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?

Excellence.

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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Friday, March 25, 2016

Those Unattainable Standards We Keep Trying To Reach



It can be tiring. Trying to be the perfect person all of the time. I mean, we’re bound to let someone down at some point. Bound to mess up and make a mistake. Yet, still, we strain, and strive, to attain an image that we have in our heads of the kind of person we believe, is “it.” That perfect standard of being.

All we do is end up discouraged. Frustrated.

We feel like failures. Like we aren’t good enough for others. Like we aren’t good enough for ourselves.

Some of us go to the opposite extreme. We KNOW we will never achieve certain standards. So we figure, “why try?”  We don’t try to live up to any standards at all. We’re used to letting people down and we grow comfortable there. We figure that it’s just our ‘lot’ in life, to be the odd one. The outcast.

There’s got to be a medium road in there somewhere. Don’t you think? Can’t we relax the standard of perfection on ourselves, without giving up completely? Can’t we live at ease with who we are, while still striving to be better people?

I think so.

I know so.

I would love to be more comfortable in my skin and able to not worry about saying the ‘wrong thing’ at the ‘wrong time.’ I’d also love to not stress so much about what other people might be thinking of me. At the same time, I’d like to try to continue to better my weaknesses so I can feel good about myself. Maybe I won’t attain ‘perfect’ to others, but I can come pretty close in my own expectations by simply being the best me I can be. The key is learning to let the rest – go.

And that key can be hard to turn.

We don’t have to give up on ourselves. We don’t have to kill ourselves trying to be something we’re not. But we CAN learn to live comfortable in the traits God has given us, while feeling free to not stress ourselves over, what He hasn’t. What we aren’t.

We are who we are. Not in the sense that we should never try to polish up that ‘we’ that we are. Because let’s face it, some of us are a little rough around the edges! But we are unique. On purpose.

If only we can prioritize what really matters in our lives, and filter out the weeds that pull us down on a daily basis. If only we can find life in the middle.

On balanced ground.


How much more freeing that would be.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sometimes You Have to Start Over




Are you willing to admit when you are wrong?

One of the greatest qualities in leaders, parents, and role models, is the ability to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

It sounds so easy, yet it is so very hard to do. Pride is not an easy thing to part with. (When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov. 11:2 NIV)

It would be easy to admit you messed up or made a mistake, if the only audience watching, was yourself. But when you have others looking at you and to you – it can be so hard to swallow that pride and admit you made a wrong decision. After all, that would mean you are human and flawed – right? And sometimes, unfortunately, we are much, much too good at acting like we have it all together.

The thing about admitting you are wrong is, that it is very freeing. It’s kind of like admitting you stole that cookie from the cookie jar. You know you did it, everyone else knows you did it, so it’s just easier to say it out loud. Admit it. OWN it. You will gain more respect that way.

If more people owned their errors and mistakes, I believe there would be less insecurity, depression, stress, and jealousy out there. People would be more authentic and know how to relate better to one another. A role model, a parent, or a leader IS human. They do have bad days and they do get sick. They let their emotions get the better of them sometimes, and they listen to bad counsel occasionally. It’s ok. It happens.

It’s life.

But to be an admirable person, you need to acknowledge and admit where you went wrong. Take it head on. Learn and grow from it. Let it make you stronger and better at what you do, while also reminding you that you are no more important than anyone else. No less human. It will help you be more relatable and it will keep you honest.

Mistakes are a great way to keep us humble. They show us that with one breath, everything can change. It’s fun to stand on the mountaintop and feel like you are holding all the power in your hands, but it’s a sobering perspective to be looking up from the ground, wiping the dirt from your face, because you fell and failed.


Get back up. Wipe the dirt off. Straighten your back. Grab a hand if one is held out to you, and start over. Start better. Start kinder. But start again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Have You Lost Your Joy?



Life. Oh, how life can give us a beating! We just feel bruised and battered sometimes, don’t we?

We can let our bruises turn into bitterness, if we’re not careful. That bitterness can morph into anger. That anger can isolate us. And that isolation can make us sad and lonely.

And before we know it, we’ve lost our joy. We’ve lost our smile, and that twinkle in our eyes that would appear when we got excited about something. When we were happy with our lives. With ourselves.

How can we know if we’ve lost our joy for living?

I think we KNOW. We feel it, deep down. We just get afraid to climb out of the cycle we’ve found ourselves in. And fear… fear is powerful.

It’s easy to live our lives learning to throw “no’s” around left and right. “No,” we won’t go here, “No,” we can’t do that. “No,” they won’t ask us. But what if we took the risk, and changed even just one “no,” to a “yes?” “Yes,” I will participate. “Yes,” I will open my home. “Yes,” I will smile.

Before we know it, the mood of our day starts to shift and change. Our attitude shifts and changes. And we start living again. We start LOVING again.

Joy is never found in the “alone.” Sure, maybe we all need quiet times for ourselves once in awhile. But those are temporary. Those bring joy in a different way. Joy in the form of reading a book, or watching a good movie. Joy in the uninterrupted slow pace of drinking a hot cup of coffee. Joy in “me” time for an hour or two. Or a day. But joy is not found in extended “alone.”  For we lose touch with people. With emotions. With relating and emphasizing with others – and having them relate and emphasize with us.

We all suffer bruises and scars in life. But true joy is found, when you keep going despite those very bruises.

We can be wounded forever, or we can be wounded once in awhile – learning from those wounds, and letting them make us stronger.

I only have one chance at this life-thing. I don’t want to waste it feeling bitter, angry, lonely, or fearful.

I want to feel joy. I want to know joy. I want to be joyful.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

We Shouldn't Let Our Low Feelings, Become More Than Low Moments

I saw a saying recently, that really stuck out to me. It said something to the effect of, “Don’t listen to those voices in your head, that speak to you when you’re feeling all alone.”

Or something like that.

And I loved it.

I loved it, because it’s true. We shouldn’t listen to those evil voices in our head that shout to us when we’re feeling down, blue, and lonely, or afraid. But, we do.

We give too much weight to those voices that tell us we are unlovable, unappreciated, not valued, and not beautiful.

Everyone has “down” days. Everyone feels low at times. But those are the times where we should pamper ourselves a bit, not kick ourselves while we’re feeling down!

The voices that speak to us in those moments, they are not our friend. They are not out to encourage us, to make us feel better, or to spur us on. No, they are simply there to laugh at us, point fingers, and sneer.

They aren’t welcomed.

So, when they come, (and they WILL come), we should look them in the face and let them know they are wrong. Maybe we need to re-think some things when we’re feeling better, but we shouldn’t let our low feelings become more than low moments.


It’s so important to remember that.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Just a Glimpse




Have you ever just wanted to catch a glimpse of something?  A glimpse of a deer in the woods…… an eagle in the sky….. that “someone” returning your gaze…….???

Whatever it is, it’s something we crave.  We don’t feel we are seeking much, usually. All we want is a little bit of hope.

Am I right?

I’ve felt that way so many times in my life. Sometimes I’ve been rewarded with “the glimpse,” other times, I have not. It’s hard to be patient. But I’ve learned that sometimes I can jump ahead of myself. I can catch a “glimpse” of something my heart isn’t quite ready for yet. If only, if only I had waited on God’s timing.

We are impatient people. Sometimes we can’t wait because of our excitement. But, more often than naught, it’s because we are self-focused, and self-motivated.

There will always be those things and moments in time where we want to catch JUST a glimpse of something or someone.  And I believe if we’re patient enough, that that patience will be rewarded with something more amazing than we could have hoped for. I believe, that if our heart is in the right place, and if we invite God into those moments with us – that HE will let those touches and glimpses be outright glorious and memorable.

Instead of “just a glimpse,” our hearts will be rewarded, our souls will be enlightened, and we will be changed – forever.  It will never be JUST a glimpse. It will be an unveiling, a peek into what abiding in Christ can really be like. Yes – even in seeking the glimpse of a deer or a moose. God has an amazing way of making those moments extraordinary – never just normal.

I love that about Him.

So, instead of simply craving magical moments – let us crave HIM in our moments. Let’s look for Him to personally touch us with every glimpse of hope that we week in our lives.


To bask in the glow of His love and attention – that’s a glimpse I want to savor.

Monday, February 29, 2016

How Can I Honor God Through This?

Unfortunate circumstances. Let’s be honest… they “suck” when they happen to us. It can be so easy to tell someone else, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”, when something bad happens to them.  But when it happens to us, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.

If we breathe, if we live, we WILL go through unfortunate and perplexing circumstances. We WILL have things happen to us that don’t make sense, and have us questioning, “Why?”

Oh, how I hate those times.

I recently experienced one of those circumstances. I tried to think on the “positive.” I tried to hope for a miracle, or some sort of solution… because when I thought about the situation too intensely, tears would come quickly to my eyes. What might have been gone forever – was irreplaceable. And it meant so much, not just to me, but to numerous people.

I kept asking myself, “How can I honor God through this?” I wanted to do right by Him. I wanted to hold myself accountable for how I responded.  If the “worst” I feared, truly came about – how was I going to handle it in a way that brought God glory? EVEN though I, myself, might be hurting?

That is a big question.

It’s so easy to act on emotion. It’s so easy to blame others. It’s so easy to let hurt turn into anger.

It’s so hard to “let it go.”

What’s done is done. I can’t change some things. They are unfair. They hurt.  But they happen. And in the process of them, I can acknowledge how they make me feel, while still holding myself with honor and integrity. I can still muster up grace.

I don’t ever want to be a doormat for others.  I don’t want to be a victim time, and time again. I do, however, want to have a strength from the things that happen to me, that allow me to rise above them. I want to represent my faith and my Lord WELL.

So, those unfortunate circumstances will come. I will never welcome them. But I will endure them, and hopefully, will be better off from them.


You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result. Genesis 50:20 (NASB)


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

She Loved "Well"




Something hurt my feelings the other day.

I struggled with the knowledge that things and efforts I do – are not coming across to someone else.  And it hurt.

It hurts to know that you aren’t admired – even if you want to be.

It hurts to know that you aren’t respected – even if you give respect.

It hurts to know that all the time and hours you have put into doing things – has gone unnoticed and unappreciated.

I certainly have a great deal of flaws. I can be lazy at times. I can procrastinate things I really don’t want to do. I can get very distracted when my emotions are tied up into someone else’s pain.

But I’ve always tried to be my best.

I have tried to keep a clean house. Be wise with my money. Be responsible.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve been learning in the past couple of years is that sometimes you have to let someone else’s perception of you go. Even when they think wrongly of you. And that is a tough lesson. A hard one, for sure.

I’m working on it.

I know I’m not perfect. I continue to strive to better myself. I continue to grow as a wife, a mother, and a woman. I probably will continue to emotionally grow until the day I die.  I will probably always fall short in someone’s book. But as I was thinking on this – I thought, maybe that would be ok, if but for one thing.

If despite my shortcomings, they still said, she “loved well.”

I want those who God has placed into my life to know I loved them with every inch of my being. And that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Loving IS a joy to me. Cleaning may not be a joy – but loving, sure is. It’s what I’m made to do.

So maybe my efforts on certain things don’t come through to others. And maybe that stings my heart. But maybe it has to be ok – if they still see the love in my heart. The care that I have for them.

That is my hope and desire. I want others to love being loved by me. And hopefully, that will gain their love for me in return. Even if I fall short in so many other areas – may I rise above in the one that mattered the most.


Loving.

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