Always Have Cupcakes Ready

Or a little money, an encouraging word, a smile…

My husband and a friend had stopped by the local grocery store. Suddenly, spotting a homeless man, my husband’s friend jumped out of the car and said he would be right back. My husband watched his friend retrieve several bills from his wallet and hand them to the homeless man. No questions asked, no advice given. My husband didn’t say a word as his friend returned to the car but his friend said, “I would be just like that if it weren’t for my wife!” This man is a successful businessman. He is a genius with computers, an inventor. But he is also bipolar and without his wife’s dedicated efforts to help manage his medication, encourage regular counseling and connection to a mature Christian men’s support group, he indeed would be homeless and living on the street. He is grateful. Grateful for someone who cares enough to stay involved in his life even though it is very difficult and challenging. He is grateful his wife won’t allow him to “function on his own terms.”

Many of us are impatient and don’t understand those who continuously struggle and fail. I put myself in this category! I have to daily remind myself that…

I would be in the exact same situation I often see others struggling with,

were it not for Jesus!

I struggled. A. Lot. Until Jesus reached out a hand and helped me up. I had to take that hand but He was patient with me, giving me chance after chance and then another chance.

When I didn’t recognize the hand of Jesus, He sent His people, people just like you and me, people like my husband’s friend. Those people were the hands and feet of Jesus.

My childhood family was dysfunctional due to mental illness. I often felt alone.  Unloved.  It caused me to do a lot of things I regret. Some of the consequences of those poor choices can never be removed.  But they can be used.  We don’t have to hide that brokeness.  God can take even the broken pieces of our life and make something beautiful out of it.  I didn’t know Jesus then. But today I believe He was there watching over me. Taking care of me.

At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I was suffering the natural consequences of a lot of bad decisions. I had to set out the fall semester of my junior year.

When I returned to school in the spring of my junior year I had to fit into a new class agenda and my whole friend group was basically on another schedule. A lot of them were still my friends, but I was different. So on February 9, 1972 (my 17th birthday) I found myself sitting alone at a lunch table in the school cafeteria. My friends were also on a different lunch schedule. I was feeling sorry for myself.

I was surprised and a little shocked when I looked up and saw Mr. Mathias standing beside my chair. He had a candle festooned cupcake in his outstretched hand.

“Happy Birthday Deb! Thought you could use a little encouragement.”

Today the memory of this event brings tears to my eyes. That day I said thank you but didn’t know what to think. As a mature Christian, I know Jesus sent Mr. Mathias with the cupcake. Mr. Mathias didn’t give me a lecture. He wasn’t critical in any way. He was always kind, not just on that day but on every day. He simply just found a way to express kindness and acceptance and carried it out.

Mr. Mathias was my highschool history teacher. I was a good student and enjoyed his classes. He didn’t see me as someone who made bad choices or someone who had made one too many mistakes. He could see past that fact and see me for what I might become and he went out of his way to do even one small thing that would be an encouragement. He went out of His way to find out my birthday and plan something special for me. He didn’t have to do that.

What if when we saw someone struggling with sin, depression or homelessness – instead of being judgmental we see them either for what they used to be or what they could become – if they just had a little help and encouragement? Maybe they had a difficult childhood and can’t get past it.   Maybe they fought in the military for your freedom and my freedom and experienced such horrific events that they can’t rise above it. Maybe they are college educated, had a wife and children and a good job but made a bad decision causing the family to fall apart.  Or maybe they are like my parents who suffer from mental illness of some kind with no one to advocate for them.

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith

need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter

and not just do what is most convenient for us.”  

Romans 15:1 (MSG)

Maybe if we could extend the hand of fellowship to those who struggle or give them a little support, some of them would rise above their mistakes and get back on their feet.  You may never know how a seemingly insignificant act of kindness will affect someone.  Ann Voskamp says, “tender kindness is the truest kind of beauty.”

So the next time you see someone struggling just know you could easily be in that place if not for different circumstances. Friends, we should always joyfully be prepared for what we come across. We should ask God every morning to help us be sensitive to someone in need.  Be prepared with some financial help, a cold drink, food, a smile, a pat on the shoulder or a kind word. One of the best things may just be a listening ear.  Even a cupcake will do!

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.” Oswald Chambers

How I lost 25 lbs (for FREE) in 6 Months – Part 5

This post is part of a 5 post series.  Click here to start with part one.

Make exercise fun!

And easy. Simple and accessible.

Drag out the bike from behind the paint and tossed aside stored baby paraphernalia.  Dust it off, oil it up and put air in the tires.  Then grab a family member or friend and go for a ride in the fresh air and sunshine.  Meet the neighbor from down the street and go for a walk every morning.  Or go for a walk by yourself, pop in the earbuds and listen to something uplifting or inspiring.

No need for an expensive gym membership or the latest cross-fit traning method.  As a matter of fact I advise against that if that is not already your norm.

It’s not necessary to start an exercise program the first couple of weeks of a new eating plan as that may even make it more difficult to stick to the eating plan.  Especially if we are cutting out a lot of sugar or junk food from out diets.  We will feel tired, possibly have headaches and joint pain as we get toxins out of our system.  If you do anything at first, start slow.  A 30 minute walk or bike ride.

Do one step at a time.  Get used to the first step then add in another one.

How I lost 25 lbs (for FREE) in 6 Months – Part 4

This post is part of a 5-part series.  Click here to start at the beginning with part one.

4. Keep it real…your food that is

We’ve learned how to discover our reason for staying healthy, the importance of recording everything we take into your bodies, and the importance of keeping our bodies hydrated.

We also need to keep it real. Everything we put into our bodies should be real, original and whole, unaltered food and drink.

There are several simple guidelines to follow to accomplish this goal.

Eat less CRAP:

  • C– Carbonated Drinks
  • R– Refined Sugar
  • A– Artificial Sweeteners and Artificial Colors
  • P– Processed Foods

Eat more FOOD:

  • F– Fruits and Vegetables
  • O– Organic Lean Proteins
  • O– Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • D– Drink Water

Beware of “health foods” or “organic foods.” These so called “health foods” often have a lot of additives or ingredients you can’t pronounce. I don’t recommend eating them, as they are not real or natural. They may be FDA approved but they are not natural or real. Stick with foods that are whole or unaltered. Use foods that have not been processed in any way. Foods that are in the same state as when they were harvested are best.

Over eating healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, etc. while great sources of vitamins and minerals, they also contain a lot of calories and if you consume too many in a day you will gain weight.

I know in today’s world it is very difficult to not ever use boxed or pre-packaged foods. The good news is several companies are coming out with prepared foods that have only natural ingredients and also 5 or less ingredients. When buying prepacked foods always look at the list of ingredients and choose ones that have 5 ingredients or less and ingredients that you recognize and can pronounce.  I do buy a few prepacked foods like chips or crackers but only the ones that follow the 5 or less, recognizeable ingredient rule.  They are more expensive but you either pay for good food or you pay for health care due to diseases later or pay for medication.  You get to choose!  Look for these foods and keep them on hand in your pantry.

One of my favorites are…

RXBars that are packed with protein but only have 3-5 total and natural ingredients. No artificial ingredients are included. These bars are chewy and tasty. I cut these into 4 pieces and eat only ¼ at a time to keep the calories to a minimum or reasonable level. This is one area where even though it is “clean” food with no additives doesn’t mean it doesn’t have calories. If you eat too many or too much you will gain weight or fail at losing the desired weight.

The Key to sticking to real foods is to make them available and accessible and to keep the wrong or artificial foods out of your pantry. Slowly (or all at once) remove any foods that have artificial ingredients and get them out of the house. If it is opened packages or foods that have a short shelf life then just dispose of them. If it is foods that would benefit someone who has nothing to eat then donate them to a food bank or a church that has a food distribution center.

Having real foods in the house that are easily accessible will take some time to accomplish and some planning. But once you have a list of foods you like and keep them available this will be just as easy as preparing the unhealthy boxed foods. The key here is to have them available and ready to go so you don’t reach for a boxed version or fast food because there is nothing else available.

I recommend keeping options really simple at first so as not to overwhelm yourself. So many programs suggest having uncommon foods on hand to use in recipes and we end up being frustrated or overwhelmed. Buy plain simple foods that you enjoy eating and start with those. Don’t get bogged down with complicated recipes at first. You can add in fancier and more complicated recipes gradually as you get used to eating real food.

When you first start cutting out all foods that are processed or high in sugar you may feel worse instead of better. You may feel sluggish, tired, or experience headaches. Many people mistake this for “not working” and give up before seeing any results. When you deprive your body of the sugars it has been addicted to for years your body is going to protest, crave sugars all the more and release toxins causing you to feel bad.

Don’t give up! If you need more rest during this phase, (you probably will) then rest more. If you need to take something for a headache, then take something. This will pass especially if you are intentional about replacing water. As a matter of fact I don’t recommend starting a campaign to get off of sugar or processed foods until you have gotten into the habit of hydrating daily with 3-4 quarts of water.

To be continued…watch this site for step 5

How I lost 25 lbs (for FREE) in 6 Months – Part 3

This post is part of a 5-part series.  Click here to start at the beginning with part one.

3. Be intentional about rehydrating with water 

Our bodies are made up of approximately 60 % water for the average adult.  Just like our vehicles won’t function without gas and oil, our bodies won’t function properly without water.  We have to intentionally replace the water our body uses and loses.

Thirst alone is not always the best indicator of when our bodies are low on water.  By the time we are experiencing thirst we are already a little dehydrated.  That’s why we are thirsty. If we feel “foggy” or have headaches, irritability, decreased energy or feeling tired, food cravings, dark yellow urine or muscle and joint aches, it’s likely a sign that you need more water.  If you constantly experience any of the above symptoms, try drinking more water instead of reaching for the ibuprofen or coffee or coke.  Those things just make it worse in the long run.

To read more about this subject and what constant (even mild) dehydration does to our body click here.

If you want to reset your metabolism, cleanse your body, help your major organs function more efficiently, lose weight and overall just feel more amazing and have more energy then just follow this plan.

How to Stay Hydrated

  1. Drink one quart of water before eating in the morning or drinking coffee. Make a cup of coffee the reward for drinking the quart of water.
  2. Make drinking a gallon of water your goal for each day.
  3. Use a quart container that you love. Or one that makes it easy for you to keep track of the amount you are drinking. I have a quart mason jar with a handle so I only have to keep track of drinking four of these each day.
  4. Have a way to take your allotted water along with you. I like Cool Gear for this. They have 12 oz, 16 oz or 33 oz containers that look like a tall ice tea can or a soda can. It makes you feel like you are drinking something other than water, if you need that sort of motivation, like I need.  The idea is to have a container that you love to use.
  5. Use room temperature water rather than ice water. You can drink room temperature water faster than ice water. I prefer to just drink the first quart quickly and this is accomplished easier if it’s not too cold.  However, ice water does burn a few more calories as your body has to warm it up, so you choose.
  6. Drink 8 oz. before any meal or before eating anything. So if you feel hungry, drink at least 8 oz. before eating anything.
  7. Drink 8 oz. of water before any exercise so you are well hydrated before you start.
  8. Drink 8 oz. after every 30 min of exercise.
  9. Drink 16 ounces about two hours before you will go to bed. If you drink it two hours before, hopefully you won’t be in the bathroom right away as some of it will have gone through before you go to bed.

So let’s add that up.

  • 1 quart (32 ounces) first thing in the morning +
  • 8 ounces before each meal or snack (32-40 ounces) +
  • 8 ounces before you exercise +
  • 8 ounces for every 30 minutes you exercise +
  • 16 ounces two hours before you expect to go to bed
  • = 94-100 ounces or 3 quarts!

So just making sure you do the above will get you ¾ of the way to drinking one gallon of water a day! Then just keep trying to increase it or adding a little here and there until you consistently drink one gallon a day.

Trust me. It helps to have a plan or a blueprint to follow. If you wait until you feel thirsty you won’t drink near enough water. Just follow this plan and you will easily stay hydrated and happy!

If you do just this one thing, it will help immensely on your quest to feel better and lose weight.  I know people who have only increased water intake and nothing else and have lost weight.  You naturally don’t eat as much, it resets your metabolism and cleanses your body so it works better and more efficiently.

How I lost 25 lbs (for FREE) in 6 months – Part 2

This post is part of a 5-part series.  Click here to start at the beginning with part one.

2. Record absolutely everything you eat or drink, every day for the rest of your life

Yes you heard me correctly.  Record everything.  Please don’t posts any mean comments on this.  I know almost every “diet” out there says, “never have to count calories again!’  Well that’s not true.  Not if you want to lose weight.  And you know what? Someone is counting the calories for you on those diets.  You’re just paying them to do it. As soon as you don’t use that diet and no longer pay to have someone keep track of the calories the weight comes right back on.  Why?  Because you are taking in too many calories.


If you consume more calories than you expend or use in any given day you will gain weight! There is good news however.  All you have to do is consume less calories than you expend or use in a day and you will lost weight!

The best way I have found to do this is with an App called MyFitnessPal.  Just download it on your phone or computer, input the initial information they ask for and then use the App everyday to record every morsel you put into your mouth.  This includes everything you drink also.  Even water as it is important to drink enough water.  And it’s FREE.  There is a paid subsciption for $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year but I have never done that.  The paid subsciption adds the following:

  • Ad-free Experience: Access MyFitnessPal on your Android or iOS device, or on the web, and enjoy all of premium’s awesome features without the distraction of banner ads.
  • VIP Customer Support: Jump to the front of the line when you need help from our world-class customer happiness team.
  • Premium Content: Get access to exclusive MyFitnessPal dietitian-approved original recipes, meal plans and nutrition tips created by our in-house nutrition and coaching team.

MyFitnessPal says if you join Premium, “you get a smarter, deeper understanding of what you’re eating with the highly customizable nutrient dashboard. Pump up your protein or keep a close eye on cholesterol? With our new nutrient dashboard, you see more than just your calorie goal. With one glance, you see progress toward your calorie and your macronutrient goals. No more digging to figure out your progress against macro targets.”

I’ve only ever used the free app and even with that you get lots of good helpful articles and recipes.  But if you need to be keeping better track of your cholesterol, or sodium or need to increase proteins then the paid app will be helpful.  I don’t get any financial commission for promoting this app.  It’s just a great app!

How I lost 25 pounds (for FREE) in 6 months – Part 1

Six months!  I know what you’re thinking.  “I don’t have six months.  I need to lose 25 pounds in 6 weeks!”

Well I’m just going to be honest with you. Number one it would be very unhealthy and unsafe to lose 25 pounds in 6 weeks and secondly, it wouldn’t stay “lost” if you did that.

Those of you who know me know that I am a nurse.  I’ve been a nurse for 40 years.  I will explain to you how to lose weight just like I tell my patients.  I’m going to give you the short, no nonsence version, just like I do with my patients, because nurses don’t have time for long explanations.  There are call lights ringing everywhere and someone else needs my help.  There is a lot of “scientific proof” behind what I am going to share with you but you don’t have time to read it and I don’t have time to write it.  Besides, I know you have heard this all before.  But I’m going to tell you again because someone has to.  I’m not even going to get in to what your health will look like at 40, 50 or 60 years of age if you don’t do what I’m about to tell you. Maybe you are already 60 or even 70 years old.  That’s OK. Not great, but OK.  There is always room for improvement in this area.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different!

Do these five essential things…

1. Don’t make your reason for losing weight just about the number on the scale or how you look!

This is NOT about body shaming.  I need you to hear me on this.  Nurses are not in to body shaming.  It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, the color of your skin or the size of your body parts.  God made you just like He wanted you and you are perfect just the way He made you.  But the INSIDE does matter.  God cares about the inside of your body.  The physical part, your mind and your soul.  He cares very much about that!  In this section we are only dealing with the physical.  Later we will deal with the heart, mind and soul.

We are to take responsibility for the body God gave us.  That means not putting into our body things that will cause harm to it.  Putting too much food or the wrong foods into our bodies causes harm. We need to be the “CEO” of our own bodies.  Make it our responsibilty.

Many of us take better care of our pets, cars and businesses than we do our own bodies!

With that in mind, you may know that you weigh more than you should or what is considered healthy by the experts.  But you need to make your reason for losing weight something that will get you up in the morning.  Something to aim at.  A goal to reach.  An-I’m-gonna-finish-this-race-called-life-well-if-it-kills-me-mentality!

Some reasons…our “why”

  1. Get healthy and lose weight that stays off so you can be good parents and grandparents.  That job never ends and if you can’t even walk up a flight of stairs or play ball with your kids you are missing out.
  2. To be able to influence and help your adult children and grandchildren.  You don’t want them to have to take care of you too early.
  3. To have time to leave a legacy or change your legacy.
  4. To be healthy enough so you can do ministry when you retire.
  5. To stay out of or not be forced to live in senior living.  It’s expensive!  Why not use your money now to stay healthy instead of paying someone to take care of you.
  6. To avoid or get off medication.  That’s expensive too.  In the last year or two especially, insurances are declining to pay for a lot of medications.  I manage my mom’s medications and my husband’s medications.  I take a few also.  In the last year alone I have been notified by the insurance company that several medications are no longer going to be paid for under our plan.  This will only increase.  We need to take responsibiltiy to manage our need for medications because we are going to be paying for them.
  7. Most of us have a lot of wisdom to share as we reach retirement age.  But if our physical health is poor we don’t have the energy to impart that knowledge to other people.  I recently heard a popular podcast host say his priority for managing his physical health was at a 5 out of 10 because it wasn’t that important to him.  He said relationships are more important.  Well guess what?  If you are sick or dead because you don’t make your physical health a priority, you will not be able to do anything about your relationships or make them a priority either!  It’s a balance.  We need to make our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health equally important.  One does not trump the other.
  8. To enjoy retirement years and feel rewarded for all the hard work you did during your working years.
  9. To not be a burden to your children or family.
  10. We only have one body and we are called to take care of it.  Most of our parts are not replaceable.  And the ones that are replaceable generally don’t work as well as the original.  So take care of it.

Before you decide to take the plunge and finally get healthy or develop a longterm plan for life, take a few days (or a week) and think about where you want to be in 10, 25, or 50 years. Picture yourself in retirement.  Picture yourself at 80 years of age.  Do you want to be on cruises, travelling the world?  Do you want to be able to play on the floor with your grandchildren? Run in the park with your grandchildren?  Influence your children or grandchildren?  Do you want to serve others and do ministry because you finally have the time to do it?  Or do you want to be living in a senior living facility, tied to an oxygen tube or worse, and being cared for by others.  You can have some measure of control over this.

Once you decide what your future health goal is then you need to look at what you are doing now or can do now and put a plan in place to reach that goal.  Early twenties is not too early to start.  As soon as you are old enough to manage your own health you should do it.  Even teens can do this.  This is what a visionary does.  See the big future picture or goal and then put the smaller parts in place to reach that goal.

If we are doing the latest, random, fad health kick, but don’t have a goal or a picture of where that will take us 25 or 50 years from now we are wasting our time.  Make a goal then work backwards. Choose an intelligent workable plan to make that goal happen.

essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

“The way of the essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better…or learning to filter through all those options and selecting only those that are truly essential.”  Greg McKeown

That’s what I want.  To be able to figure out what it is that I can do that will not only make the most impact but more importantly will have eternal impact and be what God sent me here to do.  I want to invest in the right activities.  We have to reject the idea that we can fit it all in.  If we choose carefully we can make one or two wise decisions and every other decision will support it or uphold that decision for years to come.

In “essentialism” you will learn the core mind-set of an essentialist or a minimalist mindset, how we can discern what the vital few activities in our lives should be, how to eliminate the trivial and do the vital things effortlessly.

McKeown says, “…for the first time, the preponderance of choice has overwhelmed our ability to manage it.  We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t.”

This will be an essential read for me in 2018! Pun intended.  Highly recommended!  Click here to order a copy for yourself!

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Mother & Son, The Respect Effect: What Every Mom Needs to Recognize in Her Son

On the back cover of the book, Mother & Son, wife of the author, Sarah Eggerichs, states, “As a mother, it is never too early and never too late to apply this message…” This is such a true statement! Whether your son is a toddler or a forty something (or older) dad raising his own family, you can learn how to communicate and relate to those boys. One thing I realized fairly early while raising boys was that by the time they reached puberty or were close to it, they had a need to be treated like men more than children. They would go back and forth between being a child and wanting to be a man but if I continued to treat them as a child the relationship suffered. One chapter in this book talks about how boys (and men) desire “shoulder time”. Shoulder time is allowing your son to just sit next to you without riddling him with questions about his day or simply just admiring whatever he is doing. Just watching. He will open up to you much more quickly this way and even invite you into his world.

I love the following insight by Eggerichs who says,

“Moms need reminders to be a little friendlier toward their sons, especially when someone is severely testing her patience, which most often is her boy.”

Do you respond in a friendly way when your sons test your patience? Or are you impatient and unfriendly. I know I could have done a lot better in this area. But like Sarah Eggerichs says, it’s never too late to apply this message.

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Why I read this book.

I am the mother of four boys plus I have a husband. Now, I also have seven grandsons. My husband says all the time, “I could use some shoulder time.” Often my husband asks me if I would like to help him in the garage or go along to do something with him. He doesn’t really want help, he just wants me to hang with him, admire him and do “shoulder time.” That’s what energizes him. My boys are now ages 28-34. My grandsons are newborn to eight years old. I’m going to apply these principles to those boys and see what happens. Remember it’s never too late to improve your Mother & Son relationships!

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers; Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate

In Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, author Leslie Leyland Fields tells the compelling story of her own journey to forgiveness of a distant, emotionally absent and sometimes abusive father. The author skillfully weaves the stories of others who are on their own paths of forgiving a parent. A very helpful part of the book is at the end of each chapter there is a section written by Dr. Jill Hubbard, a clinical psychologist, who tells the reader not only what the author is dealing with but practical solutions and fresh ways to look at these issues. Fields writes,

“many of us repeat even the most harmful of behaviors modeled by our parents – unless we recognize and confront them.”

This is a great resource for anyone who is dealing with a broken relationship with a parent for whatever reason. A lot of it is painful to read if you’ve been in this situation, but as Dr. Hubbard writes,

“When there is no awareness, acknowledgment, surrender, confession, remorse, or repentance, there is a very predictable runoff that spills over from one generation to the next.”

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Why I read this book…

I had to forgive my father and mother. I did that many years ago before reading this book but it’s a process. Pain needs to be peeled away, spoken about, to allow the new to grow, to allow the beauty to emerge. I also realized that the following by Fields is true in my situation – “Most of us have parents who did not mean it for evil, whose lapses and failings and absences were not intended to wound. They would take it back if they could. Many were in the grip of illness and circumstances they did not know how to change. They were weak, without understanding, trying to make their way without resources, not knowing how to raise children. Most did not mean it for evil, but even if some did, God was still present, and He still intends to use it for good in our lives, and for the good of others around us.”

My parents were in the grip of mental illness. Both of them, often at the same time. They were trying to make their way without resources. And when I realized God was present with me through those childhood years and He still intends to use if for good not only in my life but in the lives of others, I can run towards forgiveness rather than away from it. Forgiveness is my ticket out of a self-made prison.



A Family Shaped by Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most

A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland is a breath of fresh air. Morland writes of being raised in a dysfunctional family, pulled into alcoholism, and bringing these traits into his own marriage and family. That’s the first chapter. In the remaining 14 chapters he tells us that if this is your “normal,” how you can change it. Morland’s Timeless Tools of Family Peace (chapter 5) is well worth the price of the book but he doesn’t stop there. If you want to change the trajectory of your family and leave a different legacy for your children and grandchildren to pass down, then read this book A Family Shaped by Grace!

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Why I read this book…

I grew up in a family where BOTH parents suffered from severe mental illness. I had very few examples on how to be a wife and mother. All that I learned I learned from my mother-in-law and friends who I thought were doing it right. Also I didn’t become a Christian until I was 23 years old so I made a TON of mistakes in life between 14 and 23. At age 23 a dear Christian nurse I was working with led me to the Lord. Nothing grieved me more than when I discovered how much I had done wrong and what that would do to my future marriage and family. But God is a God of second chances. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve. He shows mercy and grace and will restore what the locusts have destroyed (Joel 2:25). I needed (and still need) all the grace I can get!