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Monday, April 30, 2012

What are You Listening To?

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it always does.

At least it seems to at the Cowell house! Sometimes, it’s relatively small things. Like forgetting to put chlorine in our pool all winter and pulling the cover off to find a deep, dark swamp. (Who, me?) Other times, the darkness is life altering. You’re praying for a loved one, asking God to turn them around, only to find out they have gone deeper into the pit of dark living. Discouragement threatens to pull you into the pit as well.

I know this is how Moses had to feel. He had obeyed God; gone to Pharoah and delivered the message. But the entire situation only got worse. In Exodus 6:6 – 23, not only did they have to continue the back breaking work of making bricks from scratch, now they had to get the supplies themselves as well! The people of God were furious with Moses; it was his fault that now the work was harder than ever and they blamed him.

Of course, Moses had done nothing but obey God. Obeying God, though, had made the entire situation worse…at least for the time being.

That’s the way life is sometimes. We sense God calling us, but when we obey, the situation gets worse.

Your child is struggling in public school, so you take him out to home school. For a time, his learning seems to go downhill; your in-laws blame you.

Your family time is suffocating, so you back off from volunteering so much at church in order to invest in each other. For a time, the church staff thinks you’re wrong.

You’ve raised your child to worship and follow hard after God, lived it out too, but now she’s “finding her own way” off at college. Some say you must have done something wrong.

Friend, when you have obeyed God and followed His Word and things only get worse, just know, that like the Israelites, God’s blessings are yet to come! When we make choices that follow the truth God has laid out for us, but it just doesn’t seem to working, we can be confident that God is setting things up to give Himself glory! Our job is to continue to obey; keeping our eyes on Him and His faithfulness and not on the immediate things before us. In Exodus 6:3, God revealed Himself as “El-Shaddai – God Almighty” and He wants to do the same in you!

It’s all about His glory and not our’s. “…Then you will know I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt.” (Exodus 6:7)

During this season, don’t be like the Israelites; don’t become so discouraged that you won’t listen to encouragement. When Moses came to give them God’s word, it says, “…but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.” Read God’s word, listen to sermons online, spend time with friends who will encourage you when the pit is dark and deep. Know that God is setting the stage for a mighty work of freedom and deliverance in your life!

Jesus, not only does my situation seem deep and dark, but sometimes I feel dark too! Thank you for encouraging me to look to You and know that you are faithful and are at work, even when I don’t see it. I can’t wait to experience your mighty work of freedom for me and my family. Amen



Friday, April 27, 2012

When You’re Offended…


Ooooooo….my girl was mad! Her teacher had called out her mistake in class; making her feel stupid. Already struggling in this subject, her embarrassment just made things worse. She shared with me, “My initial reaction was anger! I wanted to lash out at her. Then I thought, “What is going on in her life that makes her want to pick on little ‘ole me?” and so I prayed for her.”

I could hardly believe my girl’s words…she prayed for her?

Do you know,  her grade in that class has gone from a D to a B in a very short time? I knew God was blessing her but today, through the life of Job, I got why:

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10

After Job prayed. After Job had prayed for the very friends who ground his heart in the dirt during the most trying time of his life. After he had been accused time and time again of having a unrepentant heart. After he prayed for those who had offended him, the Lord gave.

I’d love to say I had taught my girl to do this, but I don’t remember doing that. I know who did; the Holy Spirit whispered to her heart that day and on that day, she obeyed.

Is there someone in your life who has offended you? If not, there is sure to be just around the corner! Let’s learn from the experience of Job and my girl: let’s pray for that one who has offended us and in return, reap the blessings that come!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisdom Post – ~Got Guts on the Internet?~

13 million kids will be bullied in the US this year in school.

Our kids think teasing is just normal. They don’t see their sarcastic tweet about what she did last night as bullying. Their covert posts seem benign to them, yet everyone knows who they are putting down.

It’s not ok to bully…for any reason. It’s not ok to call someone names. Not at school; not on the internet. Not in a text; not in a tweet. Not to a friend; not to an enemy. Not what’s true; not a lie.

The internet has given our kids bravery in the worst sort of way. Things they would never have enough guts to say to someone’s face, are proudly typed out on a screen.

Let’s teach our kids: think twice about the things you say and the things you type.

Literally, read it twice and wonder:

What if I put this post on Jesus’ Facebook page? Would He be good with it? If my text accidently went to Jesus, would that be alright? If Jesus followed me on Twitter, would He be proud or ashamed?

Everything word spoken, written, typed or texted – needs to honor him. Let’s teach our kids: be careful with the words you choose.

Would you like to bring the  “Revolutionary Love” to your city? We are booking for fall! Head to and click on “Speaking” for more information!

 His Revolutionary Love Conference helps teens:

  • Create confidence leading to a higher self-worth by discovering Christ’s life-altering love.
  • Make choices that lead to a fruitful future, rather than a victim of emotionally-based decisions.
  • Shift faith in Jesus from just a parental influence to a personal, growing relationship.
  • Develop and stick to boundaries that protect the heart, mind, and body.
  • Communicate with guys and other girlfriends in a manner that’s healthy and positive.

Monday, April 23, 2012

But I’m Just Not Sure!

What terrific encouragement we all shared while in our waiting rooms last Friday. There are definitely times in our lives when all we can do is wait; things are completely outside of our control.

But what about the decisions that are within our control? 

What’s a girl to do when she wants something and she’s prayed, waited and she’s doesn’t have a clear answer? No stop light; but not a clear green one either.

My husband and I have felt in this place…for years! Like you, I want to be in the perfect place God has for me; not ahead of Him and not behind. I just want to be in His will, but I don’t have a clear “yes” or “no”.

Yesterday, I was comforted by His words in Job (I know, Job of all places!)

“God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone! HE is mighty in both power and understanding. He never takes his eyes off the innocent…If they are bound in chains and caught up in a web of trouble, he shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride. He gets their attention and commands that they turn from evil.”Job 36:5, 7a, 8 – 10 NLT

When my heart is to honor him through obedience and I am seeking to do that every day in every situation and relationship, he sees that. He never takes his eyes off of me. When I am yearning to stay closely walking with him, he’ll show me if I’m heading in the wrong direction! Pointing out my sin if I am getting stuck; He’ll get my attention so I’ll turn around.

If honoring Jesus is the center of all you are and all you do, you, too can be confidence that he will guide. You can rest assured like Job, “God is leading you away from danger…to a place free from distress.” Job 36:16

Write Job 36:16 out and carry it with you today. When anxiety tries to squeeze your heart, thank Jesus that He is leading you away from danger to a place that is free from distress.


Friday, April 20, 2012

While I’m Waiting…

If you are joining me today from Proverbs 31 Ministries’s Encouragement for Today, welcome! I am so glad you’ve come!

Waiting…I have yet to meet a person who actually likes to wait! Yesterday, Mariah and I sat in the waiting room of the dermatologist. After only 10 minutes, I heard a very deep sigh. “What’s wrong?” Through gritted teeth she informed me, “I have so much homework I need to get to!” Waiting…

I bet like me, there is something you are waiting on God for. I am…waiting for my children to seize the truth that God’s way is the best way…every time.  As I watch them struggle through trying to figure out life, every fiber of my being wants to take control and live it for them. I’ve already been there, right? Even though I know they have to work out their faith on their own, I squirm inside my skin, wanting to fix this and do that for them.

What’s a girl to do while she’s waiting if she can’t fix it?

Our church is in the middle of a series called Waiting Room…how timely! This past Sunday, Holly Furtick, said this principal:

What seems like a pointless or painful waiting room maybe God’s most important work room. 

She encouraged us, that while we are in the waiting room, resist the urge to complain and fill our situation with praise just like Paul and Silas did while in the jail (Acts 16:15). They used the time of waiting for God to move as a time to preoccupy themselves with fulfilling God’s purpose instead of trying to figure out a way to escape their problem.

I’m so guilty of wasting time trying to figure out how to solve my problem. How can I influence my kids the most? What books can I buy? What conversation can I instigate?

Maybe you do this with your problem. How can I meet a Christian guy; I’ve waited so long! What can I do to get more attention at work; snagging that promotion? How can I get my husband’s eyes off the tv and on me?

The problem with this, as Holly pointed out, is the thing we’re waiting for is a moving target! As soon as we get that thing, we begin waiting for the next thing! We get married, we want children. We get that promotion; we’re already looking at the next.

Let’s grasp a hold of the fact that the waiting may actually be the destination. The place we are in is the place God wants us to be. God wants me in a place where I have to depend on the Holy Spirit to do the work in my kid’s lives; it grows my dependence and faith too! This is the time and place to develop my prayer life and listening ears so that when the Holy Spirit opens the doors to use me, their hearts are ready and I am too!

Are you’re teen kids you’re waiting room? If so, join me each week for my “Wednesday Wisdom Tips”! Just click on the box above to begin receiving them straight to your email!

What are you waiting on God for? How can you be “working” while you are waiting?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom Tip ~ Don’t Shut the Door!~

Behind the closed door, better yet – locked door – Mindy finds comfort. She hates arguments with her mom, but she never sees things her way! The fights are always the same – what she’s doing wrong. Her favorite weapon, hiding in her room, gives her the last word. At least she wins…

Or so she thinks.

Mindy couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s not just Mindy. Sometimes, as moms, we do the same thing.

Jesus doesn’t tell us “never be angry”.  Legitimate reasons for anger are out there – when kids get picked on or justice isn’t served. What Jesus does say is “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”  in Ephesians 4:26. Going to bed mad gives evil a whole night to work. Hours and hours pass as hearts and minds simmer in the boiling fury making it harder for forgiveness to bring peace to the broken relationship.

It’s ok, healthy even, to take a break when tempers flare. Time outs can prevent unwanted words from flying out of an unchecked heart, but don’t let the break last overnight. Agree to disagree, if need be. Ask for forgiveness, say you are sorry. Decide to talk about it when you’re both calm and can reasonably listen and discuss. Just don’t let the sun go down while you’re angry…


Monday, April 16, 2012

~Real Guts~

The winner of “Girl Talk” by Nicole O’Dell is Bette! Congratulations Bette! Please email me your full name and address and we’ll get that right out!

Real guts.

That’s what it takes to be truthful, but do you ever find yourself saying:

“Nothing’s wrong!”

“I’m not mad!”

“It’s no big deal!”

Yet, inside, you’re crying, seething and aching.

Genuine friends tell it like it is. They aren’t hurtful; they aren’t hateful. They’re honest though. True friends recognize truthfulness as the foundation to long lasting relationships.

No honesty, no friendship.

If a friendship is based on falsehood, when hard times come, the relationship crumbles.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to be honest. I have gone to many lengths to get around telling those closest to me how I really feel. Fear of rejection whispered to me “the truth turns others away”. It wasn’t until I felt the Holy Spirit challenging me on my lying ways that I began to make changes.

Jesus commands us, “put off falsehood and speak truthfully”.“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25 Follow his command and build relationships that last a lifetime.

Jesus, I am terrified to be honest. What if they reject me? Help me to fear disobeying you more and trust that as I am truthful, I’ll create long lasting friendships. Amen


Friday, April 13, 2012

~Help! I Need Answers! ~ Guest Nicole O’Dell

Today I’ve invited my friend and author, Nicole O’Dell to be my guest. Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life’s tough choices. She’s just released an amazing resource for girls…Girl Talk. Filled with questions your girl is asking, even if only in her head, she’ll find the answers she’s looking for!

Nicole…introduce us to “Girl Talk”!

Q: I recently lost a lot of weight and started high school at the same time. I’m getting all sorts of attention from boys, and I just don’t know what to do about it because it’s so new to me. I kind of like it. . .but I’m nervous. What should I do?

That’s a question I would have asked if I’d written to Girl Talk at the start of my freshman year of high school. But, I didn’t know to ask. I didn’t know I was facing a challenge. I simply reacted to things as I faced them. And I made mistakes. Many of them.

Each of us has a set of experiences and circumstances, some within our control, and some not, that shapes the way we look at choices, temptation, sin, peer pressure, and everything that comes up along the way. If we can help prepare girls before they find themselves staring peer pressure in the face, they’ll feel more equipped to stand strong. To say NO to whatever life throws at them.

Why girls?

Hmm. What is it about girls? That’s a great question. I guess I relate to them because I am one. But, more than that, I have an ache in my heart that wants to help ‘em out. I’ve said it 1000 times, but I’ll say it 1000 more, I’m sure. It’s the memory of the poor choices I made as a teen, and the results of those choices, that motivates me to help today’s teenagers avoid those same mistakes.

And bad decisions are one thing, but there’s also the stuff girls deal with that they have no control over: divorce, abuse, loss, grief, i

  • llness, financial strain; those life-altering circumstances make it even more difficult for girls to stand against the pressure when all they want is friendship, acceptance, and love.

    It takes pro-active, intentional effort to make the necessary preparations to help teens combat peer pressure.

    That’s why my daughters and I started the Girl Talk Column on my blog. We wanted to give girls a place they could go with those tough questions about life. The column grew and the questions built up to the point when we, along with Barbour Publishing, decided to put 180 questions from readers and our answers into a book. But it’s not just any book–the vibrant, trendy format has a scrapbook-y feel as each page is full color with graphics galore. Take a look at the trailer to get a better feel for what it looks like:

    Girl Talk You Tube video

    What are some other questions covered in the book?

    We answer things dealing with sex, peer pressure, eating disorders, faith issues, and family concerns. A while back I asked my girls which were the toughest ones for them to answer. Here’s what they said:

    Natalie: This one time a girl wrote in to ask about sex. She said she was confused because she didn’t know if she’d actually had it or not. It was hard for me to answer because I definitely haven’t, and I didn’t really get how you could not be sure if you had or not. I kind of had to direct my answer to what I knew, and just wait to see what Mom answered. I definitely learned from that one!

    Emily: Hmm, the one that comes to mind can be found on page 72 in Girl Talk. It was about why God allows bad things to happen. Why doesn’t He just prevent them, since we know He can? UGH. That was a hard one. In fact, I still don’t know that I feel like that question can be answered good enough. I can’t wait to ask Him myself. . .well, I can wait. . .you know what I mean.

    So you can see the questions made us think, sent us digging in the Word, and took us to our knees. They were real concerns from real girls, so we took them all very seriously.

    If you’d like to win a copy of Girl Talk, signed by all three of us, just leave a comment here. Tweeting about this post and/or signing up for my Choices e-Zine/newsletter, will earn you a second or entry! Just leave a comment, letting us know you did!

    Remember, it’s all about choices!


    Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life’s tough choices. She’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular advice column. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents helps pre-empt peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit for more info.

    Emily is a straight-A fifth grader at Eastlawn School in Paxton, IL. She lives with her mom, stepdad, three sisters, and two broth- ers. Never found without her iPod, Emily loves to dance and sing. She’s a busy girl who enjoys swimming, skateboarding, and hanging out with friends. She’s active in her community and local church, and plans to be a teacher when she grows up.

    NatalieNatalie is an honor student in the eighth grade at PBL Middle School in Paxton, IL. The oldest daughter of six kids, Natalie is a very loving and hands-on big sister. She’s passionate about her walk with Christ, and almost as passionate about the game of volleyball. She holds first- chair clarinet in the school band and looks forward to high school marching band. At this point, Natalie aspires to a career in the culinary arts, but is open to other possibilities.

  • Lynn

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Wednesday Wisdom Tip – ~It is that Big of a Deal~

    “Love is patient, love is kind…” 1 Corinthians 13:4a

    Ever have those days when your child’s emotions are so unstable she goes from crying to laughing faster than a sell out on Black Friday?

    At moments like these, we think, “Here we go again!” We just want her to calm down. In an effort to move this process along we might even say to her: “This isn’t that big of a deal.”

    When we hurry our child past the emotions she’s feeling, we’re really saying: “I don’t really care. You’re annoying me.” We invalid their feelings. She may feel we don’t care about the things she cares about causing her to feel alone even unloved.

    If, instead, we choose to listen and learn, we can hear the heart of our child. Beyond the tears and raised voice, there is pain, rejection, or excitement. Listening past the words to hearing the heart will open doors for you to encourage her and to show her real unconditional love.

    Remember: what you sow you reap. Listen today; you might need to be heard tomorrow.

    Give me patience and compassion, Jesus, for those who need to be loved by me. Amen


    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Wednesday Wisdom Tip – Prom Prep


    Here it hangs! The prom dress…just waiting for the big night. Having never gone to prom myself, I pictured an agonizing day of shop hopping and coming up empty. This mama who really doesn’t enjoy the mall…at all…walked out in a record two hours!

    I have to admit, this bag represents anxiety for me. My girl has never had a boyfriend; never been on a date. And although she is going with a friend, my heart still skips a beat and my eyes start to well, because I know what prom is about for most teens. A night to do all the things that break a parent’s heart….

    So, since we are becoming wise moms, what steps can we take to prepare our kids, should they choose to go to prom?

    A friend of mine shared with me one mom’s answer.

    Before prom night, they put out an invitation to their student’s friends to return to their home after the dance. Each student had to sign a contract saying they would not bring any substances to their home. The contract also stated that once they entered the home, they had to stay until morning; once they entered, there was no going out. They would provide food, games, and movies for the party goers…as well as supervision. The contract was signed by both the student and the student’s parents.

    I like this idea…it gives peace of mind to the parents while providing a memorable experience for the kids.

    Is your student attending prom? If so, what perimeters are you putting in place to insure both safety and fun?