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“Mommy, guess what happened at preschool today?” My little girl excitedly asked.

“I have no idea. Tell me what happened, sweet girl, ” I answered as we got in the car to drive home.

She quickly blurted out, “Olivia KISSED Hunter!”

Trying desparately not to completely over-react, I ever-so-calmly asked, “so what did you do? Did you kiss Hunter too?”

I held my breath for her answer. Without missing a beat, my four year-old proudly said, “no, mommy! Of course, I didn’t kiss Hunter. I was too busy spreading the news!”

Well, let’s just say our little bedtime routine that night included a talk about kissing boys as well as one about spreading the news.

As I walked out of her room that night, I had to chuckle at the honesty of her answer and then it hit me- I wonder how many times I have been guilty of spreading the news and using my words in ways less than ideal.


Words. We use them every day. In fact, statistics say women average between 10,000-20,000 words a day. (Okay, I’m just going to own it- I’m more than likely on the 20k end of the continuum.) But regardless of whether one is a person of few or many words, the bottom line is that ALL OF OUR WORDS MATTER. 

Words have the power to breathe life or devastation on those around us. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:24 that “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” And Ephesians 4:29 gives us the following instruction for our words: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen.”

If only words were always spoken for helping, building others up, and benefiting those who listen. How different things would be.

Perhaps how different this man’s life would have been had he encountered different words:

He was a quiet man. One who had many struggles in life, but one who was trying to turn things around. He had worked hard all day and his appearance attested to it with his muddy, cement-stained jeans and his dirty, tattered shirt. But his weary heart was searching that night, so he went as he was and stumbled into a church as a last ditch effort to find peace. It took every bit of courage to walk through the door. Failure after failure had stripped him down to a shell of a man filled with regret. Somehow, he put one foot in front of the other and found his way to the back row of the church. But before he could sit down, someone swiftly approached him asking him why he was dressed as he was and why he didn’t have more respect for God’s house. The forlorn man looked down in embarrassment, mumbled an apology, and quickly stumbled back out the door with the man’s words still ringing in his ears.

Those words never stopped ringing in the depths of his soul. From that day forward, this quiet man never darkened the door of a church again, and he never broke free from his broken life or found the peace he was so desperately searching for.

That man was my dad, and I can tell you first-hand that the memory of that heart-breaking experience never faded away for him…or for me.  It made a lasting impression on my heart and taught me the powerful lesson that not only do words matter but WORDS ARE FOREVER. Once they are said, they are out there forever. Yes, apologies can be given, but nothing can fully erase our words. This is why it is so important that we truly think before we communicate and respond in love rather than react with our emotions.

The Bible says in Matthew 12:36  that we will give an account for every idle word that we have spoken. So whether I am spreading the news or lashing out in judgement or anger, my words have lasting consquences that I am accountable for.

Ultimately, WORDS REVEAL OUR CHARACTER. Luke 6:45b tells us that what is in our hearts comes out in what we speak. So, when our words are cynical, judgmental, angry, or hate-filled, it all originates from within.

I will be the first to say that I am not perfect and my words and my heart can stray from what I know is right. But here’s what I do know: I want to honor and please God with everything- my words, my actions, and my heart. And the only way that I know to do that is to make this the prayer of my life:


Keeper of my heart, I don’t always get it right, and I sure can make a mess of things sometimes when I open my mouth. But my heart’s cry is that my soul will be so in tune with You that everything that flows out of the wellsprings of my heart truly brings honor and glory to Your name. Help my words to be uplifting and point people to You. May I use my lips to speak life, hope, and encouragement to those around me. And most of all, I ask You to empty me of me, and fill me with Your power, Your presence, Your love, and Your words each day. This I pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.




“Mommy, I don’t think that I can go to horse camp.”

“What do you mean, sweet girl? You love horses, and I know you will have a blast,” I quickly assured her as we settled in for our bedtime routine of snuggling and reading together.

Her voice cracked and tears spilled out of her eyes as she choked out the words, “but if I go to horse camp every day that means we will only have six hours a day together!”

Those words. Those precious words.

In that moment, my heart melted as I thought about how much my eight-year old daughter was growing up so fast before my very eyes, yet even with how big she was getting- she still needed me. I held her close and assured her that she would be fine without me, but the tears continued…out of both of our eyes.


One thing that I am learning is that this whole letting-go thing is not easy. I’m quite certain that I have left pieces of my heart in the church nursery, at the preschool, in her kindergarten class, and now even at horse camp. And I find myself fighting through the mixed emotions of wishing that I could keep her little forever but yet wanting to help her to mature and grow.

As parents we have such an awesome responsibility. The Bible challenges us to train up our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6), and what I am learning is that part of training them is to help them transition from parent-reliance to God-reliance. As much as I want to be her everything, that is only a place that God can and should fill.

Suddenly, this became more than just about horse camp, but rather, an opportunity for both of us to grow.

Interestingly enough, the very next day after our emotional bedtime conversation, my daughter came to me and said, “Mommy, I’ve thought about it- horse camp is only a week long, and we have all summer to be together. Go ahead and sign me up.”

I watched her excitedly skip away, and I had to shake my head and laugh because I was still back at our emotional bedtime ordeal… while she had clearly moved on.

However, my heart was so happy and thankful that she didn’t get stuck in needing me to miss out on a week of having so much fun! I’m sure we will have many more of these crossroads to face together, but today I will hug her and tell her,

“Go ride that horse, my love! And have the time of your life at horse camp! And when you are done, I will be there to hear all about it and to savor our six hours together.”



  • Nancy Rogers - Paula,

    What a touching warm story. Yup its hard letting go..of children, of grandchildren, of lifes problems and of life’s tragedies, hard to let go and let God take control, to watch over, to wait on Him for all of it. Even adults have to learn this, almost everyday I find myself having to give it to Him yet again.
    As for horses, your sweet Emma has my heart there. I road horses in shows, for pleasure all my teen/young adult life. I owned 3 horse. Then not quite all that long ago had two mini horses, that I let go of about 5 yrs. ago as I got older. Nothing like the love of horse and a girl. 🙂

    God Bless,
    Nancy Looking forward to seeing you again at Maine Coast Baptist.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Nancy- you are exactly right: handing over everything to God is definitely not a one-time thing. It is a daily, hourly, and sometimes even a moment-by-moment realization that we need God. Letting God have control in all areas of our lives is an ongoing process for all of us. Glad to know I’m not the only one who keeps having to let go and let God… 🙂

      Emma definitely shares your love of animals! So sweet!

      Yes, I am so excited to come back to Maine in August! I look forward to seeing you then!
      Thanks for your constant support of my ministry!
      Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • Gail Smith - Beautiful,

    Jack and I have had to watch ourfour sons grow up over the years and let each one of them go at different times. It was hard all four times but I do remember giving them back to the Lord when each was an infant. That is a comforting feeling just knowing that He has them each in the palm of his almighty hand

    Love you Paula
    Gail SmithReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - You are so right, Gail! It is so comforting to know that God has our loved ones in His almighty hand- our children & our parents!!! 🙂 Love you, my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Denise Ames - Oh so precious. You’re both too sweet!ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Thanks, Denise! I so appreciate your sweet enouragement & support! Much love…ReplyCancel


It had been a beautiful day- perfect for a trip to the mountains with our friends. We had enjoyed touring a new youth camp that our church was building and had ridden 4-wheelers and gators on trails deep into the wilderness of this amazing property. The air was fresh and the views were absolutely breath-taking. All throughout the day, I couldn’t help but smile and reminisce of wonderful memories of going to camp when I was a child.

I was quickly pulled out of my reverie as our tour brought us to the brand new zipline that had just been installed. This was the moment the group had been anxiously waiting for. They could hardly wait to take the plunge off of the platform that loomed 40 ft. off the ground.

Everyone, that is, except for me. Being far from a thrill-seeker and one that struggles with motion-sickness, going on a zipline was definitely not in my plans for the day, but I was very happy to watch everyone else…happy until I heard these words:

“I will only go down the zipline if mommy goes with me.”

My heart sank and I immediately had a boulder in the pit of my stomach. I knew in that moment my fate was sealed as my 8 year-old daughter looked up at me with her big blue eyes earnestly imploring me to help her conquer her fear so that she could enjoy this phenomenal experience. She was so conflicted with wanting to go so badly but being completely scared to do so. I knew in my heart this was a defining moment in her life and even mine. Would we turn away in fear or step out into it?

After painstakingly thinking through the whole situation,  I very reluctantly agreed to do the zipline with her and began to put the harness on…all the while wondering what in the world was I thinking. These kinds of things truly terrify me, make me nauseous, and present a very real possibility of looking like a complete spectacle with arms and legs flailing wildly out of control the whole way down. I knew that despite all of the above, this was a life lesson that I had to help my daughter through. The thought of how could I encourage her to face her fear, but not be willing to do the same kept going through my mind.  So, I took a very deep breath and continued on.

Seconds before stepping off the wooden platform, I began to second guess the whole thing and even said, “I really don’t think I can do this!” But as I looked over at my daughter standing next to me on her platform and saw her beaming with excitement to do the zipline side-by-side with me, I knew there was no way out.

So, before I could change my mind, I closed my eyes, took another deep breath, and stepped off the platform into the air. My stomach and heart both felt like they had risen into my throat, I never moved a muscle throughout the whole ordeal, and to add to my terror I ended up going backwards the whole way down! Yes, backwards! Nothing like not knowing when or how you are going to land on your very first trip down!

My daughter, on the other hand, squealed with delight and LOVED every moment of it as she gracefully glided through the air with her arms outstretched like a princess. She went on to do it several more times and even got choked up when we had to leave.

Beyond just being happy that I survived the whole ordeal, I walked away from this experience with a renewed determination to face my fear and not let it dictate my circumstances- not just on a zipline but in all areas of life.

We all have moments when fear suffocates us with its unrelenting grip on our hearts. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of not having control in a situation, or the fear of pain and sorrow just to name a few. But in each of these situations, we have a choice to either run away from our fear or to plunge head-long into it and face its powerful control on our lives.

Our pastor and friend, the one who was probably the most responsible for pressuring (oops, I mean convincing) my daughter & I to do the zipline, used this story in his message Sunday to illustrate that just as Emma had courage to step out because she trusted me and knew that I would be by her side the whole way down, we can find strength in knowing that God is always by our side and will help us through our greatest fears and struggles. I love that! What a great picture of how we can place our childlike faith in God to find strength when we are consumed with fear.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”          ~John Wayne

What fear is holding you back?

We are all scared to death at times. The key is pushing through our fears and anxiety by recognizing that we aren’t in this alone. God is with us every step of the way and will give us exactly what we need to accomplish His purposes. He tells us in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. What would it look like if we really embraced and believed that verse? I believe we would let go of our fears and insecurities and we would saddle up for the exciting adventure God has waiting for us (Dare to Soar, pg 63).

So, whether we are teetering on a 40ft. zipline platform or facing a moment in life that paralyzes our hearts, let’s face our fear and bravely choose to step into whatever lies before us.

You will only conquer fear when you face it.  

So why not just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take that step today?


  • Denys - I love this! You had me laughing like you always do with all your stories. Wish I could have seen you.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Denys- glad you enjoyed the story. You know me so well, and I’m sure you could picture the whole thing :).ReplyCancel


When you see yourself, what do you see? A portrait of a classy woman always exuding grace and confidence? Hmm. While that might be an answer many of us strive towards, if you are anything like me, there are days when I can feel more like a haggard mess as I barrel through my day.

Let’s face it, in today’s society, there is a ton of pressure on women to look a certain way. We can’t even stand in a grocery line without being bombarded with pictures of models who have perfect figures, amazing hair, trendy clothes, and beautiful airbrushed makeup. And if we are not careful, we as women can walk away feeling very discontented and critical of ourselves. Can you relate?

I believe this is a struggle many of us women face throughout our lives, and if we are not careful we can so easily buy into our society’s obsession with not just beauty but all out perfection…which no amount of dieting, exercising, or shopping could ever attain. That is why it is SO important that we find our security in the Lord- not in how we look, not in what we have, but in who we are in Christ!

If only we could see ourselves as God sees us! He formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Have you ever thought about the fact that every time we pick ourselves apart and put ourselves down we are insulting our Creator? (how convicting is that?) He made us just the way we are! And here’s my favorite part- because I have a personal relationship with God, I am His child which makes me a daughter of the King! Imagine if we truly embraced, believed, and lived that? How different we would view ourselves, our lives, and this short time that we have here on this earth if we truly saw ourselves through God’s eyes.

So as we wrestle through this whole self-image thing, my prayer for each of us women is that we will confidently know who we are in Christ and focus more on Him and less on ourselves…causing Jesus to absolutely radiate from each of our lives. What could be more beautiful than that?

  • Linda Blass - Love the verse regarding the meditations of our mind. Our self talk has power to strengthen us or rib us of our power. Keeping His word in our heart reminds us how prescious we are in His sight.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Linda- you are so right! Keeping God’s Word in our heart and minds truly is the key to knowing who we are in Christ! Thanks for that reminder! Blessings to you! PaulaReplyCancel


It was just an ordinary afternoon of racing around and running errands before picking up my daughter from school, but in the midst of the mundane there was a powerful moment that profoundly spoke to my heart.

As I stood in the grocery store checkout line, I will be honest I was a little frustrated at how long it was taking. However, never wanting to waste a moment, I immediately busied myself with scanning my groceries to make sure nothing was missed and then I quickly began looking over my to-do list to see what else could be checked off in the next hour. I was completely engrossed in my own thoughts until a rather loud conversation erupted right behind me. An older gentlemen came up with two items in his hand, but stepped aside to let the older lady behind him take his spot. She quickly told him that since he only had two items he should go first, but he assured her that he didn’t need to go first. He went on to say that he had absolutely nothing to go home for and no one waiting for him. She then went on to tell him that she understood because she had lost her husband a year ago. They continued to talk as it became my turn to check-out. I found myself wanting to turn around and express my sympathy for both of them, but didn’t want to interrupt their moment. An honest moment. A real-life moment. A moment that I could not let go of.

I walked out of the grocery store pondering their lives and how lonely they must often feel. I couldn’t help but feel their sadness as they related to one another. I thought of my sweet family that is always there at home with me, and my heart overflowed with love and thankfulness for them. And I began to wonder if in all of the craziness of rushing around trying to get everything done each day, am I loving them well? Am I appreciating their sweet faces every day that we are blessed to be together? Do I savor the moments we have together?

Life is funny how it tricks us into thinking it is forever, but in reality it is fleeting. It feels like just yesterday I was a little girl riding my bike after school, and somehow I blinked and now I am in my 40s. And as life keeps marching on, I am even more determined to keep dreaming, keep living, and keep loving with everything inside of me.

It has been a few weeks since the grocery store encounter, but I have not forgotten the reminder that it impressed upon my heart. A reminder that I’ve only got one shot at this thing called life. I don’t want to be so busy rushing around or looking ahead that I miss the people and even the grocery store moments right in front of me. I want to choose to LIVE fully, to LOVE completely, and to EMBRACE every moment that I am given- the mundane moments, the grandiose moments and everything in between, for every moment matters and is an opportunity to cherish those around us and to make a difference with our lives!



  • Amy - Well said. Thank you…I needed that reminder.ReplyCancel

    • pauladunn - Thanks, Amy! So appreciate your support :). Blessings, PaulaReplyCancel

  • Gail Smith - BeautifulReplyCancel