Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live Life Now

My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

So ended a poetic illustration by speaker Luci Swindoll.  Luci's advice to the Women of Faith attendees was to "Live fully in this moment.  Life fully now."

This is my last Tampa Women of Faith post.  It was a tremendous experience, one I will always cherish.  I have a new friend, Gina, and I had some amazing women pour into my spirit.

It was appropriate for them to end the conference with Luci Swindoll.

Luci Swindoll is nearly 80 years old and she has an arthritic knee, but she also has a deep reservoir of wisdom and joy.  Luci's message was about experiencing joy.

We don't always like where we find ourselves and we expend a vast amount of energy wanting something else, waiting for something else.  As Luci says, "We've forgotten what it means to be happy."

About life, Luci said, "It's a gift and it's called life.  Don't miss it be always wanting something else."

How many women spend time wishing they could go back to happier times or waiting and hoping for better times?  If we spent our time and energy on making the most of where we are today with what we have today, we will be happier people.

And the world will be a happier place.

Luci admonished us to "Do something for your soul, something that will make life fuller or richer or more substantial within."

And she asked us, "What are those things that turn your joy crank?"

When it was all said and done, I thought (and tweeted), "Luci Swindoll is the grandma everyone dreams of, and every child deserves."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes Getting Beyond the Pain Means Getting Out of the Boat

Angie looks deranged in this picture, doesn't she?  I assure you she's not.  She is a powerful and funny speaker.

I can't relate Angie Smith's talk which centered on the loss of her daughter.  I can't do it justice.

Too painful.

Too close to home.

We too lost a daughter to physical challenges identified while she was yet in utero.  Our Stephanie was a stillbirth; Angie got to hold her daughter until she breathed her last breath a few hours after delivery.

Both are devastating experiences.

Angie talked about impossible faith using the story of Peter being asked to walk on water and, because he realized it wasn't something he should be able to do, he began to sink.  To paraphrase, Angie said, "Every day we have to choose between what the world tells us and allows us access to, and a man who tells us He is the Son of God."

I sobbed through her talk, especially once she took a moment to recognize all the women in the audience who had experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, in keeping with the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I thought I was over it.

Not "over it."  You're never over this.

Rather, I thought I had made my peace with my loss.

No, I haven't.

Not sure I ever fully will.

The thought that came to my mind was that getting past the pain is not the same as being healed from the hurt.  Pain tolerance can grow over time.

Healing for this thing seems impossible.

It will require impossible faith.

What I also know is that Jesus will hold your hand and walk with you even as you are walking in pain.  He, of course, is waiting for me to give my pain and my inability to forgive myself for what I see as my fault to Him, but as long as I'm carrying it, He'll still be right there by my side to soothe and to comfort so that I can bear it. 

Until I no longer have to because He does.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You Angry?


Anger is dangerous.  It's hurtful and devastating to those we love.  To ourselves.

Nicole Johnson told us anger is unique for women.  Women find it hard to admit to being angry.  When asked, "What's wrong?", we often reply, "Nothing", internalizing rather than expressing the anger.

I know that's true for me.  I will go so far as to say I'm hurt or disappointed, but I realized I rarely ever admit to being angry.

But Nicole also told us, "Anger is never buried dead.  It's always alive."

Anger lies in wait, for just the right moment--or I should say, for just the wrong moment--to explode.  It erupts and overflows like hot lava, spilling onto everyone and everything in its path.

As Nicole continued to teach about anger, she told us that we have as much right to be angry as we do be thirsty.  Anger is made up of hurt, fear and frustration, the frustration simmering on the top.

It's what we do with the anger.

Nicole continued to share about dealing with anger, using her divorce as an object lesson, but she was three things that will stay with me:

"You need people who will walk alongside you, not throw rocks at you."

"No other God has wounds."

"God has the best recycling program.  He takes the trash of our lives and turns it into treasure.  He sees what we cannot see for ourselves.  He turns us in the most beautiful creations."

Are you angry?  Who are you angry with, is it God?  Where are you directing your anger?

Can you see yourself letting go of that anger, giving it to God?

He is happy to take your anger from you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God's Great Blessings

Have you ever considered how much God blesses you in a single year?  In what ways does God bless you? What types of blessings does God promise?

One-Year God’s Great Blessings Devotional

Want half a blessing? Or God’s best? Award-winning author Patricia Raybon dares to pursue God’s greatest in her new One Year® devotional, God’s Great Blessings. Join her search for the enriching secrets of a bold Christian life, exploring 52 biblical values and virtues that God blesses not because we’re good but because He’s God. This path is uplifting, challenging, sometimes surprising but always transforming. Get on board with our Blessing God for the life-changing journey.

About the Author

Award-winning writer Patricia Raybon is author of two critically acclaimed books, “I Told the Mountain to Move” and “My First White Friend.” Her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, USA Weekend, Charles Stanley Ministries’ In Touch Magazine and have also aired on National Public Radio. She writes full-time on life-changing faith. Visit Patricia’s Website at http://www.patriciaraybon.com.

Bound for Glory (Coming November 1, 2011)

This powerful gift book is inspired by a stunning collection of calligraphic paintings by world-renowned calligrapher Timothy R. Botts and featuring reflections in verse by award-winning author Patricia Raybon. The book’s 52 paintings are visual interpretations—in words and pictures—of African American spiritual songs. These amazing songs are an important part of our American heritage, and they continue to give us hope in the face of life’s many challenges. The book also includes 52 reflective readings from Botts and African-American writer Patricia Raybon. It also includes lyrics from the spirituals along with inspirational Scripture verses from the New Living Translation.

Video Trailer for God’s Great Blessing Devotional


What constitutes a blessing?  Do we know God's blessings when we encounter them?

The One-Year God's Great Blessings Devotional from Patricia Raybon and Tyndale House will help you to discover the answers to these questions.  With 365 devotionals examining God's  blessings and the virtues He seeks in us, this beautifully appointed devotional will inspire you to think about and grab hold to the blessings of God in your life.

Bound in soft green leather, a color that signifies life and living, these devotionals will speak to and encourage you to see and embrace the blessings of God. Tradebook-sized, the book contains pages with an appropriate weight, not too heavy but heavier than the average book, perfect for notations as you read.

The title didn't grab me.  It's a mouthful, but then I guess the title of a devotional book has to convey what the book is about and how many devotionals it contains.  This title accomplishes both of those things.

I skimmed this book, and I loved what I saw.  When you consider all that you may encounter in the course of a full year--birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, job loss, sickness, the start or ending of relationships, promotions, financial woes or harvest, and other unexpected events, good and bad--having a devotional book that reminds you to consider and meditate upon God's blessings is a good thing.  I'm sure a lot of people could benefit from such a devotional during these recessionary times.

Author Patricia Raybon has a second release coming out, Bound for Glory, a full-color, coffee table book which pays homage to African-American spirituals.  The colorful pages of this book caught my eye so much so, that I found myself flipping through it even before examining the devotional.  Beside the lyrics of each spiritual, you will find a poem or writing that not only speaks to the spiritual but elevates it into contemporary context.

VISIT THE FULL BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE AT http://bit.ly/PatriciaRaybonVirtualBookTour.

Peace & Blessings,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Worship: It Is Well

The music at the Women of Faith conference was awesome.

Although I was familiar with both Nicole C. Mullen and Natalie Grant, I wouldn't have called myself a fan.

I do now.

Both women were just astounding in their energy, their vocal ability and their heartfelt worship.

So it's fitting to share them with you.  Today, Natalie Grant singing "It Is Well".

I was so astounded I didn't actually record her singing in Tampa.  From the moment she began, I was caught up in worship. 

This video is from a different city, but the best one I could find online.  The experience was very similar. 

Ignore that this clip was shot from a distance and starts into the song.  At least this woman had the presence of mind to record something.

Close your eyes and listen.  Tell me that you don't get chills. 

Off to find a Natalie Grant CD...

Peace & Blessings,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Matter To God

Lest you think the only speaker at the conference was Sheila Walsh, there was a whole cadre of other speakers, all of whom had wonderful, insightful things to say.

Lisa Harper, she of the southern drawl mixed with Western twang, started out by asking, "Have you ever seen something with the naked, natural eye only to find out later that it wasn't at all what you thought you saw?"  (If you ever meet Lisa, ask her about the naked man in Pulpit Rock Park, Colorado Springs, CO.)

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Lisa, but since I didn't, the IMAGINE sign works well.  Because the entire weekend was about imagining ourselves to be more than we know or believe in God.

Lisa's message was about the holes in our heart, holes that only God can fill.  Using illustrations from her own life, Lisa offered a number of quotable phrases, all of which I scribbled down for future reference. 

Consider these:

"God had saved me, but I thought he tolerated me.  I didn't know He delighted in me."

How's that for mind-blowing?  How many women were punched in the gut upon hearing this because they too thought the same thing?

More from Lisa:

"Little girls with Daddy issues grow up to be women with intimacy issues."

"The Bible is not a rule book, not a textbook.  It's a love story."

"God loves messy people."

Most of all, Lisa implored us to remember that God knows everything there is to know about us, every detail and He knows because we matter to God.

"God knows every detail about us because we matter to God."

Do you realize just how much you matter to God?  Can you make the leap from believing you're tolerated to believing you are a delight?

Peace & Blessings,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Resting On God's Promises

I'm going to continue to post from the Tampa Women of Faith conference throughout the week.

Sheila Walsh, who I could not get enough of, after her very first session, asked, "What is always true, not just for a season?"

We all know about seasons.  We go through seasons in our lives.  People come into our lives for a season.  We endure certain circumstances for a season.  We think "If I get just make it through this season..."  because there's always another season coming.

But what is true in and out of season, across all seasons?

Do you ever wonder whether the troubles in your life stem from some deficiency in you?

It's hard to express this without the entire context, but I think you'll understand.  Sometimes we think, deep down, that the root of the problems in our lives is us, that something dark and secret about us is the reason for the bad things that happen to us.

But God is sovereign.  For always and forever.

Sheila read a portion of Psalms 91 to highlight her message about the promises of God, about what He has promised to do for us when we find ourselves in a world of difficult circumstances and hurt, but I'm going to post the entire thing here.  It's that powerful.  In it, you will find more than one or two promises.  There's a whole bunch of them, so many that if we only focused on the promises in this one passage of Scripture--although you may want to find out about others the Lord has made, that you may have the totality of His grace--we'd be doing ourselves a world of service.

Note, however, that's there a promise in there that we must make as well.  (Hint:  It's on the 2nd line.)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;

I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Did you catch all the promises, all the things God said He will do for you?

Now you know what God will do for you. 

What will you do?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Connecting in Healthy Ways

Friday afternoon's message from speaker Sheila Walsh was no less powerful than her morning talk.  The theme for the afternoon--for the day, really--was about having healthy relationships, healthy connections.  Connecting with others is vital, but we have to learn to do so in healthy ways.

Sheila began by telling us, "Guilt says, 'I've done something wrong.'  Shame says, 'I am something wrong.'"

Peace, at least the peace of God that passses understanding, comes from a Greek word, eirene.  Peace is the total security and well being because God's presence is with us.

Circumstances can remain the same and God's peace still works, "because the peace comes not from the absence of trouble but from the presence of Christ."

Illuminating the Bible story, in which Jesus, after his peaceful sleep during a storm was interrupted by fearful disciples, Sheila went on to say, "Whether Christ speaks to the storm outside your life or inside your life, it doesn't matter.  They both have to obey."

Finally, Sheila talked about unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness is a prison that will bottle you up worse than any guilt or shame.  But sometimes, in the midst of really difficult circumstances, we may feel as though we have nothing left to give, not even forgiveness.

"Fair doesn't live here, but Jesus does...Forgiveness is God's gift to us as we live in a life that's unfair."

Do you struggle with unforgiveness?  Have you found God's peace?

Peace & Blessings,


Q & A with Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud

Mid-afternoon on Day 1 of the Women of Faith conference, there was a Q&A session with Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud.  Attendees were invited to drop anonymous questions into baskets from which the questions were chosen.

I couldn't see Sheila and Henry during this portion to take a picture since they were seated and I was stuck behind one of the monitors that circled the stage.

But here are some of the notable quotes that came from the Q&A session:

"To make any marriage work well, you have to be part of a community." -- Dr. C.

"You don't want anybody in your cage (your community) who doesn't want to be there." -- Dr. C.

"A burden is bigger than a person can carry." -- SW

I tweeted this yesteday but I'll requote it here:

"Somebody can hand their stuff to you, but you don't have to take it."  -- SW

"Marriage is one of the most perfect places to learn to be more like Christ." -- SW

"When you can draw boundaries and live with the uncomfortableness for a while, you will end up with something worth fighting for." -- SW

"'No' is a complete sentence." -- SW

"Identity is always about saying 'no'...You will never find yourself by starting at the top...Try a bunch of stuff...You will find your gift in your heart." -- Dr. C.

The two were full of wisdom and humor, and together gave great answers to some complex, intriguing questions.

I have so much more to share.  Stay tuned...

Peace & Blessings,


Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogger/Phone Problems

Blogger (or maybe my Galaxy phone) stopped being friendly via smartphone about modway thru Friday's session of Women of Faith. But I took copious notes so I'll post more summaries as soon as I can.

Necessary Endings #womenoffaith

Life is about beginnings and endings.  Not all endings are alike.

Endings are prunings. As with a rosebush, prunings are necessary to reach full vitality.

-- When the rosebush produces more roses than it can sustain and reach its potential

-- When the rosebush has branches that are sick and not going to get better

-- When the rosebush has dead flowers or branches that are taking up space

We hold on because we are hoarders. We believe deep down, like people who hang on to a bunch of junk because "I might need that."

What we really believe is "I don't believe anyone can or will provide for me." and "No one gives to me."

Sometimes it's because we're stuck in the past. But we can't be in two places, in abundant life and in unsatisfying conditions, at the same time.

You may need to prune patterns of behavior, patterns that keep you from having satisfying relationships or a sense of prosperity, that is, of total well-being.

God is calling us to take some risks in order to have the necessary endings that will lead to new beginnings.

Daughters of The King #womenoffaith

A group of women from New Port Richey came adorned in tiaras. These women know they are daughters of The King. What else would a princess wear?

The Law of Happiness #womenoffaith

What makes people happy?

Only 10% of happiness comes from circumstances.

We have a setpoint of who we are as a person. Life and growth are about changing that setpoint, that thermostat.

Secular research doesn't call their recommendations "God's ways", but everything the researchers recommend is in God's Word. A life pursuing God's ways brings happiness.

Happy people are givers to those in need.

Happy people are connected.

Dr. Henry Cloud teaches from his book, The Law of Happiness.

Find Peace In God's Amazing Grace #womenoffaith

When Sheila Walsh sings in that high soprano colored by her Scottiah brogue, tears spring into the eyes.

Sheila said, "We're walking on a broken road...God never intended for any woman to have her breast cut off, to bury a child, or to lose her home. We're on a detour."

Find peace on this road in the unfailing, amazing grace of God!

How Do You Start Your Day? #womenoffaith

Ps 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. 

How do you begin your days? What's the first word you hear and receive into your spirit? 

Speaker Sheila Walsh began hers remembering "a cockroach the size of a hamster" for which she wanted a Marine, not housekeeping. But this is her start of the day Scripture.

New Friends

This is my new friend, Gina from Sarasota. This is her 2nd year. She came equipped with blankets. Our seats are over the ice rink of the Tampa Bay Lightening. Hope my toes don't get cold! #womenoffaith

Women of Faith at St. Pete Times Forum

I'm blogging today from the Women of Faith conference at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

The doors are open and small groups of women are on their way in. Lots of smiles and laughter. A quiet but palable energy. Given the huge buses that were lining the streets surrounding the Forum, I expect a nice crowd.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Worship: You Hold My World

You hold my world in Your hands, 
You hold my world in Your hands, 
And I am amazed at Your love, 
I am amazed that You love me. 

You hold my world in Your hands, 
You hold my world in Your hands, 
And I'm not afraid, 
My world is safe in Your hands, 
In Your hands. 

I first heard this Israel Houghton song shortly before my brother passed away earlier this year. He was alone when he died, in pain and suffering.

I think about him a lot. I wish I'd been a better sister. We were so close and he knew I would do anything for him, knew that I loved him. I just wish I could have done more.

We used to talk about the things of God some times. He wasn't where I am, not quite as sure that his Heavenly Father cared about him or loved him the way I know that Jesus did. He believed in Christ as His Savior, but organized religion, church, wasn't his thing. To my knowledge, his relationship hadn't deepened but perhaps stagnated over the years.

In truth, I don't really know.

Oh, I wish I could have done more. But when I hear this song, as tears stream down my face, I always imagine Daniel hearing these words, almost as if the Holy Spirit was whispering them to him as confirmation, in his final minutes:

You won't let go of me,
You won't let go of me, 
You won't let go of me. 
Never let go. 

You will take care of me, 
You will take care of me, 
You will take care of me, 
You will take care, 
Always take care.

It's such a strong image, with him sitting in a particular chair in the living room, facing the picture window in the house where we grew up. It's almost as though God burned that image in my head to comfort me. It's the same image every time I hear this song.

I'm glad I know that God holds my world and that my world is safe in His hands. Do you know who holds your world?

Peace & Blessings,