Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Jewel of a Resource (new to me!)

I've always been a fan of Stormie Omartian, and LOVED her books "The Power of a Praying Wife" and "The Power of a Praying Husband". I still refer them to newlyweds (and soon to be newlyweds, or even to singles that WANT to be married, to pray the prayers over their yet unknown spouse). 

The other day...well, maybe a week or more ago, I was at the DaySpring Outlet Store in Siloam Springs, AR (off of 412, just west of the Walmart in the shopping center...turn at the light like you're going into Walmart, but then turn LEFT into the other shopping center - only open M-F).

I go there a few times a month, to spend my paycheck  to look for items that may have been returned, or to check out the monthly sales specials, or buy something I actually NEED; which was my goal on that particular day. I needed graduation cards. And wedding cards. And I thought I'd get a DayBrightener for an acquaintance that is suffering from chronic pain issues, and depression.

As I looked around, I was looking at the DayBrighteners in their display, and remembered that the women's minister at New Heights always gives Stormie Omartian's "The Power of a Praying Parent" to new parents. It's her thing. It's what she ALWAYS gives. So I thought I'd look to see if there were any on the shelf for her (I have bought them, and she just reimburses me, because she's not ever been here before!). Well, there were none to be found today, but there was one called "Prayers for Emotional Wholeness," also by Stormie, and it caught my eye. 

I didn't have a lot of time to go through it, but I trust her prayers; I've prayed them for many years! I've met her, and heard her speak at Crossroads Christian Church as a part of the Fresh Ground Faith tour. I may not be a groupie, but I'm a HUGE fan of her work, her words, and the way God's used her testimony of healing her brokenness. He made beautiful things from the ashes of her life, and forgiveness rings true in her life. If I could be discipled/mentored by any one woman, I'd pick her. 

So I thought this would be a great gift for my acquaintance, and got one for her...but I haven't seen her to give it to her. :(  So it's been on my desk, waiting to take the ride to her house since I got it. 

And as I was working on my FB posting for DaySpring yesterday, I was sort of stuck in a rut - and wanted to break out; so remembering I was recently told that there are thousands of DayBrighteners that I could use as posts, I picked up that perpetual calendar and just read what it said for that day:

May 29

Lord, deliver me from the hands of the enemy. Help me be set free
from anything and anyone who would try to harm me in any way. 
I thank You that You are my protector adn the liberator of my soul. 
If ever I am tempted to step out from under the covering of 
Your protection, deliver me from that temptation, too. 
Thank You for restoring me to complete wholeness. 

The Lord shall help them and deliver them; 
He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, 
because they trust in Him.  
Psalm 37:40

It struck straight to my heart. I've been praying (ok, and a little bit worrying) about the upcoming wedding. It's a lot of stress, and quite frankly - it all scares me - all those unknowns of how people will get along, react, respond. I know that walking through this wedding and the preparations was going to move me out of my comfort zone, and God was going to have to grow me in new ways; grow my FAITH in new ways too!! 

I truly believe that this calendar was something God wanted me to have in my hands for ME to put to use. It's very comforting, very freeing! Today's prayer read:

May 30

Lord, You are my Savior and deliverer. Set me free from my fears
and replace them with new faith. Liberate me from memories that  
serve no good in my life. Replace them with memories of Your
goodness to me. Help me learn to praise and worship You for all
that You are to me. Help me to remember to thank You often
every day for all that You are doing in my life.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Psalm 40:13

I am going to have to order one for me (or for my friend) and I think get a few more to have on hand for friends when they face crisis and need emotional healing. I can think of 4 friends off the top of my head that I will get one for. :) 

You can order them online here at the site.  Browse around too - and check out their other items and sales (the sales are GREAT!!) and check out the Heart Connection Card Club if you send a lot of cards to people (the savings are great...and sign up for the card club before ordering anything online from the store, because you get a discount on your orders from!!). 

Well, I hope you are blessed, and that the prayers inspired by Stormie help guide us all deeper in our relationship and trust of Jesus Christ as our Lord. I'm all about new growth, and need it so much - especially in the emotional healing areas of my life!! :) 

How about you? Is there a favorite tool, book, author, that inspires you to new growth in the hard and scarred areas of your life? I'd love to hear about what's worked for you!! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun and Games Anyone??

Our LONG-TIME friends, M and K vdL came to visit us last weekend. They were staying in Branson, a central connecting place for them with their kids, just a few hours from us. They came by our house as they were headed out of town, and we shared brunch together with them. It was so good to see them, for us all to get together! I had seen them a few days before, as I drove out to Branson, and we played games and shared a simple meal before I headed back home. We had seen them last 2 years ago, when we went to CA for a week's vacation, catching up with family and friends then. They are some of our oldest and dearest friends. We can always pick up life RIGHT where we'd left off. We always have time for a meal together, or a game, or just a long talk. It's always good. 

Since we'd just made the decision to shake up our life and expand our church horizons, it got me thinking; what makes for a good friendship relationship, how is it different from meeting a kindred spirit, and where does having fun play into all this?? Was it odd that we could go a year, or 2, or 10 with the vdL's and pick up life right where we left off? It's a delight to have both the wives and husbands get along in this of the few we've experienced (we left a few behind in KY too), but how do they really come into formation? Is there anything you can do to nurture those friendships? Help them along? 

Do people just not get together any more? Do women meet in secret to share coffee, pray for their marriages, each other, and get together for fun and games? Do they just not do it at all? 

My parents were not Christians, and they met together with folks that they knew - from work (?) - I honestly don't know where they met these people!! Likely, they were friends of friends, that moved from the "old neighborhood back east", and were given a phone number for someone to know when they moved to Southern CA. I know that there wasn't a blood relation between I think they just got to know each other from a mutual friend. There certainly wasn't any social media to point them to "a friend of a friend" or make it easy to look for friends in common. There wasn't an online chat site available, and they didn't belong to a church; unless they met at one of the few Armenian Church activities that we took my grandma to. 

One couple, the B's, had kids older than me, and their youngest was a girl my age. We weren't really alike, but we were all kids, and sworn to the "kids table" for activities while our parents laughed and played Tripoly all night long. They lived in North Hollywood, and always served food from the BEST Italian Deli in the world (I have no idea where it was, what it was called, how they got there).

I think we ALWAYS met at their house...I don't remember them ever coming to our house in North Torrance - and it was an hour away at least. Perhaps my parents loved the deli treats as much as I did and they realized that it was a better deal if they drove us all out to the B's house....and actually, it wasn't a house at all, but if I remember correctly, it was an apartment in a small complex! No pool or amenities for us to borrow while we were there, we were banished to the den to watch tv or play with Barbies. They would stop half-way through the night and break out an assortment of wonderful, tasty deli meats -my favorite pastrami, and basturma - that I didn't care for, but was coveted by those that liked it,  and the most AMAZING Italian pastries. I'm pretty sure that while my parents brought me up on Hostess Twinkies and Ding-Dong's, the B's only ever ate freshly made eclair's and cream puffs, napoleon's that were stacked higher than my hands could handle holding, and baklava that was so sticky - syrupy - clove infused - crispy - deliciousness....oh yum...

They did nothing more than play Tripoly, talk about work, family, friends, and eat (oh, they all smoked too... something that wasn't yet deemed unsafe for our health...and had an occasional mixed drink or beer). Still, I'm pretty sure that there wasn't more than my mom's Armenian heritage and some friend from the East Coast in common. His job - as an artist who did "touch ups" on photographs/film in the movie industry (long before computers!) - was no where close in connections to my dad's job as a Union Representative with the Bakers' Union. We were too far away for the mom's to get together. Although their family played tennis, that wasn't anything our family did, so we didn't have that connection, and the kids ages hop-scotched around - my mom's first 2 girls were older than their 2 oldest kids, who were well older than me...then their one daughter my age, and my little sister. It was just the 3 of us that were close in age, so it wasn't getting us together to let the kids play. They were clearly the one's having fun, just playing games and talking together...building community despite the differences. It was pure, social fun! Does anyone do that any more??

When Mark and I first got married, there were folks that we'd do the same thing with - get together for game night,  everyone bring something to eat or drink, and just have fun together. Maybe watch a movie, or a TV show (I remember getting together with the C's after they were first married, I was still single, and we had a M*A*S*H* party for the last episode!). Just an excuse to get together. Enjoy each other. Have fun. Do life. 

Was it a California thing?? I don't think so, as I vaguely remember getting together with friends we had when we lived in GA - but wait - a  lot of them were from CA too! I'm just not sure.... what has changed in society? What have we lost in our culture that keeps these barriers up and puts boundaries between people that might have a deeper sense of community. Are we too competitive? I know that technology has an effect now, but this was something we longed for during our 18 years in the desert too...and something we had found again the almost 3 years we lived in Kentucky. A real sense of community....and fun!!

I'm glad to see that the group we were in back in KY is still meeting, still studying God's word together, still praying for each other. I'm happy to see that they still get together for picnics and game nights, and 5k runs, and sharing meals. What a beautiful thing. 

(I miss them so)

I pray, when the season is right, that we'll gain a group like that here, a mixed bag of people to share burdens and blessings, living life in real time, and loving each other as God's family. Not only meeting on appointed Bible Study nights, but multiple times during the week, for walks, praying, encouraging each other closer to God, and yes, fun and game nights! 


Interesting scripture I read today...taking it to heart:

Romans 9:20

The Message (MSG)
20-33 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:
I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
    I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
    they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
    and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
    salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
    Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
    had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
    like Sodom and Gomorrah.
How can we sum this up? All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actuallyembraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:
Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
    a stone you can’t get around.
But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,
    you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writing on not Writing

It's been a long time since I've written anything. ANYTHING. Not working on my blog, my writing project. OK, let me rephrase, not writing anything online. I have been writing a flurry of cards to those graduating. Marrying. Grieving. 

Sometimes I think writing notes that are personal and heartfelt can suck the words right out of me. Really. OH, and SPEAKING those words seems to leave my fingertips numb and empty too. Really. 

Can I get an "AMEN" on that??

So, that's probably the biggest thing taking my words - a new friend that for a few weeks took every word I had. She held them near, listened intently, spoke affirming words into them and showed me where God was working, all while sharing her own story of life over these past 30 years or so (not counting many words on the first 15 more...). God working. Moving. Moving them. Around. Moving them up and down valleys and hills, deep ravines and mountain tops. 

We've traveled them all, haven't we? And 50 rolls around and when we are sitting still and squirming in the uncomfortable that others are content to be in....and I'm wondering "why are we not moving, God? Why are my bags not packed, and dishes are on shelves and beds made up? Why am I HERE?" 

I want to say "stuck here again" - meaning that although this looks different, it feels very much like the 18 years in the wilderness... and I don't want to write about that, so I'll stop and get back to writing about not writing.

So, in the painful seasons - the most painful, most hurtful, most tragic - my words run freely. And in the pain of stagnant, my words are stuck in my throat, my fingertips. And. they. can't. move. There's a guttural groaning that goes on, they want to speak out, want to find their voice - but they can't. 

They spill out over tea, prayers whispered between meetings and drunk in deep over lunch. Secrets shared over health issues of being "middle aged" and longing to be HOME as in heaven, and nothing will satisfy as deeply as sitting at Jesus' feet and being a Mary...yet I Martha along... dilly dallying in keeping house and entertaining strangers during storms of life and always doing SOMETHING to keep me from doing that ONE THING He calls me to do. Write.

SO, a week ago, on a rushed, long, road trip - Mark and I had time to talk. More words verbally floating out of my soul (and not blogged, or written, but good, healthy, fun - to - finally - be - together - and - talk - way) and we got it all talked out. 

Discontent. Over-worked and under-joyed. Distracted. Disconnected. It's how we feel about most of the things in our life. Besides our work, work. The jobs we get paid for. THOSE are fulfilling, life - giving, relationship building. Fun. Pointing others to Christ. Fruitful.

But everything ministry focused - the stuff that usually left us filled to overflowing. Was, well, leaving us incredibly empty. Suck the air out of our empty lungs empty.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

Now it's quite possible that we have been going to church with you over the past 9 months... and it's possible that you, in fact, don't suck the breath out of us. But you, friend, are the minority. And even then, have we done any life together? Have we broke bread? Done a double date night? Cried together in a hospital room? Because these are the things - REAL COMMUNITY - that we are missing. 

I don't want this to be a downer post on how life is meaningless and that God's not moving - because it has GREAT meaning, and God is moving in BIG ways... in BRAVE ways. Giving me the ability to be SUPER BRAVE and let go of the good things He was doing in my life through Global Outfitters, and equip me to step out from that umbrella to do the INCREDIBLE thing of just writing. Ok, not JUST writing. But getting that Missionary Care handbook written. Not because my job depended on it - because it didn't have anything to do with the work that I was doing there (and although I get lots of encouragement in my "real" job - it has nothing to do with that either!). It's a God driven step that I need to take. NOW. I put it off since January - no one to blame but me. And it's long overdue. Getting this little pamphlet done. This give-away. And God used this new friend from a far-away place to push me back into my word writing again. After I spoke the God-sized dream to her...she stepped up into the role of (in)courager in MY life....and is holding me accountable to my words.

So many of you have been waiting for words from me...oh, not the book kind, but just the "what the heck is going on?" kind. Thanks for being patient. For waiting. Life's been changing and it's all good. 

You remember when I wrote on the vision of "wHim"?? Well, it turns out - there's more to that than I realized. And it starts with this booklet, a user friendly guide to Missionary Care. It will be free. It will be online as an upload. It won't be too long before it's completed - end of summer TOPS. Along with that will come a logo for "wHim" and the description in more finite terms of what we will do there. Equipping for Missionary Care. Education. Resources to places for resources. Yes. Yes. Yes. But also, a year from fall, should God will, a trip. A journey - strategically placed around the world to prayer walk in places He wants to move...which is funny in a sense - because as I pray about this God-sized dream - I speak prayers into these places daily - so I know that God is at work already - preparing the way for us to walk and speak words of spiritual release in places of bondage. Pray with us??

OH - prayer - that other place that I'm getting more comfortable in doing it alone. I LONG for a friend that will pray for an hour - dance that prayer dance of silence, adoration, worship, meditation, truth, and supplication - oh, where are my Lori/Lorie/Laura's here?? :)  

(side note: in KY I went to a church in Evansville, IN - Crossroads - and had 3 friends, Lori, Lori and Laura, that prayed with me fairly regularly - and also a longtime friend and fellow prayer warrior Lorie, who lives in AZ - who I DO get to pray with and for - but also miss very much!!)

Mark claims I collect Lori/Lorie/Lauras - but truth is - sometimes they are my life line. They speak truth and light into my life. They shake me up a bit and remind me who I am. They love me unconditionally. I love them. (and miss them!!) We cheer each other on in life, in Christ, in mom/grandma hood. 


So, now they cheer me on towards the goal. The words. The writing of them, getting them out of my heart, my head, and pushing forward to the end. Of summer. That goal. And throw a Louise in the group, and that's who is hard-lining me, not just pushing me, but holding me accountable - because she can! She doesn't love me like the Lori/Lorie/Laura's do (yet) so she can push hard. And this is good. These words need to be counted, a clock set for more than 5 minutes and for me to show my work done - good and faithful servant. Because I've cast this vision before, and the people I shared it with were lacking drive, vision, and I was perishing. SO I'm grateful for the Louise in my life (and praising God there's only ONE!!) who will take time to know me, share my vision, and give me a little push. I've never had a dream before - never a God-sized one - and she's willing to push, pull and prod me to make a go of it! 

Thank You God!! 

So, my writing on not writing is about getting out those words on paper, on a screen, and seeing them printed up and chewed up and spit out, if needed. It's about taking a design in my head, impressed deep on my heart, and pushing it - laboring it- bearing it on the knees of a prayer - letting it take breath and live. 

And blogging about it all was the first step - well, the second step...the first one was getting my room reorganized so I had a comfy place to write in...and I'll write from there all day!! 

Yes, ok - not ALL day, but a lot of day, and a few days a week, every week, until it's completed. If God wills....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Book Review... Freefall to Fly

Freefall to Fly - A breathtaking journey toward a life of meaning
by Rebekah Lyons 
Tyndale House Publishing, 2013

I don't know why it took me so long to read this book. I had wanted to from the first time I'd heard about it. I loved the idea of it, and thought that although it was a much younger mom writing it, I could draw deep from the well of her words. I knew it would build from a different direction than Holley Gerths' Your Already Amazing - and it did. And it built well. Where Holley's great book was more how-to, and clinical, this was approached as telling her life story, and it nearly read as a novel. It is a glimpse inside her life, from where she shares - not meant to be a diagnosis, a prescription - just sharing what God's shown her. What she's learned. It was quite good!

Rebekah Lyons has a great way with words. She gives you the facts, not just the facts, but in a oh, so, sitting across the table from you way. She is a story teller - sharing with words that come deep from within. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read, as if I were listening to her speak. It's so easy to hear her voice through her writing. So good. There were so many "tweetable" quotes in each chapter, and I'm sure I'll be using this book for materials as I speak to other women. 

Her story itself is quite amazing, and I thought of a dozen (or more) friends that I thought could relate to SOME part of her life. Her lessons. I thought over and over of a favorite phrase of mine, "You can learn from my mistakes, and it won't cost you anything," and I think that it would fit well in learning from her life, mistakes and victories all. 

I highly recommend this book to any woman of any age. Her circumstances are only the props of the deeper story she tells, of growing in God in new ways, recognizing He can be trusted with our lives. That He provides friendships for so much more than just being superficial in. Oh, how I will be praying for a group of women like she found, a community to do life with and discover His creation in!

I look forward to seeing what else she writes in the future. I'm definitely a fan. 

I wrote this review after receiving a complimentary copy of "Freefall to Fly" through Handlebar Hub, from Tyndale House Publishing . I received no monetary compensation for the writing of this review.

Friday, May 3, 2013

New Friendship


Ok, so I was a little sad after last weekend's BIG little conference, (in)RL - when I didn't get to bring home a large stack of emails and phone numbers. Disappointed at best. So, this week came as a big surprise to me when I just followed through with an email from the small groups pastor.

 :) Thanks to all of you that lift me up as God leads you.... He moved in bringing out another woman who is *about my age* (I don't really know how old she is, but her kids are about the same age as my kids, and we have mutually shared places around the same years, and are only a few months off in our anniversaries) and her husband travels about as much as mine does (for work, but another industry/ministry). I got to know her because someone sent an email suggesting we invite her to our "Community Group" - and she was brave enough to come. God's so good.

As we shared a meal (sans husbands) the other night, I told her how she was such an answer to prayer... but she told me it was the other way around. I think we are both right.

So then we wondered how our husbands would hit it off, and it *just happened* that they were both in town the same night this week - so we did a double date - and they got along fine. And they are game players. And they are strong in their faith, don't have life *perfectly figured out* and are new to the area.

God did really good on this new friendship. No matter how long it lasts, how long either of us will be in this city, we can fellowship, encourage, pray for each other - for such a time as this...

Thanks God.

Romans 12: Recipes for Good Relationship Part 1

  Romans 12 | Part 1 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather t...