Friday, December 30, 2011

Building a Heritage of Prayer

Spiritual legacies are so important. That thought really drilled into my heart when my grandpa passed away in 2009. I realized how blessed I was to have a Godly man as a grandparent and someone whom left me a great legacy and heritage. I saw (and heard) how he came to know Christ and was amazed at how one choice affected several generations. You see, the fact that he accepted Christ and decided to live a life for the Lord affected my father. The same thing happened on my mother’s side of the family. Her father was also a Godly man whom I lost far too soon when I was only in the 5th grade. But again, his decisions and choices to walk for the Lord affected my mom. Both of my parent’s faith in turn affected me. Now, I am trying to “live it out” and instill a strong sense of faith in my own children. Generation to generation to generation.

Sometimes we see life so much in the “now.” We forget to look into the past to see maybe why we are the way we are and we also forget to look into the future.

I pray for my children and my spouse. And of course I pray for the spouses who will one day enter their lives. But do I pray for my future grandchildren or my great grandchildren? That’s something I’m giving more thought and intention to these days.

My grandparents told me shortly before the passing of my grandpa that they prayed for me every day. EVERY DAY. You know what? I don’t even know now what they prayed or how they prayed but it’s enough to touch my heart that they prayed. And who knows how God is continuing to answer those prayers even now? We look for such immediate responses that we can often forget that some answers may take years or even generations to unfold!

God made promises in the Bible that some generations never saw the answers to. But that didn’t mean He didn’t answer. In fact, He did. He always kept His word. For ours is a faithful God. So I can know that if I pray for a grandchild or a great grandchild that God hears my prayers – especially if those prayers are aligned with His heart and His will.

I may not be around to see my great grandchildren or my great great grandchildren. But they will come from me and will be a part of me. And I want to leave a mark and an impression that long outlasts my life. I want them to be men and women of integrity and great faith. What a gift I can give them if I would dedicate myself to praying for them!

Our prayers are powerful. We can build such a heritage if we will only call upon the name of the Lord. What a simple thing to do for those we claim to love so deeply.

Blog archives, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living a "Safe" Life

I’ve been thinking and pondering lately on life. A tough economy can cause you to think about a lot of things. Not only that, ever since I became a parent I have deeply dealt with life issues in my heart and head.

As a woman, there are certain “core” issues in life that matter greatly to me and I think; to most women. My safety and security is one of those “core” issues that matter to me.

I think most women have this innate need to feel protected. To know that they are safe and that their needs are met. And when we become a mom, this need only multiplies because we want to be safe so that our children don’t lose a parent, and we want our children to be safe!! It’s a BIG thing for us.

But God has been speaking to my heart in the last year about some of my fears. “Fear is not of the Lord,” you see. I can strive to be wise, discerning, live a balanced life and make the most of what I’m given… but that’s about all I have control over. The rest will happen whether I’m afraid or not.

I think that the Lord WANTS us to take risks. I think He DESIRES for us to go out there and live life to the full – taking a chance or two here and there. That doesn’t mean we should be stupid and squander all of our money, jeopardize our lives (or those near and dear to us), or be ignorant of the needs around us. But I do think it means to live life passionately and to make the most of our time here. For time can’t be bought back. Once a moment is gone… it’s gone forever.

Living a “safe” life is what WE are about. I don’t think it’s what my Lord is about. Safety is important to us. But to Him, saving lost souls is important.

We can isolate ourselves into a nice little life of “safe” living. But by doing so, we are just simply going through the routine and motions of life. We aren’t making a difference in any one else’s.

Of course I don’t want my children to lose a parent. Of course I don’t want anything to happen to them. That’s because of my great love for them. But just imagine how great God’s love is for the whole world and how many of HIS children are out there hungry, cold, alone, needy, and lost because it’s too “risky” or “unsafe” for us to go help them?

If everyone was afraid to go into the poorest part of town, who would reach those people for the Lord? Who would love them and care for them? If everyone were afraid to fly, who would go to parts of the world that needed help after Tsunamis, epidemics, and violence? If everyone kept their children in private Christian schools or home schools, who would minister to those precious children in the public education system? If we only socialized with Christians or those who go to our church, what would happen to our neighbors, or our co-workers?

I still deal with fears. I’m human. I still struggle to have courage in certain situations. But I believe that God wants me to LIVE for Him, not just be “safe” for Him. Because being safe is really just for me.

Blog Archives,  February 23, 2009

Monday, December 26, 2011

Is Anything Too Hard For Our Lord?

Do you ever feel tired, stressed out, beaten up, worn out, or bruised? Life tends to run us over sometimes doesn’t it? As a mom, there are so many days where we don’t feel that pretty. Our lives encompass a lot of “duty” in them. When we do tasks like laundry, cleaning toilets, making the bed, and sweeping – we don’t feel that glamorous. And then there are those single parents that don’t have a spouse to rely on to give them a break when they are worn out. There is the working mom who is juggling both her work and home environment. No one set of circumstances has all of the answers or perfect solutions to a life that won’t leave you feeling stressed out or tired at times. Its just “Life” – all of it will bring these feelings upon us at times.

I think of Genesis 18:14 where it says, “Is nothing too hard for our Lord?” and it brings me comfort. It reminds me of the God who molded and shaped beautiful hills and mountains with His own hand. It reminds me of a God who can bring plagues, raise someone from the dead, and part the sea.

If God can do miracles and do things that we don’t even dare think of, can’t He also help me get through a tough day? Can’t He help me fix something that is broken, find time to fit in my necessary chores, give me a few hours of much-needed sleep, or keep me safe? Can’t the God who helped David beat Goliath, the God who gave Esther the courage to save her people at the risk of death, also give me the strength I need to not yell at my children when I feel overwhelmed? Can’t He help me find the time to love on my children after a full day at work? I believe He can. I KNOW He can.

So often we forget that God cares about the details of our daily lives. I think we tend to ask for the BIG things because He is a BIG God. We may not think He cares about our laundry piles, broken dishwasher, or ant problem. But He does. He cares about them because He cares about us. NOTHING is too hard for our Lord. He is the best problem solver around!

God wants to get personal with us. He wants us to come to Him with things we think are silly or insignificant – yet things that are concerns or issues for us. He wants to amaze us and show us just how much He loves us. Just as you desire to show your children how much you love them!

We will have bad days. We will have moments where we just want to crash. But, we can be encouraged and remember in those moments and on those days that nothing is too hard for our Lord. Give Him a chance to show you just what He wants to do for you in your life. You’ll feel so wrapped up in His love, if you do. It just takes a little faith.

~ Blog Archives, March 31, 2008

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Let Your Man Be Strong

There is a movement in homes today. One that I see can possibly be very harmful. It is the movement of the woman becoming the “head of the household.”  She may not claim that she is, but she is.

Women are natural controllers. We are! We like to control our children’s behaviors, the clutter within our homes, what time we eat, WHAT we will eat, where we will go, our daily schedules and so much more. Without batting an eyelash, oftentimes, our control extends to our husbands. We tend to belittle them and emasculate them a little.

Our men are made just as God wanted them. We should not try to change them – yet pray for them and ask that God only enhance their strengths and whittle away at their weaknesses. Mind you, the things that God sees as weaknesses may not be the same things WE see as weaknesses!  And we need to allow them to be the head of the household.

It is a gift and a blessing to be able to nurture and care for our spouses.  They would move heaven and earth for us, if allowed to! We can enjoy their strength and the solidarity that it brings to our lives.  

When our homes are functioning the way that God intended them to, we can “feel” the rightness in it all. If we are trying to control things, it only tweaks everything out of proportion. Our husbands resent us for it, we are irritated and demanding because we don’t see them as sitting in the position that God intended for them and life just doesn’t live out the way that it’s supposed to.

I’ve learned that as much as I try, I can never control another person. They have free will and free choice. It is more in my best interest to learn how to live out by example and influence by my positive words, actions, love, and life than it is to ever force someone to do or be a certain way. Usually when I go at life in this approach I only harm the relationship or create resentful feelings.

Women – we need to fight against the world telling us that in order for our lives to be right we need to do things ourselves. We need to learn to let our men be strong for us and be the warriors that God intended for them to be. All they need is for us to give them a chance. They truly want to rise up and be an authentic man and we often get in their way and hinder them instead of being an asset in their lives.

Give your man a chance. Learn to relinquish that stronghold of control that you try to keep such a tight reign on in your home. It’s truly freeing to give up some of that responsibility that is not meant to weigh on your shoulders. Realize the value, importance, and reward that is to be found in YOUR position and watch how God can weave everyone together to function as He intended. You’ll all win if working on the same team instead of fighting amongst yourselves for the head position and you’ll each learn how your role was meant distinctly for you. No one else can fill those shoes but the person for which they were meant.

~ Blog archives, March 21, 2008

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Energy Of A Hug

I'm going to be stepping away from my blog until after the New Year. Time for me to be with my family and enjoy their preciousness in all the freedom and joy that it brings.

But never fear - there will still be words for you to read! I'm going to be re-hashing and re-using a few of my old posts on here. You might have missed one of them!

Enjoy. :)

~ Dionna

The Energy of a Hug

I have always been a hugger. I love hugs and how they make me feel on the inside. I never really thought about what it was that a hug gave me emotionally until one day recently when my daughter put it all into perspective for me. She told me that she needed some energy and she came to me with arms wide open and encircled my waste, giving me a huge, long hug. When she felt better and had a smile on her face, she went on her way, saying, “I have energy now!”

Hug = energy. That is so true! I know how much a hug can fill up an empty tank that I have on days when I’m feeling blue, low on self-esteem, or just “blah.” It also makes sense why, when my husband and I are having an argument or a disagreement that I tell him that I really need a hug at that moment. It’s because I feel low and need something to refuel and recharge me. That “something” is a hug.

I think hugs are more powerful than we realize. They can give someone the motivation they need to go on, they can encourage a heart that has been bruised and battered, and they can heal. A hug is a powerful energizer!

As a mom, there are so many days where our energy can get low, we can get stressed and we struggle with feeling tired or overwhelmed. Have you tried giving or getting a hug to help you get through those days? I encourage you to do just that. My daughter taught me that a hug can go a long, long way.

~ From the blog archives, February 13, 2008 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Words of Wisdom From My Grandpa

I came across this video today.  I took it about 2 1/2 years ago when I drove to Oregon to say "goodbye" to my grandpa. When I mean, "say goodbye" - I mean - he had two weeks to live. He was 90 years old and had been diagnosed with a very fast, very aggressive cancer.

This was taken on my very last breakfast with my grandpa. I miss him a lot but his strong faith continues to be an example to me.

Wise words.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Making Your Family That Much Better

How can you make your family better… stronger? And has that even been one of your goals?

It’s so easy to go through life on cruise control. We’re doing the basic functions of life - making dinner, doing laundry, giving our kids a bath, taking them to and from school, making sure homework is done, going to church, cleaning the yard….you get the idea. We do what needs to be done.

But what needs to be done on the “inside” of our family? The part that doesn’t always show itself? Are there areas that need to be improved and bettered?


We can overlook critical and important parts of the hearts and souls of those precious beings we are raising, if we aren’t careful. We can view that tug of war about keeping their room clean as the main battle, when the real battle is something that may be going on internally. 

We can see our husband’s indifference to our needs as selfish when in reality, something deeper is stirring that needs and begs for us to pay attention to it.

Are our kids strong? Not strong in physical strength but strong in self esteem, morals, and values.  Are our kids flourishing? Not in their own pride and ego but in generosity, humility, and kindness. Do our kids need more time with us to talk and share… or more space? Do they need to hear we accept them just as they are…. Or are they begging for us not to say anything at all and just back off for once?

And how can we improve ourselves? As a mom? A wife, and a woman? What little quirks and habits do we really need to begin to work on for our own betterment and the betterment of our family as a whole?

Family life can always be improved. There are always “holes” and things we miss, overlook, or fail to understand. If we can take one at a time, and work on improving it, bettering it and working with each person’s natural personalities and character – what an exciting way to strengthen bonds and growth in each person’s life! What a wonderful way to arm your family with every tool it needs to face the world each day.

Flexibility and attitude go a long way in a family. Be a team and work with each other to make each other better – and stronger.

Friday, December 16, 2011

We Like to Take the "Surprise" Out Of It

I have many prayer requests that I bring to God. Some, I bring on my knees. Others, I just lay before Him in my heart. But all of them are important enough to me to ask Him for help, guidance, wisdom, and sometimes rescue.

As with many of our prayer requests, time goes on. You pray more frequently. You pray harder – maybe you even “fast.” The intensity grows. Time still goes on. Some of us decide the answer is “no” and we either ease up in our prayers or we quit altogether. We give up hope. Others of us still pray, but not quite as fervently. Our passion has simmered. And even others of us decide that the quiet calm of hearing nothing isn’t good enough. We need to solve things on our own. And off we go.

We are controllers. We like things in neat, solvable packages. We don’t handle the unknown very well. We don’t like to embark on “risk” without knowing there is a way out, an escape, or a rescue that will happen.

I should know. I am one of you. I don’t like to head out into the unknown. I have to know what I’m facing. I like details and a clear picture. My questions need answers and I need to feel safe.

Often, God knows my heart and in His great love for me, He bends down and wraps up my neatly tied questions with clear-cut answers for me. He knows it brings me great security. But more often than that, He doesn’t. He is quiet.

There have been times where I’ve doubted and wondered at the lack of an answer. “Is God not happy with me?”  “Is my heart in the wrong place?”  “Does He care about this?”

But God drew my attention to something I read recently and put a whole new perspective on this issue for me. He showed me that sometimes His quiet response to my seeking has nothing to do with how He feels about the subject, or me. Sometimes, it may simply be that He wants to surprise me.

We often like to rob God of that delight and pleasure. The joy of a parent surprising their child out of love. We want things so controlled, so answered that we forge ahead without being patient long enough to see just what His power and great love for us can do. We grow weary of waiting. We lose hope. We lose faith in Him.

I love it when God chooses to surprise me. It is so exhilarating and brings such deep, deep thankfulness and appreciation to my heart. It makes me feel loved and it reminds me of who and what I’m living for.

God does say “no” to us sometimes. But sometimes, He may just be keeping a secret from us. One that needs a little more time before it can be unveiled into a great big, lavish surprise. I don’t want to regret blowing that or ruining that moment for Him – or me.  Do you?

Let us not lose heart. Let us not grow weary. Our God is FOR us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Just Never Know

You just never know.

Sometimes I write an article that I think is great. It came from the heart and flowed beautifully. I think everyone will be as impacted or as encouraged as I dreamed they would be. But they’re not. The article goes largely unnoticed with little fanfare or comment.

Other times, I write a piece that I’m not sure is very good. People come out of the woodwork and really relate to what I’ve written and I’m surprised, but delighted that simply being “real” in a quick piece, hit a chord with someone.

Life is like that.

You just never know who or when you will do something to impact someone else.

I heard it said once that oftentimes, the things we do to impact someone else the most, we’ll never know about. It may seem like a small choice or decision or simply sticking to something we believed in. But we will oftentimes not know till years later or even not know at all. The impact may only show fruit after we pass away.

Then there are those times where we make a big, bold move thinking it’s a life-altering move and it just fizzles. Nothing happens – before or after we’re gone. It didn’t have as huge of an effect as we thought it would.

That’s life.

That’s why being authentic is so important.  It’s important to live out our callings. We just never know what the “moment” will be for someone else.

Loving, living, and being who God intended us to be means everything. Obedience is everything.

You may feel like what you do and who you are doesn’t matter. You may get tired of the trivial or think that simply holding fast to your values doesn’t matter much to anyone else. But you just don’t know….

Stay in the race. Stand firm. Rise up. Be faithful.

God has you where you are for a reason. And He will use you when and where He wants to. He most especially likes to do it when you’re not all “hung up” on yourself or what you THINK you are doing that is so great.  So simply persevere. Live, love, laugh, and be diligent.

For you just never know….

*First published at Everyday Christian - June 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Heart of a Cowboy

My dad and I both have a love for western things. For me, it’s more about the look and feel that they bring to life. I love how deer antlers and a pair of cowboy boots strategically placed as “decoration” in a home, can somehow give off the vibe of “comfort” and “ease.” They kind of say “kick off your shoes, relax, and be yourself here with me.”

My dad likes western d├ęcor, as well. But his love also extends to cowboy movies and he reads a lot of books about cowboys.

I love that about him. To me, it says a lot about his character.

When I look at the origins of a “cowboy” – to me, it represents a hard working man. Someone who usually stood up for the law, and someone who radiated strength. No feminizing this man – he was a man’s man through and through. Yet he knew how to respect and treat a lady.

I miss that kind of man. We need more of them around.

I think our men have changed a lot over the years, in part, because we have pushed for it. Instead of letting them be the “wild,” “rugged” men that they were created to be, we started to control their environments and push them towards what we thought would be better for them. We contained them – like a lion or a tiger in a cage.

But there’s something in a man that cannot be contained – ever. You can change the outside of him, but inside he’s a man and he has a man’s heart. Just like you can’t change a woman. The wishes and dreams that live on in a little girl or a little boy – even if fragmented by life still live on in that adult form.  I think it’s that “part” of a man that draws him to action movies, the knight who comes in to rescue the maiden…and cowboys. It’s that “part” that we should encourage in him. For men like to be strong, they like to feel like they have what it takes to conquer the land (or the kitchen sink) and they like to take care of their women. It’s what makes them feel like a man.

Whether it’s a piece of driftwood that can be carved or sanded into a beautiful piece of artwork, or an animal skin that is hung on a wall – these pieces of native creation and representation of the land that God has given us are stunning reminders of the beauty that exists in its natural state. And it’s good to remember that we are beautiful in our natural state as well.

So encourage that “cowboy” in your son – the part that wants to lock up the bad guys and rescue the town. For it’s that part that is God-given and God-intended.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spending Our Lives Helping Others

It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. Ephesians 2:10 (LB)

Ever since I was young, my heart has desired to love on and help others. I’ve always been people-oriented. I helped in a nursing home temporarily, wanted to be a candy striper, was a special education assistant and more. It was just something I felt drawn to…helping others.

At first I thought this was just my personality. And I guess, in part, it was. But now I see that it is also a God-given calling. We were created to spend our lives helping each other.

Some of us are “behind-the-scenes” types. Others of us don’t mind being out there in front. Regardless of our personalities, I think almost every single one of us feels fulfilled and blessed when we can in turn, bless someone else. Whether it’s by fixing something, painting something, dropping off groceries or other more “behind-the-scenes” type jobs – or – whether it’s hands-on spending time with someone else talking to them and encouraging them…we are all called.

We all will be in a position at some point to be able to give, and to also need to be given to. We are here for each other. To encourage, uplift, love, support, and physically help. God made us this way. He put us here and He made us capable of helping each other through life.

So although I already enjoyed helping other people; I now feel a new sense of conviction about it knowing that my Heavenly Father placed that desire inside of me. And knowing that He knew I could fulfill the task. It’s the best way to spend my time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Northern Vs. Southern Sayings

We live in Idaho. All the way over to the right of us ____---------________---------------______________ we have dear friends who live in Georgia.

When we get together, one of our favorite things to do is to talk about how we talk. We love their Southern accent and expressions. It’s so fascinating how we can all live in the U.S. and yet see and say things so differently.

For example – when we go to the grocery store, we put our things into a “cart.” In Georgia? They call it a “buggy!”

When you are thirsty here in the Northwest, you get a drink out of a “drinking fountain.” In the south it’s a “water fountain.”

If you need help? Well, simple, right? You call the police! Nope! They call the “law!”

One of our favorites was when we were being given directions to go somewhere as we were driving around in Georgia. We were told to go to the “red light” and turn. We inquired, “What if it’s green?” ha ha They call all traffic lights “red lights.” When we explained that we call them “stop lights?” Their response was, “What if it’s a GO light?”

What I call my “expensive” shoes in the South they call “high dollar” shoes.

A purse? My friends call it a pocketbook. It took me a few minutes to figure out that one – I thought they meant their checkbook or wallet!

I say, “I’m getting ready to…” they say, “I’m fixin to…”

We drink “pop.” They drink “coke.” Doesn’t matter if it’s Dr. Pepper, Root Beer or Pepsi – it’s all called “coke.” Can be a little confusing if you are a coke lover like my husband!

We have earwigs here in Idaho. In Georgia, they have fire ants. (And I got bit by one – it hurts!) We all just figured the bugs we dealt with were everywhere in the U.S. Not so.

It’s good to remember that not everyone deals with life in the same way. We all have different challenges and adventures. Different strengths and weaknesses.

We are all the same. And yet we are different. We see life the same – yet through different lenses. We are better because of one another.

And I love it.

What a wonderful world God has given us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just Relax

We have a lot of expectations in our lives. We expect certain things out of our spouses, our children, our friendships, and our churches. We have been groomed to expect certain things for ourselves. 

We can get so very tense when anything goes slightly different than our “plan.” As parents, we can get irritated and frustrated quickly when our children slow us down, spit up all over their clean outfit, or do anything that deviates from the schedule we’d laid out in our heads.

We get in a hissy fit when our church changes the style of music it plays or drops a program from the schedule. Likewise, we put a lot of demands on our friendships and relationships.

There are certain codes of conduct that should always be maintained in life. Honesty, respect, compassion, courtesy. But sometimes the plain and simple fact is that we are too uptight. We’d enjoy people and circumstances so much better if we could simply learn to relax!  Flexibility is a great trait and it serves us well in life because we can adapt to situations much better. And life is all about throwing adventures and curve balls our way!

If we can talk to ourselves internally and prepare ourselves to handle things that may be out of our control, we will have a better outlook and attitude when they occur. We cannot control everything in our environment. In fact, we are lucky if we can control a few things in our environment. Our stresses and frustrations will ease off of our shoulders if we can relax more often and let ourselves accept those inconveniences and issues that aren’t in our “plan.” Oftentimes, great lessons and moments are to be found in the unplanned!

I know when I decide ahead of time to make the choice to have a flexible and relaxed attitude, I enjoy things much more. I can laugh easier, smile more, and realize that sometimes I pick battles where battles should not be picked.

In short, I’m happier when I lay my pride and my “demands” to the side and let life just naturally happen.

Being and feeling internally relaxed is more about a choice of the heart than it is about an outward appearance. It’s simply about being bendable, workable, and adaptable.  I want those qualities to be said about me. How about you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why Are People So Rude?

I wonder. Why do people have to be rude? Like, when you are enjoying someone or something and you make a comment and someone has to insert a comment that makes you feel…well…either small or silly. 

It’s obvious they did it on purpose
. They wanted to “one-up” your conversation or moment. And I really, really hate that.

Why is it that people get joy out of ruining someone else’s sunshine? Why do people  feel the need to mar someone else’s excitement?

I think it’s because of insecurity.

For whatever reasons we hold inside, we are insecure. We feel left out at times, overlooked, underappreciated, or maybe – just plain jealous, because we aren’t that confident in who we are as people. So we “insert” that word, that phrase, that little “barb” that we KNOW will get under someone else’s skin.

However you look at it….it comes down to the fact that it’s really just not very nice.

And do you want to be a “not-very-nice” kind of person? I know I don’t!

We are not bigger people just because we made someone else feel small. We are not better or smarter people because we exposed someone else’s error or made them feel silly. We just aren’t. In fact, we’d only be bigger, better, and smarter people if we let those things go WITHOUT drawing attention to them.  That’s what would elevate us.

We can all choose a higher road. It’s just that most of the time, we let our feelings get the best of us. And we just HAVE to say that “thing.” We HAVE to insert that comment.

All it will do is backfire on our image.

So maybe we can give it some more thought next time. Sit on it awhile.  And decide that instead of being rude and saying what we could leave unsaid…that we will be the classier person and let that thought go.

In the process, we just might find our self esteem grow a little bit. Because it’s just never nice to not be nice.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exactly Who You Are Is Just Enough

When the world says you don’t have what it takes, do you know that you are enough?

We have all gone through those times where we felt like we just didn’t measure up. Those times make us feel so small.

Those are the times where we often dig deep. Writing into our journals or working fervently creating some sort of beautiful something that God has gifted us to create. Sometimes we turn to food for our comfort or shopping. Maybe we drown ourselves with the wrong people or isolate ourselves all together. It’s all done to medicate ourselves and somehow try to fill that well inside of us that feels so empty.

The world can tell us we don’t have what it takes. We don’t have the right image. The right talents. The right personality. It can see when we try so hard to give of ourselves in order to be loved – and it can take every last ounce of our efforts from us….leading us on, only to reject us and spit us out in the end. And that leaves us feeling so low and so unworthy.

I’m here to tell you that the world is wrong. Those “others” in your life – they are wrong.

You ARE beautiful. You ARE worthy. You ARE loveable and you DO have what it takes. You were made to be exactly who you are. Sure, maybe you can improve on certain areas – but your core identity – that’s YOU. That’s who you are supposed to be. You have something to add. Something to give. Something to share. Your opinion DOES matter.  You DO have a place in this world.

Exactly who you are is just enough.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Being Happy With Less

I have an account on Formspring.  Basically, it is a place where people can ask you questions.  Recently someone asked me what kind of financial advice I would give to a young married couple.  Here is my reply:

 The best financial advice I could give a young married couple is "be happy with less." Oftentimes, young couples want to have or be where someone who has been married 15 or 20 years is. But those couples have worked for years to be where they are and to have what they have! 

I remember when I first got married, we had a fold-up card table as our kitchen dining table and we used my old hope chest as a coffee table. And we were happy. Completely happy because they were OUR things and it was OUR place. Even if our first home was an apartment. 

Be happy with less.

 With that being said, be wise. Look at where your money is going. Chances are there is something you have a hard time giving up. Is it clothes, eating out, movies??? In order to get ahead as a couple, you need to sacrifice.

 Ask advice from parents or older couples who seem to be managing their money wisely. It may seem humbling, but honestly, most couples start out struggling and looking back, those are very tender-building years. I'm willing to bet that most parents would be more than happy to share what they've learned along the way to help you avoid some pitfalls! Just because it seems like they couldn't understand your struggles based on where they are now, doesn't mean that they've never been there. 

There is so much more that can be said on this topic. But if you follow the general rule of "be happy with less" - I think it will help you focus on where you are, and where you need to be. Hard work truly pays off in the long run. But it takes commitment and time. Everything you earn or get along the way means so much more and is so much more rewarding if you've worked hard to get there - on your own two feet.

I think the biggest struggle for young couples isn’t to simply “meet their basic needs” but it’s this inner struggle of trying to meet the basics and “then some.”  It is very hard to truly “sacrifice.” Image is everything nowadays. So everyone wants that car, that house, that screen TV, those clothes, and to be able to do the things they’ve always done.

Unless both people in a marriage relationship are working hard to meet those demands, they will certainly catch up with you quickly!

I’ve seen many times how young couples don’t have enough discipline in their own lives but then continually ask those around them for help. And this can turn into the cry of “wolf” if couples aren’t careful. For most families are more than happy to help someone who is truly down on their luck. But if they notice they are being used or taken for granted (or even notice a lack of restraint on your part) you can bet the help will be withdrawn.

There is nothing wrong with struggle.  It teaches you a lot. What feels good is knowing that you are making it on your own – without help from others, if possible. Even if you are extremely tight – at least you’re doing it.  Don’t let the “beast” of life – the machine that tells you you’re nobody without certain things dictate how you live.

You always need to look at the bigger picture. Look down the road. If you want to have a child in a few years, start saving now. If you want to have a home in a few years, start saving now. Don’t wait until the time arrives and then realize you weren’t very wise with your money in the meantime. Always be saving a little extra for the future. But yes, enjoy life too! Just don’t be reckless.

Starting out in life with a spouse is a great adventure. Have fun – even if that means only getting pizza every two months and getting your movies at the library so you can watch them for free. Everything can be fun if you have the right attitude.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

God Has a Great Way of Keeping Me Humble

God has  a great way of keeping me humble. Of giving me compassion for others just when I might be on the edge of losing empathy.

I’m so thankful He does that in my life. Even if in the moment it’s often not the most fun. Because that’s the kind of person I want to be – the end result is that I want to be a humble, compassionate person. And to be honest, sometimes in life, I just lose those qualities. I grow a little harder. A little colder. A little less sympathetic. And God needs to remind me of a few things.

God needs to have me deal with health issues in order to feel compassion for those who constantly struggle with their health.

God shows me how it feels to be lonely so that I can empathize with the one who is all alone.

God allows some of my wishes and dreams to be dashed on the rocks in order for me to see that I am so blessed. It also shows me that I can’t simply tell someone “Just do it!” It can’t always be done.

God shows me in gentle ways, and in abrupt ways – how I need to watch my tongue, soften my heart, stop my judgement, slow my assumptions, and forgive more readily.

I am in need of grace. I have been in need of mercy. I have stuck my foot in my mouth. I have judged. I have had a hardened heart. I have failed to forgive at times. I have been proud. Yes, I have done and been all of these things. Some in moments, some lasting longer.

God doesn’t like to leave me there (for which I am SO thankful!) Just when I think I know something decisively, He shows me how little I really knew. Just when I stand my ground in firm decision; He shows me how much ground I have yet to walk.

For He loves me. That’s what a Father does. He does what is best for His child when He knows they have so much more potential to give.

This world can so easily chip away at our character. Without seeing or knowing it, bit by bit, we harden. We turn our back. We ignore. Bit by bit.

I’m so glad my Lord continues to readily soften me. Turn me back around and bend me.

I could always use more compassion, more empathy, and more humility in my heart and in my life.

*Originally published at - August 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Soaking In the Moments

Those moments. You know those moments when they come. They are the moments when you stop what you are doing and take in your life and loved ones. You fully engage in the moment and you smile. You are happy. You are blessed. And you know it. You feel it.

Maybe it’s laying in bed and hearing your teen singing or playing a musical instrument from their room. Maybe it’s hearing your children giggle, laugh, and enjoy each other. Or maybe it’s when one of them is feeling hurt or wounded, and the other one reaches out to them in love.

Sometimes the moment comes amidst activity. You listen to the sounds in your house and they make you happy for you know one day it will be all too quiet.  Maybe it comes in the form of realizing how endearing an action or habit is of someone in your home. You wouldn’t have them any other way.

I love those moments. I love it when I can “still” myself long enough to realize how much I truly love those moments and things about the people I cherish. I often close my eyes and just soak them in.

Oh if we could engage in those moments more often! Those things we often overlook or ignore are often the very things we will one day miss. 

I love to walk by my youngest daughter’s room and see the mess on her desk. For it signals that she has been feverishly and creatively working on something. I love hearing my oldest daughter sing while she is in the shower. I love hearing my husband run up and wrestle with the girls and invite them in to a time of bonding through laughter.  I love hearing both of my girls rock out to their favorite tunes in the car or just “hearing” them around me at home. I’m so glad they are here.

These are the moments I treasure. And there are so many more. So many little things that I cling to. That I love.

I hate that life often lures me away from noticing. From relishing. From smiling and loving. And I’m so thankful that God often draws me back to what my heart craves the most. Those special and unique things that radiate from those who I love the most in this world.