Sunday, August 12, 2018

Teach Your Kids To Keep Swimming



Being a parent is so emotional.  It’s hard enough navigating the tired days, the stressful, “too-busy” days….but the days where your kids are battling emotional issues outside of your home? Those can really take their toll.

If only I could swoop in and rescue my kids on these days. For it is excruciating, to stand by, and see them hurting. Whether it’s someone who verbally hurts them, an unfair situation that occurs, or feelings of inadequacy, those are truly pivotal moments in our children’s lives.

As are, how we handle them, as mom and dad.

It would be so easy to run in and rescue my kids. It would be easy to shelter them from the bruises that come from others. And it would be preferable to my heart.

But it’s not what our kids need.

If we don’t give our kids the tools and the roots to handle life when the ground shifts beneath them —- they will never know how to stand firm. They will get swallowed up and “lost.”

We may not always have the answers to help. But we do have ideas. We have compassion. And we can believe in who our kids are. Those tools can be EVERYTHING to help them get through those tough seasons.

The only promise we can give them, is that we will walk through this time with them. That we will listen, and we will love.

It doesn’t help to hurl insults on another party. To remove our children from the situation. (Unless they are in danger emotionally or physically.) It doesn’t help to address things FOR them. No. We need to give our children tools to speak up for themselves. We need to help them learn what “higher ground” is, and how to internally, and emotionally protect themselves, even when things aren’t fair.

These are the best things we can give our precious kids.


So, mom, dad? Teach your kids how to keep swimming. Teach them how to wade through those currents and rough waters, so that they don’t risk drowning.  We can’t always be there for them. We’ve got to help them learn how to be there for themselves.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

For He Loved Me




“It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.”
Psalms 44:3



…”For you loved them.” 

That line brings such warmth to my heart. 

There are so many battles we fight in life. Some of them are physical, some spiritual.  And for most of them, we think it’s US doing all of the fighting.

We think it’s US waging the battle. Whatever it is, that has been placed before us, we feel like we have our swords drawn… daily.

And, maybe we do.  But we certainly aren’t in the battle alone. We aren’t waging the fight… alone. And WE aren’t the ones who bring about any victory.

There is a whole spiritual realm fighting for us. Fighting WITH us. And it’s those swords that bring about our victory. 

We can pray mightily. Fight mightily. We can muster all of the courage in the world. And those things, I reckon, will probably help us grow, learn, and become even stronger. 

But the battles are won, most times, because God simply loves us and wants to give us the victory.

We think there must be more. But there’s not. 

God does things for us simply because He loves us and He desires to bless us. 

He doesn’t want to see us defeated. He likes to encourage us, and reveal His glory to us.

Yes, I believe He wants us to get on our knees and pray. I believe He wants us to use what tools He’s given us in our faith, to fight the wars in our lives. But I think those things are there, more for our own spiritual growth and walk, than they are for end results, really.

In our own strength, we are so feeble. Do we really think it’s US that deserves the victory? 

Or God?

If I think I’ve done “enough” of something to win a battle, then it’s too easy for the focus to be on myself and what I can do.., then on what my God can do. And in fact, on what He DID.

So what a tender reminder this verse is for me to remember, that it is not by MY might but by God’s, that wins the battles and wars in my life.

And He does it for one simple reason.

Love.


For He loved me.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What Is the Thing In Life, That First Stole Your Confidence?



When you look back on your life - what is that ‘thing’ that almost destroyed you? 

What is that thing that made you feel like you were crumbling into pieces? That thing that caused you to doubt who you were, why you were, and HOW you were…. As a person and an individual?

What was that big thing in your life - that first stole your confidence?

There is a ‘thing’ for most of us. Something that shattered our ideal expectations of how life is supposed to be.

I remember the ‘thing’ in my life. I remember it very well. I remember how for the first time, I started feeling shaky in my personal identity.

I almost let that ‘thing’ steal it from me completely. 

Before that period of time, I didn’t really wonder if I spoke too much. I didn’t question my judgement. I didn’t think that maybe I was “unlikeable.” Afterwards though? Afterwards, I grappled with those questions. And more. Sometimes a lot.

Wars do that to us. Spiritual wars. Emotional wars. And even physical wars in our lives.

They twist and turn, and pull our confidence out and away from us.

And they laugh.

Because in return, we often dwindle. We stop using our gifting. We fail to speak up. We try to fix things in ourselves, to imitate others (when in reality, nothing needed fixing.)

We wither.  We struggle. We doubt.

We lose our confidence.

We need to learn to fight back. For me, I barely held on. It was my faith that carried me through. And even then, it took years to slowly rebuild what was stolen from me, for a time. But I did it. 

I found my voice again. I regained my sparkle. I renewed my sense of self. And I learned to love me for me. Not thinking I was perfect, but knowing I was and am, uniquely a ‘me’ that is worthy of being liked and loved.

Who we are should be celebrated. It may be a process to learn who you are, and what you want out of life - but that process can be a fun journey.

So journey back to where it all began. With that ‘thing’ that first stole your confidence. Whether it was words that told you you weren’t good enough, or didn’t have ‘it’. Go back and reclaim it. Don’t let someone else decide who you will be.

Chase after yourself. That part of you that was left back in the past on a certain day, and in a certain time. Grab the gift in ‘you’ that was left behind. 

Was it your creativity? Your thoughts? Was it your dream? Grab it and run with it to today. Place it inside of your heart again, and relearn how that part of you, was always meant to be part of you.

Regain your confidence. Become aware of who you were meant to be. 

Identify all that you are. And love it. Live it. 

Say goodbye to the thief that came years ago. Make a choice to never let anyone steal anything from your character ever again.

Win this war.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Don't Ask God for Clarity



I can’t get this out of my head.  A small story I heard recently.

Someone asked Mother Theresa to pray for them, and in what direction, they should walk, in their future. They asked her to pray that God would give them clarity.

A prayer I’m familiar with. I’ve prayed that prayer. I’ve asked others to pray it for me.

Yet, in this story, I heard that Mother Theresa told the gentleman “no”. She said she would not pray for him. Because to ask for clarity - meant that he would not walk in faith.

He would not walk in faith.

That sentence has settled into my bones.

How many times have I failed to walk in faith? How many times have I sought answers so that I would know what to do… robbing me, of a time of growth with my Lord?

If I know what to do, if I know which way to walk, and if I know what God’s answer will be….. I have no reason to follow Him in faith. And faith is everything.

I choose to ask for the easy way out. Clarity. Instead of simply trusting, that God will direct my footsteps, as I walk in faith.

Such a big difference, and a big oversight on our part.

We are strangling our faith. We are pushing it aside in the quest for signs, wonders, and rainbows.

We look for a clear “BIG CALLING” on our lives, instead of simply living faithfully day to day.

Faith.

We need to grow our faith. Lean on our faith. Trust in our faith. 

And trust in our God instead of beckoning for answers, before we embark on any journey.

I’m not saying we ought not to pray. We should pray. Fervently. Boldly. And with open hearts. But then we should begin our quest. Trusting He will take those prayers, and guide us along the way.

Faith.


Yes. It’s everything,

Sunday, July 15, 2018

It's Surgery Time

On Wednesday, I had upper jaw surgery.

As you read this, I will be recuperating. 

The jaw surgery process is not an easy one.  It involves a lot of sleeping upright, (if you’re able to sleep), a 30-day “no chew” diet, trying to get liquids and nutrients in so you can heal, while you are dealing with lips and cheeks that are numb. It involves patience.

It involves more things that I don’t need to go into detail to. Things that aren’t “pretty.” Things that need to heal. 

And it’s a slow healing process.

*It will take me close to 5 months to be able to eat completely normally again.

*It will probably take close to 6 months, before my braces get to come off.

*And it will take up to a year, for any lasting stubborn swelling and numb spots to go away.

Won’t you say a prayer for me?

I’m ready. But can you ever be completely ready for what you will go through?

They say the first week is the toughest. 



I’d love it if you’d pray for:

*Pain and swelling management

*That I will be able to swallow and get enough liquids and nutrients in, to help me navigate this first week much more smoothly.

*For sleep.

*For no infections to creep in.

*For strength. Emotional. And Physical.

*For my family as they help take care of me. That they will know how to help me get the nutrients I will need, the sleep I will need, the pain management I will need - and the love and support I will need.

*For no lasting side effects or unfortunate “damage.” For COMPLETE healing of my jaw, teeth, face, and mouth.


Thank you so much. This has been a big thing facing me in my life, and I’m ready to welcome in the changes that this procedure will bring to my overall health.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on my feet in no- time. 




~ Dionna

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Only One to Stay and Watch the Tears Fall



Boy, life can sure wreck us emotionally, sometimes.  Sometimes we feel like we try and try and try… and we are the only ones fighting for ourselves. We are the only ones who care so deeply.

It can feel like no one cares if we cry.

No one cares if we’re lonely.

No one cares if we’re upset.

No one cares if something hit us very personally.

And that may be true.  

Let’s be honest, the world is so easily caught up in ITSELF.

There are days where all I need is a hug. All I need is someone to hold me and tell me they care. They understand. That it will all be ok.

I need to know that I’m not the only one fighting for ME.

And sometimes, I find that God is the only one in my corner. He is the only one reaching out His arms to hold me. 

He is the only one who stays, to watch the tears fall.

He is the only one, who understands what I’m feeling, and why I’m feeling that way.

Thank heavens.

Thank heavens, when I ask for someone to hold me - HE DOES.

Thank heavens, when I cry out, HE HEARS.

Thank heavens, He never leaves me alone. He never walks away.

His arms are big enough. Long enough. And strong enough.

And He fights for me. Maybe more so, than I fight for myself. He fights in wiser ways. For my greater good.

Life can wreck us emotionally sometimes. But we are not the only ones fighting on our behalf. God is.  And in those moments when you’re alone, FEELING alone, stop. Stop and see. Stop and know. 

He is there too. In that alone moment with us. 


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Had We Only Known





Sometimes we ask God for just “one” thing. And it can be frustrating when we feel it’s a small thing. Something that would be easy to honor, or grant to us.

But He doesn’t. And it isn’t.

Only God knows why He says “no” to us, for the most part.  If we’re lucky, He will open our eyes, and reveal what His plan was; when we are farther down the road.

And what a gift, when He does.

I can look back and see those times in my own life. There were those seasons where I felt literally chased by evil. Or those times where nothing made sense at all, and I didn’t understand why. Why was my process so wacky, when everyone else went through the same process, and got through with ease?

Had I only known.

Had I only known what God was orchestrating. Had I only known what He would bring about.

I would have seen things so differently. I would have ACTED so differently.

One thing. Just one thing. One thing can change a life. It can be the material, used to start an organization. To create a bill in Washington. One thing, can be the catalyst to start a movement. It can create the foundation for a book, or a Bible Study. One thing can begin a career.

Just one thing.

We are often attacked by Satan in the very areas that God plans to use for ministry.

We are often wounded, in the very spots, that can bring about someone else’s healing. And we are often gifted, in touching, special ways - ONLY because of those very wounds we experienced.

Had we only known at the time.

Some things feel so brutal. And they probably are. But God is with us all the time. In every moment. He is walking with us, and He is not unfeeling, or uncaring about our pain. 

He just knows it won’t last forever.

We will struggle. We will hurt. But we can also rise.

We can hope He will unveil the curtain of mystery at some point, and show us the “why” of that painful road we travelled on.

And at that moment, we will understand, close our eyes, and think… “Had we only known.”



Sunday, June 24, 2018

Are We Walking With God, Or Walking With Fear?



We let life consume us.  We try and fail, try and fail again.  We weep bitterly over our failures. Forgetting to see the successes.

It seems we are so good at seeing what worries us.  We concentrate on all of the ways we fall short. We focus on our flaws. 

We wave away compliments.

WE.  That’s what we focus on. Ourselves.

Oh, how I see how the depression can settle around us like a cloud. Oh, how I feel the frustrations, the stresses, and the disappointments cling to us like they are our best friends.

We walk with them. We talk with them. We let them loop themselves around our days - our moods. Our thoughts.

God is there too. But we push Him a little further out. We let our fears and worries stand closer to us. We listen to them… more.

Why? Why is it so easy to think we don’t have value? Why is it so easy to think we don’t measure up?

Why do we choose to walk with our fears — instead of walking with God? 

Why do we choose the darkness as our friend, instead of choosing the light?

God has so many blessings in store for us. He seeks to help us with our burdens. He wants to walk with us, talking to us, and delighting us.

He wants to rescue us.

But we don’t let Him.

Life IS full of hardship. That is a guarantee. It’s full of curves, turns, ruts, and plummeting descents.

There are many tough hills to climb.

But there are also beautiful valleys. Meadows that go on for days. And breezes that make us feel free.

Will we walk in those, too? Or will we just choose the unforgiving paths? The ones that make us feel unwanted?

It IS our choice. 

And it’s time to choose the brighter way. The better way. The way that God has paved ahead of us.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Because I Love You Enough



Sometimes I don’t want to be a warrior. I don’t want to be “tough”.  I don’t want to be better or stronger than what I was before a challenge or hurdle in life.

Oh, I’m always thankful once I’m on the other side of a hurt. I’m thankful for what I learn through tough times. But I sure don’t feel that way when I’m walking INTO them.

I want to run.
I want to hide.

It can be so easy to look out at everyone else and feel like their lives are beautiful. We can see the smiles, the dreams that come true, and the blessings that come their way…. And we can feel like they live charmed lives.

When all we feel like is “hope deferred” is our theme.

Yes? C’mon. You have the moments. I have those moments.

We wander through the muck, and we wonder, “Why, US, Lord”?

I can try to fight against the storm that I feel rages against me - but it’s always more powerful.

That’s because without those times, I wouldn’t lean on my God. I wouldn’t run to Him. I wouldn’t SEE how HE sees when all is said and done. I wouldn’t have a glimpse of His tenderness. I wouldn’t peek in on His strength, His goodness, or His vision.

I would only see mine. And mine can be so selfish. So limiting.

It doesn’t matter what we go through, or where we’ve been. It doesn’t matter how far we try to run. God will find us. He will pull us out of the shadows, and push us through the storm - the weeds - the desert (or whatever it seems to be for you.)

Because He has a bigger agenda in mind. 

Because He wants us to see ourselves as the warriors we fear we are not.

He wants us to feel the tears, the pride, and the gratefulness that come with “hope realized”.

So, when we call out and question why He picked on us, let us be still long enough to hear His reply…. “Because I love you enough to do what is best for you in the long run. I love you enough to to give you what you NEED, and not what you WANT. Because I love you enough, to make you better, stronger, softer, and wiser.

Because, I love you … ENOUGH”.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Go Ahead, Thank Him



It was Bible Study night. 

I shared a prayer request.

And then later on, we were discussing some content in our study and someone looked at me and said, “And I think this is what you should do. Thank God in advance for answering your prayer.”

It stuck with me.

Thank Him in advance. 

Boy, that takes a great deal of faith, doesn’t it? To praise God and thank Him for something you do not have the answer to, yet? 

It means you have to swallow the doubts.

You have to forget about the “when” and the “where.”

You just simply have to trust. And thank Him, knowing in ADVANCE, that He is going to bless you with His answer.

It’s not an easy thing to do.

I started out trying it in a round-about way.  I thanked God for giving me HIS perfect answer. I did this, because it avoided having to thank Him for answering exactly the way my heart wanted.

It left room for my doubt. And if I left room for my doubt, then I couldn’t be mad at God for answering in a different way, right? HIS way?

But the thought kept prodding my heart.

Thank Him in ADVANCE for what He is going to do.

Thank Him in ADVANCE for answering your prayer.

Faith. Great faith.

Do I have it? 

Do you?

Are you afraid, like I was? It’s okay you know. He knows we’re afraid. But He wants us to trust Him. Not halfway. Not just a little bit. But completely.

Be ALL IN.

So pray.  Ask away. And then thank Him. Thank Him now. 


Thank Him for what He’s about to do.