Good evening, friends!  I know that it has been almost two weeks since I have blogged – so pull up a chair and visit for awhile.

Earlier this week, I made a decision to roll out of bed early on a Saturday morning to attend a Ladies’ Conference at Edinbrook Church in Brooklyn Park.  In consideration of the fact that those who know me know that recently, I’ve been struggling with some identity issues – it turned out to be a great decision.  It was a beautiful, if cold – morning, this morning – but was a great day to attend an event that made a strong psychological impact on me!

The keynote speaker was well-known radio personality, and Christian author Susie Larson.  Throughout the course of the day, Susie made three different speeches.  It was her early morning address that impacted me the strongest, though.  Her opening keynote address was on our “uncommon” value as women.  I didn’t take extensive notes on Susie’s speech, but a few minutes in she made a statement that the two biggest stumbling blocks to achieving the destinies that Christ has for us are inferiority, and insecurity!  That really resonated, with me.  Most of my adult life, I’ve thought of myself as a fairly confident, secure person.  As soon as she said it, the wisdom and the truth of Susie’s statement occurred to me.  As the Bible says, in the beginning God created man – and then created woman – so that man would have a “help” mate.  In Genesis, it says that He created us – and that His creations were good.  It seems that in modern times, however – we as women seem to develop inferiority complexes.  Susie went on to say that we each have a destiny in Christ – but that the only way that we’re ever going to achieve our personal destinies is if we believe, and profess – our value in Christ!  It is only once we truly understand that we are loved, that we can achieve success and greatness.  Christ does intend that each of us achieve success in our own stories!

Later in the day, I had an opportunity to attend a shorter speech – by little-known public speaker Stephanie Page.  Stephanie is a happily married, thirty-something mother of three young girls.  In combination with her husband, Chris – Stephanie teaches the 5th & 6th graders at Edinbrook Church.  Stephanie had (previously) prepared a speech entitled  “Comparing:  The Desire that Keeps us from Living Our Story.”  Stephanie’s speech was well thought-out and timely, for women in society today.  Stephanie spent a short half an hour dialoguing on the sin of comparison.  Stephanie opened her speech with some brief remarks about herself, and then made a comment about how earlier in her life, she had been guilty of comparing herself – and her life.  Then, she queried her audience about how many of them had ever assessed who they were, and what they have – and then compared their lives, their selves – to someone else.  I think that we’re all guilty of that, at some point in our lives as women!  It says in the Bible that we were each created uniquely – and that Christ has a destiny for each of us.  Stephanie stressed that we were EACH created uniquely, in His own image!  That he has a destiny FOR EACH of us!!  Christ doesn’t intend that we compare ourselves.  It says in the Bible that jealousy is a sin.  Later in her speech, Stephanie talked about how one of the other sins that we commit is the sin of not prioritizing Christ in our lives.  She spoke about how one of the other things that she had been guilty of – in the past – was not prioritizing Christ!  How easy it is to just “visit with” Christ – for a few minutes, here and there – whenever our schedules permit for it.  She spoke about how she used to believe that within any particular day, there were always certain things THAT HAD TO be done!  Whether dinner cooked – for a family that depended on her, or speeches written – to be presented at a later date, or calls that had to get made a certain evening.  Then she spoke of how Christ got her attention, a few years ago – and how since then she’s realized that the only thing that she really HAS TO do is to sit at the table with Christ.  Not pass Him, coming and going – but sit down with him and spend time!

It was a wonderful, encouraging conference – and although I woke tired this morning, and sorely tempted to roll over – God spoke to my heart, and told me that I needed to be there!  That he had some messages that I needed to hear.  And in the end, I was very glad that I had gone!!

A Marriage Made In Heaven

Good evening, friends!  Pondering the dynamics of marriage, a bit – this evening.  For those of you who have been married for ten years, or more – how have you compromised regarding values that are not mutual, to you?  Recently, I’ve been feeling that there are tenants of our relationship that I really value – that my husband doesn’t, so much.  Conversely, I’m sure that there are tenants of our relationship that my husband really values – that I don’t, so much.  As long as these conflicts in values aren’t too numerous, they don’t impact our relationships too heavily – right?  What happens – however – when one of you starts feeling like there are numerous “values” that aren’t shared?   This brings me to my next query, for all of you.  I know that most couples who remain married for years, have groups that they participate in – with other women, or men – separate from their spouses.  I believe that to some extent, this is healthy for all of our self-images as individuals.  If we truly value our marriages, I believe that we must be careful how many – individual – activities/groups we commit to, on a regular basis.  I think that those of us who are happily married also have at least a couple of activities that we share – or groups that we participate in – with our spouses.  Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself wondering . . . . for those of you who have spouses who travel (or who have jobs that require you to travel, yourselves) – or who are so busy with different activities, for your children – how frequently, or how occasionally – are you able to spend time together?  And when you do, do you find that over the life of your marriage – you always value the same things, in your relationship?  Or have your values changed (or “morphed”, at all) in different “seasons” of life?   It’s been my experience that – for the last few years, as I age – it has become more important to me to “fit into” some groups.  To have a group of people around me who affirm me for who I am.  Recently, I’ve felt that that’s lacking – and I find myself expecting my husband to be able to fill that void, when I know that I really need to be looking to God! For ultimately, it is God who is the creator – and the author – of our days, and God who invites us to rest in Him when we’re weary, and heavy laden.  Still . . . sometimes I struggle with humbling myself before Him as I’m called to do.    What about you, friends?  For those of you who have been married for several years – do you and your spouse share the same, personal “values” – or do you have different “values” which you’re both able to respect?  And over the lives of your marriages, have those values always been the same?  Or have they changed (or “morphed”, at all) – in different “seasons” of life?  Blessings to you, friends – and as always, I anticipate your thoughts.

On Aging, and the Importance of Friendships

Good evening, friends!  Tonight’s blog is not going to be as deep as the first two that I put together this last weekend were, or necessarily taken from the Bible – but the topic is one that is near to my heart, at my age.  If you’ll bear with me – I want to discourse for a little while on aging, and the importance of friendships. For those of you…

who didn’t know my husband and I before we moved to Minnesota – you don’t realize how different our lives were, in WA.  Now that we’ve called Minnesota home for a little over seventeen years, we’ve discerned that there are many – huge – culture differences, between the two states!  And for the most part, we don’t “fit in” here!  Oh – don’t get me wrong – we don’t mind trying new things, and having new experiences . . . but in the years that we’ve been here, now – we’ve discovered that there are some gaping, societal differences also.  In addition to the fact that neither of us water ski or ice fish, we didn’t grow up here.  So neither of us have come up through school with any of you, nor do we have a cabin up north.  Seventeen years ago, when we were both younger – and my husband was just making his initial career decisions, it became evident that if we stayed in the Seattle area – he would reach the financial “ceiling” of his profession relatively quickly.  So he made what has turned out to be a very quality decision to look – nationally – for work.  After doing phone interviews with companies in several different areas, he was extended an offer by a software consulting firm out of Minneapolis, MN.  At the time, my husband was stunned – as in conversation with me following a second (phone) interview, he was of the opinion that he had “come across” very poorly, and completely blown the interview!  When they called him back and extended him an offer – we were both floored!  After discussing it for less than a day, we were both of the opinion that the only God-honoring decision that we could make was to accept the offer – and leave all of our family, and mutual friends – to pursue God’s will for our lives.  After all, I already had extended family here – and when it comes right down to it, we’re only a short plane flight away – right?  When you’re young and childless, these are the kinds of decisions that you’ll make. Now that we’re both older, and are raising children of our own . . . some of these things have begun to resonate more, within us.  For the last thirteen years, we’ve been blessed to have my husband’s Mother, and younger Sister living close to us.  There’s a story that I could go into detail about there, also – but suffice it to say that when my husband and I found out – a little over thirteen years ago, now – that we were expecting twins (not just a single baby) – my Mother-In-Law made a decision to leave her (very good, secure) job at Boeing in Seattle – and move out (with her youngest Daughter – my Sister-In-Law) to Minneapolis to assist us.  We knew that my (single) pregnancy being our first – that having one child to care for was going to be enough of a challenge, but having multiples right out of the gate??  In mid-May of this year, however – my Mother-In-Law received a stroke of good luck, and had a home (on a rather moderate lot) in the Long Beach area of WA State reduce in price deeply enough, that she was able to purchase it!  She and my Sister-In-Law are now living in WA again.  Seventeen years later (and both of us a bit wiser) – we’re still living here, and raising our own children with no immediate family in the area.  Out of necessity, we have found activities here that we enjoy doing together.  And the church that we belong to is a dynamic, growing church with strong, capable leaders in charge of different areas of ministry!  Time, and some tough experiences in recent years, have shaped our thinking and feelings heavily.  We still don’t “fit in” to the culture here – and having aged, as long as we’re able to do well enough professionally to be comfortable – we’re starting to have some regrets about not living close to our entire families, and many of the – mutual – friends, that we had before (and for the short time after, until we moved away) we got married.  To that point, the advent of Facebook has been a wonderful, and important tool for us. The point that I’m driving to with this blog, my friends – is this.  For those of you who are still young enough, and in a position in your lives to benefit from my/our experience – when life offers you opportunities to make radical changes, ensure that whatever decision you make is God’s will for you.  Because sometimes those decisions result in more sacrifice as we age, then we initially thought that they would involve!  Don’t get me wrong, friends – this sounds like a very pessimistic end to this blog.  Yet I’m not desperately unhappy here in MN  – I love The Lord my God with all my heart, and in many ways – our moving cross-country years ago has been one of the best experiences that we’ve ever undertaken.  But in hindsight, I would admonish you to pray – friends – before making any life-changing decision!  Praying God’s will for your life is not something that should be considered lightly!! Blessings to you, Friends – and as always, I anticipate your input!!   : )

On Obsessions and Contentment

Good evening, friends!  Here are my reflections for today – for any of you who are interested.      In recent weeks, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about things – stuff.  Mostly in relation to money – and my current lack of it.  There are so many things that I want – and mostly, only because I know that getting them will make me happy momentarily.  But then, I…

stop and think about what Jesus says in the Bible about contentment.  Why is it that – at times – it feels so important to have things?   In society today, we get bombarded from all sides by the media with television commercials, Internet “pop-ups”, and signs in shop windows stroking our egos and convincing us that we would be happier if we just had . . .  I’ve decided that in some cases, there is some truth to be had in this.  With careful financial management, I’ve had the ability to purchase some nicer quality (read – more expensive) clothes to wear to work.  Doing so has made a difference – as I find that the more “professional” I look, when I’m working – the better that I feel about myself!  That being said, however – in regard to other things, I try to be much more discriminating about the financial choices that I make and the benefit of whatever I purchase.    Financially, my husband and I have always done pretty well.  As a result, for years I haven’t had to be too careful about my spending.  More recently, however – times have gotten tougher and I’ve had to start being more discerning.  As I reflect on my financial state and my discontent, it occurs to me that my poor attitude is influencing my ability to truly worship God!  God has gifted me with so much – and blessings, besides – in the form of strong, and Godly friendships – that I should be profoundly grateful, rather than feeling dissatisfied and stressed.  Additionally, my husband and I know so many people who are out of work right now – and cannot find jobs for anything.  We know others, also who have always been very careful with their money – but due to a stroke of bad luck – or a series of (coincidental) events beyond their control – are having their homes foreclosed on.  As I bear their hardships in mind, and pray for their families the thought occurs to me that . . . . how much better off, and happier would I be in the future if rather than spending money on material goods, anytime that I am able to start accumulating a little bit of extra – if I started putting it into savings in the bank, so that I could “gift” it to those in my acquaintance who aren’t as blessed as I am, and could really use it!  It wasn’t until my husband and I went through a small-group Bible Study with our pastor, that I really got the true concept of generosity!  Oh, I had known for years what the word meant – but when studied “in-depth” and presented the way that he presented it, the concept suddenly took on a much larger meaning!   In modern society, until about ten years ago when the market suddenly took a plunge – it seemed that there were so many professions that paid very, very well and so many people that made significant amounts of money that I think it started becoming easy for us to become truly selfish, and not to worship God for the gifts that he has given us!  It seems that in society today, that’s just not the case anymore.  As we look around us at current economic trends, it is easy to observe that many families are cutting way back (or out, completely) on luxuries – and only spending money on necessities.   When we look at what the Bible says about caring for our Brothers, how much more so – then – if those of us who have more give out of our abundant riches ?  And how might doing so impact our self-images?    As these things have begun to weigh more on my heart recently, I’m finding that it is becoming much easier to be content with what I have – and to, as they say – give thanks, with a truly grateful heart!  Blessings to you and your families, friends – and I pray that God continues to bless all of you abundantly!!