Friday, April 30, 2010

Letting Others Have a "Say"

Have you ever let someone else hinder the person you were meant to be?

Think about it for a minute. Remember that time you had that great idea and someone told you it was too hard or too silly and they talked you out of it? Remember when you wanted to start fresh, abandon something that really wasn’t good for your life and someone “guilted” you into staying where you were? Sure – we’ve all been there. We’ve all let others label us or make us doubt our own heart. Why do we do that?

I think it’s because deep down we have insecurities that we don’t measure up – that we don’t have what it takes. But we do. Oh, we do!

I believe each and every one of us has “what it takes.” We just have to believe in ourselves. We have to dig deep sometimes and overcome some ghosts in our own past. Not always fun but sometimes very necessary.

We will never feel free to be who we were meant to be if we listen to the voices around us so much that we fail to see who is looking out for us and offering us encouraging advice and who is simply content having us where we are in our life because that means they feel comfortable too.

Don’t let someone else hinder you from becoming who you were meant to be. So what if your dream is a little bit crazy! So what if the odds are stacked against you? At least you will have tried.

As in the words of my wise daughter, “There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Loving The Sound of Nothing

Sometimes my ears get overwhelmed. Just too much noise. I’ve noticed that on the days where there is a lot of “buzz” in my world, I tend to get grumpier more easily.

I think that people underestimate the need to “check out” of noises for awhile. I think people forget (until they experience it) just how much it is needed. We have the noises of radio, tv, traffic, dogs barking, phones ringing, and so much more. It can get to be overload really fast!

There have been more than a few days where I’ve gone to bed at night and just breathed a deep sigh while I’ve embraced the quiet. It brings peace to my heart when there is so much chaos and hubbub that loves to inundate my life.

I hope I can teach my kids the value of quiet. I know kids usually love activity, music, and noise. It’s exciting to them and adds fun to their life. But I want them to learn to value the sound of silence as well. I want them to feel the peace, clarity, and refreshment that comes over their heart, mind, and soul when they clear out all the other noise for awhile just to hear their own thoughts.

The older I get, the more I value the moments I get to hear the sound of “nothing.” They are needed and valued and in an ever-increasing noisy world, I do not take them for granted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finding God's Strength

I hate confrontation. I will avoid it at all costs. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I’d much rather run from a situation or hide from it than get into a tumultuous event. Some people just seem to be looking to pick a fight and I want no part of that.

Yet I was reading something in Bible Study recently that really pricked my heart. It was talking about Paul in the Bible and all the things he went through (some of which he could have avoided) being beaten, stripped, imprisoned, etc. And yet we find him in jail praying and singing praises and hymns to God! Does that not just blow you away? I think if I were in prison I’d be in a ball crying my eyes out!

The thing is – Paul found something that so many of us either don’t find or fail to see is ours if we ask for it – and that is God’s strength and peace. Somehow, some way in the midst of his horrible ordeals, He was able to access a strength that was not his own. He found a strength that surpassed his own human understanding and with it came the peace that His great God was in control and would take care of him.

That knowledge really humbles me because here I am doing anything I can to avoid suffering, hurt, and loss in the world and Paul experienced all of that and yet he could still sing in prison? I want that kind of faith.

Years ago I would be afraid to say that aloud for fear that God would grant me my request. I would be afraid that He’d send all sorts of trials and tribulations my way just so that I could discover “that kind of faith.” But now I look at it in a different light. I see that it’s that very kind of faith that can make less of any trial or tribulation when normally you would fear they would break you. It’s the kind of faith that sweeps over you with such assurance that your heart is filled with a calm peace, a solid strength, and an acceptance of what “is.” Oh to have that kind of a faith!

I am so humbled. I experience so little compared to some of the men and women of the Bible – heck to some of the men and women around me and yet, I act so frail.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love, and self control.”

That’s what I want to be about. That’s what I want to claim. That’s who I want to be.

I don’t want to run anymore. I want to feel God fill me with His strength and power. I want to let Him work through me. It’s time to start lifting my head high and holding onto the One who holds my life in His hands.

This world is all about battles and though I’d rather not fight them, I don’t want to run from them anymore. God’s Glory can never be shown when I do.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Gift of Sunshine

I want to say a 'thank you' to Barbie over at My Freshly Brewed Life. She was so kind to give me this "Sunshine Award." This award is given to blogs that inspire others, and show positivity and creativity.

This is what Barbie said about me....

Dionna @ Beauty In The Storm - Dionna is just plain honest. She writes from her heart and her words always cause me to quiet my heart and ponder.

I am touched, Barbie. I am so glad that God can use my words and what I learn from life to help you to quiet your heart and ponder. It's truly humbling. You brought sunshine to MY heart by your kind words. So, thank you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Losing It

Sometimes I think we have a right to “lose it.”

The older I get, the more I realize that having it “all together” is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s usually only an affront, a pose, an image for others. No one has it all together. And honestly – sometimes life just bites. It can be really unfair. Really cruel and cold.

So why shouldn’t we lose it a little? Isn’t that more honest than trying to be really composed when everything inside of us is screaming?

In the movie “Love’s Abiding Joy” a couple loses their baby girl. There is one poignant scene where the mother goes out by a tree when she can contain herself no longer and kicks, yells, and cries out to God. I cannot watch it without getting tears in my eyes. She falls to her knees and looks up yelling “Why? Why?” And even though my heart hurts at the thought of feeling that way, I love this scene. Because she is being honest. I mean let’s face it – we all know that’s how she’s feeling anyways – why disguise it?

God wants us to be honest with Him.

Who cares that others will think we are strange? Who cares if we look like a maniac? Don’t we all just need to “lose it” once in awhile? The person who “loses it” I think sometimes finds more focus and meaning than those of us who try to “hold it all together” all of the time. I think through the rawness of their emotions, they sometimes find purpose, meaning, and possibly healing can begin when needed.

I’ll be honest. Sometimes when I’m by myself I’ve had a good cryfest or yelled out to God. And it feels good. It feels so good. I think being honest with ourselves is important and the only stepping stone to moving forward at times.

I’m not ever condoning hurting anyone else in our emotional releases. I AM saying though that sometimes when we are in a safe spot, the most needed thing may be to do some yelling, screaming, and thrashing about between us and God. He can take it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

For This Moment....

For this moment ~ I’m going to forget my problems, my battles, my struggles and I’m going to smile.

For this moment ~ I’m going to focus on joy instead of pain.

For this moment ~ I’m going to laugh, have fun, enjoy what I’ve been given.

I spend enough time dwelling on issues that need fixed or changed. I give enough of my mind over to worrying and stressing. But for this moment, I’m just going to think of my blessings and my gifts from God. I’m going to feel His love and let it heal me…for this moment.

I’m going to take in the small things that I often overlook – whether it’s one of my children wanting my company or my husband smiling at me in adoration. I’m not going to miss the beautiful sunshine that shines on my face or the bountiful selection of food in my kitchen. I’m going to be thankful and give thanks for everything I can find.

For this moment, I’m going to laugh instead of get upset. I’m going to love instead of hate and I’m going to live instead of inwardly die over everything that “isn’t,” “wasn’t,” or “can’t be.”

For this moment ~ I’m going to grow my trust in God, my faith, my peace, and my joy. So that in the next moment I’m stronger, wiser, and better.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Combining Mother's & Father's Day

I’m all about creating my own special traditions. I don’t know why, but I’ve kind of been in a mood to buck worldly standard and traditions lately; instead, creating my own. I mean, why do we have to do something or celebrate something just because the world says we do?

Take Mother’s Day for example. I love being celebrated. It’s good for my family to remember that they need to appreciate all that a mom does. But honestly – I love being celebrated more when it’s done out of their own initiative instead of forced. It means more to my heart. And I know that sometimes life gets busy and money gets tight.

In 2009 my husband and I decided to do something different. We decided to combine our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts into one gift that we both could enjoy. No need to go buy a bunch of smaller stuff that maybe we don’t really want or can’t use. There are so many bigger items that we never seem to get around to buying or getting. So unless our girls had a big problem with it, that’s what we decided to do. (And they didn’t.)

We decided to buy a porch swing. I have always wanted one. Yet it wasn’t really reasonable to get one on top of mother’s day gifts and then father’s day gifts. So we decided to get a combo gift. I relished sitting in that swing for the very first time and it’s something that our whole family will enjoy.

We have done the same thing many times for our anniversary. Instead of buying each other something, we invest into our marriage, our home and life together by buying one bigger thing to share and enjoy in together. It makes sense and it feels good to know that we believe in our future.

Celebrating someone you love can be done in so many different ways. Do what works for you. I think you will find – as we did – that sometimes your way is so much more meaningful than how the rest of the world does something.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Expand Your Bubble

Sometimes we start living life in a bubble. We have the same set of friends and family around us giving us the same set of values, insight, and opinions. We never hear anything or experience anything different. Not always a bad thing – but not a stretching/growing thing either.

That’s why I love twitter and blogging so much. You get out of your bubble and your own little view of the world and you get to see more, hear more, feel more. You grow both personally, emotionally, and spiritually.

At least I do.

Your bubble is expanded and you start opening your horizons, changing your habits, dreaming more, and trying new things. You gain fresh ideas, objective perspectives, and honesty from people who have nothing to gain by their advice to you.

I love this part of technology that God has given us. It has blessed my life and shown me amazing, fun, and touching things about life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prove Your Love

Tough times in life. They come and they go. But when they are here, they can be downright excruciating. It can feel like life will never resume a normal daily pace.

During one of my recent “tough seasons” I was having to have some real “nitty gritty” talks with my Lord. Over the course of days and actually a few weeks, he brought many verses to me. Many of them were reassuring verses of how He would fight for me. Many were about trust. And I needed those verses! Oh, how I needed them.

During a “low point” one night I finally just out and out told God that I was frustrated and that I didn’t understand why He so clearly was withholding something from me. I basically (not in so many words) through my prayers, pleas, whines, and cries – was begging for him to prove His love to me.

As if He hasn’t done that so many times already.

As little as I liked the answer, a whisper came to my heart – “What if God is waiting for YOU to prove YOUR love to Him?”

You see – it’s so easy to love God when things are going well. We can praise Him and speak of Him glowingly. We can teach our children how to follow Him. But it’s when the darkness comes at us, that’s when the real test of our love comes in. And God has nothing to prove to us. He’s God. But what does our trial show of our love for Him? Do we bail quickly? Do we hide out? Do we curse the one we say we love? Do we try to handle things on our own terms? Or do we get on our knees, pray, and offer up our lives to Him? That’s tough to do.

Most of the time I don’t think God is even asking us to give up things for Him. I think He just wants us to consider the cost. There’s a lot we can learn in merely the thought or mention of certain costs and losses in our lives. There’s a lot we feel in the temporary losses of things in our lives.

I remember in the movie, “Facing the Giants” the football coach’s wife wanted a baby badly. She’d had so many disappointments in this area and finally thought she might be pregnant only to be told that she was again – wrong. Deeply crushed she went out to her car, stifled her tears and looked up into the sky where she told God, “I will STILL love you!”

I think that’s what God wants from me. He wants to hear me say that I will still love Him when things go unfairly in my life. He wants me to stay dedicated to Him even when I don’t understand the “why’s.” He wants me to prove my love just as Job proved His love despite losing almost everything he had in the Bible.

Will I be worthy when the challenging times come?

Will you?

All I’ve ever wanted is God’s love and favor in my life. And I know that’s all He wants from me as well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Goodness In Life

Sometimes life can really get me down. Politics, society, unrest, horrible news stories….the list goes on and on. But I’ve always been a positive person and I’ve found that that inner positive mentality has carried me a long way at times. It’s been the difference between joy and sorrow.

For me, sometimes just seeing the goodness that still exists in life does a great deal to boost my spirits. When I’m driving to the grocery store and I see geese fly overhead or I see someone helping someone else change a car tire, or someone give a man on the corner a few dollars to help out….those are things that remind me there is still good in the world. Sometimes it’s even something as simple as someone pausing so my car can turn in front of them or picking up a list I dropped while shopping, that reminds me there are people who still care out there.

Life IS good. God created it to be good from the beginning and it’s up to us to continue to carry out that goodness and to look for it whenever we can. It’s up to us to remind others that the world is not all gloom and doom. It’s not all hardship. There is still beauty, tenderness, kindness, and goodness to be found in it.

Do you see it? Do you look for it? Do you experience it? Do you give it?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don't Take It For Granted

No marriage is perfect. At least I haven’t witnessed one. There can be times where we are more vulnerable to temptation from outside influences or even romanticizing someone who we might think is “more” perfect than our spouse. I’ve learned those kinds of thoughts need to be rejected immediately because they are dangerous.

I am so thankful for my spouse. God gave me someone who pushes me at times when I’d rather stay in my comfortable little “zone.” He gave me someone who opens my heart and mind and gives me broader horizons in life to explore, because of it.

I’ve thought of what I would do if something happened to my husband. One day I was sitting there contemplating such a thing. My husband hadn’t been feeling well and I was concerned. As my mind can do – it went to deep places thinking of all sorts of illnesses and tragedies. I got tears in my eyes and it became so clear to me how deeply I loved and valued my husband in my life.

I thought of all sorts of things. I thought about my children having the trauma of losing a father in their life. I knew that they would suddenly not become the people they would have been had he continued to be there. I thought of how my life would suddenly, dramatically change. I’d have to know how to handle all of our finances. I’d be responsible for all choices – not having a spouse to bounce my thoughts off of. I thought of the lack of security I would feel in our home and in general. I thought of our dreams and plans and how I would have to decide if I wanted to continue on with those without my husband. I thought of the sudden hole my life would feel as his love would be withdrawn from my life.

You can see where these thoughts went. I thought of every void, every change, and every different path my life would take without having my husband there. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

Sure – no man is perfect. But then again, neither is any woman. I can complain and whine, or I can choose to make the most of what I’ve been given for life could be so dramatically different.

I’m so thankful I don’t have to change the oil on my car or get air in the tires. I’m blessed to have a husband who weeds, mows and does routine house maintenance. I value the fact that he gets up in the middle of the night when I hear a strange noise to check things out for me and help me feel safe. I covet the influence he gives to our children – not just on math homework or school projects that I have no clue how to help them on, but in common sense, thinking outside of the box, and learning how to laugh, have fun, and grab hold of life.

We can take our husbands and our marriages for granted. We can wish for something better when in reality, it’s in our hands to make it better. We have the choice each day to encourage, uplift, and encourage our husbands to want to be better for us.

Life can change in a heartbeat. Whether it’s an illness or a tragic accident, we are not guaranteed to have those we love forever. So I’m thankful for each day that God gives me to have my family. I’m thankful for my husband and all he is and aspires to be for our family and me. May I never take him for granted.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It Works For Me

I have a little secret. Well, it’s more like a trick, really. See – I can sometimes stress or fret unnecessarily easily. It’s something I’m working on, but in order to improve, I learned that I needed some built-in tools to help me.

It all started one night a few years ago when someone was snooping around our home after we’d gone to bed. I was frightened and even unnerved after the police had come and gone. God brought to my mind an old Sunday School song. It had the perfect words to calm my anxious heart and I finally was able to go to sleep.

I tried this tactic again when I was stressed over a nerve-wracking and upsetting situation. I started reading lots of Bible verses and God brought another old Sunday School song in my head “The Joy of the Lord is my strength.” So I sang that over and over in my head and even out loud when no one was around to laugh at me. It calmed my heart and gave me the strength I was looking for to stand firm.

Old Sunday School songs. Simple melodies that have unshaking truths and Biblical foundations as their core. I’ve come to rely on them.

You see, sometimes when I’m upset, I need to repeat things over and over in my head. For my mind is a tough thing to overcome. It plays all sorts of games with me. But the simple choruses and melodies of “This Little Light of Mine” or “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord “(and He shall bring you up) as well as “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” are easy melodies to remember. They calm my heart, realign my focus, and reassure my conviction.

So, now you know. My secret’s out. But it’s one that I hope will help you, as well. If you’re so anxious about something that you can’t focus on things at hand and you want to crowd unkind thoughts out of your head – try some of your favorite hymns or some old Sunday School songs. It works for me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stop the World

I’m tired. There is a song by Matthew West called “Stop the World” and it talks about how he wants the world to stop – he wants to get off of this ride. He’s not talking about ending his life – just that he wants the noise and distractions of the world to stop so he can get time with God. Sometimes I feel the same way.

I get tired. I get tired of asking God for the same thing and knowing it’s His desire and will for me – yet I have not.

I get tired of the spiritual and physical battles that beat me and my family up in life.

I grow weary of having to fight so hard for what is right. Shouldn’t it be easier at times?

Yes, sometimes I want to get off of this ride and grab a different one. I want a different ride than the one I’m on.


But God has me on this particular road. He has His reasons for things. As Steven Curtis Chapman says, “God is God and I am not.” And sometimes I just have to settle on that as an answer. Because I can’t come up with a better one.

This world is tough. It’s cold. It can beat you up, spit you out, and then come back for more. It can laugh in your face or sneer behind your back. It can act like your friend and then hurt you – deeply.

And yet there’s always hope.

I get so desperate to hear from God. And maybe that’s His goal for me. To seek out time alone with Him. Quiet, uninterrupted, honest time with Him. Time that helps me find my footing, my voice. Time where only God can refuel me, refresh me, and fill me. Maybe He wants ALL of my attention and focus.

Oh to hear Him speak to me. Oh to hear His voice to show me, lead me, guide me. Hold me.

Stop the world, Lord. I want to get off. I need some time with You.

“My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8 AMP

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

We can’t diminish or laugh away the importance of who we hang around. Our friendships and who we rub shoulders with is very critical in our life. It affects who we are, how we act and think, and what we hold dear to our hearts. If we happen to be very grounded in our morals and values, hopefully, we can become the influencers instead of the ones being influenced – but if we aren’t – the wrong kind of friendships can adversely affect our walk with the Lord.

If you hang around someone who is very casual about what they believe, without even realizing it, you can end up becoming casual about it as well. I’ve seen it happen time and time again where someone whom I thought seemed very strong in their faith suddenly started making a concession here and a concession there. Soon I hardly recognized who they were. We can’t blame others totally on the choices we choose to make – after all, we do have free will! But we can certainly point a finger at the influencer.

We need to be careful that we do not lead others down the wrong path. God tells us not to do something that would cause our brother to stumble. We need to be so mindful that others are watching us and sometimes following our lead. Likewise, we are like sheep who follow someone else’s lead. We seem to think that if it’s okay for “them” to do it – then it’s okay for us and that’s the wrong kind of thinking. Even very reputable, wise people make mistakes and can lead us down the wrong road if we aren’t careful!

I have the opportunity every once in awhile to quote the above verse to my children. When I see something in the media or they are watching a movie where a young girl changes her look and actions to be a part of the “in-crowd.” I tell them that is why it is so important that we choose our friends wisely. So often good kids are caught up in a bad crowd and they will pay the price – whether it’s something simple like getting detention for simply being involved in a bad group or something worse like jail time. Iron sharpens iron and I don’t want my kids to have to learn the hard way that we are each responsible for our own individual choices. That includes standing with the wrong crowd even if you aren’t personally doing anything wrong.

As adults, we need to be extra careful. We have children watching us and non-believers watching us. Heck – we even have other believers watching us and being influenced by us. Iron sharpens iron.

We need to pick our friends wisely. Choose people who encourage us to be better, stronger, wiser. Don’t choose people who are simply out to have “fun” and abandon what they say they believe in in the flash of a moment. Don’t choose people who are casual with other people’s feelings. Don’t choose people who are critical of who you are and constantly putting you down. Don’t choose people who simply “pander” to you and don’t tell you the truth in love but instead enable your destructive choices and behavior. Don’t choose people who may talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

I want to be sharpened. I want to sharpen others in a good way. A refining way. Let us give more time and effort to strengthening one another instead of destroying and crippling each other by selfish and prideful choices.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feeling Dry

Dry. Sometimes I’m just dry. I really feel I need to write some new article pieces and I have no inspiration. Or I feel like my days at home get to be monotonous and I have no motivation to do laundry or clean – I just feel dry!

Sometimes we can feel dry in our marriage relationships or in our friendships. We feel as if we have nothing to give and no one is giving to us. So what do we do when those dry times come?

Just as when our throats are dry and we desire a cup of water, so do we have a thirst when a part of our life feels dry. Maybe we are thirsty for motivation, encouragement, love, or change. Feeling “dry” is like having a desert experience – no matter how small or short-lived that may be. It’s up to us to decide if we are meant to plod through despite how mundane the circumstances may be, or if we need to be proactive and make some different choices. Neither alternative is always as easy as it sounds.

I do know that when I’m going through a dry ‘spell’ that in hindsight, I’m usually always grateful for it in some way. Oftentimes it taught me to get up off my butt and do something instead of waiting around like a waif for something to happen. And mostly, it forced me to go straight to God and cling and look to Him for resolution and refreshment.

If you are feeling dry today, don’t despair. There is someone who can quench that spirit and soul of yours. Go to Him and soak Him in.


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