loved by a Savior who died for you. And an empty tomb proclaims that death does not have the final word.

Peace where there should be pain. Confidence in the midst of crisis. Joy in place of tears.

What’s so GOOD about “Good FRIDAY”? Because of that supernatural Friday, we have the daily power for abundant living now … with eternal life as a bonus. WOW—mind blowing! Wonderful! TGIF


What are you going to do to celebrate this wonderful gift? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Last year, around Thanksgiving, my husband got an invitation to the White House Christmas party in the mail. It may be a bit of an understatement to say I was a little excited! Rich had been to the White House and had met other presidents, but this was my first time. I immediately started planning. Plane tickets, hotel, a new outfit, I was going to meet the President and the First Lady!

Not long before we were supposed to leave for Washington, Rich started to suffer from back pain. He ended up in the hospital and couldn’t make the trip. Let the DRAMA begin! The invitation was in Rich’s name. I was the unnamed “And Guest.” On the bottom of the invitation, written very clearly, it stated “Non-Transferable.”


I really wanted to go, but my name was not on the invitation. My sister, Kathie, came to the rescue. She emailed and explained my situation to the President’s team. She told them I wanted to come anyway … in fact, could I bring along my son, Rich, Jr.? He has the same name, after all! They sent back an email saying there was no problem, but we didn’t get a new invitation with the new name. Time was ticking, and we couldn’t decide. I had not been invited, Rich Sr. was the name on the invitation, would we get in?

When Rich Jr. and I arrived at the White House, we handed our invitation and ID to the guard at the gate. He looked at them, at his list, and let us in! I was able to walk through that gate under my husband’s authority. (I walked quickly in case the guard changed his mind.) I was covered with authority—covered with his name, with his credibility, because of his works, efforts, and accomplishment we were covered. To think we almost missed the best Christmas party ever because I wasn’t sure I was covered.

My experience at the White House reminds me of a story in the New Testament. This is a story written 2,000 years ago, but it has truth for my life today. The story I’m referring to appears in Luke 7:1-10. A centurion’s servant, valued highly (cared about) by his master, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. So Jesus went with them. The centurion had such faith in healing because he had faith in Jesus.

The centurion’s entire understanding of life was built on authority. He was covered with authority. The centurion recognized authority when he saw it, and he had faith in Jesus’ authority.

Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authoritywith soldiers under me… (Luke 7:6-8)

Our faith is only limited by our willingness to be covered in Jesus authority. Jesus is all authority; He is our covering. I told you about the President, but I have needed more than even his authority in my life. I was covered when I stood in an emergency room with my dead son. I was covered when I started back to college at 57 years old. I was covered when I stood beside my father’s beside moments after he died.

I am covered every moment of every day when I can’t figure out what to do and when I am overwhelmed.

God sent us an invitation to the greatest party ever! The invitation comes through His Son Jesus. The question is whose authority is covering us? Are we resting in what image we have, or status, or family, or past performance? Is our faith amazing Jesus? WE ARE COVERED. It takes faith, but we have an invitation to attend the most amazing party ever!


Reply to this post in the form below and and I will send you instructions on how to get your free copy of the Girlfriends 2014 magazine. The magazine is full of great information about being a woman Covered by God’s Grace!

In 1987, my life changed forever. My husband Rich and I were the blessed and proud parents of three healthy sons. That summer, our six-month-old, Graham, almost died from spinal meningitis. He was diagnosed shortly before for a simple ear infection, but his condition got worse and worse, so I rushed him to the hospital.

He stopped breathing on the way there. “This is not happening,” was all I could think as I watched the medical professionals fight to resuscitate him. They were able to re-start his heart, but Graham had suffered permanent brain damage.

This was the beginning of our journey as parents of a special needs child. Everything shifted in our lives. In an instant, we went from what was normal to a challenge every day for the rest of our parenting lives.

Graham’s behavior as he developed was violent and erratic. At four years old, he would run down the street screaming and tearing his clothes off. In church he would attack other children. At home, he would bring big knives into our bedroom while we were sleeping. For everyone’s safety, we had to install special locks all over the house.

Our lives were upside down.

It was impossible to take Graham to a restaurant or the grocery store because of his out-of-control rages.

I wasn’t ready for this, I didn’t want this.

God had volunteered me for it. God had to stand firm in my life because I was so angry. I asked Him, Why did this happen to me? What’s the purpose? How could this be your will? Sometimes, God doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to. But He stepped in at the point of our weakness and gave us the strength we needed to parent Graham.

Graham is now 26 years old. God has done a progressive miracle in his life, and he has grown more that I would ever have thought possible in those early, frustrating years. He has also brought a compassion to the hearts of every member of our family, a compassion we probably could not have learned in any other way.

I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was having a child of mine become permanently less than what I expected. But that “worst” thing turned out to be the very thing that propelled me to my destiny—and built me into the person I am now. We are all better people for having Graham in our lives.

Our background has given us an opportunity to share our experience, and the ways God has worked through it, with other parents of special needs children. Rich and I are working on a new book for parents and family members of special needs children. We hope our experiences with Graham can help other families see what a blessing adversity can be.

We were lucky enough to appear on a recent Joyce Meyer program and share about our journey with Graham. Click here: Raising Special Needs Children to go to the video.