Monday, January 31, 2011

His Name Was Reuben Larson

His name was Reuben Larson. He was an older gentleman in my church and for some reason, he made a big impression on me as a child.

He never got my name right. He called me “Di-own-uh.” But I didn’t mind, really. In fact, I kind of liked the way he said it. It was as if I were precious to him.

Reuben always had a huge open-armed hug ready for me; complete with a huge grin to match. He gave me a children’s Bible storybook that has now gone through me and both of my girls. It’s falling apart but I just can’t bear to get rid of it. Maybe it’s because Reuben was so dear to me. He was so special to that young girl.

I’ll never forget seeing Reuben in the hospital or observing how yellow his skin looked. You see – Reuben had cancer. But he still greeted me with those open arms and that huge smile – “Di-own-uh!” He would say. Delighted to see me.

I cried and cried when Reuben went to heaven.

I’m thinking of Reuben today and wondering who my children will look back on and find dear to them. Who took a special interest in them and loved on them in their own special way? Who prayed for them and encouraged their walk with God? Who was a Godly example to them outside of our home and family?

More than that…am I investing in the lives God has placed around ME? Will someone look back on me tenderly and see how I took the time to find them precious?

I hope and pray that I can influence and impact someone’s life for the better…even if it’s only with a smile and a big hug. Just like Reuben Larson did for me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Do You Know?

When you have a growing/burning wish or desire for something in your do you know it's God who put it there… or just your own selfish wants and dreams?

I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are You Tired of Having to Be Brave All The Time?

“I’m tired of being brave.”

Have you ever felt that way? I sure have. There have been times where I just wonder why I have to go through yet another “thing.” Why things have to be so hard.

I know my life is very blessed. Yet there have always been certain areas of it that have never come easy. In fact, there have been areas where I’ve wondered what the gain was in them at all! They just seem cursed.

The thought crossed my mind recently of feeling tired of having to be brave all of the time. I didn’t want to be a brave warrior. I just wanted to be protected, spared, and chosen to be sheltered. .............Read more of my post over here at (In)Courage today........

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Regardless of Age - Rhema Marvanne

God can use anyone. Regardless of age.

I was really touched and "wowed" by this little girl.

Listening to her sing brings tears to my eyes and I get chills.  Make sure you watch till the end to see how you can download her song "Note To God" free.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saying Yes To God's Plan

I believe that God has a calling on each one of our lives. Sometimes our free will and choice can mess with that calling. Still, He has dreams for us. Goals. Purposes.

I’ve always believed that God has a special calling on my life. Maybe that calling is bigger than what I can dream for myself. Maybe where I am now is not truly where He is calling me – maybe it’s not the end call but only the beginning.

I find it interesting that as much as I have felt called to certain things in my life, I’ve still fought against God on them. You see, I’ve wanted to fulfill those callings on my terms and within my comfort zones when often God wants to take me outside of those boundaries. He loves to mess with my comfort zones! I told someone once that I’m never comfortable because God never sees fit to let me rest where I’m comfortable. And I still find that to be true for the most part.

Lately, I’ve decided to simply “obey” God on some things. They are things that make me initially panic and fearful. Things I feel ill-equipped for yet things that God seems to be repeatedly bringing up in my life. So I’ve decided to give it a rest and give up my pride and simply obey Him. Just think. I may be doing what He’s asked of me all along… to obey.

Do you know what I’ve discovered in my early early beginnings of obeying Him? I stop worrying as much about messing up. Not only that, but God gives me the courage I need to do what it is He has asked of me. You see – where God calls us – God equips us. We can stop worrying about the delivery or the presentation we give within that calling because He is in control of the outcome. He has an end result in mind and He is simply choosing to use us to achieve it. And achieve it, He will!

I try to control my life too much. God continues to show me that when I want a clear and slow schedule, He wants my time to be used for Him. He has plans for how I use my minutes and my days and I might as well go with His plan because if I don’t go of my own free will, He can choose to take me there kicking and screaming! (Which I have also done. )

We say we have faith in God for all sorts of things but when it comes down to how He wants to use us and our own self esteem issues and inadequacies, we often drop faith at the door. Why is that? Don’t we trust Him with the thing He loves the most – us?

In my own eyes, I may never meet up to the expectations I have for myself in certain areas. But I know that that doesn’t matter to God. He just asks that I obey. If I can enjoy the process and loosen up on my own perfectionistic standards as a result – well then, I think that is even better. For me – not Him.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Doing Christian or Being Christian?

I grew up in the church. I remember Sunday School, flannel boards, wearing a nice dress, and hymnals before the church switched over to words on an overhead projector, attending in jeans, and using video lessons.

I’ve heard many Bible stories and many different pastors over the years. I’ve been in countless auditoriums and gymnasiums and seen thousands of people “doing” church. I’ve seen people shake hands (because they were told to) and hug. As a child who sat in church, I watched many adults. I saw how they reacted to each other and what they said. I observed. I watched and I took it all in. I watched these same adults outside of church and I quickly saw who took living life as a Christian seriously, and who just did church on Sundays.

I think sometimes we feel good about ourselves for attending church. We’re there and we can tune the sermon out or listen politely and then go about our normal lives of preference. It’s another thing altogether to “be” the church – 24/7.

Are you “Doing” the Christian thing or are you “being” the Christian thing? When you “do” Christian – it doesn’t stick in your life. It comes and goes, with ebbs and flows. When you “do” Christian, you put on a face, a stance, and a pose. But it’s not who you are. At some point, the mask will drop and you’ll revert to your human nature, letting it rule your life.

If you desire to “be” a Christian – it overtakes you. It rules you. It becomes you. Nothing you say, do, or participate in can be by accident because you always filter it with the eyes and heart of a believer. You are careful; intentional.

“Doing” Christian doesn’t get you saved and it doesn’t get you to heaven, for the Lord knows your heart. “Being” Christian does. It may cost you friends, and even your image – but it’s the only way to go.

There is no “half-way” with God. No going through the motions. Either you’re committed or you’re not. Which one are you?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It Wasn't Until I Started Reading Blogs....

It wasn’t until I started reading blogs that it occurred to me to take pictures of my food. I never thought to take photos of treasured heirlooms or record a way I’d decorated for the holidays.

Reading other people’s blogs and seeing their pictures has shown me just how many moments you can capture of a lifetime. Whether it’s a child studying for a test, a grumpy face, or a fun moment of celebrating an award – blogs have shown me how I can capture these everyday moments and have them forever.

Now, I look at everything with different eyes. I think about the fact that I might want to remember that meal I had on a special vacation; so I snap a picture of it. I contemplate a special note written on a white board by a child – and I take a picture.

Snapshots in time.

Something I might have overlooked or never thought about recording, had it not been for blogging.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gotta Have Me a Man!

I am raising two young ladies. I’m trying to instill a strong sense of self esteem and self worth in them. If I can do that with their friends as well; if I can help mentor them from time to time – well, that would be a double blessing to my heart.

Of course many things concern me in this day and age. (I sound like my grandma, when I say that, but it’s true.) Just one of the things that concerns me is the growing “need” of middle school girls to have to have a boyfriend. I am seeing it more and more.

With texting, boys and girls can communicate much more often than we did as kids. I barely talked to boys outside of school when I was a kid. Now, girls can talk to them often and even if they are shy, a small text is doable to them. With that, comes flirting and of course at their age, boys and girls are increasingly becoming interested in one another anyways.

You may or may not be aware of it (depending on what age kids you have) but at the junior high and middle school age especially; it is very common to have a boyfriend, break up in a few days, and then get a different one. At the rate some of these young girls are going – they will have “dated” every guy in their class by the time they are seniors!

What concerns me is not the fact that a middle school girl may have a boyfriend although that comes with its own burdens. What concerns me is the fact that middle school girls seem to think they NEED to have a boyfriend. I’ve witnessed comments such as, “I’m thinking I need to get a boyfriend” to “Why don’t you hook up with (so and so)” and “Don’t worry, I’m still single too.”

Why such the need to have a guy on their arm? Why are they so driven to have a boy in their life? Do our young girls feel like they are only valuable if they have a boyfriend? These are great concerns to me.

Parents, we need to talk to our kids. Even boys are flipping from girl to girl – so it shouldn’t just be left to the parents of daughters. But, we need to spend time with our kids and make sure they know they are not ugly, weird, or unloveable if they don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. We need to encourage them to get to know the opposite sex first, instead of merely getting together because you think someone is “hot.” (And believe me, that word is used a lot!)

In an increasingly look-driven society, it’s up to us to help our kids feel good about themselves. Growing up is tough and all sorts of hormones are going crazy. Encouraging our children to enjoy their own company and to become confident in who they are before dragging someone else into their lives in a complicated relationship, will not only be beneficial to them – but possibly one of the best gifts we could give them.

There will be plenty of time for dating later on. Middle school may be our kids’ last chance to hold onto some of their innocence. Let’s encourage it, support it, and invite it. Let’s help our kids feel worthwhile, wanted, and valued. If they don’t find it from us, they will look for it elsewhere.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I hate being misunderstood. It is one of the most frustrating things ever. To have to explain yourself. I just hate it.

I can’t stand it when people have the wrong interpretation, vibe, or view of me or something I’ve said or done. It just really gnaws at me. Yet I have been learning the past couple of years that sometimes it really has nothing to do with me at all. Sometimes a misunderstanding comes purely from where someone else stands and views life. And you can’t always change their view or position. Of course, that’s hard too. But God has been showing me something in a very tender way (for He knows that’s how I need to hear things at times). He’s been showing me that I won’t die if I’m misunderstood. I won’t fall apart. And most importantly – that sometimes I just shouldn’t explain myself.

God is often misunderstood. Sometimes He may choose to reveal a truth to us, other times; He doesn’t. He leaves us to seek and figure things out for ourselves. Sometimes in our lives, that’s what is needed too.

If someone doesn’t know my heart and character; no amount of explaining myself is going to change how they see things. They just don’t know my heart and soul! They see things on a level that exists because of where their heart is and on how they WANT to see things. I won’t be able to win no matter what I do. It will only cause me great stress to bend over backwards and take every last breath I have trying to explain myself. It will be like dust in the wind.

I’m learning (the hard and slow way) that sometimes if I know I’ve had pure intentions and motives and that my heart has been right with God – that I have to be satisfied with that. I’ve got to leave the misunderstanding untouched by me. God has very clearly been speaking to my heart in the past year about being still and letting Him do the working and moving in my life instead of the striving coming from me all of the time. That’s a hard lesson for a sanguine to learn! But it’s an important one for there are great truths and deep meaning to be found in the quiet moments of life where we simply observe and listen.

I still hate being misunderstood. I hate it when someone gets me totally wrong. Not only do I hate it when they get my actions wrong but I hate it when they get “ME” wrong. Who I am and what I’m about. But I’m beginning to see that sometimes it’s just not even about me in the end. It’s about them and what they want to see.

Life certainly is not fair and we don’t always get a fair shake – even if we deserve one.

God can take our injustices, our mistreatments and misunderstandings and He can work in beautiful ways if we hand them over to Him. He won’t let us be shamed or embarrassed if we are remaining obedient to Him. Knowing my heart is right with Him has to be able to override any misunderstanding that may occur in the meantime.

That has to be enough for us. For me.

“It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you.” Prov. 29:25.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Concoctions

I like some weird food combos sometimes. To me, actually, I don't think they are weird. But my family sometimes does.

Take this morning, for instance. I was eating a small bowl of cooked oatmeal with a little peanut butter, some chocolate chips, and a few grape nuts thrown in for good crunch. I LOVE IT. It's fairly healthy (hey - the choc chips don't count for much) and yummy.

I also like a tortilla with peanut butter lathered on it, some cut up bananas, and choc chips - rolled up.

The girls have taken to liking my vanilla yogurt with chocolate chips.

Do you see a theme with my chocolate chips? HA HA - Sometimes you just need that little bit of something sweet in the morning.

I love to mix my own soups together. I love Progresso Light Chicken Noodle. I will throw in some rice, some beans (usually garbanzo but sometimes black beans), some cooked chicken (I usually throw leftover in the freezer so have some shredded ready to go) and occasionally some corn. It's sooo good. If I need more broth I throw in another can of chicken broth. Sometimes if I have leftover spaghetti, I'll even throw some leftover spaghetti noodles into the mix or a little chopped onion. It makes a good amount so I'l throw the extra into tupperware and freeze for yummy lunches.

I love potato chips and salsa. Not tortilla chips and salsa (which I also like) but POTATO CHIPS and salsa. I think it's something about the salt. But I haven't had this in a long time. Trying to stay away from that fattening addiction. But it's reallly good.

I'm sure there's more. I don't know what it is - but something in the last year or so has gotten me adding things together like this.

Others may think I'm weird - but it works for me! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trapped In Commitments

I’m the kind of person who loves to give. I love to give of myself. I also love to follow through. I pride myself on staying true to my word. So if I say I will do something, then I do it.

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if that might not be a little bit of a problem in my life. You see, sometimes I feel swamped and overwhelmed. I have a lot on my plate. I don’t always feel that way but when holidays enter the picture or it’s time for sports to kick in – I see how little “wiggle” room I truly have in my life.

Some of my commitments I entered because I believed that God wanted me to. Whether it was simply to serve Him or it was because I thought it would be a fun way to give of my time – I say “okay.”

Some of my commitments asked little of me. They were only “once in awhile” type things.

Some of my commitments were forced. They were there because of my children’s activities and life in school.

Some of my commitments are truly loves of my life. Things that I feel like I was meant to be doing and that I enjoy.

And – some of my commitments started out small – but somehow requested more of me and my time as time went by.

So, I’m at the point where I’m asking God for some direction. There is not much room to take anything new on unless I give something up. That’s hard to do when you feel like you promised someone or gave your word to be involved in something. And personally, I just have a hard time quitting things. I have a hard time letting go.

But God is showing me that time goes by far too quickly. Having children only highlights the passing of time in your life. And I want my days to be purposeful and I want to use my time wisely for Him.

I’m asking God to show me what my priorities should be. What does HE want to be on my schedule? What truly matters and what is just “busy” work? What did HE call me to do? What few things can I truly do well instead of doing a lot of things sort-of well? What is it time to let go of so that I can enjoy life more?

As I pray and seek God’s guidance on what I devote my time to, may you do the same. It’s important to be people of our word, but sometimes we simply get trapped in commitments that have long since spent their time in our lives and need to be moved on to someone else’s.

If there’s ever a time to reevaluate how we spend our days – it’s now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sleep Is Not a Job

I hate it when seasons of life get so busy that you just run through your day at full-tilt and then crash into bed at night; only to begin the same thing the next morning. It’s as if sleep is a chore or a job that is just squished into the events of life.

That just doesn’t work for me.

For me – sleep is restorative. It refreshes and renews me. It gives me strength. Peace. Focus.

I hate it when I fall into bed and close my eyes knowing I’ll be asleep in less than 10 minutes because I’m so exhausted. I hate that as soon as I close my eyes, it feels like the night is over and I have to open them and start running through my day again. I just don’t feel like that is what sleep was intended to be like for us.
I think the words “sleep” and “rest” should go hand in hand. Sleep should feel restful. If it doesn’t, something needs to be readjusted in our lives. Certainly there are seasons where sleeping may feel like a chore or just another project on the list that needs to get done. But those times should be short-lived. Other wise – we may be short-lived!

I believe in sleep. I believe in rest. I thrive on it!

How do I prefer to sleep? I prefer to lay down in my bed a short while before I actually go to “sleep.” Whether it’s reading a book, chatting with my husband, or (yes) catching some tv to wind down – I like a little time to let my body calm down before bedtime. I prefer the same thing when I wake up. I like time to slowly rev up for my day. Of course with kiddos, this isn’t something I’m often granted. But it’s what I prefer and how I operate the best.

Being a parent means that our sleep-time is often relegated to the back-burner. Sometimes that’s a “must” in our lives as we prioritize our families. But other times, we need to prioritize ourselves, and that means getting a good night’s sleep. It means resting more than our eyes, but resting our hearts and souls.

Sleep is not a job.

It should be more like a temporary vacation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Run To You

I was feeling pretty emotional that morning. I think I was tired and a little worn down, so my emotions were just below the surface. But also, I was feeling some “woe is me” kind of feelings. I knew that it was temporary. They were the kinds of feelings where I could see the bigger picture, but I was still feeling “blue” a little bit.

No matter what I did, nothing seemed to help. It was just one of “those” days. I felt distracted, unfocused, and down in the dumps.

Only one thing helped. Out of everything I tried – only one thing helped. Can you guess what it was?

It wasn’t food. It wasn’t my walk on the treadmill.

It was when I turned to God. That was my only bright spot in the day. Go figure.

God was the only one who could lift my spirits. As well He should.

He wants us to run to Him, come to Him, and lean on Him when we are feeling down. He wants to love on us, restore us, bless us, and reassure us. I’m so thankful He never tires of me coming to Him – for some days I need A LOT of reassurance!

The thing that gets me is why I seem to run to Him AFTER I’ve tried all the other stuff. Why is He sometimes an afterthought? Why do we try to carry on in our own strength when we know perfectly well that it is HIS strength and His strength alone that will renew, revive, and restore?

Lord, I’m so thankful I can run to you. I’m so thankful that your arms are always open to me and that you are faithful, understanding, and true. Thank you for encouraging me on so many days and in so many moments that could have overtaken my heart.

I love you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Look At Me - Look At Me!

Authenticity. It’s something I am constantly striving for in my own life. I want to be an authentic, genuine, REAL woman. I don’t want people to ever feel like they get pretenses with me.

There’s something kind of off-setting about the life of a writer. For me, (and I assume a lot of other writers) we enjoy some solitude. It’s in the quiet moments of life that we can get contemplate, think, and soak up life. It’s when we have time by ourselves that we get reflective and can pen our deep introspections to paper.

Yet in order to get your words read – you usually have to promote them. In the life of bloggers and internet writers, marketing is something that propels you to the masses. If you don’t tout your achievements, you get overlooked quickly…and forgotten.

This ambitious nature of getting noticed is something I am constantly struggling with. The more people know about me, the more hearts I can impact. Hopefully, with my words, the more souls I can inspire and motivate in a positive way. One of my greatest burdens is the fact that there are so many lonely people out there navigating life as if no one cares. They are hurting. They are broken. And they are wounded.

I want to reach them. I want to help them feel loved.

Yet – the two-edged sword comes out. The more broadcasting you do about your work, your site, or your ministry – the more you end up promoting yourself. Bragging, as it were.

That’s the part I struggle with.

I want to let people know I’m here, yet I don’t want to focus on me. Because without “Him” I wouldn’t be doing what I do. I wouldn’t be me.

I don’t want to look back on my life and see that it was a marquee simply shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” No, I want my life to be one of humility, grandiose love, and audacious prayers and dreams.

I’m thinking the more we do without public notoriety or anyone noticing, the more authentic we are. The more genuine our hearts are. And maybe the more we do with the knowledge of getting noticed ….well, the less pure we are in motives and intent.

“Lord, may you help me balance on this fine line. May I never promote myself to the point that it’s all about me and you are simply overlooked and ignored. You are the true author of every word that comes out of my heart.

I’d rather be happy with who you’ve made me to be, than ever sell my soul to be known to a nation.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stay Soft

I have a pretty tender heart. I cry at commercials and have even been known to shed a tear over a touching line in a comedy television show. Sappy or not – I’ve always embraced the sensitive side of my heart. I like it. It keeps me humble and it reminds me to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Being tender is good.

I’ve noticed that it’s easy to get hard. As tender as I feel I am, my heart has battled bitterness, cold, and resentment. It’s easy to let those things creep in – especially when you’ve been hurt or wounded. It’s easy to tighten your jaw and your fist, when you feel you’ve been neglected or even overlooked for a long period of time. It’s far too easy.

I’ve witnessed a sense of boldness come over individuals. I love being honest. In fact, I value it highly. But I don’t value bold honesty that comes with the price of wounding another.

I think we find it easier to be bold and tough in a way to protect ourselves. It’s like an outer shell that we think will thwart any and all attacks that may come our way.

But, I have to tell you something. Being a tender person means I get hurt. Sometimes, often. It’s never fun. In fact, it’s painful. But I wouldn’t trade those moments. Not if that means I have to become hardened. It’s not worth it to me to protect myself if that means trading in the very softness of heart that I believe God gave me. For so many beautiful moments have opened my eyes and come into my world purely because of that tender and soft spot that He created!

Life gives us a beating sometimes. No one seems to escape a lashing or two from time to time. But if we grow cold because of what we’ve gone through, then it seems to me that the one who gave that lashing wins. He/she (or them) have gained a victory not only over an event in our lives, but over our very beings. Because they have taken away a piece of our hearts. It’s up to us not to let them!

Lean into the Lord; hard, if you have to. Lean into Him and let Him tend to those tears that reside in your heart. Let Him heal and use what you’ve been through as a ministry to help others. Let Him show you the beauty that comes with staying soft. Only then will you live a life of victory. Only then, will you see with true vision. An open heart means open eyes – and that benefits all of us