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The Power of Accountability & Friendship!

In the last 12 years there has been one constant tool the Lord has used in my life to bring growth in my spiritual walk…friendship and accountability!

Twelve years ago I started meeting with a small group of ladies for accountability, not Bible study, but accountability and prayer.  Each week we openly shared with each other how we were doing in our walks with the Lord.

Each week we answered the following questions using the acronym SOAP:

Scripture (How have I done with reading God’s Word in the last week, what am I learning?)

Outreach (How am I doing loving on others and reaching out to them?)

Accountability (What area of my life do I need to be asked about, where am I struggling, or where do I need a gentle push to get something I know needs to be done…done?)

Prayer (What do I need prayer for?)

It would be impossible for me to describe how much this faithful meeting impacted my life and spiritual walk.  Having to share with others how I am doing every seven days really helped me develop some life habits I had been longing to develop.   I work well with accountability!  I don’t mean the in-your-face discouraging accountability but the cheerleader you-can-do-it kind.  I don’t need someone to beat me up, I need someone to say “Mandy, you can do this and you need to.  I am going to ask you about it again next week.  Oh, and I love you.”

Another acronym that I have used are the M’s: Master, Marriage, Mothering and Ministry.

Master (How am I in my walk with the Lord, my master?  How are my daily times with Him?)

Marriage (This is a question focused on me as a wife.  What and how am I growing as a wife?  This is NOT a time for me to gripe about my husband, there never is a time for that!  What areas of wifeliness do I want to work on?)

Mothering (How is my relationship with my kids?  Are there things I need encouragement to do in relating to them and taking care of their needs?)

Ministry (How am I reaching out to others?  Where am I using my god given gifts to bring him glory?)

Let me state this clearly: For me kind accountability from friends who I know love and support me has been life changing!

A little over a year ago I heard about Hello Mornings, an online accountability challenge for women.  Knowing the value of accountability I wanted to know more.  Hello Mornings is a gathering place for women who long to be consistent in their seeking of the Lord, planning their days purposefully and exercising.  The challenge runs for 15 weeks.  Through different social media avenues or email a group of ladies work to encourage and hold each other accountable to spend time with the Lord daily, to plan out their days and to exercise.

I am on my second session of Hello Mornings, and it has been encouraging and helpful in setting patterns in my life.  The two groups I have been a part of have functioned using a private Facebook group.  On the group page ladies check in and give an account of how they are doing, some do so daily, others weekly.  There is honesty in those posts and encouragement in the comments, it is great!

Accountability can come in many forms.  If you have not given this a try, I would ask “why not?”…it is well worth it!


Today I ran a 5K.  That would be the first time I have done the 5K distance for an event.  A group of mom’s from my oldest’s soccer team decided to run the Hands on House 5K, so of course I joined them.  In the last two years running has become a great friend to me.  In 2010 I ran my first half marathon in the spring and followed it with a full marathon in the fall.  I have scaled back since then for many reasons, and it has been missed!  I have plans to hit the road for those long distances again in the future, but for now the 5K was a perfect fit.

I had two favorite moments in today’s race worth sharing with you!

Off and on through out the three-plus miles there was a VERY tall man running alongside of me, behind me or right in front of me.  We seemed to have similar paces and we just kept exchanging who was in the lead.  When it was time for the final push of the race this gentleman broke our running silence, where we had both lived, pacing ourselves and challenging ourselves.  Out of nowhere he speaks up and says “Hey, we have been exchanging places this entire time.  Let’s end it together!”  Immediately I picked up my pace and was like “Yes, let’s push to the end”…although I don’t think I actually said anything. We then turned on our wheels and approached two ladies in front of us.  Again my giant, no longer silent, encourager declaired “OK, take these two lets go!” and we dug deep and passed them.  Well I gave it all I had to the end.  My encourager had more to give and finished before me, but just as he left my side my second favorite part of the morning arrived.

On the final turn of the race my husband and four kids stood cheering!  “Go Mom!” As I passed them I was so encouraged to hear those sweet little voices that I love so dearly cheering me on!  I turned the corner and saw the end.  As I approached I realized my kids were running along after me on the sideline cheering as they went.  What a blessing!  I heard Emma declaire “I can’t keep up with her.”

I LOVE encouragement and a well placed exhortation!  In life we need it desperately!  When we think we have given it all we can or we have fallen into the belief that coasting is a good idea, a well put “kick in the pants”, “you can do it” does wonders!

Thank you silent-giant!

Thank you Brian and my amazing kids!

I am an extravert and I am OK with that

Home, it is a great place to return to!  We arrived home after a 17 day vacation tour of Texas that included 4,008 miles in the car!  We live in Pennsylvania, which is over 1400 miles from one of our Grandparents homes.  The majority of our family is dotted all over Texas and it is a big state.  After driving to see them as well as good friends from years past (about 1200 miles) we have the 1400 mile return trip.  Why would anyone drag a family of 6 through 4008 miles of Suburban driving?  We love people, family and friends who we do not see often, that is why!

Eleven years ago the Lord lead us to Pennsylvania, a wonderful move for our family.  We came here as a family of three and while here the Lord has added three “moore” to our numbers 🙂  We love Pennsylvania, it is home!  But it does not change the fact that our roots are Texan and our family lives in that big old Lone Star State.  We try to make trips back once a year or something close to it.

I was thinking that this vacation of ours would probably be an introvert’s nightmare!  We went from one social occasion to another, visiting with people each day.  And I loved it!  I guess I am an extravert for sure!  It is amazing how the Lord makes us uniquely different.  We are even different in the ways we relax and re-coop.  Give me a room full of family and friends who will sit and talk deeply about heart issues as well as laugh and joke along the way, and I am ready to go.

I hope you are grabbing a family vacation this summer, and that it is tailored just right for your personality.

PS Check back tomorrow for my top ten things you need for a family vacation road trip

It Is About More Than Baseball

If you follow me on Twitter, or if you are one of my Facebook friends then you are well aware that I have an obsession, a healthy obsession in my opinion, with the Texas Rangers and baseball!  This season Brian and I have been blessed with the opportunity to see the Ranger’s play three times, once in Baltimore, once in NY and recently in Philadelphia.  It always amazes me that people are surprised that we go to other ball parks dressed in our Ranger best to cheer for the visiting team, our Rangers.  In Philly Brian had a man come up to him and say he respected us for coming to cheer on our team even in an away stadium and that we would do so making our loyalty loudly known by our clothing.   I would not have thought we were a bit unique in that way, but I guess we are.  To date we have never had a bad experience in a ball park, we have enjoyed a little fun razzing, and some colorful words that could have been left out, but that is about it.

The night we went to the Yankee stadium was a profound memory maker for me!

The tickets were given to us by a friend of a friend.  I have no idea who they originally belonged to, but let me just tell you they were AWESOME seats!  You know you are in good seats when the chair is cushioned and the back of the seat in front of you has a sign that reads “Be alert for flying bats and foul balls”.  (for those who would like to know we were located 19 rows back from the Yankee dug out)

When we first received the tickets I felt an overwhelming since of God’s extravagant love for us.  Why in the world would He choose to bless us with tickets to see our favorite MLB team, and I am not talking about the Yankees!  Why would he choose to do so by blessing us with wonderful seats.  There are so many needs in the world, why would he choose to bring this unneeded, just for fun blessing our way?  I had the since that we were suppose to be in NY for a reason, besides learning that God loves to love on us.

During the game I had the privileged of sitting next to Tom, a Yankee fan who was gracious enough not to be annoyed at the fact that a Ranger fan was seated next to him.  We had fun talking baseball and teasing each other about the game.  He kept blaming me for the on and off rain that happened throughout the game.  In our small talk the Lord opened the way for big talk!  I told Tom how Brian and I had moved away from Texas for Brian to be a pastor in PA.  This opened the door up for Tom to tell me his current beliefs and church practices, which were rather interesting.  We talked off and on about what he is doing now in life after being raised Lutheran.  I was able to share my testimony in a few sentences with him and was thankful I had the opportunity to honor the Lord in that way.

Tom was with his son, Brian who plays little league ball.  After a bit the conversation turned to Josh Hamilton, the Texas Ranger’s left fielder who at that time was on the DL but since has returned and hit a homer off the first pitch he received (now that is what I am talking about!).

Last year I read Josh Hamilton’s book Beyond Belief.  My oldest was interested in reading it and I decided to read it at the same time to check on the content and to be able to have good discussions with her.  I loved reading this book!  First due to my obsession with baseball, the Texas Rangers to be specific, so any book about the Rangers is wonderful to read.  Secondly, Josh is a strong Christian man and his testimony of the dark roads of the drug lands that the Lord pulled him from is inspiring and hope filled!  Since Tom had brought up Hamilton the Lord prompted me to suggest he and his son read the book.  The book includes a beautiful testimony of the Lord’s redeeming work in Hamilton’s life as well as a dramatic picture of the power of the Word of God.  Through out the book Hamilton keeps writing that his life and his talent are about more than just baseball, they are an opportunity for him to point people to the Lord.  Hopefully, Tom and his son will take my suggestion and read the book, you never know what the Lord can do!  It is about more than just baseball.

I think that is what I saw that night.  Getting to go to the game was about more than just baseball…and I love baseball!  It was about getting to talk to Tom and hopefully encouraging him in his walk with the Lord.  What a treasure!  The Lord takes our delights and uses them to spread His word and His love, and that is a home run in my book.

Do you have delights in your life, favorite pastimes?

Are you making them available for the Lord to use?

I hope He is blessing you lavishly and helping us all to see how every area of life can be sacred when He is in it.

Shepherding/Coaching The Inside

“…life will present us with hundreds of opportunities in a single week to take a look at our internal world, to walk with God there, to become more fully his.  Don’t let your internal life go unshepherded.” – John Eldredge, Walking With God (p. 192)

The tendancy in our society/lifestyles is to only check the internal world when something is seriously wrong, but whatever is going on in the internal world is what drives or controls that which we do on the outside.  How I deal with my kids is a result of what’s going on inside, how I respond to the “idiot” driver at the intersection is a result of what is going on inside, what I say when I feel threatened by someone is a result of what’s going on inside, and how I plan my schedule is a result of what’s going on inside.  As Eldredge said so well, we have so many opportunities daily to do a quick or deep internal check.

I have realized that the analogy of shepherding doesn’t really help most of us, because we have never had sheep, been on a sheep farm, been to a petting zoo, or even worn wool!  BUT we have all had or been coaches…a coach seems to be the closest common analogy to a shepherd.  A coach encourages, resources, challenges, celebrates, and even gets in our faces from time to time.  A coach identifies things that we need to do differently as well as put us in positions to let our strengths shine and be used for the greater good.

Are you coaching your inner life on a daily/weekly basis?  I am so thankful for friends of mine who help me coach my inner world, who push me to make the hard decisions and celebrate the strengths God has put in me.  Let me encourage you to not let your inner life go UNCOACHED so that you are more fully his, for the greater good!

November 08

In November we celebrated not only Thanksgiving, but Emma!  It was Emma’s seventh birthday.  We celebrated by taking her, her two sisters and one friend to see Disney on Ice.  She kept asking me “is it going to be like a movie, or are they really going to be there?”  I watched her face when the first characters took the ice and it was classic!  She was so excited.  We had a super time celebrating her!

For Thanksgiving we traveled to Raliegh, NC to be with Brian’s brother Alan and his family.  It was our first opportunity to meet Lily and to see their new home.  It is always a blessing to be able to be with family, especially since our family is spread out over many states!  Owen really liked Alan and Michelle’s dog Maddy, who is a chow dog.  I am pretty sure Owen thought she was a lion!!  Owen would roar at her everytime he saw her 🙂 – precious memories.

While in Raliegh we got to meet up with some special friends at the park who were visiting family in Raliegh as well.  Our girls were delighted to get to see the Despres and play with Sophie.

If you would like to see some of these special moments, check out the newly updated gallery.

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