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 naïve 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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Back Up Again

This video was taken a few years ago. We were out on Bruneau Sand Dunes in Idaho and had the fun idea of racing down the big dune. Well, racing down sand isn't as easy as it might look! The sand weighs heavily with each foot imprint and the momentum  of going down a hill pulls you down faster than you want to go.

I started slowing down right away but my little one, she let the momentum pull her and took quite the spill. In fact, in her words at the time , "I tumbled!"

Take a look -



What amazed me when I watched the video play back, was how she shook it off, got right back up, and kept going. When she was done, she had sand all over her face and in her hair. I'm sure flipping like that, stunned her.

As it does us.

We can get so stunned when we fall and tumble in our lives. The thing is, sometimes we just sit there and moan about it instead of shaking it off, getting back up and continuing on.

We all fall. We all mess up and make mistakes. We all get discouraged. We all get frustrated and down in the dumps. Sometimes life deals us bad blows. Sometimes, it's our fault. We just get pulled by the momentum of it and get going too fast until we fall. Regardless of the reasons, too many of us stay sitting on that ground instead of getting back up, and finishing the race that God called us to.

Wherever you're at in your life today - God has called you to a race. He wants you to persevere and finish it. I'm sure there are many things to learn along the way. But how will your finish? Will you quit or will you shake yourself off, and finish strong?

That is the question.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God-Approved or My Own Conviction?


There are so many decisions and choices to be made in life. A lot of times, we can feel very passionate about something. This passion leads us in a certain direction and we label it. We label it with a  “God must be wanting me to do this” kind of a thing. When in reality, that may not be the case at all.

We can change directions or take a lot of different steps in life based on our own deep-held convictions. We can feel very strongly that God is leading us to make those changes and decisions. Yet, we can still be very wrong.

I think we need to be super careful about labeling something “God endorsed” or “God approved.” Just because we feel something deeply doesn’t mean that it is something God wants for us! A lot of times we can be impulsive or we can be led by our emotions – never seeing something clearly until way down the road.

So how can you know – truly – if it’s God telling you to do something or not? That is a very tough question because it’s one I pose to myself often. I cannot tell someone else whether or not they are really hearing God’s voice on an issue or not. What I can say are there are always some good guidelines to go by.

  1. Take whatever it is and hold it up to God’s Word. God will never tell you to do something that directly contradicts what He says in Scripture. Whether or not you feel He wants you to be “happy” doesn’t mean He is blessing the fact that you want to leave your marriage and start life fresh with another man. That’s just not the case.

  1. Pray about it. The longer you pray about something the clearer God will make His will. I’ve found that He has an awesome way of weaving my questions in with life that is going on around me. Suddenly, I’m seeing that question addressed or symbolized everywhere and in different ways! If you truly are seeking God’s heart and will and not just simply wanting to have Him “Bless” yours – He WILL make it clear to you.

  1. Seek Godly counsel. Don’t just talk to your best friend or someone who you know will agree with you. Talk to a variety of people. People you respect but know are walking with the Lord. Talk to them and get their advice. Take what is said to you and ponder it in your heart; bringing it before the Lord and asking Him to help you sift what has been said. On the whole, if everyone is advising you a certain way – it’s good to heed that advice.

I just think we need to be careful about heading in certain directions in life and USING God to proclaim that this must be the thing to do. We need to be cautious about tacking Him onto our projects and adventures simply to convince others that this is the right thing to do. God never makes mistakes. So if you often find that what you ended up choosing was a disaster; the fact is, God probably didn’t lead you there.

We are a headstrong people. We can dive into things because we feel them so earnestly. But an earnest heart isn’t necessarily a God-led one.

It’s good to remember that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Women Like to Decorate EVERYTHING

My husband laughs at me sometimes when I rearrange things in the house. I’ve been known to move around the trash can and even the napkin holder. He’s commented that “I didn’t know the garbage can was a décor item!” Men! Don’t they know that everything is a décor item?


Most women love to decorate. It starts when we are little girls and we dress up our teddy bears. We have this inner need to make everything p-r-e-t-t-y. Whether it embellishes, flourishes, or sparkles – we love to beautify.


I love to change the case on my cell phone. I love to have a different style that decorates it and the same goes for my Ipod. I recently discovered that I could have skins or cases on it too! I love giving it a different look and prettying it up! I think that’s why corporations have created paper towels with hearts and flowers or napkins with designs. They know us women like to decorate!


My husband was searching for gift ideas for me once and I told him a good rule of thumb to go by. I told him that if it was something that decorated an item – I would like it. If it’s a design, embellishment, enhancement or anything that puts a fun look to an otherwise ordinary item – that would be a good gift for me! I mean, who needs a plain spiral notebook when you can have one with a beautiful photo or design on it? Who wants plain white walls if you can paint them? Life is so fun when you can add color, emotion, and style to it!


I love this part of being a woman. I love taking something that is otherwise plain and making it feel more alive and more personable. It’s a gift that God has given us. Something that only women can add to the world.


What a fun thing to embrace.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Refreshment In the Storm

God truly does care about us.



I was having a really tough time in a certain battle. The timing of it, the subject of it, and the fact that it seemed to attack my judgment, self esteem, and self-worth made it exceptionally difficult for me to navigate. There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by where I didn’t think about it at some point and get physically sick to my stomach.


I’m a very sensitive person by nature so Satan knew this was a soft spot for me. And he took advantage with gusto.


I prayed Scripture verses. I cried out loud to God. I tried to be still and let Him fight for me. I tried to let Him fill me with peace and to have faith and a strength that I know only could come from Him. For some reason, they all felt allusive. They kind of crept in but then would rush out just as easily. It was a storm of great force in my life and in my heart. I felt like I was desperately trying not to lose my mind. Doubt would rush in and make me question everything about myself.


But God knows.


I think I was nearing the end of my own “grip” on holding on. Not that I would do anything drastic, but just that I was at a point in this battle where the Lord knew I needed a sign from Him. I needed some hope to go on. Mind you – this battle wasn’t life altering. It was just pointed. Pointed directly at me, and it hurt. So when I got to the point where I was barely hanging on to the hope and peace I knew was there for me, God brought me refreshment in the form of His people.


He’s done that before you know. When I look for it, it never seems to come but when I’m not looking or expecting words of encouragement and only trying to hold onto Him – there it is. He sends it to me. He knows. He knows I need refilling.




I got two gifts from Him on this particular day. One from someone I love dearly and who knew I was struggling. The other from a stranger. Someone who just wanted me to know I was making a difference – that God had used me to minister to her in her time of need. Both brought tears to my eyes and healing to small tears in my heart.


They didn’t solve everything. In fact – they solved nothing. But they built up my strength to persevere another day. And that was what I needed.


If you are in a battle and you feel as if you are barely hanging on, I bet you anything that God has refreshment on its way to you in your storm; just as He sent to me. And may that refreshment be like a hug from Him to you letting you know He’s still there, watching. You are not alone and He won’t leave you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Everyone Wants To Feel Valued

People need to feel like they are valued. They need to know that someone else finds them valuable. Everyone wants to be wanted and needed on some level. Everyone wants to be a blessing to someone else yet they also want to be delighted in and loved on by others.



I wonder if a lot of the depression, low self esteem, and insecurities in people arise from the very basic and simple reason that they do not feel valued? I wonder if they started to feel worthwhile, invested in, and truly cared for by those around them…if some of those issues would lighten or disappear altogether?

 
It is so easy for us to get caught up in our own lives. We get wrapped up in the details of our own problems, concerns, and small little social circles. But what if God opened our eyes a little bit? Or a lot? What would we see? Would we realize that those within our social circle have needs that are unmet? Would we see that all the “fun” we have together has covered up more serious needs and hurts? And what about those outside of our social circle? Those people we casually smile and chat with from time to time and somehow have overlooked as someone who could be a very real and vital part of our lives? Have we somehow been blinded to a need or hurt that they may have that no one is addressing?

We live in a very real hurting world. People are increasingly feeling isolated from others. Sometimes by choice – sometimes not. But the fact remains that the stresses, hurts, mistakes, losses, and tragedies of life are weighing on us heavily. A lot of times we lock that up, put a smile on our face and try to act like all is well. We don’t engage one another in the deeper stuff for fear of the reaction we may get.


People need people. Yes, they also need God. But God put people here to be there for each other in a very tangible, daily way. He put us here to take up the needs and hurts of one another. He put us here to encourage and support each other. He put us here to love on one another.


When was the last time you felt loved? When was the last time you felt valued by someone else? When was the last time someone told you something about yourself that made you feel better about the kind of person you are?


Busyness. Hectic schedules. Family commitments. The demands of our life often can overshadow one of the basic needs that we need to be giving each other…love.


Take a few minutes today to send some emails to people in your life that you don’t often lavish love upon. Maybe it’s that faithful volunteer at your child’s school or that person at church who has such a servant’s heart and is always doing what needs to be done. Whomever it is, let them know they are appreciated – valued – and loved. I guarantee you that they need to hear it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Are You Happy?

Are you happy?

When was the last time you smiled - you laughed?

Do you feel joy in your heart? If not, why not?

What choices in life do you need to make in order to usher back in happiness? Is it simply an attitude change that needs to take place or a change in circumstances?

Don't waste away any more of your days living in discontent, depression, and frustration. Life goes by far too quickly.

You deserve to be happy.

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