Saturday, November 17, 2018

Staying Fit and Strong – Body, Soul, and Spirit!

I was intrigued this week when I read that if we want a healthy heart and a number we’re happy with on the scale, then we should buy a bag of Brazil nuts, put our fork down by 6 pm and weigh ourselves every day — or so say the findings of several studies released ahead of the American Heart Association’s yearly meeting for advances in cardiovascular science.

Oh, how happy we all would be if those 3-steps were all we needed to do to stay fit! I was a “beanpole” weighing in at a mere 105 pounds when I married my young husband. There wasn’t much meat on my bones. That was then, and along came my baby boy who helped "fill me out" -- literally! But no worries, back in my day the fitness craze started. There were always infomercials for Suzanne Somers “Thigh Master”, Jack LaLanne’s workouts, and my videotapes of Jane Fonda’s aerobic routines and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons. I confess. I tried them all. I even had one of those vibrating belt machines. I jiggled my way back to my “school girl” figure.

Finally, the one routine that stuck with me was when I joined Weight Watchers in 1988. That program worked for me to this day as I make sure I’m on my goal weight when I check in monthly. Accountability has been such a good thing.

Recently, I started having some crazy leg and back issues. I know the culprit. The long distance running that I did for years caught up with me in this milestone birthday year. My doctor urged me to start swimming to help out my body parts!
Fortunately, there is an indoor pool in my community, so I started a swimming routine. I'm up to 15 laps of 150 feet and honestly, ALL pains are gone and I feel so good! I'll keep on swimming!

It seems God directed me to what I needed to do to stay fit in every season of my life. I’m so thankful He keeps tweaking me in a natural way. But physical fitness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes having a regular routine and staying with it, eating a balanced diet, regularly exercising, getting adequate rest. But, 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

It’s good to be physically fit, and it’s even better to be spiritually fit. Funny, but I haven’t seen too many “infomercials” on spiritual fitness. Hey, who knows? Maybe we’re on to something here! We could develop some training videos on spiritual fitness: “Prayers of Steel”! Actually, it's a lot easier to be spiritually fit than physically fit. It’s not that difficult. In fact, I would like to suggest a very simple approach. I don’t plan on creating an “infomercial” any time soon, but I think the following three steps can help us get spiritually fit.

1) Spiritual Fitness requires spiritual nutrition. Just as the body needs proper daily food nourishment, spiritual fitness needs daily nourishment of spiritual food. Jesus said: “’Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’" Matthew 4:4 Man is a spiritual being as well as a physical being. Reading and studying God’s Word and combining it with faith is "soul" food. When we’re down, it’ll lift us up! When we’re lost, it’ll help us find our way! When we’re fearful, it’ll give us courage! When we’re weak, it’ll give us strength! When we’re hurting, it’ll give us healing!

2) Spiritual fitness requires regular spiritual exercise. Faith is like a muscle that must be used and exercised for it to grow. We exercise our “faith muscles” by living with audacious, unrelenting faith that comes with trusting God completely to work out every detail of our lives – in His perfect timing and His perfect way! “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

3) Spiritual fitness is easier to maintain when we hang out with other “spiritual fitness” junkies. You know them – those who attend church and Bible studies regularly and those who talk the talk AND walk the walk of true commitment to God.

Having a healthy physical AND spiritual life is a daily process of intentional and purposeful action – like a diet or exercise program. It only shows results when we practice it consistently and stick with it over the long haul. If we’re not making health or spiritual progress, then we’re just not staying fit!

Friday, November 16, 2018

I Wish You Knew

This day, eight years ago, began with the routine we had become accustomed to after eleven months of doctors' appointments, six surgeries, many treatments, infusions, pain management and a host of other daily activities. Each day was a new day with hope and great expectations for conquering the events of the day, without being conquered by those events. I wish you knew how our life changed from “normal” to a “new normal” that was anything but normal. We never knew what to expect – perhaps yet another trip to the emergency room to help manage the pain, the fever, or the discomfort. Whatever each day held, it seemed we were enveloped in a blanket of God’s peace. Aw, God’s sweet, wonderful peace. I wish you knew that peace.

I wish you knew how one can weather a storm unscathed because of God’s peace that passes understanding. I wish you knew how it felt to see others living their lives as “routine” and same-o, same-o while I was thrilled to have one more day to trust God that we would make it through another day.

I wish you knew how it felt to live each day with expecting a miracle – that even on this day, I didn’t think anything except that my sweetheart didn’t want much to eat on this day – that he would rather sleep more which I deemed was because of the medication to reduce the pain in his broken body. I wish you knew the great peace it brought that we had a loving God Who we knew was giving us such peace.

I wish you knew how it felt to recognize that this day would be my last day with him as I watched his blood pressure get erratic. I knew it was time to tell him, “Sweet man, it’s okay to go home. I’ll be okay. I love you so much. I'll see you later. Go ahead and “Push, Baby, push!” I wish you knew what it feels like to be your loved one’s Mid-Wife and help him push through to heaven.

I wish you knew how absolutely at peace you can be and know how it feels to be vastly in control when everything around you is out-of-control and out-of-your-ability to do anything to alter God’s will being done on earth as it was in heaven. I wish you knew how resilient we can be in the most storm-tossed seas of life.

I wish you knew how it feels to have spent 49 years of loving your childhood “crush” to him becoming your life-long lover, best friend, sweetheart, and darling husband. I wish you knew how much I still love talking about him, even on this day. Even after all these years later, it makes me smile to hear you tell stories and remind me how he impacted your life. Saying his name is one of the most comforting things you can do for me and my family.

I wish you knew how it feels to be in a room full of couples who love and respect you but you feel like the 3rd or 5th wheel all alone without your person, but putting aside those feelings to living with gusto because of the Big Wheel Who keeps you confident, living with destiny and purpose.

I wish you knew I was not always as strong and inspiring and brave as it looked – that sometimes I was simply a determined survivor. Telling me how strong and confident I was all the time simply made me feel like I had to look and be a certain way to continue being "an inspiration." And, you know what? I did become strong with the desires to be inspiring and brave and not just being a survivor, but a thriver.

I wish you knew that people aren't replaceable and new chapters don't mean we've forgotten or stopped loving them. What's new is new, and it's amazing and beautiful and provides new stories and life, but has nothing to do with the memories that will stay with you forever and the memories that made you live a worthwhile life of making a difference in other people’s lives.

I wish you knew the difference of being a weeping, whiny, and wailing widow to a confident, peace-filled widow who doesn’t forget the past but realizes all the times of the past that made her the capable, faith and peace filled woman she is today. I wish you knew not to waste your life because time is so very short.

I wish you knew how grateful I am for those of you who lifted us up in prayer, who still lift me up in prayer, who do life with me and encourage me with your words of cheer.

I wish you knew that life is worth living until we get to experience real life forever on the other side where we’ll meet up with our loved ones who are cheering us on from heaven’s grandstands.

I wish you knew this peace I know. It's yours for the taking: Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on You because they trust in You."

I wish you knew.......

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What Does Your Life ECHO?

I was in a store and heard a young child speak an unthinkable string of words. I spun my head around to see what the parent was going to do because I could hardly believe my ears. Yet the parent seemed oblivious to his words. Evidently, the parent put the words out there and the child echoed those words back. In another situation, I witnessed a child putting her little hands on her mama’s face and with fervency exclaimed, “I love you sooo much!” That child echoed the words she had heard. What is being echoed in your home and in your sphere of influence?

An ECHO is like sowing and reaping. What we plant, we harvest. If we only speak AND think and if we only plant and sow words of doubt, negativity, unbelief, worry, and anger, then we can expect back the echo (the harvest) of the same. On the other hand, when we are speaking and thinking, planting and sowing -- good thoughts of blessings, love, joy, generosity, peace, kindness, and respect – then that echo will come back with the same.

It’s the Fall season which, of course, leads to thoughts of harvest time and reaping what we’ve sown. With this post, I’m encouraging all of us to think about what our life is reaping. God's laws of reciprocity have never changed. "You reap what you sow." Galatians 6:7 We know the repercussions of negative sowing so if we want a harvest of what we sincerely desire, we'll make sure that our "planting" produces a crop of blessings! If we’re not reaping the blessings we’d like to have, then maybe it’s time to give thought to the seeds we planted.

If we planted honesty, we'll reap trust.
If we planted friendship, we'll reap friends.
If we planted love, we'll reap love.
If we planted hard work, we'll reap success.
If we planted forgiveness, we'll reap reconciliation.
If we plant faith in God, we'll reap a harvest of blessings.

I’m on a mountaintop and I’m yelling “I love you! The echo is “I love you!”. I’m shouting “You are strong and courageous: My echo is “You are strong and courageous!” Imagine you’re on that mountaintop today – what are you shouting and what is coming back at you?

Remember, you are the director of your own movie. You can say CUT at any time to negative speaking and thinking! So go ahead and rewrite the ending to be one of a great harvest of blessings because that’s what you planted during the first scene of the movie!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

When It Seems Impossible NOT to Worry

I know worrying is counterproductive to anything we are pursuing and are believing for, but sometimes it’s just impossible NOT to have “spells” of worrying. We can apply “mind over matter” to the task of not worrying and boldly declare: “I will not worry. I will not worry." But then, here it comes again -- those tinges of worry slip through the crack of our heart’s door.

Winston Churchill said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never.” That describes the enemy of our souls who doesn't give up on creating anxiety and worry. I’ll never forget the woodpecker that caused us to worry about the side of our home being devoured by this beautiful, yet determined bird. I think Churchill’s quote was the rallying call for that woodpecker that decided the side of our home was perfect for his machine-gun beak exercises. I remember running out the door with a broomstick waving at him like a crazy lady. He’d fly away. Yay! Silence. For one whole minute. I would no sooner go back inside and he was back at it. I ran out the door again and he fluttered away to the neighbor’s fence. I knew he was smirking; I could feel it. By the time I was back inside, he was back at the siding, probably laughing. I don’t remember how we resolved our “bird” issues, but eventually, the machine-gun stopped.

This story, from well over 20 years ago, came flooding back to my memory when I heard someone telling about their own machine-gun woodpecker. Those woodpeckers reminded me of the worries that kept coming to my mind, usually in the middle of the night. The doubts and fears fluttered in, and I would fervently try to figure out a solution. It would be incessant, troubling and, burdensome -- just like that annoying woodpecker. After hours of sleep deprivation, I’d remember: God is God, and I am not, which meant that I had a decision to make. I could continue to let that woodpecker AND my other many worries get to me or I could let go, and let God do what He is best at. What I’ve come to know is worrying gets us nowhere and gives us nothing but sleepless nights and destroys our peace of mind.

God’s Word says: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Aw! Our best defense against annoying birds and circumstances that "drill" on our minds to steal sweet sleep from us, is praying and applying God’s Word to the situation. When we find the enemy drilling holes through constant worry, we can cover those vulnerable places with prayer and God’s Word, which redirects our thoughts and keeps us focused on Jesus. God promises that when we release our worries and turn instead to prayer, He will give us His peace that’s beyond anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds against the anxieties that can be as persistent as that woodpecker. The woodpecker eventually went away which is a good reminder to be diligent in prayer and not let worries flutter back and nest in our heads.

Dear Lord, it’s so easy to fall into worry. When our fears and worries are drilling in our minds, help us to stop trying to fix everything ourselves. Please teach us to turn to You in prayer, trust You to be in charge and let Your peace reign over us. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Controlling What I Can and Cannot

I felt a tug at the edge of my shirt and looked down to identify the perpetrator. He’s black and white with horns that could really hurt if he chose to wallop e." me with them. His name is Oreo and he has a personality of grit and determination and lets his peers know he’s the boss. I smile at him, and sometimes use my parental voice with him because he’s being way too possessive of his “stuff”. I give him a handful of feed, “Okay, Oreo, here’s a snack.” He gobbles straight from my hand, slobbery and delighted. He is one of five very tame and sometimes ornery goats at the Wuerch ranch.

Later, outside the domain of the longhorn, Vamanos, I toss him some hay over the fence and scoot his bowl of feed under the fence. I imagine the beast on the other side of that fence grabbing the edge of my clothing too. The scene that unfolds in my mind is entirely different. I shiver and salute him with respect as I think: “You stay there and I’ll stay right here!"

In many ways, this is how we define control. We are unafraid of what we believe we can control. The pushy goat. The Facebook posts we have done a thousand times. A conversation with close friends. Saying “No” to the third “Oreo” cookie. But our hearts speed up at the prospect of what we cannot control. The longhorn that swings those 6-feet horns. A recent health diagnosis. The weather and the outdoor wedding that is planned. The success of the fundraiser we are heading up.

Here is what scripture says about control. Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” I discovered that the only type of control we are given is quite possibly the most challenging. It’s self-control. Yikes! Controlling ourselves is often harder to control than the goat OR the longhorn. Here’s how to explain self-control. We can’t control our friendships, but we can control what kind of friend we will be. We can’t control our marriage but we can control what kind of wife or husband we are. We can’t control our children but we can control what kind of parent we will be. We can’t control our career but we can control the sort of employee we are to our company.

When we actually start living this way, the fear starts to diminish. In other words, taking the next step of obedience is the equivalent of putting the fence between us and the longhorn. What we fear might still be present, but it can no longer smack us with his horns. (And, I know what that feels like! Been there – felt that, and got the bruise!)

The key to self-control is not inward, but upward. Because if God is in us, self-control causes us to be braver, stronger, and wiser than what we ever feared. I read this quote: "If you could kick the person responsible for most of your troubles, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for weeks." So let’s start with ourselves. The whole issue of self-control starts with self, so let's shoulder up and say: “Self, we can do this with God’s help!”




















Monday, November 12, 2018

When Humbling Myself is the Last Thing I Want to Do

I was dealing with a complicated situation that led to my feelings being very hurt. It didn’t seem so trivial that I could just forgive and forget and it didn't make sense to let them off when they knew what they did was wrong and they didn’t even apologize. I know that it’s up to me to forgive them anyway because I know the saying well “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.”

I get amused at how God shows up and speaks to me. My son and I were talking and I was bemoaning my “relationship situation”. I was hoping he would take pity on me and agree that the other person was callous with their actions. But, do you know what that man (my son) said to me – that man that I raised to be a kind, forgiving and loving man said to me? “Mom, read the Prayer of Humility and St. Francis' prayer “Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” How dare he? How dare my children put into action what I taught them?

I knew God was speaking to me through those words and I tackled praying about how to make the wrong right and I soon received the answer I needed. I typed a long email to this person. With elaborate detail and CAPITAL letters, I punctuated all their wrongs. I signed it, "With love".....AND never sent it. It felt good to get it all off my chest. In a matter of days, simple and casual text messaging between the two of us ensued and a sweet apology came with asking for forgiveness.

I had been given words from my son, straight from Heaven Central, and those words, taken to heart, altered the course of what could have been an extended time of estrangement. I took a step back from all the emotion and frustration to sit quietly with Jesus and He untangled the mess for me. Here are some things that happen while sitting quietly with Jesus: We humble ourselves because of He Who is perfect and is perfectly in love with us, despite how many times we have failed Him. In the heat of a mess, the last thing I want to do is get humble. But, I’ve learned I have to step out of the battle and humbly ask God to speak truth to my heart for things to start to make sense. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6

We can pour our anxious hearts out to Jesus who loves us right where we are, how we are. And because His love comes without judgment, we can feel safe enough to humbly admit we need Jesus to work on us and then truth is revealed. The truth is: We have an enemy, and it’s not each other. Satan’s influence on us and the person offending us is the real culprit. I can’t realize this in the heat of the moment. But in the quiet, I become alert and can gain a strategy for acting in a more self-controlled manner. I can rest assured God will use my conflicts for good. God has a way of making us stronger and more tolerant in our relationships when we humble ourselves enough to receive from Him in the quiet what He wants to teach us through it all.




Sunday, November 11, 2018

You Are Loved, So Don’t You Dare Quit Now!

Some things just don't change.....but wouldn't it be great if they did? The first two kids, Cain and Abel, birthed from the first two parents, Adam and Eve, couldn't get along. In fact, their sibling rivalry led to the death of Abel. Fast forward to the dad, Jacob, and Joseph, his son (his favorite son -- okay, that's already screaming "TROUBLE"). Why would a dad ever favor one of his kids over the other? But he did, and little Joseph became the target of his 10 brothers -- to not just bully him but to kill him. Fortunately, their evil plot was thwarted.

Obviously, people issues -- judging, bullying, gossiping, jealousy, arguing, etc. have been a part of humanity from the beginning. It's unfortunate when we consider what all those "issues" do to people. That's why it's so important that we go to a higher level -- a place of love, concern, care, and compassion for each other. Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Luke 6:31. And He reiterated, in John 13:34, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other."

Maybe you're the one who is being judged and bullied or lied about. Maybe you feel like no one really cares about you and you think that you don't really matter. Here's the truth about MATTER:. YOU ARE LOVED! Don't let people get inside your head to make you think otherwise. You are loved. You are a one-of-a-kind original and no matter what you think and what others say about you, God loves you so much and you are His masterpiece. If you were the only person on earth, He would still have sent His one and only Son to pay the ultimate price for YOU. That's TRUE LOVE! He took the high road. It's time for us to take the high road, too.

The psalmist says that God formed you. Formed is defined as great care and special attention. It's the picture of a potter expertly crafting his art at the potter's wheel. You and I were formed by the Creator for a purpose. And everything God forms, He fills. He formed the seas and filled it with fish. He formed man and filled him with breath. God has filled you with unique gifts and talents. He filled your spirit with a longing for more. God has filled your life with a supernatural destiny. So don't believe for one more moment you have been overlooked or forgotten by God. Don't accept the deception that destiny and purpose are for other people and not you!

You really do matter! Don’t you dare think about giving up! YOU ARE LOVED. Now, get out there and own YOU and your place on this earth, at this time, to stand out and be the best YOU, you can possibly be!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

It's Time to Take a Time-Out!

My hands are in the time-out “T” sign right now, and I’m saying “We need to take a time-out!" That’s what I was doing last Sunday when my family introduced me to “their own new family rules” of playing UNO. Of course, they had been mastering their new rules, so I, the newcomer to this source of a high-stress way of playing a simple game that had simple-to-follow rules, was in overload. I kept pleading “TIME-OUT” using those hand signals, especially when they’d say (because of their new rules) “Nana, take a card. Take another card.” That was because their new rules included if a “7” is thrown out, you can’t talk until another “7” is thrown out. Well, of course, my hand was full of cards because I couldn’t help myself. I had to talk! That’s when my time-out “T” sign came out!

Whew! And, isn’t that what we need to do in this world of “He said. She said. They said.” And, “It’s his/her fault.” TIME-OUT! Thankfully, the mid-term elections are over. We made it! It was a tough one. People took sides on every issue under the sun, armed themselves with opinions and rights and offenses and wrongs, and proceeded to hurl word-grenades at each other, one after another, until the air became so thick with anger and frustration that we could barely see what they were fighting for. I silenced my TV or fast-forwarded through campaign rhetoric. I didn’t want to see another campaign speech that degraded another opponent. I'm just done with "those rules of improper behavior and lack of respect for our fellow man".

But even when we’re not in an election season, it can still be easy to get so worked up over a spoken word that we forget the person on the other side of our words. I know when it’s time to take a TIME-OUT and “refresh” like I refresh my computer when it gets stuck.

When I “refresh” after a time-out, I realize that I’m the product of my upbringing, my faith, my environment. Other people were brought up differently from my world. Other people have opinions based on their own core values and opinions. As wrong as their opinions and values seem to me, they still deserve my respect. It’s time for me to remember that I’m VERY human myself and that all of those people are God’s children, too. It’s time for me to ask Him for a heart to love them.

Today, let’s ask God for eyes to see His children the way He does — and the patience to put up with them like He does, especially when they seem “particularly CRAZEE!!!” Just like playing my family’s new version of UNO and when I needed a time-out, it’s TIME to take a TIME-OUT when you need one (and I promise to do the same), and let’s be grateful for everyone who loves us on our particularly CRAZEE days, too.

“May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.”
{1 Thessalonians 3:12}

Friday, November 9, 2018

Saving the Ones We Love the Most

We all have inbred instincts to save the ones we love the most. We are passionate about making sure our babies don’t touch a hot stove and they look both ways before crossing a street. We ensure they wear their coats in the cold winter days and we apply sunscreen in the blistering heat of the summer. We would go into any burning building to save their lives from a devastating fire, or into the water to save them from drowning. But, what kind of true grit do we possess for our children and grandchildren that will save them from the enemy of their souls?

I hear parents express immense concern about the negative influences their children may encounter in school, on social media, the entertainment world of screen and music, and particularly the divisive, hateful rancor of negativity that many people display. Parents wonder how their children will grow up with purpose, dignity, integrity, respect, and self-esteem when THAT and THOSE are their influencers.

But, really, WHO are their most significant influencers? The fact is there is no one or no-thing that should ever supersede a parent’s responsibility and their own leading-by-example. Let me speak boldly here. Your children will learn to love or hate, be respectful or disrespectful, wise or foolish, not by the character of their friends’ families, or those pseudo families they watch on TV or Hollywood, but by the family in their house. May I submit to you that your sons and daughters will be far more influenced by their teachers, coaches, 4-H, FFA, scouts or church group leaders? I don’t feel my character was molded by those in public office or in the entertainment world, but I did learn respect, hard work, and generosity from my Dad and perseverance, faith and resilience from my Mom. My Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible School leaders and Christian Camp counselors modeled to me how to relate to the God of the Bible in my everyday life.

Actually, should those in the public spotlight conduct themselves in an honorable way with utmost integrity? Absolutely. However, it is not the responsibility of the President, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Miss America, the NFL, or the neighbor next door, to set the example of moral conduct. It is not the government’s responsibility to ensure children have a good example. It is our responsibility, as American citizens and Christians, to ensure that we lead our youth in modeling what is right, good, honorable, and true. One good, God-fearing, respectful football coach can do far more to shape the hearts and minds of teenage boys than a professional athlete. If we want to make a difference, let’s stop worrying about the moral example of others and let us take an active role in our classrooms, churches, youth groups and programs, sports teams, and their other extracurricular activities. Being cheerleaders, advisers and overseers of God’s gifts (our children and grandchildren) is our calling and mission. Those children are our gifts from God and what we do to instill a love for God, their fellow man and country is our gift back to God.

“Friends and fellow Americans, your success as a family -- our success as a nation -- depends not on what happens in Washington D.C., but on what happens inside your house.” I pray these wise words of Barbara Bush will resonate with us. Our nation has always and will always depend on the moral fiber of our families, nothing more, nothing less. God bless, America, and may America bless God!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Time to Take Back What the Enemy Has Stolen

While I was in Michael’s a few days ago, I saw the Fall décor 70% off sale. I saw this little squirrel that reminded me of the sandwich-snatching squirrel we met up with at Sea World. My daughter reminded me of the encounter. We had just sat down in a shady spot to eat our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and my six-year-old granddaughter was just about to take a bite of hers when this vicious (okay, not vicious, but heister) squirrel grabbed the sandwich out of her hands. Staci said: “Mom, you were like a kamikaze, wonder woman, freak of nature, princess warrior, Joan of Arc, going through no man's land and ready to die at the stake for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose grandchild had her sandwich stolen by a squirrel!” Okay. So my daughter embellished that story just a tad, but I remember my first instincts were to let that squirrel know he had messed with the wrong grandmother

As I thought about that hilarious scenario, I started thinking about the enemy of our souls and how he is always trying, and often succeeding, at stealing from us. For example, we woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of great expectation that something good is going to happen to us this day. But then, the car doesn't start which causes the kids to be late for school and we are late for work AND the extremely important meeting we had to be at on time. That's the heister squirrel, rather the enemy of our souls, endeavoring to steal our joy and great expectations. What about the argument that we had with our spouse or child or friend yesterday? We shouldn't think it was just a random disagreement. It was the enemy trying to steal our peace. Realizing it's the enemy that is endeavoring to steal our joy and peace is the first step in apprehending him before he gets away with it.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). According to these words of Jesus, the thief is out to steal, kill, and destroy everything good in our lives. He wants to steal our job, our joy, our happiness, our health, our finances, our marriage, and our kids. The thief just wants to ruin anything he can get his hands on!

That reminds me of the pickpocket that stole my husband's wallet when we were in Cancun, Mexico. Along with the wallet, his credit cards, money, and identity were stolen, too! We’ve all experienced painful loss of some kind. Imagine we're given the opportunity to not only get back what was lost, but we even get back double for our trouble. Because Jesus came to give us life abundantly, we also find in Scripture that God wants to abundantly restore what we’ve lost. "Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will restore twice as much to you." Zechariah 9:12. Wow! That means I should have gotten two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from that heister squirrel!

Perhaps you’re living in a season when you feel deprived and taken advantage of by the enemy. Maybe you've lost something or someone valuable to you, the least of which is your peace and joy. I assure you, God wants you to live life in all its fullness and give you double for your trouble. Get on the offense against the enemy. Grab those things that the enemy is trying to steal from you or has stolen from you quickly! Grab hold of that scripture in Zechariah and reclaim what has been taken from you. Fight for what is yours with relentless, kamikaze determination!




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Having a God-is-in-Control Mindset

Thank goodness for the winners of the political races because now we can breathe easier. The ones who won their seats in the House and Senate proclaimed that they would fix the economy, solve the issues on immigration, health care, and give their supporters whatever they want from them. So, no concerns or worries! NOT! It's a fresh, new day to realize “God is in control”! I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know WHO holds tomorrow!

It may sound like a cliché but I assure you “God’s got this!” In a culture fixated on the present and ourselves, it's understandable that there are many who are ecstatic about the outcome of yesterday's elections and others who are disappointed and anxious. We are right to be concerned about our nation, but we are wrong to worry about our future: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6). When we do, (verse 7) "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". We must remember this: Our mighty God, is in control.

I am so happy that my peace, well-being, and hope for tomorrow doesn't depend on what a man or woman promises in some political arena and, if elected, what my life will become. Here's what I do know and here's what I'm staking my life upon. I believe God's ways are so much higher than ours and His sovereign plans and purposes will be carried out. If we are people who live by faith, we will just keep overcoming because we know that God is in control -- no matter "the who" is in the White House, the schoolhouse, the greenhouse, House of Representatives, or a household.

Instead of being in that "I'm-so-worried-about-what-our-future-holds mode", how about us looking at a penny and stand by those words engraved on it that say "In God We Trust"?

This morning is another gorgeous day for us to say again “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I looked for a flag that depicted who we are as Americans. This one below is the one I found. I just added the words. I have a vivid picture in my mind: "THIS FLAG stands for freedom. I'm proud to be an American where I know I am free, and I won't forget the men and women who died who gave that right to me. And I'll proudly stand up next to you and defend her still today, cause' there ain't no doubt, I love this land, God bless the USA!" And as much as I love that song sung by Lee Greenwood, more than my beloved American flag, the cross of Jesus Christ is my statue of liberty. In GOD I Trust! With Him, our future is secure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

God is With You -- So Get Ready for a Blessed Day

"Have a good one!" "Have a great day!" "Have a wonderful day," "Have a terrific day," We’ve all heard those words, in one form or another, and we've given those words at some time to someone. And then there are those of us who take it to a HIGHER level when we say, "Have a blessed day!" After ALL, we say it with the words ringing in our ears "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24). We woke up; we're breathing so it's a good, good day!

Today is election day and I'll be honest with you, I'll be thrilled all the campaign signs will be off the lawns in my neighborhood and the negative ads that dominated our airwaves and the latest polls will be over. At the end of this day, regardless of who is elected, this day will have been a blessed, good day.

What DOES a good day look like to you? Does it depend on all wins and no loses? Sunshine and no rain? Is it a day when all is calm and there are no storms; only smooth sailing and no waves? Is it just laughter and no tears? Is it making progress and no setbacks? Is it just exciting times with no disappointments? What DOES a good day look like?

A GOOD Day has G-O-D in it -- no matter what that day holds. God in our day; God in our heart; God in our circumstances; God in our valleys; God in our mountaintops; God in our joys; God in our sorrows; God in our trials; God in our triumphs; God in our need; God in our abundance.

ANY day is a GOOD, blessed day when we are mindful that where we are and whatever we're doing, He Who holds our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows is with us. He is for us. He is able to sustain us, provide for us, equip us and fill us with His peace, comfort, and joy in our EVERY day! I refuse to count my problems; I'll count my blessings. I'm breathing. I'm moving. I'm alive.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new EVERY morning; great is Your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23

Now, go out there and have a good, great, wonderful, awesome, fantastic, BLESSED day! After all, God made it for us and He is smack dab in the middle of it so we might as well jump wholeheartedly into this day and make it the BEST one EVER!

Monday, November 5, 2018

I Choose Peace!

Not too long ago, I was in a group meeting and it seemed no matter what I said, there was a gal that continued to contradict something I said. I was starting to tally the number of times she interrupted my train of thought to disprove something I said. My emotions were starting to go south and I felt a wave of anxiety go through me. In a split second, I took a deep breath and I decided to choose peace instead. I have come to know that peace is best chosen before there’s a need for it. I think I’m becoming an expert at choosing peace.

I had plenty of practice at choosing peace over the years. I learned that trying to prove my “rightness” was actually proving how wrong I could be. I was my husband’s navigator and co-pilot when we were flying. He depended on me. But, when we were driving around town and I kept insisting he was going the wrong way or he needed to turn here or there or speed up or slow down, it only led to a disruption of peace. Though it was hard, I learned to let him go the speed and the direction he believed was the right way, and be silent. Getting there 5 or 10 minutes late going his way, was far better than losing our peace trying to prove my way was the right way. I chose peace.
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Today, more than ever, I want to be enveloped by peace. I want to radiate peace and I want to be an agent and a conduit of peace. I decide this while in the grocery check-out line, or sitting in traffic, or waiting on these Frisco 5-minute traffic lights (ugh!) I know when I’ve decided peace as my option. Whether any of us know it or not, we can become practitioners of peace.

What I know for sure, is that the more I plant peace, water peace, fertilize it with prayer and practice, peace takes root. I have learned to shun people, places and situations where there is hostility, anger, and conflict. I avoid conversations that are going nowhere except for a battle zone up ahead. Of course, the wonder of it all is the way peace makes itself at home in us, even when the storms are raging.

As I was writing this post, I retrieved my 2010 November journal to see how I was handling the week of my husband's graduation to heaven on November 16th. I remember so much peace in my heart -- an undeniable, overwhelming, unexplainable peace. I was attending to and watching my sweetheart and best friend for over 44 years grow weaker, sleep more and moan in pain while trying to carry on my other responsibilities. My journal read “I can't explain it, but I have peace that passes understanding.” I remember choosing peace, or, maybe peace chose me.

What I know for sure in that meeting where it seemed the enemy was taunting me, to the times of my life when chaos was all around me and to the 11 months of my Sweetheart’s illness to his final week of life, I felt the sweet assurance of One who always promises, “I’m right here with you. You are not alone.”
So I pray and pay this peace forward to you today, dear friends. I know this for sure: You are not alone. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not in all the days to come. He is right here with you, and He extends the invitation to let peace take root in your soul.

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Loving the Unlovely - Test or Torture?

This Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy speaking to Linus, "I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does." God bless Lucy. She reminds me of some folks, even my own self, at times. If you'll remember dear Lucy's personality -- she was characterized as loud-mouthed, aggressive, temperamental, and sometimes dumb. She often mocked Snoopy and his owner, Charlie Brown, and even her younger brother Linus. She was quite antagonistic, often playing the villain role in a number of stories. She was also characterized as vain, as she believes she is beautiful and thinks she is perfect (though she once admitted complaining is the only thing she can do well). But, in response to Lucy in this photo, I reply with, "Yes, Lucy, you're right. We all need to love and be loved."

The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 13, ”"Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I am a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal." I've been mulling over this post as I've subtlely posted about loving the unlovely -- not that it's an easy thing to do, but because it's the right thing to do. I can't speak to those who just don't care or those who are bent on being name callers and making really snide and ugly remarks about others, but I am referring to my brothers and sisters in Christ who have found it a popular thing to do -- to speak some very unkind words. It's one thing to disagree, but it's a whole other thing, to justify cold-heartedness. It's a shame that our love can be reduced to sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. This post today isn't to those on the other side of love -- it's for those of us on God's side -- those of us who are supposed to take the higher road, the road less traveled, Have we heard 1 Corinthians 13 so often that we no longer think about what those words mean?

I get it. We are disappointed in the political shenanigans that are going on. It's easy to get caught up in the sheer craziness of it all. One side points to the other about violence, outrage, bomb threats, mass killings, misconduct of each other, etc. But as off-the-wall crazy as it all is.....we must remind ourselves as many times as necessary to go back to WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). He's our "rule of measure". He was despised and rejected and even though He was a perfect and innocent man, was tortured and killed. He only loved. He taught us how to love. He loved even the unloveliest and even died to save them. He forgave "Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Maybe it's time that, rather than focusing on the weaknesses of each other, to give ourselves the LOVE TEST and see if we'll pass with flying colors. Let's ask God to help us be LOVERS with these "love" qualities: After reading these words, let's read them again and replace the word "love" with our name. "Love is patient -- Donna is patient. Love is kind -- Donna is kind. Dear God, where I fall short, renew my heart and soul to be a LOVER like YOU!
1) Love is patient.
2) Love is kind.
3) Love is not jealous.
4) Love does not brag.
5) Love is not arrogant.
6) Love does not act unbecomingly.
7) Love does not seek its own.
8) Love is not provoked.
9) Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.
10) Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
11) Love rejoices with the truth.
12) Love bears all things.
13) Love believes all things.
14) Love hopes all things.
15) Love endures all things.
God doesn't ask us to do anything without His grace to do it. Let's be LOVERS, not haters!
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fall Back! It’s Time for Change!

You know summer is officially over when Daylight Saving Time comes. You’re welcome, Friends. I’m giving you a little ARK (Act of Random of Kindness). I'm reminding you to get that extra hour of glorious sleep that you deserve! Daylight Saving Time 2018 will end tomorrow morning, Sunday, at 2 a.m., so it'll be best to set your clocks back an hour before retiring tonight!

This is my favorite time change – the one that “falls back” and we get a much needed extra hour of sleep – unlike the Spring time change when it advances an hour and we lose an hour of sleep. We adults can get this and adapt quite readily. But, oh my goodness, I remember when my babies and grandbabies were babies and those time changes came and it was a work-out to get them on the new schedule. They didn’t understand they could get an extra hour of sleep in the Fall. But, these days, wise young moms and dads have learned to trick the time clock. They start regulating the kids’ schedule way before tonight. They gradually moved bedtime and morning wake up time and nap times later by 10-15 minutes. By the time Sunday comes, those kiddos’ schedule is already tracking the new time.

I
love that. Adapting to change. Rather than grumpy moms, dads and kids….being forward thinking. What can I do to make what I know is coming…..an easier, calmer, less-stressful outcome? First of all, I can ACCEPT that changes are inevitable. Like this Daylight Saving Time change – it’s going to happen whether we want it to or not – we can thank good old Benjamin Franklin for that! He proposed rising an hour earlier in order to conserve candles, but it didn't take root until World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt started what he called "War Time” in an effort to save resources. Thanks, Ben and President Roosevelt!"

Being willing to embrace change has so many rewards. I accepted change when I left Oklahoma after 40 years and here I am two years later with a host of new friends, I’m only 5 minutes away from my family here and enjoy sweet times that I would have missed if I hadn’t made the change. I’m also only 4 hours away from all of my children in Austin. While I still love my Tulsa family and friends and relish getting back to them as often as I can, I’ve made this adjustment and what a blessing it is to me.

Change in our lives is inevitable. We can hold change like the tight reins of a horse and resist it and refuse to submit to change, or we can shed that old stuck-in-the-mud thinking of “I’ve ALWAYS done it this way, and I’ll never change” or embrace change and grow and learn and adapt and be ALL God destined us to be. Maybe it’s time to rethink that new hairstyle, that better job, that computer course to up your game, that circle of friends, that same-oh-same-oh attitude of gloom, doom, and despair. Just maybe it’s time to get a new lease on life by being willing to CHANGE!




Friday, November 2, 2018

The Gathering Place

My Tulsa walking buddy and I were going to walk around the subdivision where we walked for years previous to my move to Texas. But the brilliant idea came to, instead, walk at Tulsa’s new “Gathering Place”. We were taking on the new 70-acre, $465 million-to-build, world-class park we had heard about. We were pleasantly surprised that because it was a school day and a little cloudy with rain in the forecast that there were no crowds and we enjoyed every minute of our time there.

The "Gathering Place” began with the George Kaiser Family Foundation and an extraordinary dream to transform nearly 100 acres of Tulsa’s waterfront along the Arkansas River into an interactive, teaching and play environment. After years of planning, generous donations, input from the community and construction and building, Tulsa's dream became reality.

To try to explain in words the beauty and uniqueness of the park is impossible. You have to see it to believe it. By the way, the park is free. No charge. I was amazed. The landscaping and the water features are breathtaking and many decades-old trees were preserved. The trees removed during construction were recycled into play features and furniture in Adventure Playground. Those trees will continue to live on in the Park, with a new story to be told!. We felt like kids because we were told that anything we wanted to climb, ride, or slide down, we could. That was probably because there were few kids there that morning and because they probably wouldn’t appreciate “big girls” taking over their equipment. Imagination can run rampant on the big ship, the giant pelican slides, the climbing towers, zip line, playhouses, the skate and bike parks, the boating area (paddle boats and canoes), and ropes courses. I braved the ropes course with a long, winding slide at the end and heard a volunteer ask my friend “Do you think she realizes that she could slide pretty fast in there?” “Thanks, God for the info!”, I thought because I used my athletic shoes to slow me down or I would have flown out of there on my bottom, which would have been okay because of the spongy flooring all around.

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Tulsa businessman and billionaire, George Kaiser, made his money in business but has made his mark in Tulsa by his philanthropic endeavors and projects for many years. His countless contributions to Tulsa are extraordinary. George is the son of German refugees who fled Nazi Germany and settled in Tulsa. George eventually took over the family’s oil business. He said that his family’s gratitude for Tulsa taking them in as immigrants with open arms reinforced the obligation he had for helping others.
George has a special heart for children and the mission of the George Kaiser Foundation is to give every child an equal opportunity. His greatest satisfaction is making a difference in someone’s life who really didn’t have a chance as he had. George is known for his compassion and care for humanity. Now his biggest dream of all has unfolded. When asked what his greatest sense of pride is when he sees the kids coming to the park, he said, “It will be the kids and the shrieks of excitement about seeing something that they never thought they would be able to see. We hear kids say "I’ll never be able to go to Disneyland, and now I don’t have to. It’s right here" That gives me the greatest pleasure. For generations to come, people of all ages, from all walks of life and all parts of the city will come to the Gathering Place, hopefully realizing it was built just for them.”

“I had the advantage of both genetics and upbringing. As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help repair that inequity.” —George B. Kaiser

Why am I giving such a tribute to George Kaiser and other contributors for this outstanding one-of-a-kind park that will appeal to children of all ages for generations to come? It’s not George Kaiser, his wealth, his dream or the park. It is the spirit of generosity and thanksgiving that has guided their hearts to give back because they were so grateful for what they had been given. I applaud this man’s heart to give back, but it isn’t about wealth for any of us. I recall the story in the Bible of the widow’s mite – she gave what she had to give. Entering into this month of Thanksgiving, I am taken with this story because it took me to a place of showing gratitude for what I have by giving back and giving out of what I have. I am inspired. I want my legacy to also read “She gave of what she had to give.” How about you?
Check out Gathering Place at https://www.gatheringplace.org/















Thursday, November 1, 2018

Celebrating the Light and our Heroes of Faith

The older I get, and closer I've become with my Lord, the sweeter and more peaceful is my journey. I'm consistently drawn to His Light. I steer clear of darkness and anything that is remotely identified with evil: ghosts, goblins, witches, skeletons,, and paranormal. For that reason, I am so thankful that Halloween is over! Bring on the bright Light of Christ! Talking, walking and living in the Light is my number one priority. The more familiar I've become with THE LIGHT, the more I shun darkness of any kind!

“Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve,” the evening before All Saints’ Day. The trick or treaters are celebrating all that candy they retrieved yesterday. But, this day, November 1st (BTW – Happy November!!) we get to focus on saints. This tradition began in AD 609 and encourages us to remember and emulate the heroes of faith. What a gift it is to us that there were those who paved the way for us with lives devoted to God and were Light-bearers of Christ and many of whom were martyred for their faith in Him.

Tomorrow, November 2nd is All Souls’ Day. Both of these days touch me so much -- two beautiful days of celebration. Those of us who have a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, look at death as leaving our “temporary” home on earth to go to our home sweet, eternal home in heaven. There are many who consider death an unpleasant topic and don’t even want to discuss the subject. Some people even refuse to make a will because that forces them to consider their mortality. Of course, none of us like the idea of someone we deeply love dying, except for knowing they are no longer suffering.

Here’s the positive way of looking at death. This earth has been our “boot camp” for the real deal. It's the "holding room" for the ride of our life. The older I get, the more I embrace getting closer to that "ride". You and I, and everyone we love is going to die, so if death is going to eventually come and take us away, then death had better be our friend and not our enemy. All Saints Day and All Souls Day offer us a wonderful consoling and beautiful way of looking at death. On All Saints Day, we celebrate the glory of the saints in heaven. The Church teaches that everyone in heaven is a saint. There are many men and women, who are canonized (official) saints, and each one has a day assigned to them. On All Saints Day, we celebrate everybody else in heaven. Think of our loved ones who have died and gone to heaven. This is a chance for us to be happy for, and with them. You and I rejoice that they are happy being with God and everyone else in heaven. They have no pain, no frustration, and all they know is absolute, complete happiness because they are in the presence of God. We rejoice with them on this day!

On All Souls Day, we acknowledge our loved ones who died and we embrace our memories with them and the great hope of meeting up with them in heaven. On this day, I purposely recall my precious grandmother who introduced me to my future husband, my firey-preacher grandfather, my angel mom, and wonderful dad, my beloved husband and so many others who influenced and impacted my life. On this day I get to admit that I miss them and I’m not even ashamed to shed a few tears for them. After all, Jesus wept over the death of His friend, Lazarus. I don’t shed tears because I lack faith or because my faith is weak. I shed tears because I miss them. It's okay. It's just temporary for me because I carry on with the joy of seeing them one day soon! I continue to let Jesus make sense of it all for me! How about you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Best TREAT Ever – Happy 96th Birthday, Mom!

Molly and David fell in love, were happily married, and then on October 31st, 1922 God gave this happy couple a precious gift from heaven. It wasn't a pumpkin or a ghost or a goblin, or any other TRICK. They must have been very, very good because He gave them a very special TREAT! And their TREAT was a precious little baby girl who they named “Lydia". “Lydia” means “worshipper of God“! And true to her name, she has been, and is, a true worshipper of God. You'll find her at any given time with her Bible in hand, reading and praying for her family and friends.

Mom met Dad, Herb, when she was 23 and six weeks later, they were married. Talk about a whirlwind courtship! Dad was a young, itinerant minister who was speaking at Mom’s church. I love hearing her tell the sweet details of their first meeting when he and her met on the way to the restrooms, and a day later showing up at her home and asking her parents if he could date her, to the 55 years that ensued to his passing, They had two children, Ronald (Ron) and Karen. This precious lady, "Mom", means the world to me, because were it not for her, my life would have never been filled with such love, joy, and happiness from having her son as my precious husband. I celebrate her and her life of giving, loving, and caring for so many. She has been a true gift to all who know her. She has left her mark on so many lives, including mine. Though she is actually my mother-in-law, it has always been so natural to call her "Mom", because she's always treated me like her daughter. She loved me when I was just 12 years old when I met her for the first time and has continued to love, support, pray for and encourage me all these years.

I know there are funny and often "catty" remarks about "mother-in-law’s". Not in my case. I know that were it not for her, I would have never been blessed with my sweetheart. I am so grateful for her and I appreciate, respect and honor her. And, that's the kind of "in-law" I desire to be for my children and grandchildren's spouses.

Fortunately, I’ve been here in Tulsa since Saturday and each day I’ve had the opportunity to go and sit with her. Yesterday when I showed up, she was standing erect, beaming from ear to ear with excitement that her two sisters-in-law and brother-in-law from Dallas were coming in town to see her and celebrate her birthday with her. How wonderful that there are those who desire to show up and express their love while their loved one is still on this side of heaven.

Just being in Mom’s presence brings peace. In our conversation on Sunday, I said, “Mom, what piece of wisdom would you give for your long and peace-filled life?” Without hesitation, she said, “1) Stay busy; 2) Help others whenever you can; and 3) If there’s somebody you don’t like, just let it roll over you.” Those words aren’t earth-shaking, but I’ve seen them played out in her life. Still, at 96, she stays busy. She stays busy with the office work she does for Karen & George’s business and she’ll either be reading her Bible, praying or on the phone to encourage someone. And, that part about not liking someone and letting it roll over you, she’s referring to cranky, bitter and hateful people. She’ll get pretty frustrated with them, but then, she’ll realize their attitudes are not hers, so she gives them to God to deal with them. She literally lets it roll off her shoulders to His.

On this 96th birthday of Lydia Wuerch, I pay special tribute to a beautiful, thoughtful and devoted Mom, Granny, and friend to so many. God must have loved us so much, that He gave her to us as the best TREAT ever. I celebrate this special day, I honor her with my greatest devotion and thanksgiving to God for her life, her continual prayers for us for so many years and for the living example she is of knowing God, His faithfulness and His love. Happy "96th" Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Happy Five Year Anniversary "No Limits Life Group"!

Who would have thought that when I felt God's nudge five years ago to start a Life Group in my home in Tulsa that I would have met some of the most remarkable women that sincerely realize, like Queen Esther, they are HERE on this earth, at this time, "for such a time as this". We named ourselves the “No Limits Life Group” because there should be “no limits” to our faith and trust that “Nothing is impossible with God”. These are ordinary women who have experienced some of the most difficult tests, trials, disappointments, losses, and painful circumstances., but with the help of our extraordinary God, today, they are feisty, undaunted women on purpose and on assignment and they are using their past experiences as testimonies of God's amazing grace. Only four of us could make this reunion last night, but it was a foursome that shook the gates of heaven in our praise and prayer time together.

This photo with Michael Jordan was the end-of-night comic relief. Michael was perfect in every photo – didn’t even flinch, but we were either too high, too low, too wide or too hidden. It made for hilarious antics and merry hearts that sure did us good like a medicine. What a joy it was to reminisce back to the early days of our group when we met for the first time. We were all newbies in our circle of friends, but we grew to not only love each other, but we also walked hand in hand with each other through some really serious and tough times and helped each other unpack some of that baggage that we had carried way too long.

These women's families and friends have been positively impacted by their incredible lives of faith-in-action. I have seen them step up in boldness and courage when it comes to facing life head-on -- relentless in their attitude to never give up.
These women were just what “the doctor” ordered for me. They pushed me to study more, pray more, be accountable more, give more, receive more, celebrate more and live out my faith with a fervor more -- so much so that week after week, we saw God's grace in action He answered our prayers.

Here we are five years later – still living the “no limits” life. I’m not sharing this to impress you, but I am sharing to impress upon you that we need strong, faith-filled believers in our lives to help us shoulder the responsibilities of motherhood, wives, singles,, widows, daughters, friends, businesswomen, students and everyone in between. Don’t go it alone. Traveling this journey of faith with other believers sure makes the journey oh, so sweet.
Indeed, there are NO LIMITS to what God can do with a little band of women (or men) who are completely surrendered to His will and ways. Oh, there is telling....the Samaritan woman at the well who ran to town to tell about Christ, and Mary Magdalene -- running to tell about the resurrection of the Lord -- both of them were women with "pasts". But, they, too, ran into an extraordinary God....yes, we are in mighty good company.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Being an Influencer

Okay....this is longer than my usual "long", but it describes major influencers in my life. When I come to Tulsa, I squeeze in as much as possible because there are so many precious friends and family here. Yesterday was no exception. First was attending mass at my home parish and sitting beside my Tulsa “family” who mean the world to me. My godson brought us all together when he was a very sick newborn. My husband and I fell in love with this family long before his birth, but it was his little precious and vulnerable life that cemented us all together. Isn’t it amazing how what seems to be the worst of times, brings out the best in people and the best of times? Owen is 13 now so it’s been 13 years of watching God perform miracle after miracle in his life. Since my husband passed away, Owen has taken his place beside me in church and he still holds my hand and wraps his arms around me with abandon. Be still my heart! I was thrilled to have lunch with them and seeing the two youngest in their costumes for Trunk or Treat that followed. This family has been amazing influencers in my life.

After church and before lunch, I made a couple of quick visits to see two amazing “older” women. My first visit was to see Margaret, the mother of my brother-in-law, She lives in a skilled nursing facility, If you need a pick-me-up, go see her. I walked in her room and she was beaming from ear-to-ear and excited to tell me “I’m 96 years old now! Just look at these paintings on my walls. I painted them all!” Margaret is a dear, optimistic, light-hearted friend that as long as I’ve known her, her outgoing, and warm personality made me feel loved. She influenced me.

Then I headed over to spend time with my mother-in-law. I took her dinner the night before and we caught up then, but yesterday I savored our time together once again. She's gone through a lot physically, but now that she lives with Karen, my husband’s sister, she's become stronger and filled with so much vitality. She boasted “I’ve gained five pounds!” And that says a lot! I can’t begin to tell you how much she has influenced my life -- the most of which are her prayers for us. I asked her “What are you going to do today?” She quickly responded, “I’ve got lots of calls to make!” She has a list of people she calls to encourage. She is sure not done yet. She’ll be 96 on Wednesday.

Lastly, I made my way to another dear friend and mentor. Oh, how I love this precious saint, Sister Marie Pierre. After 50+ years of ministry, she retired and lives in a small space at St. Joseph's Monastery but it is everything she hoped for in this season of her life. A few months ago she had a pretty bad fall and had to have hip surgery. I was shocked to see that she was waiting at the door with her walker for me when I arrived. She wasn’t setting any records, but she was up and moving. Another nun waited with her and she asked: “Are you a teacher?” I replied, “Yes, I am, but I’m also one of Sister Pierre’s children.” We made each other cry as we shared sweet memories, and about our future....getting to graduate to heaven. We talked about how our loved ones and the saints and Jesus are cheering us on to the finish line. I could tell she is longing for the day when she'll go home, but in the meantime, sitting at her feet, feeling God's presence and His peace all around her, is the place to be. God continues to use her to touch our lives. She has MANY children -- of course, not biologically, but she sure had a hand in raising many of us in the ways we should go.

Why do I go into so much detail about my life and share it on social media? One, it will be forever an archive to remind me of those people who passed my way. I’m quite sure they were all a part of God’s Master Plan for my life. Placing value on those people and acknowledging them as precious and valuable makes them matter in the grand scheme of God’s almighty handiwork. I love to give credit where credit is due. Each teacher, mentor, encourager, family member, friend, and even casual acquaintance are strategic in God’s wisdom to co-partner with Him. I am so grateful for those who helped “make” me.

The point is to embrace God’s plan AND people that come into our lives – there’s a reason for them all. I’m so thankful that mine has made me purposeful in my mission and determination to finish strong. Perhaps you’re thinking of your own life and those who have contributed to who you are today. Maybe phone them or pay them a visit to let them know how thankful you are for them. Why do I go into so much detail about my life and share it on social media? One, it will be archived to remind me of those people who partnered with God to fulfill His Master Plan in my life. Acknowledging them is giving credit where credit is due. Each teacher, mentor, encourager, family member, friend, and even casual acquaintance are strategically placed in our lives by God. I am so grateful for those who helped “make” me.

The point is to embrace God’s plan AND people that come into our lives. There is a reason for them all. I’m so thankful that mine has made me purposeful in my mission and determination to finish strong. Perhaps you’re thinking of your own life and those who have contributed to who you are today. Maybe phone them or pay them a visit to let them know how thankful you are for them.