Hawk Nelson~

Jonathan Steingard~

He no longer believes in God!  ( Hawk Nelson)

I read the article about Jonathan Steingard this week and simply pondered the implications.  A man full of passion, talent, and conviction now rejects everything he held dear for year and years.

I was raised in the Assembly of God denomination from the time I was 6 years old; certainly I was indoctrinated more that I could have ever known! No dancing, no alcohol, no make-up, etc!!

I understand how it feels to be dissatisfied with what you see inside the church!  I became a pastor’s wife at 26; life behind the veil was so ugly and hurtful!

But—

Though people hurt me, disappointed me and disillusioned me…..God did not!  God carried me in these times, God provided crazy finances during such dire times, God met me in so many personal ways that I would challenge Jonathan Steingard to look through his life and recognize the Ribbon of Grace that has been present for so, so long.

Faith isn’t simple—it tests us; yet the harder test is seeing people hurting others….it can effect our faith!  People can turn us off to being Christ followers because they are as imperfect as us—ugh!!

Dear Jonathan ~I understand your challenge but…..is it your disappointment with people, or have you never seen God show up for you in a personal way?

At 61- I have seen God show up in my life in incredible ways; healings, finances, opportunities, and so much more.  Oh sweet Jonathan, I think you are disappointed by people and I understand that. But, God is real, God is good, and His shoulders are big enough for your disappointments. I am praying for you.

The Need to Fit in~

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Watsonville High School Wildcat

I grew up in a farming community. I grew up on a 54-acre apple ranch, and you need to know that all our apples went to Martinelli’s Apple Cider so we were a great help to the start of this non- alcoholic celebration drink! I grew up 20 minutes from town and all those around us had property they had to take care of too. I didn’t grow up  “in town”!

I went to a sweet rural Elementary School called Salcipuedes, which sadly means “get out if you can”!! Our little school went from Kindergarten to 8th grade so we students knew one another from the time we lost teeth to the time we had our first crush.

When we reached Jr. High we moved to the campus just across the field; we felt so grown up!! We had a track behind our classrooms where we would walk and talk together at lunch breaks and recesses. If you were really lucky you would get to wear the jacket of your “boyfriend” so that everyone knew someone had chosen you! I remember wearing Danny Byrd’s jacket, a corduroy jacket brown in color….It wasn’t even cold but it was an innocent badge of honor.

Our school was a small pond compared to the other Jr. High’s in the area. We were hicks in comparison to the kids we considered so cool and we were a much smaller group of students than the other Jr. Highs in town.

When I became a Freshman at Watsonville High School; especially coming from a tiny pond to this big ocean; I felt lost. I didn’t know where I fit. All my fellow students were placed in many other classes; most days I never saw my “elementary school family”. I wasn’t sure where I could fit in.

My High school experience was a mix of getting to know wonderful people and making really poor choices to try to fit in with those I perceived as being “cool”, to be honest……I lost myself in the process of trying to be “cool” too.  I was  just a simple girl from a family of 8 with a strong religious upbringing, surrounded by love and apple trees!

During this time of “pause” in our would it might be good to take inventory of your life and choices.  Have you, like me, tried to fit into situations and friendship groups that in all reality don’t fit in with who you are and who you want to be??

I believe that we can, if needed, restart some of our behavior; even friendship groups to help us be our BEST selves in the days ahead. This is our time to re-think and take back some ground we may have given away. Be who your heart says you are and shake off trying to be who others want you to be! THIS is a perfect time for a re-start!

Who do you really want to be going forward?  Where might a few compromises have led you down a path that feels like the  wrong direction?  THIS is your re-start! use it well!  YOU are worth it!! 🙂

Today I was just sad~

 

 

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Today I was just sad. I think everything caught up with my heart and I hit a sadness I had not yet felt till today. I am a hugger, a connecter, a people person; that is how I’ve always lived my life. When I read or hear about so many precious people suffering, losing loved ones, and dealing with isolation depression I want to fix the situation for them and I cannot.

I had some sweet phone calls today with precious people offering help if it was needed and I was simply brought to tears by their goodness; by their generosity. This is a season where there is a great deal of kindness being shown and it’s both inspiring and humbling.

We don’t know when this will end and we don’t know how this will end but I believe our faith and resilience will bring us all through to a new place……I doubt we will take as much for granted as we may have before.

When I have to walk through a grocery store it is evident that people are anxious around one another, barely getting eye contact. This is so strange to see one another as a threat instead of seeing one another as family and friends. I pray this stigma does not remain once this is over.

People are scared. People are worried. People are isolated. I am digging deep to try and figure out how I can creatively reach out and be an encouragement. The world has changed but if each of us look for ways to love on and care for those whom we love or those who are suffering we will help make this world a better place and hopefully lift the sadness many are feeling; like me today.

I don’t have any brilliant answers –just wanted to be real.

When Life Blows Up~

 

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We all experience ups and downs in our lives. We all walk through good seasons and challenging seasons. Often times we’ve made choices that have ended up having negative results and we’ve had to walk it out. For many of us unexpected losses, a job, marriage, the stock market, sickness, etc. have “happened upon us” and it takes a lot of courage to keep moving forward with hope.

However, there are times when our lives can feel like they’ve blown up! Challenges and changes can come with such intensity that we are left with heavy dread and hopelessness. It’s easy to get into a downward plunge that can emotionally spiral out of control.

You may be thinking, “Wow! I’ve never really felt that way” or you may be thinking “I’m in that season right now”.

Almost 9 years ago when my Nephew was murdered I was ill prepared for the emotional trauma that would follow for my sister, my family, but also for me personally at so many levels. My church theology I had believed all my life that If you prayed for your family no harm will come to them was completely shattered. The depth of sadness took me to a really dark place that felt too heavy to bear. My outlook, in the midst of that season was new to me and with all my counseling and coaching experience I had zero answers for myself.

I have friends whom, right at this moment are going through a “life tsunami” that feels dark, hopeless, and incredibly uncertain. I ache for the process they are walking through because there is no magic wand to turn it all around.

There are some really key elements that are important for all of us whether we are walking through a hard season or what feels like a tsunami and I’d like to encourage you with a few:

  • Don’t isolate yourself! None of us are great at cheerleading ourselves in tough times. We tend to be hard on ourselves and negative in our outlook. WE NEED GOOD PEOPLE especially in these times.
  • Choose to forgive well-meaning friends or family who are clumsy in their efforts to be a source of encouragement. Statements like “Oh, I know just how your feel” can sound like nails on a chalkboard! Try to see their heart in their clumsy efforts and don’t become angry.
  • Take care of yourself! Rest, exercise, eat good food, don’t over medicate with alcohol, be careful about what you watch, read, and listen to (a lot of stuff available to us can be dark and emotional which is not helpful) and find cup-filling activities that can give you joy  even in the midst of an over-whelming season.
  • Find someone to talk to. Find counselor, a coach, a trusted spiritual advisor. Journal your thoughts and try to find 3 things to be grateful for every day no matter how small they might be.
  • Lastly, don’t be mad at God. I hear this so often and even said it myself during my darkest time “Where were you?” “Why didn’t you change the outcome? “ “But, I’ve trusted you and tried to be a good person!!” These comments and more feel very real at the time but they are not truth. We do have a God who cares deeply for us and wants to walk with us and comfort us in our darkest moments. We live in a world where there is illness, hateful people, tragedies that affect everyone on the planet! But, if we lose hope in God and separate ourselves from Him in anger or distrust we will miss the very comfort and hope we are longing for.

You may have a shattered faith, or have never had any kind of a trust in God and I am not assuming all my readers do. All I can pass on to you is what I’ve learned and experienced; the only way I climbed out of one of my darkest seasons was by the strength, hope, and kindness of God and I would be amiss to give you tidbits of good ideas and then leave out the greatest source of hope and healing I have ever known.

Seasons of challenge can be very real. To all of us in a season of calm; extend your hand and heart to help carry someone in a life tsunami. Don’t judge.

There’s a verse that I love. It’s a tough one to read in the midst of an overwhelming season but it’s beautiful to read it in hindsight and know it is true.

 

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire (of life) you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

 

 

 

 

A Better Way~

 

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Sunday afternoon I made a quick trip to the grocery store to grab a few items for a family dinner later in the day. I had just come from attending my first bi-lingual church service where the pastor shared an inspiring message about how we are all family, that even with our differences and disagreements we are all family.

As I looked around the room I knew there were those with whom I could not converse as I speak no Spanish and they spoke no English~ but yet as we caught eyes we knew we were family! This was a rich, rich reminder that served as an important backdrop to the remainder of my day.

Walking into the grocery store a ragged young man with piercing blue eyes sat in the gusty wind in front of the store. He had a dirty jacket and an old blanket. I said “good afternoon” in a perky fashion and made my way into the store.

I barely had a foot inside the store when I felt a huge dose of sadness that overwhelmed me. Here I was ready to buy amazing food items for our dinner and all I could do was pass him quickly and give him a perky Hello? Was giving him a smile the extent of my human ”family” connection to him? Ugh! I felt so disappointed in myself!

As I paid for my groceries I purchased a $50.00 Grocery store certificate and a Starbucks coffee. I was anxious as I rounded the corner and saw him still there huddled up in the cold. I sat down beside him and gave him my offerings, His beautiful blue eyes welled up with tears and he said, “ I felt invisible today” Thank you for paying attention to me. I hugged him and we said goodbye.

Driving out of the parking lot I looked his way only to see him weeping; hands covering his face. I was thankful for God’s graciousness to me by challenging me to respond to the amazing teaching I had received hours earlier – I was sad that God HAD to remind me.

What difference does my faith make in my day-to-day interactions?

I pray I can better live out the truth that” they will know we are Christians by our love”. Thought I’d be honest about my own struggle.

What’s Your Word for 2020?

Dianna Salciccioli

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Words are powerful. Words can encourage us, give us clarity, and words can be a powerful catalyst for change in our lives.   What do you feel when I say “broken”,” hopeless”, or ” powerless”?  What do you feel when I say “impacting”, “empowered”, or “inspirational”?  Isn’t it amazing how words can actually have an emotional impact on us!

As a Coach I always like to ask my clients if they have a “word” for the year, a word that would serve as a laser beam to keep them on track with what they’d really like to accomplish or apply to their lives.

If you were asked to stop and consider a word for the coming year what might that word be?  If you look back over the past year; what you experienced and what you learned, and then you look toward the year ahead….what kind of person do you want…

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Red Bell Ringers~

 

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It had snowed that day and was probably 24 degrees. She stood there ringing her bell for the Salvation Army. To be truthful, I am suspect that weeks before I had seen her with a sign on the corner of the roadway; her sign said “anything will help”. I was actually happy to see she was willing to “work” in order to earn money for herself.

She smiled her toothless smile and I put a few bucks in the red pot! Then I said “ would you like a coffee?’ to which she replied “a small black coffee would be wonderful. I smiled and expressed to her that I was talking about a really yummy coffee like a Mocha with whip cream. She stared at me for a moment and then said, “I haven’t had a coffee like that in over 10 years”. After completing my shopping I purchased her a coffee and a $15.00 Gift Certificate so that she could have another during the holidays!

Arriving at home I pondered the simplicity of blessing people. It’s not scary, it’s not complicated, and it’s truly cup-filling if you care about people. I don’t toot my horn to make it sound like I’m wonderful by any means but rather to express that the Holidays can be lonely and sad for many people. This is a beautiful time to choose to walk out your kindness for others! It could be a fresh, clean blanket for a homeless man, a coffee for a stranger, or paying for the groceries of the single mom with whom it’s obvious she is struggling to pay. There’s just so many ways to show love!

The holidays are a prefect time; it will fill your soul!

 

Luke 6:38 says:

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

 

Have a heartfelt Christmas season!

Fake Flowers~

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In the warm summer evenings my husband and I love to take an evening walk after dinnertime. We love waving at neighbors, chatting, and enjoy looking at the hard work that our neighbors have poured into their yards during our very short summer season.

At the very beginning of our walk there sits a small home, probably built in the 70’s. The yard is immaculate and is often a place where a family of deer will go to sit in the cool grass on a hot day.

However, there was always one thing that confused us as we walked by this lovely little yard; on a small fence that surrounded the yard there was always a big vase of fake flowers. In Spring the flowers were pink and yellow, in summer a mix of red and greens, then in the Fall they were orange, yellow, and brown. We would always chuckle and wonder why these home owners would place this vase of fake flowers in their yard when it was already lovely with real flowers!

Mr. Rea and his wife, we later learned, are the owners of that little home. Mr. Rea is an older man, probably nearer to 90 than to 80.  Every day Mr. Rae would walk a loop through our neighborhood stooped over so significantly that many of us would feel concerned for him. Mr. Rae was known in our neighborhood as a friendly old man; he would say hello to those he would pass. It was always a treat to see him.

Two weeks ago the fake flowers disappeared.  A “For Sale” sign was placed in front of the yard. We haven’t seen Mr. Rea in a while. Taking a walk last week my husband and I looked wistfully at the spot where we had always viewed those crazy fake flowers before and we wished, now, that there was still a tall vase of fake flowers sitting there.

Times passes quickly and you never know when you may have your last interaction with someone in your life. This is a good reminder to share a smile, say hello, and to show kindness as you go through your days leaving you with no regrets.

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OUCH!

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Isn’t it so easy to be offended? So often we can take a simple statement and add layers of meaning to it –especially if we’ve experienced hurt before.   We can apply the identical angst in our present relationships to those of the past and so often we are misunderstanding others because of this.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote some really good thoughts about this very topic in her devotional “Embraced”. In it she gave such good advice that I want to share it with you! We women can get offended and read into comments so easily—the enemy LOVES this! Because of this I just had to share her wise words!

  1. When I’m tired or stressed I’m likely to interpret interactions way more emotionally than I should. I should wait to respond until I’ve had time to rest!
  2. Believe the best before assuming the worst. The person you are in a seemingly conflict with probably didn’t have an intent to hurt me!
  3. Clarify, Clarify, Clarify! When in doubt, don’t assume anything. Be brave enough to ask! Our past can cause us to add commentary that in all truth –doesn’t even apply to this situation.

If you are like me, you will find these steps so full of truth! Be unoffendable as much as possible. So many times we are lacking all the needed information when we indict others intentions!!

 

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

James 1:19

Mothers of Teens!! READ THIS!!

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As a 20 year Life and Business Coach I often have incredible mother’s who secretly connect with me and share their fears and challenges of raising kids between the ages of 12 and 17.   Yes, I’ve raised 2 boys….Yes, I’ve learned a few things along the way but~~~However,  I WAS that difficult teenager. My poor, wonderful parents had to face the challenges I threw at them for many years.

Because I WAS that girl I want to give parents 10 things to remember while parenting your pre-adult children:

  1. Hormones cause brain damage—those hormones cause emotions that will settle down in a while but they cause boys and girls to become incredibly emotional and dramatic—this will pass!
  2. It’s not personal. I knew how to hurt my parents with comments like “you’re the worst parents ever!” “I hate you!!”   I promise you, I said all of that and more!  I did not mean a word of it!  I was just mad I wasn’t getting my way!
  3. The insecurity of a teen is real! I remember wondering “ where do I fit in?” “do I fit in?” Why are all the popular girls skinny while I have wide hips?”  Seems silly but for a teen these challenges are real! Be patient and help your kids find something they are really good at! Once you find your niche’ it’s easier to navigate peer pressure.
  4. Stay an adult! Don’t argue with your child at their level!! Do you remember believing you knew everything until you  grew up and had a family of your own?? In hindsight we would all say “wow, we didn’t know anything!!”
  5. Don’t make the “bad boy or the bad girl” attractive by demonizing them. When I was told I couldn’t date a certain boy I ran away from home because I knew my parents “just didn’t understand him” which made the attraction even bigger! Find a creative way to bring that person closer to your home and they may self-select out!
  6. Your kids know your family values! Even when I was misbehaving I knew I was doing all the wrong things, I just wanted to fit in- to be cool!  Pray for your kids- for safety, for wisdom, and for purpose!!
  7. Don’t let your teens cause strife in your marriage because they will play off of that! I would walk a mile to the end of our driveway to “talk” with my dad before he got home! During that “talk “I would let him know how mean mom had been!! (I know, I was awful. My mom got very hurt during those years)
  8. Some situations may be more than your teens bargained for –sex, porn etc! Don’t shame them, keep the conversation open and focus on the cost of the behavior.  Being shamed or being told they are “bad” will only cause them to feel they are damaged goods and they will act out.
  9. Cover them in love even when they hurt you. Love is actually what they are crying out for! This takes patience and maturity on your part.
  10. Don’t let yourself go to the “worst case scenario”, don’t decide they will never be a good adult, don’t decide they will get pregnant, don’t decide they will become a drug addict! That kind of thinking will make you respond out of fear rather than faith!!

At my 10 year Class reunion I had my fellow students ask the simple question “so what do you do now? To which I replied “I am a Pastor’s Wife”……my classmates looked a little surprised! My teen years were certainly a winding road but God had his eyes on me all along.

God has your kids too! Have faith, pray, love, and work hard to be as unoffendable as possible! Your teens love you- but they just want their way!