Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking for an opinion...

As many of you know God has been working on my heart lately to step out and share my faith, well with his strength, I'm trying to be obedient. At times some of this doesn't make sense and can be overwhelming, but he keeps moving me forward.

So currently I'm in the process of publishing a book I have co-authored with a close friend. It is titled, Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship. And as this moves forward, I'm realizing what God has really put on my heart is not just encouraging others to live out Titus 2, but to really share their faith.

So with that another project that is way bigger than me - organizing a woman's conference. It's been on my mind for over 2 years, but starting to become a reality. We meet tomorrow to set a date and discuss what comes next.

This is where I need your opinion - the event will need a name, something that will catch others attention, so over the past week my mind has been at work trying to come up with something. Our goals are to encourage others to live out Titus 2 (spiritual mentoring) and share their faith with their life.

So I've come up with Share and Shine (Share your story, Shine His Light), Connect Life - Reflect Light (Connect your life with God and others, Reflect His Light with your life), Ignite, and on and on, but this morning God put something else in my head -

Anyway this morning, I'm laying in bed - it's 4:30 and I'm awake, well time keeps ticking by and my husband's alarm goes off - time to rise and shine. It hit me - Rise and Shine, the name of the conference. A few thoughts to add with it - the Son did rise and still shines, we're called to rise up to what God has for us and shine His light as we walk that path. Even how sometimes literally rising and shining is a challenge, doing that for Him can be as well, but still it's what we need to do. Then thought of the song I sing up the stairs in the morning for J.D. and Joy, I say "rise and shine" and they finish with "give God the glory, glory!" Guess that's what we are doing with this conference idea, rising up to do what he's calling us to do, sharing His light with our lives and praying He gets the glory!

So my question, what would you think of a "Rise and Shine" Conference for Women? As my husband said the title is catchy, but is it goofy? Just looking for some insight, and looking forward to what my wonderful blog friends have to offer!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Speaking Truth to Your Issues

It is again Tuesday, time for Lelia's study of Jennifer Rothschild's, Self Talk, Soul Talk. And again the book is saying just what I need to hear. This weeks chapter is titled, Speaking Truth to Your Issues - exactly what I need to do and slowly what God is helping me do.

Last week I wrote about some struggles, doubts and fears, which all grew as I listened to the negative talk in my head. But once I quieted myself, I was able to hear God's voice. Jennifer shared a bit of her soul-talk story and I'd like to do the same...

Last week as God continued to lead me forward with things God has put on my heart, I was excited and afraid all at the same time. For a long time I actually fought to even do these things, but once I realized that was a losing battle, I submitted. But only with the thought that, "I'll take one step and then the door will close." Mainly because there is no way I can or deserve to do these things He's leading me too.

Well over 2 years have passed and He has yet to close the door instead it seems just as I walk thru one, He is opening the next. That is exciting - I mean to experience God's faithfulness is a real blessing, but at the same time there is fear. I often wonder, "God are you sure? Don't you need someone else?" I'm realizing those thoughts are wrong because basically when I doubt myself, I'm actually doubting Him. And that makes no sense at all!!

Anyway the other day I realize my mind is going in the wrong direction (makes me think of my sister and her famous quote, "realization is half the battle" True!). As doubt is filling my mind I hear myself say, "Just look at you." But before the negative thoughts continue, I find myself just quiet and God says, "But child, look at me."

And like Jennifer said, God's spirit will remind us of truth. I was instantly reminded of Peter walking on water. What an amazing story! Do you ever wonder if he thought of doing that as a child? I'm sure if he did, common sense told him it would never happen, but God... I thought about what Peter was able to do when he kept his eyes on Christ - something common sense told him would never happen, but with God it was possible.

I know that is the case with me, I take my eyes off of Him and focus on myself and bad things happen. Just like Peter I start to sink! Not a good thing and though I have no intentions of walking across our neighbor's pond anytime soon, I'm looking forward to walking ahead with my eyes on Christ and doing the very thing that in my eyes seems impossible.

So that's my story and now I encourage you to think about your's. What voice are you listening to? Find time to quiet yourself so you can hear His.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sharing my story...Shining His Light

I have just finished putting together a talk I plan to share in 3 days with the women's Sunday School class I lead. I would love to hear any input you would like to offer...

Sunday School – Jan. 25, 2009 - Sharing My Story…Shining His Light

Once upon a time there was a little girl who grew up going to Sunday School and trying to be good. As she grew, she was confirmed, taught SS and fell in love…with basketball. The game was her life – when there was nothing to do, she was playing the game or watching it. Her life revolved around the ball. Though she had some success on the basketball floor, there were struggles elsewhere. The girl felt like she wasn’t good enough and often cried herself to sleep.

Though times were lonely, life continued on. She went on to college and the love her life went with her. She continued playing ball, but even though that goal was reached the sadness still was there. It grew when she suffered a career ending injury the end of her freshman year. There wasn’t just sadness, but frustration too as she wrestled with the “Why’s?”

Again life goes on and eventually it seemed she found an answer – “why the injury? It helped her make a decision - with her playing days behind her, it made sense to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. Before graduation she had a chance to practice her future role and found joy in the path she had chosen. And confirmation that some of her Bible study teammates were right, there was a reason for her injury. She could now reach out to her players when they were hurt.

With this new found knowledge days and months continued to pass – she had landed a real job, was teaching her own class and coaching her own team. Goals she had set were now being met, but yet there was still something missing. She thought, “maybe it’s the love of my life” – basketball wasn’t the same and as classmates were married, she wondered if she’d ever even date! The times of loneliness added to the sadness that had never really went away. The feelings of despair only increased as she hide her pain from others.

The sadness was bad enough, but feelings of failure pushed her deeper into the pit that was already there. By September of her second year teaching depression had taken over. The little girl who had never quit on the basketball court was ready to quit in the game of life. One Tuesday night she came home from coaching a volleyball game full of frustrations and feeling of no value, so she pulled out her journal to write some final thoughts. She sat on her bed scribbling, sobbing and shaking, so much so that everything she’d tucked in the book fell out.

The thing that caught her attention was a thank you note she’d received a week earlier from a parent of a girl she had coached. This mom thanked her for encouraging her daughter thru an injury and for being a bright spot in her life. The words were enough to shake her up a bit more – she then reached for the phone instead of her keys and called for help rather than going on a ride that would end it all. Her Wartburg teammates were right, there was a reason for the injury, it helped save her life.

The girls parents came, listened and offered their help. She was diagnosed with depression and the medication helped, but the real cure was soon to follow.

One day she was home alone in the apartment when she picked up her roommate’s book, I Kissed Dating Good-bye. With one date on her resume the girl knew she didn’t need any help, but still she read on. And as she did she began to understand the reason for the loneliness – it wasn’t because basketball was taken away, it wasn’t because her little sister was getting married and she’d never had a boyfriend, it was because she really didn’t know Jesus.

As she read about Him being the first love in her life, she remembered things – kind faces, encouraging words, Billy Graham on TV, Pastor Tim’s talks at the summer barbeque she always enjoyed, genuine love from others (some of you sitting right here) and she knew she wanted what they had – Him. So one day as the 90’s were slipping away that little girl prayed to receive Christ and committed to living her life for Him.

Well, as you know the little girl is me and if you’re wondering “is there a happily ever after?” – yes and no. There have been numerous joys – no more depression medication, 3 months later I went on my first date with a prince named Job, 7 months later we were engaged, 8 years later we have 3 children, the list goes on. But this walk with Christ hasn’t always been easy – the change in me and my priorities hasn’t been accepted or understood by some and as God calls me out of my comfort zone there’s plenty of moments of doubt, but still I wouldn’t trade where I am now with where I was then.

Like I said God put it on my heart to share this, does that mean you need to do the same? No! And I’m sure some of you are relieved to hear that answer because trust me I’ve been there, but God has moved from there to here, so never say never. To give you a better picture of where I was – I remember the first SS class I came to in this church, the adults met up stairs, we watched a video and then they had us count off and get in groups to pray. Let’s just say I was instantly sick – I honestly don’t remember if I said anything out loud, but I do remember Chris Back prayed for me specifically and God just touched my heart with that. And now 7 ½ years later, I’m praying out loud with the men’s class standing on the steps.

So I guess a few things I’ve learned – shining our light makes a difference - we never know what big thing God can do with our little things. Sometimes it’s big things in the world and others it’s right here in our own church. As we think about how to shine in the community let’s not forget how we can do that right here too. Maybe it’s sharing your music, maybe it’s an encouraging note, a call to say hi or maybe it’s sharing your story. Just ask God to show you and when He opens the door, walk thru it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Choosing Wise Words

Last Friday I had one of those days - a day of doubts, I can'ts and I don't deserve this. Now it wasn't because something bad had happened, just the opposite actually. Over the past couple of years God has put somethings on my heart and I am now seeing it all start to come together. Which is extremely exciting, but at the same time I feel so unworthy.

This is a feeling that's been there before and I've posted about it, but it really took hold last week. Here's a glimpse of what was rolling around in my head - God I can't do this, so and so would do a better job - she knows more than me, she's a better speaker and she's prettier and you get the idea. These undeserving thoughts then led to doubts, which only created more problems.

So by that evening I took the negative talk a step further - it went from a silent voice in my head to words I actually spoke to my husband. I asked, "What is wrong with me?" He assures me, "Nothing," so then I ask, "Then why am I so messed up?" Well the kind guy that he is he assured me I wasn't messed up either.

Though maybe I'm not, I realized my mind was. I have started reading Jennifer Rothschild's Self Talk, Soul Talk and as I heard these questions come out of my mouth it hit me that the conversation I'd been having with myself all day was not based on truth.

So I decided to pick it up and read the chapter Lelia will discuss on her blog this week. It was titled, "Choosing Wise Words," how timely was that?!! As I read on and proceeded to underline almost every sentence, I was convicted.

Words I had heard in my mind came back - "You're so pathetic, you can't do that, nobody will listen to you and on and on." Wise words, not quite! So what do we do? Jennifer went on to share her answer...

"Our thoughts and our actions flow from our assumptions...assumptions are the root and our thoughts are the action." Then she went on to say "the root of right thinking is always an assumption based on truth." Well it was obvious to me many of my assumptions have been wrong and my focus has been off as well.

I've been concentrating on my inability rather than God's ability, my weakness rather than God's strength, the outside rather than the inside, my insecurities instead of my secure place in God's arms, my worries instead of God's provision, my doubts over God's faithfulness. All wrong thinking and thoughts based on wrong assumptions. Because of that I was really touched by her words, "You are too valuable and life is too important to risk living according to faulty assumptions."

It takes more than recognizing the truth in the statement, I need to apply it to my life, which will take work, prayer, time, more prayer, trust, grace, more work and more prayer. It's a constant process of "examining your own heart and mind." Like Jennifer, we must all ask ourselves, "Do you fear the Lord? Whose truth do you elevate most highly in your life? Yours, our culture's, or God's?"

When we put Him first, he will not only help us choose wise words, but provide the ones we need to hear. And He will also remind us of His presence, strength and power.

With that I will close with a scene from last night - I was helping my little Joy, who just turned 4 last month, get ready for bed. We had a bit of a dispute over her putting on her diaper for nighttime. She didn't want to do it, but I reminded her we needed to get 4 stickers in a row before we went without and then it hit. My little girl who can do everything and possesses confidence I sometimes admire had a melt down. She was sobbing and simply saying, "I can't, I can't, I can't." Honestly I was surprised - 1) we haven't made a big deal out of this and 2) I've rarely ever heard her say "I can't" and she was almost out of control with it. So I just held her, had a little talk and we prayed that God would help her stay dry. She goes to bed and all is fine...for her, but the scene keeps running thru my mind - I hurt for my little girl and after experiencing 32 years of living with too many I can'ts my mind starts thinking how can I break that cycle. I fell asleep praying about that and knowing God will hear and answer.

But the story doesn't end there, as this morning I woke up and God had this picture in my head and on my heart once again. Only this time I was the crying little girl and He was the reassuring strong parent. It was like He said, you know Joy won't wear diapers forever and I can see the future too and though some tasks seem impossible now, you can do it, you will do it. And my daughter just as you encourage your child, hold her and help her, I will do the same.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Words Count

Once again it is Tuesday and time for Lelia's Yes to God study. We are currently on the second chapter of Self Talk, Soul Talk and this week our focus is on "Renewing Your Thought Closet." Jennifer is continuing to look at what we put in our thought closet. And all too often it's like our one for clothes - full of things that don't belong.

She mentions that "our words count. Perhaps we would all benefit from measuring and contemplating our words the same way a writer does before the stroke of her pen. You see, we all write on the surfaces of our own minds when we speak to ourselves."

Those words are so true, but ones I haven't spent much time thinking about until I picked up this book. I've always been one to encourage others and speak truth to them, but when it came to myself - it seemed a different story. I was quick to believe all things were possible for them and they were wonderfully made by God, but the message I told myself was no where near that. I could relate to the negative messages and labels Jennifer shared, which I'm sure is true for many of us.

Why can it be so easy to lift another with truth, but at the same time bury ourselves with lies? That's a question I've been thinking about lately and it seems God has put this answer on my heart - it ultimately comes down to what we believe and who we trust.

Honestly it can be a lot easier for me to believe something for someone else than it is for myself. Ultimately because I know the whole story when it comes to my personal situations - I know who I really am, the mistakes I've made, the pain I've experienced. And Satan loves to bring those memories, thoughts and regrets back, which allows doubt to creep in. Sometimes that comes by opening the drawer to our negative thoughts and self-inflicted pain.

Once that drawer opens it seems the same thing happens that takes place in my bedroom when my soon to be 2 year old stumbles onto a open drawer. She doesn't just drag one thing out, but empties the contents entirely until nothing is left but a frustrating mess. I'm beginning to realize the same thing is true in my mind. Listening to one lie typically leads to a mess of many more.

So as the study begins I'm reminded of the one we just finished - God knows who we really are, more so than I do myself and He loves me and wants to fill me with His truth. So like Jennifer says I must remember, "You can't remove those hurtful thoughts, words, and memories, but by the power of God, you can drain them of their potential control over you."

I look forward to moving ahead and cleaning my closet and I trust in return, He will draw me closer and I will hear Him better.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Thank you all for your prayers in response to my previous post - they have been answered. Mallory was found by police close to 7 hours after her parents were called. She is in a safe place, but we continue to pray God would soften her heart and draw her back to Him. Thank you all.

Please pray...

for Mallory and her parents, Harold and Jennifer. Mallory, the 15 year old daughter of one of my best friends has had some major struggles over the last year. In June she was placed at Orchard Park and has since been diagnosed as bi-polar.

Well last night things took a turn for the worse as her mom called and told me to pray. A staff member had called to inform them that she had run away and the police had been called. Now 12 hours later I have yet to hear an update and my mind wonders and heart hurts for Mallory, a young girl from a town of maybe 700 now running and hiding in our state's capital.

My heart also hearts for her parents who are left to truly put their daughter in God's hands. I ask you to simply lift them all up. And please pray for me as well, as I work to be a support and encouragement for Jennifer in this very difficult time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Put to the test...

Last night an hour after posting about the things I tell myself I was put to the test and I'm sorry to say for awhile I failed!!

As my night was coming to an end, my mind took over. After spending time with a loved one who is upset with and doesn't understand my obedience to God and desire to share, I recalled things that had been said and started hearing negative talk from days gone by. Then I proceeded to brush my teeth and caught a glimpse in the mirror when more words from the past reappeared. Plans are being made to take the photo that will be on the back of my book and as I looked at myself I heard, "You can't put your picture on a book. Your teeth are crooked. Your hair's a mess..." So by this time I was down and the ball continued to roll as other thoughts came to mind.

Finally, things paused and I thought of the chapter I had just read and wrote about - my exact words were, "I'm eager to leave the negative self talk behind and replace it with powerful soul talk that comes from God's word instead of my mind!" And for a minute, my old ways came to life as I heard, "You've failed again." Thankfully I was able to counter that with His words of truth.

Though I can't quote exact verses God gave me a truth for every lie I had been telling myself. I recalled how the Bible tells us those without faith can't understand and then he reminded me how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Even though I've struggled with my looks since my days as a tomboy, God created me and loves me just the way I am. The conversation continued and I was blessed by the new articles that He was putting into my thought closet.

And though I initially failed the test, I'm grateful that God is a God of second chances! I left a comment yesterday telling Lelia how we need to trust (I think the reminder was for me!!). As we move forward with the study I trust God has plans for good!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pink Elephants

I can recall a motivational pep-talk the head coach gave a team 9 years ago when I was an assistant coach. She was talking to the girls about the game we were to play in just a few minutes and things they were to think about. She had them close their eyes and went on to say, "Keep your eye on the ball. Your glove down..." but in the middle of her list she simply said, "But don't think about pink elephants!" She then asked the team what they saw and you're right most of them said, "Pink elephants."

She used that to remind them how they couldn't go up to bat thinking they'd strike out or stand in the field hoping the ball wouldn't come their way. They had to be confident and think positively. And most of all they had to be telling themselves the right thing. The team and coaches could encourage all day, but ultimately the voice they listened to would be their own.

Which brings me to Lelia's new blog book study, Self Talk, Soul Talk - What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothshchild. Today we are looking at chapter one - Not So Well With My Soul.

She is addressing the messages we tell ourselves. I could relate to her words about not being good enough. Through the years it seems that is what I have told myself the most. It didn't matter if it was sports, talking in front of class, dating, the list goes on, but the message pretty much stayed the same.

Like she said, "A battle was being waged in my mind and I never even realized its impact at the time." How true, but I am thankful that 30 years into this game we call life I'm learning not to think about or talk about pink elephants.

I'm grateful I've learned this, but at the same time am looking forward to what Jennifer has to share as we move forward with this book. Currently I'd say the soundtrack of my self talk is neutral with an occasional condemning track and every once in awhile a more encouraging word.

I'm eager to leave the negative self talk behind and replace it with powerful soul talk that comes from God's word instead of my mind!

Monday, January 5, 2009

"The Reason for Raising"

You hear a new Mom say,
“She sleeps thru the night,
sits by herself and patty cakes, too,
she’s growing up so fast.”
But the Mom who’s been there before says,
“That’s what you raise them for.”

A young Mom says,
“He can ride a bike,
tie his shoes & write the ABC’s,
he’s growing up so fast.”
Again, the Mom reminds her,
“That’s what you raise them for.”

Time goes by and she says,
“Now she can drive by herself,
plays on the team and babysits.
She’s growing up so fast.”
But she remembers,
“That’s what you raise them for.”

A few years pass and she says,
“He’s been to the prom,
had senior pictures and is visiting colleges.
He’s growing up so fast.”
But again she hears,
“That’s what you raise them for.”

Time marches on and she says,
“She graduated from college,
was married and will soon be a Mom.
She grew up so fast.”
But her mom reminds her,
“That’s what you raise them for.”

Years go by and you hear her say,
“She did so much for me –
listened to my troubles,
cheered at my success and
led me to the Lord.
She’s gone too fast.”
But then she heard God say,
“That’s what I raise them for.”