Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life


How to Cultivate a Happy Heart? 3 Habits

When life sends trials our way, happy heart habits won’t make difficulties disappear. But they do help us cultivate a more positive attitude.

I really need to keep my glory glasses on tight. Rose colored shades help me see more clearly the beauty of God’s work around me.  All too often, I let gloom glasses blind me to God’s blessings.

You’ve probably worn gloom glasses before too. You know how those gray shades can cloud your vision.  One bad day makes you think your whole life is one crash and burn. You had a spat with your spouse, you’re out of dish washer detergent, and suddenly life looks terrible.

In a recent conversation, my 16 year old daughter suggested 6 habits for cultivating a happier heart. (The girl’s got a future as a life coach.) You can catch the first 3 in last week’s post, but now we’ll cover habits 4-6. Continue reading


How Can I Cultivate a Happy Heart?

3 tips for a happier heart. Life will always bring challenges, but we can cultivate a more positive attitude.

Do you know anyone who wears gray-colored misery spectacles? No matter what happens, he finds something to complain about. Those misery spectacles magnify everything. The weather’s too cold, or too hot, or too rainy. The food’s too salty. When you’re wearing gray-colored glasses, your glass is always half empty.

Let me tell you, on my bad days, that person in the gray-colored shades is me. I can moan and groan along with the best of them, but I don’t want to be like that.

How can I exchange my gray misery shades for some rose-colored glory glasses?

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6 Wonderful Things I Learned on my August Crazy Train

August crazy train

Even when life turns into a crazy train, God never leaves us for a moment. August was a whirlwind.  My husband went to El Salvador for 3 weeks to see his mother before she went to heaven. My kids and I emptied two bedrooms in our house in Izmir for the people who will rent it nine months. We packed our suitcases, said our goodbyes, and flew to Dallas, where we rejoined Jose. Then we spent two weeks on the road before finally landing in Mesquite, Texas.

August was topsy turvy, but I learned a few things:

1. We Really CAN Do All Things Through Christ

Continue reading


9 Secrets to a Life Worth Celebrating

9 Secrets to a Life Worth Celebrating

Our family’s greatest treasure is a 90 year old stick of dynamite. Ofelia Cruz may look like a fragile, elderly lady, but my sweet mother-in-law is a powerhouse of faith and a testament to the overcoming grace of God. Spunky, witty, and wise, she’s STILL sharp as a tack. She can roll off some one-liners that leave us all in stitches.

However, doctors tell us her frail body won’t be with us much longer.  Our family’s brightest light is fading, and my husband just flew home to El Salvador to spend three weeks with his mother. We can’t imagine life without her. We’re crying and rejoicing at the same time. Ninety years of glorious life and a glorious future with Jesus are worth celebrating.

Remembering her shining example of love and a positive attitude, I’m sharing 9 of my mother-in-law’s Secrets to a Happy Life:

Boda Ofe y Champion-page-001

1. Keep your chin up

Ofelia’s an overcomer. Hardship and sorrow didn’t derail her when her husband died, leaving her with four boys to raise alone. She kept going and she kept those boys in line. With her family’s help, she sent them to a good private school, and all four went on to college.

2. Keep Knocking

Back in 1963, no one wanted to give a job to 37 year old, inexperienced stay-at-home mom, so Ofelia went to the top. She wrote a letter to the President of El Salvador to ask for employment. It worked. The ministry of finance hired her, and she was able to provide for her family.

Rather than giving up when I face a challenge, I want to go to the top. I have a connection with the King of Kings.

3. Keep Praying

Several years after her two youngest sons met Jesus, my mother-in-law came to Christ in her early 50’s. She prayed 30 years for her oldest son to enter the Kingdom. It worked. He finally gave his life to Jesus too.

4. Keep Serving

When I met my mother-in-law in her late 60’s, she worked full-time and volunteered at a church health clinic on Saturday mornings. She taught Sunday school for 20 years.


5. Put on Makeup and Fix Your Hair

We always laughed that the employees at department store makeup counters recognized dona Ofelia.  In her late 80’s Ofelia still went to the hair salon weekly and spent time each morning putting on makeup, skin cream, and perfume. She’d wear a pretty dress each day. As a result, she always looked fabulous and felt better too.

6. Keep your sense of humor

My mother-in-law loves to joke. Before a trip to Spain, one of her sons asked Mama Ofe what he could bring back for her. We still remember her answer: “A handsome Spaniard with plenty of money!”

7. Keep Moving

Arthritis slowed Ofelia down, but she surprised me when I took her to the supermarket last year. I was worried about how on earth I was going to help a woman who could barely walk navigate the store.

“Oh no, I don’t need help,” she insisted. She took off down the aisle with her shopping cart, leaning into it like a walker. I didn’t see her until 30 minutes later at the check-out.

8. Keep Learning

At 88, my mother-in-law finished a two year Christian leadership study program.

9. Keep Affirming Others

Just last week, lying flat on her back, Ofelia told my husband on the phone, “You’ve been a good son.” Tears welled up in his eyes, and I marveled to see that even a middle-aged man wants to hear he’s a good son.

Am I speaking words of encouragement to the people I love?

life worth celebrating

Our family’s stick of dynamite may leave earth quietly, but she’ll enter heaven with a bang. I suspect the angels will set off fireworks to celebrate.

Now it’s your turn: What kind of lessons have you learned from the role models in your life?

I love linking with these communities: Holly Barrett’s #TestimonyTuesday, Kelly Balarie’s #RaRalinkup,  Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory, Dance with Jesus, and Grace and Truth.  Check them out for more encouragement.

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Fireworks Photo Credit


Celebrating 51: What I Wish I’d Known at 31

Today I’m celebrating my 51st birthday. While my sweet husband makes me a pancake breakfast, I’m giving myself a birthday present. Instead of writing a Five Minute Friday devotional post like usual, I’m going to spend some extra minutes getting into God’s Word so it can get into me.

Here’s a re-print of a post I wrote last  year in case you missed it. Please do leave a comment about your favorite life hack.

As I celebrate my 50th birthday today, I remember my 30’s when I was in the trenches with my babies and hanging on for dear life. I thought fifty meant I’d be living easy, and I was partly right. Some things have gotten easier now that the baby phase is over, but I had no idea back then about the fireworks that would result from the haywire hormones of teens and a fifty year old mom in the same house! (Luckily my sweet kids are gracious and kind to put up with their mother.)

Today I continue celebrating joyful, hopeful fifty with the list I started Monday.

30 things I wish I’d known in my 30’s:

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Stay-at-Home Mom, Your Work Matters

stay at home mom your work matters

The exciting day I started kindergarten with my daughter, I had no idea that just weeks later, home school would convert into sheer torture. I’ll never forget her bright cheery face as we opened those spanking new workbooks. I had an eager student hankering to catch up with her older brother.

Soon after, problems cropped up. Continue reading


Waking Up on the Right Side of the Bed!

Waking Up on the Right Side of the Bed!What’s the first thought that pops into your head when the alarm goes off in the morning? Have you ever noticed how your first thoughts carry over into the rest of your day? When my alarm rings, it takes a few minutes for my brain to shake off the slumber. But by the time I crowbar myself out of bed, thoughts start popping up:

  • Wow, is it already morning? 
  • Do I really have to go walking?
  • I can’t believe he said that yesterday.
  • How can I get my kids to do their chores?

I grope down the hall to the kitchen and the hope of coffee.  Some mornings, the voices of the world sneak up on me quick, like yesterday’s to-do list half undone, or my afternoon dentist appointment.

Our first thoughts in the morning set the tone for our day.

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When You Get a Wake-Up Call from God


When a simple headache suddenly became life-threatening, God gave me a wake-up call. Here are four ways to make the most of each day.When a simple headache suddenly became life-threatening, God gave me a wake-up call.

I was in the kitchen making lunch, when I realized I’d had the same nagging headache all morning. Absent mindedly I reached into the cabinet for some pain reliever and poured a glass of water. For some reason, the pill didn’t go down. When I coughed, it came back up and lodged in my windpipe. I couldn’t breathe. I tried coughing it out, but that pill didn’t budge. Continue reading


Choosing Joy When Your Road Gets Bumpy

habakkuk 3

Ever had one of those days that take the smile right off your face? The car breaks down on your way to work. The school calls to say your child just threw up in the classroom and needs to go home. Hard days make it hard to keep smiling, but even so, we still have reasons to rejoice.

We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we can choose our response. Continue reading


Need More “Wow!” in Your Weekdays?

UntitledWhen I was a kid, I often woke up to the sounds of “Saturday Night Fever” blaring through the house. Mom’s musical tastes were eclectic.  She listened to everything from the Bee Gees to Broadway musicals. At 6:30 a.m. As a single mom juggling work, raising kids, and running a household, she recognized the power of music to lift her spirits.

Just like music brightened my mother’s outlook, worship transforms my attitude faster than anything.  Continue reading