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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?!?

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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?


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!!

Just go…

1 Apr

I was cleaning out my office today and found an entry from a study that I wrote years ago. I would like to share it with you:

The passage for this particular study was Matthew 26:17-25.  Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to prepare for the passover and they were instructed to see “a certain man”.  The question I posed was:  How were they to know which man?  Did they stop and ask Jesus what man, did they ask for more details or a better description? Did they wait to respond until they had all of the details?  No. They just went. They trusted that once they got there, it would become clear to them.  Has there been times in your life that you “just went with Christ?”

There will be many times when Jesus will ask us to just go with Him.  We may not be certain of the path or even the reasoning behind it but we can be assured of one thing:  God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.  How do I know?  Because time and time again, He’s proven Himself trustworthy.  Here’s an example:

Towards the end of my husbands seminary training, he was called by a church to be a youth pastor.  After being there only a short time, we discovered there were a group of people that wanted to take the church in a different direction that our convictions agreed with.  Yes, we were concerned but we prayed and left it to God.  Within two months the senior pastor, who shared our beliefs, announced that he was called to a different church and tendered his resignation.

So here is my husband, still in seminary, wet behind the ears, standing up for his beliefs within the church.  After a meeting with the leaders, they announced that Don would preach while they sought out their direction and new pastor.  What did we do?  We continued to pray.  We trusted God to handle the needs of the church and our future.  The second week that Don preached there was a pastor search committee from a neat little church that aligned with our beliefs in the audience, listening to their next pastor.

So we prayed and we trusted God to handle this situation.  What did He do?  He allowed my husband to partner with a church that shared his beliefs.  There are two things that I learned during that:

1.  Don’t compromise on God’s Word – He’ll protect you when you protect it!

2. When situations come up (and they will!) God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.

So, I shared with you yesterday that I had a rough week.  I shared that my ladies are walking with me.  Then today I find these words written many years ago.  The cool thing, the truth I found then is the same truth I need to realize today.  It is the same truth that you need to realize today too.

Until tomorrow, we will continue to walk in Grace.

Blessed be my friend!

We reached the Top but that’s not the end of the story!

26 Mar

We reached the top!  We gaze upon the cross.  It’s foundation is a huge boulder.  We take turns sitting at the base of it. There is a since of accomplishment.  Of all being right with us – the cross – the world.  We looked back at the path, the journey, that we had taken to get us to the cross and realized IT WAS SO WORTH IT!

How about you?  Have you journeyed to the cross?  Do you also realize how worth it your decision was?  Are you sitting at the foot of the cross this moment?  If not, where are you sitting?Where are you resting?

Do you notice how weather ridden the cross is?  It has survived many a storm.  In my life, in your life.  Even storms that have yet to come – the cross will endure.  We too can endure, if we continue to sit in the shelter of the cross.  Lean over, dear one, cling to it with all that you are. The cross will endure – so can you.

You would think that this would be the end of the story – the moral of the story was shared.  As cool as the truths were coming up, I found more profound truths going back down.

Evidentially we all feel like we have to leave the cross.  In our case, it was because our next class was scheduled to begin.  As we began our climb back down, I realized that it was harder to walk down the hill than it was to climb uphill.  I had to walk more cautiously.  My foot slipped much more often.  My head and shoulders were leaning backwards to keep me from tumbling forward and becoming hurt.  Gravity was working against us – pulling us away – downward.  Our bodies were resistant to go.

Then bam!  More truths unravel before my eyes!

My body did not want to leave the cross!  Although gravity pulled me downward, my tendency was to lean back – TOWARDS THE CROSS!  You see once we encounter the cross, we don’t ever want to be separated from it!  Time, after time, my foot slipped while walking away from the cross – numerous times I was close to falling.  My friend, when we walk away from the cross – that is the first slip, multiple ones follow until we fall.

We need to stay at the cross.  Rest there.  Find shelter there.  Nothing good will come of it when we chose to leave the way of the cross.

How do we return?  When those storms come, picture where you are sitting.  What are you doing?  Are you sitting at the cross – confident that the storm will pass, or are you being billowed around by the wind, rain and elements?  STOP!!  Take inventory of where you are – where you want to be – then CHOSE the way of the cross.  I promise, it is that easy.  We are the ones that make it harder than that.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Do you want easy and light?  I know I do!  I’m grabbing my fuzzy slippers…on your mark… get ready… REST!!!

Truths Learned While Going Up!

25 Mar

On a hill, in the distance, was a white cross. Deciding that I wanted to get a closer look, I started walking in it’s direction. I focused on the cross and sought for a path that would take me up to it.  I was walking from a southern direction and was coincidentally joined by 3 other ladies from a northern direction.  The four of us exchanged pleasantries. While looking for the path to the cross, we found a sign that cautioned us:  The climb to the cross would take approximate 10 minute – all uphill, with loose rocks and the possibility of rattler snakes!

Even though cautioned, we wanted to experience the cross and decided to continue on the journey together.  As we found the path, the first thing I noticed was that it was very narrow.  We had to walk single file. I called out to the ladies to stop while I took their picture. We continued on.  The next thing I noticed was the amount of loose rocks that caused your foot to slip every now and then. Next, were several larger rocks that you had to walk around in order to continue upward.  Then, we turned a corner and lost sight of the cross completely!

All of a sudden, truths exploded in my mind!

Remember how I shared that the path was narrow? It was too narrow for more than one person to walk up at a time.  At that moment, I realized that my walk to the cross is personal.  It’s between me and the cross.  Someone else can’t walk with me or for me.  It’s just between me and the cross.

I looked at the picture I took of the girls going up the mountain to the cross.  Each of us were at a different “levels” on the path.  One was high, one in the middle, another lower and I was completely at the bottom taking the picture. It didn’t matter where we were on the journey to the cross – what was important was that WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PATH to the cross.  It was okay that someone else was higher than me.  It was okay that I was just beginning the climb.  The cool thing is that we were on this journey together!

As we walked upward, my foot would slip on those loose rocks.  That reminded me of the many, many times my spiritual foot has slipped while walking the way of the cross.  We also faced those larger obstacles that we had to walk around.  I’m sure you can relate to times when obstacles have been blocked your way to the cross – to becoming the person you want to be.  Then, as we are heading in the right direction, confident on our journey, we turn a corner and lose sight of the cross completely!  Does that ever happen to you?  Have you turned a corner in your life and lost sight of the cross?

Never fear, my friend, it is still there.   Look up – its just ahead in the distance.  Don’t look back.  Don’t turn around.  Just keep climbing.

Tomorrow, we reach the top and sit at the foot of the cross.  Care to join me?