All posts in Living with Intention

  • The Journey of Transformation

    A coach colleague, named Matt Gagnon, recently shared a huge personal breakthrough in our coaching facebook group. With Matt’s permission, I am sharing his post below and here’s why…

    Matt’s story beautifully illustrates two important truths:

    1. There is immense freedom and empowerment in embracing what is. In accepting what is true for me, rather than pretending or hiding in an attempt to “keep the peace” or make others happy.
    2. We are each on a God-given journey of transformation. And while the end-result may be something we look forward to, the process of being transformed, is often messy and uncomfortable, even painful! After all, we are refined in fire, right?

    As you read Matt’s story, consider your own journey:

    1. What challenge or obstacle is currently present in your life that feels daunting or overwhelming?
    2. What may God be calling you to surrender to Him?
    3. Where have you been avoiding asking others for the help you need?
    4. What emotions are you aware of experiencing that you have not yet acknowledged or accepted?

    Here’s Matt:

    “I want to share a recent breakthrough for me. I have had people in my life who were ridiculously quick to reframe, scold, correct, question, fix, etc…any word I used that wasn’t positive. The result was I began to view certain emotions as negative and would ensure that I used only positive emotions and words when discussing any challenge I was facing in life.

    How did that serve me? IT DIDN’T! It encouraged me to disown my feelings, censor myself, and even worse…It changed the intention behind my words…I was speaking to please others and make them feel comfortable instead of owning my emotions and speaking truthfully.

    Today, I can tell you this…however, I feel is OK! There is nothing wrong with my emotions…how I act on them makes a big difference but there is great power in knowing and articulating how I feel.
    If I give myself permission to acknowledge, articulate, and accept how I feel, this is what it looks like:
    + I Can Feel Weak but it Doesn’t Mean I am Not Strong
    + I Can Feel Scared, but I am Still Confident in my Journey
    + I Can Feel Depressed, but it Doesn’t Mean I am Without Hope and Faith
    + I Can Feel Angry, but I Still Long for Grace, Humility, and Forgiveness

    If I deny myself the opportunity to acknowledge, articulate, and accept how I feel, this is what you won’t see but I will be feeling:
    + I Look Happy, but I am Crying for Help on the Inside
    + I am Laughing on the Outside, but I am Lost and Scared Inside
    + I Speak with Confidence, yet I Feel Hopeless and Broken

    The truth is I am sick…I have an annoying rare disease that comes with a bunch of annoying side-effects. I am constantly having to re-learn what my energy levels are and sometimes that means I find out only after I have committed to something and then unable to deliver to expectations. I am learning how to battle with depression, anxiety, narcolepsy, and seizure like spasms…Because of that, the successful business I was building is slowing down because I can’t keep up with the pace I was driving it at…this is my calling and I am having to slow down, say no, and focus on self-care so I can say Yes again. All of that sucks; however, I am learning so much about myself and the REAL TRUTH IS – I AM BUILT TO HANDLE THIS SO I CAN SERVE OTHERS.

    This journey is teaching me to appreciate my feelings, learn how to ask for help, surrender control, lean into my faith, and embody my life purpose as the Courageous Heart. If I was healed 2 months ago, I would have been robbed of several powerful life lessons. I don’t want to be healed…I want to be whole! This process is preparing me for something bigger and I don’t know what it is and that is ok…I am just being present with it – leaning into the lessons to be learned vs. bulldozing forward to solve my problems. This is what being in transformation looks like…it’s messy, dark, painful, beautiful, amazing, inspiring, annoying…all of that and more; however, it’s a gift to have the self-awareness that I am in the middle of it, because I can embrace the brilliance and beauty of the journey.”

    Wow. Beautiful, huh?

    Like Matt, perhaps your journey has taken you down a path that is dark, frustrating, and foggy or unclear. Perhaps you are tempted to believe you are in this alone. The truth is that Jesus is right there beside you, waiting to come a little closer, ready to hold your hand a little tighter. Reach for Him.

    And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Jesus (Matthew 28:20)

    Closing Prayer:
    Heavenly Father, I thank you for this incredible journey that I now find myself on. Help me to trust that every aspect of this journey is purposeful – the joyful parts and the sad parts; the sacrifices and the abundant blessings; the amazing highs and the darkest lows – You hold all in the palm of Your hand. Please give me the grace to surrender my will in favor of Your will, so I may be transformed and made new, according to Your great plan and purpose. For this I pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday

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  • Intentional Family Building

    Another snow day. My space has been invaded by my husband working from home (again), and my tween and my teen who are off school (again).

    On this particular snow day, the kids were going with a friend to our local “mountain,” which is little more than a very big hill, to snowboard for a few hours. My husband and I “communicated” the details of the plan.

    You’ll notice the quotation marks around the word communicated. What actually occurred cannot really be categorized as communication. For my part, I was talking quietly because I had a sleeping baby in my arms. For his part, Marc was listening to me while simultaneously reading something on his laptop. Yet, we forged on.

    Is it any wonder that when it came time to take the kids to the mountain, Marc and I had two different ideas of how the plan was to unfold? I won’t bore you with all the details of our misunderstanding, though I will ask you to imagine the scene:

    • Patience was low to begin with, as our normal routines were compromised and our to-dos were not getting to-done.
    • I had just taken refuge in my bedroom with a sleeping baby, a cup of coffee and my laptop. Ahhh, finally. Marc is going to take the kids snowboarding and I’ll have some peace and quiet.
    • Marc enters my haven and says in a surprised tone of voice, “What are you doing? You’re supposed to be taking the kids to the mountain now!”

    So began the “whisper fight.” You know, the kind where you yell at one another as loud as you can in whispers so not to wake the baby.

    Do you ever have days that like this in your home?

    Thankfully, the days of peace and kindness outweigh the days we whisper-yell at each other. We prioritize keeping peace in our home and in our hearts towards one another. As perhaps is true for your family, we are intentional about making quality time together a regular occurrence: playing games together, attending church services together, and eating meals together as often as we can. We also spend time in prayer together every day, even if it is just for 2-minutes!

    Family Building
    Because I am a bit of a personal development junkie, I frequently *force* – umm, I mean invite – my husband and kids to join me in a family-building activity. The activities typically involve self-reflection and have some element of play or fun to them, such as art, cooking, or using props from some of my teambuilding games. There have been a few activities over the past few months that were especially meaningful and enjoyable and I wanted to share them with you. Keep reading to learn about our “Me Collages.” And watch for upcoming posts with other intentional family activities.

    Me Collage
    The purpose of this activity is to allow each member of the family to create a collage of words and images that represent aspects of themselves. Here is my Me Collage:
    me collage

    Activity Instructions:

    1. Print out or draw a template for each person to create their Me Collage on. We used these gingerbread-style cutouts. Click on the image to download and print.
      gingerbread man
    2. Gather lots of magazines and catalogs to use for cutting out images and words.
    3. Set up your workspace: spread out the magazines and provide scissors and glue for each person. You may want to have markers or crayons available too in case someone wants to draw on their Me Collage.
    4. Allow at least 30-minutes for perusing the magazines and creating your collages. Of course, depending on the ages and attention spans of your children, you decide if less or more time is necessary.
    5. After everyone has finished their Me Collage, take turns sharing them with one another. Get curious about the images that were chosen. You might ask questions such as: What does that mean to you? OR How are you most like that ______?

    In addition to your family, this activity is appropriate for any group wanting to get to know each other better: a mom’s club, a book club, with your students, etc.

    Credit for this activity goes to my mom, Helen Ercolino. Helen is a Licensed Counselor and Registered Play Therapist out of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, working with children, couples and families (as well as individuals).

    I’d love to hear about your Me Collages! You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page or share via our Facebook page. May God bless you and each member of your family!

    With love,
    De

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Titus Tuesdays, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday, Women with Intention

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  • Be My Valentine

    This is a revised version of last year’s Valentine’s post, PLUS a new free download: Daily Affirmation Cards.

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

    Have you ever considered the idea of loving yourself the way God calls us to love all people? I mean, you too, are people, right? What if God’s command to ‘love one another’ includes loving ourselves?

    We can only give what we have. If my inner love reserves are low or empty, my capacity to love others is impacted. We’ve all had those days that call on us to give, nurture, listen, empathize, give, and give some more. My ‘giving’ begins to look and feel a lot different to the recipient as I become more tired and depleted. And my empathy starts to feel less and less empathetic and more and more impatient!

    Read more

  • Be Where You Are

    Zachary wants so badly to walk. He pulls himself up on everything, holds on with one hand, and…falls to the floor. The fact is, his body is just not ready for walking. He does not yet have the necessary balance or core strength.

    He does, however, have everything he needs right at this moment to crawl. But he doesn’t want to crawl. He sees the rest of us walking and it looks so amazing, so big, so enticing. Crawling…well, that seems so boring. Crawling is for babies 🙂
    IMAG0932

    I was having a little chat with him this afternoon telling him, Zach don’t fixate so much on walking. Keep working on the crawling! You’re not ready for walking yet. But THIS (crawling), this you could be doing right now! And you know what, in doing it, you’ll get what you want. You’ll be able to move from here to there all on your own! AND you’ll be preparing yourself for walking when the time comes.

    Hmmm…this sounds familiar…
    My conversation with Zach resembled many conversations I’ve had with myself. How many times have I wanted to skip over THIS and get right to THAT?

    “De, don’t fixate so much on that over there. Stay right here where you are. Don’t miss the opportunities presented by THIS present moment! You’re HERE because you’re not ready to be THERE yet.”

    While this is not usually the reality I want to be reminded of, it is the truth!

    The only place I can learn, grow, love, give, receive, LIVE is in this present moment.

    Thoughts for us to ponder:

    1. What does it mean to “trust the process?”
    2. What would it be like to limit your thinking about the past, your dreaming about the future, and completely immerse yourself in the present moment?
    3. What will you gain each time you bring your thoughts and your heart right back to NOW?

    We are meant to journey through life, not “arrive” somehow one day. Each step along our path readies us for what is to come, up around the next bend. The joy-full times and the difficult times. Each is a part of God’s plan and helps us grow in wholeness and holiness!

    May God bless you with His peace and presence!

    With love,
    De

    Sharing with: Wise Woman Link Up, Homemaking Link Up, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday

  • Envision, Intention, Action

    How do you use the opportunity presented by the opening of a new year to open to something new in your life? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? Or perhaps you participate in the practice of choosing 1-word to guide your year. (Read about my 1-word for 2016 here).

    One of my favorite workshops to facilitate is “Envision, Intention, Action.” Typically offered in the month of January, this workshop has participants spend a couple of hours looking inward, getting in touch with their hopes and desires for the coming year. And listening in for God’s call or direction as intentions are set.

    The questions below are from a guided imagery we use in the workshop. The guided imagery has us “begin with the end in mind,” envisioning important aspects of our life as if it were December 31, 2016. Creating a mental picture that aligns us to our truth, and our core values. You know the expression, “If you can see it, you can be it!” So grab your journal and a pen and give yourself the gift of 30-minutes (ok, 20-minutes, or even 15) to envision…

    Envision

    Take a moment and call to mind, one-by-one, each of the important areas of your life. And as you do so, think about in which area you desire to create the most positive change in 2016?

    • Relationship with God / spiritual walk
    • Family relationships
    • Physical health & wellness
    • Emotional health
    • Friendships
    • Finances
    • Vocation / Career
    • Fun & Recreation
    • Something else?

    Write down the life area you’ve chosen and… Imagine that it is now December 31st, 2016. The year is about to end…
    What’s different or better in this area of your life now?
    What, if anything, has changed in your daily routine?
    What, if anything, do you have in your life now that you didn’t have in January, 2016?
    What does that mean to you? What’s important about that?
    What, if anything, have you had to let go of in order for this reality to exist?

    Read what you’ve written in response to the questions above. As you envision this “end,” – this positive shift in one important life area – what jumps out most to you? What feels most important? Having greater peace-of-mind? Deeper connection with your significant other or your children? Cultivating daily practices to release your anxiety? What is calling out for your most immediate attention? Write this down.

    Now it’s time to process your personal hopes and desires through the “God filter.” What does God want for you in 2016? Stay here for a minute. Close your eyes and ask Him, “God, guide me in YOUR path. Direct my steps through 2016. Help me to listen for your guidance now, and each and every day. Help me to take one small step in Your direction every single day.” And again consider and write your response to, “What does God want for me in 2016?”

    Intention

    Write a 1 or 2 sentence intention, boiling down your vision for 2016. For example, the life area that I am choosing to focus on is Family Relationships and I believe that God is calling me to let go of the “should’s” and “supposed to’s” and allow myself to experience more JOY. Based on that awareness, here is my intention statement:

    I am intentional about experiencing more JOY in 2016. I do this by staying mindful to incorporate things that bring me joy into each day. My joy comes from: cuddling and playing with my baby, being spontaneous with my older kids, spending time in the chapel at my church, finding new recipes and cooking for my family.

    Action

    God does not usually call us to make huge changes or scrap entire parts of our lives all at once (at least not in the average case).  Typically, living by God’s plan and purpose is about taking small steps; small, consistent adjustments or modifications to our daily routines.

    A tiny shift in the tack shifts the direction. A tiny shift in direction shifts the destination. Dream BIG! Take small steps. – De Yarrison

    I am a big fan of visual tools that keep my intentions in front of me. The ‘Stepping Stones’ visual below is a simple action planner. We use it in this workshop for breaking our intention statement into small chunks that we can realize on a regular basis. Take a look at my “Stepping Stones to JOY” graphic as an example. My action steps are so simple, right?! Yes! Small, manageable steps I can take consistently in an effort to have more JOY in my life!”

    Click on the Stepping Stones graphic to download a pdf copy.

    May God bless you and your intentions!

    Stepping Stones Download for you
    Stepping Stones Girl no title

    De’s 2016 Stepping Stones to JOY
    IMG_0111

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Women with Intention, Wise Woman Linkup, Essential Friday Devotion, Grace and Truth

  • Getting Radical

    If you’re a regular reader of my blog or have done any coaching with me, you’ll know that positive change, while challenging for most of us, is absolutely possible. We re-create our behavior patterns and literally, re-wire our brains in support of the desired change, through vigilant focus and daily intention on what we WANT to move towards. You can read these older blog posts if you’re interested in learning more about the science of positive change:

    And So It Is
    Yes I Am

    The transition we experience every December 31st presents a perfect opportunity to reflect. The start of a new year is incredibly inviting – like opening a fresh journal, full of crisp blank pages. The new year invites me to set new intentions, create new behavior patterns, to write “Chapter 2016” of my life story.

    What is it I wish to move towards in 2016? Who is God calling me to become this year? What qualities or behaviors is He calling me to express more fully?

    As I began praying and thinking about the one word I would choose to guide my 2016 journey, I contemplated the work the Lord has been doing in me lately. He’s definitely been shining a light on my merciful-ness (and lack thereof 😮 ). And He’s arranged many opportunities recently for me to surrender my worries and trust in His timing and provision.

    Mercy
    Surrender
    Trust

    A little back-story

    My dear tween-age son has been giving me a run for my money lately. In my better parenting moments, I remember to encourage him towards the behavior I want to see more of, as opposed to nagging him about the behavior I want to see less of. I’ve taken to saying to him, “Come on, you can do it! Let’s go for radical obedience!” Radical! Over-the-top. Extra eager.

    So, it wasn’t a big wonder that I kept hearing the word “Radical” as a candidate for my 2016.

    Radical: Uncompromising, fanatical, unbending, stubborn (Lord knows I’m gifted in the stubborn category. Why not apply my gift in a constructive direction?)

    Radical is just the right adjective to precede my mercy-giving and my trusting. To qualify my surrender.

    Now comes the fun part. Experimenting with what “radical” will look like in the different aspects of my daily life. Being radical has an instantaneous, eager quality about, doesn’t it? I envision myself leaping up instantly and eagerly at the many daily opportunities that I am sure God will send my way 🙂 .

    What does “radical mercy” towards my children look like?
    What’s different when my trust in the Lord becomes “radical trust?”
    What if my surrendering of a situation or decision becomes “radical surrender”?
    And how about love (my word from 2015)? How will I express “radical love” towards my husband?

    I’m excited to see how applying a dose of “radical” will impact my mothering, my marriage, my faith. Stay tuned…

    Reflection

    What is God calling you towards in 2016? What one particular word might you choose to guide “Chapter 2016” of your life story? Share in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!

    Closing Prayer:

    Father God, we ask your blessing upon us as we begin a new year. May we walk closer to You, both in every joyful moment and in our times of trial. We ask for increased strength, hardiness, and confidence in following You wherever You will lead us this year. Grant us great love and attentiveness for the needs of others, most especially those within our own homes. Fill us so completely with Your Love and Light so we will be a blessing to all those around us. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus, AMEN.

    Linking up with: Mommy Monday Blog Hop, Motivation Monday, Women with Intention, Titus Tuesdays, Essential Friday Devotions, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Friday

  • Love Does Not Calculate

    Math heart

    My niece, Megan, is a beautiful writer (and a beautiful human being all around!). I’ve shared a post of hers in the past, which you can find here. Once again, Megan’s words convict me and expose me to myself, while making me laugh. That’s a great combination. With her permission, I’m sharing Megan’s latest post here. Read on…

    Love Does Not Calculate by Megan Gettinger

    I hate math.

    I’ve hated math for as long as I can remember.

    I avoid math at all costs, unless I have to manage a budget, measure ingredients to bake something chocolate, or calculate the new price of that fantastic top that’s 60% off.
    Math heart

    Calculating numbers is not my forte; calculating in relationships (unfortunately) comes much easier to me.

    I often find myself composing word problems like this:

    “If husband gets 2 guys’ nights this month and wife hasn’t had an uninterrupted shower in 5 days, how many girls’ nights out should she get?”

    “If wife cooks dinner every night for a week, how many loads of laundry must husband do?”

    “If husband has to work late 3 nights this week, approximately how crabby can wife be (divided by 2 children and multiplied by the number of messes the two year old makes in the span of an hour)?”

    “If baby has 4 diaper blow outs and 2 projectile spit ups before dad gets home from work how long can mom hide in the bathroom once he arrives?”

    It is so easy to see relationships, especially those with the people we live with, as an attempt to keep the scales balanced. Even though I’ve been told time and time again (thanks, Mom) that life isn’t fair, I still seem to be surprised and disgruntled when it’s not.

    Life, and especially love, just can’t be made to fit the scales.

    Some weeks I will struggle, I will be tired and unmotivated and Hank will pick up the slack, doing laundry and washing dishes and playing with the kids.

    Other weeks he will be busy with work or overwhelmed by deadlines and it’s my turn to cook dinner, change that millionth dirty diaper and make sure bedtime happens.

    These situations won’t ever be equal. We can’t keep score or tally up how much we’ve done and tag out when we feel we have given enough or put in our “fair share.”

    St. John Paul the Great is quoted having said, “Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate or complain, but simply loves.”

    Love posted on a scoreboard isn’t really love.

    Love is simple not complicated, like my ridiculous word problems.

    Love is 1+1= 2

    “Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

    If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

    But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

    Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

    But how can one keep warm alone?

    Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

    Eccl. 4:9-12

    St. John Paul the Great, please pray for us as we strive to unlearn the habit of calculating in relationships and learn to simply give. We ask for the grace to offer up all of our struggles in giving love freely and for the ability to see that love offered alongside Christ’s immeasurable love is multiplied in ways we can’t even imagine. Amen.

    Check out more great articles at Megan’s blog, Your Feminine Genius.

  • Perfect Problems

    I read this recently: If we all put our problems in a pile and saw everybody else’s, we’d grab ours back!

    How great is that!?

    Our ‘problems’ are no random occurrences. Each has been hand-picked by God. If we believe that He has a plan for each one of our lives, and if we trust Him, then we can begin to reframe the way we think about adverse events or circumstances. No longer problems to contend with, but opportunities for growth.

    We can shift the emotion or energy we give to our ‘problems.’ No longer challenges that cause us anxiety or to feel defeated, but opportunities to practice courage and acceptance. Faith strengtheners.

    But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

    I used to be a real control-freak (my husband might argue that ‘used to be’ is not exactly the truth, but let’s go with it). Several years ago, the Lord went on a mission to teach me that HE is actually in control, not me. He threw ‘problems’ into my life that I couldn’t possibly control, though, believe me, I tried! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A family member was deep in a drug addiction. My parents divorced. My sister contracted a scary and rare illness (she was sick in the hospital over her planned wedding day!). Yeah, that was quite a time.

    Quite a blessed time.

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you” – Jeremiah 29:11

    There was no way I could cope with all those “problems” on my own. He gave me exactly the right amount of adverse circumstances I needed in order to turn to Him and fall on my knees. To surrender. To deepen my trust and strengthen my faith. If it weren’t for all those “problems,” I would not have the gift of a rich faith as I do today. I would not have the deep sense of peace and contentment that I have each day, knowing God is in charge of my life. And I do not think I would be doing this work that I am blessed with today. I would not be able to come alongside and sit compassionately with others who are coping with their ‘problems.’

    Yes, much “bless” has come from the “mess.” (I love the expression, “find the bless in the mess”).

    Our God knows exactly how each one of us is to grow and develop. Therefore, He knows exactly the right ‘problems’ that will help us learn the necessary lessons and face the necessary experiences, as He gently nudges us out of our comfort zones. He has carefully crafted the cross we each carry. Each is the perfect size and weight. He gently places our cross on our shoulders at exactly the right moment. And this is the best part – He walks along beside us and helps us carry it! He is right there with outstretched hands throughout our entire journey!

    As you walk through whatever problems or trials you are facing today, don’t forget to look up. Literally, take a minute and look up at the sky, draw in a deep breath, and ask God to show you how He wants for you to trust Him in this circumstance. What He wants you to surrender to Him today. He will never give you more than you can handle, so long as you hold onto His hand.

    With love,
    De

  • Signs of God In Our Midst

    Our God is here. Walking among us. Dwelling in our midst. Over the years, I’ve certainly experienced my share of answered prayers, as many of you undoubtedly have also. And perhaps we’ve each had a not-so-chance encounter with an acquaintance who says exactly what we need to hear to help make that decision we’ve been delaying. And how about the times we randomly open the bible, our eyes fall on a verse jumping out at us, filling our hearts with the truth we so needed to be reminded of at that moment. Our God is here!

    Sometimes God sends visual reminders that He is here with us. A dazzling summer sky. Sunbeams streaming through the clouds or dancing on the water. Nature’s vibrancy. A baby’s precious little face.

     

    To me, the most astounding reminders of God’s presence are those He addresses to each of us personally. It’s pretty cool to receive a timely sign from God, addressing us right where we are in that moment. Below are stories of three such moments – literally, signs of God in our midst!.

    A friend of mine has been called to consider becoming a Deacon in the Catholic Church. This friend already leads a very busy life. In addition to being a business owner, he and his wife have 10 children! Recently, he attended an informational meeting about becoming a Deacon, went home and put the paperwork in a drawer in his desk. A few weeks later, he noticed the paperwork on top of his desk. Hmmm. Later that day, he was sitting in the parking lot of a convenience store, talking with God. He was letting God know that he didn’t think becoming a deacon was a good idea for him. At that moment, God interrupted him by sending a truck from Deacon Industries to park in the space next to him. The word “DEACON” was painted in very large yellow letters! Best just to go directly to Nineveh, Jonah…
    deacon, black bgd

    Another friend of mine was in a car accident recently with her teenage son in the car. They were hit head on, air bags deployed, and the car spun completely around. Everyone was, thankfully unharmed. But the car…well not so good. My friend prayed for God’s will to be done …and the next day, during sunrise, a large tractor trailer truck passed by displaying “JESUS” in big bold red letters. The truck disappeared out of site and then quickly reappeared heading the opposite direction. God sent His reassurance – 53 feet long! – that He had the situation in the palm of His hand!
    Jesus truck

    I gave birth to my third baby (Zachary Joseph) on May 20, 2015 at 3:30 in the afternoon. Labor came on very suddenly and progressed crazily fast. In fact, just 2 hours before he was born, I was leaving an appointment that was a half hour drive from my house. As I was walking through the parking lot to my car, I had a pretty good contraction, which caused me to lean on a parked car for a moment. I took a deep breath and said a prayer for help to get home safely. When I stood up, I noticed the license plate on the car I was leaning on: “You’ve got a friend in JESUS.”
    IMAG0295

    Have you ever had an experience of God, right here in our midst? Can you feel how close He is? Reach out to Him. He is standing right beside you, ready to take your hand in His.

    seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29

    With love,
    De

    Sharing with Mommy Monday, Motivation Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Woman to Woman, Winsome Wednesdays, Essential Fridays, Fellowship Friday,
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  • Catching God on the Whisper

    I am just days away from the birth of my new baby, Zachary Joseph. Zachary is a surprise gift, given to me for my 45th birthday (my other children will turn 13 and 11 years old this summer)!

    Reflecting on the past several years, I am truly astounded at some of the changes that have occurred in my life and in my heart. I am a complete believer in the fact that God can and does make all things new, including my marriage, my faith, and my relationship with myself.

    Back in the Fall of 2014, I had an article published* in which I shared the story of how God worked in my life to, not only save my falling-apart-marriage, but to truly “make it new.” At the time I wrote the article, I didn’t know that a new little life would also be entering the scene! I wanted to share excerpts from that article with you here.

    [Aside: the other day, as I was talking to someone about the new baby and how old my other children are, she asked if this is a new marriage. I had to pause and decide how I wanted to answer that! I kept it simple and said, “No, same guy.” 🙂 ]

    My article…

    Catching God on the Whisper
    And then one day, the whispering turned to shouting. I could no longer feign deafness and bury my head. I looked up. Finally…I looked up.

    It was June, 2009. I stood teetering on the edge between 39 and 40 years old. Looking at my life, I saw two awesome kids, a comfortable home, a flourishing faith community and work I loved. Life was good.

    Or was it? I haven’t yet mentioned my marriage. When did my husband and I shift from being best friends to roommates trying to stay out of each others’ way?

    The transition had been occurring gradually for years. When the kids were younger, it was easy to live in a space that was slowly filling with resentment, contempt and distance. Our unmet needs and unspoken expectations were nothing unusual. However, our lack of skill and courage in speaking openly about our hurts and our vulnerabilities presented a “toe-hold” for opening up wounds of yesteryear. The devil stuck his toe in that space and pried it further and further open. Until one day it felt as though a great crevasse lay between my husband and myself.

    My old wound was the result of my innate desire for a Savior. Way back into my childhood, I recall daydreaming about the Prince who would ride into my life, rescue me and fill me up in every way. My mistake was expecting to find my Prince in the ordinary men in my life:
    • The dad who lived across the street
    • The trainer who worked at the health club
    • The distinguished older man down the hall at my first real job
    • My husband

    None of these men were my savior.

    When reality left its clues that my husband was not my savior, let me tell you, I was indignant! Ugh! How could that happen? I slipped into anger and resentment. I didn’t yet know that I was searching for something I would never find: A savior in an imperfect-but-doing-the-best-he-can human being. As the crevasse widened, I began to look at my husband with disappointment, even contempt.

    And now the kids were getting older… They were noticing…and learning.
     

    The Whispers

    “And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

    The winter of 2010, brought record snows. My husband and I took the kids sledding at a huge hill on the property of an arboretum. We drove in separate cars. When my family left, I stayed to hang out with friends who had met us for sledding. These were unmarried, kid-less friends.

    A few days later, I was cleaning up papers around the house and I stumbled upon a note my 7-year-old daughter had written to herself about the sledding day. She wrote of the big hill, the deep snow, and the fun we had. Then she wrote, “Daddy, me, and Adam went home. Mommy stayed. I don’t understand why.”

    God’s whisper…, “Go home now. Your children need you to return to your family; to your marriage.”

    Another day, driving in the car, the kids asked how my husband and I first met. I told them the story of meeting, of dating, and of their Daddy asking me to marry him while we were watching the sunset on the beach. My daughter reflected for a moment, and then said in a sad voice, “And I guess now you just don’t listen to each other anymore.”

    Another whisper…”Your children are learning about marriage based on what you are modeling for them.”

    But what about those other voices?! The loud ones, relishing in my open wound:
    “He never…”
    “What did you expect…”
    “You have a right to feel…”
    “What about your happiness…”
    “He is so…”

    Lies of the Evil One; his attempts to control my thinking.

    Days, weeks, 2 years passed.

    There I was. Disengaged, discontent, hopeless. Right where the enemy wanted me.
     
    And then came God’s shouting.

    Thankfully, He was willing to abandon His preferred mode of communication. He obviously knew how desperately I needed to feel and hear His presence in a loud and tangible way. To actually hear the Lord shouting in my head and in my heart was a bit disconcerting. I looked up to see the words clearly, as if they were painted in the sky,” I, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, AM YOUR SAVIOR. Nobody and nothing else will ever satisfy you. Stop your searching. COME BACK TO ME. NOW!”

    This was not a suggestion or a plea. I heard this clearly as a command. And, quite honestly, I felt a little afraid (in a good way). I felt reverence for God’s authority – not mine – over my life. The Lord reminded me that He is the Truth and it was time for me to take a stand against the lies that had been controlling my behavior – and quite frankly, my life – for years.

    The Lord also showed me that before anything could evolve in my marriage, much had to evolve in my relationship with ME. And only one thing was required of me to shift the trajectory of my life. The single action I must take: cling to the Lord from that moment on. On my own, I was to do nothing, say nothing, think nothing. His clear command was, “Pray without ceasing.”

    Gently and slowly, He guided me to the people and places where I could heal my deep wounds. He strengthened my spirit and taught me how to resist Satan’s lies. He held me, loved me, and assured me that I was safe. He also showed me that, together, we have much work to do. He has a mighty plan for this world and there is a unique role for me in carrying out His plan.

    Over time, and as His plan is unfolding, I see great purpose and refinement during that two year period, where I once saw only trial and despair. I know without a doubt that God uses every single circumstance we get ourselves into for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory.

    The Journey Continues…
    These days, I am much better at catching God on the whisper. I’ve learned how to get really quiet and to stop believing every thought that enters my mind. I’m putting into practice Saint Paul’s great advice to “take every thought captive” (ref 2 Corinthians 10:5).

    I now know that the greatest obstacle we face in living out His purpose is all a big lie, perpetuated by the Father of Lies. We must beware of succumbing to false beliefs, such as: “You aren’t good enough.”; “You can’t do that.”; “This is how you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to do.” These are lies that keep us small and doubting. God calls each one of us to be bold and confident in Him!

    Our truth, our destiny
    It is my hope that today is the day you return to your Truth. No matter what trial you’re facing. No matter how long you’ve believed that lie of the enemy. No matter how many mistakes, poor choices, or bad decisions have been made. Today is the day to return to Truth. I assure you, His loving arms are open and waiting for you.

    With love,
    De

    * My article appeared in “Woman To Woman” magazine, which is published by Woman to Woman Ministries: www.w2wministries.org.