I’m Still Learning, Leaning and Listening.

My day yesterday wasn’t truly hectic but it was fuller than most. It was filled with loads of people, lots of conversations, leaning in and listening.

  • I had a coffee date in the morning with a new friend…delightful!
  • A midday call with a dear friend about the book I’m writing…helpful!
  • Another friend phoned, so I hopped on the treadmill to walk and listen…needed.
  • My cousin texted: I do have time available if you have a hankering to chat or pray. Just let me know. I was still on the treadmill when I called her and we prayed together…grateful.

I had told my cousin, “I need to get ready soon so I can’t talk too long because I have dinner plans.” I finally just got dressed because we kept talking. So, without taking a shower I freshened up a bit and I got ready for the night out. I remained on the line the entire time, exited my home and got into the car.

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I put my AirPods in my ears because I like to be hands free and I could do all of the above mentioned things more easily.  (talk, walk, dress and drive)

I told my cousin Annie, “Alright, I’m in the car now. I need to enter the name of the restaurant in my phone and listen for the guided directions from Maps, so how ’bout you go ahead and pray first and I will chime in when you’re finished.”

“Okay, sounds good, makes sense so you can get your bearings on where you are headed.” She agreed.

I could hear Annie’s voice as she prayed, what I found interesting was, I could still hear the faint GPS voice in my ears underneath it…“In 500 feet turn right on Harris Highland. TURN RIGHT.” I turned right and continued to listen to both voices.

I prayed too and we concluded together with “Amen!” as soon as I located a parking spot and pulled into it. “Well, I’ve arrived. You have a great night, I love you, see you soon.” I placed my AirPods into their case and tucked them safely in my purse.

I got to thinking how the directions and guidance I heard during our conversation is a lot like the way it is to lean in and listen to the Holy Spirit. It was kind of fun how a “guided voice” still continued as I went into the restaurant, although my AirPods were no longer in. It was simply “the voice of the Holy Spirit” that I was aware of speaking to me.

I was delighted to see all of the couples. As each arrived, those of us present at the table stood and greeted the newly arriving members of our party.

“All rise for the honorable Cheryl!” We said as each came in one by one or in pairs.

The restaurant was filling up quickly and the noise became louder. I went over and chatted a minute with one of my friends who would not be seated next to me during the meal.

“I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever! Hey, how is that class you are teaching going?” I asked.

“I was really glad for the women who showed up,” she responded. “You could be praying for me and all the women…” I let her finish her sentence but prayed for her right then because while she said you could just pray…I heard the Holy Spirit say, pray for her right now Rachel before you go back and sit down. 

I prayed for her because I heard the Holy Spirit as clearly as I heard the guided GPS voice say: “In 500 feet turn right on Harris Highland. TURN RIGHT.” 

Then later I took a drink from my water glass and I heard, “You should go use the bathroom.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Holy Spirit but my bladder speaking. Okay, just a little humor there.

I returned to my chair and continued to enjoy such an amazing meal. It was remarkable. The presentation, the colors, the tastes and smells were completely wonderful. It was a  full sensory experience. (I only took one photo because I began to enjoy the food and conversation and lost myself in it all)

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I saw the owner of the restaurant standing against the wall. He had on a wine colored shirt and a black apron over it. He was a man of medium build and several things struck me: His dark rolled and upward turned mustache, his tattooed biceps and his intense eyes and slight smile.

He stood near the hostess station as he looked over toward all the tables, I caught his eye and waved him over to our table. Why? Because it was so fantastic and as I was chewing I heard, “Make sure you tell him how much you are enjoying your meal Rachel and do it in front of everyone.”  

He came over and I said, “I want you to know how much we are enjoying this meal, blah, blah blah…” I’m not sure what else I said, I trust the Holy Spirit on that one too.

During the meal one of my girlfriends mentioned how she can not lift her arm fully.   Somehow she’d injured her shoulder’s rotator cuff. She giggled a bit as she exclaimed, “Do you know how hard it is to shampoo your hair with one hand and how tired the arm  gets doing it? My husband had to help me get myself dressed!”

I’m sad to say I told her a story about helping someone else who was going through something similar.  YIKES! I didn’t take the time to pray for her. WHAT in the WORLD was I thinking? I know I should have done it and I can still call and pray for her or pray with her when I see her in a few days. My point is, I probably didn’t obey as quickly when I heard the Holy Spirit tell me, “Pray for Anne, speak to her shoulder.”  

You see earlier in the evening when we first greeted each other I gave her a hug and she mentioned she had to be careful because even the hug hurt. I didn’t pray then. BUT I didn’t address it, even though I’m pretty sure I heard, “Pray for Anne, speak to her shoulder.”  

So now that I’ve shared my simple dinner story, let me encourage you to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice in your own life. It won’t come from outside of you. It will be like an inner thought, just like taking directions from the GPS. Let’s keep in step with the Spirit.

You see I’m always learning, leaning and listening. The good news is He’s always speaking!

My Sheep hear my voice. John 10:27a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you SHOULD on yourself?

As soon as I made the bed today, I  heard this, I should write a blog post today. I should because I usually post on Thursdays and haven’t for awhile…should, should, should! Do you SHOULD on yourself? I’m not sure it ever helps me, but I know I do it.

It’s true, I haven’t been posting blogs with regular rhythm. I recently started a podcast that rolls out every other week and it has been my focus lately. I have loved it. That is why I haven’t been writing as often.  

Not to mention, I was on vacation and made a vow to myself, really be on vacation. No writing, no major studying, no blogging, just rest! So since I had pledged myself a break, I took it. I didn’t SHOULD on myself.

 While I vacationed on Marco Island I:

  • slept in-
  • read a book
  • walked on the beach- its so good to be outside
  • ate loads of cookies- good food for vacation mode
  • drank coffee each morning
  • took a nap on the boat- plenty of rest was needed
  • celebrated a low key Valentine’s Day with beautiful roses from my husband
  • watched the sunset
  • drove our friend’s electric car to the ice cream shop
  • traveled to restaurant via boat
  • and didn’t write for my new book or this fresh perspective blog at all.

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I didn’t should on myself while in Marco Island. Instead, I was simply present. I tried to be aware of who I was with and be fully connected during the activities and with the people. It worked! But it is a bit humorous, the “back to normal” and the “you’ve gotta get something done”  the “should” voice kicked in even before I left the island.

I had gone outside for one last walk in the warmth because I knew I was headed back to a ton of snow in Wisconsin. So I started my NIKE app which had a guided 20 minute run in cue and it started even though I don’t remember if I clicked it. I mean, I don’t normally run, like almost never, but it automatically started and so, I just ran. 

I began to listen to the voice of the trainer, “Start slow and listen to your body. Let your body get used to the sound of your breathing and your movements. Go slowly!” I just did what the coach said and ran on the last day of vacation. I was a bit shocked at myself and it felt fabulous. It was a serendipity! 

After my run I soaked up as much sun, lying on the dock, as I could for as long as I thought was feasible. I helped clean the house to leave it really nice for the incoming guests and then took a shower. I was hours ahead of schedule. But my brain was no longer on vacation mode so we filmed for an on-line course we’ve had in the works for awhile.

My point? I had quickly turned a corner and SHOULD was back. Full “work mode”  and “Get ‘er done!” crept back in. I SHOULD use this time wisely, I thought, I’m clean, dressed, have a tidy environment and I’m headed back to the real world soon. I should get this film project finished.

I was delighted to get it accomplished. It felt great to seize the moment and not have the task looming over me anymore. I was ready to tackle it because I was well rested mentally and physically, emotionally and spiritually from being on a true vacation. 

I want to encourage you to listen to the voice ” you should get something done” if you need to. Yep, GO! Do it! But I want to bring a fresh perspective with this thought, maybe you also need to pay attention to the voice letting you know… “I SHOULD rest!” If you haven’t rested in awhile,  Go! Do it. 

Consider this if you are a bit stressed, worn out or just in need of a break or vacation.

  • Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 ESV

One Scripture asks this question.. What does the LORD require of you, I’ll relate it to all the” SHOULDS” I can hear in a given day or moment.

  • But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously- take God seriously.  Micah 6:8 the Message

So, If I’m gonna should on myself, according to this, I should act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with my God.

I’d like to invite you to listen to “the real deal” podcast. I’m not going to say you SHOULD but if you want to subscribe, rate and review it. Thanks! I hope it will bless and encourage you, that’s my aim in this blog and  for “the real deal” podcast too.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-deal/id1448869614?mt=2

or find “the real deal” podcast on my website:http://rachelinouye.org

 

 

A Song of Deliverance – With Thanks and Praise

Have you ever felt like you need to be delivered from, out of, or through something? Boy, I have! Do you feel like you are in a battle? Today I was thinking about the power of a song in our battles, songs of deliverance. One individual’s song or a collection of people singing together has a profound effect of deliverance. I want to share a story from the Bible and include some links to songs. (These few songs have been instrumental in my life so I want to pass them on to you.)

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photo: Paul Alexi

Whether it’s singing around the table, a campfire or church worshipers lifting their songs to the King of kings, songs play an incredible role in deliverance. They can also play a role in fighting battles. One of my favorite accounts from scripture is found in 2 Chronicles 20: 1-30. (I used the ESV version) It’s a story about Jehoshaphat the King of Judah and his need for deliverance.

Let me briefly hit the high points of the story for you and include the verses that talk about the importance of a prayer and a song.

King Jehoshaphat is told, from a messenger, that a great multitude is coming against him for battle. HE WAS SURROUNDED:

  • He was afraid, proclaimed a fast and assembled all the people.
  • He prayed to God, declared His rule over all the kingdoms, recognized His power and might and recounted God’s history with His people.
  • Asked God to execute judgment on those coming against Judah.
  • He admitted “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Meanwhile:

  • All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
  • The Spirit of the LORD came upon this one man name Jahaziel, and he said, “Listen, all Judah and the habitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.'”

Jahaziel then runs through the battle steps that the Spirit of God had given him:

  • “‘Tomorrow go down against them. They’ll come out against you, you’ll find them at the valley.
  • You do not need to fight this battle.
  • Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, oh Judah and Jerusalem.’
  • Don’t be afraid and do not be dismayed, tomorrow go out against them and the Lord will be with you.”

Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. Then the Levites stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

Then they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said:

  • “Hear me, Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem!
  • Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets and you will succeed.”
  • and when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to SING to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army,  saying,
  • “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

HERE’S the amazing part to me…

  • When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men who had come against Judah so that they were routed.
  • The men who came out against King Jehoshaphat and Judah, then turned on one another and destroyed one another.
  • When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.
  • When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more.
  • They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much.
  • On the fourth day they assembled in the valley, for there they blessed the LORD.
  • They returned to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord has made them rejoice over their enemies..
  • They came to Jerusalem with harps and liars and trumpets, to the house of LORD.
  • And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.
  • So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
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Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

Now that’s some deliverance, right? AND they didn’t even fight…

INSTEAD: they prayed, fasted, gathered, and sang! WOW! And then…they went and gathered all the stuff – goods, clothing and precious things, which they took for themselves, from the ones who had come out against them.

Maybe you are in a situation or battle where you don’t know what to do. That’s okay, just admit it like King Jehoshaphat who said,“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Like King Jehoshaphat, do you feel surrounded?

What’s your current battle?

  • difficult diagnosis
  • marital problems
  • loss of a job
  • financial troubles
  • family strife

God can fight your battle however He chooses to do it and however He leads. We have a solid example of one method of deliverance. Let God fight our battles as we pray, worship, give thanks and SING…Songs of Deliverance.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

https://youtu.be/R4CwKroZtCI

 Fight my battles

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1WGbmFmTGlM

No longer slaves

https://youtu.be/-jjzBb0wqTg

The goodness of God

https://youtu.be/awkO61T6i0k

Raise a Hallelujah

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1WGbmFmTGlM

You are my Hiding Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Disappointment’s Trap- How to Climb out Instead of Get Stuck.

I was over the moon with excitement. I wanted to clap my hands together and shout, “That’s a wrap people!” As though I were a director on the set of a Hollywood movie or somethin’. In all actuality, I had simply finished recording the first episode of my new podcast, “the real deal.”

I was honored to have my Father, Richard as my first guest and we had concluded our time together. We had recorded something quite unique and special. I thanked my Dad and my husband took a photo of us together as a sweet memory of our time. The reason I wanted to interview my Dad for my first episode as my initial guest is because he is my hero! He more than qualifies as someone, in my book, who is the real deal.

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Yes, Richard Heggen certainly is “the real deal!”  He is so comfortable in his own skin with his life.  I love him. My Father has implored us all, my sisters and me along with our whole nuclear family to be “the real deal.” He instructed us, “Just be yourself. You are one of a kind. Nobody wants phony bologna!” He’s said, “In the art world it is called the ‘honesty of materials.'” He always emphasized to be “the ‘genuine article,’ ‘the real deal.'”

My newest venture in spreading encouragement and exhorting audiences has taken form in this new podcast, called “the real deal” with Rachel Inouye. You can probably imagine my excitement as 2019 arrived. I’m not sure if it was the next week or when it was, but my husband and I looked at the files from the recording of episode 001, only to discover there was no episode 001. It had never been saved or was deleted or some other unknown cause. Nonetheless the podcast was gone, nada, zip, zero, nothin’ honey!

I was more than disappointed. I was a bit nauseous. I told my husband before he left for work, “It’s gonna be okay, but I may cry. I’m sad. It’ll be okay, I know but I might just cry!” A moment later, I recall I said, “I’m sure we can try to re-record it somehow, it’ll be fine honey, but I may… cry.” Then, I did exactly that, I CRIED!

My disappointment stemmed from a few things:

  • The audio file was great content and it was lost!
  • I felt like I had wasted my Father’s time.
  • I thought I had wasted my husband’s time too.
  • I was hoping my husband wasn’t feeling accused at all. It wasn’t his fault. He is my forerunner and I was disappointed.
  • I wasn’t sure how or when we’d be able to record again.
  • My hope of launching a podcast was deferred.

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My Father and I don’t live in the same state. I was fortunate to have the time with him while he and my mom and sisters came for a fall visit, so we had recorded then.  I knew they were not planning a trip back anytime soon so the possibility of getting this first episode redone seemed unlikely.

I hesitated to do it, but I called my Dad on Face Time  and said, “Well,  Dad, I’ve got some bad news. Remember recording for the podcast? We don’t know what happened but there is no sound on the  audio file. Even though we had listened to it while you were here, remember how we heard parts of it? Well, anyway it’s gone. I’m so sad.”

His response was, “Well, maybe we’ll have to come back and visit you sometime and record something else instead.” As it turned out, that’s what we did. We recorded something else but not here. Instead,  while I was back in Iowa visiting we took another swing at it. While together at a family gathering, I grabbed my dad for “the real deal” interview and my husband set up a make shift studio, we settled in, tucked away in my brother-in-law’s office, we recorded “the real deal” with Rachel Inouye Episode 001.

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Here’s how I climbed out of the disappointment trap:

  • I recognized my true disappointment and I grieved.  Yes, the audio files were lost, the content was precious, but it was gone…So I cried. (I allowed myself to go there, but I didn’t stay there.)
  • I asked God to make a way to recovered or redo.
  • I prayed with a friend, she asked for “a better outcome than the first version.”
  • I let it go and moved forward.
  • I was kind to myself and my husband.
  • I looked for the positive spin on it. Is there a silver lining here?
  • I “got back on the horse” and tried it again.
  • I realized I am strong! My resolve proved I’m energized by this endeavor; I am made to do this. (Persevere )
  • I DIDN’T GET STUCK!

If you are dealing with disappointment of any kind BIG or SMALL, I hope you will bounce back or climb out of the trap too. One thing I have been challenged to declare is…There is always a solution. 

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Here’s the good news. I believe my new podcast episode 001 was meant to be and it launched on January 8, 2019 which was my Dad’s eighty-eighth birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Richard and happy birthday “the real deal” with Rachel Inouye.

Here is the link to listen to episode 001. I sure hope you are blessed by it. If you like it SUBSCRIBE and RATE and REVIEW it. Thanks. There is much more to come!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-deal/id1448869614

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Which way should I go?

I shared this phrase before, it’s the tagline from one of my talks: “Look back with gratitude look forward with faith.” This has been instrumental in my life. I have found, as I venture out into some new territory,  I can become a bit paralyzed with thoughts like, what should I do? which way should I go?

It has helped me before proceeding full force into the unknown, to look back at what God has done in my life, with gratitude, therefore I’m able to look forward in faith.

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Why has this helped me? Because I have seen His track record and I know God cannot lie, He does not change and He always keeps his promises.

Here’s a WHOPPER of a promise:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 NIV

This has truly helped me not get my undies in a bunch or adopt needless anxiety over life’s future endeavors. Even now, today as I write this post, I find myself wondering a little bit about the future. During one of my a recent posts, I wrote about the catalyst behind the podcast idea I had.

LINK for past blog

God really went before me! I see ways He has been preparing me for years. I’m happy to announce that January 8, 2019 “The Real Deal”- with Rachel Inouye launched. Eek! I m so excited about it I can hardly contain myself! I’m extremely energized by it because I’m very relational and I get to interview amazing people, share segments of my past messages which have helped to encourage and inspire others.  I plan to have a frequent guest, my girl friend, Gayle join me for “Buddy Time.”  I’m very jazzed by the thought of how God will use it and how He will direct me in and through it. I had the privilege of interviewing my father, Richard Heggen for episode 001 of “The Real Deal.” *See link below

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The Real Deal

I’m the type of person who agonizes over decisions. I wonder what I should do? Which way should I go? I have seen how God was moving me into position for this phase of my life for quite a while. So, I look back with gratitude and look forward with faith.

I get asked this question, or ones like it, quite often. What do you think I should do? It may originate from:

  • a mentee,
  • a friend
  • someone I’m ministering to in the moment

I don’t find it necessary to try to answer or solve.  Instead, I find myself just pointing the person to God and sharing this verse because it has been very helpful to me.  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

Let me ask you a question. Is there an area in your life you are wondering, what should I do? Which way should I go?  What is next?  I’ll share the promise of God with you again, but allow me to include the very next verse along with it.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Psalm 32:8,9.

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Yeah, yeah, you figured it out. The next part means we are NOT to be stubborn, like the horse or mule, when being guided by God. Oh, lordy LORD… My prayer becomes: God, please forgive me for my stubbornness from time to time. Golly, I do so want to be easily guided by you cuz I know you guide me with your loving eye on me!

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Even as I write this blog I am asking for God to guide me as I add the podcast to my regular rhythms of life.

I wonder:

  • Should I keep blogging once a week?
  • How often do I release each podcast episode?
  • Will I have the time to do all I have bit off on this year?
  • How will it work when I’m off speaking in another country?
  • Should I finish the online course I started working on?
  • If I do this, will I get my next book Waiting on Grace finished?  When will I secure an editor? Who is going to publish it? Blah, blah, blah! 

WHEN I get ahead of myself,  I simply look at the track record God and I have had.  It helps me to NOT have to breathe into a bag to prevent hyperventilating. Hahaha! I’m kidding, well mostly!  This is the moment when I remind myself, Look back with gratitude look forward with faith.” AND I clearly hear Him reassure me of His promise… I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

My only response is, “THANK YOU JESUS!”

Soooo…what decisions are you in the midst of making? Are you letting yourself go CRAZY bonkers as your thought train speeds ahead full steam into the vast unknown of the future? Well, I encourage to Look back with gratitude look forward with faith.” 

And REST in the promise of God. Look closely at it…It doesn’t say I MIGHT guide you. No, no, no, it says, I WILL instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

So press on, dear believer, knowing:

  • You’ve been given the mind of Christ.
  • He will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.
  • He will counsel you.
  • His loving eye is on you!
  • You’ve seen Him work in the past. So you can look back with gratitude.
  • He’s out in front of you.
  • You can look forward with faith!

Side note: I want to continue to exhort and encourage more and more people. God continues to enlarge my territory and he is saying, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah 54:2

Here’s the ask:

  • Will you listen to the podcast?
  • Will you subscribe?
  • Will you rate and review it? It takes seconds
  • Will you share this blog and/or “The Real Deal” podcast on social media or tell someone about it? (I do trust God but he’s asked me not to shy away from enlisting an army of His soldiers to help me in this because we are better together than alone)

I DO APPRECIATE IT!  It’s so fun to see what God has done! It makes me want to do cartwheels and hoot and holler, “Yay God!” I’m down right giddy about what 2019 holds for us all. It’s gonna be good, because God is good!

The Real Deal Podcast

What Just Happened?

As I sit here typing this blog post, I am crying a bit too. Why? Because I had almost finished it, only a few final touches to make and it would have been complete. The blog post was about looking back and seeing God’s hand in our lives, it was titled “Have You Been Carried?” It was a good one.

I like to drag the cursor over the text and have in read to me as a way of making sure it’s what I want to say. I hit a button and it was reading it all aloud perfectly. I hit something else and it kept reading, but all of the words were gone. They vanished! The screen was completely white and the bottom where the word count is kept read, 0 words!

 

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What? What just happened? I decided to go up to the upper part of the screen and hit the UNDO typing button. But still nothing came back on the screen. I lost this labor of love in one CLICK. I simply wanted to encourage you that God will carry you in the new year because I have seen how he has carried me. He doesn’t change and he can’t lie so I know he will continue to be faithful to his promise. Here is the promise…notice the, “I will” parts!

I will be your God throughout your lifetime-Until your hair is white with age. I made you, I will care for you, I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT

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He has carried me this year and he will continue until my hair is white with age. Perhaps all the things I had written were just for my own review. Here is what I suggest. Take some time, look back as you review 2018 to see the ways God has cared for you and where he had carried you and the times he has saved you. It was wonderful to see his constant hand in my life this year.

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One of my tag lines for a talk I give called “I will be your God throughout your Lifetime” is this quote: “Look back with gratitude and look forward with faith.”

So as you look back on 2018 see the ways God has surprised you, fulfilled a dream of yours, carried you and sustained you.  Based on the backward glance display gratitude and thank God now. You can look forward with faith for 2019. I declare it’s gonna be a great year!

How Good are You at Celebrating, Truly Celebrating?

WARNING this blog post comes with some soul-searching questions, so keep reading if you are up for it.

It started the way all evenings do on the evening of a Christmas party:

  • We entered the address in the GPS
  • Grabbed our hors d’oeuvres
  • Donned our coats
  • Hopped in the car.

“Yep! That’s it right there,” I alerted him.

As we walkd to the front door I implored,  “Hey, honey stop! Let me take a picture.” I said.

“It’ll be kinda dark,” he warned.

“I know, I know, but the inside is so illuminated! It’s fabulous.” Snap!  I walked toward the entrance.

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As I stepped inside,  I was enveloped by the surrounding beauty and felt the welcome of God.  What a feast for the eyes, a kaleidoscope of colors and textures.  The home was a combination of bed and breakfast meets decked out department store, with a heavy dose of gift shop filled with shimmering nostalgia.

It was a display of the glory of God! Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Colossians 3:23 Well, my sweet friend Anne decorates her house for Christmas for the glory of God, that’s for sure!

The environment was simply stunning and my senses were on overload. The first thing to capture my attention and beckon me to draw near was the heavy laden Christmas tree in the corner of the room.

There were multiple trees in the house, but this one captivated me. I stared and gawked for quite a while. How in the world does she get this whole tree decorated? It’s filled with ornaments even deep into it! Gosh! This must be quite a lengthy process. This is incredibly stunning! 

“Hey, Anne you go girl! May I take some pictures?” I inquired as I stood frozen in awe.

 

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If I had tried to capture each vignette or stunning thing I came across, I would never have joined the party. I’d still be there taking photographs. Carefully hung lit garlands topped every window and railing along with winter scenes and Christmas touches everywhere.

The feeling of welcome hung in the air the way the swags hung above the fireplace. Mulled cider was on the stove and the dining table seemed ready to receive whatever was carried in by the arriving guests.

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All I could do was toot my friend’s horn and celebrate her amazing gift of creativity and artistry. I couldn’t stop tooting her horn because I knew NOT to celebrate would be simply wrong. “This is simply amazing! Truly beautiful, Anne. I celebrate you.” I repeated. “Wow!”

Now I realize someone maybe intimidated or jealous or overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy if they were to compare this stellar gifting to their own abilities to decorate and adorn their home. I have learned how much celebrating the significance of a person and the genius of God in them helps combat any comparison or competition.

My personal mantra is, “Don’t Compare, Don’t Compete, Celebrate!” This started the “Celebrate Movement” in my life and has gained traction.  I wrote about my mantra in one of the chapters in my book, Lily Pads – Stories of God on DisplayLily Pads

Celebration then is rooted in the goodness of God and the giver of all good gifts… Him!

Celebration was my only response to the talent and artistry I embraced at the moment and continued as my friend Anne cut cheeses and carefully placed items to create a delightfully appetizing and visually stunning charcuterie board. A little more cheese sliced, some fruit peeled, some raw honey was set amongst the items and…Voilà!

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Let me turn a corner and ask you a few questions relating to the above question: How good are you at celebrating, truly celebrating?

  • Are you able to celebrate the giftings you see in another person or close friend?
  • Do you want another person to really thrive and be blessed?
  • What if the celebration is a bridal shower for a beautiful young bride to be, but  you’re single and you long to have a special someone in your life?
  • Can you celebrate and rejoice with those who are experiencing what you hoped would be your own reality, but it hasn’t turned out that way, at least not yet?
  • What if it’s a baby shower to honor the couple and the joyous occasion of a soon to arrive bundle of squishy flesh that will rock their worlds forever and bless them exponentially, but you’ve had multiple miscarriages or can’t conceive or haven’t yet? Can you still truly celebrate?
  • Can you celebrate the good that you see?
  • Do you celebrate even when that “good thing” seems to fly in your face and illuminate what you’re missing at a given moment? Or does it create a “fake celebration” in your heart and produce jealousy within you, bitterness, even anger or apathy towards God?

Let it be a visual aide of God’s goodness. Allow it to bring hope to your heart for what may lie in your future as a picture of the good things God can do and is still doing and may have in store for you. He is the good gift and the blessing given to all of us, Emmanuel God with us. That’s the point of Christmas.

How good are you a celebrating, truly celebrating?

There is a scripture, Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 Be present in life with those around you and bring your honesty to God in the moment of grief and uncertainty, but don’t get stuck in the place where you can’t celebrate the good you see in someone else’s life. Rejoice!

Celebration is an antidote to me-focused downward spiral of self-pity or any negativity creeping in and sucking the life and joy right out of you. Remember, the joy of the Lord is our strength, we can be sincerely happy for those who are experiencing the beauty of a life lived in the goodness of God’s blessings even when it is hard for us personally at the time. God is the giver of all good gifts and he knows both our needs and our hearts’ desires. He doesn’t withhold any good gifts from us.

The LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor, no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11

Celebration then is rooted in the goodness of God and the giver of all good gifts, Him! When we celebrate people, events, and good times, we are celebrating people made in the image of God whose creativity reflects their maker. Parties and celebrations testify to the goodness of God because he is the giver of all good gifts.

How good are you at celebrating, truly celebrating?

Are you stuck in the comparison trap? Do you think you have to compete with those around you for God’s attention. He is delighted with you. There is no need to have the best tree, food, clothes, possessions, gifts or blessing. Do you realize when God gives a good gift to someone else he still has a plentiful supply for you? Their portion is freely given and God does not run out! There is always more!

God lives in abundance and He will supply our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

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As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, let’s ask him to make us true celebrants of what he has done and what he has ahead for us too!

 

 

 

 

The Catalysts Along the Way.

This memory is etched in my mind even though it was many years ago. I remember where I was standing as she made a bee-line for me after one of the talks I had given at a weekend retreat.

She was probably in her mid twenties, slender frame and was dressed with unique style. Her vibrant eyes kind of bugged out. She had a funky, messy, hair style and I immediately noticed the pink little girl’s barrette which kept her bangs pulled back. Well, she’s quite spunky and is something special!

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She approached me, smiling with her phone held out in front. I don’t remember if she stated her name, but she blurted out, “Hi, okay, um, could I please have your podcast information? I’ll just enter it in my phone here. Oh! By the way, that was a great message! Um, so what’s your podcastcalled? I’d like to listen to you everyday on my commute.” She paused and was about to hand me her phone.

“Oh!” I informed her. “I don’t have a podcast, but I have some of my messages over at the product table, CD album collections. Please grab those if you’d like.” I remember this encounter for a few reasons:

  • She was adorable Such an original!
  • I felt a bit behind the times.
  • I was exhorted and encouraged by her wanting more truth than “the one and done talk.”
  • God planted a seed in my heart that would germinate from then on.

Different song same theme… Again, a few years ago, I spoke way up in northern Wisconsin, afterwards a young woman from my audience emailed me and we met for coffee.

“After that weekend, as I drove back home, I listened to every clip on your website or anything I could find on-line or get my hands on.” She continued, “You should periscope your messages and release them. I’d totally watch them all!”

I admittedly confessed, “I don’t even know what that is! So how could I do it?” She enlightened me and also suggested I do a podcast to encourage people beyond my weekend engagements. There it was again cropping up for my consideration and prayer.

Here’s one more story of the catalyst behind the podcast idea. I met with a young mama friend of mine . We stood in play area where kids get to run free and travel from room to room exploring, but importantly, can’t escape the building.

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We had fun watching her two precious little ones stand in the atmosphere of bubbly joy as the bubble machine periodically dispensed an iridescent bubbles for kids to watch, pop or lick.  She fed them a snack and caught me up on her life.

“I’ve been enjoying podcasts.” She told me one she enjoys. “You know, every time I listen to it, I think of you. You should do a podcast. While I’ve listened I think of texting you to encourage you to do one. There are plenty of young moms who love being at home with kids but want to experience adult conversation a podcast gives them the ability to listen to dialogue and interviews or just simply to be encouraged during their long days. Rachel, you really should do it! I’ll pray for you about it. Okay?”

I’ve seen God moving in this area propelling me forward. I am simply connecting the dots along the way. There hasn’t been a voice from the clouds proclaiming, “RACHEL DO THIS!” But I feel like I am connecting dots as he leads me.  Let me share one promise of God with you: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

I think God has been leading me in this whole thing. I love to edify, encourage, challenge, motivate, comfort, inspire, break down barriers and bring hope as I communicate. This is just another way to do those things.

Yes, it’s a new thing I’ve been exploring and Lord willing will launch in January. Yay! I’m so excited and curious and on a definite learning curve as to the process, but I trust God will order my steps. He is faithful!

I have AMAZING people all around me who have been through so many life experiences too. I want to interview some of my friends and my life with the listening world.  The format will be a rotation of sorts:

  • interviews with amazing, vulnerable, real people
  • releasing portions of talks I’ve given with some added thoughts as well
  • “Buddy Time” will be part of the rhythm of the podcast with my dear friend Gayle Novak. I’m really excited about the authentic laughter and joy God dumps on us when we are together. It’s gonna be good!

I’ve been doing these tiny little schooches along the way toward the goal of getting this podcast launched in 2019.

What are the ways God has been leading you lately? He goes before you and is your rear guard. He will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. Remember He will counsel you with His loving eye on you. He loves you so much.

Let me encourage you to do your thing!

Along your journey, pay attention to:

  • the catalysts that effect you.
  • what’s life- giving to you
  • the promptings of the Holy Spirit
  • feedback and encouragement you receive

As you can tell from this blog post,it took years for this podcast idea to gain traction and come to fruition. It has been percolating for quite a while in my mind and heart. Now, however, I’m kind of like a tea kettle that has been heating up over time and I’m ready to blow!

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What are You Waiting for?

I had put it off for weeks or maybe months, I wasn’t overly concerned but had one thing I was thinking should just be checked out. One evening, at prayer group, a health related prayer request of mine led me to blurt out,” Yeah, I am due for an annual check up.”

“So… Rachel when do you want to have made the call by, like next week? “One of the guys asked.

I fired back, “Sure! Next week is fine.”

Accountability is quite powerful. I knew I was going to be asked, “Did you make that doctor’s appointment?’

A definition for accountability immediately came to my mind:  ACCOUNTABILITY-  “account for abilities”  

Rachel, what are you waiting for?  You are able to make an appointment!  My thoughts spurred me on. So I made it the next day. BOOM,BOOM, BOOM!

  • I gladly sent prayer group this text  FYI…Just made an appointment for my full physical!
  • I had the blood work done a few days ago.
  • Although I am not a doctor, I read the results.
  • Today was the day for my physical.

 

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After my name was called the nurse introduced herself and said, “Follow me this way, please.” Then she stopped and said, “I’ll have you step up on the scale to get your weight.”

“Okay, let me take off my coat and boots first. As I unzipped my boots I began to laugh. I said, “I’m chuckling because my husband likes to take off as much as possible when he weighs in.”

To which the nurse commented then inquired,  “I think I know him! Does he take like his pants off and everything?”

“No, no, no… I just meant that he removes his boots and watch and any coins in his pockets too.”

We did all the regular health history stuff and updates to the chart information.

“Oops! I didn’t check your height. Sorry! Let’s do that now!”

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“Five foot two…aaand a half!” as she announced it I felt like doing a cart-wheel because at least I’m not shrinking .

The whole physical went really well in fact, when my doctor was going through my blood work results, she exclaimed, “These numbers are incredible!” As she finished she headed me a printed copy and said, “You should frame this paper when you get home!” She spoke through her giggle, “Girl, you should have some cheesecake!”

As I exited she said, “All really looks good, just remember to make your mammogram appointment.” Oh, boy! Here we go again. 

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I took this photo thinking, Well, that’s behind me and it was a great visit!

So let me ask you…What are you waiting for? Is there something you are putting off?

  • Could you clear away distractions and make a forward step now or in the morning?
  • Could you invite someone to hold you accountable?
  • What is one little step you could make today? (Habakkuk 2:2 “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it…”)

Remember the answer to this question, “What is the best way to eat an elephant?” answer. “One bite at a time.”

If I’m being honest with you I still have many things that need forward momentum applied to them:

  •  Steps I need to be taken to make a manuscript a published book.
  • I have loose ends which must be tied up before I can launch a podcast.
  • I have videos that need to be worked on for an on-line course.
  • I have Christmas presents to wrap.
  • YES THE LIST GOES ON!

But let me encourage you to get the ball rolling. Overcoming inertia is the hardest part. Once we get started it’s so much easier.  So let’s be encouraged together! God is working in advance and he goes before us in the things we are to do. (one of my recent blogs was about this.)

Oh, and know this, I am  very happy to report,  I have already made my mammogram appointment for early January.

 

 

Down, not Out! But handle with Care!

It was truly personality altering to be out and about with my family last week and not speak!  My sister Sharon kept saying, “I must admit it’s really odd not having Rachel talk at all!” It’s true, I was on complete vocal rest until my speaking engagement at 5:30.

All day I wrote on small pieces of paper. “Be sure to use the backs of these papers too, Rach” My sister Barb instructed.

While out and about we went to a few stores and restaurants, I typed into my phone, then held my phone out so the clerk was forced to read it: “Hi, I’m trying not to use my voice today! SO…I’d like to order the beet salad, no cheese!” This method worked like a charm!

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I know how to protect my voice and I recognize when to plug my phone in because it reads “low battery.” Whereas people don’t come with a low battery warning nor can we always discern from the outside the condition of a person’s heart.  So we must handle with care.

I haven’t really felt up to my normal walking each day but I decorated my tree already. Don’t judge! It’s when I had the help of my husband and while I was house bound. As I unwrapped the ornaments and carefully placed them on the Christmas tree, I thought, Christmas is just around the corner. WOW! Another year coming to a close.

I do love Christmas time and I really love my tree because I like to sit up in the loft area with the tree lights on and sip on a cup of tea. I had a photo taken by my tree last year. A sweet friend and beautiful young photographer took it. I visited with her in my loft and we hung out. She had come straight from a photo shoot of a family in our neighborhood.

Anyway,  as we caught up on life, her face altered a moment, she stopped her comments and the conversation abruptly, “Hang on a second, I’ll be right back, you just hold still.” She then stood up. “Stay exactly the way you are! I want to grab my camera out of my bag on your kitchen counter.” She was back in a JIFFY! She lovingly instructed, “Just tell me a bit more about what your day was like, I’m listening. Keep talking!”

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She snapped a few photos and this is one of my favorites, not because it’s great of me. I mean, it’s okay, but because of the Christmas memory of tea time with a friend that is attached to it. I was listening to her and she was listening to me, until she bolted out of the room, of course. It was a treasured time together.

Do you have people in your lives that look at their phone when you are talking to them or look past you instead of giving you eye contact? It’s like they’re on the look out for someone else instead of being present? This Christmas tree and tea moment wasn’t at all like that, completely the opposite I assure you. She handled me with care. I hope I  handled her with care too.

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I love to sit beside the tree. Today as I sit here a great sadness wanted to sneak up and grab me. I don’t know whether it’s the sickness, being worn out, missing loved ones or what? Maybe its all of the above, the good ole’ SUPER-SIZED combo!

But I’ve been praying for those whom the Christmas season can be rough. I reached down and located some promise cards with verses on them. I like to steep myself in the word of God the way a tea bag steeps in hot water. Let me share a few promises with you from those which settled my ruffled heart today:

  • God will fight for you:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4

  • God will give you strength:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28-29

  • God is slow to anger:

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 

  • God is faithful to all His promises:

What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. Isaiah 46:11b

  • God will not withhold any good thing:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11

I hope these few promises help you.

Just one more piece of my heart to share here. It is unsolicited advice. Be kind. In this holiday season it seems natural and even common advice, but I mean it.  Just be kind.

Understand that some may be hurting in ways that you can’t perceive from the outside. Remember you can’t see the low battery warning across anyone’s forehead nor are you able to carry the right stethoscope to hear the ache within their heart.

But the Spirit can help you with this so choose to be kind and be aware of others.  Who knows, perhaps you’ll be able to encourage someone with one of the promises of God listed above. My prayer for you and for those around you this season is that you will experience the God who increases the power of the weak.

Even if you/they seem down… you/they are NOT OUT! But remember, Handle with care!