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Be Bold.. Be a Compass

No traveling allowed ! No camping allowed ! Anyone else going through withdrawals? As some of you know, my husband, Doug and I make it a priority to travel about every 2-3 months. We take anywhere from three days to two weeks off to explore and be in nature. We love to tent camp. It gives us a way to be a part of our beautiful surroundings.

Camping and traveling are not only fun past time activities for us. We consider them an avenue for our ministry. Before we leave on an adventure, we pray that God brings across our path people who need encouragement or prayer. We also ask that we meet people who will encourage and pray for us. Doug possesses the God-given boldness to approach complete strangers and strike up a conversation. Sometimes the conversation leads to prayer and sometimes its just good ole conversation. We have been blessed to meet some amazing people and experience some inspiring stories throughout our travels. Below is one story that still brings me to tears when I think about it.

It was late in the afternoon on a cloudy October day as we drove into the familiar town. We were at the end of a six hour drive to the cozy mountain house where we have stayed many times before. We stopped in town to get groceries and continued on our way. Doug saw a sign for an estate sale and wanted to stop. I protested. We were only three miles from the house and I just wanted to get there. We turned onto the road where the sign pointed and parked at the top of the steep driveway. At the bottom of the driveway was a small house. The yard was full of household goods, tools, children’s toys and clothes for sale. Inside the house, all the furnishing and appliances were also for sale. A young lady approached us. Soon her and Doug began talking while I browsed. She confided in him that she was going through a difficult time and had to sell everything. Doug told her about when he had been thorough a similar situation. Tears flowed down the young woman’s face. Doug asked her if we could pray together and she agreed. After we prayed, I hugged her and told her she is a daughter of the Almighty God who loves her immensely. I could feel her frail frame melt into mine. Through tears she whispered ” Thank You” as we walked up the driveway towards our car. As we sat in the car, tears flowed down my face and I thanked God for my husband who listens to the leading of the Lord despite my protests. We often wonder what ended up happening with this young woman, but God knows.

Although , I do miss the mountains, the lakes, the waterfalls, the pine trees, and even the squawking birds that wake us up in the morning, I realize that I miss the connection that is created with the people along our travels. I believe that it is not just a coincidence that we cross paths with the people we do and end up going to the places we go. We pray for God’s guidance and He becomes our compass. In turn, we become a compass for others through boldness and humble willingness to be used by God.

So Be Bold…Be a compass toward hope

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A Mother’s Heart

The heart of a mom doesn’t stop caring once her children move out of the home. In fact, at first, it aches even more as she realizes that those sweet faces who she use to see everyday will not be a part of her life in the same way ever again. For so many years, our children depended on us for everything and then gradually, day by day, and moment by moment, we see them building their own life. We experience all kinds of emotions: sadness, joy, pride, worry, and sometimes loss of identity. Our job is done, right!?

Our job as a parent is never over, it just changes. It is now time to take a more passive role. Support them in their endeavors, be a listening ear, give advise when asked and most of all, pray for them. As a parent , our tendency is to rescue our children so that they will not suffer any pain or heartache, but part of the process of building maturity is for them to learn how to emotionally and mentally deal with situations on their own. When parents rescue their children, they are robbing them of the essential confidence and character that is needed to handle future problems. So as hard as it is sometimes , we parents must also go through a learning process also. Learning to let go. Allowing our children to make mistakes. Then watching them soar. Be proud of yourself and embrace this new role.

Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate motherhood, but for some people Mother’s Day can be a time of heartache. Maybe your mom or your child is not with you either through distance or through death, maybe you are estranged from your child and there is an ache for their love, or maybe you were never able to have children. If there is a void in your heart this Mother’s Day, acknowledge your feelings. Express these feelings through tears, writing in a journal, doing something in your loved one’s memory, or saying a special prayer. Think good thoughts, cherish memories, smile, and let your heart be light. Allow the peace of God to overwhelm you. My heart goes out to those whose hearts are hurting this Mother’s Day for what ever reason. Let us all remember to lift these women up through compassion and in our thoughts and prayers.

A mother’s heart loves forever and likes for always

Quoted from the book” Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch- Great book to read about a mother’s love

Image result for Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Make sure to have tissue
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Focus on Focusing

Maybe it is just me, but does anyone else feel scatterbrained these days. I go to start a task and get distracted by something on my phone, or I start daydreaming. Am I a victim of too much time on my hands or just an unstructured life? I believe I am suffering from a lack of focus. I also have a problem with procrastination so I put off things that I should do to do things that I want to do, then I don’t finish either task. Yes, that sounds confusing. That is how it has sounded in my brain for the last month.

I realize that I am more productive when I have a plan to focus on for my day. I give myself a little time in the morning to sit, have coffee, and eat breakfast while watching a morning devotional show on You Tube called Above Inspiration. Then I get DRESSED. I realized that when I stay in my PJs, I do not feel as motivated to get going. Taking a shower helps to get the blood circulated. Then I sit at the kitchen table and write out my plan for the day.

I write down even my smallest tasks such as water the plants or check the mail. I focus on the most important tasks first and then include the want-to -do tasks at the end. I am able to check off the tasks as they are completed and those that I didn’t complete I can add to tomorrow’s list. Doing this gives me a sense of accomplishment. I am realizing , like many of you , how easy it is to waste my day away by allowing myself to get lazy and distracted. Many of us are use to getting up for work and leaving the house. We are able to stay focused on our jobs, but staying focused while staying at home everyday takes a whole new mind set. It takes developing and utilizing the discipline of “focus” while in your new situation. I don’t make a list everyday. Sometimes I will just do what I want to do, but for those days when I need some structure in my life in order to be productive, I practice focusing on the task at hand without being distracted, and ,yes, it all begins with a list.

Develop the discipline of focusing on focusing

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Who You Are Matters

During times like these when everything feels a little “wonky”, it is sometimes hard to feel like what you do on a daily basis really matters. You get up in the morning, fix breakfast, clean the house, start a project, work from home, teach your children, make lunch , make dinner and clean again. Then the next day you do everything all over again because the house is dirty again, and everyone in your household has needs…again. You miss the days of being able to get together with family and friends, going away for the weekend, sitting in a pew worshiping with other church members, or just going to your favorite clothes store to buy a new outfit. The things that use to bring you joy throughout your days of mundane tasks seem to have faded away.

Despite all the changes in your world, YOU are still YOU. Your heart, your passion for life, your laugh, and all the aspects of who you were two months ago are still in you. It look a lifetime to develop and mold you into the person you are today. Don’t allow these few months to diminish the amazing person God has created you to be. Take this opportunity to stretch yourself and discover new ways of creating a sense of release for your soul.

Remember that even though you may feel what you do doesn’t matter, the people around you get through their day because of what you do. When you clean your house, wiping down surfaces, do the laundry, and make meals you are creating an environment where your family can stay healthy and safe. When you teach your children , you are relaying the message that you support them in their education and in who God created them to be. When you talk to your family about uplifting stories instead of complaining, you are creating a sense of security and strength. Children need your strength to help settle their thoughts and calm their fears. When you smile at others , you project positivity in a world where negativity is all around. Your world needs you to be YOU.

No one else can make a difference in the world exactly the way you can so don’t miss your opportunity

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Impress Yourself

Are you waiting? Waiting for your big opportunity? Waiting to get that perfect job? Waiting to meet that perfect person? Waiting for your life to regain traction? It is easy to get into a “funk” while waiting. It is easy to sit around and mindlessly watch T.V. I know because I am guilty too.

One thing that I found that helps me be patient while I am waiting is learning something new. YouTube has so many channels where you can learn how to do practically anything. For example, my husband Doug and I have been talking about turning our vacation videos and photos into inspirational videos with songs and scripture. I looked up how to start a YouTube channel on YouTube. It is easier than I thought. Then I looked up video editing programs on the internet. It took some time to find one that I felt comfortable with and suited what I needed but after I played around with creating a video, it was fun. So now I am in the process of creating videos, so when we start our YouTube channel, I will have lots of videos already to post. The videos are turning out really good. I actually impressed myself.

Another project I started was wire wrapping stones and agates. When Doug and I are on vacation, we collect stones and agates mainly from different beaches along our travels. Yes, we are becoming “Rock Hounds.” I bought a rock tumbler ( which I always thought was just for kids), and we tumbled rocks to make them smooth and bring out the colors. Then again I went on YouTube and looked up how to wire wrap the rocks to make jewelry. I bought the wire and tools (cost around $40) and started practicing while I watched TV in the evening. I gave my first completed necklace to my sister for her birthday and she really liked it. Again, I impressed myself.

I don’t tell you these things to brag, not at all. I still have a lot to learn. I mention these two projects to encourage you to not waste this time of waiting. Think about something you have always wanted to do. What do you have a passion for? Maybe you have wanted to learn a new language or how to quilt or crochet ? Maybe there is something in your house that needs repair. There are DIY videos on YouTube and other places throughout the internet. If you can’t think of anything, just browse YouTube. You can search a subject and watch all kinds of videos on that subject. Just remember these people are not experts on what they are doing their video on but they usually have experience and knowledge about the subject. Most importantly, get up off the couch. Push the funk away and get busy doing something.

Knowledge is king. Once you learn something, that knowledge can not be taken away. Learning enhances your skills set, exercises your brain, and boosts your confidence. It makes you feel good.

So go ahead…. Impress Yourself!

I will soon post a link to our new YouTube channel when I get it up and going. I would love your feedback once you view it. As always, thank you for reading my blog.

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The Love That Never Changes

In the midst of so many changes in such a short period of time, I find myself searching for familiarity, normalness, and hope. Hope that this pandemic will be over soon, hope for no more suffering, and hope for a renewed spirit of togetherness. As I look through photo albums, I get teary-eyed as I think about how long it has been since I have spent time with the people I love. I long for their touch, their hug, and the feeling of closeness. I get all emotional and somehow feel cheated because of this time lost. I find myself feeling disappointed about the trips we had to cancel and not being able to go about my normal routine. Then .. snap.. I am in reality again. I realize that there are times, even before the Covid-19 virus, we would go weeks without seeing our children and friends. Work and other obligations keep us all busy. When my husband and I go on two week vacations, it is sometimes three weeks before we see the rest of our family or get together with friends. So I tell myself.. No pity parties allowed! There are people all over the world who are suffering and here I am upset because I can’t go get my hair done. I hear these thoughts in my head and realize how shallow that sounds. I want to be a better person through this experience , not a bitter one. I want to focus on what I have gained through and not what I am missing.

Are you able to think of something you have gained through your current situation? If not, I challenge you to sit down and clear your mind, and reflect on your life right now. Put all the worries aside, focus on your rhythmic breathing, and listen to your heart. Listen to God. Look around at your home and with a sincere heart, be thankful for the blessings in your life. The blessing of sitting in your warm house enjoying the rain, reading a favorite book, learning a new skill, quality time with your child or spouse or maybe time to reflect on life.

I don’t mean to minimize any problems you may have. I know that even though you can put on a happy face and look at your blessings, you may be facing challenging situations and changes in your life.

As Easter approaches, this is a perfect time to remember that there is one thing that never changes. God’s love for us. This time in history has proved to us that jobs, money, possessions, our health, and sadly, even loved ones can be gone before we know it. God’s love for us is secure, it never changes. He loves you even if you don’t love Him. He loved you yesterday, he loves you today and He will continue to love you tomorrow. Allow His love to calm your heart and give peace to your soul.

Hang On To The Love That Never Changes

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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Be a Ninja

I am sitting at my computer thinking about what to write this week. It is Friday morning and I usually write on Tuesday or Wednesday, but I have so many thoughts jumbled in my head that I haven’t had a clear path to what I wanted to write about this week in my blog.

As of today it has been three weeks since the world as we knew it changed. Most of us can recall where we were when everything shut down. I was in a classroom cleaning up after a long day when we got the news. Schools are closing indefinitely. We were told to take all our personal belongings because the administration didn’t know when or if we are coming back this school year. Your experience may be different, but perhaps you had the same surge of emotions: disbelief, denial, and anxiety.

I have struggled for the last three weeks with my purpose in life. Grasping at anything that will bring me some kind of fulfillment. Then yesterday I saw a young boy about three years old wearing a black mask. As he walked with his mom down the street, he was pretending to be a ninja. I thought, Wow, if we could all be like this small child who doesn’t allow the reason why he wears the mask to take his joy of life away. He found a way to embrace his “new normal” and actually have fun. How can you and I find joy throughout this crisis?

Joy is always inside us. The question is are we allowing fear to steal our joy? When problems come up we can either chose to be a victim of despair or chose to see life from a different perspective. Viewing life from a different perspective takes insight into yourself, insight into the facts of the situation, and insight into your true reality, not what other people say it is. Are you housed, clothed, and fed right now? Are you worrying about something that might not ever happen? This doesn’t have to be a time of worry and despair. Stay strong in faith. Stay strong in body, soul and mind. Remember to find joy in life.

Be a Ninja!

I included a link to Pastor Rick from Saddleback Church. I listened to this message this morning and it brought me peace. If you need some encouragement, just click the link below.

. A Faith That Works When Life Doesn’t: A Faith That Handles Difficulties

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Keeping the Connection

Isolation, social distancing, stay home be safe, school and business shut downs are all terms that are becoming everyday phrases in the midst of our “new normal”. We are asked to keep our distance from each other physically, but it is more important than ever to not distance yourself emotionally and mentally. Right now, it is vital to stay in contact with family and friends, especially the elderly and people who live alone. I know we can all think of someone that is at risk of feeling lonely. In this age of technology, it is easy to type someone a text , leave a message on Facebook, or better yet, give someone a call. Maybe send a card to brighten someone’s day.

Connection is good for the soul. Everyone needs it, even you. Lack of connection can lead to depression and despair. So reach out with a funny story, send pictures, ask someone about their day, challenge someone to an on-line game, or just let someone know that you are thinking of him or her.

The most important connection we have does not require social distancing at all. Our relationship with God is vital to keeping us strong and at peace in these difficult times. Talk to God everyday. Tell him your worries, your fears, and your feelings of thankfulness.

A strong connection with others and with God strengthens and nourishes the soul

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Dwell in the Sunshine

Sunflower field. Beautiful sunflowers blooming on the field. Growing yellow flowers

With so many unknowns effecting our everyday life, it is easy to get swept up into the turmoil and despair. You watch things change right before your eyes and wonder, “What is next?” Kids are out of school, maybe you are working from home or not working at all, stores are limited on supplies, and you hear news reports that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better. Have hope, this situation will end. It won’t go on forever. I have hope that God knows what is going to happen and in His plan I have faith. I pray you hold on tight to the hope that only God can give.

I ask myself, “What is the current situation going to bring out in me? Is it going to bring out fear? Maybe insecurity? Of course, all kinds of feelings are going to come up, that is natural, but which ones are you going to dwell on. We all have those dark feelings but we also have, what I call “sunshine feelings.” Feelings of encouragement, positivity, and peace that we can “soak up and dwell in ” just like the warmth of the sun after a cloudy day. Think positive thoughts, turn off the news, don’t get caught up in negativity, and be the “sunshine” in someone else’s cloudy day. Acknowledge your feelings of fear, insecurity, and despair but don’t dwell there.

Be like a sunflower and dwell in the sunshine.

“Finally my brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.” Phillipians 4-8

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Seek Peace Not Panic

Facing the unknown can be scary. Whether the unknown is starting over in an area of your life, changing directions, or dealing with something that is out of your control. One thing to remember when facing a path that is unfamiliar and the destination unknown is to stop and breathe. Take time to think instead of reacting. Reacting from emotion or from the emotions of others causes panic. When a person is in panic mode, he or she is more likely to follow the opinions of others. Take time to be alone. Think about the options, the pros and cons of your journey, and consider the facts of the situation. Then make a decision to make a decision to do what is best for you.

It is your life. Decide to seek peace and not chaos. Think about what you need to do to create peace in your life so that you can face the future with confidence and a clear mind. Sometimes you may have to distant yourself from people who try to sway you toward a direction that is not your path or situations that distract you from making the best decision for your life. Keep focused on YOUR journey.

Our nation is facing a situation right now where panic is replacing peace. Stop and breathe. Consider the facts of the situation, pray for direction, make a plan about what is best for you, and most of all, seek peace over panic.

Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.