A Special Valentine for those who have lost someone

I remember my first Valentine’s day after the losses in my family.

I wanted to act like everything was okay.

I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the fact that my heart hurt


I didn’t want to celebrate love when my heart was dying.

I was screaming inside,” Doesn’t anyone understand what it is like to be miserable today?

So I wrote this post for the person who is feeling trapped in a world of happy faces.

You may even feel tempted to act happy but If you don’t want to pretend …

Let’s have a conversation about your heart

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Is your heart so full of mixed emotions that you don’t know exactly how to feel?

Secretly, you are longing to go back in time when that person was just a phone call away. You watch as others express love freely to one another. Maybe you  feel like you have nothing left to give? Days like this hurt- I get it! I understand and it’s okay to feel the way you do. It’s normal.

Love like this takes time to sort out.

Just for a moment, will you close your eyes and let memories flicker into view like an old movie? What do you see? I know you may want to turn away from the past because of the pain.  Don’t be afraid to look at that memory as a gift of love planted deep inside your heart.

The person you miss would  want love in your heart today and not sorrow.

They would want you to know you are loved!

What negative feeling are you holding onto today?

anger, sadness, fear, regret, bitterness, helplessness, confusion


It is okay to admit to painful feelings in your heart, it’s the first step to healing! 

 If you would like to share a feeling or a memory with me, I am listening to your heart today. Feelings and experiences are important to me. You can respond with a comment and I will pray for you.

No matter what, find a moment and share your heart with God in prayer.


IMG_4420_edited-1 There is one feeling God wants you to hold onto today! 

His Love ! 

He loves your feelings, your heart, your emotions, your pain, just you!

His word is for you today, when no one else knows what to say.

Jeremiah 31:3

I have loved you with an everlasting love…

Now, in light of this present moment, will you let go of the painful emotions, and hold on to His love that promises new joy is waiting in your future. There is so much life ahead for you to experience.



Let go and live, because you are loved!


Notice there are still so many people you have to love. Your life matters. It’s important to find strength in the new plan God has for your heart. It is going to be a beautiful new purpose, just for you.

Romans 8:28 – And God works all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to His purpose….

You will rejoice again, dear friend, as you seek God’s love

All who seek the Lord will praise him. 

Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. 

Psalms 22:26

Leaving your negative emotions behind, you will be repurposed by His love

Re-Joyce always, knowing God will return joy to your heart in the future for a Happy Valentines Day.

Feeling Trashed? Day 1 : When my plan hits the can!


FEELING TRASHED? When my plan hits the can! 


Feeling trashed is a slang expression describing a painful emotional state with a mix of anger, sadness and fear.

Has there ever been an unexpected circumstance that left your heart feeling trashed?

My heart shattered when an autopsy revealed that my ten-year-old nephew died from contracting an ameba from our lake.  As the media frenzy ensued, life felt littered with mixed emotions of hurt, confusion and shame. Five months later, my precious mother Joyce died unexpectedly. This final blow of grief left my heart feeling like a worthless mess tossed to the bottom of a trashcan! This was not what I had planned for my life!

As I hit an emotional bottom, I cried out to God for help.


After three years of recycling my pain before God, I learned a few secrets about feeling trashed. Will you consider having a little trash talk with a Christian girl who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty anymore? Let’s dig into the truth of this together.


Our Plans hit the Can!

Dearly loved women of God experience the pain from failed plans.  Our plans must be held with open hands in an uncertain world. Precious friend, I had to learn the hard way that my plan for my life is not God’s purpose in my life. As women, we plan to be the perfect wife, mother and friend. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”


Elizabeth Elliot was a missionary to Ecuador that endured the painful loss of her husband, Jim, speared to death along with four other missionaries. Left widowed as a young mother, I am sure this was not the plan she dreamed for her life. She would learn first hand that God could do more than she imagined with her pain.

   What was your plan that hit the can?  Was it a lost dream, marriage or friendship? As women it is so easy for our emotions to make us feel trashed with the fear of failure and insecurity of lost relationships.  Today, will you consider opening your hands and letting go of trying to be in control of that plan? I know it hurts but be encouraged! God’s purpose will be accomplished in you and through you, regardless of this situation.

Admitting to painful emotions is the first step unraveling their power. 

Repurposing prayer:

God by the power of your spirit, I release my plan that I hold so dear in my heart. Help me to surrender to your eternal purpose for my life and give me strength. Amen..

Prayer list for Tanzania Orphanage

The inside walls of the Orphan's Heart Compassion Home

The inside walls of the Orphan’s Heart Compassion Home

Joy floods my heart as I envision the little faces of the children who will walk these halls. They no longer have to worry about finding someone to care for them. Warm beds will envelope little bodies, in contrast to nights spent sleeping under bushes in the dirt. The scent of hot meals cooking in the kitchen will  awaken hungry bellies as food is served . Laughter will echo through these hallways. Cries for help are silenced by the provisions in this home.

Strong love grows in my heart for these children who have been rescued and reached by our efforts on the other side of the world. Never will they fully understand how much the Lord has interceded on their behalf to raise up support through our family, a family almost disabled with grief.

Our joy seemed lost with the death of my 10 year old nephew, Phil and mother, Joyce.  Bedtime seemed to untuck emotions as hot tears melted from red eyes . Hearts were blistered with sadness. Painful memories echoed through empty hearts, instead of laughter. We desperately needed  new ways to find joy. I would pray the words of the Psalmist:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation….

Restore to my children the joy of their salvation…

Restore to us the joy of our salvation….

Have you ever hurt so badly, for so long, that your heart cried these same words?

Grief ‘s painful emotion does not  fade quickly. It oozes out slowly from the heart that has been broken with loss. If you have loved deeply, you will grieve even longer. Death can not hide love, it only exposes it’s power even greater. Love stays present in your heart even when the person you love passes away. Love tries to find a way to express it’s self even louder. This is grief at it’s finest.  Strong expressions of love beat hard against the walls of mortality as we pound our fists:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation…

Our God will not turn away from the heart that cries to be recycled from pain. He will listen. He will hear. He will heal.

Psalm 39:12 says “Hear my prayer, lord, listen to my cry for help. Do not be deaf to my weeping.”

God would answer our prayer in a most unusual way. After several years of healing, our hearts were open to live repurposed for others. Through my friend, Shannin Pickle, I was made aware of a need at the property she had purchased in Tanzania. She desired to build a home for orphaned children but was unable to find the funding. Inside, I felt a strange feeling when she mentioned this need. Was there something I could do to help?

Girls who will live at the home when it is completed!

Girls who will live at the home when it is completed!

In my husband’s heart, a dream was stirring too.


He came to me one day and proclaimed, “You are not going to believe this but I think God is going to use water sports in my life to save children!” His desire did not surprise me but confirmed my little nudging that God may indeed be at work in our lives to help build this orphanage. I cringed when he mentioned we should do a family kite surfing event…. I inwardly groaned and then blurted out, “Why can’t we do a walk-a-thon like everyone else?”

A kite surfing fundraiser was born that day in the Russell home and laughter began to ring out again. We had a new purpose, a goal to obtain far greater than anything we could pull off without God’s divine intervention. I could not have imagined on that day what joy God would restore to me through generosity to his kingdom. My purpose was no longer to resurrect the past but to give life to others who desperately needed to live. I was going to live repurposed to help others rejoice again.

My son training for kite surfing

My son training for kite surfing

A kite surfing fundraiser. A broken family from grief healing. A God sized dream. A reality!

Little did I  know all those times I wanted to quit fundraising that God already knew that this home would become a reality. I remember every time people would look at me funny and proclaim, “You’ll never raise any money with a kite surfing fundraiser!”God was going to send a divine wind to blow into the hearts of generous people everywhere to care about the importance of these walls that would protect orphans.

Home being constructed !

Home being constructed !

Can you say with me today:

Restore to me the joy of my salvation!


Printable Prayer List For Tanzania

Thankful heart – learning to be thankful again

being thankful Being thankful is different than feeling thankful. Being thankful requires action- It requires a change in your “being!” You must move from one state to another. Physiologically, it is impossible to act on  two emotions at the same time. So you can’t be ungrateful and be grateful, you can’t be unappreciative and be appreciative, you can’t be thankless and be thankful at the same time. The two week thankful heart challenge is to help move my heart into the action of being thankful.

After my mother and ten year old nephew died, I struggled to feel thankful for anything. The pain of grief blinded me to gratitude. Everything hurt. As time passed, and the intensive feelings of loss began to lift, I began to see the faces of the children I loved to dearly pulling my heart into thankfulness. Being thankful moved my heart into actions of daily love for them instead of feeling frozen with grief.  The  sound of voices I treasure, special friends and family seemed to silently call me  to come out of my loss and into life again. Being thankful for them moved my heart to make time to connect, engage in laughter and enjoy moments.

Because I know the depth of loss, I want to repurpose my heart to a heart of thankfulness that embraces the moments of every day life. I need to hit the reset button my ungrateful, unappreciative and thankless soul. So, I wondered if you might join me, being thankful for a few people in your life. This effort should take just a few minutes of your time but will set your heart into the action of  thankfulness.

Today I willing to push my heart into the action of being thankful- It is the key to a life of blessing! Will you say yes to a life of being thankful too?  Post me your answer !

I Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all things, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus…

A Thankful Heart – #2


#2: My heart felt like a big game of scrabble. After losses in our family, I struggled to find the words of thankfulness and joy for people in my life. My heart was in pieces. As my grief lifted, I focused on the people of love in my life as invaluable treasures. Being thankful to God was a key that opened my heart to feel joy. Each day I hope to provide you will reminders for your Facebook page that you can share with others! Blessings to you today on the adventure of being thankful! If you dare, leave me one letter that describes the thankfulness in your heart. #TwoWeekstoRepurpose