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!

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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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

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.