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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 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?


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!!

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…

Don’t accept it as a Fact…

30 May

For the last 15+ years I have looked exactly the same.  Yes, my hairstyle has evolved numerous times but I am talking about my body shape and weight.  I’ve looked like this for so long, that I just accepted it as “the way I am”  I did not try any type of dieting program or weight loss prevention type things.  I just determined in my mind, that this is the way I am, this “season of life”, so why fight it.  Can you relate?  Has something been in your life for so long that you have just accepted it as a fact, the way things are?  It may not be weight.  It could be a habit.  It could be a mindset.  It may be that thing in your past that you have dragged with you FOREVER!  So what can you do about it?  If you were like me, you just accepted it as true and didn’t look for another way.

That’s where I was.  I just accepted me like that.  Please don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me.  I am not seeking a platform to beat myself up.  I’m not giving you a platform for beating yourself up.  My challenge is this:  Don’t accept what is as fact.  It does not HAVE to be. Walk with me and I’ll explain further what I mean…

A friend of mine was also dissatisfied with her “look” as well.  She researched different programs and weight loss platforms and discovered something that worked for her.  Then, her being the GREAT friend that she is, didn’t say to me, “Why don’t you try it? You need to lose weight!” or anything like that.  Instead, she said, “If you want to try it to, I’ll help you.  I’ll share with you what I learned and I’ll encourage you when you experience challenges.”

You see, she offered to walk with me on this journey.

She didn’t just give me the answer and then walk away. She chose to walk alongside me – over both the rough terrain and smooth paths.

And let me tell you, my friend, there has been BOTH!!

The result?  I have lost over 30 lbs and am now wearing the same size clothes I wore 20 years ago.  Yep, I’m excited and I can tell you my husband is even MORE excited!

Now I don’t want you to miss the point of this story.  It is NOT about losing the weight.  It is NOT about the weight loss program that worked for me.  It IS about the fact that my friend chose to invest herself in me and my “acceptance” of a problem that was not good for me to continue to carry on my life’s journey.  My friend knew I was unhappy, even though I had never voiced it.  She knew that I had accepted it as a fact. She chose to offer me her friendship, her support and her personal challenges, in order for me to shore up the courage to take the first step.  She believed in me – in our friendship and in the results that two together can overcome much.

It comes down to choice.  What was I choosing to accept as a fact?  She chose to offer a hand in my journey.  I chose to accept.  The result is my previous reality is no longer my current reality. Things can change. Things can get better.  Who, in your life, can you reach out to today? Don’t accept their thoughts or feelings as a fact…  The fact is, you can make a difference today.  Get out there and be a friend to someone today.

The results will amaze you!

Become the Complete Package of Comfort and Beauty

26 May

As I stood in my kitchen drinking a cup of coffee this morning, I looked around my living areas and felt pleasure in what we had created. 

You see, we moved into this home in 2009. When we were packing to move here, I conducted a MAJOR house cleaning. I wanted a fresh start – a new look, if you would. Therefore, when we moved into our new home, I had given over half of our “stuff” away. The result? We had to move very little “stuff” into our new home. As a matter of fact, several rooms looked sparse in the beginning. However, over the years, as I have visited antique stores and various stores, I purchased new treasures.

As I looked over those treasures, I marveled over the completed look.  I felt amazed how we had created a total package of comfort and beauty. I stood there and reflected on how I had came by my “treasures”. I did not purchase them from the same place nor at the same time nor did I have a plan when I began. As I found things that “fit” the direction I wanted my home to go, I purchased them. Piece by piece, my home came together. Now, 3 years later, it is beautiful. It is comfortable. When friends and family visit, they enjoy our home as much as we do.  I find satisfaction in what we had created.

As good as my coffee was this morning, the thought that came next was even more delightful.  Our lives can be like this too!  We can take inventory of what we need to clean, or remove, from our lives. What habits, traditions, thoughts and/or feelings do we need to remove from our lives? What, once removed, would give us that fresh start – a new look?

Once we have identified those things that need to be removed, give it away.  Don’t put it somewhere where you can pull it back out later. GET RID OF IT and then DON’T TAKE IT BACK!  Then identify the direction you want your fresh start, your new look, to go.  Most importantly, acknowledge that it will take time.  While you are “building” it, don’t settle for junk or imitation “stuff”.  Wait for the things that match your vision exactly.

Over time you will be able to stand back and savor your “home” of comfort and beauty. Yes, it will be comfortable.  Yes, it will be beautiful. Best of all?  When others are around you, they will find enjoyment in your beauty and comfort too.

A fresh start.  A good cup of coffee.  To become a home of beauty and comfort.  What else could you want?

Don’t let anything stop you!  Experience 

Junk to One is Treasure to Another

15 Apr

I live in a small town that is known to antique hunters as “the place to go” to find really great deals.  Our Main Street is lined with numerous antique stores, an antique mall and multiple what-not stores.  My mother has a blast when she comes out to visit!  I have always enjoyed “finding” a deal.  Therefore, I recently rented a space in the local antique mall and have had a blast filling it to the brim with “treasures” for others to enjoy.  Each week I scour yard sales, thrift stores and the internet looking for deals.  I have been amazed time and time again how something that was rusted, very ready for the trash can be lovingly taken – restored – redeemed and be made beautiful again.  The other day I purchased a table for 25 cents.  The paint was chipped.  It was dirty, gross and just looked nasty. After taking some time with it, cleaning it up, working with the grain, sanding over the rough spots, I applied a fresh coat of sealer to it.  Look at the difference! Once the table was completed and made beautiful again, the table sold for $89!!  Can you believe it?  Being part of this transformation process made me truly appreciate how God shares with us that He too will make us beautiful.  Ecc 3:11 promises us, “He has made all things beautiful in His time.”  Yes! That means me.  Yes!  That means you too!  What in your life do you feel is rusty, ready for the trash, chipped and/or dirty.  My friend, you are promised to be made beautiful!  Give it to Him today.  He is faithful to sand over the rough spots, coat you in His spirit and make you worth much, much more than $89!

He loves you and so do I!!

Moving on a path – them BAM!!

14 Apr

Imagine yourself walking down a sidewalk.  The sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  The birds are singing.  It’s a beautiful day.  You see something on the sidewalk up in the distance.  It is slowly moving from one side to the other.  As you get closer, you notice a child walking towards you. Whatever is on the sidewalk, moving slowly, is between you and the child.  As you approach, you see that it is a large snail. Completely stretched out, moving gracefully, with his “shell house” moving right along with him.  All of a sudden the child that was walking toward you laughs out loud and kicks the snail as hard as he could into the grass!

Imagine yourself in the place of the snail… Life is grand.  After weeks and weeks of rain, the sun is finally out!  The sidewalk is warm and toasty.  It feels so good that you have stretched yourself out completely.  You’ve “put yourself out there”.  You are happy.  You are content.  You are moving towards a goal.  You are excited about the path before you.  Then all of a sudden, your happy day begins turning and rolling, over and over.  What was up, is now down.  What was right, is now left. Nothing is where it should be.  What happened?  You weren’t bothering anyone.  You were just doing your thing.  Content. Happy.

Life is sometimes like that.  You don’t see the thing that is getting ready to derail you from your content and happy path.  It may hurt.  Things may be upside down for a little bit.  So what do you do?  How do you respond?  Let the snail be our guide…  He knows the abilities that the creator has given him.  He has a way to protect himself.  He knows how to upright himself.  To reset his course and be true to the Creator who made him.

So when we are knocked off course, lets be like the snail.  Let’s be true to our Creator too.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  See?  We don’t have to fear.  We don’t have to be dismayed.  We just need to accept the help and strength that is being offered.  There is a right hand waiting to make things “right with us” (righteous).  Come on my friend, reach up.