The Blessed Warning

We stopped at the guard shack before starting our Arizona hike. The kind couple working the gate was a wealth of knowledge. Their love for their jobs was apparent in how careful they were to inform us of all the interesting wildlife and vegetation we should expect to encounter.

As the sweet lady completed highlighting our route, she handed the map over to me. She warned, “Oh, I must warn you. There is one thing you must not touch or even get close to. It’s called a Teddy Bear Cactus. It looks like something soft and cuddly, like a teddy bear you’d want to grab and hug, but it’s not what it seems.”

The warning didn’t stop there. She told us that a teddy bear cactus could actually leap toward us if we moved too close to it. My mind was spinning trying to envision this man-eating cactus that might attempt to chase me up the path. Apparently, this type of cactus has stems that disconnect quite easily. The spines have barbs that burrow into the muscle fiber and make it painfully difficult to remove. Needless to say, we spent our hike looking more closely for a loose teddy bear cactus stem than we did watching for rattlesnakes.

I’m grateful for the warning about the cactus and even more grateful for the warnings we find in scripture: “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs’” (Luke 12:1-3).

The danger of hypocrisy is how it can lead people astray. It can fool and blind those who are unable to discern. The teddy bear cactus appears to be soft and cuddly, but in reality, it is harmful to us. The Pharisees Jesus warned about were guilty of hypocrisy, and in His kindness, Jesus warned His followers.

Warnings found throughout scripture are there to guide and protect us. They are filled with God’s love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and blessing. Sometimes we hear warnings and choose to ignore them. Sometimes we disbelieve there’s true danger. But when we believe we are hearing a warning from God, we can focus on His nature and character. He loves and cares for us. He desires us to follow truth and not find ourselves at the hands of deception or a prickly, barbed cactus.

In order to strengthen our discernment muscles we can do two things: pray and read the Bible regularly. God delights in answering our requests to become greater discerners in a culture filled with competing ideas to Biblical truth. The more time we spend soaking in God’s Word, the more equipped we are to spot hypocrisy when it presents itself to us. We must be on our guard as Jesus warned us.

As I reflected back to our hike among the prickly teddy bear cacti, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s faithful warning and protection. He kept me safe from a plant that appeared soft and cuddly but in reality would pierce my skin and cause severe pain.  His heart is to keep us on the safe path. His “word is a lamp for our feet, a light on our path” (Psalm 119:105). On His safe path, we can trust that little by little we will see growth.

This devotion was first published on Rooted Moms Ministries. I’m on the RM Writer’s Team and have been so blessed by the ministry. Check out their website and see how it feeds your soul too!
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Answered Prayers, Unexpected Gifts, and Lyme Disease


If you have been reading along our health journey with my 9-year-old, you know that we have had 3 instances of unexplained knee swelling over the course of 2 1/2 years. Each swelling worse than the one before. He showed no other symptoms. He is a healthy boy, very active and bright. The most recent knee swelling proved to be the toughest we’ve faced. At the worst point, he was unable to walk.

Each trip to the doctor left us still searching for answers. What was causing this knee swelling? The doctors were genuinely puzzled. So we prayed. And we enlisted an army of believers to lift Zachary up to our Heavenly Father. Our prayers have been answered.

12 days ago Zachary and I spent all day at the Rheumatologist and the Orthopedic. Ten vials of blood and 2 bags of knee fluid later, we left with more questions. MRI, X-Ray, blood work, labs on fluids. Everything continued to show a healthy child.

But we were praying. And we had an army of believers placing requests on Zachary’s behalf at the Father’s feet. Specifically, we were praying God would grant wisdom to the doctors treating Zachary, that God would grant healing, that God would bring us the answer to the root cause of the swelling.

Four days after blood was drawn by the Rheumatologist, she called and asked if Zachary had been exposed to a tick bite. It was possible. I mean he is a boy, he lives outside, he loves the woods. I’ve never seen a tick on him, but anything is possible. Answered prayer #1- wisdom to the doctor. She had no good reason to test for Lyme because he showed no symptoms and we live in North Carolina. She didn’t know we lived in Virginia for 2.5 years. She could have fit him into a type of arthritis and treated him. But God heard our prayers, and He granted wisdom to that doctor.

Sometimes God is answering our prayers in stages, yet we move about life unaware of Him.

Lord, let me never become unaware of your constant provision.

Yesterday afternoon the rheumatologist’s nurse called. “Great news! Zachary’s blood work looks beautiful. He is one healthy boy.” I hung up with feelings of relief mixed with more questions. Thirty minutes later the doctor herself called to let me know Zachary tested positive for Lyme Disease. “I’m shocked,” she told me.

Answered prayer #2 – Answers. We can move forward with treatment.

Answered prayers #3 – God has been protecting Zachary’s body from some of the more severe symptoms of Lyme for the 3 years he has had this disease unknown to us. Praise God!

We are thankful for the multitude of people who have been praying for us, and we continue to ask for your prayers. Lyme can be a long road.

People continue to ask me how Zachary is handling this. On the drive to school, he said, “Mom, I think God allowed me to have Lyme so I can help the world.” Amen, sweet boy, amen. This child is tender to the Holy Spirit. He has a heart for Jesus like I aspire to have. He sees the hand of God at every turn along his journey of life. I’m confident that God will use Zachary to bring comfort or encouragement to someone else with Lyme. Or he may just use Zachary to shine a light for Christ to someone who needs to see beyond the illness and pain that plagues our world.

In the midst of all this, a friend contacted me Sunday and offered to volunteer several hours a week for the next 4 weeks to help me with my ministry. Friends! God provided for me before He brought me this news of Lyme. He is always taking care of us. He is always at work in our lives. When she contacted me, I sat at my kitchen table with no words. Why would she offer to help me during the busiest time of the year? She doesn’t even really know me. Why? Because we serve a compassionate God who loves us more than we can fathom. He placed on her heart to help me, and she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Last night I researched online about Lyme. The more I read, the more fear began to speak into my heart. Fear is not welcome here. Fear and faith are at odds with each other. The best way to fight fear is with the Word of God.


2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We head into Thanksgiving, and our hearts of full. Thursday we celebrate our youngest turning 6. Not possible!  We have much to give thanks for.

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What to remember when school is in full swing


The excitement of new school routines quickly morphs into the stress of the realities of life.

Can you relate here?

Week 1: Lunches packed hours before bedtime, clothes laid out neatly the night before, children showered before bed with plenty of time for stories and snuggles, menus planned and groceries stocked, hot breakfast on the table, mom sings sweet wake up songs through the hall to awaken sleeping angels, spirits high, encouraging words come easily, the world looks bright.

Week 2: Honeymoon fading fast, lunches remembered right before bed, kitchen is destroyed in the haste of lunch packing, no time left for showers- they can wait one more day, rush them to bed so we can squeeze in a quick story and a speedy snuggle session, hit the bed grateful for rest to realize they will have no clean clothes for the morning, jump out of bed and smell the dirties – make a decision, choose to start clothes now and wake early to dry, go to sleep praying you remember to start the dryer when you wake up, wake and realize there is no time for playing, skip the singing and begin barking wake up orders, rushing begins, shakes on the go, breathe when everyone is where they need to go, pray your voice sounded sweet and pleasant or they will at least think it did.

Week 3: Honeymoon over, sports and activities begin, showers become weekend events, lunches become something I will not put on Instagram, dinner planning becomes a bit more spontaneous, my voice becomes a little edgier, I realize I have been holding my breath, they fight over who is wearing whose belt and who stole someone’s socks, rush, rush, rush, we make it to the end of the day, we try to remember to be grateful, we try to remember to be positive, we realize we simply can’t do it all.

Life is exhausting. Life will always be full. I can’t plan and organize EVER the way I would like to. The life of others will intercede and take us off the course from simply doing our own thing (and this is a good thing). I am more fragile than I thought. I am stronger than I thought.

We moms are incapable of being all we want to be. But there are 2 key verses to remember when we get into the full swing of a new school year.

Moms, whether we like it or not, we set the tone. The days I begin grumpy, my attitude slithers through my home like a stink bomb. On the flip side, I’ve seen days I choose to smile, I choose to breathe deeply, I choose to pray, I choose to speak kindly, I choose to let go of the small things. On these days, I see the power of my tone in setting my family up for a day that begins with joy rather than clawing their way to joy.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

As a mom I have the power to build a home or tear one down.

I can choose joy. I can choose gentleness. I can choose kindness. I can choose to be ok with getting less done. I can choose to be ok with not being all to everyone, but being all to the ones I’m called to first. I can choose to find the things that cause me to tear my house down and tear them out of my life instead. I can choose to look for the reminders of His grace that will inspire me to truly build a home.

Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

I can choose what look to wear on my face. I can choose a cheerful look, or I can choose a grumpy face. The face I choose holds power in directing my heart while setting the course for the day of the one who looks into my face.

When I don’t feel like it, I can choose to smile. That smile might actually cause me the slightest shift towards a change in my own heart. It might be just the thing that tears a wall down between me and the ones I love the most.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.

Moms, as the school year gets into full swing, let’s unite to be home builders, not home wreckers. We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it perfectly. But by His grace, we can do it better than we imagined possible in ways that are far simpler than we ever fathomed.

We start with Him, we fill up with Him, we give out of Him.

The key to building a home begins with asking God to grant us the wisdom we need to build a home that lasts. Then we take one step. We put on a cheerful look, and we walk through life looking for His grace each step of the way.

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