Monday, December 6, 2010

Big Love, Big Loss, Big Hurt


I don't know who said this, but this is how I live and will continue to live...

"Better to have loved and to have lost,
than to not have loved at all".

Phone rings at 9:15 ish

"Wonder who that is calling after 9?"
(this can't be good)

"Hello?"
(it's my girlfriend, Gina)
"Hi Jan, are you on your computer?"

"No, I'm working on my talk for Wednesday"

"Are you sitting down?"
(uh oh, this can't be good)

"Yes, what's going on?"

"Joan Horner passed away today"

cricket...
( in Janet-eese, it means "silence")

cricket...

Gina was completely silent...

I began sobbing uncontrollably..

Gina gave me the rest of the details...she passed peacefully from heart failure,
in lieu of flowers....
the memorial service...
the family asks....

My dear friend Joan,
I will miss you more than I can express.
Thank you for being a Godly Mentor, Model and Friend.


I am so lucky that I got to know her,
work with her,
laugh with her and
love her.

She will be deeply missed, by me and others all over the world.

-another hole in my heart-
more pain
more hurt
more tears

but I Am so very grateful....
and would jump at the opportunity AGAIN
to know this woman...

"Better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all..."

She is with God- beyond a shadow of a doubt-
in His presence
in His arms
in His LOVE

"I am the way and the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me"
John 14:6



Thursday, December 2, 2010

God is a Comedian...

I'm speaking next week to a MOPS group that I have visited for the last 2 years.

This year, they had one small request.
"Janet, we would LOVE to have you back (maybe she didn't say "LOVE" in bold letters, but she did say, "love"), but can you do us a favor?

Uh oh.

"Sure, anything- what do you need?" (always here to please...)

"would you mind speaking on Organization?"

"Uh....okay", was my response.

"GREAT! Thank you so much, how about this date....time, etc".

Uh oh.

For any of you out there in Blog-Land who don't know me...
I'm not the most organized person.
I'm hardly organized..

God is a Comedian...
seriously?
Me???
Seriously?

I have stacks of papers in my office right now
(still there from when I spoke w/her 2 months ago!)
I'm so dis-organized that my kids are trained to put their hands up when they open the cupboards in case something comes falling out...
I'm so disorganized that when I try to file something or put something where it should be,
I CAN"T FIND IT!!!!!!

In fact...
"It sucks to be me ( as Nacho would say) speaking on Organization", was my first thought, embarrassingly so...

Then I heard a still, small voice....

It's not YOU...it's ME, speaking through you...

My heart is the vessel HE uses to encourage these women...
My mouth is the vessel used to present the message HE wants to present...
My disorganized mind is somehow used to focus on what HE thinks is important to communicate...
My body is a puppet HE uses while I attempt to step aside...

I am the vehicle HE uses to reach those Mommies, HIS Mommies...

It's all HIM...

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same SPIRIT. There are different kinds of service, but the same LORD. There are different kinds of working, but the same GOD works all of them in all people.
Now to each one the manifestation of the SPIRIT is given for the common good."
All these are the work of one and the same SPIRIT."
1Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

It does NOT "suck to be me", in fact, I am honored, blessed and humbled that HE would use me in this way...
sometimes confused,(me LORD? Seriously?)
but alas still honored!

And I know, that God will provide me with
WHAT to say,
AND
HOW to say it.

"My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

For when I AM WEAK,
then I AM STRONG."

2Corinthians 12:9-10

I'll let you know how it goes!

Trusting In HIM,
Janet






Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Time for Thanks

THANKSGIVING...

Our first one without "DAD".

I missed him....

a lot.....

it didn't feel like Thanksgiving.

Even though I was missing Dad, I just had to thank God for all that I
DO HAVE
and all that Dad gave me.

He gave me LOVE...
hugs, words of affirmation and always had an "I'm proud of you, honey" smile.

He gave me TIME...
watching "The Magnificent Seven" is one of my fondest memories...I've watched that with him MORE than seven times!

He gave me COURAGE...
how many times did he believe in me when I didn't?
How many times did he tell me to just "try" when I didn't want to?

He gave me LAUGHTER...
his laugh was LOUDER than mine..watching old "Apple Dumpling Gang" movies in the theater, he had the greatest laugh, the kind that would make you laugh just hearing it.

He gave of HIMSELF...

generously...

not just to me, but to EVERYONE he came into contact with.

I am SO THANKFUL that God blessed me with such an amazing father and man.
I am SO THANKFUL that I had 45 years with him...to the date...
I am SO THANKFUL that he left so much of himself
in
ME.

I am truly very thankful for so, so many

THINGS
(running water, heat, food & shelter)

PEOPLE,
( family, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors )

EXPERIENCES
(learning, growing, reaching, risking, trusting)
and

FEELINGS
(joy, pain, sorrow, freedom, passion, anger, peace...and LOVE)

I have SO MUCH and SO MANY to be THANKful for...

but I am most THANKful to God,
who gave His son for me,
so that I can live, eternally with HIM
in heaven...
where I WILL see my DAD
again.

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die".
John 11: 25-26



Friday, November 5, 2010

Growth and Change

My children are growing and changing right before my eyes...

I can't believe that my 12 year old daughter is 12, soon to be 13...
She's not only changing physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well.
I can actually have discussions with her. She has a different perspective. Yes, YOUNGER :-( ...MUCH more innocent and less jaded, fo' sure.

But growth and change never come without pain.
Why is that?

There is no butterfly without the METAMORPHOSIS that happens in the cocoon.
There is no muscle growth without the tearing of the muscle while working out...
There is no growth without pain...

I want to continue to grow and be better, stronger, faster...ooops, I was onto
"The Six Million Dollar Man" intro ...

I'm growing... and changing, as much as my children, but it looks different.

It's on the inside.

God is growing me, and guess what?
It hurts.

Does it have to?

This growth is painful...ouch....

I'm not depending on things to "help" me like I used to....
strrrrrrretch....
I'm not depending on people to make me feel "better" like I used to....
puuuuuuuuuull.....
I'm not depending on my achievements to tell me I'm AWESOME,
like I used to.....
oooowwwwww...
I'm not depending on the world to tell me how good or bad I am in it's eyes..
uugggggghhhh...

God says:
"I'm enough"
"I'm all you need"
"I'll fill the holes in your heart if you let me"
"I am The WAY, The TRUTH and The LIFE"
John 14:6


He is....all of those things.....and more.




Saturday, October 23, 2010

SPARK Ministry




SPARK MINISTRY RETREAT

Last weekend I was a part of an amazing ministry- SPARK Ministry.

Serving
People
And
Reflecting
Kindness

I heard about this ministry in September through a friend I was working with in Dallas.
She told me that she, and a large group of women from her church, were coming out to California to serve women in a Homeless Shelter. The shelter is located about an hour north of where I live so I told her I would love to drive up and help out how I could.
After all, THEY were flying out from Texas and I live here, so why couldn't I help?

I had no idea what I was in for!

This weekend was POWER-FULL!

I must admit I was scared...
I've never done this before....I didn't know what to expect...HOW could I help?...how could I possibly minister to these women (they had been through so much)...I won't know the rest of the group...what if I do something wrong?

As I drove up the dirt hill, I drove past dumpsters, old cars and some old looking garages and bungalows...SCARY!

I came around a corner and saw a gate. As I drove up to the gate, I could see just past it into a nice driveway which passed a building where a few women were sitting in front of. The guard let me in and I must say I was surprised.

The grounds were BEAUTIFUL...peaceful and lush.
This was a safe-haven for women and some children to live in safety.
The Shelter not only provides physical shelter from abusive spouses, but provides emotional shelter where women can heal from the emotional scars as well as recovery from substance abuse and/or prostitution.

The Shelter itself is a Ministry...what a blessing not just for the women...but for their children.

The weekend was filled with small group time, to build relationships through discussion, crafts, food, laughter and fun.
Add Image


SPARK Ministry comes in and makes these women feel loved...unconditionally loved, where every woman there is on the same level. We ALL wore the same shirts during the weekend.
The SPARK volunteers, staff and residents all worked and played together.

There was a day of pampering on a ranch in Wrightwood...we played relay games and later made S'Mores.


Our final day was amazing- we made Sunday brunch, had a lesson on The Lord's Prayer and then covered our Buddy with prayer verbally, then covered them with a Prayer Blanket that they could keep.
Not a dry eye in the house...

What a blessing and honor to serve with these ladies from SPARK Ministy.
Thank you to MOLLY, who founded the ministry a few years ago.


And a big THANK YOU to my dear friends who sponsored a "Sister" in the shelter so that she could get the shirts, food and gifts!

Charlotte adopted Sara
Bonnie adopted Jessica (staffer)
Rena adopted La Tonja (staffer)
Sharon adopted Laura (staffer)
Nancy adopted Sheri
Susan adopted Sherry
Rhonda adopted Takeisha
Lorna adopted Jackie (staffer)

YOU LADIES made this weekend special for these women!!! THANK YOU again, for your support and prayers!!

You're joining me next time SPARK comes to California!



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What is it about Costco?

Ok- What is it about Costco?

I went to Costco yesterday with my full intention of purchasing the items that I had on my list...and ONLY those items on my list.

I get there, and I'm not kidding, I feel like I'm at a Sale or something!

I LOSE CONTROL!!!!
Can anyone relate?
On the outside, I'm calm, cool and collect and on the inside, I'm like,
"What do I need, do I need some of those, do I need more of this, oh my gosh, what a good price, I've got to get that!" (repeating in my mind at light speed!)

Here is what I had on my list:


Fruit (it's healthy, we all eat a ton)
chicken (it's healthy, we all eat a ton)
trash bags
pizza (for mom's night out)
romaine lettuce (it's healthy and I eat a ton)

Here is what I purchased IN ADDITION to my list:

cute shirt for my daughter (only $10.00 for a brand name!)
cute shirt for my husband (only $15.00 but said he didn't like the color-too feme, but still cute)
cute shirt for me (only $10.00 for guess what, a brand name and excellent quality well worth over the $10.00!!!!!!!)
kids sour vitamins (we actually needed these)
kids fruit snack ( made with real fruit....but did we need 74?)
6 pack cans of soup ( weird thing, I like to have cans in the garage in case we someday DO go to war or get invaded by aliens or have THAT earthquake they've said is coming)

Do you overspend at Costco?
Do you ever feel like it's a frenzy in there?

Being in Costco is almost like having a drug induced episode (though I've never had one, I guess this is what I imagine it would be like?)

You go in and come out with things in your basket that you don't remember putting in, everything was a blur and all of a sudden you are in front of your car....

Maybe it's because I think I'm getting a totally awesome discount by shopping there?
Maybe it's because their drinks only cost .59 cents?
Maybe it's because I can feed three half-starving children for less than $2.00 each!!! Seriously!
Maybe it's because you can actually have lunch for FREEEEE by snacking at all their sample stations!
Maybe it's because you feel like part of an elite group when you are shopping there?
(Yes, I have a gold card- ha ha!)

Do you think God wants me to pray about where and how I'm spending money?
Well, it is HIS money, isn't it?

What about praying for self-control when going into the out-of-control zone?

What about praying for wisdom on what to purchase?

What about praying for peace, so that I don't do or buy anything to fill that gap I may have in my heart and ...Let HIS peace fill it...

I know this may sound silly, but I really believe God wants us relying on him for strength, wisdom, peace and self-control.
I believe that HE wants us to rely on HIM for even MORE, but you and I have a choice every moment of every day to say "YES" to the Lord or "NO!"

When I do rely on HIM more, I'm more like HIM. I make choices HE would make and, have the kind of self-control, wisdom and peace that HE would have.

Just for today~

Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as you make choices and decisions for your family.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7

I love those who love me and those who seek me, find me.
Proverbs 8:17

Ask the Lord for self-control in spending, eating, maybe even your tongue.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26

For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of LOVE and of sound mind.
2 Timothy 1-7

Ask the Lord for peace as you go on with your day, to be in the moment, fully engaged with the day!
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

On the journey with you~
Janet

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Field Trip- Something to do in the O.C..




Today I took the children to the Lyon Air Museum. It is in Santa Ana and backs up to the John Wayne Airport.
My girlfriend Tre-Tre found it and suggested we take the children there. She has an 11 year old son and a 1 year old girl, and I have of course, the 2 boys and my 11 year old daughter.

I'm not the kind of girl who says,
"Hey, let's go to see some vintage airplanes" in my spare time.
I'm more the kind of girl who says,
"Hey, let's go to see some vintage purses, shoes or jewelry" in my spare time!

But, I do consider myself the type of mom who is always looking for an educational, fun, learning experience, and usually willing to try things at least once.

As we drove up, I began getting excited.
I didn't know what to expect and I was excited by the fact that my 10 year old would LOVE IT! He is my little soldier and loves anything to do with war, shooting, fighting, guns and missiles. I am convinced he will be a Jar Head like his grandpa or maybe go into law enforcement just to have the opportunity to carry and/or shoot a real gun!



It was great- very small, so we were there only an hour 1/2. There were vintage planes, cars and motorcycles.
They even had Hitler's personal Mercedes...SCARY!
(YIKES!)



The cost was worth it-
General Admission------$8
Ages 5-17 -----------$4
And they have docents to take you on the little tour...we had Herb, who is a former pilot.


The museum has only been open for a few months and it was pretty empty, but worth visiting.
They also have ongoing movies for the children to watch and learn about each exhibit.

I would highly recommend going- educational, fun and worth the trip!

Thank you Major General William Lyon for preserving these beautiful vehicles and also for preserving this time in history!
I salute you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Joni Eareckson Tada

Most of you don’t know that I am Premier Designs “Jewelry Lady”.

I have been involved with Premier Designs for over 8 years and have been truly blessed by being a part of this company. It is biblically based and the focus has been and always will be on SERVING our customers.

I just got home from our National Rally where the New Fall Line is introduced along with fabulous training, inspiration and motivation.

They often have very well known speakers, such as Josh McDowell, Dennis Swanberg, Ellie Kay, and Joni Eareckson Tada.

Joni was on our agenda to speak this week. If you don’t know who she is, she is a strong Christian woman who inspires people all over the world as she shares about how God has given her hope and a purpose.

Joni is a quadripalegic.

She lost the use of her arms and legs in an accident as a young girl and has been in a wheel chair ever since.

Our Co-Founder, Joan Horner and Joni are good friends. I’ve been to Joan’s home and have seen all of Joni’s books and even an original painting by Joni.

At Joni’s scheduled time to speak at the Rally, instead of Joni coming out in person, there was a video instead.

Joni could not attend the National Rally because she found out that she has breast cancer.

Of all things….cancer.

This woman has gone through so very much and has come through a warrior for the lord, and now she has a new battle to fight.

When I went outside to purchase Joni’s book and a devotional that she wrote, I told the gal behind the table that I would be praying for Joni.

The gal was grateful and said that THAT was what she needed. That when Joni found out she would have to have her breast removed, she didn’t ask God, “WHY?”.

She knows that God is using her and will continue to use her in this situation.

What would you have done?

I have to be honest….I don’t know that I would have had the same response…in fact, I’m sure I would not have.

I doubt that I would be as strong as Joni.

I doubt that I would see my misgiving as an opportunity to serve others through it…

I doubt that I would even be thinking about anyone else except myself.

In fact, as I continue to heal with the loss of my father, I quickly got a new perspective on my life and my blessings, and my hurt cannot compare to hers.

What can I complain about that would even compare to Joni? NOTHING…..nothing.

Lord, be with Joni. Give her peace that surpasses all understanding, strength and courage knowing that YOU will never leave or forsake her. Lord, allow healing and give her comfort as she goes through her surgery.

And Lord, bless Joni.

Bless her abundantly more than she can ask or imagine…

as she serves the one and only high God….

our Lord,

and our Savior.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dinner Time, My Favorite Time!

How can a Mom NOT love dinner time?

After rushing around ALL DAY LONG, getting children here and there, doing the laundry, fixing meals, cleaning up, washing, drying, scheduling, shopping, educating, entertaining, encouraging, on and on...fill in the blanks, we can sit down, take a breath and enjoy a meal with the people we love.
I have to say that I LOVE dinner time!

It is the ONE meal that I actually sit with my family and eat WITH them.
I arrive home from the gym after they've eaten breakfast with my husband.
The children have lunch at school but now that it is summer, I have found myself eating something small after I've fed them.
But I RARELY miss dinner.

I loved dinner time as a child, too.
It was the ONE time that we all sat together and my mother was insistent on waiting for my Father to sit down before we all dug into our food.
It was a sign of respect which I think is lacking in our generation of children.

It was where we learned our manners
(ie: no elbows on the table, how to cut with a knife and fork, how to eat spaghetti,
where to put the napkin, and also,
no bodily noises from the mouth or bottom while seated at the dinner table).

It was also where we would learn about each other's day.
Where it wasn't just about me, but about my sister, brother, mom AND dad.
We learned how to listen and how to be a part of a conversation.
NO computers, games or toys at the dinner table.
We also had a lot of laughs!

It was where the one time each day, we were ALL on the SAME page. The one time each day that we were all doing the same thing at the same time.
In a family of 5, (and 3 teenagers)I know this was rare!
It was quality time that was well protected by my mom.

I'm making an effort to do the same thing.
Research has shown that children who dine with their family grow up healthier and happier.
It also provides for emotional and relational needs.
I want dinner time to be special, really special, family time.
How do I do this?
How can you do this?

YOU have the power to make it special.
Create an atmosphere that is light.
I have our children each help set the table.
One might get the plates, another the forks, another the cups and drinks.
Everyone is involved.
We all wait until Dad sits before we start eating.
We say a prayer of thanksgiving before we start eating.
I love listening to my children share about their day or whatever comes to mind.

Tonight, I was inspired to write because I was looking at my children and feeling so grateful for each one of them and what each one of them brings to our family, as well as what each one of them is contributing and will contribute to this world.

I made Tortilla Soup and Logan said, "I love this soup! But I remember when I didn't like it".

Luke said, "I don't like tomatoes, except in this soup". Then he asked me if I remembered how I tricked him into trying some tomatoes by telling him it was watermelon when he was little.
I didn't remember this story, but apparently, he did. He mentioned that while eating this tomato he was wondering where the black seeds were! Ha Ha!
It would be just like me to do something like that!

Kiana also commented how she does not eat tomatoes except in this soup and
Marguerita Pizza.

Make dinner time a special time.
YOU have the opportunity to create an environment that fosters
conversation and comfort,
closeness and community,
love & laughter.

It's never too late!






Thursday, June 24, 2010

School Is Out, It's Really Out!

Wow, school is out, it is really out!

Hard to believe that another school year has come and gone. My children are leaving 6th grade, 4th grade and 2nd grade and moving into 7th, 5th and 3rd grades. Funny how my mind works, from "Even" numbers to "Odd" numbers this coming year.

When I was teaching, my year would mentally begin in September and end in June.
Every year, I would eagerly anticipate the meeting of my new class. Every class had it's own personality. Some would be easier than others, issues, no issues, good kids and yes, bad kids.
But I regress.

When I was little we would take a driving vacation every year. Every other year, we would go to Colorado to visit family on my dad's side. We would leave at the Butt-crack of dawn ( ha ha) and Dad would always stop at a donut shop to get us some warm glazed donuts right before we would jump onto the freeway. Then he would drive, drive, drive until Mom had to use the restroom or we would need to eat. Mom using the restroom usually came first! Dad would drive into the wee morning hours and I have many fond memories of looking out of the window of our old station wagon (the one with the fake wood panel sticker along the side of the car) and look up to see millions of stars just scattered across the entire sky! The most BEAUTIFUL thing I had ever seen!!!!! I can remember the hum of the car on the highway and it being pitch dark... no one else was on the road except us. Sometimes it felt as if we were flying through those millions of stars like a rocket, silently in space. Everyone would be asleep and it would be so quiet. I sometimes felt like I was cheating by waking up and seeing all the jewels God had thrown up into the sky and then I'd drift back to sleep. What a wonderful memory of my childhood summers. Dad gave us many memories of camping, fishing and great family times.

What are some of your favorite summertime memories?

I hope that if you didn't have any great memories, that you would create them with your own family or friends. It's never too late!
Happy Start to Summer, my friends!



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Truly Blessed:

Have you ever thought about how blessed you are?

Today I feel especially blessed. Why?

I feel truly lucky and am so grateful:

I have a wonderful husband who loves me for me~
He has a job~
I have 3 healthy, pretty happy children~
I have a semi-neurotic dog~
I have a home and a bed and my children have the same~
I live in a safe community~
I can worship my God publicly and privately~
My mother and I are friends~
My siblings and I are friends~
We can feed our children 3 meals a day, and some snacks~
We have clean clothes and lots of unmatched socks~
We have water whenever we want it~
We have freedom that cost some men and women their lives~
We have soldiers protecting us 24/7~


Now here are some funny, but honest reasons I am also grateful~

I have a thick head of hair~
I still don't have to wear glasses~
I have enough energy to yell at my kids...ooops, discipline them!
We have sunshine most of the time in California~
My daughter and I can laugh but also talk about girl stuff~
My boys have healthy intestines...and I know this by all the farting they do!
We can sing and dance whenever we want to!
I survived the 80's~
I still have my own teeth to grind while sleeping~
My pap smear and breast exam were both fine this year, I know "TMI"...

What about you? What are you grateful for?

Make a list and add to it as necessary.

If you live in America, you do have a lot to be thankful for!



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rose



This is Rose. She is 13 years old and lives in Kenya. I have been very blessed to be associated with her support group called "Ordinary Women", who are a group of super Godly women who are moved to help these orphans.

I just sponsored her, and it was very easy. For only $35.00 a month, I've been able to get her:

- school (HS) tuition, room and board, bedding, personal effects, stationary
- family and placement supervised by a qualified social worker
- nutrition and basic health care
- school uniform, clothing, bedding, & mosquito net and a BIBLE!

These children need our help and I pray some of you would consider joining me in supporting this group.
They will be going to Kenya in August to see these children and their community.

1John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in DEED and in Truth.

This group of AMAZING Ordinary Women show their love in action! What an inspiration you ladies are!

www.ordinarywomen.org

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

........................HOPE

I saw a physical sign of HOPE in my front yard.
We have lived in this home for over 4 years and there is this one spot in our yard that has dirt, always had dirt and probably always will.....the sprinkler must just miss it by overshooting it or undershooting it.
Last week as I pulled into the driveway I saw something that surprised me....in the middle of this dirt patch was a very cute, sunflower standing up as straight as can be, all by itself.......in the midst of that dirt!!!

Do you feel like your life is "stuck in the dirt" sometimes? I know I feel that way occasionally, okay, more than that since I'm being honest. Sometimes I can look around and not notice all the blessings God has given me, I can feel sorry for myself or self consumed with WHATEVER I can come up with in my head at any moment...but in the midst of it all....there is HOPE...there is GOD!

GOD has promised you and me HOPE...
* HE will comfort us when we are feeling isolated like that flower, Psalm 23:4 "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me"
* HE will protect us when we are vulnerable to the world, 2Thes:3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."
*HE will never leave us even when we don't SEE HIM there, Hebrews 13:5..."Never will I leave you:never will I forsake you"
*HE will quench our thirst, when the world leaves us dry..... John 4:14 "but whoever drinks the water I give her will never thirst."

Psalm 62:5
"Find rest, O my soul, in GOD alone;
my HOPE comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress,
I will not be shaken."

I am so at peace that I can have HOPE in the LORD: MY COMFORTER, MY PROTECTOR, MY STRENGTH and the WELL of LIFE.
Thank you father for being there for me whenever I need you, wherever I need you for whatever I need~
Let's HOPE in the LORD today!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

..............................Comfort from GOD

I had the pleasure of speaking with the MOPS group at Yorba Linda Presbyterian Church last Wednesday night. God is so GOOD!
I have to admit that I wasn't as prepared as usual since we changed the topic at the last minute. I felt a little insecure (I always do, but more than usual) since I didn't have as much time reviewing my talk, but I knew I had to lay that down at the lord's feet and TRUST in HIM...
.
My whole reason for speaking at MOPS is to encourage, spur on and cheer on these Moms. GOD is FAITHFUL and DEPENDABLE!
In spite of myself, he uses me. I show up and there is a puppet show that goes on with the LORD being the puppeteer... have you ever felt like that? If not, it is strange and sometimes I don't even remember what I said at the end of the talk.....
I was personally touched by one mom's vulnerability and tears. She was craving friendship- deeper friendships.
Life is hard, even with the loving God we have, can I hear an "AMEN"? I don't believe that being a Christian means that all of a sudden, everything comes to us, things are easy and we are abundantly blessed in every area of our life....on the contrary. When we say "YES" to the Lord, we give HIM permission to work in us and through us and many times that means growth....and growth hurts. It may mean having a time, a long, long time in the desert so that we learn to depend on him and not others for whatever our needs have been...it may also not be temporary, but a lifetime challenge that we will be facing on a daily basis.
What has helped me get through the HUGE LOSS of a friend and father has been my faith, my hope and my surrender to the one who made me. I can't rest in my dad's arms anymore, but I have a Father in heaven who holds me with his ever encompassing arms to reassure me and love me:

The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastres,
he leads me to quiet waters,
HE RESTORES MY SOUL.
Psalm 23 goes on...
Your rod and your staff they comfort me....

No one has been able to comfort me, not my husband, friends, shopping, eating, exercise, nothing, except when I finally surrendered my hurt in my heart to HIM.

I hope you find comfort today, wherever you are, in whatever you are doing, with knowledge that God, our Father, loves you, wants to embrace you, lead you and comfort you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Losing Deb

Most of us have either been to a funeral or know of someone who has passed away.
Death was always something outside of myself, meaning that I never really internalized emotionally what it meant and since the death of that particular person didn't "change MY life" or affect me in a personal way. I could deal with it. I would call or email that person, send a card, let them know I was praying for them, and if I was close to that person, I would go to the funeral in addition to the prior ways to show I cared.
I don't recall making additional calls or sending additional emails AFTER the funeral, or any other change in what would be my normal behavior.....until my friend Debra died . I also attribute some of my change due to the fact that I am in my 40's and I believe that age has given me 20-20 vision in some aspects of life and living.
I knew Deb for about 6 years before she passed, becoming much closer the last 2-3 years. She was BEAUTIFUL inside and out. She had these stunning blue eyes that would mezmerize you, shining blonde hair, a medium sized figure with a heart and personality that would intimidate the insecure. She would tell it like she saw it, whether you agreed or not- and she was a strong woman of God- a fellow warrior who fought for what she believed in. I had no idea how she would change my life.
We were both distributors for Premier Designs Jewelry and I got to first know Deb through trainings. She and I would contribute at trainings and it was obvious she had a commitment to women growing and I could see that she had a passion about it. We became friends and through telephone calls and an occasional coffee together, our friendship grew. I could be myself with her, be real and honest. She never judged me and if I needed feedback, she would give it.
When someone I meet is comfortable in their skin, I tend to feel more comfortable in mine- I also believe that she knew she had a purpose in this world- to make it better. Some of us waste so much time trying to "find"out why we are here (myself included), what God put us on this earth to do or accomplish, and end up not finding out any answers but wasting much time and energy in the process. But Deb knew early- it was to make a difference, a positive difference in every life that she touched. She supported troubled teens in her community as well as the Facility for Family Planning in the area. She supported her friends and anyone who intersected with her in life.
As an example, a few years ago, I felt God pulling on my heart to get up early to spend some devotional time with him. Now, this is coming from a night owl...whoooo whooo wants to get up at the "butt-crack" of dawn? NOT ME!!!! But that pulling from God could not be ignored and I remember telling her one time about it. "I get up early", she said. She was up by 6:00 a.m to take her son Tyler to football practice and to me that was early, but then I could get up, have some time with the Lord, go to the gym and be back home by 7:30 to get the kids ready for school. "OK" I said. I'll call you tomorrow a.m and that's where it started. It takes about a month to start a new habit and I've been changed for the better because of her support. You do not- not call Debra when you say you will. Every morning for a little over a month I called- they were mostly short, brief , "hello's" or "I'm up's" and then we would occasionally talk during the day. Knowing Deb has changed my life in more ways than that small example.
Believe it or not, I now get up at 5:00a.m to go to the gym, get home, get the kids to school, then come home to have a nice devotional time with the Lord.
She also was there to spur me on. The bible says, " As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend....Proverbs 27:17 That's they kind of friend she was.
Her diagnosis of appendiceal cancer surprised many of us. I saw her as a healthy, strong woman and of course, she would beat this. There was NO question, after all, so many people were being healed from cancer. And Debra was just such a WARRIOR of a woman....Little did I know that there were and are still MANY people losing the battle to cancer everyday. Maybe I was being optimistic, maybe I was in denial, but I never thought for a moment that my friend would actually lose this fight until her last week of living.
She kept the severity of her illness pretty well covered for some time, and I think she believed so much that she would beat it that she even convinced her husband.
I knew that it had to be getting serious when she was flying to Chicago to get help. That got me more worried, but again, it was Debra.....Debra. No way was this thing going to beat her. She would be telling of this fight in years to come.....we thought. During this time, I would text Deb while she was home and in Chicago getting some radiation, and she sounded optimistic. I could tell she was tired and didn't have her normal energy- it was lower and she didn't sound as positive as she had in the past couple of months.
I had received a call from a very close friend of Deb's named Nancy, who told me that Deb wasn't doing well at all and that I needed to visit her. Deb didn't really want to see anyone- it is very common for Japanese people to do this when they are ill. They don't want to see friends when they are not looking their best and don't want to burden or bother anyone, but I decided to go anyway.
I called her and spoke with Chuckie (her husband) and told him, "I'm coming and I'm bringing food. Let her know". So I went. I knew if I asked, she would have said "no", so I basically informed her that I would be driving over.
When I got there Chuckie answered the door and led me to their bedroom where Deb was sitting in a chair next to the bed in her bathrobe. She looked so thin and so very frail, not the Deb I was used to seeing. She got up when I walked over to her to give her a hug...I felt the bones on her back, then she sat down. She was still as beautiful as ever, almost having a childlike quality that I hadn't ever seen. She was weak, and I could tell she didn't have a lot of energy but was putting on a good front for me. I sat on the bed and asked how she was doing. There weren't many words between us then she motioned that she wanted to lay on the bed so Chuckie and I helped her to her side. I stayed on the bed as she sat back and asked me about my family, my business, etc. She held up the conversation pretty well as she was hiding her fraility from me the best she could. Chuckie, always positive even that day, kept an upbeat tone as he walked me out. I told him that I would be back to visit, not having any idea that a 8 days later she would leave this world and fly to see Jesus.
During the week I checked in with Nancy to see how Deb was doing. Deb's sister was flying in on Saturday since her health was declining and I had offered to pick her up and take her to see Deb. I've been lucky to know Brenda "Breezy" through Deb and was happy to do this as it was out of their way to get her.
I picked up Breezy and had a nice time to spend with her on her way to see Deb- one of the reasons Breezy had decided to fly out was that Deb had been placed in the hospital and her health wasn't getting any better.
We got to the hospital and found Deb's room. Tyler and Chuckie and Nancy were there with her. She was sitting in the hospital bed, knees up with her arms around them and her head bowed onto her knees....when Breezy got there Deb looked up at her and Breezy hugged her.
I was taken aback- it was clear that Deb was ill and that her illness seemed like it was winning this fight. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I couldn't let her see what I felt.
I think Nancy was there and took me outside- it seemed like a blur~ Nancy told me that Deb wasn't doing well at all and that her time may be coming soon. What? I couldn't believe what she was telling me. Not Deb- strong, beautiful, wonderful Deb. I wouldn't believe it, I couldn't.
When I walked back into the room, Breezy was crying, but trying not to let Deb see. I stood at Deb's bedside and she looked up- I said, "hi Debra". She apologized saying, "I'm sorry I didn't see you". I told her that Breezy had been in front of me so she couldn't see me there, and Deb responded in her normal fashion, "yeah, she can be like that". I had to laugh- a little. THAT was the Deb I knew. She can't be THIS ill, she can't be dying...really? I know I refused to believe it-
after about an hour I decided to leave and said my good-byes. I kissed Deb and told her I would be back, I just wish it weren't so soon.
Sunday morning, less than 15ish hours later, John gets a call from Chuckie- Deb had stopped breathing that morning around 4 a.m. so they put an intubator in her to keep her alive. He was with her in ICU with Breezy, Nancy and Sandee and they would wait for me to get there before they would remove it- this has got to be the worse drive anywhere I've even been to and it stunk that I had to drive an entire hour away. I cried all the way there and went up to see Deb- she was in ICU being kept alive by this breathing tube. Chuckie was a mess, and so was everyone else in the room.....I seriously kept thinking that she would wake up or someone would wake me up and say it was all a dream, a bad one.
We waited for their pastor and I can't remember if we all prayed together in her room or outside or if we did it separately...how quickly the memory can fade.
We all spent some time in Deb's room together, each of us having time to hold her hand and tell her the things each one of us needed to say- and it just didn't seem long enough.
When it was time, Chuckie let the nurse know and we all stood around the bed arm in arm as the nurses removed her ventilator. When they were done and walked out, we all stepped in to offer our love and prayers to this woman as she began leaving this world and began entering into heaven.. she took long, very slow breaths and after one long exhale, we knew she was gone.
This was the first time I was able to witness the passing of someone so close to me. It was peaceful yet painful. Understood, yet unfair. The most amazing thing is that as I watched Deb, I could visually see that her spirit had left her body- what was left was her shell, a very small piece of who Deb really was.... so it was somewhat easier to walk out of that room, because I knew and felt with all my heart that I wasn't leaving Deb...she had already left to be with our Lord and our God, and that with Him, is where she is truly complete.
Thank you Deb, for sharing your heart with me. I will forever be a better woman because I was able to know you for the short time that I did...love you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spice Up Your Marriage!

I want to thank the Mom's Club of RSM (north?) for allowing me into your group for an evening of fun and fellowship.
I was invited to speak on "Spicing Up Your Marriage" and was there to encourage and give some practical ways to add a little chili pepper to some areas of your marriage.
There are so many ways that we can uplift our marriage and make our husband feel like he is needed, important, respected and desired in our lives.
This is a very condensed version of what was shared that night- Thanks again for having me!

One way is to be his Cheerleader!
Encourage one another as long as it is today... Hebrews 3:13
Be on his side! Let him know he is the Star Quarterback of your team and don't treat him like the water-boy! (yes, I'm guilty!!!!) When he shares about his day, listen! You may not even understand what he is talking about, but listen anyways. When he tells you some good news, be excited for him! TELL him how proud of him you are! Remember that you are team-mates and not opponents! And behind every great man is a great woman....and that's YOU!

Be his Prayer Warrior!
Be joyful always; pray continually..........1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Do you pray for him regularly? Remember that he walks out of your home unprotected from all the spiritual and emotional arrows that are being thrown at him. Be his warrior as well as a prayer warrior for your family! If you don't do it, who will? I pray that my husband's eyes, ears, mind and heart will be protected from all the worldly stimulus that is coming at him 24-7. I also regularly ask God to help ME to be a good wife, mother and friend to him. I'm not good at any of those and am usually more concerned about my own well being vs. his. I pray for guidance in the choices I have to make for our family, patience with our children as well as with him and for a servant's heart that God will bless.

Be his Love Partner!
Love is not rude............1 Corinthians 13:5
Ok- foreplay starts when he gets home with a big WELCOME! When your husband walks through the door do you look up at him and say, "Hey," with a nod, or do you drop whatever you are doing and go to him and greet him with a BIG HUG and kiss? Every man would love to come home to a hug and kiss- this also keeps him from looking for the physical touch outside of the marriage- being appreciated. You want to be a big golden retriever, happy to see him and showing him you are happy to see him!
If you're not happy in the bedroom, you have GOT to do something about it. Express gently, what you want and what makes you feel good, so that you can make him feel good! It's a WIN-WIN situation!!

Here were some fun suggestions that I shared and some that the ladies shared!
1. Sticky notes- put sticky notes all over the inside of his car while he is at work, with things like, "you rock! I love you! You're the best! Best DAD, Best Husband, You are loved" or scribbles from the kids- make sure to hide some in other places so that even after he has cleaned up all the notes, he will find them even after the event and feel loved.
2. Loading his toothbrush- (from friend at church) putting toothpaste on his toothbrush when you are putting it on yours
3. Warming up his towel or bathrobe in the dryer so when he comes out of the shower it is nice an warm for him. (harder if you have a two-story and the dryer is downstairs)
4.Praying over your husband before he leaves for work (thanks Shannon!)
5.Getting into bed before him naked........
6.Taking a hot bath together
7.Getting a cheap hotel for lunchtime......remember that song, "Afternoon Delight"?
8.Suprising him with a night at home w/out kids---arrange for babysitting!
9. Putting your cute panties in his laptop! This is a good one- and you will immediately get a call from him at work! Memorable, too!
10. Text him or call him at work and let him know you are thinking about him in that way!

Be creative! Sometimes the spontaneous times are the most memorable!!!

And remember that any good relationship takes work- God created your spouse to grow you and sharpen you!!!!
Please do not hesitate to post other suggestions! We are all a work in progress~ blessings!

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fruitful Friendships~

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if one falls, the other one will lift her up; but woe to her that is ALONE for when she falls; she doesn't have another to help her up."

I was very blessed to be able to speak to the MIssion HIlls Community Church Mom2Mom group this morning. What a wonderful group!
I spoke on developing "Fruitful Friendships" and the characteristics that develop these special relationships.

C- Usually friends come out of some kind of commonality or similarity- your life may overlap with someone who enjoys similar interests, and there is usually some commonality in lifestyle, etc.

H- Good friends HELP you emotionally! Did you know that most disorders treated by therapists/psychologists are relational in nature. Anxiety, social detachment, and depression are some of the emotional problems often resulting from relational voids!

R- Risk can take your friendship to a whole other level...it's being completely honest, authentic, genuine and truthful. It's sharing things about yourself that you may not be proud of, but it is a part of who you are.

I- Intimacy is a positive result from risking in your relationship!
You grow closer and a bond forms that is difficult to break- it's sharing your dreams, goals and fears.

S- Sacrifice and Service is what you will do for a friend..... friends bend over backwards for friends. Will you go out of your way for your friend?

T- With TIME, Trust is built. What a beautiful gift to have a friend that you can trust......someone to confide in, and share your secrets with.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which perso in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share out pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing not healing and face WITH US the reality of our POWERLESSNESS, that is a friend who cares."
Henri Nouwen

I am blessed beyond words to have my two wonderful, wacky and wise BFF's Gina and Lisa. They love me as I am and help me to be the best ME inspite of all of my weirdness. Don't we ALL need friends like these?
Take those risks and extend a hand- who knows who God will put in your path.......be open!

Thank you again to MHCC for allowing me to spend a wonderful morning with you!
Be blessed~

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad, and Happy Birthday John!

Today I attended my first class called, "Speak On Him", where I will have an opportunity to grow and develop my speaking and writing skills. I laugh because I have always disliked writing and was scared to death to speak or even be in front of others....will always rememeber crying, yes, crying when a visitor would come over to our house. We always had nice people visit, so why the crying? I was afraid...afraid of this NEW person...yes, call me a Scaredy Cat.
Also, when I was in Kindergarten, we had a Winter Play, and I remember being dressed in mittens, a big puffy jacket, a hat and a scarf (maybe even some cheesy, bright colored plastic rain boots)and we were all lined up on the side of the auditorium waiting for our turn to go up the stairs to sing, I'm guessing, and I burst out in tears....never went up on stage, either!
In Intermediate School, I have NO IDEA why I would compete in our Speech Contest, but I did. I memorized Martin Luther King's speech "I have a dream". I think I got second place, but this is where I remember my eyes starting to water whenever I spoke in front of groups...
It happened when I had to give my speech while running for ASB Vice President...I think they all felt sorry for me and voted for me....I won! ha ha

All this to say, that God has taken something that I have always feared deeply, more deeply than anyone knows and HE has turned it into a blessing that I can share-
so I'm taking this class as an act of FAITH...I don't feel truly confident about my speaking or writing skills, but I'm here anyway because of FAITH. The bible says in Matthew 17: 20 "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed,you can say to this mountain,move from htere to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you"....I think I may have that much! :-)
Faith is ACTION- it is believing in something BEFORE you see it, it is taking a step onto a stone that you CANNOT see and onto a PATH that leads to the unknown!!!
I'm excited on this new path...scared as heck, but feeling quite alive!
I have to remember that this is a new year, and because I want new and different results, I will be doing new and different things to see those results...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Power of Prayer!

Last Thursday I was very blessed and honored to be able to speak to a MOPS group in Escondido on 'The Power of a Praying Mother". For the most part, it is taken from Stormie Omartians' book, "The Power of a Praying Parent" and from the workshop that Lisa, Gina, Tracy, Naomi and I put together almost 8 years ago....wow, does time fly!

2009 was a crazy year and I seriously questioned whether I should continue speaking or not, there is ALWAYS personal sin, feelings of inadequacy, feeling out of control, and then, my old friends, the "NOT ENOUGHS" chime in- You're not smart enough, not funny enough, not equipped enough, not Christian enough (whatever that looks like), and just not good enough. I know that when I feel that way, God takes over and uses my body to do HIS good works- I may not be enough, but He is. I may not be smart enough, but HE knows just what I need to say to those ladies, and really, we always have some laughs.
When I began speaking for MOPS I've always prayed that GOD would open the doors FOR me and I would be obedient and walk through......so I did.

I had the normal nervous stomach and fear that no one would like me or even listen to what I had to say.....but I walked into a wonderful warm room where the Moms were talking and holding babies. It was GREAT and I felt a sense of being where I was supposed to be.
Jennifer, the Speaker Coordinator walked to me and gave me a big hug- we had spoken a few days before and really connected. She introduced me and GOD took over!
When I speak on prayer, I go over 5 different points to create a strong prayer life-
1. Believe God is who HE says He is
2.Believe your child can be changed
3.Believe you can be changed
4.Fellowship/Pray with other believers
5. The words are never as important as the intention of your heart.......
something is ALWAYS better than nothing- just do it!

Here's the cool part- after I share point #4 where I encourage them to pray and stay in fellowship with other believers, I give the Moms an opportunity to share a prayer request with the mom sitting next to her....this is where I really get to see GOD's hand working and molding that clay. Women are sharing and some are crying and they are praying right there with each other.....
I recap #5 and then have all the Moms join hands and I pray over them. I am pretty lucky to be able to do this.....humbled, too.
While the Moms were doing discussion questions I typically hang out a while and am there in case anyone wants to pray together or needs anything. Jennifer came over and told me that one of the tables of ladies was going to start Stormie's book together!!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow~
Then I got an email from Jen ifer and she told me that she got the book and is going to start it with her girlfriend. Thank you Lord that you were able to use me- in all of my inequities- you are a mighty God.