A Thankful Heart

During my prayer time this morning, my 3-year-old son came to sit out in the room with me and my husband.

When I heard his body wrestle out of bed and then his little footsteps coming my way, I initially thought, “oh no, now my prayer time is going to be cut short, I should’ve stayed in bed.”

To my surprise, he didn’t ask for a snack, he didn’t ask me to get him dressed, he didn’t ask anything!

He was content just being close to me. Listening to us pray.

He melted my heart. He reminded me that God loves a grateful heart.

We melt the heart of God when we choose to wake up early and tell Him how wonderful He is.

I tend to complicate things. I need to set more time aside where I just sit in the room mediatating on Him. In the quiet. In the stillness.

O give thanks unto the Lord , for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalms 107:1

Come to him with a thankful heart and know that just being in God’s presence brings peace.

Just to be close to Him satisfies our souls.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well:

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 4:13-14

He was talking about spiritual thirst. Not physical. Earthly things do not make us happy, except for a couple of days after we purchase them and the rush we get when we hit the purchase now button online.

He is Joy. He is Peace. He is Love. He is Good. He alone brings TRUE contentment.

Eventually, my son did ask me for a drink of water. And I was more than happy and more than ready to grant his request.

I’m not saying we will always get what we want, because that’s false, but God will be ready to pour out his blessings on his children when we keep a grateful heart.


…Blessing and glory and majesty and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Revelation 7:12


This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and freedom.

What’s something you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear from you.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving -Tonya

Genuineness is as Gold

May 2019, I went on a Ladies Heartwork trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. On that trip God birthed a desire in me to start writing. 1 year later, I finally took the plunge and started this blog. Last week I went to another Heartwork trip in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. It was so valuable to me on so many levels. I was happy my sister Tasha could join me this year.

It was such a refreshing escape away from the duties of motherhood, wife, homemaker, …. and chef, and maid, and teacher…  And…. (I’m sure you mommas get it.)

It seems (to me at least) so much easier to get closer to God when you’re in the woods…Maybe not for everyone.

In the Ozarks, we hiked. We laughed. We cried. We sang. We prayed. We ate. We were true.

I felt so connected. I felt like a little girl again. I felt the excitement of meeting a new friends. There were no mean girls nor bullies. Life seemed as it was supposed to be. ALL TOGETHER. Hand in hand.

We spent time gathered around the warm campfire. It was quite chilly. We pondered about the God-inspired teachings we heard. What we took away from the lessons. These conversations naturally lead to deeper things we were all dealing with. “Life” things. “Messy” things. “Real” things.

I tend to desire a deeper relationship than just “surface” friends. Small talk kills me. It feels so shallow to me. I desire true, raw, authentic friendship.

My life isn’t perfect. My life is messy. I feel lonely at times. I feel like a failure some days. I feel like a bad mom on other days. I have lies float into my head that I must lasso and fling out of mind. “God can’t use me anymore.” “My season is over.” “I’m Unworthy”, “Unimportant”, “Unappreciated” ….. I could go on, but you get the point.

The best thing we can do is talk about our shortcomings to Jesus. He is our Savior. He is our Helper.

Also, find a SAFE friend to share your experiences with. (Let me tell you, they will be so relieved, and you will too! Because we are NOT alone!! and then, girl, let go of those lies from the enemy!

You are NOT a failure, He has mercy for you.

You are not a mistake, He has a plan for you.

You ARE good enough, with His grace.

You CAN have joy! Thanks, God.

Being true helps the other person overcome those same lies in their minds.

Be authentic. It’s a breath of fresh air in today’s world.


Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. -Lee Stoneking


I encourage you to find someone you can trust and BE YOU. Don’t be fake, because that’s exhausting and people can tell! We have plenty of fake in this world.

Genuineness is as Gold!

So that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:7

I encourage you to find a true friend. It’s hard for me. It takes time. But it’s well worth it. Cherish her. She is valuable. We need each other.

Thanks for reading! -Tonya

Mistakes are Not Final

Mercy. I need it. You need it. The world needs it.

Mercy means to extend help to the lowliest or the most undeserving.

It gives compassion instead of punishment, even when justice demands it.

His cup never runs out. His Word says He is rich in mercy.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us…
Ephesians 2:4

Inside every mistake is the doorway of possibility. It can take you to another level that nothing else can.

There’s something hidden in mistakes you can find. You won’t make much progress without making mistakes.

There is no one beyond His saving power.

His mercy knows no limit.

His mercy flows from the highest mountain to the lowest valley.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22‭-‬23 KJV


He’s not only the God of 2nd chances, but He is the God of ANOTHER chance. This is good news because most of us mess up on the 2nd chance fairly quickly.

One of the facets of God’s character is His incredible patience with us.

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Psalms 86:15

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Micah 7:18

The Bible is full of people who had 2nd chances, and even 3rd and 4th chances. Peter, Jonah, Samson, David, and other. All trophies of God’s grace.


Just as God is patient and forgiving, he wants his children to be patient with and forgiving of others.

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
Colossians 3:12

Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive.

But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
Matthew 6:15

If someone is truly repentant, we are obligated to forgive.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.
Matthew 18:21‭-‬22

Don’t stop at dwelling on your mistakes. Receive the mercy God has for you and give it to others.

*Notes were taken from Jeff Arnold’s message “Your mistake is not Final.”

Thanks for reading. I hope this brings encouragement to you today. It did me. -Tonya

Enabling and Equipping

We visited Milwaukee County Zoo last week. We entered the cat area where the gorgeous cheetah dwelled. She paced back and forth…Over and over. She had walked the same path so much that her paws had killed the grass and what was once soft green grass was now a smooth dusty thin pathway.

We read the facts sign about cheetahs. Did you know? Cheetahs can run up to 60 miles per hour!

My daughter asked me, “Is that fast? I want to see the cheetah run.”

Sadly, I realized the cheetah didn’t have enough room to even skip let alone run at 60 miles per hour.

This cheetah couldn’t run at all. She could only pace back and forth in front of the tall glass window where we stood waiting for her to do something interesting.

She was limited…

Only man can remove the limitations of the cheetah. Only God can remove our limitations.

God is an equipping God. He ALWAYS has more for us. He ALWAYS has better for us.

We just need the desire to be more.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Ephesians 3:20

The cheetah was at the mercy of man. She wasn’t equipped with what she needed TO BE ALL that she was meant to be.

We fall short. God enables and equips us to be what He has called us to be.

We are simply NOT enough.

We need the help of God, it’s called GRACE. We need Him to change us from the inside out. We need him to open our eyes to see ourselves the way HE sees us.

Once we are all in for Him, He’ll take you further than you ever thought possible.

He will equip you for what He has in store.

Don’t give up yet. He’s got You! Reach for Him!

Pray with me: God, I give you permission to work on me. Help me see the way You see me. Nobody’s idea of me matters except for how You view me. Enable me to be the person (mom, wife, friend, leader, employee) You want me to be. Equip me with the right character, integrity, honesty, and love I need to impact my world. I make you KING of my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thanks for reading -Tonya

Gladness

It was morning. I opened my eyes, rolled over, looked at the clock on my nightstand, 5:15 am


I was debating in my mind. Get up now (before the kids) grab a cup of coffee and have some one-on-one time with Jesus OR “sleep in.” (just until 6:30 am. That’s when my kids come barreling into my bedroom letting me know they made it to the potty and they were ready for breakfast to be hot and ready on the table, right now… please mom?)

Thinking of the latter, I couldn’t help but despise the rude wake-up call. It made me eager to catch as many snoozes as I could before my day would begin.

So without further ado, I turned my head on the pillow and closed my eyes. I had made my decision.


Suddenly a voice inside of me loud and clear proclaimed,

“Serve the Lord with GLADNESS!”


It was so thunderous it was as if it shook me right out of bed. I got up to pray with a smile.

The Lord gave me the strength and encouragement I needed!

God knows what YOU need too!

Matthew 6:8 says…” for YOUR Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Simply talk with Jesus when you are feeling low and drained from life’s errands. Cleaning up toys. Wiping messy hands and faces. Changing dirty diapers. Oh yeah, the laundry needs to be put away and those dishes need washing, and Oh it’s supper time… already? … I think I made my point.

Remember, His strength is abundant. He has unlimited resources for us. He isn’t going to go bankrupt. God’s got YOU. Ask Him for a double portion of strength. I know it’s available because I have received it.

“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalms 100:2

Has God ever given you the energy you needed right on time?

I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

Mom’s lesson

Cindee Lee Sweeney, my Mother. She had a contagious laugh. She loved to have a “good laugh” (which meant laughing until your belly was sore and your eyelashes were wet with tears.) She loved to chuckle, even if it was at the expense of herself, or someone else. She would much rather have a good time than do chores, but she instilled in us the following lesson: work first, then play!

Growing up, chores were to be done right away in the morning. Then we were free to do the things we loved to do IF we accomplished the things we despised first.

The chore I dreaded most was laundry. I hated putting clothes away, especially for a family of 8. It would’ve made sense to have everyone be responsible for putting their own clothes away; which did occur, but rarely. It was more work to be the “laundry coach”.  This job included going around the house rounding everyone up and making sure they put their clothes in their appropriate dresser drawers.

I would get in trouble if my siblings left their clothes lying around. So it was a tough duty. It was just easier to put everybody’s clothes away yourself.

I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters. When you’re the oldest you automatically get a majority of the tasks.

Every eldest child knows that fact. I would hang the laundry out on the line. I would carry the bulging heavy basket up the basement stairs and out the back door, and down the deck steps. I hung the clothes over the clothesline using all the clothespins we had.

Now, this wasn’t an ordinary basket of wet clothes I carried. Oh no, not normal at all. Sometimes when I pulled them from the washing machine they would be sopping wet and dripping with water.

My mother thought it was necessary to stop the washer before the spin cycle was complete. She was savvy. She saved money and water, but at my expense (yes, I’m smiling)

Not always, but occasionally, the jeans would be hung and they would drip, drip, drip, with water because they had been interrupted during the spin cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do ALL the laundry in the house, but I did help with much of it. Mom would do at least 2 loads per day, if not 3, so she expected my help. If she skipped a day of laundry, the next day she would have to do 5, or even 6 loads.  Occasionally I would refuse and battle it out. It didn’t ever go well.

I remember the laundry basket breaking on my way up the stairs. Not from accidentally dropping it, or being too rough with it. Oh no, this was because it was so full and so very heavy! The poor basket was literally breaking down in my arms.

My uncle Ryan would grip my biceps. He would ask how I got these muscles. My answer was always, “I don’t know, laundry I guess.”

Some early mornings the hill was covered with dew. I would be outside hanging up laundry. As I reached up to grab the clothespins I would be slipping and sliding down the wet hill.

My oldest brother would run and hide in the woods when chore time came around, not every day, maybe every other day, he thought that chore time was a good time for him to work on his tree fort. We wouldn’t see him for hours. He’d show up at lunchtime.

He was careful never to give away his hideout. When mom would start passing out chores, he would vanish, almost as if it was mid-step (like the rapture will be someday.)

One day my sister, Tasha, and I were determined to see where (and how) my brother got out of sight so fast.

Trying to catch our brother, we may have had Walkie Talkies to be more official spies and more dramatic. We needed to communicate with each other the details of Tanner’s plan.

He put to use the phrase “out of sight out of mind”. If mom didn’t see you, usually you got away with no chores… maybe, at least until our bedtime chore routine.

One day we caught him. He whisked outside with snacks out the basement back door and through the garage! We finally had the answers to his masterminded intentions.

We told mom of his scheme. She had a talk with him when he showed up hours later coming up out of the thick green forest. By that time chores were long accomplished.

Mom chose to show him mercy. She was good at that.

Was it fair? No.

I feel like I was one of the people with the stones ready to throw mine at the sinner woman who was brought to Jesus caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, the people left. The woman covering her face in shame heard the sound of stones thumping as they fell to the ground instead of on her. By law, they had a right to stone her. Jesus showed her mercy instead of judgment. He said, “Go and sin no  more.”

Was it fair? No.

I was eagerly waiting for my brother’s judgment. It was like I had my stone clenched in my hand and positioned over my shoulder ready to strike, but mom showed Mercy.

Was it fair, No

I’m thankful for God’s mercy on my life. His mercies are new every morning.

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23

Thanks mom for showing me what it means to be merciful. Thanks for teaching me how to do laundry and the importance of self disciplines.

I miss her wisdom. I miss her smile. I miss her prayers. I miss her laugh. I miss her.

Thanks for reading!  What chore was your least favorite growing up? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Simply Honest

During this quarantine, my children and our neighbor’s daughter have become “fence pals.” They eagerly await their friend to come out and play. They look forward to each others faces, smiles, and little talks. They seem to play by that fence more often. It’s located in the very back of our yard. They look through the metal wires as they tell jokes and laugh together. I’ve looked over across the back yard at times to see them just sitting up against the fence playing in the dirt. They are content just to be in one another’s presence. Not saying a word.

It reminded me of my pen pal days. I was in middle school, I wrote letters to what seemed like the air. I was asking questions and describing myself, such as hobbies I enjoyed, family life, and school days. I was trying to get to know this stranger of a peer on the other side of what I thought was the world, really it was more like the other side of the state.

Our friendship grew as we exchanged letters. One day my teacher walked around the room delivering the pen pal letters. She went around the entire room and I was left empty handed. I was so sad. I thought my new friend had forgot about me. I felt unloved and rejected. Silly really, but I was only a child.

Sometimes, God may feel unloved and rejected. When we are so busy going about our day we don’t even remember to stop and think about Him. The Bible says God is a jealous God. Our priorities show through our actions not our words. Time spent with Jesus always makes the day go better anyway.

The following month she wrote back to me that she had been sick. She had to stay home from school and was not able to write me a letter. She apologized sincerely.

After her honest explanation, it made me feel so much better. My heart softened. I feft bad for feeling negatively toward her. Our relationship was mended and it flourished.

God wants us to be honest with Him. We have good intentions. We mean to pray everyday. We mean to read our Bibles daily. We mean to pray with our kids before each meal. We want to always be thankful and never complaining.

Truth is…. We Mess Up!

When we fail, we feel like failures. God doesn’t want to talk to me, I lost my cool during lunch time again. We feel inadequate. We fall short, but…. Moms YOU are enough!

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God just wants our honest talks. He wants our truthfulness. His grace and His mercy is readily available for us. When we simply apologize, but sincerely, it just melts God’s heart.

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Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23

It’s like when I come into the kitchen and see my kids made a complete mess of things, the first thing I want to do is scream, but then they say, “Sorry Mom, we were just trying to pour a drink and get a snack, but it spilled all over.” I can’t help but soften my tone and tilt my head and say, “Oh, it’s ok, let me help.” Or when my boys track mud into the house. They say, “Oh Mom, I forgot to take my shoes off.” We can’t help but be sympathetic. It changes our heart and attitude immediately. We choose to offer grace instead of judgement. We offer mercy by holding holding back the consequences.

If we will only be open and honest with God it melts His heart. He’s our Daddy. We can grow deeper in our relationship with Him when we are honest… Simply honest. He offers grace and mercy to us every morning. He’s desires you!

Abraham Lincoln was first called “Honest Abe” while he was working as a young store clerk. The story goes, whenever he realized he had shortchanged a customer, even by only few pennies, he would close the shop and deliver the correct change, no matter how far he had to walk.

Here’s a prayer you can pray over your family today,

Thank you God for Your thoughts of goodness toward me. Your banner over me is love. You knew me before You made me, and You made me wonderfully! I stand before You like glass. Transparent. With nothing to hide. I’m shattered. You just desire me. Every single piece. You know where I mess up. You see where I struggle. Take control over that area. Guard my mouth and mind to say and think things that are good, lovely, and peaceful. Help me to be honest with You. Help me to realize I need Your grace daily and help me to accept it. I give You all of me. All of my mistakes. All of my weaknesses. Lord, You make me whole. You make complete. You love me for me. I want to Love You for You. Honestly, I need you, Jesus. Amen.

Did you get a chance to experience a pen pal as a child? How about a friend who you haven’t seen in years, but are still able to keep in touch with? What is a lesson you’ve learned from being honest?

I’d like to hear about it. Thanks for reading!