Fake or Faith?

A couple weeks ago, I ran into a young woman struggling in her marriage. She said, “I just gotta fake it until I make it, right?”

I hear that phrase periodically and it doesn’t sit well with me, I’m a girl who treasures authenticity.  I hugged the young woman and said, “How about FAITH it until you make it? God doesn’t want us to be fake.”

“That’s good! I like that.” She said before we parted ways.

One little word can make a big difference in how we see God through our circumstances and approach him. Fake is different than Faith. Faith is not being fake, there is nothing fake about making the choice to focus on God’s greatness.

I used to have a motto when it came to prayer. I would say, “The only ingredient to a successful prayer is sincerity.” My passion for sincerity was in an effort to avoid being like the scribes who prayed for pretense (Luke 20:46-47). They were being fake, they were praying for show. I also noticed others memorizing prayers (like the Lord’s prayer) and reciting them like the pledge of allegiance. In an effort to pull myself and others towards an authentic relationship with God, I emphasized sincerity. I still believe 100% in sincere prayers, but I’ve also noticed the power of adding one extra ingredient: Faith.

Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I recently made my first Facebook live video on our tendency to “worry-pray.” Instead of praying in faith, we can have the tendency to magnify the problem rather than the problem-solver. I wrote out a faith-declaration about who God is (all based on scripture), as a way of setting my mind on the greatness of God first before I bring him my concerns. When I set my mind on His greatness, my (once) mountain of a problem starts to look more like a speck. It’s not fake, it’s focus.

If our prayers magnify our problem to be bigger than God and His power – our faith is in the wrong thing.

Yesterday, my daughter came to me overwhelmed with homework. As we sat on her bed, I pulled out my faith-declaration and read it to her. Tears fell down her face as she was reminded of our God who is limitless in strength and power when she feels weak. She asked if she could hang a copy up in her bedroom. The privilege of paving the way in motherhood never gets old. I want her to know what real faith is. Fake smiles through gritted-teeth and says, “I can do this.” But faith is different. Faith says, “I can’t do this, but my great God certainly can!”

A Faint Truth is Still a Truth: Overcoming Lies, Fears and Insecurities

It was winter of 2004. The line on the pregnancy test was so faint that I threw it in the garbage, called my husband and told him it was a false alarm. I was a pastor’s assistant at the time, so I went back to the computer to finish up some admin work. I typed and filed and responded to emails and then, a few hours later, a thought hit me. What if a faint line is still a line? 

I dug into the garbage, lifted up the instructions (now wet with coffee) and read, “Any test line visible on the pregnancy test, even a faint one, indicates a positive result.”

I still couldn’t believe it.

I gathered two coworkers, all three of us like detectives getting to the bottom of a case. We were unanimously convinced it had to be wrong. After all, the line was barely visible. We went to the store and bought one displaying the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant.” It seemed there wouldn’t be as much room for error there.

I stared at the word “pregnant” but still, the only thing I felt pregnant with was doubt. I hadn’t been married for a full year yet, didn’t God know I wasn’t ready? Didn’t God know I still had insecurities and fears to sort through first?


A month prior, I was helping someone with their baby. I tried to strap the little girl in her car seat, but failed. I couldn’t figure out which clip went where and which button I needed to push to get it to latch. My head sunk into my collapsed shoulders like a turtle and I shot her a look that made my ignorance on car seats more apparent. The mom came over and latched it with ease. A little later that day, I was holding the baby outside. The mom told me that I really should get a blanket and wrap it around her legs. Maybe for other people, those instances wouldn’t be a big deal. For me, they were more reasons why I felt unsure about motherhood. You don’t even know how to latch a car seat! Of course you didn’t think to wrap the baby’s legs in a blanket, your not cut out to be a mom. 

I was on bed rest for most of my pregnancy and Netflix didn’t exist then, unfortunately. My husband brushed up on his cooking skills and friends from church brought me magazines and books to keep me occupied. But mostly, I laid in bed afraid.


One night, Brandon and I sat in each others arms while he rubbed my ballooning belly.

“What if I’m a bad mom?” I bursted out.

The words came out of my mouth before I had time to process them. I went on to explain that my mom wasn’t the best example and I didn’t know who to turn to for advice.

Brandon formed his words deliberately as if he wanted me to never forget them.

“Mel, you are not just going to be a good mom, you are going to be an incredible mom. It doesn’t matter what kind of example you had, you have the Lord now. He is the best example of a loving parent. You can learn from Him. Mel, you are an amazing individual and I never question your capabilities as a mother. Never.”

Throughout the remainder of the pregnancy I held onto my husband’s words like an anchor, along with scriptures like Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fears still came, but Brandon’s words gave me a weapon to fight with. “But I have the Lord” was a powerful comeback to satan’s lies.

You don’t know how to be a mom. 

“But I have the Lord.”

Your mom didn’t know what she was doing and you don’t either. 

“But I have the Lord.”

You have so much to learn. You’ll always be behind.

“But I have the Lord.”

The voice of truth sometimes seemed like a whisper compared to the enemy’s shouts, but somehow that generic brand pregnancy test brought a comforting thought: A faint line is still a line and a faint truth is still a truth. 


That was the season when I learned how to echo the whispers of God in the midst of the enemy’s shouts. The more I echoed God’s whispers of truth, the more muffled and incoherent my fears became. What is that, devil? I’m going to make a terrible what? I can’t seem to hear you amidst the echo of God’s truth, so pure and so good. 

I’m glad doubt made an appearance in my life twelve years ago. That season led me to answers about my faith, about myself and about my future that became more certain and resolved than ever before.  I’ve learned even tiny doubts that remain in hiding, can cast monumental and intimidating shadows. The best thing is to pull back the curtain. Most of the time, what we find, is that the source of the grizzly bear shadow of doubt is the equivalent of a paper doll glued to a popsicle stick. Doubts and fears are flimsy and unreliable, but they sure know how to puff themselves up and yell like bullies. Even in moments when the truth feels as faint as the line on that pregnancy test, I know now that a faint line is still a line and a faint truth is still a truth.

And guess what? It turns out I kick-butt at the whole mom thing.


Building A Treasury of Ways to Connect

We recently took a trip to Aiken, South Carolina, where the food was rich and the scenery was grande. We had a great time visiting Grammy and Hawpa. The kids threw around piles of leaves (we don’t have many fall leaves in San Diego), climbed trees, and were awestruck by all the critters. I teased with my husband that my interest in critters is about a 2 out of 10. The kids did great on the plane ride, even though it was the longest trip we’ve ever taken with them. We saw the historic homes of Charleston, the riverfront of Savannah, and even squeezed in a date night at the renowned Wilcox Hotel & Restaurant in Aiken. Visiting family was the best part though. The kids bonded with their cousins as if no time had passed at all.


[Things Dad let’s the kids do when Mom isn’t around…]


One of the highlights was my husband taking our oldest daughter out to breakfast. We try to be intentional about taking the kids out on one-on-one dates. Our oldest is starting middle school in the fall, and her personality can be hard to crack. She’s quiet, an avid reader of fantasy, and she needs alone time to recharge (like her momma). There wasn’t any notable conversations during the breakfast date, but she thanked her dad about seven times for taking her out. She might not be a young woman of many words, but she made sure to reiterate her appreciation.

We’ve noticed the older our kids get, the more they need to be reminded of their individuality. It becomes important for them not to always be lumped in with their siblings but to have their own unique relationship with mom and dad. We’ve found this intentional one-on-one time fills their cups in a special way. The conversations might not be groundbreaking every time, and their choice of activity might always be our favorite — but this time together cannot be underestimated. The individual time together is a reminder we are on the same team. It’s a reminder that we value them and care about their unique heart, personality and interests. We’ve also noticed our one-on-one time with them grows their level of respect for us. They listen better when our interactions with them are not solely based on us being an authority figure in their life.

2016 was an interesting year. On one hand, it was one of the best years yet for our family. On the other hand, there was an underlying sting as we lost many friends. Our kids asked questions and cried, and we asked questions and cried right along with them. While we were in South Carolina we kept saying, “As long as we have Jesus and each other, I think we could be happy anywhere.” 2016 provided the reminder that people will walk in and out of our lives, but Jesus will remain. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” We wish we could shelter our children from loss, but we can’t. We live in a transient city; people move, families get deployed, people change sports or churches or schools. Sometimes we will stay in touch and other times we won’t.  We can’t shelter them, but we can try to cultivate an unshakable connection with them and God, giving them a firm foundation to stand on during times of transition, uncertainty or hurt.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says “With children, actions speak louder than words. When we stop requesting invitations into their lives by asking about their day, asking them to tell us about their favorite songs, wondering how their friends are doing, then children feel pain and fear (and not relief, despite how our teenagers may act). Because they can’t articulate how they feel about our disengagement when we stop making an effort with them, they show us by acting out thinking, This will get their attention.”



When I first became a parent, I wanted an arsenal of discipline strategies because I assumed that’s what I needed. Now that I’m in the thick of parenting, I find myself building a treasury of ways to connect. It has become a rhythm over the years, my arsenal dwindling and my treasury brimming. I believe in discipline, but the more time I spend training, shepherding and connecting with my children, the less discipline they seem need (thank you Parenting is a Ministry). One day, I will stand before God to give an account for how I did raising His children. I wonder what that conversation will look like — what questions will God ask me? I picture myself standing in front of Him, words don’t come out of His mouth or mine, but we are communicating perfectly. I feel His presence like an echo, and although His words are not verbal, they fill my stomach and soul. I know what He’s asking:  “Did you reflect my heart?”