Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Wonder...

Life goes by so quickly. So much happens in a year’s time.



I wonder – next year at this time, just what I will have gone through?


I wonder what challenges and obstacles I will have faced. Will I be stronger and wiser – or will I feel a little beaten down and need time to heal?


I wonder what new and exciting things that I never would have guessed would happen – did; all because my Lord wanted to bless me and love on me.


I wonder what loved ones I will have had to say goodbye to – whether from illness or accidents?


I wonder what dreams will have been realized in my life. Will I have started to dream new ones? Will I have said goodbye to old ones that are no longer important to me?


I wonder if I will use my time more wisely or still take it for granted?


How many lost opportunities will I regret letting pass me by?


How often will I look at my kids and know my time with them at home is that much shorter?


What will my health be like in a year? Better – or – worse?


Will I be more confident?


I wonder what new friends I will meet and wonder how I ever lived life without them?


What prayers will finally be answered? What new prayer requests will weigh heavily on my heart?

I wonder.


Life is so short. It is but a vapor. We don’t realize that on a day-to-day basis. We forget. We take it for granted. Unless we stop long enough to pause, think, ponder, and wonder….

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maybe We Weren't Meant To Remember

I heard a quote the other day that caused me to stop and ponder it. It was “Sometimes we weren’t meant to remember.”


I’d never really thought about that before. Being a writer and someone who is very sentimental; I love to remember as much about my life as I can. But maybe – just maybe – sometimes we weren’t meant to remember.


I think that sometimes maybe it’s better if we leave pain and hurt in the past where it belongs. Sometimes it’s better to let a friend, loved one, or relationship go.


We try to hold onto so much. Too much, maybe. Sometimes our lives would be better off without recalling certain things or people. Sometimes, maybe we’d heal quicker and be able to move on without holding onto so much; so tightly.


Our lives are but a vapor. We are here and before we know it, we are gone. The older I get, the more I see how quickly life flies by. It’s okay to forget. It’s okay to let some things go. In fact, maybe we need to let some things go.


Each moment of our lives can teach us something. Maybe one of the biggest lessons we can learn is how to let something sail away in the breeze never to be seen or felt again. Maybe we are better off, if we do.


Maybe.

Oh, how much of our bitter hearts and the darkness that falls over our eyes is only there because we hold on to something with such force and strength? We need to open our hands and let it go. Let it melt away and forget.


For sometimes forgetting is the best thing

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking the next two days to focus on my family and spend some time with them. One of my favorite things about this time of year is just being with those I love. Traditions are fun and great - and presents are cool - but it's people who mean the most.

Of course I do try to bring in the real reason we are celebrating and have it be a constant reminder in our home. We plan on watching "The Nativity" tonight to set the tone. 

How about you? How do you slow down to focus on what truly matters this time of year?




May you make special memories this Christmas, have lots of smiles, laughs, and hugs - and more moments filled with lavish love. For that is what HE gave us.

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

There Is So Much More

Do we model our faith for our children?


I read something that got me to thinking on this very subject. The author was talking about Christian teens today and how a lot of them believe that they are simply to do good things as a Christian; to be good. And the result? God will be good to them.


Wow. Is that what Christianity has been reduced to? Being good?


When I read the Bible – King David wasn’t always good. But he loved the Lord and desired to serve Him. Peter wasn’t always good either. There were countless men and women in the Bible who weren’t always “good.” And I just wonder how we’d respond if we were sifted as Job was. Would we say God was “good” to us?

I’m worried that our faith won’t translate well to the next generation because, in part, we haven’t lived it well. We haven’t exercised it or stretched it.


Faith is everything to me. Yet I know that a lot of times I talk to God from my heart and exercise my faith privately – from my heart. If I want my kids to see God working in my life (and theirs), I need to be more open about what He is doing and how He is working. I need to show them that I have faith in Him; even in the tough moments in life.


Sometimes answers from God take years. Sometimes things aren’t always “good.” Serving God is much deeper than that though. Much tougher. It takes day to day faith.

I want my kids to see what “living it out” really means. I want them to know that a Christian lives by faith and not by feeling or sight. It’s not a “tradition” but it’s a choice.

 
I pray I can be that kind of Godly example for them. So that they won’t reduce their faith to simply “being good” and they won’t minimize God to a deity who just helps them feel good and is good to them. For there is so much more.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In the Best Interest of Our Kids

What do you do when life is unfair to your kids?


Be sure to stop over at Kari Smalley Gibson's blog,  "My Crazy Adoption" today as I discuss this exact topic and share my thoughts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Staying True to Who We Are

My first car was a pickup truck. It was a Chevy S-10 pickup. Red and white. The rearview mirror came in the glove box and I had to constantly re-glue it to the window. There was no air – which was fine in Oregon, but when I moved to Las Vegas – that was not something I enjoyed. Still… I loved that truck.



That truck was “me.”


I actually had a little Honda for a few weeks before the Chevy. It was a stick-shift. I wanted an automatic and I wanted a truck. The car was a good deal, so I gave in and got it. It was cute and in great shape. But it was not what I wanted. It was not “me.” So it only lasted a couple of weeks before we re-sold it. Then, my dad found my Chevy. MY Chevy. I was so happy.


That’s the way it is with our lives. Sometimes we give in and do things that are just not “us.” Whether it’s peer pressure or lack of patience, we decide to just go with something. But it’s wrong. It’s not God’s will for us and it’s not who we are. It’s all wrong. Just like my car. The thing itself may not be bad. It may be something that is very worthwhile or attractive. But it wasn’t meant for us.


Only when we wait and stay true to who we are, will we find that we are happy. Only when we stick with the desires and dreams that God has placed in us – only then will we find true satisfaction as we live out the calling that He has placed deep within us.


It doesn’t matter if everyone else likes cute little cars. If God created us to love trucks – only trucks will do. And it doesn’t matter if everyone else loves to run or speak or wear certain kinds of clothes and live certain lifestyles. If God didn’t create us that way, none of those things will work out for us. They won’t satisfy and we won’t flourish in those roles, lives, or positions.


We can be proud to be who we are. I love that I’m not like everyone else. I love how I was made. I don’t want to blend into a crowd, but I want to stand out. For that is how I know He intended it to be….

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Lost Ornament

Today, I wanted to share a little video message from my stepson, Garrett.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Love Is a Gift

Gifts. Whether they are material gifts or gifts of our time, they are blessings and statements of how we value one another. When I make a meal for someone, whether it’s in my own home or because a new baby has been born or a loved one passed away; I do it out of love, caring, and a sense of empathy for what that individual is going through. I do it out of love.



When I give a little gift on someone’s birthday, Christmas, or just because… I do it out of love. I don’t expect anything in return. And yet sometimes I see that people have a hard time receiving gifts. They feel like they have to do something to reciprocate the gesture that was extended their way. They struggle with simply saying ‘thank you’ and feeling the love that was gifted their way with the gift. I’m not sure if it’s because they feel somehow insecure that they didn’t think to give a gift or if they don’t want to be a burden to the gift giver – but whatever it is, it hinders them from enjoying the true blessing of being loved on by someone else.


Love is a gift. In more ways than one. It is a gift of the heart but it’s also a gift in physical form too. Love pays for someone else’s meal from time to time. Love drops by a baked good “just because” they knew you liked it, or love sends a card in the mail. Love sometimes does simple things like offering to help with a project you’re working on, or helping take care of your kids. Love doesn’t expect a return on its investment. It simply loves because of the joy that it brings to everyone’s heart.


It feels good to love on each other. It feels good to make someone smile by the gifts of our heart or time. It feels good to take the burden off of someone else’s shoulders. After all, isn’t that what God has called us to do? To be there for each other and walk through life together? So why do we have this need to isolate ourselves and act like we don’t need anyone or anything? Why do we feel like if we accept anything from someone else that we will have to repay it? Why can’t we simply feel loved and be thankful for it?



Love is a gift. The next time it’s offered to you; recognize it for what it is. Recognize that someone is giving you the gift of love when they are offering to help out or when they give you a physical memento or even their time in your life. Don’t try to fight it – but be appreciate and thankful for it. Sure – somewhere down the line, you will have the opportunity to love on that someone back. But when that time comes, do it because you want to, not because you feel guilty or indebted in any way.


Love is a gift. A beautiful gift. Sometimes simple, sometimes lavish. But it is a gift just the same. And it never asks or expects anything in return. That’s what makes it so beautiful. Accept it. And feel the love that accompanied it, for everyone deserves to feel loved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is Satan Listening?

I have a new thought-process in my life when it comes to fears. I’ve taken a new direction; a new course.



After some observation and personal testing, I’ve decided to try and not ever speak my fears aloud. A very hard thing to do. It’s very easy for me to tell someone what I fear and have them give me words of comfort. It’s easy to seek out other people to squelch the fears that can so easily take over my heart and mind. But in doing so, I feel that I’m also giving Satan ammunition.


Sometimes, I think I’m telling Satan just where to push my buttons. I have no concrete proof of this, of course. But after a few trial runs, I’ve decided that I can give him unfair advantage over me. Satan cannot read my mind. He doesn’t know my hidden fears. But he does watch me very closely. He knows by my actions what haunts me. He also pays attention to what I verbally say aloud.


I know if I choose to pray my fears aloud to God that I’m trusting God with those weights in my life. I probably will still do that from time to time. But just as I believe in the power of saying things out loud and audibly for my Lord to hear, I also have come to believe that that same power can be given to Satan when he hears things from my heart too.


I just want to be careful.

I want to be careful not to give Satan anything more than he’s already found to use against me in my life. I don’t want to unnecessarily show him the door to my weaknesses. I don’t want to give any more power to my fears than they already hold for me.

That’s my new plan.


I don’t know how you feel about speaking out loud concerning your fears, but you might give thought to which way the wind could blow once you share things like that. It might be good to sometimes keep them in a safe spot emotionally and spiritually where only you and the Lord can access them.


Just a thought. One that I am going to try to exercise more often because I’m tired of giving Satan free information into my heart and mind. I’m tired of letting him know just what and where to hurt me the most. He’s going to have to start digging a little deeper and harder to gain access to my fears. Because I’m fighting back.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Post Is For My Daughter

So I hear that when my daughter is done with her assignments at school, that she spends time with her friends looking at the photos I post on my blog. She told me one morning, “Mom – can you post some more pictures?” Then she preceded to complain that all the pictures I had of her on here were weird, dorky, or unflattering. And that they went along with articles about “talking to yourself, being alone” and other such unflattering posts.



Aww – sweetheart – I’m smiling.

First of all, I’m honored that you’d spend your spare time reading my blog! Secondly, anyone who
KNOWS you knows you’ve got the whole package. But just to clarify to those who don’t know my oldest personally – let me tell you – she ROCKS! She is one of my best friends. So vivacious, charming, and she brings such joy to my life. She “gets” it. Ya know? Those things in life that you can’t explain, you just have to feel them? She just “gets it.”

So for today, I want her to know how blessed I am to have her in my life. I’m so thankful for each moment I get to spend with her. I truly like her. And I love her even more. She is a beauty – inside and out. I know God has great plans for her life.



Paprika – here are some moments that I cherish of you. Pictures that show your style, flair, sensitivity, and charm. Always use those gifts for the Lord – for with great power (and beauty) comes great responsibility. Everything else is fleeting and will only satisfy temporarily – but God will satisfy always.

Use your life wisely. For it will go far too quickly.


I love you dearly.


MAMA


Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm Not Looking

I’m not a very elaborate decorator. Anything good that I come up with has usually been seen somewhere else and I duplicate it. I wish I had natural talent – but I have to work hard at it.

Christmas is the time of year that people’s houses can look like catalogues. I see people post pictures online of their elegant mantles, their color-coordinated trees and their spot-perfect cookies.


And I sigh.

I’m lucky if our tree doesn’t have a glob of ornaments smack dab in front where everyone tried to place theirs. And my mantle is usually simple – with stockings that took me 16 years to needlepoint and finish for each one of us.


My cookies and chocolates aren’t magazine perfect – but they are made with love and laughter by my girls and I. Making goodies is one of their favorite traditions of the season.


I don’t have huge battery-operated talking Santas or glowing deer. But I do have handmade knickknacks that my kids lovingly made for me at school.


So I’ve decided. My way brings the happiness I need at this time of year. My way makes me smile and it brings contentment to my heart for it’s not elaborate – but it’s full of love and memories.


This year, I’m not looking. I’m not looking at those photos of grandiose trees and immaculate fireplaces. I bet they are beautiful. And someday, I might have something close. But for today – I have a family and mementos radiating love, life, and laughter.


And I think it’s what I prefer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Does God Think of Me?

What does God think of me?



I saw that question posted on a blog and it got me to really thinking for I had never really thought about it before. I’ve always heard how much God loves me, He delights in me, takes great pleasure in me and so on and so on. But what does He really think of me?


How does He view me, as a person?


As parents, we often label our children with attributes and style characteristics when we describe them to others. We say things like, “She has a heart of gold,” “ he’s my outdoor child,” “he’s strong willed (or stubborn),” “she’s clingy,” and “she’s a go-getter.” Those are only the beginning of how we describe our children to others!


So how would God describe me? How does He see me? Does He call me His “adventurous one,” His “needy child,” His child who “always tries so hard,” or the “one who always has to learn things the hard way?” Does He know He can give me a lot to handle on His behalf because I will be responsible with it or does He know I’m going to need extra disciplining or coddling and reassurance?


Those thoughts really stop me in my tracks. For I want my Lord to find favor with me. I don’t want Him to have to use extra patience with me (although sometimes I think I need extra patience with myself!) I want Him to see improvement in my life. To look back and see a starting point and find that I’m growing, learning, and improving. I want Him to find me a good listener, a hard worker, and someone who has a loving and obedient heart.

One of my greatest desires is that when I get to heaven, God will look at me and smile – open His arms wide so I can run into them and say “Well done, Dionna. Well done, my good and faithful servant. I am SO proud of you.” It brings tears to my eyes to think about it!

Yet, I feel I have so far to go. So many times I disappoint myself. So many times I stumble and fall. So many missed opportunities.


Still…. There is today. And there is tomorrow. And I can improve. I can change. I can make a difference and be the difference. I can still be that person I desire to be. For myself and for Him. My heavenly Father. Because it matters very much to me what He thinks of me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Test

Have you ever left something out in your house just to see how long it would take someone to pick it up? I have. I call it “the test.” It usually doesn’t work. But I’ve tried on many occasions to leave out those dirty socks on the living room floor, the empty glass on the counter, or the trash on the floor. I’ve been curious to see how long it would take someone to deal with it. But they usually just walk over it or fail to see it in the first place. They hope that if they ignore it long enough, that I’ll take care of it.


I was thinking about my little tests at home and wondered if God has a test that He uses on us. Do you think He does?

I wonder if He “tests” me to see how long it will take me to deal with a situation or if I will take care of something. And if He does, I wonder how often I walk over or around it or fail to see it altogether? I wonder how often I ignore it, hoping that He’ll take care of it for me?

Maybe this explains why we have to learn the same lessons over and over again. Maybe this is why we seem to have certain things happen continually to us in life. We just don’t take care of them the first time!

I hope that I’ll be more aware the next time God might see fit to “test” me. I hope that I’ll see what it is that He’s waiting for me to pay attention to. And I hope that I take care of it in the right way so that He doesn’t have to give me the same test over and over again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hot And Cold

Sometimes it seems I’m eternally meant to live in situations I don’t feel I was hard-wired for.



I hate cold weather yet live in a state that has very cold winters with snow and ice.

I dream of living life at a methodical pace yet it seems to often tag me and drag me along behind it!

 
I long to have a problem that someone has dealt with before but often my situations are “different” and “unique.”


Do you every feel that way? Like you’re the only one or rather, that you are doomed to be in whatever-state-you’re-in for forever? It seems like when you want hot, God gives you cold. When you want wet, He dishes out dry and when you pine for slow – He gives you fast. Life is so ironic that way.


Something has begun to calm my heart about these types of situations. It’s the fact that I’m not “stuck” in them – but rather – I’m intentionally placed in them.


What if….what if God places each one of us in the opposite place that we’d choose on purpose? What if we hate wind and God places wind in our town all of the time? What if we’d rather live life as a loner or a hermit and He’s constantly putting people in our path?


Why would He do such a thing?

Because He loves us.

I think our God is a God who loves us too much to let us sit in a state of perpetual bliss so much so that we’d never need Him. After all, if we had that perfectly warm weather every day of our lives – at some point, we’d forget to talk to Him about it – forget to praise Him for it. And if we lived that slower life that we dream of, then at some point we’d forget how to get back in the race for Him when He called us to!


I don’t think God intends on frustrating us. Or then, maybe He does. Maybe He wants to frustrate us into action. Maybe He wants to refine us so that we can be thankful in “all” circumstances instead of merely the ones we prefer. Maybe He loves us so much that He wants us to learn to love what we find unlovely – whether that is people or weather. Maybe He puts the same problem in our path over and over again because we’ve yet to discover that there is joy in it. Some of us have a hard time finding joy in those things we hate, don’t we? But there IS joy. There IS joy in the rain – I’ve experienced it. And there IS joy in a storm. There IS joy in the busyness and “aliveness” of life! We just need to be open to finding it.


I don’t know if I’ll ever love cold weather (let alone “like” it.) But I do know that God has me in it for a reason. And I do know that He loves me. So if the only thing the cold weather does for me is cause me to seek and ask of God…then for that I can be thankful.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Legacy of the Kitchen

The kitchen. The smells and memories of a kitchen stay with us for a lifetime. We so often are pulled back to a certain occasion or moment, by the food cooked inside of a kitchen. It evokes special feelings and emotions inside of us…simply by a smell or a taste.


That fascinates me.



I love bottled coke. Not just because it’s fun and cool to drink out of (although that is a huge part), but because it brings fond memories of my childhood. I remember drinking out of a bottle at dinnertime or when I’d visit my dad at his office. It brings a smile to my face and love to my heart.


I yearn for certain foods at certain times. Pizza seems like it’s almost mandatory after a full day of working in the yard just like leftover turkey sandwiches are a must for dinner after a big Thanksgiving lunch. It’s how I was raised.


I recall certain foods that I’ve never seemed to be able to recreate to the same perfection as my mom did. She’d cook chili, fritos, and cheese on a cookie sheet and it was so delicious. Or she’d melt cheese in a corn tortilla and roll it up for us as a before-dinner snack. My grandma made sopapillas. I crave these sometimes.


I just love how our memories are tied up in food. It’s a way of solidifying a moment in time by using our senses. Any time we meet up with a friend, it’s usually over food. Celebrations are over food and oftentimes grieving brings in with it…food.


What kitchen smells do you savor from your childhood? What dish do you crave that you’ve never been able to have again; for it’s lost somewhere in the memory of your past? What traditions do you carry on, not because they are chosen necessarily – but because they are comfortable reminders of a way of growing up?


The next time you’re in your kitchen, think about what legacies you are leaving your children. Embrace the dishes they want you to make for them and enjoy the fact that you are stamping a part of their memory forever…with the smell, taste, and enjoyment…of food.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

He's So Good To Me

My heart was overwhelmed. It was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Happy tears.



God had given me several blessings in the span of a week. One was a long-held prayer request. The other, an unexpected gift of love. Both came at a time when I was starting to feel silence from my beloved Lord.


I told God ‘thank you.’ Many times. I told someone else how I owed the praise and blessing to the Lord. And then in a moment of solitude and quiet – I got down on my face, spread out my arms, and let my emotions speak for me as I tried to convey to the Lord how thankful I was for His grace, His compassion, and His kindness.


I know He answers my requests so many times. Oftentimes, I can utter a “cool” or a “whew!” out loud and move on with my day. But not this time. This time, I wanted to let God know that what He’d done for me was no small thing in my heart. I was feeling it deeply – to the core of my heart and soul.


And it felt good.


Sometimes the reward that seems out of reach for so long tastes that much sweeter when it comes. All the years, the tears, the wondering…they are worth it all when the investment of the heart finally has a pay-off. There is nothing like it. God truly shows His glory and His goodness in those moments. I feel love for Him like no other time and I feel loved BY Him like no other time.


I don’t want to forget to thank my Lord for all He does for me. The big, the little – all of it. I owe Him so much. He is so good to me.

I used to sing this song as a child in Sunday School…

My God is so great,
So strong and so mighty

There’s nothing my God cannot do.

Sometimes God sweeps into my life and shows me His strength. He shows me how mighty He is. Sometimes He simply sweeps me off my feet with His lavish goodness and love for me. But I do know there is NOTHING my God cannot do.

It may take getting down on the floor on your face and acknowledging that fact from time to time. With a heart that is overwhelmed

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Something To Ponder

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart….” Luke 2:19



When I read my Bible or when I sit in church service and hear God speaking personally to my heart…. I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed how easy it is to leave that moment in time and continue on with my day – my life. It’s like, “Wow, that was good – now it’s time to get on with my agenda!”

But when I take the time to truly let something God is saying to me, soak into my heart and soul – those are the times where I truly grow.


The key is in taking the time to ponder over what has been revealed to us. Whether it’s a Bible verse that is relevant, a Bible Study lesson that strikes a chord, or a sermon that is conveniently aimed at what we are feeling or experiencing; we need to take the time to ponder those lessons and think about why it is that God wants to share them with us.


If I listen, but don’t absorb – I don’t gain much.


If I ponder, absorb, and let God’s messages to me permeate my life – I gain a lot.


It doesn’t matter how many Bible Studies we go to or how often we attend church. It doesn’t matter how many verses we know if they don’t go from our head to our heart and we have the spirit to apply them. Going through actions isn’t enough. We need to ponder and invest our hearts and minds into truly hearing what God wants to tell us.


I have been guilty of going through the motions so many times. Putting in the time, getting the job done and then moving on to what I really want to do without truly absorbing. The times I have pondered on something, are the times that I’ve really seen God work in my heart and life. He’s moved me.


I want God to work in my life. I want Him to use me. Move me. Thrill me. Speak to me. In order for that to happen, I need to take a little extra time for Him. To ponder what He’s telling me so that I won’t miss something really big. His Words really are treasures. Just waiting to shine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Being Called "Mom"

One of the most beautiful sounds to my ears is hearing my name called. But not my given name – my “parenting” name.


“Mama.” And “Mom.”

My oldest daughter calls me “mama.” Always has. She spells it when writing a note to me as “mamma.” And I love it. My youngest calls me just “mom.”



My ears never grow tired of hearing those words. They are like salve to a wound as soon as I hear them. I know they are not always said in adoration. Sometimes they are uttered in frustration as in ….”Moooooommmmm!” Or more recently, as in “Moth-er!” My oldest decided to use that term with me when she wasn’t happy. HA HA

But I still love them.

There is something so powerful – so magical – so gripping in the words. It’s as if I’m needed. I’m loved. I’m claimed.


Even if spoken in a casual statement, my heart is immediately tendered to my child. They look to me for something. They are seeking me out, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally.


“Mama.” And “mom.”


I love those names.

I think I will be 90 years old and still smile and feel my heart flutter when I am spoken of as a mother. (And maybe at age 90, as a grandmother too!)


I accept the responsibility that comes with being a parent, and I welcome it. I embrace it.


For it has changed me forever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Does Grumbling Accomplish?

There is so much that we aren’t pleased with in life. Sometimes the issues that bother us are big ones and other times, not so much. It takes some time and focus to sort out which issues need to be prioritized in our lives and how we should handle them.


I have looked back on my own life and seen many times where maybe I could have handled a situation a little bit differently. Maybe something resolved itself on its own in time or maybe the way something went down was in my best interest in the long run even if it wasn’t fun or comfortable during the duration of it. I do know, however, that I hate looking back on the times when I felt like I was simply a “whiner” or a “complainer.”

Those are two words that I don’t like associated with my character.

I’ve learned through some trial and error in my life that grumbling usually doesn’t accomplish much. If I am proactive and set a course of action to remedy something or be part of a solution – that is much better use of my time and my discontent. But if I simply sit at home or with others and utter my grievances about something; that doesn’t do anyone any good. It only creates an atmosphere of division.


I am not going to like everything. I am going to disagree (probably quite often) with how things are handled. I may be frustrated and confused. But there is a difference in how I choose to handle those issues that either help me rise above it, find a purpose in it, or come to peace with it. If I feel something is really wrong or I see injustice being done; I certainly would hope that I didn’t sit back and bite my tongue. But this is where positive action comes into play and can change a situation for the good of a lot of people instead of ranting about it from the sidelines.


I won’t lie to you. It’s hard not to grumble and complain. It’s hard to not vent when something really gets under your skin to ruffle your feathers. But the times that I have chosen to handle it in what I feel is the “right” way – by going to God in prayer or simply discussing the matter with my husband so that I can get it out of my system – then I can pull myself together better. Oftentimes, God will even show me very quickly how my attitude can reveal His greater plan through the issue.

Everyone has choices in life. When it comes to those grievances that we deal with; we can either grumble or choose to find purpose in them.  I know that for me, I long to get better at laying aside my complaining heart and tongue and seek out what it is that God wants from me in the middle of these times and situations. It makes the suffering easier and the trial seem less burdensome when I do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Something Gets Left Behind

Mark 8:34


Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."



I’m learning more and more what God meant when He said “he must deny himself…and follow me.”


I have a heart that wants to serve the Lord. I want to be used by Him. I want to impact lives for Him and I explicitly feel like I was called by Him into ministry. Yet in that desire and quest to do “great” things for the Lord, I think we sometimes forget that there is a price…a cost.

When God said “he must deny himself;” I’m finding out more and more what that means - if you really want to obey His call when you feel Him speaking and bidding to you in life. You see, sometimes denying ourselves means relationships and friendships must take a backseat. Sometimes it means we will forever be feeling like we need to catch up on housework because we’re always doing that “thing” that God has called us to. Sometimes it means that we will be low on sleep for a long duration of time.


Taking up our cross and truly following God often means that something gets left behind.


People often sound really encouraging if they hear you want to be a missionary or you feel that God is telling you to do this or that. But then when you embark on that road and they see that they are part of the price/the cost – they don’t like it so much.


I wonder if Mother Teresa’s family complained that she gave more to the world than she gave to them? I wonder if they felt left out; neglected? I wonder if she felt guilty or longed for things that she gave up in her quest to love, reach out, and encourage? Did she ever think about quitting?


Denying ourselves is the true test in life. It’s not an easy thing to do. Maybe we can do it for a time but then we grow weary or long for the comforts of life we are used to. It is the rare person who can truly deny Himself always without looking back. Yet, what a treasure they will find and they will BE if they can master that task!


I’m learning to deny myself in certain areas. I’m learning that in order to follow God in certain areas of life, I have to let some things come second. Some things will be left undone. Some areas I will forever feel like I’m trying to bring them “up to speed.” But I’m seeing more and more how this is the price and cost of following God when He calls. And my heart is learning to grow at peace with it – slowly – step by step. Because I want to be His servant and I want to work for Him. Him and Him alone.


Something HAS to get left behind if I’m to listen and obey. If I’m to “go.”

It’s just the cost of the call.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Talk To Myself

I’m not sure when it started. One day I just noticed that while I was shopping a department store, I was talking to myself. I really have to laugh at myself, though. I find it kind of funny how I can grumble to myself about a price on something or comment about someone’s driving as I’m heading to my car in the parking lot.


I tell ya. I think I’ll blame it on motherhood. You know. You start talking to your babies when you take them to the store with you. I just think that somewhere along the way, I never stopped. And now I have to fight the urge to speak out loud when no one’s shopping with me – lest I look like a weirdo.

Oh yah. And it’s tumbling into other areas of my life too. Now, I’m talking back at the TV.


Please tell me I’m not weird or abnormal. Tell me that you do it too! .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Life Shaping Words

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”



Words. They do change and impact our lives. We can chant all we want to – but the words that are directed at us are sometimes life changing and life – shaping.


Do you remember words that changed the course of your life or words spoken that caused you to have a significant shift in how you viewed yourself? There are so many conversations we have over the course of a lifetime. What is it, about certain ones that just stick with us? A phrase possibly or even just a few words that stand out in our memory over time and cause us to make a change?


Sometimes my daughter will comment about something I’m wearing which will cause me to never dress that particular way again. I look at that as a positive since I never want to look dorky! HA HA But there have also been words spoken that aren’t positive. Or words that I maybe even watch in a movie. Profound words. They penetrate my heart and instead of simply thinking, “That’s good.” They are strong enough to motivate a change.


What words have changed your life? Were they good words or bad ones? Who or what was the source? You know, sometimes we give power to words that we shouldn’t. The giver of those words intended to harm us all along and we never should have digested what was said; but instead, consider the source. And sometimes we sidestep words that we should have given more credence to because they were aimed to help and strengthen our lives. Whatever the situation or occasion – words are powerful.


What we say, can’t be taken back. No matter how much we apologize. We need to be so careful. What we say to ourselves however, can be taken back and in fact, changed. We need to make sure that we don’t live in a cycle of battering ourselves.

Words live on even when we don’t. Sometimes they continue to give power to those who hear them over and over again. Sometimes, the words we replay in our heads should have long since been forgotten.


Choose wisely which words you let impact and shape your life. Choose wisely, which words you use to shape someone else’s.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Things Have to Remain Just Between Me and God

There is a common trap that writers and bloggers fall into. It’s the trap of viewing everything in life as a potential article “piece.” Our minds tend to always be on the lookout for that next great “grabbing” column, article, book, or blog post. It’s very hard not to view anything that happens to you in the context of written word. It just is.

In a way, I love that. I love that inspiration is possibly around every corner. But on the other hand, God has shown me something personally that I’ve had to apply a few times.


Some things just need to stay unknown to the world. Some things just need to remain between us and God.

My life is very open. I choose to have it that way because of the burden and passion I carry with me to impact and encourage others. It’s a hurting world. There are so many people who need to hear they are not alone. They need a little kick-start at times; at others – a hug through words from a stranger who can understand and empathize.


Yet there have been a few occasions when something profound or deep-to-my heart has happened, and I’ve been ready to pen it down lest I forget. On these occasions, I’ve sensed God speak to my heart. I’ve sensed Him tell me to let them go. To leave them in the moment. To keep them personal – between Him – and – me.


There are just some things the world doesn’t need to know. There has to be something left for myself sometimes. Something that is so personal, so touching or impactful on my heart and life; that I just let it drape over me and let it remain anonymous to those who aren’t in the “know.” I have to do this for my own walk and relationship with God because if I threw absolutely everything down onto paper or churned it out on my computer, then I’d tread near the line of using God. I’d be using personal things for professional gain or notoriety. And I never want to do that.

For me, I just have to be reminded by Him from time to time that it’s okay to let some things slip away in the recesses of my mind. It’s okay to not shout out what happened to the world or repeat what priceless truth and lesson He’s taught me. Because it was just for ME. Me. Not everyone else.


As a writer, that’s a hard lesson to learn. But my God is so good at reminding me and He gives me plenty of other material to use to minister to others in His name.


I never want to use my Lord just to get a great article. I never want to use my relationship with Him to garner attention or grow fans. In order for me to be real and authentic, I have to let Him tell me to sometimes let something good fade away without it being said. For it was a personal gift to me – not the world.


It’s been good for me on the occasions I’ve done that. And I pray there will be more moments where my God tells me to cherish the moment and then let it go. For it keeps me humble and it keeps me focused on what I want my life and ministry to truly be about. My relationship with Him.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hidden Gems

The ordinary. Mundane. Same-o-same-o. Common. Normal.

Those don’t even seem like exciting words when I type them out. I know they don’t sound exciting when they are spoken and people don’t seem to enjoy them, either. Why, I wonder?

There are some pretty ordinary things in life that I treasure.


I treasure the “ordinariness” of my kids coming home from school. I treasure the ordinary fact that the sun comes out (most days) or the ordinary time my family spends eating dinner together at night.

I love having a “normal” day after a week of hectic ones. I love the “normalness” of having a husband and knowing that he will take care of certain things for me.

I like the common fact that I can check email each day or get in my car and drive myself somewhere. I like that.

There are so many things that are ordinary, normal, and common. We seem to look at them as though they are plain and boring. But I think we are missing hidden gems in our lives. I think it’s the ordinary and common things that often-times become the most sentimental and special.

The repetition of going to Sunday school as a child brings with it special memories. The common smell of your father’s cologne stirs up great emotion and the normal laughter that an aunt or uncle lends to a funny story or joke is suddenly missed when they are no longer there to give it. Hidden gems.


The ordinary, common, and yes, “plain” are often those very things that impact us without us really realizing it at the time. They mold and shape us – often propelling us or directing us in life.


We overlook those things until sometimes it’s too late. Until we miss that common homemade meal by grandma, or that familiar checker who always smiled at us at the grocery store. It is then, that we realize we had something special and we never even realized it.


If we could all take but a minute each day to really look around and take in our lives – I think more of us would see they are riddled with priceless jewels. Gems that God has given us each and every day.


Ask someone who has cancer if they miss “normal.” Ask someone who has lost a loved one in a war if they don’t crave “common” again. Ask. Find the richness that has been given to you in your own life, before you miss it forever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Will Keep Fighting

Doubts. Temptations. Messing up. Any one of these things can make you feel like a failure as a Christian believer. They can pull you away from God and isolate you from where you need to be the most…at church and with other believers. We are so often made to feel that church is only for “perfect” Christians; but we are wrong.




The world and Satan have waged a war on Christians. They want us to fail. They want us to beat ourselves up for being hypocritical (another whole article in and of itself.) Satan will do anything to get us to doubt the truth and authenticity of what we believe about God and who He is.



I, however, have made a vow. I will fight as long as there is breath in me to stay true to my beliefs. I will keep fighting against temptation, and against my doubts. I will continue to fight to do the right thing, to hold true to my morals, and to grow in the Lord. Because I don’t trust my own human heart at times, and I made the concrete choice when I was very young to believe in God. So, believe Him I will – no matter who is against me or how alone I may feel at times.



I think sometimes people think that to be a Christian; it means all of your problems will go away. They can get confused and frustrated when Satan only attacks all the harder. I think sometimes people don’t dig their roots deep enough into the Lord or His Word. So when the tide comes in full of temptations, doubts, and accusers – they are easily swept away. I don’t want to be one of those people. I realize that to be a follower of Christ means that I have to be a warrior at times. I have to put on my shield and carry my sword and I have to fight on His behalf. I have to fight for what I believe is right. For I am His representative. I have taken up His cause.



I don’t read my Bible as much as I should. I don’t have the answer sometimes to give people to their searching questions about God. I sometimes neglect prayer and turn to God later rather than sooner. But I will keep fighting. I will keep fighting to read my Bible more often. I will keep fighting to have the knowledge to answer people’s questions and I will keep fighting to show people that my faith is a personal relationship – not a religion.



I will keep fighting because God means everything to me. I love Him. And that’s what you do for someone you love. When you mess up, you dust off and you get back at it. You don’t give up. You keep fighting for that relationship. So that’s what I intend on doing. Forever.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I....

I am: thankful


I know: God loves me

I want: to make my life matter

I have: a fantastic family (they are my best friends!)

I wish: I could make steadier $ with my writing

I hate: evil

I miss: loved ones who don’t live near me

I fear: too much

I feel: joy

I hear: daughter playing the wii in the background
I smell: the warmth of my space heater

I crave: impacting someone else’s life in a positive way



I search: for meaning in the “hard stuff” of life

I regret: not embracing my 20’s more

I love: deeply.

I care: about people’s feelings.

I always: want to better myself.

I believe: that I have a special calling on my life.

I dance: for fun.

I sing: because my heart sometimes knows no other way to express what it is feeling.

I don’t always: keep up with people the way I’d like to.

I truly desire: to be authentic no matter who I’m with or where I’m at.

I like: hanging out with my family, dark chocolate, French fries, a good salad, lunch with girlfriends, travelling

I write: to serve God and let Him use my life through words as He sees fit


I lose: when I can’t forgive.

I win: when I let God move me to act on His behalf instead of my own



I try: to eat healthier but am forever pulled in the other direction
I never: lie. (At least I try not to)

I am grateful: for grace. And mercy.

I listen: to people I really trust.

I am scared: of lots of things. But I’m trying not to give them a voice in my life anymore.

I need: love and acceptance.

I am happy that: I am where I am today.

I tag: anyone who would like to play

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maybe That's What He Wanted

There is bad news and discouragement everywhere. The economy in and of itself is putting a lot of stress and pressure on our shoulders. Add to that the moral shape of our country, disasters, evil…well – it would be very easy to feel hopeless.

I’m so glad I don’t feel hopeless.

I’ve been noticing something lately. Call it a trend, if you want. But I’ve been noticing the “good” in life. I’ve been noticing people standing up. People are saying “no more.” Whether it’s a father that fights for his child who is being bullied or kids who are fighting immorality – people are starting to speak up.


And I can’t help but think that maybe that’s what God wanted. Maybe He needed to push us to see ourselves in an unflattering light. Maybe He needed to sift us so much so that we’d finally realize we can’t rely on anyone else but ourselves to do the right thing. That it’s up to US to pray, to speak up, to stand, and to fight for what is good, moral, and right. Could it be? Could it be that we are finally seeing that?


It’s never easy to go against the grain. There will always be someone to criticize, condemn, mock, sue….but people are starting to do it anyways. And I’m proud of them. I’m proud of every one of us who says “enough.” People who say, “I won’t stand for this injustice anymore. This is my country. My family. My life. I will fight for what is right at all costs.”


Maybe we got to a point where we were so used to not fighting for anything anymore. But a shift is happening. In spurts. In doses. I can see it. I can find it. Can you?

 
Maybe our beginning demise is really a gift from God. A gift that gives us the motivation and desire to stand up for what we believe in. A hidden diamond in the rough of life.

 
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrating the Joy of Answered Prayer

What did you do the last time God answered a prayer of yours?



My family had a specific prayer request in 2010. It was something that weighed heavily on our hearts and a request that we brought to the Lord repeatedly.


As is with our God, He brought about an answer in His timing and in His way. It was unexpected; but delightful. The hope and peace that it brought to our hearts was like fresh air.


We were so excited. All of us.


So what did we do? We had a little party.

We cracked open the sparkling cider and I made a toast. It was simple. We raised our glasses in the air and I said, “Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers.” It was more than a “thank you” for me. I wanted my kids to understand that this wasn’t just a “good” thing that happened – it was a “GOD” thing that happened! I wanted them to “get it.”


Then, we all danced around the kitchen. It felt kind of like a celebratory Indian dance. Some of us whooped, others yee-hawed. We twirled and had fun getting a little groovy as we laughed together. It happened in about all of 3-4 minutes. It was fun. It was meaningful and it was memorable.


It was special.


To someone else, our “to do” may have seemed a little fussy or overdone. But to us… we each knew the price paid within that year of requesting for God to intervene. We each knew how it could have turned out so differently. And we were beyond thankful. We were overjoyed.


Sometimes we forget to celebrate our joy. We move on far too quickly to the next thing that bothers us or needs us to bend on knee before the Lord. What if we each took the time to dance, sing, and celebrate the victories that God brings us in life?


I don’t think I will ever forget our little celebration and I praise God for choosing to act on our behalf. He deserved every little bit of our attention that night…. And more than we even chose to give Him.


How great is our God!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Honor God In All You Do

“Honor God in all you do.”

Those are the words I see when I open up my cell phone. I put them there after hearing that phrase somewhere. I don’t recall where, but it was a phrase I wanted to ingrain into my heart.


It’s a good reminder of the kind of person I want to be. It’s a good reminder of what I want my priorities to be when I deal with things in life.

When I’m mad about something… I want to honor God in the middle of that anger.

When my feelings have been hurt… I want to honor God as I deal with that hurt.


When God gives me responsibility or power… I want to honor God in that elevated position of authority.


As I raise my children and as a wife… I want to honor God as I carry out those roles.


Whatever it is that I run across in life – I want to be honorable, act honorable, and live honorably.

It says so much.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Love My Man

I love my man. He’s not perfect, but he’s all mine.

 
I think about how imperfect I am as his wife and how thankful I am that he loves me. He still loves me after all these years. I remember when we were dating and upon my first discovery that he loved me. I’d be going about my day and suddenly I’d think – “Someone loves me. HE loves me! He really loves me!” And a huge smile would spread across my face. It made me feel so good.


And it still does.

 
Sometimes my husband will tenderly touch my face at night. I’m barely awake…but I still know. I love it when he does that. I feel so cherished. So loved.

 
My man is about as bright as they come. Yet he still can’t seem to figure me out. That amuses me and perplexes me at the same time.

 
My man doesn’t trust easily. It takes him weighing someone heavily in his heart and mind (and a good deal of time observing them in life) before he will trust them with the deeper thoughts of his heart. So I treasure the fact that he talks to me. Sometimes he talks a lot. Long. In-depth. He trusts me. He asks for my opinion. Mine of all things! (He’s the bright one!)


Some days we feel “off.” Some days we feel “in-sync.” I feel like I was so na├»ve when I got married. There was so much more I needed to know. I should have known. And here we are. We’ve gone through some tough battles together. There were moments where it felt like we were taking on the world alone…he – and – I. And we made it. We survived each one.



 
We see life so differently. He’s ready to run through it and see it all in a day, and me well, I’m more likely to slowly walk, touch, soak, and ponder it.

 
But I love what we have.


I love my man.

I love “us.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simply For The Enjoyment of It


Books are timeless, aren’t they? I know that a lot of readership is going to “Kindles” these days but that kind of makes me sad. I love the look of books stacked on my shelves. I love looking at a cover or flipping pages of a children’s book.

What were some of your favorite books as a child? I loved “Country Mouse, City Mouse,” “Let’s Find Charlie,” and “the Gingerbread Man.” I think those were my 3 favorite books in addition to a little Bible story book that a beloved gentleman in my church gave me.


I just can’t fathom reading stories out of a Kindle to my child unless we were somewhere other than home. I can still close my eyes and see the pictures on the pages of my favorite tales. However, I DO think Kindles are genius ideas for traveling. Books take up a lot of room in a suitcase or carryon bag and they are heavy. Kindles are great for that! (Of course, I think they are since I personally do not own one… yet!)


Technology is creeping us further and further away from the tender and yet simple things we enjoyed when we were young. I think some advancements are brilliant and others make me pout and long for “yesteryear.” But can’t we embrace both? Can’t we use technology when it’s convenient and still rely on paper, pen, and yes…hardcopy newspapers and books simply for the enjoyment of it?


I say, yes! We can – and more importantly – we should.


Convenience isn’t everything. Some things benefit us the most in life by simply being enjoyed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keep The Faith

The pressure to conform– c’mon, you feel it too, don’t you? I’m not just talking about the pressures of trends and society. I’m talking about the pressures of those we live among and walk among. It’s hard to be different.

It’s especially hard to stand out when you feel that no one understands why you are the way you are – why you do what you do. But what if you feel two pressures in your life? One pressure from the “others” and one pressure from God? Who do you listen to?

God’s callings on our lives don’t always make sense. They aren’t always easy and comfortable, and most certainly they aren’t always accepted by those we love and live among. In fact, it can make others very uncomfortable.

Read the rest of my column over at Hope Magazine -
 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

He CAN

“I can’t do this.”

You’ve felt that way. I’ve felt that way. We have those times where our heart feels so overwhelmed and we feel so underprepared or untalented. And we say to others, God, or just ourselves… “I can’t do this.”


 
And we’re right. We can’t. But HE can.

There are so many things I never could have done in my own strength. So many excuses I’ve come up with and reasons why I could never do something. But I see that when I say that, I’m shortchanging God. I’m not exercising the greatest power and privilege He’s given me – my faith. I’m basically telling God that I don’t believe Him when He says that “His strength is perfect in my weakness” or that with Him “all things are possible.” Those are great verses and I know them by heart, but when I tell God that “I can’t” – what I’m really saying is that HE can’t.

And I’m wrong. Because He CAN.


God CAN get me through that illness.


God CAN get me through that painful divorce or break-up.

He CAN help me as I grieve the loss of a child or a dear loved one.

God CAN help me recover some financial security in love. He CAN bring me out of an unsafe or abusive situation, He CAN restore my mental health. HE CAN. I just need to believe.


We say we believe in God but when it comes to the tangible things that we have to face in life, we tend to panic, despair, or simply give up without giving them over to God. Without giving Him a chance to bless us and restore us! Oh what we are missing out on!


Give God a chance. Give your faith a chance to truly work in your life. He wants to show up and He wants to show you how deeply He loves you. I know sometimes it’s scary to take that risk because you might be afraid that nothing will happen, nothing will change. But you’ll be no worse off, right? Really – the only risk is that not only will your situation improve for the better, but your faith will deepen and grow more on fire than ever, after seeing God work in your life.


I say that’s a risk worth taking! It all comes back to you. Do you believe He CAN? Do you want Him to? He’s just waiting for you to believe in Him.

You are right. You can’t do “this” on your own. You need Him.

Don’t wait any longer. Go to Him today. Believe. And watch what He CAN do.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alone

It was a rare weekend when I went to church service without my husband. It doesn’t happen too often where I go without him. (For which I am so thankful!) I love having him by my side but on this occasion, it happened that I went alone. I sat in the church pew, alone. I praised and sang to God, alone. I prayed, alone.

As I was looking around and thinking about some things, I thought about how I was sitting there all by myself. It seemed kind of ironic to me, how accustomed I’d gotten to leaning on someone else’s company at church. It felt familiar to do that. Comfortable.

I thought about how appropriate it was, though, that I was sitting in church alone. How good it was for me. You see, I was reminded how my relationship with God is an “alone” one. I can’t rely on my husband or anyone else to bridge the gap between me and the Lord. I can’t rely on the church to grow my faith. That’s up to me and the choices I make within my own heart. No one else can grow my relationship with God. It’s between me and Him.

I have to make the choice to ask Jesus into my heart. I have to do that alone. No one else can make that choice for me. And no one else can walk me into the gates of heaven or hell. I do that alone as well. I will stand before God – alone. So it bears good reason that I’d need to praise God alone, pray to God alone, and sit in church alone from time to time! No one else to rely on or lean upon. Just me and the Lord.

That’s as it should be at times.


I think we grow so used to relying on others. We rely on others to tell us how to be, how to walk as Christians, and what to do. We expect a pastor, Sunday School teacher, or friend to grow our faith for us. But really, all they can do is motivate our hearts. It’s up to us to do the growing and the seeking.


I think that’s why sometimes people fall away from the Lord so easily. We act surprised but really, their Christian walk had no deep roots in it. It was all surface talk and walk. It was for “show.” Maybe not intentionally – but still.

We are the only ones who can personally speak to the Lord about what is going on in our hearts and souls. We are the only ones who can hear God speaking and whispering back to us. It’s a personal relationship! Sure, others can be led to pray on our behalf. They can be led to take action for us, or speak to us. But they can’t hear what God is telling only to us. They can’t make the choice of a will that needs to decide if it will serve the Lord in all it does. They can’t do that for us. We have to do it alone. And we have to face God someday – alone.


We need the support of other believers in our lives. They give us the strength, encouragement, insight, and direction we so often need. But we need to use that same strength, encouragement, insight, and direction and apply it in our lives when we are away from the crowd – when we are alone.


If you are used to be around others and leaning on someone else’s faith to pull you along, try standing on your own for a change. Try sitting in church – alone. Praying to God – alone. Singing and praising Him – on your own. Watch how He speaks to you and see how your faith grows and ignites. That’s what it’s about, my friend. Personal relationship.


And He longs to have it with you. So that when that ONE DAY comes and you and I have to stand (or kneel) before Him, that we can tremble with respect and love – instead of fear and doubt.

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