Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

How will you be celebrating this holiday?

We are trick or treating - yes, even in the "cold" and wind!

In past years, we have also asked for pantry items to donate to our local food pantry.  It's a great way to make the holiday about more than just getting candy.

This year, we are leaving our neighborhood and going out with good friends in their neighborhood.

I am leaving our bowl of treats on the front porch - we have all the leftovers and items bought on clearance from last year.  Last year, we went candy-less and gave out non-food treats.  Pencils, erasers, bracelets, bubbles, play doh, tattoos.  I was nervous but the kids loved it!

Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland?

Did you know that the Protestant Reformation began on Oct 31, 1517?  That's the date that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences on the church door in Wittenberg.

Did you know that pumpkin carving is very American?  The tradition in Ireland and Scotland was to carve turnips and they carved beetroot in Britain!

Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Here's Your Chance - A Political Post

This is your chance.  Maybe the chance you've been waiting for...

I want you to convince me to vote for your candidate.

There are rules.

The tone must be positive.  Don't tell me why one guy is wrong - convince me of why your guy is right.

You can only mention the candidate you support.  No referencing the opponent.

You can't reply to anyone else's comment.  Just state your own position.

You must reference jello, pudding, or pie in your response.



Monday, October 29, 2012

We Should All Be More Like Kids

I had something of a unique experience last week.

I was at church for something - for several hours.

My friend Michelle came by with her kids.  Her kids are the same ages as my kids.  Her daughter is my daughter's age. Her son is my son's age.

The grown ups sat down to chat for a few minutes.  The kids, who had never met before, ran off to play.

And my friend's kids didn't want to leave.

Because they were having a great time playing with kids that they'd never met before.

These kids were suddenly just... playing together.  As if they went to school together... as if they had known each other for a good amount of time.

And I realized that it would be great if we could all act like that.

We've all had that pit in our stomach as we walk into an unknown situation...  facing a room full of people we don't know... being invited to a dinner party where we don't know people very well... visiting a new church...

Imagine what life would be like if we could easily walk into a room, a situation, a building, and just start chatting and playing and laughing and enjoying the people who are there.

Imagine what life would be like if we didn't automatically feel judged, we didn't automatically judge, we didn't hide behind insecurities or seek out insecurities in others?

I know that not all kids walk into a new situation with ease.  But it was pretty incredible to watch this group of kids just instantly get along.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Rooms - 2 Years Later

We weren't sure how long it would last.

But the time has come.

Our kids are breaking up.

2 years ago, the kids decided they wanted to share a bedroom and have a playroom in the third bedroom.

If you've been around the blog for a while, you'll remember it.  If not, go check this out.

It was beautiful.

I didn't take any before pictures today.  Partially because of how the project came about.  Partially because the mess so bad that I couldn't stand to share it.

I was just going to clean up the play room a little bit.

Instead, I purged 4 white trash bags full of trash.  Various pieces of puzzles, toys, and games with missing pieces and broken parts.  2 large black trash bags full of outgrown and never touched toys to donate to Goodwill.  A box of about 30 books to donate.  A some special items that I've set aside to rehome with families that will appreciate them.

And in the midst of cleaning, Teagan asked about having her own room.

And we respect that she is growing up.  And we respect that she values her privacy.

It will be a bit of an adjustment for Zach and bedtime the next few nights will be strange.

But it will be worth it in the long run.  The 2 years they "lived together" are incredibly valuable and can't be replaced.  But having her own space, her own place to go when she needs to play alone... that's also incredibly valuable.  Having his own space where his sister can't boss him around... incredibly valuable.

And if life was truly fair, I'd get my own room, too.  Jeff has his basement.  The kids now each have a bedroom.  I share a bathroom with the kids.  I share a bedroom with my husband.  The kitchen and living room are common areas.  The dining room isn't accessible due to... well.  Jeff has work to do.

Having my own space would be nice.  Which just means that I can understand Teagan wanting her own room.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 Years Ago

We never planned to have 2 kids.  Jeff and I were both pretty set on Teagan being an only child.  We had a long list of reasons.

But there was another plan in place - one we weren't in control of - that brought us the gift of our son.

Teagan taught us love.  Zach taught us joy.

I don't remember a lot from the pregnancy.  I knew he was going to be a big baby.  And my OB didn't believe me.

I remember my water broke right at kick off for Monday Night Football - the Colts were playing.

I remember labor.  And the nightmare experience getting the epidural.  I remember labor being so much harder than it had been the first time around.  I was exhausted early on.

But then came this 9 lb 9 oz baby boy...

And we were smitten.

You were a sweet baby, an easy baby.  You just wanted to eat and sleep.  We wanted to love on you all the time but learned that you slept better when we didn't mess with you.

Today, my son is 5 year old.

He is learning to read.  He likes math.  He loves school.  His big sister is his best friend.  He is smart and funny and loving and creative.

Happy birthday to my sweet little baby big boy!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Marriage Advice

I think anyone married, engaged, or in a relationship that seems headed toward serious commitment has received advice - wanted or not.

Sometimes, the advice is good.

Sometimes, the advice is bad.

I guess that's kind of how marriage can be, too.  Sometimes, the choices we make are good.  Sometimes, the choices we make are bad.

I once attended a wedding and ended up getting some of the best marriage advice I've ever heard.

The pastor addressed the wedding party and those in attendance at the ceremony.  The friends and family asked to stand with the bride and groom and all those witnessing the creation of this bond had a very important role to play in their marriage.

If he comes to you  and complains about his spouse, it is your job to direct him back to his spouse.  Marital problems can't be solved outside of the marriage.

We all have times we need our friends or need someone to hear us.  But if I go to my friend and my purpose is to complain about Jeff, to belittle Jeff, to build the negativity of whatever the situation is... I am destroying my marriage and if my friend doesn't turn me back to my husband, they are playing a part in destroying my marriage.

If you want your marriage to be strong, you have to turn towards your partner when things are falling apart.

If you want your marriage to be healthy, you have to surround yourself with people who will support your marriage, you, and your spouse and who will surround you with love and respect.

I also think about the importance of faith and spirituality in my marriage.

If it isn't something I'd be willing for my pastor to see, read, or hear... .if it isn't something I'm willing to say, write, or share with Jesus... it shouldn't be shared or said to or about my spouse.

I work to respect and value my husband.  He does the same for me.

I can't live a second life.  I am his wife all the time.  I am his wife at home, at work, at church, at the store.  I am his wife when I am by his side and when I am away from him.  I can't have a strong marriage if I love him when we are together but then disrespect and devalue him to other people.

There are certainly times I am frustrated or angry and need a safe place to vent.  I have one person I can trust in that way that will always point me back to my husband and will always balance my emotion with logic.

I look at the people in our lives and I know that if Jeff and I were to hit a hurdle that we were struggling to overcome together, there are people who would lift us up in prayer and would reach out to us and support us in working through the difficulty.

I also know there are people who would want to help... who would truly have the best of intentions... but who would really be more damaging than helpful.

You have to have wisdom to discern who will truly support your marriage.  It isn't about loving individuals alone.  It's also about loving the relationship between 2 people.

So the best marriage advice I can give that has worked in my life so far?

Turn towards your spouse in hard times, in all times.  Be the kind of person in your marriage that authentically demonstrates to your spouse and your community the respect and value you have for marriage itself.

And in the bedroom...

Have separate blankets.


Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm Wearing Purple Today

I am wearing purple today.

I am opposed to ALL bullying.  To ALL hate.  To ALL intolerance.

More than that, I support loving ALL people.  I support embracing ALL people.  I support accepting ALL people.

Speaking up about and against hate and bullying is important.

Speaking about complete love and acceptance needs to be even louder.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Grown Ups Do

I have shared with you that we are planning our first family trip to Disney World.

We have told the kids we are going - it isn't going to be a surprise.  We have explained that in order to go to Disney, we have to cut back in some other areas - like spending less on Christmas.

We are working with our travel agent (Katie at Hi Ho Vacations) to plan the trip but also to get it paid off before we go on the trip.  I won't be able to have nearly as much fun if I'm in debt while on vacation!  Because we are working with Hi Ho Vacations, we can make regular payments towards our trip.

I made the first payment which officially booked our trip.  And I told the kids about it.

I think they understand.  This week at school, Zach's class is learning about the letter G - and about growing up.  They did an activity were they finished a sentence and drew a picture to go with it.  The sentence started with "Grown ups _______."

Here is Zach's work:

"Grown ups make payments!"

He showed it to us and was excited to explain that this is all about making payments to go to Disney.

Love that kid!


Friday, October 12, 2012


I've spent so much of the past whatever amount of time (more than a year) feeling run down, beat down, scared, tired, exhausted, stressed, unhappy...

I'm on an upswing and it feels different than the little blips of happy I would get in the midst of the stress before.

I feel like...


And it's been a long time since I've felt that way.

It feels...



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coming Out Day 2012

A repost from last year - because it all still matters and because so many are still struggling to understand who they are, how they can be loved, and how they are valued.  I don't even know you but I value you.  If you are struggling with understanding who you are, if you need someone to talk to about what you're feeling, if you need someone who will embrace you as you are - I'm here.


Almost one year ago, I posted an emotional response to the uptick in media coverage of teen suicide.  I hope you will take a few minutes to go read that post.  I've read it a few times since writing it and just reread it for that link and I still stand by everything I wrote.

Today is National Coming Out Day.  Oct 11, 1987 was the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  Oct 11, 1988 was the first National Coming Out Day. 

Most people who come to realize that they are gay, have a moment when they officially "come out."  Most of the gay people I know have a story to tell about their realization, about facing that truth, and about turning to loved ones to share what they are feeling and experiencing.

I have a couple of stories of friends who have come out to me. 

The first coming out story that I remember actually helped change my perspective on homosexuality.  I was raised that being gay was wrong.  It's a sin, it's not God's way.  I've obviously not followed that line of thinking.  In high school, there was a young man that I really respected.  He was quiet, he was brilliant, he was gentle, he was shy.  He had a good group of friends.  I think it was our senior year when he came out.  It blew my mind.  He was nothing like what I had in my head as an image of a gay person.  My first exposure to gay people had been a few years prior when I accidentally happened upon a gay pride parade in San Francisco.  That sparked my interest in the culture but also set a very flamboyant and colorful picture in my head of what a gay person is supposed to be like.  But this guy in my class was nothing like that- he was so "normal."  That's what started to crack my blinders, I think. 

The next story was more dramatic and traumatic and personal.  A very close friend had a hard time facing his sexuality and spun into an out of control hurricane of nuttiness when the feelings started to really emerge.  Instead of opening up to his friends, he pushed us away.  He pushed really hard.  None of us knew what was going on- just that he was aiming to hurt us, hurt himself, and that he wanted nothing to do with us anymore.  My friends and I eventually heard of his coming out through the grapevine.  The sad thing is that because he had started down a slippery slope and wasn't taking care of himself and he had distanced himself in hard ways from his friends, rumors swirled pretty aggressively for several months.  He had been my best friend and it was a hard situation to deal with.  It took almost a year before we started to reconcile.  And we ended up closer than ever- he's my soul mate BFF.

Another story was an adult friend who came out after many years of marriage and several kids.  And it was also traumatic.  I wish we'd been clsoer friends so I could have been more of a support to him.  I was an important piece of his story but if we'd known each other longer, I could have been more, I think.  The tragedy was that the people who who he thought were his support system ended up turning on him in some very hurtful ways.  The blessing was that there were people who stepped up in love and support that were very much needed. 

What I want you to know is that I am a safe person to talk to about feelings or thoughts you might be having.  I want you to know that I won't judge you or turn you away or tell you that you're dirty or wrong or unlovable.  I want you to know that if you call me up and tell me that you're gay, I'm going to smile on my end of the line and I'm going to tell you that I love you and that I'm proud of you and that I'm honored that you trust me.  If you tell me face to face, there will be hugs for you.  And I will be celebrating with you and for you. 

It's National Coming Out Day!  It's a day that should be about celebrating who you are.  And I think it's a day that should be about more than gay people revealing their sexuality to others.  I think it's a day when straight allies should be unashamed to stand up in support of the LGBTQ community.  I'm out and I'm proud as an ally who gives a damn!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Post: Make Awesome, Not Excuses

Looking for a dose of inspiration and motivation?  My friend Leilan may have just what you're looking for.  Leilan is a husband, dad, social media master, and all around great guy.  And this post... well, read it for yourself!


I want to thank Liz for letting me write this guest post about being awesome and not making excuses. If you want another avenue to achieve awesomeness, this post may be for you.

There are two types of people. Those who make awesome and those who make excuses.  Seriously, look at the people who are successful. Look at what they do. STUDY THEM! They will teach you how to be successful in goal killing. They strive to overcome, regardless of the obstacle. They are successful because they are goal driven individuals. Successful people do not want to fail. If they do fail, it is a learning experience. People who constantly make excuses rarely complete their goals. They mean well. There are certain events that happen, these obstacles prevent goals from not being hit. 

When I was younger. I made excuses for not finishing my college degree. I have to work, I have to do this. I have to do that. I made excuses, lots of excuses. Instead of working on my college education I made excuses. I made excuses for lots of things in my life.  My excuses were the reason I failed at a lot of goals when I was younger. Later in life, I made graduating college a goal. Made sacrifices, and graduated with an undergrad degree and got into grad school. Grad school, to my 1995 self, was like becoming an astronaut. Impossible.

Two years ago, I signed up to complete a marathon. I am not a runner and people thought I was a crazy fat guy. I am a fat guy who is a goal killer. I like to complete goals. My goal was to complete a marathon. I found a marathon training schedule and followed it to the letter. If it said run, I ran. If it said rest, I rested. In November of 2010, I completed my first 26 mile run. I am now an overweight elite athlete.

I share this with you not to brag that I completed a marathon. Well, kind of and sort of. I completed 2.96 marathons. I will beat the Carmel Marathon next April. Completing the marathon was all I thought about in the months leading up to it. I read blogs, I followed runners and marathons on Twitter. I ran every morning in a mall parking lot. I went to bed early and didn't watch any television. To overcome the boredom of running, I kept visualizing crossing the finish line of my first marathon.

If you want to be awesome and a goal killer, focus on the goal. Instead of making excuses, find ways to overcome the obstacles. One of the big lessons I learned over the years is that if there's a will, there's a way. Even after you start to make this life change, you will still be moved to tears when you complete goals which require sacrifices. 

Goal killing is an emotional activity. If you're not crying when you complete these goals, you need to push yourself harder. I am almost brought to tears every time I think of my marathon finishes or college graduation. Every single time. You can do this, I believe in you.

Take care and thank you for reading,
Are you with me?


I'm feeling like I'm ready to start looking at some bigger goals now!  To go along with choosing awesome, I have to wonder about the barriers I put on myself - the excuses that I make to not even set those bigger goals.

Challenge - taken!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm looking at finding ways to be more organized.

Because I went through all kinds of changes in my job in the last 2 years, my home has fallen apart.  I am so exhausted after getting the kids to bed that it's all I can do to stay awake on the couch most nights.

I've been finding the upswing again and my attitude is more positive and I have been feeling much more like myself again.  It's fantastic!

But I am finding that I have to dig myself out of a hole.  I have to stay on top of things as best as I can at work and I have to get organized to get my house in some semblance of order.

While I was in Florida last month, Jeff surprised me with new kitchen cabinets and counters.  We only had cabinets and counters on one side of the room and now have all wall space filled with cabinets and countertops.  We are still working out the details of the shelving we were using before so the kitchen continues to be a work in progress.  But the good news is that we have been steadily working on it - purging and tossing and scrubbing.

At work, I have found that the overwhelming work load feels more controllable when I make lists.  I've never been much of a list maker - or maybe I will make one list and then let it go.  But I am writing up lists of work tasks almost daily.  At the end of the day, I take what hasn't been crossed off and put it on the list for the next day.  It's handwritten, it's basic and rudimentary, and it is totally working.

Now I'm trying to figure out the best method to work on my home.

Do I make a list?  Right now, that honestly feels overwhelming.

Dedicate 15 minutes each night to doing something around the house - folding laundry, run the vacuum, clean the bathroom?

Have a set workday where we tackle big projects?

And I somehow have to get the entire family to buy into the plan.  It has to be a group effort.  The kids have a toy situation that is out of control.  No matter how many times I pick up all the toys in the living room, those toys are spread out all over the floor again within an hour.  Maybe it's time to be more drastic and get serious about cleaning out the playroom and all toys get moved to the playroom.

Jeff has to be part of it, too.  A lot of the projects surround areas that are filled with his stuff - and I only push it off on him because he doesn't want me to touch his stuff.  But he's in the same boat I am - he's tired at the end of the day, he's been picking up a lot of my slack with the kids, and we have busy schedules with church and activities.  Plus, convincing him that we need to purge and not just store stuff can be a challenge.

I also need to know the best way to sell or get rid of bigger items.  We have a big screen TV sitting in our living room that needs a home- and will eventually need a new projector lamp or something.  Do we try to donate it somewhere?  Sell it?  We have shelving that could be very useful in the basement or garage but we don't have room to get them in place down there because we have get rid of all the stuff first.

When you have to tackle a big project and you know it isn't going to be a one day thing and you know it has to be ongoing... how do you manage it?  How do you get yourself motivated and organized?


Monday, October 8, 2012

What's Anger Really About?

Don't you love lightbulb moments?  When light is suddenly shown on something in a new way and it clicks in your head and makes things comprehensible?

That happened to me today.

We were in a team meeting and we were meeting with the EAP lady (Employee Assistance - the group you call when you have stress, emotional issues, whatever).  Our group has been through the ringer with changes in the last 6 months - and even longer.

We talked about a lot of things but one thing has really stayed with me.

What's underneath anger?  What is the base for why someone has an angry response to something?

Feeling devalued.


I started thinking about situations where people get angry due to bad customer service.  Or in traffic situations.  Or in a grocery store.  Or in my workplace.  I started thinking about the times that I get angry.  And I could easily draw a line directly to what I was really feeling - devalued.

So much of my negative feelings surrounding my job is actually based in feeling devalued.

When I've heard others rant about a problem, vent about a spouse, complain about a child's teacher... they don't feel valued.

Doesn't that seem powerful?  Doesn't it feel like there is so much room to make easy improvements in our lives and the lives of others by knowing that?  When you see someone getting angry at you, can you pause and figure out where they are feeling devalued and how you can correct that?  When you feel yourself getting angry, do a value check.

And the biggest key for me is realizing that feeling valued needs to be in line with my priorities.  It's most important to know that I am valued by God, by my husband, my kids, by my friends and family.  Feeling valuable in my workplace is important and it's something I've been able to communicate to some people lately - but not being able to connect my feelings of anger and resentment to that sense of not feeling valuable.  When I have a strong sense of value based in the areas of top priority, that sense of value can transcend into other areas.

Valuable - very important, priceless, admired, appreciated, cherished, respected, worthwhile.

Devalued - beat down, belittle, disable, minimize, deflate, cheapen.

It's easy to see what list I want to fall under.  And what list I want other people in my life fall under.  I want people around me to feel that I value them.

What can you do today to feel more valuable in your own right?  And what can you do to show someone else that you value them?


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Disney Boot Camp

We are taking the plunge.

After going to Disney World for the Experience Conference in September, I came home knowing that I had to take my family to Disney.  The time is right.

We plan to go in June.  Teagan will be 8 at that point and Zach will be 5 1/2.

We aren't making the trip a surprise.  While I love it when I get to watch videos or see pictures of other families that do the surprise thing, we decided against it.  Because we don't go on Big Vacations every year, it is really something special for us to be planning a trip to Disney World.  And a trip to Disney isn't cheap.  It's less expensive than I was planning, thankfully.  But to really "do Disney," you have to be prepared to spend some money for it.  We've already decided that we will do less spending at Christmas this year.  We will do less for birthdays (after Zach's - he is turning 5 in a few weeks and we do celebrate 5 as a milestone so he will have his first party with friends).  This trip will also be a celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary next fall.

We will be going when we can spend a day at Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends which will be awesome for Jeff.

We are going to stay at the resort I fell in love with when I was there - Port Orleans, French Quarter.

And the kids will get to be at Disney.

Which means we have work to do.

We are making plans to brush up on our love of Disney.  We watch a wide variety of movies and shows and there isn't a huge focus on Disney and we don't make a point of showing what is or isn't Disney.  But that is going to change for the next 9 months as we work closer and closer to Disney World.

We are gathering up our Disney movies.  We are getting familiar with Disney, Pixar, Muppets, and more.  I want the kids to be excited about the characters and familiar with what they see when we are there.  Jeff has the perfect opportunity to get the kids fully versed in Star Wars.  They will also need to know something about Indiana Jones and Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

I am pulling out my Disney stuff from my obsession period in college.  Sweatshirts, jackets, t-shirts, nightshirts.  My faves in college were anything Winnie the Pooh (except Piglet - never had much of a soft spot for him), the Fox and the Hound, Lady and the Tramp, and Grumpy (Snow White).  I have (and still have) a Grumpy night shirt, a Grumpy sweatshirt, a Pooh Bear sweatshirt, a denim jacket with the entire Pooh crew embroidered on the back, Grumpy slippers, and more.  I wish I knew what happened to the watches I used to have - my favorites were a Fox & Hound watch and a Goofy watch that ran backwards.

I have many friends who are Disney experts and know the ins and outs of the best places to stay, best places to eat, hidden adventures and all that fun stuff.  I'm not one of those people.  My mom took me to Disney World for a 1 day visit when I was 5.  I don't remember most of it but while I was there in September, I did have a lot of memories of the place that I know came from that trip.  Jeff went once for a family vacation when he was in 6th grade.  We don't know anything about the resorts, the restaurants, the rides, the parks, the transportation.  It is hugely overwhelming to think about trying to plan a trip to a place that you really know nothing about.

Which is why I'm thankful to have my friend, Katie.

Katie is a travel agent with Hi Ho Vacations.  She and I met to talk about the best time of year to go (I had thought we could go over Fall Break next year and she's the one who tipped me off to Star Wars Weekends in June and that the park is often less crowded the first week of June since a lot of schools are still in session).  We talked about the different resorts and what they offer.  We talked about places to eat and the Disney Dining Plan.  She is fluent in Disney - and I'm not.  And I don't have the time to get myself fluent in Disney.  Best of all, her service to us is free.  And she can help anyone, anywhere, with any Disney trip.

Our trip is booked, we have arranged a payment plan, and Katie will be keeping an eye out for any special discounts offered by Disney between now and then that we can apply to our trip.

Because I have Katie in charge of the details of the trip, my family and I can concentrate on the important stuff - getting completely immersed in all things Disney!

Pretty soon, Katie is going to guest blog here a few times.  I'm even going to place an ad for Hi Ho Vacations on my blog.  I'm getting nothing for it - no special discounts on our trip, no payment.  I just really believe in the service Katie provides and I want more people to know about it.  Because she can work with you well in advance and can set up a payment plan, I really think Disney can be something most families can enjoy!

Most important part of all...  I need to know all your Disney favorites!  If you've been to Disney World, tell me your favorite things.  If you're a Disney fan, tell me your favorite characters, movies, princesses... Help me with our Disney Boot Camp!


Friday, October 5, 2012


In yesterday's post, I shared that I've been getting some consistent messages and that I'm waiting to see how they all end up fitting together.  After I posted, I checked my email and realized I hadn't read my Upper Room Daily Devotional from the day before.

Wednesday was Birth Day.  Seriously.

It blew my mind - the devotional was about birth.  About rebirth, specifically.

Jesus answered [Nicodemus], “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.”
- John 3:3 (TEV)

Today's Devotional

Growing up, I sometimes found it discouraging that I couldn’t remember an exact moment when I became a Christian. Then I feared that I couldn’t remember it because I had actually never become a Christian at all. This worry would inspire me to commit my life again to Jesus in some sort of childlike, salvation-insurance prayer.

As a teenager I didn’t have a dramatic testimony to give when I went to Christian camp. I often wasn’t sure what to say when people asked when and how I became a Christian. When others would talk enthusiastically about a powerful, definitive time of conversion, I was left feeling as if my Christian faith wasn’t as good as theirs — simply because I could not look back and identify a point when my Christian walk began.

With time, I have come to realize that my experience of being born again spiritually can be much like being born physically. I don’t remember when I was born, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Neither does the fact that I don’t remember when I was born as a Christian mean that it didn’t happen. The evidence of my natural birth can be seen in my life as I live, just as I hope the evidence of my life in Christ can be seen as I grow in my faith and seek to love, serve, honor, and obey God in everything I do.

Joanna Ronalds (Victoria, Australia)

Thought for the Day: The evidence of new birth is a changed life.
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the assurance we can have of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Prayer Focus: Those who do not yet know God

Wednesday evening, I had a very busy thing going on at church.  Each Weds is our mid-week time at church.  We have food teams who prepare a meal that people come to enjoy, we share announcement, joy, concerns and we pray, and then we head into small groups to share God and learning and community and so on.

This past week, I was filling in for Pastor Jennifer to lead the Christmas program practice with the kids.  I had finished up the rework of the script we are using (making it personal and assigning the speaking parts) and the kids were eager to find out their parts and read through the lines.

Since it's a Christmas program, it's obvious that it's about the birth of Jesus.  Birth.

I normally spend my Weds evening with our healthy living group.  Since I couldn't be there this week, I printed out the devotion for my co-leader (who happens to be pregnant).  The title of the devotion?  Labor. And the subject was the importance of birth stories to mothers and what Mary's experience must have been like.  It spoke to me in terms of the connectedness between Mary as a birthing mother and me and other birth moms since that is an experience that hasn't changed that much in a thousand years.  Birth.

 After finishing with the kids, I went over to join the group that Jeff was in.  He's been helping to facilitate a small group study that looks at the story of Jesus and the story of Superman.  And the topics being touched on that night?  You guessed it - birth.

Wednesday was also a day that I spoke up in a big way in my workplace and I think may be the start, if I continue to follow through, of some development and changes for me down the road.

Birth.  Rebirth.  Beginning.  Start.

I had lunch with a friend on Thursday and was telling her a little bit about my job stuff and the path I've been on spiritually with it.  And something I said was that after hitting a serious low back in June, I finally am starting to again feel like myself.  I had gone through a time when I knew my job stress was a serious problem, it was impacting my health, my parenting, my marriage.  I didn't feel like myself, I didn't much like how I was feeling, and I didn't know what to do about it.  I prayed a lot, I sought support from friends, and I prayed even more.

And now I feel like me again.  I feel my passion and energy and excitement returning.

Look back at the Upper Room devotion where it says Thought for the Day.

The evidence of new birth is a changed life.

I'd say my life has changed a lot in the past 5 months.  Given how I feel today and how I felt back in June, there is definite evidence of new birth.

I've been reborn.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


You know how you suddenly realize that there is a strong theme running through your life in a short period of time?  Like you keep seeing the same things over and over?

I've got that going on right now and I think there is something that will come from it when all the pieces come together.

When I went to the Experience Conference, I had a definite sense that I had a definite reason for being there.   There wasn't some big "ah-ha" moment and I didn't come home with a new life mission.  But there is a lot I took from it that I am treasuring still.

In the past month since the Conference, there has been a lot of change for me in a lot of ways.  Not the Big Change kinds of things like losing a job, getting a new job, divorce, marriage, babies, moving, and all those other big changes your doctor has to ask you about at your annual physical.  But Big Changes where I see myself doing things I never imagined, saying things I never thought I'd say, and seeing things that are definitely moving me towards something.

When our group was impacted by the announcement of layoffs 2 months ago, I found a purpose for myself in my workplace.  I have a spiritual gift for working with people who are hurting so I had an opportunity to minster to my friends and co-workers through a difficult 6 weeks as the layoff deadline approached.

Since that time, I have found strength to take some actions and say some things in my work environment that I might not normally say or do.  And I'm getting positive feedback thus far.

That's all well and good and I note it simply because I'm guessing there is something to it that will play out into my bigger puzzle at some point down the road.

Then there are the common themes that have been popping up for me.

The first one is birth.  Specifically the birth of Jesus. I have had multiple and very direct God experiences about the birth of Christ.  All were at church or connected to my church.  And all were on the same night.

The second one is surrender.

And I'm not sure I can find the words for the rest of it - it's still forming.

Have you ever just known in your gut that things are forming and changing and about to happen?  That messages are repeating around you and you have to patiently wait for all the pieces to come together?


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Surfing Coffee Bean

Earlier this year, I posted about realizing that I'd been a mushy carrot instead of a coffee bean.

Today, I realized that I have taken hold of being a coffee bean pretty well.  Even as things have gotten harder and more and more Big Changes are happening at work, I've been having more good days than bad.

But it isn't every day.  There are days when the announcements and changes still rock my world or leave me in the dumps.  There are days when the overwhelming work load truly overwhelms me.  There are days when I feel like I'm drowning or that I've given up fighting the undertow and am just sinking under the water.

And then there are days when I feel happy and strong and blessed.  There are days when I know that I won't get all the work done, I won't please everyone, I'm going to make mistakes - but I can smile through it and let it roll.  There will be comments made or emails sent with a hurtful tone but I can overlook the personal side of it and focus on the business aspects.

I start my day praying out loud in my car.  I leave the radio off and spend time thinking about people in my life and lifting them up in prayer, stating specific prayer concerns, and also just being quiet and letting my heart be open.

It's the start of the brewing process for my day as a coffee bean.

I've been thinking a lot lately about attitude and mindset and where a person's heart is and all those things that really impact how we live each day.

I feel like I'm back to riding the waves - the ocean hasn't changed but I'm staying on my surfboard more steadily.

But how do I pull myself back onto the surfboard on days when a wave knocks me down?

How do I make sure I'm being a coffee bean on the days when the boiling water doesn't stop pouring?

There are lots of practical answers that I do practice- like stopping to pray, listening to uplifting music, being sure to take some sort of break.  But that doesn't always work.  And those are the days that I struggle with, those are the days I want to have answers on why I can't just make a better choice, get back on the surfboard, and ride the waves.

I'm mixing my metaphors.  Now I have this image of me as a coffee bean, riding a surfboard.  Which is weird.

The surf is getting choppy.  The water is starting to boil.  So what does a surfing coffee bean do about it?

Or maybe the waters are calm and it's time to sit on the shore and take in the view.  The coffee has been made and it's time to sit back and take in the aroma.

Maybe mixed metaphors help with the imagery that leads to those better choices, leads to being able to choose my attitude, choose my responses, choose how my day goes.

Bottom line is that life (primarily in my job) has all the same struggles that it has had for the past year.  In fact, there are more.  But my attitude and my faith (and my metaphors) are getting me through it and I feel more like my normal self and less like the stressed out, frustrated, broken person that I had been.

Chillax, dudes.  It's all good.