Wednesday, October 29, 2008

While there's still time

Awhile back a friend told me, her and her husband had just given a young man permission to marry their youngest daughter. Leanne knew Kaytlyn loved Josh, but struggled with the idea of what this all meant – she was giving her baby away. She said to me, “Just think of little Jaylyn.”

So I did just that – my mind went to work and I thought, what if a young man came to the door and asked us that very question. My initial response, “I’d say yes with only one condition, you have to take her now!!” Well that was easy to say when she was a little, naughty, tired girl who will soon turn two.

But as the night went on the thoughts went deeper. Granted my children are years from these experiences, but if my sons next 15 years go as fast as the last 5 I know it could happen all too soon!!

As I envisioned the empty nest years, my life was brought back into perspective. Earlier that week my little man was obsessed with kisses, he couldn’t plant enough of them on my cheek and loved it when his dad fought him for me. In a way I felt bad for ending his fun just so I could wash dishes. I realized someday he’ll be kissing his wife instead of me!! Yikes!!

Then I also thought of my daughter who the night before told me I was her best friend. I was curious what that meant for a three year old, so I asked and she responded, “You play ring around the rosey, share your stickers and take me shopping.” As we shared this sweet moment, I looked ahead and prayed for the days when maybe I would be her best friend. But again Leanne’s engagement story reminded me I don’t always want to be her best friend because I pray someday her husband will be.

Then there’s my little Peanut, the child embarking on the terrible two’s. She makes me laugh and at times want to scream, but she always lets me hold her and loves to snuggle. But just like Leanne’s little Lyn, she too will grow up and someday, years from now, I too will be overwhelmed with emotion as I give a guy permission to marry my baby.

So while there’s still time, I’m off to enjoy my son’s kisses, be my daughter’s best friend and hold my baby!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The journey from concealing to revealing...

It is time for another Yes to God Tuesday as Lelia hosts the study of Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes. This week we are looking at chapters 6 and 7 titled "Cosmetics for the Soul" and "The Feelings We Conceal." Again Lisa brings up many points that hit home and sometimes a little too close to the heart. But that's a good thing because I believe there was a time in my life that I had put on the mask for so long that I didn't even know who I really was.

Lisa's words about loneliness brought back memories from those days. Insecurity and fear played a big role as well and though I wouldn't have said it back then, I'm sure jealousy was part of it as well. It was like I lived my life to be somebody else. Back then I had role models, at times heroes, who I looked up to, but it wasn't in a healthy sense of the word because I didn't simply want to develop a characteristic they possessed, but in a way wanted to live the life they lived. This led to a couple of problems - one I had the unrealistic idea they and their lives were perfect which in turn caused pain when their imperfections were revealed and two as I looked at their perfect image I knew I didn't measure up which only caused me to be more insecure.

Not necessarily fun memories to recall, but yet there is joy in knowing my thoughts have changed. Since those high school and college days I have come to know Christ and like Lisa I can say, "Our ultimate goal has to be to seek Him and His righteousness, above all else." As I do that day in and day out I am reminded my value is in who He is not what I do, how I look, or what others think. Is that an easy task? No, but it does bring peace.

With that peace I have found new value in friendships. Growing up I was always surrounded by people, but never close to anyone. No bad experience caused me to close up, I just never revealed much of myself because of that fear of rejection. But God's word tells me the truth will set us free and though those words are about His son, they also relate to our everyday life. As we are open and honest with those around us relationships grow.

Lisa described her relationship with her best friend and it made me think of mine as well. My best friend isn't a former high school teammate or college roommate instead she is old enough to be my mom, but our age difference has not hindered our connection as friends. After 11 years we are now at the place where we are the first person the other turns to in times of joy and pain.

As I read this chapter I was reminded of why that is - jealousy is non-existent in our friendship as well and we enjoy the traits Lisa mentioned about David and Jonathon. Once after thanking Leanne and sharing thoughts about some of her good qualities, she said something very important to me, "I don't ever want you to put me on a pedestal. I have done my share of wrong and learned plenty of things the hard way." I don't think I had put her there, but the reminder was good because there's only one person who belongs there. I had made that mistake enough in my life and as someone I respect I valued Leanne's words and her ability to be real.

The other exchange of words that came to mind happened nearly two years ago when I told her I could write a book about her role in my life. After I shared the first 20 pages she was honored and said in a way "felt like a dud" because she never sent cards or felt she wasn't as thoughtful as me. Honestly her words shocked me, I never once viewed her that way, but it was interesting to see how we can perceive ourselves. Again she was being real and admitting insecurities, which we fear could hurt our friendships, but in reality it strengthened ours and gave me permission to be real myself. As our conversation closed she suggested, "Let's each just keep doing what we do best." What better way to view a friendship!

God has created all of us unique and we'll never play the role he intends if we live trying to be someone he didn't design. Again, not always easy, but as I reflect on everything Lisa has put into these two chapters I am thankful for the progress I have made on the journey from concealing to revealing. At times I surprise myself with the things I share and am now able to talk about, 15 years ago I never would have expected this. But now I am grateful.

Simply being myself has not only brought me peace and freedom, but I feel that's the best way God can reach others through me and really isn't that what all of us want? If people look at me and see someone who is fake what will they think about the God I serve? If they watch me and see my insecurities how will that affect their image of the God who I claim strengthens me?

Hard questions, but they give us a reason to reveal rather than conceal. It is a journey, but he designed the map and offers to lead the way!!

To close I've attached a couple of poems I wrote a few years back as God started transforming me from a concealer to a revealer.

We walk thru life with
a smile on our face,
hiding what is in our hearts.
Is it pain from something that was said
or guilt for a mistake from our past?
Is it worry about what is to come
or doubts about overcoming the situation we’re in?
Is it hurt for a friend who’s suffering
or sorrow for a loved one who passed away?

Why do we put on a mask
and pretend to be
who we are not?
God sees past the smile
and knows who we really are.
If we’d only be ourselves,
others would see our heart
and know who He really is.

"Hide and Seek"
I’ll count,
“1, 2”
You hide,
“9, 10
Ready or not,
here I come.”
It’s a game all kids
love to play,
it’s something they
do again and again.
As years go by
the excitement slowly fades,
but the game never ends –
we once hid behind a tree
now it’s behind a smile.
We’re afraid to share
who we really are –
we often think,
if she’s ‘fine’ then I should be too.
But have you ever wondered,
“How can I find anyone,
if I’m hiding too?”
The kids have it right –
someone has to seek,
so the next time
you want to play the game,
don’t run & hide –
instead offer to count,
they might need you
to find them.
“Ready or not…”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why it's hard...

I have been reading Lisa Whittle's book, Behind Those Eyes, and participating in Lelia's blog study, but the impact of the book goes beyond my Tuesday post. We have looked at all the roles we try to play - Ms. Happiness, Ms. Confidence, Ms. Perfection and Ms. Spiritual and honestly I've done my part to try and win the lead role. Thankfully God has me on the road to be real. Has it been an easy walk? NO! Actually at times it seems each step simply becomes a little more difficult. I don't say that to discourage you, but to simply be honest and let you know you're not alone in your struggles.

As I read this book I see myself taking off the masks Lisa describes and there is freedom in doing the very thing, but still it is hard. I have written about the book I am in the process of publishing quite a bit because all of these words about being real are what it's all about.

I have never been one to talk much or share whats really on my heart or mind, but 11 years ago God put a woman in my life who would help me open up. In the world's eyes our friendship makes no sense - we both have a different line of work, she graduated the year I was born, her youngest just got engaged and mine hasn't left the crib...but God knew Leanne could serve a purpose in my life.

As usual He was right (so why do I ever doubt Him? - that's another post!!) Through the years our friendship has grown, she has shared good times and bad, struggles and successes - basically been real and through her example I have learned to do the same. It has taken time, but now we can, and do, talk about everything. We laugh and cry, talk and pray. My friendship with her was like nothing I had ever experienced before - I could be myself, share and trust.

God has blessed me and done some wonderful things through Leanne and if she was here she'd say the same, but it seems his work is not done. We are about to put our story Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship out there for the world to see.

Honestly at times I am excited - not because I want to be an author, but because I want others to have what God has given me. A real friendship full of blessings, but ultimately one that helps me have a real faith and serve a real God.

This all sounds great, so why have I titled the post Why it's hard... Because my desire to be real hurts my mom and in turn it hurts me and the pain is real. About a year ago I shared the book with my mom and she saw it as a slap in the face, like I was replacing her with Leanne. And that has never once been the case.

I have thought many times about how I would feel if my daughter wrote this book and from that perspective I feel her pain, but the key word is spiritual and my mom doesn't understand that. I grew up in a good home - a mom and dad and two younger sisters. But as I read Lisa's book I realize we lived a life trying to look perfect and happy to the outside world. Not that we had major problems to bring us down, but communication wasn't a priority, so we stayed silent and pretended alot.

After I graduated from college I realized Christianity was about more than church attendance and made a decision to live for Christ. Since then my mom realizes I have changed, but doesn't understand it's because of my faith. And it's my faith that has led me to publish this book, something my mom doesn't want me to do.

She has said everything is not about religion (I agree) and my kids need more than all this church stuff. Honestly it hurts when my mom doesn't even know who I am, but it hurts more knowing she's missing all that I have because of my faith.

I almost didn't sign the contract because all my life I've lived to please my parents and it was obvious this wasn't going to win any applause. Thankfully God's words are true and he has given me a desire to obey him, so I signed fearing what that meant for my mom and me.

That is still unknown, but as I read Lisa's book I gain insight into what my mom might be feeling. With my book I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and people will know things about me that I have never told them - as if you don't know already, I'm not perfect, I'm not always smiling, I lack confidence and I mess up, but really I am okay with that. My mom's latest comment, "I hope nobody I know reads it" proves she isn't there yet.

Now you know why it's hard, but I trust God has a purpose for the pain and I continue to pray He will use this step of obedience and reveal himself to my mom.

So as I reflect on all of this I think even more about the masks we wear and the games we play to impress others. They not only cause pain while the clock is running, but can hurt us after the whistle blows because eventually the truth is revealed. Even if no one else ever knows, God always does, so the thought for the day - even when it's hard, be real - our REAL God will strengthen you to do it and bless you for it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To be spiritual or be real - that is the question...

It’s once again time to dig into Lisa Whittle’s book Behind Those Eyes and join Lelia’s study as we look at the chapter titled, Ms. Spirituality. And what a chapter it is! Each week the idea of being real is coming closer and closer to home, I don’t always like what I see, but it has been good to take an honest look.

So what is this all about? As Lisa says, “The point is not that Ms. Spirituality does these things, rather, why, she does these things.” Something worthwhile to think about, so take a minute – why do you have perfect attendance at church, why do you teach Sunday school, why do you make sure everyone knows you spend 30 minutes in the word every morning at 5 am, why do you do any of the spiritual things you do? Or do you even know? At times we can even fool ourselves and convince our mind that our heart is right, but the truth is God knows!!

I think we can spend too much time trying to and worrying about impressing others and when all of our focus is there our work gets the short end of the stick. Really what is important - what others think or what God does? Believe me that question is more for me than you!!

You see I’m in the midst of publishing a book titled Letters from Leanne – The Beauty of Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationships. Though the book is about the beauty and power in the Titus 2 relationship, I also realize it’s an in-depth look at my life. The story of my struggle with depression, my realization of what salvation was all about, the tension my faith has caused between some family members and me, my insecurities…the list goes on, but you get the idea.

Honestly I have played the game so long that this is hard. I know it’s what God wants and is only because of Him, but still I have moments when I wonder what others will think. What will those who knew me as a child think? I am no longer the person they knew so how will they react? How about the women I now lead in Bible study? Will they think differently knowing where I’ve been?

All of these answers are yet to be determined, but this morning I’m reminded that the question they answer really doesn’t matter. It’s not what high school classmates, girls I’ve coached, or fellow church members think, God’s opinion is all that matters.

Lisa talks about the idea of surrendering and though it’s not easy that is what He wants. And though the walk is not difficult and down right scary at times, he tells me the same thing he told Moses, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest – everything will be fine for you.” Ex.33:14 There is comfort in those words.

God is real and the only way others will see that is when we are real too. Lisa closes with, “True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person’s life to the point that people around her notice a difference.” People who have known me for years have told me I have changed, which is great, but God finally has me at a spot where I’m willing to share why. Though it’s frightening and involves taking off a mask that I’ve worn far too long, I’m thankful. It’s only when they see the real me, that the world can see a real God.

Really that is what it’s all about – not our church attendance or list of volunteer activities or perfect life we lead others to believe, it’s about what’s on the inside, what’s in our heart and when it’s a desire to be real for him, God will bless us and touch others us through our honesty and transparency.

As I write this it all makes sense and seems like an easy thing to do, but in an attempt to be real that’s not always the case. It’s hard and just yesterday I really struggled, just questioning if this was the right decision – moving forward with the book. At times I was working real hard to convince myself that I had made a mistake and every once in awhile I believed those thoughts. But yet God would draw me back. Thoughts of other’s honesty and the impact that made on me came to mind and my prayer is the words I have written and the life I am now living will do the same for those I am worrying about failing to impress.

So as I resign from the role of Ms. Spirituality I look forward to playing the part of Ms. Real. She might have the most challenging script of the cast, but she’ll receive the only praise that matters when the play is done!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What do you think?

Well as this book journey continues to unfold, I am learning a lot. Not just about the ins and outs of publishing, but myself as well and my faith is growing stronger. But what does this have to do with you? Good question!

They have asked me to put together information for the back cover and I'm not real sure what I should say, so I have put something together and would like your opinion. Would this get your attention? What details should or could I add? Anything missing that you'd like to see? Really I'm looking for honesty here, because this is all new for me.

With that here's a possible back cover for Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship -

Have you ever wondered what the Titus 2 relationship looks like today? In Letters from Leanne you will see how lives are impacted when generations connect. Join Leanne Anderson and Jill Beran as they share their words and friendship, one God created, continues to nourish and constantly bless.

On their walk of faith they have encountered good times and bad along with smiles and tears, but through it all God has been present. Come along for the journey and see how they change, their friendship grows and God works.

Spiritual mentoring is a Biblical concept and Letters from Leanne illustrates its importance and value yet today. Leanne and Jill’s friendship will encourage you, and leave you longing for a spiritual mother-daughter relationship yourself.

Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happiness - How can I find it?

Happiness, something we all seem to be searching for but rarely seem to find. And in those rare instances when we have it in our hands it seems to disappear quite quickly! Today I'm joining Lelia's study of Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes and this week we are looking at Ms. Happiness.

She is someone we all long to be or at least I know I have tried to play the part. Lisa explains how we look for this happiness in ourselves, others and even the things we have or do. Ultimately it's all for naught!

Yesterday I had an experience that brought this to life and really made Lisa's words true. I already knew that was the case, but this situation solidified that truth. How nothing really will bring lasting happiness and how I'm sorry to say, we (I) can put on the mask and make others think I'm happy, but I will always know the truth and God does too.

Anyway two weeks ago, I signed a book contract - that should make me happy right? Wrong! Sure at times it was and still is exciting, but honestly it is scary and yesterday really brought tears rather than smiles. You see this isn't a book I ever thought I'd publish - it's basically the story of my walk of faith that includes journal entries and personal emails. I'm sharing the real me with the world and for someone who has hid most of my life this is a big step out of my comfort zone.

When I couple this with the fact that I've lived the majority of my life as a people pleaser doubt can creep in. Especially when certain loved ones, the very ones I lived to please, don't understand or approve of my decision to put myself out there. It hurts and the tension it's created in our relationship really caused me to question yesterday.

Sure others have shared the excitement about me being an author and really I wish I could grab a little of that for myself, but do I tell them that? Not often enough - I put on the smile and play the game while internally I'm thinking if they only knew! Last night the buzzer sounded though and the game came to an end as I shared with Leanne, my spiritual mom and c0-author about my worries and doubts.

Lisa's whole book is about being real and ladies that is who God wants us to be. It's living the truth and like He says that will set us free. With that freedom comes peace and real happiness, better known as Joy! Like Lisa says, "True joy comes from within when we are operating in our life in the way that pleases God."

So back to my question, how can I find happiness? Last night I was reminded once again I never will! I've lived long enough to know I can't make myself happy and just yesterday was reminded there comes a time when I can't please others (and the same is true for them pleasing me) and the things that make us happy can change and quickly cause us pain.

My pastor once was talking about marriage and shared from a book how it's intended for holiness not happiness, and I think that relates to life as well because as we live to be holy the happiness takes care of itself. That's not the happiness of the world, but the JOY of the Lord and the best way to find that is by keeping things in order
I pray you have a joy-filled day!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Pluto Project

A recent project God has given me has reminded me of my son's Pluto Project. J.D. my kindergarten son takes part in a homeschool choir every Thursday and this year they are using a space theme. He is thrilled and I have learned more about planets than I did during my time as a student and teacher. Two weeks ago, he was assigned his first real project.

Pluto was the planet he was given and the assignment was to make a model and find some interesting facts to share. He has a month to prepare this, but as we headed into the house he was on a mission. His mind was consumed with Pluto! He wanted to paint a ball, read books, go to the library, on and on. Nothing else in life seemed to matter! His reading lesson seemed meaningless, chores were of no interest, and he was so excited he didn't even want to eat.

As his mom I had to help him put things in perspective and prioritize the things he needed to do. Now today I feel the need to do the same for myself. I recently received the submission guidelines for my book and honestly was a bit surprised with all I need to do. But rather than work, this all seems exciting. Kind of like J.D. felt about Pluto!

But just like I shared with him, I know there's more I need to do than this book. I have a family to care for, a house to clean, meals to make, a child to teach, a husband to love, a Bible to study and as you all know the list goes on and on and on.

So my question is how do we establish those boundaries and focus our mind on the priorities? I know it all begins with prayer, but any practical applications you'd like to share?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Less is More

Growing up I was far from Ms. Confident, but lived thinking that's who I needed to be usually because it appeared that's who everyone else was. My shy and insecure self made me believe I would never be this person, which only added to the doubts I already had.

Times have changed and I'm thankful my perspective has as well! Today I'm once again joining Lelia in her study of Lisa Whittle's book, "Behind Those Eyes," and we're focusing on chapter 3 - "Ms. Confidence."

Lisa begins with a great story of a gal playing the game and taking on the role of having it all together, she is the picture of confidence. On the outside at least, but as time goes on the truth is revealed and struggles are shared. How often have I done the very thing? All too often, so much so that in my early years a favorite song contained the lines, "I'm dying inside and nobody knows it but me."

I don't think I had ever thought about the similarities between Ms. Perfection and Ms. Confidence, but they are there. One role feeds into the other. We pretend because we're afraid of what others will think, then when we get them believing maybe we have it together we're forced to pretend some more. It is a vicious cycle.

I could relate so well to Lisa's words about going into the silent treatment and being the "strong one." That's been me for a long, long time. Why exactly I'm not sure, but once again it probably boils down to the idea of what others think. It seems I always thought if I don't talk others won't really know what's going on and so they will think the silence means strength. How far from the truth is that!!!

I'm thankful I've had others in my life who prove how wrong that belief really is! And I'm even more grateful that God has helped me apply that to my life and start living that way. I don't think it's a coincidence but I was just talking about this very thing with a close friend and mentor.

For years I admired Leanne's vulnerability because like Lisa said, "women who are open and vulnerable and real and genuine and without pretense.. Those are the things that truly take strength." I was always afraid of showing emotion and especially never wanted to cry in front of others, but as I watched Leanne do these very things I never once thought she was weak. In a way it really made me realize how weak I was.

That weakness wasn't simply a result of my inabilities, but more so of where I was putting my confidence. As I trusted in my self, there was no way I was ever going to be good enough (so why did I think that would get me to heaven, that's another post!!) There's no wonder there was a constant struggle - thinking I had to do it all and making others believe I could when I knew that was not possible.

As I have realized this more and more these last couple of years I've come to understand confidence for what it really is. It seems the word has a whole new definition. If I truly want REAL confidence I need less self-confidence. Confidence has nothing to do with what I can do, but everything to do with what God can do. It's not about trusting myself, but Him because thru Him I can do all things. What a comforting thought!

The amazing thing is the more I apply this to my life the better it becomes. He is faithful and uses that submission and blesses my obedience. Confidence has nothing to do with me because in reality less is more! And really living in reality is what it's all about!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


It's a concept that has come up a few times these past couple of days and what a great thing to think about. I think I want to write about the topic because it is something I always want to hold onto.

Just this past Thursday I signed a book contract, and at times the thought still amazes me. This is so beyond me that it has to be God. I didn't realize how emotional it could be to simply sign my name, but it was.

I will be co-authors with my close friend, Leanne, as we tell the story of our friendship and encourage others to pursue their own spiritual mother-daughter relationship. As we sat at the table with the contract between us, Leanne was the first to share the need to pray.

As our prayers went up, God's presence was obvious. As we shared our heart with Him and one another, a sense of awe came over me. I have known Leanne for 11 years and this book project has been on-going for 2 years, but at times I didn't think we'd ever reach this point. Honestly at times I didn't want to, but obviously it's part of God's plan.

After saying, "Amen" we were able to discuss this wonderful concept. I know I, "Miss Unemotional" was surprised that I had become just the opposite, but like Leanne said this was all so humbling. I know how important our friendship is, but the thought of Him using it for others is pretty amazing.

As we talked about this we each had humility talks to share from the week, no coincidence there, but we finally arrived at the point that Jesus is the picture of humility and if it's Him we want to be like we need to do the same.

Then yesterday as I prepared my Sunday School lesson, Anne Graham Lotz was discussing seeing the glory of God. How it simply leaves us humbled and with a sense of awe. I've been there and it's a great place to be!

For that reason, I pray I will always humble myself, make myself available and obedient and then prepare to see the glory of God and walk where He wants me to go. Won't you do the same??

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What they see...

Is what we get! My last post was part of Lelia's study of Lisa Whittle's book "Behind those Eyes." As I finished my post I got to thinking about how I can keep my kids from striving for perfection and instead be the unique individual God created them to be. I posed this question to Lisa and she responded with an answer I expected.

We need to communicate with them, but they also need to see this principle lived out in our lives. Like the saying says, "What they see is what we get!" The timing of these thoughts is quite amazing because I am setting out to obey God in a way I never have before and it's a step that is not going to be easy to take.

In my mind I have went back and forth - do I do what He is calling me to do? or do I let the opportunity pass me by and not rock the boat? The decision wouldn't be so difficult if some of the people I loved the most understood it, but they don't. Which makes this oh so very hard!

But they don't understand because they don't understand my faith. I've shared with them my plans and the response is the same - there's more to life than religion, your kids need more than faith...all things I know are not true. So what do I do?

For the moment, the easy thing would be put on the mask and pretend this opportunity never presented itself. Then I would make the people happy, but I know there's more than that. What about God, the God who knows all things, what would He think? And someday when my kids grow and learn about this what would they think about a mom who told them to live for God, but didn't practice that belief herself?

The answers not something I want to get into, so today I choose to leave the mask behind, step out in faith and be real. After all what they see, is what I will get.