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Life’s a Beach

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Here is an excerpt from today’s blog…

At the beach, I have definitely found my “happy place”. The beach is the place where I often hear the voice of God clearly and miraculously speak to me from the thunder of the waves and the beautiful longing of the sunset.

So … today … in honor of the “Winter of 2014” … I thought that I would share with you some lessons from the beach!

1 – My life is so small. 


As I walk along the beach every afternoon, I feel so small in comparison to it all. I don’t feel insignificant … {Continue Reading}

The Gift of JOY

JOY road signEveryone I know desires to live a joy-filled life.

Young moms and seasoned moms are desperate for it …

Teen-age girls long for it …

Widows and widowers search fiercely to rediscover it …

Empty nesters, single women, corporate executives, divorcees, and college students all wonder where joy can be found.

Depression and discouragement place themselves within easy grasp, don’t they?  Frustration and sadness are usually within whispering distance.  No one needs a GPS to find the blahs, melancholy or hopelessness.

If we all long for it so intensely, where is it? Where is joy?

Depression and discouragement are known for their strong and paralyzing hold on men and women like you and me.  However, I have found that His presence is well-able to demolish the chains of sadness and disappointment.

            Will you continue with me on this amazing journey to joy?!

A Baby Named Joy

There were a group of shepherds who were defined by an inky and black existence.  These men, who were the lowest dregs of society, spent night after hopeless night taking care of someone else’s dumb sheep.  These uneducated men had no chance of promotion or pay raises.  Their lives were defined by sheep drool, sheep dung and the perpetual echo of a sheep’s “ba-a-a-a”.

However, one night that began as the carbon copy of thousands of other dark, cold nights, the world of the shepherds was instantly invaded by the announcement of a great joy!  The heaven’s exploded in rare and glorious colors and the angels of eternity made a grand pronouncement into the hopeless world of the shepherds:

“And behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”  (Luke 2:10-11).

The eternal reason the angels could announce joy had invaded Earth was because joy had come in the person of a Baby named Jesus.  Heaven opened its portals that night and joy splashed into our lives forever.  He came into our inky darkness and the joy of Heaven dripped into our world.

No matter how hopeless and dark your life seems to be, always remember that a Baby was born whom heaven had named “joy”.  The life of this Baby changed everything for every person in all of history.  His presence has come to earth and with Him He brought the joy of the atmosphere of heaven!

A Garden of Joy

I don’t know much about agriculture but this is what I do know:  when a farmer plants cucumber seeds … cucumbers will grow.  When a gardener plants sunflower seeds … sunflowers grow in that place.  It is true in every branch of agriculture and botany that you will always reap what you have sown.  If you plant radish seeds, you will not be harvesting carrots.  If you plant a rosebush … there is no need to worry that turnips will grow in that place.

However, the Bible makes one exception to this valid and scientific rule:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting”  (Psalm 126:5).

Harvest of JoyIf your life has been nothing but pain and sorrow and tears, let me assure you that your life holds more potential for true joy than someone who has lived with a white picket fence guarding the tulips of their life.  The Bible says all of your tears are going to miraculously reap a harvest of joy and rejoicing.

God takes the tears of disappointment and sadness, fertilizes them with His presence, and out of that place of deep pain will erupt an abundant harvest of joy.  You are never immune to this miracle or left out of this promise.

Only God can take your worst defeat, your greatest pain, and your moment of raw sorrow and turn it into His miraculous and irreplaceable joy.  Only God.

Here He Comes!

And now, if you are still struggling to find this solid by-product of His presence, let me just encourage you today to be grateful.  Spend some time this very minute in heartfelt worship and thanksgiving and before too long the ripples of joy will begin.

When you begin to sing in spite of pain and disappointment you will discover the most glorious gift of all … He has arrived!  He will come walking to you across the years of disappointment and gloom.  He does not come alone but with Him comes the dynamic gift that follows Him wherever He goes … the gift of joy!

*** This blog is an excerpt of Carol’s newest book, “No More Ordinary!”  To pre-order your copy today, click here.

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Journey to Joy – Week 2

Life is a JourneyAll of our lives are a journey … a journey from somewhere to somewhere.

Perhaps your life has been a journey away from abuse toward emotional and physical health.

Maybe your life’s journey has encompassed education, travel, and scintillating relationships.

Did you start life as a victim in a dysfunctional family and now you are proud to say that you have built a victorious family of function and faith?

My life’s journey has often lingered in the land of depression but I can confidently say, now, that joy is my home address!

Joy Defined

In the fifth grade, my beloved teacher, Miss Sullivan, taught her curious class of eleven-year-olds, that in defining a certain word, one should never use the word itself in the definition. The rule Miss Sullivan taught all of her eager learners is an accepted grammatical rule that most savvy writers and wordsmiths follow implicitly.

However, I have discovered, it is nearly impossible to define the word “joy” without using the word itself in the definition.

The Hebrew definition of the word simchah is: “joy, mirth, gladness; the joy of God.”

The Greek definition of the word chara, is: “joy, gladness; the cause of occasion of one’s joy.”

Due to my frustration at being a grammar elitist and knowing that substance is lacking by using a word in its own definition, I decided to dig deeper and valiantly endeavor to find the root definition of the word “joy”.

“Joy wrought by the Holy Spirit” was a definition that resonated a bit stronger in my frustrated soul because at least it gave some credit to the Holy Spirit.

And then, at last, I came upon this definition from a Hebrew dictionary I found among my father’s archaic library: “the blessedness that the Lord enjoys.”

Although this definition uses a derivative of joy in the word “enjoys”, I found myself completely agreeing with this ancient meaning found among stacks of dusty, dog-eared books.

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven

Joy is the atmosphere of Heaven. It is the air God the Father himself breathes in every day of eternity. And because joy is Heaven’s delivered gift to me while I walk on planet Earth, it is my delight and strength to experience the blessedness that God on His throne enjoys.

Wow … put that in your heart and marinate in it!

Joy is God’s gift to us as we snuggle into His presence and hunker down into all that He is and all that He gives.

You Are Cordially Invited …

Have you ever been invited to dinner at a dear friend or family member’s home and then been forced to sit and watch hours of family, vacation and holiday videos?  Well … consider yourself invited over to dinner at my life because I, too, am going to force you to view my journey to joy!

Last week, we lingered over scenic view #1 in this verse, You will make known to me the path of life, in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

Today … welcome to scenic view # 2!

“Do not be grieved [or depressed] for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

You have an enemy who desires that you would live in a constant state of debilitating, relentless depression and discouragement. This enemy is unable to change the fact that you are Heaven-bound and have been guaranteed eternal life. He can do absolutely nothing about your entrance into Heaven’s gates. Since he can’t touch eternal life, what he attempts to do is to ruin abundant life. Don’t let him do it!

You have a God who wants to inject you with His joy because it is God’s miraculous, perpetual joy that will deliver strength to your life this side of heaven’s glory.

The devil does not want you strong. This diabolical laughing stock of a shadow of absolute nothingness wants you to be the weakest version of yourself possible and so he goes about it in one singular way: the devil attempts to steal your joy.

The devil is not after your marriage, your health, your finances, your children, or your relationships. What He is after is your joy and the way that he tries to access your joy is through your marriage, your health, your finances, your children, and your relationships.

Do not let the devil have your joy that Jesus died for! Stand toe to toe … nose to nose … with the accuser of the brethren and have a stare down. Hang onto your joy and declare in his face,

“Devil, you weak, whining, immature caricature of all that is not holy, you will never … not ever … not in a million Sundays … or in a thousand eternities have my joy. One of us is going down and it ain’t gonna be me!”

If you release any of your joy to the enemy it will turn you into a weak, whining, and ineffective Christian because the joy of the Lord is your strength.  Other than your salvation, I believe that your joy is the most valuable commodity you have been given while walking the surface of planet earth and sucking in oxygen.

The powerful gift of joy is able to give you indomitable strength during your days of pain and trauma. If there is anything the devil hates more than a Christian … it is a joyful Christian.

Hang onto your joy.  Don’t ever let go of  your joy because joy is what will give you the strength to fight and to carry on every day of your life!

Don't let go of your JOY

The Journey to Joy

You make know to meFor many years, I was a depressed Christian.  I loved the Lord dearly during those dark days and even knew that I was going to heaven when I died.  However, I couldn’t discover the joy of His presence on earth.  I felt removed from hope and peace.  The black hole of depression was my constant companion and my ugly friend.

My depression was birthed in a nearly six-year battle with infertility.  I sent 5 babies to heaven who had only lived in my womb between 12 and 20 weeks.  Each conception was a miracle … and each interruption was a devastation.

My hormones were out of control … my hopes were dashed …  and my arms were empty.  Every morning when I got up, the black hole called my name.  It followed me around from the kitchen to the laundry room to the grocery store.

Although I already had given birth to 2 delightful, precocious, lively little boys … I knew that I had been created to be the mother of more.  Motherhood was my destiny and my calling.  Why was it all so difficult?

After losing 5 babies prematurely, I then became unable to conceive.  My body was in full-blown betrayal and everything that a woman was supposed to do was impossible for me.

I spent years on high doses of fertility drugs and knew the despair of a cycle of disappointment every month on day 28 … or 29 … or 30.

During these sad, frighteningly hopeless days, I developed an addiction.  The addiction of my own choosing was not found in over the counter drugs or in obsessive shopping.  The addiction to which I tied myself did not come in a bottle filled with an alcoholic substance nor was it attached to binge eating.

My addiction … my drug of choice … was truly a miracle.  While I was depressed and reeling from the pain of dashed hopes, unanswered prayers and a body that was betraying me, I became addicted to the Word of God.

Word of God

During the days of blackness, the Bible became a source of joy and light.

During long nights of hopelessness, the Word of God spoke promises and purpose.

During months of discouragement, the Bible was a voice of encouragement and blessing.

My arms were still empty but my heart was full.  My prayers were as yet unanswered but I was falling in love with Him … over and over and over again.

I would go through it all again to know Jesus the way I know Him now.

During that season of healing and restoration in my life, I asked the Lord to allow me to become an expert on joy.  What a bold prayer for a barren woman to pray!

And now I eat joy … share joy … talk joy … enjoy joy … distribute joy … splash joy … know joy … and have built a life on the joy of His presence.

Over the next few weeks of blogging, I want to share with you the principles that I have learned from my addiction to the Bible.  Every week, I will be sharing a Bible verse with the word “joy” in it and what the Lord taught me from this particular verse.

Perhaps you can view it as if you are receiving weekly vitamins of the very best kind!  A weekly injection of joy in your dark, diseased soul!

I don’t know what has caused your depression and discouragement, but I can assure you that His Word is able to heal you and encourage you.  Believe me … I know from personal experience that His Word is a miraculous healing drug and a wise and faithful counselor.

Join me … as I share with you … my journey to joy!

“You make known to me the path of life;

in Your presence is fullness of joy;

in Your right hand there are pleasures forever”

(Psalm 16:11)


The joy is found wherever He is.

  • He is in every sunrise and sunset.
  • His presence is visible in the first flowers of spring and in the glorious leaves of fall.
  • His voice is heard in the symphony of worship and in the giggle of a baby.
  • His presence resounds in the roar of the ocean waves and in the majesty of snow-capped mountains.
  • He is found gently caressing His own in the trauma of emergency rooms and in the aftermath of violent storms.
  • He is found comforting widows and brokenhearted parents.
  • He is there in the humdrum of daily life when the dishes are piled high, the laundry is mountainous, and the bills never end.
  • He is there in unending days of loneliness and piles of tissues by your bed.
  • He is with you … and with Him … He brings the gift of Heaven’s joy!

When I am being overtaken by the deceit of my emotions what I really need is more of Him. In order to cultivate the joy of Heaven’s grandeur in my puny, ordinary life I need more of His presence and more time spent at His beautiful and nail-scarred feet.

When my joy begins to fade and is often replaced by loneliness or depression, I am gently reminded by the Holy Spirit that if I am lacking joy … guess who moved?

All the joy I will ever need this side of Heaven is found in hanging out with Him. It is found when I relentlessly choose more of Him and less of me; it is found when I understand the value of intimacy with the Lover of my soul.

If you need joy to be more practical than poetic, perhaps these suggestions will propel you toward the possibility of joy:

  • Choose a Scripture that has the word joy in it and memorize it.
  • Say it again and again and again.
  • Sing a favorite song from when you were a child in Sunday school.
  • Sing it again and again and again.
  • Whisper a prayer for someone other than yourself.
  • Read your Bible at least three days a week … then four days a week … then five days a week … until you have made it part of the substance of your life.
  • Sing at the top of your lungs while you are driving.
  • Invite some people into your home to pray.

Joy is a heartfelt and strenuous discipline that only the desperate are brave enough to choose.  I must choose His presence in spite of the world that roars around me.

For those who lack joy, perhaps part of the dilemma comes from looking for joy in all the wrong places. We mistakenly believe relationships will deliver joy, or that it is possible to purchase joy at the mall along with Gucci, Godiva, and the Gap. We think we will find joy at Disney World or at Harvard. Those pursuits, and many others, will leave you empty and lifeless, but the joy of His presence will fill you to overflowing and will give you the undeserved, miraculous gift of abundant life.

In the darkness


160896754Does your heart ever feel overwhelmed?

Are you ever disheartened by your inability to meet everyone’s demands and expectations?

Some days my heart vacillates between being raw with paralyzing frustration and simultaneously stimulated by a thousand agitations.

In the midst of my obsessive mental processing and impaired human emotions, I starkly realize that in the insistent whirlwind of life, I still have so much for which to be grateful.

Yet continuously … the floods of demands, disciplines, people, habits, chores, vices and commitments create a massive quagmire in my life that can only be described by one desperate word, “overwhelming”!

The call of life is just so deafeningly loud sometimes …

David the worshipper … the man after God’s own heart … shares my incompetence at dealing well with all that life dishes out.

“Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is overwhelmed;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Your tent forever;

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”

Psalm 61:1-4

Although I do not know what specifically overwhelms you, I can assure you that though the source of your staggering obstacles may look much different than mine, the answer for both of us is the same.

“Hear my cry, O God!  Give heed to my prayer.”

When you are overwhelmed, take it from David:  the first thing you need to do is cry out to God.  We need prayer more than we need our circumstances to change.  Just going to my infinitely gracious God, Who is lovingly attentive in all of His ways, reminds me that I am not in charge.  There is Someone mightier and more powerful than I am Who is well able to bring relief to my mountain of stress.

From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed!”

There is no sin in calling out to God when you are completely and utterly overwhelmed.

The sin would actually be in turning to other less satisfying options.  Have you ever mistakenly believed that spending, eating, being entertained, going to the spa or responding with your emotions is what you need to conquer the overwhelming circumstances and events of your life?  Those things are deceptive distractions and possess all the healing power of a miniscule band-aid following open heart surgery.

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I …”

178747790The second word of advice that is discernable in David’s prayer is that we all need God to lead us.  We need Him to take us by our human hands and then to guide us with His divine hands to a higher place.  He always wisely leads His children to a more secure vantage point than the circumstances of life are able to offer.  The benefit of standing on a rock that is taller than I am is that I am above my circumstances and therefore can see them from heaven’s perspective.

One of the most destructive mistakes that any of us can make during moments of overwhelming madness is to be led by our emotions.  Anger and impatience will do damage to relationships that may be difficult to repair.  I must humbly realize that my emotions often lie to me but God will lead me in triumph even in overwhelming times … especially in overwhelming times.

“For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy …”

When you are feeling overwhelmed, focus not on what is causing the irritation or annoyance but begin to declare Who God is.  Remove your eyes from your circumstances and set your mind, mouth and gaze on the only One Who is able to help you!  God is your safe place and will strongly protect you against the enemy forces of busyness, difficult relationships, a failing economy, health challenges and priorities.  He is more than able!

“Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”

There is no safer, more peaceful place to be than abiding in Him and with Him.  When I linger in His presence and enjoy the safety of His Word, the overwhelming things of this earth truly grow strangely dim.  When His nearness overshadows all that calls my name, I am at peace at last.  The life that He gives is the life that I have dreamed about and longed for.

His presence miraculously empowers me to face another day of the demanding details of life.  The Word of God powerfully protects me and shields me from the rapid fire of life’s demands.  Prayer helps me to wisely focus on that which is eternal and not on that which merely stirs up a raucous.

So … the next time that you or I find ourselves in similar and overwhelming circumstances … let’s not walk but run to Him and all that He is!  I resolve to take a break from this mad, mad, mad, mad world and to set my heart where it has always belonged … in Him.

While others are juggling the voices, the tirade and the insistence of this temporary world, I will be the one with my hands in air, gaze fixed on heaven and crying with gut-wrenching desperation, “HELP!”

Lead me to the Rock


Friends pic1I have a friend who says that one of her New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 is simply to be a better friend.

Now … it’s difficult for me to believe that it’s even possible for this girl to be a better friend because she is much, much more than awesome.  She is caring, consistent, loving and kind every day and in every way.

She is a good listener and a servant.

She laughs at my jokes and has been known to cry with me on occasion.

She is always ready for a girlfriend date but doesn’t intrude or presume upon my time.

She prays with me … calls me higher … sends me Scriptures … and is one of my chief defenders.

Who could ask for anything more?!

The gift of a truly caring friend is a rare and priceless gift.  In your entire lifetime … you may only be given 5 true friends or perhaps 10 friends who are loyal friends … friends who bleed for you … cheer for you … and cry with you.

From the day I was old enough to run across my grandmother’s backyard to Annie Scroger’s house … I have loved having friends.

178703605Annie and I had matching bikes when she was in the third grade and I was in second grade.  They were pink and white Schwinn bicycles.  Mine cost $32.  I remember.

I remember playing dolls and wearing our mother’s old bridesmaid dresses while dancing with imaginary princes.

I remember playing school with Denise Dix and taking turns being the teacher, writing on the miniature chalkboard and sitting one another in the corner.

I remember planning birthday events with Karla and the youthful addiction to staying up all night at pajama parties.

I remember reading the same book at the same time with the redheads who lived across the street and around the corner and then crying together at the end of the book because the story was over.

I remember playing endless games of Monopoly, Scrabble and Clue.

I remember going on long walks with Diane and dreaming of the prom, wedding dresses and babies yet to come.

Girlfriends … what a treasure this side of heaven!

It was during my high school years that I had a defining moment concerning friendship.  I realized that being a friend was not cultivated so much in what you did together but it was in how you treated one another.

Bike rides, Monopoly games and baby dolls faded in importance as I observed the way that girls treated each other.  I longed for a friend who I could trust … who wouldn’t gossip about me … who was faithful in difficult days and in good days … who wouldn’t betray me.

In a world of high school flirtations, drama queens and uncertain motivation, the Lord gave me a handful of girls who knew right from wrong … who knew the value of keeping a secret … and who were faithful.

Susie … Patti … Mary Ann … Diane … thank you for being my friends during the turbulent high school years.  You were … and still are … a treasured gift.

And now … in my adult years … the focus of friendship is not on doing or even on being … but is on becoming.

I long for friends who will pray for me and I for them.  I long for women in my life who will call me higher and show me what the Bible says.

I long for women who value Fruit more than feelings and esteem faith over facts.

I deeply appreciate women who aren’t afraid to accompany me through fierce storms and walk through fires with me.

I celebrate women who speak truth, sprinkle it with love, and call it “encouragement”.

Friendship, for me, in this season of life is more than pedicures, lunch dates and giggle fests.

It is infinitely more than chick flicks, accessorizing and commiserating.

Friendship is partnership in the Gospel.

Friendship is a twinship in prayer and in purpose.

I’d rather have a friend who shared a Bible verse with me than a recipe or a sale brochure any day!

The call of friendship is found in a woman who is determined that both you and she will walk in divine destiny not in mediocrity.

A valued friend will go to battle with you and for you.  She will roll up her sleeves, get on her knees and shout while the battle rages and the enemy fires.

Now … that’s a woman I’d love to go to lunch with!  And who knows … maybe we will even take time to get a pedicure!


I’d love to hear about your friends … from childhood … high school … and now.  What is the lesson that God has taught you about being a friend?

Friends pic 3Friends pic 2