"Tests are not a plot and conspiracy against you.  A test is to determine what you know, to see if you're ready for the next level (ie - a math test).  Don't moan over tests — count them all joy, and pass them!" — Karen Jensen

You've Graduated. Now What?

When I was a Bible school instructor, starting in about March every year my office would fill up with wild-eyed students headed for graduation – and panicking. “What should I do now?” was their plaintive cry. You might be asking the same question today, or know someone who is. Take heart, there is hope!

First, it’s vital to remember that God has a good plan for your life! He knows the next steps you should take, and He’s not hiding them from you – He wants you to know them even more than you do! He needs you walking in His plan for you. My new book can be a huge help in finding His direction – read the first chapter here: http://goo.gl/xs6a94.

Next, it’s important to keep your words in line with what you want. Don’t speak out doubt and unbelief just because you can’t see your direction yet.


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Lessons From My Nail Salon

I’m not really a “girly” girl, but at this point in my life, I must confess that I am fairly addicted to regular manicures, even though the maintenance of it all is a bit wearing. I use the excuse that I am often in front of people, either in the pulpit or on TV, and I want to look my best. Let’s go with that, shall we? (Work with me here).

So I was delighted to find that not only has my nail tech made my nails lovelier and more fetching (does anyone say fetching anymore?) but he has also taught me a great life lesson that I can share with you.

Phong (not his real name) owns the nail shop right next to a coffee shop that I frequent. I was new to the area and looking for a nail tech one day, so I dropped by to make an appointment, and as I was leaving he handed me his business card. Along with the name of the shop and contact information, the card read, “Come happy. Leave Happier.” I thought that was a catchy slogan, but I soon learned it was much more.

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Me and My Big Mouth!

Okay, I admit it -- I have been known to get myself into trouble with the things I say. I open my big mouth, and stuff comes out! I wish life had a rewind button so I could take some things back, don’t you?

And when we’re talking about praying and believing God, our words become even more important. For instance, have you ever heard anyone pray for something, then go right out and start saying exactly the opposite of what they prayed for? (Don’t raise your hand). We might ask God for help or direction in life, then say: “I can’t hear from God! I have no idea what to do. It’s so hard to know God’s will.”

That’s called “talking out of both sides of our mouth.” Sadly, it’s basically undoing everything we prayed for by what we’re saying! It means we believe more in what’s happening (or not happening) around us than in the Word, and we’re undoing our prayer with our big fat mouths! Agh!

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The Scariest Thing I’ve Had to Do as an Author (So Far!)

I’m a firm believer in the saying “no guts, no glory.” Almost everything you do in life is going to take faith, and you have to be willing to dive in. But it’s never easy. I always say, be careful what you pray for, because you might just get it, then you have to walk it out!

I have been a writer most of my life, and I always knew I would write my own books some day, but of course it took longer than I thought. When it finally came to pass, I realized that getting published was only the beginning! I was going to be called upon to make many, many tough decisions in the process of marketing and publicizing my books. Sometimes those decisions involved a lot of money.

When my first book, Why, God, Why? What to Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, was coming out in 2013, I needed to decide whether or not to employ a public relations firm. Now, hiring a PR firm to do a lot of the marketing work for you may sound like a great idea, but let me say this—it’s not cheap. Every month (for at least six months, maybe more) it was going to cost way more than my paycheck could cover. I would have to believe God for extra money—and we’re not talking about just a few dollars. Committing to this kind of output was the scariest thing I’d ever done!

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How Jesus Helped Me to Stop Hating K-Mart

My apologies in advance if you work at a K-Mart or if you love them, but I have a confession to make: I used to hate them. And really, I pretty much hated all superstores like them.

For one thing, they’re just so huge. You have to walk for miles and miles looking for things, and that just eats up time. For another thing, there are sixteen checkout stands but only two are ever open. Right? So the lines are long, and the checkers seem to move in slow motion.

Well, one day Jesus helped me get over my hatred of super stores (my neighborhood K-Mart in particular), and I just have to testify that when the Lord gives us His supernatural help with something, He can make everything fall into place so much better than you or I ever could.

On this particular day, back when I was a pastor’s wife, I had about a hundred things on my to-do list.

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Too Many Voices in My Head

Have you ever had so many things racing through your mind that you couldn’t make any kind of rational decision, much less hear the voice of God about it or get His leading? I have! In my mind the conversation sort of sounds like this: “If I do it this way, then that will happen. Or I won’t be able to do that thing. But if I choose this other way, then it might lead to this—or I’ll look like a fool. But if I don’t do this, then there won’t be enough to make sure that happens” (and on it goes).

Know what I mean? It seems like fifty things need to happen before you can go in the right direction, and you don’t even know where to start.

I’ve learned that when I get to the point that there are too many thoughts in my head, then it’s time to just stop. I know I’ve gotten too far off track and I’m trying to do too many things in my own strength. At that point I need to shut everything off and just get with the Lord to find out where I am and what needs to be done.

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The Day I Could Have Been Killed

I realize that’s a pretty dramatic title for a blog. But I want to talk with you about how to hear the voice of God, and I’m going to start with this example from my own life.

It happened one day years ago when I was in my early 20s, and I was driving on a long road trip by myself. I started to get sleepy and in my family when you get sleepy driving, there’s only one thing to do – stop and take a nap! (My grandmother used to say I could sleep while running to catch a bus – seriously, I can sleep anywhere). There wasn’t much traffic, so I just pulled well over to the side of the road, leaned my seat back, and took a little nap.

I don’t know how long I’d been sleeping when, suddenly, I woke with a start and heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Move—now.” So I started the car and drove away.


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My Biggest Frustration as a Young Christian

When I was just starting out in my walk with the Lord, there was a lot I didn’t understand. (That’s pretty typical for a youngster, so if that’s you, don’t worry – we’ve all been there!)

Just about my biggest frustration was when I heard ministers say, “The Lord told me this” or “The Lord told me that.” I’d think, “What do you mean, ‘The Lord told you’? Did He just talk to you? Did you hear Him out loud? How did you know it was the Lord?”

I would get so irritated I felt like throwing something at them! I just didn’t understand what they meant, and I didn’t know how I could hear the voice of God for myself.

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The Question I Get Asked the Most

Apparently, because I’ve been a teacher and a minister of the Word for a while, I look like someone who has answers. People ask me a lot of questions, and I’m happy to help if I can. Very often, people ask me about how to find God’s direction for their life.

I’ve found that most of us want to follow God’s plan and obey His leading, we just aren’t always sure how to go about it. When it comes to hearing God’s voice, getting His direction, and making right decisions for our lives, the question I get asked the most is, “How do I know when it’s really God?”

Maybe it’s happened to you. You pray and ask God for direction, “Lord, help me to know the right answer here – what should I do?” Then you get an idea of a direction to go in, but it’s so easy to second-guess yourself and think, “Is that just me? Is it the devil? Or is it really God?”

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5 Things You Need to Know About Getting God's Direction

Sometimes I wish life had a GPS, don’t you? Because sometimes I don’t know which way to go. I have a GPS on my phone for when I’m driving – yay. But when it comes to the decisions of life, I don’t always know which way to go.

How about you? Ever wish you had someone to help you make tough decisions? Someone who always knows what direction you should take? Well, if you’re a Christian, you do! Here are five things we all need to know when we’re seeking God’s direction for our life:


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One of the Coolest Things About God

Have you ever cried out to God and felt like He wasn’t paying attention? Like He’s gone on vacation and all you get is His voice mail or out-of-office email?

Maybe you’ve said, “I’ve been seeking the Lord, but He just isn’t answering.” You might have read Jeremiah 29:11 and said, “Oh, yeah, I believe God has a plan for me.” But you feel like you don’t know what the plan is and God won’t tell you!

Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth! One of the coolest things about God is that He is paying attention to your life! Like, I mean, really close attention – so close that it’s almost weird. Look what Matthew 10:30 says, “The very hairs on your head are all numbered” (nlt).

I think that’s one of the most amazing scriptures in the Bible. God has counted every hair on your head. Now, if you’re in a relationship with someone who’s counting the hairs on your head, I say run for your life because that’s obsession! That’s just weird! But there it is, right in the Bible -- God is apparently obsessed with you.

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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Remember when you were a kid and people would ask you that? If you’re like me, you thought being “grown up” was somewhere you arrived – like once we decided what we wanted to be, we were all set. We’d have it all together.

Ha! Now we’re grown up, and there’s so much we still don’t know, right?! We still have to make decisions every single day. It turns out we never “arrive” – we just keep having to decide what to do, what to be, which way to go, which option to take. Life is still full of decisions.

When you were younger, you probably took some aptitude tests to find out what you were good at and what vocation you might be suited for. You may have dreamed about “what you wanted to be” both personally and professionally.

But wait. God has a plan for your life! Wouldn’t it make more sense to seek the Creator of the plan, and then follow Him when making your decisions? Instead of asking, “What do I want to be?” maybe we should have been asking, “Lord, what do You want me to be?“

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How to Make the Right Decision Every Time

Have you ever heard anyone say, “If God would just tell me what to do, I’d do it!”

Have you ever said that?

I’ve heard statements like those a lot over the years. As a pastor and Bible-school instructor, I’ve met so many earnest, willing Christians who want to make the right decisions in their lives, but they just aren’t sure how to go about it.

Is that you today? Are you facing a decision in your life—a really big one, or maybe just a small one? Are you wondering which direction you should take?

I have some good news for you: you can make the right decision every time when you have God’s help. He is standing by to help you make every single decision—big and small. He knows exactly which direction you should take so that things turn out great for you.

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God Knows How to Increase You

If you’ve gone through a trauma or trial, sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost something, like you’re in some way diminished.

It can seem as though you’re on the “decrease” side of life.

Sometimes you did lose something. When my husband died, I felt the loss very deeply — it was real.

But I learned that the loss wasn’t the end of the story. Even if it seems as if your life is decreasing and things are being taken away, don’t be fooled. God is and always will be a God of increase.

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