How you can build a sturdy marriage that shines bright with hope this Advent season…


Frost like gossamer blankets the hills out back, a pot of roasted turkey soup simmers on the stove and Frank Sinatra is crooning Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It’s quiet after Thanksgiving and I’m asking Father how my Michael and I can best focus our hearts and our marriage during the next four weeks of Advent that are sure to pass in a flurry of activity and celebrations.

Simply, God reminds me.

There was no pomp and circumstance the silent night the precious baby boy came to earth in that sleepy little cave, cows lowing and sheep snuggling down in the hay that was also His bed. And it is not so much in the do-ing and decorating as in the be-ing and becoming that we prepare our minds and hearts for the arrival of the One whose gifts to a dark, hurting, fear-filled world were light and love, forgiveness and hope, peace and joy.

 No matter how dark the world gets Jesus is still and forever the light and hope of the world.

In Him my marriage — and your marriage — is meant to light up the one tiny corner of the world wherever we are. Consecrating our hearts day by day by choosing to obey not just at Christmastime but all the time.

As we grow in obedience we increase in freedom that creates and transforms marriages into the living love letters that God wants them to be. That has a silent power that captures the attention of a world gone mad.

And what better Christmas/Birthday gift can we give the One who is a forever gift to the hearts of those who choose to receive Him?

But it’s not enough to just receive Jesus, or go to church or memorize verses. We must live Christ one moment at a time thinking as He thinks, responding as He responds, loving as He loves, praying as He prays and adopting His mind and heart in every human transaction we conduct.

If we don’t live Christ then it’s like receiving an amazing gift but leaving it unopened at the back of a crowded closet collecting dust. We’ll never fully know or enjoy the blessing and this must hurt Father’s heart! From the cradle to the cross, the gift of Jesus is His power to save us from our sins and transform us individually and as a couple when we choose to cooperate and do life and marriage God’s way.


As of this writing moment there’s 24 days till Christmas. And then only one more week until 2016 and the clean slate of a brand new year. Wouldn’t it be great to get a jump start on all those resolutions that no one ever keeps by redirecting our attention off ourselves and the hustle and bustle of merry-making madness and make one simple choice to focus on Him for whom we wait by offering Him our gift of utter obedience?

In the midst of all the crazy of the next few weeks why not just Jesus?

Instead of crowded shopping malls and too many Christmas cookies why not Christ?

Why not hush and humble your heart today — and by extension your marriage — as you center your attention on God, gifting Him with the best of yourself instead of the ragged little bits of leftover you, and redirect or reinvigorate your wedded union with the potential and power it’s meant to be?


Marriage as an example of Christ and His church is needed now more than ever in our world full of atrocities too vile to list. For if couples like me and my Michael and you and your husband commit to serving God first by making our marriages a sacrifice of obedient praise and an acceptable gift to Him, God will lasso the moon to help us humble as never before, honor Him and our marriage partner above selfish-self, and herald a joyous new season in our marriages regardless of where they stand today.

So let’s start a ripple effect in marriage that will positively impact our children, grandchildren and great grands to a 1,000 generations.

Let’s build marriages so sturdy that no matter what huffs and puffs in our lives or the world they will stand strong.

Let’s create unions that encourage our married neighbors to stop considering divorce and instead turn to God as the solution that heals and restores marriages that seem beyond hope.

In this season of self-imposed stress why not get off the never ending up and down of overcrowded mall escalators and escalating emotions and still your soul and make your marriage better in the process as we wait for the baby who brought God to earth.

Will you join me and Michael? 

And count the days to Christmas by practicing obedience like never before as a gift to Father who gifted us with His very own Son? Growing into the mature sons and daughters, husbands and wives, that He intends us to be.

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One more Thanksgiving…a sentimental journey of love and loss


For as long as I can remember, at the end of every Thanksgiving past, my silent prayer was “do it again” asking God for one more time with my family around the dining room table in the house where I grew up.

Thanksgiving in Yonkers — my favorite holiday full of good spirits, festive foods and sometimes lots of laughter from a little too much wine. Pumpkin pie piled high with whipped cream. And invisible threads of love tethering one generation to the next. 

With giddy anticipation I’d drive the twisty turning Taconic Parkway over the reservoir and through the woods to get back to the place where I began, stirring memories of  Thanksgivings and loved ones now passed, but never farther away than our hearts.

“Nothing lasts forever,” I can hear my paternal grandfather — the man who helped raise me — say as if he was in the next room not the next world. 

His pronouncements proved true when his beloved wife of 39 years passed from life after a short illness, but I still see her in her kitchen mashing rutabaga with butter and salt and pepper, a Thanksgiving tradition that I carry on. She was the first of her generation to leave and there was not one dry eye in the family. Her loss at age 9 hit me hard and was followed two years later by my parent’s divorce. And our circle grew smaller. 

But I grew up and married and had babies and soon the circle was growing again.


Now it was my sons and their cousins sitting on telephone books and stuffing themselves full with mashed potatoes with corn mixed in like I always did when I was a little girl. And all our plates swimming in mom’s homemade gravy. But then my marriage ended and the circle shrank and my boys shared Thanksgiving with me and my family only every other year.

But babies grow up fast, don’t they? Right under our noses and before we can kiss their sleepy faces one more time as we tuck them in at night all the days of diapers and early morning feedings and picking up Legos and wiping sticky hands and reminding them to keep their elbows off the table are gone. So big and so brave now, forging lives of their own. Some living far away, others working the holiday, or visiting in-laws, traveling, or establishing new rituals as young husbands and wives carve out their own family identity. 

Did I know two years ago, when I walked inside my mother’s kitchen door and was greeted with the tantalizing aroma of turkey roasting slowly and the windows fogging and my mother’s face tinged pink like her apron, that it would be the last Thanksgiving dinner around that old dining room table? 

With no one to really cook for she and my sister share Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant where my youngest niece works. My Michael and I, deploring the crush and rush of city roads and public eateries on holidays, opt out of joining them. But at a party the week before Thanksgiving my mom and I lament the loss of this beloved Thanksgiving tradition while we simultaneously rejoice over birthday number two for one member of the next generation of little faces around a table.


“I’m so glad we had all those years together, when my grandchildren were little,” my mother muses. “And I’m so happy we have all those good memories.”

I tell her so am I and hug her tight clutching wisps of long ago to my heart while embracing the new that is different and can sometimes seem a little less if I choose to look at it that way.

I will miss watching the parade at my Mom’s, but this year I’ll stay in my pajamas all morning while cartoon characters float by Macy’s and high school bands march their hearts out in Herald Square. And for breakfast we’ll eat slices of the old world style lekvar torte that my mother always made, but now I’ll bake it gluten and sugar free, using a bit of honey instead.

I won’t walk around my old city neighborhood with memories bittersweet, but my Michael and I, companions in life, love, and the hiking trail, will stroll in a nearby park after sharing a roast turkey dinner for two.




And life keeps flowing in directions ever new, past and present mingling like friends at a cocktail party and all of it overlapping and swirling. We women hold memories and dreams as near as those precious babes that once nursed at our breast. Yesterday is but a breath away and it is only a thin veil that separates us from those we love and the times we once shared together.

So I put my hand over my heart and close my eyes and tell my Father thank you for all the many gifts in my life past and present, as well as the raindrop blessings that brought tears and heart ache but chiseled the stone of my heart so that it could beat more like His own.

Then nothing lasts forever strikes too close for comfort.

On a bleak and barren day just three weeks ago, a cousin of mine — beloved son, brother and uncle still so young — left us without warning. The aftershock reverberates. And a table in Connecticut will hold a place for the one that has gone seemingly too soon, but only God knows the timing of such things.

Life, so very fragile and transitory this side of heaven, must be handled gently, lived kindly, and loved deeply with forgiveness and grace overflowing. A holy gift, it is meant to be savored not squandered without a second thought.

And I wonder, in the letting go of so much in this life on earth —  whether from death, divorce, distance, disagreements or just new directions as seasons change —  do we gain a deeper, richer understanding and a more sincere appreciation of all we have and hold and shouldn’t for one New York minute take for granted?

I hope so!

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My Michael and I wish you and yours a Thanksgiving to treasure filled with gratitude to God for all the dear souls entrusted to our hearts, and for the many, many blessings we Americans claim everyday as our birthright but which so many the world over may never know. May we be truly thankful today and every day. #CountYourBlessings


My previous posts about Thanksgiving:

Like broken bread

Ghosts of Thanksgiving past

My fav pumpkin pie recipe and other stuff to be thankful for


“There came a woman…” Words for the wife, mother, or any woman who struggles to follow Jesus


There came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard and she broke the vial and poured it over His head…
Mark 14:4

Maybe you’re a wife and mother or an empty nester with a retired husband. Or perhaps you’re in a corner office leveraging multi-million dollar deals. Maybe you’re all these things and just trying to hold on and make life work.

Wherever we women find ourselves and whatever our current role in life may be, let’s live it out regally with all our soul and mind and strength for this one glorious, messy life is not a dress rehearsal.

It’s the real thing full of salty tears and laughter loud and moments good and bad, all of which leave their mark. And we will be salted with fire so that we may become salt that purifies self from its own ambitions and vain attempts at making life work on self-terms. And salt makes others thirsty and that’s when we can lead them to water which is full of life for all the living and is the Word of God.

And in the fullness of time at the end of all our days, we want to be remembered for having lived a life that pleased and honored God in every way, don’t we?

A life of steady obedience and radical love that will take us to the outermost limits of who we think we are and towards becoming who He wants us to be. Then we will shine like the stars in heaven, our little lights reflecting a big God, illuminating the way to freedom for others.

But we will only get to where He wants us to go to the extent that we are devoted to Him.


Adoring Him with love patient and kind and pouring ourselves out as a fragrant offering long remembered. And when there comes a woman such as this — a living, breathing example of the softness and the strength of Father — who obeys and follows and looks and sounds like Jesus many more times than she does not — then the lives around her are in a position to be influenced for great good.

For she has come into the midst of them, those who love her and even those who seem like they don’t much care about her, bearing a fragrant force that envelopes like a cloud, leading as a pillar by day. And she won’t be fussing and striving and trying, all frenzied or fuming.

She will be at peace like a calm pool of water that reflects back a serene image to heaven.

Quiet, gentle example of her life invites without suffocating, proceeding forward one day at a time without her getting exhausted in her own strength always failing. She accepts who she is in God — beloved daughter sought after and won over, a princess warrior, a royal priestess — and in accepting who she is in Him she finds serenity and sanity that surpasses all understanding for it is the peace of Christ who understood that only One was good and that is God and Jesus did everything the way He saw His Father doing it.

No longer does this woman ride the merry-go-round of madness and mania which has a way of making those she loves insane, too. She has stopped doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results that never come because she has finally discovered the answer to all her longings and problems and relational difficulties, the traumas past and the future fears imagined, the crazy thoughts spinning and the words gushing as if they weren’t being heard in Heaven. As if they weren’t hurting those hearing them here on earth.


And the answer is simply,

Come. Follow Me…
Mark 1:17

But she has made the following hard all these years because she isn’t!

She thinks she is following Jesus because maybe she leads the woman’s bible study or has 100 verses memorized each month and while those are good works her heart is working wrong as it runs away with self. And her marriage suffers and her children, too. She keeps asking God for a break, for His favor, forgetting that while He does indeed rain on all, He blesses obedience.

Obedience to the commands of Christ.

Following Jesus means obeying God in the big and little aspects of life. It is doing as Jesus did. And thinking like Him and speaking like him and knowing when to be quiet and listen so that the still small voice can be heard above the constant drone of her days that this is the way to walk, precious daughter dearly loved.

The way of the cross.

And the cross means sacrifice and laying aside her own internal demands that make her feel a little better in the short term but do such long term damage that it may take years to unravel for bad seeds planted produce a bigger crop than one ever expects. She grows discouraged and the enemy lies saying she will never change because she just. keeps. failing.

 Truth says she can become like Christ truly, really, and deeply by the grace of God which is there for her in abundance if only she will believe.

And in her belief, obey. No matter what the voices stirring inside may tell her she will begin to live truly believing and truly following until her heart is absolutely convinced that she is indeed a daughter-disciple who conquers the sin in herself by grace, who repeatedly takes the hard high road of putting God first and others before herself. She chooses to surrender and submit her rowdy will to her Father’s perfect will, sending away her sin just like Jesus did when He died on the cross for her with all His eternal love bleeding out. There is life all shiny new in that precious blood.


She has stopped all her running in circles and talking forever and has quieted her soul and is choosing to deny her sinful, selfish wants and discipline herself until she really is a disciple. She summons up all the strength that God bestows with mercies new each morning and makes herself do. the. right. thing. until doing the right thing is as much a natural part of her as is her breathing.

And the road is narrow with only the most devoted believers finding it and then following it, one day at a time for the rest of their days. But there’s power in the blood and once washed clean by it only her feet need be bathed as she sits at His feet.

The fragrance of this one life of her’s poured out for Him causes the Lover of her soul to smile and there finally comes a woman whose life fragrance is enticing and winsome to all around her. She has broken the alabaster jar of her past way of living sinful and pours out her all obediently.

Becoming who she is meant to be as she comes to Jesus and simply follows…

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Do you really understand God’s grace of forgiveness?


Does forgiving others when they hurt us come more easily when we are able to readily accept God’s forgiveness of our own sins?

When we rightly view God’s grace as it covers our faults?

When we rest in a love so deep and divine and all encompassing that nothing — not our most heinous of sins — will ever separate us from it?

Because if we truly get God’s grace of forgiveness — down deep into our hearts and minds until it permeates every single cell of our souls — we will fill with grace and love as our hearts grow, pains diminish and we see our “offenders” covered with the same grace-robe that God draws over each of us in all our beauty and ugliness.

For God is love.

And love is patient.


And God’s patience with us extends day by day and each one a thousand years in the making and Him creating everything in aeons of six days and working creatively in us until that day we receive a white stone. And He is never in a hurry.

Yet we so often are. We fall from grace — perhaps repeating angry words or actions that we believed were far gone from our souls, yet they rear ugly when we least expect it and we are floored that we failed in that same old, same old way.

But God.

He is not surprised and with a tender gentle patience He picks us up into Fatherly arms that do not fly into a rage and beat us with the switch. He prunes, but never punishes, and Father-heart words soothe our sadness when He says,

Yes, you failed, falling from love and obedience like before. But look here. Will you see how far along the healing road you are? Will you discern that your failures are less and less frequent? I AM your Father and I AM pleased with every progress you make day by day. So receive Me and My forgiveness, full of grace and love. Allow your heart and mind to self-forgive. Then let go. Leave it behind. Look ahead of you — where you are going not where you have been. To the future and beyond where I AM already and where I see you victorious. So keep walking forward. Forget the former things. I AM making you and all things new, moment by moment.

You are not a hypocrite for failing, my Child, you are my student-disciple. And I AM training you up in the way that you should go. Your failures, however costly, are valuable lessons of love where you learn through sinful stumbling and sickening sorrows that you are and ever will be my dearly beloved no matter that you are also sorely imperfect. I AM not the stern Father who berates, shames and punishes for anything less than your gold-star performance. I AM your Father and I AM homeschooling you and college tuition is expensive.

Forever I AM your’s and you are Mine and I love you no matter what. And always will…


These thoughts sink into my soul. May they seep into your’s, too.

Never should we lightly receive His grace when we do wrong. We must be humbly contrite, allowing the piercing pain of our badness at failing our Father and hurting His heart — Him who desperately loves His precious prodigals no matter they sometimes leave Him to dally in dusky shadows. Letting love carve away the sin sickness that steals the very life from our beating hearts. Hearts that God wants pulsing for and with Him, covered with the blood gift setting us free.

And in this great love and grace of forgiveness we must choose obedience which is His love language and repent, turning away from sin to go in the right direction towards home.

The Greek word … (for repentance) is made up of two words, the conjoint meaning of which is, a change of mind or thought. There is in it no intent of, or hint at sorrow or shame…it is a sending away of sins…Both God and man send away sins, but in the one case God sends away the sins of the man, and in the other the man sends away his own sins…The change must be one of will and conduct — a radical change of life on the part of the man: he must repent — that is, change his mind — not to a different opinion, not even to a mere betterment of his conduct — not to anything less than a sending away of his sins…
~George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel, “The Remission of Sins”

You open your heart and I’ll open mine and grace will flow way down deep to where bone meets marrow and the transfusion needed becomes the transformation true of the fulfillment of originating thoughts that Father had of us at the moment of conception.

Twinkling-of-an-eye moment where He thought of you, me, all of us, for good.

Precious moment of grace…

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When you feel like giving up…8 tips to help you cope plus a free mentoring session

WOODS and rocks TWO

Dear Precious You —

You’re not feeling very precious today, are you? Not feeling valued, respected or loved? With dark circles and worry lines you’re overwrought and dangling at the end of your rope. And from the darkness that cloaks you like a shroud, a little voice shouts big time.

Give up. Nobody cares. Not even God.

And you’re ready to throw in the towel, forgetting Truth that has sustained you during a lifetime of hard knocks because you’re soul-parched in the desert and you’ve done this God-thing for as long as you can remember yet your life keeps turning up empty. Discouragement is your unwelcome companion and her evil twin Despair is knocking hard on the back door.

But don’t let her in!

Bolt the door shut. Run to the nearest window and pull back the heavy curtains so the sun shines one more time into your black hole-corner of the world. Even though every fiber of your being is believing that the multiple messes of your life will never get sorted out and that you don’t matter,

A better day is coming.

So hold on! Resist the devilish demands on your soul that urge you to turn away from God. May it never be so no matter how hard, dark, painful and awful your life may get.

Dear Precious You, you are yet breathing, however frantically, and that means there is hope because there is life and life is sacred and there is a purpose to your pain and God truly, really is working all things for good.

And sometimes — and I know this from personal experience — the good that comes from the bad is not in the changing of the circumstances so much as it is the forging of your character more Christlike. And this may be hard to accept until surrender is complete and your hands open wide and you let Him sweep you off your feet so He can hold you closer than His heartbeat which never stops pulsing with this awesome, never ending love for you.

No matter how dark your days may be now, there is always hope and hope is spelled Jesus who showed us the Father with whom nothing is impossible. 

So please pour yourself a cup of tea and read Psalm 23.
But don’t just read the words and run. Sit with the verses and inhale them because your life depends on His truth especially when the enemy of your soul — who seeks to crush the last breath from your lungs — is breathing heavy down your back.

Take a little walk to boost your endorphins.
And when you’re out walking, even if rain is falling, look up and all around you. Creation is calling to your soul. Let it’s magnificence soothe you, helping to release your troubles. Imagine they are like dandelion seeds blowing on the breeze or pebbles you toss into a pond, watching them vanish.

Soak in a hot tub.
An intriguing novel can take you away from the crushing realities for a little while offering respite as your toes prune and you turn the pages and maybe nibble a little dark chocolate?

And finally, take a nap.
In the midst of the fray sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep which revitalizes in a way that is pure holiness. Curl up next to your Father and feel His strong arms encircle you tenderly as you drift off. 

When you arise, precious, beautiful, sweet You, open your Bible and think on this verse…


But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

While it’s okay to feel positively awful at times when life overwhelms and nothing seems to change, remember that God will bring you through the thorns into a land flowing with milk and honey and sunshine that warms your face and makes you smile.

So in this moment yet dim speak out your praise for He is a wonderful and wonder-filled God.

Sit down with paper and pen and set the buzzer for 10 minutes. Write out all the ugly that’s going on in and around you. When the buzzer rings, stop and rip those words to shreds.

Set the buzzer for another 10 minutes and write down all the things you are grateful for in your life at this moment. You may think that in your current circumstances you have nothing to be thankful for but there are innumerable gifts if you set your mind and heart to find them.

Like oxygen and lungs that work. A roof over your head. The meal you recently consumed. A ray of sunshine pouring into your living room with countless little dust bunnies dancing within. Eyes that see and allow you to read this post. People in your life who love you. That silly little dog that runs to the curb when you walk by shaking his tail like you’re his long lost owner and he can’t wait to jump into your arms and lick your face.


See how it works? You write down one thing and others start popping up in front of you and before you realize the buzzer rings but your fingers keep flying because there is just so much beauty to be thankful for that you could fill a thousand pages.

Research shows that writing down what you’re thankful for will make you more optimistic, feeling better about your life.

And God, who will never abandon you, with all His good gifts and His love everlasting, will lift you on the wings of the wind until you rise high above what your eyes see and your heart feels in this present darkness.

And you will fill with the light of glory that carries you through…

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