Nothing is Written Yet

1 Jan

ImageI saw this and thought it really summarized my thoughts & direction of 2012. The great thing about 2013 is, not a single day, event, thought or feeling has been written yet. What 2013 looks like depends completely on you!

How will you summarize 2013 this time next year?!?

Its in Your Hands

27 Oct

This morning I participated in a team building exercise on a high ropes course.  People from all walks of life came together to encourage one another as we met ourselves 30 feet off of the ground.  At first we sat as a group and listened as our instructor share with us how to put our harness on, what to expect and offered last minute words of encouragement.  The one thing that stuck out in my mind at that moment was her caution of “You never know how you are going to feel once its just you, alone, up on the course.”  She challenged us to encourage one another and to be patient.  The reason?  She said she has seen many people totally psyched up to conqueror the course only to find themselves holding onto a telephone pole for dear life while they find the inner strength to continue on. It was something to ponder and think about as we waited in line.  

The instructor then asked, “Who wants to go first?” A young mother of three, Bonnie, and I both jumped up and said, “I do!”   Bonnie was before me and I was second in line.  Last year Bonnie could not go further than the first obstacle.  When she faced the second phase, she could not find it within herself to go forward.  

The moment of truth was at hand, Bonnie went through the first phase with no problem.  I looked on and all of our teammates cheered and encouraged her that she could do it!  When she got to the second phase you could see the inner struggle begin.  She didn’t want to let go of the telephone pole.  You could see the struggle work across her features.  Then with a look of determination, she let go and she started to walk.  At that time another instructor told me that it was my turn.  WOW!  Talk about feeling good about it until it was time to take that first step.  I now understood what the first instructor was talking about earlier.  I had no problem with the first phase.  The second now loomed before me.  While waiting to take the first step of the second phase, I waited until Bonnie finished the 2nd.  She did it!!  I too mastered the second phase.  Bonnie started onto the 3rd phase as I breathlessly came to the wooden block between obstacles.  She made it to the next phase, I was following behind her.  Each ending of her phase was the beginning of mine.    

As I stood there I listened to the instructors around me, time and time again I could hear them offering words of encouragement to my fellow sojourners.  What I heard that struck me profoundly, regardless of which phase of the obstacle they were on, were these words. “YOUR  rope is your security – hold on to your rope and use it!”  What the instructors were talking about was on every phase we had two cables attaching us to a cable above us.  If we were to fall, those cables would catch us.  As we faced each phase we were presented with different supports.  We could choose to hold on to the rope obstacles support or we could use our individual anchors or a combination of both.  I watched as Bonnie chose to use the ropes on the course itself instead of using her own rope.  Now there is no right or wrong process but I watched her as she swayed back and forth and danced within the perimeters of fear.  Wind gusts would blow and cause her to tighten her hands around the ropes.  I watched and decided that if I chose that option it would add to my anxiety.  Instead I always kept my cable as my source of strength and guidance.  In doing so I was able to work through the course quickly and without a lot of swaying to and fro.  

As I zipped down the zip line I could still hear the instructors calling out to encouraging the participants to use their own cable/ropes.  I finished the course amongst cheers and support of the staff.  It felt great.  As I left I pondered the experience and I learned a major truth.  Too many times we grab a hold of the things around us for support and to help us face the obstacles ahead of us.  And where that does keep us from falling, the circumstances around us can cause of to sway and add to our anxiety and concerns.  Instead, the answer is within us – our own rope – is where we find the strength to overcome.  So look around you, what have you been holding onto that you need to let go?  Will you realize the strength is within yourself to overcome?  You CAN do it!

Its Your Funeral

4 Mar

Recently I went to a funeral for a 38 year sister to a friend of our family.  When I awoke that morning it was cold and rainy.  I wondered about the turn out.  I thought the weather would keep people from attending.  I decided to go early to the church to see if I could help my friend and their family set up or just to be there for support.  When I pulled up to the church an hour before the service, the parking lot was surprisingly no where near empty.  I went inside, shook off my umbrella and took of my coat.  I went and placed my things in the area that I would like to sit and off I went to see where I could be of service.  As I helped the family prepare a memory table, I marveled at the things the family had selected to represent her life.  This was not a woman who lived a small life – this was a woman who lived life large.

As the rain continued to fall, more and more people were lining up inside the church to sign the guest book and to find their seats.  Time continued and the line went out the door.  More time passed, the line began to wrap around outside. The sanctuary filled, people began standing on the sides of the room.  Chairs were brought into the foyer and set up.  They too filled and yet I could not see the end of the line. People began to stand in the foyer along the walls.  The front doors were opened, two tents were set up in front of those doors.  Chairs were set up there too and they were filled and yet the line continued.

As the pastor began the service, he introduced family members who wanted to share her life with us.  One by one they took the microphone and invited us into the life of their loved one.  They shared how that one person effected their life in a big way.  Statements were made like, “She always had a big smile on her face”  “She never met a stranger”  “She would sit and really listen to me for as long as I wanted to talk” “She never wanted attention or recognition, but she always wanted to help.”  “She always had time for me”  “She would pitch in where ever there was a need” “She was my friend”  “My life is better for having her in it”  “She will be missed”

The pastor wrapped up his message and invited the audience to share their stories.  One by one people raised their hands and again the stories and moments that she took to bless those around her were repeated over and over again.  A slide show was presented and we saw how the comments people had shared were brought to life through the memories captured on film.  We saw pictures of her serving.  We saw pictures of her loving.  We saw that beautiful smile in every single picture.  The service ended and yet people didn’t leave.  They continued to stay and share how this woman, who had lived a large life, brought value to their lives because every single person in that room had been effected by this woman.  There was not a single person in that room whom was not touched in some way by her.  All had come to celebrate the difference she had made in their lives.

As I drove home I was convicted about my life.  What would people say about me at my funeral?  As I pondered that I had to ask myself, “What would I want said about me at my funeral?”  As I dissected the things that could be said versus what I hoped would be said, I realized that I could have the things I would like to be said, a reality.  All I had to do was change the areas that needed to be changed to give me those results.

You see, my future, your future hasn’t been written yet.  We still have control of what will be said at our funeral.  We just need to change, to add, or to continue the habits and behaviors to give us those results.  Its in our hands.  Its up to us.  Why?  Because it’s your funeral and the words haven’t been written yet.

My Christmas Letter To My Mom

4 Jan

Mom,

Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for making tremendous sacrifices for me.  Thank you for supporting me and always being there – to listen, to give advice, to offer assistance and to be my friend.

I am the woman I am today, the mother I am today, the wife I am today and the friend I am today because of the lessons that you taught me – because of who you are.  Without you in my life, I would not know the blessings that I have today.  Without you I would not appreciate the finer things in my life.

Today my life is rich; rich with laughter, love and friendship.  Today I have it together.  Today I am happy. Today I am very satisfied with my life.  Today I am all of these things because of who you created me to be.

I am confident because you taught me there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do.  I am secure because you taught me the importance that I needed in loving myself first.  I am a good listener because you taught me the value of being a good friend.  I am friendly and well liked because you taught me the honor of putting other people first.

Trials have come and gone in my life but I am a better person for having gone through them.  I have watched you face trials, challenges, and very difficult situations and I have watched for you to prevail in the midst of them and you did.  You taught me the value of getting back up when I have been knocked down.  You taught me the value of looking at tomorrow instead of my yesterdays.

I am who I am because of who YOU are and I would not have it any other way.  I am proud to be your daughter and I am proud to call you my mom.

Thanks for loving me.  Thanks for being my friend.  Remember, I love you for you!!

Merry Christmas 2011!

Teri

What is Before You?

19 Dec

Last week I went to a graduation for one of my daughters friends. Although it was not taking place in the summer, all of the normal graduation traditions were present.  The stage was set with the podium and microphone.  Multiple seats held the dignified guests.  The flags of our state and our district were proudly displayed and rows and rows of seats for our young graduating class faced forward towards the stage. Alas the music began.  The 2011 class began to proudly walk towards the crowd.  People were cheering.  Balloons were floating and waving with words of encouragement like, “Congrats” “You made it!” and “Great job”  The look of pride on the seniors faces marked a long road of struggle, of overcoming major learning obstacles and having conquered them.  They took their seats.  The speaker had to wait for the audience to quiet amidst the cheers, shouts and tears.  The honor guard presented their colors.  The choir sang.  The opening speaker took to the mike and began to speak.

And at that moment a major truth hit me.  You see, the mascot for the school that we were attending was the Red Devils.  The graduation was taking place in the gym and painted on the wall behind the speakers podium was a painted Red Devil.  The painting was approximately 18-20 feet in height and about 8-10 feet wide.  The painting itself was of a devils face.  It was red in color with jagged horns.  Its teeth were horrific and misshaped.  Its eyes had a sinister glow and look to them.  All around the base of its face, different shades and shapes of fire danced and licked around it.  The effect was quite evil.

Now sitting opposed to that gruelish figure were our graduating seniors. Proud of their accomplishments and so looking forward to the next chapter opening in their lives.  They were hopeful, eagerly listening to any bit of truth or encouragement they could glean from the speakers.  I would dare say that most, if not all of them, were so focused on the graduation activities, they did not even see the gigantic evil looming before them.   I would dare to suggest that those sitting in the bleachers were equally unaware.

So many times we too are going through life, so focused on our activities and purposes we don’t see the gigantic evil before us.  Now I am not suggesting that we become devil watchers.  But I want to encourage you to be aware.  To be prayerful.  To be on guard for your loved ones, family and friends.

1 Pet. 4:8 reads,  “Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The first part of John 10:10 reads,”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”

We have a real enemy.  He wants to destroy Christians.  If he can’t kill us, then he wants to steal from us.  If he can’t steal from us then he wants to hurt you by any means possible.  Stand guard.  Be on alert. Be prayerful.  And remember the promise made to us in the second part of John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

We are created to have life and to live it abundantly!  Jesus came to secure it and to deliver it.  All you have to do is accept it.  Come on, what are you waiting for?


What Are You Reflecting?

25 Aug

Being Courteous to others is not only respectful to others, but it directly reflects on you as a person. So what does your reflection look like to others?

  • At home – Being discourteous to those we say we love can easily become overlooked. Taking the last piece of cake, not cleaning up after ourselves etc. gets old fast. Being courteous means putting yourself in the other persons shoes instead of thinking of yourself first. It means doing something without being asked and not as a onetime event. We all think we’re courteous to some extent but it takes practice. Bad habits don’t get better unless you’re aware of them. Once you pick up bad habits and behaviors, especially from watching and learning from other people, they become normal.
  • On the Road – Driving manners can be very annoying. It’s not just when we’re in a hurry that we treat others discourteous on the road. Try to be generous and let other drivers out of side roads when their trying to get out. Don’t tail the person in front of you and use your signals in plenty of time for the person behind you. Are you one of those people who take up two spaces in the parking lot? This is really annoying. Most of all, be courteous of other peoples property and don’t bang your door into their car. This is a really bad behavior and damaging to someone’s property as well.
  • At work- Holding the elevator is a nice gesture. Pushing the floor buttons for the other person is even a nicer one. Holding the door is very courteous too. In the business, its always courteous to say “hello” and “goodbye”. If you are on the phone at work, its always wise not to slam the phone down, as this type of discourtesy may leave a bad impression on the other end. Making coffee after you drank the last cup would probably be a good thing as well.

Common Courtesy Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do use tact and think before you speak. Consider their feelings and an offhand remark such as “your hair looks uncombed today” can be hurtful to them.
  • Do be a loyal friend. Loyalty is very important in any friendship.
  • Do keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and remember to send cards and / or gifts during these special occasions. Be a giver as well as a receiver. Be available for your friends when they need support and likewise, when you need support, ask them for their help too.
  • Don’t make negative statements about a friend’s spouse, children, relatives, pets, decorating, weight or age. Remember the old adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.”
  • Don’t overburden your friends with constant complaining about your problems, remember, everyone has problems.
  • Don’t take your family or friends for granted, as you would not like it if they took you for granted.

Just giving a little help…

31 Jul

I sat and listened as a lady shared how she was at a crossroad in her life.  She had two different directions before her.  She shared that she didn’t have a clear understanding of which would be best for her. Therefore, she decided to put both of her options on a piece of paper. After writing both of her options onto separate pieces of paper, she went in search of a bowl.  Once she had obtained a bowl, she dropped them in.  As she swirled them round and round in the bowl, she proclaimed, “I don’t know what I should do, so whichever I pick out of the bowl, must be God’s will”  Then she closed her eyes,  reached into the bowl and made her selection.  She opened her eyes and read the direction.  She then looks at her friend and shares, “This is obviously the will of God.  There’s is no reason for me to be nervous.  After all, I picked this direction out of the bowl.”    She glances at her friend looking slightly guilty and blurts out, “All right!  I only cheated a little and peeked when I picked. Sometimes God needs some help!”

Can you relate?  Do you ever feel that way?  You want to trust God but you think if you “help” out then things will go faster, easier or maybe quicker if you are helping…

Too many times we can be found guilty of trying to help God out.  The problem is our plans are second rate compared to the awesomeness of God’s plans for us.  In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

See, God tells us that he has a plan that is good and that it is one that will give us a future.

So what do we need to do?  We need to step back and let God direct. Most of all, we need to understand that God doesn’t need our help.  He does, however, invite us to walk with Him.  He needs to do the leading. We need to do the following.

Therefore, the next time you are inclined to help God out, remember the council given to us in Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

It’s okay for us to make plans.  We just need to seek God in order to determine:

First, IF this is the direction you should go.

Second, WHEN you should go and

Lastly, WHAT you need to know and/or learn as you go.

Cause in the end, we want to live assured that we are living in the promise found in Jeremian 29:11,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Till we meet again my friend!

Blessed be!!

Friends as Travelling Companions

20 Jun

Most of us meet new people everyday.  Each of us can look around us and see people that we have no idea who they are, what their name is, where they live or what their story is.

Every day we live and work in an environment with people all around us and we can (maybe sometimes do) feel very alone and lonely.

As you take inventory of your journey through this life, ask yourself, “who are you travelling with?” Look around you. Who is need of someone to journey with.  God has made us to be a community. His Word challenges us to connect.

There will be a day when each of us are not doing well. When you have friends and family, you have others that will come over and love you through your pain and suffering. We should help each other when we are in need. We are more effective when we work together. We help each other do life with our skills and life becomes a little easier and little better.

Someone need YOU today!  Maybe YOU need someone today… Regardless, we are a community of people that need one another.  So take the first step.  Introduce yourself.  Invest yourself.  Make a difference and in doing so, you impact and empower yourself as well as the one you are investing in.

Recently I was challenged by someone when they asked, “Did you come here to be blessed or be a blessing?”  When I shifted my eyes from what I had hoped to receive, to what I could give to someone instead, that moment became life changing.

So what about you?  When you look at your friends, your travel companions as it were, are you thankful?  Do you seek to bless them? Do you recognize them as a blessing?  Stop right now and thank God for your friends, your family and those that you don’t even know yet that you can be a blessing to!  Remember…

When our Travel Companions are Children

19 Jun

Yesterday I began sharing how I have learned several truths from our “reality break”.  I would like to continue on that journey by looking at how our travel companions bless us.  First, lets look at children.  Now keep in mind I have 5 children, four of which are teenagers.  I can tell you there have been times when I didn’t feel blessed as well as times that my heart felt like it was going to burst wide open because of how blessed I felt.  Let’s break it down:

HOW ARE CHILDREN BLESSINGS?

It seems clear that God declares all children to be blessings from Him to us.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:3-5 (NAS)

We can take this by faith, but it may be helpful to contemplate just how children bless us. Following are few of the ways children often are, or should be, blessings to their parents.

1. Enjoyment and entertainment. When they are small, they are so cute, so fun to play with, so gratifying to watch as they grow and learn. They can provide endless hours of enjoyment if we are willing to take the time.  As they grow and mature, we find entertainment in their personalities – in the “child-like” questions/statements that result in their trying to process their knowledge/experience.

2. Teaching us love, self-sacrifice, discipline, self-control, gentleness, and patience. God can use children so effectively to mature us and help us to develop godly character. God wants to share His attributes & character with us.  What better classroom does God have to teach these things than a home with children to be raised? We can and will appreciate Him as our “Father” (Parent) when we accept the challenge of seeing our children as a gift and blessing.  This is another opportunity for us to learn and demonstrate God’s character within us.

3. The blessing of the love and trust of a child. The love and trust of a small child is so precious and can have such an effect in softening and keeping our hearts softened. When after a long day or trying event, your teenage son or daughter gives you a hug and kiss on the cheek – nothing moves your heart like that.  Unconditional love – how cool is that?

4. Assistance with our work. Children properly taught can be a big help around the household as young as 6 or 7 years of age. And as they get older, their abilities multiply, making their help even more valuable. Older children can handle nearly all household tasks, can be a big help in caring for younger siblings and can help with animals, a garden, etc.  Teaching your children to work alongside you aids greatly in their instruction and discipleship. Children should have the opportunity to become contributing members of the household, both for their sakes and yours.

5. Assistance in later life. When we are old and less capable of doing for ourselves, our children (and grandchildren) can and should be a huge help in a great many ways (just as we should also be to our parents and grandparents). Sometimes just having a grown child who sometimes visits or calls or writes makes all the difference in the life of an elderly person. When one becomes old and feeble, ones children, grandchildren and great grand children may become the primary reason for continuing to live.

6. Enlarging our impact on this world. Even as God associated being fruitful with the ability to subdue and rule over the earth (Gen 1:28), so our children, grandchildren, and later descendents extend our reach far beyond what we in ourselves could accomplish. With each child we have the priceless opportunity to teach and train that child for about 20 years. And even afterwards we can continue to influence and instruct and assist our children in some things through the rest of our lives. Even one child well raised can have a mighty impact for God.

Children are a blessing from God period.  God intends children to be blessings but sometimes we parents may not receive the child as such and may raise the child in a way that prevents the child from being much of a blessing to them or anyone else. It is your choice whether to accept the child as the blessing God intended.

How do you choose to view your travel companion?

Reality Break

18 Jun

End of year exams…graduation…buying teachers gifts…picnics….the list went on and on.  The end of the school year “to do” list.  Your feet hit the floor running first thing in the morning and you drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.  There is so much to do and not enough time to do it.  Can you relate?

With four out of five of my children still in school, this was my reality and I NEEDED A BREAK!  A break from reality.  So the minute the school bell rang, I packed up my children, their “stuff” and we headed for our condo in Big Bear.  We are in the midst of a 6 day sabbatical and it is awesome.  We have laughed, played, relaxed, taken naps, gone on walks but with ABSOLUTELY no schedule.  We have refused to think about “what we are going to do next” and have lived in the moment.  The result?  Well, I’ve learned a few things that I would like to share with you:

1.  It doesn’t matter where you are.  STOP!  Take a moment and listen to your Creator speak to you.  God is always speaking and you can hear Him. You just need to learn to recognize His voice. He speaks in many different ways, including nature and natural events. When you look at the stars or a sunset or experience a storm, if you look, you can see the fingerprints of God.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4

Take a moment now.  Look around you and ask God to speak to you right where you are!

2.  It’s NOT where you are going.  It’s NOT how fast you get there.  It’s not what you are going to do once you get there.  The MOST IMPORTANT THING is who you go with!  In life you are going to travel down many paths.  You will begin and start many journey’s.  You will need to make several u-turns and take several detours.  Along the pathways of life, whats important is who is willing to travel with you.  Look around you.  Take inventory.  Who is willing to travel with you.  Who has committed to not bail even when they feel car sick?!?  That is your blessing!

TOMORROW, we will look at who your travelling companions are and how they are blessings to you!  Until then…