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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Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

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.

 

 

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!

What do you do when your plans don’t work out?

Have you heard the phrase or idiom “throw a wrench in the works?”  its meaning is as if you were to throw a wrench into the spokes of a bicycle or into machinery which would stop the engine immediately.

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I had a wrench in the works of my plan today.  My plan clearly did NOT work out. So let me ask, what do you do when your plans don’t work out? Let me tell you some helpful things I’ve practiced when my plan goes awry. First let me share a bit of the story of this morning.

May I back up a tad bit more? Yesterday I spoke at a mom’s meeting at a church and I felt the Holy Spirit allowed me to be used and we crushed it! As soon as I stepped off the stage it felt like someone grabbed me by the throat like a choke hold. I was to have a meeting after the main session and I noticed my voice was acting up during it.

It was touch and go all day too. I knew I needed to speak this morning again so I was disappointed when I awoke and my voice wasn’t any better. I could whisper but not speak. My husband comforted, “You’ll be fine.” Then asked, “You’ll be miked, right?”

I headed out, tea with lemon and honey in hand and drove to the speaking engagement. I made it just in time to meet a friend, Jodi and her daughter who were my assistants for the morning.

I greeted her in the parking lot, when she heard my whisper she said, “Oh, no!” and prayed for me right then and there. I warned her a bit jokingly through a gravel-like whisper, “Well, I wrote a blog a few weeks ago on the same topic, so if all else fails, maybe you’ll just read it to them.” I suggested.

I greeted the mentor moms with a smile. No words. I drew closer to them and tried to talk. I thought, Oh, golly Rachel this is like:

  • trying to give a power point presentation without a computer.
  • being hired to sing and play the guitar but forgetting your instrument.
  • signing up to provide the treats and forgetting the food.
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The morning progressed with a few more wrenches in the works:

  • wireless microphone wouldn’t work
  • handheld microphone was gone.
  • all of the staff members were out of the building on a retreat
  • precious volunteer didn’t want to move us to another location as the sound board is very complex in that auditorium

As we waited to see if we could get all the different microphones figured out the women watched a video of mine on my youtube channel. (LINK INCLUDED BELOW.) They all really liked it and it warmed them up as they laughed and cried tears of joy.

See I didn’t plan it, but it ended up to be a really positive thing. It wasn’t just because we were stalling but I had a purpose in the morning. We learned all the microphones had been used the evening before and none of them were connected to the power source.

So without the ability to be amplified, we drew them all in real close and I spoke in the middle of them with only a whisper.  I gave them my best. I shared my heart with them.

I said, “Now, I’d like Jodi to read one of my blog posts from a few weeks ago.” She read it beautifully and it tied into what I’d already said.  Good news is they heard an example of one of my blog posts which ended up being serendipitous because perhaps some might subscribe. Yay God! I’m all about spreading encouragement!

The coordinator told me, “Rachel, you were so calm and collected through all the confusion, hurdles and roadblocks this morning. Man, none of our plans seemed to work out, but you really rolled with it!”

Long ago, I used to lead worship on Tuesday mornings, I received “The Flexible” award from the women’s ministry team. So let me just ask again, what do you do when your plans don’t work out?

Here’s a few of my suggestions:

  • Breathe
  • Pray
  • Course correct quickly
  • Adapt to the new plan
  • Recognize God is in charge and has a good plan
  • Go with it & get the best out of it as it unfolds
  • Embrace the results

This morning I whispered one final comment to the audience of women. “God has been teaching me to lean in to Him as I “wait” on Him. The word picture for wait is one of a listener leaning in like when someone is whispering.

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Isn’t that fitting? It became clear to me as I watched those precious women lean in to every word I was saying. I praise God he has a way of getting said what he wants said. One of the young moms came up to me and said, “I can’t stay because I have to run to pick up my son, but I wanted to be sure to let you know that was completely amazing! Really… just amazing!

My reply was simply whispered, “Thank you!”

Then, in my spirit I hurried to Him with the love note. Thanks for this God, glory to your great name.

Here’s the YOUTUBE LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liPNH6L-xDE&t=642s

 

What’s Your Purpose or Mission in Life?

I scooted out to my car, ohgood it’s only sprinkling. You lead tonight’s study so you need to be on time. As I drove to church at dusk I thought, it’s going to be good to see each other, a nice night of Bible Study. Little did I know, it would be a night my passions would be both fueled and satiated.

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Passions? What am I passionate about? Break-through in any form.  I love to help break down barriers that impede the path to God. I get a fire in my belly and a rise in my spirit when there’s an oportunity to tear down what prevents us from seeing God or ourselves clearly.

When a person steps into who God has made them to be, they become transformed and unleashed. Once they embrace their significance it helps unlock the door to their mission and their life’s purpose becomes clearer. It’s so exciting.

I believe, WE WERE MADE ON PURPOSE FOR A PURPOSE!

Back to the Bible Study on “MISSION.” We caught up a bit, then recited our memory verse.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

One translation reads: WORKMANSHIP = POEM.

Stop and let that truth sink in. You are God’s poem. His beautiful handwritten poem. He is the master creator. You are His masterpiece and he doesn’t make junk. He wants you to be you! He has prepared in advance the things you are to do.

Here’s a way I think about God’s preparation in life. Long ago when our kids were small, if I asked my husband to give our child or the new baby a bath he’d willingly do it. He was very helpful.

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Here’s the thing, prior to requesting his help I had:

  • Run the bath water
  • Set out the baby shampoo
  • gathered the towel
  • laid out the new diaper and PJ’s
  • grabbed the small child’s hairbrush and body lotion

THE BATH EXPERIENCE WAS ALL SET UP AND READY TO GO!

Basically ALL my husband had to do was hold the baby so he wouldn’t drown and simply wash him off! I had prepared everything in advance for the task of bathing the baby.  Honestly, there were times when I’d think… I may as well have given the kid the bath myself.

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It’s a very simplistic story, I know, but it illustrates how God prepares in advance what we are to do. He made us so he knows what we are hard-wired to do. You are his handiwork/poem and he has things prepared and He is good. So I implore you, don’t get your undies in a bunch.

Back to the night of my study…

It seemed to become holy ground for me. As women chimed in, we helped each other see the way God has formed us, it was beautiful to witness. We read from 1 Corinthians 12 about the body and how we are not the same. We are different parts of the body with different gifts, all with the same Spirit.

One of the reasons I am on the planet is to help people celebrate their significance and the genius of God in them, so as you might imagine, I was so pumped about the way the evening about MISSION took SHAPE.

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So let me ask you. What is your purpose or mission? What are you SHAPED to do? How have you been shaped by God? This “SHAPE” concept is not mine, but it’s one of the chapters of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  Perhaps you’ve read it. Do you know your shape?

SHAPE:

  • S- Spiritual Gifts
  • H- Heart-
  • A- Abilities
  • P-Personality
  • E-Experiences

Think about your SHAPE. Whether you do extensive work to write down, reflect and pray or only have time for a cursory glance here, it won’t change the fact that you have been shaped, by God, on purpose for a purpose.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, whether you play an instrument or make spreadsheets, whether you have the gift of wisdom, teaching, or hospitality, all of your days and painful experiences help define your purpose. You are shaped on purpose for a purpose.

There never has been anyone on this planet like you and there never will be again. You are uniquely created by God. You are His poem, His masterpiece! The way you are shaped helps define more clearly your purpose and mission.

Since I love to help people celebrate their significance and the genius of God in them, I was LIT UP and thrilled the other night.  I was among world changers! Check out who was seated with me:

  • A comedian and compassionate helper of the weak.
  • A sold out university student resolved to follow Christ and call her generation to holiness and to be the best version of herself.
  • A nurse who wears, like Jesus,”the towel” of a servant with style.
  • A wise teacher who ignites people’s hunger for God’s word as they learn to feed on the word of God themselves.
  • A woman sent by the Holy Spirit to the masses.
  • a children’s author called to implore others to “cease striving” and rest in God’s faithfulness.

The key is our memory verse. Ephesians 2:10  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We’re NOT all alike! That’s the beauty of the way God designed the body. Know this!  I celebrate your significance and the genius of God in you!

So go out BOLDLY in your shape, living your life on purpose!

I Corinthians 12:4-27 for your consideration:

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.

God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.
The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.
10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.
11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
One Body with Many Parts
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.
16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.
21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,
24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.
25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 

 

 

We are Wired for Connection

I have had a rich week. I am super relational, a true people person, and I know that about myself. I will choose people over tasks anytime. This week has been quite unusual though because it was people packed.

We are all wired for connection and we need it for many reasons and I believe it’s  beneficial for the soul. Of course, it’s important to rest and practice silence and solitude, too and I practice those disciplines as well.

Yet I am equally convinced people are in desperate need of human connection because we are wired for it. But many people aren’t aware of how isolated they have become. Isolation is a strategy of the enemy of our soul and its so insidious.

One connection was with my dear friend Dana. I was eager to meet for a face-to-face conversation. We devised a plan to meet at a local coffee shop I had suggested. Dana leads a full life and I hoped that she remembered our plans.  So, before heading out, I texted her to confirm and warn her that I may be a tad late. This is the text string:

fullsizeoutput_95d5 I arrived a few minutes before she did so I grabbed a seat in the back, where we could visit comfortably. I laughed because when she sat down we chatted only for a couple of seconds before Dana, who is hyper aware of her surroundings, got distracted.  We have that in common. I mean that in a good way. Dana is amazing at room decor and making the environment beautiful and pleasing.

She was distracted for a few minutes as she looked around and drink it all in. I made her laugh when I told her she was as flighty as me!  SQUIRREL!

She quickly spun her head around to canvas the walls and saw a few things I had missed. “Oh, boy!  Look at those up there!” She exclaimed.

“Oh, golly I didn’t even notice those three and I’m usually pretty observant.” I admitted.4k+piDrVQB2wBjmjiyVUqQ

We reconnected right off the bat and rattled away as we shared life stories. We talked about the real stuff, ” Sorry, to interrupt you Dana, I’m planning to lauch a podcast and it is going to be this kind of stuff…conversations and interviews and may have portions of some of my talks from time to time. I told her the title and said, “I’m going to want to interview you for sure.”

“Oh, “Rache,” she said through laughter, “I’d probably be better off if I didn’t know we were recording!”

She took a sip of her coffee and eyeballed me a second. I scooped up my phone to snap this shot because she is so dear to me. (I didn’t know until later I’d blog and use it.)

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We covered:

  • hormones
  • birthdays and aging
  • social media
  • God’s faithfulness and surprises
  • husbands
  • grown children
  • dear mutual friends
  • our upbringings
  • ministry
  • vacations
  • dreams
  • decorating

It didn’t matter to us that there were two ladies in close proximity, nor an elderly couple who later took their spot. We also had two mama’s with three pre-school boys who ate their macaroni and sandwiches at the booth a foot from us. It didn’t even phase us we just talked above their high-pitched voices and weren’t bothered by their constant activity. We basically closed that back section of the shop down.

It was a beautiful connection. Connection is essential. We are wired for it.

So in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:5

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.  Proverbs 17:17

Dana has been such an encouragement to me in my life, ministry and during hard trials in life too. I sometimes begin my texts to her this way: Hey, Barnabas! She is one of many, who play the role of Barnabas, an encourager, in my life and I am incredibly grateful.

Because we are wired for connection and life gets busy, let me challenge you to call or text someone now. Set up some meetings next week with a few different people. Make sure your “meeting” has no agenda, just be together, simply catch up on each other’s lives. You’ll both be glad you did. Sometimes someone just needs to initiate.

To prove the “SQUIRREL!”easily distracted thing I mentioned earlier, I was mid sentence when Dana’s brow crinkled a bit, she squinted briefly and gasped. “There are acorns on your chair! Look behind you. See ’em?”

She was right. Two acorns adorned the chair I was seated in. “Stay put, I’m gonna take your picture” she demanded.

IMG_4354Because the chair was topped that way, she curiously investigated the bottom of the upholstery to see what kind of legs my chair had. I lifted the skirted pieces to expose the legs. She discovered, “Oh, well they’re just normal wooden ones.”

We had a ball together! We showed our photos of places we’d been. We testified of the ways God had been blessing us with serendipitous moments and the personal ways He has been revealing Himself lately.

After we thanked God for His goodness and the gift of friendship, the barista took this photo at our request. The minute she snapped the photo I knew what I wanted to blog about. I want to blog about how we are wired for connection. 

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We hugged and I headed to my car. As I began to fastened my seat belt, I noticed the clock. It read 2:00! WHAT? 

My seat belt went CLICK and my phone went DING as I received this text from Dana:

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We are wired for connection for sure! So how about you? May I reiterate my earlier suggestion? How ’bout you jingle someone’s line and see if they’d like to get together. Your week needn’t be as people packed as mine, but your life will be richer with human connection, I’m convinced of it. Go ahead, you can be the one who initiates.

BTW: You could also check out Dana’s amazing things on her website: https://burlychic.comI plan to connect with her sometime soon, Lord willing, when I get the podcast going and you can listen in on our conversation. Stay tuned!