Friday, July 21, 2017

What WAZE You Down? Are You "Direction" Challenged?

For some time my son, Larry, was encouraging me to use the "free" Waze app on my phone. He told me that it was a much better option than any other GPS system or app. I tried using it but still didn't trust it when it would take me off the beaten path to get to my destination. But, in my many travels over the last 10 months, I've become more familiar with it and have found that it is quite trustworthy. Still there's that notion that I don't completely trust him (I have an Englishmen's voice instead of the female voice on my Waze app. What can I say -- I still enjoy hearing a man's voice direct me!") But yesterday morning I headed out for an appointment to an unfamiliar location so I asked Mr. Waze for directions. He gave me exactly opposite of where I needed to go. He wasn't making sense, so I did it my way. Sure enough, my way led to a completely closed road which detoured me back the way Mr. Waze wanted me to go. He knew what was best for me.

Maybe this is somewhat of a promo for Waze because I want my friends to get to their destination with less stress and anxiety. Waze helps do that. This isn't a scheme to get you to buy something, but it is a suggestion to download this app that seems to know everything about the roads and places around us. Here's the way Waze works. People, like you and me, work together toward a common goal to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best and fastest route to where they need to go. It tells us about traffic and it gives us a heads-up about police, accidents, road hazards and traffic jams -- which Waze knows because other drivers are providing the real time information. You can even navigate it to the best priced gas station on your route because the Waze community shares best gas prices. I love that --"people helping people"!

As I navigated my way back around to get get to my appointment, I scolded myself for thinking, once again, "MY way is better". I thought "If only I'd followed his directions, I wouldn't be late for my appointment!" The most sophisticated directional technology in the world is not much help if we won't follow its directions.

And it's the same with listening and following the directions of He Who knows everything about everything and is ALWAYS accurate in His course directions. When we follow God's instructions, and not waver off the path He's laid out for us, or think "my way is better"...then, there will be no anxiety or concern about getting lost -- He'll make sure we'll get to where we need to go, and arrive when we need to get there!!

Once again this scripture that I often post still applies and it merits repeating today. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your OWN understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Be Care Little Mind What You Think

Yesterday I blogged about what we see and hear, but to make the subject complete, our little minds could use a filter so the negativity can't enter!

Remember the story of Chicken Little? Chicken little was having a great day -- walking in the woods, looking at the trees, smelling the flowers and listening to the birds singing. Then an acorn fell from a tree, and hit the top of her little head. "My, oh, my, the sky is falling! I must run and tell the lion about it," - says Chicken Little and begins to run. And, so the story goes,,,,

Proverbs 4:23 says "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." Isn't that so true? From just an acorn, Chicken Little thought the world was coming to an end. And, we, too, can be having an absolutely fabulous day, but then we can think ourselves into nausea from a little something that was planted in our head about a friend who spoke adversely about us or the new pain we just felt, or the employer who doesn't seem to notice the positive things we are doing for our company.

We can even read the paper or watch the evening news and get worked up because of the negative report on the heat wave coming through or the outbreak of mosquitoes or that utility rates are going to go up. Or that yet another food product has potential life-threatening ingredients.

At this point, we need to make a choice. "Am I going to keep a list of these negative thoughts?" We can. Or we can do something else. We can catch those thoughts. We can recognize the enemy who is placing those thoughts in our heads. We can turn those thoughts inside out because God has given us the ability to cancel out those thoughts and turn them into thoughts like "I am strong. I'm accepted. I have an assignment to fulfill. I am able. Whatever God has called me to do, I will get it done. God is for me and who can be against me? No one! I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that means I am beautiful. God holds my todays and tomorrows, so why should I worry or fret?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There’s Just Nothing Like a Good Hallmark Movie

Okay! I love seeing one of the latest action movies at the theater with my kids, but, for the most part give me a good Hallmark-type movie any day! .

When I’m in Austin, and when I’m not doing laundry or another household chore, I’ll sit down with my grandsons and watch TV with them. It’s usually something from one of the Disney or Nicklelodeon channels. But when they are off doing something else, from time to time, I'll watch one of the Hallmark movies that I’ve recorded. Sometimes the boys will watch them along with me. Hallmark movies are romance, family or comedy and the endings are always good and predictable – and they’re all G-rated. Sometimes they get a little “mushy” which makes the boys “ugh and yuk”, but it’s never in questionable taste.
I left Austin on Monday to return home to Frisco and I got this text message from Shawntel: “I just cracked up! I am bringing Bryson back home from math and he says to me “I have been watching too many Hallmark movies! But I really like them!” LOL!

I’m in this season of life when I don’t want to watch negative news reports, shows that use poor language or have any questionable scenes. That’s why I like a Hallmark movie now and then, as well as reality competition shows. At this mature age, I do my best to pass along some insights that I've learned from my own mistakes along the way. This scripture from Philippians 4:8 speaks volumes to those of us who care about what we see and hear, and what we put into our minds and hearts: "Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there be any praise, THINK on THESE THINGS!!!"

I know that I must sound like a “goody two shoes”. I looked up what that means. The definition of a goody two shoes is a person who always does everything right and always follows the rules, so much so that it becomes annoying. Well I’d like to think that I always do everything right and follow all the rules, but that is so not the case. I sure do make an effort to get better at my choices today than I did in the past. I know that I've found the sweetest, purest thoughts and attitudes are what bring me the most peace. I remember when our kids were "PG" ages and we took them to see "Jaws". Ugh! We love the ocean, so why in the world would we take our family to see a movie about sharks that would create fear and concern when we went to the ocean? We lived and learned.
There are people in my world that have the tendency to speak negatively and even use profanity in their conversations. I don't want to be rude, so I tolerate it when I can. But, when I have a choice, I choose to walk away. I was pleased to hear my son say they took the boys to see a movie recently and had to walk out because of so much profanity. I thought, “Way to lead those boys by example!”

I sincerely pray that God keeps my heart so pliable that situations, movies, and conversations that don’t measure up to God’s “whatever things are lovely and a good report”, that I’ll walk out or walk away. My measuring stick is God's this "Whatever things are lovely" scripture.....pretty well states my case.....and my position on living in a sweet place of peace that passes understanding!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tenacious, Undaunting, Fearless, Unstoppable

Those are words we heard that described competitors, as we watched the reality show, NBC's Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge.

Night before last Ryan & Shawntel made it back home after a few days out of town. After dinner we sat down to catch up on the show. Okay, I'm an avid fan of American Ninja Warrior and this "Spartan" show. The resilience and sheer determination of the competitors has always inspired and motivated me. But, now, even more so, as one of Shawntel's "Bible Study" friends, and her husband, Brandon & Allison Brickley, are in the competition with their team, "Heart of Texas" from Austin.

"Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge" raises the bar on team competitions. It's always a group of friends, families, or co-workers who must work together as they race across specially designed Spartan courses engineered to test their endurance, determination and will. Teams of five compete on one of the most demanding courses ever devised and they have to push through the pain to win $250,000. No team can get through the course and reach the finish line without working together. From rope-burning climbs to crawls through cold, wet mud, the competition culminates with some of the most backbreaking obstacles ever built. It's an adrenaline rush just watching it, but having friends in it, makes it even more exciting.

Yes, we were cheering on the "Heart of Texas" team, not only because of the friendship they have with my kids, but because of the story of the friend's husband. Brandon Brinkley was 17 years old when his home caught on fire and his entire family, except for him, perished. His story is that of rising out of tragedy to a story of grace and gratitude. Brandon's aunt adopted him and raised him with her son, Joey, who is also on the Heart of Texas team. So far, their team has won in their heats round one and two and now they've advanced to the semi final rounds. It will be interesting to see how they do, because Joey dislocated his shoulder during the 2nd round.

There are so many competitor stories of how individuals put aside pain to push through to victory -- for example the former Marine who lost his leg during combat and wears a prosthetic or the one who competed with only one arm. Last night, as I watched those soldiers, I commented "What's our excuse?"

Those words went deep into my spirit as even at this "mature" age, I don't want to have excuses for not giving everything I've got to this life I've been given. I want my story to end with "She was unstoppable!" No, I'm not planning on trying out for some ninja obstacles or apparatuses, but I do plan to continue to be God's Ninja Warrior -- taking on life's obstacles, challenges and pressures with a vengeance. I refuse to give up until I'm taken up. There's a hyphen in between the date of birth and the date of death on gravestones. What does that hyphen represent in our lives? I sure want mine to be "lived life to the fullest, didn't accept quitting, ran her race with gusto, pressed on to the finish line". What does your hyphen represent? What's YOUR excuse?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Breathe in Jesus and Peace. Breathe Out Stress.

My assignment? Simply pick-up 13-year old Brennan at the airport. He would be arriving from Seattle where he’d been at summer camp for the last week. I needed to ensure I was on time because, traveling as an unaccompanied minor meant I had to get my pass to go through security to get to his gate. “No problem. I’ve got this”, I thought. I left in plenty of time to make the 30 minute drive to the airport, but then it started pouring down rain on the way, so I had to slow down. Breathe, Donna, breathe. (Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body because when we breathe deeply, it sends a message to our brains to calm down and relax. I like to think that I’m inhaling Jesus and His peace; and exhaling all that stress!)

When I arrived at the airport, I missed the parking garage entry and had to drive around and navigate past passenger pick-up to find that parking entry again. Once inside the crowded garage, I had to drive and drive to find a parking place, and then it was navigating my way back to, and through the terminal to get to the ticket counter. I looked at the monitors and Brennan’s flight was arriving 20 minutes early. Breathe, Donna, breathe!

At the ticket counter, my name wasn’t in the “unaccompanied minor” system, even though I had a Consent Form in hand, and the rep was saying they couldn’t let me through security. More delays. Thankfully, Shawntel answered when I called her and approved my “package” pick-up. Then, it was a long security check-through line before making it to the gate, which by the way, was Gate 25…at the end of the concourse! My heart was pounding. Breathe, Donna, breathe.

Fortunately, unaccompanied minors are the last ones to get off the plane. I was beaming when “the champ” came out with the airlines’ employee. Whew! I made it, but did I need to be so stressed out? Probably not – I could have left 30 minutes earlier and much of the stress would have been avoided.

Made it home and I knew his huge suitcase would be full of dirty clothes so I unloaded it and commenced to wash the first load and then into the dryer. Taking the clothes out of the dryer, I saw something dark all over his clothes, and then found the culprit. He had left a chocolate candy in a pocket and now that candy was all over his clothes. Breathe, Donna, breathe.

It was a simple “Spray and Wash” and do over, but still – the extra hassle was because I didn’t check “a typical boy’s pockets” – that had been to summer camp.

It’s kind of like life, isn’t it? Some challenges and problems are easily remedied by calculated thinking and purposeful elimination of unnecessary stress. Some problems can be fixed easily – a broken fingernail, consent forms “entered into the system”, the kid’s spilled drink on the floor, chocolate in the wash. Those problems cause inconvenience and frustration, sure, but they can usually be resolved with a bit of time (and maybe some creative problem solving).

Many times, however, our challenges are bigger than rushing through an airport or washing chocolate out of summer camp clothes. Perfect planning can’t stop some storms -- the ones that look like broken relationships and broken hearts, financial upheavals, or being in pain or loved ones passing.

Maybe that’s someone who is reading my post today. Maybe you are overwhelmed by a tumultuous storm and people in your life just don’t have the goods to make you feel better. Breathe, sweet friends, breathe. Inhale Jesus and His peace. Exhale the fears and worries and concerns. The good news is there’s always hope and peace found in the midst of our storms because of He who is the peace-maker, the storms eradicator and the comfort provider.

There’s an old song that goes “Mama said there’d be days like this”, and Jesus agreed with Mama when He said in John 16:33 “In the world, you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He knew we’d face hard times, storms that dump buckets of troubles on us. But He also knew He’d be right here beside us to help us survive the winds and waves! So, breathe, sweet friends, breathe!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is Your Superhero a Leader Worth Following?

The first night back here in Austin, Bryson wanted me to take him to see the new “Spider-Man: Homecoming” Movie. He had already seen it once – once wasn’t enough (in this photo, you can see he’s loved Spider-Man for years). He wanted to see it again, so that was our Thursday “date night” fun. Of course Spider-Man had his webs and incredible acrobatic abilities. But the reality check is that Spider-Man is just a 15-year old kid who lacks grace – is clumsy and even stumbles around when he first puts on his suit. He eventually gets the suit on and once he does, he’s got the powers that go along with it, but those powers, if not used with the right attitude, motivation and precision, can certainly cause plans to go awry.

Not to be a movie spoiler, but one of my favorite scenes was just after the young Peter Parker (Spider Man) who has the utmost desire to be a part of The Avengers squad and passionately wanted to prove himself, but had some major foiled heroic feats. It was then that Tony Stark (Iron Man of The Avengers team) asked for Peter’s Spider Man suit back. Here’s the script from that scene:

Peter (Spiderman): “I was just trying to be like you.” |
Tony Stark (Iron Man): “I wanted you to be better. I'm going to need the suit back.”
Peter: “But I'm nothing without this suit.”
Tony: “If you're nothing without this suit, then you shouldn't have it.”

That resonated with me. I started thinking about what we think makes us a great leader: position, acclaim, the way we dress and look, notoriety, ego, status, financial means, etc. We think that we, too, are nothing without all of those identifiers. But all of that isn’t leadership. We’ve seen some of the greatest world leaders, religious and political leaders, Hollywood actors and musicians – fall because of all those reasons and because they didn’t have the marks to sustain credible leadership qualities.

A leader worth following is one that is trustworthy, honest, kind, considerate, loving, speaks optimism and gratitude. He/She is a role model that we’d sure like to be like. They carry a “presence” about themselves that speaks confidence in their own abilities, yet are encouraging and are quick to build others up. They seem to see the good in just about everything, and we never hear them complaining or criticizing others. Their heart is what we see first – NOT, their ego.

I’d like to say that I know a lot of people who are just like that, but honestly, as long as we are on this side of heaven, I don’t think, realistically, we’ll find anyone who fits that bill entirely – not even Iron Man, Spider-Man OR Superman or anyone else who is earth-bound!

When we put on our “Jesus Christ Suit” (sounds like I’m comparing him to Spider Man – I’m not! -- “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:14), THEN, and only then, do we have the ability to be super-heroes to our friends, family and peers.

When we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ AND put on our whole armor of God (See Ephesians 6:10-18), we can operate with a kingdom set of rules that have the power, when used correctly, to transform our ordinary life into an extraordinary one. That means way more than being one of Marvel’s super-heroes, it means being an everyday hero who aligns himself and herself under the leadership and authority of Jesus Christ to positively influence and impact everything and everyone within our sphere of influence. Come on. Let’s go dress up for our kingdom assignments and be a super hero to someone today!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

This Season May Be About "Ministry"

Following God's lead, looks like this for me for a few days (see photos). I’m here in Austin on a “ministry” call to see after my youngest grandson for a couple of days before his big brother gets home from camp up in Seattle, and then we’ll have Nana/Bryson/Brennan fun for a couple of days before their Mom and Dad get back home.

I don’t call it a “duty” call, because a “duty” call sounds like an obligation. A “ministry” call is an honor and an important mission to serve. I know that “ministry” typically has a vocational meaning (pastors, ministers, missionaries, priests, etc.). But out of all of our devotion to Christ and our love for others, He asked us to serve alongside Him. “Ministry" comes from the Greek word diakoneo, which means "to serve”. Jesus provided the pattern for Christian ministry—He came, not to receive service, but to give it. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

We know, intuitively, that we are to love and serve. That’s what Mark 10:45 is all about. Jesus did not merely come as another prophet or teacher or philosopher. He came to do two things. One: to give His life as a ransom for many. And He came, secondly, to serve His disciples so that His disciples will serve others.

As a young Mom and wife, my early-on “ministry” was to tend to my family's needs, raising them up in a Godly and loving home. My family was my first “ministry”. “Ministry” was my mission for many years as I was the caregiver for my precious mother. She lived with us for many years, and after that, she lived in a Senior Apartment Complex where I visited and/or called her daily, took care of her in sickness and in health, and helped her make life decisions. “Ministry” was my mission when my precious husband became seriously ill and I was his 24/7 nurse and caregiver. I never assumed those roles as obligations or duties – it was a season of “following God’s lead” and responding with “Here am I. Send me. Use me.”

This present season has afforded me the rich rewards of serving and praying for my family -- supporting them and when asked, give my advice and wisdom. It’s also a season of loving and supporting my friends and others who need an encouraging word and even practical servitude. I find that Facebook is another area of “ministry” to be on the daily assignment of giving fresh words from God’s heart to mine, to yours. I don’t take my assignments or opportunities to serve, lightly. And, I don’t do what I do in my own strength because as I said yesterday and re-emphasize today….I’m following my LEADER. He leads. I follow. He serves. I serve. How about you?

Friday, July 14, 2017

LORD, Let Me Let YOU Lead Me!

I was having a sweet time of morning devotion when I looked at this mug that sits on my dining room table. I purchased this mug a while ago as a reminder WHO is supposed to be leading in this "romance" and journey of faith between God and I. This day, I got the message, loud and clear!

By nature, I gravitate toward being a leader and really have to pull my reins in to be a follower -- especially since I'm "single" now and must make many decisions on my own. But, even as a trustworthy leader, I should still be submitting to THE LEADER who promises to make my way successful when I allow Him to lead in EVERY way. How many times have I started out on a project or plan -- on my own -- and realized I was expecting God to make my way successful on the decisions I was making. I often take in this scripture verse regularly (like a prescription) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart (that's putting Him first) and lean not to your own understanding (that's putting me second), in all your ways acknowledge Him (that's putting Him first again) and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6 That scripture sets the record straight. In this relationship, He is the leader and I am the followers.

I get it. Our ultimate success comes from letting God lead us.

The truth is -- God IS here for us, so we don't have to go this journey alone -- trying to figure out what to do and when to do it. He's here to lead the way -- to fight the battles for us -- and to give us His grace for the journey

"I will never leave you or forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be My disciple, must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me." Mark 8:3

Thursday, July 13, 2017

This Frisco/Dallas Traffic is MY Traffic -- Mine Versus Mind

Have you ever seen a baby that’s just beginning to talk, and one of the first words he speaks, especially if he has an older sibling, is “Mine”! The sibling or little friend may be trying to play with one of his toys, when the baby grabs it back and says “Mine!” Undoubtedly, the parent’s watchful eye will navigate the situation and endeavor to teach the little one to change his mind, “Yes, they’re your toys, but they are for you to share with your brother (sister or friend)!”

A couple of days ago I took Denise, Staci’s family’s valuable assistant/caregiver/BFF, to the airport for a trip home to see her family in Indiana for a few days. It was an early morning flight so the Dallas/Ft Worth traffic was less than other times going to the airport. But, on my return home, the traffic increased substantially. And I was starting my usual consternation about “all this traffic”.

Then I remembered a conversation my son told me that he had with Pastor Ryan Malouff when Ryan and Shawntel were contemplating a move to Austin. They were driving together and the traffic was heavy. Ryan W. asked Pastor Ryan “How in the world can you live here and deal with this Austin traffic?” Pastor Ryan’s response was “Because this is MY traffic and this is MY city that God has called me to, and this is MY opportunity to impact MY traffic and My city!”

That was a heaven-to-earth moment for me, because I could sense God “schooling me” about some poor attitudes I’ve had. Since I’ve moved to Frisco, people have asked me “How do you like Frisco?” And my common first response was “Well, it’s a big city with a lot of traffic -- after all Frisco is the 4th fastest growing city in the U.S., and I had a collision, and I’m still trying to find my rhythm.”

I had a personal epiphany and said to myself, “Donna, (I often speak to myself that way – please don’t judge me – LOL!), are you kidding me that you would lead any conversation with a negative? This is YOUR city now and this is YOUR traffic.” The lightning fast MIND of MINE suddenly thought “Rather than complaining and thinking negatively about this traffic, OWN the traffic and the people inside those vehicles and do what God has called you to – to be a difference maker and pray for those people to become followers of Christ; pray for their financial needs to be met, for their bodies to be healed and for their relationships to be restored.” So, I began to pray. My thoughts then turned to “assignment”. God told His disciples, and to us, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel message”. (Mark 16:15) Why wouldn’t I being speaking “good news” over all this traffic? God gave me an assignment to pray instead of being prey to the enemy’s tactics to bring me anxiety and stress.

Every single day is a learning experience for me. I get it. I know God is still working on me to be the best version of me so that He can use whatever I am and have for Him.

Maybe today there are negative situations that bug you. Maybe it’s the barking dog next door, or the grumpy boss, or the annoying co-worker, or the kids riding their bicycles across your grass, or the traffic you have to deal with on a daily basis. Why don’t we turn it all around and look for the opportunity to speak into those situations “good news” with good prayers? And in that case, “ALL THINGS (including morning and afternoon traffic), will be used by God for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28) Even traffic can be something that can be used by God to bless His children!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Mama

July 12th, 2011 -- The Carpenters (one of my favorite 60s duo) sang…”On the day that you were born the angels got together, and decided to create a dream come true. So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue” (Song was “Close to You”). And today, I feel close to my angel Mama, Edna Pearl (Halbert) Wheat.

I treasure photos like this, because it reminds me of where the best of me came from. If you read my posts, you know how I make a big deal about memories and my desire to keep those who made the biggest difference in my life….alive. If ever there was an angel on earth, it was my mom. She was my mentor, role model and everything a mother should be. She selflessly gave -- "Just give me the fried chicken neck -- that's good enough for me." She always forgave -- "It's okay. God forgives me all the time. I sure can forgive you." She unconditionally loved. Her integrity and honesty were of the utmost importance to her. I'll never forget the day as a tiny tot that I saw a package of gum on the floor in the grocery store and put it in my pocket. I reasoned that "if it's on the floor, it's okay to have it". When she found it in my pocket, she took me back to the store and I had to admit my wrong-doing.
That incident and lesson stuck with me like glue. She gave me boundaries that worked -- "Let your conscience be your guide." And those words always rang in my ears when I was choosing right or wrong. She rarely missed a church service -- Wednesday night, Friday prayer meeting, women's meetings, Sunday School AND church -- twice each Sunday. That’s why, to this day, I love attending church and the sweet fellowship I find there. She sacrificed her own personal needs for my needs. She showed me undaunted faith and determination in the toughest of times when my daddy was so sick and when our finances were so meager. I heard her praying for me and my siblings from her bedroom. She was unquestionably the most tender, kind-hearted, loving, gentle, caring and pure woman I have ever known. She was and is my hero. Her example made me a better me.

The photos I’ve included in this post include Staci’s wedding and that “pretty as a picture Mom in the middle of us”, and that’s who she was in life. Right in the middle of praying for us, and praying for Staci’s soul mate to come into her life – he did! The photo of her standing up at church – is her giving praise to God – she just had to stand up and tell it. That’s how she rolled! The photo of her sitting with my siblings, is at her 90th birthday celebration. I’m the only one, in the group, still here to keep the memory alive!
Mom only saw my two oldest grandsons, Braden and Brennan, in the photo with their dad. That’s another reason to keep the memory alive for the four grandchildren that came after she went to heaven.
The photo of Mom and Shawntel is when they came to see her on November 27, 2003 to tell her “We have a baby coming!” (That baby was Brennan – our 13 year old.)
Of course I had to include my sweet mama on our wedding day. She sacrificed so much to give us such a beautiful wedding. BTW – that’s my sister’s wedding dress that I was wearing -- that saved a lot on the wedding finances!

The reason why I'm emphasizing her today, as my greatest role model, is for you and me to realize -- it's not the things or treasures or inheritance or life insurance or jewelry -- the tangible things that make us. What makes us, and the legacy we leave to our children, are the things that money could never buy. Her influence on me caused me to be honest, to love and care passionately, to put my faith in God during the best and worst of times, to give and to suck it up when I've been hurt or offended, to trust in God's plans for my life and to leave my family with something so much more than the things that can be bought. I intend to leave them the very best of me......and the very best of me is my precious mother's example.

What are those things that you'll leave to your children and grandchildren? "Her children rise up, and call her blessed...." Proverbs 31:28

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Worry FREE - Guarantee!

"Don't Worry???" You may be saying "That's easy for you to say -- you're not facing what I'm facing today." Perhaps not the exact challenge or situation, but I've known troubles and I've had reasons to worry. And, out of those times, I survived -- so much so, that I sincerely desire to "help comfort others with the same comfort that I was comforted with". (2 Corinthians 1:4). A young mother messaged me when she was facing some tremendous challenges. Her mind was bombarded with the worst thoughts. Her imagination was getting the best of her. She was expressing so much worry, fear and concern. I replied with these words, and in case you are in a place of fear and worry, I share them with you, too!

"Sweet Friend, I want to put my arms around you and help you through this time, and the best way I can do that is to give you a "Worry-FREE Guarantee". I am completely convinced that "If God said it, I believe it and that settles it -- no ifs, ands, or buts. It's a done deal!" That has been our anchor and our mode of operation for many years. Plain and simple......God's Word (the Bible) is the key to overcoming fear, sickness, discouragement, etc. There's an answer for everything in God's Word. In Joshua 1:8, God gave a "key" to success when He told Joshua: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then YOU will make your way prosperous, and then YOU will have good success." Wow! There's the key -- we always think that it's up to God to take care of this and do that. But, very clearly, God is saying that if WE do OUR part (not letting His Word depart out of our hearts -- thinking/meditating on His Word) that WE WILL BE successful. Here's some of those "God words to take to heart:
~ Proverbs 23:7 "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he......" Obviously, this means you want to do your best to stop thinking the negative thoughts. How do you get a handle on your thoughts? A shortcut to this is to THINK the things that you feel good about, and avoid thinking about what you don't feel good about."
~ Philippians 8:4 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of a good report, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."
~ Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

It is a matter of absolutely disciplining ourselves to put a halt to negative thinking. It's like changing the channel on the TV. A negative thought comes in....quickly change the channel to the positive thought. Let this prayer be your prayer:

Father, I commit to live free from worry. I cast the whole of my cares -- all my anxieties, all my worries, all my concerns -- once and for all on You. You care for my family and me affectionately. You sustain me. I cast down imaginations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of You. I lay aside every worry. I think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and deserving of praise. I will not let my heart be troubled. I abide in Your Word, and Your Word abides in me. Thank You, Father, for helping me to be care-free. I walk in that peace that passes all understanding, in Jesus' name! Amen."

Perhaps you, my dear FB friends, needed this "word" today. I urge you to take this "word" like medicine.....DAILY. Put it in your heart and mind. You will come through with flying colors......just like the gal that I wrote this original letter to. VICTORY was and is hers, Victory is yours, too!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Doing Our Part for Our Generation.....And the Next

People need Godly role models in their lives -- pacesetters who set the pace for others to follow. That's the way Jesus set the example for His disciples -- so that they would carry on His example to others. Think about how He encouraged, motivated, and stirred up the gifts of those around Him. He took a Motley Crew of disciples and turned them into on-fire and bold speakers, teachers, preachers and writers, with caring, compassionate and loving hearts for humanity.

We can take Jesus' example in helping to raise up the next generation to be the best they can be. When we sow into our kids and grandkids, as well as other young people, as we help cultivate their talents and abilities, taking the time to listen and encourage them, as well as help steer them to be laser focused on getting to know God and His plans and purposes for them, they will not only impact their generation, but the generations to come.

I loved spending time, yesterday with one of my favorite families, the Moore's. I heard about some of their dreams, desires, and already, so many accomplishments. I felt like a proud grandparent when Matt Moore, their 14 year old son, brought his Scout badges to show me (probably over a hunded). He is just one step away from becoming an Eagle Scout at his young age. Next week he leaves for the National Scouts Jamboree, in West Virginia (first time without Dad or Mom) and his excitement was contagious. He gave me a speech, worthy of a speech competition about his "scouting" dreams which included his Dad and him going to Philmont Scout Ranch – the premier High Adventure base. I love his passion to excel. Then there’s Kassidy Moore who is a college student and so very multi-talented in music arts, that doors are opening left and right for her talents. To say I’m proud of this precious family, puts it mildly. They are impacting their generation with the right stuff -- stuff that matters to the world around them.

Then there’s my precious godson and his family who continue to impress me with their academic excellence, winning so many awards, Owen’s drive and determination to be anything he desires to be (he’s the one who had a slow start, being so ill in the beginning of his life, but now, nothing seems to hold him back), but most of all what impresses me about this family is their commitment to the family of God. Yesterday, was my love fest that I take in with such joy when I come to Tulsa, and then it was them showing me their decorating artistry for their “Mighty Fortress – In Jesus the Victory Is Won" Vacation Bible School that starts today. How’s that for empowering our kids during summer break, for the next school year when they’ll come into plenty of opportunities to need to call on their Mighty Fortress? VBS holds a special place in my heart because it was there that I truly fell in love with Jesus and invited Him into my heart.

This scripture became evident to me after I had connected with those two precious families: Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Let these words that I’m commanding you today be always on your heart. Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up. Tie them as reminders on your forearm, bind them on your forehead, and write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates."

I am always thrilled when I see the divine osmosis that takes place when our children have "aha" moments in their own walk with the Lord. It's so worth it to teach them and fortify them with character building through incredible programs of excellence (like Boy Scouts) AND in raising them up to love the Lord because of the Christian education we ensure they get (like VBS). It's a work-out, no doubt, but the rewards we reap, in the light of eternity, in focused training and disciple role modeling carries on from generation to generation. "We will tell the next generation about the Lord’s power and great deeds and the miraculous things he has done.” (Psalm 78:4)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What a Day This Has Been!

"What a day this has been. What a rare mood I'm in -- why it's almost like being in love. There's a smile on my face, for the whole human race -- why it's almost like being in love!" Old song that I was singing at the end of yesterday!

That's because I sat out to live out loud with others, yesterday, on our 51st Wedding Anniversary, instead of having any woe-is-me moments. Too much "living and loving" opportunities! I knew God would have me on assignment this weekend. Friday afternoon I drove to Tulsa, gave hugs to my precious mother-in-law and headed out for a night with the girls -- my dear single women friends in Hyde Park, where I lived here in Tulsa. What a great time we had catching up! I loved hearing that most of these gals have found their "home" church with a pastor they respect and love, attend regularly and are continually inviting others to join them. They've become missionaries! That makes me smile so big.

Yesterday morning, Mom declared "I woke in up in the middle of the night because my toe was hurting so much. I sat on the side of the bed and looked at the clock. It said 3:16 -- John 3:16 -- I said 'Thank you, Lord, for giving me your one and only Son. By His stripes, I am healed!" I love it. She knew God was loving on her at 3:16 am! What a blessing it is to have these sweet times of "heavenly" love together! Mom continues to be such an inspiration to me and everyone else!

I headed out to meet with my two "walking" buddies from when I lived here. We walked and prayed back then, and yesterday, I rejoiced at so many answers to those prayers. In particular, my friend whose daughter recently gave birth to twins -- a double miracle and answer to our prayers.

My next assignment was to go visit my precious friend and mentor, Sister Marie Pierre at St. Joseph Monastery. She hadn't been feeling well (she's 88 now), and I think my little visit and our time talking about God's goodness perked her up. I was thrilled to help her with a project she's working on, and love on her -- and her making me so loved. She loved my husband so much, so it was perfect to visit her on our anniversary.

As I left Sister Pierre, I saw an Estate Sale sign, and I stopped to check it out, and I'm so glad I did because, here on my anniversary day -- when my sweetheart always gave me yellow roses, along with planting a yellow rose bush at every home we've lived in, as well as yellow roses being our wedding flowers -- was this porcelain yellow rose that called out my name. I knew God nudged me to stop to be romanced by Him and my Sweetheart. Of course I bought it. I knew it was heaven-sent!

After taking Mom a meal from Cracker Barrel, the finale of my day was Sheila Michie's, my dear friend's birthday celebration. What joy it was to be a part of this night of blessings -- in particular, seeing my sweet friend with her adorable grandson, who is full of energy and joy, lots of singing and laughter, as well as meeting the priest that my Hyde Park girl friends say "is the best" -- small world -- that he would be a friend to my friends and show up for this night of celebration!

I'm here to tell you -- we have choices to make everyday. The choice to be an introvert and stay within our walls and give ourselves pity parties for what we don't have, or we can go from person to person, home to home, street to street, and city to city -- to spread good news -- that Christ came to give us. Eternity awaits us....but why go there until it calls our name. Why not LIVE STRONG, in the Land of the Living as long as God gives us breath on this side of eternity?
"Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD's favor in the land of the living?" Psalm 27:13

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Happy Anniversary #51

A few days ago, I was with a group of ladies, and in casual conversation, I asked the gal beside me how long she’d been married. She said “44 long years – some days I think ‘That’s enough, already!’” Then she laughed and I knew she was just kidding, but that didn’t stop me from saying “Oh, my dear, I was married 44 years and that’s all I had with my sweetheart – it wasn’t enough!”

A dear Canadian friend of mine was celebrating her 51st anniversary with her husband and she was expressing the joys she had of being married to her wonderful husband. I commented on her post “This would've been our 51st anniversary on July 8th. Keep celebrating those as long as you can. Much love and blessings to you.”

And, to all you sweet married women today, I say “Cherish, embrace, celebrate, and romance the relationship you have with your husbands – and to the men, with your wives.” This life is so short and making every minute count with those we love on this side of heaven is so precious. And it will carry us through to eternity – on that side of heaven!

Of course I’m thinking those thoughts today because 51 years ago today, July 8, 1966 -- I married the love of my life, I was 17; he was 18 -- and that was after a LONG 5 years courtship -- since 12 & 13! And, if I had it to do over again, I’d do it ALL OVER AGAIN! Though many said “It will never last – you’re too young – don't get tied down yet -- you have so much life to live -- you’ll miss out on so much fun", I thought it then and I think it now – “You’re too late with your words of gloom and despair, because this ship has already left dock!” LOL! NEVER did I think "tied down" -- we lived life to its fullest, and had SO MUCH FUN! Yes, we WERE young and immature. We made a LOT of mistakes – but we did so much that was right!! We had a blast living life, and a blast "overcoming" life, and its many surprises and challenges.

When my sweetheart graduated to heaven in 2010 -- I realized how blessed I was to have had him in my life for so many years. This precious man was my cheerleader, coach, counselor, confidante, caring and compassionate friend, and romantic lover. Most importantly, he brought out the best in me – literally, as I was a shy introvert, with so many insecurities, lacking in confidence, yet he saw so much more in me. He urged, coerced, and pushed me to be the best I could be. Because of him, I became a Mom to two truly great children, grandmother to six grandchildren (plus one, my sweet Ruth, wife of Braden) and also, an accomplished organist & pianist, a pilot, a real estate and securities broker, a fisherman (woman), a slalom water skier, a snow skier, a businesswoman, an administrator, a public speaker and, lover of God's Word and fully desiring to serve Him all the days of my life.
I miss him today – more than ever, but because I love him so much, I am overwhelmed with joy that he could be in heaven ahead of me -- he's on his heavenly assignment -- he earned and deserves this. And, of all the beautiful things he gave me, and urged me to become, I absolutely know that the peace, joy and happiness I’m experiencing today, is because of the impact he had on my life – to always look for the good in every circumstance, to be grateful for everything, to be determined to finish this race strong. Happy Anniversary, my Sweetheart! I'm having a blast here.....and I guarantee I'll keep your legacy strong until I BLAST OUT OF HERE to be THERE with you!