Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

YOU Are Valued

10 Dec

I was driving out-of-town this past week a couple of hours from home and pulled up to a stop light when I saw a sign posted that read, “You Are Valued”.  How awesome is that?!  Cause sometimes we need a reminder, don’t we?  I know I’ve been needing a little reminding lately and I was immediately thankful for whoever pounded that sign in the ground to remind me in the midst of a cold, foggy, quiet commute.

I want to remind you today.  In case you are doubting it or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve heard it and even longer since you’ve felt it.  YOU are valued!

You are valued NOT because of what you did or didn’t do, NOT because of your status or your label, NOT because of how many likes you got on that Facebook post or followers you have on Instagram.  NOT because of how accomplished and driven you are.  NOT even because of all the good you do.

You my friend are valued because you are YOU!  You with all your imperfections, You with your mess-ups.  You with your weakness.  You when you got it wrong.  You when you could’ve done better.  Your value isn’t in your doing or saying, it’s in your just being.

YOU are simply valued because you are unique, there is no one else just like you.  YOU are of great worth because the One that made you finds you priceless.  YOU are dear and there has never been a day when you were not fully known and completely loved.

Next time you start to doubt the truth hopefully you’ll run across a beautiful sign like I did OR else you can ask me and I’ll remind you of this never-changing truth. YOU are seen.  YOU are loved.  You are valued.

Be Encouraged!

Image 12-10-17 at 2.03 PM

 

All I Ever Have To Be

21 Oct

On what should have been an hour and a half drive on a weekday afternoon, there was an accident on I-5 that made drive time turn into a 5 hour forced bonding time between myself and a work peer.  To pass the time while sitting there, we talked and after a couple of hours, started trying to entertain one another by playing various games we recalled from childhood family road trips.  My co-worker decided to play a game of “What’s your favorite?”, which led to her knowing much more about me than I would normally divulge to a colleague.  What’s your favorite color?  What’s your favorite movie?  What’s your favorite food?  What’s your favorite song?  I can’t answer that one!  I mean, there are so many, and it depends on what type of music, what mood I’m in, what memory its associated with, how do you pick one child over the other?!  The question actually stressed me out!

So, I say this with great hesitation, but if I had to pick a favorite song (which I’m still not going to commit to), the song “All I Ever Have To Be”, sung by Amy Grant and written by Gary Chapman would have to be on my short list.  This song was released in 1980, when I was still a young girl, however, I can clearly remember listening to the lyrics closely and the beautiful simple melody.  Even at the age of 8, this song resonated with me deeply.  Hard to explain it and I certainly did not realize the degree to which I would need to continue to be reminded of the words of this simple beauty throughout my life.

“All I Ever Have To Be”

When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head
And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said
But I’m still hurting, wondering if I’ll ever be the one
I think I am – I think I amThen you gently re-remind me
That You’ve made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are
Who You are…And all I ever have to be is what You’ve made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find
And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You’ve made me

 

So dear one, if like me, you struggle with meeting the expectations of others or even more difficult, your own,  If you are tired of striving, If you feel more loved for what you do than who you are, then let me remind you as I remind myself.

  1. God made you, uniquely you on purpose, don’t try to be someone else.
  2. Give yourself some grace, we’re all unfinished.
  3. Never doubt for a minute, that even with your imperfections you are mind-blowingly loved.
  4. We don’t have to pull it off alone.  All the good is because of Him and He wants to handle our tough stuff too.
  5. Stop striving.  A good dose of rest in His love and grace, allows us to be who we were made to be.

Ahhhh, I feel better, how about you?

Be encouraged my friend!

 

 

 

 

Fiery & Faithful

7 Oct

As I sit down to write this post, I am struck with the fact that you won’t be reading or commenting on this one.  I could always count on you to take a couple of minutes to read whatever I was sharing, you only gave a compliment when you meant it, so when I got one, it meant a lot because I knew it was completely sincere.  This is just one of the many things I loved and appreciated about you and there is so much more.

You had strong opinions, not a whole lot of gray area with you.  Spunk and internal fortitude were very natural for you and you had a deep sense of right and wrong.

You would stand up for and defend to the death those you believed in and held dear.  You would speak up, pray on their behalf and even tell us if we needed to shape up.

You were fiercely loyal.  People could count on you.  Your word was always rock solid.

Ever since you were alerted to the fact that I didn’t so much care for amphibians, I think you may have dedicated a percentage of your spare time to tracking down frog memes just for my benefit.  I count it a privilege that you loved me enough to mess with me.

You were always there.  To bring a meal, lend a hand, listen, sit with us, pray for us, cry with us.  You were a loyal friend.

You were family, so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of July’s, Christmases and just because’s spent together.  We love Grandma Edna!

You were the best friend my mom could ever ask for.  You couldn’t be more different from one another and you were so good for each other.  Last year, when my mom was so sick, I called you and you came right away.  Even though my mom was incapacitated, you didn’t hesitate to walk right up to her bedside, hold her hand and start visiting with her and telling her what she needed to do to get better.  There could be no truer friend than you.  Thank you for loving my mom so well.

You meant so much to me,  my family and so many others, but yesterday, when I attempted to describe you to someone who didn’t know you in this life, I told her you were fiery and faithful.  I believe that those who know you well would agree and I desire to see in my own life so many of those fiery, faithful attributes I witnessed in watching your life up close over the last 15ish years.

Edna, I am sure you are blissfully busy meeting your savior face to face, catching up with loved ones and taking in all the wonders of heaven, but if you happen to read this, I want you to know that there are a lot of people left behind who will miss you in ways that words can’t express and I personally want you to know that I have a heart full of love, admiration and thankfulness for the most fiery, faithful lady I’ve ever known.  Looking forward to being home with you one day!

Image 10-7-17 at 7.52 PM

 

 

 

Top 10 Golden Nuggets From My Pastor

24 Sep

Today marks my pastor and friend’s last day as lead pastor at our church after 18 years of faithful leadership.  I have been blessed in my life to have some wonderful, godly pastors, who have taught me so much by both word and example, who have encouraged and challenged me, who have invited me into their homes and hearts, but today I want to share with all of you the Top 10 (cause there’s a whole lot more) golden nuggets I think of when I reflect on the gift of Pastor Leif Holmes to the Church and to me personally.

1. The fruit of the spirit evident in my life is more important than the gifts demonstrated through me.  Am I loving, joyful, peaceful, patient (uh oh), kind, good, faithful, gentle & self-controlled?  God always cares about my character more than my performance.

2. He thought outside of his own demographic (the one I’m speaking of being, married and male) to ask me about what it was like being single and female in the church.  Then he listened and cared about what I said.  That genuine interest in my feelings and perspective on this issue was both new and immeasurable to me.

3. It’s ok to not be ok.  Like, how freeing is that?  Freedom to be real and not have to have it all together.  He reinforced what I know to be true but don’t always see in the church or myself.  Being right with God is much more important than looking right.

4. If you really care about someone, you hold them accountable when they’re off course.  Difficult conversations are not enjoyable but they are necessary.  A true leader is willing to have them because they care about their sheep more than their popularity.  I have seen him consistently and yes, with myself a time or two, willing to have a tough talk because he cares more about my well-being than whether or not he’s my favorite in the moment.

5. We are never done learning.  Pastor Leif has had me read more books over the years than any other supervisor, teacher or professor in my entire life.  He is a learner and wants others to learn and be equipped as well.  If you want to keep growing, you keep learning.

6. You have to know the word to use the word.  Picking up your sword to fight when under attack is much easier when the blade is sharp and you know what you’re fighting with.  You have to input it before you can have any output.

7. The true test of whether or not you love God is your obedience to Him.  He doesn’t ask you to figure it out, He asks you to be obedient.

8. God’s definition of what is good for me is usually not mine.  Ain’t that the truth!

9. God’s agenda is not for you to be happy and comfortable.  It’s for you to be godly.  Didn’t so much care for this one when it was said, but it’s the truth!

10. And when you told me, “Denise, God chooses to use you because of your weaknesses not in spite of them.”  Well, that has been a game changer my friend.

Pastor Leif, you are not to heaven yet, and I hope that day is a good many years off for both of us, but I do believe that God’s heart is in agreement with mine in saying “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Thanks for all the golden nuggets and for being an authentic, imperfect, slightly goofy, often entertaining, dedicated, encouraging, supportive, humble and faithful leader.  Here’s to the next adventure God has in store for each of us!!

The Joy of Obedience

30 Aug

I like the word joy.  It brings a smile to my face just saying it…go ahead and try …”JOY”…aahhh, sweetness.  Wouldn’t you know it though, obedience doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so smoothly.  I don’t feel like partying when I hear that one!  Who wants more joy in their life?  We all raise our hands.  Who’s interested in becoming more obedient?  Cue the crickets.

When I say obedience, it conjures up the same feelings I tend to get when I hear words like, selflessness, humility, sacrifice or surrender.  No smile appears on my face, rather I often feel a sense of dread, like I need to brace myself, or even fear, wondering what’s this going to cost me?  My self centeredness is showing again.  Anyone out there know what I’m saying?

As a child I had a healthy fear of Dad and I can remember, especially during the summer, he would leave us kids with a fairly lengthy list of chores that needed to be done by the time he got home from work.  Even then, knowing there would be consequences if it wasn’t done, I would delay that obedience until the last hour, when my brother, sister and I would scramble around in a frenzy to do what we had been told and hopefully get it done enough that we avoided punishment.  We got it done, maybe our feet were dragging & it wasn’t our best work but it was just enough to avoid the wrath of dad.  I guess that’s called half-hearted obedience.

Looking back, I can clearly see that although I may have been checking the list by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin, my attitude was missing the mark by a mile.  My heart was in the wrong place, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and only begrudgingly obeyed to avoid discipline.  This may have worked for Dad some days but half-hearted obedience doesn’t work with our Heavenly Father because He cares more about the heart motive than getting the check list complete.

In chronological years, I’ve been an adult for quite a while now and would like to say I have this obedience thing down but truth be told, adult me, still struggles with self centeredness that keeps me from being obedient with the right motivation.

Last weekend, I had a wonderful time at a women’s retreat in beautiful Lake Tahoe, my new sister friend Becky who was attending decided she wanted to follow the Lord in obedience and get baptized.  So awesome!!

For her, this was a brave step and a bit scary, ok, a lot scary!  She didn’t want to be the center of attention, didn’t want people gawking at her, she felt insecure and to be straight up honest, was feeling so anxious that she almost didn’t see her obedience through.

Some prayer and an encouraging friend helped and we waded in to the water. Becky went under the water and I tell you what, she came up out of the water with a mega watt smile brighter than the sun itself.  The joy in her was so evident I thought a heavenly dove was going to descend.  Just looking at her made my heart swell with joy!

There was a whole crowd of ladies on the shore cheering her on and celebrating her public proclamation of faith and we all broke into song and had a great time together praising God.  It was truly a beautiful God moment.  A moment that would not have happened, had Becky let her fear and insecurity speak louder than her desire to please her Heavenly Father by simply obeying.

This is what I am learning but have certainly not mastered.  Obey scared, obey anxious, obey with questions, obey without any assurance of the outcome, but obey.  Obey, because you love Him so.  There may be some pain and discomfort in the obeying, but Becky and I agree there is unspeakable joy on the other side!!

“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

IMG_9563

 

 

 

 

 

He Gets It

9 Apr

Do you ever feel like no one understands what you are going through?  I do!  Like your friends or even your family just don’t get it?  Me, again!

The other morning heading to work I was feeling a little weary, a little hurt, a little angry a little a lot of things, I guess.  I was thinking about someone who I am frustrated with.  I guess I felt let down by this individual and I felt justified in my feelings.  The fact that this individual had not met what I feel are reasonable expectations left me feeling, hurt and a bit rejected during an already difficult period.  I was struggling in that moment to let it go, to forgive, especially absent an apology or acknowledgment of any wrong doing, which I wasn’t holding my breath for.

When I am feeling this way, whatever the circumstances may be, it is my desire to be understood, for my feelings to be heard, for someone to get it!  You know, acknowledge the issue and the fact that my feelings are understandable?!  However, as with many things in life, I often don’t get my way.  Sometimes, the situation isn’t appropriate to share with another so that I can feel validated.  Sometimes, the other person because of their own issues isn’t willing or capable to have the conversation that needs to be had. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want.

In that moment, driving down I-5, feeling un-understood, my mind focused on someone who does understand me and I was reminded of this truth, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”  – Hebrews 4:15.

When you don’t get the apology you deserve.  When you need help and no one is around. When you feel alone.  When there is conflict.  When people have more important priorities.  When no one wants to listen.  When people say false things about you.  When people hurt you.  When a friend turns their back on you.  When you struggle.  When life is hard.  When you are in pain.  When you are overwhelmed.  When you have been let down.  When you don’t seem to fit in.  When you are tempted.  When you are tired. When no one else gets it.  God gets it!  He knows how it feels, He felt it.

He gets it and you know what His response was and is?  To love anyway. To humble himself anyway.  To forgive anyway.  To lay down His life anyway.

His example challenges me.  I am so far most days from responding the way He does.  It is my desire to grow in the grace He lavishes on me.  I want grace, but how freely am I giving it away to others?

His example convicts me.  How can I withhold from others, what I so desperately need from Him?

His example comforts me.  It is certainly a wonderful feeling to be understood by our friends and family and I am thankful when that is a reality.  But when it’s not, I serve a God who understands me.  He understands my ways, my feelings and He loves me as I am.

So thankful for a God, who gets it!  He gets you too!

 

 

The Love Of God

19 Feb

I’ve been spending a few days away at the ocean and as I sit here looking out at this breathtaking creation, I am reminded of a beautiful old hymn that remains in my mind from somewhere in the recesses of my childhood memory.  You know there is usually a story behind every good lyric and I love the story behind this timeless hymn.

It was 1917 and the author of this song was down on his luck having lost everything in a business venture gone wrong.  His current means of making income was working as a manual laborer in a California packing plant loading lemons and oranges in to crates day in and day out.  While packing the citrus fruit the words of this ageless love song began to drop into his heart and mind and when he got home he hurried to get them down on paper.  He sat at his piano and arranged the words with a melody that fit them just so.  However, he had only two verses and for a great hymn, you need at least three.  Who knew?! 

He struggled to complete the song, but nothing came to him…UNTIL…he remembered an old poem that someone had given him, which he hunted around for and found on a card that he had been using as a bookmark.  He was thrilled as he read and knew he had the completion of this God song in his hand. 

At the bottom of the card was a note that explained where the words were found.  They had been found written on a prisoner’s wall in a mental ward over 200 years before.  It is not known why the prisoner was incarcerated or if the words were original or he had heard them somewhere and decided to put them in a place where he could easily be reminded of the greatness of God’s love.  Whatever the circumstances, he wrote them on the wall of his prison cell, where they were found by the men who had the job of cleaning and repainting his cell after he had died.  These precious words were captured by those men before their paint brushes erased them.

Frederick M. Lehman went to his piano and put the words he had just found to the melody he had already written and they were a perfect fit!  That verse found on the wall of an insane asylum is now the third verse in the timeless hymn titled, “The Love of God” and it reads like this:

Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Tho stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints and angel’s song.

Looking at the ocean today reminds me of this beautiful song and the story behind it encourages me with these truths.

  • God shows up in our less than ideal situations, He speaks to us in the ordinary, in the mundane, in the less than ideal things we go through in life. 
  • God always has a plan, he writes our stories and connects them with others, in ways we can’t imagine and often times don’t even realize. 
  • God’s love is so powerful that it can reach a soul that is imprisoned, near death and battling for their sanity.  God’s love can break through the deepest, darkest pit! 

I am thankful for the awe-inspiring ocean that reminds me of the greatness and vastness of God’s amazing, mind-blowing love for you and I!

img_6678