Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great in '08

It's hard to believe today is the final day in 2008! It seems like just yesterday when Y2K was the latest talk. Time does tick by rather quickly, but this morning I'd like to pause and look back at the last 366 days.

The year started out well on the Beran farm as we celebrated our little Peanut's first birthday and then our oldest turned 5 shortly after. Fun times and celebrations continued as the days went by. We've hosted birthday parties on the "home farm," laughed a lot and smiled too as we've enjoyed many exciting times. We've also been blessed with great memories of time with friends, family and neighbors.

We've also been blessed away from home with a great church family - one who supports, encourages and loves. Our Pastor truly cares for his flock and feeds us weekly with wonderful messages from the Word. MOPS has been a great opportunity for me to connect with other Moms and a chance to share my faith as well. It's been rewarding to watch our kids grow in their faith as well as the oldest two love Sunday school, enjoyed this summer's VBS and Awana's is now a highlight of J.D.'s week.

There have been plenty of wonderful memories, but 2008 was not always great. We have watched and supported dear friends struggle with their teenage daughter. Loved ones have been informed of major illnesses and the economy has everyone thinking about finances. In August we had a miscarriage, which still leaves a bit of emptiness today and in November we said good-bye to my grandma.

The year has included some hard times, but the biggest challenges were when I was misunderstood because of my faith. At times it was loved ones I grew up with and that hurt the most. These people have said I've changed, but as God draws me more and more out of my comfort zone for the first time I've really tried to explain the reason for the change. It can be discouraging because most of the time it seems they don't want to understand. It hurts to know they could have what I do.

Really that is what is great about '08! The memories are nice, but God and my faith are what has been great!! The miscarriage was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced, but He carried me thru and actually has made me stronger and drawn me closer to Him. He is a God who keeps His promises and because of that I look forward to 2009.

Though I know it will bring hard times and things I don't expect He has proven faithful and I'm confident He will be fine in '09!!

Happy New Year to you! May God bless you and draw you closer in the days ahead!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Family Christmas Letter

"Reasons We Love Christmas"
10. Presents and Stockings
9. Decorating the Tree
8. Playing in the Snow
7. Rudolph, Snoopy and the Grinch
6. Baking (& Frosting)
5. Cards and Music
4. The Church Program
3. Warm Homes, Conversations and Reflections
2. Time with Family and Friends
1. Jesus's Birthday!!

Every year at Christmas it seems a song jumps out at me and this year it has been "Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry." The words talk about tears of every kind and as I reflect on the year, we've shed them all. There have been many joys - J.D. starting school and learning to read, Joy living up to her name and filling our home with smiles, Jaylyn taking on the role of comedian and constantly making us laugh, great memories with family and friends and a safe, successful year on the farm.

There have been tears of pain as well - both J.D. and Joy took some falls when the training wheels came off and Jaylyn has done the same with her constant desire to keep up, we've said, "Good-bye" to Grandma Biwer and Dorothy, our fish too, we've watched family and friends go thru sickness and struggles and had some down times ourselves as well.

But ultimately, the tears at Christmas come when we really thin about the reason for the season. Like the song says, "we cry tears of hope" because regardless if life is good or times are tough, the greatest gift has already been given and it offers peace. Years ago, on the first Christmas morning, the giving began when Jesus was laid in the manager and 33 years later the gift was complete when He went to the cross. God's present isn't wrapped with a bow, but eternal life is ours when we accept what He has to offer. So like the song says, "I think of Mary and the virgin birth, and I'm amazed at how much God thinks we're worth, that He would send His only son to die and sometimes Christmas makes me cry."

We pray you have a blessed holiday season and though sometimes Christmas makes us cry, it always reminds us of His love. May God bless you in 2009!

Job, Jill, J.D., Joy and Jaylyn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why we need to speak up...

“How can we be silent?”
The world is hurting and
He can heal the pain.
The problems are endless and
He is the answer.
Relationships are broken and
He can make them better.
People are suffering and
He provides comfort.
Countries are at war and
He offers peace.
Everyone makes mistakes and
He grants forgiveness.
Our lives are a mess and
He can wash them clean.
The world has a need and
Only Jesus can fill it.
How can we be silent
When He can do so much?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Little Theologian

Over the past 10 days it seems nothing, and really I do mean nothing has gone according to my plans. For one reason or another things haven't turned out the way I expected. Last week one day it was because J.D., my 5 year old son, decided to hide and after a 40 minute search, I was thankful he was safe, but at the same time disappointed because his actions altered my plan for the afternoon.

Then another day, the kids and I had plans to go watch my basketball girls and the vehicle wouldn't start. The next day plans for time with a friend were scratched. And then a snow storm hits that cancels a MOPS meeting I had organized and looked forward to. You get the picture...

But as all of this was taking place, I knew God was giving me an opportunity to practice a topic we'd been discussing in Sunday School - contentment. The speaker had said this was a state of mind and something we had to learn - how true. She also mentioned the seriousness of the sin of comparison and as I reflected on my bad attitude, I knew that was part of the struggle.

In my mind I was telling myself, "My husband gets to go hunting, my sister is going to Vegas, so and so gets to go the NCAA volleyball game, she gets to go to knitting..." I don't even knit and have absolutely no desire to learn, but my point is everyone was getting to do something but me!

But then God reminded me I have a wonderful opportunity right here in my home. The night before the MOPS meeting, the weather had convinced me it would not be taking place. So as my daughter suggested doing something to prepare for it, I told her, "No, we'll wait for morning because I don't think we'll have MOPS."

In her sad little 3 year old voice, she asked, "Why?" I jokingly responded, "Because Mom's not supposed to have any fun." She gave me a confused look and went back to cutting snowflakes.

My son on the other hand, heard my words and shocked me with what came from his mouth. J.D. said, "Sometimes I want to do things, but God makes it so I can't do them. But that's OK because His things are better."

I turned from the sink and said, "What did you say?" He went on to repeat what you read above. Like I said I was shocked and honestly wondered where did that come from?

As I reflect, I know the answer - God was speaking to me through my 5 year old son!! So though it feels like I haven't left the house for days, really that's not the case, I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity I have here with my 3 little ones.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whose eyes?

“Whose Eyes?”
In my eyes,
you’re someone I look up to
and an example for me to follow.
In your eyes,
you know the mistakes you have made
and the places you fall short.
In His eyes,
He sees the good
and forgives the bad.
In my eyes,
you’re a woman of wisdom –
a place to turn for advice.
In your eyes,
you know the life you’ve lived
and the difficult lessons you have learned.
In His eyes,
He knows every scene is part of the story,
one He wrote years ago.
In my eyes,
you honor me
by being my friend.
In your eyes,
you don’t always understand
the significance of your role.
In His eyes,
He’s delighted with the life you live
and glorified when your faith is shared.
In my eyes,
you’re a friend
worthy of respect.
In your eyes,
you wonder if you’re deserving
and thus downplay the praise.
In His eyes,
He sees a daughter He created,
a child whom He loves.

Through whose eyes do you see when you look at others and even when you look at yourself?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In need of a reminder...

"Lord, Remind Me"
When the days are long
And patience is short,
Remind me, you are a parent
And I’m not always an obedient child.

When I’m rejected for following you
And misunderstood for the things I do,
Remind me, you weren’t always accepted
And you still held on to your beliefs.

When I’m let down by others
And feel distant from my family
Remind me, I am your child
And your love is unconditional.

When I’m feeling down
And tempted to give up,
Remind me of the trials you faced
And the perseverance you possessed.

When I face struggles
And storms begin to rage,
Remind me of the pain you felt
And suffering you endured.

When I’m feeling weak
And wonder how I can go on,
Remind me you are in control
And your joy will be my strength.

When times are good
And especially when things are bad,
Remind me there is a reason for it all
And Your plan is perfect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grandma always said...

"Too bad everyone is not perfect like you."
I still remember hearing those words and as I've grown up I've said them as well. Whenever Grandma heard someone talking negatively about someone else or bringing them down this is what she'd say. And it didn't matter who was speaking, she stood up for the one who wasn't there.

As I've reflected on my grandma this past week in the midst of her passing this is one of the lessons I want to hold onto. For a couple different reasons - 1) we all have faults and it does no good to bring someone else down and 2) Grandma set a great example by speaking up, something I'm afraid to do at times. She never had to say anything more, these words alone altered the conversation and always left me feeling convicted. Even at times when I wasn't the one who gave her reason to say it. We are guilty just by taking part in these conversations as our willingness to listen gives the other person permission to talk.

"You can't win them all."
As a high schooler basketball was my life and though my grandma didn't see any games, she kept track of my schedule and often called for reports. When I'd share about a loss, usually in a depressing tone I'm sure, she'd simply remind me that someone has to win and someone has to lose. At the time I probably didn't appreciate the remark that much, but 15 years later those conversations are coming back and giving me a better picture of who my grandma was.

She was a very content woman - she had survived the depression and knew losing a game really wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. With Thanksgiving just a few days a way, I realize she didn't wait for a special day in November to be thankful - she always was. And she tried to teach me to do the same - as our game talks would continue she'd remind me that I had the opportunity to play, she never did; I didn't get hurt, so I'd play again and on and on. Like I said back then I didn't appreciate the words very much, but I'm grateful God has reminded me of a bit of the wisdom Grandma shared - it's true you can learn from a loss. And God does work good from bad, sometimes it simply takes 15 years!

"Let's pray."
Growing up we didn't pray before meals as family, but you never went to Grandma's house without bowing your head before a meal. Again as I reflect on her life I realize she was a real woman of faith and this routine was part of it and a way she could share that faith with others.

We sat in her room in the rest home the day before she passed away watching her breathing change and sharing stories about the life she lived. My dad, the youngest of her six children, shared how he asked her if she ever worried. She replied, "No." And as he thought of some of the things he had done, he suggested, "Well, maybe you should have." My sister responded, "Dad, she may have never worried, but I'm sure she prayed every minute you were gone."

This is something my dad has observed in my grandma because he had shared this story with me recently and commented that I was like her. As we both thought and trusted that God will take care of things. I wish I could say I never worry, but I'm thankful he sees that similarity. As far as I can tell Grandma lived a peaceful 98 years. Were they easy no - she's lost her husband, a son, a grandson, all of her siblings, lived thru the depression - it was a life of ups and downs just like the rest of us, but she treated others the way she wanted to be treated, was content regardless of the circumstances and prayed about all things. God blessed her and now because of her faith she is with Him know.

I will remember many of the things Grandma said including her final words to me about 2 weeks before she passed away. I was there for a visit and we talked about the usual - what I been doing, how the kids grow so fast, my dad and his sheep, and if it was cold out. Then as I kissed her good-bye, she looked at me and said, "You're a good girl. You take care now."

Grandma wasn't just a good girl, she was a Godly one as well and I pray as I remember things she said I will become one too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"It's Time"

“It’s Time”
It’s time –
for us to grieve and cry and
for you to smile and rejoice.
We miss a woman we love,
but for you the pain is gone.

It’s time –
for us to mourn the life that was lost and
for you to see the ones you’ve missed.
You’re no longer with us,
but you’ll forever be with ones you love.

It’s time –
for us to say, “Good-bye” and
for you to say, “Hello.”
We will tell our grandma farewell,
but you’ll see Jesus face to face.

It’s time –
for us to wait and wonder and
for you to know what is to come.
We look forward to heaven
knowing you will meet us there.
Tomorrow we will bury my grandma - the last couple of days have been sad, but the memories are good. I will always miss her, never forget her and trust someday I will see her again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Truth...

The Truth…Hurts
The truth is people die and that hurts. The truth is relationships are broken and that hurts. The truth is life’s not always fair and that hurts. The truth is things happen that we don’t understand and that hurts. I could continue, but I’m sure you get my point – “The truth hurts!”

My 98 year old grandmother passed away Sunday and though I knew it was coming it’s still been hard. Saying good-bye is never an easy thing and I’ve been amazed at the memories that have flooded my mind as I reflect on all we’ve shared. What a blessing to remember all the silly games we played, all the loaves of bread we baked, all the history she shared and all the wisdom she passed on.

The memories have given me smiles but at the same time I’m sad and in a way feel guilty for not making more time for this wonderful woman who always made time for me. Her death has once again given me a perspective check – what really matters? It’s not the things we do or the money we make, but the people we love. The truth is time goes by quickly and we will never get it back. With that, the truth is sometimes we waste it (and other gifts we’ve been given) and once we realize that, it hurts.

As our family grieves this loss, I’m also reminded of a relationship that is broken. The truth is there is tension between my mom and me and that hurts. As I watch my dad deal with losing his own mom, it hurts bad.

I realize the truth Lisa Whittle is discussing in her book is not about life and death, but simply being real, but in the midst of grief this is what’s on my heart. I can see the connections in my head, so we’ll see if I can put them on paper.

In this chapter Lisa discusses the idea that the truth heals. I have experienced that and am praying I will again as these current situations unfold. To some degree I already am, the truth that God has prepared a place for my grandma heals in a way only He can. There is peace knowing she is in a better place.

As I think about the opportunities I missed to visit my grandma for one reason or another it could be easy to beat myself up (I know I’ve done that a time or two today). Lisa’s words are a great reminder, “But in the process of admitting our mess-ups, we are not to get down on ourselves and continually beat up ourselves for it.” Those words are true for this situation and have held true for other things this book study brought. And the truth is they heal. God has convicted me, but I know He doesn’t condemn.

My prayer now is for the relationship that is broken. This has a lot to do with the third truth Lisa mentions, resolution. She says, “God created us to discern and discover who we are and where we function most effectively, without trying to be someone else.” Wow, those words hit home, but it has taken me 32 years to realize this. You see for far too long I lived to be who others thought I should be and the person I tried to please the most was my mom.

As I embrace the thought of God using me, yes me, and catch a vision of what He has created me for I am excited at times, but the truth is occasionally I still worry. I worry about what others will think and it really becomes hard when they actually tell me what those thoughts are. But the truth is Jesus faced persecution while here and as we follow Him, we will too and that hurts.

It is hard to be misunderstood and labeled because of my faith, but for the first time I’m really beginning to realize there is a purpose for the pain. And as my desire to be real increases for the first time I’m beginning to realize I also paid a price for hiding my faith. Others may not have seen it and I didn’t hear specific comments, but it hurt. Pretending may have made it easier for everyone else, but for me it was hard. At times I felt like an actor not knowing which scene I was in or what hat I should wear. So the truth is being real sets us free and that heals.

I have been blessed on my walk thru Lisa’s book, Behind Those Eyes and I pray God continues to draw me closer to Him and constantly strengthens my desire to be who He created me to be. Beyond that, I pray as others see me become a person they never knew they won’t just recognize what has changed, but will want to understand why I’ve changed.

Just like Lisa told us, I will say, “Discovering the truth about who we are takes away our need to be anyone else. And that, my friend, is the Truth that will once and for all, set your soul free. Jesus is the only One who can truly heal our souls, from the inside out.” That really is a truth that heals!!

Finally I’d like to close by thanking everyone who’s taken this journey with me, I’ve been blessed by your blogs and touched by your comments. It’s been encouraging to walk with you. Lisa I can’t thank you enough for the impact your book has played, God is using your words and I am grateful. And Lelia thank you for hosting, you are the hostess with the mostess!!

I’ll finish with a poem I was reminded of as Lisa shared about the puzzle dream -
A piece here,a piece there –
what will it look like in the end?
Alone, some pieces can’t be understood,
but as things come together their purpose is revealed.
As one piece fits into the next
things begin to make sense.
The pretty, simple piece is important,
but the challenging and difficult ones
play a role as well.
The puzzle stays undone
until every piece is in place.
When I’m the one to finish,
it’s a picture, I’ve completed,
but when it’s God putting the pieces together
it’s a life, He’s created.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Honor of my Grandma

Early last night, I received a call that my 98 year old grandma had passed away. The news didn't surprise as they had called her family home on Saturday, but the realness of the news made me sad. Anytime someone we love passes away, there is loss, pain and emptiness.

We shared the news with our children, who had loved "driving" Grandma to lunch in her wheelchair, and the questions began. My 3 year old innocently said, "Who will be my grandma Biwer now?" and our 5 year old son asked, "Who will take her place?"

The honest answer is hard because nobody can replace this wonderful woman God created and blessed us with for 98 years. Though I miss her, I'm confident she is in a better place and I'm thankful for the role she has played in my life through the years.

She has influenced and impacted many people through the years starting with her 6 children, 21 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson. The legacy there alone is wonderful.

And now in her death she continues to impact me as her passing causes me to reflect and think about what really matters. Regardless of how many years I have left, I pray that God would bless me the way He has her and that I would honor Him the way she has done.

I ask that you would keep her children and family in your prayers as we work through the grief and sadness. But as we pray for comfort, we also lift prayers of praise and thanksgiving because now Grandma is reunited with Grandpa - just in time to celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I was privileged to attend a Hearts at Home conference this past weekend and the experience was wonderful! The time with friends was needed, the opportunity to praise was marvelous, the encouragement was welcomed and the lessons were endless. And as I unpacked my bags I pondered a topic that has come up a lot lately. (Do you suppose there's a reason for that?)

I had put off unpacking since I had returned on Saturday night and began to think about my reasons for that. Because really it was fun packing on Friday as I prepared for my night away - the fun wasn't limited to my bags but my 3 children as well since they had plans for a sleepover at Grandma's. Now days later it seemed the fun had disappeared.

As I did what I had to do, my laundry pile grew and eventually the suitcases were empty, but thoughts turned to the internal baggage I rarely even set down let alone unpack. Just as we're eager to pack our bags when we're going away we do the same with the mistakes we've made and pain we've experienced. We fold it up, put it away and think others won't see it once it's been hidden.

Then for one reason or another the time comes when the bags have to be unpacked and it doesn't matter if it's a real duffel bag or a suitcase in the heart, we tend to drag our feet when facing this task. Nothing ever comes out as neat and tidy as when we put it in and just like my kids had some explaining to do with the things I found in their bags, we're forced to do the same with issues from the heart.

Like I said I eventually did unpack my bags and it felt good to have the job done. I was no longer forced to step around or trip over the out of place suitcases. The mess was gone and the same is true when we unpack the baggage of our heart. It feels good, provides peace and cleans up our heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Interesting Call

Tonight I received a call that created plenty of emotions. A girl I coached a few years back called and asked if I had heard, I hadn't, so she went on to tell me she was pregnant. I was surprised and really not sure what to say - she's young and not married, so I asked the first question that came to mind, "When is the baby due?" She said, "April" and instantly thoughts turned to the baby I was supposed to deliver next spring. So I asked another question, "What day?" and she responded, "The 9th." That number sounded a lot like the 19th, the day I looked forward to until it took on a whole new meaning after our miscarriage on August 30th.

Needless to say my mind was going in many directions, but I listened as she spoke of her plans for the future, shared a little info about the baby's dad and told about her parents' reaction. As I listened I also prayed. I needed comfort for the pain that came back out of no where and guidance as to how I could help this girl who has always looked up to me. The guidance came first as I invited her to our MOPS meeting next week and shared a bit about the ministry and offered to listen or talk.

Once our conversation ended my need for comfort increased as the pain seemed to take over. I was taken right back to the sadness I had experienced months ago and the questions returned as well. Why Lord? Why did I lose my baby? Why did you take a baby from a family, one with a mom and dad who love each other and wanted this baby? It just didn't make sense and as I type it still doesn't. It hurts and the thing is the young girl is hurt too.

Obviously none of this was in either of our plans, but that's how life is, it's not about my plan, but God's. This past weekend I went to a Hearts at Home conference and was awed with God's presence, the transparency of the speakers and the stories of God's work. As I think about where this phone call has led, I'm reminded of Julie Barnhill's words in her session entitled, "I've Never Told This to Anyone." Much of what she said tied in with Lisa Whittle's book and the need for us to be real. She spoke of the secrets we keep and the pain that produces. She mentioned one area we tend to keep silent is our anger towards God. It's something we know we shouldn't do, but if we're honest during those situations we don't understand we can be angry with him.

Though I'm hurt by the poor choices my young friend made that has led to this point, I'm not angry at her. Honestly I'm thankful she is choosing life. But I'd have to say one of my many flaws came out tonight and I was angry, in a way I was angry with God. He took my baby or so it seems.

But as I sit here tonight and just be still I'm reminded of two other things from the conference. Trish Berg spoke of her experience with a miscarriage and the pain and sadness that included, but shared how she found peace knowing she was a vessel for that baby to get to heaven. And Micca Campbell's words about being a widow at the age of 21 came back as well - her husband's days were numbered and my baby's were as well. And as she said, life can stink sometimes, but God is good.

And He is forgiving. So because of that, tonight I ask for his forgiveness and after hours of emotions I finally feel at rest because of His peace. Yes I am flawed, much more than I like to admit, but there is a purpose - it's only because of these flaws that I sense the necessity of His forgiveness and the depth of His love.

If you'd like to read more about flaws and forgiveness, head to Lelia's blog as she hosts a study on Lisa Whittle's book, Behind Those Eyes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Talk it. Walk it. Chalk it.

Last night I recalled a motto a former professor used in my Ed Psych class - "Talk it. Walk it. Chalk it." He used it to talk about our role in the classroom. As teachers we were to share information with our students (talk it), then show them (walk it) and finally it explain it and help them own it themselves (chalk it). The theory made sense years ago as a college student, but now as I've been out of the classroom for almost 6 years I honestly hadn't thought much about this until last night.

But I've come to believe this not only applies to teaching students; it's relevant in sharing life's lessons as well. In my last post I shared about a timely talk I had with a friend this past Monday. Now many of our conversations have lasting impacts, but this was definitely unique. She had shared her biggest struggles and the choices she is least proud of, but in no way did this change how I thought about her. But in a way it affected thoughts about myself.

As I watched Leanne take off the mask, I was moved to take a better look at myself. The evening after our talk I didn't sleep much, but spent some quality time in prayer and after years of avoiding and trying to deny this issue I seriously discussed it with God. The peace that brought was wonderful.

I know God is a forgiving God and sensed he had already let this go, but as the next day passed satan started planting doubts. I knew they were lies, but yet they got in my head and I shared a bit of this with Leanne. She assured me of God's forgiveness and reminded me "nothing you say to me will make me think any different, I will promise you that."

I appreciated her words, but yet I wondered - Did I really need to tell her this? That was a question I struggled with for awhile. I mean I had already told God, wasn't that enough? Yesterday morning as the thought still rolled around in my head I had a comment back from Lisa Whittle in which she answered a question I had posted.

As we work through her book about being real, open and honest I asked if there are somethings that can stay just between us and God. I was blessed and touched by her answer and obviously the timing was all part of God's plan. She said, "I always try to check myself before I share things to make sure my motive is right. I always pray and ask myself before I share, "Will this be helpful to someone? Could this be used to help change some one's life?" The key is just to be open and willing to share whatever God wants you to and yet pray for discernment that you will share things only of Him. It sounds complicated, but really, it's just simply a matter of prayer and God seeking."

As I thought about her questions, I knew the answers. I really didn't think this would help Leanne or change her life, but God had impressed on me that someone would be helped and a life could be changed - mine. So I called and told her, "Yes it will work to get together."

We talked a little politics, caught each other up on our kids and made some final adjustments to our book. And as I read the following paragraph out of the epilogue, "Once his plan is revealed allow him to work by making yourself available and going where he leads. It will take time to build the relationship, but it will grow. Let go of the doubts and worries and simply be yourself. God is a God of truth and he will work through your honesty." As I read this God confirmed I was doing the right thing.

Was it easy? NO! Was it right? Yes! Trust me as I shared something I never had before I struggled more than I succeeded, but it was good. And freeing. Before we even started Leanne asked if I thought I had to tell her this and assured me for her sake I didn't need to bear my soul. I appreciated her words and realized it wasn't something I had to do for her sake, but in a way I did for mine.

Just three days earlier she had honored me by trusting me as a friend and sharing who she was and how that has helped her become who she is. I didn't need to tell her, but I wanted to. And now I'm glad I did. Did it change what happened or erase the mistakes I made? No, but it led to a wonderful conversation and reminded me of truths that are real and freeing. And when I saw the acceptance in her eyes and felt it in her embrace, I knew the same was true of God, but even in a bigger way.

All this brings me back to the title of this post. My husband had asked if were getting together to work on our book, one about the beauty of a spiritual mother-daughter relationship, and I said, "No." But as I drove home I realized I was wrong. Granted you will not finding anything we discussed on the pages of the book, but what took place is what it's all about.

We have talked about our faith and being real. Leanne has walked the walk. I have watched her live by faith and have been touched by her honesty. In society today that is often where things stop, but Leanne isn't simply talking it and walking it, she's doing just what my college prof instructed me to do, she's chalking it. Her example has inspired and influenced me to live this life myself and that is the beauty of a Titus 2 woman. The role she plays, changes the life I live!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Timely Talk

It's Tuesday once again and time for Lelia's study of Lisa Whittle's Behind Those Eyes and once again the chapter is hitting me hard. Maybe the hardest yet. I am amazed at how God led me to this study, the timing of each chapter and the work He is doing through it. So onto chapter 8, We are Completely Loved and Accepted Completely.

Like I said the timing of this amazes me as just yesterday I had a wonderful talk with a very close friend. It seems our friendship grows stronger and deeper with each conversation we share and this talk was no different. She has shared the fact she made poor decisions in her past (haven't we all?) and was not proud of that fact (again I think we can relate), but yesterday she shared from the heart. Though I was surprised with the picture she painted of the person she once was, I didn't judge her, my perception of her didn't change and my respect for her has increased. Really in a way I admire her all the more. She did something I'm afraid to do and that has made me think...

And it all ties in with the book we are reading. We have been talking about being real and I have grown tremendously the last couple of years with that, but yesterday listening to my friend I was reminded of some buried pain in my life. Do I think I need to share it with the world? No, but do I need to deal with it? Yes!! As I reflected on our conversation through the night I never once thought negatively about my friend and her mistakes, but Satan had me dwelling on my own.

It's not that I've committed some terrible crime or really broken any law, but feelings of disappointment and disgust came to mind. Granted this struggle took place before giving my life to Christ, but still I can't believe some of my actions. When the mind starts working, some times bad things can happen or bad thoughts anyway. I wondered what my friend would think if our roles were reversed and honestly I know she'd listen, not judge and assure me of God's forgiveness, but yet it's hard.

But during the night I took a step, no I didn't call my friend, well not the one who's words triggered these thoughts instead I talked to my best friend. In the quiet of the night I had a talk with God unlike any I had before. Sure I've asked for forgiveness, but never specifically talked about this and called it by name. And it was good. Just as I had wondered and in a way worried about what my friend would think of me if I told her, I also thought about God - would he be as disgusted as I was? Could he still love me and accept me? Would he still value who I've become even after knowing who I had been?

That's when Lisa's words came back to mind, "And He loves us still, even in our curlers and terry-cloth bathrobes, (and I might add in our poor choices, mistakes and sin) unsightly to anyone else but Him." I didn't have to tell Him any of this - He already knew and He still loved me and accepted me. Though I didn't have to tell Him for His sake, I did for mine and I am grateful I did. My honesty with my heavenly Father simply reminded me of his love and again as Lisa says, "And when you experience it (His love) in your heart, it makes it impossible to settle for love of any other kind."

His love is real and when we're real with Him we experience it all the more. These words make me think of a wonderful Point of Grace song, "Heal the wound, but leave a scar so I'm reminded of how merciful you are." I believe my healing process is beginning and as it does I'm hurt and humbled. It's all another reminder of my sin and brokenness and it hurts to think that's what nailed Jesus to the cross, but it's beyond humbling to think He did that for me.

There's no explanation for that other than a love we really don't understand, but one that we so greatly need. With that love comes acceptance and as Lisa says, "It is the REAL DEAL."

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.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Perfection = Peace??

Lelia at Write from the Heart is hosting a blog study of Lisa Whittle’s book, Behind Those Eyes, and this week we are looking at Ms. Perfection. She’s somebody many of us know and the girl most of us have tried to be.

Lisa begins the chapter talking about the Great Sunday Morning Fakeout, and I’m sorry to say, “been there, done that!” I still remember the Sunday we announced we were expecting our 3rd child – the time leading up to our departure for church had been chaotic! J.D., 3 at the time was whining about his shoes, Joy, 18 months, was her strong willed self already demanding her way, I’m sure something had been spilt, someone’s clothes didn’t fit…and as we walked out the door, I recall telling Job, “What will people think when we are adding to this?” My worries only grew as Joy had a fit going into church, but still the church family rejoiced at our news. Though they did, I’m ashamed to think how often we’ve tried to play the game and pretend we have it all together. In one way or another, one of the kids always can find a way to keep us honest though, which really is a blessing. (Not just for us but others as well – makes me think of the Casting Crowns song – Stained Glass Masquerade.)

This chapter has really made me think and reflect – I especially like the closing story about Tiffany. I could relate with her desire to please everyone, especially my parents. On the outside it seemed things were all right for me – I had friends, good grades, was a varsity athlete, stayed out of trouble; but on the inside things were different. I struggled. It was a difficult task to be who everyone else thought I was and I made it more of a challenge when I told myself I had to play that role perfectly.

I battled depression my last 2 years of high school, during college and into my teaching career. Though I was hurt, my fear of letting others down kept me struggling in silence. It wasn’t until I reached the point of considering taking my life that I took the mask off and shared my pain.

This difficult moment not only revealed a bit of myself to a few select people, but was also a time when God revealed Himself to me. For 23 years I lived thinking my perfection would bring peace, but it wasn’t until that concept came crashing down did I realize that real peace is a result of His perfection. It has nothing to do with me and the things I do, but everything to do with Christ and what He did.

That was an amazing time and the 9 years since then have been no different. God continues to reveal Himself to me and as He does that, He is constantly changing me. As an individual who’s always been private and more prone to listen than talk, He is calling me out of my comfort zone and asking me to be real.

I’m thankful that I can look back and see that very thing has happened amongst my circle of friends. My friendships have grown because of the transparency and I’ve been blessed to grow closer to some wonderful girls. But yet I know His work is not yet finished because there are still times I play the game, put on the mask and pretend to be who I was. Why?

Because at times it’s easier. Sometimes it’s safer. And others I’m just afraid because I still want to please others and I know not everyone agrees with my faith, so they might not like who I’ve become. But like Tiffany, God has me at a place where I know, “Peace does not come from pleasing others, but from obeying God.”

As I continue on this journey that’s a thought I want to hold onto while I leave the Ms. Perfection costume behind because I know the only way Perfection equals peace is when it is His!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where's your heart?

This was the week I was to blog about Hearts-at-Home, a wonderful ministry that has touched my life. Plans started out alright, but it seems life has taken over these last two days.

Not that it's an excuse, but it has led to some interesting thoughts today. This past Sunday a friend shared a CD entitled, "How's the family?" with me and the speaker suggested we really look at our children, husband and those closest to us. It seems I hear that constantly, "Mom, look at me!!" but how often do I really do that? Sorry to say these last two days not often enough. The speaker didn't just suggest we look at our children but when we do think about what we see...the image of God. That can paint a whole new picture.

The simple reminder led to three wonderful days to start the week, but then life started to take over - there were tomatoes to can, meals to make for men in the field, daily chores that never end, and on and on until work became my focus. Added on to that were worries about the unknown that consumed my mind at times and when combined with work and the chaos of life changed my perspective. Physically I was here, but seemed my heart wasn't always at home.

It hadn't went anywhere, but home wasn't the priority of my heart and that's not a good thing. A year ago I read Jill Savage's "My Hearts at Home" and as I get ready to give a copy away, I think I need to go read mine again!!

As I do that Lelia at Write from the Heart you can add this to your need to read list because you are the winner of the first ever contest of my blog! Congrats and send me your address so I can get it to you.

Remember check out to learn more about keeping your heart at home! There's a wonderful website, great resources and terrific conferences to help you out!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looking back...

Yesterday Lelia started a new study based on Lisa Whittle's book "Behind Those Eyes." I have yet to start the book, but have been touched by reading others thoughts on chapter one. This will be a journey. I read a few posts on Lisa's blog and came across this activity - she instructed a group of women to look at their graduation picture and write a letter to themselves. Being a reflective person, the activity appealed to me.

Though this isn't a post about chapter one, it relates to what's behind those eyes. It's amazing to look back and see who I was and think about who I lived to be. Rarely was it myself, but who I thought others wanted me to be. Here's what I came up with -

Just starting out…
It was 1994 and you didn’t know what the future would hold. Or really even who held it – yes, you knew of God, but you didn’t know Him. You had plans to enjoy the summer – babysit, play a little basketball, show sheep, talk to your roommate, spend time with HS friends, but also had fears of the unknown – you were afraid to leave home, didn’t know what you’d do with your life, and wondered if you could play college ball. You graduated with honors and had many friends; you made people think you had it together. You never got too upset, rarely showed emotion and seldom did you share deep thoughts, but you were always there to listen and at times put up with more than you needed to. You lived to please others, but deep down rarely satisfied yourself. You tried to be who everyone else thought you should be instead of being yourself.

At the time you didn’t know how important it would be to let go of…
…the worry of what others would think.
…the idea that you had to be perfect.
…the thoughts that you weren’t good enough.
…the idea that no one would love you.
…the misconception that you had to do it all.
…the feelings of inadequacy that left you depressed.
…the lie that how you look on the outside is more important than who you are on the inside.
…the regret for things you had done.
…the lie that the more others know the less they’d want to be your friend.

You also never knew how important it would be to hold onto…
…your belief in something bigger than yourself.
…your faith that was beginning to grow.
…the importance of respect and putting others before yourself.
…your desire to work hard and make an impact for good.
…your ability to listen and really be a friend.

When you just started out, you had no idea what the future would hold and now 14 years later, that is still unknown. But you are no longer who you were, you don’t look the same, you don’t think the same and you don’t feel the same. You have grown and you have changed. You realize life isn’t all about you, but know God is all about you – He cares for you, He loves you and He has plans for you. He created you for a purpose all His own and thru the years as you’ve come to know Him, He’s increased your desire to obey. He’s blessed you and gifted you and expects you to share that with others. So let go of the ways of the world and forget their view of success, but hold onto the One who will never let you go and live to glorify Him.

My prayer as the study goes on is 14 years from now when I see a picture of myself, I will see a woman who is the person God created her to be!

If you have a minute, read below about a wonderful ministry that encourages us to be the mom God created us to be and the one our children need us to be!

Our Favorite Time of the Year

Again I'm devoting time this week to Hearts-at-Home and today I'm focusing on their conferences, what some friends and I consider our favorite time of the year!! And we are looking forward to this once again. Check your calendar to see if this is an option for you! This year's theme is Moms Are Magnificent and the conferences are quickly approaching.

The Great Lakes Regional conference will be held in Grand Rapids, MI on October 3rd and 4th while the North Central Regional conference will be held in Rochester, MN on November 7th and 8th. For more information click here.

I will be attending the conference in Rochester and like I said I along with others are counting down the days. This is a wonderful opportunity to be encouraged, refreshed, and spend time with girl friends. But it also provides time to reflect, focus and praise God. It's hard to even put the entire experience to words, but I will try.

This will be the 5th conference I attend and each year I come home thankful for the roles I play - wife, mother, friend and child of God. Speakers address each one of these roles and I'm encouraged and equipped by their words.

The event isn't limited to speakers as Friday night, known as Mom's Night Out, offers music, drama and plenty of laughs. This year Cherri Keagey is the worship leader and Ken Davis is the key note speaker. He was there a couple of years ago and brought everyone to tears, not because of pain or frustration, which happens for Moms, but with his humor. His stories hit home and I'm looking forward to laughing until my face hurts again!

The conference means many things to different people because the break-out sessions cover many areas. There are talks geared towards various stages of parenting, marriage, organizing, personal growth and spiritual growth. There is something for everyone. I have even seen it serve as a wonderful outreach event, which is wonderful!

If it's something that intersts you, I'd look into it - I'm sure you'd be blessed. My kids always cry when I leave and miss me while I'm gone, but someday I'm sure they will thank me because it makes me a better mom!!

If you've attended leave a comment about your experience, or if this is all new leave a question and I'd love to help you out. If you plan to be in Rochester this November let me know, it would be fun to put a face to the name!

Remember I'll be doing a drawing for "My Hearts at Home" on Friday, so be sure to leave contact information.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Interview with Jill Savage

Again we are talking about Hearts-at-Home this week and what better way to get a feel for an organiztion than hear from the one who started it? Here's some words from Jill Savage, the founder of Hearts. Remember leave a comment for a chance to win Jill's latest book on Friday. A few possibilities - your experience with Hearts, how you keep your heart at home or your story with professionalizing motherhood.

Growing up, did you ever see yourself as a mother – better yet, a professional mother? Please explain.
I had one goal in mind growing up…I wanted to be a music teacher. That’s how I envisioned my professional aspirations. I did see myself as a mother, but I felt that a teaching career would work well with motherhood (summers home, same schedule as school age children, etc)

Your organization’s purpose is to help mothers love their lives. Why is motherhood often looked down upon in today’s society?
I think we associate money with value. When a mother contributes to the family in a non-monetary way, we have wrongly assumed that the contribution isn’t as valuable as a monetary contribution.

Should a bright, intelligent, educated and professional young woman shy away from being a wife and mother if, in her heart, she desires to be?
We have the most educated generation of mothers we’ve ever had. We have more mothers with college degrees than any other preceding generation. That makes the decision to solely be a wife and mother an even harder decision to make. I believe however, that full-time motherhood is a valid career choice. A woman who desires to be at home for a season of time is not throwing her education away. As the founders of the former Mothers at Home group used to say, “She is simply applying her good mind and exceptional skills to the nurturing of her family.” And that is valuable!

What does it mean to professionalize motherhood?
Most moms answer the “what do you do” question with “Oh, I’m just a mom.” That answer alone speaks volumes about the lack of value she feels about what she does everyday. However, when a woman thinks of motherhood as a valid profession, she carries herself differently. A professional sets goals, seeks out continuing education, and sees her contribution to society in a positive way. When this woman answers the “what do you do” question, she responds with “I’m a wife and a mom and I love my job. I’m a woman committed to the profession of motherhood.”

What is the meaning of the name “Hearts at Home?”
There are so many good things that a mom can do---not just in the workplace, but also in the volunteer arenas. Before we know it, our heart is tugged in so many different directions. We encourage women to keep their heart at home---making their family their first priority---because we only have one chance to raise our kids.

Briefly describe your ministry and its purpose.
Hearts at Home is a Christ-centered organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. We offer encouragement through our conference events, website (, published resources, bi-monthly magazine, and our newly launched radio program. Our National conference alone, held in Central Illinois every spring, hosts over 5,000 moms each year. The women who attend represent over 30 different states.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Have you heard of Hearts-at-Home? It is a wonderful ministry designed to encourage women in the profession of motherhood. They offer wonderful resources - books, conferences and a website. I have been blessed by all three! This week I'm going to take some time to let you know a little more about this wonderful ministry and how it has impacted me.

My first contact with Hearts at Home was thru Jill Savage's book "Professionalizing Motherhood." I had just made the decision to leave my career as a middle school math teacher to stay home with my son, so the book was put into my hands at the right time. Jill, also a former school teacher, shared her experience of leaving the work world to be a Mom. Her words reminded me of the value of my new profession at a time when others questioned my decision.

A year later, I was able to attend one of Hearts at Homes regional conferences and was truly blessed. I am looking forward to attending my 5th conference in November of this year. I have grown and been encouraged by listening to speakers including Jill Savage, Julie Barnhill, Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Whelchel and Ken Davis.

Come back this week to hear more about Hearts at Home and what they have to offer. Until then check out I also encourage you to leave a comment, possibly how you keep your heart at home and on Friday I will draw a winner from the weeks comments to receive a copy of Jill Savage's latest book, "My Hearts at Home."

What a night...

Last night we had our Celebration of Life and Sisterhood and what a night it was. God put this idea on my mind 2 weeks ago and in the days that passed at times I thought it sounded wonderful and during others I wasn't so sure. But He revealed it to me, and I'm thankful I followed thru.

We started the evening with introductions. I was able to go around the table and individually e each one of my friends and share specifically what they had done for me. It was a great opportunity to share my appreciation and a wonderful reminder that little things make a big difference.

Then after opening with prayer we focused on the celebration of life as we shared the following verses Ps 127:3 – Children are a gift of the LORD. Psalms 139:13 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Listened to Watermarks "Glory Baby" song and had a time to share. The conversation was filled with compassion, stories of sorrow and a few tears, but through it all God was glorified. And we were reminded of His endless grace and perfect plan.

As we transitioned from the celebration of life to that of sisterhood, we listened to one of my all-time favorite songs - "Blessed Be Your Name." The give and take away lines had taken on new meaning once again over the last few weeks, but God presented another idea last night as I sat there. How even when He takes away, He gives - it's not necessarily an even trade, but He is a giving God. And I realized how in the midst of my loss and pain, He still provided - strength, encouragement and wonderful friends. So still I will say...

We moved onto the celebration of sisterhood with 2 verses Prov 17:17- A friend loves at all times. Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work, If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! And then listened to Point of Grace's song "Circle of Friends." It was an honor to sit there in my circle and thank God for each one of these very special "sisters" He has placed in my life. We once again were able to follow up with wonderful conversation, which lifted me and I assume others and I pray honored God.

I closed the night by lighting a candle and giving one to each of my friends. I felt there purpose was three-fold - 1) a gift for my appreciation for all they have meant to me, 2) a reminder of my child, who I will never forget and I pray they don't either and 3) a visual that reminds us to let our light shine.

I'm grateful for my circle of friends and how their light has brightened my life. I wasn't sure how this night would go, but I knew God had impressed it on my heart. Yesterday morning in Sunday School we talked about how when we obey, God will bless and that was the case last night as we celebrated life and sisterhood. Two wonderful gifts our Father has given us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We're having a celebration

I'd like to ask for your prayers for Sunday night as eight of my closest friends and Christian sisters come together. We are having a Celebration of Life and Sisterhood.

Three weeks ago tomorrow we had a miscarriage and exactly a week later God put this idea on my heart. That Saturday was the worst day I had, just overwhelmed with emotions, feelings of depression and in a constant state of sadness.

My husband recognized my need to just be alone, so as he put the kids to bed, I found time to be quiet and talk with God. All day I knew I had let my thoughts run, which had caused me to fall even farther down than the circumstances had already pushed me. Anyway I asked God to help me take my thoughts captive and see good in what seemed so bad.

He answered that prayer and gave me the idea of a celebration. All day I had struggled with the fact that some people hadn't even recognized the loss of our child's life and that hurt. I knew we wouldn't be having a funeral, but still God impressed on me that that didn't have to mean we couldn't celebrate this life.

This child may have only been here for 6 and a half weeks, but God worked thru him or her and taught me things thru this little one that He never will thru my other 3. Though it's been hard I am grateful. That night in the midst of my sadness, it was like He told me to celebrate the life of this child - my baby is important to me, but is even more loved by God, our Father.

The thoughts didn't end there as He reminded me of another reason of celebration - my sisters in Christ. Eight people instantly came to mind who had carried me thru the week that had led to this point. I know they were all praying for me, some had brought meals, others watched our kids, some shared their story and strength, they all had listened, some just sat, hugged and cried. Whatever they had done was important and after these 7 days I had a whole new appreciation for this circle of friends.

Now in the two weeks that passed since that night, God is conintuing to teach me, comfort me and guide me while my circle of friends surround me, lift me up and help me focus on Him. And at the same time He's already using this hard time from my life to help me minister to others as one of my friends is twelve days behind me on her walk thru a miscarriage.

So we not only celebrate the life of my child, but my friends as well. I'm not sure how this night of celebration will look or what it will hold, but I trust God put it on my heart, so I know it's in His hands. On the invite cards I said it was a night for healing and prayer along with sharing and praise, so I pray that will happen and we'll all be blessed and He will be glorified.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No Regrets

Lelia at Write from the Heart has been hosting a study and we've come to the end of "What Happens When Women Walk in Faith" by Lysa TerKeurst. What a journey it has been. I have seen my life in the pages of this book and would highly encourage you to check it out for yourself.

This last chapter is entitled "Every Promise Fulfilled." And it's true, that is what God does - He is a promise keeper! And his promises aren't the ones we enjoyed as a child, they are much bigger than that! He promises to strengthen us, never leave us, nor forsake us.

Though I realize these promises why do I doubt? As I walk this road of faith, God is directing me in directions I never expected and leading me through situations I never envisioned. At times the walk is lonely, but He is always there - that promise is true. At times the pain is hard to bear, but His strength is sufficient - that promise is true as well.

He has proven faithful time and time again, so now as I approach a new bend in the road, why do I worry? Because I don't know what lies on the other side - it may be joy, but it might be pain, only God knows. Really the question shouldn't be "what's on the other side?" because that's not what it's all about. The question I need to ask myself is "Do I trust Him?"

If I do, I will go because no matter what's over the hill, He promises to work it together for good. Another promise I know He will fulfill!

So I'll close with Lysa's words, "Continue striving to become a woman who looks back on her walk with God with no regrets. For that, my friend, is the real dream." And one only God can help us reach, so trust in Him and let the journey continue!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I don't understand...

I know there are things I will never understand, but in a month with many struggles I feel a bit like my kindergarten son would feel if I enrolled him in algebra. Confusion would be created and questions would arise.

A month ago today I found out I was pregnant, not our plans, but obviously God's. After wrestling with the overwhelming news for a couple of days, I embraced God's plan and welcomed the gift He had given.

Two weeks ago tomorrow I was forced with returning the gift He had sent because of a miscarriage. The pain was and at times still is indescribable, the questions have no answers and thus I don't understand. I know God is in control, but it's hard...

Then this past Tuesday I was faced with an opportunity that most people would be ecstatic about - a publisher wants to publish my book. Rather than excitement I have fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what other's will think as they read personal thoughts straight from my journal, and fear of how my mom will react when I tell the world about the importance of spiritual mentoring and the role my "spiritual mom" plays in my life. I don't understand how an answer to prayer has me feeling like I'm in a place of despair...

Finally, last night a close friend who's only child is 3 days younger than our little Jaylyn, called to tell me we have something else in common. She experienced a miscarriage yesterday and now rather than experiencing pregnancy together again and watching our children grow up together, now we have playmates in heaven. I don't understand...

So what do we do when we don't understand? A question I've asked all too often here lately, but I was reminded of the answer today on Lelia's blog - we praise Him. Our circumstances may change, but He never does. Even when life seems bad, He is working for our good. He is worthy of my praise even though I don't understand.