3 Ways to Suck It Up When Things Go Wrong

I’m reading, “No More Faking Fine,” by Esther Fleece. In one chapter, she talks about being told to, “suck it up,” during a fragile and difficult time in her life. I have experienced a similar wording. To me, those words represented their backs turning toward me and their feet walking away when I most needed friends. Situations do occur when you have no choice, but to suck it up.

A situation may require you to not be you. You may be in a situation where faking fine is the only option. Without an outlet, faking fine will kill you.

Here are three ways to fake fine that has worked with me:

  1. Connect with friends:  Find a couple of friends you can talk to, hang out with, or do Bible Studies with so you can unload, laugh, and have someone on your side. Faking fine leaves you in isolation, blaming yourself, and binge eating. When you connect, choose healthy places to eat that won’t tempt you to dig into high calorie foods to bring you comfort. Stay away from online or real life shopping situations if you are tempted to do retail therapy. Have friends hold you accountable for your actions.
  2. Get into exercise and the outdoors. Self-discipline will grow you spiritually through regular exercise. Walking through the woods or in the desert will bring you peace. Use those moments to talk to God about how you are not fine. Read some Bible verses and pray. I run and it helps to shake off frustration, diverting my emotions to my feet.
  3. Find a creative outlet. A friend paints. It brings her peace and helps her cope. Painting, writing, building, etc., are wonderful therapeutic options. Watch movies that make you cry. Read books that challenge your static thinking. Do something creative that challenges your abilities.

If you are faking fine in your marriage, seek out a marriage counselor. You should not be faking fine with your spouse. He or she should be the one person you are you with, and able to shake off the day at the front door, like mud from your boots. Home should always be a place of love; a retreat away from the world where faking fine is sometimes the norm.

Upcoming Book Discussion: Fish Tank Startups

TRC Magazine is having a book discussion on Kevin Cullis’, “Fish Tank Startups.” I met Kevin at the 2016 Hackathon at WorldVenture. His heart is to help empower someone with biblical business principles to start their own business. Besides Arizona’s S.C.O.R.E., I don’t know many who have a ministry to help people get out of the rut and start a business to help make ends meet.

I’ll be doing the book discussion. Kevin may be present in the chat area. Join us on Friday, February 3 at 4 PM MST here.

New Book Review: No More Faking Fine

“The beautiful nature of lament is that it has a beginning and an end. No one is meant to live forever in grief and sorrow, yet without it, our life loses all meaning and our sense of immeasurable joy that is intended for our journey. Without lament, there is no joy.” Pg. 15, No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece.

The book arrived in the mail. I am always interested in books that help an individual develop intimacy with God. This appealed to me because, in my own lament, so many chose to shuffle into their generational comfort instead of being a true friend. Phrases like, “I don’t want to hear it,” followed by absolute disdain for the pain I was feeling pushed me into isolation.

In healthy community, we are meant to share the burden together, not silence the hurt, cram it down into the dark secret spots of your heart, and suffer indefinitely because it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. Church, in my mind, has always been a symbol of community, of family. It hasn’t always been that way for me though.

I will write up an interview of this book in the next few weeks. Because it was mailed late to me, I get a few weeks past the January 31 deadline to write it up.

If you need to talk, you can message me on social media or by email. I always respond. 

Book Review: Shaken #TimTebow


Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow is a book for a seeker, and can be a great book for a seeker not into football.

Yes, (gasp), I am not into football, and it is frustrating to me not to be able to delete the NFL app off of my phone. I had heard about Tim Tebow even as a non-football person. He trended on social media all the way from John 3:16 to taking a knee and causing people to either love or hate him. So I agreed to review this book to see if Tim Tebow was more than just social media hype and was blown away.

Here are some highlights:

  • His parents were missionaries.
  • John 3:16 written in blacking on Tim Tebow during a play caused 90 million searches on Google to find out about John 3:16.
  • His book focused on the kids in his organization and how their faith impacted him.
  • Scripture is peppered throughout.
  • He always brings it back to God.
  • It’s a pep talk with delightful pockets of deep thought.

He’s a very positive person. It was difficult for me to comprehend though what it is like to go through losing a job in the NFL when most of us are struggling paycheck to paycheck and don’t have anything to fall back on if we lost our jobs. His perspective on the press and how difficult it was for him to deal with the negative and the sometimes confining aspect of being a public figure made me appreciate him more. We need more positive role models in the NFL. The way he uses his resources and time to reinvest in the people in our communities is refreshing. Tebow reminded me that something as well-known as John 3:16 in the Christian world is not as well-known in the secular world.

Shaken tells the story of Tim Tebow’s faith, his work, and his story on a level that is easy to digest and non-judgmental. The struggle to make the team and run his career is real. Tebow talked about having a Circle of Trust which inspired me, as a mentor on social media, to also have one. My group was re-named to remind me of the responsibility entrusted to me. Every person should consider a “Circle of Trust.” We all aspire to greater things, but without someone who has permission to speak truth in our lives, we will fail because of temptation. Busyness would keep us from digging into the Bible to refresh ourselves and keep the foundation of our faith strong without an accountability partner.

So, for someone new to the faith or inquiring, Shaken is a great read.

*Early copy of this book given by the publisher to review*


3 Ways to Really Listen

15039714_10208878571213823_5551806829554199270_oA new book arrived in the mail from a publicist company. I had been looking forward to it. Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Part way through chapter one I am both ecstatic and defensive.  How do we really listen online and serve in this other world?

Listen Love Repeat talks about heart drops:

“A heart drop is a concept my husband and I learned from our small group leader, Michael. It’s when a person, either directly or indirectly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart.” (page 15)

This is what I’ve been trying to practice way before this book was published. Heart drops happen online, too. If you want to know what to get someone for Christmas, a birthday, or even a wedding, friend them or follow them on social media. You can discover a whole world about your  new friend by closely following their likes, dislikes, photos, and statuses. The book made me defensive, too. Shortly into it, I am already slapping my forehead in exasperation. On page 17, the book says:

“Our culture is obsessed with self,” it says, and this is true. All one has to do is see the countless amounts of bathroom photos of ourselves. It continues, “We post pictures of ourselves online. What we’re eating. What we’re doing. We’re focused on our schedules, our relationships. At every turn we seem to care about only one thing: ‘What’s in it for me?'” 

Sure, I’m only a bit into this book. The book may point out what I am going to point out now: Those pictures of ourselves, what we eat, what we’re doing, our schedule, and our relationships are bridges to conversation, especially with others who don’t believe in Isa. In our face-to-face world, we are constantly talking about this: our books, our life, what we’re eating, what we’re quilting, etc. Online community is the same way. However, we can get self-absorbed just as we can offline. Technology is just the mirror reflecting how we are in private. So how do we do other-centered living in our new culture since the online world is here to stay and constantly evolving?

There are three ways you can listen to those “heart drops” online:

  • Let them know you are praying for them in private message, text, or comment when you see a status online that is a cry for help, a prayer request, or someone struggling with something. Silently lurking online and praying for them is like someone asking you a question on the phone and you nod in answer. They can’t see that nod. If you want to build relationships with people online and be other-centered, let them know you are praying for them. It shows you care.
  • Live Out Loud. If you spend anytime in the Bible, you know that we aren’t to live in a bubble, ever fearful of letting people into our social media. On the other hand, we should still be discerning. There are real dangers online especially for teenagers. Let your social media reflect who you are in private. Let people see how you live to illustrate what you believe. Go ahead and post what you eat, about your relationships, your favorite books or movies, etc. I would suggest every other status be a question to ask of others on your social media, like what are you having for dinner? If we didn’t talk about our favorite books, books like this one would not sell. Our messages in ministry would not circulate. Show, and sometimes tell, how you are living out your faith.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to what people post about what they like or don’t like, what they read, favorite places to go, bucket lists, and favorite restaurants, etc. Gift them with something they would like from listening to their online “heart drops.”

My final review will be posted on another website.

You Just Need One #Shaken


People say this a lot to especially caution pastors: “Don’t worry about the numbers.”

I’m reading Tim Tebow’s new book, Shaken. In it, he wrote about how one preacher did this fantastic preaching to a group of people in India. After the preaching, he was disappointed to find that only one person came forward during the alter call to accept Christ.

This person was Ravi ZachariasOne person who is now known by millions.

His impact on the world for the Gospel…unbelievable.

If I only touch one person in my life, I would hope that one person is a future Ravi Zacharias, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, etc.

That’s why I no longer worry about numbers on my online platform. Yes, I want to build my online networks, but every profile is a person that I want to pour my energy, love, and compassion on to grow disciples, not fans. We can get so caught up in marketing, we take the humanity out of it.



Home by Harlan Coban #BookReviews


Home by Harlan Coban is like Rambo versus Hawaii Five-O with the tension occasionally broken by unexpected tender moments. However, compared to the last novel I read by him called, Fool Me Once, I thought Home was just okay. We’ll start with the story break down.

Ten years ago, two boys were kidnapped. No new leads were discovered until now. Win sees Patrick, now sixteen, standing in a place known for gay prostitution. Win suddenly becomes Rambo and takes out the three large men around Patrick. Patrick escapes and Win calls his friend, Myron, to come to London and help him find the two missing boys.

The realism portrayed in the grieving parents was riveting. With Patrick home, a new struggle ensues. Where is Rhys, the other boy who went missing, and why do the Moore’s have so many secrets?

Win, as a character, had very little to love about him. Both Myron and Win were difficult to connect with as a reader, except when Myron had those tender moments with his fiancee. Overall, I gave this novel three stars.

***Book given by publisher to review***

Book Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

51Whg08igcL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Olivia Rawlings’ life could be summed up by how many different colors she dyes her hair: restless, rootless, and ready to run when life gets complicated. The only thing constant in her life is her baking, Salty (her dog), and Hannah, her friend. Even her relationships are complex.

The scene opens up with Olivia setting fire to the restaurant because the restaurant owner is the man she is having an affair with and he won’t leave his wife. She’s not an arsonist. It was the combination of a wobbly food tray, vertigo, and 150-proof rum on sweet desserts set on fire. She finds her way to Guthrie, Vermont after quitting the Emmerson Club and in the employment of Margaret–a troubled and cranky Bed and Breakfast owner who doesn’t keep bakers around for too long.

While two different colored threads seem unrelated, the book begins to bring the fibers together at long last and we learn more about Guthrie, its gossip, its people, and why Margaret is cranky. We learn about Olivia’s friendship with Alfred. It is my sincere hope that Alfred gets his own story in the next book. He was too nice a man not to find his own, “happily ever after.” The only blemish was something that clashed with my own worldview as a Christian, but that part appeared and passed; almost felt preachy. Almost. 

The whole book doesn’t align with Christian beliefs, but it does reflect the rough areas and choices of life. Having worked as a hostess, the people I worked with were like Olivia–jaded and foul-mouthed at times. Olivia’s character is perfectly outlined. She starts out rough, runs as per her character from a perceived situation, and in the end, makes the right choice. We grieve when she grieves and cheers when she finds her way out of the entanglements of her choices and own prejudgments of a town that had come to love this fiery, outspoken, and unusual baker.

I closed the book with a contented sigh. Never prejudge one chapter. I wish Christian fiction would write realistically like this, because we all began broken and God made us whole. We make mistakes, but when we repent, wonderful blessings abound. I love how Olivia became whole again. It’s amazing what happens when you stop running.

Now when does Alfred get his own story? I would love to see him find happiness. 

*Book given by publisher to review. Reviewed from a Christian perspective. 

Book Review: Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry


Difficulties of Online Communication

While talking on Periscope to a man in Saudi Arabia, his children were peeking over his shoulders and around the face of his screen. I wasn’t sure what he was saying as this was one instance where English wasn’t something he understood.  I kept calling his children, “Adorable.” In America, this is a compliment. Within minutes, he blocked me.  This is an example of why it’s important to understand foreign cultures, even when your ministry is serving online.

In order to understand how to develop relationships here and abroad, I need to understand the culture. Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry by Frank Tucker is an excellent and exhaustive resource. In this article, I will go over how and why this book applies to online ministry. While I am lucky enough to not go through culture shock, I am guilty of having a Western mindset, speaking only one language (English), and balance implementing my ministry focus and communicating spiritual truths in new and creative ways while raising support as a missionary. More importantly, living out my own creed of balancing online with face-to-face to never lose the human element in communication.

 Communication Minefields

Chapter one stated, “…reject the use of persuasive techniques to influence people that depersonalize them or deprive them of the freedom to know and choose; – seek to actively listen sensitively in order to understand people with different views and beliefs; – affirm the right of all people to their beliefs and the right to make their own decisions.” A writer seeks the perfect editor; someone who won’t edit out her unique voice, but help her write better. In teaching social media to a non-technical person, it is imperative to keep that person’s personality and voice, and to teach them how to listen to another person’s online chatter.  But Intercultural Communication takes it one step further. It talks about how what you write or how you say things are interpreted from the other culture’s point of view.

You must know how to use appropriate symbols, icons, and signs to convey your message so people understand the truths you are trying to share with them. In the online world, we use graphics and video to send our messages. To use writer’s language, we show rather than tell the story, and this can be rather interpretive. Double check your Western thinking before hitting publish or sharing online.

When I sent out a recent newsletter, I hadn’t understood how people can interpret some of the common things Western thinkers take for granted. Having to think cross-culturally as an online worker is not easy while living in a Western culture. Every day I am thinking and talking Western, but when my social media arm reaches across the ocean to another country, I must learn to think like them to understand their histories, cultures, and symbols. When interviewing a Chinese international student in 2015, it was amazing how God had prepared this international student to receive the Gospel. She had a loose grasp on her religion which meant more receptivity to the Gospel. She knew some English, but was fluent in Chinese. Some of my words were confusing. In communicating with people overseas on Periscope, some knew English, but if I used long words, it caused confusion with their limited English. Other minefields in communication include the obvious: Using your influence to, “deprive them of the freedom to know and choose.”

Some claimed the church was dying. Later, others denied this saying, God is changing the church. He is remaking it. Because social media is about public perception, we must be careful when we use social media for more personal venting. Venting the right way allows people to connect with you, but the wrong way can say something else. It’s back to how others reinterpret your words from the filter of their worldview and culture. Over the years, one voice joined another online creating a loud voice saying, “I hate church.” Some of them reported saying this so other people can feel like they have something in common. Others just didn’t like church. It became one voice shouting, “I don’t like church.” Like anything negative, it’s almost like a drug. The more we talk negatively, the more negativity others share with you. How do we give them the freedom to know and choose?

Let’s make things we have in common, like what we enjoy doing on our free time, the basis for our strategy. Establish good things in common with people of other cultures. Go as a learner and ask open-ended questions. Let them share their culture, and you can share yours when appropriate. Politics is another minefield, and in America, it’s the biggest barrier we have in cybermissions.

Go on any news site and people are shouting down people with whom they disagree (Christians and unbelievers alike). Candace Cameron Bure said in one of her books how people assumed they had permission to be an authority in her life while she performed on, Dancing For The Stars. Because of this, bringing social media up as a tool for missions is a difficult task. People who are not on Social Media carry away an impression that it divides friends and families instead of being a creative place for community to develop; for churches to reach into someone’s livingroom in a less intrusive way than going door to door with a brochure; and to get to know their communities through groups online. Neighbors are suddenly no longer strangers with social media. Part of the barrier in cybermissions comes from how news stories frame their stories; even our favorite sources have a bias or an agenda. These days you must interpret what you read through a Biblical lens, but we are a people of extremes.

And one thing struck me in the most negative way, “To our shame, evangelicals have befriended people for the sole purpose of evangelism, and Western Christians have developed cross-cultural relationships, not for the value of the relationships, but to ‘strike a deal.’” I’m still friends with the person who came to know Christ.


Online Communication is Becoming a Personal Witness

Intercultural Communication said something that struck me as incorrect. It said, until the advent of smart phones, the phone has not been a useful tool for ministry or evangelism. Mobile Ministry Forum and Bible TransMission might disagree. For instance, a Nokia feature phone with its long battery life and small screen was the tool they used to bring material to other cultures. A slot on the side of the phone allows for an SDcard where audio Bibles and other files are stored rather than on the memory of the phone itself. Smart Phones have a shorter battery life, but better apps. In Mexico, smart phone usage is rising.

Mobile Ministry Forum recently had a webinar where they shared a tip for short term mission trips or even local evangelism in a neighborhood that speaks another language. You can download videos in the language of the people you are trying to reach and share that video as a way of witnessing to them. With the rise of live video (Facebook Live, Skype, Periscope, Vsee), that personal witness needed for discipleship and evangelism is available from anywhere in the world provided you have WiFi or data.

My goal to reach across cultural and language boundaries is to learn new languages. I would like to start with Spanish, and when I think I have handled writing and speaking it, I will move on to another language. Social Media allows me to communicate freely anywhere in the world. Language is a barrier, even with Google translate. Like missionaries who move overseas, I will immerse myself in the cultures when I am fully funded.

How am I Preparing Now?

While raising financial partnerships, I am thinking ahead in planning how to implement spiritual truths in the context that I am serving. A list of short term and long term goals have been made, edited, and re-made. Social Media is so huge. My problem: How do I learn so many different cultures and religions and speak the Gospel into them using the bridges of communication already built into their culture by God? Education will help and immersing myself in different cultures regularly can build online relationships while I raise funding.

Raising funding, keeping my websites active and my social media going, and keeping abreast of new developments in technology is a fun and creative task that is time consuming. Days come when I sit at my desk at my day job and dream of when I can begin immersing myself in culture and develop new friendships online. My biggest dream is being able to connect that person online with a fellowship of faith somewhere in the world through my ministry contacts and the organization of WorldVenture. My other dream is getting the pulpit to be aware of the breadth of missions; that it doesn’t only exist in the traditional ways, but in the creative, too; and finally, knowing I can give all of me to this calling and not just 80% because of my day job.

Even in this waiting, God is preparing my heart. If you are serious about social media and using your one or more accounts to reach out to unbelievers online, Intercultural Communication is a book you need to read. It’s exhaustive, text book-like, and needed as you navigate the online world from your own cultural point of view.