Friday, December 14, 2007

What if...You Saw Yourself as a Gift?

THE GIFT OF YOU

Last weekend, I spoke to a women’s group for their Christmas dinner event. My topic was called “The Gift of You.” Every time I do this talk, whether it is during the holidays or another time of year, I get the same response each time. In essence, audience members wonder “Do I really see myself as a gift to others?”

For this particular group, after I finished my talk, I had them go around their tables sharing how each woman was a gift to others. Do you think it was an easy task for them to do? No, it was not. As one woman put it, “It’s a lot easier saying how others are a gift in my life, but it’s hard when the focus is on me.”

So why is it so difficult for you to see how you are a gift to others? Here is what I noticed in my own life and lives of others over the years:

1. Too much focus is on performance. If you can’t do something perfect or well, you have nothing to offer.

2. You rely on people and circumstances to define who you are by what you do. I call these ‘externals.’ These externals will wind up disappointing you because they shift and change like the wind.

3. Your childhood environment plays a huge role in your confidence level as an adult. Whether you grew up in the shadow of another sibling, were spoiled and didn’t have to learn responsibility, or other circumstances, they play a part in how you view yourself today.

WAYS TO START SEEING YOURSELF AS A GIFT TO OTHERS:

1. Think about your personality and characteristics. Find the positive. (It’s so easy to be self-critical!) What have others commented to you. Ask for input if you’re stuck from those who really know you personally and/or professionally. Try to come up with your positive qualities by yourself first. “Know thyself.”

2. Take note throughout your day of your interactions with others. What ‘theme’ do you notice about yourself?

3. Notice the people and circumstances that give you energy where you walk away feeling positive. This helps show you how you are a gift-it brings out your true values and qualities.

Live Out Loud and Merry Christmas!!

What if … we changed our philosophy?

After receiving an email from a good friend of mine I had to share this with the What if women. With Christmas next week, I thought another Peanuts video would be great to remind us to not stress during the holidays but all that really matters is spending time with family, friends and loved ones - those who care!

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

What if . . . we gave thanks?

Enjoy this Classic Peanuts Thanksgiving Dinner.

Monday, November 5, 2007

What if ... you pondered the Ten Commandments over a ten week period?

I know as I first pondered the ten commandments over a ten week period for the Mirror Mirror on the Wall Book Project, I received tremendous blessings in my own personal walk with the Lord through my own devotions.

Being able to read the writings/devotions of the other nine women who contributed to this book project, I am even more blessed as I now get to ponder the ten commandments once again but from the personal experiences, thoughts and creativity of others helping me to gain even more insight into the ten commandments.

What if ... you pondered the ten commandments over a ten week period and added your own thoughts, devotions and prayers to the end of each commandment?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What If...We Wrote A Book?



The Question:

What do you get when you gather Ten Women pondering the Ten Commandments for a period of Ten Weeks?

The Answer:

The first collaborative book project of the Pink Collar Club.

Yep. You read it right. The Pink Collar Club publishes our first book ever! And not without the total commitment of 10 women writers not to mention the fabulous Anne Goodrich who tirelessly perfected the graphics and layout for Mirror, Mirror...On The Wall. It's stunning, isn't it? (Thank you, my friend. What more can I say?)

The seed for Mirror, Mirror...On The Wall was planted back in December 2006 but the original intention for the content of this book was NOT the Ten Commandments but rather reflecting the promises of God. As the matter of fact, I told the story of exactly how Mirror, Mirror...On The Wall came to be in the introduction of the book. (I also recorded it and posted it on the Pink Collar Club website. Maybe you'll listen?)

But the "real meat" of the book comes from 10 women who openly (and creatively) shared from the heart the meaning of each commandment personally. But don't look for a dry read. Oh, no. We have Penney who compares each commandment to a 1970s song, Anne who wrote some beautiful poetry, Lynn included "tips" in each of her writings and so much more. How's that for creativity?

I must say that one of the biggest perks of writing a book like this lies in the personal blessings bestowed upon the writers. God used this book to touch the lives of each of us and I believe He will use it to touch the lives of the readers as well. I really do.

So...today is a day of celebration. And, it's also my birthday. Let's celebrate!

What If...We Wrote A Book?

Well, we did!

Friday, November 2, 2007

What if...We Didn't Burn Out?

Last night, my family and I witnessed a spectacular event: A power line near our home exploded, snapped, and caught fire. The weather caused this power line to send a surge of electricity that, at first, did not wipe out our power, but did so later on for an extended period of time. Thankfully, no one in our neighborhood was hurt, and fire trucks and the electric company were on the scene immediately.

This event made me think of how often we run on “power surges” in our own lives. For example, I have a colleague who has three major projects running right now, and she asked me to be a collaborator on her next book project. I told her I was tired just listening to all she was trying to juggle. I let her know of my concern that if she doesn’t slow down and maybe postpone one of her projects, she’ll burn out and be left without any energy. Sound familiar?

There is usually something innate in all of us that drive us to perform, to perfect, to catch up on, etc. Have you ever gotten to the end of that ‘power surge’ and find that the result didn’t quite meet your expectation for all the work you put into it? Therein lies the burnout.


TIPS TO PREVENT BURNOUT:

1. IDENTIFY YOUR POWER SOURCE. If you rely completely on yourself for your physical and emotional energy through every facet of your life, you will burn out time after time. After each power surge, you will probably notice it takes longer to recover. For those of you who rely on God as your power source, 2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing POWER is from God and not from us.

2. SOLICIT HELP FROM OTHERS whenever possible. I have a friend who does everything herself and at times when she has ‘turned over duties’ to someone else, she has always redone their work. Learn to trust others. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness!!

3. RE-PRIORTIZE YOUR TIMELINE. If you have several projects that are urgent to you, ask yourself “What’s most important right now?” Evaluate the amount of time it will take for each project (days, weeks, etc.) and start with the one project that excites you. If none of them ‘wow’ you, start with the project that will take the least amount of time to get done. When you have finished it, it will motivate you to keep moving instead of procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What if ... we were inspired to learn more about prayer?

Prayer has been something I feel we should always be willing to learn more about. I believe there are no right or wrong ways to pray but it is something we each should personally develop in our own lives. Not only to help us get through our trials in life but to deepen our walk with the Lord and have fellowship with our Father in heaven.

What if ... we were inspired by others to learn more about prayer?

Bonnie St. John has inspired many people with her own life and what she has accomplished despite her disability but wanted to share how prayer was a big part of it all and has written a book titled "How Strong Women Pray". The book also shares what twenty seven other inspiring women such as Barbara Bush, Kathy Lee Gifford and Amy Grant said about what the power of prayer has done for them in their lives in her interviews with them.

To learn more about Bonnie and watch a video of her interview on Conversations with Carlos Sanchez at: http://www.howstrongwomenpray.com.

Also, you will get a chance to see Bonnie on November 2nd as she will appear on the Today Show on NBC to discuss her new book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For California and Randee



God, make me brave for life: oh, braver than this.
Let me straighten after pain, as a tree straightens after the rain,
Shining and lovely again.
God, make me brave for life; much braver than this.
As the blown grass lifts, let me rise
From sorrow with quiet eyes,
Knowing Thy way is wise.
God, make me brave, life brings
Such blinding things.
Help me to keep my sight;
Help me to see aright
That out of dark comes light.

(author unknown)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What If...You Were Saved From The Fire?

I sent this email out to the women of the Pink Collar Club this morning. I wrote the letter yesterday morning and updated it this morning when we got the news.

Dear Pink Collar Club,

I sit in front of my television screen at the prompting of my husband only to witness the most intense devastation I've seen in a very long time. Only this time the devastation hits a little too close to home.

I have family directly in the midst of these destructive fires and a brother-in-law who is fighting the fires. Double whammy. (I am referring to the southern California wildfires.)

My husband and I are glued to the screen most of the day and praying in between news flashes as we watch the areas closely. Neighborhood after neighborhood is being wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of individuals evacuated from their homes. Total destruction. The flames are blazing.

I shudder as I try to stay in the moment but my mind begins to drift into the thought of eternal fire and destruction. I shudder again and try as I might to maintain my focus...the here and the now.

Will you stop for a moment to pray for those in the midst of this fire and more importantly those on their way to eternal fire? God help us.

Blessings,
Randee

Recent Update:

The phone rang at 4:21 this morning. My inlaws have been evacuated and placed in a local community center among other "displaced" individuals. The fires have hit their neighborhood. It doesn't look like their house will survive the fires. The material culmination of a lifetime gone in moments but praise God for saving them.

What If...You Were Saved From The Fire?

Both temporary and eternal. Are you?

Monday, October 22, 2007

What if ... we witness for Jesus on Halloween

Halloween is a very touchy subject for many Christians and are often confused whether they should participate in Halloween or not. Last year at the Virtuous Women's Retreat I had someone speak on the topic where he shared how we should participate in the holiday but participate in order to bring the light of Jesus to the world rather then the darkness that is so often portrayed.

I came across an article with 4 fun alternatives for Halloween at: http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org/Christian-Halloween-alternatives.html
to help you plan how you are going to spend this Halloween if you haven't already done so.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What if....We Defined Success Differently?

I was interviewed by the producer of a show called “Anything But Ordinary” which provides inspiring stories of individuals’ success and the road that led to it. As I have put together my interview questions, the “What is Success?” question I have asked coaching clients over the years has really provoked a lot of thought as to what message I want to convey to the audience. Since my passion is helping others LIVE OUT LOUD, take a look at the list below to help you think how you really have been successful in YOUR own way.


Here are a few thoughts to help you define your personal success:

1. Are you living your life according to what’s most important? (living your priorities?)

2. Forget about how society or others define success. We all have a unique design and cannot be put into a cookie-cutter mentality.

3. Answer this question: “How do I define success?”

4. If you are not feeling successful, you must be willing to determine if you are living by others’ expectations or by your God-given design.

5. Are there any roadblocks to your success? (i.e. your own thoughts saying you aren’t successful, current life circumstances, etc.)

6. MONEY DOES NOT EQUAL SUCCESS! Especially here in the U.S., that is how success is defined. Refer to above questions to define your personal success!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What If...You Let Your Dream Begin?

Lynn sent me an email a few days ago introducing me to a new community. She had been contacted by a member of the organization giving kudos to The What If...Women blog. They were generous enough to place a link from their blog to ours. I couldn't resist checking them out and now I'd like to share this beautiful community with you.

Let Your Dream Begin is a community of dreamers led by Josh Golder.

Josh Golder has overcome incredible adversity in his own life in order to live his dreams. Now, he’s on a mission to help others achieve theirs by building a community of like-minded dreamers...a community in which all members will help each other to live lives of passion and purpose.

What I find so refreshing is the generosity of Josh Golder. You needn't look any further than his website to find a man of intentional generosity. The focus of his community is on the dreams of others. He asks this question with four answers:

How Do I Start Living My Dream?

Join the Dream Community Mailing List.

Tell Us Your Dream.

Make Connections In The Dream Community.

Attend A Live Dream Event.

The What If...? Women blog is all about "pondering the possibilities" and I find it completely fitting that we would add our voices to the Let Your Dream Begin community.

I already have. How about you?

Friday, October 12, 2007

What if...We could build more courage?

My oldest daughter was nominated to be a Student Ambassador to Europe this summer. We are all very excited. She has her interview before the committee next week and is anxious about it because it reminds her of the interview she had last year for an opportunity to visit Japan through my husband’s work. She was not chosen for the Japan program, so she thinks this interview will turn out the same way. My husband and I reassured her that these are two very different programs and this upcoming interview is more of a formality, rather than a heavy part of the selection process. I also reminded her that she received all the points she needed on her Japan interview, meaning she interviews well. Sometimes, that confidence needs to come from within!

Does this ring a bell for you? Have you ever been a little ‘gun-shy’ about engaging in a similar situation that didn’t turn out in your favor?

TIPS TO BUILD COURAGE:

1. Be willing to evaluate the last situation that didn’t go well for you and examine the pros and cons. If you only see the negative, talk it over with a friend or colleague for a more objective point of view.

2. Courage means seeing beyond what you think and believe you want or need. If something doesn’t happen in your favor, it could be there is another opportunity to come.

3. Trust that you can gain a strength that God provides, and can give you a positive boost of confidence and energize you. You don’t have to do it alone.

4. List the positive characteristics and talents you have. Don’t be modest! Ask others for input. Keep this posted somewhere as a daily reminder of what you contribute to this world!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What If...You Met Them Where They Are?

Several weeks ago, my husband and I went to Chicago for a wedding. We had our plan in tact:

We would fly out on a non-stop from Kansas City to Chicago.

We would catch the train into the city.

We would walk the 3 blocks to our cousin's apartment.

The plan went accordingly and as we stepped off the train in the heart of Chicago, my husband called his cousin to let him know that we were on our way to his house and we began the 3 block walk.

Much to our surprise, within minutes we saw our cousin in complete view on the other side of the street.

He came to meet us where we were...

and walk us to his home personally.

As the leader of a women's organization, God has been teaching me a powerful lesson recently. I can almost hear His words audibly:

Meet them where they are, Randee. This is your job as leader.

I have made the mistake in the past of waiting for others to come to me; particularly when a task was clearly outlined and agreed upon by the individual and myself. After all...Am I my brother's keeper? (Sound familiar? Ouch.)

In reading through the Gospels, I see how often Jesus met them where they were. He found common ground with His followers. He spoke their language. He was able to beautifully pinpoint a need to be met and then fulfilled that need.

Oh, how the desire of my heart is to be a leader like Him. How far I have to go but in His mercy and grace, He gives me one opportunity after another to demonstrate His kind of leadership. How precious is our Lord for...

He meets me where I am.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What if ... we learned the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership

I had read some time ago when my sister borrowed me John C. Maxwell's book called "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" and found it to be a wonderful book. Unfortunately I had to return the book to her. It is a book that I wanted to keep on my bookshelf to be able to go back to from time to time and learn from and gain new insights into becoming more of a leader myself.

So when I heard about the new revised and updated 10th anniversary edition of his book, I had to get my hands on it. The new revised edition includes seventeen new leadership stories, two new laws of leadership introduced, a new evaluation tool that reveals your leadership strengths and weaknesses and application exercises in every chapter to help you grow. View his video about the book on GodTube below:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

What If...We Made It To 100 Posts?

I couldn't resist announcing this momentous occasion.

The What If...? Women reaches 100 posts!

Yep. You read it right.

This is offically the 100th post of The What If...? Women.

When Lori called me with this fabulous idea those few months ago, I jumped at the opportunity with an invitation to Anne, Norka, and Lynn.

They accepted and here we are!

So, please join in our celebration by leaving a comment.

What if ... we allowed our kids to keep us young?

When I was younger I never appreciated when I seemed to always be the youngest person in any adult gathering but now that I am getting older with kids of my own that are growing so fast, I miss being the youngest. It seems I am now the oldest person in many adult gatherings making me feel older then I'd like.

This past week after going to a roller skating rink with my kids for my daughters birthday, I realize, too often, that I allow the fact that I have kids and seeing how fast they grow up, keep my mindset on how I'm getting older as well, giving me gray hairs instead of keeping me young.

This past week having fun roller skating with my kids was just what I needed to help me see that they don't have to give me the gray hairs but keep me young instead if I just allow myself to participate in more of the fun rather then dwelling on the fact that I am getting older.

Watching some other older adults zip around the roller skating floor having lots of fun was definitely an inspiration for me to see!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What If...I Accepted The Sacrifice?

I knew it was coming.

My husband has always said that the only thing that would take him back to California to live is the declining health of his parents. You see, he loves Missouri but he loves his parents more. And rightly so.

Over a week ago, my sweet mother-in-law had a stroke leaving the left side of her body completely paralyzed. The doctors recommend a nursing home with 24 hour care. Yet, my husband is building wheelchair ramps preparing for a return home that may or may not happen. He's hopeful and He knows the Great Physician could completely heal his mother is He chooses.

Will is doing his part and waiting for God's answer. We all are.

So when he called today to check in on the kids and me, I wasn't surprised when he told me of a conversation that he and his sister had a few nights ago about the possibility of our moving to California. He didn't specifically ask of me anything. He simply relayed their conversation.

I stayed quiet and listened.

When we hung up, I went face first on my bed and prayed with a lot of tears. I prayed for wisdom and understanding. I prayed for a sacrificial heart. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for peace.

But, most of all, this is my prayer:

Thy Will Be Done

How easy it is to boldly claim our allegiance to sacrificial living until the time when God presents the sacrifice to be given. Then it becomes the real deal, doesn't it?

I don't know where God is leading my family and me. I do know that He will reveal His perfect will in His timing. And when He does, my hope and prayer is that I will be sensitive to hearing and obedient to following.

Thy Will Be Done

Friday, September 28, 2007

What if..We Recognized the Timing of Opportunities?

“Mom, I know who I want to marry and have babies with when I grow up.” Hannah said.

I paused for a moment of shock as my youngest daughter (who is only six years old) began to pour her heart out about her future plans.
Then, in a calm voice I said “Oh yeah, who is the lucky boy?”

She got a huge smile on her face and mentioned a boy in her class. As the conversation progressed, she talked of being a mom to six kids. I couldn’t believe the next words that came out of my mouth.

“Hannah, do you know where babies come from?” I said hesitantly.

Without blinking an eye, she said “From God.”

“Well, yes, children are a great blessing from God. But it takes a mommy and a daddy to make a baby.” Oh no. I was in trouble!

With a puzzled look on Hannah’s face she says, “What do you mean?”

At that moment, I knew I needed to smoothly transition out of the birds- and-the-bees conversation because her mindset is still too young to comprehend the concepts. Had Hannah been a few years older, it would have been a wonderful, natural conversation. I told Hannah that I would explain in a few years what it meant for a mom and dad to make a baby.

Yikes! I was caught in a moment that I would have loved to have taken advantage of a captive audience, but knew I needed to wait until a more opportune time. For one of the few times in my life, an opportunity came too early and now I have to wait.

Often times, we can think of ‘missed opportunities’ as something that happened that will not return. I would like to help expand that thinking and reframe missed opportunities as “misplaced moments.” The timing may be off, but the opportunity could return at a later time.

HOW TO APPRECIATE THE TIMING OF OPPORTUNITIES:

1. Go with your gut. Pay attention to what your gut is telling you to do or not do in a situation. For some, that ‘gut’ represents a nudging from God.

2. Resist the urge to go with an agenda to direct a conversation to end a certain way. At that point, it is no longer an opportunity.

3. Obviously, evaluating powerful conversations depends on whether you will see someone again. Opportunities with people in your daily life will almost always resurface at a later time. A one-time business meeting may not present other opportunities if you have not built a connection in that first meeting.

4. Learning to ‘be’ in the moment rather than ‘do’ will almost always lead to other opportunities. You can’t force an opportunity to happen.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What If...we unpacked fear?

My Turn Love Inside Out partner Jim posted this on our blog today, and I wanted to share it with you all here:

"last night a few of us fleshed out rick’s thought that fear is often the result of misplaced dependency, which are ways we seek identity, purpose, love, identity, acceptance, life, worth, security, meaning, value, happiness outside ourselves in external things as opposed to depending upon the life of Christ within.

we fear failure because we have a misplaced dependency upon “success” for value and worth.we fear rejection because we have a misplaced dependency upon other’s opinions of us for acceptance.

we fear financial loss because we have a misplaced dependency upon money for security.we fear abandonment because we have a misplaced dependency upon significant others for love.

we fear God because we have a misplaced dependency upon a false God who measures his favor and blessing in our life against our performance.

we fear aging or physical setbacks because we have a misplaced dependency on our physical appearance for worth and acceptance.

we fear honesty because we have a misplaced dependency on an image of having it all together for a sense of identity.

we fear being a nobody because we have a misplaced dependency upon being a somebody for a sense of purpose and meaning and value.

we fear…Christ says, “I AM the bread of Life.” in other words, Christ’s Life which dwells within us, is the Bread that fills and maintains our need and desire for identity, purpose, love, identity, acceptance, life, worth, security, meaning, value, happiness, etc…we seek all of this outside ourselves, and yet it is fully available in every moment inside of us through the life of Christ - “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” so, we walk in dependency upon the Bread of Christ within us."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What If...The Little People Prayed?

Okay so maybe you're not the huge football fan that I am. I can understand that. But maybe you would change your mind after you witnessed what I witnessed tonight. It was a moment of joyful weeping. A moment of a mother's pride. A moment of a surprise blessing.

My 12 year old son is playing football in a highly competitive league. You may remember the bit of trepidation I've had in my little man facing his giants. (He's small...perhaps the smallest in the league.)But that's what he does. Week after week...he faces his giants. And he has no fear!

Play after play, I watched him tackle his opponents. If he wasn't the main tackler, he was in the pile amongst the others. Fearless he tackles. It's instinctive for him. Very little thought. Just movement. And tonight he shined! I heard the fans in the stands. Who is that #21? What a player! My heart swelled. There he was doing his thing.

After the game the team, coaches, and parents huddled together to share in the victory. Each of the coaches stepped up with their kudos. Over and over again, Tristan's name was mentioned.

"Look at our rookie, Tristan!"

"Tristan, you saved this game, son."

"For a little guy, you've got it, boy!"

Followed by the greatest post-game honor: THE BREAKDOWN

"Tristan, break us down tonight." He proudly stepped up and his teammates huddled. And he begins his chant.

Tristan: Who are we?

Team: Panthers!

Tristan: What do we do?

Team: Win!

Tristan: Who are we?

Team: Panthers!

Tristan: What do we do?

Team: Win! Win! Win!

As the huddled broke up, my son walked toward me beaming. I ran up and hugged him tightly full of words of encouragement and praise. (Yes, the proud mother speaking!) He looked at me intensely and said: Mom, I prayed tonight before the game and during the game and God heard me. Did you see what I did tonight? God really listened to me tonight! He answered my prayer.

My eyes welled us with tears. Son, you are just about the neatest kid I know. Of course, God listens to you. You are his main dude. I bet He is looking down on you right now with a big smile on His face...just for you!

My team prayed, too, Mom. Right before the game.

Shocked, I asked...Really?

Yep. We always pray before the game. The coaches say...Take a knee and let's pray.

Ladies, I want you to know something. My children are submerged in the "world" just as yours probably are. Though they have a foundation in a Christian home, they also have their fair share of seeing the other side. But it never ceases to amaze me how often God places them in hands of fellow Christians. Be it teachers in public school or coaches in the community. Right now, I am so grateful to God for orchestrating such an influence in these places.

But what I am most grateful for today is that the little people prayed.

And...God answered in the affirmative!

Friday, September 21, 2007

What if... We Gave Up Performing?

The other day, I read an article about a former Olympiad whom spent many of her young years training to be a gymnast. The training did pay off as she won a gold medal in one of her events. Her disappointment, however, came when she didn’t place in any medal position in the other gymnastic events.

Reading that article reminded me of a book I read over the summer called “Dancing Solo” by Tim Green. The book talks about how to break the ‘performance trap’ that comes too easily for many, where performance seems to define who you are. Like the gymnast, you might relate to how winning one gold medal wasn’t good enough-she wanted more. In her quest for more, she overworked herself, and performed her way out of any other medals.

Do you ever feel like you’re ‘chasing the wind’ only to realize that once you attain that goal, it’s never good enough and you press on for more? This gymnast did. The result is a 20-something woman who has given up her career as a gymnast and is trying to decide which direction her life is heading. Her performance defined who she was from a very early age. Life is not just about ‘doing’-it’s learning how to enjoy the ‘being.’

TIPS FOR BREAKING FREE OF THE PERFORMANCE TRAP:

1. Be honest with yourself and evaluate if you depend on performance for recognition and self-esteem. If so, ask yourself if it’s bringing you all the happiness and contentment you need personally and professionally.

2. Being performance-driven is an ingrained mindset. If you are committed to change this, realize you can’t break the performance trap overnight. (I know-performance-driven people want change and results yesterday!)

3. Realize that complete self-sufficiency is what drives performance. (i.e.‘I’ll make things happen,” “My goals will get me where I need to go” etc.) It’s like running at 110% 24/7 with no break! This obviously starts to wear you down after many years. Consider having faith in something other than yourself and your abilities to bring definition, peace and balance to your life.

LIVE OUT LOUD ladies!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What If...We Looked For The Blessing?

We got the call last Friday.

My mother-in-law had a stroke. As the days progressed, the prognosis seemed to go from bad to worse. She is paralyzed on the entire left side of her body. She can't chew or swallow which means she can't eat. That leads to a plethora of invasive procedures to ensure she is getting the proper nutrition to sustain life.

It's been an emotional few days.

But, something interesting (something glorious) is happening. My husband, seeking our Father in this tragedy, is witnessing to his family---in words and example. We had a discussion the other night that I would like to share with you.

Randee: Honey, I'm so sorry that you will be going to California without me. I wish I could be with you. I really do but regardless of the outcome you have an opportunity...perhaps, the most important opportunity that you will ever face.

Will: I know. (He spoke quietly with tears in his eyes.)

Randee: It's the right time. When facing a stroke and paralysis, your mom will be facing her mortality. She will be seeking answers that only God can provide. Make it your mission to show her Jesus on this trip. It's crucial. Nothing is more important than her spiritual health...especially now. (Now, I am crying, too.)

Will: And, my family, too. I have this overwhelming urge for my family to "know". Ken has been giving me scriptures to draw from. I plan to be with my mom in the hospital and read her the Bible.

Randee: Honey, take her the prayers that are coming in by email. I'll print them off. Let her know that people from all over the world are praying for her. That God is hearing these prayers.

Will: Yes. I will.

That evening, Will called his mom. He asked her how she was feeling and she replied: I am feeling pain in my left side. Now, normally we would be concerned about pain, right? Except for this: If she is paralyzed then she shouldn't be "feeling" anything.

Sisters, I don't know what God is doing in the life of my family or what the outcome will be for my mother-in-law but I do know this...there are blessings everywhere...if only we look for them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What If...even a cup of coffee made a difference?

Reflection

My pastor sent out an email yesterday and said that on one of our Connections cards someone had written that they really enjoyed our service last Sunday and plan on returning. On another section on the card people are asked how we may pray for them. This is what had been written: “I am searching for something to fill the hole in my soul, the hole in my life. I have begun to believe that it could be religion and Jesus that I need. Pray to help me continue my search and find him.” The rest of my post here is from Lee's email. I hope it encourages us in all the small (or big) things we do in Christ's name:

"When I read this today, I pumped my fist in the air and let out a big “YESSSSSS”! (The people in the coffee shop where this happened must have thought I was nuts.)

If that doesn’t excite you, then please check for a pulse.

Where else do we get to be a part of something eternal?

How many of us thought this past weekend when we handed out coffee, when we taught a child, when we sacrificed time on a Saturday up on a ladder running speaker cable, when we introduced ourself to someone we didn’t know at a Worship Gathering…did we think we would have the privilege of showing Jesus to a guest named Brian?

Yet over and over we get the privilege of doing just that. I want to thank you for your ministry for Christ. I want to urge you to pray for Brian’s spiritual journey. Pray that he will see and respond to Jesus with us.

IT IS SO WORTH IT!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What If...I led a quiet life?

There is a man in my church who is a man of quiet strength. He is the calm amidst the storm. I find myself watching him curiously. I wonder about him. Is it is personality? Is this how God created him? Or, is it the manifestation of Christ Himself; a display of the quiet power of our Savior?

This scripture comes to mind:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Paul is asking 3 things:

1. Lead a quiet life.

2. Mind your own business.

3. Work with your hands.

He continues with the outcome of following such things:

1. To win the respect of outsiders.

2. To not be dependent upon anyone.

One of the tell-tell signs that I am abiding in Christ is a quiet spirit, thus a quiet life. I have moments of this stillness; moments when the evidence of Christ in my life is visible. But, I also have moments of noise; more than I'd like to admit unfortunately.

Something that I have noticed in my own life is that in the middle of a crisis, I seek a quiet spirit. It's almost as if God reveals Himself to me most clearly during these times. Often, during those times of no conflict, when all seems to be plugging along without glitch, that I feel a "disconnect" of sorts.

I'm feeling a bit quiet today. A "crisis" has entered our lives. As I draw near to God, I find myself praying for this same quiet spirit during all moments. I find myself asking Him to work on my heart---to make it my ambition to lead a quiet life...always.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Yes, Father. Yes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What if...Short-Term Delays=Long-Term Relief?

SHORT TERM DELAYS=LONG-TERM RELIEF

The above title is the sign I see everywhere during summer months with road construction. I guess you don’t fully experience the Metropolitan life unless you can add at least 30 minutes to your morning or evening commute!

Obviously, this sign can also serve as a life application. Short-term delays could look like losing a job, challenges with teenagers, taking a career detour, having a health scare, etc. All of these kinds of scenarios could be a ripple or a huge wave in your waters of life, but most often are temporary. It is an opportunity to use these delays as learning experiences that could help change a life perspective about yourself, God, and others. Interruptions (delays) aren’t always predictable, but each one can give you the life skills (relief) to effectively handle when rough waters hit.

ACTION ITEM FOR THIS WEEK:

1. Ask yourself if there are currently any ‘delays’ in your life.
2. If there are, will you look at it as a threat or opportunity?
3. Is there a need to gather some patience while you experience this delay?
4. What have past ‘delays’ taught you about yourself, God, and others?

Live Out Loud Ladies!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What if ... we were intentional about spreading Hope to the World today.

With today being a day of remembrance of the worst tragedy in American, I wanted to spread the word about a great book that launched today as a way to give hope to the World.

The book is titled 3:16 The Numbers of Hope by Max Lucado

I just received this book in the mail today and I am excited to read it and do the 40-days of devotionals that is included. A great book to sit down with and read with a cup of tea.

View the video on the book from YouTube:

What if...we had bookmarks instead of cookies?


Oh goodness. I've been visiting all these lovely tea party blogs, and they have photos of real teas, with beautiful china and exquisite finger sandwiches, cookies, scones and all sorts of delectable treats. Honestly, if you stopped over at my house right now I might be able to offer you a bottle of Propel and some Cheez-Its. Soooo...since I'm unable to offer the same kind of hospitality on our blog as some of you incredible women are doing, I've made a printable treat instead. I have a layout of these tea bookmarks here for you. I hope they bring a small bit of enjoyment on a quiet Autumn afternoon, when you have time to sit with a cup of tea, a good book and a cozy blanket in your lap.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What If...we keep the kettle on

I find it a necessitea to express myself through creativitea. My hopes and prayers your visit here brings a touch of serenitea. (Or even a touch of hilaritea.)

What if ... we made relationships a priority?

Often we can get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we don't regularly take time out for things that matter most to us and that is our relationships whether it be our personal relationship with God, our husbands, children, relatives, old friends or even to make a new friend.

I know I too easily can get caught up in all the busyness of life which is why I think this Virtual Tea Party put on by Make Mine Pink blog is a great way to reconnect with our online friends as well as even make a new one. This week has already started out crazy for me with home schooling but I will make it a point to get on over to the Tea Party.

I look forward to making some new friends and maybe even seeing some old online friends I haven't spoken to lately.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

What If...someone stops by for tea?


Well, it was no surprise that our lovely Randee of the Pink Collar Club was intrigued by the Make Mine Pink blog. I didn't have a photo of an actual tea party so I decided to revise one of my ecards from my MyLifeSeeds site to use as a welcome for any visitors that may stop by. If you peruse the MMP blog, you'll see that this tea party is going on all week, so any tea-related postings would be welcome, along with cookies and petit fours. Also, there are many wonderful women participating in this - you'll find their links on the MMP blog. All of them are keeping their porch lights on and the tea kettles on the stove, so please stop by for a spot of tea and a bit of relaxation. I seem to be the most adept at posting graphics and photos, so please don't mind me if I hopefully have the time to pop in and sprinkle our blog with a tea picture or two this week. I promise not to make a habit of stepping on people's posts!
Meanwhile, milk? lemon? honey? Please help yourself to a sugar cookie while you're here.

Friday, September 7, 2007

What If...someone had a blog tea party?


The Make Mine Pink bloggers are throwing a virtual tea party on Monday, September 10. They are inviting all the women entrepreneurs who are part of Make Mine Pink to participate, and anyone else who wishes to join them. What a sweet idea, isn't it? This is what they had to say:
"Join in on the fun and host a virtual tea party too. We will be visiting all the Make Mine Pink blogs and yours too if you decide to host your own party.You will see beautiful and unique tables set for tea; many will have a special theme.Will you join us and post a photo of your Tea Party on your very own blog? Post a comment on Make Mine Pink’s Blog and we will include you on the list. So expect many visitors and please have cookies ready."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What If...You Really Believed What He Says?

I got an email from my good Canadian friend, Karla, that I thought I'd share with you. (I modified it to apply to women.)

She Says, He Says

She Says: It's impossible.
He Says: All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

She Says: I'm too tired.
He Says: I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

She Says: Nobody loves me.
He Says: I love you. (John 3:16)

She Says: I can't go on.
He Says: My grace is sufficient. (II Corinthians 12:9)

She Says: I can't figure things out.
He Says: I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

She Says: I can't do it.
He Says: You can do all things. (Philippians 4:13)

She Says: I'm not able.
He Says: I am able. (II Corinthians 9:8)

She Says: It's not worth it.
He Says: It will be worth it. (Romans 8:28)

She Says: I can't forgive myself.
He Says: I forgive you. (Romans 8:1)

She Says: I can't manage.
He Says: I will supply all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)

She Says: I'm afraid.
He Says: I have not given you a spirit of fear. (II Timothy 1:7)

She Says: I'm always worried and frustrated.
He Says: Cast all your cares on me. (I Peter 5:7)

She Says: I'm not smart enough.
He Says: I give you wisdom. (I Corinthians 1:30)

She Says: I feel all alone.
He Says: I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

What If...You Really Believed What He Says?

Challenge: Silence the "she says" and speak the "He says" once and for all.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What If...I added one more powerful video?



This brought me to tears. It made me think of how easy it is in this world to forget that we are God's children, and filled with his love. What grace there is in having our beloved Father always there waiting...even when we spend so much in the forgetting. Randee, this performance also reminded me of things you've told me about your church, Patchwork Creative Arts Ministry.

What If...Wednesday brings a quenching video?



Rob, a pastor from Florida I know online, posted this video clip entitled, "What I Did This Summer". Rob also had this note: "The one guy with dreds (Dusty) was someone I've known since he was a little kid. Used to curse the ground Christians stood on. God captures hearts like butterflies." I just smiled all the way through watching this, and thought it might bless you too.

(Music in the video from Five O'Clock People)

Monday, September 3, 2007

What If...You Just Breathe?

There is a beautiful song with these words...Just Breathe. I sing it as I write. Do you know the song I'm referring to? (I have a most difficult time placing songs with the singers.)

Well, that's what I am doing...just breathing. After a extremely busy summer, I have taken the liberty to...just breathe. Girls, I am bubbling over with excitement and a real sense of accomplishment. As one project after another comes to a close, (or rather a beginning) my plate is left empty. I've licked it clean and I am full.

Now, don't get me wrong. There were time when I had stomach cramps from eating too much. For putting into my body (*soul*) too much junk. I suppose the truth is that God would direct my steps and I would trail off the narrow path. Only for Him to redirect and me to begin wandering again. I am sure of this: If God didn't direct and redirect my path often, I would be off in la-la land.

But, today, I just want to celebrate. The hard work paid off. God blessed...again and again.

September marks the one year anniversary of the Pink Collar Club and as Charles Dickens says..."It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." How true that statement is. This past year has been chock full of blessings and chock full of challenges. But I am still here...by the grace of God alone.

Will you celebrate with me? Remember...we are to rejoice with those rejoicing and mourn with those mourning. (I am blessed to have so many fellow mourners but the rejoicers...that's what I seek today!)

Rejoice, Sisters, rejoice!

For this is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What If...love was retroactive?

Several years ago I ran across some articles by a man who had spent his childhood in an orphanage. Richard's stories were heartwrenching; full of abuse, neglect and torment. I wrote and told him how sorry I was for all that he had suffered growing up, and we exchanged email back and forth. Although he was about 70 years old he told me how long it took for him to learn how to love people, and how disasterous his first and second marriages were. He was happily married for a third time, but said that his wife didn't understand one ritual that he had kept through the years.

Every Christmas he would buy his young boy self a Christmas present. Through counseling Richard had had to travel back and heal the young boy who had been so hurt and abandoned, and a part of the healing he held on to was buying and wrapping a new toy every Christmas for six-year-old "Richie"; something he'd never had growing up. From our exchange of letters I came to know that one thing that Richard had so strongly wished for was a mother who loved and cherished him.

I told him that I wished I could go back in time and be his mother for him. I said how I wished that little Richie would have come through the door after school to a real home, and that I would be there waiting with a smile, a hug, and a warm plate of cookies, anxious to hear all about his day. I told him if I'd been his mother I would have read him stories at bedtime, sung lullabies, tucked him snugly under the blankets, and said a prayer with him. And then I would have kissed him good night and told him I loved him.

Richard wrote back and said that he knew I would have done those things, he knew that I would have been that kind of mother for him. I hope in some small way that I was another little piece of his journey to healing such a broken childhood. I think for a moment together we both rewrote the past and filled it with love.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What If...We Made The "W" List?

Just a quick post today. I received this email a few days ago by my dear friend and lady of the Pink Collar Club, Carolyn Townes of Spirit Women. Thought I'd share it with you. Take a look!

Hey Blogging Divas!

Just wanted to give you the heads up. To make a long story short:

Toby Bloomberg of
Diva Marketing (the Oprah of the blogosphere) posted about the W Magical List -- which started as a list of the top 150 women bloggers. It has circulated around the blogosphere, with women adding their own blogs to it. I saw it on at least a dozen blogs.

Toby posted that some diva should create a wiki to house the list so that all could assess and add their blogs. Well, guess who took her up on it? AND, I added you gals to the amazing line-up, along with myself.

So, just wanted to let you know, in case you get this amazing influx of traffic! The wiki is
http://wmagicallist.wikispaces.com/. There are close to 200 blogs listed, all written by women. We rock!

So as they say in blogland, I memed you guys. If you want to reach out, check out
Toby's blog post, and make a comment. Who knows where it will lead!?

Stay passionate my sistahs!
Carolyn


It's nice to be noticed, isn't it? The What If...? Women blog made the "W" Magical List !

Monday, August 27, 2007

What if ... we learned to take things in stride?

This topic has been posted about by myself and others from different angles but it is always good to be reminded of things several times and to look at it from different perspectives. So I ask:

What if ... we learned to take things in stride?

So often I want to rush things or get to the end result of something and in my rushed state or possible frenzy, I lose the enjoyment of what I am doing. Often I think we are fooled into believing we are going to miss out on something if we don't hurry and get to our destination. The reality is though that we miss out on the blessings that are in the process of things. The end result is usually just that, the end. Then we move on to something else and begin the cycle again rushing to reach the next destination or goal of ours.

We may think to take things in stride is to go slow but I looked up the word stride and the dictionary says to stride is to walk or run with long regular steps. After pondering this I realize that to take things in stride is not necessarily to take our time or take things as they come, but to take regular and consistent steps towards our destination whether it be a walking or running pace that is most suitable to our own character.

Who do you tend to be more like in the Aesop Fable "The Tortoise and the Hare"?
These fables really can teach us some valuable lessons now can't they?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What If....by Nichole Nordeman



My thanks to Shalene (Proverbs 31 Wannabe) for posting this on her blog. How could I not add a song called "What If" here?!

Friday, August 24, 2007

What if...We Could See the Unseen?

One of my mentors from several years ago recently re-entered my life. It was neat how we were reunited, and we quickly set up a time to meet and give each other updates on what is happening personally and professionally.

What I thought was going to be just a simple catching up with one another, has turned into a collaboration on a future project that will meet a passion and expertise we share for helping leaders. She has also taken my book and workbook to some colleagues for exposure and potentially teaching my work at her organization. I am amazed at life’s surprises when we don’t try to plan them!

Could I have seen this coming? Probably not. Even if I had an “agenda,” I still don’t believe it could have turned out better than it has and I truly believe my mentor would have been turned off to any collaborating projects.

HOW TO SEE THE UNSEEN:

1. Loosen the grip of a tight agenda when you are meeting with an individual or have a certain situation. It could leave room for unexpected positive outcomes.

2. Practice “being” on a daily basis. If all you do every day is produce, you’ll miss the unseen blessings. If you don’t know what “being” looks like, observe the person in your life who seems less stressed and more positive than others.

3. Have a faith in something other than yourself and your capabilities that will free you up to see a fresh, new perspective on your life and how to make a true, lasting impact in the lives of others.

Hebrews 11:1-"Faith is being sure of what you hope for in the evidence of things unseen."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What if...one dad said so much, so quickly?

Just a little mid-week item that will hopefully make you all smile as it did me! (I'm amazed by all the gifts God has given his children.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What If...We Gave The "EGR"?

I spent a long day at work. I had just returned from a 4 day trip to Chicago with my husband. It was wonderful. We left the kids with my mom and had an "adult" trip in the heart of the city. Formal events, parties, a wedding...a beautiful time.

And then I returned...

My inbox was full, as well as, my voicemail. I spent the bulk of the morning returning communications followed by an afternoon at the showroom followed by an evening at our new building at church...painting.

I was tired. Dead tired.

There are many opinions flying when designing a new church. I was in charge of the overall design and was grateful for the many helping hands in getting the job done. But...as I said...many opinions. Who knew that a particular paint color would cause so much concern? (Obviously those who have done this before---this is new for me!)

So, I answered the questions the best I could. Addressed concerns, encouraged the workers, picked up a paintbrush. I dug right in. (And, I was so tired.)

In the middle of a "discussion", my good friend came up and hugged me from behind and whispered something in my ear.

She said: EGR.

What does that mean? I asked.

Extra Grace Required. She replied.

I nodded appreciatively and hugged her. What a blessing this friend is and what words of wisdom she spoke in her acronym!

It worked. Immediately, I felt a gentleness that come from her words; that came from Christ. I began to ponder the grace shown to me---both in the past and the present. By others but especially by Christ.

What If...We Gave The EGR?

Today, Tomorrow. Forever.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What if ... we allowed everyone to dance to their own tune?

With Randee's last post about "teaching them to dance" and knowing what a beautiful thing that can be literally I found myself pondering it more figuratively in regards to home schooling my children.

I have been planning out the new school year and decided to do things differently this year by allowing my children to learn about the things they are interested in. For our curriculum to be more interest-led then teacher-led as we all have different skills, talents, interests and passions.

This year my kids have actively been involved in the planning of this new years curriculum and I have to say just with this one change of focus it has made a ton of difference. My kids are much more excited about this new year then they had been in the past two years since they will be learning things that are of interest to them. Making it much more fun and enjoyable for them to learn and do the basics of reading, writing and math.

What if ... we allowed everyone to dance to their own tune?

The pressure to perform as others do would definitely be lifted from us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What If...I taught them to dance?

This morning I received a phone call from a colleague from long ago. (For those of you who don't know, I am a retired ballroom dancer.) Alfie and I go back 17 years. Wow, I can't believe it even as I write it!

I was a 19 year old kid who walked into the studio with all pomp and fluff. I knew nothing about ballroom dance but I was practically born in a traditional dance studio. I was on a mission...to get the audition and a place in this dance company.

The studio was bustling; dancers everwhere rehearsing, teaching, coaching. It was magnificent! My eye turned to the main ballroom and there he was...the most beautiful male dancer I had ever laid eyes on...Alfie. Grace and strength exuded. I was mesmorized.

I got the audition (and ultimately a place in the company) but very rarely was Alfie to be my trainer. He was far too booked to have time for the likes of a "trainee" like myself. But...when I did get him, it was incredible. His knowledge was unsurmountable. His quiet South African accent soothed my soul. There was (is) something about Alfie.

Alfie left the company a year after I began my ballroom dance career. But, years later, he and I would reunite and work together for a time. Once again, years have passed and today he called me with a prosition:

"Randee, I have highly recommended you to an organization that educates children with behavioral, developmental, and learning disabilities. Last year, I spent every Friday morning with these wonderful students through a grant. The grant was not renewed so I made other commitments for my Friday mornings. I got a call from the school. A wealthy woman is funding the program for this school year. Are you interested in teaching these students? It was a wonderful experience for me. I want you to know that you are the only one I recommended."

He gave me the contact information of the woman in charge and I called her. We had a lovely discussion and set an appointment to meet next Friday. I explained that I was home-schooling my oldest child this year and she welcomed him to join in the instruction. As the matter of fact, the students are his age!

What If...I taught them to dance? These students are (supposedly) entering life with the strikes against them. But I know from experience how often it is individuals like these that impact my life so greatly. I also know how "beauty" in whatever form touches the soul. I don't know what will happen in the interview but something tells me...

Teach them to dance.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What If...we said one right thing

artturnlove_lrg


Last Saturday I finally met Bob Smith at the car repair shop where he works as service manager. His parents were related through marriage to my stepdad, and I'd met his folks, had a couple of delightful conversations with his mother Libby when she was still alive, but I'd never met any of their three kids.

As a surprise gift my dad decided to see if it was worth fixing my son's old car. It has almost 230,000 miles on it, so we certainly weren't sure about that! But he decided to invest the five hundred dollars and see if we could keep my son's wheels on the road a little longer. So he called Bob.

So I stood there at the service counter with my son while Bob, a man close to my age in his 50s, dressed in dark blue overalls, busied himself with our paper work. I waited while he looked over the invoice and explained everything that had been fixed on the '95 Dodge Neon. There was a slight pause before he started to ring up the total, and I decided to use that pause.

"I just want you to know," I said, "that I really liked your mother so much." Bob's business countenance changed. In a split second his face transformed into one of delight, and registered pure joy. "She was so wonderful," he said. "As time goes on there aren't that many people who remember my mother, and it's so nice to hear someone say something about her."

My father died when I was 17-years-old and occasionally through the years I've had people stop and tell me a story about him. The last time was several years ago, and it was a remarkable story of my dad standing up for two young teenagers. I know from my own experience what a gift it can be to hear about a loved one, especially when they've been gone a long time, and you don't have that many friends who knew them. I knew before I went to get my son's car that day that I would mention this great lady to her son if the opportunity presented itself. I'm so glad it did. I know my words to him were a gift, and the gift to me was seeing the love that flooded this man's face as soon as I spoke of his beloved mother.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What If...I Un-Schooled My Child?

Well, my friends, this possibility is becoming a reality very soon. In the next couple of weeks, I will send my younger children off to school and keep my older child, Tristan, at home with me. Why?

I always dreamed of educating my children in a more focused way. In the back of my mind, I would ponder...if I home-school each of my children through their middle school years (7th and 8th grade) then I would have really focused one-on-one time with each...as my children are 2 1/2 years apart.

The time has crept up on me. My son will be entering 7th grade this year and the time has come. For the last year, my husband and I have discussed it thoroughly. At first, we didn't include Tristan in the conversation. But, at the beginning of the summer we began discussing educational options with him. Much to our surprise, Tristan is really excited about this new chapter in his life. Thus, a home-schooling mom, I will soon become.

As I look at this "picture" of our life for the next year, I see something quite unique from society's norm. You see, I am really interested in "un-schooling" Tristan. No doubt, he will learn. As the matter of fact, I'm kind of taking the easy route. I've enrolled him in an online academy. But, what I am really excited about is teaching Tristan very specific "life skills". Everything from cooking to praying, cleaning to Biblical study, what it means to be a man (dare I?) to what it means to be a woman.

I've even been contemplating a "ceremony" of sorts for his 13th birthday. A rite of passage, so to speak, into manhood. (What do I know about manhood, right? Well, I know a few good men who will help me out!)

So...once again, I am entering new territory. Keep us in your prayers. I'm anticipating a great year...full of surprises. I'll keep you posted on our progress, no doubt!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What If...I left a prayer here this Sunday night



A friend of mine edited a book of prayers, and the sample prayer on amazon.com really touched my heart, so I thought I'd share it here:

Lord of the excluded,
Open my ears to those I would prefer not to hear,
Open my life to those I would prefer not to know,
Open my heart to those I would prefer not to love,
And so open my eyes to see
Where I exclude You.


-Iona Abbey Prayer

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What If...We Face The Giants?

My son had his football draft on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The heat index in Kansas City was over 100 degrees yet boys from all over the area gathered for this two-day draft with the hope of getting on the team they desired. Some did. Some didn't.

Sports are a big deal in my house...especially football. To prepare for the "big draft" we gathered for family night to watch the film everyone has been telling us that we must see: Face The Giants. Now, it's my turn to spread the word. Even if you are not a football fan, you must see this film!

Face The Giants is about a small high-school football team on a big losing streak. The townfolk are gathering together in conspiracy to have the coach removed. Coach digs deep into his faith in God. He prays and feels compelled to create a purpose for his team based on giving God the glory.

"Whether we win or lose, we praise God."

Ultimately this losing team ends up at the state championship "Facing The Giants". (I won't spoil the ending. Watch the movie!)

My son is 12 years old but he's a small 12...one of the smallest in his class. To watch him on the field, he truly exemplied this idea of facing the giants. Some of these boys were huge! And, there is Tristan, at least a head shorter if not more. But he is fast. Speedy Gonzalez fast! Race after race, drill after drill...there he was in the top 2 or 3.

My husband and I stood on the sidelines in amazement. Our little guys was not only facing the giants but winning. His focus, his determination, his desire put him over the edge. (Of course, it helps that God has gifted him in athletics.)

Before we left for the draft, with the movie clearly in our minds, we said to Tristan...Whether you win or lose, you praise God, okay?

Everyday we have an opportunity to Face The Giant. We either move forward boldly under the covering of our Heavenly Father or retreat in the defeat of the Enemy. Today, I reaffirm this position of victory. Today, I face my giants! How about you?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What If...I waited for God's nudge?

Day 94 of 365: My Heart is on Fire

Several months ago, a young man from church showed up at my door with a $10 gift card to one of our local gas stations. I was so touched, and yet a bit perplexed, because I knew that I didn't need the card nearly as much as someone else might. So I thanked him profusely, and put the card in my car console, and just waited. Until yesterday. Below is an email I sent to Brian, the earth angel who appeared at my door that day:

"Dear Brian,

Do you remember a few months ago when you stopped over because you felt God wanted you to stop and give me a gasoline gift card for $10? I was so touched by your gesture and by your heart for God and others.

I wasn't sure why God led you to me. I knew at the time that I wasn't in desperate need of the gift. However, I trusted that God had a purpose for it, as you trusted when you brought it to me.
Today I was walking out of work with one of my co-workers from another department, who was carrying a bottle of laundry detergent. She mentioned it was a gift, and when I questioned her about the unusual present, Pam told me that this has been a really hard week for her financially. She's a single parent with two young children and was out of money. She borrowed $20 to pay for her daughter's prescription medication, and then a friend of hers at work today insisted on taking her to lunch and to Target to buy laundry soap, which she also needed. Immediately I tried to give her some money, but she turned me down (as most of us would). And then I said, "Oh, I know! I have a gas gift card in my car that a friend from church brought me awhile ago. I knew that God had someone in mind for it, and it must be you!" Pam was so thrilled and so grateful. Taking that gas card, which didn't cost me anything, didn't embarrass her, and yet it was exactly what she needed right now to get through until payday.

As for me, I got to experience the joy of being the middle man between you and this single mother in need, and the joy of feeling such a connection with God by sharing his love with another.

So thank you. Your gift was so much more than a $10 gift card. I will treasure the memory.

With his amazing love,

Anne"

Monday, August 6, 2007

What if ... we stopped trying to cram so much into our lives?

I bring this question up because I see not only in my own life how I tend to try to cram more things into my days then I can possibly do but just how that seems to be the norm almost everywhere you go especially when it comes to kids and learning.

My kids just finished up two weeks of swimming lessons and they were excited to start them considering they just learned how to swim this past 4th of July. After the first day, they were no longer excited about their lessons and were very happy for them to be over. In only two weeks of lessons they really were pushed to learn how to float on their backs and stomachs, do the front and back crawls, tread in water over their head, retrieve rings from the bottom of the deep end, dive in the deep end off the side of the pool and jump off the diving board and the last two days were testing on all this. Wow, I definitely didn't expect beginning lessons to teach so much in such a short time. Needless to say, I too am happy the lessons are over.

I completely believe we need to challenge ourselves and our kids but I think a lot of things are done out of fear that we are not keeping up with others or with what is expected of us so we push ourselves more then we need to or should and then lose the joy of doing what we're doing.

What if ... we stopped trying to cram so much into our lives? I think if we did, we would enjoy the things that we do instead of it being a drudgery because we will begin to appreciate the whole process of what we are doing seeing that as more important rather then just focusing on the end result.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What if....Girls Understood the Meaning of Respect?

Today, my youngest daughter Hannah, was at a neighborhood daycamp. When I came to pick her up, she was hanging out with three other girls. One girl in particular, seemed to be the 'ring leader' who lead the taunting towards Hannah because of a water bottle incident that seemed to be taken care of by one of the camp leaders earlier. When these girls told me the story of what happened, I had Hannah apologize to the ring leader for what she did. The 'ring leader' wouldn't accept her apology and was whispering things to one of the other girls. I went on to say that it would be a better time for everyone if they all tried to get along, instead of bullying each other.

Hannah and I walked away and I said to her "Hannah, you don't have to hang out with girls who aren't nice to you." Courtney, the 'ring leader' heard me and actually gave me some lip about what I said. I think she thought she could get away with talking back to me (although I wasn't addressing her), because as I walked back to these three girls, Courtney scurried away behind a tree. I casually addressed all three girls and asked if they'd enjoy being bullied. No one answered. I left saying that more effort should go into getting along, rather than being mean.

As we drove away, I asked more details from Hannah about the water bottle incident. She told me that Courtney called her stupid. I quickly turned the car around and drove back to the camp. By that point, all the camp leaders were around the girls and Courtney was hiding away. One of the camp leaders asked if there was a problem and I said there was. I let them know of the name calling (I guess Courtney is a bit of a trouble maker) and said name calling is unacceptable. The camp leader let me know what she had Hannah do to rectify the water bottle incident and I told them I had her apologize to Courtney.

I walked away with my blood boiling from a 5 year-old girl! She showed how she doesn't respect authority figures and feels obliged to bully other kids. I'm amazed at how early these girls are learning to bully others. All I could do was pray that Courtney would have a positive environment to teach her what love and respect for self and others could really do.

What If...You Killed The Cow?

A good friend recently related the following anecdote:

There was once a very wise old man who traveled rural communities sharing his knowledge with the villagers. After listening to one of the old man's many lectures a young man, impressed by his wisdom, begged to join him on his travels. The old man agreed for the young man to become his disciple.

On one occasion after walking for hours they stopped at a humble cottage and begged for some water. A gentleman in shabby clothes invited them to rest in the shade of his humble home. He then told his wife to serve the travelers water from their well, some bread, and cheese. As they sat and ate, what in their opinion was some of the best tasting bread in miles, the visitors observed signs of abject poverty. The place was sparsely furnished and the man's children and wife were dressed in tattered clothing. The wise man asked the father how he managed to provide for his family. To which the father replied that they had one single cow that was their salvation. The cow provided milk from which they made cheese to have with some bread. The cow also helped in the plowing of a small potato and wheat plot they had in their backyard. On sacks hanging from the cows back they transported their little harvest to the market. The father remarked, "We owe our lives to our cow."

The wise man listened and after both he and his disciple were rested they went on their way.
That evening as they settled in a nearby inn, the young disciple commented his concerns for the future of the poor family. He pointed out with passion the inequality and injustice prevalent in this world. Why did good people have to suffer and work so hard for paltry survival, while others who were not as deserving reveled in wealth and surplus?

Instead of a reply the old man, gave his disciple a chilling command. Go back to that family's field and kill the cow! The young disciple stunned, questioned the wisdom of his order. The wise man repeated his charge without any signs of remorse, "Go and kill the cow now!" Not one to disobey, the disciple went back to the family's field, led the cow away from his shed and pushed her down a precipice. His deed done, he went back to the inn. Yet, he felt guilt over his actions and after a year he decided to part ways with the old man.

Six years later, the young man was passing through the village where he had committed that evil deed, and he decided to go in search of the family. There was now a huge beautiful house on the same spot where the cottage had stood. It was surrounded by a beautiful courtyard. He saw what seemed like delivery trucks coming in and out of the grounds. He went up to the gate and after ringing the bell was greeted by a servant. He explained that he was looking for the original owners of the place who had lived there about six years ago. The young servant assured him that the owners of the land still lived there and invited him inside the home to have a seat in the beautiful lobby. A few minutes later a well-dressed gentleman walked up to him, immediately recognized and greeted him cheerfully.

The disciple could not contain his curiosity and queried as to what had turned their fortune around. The man confessed that the day after their visit, they found their cow dead at the bottom of a nearby cliff. Not having any other immediate means for sustenance, he and his family were forced to create an alternate way to survive. They decided to start baking and selling bread. First, the children delivered the goods on foot from house to house. Soon, they were filling such large orders that required the purchasing of trucks. The death of the cow had signified the beginning of new life.
Perhaps in your own life you have been holding on to a person, circumstance, job or situation that you believe you would never be able to live without or get over. But what if that is exactly what is stifling your God-given creativity, and your opportunities to live a life of abundance? Is it time to kill the cow?

Written by Norka Blackman-Richards of 4 Real Women International

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What If...We Turned Love Inside Out?



A friend of mine approached me awhile ago with a vision he had for site that would let people know about God's immense and amazing Love for all of humankind. This became a "What if..." discussion of its own. What if we could try and communicate the message of God's Perfect Love? What would that look like? Where would we start? How do we convey to people who may never have experienced it, that those who feel God's love deep in their spirits spill that love out into the world.

Recently through our partnership this message of love has turned into a web site endeavor: www.turnloveinsideout.com. Jim is a writer, so this vision and the writing come from him. I am a designer, so the web site and graphics are my domain. God first "introduced" the two of us on the Internet a year or two ago. I thought it was amazing enough when Jim ended up flying to Michigan to speak at my church and share stories from his book "Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God". But here I was being amazed again by Jim approaching me with this vision for sharing Love and asking me to be a part of it.

I have been so admiring of so many of you women here who have online ministries and do so much to reach other to others. I am feeling blessed indeed to have a part in a ministry that I pray will reach out to those in need of the message that there is a God who loves them beyond anything they could wildly imagine.

Monday, July 30, 2007

What if ... we stopped trying to control the direction our lives.

With Randee's last post about how God is our pot watcher, I wanted to continue on with this theme and share with you a little snippet from a book called "The Grand Weaver, How God Shapes us through the events of our Lives" by Ravi Zacharias.

I just began reading it over the weekend and I am only on the second chapter titled "Your Disappointments Matter" but it already has me pondering so much. A section of the chapter was talking about beginning to walk in our faith and how faith is where we believe that God is in control and has formed us for a purpose. If we do not walk in faith we will find ourselves floundering and living without purpose.

The part that really got me pondering things was where he brought up the story of Noah in Genesis 6:9-22 and how "The Bible supplies every detail of the ark: how high, how wide, what kind of wood - the comprehensive blueprint. Yet two details are conspicuously absent: no sail and no rudder. Imagine preparing to float on water for that many days with nothing to control the direction of the ship!"

What if... we could stop trying to control the direction of our lives and just trust God as Noah did?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What If...The Watched Pot Never Boils?

The watched pot never boils.

That's how the saying goes, right? You put the pot on the stove filled with cool water. You watch. Nothing happens. You watch a little longer. Still...nothing. You step away from the stove (for just a moment) only to hear your smoke detector piercing through your ears. Apparently, while you were away, the pot did boil. It boiled over. And, you never even seen it. For, as they say...the watched pot never boils.

Or...does it?

Almost a year ago, I launched a project after a decade in germination. Since then, I have watched. Daily checking the "stats". How many visitors? How many members? How many posts? Always watching...waiting for the boil.

I went in knowing the "typicals". Be prepared for 3 years of lean time. 3 years of preparation. 3 years of the learning curve. You name it. The "magic" number seemed to be 3. If the pot hasn't boiled in 3 years...move on to Plan B.

But, just because I recognize the "typicals", I am also totally aware that I am the daughter of an "a-typical" God. Does the number 3 have any significance to Him? I doubt it. So, in my heart, I anticipate His workings. I anticipate His participation. And...sometimes (on my more bold days) I anticipate His miracles.

Interestingly, my life went through a bit of transition a few months ago. I was no long able (or compelled) to "watch the pot" so I asked God to by the "official watcher". And, He has.

A powerful thing happens when God is the watcher. The pot boils!

So...here is my unsolicited 3 part advice for the day:

1. Stop watching the pot.

2. Ask God to be your "official" pot watcher.

3. Carry on with the work before you and wait.

The watched pot DOES boil.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What if ... I began to enjoy meal planning?

My last post I talked about staying on task with my meal planning. So far so good. We've had some good meals the past week, my kids have enjoyed helping and I have to say the help has been nice and it was very nice not to wonder what we are having for dinner.

Since Anne shared a wonderful meal planning resource website it reminded me of another website I came across some time ago that I had meant to go back to but you know how that goes sometimes.

Well I made a point to check it out finally and I have to say it is a great free resource website that helps with meal planning. The website is called Meals Matter and you can plan weekly meals, search for recipes that are in their database or add your own, create your shopping lists with a click of a button from the recipes you plan to prepare and create your own cookbook online that can be viewed by others if you like and lots of other great information.

What if ... I actually began to enjoy meal planning? I think it is very possible with these simple online tools and after 10 years I could finally be able to turn over a new leaf and eliminate this one major stress in my life making us all happier in our family.

Friday, July 20, 2007

What if..We Embraced Transition?

Recently, I have had the opportunity to help quite a few men and women who are contemplating leaving the corporate life they have known for 25+ years to start their ‘second phase’ of life. Whether you are age 55+ or thirty-something, “redirection” can be defined as looking for changes to improve or enhance your personal, professional and/or spiritual life.

Transition (or commonly known as change) can be a smooth or rough ride, depending on how it is approached. If, for example, you are terminated from your job without warning or preparation, your transition to another job might be rougher than someone who has quit to take another job elsewhere.

Transition can be seen as a threat or as an opportunity. What I have seen over the years as a life and business coach is that what might start out as a threat, winds up becoming a wonderful opportunity.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP PREPARE FOR A SMOOTHER TRANSITION:

1. Remember that your job or career DOES NOT define who you are: it only defines WHAT you do.

2. Take the time to discover your values, your passions and how you are wired. These items are foundational in making future decisions about your life direction. Seek outside resources like coaches, classes or conferences that can help you.

3. Make sure you are not living life inside a box. Do you have a network of contacts outside your place of employment, or home? Does your network include personal and professional contacts? These contacts can serve as a great resource if and when you want to explore something outside of your current situation.

4. Keep a running tally of your strengths and talents. Be willing to look outside your industry to see how you can creatively transfer your talents to other markets.

5. Pray about where your life is and if you think a different direction is where you are being led. Be willing to be patient until you feel you have an answer.

Live Out Loud Ladies!
www.lynnjarrett.com