Sunday, January 29, 2017

Courage Is In Short Supply

"Courage is in short supply these days." I heard that phrase from General Jerry Boykin.  It gave me chills, because he nailed it. He is SO right.

Courage IS in short supply these days.... especially from believers.

I'm not talking about the kind of courage someone would envision. The kind of courage that is ready to physically fight an intruder. No. I'm talking about a spiritual kind of courage. A kind of courage that is ready to stand for a faith it says it believes in.

That kind of courage is scary. It's scary, because it risks being laughed at. Misunderstood. Ridiculed. Hated. Left lonely.

But that's what God asks us to do.

General Boykin made an interesting statement. He said that often, Christians talk about how "God is in control." And He is. His sovereign hand is over everything. But he observed how we often use that statement as an excuse, to sit back and do nothing.


We don't take a stand for what's right. We don't let our voices be heard.

Do you know why some people constantly fill up our news screens? Because they are speaking - no shouting - loud enough for their voices to be heard. Even if they are aimless, they believe in what they are standing for and they aren't afraid to say it and stand for it.

Why aren't we?

I don't want to constantly "zip my lips." I want to speak wisely, and gently. I want to stand with love for humanity. But I also want to speak for what is morally right. I want to stand for my faith. I want to stand for all that is good.

It has to be done the right way; but it has to be done.

God doesn't NEED us to fight for Him. But He WANTS us to. 

I would never abandon my family without fighting for them. If they were lost, I would search for them until I found them. If they were attacked, I would defend them. I expect the same out of myself for a Lord that I say rules my heart and my life.

I HAVE to stand up. I HAVE to speak up. I can't be afraid what others think. Political or not. Spiritual or not. Emotional or not. Physical or not.

I am an heir to the kingdom. And I am here to defend and stand for its legacy. I am here, to fight for its cause. In love. In dignity and integrity.

Are you?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

It's Time to Label Yourself With a New Identity

We all like to hide the things we aren’t proud of. Those flaws and scars that we’d rather pretend aren’t there. I’m talking not just about the emotional flaws and scars we’ve gotten in life, but the physical ones, as well.

We like to hide the varicose veins, the scar on our stomach, the tooth that is fake, and the toes that are crooked.  Most people don’t know about them. Why show off something that isn’t pretty? So, we camouflage it.  We use makeup, clothes, and doctors. If we can.

Some of us can’t hide our physical flaws.  We can’t hide the braces, the lazy eye, the thinning hair, or the heavier weight gain. It’s there for all to see.

And it’s not fair. Not in the way that we can’t hide it, but that we feel “not normal” in some way. That so many people forget that they are hiding their own flaws, so they look weirdly at those of us who can’t.

I can guarantee you, that EVERYONE has a flaw somewhere. Whether it’s two different colored eyes, a mole, or a birth mark – everyone has something that makes them unique and distinct. If only we could see those things as beautiful, instead of as blemishes!

If only we told each other about our flaws. Our physical AND our emotional ones. If only we could see that if we brought them out into the light, that they would lose their powerful hold on our identity.

No one wants to feel like they are different. But the thing is? We are ALL different. And we are all the same. We all feel the same things. We all want to be valued. We want to belong. We want to feel lovely.

Maybe if we looked at flaws as things that make us stronger, instead of weaker, we’d look at them differently? Maybe we could see that they are simply tools we can use to help someone else who is hurting. If we could see that, maybe we would grow to not just endure them, but use them to our advantage?

I know I will probably always hate some of my flaws. But the thing is – I never hate someone else’s nearly as much, as I hate my own. I can usually see past the image, to the heart. And I can find someone beautiful. I’m betting a lot of people can, because there is so much beauty to be seen.

It’s US that labels OURSELVES. It’s US that teaches one another what TO and what NOT to accept.

We can love one another despite the flaws and scars we’ve gained in life. And if we can love one another, maybe we can learn to love ourselves too.

Bring those flaws out into the light. Don’t let them hold you hostage anymore.

It’s time to label yourself with a new identity.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Holiday In Bora Bora

I’m still dreaming of Bora Bora. It’s a place that I never thought my feet would land on.  A place that offered my soul some much-needed “down time.” Of course, I was thrust right back into life when I came back home, as there was Christmas and then I got sick for two weeks. But, I digress.

Bora Bora.

I see so many people post pictures of Bora Bora, and say that it’s on their “bucket list.”

And now, I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve been there.

So, I thought I’d share with you a little bit about what I observed, and what tips I would recommend – if you should ever find yourself flying in that direction.

1.     It has the most stunning water I’ve ever seen. If you wonder when you look at pictures, if the water is really that clear, and that blue? Yes. Yes, it is.  It’s awesome. (Does saying, “awesome” date me?)  But, it WAS awesome.  You could see the coral, the stingrays, everything.  And if you are flying in, it is breathtaking to see the different shades of blue as it goes from the island, further out into the ocean.


2.     Bora Bora island is small.  And I mean small.  It has one road that goes around the whole island. You can rent a car, or a scooter and drive around it a couple of times in one day.  There are only – maybe 2??? Smallish towns. Don’t expect to see a movie theater, a mall, or fast food restaurants. They don’t exist.

3.     We stayed at Le Moana Intercontinental. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Yes, we were in bungalow huts over the water. It was so peaceful, so quiet, and very tropical-feeling. You have a glass coffee table in your room and you can open it, (or not,) and look down at the tropical fish below, feeding on your coral. It was one of my favorite things to do. I saw new fish each day.  You also have a private deck. And just the room itself, was terrific. A huge bed, a tall, bamboo ceiling with an overhead fan, and a nice size bathroom.

4.     Bring a collapsible cooler. Our fridge didn’t seem to want to cool things down very much – and I’ve heard this said of others, as well. Get some ice from the ice machine, load in your cooler, and you can put your drinks in there, and put the cooler inside of your fridge. A great alternative.  We could walk to a little market from Le Moana, and buy some sodas there to put in our cooler. Also, Le Moana, gave us a new water bottle each day, which was wonderful.

5.     Food.  Food can be an issue if you are on a budget. Food can be extremely pricey. And we had a hard time finding food that was more affordable. There is a pizza place within walking distance from Le Moana. You can eat there, or get it “carry out” and eat back on your private deck. It’s big enough to share between two people.  There is also the option of ordering from the bar, if you want more casual food. You can also get this as “carry out.” It took us a few days to realize that most places didn’t open till after 6 for dinner, and that if you wanted a burger, fries, or sandwich, they called that type of restaurant a “snack” shack.  A few places seem to be restaurants or snack shacks opened up in people’s homes. But we could never figure out their hours of operation.

We also got the breakfast buffet in our plan, so we ate a big breakfast, snacked on munchies we brought with us and skipped lunch, and then ate dinner. This also saved us some $$.

6.     There is not a lot of tourist shopping. And I love to shop on vacation! Black pearls are HUGE here on Bora Bora. And I mean, HUGE. You will find a lot of these shops. But the pearls are EX-PEN-SIVE. If you want cheap pearls, (under $100), look for locals to sell some at their tables alongside of the road near the towns. But be prepared to find a rougher-looking pearl.  Other than that, you can find a few souvenir shops and that’s about it. Not much comparing of prices or merchandise.

7.     Le Moana offers free paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling. We brought our own snorkels and a couple of pool floats that we blew up once we got there.  Bring a book, or some magazines to read. You can even bring a dvd or two – as our TV only had a couple of channels and they weren’t in English. But honestly, we didn’t need to watch anyways.

8.     RELAX! Don’t go to Bora Bora if you don’t want to relax. This is a place to unwind. Slow down. Chill. And relax. It’s a place to recharge.

9.  Be prepared for long wait lines in America and in Tahiti. The airlines don’t seem to open too early before flight time, and they love to “herd” people once you arrive in Tahiti. Just be patient. Wear layers (as it’s very humid in the Tahiti arrival zone and you will get hot and sweaty quickly) and you’ll make it through!

We loved it. The staff were extremely friendly. The location was lush and breathtaking, and it was a gorgeous getaway. It’s like nowhere I’ve ever travelled before.  And I miss it.

Feel free to ask me any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if you’re going, soak in every second. It’s a joy and privilege to get to go.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Are You Willing To Love Them Through It?

Your friend’s child wants to change their gender.

Another friend is grappling with the thought of suicide.

Your cousin is headed to prison.

Your niece has been in and out of a mental institution.

Most people say, “I’m sorry.” They say, “I will pray for you.” Then they disappear. Or maybe they are there in the beginning, but then grow weary and disappear after a time. After things get REALLY tough.

For a lot of us adults, we remember 9-11 when the twin towers were struck by planes. We know and we remember, how firefighters, police, and rescue workers ran INTO danger, instead of away from it. They ran in to help.

That’s what we need to do. We need to run IN to help.

Who will rescue someone who needs a friend in their moment of need, if everyone is running out of the building? Who will love them when they need to be loved the most? If no one is willing, no one will ever get healed. No one will ever get rescued. No one will ever feel like they are worthy enough to overcome what it is they are battling.

I have this instinct. It is to “love them through it.”  Maybe they don’t think they need me. Maybe their instinct is to push people away because they don’t want what they think they will get…. Pity. Judgment. Ridicule.

What this world needs more of, is love.

Our families, our friends; they need us to love them through their personal battles and struggles in life. That doesn’t mean we need to condone their choices. But we can certainly love them despite them. 

It’s the only way.

Some people don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. They don’t think anyone will be waiting for them on the other side of their challenges. They don’t think anyone can give them grace, or mercy, or forgiveness. They don’t value themselves enough to believe they can overcome, or even that they are cared enough for, to have someone believe in them.

I want to be that someone. Do you? Can you?

Can you love someone through it, instead of running away from something that may be ugly, embarrassing, or tough? Can you love someone enough to invest in helping them find a way to love themselves?

There are people in my life, in your life, who need you. They need not just your words, but your heart.

We are ALL capable of loving.  So love. LOVE! Love with abandon.

And watch lives transform.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sometimes We Have to Push Through the Difficulties

Sometimes we have to push through the difficulties.

If we ever want to see a reward in our life, we have to “stick in there.”

And we are so good at quitting.

It’s like the rungs on a ladder. Instead of climbing up one by one, pushing ourselves to grow, and go further and higher, so that we can turn around and look back at how far we’ve come…. We look up at the ladder and say, “that’s too high. That’s too hard. It’s too far.” And we dig up our roots and start over somewhere else. In another situation. With other people.

And all we do, is live a life where we are starting over all of the time. We never grow the muscles we need to endure the tough stuff. We never learn that great reward comes AFTER those trying times.

God knows what our heart and soul needs more than we do. We are so good at seeing what we WANT, that we fail to see what we NEED. And sometimes, we just need to be sifted. We need those times in life that seem to go on for a never-ending stretch.

Because God is doing a mighty work in us, and He really wants to complete it!

We interfere. We take the control away from His hands, and navigate our own path.

I love looking back at my path in life and seeing how those times where I shed so many tears, have brought deeper tears in my heart now….. tears of joy and thankfulness at how far I’ve come and at where I am.

I can see all those times where I longed to rely on human skin to help me through… when God told me, “no. I want you to rely on ME.”

So, sometimes we have to push through those difficulties. We have to hold our breath, and keep swimming. There may be choppy waters and strong waves along the way, but we will make it. And we will be forever marked.

It is those “marks” in our life that mold and shape our character. They help grow us – not just for ourselves, but for others, so that we can help mold and shape them along the way too. So that we can help encourage, minister, and cheer them on as they, too, need to learn to dig deep and hang in there.

I’d rather walk like a giant in life, with thick skin, knowing that I’ve made it through some intense battles, than walk with thin skin who can’t withstand much in life, because my muscles are so weak.

The answers may seem far away at times, but God is always working. He’s working even when we can’t see it. He’s working on US.

Let Him.