Saturday, May 28, 2016

No One Can Ever Steal a Memory

 I’ve lost some special people in my life. But I still think of them, often.

I think of my grandpa who died of a heart attack when I was in 5th grade. And my other grandpa who passed in 2009 at the age of 90.

I think of my cousin, who committed suicide at a young age. A friend who did the same.   And I think of a young friend who was hit and killed by a car in high school.

I think of so many people who have come into my life – left their mark; impacted my heart, and then were gone.

Their love keeps living inside of me.

You never really lose someone you love. A part of them is always with you. Whether they are a friend, or a family member.  Certain things will always jarr your memory and remind you of something they did, something they said, how they smelled, etc.

Time somehow keeps certain memories alive. Certain feelings vibrant.

They don’t have to be sad – they can cause a smile to form on your lips, or a giggle to spill from your throat.

That’s love.

Everyone, whom I love in this life, becomes a part of me, somehow. In some way, a slice of them rubs off on me, and it sticks.

And I like knowing that. I like feeling that.

We may be physically far away from those special loved ones who’ve passed on ahead of us. But inside, we will always be close.

No one can ever steal a memory.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Know Yourself. Know Yourself WELL.

How well do you know yourself?

Do you know yourself well enough to know when someone “mislabels” you?

There will always be people out there who don’t get us. People who are jealous of us. People, who just, plain, don’t like us.

I don’t understand it. I don’t agree with it. But it’s the reality of life.

So, how well do you know yourself?  How well do you know yourself when you find out lies have been spread about you?  How well do you know yourself, when someone says something to you about how you act, or what they think of you… that is in contradiction to who you think you are?

How well, do you know your heart, your soul, and your mind?

We must know ourselves very well. We must know what we stand for. We need to know what we believe about ourselves, about humanity, and about life.

We need to know our weaknesses and strengths.

We need to know when to reject words and thoughts meant to shape us in ways that aren’t encouraging, or aren’t fuel to the fire in our hearts. Words that don’t motivate the spark in us that can impact the world in a better way.

We need to know our giftings. We need to accept how we were made and how we are growing.

It takes time alone to truly learn about yourself. It takes quiet, reflective moments to listen to what’s in our hearts and our heads.

It takes courage to listen to what is truly going on inside ourselves – good – or bad.

But we need to hear it. We need to know what rages inside of us. And we need to let it be molded into something that strengthens us into better people.

Some people are really good for us. They are great at getting us to know ourselves better. They have a gift of investing into us, without chipping anything away. 

These are the people we need to surround ourselves with. They are gifts.

You never know when your life will be taken for a spin. You never know when everything you thought you were, will be questioned, challenged, and confronted.  So if you don’t already, get to know who you really are. Know what you’re capable of. Know what you want to be about.  And then stand on it. Stand strong and sure.

So that when the attack comes, you will know yourself well.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

For the Things I Clutch Onto, Too Tightly

I love deeply. I love with passion. I love with every bone and fiber of my being. So when I love someone, I LOVE someone.

I love my God. I love my children. My husband. My relatives and friends. But there are times where God has to remind me that loving people, here, doesn’t mean I can compartmentalize them away from Him. For when I love them, I want to hold onto them. And sometimes God has different plans.

I love my Lord more than anything. Yet His lessons are still hard for me to grasp and accept at times. It’s hard to accept when He wants to take away someone in my life that I love dearly. It’s hard when He sees fit to move along a friendship or bring someone new into someone else’s life so that I am set aside. And yet, I trust Him. Even if I don’t like how events unfold.

I don’t think I have ever loved anyone more completely in this life than my family.  Once you become a wife and a mom – it’s a whole different ballgame. Your heart is no longer your own. Everything can become a threat, a fear, a danger. You throw your whole being into protecting your children, nurturing them, instilling values and morals into them – only to know that one day they will walk out your door.

It can be so easy to clutch onto them too tightly.

If letting go would only be easier. If it only would sound more inviting, and welcoming.  But it doesn’t. It sounds painful.

I am coming upon that time in life when God will ask me to let go of my children. To let Him take over. (As if He wasn’t always in charge, anyways!) As my children come into the age of being independent adults, my heart has to ready itself to break a little – or a lot. I have to unclench my hands and let God’s hands replace my own. The God I love more than anything. The God I trust.

I couldn’t let them go to anyone or anything else.

They are so priceless, my children. So irreplaceable. And it’s so scary to let them go. It’s scary to relinquish “say” and control. Because I love them. Deeply. I enjoy them. And I always want them near. They are lifeblood to me.

Someday, I know they will have children of their own. And they, too, will feel that deep, deep love. And they will understand. They will know my heart.

But for now, I have to ready myself. I have to prepare. I have to understand that this season of my life is changing and shifting.

I think when I think of “letting go” I envision a person on a cliff holding the hand of someone who is about to fall. That’s why it’s so scary. I feel like I have to hang on for things to be all right.  But what if I instead, envision someone releasing a bird in the sky? That bird is free to fly. To soar. That is the kind of ‘letting go’ that I think a parent really does. And it may be one with tear-soaked cheeks, but it’s one with a smile. A dream. Hope.

My hands may never fully be ready to open up and let God take those I love so dearly out of my grasp. But ready or not, I will do it. I will hand over my heart to the Lord I love more than life itself and watch Him carefully tend to the sweetness He graciously brought me all those years ago.

My children.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fight For What's Right

Growing up, we were always told to “be nice.” “Play fair.”  “Say you’re sorry.” We were taught to include others, and to be respectful.

But I think oftentimes as parents, (me included), we forget to tell our children to fight for what’s right. To defend the weak.  To stand up for yourself.

We can very easily tap into the “be nice” mode – especially as Christians. But how easily do we tap into the warrior part of us? The part that has a passionate fire burning inside, against injustice, evil, or bullies?  We need to be able to be equipped, and TO equip our children, to be soldiers. Moral fighters.

We love to evade the fight. Most of us hate confrontation. And we certainly shouldn’t engage in battle on every circumstance. But we do need to engage in some battles.

There are those out there, who are thirsty for our blood. For our children’s blood. Satan is on the prowl and he loves the fact that we emphasize “niceness” in our lives.

Sometimes, life calls for a war. It calls for a little “fire” in our bellies.

We can fight with a moral justice inside of us. We can fight for what’s right and decent. And the next generation needs to see that there are courageous, brave men and women out there, who are ready to be bold and fight for those who are weaker, or those who can’t find their voices.

I think the world needs more warriors.  More soldiers ready to battle for the good of mankind. For the good of our souls.

The world needs soldiers who are on alert.

We can be honorable, just, and wise – and still be soldiers and warriors. We can be kind and decent, and still be courageous and brave.

The world needs honor. It needs justice. It craves leadership.

The fight will often come to us, and to our homes; even if we don’t want it to. Even if we hate confrontation, and don’t want to engage in the war and battle going on, for our morality. It will still come.

It’s up to us, to be ready. To be willing to fight for the future of our souls. Our children’s souls.

Will you be that one? Will you teach your children to stand strong?

This is the time. This is the fight. The fight for our very lives.

How will we choose to live through it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Like "Me"

I’ve never been one to have a “thick skin.”  I think I was born knowing how to empathize with others… knowing what they must be feeling…and feeling it with them.

I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. I take everything in my life personally, because I invest everything I am, personally INTO everything that I come across.

But, as I’ve grown up, I’ve had to change a little bit. I haven’t lost who I am. I still have a deep instinct and perception on others, that rarely leads me wrong. I still relish having empathy as a strong quality in my heart.  But, I’ve had to develop a little bit more thickness in that skin of mine.

I’ve been criticized. Judged. Mislabeled. My thoughts, feelings, and actions, at times, have been delved into. They’ve been questioned.

I’ve always said, that if someone truly knows your character and heart, they have no need to question you. Ever. They know where you are coming from.  But it’s been new for me, to learn, that not everyone knows where I’m coming from. And not only that, they don’t care to know.

Some people just see things from their own perspective and viewpoint – and that’s the only one they believe in. The only one they ever care to know.

I think it’s been a gift for me, to learn how to let some things go, yet still remain soft and compassionate. It’s certainly been a challenge! For hurts can so easily turn into bitterness. I don’t have it perfected, but I’m learning to sift the thoughts of others into file boxes, that I keep in my heart and mind. Those boxes are sorted, based on the weight and input I believe they should have on my character.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand, why some people won’t understand me. For I’m so transparent. I’m so human.

If I give, some people will always want me to give more.

If I love, someone will always want me to love bigger, better, and more often.

If I get more thoughtful, someone will always want me to share what is only meant to be between me, and God.

If I have a good day, or a bad day, someone will always judge my actions as a result.

It’s life. It’s people.

It’s certainly a process. A unique road to learning more about myself, and more about others.

It all comes down to the plain fact, I am who I am. God made me this way. And the way He made me as a child….has morphed, adjusted, tweaked, and grown into who I am as an adult.

And I LIKE ME. I’m not perfect. I’m extremely flawed.  But, I like me.

Even if someone else never quite gets the “me” they want to get.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Things Aren't Always Fair

One of the hardest lessons I’ve been having to learn in life, is that things aren’t always fair.

When we moved from Idaho to Texas, and a bunch of our furniture was scratched or ruined – we had to let it go. Even though it wasn’t fair.

When I sat and watched my daughter sit on the sidelines in volleyball, even though other girls’ were messing up time and time again, and playing the whole game? I had to come to terms with the fact that things just wouldn’t be fair.

When, most recently, the photographer at my daughter’s wedding “lost” all of our family photos, and other important shots… to be gone forever? I had to swallow, feel “sick” about not having family wedding shots on my daughter’s wedding day – and let it go. Even though it wasn’t fair.

Someone can’t always make things right for us, when something unfair happens. The photographer could offer money back, a free album, canvas… whatever. But the special day was done. Gone. Family had been in and flown out. Nothing would make up for what was lost.

So many of us feel like we are treated unfairly, so often in life. And you know what? We are.

My girls are treated unfairly when they have to be punished with their whole class, even though they weren’t involved in something.

My husband may be treated unfairly at work. I may be treated unfairly in friendships. Whatever it is, it happens. And it will happen again. It is one of life’s biggest, and hardest lessons to learn.

We have to learn to let things go. We have to learn to move on. We have to learn, and we have to grow in these times. It does us no good to sit in them, and wallow in the “unfairness” of it all. And believe me, some things are extraordinarily unfair!

I know, that as I have learned to embrace moving on, just a little bit more, through each circumstance, I am happier. I am more at peace. I am more understanding of mistakes we all make in life. And I am more appreciative of what I have and who I have, in my life.

Things ARE unfair. You WILL be treated unfairly. It’s life. It’s the way it has always been, and the way it always will be.  The biggest question is, what will we do in those moments? And how will we move on from those times?

I hope we move on softer, gentler, and more thankful people. Not because of the unfairness of it all, but because of how we can now understand how it feels for others, when they too, are in those moments.  And knowing how it feels, makes us stronger.  Better. And more loving.

I’d choose those any day, over being bitter. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

But, I Can't Pray For EVERYONE and EVERYTHING!

Sometimes it can be overwhelming…. The needs out there. Constant requests on facebook for prayer. Constant streaming news clips of a world gone bad.

People so obviously need our prayer. The world SO OBVIOUSLY needs our prayer.

But what do you do, when you just can’t pray for it all? I mean, if I prayed for every need I saw, I’d never get to living my own life! The needs. Are. Great.

Sometimes it can be easy to feel guilty. When I see people asking us to fast and pray for things going on in the world that I truly want to see God’s hand in. I may be very saddened by what is going on, and I may be opposed to what is going on just like everyone else. But I can’t pray for it ALL.

God moves on our behalf, so I deeply believe He wants to hear our prayers. No prayers – no movement. Now just because one person can’t pray for every need out there, doesn’t mean that one person can’t pray for a lot of needs out there. I can pray for whatever is brought to my attention and brought to my heart and mind. If I feel moved and led to do so, I can pray for a longer period of time over an issue. If not, I can pray for a few minutes. But I’m still praying. I’m still asking God to change, move, and intervene in someone’s life or situation.

And it still matters.

When I can’t sleep at night, sometimes I just start rattling off prayers. I pray for anything and everything that comes to my mind. I pray for our political leaders, things going on in the news, and more. I pray for people by name. If we all did this, that would probably just about cover all the needs in the world. Right? Because, we all know someone else. And we all have things brought to our attention.

So, even though one person may not be able to pray for everyone and everything – together – all of us – CAN.

We don’t need to feel overwhelmed. We simply need to move on behalf of the people that God directs us to.

For there will always be needs.

Monday, April 25, 2016

To Be Cared For, And Loved, Greatly

He warms me up.  Whenever I get cold, he is there. In church, he will place his two hands over mine, to warm up my cold fingers.

He will pull me close, to put his arm around me.

He will cover me with blankets.

And yes, sometimes, he will even let me rule the thermostat – and turn up the heat for me.

That’s my man. That’s love.

It’s a gift, I’m so thankful to receive.

When I’m going through a tough time – whether it’s a trial, challenge, or personal hurts. He warms me up.

He places people in my life to encourage me.

He puts peace in my heart and gives me strength, when I have none of my own.

He wraps His arms around me. And when I find coldness out THERE in the world, He puts warmth in my heart.

That’s my God. That’s love.

A gift that is priceless. Always arriving right on time.

I’m so blessed, and so thankful. I’m thankful I’m loved enough, to be taken care of.  It doesn’t mean I am weak, or helpless.

It simply means I am cared for and loved greatly.

What a feeling. What knowing of that, does for a life.

I wish that knowing for all of us.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Those Moments Where You Just Have to Say, "WOW"

I don’t know about you, but sometimes God shows off for me. And I love it when I’m not too busy to notice it.

One of those moments happened recently. His show of beauty, and personalization to me, of knowing what I would enjoy and like, amazed me so much, that I actually exclaimed out loud with a “Wow.”

And it was so fun.

It was just a fleeting moment. But a moment in which I felt Him speak to me, and say, “I love you, Dionna.” I see you.

I’m here with you.

And knowing those things? It means everything.

For I had just been singing a song about asking God to stay with me, because I felt a little unsteady in a certain situation. I didn’t quite trust myself to navigate it well. And in a flash, there it was. My “wow” moment.

Dear friend, if you are struggling today, if you are wondering if you are all alone, and no one sees you, hears you, or understands what you are going through? Let me tell you, you are wrong. There is a God who loves you more than you can fathom. He does see you, and He hears you.

Look for Him. He is there.

He knows just what to do, to delight your heart and encourage you.

With everything in me, I hope and pray, that you get your “wow” moment. The moment when you see – THERE IS A GOD. And He is a loving God. A God who is a personal God. An all-knowing God. A God who loves you deeply and is FOR YOU.

You are not alone. He is there with you. I just hope you will be able to see it.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What Happened, To Going the Extra Mile?

Excellence is a rare gift these days. When I see someone who lives their life with excellence, and does their job with excellence; I know that they have great character.

I so wish “excellence” were expected in people more often. I so wish, that it was taught!

We teach our children to do their chores, and to get their homework done. But do we teach them to go the “extra mile?” Or are we teaching them to only get done what they have to get done?

When we stay at someone else’s home, are we helpful? Do we take care of our bedding, any trash we may have left? Do we help with dinner?


When we do our jobs, do we clock out before our shift has technically ended?

Going the extra mile means we have to have eyes, ears, and a heart that sees needs out there. We have to be aware of a need, even when it’s not spoken. And we have to be willing to meet it – even if it’s not expected of us.

If I only do just what is expected of me, I’m really short-changing myself. I’m not giving the gift, or getting the blessing, of pouring into someone else’s life. Even if it’s working just 30 min later on something, empting the trash when it’s not my job, or taking care of something for someone, “just because,”.  Those are all reflections on me and my care and respect, for other people’s efforts, their time, and their love.

I can’t always “go the extra mile.” Sometimes I lack the money, the time, or the right heart motivation. But more often than naught, I’m betting that I CAN. And I should.  Not just for them – but for myself. To make myself a better person.

Excellence is taught. But it’s also “caught.”  May I be a person who shows excellence in my life, by doing things well, and by doing MORE than what is expected of me. And I pray it will be seen – not so that I get any kind of credit… but so that others will desire to display it in their lives too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It Doesn't Change Who You Are

So much can happen on this crazy trek of life.  We can go from day to day, never knowing what will affect our life.

There will be good presidents, and bad presidents.  There will be good friends and bad friends. There will be good days and bad days.

It’s all a part of life.

Sometimes, things affect us greatly. But sometimes, we let them affect us greatly – when we shouldn’t. They are simply another step in our journey.

Whatever happens in my life, whatever people label me as, whatever leadership is placed over me…. It doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t change the fact that I was created to be a certain way. To love a certain way, to be passionate about certain things, and to dream certain dreams.

For I am unique. As are you.

We all rub shoulders with people in life who manage to rub a little shine off of our happiness. They cause doubt within us, and they somehow, have just the right gifting to make us feel like any value we had in life, wasn’t valuable or special, at all.

But regardless of how someone else might project onto us? It doesn’t change who you are.

You still have all the same talents, character qualities, and gifts that you had before someone else “mislabeled” you. You still have natural tendencies and flair that were created with you, on the day you were born.

Not everyone will see it. Not everyone will appreciate it.  But you are still “you.” And you still matter.

Life will have bad days, bad seasons, and bad circumstances. Heaven help us, we will have leadership that leads us in the wrong direction, or takes us 5 steps backwards. It can affect our progress, but it can never take away who we are. For, we are irreplaceable.

You may have a broken heart today, because the person of your dreams broke up with you.

You may be struggling to find friends who will see you for you, and who will stand by you.

You may be working so hard at a job, just hoping that you will get a much-needed raise, or a promotion.

You may be on bended knee, praying for a prodigal child who has lost their way – and seemingly their care for you, as their mom or dad.

But, let me tell you, none of that changes who you are.

You are still VERY loveable. Very valuable. And very precious.

People make choices and decisions in life. They make mistakes. Don’t let those choices project onto your self-esteem, or your value.

Keep loving. Keep believing. Keep being you.  For you are the only you this world has got.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

People Just Want To Be Seen

I think people are begging to be seen.

People want others to see beyond the heavy weight that they bear on the outside, to the person they are on the inside.

Can you see who they really are? The struggles they are fighting?

People want others to see beyond the poor choices that they are making, the clothes that they are wearing, and the words they are saying.

Those are merely outward expressions of a hurting heart.

They want to be seen.

People want to be seen – deep inside. They want to be known.

They want to be loved.

They want someone to believe in them, so that they can overcome the weight, the poor choices, and all the other things that the rest of the world sees. 

They need someone to walk alongside of them, give them some “tough love,” and some “gentle love” at the same time.  They need love in huge doses. They need prayer in huge doses. And they need grace in huge doses.

Can you love them? Can you pray for them?

This is a hurting world. A world that is full of people begging to be seen. Begging to be loved.

It’s the cure for what ails us. Love.

It’s the cure for bitter, cold, broken, hurting hearts.

It’s the key to helping people find value and purpose in life.

People just want to be seen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Overcoming a Fractured Past

They say where you come from impacts who you are as a person, every day.  So, as a parent, what if you came from a home where you didn’t have the best of parents?  You may not have had the best examples yourself, of what and how, to be a loving parent. 

It can be far too easy to remember the bad and negative stuff, than it can be, to remember the good. As much as a challenge that is, it’s important that you don’t sift out that good part of your life growing up, just because the bad may be so overwhelming.

No person is perfect. No parent is perfect. Your parents probably made loads of mistakes while raising you. Some may have even delegated the raising of you to someone else, and that could have really hurt you, or it could have been the best blessing in your life possible.  Whatever your situation, don’t allow Satan to define your heritage for you. Don’t let him define you!  Your parents’ weaknesses and strongholds don’t have to be yours.  Strive to embrace whatever good you can remember about your childhood and let those thoughts, memories, and feelings reside in your heart.  You can’t erase your past altogether. If you try, you will only be denying yourself an important piece of who you are. You can heal your heart for your families’ health and sake, and then set about defining who you want to be, as a person, and as a parent.

Your children may ask you about your past. Children are naturally curious and they want to know everything there is to know about family and where they come from.  You will have to decide ahead of time, how you want to tackle these questions. Simply waving them aside won’t squelch them… for they will come again.  If you take the time to deal with your past, with the Lord ahead of time, maybe you can be prepared to be honest about the ugly stuff while still finding something good and positive to share about your history.  You can be such a great example for your children, of finding something good in the bad – and you can change the color and perspective that your children have of their heritage.

Today is the day you can make a change and a difference.  God tells us that if we follow Him and are faithful and obedient children, that He can bless a whole generation following us! What a beautiful goal.

You are who you are – whether or not you wish your growing-up-years could have been different. And God can take those hurtful and painful feelings and memories, and turn them around inside of you. He can use them, and use you, in a way that only God can do. If you try to erase everything, you may be shutting out powerful ministry opportunities that God may have in mind for your life.

No one ever said that parents have to know it all. We are all still learning as we go. So as you learn how to take the good from your past, filter out the bad, and incorporate a positive heritage and environment for your family - know that God is right there with you – cheering you on every step of the way.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

In Our Weaknesses, We Find Strength

The world looks at the weak as failures. They like to set them aside where they don’t have to deal with them. It’s almost like the weak are selectively removed.  They are ostracized, ridiculed, shunned, laughed at, and ignored. They are often misunderstood.

I think God looks at the weak in a different light. He extends His love, compassion, grace, and mercy to us more when we are weak – especially because it causes us to reach out to Him.

When we are strong, we often think we can “go” life alone. Things are going great and we love God of course, but we don’t really rely on Him on a daily basis. But when things aren’t going so great, that is when we cry out to Him. We lean on Him. We talk to Him.

Being weak keeps us on our knees before the Lord … which is where we should be all along.

No one is perfect. It’s an allusion. We all have weaknesses within us, and weak moments. So we should know better than anyone, how to extend compassion, forgiveness, and understanding to those around us who are weak.

It is only through those weak moments in life that we learn more about ourselves and what God truly can do through us and in us. It is in our weaknesses, that we truly find our strength. We are stronger because of what God brings us through in life. We may have scars, but those should only be reminders of how greatly God held on to us and didn’t let us go.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Much Time Do You Spend, With Your Own Soul?

How much time do you spend with your own soul?

How much time do you spend pursuing the things you love? Pondering the thoughts on your mind? Feeling the issues that weigh on your heart?

How much time, do you spend with your own soul?

We can’t gain focus in life, clarity, perspective, or truly know what we think and feel…. If we are too busy DOING life, and not devoting enough time to funneling out all the noises and sounds of it, so we can hear ourselves.

And it can be so easy to forget to listen. To forget to know the sound of the beating of our own heart. 

Doing is often easier than “being.” “Being” with ourselves. “Being” FOR ourselves.  BEING ourselves. In our authentic skin.

We fear that our thoughts might be rejected and our hearts might be neglected.

But sometimes you have to fight for yourself. Fight for the right to hear yourself. To listen to yourself. To KNOW yourself.

I wouldn’t want to do life not knowing who I was. I don’t want to forget who I’ve been, and who I’m becoming. And I want to CHOOSE those things for myself – not let them be dictated by someone else.

So I need to spend time with my own soul. Learn to tend to it. Let it speak to me, direct me, and fuel who I am. Each day.

Step aside. Go to a quiet space. And BE. Close your eyes, and let your heart and soul do the talking while you just listen.  While you listen and learn about yourself.

For no one should be an expert on you – except YOU.

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