Join us for the first episode of Coffee with SJ

I am SO excited to share with you something I’m finally getting the courage up enough to do.

This coming Wednesday, April 26th at 7:00 am CST, I’m launching my very first LIVE episode of “coffee with sj.” 

Coffee with SJ

Each week I’ll be hanging out with you – real, raw, live. Prepare for some crazy hair, pajamas, and of course, coffee. I’ll be talking faith, life application, health, answering your questions, and more.

The show will be happening live every Wednesday at 7:00 am CST on my Facebook page. 

Feel free to share some specific topics you’d love to chat about, and comment with any questions you have.

I’m so excited to start our Wednesday mornings together!

If you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, you can do so right here… 

An Open Letter to Abusers

Revealing the Truth About Who You Really Are

There’s this thing about me – sometimes it’s good and other times it can get me into trouble. I hate injustice. I hate watching innocent people be wronged, hurt, betrayed, beaten down. It turns out God hates those things, too. 

An Open Letter to Abusers

Sometimes it’s hard for me not to take justice into my own hands when I see those I love being hurt. There are times I fight back through the power of prayer, and other times, unfortunately, I try to take justice into my own hands. The outcome is usually better if I allow God to fight the battle.

Reviving the Lost Art of Communication

One Simple Rule to Change Your Relationships

How many teens are at dinner with their family but are nose-down into their social media accounts? It’s kind of depressing.

Reviving the Lost Art of Communication

By the way, I’ve learned from my friend Marcie, who’s one of the greatest servers I’ve ever known, that when you refuse to take your eyes off your phone long enough to look up and place your order, they would love to hit you upside the head with a menu.

Is this the way it’s destined to be from now on? It doesn’t have to be.

Uncovering The Most Important Thing In Life

The 7 Day Challenge You Don't Want To Miss

It seems like the majority of families that I encounter say that after faith, family is the most important thing in their lives. If that’s the case, then it makes sense that we would want to do everything in our power to intentionally develop our families into being, doing, and having our very best.

Uncovering The Most Important Thing In Life

Although a lot of us are “doing ok” as a family —some better than others— I think if we’re honest, we all know deep down that we could do better, but it’s hard to know where to focus our attention to start.

That’s why I am so excited to share with you a great way to get your family focused on what really matters: the 7-Day Family Challenge from Ziglar Family!

Why You Can’t Wait Any Longer to Start Getting Healthy

Now is the time to take the next right step

Have you told yourself you’ll wait until next week to start losing weight? Or maybe you’ll start saving money when the next paycheck rolls around? Ya, I’ve been there too.

photo credit: robert gourley (creative commons)

My best friend and I used to unknowingly sabotage each other. I would be ready to get healthy, start eating right and exercising, and we would commit to “starting our diet” on Monday. The beginning of the week would roll around and she wasn’t motivated. Well – since she wasn’t ready, I would feel defeated and decide I wasn’t either.

The same thing would happen to her. She’d be ready, I would lose my motivation, she would feel defeated and the cycle would continue.

How to Raise a Teenager

Everything You Need to Know About Acne, Hormones, and Smelly Feet

I met him on February 20, 2001. It was a Tuesday. When his mom called to say she was in labor I flipped backwards in my chair and was at her house before she had the phone hung up. We still had landlines then.

How to Raise a Teenager

I was 17 years old and didn’t know what love was. It was just a word to me at that point, not an experience. But then… then I met him, wrapped tightly in a blanket, snuggled in my arms.

I finally knew love. I knew I would love him for the rest of my life. I knew I would give my life for him if I had to. I knew he would change the world, and he was only five minutes old.

I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. 

I googled it once. “How to raise a teenager.” Turns out there isn’t a manual for it. He hadn’t lived with me since he was around seven years old. In those days there wasn’t acne, back talk, hormones, or the feet smell. Oh… the feet smell. No, in those days there were still sweet kisses, bedtime stories, and an odor-free bedroom. Have I mentioned the feet smell?

He moved in this summer. His first night asleep, I stood in the doorway of his bedroom and watched his blonde hair move back and forth on the pillows as he tried to get his six-foot, teenage frame comfortable. Tears streamed down my eyes as a million thoughts ran through my head.

How in the world am I going to do this? How can I possibly raise a teenager? What if I screw this up? What if he hates my cooking? Will he be okay? How can I be responsible for another human life when I’m still trying to keep myself alive? How in the world am I going to do this? 

I googled “How to raise a teenager” again. Nothing new had popped up since the last time.

Love is bigger. 

Bob Goff says in his book, Love Does, “You don’t need a plan; you just need to be present.” I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But I knew love was bigger than my fears. 

The love I experienced the day he came into this world was the love that would get us through this new season of life together, no matter how hard.

I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing most days, but I’ve stopped going to Google for advice, so I guess that’s progress. I’ll probably never know what I’m doing, but what I have learned in these last several months has changed my life.

Life isn’t always about you. I realize how selfish I can be. I’m 33 years old and single, and I’ve gotten pretty set in my ways. Life isn’t just about me anymore. It’s not just about my needs. I don’t get to just go do whatever I want whenever I want anymore. My decisions affect him. I’ve learned to be more conscious about what I do and say. I have accountability around every corner. He’s like a ninja who silently sneaks up on me when I’m about to stuff my face with something inappropriate. “I thought you were eating healthier.” Most days I’m grateful for that. Most days…

There is a sock thief in my house. Seriously.. how does this happen? Laundry. All. The. Time. And I swear there’s a little green monster that lives in the dryer who seeks to steal only Caleb’s socks. Being single I enjoyed living out of my laundry basket. Why fold clothes when I’m just going to wear them again? I haven’t perfected this yet. The clothes tend to stay in the dryer for a day or two, but hey.. I’m getting there. He better hope he never needs anything ironed because we’re both in trouble.

I often question my reality. Sometimes at the end of the day, I lie in bed and think to myself, there is another human being upstairs. A living, breathing, human who I’m not supposed to let die. Did I feed him today? Check. Did I sign that paper I was supposed to sign for school? Check. Where did those stupid socks go? Yay.. we survived this day and did it with a smile. But seriously.. the socks?? Remind me to tell you about the day I drove off and left him on accident.

Love is bigger than anything. Raising a teenager is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I feel ill-equipped for it everyday. Somedays I wonder if I’m making a difference in his life at all. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” The truth is, I’m going to fail daily. Probably multiple times a day. And so is he. We’re in this together and we’re still both learning how to do it as a team.

But no matter what happens in each day, love is bigger, and there’s not a day goes by I don’t say “I love you” as he kisses my cheek before bed. (Don’t tell him I told you that. He likes to pretend he’s tough.) We may want to slap each other in the midst of a struggle, but he knows he is loved, even when I’m mad. Despite all my failures in this gift of loving him through life, love covers all of those failures. 

What a beautiful gift.

I’m not his mom, nor will I ever be. He has one and she has gifted him with a new opportunity at life. I’m honored to play a part in offering that gift to him, and grateful she has trusted this 33 year-old, Smurfs t-shirt wearing, overgrown child, to provide a home for him.

Today, that sweet blue-eyed boy turns 16. And I fall in love all over again, just like the day I did when he was born. I fall in love with the man of God he is becoming. The gentle heart he wears on his sleeve when he sees others hurting. The joy he shares when others celebrate and the pain he feels when others hurt. The man who opens doors for the elderly woman at church. The man who prays for the homeless. The man who buys a kid a pair of shoes because he doesn’t want his feet to get cold.

Life changes quickly and sometimes you don’t have time to prepare for it. Some days I wake up completely unprepared to walk through life with him. Other days I rock it like a champ. I’ll never get it 100% right and I’m learning to be okay with that. Because love. Love does. 

Thank you, Caleb, for teaching me what it means to love. My life is better because you’re in it.

Now I’m going to go Google “How to raise a teenager who drives.” Wish me luck.

Whole Women Weekend is a unique intensive retreat for women who are seeking true and lasting inner healing from hurts & hang-ups, trauma, bad habits, addictions, and more and who wish to encounter God in a way they never have before. Presented by Dirty Girls Ministries. The theme for our September 2017 retreat is “Break Every Chain” based on Psalm 107:14, “He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.”

I’ll be joining some amazing speakers, including keynote speaker, Mary DeMuth. Workshop topics include trauma, singleness, mental illness, porn/sexual addiction, infertility/miscarriage, and with more to be added. Space is limited so we encourage early registration. Register by May 1, 2017 to receive our SUPER EARLY BIRD rate!

Date: September 28, 2017—September 30, 2017
Event: Whole Women Weekend
Topic: Pornography and Sexual Addiction
Sponsor: Dirty Girls Ministries
Venue: Way of Life Community (Church)
Location: 1705 Conowingo Rd
Bel Air, MD 21014
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

How to Fulfill Your Purpose with Community

The Harmony of the Humble

This is a guest post by Kristin L. Hanley. Kristin is a homeschool mom, an adjunct professor, and a Bible study leader. Her book, Navigating a Sea of Emotions was released in January. To learn more about Kristin, visit her blog. Kristin and her family live near Branson, Missouri.

My lungs panic, pumping faster than they should while still unable to fully expand. In similar fashion, my heart contributes the backbeat in rapid succession. I close my eyes and cross my arms over my chest, willing myself to calm down. Despite what my brain is trying to communicate, my body doesn’t comply. I’m having another panic attack.

The Harmony of the Humble

Despite numerous pleas with God, relaxing practices, and even a hot bath, my body still won’t release its anxious grip over me, and I want to scream. Maybe doing so would help me.

You are cordially invited to join for the First Annual Banquet for Hope at the Havener Center on 11th February, 2017 at 6 pm. Ms. Sundi Jo Graham will be the keynote speaker for the special evening. Complimentary dinner will be served and an opportunity to make a financial gift will be extended. Your participation will help towards tackling the problem of homeless Youth in the Phelps county.

Date: February 11, 2017
Time: 06:00-08:00
Event: H.O.P.E. Banquet 2017
Sponsor: H.O.P.E., Inc.
Venue: Havener Center
(573) 341-4564
Location: 1346 N Bishop Ave
Rolla, MO 65401
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Why You Need a Why

Three Actions to Help You Stay Motivated

Have you ever asked yourself that question? “Why am I here? Why am I doing this? Why do I want to be married? Why do I want to have children? Why do I want to work from home? Why do I want to lead worship at the church?” (Insert your own idea here.)

Why You Need a Why

If you don’t know the why behind your biggest dreams and desires, then all they will ever be for you is a dream. Without the why it’s virtually impossible to stay motivated to reach your goals.

Gail Hyatt says, “People lose their way when they lose their why.” She’s so right.

Last year I set a goal to open Freedom Outreachthe day program portion of Esther’s House, by September 5, 2016. There was only one ginormous problem. I spent most of September confined to my bedroom thanks to the ugly attack of black mold, even living in a motel room until we could find another place to live.

It was hard for me to keep pushing through. I was too tired to think about getting the doors open. Too tired to think about the next step in front of me. Reaching the goal seemed too far out of my reach. I felt like I just couldn’t do it. Felt like I was letting everyone else around me down. People were waiting for me to make this happen. Failure screamed at me loudly.

But I realized something important in the midst of that trial. I’d forgotten my why. I wasn’t pursuing Esther’s House just because it was something fun to do.  Are you kidding? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In order to stay motivated to keep moving forward, despite the trials in my way, I had to dig deeper, but most importantly I needed reminded of why I was pursing this dream. I needed to be motivated again.

Did you know for less than $1/day, YOU can literally make a difference between life and death for each woman who walks through the doors of Esther’s HouseClick here to learn more.

So… I went back to my list of key motivations I’d written out when I set my goals for 2016, which I do every year through the 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever goal setting course with Michael Hyatt. Here they are:

  • To see women set free.
  • To offer the full experience of the program.
  • To teach women about God’s love for them.
  • To see women learn God’s plan for their lives.
  • To make disciples and share God’s Word.
  • To give women a safe place for healing.

It was so invigorating to see that list again, to be reminded that I wasn’t just doing this for me – I was doing this for other women desperate to understand freedom. It spurred me forward to keep fighting the battle.

If you’re struggling to push forward, don’t beat yourself up. You’re human. But let’s get back on track together and that starts with finding our why. Here are three actions to help you do just that.

  1. Identify your key motivations. Why is this goal important to you? What’s at stake if you achieve it? Or if you don’t? My goal of getting Freedom Outreach open was important to me, as you can see by the list above, but my number one motivation was to see women set free. What was at stake if I didn’t keep pushing forward? Women understanding the fullness of Christ and the freedom he offers.
  2. Record your motivations. It makes a difference when we write things down. When you’re feeling discouraged, going back to a list that’s right in front of you vs. in your heard is great inspiration for moving forward. I have my motivations written out in bulletproof from in Evernote, but maybe you just need them on your refrigerator door. Find what works for you.
  3. Prioritize your motivations. After you’ve written down your motivations, figure out which is your most compelling and move that to the top. My top motivation to see women set free wasn’t the first thing I’d written down, but after going over the list it was the most compelling to me. All the other motivations fall underneath that one.

Good news. We didn’t hit our goal of September 5, 2016, but we did open the doors to Freedom Outreach on November 15, 2016. We’d love for you to check us out… 

One of my goals for 2017 is to find a plastic surgeon to remove the extra skin from my 145 lb. weight loss. Perhaps during that search I might feel some discouragement. That’s normal. But keeping my list of motivations in front of me, remembering why I want to do it, that’s what will keep me going. A few of my motivations for achieving that goal is knowing it will increase my confidence, I’ll be able to fit into a pair of jeans easier, and it will inspire others to keep pushing forward in their health-related goals.

So.. what’s your why? What do you want to see happen in your life and 2017 and what will motivate you to keep pushing towards that goal?

Remember to review your motivations often, and even more when you’re feeling discouragement. Remember, you lose your way when you lose your why.

Question: Do you have a goal you want to achieve this year? What’s your key motivation for pursuing it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.