Face TO Face

It’s been 6 months since my friend Amy passed on to her reward. Not a day goes by that I don’t want to call her up and laugh, cry, pray or whatever with her. I have photos galore, journal entries, memory upon memory to keep her alive in my mind and my heart. But, I miss that face to face, voice to voice time.

This summer I have a part in helping to care for Amy’s little girl who has just recently turned 9. She was just 8 when her Mommy died. Do you remember how long days seemed to be when you were a kid? Time seems to drag. You want to grow up. You want tomorrow to come because you have great plans. You feel like it takes forever to wait, wait, wait, wait.

Just the other day she said something to me that really dug into me. I’ve been pondering it since. It made me think about our relationship with God, our Father.

She said, “I am starting to forget what it was like to be with Mommy.”

OH….goodness. I thought, “how could this be?” But, upon further reflection, for a 9 year old girl, 6 months is an eternity! Of course she has pictures of her Mom that she sees every day. But, since she was just 6 years old her Mommy had been sick a lot. Especially the last 6 months before she died, Amy couldn’t do what most Mommies were doing with their little girls.

I realized that it is partially up to me to keep memories of Amy alive. It is up to me as Katy gets older to tell stories about her Mom so that she knows just what an amazing person and friend she was. I knew her Mom very well for 20 years, so I must pass that knowledge on.

You see, Katy remembers generally how her Mommy was. She knows what she looks like. She remembers that she was hilarious and kind and that she loved her dearly. But, she is starting to forget the details, the specifics. She also didn’t have enough years with her to build a huge bank of personal memories and knowledge of her Mom.

This is kind of what it’s like with our relationship to God. When we step back and don’t spend time in the Word or in prayer talking to Him on a daily basis, we start to forget what it was like “being with Daddy.” We remember the gist – that He is good and kind – but we start to get dim on the details. The promises He gives us that we can claim. Reminders of His loving and generous nature and the way He wants us to be with others.

Memories of special times with God are great. Gaining knowledge by listening to others who are very close to God is great.

BUT, nothing compares to the daily FACE TO FACE personal time that He desires to have with us. That is where our relationship gets deep. That is where we gain the most intimate knowledge of our Savior and Creator.

Grateful For the Hard Times

Have you learned how to have a heart of gratitude? According to researchers, there are specific things you can do daily to cultivate a grateful heart. Some are obvious. Some not so obvious. But all are oh, so important.

Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.

Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.

A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.

We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.

Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.

I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found lifeless in his bed?

Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:

* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.

* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him. I’m grateful to be spared from that.

* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.

* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens in Los Angeles county. I’m grateful.

There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.

Since then, I’ve entering into times of beautiful blessing as well as hardship. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.

So very grateful.

Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.

I hope you’ll see.

There is so much to be grateful for.

In the Waiting

“I am in the waiting. I have never left you. I will never forsake you. The promises I have given you will be fulfilled. You must wait. It’s in the waiting you become closer to me if you choose. You can choose to run away. You can choose to take matters into your own hands, but where is that going to get you? I can tell you my plans and my promises are way better than you could ever think or imagine. In the waiting I am shaping you and molding you into the person I have created you to become. I am the potter and you are the clay. You have cracks that need repair. You have holes that need to be filled, and I am the only one who can repair and fill you. You are broken and it’s in the waiting you are healed and put back together. I am in the waiting.”

God gave me this word late at night last week. I feel as though I am in the waiting and honestly I feel as though I am constantly in the waiting. Right now I am waiting for my career to take off, I am waiting for my husband, I am waiting for my finances to come through. However, it’s true! I am broken and I feel it is in the waiting God is molding me and shaping me to be the best coach and entrepreneur. It’s in the waiting God is equipping me to be a wife. It’s in the waiting I am learning about stewardship. I am not perfect and I never will be, but I can become the best version of myself with God at my center.

Are you waiting for a promise to be fulfilled? Don’t lose hope. God is in the waiting and he is preparing you for that promise right now.

GRADUATION DAY

Graduations are in process now at Universities, Colleges, Tech Schools and High Schools.  This is a life changing event filled with hope for the future. For most it is a step to further learning and degrees that will secure good income to support their families.  It is a big accomplishment, and I offer my congratulations to you and your family members for pursuing and completing that dream.

college-graduationThe dictionary offers one definition that works for this writing today: to change gradually or by degrees.

As I reach my 75th birthday I can honestly tell you that life is a learning process.  Oh boy, is it ever!!!   We can all identify with that fact!  The struggles….the victories!  The sad times…the happy times!  But, that’s what learning is.  If everything was easy we wouldn’t learn from a failed test.  Failing isn’t all bad because we can learn from our mistakes and improve our grade the next time there’s a test!!!

Have you noticed……life is a classroom of tests.  And the Unchanging Teacher is God through His Holy Spirit, and the text book is His Word….The Holy Bible.

The Book of Proverbs is full of wisdom.  In fact it says to not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight; preserve, keep sound judgement and discretion, and they will be life for you.   Wisdom is found in those who take advise.

King David says in Psalm 19:73…….Give me understanding to learn your commands.  And Job 34:4 says ….. we should discern for ourselves what is right, and learn together what is good.

Well….if wisdom is found in those who take advise, let me give you some advise, since I am a white-headed elder who has come through years of “gradual change”!!!

Read…study God’s Word so that you may learn wisdom and understanding at the Highest Degree.

LOOK FORWARD TO THAT GREAT GRADUATION DAY WHEN YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER SAYS “WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT…..ENTER IN TO THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION”.

YOU CAN’T GET A HIGHER DEGREE THAN THAT ! ! !

Evidence of LIFE

Sometimes the chaos seems to overshadow the calm and gratitude. Doesn’t it? 

In this era, it seems that people are SO BUSY on a daily basis. This kid has to be here, this kid has to be there…. there is this appointment, and that deadline, and a big dinner party to plan for then…it seems never-ending for most!  

On top of all the constant activity, we have to keep our homes, cars, pets and selves tidy and clean! This in itself can be a full time job! 

I personally am not a parent, but most people I know are. However, I have had a little guy and his Mom living with me at my house for two years. He just turned six last month. 

It has been amazing having them live with me, but I must admit this has been quite an adjustment. It was just me and my tiny little dog for years on our own. If I put something away or cleaned something, or left something out – whatever I did – it would stay that same way until I changed it. This is not so when there are other people in the house! Especially little ones! Now I get it!  

Spills. Random stuff on the wall. Finger prints on glass. Crumbs on the floor. Shoes left here and there. Constant clean up.  

Sometimes I get frustrated. Really frustrated. 

Recently, God knew I needed a word. 

The other day I was listening to Christian radio in my car, and a message from Proverbs 31 Women’s ministry played. She talked about how one day she counted 14 pairs of shoes strewn throughout the living room and kitchen area where they were not supposed to be. She admitted to her frustration and said she felt like her kids were not grateful and were disrespectful. HOWEVER, she said that God gently reminded her that is was a joy to have those healthy, vibrant children in her home and in her life, and that these frustrations were trivial. The perceived chaos could be viewed as beauty instead, and gratitude is in order!

In fact, all that mess was EVIDENCE OF LIFE.  

This message really set in with me. Sure, without other people (or even animals) in my house I would have less to clean. It would be quiet. Things would stay as I left them. 

But, I can’t imagine my life going back to that now. The noise, the laughter, the messes, the constant movement…. they are all EVIDENCE OF LIFE.  

I guess I am learning to feel blessed by the mess! It means we are alive and well!  

I imagine God, our Father, looks down from time to time at our messes and could be frustrated with us. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning, and He created us, and He sees our messes as evidence of life and beauty. He is gentle, patient and kind. Though He expects us to continue to learn, grow and improve, He waits on us with great joy and compassion.  

In wisdom He made each one of us, and all creatures. Let us try to have His perspective as we press on through the beautiful mess of life.  

Psalm 104:24 “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” 

1011704_555803211146374_1978700786_n

The Master Artist is Weaving a Beautiful Work

A friend and I were talking the other day about how we can always look back and see how God was working, but when we are in the midst of things we rarely see the tapestry he is weaving from our life events. And then, we started telling the stories until we were laughing at God’s creativity.

Connecting the dots is God’s specialty. He truly does want to work all things together for our good.

How many times have you looked back on a series of events and noticed that what you thought were random connections was actually a calculated step by step route to the end result? I do this often, and I am always amazed.

Try it sometime – start tracing a recent outcome backwards – you will see the finger of God drawing the lines between all the connections for as far as you can see. For example, this week I have the privilege of being the live backstage announcer for a very big conference here in California called The California Women’s Conference. I am overwhelmed to see my name on the speaker’s page for such a big event, because I know the likelihood of an opportunity like this coming to me is so very small. But I also know that none of this happened by chance.

When I trace backwards from this week’s event, it looks something like this:

Exciting 2 days and lots of work being the live announcer for the biggest conference for women business owners in California << Signed contract to be announcer for CWC  << Email sent just a month ago, with my proposal to be the announcer << Again, God told me to send an email to Michelle about this <<Let several months go by, decided I shouldn’t do it << pitched Michelle Patterson my offer to be the announcer, she immediately said yes << felt God whisper to me “tell her you will be the announcer for this conference ” << attended several events for Women Network << volunteered to be on Advisory Board for the conference << introduced to Michelle Patterson (CEO of Women Network) by friend Kristi << Kristi invited me to local Chamber of Commerce events << joined my Chamber of Commerce at the suggestion of new friend Kristi << met a new friend named Kristi at a market party for my Nerium business << became a Nerium brand partner and began attending events to learn more << researched this new idea of starting a business with Nerium << a friend suggested I’d like some of the products he is using & the company he is with << saw something from a new friend on Facebook that made me want to know more << joined a group called Dreamers and Builders & made new friends << answered a call to adventure by an author I follow and admire << Etc. Etc.

Honestly, I can go even further back in this sequence to why I joined Facebook in the first place, and on and on. My huge opportunity to be the announcer at such a big event was not randomly generated. It was woven by God through connections I’ve made in the past several years. In the midst of that was his voice prompting me when to take action. In the future I will look back at other events and be able to trace them back to this very week and the people I will meet as a result of attending and announcing for this conference.

NONE of it is random, although it ALWAYS seems that way at the time. When I look at the hand of God and what He is bringing into my life, I can do this exercise over and over again – always with the same outcome: the realization that GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD.

It’s an exercise in remembering the faithfulness of God.

Even when all the events in a sequence are not happy ones. Yes, even then. Perhaps especially then.

Even when we interrupt the artists hands and try to do it ourselves. Yes, even then. When we are ready to give the tools back to Him, God gently corrects our messy mistakes, although he doesn’t cover them up. They become part of the fabric of our lives. He weaves his colorful threads in between those places to make it beautiful again.

Take some time this week to draft a list of connected events & people you’ve met and I’m sure you’ll be overcome with the same awe and wonder.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful tapestry He is weaving of your life. I hope you will be able to step back from time to time and see it coming together.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Are You Honoring Your Body?!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Cor 6:19-20

Are you taking care of the body God has given you? Are you honoring God with your body?

We have been given a gift and many of us are abusing that gift.

Your body is something you should love and care for and yet we are doing the opposite. Many of us hate how we look and feel. We struggle with body image. We stand in front of the mirror and a rush of negative thoughts come flooding in our minds. We expose too much and do not respect ourselves. We stuff our faces with unhealthy food that makes us feel sick. This is not what God intended when he gave us this gift.

Do you know that God sees you as fearfully and wonderfully made? He calls you beautiful and his child. We need to take a step back and look at ourselves as God does. We need to start loving ourselves and flooding our minds with positive thoughts. Once we love who we are, where we are we can honor God.

How do you honor someone?

Honor means “high respect”

Are you respecting God by treating your body, the gift God gave you which you do not deserve, with respect? Are you feeding it the proper nutrients? Are you exercising and moving to strengthen and support your muscles? Are you drinking water? Are you looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how beautiful you are?

These are ways you can show God and yourself respect. Start taking ownership of the temple God has given you here on this earth.

I am on my own journey to love and respect my body to honor God. I am learning to love myself the way I am, but to also take action to live a healthy lifestyle so that the body God has given me is in the most optimal condition. If you think about it, when you feel good and look good you tend to be more confident. You tend to step out, take risks, love others and most importantly love yourself. I am not saying you need to be skinny to be happy, you need to love yourself in your own skin and make good decisions based on what you feel God wants you to do.

This journey I am on I am not doing alone. God is with me every step of the way. He continues to tell me how important my health is and it is becoming very important to me as well. God is giving me his eyes to see myself the way he does.

I have had multiple dreams in the past month (and I don’t normally remember my dreams). In each dream I look fit, strong, and healthy. I know in my dreams this represents not only my physical health but also my spiritual and emotional health. I believe God is showing me what it looks like to be at my best. The way He created me to be- strong and confident. And in these dreams I am living out my calling as a life coach.

How are you going to honor God with your body this week?

Let’s be on this journey together!

Nikki'sBirthday-67

Quitting Too Soon?

We’ve all done it at some point. Given up on something just short of a breakthrough. Is there something difficult, but good and big in your life that you are considering walking away from?

My Pastor made a point in his Resurrection Sunday sermon last weekend that stood out to me. The story was from Luke chapter 24 about Cleopus walking back home on the road to Emmaus. He walked with another, and their heads were hung low in defeat. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus had died on a cross Friday night, and they were headed back home early on Sunday.

Jesus actually caught up to them and asked them what they were talking about. They told Jesus, whom they did not recognize, that they had seen Jesus die and they were disappointed that he was gone and that all they had believed was not true. HA! Their messiah and their hope was right there beside them, but they didn’t even recognize him!

Jesus had told them all that he would die and that he would resurrect, numerous times. Cleopus still gave up and started walking back home to his old familiar place TOO SOON! Shouldn’t he have waited around on Sunday to see Jesus resurrected as he had promised?

Cleopus gave up just short of the breakthrough and headed back to his comfort zone! Thankfully for him, Jesus pursued him on his wrong path anyway! He ALMOST MISSED the most important moment that could have ever happened to him!

Whatever you are doing in life that is worth doing and biblical – whether it be a challenging job, building and staying with a relationship, getting in shape, eating healthier – that you feel like giving up on because you are not “seeing results,” STICK WITH IT! KEEP GOING! You have been promised the results, and they will come if you keep on. They say 80% of the progress comes in the last 20% of the time spent on a project. Push forward and don’t turn back to your comfort zone and quit! As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming!”

DON’T QUIT TOO SOON OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!

runner

Are you Delighted?

delight [dih-lahyt]

1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture: 2. something that gives great pleasure:

When is the last time you were delighted? Reread the definition above and really think about that for a minute. Unfortunately it’s an emotion that may be in short supply lately.  It’s an emotion I truly didn’t enjoy very often until a toddler started calling me grandma.

There is nothing like having a little person in your life who brings joy and wonder. His enthusiasm for EVERYTHING is over the top.

And he DELIGHTS me.

“Watch dis, gramma!” “Gramma, let me show you!” “I wuv you, gramma.”

Such music to my ears.

Every time I find such joy in my little guy, God gently reminds me that he feels the same way about me. And I am amazed.

“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

“the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Rejoice over you with singing! Oh! Doesn’t that make your heart just sing?

Let’s take it a step further: If we also delight in Him, God says He will give us the desires of our hearts! What?

Just this morning, I was playing with my grandson Luca & things got really silly. Doing something as simple as throwing a ball back and forth had us in giggling fits. We were delighting in each other. And you know what? There is no desire of his heart I would withhold from him when such delight is going on.

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

God desires that two-way relationship with us. When we take delight in Him, it makes His heart sing and burst with joy. Remember, He actually rejoices over us with singing! imagine yourself as a child with a daddy who is so in love with you that he delights in every little thing you do!

Father and daughter laughing and bonding

Our lives are so filled with trouble and angst that I know it’s hard to think about taking delight in anything some days. But what if we did? Find the smallest thing to start with, and see it with new eyes. Begin to change your outlook. Take delight in God, and He will take even more delight in you. Don’t miss out on walking in that kind of freedom…

And see what happens to your life.

Broken.

God has a way of breaking you down in unexpected ways.

A few months ago I prayed for more intimacy with God and little did I know I would be stepping into one of the hardest seasons of my life.

I went into a downward spiral. I was exhausted all the time, did not feel like myself, I was unable to give to others what they needed, it was hard for me to pray for others because I felt broken inside. I was depressed.

Going through this was hard, but God was with me through it all. He provided a mentor for me whom poured into me, to help me identify the emotions I was feeling which I had never dealt with or allowed myself to feel before.

God wanted me to share my brokenness with other people and the more I did, the more I was released from the bondage I felt. The more I shared, the more I became relatable to others, the more vulnerable I became the more others opened up to me. I began to realize the more I shared my struggles, pain, and process, there have been many people around me going through the same thing. Crazy how God works in those ways!

I just met up for coffee with a friend who was going through a very similar season. I was able to sit and listen to her journey and encourage her. I spoke to her in a way I would have wanted to be spoken to. Because I had been there, she and I could go deeper and have deeper revelations for what God is doing in both of our lives.

It’s amazing to think we not only need God, but he created us to need each other. I can’t imagine going through all of this alone. I am thankful for my mentor, and the friends who walked with me through this struggle.

God broke me down and is building me back up to be stronger than ever before. In my weakness God is strong and HE makes me strong. And only because of Him I can sing and dance and be all who He has created me to be.

PRAISE HIM!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Cor 12:9-10

IMG_6960