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I remember the night Dandy came into our lives.  My son was four years old.  He’d gone up to his room, lit with a night light, and immediately came back to us in fear.  He said there was a wolf in his room!  We went back up together, and nothing was there – that I could see.  He still thought he saw a wolf and was terrified. 

“Oh, that’s not a wolf.  That’s a little puppy,” I said, playing along in hopes of redirecting his thoughts.  The scared expression on his face started to soften so I continued.  “He must be lost.  I don’t know how he got in here. Since it’s night time, why don’t we let him spend the night?”  My son quickly changed his line of thinking and, to my surprise, went running downstairs to show his Dad his new puppy! 

He named the imaginary dog Dandy.  Dandy lived with us for a long time and was quite a dog!  He flew helicopters, traveled everywhere with us, liked cheerleaders, was caught swinging from the chandelier, and best of all…was a rainbow-colored dog. 

I look back at that now and see a lesson in the story.  How we feel about things depends on our perspective.  When my son thought he saw a wolf, he was gripped with fear and couldn’t enter his room.  As soon as he perceived the wolf as being a rainbow-colored puppy, he became excited and couldn’t wait to share his excitement with his father.  That excitement led to many wonderful moments of happy, imaginative play.

Isn’t life like that for us sometimes?  We look at a situation and see a wolf lurking before us.  However, as we face the situation and do a double-take, we realize it’s not a wolf at all, but a sheep in wolf’s clothing.  It’s all about our perspectives, how we choose to see things. 

I’m sure there’s a scripture to go with that, but I’m falling asleep at the computer, so I’ll have to add the scripture tomorrow.

Bless you. 

Renee

Understand this my brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen and slow to speak…

James 1:19

Are you listening?  If someone asked that question of me I’d have to say no.  No, I’m not listening because I’m talking too much, and I’ve been getting worse instead of better! 

I feel so sorry for the friend who spent the weekend with me at the She Speaks conference because I talked most of the way home!  I heard that quiet voice in my head say, “Renee, just be quiet!”, but it was too late to stop me.  I kept talking.  I finally tried to stop when I realized I was tired of the sound of my own voice!  If I was tired of hearing me, she really had to be tired of hearing me!  That’s so embarassing! (I’ve  apologized to her.)

Not only do I find myself talking too much, I take too long to say things.  What others can say in two sentences, I say in two paragraphs!  If only I spoke like I try to write, avoiding unnecessary wordiness and trying to keep word counts to a minimum.

God called me a communicator a couple of years ago.  How awesome it was to receive a title from Him!  And how awesome it would be if I’d remember that communicating is LISTENING as well as speaking.  Those who know me now would never guess that I’ve been a nutritional counselor in my past, that I was a trained listener. 

Writing has been good for me because it gives me an outlet for the thougths that make their way into my head.  However, writing also stimulates more thoughts and makes me want to talk more!  Oh, what’s a chatty girl to do?

Well, one thing I’ll do is read a book that one of our pastors mentioned yesterday, The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols, PhD.   Another is to pray that God will hold my tongue when necessary; and I’ll also claim, over and over, the verse above found in James 1:19:

“…be quick to listen and slow to speak…”

 

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly…”     Romans 12:6

I spent this past weekend at the She Speaks! conference held by the Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I was surrounded by what was said to be over 500 amazing Christian women, all there because of callings on their hearts to write, speak, or be leaders in ministries.  Their accomplishments, successes in their ‘fields’, and Christian involvements were impressive.  Each woman I met was so interesting!  Of course, many women were also beautiful in addition to being so impressive by the things they’ve done or were preparing to do.

Out of those 500+ women, I was blessed to be part of a small speaker evaluation group.  Within that small group alone, I was amazed at all the talents and gifts represented!  Everyone was so diverse! Each woman had her own sense of style, spiritual grace, and ‘something special’ about her that made her stand out in some way. 

I left for the weekend ‘wearing my new’ – as Lysa TerKeurst put it.  Unfortunately for me, though, part of my ‘new’ included a new ‘do’ (aka haircut), and it wasn’t working out for me too well, so I was having bad hair days!!! So there I was, trying to cover myself in confidence and feel my best as I rubbed shoulders with 500 impressive women, but my hair looked bad, I absent mindedly left my notes behind for the first small group ‘talk’ I was to give with my speaker group, and I didn’t have an impressive ministry, published book, or long list of speaking engagements to give me credibilty.  It would have been so easy to think, I don’t measure up.

Members of the Proverbs 31 speaker team led most of the sessions.  My goodness, they were each so impressive!  Watching their presence on stage, admiring their ability to captivate the audience and bless everyone with their messages, and thinking about how they seem to have it all together, it would have been easy to think that I don’t measure up.

The truth is that I didn’t measure up to them.  God didn’t intend for me to!  God didn’t create me to measure up to them.  God created me to measure up to me!!!

I LOVED learning about the women I met and hearing about how God was using them for His work and how He was working in their lives.   Each woman I met inspired and encouraged me, and those leading sessions taught and blessed me.  These women inspired me to reach higher and do more so that I can come closer to reaching my full potential as the person God created ME to be – not to try to be anyone else or live anyone else’s life story.

Nope.  I don’t measure up to anyone else because God wants me to measure up to ME! 

It’s interesting to note that as I was writing this post I heard from the friend who attended the conference with me.  She told me about a scene from her favorite movie, Mary Poppins.  In that scene Mary Poppins pulled out a measuring tape with no numbers on it.  It went to the top of her head and at that point it told her she was measuring up perfectly.  THAT’S the measuring stick God wants us to use – the one that shows we’re measuring up to who HE wants us to be, not who we think we should be. 

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.”   – 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

Love and blessings to all,

Renee

Are any of my bloggy friends still there?  I’ve been away this weekend to attend this year’s “She Speaks!” conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. 

She Speaks is a wonderful conference that reaches out to Christian writers, speakers, leaders, and next generation girls.  This was my second time to attend.  Last year was my first She Speaks! conference and was SO helpful to me as I was just starting to find my way as someone who’d been called to writing and speaking. In many respects I’m still finding my way! 

If being a Christian writer, speaker or leader of ministry is even just an idea in your head, this conference is for you.  Women came from 40 states and 4 countries.  It’s my understanding that over 500 women were there this year!  

I took part in the Speaker’s track but also took sessions about how to get material published, how to market myself/ministry, and even a session on blogging.  (You’re so nice to be here reading this because it was obvious that I have a lot to learn about blogging and hosting a site!  Thanks for being a bloggy friend, anyway!) 

The women of the Proverbs 31 Ministries run the entire event and tend to all details and needs of the attendees.  Women from the Speaker Team and a few invited ‘experts’ give the messages for the main sessions and host speaker evaluations and writer’s.  They’re all amazing women, true to their faith, and honestly seeking to serve the Lord above all. 

I’ve been inspired, informed and introduced to many new sister-friends.  I loved them all and am grateful God led our paths to cross.  In case of any of those who were in my speaker evaluation group are visiting, I want to extend a special hug and hello to you – especially you, Zoe.  You were every bit as warm and loving in person as I imagined you would be…and even more so.  Thank you for being our group leader and for fostering such a warm and comfortable presence for our group.

If you’d like to know more about Proverbs 31 Ministries and check out all that they offer, go to www.Proverbs31.org  It’s an internet trip that’s certainly worth taking!

God bless you.

Renee

 

 

If you’re as old as me, do you remember a pop song from our youth that went, “Give me just a little more time, and our love will surely grow…”   Well, that song played out in truth for me today.  While my older son was away at basketball camp, I spent the entire day with my younger son (7 years old) totally ignoring everything else I could have been doing or should have been doing.   What a great day it was!  He thrived on having my attention dedicated solely to him.  I can’t remember a day when he’s given my so many hugs and squeezes.  We didn’t go anywhere or do anything special, either.  We just spent first part of the day taking it easy on the couch and watching some of his favorite children’s shows.  After lunch we spent most of the afternoon up in his room.  So it was a take-it-easy and hang out together kind of day, and it was wonderful. 

If you ask kids what they want, most will respond that they want time with their parents.  They want their parents to play with them and/or hang out with them.  

Read or recall the words to the tune above and think about your child(ren) while you do. 

“Give me just a little more love, and our love will surely grow…” 

May God bless you and your time with your children.  I hope you’ll make the most of the weeks they’re home for the summer. 

And by the way…I’ll bet God’s up there singing that song about US, too!  Give Him just a little more time, and your love for Him will surely grow, too!

Love, hugs, and blessings,

Renee

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another…” 

1 Thessalonians 3:12

I was sorry to see today’s date this morning because it meant that yesterday is officially over.  June 8th, yesterday, was our 17th wedding anniversary and I loved every moment of it.  My husband and I agreed that it was a landmark anniversary for us. 

Like all married couples, we’ve had our ups and downs.  We’ve celebrated and we’ve struggled.  We’ve seen successes and made mistakes.  We also made it through 17 years of marriage, and this was the best year for both of us!  You see, in recent years we stopped just ‘going to church’ and started growing in faith.  We’ve been allowing God to work in each of us – and He’s done so at different paces and in different ways – but He’s brought both of us to Him and we’ve allowed ourselves to be humbled by Him and offered our hearts and lives to Him.  In doing so, He’s taken us to depths in our hearts that we didn’t know existed which has allowed our love to grow in ways we never even imagined. 

We also pray for each other and ask God to be with us and our family.  I continually ask Christ to be cornerstone of our foundation and the center of our home.

I would have imagined that after being married for 17 years, our lives would start to settle and that we’d settle into our lives in sort of of a ho-hum way, but that is not so!  Each of us believes that the newness of love we feel is because of our ‘newness’ in Christ (although it’s been a 7-year process), and that our marriage has a newness, too!  We are very excited to see what God has in store for us! 

We know from experience that God allows the bad as well as the good in life, but we’re ok with that because we’ll meet each day and each situation in faith,  trusting God with all our hearts. 

We had a wonderful weekend of love and celebration.  One of the best moments was in church yesterday when he asked me to go with him to the altar to pray.  It was such a sweet moment of love and prayer, and one that I hope we’ll have many more times in our years together. 

Thank You, Lord, for blessing us in our marriage as You have.  May we continue to dedicate our hearts and lives to You in ways that are pleasing to You and keep us in Your graces.  Amen. 

Dear Lord, Thank you for all that You do for us; for how much You love us; and for the wonderful ways You show Your love to us.  Thank You for the blessings that are in each day, especially the blessings that convey Your wondrous hand of grace and provision.  Thank you, too, for bringing us, Your children, together – often in ways unbeknownst to us – so that we can bless each other and help each other along as an extension of Your love, kindness, mercy and grace. 

Lord, I pray for those who are hurting or struggling, sick, or dying, that You will act in ways that prove Your unfailing love for them.  I pray also for those who feel lost or unworthy, that You will put people in their paths who can touch their hearts and lead them to You; that ultimately they will seek You with all their heart and find You in amazing ways.  Thank You for being the loving Shepherd who longs for all in His flock to stay safely in His fold, and that You will go down to the lowest low to lift up those who have fallen.

I thank you that I am in a good place in my life; that You have made me strong so that I can help those who are weak.  Thank You for the wonderful people you bring into my life – my family, church family, friends, online friends, and especially for those whose paths you call to cross mine in surprising, unexpected, and amazing ways.   

Mostly I thank You for making You and Your love known to me.  My greatest desire to is to live each day in a way that will be pleasing to You and honor You.  Help me to seek and follow Your will for me that I can do my best to meet Your expecations for me and to give back what I can in return for all You give to me.  To You, my Heavenly Father I pray, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and with the love of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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