I Was Justified, and I Was Wrong


Have you ever made a decision for your life and been totally convinced it was right only to find out you were wrong? At the end of last year, I was convinced that this year I needed more down time for me. And I was justified! Last year was hard. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and both emotionally and physically depleted. This was not a want; this was a need. I needed more “me” time.

But I was wrong.

More time for me is what I wanted. But it is not what God wanted. He wanted me to spend more time with Him!

What’s more is He made it very clear to me. Within days of laying out my fantastic plan for my year, two things happened back-to-back. First, Mark and I were at a conference where we got to preview a powerful movie called War Room which will be released in late August. There were three central themes in the movie that really hit home with me. The movie follows the story of a woman whose family is falling apart. She meets an odd older woman who befriends her and shares her “war room” with her–a record of prayers for all the people she has prayed for–a legacy of love. 

Ah, I remember thinking if I were to die (remember, I have lots of heart issues so I was not being morbid, just realistic) would my children find such a record of love? A record of my heart for them poured out in prayer? 

No, they wouldn’t. I was convicted. I needed to spend more time praying.
The second experience that God used to soften my heart toward Him and His desire for me was a Christmas coffee where a woman named Betsy Leslie shared a system she uses to intentionally pray for people by writing them down and marking the card every time she prays. She had notecards with hundreds of marks on them. Another legacy of love.

A plan was forming in my brain–a new plan for the year. The only part of my big “plan for me” this year that had anything to do with God was that I needed to read the Bible more and memorize some verses. What if I actually chose verses to pray for people? How efficient is that?

Suddenly I realized, my selfish justification for “me time” was what I wanted, not what God wanted. I was justified, but I was wrong. I’ve found that there’s usually this tension between what I desire and what God desires for me. And it goes like this…

  • I think I need something or deserve something.
  • God shows me something better that He desires for me.
  • I become convicted and have to confront the tension between what I desire and what He desires.
  • And then, I have to choose–His way or mine.

I have learned that His way is better. Either…

  • I make plans for what I want, seek insight for what is right, confront conviction about what is wrong, and accept what He wants for me.


  • I make plans for what I want, seek insight for what is right, disregard conviction about what is wrong, and harden my heart to God’s voice and follow my own path.

We must choose to either open our eyes and open our heart to conviction or close our eyes and harden our hearts. There are few things scarier to me than what can happen to someone who hardens his or her heart. The Bible gives a striking example in Exodus with Pharaoh who hardened his heart to God when Moses and Aaron came before him to plead on behalf of the Israelites. In Exodus 7, Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh with the message that God had given them. Pharaoh asked for a miracle to prove that they were speaking on behalf of God, which they performed for him. But he hardened his heart and would not listen to God’s words. In the following chapters, he continued to harden his heart, despite seeing clearly the works of God, until eventually the Bible says that God hardened his heart. After several times of ignoring the words of the Lord, Pharaoh lost even the choice to have a heart that was open to the voice of God.

Yikes. That’s scary! I definitely do NOT want my heart to become hardened. 

Long story. But in this case, I confronted the tension between what God wanted for me and what I wanted for me. I am learning verses and, purposefully, praying and I am so happy–I love seeing the record of dots growing. I don’t pray every day, my record is not perfect, but I have a plan (the dots are prayers!).


The movie I mentioned above, War Room, has a 30 Day Prayer Challenge.  If you download the challenge, you are automatically entered to win four tickets to the movie release on August 28th and a $100 Visa gift card. Perhaps you should take the challenge and confront the tension between what you want and what God wants for you :)

Posted On: July 30, 2015     cat-folder Love This 2 Comments


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Lamb Burger Dinner

lamb burger

I have recently discovered a new way to make burgers… have you ever tried a lamb burger? Oh my, it is so delicious! Your kids would never know that it wasn’t ordinary beef, and better yet, lamb is comparable in price! You can spice them up however you would like, but these are so yummy and simple. Top them with anything you have in the house, but I did feta cheese, tomatoes, onion aioli and lettuce.  So fire up the grill and have a little fun! 

Conversation Starters

1. What do you like to do for fun? 
2. What is your favorite way to relax? 
3. What makes you laugh the most? 

Main Dish

Lamb Burgers
For the Burger
  1. 2 lbs. ground lamb
  2. 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  3. ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  4. Chopped basil
  5. Salt and pepper
  1. Feta cheese, or try provolone for the kids
  2. Sliced tomato
  3. Lettuce
  4. Ketchup
  1. Mix all of the burger ingredients in a large bowl to combine. Do not over mix.
  1. You can obviously use regular ground beef, if desired.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/


peach crumble

Peach Raspberry Crisp
  1. Filling
  2. 4 pounds firm, peaches (no need to peel and it’s ok if they are a little firm)
  3. 1/2 pint raspberries
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  6. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  8. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  9. Topping
  10. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  11. 1/2 light brown sugar, packed
  12. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  13. 1/3 teaspoon salt
  14. 1 cup regular oatmeal
  15. 3/4 pound cold butter, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the Filling
  1. No need to peel the peaches! I have made this recipe with peeled and unpeeled peaches and there really in no difference. Slice the peaches into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss well. Pour the peaches into a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with raspberries.
For the Topping
  1. Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl. Mix with hands until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Pile the topping evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is lightly browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/
Posted On: May 14, 2015     cat-folder Sunday Suppers Leave a comment


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Inspiring and Noble

noble and inspiring

Have you ever wondered how some people have so much courage? Have you ever thought to yourself, I am not nearly as brave as so-and-so? Or that because you are ‘just a mom’ you don’t have the grit that some others do? 

The truth is, you are brave, you are courageous–because you are a mom. A mom who loves her kids so much that she would be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for them. To me, that is the most selfless, better yet, most noble thing you can do. 

The Noble movie is coming to theaters tomorrow, May 8th.  I want to make you aware that this movie exists because, like a lot of really good movies that tell a story of hope, it won’t get block-buster advertising dollars. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful movie about a forsaken child who becomes a woman, triumphs over adversity and turns her past into a passion that saves lives–children’s lives. And just like you, her nobility and courage comes from being a ‘mother’ to many. 

Make it a girl’s night out and go see Noble! 


Posted On: May 07, 2015     cat-folder Be Encouraged Leave a comment


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