Tag Archives: truth

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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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

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I Am Reminded

12 Feb

I have been a Whitney Houston fan for many years. I remember in Jr. High, participating in my school’s lyp sync contest & Whitney’s “How Will I Know” was my groups song choice, it beat the boy’s group hands down, their choice, Duran Duran, “Hungry Like a Wolf” 🙂 So much talent, that the nick name given to her was aptly, “The Voice”.  I will never forget her performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl and on and on I could go about the Whitney songs I love and the amazing vocal gift that was the background for many of my life’s memories.

I obviously have no personal knowledge of Whitney, her life or the circumstances of her death.  Being an outsider looking in through the lense of the media and a fan of her voice and music is the only lense I have seen through, but from that vantage point, since hearing of her passing yesterday…

•  I am reminded once again of the truth that the choices we make can have a profound effect on our lives, the lives of those who love us and even simply know of us.

•  I am reminded that the company we choose to associate with will impact the people we become, so remember to choose wisely.

•  I am reminded that we have a responsibility to use and take care of the gifts God blesses us with.

•  I am reminded that we all have battles and hurdles to wrestle with and fight to overcome.

•  I am reminded that one wrong choice may have lasting consequences; and I think most importantly,

•  I am reminded that we, no matter, our age, race, social or economic status are all in need of God’s love and grace.

Thank You Whitney for the reminders and the beautiful musical memories.  I pray that your soul has found peace and that the God of Peace will comfort those that will always love you.

It’s Not Only What You Say That Matters

30 Jan

A few years ago now, there was a certain politician (who shall remain nameless) running for office, I agreed with this politician on almost all issues, however, I could hardly hear what he was saying because of the attitude that was shouting at me! The arrogance in which he delivered his message was so overwhelming that I couldn’t hear the message he was delivering.

My job affords me the “opportunity” to have difficult conversations with people on an almost daily basis, so I am always looking to grow in my ability to have those conversations in a way that people can hear me and ultimately move towards the desired goal.  It is a challenging task!

It’s important to realize whether in business or in your personal relationships that speaking the truth and communicating your message is only part of the equation.  It’s a whole other skill to say it in a way that your audience can really hear you.  It’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it.

Banging someone over the head, demanding your way, or belittling someone into submission may have a temporary effect, but those kind of communication strategies, can only at best, result in temporary compliance that leaves long term damage.

If you have something important to say, if you want to encourage change, if you want to communicate a message that people can get on board with, remember it’s not only what you say, but equally as important, how you say it.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I’m Not Good Enough

13 Nov

I’m not good enough, probably not a popular statement, in a day and age, where it is widely touted that “the power is within you”, “all you have to do is believe”.  It’s also probably not how I would recommend starting off a self-esteem conversation with a friend that needs an encouraging word.  But, what I’m talking about isn’t a put down or a berating of yourself, it’s a reality check.

Confession time again…I have spent much of my life attempting to be good enough.  I have worked long and hard and given it my best.  I have attempted to prove my worthiness to those that love me and sometimes even to those that don’t appear to care for me all too much.  Oh, the energy I have expended trying to create an impressive record for myself.

I don’t know if you’ve realized this in your own life, but I have on several occasions run myself into the ground in my efforts to be good enough.  It’s tiring, it’s a full-time job.  Trying to be good enough makes it impossible to be present and real in your relationships.  Trying to be good enough takes your eyes off of what matters and if I’m painfully honest with myself is because I’m making things about me, again!

I have experienced the heartache that comes when you try your darndest and you don’t measure up, you get passed over, rejected, kicked off, kicked out, ignored and you get up, dust yourself off and say, “I’ll just try harder”.  Don’t get me wrong, excellence is essential, hard work, dedication and using the gifts and blessings you’ve been given is important, but all of the most amazing tricks in the world, doesn’t make a person good enough.

“I’m not good enough”, it’s a statement of fact not of condemnation.  It’s a reality check not a put down.  You see, I am good enough, simply because God says I am, because before I ever existed He saw me, loved me, chose me and made a way for me.  He makes me good enough!

And I’m telling you people the fact that I’m not good enough on my own is a very freeing thing to admit, kinda takes the pressure off!  This truth allows me to take a deep breath, relax and live this life God has gifted me with.  G-R-A-C-E, such a beautiful word and I think it can only be experienced when you realize your just not good enough.  I want to learn to walk restfully in this grace and I think it starts with admitting I can’t pull this thing off even when I try with all my might, realize He is more than enough and that is good enough with me!!