It’s the Little Things

You know how it can be the little things that tick you off, tip you over, rob your peace, or frustrate you, spoil your mood, the moment or the day? I mean it can be the tiniest thing sometimes, right? But what if that’s not really the best way to live. What if there is another option out there… What if those things weren’t allowed into our life or when they do make their entrance we get after them licklity-split, pronto, right away!

Scripture says in Song of Songs, Oh catch for us thee little foxes for it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. If a little fox is allowed in the vineyard and he even nibbles a bit on the vines it can have a great impact, a devastating one.

You see if the little foxes come in…Somethin’ dies. Because when the little foxes eat the vine or even nibble at it for awhile there will be no grapes in the vineyard, there will be no profit and there will also be no wine produced.

I’d like to present this fresh thought today. How ’bout we ask God to help us FLIP THE SCRIPT, let’s catch the little foxes but instead let different little things have great impact and delight your heart. I like to call it “the treasure hunt with God.” The small little things that are all over all the time every day if we have vision to see them. Do you see them?

If we slow down and hunt for them with expectancy, we will find them and won’t be concentrating on any little annoyances because our vision is dialed into and focused on other good little things instead. Do you see them? They really are all around you. It is the little things that could go unnoticed but don’t need to if we are tuned into the winks and kisses of God’s goodness and grace in our everyday lives. I want to highlight just a few examples.

Sometimes it is as simple as:

  • a flower in bloom
  • a sunset at night
  • a call from a friend or relative
  • a new friend who gives a gift
  • getting to be with someone you love or admire
  • meeting an interesting or intriguing individual
  • being reunited with friends
  • delighting in a good meal or food your enjoy.

This sight grabbed my attention. These flowers were in bloom in my yard when I returned from ten days of being away.

This was a WOW moment for me. A wink from God the master painter!

This beauty, whom I had met days earlier, made these new earrings for me.

I adore my friend and mentor Jill Briscoe and we were ministering separately, but at the same location. A little serendipity for sure!

I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Walk over and see what she’s up to.” ( I’m so glad I did! ) I will write a blog about this wonderful woman Janice.

We met years ago, maybe five, and there is a beautiful connection along with respect and love and a huge dose of laughter thrown in as well. Being reunited in heart and in ministry was fabulous for me last week at Forest Springs Camp and Conference Center during their “Ladies Day” event.

A friend’s fresh produce from her garden made for a wonderfully yummy lunch for me it was a delight to the eyes and taste buds too. God gives us al things to enjoy.

So let’s catch the little foxes before they spoil the vine and instead let’s hunt for a see more readily all the little things which are simple blessings and allow these little things to build up and then let’s give Him thanks.

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No Ordinary Week

It has been a really rich and full week.

One filled with multiple and unusual experiences. I’m amazed how greatly a change of venue brings a fresh perspective for every day life. Yep, I know, that’s the overall title of my blog.

Maybe I should write about:

• The joy and excitement that bubbled up in me at the start of this season of ministry. Percolated

• The four dear, gifted members of the worship team who crushed it and ushered us into the presence of God without distraction during each session of the women’s retreat. Needed

• The freedom women found in declaring the truth of God’s word over their identity, purpose, future and lives. Wonderful

• The dramatic difference and change of countenance I witnessed as one woman was freed of a weighty burden of lies she’d carried for over fifty years. Exhilarating

• The mid-summer storm that BLEW through at speeds unprecedented and uprooted hundreds of trees and left roads blocked and loads of work for teams, men and machines in its wake. Overwhelming

• What a serendipity it was to eat with believers for a pizza supper in the cool basement and gather for worship and instruction from the book of Isaiah in a small country church. Rare.

• The joy it is to have my hubby join me in the middle of a ministry stretch and travel together to the destinations. Such fun, he’s my guy!

• The peace that comes to the soul while out in nature without a schedule. Tranquility

• The delight I had as I walked four miles with an amazing young Mama. A true go-getter whose daily life is so different from mine. Reflecting and refreshing

• The rain that poured down from the heavens and pelted the roof of my cabin in the woods which surprisingly made for a beautiful lullaby as I drifted off to sleep. Soothing!

• The thrill I gained from climbing the rock wall like a frog and ringing the bell at the top. Satisfying!

• The kind hospitality of a friend made way for a special meal and an evening spent with an adorable couple with three active boys who rode in on four wheelers and consumed more spaghetti and eggplant parmigiana than I thought possible for children under six. Investment and delight!

• The laughter I had when I offered to help make the dressing for the salad. I almost used a glass bottle of yellow liquid dish soap sitting near the balsamic vinegar, thinking it was oil, to top the salad. Relief!

I guess I chose not to write in depth about any of these things but felt it was important to include them all. With even a cursory glance you can see it was no ordinary week. It was touched by the God who knows me! I’m His daughter who loves people and new experiences. So He delighted to give me both! I’m grateful.

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Trash or a Treasure?

She was crouched down, low to the ground, her index finger and thumb made her own set of human tweezers as she searched through the pile on the dirty concrete floor. Her hair hung from her head as she carefully examined the small areas where paper clippings and other craft supplies had fallen to the ground. She was a tiny but very determined “treasure hunter.”

Earlier we had completed a craft project that included gluing little round gem stones on top of a hand painted box. The young people in the program were allowed to select 7 gems each. (I can’t really remember the number each child could grab) We brought plastic bags from America full of craft gem stones…ruby-red, sapphire-blue, emerald-green, topaz-yellow and clear ones glistened like diamonds. They loved these special gems. Even the boys in the group were excited about this craft project and topping the box with colorful eye-catching gems was the icing on the cake so to speak.

Let me give a bit of the back story. We were in Guatemala City working along side a ministry called Potter’s House. The staff at Potter’s House tirelessly love and serve these kids whom they refer to as “TREASURES.” We were volunteers who provided/staffed a time away at CAMP for some children from the community. It was an amazing experience!

So I was about to sweep the floor as it was clean up time and we would soon be headed outside for games. That’s when I saw her, this precious small black eyed beauty low to the ground. She smiled as she saved a few fallen gems from being thrown into the trash and carefully placed them securely in her dusty cupped hand.

I held a dustpan in my left hand, ready to seep up the trash with the right when I heard in my spirit, she’s My treasure and she is looking for treasure too. Let me ask, do you know what a treasure you are? God got my attention that day in Guatemala as I heard him ask the question.

So I’ll ask you the same thing-Do you know what a treasure you are?

I read an article, years ago that stated we are doing people a disservice telling them that they are special. I couldn’t disagree more. I believe God made people on purpose for a purpose and He sees each one of us as His very own masterpiece- His TREASURE.

While at “CAMP” that summer in Guatemala each child got their photograph taken so that it could be glued inside the lid of the craft treasure box when opened. My hope is even today those children remember they are truly treasures. I really have no idea exactly what those kids lives are like.

I have no idea what your life is like either. I don’t know whether you think of yourself as TRASH or TREASURE. But it doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what God says. He says you are a masterpiece. His poem, his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.

I agree with God.

Say these things aloud…declare them. Allow your ears to hear what your mouth is proclaiming. This can unlock something inside you. It may also unlock and open something else…perhaps you’ll see your face, like the small glued photo, inside on the lid of God’s treasure box, filled with real gems.

Come on, let it out. Let me hear you, now!

  • I am a special treasure, one the world needs to see on display.
  • I shine like the stars in the universe as I hold out the light of life.
  • I am an unstoppable force– God’s power is in me.
  • I have been made on purpose for a purpose!
  • I am God’s masterpiece!

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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Guatemala City Dump- most of the children live nearby and their parents work there.
Treasures each one!

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https://www.amazon.com/Lily-Pads-Life-Stories-Display/dp/153366434X#immersive-view_1514758188298
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What Robs Your Joy?

I received a text which read,  “Hey there, are you super busy?”

I shot back … “Nope! I’m home. I can call you as I take a walk soon. Or call me when you’re free.”

I didn’t hear from her so I decided to call her as I tied my shoe laces and headed out on my daily walk.

“Hello,” She cheerfully answered.

I asked. “Hey, what’s up friend?”

“Aw, thanks for calling me. I just needed someone to listen and I thought, I’ll call Rachel.

She filled me in on ALL the things that had blasted her already that morning:

  • Financial stressors
  • Parental dilemmas
  • Career questions
  • A health concern
  • Potential problems with a pet
  • A packed schedule

Here’s the kicker… All of these things came on the heels of recent information which caused an earthquake in her family’s life. I mean an earthquake of seismic proportions. Hard news to swallow and painfully difficult steps to walk through had plopped into her lap just a week prior.

I listened while she explained what was goin’ on.  I heard her giggle from time to time as she explained her situation. She maintained clarity and an awareness of her situation. She verbally processed, “I know this is a mixture of just normal life junk and the enemy attacks. But I’m thinking, ‘do you KNOW how big my God is?‘ Oh, the devil is not going to win.”

She did not whine. She simply assessed and moved forward.  As I gathered info, I realized none of this was allowed to rob her joy.

She paused after she had explained in some detail all the traumatic stuff she was dealing with and handling. So I chimed in…”Let me ask you this, do you even know what an overcomer you are? Seriously, think of all that’s been thrown at you! None of it has robbed you of your joy. I’m sorry to laugh, but it’s laughable, right? You are amazing friend, Christ is strengthening you in the middle of the mess.”

I reminded her of one of my favorite quotes, “You know what Graham Cooke says, ‘If you are in Christ so are all your circumstances.'”

Think of the great strength inside of her. In the midst of the battle, she’s not being taken out. Wow! She is strong!

Let me turn a corner here…let’s consider some things about joy.

  • Joy is found in His presence
  • Because God is with us and we set him before us always – we will make it – we will not be shaken

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more. Psalm 16:11

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but how you were facing it is more important than what you are facing.

Our response to our problem is more important than our problem. My prayer is that you would be surrounded and God would be the shield around you and the lifter of your head. And in that place of utter peace, nothing would rob your joy.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Remain, abide, stay in Him. Because in His presence there is fullness of joy! And the JOY of the Lord is your strength.

I’m rooting for you the same way I supported my friend the other day. You’ve got this! Because God’s got this and He’s with you.

 

 

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A Good Recipe of Intentionality, Vulnerability, Longevity and the X Factor!

I recently experienced time with my “Cabin Family. ”  Once a year, sometimes twice, we carve out time for this treasured week up north in Minnesota. We are just four families, but the group has grown over the twenty years as some of our children have married, others are dating and some now have children.

These folks are the ones I call, “Lifers” you know the ones you are sure will be with you for a life time. In my book Lily PadsStories of God on Display, I write a chapter on relationships/friendship and it talked about a phrase which impacted me. “People come into your life for a reason a season or a lifetime.” Yep! These are some of my “lifers.” As I returned home I was both reflective and thankful for these relationships and the support system they have been for me.

I told my cousin one of the main things that has held this group together is the love of God and His son Jesus. He’s been the central figure and the “X factor.”

“And He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Yes, for sure Christ is our glue! He is why our friendships formed in the first place and He is what has held us together through all the good and bad seasons.

I posted a few photos on social media and later I had a conversation with my cousin. I told her, other than the Jesus factor, a few things have had to be present as well. These are: intentionality, vulnerability and longevity.

She and I often talk for long conversations about anything and everything. Seriously, no stone unturned…so as we dialogued about having a support system, I knew the “cabin family” fit into the description.

She said, “I looked up some definitions and was thinking about things along this line.” I later asked, “Hey, send me some of what we talked about and I’ll include it in my next blog, I’ll be sure to mention you?”

“Rachel, I don’t need you to mention me or my blog, Who I Am!  Just use whatever you want.”

My cousin Annie, is an incredible woman with many giftings, one being administrative abilities and a heart to “get-er-done!” So…

Not too long after, I received an email. I’ll include it here:

I’m just going to type out what’s going through my head and heart. It’s just based on what Holy Spirit walked through with me this morning.

I was thinking about the support systems that people may or may not have surrounding them. A support system is a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support. In going further into the word “network,” it is a group of interconnected people. With that in mind, interconnected means that ALL parts are linked or connected.
 
After processing through the basic definitions, I drew the conclusion that for anyone to have a support system, the connection must go in both directions. Any healthy relationship is not a one way street and there must be relationship at the foundation of a support system. It needs to be intentional and it needs to stand the test of time, in order for the affect of a support system to withstand the purpose behind it.

Additionally, a support system needs to be both word and deed. If someone is only talking support, it will just create lip service. If they are only walking something out, but not speaking into your life, it will begin to look like control.

Depending on what your journey looks like and who you have in your corner, your support system may look very different from that of others.

Some people may need that friend that they can reach out to on occasion, while other people may need those that are willing to hold you up while you walk through the toughest parts of life.

As a friend, we have the obligation to not only learn what others need, but how to best support them. Everyone’s needs are as individual as they are. Always try to be the friend to others, that you would want to have present in your life.

Rach, Feel free to do your thing…😉😘

This year, at the cabin, I was asked to do a devotional with our group. Our friend Scott said, “Will you share something again this year? Speak on whatever’s on your heart.”

I talked about building/sustaining a culture of honor. I would be remiss not to mention that honoring the person who is in front of you is a huge way to honor God in whose image they are made. I believe this also is an ingredient in the “Cabin Family” special recipe. I believe honor will have to be another topic for another post, but know this, I honor each of the people you see in these photos not for what they do, but for who they are.

I thank God for all of my family and friends, but I wanted to highlight this particular support system. “The Cabin Family” through intentionality, vulnerability, longevity and, of course, the X factor, I have much to treasure here… it’s a good recipe!

photo credit for all above photos Janelle Elise Photography.  janelleelise.com

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My cousin, Annie was my guest interviewed on episode 15 of “the real deal” listen to her story here:

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Read about the chapter I mentioned in Lily Pads:

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Invite me to speak.

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Just Step Forward!

Maybe you heard the familiar phrase God doesn’t call the equipped, God equips the called. Or at least I think that’s the way it goes. Anyway, I am here to testify that if God is leading you to do something and you step forward He will provide and equip you along the way. So, what am I talking about? My recent time spent in Pennsylvania, for Global Awakenings Summer Intensive. God knows that I like adventure and for something to be familiar.(Sounds like a contradiction but it’s not, hang with me.)

I have only spoken in Pennsylvania one time, but I collected a friend and prayer partner from the church where I had the engagement. We’ve been in touch for about five years. So one day while seated on the couch in my upstairs loft, I clicked on Instagram to find out more about this summer intensive. Much to my surprise and delight, it was held in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The only place in Pennsylvania I have ever spoken. I actually laughed out loud. Oh my goodness that is where my friend Lisa lives! She and I have been trying to figure out how to spend more time together. So I texted her and a mutual friend to see if they would be available if I were to come visit. Both of them cleared their calendars and said they would be available for the three weeks in June. One of the BIG needs I would have was immediately taken care of. Where would I stay?  I could stay with them. So here are some of the obvious steps and ways it worked out:

  • apply and get accepted, 
  • pay the application fee
  • pay the tuition
  • find housing, 
  • secure a car, 
  • book flights, 
  • find someone to pick me up at the airport, 
  • find someone to return me to the airport for the flight home, 
  • meet with my two sister-in-laws,

Another interesting point is that I have a friend who is taking classes online through the same organization, Global Awakening. I however, am so relational that I wanted to be in person in the class, on campus. This was the perfect fit for me. God knows who I am, someone who likes adventure with a mix of familiar.

So, next time I think about stepping forward I will rely on the verse from Proverbs: “the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” Boy, oh boy! I saw how God ordered my steps so clearly. Every need I had was met every question I had was answered and the desires of my heart were met exceedingly and abundantly far beyond all I could’ve asked or imagined.

Here are a few pictures of my greeting committee to pick me up at the airport.  My dear friends Lisa and Tabitha. 

My host family on Father’s Day
I did get to have some time spent in Gettysburg with my sister-in-law.
Some of my classmates that I met from around the world while I was attending GSI 2019 as we were about minister on the streets.

I sure hope I will always remember the ways in which God clearly provided and equipped me. I think God does equip the called and provides abundantly for them. So…Just step forward! 

Yes, I cried a bit.

As I left my house early in the morning to get to the airport on time I realized I was crying a bit. I was headed to Pennsylvania for a three week summer intensive with Global Awakening. Like a child who goes off to the university and leaves home knowing they will never be the same when they return, I too knew I was about to experience something beautiful and life- changing.

I’m still processing my time away. I think too often we just hit the ground running and never look back or let things sink in…at least that can easily happen to me. I hoped writing this post would provide reflection for me and gratitude to God for all He has done. These photos give a cursory glance of my time at GSI.

Some of my outreach group “Team John” members hitting the streets, we quickly became friends and were unified.
God even knows to have me stand by, this gem, in line on orientation day.
My heart was so full and blessed to meet exceptional “younger ones” on fire for God and desiring the MORE of Him.

We put our learning into practice.

The goodness of God was met with BOLDNESS to cross over “the chicken-line” and minister on the streets. WOW! We saw God come through in big ways.
“Oh, how HE loves us so!”
Hard to explain the joy of the LORD to observers…But it makes the passage in the Bible from the book of Acts, where people thought the disciples were drunk more real.
The variety and excellence of the speakers and teachers we were exposed to over the three weeks was impressive. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant.
Outreach days was a chance to see the fire of God touch people.
Oh, such fun…we got to bless ONE man, then TWO, then the WHOLE fire department!
God is a better door opener than you can imagine. His Spirit leads the way!
Largest class of Global Summer Intensive Students. (150 students GSI 2019)
I’m usually on the other side of the desks…It’s been so long since I was in class and submitting assignments, but I did it!

I watched God provide for me in unbelievable, specific ways! It is all a story for another blog post. On the final day, I headed to “my” car, which was an amazing provision of the Lord via dear friends, I cried a bit. Why? Well, I’m still processing.

I cried partly because I was sad to leave the waters I had been swimming in. It was the perfect temperature for me. I was aware that I was leaving my new friends, also my tears were of gratitude and joy because I was leaving a TRIBE of amazing world-changers who had been encountering the same things I had.

We’d all received so much from the Holy Spirit in His kindness, and through His touch. I also cried because I knew I wouldn’t see many of them again and my heart needed to release them and my tears. So yes, I cried a bit..

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.http://rachelinouye.org Lily Pads is a great summer read. Order today!

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Just Let Her Know

I gladly entered it in my phone’s calendar. Both time and place were decided and I was really looking forward to my coffee date with a friend. The day of our meeting I was still jazzed to be together, but I was actually leaving my house at the time I should have already arrived. I’m sure that NEVER happens to you, or does it?

aged alarm clock antique background
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

Well, I’m just being real… I knew my friend Anne would give me grace. She’s the type to be more excited about our time together, even though a few minutes delayed, then to have me show up promptly, yet be stressed out and feel condemnation. I appreciate that about her!

Still, out of love and honor for her, I texted a brief message to let her know I was running late. I knew I shouldn’t text and drive, especially in my stick shift car, so I chose the alternative, to voice text her and let her know, I was on my way.

The whole voice texting process was such a debacle. All I was TRYING TO DO was alert my friend, I’m running late, I’ll be there soon… But that’s NOT what I communicated at all.

Photo by Raduz on Pexels.com

I shifted into third gear, spoke into the phone and tried again. I slightly modified the message a bit: “It’s now already 11:00, but I’m on my way… see you soon!”

This time I requested be read back to me it said: “LOVE, It’s O’Clock see you tonight!”

I thought… What? No, no, no she’ll think I thought our meeting was for tonight! I can’t send it. CANCEL message

I sent another message… I said, It’s already eleven, on my way see you soon!

YIKES! But this time the text read back as, “It’s now already seven, on my way! Save me some!“

I cried aloud through a frustrated laugh, No, no, no! She’ll think I want to order something and she is supposed to SAVE me SOME of it! But she won’t know what I want to order!

Finally, I sent a VERY simple text.

When this fiasco happened, I got to thinking about communication, more specifically, miscommunication. I’ll admit, I was a bit frustrated at first because I was late and I was driving and was trying to get my actual meaning across before I arrived.

Then, a moment later, it brought me a lot of joy and laughter. I laughed at myself and also giggled at how convoluted the whole communication debacle became. I couldn’t wait to tell Anne about it, and I did. We had a good time over it!

Other than letting you know there is great freedom in not taking yourself too seriously or being too hard on yourself, here’s my cursory take-away.

  • Never let someone else do the talking for you.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. (This one has bit me in the butt before.)
  • If it’s communication talking to God, called prayer just straight up tell Him honestly what you want to say, how you are feeling and then let the Holy Spirit make groans for you! He’ll do the interceding before God, along with Jesus who ever lives to intercede for us. I’m so thankful there isn’t the whole get it perfect or He’ll be confused part. He knows us. He made us. He knows our intentions, desires and motives better than we know our own.
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Here are a few scriptures for you to consider related to being known and making our requests known to Him:

  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
  • Search me, God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there’s any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23, 24
  • “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm5:3NIV
people girl design happy
Photo by Bess Hamiti on Pexels.com

If the communication involves your children this is my go to verse:

  • “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner.” Lamentations2:19NIV




I hope this silly texting miscommunication story helps you and encourages you too. No matter what you are going through, know that God cares and he get your messages. my advice, no matter what you are going through, just let Him know.

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Lily Pads by Rachel Inouye available on Amazon and audible

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