Currently viewing the category: "Courageous Living"

We are seven days into the New Year. If it were any other year, I would be struggling with my list of New Year’s RESOLUTIONS and feeling miserable by now. You know, the list of things you want to change about yourself, behaviors and patterns from what has been your norm. Things like losing weight, exercising more, reading the bible in a year, being a better mom and wife, etc.

As I said before, I have determined that RESOLUTIONS are nothing more than me trying to take control over something in my life for which I never really had control. Thus, I set myself up for failure and all the lovely emotions of disappointment and self-loathing that accompany failure.

This year God has prompted me to rethink RESOLUTIONS. Rather than focusing on a list of RESOLUTIONS that involve my making changes, He has given me a WORD that He will use to refine me.hearts on cross wood jpg

The WORD is INTENTIONAL. It is taking action, purposely stepping out in God’s character, offering Him the driver’s seat of my life and allowing myself to be renewed by Him in this New Year.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) If we believe this statement to be true, then we must accept that we were designed to be like God, to have His character.

We cannot adopt God’s character by putting His characteristics down on a list and expecting to receive them by sheer will. It is through the Holy Spirit and our willingness and commitment to obeying God that brings about seeing Him in us. Read Full Article →

It’s that time again. Those few days in between the month spent at a dead run getting ready for all the festivities of the 24 hours that is Christmas which has now past and the coming of the New Year. That time when we tend to reflect on what was and look forward in anticipation of what is to come.Traffic Sign - Don't

A time many spend thinking about what they want to do differently in the coming year. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the time of preparing the dreaded “RESOLUTIONS.”  They are the plans we make for ourselves that usually include things like losing weight, eating healthy, exercising daily, cleaning out the clutter, the closet, making that scrapbook that you swore to make the year your child was born.

Have you ever noticed how RESOLUTIONS are rarely achieved? I believe it is because mapping out MY RESOLUTIONS is nothing more than me trying to take control over something in my life for which I never really had control. Even my most noble of goals, those related to others, end up being all about me and my sheer determination to take control of myself and the things around me so that something or someone will change to satisfy me. Read Full Article →

heart_mini I exited Walmart a couple of nights ago into a crowd of gawkers. There had been an accident. I breathed a sigh of relief as the woman on the ground being attended by three men was speaking in coherent sentences. As I scanned the crowd to figure out what happened I saw her. The woman in tears, clearly shaken and on her phone standing outside her car. She was the reason. I could hear the sirens as the fire engine and ambulance arrived followed almost immediately by a police car.

I started thinking, “What is happening here?” as my mind flashed to the images on the news from the day before, where just a block away, an SUV crashed into a Starbucks. Several people were injured, one critically. There were no drugs or alcohol involved, just a slip of the foot on the accelerator. I did not any of the people involved, but I have friends who did.

Within less than 24 hours in mid-December, the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, lives were changed. I doubt those involved would call it wonderful.  Not the man from a local ministry unexpectedly hit by a car in the middle of Starbucks while innocently holding a meeting, who has undergone one surgery and is facing another. Nor the poor woman lying on the ground in front of me who had been walking in the crosswalk from the parking lot towards Walmart and not for the women who were driving the cars, absentmindedly causing “accidents”. Read Full Article →

heart_miniI was filled with anticipation. Husband and I were off for a weekend away to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, albeit late. We spent our actual anniversary with daughter in Disneyland which is another story (Losing It!).

We wanted our weekend away to be special. Sadly, we both forgot about our anniversary on the day. I was reminded by a Happy Anniversary text. We both laughed and made excuses, but it left me feeling sad and a little unsettled. We have had a tough go of things and I had great hopes of this weekend rekindling some of what felt lost in our relationship.Woman running pathHeb12

We debated about where to go. Since we had just spent a small fortune at the Happiest and Close To The Most Expensive Place on Earth, we wanted to keep our trip in driving distance. We narrowed it down to either our house on the mountain at the lake or the charming town where we got married.

We decided since we go to the lake often, we would go back to where we were married. Husband made all the arrangements, tickets to the theater and booking the cabin where we spent our wedding night. I was excited and yet a little hesitant. A little voice kept whispering, “Go to lake”, but we had made the decision. Read Full Article →

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I saw this meme on a friend’s page on Facebook the other day and it made me laugh. I read it out loud to husband who also chuckled. I am not sure if it was sincere or obligatory in an attempt to ward off my using one of the words against him.Five Deadly Women Words

I know I have said these words in exactly that way and I bet many of you have as well. Whether you are male or female, I am sure you relate to this “secret” language that we are making light of here.

I started to share the post to have a laugh over it with friends but was stopped short. A sense of deep sadness swept over me as the truth about using this “secret” language or “code words” took hold.

We speak these code words, sometimes flippantly, in frustration, or maybe even in exasperation, expecting our spouses to understand.  We may even use these code words on our children, friends, or coworkers.

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heart_mini Of all the tough lessons God has been teaching me these past few months over managing relationships, impossible conversations, grief, and sorting through stuff, this one feels even harder. It is testing my patience, forcing me to be calm, presenting me with unanswerable questions, and presenting me with the ultimate question.PML Fire Jer29_11

For almost a week now I have been pensively watching the Rim Fire in California. It started at 16,000 acres last weekend and is up to over 126,000 as of this morning. It has even made national news as it has reached into Yosemite National Park (the high country, not the valley where all the amazing waterfalls and granite masterpieces reside) and because Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is at risk which provides San Francisco with water and much of its power.

For most people it is a stop and take notice for a brief second but for me it is consuming, an obsession. The most recent mandatory evacuation area for this fire is within ½ mile of my precious refuge, my father’s house on the mountain at the lake. There is so much irony in all of this as we have been engaging in hard conversations about what to do with the house, how to manage dad’s stuff, and next steps, which may all be mute. Read Full Article →

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Feeling great about navigating through the impossible conversation, sister and I began the process of sorting through Dad’s stuff in the house on the mountain at the lake. My heart ached realizing that all of his years of living were reduced to stuff on shelves, in closets, drawers and boxes. My dread was renewed at the sheer volume of stuff. Dad never threw anything away.blue flowers background Prov 15

I am not sure what compelled him to hang on to everything, and I mean everything. Like the American Kennel Club registration papers for the dog we had when I was a child, our sweet family dog who died when I was 13. Or the auto insurance policies to the Dodge station wagon (yes, the large green “Brady Bunch” wagon with the wood panel down the side) from 1972 through 1977. There were things like his childhood stuffed bear to every letter, birthday card and father’s day card I had ever sent him. Read Full Article →

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There we were, sister, stepmom and me, sitting at the table feeling apprehensive, knowing the impending discussion was one we had to have but not excited about any of it.  You know “the conversation” with the incredibly hard subject, everyone wanting something different, emotions running high, a lot at stake, and there is no perfect, let alone great outcome in sight.Calvario13_jpg

The time had finally arrived for us to start discussing what to do with dad’s house on the mountain at the lake.   I had invested so much time in thinking about it, talking to husband, praying for answers and I still felt uneasy and heavy-hearted. I could feel my throat tightening, wondering if I would even be able to speak when it was my turn. Read Full Article →

I have spent the past two weeks in pain. I mean literal pain, the kind of pain that hurts, that is debilitating and feels like it will never end.  The kind of pain that makes you feel sorry for yourself and compels others to feel sorry for you and secretly thankful that they are not you.

I spent a week at my dad’s home up in the mountains at the lake with my sister. We were starting the process of sorting through and reorganizing some our dad’s things and beginning the discussions between us and my stepmom about what to do with the house.  That is really when my pain began.

It started in my heart as my grief over the loss of my dad moved into the forefront of my mind with the dreaded discussion of what to do with his house that has become my special place, my retreat, and my refuge.  I could almost feel my heart bleed knowing that his wonderful house is going to become something different and likely belonging to someone different, sooner rather than later.

I am not entirely certain how I injured my back that week. We did do a lot of sorting through boxes and moving a few things around.   I also played with my wonderful 18-month-old giant of a nephew. I am not kidding about the giant part. He weighs 30 lbs. and is the size of a 3-year-old.

Whatever it was that started the spasms in my back left me in sheer agony, hurting so bad that the only place I could find marginal relief was on my side or flat on my back in bed.

It left me with lots of time to think through and experience my pain. I became so consumed by it that I even looked up the definition of pain: suffering, distress or torment that presents physically, emotionally or both.  Words used to describe pain are torture, misery, torment, ache, agony and anguish. That was me!

We have all experienced these emotions and my obvious conclusion is that pain stinks. Really, is there any other kind of pain? Before you stop reading because all I have done so far is complain, I want to share with you how God met me in the midst of one of my better pity parties to answer that question.

As I pondered all of these things, feeling horribly sorry for myself, daughter arrived. She lied down next to me and read to me as has been our custom all week. She was very careful about how she moved around me so as not to cause me greater pain. We read and talked and giggled and loved on each other. In the midst of my pain was beauty and God’s love poured over and through both of us as we spent that precious hour together.

It did not take my pain away, but it did bring me some relief, an opportunity to focus on something besides my suffering, distress, torment… you get the idea.

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Temptation is before me. It is strong. I am hearing that wretched little voice taunting me, telling me that it would make me feel better. I almost smile thinking of what it would be like in that moment. I am on the verge of jumping, falling into the pit on iniquity.

I am away for a couple of days on retreat. I am alone with my bible, my God, my laptop and the various wild animals about. I am in my magical place, my dad’s home in the sierra foothills outside of Yosemite. It is my place of renewal. I always hear from God here. I rest here. I take care of myself here.

It is so peaceful looking out the window at the trees, the deer that stop to nibble on fallen acorns and the oversized squirrel digging up its hidden treasures in the dirt-filled flower pots on the back deck. I remember my dad here and almost see his face, hear his voice.

It is my special place removed from the daily realities of life and stress. There is no dog here to be fed or wake me up in the middle of the night to go out. There is no child here to be dressed, fed, lunch made followed by the mad dash to school, the pick up after school, the homework, and the nighttime rituals. There is no husband here. He is home taking care of those things that are not here.

My euphoria is disrupted this morning by a phone call. It is daughter calling on her way to school to tell me she misses me and loves me. It is husband sounding rushed to get to the classroom before the door closes and a promise of a call on his way back home. I can hear the strain in his voice.

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