How to Build Up Your Marriage

Joining WorldVenture has brought challenges to our otherwise great marriage. Even good things can become a negative if not handled correctly.

  • Because my audience is global, time differences mean making a determination whether I interrupt my evenings to message the person or speak to them in the morning. Some conversations are unavoidable, demanding my undivided attention. Or a text conversation becomes an intense moment of prayer as I carefully tap out a reply. As a worker with WorldVenture, my husband is getting used to my unusual schedule. He’s learning the furrowed brow and tense voice doesn’t mean the conversation is negative; it means I am focused on using the right words to maintain the friendship while speaking the truth. It doesn’t mean I am stressed.
  • Meetings after my day job are frequent, whether it is with WorldVenture, another organization, or people wishing to learn how to serve online. He knows my day doesn’t stop until 5 or 6 pm in the evening. Or I come home and work in the office to get caught up on weekly duties.
  • Sunday mornings are for serving in our church. For me, I am working the comment section of our church’s live Facebook video to pray for community outreach and share it to various groups.

In the past, we’ve talked about how dangerously close ministry gets to our home. The world is full of violence and anger, and those of us in the United States are not immune. People on social media consider it their right to react badly online and we’ve talked about the what if questions. Because of these and many more challenges, I readily embraced Pastor Guy Deckard’s 2018 devotional idea.

A family that studies together, prays together, and stays together. We’ve already bought the journal to share between us, and I plan on blogging my journal live as well as sharing Pastor Guy’s blog link here, too.  Serving on our knees, digging deeply into God’s Word, needs to happen first before we serve with our hands. Strengthening our marriage through God is important even as we serve to thwart the devil’s plan and participate in what God is doing in the world.

Meanwhile, please consider partnering financially with me so this work in technology can continue strong in 2018. Click here to learn more.


Lamenting and Wrestling

When I run, all I can hear is the pounding of my feet on the trail nearly in sync with the rhythm of my heart. I feel the heaviness of the sun on my skin and the sweat dripping into my eyes. I do not wear ear buds on the trail for safety reasons so I am aware of every snap of a twig. Running is more than just healthy exercise.

It’s my time with God.

It’s where I wrestle with my emotions; even lament.

Lamenting is a new word learned from a book I finished reading this year called, No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece.

She says about Lamenting, “Lament is defined as an expression of grief. As I take a look at Scripture, I see that God seeks out those of us who are in need of him. He meets people with his comfort, and with his peace. So for the purposes of this book, and this movement, we’re defining lament as an expression of grief that God meets us in.” 

Samuel Gill, a former worker with WorldVenture and now Life Coach in the Prescott area says this on his blog, “Most of us know that each snowflake has its own unique pattern. But do you know why? Each crystal acquires its unique pattern in its flight from the clouds down to earth. It is the result of a battle. As snow flakes pass through the atmosphere in their flight down to earth they encounter particles of dust and dirt. Thus the beauty of each snow flake is the result of conflict and pain.” 

Have you ever pined for something? Have you ever pursued that something in spite of “conflict and pain?” God is the King of patience–the long-suffering kind of patience. It’s about the journey.

The journey is one where Seth Godin says in No Way Out, “The best long-term approach might be to learn something, to tough it out, to engage with the challenge. Because once you get through this, you’ll be different. Better. We always have a choice, but often, it’s a good idea to act as if we don’t.”

When I run, I don’t see the curving trail, hugged by scrub oak and trees. I see my support journey, and the distant mountain peak as the end of one journey to begin another–reaching those online who, unlike Esther Fleece, may not share in the comfort of knowing our Lord.

Thank you, friends and supporters. Your gifts and support are, “…a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (click here to read full verse).”

Different and Better

Appointed by WorldVenture in 2015, I wasn’t actually released to raise funds until March, 2016. Necessary training is what prevented me from sending out those emails and making those phone calls. This probably confused many as people expected to hear from me, but God was wiser. Developing as a worker in the field of social media and technology means I am developing as a person, too, and taking the scenic route to my goals.

In fact, the NIV Stewardship Bible I bought early on has been comforting. Living on the thin ice of faith means I am forcing myself to trust God to deliver on His promises and putting our lives and our finances on His altar. Stewardship principles are misunderstood, maybe even poorly worded when brought up at the pulpit on occasion. People immediately assume you or the organization needs money rather than giving as an act of worship and faith.

Seth Godin wrote “No Way Out” in this blog:

The thing is, though, that the long-term strategy might be the opposite. The best long-term approach might be to learn something, to tough it out, to engage with the challenge. Because once you get through this, you’ll be different. Better.

Engaging with this challenge means spending much more time on my knees in prayer, trusting my finances and my future with the Lord. I have no idea if our future will mean a comfortable retirement, but I do know our future won’t look like our grandparent’s future. This is okay. God will give me a place to lay my head even if it is a stone. At least, He has redeemed me from my past and His relationship is the only thing I need no matter what the future becomes. I know one thing though.

This new career path is the only way I want to go and I never want to retire. Social media and technology will change. But if we, as Christians, do not choose to change, our places of worship will become irrelevant and we will become irrelevant.

What could that look like?

  • Musicians have taken old hymns and put a new twist on them. The message didn’t change. The music was re-framed.
  • Remember that we do not have the right to shove our beliefs on someone else or judge them online. Re-frame your online responses to encourage a closer relationship with the Lord. Don’t be the crazy religious nut that screams at the person posting, thereby alienating them from God.
  • Trust the Holy Spirit more and stop taking steps that rob God of getting the glory. Meaning, we think we have to do something to make something else happen as if God didn’t do the things He said He did; as if God needs our help somehow. Prayer is about trust, stepping back, and waiting.

Once I get through this, I’ll be different, better.


Why Firsts Change People’s Lives

He made me feel empowered when he brought me into his office. I sat down across from him, a nervous twenty-something year old, with the thought in my mind of, ‘What did I do?’ 

My boss ran the whole floor at Bank of America. As I sat down, he looked me straight in the eye and asked, “What can we do to improve things around here?” He held a pen and a pad of paper.

For the first time in my life, someone took me seriously. For the first time, someone believed in me. Someone thought I had value to contribute to a larger than life organization. That’s powerful. For the first time, I wasn’t Nikki who barely got by in High School and laughed at college. That was just the beginning of many firsts in my life that God would show me as He led me to Him. I was reminded of this recently after an extended video conference call. It caused me to think about the path I took since then, and the many mistakes I made getting here.

My old friend, Fear, likes to poke his head out from the shadows and say, “You are stupid. You are foolish.” He represents a very old enemy that, at one time, held power over me. Fear made me spend money I didn’t have, choose friends who weren’t healthy, and date people I knew would leave me anyway. Why should I be courageous when no one would help me if I fail? I was alone.

Yet, God would bring people in my life to prove He had never left my side. From the time Gwen Beatty saw me enter FBC Prescott (now Solid Rock Christian Fellowship) to when God brought a man who would become my husband that would start an unstoppable awakening in my soul. It is because of the people God brought in my life that I changed. Fear is everyone’s enemy.

What stops you from reaching out to people who make you uncomfortable? When I think of the American church, I share with others grave concerns about its ability to be like the courage of the persecuted church. Those concerns made me take a hard look at myself.

  • Am I friends with people who disagree with me?
  • Can I put a name to a different religion? Or in other words, have I ever had dinner with someone from a different religion, even country?
  • Is my Facebook “preaching to the choir,” or am I allowing God to use me on social media to do the hard work in building relationships with people who are different than me?

A verse caught my eye the other day from Ephesians 3:14-21:

This is why I kneel before the Father. Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.

Firsts in life are important and life changing. You play a part in other people’s “firsts” whether you serve the homeless, internationals, or just go to church. Mentoring is important.

The above verse is my prayer for you and your church.

Can I pray further with you about something?

Do Not Grow Weary

Mornings are a welcome respite to recent tense weeks. The cat jumps on to the couch and curls up on my lap. I can feel his heart beating through my pajamas. The sky begins to show ribbons of color just on the edge of the horizon. The coffee is hot and fresh.

Moving from this spot stirs the air too much, and stirs up reminders of a day I have yet to meet. If I sit here long enough maybe I could avoid the day, and all its problems can walk past without noticing me in the shadows. Discouragement never gets us anywhere. It’s a dead end.

The cat jumps off to stalk a cockroach. I stand and pick up my now empty coffee cup. It’s time to meet the day. I don’t know how people who don’t believe in God can meet days like this all alone. Human praise and encouragement only last so long, and more often than not, you can’t get enough of it. Without faith, the day can become as dark as night without the glimmer of God’s promises on the horizon. Me and God have these long conversations in the morning.

This morning, it’s me whining.

His response is always the same, “Wait.”

He speaks through the Bible. Like how He used last Sunday’s sermon and a PDX appointment to speak Galatians 6 to me. Those things aren’t coincidences.

“Let’s not get tired of doing good…,” It says in verse 9.

I walk into the bedroom and get dressed in the shadows. I’ve never been great at hiding. In this time of transition, God’s vision to me is still unchanged. I must live it. I must walk the walk. My heart has a passion for nothing else.

I am the wierdo on the block; the person who does things differently. There’s so much to look forward to and so much God has me doing now that life is not boring.

My next newsletter goes out Saturday. Don’t miss it.

That’s Why I Have Holes in My Socks!

“Obedience is among the interlocking stewardship principles presented in the Book of Deuteronomy.

(Pg. 211, NIV Stewardship Study Bible)”

obedience, word, Bible

It struck me that obedience is said to manifest itself in finances. How we spend our money measures our faith and obedience in the Lord. This is a concept that never occurred to me when I attended church in my early twenties. I always said I never had any money to give to tithing, but I had the money to spend on things like coffee or day old muffins. The Lord was very last in my priorities, including reading His Word.

There were so many concepts in Deuteronomy 8:1-20, like trusting the Lord will provide water from hard rock, that He will lead us through the wilderness, to thank Him for his providence, and don’t worship other gods. The Bible has other stories of God providing to the faithful, especially in the New Testament. When I sit down and do my taxes every year, I look at my profit and loss margins. Most of the time it is a loss, but when I add up all my expenses for running ministry every year, it is pure wonder how we manage to pay the bills.

I said to a friend, “No wonder I have holes in my socks!” This was after I added up the expenses of just running three websites! Even after all this giving, God managed to answer prayer and provide plane tickets and cars that still run. When I look back at me in my twenties, I pity that girl.

She was missing out on so many blessings! While she barely read the Bible and was a Christian in name only, the me in my twenties struggled to find an intimate relationship with the Lord and the blessings that come from it. I lived in sin. I entertained sin. I struggled with it. She eventually became who I am today, but not until after a very long struggle within myself.

I’m sitting in my kitchen and thinking especially of Deuteronomy 8:2 in which I am reminded how God led me through the wilderness to humble me, test me, and to know my heart; especially so I can know my own heart’s intentions. From this day forward, I know He’s going to do amazing things. I know it’s going to be an amazing several years. Soon, I will be raising support so I can start this new vision full time. I wish it had not taken me so long to understand the principles of stewardship, obedience, and faith! I feel like I am starting out so late in life, but I know it’s perfect timing in God’s plan.