Thursday, May 31, 2007

What If...We Embraced All Seasons?

With summer quickly approaching, I'm mindful of the spiritual seasons of my life. I'm a Spring and Autumn kind of gal, myself. Who isn't? But I'm also aware that it is the seasons of Winter and Summer where the preparation for growth is so prevalent. I suppose that I should embrace these seasons as the intended cycle of my life but, in all honesty, I still prefer Spring and Autumn. Call it spiritual immaturity, if you like. I do.

One Thing I Know For Sure

Just as God created the world within a framework of seasons, He created you and me within a framework of seasons. There is an order amidst the seeming chaos. Life is cyclical.

Take a look at a brief description of the seasons. What season are you in?


Barren. Desolate. Isolated. These are the words that come to mind when I think of my winter seasons. It's a lethargic state. Sometimes depressive. Bleak. These winter seasons can be brutal. Questions arise. Where are you, Lord? Why me? Sometimes, there is no voice for prayer. Thank God we have the Holy Spirit as intercessor.


Renewal. Rebirth. Life. Following a winter season, often comes Spring. We made it through perseverance. God brought us through the desolation of winter and we "feel" again. There is a renewed sense of purpose in Spring. An energy produced from the lethargy of Winter. We are alive. The planning begins again.


Hot. Movement. Sweat. With the clear vision and mission newly birthed in Spring, comes the work of Summer. Thoughts in the head from Winter move to feelings in the heart from Spring to work in the hands in Summer. God designed us for work. It dates back to creation in the garden of Eden.


Plenty. Harvest. Fulfillment. The work of our hands produces the fruit of our labor. It's the fulfillment of our vision. Our labor is rewarded with tangible produce. We look at the seasons of our life and realize just how good He really is. Promises fulfilled. Questions answered. Obedience and perseverance turns to treasure.

Looking Through A New Lens

Until I truly understood the seasons of my life, God's word seemed contradictory at times. During a Winter season, I would read the Bible and find a promise that seemed so contradictory to my current season. I would ponder it. Internalize it into something false. I couldn't see through the barrenness of my soul.

Then God would bring Spring into my life and with it a new lens from which to look. His lens. As the cycle of my life continues, I am aware of these seasons. I choose to believe what He has promised. If that promise is not currently being fulfilled, it will come in another season.

I believe. Do you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What if…we knew that we are created beautiful

As a little girl with color I grew up in a world where my beauty was disallowed. My dark skin, my hips, my lips, my hair – were not seen as signs of beauty.

I remember that as a child my father would set apart a monthly sum from his scanty minister’s salary to purchase Ebony magazine. As the father of two black girls he understood the importance of developing a healthy self-concept, particularly in the times we lived in. Thus, he made sure that we were exposed to identifiable and positive images of beauty.

My sister and I would spend hours captivated by the beautiful pictures of those brown-skinned beauties. These women were really not new to our reality, they looked like our Mommy, our aunties, the ladies at church. Nevertheless, they were Women whose beauty we very rarely saw “positively” displayed on TV and in other magazines.

Twenty-something years later, when images of beauty are supposedly global, I find it disturbing that little girls of color are still experiencing the same type of beauty disallowance. While they might have more exposure to their types of beauty than I ever had, there is some unsettling distortion to the exposure.

While their “brownness” to a certain extent is “acceptable”, there is still the societal perception that to be considered beautiful, their type of beauty must somehow be re-arranged fit into an already pre-defined beauty box.

I think that something is wrong with a world where people find the need to constantly re-create themselves to fit certain man-made and partial beauty standards. I think that something is wrong with a world where uniqueness is not celebrated, and instead beauty is fixed to fit certain arranged standards. Perhaps its time that we each take a hard look at our personal definitions of beauty.

There is nothing wrong in admiring and celebrating outward appearance, it is part of the unique package our creator gave to us as humans. There is a problem, however, when we use our own sinful definitions of what beauty is to tell God, ”You made a mistake with me, or with certain people.” And then, we find it necessary to change and re-create God’s creative palette of beauty. This notion that God made a mistake with our beauty has lead women to become vain, capricious, catty and prejudiced.

What if we were to believe His word? What if we were to believe that He made us “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalms139:14)? If we were to believe, then we would understand that we are already beautiful.

Note: To see the effect that societal definitions of beauty have on children of color click on this link - Film: A Girl Like Me

Monday, May 28, 2007

What if ... our Sabbath day was truly a memorial day for us?

Beautiful post about Memorial Day Randee! I hope everyone is taking time out to remember those who have fought for our freedoms and are still enjoying the holiday.

As I have been considering my writing for the book project on the 10 commandments, God has been bringing to my attention with much conviction from several different sources just how much I fall short to truly spend my Sabbath days in memory of and in worship of my Savior and find myself not taking that day of rest as we are called to do. I find myself only spending a short time out of the day in worship of Him then once I get back home I so easily slip back into taking care of all of the responsibilities of life to prepare myself for a smoother upcoming work week.

I realize just how backwards that is and see how much more important it is to prepare for our Sabbath day so we can spend the whole day in memory and worship of our Savior so we can truly rest in Him on that day and set aside all responsibilities in life so we can truly be refreshed and ready for the upcoming work week.

What If...We Remembered On Memorial Day?

Did you know that originally Memorial Day was called Decoration Day? There are many stories that prompted the celebration of Memorial Day. One of them dates back to the Civil War when organized women's groups began "decorating" the gravesites of those precious lives taken in the war. This seems fitting to me given the hearts of women generally.

Memorial Day recognizes the lives lost in service to our country. As I watch the pictures and stories of war, I honor these great men and women with remembrance.

It gets me thinking...

There was a war that took place in the garden of Eden---a spiritual war. Countless lives have been lost in this war. Then God came to earth, fully man and fully God. He died and in His death was victorious in the ultimate war...the war that saved countless souls. we remember those lives lost for this nation today...may we also remember the love, life, death, and resurrection of the One who died for all nations.

God bless you all!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What if...the illusion continues

Dove's Campaign for Real Women has a great one-minute video that shows the evolution of a "real" young woman into a billboard model. Click here and then choose the Evolution Film at the bottom of the screen.

What if...outer beauty was an illusion?

I ran across this on another blog, and thought it fit in perfectly with our Outer/Inner Beauty Pageant discussion. What a great video to share with young women and girls who might be intimidated by all the media representation of "beauty".

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What If...we released this sense of entitlement?

Okay. I know I'm posting out of turn but it's Saturday morning and I have something to say.

Many of you know that I have taken on a position outside the home to help alleviate some of the financial pressure from my husband. The work environment is really toxic. I'm struggling...really struggling. Mostly to keep my big mouth shut. (Hence, the post on the Monday Mutes.)

I was reading an article yesterday about the rise and fall of the creator of Veggie Tales. He speaks very poignantly about the time when he came across the passage in the Bible on the fruit of the Spirit and he realized that he wasn't bearing this fruit. He realized he was in trouble.

So, before I went to work I began to pray fervently. Holy Spirit, be with me. Bear the fruit for me. I'm lost. I'm struggling. My heart is not right. I cannot do it on my own. It must come from you.

Then, I went to work. On to the next subject...

I work with a group of young ladies with a real sense of entitlement. They rarely work but they expect reward. The "rules" don't quite apply to them. They are the exception. ( If there is one area where my parents exceedingly excelled was in teaching me about work ethic. I know how to work.) I keep telling myself. They are young. They simply don't know how.

So...I was leaving for my one hour lunch break yesterday, making a mental list of notes in my head of all I had to cram into this one hour. (By the was not on the list) Go home and feed the dog, make 2 return phone calls for the PCC, stop by my PO Box and pick up the mail, pay the water bill, etc.

I'm clocking out when one of these young ladies walks up to me at the desk. Uh, hon, I need you to go pick me up a cup of ice for my bottled water. And, your best bet is to go to QT not MacDonalds because the line is too long and you'll be waiting too long.

My immediate (and flippant) reply: No. My best bet is for you to get your own ice.

Of course, the whole group was at the desk and heard my reply. After the initial silence was the various comments on how much of a {BLANK} I was.

So much for my witness (again). So much for staying mute. What about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness....Remember the old commercial: Where's the beef? Yesterday, I was kicking myself in the tail asking:

Where's the fruit?

Friday, May 25, 2007

What if..We happily accepted God's Will

This has been a tough week with two major disappointments.

One, a project that I thought was going to change thousands of lives has come to an end-for now. I'm working hard to not beat myself up for not better discerning God's will and timing. I sunk a significant amount of money and I have only myself to blame. So, the personal and financial 'costs' greatly taught me that God is in control and He orders things to glorify His kingdom the way He sees fit. And yet another chapter in "My agenda vs. God's Will"......

Two, I signed the papers to retain my first grader another year. I held back from being a complete blubbering idiot in front of Hannah's teacher, but there is a complete peace that the right decision was made. I so wanted to believe that Hannah's heart surgery complications wouldn't impact her learning, but it has. Complications and recovery times from all three heart surgeries set her back six months developmentally. I do consider Hannah one of the fortunate complex heart patients-many of the others have significant lifelong issues.

Hebrews 11:1 is one of my signature verses. "Faith is being sure of what you hope for in the evidence of things unseen." God knows the outcomes of these disappointments. I do not yet see what's ahead, but I trust the One who does. That's what allows me to be sad for a short time, but then I can wholeheartedly accept God's will.

Live Out Loud ladies!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What If...She Were A Beauty Queen?

I'd like to share with you a conversation I had with my daughter this evening.

Olivia: Mommy, guess what?

Randee: What?

Olivia: I got invited to be in a beauty pageant.

Randee: You did? That's interesting. How do you feel about that?

Olivia: I don't know. I want to know what you think.

Randee: I'm not sure. I have some reservations though.

Olivia: think I'll get my feelings hurt if I don't win?

Randee: Yes. And...that I'm concerned that you might think that your outer beauty is more important than your inner beauty. What do you think God would say about that?

Olivia: That being beautiful on the inside is more important than on the outside.

Randee: You're so smart and you're right. It is more important.

Olivia: So, you don't want me to do it?

Randee: I'm not sure. I'll have to think about it and pray about it. Do you really want to do it?

Olivia: I don't know. Maybe.

Randee: Have you talked to Dad about it?

Olivia: No.

Randee: Well, you talk to Dad about it and then we'll all discuss it together...the three of us.

End Conversation

Any thoughts, my sisters? I could use some Godly counsel on this one.

What if...sharing was a way of life

Recently it was my birthday and one of my co-workers was asking me questions about being a twin. "Did it bother you to share a birthday cake?" she wanted to know. "Did your mom try and make sure you had an equal amount of presents?" I had to stumble through an answer because the questions seemed foreign to me. When you're born as one of multiples, sharing is just what life is all about. How lucky I feel to have always shared cake and candles, and to have the joy of buying someone else a gift on my birthday.

In Acts 4:32 it says, "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." I feel such joy when I read that, but honestly, some hesitation too. I'm not used to sharing on such a scale as that, and yet - where would my heart be if I did?

Shane Claiborne is one of the "new monastics", those who live as Christ followers in community with one another, and also with the poor. How radical it seems to many of us to live communally with each other. And yet through Claiborne's writings I sense a life in Christ so much deeper and richer than what I usually experience on my own. As Claiborne says, "The vision of Jesus is not spread through organizational structures, but through touch, breath, shared life. It is spread through people who have discovered love."

I am not at the place Claiborne and other new monastics are at. Not yet at least. And yet I find myself changing as I devote myself to my church body and community group, and keep my focus on Christ. Sometimes now when I have a little extra money, instead of wondering what I should do with it, I wonder who else might need some of it. So I'm wondering today what if sharing became not something I did occasionally, but something I lived mostly? What if chronic and constant sharing opened up my heart so much that I was consumed by the love of Christ, consumed with love for all God's children, consumed with helping others in this world? What if?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What if...we lived life fearlessly?

Wow, can you imagine how much more you would accomplish if you lived life fearlessly? Yet, we are constantly fearful. We fear failure, we fear what people will say, we fear our incapacities, we even fear that people will look at us bad. Fear is a crippling disease!

Fear is born from feeling powerless, unqualified, vulnerable or helpless. When we experience fear we believe that we are exposed to some form of danger. Consequently, we are convinced that we don’t have what it takes to protect ourselves.
The interesting thing about feeling fear is that often our first reaction is to seek protection or refuge from that which threatens our security. Therefore our natural instincts are: to take flight or to freeze.

We often “take flight” because we don’t want to deal with, or we feel incapable of dealing with a dreadful situation. And while taking flight is a form of protection it also put us in denial mode. We don’t know how to deal with it, so we take flight and ignore it, all in the hopes that danger will eventually just go away.

Typically, however, we freeze before fear. The danger before us seems undefeatable so we become paralyzed. If our frozen state were not bad enough, we find ways of justifying our paralysis. To justify our in-action we say things like: “I’m praying about it,” or “Just hanging on.” Don’t get me wrong, these are all good responses. The only problem is that this state of frozenness will limit our progress.

Truth is that, neither flight or freeze, although common responses, are appropriate answers to fear.

Believe it or not, our best response before should be to confront fear. But confrontation requires that we acquire a state of fearlessness. Confrontation does not necessarily mean conflict and crisis. Confrontation simply means that we will take action, regardless of our fears.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). To live fearlessly, is to live with the assurance that we have already received from God all that we need to face even our most deepest fears.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What if ... we always lived as though we were still newlyweds?

Me and my husband celebrated our 10 year anniversary this past Friday by going out to dinner and then going out of town to visit family. We recognize 10 years as being a great accomplishment especially when divorce is so commonplace and seems to be an easy way out for many when the going gets tough. If a marriage is ever going to work though, it takes lots of hard work which at times can be very draining. We are both very grateful for the hard work we have put into our marriage to make sure it has lasted as long as it has and know our hard work will keep us together for the rest of our lives.

In the past on several of our previous anniversaries we had pulled out our wedding video to watch with our children and pictures of when we were first married. It reminds us of those times we went out of our way to make the other feel special and loved. Something that we need to work harder at the longer we are married especially after we began our family. It is easy to take one another for granted and just assume they will alway know how special they are and how much we love them.

This is something I had begun to learn a few years back and continue to need to remind myself of to act as though I did when we were newlyweds. To make it a point to go out of my way to make my husband feel special and remind him of how much he is loved. To stop taking for granted that he already knows.

I have never been too affectionate of a person and at one point when my marriage had hit a pretty rough trial I realized I wasn't making my husband feel very secure in our marriage because of it. My husband is definitely the more affectionate one of the two of us which is what attracted me to him in the first place. It was then that I realized how important it is for me to work hard at letting him know just what he means to me. And I am continuing to learn to do so. What if .. we always did live as though we were still newlyweds?

Friday, May 18, 2007

What if.....We had more courage to persevere

A few weeks ago, we went to the local roller skating rink. My youngest daughter had never been skating before, but she was willing to try something new. She started out gripping my hand and letting me pull her. She progressed to learning to skate alone on the carpet area of the rink. She then eventually went out on the rink with one of her older sisters (I was worn out!), stayed close to the wall and out of the way of others, and skated around the entire rink by herself. When she would take little breaks, she’d look over and smile and wave. She was grinning ear to ear when she was done. She did it! She built her confidence through persevering on a task she initially thought was overwhelming.

This is the same precious daughter who had three open heart surgeries by the time she was two years old and we almost lost her after her last surgery due to major complications. This girl knows something about perseverance and a God who protects and provides!

How about you? Is there something in your personal or professional life that requires perseverance or tenacity? What area of your life could you use a little more confidence?


1. Identify one area in your life you could use a little more confidence you know requires perseverance?

2. Think of building your confidence like climbing up steps. Take it one step at a time. When you have mastered that one step, THEN move to the next step. What kills confidence and brings a strong desire to quit is looking at all the steps you need to climb instead of focusing on what’s in front of you.

3. Perseverance brings confidence that can take you to a different level in your life. –A life that gives you more energy and passion!

Live Out Loud Ladies!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What If...I took a vow of silence?

I am convinced that those who regularly practice the spiritual discipline of silence are blessed in their silence. I began to contemplate this whole idea of silence before I went to Costa Rica in April. I had been reading a book entitled Prayer...Finding the Heart's True Home by Richard Foster. The book was on prayer not silence but the month before leaving I began to practice something known as the Formation Prayer.

In Formation Prayer you spend the first week with dedicated time focused on the love of Christ. The second week focuses on the life of Christ. The third week on the death (crucifixion) of Christ and the fourth week on the resurrection of Christ. It was during this time that I caught a beautiful glimpse into communion with God without words. I was silent in the presence of God. Not only to listen but to "be" with God. To remember.

But...this is different than what I am refering to here on the vow of silence. (Or, is it?) Have you ever been acutely aware that IF you opened your mouth you would sin? That was the case for me yesterday. I was fuming mad over a situation of total immorality and the injustice that followed in the name of this immorality. I came face to face with a grotesque situation. I, literally, had to bite my tongue to keep from opening my mouth. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I opened my mouth the floodgates of my bitter heart would unleash.

So, I took it to God. I certainly wasn't silent with Him. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. I'm thinking that God gave me two ears and one mouth and that I should use them accordingly.

I'm thinking of starting a club called The Monday Mutes.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What if...from the soil of tragedy a miracle blossomed?

A year ago or so, I was caught up in the tragedy of this following story because the woman involved had been at one time my older children's stepmother and is also a friend of my sister's. Honestly, all I saw was the pain that I knew was present in so many lives involved. I never thought about how God might step in and do something miraculous. Why do I forget sometimes the amazing things he can do when someone opens their heart to him?

Lori's story reminds me once again how nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible when you throw yourself in God's arms.

A Life Changed by Forgiveness: New Hope Wesleyan Embraces Driver Involved in Fatality

Forgive that driver who cut us off at the exit? Okay. Forgive the driver on her cell phone that almost caused an accident? Well, after we have simmered down and relinquished it to God. But, forgive a drunk driver who took the life of a loved one? According to Jesus, forgiveness doesn’t have any parameters. He tells us, in Matthew 18:22, to forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” One family—and their church—have forgiven much.

In the early hours of a crisp October morning, Lori was driving home after having a couple of drinks with her grown son at a local tavern. In just a few miles, her life would change forever. Out of nowhere, she heard a thud, and the car lurched unexpectedly. “I must have hit something in the road,” Lori thought. Slowly the realization sunk in that it might have been a person. Lori stopped and phoned the police. Soon, they arrived, placing her under arrest for taking the life of Grant, a 19-year-old young man who was wandering aimlessly down the middle of the road. He had been at a party and was inebriated. Grant had left the party on foot and lost his way.

Grant’s father, Bob, and stepmother, Sarah, have attended New Hope Wesleyan, Colombia City , Indiana , for many years. Rev. Barry Faucett ministered to Grant’s family, recalling that they felt they could forgive Lori from the beginning, and that Bob “believed that God was going to bring good from this nightmare.” When given the opportunity to meet with Lori, the couple agreed. Pastor Faucett says, “Nothing had to be said. They embraced and wept, she expressed her sorrow, her remorse; she asked for forgiveness, and it was offered.”

The next Sunday, Lori came to New Hope , and sat with Bob and Sarah. When the altar call was given, the couple went forward with Lori as she gave her heart to the Lord and found the forgiveness that only the Lord can give—forgiveness of sins. The church people jumped right in; loved her, accepted her, and drew her in. Lori shares, “They gave me the strength to want to continue with my life.”

Recently, Lori has been released from incarceration where many, inmates and staff alike, have been saved by her testimony of forgiveness. Bob and Lori accepted the opportunity to speak at a local school—Bob talked about the choices that people make, and Lori spoke on the dangers of social drinking. Other requests for them to share their testimonies are coming in. Bob shares, “God didn’t give us this life to be vindictive. We are supposed to forgive. Lori admits it has been hard, but adds, “I can’t be useful to other people if I don’t forgive myself.” Bob was right. The Lord took a nightmare and used it for His glory.

Story on web site

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What if...we knew how to deal with disappointments?

Recently, I have been grappling with a series of disappointments. And it has not been easy. I’ve come to realize that disappointments occur when we feel that our expectations were not met. We were holding on to the belief that something was when in reality it is not. One of the arenas where disappointments can cause the deepest hurts is in relationships. Friendships, in particular, can go sour when there is disappointment. Disappointments in friendships usually stem from betrayal, when friends show a side of themselves that we did not think possible.

In theory, we should know that betrayal is just another manifestation of human behavior, and humans are not perfect. Therefore, in our in our state of human imperfection we will fail others and others will fail us. Yet, on an emotional level betrayal hurts – it cuts deep.

We wonder how we could ever look the other person in the eye again? We create scenarios of meeting them in a hallway, on the street, or a party. We wonder what to do in case of sudden encounter? Should we act “normal” and smile and greet as if nothing happened? Or, perhaps we should quickly turn our faces and pretend that we hadn’t seen them at all?

If that were not bad enough life itself offers its own series of disappointments. There’s always something trying to rain on our parade. Sometimes a regular “soaking” can cause us to become discouraged and dispirited.

If we knew how to deal with disappointments then we would know that they are temporary, and sometimes they are even necessary. While we cannot negate the pain they bring into our lives, there are lessons to be learned. Perhaps that is the way to deal with disappointment – stare it straight in the eye, and ask God: What lessons would you have me to learn from this? That divine revelation alone can help us to begin to heal.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What if ... we could go back in time?

My kids love to watch a show called Time Warp Trio and it always gets me thinking. Wouldn't it be cool to go back in time and experience what life was really like back during the different ages?

Growing up I never really cared for History but the older I get it really has become something very enjoyable and fascinating.

Time Warp Trio is about 3 friends (the trio) who go back in time with people from past history. They find their presence in the past makes drastic changes to their present and future and then have to figure out a way to fix things in order for their lives to go back to normal.

It makes me think about how their have been times in the past when I have wished I could turn back time and change things from my past or do things differently because I either wasn't happy with my choices or mistakes I made. Also because I felt life has dealt me a difficult hand growing up and even now and wonder how much easier life could have been or be today.

What I have come to realize through all the bad choices and mistakes I made and the hand I was dealt with in my past is that all of it has made me into the person I am today which I am grateful for and I wouldn't want to change a thing by going back in time.

According to Time Warp Trio, it usually just makes things worse and messes things up. I definitely wouldn't want to change the hand I was dealt as a child because it was that hand that brought me to move thousands of miles away from my family to Florida and it was the mistakes I made growing up and while living in Florida and having my life threatened from a boyfriend that brought me to the point of truly searching for God and what religion was supposed to be all about.

And if it wasn't for all those past choices, mistakes and hand that I was dealt with, I wouldn't be blessed with the wonderful husband and two beautiful children I am today which I am grateful for even though I still have days I want to run away!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What if...I expand my view of Mother's Day

My older kids live out of state, and my teenage son won't be back from his cousin's until this afternoon, and my own mother passed away several years ago. So for the first time in almost 30 years, I'm sitting alone here this Mother's Day morning and won't have a child next to me in church today.

Having this solitary time got me thinking about other women I know who aren't birth mothers or adoptive mothers, and are home without children but are mothers just the same. One example is my best friend. Jane never had children of her own, either by birth or adopted, and yet she has more than I could ever dream of. She's the principal of a school for cognitively and physically impaired young adults, and these children of hers are always on her mind. Jane is one of those educators who is passionate about what she does, always trying to make things better, dreaming about future endeavors with her students and the community, giving support and motivation to all her teachers, and hugs and attention to the students as she walks down the hallway. Her life's passion is wrapped up in the 100 plus "children" that belong to other mothers.

And so today, I'm celebrating all mothers. Those who have kids of their own, and those whose lives are passionately dedicated to children, including my daughter Kelly, who brings such joy, life and creativity to teaching a classroom of fifth graders and tutoring children after school. Happy Mother's Day to you all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What if.....We had more courage


I just got off the phone with a coaching client who has some major career decisions to make. Throughout the nine months he has been out of work, his faith has carried him through many moments of doubt. He stands at a fork in the road and is not sure which road he is to take.

“Is courage an issue?” I said.

“Yes, it is.” My client said.

How many times have you been standing at a fork in your road, wanting clear direction as to which way you should go? It is a difficult place to be, but if you are willing to trust and gather the courage and strength from your faith, it will take your life to a whole new level that you never would have imagined!

In the movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” Indiana and his father search for the Holy Grail. The search takes them to caverns, and the only way to navigate through them is to use the dad’s notes for a safe passage. Indy’s father is injured so Indy must get to the Holy Grail himself. He comes to a point in the journey where he stands at the edge of a huge abyss. He sees the other side and the continuation of the path to the grail, but has no idea how to get across. After viewing the notes, Indy realizes the only way he can get across is to ‘take a step of faith’ and believe that he will be able to miraculously walk across air. After a deep breath, he steps out and indeed is able to walk. It is then that the pathway across the abyss is revealed. When you are able to take a courageous step into something you’re not sure of, you open up a whole new world.

How about you? Are you being called to take a courageous step of faith in your personal or professional life?

Tips to incorporate more courage:

1. Identify the area you know you need to take that step of faith. (Is there an area that you are struggling to relinquish?)

2. Take it to God in prayer and learn to let go of the control a little more each day.

3. Ask God for courage to take that step of faith and then just do it! Take that first action step!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What If...We Call Sin What It Is...Sin.

I was having a fit. A full-blown emotional temper tantrum. A pity-party and I was the guest of honor.

A wrench was thrown in my perfect plan that forced me to make a decision that troubled me. I went to my Friday morning online fellowship group with "my girls" but on this particular day only one was there. How unusual. Where was the rest of the group? Strange.

Randee, I have got to share with the the blessings our Father has thrown in my lap this week. One upon the other. She went on to share her good news. And, when she finished she asked...And, you? Share your blessings this week.

I don't have any. Maybe I should leave for today. I'm discouraged, disgusted, disgruntled, defeated. I don't want to rain on your parade. I'm happy for you but this is not my day, my week, my year. (Such an exaggeration!) I don't like anyone. I don't like myself. Goodbye.

Wait! What is going on with you? Let me carry your burden.

You don't know what you ask for, my friend.

I can handle it.

So, I wailed. Really wailed. And, she listened quietly.

When I finished my tirade, she simply said...Stop this. I see God all over this temporary situation. And, then she spoke the words that I will never forget:

This season is not about your comfort.

On that day, my friend, stopped me in my tracks. She called my reaction to my situation was it was...Sin. These women, who call it what it is, are our real friends. They care enough to be bold. To take the risk. And, how thankful I am for this friend. May I be a friend like this!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What If...we let ourselves be more transparent?

At the coffee shop we were supposed to be talking about upcoming projects we were working on. Somehow, though, the conversation took a turn and suddenly we were talking about life and deeper things. I’d known Kara for about four years, but I had no clue that she’d had such a difficult childhood.

She gave me such a gift when she gave me her vulnerability and trust. Kara poured forth stories about her mostly absent father who sporadically stops by her mother’s for money and a place to sleep. She talked about the years he spent in prison after being caught running a meth lab and how he hasn’t worked in years. I don’t think this young, professional woman would have come to the point of sharing so much with me if I hadn’t already told her a little bit about my own parents being alcoholics and what affect that had on my life. I don’t talk about that very often. It’s still hard not to feel that I am betraying my parents, even though they have both passed on. However, I am coming to truly understand how God can use any part of our lives to connect with and support other human beings.

It’s easy for us as Christians to think we should have it all together and separate ourselves from each other by the masks we keep firmly in place. I am discovering that authenticity is not just about openly sharing stories of our lives, but allowing others to hold our hearts in their hands and connect at a deep and soulful level. It’s often the cracks in our hearts that make space for God to enter in. Our own brokenness can be a gift for others. I have been where you have been, I’m walking a similar path, and I understand.

In The Message version of the Bible by Eugene Peterson, I love the wording of these verses from Matthew: ‘When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick?”’

Kara hasn’t been a part of any church, but she decided to come to my church last Sunday after our conversation, and plans on coming back this week. Perhaps in my openness she is seeing a glimpse of how God loves all his children. So hey – here I am, Lord, just one of the riff-raff trying to live life wide open, with a heart willing to let you use my messiness to help draw others closer to you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

What if...we had our priorities straight?

Our mixed-up priorities scale is the culprit for a lot of the stress we experience. The truth is that we overwork, overdo, and even so continue to have unfulfilled expectations.

We live in a high-paced fast-speed world. Work and “busy work” have crowded our days, becoming top priorities. As a result, we have neglected the three most important elements of our priorities scale: God, family, and ourselves.

If things suddenly go wrong, we try to compensate, by giving God our undivided attention. But otherwise there is little time for peaceful meditation and gratitude.

I live in New York and I was awed by the sudden burst of spiritually that this city went through after the September 11 attacks: churches were overflowing, people were praying at their work places, even in school teachers were allowed a few moments of spiritual reflection to help students cope with the tragedy, but months later it was back to business as usual.

The same happens with family, because life gets in the way, we fail to keep in touch as we should. Not until there is a funeral or a wedding do we find ourselves obligated to reconnect. And even with those we live with, we only go through the motions required for having to share the same living space.

When it comes to taking care of self, we do the same. We eat not for self-preservation but for sport. We don’t exercise as we should. We allow our minds to be exposed to toxic entertainment - all in desecration of our body-temple.

Is it any wonder that we keep running around in the same circles of spiritual emptiness, physical lethargy, and emotional disconnect?

What if we were to try re-focusing? One day at a time. Let’s check our “To Do Lists”. Let’s re-write some things to include the right order of priorities: GOD – SELF - OTHERS. Life just might become much more fulfilling.

Monday, May 7, 2007

What if ... we embraced just one of our dreams?

We all have a dream and probably even several of living a better life then what we currently are living. Whether those dreams be about our own or our loved ones spirituality, whether it be work related, family related or just something that makes us happy, it is different for all of us.

Fulfilling a dream of ours is just that, 'ours'. No one can fulfill it for us. We must take action to pursue our dreams. The problem is, too often we let life take over. Especially once we become mothers because time for ourselves is not so easily found any more. We tend to make the excuses, 'now is not the time', 'I'll start tomorrow', 'other things are more important' etc. etc. The longer we do that the more our dreams get buried and before we know it, we don't even remember what those dreams were because we allowed life to take over.

Yes, we may be busy and have several other responsibilities in our lives especially if we are mothers but our dreams are important too. I believe God gives us those dreams and wants us to take action on them and wants us to enjoy our lives as we live out our passions and dreams.

If we embraced just one of our dreams and took action no matter how small to pursue that dream, it sets in motion the passion and momentum to keep the dream from being buried. You might get off track for a bit and you might even have to go through several trials but one day, that dream will come to pass and probably be better then what you could have ever imagined.

Friday, May 4, 2007

What If....You Could Simplify

A while back, I received a little booklet from Starbucks to educate the public on how to order a beverage at their stores. It was amazing all the different ways you could order, and at the end of the booklet, they gave an example statement of how to order. My husband and I just laughed because who would have thought ordering coffee would become so complicated!

Isn't it just like us to make life so complex when we could really just simplify? So much time and energy is spent wasted on worrying, when 80% of what we worry about never actually happens!

Some tips to help simplify your life:
1. Stop worrying and start LIVING! Enjoy the days you are given.
2. Identify the one area of life that has you the most stressed and take ACTION steps to relieve the stress. Nothing changes just thinking about it-you have to do something.
3. Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. Identify your support system and call them!
4. Pray for direction and clarity on how to tackle the complexities and identify how to simplify them.

Live Your Life Out Loud!


Thursday, May 3, 2007

What if ... I ran away from home?

I know the last post was What if...We didn't Complain? and I need to work at that daily but I hope you all don't mind that I am starting my What if question with a complaint? As I said, I need to work at it daily.

I don't know if you can relate or not but there are just some days that I wish I could run away from home! As moms we are always making sure we take care of everyone else and for the most part, I love doing just that but boy can my kids wear me down. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing what's best for my kids since I home school them with the whining and fighting among them that really gets under my skin. I find myself not being very nice and wanting to run away thinking we all just spend way too much time together.

I love being a stay at home mom but sometimes I need to get away too like my husband does as he works outside the home. Sometimes I wish we could trade roles for a time. Not that I need or want to work out of the home every day but it would be nice if I didn't have to referee or listen to the whining and complaining every day. I think it would help all of us appreciate one another more.

During this school year I signed my kids up for Awana at our church. My kids looked forward to going every Wednesday and so did I. It was the only time during the week that I could be by myself and really gather my thoughts and have some quality uninterupted time in the Word of God and doing things that refresh my spirit. I am grateful for the time I had each Wednesday night because I believe I needed that time for myself. Of course some weeks were better then others but it was those tougher weeks I felt like I wanted to run away and Wednesday nights are what kept me sane. Now that Awana is over though, I have to figure out what I can do at least once a week (I'd like even more time) so I can keep my bearings and not run away!


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What If . . . We Didn't Complain?

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
-Maya Angelou

It’s easy for me to grouse, to whine, to gossip, to be snide and witchy. Lately I’ve found myself slipping slowly into the habit of complaining and looking at the world through a lens of negativity. It’s easy to do. In fact I find it rather seductive. I can feel self-important and self-righteous, and frankly being angry and nasty brings a rush of drug-like energy.

I grew up with a mother who lived most of life looking through murky-colored glasses. Being caustic and negative just became a habit for her and the guiding force of her persona. It was, of course, intimidating and scary, because you never knew when you were going to be in the line of fire. I can empathize more with my mother now, because I see how easily negativity can grow inside me as well.

Once those seeds of complaining are planted, they take root so quickly. I don’t want them overrunning my soul – I’ve realized how indulging in negativity closes my heart and doesn’t allow Christ to flow through me. There’s a minister who started a grassroots movement to foster a complaint free world. Rev. Will Bowen, pastor of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Missouri, challenged his congregation to go 21 days without complaining. Since then, his story and movement has spread like wildfire, with numerous newspaper articles written and appearances on national television shows like Oprah.

I’m thinking about ordering my own Complaint Free World bracelet and taking the 21 day challenge. I know that only when my heart is open can God enter in. May I be filled with God’s presence, and may the light of Christ, the joy! the love! flow through me to everyone I meet.