Fabiola’s Note~~

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For 10 years of my adult life I had the incredible joy of mentoring many teens through their Jr. High and High School years.  There were times of joy and sadness, challenge and depth, crazy fun and shared experiences.  What a privilege.

All of these amazing “kids” have grown and moved on into productive lives of education, occupations, ministry, marriage, even parenting ( that makes me feel old). I am abundantly proud of each and every one of them; always thrilled to hear updates on their lives.

A couple months ago I received an unexpected note from Fabiola~ a precious young woman who was involved in my life during those mentoring years. I will share a portion of it with you:

“Hi Dianna!
Ok this is super random, but I was just thinking about you guys the other day. And I was remembering all the times that we used to hang out at your house, and you ALWAYS made the best food! I was just thinking about how cool it was that you were so involved in our lives, and would invite David’s friends over to get to know them. Made me feel so at home as I was hanging out with these new Christians.

Anyway, sorry to be so cheesy. But honestly, hanging out at your house and doing fun things there kept me out of trouble in high school and in good company. Sometimes when I hear about what the kids in high school are doing now – it breaks my heart.  I know I’m speaking for our whole class. Just so cool, honestly. Thank you for pouring into our lives.

Wow~ I remember the impact that this note had on my heart.  I was blessed to hear that there was continued fruit from time well spent with these great kids!

The reason I chose to share these thoughts is because all of us have people who are, or have been in our lives who may not know how much they impacted us! Perhaps we are too uncomfortable to share it, we assume that they may know,  or it seems like their impact was such a long time ago……there are many reasons.

How about taking some time to list those people who have had meaningful impact on your life and then choose to creatively let them know in 2013! What a fabulous way to begin a brand new year: gratefulness and appreciation.

Fabiola’s note was a sweet reminder of how much words of affirmation matter~~for all of us!

Happy “intentional” New Year to You! 🙂

Wall of Love!

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Aw… The Wall of Love!

There are so many things I love about the Christmas season; Pumpkin Latte’s, Christmas Music, old corny holiday movies on Hallmark, parties, and ugly Christmas Sweaters!!!

But one thing I really really love is my ever growing Wall of Love!

As thoughtful Christmas cards begin to make my mailbox smile I have the joy of looking at pictures of precious people who matter so much to me!!  Other than Facebook, My Wall of Love is the only place where I am free to gather college friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, childhood buddies, and fellow Christ followers!

As I gaze into the faces looking back at me I am reminded of shared meals, girls nights, hard work, late nights studying over cold nasty pizza, Woman’s Teas, ministry years, working in the community, and shared family experiences!  Looking into the eyes of same- age friends standing by their adult ( or almost adult) children and I know they, too, are surprised at how they got here so quickly.

Ultimately~ I am able to look at each picture with care and pray for them throughout the season and for a time I feel a renewed closeness to them all!

Perhaps you pile all your pictures in a basket after happily viewing them! But maybe you too could build a Wall of Love and make those pictures matter EVEN more this year.  May the faces staring back at you remind you that you are loved, remembered, and genuinely wished a wonderful Christmas season!

Tips to Successful Relationships~

Relationships matter!

Relationships can bring us our greatest joys and our deepest wounds. We can’t control how others choose to respond in their relationships with us, but we can establish our own ground rules for having and maintaining quality relationships.

Below are some thoughts to consider as you navigate the relationships in your life:

1.  Surround yourself with positive people- finding like-minded, positive people will fill your cup. Spending the bulk of your time with those who suck the happiness out of you is unwise and unhealthy.

2. Accept people just the way they are – Save yourself the needless stress of trying to change people who don’t want to change. Fight the urge to engage in fruitless conversations, rather look for areas where you can agree and show support.

3. Forgive people and move forward –  holding anger or bitterness affects us much more than the individual we have been hurt by.  Forgiveness is not saying “What you did or said was okay.”  It is saying “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness or steal my joy.” It doesn’t mean you forget it simply means that you choose to let go.

4.   Do little things for those in your life –  A card, a visit, a gift, an email, a text. Simply take opportunities to connect with and appreciate those your care about.  We all feel a little more valuable when we realize that someone has been thinking of us.

5.  Talk a little less, listen a little more –  Our relationships will grow if we move away from being the talker and take the time to listen! A listening ear is the greatest gift we could give to those we love.

6.  Be Loyal – be the kind of person that believes the best about those you love. Everyone needs to know that someone “has their back”. Be that person.

7.  Pick your battlegrounds – don’t pick petty arguments. We aren’t always “right”.  Focus on the things that truly matter and let the small stuff go!

8.  Encourage and cheer them on –  be excited for those you love! Spur them on! Don’t look at their opportunities or dreams with the lens of what it will cost you, rather keep them the priority.

9.  Remember that everyone has baggage –  we all enter relationship with a suitcase filled with past experiences; successes, disappointments, hurts, etc.  Sometimes that “baggage” effects the relationship and needs to be addressed. However, using grace and understanding will always be the most fruitful approach.

10. Let go of friendships that are no longer healthy – some relationships can run their course and a necessary ending needs to take place. To force relationships to continue when the season is over can be exhausting and eventually more harmful than good.  Be willing to appreciate the relationship for what it was, and then release it and move forward.

Relationships are our most valuable assets and worth the effort to keep them strong and healthy! Test these tips out and see if they help create healthier interactions in your relationships. AND–Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

The “C” Word~

My blog has been a place where I’ve openly shared experiences, challenges, and thoughts about life, leadership, family, and many other lifestyle topics.  I’ve often said to folks “if you want to know what’s been going on in my life just read my blog.” However, this past summer I’ve help something tightly, carefully, in order to give the necessary privacy that was needed.

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I have learned that the words “CANCER FREE” are the GREATEST words in the world!

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Over the past 4 months my father was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. My father responded with great hope and willingness to do what was necessary to partner with the doctors facing this challenge head on. My father is vibrant and healthy again today and our entire family is greatly relieved.

The “C Word” caused great turmoil in my soul as I worried, fretted, prayed, and then prayed some more for my precious father. Even though he was a real trooper it was rough to see him so vulnerable to the medical steps he needed to follow and to those administering them. To the medical professionals he was just another patient, but to his family he is our hero, our friend, our encourager, our Father!!! There were numerous times that I wanted to storm into the offices and make that very declaration!

One hour ago I learned of a dear friend who lost her battle with Cancer. Tami had fought a valiant fight. She was loved and will be deeply missed. I have lost many friends to the “C word”, as have thousands of people around the world. Thus, I must express how deeply grateful I am for my fathers health and healing. I am blessed for every moment I get to share with him. My appreciation for my time with him has heightened during these past few months!

I have no exquisite thoughts or answers for those facing cancer in themselves or a loved one, it’s a very personal challenge and people face it in their own ways. BUT~ I do realize more and more the value of time with those we love, so on that thought I must say one thing.  If you have the opportunity to spend time with those you love; simply make it a priority today!

The most important thing in life is making time for the people that matter, for the people you care about and that care about you. The hard fact is – when it comes down to it – people and relationships really are the most important things we have in life. Your life wouldn’t be “quality filled” if the people you loved weren’t a part of it…. from the family and friends we see on a regular basis – to the people who live far away, or live on different schedules…. its important to make time for all of them.

🙂   🙂   🙂

Why Wait?

So often people wait until someone passes away to tell them of their value; of their impact. I have seen in the news that many express their adoration, respect, and love for people AFTER their lives have ended.  Why do we do this??  I have been pondering this lately.

My parents are very much alive; for this I am so incredibly thankful!!! Their friendship and impact on my life is truly immeasurable! I am going to allow you into my heart as I express my feelings, my thoughts to them while they are vital and healthy~~I will not wait until it becomes an obituary!

Mom and Dad, David and Beverly Wray~~~I love you.

More than loving you; I respect you. I could never ask for parents with greater love, richer hearts, sweeter spirits, and a tenacity to love others than YOU!

How I got so blessed, so fortunate to have you as my parents is a real mystery for which I will be eternally grateful!

Thank you for loving God and for accepting Christ as your Savior! That decision alone impacted my life more than you can ever know.

Thank you for being willing to allow black boys from Kenya to live with us in the 60’s ` in the height of Racism without caring what others might think.

Thank you for adopting my two sisters whose lives carried promise but had endured much neglect, loving them as your own and calling them your daughters~ your example and depth of love is so precious!

Thank you for a lifetime of safety, of love, of discipline, of teaching, and mostly a legacy of great faith.

I remember singing in the car, learning to cook, sewing, camping, picking apples, singing in the church choir,  and learning to play piano.

Thank you for teaching us empathy and letting us purchase and deliver gifts for those who were hurting and lonely on our street (Green Valley Road) at Christmas time.  These opportunities to love others during the holidays had HUGE impact on the person I have become.

I remember many heartfelt conversations, as well as needed challenges.  Because of your tough love at the age of 19; you helped me to grow into the woman God wanted me to be!

Mom, Solvang with you was precious. The chocolate on the side of the bathtub as you drew water for me spoke of the greatness of your love and the sensitivity of your heart!

Dad, you are my sweet spiritual mentor~~ we have shared hours and hours of conversations that have let me know two things: how deeply you love God and how richly you love me.

Mom and dad~ you have been our greatest cheerleaders, our wisest counselors, our sweetest helps in times of emotional and financial need, and the most precious grandparents to our children who completely adore you!

I love you both. I am so thankful that I get to see you, love you, talk and laugh with you whenever I want to!!! I am so very blessed!

You mean the world to me! I love you

Dianna

Is there anyone you want/need to share your heart with??? why wait??

DO IT TODAY! 🙂

The incredible VALUE of shared experiences~

“But we can’t right now, our lives are too busy!”

  ” I know we have some money put away but let’s just wait and see how this year goes!” 

“I’m sorry but  this is a stressful season at work!”

All valid reasons, They all make sense but perhaps we could address the core issue.

I was blessed to be raised in a family where shared experiences: meals, game nights, camping, and many other options were a rich value. These experiences tended to be the glue that connected our hearts, caused laughter, and helped remind us that we were family, even during those tough teen years.

In like fashion, my husband and I have taken time and resources to build the tradition of shared experiences into the DNA of our family; it is our prayer that they will do the same with their own families.

However, I often hear from friends and colleagues that their lives are too busy, finances too tight, relationships too challenged, and ideas too hard to come by when looking into the possibility of a vacation, or other experience opportunities.

I used to have the idea that making memories could be something we can do “later on”, in a few years, down the road but after losing a precious family member last year my filter has done a 180 degree change.  None of us can count on tomorrow, nor can we count on the fact that we will always have all our family members or our health.

You might say that this is a fearful approach to life; pessimistic perhaps, but I would differ with you and would clarify that it is due diligence to “seize the day”.  Lay down those aforementioned excuses and plan a vacation, have game nights, go on hikes, cook together, dream together, do life together.  The real cost is your time and today is all you know for sure.

Over 24 months ago we took an untimely (and a kind of expensive) trip to Southern California to visit precious family there, went to Disneyland with them and had a very special shared experience with them all……   It was the last time I got to laugh with Christopher……………….It is more priceless a memory than I could have ever imagined!

We are embarking on the doorway of summer!! Use this time to lay down the cell phone, computer, daily worries and make fresh memories and meaningful connections with those you have the privilege to love!! Make a summer list and begin today!

The Power of Grace~

Ever had a day where you beat yourself up for missing the “mark” somehow, and that very day you receive a card from someone expressing how much you mean to them? I have.

Ever had a season where you feel you are falling short of your goals and deeper purposes, and you get a call from someone telling you they have watched your life and would like to glean wisdom from you.  I have.

Ever doubted your abilities, feeling fearful to embrace new opportunities only to be invited to lead in a fresh way because someone fully “believes in your abilities to lead?”   I have.

You feel like you deserve judgement when in comes blessing….

I find this so perplexing because I  (we) can be so hard on ourselves, beating ourselves up with negative talk, worried about what others “might” think, when in all truth, we are surrounded by Grace.

Grace – God’s unmerited favor is so much like this.  We sin, we fail, we disappoint and yet…He loves, He sees the good, He blesses…………

Grace is mentioned 170 times in the Bible. Wow. We must need to be reminded over and over again.

2nd Corinthians 12:9 says  “My Grace is sufficient for thee…”

I know I will not always hit the mark, say all the right things, act perfectly, catch all the social ques, or make every right choice but I will do the very best I can…………and at the end of the day I will continue to be so incredibly grateful for His Grace!

His Grace IS sufficient for YOU!

“Sorry, You’re Not In The Club!”

I have always been fascinated by people~~ I love their stories, experiences, uniqueness’s, and even the challenges they may bring. Yet there is a type of behavior that I have observed; even been impacted by that I believe ought to be addressed or at least considered….

In High School students join a team, the choir, or a club….they share experiences, laughter, challenges, and responsibilities and then, for some reason or another, they withdraw from their involvement and to their surprise they experience the feeling of “Sorry, Your Not In The Club!”.  Since they are no longer a participant in that group  the interactions begin to become stilted, even awkward or non-existent. I watched this happen over and over in college as well.

Imagine my naive surprise when my husband and I stepped out into church ministry –serving our hearts out, watching others work and serve hard as well, only to watch the same behavior surface when we or others sensed God moving in a fresh direction. Obedience to what He desired caused many who served faithfully and selflessly to experience the feeling of “Sorry, You’re Not In The Club.” People became distant, relationships strained, and a new awkwardness set in…..

In business I have watched this apply as well; as those who have served on teams, building the goals of the Company and supporting the vision, move in a fresh direction after years of service that same awkward sense sets in once again. And I am left to wonder why?

Should we not value the times we have shared and served together? Should we not be reminded by fond memories of experiences and challenges weathered together? Should we not allow our teammates to fly free, to grow, and to chart a fresh course for their lives with the joy of knowing they will always matter to us?

I often ponder these questions!  What about you? What are your thoughts on this?

As I turn to the Word of God I find true nuggets hidden in the pages!

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 20:6
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Proverbs 17:17

A Friend Loves at all times. 

I wonder if we could stretch harder to stay connected to those who have served alongside our lives, ministries, or jobs remaining so grateful to who they have been in our lives and for all they have done whether in our church, community, or place of work!

As the silly song from a Disney movie expresses:

Boy, and as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You’re gonna see it’s our destiny
You’ve got a friend in me 🙂

Pinterest

The first time someone asked if I was following Pinterest, I said “WHAT IS THAT?”.  As the site was explained to me I initially thought; “oh my, do I need another online distraction in my life?”  and then I found myself curious.

As I began to investigate this new phenomenon, I became fascinated! Thousand of individuals around the globe are finding items and ideas that identify what they like, what their favorite style is, gifts they’d love to give, ways to decorate that reflect their personal style.  These ideas are being “Pinned” to a wall and saved there–not only for themselves, but for those who would like the same options and would like to “Re-Pin” them to their own wall.

Recently I have received some precious holiday gifts. When I asked where the idea had been found the automatic answer has been Pinterest; I even snatched an Idea for a gift this year!  What a creative idea.

As I began to reflect on this concept I realized I like being able to look at the walls of those to whom I am familiar and smile because the choices they are making in the ideas and options they have “pinned” truly do reflect how I know them or reveal to me something new and interesting about them.  Often I have said to a fellow Pinner ” I thought you would have chosen that or “that idea made me think of you!”.

Being known & understood is something we all desire.  Being able to express who we are is an element of life that makes us unique from one another. Having our ideas “liked” builds confidence in our creative choices.  This crazy idea of Pinterest allows people that option.

We don’t have to wait to look on someone’s “Wall” to learn about their likes, ideas, and dreams however, sitting together over a grand cup of Holiday Coffee is a very tangible way to get to know all those elements for yourself.  While we have many online options to “learn” about each other let’s not forget to continue to connect face to face with the same interest in our ideas and uniqueness’s!

Enjoy this holiday season and take a little time out to get to know someone in a fresh way!  Now–off to “Pin” this new item I JUST found!! 🙂

The View From My Handlebars~

     Having downsized from acreage and a large home to a condo in the heart of our town has been both refreshing and interesting.  For years I had been afraid of what a change of this magnitude would have on my life, on my sense of stability.  Having been raised all of my life on a 54 acre apple ranch I grew up having the option to find a private place to read, dream, draw, or hum a song our two; I could get completely alone. This season of my life is teaching me something new.

As I realized how close we would live to virtually “everything” I committed in my heart to walk or ride a bike to shop, meet friends for coffee, hit the Farmers’ Market, deliver gifts, or any necessary outing that I calendared. Finding my cool cruiser bike on Craig’s List for a mere $100 was a valuable find!  I named her Dixie and we’ve been doing life together consistently over the past 2 weeks.

Riding my cruiser has shown me some really cool things:

  • 1.  I am able to be “alone”. While the breeze blows through my hair I pray, sing, and  dream while dodging traffic, baby strollers, dogs and their owners. I feared this experience would be impossible but I have been able to enjoy the flurry around me without letting it steal my privacy!
  • 2.  My day slows down.  When completing errands using my Explorer I tend to dart here and there yet when riding I have to allow these responsibilities to take extra time, I have to be okay with things taking a little longer.
  • 3. My favorite “aha moment” has been realizing how many amazing things I have missed about my town. The view from my handlebars has been amazing. I’ve visited streets with amazing homes & yards I never knew existed, I’ve seen architecture I’d never laid my eyes on, I’ve seen cute backyards prepared for the dearly loved children, I’ve seen intentional crosses on the sides of streets acknowledging that someone loved had died in a car accident, and I’ve seen flowers along busy streets that are beautiful!! I just never slowed down enough to notice!  “Dixie” has afforded me the opportunity to see my life, my town, from a fresh perspective.

This season of my life is unique and I am grateful for it, but I just wonder how many other meaningful things I may have missed over all these years because  I didn’t give myself permission to slow down, to simply notice all the lovely, sad, amazing, and beautiful things that have been right in front of me.

Do you need permission today? Well, permission granted!!!  Take some time to see what life looks like from behind your handlebars.