Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When Relationships Break and You Desperately Want to Be Whole Again

Have your hopes been dashed into pieces when you tried to make a relationship work and the other person didn’t respond as you wished?

Have you asked someone to forgive you, but  he or she didn’t respond as you desired?

Have you prayed for healing in a relationship, but your prayers haven’t been answered?   

I understand these overwhelming disappointments all too well, as one of the most important relationships in my life was lost. 

I am offering insights from the journey of that devastating experience to help not only those who have faced similar circumstances, but … 

Restored brings a message of hope to everyone that you can be restored, even when a relationship isn’t. 

YOU can be restored, even if the other person doesn’t respond as you wished.
YOU can be restored, even if your spouse leaves you.
YOU can be restored, even if your parent rejects you.
YOU can be restored, even if a friend betrays you.
YOU can be restored, even if you lose the job you love.
YOU can be restored no matter what!

And it doesn’t always involve the cooperation of another. 

Restored brings forward the important truth that no matter what another person chooses to do, we as individuals can be restored, if we put ourselves in position to be. 

Restored isn’t merely my experience of restoration, but rather a spiritual template and a purposeful guide designed to help readers journey through their own restoration process.

Within the pages of this uplifting and insightful story, you will find healing if you will pursue it with your whole heart.  

Available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback, November 2. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When You Shouldn't Invite A Leader to Lunch

If you're going to discuss something that's stressful in the least, don't invite a leader out for a meal to do it.  Even if it's not stressful to you...if you have any inkling -- any feeling at all that the conversation will be such for them, don't ask to meet over a meal. Call them to discuss it, or set a meeting at their office.

Over the years, I've had people invite me to join them for a meal to tell me that they are resigning, stepping down from a ministry, leaving the church, or to pitch a project to me they are doubtful I will support. Perhaps they want to press me for a position or a decision on something they already know I'm not too keen on. If I sense that any of these things are the case, I try to get them to set a meeting that doesn't include mealtimes.

It’s a proven fact that stress affects our digestive system.  

When these types of conversations happen over a meal, I feel pain sometimes as my food is digesting. Meals are meant to be shared in an atmosphere of peace and when it's not so, our health can be affected. 

Maybe people believe sharing a meal together will set an atmosphere to pave the way to my heart. Or if they are asking for something I'm probably not going to say yes to, translation: give them what they want, they believe food will be a good runway to launch their request. Reality is, if they are telling me something I'm not going to be happy about, a soup and salad -- or even chocolate -- aren't going to help the situation. And if they are asking me to do something they sense I'm not comfortable with, I’m going to go the direction God speaks to my heart to go in -- even if I'm in the middle of taking a bite of cake. This is because I live on principle, not by feelings. If I don't believe God wants me to do something, even triple chocolate cake is not going to change anything.

I used to try to finish my meal during one of these stressful times, but I've learned the better option is to take better care of myself. When these occasions come, I leave it sitting there, untouched. And, I wait to eat again when I'm in a peaceful space.

I wondered if I was alone in dealing with this so one day I asked my assistant if she noticed that people invite leaders out to meals to talk about things that will be unpleasant. She remarked that it is common. Her exact words were, “It happens all the time!”  Okay, so I'm not crazy. 

I used to feel utterly trapped when people did this to me, but then I found myself asking why. Why was I the one who was feeling anxiety? Was it because I cared more about the other person's feelings that I continue with the meal? Could it be because at times, they were paying for the meal and I didn't want to seem ungrateful or disappoint?  

So often we damage our health for fear of what others will think, say or do.

Seeking peace comes in different forms and this is one, for me. 

Photo credit:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

For All The People Who Doubt That God Is In the Details...

The finances of our home have something in common with how I lead PF Women. If we don't have the money, we don't do it. Larry and I only have two things on credit -- our home, and our car. Aside from that we don't have any debt that isn't paid off at the end of each month. And, we're tithers who give generously on top of that. We have always been faithful in our giving, and have grown wiser with finances as our marriage has progressed.We are grateful to God for His provision and blessing. So, with these things established:

I wanted to do a project in our yard. It wouldn't be a do-it-yourself project but one that we'd have to hire out. It would include a lot of things that are meaningful to me including multiple larger (more mature) dark pink crepe myrtle trees, rose bushes, hydrangeas, and a lot more. Plans were drawn up and we received an estimate. It would take at least six months to save up for the project. My favorite thing would be the area that would be created in our back yard that would include the crepe myrtle trees which have lots of meaning for me. 

Larry wasn't particularly enthused about any of this but he went along with it because it was important to me. In May, the saving began. I hoped to have all funds needed by the end of October and would not start the project until every penny of it was in savings.

 I let Chris, the landscaper, know the goal was to schedule the work to be done at the end of October. However, during the summer I developed a much stronger desire to get the project done. I knew we would never put any of it on credit, but I considered other possibilities. What could I cut back on, to make getting there quicker a reality? I knew Larry wouldn't want to personally sacrifice anything to make it happen faster because he didn't really care about it like I did.

The idea came to me that I could give up Dunkin Donuts lattes (latte light's with no sugar added, to be exact) until the project was over.   I drink them on the road more than anywhere, partly to stay awake and partly because I like them. Needless to say, I'm on the road a lot and I drink a lot of coffee. It was in the middle of the PF Women Couch Tour that I decided to start going without them entirely and save the money. I said nothing to anyone but Larry. And, he didn't speak to anyone about it.

 A few days later I headed to my next speaking engagement minus my usual latte and much to my surprise when I finished ministering at the church there was a Dunkin Donuts gift card for me tucked inside an envelope. Not only that but - this started happening often! And, although it was remarkable, I never told anyone but Larry, until my season of giving up spending my own money on lattes was over.

 The reason I kept it to myself was because I felt to tell anyone about what I was giving up or that people were suddenly blessing me with Dunkin Donuts gift cards might be perceived as a subtle or a not-so-subtle hint that I wanted to receive even more. I felt it would be dropping it into people's minds that I could use more cards, or they might even want to give something toward my project. If that were to happen naturally it would be one thing, but for me to have anything to do with putting the idea in their minds, I have issue with. I consider it manipulative, actually. So I refrain from anything like this. I believe it's wisdom to keep these things to oneself and let the Lord take care of it.
I continued to be surprised all summer. Despite my secret, it seemed the rest of the world had been clued in by God that this director runs on Dunkin. I ministered at Bellview Church on the Hill one Saturday and drove home. I got settled in my room for bed and opened my Bible to read it before sleep. An envelope fell out that had been tucked inside. When I finished preaching that morning I had placed the Bible on the front row and I realized someone must have tucked it inside during that time when I wasn't paying attention. There was a kind note from one of the leaders of the church and a Dunkin Donuts gift card.

Yes, I know this is a first-world issue but... I never ended up having to give up any lattes because I had more than enough gift cards for the next few months to cover them.  Not only that but we had the funds for the project in five months, not six. 

I called Chris and told him I wanted to get started right away. He said it would be several weeks as he was completely booked. However, he did come by and mark the yard and kill the grass in certain spots to create a new bed in the back yard where the trees would be.

 A week later on Wednesday evening, our sweet dog Maddie tragically and unexpectedly died. She passed away at midnight and we tearfully finished burying her in the yard by 4 am. Thankfully, we knew exactly where we should dig the grave since Chris had clearly marked the yard as to where all the trees and plants were going in. The next day, Chris called to say time had unexpectedly opened up for him and he was sending a crew the next morning to do the work. Within 24 hours of Maddie's death, the project was completed in our yard including the beautiful trees, rosebushes and hydrangeas that now overlook her grave. In a matter of a day a memorial was erected. A project my husband once cared nothing about is now incredibly special and valued -- not just to me, but to him.
God is a good God who gives good gifts to His children. He cares about every   detail of our lives. And of our project.

I am not showing the actual finished product here, but the plans. The reason is, none of this is flowering yet, so none of the beautiful colors can be seen yet, but come spring our yard will bloom like crazy! I would like to show here how it's actually going to look once things are blooming. Note that the crepe myrtles will not be white, but dark pink. Click any photo to enlarge.

Back yard with crepe myrtles that will be dark pink

Our new front yard!

Walkway in front yard
Left of driveway

 And there is our new latest home project with tons of sentimental value, and a and thanks to our right-on-time God.

p.s. Please do not send me any Dunkin Donuts gift cards. I can pay for my own coffee and will probably start purchasing and giving others some cards now that the project is done. :) 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Why Losing a Pet is So Hard

 "Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole." ~ Roger Caras

Five days have passed since Maddie died and it’s still so hard. (Please don’t give me the advice, “Time for a puppy!” We don’t want another puppy and besides that, we have our beloved Max.)

Maddie wasn’t just an animal. She was family. I came across this article about how the death of a pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative. People who haven’t ever have “fur kids” as many call them, will never understand that or much else about our relationship with them. 

I have thought about why the bond between people and their pets is so strong and there are a myriad of reasons. The first that most people mention is unconditional love. That's true. I also believe the loss of a pet is so traumatic because no one else is in your personal space so much, except a spouse. 

Max and Maddie (and now just Max) sit faithfully alongside while I put my make up on and blow dry my hair. They are there when I’m just walking around my room in my underwear.  They see me as no one else does except my husband. And, they listen for hours on end and provide endless affection. Rarely if ever do I take a nap without one of them nuzzled beside me.  

I miss so many things about Maddie and can’t wrap my head around the fact that she’s gone. Colder weather is coming and she always warmed up my feet before I went to sleep, laying at the bottom of the bed. Larry has always drawn the line at them sleeping with us, so they had to go to their own space while we sleep, BUT (and this is a big but!) they know when morning arrives even if it's not daylight yet. At five or six in the morning, they will whine to ask if they can hop up. Maddie was deaf from birth but one notable thing about her was her manners. She would always quietly whimper at the side of the bed, waiting for Larry or me to wave and let her know it was okay to jump up. She absolutely would not come up with us unless we waved to her that it was okay.  

When Larry went away by himself overnight to a men's conference or something, I would always tell the dogs, "tonight we get to break the rules!!" and I would sleep sandwiched between the both of them.

Our family has so many memories with Maddie including pulling together to nurse her back to health, 24/7 after her accident. She was loved by so many people not just our family, but people everywhere.

Maddie nuzzled against my thigh on a chair while I wrote countless articles and books. In addition to being deaf, she experienced a near fatal accident but rose above her challenges with the sweetest spirit. She was always an example to me in that regard. I would often tell myself that if she could rise above her obstacles, I could too. I have long said that my dogs have more fruit of the spirit than many Christians.

The price of love is grief.

I will grieve for a long time, missing our Maddie girl.